Stories create empathy. Stories bring hope. Stories change history. Yes, even yours—especially when you know how to show empathy in writing.
People ask me all the time (and by all the time, I mean never), “Liz, what is your favorite grammatical/punctuational structure?” It’s hard to narrow it down to just one (although you’re probably already aware of my love for the Oxford comma), but if I happened to be in a life-or-death of language situation, it would probably be the parenthetical statement.
I bet you already figured that out.
National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) ends on Thursday. That means you have to figure out how to finish a novel . . . in three days.
Let’s get the bad news out of the way first—you might not make it.
The good news is that it’s not impossible. With the right strategy and enough determination, you can finish writing your book and win NaNoWriMo.
Don’t write “on the nose.” Writing doesn’t have to be direct. You don’t have to make it easy for your reader to understand what is happening. Instead, use allusion: make a suggestion or a hint of your meaning. Let your reader think.
The only thing you need to do with your nose is blow it if you have a cold.
I love Joseph Campbell’s monomyth theory. If you’re unfamiliar, it’s the idea that every hero, and hero’s journey, uses many of the same characters, symbols, and themes.
So in honor of Thanksgiving, let’s write a story with the Noble Gobbler in the role of the hero, or Pro-turk-onist!
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.
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.
An argument can be made that the beginning of any story is the most important. It is the first part your readers will encounter and it is what potential agents and publishers will read in order to determine if your project is right for them. But do you know how to start a story? What’s the perfect opening?
It’s good to study other writers’ rules, but in the end, those rules were not made for you—they were made for other writers. If you’re serious about being a writer, then you need to figure out your rules of writing and stick to them. This post will show you how.
You’ve heard of stories in 140 characters. But now that Twitter has increased their character limit, we’re faced with a new challenge: stories in 280 characters.
What concise tales will you tell in this newly expanded space?
This week, nearly three hundred writers submitted their stories to the Winter Writing Contest. Right now, our panel of judges 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!
Every writer has a dream. It’s what compels you to write in the early hours of the morning, after everyone has gone to bed, in the spare minutes you steal away during the day. It’s what motivates you when you’re stuck in the middle of a story, wondering whether the grueling work of writing is truly worth it.
Is writing worth it? Yes.
Are your stories worth telling? Absolutely, yes.
And if you pursue your dreams and dare to write, can your writing change the world? Definitely.
Writing a novel in a month is a wonderful idea. But it’s hard for a multitude of reasons, and the temptation to give up and just “do it over time” can be really appealing, especially as we approach Day 8 of the journey.
I know it’s hard. But quitting, or choosing to simply abstain, is the worst thing you can do right now if you have a passion for writing.
When your alarm went off today did you hit the snooze button? Did you wake up wishing, “I hope The Write Practice has some silly writing prompts today”? Have you been dreading getting out of bed because you didn’t have a fun writing prompt?
Now you can get out of bed and look forward to today! Run to your writing chair and write for fifteen minutes with these silly writing prompts.
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.
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.
In August, we hosted the Fall Writing Contest in partnership with Short Fiction Break literary magazine. Entering this writing contest was a huge accomplishment for all our writers, and we want to celebrate the winners here on The Write Practice.
You know who JK Rowling is. You know Harry Potter took the world by storm. You may even be aware that Rowling had trouble getting published at all. Ms. Rowling has shared a lot of terrific writing wisdom, but in my opinion, these are her eight best rules.
BOO! It’s Halloween—what better day to write some spooky stories? Sharpen your pencil and take a stab at one of these Halloween writing prompts!
Currently I’m reading a collection of essays by the National Book Award winner and genius grant recipient Ta-Nehisi Coates. Many people view Coates, a writer for The Atlantic, as political, but I’ve heard him speak, and he repeatedly emphasizes that he is a writer above all else. He is an observer and he shares his observations with the world, and we can draw valuable writing tips from his work.
Coates’s book We Were Eight Years in Power consists of articles he wrote during the Obama years, each of which are preceded by Coates’s retrospective reflections on those essays. As a fellow writer, I was enthralled by those reflections. Here was an anointed “genius” expressing his doubts and self-critiques. There’s something fascinating about watching a successful writer still cringe at the very works that gave him that success.
Given all that, I had to share some of my takeaways, writing tips drawn from Coates’s self-reflections.