Why It’s So Much Easier NOT To Write – And Why We Should Anyway!

I can’t be the only author that has struggled to start that next project, to fill that once blank page with an amazing formula of words designed to move and wow our imaginary reader.

No? Good.

Writing is a difficult trade, we are constantly remind by society, by friends and family – and by ourselves – that it is “a waste of time”, “it will never earn any money”, or that “books are silly” by the neanderthals among us… *we all know one….*

We face the constant pressure as writers to amaze and prove wrong the people around us. They expect the next J.K Rowling to emerge suddenly out of your office, and not just you.

Image source: cursivecontent.com

Image source: cursivecontent.com

Writers are often grouped together, admittedly often by other writers, in this assumption that we all want to be rich and famous from our work, or that we’re all geeks. Well some of that’s true, but it depends on the individual author.

Personally, I just want to earn a living doing something I enjoy. I want that home office with my comfy slippers, a mug of tea in one hand and my favourite pen in the other. I don’t need to be Stephen King famous – although that would be nice. I just want to be recognized for my work, the same as everyone else.

Even in a society where reading is coming back to the forefront of our social activities, it is still seen as weird to want to spend your time running through castles, fighting dragons, saving the damsel and challenging the dark knight to a duel. So we need to start fighting society as well as dragons and start proving why we need creative authors in the world.

Writers, poets, artists, performers – any kind of creative – play an essential part of our lives as human beings. They move and inspire people all over the world with the stories they create and help share. They distract people for hours on end and they can make them re-think their whole lives by the end of Chapter 5.

Image source: allisonldoyle.com

Image source: allisonldoyle.com

We’ve all had that haunting moment when you put down a book or switch off a film, and your heart is aching. You have been changed as a person because of that story. You feel empowered – and rightly so. Stories are a gift from one person to another saying, “here, have this – I made this story just for you. I hope it helps you.”

That’s why we can’t stop. We can’t stop writing because people don’t like it, because it’s hard, because it’s easier to do something else. We need to keep going because one day, somewhere out there, your words are going to help someone. And what’s better than helping someone?

Why Writing A Sequel Is So Hard

I have always envied series writers for their ability to keep a story going for 2+ books without losing the will to live, or losing the plot along the way.

I tend to stick to 1-book plot lines or poetry: nice and quick with no afterthought. But now, I am writing a sequel for the first time (more in theory than in practice at the moment), I need to know the secrets!

There is so much more to consider when carrying on a novel to the next book:

  • have the characters developed?
  • is there a time lapse?
  • will it be a continuous plot?
  • are you restricted by a previous timeline?
  • is there some very specific details mentioned before that can’t be changed?
  • where is it set, and why has it / hasn’t it changed?
  • why is there a need for a sequel: what did you leave unanswered?
  • what does the reader expect to happen?
  • what do you expect to happen?

There’s a lot to consider, but there is one very important question when writing a sequel or a series: WHY?

Why are you carrying on? You’ve finished the first book – so why does there have to be more? Is something left unresolved? Did you end on a cliffhanger? Are there too many unanswered questions? 

You need to know the answers to those questions before you start writing – that’s why it’s so hard: because you’ve knowingly constricted yourself to an already established story, now you have to carry it on.

Make it a good one!

How To Be A Professional Writer

If you want advice on how to be a professional writer, and you’ve been on Google looking for tips: STOP!

Yes, there are ways to improve your productivity, or your technique, but you can’t learn how to become a professional writer/poet/blogger – it just happens. I didn’t sit down and say “Oh, today I’m going to start becoming a real author” – I just did it.

But, if you really want a list of things that will help you become a professional writer: stick around.

Be Prepared For A Lack Of Sleep: 

Garfield Sleep

Writers write when they have to, but more so when they are hit by random inspiration. So be prepared for an idea to slap you around the face at 3 am, and you’ll have to write it down!

You’ll have a lot of late nights because you’ve got home from school/work and needed to finish that chapter, so when you do get the chance to have a lie-in: take advantage of it!

Read – a lot:

reading_chibi_by_natakachiserene-d4dj9r7

Obvious, right? Reading improves your writing. Makes sense. But more importantly, read a variety of materials. Not a fan of romantic poetry? Try humor poetry. Don’t like reading serious books all the time? Find something quick and fun to read. Branch out with your reading and you’ll soon find that you are exploring forms of writing that you never had before.

Do Your Research:

reading-99244_640

There is nothing worse than reading a book and it being obvious that the author didn’t do enough research. If you are going to spend months of your life writing a book, at least make sure all of your facts check out!

Social Media:

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It’s the 21st century and there is no point avoiding the world of social media. If you use it properly, social media can gain you an all-new following of not only readers, but other writers too! I personally think that every author/poet/blogger, etc should have: Twitter, Facebook Page, LinkedIn, Goodreads, and WordPress.

Have A Routine:

time-43147_640

Routines are so important when writing – especially if you are writing a novel or you are a blogger.

Bloggers: post regularly – it’s such a shame when amazing bloggers don’t post at least once a week.

Authors/Poets: Get up in the morning, get dressed, make a cup of coffee and get writing!

A strong routine can guarantee you write at least once a day (which you should be doing anyway!) and will give you a chance to get into the zone instead of hurriedly jotting something down.

Carry A Journal:

journals

Journals/notebooks are so useful! I genuinely don’t know how I called myself a writer before I started writing every day. Journals are great for writing down ideas, rough drafts, planning, or just ranting to yourself about your really annoying neighbour. They give you somewhere to put all of those crazy thoughts and plans that don’t have a place anywhere else. And, it’s an excuse to buy more notebooks!

Be Dedicated:

dedication

You need to be dedicated to your writing career if you want to be professional. Don’t half-ass it – you have to go all the way. Writing isn’t just about expressing an opinion/feelings anymore: it’s about gaining an audience of readers who need your words in their lives.

“52 Writing Prompts” Is Out!

That’s right, me and Lara’s book “52 Writing Prompts: One For Every Week Of The Year” is out now on Kindle!

52 writing prompts cover

52 Writing Prompts is an e-book containing a writing prompt for every week of the year. Some are silly, some are insightful and some are just useful. They are designed to make you write – if only for five minutes – every week.

This book is great for those just starting out, and particularly those who blog.

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/52-Writing-Prompts-Every-Week-ebook/dp/B00KP9HSVA/ref=la_B00GSL71SE_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1401695247&sr=1-4

Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/52-Writing-Prompts-Every-Week-ebook/dp/B00KP9HSVA/ref=la_B00GSL71SE_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1401695247&sr=1-4

Announcement: Me and Lara Are Writing A Book

That’s right, folks – me and my good friend and fellow writer, Lara Rye, are writing a book together!

The book is called 52 Writing Prompts: One For Every Week Of The Year (catchy title, right?)

We spent last night designing the cover, and are rather impressed by our result:

52 writing prompts cover

 

It even led to me saying the sentence “I am jealous of myself!” because I am well aware that my first two book covers aren’t exactly the cat’s pajamas. This cover however is very clean and easy to see. It’s safe to say we were impressed with ourselves when we finished the cover.

I’ll let you all know when the book’s published (ETA: 1st June) but the first post will probably be on my Facebook Page or Twitter.

I’m quite excited for this book as myself and Lara are including our own examples for each of the prompts and are having a lot of fun writing them!

To check out Lara’s blog, click here!

To stalk Lara on Twitter, follow @lararye

As always, keeping you posted!

Editing A Novel: Seven Steps

As some of you know, I am in the midst of my first full-length novel, “Searching for Katherine.” Well, here’s the scoop – I’ve finished writing it!

*runs around thsuccess_next_exit-life-goalse room screaming with excitement*

However, now comes the hard part – EDITING!

*hides in the corner and cries*

 

In my situation, I have to take out the boring narrative and add more interesting parts in. I’m currently on about 30,000 words and have decided to use a seven-step drafting process:

  • Draft 1: Read through, make basic notes and then change.
  • Draft 2: Read all the way through and note small issues.
  • Draft 3: Flow – does the story flow? Is there a clear beginning, middle and end?
  • Draft 4: Dialogue and narrative/description corrections.
  • Draft 5: Plot holes, fact-checking, etc.
  • Draft 6: Does it fit the themes?
  • Draft 7: Grammar check and a final read through.

After your own personal drafting, you then should hand your manuscript over to proof-readers, three’s the magic number (preferably with different ages and reading tastes.) Then you cry as they repeatedly comment on your lack of plot and time lapsing.

I hope this helps, but in all honesty: you will develop your own screening process for your work.

TIP: Don’t edit straight way – you’ve literally just finished writing it. Give yourself a few days grace, write some silly stories and watch loads of movies. Chill out! Then, in a few days, a week or even a few months, come back to your manuscript and start drafting.

I wish you luck with your novels, as I hope you wish me luck with mine!

Description Wheel

image

I saw this handy little word wheel on Facebook, and thought I should share ir with WordPress.
It is certainly an interesting concept – if you can’t think of adjective, you check the wheel. The more sophisticated the piece of writing, the farther out on the wheel you go.

I’m doing some novel writing today, so if it comes in handy I shall let you know!

Discovering Poetry (with examples)

As some of you may have guessed, I have being doing my final assignments for the year this month, and it’s been a bit taxing.

However, being something of a recent discoverer of the joys of both reading and writing poetry, I found out something new about myself.

I’m actually quite good.

Now, I know that sounds vain and biased, but a year ago my poetry was awful – I had no idea what I was doing. This year, I was better, but still didn’t know the rules of poetry.

For one of my assignments, I decided to do a poetry-prose piece (which I am hoping to turn into a book after it’s been marked). I’ve done a poetry assignment before, but I made the mistakes of only using free verse, and writing about things I hadn’t experienced yet.

This time, I did things a little differently, and it’s all thanks to this website that I even knew what I was doing:

https://www.youngwriters.co.uk/glossary-poetry-types

I know it’s a bit simple, but when you aren’t Stephen Fry, poetry laws are confusing. This website helped me understand poetry at it’s simplest terms.

(I would like to point out, I actually own this book, and it’s very useful! S o if you are interested in learning a bit more about poetry, you should check it out!)

I think my new favourite types of poetry are: Haiku and Shape Poems. They are pretty easy to do once you get into them.

An example of a Haiku:

Here is my Haiku.

Doesn’t it look quite lovely?

Yes, I think so too.

An example of Shape poetry:

That

feeling

when you

find something

so brand new and

shining: you can’t quite

believe that it’s real. Or that

it is yours, to keep – forever and

ever. You think that some day soon,

some one with take it from you, in anger

or in greed. But it’s okay, because for now at

least, it is yours. And sometimes, that’s enough.

(taken from my other blog: https://melissaholden.wordpress.com/)

Poetry often seems to be about abstract things, and you have to spend hours dissecting them. I think the form of a poem should be just as important as the words chosen. The poet chose that form for a reason.

If they chose a shape poem, it could be to do with an image: a poem about anger in the shape of a volcano, or a poem about love in the shape of a heart.

Have you experimented with poetry or would just like a chat? You can either comment below, or Tweet me @melissaholden94

Marisota’s Plus Size Guide: “Size wise: Know your body shape”

Marisota’s Plus Size Guide: “Size wise: Know your body shape”

Online store, Marisota have recently uploaded an app called “Size wise: Know your body shape”. 

It’s effectively what Gok Wan used to do on How To Look Good Naked, by making you choose from a line up, where you think you fit.

You are shown a line up, and told to move the slider to where you think you fit.

You are then asked to provide your measurements, so for me it was:

Chest 42 Inches

Waist 35 inches

Hips 45 inches

You then provide an ages bracket 16-20,  the region you live in, so KENT (most likely for research purposes), and “On a scale of one to ten, how confident are you about your body? (10 being the highest)” I said 6/10.

It then tells you whether you guessed correctly, and if not then the percentage smaller or bigger you are.

Then, it provides you with information about your body shape. So according to the website, I am a pear shape, as my hips are wide. it tells you how to dress for your shape, which is great.

But, I’m not a pear shape: I’m an hour glass due to me having broad shoulders, not that the website was to know that.

I think this is a great idea for people with body confidences issues, but please remember, that you are all beautiful, no matter what shape or size you are. You are unique and that alone makes you beautiful. 

Confidence/ Body Language In Retail Situations

As a person who has a) been in the retail business for most of my life and is b) a lover of people watching, I notice the little things. One thing that has come to my attention is the message our body language expresses when we say hello to people.

This has just been triggered by a very good looking guy in his late twenties, walking onto my department at work. He didn’t say hello, he didn’t say anything. He winked and smiled, browsed and then left. Now, I’m not one for rugged handsome men with spiked blonde hair and letter jackets, but that wink – that’s confidence all over, and confidence is very attractive.

Confidence has also been something I’ve been discussing lately, and as a writer I have the advantage of confidence on paper, I can argue my side, research, create strong characters, but in person, if someone yells at me, I want to cry.

So, when people say hello to me at work, dependant on my mood, they usually get a polite “Hello, can I help you?” or “Hi, do you need anything? When I meet new people, especially attractive men, I am either flirtatious or quiet. When I talk to my colleague and friend at work, I am friendly and flirtatious.

I notice a lot of customers, don’t like being asked how they are or if they need any help, and I find it’s best to say hello, I’m here if you need any help, and leave them to it. That, gets me more sales.

People don’t like being pestered in shops, and they show it through their body language. Many people, will turn their backs to you or not look at you if they don’t want to engage in conversation. If they want help, they approach you, albeit nervously sometimes. If I am on the computer, customers usually wait until I finish typing, or walk away from my desk, and then they approach me.

I think the most interesting display of confidence, is confidence in purchases. If customers have chosen a product they really like, they are happy. If they have been strong-armed into buying, they pay begrudgingly.

I have developed a technique in retail, a very simple one. “Which do you prefer?” “What do you want?” “Do you travel often?” (I work in luggage). The trick is to personalise the sale. People liked being asked what they like, they like having things to choose from, they like talking about their personal lives.

Middle aged women, are very confident. Most of them stroll in pick up a suitcase, say thanks, and leave. Some, not many but some, will spend a good 45 minutes comparing four or five cases, walking them around, picking them up, opening them. Then they ask for my help. It’s usually, “you look about my daughters age” which I never am. I was eighteen when I got this job, and was usually thought of in my late twenties and engaged. I used it to my advantage: a woman thought I was about 28, as that’s how old her daughter was, and she was buying her a case for a wedding present.

Earlier in the day, I had been informed that a particular case was our best seller, due to it’s bright colours and leg-like appearance. So I used this, “Me and my husband got matching ones, because my favourite colour is blue, and he likes yellow, but we wanted the same case, so we got two of these large ones instead! And they’re on sale! Where are they going on their honeymoon? (woman answered “Hawaii”) Oh it’s lovely there this time of year, I went to Thailand for mine. Who are they flying with, as you have to be careful with weight…” and so on.

I didn’t lie to her exactly, a friend of mine had just got back from Hawaii, and said she loved it. Airlines are fussy about weights. Most couples do like different things from each other.

Telling people what they want to hear, makes them happy. If they are happy, they buy things.

So, to conclude, confidence in yourself equals confidence in life. Confidence in life means confidence in your work, and confidence in your work means more sales and happy customers.