Guest Visitor
Sue Weems: Becoming Writer, Editor, Bbp Participant, Winter Writing Contest 2016
Member since June 25, 2015

Sue Weems is a writer, teacher, and traveller with an advanced degree in (mostly fictional) revenge. When she’s not rationalizing her love for parentheses (and dramatic asides), she follows a sailor around the globe with their four children, two dogs, and an impossibly tall stack of books to read. You can read more of her writing tips on her website.


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Whether scuba diving or hiking, experts warn against going out on the water or up the mountain on your own. Why? There’s strength in numbers, and you are more likely to live to tell about your adventure with a swim buddy or hiking partner along. While writing might not carry the physical risks of these outdoor activities, writers can use the same principle to help a writing partner get their writing done.

Writing Partner: How to Finish Your Novel With a Swim Buddy »

We’re on the verge of summer, and that means I’m attending graduations (including my oldest son’s). Whether you are attending one for a friend or family member or yourself, commencement ceremonies are a great place for inspiration and one other thing: cliché-hunting.

Clichés are overused phrases or metaphors that weaken our writing. As writers, we want to hunt down, drag out, and kill clichés in our writing. (I know, the killing metaphor is also probably cliché. I’m still working on it.) Here are some ideas for how to avoid clichés in our writing.

How to Avoid Clichés (Like the Plague) »

Recently, I found myself dreading my scheduled writing time. I was bored with my book, tired of the grind, and angry that my revision was taking so long. I had lost my writing joy. Is it time to abandon a book or project once you lose your joy? Or is there a way to recalibrate and find the fun in your project and the joy of writing again?

3 Ways to Rediscover the Joy of Writing »

Fill in the blank: I can’t finish my draft because _______. Are you sure that is what is holding you back?

This is one of the busiest months of the year for me. I’m usually disciplined, but there are some especially busy seasons when writing is hard to prioritize. As one of my classes began reading Fahrenheit 451 this month, I remembered a letter Ray Bradbury sent to a librarian about how he wrote the novel. It was just what I needed to get back to finishing my book.

How to Bust Excuses and Focus on Your Writing Like Ray Bradbury »

It’s National Poetry Month! I know, I know. You don’t want to write a poem, but what if I could show you a way to tap into a childhood memory to create a poem or scene that you could use in any kind of writing? Will you accept a poetry dare today?

Poetry Dare: Write a Poem About a Childhood Memory »

Writers hear the words “No thanks” often. Whether you’ve submitted a story for a contest or a literary magazine or you’ve sent out query letters to agents, you know that sting when the results are published and your name isn’t on the list, or the sinking feeling when you get another reply from an agent, “Sorry, going to pass this time.”

Publishing is fraught with rejection. What if we could stop being afraid of it and instead plan for it as a natural part of our process? Hearing “No” doesn’t have to derail us when we have a plan.

How to Plan for Writing Rejection »

Three times this week I have come across encouragement from writers who wrote, edited, and published books at the margins of their lives, and writers

How to Talk Back to Discouragement so You Can Write Confidently »

When I was a kid, I loved reading Choose-Your-Own-Adventure novels that had alternate paths written into the story. If you aren’t familiar with them, they were elementary or middle grade chapter books that begin a story and at key moments, offer the reader a choice: “To go through the portal, turn to page 37. To run away, turn to page 45.”

I loved seeing the story change with the choices, and I reread the books making different choices each time to experience a new story. I’ve channeled my inner adventurer to put together a fun prompt.

Writing Prompt: How to Choose Your Own (Writing) Adventure »

Many writers I know are overwhelmed and struggle to focus on writing anything. Do I research? Get a draft down? Should I be blogging? Do I need to get a business license? What about social media? What’s for dinner? (Sorry, my kids added that one).

A few years ago, I learned a technique that helped me get a handle on my to do list, and freed me to prioritize my writing. Along with sneaking time to write, learning to write in batches has changed the way I work.

How to Actually Focus on Your Writing »

I often hear practicing writers ask, “What if I can’t think of anything to write about?” Sometimes they even have notebooks full of observations, but they feel like none of them are good enough for a story.

I’ve felt the same way, but there are more opportunities or seeds for ideas in our notebooks than we think. It might be an image, a snippet of a conversation we overheard at lunch, or a social issue that grates against us. Once we have the seeds, how do we take those seeds and develop them into stories?

How to Develop Story Ideas Into Amazing Stories »

Authors often get asked where they get their story ideas. It’s one of the most common questions my student writers wish they could ask their writing heroes. They think, “If I could just find a way to come up with the next best-selling story idea like [insert famous author], then I’ll make it as a writer!”

But they misunderstand one critical truth: the magic isn’t in the ideas. It’s in the execution. We need the ideas to get started, but many writers don’t have a system for capturing the ideas around them daily, and they don’t develop ideas consistently in practice.

We all have files full of unfinished projects and story ideas spread across notebooks and online platforms. Why do ideas lose their luster the moment we start writing them?

Story Ideas: How to Beat Shiny-New-Idea Syndrome and Actually Finish Your Projects »

How organized are you? I realized last year that I had spread my writing over various notebooks and virtual programs and platforms to the point that it took me an hour to find a snippet I wanted to use. The best book writing software will help you get your words on the page, but it won’t organize them on your computer so you can find them again — as I experienced firsthand while hunting down that snippet.

By the time I finally found it, I was frustrated and worried that maybe I was losing more writing than I was saving. Not losing it in the sense that the writing was gone, but losing track of where and how I manage my writing process.

Where do you keep your writing?

Best Book Writing Software: How to Organize Your Writing so You Never Lose It Again »

This time of year many writers begin to evaluate their progress to celebrate wins, grieve losses, and reset for the year ahead. Here are two questions to guide your reflection and help you build better habits for the coming year (and maybe even some writing resolutions).

2 Questions Every Writer Should Ask (Instead of Writing Resolutions) »

Writers across the globe spent a frenzied month neglecting their laundry, sneaking writing time at lunch, and compulsively checking their word counts. Whether you won, lost, or didn’t participate at all, here’s what NOT to do the day after NaNoWriMo ends.

What Not to Do When NaNoWriMo Ends »

Writing is a solitary profession for the most part, but sooner or later, we realize we need a network of people, from beta readers to editors and eventually readers. Some writers retreat, discouraged by unkind comments or unsupportive friends or family, believing that someday, somehow their work will reach a wider audience.

But writing alone and hard work aren’t enough by themselves. Very few writers can write and launch a book and career entirely in isolation. (Plus, being a part of a writing or creative community is much more fun.)

Here are a few small steps for finding, joining, or building a writing community.

Writers Group: How to Build a Fantastic Writing Community »

I stood in a long line last week while a single checker bumbled through multiple orders, finally requiring a manager to come take over. I’m a notorious snoop (I mean, people-researcher), so I began furtively sizing up the purchases of those around me while I waited. And what I found was a fantastic writing prompt.

Writing Prompt: Take Your Character Shopping »

Do you argue with strangers on the internet? (I plead the fifth). Even if you have enough self-control not to engage most arguments and comment sections, chances are high that you think through how you would argue with them if you weren’t fairly certain they are a troll in an alternate universe. Also if your mother wasn’t your friend on Facebook.

Are you leveraging those thoughts? Or just rehearsing them, allowing yourself to feel irritated and angry? Put that energy to good use for your writing. Your next character is hiding in the comments section of nearly any forum. Here’s how to find him or her.

Your Next Character Is Hiding in the Comments »

As writers, there is no replacement for reading as a practice to become a better writer, but studying film or television can be just as instructive.

Ultimately we’re building models for our own work by asking one critical question. What if that one question could make you a stronger reader, viewer, and ultimately writer?

How to Analyze a Story Like a Master Writer »

You finally reach the last page of a book that kept you up all night and close it with the afterglow of satisfaction and a tinge of regret that it’s over. If you enjoyed the book enough to stay up reading it way past your bedtime, consider writing a review. It is one of the best gifts you can give an author.

But as you face the five shaded stars and empty box, a blank mind strikes. What do I say? I mean, is this a book really deserving of five stars? How did it compare to Dostoevsky or Dickens?

Maybe there’s an easier way to write a book review.

Why You Need to Write a Book Review Today (and How to Do It) »

There are three words that can kill any dream before it leaves the ground: “As soon as …” As soon as I finish this course … as soon as I get noticed … as soon as I revise … as soon as I get a marketing plan in place … as soon as the kids are in school … as soon as I ride the glitter pony of creativity … and on and on.

Yes, it is helpful to have action steps that inform your forward motion, but for too many of us who want to do creative work, we’re waiting on something that isn’t really keeping us from our writing. Our real barriers are beliefs that tell us we have to wait for the right conditions, along with the false assumption that one day we’ll “arrive” at our goal of being a successful writer and the need to create will feel satiated.

Newsflash: those “right” conditions and that “perfect” moment are not coming.

Why You’ll Never Arrive and What to Do Instead »