Monthly Archives: January 2019

Should You Keep Writing Even if It’s Not Fun Any More?

I mentioned in the Aliventures newsletter a couple of weeks ago that I finished NaNo on 23,000 words: not all that close to the 50,000 words I’d been aiming for!

So what happened? Several things: I had a bad cold, my kids were poorly, and we had a few unexpected little things go wrong. Some good stuff happened, too: I started volunteering one morning a week at my daughter’s school, and I picked up some more freelancing work.

All of this meant for less novel-writing time.

But one key thing that happened, perhaps more important than all the practical difficulties, was that I just wasn’t enjoying writing my novel.

Aiming for 50,000 words in a month was, frankly, unrealistic – and it was stressing me out!

On Sunday 11th November, for instance, I’d spent the day looking after the kids (Paul was out). I’d taken them to a birthday party, caught two trains home, given them tea, settled them into bed, and so on.

My five-year-old wanted me to stay outside her room while she fell asleep, so I sat on the floor with my laptop, trying to write a scene that just wasn’t coming together (and getting interrupted every three minutes by her wanting to ask for things).

This was possibly a new low in terms of “how badly can a writing session go”!

Maybe you’ve had similar times: times when you feel that you should write, but the fun’s gone out of it. When you feel overly pressured by a deadline, or when the project you’re working on has stopped being enjoyable.

Should Writing Be Fun?

There are plenty of types of writing that aren’t ever going to be “fun”, but that we do anyway. Maybe you have to write a lot of emails at work, for instance, or you’re a freelancer writing about topics that don’t particularly engage you.

In these situations, it may not matter that your writing isn’t much fun: you might be perfectly content to do it for the paycheck. And that’s fine! (Though if you hate the writing you’re doing, then it’s probably time to start thinking about a change of career or at least a change of clients.)

If you’re working on a novel, or a collection of poems, however, or you’re writing short stories for competitions – you aren’t necessarily ever going to see any money for your efforts. While there will almost certainly be tough times during your writing, you want – overall! – to be enjoying the process.

What You Can Do to Make Writing Fun Again

If you feel like the fun’s gone out of writing, you might want to:

#1: Take the Pressure Off

Are you rushing to meet an unrealistic deadline, like I was with NaNo? Some people find deadlines helpful and motivating – I’m one of them! – but trying to cram writing into an overpacked schedule isn’t much fun at all.

Fix it: Unless you really have to hit that deadline, could you push it back a bit? Even an extra couple of weeks might make all the difference to how you’re feeling.

#2: Consider Whether You’re Writing the Right Thing

Sometimes, if you feel that your writing is a chore or a bit pointless, it’s because there’s an issue with the thing you’re writing.

Maybe you’ve dashed forward with your novel without really thinking through the plot (which was part of my NaNo problem, too). Or maybe you’re plodding away with something even though you’ve lost interest in that particular idea.

Fix it: If you want to stick with your current project but it feels like it’s not coming together, sit down with a pen and notebook and do some brainstorming. What could you change? What new elements could you add in – or what could you take out?

#3: Give Yourself Permission to Write “Just For Fun”

How often do you write something purely for the sake of writing – to enjoy playing with words, creating characters, exploring an idea, or whatever it might be?

Probably not often!

When life’s busy, I want all my writing to be adding up to something productive, like a finished blog post, or another chapter of my novel. It can be really difficult to allow myself to simply enjoy writing: to focus on the journey itself, not the destination.

Fix it: Can you give yourself a little bit of time to just have fun with your writing – even if it’s just five or ten minutes once a week? You might want to use writing prompts to get you going (I like the “take three nouns” writing prompt generator).

#4: Quit a Project That Isn’t Working

Sometimes, you try something out and … it doesn’t work.

Maybe you started a blog full of enthusiasm, then lost interest after a few weeks or months. (I had two blogs before Aliventures, on two very different topics, and abandoned both years ago.)

Or maybe you began a novel, enjoyed writing the first few chapters, but have now realised it really isn’t going anywhere.

Fix it: It’s OK to quit. In fact, it’s good to quit things that have served their purpose in your life. Perhaps those first 10,000 words of your novel were a crucial writing experience that you needed to go through in order to write something new and better. Maybe that failed blog gave you the skills you need to start a new, successful one.

With any writing project, big or small, it’s normal to go through some difficult patches.

But, most of the time, your writing should be something that you enjoy: something you look forward to, rather than yet another chore you want to cross off your list as soon as possible.

How could you bring the fun back into your writing this week?

Source: aliventures.com

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Resources For Writers

I thought it would be helpful to create a resource page for all of your writing needs. All of these are tools that I use and recommend. They help me work more efficiently and share my writing with the world.

This page will evolve over time as I discover new resources so I’d recommend bookmarking it!

Please Note: Several of the links below are affiliate links which means I will earn a small commission if you buy the item at no extra cost to you. These small sales are how I keep the site up and running. Thanks for your support!

Blog Hosting

Every writer should have a blog. It’s one of the best ways to share your writing with a wider audience. Read my how-to guide on setting up a blog here.

WordPress is the most popular blogging platform. You can set up a free blog at WordPress.com, but if you’re serious about building a professional web presence and having full control of the website’s design, I recommend buying your own domain and a hosting package through a company like Hostgator.

Hostgator – This is an affordable hosting service when you’re first getting started. They offer easy WordPress installs and 24/7 tech support (both by phone & online chat). I’ve hosted several of my websites at HostGator.

WPX Hosting – My current hosting service for this website. Highly recommend them. I love how fast my website loads. 🙂 Their support is incredible, and they will quickly answer any WordPress questions you have (and fix any problems for you). Free SSL certificates, free security protection and support if your website ever gets hacked, and free website migrations.

Blog Design & WordPress Plugins

There are many free WordPress templates to choose from in the WordPress library and, if you’re brand new to creating websites and navigating the WordPress framework, you might just want to try your hand at customizing those.

However, if you want a professional looking website, I recommend investing in a premium theme. Premium themes come with excellent customer support and are far more secure than free templates.

Here are my two favorite theme libraries:

Elegant Themes – Elegant Themes has developed the Divi Theme, an incredibly versatile WordPress theme with a drag & drop page builder that makes it easier than ever to build beautiful websites. (They also have a plugin that lets you use their drag & drop builder with other WordPress themes. I use this on my websites to create sales pages and landing pages.)

Studio Press – Another fantastic provider of WordPress themes. These themes work on the Genesis Framework that is SEO optimized and has rock-solid security. This website is running on the Genesis framework.

Lifestyle Pro Theme – This is the Studio Press theme I am running on this blog.

WordPress Plugins & Website Tools

WordPress can be heavily customized with a special feature called plugins. Here are some of the plugins I recommend:

Akismet (free) – an anti-spam plugin that helps block spam comments.

Yoast SEO (free) – This plugin helps you optimize your content for search engines. I also love that it evaluates each post you write against the Flesch–Kincaid readability test.

Securi Security (free) – A plugin to strengthen your WordPress site’s security.

W3 Total Cache (free) – A plugin that will help you improve your site’s speed so it loads faster for visitors.

MailerLite (free) – Not a plugin. 🙂 This is the email marketing service I use to send my weekly email newsletter (subscribe here!). They’ve created a WordPress plugin so you can embed their email sign-up forms on your site.

I’ll continue to add more plugins & tools here!

Royalty Free Photos

Here are several free photo libraries you can use to find stock photos for your blog posts and other writing needs:

Pixabay – All images and videos on Pixabay are released free of copyrights under Creative Commons.

StockSnap.io – Another big library of high quality, free photos.

Unsplash – A slightly smaller website but an excellent free collection of stunning, high-resolution photos.

eBook & Graphic Design Tools

Canva (free) – Canva is a user-friendly graphic design software with a wide range of drag and drop templates. Excellent for designing an eBook or a social media graphic.

Writing and Editing Tools

Scrivener – A word-processing program for authors that is a must for organizing, structuring, composing, and formatting long documents. (I particularly recommend it if you are working on self-publishing a novel or eBook.)

Pro Writing Aid – An editing tool for professional authors who want to improve their manuscript before sending it to their editors.

Draftin (free) – An easy to use and distraction-free web-based writing interface.

Day One – A simple and elegant journaling app for Macbook and iPhone. It has helped me implement a daily journaling habit.

Evernote (free) – My go-to app for creating quick to-do lists, jotting down notes, and writing up blog post ideas.

Grammarly (free) – A proofreading tool that helps you spot grammatical errors, typos, and awkward sentences.

Hemingway Editor (free) – A web application that evaluates a piece of writing for clarity and simplicity.

Readability Score (free) – A web application that helps you improve your writing by measuring the readability of your text.

Cliche Finder (free) – The Cliche Finder highlights cliches in your text so you can avoid trite, overused expressions in your writing.

CoSchedule Headline Analyzer (free) – The CoSchedule headline analyzer app evaluates how well your blog post’s headline will rank in search engines. It also scores how effectively your headline will result in social shares and click-throughs.

Writing Productivity Tools

Todoist (free) – A task management web application that lets you create to-do lists with recurring dates and times. Use it to remind yourself of your daily writing goals.

Trello (free) –  A fantastic web application for organizing and planning writing projects and working collaboratively.

Marinara Timer (free) – A web-based productivity timer modeled after the Pomodoro technique.

You can find more free web apps for writers in my post here.

Books & Essays on Writing Well

The Elements of Style – This classic writing guide by William Strunk, Jr. and E. B. White includes sections on grammar, commonly misused words and phrases, principles of composition when writing an essay, as well as stylistic techniques.

Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen  – This book will teach you how to market your work more effectively and write compelling copy for your website that connects with visitors. A must-read if you’re a copywriter.

On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction – The title says it all. This is an invaluable guide for anyone who wants to sharpen their nonfiction writing and editing skills.

Storycraft – A must-read for any writer. Using examples from books and newspaper articles, journalist Jack Hart deconstructs how to tell a captivating story. He covers everything from how to develop characters to choosing point of view to bringing scenes to life.

The Memoir Project – An inspiring little guide by Marion Roach-Smith, a former staff writer at The New York Times, all about how to write what you know. This is a must-read for anyone interested in writing a memoir or a personal essay.

Story – One of my favorites! Robert McKee’s screenwriting workshops have earned him an international reputation, and in this book, he lays out everything that you need to know to write powerful stories. An in-depth and fascinating read.

The Story Grid – Shawn Coyne, an editor with 25+ years experience, shows you how to use the Story Grid layout to write a successful novel (or nonfiction book) by telling a compelling story. If you don’t want to purchase the book, you can find all of the information from the book along with free resources at the website Storygrid.com. Make sure to check out the podcast. It’s one of my favorites!

Creating Short Fiction –  Damon Knight shares clear, no-nonsense fiction writing advice on everything from structure to pacing to how to get ideas. There are also lots of excellent exercises to put that advice into practice.

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers – If you’re writing any kind of fiction, you need this book. Helpful for nonfiction as well.

Politics and the English Language – George Orwell’s classic essay on how to write well. Orwell’s essay on why he writes is also worth a read as a nice dose of inspiration: read it here.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s Nobel Lecture – A profound essay on the role of the writer in society and how we can change the world.

Mystery and Manners – A collection of insightful essays by Flannery O’Connor about the craft of writing and the unique mission of Christian writers.

A Moveable Feast – Ernest Hemingway’s memoir of his early years as a writer in the Paris of the 1920s. This book is a fascinating peek into the writing process of a famous author.

Source: nicolebianchi.com

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