35 Things to Do Besides Write (Which Will Improve Your Writing)

Writers write, sure, but you can’t be writing all the time.  Take a break once in a while!

Here are a bunch of things you can do instead that will have you coming back to your desk reinvigorated and full of ideas.

  1. Read a book you love.  Pay attention to what makes you love it. Is it the author’s word choice? The suspense?  The rhythm?
  2. Read something you’ve never read before: new author, new genre, whatever.
  3. Play with a child (or a bunch of children)yerin park sled Continue reading

Scene vs. Summary: Staying in the Moment

“Condition yourself to stay in the moment and write through it.”

When one of my creative writing professors said this, he was trying to stress the importance of scene over summary after he saw our tendency, time and again, to build up tension and conflict in our scenes, only to back off and move into summary.

scene vs summary

The blog Writing with Celia does a thorough explanation of the difference between scene and summary, so I’ll just say a little bit about why the distinction is important, and how you can go about balancing your prose.

The kind of summary my professor was talking about is not the kind you start or close a chapter with, or that you use to fill in background details (though there’s something to be said for using less of that, too).  No, this is more about choosing which moments to make scenes, and which to summarize. Continue reading

Should I Outline My Novel?

First of all, yes. You probably should.

Second, YOU GUYS.  Chuck Wendig did an excellent and super-thorough post about outlining over at his blog.  Here’s a little preview–I can’t post the whole thing here because it’s so long and wonderful.



The story goes that most writers are either pantsers (which regrettably has nothing to do with writing sans pants) or plotters (which has nothing to do with plotting the fictional in-narrative demises of those who have offended you). We either jump into the story by the so-called seat of our pants, or we rigorously plot and scheme every detail of the story before we ever pen the first sentence. It’s a bit of a false dichotomy, as many writers fall somewhere in the middle. Even a “pantser” can make use of an outline without still feeling pantsless and fancy-free. Continue reading

Pickup Lines for Writers

There are plenty of articles out there about why you shouldn’t date a writer.

This leaves us writers with two options:

1) Hope we meet somebody who doesn’t care how awful we are.

2) Only date other writers.

So if you’re a non-writer and you’re reading this, you’re doomed, according to my extensive internet research.  If you’re a writer crushing on a fellow writer…well.  Good luck to you.  Either way, let’s assume it’s too late; you’ve fallen for that sexy writer across the room.  What now?

Smooth words and a quick wit are the way to a writer’s heart.  Ladies and gentlemen, break out the pickup lines…

someecards.com - Let's skip the foreshadowing and get down to business. Continue reading

Motivation Pep Talk

I got inspired by this little blurb on the Writers Helpers tumblr, and thought I’d do something similar.  I’ll return to this whenever I need a kick in the pants (i.e. always).

Find Your Inspiration Sign

(Not sure who originally created this lovely image, but you can find it here.)

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3 Reasons Writers Feel Self-Doubt (and How to Overcome It)

My favorite Creative Writing professor just agreed to do an independent study with me this summer while I’m on campus taking classes.  We’ll grab coffee or sit on the docks by the river once a week and discuss a piece of my writing, probably a chapter, each week.

I find writing to be so much easier when I work toward a deadline, and when I know that someone will be reading my work.  I think most writers, regardless of their ages or experience levels, can relate to that.

But a confession: within 24 hours of seeing my summer plans start to unfold the way I hoped they would, I began to get anxious.  You see, my ultimate goal is to finish my monstrous work-in-progress, which I’ve literally been working on for YEARS.

An actual photo of my work-in-progress. Terrifying, right?

Continue reading