Category Archives: Enjoying Writing

7 retro blog posts you might like to check out

7 retro blog posts

When you’ve put a lot of effort into writing your blog posts, it can be difficult to lose them off the top page and awkward for visitors to your page to find and read them, unless of course, they found them through searching a specific topic in Google. So it is good to occasionally write a blog post review to search through your blog and find some of the highlights that may enjoy seeing the light of day again.

I have enjoyed searching through my blog and finding some of my highlights from recent years. Many of these were from a 30 day blogging challenge I undertook in 2016. Definitely think it’s time for another one!

  1. Great Hero Character Names

In this blog post, I wrote about some of my favourite character names in novels and why I liked them.

2. My Top 10 Fictional Villains

What is a hero without a villain to try to foil them? These are some of my favourite villains, but I know there are many more.

3. Writing Prompts, Story, part 1 and Story part 2, and Editing a Story

I’m cheating here – there are actually 4 blog posts in one go: writing prompts and parts 1 and 2 of a story. I had fun creating this. Then I wrote a further blog post, explaining how I might edit the story, having read it back and analysed what I had written.

4. Procrastination and the Writer

This blog post was one of the most popular on my blog at one point. I think it chimes with most people who want to be writers.

5. 30 Ways to find Blog Post Ideas

For those days when procrastination is at its highest…

6. Six Girl BFFs in Fiction

I love a story with a really good girl BFF in it and here are some of my favourites.

7. Ten of the Best Bromances in Fiction

You can’t leave the boys out! Here my top ten bromances in fiction too.

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The Writer vs the Blank Page

Writing vs the Blank Page

“You might not write well every day, but you can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.” (Jodie Piccoult)

It can be tough settling down to work, but there is nothing worse, as a writer, than settling down to write, then realising that you don’t know what you want to say. Facing a blank screen or blank page is almost guaranteeing that your brain will go blank too!

When I was young, there was something enjoyable at school about turning over a fresh new page to write on. I used my best handwriting, carefully drew the curliest ‘y’s and ‘g’s and tried to make sure that my work looked good. As a writer, there have been times when I have found myself with a little valued writing time, opened up a document and – nothing! All words have left me and it can feel very frustrating!

So why do writers put this pressure on ourselves? Why do we panic when faced with a blank page and what can we do about it?

There may be a few reasons why we freeze:

  • we genuinely don’t know where we want to go next in our writing
  • we are starting a new project but don’t know where to start
  • we need to do some research before we start writing
  • some other reason

Where do I go next in my writing?

You’ve opened up a blank document, but you really haven’t a clue where to continue on with your writing. How can you find a way around this and use your writing time productively? A good idea can be to always leave your work at a point where you have an idea where it is going to go next. So you are writing a story where the main character is going to visit her friend and chat about the leading love interest. If you leave your story where the main character knocks on the door of her friend, then you have something to start writing about straight away when you come back to your work. If however, you finish work at the end of a chapter, then it can be harder to come back in to a completely new one.

Similarly, if you are writing an article, try to write down some planning and research points rather than just plunging into the first paragraph. Of course, if a great idea for the first paragraph comes to you, then write it down, but if you normally find it hard to get going, then it is best to anticipate this and make sure that you are able to write something down. Often just getting going is a good way to overcome the blank page.

Starting a new project

Sometimes you want to start a new project, but you don’t know where to begin. You might have fragments of a story in mind, you could have an idea for a new blog post or you may have found a great title that you want to use in a piece of writing. The idea is sketchy and you are unsure where to go next with it.

Again, the trick is to release the pressure on yourself. No one is able to write a perfect first draft, so don’t worry if it’s a bit rough. Write notes, sketch out some characters or interview them, write some outlines, play with the concept. For blog posts, you can check out what other writers have written on the subject, to get some width on the subject, play with the title and list out the points you want to make. Try to always have something on the page, even if it eventually gets deleted.

Need to do some research

Some writers just go straight into a piece of writing, then they come up against a blocking point where they need to research in order to finish it. As a writer, you could look at the positive side – at least you wrote something down and are not faced with a blank piece of paper! By all means, go and find the answer to your question in a text book or search engine. Your work will be waiting for you when you come back. Sometimes it takes longer than you think to find the answer to something, so before you leave your work, write down some markers so that when you come back to it, you will be able to pick up your thought thread. Nothing worse than coming back to a piece of work, only to realise that you have absolutely no idea what you were going on about. Almost worse than that blank piece of paper!

Something Else

Insert your own reason here – for whatever reason, you find yourself facing a blank document with the blank brain to match. However, if you’ve been smart and paying and attention, you will have realised that this doesn’t need to be the case! You can leave yourself notes, character sketches, research notes and references or anything else that will help you pick up the work when you come back. If you are writing whole blog posts, then decide what the next topic is going to be and leave a title on a piece of paper along with a couple of references to remember where you planned to go next.

There is no need for a writer to be afraid of that blank piece of paper. It is just a blank page, waiting to be written on. If you find beginnings hard, then always start your beginning before ending your work for the night. Then you should always be able to spend that unexpected but welcome piece of writing time, productively.

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Ten of the best Bromances in Fiction

There’s something about a really good bromance that stirs the heart. Bromances have been a fiction winner ever since Jonathan & David way back in the time of Saul!

together by Z S on Flickr CC

These days we ship all kinds of bromances from TV series, books and films, but here are some of my favourite bromances from literature.

  1. Calvin & Hobbes by Bill Watterson. These two are not strictly a book but started life as a syndicated cartoon. I remember the very first one coming out and I was hooked! Calvin is a six year old American boy and Hobbes is his stuffed tiger. Hobbes comes alive whenever the two are playing together, but all Calvin’s parents ever see is Hobbes as a toy. The cartoons are funny, touching and true-to-life. Everyone needs a friend like Hobbes.
  2. Pooh & Piglet. Actually all the characters from Winnie the Pooh by AA Milne are wonderful friends. The stories are lovely and we can all relate to the characters. Winnie the Pooh is wonderfully self-deprecating (“a bear of very little brain”) but he loves nothing better than to play pooh sticks with his friends.
  3. Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham. I seem to be getting away from bromances at the moment, but hear me out. The joy of Toad’s friends trying to save him from his own foolishness never fails to delight me. The friends all have very different personalities, but they also have lots of fun together.
  4. Harry & Ron, Harry Potter series by JK Rowling. Harry meets Ron on the train to Hogwarts and it is the start of a beautiful friendship. I love that Ron is one of the youngest of a huge family and that he has everything passed down to him from his brothers. Harry may be able to afford everything new, but he would give it all up to have his parents back. They always watch out for one another and their friendship only grows stronger throughout their years at Hogwarts. Other bromances of note in the Harry Potter series include Fred and George Weasley and Sirius Black and Remus Lupin.
  5. Darcy & Bingley, Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen. These two friends are opposites – Bingley wears his heart on his sleeve, is handsome and affable, sociable and enjoys being in company. Darcy appears dark and brooding and is not willing to open up to anyone. He is however, very loyal to his friend, and although he made the wrong choice, being willing to upset the girl he loves in favour of his friend is a courageous thing to do.
  6. Sherlock & Watson, Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle. I’m not sure that anyone would ship these two from the original books, although their friendship is very clear in the stories. Interest has risen in these two characters through the recent TV adaption involving Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. Their characters are modern friends, with Dr Watson being the steadying hand on Holmes’ more manic personality. The original stories are well worth going back to even if it’s just to see which bits they ‘borrowed’ for the TV series.
  7. Percy & Grover, Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan. I love Rick Riordan’s series and have thoroughly enjoyed all the books. Percy and Grover have a great supportive friendship which lasts through all the different Greek monsters they meet.
  8. Frodo & Sam, Lord of the Rings by JR Tolkien. Although they are hobbits rather than people, I love the friendship between Frodo and Sam. Sam is just so loyal and Frodo would not have made it through the quest without Sam. Their loyalty and friendship is timeless.
  9. Hiccup & Toothless, How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell. If you have not yet introduced your junior age children to Cressida Cowell’s series, then do so immediately! Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III is the son of the chief Viking. The books are not the same stories as the films – they are better! The names of the characters are outrageous and hilarious in equal measure and the illustrations are wonderful. The friendship between Hiccup and Toothless is as loyal and true as any bromance should be.
  10. The Three Musketeers by Alexander Dumas is the ultimate bromance book – sword fighting, dastardly deeds, brave heroes and an anti-heroine – what more could you want? If your knowledge stops with the BBC TV series, then check out the books – yes he wrote more than one and they are a really good read. He also wrote The Man in the Iron Mask. I read them in my teens and now I come to think of it, I am definitely due a re-read. Enjoy!

So there, you have it – my top 10 bromances! There are loads I have missed out, so feel free to post your favourite literature bromances below.

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Four More Qualities of Successful Freelance Writers

Some people just find writing hard work. The physical effort of putting pen to paper or fingers to keypad just does not do it for them. They are unsure that what they are doing is correct and they find the very act of writing a chore. Other writers love it. They enjoy the physical act of writing, whether it’s on a computer or with a favourite pen and paper. They love the feeling of the words flowing out from the brain and onto the page.

By David Turnbull on Flickr CC
By David Turnbull on Flickr CC

Does that mean it’s always easy? No. Writers’ block is very real and it can sometimes be difficult to find just the right word for the sentence, or to work out exactly what it is that you want to say next, but the enjoyment of the physical act of writing just doesn’t go away, no matter how many words you write. If this is you, then you have the potential to be a freelance writer. Here are some more qualities that you will need:

  1. You enjoy learning about new and different things

If you want to write for a living and get paid for it, then you learn to write about many different things. Sometimes Writing Gurus suggest that the best way to get paid is to find a niche and become an expert writer in that niche. If in a previous life, you were an accountant or an insurance agent, then you might well have a niche if you can blog about your knowledge in an accessible way. Most of us do not have that background, however, so we need to discover what we enjoy writing about, and most importantly, what we can write well about. The ability to discover new, reliable sources as knowledge for what you have been asked to write is a very important part of being freelance writers. A future niche may grow out of that work, if you are engaged to write a lot of material in that area.

  1. You have confidence in Your Writing

Writing confidently is part of writing well. Knowing what you want to say and making sure that it reads well is important to a freelance writer. Offering your work through an editor can help you gain confidence in your writing. It is important that you let others read your work, as they can spot errors that you might not.

  1. You can Proofread Your Writing

On the subject of errors, it is important that you can spot simple grammatical and spelling errors. Spellcheck is a great tool and even those freelance writers who are confident in their writing, use it, but sometimes it will miss a homophone, or a word that sounds the same, but is spelled differently and has a different meaning.

  1. You can Take Criticism

Most freelance writers who have had any clients have not always produced every piece of work perfectly. Quite often a piece of work will be returned with requests for revisions. It’s how you take it which is important. Your client knows what they want, and if you are lucky, they will ask for it. It’s your job to write what they want so no matter whether you disagree with them or not, you should write to their specifications. Always be professional and polite because these clients are paying you to do a job. Always turn in the best work that you can do.

 

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Where Do Writers Write?

Writing on a mailbox desk by Julie Jordan Scott
Writing on a mailbox desk by Julie Jordan Scott

Roald Dahl famously had a chair in a hut at the bottom of the garden where he wrote his wickedly funny stories. Ernest Hemmingway wrote standing up as did Victor Hugo, the creator of Frankenstein. Charles Dickens wrote at a desk that he was so attached to, that he had it shipped away on holiday with him.

Jane Austen sat at a very small table to write at. You can see the table at the Jane Austen museum in Bath. It is not much bigger than a small side-table but then all you really need is somewhere to rest a pad of paper and a pen. Not for Jane the towering pile of notes to one side. She may also have been interrupted frequently by her family when writing.

Mark Twain wrote the first book on a typewriter. Such new-fangled technology it must have seemed! George Eliot had a small ornate writing desk that has sadly been stolen from the museum where it was kept. Agatha Christie used a typewriter to write 80 books! A picture of Virginia Woolf’s writing desk shows a small square table placed on a terrace, overlooking a view while Jackie Collins has a huge desk, shiny and polished, surrounded by beautiful and probably expensive things. Then there’s the cafe in Edinburgh where JK Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter book in longhand pencil.

Some writers surround themselves with books: Nigella Lawson has been pictured in a room where books rule the roost – tall shelves surround her, but there is still not enough space and piles of books are under and around the desk she works at too. The late great Terry Pratchett was pictured a few years ago with six screens on his desk although in recent year his illness had meant that he needed to dictate his work.

Where do I write?

The best place I have ever written was on holiday in the Isle of Wight. I had something I wanted to finish and took my PC away with me. The chalet overlooked cliffs and the sea was in the distance, the weather was balmy and to just sit at that small table and write was heaven…

More usually, I have taken over what used to be known as DH’s study. I still call it that, but it’s now mostly consisting of my notes, my books and my odds and ends. It is a sunny room and on hot days I can open the back door to the garden and enjoy the weather.

Feel  free to share where you write in the comments below…

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Freelance Interview – Meet Anne Wayman of About Freelance Writing.com

Anne Wayman of About Freelance Writing.com
Anne Wayman of About Freelance Writing.com

Name: Anne Wayman

Writer Alias (if you are willing to let us know) I use my own name

How long have you been a writer? 30+ years

Rough idea of where you live: San Diego

Are your clients local, global or a mix? Mix

  1. What is the first piece of writing that you remember doing?

A news story for the 6th grade newspaper.

  1. What made you realise that you wanted to write for a living?

I never liked the idea of working in someone’s office

  1. How did you get your first client?

They came to me

  1. What do you wish that you had written?

Still working on stuff.

  1. What is the one tip that you would give aspiring writers?

Write, read and write

  1. What is your current project?

Forum for writers

Anne’s Contact Details:

Anne Wayman

anne@annewayman.com

www.annewayman.com

www.aboutfreelancewriting.com

619 434-6110

Many thanks, Anne for taking part.

There will be more author/freelance interviews up soon so keep checking this page for more details.

Subscribe to the newsletter to get up-to-date information on interviews and other articles.

If you would like to be interviewed as a freelancer or an author, then email me at sarahthecreativewriter[at]gmail.com

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Book Review: Engagement from Scratch by Danny Iny of Firepole Marketing

Engagement from Scratch

Imagine sitting in a room with lots of successful bloggers. Your tiny little blog is small and insignificant to theirs – why would they want to take notice of you? And yet – something wonderful happens! Those successful bloggers begin talking about what they would do if they were to start up a blog again with the knowledge that they now have. They share their successes and failures, their best blog posts and how to engage a blog audience from scratch.

Buying this book is like sitting in that room. The book is divided up into sections: General Principles, Know and Love Your Audience, Why and How to Do Content, Why and How to Do Social Media, Be Your Passionate Self, Stories and Lessons Learned and finally Step by Step which asks successful bloggers to offer steps to building a successful blog.

There are not just one or two successful bloggers here, there are many and all of them have something interesting to say to the would-be blogger. I think the book’s strength is that it talks to so many people and includes many different ways to build a successful blog. The over-riding theme however is that it is important to care for your readers. Offer them valuable information and engage and respond with readers. Essentially a blog is nothing if it is not read by anyone.

Danny Iny from Firepole Marketing has put together the book. Some digital copies have been given away for free and if you are lucky enough to get one of these then you have something very valuable there. This book is worth paying for because you will refer to it again and again. It’s a great read.

I am not affiliated with Firepole Marketing in any way. I am reviewing this book as a helpful resource for bloggers.

The book can currently be downloaded for free from Firepole Marketing

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Book Review – Creative Writing: The Essential Guide by Tim Atkinson

Published by Need2Know

Thinking of starting a career in creative writing? Then this book might be for you. It is easy reading and at just over 100 pages, not too long.

As an introduction to the world of creative writing, this book works well. The author writes with a light touch and self-deprecating humour, and his style is easy to read. He also has a taste for unusual similes which become more obvious after his discussion on stereotypes and clichés in Chapter Two which discusses the writer’s voice. It made me think more about the clichés I use without thinking because they have become such a part of our language.

There are chapters covering getting the writing habit, reading as a writer, fact and fiction and editing as well as a basic introduction to different kinds of creative writing such as short stories, poetry, playwriting and novel writing including genre fiction. There are other books covering these kinds of subjects in greater detail, but this book gives the reader an overview of creative writing and the kinds of avenues that they might like to explore further.

I like some of the quotes in the sidebars – they are always relevant and often funny in a true kind of way. The author takes some examples from his own work (well, at least he owns the copyright) and is not afraid to show the nuts and bolts of writing in that the examples can be less than perfect. I also like his advice about not deciding too soon which genre you would like to write in – as you develop you may find more than one genre suits you whereas if you limit yourself too soon to one particular genre then you may miss out on some of your best work.

There is a great list of resources at the back for aspiring writers to try, and they include both web resources and books so you don’t have to be online to find some of them. At the back of the book more published books by Need2Know will offer more in depth reading on some of the subjects.

As an introductory book for a novice writer I would highly recommend this book: the writer mentions the well-used saying that ‘everyone has a book in them’ and I know several people who would like to write who might enjoy reading this book as a way of inspiring them to begin.

Even for writers who have been writing for a while but are beginning to feel that they might like to try different kinds of writing, it might also be worth a read as it does offer a good overview of the world of creative writing.

Favourite Quote:

‘Basically, if you’re writing a novel (as opposed to, say, a short story) you’ve got to take the reader on a bit of a holiday: short stories are away-days; novels are the full vacation and War and Peace is the year-long round-the-world cruise.’

(Creative Writing: The Essential Guide: Chapter Six: The Novel)

This book review is entirely my honest opinion of the book. I have no affiliate links with Need2Know or Tim Atkinson.

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If You’re New Around Here…

Hello to anyone who has just come across from She Knows Parenting where I contributed to an article by Deanna Slettern.

I blog about small business help and copywriting on this website. Please feel free to check out past posts. You can also check out my other blogs under my Portfolio page at the bottom. These are not so regularly updated, but I still enjoy writing them. Please feel free to leave a comment to let me know that you came.

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How to Tell if Your Writing is Good

Photo on Flickr by Janos Feher

You’ve written a story. It may have flowed easily from your pen, or it may have come in fits and starts. You have got it in front of you: on a laptop, a notebook or a piece of paper. Now what?

Leave it for 24 hours. Or 48, or for a reasonable amount of time. You want to lose the immediacy of having written the story and to have forgotten some of the details. Then read it through again, trying to read it as a reader rather than the author of the piece. You will pick up on annoying phrases, repeated words, spelling mistakes. Ignore them for the moment and read through the story as a whole. Jot down impressions, ideas. Did it all work or was the thinking behind it a little woolly?

Go through the story again and pick out the weak points. Mark them out. Check out discrepancies, spellings, grammar. On a computer this can be easy as most desk top publishing packages will help you pick out any glaring errors. Make sure that you are working in the correct language so that the spellings are correct as English and American spellings can vary.

Your story is as good as you can make it? Now what?

Some people are happy to leave it there and just keep their stories in a file on the computer or in a drawer. Others want to know: is it any good?

The easiest way to know is to ask someone else to read it through. Did I say ‘easy’? Actually that is one of the hardest things to do! We all own our writing and can be very sensitive about it. Choose someone you trust and who knows you well. You may find that they have something that they would like you to read as well. The main thing when critiquing someone else’s work is to be kind and gentle, but fair. It is a difficult thing to learn.

Another way to find out if your writing is any good is to join a local writing class or group. Many local colleges offer creative writing courses these days and it can be a good way to get to know people with similar interests and a way to have your stories read. It can be a real confidence booster when you come up with a story that everyone enjoys.

There are also online groups which allow you to post stories to be critiqued and to give you the opportunity to critique someone else’s story. Be warned, however that the anonymity offered by some of these sites can be seen as an opportunity to be blunt.

It is good to take risks. Sometimes the result is a pleasant surprise. If you want to get serious with your writing, then seeking others’ advice is a good way to take. It can be difficult to get your confidence at first, but can also become addictive.

Try showing someone else your writing today and add in the comments if you were brave enough to do so.

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