Novel Writing

The Benefits of Writing in the Morning

Most writers don’t have the luxury (yet) to write as their day jobs, and some, like me, wouldn’t want to. As an extrovert, I need to see and speak to people for most of the day, so a full-time writer’s life would kill me. Part-time writing comes with its challenges, namely, finding the time to write!

One solution to this problem is to either wake up early or go to bed late. As someone who starts falling asleep on the sofa at 10 pm, I am not a good candidate for late nights. Early mornings, however, I can handle.

Here are the top reasons I love to write before my day begins – 

Peace and Quiet – Does anyone else love the sense of peace that morning holds? I live by the sea and it’s a wonderful place to be in the morning. The fresh sea breeze and seagulls are somehow different in the morning before most human’s wake up. There is space to breathe.

A Clear Head – I’m sure I’m not the only one who tries to cram too much into my brain in one day. As an administrator I am adept at multi-tasking, however, it does leave a hangover of sorts in my head. In the mornings my brain is clear and that helps my writing.

Coffee – Coffee is writing fuel, the petrol to an authors engine. At least that’s the case for me, I write best when I can guzzle caffeine until my heart’s content and not worry about sleeping later on.

The sense of Achievement before the day begins – How wonderful does it feel to have ticked something off your to-do list before your work day even begins? Those who run in the mornings know this feeling well. It works in the exact same way for writers.

Evenings free for Friends and Family – Family time is precious, and I would hate to lock myself away every evening. Although I lose out on sleep or perhaps go to bed earlier than others, at least my family feel they have my full attention in the evenings.

I would love to find out if you agree or to hear from a night owl. All comments are so very welcome. 

 

 

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NaNoWriMo · Novel Writing

July 2017 – Camp NaNoWriMo

It is precisely a month until Camp NaNoWriMo July 2017. The fear and excitement are starting to kick in. Are you ready? Is anyone else gearing themselves up for the rollercoaster ride of late nights, early mornings and word counts?

I failed NaNoWriMo in November 2016 (you can read all about it here) because I grievously underestimated the dedication required. No experience is a wasted experience, however, and I learnt some valuable lessons that stuck with me. Here are a few I thought I’d share with you all.

Schedule Time to Write

Do not imagine that the joy of writing will push you through to reach your word count. You need to set aside dedicated time to write and stick to it. Writing 50,000 words in a month is TOUGH, you need to grit your teeth, make a plan and stick to it.

Use the 10x Rule

In his recent book The 10x Rule, Grant Cardone explains how success comes from putting in 10x the effort you would expect to put in to get average results. Now, I’m not expecting you to write 500,000 words, that would be ridiculous. We can apply a similar principle, however, and aim for a higher word count than we need.

To succeed at NaNoWriMo, you need to average a word count of 1667 a day. In light of the 10x rule, we could aim to hit 2,000 words a day. That way, when we miss our target, which we will, we are still on track to hit the word count.

Plan Ahead

One of the reasons I failed NaNoWriMo is because I didn’t have a robust outline, which I need in order to write a lot each day. Some people are pansters, and oh, how I envy them. Most of us, however, need to spend time thinking and planning about our scenes before we write them. For advice on planning out detailed scenes, this is a helpful article.

Be kind to yourself

Don’t worry if you don’t hit the goal. Although the words “winning” and “losing” are often used when talking about NaNoWriMo, if you think about it, we are all winners. If you “fail” then you’ve still written a large number of words, learnt about your writing process and have moved your WIP forward. Even a failed NaNoWriMo is actually a win!

 

 

Autocrit · Novel Writing

Game Changing Writing Advice: Sentence Starters

A while ago I wrote a post asking you lovely bloggers for advice on how to stop using He, She, Character Name as sentence starters. I am so overwhelmed by the level of guidance and support I received from that post. To check out all the incredibly helpful comments click here

As promised, I’ve collated the information and have put together a brief list of the advice I received. These tips are game changers.

Use Deep POV – Anna Kaling Author

One sure way to avoid using too many pronouns is to write from a deep point of view. Rather than acting as a distant narrator, write as if you are feeling and seeing through the eyes and body of your character. Here is the brilliant example of this used by Anna Kaling in my comments section –

Shallow POV:

Jane listened to Andrew drone on about his day and wondered when she’d stopped loving him. She watched clouds float across her coffee as she stirred it. She hoped she didn’t look as bored as she felt.

Deep POV:

Andrew droned on about his day. When had she stopped loving him? Clouds floated across her coffee as she stirred it. Hopefully, she didn’t look as bored as she felt.

Start with -ing words (but not too often) – John

Another way to avoid starting with your character name or pronoun is to use an -ing word to describe what they are doing. A lot of you gave this as a handy technique, but there seems to be some controversy over this too. Make sure you don’t start with a verb too often because it can annoy the reader.

Cause and Effect – Fab Writings

Here is a brilliantly simple trick. Start with a cause and write the effect it has on your character. Here is the example Fab Writings gives in the comment –

Effect + cause = She sprang from the sofa, upon seeing a cockroach.
Cause + effect = The moment she saw a cockroach, she sprang from the sofa.

Start with an adverb – Brian Bixby

I’m a firm believer that adverbs should be sprinkled throughout your novel with caution and as a last resort. However, when you do choose to use them, why not start with an adverb at the beginning of your sentence and add some variety to your sentence starters?

Do not worry about this in your first draft – Jonah Bergan

Although it is good to be conscious of your common writing pitfalls when writing your first draft, it’s not something you should get bogged down with. Don’t go back and edit during your first draft. Write, write, write and edit later!

Autocrit advice – Robert Batton

Autocrit, which I have reviewed here, is a great tool. They also broach this subject in an article shared with me, VIA Robert. Have a look, it’s helpful.

The root of the problem – Yennaedo Balloo

Hints and guidance are fantastic, but sometimes the most helpful advice is to be shown why you struggle with a particular aspect of writing. If you start with too many pronouns, it is likely that you have a bais towards focusing on your characters and not other aspects of a novel, such as setting, description and action. If you find you are often starting sentences with pronouns, have a look at your work and see if you are neglecting description and setting.

This is the beauty of blogging, collective wisdom is so valuable! I hope it helps you as much as it helped me.

Novel Writing

One Simple Way to Increase Writing Productivity (but you probably won’t like it)

If I told you there was a magic pill that increased your concentration, sparked the imagine and improved perseverance, would you take it? I bet you’d do it, I certainly would!

What if I told you that exercise could do all those things for you? I can hear your groans, and feel your annoyance. Irritating isn’t it? 

Most of us would rather not need to exercise. We’d rather eat what we want and have the perfect, slender, magazine ready body, without having to slip on our trainers. What a wonderful world that would be. The sad fact is that to keep our bodies healthy we need to exercise. It’s a non-negotiable (trust me I tried to negotiate my way out of it for years).

I never loved exercise, couldn’t catch without shutting my eyes and was hopeless at running. I hid in the shower room during PE. However, after avoiding exercise until the age of twenty-four, I was diagnosed with a chronic illness where the primary treatment was exercise. Every time I stood up the room span, and I almost fainted. The only option for me was to start exercising lying down until I grew strong enough to stand and exercise without fatigue. It was hellish, to begin with, but now I am the fittest I have ever been and have found whole hosts of benefits I would like to share with you. (Also my condition is completely managed, and I can live normally again – Hooray!)

Exercise increases your energy levels – It’s counter-intuitive isn’t it? I previously assumed that since you expend energy during exercise, that you are tired out from it. While that is true in the short-term, in the long run, you are more energetic. Early mornings are easier (potentially late nights for others). Finding time to write gets easier if you have more energy.

Exercise improves your sleep quality – Perhaps one of the reasons you have more energy is that you sleep better. Tiring out the body helps sleep and sleep produces a clearer mind. Hello clarity, nice to meet you, please come and assist me in my writing.

Exercise allows imagination to flow – When you are peddling away on an exercise bike or stomping your way on the treadmill your body is occupied, but your brain can wander. You are a captive audience. You can’t remember that urgent chore and go away and do it. You can’t phone that friend you’ve forgotten to contact. Your mind can soar into the realms of creativity and imagination, and your practical body is occupied – it can’t drag you away.

Exercise gives you confidence – I’m actually not talking about body confidence here, but confidence in your own mental strength. There is something incredibly satisfying in achieving something you never thought you could. It takes dedication, commitment, and, let’s be honest, pain to get physically fit. We need all those things in writing, and the skills learnt in exercise do translate over.

Exercise prevents “Writers Neck” – Is it writers neck or back for you? I get neck pain when I type for too long. Exercise keeps our backs healthy (especially pilates) which is a real bonus for those of us who write for extended periods of time. The pain may be manageable now, but we want to write long-term, don’t we? Exercise is one way to secure our future as writers.

The most important thing I would like to say is that this post is not meant to guilt trip anyone. I would hate for anyone to read this and leave feeling condemned because they don’t want to exercise. You be you, and what works for me may not work for you. There may be some out there, however, who are missing something and may want to give exercise a try. 

I would love to hear from you in the comments section whether you agree or disagree. I love a good discussion!

Novel Writing

Creative Writing Secrets from Professional Writers

This post is brilliant, funny, knowledgeable and welll worth a read!

15th & Oxford

Any professional author will tell you, there’s no trick to good creative writing but rather a battle between the brain and the soul. Still, that hasn’t stopped many famous writers from sharing a tip or two for the aspiring wordsmith.

Check out some of our favorite writing tips from authors throughout history…

1)


mark_twain“Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.”
-Mark Twain

Mark Twain was clearly not a fan of the word “very,” but for good reason. There’s almost always a better word to use than simply putting very. For example, instead of a very beautiful sunset, perhaps it was a magnificent.

2)


Robert Frost“No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.”
-Robert Frost

The famed poet Robert Frost left us with…

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Novel Writing

How Not To Write… A Novel

This is a brilliant post about how to write a novel – I found it very encouraging and I hope you do too.

How Not To Writte

They say everyone has a book inside them (and we don’t mean in the ’embarrassing visit to A&E’ sense). We all have a story to tell, a journey to share or an idea that sounds like it could be worked into a passable novel.

But if you’ve just come up with the best idea ever for a chick lit flicker – featuring the forbidden love between a chocolate company owner and his down-at-heel cleaning lady – how do you get this blockbusting idea out of your head and into 100,000 words or tear-enducing literary prose?

Do:

  • Commit to writing, a LOT, and then some, and then some more, again… and wash, and repeat.
  • Learn the basics of editing skills. You don’t need swish software but you DO need patience and – in our opinion – rewards for getting your edits done. Chocolate works well (Ed: there’s a theme emerging here……

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Novel Writing

5 Tips for New Writers

So, you’ve decided to write a novel. You have your story burning a hole in your chest, and you can’t wait to get it down on paper. Setting the pen to the notepad, or the fingers to the keys, you set off with speed and passion. Before long, however, you find that this isn’t as easy as you thought it would be. Shame fills you as you realise that you aren’t nearly as good as you hoped you would be. Don’t worry, it happened to me, and it happens to us all. 

Here are a few tips I have picked up from my first ten months or so of writing, I hope they help. Keep going, you’ve got this.

Read as much as you can

The chances are, that if you want to write a book, you love to read. The temptation to stop reading when you are writing is immense. You may find yourself comparing yourself to others and feeling inadequate, or you may even analyse technique so much that you lose the magic of getting lost in a story.

Don’t do this! Read for pleasure and forget about writing. You will absorb technique and form subconsciously so don’t stress about analysing things too deeply. Enjoy reading, and keep doing it. N.B. this is a tip which Stephen King gives in his fantastic book “On Writing”.

Experiment

Don’t panic about getting everything right. You will make mistakes. Big ones. Just write, keep writing, and make mistakes as you go. If you wait until you feel you are getting everything right before beginning your first draft you will NEVER begin.

Have some fun, forget about grammar (until you come to edit), forget what’s good and bad practice and just let the words flow. Let the crazy in your mind come out and run with it.

Change things up

If you start something and halfway through you realise that you’ve written it in the wrong tense, or your main character isn’t working, stop. Just stop and restart. There is no shame in leaving a pile of unfinished drafts behind you or rewriting a story ten times before you actually decide how it ends.

You will learn so much in your first few months writing, as I have done. You will find you’ve been making huge mistakes all the way through. Wisdom says to go back and change things.

Let your imagination go wild

Play with your characters, put them in the most dramatic and unlikely scenarios, just for fun. I’m not saying this will make an excellent book, although perhaps it would, but it will spark a passion in you for pushing boundaries. Who knows? Maybe the next great idea for a novel comes out of letting your imagination run free. Be silly, have fun, and enjoy yourself.

Be bold

Don’t be afraid to write what you mean. The best writing is not timid, it is deliberate. Don’t say “James opened the door angrily and shouted” when you could say “James wrenched the door open and bellowed.” Don’t say “He replied sadly” when you could say “His lip started to tremble as he answered, and a tear slid down his cheek.”. When you are bold, you use forceful verbs instead of adverbs, and you describe the physical traits emotion rather than just telling us it is there. This technique makes for excellent prose.

These are my own, humble, opinions, and I’m sure others will have many more tips and advice. I would love to hear from anyone else who would like to impart some wisdom, I am always on the hunt for it!