Each year, thousands of wannabe writers get themselves hyped up about NANOWRIMO—“National Novel Writing Month.” A worldwide literary celebration that takes place every November, NANOWRIMOers’ mission, as it transparently describes, is to write a 50,000 word novel in thirty days (or 1,667 words per day). In 2011 there were 256,618 participants, yet only 14% of those writers succeeded. It’s not difficult to imagine the reasons for failure (or the “absence of success”). It probably looks a lot like that new diet plan you thought would become a “lifestyle”—you know, the one you start by going to Whole Foods and buying nothing but kale, feta cheese, and raw protein for your week’s meals only to find yourself downing your second… [read more]
This is a guest post by Julia Tagliere who writes for Justscribbling.com. Months of anticipation. Terrible mood swings. Bladder discomfort, weight gain, hours of intense labor pains, all leading up to the arrival of…A baby? Who’s talking about babies? I’m talking about your book! It’s true, finishing a manuscript feels almost like giving birth (only you can have an epidural for babies—they don’t give those to writers). Like any other proud parent, you know with absolute certainty that your magnum opus is flawless, which makes exposing your work to others for critique a very humbling business, indeed. But for all authors, and particularly for those planning to self-publish, obtaining thoughtful, honest, and effective reviews from skilled readers prior to querying or publication… [read more]
We taught a class last week about the joys of publishing and in preparing for it, gathered a couple videos that tend to inspire us. One comes from Mary Higgins Clark. Her advice about writing what you read really strikes a cord. Torn about which direction to go with your writing? Wondering if you’re on the right track? Watch this video: [youtube id=6E9Iy_55OfE width="620" height="360"] What are your thoughts? Are YOU writing the kind of book you read? Do you agree with Mary?
Why do we need writing prompts? Because staring at a blank page is no joke. Sure, that dent in the wall from banging your head against it is a rite of author passage… But, we’ve found that writing prompts are a quick and reliable fix for rejuvenating a weary writer moment. Trying to come up with your next greatest scene? Trying to add grit, humor, or depth to dialogue? Can’t find words to begin the story you have floating in your head? Writing prompts are your answer. With writing prompts, the trick is truly being open to whatever flows from your fingers (or pen). Overthinking your response to a good writing prompt is like attempting to guess… [read more]
In looking at some of the most popular books in the past few years, most have clearly not been NGANs (“next great American novels”). In fact, some of them were so far off the “literary” mark that they barely had any discernible qualities that made them obviously worthwhile (let’s just say that a particular example rhymes with “Flylight”). These guilty-pleasure books—mostly targeted to female audiences—have plenty of qualities that, on paper, make them decidedly NOT worthwhile: they often portray flat, archetype characters; they have repetitive asinine phrases and clichés that clutter the dialogue; the characters are barely likeable, and if you “like” a character, you aren’t even sure why; the plots are predictable; they reflect a negative, regressive societal role… [read more]
You’ve been staring at the same sentence for months, your mind immediately wanders when you break out your laptop, and you’ve pretty much given up on ever completing your once great idea for a book. Sound familiar? Before you sentence your manuscript to the graveyard of abandoned manuscripts, we challenge you to consider the following reasons you might be stuck, and then we challenge you to try again. 1. You’re married to a train of thought, theme, or character(s) that needs to evolve or be dropped Sometimes, as writers we force a manuscript to remain true to the first or earliest idea we had, not realizing it was meant as the starting point, not the final and single course of… [read more]
I admit it: I’m a world-class writing-specific procrastinator. Want to make me productive when it comes to cleaning my house? Caulking my tub? Painting the ceiling in my bathroom? Just tell me I have to sit down and create a chapter of my book; you know, the one that in my wildest fantasies will be the next Great American Novel (the “GAN”). It won’t be The Sun Also Rises great, but I could probably accomplish something better than Simon & Shuster-published A Shore Thing by Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi. One of the hardest things about being an author is actually writing. Believe me, I’ve made all the excuses. I have such a long commute. Because of word processing, I just edit and reedit… [read more]