writers

The Moment you’ve been waiting for… Submissions open November 1st, 2017.

It’s that time of year again! We’re pleased to announce that our submissions will open again for a brief window starting November 1st, 2017. How brief of a window, you may ask? Well, that depends how quickly we find what we’re looking for! But submissions will be open at least through the month of November, if not until the end of the year. However, if you’re considering submitting to us this year, I feel I must warn you that we expect the competition will be fierce. See, the thing is, we’ve almost got a full line-up picked out for 2018, so at most we’ll be looking to pick one, possibly two more books and that’s it.

wg1If you want to see what kind of books we publish to see if yours fits in, please have a look at our store. You can try one of our books for free with the discount code: MWFREETRIAL

And if you want to see what new books we have coming up, take a look at our new releases page here. 

We’re looking for Escapism Fiction. Children’s, Middle Grade, Young Adult, or Adult, any target age will do, but please inform us in your query letter who the target audience is. We’ll also want to know the genre, either fantasy, romance, science fiction, adventure, mystery, paranormal, speculative, or some combination of those I just listed. Your manuscript’s word count is also important to include, because it tells us at a glance the length of the project we’re looking at. Is it a novel, a novella, or something else? Are you writing a series? If so, tell us. Tell us how many books we are to expect to receive from you if we take you on.

If you submit to us, we expect to see a query letter filled with the information mentionedSpellhaven cover above as well as a quick description of your book. We’d also like a 1 page synopsis that includes the ending of your story so we can see if you can craft a satisfactory ending. Send both of those things along with a 3 chapter (or equivalent) sample – Please do not send the full manuscript if it is longer than 25 pages.

When we receive your submission, we’re going to be looking very closely at your opening. We’re looking for stories within our theme and preferred genres that have strong engaging openings. In order for us to request your entire manuscript you will have to catch our attention and prove your writing is interesting, relatively error-free, and engaging in the first scene. If your writing compels us to read the whole sample and want to read more, you’re on the right track.

Regardless of whether we accept your manuscript for publication or not we PROMISE to send you our thoughts with advice for how to improve your manuscript or which direction to try next. Because crafting personal responses takes time, we ask that you allow us six to eight weeks to respond. We WILL respond to all queries we receive, so there’s no need to follow up with us. 418obP8qfdL._SL500_AC_SS350_

So get your submission packages ready! And remember, if you need help, to check out our YouTube Channel and this blog for writing and publishing advice!

For details on how to submit and what we are and aren’t looking for, please see our Submissions Page. Thank you!

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Public Speaking for Authors

 

Lately, this has been the topic I’ve been tackling in my day-to-day life, so I thought I should tackle it here as well.

Stage-Fright-Holding-You-BackLike most writers I know, I’m an introvert. I prefer to write, read, edit, and generally work behind the scenes. When I go out to network, sell books and meet people, I often find myself needing to hole up and recharge afterwards. It takes a lot out of me. But, it’s also a big part of what I do as a publisher and a published author.

Especially this month. Somehow this month’s schedule got filled with speaking engagements, and opportunities to read my book aloud in public. And all of those opportunities happening to fall within the same week and a half have caused my nerves to fray terribly.

So, how, as an introverted person, do I deal with this?

Be prepared

This might seem like a no-brainer, but picking out what section you’re going to read in advance and/or writing out your presentation or speech beforehand and editing it as thoroughly as you might edit your query letter to a publisher will help you feel more at ease with what you’re doing and it will make you more familiar with what you’re going to be reading or saying.

keep-calm-and-let-s-practice-11Practice

Once you have your words picked out, practice saying them out loud. Read to your cats, or like Murandy did, your baby. Read alone, or to someone you trust. It’s all about practicing in a judgment-free zone until you feel more comfortable.

Try not to dwell on it

Whenever you start thinking about it and you feel that anxiety creeping up on you, try to force it down, or will it away. Find something else to focus on and whatever else you do, don’t wallow in that feeling; that will only make it stronger. Find a friend to distract you, or play a video game or something, it will pass.

Speak confidently and slowly

When you get to the actual moment of reading or speaking start loud and keep that pitch, then make sure everything you say is said with emphasis and that you don’t speed up out of nervousness. Speak slowly and enunciate, just like you practiced.

a076a7851bc423dcd8645975b8d4e2c2Make jokes

If you can get the audience to laugh, you’ll feel loads better. If your subject warrants it, or if comedy helps you feel more comfortable, then use it. Engage with your audience and make eye contact with them when you can so speaking to them feels more like a conversation and less like a speech.

Celebrate afterwards!

Never underestimate the value of rewarding yourself for a job well done. If you got over your fear and accomplished what you set out to do, then go celebrate. You’ve earned it.

Planning for Pantsers

I’m a pantser. What does that mean? It means that I’d rather ‘write by the seat of my pants’ than plan anything beforehand. However, with my latest book Uncharted, written with my co-writer Murandy Damodred, we did more planning than I’m used to and I think it helped us.

Making Notes:kelsey-blog-pic-3-1o07fm8


Since Murandy and I co-write, we use Google Drive to keep everything straight. If you’re not familiar with Google Drive or Google Docs, it’s an open platform where you can share your documents and multiple accounts can work on the same document at the same time. It also serves as a cloud drive, so your work is saved and backed up automatically and anyone you give access to the files can open them up and work on them. This helped us with planning because while writing we always had access to our notes file, which became a living document, changing as the story expanded.

Uncharted CoverSetting and Worldbuilding:

Usually I do a lot of the world building in my own head, but since Uncharted is an adventure story that takes place in a variety of settings and cultures, I made a point of writing down a handful of things to keep in mind about the settings, so I would make sure to include them.

stock-vector-hand-drawn-cartoon-characters-on-checked-paper-broken-divided-group-65099188Characters:

This is where the planning really came in handy. Before we started writing, Murandy and I wrote out detailed backstories for each of our main characters and at least a sentence or two about our minor characters as we invented them. This helped to flesh everyone out and make sure we knew where they had come from and what was important to them because of that.

Plot:

This is where our best of intentions sort of fell apart, but in a good way. Before we started writing, we formed a point form list of plot points then we proceeded to ignore them. As we wrote, we went back and added new plot points to our list and kept adding to that list to stay a few steps ahead of the story, but ultimately this was a form of pantsing more than planning.  

Editing:

Where the notes really came in handy was when I went to write the second draft. All throughout the first draft, instead of going back and fixing things that needed changing, I took notes instead. Then, when I went over the finished first draft, I applied the changes or checked for the problems I’d indicated. It saved me a ton of time and it also meant that Murandy and I could write quickly, without feeling like we were making a mess of things.

pantser-or-plotter-writing
All in all, if you’re a pantser, like me, I suggest trying to apply some planning to your process just to see what you can learn. And if you’re a planner, take a risk and try a little pantsing! Thanks for reading!

How to Choose a title for your novel!

First, I would like to note that I usually find this to be an easy task. Or, at least, usually a title comes to me either before the book is written or while I am writing it. However, that’s not the case with the third book in the Mirror World series, which despite being nearly done the first draft, Murandy and I do not have a title for yet! And it’s soooo frustrating.

If you’re trying to figure out a title for your novel, here’s what usually works for me.

The title should be relevant to your story.
This can be something to do with where the story is set, with the theme, a line of dialogue, or the name or title of a character. What’s important is that your title ties into your book somehow. For example, Neo Central, is the name of the only remaining city in my first novel.

The title should be meaningful.frontMW1copy
At first, the title may only have meaning to you, the author, but at some point in the process of reading your novel, the reader should have an ‘ah-ha!’ moment where they understand the reason for your selection. This moment can happen as early as when they read the blurb on the back of your book, or as late as the last line, but there should be some connection made between the title and something within the story.

For example the title, Mirror’s Hope, is chalk-full of meaning. One character goes by the name of Mira and the other, Hope. It’s a romance. Also, there are parallel worlds called, Mirror Worlds, in which everyone has a double of themselves, called a Mirror. So the title has multiple meanings, just by being a play on words.

The title should be memorable.
Essentially this boils down to the title should stick in your potential readers’ minds. It should be short, catchy, possibly mysterious. Whatever you need to make sure whoever sees it will want to read it and remember it for later.

Uncover3The title should try and evoke a sense of genre.
Each genre comes with its own set of tropes and expectations. I’m not saying you have to abide by them, but if your title can evoke a sense of genre, your reader will more easily know what to expect and potential readers may be drawn to your novel more easily. To do this, research some titles in the genre you are reading and see if you can spot some patterns.

For example, Unintended, is a play on the word ‘intended’ which implies marriage in a historical or fantasy setting. Adding the ‘Un’ before it, implies comedy. At least I think so.

Your title should be as original as you can make it.
This is tough because a lot of names have already been taken. A good rule of thumb is to do some research and make sure that no other books, especially in your genre, have the same name. If you do end up with the same name as something else, it could cause problems or confusion down the road which is best to avoid.

coming-soon

So as you can see, coming up with a good title is no simple matter! That’s why Murandy and I need your help! We’re going to be putting out a poll next week to help us choose the title for the next book in the Mirror World series. Stay tuned, or subscribe to this blog to be kept informed of developments!

Thanks for reading and good luck with your book titles!

Our Submissions are OPEN – Here’s what we’re looking for…

This is it. The moment you’ve been waiting for;our submissions are open once again!

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As a small independent publisher, what we’ve found works best for us is to open our submissions in the fall and leave them open until we’ve confirmed our new releases for the upcoming year. This year we’re looking for 3-5 titles to release in 2017 and we’ll keep accepting submissions until we find them.

So how do you submit to us? Well, it all starts here. On our website’s submissions page we list all the types of books we’re looking for and all the ones we absolutely will not be interested in. We also outline what to send us, where to send it, and how long you should expect to wait for a response. We’ve also included some helpful links to videos we’ve made to help you prepare your manuscript and submission package, not just for us, but for anywhere you choose to send it.

But what’s going to set your submission above the rest? What are we really looking for? Well, I’ll tell you.

Your Query Letter

When we receive a submission, the first thing we look at is your query letter. Typically this should be in the body of your email to us. What we’re looking for here is a sense of who you are and what your book is about. Your ability to write well matters even in your query letter because it is your first impression. We’re also looking for the following bits of information:

  • Your genre (or target audience)
  • Your word count (or scope of the project)
  • Your credentials (or writing history)
  • Your concept, what hooks your reader.

Your Synopsis

Next, we’re going to look at your synopsis. This should be no more than one page and is simply a way of introducing us to your story, your setting, your characters, and the plot. We’re looking to see if the story interests us, but we’re also trying to gauge your ability to tell a story and wrap it up effectively. We want to see how the story ends and we want to see your style as a writer. Please include:

  • Your setting
  • Your main characters
  • Your concept, what hooks your reader
  • Your major plot points
  • A satisfying conclusion

Your Sample Chapters

We ask you to send three chapters with your submission package. We’re looking specifically for an engaging opening. We want to be drawn into your story’s world immediately; We want to care about your main character and we want to be interested in what’s going to happen to them. In short, you need to hook us, your reader. Then, you need to hold our attention for three chapters. If you can do that, we’ll ask to see more. We’re looking for:

  • Your style, or ‘voice’ of your writing
  • Your inciting incident, (again, what hooks your reader)
  • Your writing ability (and level of polish)
  • Your world-building
  • The believability of your characters
  • How well you’ve realized the potential we detected in the query letter or synopsis.

If you receive a rejection letter from us:

There are a number of reasons that we might not want your manuscript and we will do our best to tell you exactly why that is. We strive to provide detailed notes for you so that you will be better prepared no matter what steps you choose to take next in your publishing journey. Keep in mind that publishing is a very subjective and selective business and that what doesn’t work for one publisher, may work well for another. Some of the common reasons we pass on a manuscript are as follows:

  • It’s not in our genre, or doesn’t fit with our current list of titles (see our collection here)
  • It’s not ready for publication and needs improvement of some kind
  • Something in it conflicts with our message or values (learn more about us, here)
  • It just didn’t interest or engage us
  • We ask for the full manuscript, but the story doesn’t realize the potential we see in the sample

submissions

I hope you’ve found this blog post helpful and I look forward to reading your submissions!

Go to http://www.mirrorworldpublishing.com/submissions to get started!

 

What are your Publishing options?

A couple of days ago, I facilitated a workshop at the Arts Council Windsor Regions’s Artspeak Gallery as a part of their Art.Work series and in partnership with Bookfest Windsor. The subject of the workshop was Publishing 101 and I’m happy to say it went well and we had a really good turnout.

Since the workshop was a one time thing, and only available here in Windsor, I thought I would share with all of you the materials I prepared for the workshop, so you too can benefit from them. Here goes:

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You’ve finished your manuscript, edited it, had beta readers go over it, edited it again, and now you’re ready for the next step. But what is the next step? As a writer with a completed manuscript, what are your options?

Barring doing nothing more than putting that manuscript 2.ArtWORK.Oct16-350x226aside and starting the next one, here’s what you can do to get your book to the public:

  • Self Publish
  • Pay for Publishing Services
  • Find an Agent
  • Find a Publisher

Which option is right for you? Well, that depends on what you’re willing to put in and what you want to get out of the experience. Let’s look at each option individually.

  1. Self Publishing

The success of a self-publishing venture is directly related to how much money, time, and effort you put into it. You can do everything yourself cheaply and easily these days and print as few or as many copies as you’re willing to pay for and then do what you wish with those copies, whether it’s giving them away or selling them on a consignment basis at local stores, or directly at local events. Or, you can become an entrepreneur and make a business out of selling your brand and your book, doing all the learning and legwork required to be successful in a challenging industry.

The Pros: When you self-publish, you have control over everything. You make all the decisions, creatively and financially. You get the largest percentage possible of the revenue from your work.

The Cons: You have to do all the work, or pay professionals to do that work for you. You risk a lower-quality book and you face a lack of support. There is a lot to learn and a lot of market-research to be done. You will have less access to the market as a whole and may struggle to get your book in front of readers.

  1.  Pay for Publishing Services

I originally had this under the heading of ‘Find a Vanity Press, or Hybrid Publisher’ but I want to be clear about what this option entails. There are a number of companies out there for whom authors are their source of income. They sell publishing services, which allow you to end up with a published book by paying them to produce it for you. A lot of vanity presses are scams, though not all of them are, you just need to be aware of what you’re getting into. Vanity presses are not selective, they charge you to publish your book, and they will often not provide much beyond that original transaction and allowing you to purchase copies of your book from them to re-sell. Hybrid Publishers are a little different. They combine the vanity press model with the more traditional style publishing model. They can be selective, they may offer you more support, but you may still have to pay for their services. Each hybrid publisher is different, depending on how they’ve constructed their business model, so do your research and read your contract very carefully before signing, especially if you’re being asked to pay for any part of the publishing process.

Pros: Your book will be published by professionals. You’re paying for a quality product. The press may offer other benefits at a price.  

Cons: A lot of vanity presses are scams. This method can be expensive. You may receive no support beyond the production of the book, leaving marketing and distribution entirely up to you, just as it would be with self-publishing.

  1. Find an Agent

Agents are brokers. They represent your work to publishing houses and try to broker a deal on your behalf, making their profit from this arrangement. It makes sense then that an agent would try and bring your manuscript to the larger, more reputable publishing houses that have deeper pockets. A number of publishing houses prefer to, or will only, accept manuscript submissions from agents, so your chances of being accepted by a larger publishing house are much better with an agent. However, with a smaller publishing house, an agent will likely be of little to no use for you.

Pros: You will have someone other than yourself championing your manuscript. The agent has contacts within the publishing industry they will use to your advantage. The agent can get you a better deal than you might be able to get yourself, and some will offer their advice with the contract process.

Cons: The process of finding an agent, then having that agent find a publisher who wants your manuscript can be a long and frustrating one. A part of your revenue will go to the agent. An agent accepting your manuscript, does not guarantee that a publisher will.

  1. Find a Publisher

Publishers are selective. Depending on their size, they have a certain number of books they put out each year and they usually have certain genres or types of books they specialize in. When looking for a publisher, it’s important to consider only those that would be interested in your manuscript, as in ones where your book will fit. A publishing house is essentially a team of professionals that exist to find books they can bring to market and sell. The publisher will handle all aspects of getting your book from manuscript to finished product, including but not limited to: editing, cover design, layout, e-book production, printing, distribution, and marketing. You will still be expected to promote yourself and your book to help it sell, but you will have what support the publisher can offer throughout the entire process.

Pros: You will have a team of professionals behind every aspect of the production and sale of your book. You will have the reputation of the publisher behind you. The publisher access to distribution to get your books to the market. You do not have to pay for any part of production.

Cons: Your contract with the publisher will determine what royalties you are entitled to. You may have less creative control over the final product. The publisher’s schedule decides the release date of your book.

So there you have it. Which option is right for you? Well, that’s a decision only you can make. Even though I’m a small publisher myself, I hope I’ve given you an unbiased view into your publishing options.

 

Ps. As a reminder, our submissions open October 24th! You can find our submission guidelines on our website: www.mirrorworldpublishing.com/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/

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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!

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.