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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!

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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.

 

 

How to write a strong opening

Openings are hard, but they are so crucial to get right. I’ll confess that I’ve had my share of trouble with them over the years. Typically, my way of dealing with them is to pay no more attention to them than I do the rest of the book, then return to them once I’ve completed the manuscript and re-work them while I’m tackling the second draft. This technique though is a lot like building the frame of a house and then worrying about trying to shore up the foundation, which seems a lot like the wrong way to do things.

So this time, I’m doing things a little differently. I’ve been working on a new project (forgive me if I’m sparse on the details, but I’ve only just started and I don’t like to share things until I’m sure they’re going to be things, if you know what I mean.) But for this project I’m working on perfecting the beginning first before I keep going with the rest of the manuscript. The reasoning behind this approach is simple. The opening is meant to draw readers in, so I figure when I get it right, the opening will make me want to keep writing.

Here’s what I’ve learned:

inmediasres

  1. Where the scene opens

You’ve all heard the advice, I’m sure; start in medias res, the middle of the action. But that doesn’t always mean starting in the middle of a gunfight, or even in a high point of tension. It can mean that, but it certainly doesn’t have to. What you need to consider is: where does your story start? What is the inciting incident that sets things in motion and how close can your opening get to it while still covering what the reader needs to know to be invested in your story.

It’s okay to struggle with this. It’s okay to have a few false starts, or write scenes that won’t end up in the final version of your manuscript just to get some knowledge of the backstory and the moments that lead up to where your story opens. Just as long as you are willing to let these first attempts go and focus on starting at the point that hooks your readers.

2.  The opening line

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times. The first line is literally THE most important thing you write. This is your first impression. It’s your chance to engage your reader. It doesn’t need to need to be long, or complicated. In fact, it’s better if it’s not. It does, however, need to fit the style and the tone of your story and establish the other two things I’m going to talk about, the hook and the voice, right away.

You’ve been told over and over again that you have to hook your reader. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to have them in a vice grip on the first line, it just means that you need to introduce some hint of mystery, some form of a question in their minds that piques their curiosity enough to keep reading.

3. The hooklandor

I talked a bit about the hook in the last section, but now that you’ve got an amazing first line, how do you reel the reader in? The easiest way to do this is to subtly dribble out information like breadcrumbs, so your reader will follow the trail you’ve set.

If you’ve hooked your reader in your first sentence, then do the same in the second one, and so on, you’ll keep their eyes skimming along the page. This way, within a couple of paragraphs at most, you’ll have them drawn helplessly into the world and the situation you’ve created.

4. The voice

Another tough thing to master, the voice of your narrative is also crucial to the success of your manuscript. It can also work to be a great hook, drawing readers in. Your voice relies on your character. Either that of your protagonist, or of your narrator if your narrator differs from your protagonist. It’s the way you tell your story, what kind of language you use, the length and complexity of your sentences, the style, all of it. Nothing is more powerful a tool for making your story interesting than the voice it’s told in.

If you want a great example of this, I would recommend checking out Rita Monette’s Nikki Landry Swamp Legends Series, specifically the first one, Legend of Ghost Dog Island. Nikki Landry, a ten-year old girl living in the bayous of Louisiana in the 1950’s comes alive as the narrator as early as the first line. In the spirit of being helpful, here’s a link to the Amazon sample!

I’ve written the opening to my newest project at least four, if not five, times now, but I think I’ve got something great now. For your own opening, you’ll know you’ve got something to work with when you’ve mastered the four points above and can really feel the story pulling you in as much as it will pull your readers. Remember, you can always pass it by a writer’s group, or a friend with a critical eye who is willing to tell you the truth without being too soul-crushing about it. If you don’t have any of those handy, toss your first paragraph into the comments below and I’ll be happy to take a look at it for you!

And on that note, here’s mine:

The change came without warning, unless you count the rain. It pounded on the window of my battered Oldsmobile, demanding to be let in. I sighed, frustrated. So much for the Weather Network. Wrenching the rusted driver’s side door open, I was drenched in seconds. I scurried across the city parking lot, doing my damndest to avoid the worst of the puddles, though it hardly mattered now. The damage was done.

The Art of Self-Editing

Some people might call it ‘writing a second draft’ but for me everything that comes after the first draft is complete and before I let anyone else have a look at my manuscript is self-editing.

I see a lot of advice out there that tells you not to ‘self-edit’. Or at the very least to put the manuscript aside for a long while before picking it up again to gain some perspective. On the first point, I disagree entirely, and on the second, I’ve found that it doesn’t work that well for me. At least not at the stage between the first and second drafts.

Here’s a look at how I handle the process, personally. If there is one thing I’ve learned it is that every writer is different, but if you can learn something from how I do things, then that’s what this is all about!

images3So recently Murandy and I completed the first draft of Uncharted. Typically, I will put the manuscript aside for a week or two as I celebrate our accomplishment and take a breather, but as soon as I feel like ‘going back to work’ I get started self-editing. It’s important to wait until the first draft is complete before starting to edit, even if you’re tempted to go back and fix things as you go, because for one thing, you don’t want to second guess yourself while in progress and for another, you don’t want to get so bogged down with editing that you don’t get the first draft done.

When I pick up the first draft to start editing, this is typically the first time I’ve read the story in its entirety as opposed to being focused on a scene, or even a paragraph, at a time, so I feel that gives me at least the illusion of ‘reading it for the first time.’ On this first read-through, I keep an eye out for the story as a whole, but I also watch out for a bunch of other things:

Pacing

While reading the scenes as they flow together, I want to make sure that the story stays interesting and engaging, especially to me as I wrote it and technically know what happens next. It’s good to keep an eye out for places where the plot lags, or places where events are skipped over too quickly that you can afford to flesh out. Also at this point, I take a really close look at my opening and eventually my ending. I want the former to hook my readers and make them want to read on and I want the latter to be satisfactory.landor

Worldbuilding and Exposition

When you know your own world and your own plot so well, it’s easy to forget that your reader doesn’t know it as well as you do. When reading through the first draft, I watch for places where a reader might get confused, or might need more information to comprehend what’s going on. This is especially important when working on a sequel in places where you have to reference back to the events of the previous book in order to make something clear. It’s also best to do this in as organic a way as possible and to also keep an eye out for places where too much exposition is given. You want to avoid bogging down the story with unnecessary details and also avoid over-explaining things and boring your reader.

Descriptions

As a writer, you know your own habits and weaknesses. A trap I often fall into is seeing places, people, and objects so clearly in my mind that I assume the reader can see them too and therefore, I forget or omit describing them to their fullest. So while self-editing, I keep a close eye anytime a character is introduced, or a new setting is reached, to make sure that I’ve fully described everything, and if I haven’t then I make sure to correct that omission.

story-pacingFlow

This is the part that takes the longest, but is also the most important in my opinion. As I read through the first draft, I often do so aloud where possible, or in my head at a deliberately slow speed to ‘listen’ to the flow and cadence of the writing. The sentences as a whole and the words chosen within them should flow together and ‘sound right’. This is a hard thing to explain, but what I particularly watch out for is awkward sentences, incorrect grammar and punctuation (reading aloud is a great way to tell you where the commas should go), repeated words or phrases, added words like ‘that’ and ‘very’, redundancy especially in dialogue and all sorts of other things. This is the part of the process where you go through your writing with a fine-toothed comb and make sure everything is the way you want it to be.

My Notes

While writing, I notice things that I want to change or fix, or things that I know I didn’t do as strong of a job conveying as I would like. In order to help me avoid the temptation of immediately stopping to edit, I keep a list of things to look out for when self-editing. Typically these are things like make sure to add foreshadowing of such and such in chapter one, but it can also be something as simple as, character A had a gun in that scene, what happened to it? Or really anything you want to have a second look at.

mistakes

And that’s it! Once I’ve gone through and created my ‘second draft’, I’m usually confident enough at that point to show my work to Robert (my husband and editor) and eventually, if he gives the ok, to beta readers. If I’m not feeling confident at this point, that usually means I need to go back and work a little more or, I’ll give the manuscript the shelf treatment and come back to it in a few months to try again. Or, sometimes as in Mirror’s Heart (sequels are hard) I needed the opinions of Robert and the beta readers to fix what was really wrong with it.

Good luck with your second drafts! If you have any questions or comments, please put them in the comments section below and I would be happy to read them!

Joshua Pantalleresco’s ‘Rules’ of Writing – Part 2

To find Rules 1-4 click here. Otherwise, here’s part 2!

Number Five: Revise, Revise, Revise

If you have made it this far, you have in all likelihood finished a draft.  Congratulations.  Seriously.  You went out there and finished a draft.  I’m giving myself a self high five in your honor.

So now what?

Well, barring insane deadlines, take a few days away from your creation.  Yes, it’s WatcherFront copymarvelous and glorious and you love it and stuff, but you’ve also been in the trenches awhile.  Get away.  Read some books, watch movies, date your significant other, whatever.  Just do something else for a few days.  The work will be there waiting when you get back.

When you do come back, you will have a fresher perspective and now is the time to revise your draft.  This is the point where you can say that your draft isn’t perfect.   It’s no longer a luxury – you are now a surgeon or a sculptor, cutting away pieces of unnecessary prose, inserting words in new places.  This process is a vital part of taking a great idea and making it an engaging piece for readers.  It’s probably going to happen several times which leads to…

Number Six:  Repeat rules one through five as necessary

Because as you revise, new ideas come up, and the story becomes more polished and that gem of an idea you now is a hard diamond of literary excellence.  Again, there is a fine line between polish and unnecessary revision, and as a writer you need to respect that.  After a couple of drafts or so, I recommend letting someone else read the work.  No matter how many times you walk away from a script, there are always going be things you miss.  Writers are too close to their own work.  We can’t help it, so try to pass it on to someone that will be honest with you.

Hmm, that is six writing things.  I don’t think I’m going to make ten, but I have two more things to mention before I go.

Number Seven:  Listen to your characters

Now some of you are hardcore plotters, and some like me tend to fly from the seat of the pants.  The truth is, writers are a mixture of both.  If we plot too much, we don’t let the story breathe, and if we don’t have an ending in mind, pantsers tend to wander on youtube too much because we have no idea where else to go.  But something I’ve learned is that the characters I’m writing about know where they are going better than I do.  Let them guide Cover-Final-8by11you.  Don’t worry.  They won’t steer you wrong most of the time.  Don’t force their path when they do this.  Let them lead you to their own promised land.

You don’t have to take my advice here.  That said, I found in the case of Stormdancer that it worked out far better than I imagined.  I had this idea that Kristen and company would end up in jail.  I had no plan on how they would escape.  Kristen had severe anger issues before ending up in prison and had no way to release those emotions.  I didn’t have a solution to her anger.  She told me she could use her anger to escape this place.  I trusted her, and realized the symbol of her being in a cage not just on the outside, but in it.  Jailbreak in Stormdancer is probably one of the strongest chapters I have written, and it wasn’t me.  It was all her.

Number Eight: Write from the heart

On my own webpage (http://www.joshuapantalleresco.com) I talk about this rule the most outside of rule one.  It took me fifteen years to realize that all my plotting and fancy ideas meant nothing unless I had a story that connected readers to it.

The human heart is one thing all of us share.  Art in any form is about expressing it.  People understand pain, anger, laughter, tears.  Good writing brings those feelings and experiences to the forefront.  If you can’t expresss what is in your heart, in my view you are not ready to be published.  What do you care about?  What do you believe in?

What matters to you?

Express it.  Because the one thing you can’t fake is what it is inside you.  It’s the most genuine part of you.  And if you can tap into it, you will find readers that will resonate with your work.   So be genuine on the page.  I don’t care if you’re writing about a jar of dirt or a quest to save the moon from the evil martians;  what in this story are you saying about you?

There you have it, my eight something or others about writing.  I hope this helps you.  Use what works for you, discard the rest.  There is no set formula to this other than rule one.

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Write.

Joshua Pantalleresco writes fiction, poetry and comics. He also lo

ves to do interviews. He has written columns for comicbloc and allpulp and currently does so for comicmix. The Watcher is his second book of poetry. He resides in Calgary.

He has a blog you can follow here.

Joshua Pantalleresco’s ‘Rules’ of Writing – Part 1

I said yes to this without thinking really.

I thought, “sure, do another blog to shamelessly promote my books.”  Seems like a good idea.  Only looking at the whole topic and thinking about it for a second, I came to a horrifying thought.

I’m the one talking about rules in writing?  Me?  You sure?  Alright.

Let me see what I can bul-  I mean, come up with.

Thinking about this rule to writing thing, the obvious question is are there really any rules to writing?  I mean, I make stuff up and write it down.  I’m not sure if it’s right or wrong.  In truth, there’s a lot of question as to the whole right or wrong thing.  We’re making stuff up after all, and really the only thing that really matters is that you connect with readers.  This is a fancy way of me saying that I’m not sure I have ten rules or guidelines or whatever you’d like to call them to write.  I think what I will say here is I’m going to talk about what works for me, and if you can get something from it, more power to you.   I just hope I haven’t already sounded like a gibbering idiot before I began.

My Rules, Guidelines erm….Stuff to writing.

Number One:  Write!

I’m pretty sure that one is everyone’s first rule.   And it should be, because let’s face it, that’s the name of the game.   You may have this amazing, one of a kind idea about a jar of dirt that no one has ever seen before.   Kudos to you my friend if you do, but if you don’t write it down, it’s just an idea.  So write it down, especially if the idea is fresh.

Number Two:  Keep Writing!

This one might seem silly upon first glance. But here’s the thing us writers realize after a few sessions on a story.  We screw up.  All the time.  When we realize that we make mistakes, our first instinct is to just go back and fix it.  After we fix it, we breathe a sigh of relief and keep going.

Or do we?

If you do, awesome.  I’m not like that.  I tend to want to work a sentence, rewrite it, clarify it, check my word choices.  You know, make it perfect.  The problem with that elusive perfect prose is that it’s impossible to reach.   You always know that no matter how clean your words are, you could do it better.

You know what you are not doing when you pursue this course of action?  Finishing your story.   This is a nasty trap many a writer fall victim to.  I’ve done it myself.  So much so that now I don’t think about my story not being perfect.  As far as I’m concerned, this draft of the story IS perfect…until the draft is finished.  Then I can revise and admonish myself for not making it perfect.  But I don’t give myself that luxury to revise myself until the draft is done.

Don’t dare engage in revision until the story is done.  That way lies madness, and an incomplete story.  Keep writing.

Number Three:  Finish your story.

This one might also seem silly upon first glance.   It’s really hard to close a tale.  There are a myriad of reasons for this, but if I had to be honest,  it’s because this is the part that takes the most work.  Writing a story is a process of sitting on your keyboard and doing the work of putting words to a page, and getting to the end of it is a journey.  Walking that walk day in and day out takes discipline and time and effort.   It’s the most work a writer has short of promoting their stuff.

There are a number of ways to get there.  Word count is a decent path to success, unless you’re doing a book a like the watcher, then it’s a matter of chapters and goals.  But the best advice here to help you get to the end is that each day set yourself some goals and work to achieving them.  Stephen King said that five hundred words a day equals a novel at the end of the year, and he’s right.  Setting yourself goals in small steps often increases your chances of success of getting there.  So set yourself small steps to walk each day, whether it’s a word count, chapter or whatever you need to get through the day, and you’ll achieve the towering success of a novel in no time.

Number Four:  Don’t get distracted

So if I’m going to mention finishing work, I have to acknowledge the giant pink elephant in the room that is the internet.   The internet is a wonderful tool filled with knowledge, information and other things to get you on government watch lists.  But it is also a place to get distracted.

If you looked at my browsing history, you’d find wrestling, facebook, twitter, and amazon as my go to places.  We all have those go to places on the internet.  In fact, at least two hours a day of my life get lost to the abyss that the world wide web resides in.  We all do it on some level.  Maybe it’s a video of Richard Simmons on Whose Line is it anyway?  Or maybe it’s watching Charlie Murphy talking about getting his butt whipped by Prince in Basketball and having pancakes afterwards.  All in all, your computer is also your toy, and should be respected as such.  Go play a little before your begin, and hey, use it as the toy it is once you are done for the day.  Until then, turn off the wireless.  It’s a click of a button.

Now that the pink elephant has been identified,  let’s get serious for a second.  Distractions don’t just come in the form of internet amusement.   Distractions are everywhere.  They come in many forms and wear many faces.  Sometimes it can be a job, a spouse, a friend, a hassle, overcommittment – the list goes on and on.  Your greatest form of wealth is not your money but your time.  Treat your time like gold, because it’s more valuable.  You can’t replace it once it’s gone.   So if you want to write, you have to make time for it, and that means NO DISTRACTIONS.

If you want this,  make it happen.   Even at my busiest working two jobs to stay afloat, I managed to find forty minutes in a day to work.  It can be forty, it can be five minutes.  It doesn’t matter.   If you want to make something happen, it can and it will.  So don’t let yourself be bogged down with distractions and inaction.  If you want to write, WRITE.

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Joshua Pantalleresco is the author of the epic poem, The Watcher, and its sequel, Stormdancer. He writes fiction, poetry and comics. He also loves to do interviews. He has written columns for comicbloc and allpulp and currently does so for comicmix. He resides in Calgary.

He has a blog you can follow here.

And I urge you to check out his podcast series which you can also find through his blog. Stay tuned next week for Part 2 of Joshua Pantalleresco’s ‘Rules’ of Writing!

Sharon Ledwith’s 10 Rules of Writing

Mirror World Publishing’s boss-lady, Justine Dowsett, recently challenged her authors to write their own list of 10 Rules of Writing, so I thought I’d throw my hat into the ring and share my ten rules with you:

Meeting a reader1. Do what’s best for you. Find your rhythm and write what you love. You are your own #1 fan! Your best bet is to follow your heart.
2. Exercise first. You’re on your ass hours at a time. I exercise in the morning so my body is recharged and ready. Don’t forget to get up and stretch between writing periods. You need to get out of your head at some point, so you might as well do something healthy.
3. Keep post notes and note pads around your desk (or in your purse) to brain storm or get that next idea down before you lose it! If you’re a techno-geek, get an app like Evernote.
4. Go with the flow. Be prepared for family emergencies or major life transitions. Life certainly gets in the way at times. It’s best to be flexible and understand that some things are more important. Your story will wait for you.
5. Keep learning, and keep growing. This industry changes in a blink of the eye. If I didn’t learn how to blog five years ago, get on social media, and start my author platform, I would have been left behind.
6. Enjoy the journey. No matter what stage of the publishing game you’re in, make sure youWriting reevaluate your steps to know how far you’ve come. Pat yourself on the back, and remember to celebrate any milestones too!
7. Tweak your writing plan at least once a year (you do have a plan, right?). Get rid of what’s not working, and refine what is working for YOU.
8. Blog at least once a week. This keeps your name (author brand) out there in cyber-space, and provides fresh content for your followers to read. It’s also great writing practice, and is a form of self-discipline.
9. Find your balance. Be unshakable. The publishing industry can squash your dreams. Don’t compare yourself to other authors. That can be soul crushing. Remember everyone is on their own path. JK Rowling is on hers, Stephen King is on his. Stick to yours, and blaze your trail.
10. This is non-negotiable for me: HELP OTHERS ACHIEVE THEIR GOALS. Whether you share or tweet their posts, do a cover reveal on your blog, or review their book, you’ll find that when you give, you get. Plus, it will make you feel good inside and out!
The writing business can be messy and hard at times. Even authors need a set of rules to keep them on the straight and narrow (or off the beaten path). So what rules do you have for writing? Would love to read your comments! Cheers and thank you for reading my post!

Sharon Ledwith #1 Headshot

Sharon Ledwith is the author of the middle-grade/young adult time travel series, THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS, and is represented by Walden House (Books & Stuff) for her teen psychic series, MYSTERIOUS TALES FROM FAIRY FALLS. When not writing, researching, or revising, she enjoys reading, exercising, anything arcane, and an occasional dram of scotch. Sharon lives a serene, yet busy life in a southern tourist region of Ontario, Canada, with her hubby, one spoiled yellow Labrador and a moody calico cat.

Learn more about Sharon Ledwith on her WEBSITE and BLOG. Look up her AMAZON AUTHOR page for a list of current books. Stay connected on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, GOOGLE+, and GOODREADS. Check out THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS TIME TRAVEL SERIES Facebook page.
BONUS: Download the free PDF short story The Terrible, Mighty Crystal HERE

My 10 rules of writing…

In no particular order:

  1. Write for you, not ‘the market’. Write what you love, then look for readers when you’re finished.
  2. Put yourself in the scene. Live it, experience it firsthand, then write it.
  3. Know your world- spend as much time in it as possible. You need to know your world and the people in it as well as you know the world you usually live in.
  4. Set aside time. Make writing a priority. Close the door, turn off your wi-fi, disconnect from the real world so you can visit your fictional one. Focus.
  5. Write as often as possible. Schedule as necessary to make this happen. Scribe Tools
  6. Use the little moments of the day to write, plan, think, and create. Use paper and pen, a tablet, a laptop, your phone, a napkin… whatever is available to keep the ideas flowing. If you can’t write a whole scene, leave yourself notes for later.
  7. Don’t stop until the project is finished. Pause, put it on hold when life gets in the way, but always come back to it.
  8. Avoid over-planning. Your characters are going to do what they want anyway, so you might as well leave them enough room in your plans to let them.
  9. Talk about your book. Get excited. Motivation is the key to the success of any project.
  10. Never give up. If you love to write, then write. Don’t let anyone else’s opinions get in the way. Just keep improving, learning and most of all, writing!

What ‘rules’ do you have for writing? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below!