Some articles may include Amazon affiliate links. All proceeds go to helping us pay for original stories and to support writers of speculative fiction. Read more here.
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.
And now, onto the rest of this week’s top advice.
Productivity, mood management, and battling the demons inside
Want Success? Get Back to Joyous Writing by James Scott Bell
In this guest post for Writers Helping Writers, thriller writer James Scott Bell gives some practical advice for how to find that writing sweet spot where your writing is commercial enough to sell but fun enough that it still brings you joy. Bell is the author of more than twenty books about writing, and you can follow him on Twitter at @jamesscottbell. His website is JamesScottBell.com. And Writers Helping Writers is a great site for writing advice. They also have the One Stop for Writers online tool set. Subscribe to the Writers Helping Writers RSS feed here (direct Feedly signup link).
In Search of Gathering Spaces for Writers: How I Chose Clubhouse to Connect by Jai Chakrabarti
After a year of isolation, writers are yearning for ways to connect, to share their work and to help their fellow writers. In this guest post for Writer’s Digest, author Jai Chakrabarti discusses why he chose to connect with others through the audio-only platform Clubhouse. 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 Surprising Benefits of Writing Every Day–Why Practice Gets Us Closer to Perfect by Mary Carroll Moore
A few tips for building a daily writing habit. One tip? End each day in the middle of a sentence. It worked for Steven King! Mary Carroll Moore is an award-winning author, editor and book doctor. You can find more advice from her at How to Plan, Write and Develop a Book. Follow the site via its RSS feed here (direct Feedly signup link), on Twitter at @writeabook and on Facebook at @marycarrollmoore.
The Secret Schedules of Great Authors by Andrea Lundgren
In this guest post for A Writer’s Path, author Andrea Lundgren reviews Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey. Anthony Trollope wrote in the morning, before heading off to his job at the post office. Gustave Flaubert was a night owl. And Gertrude Stein wrote while looking at cows. For more from Lundgren, check out her website, AndreaLundgren.com. And if you want even 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.
The Case Against Writing Rituals by Stephen Graham Jones
And, for an completely opposite point of view, New York Times best-selling fantasy author Stephen Graham Jones argues that writing rituals can actually hurt productivity and writers should learn to manage without these crutches. This is a guest post for Writer’s Digest.
Audrey Chin published her first book in 1999, then didn’t write seriously again for 15 years, recovering from first novel blues. In this guest post for The Write Practice, she talks about how finding a writing community helped her overcome her writer’s block. The Write Practice is an advice site and a writing critique community. Follow The Write Practice on Twitter, on Facebook, or subscribe to their RSS feed (direct Feedly signup link).
Rejections Are Personal, Just Not How You Think by Sue Bradford Edwards
In this guest post for The Muffin, Sue Bradford Edwards says that rejections are personal, but the person is not you, but the editor. It might not have anything to do with the quality of your story, or the value of your writing, and more about the personal tastes of that particular editor. Edwards is the author of over 30 books for young readers. To find out more about her writing, visit her site and blog, One Writer’s Journey. The next session of her new course, Pitching, Querying and Submitting Your Work will begin on October 4, 2021. Coping with rejection is one of the topics she will cover in this course. The Muffin is daily news from Wow! Women on Writing.
Write, and Live Forever by James Scott Bell
You’d think this post is about how authors get to live forever through their writing, but it’s actually a post about when to stop editing your book. Thriller writer James Scott Bell is the author of more than twenty books about writing, and you can follow him on Twitter at @jamesscottbell. His website is JamesScottBell.com.
In this guest post for Kiingo, Lucie Ataya suggests that writers stop asking themselves “why” questions — like, “Why am I not selling books?” and replace them with “how” questions, like “How can I sell more books?” “Why” questions lead to unproductive shame or anger spirals, and “how” questions lead to a mindset that’s more oriented towards improvement. 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 story telling 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.
The art and craft of writing
Selecting firearms for hunting monsters by Michael Schwarz
What’s the best modern-day firearm for monster hunting? Michael Schwarz explains in this post for How to Fight Write. If you like the site, you can support them on Patreon. Their RSS feed is here (direct Feedly signup link).
The eight types of time travel by Ted Atchley
In this guest post for Almost an Author, Ted Atchley explains the various — fictional and real — approaches to time travel, including “anything goes,” alternate timelines, time dilation, time loops, and more. Atchley is a freelance writer and professional computer programmer, and a staff writer at Blizzard Watch. His website is TedAtchley.com. Follow him on Twitter at @tedatchley3.
8 Tips for Co-Writers to Create an Authentic Voice for Their Book by Rob Keast and Anthony Ianni
Writing is often seen as a solitary art form—so when choosing to co-write a book, the process is naturally different than working alone. In this guest post for Writer’s Digest, authors Rob Keast and Anthony Ianni offer 8 tips to remember when co-writing a book. 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.
This is another guest post for Writer’s Digest, with advice about revising and editing in shorter, hyper-focused periods instead of one intense push. 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.
Literary Necromancy: Resurrecting Your Dead Manuscript by Kyle Massa
In this guest post for A Writer’s Path, speculative fiction author Kyle Massa offers some advice for bringing an abandoned book back to life. If you want 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.
How Do I Portray an Ambitious Character? by Oren Ashkenazi
Ambition doesn’t have to be a bad thing, if the cause is just. Oren Ashkenazi is 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.
Which Descriptive Details Are Excessive to Readers? by Chris Winkle
Human brains aren’t cameras; trying to relate every detail of a scene as though you’re taking a photograph will only confuse readers. Instead, they should be able to sit back and enjoy your description without thinking about it too hard. That means reducing complexity and allowing readers to fill in some gaps themselves. This is the third article in the Mastering Description series from Chris Winkle, the founder and editor-in-chief of Mythcreants.
Archetypal Antagonists for the Maiden Arc: Authority and Predator by K. M. Weiland
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 starting 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.
Pinch Point 1: Key Features by September Fawkes
One popular way to outline a book is the 7 Point Story Structure, and in this article freelance editor September Hawkes goes into detail about how to set up the first pinch point. The first pinch point usually comes about a third of the way through the book, and it involves either meeting the villain, or finding out that they’re worse than we thought. If you want more advice like this, follow her on her RSS Feed (direct Feedly signup link), follow her on Twitter @SeptCFawkes and on Facebook at September C. Fawkes. Her website is SeptemberCFawkes.com.
Narrative Design In The Gaming Industry With Edwin McRae by Joanna Penn
This is a transcript of a Creative Penn podcast about how to design a story that branches in multiple directions. Joanna Penn has been sharing writing and publishing advice since 2008 at The Creative Penn, with articles, videos, books, tools, and courses. She also has one of my favorite writing advice podcasts, and you can subscribe to it on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or Stitcher.
7 Ways to Add an Undercurrent of Tension by Kathryn Craft
In this guest post for Writer Unboxed, novelist Kathryn Craft suggest several ways to add tension other than outright conflict. Craft has been a freelance developmental editor at Writing-Partner.com since 2006, and teaches in Drexel University’s MFA program. Learn more on her website, KathrynCraft.com or follow her on Facebook at @KathrynCraftAuthor and on Twitter at @kcraftwriter. The 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.
Dialects: How to Write in a New Voice by David Reed
I always have a problem of my characters all sounding the same, but I’m worried that if I try to fix that, it will sound fake. In this post for editorial services firm Craft Your Content, freelance writer David Reed talks about how to add individual character without sounding unnatural or offensive.
The business side of writing
The Writer’s Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so they started this series to help identify them for other writers — along with correction strategies. This week’s writing mistake is labeling your book with an inaccurate genre. Amy Jones is the Editor-in-Chief for Writer’s Digest and was previously the managing content director for WD Books. 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.
Promoting Your Book on YouTube by Amanda Zieba
In this guest post for Write Now! Coach, there’s some great advice about the value of posting videos online — even if it’s something simple like you sitting in a comfy chair reading out loud from your book. Amanda Zieba is an author and self-publishing coach. Her website is WordNerdopolis. Follow her on Facebook at @amandazieba or check out her YouTube channel, Take Action Author Plan. And if you’re interested in YouTube, check out our MetaStellar YouTube channel — we’re always looking for guests and guest hosts!
Who’s Who in Your Publishing Village by Sarah Penner
In this guest post for Writer Unboxed, New York Times bestselling author Sarah Penner explains all the people who are involved in a traditional public book deal, and what they do. If you want to know more about her, check out her website, SarahPenner.com, and follow her on Twitter at @sl_penner and on Facebook at @SarahPennerAuthor. Meanwhile, 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.
3 Book Marketing Tactics Perfect For Bloggers by Jay Artale
In this guest post for How to Blog a Book, full-time writer and digital nomad Jay Artale says that actually writing your book, post by post, is only half the battle, and that it’s never too early to start marketing. She offers advice for how to set up a mailing list, build an advanced reader network, and optimize your site to promote your book. If you want more advice like this, check out her website, Birds of a Feather, or follow her on Twitter at @BirdsOAFpress and on Facebook at @birdsofafeatherpress.
Unique Author Branding and Content Ideas Using September Observances by Penny Sansevieri
This is a great list of events and holidays in September that you could use as a jumping-off point for a blog or social media post, from Penny Sansevieri. 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. And check out her guest post for Writers in the Storm, A Checklist for In-Person Book Events.
Why & How to Use a Pen Name by Clayton Noblit
All the reasons why you might want a pen name, how to pick one, and a list of famous writers who used pen names. Clayton 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.
Three Criteria for Effective Author Posts on LinkedIn by Carol Van Den Hende
Facebook and Twitter aren’t the only social networks out there. If you’re an author who’s primary social media presence is on LinkedIn, you might have been hesitant about using the platform to promote your book. In this guest post for diyMFA, award-winning fiction author Carol Van Den Hende gives some practical advice for how to do it right without coming off as a spammer. For more advice like this, follow diyMFA on Twitter at @DIYMFA and on Facebook at @DIYMFA or subscribe to their RSS feed (direct Feedly signup link). DiyMFA offers classes, advice articles and other training materials for writers.
How to Get Readers to Unsubscribe from Your Mailing List by Nate Hoffelder
Is your mailing list too big? Maybe all those readers are stressing you out, or your mailing provider is charging you extra because you’re so popular. Technology and indie publishing expert Nate Hoffelder is here to solve your problem, with tons of practical advice. For example, you could annoy subscribers with too many sales pitches, use profanity, bore readers with too-long newsletters, or resend newsletters that haven’t been opened. This is a guest post for the Florida Writers Association. For more advice like this, follow Hoffelder on Twitter at @InkBitsPixels, on Facebook at @nate.thegreat.7, or check out his website, NateHoffelder.com.
Audiobook Formats and File Types: Which One is Best? by Jason Hamilton
In this guest post for Kindlepreneur, fantasy author Jason Hamilton explains the different types of audiobook file types and which ones you should use for different audiobook platforms. The bottom line? Use MP3 files at 192 KBPS or higher. For more from Hamilton, check out his site, MythBank, full of reading and viewing guides to the most popular sci-fi and fantasy works. You can also follow him on Twitter at @StoryHobbit and on Facebook at Jason Hamilton. And 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.
The Social Side of Social Media for Writers by Julie Glover
In this guest post for Writers in the Storm, supernatural suspense and mystery author Julie Glover writes about how social media is more than just a marketing channel for books. It can also help authors connect with one another for support, insights, and even friendship. Writers in the Storm is a 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).
Joanna Penn has been sharing writing and publishing advice since 2008 at The Creative Penn, with articles, videos, books, tools, and courses. She also has one of my favorite writing advice podcasts, and you can subscribe to it on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or Stitcher.
Self Publishing a Book Requires the Right Focus by Penny Sansevieri
The three stages of creating a book require three different mindsets. When you’re writing, it’s all about you and your creativity. When you’re in the production stage, it’s all about making the best possible, most attractive book. But then, in the marketing stage, the mind set should be focused on the reader. At least, according to Penny Sansevieri, 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.
5 Mistakes Authors Should Avoid on TikTok by Marissa Decuir
As more writers and readers alike check out TikTok, whether for #BookTok or dance moves, here are five mistakes authors should avoid on TikTok, with some advice on how to get the most out of this social media platform. This is a guest post for Writer’s Digest, by Marissa Decuir, president of Books Forward publicity and Books Fluent publishing. 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.
Kindle Vella: Amazon’s New Platform for Authors, Explained by Hannah Lee Kidder
Fantasy author and writing coach Hannah Lee Kidder tells us all we need to know about the new Kindle Vella serialized fiction platform. If you want more advice from Kidder check out her website at HannahLeeKidder.com, or her YouTube channel. I just watched her review of the NotePad novel writing software, and I’m going out and trying it now. She is awesome and I’ve also watched a few of her other videos. This particular article was a guest post for Self Publishing, a resource site for self-published authors. But I’ve got to say, something creepy just happened — someone literally called me, on my phone, while I was looking at the website, to pitch me something, as I was writing this very article. The woman who called said something about having seen me visit the site. I was extremely freaked out and unhappy about this. Later on, I realized that I must have downloaded something from the site earlier and they had one of those forms where you have to fill in your information to do the download. So keep that in mind. If you provide your real contact info, they’ll have someone contact you. The fact that they have a hard-sell operation in place is a little concerning. If a platform relies heavily on personal sales it makes me think that it doesn’t have much referral business. Also, I tend to assume that the harder the sell, the worse the product. Again, the only interactions I’ve had with these folks is reading a couple of articles, downloading a report, and getting an intrusive and unexpected phone call, so they could be the best folks in the world — I don’t actually have any specific knowledge either way. (The only review I’ve been able to find of them online, from the Center for Book Publishing, said that they were okay, but not great.)
If you prefer to get your writing advice in video form, check out these new video releases on YouTube.
The Call to Adventure: How to Write a Powerful Inciting Incident by Nicole Bianchi
The inciting incident or “call to adventure” is the event that launches the main action of a story. When your inciting incident is powerful and upends the life of your protagonist, you have one of the key ingredients for a gripping and unforgettable story that your readers won’t be able to put down. In this video, author, copywriter and writing teaching Nicole Bianchi shares three rules for crafting powerful inciting incidents and also look at mistakes to avoid when writing this critical part of your story. For more like this, subscribe to her channel, check out her website, NicoleBianchi.com, or follow her on Twitter at @NicoleJBianchi or on Facebook at @nicolejbianchi.
How do I Know if I’m Done Writing my Book? by Jenna Moreci
Best-selling fantasy author Jenna Moreci lists ten signs the you need to step away from the keyboard. If you want more advice like this, subscribe to her channel, which has more than a quarter million subscribers, check out her website, JennaMoreci.com, or follow her on Twitter @jennamoreci or on Facebook at @authorjennamoreci.
BOOK EDIT MAGIC: Recasting Scenes by Alexa Donne
Advice on writing scenes, from YA sci-fi author Alexa Donne, with examples from her books. “Recasting” meaning repurposing a scene, or writing it in a new way. In her videos, Donne offers advice on writing, publishing, book reviews, and author interviews. Subscribe to her channel here. Follow her on Twitter at @alexadonne and check out her website at AlexaDonne.com.
5 Things to do BEFORE You Start Writing To Save You Time Later by Claire Fraise
Award-winning YA sci-fi author Claire Fraise gives five tips for things you can do before you start writing a book in order to waste as little time as possible during the drafting phase. She’s a plotter, so the first step is writing an outline. If you want more advice like this, subscribe to her channel, check out her website at ClaireFraise.com, or follow her on Facebook at @clairefraiseauthor.
Self Publishing: Create a great book cover in minutes using Canva.com by Nicola Monaghan
I’ve really grown to like Canva.com lately. In this quick video, award-winning author and creative writing professor Nicola Monaghan explains the basics of using the platform to create book covers both for digital and print books. For more advice like this, subscribe to her YouTube channel, The Write Channel, or visit her website, TheWriteChannel.com. She also teaches writing and editing courses on Skillshare and Udemy.
Social Media Tips for Authors by Julie Broad
In this quick video, Julie Broad offers some advice for book authors trying to get their heads around how to use social media. Broad heads up a team of self-publishing experts at Book Launchers. The site 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.
Alternatives to outlining your novel Michelle Schusterman
If outlines aren’t your thing, but you’re not ready to jump into writing the first draft of your book – never fear! There are lots of other ways you can plan and prep for writing your novel. In this video, Michelle Schusterman has broken these into sections based on the type of book idea you have. Schusterman is an author, ghostwriter, and writing instructor. For more advice like this, subscribe to her YouTube channel, or check out her website at MichelleSchusterman.com/.
7 Essential Elements Every Author Website Needs with Nick Stephenson from Your First 10k Readers by Libby Bushill
In this video, ProWritingAid‘s Libby Bushill interviews Nick Stephenson, USA Today bestselling author of sci-fi and thrillers. Stephenson is also the founder of Your First 10,000 Readers, a course that teachers authors how to grow their readership. In this video, Stephenson explains how to organize your author website so that it actually sells books. He also has his own YouTube channel. that focuses on book marketing and you can also follow him on Facebook at @nickstephensonbooks. For more videos like this, subscribe to the ProWritingAid YouTube channel, ProWritingAidTV.
Am I missing any useful writing advice sites or video channels? Let me know in the comments or email me at [email protected].
Edited by Melody Friedenthal
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.