Friday, January 30, 2009

be Willing to be Intentional about Deliberate word choice

We had a discussion last night at group whether the word in someone's piece should be "willingly" or "willfully", and we never came to a conclusion on which was the right word. So I took some time to look up the words, and in the process rediscovered what I believe to be one of the greatest vocabulary tools out there.

I'm not sure what the official name of it is, but it's half-dictionary, half-thesaurus. Maybe it's best explained by the example I encountered:

Synonyms of "voluntary":
These adjectives mean being or resulting from one's own free will.
  • Voluntary implies the operation of unforced choice: "Ignorance, when it is voluntary, is criminal" (Samuel Johnson).
  • Intentional applies to something undertaken to further a plan or realize an aim: "I will abstain from all intentional wrongdoing and harm" (Hippocratic Oath).
  • Deliberate stresses premeditation and full awareness of the character and consequences of one's acts: taking deliberate and decisive action.
  • Willful implies deliberate, headstrong persistence in a self-determined course of action: a willful waste of time.
  • Willing suggests ready or cheerful acquiescence in the proposals or requirements of another: "The first requisite of a good citizen ... is that he shall be able and willing to pull his weight" (Theodore Roosevelt).
From: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
Copyright © 2006 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
I love getting a list of synonyms in this format, because it illuminates the nuances of each word, and enables me to choose the perfect word for what I'm trying to convey. So, please cheerfully accept [be willing] my proposal and act to achieve your aim [be intentional] of creating a masterpiece by performing premeditated [deliberate] research into your choice of words.

So, what's your favorite tool or resource to turn to while working to improve your writing?

P.S.: I've changed my mind and now believe "willingly" is the better choice.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Where Are We? - a Writing Exercise

In my world travels, I happened upon a society that was very peculiar. I couldn’t say exactly how, but I was drawn to them. I didn’t quite fit in, but I couldn’t make myself leave either. It was very strange indeed.

Upon my arrival, I noticed that they didn’t have any hotels, motels or Inns. I wasn’t sure what to do, but I knew I was getting hungry, so I stopped at the local diner. I was greeted by everyone – workers and patrons alike. I took a seat at the bar and ordered a club sandwich with fries and a chocolate milkshake. “You might want to look at the menu, honey.” The waitress said. “We don’t serve anything like that.”

How could a diner not have club sandwiches and chocolate milkshakes? I opened the menu – it was only two pages. I looked around. Had I mistakenly walked into a health food place? No, it was a diner all right, but the only things on the menu were meat, fruits, veggies, and whole grains. “I guess I’ll have a wrap with turkey, tomato and lettuce. Could you put a little mayo on it as well.”

“What’s mayo?”

“Never mind. What do you have to moisten it a bit?”

“Oil and vinegar?”

“Okay, I’ll have that. And to drink…” I flipped the menu to the back page for a list of beverages. “I’ll have a strawberry smoothie.”

“Commin’ right up.” She said with a smile.

Once she had placed my order, she came back and introduced herself. “Names Doris, by the way. Your new around here, huh?”

“What gave it away?”

“You just passin’ though, or will you be with us for a while?”

“I was actually planning to stay for a few days, but I didn’t see any hotels.”

“What’s a hotel?”

“Are you serious? A hotel is a place that you can stay when you’re passing through a place.”

“Oh no, we don’t have anything like that. Around here, we just stay at someone’s house.”

“But, I don’t know anyone here.”
“That doesn’t matter. They’ll put you up for as long as you want. They’ll feed you too and if you need clothes or something, they can provide that.”

“How much does it cost?”

She looked at me with a bewildered expression on her face. “Nothing.”

“A stranger is going to put me up for free?”

“Yeah, how do you do it?”

“I pay for a hotel.”

“Well, then this is better, right?”

“I’ll let you know.” I was skeptical to say the least. I love my space and I was not really happy to have to live with a stranger for any length of time. “So, do I just start making random calls from the phone book, or what?”

Before I know what she was doing, Doris made an announcement to the entire diner. “Hey, folks! Does anyone have a room for this young lady?”

There were about 4 different responses. They all laughed and then calmly, very politely decided that Dominick and his wife, Lacy would be my caretakers. They sidled up next to me at the bar. I was already hating this.

We exchanged pleasantries and they left me with directions to their house and a key to the front door! They said to come and go as I pleased. My room is the first one on the right at the top of the steps. I sat and stared at them as they left the diner. I kept watching the empty doorway long after they had gone.

“Here’s your food, sweetie pie.” Doris said.
I ate in silence, trying to digest what had just happened along with my food.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Where are we?

Writing exercise:

There is a society in which all the people are godly people. They live their lives exactly the way the Bible says that they should. Then, you drop in. What do you see and hear? How do you fit in? How is it different than the world in which we are now living? How is it the same?

Feel free to post your answers here in the comments section, e-mail it to the group, or come to the mall next Thursday at 7:30 to discuss.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


In the process of downloading and reading the writings for tomorrow's meeting, I noticed that Google had very nicely put some ads related to book publishing alongside the e-mail. Well, one caught my attention and I decided to check it out.

Basically, they'll post your book to Amazon, allow you to set your own price, print it each time someone buys a copy, and seemingly all for a percentage of each sale plus the cost of one book delivered to you as your proof.

I haven't tried it yet (helps to have something written to publish), but it sounds pretty good. Of course, the one thing they're not doing is getting the word out for you, or putting on the shelves of a bookstore.

Anyone else know of or recommend other on-demand or self-publishing outfits?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


I'm going through the book "Write His Answer by Marlene Bagnull and I finally got to chapter 9 which is all about procrastination. I am a HUGE procrastinatory person!
Here are the things I do to procrastinate when I'm supposed to be writing (this is a confession):
  • organize my desk
  • make lists of things I need to do
  • check my e-mail
  • read a book about writing
  • clean

I spend my days thinking about writing, longing to write, excited about the ideas swimming around in my head. "I will write." I tell myself. "Right after this one last thing." And then I see something else, but it won't take very long so I figure right after that, the rest of the afternoon will be dedicated to my writing. But then, guess what? Yep, one more thing. And then, the day is over and I'm bloated with all the ideas that did not find their way onto my computer screen or into one of my many notebooks.

I've joked about procrastination, told myself to get over it, made resolutions to just sit down and write. I've never thought of it as sin. But, that is exactly what it is. Matt 21:28 - 32 tells the story about two brothers who were both asked by their Father to go out and work in the field. One said he would go, the other said that he would not. They both changed their minds. It doesn't matter what we say, only what we actually do.

I have been asked by my Father to go out and work (write) and I said that I would.

James 4:17 says "Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins."

Lord, I confess I have squandered my time and I have not valued my writing as You do. I know that you've called me to write. I want to stop sinning against You. Thank you for the privilege of writing Your truth into this world. Please help me with my unbelief and with my schedule. You are a real and mighty God, able to meet us right where we are. I praise You Lord, the greatest artist.

Any other procrastinators out there? What do you do to procrastinate?