It can feel impossible to know where to start writing. We can become paralyzed by fear, worrying our words will offend or bore readers, or worse, that we’ll never have any readers at all. In order to move past these feelings, we have to overcome perfectionism.
That’s easier said than done, but these three strategies make all the difference.
Kill Perfectionism With This One Practice »
Every time we sit down to write, our mood and state of mind affect our words. We infuse, to some extent, everything we write with our unique “voice.” Our emotions come through on the page.
When we’re struggling to eke out even a few words and make sense of our writing, it shows in our work. Our characters are flat. Our scenes are dull and passive. Our plot is thin and weak. Nothing we try fixes the problems. Or, maybe words don’t come at all.
We may declare that we have a case of writer’s block, particularly if we’ve wrestled with the vexation for weeks or months. But, there may be a stronger and more insidious obstacle: shame.
Healing From Shame: How to Overcome the Insidious Cause of Writer’s Block »
Have you ever used a word for years — like, maybe during your thesis defense or in a high-profile report for work — then realized one day that you had it totally wrong? That big word you thought was making you look so erudite was, in fact, working against you. Turns out, coif is not the same as coiffure, and you never even realized it.
No one is immune from this, neither journalists nor poets, essayists nor novelists. The problem often stems from our natural inclination as writers to grab hold of an exciting new word and just run with it. Not only do we end up using words just plain wrong, our enthusiasm leads to overuse as well.
By slowing down just a little bit, recognizing common pitfalls, and inserting some deliberate practice into your vocabulary usage, you can turn this trend around.
How to Use Big Words Without Making a Fool of Yourself »
When self-publishing a book, every author is faced with the dilemma of creating a book cover that is worthy of their writing.
But most of us don’t have the money to hire a top-notch book design professional, or the tools and skills to create one ourselves. However, there is another way that many authors are finding is much cheaper and will guarantee your satisfaction: Premade book covers.
Premade Book Covers: The Secret to Amazing Covers »
The epigraph is simply a well-chosen quotation, set at the beginning of a text. Epigraphs can open essays, books, chapters of a book, or even each story in a book—any writing, really, which suggests its theme.
They can, however, do so much more.
After a short primer, just to get us on the same page with a working understanding of the epigraph, and a little confessional angst, you will have a couple of practice challenges to engage your new friends.
How to Empower Your Writing With a Brilliant Epigraph »
Anyone who has dipped their toes into the world of writing novels knows how crucial character development is to telling strong stories. Plot, setting, and dialogue are necessary building blocks of fiction, but your characters are the foundation that your story is resting on—without dynamic characters, no amount of plot twists, fantastical settings, or authentic dialogue will magically transform into a novel that people want to read.
If the success of your novel is in fact riding on the strength of your characters, you need to know who they are, inside and out. More importantly, you need a character with a strong voice, one that can reveal the emotional depths of your story to the reader.
Character Voice: How to Actually Listen to Your Protagonist »
Every author has had to tackle following question at some point, whether it be Shakespeare or J.K. Rowling: Are the heroes of my tale going to be of common stock or noble heritage? Will I create a lower class or upper class character? It has been a heated topic of debate since long before the Brothers Grimm ever picked up a pen, and it’s a debate that continues on to this day.
Prince or Pauper? The Pros and Cons of Making Your Hero a Noble vs. Common Stock »
I consider myself a writer. But there are a lot of days on which I don’t write anything more than a post on Facebook. Then there are days where I spend hours pecking away at the keyboard. But overall, I would love to write more, not less.
We all know some writers who are really disciplined. For example, Stephen King writes 2,000 words a day every day without fail. Why can’t I do this? What’s keeping me from writing? What’s keeping you from writing more?
What’s Really Keeping You from Writing? »
We hear voices in our heads in the middle of the night. We see scenes in our minds like movies and are compelled to capture them on the page. We look around at the world and notice things, things other people might not see. Writing procrastination—well, that’s just not in our vocabulary.
We are lovers of stories. We gasp at expertly crafted sentences. We smile at innovative turns of phrase. We’re left breathless at the fierce beauty of a story well told.
We are writers. And writers write, right?
2 Ways to Beat Writing Procrastination and Finish Your WIP »
The most crushing piece of criticism authors can hear is that their main character is “flat” or “two-dimensional.” This is especially true for writers who have poured a lot of their personal experience into their protagonist’s journey. Conventional writing wisdom tells us that main characters need to be “dynamic” characters who evolve over the course of the story.
But what exactly does “dynamic” mean? If your protagonist doesn’t actually change all that much, does that make them flat and static? Are they, by default, a poorly written character?
Why Dynamic Characters Don’t Need to Change »
Nobody wants their writing to be described as “conventional” or “formulaic,” and in an effort to avoid such damning judgements, many young writers throw themselves past creative writing guides, the rules of writing, and all the catalogues of conventional wisdom, instead opting to carve their own path.
But before you follow suit and bend all the rules to write experimental fiction, there are a few things you need to know.
3 Secrets Great Writers Know About Experimental Fiction »
Writers are a funny bunch. On one point, we are driven and self-aware, capable of exercising massive amounts of discipline when we need to focus on the task at hand. Yet at other times, we’re distracted, self-critical, and destructive.
Part of the doubt writers face comes up because the creative process isn’t an easy thing to experience. It’s incredibly difficult to create something out of nothing day in and day out.
But when you can identify these critical mistakes writers make, you’ll be ready to overcome your doubts and challenges and actually finish your writing projects.
3 Common Mistakes Writers Make (And How to Avoid Them) »
You’ve probably heard the age-old adage of “show, don’t tell” at least a thousand times in your writing career so far. It’s arguably one of the most-used writing tips about. Why then, is it also the one mistake most writers make over all others?
I heard “show, don’t tell” so many times, it became a useless mantra to chant, rather than put into action. I had no idea that by ignoring it, I was actually writing flat, monotonous narrative.
So, what does it mean to show and not tell? Well—it all comes down to drama.
How to Inject Drama Into Your Writing to Show, Don’t Tell »
If you’re someone who writes regularly—even more so if you write for others as well as your own platform—the demands can easily take their toll, right? You find yourself writing to formula, and if you’re not careful the demands of writing can become a deafening cacophony of noise in your head.
Fortunately, a simple writing exercise might be just the thing to need to jumpstart your creativity and help you rediscover your creative voice.
How Free Writing Helps You Find Your True Creative Voice »
I’ll start with the bad news.
Much of what you’ve heard about daily routines is more fictional than the stories you’re writing. Everyone seems to have their own “key” to productivity: motivation, willpower, passion, and big goals being the most common.
While these all have the vague ring of truthiness, you’ve probably noticed that, in practice, the results of such methods are inconsistent to nonexistent.
Fortunately, there’s a simple cure.
Daily Routines of Writers: Using the Power of Habits and Triggers to Write Every Day »
How do you write memoir and tell a story that is compelling to you, but might not be to your reader?
Boredom is death for a writer and must be avoided at all cost. When writing memoir, the facts of a person’s life will fall short if that’s all you have to offer. You need something more if you want the story to come to life in the heart, mind, and imagination of the reader.
4 Ways to Build Bridges When Writing Memoir »
In his classic memoir On Writing, Stephen King writes, “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” The latter is, of course, what this blog is all about (writing a lot). But I’m convinced that most writers ignore the former: reading a lot. (Or at the very least, they don’t read thoughtfully.)
If you’re like most people, you bounce from book to book haphazardly. What you read from month to month and year to year is simply not something you carefully consider.
But if you call yourself a writer and your goal is to become a better one, you do yourself a great disservice by not reading voraciously and thoughtfully.
A Killer Reading Strategy That Will Make You a Better Writer »
If your story involves one or more fight scenes, you have a great opportunity. You can thrill your audience, change the course of the plot, and reveal new depths to your characters . . . or you can bore your viewers to tears, and make them wish that the battle would please just end already.
I’m going to give you six tips for writing better fight scenes, so you can keep your audience on the edge of their seats while giving a whole new level of depth to your story and cast.
How to Write a Fight Scene Readers Will Love »
When you’ve finished a book, you feel like a hero. The work may have some warts, but it’s yours, and it’s done! The next step is to test it out on some readers and see how well the book works. This is called Beta Testing (or just “beta-ing”) your book.
Reader feedback can teach you a lot, but it can also be hard to filter the signal from the noise. The key is learning how to process that feedback so you can make productive edits. Today I’ll teach you how I learned to do this.
5 Steps to Get Amazing Feedback From Beta Readers »
“Don’t write third person omniscient.” That’s a piece of advice often echoed by editors, publishers and agents alike. But being the rebellious creatures they are, as soon as authors hear someone tell them what they must do, they get an itch to do the exact opposite.
But before you “stick it to the man” and start drafting your magnum opus in third person omniscient, let’s look at some examples of when that perspective is best used and discover why the industry often favors “closer” points of view.
Why You Should Consider Writing With an Omniscient Narrator »