Tag Archives: inspiration

Writing Prompts: 7 Inspirational Ideas to Spark Your Creative Writing

7 Creative Writing Prompts to Spark a New Story

While the event doesn’t officially start until Monday, you may be wondering what to write about each day. Here are seven inspirational ideas to fuel your creativity as you tackle each 1,000 words of the challenge! What kinds of stories will these writing prompts lead you to tell?

1. Tell a “True” Story

The truth is, indeed, often stranger than fiction. Changing names and events as necessary, tell a true story from your own life and childhood about characters other than yourself. As an example, I’m currently workshopping a story from my hometown where a disgruntled employee blew up a gas station.

Here are some questions to ask:

  • What crazy character from your own life is empathetic, at least in his/her goals or desires?
  • What happened before-and-after a memorable childhood event? How can I explore the causes and effects that I didn’t witness?

2. “Travel” to an Extreme

With a quick Wikipedia and Google Map search, you can “visit” the South Pole, Mt. Everest, the mouth of a volcano — darned near anywhere. Set a fifteen-minute timer (so you don’t get too distracted) and do some super quick research, and then start writing!

  • Who visits this place regularly as an employee or family member? For whom is this “normal?”
  • What important object or goal would one pursue here? Why?
  • What unlikely or surprising reason might someone travel to this location? Explore that possibility!

3. Explore an Abandoned Location

The world is filled with once-glorious places that have since been abandoned. These incredible locations easily inspire the imagination, and website Bored Panda shares dozens of hi-resolution shots to fuel your pen!

  • What did ordinary life look like in these places before the end came?
  • What did that fateful day bring when everyone had to, or chose to, leave?
  • What happens to when a team of explorers go there today?

4. Change a Law of Physics

Science fiction and fantasy stories begin with one simple idea: The laws of physics aren’t actually laws.

Inspire yourself by asking, what if gravity, light, chaos, color, or practically anything related to a law of the world, was different? Let your story explore the possibilities!

  • Does everyone experience this, or just one person? Is that your hero?
  • What goals would someone want in this different world?

5. The Past, but From a New Point of View

History is usually agreed upon by most of its students. But what about the men and women who lived these events? What about the people who lost, died, or were pushed to the side, even if they were in the moral right?

Give “historical fiction” a twist of your own with this fun spark to your inspiration!

  • Were any of history’s villains empathetic? Whose story would be fun to tell?
  • Who was a witness to a famous historical event, and how was his/her life changed by that event?
  • What common, everyday (boring) goals were our great historical ancestors pursuing that might be surprising?

6. Dialogue Piece

Set yourself comfortably in a busy place with lots of conversation, like a coffee shop, restaurant, or waiting room. Listen specifically for a conversation with some conflict in it. Without being conspicuous, take over the conversation with your pen and explore where it goes and why.

  • Why do people speak with certain speech patterns or habits?
  • What motivates people to curse or use certain terms of endearment?
  • What aren’t your characters talking about, but avoiding or disguising?

NOTE: This is a great starter for folks with “writer’s block.” Don’t let the pressure to be “good enough” stop you from creating! Just have fun and try new things!

7. “What if I Lost It All?”

With this prompt, we force a protagonist to take a risk and lose everything. Then, we have to answer, “what then?”

Take a character from a work-in-progress, or quickly dream one up by giving him/her a goal and a problem. Then, immediately describe that character making a choice to pursue his/her goal, and failing.

  • What physical consequences would arise, and how would your protagonist deal with them?
  • What new goal would the protagonist find, and how would he/she begin pursuing it?
  • What other characters might appear in this moment of total loss?

Get Inspired!

There are so many other ways to get inspired, and these seven ideas barely scratch the surface.

So don’t give up on your commitment to the 7 Day Creative Writing Challenge! No matter what, dig deep and find something fun to explore and write about.

You’re worth it. Your passion to write is worth it. And to give that passion the writing habit it deserves, you need to complete the 7 Day Creative Writing Challenge like a champ.

Because that’s what this is all about: Building a writing habit.

What inspirational idea helps you write something new? Let us know in the comments! 

By David Safford

Source : thewritepractice.com

Visit us at First Edition Design Publishing

How to Construe and Convey Tone in Poetry

In literature, tone is the mood, attitude, or emotional sensibility of a written work. In poetry, tone expresses the narrator’s disposition toward the poem’s subject, the reader, or the narrative itself.

We might describe a poem’s tone as irreverent, relaxed, sarcastic, solemn, jubilant, or desperate. Tone can be any emotion or state of mind, and a single poem can include a combination of tones.

When we’re speaking, our tone is expressed through inflection. We use pitch and stress to communicate the attitude behind the words we’re saying. If I say, “Get out of here!” the tone of my voice will let you know whether I’m literally telling you to leave the room or whether I’m figuratively saying, “You’ve got to be kidding.”

In writing, we must approach tone with care, because it is often and easily misinterpreted. For example, sarcasm is commonly misread in text messaging and on social media. Someone types a sarcastic statement in jest, but the recipient takes it literally and may get offended or confused. Some people mark sarcastic remarks with to ensure clarity for this reason.

If communicating tone is so difficult, how can we interpret and communicate it effectively in poetry?

Tone in Poetry

Tone is conveyed through every aspect of a poem: imagery, connotation, even rhythm.

Consider two poems about death. One poem might use an image of a sunset while another uses dried flowers. The image of a sunset is warm, restful, even relaxing. But the dried flowers are brittle and lifeless. The image that the poet chooses will determine whether the poem’s tone is comforting or despairing.

Connotation is similarly crucial in poetry. Think about the difference between the word bum and the word pauper. Although these two words might be used to describe the same person or situation, they have strikingly different connotations. In a poem about poverty, the word choice will tint the meaning and reveal the poem’s attitude about the poor.

A poem’s rhythm can also contribute to its tone. As mentioned, when we speak, our inflections help listeners determine the attitude behind the words we’re saying. Rhythm is used similarly in poetry to affect tone. Short snappy lines could make a poem feel frantic or excited. Lengthy lines with a lot of long vowels can give a poem a relaxed or haughty tone.

These are just a few examples of elements that convey tone in poetry. Can you identify any other literary devices that are common in poetry and explain how they might be used to convey tone?

Studying Tone in Poetry

Consider the confident, sassy attitude of Maya Angelou’s “Phenomenal Woman” contrasted with the sorrowful yet playful tone of “anyone lived in a pretty how town” by E.E. Cummings. Or contrast the tone of Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” with the tone of Emily Dickinson’s “Because I Could Not Stop for Death.” How do these poems differ in tone? How did the poets convey tone? And how does the tone of each poem affect the reader?

Select two poems from the literary canon and for each one, choose one to three words that describe its tone. Then look for the elements within each poem that convey its tone (metaphor, imagery, etc.) and note those as well, pulling lines, phrases, and words from the poem to support your interpretation. Finally, write a short essay of about one page comparing and contrasting the tones of the two poems and explaining how each poem communicates its tone.

How Do You Tone?

When you review your work, do you check for tone? Have you ever made revisions because the language in a poem wasn’t conveying the right tone? Share your thoughts on tone in poetry by leaving a comment, and keep writing poems!

By Melissa Donovan

Source: writingforward.com

Visit us at First Edition Design Publishing

 

Fiction Writing Exercises: Step Out of Your Shoes

I recently shared a writing exercise that encouraged you to get into a character’s head. Today’s exercise asks you to go a step further and explore characters and ideas that are your polar opposites.

One of the most exciting and challenging aspects of being a writer is creating characters. It is an opportunity to step outside of your own reality and take on a completely different persona. Unless you’re an actor, an undercover agent, or just plain crazy, you don’t get many chances in life to do that.

Writing also lets us explore ideas and share our thoughts, opinions, and feelings on a wide range of topics. To Kill a Mockingbird addressed racism, The Da Vinci Code critically explored religious doctrine, and The Hunger Games examined troublesome aspects of our society, particularly glam culture, class systems, war, and violence among teenagers.

As a fiction writer, there will be times when you need to get into the head of a character who is your polar opposite. You’ll need to have a deep comprehension of ideologies that are not aligned with your own. If you can’t do that, then your story will lack believability.

Today’s fiction writing exercises give you practice in stepping out of your shoes so you can walk in someone else’s.

Realistic Characters

For characters to truly resonate with readers, they must be vibrant and stir the audience’s emotions. Readers need to become attached to the characters, feel sympathy, compassion, even love (or hate) for them. It’s not easy to fabricate people (or other beings) that don’t really exist, have never existed, yet make them seem real. But it can be done.

So how do writers achieve this great feat?

Much credence has been given to the old adage write what you know. Base a character on a friend or family member or yourself. But what fun is that? If you’re an accountant by day, do you really want to play an accountant in your fantasy world too? Probably not. And when you create a character, that’s pretty much what you’re doing, playing a role. You must get into the character’s mind, live the life, absorb the environment in which the character lives. You have to be your character, even if you have absolutely nothing in common with that character.

Fiction Writing Exercises

Each fiction writing exercise below encourages you to get into a mindset that opposes your own way of thinking or existing. Try one exercise or try them all — just make sure to have fun.

Exercise #1: Write a personal essay from the perspective of someone who is your polar opposite.

If you grew up in the big city, write as a country dweller. If you grew up on a farm or lived in a small town all your life, write about an army brat who was raised living in dozens of towns, going to different schools each year. Are you a stay-at-home, married parent? Write as a swinging single making it big in the big apple. If you’re a successful businessperson, write as a prison inmate who grew up on the wrong side of the tracks.

You can also write as your ideological opposite. If you’re Buddhist, write from the perspective of a Christian. If you’re Christian, write from the perspective of an atheist. Are you a political junkie? Write from the viewpoint of the political party you oppose.

For the essay, focus on something you have never experienced or that you disagree with. If you are from the city and you’re writing about the country, write a descriptive essay about a farm setting. If you’re a liberal writing as a conservative, choose an issue and write an essay arguing for the conservative position on that issue.

The idea is to get outside of your comfort zone and explore a different way of life or mode of thinking than the one you know. You can then use this exercise to develop a character who is wildly different from you.

Excercise #2: Write a scene with two characters who are opposites.

Create two characters: one who is just like you (write yourself into the scene if you want) and one who is not like you at all. Write a scene that explores their differences. Here are some suggestions:

  • An old-fashioned rancher and a highly successful, modern urban businesswoman are seated next to each other on a plane.
  • A Democratic state politician and a Republican lobbyist get stuck in an elevator together.
  • Someone who is devoutly religious gets into a deep conversation with an atheist at a party.

There is only one rule here: Both characters must be sympathetic. In other words, you cannot make the character who is your opposite into any kind of villain or antagonist, and neither character will change his or her views or lifestyle by the end of the scene. Your goal is to gain understanding, not make a statement.

Exercise #3: Live your dreams and realize your nightmares.

A lot of people are terrified of public speaking. They may or may not have the desire to get up and talk to a crowd, but it doesn’t matter because their fear prevents them from doing so. And we all have dreams — some are goals that we can or will pursue, but other dreams are far-off fantasies that we know will never come to fruition.

For this exercise, you’ll write a short story or scene in first person. In the scene, you’ll do something that you’ve never done — something you may never do in reality but can certainly tackle in a piece of fiction.

Here are some examples:

  • Greatest fear: Either write a scene where you overcome your greatest fear and face the thing that terrifies you, or write as a character who does not have this fear and therefore faces it with ease. For example, if you have a fear of flying, write as an airplane pilot.
  • Dreams and goals: Have you ever wanted to travel somewhere but haven’t gotten around to it? Do you hope to someday find the love of your life or become a star in your career field? Are you working toward your dreams and goals? Write as a character who is living the life you hope to live someday.
  • Fantasy: Do you have a crush on a celebrity? Have you ever wished you possessed magical powers? Ever wondered what it would be like to live in the far-off future or the distant past? Write as a character living out your fantasies.

The idea here is to do something in writing that you’ve never done in real life. It can be something you might still someday achieve or it could be something impossible or unlikely.

Fiction Writing Exercises for Fun and Focus

Fiction writing exercises like these will help you when you’re writing about characters who are not like you in significant ways. These exercises will also expand the types of characters you feel comfortable bringing into your stories.

If any of these exercises stick and you get really into it, write several pages, or try doing the exercise again with different characters. You might unveil a new side of yourself that you didn’t know you had. You might find it completely uncomfortable and decide to go back to writing what you know, but at least you will have tried something new.

Remember, fiction writing exercises are supposed to be fun, but their purpose is to challenge you to try new things and think in new ways, so be sure to truly step out of your shoes and go beyond your comfort zone.

Feel free to post comments about your character. Who or what will you become? What shoes are you going to step into when you step out of your own?

By Melissa Donovan

Source: writingforward.com

Visit us at First Edition Design Publishing

Writers’ groups are really made for writers

“Marketing is a long and arduous process that I wish I would have known more about in the beginning…” opens today’s Publisher’s Weekly article about the professional benefits of joining a writers’ group. The quote came from Deeann Callis Graham, whose book, “Head On,” addresses the issue of areata, an autoimmune disease that causes baldness in men and women. Indeed, many writers embark on their craft in with the idea that a knight in shining armor attached to a publishing house will do the marketing, when in reality, it is largely you, the author, hustling for publicity, and putting your name and face and work out there for all the world to critique. Perhaps if many did know about the marketing process there would be even fewer writers.

But I digress. The PW piece likens writers’ groups to a kind of group therapy, where members strive to raise each writer’s spirit and technique, while offering constructive advice in a safe place. According to Graham, “Our group of seven are personally invested in our individual and shared successes, and we inspire each other to reach our writing and marketing goals.”

In addition, having a strong writers’ network, though it may not comprise Stephen King or Toni Morrison, nevertheless makes writers – especially first-timers – feel less alone while navigating the wild, wild world of publishing. Members learn from others’ successes and mistakes, and grow their network beyond a notoriously solitary writer’s world.

Graham self-published “Head On,” which a PW review called “heartwarming” and “a powerful compilation of profiles with a sincere and encouraging message.” Graham believes she would not have gotten this far without her group of creative cheerleaders. So if you need a kick in the rear to get going, or you’ve already in the middle of a manuscript you think has potential, consider sharing it with a group of your peers first, not only to learn about writing, but about the industry. Groups can be found at Meetups, indie bookstores (yes, they still exist), or, if push comes to shove, perhaps by starting your own.

By Heather Quinlan

Source: slushpile.netslushpile.net

Visit us at First Edition Design Publishing

 

3 Artistic Truths Writers Can Find in a Miami Museum

Last week, I was able to escape the bomb cyclone and travel to Miami. Before you get too jealous, Florida was also experiencing an unusually cold week, and any time spent on the beach involved a sweatshirt and a blanket!

The Writer's Studio: 3 Artistic Truths Writers Can Find in a Miami Museum

Lucky for me, Miami has much more than its famously beautiful beaches. Its city energy is on par with New York and people travel from all over the world to eat authentic Latin food and experience the art scene. There were tons of museums and exhibitions I could visit (and take shelter from the cold!).

3 Artistic Truths Writers Can Find in The Everywhere Studio

One of the (free) exhibitions I visited in Miami was called “The Everywhere Studio,” which is on display at the brand new Institute of Contemporary Art. During my visit, I couldn’t help but be reminded of my own writer’s journey, The Write Practice, and all of you. Here’s why.

1. The Everywhere Studio recognized that art can be work

One of my favorite pieces of The Everywhere Studio was a video of a man bouncing in a corner like a bowling pin glued to the ground. It was redundant. It was banal. It was, according to its description, a “performance of endurance [that] invokes the idea of art as a form of labor, and not merely creative expression.”

Photo of The Everywhere Studio at ICA Miami, courtesy of Monica Clark.

Many times writing is a blast, but other times, we’re literally just trying to meet a deadline or reach our daily word minimum and it’s just work. Or worse, it’s actively boring.

But at The Write Practice we embrace this part of writing as practice because it’s how beginners become good writers, and how good writers become great writers. We know that those moments are an inevitable stop on the road to greatness (or at least completion).

2. The Everywhere Studio had a wall of journal entries

I think most writers would have gravitated toward a grand display of one artist’s thoughts and ideas and doubts and mantras.

Is the journal not the quintessential writer’s studio?

Photo of The Everywhere Studio at ICA Miami, courtesy of Monica Clark.

The intro to the The Everywhere Studio noted that the term “studio” has evolved such that many artists can’t point to a physical location where all the art happens. We’re increasingly mobile. And rent is expensive! To me, the journal is a great interpretation of the writer’s “studio.” It’s personal, it’s a mess, it’s incomplete.

Also, I think we all can relate to this gem (a close up of the above piece):

Photo of The Everywhere Studio at ICA Miami, courtesy of Monica Clark.

3. The Everywhere Studio created a sense of community

For many artists, especially writers, the process of creating can be a solitary one because often you’re literally alone.

Photo of The Everywhere Studio at ICA Miami, courtesy of Monica Clark.

But there are actually a lot of people out there who can identify with the ups and downs of the creative process, which I remembered while visiting The Everywhere Studio. Strolling through the museum, I found myself able to relate to many of the artists’ studio interpretations, which was comforting.

Photo of The Everywhere Studio at ICA Miami, courtesy of Monica Clark.

Writers conferences and writing groups are great for finding this sense of community. So is The Write Practice. 🙂

The Art of Museums

Visiting The Everywhere Studio was a fun opportunity to look at my art and my writing in a different way. If you haven’t recently, I’d encourage you to visit a museum or exhibition near you. Don’t limit yourself to learning about just other writers: challenge yourself to find connections between writing and all the other kinds of art and creation you see.

Who knows what new inspiration you’ll discover?

Photos of The Everywhere Studio at ICA Miami are courtesy of Monica Clark.

What museums have inspired you? Or, what’s your writer’s studio? Let us know in the comments.

All the images are taken from https://thewritepractice.com/writers-studio/?hvid=1XdbkC

By Monica M. Clark
Source: thewritepractice.com

Visit us at First Edition Design Publishing

 

 

How to Revise Your Story Like a Pro

It’s suddenly 2018. Have you set an awesome writing goal for yourself this year?

I have, and I’m incredibly excited about it!

For some of us, that goal involves writing something brand new.

But for most of us, our 2018 writing goals probably involve rewriting a work in progress. It’s a draft, roughly complete or unfinished, that never seems to be “done,” no matter how much we tinker with it.

There’s a reason we get stuck in these perpetual works in progress. And if we don’t figure out how to overcome it, we might find ourselves in the same sticky mess 365 days from now.

The Myth of Revision

In secondary school, we are taught the writing process: Plan, Draft, Revise, Proofread, Publish.

As a secondary teacher, I face the most resistance from my students in that third step: Revision.

The first reason why is that we simply don’t want to do it. Revision isn’t nearly as enjoyable as creation, or as easy as correcting surface errors. Plus, it can be overwhelming, leaving us wondering if we even know how to revise a story.

But the second reason why we resist is the word itself, “Revision.” It’s a misleading term. It doesn’t really exist.

What we really have to do when we revise is rewrite.

And no one wants to rewrite, because rewriting is painful.

Demo Day

To properly revise, we have to identify that our existing creation is deeply flawed.

And while it may have been beautiful once before, it is negatively affecting the story around it.

Much like the Demo Day scenes in our favorite HGTV shows, we can’t simply work around the flaws. They’re affect everything else too directly, and have to be taken out with a sledgehammer.

Yet we don’t want to do it. We feel like we’re hurting the ones we love, or “our babies.”

Revision can literally feel like betrayal and death, because we have to accept that our creation, something that we have lovingly cultivated, must be destroyed.

Is it possible to keep parts of our old creation and rebuild around it?

Yes, but it’s surprising (and depressing) how seldom this works. Odds are, if a chapter, paragraph, or sentence isn’t working, it has to go.

Ouch.

Saving Our “Children”

Here’s the good news: Our creations don’t literally have to die.

Instead, they should get added to a “storage” document. When I was writing my novel, The Bean of Life, I was swinging my editorial sledgehammer like Chip and Joanna after drinking a case of Red Bull (my wife watches a lot of Fixer Upper).

Yet every one of my beautiful creations, my little narrative children, was carefully cut and pasted into my “TBoL Storage” document. For each stored bit, I labeled it with a bookmarked heading so I could easily find it if needed.

And you know what? I used it. There were many times I went back into that document and rescued a sentence or phrase that still had a role to play in the story.

But to be honest, I don’t remember 95% of those bits in that storage document (which is 50,000 words long). I’ve forgotten them, mostly because they were ultimately forgettable.

So here’s a tip for how to revise your story: do yourself the loving favor of protecting your creations. Never hit the “Delete” button (unless it’s just a typo). Always cut-and-paste your creations into storage, where they will be safe.

Enlightened Rewriting

To truly revise our work in progress and bring it to a state of “done,” we must rewrite it — often from a blank page one.

This doesn’t sound fun, and it will certainly be a lot of work.

But this new creation won’t feel anything like the first time. A first draft is like hacking our way through dense, dangerous jungle. This draft will be like climbing the stairs of an ancient temple where an enlightened monk awaits us at the top.

Here’s why you need to rewrite on a blank page: A crowded page is a prison; a blank page is freedom.

Trying to work within the confines of our old ideas and rigid prose does not provide the creation freedom that we need.

We need space. We need opportunity.

Maybe a blank page is something you find intimidating. No problem. Keep an important piece of description, or a line of dialogue, to spark your creativity. Give yourself a launch pad.

But remove the shackles of yesterday’s ideas.

It’s a new year, a time for new ideas. And it’s time for a major breakthrough on that perpetual work in progress.

Rewrite With Confidence!

Every old draft is a massive lesson that teaches us about our stories. The fact that we didn’t “get it right” doesn’t make us failures — it makes us artists. Art is failure of a very persistent nature. Some of the best pieces of art in the world were regarded as failures by their creators and contemporaries, and now are revered and copied.

So (re)write this year with confidence!

If your goal is to build the habits and mindset of a successful storyteller, this is a crucial step to take. We have to be able to put old ideas aside, learn from them, and take risky steps forward. Otherwise we will be stuck in a prison of the past, forever fearing the touch of the creative sledgehammer and its wonderful power.

What do you think? Can you revise, even on a crowded page, filled with old ideas that might not be working? Or do you prefer the freedom of an empty page of unlimited possibility?

What steps do you take to revise your stories? Let the community know in the comments!

By David Safford
Source: thewritepractice.com

Visit us at First Edition Design Publishing

Critiques Make Your Writing Better, So Grin and Bear Them

Today I’d like to share an excerpt from my book 10 Core Practices for Better Writing.

This excerpt is from “Chapter Seven: Feedback,” which offers tips for giving and receiving critiques as well as coping with public criticism. The excerpt I’ve chosen to share today explains how to use critiques to make your writing better, and it also touches on dealing with difficult critiques.

“Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.” – Winston Churchill

There are two schools of thought about whether critiques of your work are beneficial.

One school of thought says that art is subjective; a critique is nothing more than someone’s opinion, and critiques might harm the artistic integrity of your work by interjecting someone else’s ideas and visions into it.

The other school of thought says that art may be subjective, but other people’s opinions matter and can actually be helpful. Writers may be too close to their own work to view it objectively, so a second opinion reveals strengths and weaknesses that the author simply can’t detect.

In my experience, when approached thoughtfully, critiques do far more good for your writing than harm. In fact, a critique can harm your work only if you let it, and let’s face it: ultimately, you’re the one who’s responsible for what you write.

It’s true that a critique is mostly someone else’s opinion about your work. But critiques also include ideas to improve your writing—ideas that may not have occurred to you. Additionally, a good critic will point out mechanical errors—grammar and spelling mistakes that slipped past you.

Critiques are designed to help writers, not to offend them or make them feel incapable. But the human ego is a fragile and funny thing. Some folks simply can’t handle the notion that despite all their hard work, the piece they’ve written is less than perfect.

As a writer, you have to decide whether you truly want to excel at your craft. If you do, then you need to put your ego aside and learn how to accept critiques graciously. If you can’t do that, there’s a good chance your writing will never improve and your work will always be mediocre.

Critiques are not tools of torture. They are meant to help you. If the critique is put together in a thoughtful and meaningful way, it should lift your spirits by pointing out strengths in the piece, but it should also raise some red flags by marking areas that need improvement.

Usually, critiques sting a little. That’s okay. Sometimes, you’ll get lucky and your suspicions about what is weak in your writing will only be confirmed. Other times, you’ll be surprised that the critic found weaknesses in parts of the work that you thought were the strongest.

Whether a critique will be beneficial or harmful depends entirely on you. Obviously, nobody can make you change what you’ve written; it’s up to you to pick and choose what you revise.

Tips for Accepting Writing Critiques and then Writing Better

With practice and by following the tips below, you’ll learn how to overcome your own ego; how to obtain a beneficial critique, evaluate it objectively, and apply it to your writing thoughtfully; and for all that, you’ll be a better writer.

  • Find someone who is well read, tactful, honest, and knowledgeable about writing. If you can find a critic who possesses all these traits, then you have overcome the first hurdle, because such persons are not easy to find.
  • Polish your work as much as you can before handing it over. Do not send a rough draft to someone who will be critiquing your work, otherwise much of the feedback you receive may address problems you could have found and dealt with yourself. The point of a critique is to step beyond your own perspective and abilities. Note: Some writers get developmental edits or use alpha readers who read the rough draft and then give general feedback on the story or idea. This is not a critique in the traditional sense. It’s more for bouncing ideas around.
  • Don’t harass the person who is critiquing your work by calling them every day, especially if they’re doing you a favor. If you are working under any kind of deadline, plan accordingly.
  • If possible, do not review the critique in the presence of the person who prepared it. The best way to first review a critique is to set aside some time alone. In some cases, you’ll do critiques in workshops or writing groups where you have to be prepared to hear live feedback. In these situations, there is usually an instructor guiding the critiques to make sure they are presented and accepted graciously.
  • You may have an emotional reaction. Some of the feedback may make you angry or despondent. Know that this is normal and it will pass.
  • After you review the critique, let it sit for a day or two. In time, your emotions will subside and your intellect will take over. The reasonable part of your brain will step in and you’ll be able to absorb the feedback objectively.
  • Revisit the critique with an open mind. Try to treat your own writing as if it were someone else’s. As you review it, ask yourself how the suggestions provided can be applied, and envision how they will make your work better.
  • Figure out what is objective and what is personal in the critique. Critics are human. Some of their findings may be technical—mistakes that you should definitely fix. Other findings will be highly subjective (this character is unlikable, this dialogue is unclear, etc.). You may have to make judgment calls to determine where the critic is inserting his or her personal tastes.
  • Decide what you’ll use and what you’ll discard. Remember, the critic is not in your head and may not see the big picture of your project.
  • Thank your critics. After all, they took the time to help you, and even if you didn’t like what they had to say or how they said it—even if the critique itself was weak—just be gracious, say thanks, and move on. Don’t argue about the feedback.
  • Now you can take the feedback you’ve received and apply it to your work. Edit and tweak the project based on the suggestions that you think will best benefit the piece.
  • You can apply the feedback to future projects too. Take what you learned from this critique and use it when you’re working on your next project. In this way, your writing (not just a single project) will consistently improve.

In some cases, you may not have control over who critiques your work. If it’s published, anyone can assess it, and they can assess it publicly. If you’re taking a class or workshop, peer-to-peer critiques may be required. In cases like these, it’s essential that you keep a cool head. Even if someone is unnecessarily harsh or rude in their (uninvited) delivery, respond tactfully and diplomatically.

If you can obtain useful critiques and apply the feedback to your work, your writing will improve dramatically. Critiques are one of the most effective and fastest ways of making your writing better.

Good luck with your critiques, and keep writing. Pick up a copy of 10 Core Practices for Better Writing for more tips and ideas to continuously improve your writing.

By Melissa Donovan
Source: writingforward.com

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20 Creative Writing Careers

If creative writing is your passion, then you’d probably enjoy a career in which you could spend all day (or at least most of the day) pursuing that passion.

But creative writing is an artistic pursuit, and we all know that a career in the arts isn’t easy to come by.

It takes hard work, drive, dedication, a whole lot of spirit, and often, a willingness to take big financial risks — as in not having much money while you’re waiting for your big break.

When we think of people who make a living through writing, novelists and journalists come to mind immediately. But what other jobs are out there for folks who want to make creative writing the work that puts food on the table?

The Creative Writing Career List

Here’s a list of twenty creative writing careers that you can consider for your future. I’m not making any promises. You have to go out and find these jobs yourself, but they do exist. You just have to look for them and then land them.

  1. Greeting Card Author
  2. Comic Book Writer
  3. Novelist
  4. Creativity Coach
  5. Writing Coach
  6. Advertising (Creative)
  7. Screenwriter
  8. Songwriter (Lyricist)
  9. Freelance Short Fiction Writer
  10. Creative Writing Instructor
  11. Legacy Writer (write people’s bios and family histories)
  12. Ghostwriter
  13. Travel Writer (if you travel)
  14. Article Writer (write, submit, repeat)
  15. Columnist
  16. Video Game Writer (includes storytelling/fiction!)
  17. Personal Poet (write personalized poems for weddings, funerals, childbirths, etc.)
  18. Playwright
  19. Blogger (don’t tell me you don’t have a blog yet!)
  20. Creative Writing Consultant

I’m not saying you’re going to make a lot of money with some of these creative writing careers. You might have to earn your creating writing income part-time or on the side. But if you do what you love, the money (i.e. the success) just might follow. You’ll never know unless you try, right?

Do you have any creative writing careers to add to this list? Share your suggestions by leaving a comment.

By Melissa Donovan
Source: writingforward.com

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Surviving the Newbie Blues

When I was a fledgling writer (and I do mean fledgling), I heard the adage that good writers read–a lot. And being a literary know-it-all with my six weeks of experience backing me up, I scoffed. “Read? Who has time to read? It’s all I can do to write a paragraph without being interrupted by three teenagers or dinner preparations or any one of many other distractions that each and every writer in the world faces.” Poor me. Little did I know back then that I’d condemned myself to Newbieland for as long as it took me to truly understand what writing is all about.

Writing is not romantic, easy, nor is it a profession for the faint-hearted. No one writes alone in a vine-covered garret or the tower of a crystal palace with servants to take care of the mundane things of life–like earning a living if your writing career doesn’t bring in several thousand dollars the first month or so. (That was sarcasm.) Instead, writers spend precious stolen moments honing their craft until life settles down. Maybe that’s when your spouse comes home to watch the kids, or the pizza delivery guy shows up and everyone’s too busy eating their deep-crust pepperoni with extra cheese pizza to pester you, or when the kids go to bed. Maybe it’s early morning or late evening, noon hours, coffee breaks, weekends, and may be, just maybe, it’s not until your retirement years.

My point is that just because I was trying my hand at writing didn’t mean the world would kindly step aside for me to work my genius and crank out bestseller after bestseller. That idea was quashed fairly quickly there in Newbieland where I resided until I’d learned a few hard lessons, including:

1.)  The writing field is jam-packed with talented, ambitious people who more often than not–no, make that always–knew a heck of a lot more than I did. Being a newbie was on one hand thrilling; on the other, terrifying, and I admit I often had the Newbie Blues.

2.)  Nobody has enough time to write. Nobody. Even the successful writers (and you know who you are, Successful Writers, although I imagine you’re not reading this) who consistently hit the bestseller lists probably have trouble with life getting in the way of their craft. Writing is no different than anything else we want to do in life. We need to make time and space for it.

3.)  It doesn’t come easy. Being a new writer means you know enough to know you don’t know enough about being a writer. (Please read that again until it makes sense.) A good share of the time I spent living in Newbieland was spent learning everything I could about writing, and yes, that included …

4.)  Reading! Yes, lots and lots of reading. In a moment I’ll list some of the books that have helped me tremendously, but first I want to tell you that reading anything helps to make you better at writing. It finally dawned on me that I wasn’t going to go anywhere with my raw talent. Just as if I had a great serve in tennis, I wasn’t going to hit Wimbledon right off the bat (or racket, as the case may be), I had to get rid of my bad habits and groom the good ones that others had learned before me. And to do that I had to read their advice in books on that topic or simply read the fiction books they’d written. Speaking for myself, I’ve learned more from reading the books of successful and great fiction writers than I could figured out for myself if I’d worked at it until the day I dropped dead. And by then it would be too late, and I wouldn’t give a rip, anyway. There’s just so much to know and to assimilate into your writing until it’s a habit, that not taking the advice of good authors is just plain silly.

Of course there are many other ways to learn. Critique partners, writing groups, conferences, and classes are just some of them. I concentrated on the reading aspect simply because it’s something you can do for little or no cost, and it’s a pleasant experience. No longer do I think it’s outrageous to think writers need to read everything they can get their hands on. I’ve moved out of Newbieland and I’m looking for a niche in Mightjustmakeitland. It’s still a long shot, but I’ll never get there if I don’t try. I hope I see you along the way.

Before I forget … trying reading Bird by Bird (Anne Lamott), Writing for the Soul (Jerry B. Jenkins), or On Writing (Stephen King). There are thousands of other books out there, most of which are no doubt very good, but I’ve read these three over and over. I also read the novels by Jerry and Stephen and Anne’s other non-fiction books. I learn something from each author and each of their books whether they’re trying to teach me or not. They’re that good.

Source: authorculture.blogspot.com

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3 Steps to Complete Your Writing Goals in the New Year

 

For the last two weeks I have received emails from over eight different companies offering to teach me how to have a wonderful and amazing year next year. Their premise is that I will have a wonderful year if I complete a goal. Since I am a writer, perhaps I should complete some writing goals.

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The companies offer to give me practical advice to assist me. Some of them even offered to give me a certificate of completion when I finished their course. The least expensive offer was close to five hundred dollars.

Today, I will give you my three steps to complete a goal and have a great New Year. And, I won’t charge you five hundred dollars.

3 Steps to Complete Your Writing Goals

I will give you a preview of the three steps. Beware, the next three lines contain spoilers:

Step One: Decide what you want to do

Step Two: Write down what you want to do

Step Three: Do what you wrote down.

1. Decide what you want to do.

Step one may seem simple. The most important word in step one is DECIDE. Yes, make up your mind.

You are creative, right? A writer. You have so many story ideas, which one should you do first?

Pick one. Just one. Work on this idea until it is finished. Focus. Finish.

But first you have to make up your mind. You can never finish something if you don’t start. So for now, make up your mind.

(If you are not sure what you should decide to do, consider these writing goals.)

People cannot hit what they do not aim for.

― Roy T. Bennett

2. Write down what you want to do.

Step two is essential. Well, all three steps are essential. Don’t skip a step.

You have to write down what you want to do.

Don’t rely on your memory. When you wake up the next day and your six cats are meowing to be fed, if you haven’t written down what you want to do, you might never remember. You have bills to pay and cats to feed. If it is not written down, you might not remember what you want to accomplish.

How many pages will you write today, this week? Decide, then write it down. Find a friend who would be willing to receive weekly updates from you. Send them at the end of the week how much you have written.

If you have a goal, write it down. If you do not write it down, you do not have a goal — you have a wish.

― Steve Maraboli

Dr. Gail Matthews, a psychology professor at the Dominican University of California, after studying two hundred and sixty seven people, discovered you are more likely to complete goals if you write them down or share them with a friend. Seventy percent of the participants who sent weekly updates to a friend achieved their goal or got more than halfway there. But of the people who didn’t tell a friend or write down their goal, only 35 percent made it that far.

3. Do what you wrote down.

Step three is an action step. You do what you wrote down.

You can control your future if you always obey what is written down. Before you go to bed tonight, write down what you want your future self to do. Such as, “Write three pages today.” When you wake up you will see the note you wrote the night before, and you will do what it says.

Last night I had my husband decide what time he was going to get out of bed this morning. First he wrote, “I want to get out of bed at seven.” I had him change it to “I will get out of bed at seven.” Then he signed the statement and I signed it as a witness to his promise. He made up his mind: step one. He wrote it down: step two.

This morning at seven, he hit the snooze button. Dr. Matthews’s suggestion to tell your goal to a friend helped my husband this morning. I opened the blinds, turned on the shower, and ripped off all the covers on the bed. Then he did step three and got out of bed.

The Gift of Writing Goals

In twelve more sleeps it will be the first day of a new year. A day of hope; a day where we can begin again. We can have that feeling every day, but the first day of a new year feels like a gift.

So, as you start your new year, think of the three steps. You don’t have to buy a fancy course. You can write. You can complete your goal of writing a first draft, editing the novel you wrote in November, or writing the story of why you flew to Asia in 1983 with a one-way ticket to Bangkok.

Decide what you want to do, write it down, and do it. I believe in you.

Tell your story.

Do you have trouble completing your writing goals? What do you do to help you complete them? Let us know in the comments.

by Pamela Hodges
Source: thewritepractice.com

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