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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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If you are a writer (and you are), then I know you are reading. As we read both masters and peers, it’s easy to fall into comparison and even disillusionment. How can you learn from your reading without letting it distract you from your own writing journey?

How to Keep Comparing Yourself From Stealing Your Motivation »

Last week, I overheard a conversation at a neighboring table where a woman said, “He’s always trying to prove himself. It makes him look less competent than he is.” I didn’t know the parties involved, but I grabbed a napkin and jotted it down. When I added it to my notebook, I realized characters with something to prove often undermine their own success. And those insecurities make for an amazing writing prompt.

Writing Prompt: Give Your Character an Insecurity »

If you’ve ever had the middle of a manuscript sag and feel flabby, congrats. You’re a writer! One of the questions I ask when get stuck in the middle of a manuscript is this: “How can I make this worse for this character?” One of the key elements you might use is the very thing we try so hard to avoid on a daily basis: abrasive people.

How can an abrasive character push your character’s arc, keep the plot moving, and deepen the theme? Read on to find out.

The Secret to Writing the Middle of a Story »

While many novels and stories are set in a vacation location, you can take your character on vacation just to see what they are made of. Vacation can be frightfully stressful and reveals much about us as people. It can do the same for your character. Try it out with this writing prompt.

Writing Prompt: Take Your Characters on Vacation »

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.

Why Multitasking is Killing 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.

How to Build a Fantastic Writers Group »

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 »