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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10 Tricks for Coming Up With Endless Story Ideas

Helpful strategies for coming up with #storyideas. Plus, keep track of all your ideas with a FREE organizer! Coming up with a story idea is a strange process. Sometimes inspiration may slap you in the face.  But most times…well, you’d be lucky for inspiration to give you so much a poke. Usually you have to coax little nuggets of inspiration from deep within the dark recesses of your brain.

What’s hiding in your mind-palace? Here are some tricks for luring out the plot bunnies.

#1: Look at Photos

I draw a lot of inspiration from photos, and they really help to get my creative juices flowing. Pinterest is an excellent source for photos. Simply search “story inspiration” (or something similar) under boards, and you will find great visual resources compiled by fellow writers.

I have created some story inspiration boards myself, which I organize by story topic. When you look at photos, ask yourself: what is the story behind it? What happened before? What will happen after?

#2: Brush up on Your History

If you love history this is a great place to find story ideas and inspiration. Choose an event or time period that interests you and read up on it. You’ll be surprised what cool facts you’ll uncover that would make an awesome story!

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#3: Explore Mythology

Mythology has a wealth of ideas waiting to  be harvested. I use mythological inspiration in nearly all of my stories. A great starting point for finding interesting myths from all of the world is Encyclopedia Mythica.

#4: Writing Prompts

Writing prompts can be a good way to get you in a creative mood. I’ve written a couple stories from prompts lately myself. For ideas, check out my writing prompts board on Pinterest.

#5: Listen to Music

When I’m in the midst of a creative dry spell, I love to listen to music. In my case I love epic scores–they arouse a variety of emotions and I try to picture a scene to fit with the music (I highly recommend E.S. Posthumus if you like epic music). Songs with lyrics are also great as you can imagine stories that fit the lyrics.

#6: Daydream–Ask ‘What If?’

Take some time to just brainstorm. Look at the world and ask ‘what if?’ What if Hitler had won WWII? What if we could breathe underwater? What if your boyfriend turned out to be an alien refugee?

#7: Travel or Explore

Getting out in the world exposes you to different ideas and cultures and offers a wealth of inspiration. But you don’t have to go across the globe–you can explore your hometown. What would be different or unique about it to an outsider? Become a tourist in your own city and discover adventures you can take without leaving home.

#8: Get out in Nature

Humans have a deep connection with nature, whether we realize it or not. Exploring nature can help you relax and give you inspiration for settings.

#9: Browse the Titles of Other Books

This one is kind of weird, but it’s one I really like. I’ve actually written a short story using this method. Get on Goodreads or Amazon and look for books with interesting titles. When you find one that draws you in, try to imagine a story that could go along with that title.

#10: What do You Want to Say? What are You Passionate About?

A good source for inspiration is passion. Are there any issues, topics, or interests you’re passionate about? How could they inspire a story? For example, I’m passionate about horses and my first novel heavily involved them. I’m also passionate about the issue of human trafficking and want to write a story about this topic in the future. What do you feel strongly about?

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Keep Track of Your Ideas!

Most importantly, be sure you keep track of all your fantastic story ideas! Always write everything down–don’t rely on your memory to keep track of ideas! A Word doc or journal are both good options.

Personally, I prefer to have a physical copy of my ideas for two reasons: 1) I brainstorm better with a pen in hand, and 2) I don’t trust computers. I always keep hard copies of my stuff because you never know when your hard drive might decide to go kaput and send all of your hard work into the abyss of nothingness. Yeah, no bueno.

So be sure to properly care for your ideas so they don’t get lost!

How do you come up with story ideas? Comment below, I would love to hear from you!

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7 Things No One Tells You About Writing a Novel

blogpost1 finDo you have a crazy-awesome idea you want to turn into a novel? Brilliant!

But before you begin, there are some dark secrets about writing you need to know. If you think writing a novel will be an effortless pouring of inspiration onto the page leading to a NYT best-seller and a six-figure publishing deal, you may want to hit pause.

Consider the following before you start joyously tippity-tapping away at the keyboard.

#1: It’s a lot of hard work

Okay I lied, you’ve probably heard this one already. But have you heard it from Ernest Hemingway?

There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit at a typewriter and bleed.

Sounds delightful, yes? Not only is the act of writing a labor in and of itself, but it is also mental and emotional work–some days it will drain you.

#2: It’s scary

When you write, you bare your soul. You make your innermost thoughts, beliefs, ideas, and feelings vulnerable to critique by the world. There is an underlying fear of failure and rejection with every word you type. Writing is an act of courage.

#3: You will have to make sacrifices

Writing a novel will suck up your time like a dementor sucks up happiness. Do you ever find you don’t have enough time to write? A serious writer has to make time, and this means making sacrifices. To make time to write I have sometimes sacrificed sleep, outings with friends, and movie nights.

#4: You must overcome the voice that says, “No one will want to read this.”

You know what I’m talking about. That little demon sitting on your shoulder, niggling in your ear. Yeah, that guy. He’ll tell you that your work is worthless and you’re wasting your time, but you have to learn to tell him to shut up. Basically, writing is an intense mental battle that will make you feel like a schizophrenic.

#5: Sometimes you will hate your writing—but that’s normal

Yep, you read that right. Every writer hates their writing. It’s healthy. So go ahead, hate away. It shows you are able to view your work critically, which is an important skill. Just don’t take your hatred to the extreme like Kafka, who asked his friend to destroy all of his fiction upon his death. Avoid melodramatics.

#6: You can’t wait for inspiration to write

That image of the writer enraptured by inspiration and pouring a brilliant novel onto the page with ease is a myth. Inspiration comes and goes in spurts. Writer’s block is the notorious beast that separates the wanna-be’s from the real writers. You must learn to slay it.

#7: You will spend most of your time editing

Your story isn’t finished once you type “the end.” In fact, that was just the beginning. You will spend more time editing (and re-editing) your novel than you did actually writing it. By the time you’re finished, the very sight of your novel will probably give you the strong urge to vomit. Or slam your head against a wall. Editing is a necessary evil.

If none of these dirty little secrets deter you, congrats! You have the mettle of a true writer. Ready to start on that novel? Next time, we’ll dig into creating life-like characters.

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