Writing Tips

Give yourself permission to fail

If there’s one lesson in writing that I had to learn the hard way, it’s this one. When looking for ways to motivate oneself to complete a writing project, it’s common to set goals or deadlines. Daily word count goals, for example, can be a healthy way to establish a writing routine and a reasonable deadline to finish your novel by a certain date can help you stay on track. The tricky part comes when your deadlines are not reasonable, your goals too lofty, or when you simply fall behind and suddenly your target seems out of reach.

An important thing to remember when setting goals or deadlines is that life happens. It’s a good idea to leave yourself some wiggle room in your deadlines for when life events get in the way, or for those days you just don’t feel like living up to expectations. You’re going to stumble occasionally, and you’ll be better off planning to accommodate when it happens.

The problem with goals and deadlines comes when you adhere to them too strictly,  or when you are disappointed with yourself for not meeting them. Using them as a means to lift yourself up, to feel challenged and motivated and to count the milestones you pass is great and will have a positive effect, but the opposite can just as easily be true if you feel stressed, ashamed, or guilty for not meeting the goals you set yourself.

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Back when I was working on my trilogy, Crimson Winter, I had written the first book in three months by having a goal of writing 5 pages a day, 5 days a week, totalling 100 pages a month. This continued into book two, which I wrote in a little over four months as it was a longer book. Between book two and three, I went through a rough time in my life and book three took me somewhere between six months and a year. It was by far the longest and most complex of the three, but I was determined to keep myself to my writing goals, which proved to be a detriment. The pace I had set for book one and two was quite grueling, but since I had successfully completed the first two books so easily, I found myself questioning why I couldn’t do it with the third and feeling inadequate for not living up to my own expectations. As a result, I was very hard on myself, which only made me feel worse, which in turn made writing even more difficult. It was a negative feedback loop.

It took a moment of realization at 3 in the morning when I was trying to write on a midnight shift at the crummy part-time job I had taken to pay the bills for me to come to the conclusion that I had become my own worst enemy. By setting lofty unreachable goals and on top of that punishing myself for not living up to those goals, I was being unreasonably harsh on myself. From that moment on, I started giving myself permission to fail. I gave myself some leeway, some ‘get out of jail free cards’ for those times when I just didn’t feel like writing and I tried to remember that I liked writing, that it is a passion first and foremost, and not just a job. And I’ve had a much healthier relationship with myself and my writing ever since.

Thanks for reading. And speaking of reasonable goals, the #85K Challenge starts in just 10 days. The challenge is to write 85,000 words in three months, which works out just under 1000 words a day. Last year, Murandy and I finished the challenge with two weeks to spare, but this year, we’re going to be taking it slower as Murandy is a new mom (see, life happens.) We started the book we’re working on last month, and have been writing approximately 4000 words once a week and we’re going to continue that pace into the challenge to see how far that gets us. We’ll keep you posted on our progress, but if you’re interested in joining the challenge you can find all the information you need here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/85K.90days/15134760_641119006068066_5321651935076382972_n

5 Challenges of Co-Writing

As you’re no doubt aware, Murandy Damodred and I co-write our novels. From speaking to other authors, I’ve learned that our way of doing things is unique. Instead of dividing the work by chapter or scene, we divide it by character. So when we write, we write back and forth like a conversation, each responding to the other.

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I’ve written a post before outlining the benefits of working this way, which you can find here. Now, let’s talk about the challenges associated with writing with another person.

  1. Voice

Probably the toughest thing to get straight when first starting out writing with another person is creating a consistent narrative voice. The first book Murandy and I co-wrote was Neo Central and back then, it wasn’t just the two of us, we had a third person writing with us. It took a lot of drafts and a lot of editing to smooth three distinct writing styles into one narrative voice. Now, when Murandy and I write together, we have a style we share, so this is less of an issue but here are some tips for making this process easier on you and your partner.

First, decide which of the two of you is the narrator. With Murandy and I, that’s me. I write the descriptions, the setting, and the actions and dialogue of the minor characters, so Murandy when writing her characters’ thoughts and actions does her best to conform to the style I’ve laid out. Then I read over what she’s written and tweak it to sound as if I had written it myself.

Secondly, it’s much easier to write this way in third person perspective as opposed to first person, but whichever perspective and distance you choose, make sure that you’re both consistent about it and that you both understand how to write in that style.

2. Dividing the workstock-vector-hand-drawn-cartoon-characters-on-checked-paper-broken-divided-group-65099188

As with anything that is based in a partnership, you’re going to want to make sure that there is a fair division of labour. You don’t want someone basically writing the whole thing, with the other person only interjecting their thoughts every once and awhile and you also don’t want to stick just one person with all the editing. The way Murandy and I handle this is by trying to make sure we each have a character in every scene. It doesn’t always work out that way, but in those scenes where it’s not fairly balanced, I try and write something she will enjoy reading when I’m finished, and vice versa for her. Basically, we try to keep each other entertained.

keep-calm-and-edit-later3. Editing comes later

This is very important. When you’re writing by yourself, you have the ability to choose when to stop, or to decide how quickly you work on one part over another. On a whim, you can go back and work on a part at the beginning, or stop and edit something you just worked on. With a partner, it’s important to keep a steady pace and keep the work going forward. Edit later. What’s more important during the writing of the project is to maximize your efficiency of working together. That way each person stays engaged in what you’re doing and no one gets bored or frustrated.

4. Schedule

With only one person writing, you can write whenever you want, or whenever you find the time to pick up your writing utensil of choice. Which two or more people, scheduling writing time becomes a concern. It’s important to block out time to put to writing and make efficient use of that time. It’s also helpful to be consistent. Murandy and I are currently writing once a week to accommodate the fact that she has a newborn, but even before that, we had a schedule and the time we set aside was used specifically for writing. .

5. Conflicting ideascompromise-clipart-half-way-reaching-compromise-each-other-36176293

It’s also super important to be able to work well and be able to compromise with your writing partner. You’re going to have conflicting ideas. That’s just going to happen. It’s how you use these conflicting ideas to improve your work and to improve your partnership that will really define your strength as a team. When Murandy and I disagree, we use that to fuel tension and conflict in our story and ultimately we let our characters and fate decide the outcome of the plot.

Thanks for reading and I hope you’ll consider writing with a partner. It really can be a rewarding experience. And if that’s not for you, maybe you’ll still consider reading one of our books, just to see how they turned out. You can find our books in our store, or get them from your favourite book retailer.mwks3-copy

Mirror’s Hope and the sequel, Mirror’s Heart

Neo Central

Unintended

And coming soon… Uncharted!

Read the first chapter of each of these in our free sampler!

Mirror World News: Publishing 101

2.ArtWORK.Oct16-350x226Adam Giles and I cover the basics of Publishing and your options as a writer with a finished manuscript in this episode of Mirror World News. Usually I provide a more in depth breakdown here on the blog to accompany the video, but this time I’ll be doing it in person on October 12th at the ArtSpeak Gallery in Windsor! There’s still time to register for this workshop on publishing and query-letter writing, through the Arts Council Windsor Region’s website acwr.net.

For now though, here’s the episode. Enjoy!

Recipe for a good book

cookbook-02You will need:

1 fully realized setting (if making from scratch, see world building recipe on pg 42)

A unique narrative voice

1-2 well-developed main characters, add side characters as necessary6croyblzi

Conflict

An engaging opening

A satisfying conclusion

A dash of theme

Romance, optional

 

Prepare your work surface and clear your mind. Mix together the setting, voice, and at least one character to create your engaging opening.  Add atmosphere as needed. Introduce your conflict and any remaining characters. Stir until well developed. Throw in a dash of theme and romance, if you’re using it and write for 3-6 months until everything comes together. Finish off with a satisfying conclusion and let the whole thing sit for as long as you can stand before editing.

Once edited, bake with a publisher until done, and repeat.

Galabannerorange copy

Okay, this was just for fun. But for real, we’re opening our submissions this time next month. October 24th to be exact! Here’s what we’ll be looking for:

*imaginative settings, creative world building, other places, worlds, times, or versions of reality.

*believable and consistent characters who develop and change over the course of the story.

*mixed genres, genre bending, sci-fi/romance, historical/fantasy, adventure/mystery, speculative/poetry, books that don’t *fit* anywhere else.

*engaging writing with a strong opening that pulls the reader in and keeps them wanting more.

*any age group from children’s picture books to adult fiction. This is one area we’re not picky about.

*full length novels or novellas. For short stories, please take a look at our imprint Adventure Worlds Press.

For more detailed submissions information and requirements, please see our submissions page on our website. Thanks for reading and I look forward to receiving your submissions!

Mark your Calendars!

We’ve got a lot of important dates coming up that we wanted to make you aware of. Book launches, opportunities to meet us and browse our selection, workshops, and even our submissions re-opening, we’ve got something for everyone!

September 18th – Open Streets, Windsoropen-streets-windsor

This Sunday Windsor is closing a large stretch of road from one end of the city to the other and we’ll be right at the heart of it in the artist fair, which is part of the Downtown Hub. The event runs from 9am to 1pm, so if you’re looking to take part, make sure to come early!

Here’s a link to more information on this event: http://www.citywindsor.ca/residents/planning/open-streets-windsor/Pages/default.aspx

 

contrastSMSySeptember 19th – Launch Party for The Secret in Mossy Swamp, online

Rita Monette’s newest Nikki Landry Swamp Legend actually goes live on September 17th, but we’re celebrating on Monday, September 19th and you can join us on Facebook for an online launch party. There’ll be prizes and games, a Q and A with the author, and general hanging out with the Mirror World team and other fans of the series. 4 pm to 6 pm EST.

You can get more info and RSVP here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1158930637504097/

 

September 25th – Word on the Street, Toronto

We’ve mentioned this one before, but on Sunday, September 25th we’ll be in Toronto for what promises to be a MASSIVE literary event. We’re excited to be a part of things and we’ll be a booth #13 in the Fringe Beat section if you’re local to Toronto and want to come out and see us. We’ll be there from 10 am to 6 pm.

Here’s a link to more information about this annual event: http://thewordonthestreet.ca/toronto/

Galabannerorange copy

September 30th – Worlds Collide Gala, Windsor

This will be the event of the year for us. In partnership with our new imprint, Adventure Worlds Press, and local theatre arts group, Sho: Art, Spirit, and Performance, we’re celebrating different worlds coming together. We’re also celebrating the launch of all of our 2016 titles and an illustrated version of Adventure Worlds Press’ sci-fi anthology, No Light Tomorrow. Cash bar, prizes, readings, music, author Q and A, what more could you want?

7 pm at Sho: Art, Spirit, and Performance. 628 Monmouth Rd, Windsor.

RSVP here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1186485788080361/

 

2.ArtWORK.Oct16-350x226October 12th – Publishing 101, Windsor

Arts Council Windsor Region and Bookfest Windsor have asked me to facilitate a workshop on the ins and outs of publishing for beginners. This workshop will give an overview of a writer’s options once he or she has completed their manuscript, then we’ll go over some tips and tricks for creating a query letter worth taking notice of. $10 for members, $15 for non-members. 6:30 pm to 9 pm at Artspeak Gallery. 1942 Wyandotte ave, Windsor.

More info and registration for this workshop can be found here: http://acwr.net/event/publishing-primer-acwr-art-work-workshops/?instance_id=183852

lightertkdscoverwithfontOctober 17th – Launch Party for The Last Timekeepers and the Dark Secret, online

Like Time Travel? So do we and we’ve been eagerly awaiting the release of book two in The Last Timekeepers Time Travel Series by Sharon Ledwith. Monday, October 17th is the day and you can join us to celebrate the launch of another book in this great series. Again, there will be prizes, games, Q and A with the author, publisher and fans of these books. Best part is, you don’t even have to leave your computer to attend. Time TBD.  

RSVP here:  https://www.facebook.com/events/1669063423411610/

 

October 24th – Our Submissions Re-Open

I’m sure this is the announcement you’ve all been waiting for. On Monday, October 24th, our submissions open for our 2017 season. So if you have a manuscript that you think would be a great addition to our current list of titles, then I suggest you take this time to go over our submission guidelines and start preparing your manuscript to send it in. And, if your manuscript still needs a little bit of work, maybe you’ll find our Mirror World News videos of use.

Our submission guidelines: http://www.mirrorworldpublishing.com/submissions
Our YouTube Series: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-d6tf8fpn4_mjraKjM-hUQ

October 30th – Retrorama, Windsor

Sunday, October 30th, we’ll be at Retrorama in the vendor’s room. An annual event celebrating geek culture and collectibles, Retrorama is not to be missed and is the perfect opportunity to come out and meet us. Mirror World and Adventure Worlds will be sharing a table and we’ll have all of our books for you to peruse and pick up! $10 entry fee, 10 am to 7 pm at the Caboto Club, Windsor.

More information: https://www.facebook.com/events/207296576294831/

david-mclain.jpg.jpegNovember 17th – Launch Party for The Time Traveler’s Resort and Museum, online

Another launch party! Yep, we’ve got more books coming your way, and this one is worth raving about. The Time Traveler’s Resort and Museum by David McLain is a time travel book like no other and we’re really excited about this one because it encompasses every single genre we dabble in. Time Travel, Science-Fiction, Romance, Adventure, Fantasy, it has it all! Join us to celebrate this ground-breaking launch!

Event listing coming. Like our Facebook page to be kept informed! http://www.facebook.com/mirrorworldpublishing

toudesketchDecember 1st – Launch Party for #Tourdesketch Windsor, location TBD

We’re wrapping 2016 up with another book launch. This one’s special to us because it’s all about our home town. As you know, we’re about different worlds, but how can we celebrate other worlds without also celebrating our own? Owen Swain’s colouring book #tourdesketch Windsor will do just that. And, it’s coming out just in time for Christmas… which means, presents! Join us to celebrate this launch!

Location and time TBD. Subscribe to this blog to be kept informed!

 

Thanks for reading! Are we going to see you at any of these events? Let us know in the comments below!

Rita Monette On Writing in Present Tense

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Past tense or present tense, that is… or was… the question.

I’ve recently been researching the professional and non-professional views on tense in novel writing.

Why, you might ask? I am almost to the finish line of a YA novel I have been working on for…let’s say six years. I first wrote it in past tense, which is my usual way of writing. Then about half way through, for some unknown reason, I thought it would sound better in present tense. So I rewrote it. Now that I’m almost done, I’ve begun to see articles about the pitfalls of writing in present tense, which I—at one point or another—have encountered all. Have I overcome the warning obstacles? We’ll see.

According to David Jauss, of On Writing Fiction, these are three of the drawbacks of writing in present tense.

  1. Present tense restricts our ability to manipulate time, in that it is hard to switch to past tense during the story.

I didn’t seem to have a problem with that, as this information can be brought out in dialog or in the protagonist’s thoughts.

 

  1. It is more difficult to develop complex characters. He goes on to say it is harder to build depth in our characters in present tense. He states without the use of flashbacks, we can’t know enough about our character’s past and he ends up being generic.

 

I accomplished this feat by using dreams or nightmares in the beginning and on occasion to let the reader know what makes our hero do what he does.

 

  1. The present tense can diminish tension by eliminating the knowledge of upcoming events.

 

I didn’t find this to be problematic, but I suppose my readers will have to decide that. To quote Carolyn Chute, author of The Beans of Egypt, Maine, “What we gain in immediacy, we lose in tension. Present tense fiction can create another kind of suspense of course—the kind we feel when no one knows the outcome…”

 

Other articles I’ve read talk about how annoying some people find reading stories in present tense. I have to admit, I have read some that I couldn’t get past the first chapter. It seemed too jerky. But more recently, reading This Night Sucks, by Elizabeth Walker, I actually didn’t even notice it was present tense until well into it, then realized how refreshing it was to read it that way.

 

So, my humble conclusion on whether to write your story in present as opposed to past tense, is that it totally depends on the story,  the way it is told, and perhaps why it is told that way.

 

I will include here the first scene here for anyone that wishes to contribute their opinion.

Excerpt from The Zone of Fear

By Rita Monette

THE DREAM

It’s late August 1990, almost a year ago. My dad and I are sitting in the seat of his Ford Pickup traveling a couple miles west to pick up my friend, Darwin, then on to the park so we could shoot some hoops. He decides to pull into a convenient store to pick up some cigarettes.

“I’ll be right back,” he says.

Dad’s favorite CD, Unplugged by Eric Clapton, is playing Tears in Heaven. What a sad song, I think, and push the eject button. I twist the knob on the radio, looking for something I can get into, when I see a vehicle drive up and park at the end of the lot. Two men get out and head toward the entrance. I notice them because they are acting a little odd. They stand at the door and appear to be arguing, pushing at each other in the chest. One of the men turns and stares at our truck for a moment. He says something to the other man, then they enter the store. I can see Dad at the register handing the attendant some money. I am hoping he remembers to get me the Snickers bar I asked for. Dad picks up his bag and walks toward the door. He smiles as he looks at me through the glass.

Suddenly, I hear three loud bangs. Dad first turns to look behind him, then ducks and dives out the door. He runs toward the truck, staggers, then gains his footing. Then every…thing…turns …into…slow…motion. The front of his white T-shirt looks like a large red rose opening wider and wider. He drops the brown bag he is holding. Then things return to normal speed.

I crawl into the driver’s seat and shift into reverse. I back out of the spot, then swerve around to where my Dad is stumbling and holding his chest. I open the passenger door, and he crawls in. I push my foot hard on the gas pedal and burn rubber, leaving the scene behind us. But we never reach the hospital.

I always wake up at this point…sweating…alone in my room…back to the real world where my dad no longer exists, and the truth. That I had sat frozen in fear…watching as my dad fell to the dirty pavement. It’s the last thing I can remember of that day or for days afterward. I tell myself that I was only thirteen at the time, and no one could possibly

expect me to drive Dad’s truck. It doesn’t help. I could have.

Rita-studio pic cropped-cropped

 

 

Rita Monette is our featured author this month and her newest book, The Secret in Mossy Swamp, launches September 17th!! You can pre-order this installment in the Nikki Landry Series, written and illustrated by Rita, for only $0.99 with the promo code: LEGEND.

If you want to know more about Rita, please check out her website: www.ritamonette.com

Editing 101

Mirror World News is back! That’s right, this week and next you’re being treated to two ALL NEW episodes of our YouTube Show. This week’s episode is about Editing in all its forms, so I thought I would supplement that with a blog post on the subject.

But first, here’s the video:

So let’s recap. Step one, write the first draft of your manuscript. Step two, edit. That seems simple, right?

Well, editing can really be broken into a whole bunch of steps. Or that is to say, you should edit multiple times for different reasons. It’s impossible to catch everything in one pass anyways and as you make changes, or have other people offer their feedback, you’re going to want to edit again.  

So what are the types of editing, or the things you should look for? Here’s my list In the order of how I usually approach it:mistakes

Self-Editing

I’ve written a whole blog post on this topic already. You can find that here, but essentially this is the part where you go over your own work and improve it to the best of your ability. I look to correct errors and my own particular weaknesses, while improving style, word choice, and pacing.

imagesBeta Readers

I’ve also written a whole blog post on this topic. That one’s here. This is where you let other people read what you’ve written and offer feedback and suggestions. It’s important to keep an open mind when being critiqued, but also to take the suggestions of your beta readers with a grain of salt. Their ideas of what would improve the story may not always coincide with your own, and in the end, it’s up to you to decide what to change and what not to.


Content Edit

Tinfo-dumptruckhis edit can be done by a friend, or a professional. The editor in this case is looking for content-related issues such as inconsistencies in the plot, characters, or details. They should watch for places where there is either too much detail or not enough, and comment on anything that is unclear or confusing. Style, voice, pacing, and descriptions should all be paid attention to as well.

Line Edit

No matter what order the other edits are undertaken in, the line edit should come last. Again, this can be done by a friend as long as they are very strong with grammar, but I would recommend a professional or semi-professional for this part. The editor at this stage will be looking to fix any technical issues including, but not limited to spelling, grammar, and punctuation.

 

Hope that helps! If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and/or our YouTube Channel for more publishing and writing advice. If you have any editing related questions for me, or would like to suggest a future topic for me to cover, let me know in the comments below. Thanks for reading!

The World Outside of your Comfort Zone

Us readers, writers and artists have a tendency to live inside of our own heads. This can sometimes lead to feeling isolated or creatively stagnant. If left long enough in this state, we simply run out of ideas, or the motivation to be creative.Around-the-World

In university I took a course called ‘The Creative Process’ meant to teach creative people how to overcome ‘writer’s block’ or whatever you choose to call it, depending on your discipline. Something I learned from this course is the value of new experiences. The easiest and most effective cure for feeling stuck or stagnant is to get out into the world and experience something new.

Back in university, we called these “Artist Dates”. As a part of our ‘twelve-week program’ to getting over writer’s block we were told to take ourselves out on a date once a week. These dates had a couple of rules:

  1. You must go alone
  2. You must do something you wouldn’t ordinarily do
  3. You must do something different each time and…
  4. You must make the best of it

The word ‘date’ is kind of misleading. This isn’t taking yourself out to a dinner and a movie, unless that’s something you don’t usually do on your own and you’d like to give it a try. It’s simply referring to doing something for your creative self and with your creative self. Some examples of things I did and that you can try are:

  1. Hop on a bus and see where it takes you
  2. Go to the dollar store, buy $5 worth of crafting supplies and see what you can make
  3. Try a new discipline. If you’re a writer, paint and if you’re a painter, try poetry or music.
  4. Go for a hike, or swimming, or find a beach.

07bcdcc12df687f02e58c2def519f9a9I don’t go on Artist Dates regularly anymore, but every once and awhile I will make time to nurture my inner artist by stepping out of my comfort zone and experiencing the world. For example, last night I attended a life drawing class put on by Sho: Art, Spirit and Performance. I went by myself, tried something I’ve never done before, and had an experience that I can later hopefully draw from in some creative way. Best of all, I got out of my own head for the evening.

Have you ever taken yourself out on an Artist Date? Would you try it? Let me know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading!

Why Writers Should Also Be Readers

It’s not a coincidence that most people who write are also big readers. Besides providing entertainment and that window into lives other than our own, there’s a lot that reading can teach us about how to be better writers. To do this though, we have to learn to read critically even as we read for enjoyment. Here’s a few techniques you can use when reading to improve your writing.  

1. Vocabulary

This one may be obvious. The more you read, the more words you are exposed to in the correct context and so the more your vocabulary grows. Having a larger vocabulary gives you more words to draw on when you go to write. Now as you read, you tend to pick up some of these words subconsciously, but why not take this opportunity to learn them consciously? As you’re reading, if you come across a word you don’t know, or don’t know as well, see if you can gather the meaning from the context and if not, take the second it takes to look it up and commit it to memory. Heck, you could even make a list of these words for future use.

2. Visualizationapple-clipart-Red-apple-clipart

I learned this one in a creative writing course in University. We were asked to picture an
apple, hold it in our minds, and then afterwards describe it in detail. This is one example of how visualization can help your writing, but even more powerful than doing this exercise is to do it every time you read. As you read, let the words form pictures in your mind. Try seeing the story like it’s a movie, or a dream. Some people do this naturally, but if you don’t, it is a skill worth practising. The more easily you can visualize something, the easier it will be to describe it later when you are writing.

3. Genre

If you want to be a romance writer, read a lot of romance novels. The same goes for any other genre of writing. Once you’ve read enough romance novels, or if you’re reading them critically enough, a pattern will begin to emerge. This pattern will teach you what people expect from the genre you want to write in. Once you know this, you will know how to write in the pattern of the genre and how to break the pattern in new and exciting ways.

4. Foreshadowing and symbolism.

Another skill you can learn from reading a lot, or reading critically, is how to effectively foreshadow events in your own writing. If you pay attention, you can also pick up on common symbols used by storytellers. For example, crossing water tends to indicate a transition of some kind and wearing white can indicate purity or sacrifice. Symbolism can be used to convey themes, for foreshadowing events, or just to clue the savvy reader in to what you are trying to accomplish. Pay attention while you’re reading, especially if you are reading something for the second time to see places where the author leaves you hints for what’s to come. If you can learn to spot these, you’ll be in a better position to know where to put them in your own writing.

symbolism

5. How the experts do it

Perhaps the most beneficial thing a writer can learn from reading is how the experts do it. Reading critically or not, you can already tell which books you like and which you don’t. Reading critically will tell you why you like them and why you don’t. Then, you can use the good books as examples of how to do things well and the rest as examples of what not to do. Reading a lot of books and paying attention to what works and what doesn’t will go a long way towards helping you realize what works and what doesn’t in your own writing. And this is priceless to any writer.

Do you have any tips or tricks to share? Do you read critically, or just for enjoyment? Please feel free to add your thoughts in the comments section below! Thanks for reading.

It’s Okay to Not Write

As writers we often get a lot of well-meaning, but ultimately harmful advice. One such example is the adage, ‘write what you know’ which has some truth to it, but leaves non-scientist science-fiction writers and purely imaginative fantasy writers out in the cold. Another bit of advice I hear a lot is ‘write every day’ or the even more potentially harmful saying, ‘writers write.’

96310b6a9f48e71a3d47f7be9699d5cbThese sayings come from a good place, but to those writers who aren’t currently writing, they can come across as a bit… judgmental. Writing is an art. It is a passionately driven creative endeavor that takes a lot of time, energy, and focus. It is also sometimes dependent on that creative spark that prompts artists to create. Sometimes writers find themselves between projects or on a break and sayings like ‘writers write’ can make those writers feel shame for not writing. It can make them feel less than writers, which is blatantly false.

Now, I’ve given the advice, ‘write every day’ or ‘write as often as possible’ on this blog and when asked for writing advice. What I meant was, write every day, where possible, while you are working on a writing project. The goal here is to stay motivated and ‘in the zone’ so to speak so that the words flow more easily and you don’t lose sight of the various plot threads you are weaving. It is not to intimidate anyone into thinking they are doing it wrong if they don’t write day in and day out.

Writing, especially something the length of a novel, takes a lot out of a person. It is perfectly okay and acceptable to take some time off afterwards. Also, no two writers are alike and their processes differ as much as their levels of experience do. Some writers will need or want more or less time to complete a project and more or less time between projects as well. And this is fine!

So yes, writers write, but they don’t have to be doing it all the time to be considered writers. Sometimes its okay to wait for one’s muse to visit. Sometimes that results in better ideas and a healthier outlook on this art we call writing.