I feel like this time of the year is when people start dropping behind on their New Years’ Resolutions. (I certainly have.)
A lot of people, me included, made resolutions/goals to write more this year. Luckily for some, you might be doing a great job at sticking to that. Sadly, not everybody is. Therefore, I have created a list of 21 writing prompts for you to use at your leisure. Feel free to link me to anything to write based from these in the comments, and I’ll be happy to read it. 🙂
I’d been umming and ahhing over starting to write this novel for ages. I planned the entire thing on the plane on the way home from my holiday, but when I was sat in front of my computer I procrastinated – heading to Twitter or YouTube, even Instagram and other websites to distract myself from not starting to write this second novel which I have been looking forward to for ages. Continue reading “Just Write It!”→
Sometimes you see posts about people writing 10k a day, and you probably think to yourself, “What?! HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE?!” Well, to be honest, for most people it isn’t. I know I probably could write 10k a day, but I don’t.
I write around 2k if I’m writing stories, and that takes me around an hour or possibly two. Even that might seem a lot to some of you, and I know that because I’ve been told that I write exceedingly fast (somehow, considering how often I procrastinate… actually, that’s probably why I manage to write so fast…). So, I have resolved to put some of my tips into this here post to try and help you all out! J Also, if you can write very fast, then why not let me know your tips in the comment section below? Other people might find them helpful too! 😀 Continue reading “On Improving The Speed of Your Writing (Part 1)”→
When I readMonstrous Regiment by Terry Pratchett for my reading group a few months ago, I noticed something that none of my friends did: Pratchett doesn’t use chapters. Rather, big sections are differed between by a mark on the page, but the next section doesn’t start at the top of the next. You might have seen this in books with chapters: a little asterisk in the middle of the page, indicating moving on… Kind of like this:
When writing, you basically have the complete (well, almost, unless your agent/editor decides to change it, but it is your book…) on how to present it on the inside. So, you can have chapters, or you can choose not to. You might have loads of chapters with only a few lines in between, or choose to not have chapters but have section breakers instead. All of these have their own strengths and weaknesses and a lot of it does depend on the book you’re writing.
Most people assume: books = chapters. But that isn’t always the case. So, when writing your next book, why not think of doing something else, something different? If, for example, you’re writing a fantasy or dystopia, you might find it easier to use section headings instead. In 1984, George Orwell did something similar having a “Part I” and “Part II”, with no chapters in those parts, and used asterisks like Pratchett. Tolkien, however, has long chapters, which are clearly defined as such.
The greats broke the rules, and so can you, so, if it works for you and for your book, why not think about something different in your writing?
Like anything in life (even bananas – apparently, eating 480 of them will kill you), writing has its limit. This limit varies from person to person, and from time to time. For example, on good days I can write around 10000 words. On bad days, I might struggle with 100 or none at all. On mediocre days, I might write a couple of thousand, but I might run out of inspiration or steam faster than I normally would.
Writing is like using a muscle. And it’s great when it’s working well. But if you strain it, it hurts for the next few days: if you sprain it, it can take weeks or even months (I should know, I have a permanent swelling on a 4x sprained ankle). So basically, uh, don’t sprain your writing muscle.
“BUT HOW DO I KNOW?” I hear you cry. “How do I save myself from this terrible pain of not being able to write?” As aforementioned, the limit of the writing muscle varies from person to person. So, for one person writing 1000 words in a day might cause them to burn out and not be able to write the next. For someone else, it might be 5k or even 25k. (Which is pretty good if you’re the latter, because I guess it means you’ll almost never burn out. Uh… touch wood.) So I guess you might want to try seeing just how far you can stretch your limit before it’s terrible the next day.
On the other hand, you can under stretch your writing muscle. Like, if you don’t walk around for one day, and then the next day your joints are stiff and it just takes longer to get moving. This also varies from person to person. Some people can take maybe a few days or a week or so before they have to write again, but for others they have to write every day or the next day it just takes twice as long to get going. Once again, try figuring out your limit.
So, if this whole article is me basically telling you to do something which probably seems useless right now, why am I doing it? Well, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, you never know when you’ll need it. For example, you could be on a great writing spree, but you’re nearing your word limit. What do you do? Stop writing, or carry on? If you carry on, then you’ll probably be burnt out the next day. If you stop, you might desperately want to go back, but that means that you’ll be fired up and raring to go the next time you sit down with your novel. Why do you care why I’m saying this? I’m not saying you have to stop, but I’m giving you an informed decision, so that your novel can continue. It’s horrible to be burnt out and hating what you’re writing when you force yourself to, so unless you have an urgent and unmovable deadline, I’d stop at my limit, personally.
Secondly, if you know what your under-limit is, it gives you a great excuse to get away from social occasions.
In conclusion, it’s not necessary to know your writing limit. You don’t have to know if you’re going to struggle to write the next day (there are ways around this, and I’ll probably discuss helping you get started in another post) but it sure helps. Likewise, if you know there’s a really important scene coming up next and you really, really want to write it, sometimes it’s best knowing that if you leave it, it’ll still be awesome the next day, instead of a forced load of drivel from the over-written mind.
Last year at a young writer’s conference, author Ian Shircore (Conspiracy!) was signing a copy of his book for me. Okay, so I was clearly an enthusiastic member at this conference, and he spoke to me about becoming a writer. The conversation went something (something as in I’m almost completely improvising) like this:
IAN: So you want to be a writer?
IAN: Do you write everyday?
ME: Well. Kinda. I mean, I don’t write fictionally everyday but I write a diary everyday if that counts.
(IAN looks up at me like I’m an idiot or something.)
IAN: Of course that counts! At least you’re writing!
And that, folks, is what today is about: trying to persuade you to write everyday.
I confess: Wednesday was the first day I hadn’t written for the whole day in… months and months. Other times I hadn’t written in my diary, but I’d written an article, or fiction stuff. And, to be honest with you, it felt just plain weird.
Did you know, it takes you doing something for 21 days for it to become a habit? (Well, according to scientists. I’ll post the “scientifically decided” funniest joke in the world at the bottom of this article. See for yourself.) Anyway, the point of that was that you have to keep doing something to, well, keep doing it. Write everyday. Lots of words make a sentence, lots of sentences make a story and lots of stories make a writer.
Somethings to write if you don’t know what to write:
A diary. You can record your feelings, thoughts, what you did, what you saw… even what you wrote, if you wrote anything!
A journal. Kind of like a diary, but you might use prompts and make lists, or record ideas, facts, figures, draw in it etc.
Plan. Kind of counts as writing, I guess? Plan your next best seller (okay even if you don’t write, the planning bit is fun), or your character’s children and/or family tree.
Characterise. Write character sketches, a back story, or a conversation between characters.
Write what you’re actually working on. Y’know, that could work too.
Even if you don’t feel like it (believe me, everyone has those days) get something down on paper. It might – probably – will actually make you feel better. And that’s good all ’round, huh?
Since I posted about this last Monday, I’ve had a host of people asking when they can start, how much they write, when and where do they submit it, etc. There’s now a brand-spanking new page for it, but I thought I’d blog about it too to keep you all updated.
Unfortunately, I’ve never guest blogged on someone else’s blog (although, if you’re asking, yes I’d love to!) so I’m kind of going to wing this one and do it in my own unconventional style.
Basically what I’m looking for is enthusiastic people who love books/writing/ranting about books and writing to join in and get their blog posts published HERE. And you don’t have to have a blog to enter, don’t worry. (Admittedly this kind of sounds like a job interview, but it’s not. Promise.)
If you would like to guest blog, just write a 400-500 word piece on something which would fit in with this blog. Just have a look back through all of the pieces to find out what goes on here if you haven’t been following for long. If you want to post the piece on your own blog, too, then feel free, I’m just trying to help here. 🙂
(aaaaaand if you just write creatively but don’t fancy blogging about anything non-fiction, you can send me a short story/poem! I guess if this generates a big response I might open it up into a regular feature)
Interested? If so, please email me at sprinkledwithwords[at]hotmail[dot]com. Include the following:
Name you want published
Title of piece
Link to anything you want linked, eg blog, twitter, instagram… (you can have more than one)
And please attach the article as a DOCUMENT (either Word or OpenOffice, or something I can open).
Please only send one article at a time. Your articles may be subjected to editing by me (don’t worry I won’t change the meaning or anything) and if you want to include some pictures, feel free! (I like pictures.) If you don’t include a title/cover picture, I’ll just make one for you. And if I get bombarded with requests I might close it for a time, let all of the ones I have queued be posted and then open the guest blogging option once more. 🙂
Guest blogs are going to be posted on THURSDAY, so the first will probably be next week (16/07/15).
I look forward to seeing what you guys will come up with!
Images, be it from pictures, artwork, or an impression you gain from someone (this is the actual definition), can be a great source of inspiration for your writing. Take this one, that I found on Tumblr yesterday and managed to get two stories out of:
It doesn’t seem like much, but when you use the 5 W’s and 1 H, you suddenly get so much out of it. (Those 5 W’s and 1 H are, by the way: Who, What, When, Where, Why and How.)
And, better still, whatever you create from the image you find is completely, utterly and entirely yours to use as you will, with no copyright issues! Yay!
A great place, I’ve found, for picture prompts is Tumblr, but you can also try Pinterest, We Heart It, or just about any photo sharing site. If you’re looking for a specific topic – such as animals – then you can use Google Images (so, “cats in hats” would make for an interesting story or article!), but this can be a bit vague and give you lots of word prompts if you just search “writing prompts”.
Basically, images give you so much. I got two separate stories, with the MC even in different stages of life (ok so in one she was murdered and the other sleeping) from the picture above. Imagine what you can do with two images, or five!
And here’s some pictures from my ‘Prompts’ folder on my laptop for you to enjoy:
Next week: word prompts and a really cool word prompt generator…thing. (Of course I am a writer with a vast array of vocabulary, what are you talking about?!)
So, shall we see how skillfully I can slip in some stupendous, superb (s)alliteration?
Or, let’s not.
But alliteration is a brilliant device to use in writing. But, what is it, first of all – well, according to Google, the definition is:
“The occurrence of the same letter or sound at the beginning of adjacent or closely connected words.”
So, basically, the first letter is the same of each word or words that are close to each other start with the same letter – such as my first sentence of this article.
Alliteration is useful to change tone to your story, especially as it makes it more vivid. Furthermore, it gives a more poetic style and ‘mimics the natural rhythm of the rain’. People read it more fluently, and it also makes a greater impact on the the reader’s memory – this means that they are more likely to remember your story if you have good alliteration! Also, alliteration gives dramatic effect – so, for example, if there is a huge action scene, or a scene where your character meets your true love, the alliteration makes the reader feel more for the story and the characters; exactly what you want.
However, you can’t over use alliteration. It gets too repetitive, and it makes the reader almost choke on the words. The readers are likely to stop reading, because they wouldn’t be able to get the words out in their head, either, so they won’t be able to do it if they’re reading aloud especially – exactly what you don’t want.
But you know something that’s perfect for alliteration?
Titles are superb for alliteration. For example, one of the best known classics is Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice – which uses two ‘p’s – alliteration. Another one is John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men – two ‘m’s. It helps the reader remember them, and it can be shortened easily, without hopefully making it look bad – for example, Pride and Prejudice can become P&P (…although that can also stand for post and packaging…).
So yeah, I hope I reminded you about the awesomeness of alliteration. Challenge of the week: put some into your writing!
Any topics wanted for next time? Questions, tips? Shoot! 🙂