Tag Archives: writing how to

Slow and Steady Writing Wins the Day

When it comes to writing sometimes you can be paralyzed by the fear of not being good enough to finish that story, or write that novel, but the truth is as long as you keep the end goal in sight and

image by Stancu Alexandru via sxc.hu
image by Stancu Alexandru via sxc.hu

move forward until you’re done then you will reach your goal.

Yes sometimes it may seem like you’ll never finish that work in progress, but it’s doable if you remember that by doing a bit everyday you’ll get to where you need to be in the end.

The truth is if you’re shooting for greatness you can’t fear failure because it will rob you of your energy and you’ll sabotage yourself. No you have to be fearless in the face of adversity. Embrace the challenge of writing in new genres and using different narrative devices.

Yes this may be difficult and you might fail at your first attempts, but don’t give up yet. It takes practice to get good at anything and writing is no different.

Sure people say they want to write a book, but not many of them actually follow through on it. The truth is writing a novel is a lot like running a marathon. You have to have to warm up first and then start small and work your way up to the big race.

Most people don’t realize it takes years of reading and honing the craft before you can produce a publishable book. Sure things like National Novel Writing Month are good practice, but once it’s over people often stop working on that novel because the incentive to do so has been removed.

The truth is you have to pace yourself so that you don’t get burnt out and quit when things get tough. You have to build up your writing stamina day by day, bit by bit so that when you come to the end you’ll look back and see how you got there.

How to Find Time to Write in a Busy Life

image by Stancu Alexandru via sxc.hu
image by Stancu Alexandru via sxc.hu

Introduction
Between work, kids, running errands and other obstacles thrown our way it can be difficult to find the time to write, but if we’re serious about the craft there will always be time to write.

Pick a Time and Stick with it
This may be the hardest part because it requires you to find the time when you’re most creative and it can take a few tries before you discover the right time. For me the best time to write is first thing when I get.

For you it may be in the early hours of the morning before everyone is up or right before you go to bed. Once you discover it try to write every day at this time to build a habit.

Once you’ve committed to writing at a given time don’t stop until you’ve reached your goal for the day and then try to do a little better the next day.

Yes it can be frustrating at first when nothing comes to mind but if you persevere and come to the task with an open mind you’ll find the right words.

It Takes Less Time Than You Think to Write a Book
You need to salve away at the computer all day to complete your work in progress. Believe it or not you can get a lot done in five or ten minute sprints. If you find yourself with a little break just set a timer and write until it goes off. You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish in such a short time.

Sure it may not seem like much at first but over time the words will add up and before you know it you’ll have a complete manuscript.

Honor the Time and Space You’re in
When you write do so with all your heart and soul. Turn off your phone disable the internet and turn off the TV so it’s just you and the page. Yeah this can be scary at first when you’re focused on the task at hand it will make you more aware of what you’re attempting to do. If you absolutely need some white noise in the background turn on your favorite music and get to work.

Conclusion
Yes it can sometimes be daunting to find the time to write but if you care about the craft and are determined to get your WIP finished you’ll find the time you need to do it.

How to Stay Positive on the Journey to Publication

Introduction
Raise you hand if you’ve met someone who isn’t happy unless they’re complaining about one thing or another. We all know people like this and being around they them is taxing to say the least, but

image by Stancu Alexandru via sxc.hu
image by Stancu Alexandru via sxc.hu

today I want to talk about keeping positive amidst adversity in the writing business.

Sure when things go wrong we can complain about them until we’re blue in the face or we can pick ourselves up and keep moving forward. The choice is up to us.

Happiness is a choice
From years of experience I can tell you that while it may be difficult to maintain a positive attitude, it takes more energy to be negative and ultimately leaves you tired and bitter.

Yes writing is a hard business to break into whether you go the indie route or the traditionally published route, and at times it can seem like nothing is going right for you while some new upstart is in the lime light.

You Can Never Have Too Many Friends
Rather than treating other authors as your competition instead treat them as potential friends and reach out to them.

In this way you can build a support system of like minded people who know what you’re going through and who will keep you grounded when things get hectic.

Also you never know who you might benefit from meeting so keep an open mind when it comes to networking wit your fellow writers.

Be thankful for where you are in the writing process
Sure it might feel good to rage against the latest flavor of the week, but ultimately this is a self defeating proposition and will take your focus off your goals. Instead shrug your shoulders and move on.

Conclusion
Everyone is at different point along the writing process. Be thankful for where you are. No one can control who becomes the next best seller, and it will drive you insane questioning why some people make it wile others don’t. Instead focus on writing the best work you can. That way no matter what happens you gave it your all and no one can take that away from you.

The Dirty Little Secret About Writing

Introduction
There a million programs out there promising to teach you the shortcut to success and fame overnight. Sure the

image by Stancu Alexandru via sxc.hu
image by Stancu Alexandru via sxc.hu

re are great programs out there that will teach you a lot about the craft, but the truth is there are no shortcuts when it comes to writing.

It’s just you and a pen or laptop pounding away at your work in progress day in and day out, only to realize an even better idea on page fifty. It takes a ton of commitment and hard work to produce a readable book or blog post and even then there’s no guarantee anyone will read your work.

Dedication
Some 80% of American say they want to write a book but not many of them follow through on it. The truth is writing a book is damn hard work. It takes years of honing your craft to produce a publishable manuscript. And even if you are the one in a million who writes a book, you still have to contend with thousands of other books both traditionally published and indie/self published.

In order to stand out you need to produce the best book you can and that takes time. If you try and half-ass it this will show to readers and taint their view of our work going forward.

If you want to make it in the writing world take Stephen Kin’s advice and read a lot, and write a lot. If you don’t have time to read you don’t have the time or tools to write.

Sure it’d be nice if you were the next J.K. Rowling, E.L. James, or Stephen King, but in order to get where they are it took a ton of work, perseverance and a bit of luck. Rejection is par for the course so you need to develop a thick skin if you want to make it.

What Does Success Look Like
Say you’re the exception to the rule and your book sells well. What does this mean? Most books only sell a few hundred copies and never make back their advances.

While making it on the best seller’s list is a lofty goal, is it realistic? In 2011 alone an estimated 340,000 books were published, with 80% of them being either self published or published by small presses.

Why Write
With so much market saturation it’s no wonder many writers need day jobs to pay the bills. The truth is most writer don’t make enough to live on alone, so why write? The answer is you write for the love of it, because if you’re dreaming of making it big you may be in for a huge disappointment.

Write because it’s all you can think about. Write because a story is inside you and you can’t keep it in any longer. Write because it’s what you were born to do and nothing else will make you as happy or be as fulfilling. If you can stop writing and not miss it, then odds are writing is not for you.

Conclusions
Sure there are tips and trick to hacking headlines and producing engaging content, but it still boils down to

you sitting at your computer and getting the words on the page as often as possible. If you can’t do that then maybe you should be doing something else with your time.

Doggone Good Writing

Introduction
Are you a dog or cat person? For me I’ve found dogs make the best companions and I have had several over the years, the last one being a purebred German Shepard named Minnie who sadly got into some rat poison and died.The memories I have of each of them are fresh in my mind and got me to thinking how does this translate to writing?

Loyalty
Dogs depend on us for everything and this breeds loyalty in them. They trust us wholly and will sometimes travel hundreds of miles to find us. Likewise when dealing with readers you want to build a platform and following by producing stellar content on a regular basis. Whether you post once a week, or three times a week like me, make sure it’s on the same day around the same time so readers begin to expect it.

Love
Dogs are affectionate and crave attention. I once had a miniature Doberman Pincher named Draco who loved to take socks and hide under the table so you would chase after him. He would do this all the time and after awhile I found if I ignored him he’d lose interest and move on.

Readers are similar in that they will move on if you don’t engage them. This is why it pays to have a landing page to build your email list. Without one you may get views but not readers who will returned to your site. Having them opt in for your mailing list gives permission for you to connect with via your newsletter.

Leader of the Pack
Dogs are pack animals and look at you as members of theirs. Fail to establish dominance over them and they will run roughshod over you.

When it comes to readers in order to build your platform you first must earn their attention and then gain their respect as a leader in our niche. You do this by reaching out to people and helping them. this builds trust and will eventually lead to gaining a loyal readership.

image by Swami Qweqwe via sxc.hu
image by Swami Qweqwe via sxc.hu

Dogs are loyal, loving, and make for great companions if you put in the time and effort to train them right and take care of them. like wise building a loyal following for our writing takes the proper time and actions on your part to take care of your readers.

What Dealing with Depression has Taught Me About Writing

image by Martin Walls via freeimages.com
image by Martin Walls via freeimages.com

Introduction
I was 13 when I had my first episode of depression. I lost all interest in things I used love doing and didn’t want to much but eat and sleep. My parents thought it was funny, not know this was more than mere teenage moodiness, and I learned to deal with it on my own.

Over the years I dealt with depression off and on mostly during the winter and I am getting over the latest episode now. Writing has helped me make sense of my feelings and given me the confidence to pull myself out of the rut I’ve been in.

Start Small
One lesson I’ve learned is to start small. Things didn’t get to where they are overnight, so you shouldn’t expect them to change quick. Per my therapist’s request I started keeping a journal and that has helped me work through my issues get back in the groove.

Whether it’s morning pages or a snarky tweet commit to writing something every day. It doesn’t have to be perfect or pretty, just get your words in and go from there. If you’re struggling to write there are plenty of websites with daily prompts to get you started. Whatever you choose stick with it.

Celebrate Small Victories
At the height of my depressive episode I don’t do much besides eat, sleep, and shit. But I’ve learned any day I get out of bed is a small victory.

You have to stay positive and get your words in even when you don’t feel like it, because no one is going to live your life for you. You have to make the effort to change things and follow through on them.Set a time to write and show up to produce.

Break it Down
As I pull myself out of the funk I’m in it can seem like there’s so much to do that it’s overwhelming, but I’ve learned if you break things down into manageable tasks and do a bit each day that helps to alleviate a lot of my anxiety.

So whether it’s a blog post, article, or a novel you’re working on just do a little each day, and bit by bit you’ll get to where you want to be.

Commit to Finishing
Journaling has helped me tremendously to put things in perspective. it doesn’t have to pretty or make sense. I just write until I hit my 500 word count and then move on.

There will be good days and bad days. The trick is to commit to something until you’re done. Remember not everything you write will be good, but continue until the end anyways. Done is better than perfect, and it’s good practice.

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
I’ve learned you can play it safe and stay isolating in your house, or choose to push yourself out of our comfort zone and start living life again. Sure it’s hard work at first the end result is worth it. This is true of writing too.

You can stay in your comfort zone and never push yourself out of your bubble. Unless you’re constantly challenging yourself to push your limits you’ll stagnant. Shot to do a little bit better each day and hold yourself accountable to a higher standard.

Conclusion
Dealing with depression has taught me sometimes you have to fight for your happiness, and push beyond your fears and worries. Sure it wont be easy and you’ll want to quit, but you have the keys to your success.

For more writing tips click here.

5 Simple Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Write What You Know

Introduction
Write what you know is one of those adages that gets hurled around a lot,. But should writer s really ad

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image by Stancu Alexandru via sxc.hu

here to it? Or should it be taken with a grain of salt?

1. Writing what you know means becoming an expert on the subject matter. And can only take you so far before you reach the limits of your knowledge .

2. Writing what you know can be boring. Retreading the same subject matter again and again without a new spin will get old with readers and eventually drive them away.

3. Writing what you don’t know is fun. It allows you to learn new things. And see the subject matter in a new light.

4. Writing what you don’t know can be liberating. Instead of being stuck in the same mode of writing trying new approaches may open up new avenues of creativity.

5. Writing what you don’t know forces you to stop playing it safe and get out of your comfort zone.

Conclusion
Writing what you know, while a good rule of thumb for new writers, ultimately can be stifling , and lead you to stale and lack luster prose. But writing what you don’t know opens up new areas to explore and grow.

Five Lessons Anime&Manga Can Teach us about Writing

Introduction

image by Stancu Alexandru via sxc.hu
image by Stancu Alexandru via sxc.hu

Growing up I was always more into manga(black and white Japanese comic books) and anime than American comic books owing to their larger than life characters and action packed stories like those in Sailor Moon, Dragon Ball Z and countless other series. While anime can sometimes be stereotyped as being for kids or basement dwelling man-children there are many lessons that can be gleaned from the stories found there in.

The Hook

The best series hook you from the beginning. For example the start of Sailor Moon lays out the basic premise of the series and shows clips from the series so you know what you’re in for. Like wise The first episode of YuYu Hakusho opens with the narrator explaining that the protagonist, 15-year-old Yusuke Urameshi is dead.

This does two things. First it makes the viewer want to know how Yusuke died, and second how the series will progress with the main character dead. Likewise in writing you want to hook the reader early or risk them putting down your book. A good way to do this is to start the story as close to the inciting action as possible.

Another way is to start right in the middle of the action. Another technique is to open with a question or mystery for the reader and reveal things as the story progresses. Whatever approach you take make sure it keeps the reader engaged.

Suspension of Disbelief

The main reason I read manga and watch anime is because of the fantastical stories found within. It provides a nice escape from the everyday grin, but not all series are alike. The best series not only hook you but pull you in to their world by establishing the ground rules from the get go. For example the first episode of Full Metal Alchemist establishes the rules for transmutation and how one goes about performing alchemy.

But it’s not enough just to establish the rues of our world. The also must be consistent and you must have a good reason for breaking the rules that is also logically consistent with the rules of your world. For example the second time Yusuke Urameshi comes back to life it’s because of the demon blood in him which had been laying dormant until that point.

Contrast this with Ichigo Kurosaki from Bleach, who whenever it looks like he’ll die something always happens to save his butt. It happens so much throughout the series that it’s known by fans as plotkai and is one of the reasons I stopped reading it.

Readers can only stretch this disbelief so far before they through up their hands in frustration. Which is where your plot comes in.

Plot

Without an engaging plot to keep readers interested people will put down your book. A prime example of this for me was with the manga series bleach. I stopped reading it because it kept recycling the same plot line over and over again, namely that the protagonist would lose his soul reaper powers and in the process of regaining them would get a new ability, only for it to become obsolete once his soul reaper powers were back.

No matter your genre your plot must have an internally consistent logic. For example one the main plot points of Dragon Ball Z is you can’t wish something beyond the power of the eternal dragon like bringing back someone to life who’s already been brought back from the dead. This plot point leads the Z warrior to planet Namek where their dragon balls have no such restriction.

Characters

The people you populate your story with can make or break your book.It’s not enough to have interesting characters they must be well rounded as well. An example of this is Vegeta from Dragon Ball Z. In the beginning he starts of as a a villain but through the series slowly becomes an antihero culminating in his sacrifice to destroy the evil Majin Buu.

Compare Vegeta with Goku, the main character, and their differences couldn’t be more obvious. Goku is one dimensional and at no point goes through a crisis of consciousness or ever questions his reason for fighting, he is the same happy go-lucky goody two-shoes at the end of the series as at the beginning and is ultimately a boring character. And being boring is the last thing you want your characters to be. Give them real flaws, wants and needs, and let them struggle before reaching their goals. But characters and plot alone are not enough to keep people reading your work.

Pacing

Dragon Ball Z is infamous for dragging out fights, especially the fight between Freiza and Goku on Namek which lasted for 30 plus episodes. One problem many new writers have is they get bogged down in the backstory and bore the reader before he/she even gets to the meat of the story. A simple solution is to let readers get to know the protagonist before delving into the back story. Another is omit scenes that don’t move the plot forward and keep things going by upping the stakes with your characters.

But nonstop action will wear thin with readers so be sure to pause the action to allow bot the readers and protagonist to take a breather, and also to build tension for the next lot point.

Conclusion

There are many lessons we can learn from anime and manga, but the takeaway here is to balance plot, characters, pacing, and suspension of disbelief so as to craft a engaging read.

Show and Tell

It can be a struggle to balance showing vs

image by Stancu Alexandru via sxc.hu
image by Stancu Alexandru via sxc.hu

telling in your work. Too much show and you’ll bore your readers; too much telling and your readers wont care about our characters. Ultimately it comes down to your choices when to deploy one or another and not to.

Right now I’m struggling with how much to show versus bogging down the story line and how much to tell to get the plot moving again. there’s an art to writing when it comes to balancing out things and in the end it comes down to your choices as an author.

For me one area I show too much is in dialogue. I love words and can write pages of back and forth exchanges between the characters. Now while I like them the reader wouldn’t necessarily like them, so I’m trying to rein in this tendency of my and summarize where appropriate to keep the flow going while building tension, characterization, and advancing the plot.

An area where I don’t show enough is in describing locations and what the characters are wearing. It usually slips my mind because I don’t care what someone is wearing, but what they’re doing or saying, but I know my readers care about these thing so I try to incorporate them when I remember to.

Another area I struggle with is in the passage of time. In my current WIP time has a way of slipping passed me. When I’m in the thick of it time becomes secondary to the plot until I come up for air so to speak. I know it will be something I have to deal with in the rewrite, but I’m not too concerned about it.

Ultimately it gets easier with practice to balance them but not without putting in daily writing goals.

No Limit Writing

“If you always put limits on what youHow many times have you started a piece but never finished it? If you’re like me then it’s probably a lot. It’s the fear of not being good enough that paralyzes us, but unless we risk failure we won’t reach new plateaus.

Writing like anything else takes practice. We must always push ourselves to new heights and go beyond our limits to reach greatness. It’s not simply good enough to do the bare minimum. We must shoot for perfection each time we write, and not get complacent in our work. That being said we mustn’t use this as an excuse so that we don’t write anything at all either.

Likewise we mustn’t let our quest for perfection sidetrack us from shipping our work. There comes a point when we must let the world see our work and this can be scary if we aren’t ready mentally for rejection. But we needn’t concern ourselves with what others think because that is outside of our control, so keep things in perspective.

We must experiment with new forms and genres, to grow our craft in new and exciting ways. To try new subject matters and write outside our knowledge base. We must be ready to approach these new topics in fun and unique ways. Sure we won’t succeed at everything we try, but that’s a risk we must take.

At times it will seem like a struggle but in the end it’s worth it when you create something that resonates with a lot of people. You must be willing to go outside your comfort zone and try new things with your work. You can’t let your preconceived notions cloud you from thinking in new and better ways.
We must be willing to take in the new and cast out the old where appropriate.

We must be willing to work our writing muscles in new ways to elevate our craft to the next level and the next beyond that. This means we must write everyday, no excuses, and try new things with words. If you normally write in first person point of view try third person, or vise versa.

If you generally write in one genre try another. If you write about one subject matter try a new angle, or a new subject all together. If you write mainly nonfiction try your hand at a short story, and if you usually write fiction switch to creative nonfiction. Only then can we be satisfied with our work.

Yes the hours will be long and the work hard, but this is the price we must pay for going beyond the average and making work that engages readers, and makes them question what it means to be human.

Your job as a writer is to add your verse to the poetry of life, and you can’t do that if you’re not going beyond the mediocre because you’re afraid of failing.We have to move beyond our fears and let the sky be our limit. Fear never goes away, it just gets easier to deal with in time, with practice.