Writing Competitions – Want to Win? Part Two

Part Two

Author Annette YoungIn this second article in the Writing Competitions – Want to Win series, I am going to discuss repetition in story ideas. While it’s absolutely fine to reinvent an idea, it should only be considered a starting point. I see a great many stories when judging writing competitions which have not been evolved sufficiently. It’s as if the writer has become stuck in the moment and has not known where to take the story so that it develops, extends and even, diversifies. Instead of the creative process leading the way to something quite unique, the process is stopped short, cut off in its prime.

This can occur through a lack of time or, a lack of creativity at that time.

Sometimes, submissions are beautifully written but even well-written stories cannot compete against those that are well-thought out, read well and show much originality. When we review submissions, we look for creativity and technique of course, but it is a joy to see work from a writer who is capable of extending boundaries, taking an idea and developing it to its full potential.

Don’t be too keen to rush a story. Think it through. What could you do that would make an ordinary story shine?

Tip: Begin with your basic idea but then, craft a story that is powerful and compelling by making it an unpredictable read. Think of alternative endings. Throw in a few obstacles. This alone could make you be in with a chance of winning.

Missed Part One? Read it HERE

Want to have a go at entering a writing competition? Click HERE

 

 

Don’t Wait Until Tomorrow

Time

Annette Youngby Annette Young

Do you find yourself putting things off? I think we all do this, mentally calculating that we’ll find time later or, maybe the next day, especially when faced with the mundane chores of life.

 When I first started writing with intent and was really determined to get my work published, I still found myself putting it off, even though I was really eager to do it.  I had a plan of action, but the actual process of sitting down and starting to write was incredibly hard. But, I know I am not alone in this. We make excuses for our lack of creativity. We plan instead for the next day, wasting hours of potential creative time.  Why? Because we know that it takes a while to get into the creative process and sometimes, writing can be painfully hard. But we should overcome these barriers because the next day, there are even more distractions to face.

Whether you write for fun or to make something out of your writing, it doesn’t matter, you must still harden your resolve if you wish to reach your true creative potential in life.  After all, you don’t know just how good you are, until you try. Don’t put off your creative writing attempts because life disappears.

I was reminded of this only recently when I heard the sad news that two of my friends had died. Yes, they were older than me and yes, they achieved much in their lives but I remember that it was only about 6 years ago – around the time I took the plunge to take the Creative Competitor on the road. My friends were vibrant, funny and larger than life but now they are gone.

No-one wants to think about this side of life but it’s true. If we don’t knuckle down and make the most of our time, one day, there is no more time. This holds true for all of your aims, not just writing goals, of course. Don’t waste time worrying or fretting about life. Use every aspect of your experiences within your writing.

Whether you are serious in your attempts to get work published, or you find the whole creative writing process a release and an escape from the every day world. Do it now.

Don’t put it off. Embrace it and revel in something you love. Time is ticking.

Keep Those Ideas Coming

Annette Youngby Annette Young

I am constantly asked how to keep creative ideas flowing and yes,  this can be difficult if you feel overwhelmed by the day to day problems in life, feel tired or, just low in spirits. The trick I have found at those times is to take myself out of the office and go for a walk. It may not be a high-tech answer but for me, it clears the cobwebs from my brain.

A change of scenery, a cup of strong coffee and a chance to observe life from your chosen spot is often all you need.

It can help if you can train your brain to respond creatively on demand though. The trick here is to force yourself to write even if you don’t want to. Yes, it’s the last thing you will feel like doing but, once you get past the first stages of, ‘I hate this,’ you’ll find your brain starts to respond. The more you do this, the easier it gets to tap into creativity.

Start to think and feel like a writer. I’ve always said that I live and breathe the written word and if you are writer through and through, you’ll do the same. Even when you are not writing, you are observing life and there can be no better way to get ideas by the masses. Fiction and non-fiction requires the experiences and observations of life. I’ve always said, no experience is ever wasted. At the very least, it becomes fodder for your writing.

If you really want to write with heart and with conviction, go and live a little. It will freshen up your ideas and your abilities no end.

 

Writing and Publishing – What’s the Rush?

be a successful writer

by Annette Young

We live in a fast-paced society, I think you will all agree but, as a writer, I am starting to believe that collectively, there is a worldwide urge to churn out content as if there is no tomorrow. It’s fine to speed-write, I do it myself but I do spend days meticulously going back through my work and then, I have my wonderful editor/proofreader Maggie Burns who works for the Creative Competitor, cast her steely eyes over much of it.

When I wrote my novel, Who Killed September Falls? I did so in a month – I couldn’t take any more time off from my other client work and I wanted to prove that you could indeed write a full-length work of fiction in a limited time-frame if you really wanted to. With each completed chapter, I emailed my colleague and she edited the words – checking for punctuation errors but, we also discussed my goals as well as queried any discrepancies. This approach ensured speed and efficiency as well as accuracy.  

If you are a writing enthusiast, you’ll know that it’s all too easy to make mistakes. You get so caught up in your plot that you romp ahead without realising that your characters have evolved and the plot has now become more complex and then, with your mindset firmly on your original idea, you trip yourself up with these subtle changes and before you know it, bam, there’s a great big hole of inconsistency running through your plot. 

I blame the roller-coaster entity called digital publishing for this urgency to write and publish. It’s all too easy these days to get work published that somehow, as writers, we have belittled the craftsmanship of the writing process. Now don’t get me wrong, I love the digital publishing options out there. Although as published writers, we all know the flaws of Amazon and other publishing entities, we do know that without these companies, opportunities to carve out a living in the writing arena greatly diminish. In terms of benefits, it does enable good writers who were likely to remain stuck in the slush pile of publishing, to have a good opportunity to succeed. It works and I’ve made money from digital publishing but, and, there is a BIG BUT, I also see published work out there which has blatantly had very little thought going into it. 

I find this difficult to understand.

As an editor, I see a lot of fiction and non-fiction books and I help to bring them to life. I polish those words and I consider the inner message that the writer is trying to convey. I think about the target audience, I think about the consistency and style and whether those words will engage the reader. But these are the lucky books – because they have reached the experienced hands of a professional and, the writers have the commitment and desire to their project to ensure that those words are as good as can possibly be. But there are thousands of books and stories published today that have not had the professional touch. The words may still be ultra raw, a talent in the making, or, the story may have little to no substance and the characters fail to touch the hearts or minds of the readers. 

This will only deter readers from buying unknown names. 

So, this is what happens when we rush a writing project or do not care enough to edit, re-edit and then send it to a professional to give it their seal of approval. I have had some excellent books sent to me but which needed a great deal of help and there’s nothing wrong with that. As editors, we do not judge, we just focus on the task at hand, but as a reader, it is impossible to not judge a published book.

There’s a reason why successful authors the world over have editors and proofreaders. They care. 

I know that it’s difficult to produce a sufficient level of words when you work all hours and have to fit in your writing at odd times and so a lengthy project i.e. a novel, can take up months and years of hard slog but, that’s okay. You must write at your own pace. If you are desperate to get your book written but are seriously struggling, have it ghost-written and sell it in your name. If you have captured a full-length work of fiction or non-fiction to paper but are not sure whether it needs more work, have it professionally critiqued. 

All of these options prove that you care about the end result but for all those who churn out their words and never have it professionally evaluated or edited, you are taking a risk – not just with your own work but you also de-value the face of publishing. Let’s be honest, the publishing industry is filled to over-flowing with books that rarely do much in terms of sales and those that are sold but do not provide an enjoyable read are slated by readers (and rightly so) and this knocks sales dead in their tracks. But it does more than that, it adds an air of amateurism to the whole digital publishing or Indie industry. 

I advocate writing as much as you can when you can. We can’t progress unless we write and learn from our mistakes. Let those words pour from the soul, live and breathe the whole writing process and let your story be told, but don’t think that publishing sub-standard work is alright. To be a real writer, you have to care about your story or your idea, it has to have merit and integrity. To be a successful writer, you must stand by your words and create the best book or work of fiction that you can. I always think that writing is a little part of you, you breathe life into it, you give it soul and you add some of your own experiences and beliefs and maybe, if you truly care, you add a pinch of magic to it too. It’s this extra ingredient that will make your work shine above all others and enable it to rise to the top. The other elements ensure that your book has a right to take its place alongside books from top authors because you have created solid foundations upon which to carve out your writing career. 

So if you suddenly have the temptation to churn out work and publish it immediately, resist that urge. Instead, think about your readers and go for the long haul. This might only mean an extra week or two of polishing but make no mistake, your words will shine and you’ll be proud to be called a writer. 

Need any help with your book? Don’t know who to trust? We can help. Take a look at our list of author services or email any questions to: info@creative-competitor.co.uk

Looking Back Creatively

Writing

by Annette Young

I have long advised writers to cherish all of their writing attempts and to have a file – whether offline or online so that they can dip into those past realms of creativity, to remember the influences of the time and to even cast a smile at those early attempts. But looking back also provides a fantastic way to chart your personal progress. 

I did just this today. 

The Creative Competitor site is absolutely huge. Due to former technical problems, we had to strip back a lot of the content (and by this I mean un-publish) so that we could determine where the core technical problems existed, and so we came across a huge amount of long forgotten content. Even though, the technical problems were resolved, going through all of the old content is a massive job and still a work in progress and today, I dedicated an hour to the task changing categories and sub-categories and eliminating out of date writing techniques and tips so that the content is accurate and easier to find. While  doing so, some of my early articles emerged from the depths of the site and made me smile. 

My early writing style was noticeable and it was all to easy to recall those early influences. Although I rarely have time to blink, let alone look back, it certainly can be satisfying to do so. Not only did I recognise my progress in writing but it was an enticing reminder of those creative moments and I could visualise myself sitting in my old office, typing away on one of my first computers, still learning all the technical aspects as well as trying to write ‘THE ARTICLE’ that would gain me early recognition. I remembered all my hopes and inspirations at that time and it was a wonderful trip down memory lane.  

When I think back to how far my own creative journey has come and, is still continuing to grow, it simply amazes me. Little did I know right in my early days of trying to write professionally just where my creative endeavours would take me. I never imagined years later having a website like The Creative Competitor, I never imagined I would become a professional writing tutor teaching adult learners at college level, I never imagined that I would write full-time for a living, although that was something I yearned for. I think all writers should rummage through their files and recapture those early days, the excitement, the anticipation of publication and the sweat and tears when those annoying rejection slips arrived.

The realms of publishing have changed substantially in the last decade but I bet your writing has done so too. 

When you look back you may be shocked at the changes. You may think that some of your writing lacked a professional touch or that the ideas were weak or that your stories lacked depth but that’s just fine. That’s part of your journey. Re-use ideas by re-writing them. Compare the old with the new and add the wealth of experience to your words too. 

Looking back creatively can really help you to progress and to re-kindle your love of the written word. 

Carve Out A Writing Niche

successful writerby Annette Young

 

I had an in-depth conversation yesterday with a friend who was thinking about writing a book. When I asked her what she wanted to write about, she just shrugged, the desire to write was strong, but the type of book or subject had not been thought through sufficiently. Although this might sound strange, I hear from a great many people who have the urge to write but are vague as to the topic and, without a doubt, the subject matter is a vital component to success. 

 

She had dismissed the idea of writing a novel and wanted in some way to write about a subject that she knew about. As the conversation deepened, I realised that she had little faith in her own abilities. She knew about much in life. She had learned to play the piano and the guitar when young and had helped many people to learn the basics over the years. Five years previously, she’d taken on an allotment and had created a vegetable patch to be proud of. Having never grown anything in her life, she’d turn the allotment into an organic area – so it was managed naturally and without the use of any chemicals or pesticides and it yielded a steady flow of vegetables throughout the year. When I suggested that others would want to know how she had done this, she rejected the idea as being one that would not really impress many. 

 

Personally, I felt that she was wrong but we continued to go through an extensive list of many talents and she now has a shortlist of topics and has to (with much deliberation) choose just one. Her story is really not uncommon. A great many of you probably have extensive knowledge in specific areas of life which may be invaluable to someone else who does not. These days, writing as an expert does not mean you always have to have credentials or qualifications, but you do need experience and you do need to believe in your ability 

 

If you fancy writing a non-fiction book, consider niche topics that may be popular and consider the content carefully. It can help to break down content into potential chapters so you can see how long the book would be and how much research is needed etc.  You may be surprised to realise just how much you do know. 

 

The Writing Life

 

Life as a writer

by Annette Young

Someone asked me the other day why I write. It’s not a simple answer, it’s complex because it is such an integral part of me. When I tried to explain that I couldn’t halt the sway of characters or ideas that popped into my mind, that I lived and breathed my role as a writer because not only was it my career but I truly loved it and needed it, I could see them mentally calculating my sanity, or, at the very least, wondering how I was able to function in the real world.

But this is both the joy and the plight of the writer.

We are firmly contained within our own thought processes and life outside of our creative imaginings is often not as vibrantly rich or as fulfilling. I’m often guilty of switching off and slipping into my own make-believe zone as a potential whopper of an idea comes to mind. I often return to the present wide-eyed, wondering what I have missed. 

Not everyone can understand what it means to be a writer. Certainly, some people may not be supportive of your creative drive. This is because it is an alien occupation to many. It’s isolating and, time-consuming. You need to slip into the story-line, see it and feel it and become a watcher on the side lines of your own story. For family and friends, your writing passion may be just an annoyance, it takes you away from the family unit, it means you don’t listen to them or notice when those little jobs need doing. Often there’s a disbelief that it is possible to support yourself or to make a living through the written word. But whether you are as yet unpublished or, have started to carve out your niche as a writer, it’s more about the enjoyment of writing and of being able to satisfy those creative urges.

I think this….write because you need to, write because it feels good and write because you cannot imagine ever doing anything else. 



Why As A Writer, I love Teaching

Publishing

Annette Young

When I became a full-time writer…a million  years ago, I never (for a single moment) imagined that my former teaching role (for creative writing and journalism) would catch up with me once more but, I have to admit that I am very pleased that it did. Writing can be incredibly isolating, it’s certainly all-consuming. The hours vanish while lost in make-believe roles and fictional scenarios and scarily, the days begin to merge into one. While my job as a writer is incredibly varied, (I could be writing a course for a client in the morning, and, in the midst of a science fiction scene in the afternoon), it does require my absolute focus. There’s no time for clock-watching or of being bored. It’s just my imagination and the task at hand. In fact, I work far more hours than I ever did when employed. 

I do try to get away from the home office when I can and can often be found with my laptop tucked away in a corner of a local bar. There’s a good reason for this, the noise, the hustle and bustle of holiday-makers and locals alike detract from the quiet of the office where the silence can actually be deafening. Plus, I am drawn toward observing life as scenes play out in front of me. This way, I remain grounded, with one foot in reality, yet with my imagination firing up on all levels. In the same way, teaching also does this for me.

Having recently hosted a Novel Writing Course in the UK, it made me remember that every personal experience, every rejection letter in the early days and, subsequent publishing successes, are all important lessons to pass onto those who have a real desire to learn. The publishing industry is tough, it’s also more than a little fickle. Clarifying what works and what does not can help to save those new writers from months of hardship or failure. 

I am honoured and grateful to be in the position that I am. I love writing, I love helping other writers towards publication and I love teaching generally. How many people get to live the life they dream about? It’s only fair that I give back to other writers and, to all who wish to learn. Teaching is satisfying. I get to meet some wonderful like-minded people and then when it’s all over, I get to take those experiences and the shared memories back with me so I can enrich my own writing.

 

Creative Pulse Training and Events is currently being launched. Watch out for innovative, inspirational courses and events.

Don’t Be Fooled By Shiny Magic Buttons

buttons

buttons

by Annette Young

We live in a disposable society – do you know that?

People rarely want to work hard and climb the ladder towards the top of their chosen field, it’s all too easy to take shortcuts these days. With the onset of digital publishing, writers are a little like that too. I’m all for the great opportunities that companies such as Amazon have brought to the writing world, but it doesn’t mean that those who wish to jump onto the publishing band wagon should not provide high quality material.  Real writers- who have words running through their veins, have worked exceptionally hard to learn their craft and to earn their publishing stripes. They are proud of the work they produce and they market it with pride – and rightly so. We’ve probably all read some books that really should not have been published and that’s a shame.

But writers are drawn to the shiny magic button that says here’s how to bypass the learning stage. The promises of instant publication and churning out books in a matter of weeks is a nonsense of course. Or at least it is if you don’t have the skills or, the savvy to hire a good writer who can help you through.  What’s wrong with learning the craft? What’s wrong in experiencing the joy of watching your creative talents develop? If you avoid taking the shiny, magic button route, the end product means so much more to you.

I always think of it as the magpie effect – just because it’s shiny and appealing and you have the urge to click that button, doesn’t mean that your creative outpourings are going to be worthy. I’m all for people making the most of their creative skills, I’m all for helping non-writers achieve their publishing dream, but I am absolutely not for those who deep down know they cannot write, and yet, who offer the reader books of little value.

Do you know what that does? It de-values the written word.

If you want to be a writer, do it the good old-fashioned way and learn the craft. Ignore those adverts that say they can turn you into a  best-selling author overnight or, they can help you write your book in a weekend. Ignore those fake publishing companies who promise you all and deliver a big fat zero. It’s all nonsense and deep down you know that too. Ignore the shiny, magic button that promises all and delivers disappointment, either learn the craft fully and embrace the written word, or, if you don’t have time or the dedication, let a professional writer breathe life into your idea.

People used to dream of being a writer of merit, let’s bring that dream back.

Game, Set and Publication

Success at writing

 

Author Annette Young

I’m a huge tennis fan and even though I couldn’t get to Wimbledon this year, I have managed to take a little bit of time off to watch some of my favourite tennis players. Throughout this first week, watching the players embrace what must be a nerve-wracking experience – they reveal their skills, expertise and mistakes all on a public stage.

I found myself thinking that as writers, we are far luckier as we learn our craft, we can make our mistakes in private and the only witness is the sometimes overflowing waste-paper bin that holds captive our written mistakes. But, there is one thing that tennis players at this level of the game do so well, they don’t give in and they always believe that they can win. Nothing is more true than the tennis match of Serena Williams vs. Heather Watson. Steely determination gave Watson a fantastic chance to topple the women’s number one player from her lofty perch.

All credit to Williams for not giving up and for having great belief in her abilities. There’s no doubt they are plagued by doubts, William’s almost looked defeated at one point, but deep inside, these are professionals, they live and breathe tennis, they enhance their shot range, upgrade their skills, but they work on their mental focus too. They believe that they can do it. They visualise that coveted trophy in their hands and even when tested, they give their all.

So this led me to thinking about how much effort we put into achieving our publishing goals. Conviction is all-important and you have to consider whether you truly believe in your writing abilities. Are you determined to see your name on the front cover of a book or to earn your living from the written word? If you don’t believe, then you won’t achieve your true potential. It really is that simple. You have to study the work of great writers, analyse what works and what doesn’t. Sometimes, all it takes is strength of mind to take you beyond being a good writer. You might not be in the public domain as you carve out your career, but your intent should be no less than that of these tennis players.

Every word must count and every written project polished to its maximum potential.

Take a tip from the great achievers of the world – believe in yourself. This can escalate your potential to dizzy new heights. You’ll never win that coveted prize of publication if you don’t do something about it.

Sending Your Precious Bundle Out into the World

Letting go of your manuscript

Author Annette Youngby Annette Young

I always think that sending your writing out into the world for professional assessment is akin to sending your child out to school for the first time. You worry about that moment of arrival, whether the manuscript looks good and if the assessment will be kind and if your work will hold its own among all those other manuscripts.

Letting go of a manuscript after you have been toiling away on it for a long time is hard. You form an attachment to it, you want to protect it and you have to keep pandering to it. But at some point, you have to say that’s it. Package it up and send it out.

So, now that we’ve established the deep connection between the writer and any written material, think about your own feelings towards the novel or book that you may have been working on forever, what’s your instinct about sending it out? Is your manuscript ready? Do you feel ready? This is an emotional hurdle that you have to overcome if you really want to succeed in your writing goals. How will you know how good your writing is unless you take that leap of faith?

Fear of rejection is much stronger than actually being rejected. The reality is never pleasant but if you use it as a tool to get beyond it, you can achieve far more than you have ever imagined. Take it from me, sometimes that all-important first step turns into a huge leap and bound and you suddenly become more confident about your writing. It’s good to nurture, to care for and to put everything into your writing but at some point, you have to take a step back and view it dispassionately and then make the decision to let others read your work.

If you would like a professional opinion on your manuscript, take a look here.

 

 

How Far Will You Go To Pursue Your Passion?

by Annette YoungAuthor Annette Young

I have long since considered that to be a success in any field, you have to find that inner motivation and dedicate yourself to the cause. It’s all about setting your sights on the end goal and then making it happen. This means identifying your passions, identifying the route you need to take and learning how you can keep that motivation strong. If you are considering writing as a career or yearn to get your books published, then consider just how far you will go to make your dreams come true.

Inspiration comes in many shapes and forms. For me, touching base with nature is a natural boost to any flagging creativity. I work for a great many clients, on a great many (sometimes obscure) writing projects as well as on my own and sometimes I need to re-ignite that creative spark. Living in the Pyrenees Mountains and watching soaring birds of prey overhead is enough to revitalise my creative energies and despite the biting cold temperatures here, looking out over the snow-capped mountains makes me pinch myself and say, ‘hey, I am living the dream!’

Last night having finished my work for the day, I snuggled down under two duvets, (yes, it was that cold) to watch Snow Wolf Family and Me. Noting the enthusiasm and passion of Gordon Buchanan, a renowned wildlife cameraman who seems totally dedicated to his art and who spends many months apart from his family, isolated and in extreme conditions while recording incredible footage for television, it reminded me how dedicated some people are and the rewards they get for being so committed. There’s no doubt about his passion for nature and you simply can’t fake enthusiasm like that – especially in those freezing temperatures. He may have been lucky getting his big break, (sometimes it’s who you know) but, you don’t grow within your profession unless you are prepared to work your socks off and to be single-minded.

To be successful, you have to be self-motivated, dedicated and determined, you also have to drive forward bowling over any obstacles that litter the way so that you can reach that finishing line marked success. Believe me when I say I have bent over backwards to be in the position I am in now and at times, it’s been a risky adventure. My journey meant making many sacrifices, leaving my old life behind and setting out for foreign pastures so that I could be a full-time writer and carve out my niche in life. I won’t say it’s been easy, there’s been a few bitter disappointments and set-backs en-route but overall, it has been exciting.

Last night I gained great inspiration from watching that program, it reminded me of all that is important in the world and our place within it. Today, standing on my terrace watching the birds at the feeder with my breath frosted on the air, I viewed my surroundings and it was sensation overload. Who could not be inspired by the green rolling hills, surrounded by hardened mountain peaks, sentry-like and dominating the landscape?  I realised that uprooting my life from good ol’ England was the right one. If I hadn’t made the decision to change my life, I might have still been in my home town of Salisbury, (which I still hold dear) but I don’t think I would have progressed in the way that I was meant to. Sometimes you have to shake your life up and take risks. I loved the work that I did and the people I worked and socialised with but I knew I needed to write full-time and my driving passion was to escape to the South of France and to write my novel and, I did. Since then, I have written 14 books and every word has been a pleasure matched only by the satisfaction that I am living my life my way.

I guess it’s all about ascertaining what you really want in life. If you only have a vague idea, it’s probably not likely to drop in your lap gift-wrapped. You need to create the dream, visualise it, feel it and then express it. Don’t stop there though, work it. Put yourself on the line, let others give you feedback, learn from it, absorb it and then improve it – consistently. You don’t have to endure freezing temperatures and terrifying yet exhilarating situations for your art form like all those amazing wildlife professionals (unless you want to) but you do have to stand head and shoulders above everyone else in your creative guise and you must never rest on your laurels.

I have my inspiration but you simply have to find yours. Don’t just watch life on the sidelines – get out there and live it. Believe me, it will enrich your writing beyond belief and make your journey towards success that much more interesting.

Now think again, how far will you go to pursue your passion?

Looking into the Gorge

 

Writing Success – Imagine It, Touch It, Feel It.

Writing success

Author Annette Youngby Annette Young

Do you dream of being a successful author imagining your very first book signing or, about clasping that first copy of your book in your hands? Perhaps you just want to see your name in print or to win your first writing competition? Everyone who engages with the written word creatively has some idea of where they want their writing abilities to take them, and writing success is possible if you can imagine it with conviction.

I know that when I started out, I wanted to become published, I just wasn’t sure what I wanted to write, in fact, I tried just about everything. Going from one project to the next, ideas cascading in as I devoured each writing technique, hoping that with each new skill-set and a bit of luck, success was bound to be mine. Naive I may have been to think publishing success would drop gift-wrapped into my lap but, determination kept me striving forward.

Some of you will relate to that inner drive, that integral something that makes you need to create imaginary scenes, and dynamic and charismatic characters. I know that almost all my actions translated into how to conjure up scenes that were not only imaginable but that seemed real.

Visualising your goals is so important. It has to seem real to you before you can even start to make it happen. If you have doubts about your own potential, then you are as good as slamming the door in your own face. Everyone has doubts that holds them back but you have to put it into perspective. How much do you want writing success? As a creative writer, your imagination must be strong, you have to be able to picture success so acutely in your mind’s eye that it becomes almost a tangible thing. The more you see it, the more you can feel it and want to taste success.

What equals success for you? Everyone’s journey on the creative path is uniquely different but every obstacle is surmountable if you can approach it with determination. I used to see these stumbling blocks as a way of testing my resolve and that certainly worked for me. I surpassed my earlier goals but each day, week and month, I create new creative goals and imagine them becoming a reality too.

There is always a way to achieve your dreams, be it a book, a story or a film script. It might not be the easiest path but the harder the route, the more satisfying the taste of success.

 

 

Writing – When Less is More

The fiction writer

Annette Young - AuthorBy Annette Young

There’s no escaping from the fact that writing well means writing regularly. The craft of writing needs input but funnily enough, sometimes writing for a very short period of time can make you more productive. Blank page syndrome can often scupper your best intentions to have a productive day at home and it’s just typical when you have carefully arranged time to write, that those are the moments when the well of creativity dries up, packs up and leaves.

Of course it only returns when it is too late to try again.

If this sounds familiar, or, if it’s just impossible to invest too much time in your writing currently, do yourself a favour and keep inspiration afloat by setting up ultra fast, highly pressured mini-sessions. It doesn’t matter where you are either, find ten minutes before work, in your tea break or at lunch time, simply watch the clock and then write furiously for ten minutes until you run out of time.

Initially, your writing might not be as free flowing as you would like. It might be a little disjointed or less than perfect, but that doesn’t matter. You will be amazed at how much you can get done in just ten minutes and you are training yourself to respond creatively on demand. It works because you  know you only have a limited period of time to perform and that’s it.

Of course you can adjust the time to suit your schedule but everyone can manage ten minutes, whether on the train, on the bus, in a cafe or before collapsing into bed at night.

Incidentally, these little writing sessions can really boost your connection with the written word too.

 

Writing Tips – What To Do When Your Brain Says Go Away!

Brain

Annette Young - Authorby Annette Young

I love writing for a living. It’s not always the easiest job, but for me, it is the most satisfying. Even on those days when the words fail to come, I know it’s just a temporary lull in my creativity. There are days though when you may start to wonder whether a stick of dynamite might be the only thing that will explode your brain into operating again. I know from experience that there are a number of things that can stop productivity – too much stress, too much alcohol, not enough sleep, and, perhaps surprisingly, a lack of deadlines nipping at the heels.

There have been times when I have pinned myself to the chair, gazed in desperation at my blank screen, rubbed my head furiously, and even growled at myself a few times, all to no avail. Eventually, I have moved away from my desk, resorting to a last method, relinquishing the hoover from its cupboard prison, preferring the mundane action of cleaning, to the desperation of trying to write.

So sitting down waiting for the words to come, is not really the answer. It’s not writers block per se, it’s as if the brain is taking time off, but often when you need your creativity the most. Like today, I knew today was going to be tough. I woke up with a headache, I didn’t feel energetic or creative but I had so much work to get on with it, I wasn’t even sure where to start. I hate days like this when even the slightest task is like climbing a mountain.  Annoyingly, I even turned down the chance for a day out in the French countryside because I  needed to get my head down and to get on with it. In reality, the day out would have probably done the trick, but I knew that I couldn’t spare the time.

My tricks of the trade to overcome that fuzzy, foggy headed feeling include this selection of writing tips:

  • Switch projects, choose a different writing task and this will free those words.
  • Write a to-do list. Works well if you are overwhelmed with the workload.
  • Edit. If you are writing a book this is easy. Spend time editing a previous chapter and this will have you buzzing with ideas in no time.
  • Drink water. You might be dehydrated and fuzzy minded as a result. Have a bottle of water next to you on your desk.
  • Get outside. Just a change of scenery can click your brain into gear, breathe in some fresh air and let the oxygen revitalise your brain.
  • Exercise. When I can’t think, I go out onto my terrace and practise my yoga and switch off the creative process, when finished, I feel better, more in control.
  • Pick up the hoover, nothing will make you want to write more than having to do a bout of cleaning.
  • Read. Flick through a magazine, look at the reader’s letters, imagine writing a reply or actually do so if it gets those words onto paper.
  • Write down all the reasons why you love to write. By the end of your list, you will at least have remembered your attachment to the written word and feel more motivated.
  • Watch the news. Write a torrent of words that describe how you feel about the latest atrocity.
  • Visualise.  Think about your story, your article or your book, try to bring it all to life, but don’t think about writing.

You will find that once you have stopped the, ‘ I can’t think’ thought process, the words will come. Sometimes, the brain just needs oiling so that you can get those words out. Your brain might say go away, but you need to try to trick it to make it perform.

You may  have many more tricks to overcome those stagnant writing moments, feel free to share them in the comments section.

Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late

Author/Editor Annette YoungWith the sad demise of actor/comedian Rik Mayall recently, it got me thinking about how we conduct our lives and play out our dreams. We think that we have all the time in the world to achieve our goals but the harsh reality is that we don’t. Although it’s easy to see that Rik Mayall more than achieved in his 56 years, many of us don’t and we need to question why.

Some people have a passion in life and strive forward determinedly, others may have opportunities presented to them but even so, the secret to success is that these people clutch those opportunities with both hands and do not let self-doubts or time restraints hold them back.

We are all guilty of procrastination. There are times when I feel the urge to do anything bar write. Tiredness, stress or even the enjoyable social aspects of life can actually all get in the way of our true path. This post isn’t a stark reminder of our mortality rather, a reminder that if you have a dream, don’t wait, get on with it.

There is nothing more painful than regret and knowing that you could have done so much better. Although my passion is writing, the message here can relate to all goals in life. No-one knows what lies ahead of them. Life is rosy and longevity may seem certain when your health is good, but health and circumstances can change rapidly. As much as it will be terribly painful for Rik Mayall’s family, he leaves behind a multitude of visual reminders and he will stay alive in the memories of all who admired him, what aspects of your life will you leave behind? How would you want others to remember you? If you have a dream, writing a novel, a play, or even getting a short story published, don’t think about it, or dream about it, do it. Start now and know that you put your heart and soul into something that is important to you.

None of us want to think ‘if only’ when our time is up.

Writers – Why You Should Sweat the Small Stuff

Author/Editor Annette Youngby editor/author Annette Young

As a writer, you have to build up a vivid picture for your reader. You might have a definite plan in your mind, but unless you can transfer those thoughts and paint those images with words, capturing them forever within the plot, your reader will not grasp the story as comprehensively as you would like.

I am lucky where I live in that the Pyrenees Mountains provide a huge source of inspiration for me. I look out of my window and I see snow-capped mountains, I turn my head in a slightly different direction and I see the rising tower of a church spire peeking from the green shrouded scenery of a small French village opposite me. I am surrounded by the picturesque scenery that provides me with the inspiration I  need, someone else might become inspired by being surrounded with people, or dynamic architectural designs that form complex concrete structures. It doesn’t matter where you are or the things that you see, being able to immerse yourself in your own environment is the most important aspect as is, having the technical skills to relay this information in a compelling way to those who read your work.

I went for a walk the other day, climbing higher into the foothills and I followed little roads that meandered through farmland and valleys. Having re-developed my love of bird-watching, my idea was to see as much wildlife as I could but as typically happens when I walk, I start think. I think about new characters, settings, possible locations and create descriptive scenarios in my mind. At one point, mesmerised by the clusters of striking flowers that adorned the hedgerows, I thought about the work that goes into creating just a small passage in any book. Importantly, it has to be accurate and revealing. There’s no point my just writing about yellow flowers, it means nothing to the reader really, I would have to say the clusters of vibrant flowers that rose on stalks from the rough and tumble grasses and how the Great Yellow Gentian draws the eye to its significant form.

A writer should always check their facts too.Find out what month a particular flower blooms and to ensure that they do actually grow in the location chosen. It’s important because someone is bound to know and as a writer, you can lose credibility if you get it wrong. Similarly, if I say I watched as a kestrel hovered high over the freshly cut crops hunting for prey, I have to ensure that in my area, kestrels are resident. Although this is a fairly safe bet, there will be examples that are revealed as obvious mistakes if you are not careful.

This is especially important if you are writing about a particular place. I remember providing published novel samples to my writing students at college one day. The excerpt was  from one of my favourite authors and I loved her descriptive passages that held the power to conjure up balmy summer nights, or dreamy beach scenes in tropical island paradises. At least I did until one student said that those particular flowers described did not bloom during those months. She knew the area well and was adamant as a gardening enthusiast that she was right and who am I to argue the point? It certainly gave me food for thought. Creative licence goes a long way but for a little bit of research, a fictional novel can still be accurate and actually come alive for the reader.

So do I think writers need to sweat the small stuff? Absolutely, especially if they want their work to seem credible. We all want to possess the writing skills needed to paint vivid imagery with our words, so why not take inspiration from the world around you, or at least, do the necessary research if you are writing about an area that is unfamiliar to you? It can make all the difference.

Writing Success – Ten Minutes A Day

successful writingby Annette Young

Ten minutes a day, that really is all that is needed for writing success. In fact, I would say that the more time you have, the less productive you may be. I know it can be difficult to juggle work and family demands, I did just that for many years. I had a husband (ex now) who was grumpy if I disappeared into another room, laptop tucked under my arm and, who did not (would not understand) my need to write.

I had a full-time job and a part-time job teaching and I had already taken the first tentative steps towards writing professionally. I also had a disabled mother and as you can imagine, there were times when I had to drop everything to be with her as her health fluctuated up and down. Believe me when I say that I juggled profusely to fit everything in.

This is why I can honestly say, hand on heart, that ten minutes a day will do wonders for your writing. If you are a morning person, get up that little bit earlier and write then. I did my ten minutes during my lunch hour. I would get away from my desk and eat my sandwiches sometimes in the grounds of Salisbury Cathedral. I would spend a few minutes first absorbing the life that moved around me. I soaked up the atmosphere of the ancient building, I relaxed in the beautiful grounds and I would shrug off the stresses of the day. Then, I would write as fast as I could, timing myself to see how many words I could capture.

Were those short paragraphs perfect for publication? No, of course not. Sometimes I even struggled to read my own handwriting.

On rainy days, I used to try to find a quiet corner at work and to blot out the noise of a busy office environment and to let ideas flood through me. Sometimes the words were like a hard knot in my head, at other times they poured in fluidic motion out onto paper and I felt creatively satiated.

The point I am trying to make though is that a mere ten minutes a day of concentrated writing will be enough to train your brain and to make you ultra productive when you need to write. On those days when you sit at home and have hours at your disposal to write, isn’t it typical that those are the times when words do not come? Do you imagine them deliberately resisting your desperate pleas, knowing that the more stressed you become, the less likely that they will appear. Ten minutes of successful writing is worth more than an hour of hair pulling, head scratching and lots of screwed up efforts in the waste-paper bin.

If you find that ideas do not come on demand, write down a few enticing titles the day before, even allow your mind to mull over the words, teasing out new ideas and creating a series of what-if scenarios. Spend your ten minutes writing opening paragraphs to exciting new stories and then the following day, continue to write the next paragraphs and so on. Keep your brain challenged and don’t be afraid to push yourself creatively. If you can find just ten minutes a day to write, you can be successful. You just have to make yourself work at it.

“Image courtesy of [David Castillo Dominici] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”.

Write Little and Often – Even if You Have to Nail Yourself to the Chair

make yourself writeby Annette Young

Nailing yourself to the chair is a kind of extreme way of making yourself write, although there have been times when I would have almost considered anything to try to make myself get into the writing mood. I do know how important it is to keep the flow of words coming even on those off -days when a writing task that might take one hour usually could easily treble to three. Without doubt, there will be times when the last thing you want to do is to be creative, you are tempted with a million reasons to do anything but write and yet, you can’t give into this mental lethargy. You have to do something to get those words out of your head and onto paper .

I got up this morning, went into my office, took one look at the ever rising pile of paperwork and almost walked straight back out. My brain felt muddled, I couldn’t think about the workload and the deadlines, in fact, they were probably the reason why my brain said no -not happening today. If I had forced myself into the chair and started working, progress would have been very slow. Instead, trying to look marginally awake, I headed straight out in the hopes that it would spark up some sort of creative thinking.

It worked. Scurrying clouds lined in silver gave way to glorious sunshine and a golden glow to everything, the flowers, the blossom,even the grass developed a more vibrant shade of green. Instead of thinking, I just allowed myself to become a part of the scene. I took the pressure off myself to perform and instead, just inwardly absorbed.  I carried on walking for a bit and cleared my mind,  mentally dusting off cobwebs from my brain.

I watched a plane fly overhead cutting a trail through the clouds and imagined just for a moment where those people might be going, then, giggles broke the silence, and I watched a young girl chasing after her dog as it scurried down a quiet lane enjoying the game. As I turned I saw an old man, his face lined, eyes kind, sitting quietly, contemplating life and observing. He seemed comfortable in his spot, relaxed.

This is what we have to do sometimes as writers.

Sure there is a time to sit yourself down and go through the pain of writing when the words won’t come, but at other times, escape, just for a little bit. Tell yourself that this is part of the writing process. We may live in our imaginations but sometimes, we have to take a deep breath and touch base with all that is around us.  Then when recharged, we go back to our writing space and we sit and let words flow, even if the words mean very little and are disjointed. We have to write little and often and then we can usually beat the creative slump, and the words flow suddenly thick and fast. But on the days where it is impossible, go outside, and take ten minutes to connect with the world, take a few deep breaths and remember that as writers we capture the essence of all that is around us. When those all important minutes are up, we get back on the creative track and we let the words out.

Remember Writing for Pleasure?

Author, Editor Annette Youngby Annette Young

Many freelance writers, who write full-time, will agree that to survive within the publishing world, there are constant pressures to seek out new publishing outlets and to continually strive for the regular publication of new articles.

To the outsider looking in, life may seem sweet, with hours to suit, no trudging to work in the wind and rain, or working at a job you despise, however, freelancers vary rarely work the traditional 9-5 and working a five day week is almost unheard of. There are no steady hours in the freelance writer’s world. Any time off is often spent researching new material, absorbing daily events or at least mentally planning for the next interview. Even time spent away on holiday cannot prevent the Freelancer from planning the next travel article and taking notes and photographs of places of interest-just in case.

Professional writers work long and sometimes unsociable hours, in their attempt to make a living. Life is governed by possible rejections, disappointments and extreme highs when an article is finally accepted for publication. Freelance writers these days have to not only be creative, inventive, and resilient, but are expected to be experts in niche areas and able to market themselves to boot!

Although, most established freelance writers would not swap their existence for a steady 9-5 job, it is easy to see how some writers buckle under the severe pressure, living life by their wits, having to constantly budget their money for months ahead. They can become jaded with this continual pressure. The very source of their writing essence can dry up, leaving them struggling for both ideas and direction.

Freelancers become so used to writing for deadlines, targeting a specific house style, and then double-checking their facts that sometimes, it is easy to forget that writing can and should be fun.

For any writer who has been in this situation, then take heart; the all-important batteries can be recharged. Just take a step back momentarily and cast your mind back to the good old days. Writing stories or poems then were a labour of love, you wrote from the heart or from your soul, because mood dictated and not because you needed to make a profit.

It is time to tune in to good old inspiration.

Writing can be therapeutic; it can channel anger and sadness, releasing bottled emotions, allowing the tension to slip away as you become immersed within your story line.

In this day and age, freelance writers cannot afford to write for pleasure very often. Time becomes very precious, with rigorous schedules in place to enable them to succeed in a competitive market; ambitions often drive them to breaking point. But every now and then, it is important to re-evaluate their values and write purely for pleasure, for release and for satisfaction.

Think back to the moment when you realised you wanted to be a writer. What was it about writing that attracted you the most? Was it the unique opportunity to be able to glimpse into a different world or see life through another’s eyes? Did the lyrical qualities of poetry inspire you to put pen to paper or did you feel untapped creativity surging through your body as inspiration come to life?

When we write for ourselves, we do not need to worry about word count or house style, our tensions evaporate as we become one with our subject. When our creative juices are exhausted, we feel contented again. These words are not wasted, even if they may never be published, they are just ways of channelling your feelings and they enable you to remember, why you became a writer in the first place.

Hone your skill, perfect your art, but when life gets too much, take time out to lose yourself in your creativity and just write for pure pleasure.

Writers – Create A Dream Diary

dreaming creative successBy Annette Young

How many times have you forced yourself to sit in front of a computer and waited for inspiration to strike?Most of us have done so at some point, whether just starting out or even an experienced published writer have suffered from the proverbial writers block or have struggled to kick-start their creativity.

Sometimes ideas just flow and writing our article or story is easy. Inspiration flows over us like waves and the subsequent finished piece is almost word perfect and requires very little editing. But for those times when inspiration is on holiday or worse, on strike, help yourself to master those off -days by creating a dream diary.

If you are one of those unfortunate people who believe that they rarely dream or at least have trouble remembering them, a dream diary is obviously going to be a problem.But you can train yourself to remember your dreams in the mornings, but this may take time and practice.

Try leaving a notepad by your bed or invest in a Dictaphone, so at least if you do wake up during or after your dream, you can leave instant notes for yourself. Just in case on falling back asleep, you eliminate all memory of this wonderful plot.

Even nightmares can be a useful aid to creating a masterpiece, so next time you experience one, look to the positive, and tell yourself that this is going to help you get work published. For those interested in the meaning of dreams, invest in a good book, and not only can you create a great story but you can also work out what made you dream this particular scenario in the first place. It may well provide answers to questions in your everyday life.

As a child, I had the same recurring dream where I was in my back garden and a dinosaur type large red bird, chased me from one length of the garden right up to my back door, and I only just managed to slam the door shut and lock it with only seconds to spare. Scary? Of course…but the experience helped me to be able to pace my stories and to link tension into the right places of my plot.

I have often wondered what psychologists would make of my numerous and often odd, dream sequences and it is probably just as well that they have never been analysed by anyone other than myself. Although your dream may be vivid and almost overwhelming in its clarity, in the cold reality of daylight, many flaws can be seen with creative enlightenment. But remember, your dream is there to prompt you with a possible story line, it is not set in stone and you do not have to copy it, stage by stage.

Use it to express yourself in a new and different way. It may also be useful to close your eyes and to see if you could try to re-live your dream in your minds eye. Remember what you felt, sights, sounds, familiar scents, allow yourself to forget the present and immerse yourself back in your dream.

You will be amazed at how much you find you can remember and new scenarios may well fall into place as you practice this gentle meditation.I once dreamed a whole episode of Star Trek, complete with regular cast, a few new characters thrown in and of course, I took the lead role in the drama. I have never attempted to write an episode for television and one for a program, which relies on much sci-fi jargon would probably not be for my first attempt, however, the plot (if I say so myself) was exceptional and it is recorded in my dream diary for future use.

Whilst there would be very few changes to the initial plot, I was surprised by the amount of technical knowledge sustained which proved to me just how much information our subconscious thought process retains and then subsequently uses in the course of our nightly shenanigans.If you are lucky and your creative tact needs no prompting, you will not need to refer to your dream diary all that often, however, it can be interesting to read back over your entries over a period of time and ascertain just how far your imagination has taken you.

Just remember, in your dreams you are not restricted by earthly ties and you can let your imagination loose in the knowledge that inspiration is guiding you.Using a dream diary allows you to access your creative zone deep in the dark recesses of your mind and to harness that creative power. Do not waste this opportunity to provide original thought provoking ideas, just remember to record them carefully.

Ideas are gold dust and could, one day earn you a great deal of money as well as providing an insight into a side of your personality very rarely seen.

 

 

“Image courtesy of [graur codrin] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”.

 

 

Writing Ideas – Stimulate Your Inner Creativity

creative writing ideas

 

By Annette Young

Writing ideas are needed in abundance if you are planning to become a professional writer at some point. For many would-be writers, it is not their ability to write well and with passion that is the difficulty but the ability to generate good, solid writing ideas and this of course is paramount to success. Acquiring this ability is not too difficult; it is merely a matter of changing your mind-set so that you can view the world and its contents through different eyes and once you are able to do this, writing ideas should flow.

Writing ideas come in all shapes and forms and inspiration can strike in the strangest ways such as a flippant remark, a TV ad, a photo or maybe even a song lyric. To start stimulating your inner creativity so that you can generate many writing ideas, begin by studying the following:

– Practice people watching, people really do and say the funniest things, there is just so much human interest and untapped potential all around you that you may as well make use of it. Be discreet however.

– Keep a writing journal. Whenever you do get an idea, make sure to note it because even if it is not relevant currently, at some point, it could be just the idea you crave.

– Go for a long walk. Fresh air and beautiful scenery is wonderful for clearing flagging creativity. Writing ideas need stimulation and by experiencing natural beauty all around, you are bound to become inspired.

– Meet up with other writers. Writing can be such a lonely and isolating occupation that by meeting others it is possible to become inspired through conversation with others who share your passion for the written word. Join a local writing group or attend a college course or join our FaceBook group and interact. These suggestions will help you to be able to focus on the areas of improvement you need.

– Practise writing ‘what if’ scenarios. These are quick and easy writing tasks which require one or two paragraphs relating to a person, conflict or a theme and this can help break down writers block and open up the creative channels.

Providing you keep an open mind and a natural curiosity for the world around you, you will start to rediscover your potential for discovering fresh writing ideas.

 

“Image courtesy of [renjith krishnan] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”.

Freelance Writing – From Low Budget to Healthy Budget

Editor, Author Annette YoungFreelance writing is difficult. It’s hard in the current climes. There are several reasons for this. Clients have less money in their budgets to pay and even if they don’t, they see that writers are prepared to work for next to nothing. There is another reason too. There are more writers out there. Writers at varying levels of experience, and some who may be forced into the industry to look for paid work. I know many people who have dusted off their laptops and started writing to help supplement their own waning income.

These writers will understandably charge less and their need to do so is because they desperately need to boost their income. Fair point. For many, life sucks in terms of business, bills and the constant drain on their money. So, assuming that these writers can hold their own in a competitive marketplace – welcome, dip your toes in at your ‘slightly’ reduced rate, have a paddle, gain some great writing credits and then join the ranks of those who charge a fair price for their work. After all, you will have earned it.

But cutting your teeth in freelancing terms is not always easy. When I started, I didn’t know anything about pricing my work and probably got ripped off, spending hours slaving away when I didn’t need to, but of course, you soon learn. What I did find though that sometimes charging a little less when actively seeking out a new area in which to write, worked well. I will give you an example. Many years ago, I was working as a writer/trainer and had been quietly chalking up published writing credits in my free time. In the health arena, I could command a decent rate and I had credits to prove it. Then one day I spotted an ad for someone wanting martial arts articles and the price per article was lower than my usual rate but, I really wanted to get the job. I love martial arts and in my youth, yes, many, many, many years ago, I used to belong to a martial arts club and seriously lived and breathed it. So, writing about it was for me an enjoyable venture.

Writing was not my main income but it enabled me to have a good quality of life and I got to cherry-pick the work I did. It was great. I got the job writing 10 articles and even though, I charged a bit less than for my health articles, it was worth it for me. I hasten to add it was not the 1 USD per article rate that I rant about.  Dropping my rates worked at that point because the client loved my enthusiasm and the quality of work and I received a great deal of work from him for over a year. That one little job really boost my income in the coming months and I went on to write about topics that I didn’t even know anything about. It was great for me as I built credits up in a lot of new areas and, I got good pay as the time went on and great feedback.

Sometimes, I can see how writing for a little less can be  a good thing. But it is important that you always aim for a healthy budget if you are freelancing. Do what feels right for you, unless it is working for next to nothing. Stop it. Think about your end goal and the time it takes you to do a job. Even now, I miscalculate the length of time for a particular job. So learn from  your mistakes but always tell yourself what your financial writing goals are and work steadily towards them.

If you are a low budget freelance writer, re-evaluate today. You don’t need to be. I know that writing is a competitive world at the moment but there is good paid work out there. Sometimes you need to consider your options. What are your areas of expertise? Write about those and carve out a nice little niche for yourself. Have several areas of expertise? Great. Two areas where you can earn extra money.

No-one should have to have a low wage and just scrape through but I am a firm believer that you create your own opportunities. Don’t just rely on job sites, get the word out there about your skills and back it up with quality writing. If you can’t write well, then get out of the freelance writing game. Don’t muddy the water for those who need to earn a living from the written word. Instead, learn the craft, take a writing course, study, write, study until you are proficient. Then come back and test the waters.

This way, you can command a healthy wage and actually enjoy the whole writing experience.

Where Do You Like To Write?

where do you like to write

by Annette Young

When I was searching for photos for the website, I came across this one and it immediately made me think about places where writers gain inspiration. Now, I have never gone as far as sitting in a tree to type but I do tend to have my laptop glued to me and it is literally a case of ‘have laptop, will travel’.

I love sitting in cafes and absorbing life around me. Somehow the constant noise and hustle and bustle is both soothing and inspirational. Even the clatter of spoons and the whirring sound of the coffee machines are not a distraction.

I think this is because writing is a lonely occupation. It is only when you work as a writer on a full-time level that you can see just how isolating it is. Most of your work – whether fiction or non-fiction comes from deep within and so, breaking away from the home environment is a great way to recharge those all-important creative juices and just indulge in a little slice of life.

I regularly travel so it’s not unusual to see me with my laptop out and working while on the train. I have traveled extensively through France and the UK and inevitably have my laptop  or notebook with me so I can quickly type up an article or blog post. People watching while on the train is always interesting. Everyone is lost in their own little world of captive boredom. For a writer it can be inspirational and easy to make up stories about the passengers. Who are they? Where are they going and why?

It’s also fun to make note of mannerisms, character traits and even accents and a tone of voice does not fail to come under scrutiny. Importantly, being away from the desk and in the middle of a group of people allows you to think about things that you would not normally perhaps. I have also written on buses and coaches although you really do need a small laptop and an ability to bend your body into a scrunched position to succeed.

I have even taken my small laptop with me on walks in the countryside and picnics so that I can still fit in some writing. Perhaps capture the beauty of flowers nearby, or to describe the sound of flowing water over rocks. I remember even sitting on a clifftop once, looking out over the jagged edges to the sea, where the sky and ocean met in a band of blended blue and dolphins jumped elegantly from the rising waves. What better way to capture life on paper than to view it and then relay it instinctively?

So this all made me think about where you like to go and write. Do you have a favourite spot where you can indulge your writing passion? Why not share it?

Scroll down to the comments box way down at the bottom of the page and tell us about your special spots and why. They don’t have to be weird or wacky but let’s break the isolation of writing  a little by sharing with others who are also passionate about the written word.

 

 

 
“Image courtesy of [just2shutter] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”.

Silence Self-Limitations

screwed up paperby Annette Young

We are all guilty of allowing self-limitations to hold us back. We might not think about them, we might not even want to admit that we hold back from our creative dreams but the chances are that these self-limitations perform a stranglehold on our publishing aspirations.

I know I was guilty of this when I picked up my first professional writing job many years ago. I kept looking at the project overview and experienced real moments of panic wondering why on earth I had said I could write. At that moment, my instinct was to backtrack from the project quickly and to tell the client I could not do it. Fighting back those feelings of doubt, I managed to start and finish the project and yes, I even enjoyed it.

Thank goodness I managed to silence my own self-doubts and banished those self-limiting thoughts because my life would have been very different I think if I had not persevered.

So if you think that you might be guilty of not going all out for your publishing dream, you may be wondering what you can do to overcome these inner shackles.

1. Imagine how productive you might be if you could approach every writing project with supreme confidence and to know that you could not fail. Although even the most professional and successful of writers have doubts, they don’t let those insecurities stop them from relishing their creative moments.

2. You might want to be a writer, but are you really passionate and totally committed to your writing? If yes, it is easier to just enjoy the creative process and to worry later. To be successful, you have to be prepared to just go for it and this means making mistakes and learning from them.

3. Do you believe that you could be a successful writer? You might know that there are grounds for improvement, but deep down, can you picture the moment you gain publication or win a writing competition? You need to keep that image dangling in front of you as it will keep you striving forward.

4. Plan your writing times wisely. Work at those times when you feel the most creative but make no mistake, you have to be able to channel your creative thoughts at times which become available to  you suddenly. If you can do this, you will also sharpen your mindset and really start to believe in yourself.

5. The next time that you start to doubt yourself, write down all the reasons why you want to be a writer. When you have finished, write down all the reasons why you might not want to write and the chances are that one word will be prevalent – fear. The best way to deal with fear is to acknowledge it and to face it head on. It is the best way to silence those self-limitations.

 

“Image courtesy of [gubgib] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”.

Top Ten Pinterest Tips for Writers

By Donna Shepherd

The social network Pinterest is growing quickly as users post images and links to a virtual pinboard.

The official definition from Pinterest:

“Pinterest lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and organize their favorite recipes. Best of all, you can browse pinboards created by other people. Browsing pinboards is a fun way to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests.”

Here are my top ten tips for writers in particular, although many will apply to anyone learning to use Pinterest.

1. Post your favorite books on your personal Pinterest page by adding images of all the books you love in your life.

You will probably want to have one board devoted to your books and that’s fine, but be sure to have other boards devoted to books and authors you like and different topics that interest you. Avoid giving the impression that your Pinterest profile is being used solely to promote yourself. Be sure to follow the site’s rule: “Pinterest is designed to curate and share things you love. If there is a photo or project you’re proud of, pin away! However, try not to use Pinterest purely as a tool for self-promotion.”

2. Find other writers on Pinterest and follow their examples. Use a board for characters, clothing, research, and scenes.

3. Someone said a Pinterest board is like your high school locker (remember those?) as it is a way to show your readers what interests and inspires you as well as what you’re working on right now.

4. Look for book recommendations or comment on other boards in the Film, Music, & Books Section.

5. Share writing tools, stationery, journals, books and writing-related items in the “Gifts” section.

6. Use #hashtags and keywords. Much like on Twitter, tagging your pins with trending hashtags or keywords will help you find new followers. Searching for other pins and boards using hashtags will also help you find similar brands on Pinterest to follow.

7. Add the Pinterest bookmarklet to your browser’s bookmarks bar. This is a time-saver, because it allows you to easily pin things you find while browsing without going to the Pinterest website first. To get it, visit the rel=nofollow [http://pinterest.com/about/goodies/]Pinterest Goodies page and drag the “Pin It” button to your browser toolbar. Now, when you see something you want to pin, click the bookmarklet and you’ll be prompted to create a new pin. Be sure to scroll to the correct board for each pin.

Another vital tip from Pinterest – “If you notice that a pin is not sourced correctly, leave a comment so the original pinner can update the source. Finding the original source is always preferable to a secondary source such as Google Image Search or a blog entry.”

8. This tip has saved me a lot of time. If you’re pinning an image from a website using the Pinterest bookmarklet, you can highlight some of the text on that page before you hit “Pin It” and the text will automatically show up in the description box. Still edit and add hashtags.

9. You can also tag other Pinterest users by using the @ symbol with their Pinterest user name. You have to be following at least one of their boards. That user will see the pin, and it will link to their Pinterest profile. Use this tip to help promote each other on Pinterest.

10. And finally, cross-post to your Twitter and Facebook accounts. When you pin something to one of your boards, you are given the option of posting to your Twitter account as well. Under your ‘settings,’ click ‘on’ under “Publish Activity to Facebook Timeline.” In this way when you pin, you’re actually posting to three different places at once. Now that’s muti-tasking!

Donna J. Shepherd has hundreds of articles and devotionals to her credit. Her children’s books feature short, playful rhymes and humorous illustrations. Her newest book for children is “Ava’s Secret Tea Party” – available in both paperback and hardcover.

Donna’s devotionals and stories appear in Daily Grace for Women, Anytime Prayers for Everyday Moms, and The Best Grandma in the World to name a few. Her newest release is a ‘hen-lit’ called “Love Under the Bubble Wrap – a novelette.”

For more writing tips, useful links, and updates about Donna’s books, visit her Fan Page at [http://www.facebook.com/donnajshepherd]http://www.facebook.com/donnajshepherd.

Donna’s Pinterest boards, a hodgepodge of recipes, crafts, interesting and funny pictures (Bonus tip – funny pins gets re-pinned more often!), favorite books, and more are at http://www.pinterest.com/donnashepherd

How to Write a Psychological Thriller

By Tabitha Levin

There are many different types of thriller stories, ranging from action adventure, mystery, crime, courtroom, and even paranormal. But there is one genre of this type that is different from the rest because it focuses more on the emotional aspects of the story, rather than the action. And that type of story is the psychological thriller.

Step 1: Write Your Outline

There are many different opinions on how to write a psychological thriller, but probably the most common is that you should start with an outline since it gives you a road map to adhere to when you are writing.

The reason that this is important for this type of book, is that you need to get the suspense elements right, and having a guideline of what you want to achieve will help you keep on track.

Step 2: Have Good Clear Characters

Unlike other genres, you need to make sure that you define your characters completely in your story, since most of the plot will revolve around their emotional reactions to certain situations. Are they weak and run at the first sign of danger? Do they have a past issue with something that is now haunting them again?  Explaining not only how they react, but why, is the key to making them real.

The same goes for the baddie of the story. Since the antagonist is usually the one heaping the emotional stress on the protagonist, you need to make them clear in their intentions as well. Are they doing it for revenge? Fun? Because they know something about the hero that they want to reveal to the world?

Often you’ll find that the good guy and bad guy are emotional opposites of each other. One will be strong and resourceful, and the other weak but single minded. By the end, the hero will usually always overcome whatever issues they have and be able to beat the antagonist at their own game.

Step 3: Get Into Your Characters Minds

Since most of the fear and suspense will be happening in your characters mind, you need to let the reader see this fear that the character is experiencing. If the character jumps at the sound of a branch snapping, you need to make the reader feel that same terror with your writing. This takes practice to get right, but slowing down the action and focusing on every gust of wind, every hair that is sticking up on the back of the characters neck, will help create that mood. [http://www.squidoo.com/thriller-stories]Thriller stories, especially psychological driven ones, are increasingly popular with readers and being able to thrill and excite your audience is the key to becoming a successful writer in this genre.

Tabitha writes short thrillers (amongst other things). You can find out more about her books at her website: http://tabithalevin.com/category/action-suspense-short-stories

Article Source: [http://EzineArticles.com/?How-to-Write-a-Psychological-Thriller&id=7180999] How to Write a Psychological Thriller

Want to Be a Writer? These Tips Will Help to Make Your Dream Come True

By Harriet Hodgson

Last week I met a writer who had one book published. Since his book sells well, and he speaks to groups across the country, he thought about writing a second book. But he didn’t take action on this idea. “Writing is too much work,” he admitted, “so I just revised my existing book.”

This writer speaks the truth. Whether it is a novel, mystery, history, self-help, poetry, children’s book, sports book, or another genre, writing is hard work. You also have to deal with submission guidelines, editors, deadlines, and marketing. In short, your work isn’t done when your book is done.

Writers also have to deal with comments from readers. During my 35+ years as a writer I have received compliments and thoughtless comments. One man was disappointed when one of my books was released. “I was going to write that,” he complained. However, I researched the topic, spent weeks on the outline, spent months on writing, and submitted the manuscript to publishers.

I acted upon my book idea and he did not.

Many people have approached me and said they wanted to write a book. When I ask what they are working on at the moment, however, the answer is always the same — nothing. I have never met a would-be writer who was working on anything. By definition, writers are supposed to write. If you want your book published, you need to create a body of work.

Volunteering may also help you reach your dream of becoming a writer. You may serve as volunteer editor of your church newsletter, for example, or write articles for the public library newsletter. I wrote a brochure for a local community group and you could do something similar. Over time, your volunteer efforts will become a body of work and prove, without a doubt, that you are a writer.

Community education and college courses may also help you to achieve your dream. Taking courses proves, yet again, that you are serious about becoming a writer. Keep a file or files of everything you write to track your progress. If you don’t have a resume, now is the time to create one. List courses, volunteer efforts, and completed manuscripts on your resume.

These tips helped me to achieve my dream of becoming a writer and I hope they help you.

Write every day. You may write letters, blog postings, short articles, or work on a book outline.
Find your genre. This may take some time, but keep at it.
Research publishers in your genre. Never submit a manuscript to a publisher that you have not researched.
Work on a one-page query letter. Put it away and take it out in a few weeks. Make any revisions you think are necessary.
Create a resume, including all of your volunteer writing positions.
Update your resume regularly.
Keep a file of submissions and rejects. Hopefully, this file will eventually include acceptances.
Be persistent. If you don’t believe in you, others will not either.
Consider self-publishing. In this sagging economy many writers are going directly to self-publishing and the Kindle or Nook. Before you sign on the dotted line, however, investigate the publisher and read reviews on the Internet.

Copyright 2012 by Harriet Hodgson http://www.harriethodgson.com

Harriet Hodgson is the author of 31 published books, including six grief resources. For the first time in her writing career, two of her books were released simultaneously — “Happy Again! Your New and Meaningful Life After Loss” and “Help! I’m Raising My Grandkids: Grandparents Adapting to Life’s Surprises.” Please visit her website and learn more about this busy author and grandmother.

Article Source: [http://EzineArticles.com/?Want-to-Be-a-Writer?-These-Tips-Will-Help-to-Make-Your-Dream-Come-True&id=7163352] Want to Be a Writer? These Tips Will Help to Make Your Dream Come True

Write What You Can Know Well – 10 Internet Sources for Research

by Mike Evan

A longstanding maxim within the writing craft has been: “Write what you know.” Certainly, authors have never constrained themselves to the knowledge they currently possessed. They researched subjects through books, interviews, trips to locations, and things such as these.

Enter the internet.

How has the World Wide Web affected that relationship between direct experience or research, and the subject matter of the contemporary author? In other words, because we writers have access to websites and web-enabled tools, are we able to short-cut the process?

Yes and no.

No, because what has always held true still applies: life experience trumps any amount of research. Whether it’s through an interview of a WWII vet, or all the internet research in the world, none of us who weren’t at the Battle of Bastogne could possibly tell its story like one crouching in the trenches during hours of incoming fire.

Yes, because of the ubiquitous nature of the modern internet. Where in earlier days, one required means of access to individuals or research material which could be difficult to obtain, today any author can find loads of free information at the click of a mouse.

There are almost countless sources of information available via the internet. Sure, one must exercise care when using these materials, but the same may be said for every research source. Some are more reliable than others; some require additional fact checking. Here are ten categories:

1. Websites. From general to specialty websites, there is a load of information available. As always, the more sources you can find, the more confidence you can have in your material. In addition, cruising the websites can offer many ideas for your next story or allow you to see connections you would otherwise have missed. Online catalogues can be especially useful for gathering specifics.

2. Wikis and Encyclopedias. There is, of course, Wikipedia, which is becoming more and more reliable in its information, complete with linked sources in many instances. In addition, there are specialty wikis for many subjects. Many encyclopedias, such as the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, offer information freely for all users.

3. Mapping Software. The phenomenal mapping features of internet applications like Google Earth offer the user opportunities to not only map out locations, but to see the areas through pictures and videos from a variety of angles. Except for the smells, many times it’s almost like being right there.

4. Online Dictionary and Thesaurus. A few keystrokes, and you can find complete definitions of words and correct usages, including examples. In the same vein, the internet tools make it so much easier to use a thesaurus to find synonyms, or even better, that perfect word that offers that precise shade of meaning you’re trying to find.

5. Language Translators. There are countless language translators on the internet, although some are better than others and you’ll often get conflicting results. It’s always best to find someone, either in person or online, who speaks the particular language fluently, to really get it right and avoid the embarrassment of using a foreign phrase incorrectly.

6. Library Databases. Some local libraries, as well as universities and colleges, provide access to specialized databases, such as EBSCO, Reference USA, LexisNexis, and so on. This access is usually more restricted and often depends on your residence, or being enrolled in a particular institution. Open source programs are actively working to bring much of this information to the general internet user, but for now, it’s best to check with your local or school library.

7. Multimedia. There are literally millions of multimedia files available internet, ranging from zany time-wasters to complete how-to series of videos. There are many images freely available, although you need to be quite careful not to violate copyrights when using an image, and try to find the original source for permission or to satisfy usage requirements, including fees.

8. Online Interviews. These offer invaluable insights from the unique perspective of various individuals. These give you the chance to really see what makes a person (one who might resemble your character, for example) tick. Often times, it also provides the opportunity to pick up on special lingo used by certain people, or in certain professional or geographical cultures.

9. Online Forums. There are a number of online forums focusing on virtually every subject known to man. In addition, blog sites and many articles have comment sections that can in themselves offer a treasure trove of information, particularly from the unique perspective of someone who has lived out a particular situation or has a special insight or expertise.

10. Direct Contact. Perhaps the greatest advantage of the internet is the opportunities it provides for establishing direct relationships. Many of these can provide opportunities to relate to someone who has had first-hand experience with a certain topic of research. Most people are thrilled to share their stories and life experience, and to act as a kind of expert on a subject.

We have really just touched the surface of research opportunities available via the web. Since the nature of material and applications available on it change literally by the week, I’m sure there are numerous other ways to use the internet as an effective research tool.

Article Source: [http://EzineArticles.com/?Write-What-You-Can-Know-Well—10-Internet-Sources-for-Research&id=7086123] Write What You Can Know Well – 10 Internet Sources for Research

 

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

From Wannabe to Writer

By Allie Anders

The first step to becoming a writer is to want to write something. I don’t mean to want to be a writer. How many people look out into the garden and say, Oh, I want to be a gardener. I want to put on those big gloves and boots and get out into that mud and transform it?

Those who do are real gardeners. But many others imagine the garden already all tidy and beautiful, with borders full of flowers and never any weeding to be done. They envisage the completed garden. It’s the same with some people who want to be writers – they imagine the completed book and none of the toil that goes into it. But you have to want to actually write – to long to do it – before you can become a writer. Let no one tell you anything different, because it simply isn’t true.

To want to write something you will have it running through your mind so that it’s already turning into sentences and paragraphs as you think about it. It really is like a baby bursting to come out. When this happens you won’t be worrying about finding a pretty pen to write with or where to place your desk or table so the sunshine falls on it during the afternoon. You will be grabbing the first biro that comes to hand and falling on the first piece of paper you find – an old envelope or whatever – and the words will be spilling out without your worrying about their shape or form. This is how you sow your literary garden. The tidying up (trimming and strimming) can come later.

So, to start writing you need to begin thinking of something – anything – that evokes passion in you, that you want to tell the world about. It doesn’t have to be to do with a particular issue or even a hobby. It can be an actual incident in your past. Have you ever had a big row with someone – your mother or mother-in-law, your boss or a co-worker? Think back over what it felt like till you feel your blood begin to boil all over again. Now you’re getting there.

Now, take up your pen and notebook, or sit down at the computer. Start putting down words without paying too much attention to them. Don’t worry about describing what anything looked like, unless it’s really vivid in your memory – for example, the colour of the lampshade someone hit you with. All that can be added later. Just try to
capture the emotion, the thoughts that were running through your head, whatever will add colour to the experience itself rather than to the things surrounding it. It is emotion that brings a piece of writing to life, pouring out like blood from a wound.

Because you do have to allow yourself to be wounded if you are to write down the things you feel churning around inside you. Even if you are writing a genre story, you need to find the vein to open in yourself to let the blood (emotion) flow out in a way that will make readers gasp, whether with pleasure or shock or horror.

Once you have started writing – broken the ground, so to speak – it is important that you write every day. It doesn’t matter what you write, just that you do, and that you allow your emotion to flow while you’re doing it. You might not be able to sit down for a formal writing session. Most of us have commitments to work, family, other projects. It is still writing if you just pick up the nearest scrap of paper and jot down something. But do it.

Eventually, though, you will have to start gathering these jottings together if they are to be of use to you, so it might be better to just use a notebook or the computer in the first place. A diary is a wonderful repository. If you get one of the great big A4 page-a-day ones and write just one page each night of anything – a memory, something that happened during the day, or your deepest feelings about something – this time next year you will have 365 pages, a very respectable size for a book.

As a novel, it probably won’t be in the right order, unless you had a plan clearly outlined in your head when you started. But it will be there in a form which you can sort into something coherent and, hopefully, good enough to be published once you’ve edited it (weeded your garden, that is).

So, back to the writing itself: when we’re recalling an event emotionally, we don’t think, Okay, so I woke up yesterday and had my breakfast, and then went to buy my newspaper… No, what we think is, The cheek of that bitch coming at me like that just because Joe and I were having a good time together. What did she mean, I was trying to steal her boyfriend? We can be friends, can’t we, without wanting to jump into bed together?

You start with the emotion of the situation and then, when you’re a bit calmer, you begin to rationalise it to yourself, remembering how the day started or where you first met someone, almost like providing yourself with backstory. But it’s the emotion that gets you thinking about what happened, and it’s the same with your readers.
Starting with someone staring out the rain-spotted window evokes no corresponding emotion in them. Plunging them right into the moment something important is happening will.

Another thing – from now on you should be sure to always have somewhere handy to jot down ideas. Once again, it can be the back of an envelope, but it’s a lot easier to have your thoughts in one place than than to have to gather all the envelopes and scraps of paper from the four corners of your life when you need them. Apart from the danger of throwing them away by mistake, of course.

The thing about ideas is that, like dreams, you are always sure when you first have them that you will remember them but, sadly, most vanish into the ether never to appear again. Even those you do manage to hold onto, you may not recall in exactly the same emotion-filled way they first arrived.

So when jotting down the idea, also put down any keywords that came with it, or even a sentence as it ran through your mind. It is in this form that you will be able to open up to the original idea in all its brilliance (because they always are brilliant, to you at least, or you wouldn’t have been riveted by them in the first place).

Finally, a brief word about writing properly. Way back in some mythical time in the past there were apparently people called editors who combed through writers’ error-strewn work to find the gold nuggets which would eventually be published.

Whether or not this ever actually happened, now you have to take responsibility for your work yourself. Don’t think it doesn’t matter if your spelling, grammar or punctuation aren’t right, or that no one will notice. It does matter and many people will notice and be annoyed at your lack of professionalism, which will spoil your story for them, no matter how wonderful it might be.

The draft of your novel is a bit like your house when there’s just you living there. You might be comfortable with all kinds of little flaws and quirks in it. But when you want to sell the house you simply have to tidy it up and redecorate if necessary to make it look its best for potential purchasers. That’s just common sense.
So if your own decorating or housekeeping skills aren’t up to it, you need to get someone with these to run an honest eye over your work. Only allow this to be your mother, son or favourite aunt if you can be sure they really will be honest. Responses such as, ‘Oh, that’s lovely,’ are no use whatsoever to you unless your relative is also a publisher or agent prepared to take you on as a writer.

This article is by Allie Anders, author of The Fairytale Quest, a children’s fantasy. In this story Toni is tricked into swapping her baby brother for a unicorn and has to go to Fairyland to try to get him back before her parents find out. The book is out on Kindle now, and the website http://thefairytalequest.com will tell you all about it.

Article Source: [http://EzineArticles.com/?From-Wannabe-to-Writer&id=6973431] From Wannabe to Writer