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Jeff Elkins: Bbp Participant, Editor, Becoming Writer, Winter Writing Contest 2016, 100 Day Book
Member since August 13, 2013

Jeff Elkins is a writer who lives Baltimore with his wife and five kids. If you enjoy his writing, he'd be honored if you would subscribe to his free monthly newsletter. All subscribers receive a free copy of Jeff's urban fantasy novella "The Window Washing Boy."


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If you write long enough, at some point you are going to experience a lag in productivity. Whether you call it “writer’s block” or “resistance” or just “a slump,” the moment will come when you struggle to put words on the page, and you just can’t find motivation to write through the struggle.

One way to overcome that lag is to lean into what motivates you. Do you know why you write?

Motivation to Write: The 7 Fundamental Needs of Writers And How to Leverage Their Motivational Power »

One of the great benefits a traditional publisher brings to the relationship is a network of agents and bookstores designed for the purpose of selling books. Like sailing a small boat into the ocean, without that pre-established network, self-publishing is scary. When we are first drifting into open waters, there is so much we don’t know.

Here is the good news: It is possible to sell books without a publisher. You just have to learn how.

How to Sell Books Without a Publisher »

We live in an amazing time. If you have a story to tell or an idea to share, you can write a book and publish it for free, making it accessible to billions of people. This moment is unique to human history, and I think everyone who has a story to tell should take advantage of it. To help get you started, in this post I’m going to give you ten simple steps on how to write and publish a book yourself.

How to Write and Publish a Book for Free »

Writing series are all the rage right now in fiction. Everyone is fighting for readers’ attention. Once you have it, a great way to keep it is to send the reader to a second, third, and fourth book. But do you know how to write a book series?

How to Write a Book Series Without Messing Things Up »

Sometimes the hardest part about writing is coming up with the initial story idea. Once the spark of creativity is lit, the story will flow. All it takes to get moving is a strong title, inspiring image, or moving concept.

Creativity is like a muscle. If you haven’t used it in a while, it can become stiff and sore when you try to work it out. With the holidays in full force, between my full-time job, my children’s activities, and the various family get-togethers finding time to write can become difficult. I’ll get a thirty-minute window to write, sit down to type out a story, and waste all my time trying to figure out what to say.

Writing prompts are wonderful tools to get the words flowing. Today we are going to look at three tools you can use to get your creative juices going.

3 Writing Prompts to Tap Into Your Creative Well »

I dream of a day when I can wake up, sip my coffee, write some morning pages, and then work on my latest novel until dinner. Unfortunately for me, and for many of you, that day is not today.

I’ve got kids and a house and bills, so I have to work full-time. Even so, over the past four years, I’ve published five novels, three novellas, and countless short stories.

How do I write books while working full-time? There are five things I’ve had to do to make this a reality.

How to Write a Book While Working Full-Time »

The stories we tell ourselves are like glasses through which we understand the world. They define the field we play on and guide the decisions we make, whether about book publishing or any other area of our lives.

Unfortunately, in the world of writing and publishing, there are a lot of false narratives floating around that create a romantic idea about the life of an author that can end in self-doubt, frustration, and stagnation. To avoid falling into the trap of bad stories, it’s important we pause and consider the world we exist in.

The Truth About Book Publishing: 3 Stories All Writers Need to Hear »

When our creative tap feels like it has run dry, sometimes all we need to get our creative juices flowing again is a fun writing challenge. That’s why today’s post is a writing prompt based on the Story Grid.

Get Inspired by This Story Grid Writing Challenge »

In the movies, inspiration strikes the writer, and then a montage of the writer banging away on his or her chosen instrument flashes by, ending with a completed masterpiece that shares the writer’s soul with the world. Sadly, the reality is not like the movies. Sometimes the stories rip through your fingers like your hands are possessed; but more often, putting a story into words feels like yanking your teeth out of your head. It’s all too easy to get stuck in writer’s block.

When that happens, there’s nothing more we want to do than give up on the story and start over. But we can’t. We have to push through and finish it.

Writer’s Block: 3 Tips to Keep Writing Even When You’re Discouraged »

Writing sequels is difficult. The Marvel Cinematic Universe currently consists of nineteen feature films, four network television weekly TV shows, and eight online streaming shows. Writing sequels to a genre-stretching side story that exists in a massive universe beloved by fans must be near impossible.

This weekend Jessica Jones season two dropped on Netflix. Whether you enjoy the show or not, there is a lot it can teach us about storytelling.

Writing Sequels: 5 Sequel-Writing Secrets From Jessica Jones »

We think of authors as loners. Locked in dark caves with nothing but their type-writers and a candles, they painstakingly pound out one word after another, bleeding on the page to create a story they hope the world will accept. This image couldn’t be further from the truth.

As John Donne wrote, “No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.” One way you can feel more like part of the main is by utilizing the tool of crowdsourcing.

Crowdsourcing for Writers: The Secret to Connect With Your Readers and Find Your Best Ideas »

On the wall of my office, I have a collage of quotes and pictures that have inspired me. Each quote represents a story from my past. I read over them whenever I need a boost of encouragement (which is at least once a day).

These encouraging words for writers are a wonderful source of strength for me. Many of the quotes on the wall are from friends and family who had the right words for me at the exact right time.

Here are three I lean on regularly to get me through rough patches.

Encouraging Words for Writers: 3 Essential Reminders for Struggling Writers »

Great characters feel real. They talk, act, and respond to stress in ways we recognize, with their own personal character voice. We can relate to them because they seem human.

To write a character that leaps off the page, we need to know her deeply. We need to understand her thoughts and feelings. If our audience is going to empathize with her, we have to first.

3 Creative Tricks to Find Your Character’s Voice »

‘Tis the season of holiday parties, children’s winter concerts, filling our schedules to the brim, visiting with family, eating too much, and drinking more than we should. With all of that going on, it can be difficult to stick to our writing regimen.

When we are tired, inspiration feels like a mirage. We feel as though it is just a little bit ahead of us, but with each step we take, it takes a step away. Writing during the holidays can be tough.

Sometimes, the thing we need to get our juices going is a writing challenge.

2 Playful Holiday Writing Prompts to Challenge and Inspire You »

There are few things in the world as weird as being a writer. We pour ourselves into our work, giving it everything we have, pushing through rejection, overcoming one barrier after another, hoping our work will be noticed. In this strange and taxing pursuit, it’s important that we hold onto some truths that can keep us centered, inspirational quotes for writers that will remind us why we write.

Sometimes, the best place to find those truths is in movies.

4 Inspirational Quotes for Writers »

As you sit down today to write are you filled with a sense of dread? We’ve come through the first weekend of NaNoWriMo. This is where I always fall behind in my word count.

I never get as much done over the weekends that I think I will. I tell myself, “This weekend I will catch up. I’ll spend a few extra hours, knuckle down, and catch up to my word count.”

But then my wife tells me about some obligation I neglected to notice on the calendar, or my kids need to be driven places I didn’t foresee, or things break in the house that need to be fixed, and I look up on Sunday and all my writing time is gone, and I’m farther behind than I was before the weekend began.

If that’s you, don’t panic! All is not lost. Many of us have been where you are. There is hope.

3 Scenes That Will Boost Your NaNoWriMo Word Count »

For every writer, there comes a special kind of writer’s block: a moment when we run out of gas. Maybe we’ve expended our final reserves of energy trying finish a big project. Maybe we’ve pushed too many days in a row to hit our NaNoWriMo word count. Maybe life has just made production difficult and we can’t muster the energy to get the next page out.

This moment, when we feel like we have nothing left, is inevitable. Therefore, it’s important that we have a plan in place for when it comes.

4 Refreshing Ways to Recharge Your Writing »

I’ve found that the greatest threat to us writers is not the well of creativity running dry or time running out before we can finish our latest work or some other writer stealing our million dollar idea. The greatest threat to us lives within us. It is our own fear.

We need not bow to fear. If we can survive its initial surge, it will pass and we can get back to work unhindered. Here are three ways I survive the surge of fear.

3 Tricks to Overcome Your Fear of Writing »

The opportunity to offer criticism comes with undeserved power. As a critic, we put ourselves above the artist, providing our authoritative opinion on the artists work. The thing is, that’s not what every writer needs to hear.

What Every Writer Needs to Hear »

Looking for an opportunity to reveal a character’s true feelings? Need a place where a character can realistically tell the world how they feel in a monologue? Want to give characters an opportunity to discuss what is coming next in your plot?

Funerals provide an excellent setting for all these moments and more.

Why a Funeral Might Be the Perfect Setting for Your Story »