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September 2014
25

Anonymous asked

Hello! I'm hoping you could help me with this little problem I have when it comes to writing. Sometimes I'm unsure of what words to use. My vocabulary isn't that bad, but sometimes I overthink it and end up not using any big words and worry about whether this or that word would fit or not. The result I get is just plain and dry, it's what I usually think. Is there any way for me to just allow the words to flow without having to think too much about it? Thank you in advance!

Don’t worry if you’re not using big words. Big words are highly overrated, and sometimes sound a little weird in creative writing. What you want to look out for is using the same words over and over again. Variety of word choice and sentence structure is really the key to creating great flow with writing - it has nothing to do with the size of the words. 

You’re going to hear this advice a lot, but that doesn’t make it any less valid - just write! Worry about word choice later once the story’s been told. And remember it’s not one big, interesting word that makes a story exciting or compelling. It’s the combination of all your words. You’re creating sentences where things happen. Even the simplest of words can turn into something suspenseful. Example?

"The last man on Earth sat alone in a room. There was a knock on the door."

I have no idea where I originally saw this, but it leaves an impression. It’s suspenseful, it’s chilling, and the longest word is 5 letters. 

But if you’re ever writing and you’re unsure what word to use, then just write what you mean. If I were looking for a word to describe a character who is angry, but is being kind of funny about it…I’d stop looking for the precise word and just say that. She was angry, but in a funny kind of way. Not great descriptive writing, but I just need to know the general idea of what I mean. I can try to figure out the precise word later when I’m not in the middle of writing a scene.

Don’t let word choice trip you up. Keep moving forward and do whatever you have to do to get to the next sentence, next paragraph, next scene. 

Don’t give up! Good luck!

-R

September 2014
19

thelandofnightmares asked

Have you ever had a person that was your creative muse? If so, how did you keep writing after losing contact with them? This happened to me, and I can't seem to get inspiration without them. :/

I have gone through this actually, and I learned two valuable lessons through the whole experience.

First, you can’t rely on one person to inspire you. 

A good friend can help your writing in two ways. They can give you ideas, and they can keep you motivated. Their experiences, their energy, their resiliency - those things can inspire you to write a great character. Their encouragement, their support, and their passion for your words can keep you moving forward.

But ideas for stories and characters should come from everyone you meet and everywhere you go. They should come from things you read, or watch, listen to, or experience. If you’re finding that you have absolutely no ideas for stories, then you need to go and hunt a little. Take up a new hobby or make an effort to get to know your coworkers or family members better. Or, if nothing else, just read! Reading can be an amazing way to get inspired when you have no idea what to write.

If you find you’re not lacking in ideas and simply need a push to keep going, then find some writing friends you can talk to. Even if it’s simply going on an online message board or community and finding like-minded writers. NaNoWriMo keeps their forums open year round. All you need sometimes is having someone to tell, “I had a great writing day,” or to give you some support when things just aren’t going well. 

But ultimately, you need to let your muse come from within. External influences like friends and family can help inspire you, but your muse is what lives in you and pushes you to keep writing.  It’s the reason that you even asked this question - because you want to write. Because your life would be missing something without it.

Second thing I learned is that sometimes you have to write when you don’t want to write.

It’s amazing to write when you’re inspired. It’s more exciting, and it can be a miracle how fast the words come out of you. But sometimes inspiration comes in the midst of forcing yourself to get something down. When you have to write that next sentence, your creativity can unexpectedly show up, even when you thought it’d been lying dormant for months.

I hope you keep writing. Your muse didn’t leave you. It’s still in there pushing you to keep going.

-R

September 2014
08
I apologise for the language, but here is some motivation! ~DP

I apologise for the language, but here is some motivation! ~DP

September 2014
03

dearnatashamun asked

To Senga--what's it like pursuing creative writing? I love writing and for as long as I can remember I've wanted to be an author, but I don't even know where to begin.

This’ll be a long response because your question actually hits some of my hot points, but some of you may find it useful.

Where you begin is when you sit yourself down and put your pencil to the paper (or your fingers to the keyboard, as the case may be).  There are a lot of ideas out there about how to prepare and motivate yourself, but the best way I have found to get stuff done is to just start doing it.  Even if you feel like you don’t know where you’re going, having words on a page is a step closer to the goal.

The writing method that I’ve found works best for myself is to pretend it’s my job.  If I want to be productive, I have to pick out a nice outfit, get on my bike and go to a specific location to write my book.  If I act like I have a paying job, I get stuff done.  Perhaps this is a method you could use.  Going through the motions of an actual job resets your perspective, and I find it very useful.

It may take you a while to figure out what kind of process works best for you, but whatever it turns out to be, write every day.  It doesn’t have to be “nice” prose, either - you could write out your story as bullet points, or crappy paragraphs full of half-sentences.  You’ll have to revise it someday anyway, so my advice to you is to not over-think it and just put down whatever words you can.  Eventually you’ll look back and go, “hey, when did those last fifty-two pages get there??”

About pursuing a degree: in no way is having a degree completely necessary to be an author.  Some people feel they don’t need to pay the money for courses; others love having a regular atmosphere in which to work, collaborate and learn from instructors face-to-face.  I’m pursuing a creative writing degree because I value the input and experience of my instructors and I know that they will hold my writing to a professional level.  Plus, it gives me a good reason to write daily - my grades depend on it.

If you decide to go after a creative writing degree, expect your first papers to come back with red pen all over them.  College is a whole new ball field for most people, so don’t be surprised if you get knocked down a peg or two - actually, appreciate it.  It’s what shows you your weaknesses and builds your skills.  There are, of course, some exceptions: my first English professor was a particularly hard grader, but he praised my work to no end and I aced every assignment.  Something about my writing style really struck up well with him, which can happen sometimes.  But every professor has their own preferences and they look for different things in their students’ work.  I fully expect to have professors who will tear my papers to shreds, and I’m actually looking forward to it, odd as it sounds.  It’s a chance to raise my standards.

Whatever you decide to do, know that it may seem like a huge goal at the start, but that every little bit of progress you make will bring you closer.  It’s the small everyday goals that add up to the big ten-years-from-now goals, so don’t neglect them - just stick to it.  You’ll get into the swing of things.  I have every confidence in you, dearnatashamun!

August 2014
16

holdingthreads asked

I've been having a little bit of writers block for a couple days and It's horrible! I have my plot line down, my conflict, characters, setting, etc. But I keep erasing it over and over again. I usually never had this problem and I can't seem to get one page done without deleting it all. Advice?

Don’t delete it. Write it and move on. This is your first draft- it doesn’t matter if it’s perfect or if you are happy with it. It’s more important that you get past your block and keep writing. Honestly! It will help, you can always come back to this bit.

Writers block

-S

August 2014
15

Anonymous asked

I have never written something to its end. I have always stopped before completely finishing it. What advice do you have for me? Thanks in advance! (—S.)

KEEP GOING. 

It is easy to get bored or disheartened but I have never been prouder than when I actually completed my story. Personally, I think you need to set yourself target and stick to them. Keep doing it, refuse to give up. It’s flipping hard, but worth it in the end!!!

Motivation

Writers block

-S

July 2014
18

sapphirenaylor asked

So I am a young wanna be writer and I'm currently writing a book. The biggest problem I'm coming across is not being motivated enough to continue. I am a person who needs a lot of encouragement in order to continue (annoying and pathetic I know) but I was wondering if there were any good sites or any advice really that you could give me on becoming motivated to continue writing. Thanks :)

OK, first things first: if you’re writing, you’re not a wannabe writer. You are a writer. Own it. Embrace it. And don’t get down on yourself for needing motivation as someone who’s a new writer. As time goes on you will need to commit yourself to a more disciplined structure if you want to continue writing seriously, but when you’re starting out you shouldn’t feel bad for needing some encouraging motivation.

As for encouraging motivations, here’s a link with several resources to be motivated positively. Also, if you’re looking for productive motivation, try out written kitten. You set a word count, and whenever you reach that count, you get a picture of an adorable kitten as a reward.

Hope this helps!

- O

March 2014
22

Anonymous asked

The other day my mom said, "I don't get what's so hard about being a writer," so I told her, "You don't know what it's like to be a writer unless you are one." She argued against that by saying, "Well, you're not a writer, either, are you? You're fifteen and unpublished." It got me thinking about what classifies someone as a writer. Is it your first published work? Your first completed work? Or do you simply become one as soon as you start writing?

Do you enjoy writing and it’s something you want to do for the rest of your life? You’re a writer.

Do you like creating characters and stories and places? You’re a writer.

Do you just love to write and don’t know how to explain it? You’re a writer.

You’re a writer if you say you’re a writer. If you love to write and wouldn’t be able to live without doing it, you’re a writer.

-H

March 2014
20
Via   •   Source

Get Your Shit Together Project: The Blahs

fixyourwritinghabits:

(See previous posts and broken promises here and here)

Okay, let’s cut to the chase - motivation. I’d say a good most of our questions are related to it, and there’s only so many times you can direct them toward our many many tags about it. Let’s face it, the subject of motivation produces as many words as the lack of it keeps them away. There’s lots of reasons for being unmotivated. If you’re dealing with things out of your control, like depression, you shouldn’t feel bad for not writing. Even if you’re not depressed, don’t feel bad for not writing. I’m going to talk about what I call The Blahs in terms of motivation, but if this advice doesn’t work for you, don’t feel bad. Keep trying, and take care of yourself.

Why are people unmotivated to write? Like I said, there’s lots of reasons for being unmotivated. It could be nerves, it could be stress, it could be the good ol’ Blahs. For me, The Blahs are the worst. I know why I have them - work concerns, I think I’m becoming a hypochondriac, the fucking air - but there’s no magic button to get out of them. The Blahs delayed this post by a week, they’ve been keeping me from writing a story I’m really passionate about, they make me irritated at tiny things. The Blahs are here to ruin my shit, basically.

What are the Blahs, exactly? For me, I know the Blahs is some form of mental suckage that knows, no matter how hard I try to fool it, that writing is hard work that will undoubtedly have to be done over and over again. The Blahs is irritation at no instant reward, no button that will light up in my head once I complete a task, because writing is never really done.

That lack of reward, tangible or mental, turns your brain into a jerky jerk that doesn’t want to work with you. It becomes a four-year-old, constantly screaming for some sort of distraction, insisting that if you scroll through tumblr one more time, it’ll let you go back to writing peacefully. This is a lie, because your brain is a jerk.

Okay, so how do I fix the Blahs? Alright, here’s the bad news: fixing the Blahs is not only hard, it’s very personal, meaning your solutions have to be tailored to you. The Blahs are why I draft with pen and paper, because having pages afterwards to scribble on is very satisfying. But drafting on paper is not enough, because it’s easy to ignore or shove aside, no matter how many notes I leave myself not to do that. So while fixing the Blahs is hard to do, here’s some things you can work on for yourself:

  • Deadlines. Deadlines with no teeth do nothing for me. Haha, arbitrary date on my calender, there’s not punishment for not finishing by now, so fuck you. Make your deadlines real. Enlist friends to keep you to task, dole out punishments and rewards for making it. If you have no outer force to keep you to task, make one. This is why NaNoWriMo works for so many people, and you can make it work for you. Get that deadline and find ways to make your jerk brain stick to it.
  • Chunk Your Work. Break big projects down to little goals - the more goals you hit, the more that reward lights up in your brain. This takes some figuring out - a little goal for one person is three pages, another a paragraph - but your huge projects needs those goalposts to keep you going.
  • Rewards, Baby. Your brain runs on rewards, the more instant the better. Big rewards - that paycheck at the end of the month, a finished novel - are vague concepts to your brain until you actually have them, so make your rewards more immediate. Finishing that chapter wins you your favorite snack. Editing that page earns you a cup of coffee. The rewards don’t have to be tangible - checking tumblr or playing a quick game on your phone lights up that reward part of your brain just as much other rewards. Rewards are great, but don’t let them become distractions. If they get you too off the writing page, find another reward.
  • Kill Your TV Distractions, Man. If the internet is your siren song, check out blocking programs that can help your productivity. Chuck your mobile devices in a bag or other room, find music that can help you focus. Bury those shows you want to watch in a few dozen folders, consider trying new locations. Your brain wants distractions because they are instantly satisfying; don’t give them to it.
  • Try Progress Trackers. A writing calender where you cross off the days you write works but keep that damn thing on hand or your jerk brain will ignore it. A writing journal of progress is the same. They’re helpful, but only if you use them, so keep them somewhere you will always find them. Put them on top of your laptop or in your bag at all times.

You’re working toward the goal of forming writing habits that won’t sway to the Blahs so easily. This takes time, and it’s not easy. Don’t be hard on yourself if you fail. All of these things I’m still struggling with, and it’s okay to do the same.

To Do: I hate writing assignments like a passion, and hey, I’m not your teacher (unless I am, in that case go do your homework >:|), but last time I mentioned making a list of your main goals, and if you want, now’s the time to break out that list, find your most important goals, and chunk them down into manageable jobs. Your goal is to create steps that you can reach, all the way from start to being done. If it’s too much, focus on it in parts - part one of your first draft, part two, etc. If you’re working on it now, great! You can still try this technique.

I’d also really recommend giving yourself deadlines with teeth, so you feel like you have to make them. If doing the dishes on a failed deadline isn’t threat enough, maybe cleaning from top to bottom is. If you need help, recruit people. You can even loop in family members (‘I really need to make this goal, can you get on me around this time?’), or be vague about what you’re doing (because shit do I hate explaining what I’m writing), but you have to make those deadlines real.

Good luck, see you on the other side of the Blahs.

November 2013
29
Via   •   Source

amandaonwriting:

Have you ever felt as if you just can’t write?

Have a look at this infographic filled with helpful tips to get you back on track.

Source for Image

October 2013
15

Anonymous asked

Do you have any advice for a young writer? I really like writing and want to keep doing it, but I don't think my work is any good. Any advice?

I guess you could call this a pep talk.


Being a young writer is not a burden or a bad thing; we all start as young, inexperienced writers and grow. You’ve gotta just write and keep writing and experimenting with different plots and styles until you find the one that fits for you- the style that is yours. The only way to grow is to practice and the only way to practice with writing is to write. There’s no secret formula that you can learn and BAM, you’re a good writer. You become a writer when you pick up a pencil, a good writer when you learn rules and methods, and a great writer when your story comes alive. 

Just keep practicing and you’ll do great :). Practice can include short story prompts, putting yourself out of your element/comfort zone, etc.

If followers have any suggestions, please do reply!

-H

October 2013
14

Anonymous asked

Hey, I have real trouble finishing any of my NaNo novels outside of November, I just can't seem to get down to it. Also, I have two different endings for my latest novel but I can't decide between the cliché 'I love her so much!' suicide or a survivor guilt ending, where one of the MCs inadvertently ends up killing another character. That's badly explained but yeah. Help?

As for deciding on an ending, honestly for the first draft I would say just pick one and write it. And if it ends up not working, try the other one. Also, there’s no rule that says you have to go through with an ending as originally planned. Who knows, once you start writing, you may even discover a different alternative.

In regards to finishing NaNo works outside of November, it is difficult to regain motivation and momentum in the months that follow. Personally, I find that the follow-up pep talks from NaNo can spur me to completing anything I left hanging after November. Additionally, having writing buddies to stay in touch with after NaNo can help keep you all on task to either finish your story, or start editing it. Lastly, as a huge part of NaNo is about carving out time for yourself to write, it’s something that can (and should) be carried over even outside of November (or the Camp months). While you don’t need to continue at the pace of NaNo throughout the year, if you really want to finish your novel, you do need to create some type of schedule or plan for completing your writing projects (and this goes for pretty much any creative endeavor).

Hope this helps!

- O

August 2013
13

Anonymous asked

Do you have any advice for someone who is struggling with editors block and thinks his or her writing sucks?

We all think our writing sucks, and it’s not actually a bad thing until it stops you from writing. If you reach a point where you think you’re amazing and can’t improve any more because you’ve reached the pinnacle of excellence, then it’s time to stop writing.
 
When it comes to editing, make sure you’re not editing as you go. That’s a sure-fire way to make you lose the passion for your own writing. Do it afterwards. Rewrite over and over until you like it.
 
Do your research. Instead of taking a bleak view of your writing, try to figure out what you don’t like about it and address the issue. Show it to other people and ask for constructive criticism (prepare to feel a little bruised and deflated). Make changes. When you hit the wall with your writing, you have two options; learn how to improve or stop. Don’t stop.
 
The worst thing that could happen right now is the thing that will feel best for any writer; you want someone to read it and say, “Oh, I love it! It’s the best thing I’ve read since War and Peace!”. That’s not helpful to you. It’ll pick your ego up for a short period of time and then you’ll fall back into your slump.
 
So, sit down and have a long talk with yourself. Research the technicalities of editing. Ask others what they think and tell them to be honest. Identify the problems and if you don’t know how to rectify them, do some research, buy some ‘how to’ books, ask other writers how they do it. Read a lot and see whether the same problems are in what you’re reading.
 
Find what’s broke and fix it. Take it to pieces sentence by sentence if you have to, and if you need to delete manuscript after manuscript and start again, then do it. It’s about finding what’ll save you from hitting the wall and training yourself to see your bad habits.
 
Don’t stop. It’ll come, if you look for ways to enable it to.

August 2013
10

fletcher-thorn asked

So, I've been having motivation issues lately (haven't we all). However, I noticed that I go through these periods of not doing any writing at all (insert random excuse why here) and then when I finally do come back to writing (should have mentioned my main project is a novel), I feel like I need to start over completely because I have new ideas to make early things better. The thing is, I'm fine with editing, but I keep starting over anyways - leading to never finishing a draft. Suggestions?

In Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, she suggests that we all write 3 pages of free-flowing writing each day in the morning. I’ve been trying; and I haven’t been able to keep up. When I started initially, I couldn’t fathom the idea of just scribbling down three pages of whatever comes to mind. That was a year ago. 

Cameron suggests that we don’t show these morning pages to anyone - unless of course, we want to. I think it helps to write a couple of pages each day of how you think your writing is going; just to vent your frustration with your novel, your life, etc. 

For me personally, I find that when I am unable to write, I read A LOT. It’s a little like mental chewing gum, if you know what I mean. I take long walks. I think about what other writers have written. I take a moment to envy them. And then I get back to my notebook a week or two later to scribble, scribble, scribble.

I also think that you should take two weeks between the first time you write something, and when you go back to edit it.

I hope this helps!

August 2013
09

its-nightlock asked

I've got a new idea for a story that I want to write, but I don't know if it's an original idea and if I can find enough motivation to work on it untill it's finished. What do you do if you don't have motivation to work on a story or if you're not sure if you want to work out an idea? Any tips?

I had those same thoughts running through my mind a few months ago, actually. 
I thought my idea sounded way too much like some other current bestsellers, and I thought no one would like it. But, I decided to give it a go and start writing it. 
As I went along with the story, the characters and plot became more and more my own creations to the point where I no longer have any qualms about it being too unoriginal or plagiaristic. It has become one of my favorite original stories to date. 
I think if you even have a small interest in writing something, you get that out on paper, dude! (Or a screen, or whatever else you prefer to write on.) The details will come in time. 
As for motivation:
When I personally want to start writing a story, I wait until I feel inspired. That puts me off to a good start. But from then on, I think the best plan is to write everyday, even when uninspired. Think about what puts you in the mood to write. Find out what inspires you, and stick with it. Maybe a certain song helps. Maybe you need people talking in the room with you, maybe you need complete silence. Maybe you need to constantly be drinking coffee. Find what helps you, and stick with it! The end result will be worth all the days you spent on your computer when you didn’t want to write, and the nights you spent jotting down ideas when you just wanted to sleep.
Everyone is different, but those are some of my own personal suggestions.