The Best Gift for a Writer

by Liz Johnson, @lizjohnsonbooks

At this time of year, the internet is abuzz with suggested shopping lists. Don’t know what to get your favorite gadget lover? There’s a list for that. Not sure how to surprise the decorator on your list? There’s a list for that. Looking for something for the reader in your life? Oh, there are endless lists for them. And pretty good ones, at that.

There are even lists with gift suggestions for writers. They include lots of pretty pens, vivid notebooks, and even new laptops. And I don’t know any writer who doesn’t love those things.

But as I was thinking about what items I’d put on a gift list for writers, I realized that the best gift a writer can get isn’t one that can be purchased. And it can’t be given to them. It’s one they have to give themselves.

Patience.

I wish it was agent agreements and book deals and bestseller lists, but the truth is that none of those come without a whole lot of patience first.

When we first get started, we dream of all of the things that overnight success brings. Fame, fortune, and a recliner life. And we think that our first efforts must be worthy. After all, we know good work, right?

I love how Ira Glass, from This American Life, puts it. “All of us who do creative work get into it because we have good taste. But it’s like there’s a gap. That for the first couple years that you’re making stuff, what you’re making isn’t so good. It’s trying to be good. It has ambition to be good, but it’s not quite that good. But your taste, that thing that got you into the game—your taste is still killer.”

That disparity between what you’re creating and your taste leads to disappointment. We’ve all be there, where what we create isn’t up to the standard of what we want it to be. And some of us quit. We just give up on ever reaching the point where our art matches our taste.

And what a loss that is for the world. We have important stories to tell. So how does giving up help? But how do we get from where we are to where we want to be?

“The most important possible thing you can do is do a lot of work,” Glass says. “Do a huge volume of work. It’s only by doing a huge volume of work that you’re going to catch up and close that gap.”

And do you know what that requires? Patience.

It means writing story after story, manuscript after manuscript knowing that it might not have that special thing just yet. But also knowing that every practice, every word on a page is getting you one step closer to being the writer you want to be.

Marathon runners don’t begin by running 26.2 miles in record time. Why should writers be different? Why should we be able to create a bestselling work on our first try? It’s normal to take time to let your talents grow and strengthen. So take the time. Put in the work. Write the books. Take the classes. Study the craft.

And give yourself the gift of an unhurried, unrushed journey.

Maybe you’re already there. Maybe your book is stellar, and you can’t wait to indie publish. Would waiting until the second and third books are done be better for your marketing strategy?

Maybe you’re dreaming of traditional publishing, but the doors keep closing. Don’t give up. Keep practicing—both your writing and your patience.

Wherever you’re at in the writing journey, give yourself the best gift you can. Give yourself the patience to grow into a writer whose talent matches your taste. Give yourself the gift of a well-planned launch strategy. Give yourself the gift of pitching to that dream publisher one more time.

Patience is the gift that keeps on giving, so be generous with it all year long.

Have you given yourself the gift of patience? What did that mean for you?


On Love’s Gentle Shore

Fifteen years after she left Prince Edward Island, Natalie O’Ryan had no plans to return. But when her fiancé, music producer Russell Jacobs, books their wedding in her hometown and schedules a summer at Rose’s Red Door Inn, she sets out to put the finishing touches on the perfect wedding. But she can’t possibly prepare for a run-in with Justin Kane–the best friend she left behind all those years ago after promising to stay.

Justin’s never forgotten Natalie or the music career he always dreamed of pursuing. He’d been prepared to follow her off the island until his dad died and he was left to run the family dairy farm. He’s done the best he can with the life that was thrust upon him–but with Natalie back in the picture, he begins to realize just how much joy he’s been missing.

After Natalie’s reception venue falls through, she must scramble to find an alternative, and the only option seems to be a barn on Justin’s property. As they work together to get the dilapidated building ready for the party, Natalie and Justin discover the groundwork for forgiveness–and that there may be more than an old friendship between them.

By day Liz Johnson is the director of marketing for a Christian radio network. She makes time to write late at night—that’s when she thinks best anyway. Liz is the author of more than a dozen novels, a New York Times bestselling novella, and a handful of short stories. Her book The Red Door Inn was a Christy Award finalist, and she’s also a two-time ACFW Carol Award finalist. She makes her home in Tucson, Arizona, where she enjoys exploring local theater and doting on her nieces and nephews. She writes stories of true love filled with heart, humor, and happily ever afters. You can find her online at lizjohnsonbooks.com or on her Facebook page at Facebook.com/lizjohnsonbooks.

My Top Ten Gifts for Writers

By Pamela S. Meyers
It’s
exactly ten days until December 25th, and it’s an excellent time to
consider what you might want to gift your favorite writer with this Christmas.
Or . . . if you are a writer, what you may want to hint to find under your tree
on Christmas morning.
I’ll
start with a list of wonderful gift books for any writer of fiction and end the list with a few great gift ideas that aren’t books. I’ve linked the books to Amazon, but most are available at any on-line bookstore or through your favorite brick and mortar store.
1.  Flip Dictionary  – The description on this resource’s Amazon
page says, “You know what you want to say but can’t think
of the word. You can describe what you’re thinking but you don’t know the name
for it. Flip Dictionary solves this common problem!”  
2.   Synonym Finder – With a simple
alphabetical arrangement this book has been expanded to include thousands of
new words and expressions that have entered the language in recent years, and
includes clearly labeled slang and informal words and expressions.
3.  Emotion Thesaurus – This is one of
my favorite resources. If you want your character to feel anxious, go to the
word in this handy little book and it lists all the body language associated
with anxiety as well as the internal reactions. There are a lot of tips for
writers interspersed throughout the book as well. The authors have also come
out with two companion books, The Negative Trait Thesaurus and The Positive Trait Thesaurus. I actually prefer the Kindle edition because by keeping my tablet close to me while I write I can look up the emotion I am considering, then with a tap on the screen go to other similar emotions without having to flip through the pages.
4.  Self-Editing for Fiction Writers
The subtitle of this book is “How to Edit Yourself into Print. – Shortly after
I began seriously writing fiction this book was recommended to me. It’s been
revised and is still a best seller for writers. It’s one I often go to again and again.
5.  Revision and Self Editing by James
Scott Bell – An author in his own right, James Scott Bell not only writes
fiction he teaches how to write it. A great companion to the self-editing book
at #5.
6. Plot and Structure by James Scott
Bell – Another great writing book by Bell, especially good for plotters, but
also for pansters to help them be more of an outliner.
7. Scrivener:  Many writers swear by this software which
enables a writer to organize all his material for a project in one place. All
your research is right there and you even write your manuscript in the program
then convert it to Microsoft Word for submitting to publishers and agents.
8. Registration to a Writers Conference
– The American Christian Fiction Writers 
(ACFW) conference is the premiere conference for fiction writers because
its main focus is fiction, but there are other writers conferences that might
be better for you or the writer in your life. If you can’t swing the whole registration, why not a partial?
9. Membership to writing
organizations (highly recommend ACFW) – If you can’t afford gifting a whole
conference, why not pay for a year’s membership in an organization like ACFW?
Membership provides a host of different benefits to beginning writers as well
as multi-published authors.
10.  New laptop – Hey why not go big
and ask for a new laptop. I’m a Mac user and would love to get a Mac Air
someday. I’m always carting my laptop somewhere and my shoulder would
appreciate a lighter weight computer. There are a myriad of different styles of
laptops in either a Mac platform or a PC.
    And as a bonus suggestion go to Pinterest and check out all the fun writerly items you can get the writer on your Christmas list. 
The list
is not exhaustive. Please chime in and offer your suggestions for special gifts
for writers. Maybe share a special gift someone has given you!

Merry
Christmas everyone!

A native
of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, author Pamela S. Meyers lives in suburban Chicago
with her two rescue cats. She’s an hour’s drive away from her Wisconsin
hometown which she visits often to dig into its historical legacy. Her novels
include Thyme for Love, and Love Will Find a Way, contemporary
romantic mysteries and her 1933 historical romance, Love Finds You in Lake
Geneva, Wisconsin
. When she isn’t at her laptop writing her latest novel, she
can often be found nosing around Wisconsin and other Midwestern spots for new
story ideas.