Tag Archives: writing goals

Poetry Prompts for Ranting and Raving

It’s easy to think of poetry as soft, flowery, and convoluted. It’s the stuff of Shakespeare, greeting cards, and children’s books. It’s precious, sweet, and erudite.

But some of the most exciting modern poetry defies all those stereotypes, and you need look no further than the slam poetry and spoken word communities to see how poetry can be infused with rage, passion, and humor.

These poets have mastered the art of ranting and raving with passion via performance poetry. It’s no wonder that during live recordings of some of their most impassioned poems, the crowd can be heard hooting and hollering.

Today’s poetry prompts encourage you to write a poem that unleashes your passion.

Poetry Prompts

You can use these poetry prompts to write any kind of poem you want. But for some reason, poems that rant and rave work exceptionally well in performance poetry. These pieces have luster on the page, but they explode when read aloud, so I recommend working on a poem that is meant to be performed. There is a list of links to some excellent recordings of performance poetry at the end of this post.

How to use these poetry prompts:

Choose one of the lists below and write a poem using all of the words in the list. You can also write a poem mixing and matching words from these lists or using all of the words from all of the lists.

Social Consciousness Personal Affronts Road Rage & Pet Peeves
humanity
corruption
eager
hunger
fair
power
greed
redemption
freedom
insult
betrayal
violated
lost
rude
bully
robbed
forgotten
liar
curse
line
impatience
thoughtless
chatter
hurry
spam
stop
gesture

Explore Performance Poetry

Need some ideas to help you get started with these poetry prompts? Below are links to a few examples of performed poems that are beautifully executed — well written and brilliantly performed. Once you follow the link, you’ll need to click the pod icon to listen to the performances.

WARNING: some of these poems may contain offensive language. But they show the breadth of subject matter that a performance poem can tackle. Some are full of anger, others are imbibed with grace, and a couple are sprinkled with humor. Enjoy!

All these poems and many more can be found on IndieFeed Performance Poetry, one of my favorite podcasts that is unfortunately no longer active; but the archives remain online for all to enjoy. I highly recommend checking it out (you can also access it via iTunes).

By Melissa Donovan

Source: writingforward.com

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3 Types of Conflict and Why You Need to Use Them

Conflict is necessary for all stories. It doesn’t matter what kind of story it is — novel, short story, mystery, romance, thriller, children’s, adult — it will always need conflict. In order to keep the plot interesting and exciting, some type of conflict must be there. It gives your characters obstacles they have to overcome before they can reach their goals.

But how do you create conflict for your characters?

3 Types of Conflict

Conflict can come in innumerable shapes and sizes, but they can ultimately be broken down into one of three categories. Are you using these three types of conflict in your stories?

1. Conflict between your characters

Characters can argue, disagree, disobey the others’ wishes, keep secrets from each other, betray each other, and do many other things that would cause two or more people to butt heads. The most common kind of conflict between characters is when the protagonist and their enemy end up in the same room together.

That’s not to say friends and family can’t fight, though. In fact, conflict between allies can make a difficult situation a thousand times more interesting.

2. Conflict between your characters and the outside world

When events outside of your characters’ control occur — unexpected illness, a sudden loss of money, a death in the family, an injury, global events, etc. — characters are forced to react. Whether they deal with their situation in a poor or healthy way is up to you, the writer, but nevertheless, it reveals a truth about your characters and feeds the fire of your plot.

3. Conflict between your characters and themselves

This is quite possibly my favorite type of conflict, mostly because it can be the most frustrating for your characters. When there are problems your characters have no power over, they can place their anger on an outside person or object. But when the problems your characters face come from themselves, they can only turn their anger inward.

This can be difficult to write, but if it is portrayed well, it is extremely rewarding.

Internal conflict can result from your characters losing faith in their religion, deciding whether or not to break or bend the rules for “the greater good,” wrestling with addiction, doing what’s right versus doing what’s easy, feeling out of control, and more.

Experiment With All Three Types

Stories can have any one of these possible types of conflict, or they can have all of them. What matters most is that there is plenty of it and that it is carried out in the most interesting way possible.

Avoid clichés, play with characters’ relationships with each other, put your characters in the most difficult situations possible, and think about how they will handle these obstacles in a way that is true to their personalities.

What’s your favorite type of conflict? Let us know in the comments.

By The Magic Violinist
Source : thewritepractice.com

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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

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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

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

Visit us at First Edition Design Publishing

 

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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How to Achieve Goals: 5 Ways to Stay Motivated and Actually Accomplish Your Goals

The end of the year/beginning of the next one is always exciting. It’s a time to reflect on your accomplishments and prepare for the next ones. But often times, the newness and anticipation of New Year’s resolutions lasts for just a few months before fading away, checklists long forgotten in a dusty drawer. Here’s how to achieve goals and actually maintain your motivation throughout the new year.

acheive goal

5 Ways to Stay Motivated and Achieve Goals

If you want to stay strong throughout the entirety of 2018, here are five tips to help you achieve just that.

1. Set goals for the month rather than the year

That’s not to say year-long goals aren’t important, but “smaller” goals that are easily finished in a short amount of time will give you that rush of positive energy everyone needs in order to keep up the good work.

Think about your long-term hopes and dreams for yourself, such as writing a novel, and break them down into more manageable chunks that you can spread out over twelve months, like writing 10,000 words per month.

2. Write a checklist

Who doesn’t love checking off boxes when a task is completed? Make your list of goals something large, aesthetically pleasing, and visible.

It must be placed where you’ll see it often to remind yourself what still needs to be done and what you have already finished. And if you don’t enjoy looking at it, you won’t necessarily enjoy doing anything off the list, either. Keep it positive!

3. Create consequences

First decide if you are the kind of person who works better under the threat of punishment or the promise of reward. Maybe you work well with both, in which case, even better because you have plenty of flexibility with which to work.

If negative consequences are the way to go, give yourself deadlines for each of your goals. Writers have to work under deadlines all the time, which is a great way to boost productivity when you know someone is counting on you to pull through. But if you are your own boss, you have to come up with your own punishment, too. If you don’t reach the deadline, maybe consider pulling the plug on the television for a while.

If rewards cause you to race to the keyboard with glee, set concrete promises for yourself, such as, “If I finish editing this short story by the end of the month, I will treat myself to a nice dinner and a movie.” When you have a specific incentive in mind, you will be that much more determined to finish what you started.

4. Switch up your setting

If I ever start to feel bored with my usual routine, I pick up my laptop and move somewhere new. This can be as drastic as sitting yourself down at a coffee shop or library or as simple as moving to a new room in the house.

A different view and a different seating orientation can do wonders for your enthusiasm for your work.

5. Envision your future

What kind of writer do you want to be? When you picture yourself ten years in the future, what do you see for yourself?

Don’t be afraid to dream big. Imagining your future can be exciting and terrifying all at once, but it always helps when it comes to deciding what your next move should be.

But if you do, be ready to put in the work. The amount of effort you put into a task will match the outcome.

How to Achieve Goals and Make Changes in the New Year

Don’t sell yourself short. If you want to be somewhere else a year from now, figure out what you need to do to make the change and do it.

One more tip for how to achieve goals? Ask for help, if you need it. Having a community standing behind you in support is one of the best ways to drum up the courage to achieve your goals in any way possible.

You’ve got this.

What are your goals for the New Year? Do you have other tips for how to achieve goals? Let us know in the comments.

By The Magic Violinist
Source: thewritepractice.com

Visit us at First Edition Design Publishing

Writing Tips: Show, Don’t Tell

The first time I heard the advice “show, don’t tell,” I was young and it confused me.

Show what? Isn’t writing all about telling a story?

At the time, I shrugged it off as some kind of mysterious double-talk, but the phrase kept popping up: show, don’t tell.

It rolled off my teachers’ tongues. I spotted it in books and articles on the craft of writing. A couple of times, it appeared in red on my papers with an arrow pointing to a specific sentence or paragraph. Then I took a poetry class and had a big aha moment where show, don’t tell became abundantly clear.

In poetry studies, we talk a lot about imagery. This poem has vivid imagery. What a great image! The images in the first stanza don’t go with the images in the second stanza. This kind of talk didn’t make sense to me either. Images in poems? We’re supposed to be writing, not drawing!

The irony, of course, is that my writing was packed with imagery; I was more prone to showing than telling. Nevertheless, the phrasing of these writing tips perplexed me.

Since then, I’ve worked with plenty of young and new writers who have expressed embarrassment at having to admit they’re not sure what show, don’t tell means.

Show, Don’t Tell

Show, don’t tell is often doled out as writing advice, and it frequently appears on lists of writing tips. It even has its own Wikipedia page! Along with the advice write what you know and know your audience, it’s one of those writing-related adages that deserves some explanation because it seems counter-intuitive and raises a bunch of questions.

Yet it’s actually a simple concept. Ironically, the best way to explain it is to show, rather than tell someone what it means, and I don’t think anybody’s done that better than Anton Checkhov:

Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass. – Anton Chekhov (source: Goodreads)

Oh, I Get It

I once heard a lecturer give a talk about love, and he made a good point: it’s not enough to tell someone you love them; you have to show people that you love them through your actions.

We can apply the same concept to writing.

You can tell your readers that two characters met and were instantly attracted to each other, or you could show the characters meeting, making eye contact, and checking each other out. He gulps, she bats her eyelashes, and readers get the picture.

When you show, you’re using words to create a scene that readers instantly visualize. Instead of intellectually registering what you’re telling them, they fully imagine what you’re showing them.

We can turn Checkhov’s explanation into a writing exercise in which we show, don’t tell readers our ideas:

Tell Show
Kate was tired. Kate rubbed her eyes and willed herself to keep them open.
It was early spring. New buds were pushing through the frost.
Charlie was blind. Charlie wore dark glasses and was accompanied by a seeing-eye dog.
Sheena is a punk rocker. Sheena has three piercings in her face and wears her hair in a purple mohawk.
James was the captain. “At ease,” James called out before relaxing into the Captain’s chair.

Now you try it. Think of some simple ideas that you could show readers instead of telling them. Feel free to share them in the comments.

Are there any writing tips that you hear frequently but don’t quite grasp? Share your thoughts and questions by leaving a comment, and make sure when you’re writing,
you show, don’t tell.

By Melissa Donovan
Source: writingforward.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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