We’re nearly halfway through December, and there’s something about the final month of the year that prompts reflection. Do you find yourself asking these or similar questions:
- What have I done this year that I set out to do?
- Do I have any unmet goals, or have I made steady progress toward my ambitions?
- Did I grow and change as a result of having done all the things I have done and choosing which things I did not do?
If December brings about similar reflections in you, you, too, may be undergoing profound change as you decide what you want out of your life and how best to go ahead and get it. While undergoing fundamental changes in who we are is a part of many creative professional pursuits, the change process itself can come with its own set of gifts to help us get through the tumult of change.
Kicking off the writing advice for this week is an article by Rex Pickett for Career Authors titled, Writing Is Not An Avocation — It’s A Life. As most life coaches will tell you, Rex is right. To transform your writing from side hustle or hobby into your life’s pursuit, you must organize your life around your writing. In his article, Rex details his story generation process, which includes taking the trip his characters take so he can bring that journey to life much more completely for his characters. And while I’m not going to advocate you rob a bank to prepare for a bank heist thriller, living out the parts of your story that you’re reasonably able (and legally able) to live will help you discover challenges and opportunities for your characters, including the major conflicts that may arise. And conflict ultimately drives story.
Now, when looking at a process of personal change to beget professional change, it’s easy to get bogged down in too many details too quickly. But, as I caution the authors with whom I work, while the future details are important and do need some focus to come to fruition, it’s unnecessary to worry about things like bestseller lists, awards, even publication deals or graphic design choices until you have a book ready for those steps.
To write a book, you have to write a book. There’s no other way around this fundamental step. And to write a book, you have to become a writer.
Writing a book requires focus and dedication to the crafts of writing and storytelling to share the message you ultimately want to share. And if you’re reading this article and wondering how you’re going to create writing time when there are only 24 hours in a day, check out this podcast episode by Michael La Ronn And Sacha Black for Self Publishing Advice titled, How Do I Increase My Productivity? While some of the advice is geared toward writers reaching their definitions of “done” and looking ahead to publication, the speakers do point out that the actual writing and editing of the book must necessarily take precedence over all else because they are the most difficult and time-consuming parts of the writing process. And remember, publishing is a long game, so play smart to keep the stamina needed to continue forward.
Through all of this professional development and the soul-searching needed to get there, don’t forget that you have a distinct writing voice and style — even if you haven’t discovered it yet. And frankly, many writers don’t recognize their own voices and styles even when they’re properly honed. But readers notice. In a short video, Tim Grahl for Story Grid discusses How To Find Your Writing Voice And Style. Tim starts the video with examples of vastly different literary styles from popular storytellers and states plainly that your unique voice and style is a product of your personality. And your writing personality will only shine through when it knows how to turn on its light. That is, your voice and style will naturally come about when you learn the fundamentals of writing stories and how to apply them to your own work.
In learning the fundamentals of story and applying them to your book, you may be focused on the protagonist and antagonist of your story, as these characters (assuming the antagonist is a character and not a force) are the central pillars of your story. When you need your protagonist to step into a heroic light, you’ll have to give them something to fight for in the context of your book. Because heroes don’t run from conflict; they face it. Brian Andrews for Career Authors writes, I Need A Hero — How To Level Up Your Protagonist, in a succinct article you can break down into bullet points for protagonist character development. And you’ll want to refer to his list, even ask questions of your beta readers to check the quality of your story against the list, when you’re editing for structure and content.
And, of course, it’s not just the protagonist who needs some character-development love. Your antagonist needs love too. Because the villains that stand out the most are often the ones with whom readers sympathize even if the character does absolutely detestable things. If there’s a noble reason to do something awful, however twisted the reason may be, readers need to understand the perceived nobility behind the antagonist’s choices. And part of the antagonist’s nobility may come as a result of their sense of innate goodness. Kristin South for Writer Unboxed gives us Writing A Sympathetic Antagonist and urges us to consider why the antagonist believes that what they’re doing is right, even if it’s destructive. And there’s a creativity prompt for developing character packed into the article from one of my favorite literary agents and craft book writers, Donald Maass.
After doing all that character development work, the last thing you want is to produce a book with a wholly unsatisfying ending. Because I’m sure that at some point you, too, have reached the final page of an otherwise great novel only to discover a fizzle. Lori Freeland for Writers In The Storm shares helpful hints about avoiding the fizzle in Big Bang Not Baby Blip: Write A Satisfying Story Ending. And Lori’s list is highly digestible and, like Brian’s article on heroes, translates well into a checklist you can use to guide your storytelling to reach that big bang.
Part of the professional development of becoming a writer is ensuring we have the brain space and time necessary to devote to the business of writing. While there are many creative people, including authors, who dislike self-promotion and marketing because it takes time away from their writing, there is no book business without underlying business foundations. But again, there are only 24 hours in a day. If you’re worried about how in the hell you’re going to fit in extra time for your business when it’s already sometimes difficult to find time for the writing, well, Sandra Beckwith for Build Book Buzz shares, How To Find Time For Book Promotion. And make no mistake about it — shameless self-promotion is not only important, it is a critical component of your book-business strategy because contrary to popular belief, if you build it, they don’t always come. They have to know it’s there first and be enticed to come.
If you’d like something different than the advice I’ve curated here, checks the links below.
- 18 Tips From Authors Who Broke In In 2023 by Moriah Richard for Writer’s Digest
- A Christmas Gift Every Writer Should Give Themselves by Edie Melson for The Write Conversation
- Podcast: How Do I Increase My Productivity? by Michael La Ronn And Sacha Black for Self Publishing Advice
- How Many Hours Do Writers Work A Day? by Daphne Gray-Grant for Publication Coach
- Video: How To Find Your Writing Voice And Style by Tim Grahl for Story Grid
- Video: How To Heal A Tired Writer’s Heart With Kate Elliott by Rachael Herron for Rachael Herron YouTube channel
- How To Write And Publish A Book When You Have Small Children At Home by Johanna Rojas Vann for Writer’s Digest
- How To Write Faster To Meet Your Writing Goals by Andre Calilhanna for BookBaby Blog
- I’m Not A Writer In December by Morgan Hazelwood for Morgan Hazelwood
- Is Stress Killing Your Creativity? by Daphne Gray-Grant for Publication Coach
- Meltdowns: Chaos & The Neurodivergent Author by Kristen Lamb for Kristen Lamb
- Only You Can Make Yourself Happy by C Hope Clark for FundsforWriters
- Start The Next One Today by Steven Pressfield for Steven Pressfield
- The Most Common Question by C Hope Clark for FundsforWriters
- The Waiting Is The Hardest Part by Greer Macallister for Writer Unboxed
- Why Deadlines Drive Productivity by Ann Gomez for Publication Coach
- Writer Fuel: Journaling – My New Writing Habit by Gabriela Pereira for DIY MFA
- Writers, Start 2024 Off Strong With One Word by Beth K. Vogt for The Write Conversation
- Writing Is Not An Avocation — It’s A Life by Rex Pickett for Career Authors
- 6 Rules Of Writing A Clearing-Your-Own-Name Cozy Mystery by Kallie E. Benjamin for Writer’s Digest
- Big Bang Not Baby Blip: Write A Satisfying Story Ending by Lori Freeland for Writers In The Storm
- Crafting Light Stories by Oren Ashkenazi, Chris Winkle and Bunny for Mythcreants
- Creating Conflicted Antagonist Characters by C. S. Lakin for Live Write Thrive
- Description Is More Than Just “What It Looks Like” by Janice Hardy for Fiction University
- Do The Characters Refuse Or Fail To Synthesize The Meaning Of The Story? by Matt Bird for The Secrets of Story
- Video: Draftsmith Review: Welcome To The Future Of Editing by Michael La Ronn for Author Level Up
- Fifteen Beats To Save The Cat! by Stavros Halvatzis for Stavros Halvatzis
- Video: First Look At Gemini Vertex: Ai Prompting by Mira Gold for AI Writers Connection
- Video: Gemini Is Here! Does It Crush Chatgpt/Claude For Writers? by Jason Hamilton for The Nerdy Novelist
- Video: How To Create Emotion In Your Fantasy Novel by Jed Herne for Jed Herne
- Video: How To Write A Brilliant Act 3 Every Time by Stavros Halvatzis for Get Writing
- How To Write A Quality First Draft by Krystal N. Craiker for National Novel Writing Month
- Video: How To Write Betrayals In Stories by Brandon McNulty for Writer Brandon McNulty
- Video: How To Write With Multiple Authors by Daphne Gray-Grant for Publication Coach
- I Need A Hero — How To Level Up Your Protagonist by Brian Andrews for Career Authors
- More On The Science:Fiction Ratio And Sf Sub-Genres by Philip Athans for Fantasy Author’s Handbook
- Video: Science Fantasy World Building: Principles And Power For Creating Advanced Technology by Marie Mullany for Just In Time Worlds
- Should A Writer Use First Person Or Third Person? by Sarah Sally Hamer for The Write Conversation
- Video: Show Me Your World (Please Don’t Tell Me) by Marie Mullany for Just In Time Worlds
- Specific Vs. Generic (Or Is It Factual Vs. Archetypal?) by Matt Bird for The Secrets of Story
- Starting A Series? by Anne Hawkinson for Florida Writers Association Blog
- Podcast: The 21 Creative Planning Principles by Orna Ross for Self Publishing Advice
- The Expanded Ultimate Story Checklist: In The End, Is The Plot Not Entirely Tidy? by Matt Bird for The Secrets of Story
- The Hows And Why Of Cowriting by Alex J. Coyne for FundsforWriters
- The Narrative Power Of The Story Spine by Dave Villalva for David Villalva
- Video: The Only (Online) Writing Resources & Tools I Pay For by Nicole Wilbur for Nicole Wilbur
- The Perils Of Putting Cops On Paper: 5 Tips For Getting It Right by Tracy Clark for Writer’s Digest
- Tightening Our Prose: Lists by D. Wallace Peach for Story Empire
- Podcast: Tropes And Trends With Jennifer Hilt by Bryan Cohen and H. Claire Taylor for Sell More Books Show
- Video: Using Ai As A Writing Tool (Part 1 Of 8) by Mira Gold for AI Writers Connection
- Video: We Just Got Two Awesome Announcements For Ai Authors by Jason Hamilton for The Nerdy Novelist
- What Makes Airships Cool? by Oren Ashkenazi for Mythcreants
- Video: World Building &Amp; Writing: Show, Don’t Tell Through Examples by Marie Mullany for Just In Time Worlds
- Video: Write 10,000 Words In Seconds With This Gpt by Jason Hamilton for The Nerdy Novelist
- Writing A Sympathetic Antagonist by Kristin South for Writer Unboxed
- Your Book Means Something by James Scott Bell for Killzoneblog.com
- Your Character’s Faith (Or Lack Thereof) by David Corbett for Writer Unboxed
- Agents And Editors Aren’t Always Right About Market Potential by Jane Friedman for Jane Friedman
- Judges Don’t Read Prize Entries Shock And New Indie Bestseller Chart by Dan Holloway for Self Publishing Advice
- 15 Smart Author Marketing Strategies To Use In 2024 by Penny Sansevieri for Writers In The Storm
- Survey Results: The State Of Indie Authorship by Clayton Noblit for Written Word Media
- Social Media For Authors: Creating Engaging Instagram And Tiktok Content by Elena Rapovets for The Book Designer
- Podcast: The One Where Bestseller Caz Frear Explains Why She Submitted A Novel For Awards Before She Actually Wrote It by J.D. Barker, Christine Daigle, JP Rindfleisch, Kevin Tumlinson, and Patrick O’Donnell for Writers, Ink.
- The Real Value Of A Professional Book Cover: Unveiling Its Marketing Power by Elena Rapovets for The Book Designer
- Video: I Got 326 Downloads Of My Book In Just One Week | Authortube Book Marketing Experiment by Estelle Van de Velde for Estelle Van de Velde
- Video: Audio Alchemy: Fine-Tune Your Audiobook Files by S.D. Huston for S.D. Huston
- Selling Direct, Tiktok Shop, And Taking Ownership Of Your Sales With Adam Beswick by Sacha Black for Sacha Black
- Video: Positioning Your Book For Book Marketing Success by Sarah Bean for Book Launchers
- How To Find Time For Book Promotion by Sandra Beckwith for Build Book Buzz
- 12 Surprises I Found Marketing My Debut Novel by Jacqui Murray for A Writer’s Path
- Video: Selling Books Direct With Bookvault by Mark Dawson and James Blatch for Self Publishing Formula
- Marketing, How Do I Hate Thee? Let Me Count The Ways by Piper Bayard for Writers In The Storm
- Bring Back The Backlist by Robin Currie for Almost An Author
- How To Write An Author Bio [With Examples And Templates] by Dave Chesson for Kindlepreneur
- Video: How To Launch Your Book Like Alex Hormozi by Julie Broad for Book Launchers
- Video: Smashwords End Of Year Sale – How To Sell More Books by Mark Leslie Lefebvre, Jim Azevedo, and Mark Coker for Draft2Digital
- Update On The Eu’s Ai Bill by Dan Holloway for Self Publishing Advice
- Podcast: Hotsheet Launches Indie Bestseller Lists by Dan Holloway for Self Publishing Advice
- 4 Things I’ve Learned About Blogging by Michael Cristiano for A Writer’s Path
- Who Needs A Literary Agent Anyway? Do They Deserve That Percentage? by Anne R. Allen for Anne R. Allen’s Blog… with Ruth Harris
- Video: 5 Reasons I Don’t Format My Books With Microsoft Word When Self-Publishing by Mandi Lynn for Mandi Lynn
- Video: How I’m Changing My Instagram Strategy In 2024 by Shaelin Bishop for Marketing by Shelby
We subscribe to more than 180 writing advice sites and gather the best posts for you every single Sunday. You can see all the previous writing advice of the week posts here and subscribe to the RSS feed for this writing advice series here (direct Feedly signup link).
Are we missing any writing advice sites? Email [email protected] or leave a note in the comments below.
Or watch Fallon discuss this week’s writing advice in the video below: