JoAnn Reno Wray
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A Little Here, A Little There
© JoAnn Reno Wray
A Little Dab'll Do Ya'
Even taking a few minutes daily to write is important. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the “big picture”, then procrastinate your way to frustration. Writing is built line-on- line, precept-on-precept, here a little, there a little, until each drop joins to form a a flowing, living river of words.
A great river such as the mighty Mississippi, is not alone unto itself. It is formed by many far smaller rivers all joining together with the result an indomitable force.
The Great Wall of China isn't one big stone. It is formed of countless stones and even the bodies and bones of those forced into slavery to build it over the course of hundreds of years.
A great Novel isn't one big thing, any more than a magazine article is one medium thing. A great novel is like the Mississippi, formed from smaller currents of thought rushing together, bending around the curve of plot, and becoming a living force that grips and carries the reader headlong in the stream of emotion and story.
Often writers postpone writing because in our minds we, "don't have enough time." I kept hearing God’s reply in my heart, "So what's enough time for you?" Now, I take my AlphaSmart or at least notepad and paper with me to the doctor's office where I inevitably wait for 2 hours. I can work on new articles or poems, or tackle pieces already written, but need CPR. (Careful Perusal for nits and Re-evaluation)
Two hours of writing - much can be accomplished much in far less time! While someone else drives, pen dialogue, thoughts, and ideas in a notebook kept in the car. Throw a load of laundry in the washer, stick a frozen meatloaf in the oven, and set a timer to move the laundry later. Write until the timer buzzes. Head back to the dryer, check the meatloaf ,and stick in the potatoes. Reset the timer. Write again. Just don't get so engrossed you fail to hear the timer and burn dinner. Ideas for squeezing out drops of writing are endless and this kind of writing can be exhilarating, like running a word race!
JoAnn's Amazing Word Calculator
Let’s look at this more practically and use some simple math. What if you type only thirty words a minute and you can barely squeeze out thirty minutes a day, five days a week for your writing? Do you realize how much can be written?
x 30 minutes/day
x 5 days/week
x 4 weeks/ month
x 12 months/year
= 216,000 words
Raise the minutes to sixty per day. Leave everything else the same and the total leaps exponentially to 432,000 words. Or maybe you are a speedy typist, again the numbers increase.
Even if half of that time is used for market study and manuscript prep, there are more than enough words for a book – or countless articles and/or poems!
It All Adds Up
Maybe we get too caught up with the whole idea of selling "X number of articles", or "writing A BOOK" (one speaks of books in hushed tones, at least I do!).
Writing is writing. It's a process, one that is a rushing stream wherein one word leads to another until God's Spirit within you says, "This is done. Let's move on to the next story/ article/ poem."
Remember what Jesus told us about the tiny mustard seed!
On the other hand, there are many many verses in the Bible about the little things that destroy. The little foxes that kill the vines, the little sin that grows and corrupts, the moment of hesitation and holding back when clearly within is that gentle shove to move on, step upward, to stretch forth the stakes of one's tent. That inner whisper that says, “Write.”
Little things can bring gain or grief. God calls us to, saying, "Choose wisely."
What Writing Articles Teaches
© JoAnn Reno Wray
You’ve heard it before: The only worthwhile writing is for books - preferably fiction. Some writers believe their message is larger than what can fit into an article or even an article series. Sometimes writing articles or short stories is considered not worth the attempt. Why spend all that time and effort crafting 800 words when you can write a book?
For thirty years I’ve written magazine and newspaper articles, short stories and poetry. I’ve likely written the equivalent of several books, I don’t know. I do know it’s been valuable and not one jot or tittle was wasted. Further, my writing actually reached more than one or two books could ever have. A single article I wrote years ago in a small Christian business newsletter, reached over 25,000 homes. First printing for a book usually nets sales between 5000 and 10,000. I’ve never totaled how many articles, stories or poems I’ve published, but I’m sure they’ve reached thousands over the past quarter century.
What’s My Incentive?
What can you learn from writing articles? Perhaps the following list will help you see the merit of crafting articles for magazines or newspapers.
Writing articles taught me to:
• Be more succinct
• Write more tightly and vividly
• Maintain focus.
• Use more concrete and active verbs.
• Whittle down adjectives and adverbs.
• Craft smooth and effective transitions
• Cut anything not propelling an article forward.
• Employ dynamic dialogue.
• Paint scenes the reader can envision.
• Tell a story that captures reader attention.
• Write intriguing titles and headlines that sell.
From marketing articles I've learned to:
• Write an opening paragraph that grabs reader and editor alike.
• Create a thesis of my article using words depicting the five senses.
Sensual texture is important!
• Thoroughly study needs and goals of a publication.
• Understand the frustrations an editor faces.
• See editors as real people facing real issues, knowing they have
good and bad days like I do.
• View Rejections as proof I am writing and as "Pass it On to a New
• Not take rejections of submissions as rejections of me as a person.
• Not give up when I truly believe in what I've written.
• Know when a message is dead in the water, then try to salvage
what I'm able for another article.
• See the value in reprints. (Money in the bank!)
• Come to grips with any limitations.
• Improve writing and editing skills.
Everyone of these is valuable, indeed essential, in marketing a book. Soon, I hope to tackle that as well. Additionally, each of these lessons has enabled me to create and launch an Ezine that is thriving and reaching countless readers.
What are you waiting on? A whole world of articles awaits. Don't turn your nose up at what some consider small potatoes. It might just be the very thing to make you a skilled, in-demand writer.
Writing Prompts to Jump Start Your Writing Day
Pick One and Go for It!
Look in a kitchen cupboard that you seldom use. What did you find there? When was the last time you used the items you find? Why have you kept those items? Write 3 paragraphs around a memory of one or more items you find.
You are planning a vacation for your family. If you had unlimited funds, where would you go and how would you travel there? Write 4 pages on your imaginery journey describing how you are pampered and treated to every luxury you've ever dreamed of. Do you really enjoy being in the lap of luxury
or are there aspects of jumping in the family mini-van and traveling cross country that you'd miss?
Wicked weather is headed your way with high winds, huge hail, lightning, and gully-washer rains. Tornadoes bear down on your community and you have no storm shelter, or as we call'em in Oklahoma, "fraidy-holes." Imagine the scene as it plays out with the sirens wailing, the winds rocking the house, and you and the kids packed into the tub with a mattress over your heads. Set a timer for 15 minutes and write the story.
Remember that perfect summer day when you were ten-years-old? That day when you got two grape popscicles and Mom let you go to the fishin' hole with your friends and swim? Or maybe it was the day you went to the big city with your Aunt Lorraine and got your first real beauty parlor hair do. Write about that perfect summer day. Capture it's essence - the sounds, the smells, the tastes, your emotions. There's a catch though - you only have 30 minutes! Set the timer and write!
Pick a random word from the dictionary. Just open the dictionary to any page, close your eyes and point. Next, set a timer and for one minute write what ever comes to mind using that word. Don’t try to correct spelling, punctuation, or grammar. Just free-write for one minute. Repeat 5 times.
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