10 Tips on Writing – and Writing More

NUMBER 10 – Write in Bursts

One of the biggest keys to being a productive writer is to make time to write. If you want to be really efficient, set aside blocks of time to write. Most of us (according to all of the productivity articles on the Lifehacker website) have trouble being efficient for longer than 60 to 90 minutes at a time.

Knowing this is a writer’s kryptonite, grab your timer and set it for 60 to 90 minutes, whatever is the longest you can achieve. Don’t go longer than that, the mind gets fatigued. Take at least a 20 minute break if you want to keep going.

The other important factor is isolation. Make sure you’ve got your research out of the way. Stay away from Social Media as long as that timer is going. Even one burst with a timer will very likely get you 2000 words for the day on the first pass.

 NUMBER 9 – Track Your Word Count

Every day, get your word count put into a spreadsheet and track your productivity. You will also be able to see if your writing is getting faster. It will also help you to know if you are meeting your personal goals.

 NUMBER 8 – Take Breaks

This goes along with number 10. Take breaks. Give your mind a chance to recover. When you walk away from your work, you might find inspiration and discover new things to throw at your protagonist. It doesn’t matter what you do with your time, and if you are like me, you’ll keep thinking about the book anyway. Go outside, take a shower, go for a walk. Give your mind a break from the writing and let it dream again.

 NUMBER 7 – Write Where You can Be Alone

Okay, I know some of you like to work in coffee bars or around the public. I, however, find it better to work someplace where I can let my work affect me. I am sensitive to the emotions within my writing, and I don’t want others staring at the stupid faces I’m making while writing. If I have to block out my emotions because I’m writing around others, I’ll probably block out being able to properly express those emotions in my book. I don’t like to be disturbed.

 NUMBER 6 – Put Emotion in Your Book

Do you want people to remember your book? Put emotion in it. Fill it with feels. Loss, Pain, Love, Angst, Fear, Hope. Lay it on thick. Who cares about your conflict if the reader can’t feel it too?

 NUMBER 5 – No Worries

Want to never finish your book? Worry about what the reader will think of the book, or worse, you (!), before you’ve ever finished it. You are not your art. Create it and let it stand on its own.

If you really don’t want to worry about what others think, hurry up and write another book. It’s easy to be married to one book. If you write multiple titles, you’re not tied to the likes and hates of that single title. You’ll move on. It’s rough getting a bad review, but not so bad when it’s just a fragment of your catalogue. And here’s an obvious secret – your writing gets better the more you write. Your next book will be better than your last. That’s how it works.

 NUMBER 4 – Don’t Worry About Book Length

NaNoWrimo says a novel is 50,000 words. Publishing Houses like 80,000 words. Guess what? Many readers also like 20,000 word books. I’m one of them. So what if it’s not novel length? Paintings come in different sizes too. Don’t worry about norms. You may have to write to the length of how you plan to sell it. I self-publish so I don’t worry.

 NUMBER 3 – The Rewrite

There’s probably something missing from your book. You’ll know it by the time you get to the last chapter. It may feel daunting to do the rewrite, but it’s not so bad. Most of the writing is done. Get in there, put in the missing details, and make your work shine.

The rewrite is a big deal because when I first start writing, I would let myself get bogged down that I didn’t have a perfect book on the first pass. Don’t even bother sending it to your editor and proofreaders until you’ve done that first rewrite. You’ll be wasting everyone’s time. Don’t settle for that first pass “good enough”.

 NUMBER 2 – Finish What You Start

So you are a writer, huh? How many works in progress do you have? I have a ton of WIP’s too, and eventually you have to settle on getting one of them done. You can have an entire harddrive full of unfinished works of stories that sounded great in your mind. They’ll never know greatness if you don’t do something about it.

 NUMBER 1 – BIC

BIC means Butt in Chair. Just write. You’ve seen the quotes – It’s that simple, and that hard. All of the other tips support this one. Find out what works for you and do it. Do whatever makes you write. There are a million distractions. Don’t look for excuses not to write, find excuses to write.

Advertisements

Comparing Hockey & Writing – A Guest Post by Luke Murphy

Today I have a guest post for you from Luke Murphy, retired professional hockey player and author of the thriller DEAD MAN’S HAND
IMG_5365

It can almost be said with certainty that I didn’t follow the path of the average writer. As a child, I never dreamed of writing a best-seller, never aspired to write the next classic novel, I wanted to be an NHL superstar…period.

With the death of my mother in 1992, losing a battle to cancer she had fought so hard against for years, I sensed it was time to get serious about reaching my dreams, and moved away to pursue hockey.

From 1992-1995, while playing for the Pembroke Lumber Kings in the Central Junior Hockey League, I noticed a shift in the game of hockey and realized that the odds of making it to the NHL were unfavorable for a kid who stood 5’9’’ and weighed 160 pounds. So, my goals shifted. I accepted a hockey scholarship to Rochester Institute of Technology. If I couldn’t make a living playing hockey, at least I could achieve an education and open doors for my future.

After four rewarding years at College, receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing, I wasn’t ready to give up on the game I love.

I attended the Florida Panthers Rookie Camp and played well, playing in four games, as well as scoring the game winning goal against the Ottawa Senators.

Unfortunately, I broke my hand in an awkward hit in my fourth exhibition game that ended my camp, but my hard work paid off. The Panthers offered me a Minor League contract, $500 a week to play the game I love. I spent six years in the minors and retired in 2006 with no regrets.

From a family of avid readers, even as a child, I always had a passion for books. Whether it was reading novels on road trips or writing assignments in school, literature was always part of my life.

In the winter of 2000, after sustaining a season ending eye injury while playing in Oklahoma City, I found myself with a lot of time on my hands, and a new hobby emerged.

One day, with an idea in mind, I sat down in front of a computer and began writing. I wrote a little every day, around my intense rehabilitation schedule and before I knew it, I had completed my first manuscript.

I didn’t write with the intention of being published. I wrote for the love of writing, as a hobby. Ever the perfectionist, I didn’t see my novel at the level to compete with best-selling authors across the country. I continued to hobby write through the years, honing my craft, making time between work and family obligations.

Then I made a decision – I enjoyed writing so much, I decided I wanted to take my interest one step further – write a story with the intention of being published. I realized that I wanted to be like my favorite authors – entertain readers and allow them, like when I read, to escape reality and for a moment be in another place and time.

I’ve never been one to take things lightly or jump in half way. I took a full year off from writing to study the craft. I constantly read, from novels in my favorite genres to books written by experts in the writing field. I continually researched on the internet, reading up on the industry and process. I attended writing conferences and made friends (published and unpublished authors), bombarding them with questions and learning what it took to become successful.

Feeling that I was finally prepared, in the winter of 2007, with an idea in mind and an outline on paper, I started to write DEAD MAN`S HAND. It took me two years (working around full time jobs) to complete the first draft of my novel.

I then worked with editors and joined a critique group, doing anything I could to learn, to improve my writing and my novel to point where I could create the best possible novel.

I sent out hundreds of query letters to agents. After six months of rejections, I pulled my manuscript back and worked on it again. Then in my next round of proposals, I was offered representation by Ms. Jennifer Lyons of the Jennifer Lyons Literary Agency.

After months of work with Jennifer, and more rejections from publishers, my dream was finally realized in April, 2012, when I signed a publishing contract with Imajin Books.

The term “practice makes perfect” can basically relate to anything you do. Hockey and writing are no different.

Many people might not see a connection between writing and hockey, but there are many similarities in not only your preparation, but “musts” once you’re there.

In both hockey and writing, you need three things: patience, persistence and thick skin.

My transition from professional hockey player to published author was surprisingly smooth. Hockey and writing have many things in common.

For both, it takes hard work and practice. There are many critics, and you need to be able to take criticism with a grain of salt. Both the hockey and writing worlds are small communities, filled with people who want to help you succeed. In order to find success, in both you need to be persistent and confident.

It’s all about taking a chance, putting yourself out there to be evaluated by your peers. That’s the scariest part.

It takes time to get “good” at something. I started writing when I was young and playing professional hockey. A couple of hours a day on the ice and in the gym and then the day was mine. I also suffered a serious eye injury and couldn`t play, so I had a lot more time on my hands. Now that I`m older, with a family and full time job, makes it a lot harder to find the time to write. Take advantage and chase your dreams while you’re young.

My one piece of advice for all aspiring hockey players and writers…you’ll get a lot of “no’s” along the way and people trying to bring you down. But remember, it only takes one “yes”. Stick with it. Anything is possible. It’s all about “staying the course” and not getting off track. Have no regrets and leave nothing on the table.

——————–

Luke Murphy lives in Shawville, Quebec with his wife, three daughters and pug.

He played six years of professional hockey before retiring in 2006. Since then, he’s held a number of jobs, from sports columnist to radio journalist, before earning his Bachelor of Education degree (Magna Cum Laude).

Murphy`s debut novel, Dead Man`s Hand, was released by Imajin Books on October 20, 2012.

For more information on Luke and his books, visit: www.authorlukemurphy.com, ‘like’ his Facebook page www.facebook.com/#!/AuthorLukeMurphy and follow him on Twitter www.twitter.com/#!/AuthorLMurphy

———–

DEAD MAN’S HAND

What happens when the deck is stacked against you…

From NFL rising-star prospect to wanted fugitive, Calvin Watters is a sadistic African-American Las Vegas debt-collector framed by a murderer who, like the Vegas Police, finds him to be the perfect fall-guy.

…and the cards don’t fall your way?

 When the brutal slaying of a prominent casino owner is followed by the murder of a well-known bookie, Detective Dale Dayton is thrown into the middle of a highly political case and leads the largest homicide investigation in Vegas in the last twelve years.

 What if you’re dealt a Dead Man’s Hand?

 Against his superiors and better judgment, Dayton is willing to give Calvin one last chance. To redeem himself, Calvin must prove his innocence by finding the real killer, while avoiding the LVMPD, as well as protect the woman he loves from a professional assassin hired to silence them.

  Review Blurbs:

 “You may want to give it the whole night, just to see how it turns out.”

—William Martin, New York Times bestselling author of The Lincoln Letter

“Dead Man’s Hand is a pleasure, a debut novel that doesn’t read like one,

but still presents original characters and a fresh new voice.”

—Thomas Perry, New York Times bestselling author of Poison Flower

“Part police procedural, part crime fiction, Dead Man’s Hand is a fast, gritty ride.”

—Anne Frasier, USA Today bestselling author of Hush