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.

***

 

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

Writing Prompt: Spooky TV

Spooky TV

As we are heading towards Autumn/Fall and my preferred time of the year: Halloween, today’s writing prompt has that theme in mind.

Write a Halloween special for your favourite TV show. Whether it’s Gossip Girl, Games of Thrones or Eastenders – put these well loved characters into a spooky situation and then let your imagination run wild. Think Simpsons Halloween Special and have fun with it.

Go!

 

How to Overcome the Fear of Sharing Your Writing

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Keeping with the theme of fear, and overcoming it, here is some more great advice from blogger Leo Babauta for getting to grips with sharing your writing with the world, whether that’s blogging, writing short stories for magazines, or novel writing.

You’d think that after eight years of public blogging and writing books, I’d be completely free of fear when it comes to putting my writing out in public. You would, of course, be wrong. Hitting “publish” still makes me nervous.

I still get little shivers of nervousness when I hit the “Publish” button on any post, and bigger fears still when I publish a print book or ebook. Writing in public is like speaking in public, if you’re doing it right. You’re baring your soul for all to judge, and there are few things as scary as that. But I’m here to tell you that it’s not only doable, it’s worth the effort to overcome that fear.

I’ve had several people write to me recently asking me about their fears about writing their blog. One person said they deleted their blog because they thought what they’d written was too lame. She said, “I thought it would be great if you could share how to put yourself out there in public and not worry about it.”

Well, I wish I could share the secret to not worrying about putting your writing in public, but I don’t think it exists. It’s scary as hell.

And yet I manage to do it nearly daily. Here’s how:

Write for One Person

You may have heard this advice before from more than one author. It’s impossible to write for thousands of people at once – that’s like trying to have a conversation with a stadium full of people. Who are you addressing? What tone do you use? What do they care about? So instead I follow Kurt Vonnegut’s advice to write for one reader (for him it was his sister). For me, it’s often different people I care about (my wife, one of my kids, a sister, a friend, a specific reader with a problem). I try to write like I’m talking directly to them, and though I change the style a bit to fit my blog’s style, that’s what I have in mind as I write. This has the added benefit of not being as scary – you’re just talking to one person.

Start with a Tiny Audience

When I started my site Zen Habits, my only readers were my mom and my wife (thanks you guys!). It wasn’t too scary to write for them. Then I got a few more readers, but by then my comfort level grew and the fear wasn’t overwhelming. Then I had 50 readers, and it was like a big group of friends, because everyone was supportive. By the time I had hundreds and then thousands of readers, I felt like I knew what I was doing (nevermind that I still don’t). One of the great things about blogging, for writers, is that your comfort level grows as your audience does.

Get Over the Idea of Perfection

We freeze up when we think of the idea that we need to write the “perfect” blog post or book, so that everyone thinks highly of us. I’m telling you now: there’s no such thing as perfect. Not everyone will think your writing is the greatest. And that’s okay. If you accept that there will be some things you do that are good, and others that are less than good, and that’s part of being a human; you can embrace a wider range of possibilities. You don’t have to hit a home run with every swing or score a goal with every touch.

Be Motivated by Learning

Why should you even attempt to write when it’s so scary? Because if you don’t do the things that you’re afraid of, you never learn anything. The best learning comes when you try something you don’t know how to do, and make mistakes, and then learn how to fix those mistakes. And then repeat. If you want safe, you give up on learning.

Be Motivated by Helping

I write because people have said it’s helpful. They like seeing how someone else solved a problem, or that it’s even possible to overcome, or at the very least they like knowing that there are other people out there going through the same thing. When people give me that kind of feedback, I feel great, and I can’t wait to do the scary thing again.

Writing is transformative. It changes you, and the reader. You get feedback from the reader and learn from them. You get accountability and you have to reflect on what you’re learning. You become greater from the attempt to overcome the fear.

There has been no greater achievement in my life, other than raising my kids, than overcoming the thunderhold of fear and writing for all of you.

***

Via: http://lifehacker.com/how-to-overcome-the-fear-of-sharing-your-writing-in-pub-1646791988

Facing the Fear and Imposter Syndrome 

Help

One thing I really took home from the Festival of Writing 2017 is that all writers suffer from self-doubt – something refered to in Debi Alper’s Facing the Fear workshop as “The Doubt Demons”. One of these demons is Imposter Syndrome, and it’s the one that plagues me most.

People who feel like impostors believe they have somehow managed to fool others into thinking they are more capable, intelligent or talented than they ‘know’ themselves to be.”

Imposter Syndrome is the belief that you’re out of your depth, you’re not really capable, and it’s only a matter of time before other ‘real’ writers suss you out. If you suffer from this, as I do, you will regularly have thoughts that you aren’t good enough, that your writing is crap, and no one wants to read it anyway. Well, I’m here to tell you (and myself) that this is NORMAL and EVERY writer, even those who have had massive success and published loads of books, suffers with this exact same thing.

So how do we deal with it?

Well, I found a really good article from The Guardian that deals with this topic, in which Dr. Valerie Young, an internationally-recognised expert on impostor syndrome suggests the following:

1. Get to the root cause of your impostor syndrome

In order to understand why you’re not currently capable of acknowledging your skills and talents, you’ll need to explore where these feelings stem from. According to Young, feelings of low self-worth could relate to family expectations, but they could just as easily arise from studying in a competitive environment or working in creative fields. (See, what did I tell you – all creative’s suffer with this!)

2. Talk about your experience with someone you trust 

You’re probably familiar with the notion that voicing worries or fears out loud will lessen the power they hold over you. “I would encourage anyone feeling that they may be experiencing imposter syndrome to talk about it with someone they trust; whether that be a professional or someone from their own circle of family and friends.”

3. Reframe your thoughts with positive self-talk 

The aim of practicing positive self-talk is to learn how to manage your thoughts when an impostor moment strikes. “If you want to stop feeling like an impostor, you have to stop thinking like one,” advises Young. “We need to become consciously aware of the impostor thoughts running through our head so that we can reframe them the way a non-impostor would,” she says.

4. Learn to believe in your self-worth 

“What we want is to feel confident 24/7, but that’s not how it works,” says Young. Instead she suggests learning how to act with confidence, even when you’re feeling insecure, as a way of gradually changing how you feel internally.  Taking back control of a situation can also help you rediscover your self-worth.

These are all great suggestions for dealing with the demons. Personally, I find positive affirmations help – telling myself I can do this, and telling the demon to go to hell.

Other things you could try are:

  • Calling the demon out
  • Conversing with the demon
  • Reading back some of your best work to give yourself confidence
  • Distracting yourself with a good book or a positive piece of music that lifts your spirits
  • Talking to other writer friends who understand how it feels or can reassure you how great your writing really is

Perhaps use a combination of the above, or simply keep reminding yourself that the very fact you feel like an imposter means you are a real writer, and puts you in the same group as even the best published writers, who also suffer from the same affliction.

Here is a little anecdote from Neil Gaiman to illustrate my point, and hopefully make you feel better. It certainly helped me:

Some years ago, I was lucky enough to be invited to a gathering of great and good people: artists and scientists, writers and discoverers of things. And I felt that at any moment they would realise that I didn’t qualify to be there, among these people who had really done things.

On my second or third night there, I was standing at the back of the hall, while a musical entertainment happened, and I started talking to a very nice, polite, elderly gentleman about several things, including our shared first name. And then he pointed to the hall of people, and said words to the effect of, “I just look at all these people, and I think, what the heck am I doing here? They’ve made amazing things. I just went where I was sent.”

And I said, “Yes. But you were the first man on the moon. I think that counts for something.”

And I felt a bit better. Because if Neil Armstrong felt like an imposter, maybe everyone did. Maybe there weren’t any grown-ups, only people who had worked hard and also got lucky and were slightly out of their depth, all of us doing the best job we could, which is all we can really hope for.

You can read the full Guardian article here: https://jobs.theguardian.com/article/impostor-syndrome-and-how-to-overcome-it

Why You Should Join a Writing Group

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So you’ve decided you want to write. Perhaps you want to share a personal experience or record a little piece of history. There may be fascinating characters pushing at the edge of your consciousness and plot lines teasing you as they urge you to risk discovering where they may lead. Maybe you have already started down a writing path and you’ve arrived at a crossroads. Which way do you go and more importantly, how do you decide?

A good way to answer these questions is by joining a writing group. Here is what writer and journalist Kristin Prescott had to say on the matter:

As an emerging children’s author, I found myself at that intersection not so long ago. After almost 20 years as a news journalist I was eager to let loose the restraints of facts and current affairs and let my imagination take control. But I had no idea if I could do it. My first supporters were my family. They nudged me forward to the edge of the cliff – I took a leap of faith. I wrote starts of stories (and even a few endings), interesting scenes, character descriptions and a rhyming picture book text, but honestly, I was meandering around with no real direction. I knew I loved writing but I also knew I had a huge amount to learn. If I was going to make this my life I was going to need some help.  Enter Zena Shapter, award winning author and founder of Sydney’s Northern Beaches Writers’ Group (NBWG). Zena says she started the group in 2009 in order to fill her own writing needs.

“There were plenty of local support groups that acted as cheering squads for writers, but that wasn’t going to improve my writing. I wanted serious feedback; and, since I was a full-time mum, I also wanted that feedback to be free. Starting my own group was the only way to achieve all that.”

The group meets every month and after taking some time to build my courage, I made the journey to Sydney’s Manly Wharf to meet them. It is a decision that has changed my life. The NBWG is just one of many writing groups in existence and as Zena explains, they play a crucial role for writers of all genres and abilities. Since forming the NBWG, Zena is being published more frequently and has won eight national writing competitions.

“I don’t think there will ever be an end to learning and improving as a writer, so I value every interaction I have with my writers’ group – learning from others’ experiences is so very valuable,” Zena says.

After just a single meeting, I was hooked. The critiques were thorough but ultimately positive and the members were encouraging and generous with their knowledge and experience. Soon after I joined, Zena put the call out for members interested in taking part in the “Write-a-Book-in-a-day” competition, raising money for children’s cancer charities. I’m sure mine was one of the first hands in the air. Not only did our group of ten manage to write, edit, illustrate and submit an 11,000 word children’s book in just 12 hours, our story Scribbles in the Dark also won National Best Book, National Best Illustrations and we raised the most money. As I stood at the awards ceremony to receive a certificate for the book I co-authored, I dared myself to think I might be able to do this after all.

Spurred on by my success, I decided to take on another challenge – National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). This time I was flying solo and I signed up to write 50,000 words in 30 days. Once again, it quickly became clear connecting with other writers was going to be key to success. Nick Hudson was the Sydney NaNoWriMo Municipal Liaison, and states being around other writers definitely keeps you motivated.

Knowing you’re not alone, being able to discuss your story in a welcoming environment, and sitting beside people that you don’t have to explain why you write to, all makes you feel part of something bigger, he says.

NaNoWriMo is certainly big. This year 315,000 novelists signed up for the challenge worldwide. While each region held write-ins, it was social media that tied the entire community together.

“Social media is fantastic for connecting people,” says Nick. “Checking Facebook or Twitter, those are things that people are doing anyway because they have the habit.”

Throughout the month I noticed I wasn’t alone in relying on social media to help me through the motivational dips. NaNoWriMo driven online writing marathons and sprints, combined with encouraging comments from other participants keep pushing me forward. Then as the end of the month approached, the online writing community became one giant cheer squad. Whether a person had completed 500, 5000 or 50,000 words, they were given a big pat on their virtual backs. Nick says social media helped bring people together who might otherwise never have met.

“One of the things that people discovered doing NaNoWriMo this year, is that there’s lots of people just like them, who all want to talk about writing with someone, who go through periods of low confidence in their writing, but who persist with writing through the doubt and worry.”

I’m thrilled to say I’m one of the “winners” having passed the 50,000 word target. The first draft of my children’s fantasy series is now more than half written and I intend to have it finished early in the new year.

I think this quote, shared by Nick at the start of NaNoWriMo sums up why being part of a writing community is so important:

“Everyone you meet … knows you first and foremost as a writer.”

I’m still part of the Northern Beaches Writers’ Group and the members continue to help me tear down and build my writing back up. I’ve made some fantastic writer-friends who share their successes and perhaps more importantly their rejections. Through my connections I have been appointed the editor of the Society of Women Writers NSW quarterly magazine and e-news, one of the oldest and most prestigious writer’s groups in the country. I found the right path by connecting with other writers, in person and online and I hope you do too.

Via: https://writersedit.com/fiction-writing/every-writer-join-writers-group/

Stephen King’s “Everything You Need to Know About Writing Successfully – in Ten Minutes” 

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I came across the following article by Stephen King a little while ago. I believe it was originally published in a 1986 edition of The Writer magazine and republished in the 1988 edition of The Writer’s Handbook. I reproduce it here for educational and entertainment purposes, as it’s a brilliant piece. Enjoy!

I. The First Introduction

THAT’S RIGHT. I know it sounds like an ad for some sleazy writers’ school, but I really am going to tell you everything you need to pursue a successful and financially rewarding career writing fiction, and I really am going to do it in ten minutes, which is exactly how long it took me to learn. It will actually take you twenty minutes or so to read this essay, however, because I have to tell you a story, and then I have to write a second introduction. But these, I argue, should not count in the ten minutes.

II. The Story, or, How Stephen King Learned to Write

When I was a sophomore in high school, I did a sophomoric thing which got me in a pot of fairly hot water, as sophomoric didoes often do. I wrote and published a small satiric newspaper called The Village Vomit. In this little paper I lampooned a number of teachers at Lisbon (Maine) High School, where I was under instruction. These were not very gentle lampoons; they ranged from the scatological to the downright cruel.

Eventually, a copy of this little newspaper found its way into the hands of a faculty member, and since I had been unwise enough to put my name on it (a fault, some critics argue, of which I have still not been entirely cured), I was brought into the office. The sophisticated satirist had by that time reverted to what he really was: a fourteen-year-old kid who was shaking in his boots and wondering if he was going to get a suspension … what we called “a three-day vacation” in those dim days of 1964.

I wasn’t suspended. I was forced to make a number of apologies – they were warranted, but they still tasted like dog-dirt in my mouth – and spent a week in detention hall. And the guidance counselor arranged what he no doubt thought of as a more constructive channel for my talents. This was a job – contingent upon the editor’s approval – writing sports for the Lisbon Enterprise, a twelve-page weekly of the sort with which any small-town resident will be familiar. This editor was the man who taught me everything I know about writing in ten minutes. His name was John Gould – not the famed New England humorist or the novelist who wrote The Greenleaf Fires, but a relative of both, I believe.

He told me he needed a sports writer and we could “try each other out” if I wanted.

I told him I knew more about advanced algebra than I did sports.

Gould nodded and said, “You’ll learn.”

I said I would at least try to learn. Gould gave me a huge roll of yellow paper and promised me a wage of 1/2 cent per word. The first two pieces I wrote had to do with a high school basketball game in which a member of my school team broke the Lisbon High scoring record. One of these pieces was straight reportage. The second was a feature article.

I brought them to Gould the day after the game, so he’d have them for the paper, which came out Fridays. He read the straight piece, made two minor corrections, and spiked it. Then he started in on the feature piece with a large black pen and taught me all I ever needed to know about my craft. I wish I still had the piece – it deserves to be framed, editorial corrections and all – but I can remember pretty well how it looked when he had finished with it. Here’s an example:

(note: this is before the edit marks indicated on King’s original copy)

Last night, in the well-loved gymnasium of Lisbon High School, partisans and Jay Hills fans alike were stunned by an athletic performance unequaled in school history: Bob Ransom, known as “Bullet” Bob for both his size and accuracy, scored thirty-seven points. He did it with grace and speed … and he did it with an odd courtesy as well, committing only two personal fouls in his knight-like quest for a record which has eluded Lisbon thinclads since 1953….

(after edit marks)

Last night, in the Lisbon High School gymnasium, partisans and Jay Hills fans alike were stunned by an athletic performance unequaled in school history: Bob Ransom scored thirty-seven points. He did it with grace and speed … and he did it with an odd courtesy as well, committing only two personal fouls in his quest for a record which has eluded Lisbon’s basketball team since 1953….

When Gould finished marking up my copy in the manner I have indicated above, he looked up and must have seen something on my face. I think he must have thought it was horror, but it was not: it was revelation.

“I only took out the bad parts, you know,” he said. “Most of it’s pretty good.”

“I know,” I said, meaning both things: yes, most of it was good, and yes, he had only taken out the bad parts. “I won’t do it again.”

“If that’s true,” he said, “you’ll never have to work again. You can do this for a living.” Then he threw back his head and laughed.

And he was right; I am doing this for a living, and as long as I can keep on, I don’t expect ever to have to work again.

III. The Second Introduction

All of what follows has been said before. If you are interested enough in writing to be a purchaser of this magazine, you will have either heard or read all (or almost all) of it before. Thousands of writing courses are taught across the United States each year; seminars are convened; guest lecturers talk, then answer questions, then drink as many gin and tonics as their expense-fees will allow, and it all boils down to what follows.

I am going to tell you these things again because often people will only listen – really listen – to someone who makes a lot of money doing the thing he’s talking about. This is sad but true. And I told you the story above not to make myself sound like a character out of a Horatio Alger novel but to make a point: I saw, I listened, and I learned. Until that day in John Gould’s little office, I had been writing first drafts of stories which might run 2,500 words. The second drafts were apt to run 3,300 words. Following that day, my 2,500-word first drafts became 2,200-word second drafts. And two years after that, I sold the first one.

So here it is, with all the bark stripped off. It’ll take ten minutes to read, and you can apply it right away … if you listen.

IV. Everything You Need to Know About Writing Successfully

1. Be talented
This, of course, is the killer. What is talent? I can hear someone shouting, and here we are, ready to get into a discussion right up there with “what is the meaning of life?” for weighty pronouncements and total uselessness. For the purposes of the beginning writer, talent may as well be defined as eventual success – publication and money. If you wrote something for which someone sent you a check, if you cashed the check and it didn’t bounce, and if you then paid the light bill with the money, I consider you talented. Now some of you are really hollering. Some of you are calling me one crass money-fixated creep. And some of you are calling me bad names. Are you calling Harold Robbins talented? someone in one of the Great English Departments of America is screeching. V.C. Andrews? Theodore Dreiser? Or what about you, you dyslexic moron?

Nonsense. Worse than nonsense, off the subject. We’re not talking about good or bad here. I’m interested in telling you how to get your stuff published, not in critical judgments of who’s good or bad. As a rule the critical judgments come after the check’s been spent, anyway. I have my own opinions, but most times I keep them to myself. People who are published steadily and are paid for what they are writing may be either saints or trollops, but they are clearly reaching a great many someones who want what they have. Ergo, they are communicating. Ergo, they are talented. The biggest part of writing successfully is being talented, and in the context of marketing, the only bad writer is one who doesn’t get paid. If you’re not talented, you won’t succeed. And if you’re not succeeding, you should know when to quit. When is that? I don’t know. It’s different for each writer. Not after six rejection slips, certainly, nor after sixty. But after six hundred? Maybe. After six thousand? My friend, after six thousand pinks, it’s time you tried painting or computer programming. Further, almost every aspiring writer knows when he is getting warmer – you start getting little jotted notes on your rejection slips, or personal letters . . . maybe a commiserating phone call. It’s lonely out there in the cold, but there are encouraging voices … unless there is nothing in your words which warrants encouragement. I think you owe it to yourself to skip as much of the self-illusion as possible. If your eyes are open, you’ll know which way to go … or when to turn back.

2. Be neat
Type. Double-space. Use a nice heavy white paper, never that erasable onion-skin stuff. If you’ve marked up your manuscript a lot, do another draft.

3. Be self-critical
If you haven’t marked up your manuscript a lot, you did a lazy job. Only God gets things right the first time. Don’t be a slob.

4. Remove every extraneous word
You want to get up on a soapbox and preach? Fine. Get one and try your local park. You want to write for money? Get to the point. And if you remove all the excess garbage and discover you can’t find the point, tear up what you wrote and start all over again . . . or try something new.

5. Never look at a reference book while doing a first draft
You want to write a story? Fine. Put away your dictionary, your encyclopedias, your World Almanac, and your thesaurus. Better yet, throw your thesaurus into the wastebasket. The only things creepier than a thesaurus are those little paperbacks college students too lazy to read the assigned novels buy around exam time. Any word you have to hunt for in a thesaurus is the wrong word. There are no exceptions to this rule. You think you might have misspelled a word? O.K., so here is your choice: either look it up in the dictionary, thereby making sure you have it right – and breaking your train of thought and the writer’s trance in the bargain – or just spell it phonetically and correct it later. Why not? Did you think it was going to go somewhere? And if you need to know the largest city in Brazil and you find you don’t have it in your head, why not write in Miami, or Cleveland? You can check it … but later. When you sit down to write, write. Don’t do anything else except go to the bathroom, and only do that if it absolutely cannot be put off.

6. Know the markets
Only a dimwit would send a story about giant vampire bats surrounding a high school to McCall’s. Only a dimwit would send a tender story about a mother and daughter making up their differences on Christmas Eve to Playboy … but people do it all the time. I’m not exaggerating; I have seen such stories in the slush piles of the actual magazines. If you write a good story, why send it out in an ignorant fashion? Would you send your kid out in a snowstorm dressed in Bermuda shorts and a tank top? If you like science fiction, read the magazines. If you want to write confession stories, read the magazines. And so on. It isn’t just a matter of knowing what’s right for the present story; you can begin to catch on, after awhile, to overall rhythms, editorial likes and dislikes, a magazine’s entire slant. Sometimes your reading can influence the next story, and create a sale.

7. Write to entertain
Does this mean you can’t write “serious fiction”? It does not. Somewhere along the line pernicious critics have invested the American reading and writing public with the idea that entertaining fiction and serious ideas do not overlap. This would have surprised Charles Dickens, not to mention Jane Austen, John Steinbeck, William Faulkner, Bernard Malamud, and hundreds of others. But your serious ideas must always serve your story, not the other way around. I repeat: if you want to preach, get a soapbox.

8. Ask yourself frequently, “Am I having fun?”
The answer needn’t always be yes. But if it’s always no, it’s time for a new project or a new career.

9. How to evaluate criticism
Show your piece to a number of people – ten, let us say. Listen carefully to what they tell you. Smile and nod a lot. Then review what was said very carefully. If your critics are all telling you the same thing about some facet of your story – a plot twist that doesn’t work, a character who rings false, stilted narrative, or half a dozen other possibles – change that facet. It doesn’t matter if you really liked that twist of that character; if a lot of people are telling you something is wrong with you piece, it is. If seven or eight of them are hitting on that same thing, I’d still suggest changing it. But if everyone – or even most everyone – is criticizing something different, you can safely disregard what all of them say.

10. Observe all rules for proper submission
Return postage, self-addressed envelope, all of that.

11. An agent? Forget it. For now
Agents get 10% of monies earned by their clients. 10% of nothing is nothing. Agents also have to pay the rent. Beginning writers do not contribute to that or any other necessity of life. Flog your stories around yourself. If you’ve done a novel, send around query letters to publishers, one by one, and follow up with sample chapters and/or the manuscript complete. And remember Stephen King’s First Rule of Writers and Agents, learned by bitter personal experience: You don’t need one until you’re making enough for someone to steal … and if you’re making that much, you’ll be able to take your pick of good agents.

12. If it’s bad, kill it
When it comes to people, mercy killing is against the law. When it comes to fiction, it is the law.

That’s everything you need to know. And if you listened, you can write everything and anything you want. Now I believe I will wish you a pleasant day and sign off.

My ten minutes are up.

Via: http://www.aerogrammestudio.com/stephen-king-everything-you-need-to-know-about-writing-successfully/

11 Tips For Finding Your Writing Zone 

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As the great Dorothy Parker once said, “writing is the art of applying the ass to the seat”. If only it were so simple. Every writer knows the struggle of setting aside the time to write, sitting down at the computer, opening a new document in your word processor of choice… and then realising that four hours have gone by and you’ve done nothing but watch unboxing videos on YouTube and stalk your ex’s hot cousin on Instagram. Writing is hard. Getting into the right frame of mind for writing is hard. Staying on task and not being distracted by your own crippling fear of failure is hard. So, here are a few tips for getting into the writing zone, because you can’t just sit around waiting for inspiration to strike (trust me, I’ve tried).

Of course, the “writing zone” looks different for everyone. Some writers work best in the dead of night, churning out page after page in a writing frenzy as they chug energy drinks and cookie dough. Other writers like to wake up at the crack of dawn to take a contemplative walk, or write every afternoon come rain or shine, or spend hours mumbling to themselves in their characters’ voices. There’s no wrong way to write. But here are some tips for finding a way into your own, personal writing zone:

1. Create a ritual

You don’t have to sacrifice a lamb to the writing gods every time you sit down to write, but sometimes it helps to have a small ritual transition between normal-you and writer-you. Maybe you light a candle, or make yourself a cup of coffee. Maybe you start by writing out a description of your week so far, or you put on your favourite shade of lipstick, or you straighten up your desk. Try out a couple of different rituals if you need to, and find what gets you psyched up/chilled out enough to write.

2. Find your ideal time of day

Are you an early riser or a night owl? Try setting aside writing time first thing in the morning, in the mid-afternoon, and right before bed to see which works best for you. Then stick with that time as much as you can. Sometimes finding your writing zone is as simple as finding the right hour of the day to start writing.

3. Find your ideal writing environment

If you know that you write best in a coffee shop, find a local coffee shop and become a regular. If you write best at your own desk, make sure that it stays relatively neat. If you like to write from bed, then… just do that, I guess. And if you can’t force yourself to start writing alone, find a writer buddy so the two of you can sit there and suffer together.

4. Find your music

Some people can only write in dead silence, others like to write while blasting out Celtic rock. Whatever your musical tastes, find a reliable writing playlist for yourself. You could try listening to the radio, movie soundtracks, or even classical music if lyrics are going to be too much of a distraction. Even if you don’t like to write with music, having a pump up or chill out song to get you into the zone can help focus your energy on your manuscript instead of work/stress/the guy who’s currently ghosting you.

5. Go off the grid

Put your phone on airplane mode. Turn off your computer’s Wi-Fi. Tell your friends you’ll be out of reach for the afternoon. If you need to, download a self-control app that’ll shut you out of distracting websites. I promise that you’ll survive life off the grid, and you’ll find it much harder to procrastinate without the world wide web at your fingertips.

6. Get out of the house

Remember outside? The air moves out there. It’s pretty great. If you’ve been spending the whole day in bed, or staring at a screen, or lying motionless on the floor, you might want to try going for an old fashioned walk. Grab a notebook and walk to the park/beach, or even around the block. Go for a run if that’s your thing. Go buy yourself a new flavor of ice cream. If you’re really feeling ambitious, leave your phone at home. Just getting out of the house and moving your body might help you refocus and start thinking about how to start that next chapter.

7. Give yourself incentives

Unfortunately, we don’t always have unlimited time to stroll through the park or try out different writing spots. Many of us have to work at “jobs” to earn “money” for “rent.” So if you need a shortcut to get yourself writing, you can always bribe yourself with some kind of treat: if you write 500 words today, you get to take a bubble bath, or watch the next episode of your favourite show; 1,000 words, you treat yourself to lunch; 5,000 words, you buy that cute item of clothing/new bag/pair of shoes you saw. (Use this method sparingly, though, because it gets expensive fast!)

8. Get rid of excess energy

I am forever making other people nervous with my pacing, foot jiggling, and hand wringing. If you tend to have a lot of excess energy, try jumping jacks or yoga before you dive back into writing. Stretch. Breathe. Invest in a standing desk, or a fidget spinner, or silly putty, so that you’re not just sitting motionless as you try to come up with ideas. You’ll be surprised just how much easier it is to stay in that zone when you’re not bursting with restless energy.

9. Read

If you just aren’t in the mood to write, try reading. Get another author’s voice inside your head, and you’ll find it a lot easier to start putting words on paper yourself. Every writer needs books to fuel their weird writer brains. And while it can be hard to go from watching TV or talking with friends to writing the next Great Novel, going from reading to writing is the most natural transition in the world.

10. Be consistent

Stick with it. If you train yourself to write at the same time every day, or every other day, or even every week, chances are it’s going to get easier and easier to get into the zone. Make your writing time sacred. It’s not just free time that you’re using to write, it’s your daily allotment of writing time, and it must be respected. Write something during every session, even if it’s just a list of ideas.

11. Write your way into the zone

Don’t underestimate the power of a good free-write. Not in the right creative mood to revise your poetry chapbook? Too bad. Just start writing whichever words come to your brain, until some of those words start to take shape as ideas. Free yourself from the need to write “well,” and just write. Write like nobody’s reading. Don’t beat yourself up if you write for a solid hour and none of it is usable. Count it as a success, because you were able to start writing and keep writing, and that’s no mean feat.

Happy writing!

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Via: https://www.bustle.com/p/11-tips-for-finding-your-writing-zone