Don’t Sabotage Your Writing Career Before It Takes Off – Part 1

Sabotaging Your Writing Career Before It Takes Off

Writing, Learn Rules, Writing Career, Mistakes, Memoir

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Yes, we all learn from our mistakes, however, we don’t have to make all the mistakes before we learn. We can equally learn from the mistakes of others.

In the pursuit of our writing careers, there are mistakes that have the potential to truncate it even before it begins. I am not excited to say that I have made a good number of them and still working to dig myself out of my errors.

I am equally ashamed to say that I fall into the category of writers with piles of half-finished stories and essays yet to be polished and sent to potential publishers.

The great thing is that though these mistakes might derail your quest for a while, with the right approach, you can get back on track.

Writing ‘A Pipe Dream.’

I’ve met a lot of would-be writers who are either ‘working on a book,’ or planning ‘to start working’ on one – when they can find the time – and most of them have worked on that elusive book of theirs for years and years that they’ve even forgotten what the story was about in the first place.

Interestingly, they don’t share their attempts with anyone. They also hardly bother to read guides, blogs or articles that could help to improve their writing career. If you are such a closet writer who fails to show your work to anybody and unable to compare it to what’s obtainable out there, you are living in that highly deceptive fantasy land that your work is fabulous.

For some reason, lots of nonfiction writers think that writing a how-to book, a memoir or an autobiography is easier to write than fiction and this is far from the truth.




Writing nonfiction requires careful structuring — especially a memoir. To slap up a haphazard chronology of one’s life never makes for a compelling reading. I started writing a memoir and in the process of writing my memoir, I asked myself severally  ‘why would anyone want to read my memoir, what value does it have to offer?’ Needless to say, I am still writing this memoir, but rethinking my approach because the first attempt was as boring as ever.

You may need to burst your own bubble that you’re a self-taught writing genius oozing with all the talent in the world and that you don’t need to learn a thing or two about writing as a profession.

As long as nobody reads your work – no, not your long-suffering spouse, mother, agreeable siblings and friends – I am sorry to let you know that those everlasting works in progress of yours may never see the light of the day to make it to the top of the bottom of the bestseller lists on Amazon, New York, and wherever  you fancy, once you wake up and decide to share it.

Your attitude of ignorance might be a good one when you’re taking those first steps of venturing into the writing field when the tendency to self-doubt is at its peak. You create your first draft and learn the rules later because there are times when learning the rules first could be inundating and simply creates more doubt. However, learn the rules and the rope, you must.

If your hope is to publish eventually, spending years in the closet will simply not work in your favour. That sets you up for disappointments and possible scamming – yes, it happens.

There are scammers ready to thrive on your delusions.  Do your research before jumping into the marketplace to avoid the harsh realities of the University of writing hard knocks.

 Quick Tips

Google your interest area to find out how many similar books are out there. Read as many as you possibly can and approach yours from a fresh perspective.

If you do hope to publish your work at some point, you have to pay attention to this field of interest that you’re trying to enter. How do they perform in the market? Who are the target readers in this spectrum?

On a final note, don’t be afraid to get your work out there into the public eye. Criticism can only make it better and you could be delightfully surprised.

Let us know if you have published. What’s your experience been like? Do you plan to publish?  You can share insights in the comments and add titles/links of your published work if you have.

I hope you find this article useful. Check here for more writing tips.

 

Write on The Toilet – Essential Writers Tips

Write on the toilet.

Write till you get that book done.Toilet writing, writers tips, book writing, writing habits, best practice, unconventional approach
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Writing till you get that book done may involve some quirky habits like writing on the toilet. As unconventional and as shitty as this approach might sound, have you ever observed that loads of inspiration flood into your mind when you are on the potty or taking a shower?

Surprisingly, the onslaught of inspiration has a way of dwindling down or completely evaporating like a mist when you now settle down to get the writing done.

Here’s a tip. Have a handy notepad tucked away in the corner, preferably on the rack with your bathroom paraphernalia where you can quickly grab it to scribble those nutty ideas that pop into your head.

Of course, you are free to cut the unnecessary crap out.

Have fun and try it 😉

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ESSENTIAL WRITERS TIPS – Cut Adverbs

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Adverbs

To use or not to use adverbs is one big controversy in the writing world.  The rule is to use them sparingly if at all.

I loved using adverbs because they were convenient, but as I started understudy on how to write professionally it was challenging to learn how not to make the mistake of the constant use of adverbs.

I still get tempted to – by the force of habit – but with consistent practice, it gets better.

Why Cut Adverbs?

  • Adverbs are weak. Remember the show don’t tell rule.
  • They make writing sound lazy and amateurish.
  • Cutting adverbs makes you more imaginative as a writer. You expand your search for other descriptions for what you want to say.
  • Adverbs create redundant words.
  • They clutter your writing and makes it vague.
  • Adverbs interrupt the flow of action.

A good old plain ‘she said or he said’ is better than too many superfluous and dramatic adverbs.

For example,

‘Why the hell did you do say that!’ he said angrily

‘Get away from me right now!’ she yelled loudly

Would read better as:

‘Why the hell did you say that!’ he said.

‘Get way from me right now!’ she yelled.

Those adverbs are not necessary because their emotions are already expressed in their words. We already know that they are angry.

Sometimes less is more. Too many adverbs weaken a prose and subverting them creates more vivid writing.

There are instances where using adverb is necessary, such as writing suspense when the character’s action is paramount to the story.

For example: 

He lightly tiptoed to the door. What if the use of ‘light tiptoe’ is used to anticipate fear or the expectation of an action? This adverb is there to create apprehension in the reader – it serves a purpose being there and not a redundant word.

Cutting adverbs will help you find the balance between overwriting and a good show and tell writing.

Do you use adverbs? Please share in the comments. For Essential Writers’ Tips check this link.

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Essential Writers Tips – Increase Your Word Count On The Go

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Create Space

Finding uninterrupted time to sit down and write to meet your writing goals is a challenge faced by many writers’ most especially when you have a full-time job coupled with managing your family and other demands in-between.

Lack of time is one of the reasons why some wait till November’s’ NaNoWriMo to tackle that novel that they have in mind and possibly take some time off work to do so.

You need not wait till a certain time of the year to start working on those writing projects of yours. You could try the simple step-by-step way to write a novel now.

Increase Word Count

You can work on your book all year round and increase your word count through simple methods such as using your phone. Set a target to clock in an average of 500 – 1,000 words counts daily and increase them when you have ample time.

Today’s phones come equipped with an audio voice recorder that can serve you while on the go. Brainstorm, dictate your book on your phone – with your Bluetooth (because you are unable to stop to write lengthy sentences).

During those little pockets of time that you have every given day; while on transit, traipsing down the shopping aisle, try to capture those random fictional thoughts, dialogues, descriptions et cetera that pop into your mind before your muse chooses to run off and hibernate.

You would be delighted to realise how much you were able to meet when you transcribe and edit your sessions later. Besides, to transcribe our spoken word is far easier than to find the time to sit and craft a whole plot.

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Essential Writers Tips 8

Essential Writers tips, Developing story character, Writing, Character traits, story, book, Building believable character, Readers' attention

Developing a Believable Character

Developing your characters for your story or book means getting intimate with these personalities.

Your job as a writer is to give your multiple, complex characters a stage to portray themselves so that others can see who they are.

In order to develop believable characters, you need a road-map of traits that allows you to know more about them than you might even need in your book/story.

Below is a list of things you should consider to flesh out your characters.

  • Name, Age, Sex, Race/Ethnicity
  • Physical Attributes: Height, Complexion,
  • General Appearance, Eyes, Nose, Ears, Hair…
  • Residence – Location
  • Temperament, Gestures, Mannerisms,
  • Status: Single, Married, In a relationship
  • Hobbies
  • Religion
  • Children or Not
  • Pets
  • Pet Peeves
  • Favourite things – Colour/s, Culinary preferences, drinks
  • Phobias
  • Friends,
  • Training or Academic Background
  • Career/Profession
  • Any faults
  • Secrets
  • Illnesses

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Having these details at the back of your mind as you work helps you to understand and to build your characters to give your reader a visual understanding of the character, though your reader only needs to know the most important things such as:

The character’s appearance, speech, action, and thoughts – which would entail unexpressed hopes, fears, plans, etc that would allow the reader to see into their mind.

Let’s Build a Character

He looked at his full name ‘Andrew Jefferson Johnson Jr’ on the title-deed, he’s not fond of Jefferson but had not been in a place to choose differently as a child.

He’s a 32-year-old, newly divorced, fair-skinned, six-foot tall Canadian with gray eyes and a crew cut hairstyle that camouflaged the beginnings of a receding hairline.

As a successful physiotherapist, he keeps an excellent physical form despite his drinking indulgence and now that he’s single again, he could drink to his heart’s content without suffering his ex-wife’s irritating nags.

Their condo at Mississauga sold faster than he expected and he looks forward to moving into his newly purchased, posh and serviced bachelors’ pad in downtown Toronto.

 The brief description above paints a picture of Andrew and throws some light on his background without getting too wordy.

I hope that you find this tip useful and you can check this link for more tips like this.

We would love to hear tips that you apply in your writing in the comments below and always remember to keep your writing as free of grammatical errors as possible with Grammarly.

ESSENTIAL WRITERS TIPS 7

Essential Writers Tips, Improve, Editing, Writer, Professional Writer, Criticism, Alpha Beta Readers, Publishing, Prepare

To Improve, Prepare Yourself For Punishment

A great part of writing and being a writer involves criticism.  A lot of time, we are afraid of having our work scrutinized constructively by others that we pass up opportunities to have them take a carving knife to our revered work.

However, to effectively improve your writing, you have to take certain steps that would certainly cause you to cringe.

If you can afford a professional writer or editor, pay them to look at your work and give you critical feedback without sweetening it. The tougher the criticism, the more helpful for you in the longer run.

The narrow road of the publishing industry is full of rejections and criticisms from publishing houses, editors, agent etc and the sooner your mind opens up to such circumstances the better accustomed you become.

As harsh and painful as this reality might be, if you are serious and want to improve your writing, you’ve got to prepare your mind to know  everything that’s wrong with it and how to handle/correct them. You’ve simply got to own your shortcomings and work on them.

An alternative to having a paid editor/professional writer – when you can’t afford to – is to find Alpha/Beta readers – (no not your mother, please) who will support you by critiquing your work. Check this link for more writers’ tips.

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ESSENTIAL WRITERS TIPS 6

Essential Writers Tips, risk writing, unconventional writing, best tips, write dangerously, break boundaries, push comfort level

Write Dangerously

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Telling your best story in the best possible way that you can is the goal of a writer and sometimes this might involve stepping away from conventional writing and taking a risk with your writing.

Risk taking writing pushes your writing out of the box that you’ve nicely fitted it into, to another level.

Grab their attention with that opening line and hold it as you take off from there. In these days of Kindle and fast read, the action gets fast real quick like a jet zooming to take off.

This doesn’t imply that a story shouldn’t have the best calm, soft and gentle opening that’s ever been written, of course, it could, but that opening should be tight and grasp its readers’ attention.

If you are opening up with a love scene, make it sizzle without being off-putting, plant innuendos that make a reader want to know more or even afraid to know more – take a risk and allow your characters to lead their story without stifling and reshaping their thoughts too much.

Most times, we are afraid of taking risks with our writing out of fear of offending others, excluding others or exposing ourselves – our way of thinking, philosophy etc. It all boils down to fear of judgment which can hinder your approach and growth as a writer.

From the onset know that agreeable writing is as boring as anything. If you trim, shave and water down your writing to suit everyone’s needs, you’ll certainly lose the power of your own voice and your muses.

Part of being a writer is that you’ve got a million characters and more dwelling inside you and each has their own unique voice and story to tell.

Go an extra length and cross your creative Rubicon. Let your characters tell those hideous, frightening secrets waiting to tumble out on paper. You might squirm at the first thought, but dangerous writing brings out the risk taker in you. It changes your perception as a writer.

Write to agitate the mind and the nerves.

What are your thoughts on risk taking writing? What do you perceive as the limitations of risk writing? I would love to hear from you. For more writers’ tips, check this link.

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ESSENTIAL WRITERS TIPS 5

Writing, Essential Writers Tips, Fully Present, Experience, Open, Curious, Top Tips, Best Practice, Interactions

Be Open, Be Curious, Be Present

A mind closed in its way of thinking leaves little room for growth. To develop one’s writing capabilities involves keeping the mind open and curious to learn from everything that happens around us because everything is a possible material for your writing.

As a writer, in today’s world where technology has inadvertently affected direct human interactions, it’s become even more pertinent that we are fully present, curious and open to our surroundings.

As we grow older, we become set in our notions, opinions and ways and these attitudes leak into our writing which makes it difficult to break out of a hedge of thinking that we might have developed, however, we can relearn some of these skills by choosing how to listen, how to relate and be fully present in given moments.

No, you don’t have to try everything to understand how it works. You don’t have to go and jump off a cliff to experience how broken your legs would be if you survive it, that’s taking it a bit too far – though there are those who indulge certain extreme sports and if you do know such a person, then by all means, ask them pertinent questions. Get into their mind by asking open questions that don’t come across as judgemental.

Leading questions leave room for a lengthy answer. Asking a precise question such as;

What was it like to go hiking up the mountain – gives the responder a lot of room to express their excitement, experience, recommendations etc and you could tap into this if you are not going to try to do the same hiking that he/she did.

Be like a child, eager to learn and to soak up information. As adults, our childlike curiousity  has reduced because we now look at life with jaded, experienced eyes and are far too busy chasing after money to pay the bills that pile before us.

You could embrace and rekindle your inner child often and make life your playground once again. Do something fun, read a book you loved as a child, try a new look, dance, figure out how something irrelevant works, drop that phone and connect with others. Imagine all those silly things you wanted to do as a child? Relive some of them and refresh your mind.

There’s an amazing power in being in the present and you can do this by focusing completely on the task, the event or the company that you are with. It takes practice to focus without getting distracted or just being in auto mode which takes away from an experience.

By being mindful, you would find out that you gain more insights and everything could translate into an amazing experience.

Please do share your amazing little writing tips with us. We learn from each other when we share. More tips are here

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Essential Writers Tips 4

Essential Writers Tips, Think Like Writer, Professional Writer, Best Practice, Bestseller, Huffington Post, Positive Attitude, Mind Strength, Self-Help, Growth, Success

I write, therefore I am

Identify with the craft and think like a writer. A lot of beginner writers and even some who have crafted words for  some time are always reluctant to introduce themselves as a writer. 

This could be due to lack of confidence in their craft as well as the misconception that one is only permitted to claim the title of a writer when they have a Bestseller that has made New York Times list or when their article gets published on Huffington Post and the likes.

Part of growing as a professional writer is to take ownership and pride in your craft even if it’s not yet paying. Except you do, no one else will.

You are your biggest cheerleader and short of using the saying ‘fake it until you make it,’ accepting and putting yourself in that frame of thinking while you work towards your success boosts your confidence and broadens your scope of thinking in that aspect. It’s a mental attitude thing.

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Essential Writers Tips 3

Essential Tips, Writer, Writing, Getting job done, Appearance, Little Changes, Best practice

Focus On Your Appearance

You might wonder what your personal appearance has to do with your writing especially when you are a new writer trying to chart a path for yourself.

Some writers may sit and write in their underwear, pajamas or their favourite raggy house clothes, but most times, sleep mouth, gritty eyes paired with comfortable, casual worn-out clothing translates to sloppiness.

When you plunk down in to write in a shabby state, your brain also registers that mood and you get little work done before the mood to climb back into the bed, or couch hits you once again.

Little changes like brushing your teeth and hair, washing your face and wearing clean smart clothes – not necessarily formal – makes a lot of difference.

Making such minor changes sends a message of readiness to your brain and your writing. Your appearance ultimately has a positive effect on you. Taking your writing seriously means treating it like your job and you won’t go to work in your underwear or shabbily dressed.

Check here for more snippets of helpful writing tips. Do share some of your tips with us. I love learning new methods and best practice.

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