New Year’s Day presents us with a bright hope that better things lay ahead in the coming year and a dilemma regarding how to turn that hope into a reality. Do you just buckle down and “keep on keepin’ on,” relying on determination and effort to produce results? Or is it time to embrace the mantra, “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always gotten,” and strike out in bold new directions?
As you reflect on your writing goals for 2015 here are some excellent ideas you might want to consider as you set your goals for the new year.
Believe it or not, being a writer in a time of rapidly-evolving technology is not easy. Even though we have unlimited information at our fingertips, the information can be useless in the long run and even a distraction at some times.
This is the fourth article in a series by Stories To Tell editor/designer Sarah Hoggatt recounting her experiences in publishing her poetry and nonfiction.
As writers, we usually don’t get to see into each other’s creative process. We see the final product or perhaps a semi-polished version read aloud in a writer’s group, but rarely do we get a peek at the raw material.
My rough drafts come out of my writing notebook. Ever since I made it, it’s been the notebook I pick up whenever I want to write a new poem or when I long to explore an idea.
I played for Hall of Famer Tom Lasorda in 1968 when he was still managing the Dodgers’ Pioneer League team in Ogden, Utah. Tommy would walk through the clubhouse calling out to players, “You gotta believe! Do you believe!” The players responded, “I believe, Skipper.”
Sound silly? Tom’s teams won three championships during his three years at Ogden. When he move to the Big Leagues in Los Angeles his teams won two World Series championships in (1981 and 1988), four National League pennants and eight division titles in his 20-year career as the Dodgers manager. One of the keys was that his players believed in themselves.
To write well an author must believe in himself. Yet for many writers there’s a nagging doubt when they sit down to write.
Here are links to four articles that will help you dispel doubts and confidently repeat, “I believe!” every time you start typing.
You’ve been working on some writing and are considering the possibility of self-publishing down the road, but it looks like a large, unmanageable jungle. You’re not sure where to even start and thus ask a question I often hear, “How did you start publishing?”
Sarah Hoggatt of Stories To tell explores her path into print.
It’s the question so many people ask. As writers, I’m sure you know what it is. It’s the question that brings both great delight and great discomfort. It’s the question that makes us smile with pride yet also makes us suddenly shy. It’s the coaxing out of information we tend to clutch tightly to our chests. The one we are secretly longing to be asked.
“So how’s the book going?”
There it is. What do we say? Do we tell them what we’re writing about, what stage the book is in, what we want it to become? I’ve been asked this question recently by my editors, by the baristas at my favorite coffee shop, and by a friend while I was visiting her house. I actually love to be asked this question as it keeps me accountable to keep writing and it gives me opportunity to share about a topic I love.
Here at “Stories to Tell,” we know many of you are going through the same process of writing, editing, and publishing your book so we thought it would be fun and informative if we created a blog series around the process of me putting my book together.
We’re a third of the way through National Novel Writing Month? It’s estimated that approximately a half-a-million people are banging away at their computers to knock out the first draft of a novel.
The annual event might be well advised to make Nike’s famous slogan “Just do it!” the month’s theme.
Pulp mystery writer Mickey Spillane could be its poster boy. I once saw Spillane on the Tonight Show. Johnny Carson asked him how long it took him to write a book.
“Depends on how bad I need the money,” said Spillane.
“What's the fastest you ever wrote one,” asked Johnny.
“I wrote one over a three-day weekend once,” he replied.
So it can be done, if you're skilled and experienced, not to mention highly motivated.
But might a less rushed, more planned approach work better for some authors?
A lot of getting started as a writer is experimenting with different types of writing. Exploring a variety of genres can help you discover what you’re best at and what you enjoy the most. Look at how one young writer chose his path.
There has been a lot of advice on the web of late suggesting that writers can improve their productivity by paying attention to their environment, routine, work style and craft. Here are five of the best posts on the subject.
Every writer is looking for ways to enrich the characters, deepen the conflict and build a more dramatic story. Here are six great tips from around the web to help you do just that.
When I’m enthralled by a good speaker or a great book, it’s usually because I’m being told an intriguing story. I love a good story. As humans, story is one of our most powerful tools of communication. A good story gives us new perspective, helps us gain understanding, lets us know we’re not alone, and passes along tradition and familial heritage.
One of the powers inherent in writing is being able to voice what can be difficult for other people to share. It takes courage to be that voice—an opening of vulnerability.
One of the first things an editor learns is the importance of a good style manual. When tricky questions of grammar, punctuation or usage arise, it’s good to have a “bible” to refer to get the definitive answer as to the “correct” way to write something.
Today I got a good reminder. Correctness is not always absolute, even with the best of style manuals.
My problem was simple. I wanted to create a possessive of the name Julius. My client had written Julius’s. My recollection was that no additional s was necessary and that it should be Julius’. Which was correct?
I checked the Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition and found the following advice:
Whenever I know someone is coming over to my house, I make sure the space is cleaned up. I do the dishes, vacuum, and put the clutter away. I want to make the space inviting. As a writer, I do the same thing for my readers. We all have a great deal of clutter in our thoughts that tends to get in the way of what we write and I like to clear it away beforehand so my readers don’t have to deal with the junk amidst the gems.
[This blog is from a new contributor, Sarah Hoggatt. You will be seeing more of her ideas about writing in upcoming blogs! Welcome, Sarah.]
10 quotations about the craft of writing from great literary figures. These ideas will both inspire and instruct any writer.
“It is perfectly okay to write garbage—as long as you edit brilliantly,” advises Hugo Award-winning science fiction writer C. J. Cherryh.
One of the keys to transforming a rough edged draft manuscript into a well-edited, polished book is getting quality feedback about what you’ve written.
Many writers spend hours planning their draft – creating outlines, plot summaries, and character sketches. Yet those same authors ask for a critique of their draft without any real plan of how to make sure the feedback will be useful. They are disappointed when one reader’s sole comment is, “It was good. I really liked it,” and another does a hatchet job on the text (and its author).
Two questions will help you avoid such less than useful results:
1. Who should I ask to read my draft?
2. What specific instructions should I give them on the type of feedback I want?
Thousands of people write memoirs every year. How do you make your memoir standout from the crowd? Here’s so advice from masters of the genre on how to make sure yours is a good one.
Elmore Leonard said, “I try to leave out the parts that people skip.” That’s easier said than done. Well-written genre novels are often described as “page-turners.” Learning how to build and maintain momentum means choosing what to leave out, because that keeps the readers turning pages.
I love a good mystery. Nobody writes them better than Michael Connelly. The Gods of Guilt, the latest in his Michael Haller (The Lincoln Lawyer) series, is a wonderful example of omitting what’s unnecessary to maintain the novel’s pace.
Point of view is not something family historians are likely think about. After all, you seek to collect “true” stories. Then, when you’re ready to write, you review what you have gathered, and you tell the story - from your own point of view. What’s the downside? The result can be more like a report than a story.
Instead, consider switching your point of view around. Look at events from the point of view of the people you are writing about. How did they feel about what was going on in their lives? What were they thinking about as the events you describe unfolded? We know that much of the drama of history comes from decisions they made. So, what would they have considered before deciding to take the action they did?
Writing a memoir or family history can be tricky, because you know a lot – even too much – about your subject. Some of the story you know as fact, some you can only speculate about, and then there are your personal feelings. What’s the best way to tell the story?
Researchers and authors sometimes see themselves as reporters, telling about events as they actually happened. But if you are mostly concerned with exploring the emotional and psychological experience, these aspects of life are harder to report, much less to document. Should you write a factual memoir or family history, or would a fictionalized account be better?
Would you like to write in a crisp, concise, vivid style? Who wouldn’t? A new app called Hemingway allows you to see how your writing measures up to Papa’s standard. Ernest Hemingway, the king of powerful, spare writing, has influenced generations of writers. He crafted his Nobel Prize-winning novels based on four rules he learned as a cub reporter at the Kansas City Star:
Use short sentences.
Use short first paragraphs.
Use vigorous English.
Be positive, not negative.
Brian Clark of Copyblogger adds a fifth rule Hemingway confided in a letter to F. Scott Fitzgerald, “I write one page of masterpiece to ninety-one pages of shit. I try to put the shit in the wastebasket.”
You can use the app in two ways:
Hit the Write button and create a new piece of text to evaluate.
Hit the Edit button and plug in a piece of existing writing.