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This week’s top writing advice from around the web for Feb. 6
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
How To Stop Putting Off Your Writing by Daphne Gray-Grant
If you’d promised to become a more regular writer in 2022 and you’re already failing at your resolution, here’s how to stop putting off your writing. Daphne Gray-Grant is a writing coach, author of Your Happy First Draft, and host of The Write Question show on YouTube. Publication Coach offers books, courses, videos, and one-on-one coaching for authors. If you want more advice like this, subscribe to their RSS feed (direct Feedly signup link) or follow them on Twitter at @pubcoach or subscribe to their YouTube channel.
Five Sneaky Ways Perfectionism Sabotages Your Writing by Heather Campbell
Perfectionism is not about being perfect. We tend to think that perfectionists obsess over word choice or comma placement simply because of incredibly high standards, but it goes deeper than that. Perfectionism in writers is motivated by the fear that if our work isn’t flawless—and if we can’t execute it easily and effortlessly—it means that we are not good enough and that others will judge us. Heather Campbell is a book coach who helps writers develop tools to overcome their perfectionism so they can create lasting and effective writing habits to complete a novel. Find out more at TheWriterRemedy.com and follow her on Instagram at @thewriterremedy. DiyMFA offers classes, advice articles and other training materials for writers. For more advice like this, follow them on Twitter at @DIYMFA and on Facebook at @DIYMFA or subscribe to their RSS feed (direct Feedly signup link).
Do You Feel Like Your Inner Writer Is Trapped Inside You? It’s Time To Look At The Uncomfortable Truth. by Lauren Sapala
Writer’s block comes in many forms, but perhaps one of the hardest to deal with is that feeling that you can’t seem to say what you really want to say. You feel like there is a writer inside of you—the true writer that comes from the true you—but every time you sit down to write you end up writing something that feels like it’s just trying to get approval from others, instead of actually express the truth of what’s going on inside you. 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.
Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Trying To Control Everything 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 trying to control everything. Robert Lee Brewer is senior editor of Writer’s Digest. Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer. This venerable resource for writers celebrated its hundred-year anniversary last year, but is still going pretty strong. Follow Writer’s Digest via their RSS feed (direct Feedly signup link), on Twitter at @WritersDigest and on Facebook at @writersdigest.
10 Dangerous Critiques: Beware Misguided Writing Advice by Anne R. Allen
Being in a writing group and getting advice on your works in progress is wonderful and can make your work a lot better. And advice from beta readers and professional editors can dramatically improve as well. But sometimes the advice will actually make a story worse. Here are some some bad types of advice to watch out for. Anne 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 or on Facebook at @annerallenauthor. Anne R. Allen’s Blog… with Ruth Harris offers advice from a couple of publishing industry veterans. For more advice like this, subscribe to their RSS feed (direct Feedly link).
10 Top Tips About Bad Reviews by Lucy V Hay
Worried about getting bad reviews? Bookmark this post. I’m definitely saving it for coming back to later. Lucy Hay is a script editor, author and blogger who helps writers at her site, Bang2write.com. Follow Bang2write.com on Twitter at @Bang2write and on Facebook at @Bang2writers.
Other motivational advice this week:
- Creativity In The Age Of Worry by Julia Cameron for Career Authors
- Get Back On Track With A Writing Goal by Katy Segrove for Pick Up Your Pen
- How To Write Better By Not Writing by Eliza Jane Brazier for DIY MFA
- Business Musings: Time Management by Kristine Kathryn Rusch for Kristine Kathryn Rusch
- The Fine Art Of Bad Writing by Lee Purcell for BookBaby Blog
The art and craft of writing
Conflict as a generator of plot is much less about confrontation and much more about the occurrence of obstacles to the characters’ forward progress toward their goals. K. M. 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. Helping Writers Become Authors is one of our favorite writing advice sites. Follow it via its RSS feed (direct Feedly signup link), on Twitter, and on Facebook.
3 Better Ways To Organize Your Story For Writers Who Are Pantsers (Instead Of Using A Traditional Outline) by Lauren Sapala
Some writers are plotters (which means they meticulously plot every detail of their novel before they write it), and others are pantsers (which means they plan nothing and fly by the seat of their pants), but most writers fall somewhere between the two. 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.
6 Cheats To “Tell” Well (When It’S Warranted) by September Fawkes
Most of us are familiar with the “Show, don’t Tell” rule. In short, it’s more effective to dramatize the story than to simply tell what happened. Nonetheless, almost every story needs at least some telling. It can help keep the pacing tight, relay background information, and enhance tone, among other things.
September Hawkes is a freelance editor. follow her on Twitter @SeptCFawkes and on Facebook at September C. Fawkes. 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.
How To Write A Hook By Thrilling Your Reader With Danger by Joslyn Chase
If you want your readers to not just pick up your book, but keep turning the pages, you need to learn how to write a hook that will draw them through the story so they never want to put it down. Try baiting your hooks with the thrill of danger to keep your readers on the line.
Joslyn Chase is a thriller writer — you can see all her books on Amazon here and follow her on Facebook here. The Write Practice is an advice site from a group of writers. They also have a writing critique community and a newsletter. Follow The Write Practice on Twitter, on Facebook, or subscribe to their RSS feed (direct Feedly signup link).
How Do You Write A Revenge Story (That Stuns Readers) by Gloria Russell
What makes a good revenge plot? Revenge plots are structured pretty similarly to mysteries, when it comes down to it. Instead of solving a mystery, though, the main characters are plotting revenge, often in the form of murder. Gloria Russell is a freelance writer and author living in Colorado who also critiques manuscripts. Self Publishing School offers online courses about self publishing, as well as a podcast, blog, and other resources. For more advice like this subscribe to their RSS feed (direct Feedly signup link), on Twitter at @Self_Pub_School and on Facebook at @Self Publishing School.
Nine Personality Clashes For Character Conflicts by Chris Winkle
How to put good people at odds without making them look mean or unreasonable. Chris Winkle is the founder and editor-in-chief of Mythcreants. Mythcreants is my all-time favorite writing advice site. Get their RSS feed here (direct Feedly signup link) or follow them on Twitter @Mythcreants and on Facebook at @mythcreants.
Choosing A Setting For Your Fight Scene: Fightwrite by Carla Hoch
Trained fighter and author Carla Hoch discusses the importance of setting in a fight scene, and how it can be more important than who’s actually fighting. Carla Hoch is the author of the Writer’s Digest book Fight Write: How to Write Believable Fight Scenes. Her blog, FightWrite.net, was in Writer’s Digest Top Websites for Writers 2019 & 2020. She has training in almost a dozen martial arts and competes in Brazilian jiujitsu. She regularly teaches on the craft of writing fight scenes as well as the mechanics of fighting for writers. This venerable resource for writers celebrated its hundred-year anniversary last year, but is still going pretty strong. Follow Writer’s Digest via their RSS feed (direct Feedly signup link), on Twitter at @WritersDigest and on Facebook at @writersdigest.
Mastering Vivid Descriptions: Draw Upon The Backdrops Of Your Life To Reimagine Your Descriptions by Kris Spisak
Fill your fictional worlds with real-life places. Kris Spisak discusses how to draw upon the backdrops of your life to write vivid descriptions, and offers a few writing prompts as exercise. Kris Spisak is the author of Get a Grip on Your Grammar: 250 Writing and Editing Reminders for the Curious or Confused and The Novel Editing Workbook, Also, check out her Words You Should Know podcast. She also serves on the advisory board of James River Writers. Learn more or sign up for her monthly writing tips newsletter at Kris-Spisak.com. This venerable resource for writers celebrated its hundred-year anniversary last year, but is still going pretty strong. Follow Writer’s Digest via their RSS feed (direct Feedly signup link), on Twitter at @WritersDigest and on Facebook at @writersdigest.
Other writing advice this week:
- How Much Research Is Enough? by Diana Clark for Writers In The Storm
- Plot With The Three-Act Story Template by Edie Melson for The Write Conversation
- The Writer’s Dozen: Thirteen Essential Books For Writers by Sarah Penner for Writer Unboxed
- What Is First-Person Point Of View? What You Should Know With Examples by Barrie Davenport for Blog – Authority Self-Publishing
- The Four Doorways Into Story And How To Use Them To Create A Bestselling Novel by Tracy Wolff for Writer’s Digest
- 5 Line Editing Tips For Polishing Your Prose by Stacy Juba for The Novel Smithy
- Story Development And Execution Part 2: The Story Bible by Staci Troilo for Story Empire
- Use Telling Details To Connect Description To Character by Joe Ponepinto for Jane Friedman
- Using The Power Of Taste In Writing by Ellen Buikema for Writers In The Storm
- Building A Better Villain by Eldred Bird for Writers In The Storm
- Writing An Un-Put-Downable Character Part 1: Personality by Edie Melson for The Write Conversation
- Neil Gaiman Masterclass Review: Will This Transform Your Writing? by Ruthanne Reid for The Write Practice
- How To Use Framing Devices In Fiction by Heather Webb for Career Authors
- Back Story Versus The Past by Donald Maass for Writer Unboxed
- Relationship Thesaurus Entry: Mentor And Protégé by Becca Puglisi for Writers Helping Writers
- Why Tossing In Calamity Won’T Make Your Story Exciting by Oren Ashkenazi for Mythcreants
- 34 Of The Best Books On Writing by Farrah Daniel for Craft – The Write Life
The business side of writing
What Agents Look For In A Synopsis by Jessica Faust
The most important thing to know about the synopsis is that agents and editors read it to know everything important that happens in the story. Jessica Faust is the owner and president at the BookEnds literary agency. Follow her on Twitter at @BookEndsJessica or on Instagram at @jfaust_bookends or email her directly at [email protected]. BookEnds is a literary agency that represents more than 300 authors and illustrations, both fiction and non-fiction, including several New York Times and USA today bestsellers. They are currently open to submissions. If you want more advice like this, subscribe to their RSS feed (direct Feedly signup link) or follow them on Twitter at @bookendslit or on Facebook at @BookEndsLiterary.
How To Write The Perfect Author Bio by C. S. Lakin
It may seem odd and uncomfortable penning your own biography, and writing about yourself in third person (which is what you need to do) can makes it feel even weirder. C. S. Lakin is a writing coach, workshop instructor, award-winning author of over 30 books, and blogger at Live Write Thrive. Her Writer’s Toolbox series of books teach the craft of fiction, and her online video courses at Writing for Life Workshops have helped more than a thousand writers. She also works as a book copyeditor and does more than 200 critiques a year for writers, agents, and publishers in six continents. I’ve been reading her advice for a few years now and she is awesome. If you want more advice from her, follow her on Twitter at @LiveWriteThrive and on Facebook at @C.S.Lakin.Author. Live Write Thrive is a writing advice site by novelist, editor and writing coach C. S. Lakin, author of eight-book The Writer’s Toolbox Series. Follow her on Twitter @LiveWriteThrive. Also check out her other site, The Self Publisher.
Top 10 Insane Things No Writer Has Done But Someone Should by Jay Wilburn
Writers are always looking for a way to improve their careers. Most of their ideas are terrible. But maybe one of these will work for you. Jay Wilburn is a full-time writer of horror and speculative fiction. If you want more advice from Wilburn, check out his website, or follow him on Twitter at @AmongTheZombies and on Facebook at @jaywilburnauthor. LitReactor is an online magazine about writing craft, the publishing industry, books, and other literature-related items, and also offers writing workshops and classes, a discussion forum, and writing competitions. Follow them on Twitter at @LitReactor.
What’S Your Comfort Zone About Promoting Your Book? Thoughts On The Tricky Line We Authors Walk by Mary Carroll Moore
If it’s in our lap to self-promote, how does one do that in a way that’s not soul-scouring? Mary Carroll Moore is an award-winning author, editor and book doctor. Check out her website at MaryCarrollMoore.com/a> or follow her on Facebook at @marycarrollmoore. How to Plan, Write, and Develop a Book is a site that offers advice for how to create, craft and sell your novel, memoir or non-fiction book. If you want more advice like this, follow them on their RSS feed (direct Feedly link here) or on Twitter at @writeabook.
Book Layout Design: Everything You Need To Know by Dave Chesson
How should your book be laid out? All you need to know about book layout design is here in this comprehensive post. Dave Chesson is the founder of Kindlepreneur is pretty much the top site out there for self-published authors who want to sell more e-books on Amazon. The RSS feed is here (direct Feedly signup link). Follow them on Facebook at @KindlePreneur and Chesson himself on Twitter at @DaveChesson. And make sure to subscribe to his podcast, The Book Marketing Show. Kindlepreneur is pretty much the top site out there for self-published authors who want to sell more e-books on Amazon. The RSS feed is here (direct Feedly signup link). Follow them on Facebook at @KindlePreneur and founder Dave Chesson on Twitter at @DaveChesson.
Other business advice this week:
- Indie Authors And The Creator Economy: Earnings Beyond The Books by Orna Ross for Self Publishing Advice
- Keeping Your Series’ Setting And Secondary Characters Fresh by Nan Reinhardt for Women Writers, Women’s Books
- Why I Believe Social Media Is Still Valuable For Writers by Edie Melson for The Write Conversation
- An Introvert’S Guide To A Public Online Presence by Tessa Barbosa for Writer Unboxed
- Self-Publishing News: Kindle Unlimited And Tiktok Hint At A Future Where Creators’ Earnings Potential Is Capped by Dan Holloway for Self Publishing Advice
- 3 Reasons To Update Your Book On Amazon by Rob Eagar for Writer’s Digest
- How Authors Can Use Public Relations Principles to Work with Amazon by Carolyn Howard-Johnson for Writers On The Move
- How Much Does It Cost To Self-Publish A Book? 4 Authors Share Their Actual Costs by Dana Sitar for The Write Life
Podcasting For Authors With Matty Dalrymple by Rachel Wharton and Joni Di Placido
Indie author Matty Dalrymple, who is also the host of the The Indy Author Podcast, shares insights she has learned from her podcasting career, how she has found success in publishing short fiction, and why she loves writing about the supernatural. Rachel Wharton is the author engagement coordinator at Kobo Writing Life. Joni Di Placido is the author engagement specialist at Kobo Writing Life. Kobo Writing Life is the writing advice site from the people behind the Kobo reader. For more like this, subscribe to their RSS feed (directly Feedly link here).
Kickstarter For Indie Authors With Paddy Finn by Sacha Black
Al about kickstarter, what it is, how to use it and how indie authors can work with it.
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).
Time Travel Revisited by Oren Ashkenazi, Chris Winkle, and Wes Matlock
What the different options are for logical time travel, how much it even matters for time travel to be logical, and whether you can fake the universe out to save your friend from time. Also, how much time murder are you willing to commit? Oren Ashkenazi is the a speculative fiction manuscript editor at Mythcreants. Mythcreants is my all-time favorite writing advice site. Get their RSS feed here (direct Feedly signup link) or follow them on Twitter @Mythcreants and on Facebook at @mythcreants.
Other podcasts from this past week:
- The Changing Audiobook Market: Advanced Self-Publishing Podcast With Orna Ross And Joanna Penn by Howard Lovy for Self Publishing Advice
- Leaning On Your Strengths For Greater Productivity In Writing And Marketing by Lindsay Buroker for Six Figure Authors
Audiobook Marketing Strategies To Sell More Audiobooks by Julie Broad
In this video, Julie Broad covers strategies for selling audiobooks, including promotional sites like Chirp, as well as audiobook awards and more. 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.
Why manuscript editing services cost what they do, what you can expect from your edit, and why a professional book edit is an investment you cannot afford to skip. Jim Young is the VP of sales at 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.
Newfangled Stories Need To Follow This Advice! by Stavros Halvatzis
Nonlinear or multiform stories have become all the rage in the past decade or so. Although innovations in form are exciting, they present the danger of distancing readers and audiences through their very complexity. This is how to avoid the pitfall. 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).
Am I missing any writing advice sites? Email me at [email protected].
MetaStellar editor and publisher Maria Korolov is a science fiction novelist, writing stories set in a future virtual world. And, during the day, she is an award-winning freelance technology journalist who covers artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and enterprise virtual reality. See her Amazon author page here and follow her on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn. Email her at [email protected]. She is also the editor and publisher of Hypergrid Business, one of the top global sites covering virtual reality.