Resources for Writers

I’ve recently been coming across a few great writer’s resources, so I thought I would share.

Where to Pitch

If you’re a freelancer trying to find the right magazine(s) and other publications to pitch, this site is easy to use and has a ton of suggestions based on either general topics — for example, type in “travel” and 70+ suggestions come up — or by magazine/publication title for similar titles.

Learning and Resources

The other main option I’d like to share is not a single resource, but a collection of the 100 best resources for writers in 2018. They’ve got everything from blogging tips and information, creativity and crafting tips, how-tos, editing, and freelancing information, as well as some other topics that may come in handy for your particular writing style or genre/type.

Keeping it Fun

The last resource I’d like to offer is more a piece on the importance of keeping writing fun rather than a typical resource. Part of why we do writing is because we love it. Part of why we want to write for a living is because we’re not created like desk jockeys who can deal with a typical 9-to-5 job. So, keeping that work fun is criticual for keeping that job a not-work-job that we still love five years down the road.

 

computer-keyboard-1426478

Image credit: Fabien Djabar

 

 

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Finding the Right Consequences as a Writer With Goals

My husband and I formed a writer’s group with some fellow writers in our area. We meet monthly to discuss our writing issues, goals, and to give criticism of projects we’ve submitted for critique.

But all of us have admitted to a similar issue: the discipline to sit down and do our non-job related writing on a daily basis.

We each have started various writing projects, but never completed some of them. Even things as simple as a short article might never be finished, or a short story for a contest or call for submissions may not be finished by the deadline.

So, we asked: what can we do to fix this issue? How can we be accountable for our writing?

We’ve created consequences that actually motivate us not to miss our mark each week at the weekly check-in via email.

We set up a variety of rules to help keep us in check and to keep things reasonable. For example, we must all check in with each other by 10pm every Saturday, giving new writing goals for the week, and all updates from the previous week’s goals.

We each then have until 10pm Sunday night to respond with any questions, need for clarification, etc. from the emails sent the previous day.

hand-writing-note

And, finally, whoever is the “least” writer for the week is required to do a dreaded task: write in the unfavorable genre of choice for 10 minutes, as given by the leader of the pack.

For example, if I were the “least” writer for the week, and my husband was the leader, he would have to choose between the five genres I told him I most would hate to read or write, and I must spend a minimum of 10 minutes writing that genre. I have one week to finish the assignment and must submit it with my update the next Saturday.

This has been a cost-free, highly effective motivation for all of us thus far. We’re still working out the kinks, but let me tell you: I do not want to write Glee fanfic for even a minute, let alone ten.

If you’re part of a writer’s group, even one that cannot meet in person, you could try something along these lines to help you stay motivated to write every day. Or, if you’re isolated in your writing, give your best friend or spouse a list of the five genres you most hate and ask that person to assign your consequence any week you miss the mark.

Just be realistic in your goal setting, and create a realistic list of valid excuses for yourself. Being in the hospital, have another type of medical or legal emergency or anything along those lines should give you a pass on the days not affected. But don’t go soft on yourself, either, and claim your sprained ankle that kept you from running also kept you from sitting on your butt writing your memoir.

5 Writing Tools for Inspiration

Today I thought I would share 5 tools that I use for inspiration when I’m feeling a little blocked.

  1. Story Cubes–these little guys have images on them, and are shaped like dice. You toss them, and take the images from them to craft a tale.
  2. Pinterest–I go searching for the term “writing prompt” and discover ideas this way.
  3. Dictionary.com–I simply open the site and look for the word of the day (which should be at the top of the home screen). I use this word to write a scene.
  4. Flickr.com–Going to the front page for Flickr will bring up new photos I haven’t seen before. These images are the prompt–either a combination of 5 or 6 images, and a solo image can be the prompt for writing a piece.
  5. On this Day–there are many apps and sites out there that will give you a recap of the world’s history, based upon today’s calendar date. I can use any of these facts from the day’s “on this day” bit to prompt and write a short story or article.

What are some of the tools you use to induce creativity?

Writer’s Resource: Write or Die

Last night during our writer’s group, this site came up. I thought I should share it, for any fellow writers out there who haven’t seen it.

Write or Die

A site that times you as you write–giving sound-byte rewards for completing a set period of time writing, or punishments if you stop writing during that pre-set time. Maybe some good prep for NaNoWriMo. Or, depending on exactly how the updated version of this works, great for NaNoWriMo. Check it out beforehand. See if it’s effective for you. Use it if it is!

12 Tips for Scheduling Your Writing Time for NaNoWriMo

I’ve had many people ask how I can make time to write NaNoWriMo every year. I’ve had another friend tell me, “Not this year, but next year. It will be less crazy. Then I can do it.”

All of you heard that excuse she gave. You know that friend won’t get around to NaNoWriMo next year, either, unless something in her attitude changes. November is always a crazy month, in a crazy season, leading up to an even crazier season. That’s just how it is.

So, how does one schedule around this craziness called life, and, you know, work and earning a living and things?

It’s both extremely easy, and exponentially difficult at once–and it all comes down to decision and commitment, and a few simple steps.

NaNoWriMo “schedules” you to write 1,667 words per day to reach that 50,000 word count goal within the 30 days of November. But here are my tips on how to actually reach that goal.

  1. Aim for higher than 1,667 words per day. This not only gets more words in, but also gives “make up word counts” for days on which you cannot fulfill the minimum words.
  2. Set a higher goal than merely 50,000 words–why? Because then if you don’t make that 75,000 word goal, you’re still more likely to have reached 50,000 words.
  3. KEY: set side 1 hour per day, minimum, every single day of NaNoWriMo, for writing.
  4. Set everything up for your writing nook before November 1.
  5. KEEP YOUR WRITING NOOK ORGANIZED.
  6. If at all possible, have that writing nook separate from your normal work or play space–set up just for the month of November. This helps with keeping it organized and ready each day for writing.
  7. Write at any free moment you have. 10 minutes waiting in a doctor’s office? Bring your laptop with you, or download an app that will let you write. Dump it to your computer that night.
  8. Bulk up on your writing “supplies” before November 1. Need tea to keep you going? Buy it in advance. Need pens because you’re old-fashioned and do it all by hand? Have enough around that you don’t have to shop for them (or any other supplies) during November.
  9. Tell your family, roommates and/or friends that every night from 8-10pm (or whatever your writing time is), you are unavailable for phone calls, emails, texting, Words with Friends or any other thing that takes you away from writing. You are WRITING, and only emergencies will be observed. (And only things like uncontrolled bleeding, massive vomiting and anything bordering on death constitutes emergencies.)
  10. Set an alarm or other reminder that goes off each day (with advance warnings, if possible) to remind you to get started on your writing.
  11. Set an alarm to end that scheduled time. This keeps you on schedule. You’re busy, we get that–so respect your own time.
  12. Write away from the internet as much as possible. This helps to minimize distractions. (My husband uses a word processor for NaNoWriTing–no internet access at all possible!)

Every year that I’ve done these things, I’ve more than written 50,000 words in 30 days or less.

Time to Hunker Down

Liger

Hercules – Largest Liger
Guinness World Records 2012
Photo Credit: Jamers Ellerker/GuinnessWorld Records
Location: Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, USA

People ask how I’ve written, edited and published books/projects in short time-spans in the past.  The answer is: focus.

How each of us focuses is going to be different.  For some, that focus comes through forcing oneself to sit down everyday with a goal, not “allowing” themselves to get up until that goal is reached.  For others, that focus comes through getting alone in a quiet atmosphere with nothing but a computer, warm yellow lamp, scented candles and a goal.  Yet others must sit with earphones, a cup of tea and an hourly goal before getting up for a break.

I’m a mixed writing animal.  Kind of like a liger, I guess.  I take elements from visual learners, linear thinkers and caffeine amped-up college students, and fitness freaks.  Combined with my own special breed of…me.

And it’s time to hunker down and get focused.  For me, that means the following:

  • Stop watching t.v./movies
  • Focus the playlist to the type of music my fictional band would produce
  • Light up the Christmas lights and candles (ambiance makes all the difference for me)
  • Heat up the teapot
  • Pull out the dumbbells
  • Stay off of Facebook
  • Take breaks from writing with music books
  • Take breaks from writing with my guitar
  • Re-read the prior 3 chapters to the current one
  • Daily re-read the song list of my fictional band
  • Regularly review the “to do” list for the book (things to add or change as the book is revised)

Many of these things have exceptions (such t.v./movies–if they are in the right era or mood of the book I’m writing, that’s a perfectly relaxation activity for a break between writing stints), but for the most part, I have to stick to this list if I want to finish my book completely by my May 17 publication date.

How do you focus for your writing projects?

Manuscript for "Nobody's Girl"

Manuscript for “Nobody’s Girl”

 

Since I have finished NaNoWriMo, it’s time to get to back to the book I’m still intending to be ready for publication this year…  Thought I’d share my basic steps for it now.  I’ll expand on the stages as I go through them with the book I’m editing now.  It’s the process I used to edit my book last year, and it worked well.  So, here we go!

  1. Rough draft
  2. Initial read-through
  3. Highlight modifiers and dialogue
  4. Cut out as many modifiers as necessary
  5. Break up into scenes
  6. Read each scene independently–asking “does this move the story forward”?, “is this scene complete as is?”, “is this scene well written,” etc.
  7. Remove unnecessary scenes
  8. Add missing information/scenes
  9. Second read through
  10. Build dialogue/internalization from narrated stuff
  11. Third read through
  12. Fourth read through
  13. Submit to proof-readers
  14. Fifth read through
  15. Take comments from readers and edit as needed
  16. My own proof-reading
  17. Final read through aloud with corrections