Posted in A Writer's Life, better writing, build confidence as a writer, free writing, How to Be a Writer, how to write, The Writer's Toolbox, writing, writing advice, writing discipline

5 Steps to Setting Up a Daily Habit of Writing

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In order to be a writer, one must write. But let’s face it, it’s not always easy to find the time to fit writing in, especially as a daily thing. But I’ve been writing long enough to know that I’m a lot more successful at writing, when I make writing a daily habit. So let’s take a look at five steps to be a daily writer.

Step 1: Time of Day

First identify the best time of the day to write for you. Everyone will be different, so don’t judge what works for you against someone else’s writing time. If you aren’t sure, do some experimenting. Is it first thing in the morning that you do the best writing? Is it midmorning or midday? Or is it the afternoon, or late at night?

Step 2: Set a Time Period

Next, set a period of time that you will write. This can be anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes, to several hours, or more. Even if it’s just a short writing session, if you are writing everyday, then that time will add up. You may find too that somedays you will get more writing in than others, and that’s okay.

Step 3: Have a Routine to Get You Started

It’s a lot easier to start writing if you are in the right mindset. Otherwise you could be sitting for half your writing time or more just trying to get into the piece you want to write on. There are many ways to get into a writing mindset. I will list a few here.

  • Listen to music you have specifically for writing
  • Start by free writing for 10 minutes or so to get into writing
  • Spend a few minutes clearing your mind and setting an intention on what you plan to do
  • Have a specific spot that you write and only write so when you sit down you are automatically put in the writing mood
  • Use a “writing hat” which is anything you wear or have near you while writing

You can do one or more than one of the above, or even come up with your own way(s). The important part is having a routine, so that your mind knows you are sitting down to write, and it’s time to get to business.

Step 4: Do Things to Prep for Writing

It’s important to only write during the time you allot to write. This may mean doing some prepping before hand such as letting anyone who lives with you know not to bother you during this time, turning off distractions like the phone or access to internet, and deciding the day or night before what you will be writing on. If you set an intention to write on something specific, you will be far more likely to have a great writing session the next day.

Step 5: Have Fun With Writing

Most important step of all. Don’t forget to have fun with writing! That’s why you started writing in the first place isn’t it? Writing was fun. It was exhilarating as you created new characters and worlds, or mind-blowing nonfiction. That should still be the case. Don’t let your deadlines or feelings of obligations suck all the fun away. Remember why you started writing, why you keep writing, and how much fun it is to play with words!

Do you already have a writing routine, and would like to share? Please feel free to post in the comments.

Posted in action, beginning, better writing, great writing, how to write, The Writer's Toolbox, writing

3 Ways to Make an Engaging Start to a Story, Chapter, or Novel

How does a writer start a story, chapter, or novel to make it engaging and keep the reader interested? After all, a story can be good, but are there are some key elements to making a story, chapter, or novel stand out? There are actually, and this post will address three of them, and I’ll give some examples of really fantastic starting lines I’ve come across in my reading.

Have you read some of the classics (even just dating back a few years ago) where the authors take the time to build a relationship with the reader? The stories start at a leisurely pace and it may take awhile to see any real action. That was nice and great, but unfortunately to be a writer in this day and age you have to forego the hand holding and get right into it. You can do the hand holding stuff, but do it while you are hooking the reader.

1. Start in the Middle of Action

One of the best ways to engage and hook the reader is to start in the middle of some sort of action. If you are starting a story or novel, then it should be bigger and more attention grabbing action.

What sort of action? Ask yourself this question. If you were starting to read a new book or story what would grab your attention?

Maybe your character is in the middle of fighting off a mugger? Or maybe your character is in the middle of a car accident. You can even do a smaller action like maybe a student just dozed off in class and smacked his head against his desk. Or maybe your character is driving down a dark road and the gas light is blinking and there’s not a gas station in sight.

How big the action is isn’t nearly as important as the action itself. Start with that blinking empty fuel tank light, or your character dodging a fist, and go from there. Engagement in this way creates interest, and then the details can be filled out as you continue further into the story.

Here’s an intriguing action line that opens the book The English Assassin by Daniel Silva.

Marguerite Rolfe was digging in her garden because of the secrets she’d found hidden in her husband’s study.

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Posted in build confidence as a writer, character development, character torture, creative writing, experimental writing, good writing, great writing, how to write, novel writing, the art of writing, The Writer's Toolbox, the writing journey, the writing process

Writing About the Things We Fear

“Write what disturbs you, what you fear, what you have not been willing to speak about. Be willing to be split open.” — Natalie Goldberg

Being a writer is a complicated thing. We love to write for the sake of writing, but we also don’t want to write because some days it is just so hard. But still we write, because not writing is not an option.

So what do we write about? People have different views on this. Some like light and happy stories. Some like dark and depressing stories. Some like gore and horror. Some like aliens and cool technology. Some like hot romance where the girl and guy always have their happy ever after. Some like the never ending thrill. And some like deep and moving characters no matter what the story is about.

But we all wonder… what really makes a good story? What draws the reader to each page to hungrily reach the end? What makes writing such an intense and rewarding process for the writer?

I think all these questions have one answer.

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Posted in author, basics of plot, better writing, book review, book spotlight, building plot, first draft, good writing, how to write, learning about writing, learning to write, novel, novel writing, outline, plot, plotting, plotting a novel, plotting a story, The Writer's Toolbox, the writing journey, the writing process, writing, writing better, writing book, writing craft

Plotting Your Novel by Writing from the Middle

As a writer, I am always learning. I think that’s what I love most about writing––the learning never stops. I am either learning something new about myself and writing as I write, or I stumble across new information as I am looking to learn more about writing. This time it was the latter. Recently on Twitter, I ran across a book recommendation for plotting that I loved so much I had to share it here.

Write Your Novel From The Middle: A New Approach for Plotters, Pantsers and Everyone in Between by James Scott Bell is must read for anyone serious about writing. This book goes into detail about why writers should start from the middle of a story instead of the beginning or end (who would of thought!). And how finding a character’s “mirror moment” is essential to true character development.

I definitely believe character development is a key element in a story. The more a reader can relate with a character and feel for a character’s journey, the better the book becomes. And this method certainly will help with that!

This book also helped me realize that I’m a Tweener (I always thought myself a straight up Pantser). I do love writing by the seat of my pants. That’s how I get some of my best ideas, but I also know where I’m writing too as well. I have a loose idea of events I need to reach and about where I need those events to happen. Also, I find already knowing my ending is a necessity to writing, even if I don’t know specifics. Just having a good idea of where I need to stop gives me a clear goal to reach for. But after reading Bell’s book I have an even better way to approach my writing. Start in the middle and Pants my way to the beginning and end. I’ll still have those events and goal posts to reach, but I think it will be far easier to get there knowing exactly what the character’s journey should entail.

And you know this book couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I’ve become somewhat stalled on writing the first draft of my second novel. I think this technique will get things churning quite nicely. Thanks Bell. 🙂

 

Posted in better writing, finding the right words, good writing, how to write, learning about writing, learning your writing style, The Writer's Toolbox, the writing process, thinking on writing, writing, writing advice, writing better

Common Phrases Used by Authors

commo phrasesNow this is an interesting little chart I stumbled upon as I browsed Facebook. This post from the Writer’s Circle. I often enjoy the posts this page puts up, but this one made me stop and think. And the question that popped in my brain was… What would be the most common phrases in my writing?

An argument could be made for the listed words and phrases as being too simplistic and possibly boring. But considering the intended audience (young adult), is that really a bad thing? And it opens the question… is simplistic writing possibly a better way to go? After all, these series are best sellers.

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