Tag Archives: journal

What are your favorite books for writers?

There are countless high-quality publications available on the subject of writing.

Some of my all-time faves? I can’t remember how many times I’ve joyfully referred back to Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, and Vein of Gold. Superb, helpful, heart-opening, fear-rending, spirit-growing and motivational stuff!

While they seem a bit outdated now, I enjoyed The Sell Your Novel Toolkit by Elizabeth Lyon and The Wealthy Writer by Michael Meanwell.

UC Irvine has a fiction novel writing class which uses Donald Maass’ Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook. I will certainly be checking into it!

I want to hear from you!

Which ones are your favorites? Please share in the comment box below!



Filed under Fiction Novel Writing, For the love of writing, Freelance Writing, Who is Writing What?

Is a novel’s outline ever really finished? Time to overhaul…

I have finally finished my rewrite of  Chapter Two, after some constructive criticism from my husband. The rewrite helped me envision a more dramatic and challenging path for my character Aaron Langley, which required the introduction of a new character, Bernie Staithe.
But doesn’t this compromise my (agonizingly time-consuming) outline? Certainly it does. And therefore it is the next thing to be overhauled, because I can’t seem to write a chapter without becoming inspired to alter the future paths of my characters.
This is either the result of undiagnosed A.D.D. or just the reality of the outline as it relates to a work-in-progress. Sigh.
My main conundrum (and I would greatly appreciate your wisdom and advice on this one) is whether to continue my plan to narrate each chapter with the inner monologues of my three main characters. The outline is set up so the storyline rotates between each of their perspectives, and while I’m writing from each perspective, the narration reflects their individual “voices.”
I’m wondering now if that makes sense, and would be reader friendly (or unfriendly)?
Should I unite them under one cohesive narrative voice?
Lastly, my main character gets pregnant by the impact character’s nemesis. I’m wondering if this is necessary or overkill, considering the string of betrayals she will dish out—and have to fix, if she hopes to save her family.

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Filed under Fiction Novel Writing, For the love of writing, Freelance Writing

Anne Lamott’s tips for growing your creative spirit–and sense of purpose.

I offer you a guest-post of sorts today in the form of excerpts from Time Lost and Found by author Anne Lamott which I just found in the always pleasing Sunset magazine.

As a mother who is a freelance writer and editor working from home, I often place my own needs (especially creative diversions) at the very bottom of my priority list. This is not say that I am a self-sacrificing martyr—it is important to note that my time is frequently wasted perusing Facebook and responding to pitches for product reviews that I will ultimately do nothing about (I only review products I am thrilled about, and I am getting harder and harder to please, it would seem.) However, like most creative people I am conscious of the truth that frequent exposure to one’s heart’s desires will rapidly explode creative juices, starting a fiery blaze of inspiration, productivity and sheer joy. Do visits to art galleries keep your own canvases wet with fresh expression? Do hikes by lakes result in gorgeous photos of birds or other wildlife? Do trips to bookstores ignite a dozen new pages of writing?

Read on for Anne Lamott’s wise advice:

“I tell my [writing] students…there is nothing you can buy, achieve, own, or rent that can fill up that hunger inside for a sense of fulfillment and wonder. But the good news is that creative expression, whether that means writing, dancing, bird-watching, or cooking, can give a person almost everything that he or she has been searching for: enlivenment, peace, meaning, and the incalculable wealth of time spent quietly in beauty.

Then I bring up the bad news: You have to make time to do this.

Needless to say, this is very distressing for my writing students. They start to explain that they have two kids at home, or five, a stable of horses or a hive of bees, and 40-hour workweeks. Or, on the other hand, sometimes they are climbing the walls with boredom, own nearly nothing, and are looking for work full-time, which is why they can’t make time now to pursue their hearts’ desires. They often add that as soon as they retire, or their last child moves out, or they move to the country, or to the city, or sell the horses, they will. They are absolutely sincere, and they are delusional.”

Lamott recommends we each take, “half an hour, a few days a week. You could commit to writing one page a night, which, over a year, is most of a book. No one else really cares if anyone else finally starts to write or volunteers with marine mammals. But how can [my students] not care and let life slip away? Can’t they give up the gym once a week and buy two hours’ worth of fresh, delectable moments?

They look at me bitterly now—they don’t think I understand. But I do—I know how addictive busyness and mania are. But I ask them whether, if their children grow up to become adults who spend this one precious life in a spin of multitasking, stress, and achievement, and then work out four times a week, will they be pleased that their kids also pursued this kind of whirlwind life?

If not, if they want much more for their kids, lives well spent in hard work and savoring all that is lovely, why are they living this manic way?

I ask them, is there a eucalyptus grove at the end of their street, or a new exhibit at the art museum? An upcoming minus tide at the beach where the agates and tidepools are, or a great poet coming to the library soon? A pond where you can see so many turtles? A journal to fill?”

Half-hour time-wasters to consider giving up:

  • the treadmill at the gym–take a walk in the park, a forest, on the beach, on an undiscovered (by you) path, to a different part of town, anywhere…
  • house cleaning–honestly, what’s with all the scrubbing? Are you competing for the shiniest floors? Does anybody really care?
  • TV–Lamott says “no one needs to watch the news every night, unless one is married to the anchor.”
  • electronic connectivity: Lamott remarks that “cell phone, email, text, Twitter—steal most chances of lasting connection or amazement. That multitasking can argue a wasted life.”

Thanks, Anne. From this day forward, I commit at least one half-hour per day to my fiction novel. I will also pause to enjoy my favorite things: the lightness of swimming, a fresh-brewed cup of coffee, the scent of foliage in the park. I will also endeavor to schedule trips to galleries and author readings. If it were me showing or reading, I would be thankful for one more attendee, so I can give the gift of my appreciation to others who have completed their art.

Lamott’s books include Operating Instructions and Traveling Mercies. Her new novel, Imperfect Birds (Riverhead Books; $26), will be published this month.

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Filed under Best Writer Tips, For the love of writing, Freelance Writing, Who is Writing What?

Writing And Blogging: “The Good Way”

Today’s guest-post will inspire bloggers and writers seeking to sharpen skills, improve clarity and have more fun! It was written by Of Parchments and Inks, a blog authored by “Brown Eyed Mystic.”

The Brown Eyed Mystic makes these observations, “You may have a reason to blog; and even if you have none, writing in a corner of your own will come to invent a reason on its own once you do it.” Personally, I think this is a true statement for all types of writers. When a first-grader writes her first story, it is this sense of achievement which plants the seed for a lifetime love of writing and story-telling.  Brown Eyed Mystic goes on to say, “You’d sure want your blog-place to be of value, even emotional value.” Maybe especially emotional value? In an effort to help us “blog the right way,” here are the suggested tips:

Ways to Blog the Good Way

  1. Become focused: This is the most said one by the better bloggers out there. Becoming focused will not only help you to write something of value and usage, but also will rejuvenate your mind when you look at your creation once you’ve finished. Seriously, nothing is more pleasurable than looking at something you wrote and getting the stings of joy. Pay respect to your blog when you are engaged with it and be involved in it like you’d do with a human.
  2. Write for the reader: When you write for the reader, you have a hit. People would come to you only if they sense that your writings have some inherent value. Say if you’re into crafts, you can put up your creations on your blog, and share how you did it with your readers. How-to’s are always great to read. Keep the reader in mind and then blog.
  3. Serve others with fresh comments: When you read someone’s blog and like something about it, make a point to leave a comment. Leaving your trail marks this way is like making the web realize you were there. As you know, links are beneficial for your own blog too; others reading your comments have an inclination to see who has actually put up the little nugget of comment. That said, don’t spam the blogger’s comment area; you may be blocked or you won’t throw a great impression on the readers and will be, at best, ignored. Ignorance is not what you want your blog to suffer from, so be courteous and intelligent while commenting. Along with this, try to keep a track of the blogs that have gone huge, and try to place a comment in the top 5-10 placeholders in their comment’s area. You get to have more visibility that way.
  4. Make commenting possible on your blog: Turn on the comments so that others can post in the area. Along with this, make sure you have a way for the readers to subscribe to new comments on your blog. This creates stickiness which allows traffic coming back to you.
  5. Link the right way: Look out for any links that are no more functional, or no more relevant to your blog. Remove links that throw the notorious 404 error. Your readers and the bots on search engines will be more than happy for this act.
  6. Read, and then read some more: Reading is a good habit, and it applies to blogging also. When you are planning to write a new post but lack an idea, just read others’ pieces. That doesn’t mean plagiarise, no. It means to get inspired and build up something else altogether on reading someone’s post. This happens to me a lot. Try it before your mind starts to hear the clunks of uncertainty and panic!
  7. Socialize virtually: Man is a social animal. Socializing online with other bloggers not only gives you exposure, but also makes you learn more about different niches out there and about other writers’ lives. Just as in the physical world you meet someone and exchange information about you, in the virtual world you give out your website or blog address which lets people know more about you.
  8. Give something away for free: Yep, an e-book is one great example. I know creating a product such as this needs time and commitment, but hey, didn’t we discuss before to keep the reader in mind? Write an e-book or make a video, give it away for free and make someone’s day
  9. Include details: Do not assume that your readers know all the basics about your niche. Now it may be tempting to assume so, with so many resources out there on so many niches, but what separates you from them in that case? Are you joining the rat race and hopping on the bandwagon too? Taking small introductory things for granted is a grave mistake and will send the innocent reader to another place thatbetter  understands their needs.
  10. Never say never!: Don’t get disheartened with your blog’s success. Know that you have a lot to do and to put in before expecting rainbow-colored results from your web’s corner. An upward moving traffic graph is what every writer wants, no doubt, but getting there takes time and effort investment. Don’t give up yet! Be committed to it. Make a relationship with it. Bond with it.
  11. If you write in English, please write in English: I get turned off on reading blogs that have “compressed” words to save on typing/time/effort or whatever. “Words” like uplz, or wud make me cringe. No offense to anyone, but if you are targeting mature and educated public, please show them that you care by writing real words and decently correct grammar in your blog. I’d probably stop reading much further if there’s a lot of compression and bad grammar in even an otherwise content-rich post.
  12. Write in your own voice: One of Brown-eyed Mystic’s readers, Dr. Tom Bibey, commented succinctly: “About all I can add is to write in one’s own voice and not try to be anyone else. I love Mark Twain, but there was only one of him. All I can do is be the best Dr. B. I can be.” Well said.

Which one do you think is a way to blog the good way that’s missing here? Do you have a special tried and tested method to share?


Filed under For the love of writing

Writing And Blogging Can Improve Your Health!

Last night, my husband and I were discussing the future of blogging. With so many social media outlets–most of which requiring only a sentence or less, did blogging have a future?

It’s easy to jump to “yes!”, especially if you are a writer who simply must write, or if you generate an income from your blog.

However, blogging and the web’s instant gratification has killed printed publication (but saved trees) and made what the public perceives to be bonafide journalism out of, well, the often unjournalistic, the implausible and the unresearched. We’ve actually reached a place where news can arrive in less that 140 characters–and we believe it.  Where does that leave the blogpost, with its (comparatively hefty) average of 450 characters or more?

John Khoury, CEO and founder of Liquic.com, a comprehensive online health and wellness resource encourages writers, amateur and professional alike to do it for good mental health; “Jotting down your thoughts on a daily basis will not only add some ‘me’ time to your schedule, but will unfold the writer and philosopher in you. From daily diaries to travel logs, journaling/blogging can help left and right brained people organize ideas, and boost their well-being.”

For Khoury, these are some of the most rewarding aspects of maintaining a weblog:

  • Clarify your goals. By logging your thoughts, you can examine your feelings and objectives with a different set of eyes.  Blogging gives you the unique opportunity to provide yourself with feedback from the person you trust most.
  • Meditate through your journal. Believe it or not, blogging can be a form of meditation. It quiets your mind, and it is as soothing as turning off all lights and sounds around you to focus on what truly matters.
  • Make some time for you. Think of your blog as your personal time, where you remember and analyze all portions of your life.  You’ll be setting aside time to reflect on the best parts of your day and all your actions and feelings. Making you will feel valued and refreshed.
  • Make a Decision Easier. Expressing your doubts and anxieties allows you to weigh your options.  Should you change jobs?  Should you move to a new neighborhood? Listing the pros and cons of each choice will point you to the right direction.
  • Eliminate negative thoughts. Scripting all negativity in your life feels as liberating as lifting a weight off your shoulders. Venting to your friends is a good idea, but having them “in print” can help you identify your fears and get rid of ideas that only bring you down.
  • Track each step of your life. Scribbling your actions keeps you aware of your mistakes and accomplishments.  It will also highlight the aspects of your life that you should be paying a bit more attention to.
  • Improve your relationships. Writing will give you the opportunity to communicate your feelings towards others–and choose your words carefully.  The experience will let you value perspectives not understood before, and will provide you with patience and reasoning to deal with conflicts. You will also appreciate your family and friends more and recognize the essential role they play in your life.
  • Do what makes you happy. With work and responsibilities, we end up spending most of our time pleasing others and performing mandatory tasks.  After a while, you may find it difficult to distinguish what part of the day was dedicated solely to you.  Through blogging, you will discover ways to include things you enjoy into your day: like something as simple as listening to your favorite song to grabbing lunch at your favorite spot.

What are your favorite aspects of blogging? What do you think will be the future of blogging?

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Filed under For the love of writing