Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Read My Writing: Change the World

If you want to change the world,
pick up your pen and write.
~Martin Luther

It's my new favorite quote that I found three weeks ago. I have it written, in my hand, on a dry erase board in my office. It gives me hope.

When I was 17, I thought I could change the world. No, I really thought I could. I even declared such on a college scholarship application. However, decades later, my inner mantra has faded like my eyesight. I'm a bit jaded. I wonder if life is passing me by on this change-the-world thing. I've read Revelation and I know who the world-changer is and how it's all going down.

In the meantime, before the Apocalypse occurs, this new favorite quote is dwelling in my psyche and changing my pessimistic perspective. Can I really effect change at this late date? If I can't go somewhere and fight injustice in person, could my writing deliver the TKO necessary to right the wrong? Is Martin Luther correct? Do I dare dust off my buried, deflated dreams and put my pen to work?

This week in reading your writing, I came across a post with a link to an article that reinforced the concept of how powerful the written word is. I am changed having read it.

Wendy, who serves in Japan, linked her readers to the blog post, "After Shocks," by Philip Yancey, that gives his account of the aftermath of the tsunami that hit Japan on March 11, 2011. Like Martin Luther, Philip Yancey is quite influential in his writings. This week, he unknowingly becomes our mentor.

By reading his post, I would like to point out several things Mr. Yancey does that could make your writing effective as you tell your global stories.

1. He educates and reminds the reader with his research and use of facts. He sets the stage by reporting in the first few paragraphs the details of the tsunami; he brings in scientific principles throughout the article; he accurately reports the numbers of deaths, locations, debris totals.

2. He then weaves in the human side of the tsunami with stories, quotes, and photos. Note how these personal stories are written: not over the top, no excessive use of adjectives. The reader is not manipulated by the writer; she is moved by the simple telling of the story.

3. He personally enters in throughout the course of the post...and writes with the hope of changing the world: "May we not forget Japan."

I would love to read about what's happening in your corner of the globe with stories written like Mr. Yancey's. Although he crafted his post to end with a call to action, I think I came to that conclusion somewhere in the middle of the article.

Good writing stirs our hearts, daresay, changes us and the world we live in.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Read My Writing: Generosity of Spirit

I don't know why generosity always amazes me. When I experience it, I find myself reveling in a state of disbelief. When I see it happen to another, I am shocked and delighted and a little jealous. Even though my Father is the one with a thousand cattle grazing on the hill, I still forget His generosity is never-ending. The world that envelopes me is competitive where the getting and the giving are usually quite measured. I succumb to believing generosity is in short supply.

Something special is happening on this blog; you all are amazing me with your generosity of spirit. It was after I put a call out for articles that I noticed. One woman wrote in suggesting another's blog post for publication. I was transformed by that one simple act of generosity. I checked out her recommendation. [It was quite good. We published it.] And then I clicked over to her blog. [It was quite good. We published one of her posts too.]

As I was reading the blogroll today, I noticed the same generosity of spirit through your comments to one another. There is a network of mutual encouragement happening weekly. Let's keep perpetuating this life-giving and inspiring spirit. I love to read your posts about the ministries you are involved in; by the very nature of your work, you are generous. But what defines "generosity of spirit" best to me is when you write encouraging comments about what one of your writing colleagues posted. This type of currency is priceless, and I must admit, in short supply. There is nothing more lonely than "0 Comments" beside a well-written, heart-on-a-sleeve post.

Let's not leave each other dangling. When you read good writing, be generous. Comment. Share. Like. Submit. One small act of kindness in my Inbox awakened something in me: generosity. My little measured heart is enlarging each time I release it. I wonder, though, if I will ever lose my amazement.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Read My Writing: Six Tips for Writing Entrancing Titles

I love writing titles. It is a challenge to craft a gate that readers will want to open and walk through. Many of the articles published in the onlineMagazine and now, Connection, have been re-titled to create a more compelling entrance to the valuable literary efforts of its writers.

Here are six of my favorite ways to create titles:

1. I read the entire article and try to find a phrase that pops out. At the IRL* blog, Jamie Jo comes up with some phrases in her posts that are uniquely her. I usually play off her voice and originality to draw in readers. For example: Is There Some Hip New Way? came from a question she posed in the body of her post or Computer-induced ADD, a JJ original diagnosis to a cultural behavior she is afflicted with.

2. I like to twist a well-known phrase, song or book title:

3. I like to be tastefully provocative. Two cover stories in the onlineMagazine come to mind:

4. I capture the essence of the article and put it in the title, appealing and pulling on the reader's emotional heartstrings: Kidnapped! or Furlough Grocery Tears.

5. I try to keep my titles short and to the point. Being on Twitter helps immensely with developing this skill.

6. If your article/post gives your readers some tips, or promises to make their life easier, or explains something they might need or want to know, put that beneficial promise in the title:

Finally, put yourself in the reader's shoes. Look at the current titles of your blog posts in your archives. Are they entrancing? Would you want to click on them? In the weeks ahead, put an extra measure of effort into writing titles for your blog posts. Take some risks; try one of the tips and see if more readers come to your blog through the gateway of a well-crafted title.


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