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Posts Tagged ‘writer’

 Maybe it seems a little early to start thinking about doing your taxes, but it’s been my experience that the sooner you get on it, the less stressful it can be. Thankfully there are people and web sites out there to help us slot all those numbers in the correct places on the correct forms and keep us from having to visit with a friendly IRS agent because we’ve gotten “creative” with the numbers. Here are 7 links to help you understand how to do your taxes:

Read the rest of 7 Links To Help Every Writer With Taxes.

This blog, The Road to Writing, will be discontinued Dec. 31, 2011. If you would like to continue receiving great tips and inspirational posts please remember to subscribe to my new blog by RSS or email for LOL Mondays, Spirit Wednesdays and Toolbox Saturdays.

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When you want to be a career author you can’t just write when the muse is singing. Sometimes you do need a little butt glue to keep you from wandering around doing everything but writing. That’s true… except when it isn’t.

Is butt glue always necessary?

Today I learned a very interesting thing about my writing needs. I’ve recently begun putting Larry Brooks‘ instructions on Story Engineering to good use re-plotting my novel Apprentice Cat, which has been floundering for some time now.

I’ve done everything from conceptualizing to character worksheets. Today was the first full day I’ve been able to spend creating the story structure and it was a revelation in how I develop plot.

According to Larry, there are only 60 to 90 scenes in any given novel, which are broken into four parts. I decided to put together an excel worksheet with the four major plot points and divide the rest of the necessary scenes between them. That worked fine until I began having problems coming up with scene ideas.

I tried applying butt glue, but it only made me itch.

My poor brain seemed to freeze. Every character had something he or she needed me to write at that very moment. It was like being in a room full of screaming pre-schoolers all wanting my attention at once. All I could think of was how I knew I needed to be creating these scenes, but they weren’t materializing.

That’s when I realized I needed to do something un-writerly, something physical like cleaning up the mess my toddler had made of my living room or doing dishes or anything. Butt glue was the last thing I needed.

I followed my instincts to a better story.

As soon as I stopped thinking about how much I needed to write and the self-imposed deadline I was on for finishing my plot outline, the scenes started appearing. I was hearing snippets of conversation and seeing my characters doing things I hadn’t even considered.

When a scene popped into my head, I quickly went back to my laptop and slotted it into the worksheet. If nothing else came to mind within a couple of minutes, I went back to doing whatever I was doing before. Worked great and I’m now 2/3 done with the outline. Yeah!

Butt glue is great when we’re just procrastinating, but it can get in the way of the creative process if our creative selves become paralyzed and overwhelmed by the blank page.

I’m curious to know, have any of you had the same thing happen? When do you find you need to apply butt glue? When has it hampered your creative flow?

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I had the loveliest, un-writerly night last night.

I didn’t read a book on Craft. I didn’t read any blogs about writing. I didn’t read a book or watch a movie in order to dissect it. I didn’t even read my email. I wasn’t waiting for my Muse, nor was I adhering butt glue in order to get just a little more done on my work in progress. In fact, I didn’t even think about my WIP at all.

So, does that make me an unprofessional slacker?

Absolutely not. The simple truth is I needed a break from the stress of being a writer. I certainly could have used last weekend’s four-day family bonanza as an excuse to burn the midnight oil, but I didn’t. I enjoyed my time with my family, but it wasn’t a totally stress-free, don’t think about writing weekend.

Sometimes we just need to take a break, not think about our careers or anything remotely related to writing.

If you’re like me, you eat-sleep-breath writing anyway, so taking a break from your passion may mean being firm with yourself to not do anything that could turn into a lesson.

Instead, find something to enjoy that won’t feed your natural addiction.

      • Don’t read a book just for fun, because you won’t be able to stop yourself from dissecting it.
      • Don’t watch a good movie, because, again, you’ll want to take it apart to see how it works.
      • Don’t peruse the internet, because you’ll invariably end up on yet another writer’s blog you just can’t pass up.


That leaves what?

Play a game. Listen to music. Watch your favorite reality show for four hours straight. Whatever you can think of to do that has nothing to do with writing.

Is it easy? No way. Is it necessary? Yes, because you’re brain needs rest.

Besides, you can always jump right back into it tomorrow.

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This week I found myself having nightmares about conspiracies and daydreaming about a long vacation at some remote beach. That’s when I realized my life was once again out of balance.

Who among us hasn’t felt like they were running uphill at full speed for days on end? It’s a common experience, especially if you’re trying to balance more than just a small family and your writing career. For most of us we’re balancing a day job, family (and all those household things that go with it), volunteer activities and a host of other responsibilities as well as launching (or maintaining) a writing career.

Yet even in the midst of all those responsibilities, and maybe even because we have them, it is important to find a balance between them and our peace of mind. The following 5 links can help you achieve a better balance.

  1. Downshifting: The First Day of the Rest of My Life, by J.D. Roth: J.D. shares his personal journey from being a regular 9-to-5 Joe with huge debt and lots of wasted time to being a problogger with finances in great shape and no time to finding a balance between his new self-employed status and having time to do nothing.
  2. 10 tips on leading a balanced life, by Allen Galbraith: Although this post is written for the 9-to-5 crowd and those self-employed in businesses other than writing, there are some helpful tips nonetheless.
  3. 5 Tips for Better Work-Life Balance, by Jen Uscher and Miranda Hitti: These tips are more generalized (and also more focussed on 9-to5ers) but, again, some of them are helpful, especially when it comes to family and household responsibilities.
  4. WE ARE NOT ALONE: The Writer’s Guide to Social Media, by Kristen Lamb: This book is specifically for writers and is a great tool for learning how to manage marketing via social media so that it doesn’t become a time suck.
  5. Sensitive (Mental) Health: HSPs and Burnout by Elaine Aron: This very short article is specifically for highly sensitive people, though I think some of it applies to non-hsps as well.

Balance is attainable, even if for a brief period. What are some tips you’ve discovered on maintaining a balance between your writing career and the rest of your life?

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I am not a fan of drama. However, against my better judgement, I took the advice Les Edgerton gives in Hooked and rented Thelma & Louise in order to learn about how to create a “proper” inciting incident and the resulting escalating conflicts.

I wish I could say the movie pleasantly surprised me, but it didn’t. It was exactly as I figured it would be. Yes, it has a powerful ending. Yes, the real inciting incident isn’t what most people think it is. No, I didn’t find the story riveting or the conflict keeping me glued to the screen, though I did watch the whole movie out of respect for the cast, crew and Les (and to get my $3.50’s worth).

I can say that I learned something from the movie, though it’s not exactly what Les probably meant to be learned. In the case of Thelma & Louise, and most other dramas I’ve read/watched, the inciting incident is the first in a string of bad decisions in which each bad decision is decidedly worse than the last. If you truly care about the characters, this would indeed be conflict for the reader as well as the characters. If… and that’s a big if.

Life is drama. I don’t need to see it played out on the big screen or read about it in a book. For me, simply being human in an unpleasant situation is not enough. Therefore, characters like Thelma or Louise only irritate me. They make bad decision after bad decision, never stopping to consider the consequences or the other characters in their lives. That is not entertainment. That is a train wreck.

The problem for writers arises in trying to create characters readers will connect with. Escalating conflict isn’t enough. If your reader doesn’t care about what happens to your character, then she may be cheering for the character’s demise by the end of the book. (I was by Season 5 Episode 22 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.)

So what’s a writer to do? Here are 6 links that can help you create characters your readers will fall in love with:

  1. T is for Terrific: 4 Ways to Create Minor Characters
  2. 5 Questions About Characters’ Desires
  3. Checklist of 17 Character Qualities
  4. Holy Rusted Metal, Batman, I’m A Sidekick!
  5. How We Write Wednesdays: Making Characters Realistic–YOUR Way
  6. Let your MC succeed while they’re failing – the power of reward

What do you think? Does a chain of bad decisions make a great story or do you need to fall in love with the characters first?

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“People forget what you say, but they remember how you made them feel”–Warren Beatty

Caring for others, wanting to help our fellow humans, comes rather naturally for highly sensitive people, so why shouldn’t promoting ourselves and our products be just as natural? Most likely because we’re thinking of “selling” rather than “marketing.”

Sell: to persuade or induce (someone) to buy something: The salesman sold me on a more expensive model than I wanted.

Market: “on the market” (to make) available for purchase

Although the difference, linguistically speaking, is subtle, there is a huge difference in the way the two are carried out.

When we think of sales, we often think of a stereo-typical used car salesman — pushy, irritating, hard to get away from. I don’t know any HSP who wants to be that person. Trying to “sell” ourselves and our products leaves a sickening feeling in our psyche. And it’s no wonder since we’re consistently thinking of how the “other” feels. We know people don’t like to feel pushed into buying what they don’t want.

However, marketing is simply letting everyone know what we have available. To market ourselves we only need to do what we do best, be kind to others. The rest will slowly take care of itself.

Kristen Lamb and JP Aguiar have similar takes on using social media, Twitter in particular, to market ourselves that really speak to the way HSP’s live.

Kristen calls her suggestion the Rule of 3’s:

  1. Conversation:  Find someone to say something to. It doesn’t need to be a lengthy chat, just a word of encouragement or congratulations. Anything friendly will do.

  2. Information: Tweet a link to a post or article you found helpful, though not necessarily your own.

  3. Reciprocation:  Retweet a link from a fellow tweeter, preferably one you think others would really enjoy.

JP calls his suggestion The 5 Fingers To Social Media Learning:

  1. Index Finger – Know Your Goals: What do you want to accomplish through social media?

  2. Middle Finger – Share The Luv: Be human. Be available. Watch for opportunities to communicate with others, then do it.

  3. Ring Finger – Build Your Community: Sharing great information and being available naturally builds relationships, which will grow your following, your community.

  4. Pinky Finger – Share You Share Yours: Be yourself, but keep it to a minimum. Remember, it’s about building a community, not selling a used car.

  5. Thumb – Be Supportive and Helpful: Watch for the needs of others. All writers like, and need, some help getting the word out about their books, blogs, etc. Be that help.

Selling anything can be difficult, but making yourself available and letting others know you have something they might be interested in isn’t nearly as hard. Social media can be a marketing dream for a highly sensitive person, especially when we dig into our natural talents to be attentive and helpful.

What other ways have you found to market your products that hinged on putting your customer’s needs first?

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The road to publication is filled with pain and tears… bloodshed… mayhem…. I’m being melodramatic here. Of course, that could just be that I’ve recently read several posts about how painful the publication process can be and how difficult it is to write good fiction. Here’s a small sampling:


“This is literally years of work you’re seeing. And hours and hours of work each day. The amount of time and energy I put into marketing is exhausting. I am continuously overwhelmed by the amount of work I have to do that isn’t writing a book. I hardly have time to write anymore, which sucks and terrifies me.” — Amanda Hocking’s post Some Things That Need to Be Said


“When it comes to traditional publication, at times, it may feel like the journey is filled with one root canal and subsequent infection after another. We know what’s coming—the long waits, the rejections, the stinging feedback. We’ve heard others talk about it, we brace ourselves for it, but then when it comes we’re unprepared for how much it really hurts.” — Jody Hedlund’s post Enduring the Pain in the Quest for Publication


“I’ve been blogging for a little over three years. I’ve been writing fiction since … well, pretty much since I could write. My blog posts are read by thousands of people. Only 1% of the fiction I’ve ever written has been published. Fiction is incredibly hard to do well.” — Ali Luke’s post Why Fiction is So Hard to Write



Admittedly, I’m picking on these blogger/authors, but it’s only because these posts spotlight the prevailing problem I’m seeing amongst writers, both new and not-so-new. We’ve picked up the bad habit of looking at the challenges, the hardships, and forgetting the real reason behind why we write. Most of us write because we can’t stop writing. We may ask, “Is it time to just give it up?” as JM Tohlin did before finally publishing The Great Lenore, but when it comes down to brass tacks we simply are unable to.

There’s about as much choice in sitting down to craft a story as there is in breathing.

The fact is, yes, getting published traditionally is hard and being self-published can mean hard work (unless you’re JA Konrath). But here’s another fact: dwelling on how hard it is doesn’t get the story written. It’s time we dragged ourselves out of the pit of despair, step down from our high horses, and get to work.

So in the spirit of moving forward, here’s 4 great links to help get you in the groove:

  1. Opportunity Comes in Overalls by Kristen Lamb: She’s a social media expert with a sharp sense of humor who seems to know just when we need a kick in the pants and that’s exactly what she gives us in this post.

  2. A Perfectionist’s Guide to Editing: 4 Stages by Jami Gold: Jami’s a paranormal author on a deadline battling the imp of perfection, something many of us are doing, and gives us 4 great ways to ignore and use our inner perfectionist.

  3. Nail Your Novel by Roz Morris: This book is a plotter’s dream (and can help pantser’s too 😉 ) as it gives easy to use steps in developing a novel from the first spark of an idea to the finished product.

  4. Hooked by Les Edgerton: This book is the simplest guide I’ve found thus far on how to fashion a beginning that’ll keep ’em reading to the end.



What other ways have you found to pick yourself up and find that forward momentum you lost?

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