Five Ways to Get Your Writing Unstuck


By W. Terry Whalin

Throughout my day, writers will email me for help with their writing. One of the key reasons is because of the words in my Twitter profile: “I love to help writers. Let me know how I can help YOU!”  I include my email in my twitter profile to encourage such correspondence.

As an acquisitions editor at a New York publisher, I get a lot of email every day. Yet I make a point to answer each one of the emails from writers who are asking for help. From my 20+ years in publishing, I know it is hard to navigate the publishing world. I've sent my share of emails and letters into the system which have gone into a void—or so they seem because nothing came back from my careful shaping and sending them. It can be discouraging.

Recently a ministry leader wrote me about being stuck. He had started writing a book but gotten stuck at the second chapter. What actions should this leader take to move forward on his dream of writing a book?

Many times writers are stuck and unsure how to move forward. It happens with book projects because they are not simple 30 minute or an hour in length. To write a book takes a great deal of consistent effort and energy. When it comes to writing a book, one of the best tools is to first, write a book proposal. The key portion of the proposal that will keep you writing and moving ahead is the chapter-by-chapter outline. This simple outline is the structure for your book. You can even print it out then cross off the chapters as you write them. 

If you are stuck in your writing, here's five ways to get unstuck:

1. Evaluate Your Goal. Are you committed to this writing project? I've always found if I've made a commitment, then the writing will get handled. OK. I've committed to write a book or a magazine article or an online article or a press release. Think about the type of consistent effort will it take to accomplish your goal. For example, books are not produced overnight but will take a consistent effort.

2. Set a Goal You Can Accomplish. Be reasonable with yourself and set a writing goal that you can achieve. From my experience it is often a certain number of words such as 500 words a day or 5,000 words a day (which is a lot of intense writing to reach 5,000 words a day but it can be done). 

3. Move Consistently toward Your Goal. To accomplish any goal you have to move forward. I like what one of my writers friends told me about creating a 400+ page novel, “No little elves come out at night and write my pages.” No one else can do the work for you. You have to find the time and simply do it. If it means getting up an hour or two earlier or staying up late at night or skipping some television, then you have to work at it to meet your goal.

4. Periodically Evaluate Your Goal. If you are having success, then take moments to celebrate. Each of us will celebrate differently. It is important to evaluate and celebrate if you are moving toward your goal. If you measure how you are doing with your goal and you are not making progress, then possibly it is time to readjust your goal and make it more reasonable or something that you can actually accomplish. Don't beat yourself up that you have to readjust. Simply acknowledge it and keep moving forward.

5. Get an Accountability Partner. Yes maybe you could accomplish your goal on your own. From my experience, it is better if you have someone else asking you periodically about your goal and how you are moving toward it. This person can be someone that you speak with periodically on the phone or email or best physically see often. 

I know I was only going to write five ways to get your writing unstuck. I'm throwing in a bonus sixth method. Maybe you are stuck in your writing because you have been trying to accomplish a long piece of writing such as a book or a novel or a workbook. If you have been chipping away at completing a longer work, here's something to consider in this process:

6. Diversify Your Writing. While many people want to write a book, there are many ways to get published—outside of books. Often books take a long time to get into the market—especially if you go through a traditional publisher. 

Magazine articles are short and fun to write plus you can get them published a lot quicker than a book and it will reach many more people than the average book.

People like me who are in publishing want to see that you have been published. Your magazine publishing credits will help you attract the attention of a literary agent or book editor. My updated version of Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams has a great deal of information about publishing to help you get unstuck.

Use these five methods to get unstuck and move forward with your writing. Take action today. 

When you are stuck in your writing, how to you get unstuck? Let me know in the comments below and I look forward to reading your tips.

Tweetable:

Are you stuck in your writing? Read five tips from this prolific writer and editor. (Click to Tweet)

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W. Terry Whalin is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. His work contact information is on the bottom of the second page (follow this link).  One of his books for writers is Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams, Insider Secrets to Skyrocket Your Success.  He lives in Colorado and has over 210,000 twitter followers.
 




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What Marching Armies Lack



I thought I'd share a little inspiration today.


It comes from an interesting YA novel, a historical fiction/fantasy mash-up where the narrators talk directly to the reader and play really fast and loose with the facts of the history...and science.  It's My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows.

Here's the quote I loved, by our bookworm heroine who's bored on a long military march:  


"Armies aren't very good about carrying libraries with them. I can't imagine why. We'd fight so much less if everyone would just sit down and read."  

Ah, how true it is.  So, my fellow writers, keep on writing.  Maybe someday, somewhere, somebody will sit down and read your work instead of engaging in other more unsavory pursuits.  It's a long shot for world peace...but I've always believed in the power or books to open people's minds and change their hearts.  


A Few Tips for Reslanting Articles

If you write for magazines, make the most of your research by turning the information you obtain from different sources into a variety of articles (instead of just one).

This is called reslanting an article because you create a different angle or slant for each article you propose to different publications.

When you can do the research once and then turn it into several different articles, you make much better use of your time and efforts – you’re working smarter, not harder.

Here are a few tips for reslanting articles:

1. Before you contact your sources, brainstorm a few possible article slants or angles.

Also, determine which publications would be best for each slant.

Choose magazines that don’t compete with each other.

You wouldn’t want to sell an article to Family Circle, for example, and then a similar piece to Woman’s Day because these two publications have many of the same readers and these readers don’t want to see the same information in both magazines.

2. Before you contact your sources, figure out a variety of questions that will allow you to reslant the topic in many ways.

This way, your sources will give you a variety of quotes, so each article will include fresh quotes.

You won’t merely be “recyling” the same quotes from article to article, which isn’t a good idea.

Plus, if you have come up with ideas for reslanting the topic before you contact your sources, you’ll be able to get all the information you need during one interview with each source.

You’ll take up less of their time (which they will appreciate) and you’ll be making better use of your time.

3. If you have trouble coming up with a variety of slants around one article topic, brainstorm ideas with another writer.

You’ll probably be suprised at all the different slants you start coming up with once another writer has helped you see a few possibilities.

If you are lucky enough to know someone who has written for a variety of different magazines for a while, they’ll be able to help you quickly see how to reslant your articles.

Practice these tips for reslanting articles and soon you’ll be making the most of your research – and your time, too.

Try it!


Suzanne Lieurance is the author of over 35 published books and a writing coach.

Visit her website at www.writebythesea.com for more articles and resources about writing.

And, for daily tips about writing, get your free subscription to The Morning Nudge at www.morningnudge.com.

Writing - Are You an Outliner?


Are you an outliner or a pantser? I don’t know if there has been a study of how many writers prefer each, but I know there are many in both camps. You know the saying, “different strokes for different folks.”

But, before I go on, the definition of an outliner is a writer who creates a written (or typed) outline of the plot of their story. A pantser is a writer who creates the story as she goes along – no outline. The story unfolds as she is writing it.

If I had to take a guess though, I’d say the majority of writers/authors are outliners (plotters).

The reason?

Creating an outline of a story before delving into it provides a foundation. It’s something to build upon. It’s like a map. You mark out your driving route. You know you’re going from Point A to Point B. You see the highways, roads, and so on between those two points. And, they’re all written out in your outline.

It’s interesting to know that there are different kinds of outliners. Some create full detailed accounts of getting from Point A to Point B. Some simply have a rough outline of what the story will be about – possibly that John is at A and has to get to B.

Jeff Ayers (a top crime writer), in his article “Doing What He Loves,” in the May 2009 issue of the Writer, says:

“Outlining allows me time to think. Does this ever happen to you--you're in line at the market, some pushy person cuts in front of you, you mumble something ineffectual or stupid, then when you're 10 blocks away the light bulb goes off, and you think "That's what I shouda said!" Well, outlining gives me the 10 blocks to think of something better.”

I think this is an excellent explanation of why writers use the outline method of writing.

In the article, Ayers explains that he spends lots of time outlining. In addition to coming up with ideas, it allows him to get better acquainted with his characters. This more intimate knowledge allows him to bring them to life.

As I mentioned earlier, outlining is like using a map. But depending on how detailed you make your outline, it can be more like a GPS. It can lead you street by street from your starting point to your ending point.

Even if you run into a detour that was unexpected, as in writing can happen, you have a guided system in place to get you back on track. And, if it’s very, very detailed, you even know where the rest stops are, where to eat, where the scenic sites are, and so on. It doesn’t leave much to chance.

Knowing every step, every detour, all the characters . . . there is a comfort in this method.

I’m much more of a pantser, but I have used outlines now and then. And, it certainly does offer a sense of security. But, with that said, I love to watch my story unravel before me. I love to watch characters develop and move forward. This comes with the pantser method.

It seems though that no matter which style you use, it’s not a guarantee of success or failure. Gail Carson Levine has some good advice in regard to this, “Quality comes from word choice, plot, characters – all the elements [of a good story].”

Which writing method do you use?

Reference:
Outlining vs. Pantsing


This article was originally published at:
The Outline Method of Writing (Are You an Outliner?)

Karen Cioffi is an award-winning author, successful children’s ghostwriter who welcomes working with new clients, and an author/writer online platform marketing instructor.

For more on children’s writing tips and writing help, stop by Writing for Children with Karen Cioffi.
Be sure to sign up for her newsletter and check out the DIY Page.

She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of Writers on the Move.


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November is National Podcast Post Month

NaPodPoMo
Most writers are familiar with NaNoWriMo - National Novel Writing Month. But how many of you know about NaPodPoMo? 

Now in it's 11th year, National Podcast Post Month gives people a different kind of challenge. Post 30 podcast in 30 days. They can be long, short, audio, video, both. Use any platform you desire, says NaPodPoMo creator Jennifer Navarrete, from full production studio to iPhone app and just about anything in between. The idea is to create and publish 30 of them during the month of November, and use it as a podcasting bootcamp. And, similar to NaNo, you have eliminate the idea of perfection and just get it done, as you have a massive undertaking in a short amount of time.

That being said, if you plan to participate in NaNoPodMo, now is the time to start planning. This is essential whether you want to launch, rebrand, or revitalize your podcast.

Let's back up. Why podcast? For the same reason you have a blog, a podcast enables you to showcase your personality, as well as your expertise, and really connect with your readers, prospects, and clients on a personal level. Adding the element of audio and/or video really amplifies that connection. 

Whether your goal is to create a series or you just want quick clips to enhance your content, there are easy ways to make a podcast happen.

Audio. Record, edit, and format audio podcasts. Find a podcast hosting platform (such as Libsyn or PodBean) and then syndicate it to sites like iTunes, GooglePlay, and Stitcher. You can even consider creating Alexa Flash Briefings.

Video. Record video podcasts, either in person or via a video platform, like Skype. Use a tool, such as Evaer for PC or Ecamm Call recorder for Mac, to record. You can also pull out the audio to syndicate on the above mentioned platforms. Edit (add captions, call-outs, and calls to action) if you want. And upload to YouTube, Facebook, and/or LinkedIn. Break it into smaller pieces and share on social media platforms.

Live Video. Broadcast live on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter/Periscope, and Instagram. Then download, edit (add captions, share, and embed on your blog.

Before you go down the podcasting rabbit hole, run it through the D*E*B Method to start things off on the right foot.
- Define your Mission. Why do you want to start a podcast? This is in addition to any personal or business benefit. How will it help others?
- Explore your Options. What format? And what type of podcast? Interview, solo, tips, instruction, education. Length?
- Brainstorm your Path. Decide what you want for your podcast and figure out how to make it happen. Create a checklist. Be sure to determine name, tag, type, cover art, hosting, length, interviewees, anything and everything.

Once you have ideas in order, you'll be able to jump into November and begin your podcast on the right foot!

For more podcasting tips, read the Podcasting #GoalChat recap. Learn more about NaPodPoMo.

Do you have a podcast? What is it? How is it benefiting your business? Please share your experience and your podcast link in the comments.

* * *

Debra Eckerling is a writer, editor and project catalyst, as well as founder of The D*E*B Method: Goal Setting Simplified and Write On Online, a live and online writers’ support group. Like the Write On Online Facebook Page and join the Facebook Group.  She is author of Write On Blogging: 51 Tips to Create, Write & Promote Your Blog and Purple Pencil Adventures: Writing Prompts for Kids of All Ages, and host of the #GoalChat Twitter Chat. Debra is an editor at Social Media Examiner and a speaker/moderator on the subjects of writing, networking, goal-setting, and social media.

Sixteen Ideas for Convincing You to Publish the 'Book Inside You'


Defeating Naysayers and Negative Thoughts

16 Reasons Why You Should Publish a Book 

By Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Author of the multi award-winning #HowToDoItFrugally Series
of books for writers

There are naysayers enough to fill every dark crevice in your defense against negativity. When people telling you not to publish a book (no, I won’t list all the reasons they will give you), here is a list for you to check to see if you have a viable reason for ignoring them: 

1.    My favorite: You want a book of memories or your genealogy to give to friends and relatives as holiday gifts—or to have just such a record organized and readily available. There are dozens of other examples. Perhaps you are Armenian, and you have dozens of of old-country remedies you’d like future generations (in your family or community) not to forget. 
2.    You want a hobby. You’ll love the book launch. You may love planning a creative book tour, too! 
3.    You want to improve your résumés. For college submissions or your next job. (Of course, if it is a popular book, that might be a more convincing résuméentry, but admissions officers might give a high school junior extra credit for doing something
other than the typical pink-lady kind of charity work.)
a.    This might work especially well if you are looking for a job in the media—from hometown press to online efforts. A blogger with a book? Not bad!
4.    If you are already an author, you often hear “establish yourself as an expert.” A book with the right theme or content can help anyone do that, but a book alone will not do it. An author must take build an entire platform, not just add a plank. Do not be mislead to think, “once published, immediate expert.” 
5.    If you want to run for public office, your book that can be shopped to the media to get more air and print attention, but a booklet you can give away to like-minded people who might support will also work well for you.  Don’t forget e-books that can be downloaded immediately—and free—by anyone!
6.    You are already a public speaker.  Don’t you want an additional income stream from selling your book at the back of the room? Wouldn’t having a book give you a better chance of convincing a program director that they need you? I once attended a free lunch at a chic club sponsored by a large investment firm searching for new clients. The author (or her agent) had sold her appearance by offering an imprinted swag bags with the author’s book and lots of souvenir memories inside for each attendee.
a.    A book might be a pathway to using your speaking skills as a spokesperson for a large corporation or your favorite foundation. You have seen celebrities do it, but you need only be an charismatic expert with speaking skills to find success this way.
7.    You are speaker who has been mostly speaking for free. In combination with a good marketing plan, more high-powered program directors with an available budget might find your resume more appealing.
8.    You are becoming aware that you must brand yourself. There are lots of ways to do this—some of them are outlined in my The Frugal Book Promoterbut most any profession, product, or business can benefit from having a published book as part of their branding. I’ve been in many doctors’ offices that distribute booklets, but a couple give away their entire book which is branding that suggests not only generosity as well as expertise. That book--an extra benefit for the same price as that expensive procedure—may get passed along to others. “Free” books are about building buzz.
9.    You are dedicated to a nonprofit group. There is power is ideas and words. A book might convince others to support the same group. A book might help that group get what they need from their own members. I published a booklet to encourage college seniors to continue their dedication to our group as alumnae. And I didn’t have to write it myself. Many members contributed anecdotes about how continued participation had benefited them. Booklets like this can be given as gifts or sold to raise funds for pet projects.
10.  Publishing houses love books that are suitable for selling spin-off products. But this works the other way around. You have a toy you’d like to market. Write a book using the toy as a character! Think about The Little Engine That Could.
11.  A screen writer once took a class from me at UCLA. He thought if he wrote a book, he could break into the movie business more easily. It’s possible! He was already great with dialogue, right? What he didn’t plan for is the steep learning curve required to write narrative. Even a screenplay writer with manuscripts secreted away in the bowels of her computer might suddenly become more interesting to Hollywood if an she has an amazing, original story or manages to make a book into a bestseller.
12.  Advocate. Your advocacy could be inspired by your religion, your passion for what yoga can do for lives, your politics, your profession. If you have a knack for inspiring others—personally or professionally—you may ask yourself what took you so long to write your book.  
13.  You want more visits to your website. Would a free book (or a book with a catchy title) attract extra clicks? Expect that you must use marketing skills to make an offer like this attract attention. I have been heard to say, “For a promotion to be successful, ya gotta promote the promotion!” 
a.    Here’s a reason you might want to draw more eyes to your site: The more traffic, the more ads you can sell on your site and the more you can charge for them. 
14.  You can publish to publish. The book you write and publish on your own might lead to an agent and an offer from a big publisher. This is not the direct line to such a goal, but it sometimes works out that way. 
15.  My least favorite reason: You can get revenge or speak out. This has been particularly popular in recent years, and if you live in a place that has a free press or free speech amendment, you have the right. In spite of my negativity, this kind of book works very well. A book like this has a better chance to sell well because—as they say—“controversy sells.”
16.  And last, you just want to publish a book. Call it ego. Why not. The learning curve necessary to make yourself proud is steep, but it’s also a lot of fun!

MORE ABOUT TODAY’S GUEST BLOGGER

Carolyn Howard-Johnson brings her experience as a publicist, journalist, marketer, and retailer to the advice she gives in her HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers and the many classes she taught for nearly a decade as instructor for UCLA Extension’s world-renown Writers’ Program. The books in her HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers have won multiple awards. That series includes both the first and second editions of The Frugal Book Promoter 

and The Frugal Editor won awards from USA Book News, Readers’ Views Literary Award, the marketing award from Next Generation Indie Books and others including the coveted Irwin award. How To Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethicallyis the newest book in her HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers.

Howard-Johnson is the recipient of the California Legislature’s Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment Award, and her community’s Character and Ethics award for her work promoting tolerance with her writing. She was also named to Pasadena Weekly’s list of “Fourteen San Gabriel Valley women who make life happen” and was given her community’s Diamond Award for Achievement in the Arts. 
                  
The author loves to travel. She has visited eighty-nine countries and has studied writing at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom; Herzen University in St. Petersburg, Russia; and Charles University, Prague. She admits to carrying a pen and journal wherever she goes. Her website is www.howtodoitfrugally.com



Small Book Publishers Fill the Gap


Oh, boy. In 10 years I've never missed a post publishing, but I did on the first of this month. Between family and work, my life is a bit out of control. I'm working hard to reign it in. To make up for the first, here's an interesting post for those who are having trouble getting a major house publishing contract.

One of your primary concerns as an author is to get your book published. While self-publishing is a viable option, many authors still strive to be traditionally published.

The problem though is getting your manuscript past the acquisitions editor of a major publishing house. And, while I always say nothing ventured nothing gained, getting published by one of the “Big 5” publishers isn’t very probable for a new author.

According to Book Business, the Big 5 are: Penguin Random House, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Hachette, and Macmillan. (1)

And, while you may have a better chance with one of the Big 5’s imprints, getting published will still be a tough goal to achieve.

So, what do authors who want to be traditionally published do?

Simple, they submit to small publishers.

In an interview with her local paper, Edmond, Oklahoma, Vivian Zabel said, “There needs to be something between the major publishers who won’t accept anything and the vanity or self-publishing entities.”

Taking the ‘bull by the horns,’ Zabel created her own small publishing company, 4RV Publishing. It’s put out 115 quality books over the last 10 years.

Zabel went on to say, “4RV looks for authors who fall through the cracks at major publishing houses.” Larger publishers look for the “marquis authors.” Because of this, 4RV gets to find some great stories.

To read about 4RV and get an idea of how a small publisher works, check out Zabel’s interview at:
Small Publisher Fills the Gap Between Major and Vanity Publishing


This post was originally published at:
http://karencioffiwritingforchildren.com/2017/07/30/small-book-publishers-fill-the-gap/

Reference:
(1) http://www.bookbusinessmag.com/post/big-5-financial-reports-reveal-state-traditional-book-publishing/

Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children's author and children’s ghostwriter as well as the founder and editor-in-chief of Writers on the Move. You can find out more about writing for children and her services at: Karen Cioffi Writing for Children.

Check out the DIY Page and don’t forget to sign up for the Newsletter that has great monthly writing and book marketing tips.

And, get your copy of Walking Through Walls (a middle-grade fantasy adventure set in 16th century China. Honored with the Children’s Literary Classics Silver Award.)


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