A Few, Good Writing Tips to Keep You on Your Toes

good writing tips

A few good writing tips to keep you on your toes

Have you ever gotten stuck in a writing project, and just when your frustration reached its peak, you heard some bit of sage advice that helped you see how to move forward?

There aren’t many writing problems that a few good writing tips can’t solve. Whether you need to develop your voice or use fewer clichés, quick tips can contain exactly the wisdom you need.

I keep a file of quotes by authors so that I can refer to their expertise when I need it. I also have several books, notebooks, and other documents filled with writing tips and techniques, and I like to review these every so often to see what I need to bring into my own work. In many cases, these tips are just quick reminders of all the lessons I’ve learned before. Read more

A Selection of Poetry Prompts from 1200 Creative Writing Prompts

poetry prompts

Poetry Prompts from 1200 Creative Writing Prompts.

Today’s poetry prompts come from my book, 1200 Creative Writing Prompts, which is jam-packed with ideas and inspiration for writers and includes prompts for fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction.

Some of the poetry prompts in the book ask you to use a list of specific words in a poem. Some give you a topic to write about. Some ask you to draw on your life experience. Some give you images to use as inspiration for a poem.

All of the prompts are designed to spark ideas and inspire you to write. And you don’t have to use the prompts to write poems. Use a prompt to write an essay or a blog post. If you get a prompt that contains a list of words but one of the words isn’t working in your poem, delete it from the list. If one of the images give you an idea for a story, write a story. Use the prompts in whatever way you see fit. Read more

How to Come Up With Writing Ideas When Your Muse is on Vacation

writing ideas

Is your muse on vacation? Get your writing ideas here!

Have you ever sat down to start a new writing project and then realized an hour later you were still sitting there, staring idly at the blank page?

Sometimes writing ideas don’t come easy.

In a writer’s ideal world, the blank page is something we always look forward to, a fresh canvas that we can color with ideas and texture with language. When our muse is dancing around, we feel motivated and inspired, so that blank page feels like the start of an exciting adventure.

But if our mind isn’t in the right place, if our muse is on vacation, that same page is nothing but a source of frustration.

When I became a professional copywriter, I had to learn how to write whether the muse was present or not. You know how muses are, fleeting little hooligans. I couldn’t rely on mine all the time. So I learned how to get along without her. That meant coming up with my own creative writing ideas. Read more

From 101 Creative Writing Exercises: Report It

101 creative writing exercises - Report It

“Report It” from 101 Creative Writing Exercises.

Today, I’m sharing an excerpt from my book, 101 Creative Writing Exercises. It’s packed with writing exercises to help you explore all forms of creative writing: fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction. The book is designed to inspire you while imparting useful writing techniques that are fun and practical.

This exercise comes from “Chapter Two: It’s Personal.” The writing exercises in this chapter focus on writing of a personal nature: memoir, journal writing, and personal essays.

I chose this exercise because it’s challenging and fun. It asks you to look at your own life from a fresh perspective and make yourself the subject of a news report.

Give it a try! Then come back and tell us what you learned and how this exercise worked for you. Read more

Best. Thing. Ever.

This is quite possibly the best thing ever. Enjoy!

Thanks to “Weird Al” Yankovic, we writers now have our very own anthem. Read more

The Amazing, Incredible Writing Community

writing community

The writing community rocks!

Today I’d like to share an excerpt from my book 10 Core Practices for Better Writing.

This excerpt is from “Chapter Ten: Community, Industry, and Audience,” which explains the benefits and importance of networking with the writing community as well as studying the industry and developing a reading audience. The chapter includes tips, too!

“All that I hope to say in books, all that I ever hope to say, is that I love the world.” — E.B. White

Writers are notorious for spending hours in solitude, bent over our keyboards, laboring over prose and poetry. And when we’re not absorbed in our own writing, Read more

Five Good Grammar Habits Every Writer Should Adopt

good grammar

Do you have good grammar habits?

Can you imagine a nutritionist who eats exclusively at fast food restaurants? A personal trainer who never exercises? A writer who can’t be bothered with grammar, spelling, and punctuation?

In most professions, best practices and tools of the trade are mandatory. If you want to be a doctor, you have to have a PhD. If you want to land a job in accounting, you need math skills. But writers can easily finagle around best writing practices, especially with the increasing accessibility of self-publishing.

Basic grammar skills used to be mandatory–not just for writers but for all high school graduates. These days, you can get out of college with a degree but no clue how to properly structure a sentence or differentiate between they’re, their, and there.

I’ve lamented about the fact that grammar is absent from education. But I’m even more saddened by the absence of good grammar among self-proclaimed writers. Read more

Creative Writing: Is It Fun or Is It Work?

Is creative writing a lot of fun, a lot of work, or both?

Creative writing belongs to the arts, and the arts are an odd bunch.

People pursue artistic endeavors for  different reasons. For some, it’s a hobby. For others, a livelihood. For most, it’s a hobby they dream of turning into a livelihood.

It’s a worthwhile dream and a lofty one too. But what does it take to get there? How much fun are you allowed to have, and just how much work must you do to turn your passion into a full-time job?

And if you do manage to make a career out of creative writing, will it still be as fun as it was when it was just a hobby? Read more

10 Tips for Writing a Book

tips for writing a book

Tips for writing a book

Writing a book is a big deal. It takes a lot of time and effort, especially if you want to do it right, which means creating something that people will find entertaining or useful and then polishing, marketing, and promoting it.

It all begins with an idea. A concept. It might start with a few characters or an intriguing plot you’ve dreamed up. It might start with an audience you want to write for or a topic you want to explore.

Many writers start writing as soon as an idea strikes. This approach works for some people, but for most of us, it’s a road to nowhere. If we attempt to write a book every time we get a good idea, we constantly leave previous ideas half finished. If we don’t stop to think about whether the idea is viable, we may get in over our heads or write a book that’s unpublishable or unsalable due to market saturation or lack of interest. Read more

Writing Resources: Stephen King On Writing

on writing

Stephen King: On Writing

Elvis is the king of rock and roll. Michael Jackson is the king of pop. And Stephen King is the king of horror.

He is one of the most successful authors in the world, the recipient of numerous honorable awards, and certainly one of the wealthiest and most recognizable writers alive.

While I’m not all that crazy about horror stories, I do appreciate the creativity and artistic merit that goes into writing good horror fiction. Maybe the fact that I’m bonkers over sci-fi and fantasy will redeem me. Maybe Stephen King will forgive me.

I have read a few of King’s books and enjoyed them, mostly those that fall just outside of horror: The Stand, Hearts in Atlantis, and The Gunslinger. I loved the movie Stand by Me based on his short story “The Body” and the film adaptations of The Green Mile and Misery.

According to Wikipedia: “King has published fifty novels, including seven under the pen name Richard Bachman, and five non-fiction books. He has written nearly two hundred short stories, most of which have been collected in nine collections of short fiction.”

I have great respect for Stephen King. I may not love horror stories, but I do love good writing and excellent storytelling. With all his experience, success, talent, and craftsmanship, I can’t think of a better mentor for writers than Stephen King. Read more

How to Write a Query Letter for a Literary Agent in Traditional Publishing

How to write a query letter

How to write a query letter.

You’re in the process of writing a book, and you’ve decided to try to get it traditionally published.

Most publishing houses won’t work directly with authors, so in order to get your book traditionally published, you need to get a literary agent to represent you.

Your agent’s job is to get your book in front of editors and negotiate your book deal as well as any other rights (foreign, film, etc.).

The first step landing an agent is to write your book (if you’re writing nonfiction, you would write a detailed book proposal). The next step is to compile a list of literary agents whom you may want to work with.

Once you’ve gathered a list of agents to contact, you can start working on your query letter. Read more

Fiction Writing Prompts for the Young Adult (YA) Genre

ya fiction writing prompts

Fiction writing prompts: young adult.

Young adult literature is one of the most exciting genres in fiction. Young people are bright, bold, and open-minded. More importantly, they are going to shape the future. What they read matters.

Young adult books like To Kill a Mockingbird, The Outsiders, and Lord of the Flies tell entertaining stories populated with compelling characters, but these stories also highlight important social questions and issues.

Stories like Catcher in the Rye inspire introspection, and books like The Hunger Games force readers to consider the future of humanity.

And who can forget what is possibly the oldest and most famous young adult story in Western culture: Romeo and Juliet, the classic tale of two star-crossed lovers who are destined for tragedy?

When I was a teenager, my favorite movie was The Breakfast Club. To this day, I think it’s one of the most brilliant films ever made. People often mock me when I say that. How could a movie about a bunch of teenagers spending the day in detention be brilliant, or even important, for that matter? But the film is not just about a bunch of teenagers.

It’s about what it means to be human. It’s about how we are more alike than we are different. And it’s about how we treat each other. It’s about class and culture, the haves and the have-nots, and at its heart, it’s about personal growth and how our interactions with others shape who we become. And it’s a story for and about young adults. Read more