The Number One Secret to Successful Writing

secret to successful writing

The secret to successful writing.

Please welcome guest author Marcy McKay with her top secret for successful writing.

You finally muster the courage to let someone else read your work. A live human being, a person who is actually qualified to share his or her opinion on your writing (unlike your Great Aunt Edna who thinks everything you do is perfect).

This individual reads your piece and gives a vague response. “It’s good. I mean, I like it, but something is missing.”

It’s similar to when you try to duplicate that delicious pizza from your favorite restaurant on your own. It tastes okay, but something still seems off – just not quite right.

So, what’s that certain spice for your writing? The recipe for literary success? Read more

Are You a Stickler for Good Grammar?

good grammar

Are you a stickler for good grammar?

“I don’t like to end sentences with prepositions,” my friend said while we were discussing ways to restructure a sentence.

“But it’s fiction,” I told her, “In college, as a creative writing major, I was taught to learn the rules, and then break them.”

In this case, it sounded unnatural to write the sentence without ending it with a preposition. Following the rules too rigidly is especially problematic in dialogue. Nobody would say “To which store are you going?” No. We say, “Which store are you going to?”

Writers need to value good grammar, but sometimes it makes sense to break the rules. Read more

Writing Prompts for Music Lovers

creative writing prompts

These creative writing prompts might make you want to dance.

Some days, ideas don’t come easily.

You may find yourself staring at a blank screen or doodling in your notebook with nothing to write about.

You may find that you’d rather just listen to some music or go out dancing. Maybe you’d rather play your guitar, practice your singing, or go to a concert?

If you’re a writer and a music lover, then these creative writing prompts are perfect for you. They’ll infuse your words with musicality and make your writing rock. Read more

Do You Need a Creative Writing Degree to Succeed as a Writer?

creative writing degree

Do you need a creative writing degree?

Young and new writers often ask whether they need a creative writing degree in order to become an author or professional writer.

I’ve seen skilled and talented writers turn down opportunities or refuse to pursue their dreams because they feel their lack of a degree in creative writing means they don’t have the credibility necessary to a career in writing.

Meanwhile, plenty of writers with no education, minimal writing skills, and scant experience in reading are self-publishing, freelance writing, and offering copywriting services en masse. Read more

How to Make Time to Practice Writing Every Day

practice writing

Practice writing to become a true master of the craft.

By now, most of you have heard of the 10,000-hour rule, which was made famous in the book Outliers. The rule states that in order to become an expert at something, you need to put in 10,000 hours of practice.

In other words, a master writer has already spent 10,000 hours writing.

Working at it for 40 hours per week, it would take 250 weeks (or almost five years) to become an expert. If you can only spend half that time, or 20 hours per week, on your craft, it would take ten years to master. For people with busy lives and responsibilities (like full-time jobs and families to care for), it could take a couple of decades to master the craft of writing.

And why shouldn’t it? After all, an expert is someone who has put in the time to become proficient. And while some writers are born with talent, which gives them an advantage (maybe they only need 8,000 hours of practice to become an expert), even the most talented among us must practice writing in order to become true wizards of word craft. Read more

How to Defeat Writer’s Block

writers block

Let’s diagnose and defeat writer’s block!

Wikipedia defines writer’s block as “a condition, primarily associated with writing as a profession, in which an author loses the ability to produce new work.”

However, I have come to believe that in most cases, writer’s block is a symptom, not a condition.

Before we can cure writer’s block, we have to diagnose it.

Writer’s block is almost always presented as some mysterious disease. A writer sits down to work and nothing happens. The ideas are gone. The words don’t come. It must be writer’s block!

At times, writers certainly lose their inspiration or face challenges that prevent them from working. I’m not saying we shouldn’t call this writer’s block. What I am saying is that in my experience, there’s usually some underlying cause, and it’s often something that’s easily remedied. Instead of blaming our inability to work on a vague condition, we can figure out what’s really preventing us from writing and fix the real problem.

Today, let’s dissect writer’s block and figure out what causes it. We’ll also explore some solutions for curing writer’s block, and I’ll share some writing tips that have helped me stay inspired. Read more

From 101 Creative Writing Exercises: Rock and Rhyme (Poetry)

101 creative writing exercises - Rock and Rhyme

From 101 Creative Writing Exercises: Rock and Rhyme Poetry.

Today’s post features an exercise from my book, 101 Creative Writing Exercises, which is filled with exercises for various forms of writing, including fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction. It will inspire you while imparting useful writing techniques that are fun and practical.

This exercise comes from “Chapter Eight: Free Verse.” The creative writing exercises in this chapter focus on free-form poetry writing.

I chose this exercise because it’s fun and inspiring. It asks you to use a song as a foundation for writing a poem. Many song lyrics are poems in their own right. This exercise focuses on rhyming, but it also shows you how to look at your writing’s musicality and encourages you to think about rhythm and meter in your work.

Give it a try, then come back and tell us what you learned. Feel free to share the poems or lyrics that you write from this exercise in the comments section. Read more

Seven Ways Your Physical Environment Can Help or Hinder Your Writing

writing environment

How is your writing environment?

Please welcome guest author Ali Luke with a post on making adjustments to your physical environment to help your writing.

Do you struggle to get into writing?

Perhaps you sit down with your favorite notebook on a regular basis, but you never seem to get far.

Your kids start arguing. Or you get a backache. Or you’re distracted by that neighbor doing yet another bout of DIY. Or an urgent email pops up for your attention.

External factors aren’t the only (or the biggest) distractions that affect our writing, but they make a surprising difference in our ability to be productive.

If you’re already struggling to focus, a few distractions and irritations can easily be enough to make you give up for the day.

Here are seven key factors that influence how well – or how wrong – your writing sessions go. Which of these could you tweak today? Read more

Writing Forward is Seven Years Old

writing forward turns seven years old

Writing Forward turns seven years old.

When I started Writing Forward seven years ago, I had no idea what to expect. As a writer and internet junkie, a blog seemed like a smart way to pursue two of my greatest passions. I had no idea where the journey would take me.

This website has helped me build a business, become an author, learn about the artistic and business aspects of writing, and most importantly, it has connected me with the writing community. Although at times the journey has been frustrating and exhausting, it has also been enlightening and invigorating.

Writing Forward may be my website but it wouldn’t be going strong today if it weren’t for the many readers and writers who have subscribed, commented, and shared the content via social media. I’m grateful to everyone who’s been a part of this amazing journey. Read more

Writing Resources: The Pocket Muse

the pocket muse

A handy little source of inspiration for writing

We writers can’t be inspired every day.

Sometimes we get burned out. Other times, we have ideas but they just don’t seem appealing at the moment when we sit down to write. Sometimes we need to take a break from a writing project and spend a little time on shorter projects, which can recharge our creativity. Other times, we’re just stuck in a writing slump.

That’s when keeping a little stockpile of writing ideas and inspiration inspiration is a good idea.

The Pocket Muse

I received my copy of The Pocket Muse as a gift a few years ago. Unfortunately, it sat on my bookshelf for far too long. But recently, I cracked it open and started perusing it. And I found it absolutely delightful. Read more

A Selection of Journal Prompts from 1200 Creative Writing Prompts

journal prompts

Journal prompts from 1200 Creative Writing Prompts.

Today’s journal prompts are taken from my book, 1200 Creative Writing Prompts, which is filled with inspiration for writers and includes prompts for writing fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction.

The journal prompts in the book are found in the creative nonfiction section. They urge you to think about your personal experiences, beliefs, and ideas and then write about them. Some of these prompts could be used to write personal essays. They might even inspire an idea for a memoir, a personal blog, or a weekly column.

All the journal prompts are designed to spark ideas for personal writing. If you get an idea that is different from the prompt, go with it. Change the prompts, combine them, and use them in whatever way you see fit. Read more

How to Prioritize Your Writing Ideas

writing ideas

Which of your writing ideas is leading the pack?

There are always too many writing ideas or not enough of them.

Some days, we writers are so overwhelmed with ideas, it’s impossible to get anything done. Should you work on your novel? That essay you’re writing for your favorite magazine? You have an original premise for a short story. And you feel a poem coming on.

Other days, we just can’t find any inspiration. Read more