Some quick ideas on improving your writing skills.

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What do I really know about this subject?  I’m just starting to have some small success and it’s only enough to supply me with 2 months of coffee to keep the fires burning.  I have been at this activity all my life and this last year and, almost, half I have become a self-published author with all the bells and whistles (meaning a blog, Facebook author page, twitter, author central page with amazon, blah, blah, blah…).

I have made one thousand and one mistakes plus some unaccounted for.  I have been up until 3:00 am trying to figure out my book cover upload page or finishing an editing project only to do it 12 more times over the next 6 months.  I have read books and blogs by other successful writers to see what the magic elixir is and how I can get my hands on it.

Most books and blogs are all about strategy, promotion, marketing, structure.  Borrrringgg!!  I feel that most are written just to make money.

I started out with all that drawing diagrams and connecting the dots with the chapters and soul searching my characters.  I would write a paragraph on the book to be and what it was all about.  Then I would write out a quick chapter outline.  Analyze the characters and their motives.  Then to expand and expand and write and write until exhausted.  The last step is editing and cutting and expanding more.  It felt like homework.  I was finding myself stuffing the fiction away and writing my homemaking and frugal books one by one.  I cranked out a few just trying to put off writing fiction stories.

But fiction should be FUN!  It is a time to escape to a new land, a parallel Universe and meet new people with lots of conflicts, drama, intense passion, and obstacles to overcome in long montages with movie theme music in the background.  Why oh why is it work?!

Then I found a writers blog that talked…praised, Stephen King’s book On Writing.  I ordered it from the library.  I read it.  I love him.  I am going to re-order it.  No, better yet I’m going to spend a few bucks and add it to my library.  I took away much more than I realized from his book.  I have to be honest in that I didn’t read the beginning and I skipped the end.  It’s all about his childhood and I’m wanting to get to the point Stephen, sorry, we aren’t dating, I’m just trying to hone my skills here.  The end is about submitting your work and I don’t have anything that I deem worthy of even trying to submit to a publishing company.  I am my own publishing company.

Here is what I took from his book and what works for me:

  • Find the idea (he calls it the fossil) and start there. All you need is an idea that is sparked from anything.  A movie, another book, a trip out of town.  Stephen talks of getting an idea just from stopping at a gas station one day and almost sliding down a hill in the snow.  You could be at a store and observe a couple and it starts a spark.  Observe your world.  There are millions of stories everywhere once you open up that door of imagination.
  • Sit down and start writing as fast and hard as you can.  If you write like the wind…doubt can’t catch you!  Write faster than you can think.  That way you really tap into the Source.  You don’t have time to get in your own way with self-esteem and worth issues.
  • You can structure it all out with chapter outlines and diagrams.  Or you can just take that idea and go for it.
  • Play music in the background that inspires you and that matches the story.  I wrote a romance about farmers and a love triangle.  I played a lot of Rascal Flats and Lady Antebellum.  I felt like I was in a movie.  Some of the songs created a feeling of more passion for me and that went into the scenes.  Now, if I could just get my readers to play the right songs while reading…
  • Pay a little extra for Grammarly.  I have it free on the internet, however, I will be getting it for my word documents.  You want to have nice, neat, well-groomed works.
  • Drink a lot of good coffee.
  • Create a nice writing space.  Decorate the area with all that makes you feel good, happy, and inspired.  I have a couple dream boards and family photos, some of my printed books and candles.  I have my desk in the kitchen/dining area by the window and the coffee pot (of course!).
  • Don’t do it for money.  Do it for fun and to be creative.
  • Stephen King makes mention that, as a writer, you either have it or you don’t.  This may be true, however, you can always be a good writer that just needs to work on the skill.  Do this by reading, writing, and expanding the vocabulary.
  • Read all sorts of works. Not just genres you like.  Open your world up wide.  Read the good, bad, and ugly.  You will plant all kinds of seeds in your garden and you will see what weeds to pull up.  All good writers talk about reading a LOT!
  • Write a LOT!  Blog for the hell of it.  I have improved vastly by blogging.  It’s a fun exercise and way to meet new folk.
  • Get out the dictionary and thesaurus.  Learn all sorts of big words and ways to describe life and situations.

So, that’s it for now.  I’m off to do my time on the tread climber and finish my Fredrik Backman novel.

 

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