I’ve been writing for years, so the idea of teaching myself the habit of writing seemed ridiculous. But, that is currently the dilemma I’m facing. As any author knows, writing changes over your lifetime. There are times where you can sit down and write for eight hours straight. And then there’s times where you fit in five minutes every week.
I’m getting off a season of life that was the latter. I went from stealing away time to having almost two hours every day and more to write.
And suddenly, my fingers froze.
Do you know that feeling? It’s not quite writer’s block. I know what I want to write and even, shockingly, how to start. But diving in, immersing myself, feeling the keys beneath my fingers and letting myself sit in the world I create is intimidating.
So I’ve been slowly learning to write again. It starts with just a little bit. A page, a paragraph. I even reread the last few pages I wrote just to ground myself, whatever helps ease me in. I sit down, limit my distractions, and write. Write even when my brain is jumping to the list of chores I still need to do or what I want to pack for lunch or how loud the neighbor’s lawn mower is this morning (which is very, in case you’re wondering). I write even when it’s hard. Because deep down, I know that writing is my passion. My husband can attest, I will go on and on about my characters and my world. I love it.
And yet, I’m relearning it. Teaching myself to put in the time, put the effort in. I have a cup of coffee, some wordless music, and I write. And, word by word, I’m learning how to write again.
Have any of you felt like this? Do you have any tips or tricks that help when writing becomes hard or it’s just too easy to get distracted? Let me know in the comments, I would love to try them out!
Thanks for reading!
By: Jeremy C Kester
In the spaces where I’ve done my research, I’ve found quite a number of other writers who would argue that in every story I do, once I complete my first draft I should crumple it up, throw it out, and start fresh. The idea is predicated on advice to ignore quality (or rather, not to let it get in the way of progress) when attempting to complete the first draft.
I can’t say that I am a fan of that method. It would be a waste to just re-do it all, similar to throwing all that work away.
Though I won’t dare say that the first draft of any of my stories is a work of pristine art, I was more in favor of strategic editing, lopping off chunks or adding where needed to bolster the weak parts of the story. I would argue that there are great stretches in what I write that is worth keeping. Basically, I believe that the above advice to completely re-write the book from scratch \ was more for when one’s first draft was really bad. Like really bad— like where a surgery is more likely to kill the patient than the disease itself.
Still, I never considered it. Even when my first drafts were terrible, I stuck with the strategic editing concept… that is until I have a book with over 170,000 words staring at me with a plot that indeed went awry somewhere in there. It would take so much work that I realized something: they were right the whole time.
There’re a few projects of mine, particularly in the last year, that I plowed through the writing to get the draft done. When I was struggling with plot, I simply ran through. Eventually, when I finished these stories, I found that they were a teeny-bit away from the intentions I had put forward initially. My inadequate planning bit me in the ass. There was too much wrong to fix with simple editing. Yet, I became determined to try.
Gravity 3 was like that. As is Gravity 4, Gravity 5 (note that I am revamping that saga anyway, but this only reinforces that), Of Earth and Ice (a sci-fi epic I am working on), Antlers (a novella that I am not fully ready to say much about yet), and a few others. I learned to write a lot, and write a lot I did; although, I ended up failing at achieving the real goals I wanted to get to with those stories.
Without my planning, without the skills I’ve been working on to better the prep work before I start a project, I would have to become comfortable with the understanding that a crappy first draft would act as a substitute. It would install a rough skeletal structure to hang a re-draft onto, allowing me to take on re-writing I said project with more confidence. The first draft is the rough outline I needed to begin with.
I am throwing a lot of these projects away now (metaphorically speaking). Committing to a re-write just seems… right. Sure, it would be a lot of extra work, but wouldn’t the degree of editing I would have to do to bring a bad manuscript back in line be even more?
Today’s guest author is the talented Jeremy C Kester. To read more of his works and support a great writer, check out his site jeremyckester.com.
Jeremy C Kester is an independent writer living with his family in DuPage County, Illinois. He works as an engineer with a polyurethane chemical company while he obsesses about writing. Petting cats is another hobby he would love to have more time for if he wasn’t writing, spending time with family, reading, and drinking coffee.
Every writer wants to write the next bestseller but many lack the tools beyond natural talent. Here are the top ten items I’d recommend to help you create a work of art.
- A lamp to help your eyes
You most likely spend a large amount of time staring at a computer screen. Take care of your eyes and use a lamp that helps your eyes and makes you feel like you’re in the sunshine. It’ll boost productivity if you’re not fighting a headache from eye strain. This lamp has seven brightness levels, five color modes, and is adjustable so you can make it work exactly how you need it.
- A notebook designed for handling the weather
This notebook is perfect when you are ready to explore and research the nitty gritty, but don’t want nature to destroy your notes. It’s waterproof, resistant to tears, flexible, and dependable. Never worry about losing your story again.
- A planner to help you be a great writer but also to help you be a good human
My Brilliant Writing Planner wants you to be a phenomenal writer, but also a phenomenal person. It pairs a regular planner, a writing notebook (full of storyboards, habit trackers, and other useful tools), and a personal tracker (which helps you keep track of career goals, life activities, your spiritual life, and reflections).
- A character development journal
The journal will help you plot out a truly fleshed out character. Starting off with basic personal characteristics, it pushes deeper, providing prompts and ideas to create a well-rounded and deeply rooted character.
- Pens that are classic and stylish
I know, you may spend all your time typing on a keyboard, but picking one of these up will make you feel like you’ve been turned into one of the great authors of old. Plus, they’re stylish and make your desk look great.
- Headphones to keep the noise out and the fun going
As a writer, I tend to spend a lot of time listening to music and one of the worst feelings is jumping up for a cup of coffee and forgetting I’m tethered to my computer. These wireless headphones will block out sound so you can write in a busy coffee shop and still have the mobility to move about your home or office without worrying.
- A water bottle to stay hydrated and read great quotes
Keeping your body running well is important if you plan to pump out a novel. Staying hydrated will make you feel better, prevent headaches, and make your body work like it’s supposed to. It can be way too easy to forget to drink water, especially if you’re dehydrating yourself with coffee or other caffeinated products. Try this water bottle out which you’ll have a blast trying to read your favorite, redacted stories and will keep you in tip-top shape.
- An Emotional Wound Thesaurus to make your characters come to life
One of the most important parts of any story is the emotional experiences behind it. But if you don’t hold a degree in psychology or have gone through something personally, often times that emotional trauma can feel unrealistic or stereotyped when written out. This thesaurus gives you a crash course in the most common emotional wounds and helps you write them accurately. Readers will be able to connect much more deeply to characters that feel real and relatable.
- First Lines of Literature Mug
Whether you are a tea, coffee, or hot chocolate drinker, a mug with the first lines of some of the greatest novels of all time will help kick that writer’s block and inspire you to make your own bestseller.
- Writer’s Market
This is one of the most important tools in a writer’s kit. The Writer’s Market gives you a detailed description of publishing presses, magazines, and literary agents. Each entry provides pricing, what they publish, how to reach out to them (with contact information in some cases), the best way and time to send in your manuscripts, and a short description about them. This will save you an exponential amount of time in your publishing process. On top of that, Writer’s Market has a list of writing contests as well as a section on how to write a query letter and reach out to companies. Whether you are a first-time author or a well-seasoned novelist, this book is gold.
I hope you love the products I list here! Just so you know, I may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. Enjoy!
You may have heard that the golden rule for writing a relationship is that if they have to kiss for your reader to know they’re in love, you haven’t written a real relationship. But what does that actually look like? How do you write something that your readers will ship? Here are my top five steps to create a love story that your readers will fall in love with.
- Opposites attract but they must have something in common
A really common problem of book relationships is that the two characters are exact opposites. One is quiet, the other is loud. One likes rap, the other likes classical. One likes small towns, the other likes cities. Every single thing (or pretty close to it) is opposite. And while that can cause a spark of attraction initially, that’s it. Now they can have differences, in fact, they should. Just remember that being opposites and having differences are not the same thing. Differences are good and allow them to create a partnership where one is sometimes weak and the other strong and vice versa. But, when they are polar opposites, they are in constant opposition with each other and this is unsustainable for a relationship. Either it will feel completely forced and unrealistic or very toxic where one is constantly sacrificing who they are. Instead, allow them to have commonalities. Create situations where the characters can bond over things they have in common. Let them share a cup of coffee and talk about their love of travel. Have them bump into each other at a local spot that both of them love.
- Let them love the same things
Want to build some chemistry fast? Let your character and their love interest love the same things and realize this. My favorite way to do this is to let your protagonist describe something meaningful to them. A book that changed them, a song they listen to on repeat, a spot in town, etc. Then let them explain why they love this thing to someone besides the love interest. Then at some point, let the love interest explain why and how they love this same thing or place to the protagonist (though make sure the reasons aren’t identical. That feels forced.)
- Absence makes the heart grow fonder
When the love interest isn’t around, let the protagonist’s thoughts wander. This doesn’t always have to be romantic. “Ben would have already gotten us lost if he were here.” If you aren’t in a perspective that allows thoughts, let us see them talk aloud to someone else about them, especially if the other person isn’t the one who brings them up. “We need some computer expertise.” “Oh, I know someone who would be terrible. Sherry can barely email.” This works very well when the person talking about them either denies or hasn’t yet realized their feelings. It allows the reader to feel like they have figured something out and are knowledgeable about the character. This creates a great connection to the character and adds complexity to their emotions and actions.
- Action, actions, actions
Unless you are portraying a toxic relationship, words don’t mean anything if they aren’t backed up. Show your characters doing things for each other, helping with the dishes, braving the parent meetings, shoveling their drive, making them dinner. If the only time we see them acting loving towards each other is when they say I love you or have an intimate scene, you have a bad relationship on your hands.
- Don’t make it simple
Readers love a love story that doesn’t come easily. And one person being hesitant isn’t usually enough. Raise the stakes. Is there someone standing between them? An arranged marriage, a parent, etc. Is there a rule? Can’t date a boss or coworker, can’t date a client. Is there a personal issue? Health is taking them away, their families hate each other, they vowed to be single for x years. Make them overcome these challenges. This will have your reader rooting for the relationship. You want your reader to be emotionally invested in these characters. When things do work out, your reader will get a sense of victory, for themselves as the reader and for the characters.
Hi everyone. This post is for anyone who wants a realistic scene set in a cold climate. This is probably especially difficult for those coming from warm climates, so I’ll do my best. Here are five tips to your character (and readers).
(All temperatures in Fahrenheit)
- Shivering happens but don’t use that as your only way to convey the cold. Many people actually don’t shiver very much, while others tend to do the whole teeth chattering . It varies. Don’t make your character shiver every time you want to tell your reader its cold or it’s going to get boring and predictable.
- Some other physical reactions are a very red nose, cheeks that feel rubbed raw, a very warm mouth (since its the only part that will feel warm), fingers that move slowly, wet hair that actually freezes, burning earlobes, and burning toes. Though burning tends to feel like the opposite reaction to cold, often times when the cold gets to a point, it does truly feel like burning.
- DON”T simply tell us how your character feels though. If you want us to shiver along with them, tell us how the wind is whipping through the trees, creaking and groaning like an old rocking chair. Tell us how the snow sparkles with ice crystals, hardened so that the newly fallen snow bounces on the top every time a breeze stirs the air. Tell us how the snow seems to blaze in the sun, radiating a heat that tempts one to step outside yet saps the warmth the moment you do. Tell us how the snow falls, tiny little specs of ice floating down to land on a nose or a forehead, a single soldier in the army coming from the sky to cover the land in an icy grip.
- Clothing makes a difference. Wearing a big warm fluffy coat will help, but the key to staying warm (or freezing without) is layering. A character can survive even negative temperatures with a few pairs of socks, a few shirts, sweatshirts, and a regular coat. But remember, especially in the extreme cold, any uncovered part (nose, ears, cheeks) will get very cold, very quickly, even if the rest of you is warm. It’s an unpleasant feeling, trust me.
- Remember, not all cold is the same. Don’t just meld them all into the same thing. Some kinds of cold are :
- Icy and clear/windy- this is a painful cold, but usually leads to a burning feeling. This is where frostbite happens. Wind is worse when the day is clear because there is no other resistance. You become the only thing for it to batter against. (Actual: negatives to single digits. Feels like: extreme negatives)
- Icy and snowy- this is dangerous, but often times beautiful. When it’s extremely cold, snowflakes tend to be small, hard, and more like ice. This can be deceiving and can lead to extremely slippery conditions. (Negative to single digit)
- Cold and clear-this is the most normal. It’s cold, but the sun is out or it’s not precipitating. If your character is going on a journey or traveling, this will be the best kind of day. You can even get warm while doing things in this kind of day. (Mid-teens to high twenties)
- Cold and wet/snowing- This is the type of day where the temperatures are a little higher but because of that the snow is heavy, thick, and tends to be very wet. Despite not being very cold, this can be one of the most dangerous to be out in. You tend to get very wet in it and if you’re not properly prepared, this can lead to pneumonia or hypothermia. (High twenties to mid-thirties)
- Cold and wet/rain- It’s cold, yet it’s raining. Occasionally it feels more like sleet coming down. This is miserable. It’s not extremely cold but the rain makes everything wet. This is can also lead to pneumonia. An especially dangerous aspect is the fact that when the sun goes down, the rain tends to turn to ice on the roads, sidewalks, and other surfaces making everything extremely slick. (Low thirties to high thirties)
- There are many mixes of these and other types of cold depending on the climate you’re in.
Hope these tips help. Go out there and write some frigid scenes. If you have any other questions, you can comment here or shoot me a question on my contact page!