Hello, my lovely Lunatics! Today I am going to talk about writing tips. I received a comment this week asking for tips and help so I thought I’d write a post about that. I am going to begin by making sure you understand that I am not a published writer yet. I am just beginning myself, but publishing my poetry and writing has been my dream since I was 18 yrs old. I wish I had stuck with it, and found some way to stay in college. However, life had other plans for me, yet here I am pursuing my dream after all.
So, my first tip would be, no matter what your dream, don’t let anything stop you from making it come true. Find a way. Keep your dream alive and breathing and believe in it wholeheartedly. And don’t let anyone kill your dream.
Do you remember when you were in primary (elementary) school and your teacher made you write a story? A creative writing story? We did it for grades back then but it was basically practice. So, my second tip is practice every day. Set aside the time to write, whether it’s first thing in the morning or before you go to bed. It doesn’t matter what you write, just write. Begin by writing down one true sentence, and then write another and another. Write down the dialogue you are having in your head. Write whatever it is that enters your head, but write, write, write. Amanda, my friend and writing group leader, suggested that we take one sheet of notebook paper and a pen or pencil (yes, actually hand write, not on the computer) and write until we fill both sides of the paper. She said as long as it fills both sides just write it, even if it’s just your grocery list. Then keep them in a folder or file somewhere; don’t just throw them away. I think that’s because you never know when you are going to remember something from that writing that you can use.
Having trouble thinking of something to write? I have this problem myself. Here’s the thing: go to whatever search engine you use and type in writing prompts. There are any number of sites that offer suggestions. I myself found a book in a Half Price Bookstore called The Pocket Muse that has prompts and suggestions in it. Prompts are really great for practice, and you never know what will come from them. Again, think of creative writing from school. A very good example is my friend Amber from For Love Of …blog. She began doing these 99-word flash fiction writing challenges from Carrot Ranch Communications. Amber has wowed us all by how fantastic she is at this challenge. She is so good that I told her she needs to consider putting her stories into a collection and selling them as an ebook on Amazon. And now I have Amanda on my side about it, too. We’ll jolly well get her published yet, in spite of herself. **wink** And don’t worry about whether writing should be easy. One of my favorite writing quotes is from Ernest Hemingway. He said that “there is nothing to writing. All you have to do is sit at a typewrier and bleed.” Sometimes you get an idea and the writing just gushes out like a cut artery. Other times, it’s like a bad nurse trying to find a vein to take blood from. Take each moment as it comes and don’t stress about it. Stressing just makes it harder to come up with anything.
Personally, I find inspiration in just about anything. A painting, music, movies, something I read, my kids…I can think of just about any number of stories that you can write. The hard part for me is organzing my thoughts and getting them down on paper. I can see the story in my head, but transferring them from there to paper (even electronic paper) is difficult at times. Poetry comes very easily, however. So, I’ve begun just sitting down at my laptop and using Scrivener, a word processing program that’s fairly easy to use. Scrivener has been my number one choice program to write with. I like its ease of use and its features. With the push of one button, I have a place to write notes and keep track of scenes on index cards. It automatically creates an outline using those cards. With another button I can view that outline as either a normal outline or as a storyboard. I love Scrivener.
But recently I’ve been using Atlantis, another word processing program. Amanda suggested it. I am actually enjoying using it. It is almost exactly like Microsoft Word, but there are some key differences. I do find it almost easier to use because everything I need is right on my toolbar. Instead of clicking on the file tab, then save as, etc., I can click on the save as button. This brings up only one window where I can click a dropdown menu to choose which folder I want to save to. It stores this information so I don’t have to search later. Same thing for what format you want it saved as. A dropdown menu is there and you can save in whatever format you last saved as, or change it. Also, it comes with sounds you can download and use with the program. And the only reason I mention that is because it has a tyepwriter sound when you are typing, and I love that. I’ve been wanting to find a good typewriter recently but only for nostalgia’s sake. This is a good compromise.
Both Scrivener and Atlantis have free trials. Scrivener is $40 (U.S) after the trial, and Atlantis is $35 (U.S.). I bought Scrivener after only three days of use. I loved it that much. I will probably buy Atlantis as well after my trial. Here’s why I will have both. You need a word processing program, obviously, but, in my opinion, you should use one you are comfortable with. However, you also need a fussier one because its good. It’s going to have features a basic/simple one won’t have. The difference between Atlantis and Microsoft Word (besides the cost) is that when you are ready to publish (if you are self publishing), Microsoft Word will add unecessary coding and Atlantis will not. This is important when downloading and storing and formatting into an epub book. Now, there are other writing programs and you can go do a search for them. Amanda talked to us recently about Sigil and Calibre. I have not looked at these just yet but am intending to in the future. She uses Atlantis, Sigil, and Calibre herself. Go find one that works for you.
Another tip is when you write, don’t delete any of it. Even if you think it sucks, save it into a Dump folder or Deleted Excerpts folder, or whatever you title it. You might be able to use parts of those bad episodes in something else. You just don’t know. Also, write in chunks of time, not extended periods of time. What works for me is writing a scene until it plays out. Then, when it’s done I save it and come back to it later if I need to or if I just run into a wall. Make sure you keep your scenes titled so that you can remember them, and put them into the same folder as the rest of the story. And don’t make the mistake of thinking you’ll remember later. Chances are very good you will get distracted and the minutae of your every day life will wipe it out of your memory. TITLE and SAVE EVERYTHING!
Now, I can give you more tips but I think I’ll save them for later. Besides, I’m still learning and I can always pass on what I’ve learned to those of you who are beginning writers. I will leave you with these last two, which I have stated before. The first is read. Read, read, read! If you are writing paranormal fiction, go read it. Non-fiction, self-help, romance, whatever…go to the library and check out books in those genres. Whatever you are writing, go read others in the genre. You will be a better writer and you will learn what not to do by reading others works. I can’t stress enough how important reading is, not just for writing. Reading keeps your brain active which is important as you age. Reading for enjoyment helps with stress, and reading in front of your kids encourages them to do the same.
And join a writing group. Your local library’s website may have writing groups listed either under events or on their calendar or somewhere on their site. You can also do a search for local writing groups/circles through your internet search engine. These groups are almost essential for a writer. They offer critiques, encouragement, ideas, and some may offer workshops (mine does-we’re about to have a story development workshop). I cannot tell you how glad I am that I joined my group. I talk about them all the time. My family has met some of them and it’s been good for all of us. I’ve made new friends, have spent time with several of them, and I look forward to Writing Group Sundays. Join a group. You really won’t regret it.
Well, that’s all for today, and I’m sure that its enough to take in. I hope your weekend is off to a great start. Mine is fine so far, and I’m looking forward to a little rest and relaxation tonight. Maybe I’ll go see a movie. The last one I saw was Transformers Age of Extinction. I made need something better. Have a good one, y’all