My 4-Step System for Hacking Your Creativity

Seasoned writers know that you can't wait for inspiration to write, as inspiration tends to be fleeting and fickle. But with the simple process, you can engage your creative mode whenever you need it!

If there’s one truth all writer’s know, it’s that inspiration is a fleeting, fickle creature. It comes and goes of its own will, teasing and baffling us with its unpredictable nature. Though we try to tame it, inspiration continues to thwart us and slip through our fingers.

But what if I said you could learn how to tap into your creativity and summon ideas whenever you like? You see, your creativity is always present in your mind, hiding just beneath the surface. With a little practice and strategy, you can learn how to lure it out when needed.

For the longest time, I failed to understand why my mind would hum with a sudden buzz of creativity at seemingly random times, like during a shower or while lying in bed trying to fall asleep. Yet at other times, like when faced with a blank page, my mind would be completely silent. Sound familiar? That’s because there’s a reason behind why your mind’s creative mode is engaged during certain times.

If you’ve ever felt frustrated that your bursts of inspiration are too few and far between, you’re in good company, friend. Let’s break down how to engage your brain’s creative mode step-by-step, and unravel the whys behind the mystery.

Step 1: Find a Quiet Place Free of Distractions

In his book Slowing Down to the Speed of Life, psychotherapist Richard Carlson explains:

Creativity bubbles up inside you automatically when your mind is clear and quiet. Those moments when your mind is free of distraction are the very moments you have the greatest potential for creativity.

When your mind is filled with a constant swarm of activity, it suffocates your creative thinking. However, when your mind is allowed to relax, your creativity has room to breathe.

This is why so many writers (myself included!) say they get their best ideas in the shower, while lying in bed, or while driving. These are some of the few “quiet” moments we have alone with our thoughts in our hectic lives.

This means that if we want to tap into our creativity, we first need the right environment. Whether it’s in your home, a park, a coffee shop, or a library, find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed or distracted. You may need to further eliminate some distractions by turning off your phone or temporarily disconnecting your internet.

Personally, I’ve found that my best places to do my creative thinking are in my bedroom, anywhere out in nature (usually during a walk), in the car, and during a hot bath or shower. These are places where I’m the least distracted, and during these times I switch my phone to silent so my thoughts won’t be interrupted if I receive a call or text.

I also want to point out here that ‘quiet’ doesn’t have to mean complete silence. Your environment just needs to be quiet enough so that your thoughts aren’t drowned out by external noise. Some people might think better with background noise, like music or the sounds of a coffee shop, but I’ve found these usually compete too much with my thoughts.

Choose whatever sort of ‘quiet’ works best for you.

Step 2: Unclog Your Mind and Focus on the Present

Whenever we set out to create something, we always begin with something empty. A blank canvas, an empty page, a fresh roll of film. Similarly, before your mind can begin creating and filling itself with ideas, you first need to empty it.

This means letting go of all thoughts of anything related to the past or future and focusing only on the present moment.

Our brains have two main modes of thinking: analytical thinking and creative thinking. Analytical thinking involves any sort of analyzing, problem-solving, calculation, dwelling on the past, and worrying about the future. When we turn off our analytical thinking and focus on the present, we can then switch into creative mode.

Every day our minds get clogged with hundred of thoughts—the fight we had with our significant other this morning, how we embarrassed ourselves at work last week, the friend who’s been annoying us all afternoon, our anxiety about that upcoming deadline, our worries about how we’re going to pay off our student loans after we graduate.

It’s no wonder we struggle to find our creativity when our heads are so full! When we continue to turn these thoughts over and over in our heads, we’re engaging in analytical thinking.

In order to tap into creative mode, your mind can’t be engaged in the past or the future. Those thoughts buzz in our minds, creating too much noise and distraction. To awaken our creativity, we must quiet our minds by focusing on the present moment and nothing more.

I’ll admit that at first I found it challenging to empty my mind and focus on the present. How does one even go about doing that? What does that look like? I quickly learned three easy strategies to achieve this: 1) focus on my breath, 2) focus on physical sensations, and 3) focus on sounds around me.

1. Breath—Try practicing deep breathing. Breathe in long and slow, hold for a few seconds, and then release long and slow. Focus on the feel of your lungs contracting and expanding, and imagine yourself drawing and releasing your breath from and throughout your entire body, from your head to the tips of your toes.

2. Physical Sensations—Focus on your body and physical environment. Are you snuggled under a cozy blanket? Is the sun warming your skin? Is your cat or dog curled up beside you?

3. Sounds—Focus on the sounds in your environment. Is there wind moving through the trees? Raindrops pattering against the roof? You could even try playing some nature sounds or music.

Basically, focus on anything that will ground you in the present moment. Once you start tuning your thoughts into the present, your mind will start to empty and quiet in preparation for creative thinking.

Step 3: Invite Creativity With Questions and Curiosity

Once you have a quiet mind, you have a blank canvas to begin your creative work. Allow your thoughts to begin to wander, daydream, and become curious. To help guide your thinking and invite your creativity to come out to play, try asking ‘what if.’

For example, what if aliens invaded earth? What if a thief fell in love with a prince? What if dragons existed and were alive today?

Once you’ve found an interesting ‘what if,’ explore it further by asking questions such as ‘what next’ or ‘why.’

Why did the aliens invade earth? What happens after the thief falls in love with the prince? You might also try asking ‘who could be involved in this story?’ In the case of the dragons in the above example, is there someone who hunts them, tames them, or rides them?

Or, if you already have a story in progress, you could think of scenes for your plot, get into your characters’ heads, or delve deeper into your story’s world if you’re writing Fantasy.

Don’t get frustrated if you can’t think of anything interesting. Just relax, have fun, and keep exploring your thoughts. Not every idea has to be material for the next best seller, but the more ideas you can come up with, the better chance you will have of finding one that’s worthwhile.

Step 4: Capture Your Thoughts on Paper

While you’re daydreaming, write everything that comes to mind down on paper. This helps to keep your mind clear so your thoughts don’t have to linger on the same ideas for fear of forgetting them. Your creativity will continue to flow, and you can continue to explore and produce new ideas without worrying about clinging to others.

If you hit any sort of snag or something you don’t know the answer to yet, just write it down and keep going. You don’t need to know everything right now—you can hammer out the details later. If you stop to analyze an idea too closely and try to problem-solve, you will switch off your creative mode and turn on your analytical mode. You will stop the flow.

You’re Now a Creativity Mind-Hacking Jedi!

Now that you know the secret behind how to hack into your creative mode, you can use this Jedi mind trick anytime you like! This process might seem ridiculously simple, but I promise you it works! The next time you’re staring at a blank page getting nowhere and feeling frustrated by your lack of inspiration, step back and use these steps to engage your creative mode.

To summarize, here are the steps again:

  1. Find a Quiet Place Free of Distractions. A quiet mind gives creativity room to breathe.
  2. Unclog Your Mind and Focus on the Present. Analytical thinking smothers creativity, so don’t dwell on the past or future. Instead, ground yourself in the present moment to empty your mind.
  3. Invite Creativity With Questions and Curiosity. Ask what if, what next, why, and who to explore ideas for potential or current stories.
  4. Capture Your Thoughts on Paper. Keep your creativity flowing by avoiding the fear and distraction of forgetting ideas. If you get stuck, keep going–don’t stop to problem-solve the idea or you will activate your analytical mode.

Do you have any special tips or tricks for hacking your creativity? Share them in the comments below!

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Why You Need a Writing Community

Feeling all alone as a writer? It doesn't have to be that way! Learn how to find a writing community to support and encourage you during your novel journey!Writing a novel is a solitary task, and we writers tend to be introverted creatures who enjoy the seclusion and silence of our favorite activity. But sometimes, even introverts get lonely. It’s part of human nature; it’s our instinct to seek out the company of other human beings. It’s not good for us to be alone.

When I first started writing I didn’t know any other writers. My friends and family, though they supported me, didn’t understand my fascination with building plots or my enthusiasm for my characters. They didn’t understand the frustrations of plot holes and the misery of feeling as though my writing wasn’t any good. They didn’t understand why I would rather spend my evenings writing than going out to social events.

They just weren’t like me; I was a penguin among flamingos, waddling around awkwardly and feeling very out of place.

Though I loved writing, my flock of one was very lonely. I felt as though I was the only one who had experienced the excitement of writing a first novel, along with all of its fears and struggles. For years, I shuffled along this way on my own.

That is, until last year, when I entered the world of blogging and started Ink and Quills. It wasn’t until then that I discovered a community of fellow bloggers and writers—people who understood writing, understood me, were like me. An entire flock of beautiful, awkward, introverted penguins.

For the first time since I had started writing at the age of fourteen, I felt as though I had found a community where I belonged. And let me tell you, friends, it has changed my writing life! Just because the act of writing itself requires solitude doesn’t mean you should navigate your novel journey solo. No sir! This introvert will be the first to tell you—writing is so much better with community!

Benefits of a Writing Community

So why do you need a writing community? Meeting and befriending other writers online has been one of the best things to happen to me as a writer, and I wouldn’t trade these newfound friendships for anything. I’ve also been able to connect with writers from all over the world, which is pretty darn cool. But allow me to share some the benefits of building a writing tribe of your own.

1. Support and Encouragement

Writing is hard. Not just hard work, but hard emotionally and mentally. We’re plagued with all kinds of doubts, fears, and insecurities. Having writing friends I can express these concerns to—friends who have also experienced what I’m feeling and understand what I’m going through—makes a world of difference. Their kind words and encouragement help me pick myself back up again when I’m feeling down and keep writing.

2. Friendship

Having writing friends is just so. Much. Fun!

I finally have people I can nerd out with over how to construct perfect plots and characters and share my passion for story. It’s so nice to talk to people I have things in common with, and who can laugh at writing jokes and understand writer pet peeves (Such as being asked “What are you going to do with that Creative Writing degree?” Or “What’s your story about?” Or my person favorite, “How long is your story?”).

There’s nothing like being able to confide in, complain to, and converse with a fellow writer who just gets you.

3. Feedback

One of the best parts about having writing friends is having people who can give you constructive criticism about your novel (Because let’s face it, as much as your mom loved it, she doesn’t understand how to construct a story like a writer).

I was nervous when I asked my writing friends to beta read my current novel, as I had never let anyone outside of close friends and family read my work before. But it was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had as a writer, and the feedback I received was invaluable!

4. Advice

Whether you’re uncertain if you should pursue traditional or self-publishing, or debating which direction you should take your plot, it’s great to have other writers to turn to for advice. Having writing friends who are more experienced, or who have experience in areas you don’t, is especially helpful since you can ask them for their expertise. Being able to turn to a friend for help is a great comfort to a writer!

How to Build a Writing Community

So where can you find fellow writers? Personally, I met all of my friends on Twitter. I had no idea what I was doing when I first joined Twitter or how to make friends, so I just started talking to people who seemed friendly, and who I was interested in getting to know. Some people chatted for a while only to vanish back into the Twitterverse, and that was that. Others I really hit it off with, and we continued to talk and haven’t stopped since!

It might feel awkward at first, but I’ve found that most people are friendly and enjoy talking about writing and meeting new people. You just have to be brave and take that leap to put yourself out there, which I know can be so hard for us introverts. But I promise you, the friendships you will gain are so worth stepping outside of your comfort zone!

Here are some ideas for places to meet other writers.

1. Local Writing Events

Is there anything writing-related going on near you like workshops, festivals, or conferences? What about any local meet-ups or critique groups? A quick Google search should help you uncover opportunities to meet writers in person in your area.

2. Twitter Chats

If you’re a little shy about chatting up random writers on Twitter, you could try participating in writing-related Twitter chats. That way, you can “meet” writers during the chat and then connect with them afterward if you like. A couple of chats I recommended (which are hosted by some of my own friends) are #StorySocial and #StoryCrafter, though there are many others out there!

3. NaNoWriMo

If you’ve never heard of it before NaNoWriMo (or National Novel Writing Month), is an annual “contest” held every November where participants try to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. There’s also Camp NaNoWriMo, which is held in April and July, and allows participants to work on a project of any length.

You can connect with participants on Twitter with the hashtags #NaNoWriMo and #CampNaNoWriMo, and the websites for both contests offer forums and groups where writers can connect as well.

4. Writing Community Sites

Finally, there are lots of websites out there especially for writers where you can chat in forums, join groups, share your writing, and receive feedback. Sometimes these websites even run writing contests (One of which I’ve entered in the past, and won a signed copy of Sarah J. Mass’ Heir of Fire. Mass also got her start writing fiction on similar community sites. So they can be very worthwhile!).

Here are a few to check out: Wattpad, Penana, Figment, Story Bird, Booksie, and Story Wars.


I am so grateful for all of the amazing friends I’ve made online. My writing life feels so much more full because of them, and when I look back to the lonely beginnings of my novel journey I wonder how I survived so long without them. If you only ever follow one piece of writing advice, I ask you to make it this: Find a community, and journey with them as you write your novel.

Do you have a writing community? Have you ever felt like a penguin among flamingos? Let me know in the comments below!

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“Should I Get a Creative Writing Degree?”

 Not sure if you should major in Creative Writing? Here are some important points to consider when making your decision. I remember years ago when I was a teen and I first announced to my parents that I wanted to become an author.

Their response was something along the lines of: “But don’t you need a degree to publish a book?”

I stared at them with a weird, puzzled look and tried not to laugh. To me, the answer seemed obvious: of course you don’t.

But now that I’ve been through college and have experienced our society’s obsession and pressure with attaining a college degree, my parents’ confusion makes sense. In today’s world, everyone expects you to acquire a degree, and it’s assumed that without a degree you can’t do much else besides flip burgers. So how could you do something as intellectual and professional  as publishing a book without *gasp* a college degree?

The beautiful thing about art is anyone can be an artist. Anyone can be a writer, and anyone can publish a novel. Whether or not it’s good is another story, but its always fascinated me that unlike other professions, you don’t need any sort of certification or degree to become an author. You just need a story to tell and the ability to do so.

Because writers don’t need degrees to become authors, our career paths aren’t so clear-cut. To become a doctor you need a degree in medicine. To become a teacher you need a degree in education. But to become an author you can get a degree in anything…or nothing at all. Writers are oddities. We’re divergents who don’t fit neatly into the system of college education. And that seems to both unnerve and perplex people.

To help us writer anomalies fit into the college system, we now have Creative Writing programs. Sure we had English programs before, but Creative Writing is more specialized and focused toward authors, poets, and playwrights rather than columnists and journalists. And while newspapers and magazines require you to have an English degree, no one can require you to have a degree of any kind to become a published author.

You see, the thing about publishers is they don’t care whether you have a BFA, a PHD, or were a high school drop out. As long as you can tell a good story that they feel they can sell, that’s all that matters. The only thing they require is that you be able to know your way around a story. Heck, if you look at some of the published fiction out there you’ll see that the quality of the writing doesn’t even have to be that great.

So if publishers don’t require you to have a Creative Writing degree, then why should you get one?

Most people pursue Creative Writing degrees because a) they love to write, and, b) they want to learn how to become a better writer. But here’s the thing: you don’t need to complete a Creative Writing program to learn how to write! Similarly, completing said program will not guarantee you a publishing contract.

So, if you don’t go through a Creative Writing program then how do you learn to write? I’ve written a post called 10 Ways to Become a Stronger Writer, and it outlines all the ways we learn to write and how you can improve your writing.

Personally, I have an Interdisciplinary degree in Creative Writing and History, but I didn’t learn how to write fiction in college. Almost everything I know about writing I’ve taught myself through practicing, studying craft books, and scouring online articles.

Now you might be wondering: if I didn’t learn how to write novels in college, then was my college experience even worth it?

Yes, I do believe so. It helped me to grow as an individual, and I studied other subjects that I use in my writing like history, sociology, and psychology. I also had the opportunity to study abroad and that has hugely influenced me as a writer. I was also challenged to write things I wouldn’t normally write, such as plays, short stories and poetry, and I’ve been able to take techniques from those genres and apply them to my fiction. I don’t think any education is ever wasted.

The question you really need to ask isn’t “Should I get a Creative Writing degree?” but “Is a Creative Writing degree right for me?” The decision is entirely up to you, and only you can make it. But there are a few points I believe you should consider when trying to make your decision. You need to weigh the realities with your dreams, because at the end of the day as much as we love to make art a writer still has to eat. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be a starving artist. I really, really like food.

3 Points to Consider When Deciding if You Should Major in Creative Writing

#1: Do you have any secondary passions, interests, or talents besides writing?

The basic goal of higher education is to obtain a degree that with allow you to get a job with a decent paycheck so you can make a living. The hard truth is, it’s really hard to make a living as a writer. Heck, it’s hard to make a living in any artistic field. If you have any skills or interests outside of writing, it might be worth pursuing those as a means of making a living and to write on the side. If you love animals, maybe you’d like to be a vet. If you’re love kids, maybe you’d like to be a teacher. If you love books, maybe you’d like to work in the publishing industry.

But what if writing is your only passion, the only thing you feel like you’re good at and your entire life? That’s how it was for me. For the longest time I was an Education major, but I was miserable because I wasn’t pursuing my passion. If writing is everything for you and you’re willing to put in the hard work of making a career out of writing novels, then take the risk. Go for it. If you fail, you’ll still have a degree. But if you don’t try, you’ll regret it forever.

#2: Will your Creative Writing degree pay for itself?

It’s no secret that college is expensive. And it’s no secret that it’s really hard to make money as a writer. So is it wise to invest thousands of dollars into a degree for a field that a) doesn’t require one, and b) offers little monetary compensation? When thinking about choosing a Creative Writing degree, it’s wise to research the other career options with which it will provide you, as well as the average incomes of those jobs. Can you get a return on your investment in your degree? Aka, pay off your loans and pay the bills?

It is possible to make a living as an author, but it takes time. You have to have several books published before you start earning a decent wage off of royalties, and you must continue to publish books. That sort of commitment isn’t for everyone. Are you willing to make your writing a full-time career, or would you rather have another job that pays the bills and keep your writing as a hobby on the side?

#3: How  can you use your degree to make an income before you get published, or if you never become published at all?

Some people say Creative Writing degrees or English degrees are worthless because you can’t do anything with them. While that’s not true, it is wise to educate yourself about your options. I’ve written an article that lists jobs you can do with an English degree, most of which should apply to a Creative Writing degree because they are similar.

Research your options. Could you see yourself doing any of these jobs? Do any of them appeal to you? Are they difficult to break into? Keep in mind that you will need a way to make a living until you make publish enough books to become a full-time author, or if you never become published at all (though I certainly hope you do!). Also consider that you can find work in a field unrelated to Creative Writing, such as a receptionist, which still requires a degree but isn’t specific as to what kind. A Creative Writing degree is never a waste–it will still help you get a job that pays more!

So what do you think? Is a Creative Writing degree right for you? Do your research, weigh your options, and try be practical and realistic while pursuing your dreams. I wish you all the best!

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10 Ways to Become a Stronger Writer

Every writer wants to improve their craft. But how can you strengthen your writing skills? Spoiler alert: it involves more than just writing and reading.

I don’t think there’s any writer who doesn’t want to improve their craft. There’s always something new to learn, some area you can improve. But how can you strengthen your writing skills? Spoiler alert: it involves more than just writing and reading.

#1: Reading

Writers should read a little differently than the average person. When you read a book, pay attention to the inner-workings of the story. Have a questioning, analytical mind. How did the author pull off that twist? How did she plot out that mystery? What was it about that scene that made you cry? What techniques is she using to make this setting feel so real?

These things might be hard to pay attention to on the first read when you’re engrossed in the story, so you’ll probably need to read the book a second time to analyze it. And don’t hesitate to take notes!

#2: Practicing

The best way to learn something is by doing it yourself. When you set out to write a novel for the first time everything is new and unfamiliar to you. But the more you write, the more you learn. Things you struggled to remember start to become habit, and you’re able to move on to more advanced techniques.

It’s sort of like learning a martial art–you start out as white belt, but the more you practice the more skills you gain, the more moves you learn, and the closer you come to black belt status.

#3: Studying

It always baffles me how often writers skip over this one. Reading books on writing craft is just as important as reading fiction. Today more than ever there are countless resources out there to help you improve your writing–books, courses, and websites (like this one!). You would be crazy not to take advantage of them!

Seriously. Why would you waste time trying to figure all this stuff out on your own? These writers have spent years learning the craft and are offering you valuable information that’s essentially a shortcut to help you become a better writer faster and avoid their mistakes. Why wouldn’t you take advantage of that?! Yes, studying the craft takes time, effort, and maybe money if you’re purchasing books or courses, but your passion is well worth investing in.

And as a side note, you don’t need to study Creative Writing in college to be an author. Anyone can study the craft, and you don’t need to go to an expensive university to do so! For some suggestions of writing resources, you can check out my resources page.

#4: Dreaming

Writing is a creative art, and writers need to tend to their imaginations like one would nurture a garden. You need to allow yourself to dream, because this is usually where your ideas come from. Set aside a little time each day to let your thoughts wander. Engage in activities that fuel your imagination.

For me, this is usually reading, watching films, browsing Pinterest, and just having quiet time to think and ask “what if.” When you don’t  allow your imagination to “play” you’ll find you become stifled, unhappy, and even depressed. Dreams are fuel for writers, and how we survive reality.

#5: Failing

As a writer, you’re not always going to get it right. You will have stories that won’t work, that will sit in your desk drawer forever and never see the light of day. And that’s okay. We learn more from our failures than we do from our success.

One of my favorite quotes is from Thomas Edison and says, “I didn’t fail. I just found 2,000 ways not to make a light bulb; I only needed to find one way to make it work.” To find out what works in a story, you’ll need to discover all the things that don’t work as well. Failures will make you a stronger writer. 

#6: Experimenting

Test the boundaries. Do what you haven’t seen done before. Test yourself. Write what you’re afraid to write. It might work, it might not. You never know until you try. Don’t hesitate to try writing things you normally wouldn’t write–it will challenge you and cause you to grow as a writer.

For example, I hated poetry but had to write it for several college courses. As a result, I developed a better use of language, imagery, and rhythm. I also thought I could never write outside of the fantasy genre, but now I’m writing historical fiction and loving it. Is it harder for me than writing fantasy? Yes. But it’s opened up lots of new possibilities for stories.

Experiment with writing styles, genres, plots, characters, poetry, screen writing, play writing, journalism, writing sprints, NaNoWriMo. Try new things!

#7: Traveling

See as much of the world as you can. Traveling will help you grow as both a writer and a person. You will be exposed to new landscapes, ideas, and cultures. You will taste, smell, and hear things you never have before. You’ll develop a better understanding for people who are different from you, and learn that you’re really not that different after all. You may even be inspired to set your next story in a foreign land, or fill it with more diverse characters.

#8: Learning

Be curious and always be learning. Learn about other cultures, history, psychology, sociology. Learn about the things that interest you, whether it’s cooking, herbal remedies, Greek mythology, lock picking, wilderness survival, or how to write computer code. As an author, you will need to create a wide variety of characters, and all of them will come from different backgrounds with different interests. You never know when your knowledge might come in handy!

#9: Observing

Good writers are good observers. Pay attention to the world around you. What does the inside of a New York cab smell like? How does it feel when you kiss the one you love? What sounds fill a restaurant on a busy night? Collect and remember the details from your everyday life and weave them into your writing. The more you do this, the better you’ll develop this skill, and you’ll find that creating details for things you’ve never seen or experienced becomes easier.

#10: Living

One of the most important things to do as a writer is live. Go out and experience life. Don’t always be holed up in your house hiding behind a keyboard. You need to experience and see as much as you can so you can capture it in your writing.

What is it like to walk through a forest at night? Explore a cave? Leap from a cliff into a lake? Shoot a bow? Sail on the ocean? Fly in a plane? Go out and do it.

Understand the way the world works, its horrors and intricacies. Its shades of grey. The beauty and corruption of humanity.

Draw from your experiences when you write. Use your pain, embarrassment, anger, joy. What was it like when you kissed the one you loved? When they broke your heart? When you lost someone close to you? When you broke your arm? When you were betrayed by your friend? When you held your baby sibling for the first time?

To live is to experience what it is to be human. To write is to share and explore the human experience.

How do you try to become a stronger writer? Leave me a comment below!

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Simple 30 Minute Yoga Routine for Writers (No Flexibility Required!)

simple yoga routine for writersSometimes we writers get so engrossed in our stories that we forget to take care of ourselves. We’re all too familiar with stress, fatigue, and a sore back & neck from sitting hunched over our desks for hours trying to pound out those words. With NaNoWriMo coming up, I thought this would be a good time to deviate a little from my usual writing advice and help you be nice to yourself 😉

I’m in love with yoga–I always feel so fantastic after practicing! It helps me relax, control my stress, get energized, and clear my head before a writing session.

“But I can’t do yoga, I’m not flexible!” you protest. Excuse me while I giggle at you. You do yoga to become flexible, not because you are flexible. I am so hopelessly inflexible that if I can do yoga, I have faith in you. Yoga is for everyone, you just have to start simple!

This yoga routine focuses on the shoulders, neck, and back, which tend to be problem areas for us writers. All of the moves are beginner level–I promise you won’t have to twist yourself into a pretzel! It takes about 30 minutes to complete the routine, a nice little break between writing sessions.

But before we get started, let’s go over some yoga basics for you newbies.

Yoga Basics

Movements–Yoga is all about slow, smooth, controlled movements. Don’t rush!

Breathing–You want to take slow, deep breaths. Focus on your breath, and allow it to “fill” your body. When you exhale, imagine you are pushing your breath out to flood through all your muscles. In yoga, you inhale when you move into a pose and exhale when you move out of the pose.

Body Awareness–Become aware of how your body moves, what feels good and what doesn’t. Pay attention to your balance.

Mind–Empty your thoughts. Focus on your breath and body, keeping your mind clear. This is a time to meditate and relax, shutting out worries, responsibilities, etc

Equipment–You can use a yoga mat if you like, or if you don’t have a mat a towel or blanket will work. You can even just use a carpeted area, which is what I usually do. Also, wear loose, non-restricting clothing.

Ready? Let’s begin!

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Part I: Meditation and Neck Sequence

All poses are accompanied with links that provide pictures and further explanation of how to do the pose correctly.

To begin, sit with your back straight and legs crossed or tucked under you, whichever feels comfortable. Place your hands gently on your knees and close your eyes in meditation pose. Relax and try to clear your mind, focusing on your breath and becoming aware of your body. Stay in this pose for 15-20 breaths (1 inhale + 1 exhale = 1 breath).

First, let’s work on loosening your neck and shoulders. Do the following, remembering to take deep breaths and move slowly:

  1. Roll your shoulders forward 8x, and then backward 8x
  2. Roll your head in gentle circles 4x to the right, then the left. Repeat.
  3. Tilt your chin toward your chest as far as you can, dropping your shoulders (don’t hunch them!). You should feel a gentle stretch along the top of your spine. Hold for 3-5 breaths. Raise chin towards ceiling. Repeat.
  4. Stretch your neck to the right and left, holding each stretch for several breaths. You can add a gentle pressure on your head with your hand if you like. (You may feel a pop in your spine, this is normal).
  5. Lace your hands behind your back and press them outward, drawing your shoulder blades together in a nice squeeze. Hold for 3-5 breaths. Release and bring hands back to knees.
  6. Shake it out! Move your neck and shoulders in whatever way feels nice.

Part II: Back and Shoulders Sequence

Now that your neck is nice and loose, let’s move on to the rest of the poses, which focus more on the back and shoulders. Remember to breathe deeply and move slowly as you do the poses. Inhale when you move into a pose, and exhale when you move out of the pose. Hold each pose for 3-8 breaths or however long is comfortable.

  1. Start in a Seated Twist (repeat 2x each side).
  2. Tuck your legs under you and transition into Cat Cow (repeat 4-6x; for this pose you don’t need to hold it, just move with your breath, moving upward on the inhale and downward on the exhale).
  3. Sink down onto your heels and stretch your arms forward in Child’s Pose.
  4. Raise up on your hands and knees again back into Cat Cow (repeat 4-6x).
  5. Sink back down into Child’s Pose.
  6. From Child’s Pose, bring your arms behind you and upward and clasp your hands together in Seal Pose. Then, return to child’s pose for few breaths.
  7. Straighten, sitting up on your knees, and lower yourself to the floor onto your belly to transition into Sphinx Pose.
  8. Push yourself up into a Cobra Pose. Don’t forget to breathe! (If this is too challenging, remain in Sphinx Pose for a few extra breaths).
  9. Lower yourself back into Sphinx Pose.
  10. Slowly move back onto your knees and sink down into Child’s Pose again.
  11. Come up onto all fours and Thread the Needle on both sides.
  12. Slowly move to lay on your back. Bring your arms over your head and reach as far as you can with your hands and feet, getting a nice stretch through your whole body. Then take turns hugging one knee and then the other up to your chest in Half Wind Relieving Pose.
  13. Lay with your palms upward at your sides and close your eyes in Corpse Pose. Remain this way for a few minutes, breathing deeply and relaxing.

You made it! See, I told you it wouldn’t be bad 😉 You should now be feeling relaxed and rejuvenated and ready to start your next writing session! Want a free PDF guide of this routine you can download and print to keep on hand? Click the button below!

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Do you enjoy yoga? How do you relax and refresh yourself between writing sessions?

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How to Accept Your Writing (When You Feel Like the Worst Writer Ever)

How to Accept Your Writing | Feel like the worst writer ever? You're not, though some days it can be hard to remember. Learn how to find acceptance in yourself as a writer.

This past week, I was in a horrible writing rut. It was one those moods where you hate everything you write and you feel like you’re the worst writer in the world.

No fun.

I knew it wasn’t true, but I couldn’t figure out how to break free from the frustration and doubt. I started analyzing why I felt this way and unearthed my darkest writer insecurities. (Boy, we writers are a sensitive lot, aren’t we?)

And you know what I realized? I needed to work on accepting my writing, and who I am as a writer. Since this epiphany I’ve already gained a new perspective on my writing and have a better attitude towards it. I feel like I’ve made such a huge breakthrough! Seriously. I can’t even describe the feeling of peace and oneness (I don’t know how else to describe it okay!) I feel with my writing.

My writing is who I am. And who I am is enough. I am enough as a writer.

I know accepting my writing is something I will have to continue to work at, but I already feel so much more confident and content. So how can you start your journey toward accepting your writing? Here are 8 thoughts to consider.

1. Understand what constitutes good writing–and that these techniques are do-able.

The good news is you don’t have to be a literary genius to have good, clean writing. The techniques used to create good writing are ones that can be learned. And good writing does not equal pretty prose!

I feel like a lot of people get confused over what good writing looks like, and what exactly makes something “well written.” I am talking strictly about prose here, not the execution of plot or development of characters. Good writing:

  • Communicates ideas clearly
  • Uses correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation
  • Uses appropriate punctuation without overuse of dashes, ellipses, or semi-colons
  • Ensures sentences flow together smoothly and their structure is varied
  • Breaks paragraphs into appropriate sizes to control the pacing
  • Is tight without unnecessary words, sentences, paragraphs, or scenes
  • Uses appropriate word choice to set the mood and tone
  • Uses appropriate vocabulary for targeted audience
  • Helps the reader visualize the scene with description
  • Avoids an overabundance of description and purple prose
  • Engages the senses
  • Uses natural dialogue
  • Avoids crazy speech tags, mostly using ‘said’
  • Expresses the character’s emotions, feelings, and reactions
  • Avoids too much interior monologue
  • Avoids cliches
  • Uses strong verbs and avoids overusing adverbs
  • Avoids overusing adjectives
  • Uses specific over general nouns (i.e. Border Collie instead of dog)
  • Has a voice, whether it’s the author’s or character’s
  • Avoids info dumps and telling
  • Uses active voice rather than passive
  • Uses poetic devices such as similes and metaphors where appropriate
  • Either moves the story forward or develops the world or characters

Okay, that may seem like a lot and it is. Good writing is possible to achieve, but it isn’t easy! You have to work at it and keep practicing. But I promise eventually you will ingrain these techniques into your brain and begin to do them without thinking.

2. Pretty prose isn’t necessary, so don’t beat yourself up over it.

Beautiful, jaw-dropping prose is something that I feel is more of a talent than something that can be learned. Some writers can do it, and others can’t.

And for those of us who can’t, it can be really frustrating. But you have to remember that the quality of your story will trump your prose every time. Pretty prose isn’t necessary to becoming a successful author.

Look at J.K. Rowling. She wrote a phenomenal series with a great plot and characters, but if we’re being honest her prose isn’t all that great. But do I (or millions of other readers) care about that? Hells no! Readers will forgive poor prose if the story is amazing. But they will not forgive gorgeous prose that tells a crappy story.

So if you can’t write prose like James Joyce don’t sweat it! Work on making your plot and characters outstanding. That’s what readers are opening your book for anyway–not to oogle over pretty words.

3. Know what kind of writer your are.

Are you writing literary or commercial fiction? My guess is the second. It’s the category the majority of writers fall into. But what’s the difference?

Literary fiction–focuses on internal rather than external conflict. The plot moves slowly and goes in depth developing the characters. Also uses beautiful prose and artistic/unconventional techniques. The literary writer may only write one book and usually (though not always) writes for the sake of art rather than making a living/career. (It’s harder to make money in the literary market).

Commercial fiction–focuses more on external conflict and is written mainly as entertainment. The pace is usually faster to hold the reader’s attention. The writing is also clean and simple without being overly poetic so it is easy to understand. The commercial fiction writer usually writes multiple books (often a series) and seeks to make a career/living with their work.

Knowing which market you’re writing for can help keep things in perspective. I’m definitely a commercial fiction writer. I like to read/write for entertainment, and I want to make a career from my writing. So I don’t need to put unnecessary pressure on myself to be obscurely artistic or avant-garde, or have gorgeous prose.

4. You are not Tolstoy, Tolkien, or Hemingway (and that’s okay).

Stop comparing yourself to other authors and holding yourself to these high standards. They will crush you. And you know what? The truth is there will always be a writer who is better than you. You don’t have to be the best, and that’s OKAY!

This isn’t a competition! I know sometimes we can become perfectionists about our work, but don’t put unrealistic expectations on yourself. Write to the best of your ability. Your best is enough! You might not be able to write like Tolkien but guess what? Someday, you’re going to be someone’s favorite author. So who cares? Throw perfectionism out the window.

5. There will always be writers worse than you.

The funny thing about writers is we always tend to compare ourselves up instead of down. But pause for a moment and think about it. There are writers out there who write worse than you–and some of them are even published!  If they can get published then why not you?

6. Your ideas will never sound as awesome on paper as they did in your head.

This is just a frustrating fact you must accept early on. Words can’t always capture the scenes you see in your head or the emotions you feel. Sometimes they fall short. This doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea! You just have to do your best in translating your idea into words, even though it may seem like a dull reincarnation.

7. Understand that your first draft will be crap.

And that’s okay. First drafts are meant to be atrocious. But when you’re writing a crappy first draft it can become easy to feel like a crappy writer. You have to fight to keep things in perspective.

Try keeping a piece of your best writing handy. When you start to feel like the worst writer ever, step back and read this piece to remind yourself that’s not true. You’ll turn all this crap into gold in the editing stages!

8. Relax.

Don’t put so much pressure on yourself! You’ll suck all the fun out of writing and put a block on your brain. Accept your writing abilities and write the best story you can! Maybe one day someone out there will wish they could write like you!

Have any more ideas on how to find acceptance in your writing and yourself as a writer? Comment below, I’d love to hear them!

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How to Develop Your Unique Writing Voice

 

How to Develop Your Unique Writing Voice | Learn what "voice" means in #writing and how to develop your own that will stand out in the crowd.Last week, we looked at the difference between active and passive voice. Today, we’re going to be looking at a different type of voice in writing–your personal voice.

What is Voice?

Voice can be difficult to explain; after all, the term “voice” suggests something spoken, yet novels deal with the written language. (No wonder new writers are so confused!) In the simplest of terms, voice is how you write. Just as you have your own distinctive way of talking, you should also have a distinctive way of writing.

So what do I mean by “how” you write?

I believe that there are two components that make up a writer’s voice: style and perception. I think that style often gets confused with voice. While style does influence your voice, style on its own is not voice. As we will see, there’s more to it. Let’s explore both elements in more detail.

So what exactly is style? It’s your own personal preferences and choices in the way you write. It’s how you say what you have to say. It’s composed of word choice, use of figurative language, metaphors, imagery, etc. Do you use poetic language or are you more straightforward? Do you prefer long sentences or short, choppy ones? Do you use speech tags or avoid them whenever possible?

All of these decisions work together to create your personal style. For example, I prefer to write in a romantic, descriptive style. This means lots of imagery, figurative language, and sensory details. Think of style as a sort of accent for your writer’s voice.

Now, on to perception. By perception, I mean the way in which the narrator of the story views the world. What are his/her opinions, views, attitudes,  thoughts, feelings, beliefs about the world around him? This will influence the narrative. For example, a pessimist will perceive the world more negatively, while an optimist will have a more positive attitude. A soldier will have a different perception of war than a citizen. A child sees the world differently than an adult.

See where this is going?

The narrator’s perception will in turn influence the tone of the writing and give it personality. Now, this brings us to the next important point: Who is the narrator? Is it the author, via third person, or is it the hero via first person?

If you’re writing in third person, your voice will be “louder” than the hero’s. I write in third person, so I have the freedom to describe my character’s world and experiences in poetic language that fits my style, but my hero might not use this language if he were speaking himself. I can also insert more of my own perceptions, which the hero may or may not share.

On the other hand, if you’re writing in first person, your voice will be “muffled” by the hero’s. He will be the one speaking, and all of the perceptions will be his. Some of the stylistic choices such as word choice should also reflect how the character would speak rather than what you would use.

Whether you write in first or third person, the voice should reveal a distinct way of looking at the world.

What Does Voice Look Like in Writing?

Now that you have a better understanding of what voice is, let’s take a look at some examples. We will be comparing style, tone, and perception.

Example #1: Style

Excerpt 1:

“On two chairs beneath the bole of the tree and canopied by a living bough there sat, side by side, Celeborn and Galadriel. Very tall they were, and the Lady no less tall than the Lord; and they were grave and beautiful. They were clad wholly in white; and the hair of the Lady was of deep gold, and the hair of the Lord Celeborn was of silver long and bright; but no sign of age was upon them, unless it were in the depths of their eyes; for these were keen as lances in the starlight, and yet profound, the wells of deep memory.” -J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

Excerpt 2:
“The bill comes on a silver tray. Hodges lays his plastic on top of it and sips his coffee while he waits for it to come back. He’s comfortably full, and in the middle of the day that condition usually leaves him ready for a two-hour nap. Not this afternoon. This afternoon he has never felt more awake.” -Stephen King, Mr. Mercedes

Analysis: Tolkien’s style is more poetic and descriptive. The passage moves more slowly because of the long sentences. On the other hand, King’s style is more sparse and straightforward, and he uses short sentences. Notice also the wording–Tolkien’s is more archaic/romantic, while King’s is more modern. What other stylistic choices do you notice?

Example #2: Tone

Excerpt 1:

“Conventional wisdom says the key to looking good is building your outfit around just one trend at a time. Forget that! Wearing multiple trends at once not only makes you look more stylish, it also stops any one piece from dominating your look. That way the focus stays clearly on you and not just on your trendy new jacket.” –Seventeen Magazine

Excerpt 2:

“The new Coke bottle is part of the company’s efforts to make its containers from renewable ingredients. Coca-Cola debuted “PlantBottle” packaging in 2009, which is 30% comprised of plant materials. The new PlantBottle that Coke debuted this week is its first to be made 100% from sugar cane plastic.” –CNN

Analysis: The tone in the first excerpt is more casual and personable, while the second is more dry and factual. Your tone will depend on your (or your character’s) perception, your audience (are you writing for teen girls or adults?), and what you want to say (are you trying to convey humor or are you writing a horror piece?).

Example #3: Perception

Excerpt 1: “This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit…[Joseph] had no union with her until she gave birth to a son.” -Matthew 1:18, 25

Excerpt 2: “In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world…[Joseph] went [to Bethlehem] to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.” -Luke 2:1, 5-6

Analysis: These accounts are two different points of view of the same event–the birth of Jesus. In the first, Matthew focuses more on the virginity of Mary; Luke, on the other hand, focuses more on the location of the birth. Each author focused on the details he thought were most important.

This is why perception is so important to your voice–everyone will notice something different about the same event! This is because we all have different experiences, opinions, preferences, thoughts, and beliefs. Fascinating stuff, right?

Here’s another way to think of it: Three people witness a crime and give their testimony to the police. Each story varies a little, though all three cover the main events. Even though the accounts are different, that doesn’t mean the witnesses are lying–they just each saw the crime from a different angle, thus providing a unique point of view to what happened.

Your job with your voice is to provide a unique point of view on the world and your story’s events.

How Do I Develop My Own Voice?

The best way to develop you writer’s voice is to read a lot and write a lot. There’s really no other way to do it. -Stephen King

I remember being a new (and young) writer and stressing over voice in my writing. I didn’t understand what it was or how to make my writing stand out. Though looking back now, I was probably over-thinking it too much.

Everyone has a voice–you have one right now (although it may still be emerging or developing). Your voice will develop naturally as you write and grow.

I recently attended a lecture with Sena Naslund (New York Times best-selling author of Ahab’s Wife), and she offered some great advice for developing your voice:

Aim not for distinction, but, instead, aim to write well…We each have distinctive ideas about what “writing well” means… Realize that a distinctive voice for a writer emerges from a sense of being a distinct, unique, that is “different” person.

I know a lot of new writers will try to imitate their favorite authors. It’s okay to experiment with and “try on ” different voices as you’re finding you’re own. When I first started writing I imitated J.K. Rowling and used lots of colorful speech tags and adverbs. Now I can’t stand either.

As we learn the craft we will likely imitate our “teachers” (favorite authors). But as we mature and become more confident in our writing abilities, we should start developing our own voice. Please don’t strive to mimic another author–the world needs your voice! We don’t need another Tolkien or Hemingway or Jane Austen. We need you. Because no one can “do you” as well as you can. So why try to write like anyone else?

Write a lot, read a lot, and learn as much as you can about yourself. Grow not just as a writer, but as a person. Discover what stylistic choices you prefer, and discover your thoughts and opinions about the world.

So relax. Embrace your differences. Let your (or your character’s) personality and attitude come through your writing. This is your voice.

What is your writing voice like? Are you in the process of developing it? Has it changed over time?

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“What Can I do With an English Degree?”: 20 Jobs for Writers

What can I do with an English degreeIf you’re an English or Creative Writing major, you probably dread revealing that information to friends and relatives.

You know what I’m talking about. They inevitably give you that “look”–a mix a skepticism and disapproval. And then they ask the question.

“So what are you going to do with that?”

There’s nothing like those words to make an English major bristle in defense. Maybe you’re not sure what you want to do with an English degree, you just know you like to write. You grit your teeth as family members tsk and try to talk some sense into you.

“You can’t do anything with an English major. It’s a worthless degree.”

This is just not true, so if an English or Creative Writing degree is something you really, really want, don’t let people talk you out of it. An English degree is definitely not worthless! “So what can I do with an English degree?” you ask.

Writing is a creative field, and because of this, you may have to be more creative with your career choice. This could involve starting your own editing business or becoming a novelist. And this is where family and society tend to freak out–because most people are accustomed to the norm of a 9-5 office job and expect you to do the same to be successful and secure.

But it’s okay to break the mold! You’re a creative–you were born for this. And if you do want the security of working for a company, you can definitely find jobs like that with an English degree. Basically, an English degree gives you flexibility and options. You just have to research what’s out there and know yourself and what you want.

So check out these 20 awesome jobs you can do with an English degree!

1. Novelist

This is the dream, right? I know this is what I’m ultimately striving towards. Thankfully, it is possible to make a living writing books. But on the down side, it takes time and volume (read: work). This article from Books and Such explains how to make a living as a novelist.

2. English/Creative Writing Teacher

Most people with English degrees teach. If you love to help others and have a knack for teaching, this is a good option. If you’re not crazy about kids and want to teach at the university level, keep in mind you’ll need a master’s degree. Also, if you really want to teach just creative writing, you’re more likely to find that at the university level.

3. ESL Teacher

If you’re adventurous and love to travel, you might want to look into teaching English as a second language abroad. If this sounds appealing but you’re not up for living overseas (assuming you’re from the U.S. like me, that is!), it’s also possible to become an ESL teach here in the U.S.–we have a lot immigrants from other countries who are seeking to learn English (If you don’t live in the U.S. research if there is a need for ESL teachers in your country, you may be surprised).

4. Writing/English Tutor

If you’re interested in teaching but prefer working one-on-one with people instead of juggling an entire class, tutoring may be a good option. You can work for a tutoring center like Sylvan, or start your own private tutoring business. As a tutor you can help younger kids learn writing and grammar skills, or help high school and college students learn how to write better essays. Tutoring is a great way to make money on the side, and you can also make a good income doing it full-time.

5. Librarian

If your dream is to be surrounded by books and Belle is your spirit animal, you should look into becoming a librarian. You’ll need an undergraduate degree to start, and then earn a Masters of Library Science. Click here for additional info. Also, there are other job opportunities you can explore within the library besides a librarian! Consider becoming a curator, cataloger, or archivist.

6. Newspaper or Magazine Journalist

I never thought I would like writing non-fiction until I started blogging. Now I find it really fun to write about things I’m interested in! Keep your options open and consider working for a newspaper or magazine. Most positions are freelance though, and it’s tough to get on full-time. For a staff-writer position you’ll also probably need to move to a large city like NYC, especially for magazine journalism. Internships are a must, as you’ll need experience to get your foot in the door.

7. Publishing

If you love to write books, why not work with the people who publish them? There’s a variety of roles in the publishing industry like editing, proofreading, and marketing. However, consider that you’ll likely need to move to a large city where there’s lots of publishers like New York or San Diego. Click here to read about how to get into the industry, and you can find publishing internships and jobs on bookjobs.com.

8. Literary Agent

I think this is a book-related job that many overlook, and admittedly it’s not easy to break into (but then again, what is?). But just what is it that a literary agent does anyway? Here’s an interview with a literary agent to help you understand what they do. To become a literary agent, you’ll need to gain experience by working in the publishing industry first so you can become knowledgeable about the market. If the idea of discovering new authors excites you and you have a confident, go-getter attitude, this may be a job that would fit you.

9. Editor/Proofreader

If you have an eye for detail and are obsessed with grammar, you might enjoy editing or proofreading. Although somewhat similar, you can read about the differences between the two here. You can find editing and proofreading jobs not just with book publishers, but with anyone who deals with printed material–newspapers, magazines, small businesses, corporations, etc. You can also become a freelance editor or proofreader, or start your own business. Browse bookjobs.com for editorial jobs and internships at publishing houses.

10. Copywriter

No, you’re not copying what other people write 😉 A copy writer works for advertising agencies to create slogans and other advertising material to promote a business, product, or idea. You can find both freelance and full-time opportunities. If this sounds like it might be up your alley, here’s another article on how to get started with links to more resources.

11. Content Writer

A content writer writes for a company’s website (pretty self-explanatory, right?). This can be anything from a small business to a large corporation. It can also be a full-time or freelance position. If you’re tech savvy, this might be worth looking into! Here’s a couple sources to get you started here and here. A lot of times this also involves handling social media, so having an online presence and a blog will give you an edge.

12. Technical Writer

A technical writer describes complex processes to create things like instructions manuals or guides. For more information on what a technical writer does, click here. Technical writers can work for IT companies, or help schools develop curriculum. They usually have specialized knowledge in a certain topic such as medicine, science, technology, etc. If this piques your interest, you can learn more about becoming a technical writer here and here.

13. Resume Writer

Did you know there’s a demand for writers who can craft a killer resume? And you can make good money doing so too! Because let’s face it, writing a resume is hard, and most people would rather pay a professional to do it for them. To become a professional resume writer, obtain a resume writing certification to boost your credibility. Learn more about starting a resume writing business here.

14. Event Planner

If you have excellent organizational skills and are a people person, you might make a great event planner. An event planner organizes events such as weddings, meetings, educational conferences, and business conventions. You can work for a company, or start your own business.

15. Blogger

Did you know it’s possible to make a living as a blogger? There’s tons of information on the web on how to start a blog and make a profit off it. If you have a topic you’re passionate about and want to share with others, you might enjoy being a blogger. Keep in mind, however, that building a blog takes time, and it could be 1-2 years or longer before you begin to make a good income. Also, don’t start a blog for the sole purpose of making money–if your heart’s not in it you will likely fail.

16. Corporate Blogger

These days, a lot of businesses are trying to keep up with social media and now have blogs. This means they need creative, smart people to help run those blogs. Like you. 😉

17. Website Developer

If you’re super tech savvy and creative, you may want to consider looking into website development. It’s a valuable skill to have in our 21st century world where a website is a must for businesses. Here’s a couple sources with more information here and here.

18. Social Media Manager

Like website developers, there’s also a huge demand for creative individuals who know their way around social media. Businesses want to connect with their audience and promote their products through social media, and often don’t know how. If you’re awesome with social media, this may be a good job for you.

19. Screenwriter

If you love story, you probably love movies and t.v. shows as well as books. And what writer wouldn’t love to see their work come to life on screen? I’ll be honest, I don’t know much about how to sell a script or how similar/different it is to publishing a book, so you’ll have to do your research. I have taken screenwriting classes, however, and can say that it’s a completely different medium from writing a novel. So you’ll also have to learn the techniques of the craft to be successful. Here’s a couple links to jump-start your research here and here. Also, check out this article on the difference between writing for film and television.

20. Broadcasting

T.V. and radio stations need writers and editors to work on scripts and news reports. You can find more information on the types of jobs and responsibilities here, and browse jobs in T.V. and radio here.

You want to know a secret? Even if you can’t get a job doing any of the things on this list, you can still use your English degree to do almost anything you want! Most people end up doing something different than what they went to school for anyway.

If you really want an English or Creative Writing degree, don’t let naysayers scare you off. Always, always, always follow your passion. I learned this the hard way (but that’s a story for another time). You have to live the life you want, and if you don’t try to make a go of it you’ll regret it down the road.

So gather your courage and go for it! You’ll never regret chasing your passion.

Why do you want to get an English degree? What career options sound appealing to you?

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7 Writers Share Their Writing Secrets

7 WritersWriting is a long, difficult journey (one that never really ends), and you tend to pick up a lot of things along the way.

Like always keep a notepad on your nightstand. Or act out scenes to help you describe them (even if it makes you feel like a crazy person).

I’ve asked 7 awesome writers/bloggers to share their writing “secrets.” What tips and tricks have they discovered? Read on to find out!

Secrets for Writers

Brett Michael Orr is a young writer and blogger from Australia. He has been writing for several years, and is currently working on a Young Adult Science-Fiction novel.

Drafting is always a difficult process. There’s a lot of pressure when you’re staring at the infamous white page, that this your chance to write a scene from scratch, and it can be paralysing. There’s also pressure on word count–if you’ve only written a hundred words, it’s easy to feel really bad about yourself.
     Here’s the secret though–your book will go through at least one, if not four or five, major edits and rewrites–and that’s before it arrives at a publisher. There will be many, many opportunities to edit and ‘perfect’ that scene. You can’t perfect a blank page.
     Just write, take the quickest path through the scene to move your characters where they should be, and move on. When you edit, you’ll be deleting (or adding) paragraphs at a time, so don’t agonize over your draft. After all, first drafts are meant to be rewritten!
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Heather from BitsNBooks enjoys writing Historical Fiction. Her research for her stories always allows her to learn something new.  She also adds, “my aim is to make people cry (is that mean?).” Not at all, Heather 😉

If you have an idea for something but can’t seem to get it right, put yourself in the scene. What can you see, hear, smell, feel? I don’t know if it’s a thing all writers do, or if it’s just a weird me thing, but I try to imagine what the scene would look like if it were being made into a film (one day…I can dream, right?).

I know this definitely won’t work for everyone, but I always know what my ending is before I get too far into a piece of writing. The more I write the more I realise that a story will grow and change of its own accord. I think it’s for this reason that I need to have an ending so that I can keep it largely on track.

It’s like going on holiday–your plane might get delayed and you miss a connecting flight, but you still want to get to a particular destination eventually, so you’ll make new plans according to that destination.

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E.K. Moore from A Cup of English Tea is a college student from the northwest of the United States. She writes an eclectic mix of genres and forms including (but not limited to): fantasy, realistic fiction, romance, magical realism, short stories, novels, novellas, flash fiction etc. She has finished five novels but has yet to be published. Regardless, writing is one of her favorite pastimes, and likely will be for many years to come.

Take breaks when you’re having writer’s block. Best options for me are hot showers or long walks to get creativity flowing again. For editing I recommend reading out loud. It helps you catch your own mistakes and often helps solidify first person voice if using that.

line dividerMichelle from The Writing Hufflepuff  lives in The Netherlands and has been making up stories for as long as she can remember; as soon as she learned to write she wrote them down. She mostly writes fantasy with a lot of angst and death, but also some lighthearted humor. She hopes to write for a living, but for now strives toward studying journalism next school year.

A lot of people give the advice that you should always write, even if you don’t feel like it. I would like to give the opposite advice: if you’re not feeling it, because you’re tired or for any other reason–don’t write.

Writing should be something you love, not a chore. If you’d rather lie in bed and watch TV shows all day long, then go do that. That doesn’t make you a bad writer, it makes you a writer who just rather relaxes that day instead of forcing theirselves to write.

Do write whenever you can and want to, though, but not because you have to, or because you’re not a writer or a bad writer when you don’t, but because you love doing it.

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B.A. Wilson is a Missouri librarian with a rather serious One-Click addiction. She enjoys reading and writing YA novels, consuming caffeinated beverages, and spending too much time on Twitter.

I like to carry blank name tags in my purse and coat pockets. When an idea comes to me, I write it down on a name tag. Once I get home, I peel and stick the note into my project sketchbook or outline. It saves me from having to rewrite or transfer notes.

I stole this idea (can’t even remember from where), but it’s great! When I’m writing or editing and either don’t have internet access or don’t want to stop my forward motion to research something, I insert the word FLIBBIT into my manuscript.

Sometimes I tag a note after it (FLIBBIT: research bomb construction). Sometimes I even use it for parts I’m dissatisfied with (FLIBBIT: This character’s name sucks. Try again), or for situations I don’t have a solution for yet (FLIBBIT: Fix gaping plot hole to correct timeline inaccuracy).

It’s far enough away from being a real word that it’s easy to spot. When I have more time to address the problem, I search for all the FLIBBITs in my manuscript and update, correct, or rewrite those sections.

It makes me feeling better knowing I tagged the issue, even if I’m not going to fix it immediately. That gives me the peace of mind to work forward, and I know never to send out a manuscript to readers without addressing all those FLIBBITs first.

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line dividerRae from What Happened to the Wallflower is a student at New Mexico State University studying English with an Emphasis in Creative Writing. She reads everything, writes strange things, edits, blogs, tweets, and drinks way too much coffee.

Okay, so it’s not really a “secret,” but I wake up at 5 a.m. on the weekdays  and spend until nearly 7 a.m. at my laptop, writing. This means that I don’t have the distraction of my roommate being awake, so my apartment is calm and quiet enough to give myself the kind of environment I can concentrate on my writing in.

It also gives me the added plus of making writing the first thing I do during the day, so I can concentrate on other matters later: school, work, homework. Scheduling my writing time like this has given me a lot more structure, and has forced me to be a lot more accountable toward what I write, and how much I get down a day.

line dividerBriana Mae Morgan has been writing for as long as she can remember. Genre-wise she has settled into YA and NA fiction. She is currently writing a novel called BLOOD AND WATER. You can find out more about her novel and get writing advice on her website, and follow her on Twitter.

I have a couple of tips and tricks for writing. One is a website, focus@will. It plays ambient music that helps me concentrate and really get down to the business of writing. Also, there’s Write or Die, which is great for helping me avoid distractions while I write.

Above all, what helps me produce is remembering not to get it right, but to get it written. After all, you can’t edit a blank page. Turn off your inner editor while writing and you’ll be amazed how much more you get done.

Have you ever used any of the tricks in this post? Do you have some secrets of your own? Share them in the comments below!

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The Ultimate Dystopian Playlist to Write a Killer Story

dystopian playlistHow would you like to listen to some awesome tunes that will help you keep writer’s block at bay and craft that dystopian story you’re dying to tell? *enticing eyebrow waggle*

Well luckily for you, I have spent hours scouring the far reaches of the internet and even braved the corners of the weird part of youtube in order to find the perfect songs to build a sweet dystopian-themed playlist. And because I am a nice person, I am going to share this playlist with you! 😉

I tried to choose songs that had futuristic or electronic sounds, or whose lyrics I thought could fit a dystopian/post apocalyptic world. Some of the songs have a darker feel to them, but I didn’t want the entire playlist to be completely depressing and hopeless so there are upbeat songs as well. I also included several scores without lyrics.

You can listen to the playlist here on youtube, or you can browse the songs below. Enjoy!

The Ultimate Dystopian Playlist

#1: Uprising by Muse

#2: Radioactive by Imagine Dragons

#3: Run Boy Run by Woodkid

#4: Stranger by Skrillex

#5: Who We Are by Imagine Dragons

#6: Everybody Wants to Rule the World by Lorde

#7: The Resistance by Muse

#8: Time is Running Out by Muse

#9: Hanging On by Ellie Goulding

#10: Pompeii by Bastille

#11: From Myself by Paul Hovermale

#12: Hey Brother by Aviichi

#13: Glory and Gore by Lorde

#14: Is Your Love Strong Enough by Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross

#15: Oblivion (featuring Susanne Sundfor) from the Oblivion soundtrack

#16: Midnight City by M83

#17: Intruder by Collide

#18: Help I’m Alive by Metric

#19: Unsustainable by Muse

#20: Apocalypse Please by Muse

Pt. II: Scores Without Lyrics

#1: Panoramic by Atticus Ross

#2: Outland by Atticus Ross

#3: Varuna by E.S. Posthumus

#4: Uprising by Audiomachine

#5: A Thousand Details from Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

So there you have it! How did I do? What songs would you have included on the playlist?

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