The Problem of Finishing What I Start

The Problem of Finishing What I Start

Why should you worry about long-term goals when you have short-term goals that are more urgent?

For the same reason riders on the Olympic Cross Country or show jumping courses look one or two jumps ahead instead of at the jump right in front of them.

And for the same reason water skiers look where they are going instead of where they are.

Focusing on immediate goals is good, but if there is no long term goal out there, it’s very easy to lose your way or get bogged down in the details of immediate concerns. Read the full article.

Take Charge of Your Ideas, Part II: Too Many Ideas

Take Charge of Your Ideas, Part II: Too Many Ideas

In Part I, we discussed an easy way to fill the gaps in your idea file by mining your own life experiences. But what about the opposite problem—too many ideas?

It’s easy to be distracted by everything that shines. Pretty soon, your whole story has run down a bunny trail and you’re not even sure anymore what it is you’re writing—or if you should be writing it at all! Whether you’re a plotter or a pantser, the only tool you need to keep on track is the North Star. Read the full article.

Take Charge of Your Story Ideas, Part I: Not Enough Ideas

Take Charge of Your Story Ideas, Part I: Not Enough Ideas

by Danielle Hanna

Sometimes your ideas run fast and furious.

Sometimes they slow to a crawl. But if you’re going to finish a novel—and particularly if you’re ever going to be a prolific author—learning to manage the flow of ideas is essential.

In Part I of this two-part post, we’ll talk about what to do when you’re out of story ideas. Read the full article.

Looking for a Hero

Looking for a Hero

I’ve been thinking about characters a lot lately. I suppose part of that is because of the time spent with two recent blog posts authored or co-authored with Danielle Hanna, my brain storming partner (see Skin Diving with Characters and 6 Steps to Discovering Characters).

Part of it is due to personal attempts to utilize Danielle’s skin diving technique and comparing it to my usual method, which includes interviews with characters and putting them into stressful or high-tension situations and letting them react. Read the full article.

Two Series About Writing Single-Sentence Summaries

Two Series About Writing Single-Sentence Summaries

I’m working on single-sentences summaries today. It’s an assignment for a writing class I’m taking through The Write Practice.

Writing single-sentence summaries is one of my favorite things to do outside of writing the story itself. I’m not sure why because it’s essentially boiling a 100,000 word story down to 25 words or less. It sounds like a lot of work, but it really is a great way to get a firmer grasp on what my stories are all about.

A single-sentence summary is also a great way to tell people what my story is about without boring them to tears! Read the full article.

6 Steps to Discovering Characters

6 Steps to Discovering Characters

There are two basic kinds of stories under which all the genres exist. Plot driven stories and character driven stories.

It stands to reason that there are also two basic types of writers. Those for whom plot is king and those for whom character is king.

Every story and every writer fits somewhere within those two basic categories.

The way we begin the Process of Novel often favors one of those two basic categories. Most of the time, I begin with a plot idea. What if this or that thing happened?

My brainstorming partner, Danielle Hanna, on the other hand, usually begins with a character. Who is this character and what is happening to him or her? Read the full article.

5 Favorite Non-Writing Activities

5 Favorite Non-Writing Activities

No one can devote one hundred percent of their time to their primary work. For one thing, everyone needs to eat and sleep. You may be able to eat and work—I certainly can—but sleeping and working? That doesn’t work very well.

It’s also not advisable to work so much that you have no time for other activities. The human mind and body needs down time to recharge and revitalize. Just like recharging the battery in your car or Smartphone.

Writers are no exception to this rule.

Yours truly is absolutely no exception!

So following are five favorite non writing outdoor activities that help me unwind, whether from a long day of writing or drawing. Arranged in no particular order! Read the full article.

The Benefits of Writing Every Day (And How to Develop the Habit)

The Benefits of Writing Every Day (And How to Develop the Habit)

I process life and make decisions through writing. It’s a habit that began many, many years ago.

I’ve been keeping a catch all writing journal since December 1, 1989. Some entries go back to my teen years—suffice it to say a long time ago. These personal journals were something of a cross between a diary and a prayer journal. I now keep both a personal journal and a prayer journal.

In 2008, I created and began keeping a scene journal, where I write rough drafts of scenes. Every random thought, story idea, plot question, description or snatch of dialogue that has ever been written down has most likely been written first in that journal. Most of them are unattached to stories, but were worthy of being recorded.

Some of them are attached to stories, but are alternative ideas for current plot threads. Sort of ‘what if I were to do this instead of that?’ ideas. Read the full article.

How I Discovered Take Away Value

How I Discovered Take Away Value

Also known as The Big Picture or message, take away value is the overarching theme of your novel. All novels have it, whether intended or not.

But how do you uncover the take away value for your novel? Sometimes, it’s not as easy as it seems like it should be.

I admit it.

I’m not always the sharpest knife in the drawer.

What’s worse, it often takes repeated trips to the whet stone to sharpen me up.

I have never been a ‘big picture’ sort of person. Details are where my interest lies—in art and in writing. But seeing the big picture is also important. Even if you have to dig to find it. Read the full article.

How To Use a Spreadsheet To Plan Daily Activities

How To Use a Spreadsheet To Plan Daily Activities

Last week, Randy Ingermanson told us all about the need for white space in the writer’s life. I hope you enjoyed that article.

You may have been left wondering how you should incorporate a little bit of that white space and still be sure to get to the important things each day? What’s the best way to organize use of time.

Believe or not, a spreadsheet may be the single most effective weapon at your disposal.

[Tweet “Is a simple spreadsheet the answer to better #writing time management?”]

I can hear the groans already! “A spread sheet? How lame is that?”

Let me show you how I used a spreadsheet to order my days. Then, if you don’t like it, you’re welcome to complain all you like! Read the full article.