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.
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.
You want to become a writer, but you’re not sure how to stay disciplined. But now that it’s 2018, you’re ready to commit and focus on your writing (or refocus). Where do you start?
Well, that’s where our 7 Day Creative Writing Challenge comes in!
Names — character names or the names of people in real life — are a big deal. Parents-to-be pore over baby name books for months looking for that “perfect” name. Even naming a pet can take time. You want the name to be perfect, to mean something, to be unique but not too “weird.”
Naming a character, especially in a longer piece of writing, can be just as agonizing and is definitely just as important.
A few weeks ago, our group of friends was planning a potluck. One of the girls said she was planning on making vegetarian chili, cornbread, or baking cookies. I cringed internally because the flow of the sentence was wrong and hurt me on the inside. The issue: mismatched parallelism.
Ever had days when life feels like a broken-down Rube Goldberg machine? Cobbled together from bits of cast-off junk, limping along, and missing the connections that bring a satisfying result? If you have, you share something with the bulk of humanity. Most of us feel that way at some point.
A person’s life consists of an enormous jumbled mass of cause and effect events, on a scale so huge that connections are rarely obvious or traceable. By contrast, a character’s story is a relevant subset of such events in which the causal relationships are evident. Sometimes overt, and sometimes subtle, but always present if you want to create a story that resonates with readers.
The stereotypical writer used to be a silent, brooding genius who kept to himself and rarely ventured into the outside world, except to do “research” on how the subjects of his stories lived. People imagined an entire profession of Emily Dickinsons, pale and contemplative.
However, for nearly every famous writer—from Ernest Hemingway to Virginia Woolf, J.R.R. Tolkien to Mary Shelley—this stereotype couldn’t be further from the truth.
And the truth is that nearly every great writer had a Cartel.
“I published a book, didn’t tell a soul about it, and it became a best seller!!” Said no writer ever.
But we wish it were true, don’t we? We want to hole up and write epic tales and thought-provoking prose, not hock books door to door and shout from the rooftops about how awesome we are. Can’t we just write? Well … write, but also be discovered and then catapulted to great heights by someone else.
We’d like readers to find us that way, please. We don’t want to navigate those scary waters of how to market a book.
At first glance, running and writing don’t seem to go together. Writing involves sitting and thinking, while running involves sweat and suffering. Yet running and writing have a lot in common, and studying one can improve your ability to succeed at the other.
It’s time to write that scene. You know, the one you’ve been avoiding. You’ve sketched out your character and the scene’s objective, but how do you get your character from point A to point B? What exact words should he use? What specific actions should she take to accomplish her scene goal?
If you’ve ever faced that blank page with these questions in mind, you’ll be pleased to learn about three techniques, borrowed from the actor’s playbook, that will boost your writing and make your story shine. Let’s take a look at how to write a scene with the mindset of an actor.
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.
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?
Recently when I looked over the first draft of my latest novel in order to buckle down and start editing, I noticed that there were a lot of sections that bored me. My mind started to wander and I couldn’t figure out why. Looking more closely, I found the answer: I was playing it too safe. In order to ramp up the tension in excitement, I had to master this one technique; I had to get uncomfortable.
With warmer weather comes thoughts of escape. Beaches, mountains, and yet-to-be-explored cities call to us. We get that itch, that need to run away and relax somewhere without our bosses nagging us. Or maybe you need to hang upside down on a roller coaster or meet Cinderella. Regardless, it’s vacation time!
For a writer, taking a week or two off from writing can be detrimental. You obviously don’t want to keep up with your 1,000-words-a-day writing schedule, but there are simple ways to feed the muse while on vacation and make it easier slide back into your routine when you return home.
You know what’s really fun to edit? Dangling participles. What’s a participle? Glad you asked.
A participle is an adjective form of a verb, usually formed by adding the suffix –ing to the verb. For example, you might go for a light 15k in your running shoes. Or your sister might be screaming because she burned herself with her curling iron. Make sense?
Let’s take a closer look and find out where these participles go wrong.
This week, nearly three hundred writers submitted their stories to the Spring Writing Contest. Right now, our panel of Story Grid Certified Editors is reading through each story, looking for the ones that will make it to the winners’ circle. And while they’re hard at work, I have an invitation for you, too.
Come vote on your favorite to win the Readers’ Choice Award!
One of the greatest challenges of writing better stories is knowing exactly which scenes to write. The best scenes focus on the core elements of conflict — which means before you can write amazing scenes, you have to find the conflict in a story.
Strong scenes come from strong plans. And visualizing the conflict between your characters is a great way to do just that.
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.
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.
Some of you may be participating in our 100 Day Book program, writing your first novel on your own, or kicking around the idea of starting that manuscript.
Writing your first novel is hard. It’s a struggle. It’s a learning process.
And it’s often autobiographical, even if you don’t mean it to be. And that’s okay.