Leave Them Out – Essential Writers Tips

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Leave Those Boring Parts

As an aspiring writer working on that anticipated bestseller of yours, a vital writing tip is not to start writing a story simply because you think that the genre would sell or for the sake of other odd reasons that leaves you struggling to fill the pages with thick, unnecessary prose that would bore your readers to sleep.




As you work on your writing project, make your book one that you would equally find exciting to read. Think of those books that you loved reading. Those one’s you got lost in, then compare them to those novels that you skipped out chunky parts of the book.

What are those parts that you skipped when you read the novels – those paragraphs that had too many words and didn’t add much to the story except more pages? Pay attention to such details and avoid adding such parts to yours.

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Apply The Mini-Skirt Rule – Essential Writers Tips

Using The Mini-Skirt Rule in Writing

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One of the golden rules of writing is the ‘mini-skirt rule.’ Using the mini-skirt rule can certainly make your prose sexier and vibrant; if you get my drift.

The rule indicates that you should ‘keep your prose long enough to cover everything, but short enough to keep it interesting for your readers.’

Don’t have your writing dressed up like a Victorian lady trussed up in a ball gown with girdles and multi-layered petticoats, topped off with a jacket and a bountiful hat of peacock feathers and flowers. Phew! That is literally exhausting to think of.




It’s a fine art to write in a strategic manner and to create a balance between keeping the bare necessities with some flesh to the bones and over spilling the prose with excesses.

For writers of fiction, don’t waste your words and bore your readers to such tears that your story or your book ends up in the dust gathering pile of books that went unread.

When it comes to length, follow this rule in keeping your story short and engrossing and work at making your book ‘unputdownable.’

‘Cut. Cut. Cut.’

  • Cut words, like those unnecessary adverbs.
  • Cut sentences
  • Cut pages
  • Cut paragraphs
  • Keep it short and simple

Things to consider when editing.

  • Does your writing cover everything that your story needs?
  • Question the purpose of the words that you use.
  • Is it too long? Has it ceased being interesting? Are there bits that don’t add much value to the story?
  • Could your draft benefit by cutting off 10% from it?

If your writing is for an online audience, bear in mind that the readers’ attention span online is less than what is obtainable offline.

Keep your blog posts straight to the point. Have your readers engaged with your first fifty to sixty words.

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20 Tips to Overcome Your Writer cum Bloggers’ Block.

Argh! The Writers’ Block

There are days that you would find yourself scribbling and tapping away with much zeal and then the following day you wake up to a blank mind that stretches from one day to the other, then weeks…months…and you are waiting for the inspiration to ignite. You’ve just been visited by the gremlin that blocks creativity aka writers’ block.

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Writers’ block can last for as long as it chooses if you let it. It’s a common malaise that every writer struggles with now and again, but the most important thing is what you do when faced with it.

Writing is an art that takes a lot of brain power, creative energy, focus and mental acuity each time. It’s not a science that has a ‘Eureka formula fix’ as such, we have to approach its solution with that in mind.

Igniting that inspiration is not going to happen unless you take it in hand and having been writing for a while, here are some of the prescribed methods I use to doctor my creative constipation to enable easier passage of inspiration.




Finding The Culprit

  • The Sly One called Distraction: We are all busy people and in the midst of creating space for our writing passion, life certainly gets in the way. It requires diligent scheduling and great discipline on our part to balance our various interests and be freer of distractions.
  • The Passion Thief: You started off with lots of zest hammering away at the words, then, gulp, your passionate inspiring sizzle dwindles down from that lustful chemical burst to a barely there romantic kindling. This could be due to boredom and not necessarily loss of zeal. You’ve probably obsessed and nitpicked the writing too many times that your mind and eyes are bored. Give it a break – a couple of days, while you immerse yourself in other stimulating things. Avoid editing your work till you get to the end of your first draft.
  • The Burnout Bummer: There’s so much going on in your present life that you are simply exhausted in the bid to balance everything else in your busy life. It’s not a block but a mental cry for a mini-rest. Take hours off in between hectic schedule and do other things that have absolutely nothing to do with your writing. Take a mini-vacation/staycation.
  • Mr Analysis Paralysis: You are constantly analysing your content, thinking that it’s lacking in some aspect to the point of OCD. This is counterproductive. In as much as it’s recommended to do your best work, taking hours on end just to critique every minutiae detail before doing the real writing is time spent in reverse.
  • The Empty Motivation Tanks: Yes indeed, there are those days that we are simply not motivated to do anything even the writing that we love so much ‘cue in Bruno Mars song today I don’t feel doing anything.’ Well, this is the time to dig into your motivation list. What gets your adrenaline revving to go? Indulge and wake up the juice.
  • Chief Indiscipline: The timing never seems right hence you procrastinate for as long as ever. Discipline is a key to getting any writing done.
  • Runaway Characters: You’ve created these interesting characters, and now after having written dozens of pages your characters have literally veered off in unexpected directions that you are struggling to get a grip of what direction to take the story. Take a day a two and give your brain a challenge to think of bigger plots and picture.
  • The Doubting Thomas: Many writers struggle with self-doubt. They don’t trust their ideas or putting it out there for others to see. Self-doubt and fear are major reasons some would-be excellent writers never get to become that writer that they dream of.

Simple Solutions to Takedown The Enemy

  1. Freewrite – write anything you can. What ‘s on your mind? Write it.
  2. Read some affirmative and inspiring quotes to motivate you.
  3. Take a walk – nature not only rejuvenates but brings forth inspiration.
  4. Eliminate distractions and focus on writing. Use your distraction free writing mode for your blog: Shift + Alt + W or Omniwriter. Turn off other distracting gadgets like your phone.
  5. Change your font family, size and colour. Sometimes little tweaks do the trick.
  6. Sweat it out. Do something to get your blood pumping faster, like exercising.
  7. Block out your writing time and make it a routine to write daily.
  8. Change your scenery. On days that I’m stuck, I go to the café, library, park or somewhere that catches my fancy.
  9. Find an exciting read, kick back and just soak in the penmanship of other authors.
  10. Listening to music works for me. I enjoy a medley of tunes and depending on the writing genre I go from classical to jazz to afro, pop, dance hall…
  11. Set it aside for a couple of days and meditate.
  12. Source for interesting writing prompts.
  13. Pretend that you are talking to someone and just let it flow.
  14. Spend time with someone who makes you feel good.
  15. Have a random chat with a stranger.
  16. Do more research, brainstorm your ideas.
  17. Indulge in other creative outlets.
  18. If the start of the passage is proving tough, start from the middle, the beginning will fall into place.
  19. Avoid editing while you write.
  20. By all means, leave perfectionism out of it.

Writers’ block is not insurmountable. Your possibilities are endless, but your action is critical for any solution to work. Once you kick-start a solution heading towards resolution keep a steady momentum and take off from there.

Even if your writing is about your shopping list or your writers’ block, just write. You’ve got this.

Do you have solutions that could be added to this list? What works best for you?  Check this link for essential Writer’s tips.


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Overcome Your Writing Fears – Essential Writers Tips

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Writing Fears

What are your greatest writing fears?

Writing is not for the faint of heart and to build a successful career as a writer is not without its’ fair share of anxieties.

At various points in their pursuit, most writers have experienced writing fears, so this is not a challenge peculiar to you.

I remember when decided I to follow my passion and started writing actively, I had bubbles of anxiety in my stomach for days, I lost several nights of sleep wondering what made me think that I was good enough for anyone to want to spend their time reading my words.

Coupled with that, I enrolled for a creative writing course and as much as I tried not to take the instructors critic to heart, I never looked forward to hearing from her and was literally developing an ulcer from anguish. After much angst, I decided to put my anxiety to an end, to believe in myself and chose to face my fears.

Your fear might be one or even all the following:

  • Fear of failure.

This is one of the most common writing fears that writers nurture in the dark recesses of the mind, creating various excuses to stop from writing that story, book or series that you have, excuses like ‘the bookstores are already so full of books, who would want to read mine?’ Don’t let these doubts and lack of confidence stand in your way.

  • Fear of rejection.

In my honest opinion, I believe that all writers face this fear at some point or the other. Fear of submitting that work and facing the rejection. In this case, my friend, you’ve got to develop a thick hide like the Rhinoceros. Brace your mind that it’s bound to happen but it won’t stop you from pursuing your dream.

  • Fear of poor writing.

You can only get better through practice, making mistakes and learning from them. Refreshing your knowledge of basic writing skills and grammar would help. Also, consider using writing tools that point out those little errors.

  • Fear of criticism.

Writers are sensitive people especially when it comes to their work. Allowing others to critique your work is a nail-biting time. One way to get past this is to choose those who check your work carefully, based on their experience – not for the feel good cause – but knowing that they will offer a constructive feedback. Condition your mind not to take it personally and check the outlined issues. Most times it’s worth it.

  • Fear of obscurity.

Not going after your dreams will not make you visible. What have you got to lose? Since you are down, there’s only one way to go and that is up.

  • Financial concerns

A valid concern for most writers. It’s certainly not easy to leave the thoughts of the bills to pay to chase a bowl of gold coins at the end of the rainbow. So, caught in this many writers struggle to find the time to get their writing done. This is a situation where a thorough work-life balance approach comes in. You’ve got to create the space to chase your dreams. Scheduling will help.

Some are afraid of letting it all out. Worried that emptying their thoughts will only bring castigation. Thus, their writing becomes lackluster because out of fear of getting personal and losing their perceived sense of privacy, they fail to draw on personal experience that can only enhance their writing.

  • Fear of not finding the right words to bring out that great story in you.

There will be days like this whether you are a new writer or an experienced one. Be ready to deal with the writers’ block. 

  • Fear that no one would want to read your publications.

You’ll be surprised. Stop selling that excuse to yourself.

  • Fear that your story is not as original as you thought.

I believe that everything has been written in one form or the other, however, you haven’t written from your own refreshing perspective. Go ahead and own your story.

  • Fear that you are not as talented as you thought.

It’s most likely that you simply have a distorted view of your own writing and potentials. Others think you’ve got it, but in your own mind, you feel you fall short. Learning to believe in yourself is important here.

  • Fear of never becoming published. 

The beautiful thing about self-publishing is that it frees your mind from this inhibition. No hindrances to exploring getting your work out there by self-publishing.

The list of writing fears is endless and the interesting thing is that the thing that is your strength as a writer ‘your imagination’ goes into overdrive in face of these fears and you’ll eagerly fill in the blank spaces of ‘what ifs’ by giving the fear a larger than life attribute.

This ultimately leads to not realizing your aspirations and full potentials as a writer because these fears become a problem when we fail to deal with them.

For example, the fear of rejection prevents many writers from submitting their work and what makes it worse is that the more a writer allows a fear to grow the more you reinforce its place as the captain of your creativity.

Facing Your Fears

Only thing we have to fear is fear itself. Franklin D. Roosevelt

Your writing life presents you with the endless opportunities to meet your fears and conquer them.

Facing that blank page, sending out that manuscript only to receive a rejection letter, having the courage to bare your soul and being told that it lacks character… are surely part of what a writer’s nightmare is made of, however, when we consciously work with fear, we can actually harness this energy source in ways that will support our writing goals and enhance our writing experience.

Steps to dealing with your writing fears

  • Identify which fears concern you most. Which ones are valid, which fears could become valid and which ones are simply excuses?
  • Acknowledge the fear without putting it in charge.
  • Seek ways to rise above it: Join other writing groups, give yourself the permission to fail. Redefine your own scale of success. Apply daily, positive affirmations to boost your thought.
  • Brainstorm on how to handle your fears in positive ways. For example, instead of telling yourself that it’s okay to get rejected, tell yourself that you’ll research reasons why submissions get rejected and seek solutions to revise your work properly.
  • Focus on process instead of results. Have a written action plan that you can refer to when you start feeling discouraged.
  • Forget perfectionism and be open with your shortcomings.
  • Retrain your poor habits diligently. There are those habits we’ve imbibed over time that simply yield nothing and only serve as blocks in our path.
  • Don’t make things harder than they are. Cease from approaching your writing from a place of fear, it only makes it harder and tiring. When you find yourself all tensed up, seek ways to relax before getting back to your writing.
  • Keep doing it afraid. Repeating your process creates comfort and confidence.
  • Be realistic in your approach. Don’t set impossible goals for yourself. Factor your lifestyle in and use a pragmatic approach.
  • Talk about it. It helps to share your thoughts and fears with those you trust.
  • Quit comparing. Your writing is unique like you are. Consistent comparison with other writers you esteem and trying to copy them hurts you more than it helps you. You can learn from the masters but carve your own path.
  • Research ways to do it better.

Your writing passion and your pursuit for success as a writer are valid and precious. Don’t let any form of insecurity keep you from doing that thing you’ve been called to do. Deal with those fears today and broaden the horizon of your potentials.

Let’s talk in the comments. What are your greatest writing hang-ups?

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Essential Writers Tips – Go Easy on The Punctuations

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Curb the exclamations!

Guilty as charged. I am one of those writers who loves to emphasize words with punctuations and I believe there are a lot of us. It’s a no-no.

As much as you would love to make that emphasis, avoid using a lot of exclamation marks or using them with a question mark to tell a reader how important something is.

Minimal use of exclaiming punctuations serves as an opportunity to explore your descriptive capabilities as a writer.

Exclamation Point

  • The Exclamation point (!):  Added to show yelling (in a dialogue ) or extreme emotion (in a narrative).

Don’t use more than one (!!), and avoid using it with a question mark (!?).

Most editors discourage its usage, the rule of thumb is not more than two or three exclamation points in an entire manuscript.

This is because overuse of the exclamation point creates room for weaker writing when the writer uses it consistently to show emotion. Instead, a writer should use a stronger dialog or narrative that will better convey that emotion.

Question Mark

  • The Question mark (?): Is used to punctuate a question. Need not be more than one (??) and not used with an exclamation point (?!).

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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 7

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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

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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 Tip 1

Essential writing tips, Writing Projects, Writers Block, Writing Strategy,  

Consistency and focus are key in completing a writing project, however, there are times when the writers’ block would strike and the reason that you should have several projects going on at the same time is the ability to switch and keep working without stagnating and feeling frustrated or overwhelmed.

Your projects could be based on different writing genres or even other creative outlets. This way, you give your mind the opportunity to exhale and most times in-between working on other things, your muse returns from her sabbatical. The important thing is to keep writing.

Recommended further reading: 55 Essential Strategies For Every Writer. You can also check our short post To be a writer – Simple ways to start.

Are you working on any writing project? Do you have a strategy for staying focused and completing your project? Share your secret to success with us.