The 4 Things You Need for Writing Success

It’s that time of year again! I’m bringing back the series of posts I wrote nearly ten years ago to help you strategically plan your writing career. It helps to assess where you’ve been on your journey and what you envision for the new year. Dive in!

Since 2022 is winding down and many of us start looking ahead to a new year with hope, anticipation, and uncertainty, I want to devote the last few posts of this year to something I feel is essential for all writers (and probably for just about everyone with any career goals whatsoever): strategic planning.

Some of you are probably groaning, for planning sounds a lot like plotting or marketing or promoting—just another thing that times time, effort, and yes—thought! Strategic planning sounds “corporate” to me—all business and no fun. Certainly not as much fun as just winging it with my writing in a creative flair without caring what the future holds.

But most of us have some goals for our writing life. Maybe they’re a bit vague, like we want to become best-selling authors, or we want a lot of fans. I’d like to propose that in order to really succeed in your writing career, though, you really need to get a little more specific. Continue Reading…

5 World-Building Tips to Write a Captivating Novel

Today’s guest post is by Dario Villirilli.

In storytelling, world building is the process of constructing an (often imaginary) world in which the story takes place. The art of creating new worlds is essential for  the sci-fi or fantasy writer, but it’s helpful for writers of other genres too, as it is part and parcel of crafting powerful settings.

Mastering world building, however, can be quite a challenge: for entirely fictional worlds, you’ll have to introduce lots of novel concepts and details without confusing, overwhelming, or boring the reader (whereas setting your story in our world can be slightly more straightforward).

So, if you want to learn more about it or simply improve your craftsmanship, here are five tips to create fascinating new worlds.

1.   Draw inspiration from real places.

It might seem daunting to imagine a brand-new environment, but it doesn’t have to be. Our own planet has plenty of unique and awe-inspiring places that might as well belong on another planet. Take the dramatic Zhangjiajie mountains in northeast China (which inspired Avatar’s Pandora), the Peruvian city of Huacachina, built in a desert oasis, or the Mars-like landscape of the Atacama desert in Chile—aren’t they “out of this world”?

So, put your Curious Researcher’s hat on, and start Googling places that could inspire your story. Spend some time learning about the flora, fauna, and customs of people living in those areas. Keep your favorite details, and build on top of them by adding layers of new technology and magic.

Having a reference point will help you detail your world faster and better bring your setting to life. You’ll be able to create something that stretches the reader’s imagination … but still feels real. Continue Reading…

How to Write When You Don’t Want To: An Uncommon Approach

Today’s guest post is by Michelle Boyd.

It’s early. The apartment is quiet. My calendar’s clear and my phone’s on Do Not Disturb. I’ve got all the time in the world to write … but I don’t want to.

It doesn’t matter that the conditions are perfect, or that I’ve been looking forward to this quiet time for days. The fact is, I’m dreaming of my winter garden. I’m busy planning holiday menus. And there’s a knitting project calling to me from the comfy chair in my living room.

It all adds up to the same old thing: I want the writing to be done. But I don’t want to have to do it.

When this happens, I sometimes go down a dreadful path, berating and judging myself, wondering why I’m being so “lazy.” I do this even though I know, from research, personal experience, and a decade coaching other writers that there are kinder, more effective strategies for getting ourselves to write when we don’t want to.

The one I’d like to suggest? Lie. Continue Reading…

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