Archives For Writing Tips

13 Tips for Actually Getting Some Writing Accomplished

Gretchen Rubin is the author of multiple New York Times bestselling books including The Happiness Project and Happier at Home, is the host of a chart-topping weekly podcast, and maintains a popular website with hundreds of thousands of readers form around the world. When it comes to advice on being a productive writer, she is someone we should all be listening to.

One of the challenges of writing is…writing. Here are some tips that I’ve found most useful for myself, for actually getting words onto the page:

1. Write something every work-day, and preferably, every day; don’t wait for inspiration to strike. Staying inside a project keeps you engaged, keeps your mind working, and keeps ideas flowing. Also, perhaps surprisingly, it’s often easier to do something almost every day than to do it three times a week. (This may be related to the abstainer/moderator split.)

2. Remember that if you have even just fifteen minutes, you can get something done. Don’t mislead yourself, as I did for several years, with thoughts like, “If I don’t have three or four hours clear, there’s no point in starting.”

3. Don’t binge on writing. Staying up all night, not leaving your house for days, abandoning all other priorities in your life — these habits lead to burn-out.

4. If you have trouble re-entering a project, stop working in mid-thought — even mid-sentence — so it’s easy to dive back in later.

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Ursula K. Le Guin Launches Online Writing Workshop

Photo by Jack Liu

“A writer is a person who cares what words mean, what they say, how they say it. Writers know words are their way towards truth and freedom, and so they use them with care, with thought, with fear, with delight. By using words well they strengthen their souls. Story-tellers and poets spend their lives learning that skill and art of using words well. And their words make the souls of their readers stronger, brighter, deeper.”
― Ursula K. Le Guin

Ursula K. Le Guin is one of the most respected and prolific writers of science fiction and fantasy. Last week she announced she would be launching an open consultation or “informal ongoing workshop” on the Book View Cafe, a website she co-founded in 2008.

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7 Essential Tips for Writing a Successful Blog

Karen Andrews is a professional writer and editor based in Melbourne, Australia. She began blogging in 2006 and now has one of the most established and well-respected parenting blogs in the country. Here she shares her best tips for writing and maintaining a successful blog.

1. WHAT YOU GET IS PROPORTIONATE TO WHAT YOU GIVE.

Yes, I’m talking in a selfless way here. Many successful bloggers will tell you that their mantra is always to ‘give, give, give’ – or, in other words, be as informative and helpful as possible, packing each post with jaw-dropping content. And I’m the first to admit that those kind of posts are lengthier, more time-consuming to write. They are worth it, though, and generally get the best amount of traction on social media and have staying power.

I’m also talking about smaller-scale matters. As you begin blogging and start moving around in those circles, there is an element of ‘If you do this for me I’ll do that for you’. That kind of network-building can be important when building your reputation, and is an opportunity to demonstrate reliability, ideas and a proactive attitude. Think about your strengths before making any offers. Back-tracking isn’t the best thing to do if you decide you’re not ready or certain about a course of action. Luckily, people are friendly and are usually happy to help out if you have any questions!

2. THAT MOMENT YOU QUESTION IF WHAT YOU’RE DOING IS WORTHWHILE. SIT WITH IT. IT’S IMPORTANT.

Those of us who choose to divulge personal, sometimes difficult, details about parts of our lives will be familiar with that feeling of trepidation right around that moment you’re about the hit the ‘publish’ button. Do you get it? I still do. And if I ever get tempted to hit the ‘save draft’ button instead because I get afraid I think of the words of Brené Brown: “Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.”

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Literary magazine Bartleby Snopes was founded by Nathaniel Tower in 2008. In 2010 it was named as one of Flavorwire’s ‘Top Ten Online Literary Magazines You Should Be Reading’. Bartleby Snopes currently publishes two stories per week and holds a regular Story of the Month competition. Bartleby Snopes also publishes a free downloadable magazine every January and July.

In 2015 Bartleby Snopes is running its 7th Annual Dialogue Only Writing Contest. Entrants are asked to create an original story of up to 2000 words composed entirely of dialogue. To help writers meet this challenge, the editors have composed the following very useful tips. 

Dialogue Writing Tips from Bartleby Snopes

Every year, Bartleby Snopes Literary Magazine hosts a dialogue-only writing contest. Submissions must consist of nothing but dialogue. You can have as many characters as you want, but you can’t have any tag lines or any narration. If it sounds easy, then you are probably doing it wrong.

During the six years we’ve hosted the contest, we have read hundreds of dialogue stories. Here are some things we have learned in the process. Even if you don’t plan to submit to the contest, we think these tips will help you create stories with great dialogue. 

Good Dialogue Should Feel Real
Many authors try to force the story to move through the dialogue. They will attempt to “cheat” by making the characters say unnatural things in order to paint the scene better. A character might say “I am going to pick up this gun right here off this table that is right next to me.” In most stories, the character would probably just pick up the gun. When you are telling a story through dialogue, you must remain true to your characters. Don’t force them to say things they wouldn’t just because it will move your plot along or paint a better picture in the reader’s head (it probably won’t). Before you start penning your dialogue-only story, take some time to listen to an actual conversation. After you’ve written your story, read it out loud and ask yourself if it actually sounds like people talking. If you can’t imagine someone saying it, then the story probably isn’t going to work. 

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Top Ten Tips for Writing Novellas

A guest post Dan Peacock, 2014 Project Coordinator for The Novella Award.

1. Plan, plan, plan

Many writers think that because of their length, novellas are something they can just sit down and write. This is not the case. As with the novella’s longer cousin, the novel, it needs to be planned thoroughly beforehand. What’s the point of writing ten thousand words only to realise the story has reached its conclusion? Forward planning using any stimulus such as the snowflake method or a simple brainstorm can make the difference between a novella and another short story.

2. Describe your novella in one sentence

Novellas have simple plots and minimal characters. If it is not possible to describe this in a single sentence, the idea will likely become a full-blown novel when written. The key aspects of a novella are its simple plot and few central characters. If the plot can’t be described in a sentence, the idea may be suited more for a novel than a novella.

3. Start with conflict

Creating a conflict in the first few pages of a novella will draw in the reader and encourage them to continue reading. This could be anything from a battle of life and death or something going missing. Create a conflict that the character must face early on and the reader will be enticed to find out how this conflict is resolved, if at all.

4. Consider writing in the first person

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10 Publication Opportunities for Young Writers

Writers like Françoise Sagan, Sonya Hartnett and S.E. Hinton demonstrate that youth doesn’t have to be a barrier to literary success. Here is a list of 10 magazines, journals and websites that are committed to publishing young writers and that champion the work of those just starting out.
If you have never submitted your work for publication before, we highly recommend reading How to Submit Your Writing to Literary Magazines, a practical step-by-step guide from the editors of Neon Literary Magazine.

Cadaverine Magazine
believes in showcasing contemporary, innovative and original new writing from the next generation of literary talent. It welcomes submissions of literary fiction, poetry and reviews by writers under the age of 30. Cadaverine Magazine is based in the UK but welcomes international submissions. Cadaverine’s editors may suggest changes or ask you to resubmit an edited draft to help you develop your work. They ask that writers only submit work if they are willing to participate in this editorial process.

Rookie
is an American online magazine created by fashion blogger Tavi Gevinson in 2011, then aged just 15, with Jane Pratt (founding editor of Sassy) and Ira Glass (This American Life) among its many high-profile supporters. The site has monthly themed content, with updates three times every weekday, and once a day on weekends, and every school year the editors compile the best from the site into a printed yearbook  There are no restrictions on the age of contributors and all written pieces should be at least 800 words long (except poems). Rookie’s April 2015 theme is ‘Both Sides Now’.

Claremont Review
is based in British Columbia and publishes young artists, aged 13 to 19 from anywhere in the English-speaking world. It accepts poetry, short stories, short plays, graphic art, photography, and interviews twice a year in the spring/summer and fall/winter. The Claremont Review’s website includes a resources section with tips and examples of the types of work it publishes.

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Stephen King's Everything You Need to Know About Writing Successfully in Ten Minutes
We came across the following article by Stephen King a little while ago. We believe it was originally published in a 1986 edition of The Writer magazine and republished in the 1988 edition of The Writer’s Handbook. We reproduce it here for educational purposes only. 

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.

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