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My Freedom Flame

Motivating Writers Worldwide

Category: writing (page 1 of 28)

Why You Should Hand Out A Free Series Starter or E-Book

I know the ruse when it comes to writing a book. It’s a long process and it’s by far not the easiest thing to do. Couple writing with life which consists of a dreaded (and often stupid) day job, housekeeping, and anything else life throws at us and we’re lucky to have time to write a paragraph a day if that. Because of this, we might feel handing out a free series starter or e-books means writing is more of a love of the labor these days than helping means make an end.

But I’m here to tell you it’s not the case.

What if I told you that your freebies will lead to something greater over time, especially if you’ve written a series?
On my Lord of Columbia Series Site, you can clearly see I’ve done this with the Neo Skyehawk Series being set to permanently free, mainly on Prolific Works, but also anywhere not named Amazon, but only because you have to fight with Amazon to set a book for free and that takes a while.

My Neo Skyehawk Series is nothing more than a set of free novelettes/novellas related to the parent Lord of Columbia Series. It serves as a bit of a history lesson, which connects the two series.

 

Why Freebies?

As I mentioned above, freebies lead to something greater over time.

Face it, we live in a culture that loves two things:

1) Handouts

2) Binging

Here’s the kicker, however.

People will pay for something so they can binge, but if you’re an author who’s independent or a no-name why would anyone in their right mind buy your books if there are zero reviews and have only sold a few copies?

Sure, your cover and description might be captivating but what am I getting if I open the book?

Plot errors? Grammar? Transitions?

I don’t know because no one in the review section told me anything. I couldn’t trust the book, and most people won’t.

There’s nothing wrong with people as to why they aren’t buying your book.

They WILL buy your book, or books and yes, you can and will make a living on being an indie-author, but will likely take two to four years to get to that point, which is why most indie-authors give up on making a living off their writing.

Think about it: traditionally published authors go through the same ruse and torment, as once a book is accepted for publication, it usually takes about two years before it’s on store shelves.

Indies aren’t getting charged extra. We just upload our books onto Amazon and other platforms without editorial or any kind of reviews. At least if we’re just starting out and haven’t taken the last three years to build an author platform. Some indies sell a lot of copies of their first book early on, yes, but bear in mind it’s highly likely they spent years building a platform first. Again, it evens out.

 

The Connection

Is there a connection between platform building and freebies?

Of course.

Or, you can do like me and upload a couple paid works to Amazon, then create your freebies as freebies are excellent platform-building methods.

Lord of Columbia Series is also a great way to build a platform in addition to this site.

And social media will freaking love you as well.

Why?

Because if I’m on Twitter and scrolling down my newsfeed I’m much more likely to download a freebie e-book Author X has uploaded to Prolific Works or wherever and more likely to stop following that annoying Author Y who keeps dishing out their Amazon buy link every three hours.

So, if I download, read, and like the book, Author X gained a fan and probably an email address to add to their ever-growing list of email addresses that they can then send a mass email to any time a new book is released.

Prolific Works lets you connect your email provider as well, so this works in a smooth manner.

Notice how I barely mentioned social media except as a means to dish out free offerings to your followers. Sure, it’s important and all, but having a couple blogs plus a digital item to hand out is going to take your platform so much further than talking about writing on social media.

Google is a powerful tool, so if you get indexed in Google, think about how many searches for your article’s keywords that happen every single day.

For instance, ‘free series starter’ is a keyword here. If you have the right keyword tool, you can find how many people search for your chosen keyword on a monthly basis. If 400 people search for it, that’s 400 possible eyes on this article per month, and this doesn’t count the other articles I’ve written.

When this blog matures and I have over one-thousand articles, and say my keyword searches average 200 searches each, that’s 200,000 possible eyes per month, and 2,400,000 possible eyes per year. If even one percent of that number clicked through to my site, it’s 2,000 visitors per month. Not a great number, but definitely 2,000 possible fans per month.

Now imagine if I have something for them.

Exactly.

 

Your Freebie Can Be Anything

While an actual book or books can go a long way, if you’re still uncomfortable with handing them out, your freebie can still be something else. Perhaps you created a world and you have notes that you used to build the world. You can use it as a freebie.

Maybe you want to create something to give readers a behind-the-scenes look at your work.

There are so many possibilities here it’s endless. Even exclusive inside looks to your books, or the making of your book. You might even hand them deleted scenes or earlier drafts of your book.

Anything is possible here.

I like handing out the Neo Skyehawk novelettes because while they’re still challenging to make, they’re far easier than actual novels. Also, Neo, Seneca, and many others from the series are mentioned in Lord of Columbia when the parent series’ important plot points intersect with it, so to tell the actual story piques a reader’s interest, but that’s my preference. Yours can be anything.

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How to Become an All-Star Self-Editor

Quick Hits on Self-Editing

 

Okay, so I’m giving you a little rundown today regarding the rules on self-editing. As I mentioned in my previous article, this isn’t a complete rundown and it’s important you find a mentor fast.

However, it’s also important that you have an idea of what not to do as an author. Don’t follow these rules and you might have a hard time finding a reading audience. Follow them, and you’ll be set.

 

Rule #1: Show, Don’t Tell

It was cold doesn’t paint a picture in the reader’s mind, but saying Cain fastened his cloak around him as he turned his face against the wind definitely does. Lira didn’t just say something angrily; she narrowed her eyes and thrust her hands to her sides. Cheesy examples, but you get the point.

In show, don’t tell, just show the character(s) in action and you’ll be golden. If you go through your manuscript and are reading things like ‘she was scared,’ or ‘he was ecstatic,’ show this through action.

 

Rule #2: Omit Needless Words

Okay, take a look at the show, don’t tell section again and take note of the phrase ‘definitely does.’ Definitely could’ve been omitted. Always omit words that tell the reader something.

Why?

Because we need to trust our readers actually know what’s going on. See, actually could’ve been omitted here.

Because could’ve been omitted, too. We need to trust that our readers know what’s going on. Hmmm, sounds better. We need to trust our readers know what’s happening.

When we omit, our sentences are shorter. Our paragraphs are also shorter. Our words have more power. I could’ve said, ‘our words now have more power,’ but the reader knows our words ‘now’ have more power, so we can just say our words have power.

 

Rule #3: The Power of Said

“Why are we going here?” Savannah asked.

The question mark shows the reader a question’s asked. We don’t have to rehash on the fact.

In most cases, readers don’t need to be told someone asked or exclaimed. The question mark and exclamation point do their jobs.

Instead, just say said. People don’t grunt, cough, wheeze, or croak dialogue. They say things.

While my preference is to omit as many dialogue tags as I can, there are many situations where we can’t, like if a scene contains more than two people.

 

Rule #4: Cut the Throat Clearing

It’s a fancy term for overloading the book with backstory. I made this mistake during my first drafts of Northern Knights. These days, too much backstory will scare readers away. We live in a fast-paced society these days, and our books must be likewise.

Instead, get straight to the action. I learned this during my later drafts of Northern Knights, which eventually made up the final manuscript.

If backstory is important in your novel, tell it through action, or through dialogue. Show a conversation between your characters, but don’t show it through a thought bubble as the main character looks into the mirror and reminisces on how he or she got to such a stage.

 

Rule #5: On the Nose Writing

Hollywood loves this term. It basically means describing a familiar location. For instance, in Northern Knights, some of my settings include campus dining halls, emergency rooms, and hotel lobbies.

Do I really have to go into detail with any of these places?

Think along the same lines. If your book takes place in middle-class suburbia, do you really need to explain the neighborhood?

Unless something is there that is important to the story, you don’t have to get crazy descriptive with settings everyday people are familiar with.

 

Rule #6: 1 + 1 = ½

Two adjectives are nowhere near as powerful as one adjective, strong nouns, or strong verbs.

Further, when a reader reads a work, few of them are interested in picturing a character’s every detail. In Northern Knights, the reader knows both Cain and Lira are in top shape due to the fact they’re both college athletes. I don’t have to say ‘Cain stood at a compact five feet, seven inches, with a ripped, six-pack of abs, ringlet hair that fell into his hazel eyes, and possessed pasty white skin.’

The reader knows from page one that Cain is a college athlete. They’re already picturing an athletic-looking kid.
A few pages later, Lira’s athletic physique appeared in the doorway. Again, I don’t have to describe Lira’s toned, somewhat muscular arms, chiseled cheekbones, and defined legs. The reader knows.

Just hint at description and the reader will get it. Remember, in a fast-paced society, the reader is more interested in the action, the story plot, more than they are description.

 

Rule #7: Simple over Complex

Choosing a simple word over a complex one will always win you readers. Unless you’re writing a piece for scholars, go with the common words. For fiction writers, this is even more important, as average people are reading your work.

 

Rule #8: Don’t be Redundant

Please, don’t add anything unnecessary. He clapped his hands, for instance, is redundant. If someone’s clapping, do we really need to be told the character is clapping their hands?

She nodded her head is another one. He shrugged his shoulders. Okay, you get the gist.

Just stick to ‘he clapped,’ ‘she nodded,’ and ‘he shrugged.’

 

Rule #9: Get Rid of Ups and Downs

Unless it’s needed, of course. You don’t need to say they flew up into the air. They flew. They descended down the chute is unnecessary. They descended the chute. Looked up, looked down, etc. Eliminate all of it.

He got up, she sat down, etc. It can all be avoided.

 

Rule #10: Get Rid of That (and other words)

That, very, just, suddenly, only, etc. You don’t need to use any of these words. That is overused, and for every sentence containing ‘that,’ see how it regards without the word. Ditto for very, which in almost every case a stronger noun or verb can take the place of very.

Suddenly has no more impact than it would if the author just states what ‘suddenly’ happened. Suddenly, the metal put a hole through the wall is weaker than the author writing ‘the metal put a hole through the wall.

 

Rule #11: Your Reader Gets It

In other words, resist the urge to explain. Many novice authors think they have to explain their character’s every action. Cain sets the story in motion when he attacks Southpoint police forces in Northern Knights when they invade the hotel lobby in an effort to round up high school and college-aged kids.

There’s no need to explain Cain’s actions; the reader knows why Cain is acting, especially since they know about his desire to play pro sports and live a self-serving life.

The same goes for any situation, especially controversial ones.

Or, there are times the author is explaining every little detail, which again, can be avoided. Many novice authors will say this: He opened up the car door and sat down in the driver’s seat.

For one, you can eliminate up and down. For another, an author can say ‘he entered the car,’ or a similar type of word choice.

 

Rule #12: Again, Your Reader Gets It

Avoid quotations except in dialogue. Again, if you’re quoting something outside dialogue, it gives off the notion your reader doesn’t get it unless you mark it otherwise.

Newsflash: The reader will get it.

 

Rule #13: Stop Saying What Isn’t Happening

You don’t have to say ‘she didn’t respond,’ or ‘he wasn’t talking.’

Scott told Ashley to leave the room, but Ashley refused.

If the character didn’t commit the act, the reader knows it’s not happening. If Scott asks Ashley a question, and she turns and gazes out the window, don’t say Ashley’s saying nothing; we know.

The same goes for ‘he didn’t move,’ or ‘she didn’t follow her mother’s orders,’ or anything similar.

 

Rule #14: Nouns and Verbs Outlast Adjectives and Adverbs

They say adjective and adverbs contribute to lazy writing while strong nouns and verbs reign supreme. I’m here to tell you that is definitely the case.

I never knew this until I incorporated it into my writing, but when I did it added so much power the reader could paint an accurate picture in the mind.

Doesn’t ‘she ran quickly down the field’ sound inferior to ‘she bolted downfield?’

Or, it’s so much better to show something through action, as if you can allow the reader to visualize your book like they’re watching a movie rather than reading.

“I can’t stand this,” he said aggressively.

Or…

He slammed his phone on the table. “I can’t stand this.”

 

Rule #15: Don’t Hedge

Avoid hedging verbs. You don’t need to say ‘he almost smiled’ or ‘she almost laughed.’ They either did or didn’t.
Never write ‘he slightly grumbled,’ or ‘she kind of frowned.’

There’s no hedging when it comes to verbs. Verbs state action, so they either did something or they didn’t.

 

Rule #16: Literally Isn’t Figuratively

You don’t need to say her or she ‘literally died’ when meaning it in a figurative manner. The same goes for all figurative language.

If you mean something in a figurative manner, ensure you say it as such. Something like ‘I literally laughed until my ribs cracked’ is useless unless it really happened.

The same goes for anything of its kind.

 

Rule #17: Readers Don’t Care About Stage Direction

Related to on the nose writing, we don’t need to know everything that’s going on in the scene unless it has something to do with the story. If you find yourself giving off-stage direction that has nothing to do with the story, delete it.

Before describing any location, object, or action, ask yourself if it contributes to the story. If not, cut it.

 

Rule #18: Don’t Head Hop

This is a tricky one because it involves mastering point of view. Whose point of view is the story taking place in? Or better yet, the scene?

If the scene (or whole story) takes place in Cain’s point of view, but the author instead tells the reader what Lira is thinking, that’s called head hopping and it will confuse the reader.

You only need to convey the point of view character’s thoughts. I like picturing the point of view character as myself, only seeing my own thoughts and not knowing the thoughts of non-point of view characters.

The reader will know what the non-point of view characters are thinking with their actions the author describes. If Lira’s angry with Cain (point of view character), she’ll thrust her hands to her sides, or scoop her books and storm out of a room.

Always describe non-point of view characters’ emotions through action and you’ll be gold.

 

Rule #19: Stop the Clichés in Narration

You might have a character that speaks in clichés, and that’s cool. What you don’t need, however, is to narrate your story in clichés, as your writing will get old fast. Clichés are ideas or expressions that have become so overused they’ve lost their original meanings.

Avoid them in narration. It will tire the reader as clichés aren’t original. If you want a solid readership, make sure your writing style is something original. If not, you won’t last long in the writing craft.

 

Rule #20: Shayna and Savannah Didn’t Cut It

Okay, Savannah stayed, Shayna got written out.

Why?

Because while I proofread Swords of Destiny I kept getting the two names mixed up, even if their voices were distinct. Instead, I thought typo, then no, then another typo, followed by another false alarm.

Luckily, Shayna had a group of friends in Northern Knights.

Enter Kiya, one of Shayna’s mind traveling best friends.

The voice remained the same. The character was the same. I just changed the name and altered the character’s appearance somewhat. And you got Kiya while Shayna stayed in North Columbia.

Help! The Editing Process Has Me Stumped!

For many of us writers, the editing process can be and is a drag. It’s the part most of us don’t look forward to, and we just wish we could write and upload first drafts to Amazon all day and all night, making a full-time living off passive income from now until, well, whenever to be honest.

The tips I’m going to give you today actually makes the editing process manageable, if not fun. It’s a fun process because for one, it allows you to read the story you created time and again. While the Law of Diminishing Returns eventually sets in after you read your story for the fifth or sixth time, rest assured that you will have a clean manuscript ready for publication.

In fact, if you can’t afford an editor, the best of which cost four-figures, you’re in even more luck, because this editing process is foolproof and one that I’ve tried for Northern Knights and Swords of Destiny.

Best yet, I managed to eliminate most if not all typos, plot holes, and even the teeniest of errors. I’m not saying my manuscript is error-free, but it’s as close to being so as possible.

 

Step One: Correct Major Errors

Okay, you’ve written your first draft, so now we’re looking for ONLY major plot errors. If you’d like, you can make grammatical corrections and even that of minor errors, but you’re looking for the major ones.

If you tend to write your entire manuscript without a next-day edit, which in my opinion is part of the writing process, you will find a lot of these.

If something like peoples’ names, places, geography, weather, ideas, and claims don’t match up here, you want to change them as soon as you get a chance.

Also, don’t freak if something doesn’t match up. Just look back into the story to find consistency. Keep your manuscript on a Word document and use the ‘Find’ tab if say, you suspect the same place or character has two different names, or if a character or even your narrations contradicts something previously.

Also, don’t read through your manuscript once. Do this TWICE, as it’s likely you will have missed a few major errors. For some odd reason, when we read through our own manuscripts, we can and will miss things, so don’t leave anything to chance and read twice before moving to Step Two.

 

Step Two: Correct Minor Errors

Okay, now you can move on to correcting minor errors. Some of these could be a character acknowledging another by mistake. For instance, in Missing in Columbia, Micah assures Cain of something, but just a few paragraphs later, Cain erroneously states, “Like Jed said.”

As you can see, going through Step One, I missed this crucial point since I looked for major errors. The example here is a minor plot hole.

Things such as character moods are big here as well. For instance, if Cain’s uncertain about something in one sentence but is confident in the very next, it can also be an example of inconsistency. Minor, obviously, but it will make more readers pause than you’d think.

If it’s hot out and Cain’s dripping with sweat one minute before being fully recovered the next, it’s another minor plot error. If Cain’s right-handed but is doing things with his left, it could be another error.

Jerry Jenkins once stated he had his characters wearing winter clothes in the Sahara during one of his drafts and it was only after going through his initial steps of revision did he spot it.

Read through your manuscript at least twice, and if you still find a good number of errors, read through one more time. I like to live by this rule: When you think you found your last error, read through your work again. You’re bound to find another.

 

Step Three: Grammar Errors

Here’s the fun part. Grammar errors.

Now, the good news is you might have spotted a few errors while reading through your manuscript, and if you have, great.

A lot of us will find and correct grammar errors while searching for both major and minor plot errors, myself included. As I said, feel free to fix them, just remain intent on the actual purpose you have of going through your manuscript searching for plot holes.

Now that we have most, if not all plot holes out of the way, grammar errors are the main attraction.

Always look for these words in general:

1. There, they’re, their

2. Your, you’re, you’ll

3. Its, it’s

4. Have, had

5. Is, are

6. Any word that describes possession. If something belongs to multiple people, the apostrophe is always after the ‘s’. If something belongs to one person, it comes before the ‘s’.

 

Step Four: Grammar, Part II: Omit Needless Words

This is a biggie, because every author thinks more is better. They couldn’t be more wrong. Less is more. Less is power. So make sure you reel in that power.

Omit the following words unless it makes sense to keep them:

1. Only

2. Just

3. That

4. Very

5. The

6. Of

7. Like

8. As

9. Suddenly

10. Had

11. Did

12. By

13. Be

14. Being

15. Was

Most of these words either contribute to passive writing or describe a verb that can be remedied by using a stronger verb.

‘That’ should only be used to clarify something. For any sentence with ‘that’ in it, eliminate the word and see if the sentence still makes sense without it.

Like and as are similes and should be eliminated.

Suddenly can be replaced with an author just stating what happened. The reader will know that an event suddenly happened.

Ditto for only. If there’s one, the reader knows there’s only one. And double ditto for just.

Had comes before verbs in passive writing. Eliminate it. ‘If someone had told Cain’ is passive. ‘If someone told Cain’ gets the same point across.

 

Step Five: Eliminate Adverbs

Anything ending in ‘ly.’ Seriously…..there is always a stronger noun or verb for your lazy adverb.

Cain ran quickly sounds terrible.

Cain darted cues the reader that he’s running faster than usual.

I like to use adverbs when a character speaks in dialogue, as it adds to their voice.

 

Speaking of which: Bonus Step: Add Voice

Yes, the final step is to add voice to your characters. Make sure your characters all sound different, to the point the reader can tell who’s speaking.

Don’t let your characters talk like you.

Instead, give them their own language.

Let them use certain words, phrases, and speaking styles.

Give your characters variety.

You might have a character who possesses attitude. Show it in their dialogue.

Another character might have a deadpan persona. Again, show it.

A third character might be the king of one-liners. Again, and again, show it.

Characters might have a short personality and will emphasize words and phrases often.

Give your characters voice and swagger so the reader knows who’s speaking and when.

How to Fit Writing Time With the Dreaded Day Job

How many of you are stuck in the cycle of waking up, fighting traffic, arriving at work for eight to ten hours, then repeating?

A lot of us do so six days a week and with it we sacrifice writing time and other passions for the sake of a place we admittedly would rather do without.

We want to pursue our writing passion and make a full-time living off our writing, but man, where do we start and when do we find the time?

It’s a question all aspiring writers ask themselves.

I’m currently working a 2pm to Whenever work shift and I’m in this thing strictly for the money. I fit in with warehouse work about as well as one of my favorite symphonic metal bands would at what used to be Jamboree in the Hills (the Super Bowl of country music).

So comes the obvious: Focus on both my writing to make money in it and return to my old fitness passion and start making money in it again after I turned my back on it not so long ago.

The goal for all of us is to get the hell out of these dreaded day jobs society has trapped us in as soon as possible. Only then can we start to experience life to its fullest.

 

Your Writing Time is Sacred

I’ve touched up on this in previous articles, but I like doing so every few months as reminders to my reading base. You need to choose a time to write and stick to your guns no matter what.

It’s like when I choose my workout times; nothing and nobody will stop me from working out at those times.

If your writing time is 6am, then it needs to be that way every single day. Ditto if it’s on your lunch break or 6pm.

Nobody can take this time from you unless there’s a legitimate emergency going on somewhere in your life. Don’t allow anyone to take this time away from you and if they’re confused regarding your writing time, be real with them.

If they try to guilt-trip you, then get rid of that person. True friends and understanding family members won’t do this; they’ll support you.

 

Speaking of Support Systems

A lot of writers out there, even those who have accomplished a thing or two, have dreaded day jobs they’d rather not be at.

Like you, they want to be at home, in libraries, or in coffee shops, or wherever their sacred writing place is, doing what they love.

Even if no one in your personal network understands or supports you, there are a lot of writers out there that will. While they’ll be online for the most part, remember that these are real writers and real people.

Twitter and Facebook have revolutionized global communications and you will find a lot of good people on both sites if you haven’t already done so. A lot of them are just like you and we all want the same goals.

While many writing fields are competitive markets, it’s important to remember each writer has their own niche or field that they write in, so don’t think of other writers as your competition. Many won’t be. And even if they are, we’re all on different levels as it is.

The only person a writer needs to compete with is themselves.

 

Self-Competition

As someone who used to compete in men’s physique between 2012 and 2015, I’ve come to learn one thing: It isn’t simply about the competition on stage as it was to me becoming the best version of me.

In other words, if I took the stage in the best shape of my life, I knew I’d done my job. The same goes for you as a writer. We still have about 45 weeks left this year, so if you can start today if you haven’t already done so and by the end of December, truly state you’ve come a long way, you’ve already won.

Set goals and commitments, such as:

1. Write every day during that sacred writing time.

2. Make at least three new writing friends per month.

3. Turn what you’re writing into projects and watch them grow throughout the year.

Guys, the possibilities are endless when it comes to self-competition, and soon you’ll be setting goals like:

1. Minimize adverbs to X amount.

2. Stop using two or more adjectives to describe, instead use stronger nouns and verbs.

By watching yourself grow, you’ll add tougher challenges for yourself over time.

 

The (Not So) Long Road Ahead

A year really isn’t a long time, though it seems so to many.

It’s already the middle of February, so the first six weeks of the year have flown by.

Did you do anything to better yourself yet in 2019?

If the answer is no, today would be a great place to begin.

Here’s why you need to pursue your writing dream despite the 40+ hours you’re working already at the DDJ.

1. Writing is a great escape from reality.

2. Writing will provide you a sense of accomplishment.

3. Writing is a process that you can see through from beginning to end.

4. Writing is work, but it’s fun and fulfilling work.

5. Writing is a form of self-care. If you haven’t researched the importance of self-care, I urge you to.

6. Writing will open the doors to new friends, both online and potentially offline.

Imagine accomplishing just these six examples over the next ten and a half months. Look at where you are now and ask if you want to be in the position you’re in. If the answer is no, then by all means, it’s time to pursue the passion you’ve always had in you and wanted.

Why wait another second?

Why continue to procrastinate?

It’s about time you started enjoying your work, feeling successful, feeling as if you did something other than the 9-5 (or in my case, 2-10) grind.

Get out there, write, make time, find a support crew, set goals, accomplish them, grow, and you will soon find that the full-time writing dream really isn’t as far off as it appears.

Oh, and always, always, always keep learning. Invest in courses, find ways that make you better as a writer.

Never think you know it all. Never assume just one or two people know it all. Invest in ways that will take you to where you want to be in the writing field and no one can ever stop you.

How to Avoid Brain Drain at the Keyboard: Two Simple Steps You Can Take Today

 

Okay, so what is brain drain? I first came across the term back in the sixth grade when my teacher defined it as coming back to school on Monday after the weekend or coming back after Thanksgiving or Christmas break.

Yes, she was one of those old school teachers who gave homework as if she was the only one giving it out.

Needless to say I passed her classes with a ‘C-minus’ and a 2.2 overall GPA back in the sixth grade.

Anyway, enough for the throat clearing. Today I want to talk to you about how to avoid the dreaded forgetfulness at the keyboard.

Recall my previous article where I stated my four awesome ways to get motivated to write.

Something I neglected to mention: Always have a notebook on hand or at least make notes in your phone when the inspiration pops up say, if you’re gazing into the sunset at your favorite place where the memories stir up.

If I’m gazing at the good old Wintersville water tower it’s wise to have something to write with so I don’t sit at the keyboard and wonder what the hell motivated me in the first place.

So, embark on the following steps in the following situations.

 

Journal

I don’t mean a daily journal. Instead I mean an idea journal. Jot down the thoughts, emotions, and inspiration. Sure, you can use your laptop in such situations, such as if it were a clear summer evening when I gaze into the lost horizons behind the tower and write down every single thought that crosses my mind.

Remember, you aren’t writing a novel idea here; just write your feelings and analyze them later on. They don’t even need to make sense.

For instance, if I’m gazing into the tower (see picture above), I’m writing something like this:

1. Time

2. Gin Blossoms

3. Not only Numb

4. Congratulations, I’m Sorry

5. New Miserable Experience

6. Goo Goo Dolls

7. Only Wanna be With You

8. A synopsis of my own, personal music videos for some corresponding songs like Lost Horizons, Hey Jealousy, Found Out About You, etc.

Notice that I’m associating time in Wintersville, Ohio with alternative rock songs from the 1990s plus some other subgenres.

Also note that what I wrote doesn’t even make sense, but that’s not the idea here. The idea is to know exactly why I drove to that abandoned grocery store parking lot to catch a view of the Wintersville sunset falling behind the tower.

At least I have an idea on what to write about.

 

Make Videos

Yes, make a video of your ideas. If I’m running around town during a summer morning I might make a video as they spark my creative juices.

Since Northern Knights was set in a Wintersville-like area, I did this constantly. Some of the more notable landmarks in Wintersville were also set in Northern Knights, such as shots of the water tower, the mural, Kettlewell Stadium, which is actually mentioned in the book, and the “location” of Summit University.

Note that no actual university is located in Wintersville and the nearest one is Franciscan University of Steubenville a few miles away.

I also snapped a little picture montage as well, which I’ll share below.

The pictures and videos both allowed me to be more descriptive while writing and editing the work.

 

Take Action

It’s more than just me stating this is what you need to do. You actually have to get up and do it.

I know the weather is still somewhat cold, but don’t worry, we’re only eighteen days from March 1st when the season changes in my neck of the woods.

Your homework assignment is a simple one, and don’t worry, it’s nothing like the mountain of work my sixth grade teacher once gave my class.

All you need is a notebook or laptop and a cell phone. Write your feelings and ideas, snap photos of places that provide inspiration, go home and get writing.

Trust me, you will be inspired by what you find and your creative juices will start flowing immediately.

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