So, you’re sitting down at your computer or you’ve grabbed your notebook, and you’re determined to write.
I’ll just check socials for a minute, you think. It won’t take long.
Then a minute goes by. Five minutes. Ten. An hour.
And that quick socials check turns into a rabbit hole of unproductivity such that you never get around to writing.
Last year, I worked with an author who, in her words, couldn’t get out of her own way. She was sitting down to write pretty regularly, but as she wrote, she became distracted by tangential thoughts that compounded until she was paralyzed by choice. There was simply too much to cover and knowing what to write was no longer straightforward, so she turned to the internet for inspiration, and . . . well . . . she ended up working with me for a reason.
She needed structure.
Distractions are a part of everyday life, and we navigate around them in our imperfect ways, as needed, to get through the day to day. Being distracted may be a sign that you need more sleep, had too much caffeine, or may be experiencing a hormone shift, a nutrient deficiency, or something else.
I get it. We’re all humans at the mercy of our very (sometimes painfully) human bodies.
But when distractions are constantly hampering your writing, stop and ask yourself whether your being easily distractable is actually a sign that something is missing from your story even if you haven’t identified that something yet.
- Do you know enough about your characters to write them well?
- How about the plot, do you know what comes next?
- Are your settings pulling their emotional weight?
To shake off the chaos resulting in distraction and get back to it, Rose Atkinson-Carter for Elizabeth Spann Craig shares 4 Odd Writing Tips That Really Work, and one of her tips may be the thing that jumpstarts your writing again — even if it’s just to discover what’s missing.
Rose seems to be a champion of the unconventional and offers a few ways to trick your brain out of the mundane and into the creative. (And if you’ve any inkling that a lack of structure may be your issue, Rose’s number 4 is a great way to systematically work through your story to find the sticky spots holding you back.)
Now, once you move past your distractibility and are actually making progress, don’t thwart your own work by tagging your inner editor too soon, especially if your inner editor is anywhere as nitpicky (and cranky) as mine.
Daphne Gray-Grant for Publication Coach shares More Ways To Silence Your Inner Editor While You’re Writing, and this article will have you besting your own mindset. I mean, when was the last time you purposefully disobeyed yourself? Or sang yourself out of negativity?
Daphne’s tips are designed to get you to recognize editing as a separate process from your writing, which is key not only to finishing a piece of writing but to finishing and revising it well
After all, if you’re stuck editing a single paragraph or chapter that doesn’t feel quite right, you can’t write the next one. So find whatever method works for you to tap into your creative flow and unleash those words.
And just in case this isn’t clear already, avoid rushing.
Writing takes time. Revising and refining take even more time, about twice as long as the writing. Rushing to publish may mean publishing a book that isn’t reader-ready. And once you lose a reader, you may never get them back.
Angela Ackerman for Writers Helping Writers echoes the sentiment in her article, The One Rule No Writer Should Break. And she provides more reasons why rushing can crush your writing career. From increasing the expense of professional editing to sky-high levels to leaving you vulnerable to publishing scams, rushing may lead you down a path you otherwise would not dare take to get your book into the world.
Beyond the potential issues left open for your future readers, rushing also invites a lot of pressure to come down on your writerly shoulders, especially if agents or editors feel the rush while reading your book and provide feedback on your manuscript that is less than stellar. So don’t take the wind out from under your own wings before you get a chance to flap them.
Now, if you’ve already received some not-so-stellar feedback on your manuscript from an agent or editor or worse — not-so-stellar reviews on your published book — rushing may not be the only reason, if it’s a factor at all.
Check out The Most Common Reasons A Book Gets Negative Reviews by Andrea Moran for Insecure Writer’s Support Group to see if you can pinpoint the source of your not-so-great review. Whether there’s a genre mismatch, a cast of unlikeable characters, or a lack of attention to detail, the reviewer hopefully left a nugget of helpful information you can use for the next go-round.
And remember that writing is an act of bravery, and to be brave, one must face a challenge. I believe that for every piece of writing produced, even the not-so-stellar pieces, there is at least one reader ready to devour it.
Your negative review may be the challenge you need to brush off those negativity demons and stand confidently atop your story and stylistic choices. After all, the victors don’t rise to the top without adversity. They thrive on it.
But before you puff up your own ego until it resembles something from Mars Attacks, make sure the negative review didn’t come about because you’ve confused your reader. Nathan Bransford shares Six Reasons You’re Confusing The Reader.
To be fair on yourself, know that to assess possible confusion points, you need to create some objective distance between yourself and your story. So take a break first. Then, crack open that book with the curious eye of a skilled detective solving a mystery.
Have you lost sight of what’s on the page?
Or broken the viewpoint perspective?
How precise is your delivery?
Once you’ve identified the potential confusion point for readers, acknowledge it, learn from it, and move past it. But use those lessons when writing your next book so it hits the mark more toward the reader bullseye rather than the outer rim.
If your confusion point exists in characterization and conversation, check out the video, How To Use Dialogue Tags In Your Writing (&When Not To) by Claire Fraise for Write with Claire Fraise, which covers common dialogue tags that fade into the background and uncommon ones that stick out to readers like a neon bandage.
And if the confusion exists at the functional level, perhaps the podcast episode, Save The Cat! Troubleshooting Common Plot Problems With Jessica Brody by Savannah Gilbo for Fiction Writing Tips, is best to help you work through your structure and find any lingering wonky bits in your story you can revise for reader clarity.
And if both your characters and overall structure are working well, how hard have you scrutinized your theme? Does the book communicate what you want it to communicate? Check out the video, Worldbuilding Pitfalls: The Mistake Of The Unintended Message by Marie Mullany for Just In Time Worlds, which works for both fantasy and sci-fi worldbuilding, as well as world building for contemporary works.
As always, there was a lot of advice I couldn’t share this week, so check the links below for added nuggets of awesome.
More Productivity Advice for the Week
- 15 Fabulous Writing Conferences And Workshops In February 2024 by Erica Verrillo for Publishing … and Other Forms of Insanity
- 4 Odd Writing Tips That Really Work by Rose Atkinson-Carter for Elizabeth Spann Craig
- 5 Tips to Effectively Juggle Writing Projects by Ane Mulligan for The Write Conversation
- 5 Ways To Make A Writing Retreat Pay Off by Amy Goldmacher for Jane Friedman
- 8 Of The Best Books On Confidence by Bryn Donovan for Bryn Donovan
- DIY Writing Sanctuaries: Converting Spaces Into Inspiring Author Retreats by Amanda Winstead for Almost An Author
- More Tips On How To Stop Procrastinating by Ann Gomez for Publication Coach
- More Ways To Silence Your Inner Editor While You’re Writing by Daphne Gray-Grant for Publication Coach
- Ready, Set … Not Ready? Not Yet? by William F. Wu for Writers In The Storm
- Stop Procrastinating And Write Something Today! by Edie Melson for The Write Conversation
- Stress Relief For Writers by Glen C. Strathy for How to Write a Book Now
- Take Smaller Steps by Rochelle Melander for Write Now Coach!
- Tell Me Again, Why Do We Do This Writing Thing? by Donna Jo Stone for Almost An Author
- The One Rule No Writer Should Break by Angela Ackerman for Writers Helping Writers
- Podcast: The One Where Author Brock Swinson Explains How To Defend Your Time And Get The Writing Done by J.D. Barker, Christine Daigle, and JP Rindfleisch for Writers, Ink.
- Podcast: When To Quit by Thomas Umstattd Jr. for Author Media
- Writing Blues: Get Inspired During After-Holiday Lows by Kris Maze for Writers In The Storm
- Writing With Intentionality by Julie Christine Johnson for Writer Unboxed
- Video: Your Writing Will Never Be The Same: Writing With Pen and Paper by Brenden Pugh for Writing Quest
More Craft Advice for the Week
- Writing Multiple Plotlines: Everything You Need To Know by K. M. Weiland for Helping Writers Become Authors
- Circling Conflicts vs. Zigzagging Conflicts by September C. Fawkes for September C. Fawkes
- The Most Common Reasons A Book Gets Negative Reviews by Andrea Moran for Insecure Writer’s Support Group
- Make Your Writing Sparkle By Avoiding Filter Words by Daphne Gray-Grant for Publication Coach
- What Do You Think of the Term ‘Villain Protagonist?’ by Oren Ashkenazi for Mythcreants
- Video: How To Plan And Structure Multiple Plotlines In Your Stories by K.M. Weiland for K.M. Weiland
- Brainstorming Your Perfect Protagonist by C. S. Lakin for Live Write Thrive
- How Much Description Does Your Book Need? by PJ Parrish for Killzoneblog.com
- Six Reasons You’re Confusing The Reader by Nathan Bransford for Nathan Bransford
- Video: The 4 Books I’m Reading In 2024 To Expand My Writing Practice by Brenden Pugh for Writing Quest
- Video: Unleash Your Inner Editor (And Kill Your Darlings) with SJ Watson by Martin Cavannagh for Reedsy
- Podcast: How To Write Horror With Jesse D’angelo by Sacha Black for Sacha Black
- Adverbs Are Fine! by Philip Athans for Fantasy Author’s Handbook
- Video: How To Use Dialogue Tags In Your Writing (&When Not To) by Claire Fraise for Write with Claire Fraise
- Podcast: Save The Cat! Troubleshooting Common Plot Problems With Jessica Brody by Savannah Gilbo for Fiction Writing Tips
- Video: 7 Antagonist Mistakes New Fantasy Writers Make by Jed Herne for Jed Herne
- Video: Worldbuilding Pitfalls: The Mistake Of The Unintended Message by Marie Mullany for Just In Time Worlds
- Designing Thriller And Mystery Twists That Work by Samantha Skal for Jane Friedman
- Tension And The Power Of Unanswered Questions by Angela Ackerman for Writers Helping Writers
- Avoiding Awkward (Or Unnecessary) Internal Questions by Janice Hardy for Fiction University
- How To Kill Your Darlings by Tiffany Yates Martin for FoxPrint Editorial
- Video: Is Fictionary Worth It? | Fiction Editing Software by Dale L. Roberts for Self-Publishing with Dale
- Video: I Put Every Story Structure Together In One by Jason Hamilton for The Nerdy Novelist
- Video: What Kind Of Editing Is Actually Essential? by Rachael Herron for Rachael Herron YouTube channel
- Can You Use AI In Fiction Writing? by Nicholas C. Rossis for Story Empire
- Brainstorming Characters That Leap Off The Pages by Maggie Smith for Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers
- Ways To Know Your Characters, Part 1- Background by Ellen Buikema for Writers In The Storm
- Language And Worldbuilding by Pekoeblaze for A Writer’s Path
- Showing Vs. Telling by Ryan Lanz for A Writer’s Path
- Five Ways To Strengthen Your Endings by Stavros Halvatzis for Stavros Halvatzis
- Choosing The Right Story: Three Questions Every Writer Should Ask by Zena Dell Lowe for The Write Conversation
- Turning The Page Into A Canvas by Mark Shatz and Bob Eckstein for Writer’s Digest
- Questions For Worldbuilding The Concept Of Wisdom by Roel Twen Karstenberg for Mythic Scribes
- Dialogue Mistakes by Oren Ashkenazi, Chris Winkle, and Bunny for Mythcreants
- Five Stories With Urgency Problems And How To Fix Them by Oren Ashkenazi for Mythcreants
- Lessons From The Dramatic Writing Of Let The Sky Fall by Chris Winkle for Mythcreants
- Video: Breaking Bad’s Epic Suspense: How To Achieve It by Stavros Halvatzis for Get Writing
- Video: Adverbs — Should You Use Them In Your Writing? by Claire Fraise for Write with Claire Fraise
- Video: 5 Worst Romance Cliches by Brandon McNulty for Writer Brandon McNulty
- Video: Every Author Should Use This ChatGPT Prompt by Jason Hamilton for The Nerdy Novelist
- Video: How To Develop A Book Idea by Shaelin Bishop for Reedsy
- Video: Master Great Dialogue: 2 Expert Tips To Upgrade Your Writing by Tim Grahl for Story Grid
- Video: Live Stream: Using Social Hierarchies As A Culture Building Tool by Marie Mullany for Just In Time Worlds
- Video: How To Create Compelling Male Characters | Why Your Male Characters Are Falling Flat by Shirley Jump for Write Better Fiction with Shirley Jump
- Seven Ways To Write About Sex by Ruth Harris for Anne R. Allen’s Blog… with Ruth Harris
- 4 Mistakes To Avoid When Writing Dialogue by Rose Atkinson-Carter for A Writer’s Path
- How To Write A Psychological Thriller (By An Author Who’s Written 7 Of Them & And Counting!) by Lucy V Hay for Bang2write
More Business Advice for the Week
- Podcast: Direct Sales And Merchandising For Authors With Alex Kava by Joanna Penn for The Creative Penn
- Five Things I Learned Kickstarting A Novel by John Hartness for Terribleminds
- How To Monitor Results Of Ad Campaigns In Your KDP Dashboard by Grant Shepherd for Written Word Media
- Video: Storyorigin – A Tool For Managing Beta Readers by Julie Broad for Book Launchers
- Video: The Skeptics Are Wrong! Books Are A $98 Billion Dollar Industry by Tim Grahl for Story Grid
- Ghostwriting Trends: A Report From The Gathering Of The Ghosts In New York City by Josh Bernoff for Jane Friedman
- Podcast: How To Get Started With Amazon Ads by Dale L. Roberts and Holly Greenland for Self Publishing Advice
- How To Find A Literary Agent by Scott McCormick for BookBaby Blog
- Writing: Outsmart The Scammers by Linda S. Clare for Linda S. Clare
- How To Sell Self-Published Books To Bookstores by Penny Sansevieri for Author Marketing Experts, Inc.
- Podcast: Publishing Trends & Author Ad School With Jeffrey Mason by Bryan Cohen and H. Claire Taylor for Sell More Books Show
- Video: Direct Sales On Story Origin by A. F. Stewart for A. F. Stewart
- Video: Top Tips For Self-Publishing Authors In 2024 by M.K. Williams for M.K. Williams
- Video: Unpacking Broad Vs Niche Keywords by S.D. Huston for S.D. Huston
- Create A Fascinating Marketing Plan by W. Terry Whalin for Almost An Author
- Eight Indie Author Conferences To Attend In 2024 by Clayton Noblit for Written Word Media
- 4 Things I’d Do Differently While Querying by Lindsay Lovise for Writer’s Digest
- Video: Automating Amazon Ads With Merch Jar With Cameron Scott by James Blatch for Self Publishing Formula
- Why (And How) Writers Should Master WordPress by Alex J. Coyne for FundsforWriters
- Podcast: Campaigns And Collaboration by Orna Ross and Melissa Addey for Self Publishing Advice
- Do Genre Categories Work For Indie Authors? by Steve Shahbazian for Self Publishing Advice
- Podcast: Special Editions And Direct Engagement May Be The Answer To Stagnating Book Prices by Howard Lovy for Self Publishing Advice
- Is Selfpub3’S Emphasis On Direct Reader Relationships The Answer To Stagnating Book Prices? by Dan Holloway for Self Publishing Advice
- Podcast: A Creative Approach To Generative Ai In Book Cover Design With James Helps by Joanna Penn for The Creative Penn
- Ask The Book Doctor: About Agents And Publishers by Bobbie Christmas for WOW! Women On Writing Blog
- Picking A Good Tag Line by Alan Baxter for Alan Baxter – Warrior Scribe
- Podcast: The Secrets To Pricing Your Book For Success by Penny Sansevieri for Author Marketing Experts, Inc.
- Collaborative Book Marketing: Partnering With Authors To Increase Visibility by Shannon Clark for The Book Designer
- Visual Branding by James Scott Bell for Killzoneblog.com
- 85 Writing Contests In February 2024 – No Entry Fees by Erica Verrillo for Publishing … and Other Forms of Insanity
- Podcast: Moving Beyond ‘Likes’ To Real Connections With Readers by Dan Blank for WeGrowMedia
- Video: 5 Things To Know About Book Printing by Julie Broad for Book Launchers
- Video: From Traditional To Indie Publishing With Jeaniene Frost by Mark Leslie Lefebvre for Draft2Digital
- Video: Better Book Descriptions On Amazon Using AI by Dale L. Roberts for Self-Publishing with Dale
- Video: The Best Money A Writer Can Spend? by Stephen Aryan for Stephen Aryan
- Video: A Deep Dive On Starting, Growing, And Managing Your Subscription with Spencer Russell Smith by Michael Evans for Subscriptions for Authors
- Video: How Fandom Marketing Can 10x Your Author Business with Arielle Bailey by Michael Evans for Subscriptions for Authors
- Video: How An Urban Fantasy Author With 3 Subscriptions Makes $100k/Year with R.J. Blain by Michael Evans for Subscriptions for Authors
- Video: Where To Start Publishing Your First Book … All You Need To Know! by Shar Barratt, Trudi Jaye and Wendy Vella for Self Publishing Info with the SPA Girls
- Video: Launching A Book (How I Get Thousands Of Preorders!) by Shelby Leigh for Marketing by Shelby
- Podcast: The Debut That Sold Four Million with Shari Lepena by Mark Desvaux for The Bestseller Experiment
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