Saturday, August 9, 2014

The secret to becoming a better writer

Do you want to be a writer, but hesitate? Do you think, “I have things to say, but I just can’t write well”? I've heard too many people say this, and I know that many times it simply is not true. I think what people mean when they say such things is simply that they don’t produce perfect first drafts. Guess what? No one does.

Being a good writer does not mean that beautiful, inspiring, grammatically perfect, fully formed sentences flow effortlessly from your fingertips whenever you sit down to write. Nor does it meant that you must endure excruciating writer's block first, but once that's out of the way  inspiration hits and those perfectly formed sentences will begin to flow.

Let me tell you a little secret, one that every successful writer knows, a secret that can make anyone a better writer. Are you ready for it? Here goes: real writing, good writing is rewriting.


Does that sound scary? Are you thinking “writing is hard enough, so re-writing will only be harder”? Then we won’t call it rewriting, we’ll call it revision. Re-vision: taking a fresh look at what you just wrote and discerning where the weaknesses are, then doing something to make those parts more effective.

The first draft is never the best draft -- in fact, very often, it may be downright lousy. (You should have seen the first few drafts of this article!) But if you take the time and effort to figure out what is making it lousy, you can make it better. Maybe it will take two, three, four, or eight drafts before you have really said what you want to say, in the way you want to say it, but when you’ve taken the time to get it right, you’ll have no regrets.  Check out the recommended reading at the end of this article for some great ideas on how to go about revising your writing.

Let’s face it, though –it’s hard to be objective about your own writing. You may have trouble seeing what’s working and what’s not, because, although you know what’s in your head, you may not realize when it doesn’t all make it onto the page. That’s when you might want a trusted friend or colleague to take a look at your draft and tell you what they find works or doesn’t, which part is boring or confusing and which part is sparkling with life and truth. Joining a writing group can help. Don’t know how to find a writing group? MeetUp is a great place to get started finding a group that meets in your area and shares your interests.

Every month the Dallas/Fort Worth Catholic Writers Group meets to give members a chance to get feedback on their writing, swap progress reports, and generally engage in mutual support and encouragement. Our next meeting will be Tuesday, August 12, at the usual time and place. Feel free to attend – we have no dues, no dress code, no secret handshake, no intimidation factor. We would love to see you there!

Want to know more about revising and rewriting? Try one of these helpful articles.
  • Revising & Rewriting, by Judy Reeves, “writer, teacher, and writing practice provocateur.” Solid advice on what to look for when revising.
  • A Month of Revision, by Matt Salesses. Most of this is just for fiction writers, but there are some wonderful nuggets here for any writer in any genre.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Curious about our group? Read on!

There's no need to go it alone.
Join us!
For the timid and the curious, here is a little information on the Dallas/Fort Worth Catholic Writers Group. We hope you will join us! Our next meeting is Tuesday, 8 July 2014.
  •  Who: The name is pretty self-explanatory: we are writers from the greater Dallas-Fort Worth area whose writing is, one way or another, fueled by our Catholic faith. Some of us write for a specifically Catholic audience, while others aim at a more general readership. But all of us write with the intention of being published, whether that be via a traditional publishing house, self-publishing, blog, online magazine, or some other publishing medium. I.e., we are not merely hobbyists, but want to get our work "out there" to be read. You will find catechists, novelists and short story writers, bloggers, people writing about their personal experiences and those who offer Catholic opinions. In other words, a little bit of everything. 
Our group is inspired by and affiliated with the Catholic Writers Guild, but members of our group need not be members of CWG (but wouldn't you like to be? Click here!). We do not charge dues, and welcome all who wish to attend our meetings.
  • What: We meet for fellowship and mutual encouragement; to share tips, information, and advice; to seek and provide feedback and critiques of our works in progress. If you have something you would like the group to critique or comment on, bring 8-10 copies.
  • When: Every second Tuesday of the month at midday throughout the year and, during the academic term, one evening a month at the University of Dallas.
  • Where: Midday meetings are held in (or immediately outside) the community room of the flagship Half Price Books store in Dallas, from 11:30 to 1:00. Feel free to bring your lunch or pick one up at the in-house Black Forest cafe. Evening meetings during the academic term are held on the campus of the University of Dallas in Irving (time and exact location may vary from one semester to another). 
  • Why: Because writing is a lonely business, and writers need support, encouragement, and human contact. Non-writers may not understand what a long, and sometimes complicated, frequently discouraging task a writing project can be. Once a month, though, writers can get together and recharge -- why not join us?
Our next meeting is Tuesday, 8 July 2014. We hope to see you there! To join our email list to get more timely notifications, email Nancy Ward.

P.S. If you really want a shot in the writing arm, you should attend the annual Catholic Writers Conference, held this year in Chicago, July 30-August 1. There is still time to register! Click here for more info.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Let's get together at the May meeting!

3 squirrels © Lisa A. Nicholas 2014
Let's get together! We saved you a place.
I don't know about you, but I'm excited about the next meeting of the D/FW Catholic Writers Group, this Tuesday, 13 May 2014. Come share your ideas, questions, and progress reports. Bring copies of your current work-in-progress for peer critique. Find out what everyone else is working on -- we always have a fascinating variety of projects going on, some quite modest, others rather ambitious, all interesting.

And remember -- any Catholic who is writing for publication (or would like to do so) is more than welcome! Come on your lunch break or in between errands; you'll find us each second Tuesday at the Half-Price Books on Northwest Highway in Dallas. We'll be at one of the tables in -- or immediately outside of -- the community room at the northwest corner of the building. Bring your lunch, if you wish, or pick one up at the in-house Black Forest Cafe. We meet from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

We hope to see you there!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Meetings this Month: April 8 and 22

butterfly on henbit, copyright © 2014 Lisa A. Nicholas
Spring is the season for
getting busy. Dust off those
writing ideas, and join us!
The Dallas Fort Worth Catholic Writers group exists to encourage and assist any Catholic writer in the area who seeks peer critique, advice, fellowship, or just help getting started writing for publication.

Our next lunchtime meeting is Tuesday, 8 April. We will meet as usual at the Half-Price Books on Northwest Highway in Dallas, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Find us in or near the community room at the northwest corner of the building.
We will meet again on the fourth Tuesday of the month, April 22, at the University of Dallas, Rm 241 of Carpenter Hall, at 7:00 p.m. Please feel free to attend either meeting, or both, and bring writing samples for critique or sharing. Let us know what you have in hand.

We welcome new and returning members -- please pass the word!

Monday, February 10, 2014

New Day for monthly lunchtime meetings

Please take note of a change in our monthly meeting schedule. Lunchtime meetings at Half Price Books in Dallas, previously held on the second Friday of the month, will be held henceforth on the second Tuesday of the month. The time will remain the same (11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.). This means the next midday meeting will be Tuesday,  11 February, at the flagship Half Price Books store on Northwest Highway in Dallas.

Our monthly evening meetings at the University of Dallas continue in the evenings of the fourth Tuesday of each month during the academic term, 7:00 to 9:00 p.m., Rm. 241 of Carpenter Hall. The next evening meeting at the University of Dallas will occur on Tuesday, 25 February. All interested Catholic writers (or aspiring writers) are invited to attend either meeting, or both. Please bring something to share about your writing -- goals, progress update, a short excerpt or blog post for critique.

See you there!


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Start the New Year Off Right -- Join Us!

It's a brand new year -- how is that list of resolutions coming along?

If one of your resolutions is to start getting serious about those writing projects you have planned, you may need a little help and encouragement to get going and stay on track. If so, why not join us at our next meeting? We will meet this Friday, 10 January 2014, as we do each second Friday,  at the Half Price Books on Northwest Highway in Dallas, from 11:30 a.m. to around 1:00 p.m. Look for us in or near the community room in the northwest corner of the building.


Feel free to bring your lunch or pick on up at the in-store Black Forest Cafe. Come and to share what you are working on, plan to get started on, or need a little help with, assured that you will get friendly feedback and encouragement. If you have something you would like to have critiqued, please remember to bring 10-12 copies to share.

We hope to see you there!

Monday, December 9, 2013

December's Second Friday Meeting

Ryan's Messy Mix, second in
Chanacee Ruth-Killgore's
Alphabet Soup series.
Congratulations to Chanacee Ruth-Killgore on the recent publication of Ryan's Messy Mix, second in her Alphabet Soup series for middle grade readers. If you have a recent, or upcoming publication, or if you would like to be inspired to do so, please come to our next meeting, this Friday, 13 December, 11:30 -1:00 at the Half Price Books on Northwest Highway in Dallas.

Area roads should be clear by then, so take some time off from your usual routine to find out what everyone has been up to, let us know about your own writing progress (or struggles), and get some feedback on your current writing project. If you have something you would like to have critiqued, please remember to bring 10-12 copies to share.

We hope to see both new and returning members. Remember, you can grab lunch in the in-house Black Forest Cafe if you like, or bring your own. Look for us in or near the community room in the northwest corner of the building.