Tag Archives: advice

5 Bad Habits for Writers and the Lessons they Teach Us

Bad Writing Habits

It's only human to have bad habits, but that doesn't mean we can't overcome them!

It’s only human to have bad habits, but that doesn’t mean we can’t overcome them!

We all know that everyone has bad habits and writers are no exception. The trick to becoming a better writer is the ability to recognize your issues and address them. These are just a few of the habits I’ve recognized in my own writing and the ways I’ve tried to overcome them.

 1. Too many repetitions:

Over and over and over and over and over...

Over and over and over and over and over…

There is absolutely no problem with using key words for emphasis, but if you use the words too many times in a short span it can be a bit confusing for a reader. Have you ever read something where one word gets used too many times in succession? I used to have a job editing research papers for college students and a lot of the students had that habit. One student was writing a short 100 word paper on society and used the word “sociology” approximately 40 times. Trying to read that paper was very difficult because it felt like a swirling vortex of chaos centered on that one word. Lesson learned from this bad habit: Emphasis is one of the central dramatic tools of writers but it cannot be achieved by constant repetition. Use a thesaurus to help you find new words and expressions.

 2. Arrogance:

You get further talking to people than at them.

You get further talking to people than at them.

In order to be a great writer you need to set your ego aside. How can you ever attempt to edit your work if you’re so wrapped up in your ego that you think everything you’ve written is golden merely because you wrote it? Humbleness also helps you to keep your sanity through things like getting rejected by publishers and negative reviews. Also your readers are most likely not going to respond well to your writing style if they feel like you are patronizing, belittling or speaking down to them. Ego is one of the writer’s worst enemies. Lesson learned from this bad habit: It’s a fact that not everyone is going to like your writing and putting your ego aside really helps you survive the entire process of writing.

 3. Trying to sound like other writers:

Trying to copy another writers voice doesn't work. You are not them. You are you. OWN IT

Trying to copy another writers voice doesn’t work. You are not them. You are you. OWN IT

A lot of writers when they first start writing attempt, whether consciously or unconsciously, to tailor their words to sound like other established writers. In order to have a long and productive career as a writer you need to establish your own unique voice and to make it strong. Assert it! Be proud of it! It is your writing, written in your voice!!!!  Lesson learned from this bad habit: Though you can look to older and more established writers for some advice, you cannot attempt to copy or reproduce their voice in your work. It is your work. Own it.

 4. Getting too defensive about criticism:

criticism

I know I’ve spoken about this before but this is one of the worst habits for a lot of writers. When you’ve finished writing something it feels like you’ve given birth to something and even if you try to detach yourself a bit, you feel like it’s your baby and that can make you blind to its faults. Too you your book’s perfect so when it gets criticism, you run the risk of getting angry and defensive because it feels like your baby is being attacked. It’s a fact of writing that not everyone is going to like what your write or get your message. Learn to deal because sometimes the critics are right. Lesson learned from this bad habit: Criticism can be hard to hear but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t listen. If you listen to the negative critics all the time you will never get anything written because you will think everything you write is awful. If you never listen to the “haters” you will think everything you write is great even if it has serious problems.

 5. Refusing to learn:

learning2

No writer, no matter how many books they’ve written, can say they have learned it all. To learn is to live and to grow. The moment you decide to stop learning that is also the day you should stop writing. Do research, experiment and be open to discovering new facts, emotions and characters. Lesson learned from this bad habit: To learn is to live. For writers to live is to write. The moment you stop learning your writing withers. I like to use my local library’s reference section to do research and discover new and interesting things I am not that knowledgeable about.

Exercise of the Day

Exercise of the Day

Exercise of the Day: The Science Experiment

Write a scene where you and your best friend are working on a chemistry experiment. Something goes wrong with the experiment and though you look and feel fine, something is going wrong for your friend. Write about what is happening to them. What is happening? How do they look? Does it hurt? Are they changing? If they are changing what are they changing into?

 

Have fun with this exercise and I’ll talk to you later!! Feel free to comment/like/reblog.

 

 

 

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Filed under Characters, Creative, Creative writing, Dialogue, Ideas, Imagination, Literature, Novel Writing, Playwriting, Plot, Screenwriting, Uncategorized, Writing

3 Essential Questions to Ask Before You Post Anything Online

Write like the Wind

“It is wise to apply the oil of refined politeness to the mechanisms of friendship” ~ Colette

In today’s digital age where you can post anything you want across a variety of media, Facebook, widgets, chat rooms, in a matter of seconds many are falling victim to their own posts. In today’s digital world everything seems to be centered on speed. We’ve got to get the tech faster so we can live our lives faster. FASTER!!! FASTER!!! FASTER!!!! The issue is when people can communicate faster they often times do not send their intended message clearly. Taking more time gives people more time to think and to answer some essential questions. If you want to avoid awkward encounters with friends, bosses, coworkers or anyone else in your digital world please do yourself a favor and ask yourself these three questions before you post anything online.

There are no emoticons to accurately translate SARCASM

There are no emoticons to accurately translate SARCASM

1. Does this need to be said (Am I really saying what I mean)? 

Sure you theoretically can write a comment or blog post where you trash talk your boss but just being able to do something does not mean you should. If you’ve gotten though the first half of this question and decided that yes, your message is one that needs to be put out there, you had better take at least a moment or two and make sure that you are delivering it clearly. Oh and for all of my friends who are fans of sarcasm remember that without the usage of emoticons sarcasm never comes across well online.

hyopcrisy

2. Does this need to be said by me?

Sure certain messages might be needed, but you might not be the one to say it. For example, if you constantly post pictures of yourself getting drunk and partying, you might not be the one to tell your friend that they need to go to AA meetings. The message there might be a good one, but in that situation chances are your friend wouldn’t take it seriously because it came from you.

Timing is Everything!!

Timing is Everything!!

3. Is my message something I need to say now?

If you gotten though the first steps and have come to the conclusion that yes the message needs to be said you you’re the one to do it, you need to remember that timing is key in every aspect of communication. For example say your friend’s grandmother just died and they’ve been posting about it all day, that is probably not a good day to post a funny joke onto their Facebook wall. Maybe the joke is good and on most days your friend would enjoy it, but you’ve got to think of what kind of mental/emotional state your friend is in and if they’re likely to take the joke well.   “Sometimes being a friend means mastering the art of timing. There is a time for silence. A time to let go and allow people to hurl themselves into their own destiny.” ~ Octavia Butler

If you keep these few questions in mind when you attempt to communicate online, you will be far less likely to say something you don’t mean and you’ll also be more capable of saying the things you mean clearly.

Exercise of the Day

Exercise of the Day

Exercise of the day:  The 20 Years Exercise

Pick your favorite romantic couple from literature, film, television etc, and write a short story describing their lives 20 years after the end of their story. For example if we ignore the things that happened in Scarlett, the sequel to Gone with the Wind, what might Rhett Butler and Scarlett’s lives be like? Would they have gotten back together? If Romeo and Juliet had lived would they have stayed in love? Just pick a pair and have some fun with it!

So long for now folks!!!!

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BAD Advice for Beginning Writers and How to Avoid It

Though some can make it seem like they can sit down and in one afternoon POOF, they’ve written a novel, the actual act of writing is a challenging task. When you first start out it’s natural to look to people who’ve been writing a while for advice, but sometimes the “helpful” advice you get is the thing that’s holding you back. If you’re just getting into writing you might hear one or two of these little pearls of so called wisdom, please take them with a grain of salt!

Bad Advice 1: Eliminate ALL clichés

Fiddle-Dee-Dee!!

Fiddle-Dee-Dee!!

Look unless your characters are beat poets from outer space, chances are they are going to say at least a few adages, sayings and other forms of cliché the thing is not to have so many of them in the dialogue that the character sounds fake. A few well-placed clichés gives the audience a bit of something familiar to relate to. They could read it and think ‘I know a lot of people who talk like that all the time’ which gives the characters an added dimension of reality. That is not to say your characters can’t say random words or have a few catchphrases which are outside of the world of the clichéd. For example Scarlett O’Hara’s “fiddle-dee-dee” was not a common phrase during the civil war but Mitchell made it work because it sounded like something which was natural for the character to say. That’s the key, when you want to explore with dialogue the words have to fit the characters.

Bad Advice 2: Put ALL protagonist’s thoughts in italics

Italics
I actually heard this a few times from some established writers when I first started out but I’ve found out that it really depends on the publisher. Unless the publisher says that the protagonist’s thoughts should be in italics don’t worry about it. For me I place any bits of “inner monologue” from my protagonist in single quotation marks like this: ‘I never thought something like this could happen’. It is NOT a cardinal rule of writing that your main characters thoughts HAVE to be in italics, that is a formatting issue and is really something you’d need to talk over with the publisher.

Bad Advice 3: Use as much detail and descriptive language as possible

Leave something to the imagination!!

Leave something to the imagination!!

Details are sort of like cats. Having a few of them is nice, but having 50 of them is kind of crazy. That isn’t to say your work can’t be detailed, but the trick is to not have so many details that your reader feels smothered by them. Descriptions work the same way, if you have tons of overly descriptive language the reader can easily get bored. A lot of writers get lost in this when the first start out. They remember that writers are supposed to “show not tell” their stories and they go overboard and start giving even things which are not really important to their stories long and overly detailed descriptions. The key is to describe what you need to, but leave some room for the reader’s imaginations to fill in the blanks.

In general, if you find writing advice that says the words ALWAYS or NEVER, take it with a grain of salt. The real trick is just to write and find your own system. You won’t find a handbook with the 101 laws for how NOT to write so just relax, find the story you want to tell and find the system works best for you. What is some of the worst writing advice you’ve ever gotten? Comment below!!! Thanks for reading!

Exercise of the Day

Exercise of the Day

Exercise of the Day: The Life and Times of a Dollar Bill

For today I want you to write something from the perspective of a dollar bill as it gets passed from person to person. Tell the story of the bill fromt he day it leaves the press at the mint until the present. What does it think about the world? What does it think about the people who have had it? Have fun with this and I’ll talk to you later!!

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