How to Handle Criticism of Your Writing

Handling-Criticism-Of-Your-Writing

If you are a writer, you will know that it already takes a brave individual to share themselves in such a vulnerable way. Writing is very personal, and so when a writer’s work is criticised, it feels very personal. Unfortunately, the world is not always that kind. So, here are some tips to help you deal with criticism as a writer:

It’s not personal

As I said above, when someone criticises your writing, it might feel like a personal attack, but it is not. At the end of the day, you need to keep in mind that it is not about you, but rather about the piece of work that you have produced.

Perhaps they don’t fully understand or appreciate what you are saying. Maybe they hold a different opinion, or would have gone about it in a different way. Whatever it is, you can’t please all of the people all of the time, so try not to take it to heart.

If you are feeling brave, engage in a discussion about what it was they didn’t like. Get some in depth feedback, then you can choose what to take on board and what to ignore. And if all else fails, pretend it never happened and move on.

Grow from it

Nobody likes to be criticised because it makes us feel inadequate. The thing is, none of us are perfect, and even the best writers have flaws. Criticism is part of life, and it is better to deal with it early on.

If you feel that the criticism you received is unfair, you can always take on your critic. Try to explain what you meant and where you were coming from. Bear in mind that this isn’t always productive. Sometimes it’s better to just ignore it and move on.

The way we handle other peoples’ negative opinions is going to determine if we grow or stagnate. Perhaps the criticism is an opportunity to improve and get better at your art. There is nothing wrong with getting help if you need it, whether online or asking a friend. All you are doing is improving your writing skills, and no one can criticise you for that.

More than one writing project

As a writer, you probably have more than one project going on at the same time. So if one seems not to be going to plan, put it on the shelf for a while and work on something else.

I am not saying that you should give up on any of your projects, but sometimes it is just one piece of writing that might need more work, and if it’s not going well it might start to get you down. So take a break and do something else you enjoy.

You are not defined by one manuscript or article. You want to make sure that you don’t pour all your energy into one project and let that define you. There is more to you and a lot more that can be done. So even if one of your projects fail, at least you know that you are already working on something else. Keep the faith.

Go with your gut

Sometimes people with no knowledge of writing want to give you their opinions. There comes a time where you have to start believing in your abilities and take these comments with a grain of salt.

Not every negative opinion is correct, and you might just have to leave things as they are. Be careful who you listen to. I would much rather take criticism from people in the industry, than from someone with no writing experience.

That said, even if your editor tells you that your writing is not up to scratch, you need to be willing to fight for what you believe in. There is nothing wrong with you trusting your work above the opinions of others. In fact, that shows that you are evolving and trusting in your skills.

If the criticism is constructive and you agree, go with it. If not, get more information and stick to what your gut is telling you.

Acceptance

There are moments when the criticism you receive is valid, and you just need to accept it. After accepting that you are a human being that makes mistakes, you then need to move on.

This moment does not define who you are or what type of writer you are. As long as you are growing through the process, it is all worth it. Allow yourself to make mistakes and do not beat yourself up about it.

Many writers struggle to get their work published, but they did not let one ‘no’ stop them from pursuing their goals. And every writer gets the odd bad review. You are going to have to grow a tough skin and understand that this is part of the job.

It doesn’t mean that you are a bad writer, but rather that you are still learning and growing. If the critic is correct in what they have to say, or if they have a different opinion, you should just accept it and move right on.

Conclusion

Being a writer is all about discovering who you are through your thoughts and written work. There is no end to this journey, and just like we evolve as people, we evolve in our writing skills.

Using online tools like a grammar checker does not mean that you are not good enough. It simply means that you are using everything available to you in order to learn and succeed.

Hold on to your goals and dreams and do not let one bad comment move you away from the path you are on. There will always be bumps in the road, but you need to get right back up and keep moving forward.

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Via: https://www.justpublishingadvice.com/how-to-handle-online-criticism-of-your-writing

8 Best-Sellers Started During National Novel Writing Month

Bestseller-in-Nanowrimo

If you are doing NaNoWriMo, you will know by now that just getting it done is a challenge. So in order to provide you with some inspiration to keep going, here are 8 bestsellers that started out as NaNoWriMo projects.

Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen. Yes, the book that was on the best-seller lists for over a year, that was so popular that you read it in three different book clubs, and was turned into a movie starring Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson, started as a NaNo novel. This book is easily one of the biggest NaNoWriMo success stories, except for maybe…

The Night Circusby Erin Morgenstern. The buzz for this best seller was everywhere in 2011, and judging by its rapturous reviews and strong sales (not to mention the fact that the movie rights were snapped up by the producers of the Harry Potter films), the hype was warranted. Not bad for something that began as 50,000 words of unconnected scenes and imagery. What eventually became The Night Circus began life in 2004, seven years before it was finally published.

Fangirlby Rainbow Rowell. Granted, Rowell had already published her first novel, Attachments, and sold her second, Eleanor & Park, when she sat down to write Fangirl in 2011. And though the book ended up being double the 50,000-word monthly goal, she credits the exercise for forcing her to dive into the world of her story and characters like never before, producing “some of the bravest writing” she’s ever done.

Woolby Hugh Howey. Howey’s dystopian sci-fi novel is one of those credited with putting self-publishing on the map: after selling tens of thousands of ebooks directly to readers, he signed a six-figure deal with a major publisher. Wool was originally issued as five separate novellas; Howey wrote three of them (and even published one!) in November 2011.

The Darwin Elevator, by Jason M. Hough. Hough’s first NaNoWriMo attempt resulted in a 50,280-word novel that “fell apart” after one good chapter. His second eventually became a New York Times best seller, the first in a trilogy of sci-fi thrillers that has earned the author comparisons to recent Hugo Award–winner John Scalzi.

CinderScarlet, and Cress by Marissa Meyer. Each of the three books in Meyer’s successful YA series of futuristic reimaginings of classic fairytales began as NaNoWriMo projects. How’s that for consistency?

Hopefully, proof that all your pain can amount to something positive will have reignited those burning desires that got you taking part in the madness in the first place. Now, back to the writing desk with you!

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Via: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/8-best-sellers-started-during-national-novel-writing-month/

10 Writing Strategies Any Writer Can Use For NaNoWriMo

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Tackling NaNoWriMo, but feel as though you need all the help you can get? I’ve got 10 winning NaNoWriMo strategies that any writer can use to make it to their 50,000-word goal. Even if you’ve never even heard of NaNoWriMo until right at this moment, I’ve got you covered.

Every November, hundreds of thousands of people across the globe buckle down to write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days. What began as a writing contest between friends has grown into a huge non-profit organization that provides creative-writing materials to schools and libraries around the U.S. In addition to its flagship event, NaNoWriMo now hosts Camp NaNoWriMo in April and July, which offer participants more flexibility than the November session.

I’m not going to sugarcoat it: NaNoWriMo is not easy. Fifty-thousand words may not seem like a lot, but squeezing it into 30 days can be a nightmare if you’re not prepared to take on this particular beast. At the end of the month, your manuscript may look nothing like a bestseller, but you should at least have a firm foundation on which you can build your dream novel.

Here are 10 winning NaNoWriMo strategies to help you reach your target:

1. Accept That Your Manuscript Will Not Be Perfect

NaNoWriMo manuscripts have a lot of… potential. At 50,000 words, your novel will probably still need roughly 30,000 words, at the very least, to make it marketable to literary agents. It will be a whole lotta rough, with a few diamonds buried deep inside it, and you will still have weeks of editing and re-writing and re-editing ahead of you.

Don’t get discouraged by this. Just accept it as part of the process and keep moving forward. Your novel won’t be pretty when these 30 days are up, but that’s no reason to give up on it. Just remember that this is the worst your manuscript will ever be, and keep writing.

2. Block Out Your Time

You have more free time than you think you do! You just have to find your writing time and commit to it.

I like to use a calendar to block out my time for the week in 30-minute increments. Black out your work hours, mealtimes, and any other commitments you have, and you’ll see what kind of time you have left to work with.

Pro tip: Leave yourself a few hours of free time each day, so that you can veg out if you need to, and also so that you can work for longer on your NaNoWriMo manuscript on the days that you’re really feeling it.

3. Turn Off Your Internet

Believe me, I know how hard this is. Turning off your Internet makes about as much sense as shutting off your water or electricity. If you can’t turn off your Internet entirely, there are plenty of less extreme options that will have the same effect.

App-blockers, such as Freedom and SelfControl prevent you from accessing your favourite time-wasters during your writing periods. For $20, you can download Write or Die 2: a unique word processor that forces you to keep writing – or else.

For those of you who cannot be trusted with a computer or Internet-connected device at all, there are still distraction-free ways of getting your NaNoWriMo manuscript written. Lifehacker recommends purchasing an old word processor off the Internet, because its drawbacks, such as only displaying four lines at a time keep you focused on writing instead of editing (see Point No. 1 above). If you want a sleeker, more expensive experience, the Freewrite smart typewriter may be the word processor for you.

Of course, there’s also nothing wrong with good old fashioned pen and paper…

4. Take Your Manuscript With You Everywhere

I’m sure plenty of writers out there recognise this struggle: You sit down to work on your manuscript, but find yourself so easily distracted that you decide you cannot work until the dishes/laundry/dinner/taxes are done. But the next day, when you’re faced with an hour-long wait without your laptop, you’re chomping at the bit to get back to writing.

We’ll tackle the problem of environmental distractions in Point No. 9 below, but for now, let’s focus on ways that you can take your manuscript with you everywhere, so that an unexpected wait doesn’t derail your writing plans.

If you purchase a word processor or use pen and paper, you’re already good to go. Just make sure to take your novel-writing tools along with you wherever you may roam.

Don’t like those options? You should already be in the habit of backing up your novel on a flash drive that’s kept in a safe place, but having a duplicate drive that you carry on your person will allow you to work on your manuscript in any Internet cafés or computer labs you may pass. You might also consider using Google Docs or Dropbox instead of Microsoft Word, as Docs are accessible from any Internet-connected device, and can be exported as .PDFs and .DOC files.

5. Plot, or Not

NaNoWriMo divides writers into two categories, Plotters and Pantsers, but there’s a wide spectrum between the two. Plotters plan out as much of their novel as possible before NaNoWriMo begins, in the hopes that all their planning will prevent writer’s block and keep them motivated to finish.

Pantsers, on the other hand, fly into NaNoWriMo by the seat of their pants. They might have some idea of what they intend to write about, such a genre they wish to write, the specter of a main character, a vibrant snapshot of a particular scene, or even a loose concept of what will happen over the course of their story, but they haven’t outlined their novel or written extensive character profiles.

First-time Wrimos, you may not know which of the two you are, and that’s OK. Neither of these approaches is wrong. Every writer works differently, and some authors straddle the line between plotting and pantsing.

If you have some time before NaNoWriMo begins, it never hurts to come up with at least a general concept for your novel, but please don’t let time constraints or pre-writing block prevent you from participating. The NaNoWriMo message boards have lots of resources and support for Pantser success, so there’s no harm in simply diving in headfirst.

6. Try to Hit Higher Than Your Daily Word Count Goal

In order to reach your 50,000-word goal in 30 days, you need to write 1,667 words per day, or about seven pages. This may or may not sound like a daunting task, depending on your past writing experiences, but I will tell you that it’s quite difficult to keep up your 1,667-word habit every single day for 30 days straight. Things happen: people get sick, cats need to be fed, work days run long. Most NaNoWriMo participants will find themselves falling behind their daily targets at some point during the month.

The easiest way to fight back against that word-count behemoth is to try to write more than your daily goal as often as possible. Some people like to crank out 10,000 words on their first day, just to get ahead of the curve. If you can keep up that pace, you can defeat the NaNoWriMo behemoth in a week or less. Even if you can’t, those extra words will come in handy when something inevitably disrupts your writing flow later in the month.

7. Try New Things

You already know that your NaNoWriMo draft is going to be crappy, so why not try new things this month? You could throw in an experimental chapter, write meta-fiction, even construct your entire novel based on suggestions from writing prompt Twitter bots or TV Tropes’ “Random Trope” button. Seriously, spend a month playing in the big writing sandbox, and tell me you don’t feel better about your skills as a writer.

8. Participate in Every NaNoWriMo Event You Can

The next 30 days will be stuffed full of fun writing events to keep you on-track and entertained. NaNoWriMo hosts virtual write-ins and writing sprints for its worldwide community of writers, and you can also connect with liaisons in your area to find IRL meetups. Participate in any and all of these that you can. You’ll make new writing friends to keep you accountable, and you’ll have an incentive to write hard for the duration of every event.

9. Make Your Writing Space Livable … or Livewithable

There’s nothing worse than sitting down to write and realising that something, anything, isn’t right in your environment. Even the most laid-back writers find their sessions derailed by little nuisances.

Make your writing space comfortable ASAP, but don’t let the pursuit of the perfect writing space prevent you from churning out your 50,000 words! The goal is to make your dedicated writing area livewithable. If you can live – and write – without vacuuming/organising/refinishing, then do so!

So clean out the cobwebs, dust the shelves, set your light levels and speaker volume, and for the love of all that is decent and holy, make sure your coffee mug is clean, because you need to be writing, not keeping house, for the next 30 days.

10. When All Else Fails, Use Chandler’s Law

Raymond Chandler, the author of The Big Sleep, famously said of writing: “When in doubt, have a man come through a door with a gun in his hand.” That’s Chandler’s Law, and you should never forget it.

These days, it might seem a little corny to have someone randomly appear, brandishing a firearm, especially if you’re writing high fantasy, or historical fiction of a certain age. But here’s the thing: There’s no way to get stuck when you’ve pulled out this card; having a man rush in with a gun forces you to keep writing. Use it as often as you like, because this is NaNoWriMo, and it should be fun.

Best of luck!

Via: https://www.bustle.com/10-writing-strategies-any-writer-can-use-nanowrimo

Writing Prompt: Spooky Story

writing prompt scary story

In the run up to Halloween, I will be doing some themed writing prompts; and without further ado here is today’s:

Write a spooky legend about your neighborhood.

Suburbia can be just as scary as the big city! What does it look like? Who lives there? What happened…?

Think Urban Legend or Scary Movie, make it as creepy as you like – but remember, you just made it up so don’t freak yourself out!

Via: https://www.bustle.com/writing-prompts-for-fall

Writing Prompt: School of Magic

writing-prompt-magic

In the run up to Halloween, I will be doing some themed writing prompts; and without further ado here is today’s:

Design your very own school of magic!

What does it look like?

What subjects are taught?

Who are the teachers?

What’s the hot back-to-school gossip?

Anything goes, so have some fun with it…

Via: https://www.bustle.com/writing-prompts-for-fall

Top Tips For Authors To Overcome Writer’s Block

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Anytime you sit down at the keyboard to punch out a few lines on your next project; there is always the risk that you cannot find the right groove or inspiration. The more you struggle to get the words out, the more frustrating and challenging it can become. Minutes turn to hours, and hours to days, and still nothing.

Writer’s block is not a unique situation; every writer, no matter how skilled and accomplished, will find times when inspiration seems lost. One of the tricks to being a successful writer is knowing where to look to get back that inspiration.

Finding the inspiration for writing is possible. Let’s take a look at some tips to overcome writer’s block:

1. Change of scenery

Start with something simple. Sometimes it is just about getting away from your desk and having a change of scenery. Go out into nature, take a walk. This action will help you relax, and a relaxed mind can more easily come up with cohesive thoughts and better sentences than a tense mind.

2. Passion

Identify what you are personally passionate about. Is there an issue in which you are primarily interested? Your interests may resonate with others, which would give you a willing audience wanting to read more on the topic.

From your passions, you may glean an outline for a book and begin to flesh it out the more you think about it. From your desires, a book may take seed and blossom.

3. Fresh & Unique

Search beyond what is considered conventional. Your next book should be filled with new ideas, something unique and exciting. Publishers look for book outlines that are out of the box, a book with a unique presentation or discussion. Try and be fresh.

4. Special Features

Look at the books of some of your favourite authors. Do they use a particular technique or feature you can emulate with your topic? What was it about those books that drew you in and begged you to read?

5. New Impressions

Maybe you need a new perspective. Do something new to jostle your thought process. Try something extreme such as skydiving or scuba diving; if that’s a bit too out there for you, go hiking or finally visit that odd restaurant with a different ethnic cuisine. New impressions and perspectives always have an effect on inspiration.

6. Freewriting

Freewriting is writing about a certain topic for 10-15 minutes, and can be used as a way to find a breakthrough in writer’s block. It is intended to get your thoughts flowing freely. You start with a prompt that could be an emotion, a place, or an experience.

Take that prompt and write about it for a short period. It is suggested to do this on a regular basis just to keep you thinking and writing and growing. An excellent example of the freewriting technique can be found here on wikiHow.

7. Interviews

Talking with a friend may sometimes help you identify a topic or area that is ready for you to explore and write. You can brainstorm. Discuss ideas with friends and try to imagine a storyline or plot for your new book. Your friends may have suggestions for you. It might be something you cannot see for yourself. Good friends are hard to find, so if you have one or two, trust their judgment.

There may be a subject matter expert in your region whom you could interview on the topic you have identified. Collect all the information you gain from these interviews. Organise the thoughts and ideas to determine if there is anything worth including in your new book.

8. Professional Help

If you have your topic but just cannot get the words to flow, you may need help from a writing professional. It is not about someone else writing the whole book, but it could be they give you some ideas on one particular topic which would be just enough to get the juices of your brain flowing to take over the project.

9. Inspiration from Other Writers

Sometimes it is beneficial to revisit the work of other successful writers. More than likely, great authors have gone through dry spells just as you have and can offer a nugget of wisdom to point you in the right direction. A great place to start is by looking up some of their great quotes about writing.

10. Sleep

One of the age-old suggestions for many crossroads in life is to sleep on it. That can be true with writing. You may have a few thoughts or ideas that just won’t gel. Maybe sleeping on it will be helpful.

As you go to bed thinking of your book and the ideas surrounding it you may have dreams that give you the inspiration you need.

Conclusion

Be reassured, writer’s block will not last forever. Certainly, it can be frustrating while you are in the middle of it. But by putting into practice some of the suggestions above, you will change your focus from writer’s block and put it back into writing. Just that movement alone could do the trick.

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Via: https://www.justpublishingadvice.com/finding-inspiration-for-writing-a-bestseller