Take Your Writing Seriously

take your writing seriously

Do you take your writing seriously?

Please welcome guest author Jack Woodville London, author of A Novel Approach (To Writing Your First Book).

“What I find hard about writing,” Nora Ephron said, “is the writing.”

There’s a difference between writing and typing. Writers produce. Typists reproduce. Okay, that’s a bit harsh. Writers believe that a story worth telling is worth telling well. Writers believe that a turn of phrase can invoke a vision, that the choice of exactly the right word will lead someone to think about something in a new light, will persuade, will entertain. Some writers are blessed with a combination of neurons, synapses, left brain cells (or is it right?) that make their words flow onto the page or screen with clarity and purpose. The other ninety-nine percent of us must draft, erase, revise, delete, change, correct, and revisit, so that in the end, after many drafts and rewritings, it looks like it wasn’t hard.

We want to be writers. Where to begin? Read more

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

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

Goodreads Giveaway for Adventures in Writing: The Complete Collection

Adventures in Writing The Complete Collection

Adventures in Writing: The Complete Collection.

From today through Friday, June 5, I’m hosting a free giveaway on Goodreads for the paperback edition of Adventures in Writing: The Complete Collection. 

Goodreads is a social media network for people who love to read. It’s a great way to share and discover books. You can create a list of books you want to read and rate and review books you’ve already read. Plus, there are plenty of special features for authors.

All you need to enter is a (free) Goodreads account. Once you’ve logged in to Goodreads, click “Enter to Win” below for your chance to win a copy of Adventures in Writing: The Complete Collection.

Read more

Maya Angelou (1928-2014)

Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou (1928-2014).

Maya Angelou was a luminary whose work touched and changed millions of lives, including mine. She was a poet, a storyteller, a scholar, actress, dancer, and activist for social justice.

Her autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969), was a groundbreaking, brutally honest, personal account of the Jim Crow South, covering the first sixteen years of her life. The book defied conventions of the time by exposing the harsh truths of racism, abandonment, rape, homelessness, and teen motherhood.

Like a phoenix, Maya Angelou rose from the difficulties of her early years and became an internationally beloved voice and beacon of hope for the disadvantaged and underprivileged. She was a living testament to the power of truth, love, and justice. Read more

Adventures in Writing: The Complete Collection is Now Available on Amazon at $5.99 for a Limited Time

Adventures in Writing The Complete CollectionA few months ago, I published the third and final book in my Adventures in Writing series. Today, I’m excited to announce the release of Adventures in Writing: The Complete Collection. This collection includes all three books in the series:

Adventures in Writing

The Adventures in Writing series is designed to guide writers on a journey toward becoming more prolific and skilled in the craft of writing and to make that journey enjoyable and challenging.

The books covers various forms of writing: freewriting, journaling, memoir, fiction, poetry, article writing, and blogging. The sections that deal with fiction include a range of genres: literary, suspense, thriller, mystery, science fiction, fantasy, horror, romance, historical, humor, satire, children’s, and young adult.

Ideal for new and experienced writers alike, Adventures in Writing: The Complete Collection will enlighten, inspire, and motivate you with fresh ideas and proven writing techniques.

Adventures in Writing: The Complete Collection is on Sale for Just One Week

The book is now available at Smashwords and Amazon. Get the ebook for just $5.99 (that’s three books for the price of two) and get the paperback for $17.95. Prices go up in one week, so get your copy today.

Amazon
Kindle

101 Creative Writing Exercises Kindle
Amazon Paperback
101 Creative Writing Exercises Amazon Paperback

Smashwords

101 Creative Writing Exercises Smashwords

Adventures in Writing: The Complete Collection is coming soon to iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.

3 Tips for April’s Poem-a-Day Challenge

2014 Poem-A-Day Challenge.

2014 Poem-A-Day Challenge.

April is National Poetry Month! Please welcome guest poet Bartholomew Barker with some tips on participating in Writer’s Digest’s Poem-a-Day Challenge.

I agree with T. S. Eliot, “April is the cruelest month.”

April is National Poetry Month. For the past seven years, Writer’s Digest editor Robert Lee Brewer has presented the April Poem-A-Day Challenge on the Poetic Asides blog. Brewer posts a prompt each morning and poets around the United States write a new poem that very day. This means thirty new poems per writer by the time May flowers.

It’s a brutal challenge, but satisfying for those who finish. This is my third year taking the challenge.

Brewer requests participants submit their top five poems written in April. He creates a best-of list and names a Poet Laureate. This year, in conjunction with Words Dance Publishing, he will produce an anthology of the winning poems. How does he plan to inspire writers?

“I love to write and use both ideas and images to get started. For my prompts, I try to make them specific enough that most poets have a firm springboard into their own poems, but I also like them to be open to a variety of interpretations,” Brewer explained. “For instance, a weather poem could mean a weatherman to one person, a tornado to someone else, and forgetting to bring an umbrella to yet a third person.” He wants to offer a “focused freedom” every day of the challenge.


Thousands of writers attempt the challenge. They may keep a strong pace for the first few days, but many tire of the daily requirement. Life’s obligations take over and stanzas don’t write themselves.

I offer a few tips to help writers keep their pens going. For two of the past three years Brewer has honored my poems. How did I make it through the daily challenge, push through the mental fatigue, and make time to write an original poem every day? Here’s how:

  1. Use the whole day. Writing a poem each day for thirty consecutive days is a test of endurance. The peculiar mental fatigue turns some writer off. My routine involves reading the prompt first thing in the morning, then I let it irritate my mind while I’m at my day job. In the evening I force something out and hope it’s a pearl.
  2. Just write. What if you miss a day? Doesn’t matter. Some days we’re busy. Move on. Take the next prompt and ignore the previous one, or write a poem a day late or a week later. Whatever. Just write. Use your own prompts if necessary.
  3. Let it go. I don’t expect to produce thirty masterpieces in April. If I get five decent poems, it’s a good month. I hope to get ten more that, with a lot of revision, could be crafted into something (that’s what May is for). Just get the poem out before falling asleep. For instance, here was the prompt for April 27th, 2011:

Take the phrase “In the (blank) of (blank),” replace the blanks with a word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of your poem, and then, write your poem. Some possible titles might include: “In the Heat of the Night,” “In the Heat of the Moment,” “In the Middle of a Heated Argument,” etc.

My poem:

In the last week of the month

In the last hour of the day
Desperate to keep
The streak alive
He types his internal monologue
Inserting line breaks
Removing superfluous words
Hoping for a coda
To appear…

I got nothin’
Dammit

After 26 poems in 26 days, my exhaustion shines through. The key is to let it go and not worry about quality.

It helps to consider something like Poetry on Demand which is a valuable exercise in public poetry. Living Poetry, the group I help organize in North Carolina, sets up a table at street festivals. We write poems in three minutes for passersby who offer us one dollar and one word as a prompt. There’s only so much poetic trickery one can include in three minutes, so we just write, read the poem aloud, give the customer their poem, and move on to the next. While I’m sure plenty of my poems ended up in trash bins, I was told some are posted on refrigerators. It’s a poet honor.

I suggest all poets attempt the Poem-A-Day challenge at least once in their lifetime. Consider it a pilgrimage. All that is required is to write. Just like life, rules can be followed or not. Poems can be shared or not. It doesn’t matter. Use the whole day. Let it go, and just write.

About the Author: Bartholomew Barker is a poet based in Hillsborough, North Carolina. His poetry made the Top 25 nationally in the 2013 Poem-a-Day Challenge. Wednesday Night Regular, his debut poetry book, was published in November 2013. Bart’s work has appeared in Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Three Line Poetry, and the anthology Point Mass. He is one of the organizers of the Triangle’s largest group of poets, Living Poetry. His Twitter handle is @bartbarkerpoet.

1200 Creative Writing Prompts: Kindle and Paperback Editions on Sale Starting at 99¢

creative writing prompts

1200 Creative Writing Prompts is on sale!

From now through Friday, 3/14/14, 1200 Creative Writing Prompts is on sale. Get the Kindle edition for just 99¢ through Amazon, or pick up the paperback edition at 15% off through CreateSpace with the discount code 7ZLPPK54.

About 1200 Creative Writing Prompts

1200 Creative Writing Prompts is packed with prompts that will inspire and motivate you to write. The book features three sections: fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction. The fiction section includes prompts from every genre imaginable: literary, suspense, thriller, mystery, science fiction, fantasy, horror, romance, historical, humor, satire, children’s, and young adult.

Writing prompts are perfect for those times when you’re feeling unmotivated or aren’t sure what to write. They’re also ideal for maintaining regular writing practice. So what are you waiting for? Get your copy of 1200 Creative Writing Prompts now!

Have You Read It?

Have you already read 1200 Creative Writing Prompts? Did you enjoy it? If so, I’d really appreciate a review on Amazon, Goodreads, or any other online bookseller’s website. Positive reviews are immensely helpful for authors, and they help other readers (in this case, writers) find interesting and useful books.

Get your copy today:

Remember, the sale ends on Friday, 3/14.

 

Click here and use discount code 7ZLPPK54 to get the paperback from CreateSpace

 

or click the button below to get the Kindle edition for 99¢

1200 Creative Writing Prompts Kindle

It’s National Grammar Day!

National Grammar Day

National Grammar Day: March 4, 2014.

Every year on March fourth, we set aside a day to honor and celebrate grammar.

Grammar is either near and dear to a writer’s heart or it’s the bane of a writer’s existence. Some of us delight in studying the rules and constructs of language. These rules can be considered a consensus, a way to ensure consistency in language, so it can be widely used and understood.

That’s why grammar is one of the most important tools a writer can master. When you understand the rules of language, your writing will be smoother and easier to digest. You’ll also know when to break the rules for effect. As you gain mastery of grammar, your writing process becomes easier, because you won’t need to stop in the middle of a sentence to wonder if you’ve constructed it properly.


As writers, we should pay heed to grammar every day of the year. We should constantly strive to expand our knowledge of grammar, spelling, and punctuation as a way to improve our process and our finished product. National Grammar Day serves as a reminder that grammar is integral to our work.

Fast Facts About National Grammar Day

National Grammar Day was originally established in 2008 by Martha Brockenbrough, founder of the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar (SPOGG) and author of Things That Make Us [Sic].

Since 2013, National Grammar Day has been hosted by Mignon Fogarty, the author of Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing and The Grammar Devotional. She’s also the host of the Grammar Girl blog and podcast, which offers short and fun grammar lessons in easy, digestible chunks.

Five Ways to Celebrate National Grammar Day

This year on National Grammar Day, set aside a few minutes to learn something new about grammar, spelling, or punctuation.

  1. Treat yourself to a grammar handbook or a style guide. I recommend The Chicago Manual of Style, a thick tome that will answer almost every issue that arises in your writing.
  2. Visit the dictionary and learn a new word, or visit the thesaurus and study synonyms for some of your favorite or most frequently used words.
  3. Make a commitment to set aside a few minutes each day (or week) to study grammar and become better versed in the rules of language.
  4. Subscribe to Grammar Girls blog or podcast.
  5. Review a piece of your writing, and take time to look up every issue you’re uncertain about.

National Grammar Day

National Grammar Day has a mantra:

March forth on March 4 to speak well, write well, and help others do the same!

Finally, spread the word about National Grammar Day. Let your friends know about it, whether they’re writers or not, and be sure to visit the National Grammar Day website, which is packed with grammar goodies.

From Your Head to the Page: Six Techniques Professional Writers Use to Get Started

getting started writing

Getting started on a piece of writing.

Please welcome guest author Dana Leipold with a post about getting started on a piece of writing.

How many times have you gotten an idea for book, but when you sat down to write it you froze or started playing Words with Friends instead?

The hardest part of any writing endeavor is getting started. You are turning a nebulous thought into something real and tangible—but that blank page or computer screen can be intimidating.

Professionals even grapple with getting started:

“One of the most difficult things is the first paragraph. I have spent many months on a first paragraph, and once I get it, the rest just comes out very easily.” —Gabriel Garcia Marquez

The difference between a professional writer and someone who does it as a hobby is that a pro knows how to get over that initial hurdle. In my experience as a copywriter and author, I’ve used a few tried-and-true techniques that have worked for me. I’ve also seen what other professional writers do and stolen those techniques too. Don’t tell on me!

Here is a compiled list of six techniques for going from your head to the page that can work for any writer—from novice to the seasoned professional.

1. Get Serious


You won’t be able to start anything if you don’t get serious. Professional writers see the process of writing as a business. They can’t sell their books, their ideas, or their expertise if they don’t have a product. Writing is their product.

Many authors see writing as their raison d’être or their life’s mission. If you have been given a mission (meaning an idea for a book that won’t go away) it’s your job to start it and see it to its completion.

Is it time for you to get serious about your writing?

2. Set Little Goals

You’ve got to put a stake in the ground so you can aim for it. Sometimes this is what blocks new writers because setting the vague goal of writing a book can feel monumental and overwhelming. If you set manageable, little goals, you can trick yourself into getting started. A little goal could be a word count or a predetermined number of pages or scenes. To me, achieving 1,000 words feels a lot easier than “writing a book.” The important thing is to set a goal that you can complete and will feel like an accomplishment when it’s done.

3. Use Productivity Tools

Productivity is the lifeblood of any writer. How much are you writing? Not enough? Not sure? Luckily there are tools out there that can help you stay on task:

750 Words is an online tool that rewards the writer with points for producing 750 words (roughly three pages) of work at a time. There’s a social element too: users can see how fellow site members are doing with drafts of their own.

Another online tool is Write or Die, which is available as an app for iPads and PCs. It boosts your output by giving you a time limit and attaching consequences to procrastination. The website says, “As long as you keep typing, you’re fine but if you become distracted, punishment will ensue.” That punishment can range from a pop-up box admonishing your distraction, to seeing your work “unwrite” itself in Kamikaze Mode.

If the thought of your precious words getting deleted is too much for you, try Written? Kitten! It is a positive reinforcement tool that deliverers a photo of a kitten every time you deliver a set number of words. How can you not be motivated by the idea of a cute kitten delivering words of encouragement?

4. Build in Accountability

Tell someone you trust–a friend, partner, or even a coach–about your intention to write a book. Ask that person to keep you on task. A lot of writers also join writing clubs or critique groups to help keep them writing. It’s a lot like exercise: When you have a person or group that does it with you, there’s accountability built in and you are more likely to do it. We are less likely to flake out when we’ve told someone else that we’re going to write.

5. Schedule Writing Time Each Day

Pick a time each day to sit your butt down and write. What you’re doing is training yourself to be creative and productive at this time. Pick a day of the week and start with weekly scheduled writing sessions. Build that up to two days, three days, and so on. I guarantee that the more you write, the more you’ll WANT to schedule a time to do it every day.

6. Leverage Momentum

This is probably the most important step because this is what determines whether you get what is in your head onto the page (or not). Stephen King says you should write your first draft as quickly as possible: “I believe the first draft of a book—even a long one—should take no more than three months.”

Why is this so important? Because if you stop, it’s really hard to get started again. It’s less work to keep going than it is to restart from a dead stop. So don’t stop. Even if it feels overwhelming, eventually momentum will carry you through to a finished first draft.

Getting Started

Getting started is hard and not all that fun. Your inner procrastinator is all too willing to kick in at the thought of writing a book. No wonder so many writers don’t make it past the first page of their work. You are bringing forth something from nothing, which is an amazing thing. Instead of banging your head against the wall, try some of these techniques professional writers use to get over that initial hurdle, and you’ll be well on your way.

I’d love to hear from you: Do any of these techniques sound like they’d work for you? Do you have go-to techniques for getting started that you’ve found helpful? Please share in the comments below.

About the author: Dana Leipold is a writing coach and creative collaborator. She helps people write and publish books that change the world for the better. You can download her free training videos and more at www.danaleipold.com/hello.

Goodreads Giveaway: Win a Paperback Edition of 1200 Creative Writing Prompts

creative writing prompts1200 Creative Writing Prompts has received its first review, and it’s five stars!

“It didn’t take long for this book to blow me away. Right from the start, I was reading through the fiction prompts and I wanted to work on the ideas I saw presented. As someone who writes fiction, I felt like I discovered gold here…The ideas suggested in the prompts are very creative and will get your creative juices flowing…If you’re looking for help in getting ideas for things to write about, then this book should be just the thing to help you out. It’s great!”

Thanks for the glowing review, Buddy Gott!

Be sure to check out Buddy’s Writing Show on YouTube. I was recently a guest on the show. Buddy and I discussed writing tips and best practices. You can check that out here.

I’m also getting lots of positive feedback about the book on social media and via email. People are writing poems and stories inspired by the prompts in this book! If you’ve already gotten a copy and loved it, please consider leaving a review at Goodreads or any of the online bookseller’s websites. Reviews are instrumental in helping authors reach more readers.

Win a Free Copy of 1200 Creative Writing Prompts

From today through Friday, February 7, I’m hosting a free giveaway on Goodreads for the paperback edition of 1200 Creative Writing Prompts. 


Goodreads is a social media network for people who love to read. It’s a great way to share and discover books. You can create a list of books you want to read and rate and review books you’ve already read. Plus, there are plenty of special features for authors.

Click here to learn more about 1200 Creative Writing Prompts

All you need to enter is a (free) Goodreads account. Once you’ve logged in, click “Enter to Win” below for your chance to win a copy of 1200 Creative Writing Prompts.

The contest is open to residents of the United States.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

1200 Creative Writing Prompts by Melissa Donovan

1200 Creative Writing Prompts

by Melissa Donovan

Giveaway ends February 07, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

 

Good luck, and keep writing!