14 ways to WRITE THAT BOOK

You have the blockbusting idea.

You know all the novel-writing techniques.

Your favourite cousin works for a publisher.

You have all the gizmos and apps that a writer could ever want.

Your characters zap, your dialogue zings.

But you can’t get down to writing the actual, chapter-by-chapter, 80,000 word manuscript.

You want to, you yearn to, you’re excited about it… but you can’t find the time. You can’t find the motivation. HOW DO AUTHORS DO IT?

Writer stares at computer screen
All you can do is stare at the screen…

All published writers – authors, journalists, scriptwriters, dramatists – will tell you this unhelpful secret:

“Just apply your bottom to the chair and your fingers to the keyboard.”

Gee, thanks. But they’re right. It’s the only thing to do. So here are 14 ways to trick yourself, persuade yourself, bully yourself, cajole yourself into doing it. Try them all. See which works best, and stick to it.

  1. Set the alarm half an hour earlier than usual. Get up, drink some water, have coffee if you want, then shake yourself all over and sit down with your laptop and start writing. Do this for half an hour every morning, and you’ll see the word count rising remarkably quickly.
  2. Go to a book fair and get inspired. All those luscious books! Imagine yours among them. See your name on that book cover, imagine yourself signing books for an endless queue of fans paying good money for your story.
  3. logo_book_awardsEnter a contest with a reasonable deadline. Give yourself three months to get the synopsis and first three chapters written. And a cracking title for the book (or short story). Three months sounds a long time, but believe me – it comes round scarily fast. Make sure you meet that deadline and get your entry IN.
  4. Find an app that helps you stick to a schedule. For instance (NB I have no connection to these examples): Monday calendar or Unstuck.
  5. floss cover cropped
    Commission a book cover

    Commit money to your book: commission a cover illustration or hire an editor.

  6. Hang a treat above your head, like a chocolate bar or a bottle of beer, and allow yourself to grab it when you’ve written 1,000 words.
  7. Meet up with a writing pal every weekend (at least) to compare notes, bitch about the writing life, laugh at yourselves, swap sob stories, and egg each other on.
  8. Apply for a writing bursary or a grant – put a bit of pressure on yourself to meet the standards you’re set.
  9. Imagine a very hungry monster outside your room, trying hard to get in and eat you. Every 100 words you write hurls the monster 100 meters further away.
  10. Set this up with someone reliably fierce: every day that you DON’T write, pay that person some money – £2, €3, $5, 10 lei – to spend on something really annoying, like a cause you don’t believe in, or a film you hate. Or a scrumptious treat that you love, and can’t bear to see someone else eat instead. A bit of money might not seem much for one day, but that bit builds up very fast if you don’t write for a week. Ouch. That starts to hurt.
  11. Agree with a friend (ideally one that suffers from the same problem) to swap chapters every week for constructive criticism, or at least congratulations on another chapter written. Failure can be its own punishment, or you can agree forfeits, like buying the other a drink, or lunch. Or a book.
  12. Join NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month is an American thing that’s spreading all over the world. It’s a plan to get you writing your novel, and challenges you to write 50,000 words or more in the month. Great scheme. November’s coming soon!
  13. Group of people in a room full of books
    Talk writing with other writers

    Go on a weekend writing retreat to get yourself started. After a weekend’s dedicated work in the company of other writers, you’ll be in the flow.

  14. Create a local Meetup group for writers, for mutual encouragement, constructive criticism and reviews, commiseration and motivation. Promise yourselves something fabulous as a joint treat once you reach a certain threshold, like 40,000 words, or ten chapters, or three short stories…
  15. Yes, I said 14, but here’s an extra tip: Start at Chapter 1 and go on to Chapter 2, 3, 4… Don’t jump around writing your favourite scenes – you’ll struggle to fill in the less interesting bits later.
  16. One final tip: Don’t revise till you’ve finished the whole book. Every time you sit down to write (every day, of course – at least) read through yesterday’s work and continue straight away. Don’t rewrite anything – just keep going till you’ve finished. That’s the first draft. Put it away for a week or a month until you’ve forgotten exactly what you wrote. Then have a look and start revising. Rewrite as you go and you’ll never finish.

So, tell  me – how do you motivate yourself? What gets you to the keyboard and the top of Page 1?

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Think about this… Imagine that!

Are you anxious about not having much imagination?

Niki de Saint Phalle, Where do you get your ideas?
The best ideas can come out of the blue

Do you worry?

Do you daydream?

Do you plan holidays?

Do you plan ahead for the weekend?

If you’ve said yes to any of those questions, you have a perfectly good imagination. In fact, if you’re human and reading this, you have a perfectly good imagination. Without it, you couldn’t worry, think about the future, daydream, write a shopping list, plan a holiday, or decide what to have for supper. Let alone run a household or fall in love or fantasise or buy Christmas presents…

You may not realise it, but you have to imagine everything you want to do before you do it. Think about it. First the idea, then the reality.

Are you aware that you’ve been trained to think? And that thinking is different to imagining?

The education process – a dozen years at school, at least – is all geared to teaching us to think. To analyse, to be logical, to manage, organise, filter, file, memorise… We are not taught to be inventors or innovators; original thinking is discouraged. Art lessons are about technique and art history; English lessons are about structure and syntax and organizing facts and subtext and other writers’ stuff.

School is designed to make us focus on the path to employment, vocation, career. We have to think about getting a proper job as soon as we get to high school. Before we even hit puberty, we have to stop daydreaming and playing, and be serious.

And what happens to our imagination? You tell me.

So… the good news is that your imagination is there, in full working order.

The bad news is that with nothing else to do, it’s bubbling away, concocting nightmares and waking you up at 3am in a muck sweat, keeping you awake, worrying.

The better news is that you can use all that imaginative power to create beauty and delight in whatever way you choose.

The best news is that you can learn how to grab hold of your imagination and go for a wild ride…and you can learn how in one single day. Actually you’ll learn the big secret in less than 10 minutes. The rest of the day will show you just how amazing your imagination is, and reinforcing the good news.

Where? How? At the Where do you get your ideas one-day workshop – see dates and venues here.

No hard work. No experience needed. And here’s the best bit: No thinking...  

I guarantee you will have a great time. I guarantee you will succeed. I guarantee you will go home with new characters and new stories. I guarantee you will have more confidence in your storytelling. I guarantee that you’ll be surprised and delighted with what your imagination produces.

Now… I dare you to have a go. I dare you to make the breakthrough and find the story that needs writing. Email me today and ask any questions you have. Sign up today and commit to becoming a storyteller: on the page, on the stage, on the screen.

Go on… I dare you.

Five tips to make readers love your characters

Jen Blood, writing on the Creative Penn’s blog today, explains five ways to make readers come back to your characters, book after book, episode after episode…

Guest blogger on wheredoyougetyourideas.net
Jen Blood

“From television to movie franchises to fiction in every genre imaginable, the world loves a good series.

But why?

Plot is certainly part of it, but, with rare exceptions, we can just as easily see the same story played out in a standalone feature. The reason we keep coming back to the series – whatever medium it may be – is because of the characters. We want to know how they’re doing, where they’ll end up, who they’ll hop into bed with next. We want to see them conquer the bad guy… Or get conquered doing it. We become invested in them; they become like better looking, cooler versions of ourselves, our friends, and our family.

As a writer, the question of how to craft the perfect serial character may seem on its surface to be no different than how to craft any great character: Just come up with a general background, give them great hair and a few charming quirks and… Voila, you’ve got yourself a bonafide hero – someone the world will love to come home to, time and again.

Not so fast.

Because there are things like character arc, consistency, story arc, believability, and the matter of maintaining interest over the long term, creating a great serial character is a whole different ballgame. Here, then, are five steps to creating a character who will stand the test of time…  Read the rest here

Jen Blood is a freelance journalist, reviewer, and editor, and author of the critically-acclaimed Erin Solomon mysteries All the Blue-Eyed Angels and Sins of the Father. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing/Popular Fiction from the University of Southern Maine, and does seminars and one-on-one tutorials on writing, social media, and online marketing for authors.Jen also runs the website http://bloodwrites.com, which features reviews, interviews, excerpts, and writing-related posts for readers and writers of the mystery,suspense, and thriller genres.

On October 15th, Jen will be releasing a collection of short stories on Amazon with four other authors of serial mysteries called Serial Sleuths, Volume I: Haunted. The stories feature each author’s serialized characters in ghostly or paranormal mysteries, to celebrate the Halloween season. All five authors featured in the collection have agreed to donate 100% of their profits to the non-profit organization Doctors Without Borders. To learn more, visit http://erinsolomon.com/serial-sleuths.

What people really want from authors

Author Kate Harrison
Kate

Author Kate Harrison has done her own survey on people’s reading habits – what they love, loathe, buy and borrow, what they recommend and why. Fascinating and informative for writers, publishers and other readers.

Amongst other questions, Kate asked which three words best summed up what you wanted novels to be like. The top 4 words (number 3 and 4 were very close) were:

 4: Funny (39%)

=2: Thrilling and moving (both scored 40%)

And number 1, with 55%: Thought-provoking.

She also surveyed publishers and agents. Here are three of the comments made:

Nicki Thornton, of Mostly Books in Abingdon, said: ‘Readers are always on the lookout for something that really speaks to them. It takes a lot of time to read a book and if it feels like time not well spent at the end  of it I think people do feel disappointed. People do seem to be looking for something ‘a little more’ out of their reading rather than something very throwaway and lightweight.’

Agent Maddy Milburn said that debut authors are having orders cut, and she’s seen an increase in the demand for accessible literary books – as did Avon editor Sammia Rafique, who called these books ‘smart fiction’. But Maddy also pointed out that how the book is marketed makes a huge difference:  ‘ONE DAY is essentially a love story but was given an iconic cover that appealed to both men and women.’ Sammia also called for more imaginative engagement with readers via social networking, to tap into their enthusiasm and interests.

Agent Carole Blake loathes the ‘chick lit’ label and its connotations of air-headedness – for me, she sums up the debate in the following:  Books that deliver a satisfying reading experience, but also leave the reader feeling they have learned something (historical facts, emotional intelligence, anything else) will leave the reader with the feeling that they have not only been entertained but also educated – they are validating their own leisure time and carrying away something more than ‘mere entertainment.’

Have a look here at all the survey results.