Flowery Writing – is it Dead?

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Has it ever occurred to you, that as we lean more and more towards ‘simple and sweet’, we are losing a once much loved writing style?

Yes, flowery writing is dead.

Or rather, it’s dying…

Time-honoured classics, the likes of which famed authors such as Charles Dickens and Emily Bronte have penned, will soon be remembered no more.

How can they be when consumers and writers alike are taking the easy route?

People are striving both to read and write easily consumable media, as opposed to brewing up heavy literature and weighty poems

This, for the most part, is due to laziness.

Readers are strapped for time and can’t be bothered to switch on their brain – especially after laborious work.

As for writers?

Well, we need to pay the bills don’t we?

If the market calls for easy-to-read material, surely we must step in and provide!

It’s not as if we can go against the crowd, and unleash a whole lotta’ complex sentences and profound paragraphs on lazy readers, now is it?

Or, can we…?

I say yes – we certainly can!

Think about it. It’s highly beneficial for us writers, if we write harder to read material – both on the web and everywhere else.

I know, I sound like an idiot right now. However, in the long run it’s what’s going to save the craft because, let’s be honest, in a few years we won’t even be able to call writing a ‘craft’.

How can we dare, especially when writing will be so ‘dumbed down’ that even a fledgling three-year-old would be able to read it!

Let’s face it, we’re heading nowhere good.

We’re heading towards a world littered with tight sentences and monotone voices, yet bereft of superb writing and dazzling prose

With all the copy-writing and blogging courses prodding us towards an overly simplified way of writing – how are we not going to end up there?

Before I go on…

It’s worth mentioning that money is the primary reason why it’s such an extreme trend these days to cut words willy-nilly and keep language simple.

If a blog post, advertisement, or article can reach all colours of the rainbow in terms of reading proficiency, their prospects of snagging more clients increases drastically.

However, this isn’t necessarily as profitable as it seems. Especially for fiction writers, and readers.

Over time, this trend founded on money-making, will lead to lower literacy skills and sub par education across the world.

After all, who needs to read those ‘big fancy words’ when no one uses them?

And let’s not forget… It will also sucker-punch the fiction industry, due to people veering away from reading text in bulk.

This simple fact my fellow writers, is the reason why most contemporary novels reject flowery language (as us writers would say) and embrace the concept of minimal wordage.

Sure it’s great for sales, truly it is! But it’s terrible for the development of society and the advancement of global literacy levels. And I hate to say it, but it’s already causing trouble for people.

Seriously… Fifty Shades of Grey??

This is why it’s best to push readers. Stretch them to their limits! Don’t cut sentences and follow the current theme of simplification rocking this world.

Fight what’s happening!

As writers, we are supposedly craftsmen and craftswomen of all things literary. Let us live up to those titles!

Let us also not stoop and lay our heads down to the strategies of corporate clones and advertisers.

Let us, in all earnestness and conviction, hone our craft and create beautiful art.

Remember; art is deep, meaningful, and it moves the soul – it is not simple and watered down.

Sure, I know my advice is a tad controversial and I might ruffle some feathers. Especially since Hemingway was the master of simplifying his writing – but, what he did was different!

He made it an art-form.

He made sure that every word was perfect and that it formed something that spoke to the heart.

What’s happening to writing now, in this day and age?

That’s nothing like Hemingway.

Nothing at all.

If you want to make simple language beautiful, make Hemingway your master. But, do not rip your writing of its form and its meaning!

Do not cut long words and squash your vocabulary. 

Please, I beg you… Writer to writer… do not continue this trend of blank dumbed-down hogwash, that ultimately, is going to send us back into the caveman era.

Let’s write like adults, for adults – not like children, for children.

This way?

We can save the world from what seems to be, well, to be blunt, an impending boom in illiteracy.

 

If You’re in Australia, Here’s an Insightful Article You Might Want to Read – http://www.sbs.com.au/news/insight/explainer/hidden-costs-low-literacy-australia

 

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Writing Inspiration: Why You Don’t Have Any

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Are you strapped for inspiration?

Are you struggling to find quality ideas?

Is that mysterious spark that all writers need, alluding you just like you hide from commitment?

Yeah, it is isn’t it?

I bet you want to scratch your nails across your desk. I bet, you’re just about to give up and thump your head onto your premium $150 mechanical keyboard.

You’re probably wondering right now, if it’s possible to live a life completely and utterly uninspired.

After all, that is what’s happening to you right now.

And let’s face it, if you don’t find inspiration fast – you’re doomed. No ifs or buts about it. You are a gonner.

You’re toast.

You are, fineto.

Seriously, how can a writer write, without inspiration! It’s practically impossible.

So, what’s got you so darn uninspired?

Now, here’s the real reason you have zero inspiration.

You are not thinking like a writer.

Yep, you heard me. I said it, and I’m not ashamed!

If you’re living your life as per usual, half-asleep and walking around in a mindless doze. It’s doubtful that you’re going to notice inspiring situations, and spot those cataclysmic events that can spawn wondrous stories.

You need to kick yourself in the butt, and start looking at the world through the bright dazzling eyes of a writer!

Look at everything. Analyse everything!

Allow NOTHING to escape your scrutiny.

Listen in on conversations – yes, eavesdropping is bad, but, you’re a writer so you’re immune to such silly formalities.

Watch the sun set, and the sun rise. Watch two lovers fall into each other’s arms. Watch best friends punch each other a bit too hard, and then begin to brawl for dominance!

Watch.

You will never find inspiration, if you do not filter the world through a perspective of creativity and curiosity. You will never succeed as a writer, if you do not watch what’s around you.

You need to live, and live HARD.

So, is it possible to find inspiration before it’s too late?

Of course it is! You just needa’ strap on your ‘I’m a professional writer cap’, and step outside into the big ole’ outdoors.

If you stop thinking like a writer, and fail to observe your surroundings, it’s going to be downright impossible to snag a bit of inspo.

But.

As long as you jerk yourself out of that slump you’re in, and put on your big boy (or girl) shoes, you’ll be fine and dandy in no time.

Where can we writers, find inspiration day in and day out?

Easy. Outside.

I know, I probably just made a lot of ‘home-bodies’ and ‘introverts’ shrivel up inside. But, unfortunately it’s the cold hard truth.

How can you expect to be inspired and produce quality ideas to write about, when you stay in the same place and never move from your butt-creased sofa?

Get up, grab a snack, and step through your front door! There are sights to see, people to visit, and an abundance of inspiration that needs catching.

Great places to become inspired include: Cafes (Great for improving dialogue, learning mannerisms, as well as honing physical characterisation), Parks (Enhances understanding of one’s world, and furthers a writer’s ability to describe environment – also parks are freaking awesome), libraries (Great for people watching, useful for spur of the moment prompts in concerns of a stranger’s life).

There is no shortage of places that you can go, to get inspired.

You simply need to get off your ass, and go somewhere!

What should you do now?

Stop pulling your hair out.

You need to realise that the real problem blocking you from inspiration, is your perception.

There is a story to be found everywhere.

A bloody stapler, can inspire you to write one of the best serial killer novels in the world!

You need to get creative with it – Look through a different lens, and get to living your life.

If you don’t live, and feel, you will fall into a dark formless abyss, forever void of creativity and growth.

I don’t mean to scare you here, but it has to be said!

LIVE, live before it’s too late.

 

10 Incredible Fantasy Writing Tips Every Writer Needs to Know

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Do you crave with an uncontrollable need, to weave fairy tales of mass proportions that would spur even the Brother’s Grim, to jealousy?

Do you desire, to concoct SciFi dystopias that’d make J. J. Abrams and George Lucas clap in thunderous applause?

If yes – then fantasy is where you should be, friend!

But…

Before you get to churning out those first few pages of your draft. Do a little studying first – there’s nothing more annoying than an author who doesn’t do his/her research.

Luckily for you, I’ve compiled the ‘must-haves’ of fantasy writing into an easy to read listicle.

Oh how the word “listicle” makes me shiver! Eeeh!!!

1. Make Sure Your Protagonist Has a Strong Voice and Personality

Do not ruin your brilliant fantasy novel with a 2-dimensional protagonist. Your readers will hate you, and they’ll probably bang on your window at midnight for their money back.

Before putting pen to paper or fidgeting fingers to keyboard, rough out who your protagonist is and what they want.

Figure out what makes your protagonist tick, what makes them cry, and what drives them to violence; once you sort those details out, you will find it’s easier to flesh out your main character in your first draft.

A few great questions to ask yourself are: What was your protagonist’s childhood like? Did they have a great childhood, or a bad one?

Often than not, our childhoods are what shapes us the most as human-beings.

Now, I need to make this clear for everyone, just in case there’s a few stragglers who really don’t know the ropes.

Fantasy, is a very complex and detail-driven niche. What you don’t want to do, is slack and write a character suitable for the likes of a Twilight remake.

What most writers forget, is that anyone who is into fantasy, has probably read the Hobbit and TLOTR. They’ve also most likely had a gander at Game of Thrones.

These people, these fantasy readers, want grittiness. They want characters that move them to tears. They want a character, that can infuriate them. They NEED characters that make them feel, and think.

Unfortunately, Bella Swan and Christian Grey aren’t going to cut it.

So, don’t write characters like that!

2. World Building; It Needs to be In-depth!

Another crucial element to the fantasy genre, is world.

Don’t expect to half ass the descriptions and details of the setting you’ve plopped your characters into, and where you’ve built your plot.

You need to create a dazzling image in the minds of your readers.

Help them, to understand what’s going on in YOUR head.

Don’t leave your readers hanging, and don’t force them to fill in too many gaps in the world you’ve built, or rather haven’t built.

Allow the reader, to engage in the world you’ve created – draw them in!

The best books known to man, are those that capture a readers attention, and make them feel as if they’re a part of the story.

Try your hardest to replicate that same feeling. Because, if you don’t?

You will be dishing out the refunds, quicker than you can call your millionaire uncle for a loan.

3. Create Conflict Between Characters 

Whether they’re lovers or sworn enemies, conflict is a must.

In real life, people go through all sorts of ups and downs during relationships. We’re not stationary creatures, and the same can be said for our emotions.

Recreate that same reality, in your novels.

Add a dash of conflict, and a spritz of tension – trust me, it always helps to make the medicine go down!

I know that whenever I am reading a great book – there’s always something going on between the characters that gets me grabbing the popcorn.

The more drama, the more your readers are going to love you! And, if anything, the same can be said but DOUBLED for fantasy readers.

After all, fantasy is built upon foundations of drama and suspense. When you bring those pivotal elements into character relationships? Everything becomes all that much sweeter.

4. Be Extravagant and Insane

This is not a contemporary book, or a romantic novella. This, my writing pal, is fantasy.

Incorporate that which bewilders, and that which tantalises, into your narrative.

Readers want actions, they want something that hits ’em right where it hurts and pins them to their seat.

Knock their socks off, with an awesome fight between a dragon and a puny peasant.

Make them, for just a moment, have a bout of irritable bowel syndrome, as they read about warring kingdoms and inter-galactic battles.

Do not make your story normal. Make it BOLD.

Make it, insane and downright extravagant!

5. Refrain From Simple Language

Sure simple language is perfect for the internet – especially for blogs! But, it’s definitely not good for the fantasy genre. Unless, of course, you’re writing for sixth graders.

Understand that for the most part, readers of fantasy are extremely imaginative, and they’re also pretty darn intelligent. They don’t want to read through paragraphs of prose, that lacks complexity and substance.

Stimulate the minds of your readers with your entire vocab – let their brains tick away as they scrutinise your information-packed sentences, and they devour your poetic descriptions of bulbous pub dwellers and impoverished rascals.

Don’t let them twiddle away their thumbs and begin to snore, due to short sentences devoid of the brilliance and impact expected of a fantasy novel.

6. Don’t Tell Too Much

As is customary for all stories, whether they be long or short, showing is always better than telling.

In fantasy writing, readers are veterans when it comes to reading A LOT of telling. But, please oh please, don’t over-do it!

If you forget to wow your readers, and show in your writing, you’ll basically kick suspense into the out-house and as for drama.. Well, there’s no use even discussing it!

7. Balance Out the Unknown with What’s Known

If you’re planning on writing a world completely and utterly different to our own – forget about it. Throw your ideas in the trash, and don’t ever try looking at them again.

Why?

Well, how in the world are readers, going to be able to relate to a world that has nothing relatable in it?

Simple: They can’t, and they won’t.

Make sure if you’re tackling a monstrous story, involving alien landscapes and uncharted cultural differences, you interweave some form of normalcy into your tale.

If there’s something that a reader can identify, and understand, they will be more capable of understanding that which is entirely new and foreign.

8. Make Names BELIEVABLE 

I had to throw this one in here, because time and time again I see newbie writers making this mistake.

They create names that a) Readers can’t even guess at pronouncing, and b) That looks like the mud a pig’s recently rolled around in.

Readers will thank you later if you make sure your character names make sense, and can audibly be said.

There’s nothing good about a story chock-full of unpronounceable words. Remember that.

9. Every Detail Needs to Count

Fantasy readers love detail, yes. But, do you think they’re going to enjoy strenuous writing concerning the shape and dimensions of a space-age fruit bowl, as opposed to a gunfight between two green-skinned laser-pistol touting Martians?

Yeah, I’mma say it… they’d probably prefer the gunfight.

Sure, go ahead and describe the scenes in your novel that are absolutely crucial and that direct the entire narrative, add as much detail as you want – the more description the better.

But.

As for the smaller scenes? Throw in some detail here or there, but keep your focus always on what’s truly important and key to your story.

10. Always Foreshadow

Dropping bombshells on readers can work wonders for your story. But, they can also ruin it.

Foreshadowing is crucial to any good novel, and definitely for fantasy writing.

Implement foreshadowing in every nook and cranny you can find! The more of it, the better.

It’s not realistic to suddenly have your protagonist shoot a woman dead, without any clues or hints building up to that point.

There needs to be a clear traceable progression, or else you’re just going to jar your readers.

When it comes to fantasy, although the genre is obviously a fantastical one, it’s also one of the most realistic. Since, it demands a high level of detail and character development, and requires the plot to follow a path that if possible, could be reenacted in our own world.

For this reason, foreshadowing needs to be consistent and present at all times.

 

Okie-dokie, that’s all! If you feel that I missed anything, or have suggestions for other writers, please leave a comment below!

The more us writers communicate and interact with each other, the more we can all develop and flourish as wordsmiths.

Take care now, and God bless!

 

Finding Your Unique Voice in the Writing Industry

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How can you, a writer swamped by other, more acclaimed and publicised literary figures, find your voice?

The writing industry is a cruel and toughened mistress – she is not going to hold your hand and wait with motherly patience, for you to figure out who you are and what you have to say.

Sadly, you have to figure that out all on your own.

But what if you can’t? What if, finding your voice is proving to be a harder undertaking than first thought?

What if… You’ll never find your writing voice, and you will forever sink beneath the authority and fame of established authors and successful bloggers?

How can you, just another person in the industry attempting to make it big and hone your craft, compete against the big leagues?

After all, they seem to call all the shots – and, have all the lucky breaks that gets them from the bottom right to the tippy top.

They’re the ones who have all the power, and they have the readership you so desperately crave.

You might as well be doomed to an eternity of anonymity and voicelessness, right?

Wrong – Don’t sweat it.

Finding your voice may not be as easy as it seems, but you can do it. I know you can!

If a silly and very much peculiar 5 ft girl like me, with hair that is reminiscent of algae and who has a leg just slightly longer than the other, can do it – you bet your ass you can too.

And in due time, that fantastic voice of yours will become published and read by thousands.

The first step is to read, and read like crazy.

I know, I know. I promote reading probably a lot more than I do writing. But, it’s absolutely crucial if you want to hone your craft!

You cannot expect to hide away in a bubble filled to the brim with your own writing, and never let another author in, who for the most part is far more learned than you and can teach you a thing or two.

In order to reach new heights, and have a shot at becoming an NY Times best-seller, we need inspiration and we need to learn from those around us.

And no, this doesn’t mean you can go and read G.R.R. Martin and steal his style, or nick Tolkien’s unrivaled plot-lines.

This means, you simply need to absorb and learn from your peers – don’t become them, but become inspired by them!

We are who we are, because of our environment, our families, and our social group. Without the elements that dominated and retained our attention in our formative years, we wouldn’t be who we are.

Think about it.

Seriously, think about it!

Our personalities would be drastically different, and for the most part, we wouldn’t even be able to recognise ourselves, if it weren’t for our experiences.

Simply put. We are our quirky selves, because we were inspired by what was around us.

We drew inspiration from the world.

Good or bad, we sucked up every ounce of info we could. And that is how we came to be uniquely and identifiably ourselves.

Now, when you understand that fact. It makes sense that the more books, or for that matter blogs you read, especially those that are lavished with fame, the more you’ll replicate that same level of poetic fluency and word flow all the greats seem to have.

You will, yes, inevitably pick up a few stylistic habits from the authors you are learning from – but eventually you will find your own voice and those imperceptible habits will fade away.

All of what you’ve read, will form a unique and specifically you sort of voice and writing style.

No one will be able to copy you, because what has inspired you and morphed you into a prolific and brilliant writer, has been curated and sculpted by your own hands.

Everyone approaches things differently, even inspiration. And I’ve never met in my life a person that absorbs a situation just the same as the fella next to them.

So, have at those books and go get bloody inspired!

Try writing different genres or writing with a different tone.

No one ever said writers can’t have fun and attempt something new!

Give writing different genres a try, or have a shot at writing a blog post with a different tone than usual.

For example, if you usually write romance stories – give horror a try!

If you often write your blog posts in a very formal and uptight format, perhaps loosen up and let a bit of comedic flair find its way into your article?

As you switch from genre to genre, and write with new emotions and tone, you’ll find that you will hate some of these changes but love others even more.

The genres and the writing approaches you love? That’s your voice. Or at least, that’s where your voice flourishes and grows.

Do not try to water a dead flower, by forcing yourself to write what refuses to come out naturally. Instead, write what flows like softened honey, and makes you feel good inside.

With a bit of time and practise, you will find that special voice of yours. That voice that is yours and yours alone.

Write about what only you can write about.

We all have those experiences almost too personal to share.

Those stories, that if anyone knew, we’d instantly be treated differently – either molly-coddled and plied with fifty two cups of earl-grey tea, or beaten and bruised into a purple pulsating pulp.

These very personal and intrinsically ‘ours’ stories, can only ever be written by us. Sure, there’s plenty of people who have gone through the same sort of stuff as us at one point or another. But, they will never feel the same as you, or have thought about the situation the same way as you have.

Get to writing those stories, no matter how hard they are. You might stir up a bee’s nest. But, you’ll get out all of that pent-up emotion that you’ve ignored for a tad too long, and you’ll learn to understand yourself and your voice along the way.

The key to a writer’s voice, is their perception of reality and their experiences. If you write about your experiences, and how you perceived them, there’s no chance in heck you’re going to come out a voiceless inept writer with nothing to say.

You will learn so much about yourself – you’ll find things that you never thought existed inside of you. You will grow both as a person, and as a writing craftsmen or craftswoman.

For all you know, writing about that special moment that either broke you or built you, might just turn into a sprawling narrative that surges up the charts and becomes a number one best-seller.

That’s it, folks.

Don’t ever rush finding your writing voice. It is a process, one that needs careful attention and nurturing.

Think of your voice as a garden on the verge of budding beautiful vibrant flowers.

Would you suddenly go around drenching all of the plants in water, just to speed up their budding?

No. You would wait with patience, and you would let the flowers unfold and grace the world with their beauty on their own time.

That, fellow writers, is how you need to treat your voice.

Your voice is special, and truly beautiful. Don’t ruin it by prying it out of yourself with a hacksaw, and tweezers.

Let it be; it will arrive and blossom sooner than you’d expect.

The Complete Guide: Writing Motivation

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Motivation. We writer’s need it.

But, how exactly do we go about finding it?

Do we trawl through various cafes, spying out every guy with a macbook and a caramel macchiato – hoping his productive juices (No pun intended) will rub off on us?

Do we go ahead and buy $30 ebooks, that supposedly “kills writer’s block dead”?

Or, do we roll around in bed in 5-day-old pyjamas that smells of sweat and failure, waiting for the words to our novels and blogs to just fall on us like a cliché piano, dangling out of an apartment window?

Nope. We do none of those things! Especially, buying that overpriced ebook… Eeeeh.

Instead we find a list compiled with all the motivational techniques known to man – or at least most of them. Then we read it!

Luckily for you, I’ve gone and created a 4500+ word comprehensive guide, on how writer’s can boost motivation every single time.

I know, that’s a pretty bold statement to make, but I have confidence this guide will knock your socks off!

I say ‘confidence’, but it’s more like a desperate, all-consuming hope, which will probably keep me up at night until months go by and I forget I’ve posted this thing…

Anyway.

Too long have writer’s stared wistfully at their computer screens! Too long, have our pens been used to scribble mildly offensive cartoons in the upper-corners of our writing journals.

For too darn long, have words alluded us and dispersed into the abyss like water vapour!

It is time, my literary friends, that we kicked writer’s block and lack of motivation, on its big ole’ saggy posterior.

1. DO NOT set yourself ‘extreme word count goals’!

Every time I see a fellow writer doing or suggesting obscene word counts to boost motivation, I want to cry.

Because, in a matter of days time and time again, new writers will lose all motivation to write, and that word count ends up looming above their heads like an angry matron – ready to pummel and bash their skulls in with a welding mallet.

As writers we shouldn’t push ourselves to write heinous word-counts like 5000 words a day. We shouldn’t even really push ourselves to write 1000 words a day!

Forcing anything will never culminate in solid results.Well, at least as far as I am concerned!

Setting a word count, inevitably takes the fun out of writing. We will feel pressured to drum out as many words as we can before the sun sets, or rises depending on your sleep schedule, and this will cause the problem of ‘quantity over quality’.

Our prose will be sloppy, our sentence structure a joke, and our paragraphs a war-zone.

I know, you’re probably thinking – but it’s just the first draft, what does it matter if my writing sucks? It matters a lot, actually.

Think about it, if you’re building a house and its foundations consist of rickety old wood that’s rotting away before your very eyes, are you going to be able to build a solid structure, and eventually home, out of that?

No. You’re not.

Although it’s ok to just focus on getting your story out onto paper when writing your first draft. What’s not ok, is to rush! Details will go missing, descriptions will be flawed, and you’ll leave yourself regrettably, with a lot more editing work.

Sure, if word counts work for you – and you like them. Go ahead. But I really don’t suggest setting unreasonable goals and requirements for yourself, especially if you’re new, have a job, and you want to maintain your enjoyment for the writing process.

Let the words flow naturally. If they want to come out they will – don’t try to turn 200 words that came out of you like warm butter, into a thousand words that you had to rip out of yourself with a titanium crowbar.

2. Routine, routine, routine – you need it.

The worst thing you can possibly do to yourself as a writer, is continuously put off writing.

You need to find time in your day to write – be it a few words, or a gargantuan stack of pages.

It doesn’t matter how much you jot down, you just need to jot something, anything, down. This is why I will always stress the importance of routine.

Organising yourself, and finding that stray run-away hour that can be utilised for writing is extremely beneficial.

Often, we assume we are all so busy, that we couldn’t ever dream of sitting down day after day and letting the words flow. But we’re wrong! If you write out a rough list of things you do in your day, with the hours tallied to the side, you will find at least 3 or so hours are unaccounted for.

These hours, are probably being used to eat junk-food and mindlessly watch the newest TV series on HBO. Unfortunately, you are going to have to cut that out of your life!

If you want to be a writer, you need to make sure you are writing. You can’t just plop down in front of your computer, and type out only a few measly words a month – that’s not productive by any means, and will cause your projects to move along at a sluggish pace.

A pace, that you’ll more than likely grow frustrated with.

I make sure to write at least once a day. Whether it’s an article, or a story, it doesn’t particularly matter to me. As long as I know I am honing my craft and doing the best that I can possibly achieve with my study load, I am happy.

Your writing routine doesn’t have to be ‘at so-and-so on blah-bleeh-blah’. No, you can wing it if you want! As long as you make sure you’ve written here or there, that’s all that matters. But, that’s not to say a bit of structure and rigidity in life isn’t a good thing!

Keep in mind, you don’t have to write every single day if you don’t want to. But, if you really want to supercharge your craft and motivation, writing more tends to help you, well… Write more!

The more I write, oddly enough, the more I find I want to write – it’s almost like an addiction! A pleasurable one for that matter, that keeps me out of the nearest rehab due to the sweet allure of mary-jane or the joviality of foul-mouthed gin.

3. Writing exercises, they actually work!

In one of my subjects at college for my course in professional writing and editing, writing exercises are used each and every time during classes.

We never go a class without them.

And you know what? They’re actually fun and they boost motivation like crazy.

There’s nothing better than a writing challenge that promotes you to try new things, and step out of your comfort zone.

If you want to try writing exercises I have to warn you – you might be sitting at your desk for a good few minutes scratching your head, trying to figure out how you want to attack the prompt or exercise. But once you start writing? You’ll be on a roll!

Writing exercises are honestly such a great tool to integrate into your writing routine. Not only are you actually doing some writing, but you are playing with new topics, characters, and ideas – ones you probably never thought to write before.

A few great exercises I’d personally recommend are:

  • Construct three characters – Personalities, needs, wants, and fears included! Oh, and make sure they’re COMPLETELY DIFFERENT from each other. Once that’s done. Put them all in the same situation, one by one, and write down how you think they’d react to their environment and their current circumstances. The situations you can throw them in can be anything – but, I suggest making it dramatic and unexpected! Robberies, fires, and crashes tend to be a great place to start.
  • World building! This exercise involves picturing a world different to our own, and making it come to life on paper or on the computer screen. Try doing at least two worlds, and describe each world’s environment, governance, culture, and societal rules. You can totally go crazy with this one and make anything from a desert-wasteland, to a mechanised dystopia, or even a realm full of magic and fire sprites. It’s all in your very capable hands.
  • Write back-stories. You can use the three characters you made in the above exercise to do this one, or you can make up completely different characters. What you want to do, is draw up an idea of a character and get a good understanding of who they are. Then, you are going to want to find out why they are who they are! Write out a back-story that makes sense, and that comes from the character more than yourself. For instance, if your character is aggressive and spiteful, what made them that way? What hurt them so bad, that they can’t show kindness to others anymore?

One of the extra bonuses of trying out writing exercises is that the ideas, the stories, and the plot-points you come up with, can always be used later as inspiration for a novel or short-story!

4. Turn that bloody phone off!

Don’t waste your time, by putting a lot of effort into setting time aside to write, to only go and sabotage yourself. Leaving phones on, or any form of electronics for that matter on, is an absolute death sentence for writing.

Make sure you eliminate all gadgets that a) distract you, and b) notify you via boisterous pings.

Yes I know, sometimes notifications are dreadfully important and could entail the likes of a job opportunity or a familial update. But, sometimes you’ve gotta’ cut the fat and grit your teeth and bear it.

There’s a time and place for everything, and electronics are certainly not welcome when you want to stay motivated, and write!

5. Write badly once in a while

Sometimes what a writer needs, is to ignore those extravagant projects causing unnecessary stress and sapping motivation, and type out a few meaningless words once in a while.

It’s always good to start up notepad or Microsoft word on the computer, and begin tapping those keys on your keyboard. It doesn’t matter what you write, as long as you write something.

One of the biggest issues for writers when it comes to maintaining and regulating motivation, is the fact we can’t seem to kick-start our writing and dive head first into it. That’s why it’s always good to write about absolutely nothing in particular.

Once you get the words flowing, eventually, after a few hundred words, you’ll be ready to continue your project or write that article for your client.

It’s not important whether you have a topic or a motive for what you’re writing with this one, it can really be about anything! The key to this motivational trick, is to simply embrace it and jump into it with no restraint or fear.

6. Stay loyal to your writing

You can’t call yourself a writer, and then ignore writing as if it’s that boring uncle that always regales you with tales of his ‘shoe-tree collection’. Stay loyal to your writing!

Writing is your friend, it’s your brother or sister, it can even be your partner from time to time! Either way, writing is always going to be there for you whenever you need it. But, are you going to be there for writing?

That’s entirely up to you.

But don’t expect to stay motivated 99% of the time, when you don’t respect writing as an art-form, and you refuse to accept it as a crucial part of your life.

If you can live without writing another word in your novel or on your blog, maybe, just maybe, you shouldn’t be writing at all.

7. Try out motivational tools

Never be afraid to delve into writing tools that challenge you, and motivate you.

There’s a huge difference between personally setting word counts for yourself, and an app or friend setting them!

The difference is, when doing it on your own, you are personally forcing yourself to adhere to requirements – this leaves you open to the possibility of disappointing yourself, and perhaps you might even lose your passion for the craft altogether.

It’s much more fun and exciting to have friends or even a computer spur you on with challenges!

You won’t feel too bad if you don’t meet the expectations set, since the challenge was just spontaneously thrown at you, and it wasn’t some sort of rigid compulsory task that makes you want to pull your hair out.

And let’s be honest, if a friend bets you that you can’t write 1000 words in an hour about tic-tac-toe, you’re going to prove that friend wrong!

Now, motivational tools are not just about trying to drum out a certain amount of words in an hour or two. There’s plenty of apps that help you to visualise and bring projects to life as well, and there are also apps designed solely for cutting distractions. Here are some of them, listed below.

A few great motivational tools for writing are:

  • The Brainstormer – Lacking inspiration, or an idea for a story? Check out Brainstormer. It’s a nifty little tool that picks a random plot with a mixture of themes and ideas thrown in, for you to write about. The best part is, whatever Brainstormer throws at you, you can choose how you want to elaborate on it. Whether it’s a flash fiction piece, a short story, a novella, or a 100,000 word book, who cares! Because, you’ve found yourself something you can work on and use to hone your writing skills, and get that motivation a’ flowing.
  • FocusWriter – Available for Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X, FocusWriter servers to scrap clutter on your computer screen, and promote writing motivation and further its users’ productivity. It has plenty of awesome features the likes of: daily goals, timers and alarms, customisable themes, typewriter sound effects ~squeals~, and even live statistics! The list goes on. Either way, it’s clear FocusWriter is a great application that you can utilise for various projects and goals.
  • The Most Dangerous Writing App – It’s not called the most dangerous writing app for nothing ok folks! You’ve been warned. If you stop writing for three seconds, expect all of your writing to be lost, and also expect to bang your head against your keyboard. If you really want to challenge yourself and get those writing juices pumping, this application is certainly for you.

8. Let people know when you’re going to write

If you live in a large household, or even a small one with only two to three other house-mates – let them know you are planning on having a writing-sesh.

The worst thing you can do to yourself, is follow a few of the tips and tricks in this article, only to have your motivation-fueled writing squandered on a freak appearance involving your Mum or roomy, or your boyfriend or girlfriend.

No one likes being interrupted when writing because of a stupid question, or an attention-starved sibling!

So, make sure EVERYONE knows you don’t want to be disturbed.

You don’t even have to mention you are writing! You can just say you’re busy, and have things you need to do alone.

It’s as simple as that.

9. Turn on some music that motivates you to write

For some of us writers, music is a definite no-go, since we can’t help but sing along or immerse ourselves in the beat and the lyrics. But, I am certain there’s a few of us that actually enjoy it, and consider it to boost our productivity.

If you think, or know, you’re one of the people that music can help – try finding a playlist on Spotify, or an album in your iTunes, that’ll keep you in the groove of drumming out those oh-so lucrative words.

I suggest however, not putting on a long-winding rock ballad, or Freddie Mercury’s top ten hits – you will definitely want to belt out a few lines in tandem with the songs, and you’ll probably want to perform a mini drum solo.

Such things, are definitely not helpful in terms of motivating you to write!

Although, I suppose you could say they’re a great motivation to join a band, and start selling CDs out of the boot of your beat-up tobacco-scented ’78 Camaro.

10. Draft up a list of the reasons why writing is important to you

Sure I guess you could see this as a form of procrastination. But seeing as your reading an article on how to motivate yourself to write, I’m certain you’ve already started to get the impulse to do just that!

If you list out all the reasons you love writing, and why it’s important to you, you’ll be gagging to write something – definitely anything that isn’t a list,  for sure!

Try to think long and hard though, about what makes writing more than just a passion for you. Really delve deep into your conscience and your emotions, and pull up the good stuff. Like, those golden nuggets of your identity that makes you you, and that classify you as a dedicated writer.

11. Reward yourself

I have to make it clear that this tip comes directly from the one and only James Chartrand from Men with Pens, via her guest post at WritetoDone.com. She’s a fantastic writer – and definitely propels a writer such as myself to jealousy! If you have the time, check out her writing course Damn Fine Words; the testimonials from her students are the best I’ve ever read!

Anyways, thanks to James, my writing is now in a sense ‘incentivised’. And yes, I just made up a word – it’s a good one, alright!

She explained rather concisely, that people commonly stick to bad habits more so than good ones, because of the reward the bad habits entail.

For instance, do you want to wake up at 6am every morning and knock chores out of the way before 9? Chances are, you probably don’t. and if you attempted it…  after a few days you would most likely conk out and throw in the towel, and let your laundry basket pile over just like last week.

But, what if you swapped that example for a drink at the pub after a stressful day at work?

I’m sure you’d find that you would stick to that ritual like glue.

Reason being, the reward is quicker – and you are stimulating your body with something pleasurable and familiar.

You are not going to want to do the things that in the long-run help you out, because in the short-term they offer no accessible or tangible reward.

This is where James’ brilliant suggestion to combat this dilemma, comes in handy!

If you are finding it hard to stay motivated and keep writing. Why don’t you throw in a little reward every time you finish a project or hit a certain word count?

Now, this reward can’t just be something you can have any day of the week. Make it something you really like or enjoy, and that is a ‘treat’ of sorts.

Your reward can be anything from a much-loved glass of Cabernet (My personal favourite), a binge-watch of a TV show you enjoy, or perhaps if you’ve got a sweet tooth – an ice cream cone.

As long as it’s something you really want, and it works? You’re good to go.

12. Read books about writing

I’ve found that there’s nothing more in the world that motivates me to write, than books. And that is amplified a trillion times when I’m reading a book specifically about the craft!

What I’ve noticed, and this tends to cover all writers, is that when we read we are immediately inspired and filled up with motivation.

We can’t wait to finish a few more pages of the book we’re reading, so that we can quickly snatch up our writing journal or jump on the computer, and fill up some of our own pages with writing.

Not only is reading a book on the craft going to motivate you to write more and do better,  it’s also going to strengthen your knowledge on story structure and all other necessary facets that make up quality writing.

13. Just read books in general!

I know, it’s basically the same tip as the one you literally just read. But I needed to make sure everyone knows all books no matter the topic, are an awesome motivation booster!

And not only that… They’re a great stress reducer!

As the 2009 study at the University of Sussex shows – stress was reduced by a WHOPPING 68% simply by reading regularly.

Not only that, book reading also stimulates your imagination and drives you to fill in the gaps in imagery and description – this is key to improving good writing.

As your mind gets to work painting the picture the author has weaved in the book you’re reading, the more it adapts to connecting words and sentences with producing imaginative effects. This will in a positive consequence, seep into your writing and produce a higher quality of work.

If you read, you’ll become a literary genius in no time!

And let’s not forget, as your mind is ticking away, digesting all of those delicious paragraphs and entrancing prose, you are going to want to get to doing some of your own writing at one point or another.

14. Make up imaginary deadlines

This motivational writing tip, was inspired by Ali Luke’s take on how writers can stay motivated, at her blog Aliventures. I suggest checking out some of her articles – they’re all well-written, and perfect for writers wanting to improve and move up the writing ranks.

There’s always something exciting about writing under a deadline, don’t you think?

I like the professionalism of it all. I like to feel like I need to accomplish something important, and fast! No procrastination allowed.

This, is probably because I am extremely lazy, so any form of ‘butt-kicking’ spurs me into action with a child-like joy that is dreadfully embarrassing.

Perhaps however, writing while under deadlines can help you as well, and produce the same results?

Try setting imaginary deadlines for yourself – you can even make up fake scenarios like, “My client needs this article before sundown, or else I’m going to be kicked off the writing team!”, “There’s a huge volcanic eruption happening in Finland, I need to be the first one to report on it, and write an article about it!”, “My kids, are going to be back from school any minute… I have to finish this political essay ASAP”.

Remember, this game is all in good fun – don’t get super carried away, and forget that you don’t actually have kids in need of picking up from school, and that there’s not a volcanic eruption threatening Finnish lives!

15. Go to writing workshops, online or otherwise

It’s always a great idea to invest a little time and effort into your writing.

Take a moment during the weekend, to check out a few writing workshops! Nothing motivates a writer more than criticism or praise.

Unless, of course, you absolutely hate criticism… Then, I hate to break the bad news to you but, being a writer is made up of 98% rejection and a sliver of success. You have to really love the craft if you want to endure to the end in this industry!

If you do decide to check out a writing workshop, local or via the interwebs’, keep in mind that you need to provide and contribute to the group – expect to read a lot of stories, and dish out a tonne of solid advice.

Not only is workshopping great for the obvious – improving your writing.

It is also a brilliant way to make connections and network with other like-minded people in the writing biz!

So that you don’t have to go through an innumerable amount of websites searching for online workshops, here are some easy to click links:

  • Online Writing Workshop – This site focuses primarily on Science fiction, fantasy, and horror. They have a 1 month free period, so give ’em a try!
  • Critique Circle – With an impressive 3000+ members, 123,414 processed stories, and 596,074 critiques, Critique Circle is an awesome site to check out and get your stories workshopped.
  • Scribophile – Scribophile is a respectful online writing workshop and writers community, as tauted on their homepage, that embraces all writers no matter their skill level. This is a great site to have a look at and perhaps join – you’ll make some great connections, and receive detailed feedback on your work.

16. Create a writing oasis

Do you have a room, or a little nook in your house, just for writing?

If not, make one!

When you have a special place to write, over time your brain will register that when you are hanging out there, it’s time to buck down and get productive.

What your writing place should consist of is, a clean well-lit space, where everything is tidy and seamless.

Including plants and art in your writing area is also a great stimulant for writing, and will improve the ambiance and feel of your space.

Without a chilled out area that’s all your own, where you can just kick back and plow through a good novel or write an awesome crime thriller – you’re going to struggle big time to stay motivated.

17. Write about what gets you passionate!

If you’re writing about boring stuff like “What’s the best way to do data entry”, or “How to file effectively at a speedy rate”, there’s a large chance that your brain will end up turning into sludge and dripping out of your ears.

I know it’s really hard as a freelance or professional writer, to constantly find work that enables you to write about the stuff you care about. But, if you are starting to find it hard to get up for work in the morning, and producing content you’re proud of is far and few between, maybe it’s time you sought clients that want material on issues you love?

Don’t waste away precious hours repetitively dishing out articles, or even stories, about things you have zero passion for. It’ll be near impossible to write great copy, and extremely unlikely for you to be able to concoct fanciful tales that’ll draw in readers.

If you continue to write mindless crap that you can’t muster the strength to enjoy. You will, over and over, find yourself stuck in a ‘bored shitless’ state where motivation has left you quicker than a postman can leg it from an over-excited rottweiler.

You write because you love it. Don’t drift so far away from that love, so as to jeopardise it!

Ok, so that’s it. I think I’ve touched on just about everything!

I hope, after reading this guide you’ve officially reclaimed your motivation to write, and you have some awesome tricks in the bank to keep it that way.

Remember, as long as you develop your love and adoration for words, you will consistently be capable of writing long passages and winding narratives.

Nurture your love for the craft, and ultimately, the craft will return the favour!

Struggling with Concept Development? Try these Tips

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Are you struggling to develop your ideas and story concepts into sound characters, and brilliant plot-line?

Do you ever come up with this fantastical, x-factor story idea, and then boom. You can’t think of a way, or rather the right way, to bring it to life?

And, you have no clue who your characters really are and what they should bring to the story?

Don’t worry – it happens to us all.

It’s an absolute nightmare!

But, it’s going to be ok.

When a roadblock steps in front of us writers, what do we do? Bulldoze it out of the way with a ten-tonne truck! (Disclaimer, please don’t hit literal roadblocks with trucks… That could be bad, like, really bad).

Struggling with concept development has been the bane of my existence since I first put pen to paper. Often than not, I’ll write out a few pages of a story I really love, only to let it gather dust all because I don’t know where to take it or what to really do with it. It’s so gosh darn frustrating!

But luckily and much to my astonishment, I’ve found a few nifty ways to overcome this writing dilemma, and I figure if they helped me, they’ll certainly help you!

Find out what works for you – and stick to it!

Writers in some ways share a lot of similarities. For the most part, we’re always unhappy with our work, and rejection makes us want to scrape our nails across a chalkboard.

But still, even in spite of such similarities, we differ drastically in how we like to do things and overcome hurdles.

The first step to turning a great story concept into an even greater story, is to figure out what works for you. Learn to understand yourself; how do you think about things, how do you learn, what makes you tick?

When you have a firm grasp of who you are and what you’re capable of, it’ll be easier for you to set in place steps that’ll help you achieve the goals you want to achieve.

So this means, it’s always good to remember that you’re you – different and unique.

Don’t fret when what works for one writer doesn’t work for you. Just carry on with a smile on your face, and keep attempting new techniques and ideas – eventually something will stick.

Ask yourself questions

An awesome way to help you develop story concepts, and a trick I believe will work for just about everyone I hope, is to ask yourself questions.

Sit down and write out a list like:

  • What does my character want?
  • What is the premise of this story?
  • What is the setting of the story, and how does the setting affect people?
  • What is the history of the people I am writing about, and the world they live in?

And an especially great question to ask, if you’ve already roughed out the plot is – how does my main character feel about the plot?

For instance, if the plot of your story is this epic, winding narrative, where a hero must conquer a fierce dragon who has ruled the land for a millennium. Figure out how your character feels about the journey they must undertake and the dragon they must vanquish.

Are they sad, angry, frustrated? Whatever they feel, is a big indicator of their personality, and it’s a brilliant start to building a believable character and a solid story.

Another thing you can do to supercharge this trick, is to get a friend to ask you questions – be broad, and don’t give them too many details about your story idea – give them just enough. Then, let them fire away questions which you’ll inevitably have to answer.

Turn your concepts on their head

A lot of us, when coming up with a great idea for a novel or short story, tend to start with the plot first – ignoring characters for the most part, and letting setting rot away pleasantly in the backgrounds of our minds.

This is utterly wrong, and a hindrance to good writing.

What makes a story, will always be its characters. Whether you write literary fiction, or sweeping adventures, your story still wouldn’t be much of a story without a character here or there.

A productive way to visualise and develop concepts, is to try and start with the characters first – specifically, the main character.

Figure out who that character is. Look into their personal back-story. What was their childhood like, what motivates them, what makes them want to stab needles into their eyes etc etc etc.

If you know your character, it’s easier to create a plot that flows effortlessly.

Why?

Because the characters you’ve created are so in tune to the world they live in, or should be, that plot will almost seem like its coming directly from their actions. Not some omniscient overarching author, forcing unnecessary plot-points and tedious reactions that are stale and bereft of foreshadowing.

Think about it. Life tends to work like this – we do something stupid or grandiose, and the world ends up throwing it back at us. There is always a reaction to our actions!

If we know our characters, and the plot stems around their personality, their thoughts, and their behaviours, it makes sense that it’ll be an easier story to write. And, a more believable one at that.

Throw your characters in a room, and keep ’em there!

Trying out writing exercises prior to undertaking a giant writing project, is always a useful technique to keep in your arsenal.

If you want to successfully hit concept development right on the head each and every time, routine is a must. And a great routine to implement is – shove your characters in a room, once you know who they are and what they want, and get them talking and doing things.

Don’t plan this thing out, and don’t over-think it! That’s not what we want here.

What we want is for your characters to start acting like real living human-beings. And, the only way to do that, is to get them talking and doing what they do best – be who they are.

As you write, and this can be for however long you want – you never know, you might get  a scene out of this, your characters will begin either slowly or with speed to become real. They will in a way, seem like tangible people you can reach out and touch.

This is what you want.

You want whatever you write, be it wondrous or contemporary, to have some form of legitimacy underlying it.

You see, readers cannot imagine or relate to (For the most part), what they don’t understand or what is extremely unusual. For instance, a reader is more inclined to relate to a homeless man who is divorced from an abusive wife, than a green-tentacled jelly-like ooze that wobbles around on the surface of mars.

Now, I’m not saying don’t write aliens or monsters as your main characters, what I am saying is you need to personify them. You need to add a touch and a dash of humanity, or else you risk the chance of people being unable to connect to the story you are trying to write.

Utilising this writing exercise, helps you to achieve that human-quality necessary for good stories faster than it would if you just wrote your story from the get go.

Rough out the big stuff

Once you know your characters, and have an idea for a story that centres around or focuses on them, you might still get stuck. But there’s a way to fix this.

If you’re a pantser – a person who doesn’t plan AT ALL, this tip probably isn’t for you. But if you’re not, keep on reading!

What you need to do, is sketch out the big plot-points in your narrative. You know, the stuff that makes your readers swoon, faint, vomit, whatever’s your fancy.

Afterwards, you’ll have a rough outline of where you want to go and what you want to do. Now, you need to get into the small details.

How are your characters going to get from point A, to point B?

Take logical steps, and curate and define scenes that will ultimately lead your character bit by bit, to that all-encroaching climax and epiphany at the end of your story.

Make sure each scene makes sense, and it matches your characters down to a T. Again, one of the biggest hurdles for writers, is writing a story with characters that don’t act believably.

The key here, is to make sure every situation and circumstance transitions with ease from one piece of plot to the next. You want the journey to have made sense – to a degree. And you want the readers to feel like everything is smooth and consistent.

Often than not, planning out your story is harder than writing it!

So, perhaps, this method will work for you not because you have a map of your novel, but rather because you’ll be so frustrated from analysing every angle of your character’s head, and what will come next in their lives, you’ll be begging to just get down and dirty and develop your concept into the awesome story it’s supposed to be.

Theme – you need it

Sometimes, as writers, we can get distracted with one aspect of our concept/story and end up forgetting another. Most commonly, this will be theme. Yet, theme is a necessity for every single novel on the earth!

Theme, is in simple terms, the personality of your story – it’s the way it feels, the message it wants to give, and the topic being discussed. It’s basically the glue that sticks every little piece of the puzzle together. Without it? Any ideas of concept development can be torn up, and thrown down the drain.

To establish theme, you need to think long and hard about what message you are trying to give to readers.

For example, say your story is a gritty thriller with a dark underbelly and a focus on violence and corruption, it makes sense that your theme would perhaps be ‘murder’ or ‘hate’, maybe even greed! But, what makes even more sense is for the theme to be violence or corruption, since it’s what your story is about!

Whatever your story is discussing, that’s your theme, and you need to make it blossom.

Use specific language that matches your theme – challenge yourself. Try to make every page in your story stick steadfast to your story’s personality so that it has consistency, and it matches every plot-point and whatever else you want to throw inside it.

 

Ok, so, I think that’s about it! What I’ve learned in this good ole’ journey when it comes to writing, conceptualising stories, and brewing them into 100,000 word novels. Is that understanding your characters, your plot, your theme, and yourself is a must.

You need to know where you’re going, and how you’re going to go about it. If you don’t well – you won’t be able to lay down a single sentence you’ll be happy with.

Remember, find out who your character is and what they want. Get to know them, and get to know the world they live in. Quality plot will eventually follow. And soon? Words will fly effortlessly from your typing fingertips.

Stay focused, stay committed, and do your research. As long as you want to write a good story, nothing can stop you doing that but yourself.

If These Acclaimed Authors Started From Nothing, You Can Too!

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The idea of writing a book from nothing, which most of us fledgling writers are attempting to do, is an unimaginable task – one that weighs heavy on our minds and souls.

I don’t know about you, but just the thought of labouring night and day over a novel I care deeply about, to have it rejected by every publisher I send it off to, scares the living crap out of me!

I suppose that’s the problem with book writing. If you don’t have a contract or an established agreement with publishers, your hard-work could quickly become a pointless and tiring escapade not even worth a single ounce of effort – or, the sweat on your brow.

Luckily, there are some very inspiring success stories out there concerning writers both world-famous and award-winning, who managed to publish their works from practically nothing.

These stories boosted my confidence, so I hope they serve you and do the same!

Sandra Cisneros

Born in 1954, and raised in a rambunctious family consisting of six brothers and a doting mother and Father. Sandra struggled in her childhood to find solid footing – both in the literary world and in her home-life. This was due to financial instability – she often had to relocate with her family from neighbourhood to neighbourhood, and rarely got to stay in one place for a long period of time.

In spite of the poverty and near-constant relocations, Sandra managed to hone her writing skills and publish her first novel “The House on Mango Street”. She has now written countless works, and has gone on to win several awards. These are inclusive of but not limited to: the Before Columbus Foundation’s American Book Award, the McArthur Fellowship Grant of $225,000, and the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award.

According to Sandra, her unusual childhood helped to mould her into the capable writer she is known as today – “Because we moved so much, and were always in neighborhoods that appeared like France after World War II—empty lots and burned-out-buildings—I retreated inside myself.”

Charles Dickens

Hailing from an impoverished background where his Father was imprisoned for failing to pay debt creditors, Charles indeed started from nothing.

Slowly working his way up the ladder, Dickens worked in a boot-blacking workhouse, then taught as a school teacher, and after that landed the role as a junior clerk in a law office. Through this steady rise in job credibility, Charles honed and mastered his craft.

Later writing as a parliamentary journalist via sketches, Dickens travelled all over Great Britain – meeting an uncountable range of individuals with intriguing peculiarities. This, one can undoubtedly assume, is where Charles refined his descriptions, imagery, and unique literary style.

In 1838, Charles finished one of the greatest works of our time – the undeniably brilliant and world-famous novel, Oliver Twist. And, after gallivanting across the United States and journeying through Canada, he proceeded to write ‘A Christmas Carol’, one of the most re-purposed and recreated Christmas stories in human history.

Toni Morrison

A professor at Howard University and now Princeton University, Toni had no real intentions of sitting down to write a best-selling novel. But, she ended up doing just that.

Looking for something fun and entertaining to do between her prestigious career and home-life, Toni decided to join a writing club. Inevitably, she had to write something in order to maintain her club membership – this resulted in the beginning notes and musings of ‘The Bluest Eye‘. A story, that stemmed from Toni’s experience with a young African-American girl in her primary school years, who desired terribly to have sparkling blue eyes.

For a while the plans and rough drafts of The Bluest eyes picked up dust – that was before Toni moved to Syracuse after the divorce of her ex-husband. After her move, she decided to pick up the remnants of her story, and allow it to grow into the fantastic and wonderful novel it is today.

David Foster Wallace

While in college and spending time with his at-the-time girlfriend, David noted something unusual that she had said. She had revealed to David that she would rather be a fictional character in a book, than a living-breathing person in the real world.

This pondering caught David off guard, and he couldn’t help but deliberate over it – Thinking on what she could have possibly meant by such an odd comment.After a while, he started to mull over what differentiates a real person from one that is fictitious. This deliberation eventually led to his thoughts concerning how language contributes to our interpretations of what is fictional and what is literal.

Soon – he had an idea for a book on his hands. One, that centred around a woman who has no belief whatsoever in her own reality. He handed in the story as his senior year thesis at Amherst College, and after a couple years, his story, The Broom of the System, was published.

J.K. Rowling

We all know her, and a lot of us understand she toiled for quite some time through financial instability and heartache, before finally unleashing one of the most coveted and sought-after books in the modern age. But, what did she really go through before success hit her like a steam train?

Diagnosed with clinical depression, skirting homelessness by a hair’s width and living off the welfare system’s meagre paychecks, all while trying to fill three young stomachs, J.K. grabbed every moment she could to write.

Making trips to local cafes to escape her decrepit apartment, she worked profusely on the Harry Potter books we all know and love. She had no idea, or so she says (The novels are terrific, how could she not know!?), that the first book she was writing, would end up leading to a multi-million dollar franchise both on-screen and on paper.

After publishing her book for £10,000 in the United Kingdom, a US publishing house bought the rights to the story for $100,000. After that? The story of ‘the boy who lived’, skyrocketed, and fame and fortune cleaved onto Rowling like a bear claws at a bee’s nest – hungry for the sweet nectar inside.

Now, the once struggling and despondent author, has spawned an unstoppable and unforgettable franchise that has stolen the hearts of millions. She’s also not doing too bad where money is concerned – she is the richest author of all time, harbouring in her coffers close to $900,000,000.

 

In the end, when we think about it, every author started from nothing at some point in their lives. They worked their way up, little by little, and honed their craft with every waking breath.

Through blood, sweat, and tears, they eventually broke into the writing industry – and the book, or books they had written, finally were devoured by the hungry eyes of readers.

Never give up on your dreams or aspirations. Because if you set your mind on them and focus on ’em? In time, you will live those dreams and reach those aspirations. The only way you won’t? If you give up. So, don’t give up!

 

 

Can You Write Any Genre Straight Off the Bat?

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I’m sure many fiction writers have asked themselves this question.

“Can I really write a book in a genre that I’ve never tried writing before?”

This question, was probably posed after watching a nail-biting horror flick, and becoming inspired immensely by the gore on-screen, and the abject terror instilled within your bosom.

Or it was brewed up by something far more dainty and along the lines of reading a Mills and Boon novel, where a guy with a name like Dean Hunksword once again rescues the secretary ‘damsel-in-distress’, by kissing her at an appropriately dramatic interval.

Either way.

Sooner or later something jaw-dropping inspires us writers, and we come to a point in our lives where we wonder if we can branch out of our comfort zones, and challenge ourselves to write something spectacular.

The problem with writers is, when we get a great idea that involves taking a risk or a huge leap of faith – we bail. We become frightened by the possibility of failure, and the worst of them all, rejection.

Our paranoia gets in the way, and holds us back from doing what we do best – write, and write well.

For me, I feel it is perfectly reasonable and understandable, to assume with a little bit of effort and research, that yes anyone can branch out into a new genre. There’s no need to hold yourself back in fear that you will do a disservice to readers! You have to bite the bullet, and believe in yourself.

If you read a few books from authors who veer from one end of the spectrum to the other in the genre that is tempting you, you will be certain to build yourself a great foundation to start from. And those literary prose that readers of, for instance romance, are accustomed to, will begin to swirl into your brain.

You will form a backlog of information that directs you and defines your work as specifically a part of that writing genre. Of course, it is always important to include a personal touch here or there in your writing!

If you are in need of motivation and desire to be inspired. There are countless authors who took the treacherous leap from one successful theme, over to another.

These authors include:

  • Ian Fleming. He wrote the famous series of novels which culminated in the international man of mystery, James Bond. Ian took what one might say is a complete and utter u-turn, by writing a children’s picture book after his dreams of ‘spydom’ were quenched.
  • Roald Dahl; we all know him, and we all cherish the tales he has weaved such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and the likes of James and the Giant Peach. But, Roald wasn’t exclusive to children’s tales, no! He wrote stories both criminal and lascivious. He delved into an underbelly of adult fiction, and brewed up macabre tales adults dare only peruse and children mustn’t ever glimpse!
  • A. A. Milne, the author that cemented most of our childhoods with colourful vibrancy – the creator of Winnie-the-Pooh, Tigger, Piglet, and so forth. You certainly wouldn’t expect such a wondrous and whimsical author to delve into crime, and write a brilliant ‘Who done it’ novel, now would you? But, he did.
  • Iain Banks, he is the author of two well-received and VERY different novels; The Wasp Factory (Literary Fiction), and Consider Phlebus (Science fiction). Both books are so starkly different in theme and genre, that people become terribly confused whether Iain has actually written them both! But, you can’t blame these people when there is such a huge genre gap.

The list goes on and on.

Other writers who have taken the leap include  the likes of Anne Rice and Stephen King.

If all these authors can do it, and separate themselves from the books that have made them famous, you can too!

Sometimes the best medicine for writer paranoia, is to tell that little voice in the back of your head to shut up. And, to just bloody get on with it. We can’t always feed every nagging thought of dismissal, stress, and insecurity, can we?

We must make a stand, and we must write what we darn well please! If you want to write a crime thriller, go ahead. If you want to drum out a sappy love-story, start typing!

It’s all up to you.

 

How to: Overcome Stress, and Write More!

Stress. Everyone hates it, and no one needs it!

We all face it. Some of us more than others; unfortunate souls even tangle with it on a daily basis.

Stress.

An inhibitor to creativity, growth, and imagination. It’s the villain in all of our stories, and the tyrannical dictator keeping us, the underdogs, down.

You can struggle against it for weeks on end, but if you don’t have a good plan or a tactical approach? You’re doomed!

You can go and kiss your worry-free days goodbye, and start submitting to the evil truth – you’re just like every other poor sod working 9 to 5, who hates his job and misses his family.

So.

How can we overcome one of the top issues in our world, that seems to plague everybody under the sun?

How do we separate ourselves form the pack, and stomp our stress into the ground, turning it into a pile of dust?

What, can we do about it? Is there even anything we can do about it?

Don’t worry, or rather, stress. Because there’s plenty of things we can do about it!

Often we get so bummed out by all the tasks we have to complete in our day-to-day lives, that we see no hope in attempting to curb our stress. But, such thoughts only serve to stress us out even more!

The first key to kicking stress in the bum so we can write is? Motivation, and positivity!

Create a morning ritual for yourself.

A great way to start diffusing stress, is to create a calming morning ritual that helps you to wake up and boosts your energy.

My personal morning ritual consists of brewing a large mug of matcha – Japanese powdered green tea (It’s full of antioxidants and even helps with weight-loss, give it a try!).

Then, I usually clean up any messes I’ve left festering over from last-night, before I finally sit down to… No, not write… Nip in the bud a few of those pesky tasks causing me so much stress!

Squash those stressful tasks before they hinder your writing!

If you dive head first, and early, into whatever tedious, or anxiety-stirring task that’s got you fretting. You will ultimately kick any stress that was trying to surface in your gut out onto the street – exactly where it deserves to be!

What I’ve noticed with this method of getting boring chores out of the way first is, a) I have more energy to do things later on in the day, b) I have a confidence boost from being so productive in the morning, and c) I feel like I have more time to write, and I can write a lot more too!

What about breakfast, you say?

I know, I know. Everyone loves to make time for a hearty breakfast. But, believe it or not, it’s holding you back!

Studies, individual experiences, and historical evidence, have shown that people who eat one hearty meal a day, live longer, and have way more energy throughout the entirety of their lives.

Sure, you can squeeze in some breakfast while making up a morning ritual – but trust me, skipping the generic ‘breakfast, lunch and dinner’ regime will supercharge your health and help you massively to de-stress.

If you do choose to have breakfast, try eating zero, unprocessed, or low-carb foods; carbs weigh you down, hinder weight loss, and even in some cases, processed carbohydrates inhibit brain function.

Tackle each day with a positive can-do attitude!

If you’re always starting your mornings with a ‘down in the dumps’ mindset. How can you expect to overcome stress, and write solid material? It’s practically impossible!

Unless, of course, your writing is macabre and relies solely on depressive themes… In that case, maybe positivity isn’t for you (Either way, you can still follow other bits of advice in this post!).

Jump out of bed each morning with an upbeat attitude, and start setting goals for yourself!

Goals like: Get the vacuuming done before 10:00am, prepare dinner in advance, finish those chores that you’ve put off all week, or, even more ground-breaking, message that cute guy or girl you’ve been fawning over for months!

When you come at situations with a positive out-look, stress struggles to find a foot-hold in your life. No longer can you be controlled by circumstances that drive you crazy, or dead-lines that make you want to pull your hair out.

You are a confident task-crushing machine!

You, are the boss of your own life (That’s if you are an atheist of course – we Christians tend to put all the messy and hard stuff in God’s very capable hands!), and you tell your body what to feel and your mind what to think!

Where does the writing come in?

It comes in, as soon as you’ve ticked a few tedious chores off of your to-do list. Because, once you’ve already started kicking goals and taking names, you’ll be more motivated to write.

For instance, I’ve been following these ‘steps’ for a good few days now, and I have been drumming out article after article, it’s honestly non-stop!

My keyboard hasn’t had a break from incessant typing in weeks.

Today, after I cleaned up the house (Vacuuming, wiping down benches, laundry, washing dishes, tidying up – the usual) I managed to write three articles, create an email campaign template, finish an EXTREMELY dull college assignment for my writing course, pitch an idea to the Penny Hoarder, email in a job application, and I still have tons of energy to blow!

Mind you, there were countless moments in-between all of this bustling activity, where I had conversations with my sister, rubbed my gorgeous dog’s belly, and had a good sing-along to some music.

It just goes to show that we all have more time than we think, and that often the things that stress us out, really aren’t so stressful after all.

Stress, is all in the mind. Once you realise that, it will never bother you again! A healthy life, and adding structure to your day, is all it really takes to write up a storm and say goodbye to stress forever.

The Secret to Writing like a Literary Genius

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The internet these days seems to be littered with advice; some good, some bad.

One thing this world loves to harp on about, is WRITING. We can never get enough of it, and we can’t seem to grasp it as well as we’d like to.

It’s an utter mess.

Some of us scour the web (Me, for instance) searching for an article that will shed some light on the subject.

But, no matter how hard we try, the articles often turn up as duds and rarely offer the help we truly desire, and, deserve.

But wait.

There’s actually a tried and true method for improved writing! Yes, I mean it!

And no, this post is not going to be like every other article out there; listing instructions that you MUST follow in order to improve.

My method for literary growth is quite simple, in some ways ancient, and it has worked for nearly every author in the world.

It’s called… Reading.

Wait, wait! Don’t grab your pitchforks and your torches just yet – I’ll explain why the simple act of reading, is one of the most important tools in a writer’s arsenal.

When we read, all sorts of areas in our brain are activated, and in more ways than one we place ourselves in the shoes of the characters in the story. We connect with the emotions, the scenery, the symbolism, and the dialogue – in a way, we enter into the world the author has ingeniously weaved.

As we absorb new worlds, new information, and process the stories of other authors: we learn.

Without having to use much effort or energy, we begin to pick up the sentence structure, words, and descriptions of the books we read – it all gets sucked up into our hungry mind, and placed on the back-burner for when we ourselves need to write.

So, with each book we digest, with each magazine and online copy we devour, our writing abilities automatically improve.

With this knowledge, a writer can utilise books to their advantage in a way they’ve never thought of before!

Begin reading the classics!

Absorb the gorgeous prose of Charles Dickens, and the imaginative expanse of H.G. Wells. Delve into Emily Bronte. Take leaps and bounds and dive into the poetic throes of Edgar Allan Poe! Take on the big leagues.

As we read the old, we create a foundation for the new; our vocabularies stretch across the horizon, and our descriptions concoct imagery that leaves readers floored.

The more words and narratives we fill our hungry literary stomachs with, the more we become weaponised writers ready to pull a fantastical and bewildering trigger. A trigger that unleashes a flurry of great writing and entrancing prose.

What most bloggers and writers forget, as they drum out a hundred articles a week, telling other writers how to write. Is that, the one thing that got them passionate about writing was, well… Writing!

Novels both fictional and nonfictional, are the reason for why most of us are in this industry or attempting to get into it. We’re not here for the most part, because of a haphazard whim or drunken bet!

No.

We are struggling with each grueling day and rasping breath in this world of words, because we love to read, and in consequence, love to write. It’s not the other way round!

To truly become the writers and literary geniuses we all want to be, it’s absolutely paramount that we return to our roots.

We need to read.

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” – Mr. Stephen King

“If one reads enough books one has a fighting chance. Or better, one’s chances of survival increase with each book one reads.” — Sherman Alexie

“Reading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly, into another’s skin, another’s voice, another’s soul.” — Joyce Carol Oates