Betty’s Tips

Happy Summer, Dear Readers,

Summertime, and the livin’ is easy. We enjoy our long days, cook-outs, pool parties, having Brussel and Broccoli home for school vacation, and, of course, working in my garden, getting dirt under my fingernails. Ah, summer. At long, long last. What could be better?

Well, for me, my writing productivity could be better. Despite my best intentions, I have written too few words so far this summer. Certainly, the demands of my kids and my garden consume time, but I have had productive writing summers before. This year, for some reason, I find the joys of summer deprive me of my muse. She flees at the first notes of songbirds, vanishes in the smoke of campfires, buries herself in the seashore sands. How could she? How dare she? But, most important, what can I do about it? How can I coax her back to my shoulder, whispering sweet plot points into my ear?

I know I am not the first writer to have been so abandoned, so I have spent some time seeking the wisdom of . . . the masters and found inspiration! I am happy to share it with you on the chance you are stuck, too.

The first question I needed to answer was what is this thing we call writer’s block? I found a definition on Wikipedia, although I can’t say it gave me much reassurance. Then I found that its very existence is debated by authors themselves at Is It Real? 25 Famous Writers on Writer’s Block.  

For practical advice, nothing beats these suggestions from Purdue: 7 Ways to Overcome Writer’s Block. I had never heard of the Pomodoro Technique before, had you?

This Stephen King Quote Could Cure Your Writer’s Block gives us much more than just his inspirational quotation. It examines it—and even gives us a bit of a kick in the behind from Zig Ziglar that I need to remember.

Here are 23 Essential Quotes from Ernest Hemingway About Writing. Although not all pertain to writer’s block, some are exactly what I needed to hear. I must say, however, that I do not know how he accomplished #5. It’s something I cannot do myself—and something other authors do not recommend.

The Paris Review has kindly excerpted On Writer’s Block: Advice from Twelve Writers for us. From this I learned that it’s not a universal problem, but that I am not alone in my predicament and that there is hope, even for me!

Some really famous authors, I’ve discovered, really had it bad, as described in 10 Cases of Extreme Writer’s Block. But when they wrote, wow, they were really something! Writer’s Block: Exploring the Cause and the Cure can help you avoid it before it starts.

This video of 8 Writers Facing the Blank Page has actually convinced me that perhaps I shouldn’t think so much about writer’s block. How cool to think of the blank page, as Margaret Atwood said, that it “beckons you in.” Or to listen to Philipp Meyer, who said, “your critic has to be turned down to zero.” Perhaps it is more a question of psychology as described in The Psychology of Writer’s Block (And How to Overcome It).

Okay. I think I’m ready to get back to my writing. Perhaps I’ll even join Camp Nanowrimo—a summer writing adventure from those who bring us National Novel Writing Month each November. How about you? Perhaps I’ll see you there!

Happy summer writing, everyone.

Betty Wryte-Goode

Betty Wryte-Goode is a writer and mother who lives in the Lehigh Valley. Her passions include writing, reading, shopping, gardening, and exploring the internet. Betty is always looking for writing tips, so if you have any you would like to share, please send them to her through our Submissions/Contacts page.


Mixed-Up Words of the Month

Emigrate vs. Immigrate

There is much discussion these days about refugees and immigration. As thorny as those problems are, it can be nearly as confusing to use the right word when describing those moving from one country to another. This springs from the fact that one moving from one country of residence to another is both emigrating and immigrating. But first, let’s define the terms:

To emigrate is to leave a home country with the intention to permanently reside in another country. This is most appropriately defined as “to go” or “to leave”; e.g., “My cousin emigrated from India for America to take the helm of a high-tech firm.” A good memory aid is that the “E” in emigrate can also stand for “Exit.”

To immigrate is to enter a country other than one’s homeland with the intention of permanently residing there. This is most appropriately defined as “to come”  or “to enter”; e.g., “The owner of the wonderful Brazilian restaurant on Main Street immigrated to the U.S. in 2009.” To help you remember, think of the “I” in immigrate as also standing for “In.”

“Migrate” is the base of both words, but the Latin prefixes make all the difference. IM- means “in” (so immigrate is migrate in), while E- means “out of” (so emigrate is migrate out of).

You might hear that one emigrates “from” but immigrates “to,” but it’s not as simple as that. Both words describe leaving one country to live in another, but it is really the point of view of the speaker or writer that matters. One looking at the move from the first country of residence would see the move as emigrating, whereas someone from the new country would see the same action as immigrating. E.g., “I was so sorry when my brother decided to emigrate to New Zealand, leaving our ancestral home in Chicago.” Here one emigrates, despite use of the preposition “to” because of the speaker/writer’s point of view. The speaker would not say they were sorry to see their brother “come” to New Zealand, rather they are sorry to see him “go.”

Putting it all together should be easy, right? “The so-called “Potato Famine” caused many Irish families to emigrate their homeland, many of whom immigrated to the United States.”

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