4 Reasons to Act Like a Sponge

My Sponge

Act Like A Sponge

Read, read, read.  Then write, write, write!

If you want to write well, you must read and develop your own style. You need to act like a sponge, soaking up books on writing techniques. My writing career began when I wrote my name on the wall with my mom’s bright red, lipstick at age three. Communication is a chore in any walk of life. We write white papers, create advertisements, and make speeches, all requiring exceptional writing skills.

When I decided to write full time, my sponge-like existence grabbed me worse than when I was a child, taking books with me to the movies. I continue to read to see how famous and infamous writers create their works of art. I am recommending four books for you about writing. If you want to write for publication, whether it’s articles, a fiction or non-fiction book, I hope you will read all four. The internet offers a wealth of books, videos and pod-casts for study.  I’m recommending books I read and love.

 Books on Writing Style

  1. “You’ve Got a Book in You”Elizabeth Sims

Ms. Sims writes and edits for Writers Digest, created the Lillian Bird crime novels and “…Book in You” in 2013. Down to earth, a bit a humor and reality are the bones of the book, covering many aspects of writing.

  1. “A Writer’s Coach: The Complete Guide to Writing Strategies That Work”-Jack Hart

Mr. Hart writes from a journalist’s point of view. He is conservative and professorial in his style. His viewpoint shows the reader insight into the mechanics of writing. I could not find a website for him.

  1. “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft”-Stephen King

Mr. King’s shares fascinating stories of rise to fame through personal angst and funny stories. He began writing this book about the time of his serious accident. Although I’m not a Stephen King fan, I was hooked from the start.

  1. “Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life”-Ann Lamott

Ms. Lamott’s book, introduced to me by a friend in my writers’ group, inspires me more than the rest, as I envy her style and honesty about the fear in writing. Although I found the book a bit long, I’m glad I own this book and will use it as a reference repeatedly.

Your Style

If you want to improve your writing, I urge you to make time to think about your style. Peruse the bookstore or online resources. Look online or at your local library for books on style and stay focused. Soak yourself in the muddy, dingy waters of writing. When my writing sponge is dry, I figure my coffee cup will be empty and my pen (or computer) won’t work any longer.

I list books for you on my website tab “MORE Books.” Please click for a direct link to low prices for them. I’ll be listing more of my favorites for your reading pleasure.



Interpreting the Feedback

Interpreting the feedback helps!

Interpreting the feedback helps!

I finished writing the latest manuscript before Christmas. After several more times of re-editing, I came to THE END for the 49th time. Now it’s time to find readers to provide feedback for the next steps in the process.

Several months ago I wrote an article titled Writing a Resume is Like Writing a Novel. A few weeks after Christmas I carefully chose six readers to provide feedback before sending it to the editor. The results are “in” and I thought you might find the comments interesting, as you may want to write a resume or an article or a book one of these days.

Reader Comments

Reader 1-the engineer/recruiter; he provided short, pithy comments, including “too much description. Just get to the bottom line.”

Reader 2-a Presbyterian minister; he gave it thumbs up, encouragement and positive comments, but not much constructive feedback.

Reader 3-a female software engineer; her feedback helped immensely, especially by suggesting jazzier titles for the chapters. I agreed with her ideas, as my titles were boooorrrrrinnnng.

Reader 4-a retired CFO; he provided in-depth feedback, taking great care to be diplomatic. Little did I realize, he’s written many papers and articles about his ancestors. His thorough comments focused on wanting more data and better transitions.

Reader 5-a lawyer who is preparing to write novels; “not enough description. I didn’t read the whole book as you need to embed far more description.”

Reader 6-an HR consultant; never responded.

If you read the former article I wrote about resumes and writing a book, I should not have been surprised by the variety of comments. All the comments provided insight. I began the re-writing,  just as you would, but I freaked out, thinking I should trash the document. Then I came to my senses with a little self-talk saying, “Ruth, no one told you to throw it away. Keep moving forward.”

Take notice the lawyer’s comments are quite relevant to anyone seeking a job or writing for publication. You must grab attention from the start, or the reader stops quickly, even if the total document would knock someone’s socks off.

Over the past weekend, I wrote the words “THE END” again, after re-writing the manuscript once more. I sent it to the editor, whom I found on LinkedIn. I targeted someone who could help with both the punctuation, grammar, and spelling, as well as give me valid, constructive feedback based on her solid background in writing and publishing before submitting it to a publishing company. I’m excited, nervous and eager to see what she says.

This new book I want to publish is not about careers, my regular platform, but a creative non-fiction story, telling how my travels impacted my career and life journey. Yes, writing a book is a little like looking for a new job. Scary but full of learning and growing, often feeling like living in a dark cloud, searching for a door where maybe, just maybe, the light will shine.

Writing a Resume Is Like Writing a Best Seller

thumbs up

Thumbs up for a winning resume.

Lighting struck me last week when I attended a fabulous writing conference in Portland, Oregon. I had the good fortune to hear Luke Ryan*, who was Executive Producer for “Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle.”  His impressive career in the film industry is relevant to writers.  He knows how to choose a great story.

Writing your resume is like writing a best seller, which could eventually be a blockbuster movie. Writing an extraordinary resume could eventually find you the best job of your life. Here are points for you to ponder to make your resume a “winner.”

Summary:  “Your log line needs to say it all concisely and quickly.”
Use action words: “Make it real.”
Duties/ responsibilities: “What is your story? What genre is your book?”
Accomplishments: “Correct the flaws, solve the conflict.”
Limit words to 1000: “Would someone want to read it?”
Focus, focus, focus: “Bake the theme into your work.”
Grab attention: “Show the right way to live through with your character (YOU).”
Downplay what is not important: “Subplots shouldn’t be an additional story.”
Customize it for your reader: “Make it all come together.”

Mr. Ryan shared funny, relevant stories to help the audience. He didn’t try to sell himself, but gave excellent content that demonstrated he knows what he’s saying. He awakened our emotions to the fact that it’s not just a story, but the emotional impact on the audience, which is critical.

win the award

Will your resume win the job?

What emotional impact will your resume have when the possible new employer reads your resume? Will he or she say when opening your resume, “Crap! I don’t need another detailed, over-qualified engineer.” Or will the response be, “Wow, this guy has the credentials and experience we need for the job!”

Read your resume. Would you want to work with the person on that resume? Is he or she outstanding or not? Employers want exceptional employees. Your resume content must garner attention for winning an academy award… or a remarkable, well-suited job!

Now go revise that resume! Make it resonate!

*Also involved in Valentines Day, Halloween, The King’s Ransom and other film endeavors.