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This week’s top writing advice from around the web for Apr. 10
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
Why Your Amazing Writing Group Might Be Failing You by Lisa Cooper Ellison
The real reason writing groups sometimes fail us has nothing to do with the lovely people in them. The failure is due to a mismatch between what you need and what the group offers. Lisa Ellison is an editor, writing coach, and speaker. She has spent the last two decades helping clients and students turn difficult experiences into art and currently teaches courses in memoir, creative nonfiction, and mindful writing practices. To learn more about her work and writing, check out her website at LisaCooperEllison.com or follow her on Twitter at @LisaEllisonsPen. For more advice from Jane Friedman writing advice site, subscribe to their RSS feed (direct Feedly signup link here).
Aside from the COVID-19 pandemic, a short attention span might be another pandemic we are unwittingly living with in recent times. Due to having short attention spans, a good number of us have issues with being as productive as we ought to be. Cisi Eze works as a freelance journalist, writer, and comic artist. More of her random musings are on her blog, ShadesOfCisi. Follow her on Twitter at @cisi_eze. Craft Your Content is a team of editors who offer writing courses, and one-on-one proofreading, content management and writing coaching services.
The One Popular Myth Writers Believe About Writer’s Block by Colleen M. Story
Writers—much as they may lecture about there being no such thing as writer’s block—just have a slightly different definition of it. Colleen Story is a writing coach. Her latest release, Writer Get Noticed!, was a gold-medal winner in the Reader’s Favorite Book Awards and Overwhelmed Writer Rescue was named Book by Book Publicity’s Best Writing/Publishing Book in 2018. Writers Helping Writers is a great site for writing advice. These guys also have the One Stop for Writers online tool set. Subscribe to them via their RSS feed (direct Feedly signup link here) or follow them on Facebook at @DescriptiveThesaurusCollection or on Twitter at @WriterThesaurus.
Other motivational advice this week:
- One Key To Writing Success: Not Quitting by Edie Melson for The Write Conversation
- Advice When We Can’t Write—Take A Breath by Edie Melson for The Write Conversation
- How To Solve Writer’s Block: 5 Simple Steps To Get Back To Your Book by David Safford for The Write Practice
- 4 (Surprising) Tips To Finish Your First Draft by Liz Scheier for Career Authors
- Freshen Up: A Spring Cleaning Guide For Writers by Anica Mrose Rissi for The Writer
- Too Much TV Might Spoil Your… Prose Writing by Roz Morris for Nail Your Novel
- The Joy Of Making Stuff Up by James Scott Bell for Killzoneblog.com
- Featured Productivity Tool: Write Your Win List by Debra Eckerling for Writers On The Move
The art and craft of writing
Seven Writing Mistakes That Make You Look Like An Amateur by Hannah Yang
Before you send your manuscript to a professional editor and publish your book, make sure you comb through your writing for these seven common writing mistakes. Hannah Yang is a speculative fiction writer who loves all things strange and surreal. Follow her work on HannahYang.com or on Twitter at @hannahxyang. BookBaby bills itself as the nation’s leading self-publishing services company. For more advice like this, subscribe to their RSS feed (directly Feedly link here), or follow them on Facebook at @BookBaby or on Twitter at @BookBaby.
5 Ways To Add Depth To A Scene by Janice Hardy
We all want rich scenes that grab a reader, so here are five ways to go deeper with your scenes and provide those extra layers of awesome. Fantasy author Janice 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 them on Facebook at @JaniceHardysFictionUniversity. Writers in the Storm is another great site for writing advice, with a group of regular contributors and guest writers who post frequently. It is very well worth following on RSS (direct Feedly signup link here).
Understand And Implement Voice by September Fawkes
Despite voice often being regarded as elusive, and even magical, voice can be understood and honed just like any other element of storytelling. September Hawkes is a freelance editor. follow her on Twitter @SeptCFawkes and on Facebook at September C. Fawkes. MyStoryDoctor offers writing advice, editing, coaching, online courses, and live workshops. Subscribe to them via their RSS feed (direct Feedly signup link here).
Memory: Shape Characters, Sharpen Conflict by Kristen Lamb
Memory is what makes paper-doll characters come to life. Too many new writers stop at surface description. Mystery author Kristen Lamb is also the author of the social media guide book, Rise of the Machines: Human Authors in a Digital World as well as We Are Not Alone: The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer. Follow her on Twitter at @KristenLambTX or on Facebook at @authorkristenlamb. If you want more advice like this, follow the Kristen Lamb blog via its RSS feed (direct Feedly link).
The Story Start: How To Find It by Stavros Halvatzis
How do you choose your story start? What sort of incident do you use? Is it a cymbal crash to grab the reader’s or audience’s attention? Or a gradual build-up to draw them deeper into the world of the characters? Stavros Halvatzis is a writer and writing teacher. For more advice like this, check out StavrosHalvatzis.com or follow him via his RSS feed (direct Feedly link here).
Other writing advice this week:
- Where To Begin? by Philip Athans for Fantasy Author’s Handbook
- Fear Thesaurus Entry: Government by Angela Ackerman for Writers Helping Writers
- 10 Common Corrections I Make When Copyediting by Julie Glover for Writers In The Storm
- The Writing Craft: Less Is More by Joni M. Fisher for Florida Writers Association Blog
- 4 Tips To Help Add An Interview To Your Research by Marcia Peterson for WOW! Women On Writing Blog
- Perspective – What’s Yours? by Crystal Otto for WOW! Women On Writing Blog
- How To Shorten A Story: Writing Tips To Decrease Your Word Count by Sarah Gribble for The Write Practice
- The Moral Universe: The Importance Of Morals In Storytelling by Carole Lawrence for Writer’s Digest
- Writing Thrillers: A Deep-Dive On Subgenres, Plus 4 Must-Have Elements by Gloria Russell for Self Publishing School
- Five Underwhelming Reveals In Speculative Fiction by Oren Ashkenazi for Mythcreants
- Simplify Sentences To Spare The Reader’s Brain by Anne Janzer for Anne Janzer
- 5 Examples Of Story Structure You Should Know About by Lucy V Hay for Bang2write
- Story Elements: 7 Main Elements Of A Story And 5 Elements Of Plot by Krystal N. Craiker for ProWritingAid
The business side of writing
How To Get Book Reviews by Steven Spatz
A powerful element of your book marketing plan should be getting book reviews. Here are some ideas for how to go about getting them. Steven Spatz is a writer, marketer, and the president of BookBaby. BookBaby bills itself as the nation’s leading self-publishing services company. For more advice like this, subscribe to their RSS feed (directly Feedly link here), or follow them on Facebook at @BookBaby or on Twitter at @BookBaby.
How To Get Reader Reviews by Sandra Beckwith
The secret to getting book reviews is to give books away. Just give a copy of your book to people in exchange for an honest review. But who do you give books to? Where do you find those people? And how do you make sure they review it? Here are five steps to getting reviews from people who will love your book. Sandra Beckwith is an award-winning former publicist who now teaches authors how to market their books. Follow her on Twitter at @sandrabeckwith and on Facebook at @buildbookbuzz. Build Book Buzz offers do-it-yourself book marketing tips, tools and tactics. Follow them via their RSS feed (direct Feedly link here).
Success on social media doesn’t come from doing what you think you’re supposed to be doing, or doing what everyone else is doing. It comes from you listening to your own instincts and tapping into your own self-knowledge about what makes you feel good and what doesn’t, and then listening to that information and taking action to follow it. Lauren Sapala is a writer and a writing coach. For more advice like this, follow her on Twitter at @losapala, on Facebook at @LaurenSapala, and on YouTube at Lauren Sapala. At LaurenSapala.com, Sapala offers writing advice, courses, and coaching services.
Other business advice this week:
- Bookbub Ads by Jan Sikes for Story Empire
- Self-Publishing News: Anger At The Amazon Ebook Returns Scam Driven By Booktok by Dan Holloway for Self Publishing Advice
- How To Write An About Me That Attracts More Readers by The Write Life Team for Blogging – The Write Life
- How To Publish On Medium And Make Money From It by Jackie Pearce for Blogging – The Write Life
- Promoting A Book On Amazon Just Got Easier With The New Advertising Updates by Penny Sansevieri for Author Marketing Experts, Inc.
- Sell More Books! Virtual Book Tours Are Now More Accepted Than Ever by Jennifer Brown Banks for WritersWeekly.com
- Vanity Press: How To Dodge Scams And Self Publishing Companies To Avoid by Scott Allan for Self Publishing School
- The Novella: Compact Utility Vehicle Or Sports Car by Steve Hooley for Killzoneblog.com
- Ecommerce For Authors: 5 Steps To Set Up Your Online Bookstore by Chelsea Bennett for ProWritingAid
- What Great Design Teaches Us About Building An Effective Author Platform by Dan Blank for WeGrowMedia
- 10 Reasons To Delay Your Book Launch by Thomas Umstattd Jr. for Author Media
- 3 Legal Issues To Avoid When Writing Your Book by Joseph Perry for Anne R. Allen’s Blog… with Ruth Harris
How To Succeed In A Niche Book Genre by Sacha Black
Sacha Black talks to Nora Phoenix all about how to succeed in a niche book genre. Nora Phoenix writes gay sci-fi and other subgenres of romance. Sacha Black is a fantasy author and writing coach, with several writing advice books including 13 Steps to Evil: How to Craft Superbad Villains (Better Writers Series) May 9, 2017. Follow her on her website, Sacha Black, on Facebook at @Sacha Black or on Twitter at @sacha_black. Sacha Black is a site that offers writing advice, courses, and podcasts. Follow the site via their RSS feed (direct Feedly link here).
Are Book Fairs The Right Place For Indie Authors? by Orna Ross and Dan Parsons
How indie authors can make the most of publishing conferences. What you should know before walking into the chaos and crowds of a book fair. Orna Ross is a novelist, poet, self-publishing advocate, and founder and director of the Alliance of Independent Authors. Follow her on Twitter at @OrnaRoss. Dan Parsons is the production manager at the Alliance of Independent Authors. writes the Creative Business series for authors and bestselling fantasy and horror novels. Check out his website at DanielParsonsBooks.com or follow him on Twitter at @dkparsonswriter and on Facebook at @Dan Parsons. Self Publishing Advice is the advice center of the Alliance of Independent Authors. If you want more advice like this, subscribe to their RSS feed (direct Feedly signup link).
Other podcasts from this past week:
- How To Turn Historical Figures Into Characters For Your Novel: Interview With Jody Hadlock by Gabriela Pereira for DIY MFA
- Family Business, Fresh Covers, And Taxed Twice by Bryan Cohen and H. Claire Taylor for Sell More Books Show
Authortube Best Practices by Morgan Hazelwood
Authortube is hashtag for writers talking about writing and sometimes even actually writing in video format, online — either recorded or livestreamed. Here are a few best practices. Morgan Hazelwood writes from her lair in Northern Virginia. She’s a blogger, vlogger, and podcaster of writing tips and writerly musings, plus an actively querying fantasy author. For more advice like this, follow her on Twitter at @MorganHzlwood, on Facebook at Morgan Hazelwood, and on YouTube at Morgan Hazelwood. At Morgan Hazelwood, she offers writing advice and resources.
Never Lose Your Work – 5 Tips To Back Up Your Book by Book Launchers
It’s not something most authors think about until you have a technology glitch and you think you’ve lost everything in your manuscript. Backing up your book is an important step in keeping your work safe. And, in the age of cyber attacks and fancy cloud storage, there are some extra steps you may want to take to keep your book safe. Julie Broad heads up a team of self-publishing experts at Book Launchers. Book Launchers is mostly aimed at non-fiction book authors, but with useful advice for fiction authors as well. You can also follow them on Facebook at @booklaunchers and on Twitter at @booklaunchers. And, of course, subscribe to their YouTube channel.
The Book Marketing Mix – 4P’s For Your Book by Julie Broad
It’s marketing 101: Product, Price, Place, Promotion. Some tips for using the marketing mix when it comes to your book marketing. Julie Broad heads up a team of self-publishing experts at Book Launchers. Book Launchers is mostly aimed at non-fiction book authors, but with useful advice for fiction authors as well. You can also follow them on Facebook at @booklaunchers and on Twitter at @booklaunchers. And, of course, subscribe to their YouTube channel.
How To Humanise Non-Human Characters by Stavros Halvatzis
How to make non-human characters more likable and relevant by injecting traits in them that we all recognize. Stavros Halvatzis is a writer and writing teacher. Get Writing is Stavros Halvatzis’s YouTube channel. For more advice like this, check out StavrosHalvatzis.com or follow himvia his RSS feed (direct Feedly link here).
Other videos from this past week:
- When Fiction Gets Real: 3 Tips For Using Real-World Events by Nancy Johnson for Writer Unboxed
- How To Break The Cycle Of Procrastination by Daphne Gray-Grant for Publication Coach
- Growing Your Influence: Selling More Books Using Instagram by Chandler Bolt for Self Publishing School
- Why You Need Email Marketing (With Rob And Kennedy) by Kristina Adams and Ellie Betts for The Writer’s Mindset
- Burnout: What It Looks Like And What To Do by Kristina Adams and Ellie Betts for The Writer’s Mindset
- 10 Things You Need To Know To Write A Good Sequel by Claire Fraise for Write with Claire Fraise
- How Do I Come Up With A Plot For My Novel? by Abbie Emmons for Abbie Emmons
- Trusting Your Intuition by Becca Syme for QuitCast for Writers with Becca Syme
- How to Put a Positive Spin on a Negative Book Review (with Gina Jackson) by The Writer’s Mindset for The Writer’s Mindset
Am I missing any writing advice sites? Email me at [email protected].
MetaStellar publisher and news editor Maria Korolov is a science fiction novelist who, at her day job, covers artificial intelligence, extended reality and cybersecurity as a freelance technology journalist. See her Amazon author page here and follow her on Twitter here or on Facebook, or LinkedIn. Email her at [email protected].