Tag Archives: writing tips

My Writing Process

Lately more and more people have been asking me about my writing process. This interest probably stems from my comments about editing. Friends, family, and sometimes even strangers are intrigued. They want to peek inside my brain to see what writing is like for me. It’s crazy.

I’m simultaneously puzzled and flattered by the curiosity. Let’s be frank: I’m nothing close to Stephen King. No matter how small-time I feel, I’m happy to oblige. Whether I’m writing a blog post, a short story, or a novel, this is basically my writing process.

1. Inspiration. The madness starts when an idea falls into my head, seemingly from out of nowhere. Sadly there isn’t an Idea Store. Whenever an idea comes to me, I record it and work on fleshing it out. Fun fact: I don’t outline.

2. First draft. I get this sucker down as fast as I can. When it comes to first drafts, it’s okay write crap. Even if I feel like what I’m writing is abysmal, I focus on getting it down somewhere. You can fix a bad page; you can’t fix a blank one. I can write the first draft of a blog post in half an hour, a shorty story in an hour, and a novel in six weeks.

3. Cooling off. I don’t have much of a cooling off period for blog posts. For short stories, I tend to wait about a day before diving into revision. For novels, I can take anywhere from one to three months. I like to distance myself from the material. The more objectivity I can approach it with, the better.

4. Read through and notes. This part is painful. By this point I’ve forgotten how awful my first draft is and am not looking forward to reminding myself. Once I’ve printed my work out or exported it to my Kindle (so I’m not tempted to edit as I read), I go through it in one sitting and make note of what needs fixing.

5. Second draft. Armed with my notes and a plan of attack, I dive headfirst into revision. Sometimes this means minor changes. More often than not, it means a nearly complete rewrite. The YA novel I’m editing at the moment is the latter. It’s a struggle.

6. Rinse and repeat. Keep going until you can’t edit anymore. When it’s finished, you’ll know. Reward yourself for your hard work and work on publication!

The time it takes me to complete a project may vary, but on the whole, this is my general writing process. Feel free to try out my system for yourself. Remember, however, that the ideal writing process is whichever one works best for you.

What’s your writing process like? What are you currently working on?

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How to Increase Your Writing Speed

Speedometer

When it comes to drafting, some writers feel that slower is better. I’m not one of them. The key to finishing first drafts is to get everything down. Deliberation will only hurt you when it comes to drafting and should be saved for revision. Want to finish your project? You need to write faster. Want to write faster? I can give you some advice. If you follow these tips, you should increase your writing speed in no time.

Write or Die. I’ve talked about this web app before. Ava Jae introduced me to it and now I’m in love. It changed my life. You enter your word count goal, set the timer, and write. If you get distracted, you’re in trouble. Let me know if you’d like me to share my settings with you.

Beat the clock. If Write or Die is too scary for you, set your own timer and race against the clock. Stick with something small–5,10, or 15 minutes should be plenty of time. You’ll be amazed what you can accomplish in such a short interval.

Writing sprints. Lately I’ve become a fan of writing sprints on Twitter. For a set amount of time (I like 15 minutes), you invite people to write with you. The goal is to write as much as you can in that time span. This technique is fun because you can get a lot done in a short amount of time. Also it’s great having other people there to hold you accountable. If writing sprints sound appealing to you, join in on the fun by following me on Twitter.

Outlines. Some people swear by outlines. I personally don’t like them. Do whatever works for you. Outlines can help you write faster by knowing what comes next. If you like planning, outlining can certainly help you increase your writing speed.

How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice. If you’re truly dedicated, the best way to increase your writing speed is to write every day. Write as much as you can whenever you can and you’ll be sure to see results.

You can write faster, I promise. All it takes is a few small changes. Try out these techniques and see what happens. You might surprise yourself with how fast you finish.

What do you think of these tips? Do you have any advice about how to increase your writing speed?

P.S. Pen vs. Paper: A Pros and Cons List and NaNoWriMo Tips

Don’t Quit Your Day Job: How to Balance Work and Writing

Man Walking a Tightrope in Front of the Sun

If you have a full-time job, chances are that you’re so worn out at the end of the day that you don’t feel much like working on your novel. You don’t have enough time or energy. You’ll never do it. You know what? That’s crazy. You can do it. Here’s how.

Try the Nifty 350

I just read an amazing post by author Chuck Wendig that recommends writing at least 350 words every day. That’s it. 350. How easy it that? No matter how busy or tired you are, I’m sure you can manage to write 350 words. Keep that momentum and you’ll have drafted a novel within a year. The best part? That’s with weekends off!

Utilize Pauses

Men Taking a Break from Work to Sit Outside and Smoke

If you feel pressed for time, look for pockets of rest scattered throughout the day. Waiting rooms, lines, bathrooms, and children’s dance recitals (joking) are excellent places to work on your story. Make sure you have a notebook or smartphone with you to capture thoughts on the go.

Stop Making Excuses

When it comes down to it, if you really want to write a novel, you’ll make it a priority. You’ll move heaven and earth to get those ideas down on paper. Trust me on this one.

Alter Your Routine

Sunrise Over the Ocean Waves and Beach

Can you wake up earlier or stay up later? You might have to change your schedule if you’re serious about writing. Figure out what time works best for you and set and alarm or have a cup of coffee. You can do it.

Stay Motivated

Whether it’s by tracking your progress or rewarding your work, find a way to keep your spirits up so you’ll keep writing. You’re less likely to lose interest if you’re properly motivated.

Writing a novel while holding down a job isn’t easy, but it can be done. If you have drive, passion, and flexibility, you can make it happen. Got more tips for balancing work and writing? Have an idea for a post? Leave a comment below.

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The Key to Finishing First Drafts

When it comes to finishing a first draft, the best way to succeed is to just get it written. Focus on getting the words on the page. In the words of author Anne Lamott: “The first draft is the child’s draft, where you let it all pour out and then let it romp all over the place, knowing no one is going to see it and that you can shape it later.” Seems simple, doesn’t it?

The Key to Finishing First Drafts

Many writers struggle to finish their first drafts because they’re focused on perfection. They believe other authors craft pristine first drafts that are shipped off for publication right away. Lamott continues, “I know some very great writers, writers you love who write beautifully and have made a great deal of money, and not one of them sits down feeling wildly enthusiastic and confident. Not one of them writes elegant first drafts.”

Here’s the secret: your first draft is going to be terrible. You’re going to feel like garbage if you read through what you’re writing. If you try to edit as you go along, you’ll only get discouraged.

Write as fast as you can. Pour your thoughts out on the paper without thought for what it sounds like. You can go through it later and fix everything. That’s what revision is for, after all.

When it comes to finishing first drafts, don’t get it right; get it written.

How do you keep yourself from editing as you go along? What are your tips for finishing first drafts?

Lovely Links 06.30.14 – 07.06.14

Photo credit: Berit Watkin on Flickr

Photo credit: Berit Watkin on Flickr

Happy July, everyone!

June felt like just a flash in the pan. Where did the time go?

Here are this month’s links:

You may have noticed that I’m giving you five more links than usual. From now on, I think I’m going to do ten! Isn’t that exciting?

What do you think of these links? What other articles or resources should I be aware of?

Tweet tweet:

Check out these lovely writing links via @thecollegenov. (Click to tweet)

Writing Quick Tips: How to Write Something Every Day

Photo credit: Jonathan Reyes on Flickr

Photo credit: Jonathan Reyes on Flickr

My last Quick Tips post was a hit, so I thought I’d try another.

Today’s tip has to do with writing something every day. I know I’ve mentioned the importance of daily writing several times before, but I’ll mention it again. Your writing will absolutely not improve unless you’re working at it every day.

With that in mind, however, sometimes it’s difficult to fit writing into our busy schedules. No matter how we try to carve out time to write, the day slips out from under us. We fall into bed without having written a single sentence.

Here’s the key to making sure you write something every day: Don’t go to bed until you’ve met your goal. Do not get under the covers or let your head hit the pillow until you are finished.

Let sleep serve as motivation to get through your session. You may be sleep-deprived, but you will do the work.

What do you think of this tip? What others would you like to see?

Tweet tweet:

Writer @thecollegenov has a quick tip to help you write something every single day. (Click to tweet)

Between vs. Among

Photo credit: Gwydion M. Williams on Flickr

Photo credit: Gwydion M. Williams on Flickr

I haven’t talked much about English grammar rules on this blog. It’s time for that to change,

As writers, good knowledge of grammar can only help you in your writing projects. I always assume that everyone has the same grasp of basic grammar rules as I do, but you know what they say about assuming things.

When I was in high school, a woman named Mrs. Landreth taught me everything I know about grammar. In fact, I still refer to the notebook I kept in her class. Not everyone has a Mrs. Landreth. I guess that’s where I come in.

One of the easiest grammar lessons I can teach you is the difference between (ha) the words between and among.

You should use the word between when referring to two subjects. For instance: Mr. Brown lives between Mr. Pink and Mrs. Gray.

In contrast, you should use the word among when three or more different subjects are concerned. For example: “Always shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”

Pretty simple, right?

What do you think of this little grammar lesson? What other grammar questions would you like to see answered?

Tweet tweet:

When should you use “between”? What about “among”? Writer @thecollegenov has the answer. (Click to tweet)