How to Finish What You Start: A Five-Step Plan for Writers

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Do you have a bunch of first chapters tucked away in a drawer – for seven different novels?

Is there a folder full of abandoned short stories on your computer?

Have you left a trail of abandoned blogs around the internet?

Did your ebook fizzle out after a few pages?

Most writers have been there … again, and again, and again. When I began writing, I spent plenty of time starting stories. The problem was, I pretty much never finished them.

Maybe it’s the same for you. You’ve got plenty of great ideas, and you just can’t resist throwing yourself into them. Unfortunately, your motivation seems to vanish … and you’re left with a bunch of notes, outlines and first drafts that aren’t going anywhere.

No-one’s going to buy a half-written novel. No-one’s going to read a blog post that stops short after two paragraphs. So whether your writing aspirations involve hitting the New York Times bestseller list or living from the passive income from your ebooks, you need to finish what you start.

Here’s how:

Step #1: Stop Starting New Projects

Believe me, I know how tempting it is to grab that new idea and run with it. But now’s the time to stop. Resist the urge to begin anything new – however cool it sounds right now. After a few days or weeks, that shiny new project is going to lose its appeal and end up in the unfinished heap along with everything else.

Step #2: Assess Your Current Projects

Take a long, hard look at all your current works-in-progress. If your writing life looks anything like mine, you might well need to grab a sheet of paper and make a list – you may even want to hunt through your desk drawers or your computer’s folders.

Is there anything that’s just not worth completing? Maybe the novel you started ten years ago isn’t the one you want to write now. Maybe that blog post draft was never going to go anywhere.

Make three lists:

  • Active projects that still excite you and have a purpose
  • Dead projects that you’re ready to let go (even if you feel a little bit reluctant)
  • Dormant projects that you might come back to in the future

Step #3: Choose One Project to Focus On

Now it’s time to pick one project. Just one. Because, when it comes to down to it, something has to be your priority.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t work on anything else. It just means that this particular project – whether it’s a blog or an ebook or a newsletter or a novel or a poetry collection – is the one that’s going to win out if you’re short on time and energy.

Step #4: Decide What “Finished” Will Look Like

How will you know when your project is done?

This might seem like a rather stupid question – but it’s worth thinking about. Many writing projects don’t have a totally clear end point.

For instance, finished might look like:

  • You’ve written a start, middle and end
  • You’ve proof-read it
  • You’ve got feedback, revised it, and feel it is ready for sending out into the world

Without a clear definition of “finished”, you risk your project dragging on, and on, and on…

Step #5: Set Some Milestones (And Start Hitting Them)

Some small writing projects don’t need milestones: write a blog post, for instance, is something that you could realistically accomplish during one or two writing sessions.

Most projects, though – especially ones that have been hanging around unfinished for ages – are more complex. You won’t be able to finish them in a day, in a weekend, or even in a week. You’ll want to set some milestones to keep you on track.

Good milestones could be:

  • Completing a major section of a novel
  • Completing the first draft of a short story
  • Getting the outline for your ebook finished off
  • Writing a certain number of posts before your blog launch

I’d suggest having between two and ten milestones for your project (though you can break these down further if you want). It’s often useful to set a deadline for the nearest milestone, too, and hold yourself accountable.

Now, to start practicing what I preach I’m going to write myself a list, why don’t you do it too.

Via: http://writetodone.com/how-to-finish-what-you-start-a-five-step-plan-for-writers/

Online Resources and Inspiration for Writers

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As a writer I have found the Internet to be a wonderful and endless resource. For many of us, the Internet provides an important foundation for many aspects of the creative journey. We all have our own ideas and techniques that will get us writing. More often than not, our inspiration comes from real life places, people and the things that we experience, but we usually have to go one step further to really develop our ideas in stories and novels.

The wonderful thing about the online world is that it’s been around long enough now for you to be very specific about what you are looking for. There are so many websites and articles out there, that should you have a specific problem with your writing, you can just Google it! You never know what you will unlock. Try searching for ‘writing inspiration’ if that is your issue and see what you discover.

If you choose to, you can seek out the opinions of others. I believe that some degree of networking is important for writers. There are many outlets out there where writers will converse and exchange their work. Forums are a great way to meet people and get constructive feedback on your writing, as well as getting a chance to see what other people are up to. Still, I always seem to find myself a little frightened off when I see the sheer volume of writers out there who doing exactly the same thing as I am. In spite of this, the fact that so many people utilise them certainly says something to me.

We all differ in our methods though. I find Twitter a much better resource for networking. This way I get to follow other writers and have them follow me. It’s great for conversation and learning what others are working on, and I can choose to read anything that catches my attention. Think about what kind of writer you are and what works for you.

Overall, the Internet really is an amazing resource for writers. The world of writing and publishing is constantly changing, which makes it a really exciting time to try and make a go of it as an author. Try to keep on top of the latest news and developments. Websites such as Writer’s Online (www.writers-online.co.uk) contain a shedload of useful information for writers, as well as details of writing competitions, new anthologies looking for submissions and articles on established writers to give you some inspiration.

Use your resources to both educate yourself, and to inform and inspire your writing. We are always looking to develop and better ourselves. It’s certainly demotivating at times, so that’s why you must remember the huge network of fellow writers, help and advice which surrounds you on a daily basis.

We are all in this thing together, although the journey can feel quite lonely at times, so most importantly keep dreaming and never give up.

Via https://www.dystopianstories.com/online-resources-inspiration-writers/

5 Simple Ways to Make Your Manuscript Solicited

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You may be familiar with the phrase “we don’t take unsolicited manuscripts” on publishers’ websites. It can be a disappointing sight for an aspiring writer yearning to be published. Fortunately, publishers are always soliciting; you just need to know how to get your work into that category.

1. LITERARY AGENTS

While many publishers don’t accept unsolicited manuscripts, some literary agents do. Literary Agents are there to connect writers with publishers and to help handle the legal documents regarding copyright (including print, film and radio) and royalties.

2. COMPETITIONS

Entering writing competitions is a great way to get your name and work in front of publishers. Winners and those short-listed are often named in literary media—the same media that publishers read.

In addition to the publicity, some competitions also offer publication as a prize. The publication could be in media such as a magazine or newspaper, or it could be as a printed anthology or book. Manuscript competitions and awards have also helped many first-time writers publish.

3. PITCHING

Publishers and editors may not have time to read manuscripts, but they do have time to listen to pitches. A pitch is a short, sweet and powerful way of sharing your manuscript. If you can capture the essence and selling points of your story in a quick and compelling way, you could get someone willing to read your whole manuscript.

4. PORTFOLIO

A portfolio is a collection or sample of your work. If you are a long-prose writer it might be beneficial to work on your short-prose skills, as portfolios usually aren’t made of novels. Portfolios can be attached to your resume, but if you want a publisher to notice you, you want it out in the world.

5. NETWORKING

Lastly, but certainly not least, you need to know the right people. If you want a publisher to hear about your manuscript, you want to tap into that publishing network. Pitch your manuscript to the right people, and they might know a publisher who could be interested and pass it along.

For more tips and tricks on how to get your foot through that door, visit the rest of the article here: http://writersedit.com/5-simple-ways-take-manuscript-unsolicited-solicited/

Top 5 Quotes on Writing | Writer’s Edit

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Influential words from experienced individuals or prominent figures are important in our lives and our work. A simple quote may reaffirm something we already know, or enlighten us regarding something we don’t. Take heed from the professionals of your craft; learn from the people who have lived a life just as you. There is a world of experience recorded in simple phrases, waiting to be read and appreciated.

Below is a list of some of the best quotes on writing. These are from the men and women who have struggled just as we do now with starting, stopping, finishing etc. These are also the artists who live with the knowledge that writing enriches life and cleanses the soul, and through reading their ideas, hopefully we can reaffirm this within ourselves.

#5. Stephen King

If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”

#4. Ernest Hemingway

There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

#3. Anton Chekov

Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”

#2. Joss Whedon

I write to give myself strength. I write to be the characters that I am not. I write to explore all the things I’m afraid of.”

#1. Enid Bagnold

Who wants to become a writer? And why? Because it’s the answer to everything. … It’s the streaming reason for living. To note, to pin down, to build up, to create, to be astonished at nothing, to cherish the oddities, to let nothing go down the drain, to make something, to make a great flower out of life, even if it’s a cactus.”

For the rhyme and reason, as to why these quotes are great, visit the full article here: http://writersedit.com/top-5-quotes-writing/

How to Become a Successful Writer and Work Full-Time at a Day Job

 

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In today’s article, Ron Vitale talks about how he is making the transition to become a full-time author:

Take the First Step

Back in 2008, I made a decision that changed my life. I decided to write a novel.

Yes, I worked full-time at a day job and had two small children, but realized that if I wanted my life to change, I needed to either make a move, or let go of my dream. Having my big “four-oh” birthday on the horizon proved to be the kick in the pants that pushed me to act. I thought long and hard, but decided to take a leap of faith and try. I now have 7 novels on sale on various platforms and am working on my next.

I went from “wanting to be a novelist” to “being one.”

How? I did the following:

  • Made a public commitment to my family and friends, holding myself accountable.
  • Created a schedule that worked for my busy career.
  • Chunked the work into bite-sized pieces.

Believe in Yourself

All my life I had waited for someone to validate me as an author. To change that unhealthy behavior, I started doing. I wrote in the morning before work, read “how to” articles and started listening to podcasts on writing and publishing. I reframed my goals by choosing to invest in myself and my dream.

No longer would I wait for someone to discover me, I would discover myself. I knew I would fail, need to pick myself back up and continue to try. But through it all, I realized that my greatest asset was my belief in myself. If I believed I couldn’t do the work, then I would never succeed.

Butt in Chair

Once I had decided to write a book, I need to plan the logistics. My days consisted of the following:

  • Day job (including commute): 11-12 hours with weekends off
  • Dinner, cleaning up and chores: 1-2 hour
  • Playing with kids, putting them to bed: 1 hour
  • Free time (spend time with my wife, read, watch TV, hobbies): 1-2 hours
  • Sleep: 6-7 hours

Initially, I looked at my schedule and did not see where I could make time. Sure, I could cut out my free time each day, but I kept that on my schedule in order to actually have time to talk with my wife. I became frustrated, thinking of how little time I actually had to write, learn indie publishing and teach myself marketing strategies and started to give up hope.

To solve my problem, I chose to get up early several days a week to write while using my commute to and from work to focus on research (listening to podcasts, reading marketing books or industry blog posts).

I found the first few weeks of writing hard. I’d stare at the blank screen, start to write, but had trouble piecing together narrative threads over the course of the week. On Thursday, I’d forget my idea from Tuesday.

I kept trying, stopped writing when I became too frustrated or overwhelmed, but soon the habit grew on me after three weeks. To cement my new early morning writing habit, I found ways to trick myself into being motivated:

  • I set a word count goal of 1,500 words per writing session.
  • I created a Google Sheet and kept track of my daily writing counts.
  • Before I finished my writing session, I’d allow threads to be left open by stopping in the middle of an action scene or in the middle of a conversation between two characters.

By using simple motivational means, I started shaping my own success because I could see my word counts adding up over time. After the first few days, 1,500 words became 4,500 until eventually I wrote 83,000 words. No longer did I feel lost, but had a tangible means of tracking my success – success that I could share with family and friends.

Read the rest of this fantastic article here: http://www.thecreativepenn.com/day-job

9 Writers on the Books that Inspired Them

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There are books that stay with you during important times in your life. A great book can get you through a bad breakup or a bad high school (though, that actually might take a whole series).

The authors behind your favorite books were drawn to literature and writing by their own literary all-stars, and besides gaining comfort and pleasure, they’ve found and honed the skills utilized in their own novels.

These nine authors received their all-important titles from family and friends, during their childhoods and while dealing with the milestones of adulthood, and each owes a debt to those inspirational writers. See them here: http://mashable.com/books-that-inspired-writers

Book Rights And Wrongs And Traps To Avoid

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Never give away your book rights for nothing

There are so many avenues available now for authors to publish a book.

At the top of the list, of course, are the five big publishers and their myriad of imprints, followed by medium and small press publishers.

Then there is a long list of hybrid publishers, micro-publishers, vanity publishers and lastly, untrustworthy charlatans.

For a new author, it can be daunting to know which is the best avenue to take, especially for those not confident in taking the self-publishing route.

Whenever an author considers using a publisher, the most critical element is making a decision will be in regard to the author’s book rights. Whether in part or in total, publishers will always want the rights to a book before they publish.

Generally, if a publisher is offering an advance, then it is logical to expect that an author would agree to sign over the rights to a book. But advances are a rarity in today’s publishing world.

For new authors, the far more common occurrence is that a publisher will demand the rights, but offer no money in return. In an increasing number, due to a lack of financial resources, small publishers ask for money from the author, to cover a part or even all of the publishing costs. This is definitely a danger signal.

Signing up with a publisher might sound exciting, but signing away the rights to your book without knowing how financially sound a publisher is, or checking on how successful they have been, can lead to serious problems.

Almost every day there is news of publishers going out of business, and this is when trouble can really strike. Getting your book rights back could take years, and that may even be optimistic.

So what can a new author do to avoid making a huge mistake? Find out here: https://www.justpublishingadvice.com/book-rights-and-wrongs-and-traps-to-avoid/