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This week’s top writing advice from around the web for Oct. 17
I subscribe to dozens of writing advice sites and new advice articles come into my news reader at a steady pace. You can see some of my favorites at my Writing Advice Sites resource page.
Here are the best writing advice posts from this previous week. Occasionally I include an RSS feed. To subscribe to an RSS feed, add the feed URL to your RSS reader app. The most popular is Feedly, which is the one that I use. It has a website and mobile apps, and it keeps track of which articles you’ve read, synched across all your devices.
This week, I’ve decided to divide the list into three categories.
The first, for the beginning writer, is about getting the writing process down. Finding time to write, discovering your own writing rituals, learning how to overcome your inner critics, fighting writer’s block, and how to finish what you start. Experienced writers sometimes hit these speedbumps as well, but they can kill a career for a new writer before it even starts.
Second, for the writer who’s already started getting the hang of the mechanics of getting the words down on paper, is improving the quality of the writing. Of course, you can’t improve writing if you don’t have any to improve, so the previous step is critical. But once you’re getting words down, you can start asking yourself if they’re the right words, or maybe you can find better words. And you can even start thinking about sentences, paragraphs, scenes, chapters, plots, character arcs — all that stuff that goes into writing readable work. And even experienced writers probably have areas where they can improve, or new things to learn.
Finally, for the writer who’s finished stories or books that are ready for the public, there’s the question of finding your publishing platform, producing the actual book, finding copyeditors and cover artists, marketing, and advertising. For beginning writers these are mostly theoretical questions, but for experienced writers, they are critical for success. And the answers keep changing as the industry changes, so staying on top of things is critical.
So here we go.
Productivity, mood management, and battling the demons inside
Think the key to creativity is 100% total focus and hard work? Think again. There’s evidence that you can “unfocus” as means of promoting creativity. Scott Myers is the editor of Go Into The Story. For more advice like this, follow Scott Myers on Twitter at @GoIntoTheStory and on Facebook at Go Into The Story. Go Into The Story is the official blog of the screenwriting community The Black List and was just ranked as one of the year’s best screenwriting websites by Writer’s Digest.
4 Writing Exercises You’ll Want to Try by Lucie Ataya
In this guest post for Kiingo, Lucie Ataya offers four different exercises that she herself has tried that help you approach writing from a different angle. Ataya is the author of a dystopian thriller and the founder of The Indie Writers Collective, an initiative dedicated to promoting indie authors and their work. Kiingo is a writing and storytelling school with online courses, how-to articles, and the book The Structure of Story. Follow them on their RSS feed (direct Feedly signup link), on Twitter here, on Facebook here, or support them on Patreon.
Why You Should Tackle that Ambitious Dream Project Now by Kelsey Allagood
In this guest post for Writer Unboxed, fantasy writer Kelsey Allagood says that the only way to discover your limits is to push at them. For more advice like this, follow Allagood on Twitter at @KelseyAllagood. Her website is KelseyAllagood.com. And Writer Unboxed is a fantastic writing advice site, with lots of helpful articles from some of the biggest names in the field. Follow them on RSS (direct Feedly signup link) and on Twitter.
Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Collecting Advice (but Never Writing) by Robert Lee Brewer
The Writer’s Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so this series helps identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week’s mistake is to collect writing advice at the expense of actually writing. Robert Lee Brewer is senior editor of Writers Digest. For more advice like this follow Writer’s Digest via their RSS feed (direct Feedly signup link), on Twitter at @WritersDigest and on Facebook at @writersdigest.
The Benefits of Having a Book Coach for Writers by Mark Spencer
What is a book coach? How could they help authors? In this guest post for Writer’s Digest, award-winning author and writing instructor Mark Spencer answers these questions and more in this post about the benefits of having a book coach for writers.
Some more articles this week with motivational advice:
- Five Tips for Finding the Kind Genius Writer in Your Mad Genius Writer by Brian Leung
- Writing and the Creative Life: The incurable disease of writing by Scott Myers
- Spiders, Snakes, Public Speaking, and Not Querying Agents by Anne Brown
- Discover Your Writing Strengths (and Weaknesses) by Lynette M. Burrows
- How Opening Ourselves to Other People Can Make Us Better Writers by Peri Chickering
- Finding Work-Life Balance as a Full-Time Author by Helena Hunting
- Work and Life Balance by C. Hope Clark
- 11 Tips For Critiquing Other Writers by Writer’s Relief Staff
- Why Writing and Discipline Make a Good Team by Lucie Ataya
- I Found My Literary Community by Writing Book Reviews by Erin Flanagan
- When You’re the Passive Protagonist of Your Own Writing Life by Kathleen McCleary
- Five Ways to Know You Are Doing Good Work on Each Writing Session by John W. Howell
- 12 Spooky Articles to Tackle Writing Fears by Jeanette the Writer
- Creating Space to Ponder Your Bliss and Relying on Your Inner Compass to Guide Your Writing by Terry Helwig
The art and craft of writing
The kind of research you do can make or break your story’s authenticity. In this guest post for Writer’s Digest, author Blake Sanz offers four tips on research for your novels and stories beyond getting the facts right. Blake Sanz’s The Boundaries of Their Dwelling won the 2021 Iowa Short Fiction Award, selected by Brandon Taylor. Recent stories from the collection are available in Joyland, American Short Fiction, and Hypertext. He teaches writing at the University of Denver. Follow him on Twitter @BlakeSanz. For more advice like this follow Writer’s Digest via their RSS feed (direct Feedly signup link), on Twitter at @WritersDigest and on Facebook at @writersdigest.
What is narrative distance? by Louise Harnby
In this through overview, editor Louise Harnby explains what narrative distance is and why fiction editors and authors need to pay attention to it. Harnby is a line editor, copyeditor and proofreader who specializes in working with crime, mystery, suspense and thriller writers. She is a member of the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading, a member of ACES, a partner member of The Alliance of Independent Authors, and co-hosts The Editing Podcast. For more advice like this, subscribe to her site, LouiseHarnbyProofreader.com via its RSS feed (direct Feedly signup link).
Character Development Tools: Questionnaire and Biography by Scott Myers
Links to more than 20 online resources to help you delve into any character’s personal history and personality, from Scott Myers, the editor of Go Into The Story. For more advice like this, follow Scott Myers on Twitter at @GoIntoTheStory and on Facebook at Go Into The Story. Go Into The Story is the official blog of the screenwriting community The Black List and was just ranked as one of the year’s best screenwriting websites by Writer’s Digest.
5 Things I Learned About Writing From Watching Soap Operas by Alverne Ball
Lessons in writing can come from various forms of art or entertainment. In this guest post for Writer’s Digest, crime fiction author Alverne Ball shares five things he learned about writing from watching soap operas. You can visit him online at AlverneDBall.com. For more advice like this follow Writer’s Digest via their RSS feed (direct Feedly signup link), on Twitter at @WritersDigest and on Facebook at @writersdigest.
Six Magic Powers That Writers Had to Ignore by Oren Ashkenazi
Unused spells can distract the audience during important conflicts, says Oren Ashkenazi, a speculative fiction manuscript editor at Mythcreants, my all-time favorite writing advice site for fantasy and science fiction. Reading this site, and listening to the Mythcreants podcast, is like getting a master’s in writing science fiction and fantasy. Get their RSS feed here (direct Feedly signup link) or follow them on Twitter @Mythcreants and on Facebook at @mythcreants.
Why No One Likes Your Character And What To Do About It by Brenda Wilson
In this guest post for Kiingo, YA author Brenda Wilson says that if you want to keep your reader engaged, they need to be somehow connected to your main character — and offers advice for how to do it. For more advice like this, follow Wilson on Instagram at @writingispun. Kiingo is a writing and storytelling school with online courses, how-to articles, and the book The Structure of Story. Follow them on their RSS feed (direct Feedly signup link), on Twitter here, on Facebook here, or support them on Patreon.
Character Types: The Extrovert by Joan Hall
This is the first in a series of posts about character types. The other posts are The Attention Seeker, The “I Can Top That” Person, The Know it All, and The Introvert. Joan Hall is a mystery and romantic suspense author. Learn more on her website, JoanHall.net or follow her on Twitter at @JoanHallWrites or on Facebook at @joanhallwrites. For more advice like this, follow the Story Empire Blog on Facebook at @StoryEmpire5 or on Twitter at @StoryEmpire or get their RSS feed here (direct Feedly signup link).
How to Create a Mysterious Atmosphere by Chris Winkle
Unless you use restraint with fantastical elements, you’ll lose the aura of mystery, says Chris Winkle, the founder and editor-in-chief of Mythcreants. Get their RSS feed here (direct Feedly signup link) or follow them on Twitter @Mythcreants and on Facebook at @mythcreants.
Earlier this year, K. M. Weiland wrote a series of articles about Archetypal Character Arcs which quickly became one of my most referred-to articles of the year. Now she’s doing a new series, about the villains that go along with each of those arcs. Again, I’m betting I’m going to be coming back to these posts over and over. Weiland is one of my favorite writing advice people, and the award-winning author of acclaimed writing guides such as Structuring Your Novel and Creating Character Arcs. If you want more advice like this, subscribe to her blog, Helping Writers Become Authors, via its RSS feed (direct Feedly signup link). You can also follow her on Twitter @KMWeiland and on Facebook @kmweiland.author.
How Far is Too Far? How Narrative Distance Affects Telling by Janice Hardy
The farther away you get from the reader, the riskier it is you’ll slip up and start telling instead of showing, says fantasy author Janice Hardy. Hardy has several must-have writing guides up on Amazon and you can follow her on Twitter @Janice_Hardy. Follow Janice Hardy’s Fiction University via RSS feed here (direct Feedly signup link), or follow her on Facebook at @JaniceHardysFictionUniversity.
- Your Protagonist’s Worst Nightmare by Niki Kantzios
- Applying Disney’s 12 Principes of Animation to Writing by Winnie Griggs
- Writing (Un)Awkward Romantic Scenes by Sara Butler Zalesky
- 8 Scintillating Rules for Writing Romances by Dana Isaacson
- Character Point of View: Definition and Examples by Dave Chesson
- The Importance of Commas, Meter, and Reading Aloud for the Fiction Writer by Dario Ciriello
- How Do I Make My Story’s Elemental Powers Feel Natural? by Chris Winkle
- 7 Ways to Create an Empathetic Antagonist by Sarah Tinsley
- Story Need More Conflict? Look to Your Setting by Angela Ackerman
- 3 Tips for Fast Drafting Your Novel In Record Time by Jessica Brody
- How to Tell the Future by R. W. Greene
- Making Anti-Heroes Relatable: Dear Evan Hansen, You Suck! by Jo’Siah Shan
- 13 Tips for Writing a Halloween Story by Rayne Hall
The business side of writing
Chapter Titles Are a Great Marketing Tool in the Age of E-Books by Anne R. Allen
Chapter titles are making a big comeback in the age of the e-book because of the “Look Inside” function on a book’s buy page at most online retailers, says publishing expert Anne Allen. This is where you make or break your sale. Allen started her career at Bantam and knows her way around the publishing industry. Allen also writes mysteries and how-to books about writing. For more advice like this, follow her on Twitter at @annerallen, on Facebook at @annerallenauthor, or subscribe to her blog’s RSS feed (direct Feedly link).
Four Lessons I Learned From Giving My Novel Away by J.U. Scribe
In this guest post for A Writer’s Path, J.U. Scribe talks about his month-long promotion for his recent book, what he did to promote the give-away, and how to get to the number-one stop in his Amazon category. Scribe is the author of Before the Legend and enjoys outlets such as blogging, drawing, painting, and graphic design. For more advice like this, subscribe to A Writer’s Path on RSS (direct Feedly signup link), on Twitter at @TheRyanLanz and on Facebook at @AWritersPath.
Reaching the Bestseller List: A Guide for Self-Published Authors by Clayton Noblit
Clayton Noblit breaks down the mystery behind the most popular bestseller lists, showing you how each one works and how authors can qualify for inclusion. Noblit is a marketing manager at Written Word Media, a book marketing company. I am a big fan of this site. If you are too, you can subscribe to their RSS feed (direct Feedly signup link). And don’t miss the article I refer people to the most, The Evolution of an Author: How to Go from Zero to $100k from your Writing, which is based on a survey of more than 1,000 authors.
5 Free Book Marketing Strategies You Should Revisit Quarterly by Penny Sansevieri
It’s easy to get caught up in the “big stuff” you need to do to market your book, but there are a lot of great and free book marketing strategies that can move the needle, too. Penny Sansevieri is the CEO and founder of Author Marketing Experts, an adjunct professor at NYU, and a best-selling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert. Follow her on Twitter at @Bookgal and on Facebook at @therealbookgal. Her book, How to Sell Books by the Truckload on Amazon, has just been updated for 2021 and is in Kindle Unlimited.
Some more articles this week with business advice:
- 40+ Awesome Book Memes for Authors and Readers by Jason Hamilton
- Want to Write Book Reviews? Some Helpful Questions to Get You Started by Erin Flanagan
- Sensitivity Reading as a Business by Kathy L. Brown
- 7 Point Plan To Help You Sell Your New Book by Derek Haines
- A Primer on the New York Times Bestseller List by Sarah Rexford
- Grow Your Email List (and Your Influence) by Stephanie BwaBwa
- The Reality of Judging a Book by Its Cover by Katie McCoach
- 10 Things Authors Can Do to Make Their Books Stand Out by Dave Chesson
- Author Website: A Complete 2021 Guide by Nicky Flowers
- Get Discovered and Make the Sale! by Penny C. Sansevieri
If you prefer to get your writing advice in video form, check out these new video releases on YouTube.
- How to Quickly Write Fantastic Essays and Blog Posts: 8-Step Writing Process by Nicole Bianchi
- Why Pre Orders Matter by BookEnds Literary Agency
- What would you do differently in your writing career? by Michelle Schusterman
- Best Paid Book Review Sites for Authors by Book Launchers
- How do you have confidence in yourself as a writer? by Abbie Emmons
- Why do we root for criminal protagonists? Let’s find out! by Get Writing!
- How I wrote a novel in 5 weeks as THE SLOWEST WRITER IN THE WORLD by Hannah Lee Kidder
- How To Develop Your Story Idea Into A Novel by Heart Breathings
Edited by Melody Friedenthal
Am I missing any useful writing advice sites or video channels? Let me know in the comments or email me at [email protected].