So you wanna be a writer? Five reasons why you shouldn’t.

So, you wanna be a writer? This post is five reasons why you shouldn’t even attempt it.

Wait…what…?

Have you ever told someone you want to write, or that you’re writing a book and they’ve looked at you with that blank stare? Or, probably even worse, they just laugh at you and say “why on earth would you want to do that?” Or, “you can’t do that you didn’t do very well at school.” Or, “that’s a stupid idea, you have to have an innate ability to write.”

It kind of sucks, doesn’t it?

Well, here’s five reasons why they’re right.

Not really, I’m not that kind of person.

Here’s five reasons why you should tell them to go f**k themselves and write anyway 🙂

This post, if you hadn’t already noticed, will have some swearing in it. Sorry, not sorry 🙂

One – Don’t bother writing if you haven’t got an innate talent for it.

What a load of b*ll*$cks.

Whilst it’s true that some people have an innate ability when it comes to writing, anyone can learn to write.

Writing is a craft. And like all crafts, you need to learn and master the basics. Then you move on to the more complicated stuff. You have to put the legwork in. If you do, then you WILL be able to write.

That’s not to say you won’t make mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes, even six-figure authors.

Make mistakes, acknowledge those mistakes, learn from them and move on.

Two – Everyone wants to write a book

Yeah, maybe not everyone wants to write a book but sure, a fair few people do harbour the ambition.

But here’s the thing, there’s a big difference between TALKING about writing a book and ACTUALLY writing it.

And, so what if everyone does want to write a book? That doesn’t stop you writing your book, does it? Your experience of life is different from everybody else, therefore your book is going to be different because it’s written by YOU.

Only YOU can write YOUR book.

What everyone else thinks or does should have no bearing on what you do. If you want to write a book, write a f**king book!

Three – No one will want to read what you write

Excuse me?

Like, does this point even need a response.

People will want to read what you write. You just have to find YOUR people. The people who will love your work.

Finding an audience can be hard, but that audience IS out there. You just need to find them!

Someone out there WILL appreciate what you write.

Four – Your grammar sucks

Whilst grammar is important, it’s not the be-all and end-all of writing.

I have read many stories where the grammar has been perfect but this doesn’t necessarily translate into a good story.

In my opinion, the story is the most important thing, NOT grammar.

That’s not to say you should ignore good grammar. Try and brush up on your grammar skills, take a course, try and teach yourself about grammar.

But, if all else fails, there are editors out there!

DO NOT let your fear of grammar stop you from writing.

Five – There are too many people writing books and publishers aren’t interested anymore.

Whilst it may be true that it’s hard to get noticed, let alone published, by a traditional publisher, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t write.

Better to try and fail than never try at all.

Besides, it kind of depends on your reasons for writing. Not everyone who writes wants to get published.

And if you do, that’s cool too. Try and get it trad published if you want. It’s a long hard road, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try it, does it?

Also, consider Indie publishing.

There’s still a stigma to Indie publishing but it’s not as bad as it once was. There are some seriously good Indie published writers out there (Mark Dawson, I’m looking at you!). And these writers can make some serious money. Not that money has to be your motivation but it is good to know that it is possible to make a living from your work.

The thing is, Traditionally published or Indie published, is still published and both are hard work, whichever way you look at it.

So, that’s the end of my TED talk. Don’t let what other people say put you off writing. Yes, it’s hard, yes, it can be frustrating but is it worth it?

Abso -bloody-lutely!

What crappy things have been said to you about writing? What puts you off putting pen to paper?

 

 

 

 

So, you want to be a writer? Five things to avoid in your plot.

I do like my “Five Things” posts, don’t I?

Well, this one is focussing on five things to avoid in your plot. No shit Sherlock, I hear you say, it’s literally the title of the article 🙂

So, what are we waiting for? Let’s crack on!

One – Delaying the introduction of the main quest in your story.

This can make your story boring. And it can put readers off if they begin to read and they haven’t got a sense of what’s in store for them or what the book is about.

To avoid this, use a plot outline and make sure you introduce the quest by the end of the first chapter. Don’t fill that first chapter with lots of character introductions and description.

Sometimes, I like to get the quest in the reader’s mind right at the beginning, in the opening line. I love to open a book with a bang.

Two – The conflict and obstacles aren’t escalated.

To make a story interesting, the hero has to face greater and greater challenges and obstacles. What’s the point to a story where the hero overcomes everything thrown at him too easily?

There has to be an increase in the difficulty as the plot develops. When you’re plotting, start off with little challenges in the beginning and then start to develop them. For example, the first challenge could be finding a key, the second challenge could be to use that key in a door that’s guarded by a big three-headed dog. Then, as the story progresses you can have the hero momentarily hurt as he defeats the bad guy’s henchmen. The hero then rises up, and, after a huge battle, he overcomes the big villain.

Three – Avoid too much unnecessary stuff.

Don’t cram your story full of things that don’t matter and won’t move the story on.

Refine your plot and make sure everything has a purpose.

Don’t give the hero a magic artefact if he’s not going to use it. Don’t add a character if they’re not part of the plot. Get rid of all unnecessary crap. Everything should have a reason.

Why?

Because unnecessary crap will only bore and confuse the reader.

Four – Deus ex Machina.

Deus ex Machina means God from the machine and is something that has its origins in ancient Greek theatre. It’s a plot device where an unsolvable problem is suddenly solved by the help of God.

This worked in Greek theatre. It doesn’t work now.

Avoid. Avoid. Avoid.

If you’ve written yourself into a corner don’t use Deus ex Machina to get yourself out of it. It will turn readers off. If you find yourself in this situation, sorry, but you need to rethink that plot and write it again.

Five – Inconsistency.

Your writing – from writing style, tone, characterisation etc. – must stay consistent throughout the novel. There is nothing more off-putting than reading a story where someone changes their character inexplicably. Or their eyes change colour. Or the way they speak changes.

Keep it consistent.

I find plotting on paper helps me to keep inconsistencies to a minimum. As for character and world-building, I suggest putting together a “bible” of character sheets. I have these for each character where I write on their eye colour, for example or a few words that they like to use a lot. It’s a handy reference for when I forget. And, I do. Especially as I’m getting older!

Ohh, today’s post was very naggy wasn’t it? I’m sorry, it’s probably to do with the full moon or something 🙂

There are other things that you could add to a list of things to avoid in your story writing but I thought five items was probably enough for this post.

So, the question is. do you agree with what I’ve put on the list and is there anything you would add?

 

 

So, you want to be a writer? Five things you need to be a writer.

So, you want to be a writer?

Well, you can if you put your mind to it and put in the hard work. However, there are certain things you need to be or do, to be a writer.

One – You need to put in the time. 

Many of us dream about writing, but, to be an actual writer you need to WRITE.

Don’t just talk about it. WRITE.

Make time in your schedule. I know it’s hard. We’re all super busy people BUT you must set aside time to write. Work out a time and/ or, a number of words you want to write in a day or a week and STICK TO IT!

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I know I’m being naggy, but you will thank me in the end.

500 words a day for four days a week is 2000 words. 2000 words over forty weeks is 80,000 words. And that my friends is a novel!

Two – Don’t be afraid of a blank page.

Write! If that blank page scares the hell out of you, write on it anyway. Sometimes, we haven’t got a clue about what we want to write. Write anyway. Often, once we start writing – even if it’s complete drivel – ideas and words begin to flow.

It doesn’t matter if it’s rubbish. You can’t edit a blank page. Get your head down and get writing!

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Three – Don’t be scared of hard work.

I hate to tell you but, this writing game is hard. I think it was Hemingway who said, ‘There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.’

It’s true.

Writing is heavy shit. It’s hard and it takes time. Time to write and time to learn your craft.

It really pisses me off when I watch movies and they have a writer who sits there tapping away on the keyboard and they’ve produced a full-blown novel in about half an hour, and in one sitting. What a lot of tosh.

Or what about the debut novelist who’s overnight success actually took ten years to develop?

If you don’t want to put in the hard work, don’t bother being a writer. It ain’t gonna happen.

Four – Don’t be afraid to fail.

Failure means you’re learning and you’re growing. That shit, my friend, is important. It will make you a better writer. It doesn’t matter how many times you fail, just make sure every time you fall you get back up and straighten your crown.

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And anyway, is it really a fail?

Put what’s happening to you into perspective.

So, your new novel has just been rejected by another agent. Allow yourself time to be sad, have a drink, a walk or whatever you need to feel better, but don’t wallow in it. There are other agents.

I could bore you with tales of how many times very popular and successful authors were rejected but I won’t. Google it.

Failure is par for the course. Suck it up.

It’s not the end of the world.

Five – You need to be open to criticism but have faith in yourself.

This is a tricky line to walk. You have to develop the skill of being open to criticism but also have faith in yourself and your own writing.

This is not easy.

In fact, this is very hard shit.

You will get there but it will take time.

It’s important to be open to suggestions and criticism but be mindful that not every suggestion is going to be right. Sometimes, you need to rely on your own judgement.

This is a very hard skill to master. Only time and experience will develop this skill. And, even then, you can get it wrong. This is okay because mistakes happen. Mistakes are part of life.

Will it get any easier?

Nah.

But you will become more confident the more you write.

And please, please, please, for the love of God, don’t be one of those authors who go after those who leave bad reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. I’ve seen some really bad behaviour from authors who have commented on bad reviews calling people names and generally being a sucky person. That shit isn’t cool.

Grow a thicker skin and suck it up. Bad reviews are not only inevitable but also necessary to grow. You’re not going to be everybody’s cup of tea and that’s okay 🙂

Okay, nag over!

What do you think of these points?

Would you add anything to the list?

 

 

New Year – New You – New Writing Goals!! Five tips to help you on your way!

So, Christmas has been and gone and now it’s time to start thinking about the new year and your plans for writing.

God, the title I’ve picked for this article is far too happy and jolly. Especially when I look out the window and I see the cold, miserable weather and the fact that I’ve given up alcohol.

Don’t worry, it won’t last. Dry January for me lasts about a day. Hoorah!

But I’m a complete lightweight so, don’t be like me. Be that person who makes goals and sticks to them.

Why should we listen to anything you say, Angela, if you can’t even last for a day without alcohol, I hear you say?

Because you are stronger than me.

I am weak.

And I do it so you don’t have to. I’m good like that, I’ll take one for the team 🙂

So, here’s a list of five things that you are going to do (and I should be doing) to stay ahead of this writing game (but I won’t because I suck at this adulting malarkey :)).

One – Set realistic goals.

Set a target amount of words to write each day or week and stick to it. And write it down!

Keep it realistic though.

Mark Dawson writes three-thousand words a day.

I salute him!

Me, I’m lucky if I get five-hundred down, but that’s okay. Know what you can do comfortably and stick to it.

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Two – Keep positive.

I may not be at the top of my game at this quite depressing time of the year. I may also have failed on the dry January thing. That’s okay.

There’s always next year.

See, I’m a very positive person.

You can be too.

When you’re setting your goals, remember to be strong about it and write it down using the words “I will” instead of words like “I might” or “I’ll try.”

You can get those words down, so do it!

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Three – Be SMART

Use the SMART template to set out your goals. Set:

Specific

Measurable goals that are

Attainable

Relevant and

Time-bound.

Check out more about the SMART system of setting out goals here.

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Four – Ask yourself why you are writing.

If you know why you are writing you’re more likely to do it.

I write because I have to. My brain needs it, so, primarily I write for myself. I write to give myself a voice when I feel my voice gets lost in all the background noise. I write to work through things that have happened or are going to happen, to set things straight in my brain. I also explore things in my writing that fascinate, horrify or scare me (the subject of death fits into all three of those categories. And, I do like to write about death, in some way, shape or form in most things I write. I can’t help it. I’m weird).

I need writing like the air I breathe.

So I write.

Five – Keep your list of writing goals visible.

That list of goals ain’t going to do anything if it’s left in a cupboard to rot like a corpse. That list ain’t Dracula, it needs daylight to succeed. It also needs you to look at it and take notice!

What other things would you add to this list?

What are your writing goals for this year?

And are you going to stick to it?

 

FURTHER READING:

https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/smart-goals.ht

 

 

 

So, You Want to be a writer? Six tips to get you on your way.

So, you want to be a writer?

Here are six tips to help you on your way!

  1. Read. A lot!! I love reading so this isn’t a major issue for me. Reading will make you a better writer. You need to learn somewhere, right? So why not learn from those who came before you? It’s amazing what you can get from other writers. You’ll pick up writing techniques, grammar tips and vocabulary as you go. Learning by osmosis – what’s not to love? And, reading can mean comic books, newspapers, and online articles (like this one :)) so there’s no excuse!! Except, if you have no time, but everyone can make five minutes a day to read, can’t they?

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  2. Get yourself a notebook and a pen, go somewhere quiet and write! You don’t need any expensive gadgets to start. Just time, inspiration, and a notebook and pen (there are some gorgeous notebooks out there. And, have you seen some of the beautiful pens you can buy? My personal faves are the coloured biros by Bic, especially the purple ones). It doesn’t even matter if you think it’s bad. Write anyway!

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  3. Practice. And Practice. And practice… Once you begin writing, keep going. The only way to get better at anything is practice. Maybe take a writing course to hone your skills. Writing courses come in many shapes and sizes. Some are free and some are run by fabulous, well-established writers (Neil Gaiman, I’m looking at you!).
  4. Get feedback. This gives you an outsider’s perspective of your writing. People can tell you where your weak points are, but also when you’re doing something right. You could join a local writing group for this. I did and it improved my writing considerably.

    “Remember, you’re not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. And that’s okay!”

  5. Get a thick skin. You’re not always going to write fabulous prose. Sometimes your work will be utter crap. Don’t be afraid to face that fact. And even when your work is absolutely amazing and fabulous, people will tear it apart and make you feel like dirt. Unfortunately, this is something we, as writers, have to live with. Not everyone is going to love what you write and you need to learn to live with that. Write anyway! Remember, you’re not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. And that’s okay!
  6. Write! Make sure you write, even if it’s just a few words every day. Don’t just talk about it. Write! Write your first draft even if it’s utter rubbish. Don’t worry, everyone’s first draft is crap (I mean, have you read my first draft of Death’s Apprentice, written here on my blog as I go? Try reading it, you’ll see what I mean :)). But as they say, you can’t edit a blank page! You can edit your writing though. And edit. And edit. Rewrites will make your writing shine!

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As Charles Buckowski said:

“There is no losing in writing, it will make your toes laugh as you sleep, it will make you stride like a tiger, it will fire the eye and put you face to face with death. You will die a fighter, you will be honored in hell. The luck of the word. Go with it.”

 

My Six Tips for Handling Rejection

In life, there are times we all get rejected, whether it’s by friends or lovers, but as a writer, rejection takes on a whole new level of pain. This is equally true if you run a handmade business too. So, how do you handle it?

To be fair, this is one thing that I’ve always been quite good at. I have a very thick skin and my happiness doesn’t generally tend to rely on others. Having said that, there are times when rejection and bad reviews get to me. So, how do you deal with it and move on?

  1. Okay, so your book has been rejected. It’s okay to feel shitty for a bit. Rejection sucks. Allow yourself time to process it. Allow yourself time to feel crap, BUT don’t stay there wallowing in that crappy feeling. What I’m saying is, it’s okay to feel bad but don’t unpack and live there for a great length of time.
  2. Do something to make yourself feel better. What floats your boat? Do that. Feel like a walk? Do it. Wanna dance naked in the rain? Do it (but try not to get arrested). Want a piece of chocolate cake? Do it. Just don’t use it as an excuse to eat the whole goddamn cake because that ain’t gonna be good for ya! Feel the pain. Accept it. Find something to distract yourself and hopefully you’ll start to feel a bit better.
  3. Tell someone about it. This is where writing groups are fab! Fellow writers are amazing for this type of thing, both in real-life groups and those on Facebook. The best people are those that have been there and know how you’re feeling, but won’t allow you to feel sorry for yourself for too long.
  4. Just because your work was rejected doesn’t mean it sucks. I mean, the rejection sucks, but it doesn’t necessarily follow that the writing is bad. Again, use those writer friends and ask them to read through your stuff (but make sure you return the favour :)) Use it as an opportunity to look critically at your work. And remember, rejection of your work ISN’T a rejection of you as a person. It might just be that your writing wasn’t right for the person you sent it to.
  5. Maybe use it as an opportunity to put that piece of work aside and start something fresh. Leave your manuscript for a bit, start something new, then come back to it with fresh eyes. Is there anything that stands out now you’re looking at it again? Is it formatted correctly? Have you sent it to the right agent/ publisher? Can you write a better covering letter?
  6. Don’t allow rejections to control your future. Remember, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series was rejected by no less than twelve publishers! TWELVE! Think about that when you feel like giving up. Rejection isn’t about how many times you get rejected, it’s about what happens next. It’s about resilience. It’s about getting back up again, dusting yourself off and getting out there again.

Don’t let rejection define you. Use it as a tool to improve and keep pushing yourself forward. Keep doing your own thing.

What would you add to the list? How do you handle rejection?

 

Further Reading:

https://www.inc.com/amy-morin/5-ways-mentally-strong-people-deal-with-rejection.html