Showing posts with label writing tips. Show all posts
Showing posts with label writing tips. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

5 Easy Ways to Make Your Writing Come Alive for Your Reader

My favorite compliment from readers is when I hear, "It felt like I was there." Setting out to write something that generates this feeling from readers would have intimidated me when I was starting out to write my novel, but it really is an accessible skill. Think of all the times you've described a vacation, recalled a funny event, or have given a play by play of a dramatic conversation. You've triggered those same feelings. Thankfully, there is an easy approach to translate that ability into your writing.

Here are the 5 easy ways to make your writing come alive for your reader:

1. Cut out some of the words.

As soon as you tighten up your reading, you are positioning yourself in the category of writers of those brilliant sentences that you want to read over and over again because they are so full. Description and a great turn of phrase work together to bring the reader right into your scene. This can be a second draft approach. Instead of forcing this kind of sentence out the first go round, just get the general story on the page and then refine it once it's there.

2. Use a recording device to capture your storytelling.

Whether it is your phone, voice capture software, or an old school hand held recorder; dictating the story takes the inner editor out of the equation because of the speed of delivery and lack of back space button. The important thing is to get your story down. Your natural story telling voice is likely oral first. Use that to your advantage and watch your project fast track to finish.

3. Tell the story to someone first

Telling the story to an interested audience will rev you up about the project and will help flesh out what the reader wants to know. Note the questions he or she asks you and make sure to answer those in your next (or first) draft. The further engaged you can make the reader, the more impactful your work (and the more likely your next story will have a built in audience)

4. Use interesting noun and verb combinations

One of my favorite writing exercises is to look around the room and compile a list of ten nouns (clock, rug, chair...etc) and then generate a random list of 10 verbs (strolled, chatted, gripped, etc...) and then draw matching lines between them and make interesting sentences (ie. The clock strolled...) It is a fun way to play with language and move your story forward in a fresh new way.

5. Travel in your mind's eye

Daydreaming a bit about your setting and characters means you can write what you see instead of focusing so hard on sentence creation. The more you tap into your natural, unforced, creative ability; the better the experience for both you and your reader.

Let me know if any of these approaches are ones you already use. If you'd like to join an online writing community, meet up here

Stories Your Mother Never Told You is on the Chilliwack Progress' summer reading list  You can read the first 15% for free at smashwords .

If you'd like to join my book reviewer team and get a review copy, leave a comment below.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

10 Ways Personal Reflection can Break Through Writer’s Block

Writer’s Block can strike at any time, but it does not have to be the duration you may have experienced in the past. When something isn’t working in your writing session, you may not know immediately why that is, but you can take it as a sign to take a moment and reflect. 

That reflection can break you through in these 10 ways:

1.       It can reveal favorable and unfavorable situations.

In times of busy-ness and stress, it becomes harder to write on demand. This is because exhaustion is crowding in and when you sit down to think, everything on your plate rises at once and becomes overwhelming. No wonder it’s easier to do a mindless chore or a writing assignment you have less stock in. In contrast, you can think of times when writing has been a delight and thoughts arrived so fast you barely had time to write them down. What was that setting and those circumstances? Introducing those elements to the schedule you’ve taken the time to strip down to the essentials will reconnect you with your muse.

2.       It can identify sources of inspiration for you.

Reflection makes connections between what serves as inspirational process for you  -- things like taking in arts and culture, reading, being in nature, and spending time in great discussions & points out what takes it away – stress, tiredness, and spending time without inspirational input. You can adjust your intake accordingly.

3.       It can break down self defeating thoughts you are giving room to.

When you speak out loud the things you are thinking you will quickly see which are unkind. The unkind thoughts to others we are more quickly repentant of, but the ones to ourselves we can be guilty of letting slide for far too long. Unless you are channeling that angst into a character study in which you are okay with your readers privy to all that, it will serve you much better to identify and shut down the negative self talk, and come up with a fictional account of why your character is feeling the way he or she is. It will be a much faster process without the inner naysayer around.

4.       It can make room for creative thought.

Creative thought comes through play, and spending time spinning “what if” into a proper yarn. It takes time and it is worth it. Through creative thought your story line will take a new direction and excite you. That will buy you more writing time. It’s not hard to make yourself write when inspired.

5.       It can rejuvenate you and connect you with your why.

Reflection is a deep breath of intellectual fresh air. The things you know to be true bump up against that which you’ve been taking in from the world and reflection brings them out in new ways like discussions, allegories, and artwork. If artists didn’t take time to reflect, they couldn’t give to the world like they do. Write and share what you have to share.

It can give voice to what you want to say.

Reflection brings to the surface things that you have been dwelling on. One of the best pieces of interviewing advice an editor ever gave me was to ask the questions I myself wanted to know. Usually everyone else is wondering too. Research the things you have been spending time on. The same approach can be taken with fiction themes to explore, settings and cultures you enjoy, etc.

7.       It can counteract your excuses.

When you are reflecting on the falsehoods you are telling yourself, also be on the lookout for excuses. Excuses fight against your underlying intent. Finding out what your excuses are means instead of being confused as to why you are out of time, tired, at day’s end, and still don’t have any writing done; you will have an action plan to make sure the same thing doesn’t happen tomorrow.

8.       It can remind you of past successes.

You know you can make your writing happen because you’ve done it before. When a story poured out of you, a reader connected with you, an audience member laughed, or someone left a comment on your blog – that experience can be repeated again, and again, and again. It is a possibility every time you introduce your writing to the world.

9.       It can birth your vision.

Writing brings your observations, dreams, insights, and stories to the world. It also can serve to impact your day to day living as you build a readership and develop your platform. Earning from your interest in writing buys you more time to explore it. It can go as far as you care to take it.

10.   It can clear away the distractions.

Distractions are part of our everyday experience, but reflection removes them consciously from thought process and makes room for focus. Focus can be used for story developing, scheduling, planning, and content producing.

The next time you are experiencing writer’s block, think of reflection as the tool that can beat it. You already know what you know. Take the time to remind yourself of it and your writing time will benefit from the investment.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

5 Tips for Making the Most of Your Writing Night In

The Weekend is here. And you’ve planned a writing night in. When an exciting night in involves a notebook and a pen, you cannot deny being a writer. It may be the reward for a week’s worth of day job or if you are already working as a freelance writer, working on your pet fiction project may be the reward for writing the business copy that pays the bills all week. 

This is an opportunity to really make some progress on what you’ve been dreaming about, but it also can go by really quickly and make you wonder if you set out what you meant to accomplish. Fortunately, there are some easy ways to make the most of your writing night in.

Here are five:

1.       Know what you’re going to work on.

If you approach your writing session with the project in hand and perhaps a few notes on it, you will fare far better than if you have a few options to work on and none decided ahead of time. Splitting your time between planning and writing is fine if that’s what you’re intending, but don’t let your writing time dwindle because you’ve failed to plan.

2.       Set the stage.

Give yourself an experience with some favorite food and drink and a great spot in which to write free of distractions. Clear out the paperwork you could be dealing with, library books that have yet to be returned, and close the drawers that need to be organized. These are things that can be done tomorrow and your writing is here now. Enjoy it.

3.       Decide what success looks like.

You know whether your goal is to outline your novel’s chapters, develop a plotline, write a pre-determined number of words, or sit and write until the timer goes off. Decide what success looks like to you and stick to it. Once you’ve achieved what you’ve set out to, you can continue to work in the stream of momentum you’ve created or stop and celebrate a successful writing session with something else.

4.      Plan to debut your work.

Having someone to show your completed work to by email or over coffee the next day means you will have the verbal affirmation of your show and tell and their feedback. This will cement your practice as a positive activity and make it all the more likely there will be more of them. Meeting up with a fellow writer means you can give back as well by providing feedback and inspiration. A give and take brings a new source of momentum into your process.

5.       Make plans to do it again.

Examine if the writing session worked as you’d planned. Did the time work? Setting? Did you have the right sized writing tasks picked out for the time allotted? Being realistic and adapting your future plans on the experience of this one allows for improved process each time and a more enjoyable experience.

The writing life can take many forms. Even before you are bringing in income for your writing, you are a writer. You write, therefore you are a writer. Planning your writing sessions and executing them are what will allow you to improve your craft, have work to show editors and agents, and publish independently or under contract. If you have writing questions you want answered, leave a comment below or email

Monday, July 18, 2016

Taking in Writing Advice Without Risking Losing Your Individuality

There are so many interesting people out there doing their writing thing. Each one seems to be on to something. But how do you incorporate their advice and insights while staying true to your path? Here are 4 tricks to keep you on your own track no matter how much your browsing the writing world out there: (& how to avoid changing direction every time you hear something new)

1. Level out your experience and their input.

That is, make sure you are logging at least as much writing time as browsing and strategizing time. The business of writing and the art of the craft are crazy interesting to research, but you don't want to sacrifice precious writing time for them. Strike a balance by agreeing with yourself to have a certain amount of time for browsing and note-taking and then an equal or greater amount for your own querying and article topic brainstorming, story development, and word count generation.

2. Research the ones that make sense for you.

Whether you are a horror or romance novelist or a poet or business writer, keep to the strategies in line with your genre and save yourself a bunch of time by following respected writers in your field and googling interviews with them or connecting with them on goodreads or linkedin . Of course, you can adapt great strategies from one genre to another, but only sign up for this if you have the time to spare.

3. Take what works for you and leave the rest.

No need to get off balance if a strategy that is working well for you is not the favored one of your favorite author. Similarly if a list of intimidating recommended new technologies only has one or two on it that you want to try. Don't feel like everything from anyone is right for you. Before long, you will be recommending your favorites to people and they will be taking what works for them too. Writers are people before they're writers. We are all different.

4. Celebrate your own journey.

Take some time to write up a blurb about what you're learning and your process as a writer. You can blog about it, write up your own interview and post it on social media, or connect with another blogger who does guest posts or profiles.

As a great writer once said, "To thine own self be true." And another "There is nothing new under the sun." But the world is waiting for your version. So like the doctor says "get on your way".

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Have You Found the Right Platform for your Writing? 4 Ways You can Know.

If you've been writing for any length of time now, past the stage where you're only writing for yourself and onto the one where you are connecting with your readership; you'll be aware how much time promotion can take.
Ideally your sharing platform will be easy to access and in line with your message but there are so many options. How do you know you've found the right platform for your writing?

Whether you are a blogger, a storyteller, or a business or technical writer, here are 4 ways you can know you are connecting with your readership in the most efficient way, leaving time for content creation.

1. You have a few readers. 

Don't worry if the number is not up there. You can grow your reach by using any number of virtual tools or promotional strategies. Growing your readership is a combination of regular output and being of service to your readership. Give them a reason to come back and they will bring their friends.

2. You are being consistent.

Whether in posting regularity or genre or niche expertise, your readers know why to come to you first. If you can help your readers consistently by entertaining them or assisting them with their own writing enterprises, you will train them to come back to you for content and inspiration. Look at you! Making a difference!

3. You are spending the bulk of your promotional time on one medium.

Maybe two. Or channeling your main blog or website message through links on other social networking sites (buffer or hootsuite save you time here) But don't try to master all of the social networking avenues at once. It will be hard to keep up the pace. Better to shine on one site and be share worthy.

4. You are growing in confidence and picking up new skills.

Within each social marketing medium from blog hosting sites like blogger and wordpress and website hosting sites like webs and wix and platforms such as twitter, pinterest, facebook, and instagram; there is much to learn and benefit from in terms of strategy.

google the words author, promotion, and [insert your favorite social media network here] to find helpful articles like this one

Do you have anything to add or want to share your blog or website with nothisplace readers? comment below.

Friday, July 08, 2016

Is a writing space important to producing consistently? & 3 Ways to do so.

When you see your favorite author in your mind, how do you picture them? In his or her office with books behind them and reams of paper on both sides of the desk? How does this compare to you? You don't have a dedicated office space for your writing you say? How will that affect your output you wonder. Is that why you haven't made as much progress as you'd have hoped? Before you take out a loan and start renovating, let's explore another more important factor.

Perhaps having a writing space doesn't matter. I'd argue in fact that having a writing routine matters a whole lot more. It doesn't have to be a big writing space to leave enough room to create a great work of fiction. A laptop or a table and notebook is enough. But what is more important is a routine. It doesn't have to look the same every day, but if there are writing routines built into your week, you know you will get to your writing regularly and it will get done. This is far superior to having a room dedicated to writing. A room will only get you in your space, facing the wall. The routine is what will get your writing going.

3 Ways you can make the most of whatever space you have by establishing your routine:

1. Make it realistic

You may have to cut some things out of your schedule to fit in the writing you want to be doing. If you had a lot of free time already you'd probably have tackled the projects that are important to you. By making space in your calendar and booking in your writing time like appointments, you are shaping up your day to realistically achieve your goals. Note: If you front load your day with your new writing time, you are more likely to get the writing work done. New habits call for new routines. If you still find you have creative energy left over at day's end and want to do something besides binge watch Netflix, by all means put in another session. But don't count on late night to be a consistent production source. It doesn't happen for most people.

2. Decide on an outcome you want to achieve

Whether you want to write a certain number of words on your novel per day or blog several times a week, decide on an outcome you want to achieve. Whatever it is, the person it is most important to, is you. Unless you are on staff for a magazine or blogging for a company, you will not have outside expectations. Personal projects and visions require more discipline. Deciding on what will look like success in your writing time in terms of output means you know when you are achieving it because it's a matter of looking at the word count and posting frequency. Looking with a critical eye on the results too early can result in project paralysis. In comparison, the routine system examines process, not results. Focusing on process increases practice and that in turn improves the writing and grows the readership which is what you were after all along.

3. Attach a deadline

In order to build accountability into your personal project, attach a deadline and inform some people who care about your success. Let them know when they can read your post, first draft, contest entry, etc. Put it on the calendar and meet up and produce the work. Alternately, saving time over meeting up in person, there are many writer's forums and online groups in which you can post deadlines and share work for feedback. Take advantage of them or create your own. It is by utilizing these micro deadlines that you will achieve the project you've been dreaming of. 

So yes, a space is nice, but it is not essential. What is critical to your writing success is to establish a routine for getting your writing done. With it in place, all you have to do is execute.