Showing posts with label writing practice. Show all posts
Showing posts with label writing practice. Show all posts

Is Writing Skill Better Than Talent?


 By Karen Cioffi, Children's Ghostwriter

 I read a very interesting paper, Innate Talent: Myth or Reality? by Lynn Helding. It delved into whether you can truly succeed, become extraordinary in your field without innate talent.

It got me thinking of writing among other things, such as musicians and mathematicians.

-Do some writers have an innate ability (talent) to create amazing and memorable stories?

-Do the words just flow onto the page with less effort than the average writer?

-Can a writer with an innate ability come up with storylines when needed without staring at the computer or pulling their hair out?

-If you don't possess that innate talent, can you become a skilled writer and produce works as outstanding as someone who has talent or is gifted?

Bottom line, does practice and HARD work make up for innate talent?

While I'm not an expert in the field, in my humble opinion, I believe that people do possess certain innate abilities, whether that be talent, physical prowess, agility, exceptional intellect, or something else.

With that said, and aside from physical attributes, I don't believe the lack of an innate talent in a particular area limits anyone from excelling in that area.

Jeff Goins in his article, The Truth About Natural-Born Talent, agrees with this. "Certainly, there may be some amount of natural talent for some abilities. But as Geoff Colvin pointed out in his book Talent Is Overrated, if talent does exist, it doesn’t really matter."

Goins goes on to say that it's all about hard work, practice, consistency.

In an article at Fortune Magazine, Secrets of Greatness, it pretty much states the same thing. "You do not possess a natural gift for a certain job, because targeted natural gifts don't exist. You are not a born CEO or investor or chess grandmaster. You will achieve greatness only through an enormous amount of hard work over many years. And not just any hard work, but work of a particular type that's demanding and painful."

Even the paper I mentioned at the beginning of this article concludes that innate talent is not what creates greatness. It's the time, effort, and work one puts into a career.

On the flipside, in the Fortune Magazine article, Warren Buffet said that he was, "wired at birth to allocate capital." The article does note that Buffet devoted his life to studying his field.

What's super-interesting in that article is the research shows that a lot of people who work hard for decades in a particular field may not achieve greatness.

The researchers found that it takes 'deliberate practice' and consistency to make the difference, to take one's performance to the elite status.

As I mentioned, I do believe that some people do have something, an innate talent or physical attribute, that may make writing, playing an instrument or sports, or excelling in the business world come easier and allows them to become extraordinary in that area.

One perfect example is the 7'2 basketball player. Won't it naturally be easier for him to make a slam dunk than a 5'10 player could? But on the flipside, imagine that 7'2 guy trying to do gymnastics.

I guess the physical attributes may play more of a factor than innate talent. As research is showing, an average person can become great with hard work, deliberate practice, and consistency.

The innate talent may get the individual started and it may initially be easier for him, but, some with an innate talent won't go on to greatness or develop expertise without putting in the work and time.

What do you think?

This article was first published at: Writing Skills Vs Talent


Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children’s author and children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and coach with clients worldwide. She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of Writers on the Move and an author online platform instructor with WOW! Women on Writing.

Karen’s children’s books include Walking Through Walls and The Case of the Stranded Bear. She also has a DIY book, How to Write Children’s Fiction Books. You can check them out at:


Short Story Benefits


Short Story Benefits by Deborah Lyn Stanley

Writing short stories is a great way to build skills and enrich our writing practice. Many writers use short story writing to develop a strong style and voice.

Free writing is a useful method for starting. Use prompts if you prefer. Anticipate that you will hit a kernel you can develop; go on with it and choose an inspiring image that relates. Paste the image to the top corner of your first page as a thumbnail. It will help you focus and to ignite your story.

Writers garner income from competition wins, and selling short stories to magazines. Competitions and Magazines expect short stories to be fiction. If you have a personal experience you want to use, fictionalize it.

Story starters or prompts work your imagination. You can use images, nouns from your life’s journey, nouns from the dictionary, or historical events; ex. While traveling to a new job, in a new town, he gets lost in unknown territory—a forest or desert, etc.

Now Write! Add structure, characters, descriptions, setting, dialogue to your story. You might select your characters based upon people you know. Describe interesting traits, habits, and looks---but mix it up so they are fresh characters. Stories are expected to have a crisis, a defining moment, that changes a character’s life or perspective forever. Build it.
(Check out Now Write: )

Stories love structure!
The links below help empower your storytelling adventure!

Mia Botha, Writers Write

How to Write a Short Story That Captivates Your Reader, Jerry Jenkins

And my review:
How To Write Short Stories and Use Them to Further Your Writing Career by James Scott Bell,
a Book Review

Each chapter of this book broadens our knowledge and paints an exciting picture for growth through short story writing. Its focus is crafting stories, fundamentally strong; flash fiction, short stories, or book length. It includes samples of five short stories to emphasize key points of structure that identify and analyze the strength of each story. Best of all, the book encourages writing short stories; it will improve our writing.
The author’s intent is to strengthen writers for a lasting career of productivity and publication. I used the book to learn the keys to story structure and to help me develop viable story ideas.

I recommend this helpful, instructive book to enhance our writer’s journey.

Deborah Lyn Stanley is an author of Non-Fiction. She writes articles, essays and stories.
She is passionate about caring for the mentally impaired through creative arts.
Visit her My Writer’s Life website at:   
Visit her caregiver’s website:

Mom & Me: A Story of Dementia and the Power of God’s Love is available:
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What is a Chapbook?


What is a Chapbook? by Deborah Lyn Stanley

Chapbooks (also called booklets), were first available in Europe; coming on the scene in the 1500s. They made literature available to everyone, because they were inexpensive to produce and to buy.

Chapbooks are 20-40 pages long, folded lengthwise sheets of 8.5 X 11” size paper, bound with a saddle stitch or staples. Some small publishers handle this size publication, but they are easily self-published using Microsoft Word.

Items to consider:
1.    Low-cost to produce, low-price point,
2.    Often used to compile poetry thematically,
3.    Chapbooks have been linked to self-publishing,
4.    Chapbooks, highly regarded within the literary world are great for a sampling or to introduce your works of poetry & short stories,
5.    Provide a great way to publish a series of blog posts,
6.    Chapbooks work to establish your name & reputation as publishers watch to add fresh voices.
7.    Distribute your chapbook for sale or free following an open mic reading event.
8.    Enter a contest for Chapbooks.
9.    Design your own front and back cover.
10.  Last but not least: prepare your chapbook as a pdf and distribute it via your blog, website or digital publisher (Draft 2 Digital, KDP etc.).

Ideas popping?
Inspired to Draft a Chapbook?
I sure hope so!

Check out the following for additional information and How-Tos:
How to Make Your Own Chapbook by Writers Write:

Train River

Create a Booklet in Microsoft Word by TechGramma - Julie Pfeifer

Deborah Lyn Stanley is an author of Creative Non-Fiction. She writes articles, essays and stories. She is passionate about caring for the mentally impaired through creative arts.
Visit her My Writer’s Life website at:   
Visit her caregiver’s website:

Mom & Me: A Story of Dementia and the Power of God’s Love is available:

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Growing Your Writing Practice

By Deborah Lyn Stanley

We’ve been writing and developed certain habits. Maybe this is a good time to improve our practice, or even call it our custom: our personal way of working.

First, let’s list the reasons why we write.
1.    To explain what happened and why it matters,
2.    To hold dear things that would otherwise be lost through the passage of time,
3.    To embrace the writing process for personal discovery, to make sense of things,
4.    To stretch our imagination and write more creatively,
5.    We make connections as we write and see more clearly, because it’s greater than just us.

Second, what stalls our process, or what holds us back?
1.    Expectations of perfection break our stride,
2.    The critic inside cripples with thoughts of  “you’re just not good enough”,
3.    Creativity is a vulnerable place, under attack it breeds anxiety and then we flounder at the keyboard’s blank page

To grow confidence and build a stronger writing life, let’s further develop our everyday custom and practice of working.
1.    Give yourself a special place to write, for just writing: A place of quiet, a place to listen, and a place of inspiration with a view window.
2.    It’s a place that speaks of “well-being” that surrounds you with your favorite books and reference materials.
3.    Include a keepsake that grounds you in the positive, to reflect on the best moments of life.
We need that positive energy to spark our creativity and develop our thoughts.

What changes can you make to your writing space to give you more energy and creativity?

We want to share our work. Only do so to the right person, ideally someone of similar nature, who respects and appreciates you.

It seems a common occurrence with writers to think they are in good company. You share your article or story, and the crusher follows. It happened to me too. I read my essay in a quaint critique group and the leader crushed, distorted and joked as feedback. I quit writing for a few weeks until I realized what was going on, pulled up my bootstraps, bowed out of the association graciously, then continued writing. It seems we need these kinds of experiences to discern what, why and with whom to connect.

Consider joining a group or organization of writers for support, companionship, and ideas, while nurturing your writing. It has to feel right, chemistry matters. Then be specific when you share your work by asking for exactly what you want. Some feedback is on point and strengthens your work; others are just bad advice or resemble a “takeover”. Learn, by experience to judge what is of value to you and what is not.

It’s A Journey We Are On, A Journey Of Discovery,
Practice and Process, Always Learning  


Deborah Lyn Stanley is an author of Creative Non-Fiction. She writes articles, essays and stories. She is passionate about caring for the mentally impaired through creative arts.
Visit her My Writer’s Life website at:   
Visit her caregiver’s website:

Mom & Me: A Story of Dementia and the Power of God’s Love is available:


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Creative Writing Practice


 Creative Writing Practice by Deborah Lyn Stanley

At a loss for story ideas? How about randomness to boost you into new patterns of ideas?
1.    Open a book to any page, choose a word from the first sentence.
2.    Open another page in the same book and choose a word from that first sentence.
3.    Put your two words together — imagine a story or a poem.

Today, we’ll look at two creative writing strategies.
Writeriffic II written by Eva Shaw

Following a class through, I purchased Writeriffic II to continue creative writing studies, increase my self-confidence, and to find my writer's voice.

It is a great little book full of gems and encouragements throughout Chapters 1-19. Then practice follows with creativity assignments in Chapters 20-54—assignments designed for fun, taking risks and writing creatively.
Via Assignment #21, I wrote a fun story choosing Cinderella and Robin Hood as my protagonist duo. I added 10 words found in the dictionary—words new to me, ones I don’t commonly use.
It’s fun—try it!

Writing the Wave by Elizabeth Ayres

Elizabeth presents her creativity formula for building original creative writing projects through fun steps to gather story ideas.

As you work through the book, as I am, you will become aware of various techniques to generate raw writing material in layers. You will use boxes, lists, circles, step by step.

Then focus on our viewpoint choice and use it to launch into character descriptions. Thus, we’ll have raw material with potential.

As we travel though the book, we identify the main idea and develop it in an organized fashion with structure in Part 2.

With our piece in progress, we move on to Part 3 and troubleshooting the issues that have come up in the usual course of a project. Polish the work by adding life and strength to our text and expressions.

Creative writing with Elizabeth Ayres is a different way of working to generate new material, whether it is articles, stories, essays or books. Elizabeth teaches a step by step; don’t skip ahead method. Sometimes her language and approach seem like a foreign language. Keep traveling, jump but keep going (as I do). There is something to learn that likely will equip for better writing and ideas.

Good practice points for a satisfying writing life:
•   Don’t wait for inspiration. Do something you love, play, it will spark ideas.
•   Set aside your best time to write for 20-30 minutes, make it an appointment and keep it.
•   Let go of perfectionism! It defeats playfulness.
•   Change things up—write by hand, write on scraps of paper, be messy, break the rules, do whatever works to stay playful!
    Forget mistakes. You can fix them easy enough on the next draft.

Just Write!
Love the Process

Deborah Lyn Stanley is an author of Creative Non-Fiction. She writes articles, essays and stories. She is passionate about caring for the mentally impaired through creative arts.
Visit her My Writer’s Life website at:   
Visit her caregiver’s website:

Mom & Me: A Story of Dementia and the Power of God’s Love is available:

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What Is Creative Writing?


by Deborah Lyn Stanley

Creative writing is any original writing that falls outside technical, journalistic or academic writing. But wait, there’s more.

Storytelling and fiction, screenwriting, songs, poetry, playwriting are considered creative writing. However, creative writing is not limited to fictional classifications. It also includes personal essays, memoirs, journals and diaries, letters and literary journalism—stories about the human experience.

Practicing creative writing is beneficial to all writers.
It helps:
•    Develop imagination and creativity
•    Organize thoughts, logically to create the plot
•    Grow confidence
•    Improves communication skills
•    Creates a change of pace and stimulates fresh ideas

So, how will we write more creatively? We grow with creative exercises that foster creative thinking & ideas. Make time for art and read well.

Art feeds our creativity—we cannot produce creative works unless we take them in. All forms of art are inspiring, so, make time for your artist’s dates. Films and books inspire story lines, and pictures or photographs can inspire a memory or story.

We must read well to write well. Try out new author’s works, go beyond blogs and social media to classical literature—there’s a wealth of written works to learn from and enjoy. I recently have found three new authors’ from the 1890s and early 1900s—my new favorites! Their well-developed stories, short or novel length, are entertaining. Gratefully, these stories are expanding my grasp of descriptive writing and character driven stories. Newspapers published serials of short stories in that day.

Nurture your creativity, take care of it, and devote time to this grand adventure. Here are a few ways to foster creative writing skills:
1.    Schedule creative writing sessions, choosing your topic ahead of time, then dive in for 20-40 minutes.
2.    Use writing prompts: one word or a theme sentence to boost your ideas and motivation.
3.    Use photographs to trigger the start of your piece. Is it a memory that promotes a story? Write it!
4.    Listen to music, get into your favorites, move and sing it out! Is it smooth and lovely, or wild and hopping fast? Write the memory or story you imagine.

Write a Page or more, Prepare an Outline or a List of Ideas—Just Get Going
Your creativity will flow.

Helpful Links:

Experiment with creative prompts.

Unusual Writing Activities That Will Boost Your Creativity by Melissa Donovan 


Deborah Lyn Stanley is an author of Creative Non-Fiction. She writes articles, essays and stories. She is passionate about caring for the mentally impaired through creative arts.
Visit her My Writer’s Life website at:   

Visit her caregiver’s website:
Mom & Me: A Story of Dementia and the Power of God’s Love

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Try This for A Creative Start to Your Day

Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, it's good to start your day with a little creative writing practice.

It gets your juices flowing—so no matter what you spend time writing the rest of the day, the writing seems to come easier.

Plus, if you try this on a regular basis, you'll get better at writing dialogue, using sensory details, and creating dramatic tension in your work.

Here's what to do.

Get a new spiral notebook and use it just for your creative writing practice.

I say "practice" because most of what you write in this notebook won't be full-fledged stories, just snippets of stories.

Still, the longer you stick with this morning writing practice, the more creative you will get.

And, after a while, you'll find that you might be writing complete stories using the prompts.

If so, good for you.

But the main purpose of the prompts is just to give you some creative writing practice every day.

Here are some visual and written prompts to help you get started:
1. "Where are we going?" Evan asked his sister.
"You'll see," she said.

2. Nathan frowned. "You never told me you had a cat," he said to Martha. "I'm allergic to cats."
3. Logan had waited all day for Lacy to text him. But there was still nothing from her. What's going on with her, he wondered.
4. Maggie sat looking out at the water. Her dog, Max, sat next to her. Her boyfriend, Richard, had dumped her this morning when they met for breakfast.
"At least you'll never leave me," she said to Max.
5. Casey wanted to keep running forever. But she knew she'd eventually have to stop running and go back home and face everyone.

First thing every morning, choose one or more writing prompts and spend just 15-20 minutes writing in response to the prompt(s).

Make a commitment to do this for one week and see what happens.

Try it!

Suzanne Lieurance is the author of over 35 published books and a writing coach. Visit her website at for more articles and resources about writing. And, for daily tips about writing, get your free subscription to The Morning Nudge at

Using Personality Typologies to Build Your Characters

  Contributed by Margot Conor People often have asked me how I build such varied and interesting character profiles. I’m fond of going into ...