Category Archives: Mindset

Start in the Middle

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve watched a student staring at a blank page, frozen, locked up, paralyzed by writer’s block. I’d crouch down to be at eye level and ask what was wrong. And I get some variation of:

I can’t think of a title.

I don’t know how to start.

I don’t know where the story begins.

Have you ever done this? Yeah, me too.

A blank page can be a frightening thing to behold, especially for a new manuscript. There’s so much potential for greatness. And failure.

So how do you get unstuck?

Here’s a permission slip to start in the middle. Or at the end. Or with some random scene or chapter that you’ll include who know’s where.

Continue reading

Read Like a Writer

What does it mean to “read like a writer”?

It does not mean reading aloud at an author event, although I now have a new idea for another Teaching Corner article.

To read like a writer means to read material not for pleasure, but for education. It requires a different skillset altogether.

Rather than immersing yourself in a story or reflecting on an idea put forth in a self-help book, a writer can choose to use published material as a master class in writing. A self-guided master class, to be clear.

How to Plan Your Master Class in Writing

1. Find writing material in your genre that wows you. This could be a novel, a short story, a personal essay, a blog post, a poem. You get the idea. Obviously, this means that you have to read in your genre.

The next time you’re reading for pleasure, bookmark or highlight a passage that stands out to you. Don’t worry about analyzing it in the moment. Just mark it for your next learning session.

Continue reading

Writers Provide Service to Readers

Tim Grahl, the book-marketing guru, once said that the X factor in being successful is whether or not an author believes in their book. When I believe in my book, then I speak about it with enthusiasm to anybody and everybody. I’m not embarrassed to ask folks to buy it because I know they are getting a great value. Said value could just be entertainment, and that’s enough.

No one feels bad for paying for a movie. We fork over the ticket or rental fee happily to steal away from the world for a couple of hours.

Books are no different. Asking someone to buy your book is giving them an opportunity to enter a fantasy world or to learn something new or to peek into someone else’s life and reflect on their own.

You, as a writer, are providing a valuable service to readers.

Never doubt it!

You, as a writer, are providing a valuable service to readers. Never doubt it!

Still don’t believe me? Think about your own reading habits. Why do you read books? Aren’t you happy to support the authors who share the gifts of their words by purchasing books, borrowing them from the library, leaving ratings or reviews, telling friends about them?

Having good books to read is always important, especially in a time when the world’s needs are so great. I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t have reading material right now. Keep writing and sharing your stories.

Photo by Fernando Hernandez on Unsplash

Writer’s Block, Part 1 (of 2)

Writer’s block is a mindset issue.

Every writer has experienced writer’s block.

And I’ve seen lots of conversation that suggests it is something to overcome, or power through, as though writer’s block is a foe you must conquer.

Writer’s block is a mindset issue.

Every writer has experienced writer’s block. And I’ve seen lots of conversation that suggests it is something to overcome, or power through, as though writer’s block is a foe you must conquer.

What if, instead, you listen? Writer’s block is showing up because it has a message for you.

How do you decipher the message?

Ask yourself: Do I want to write this?

No? Then stop. Let it go. No “shoulding.” Write what inspires you.

Unless you’re writing on assignment to pay your bills. If that’s the case, your answer isn’t really no. It’s a yes because, yes, you want to pay your  bills.  

Yes? Then figure out what you’re struggling.

First, look at the basics:

How are you taking care of yourself?

Continue reading

Pantsers and Plotters

Are you a pantser or a plotter or a planter (should that be pottser)?

Pantsers are writers who do not write with a plan. Outlines feel like handcuffs. They sit at the keyboard just to see what happens next, or who will show up.

Plotters are the exact opposite. They come ready to write, plan in hand. They already know what happens next, and next, and next, and there will be no surprise guests in their character roster.

Then there are the rest of us: some combination of pantser and plotter who has at least a loose plan in their head and enough flexibility to meander down a creative stream when it appears.

Which is better?

To be clear, there isn’t a “right” way to write. No extra brownie points, or fans leaving reviews, if you plot over pant, or vice versa.

Continue reading

Defining Success as an Author

Success is one of those words that can be packaged with a lot of triggers. In today’s world, many of us equate success with money and fame. And if our endeavor isn’t bringing in money and fans—immediately!—then it’s easy to judge it as a failure.

And I hate that!

Many of us write because we love to write. It’s a passion. And as soon as you place financial-earning expectations on your passions, something changes. This is not to say that you can’t earn moolah for your writing, because you absolutely can (and I hope you do). But what if making money off your books isn’t your first priority? At least when they’re in their fledgling states.

Continue reading

What’s Your “Why”?

Why do you write? There’s no correct answer, of course, but it’s important to understand your why. By which I mean the reason that will sustain you when the writing gets tough.

Because it will get tough.

And when it does, what will allow you to find your grit and persevere?

Some folks, who respond well to accountability, write because they have a deadline. For others, they won’t eat, or pay any of the bills, if they don’t write. And for others still, writing creates the space in their brains they need to find peace.

For me, when writing Love Letters to My Body, I had a message that I felt compelled to share with my daughters first, and then other women. And by compelled, I mean I knew I wouldn’t be using the gifts I’ve been given to their fullest potential if I didn’t write this story. And I don’t want to leave this life with anything left to regret.

Continue reading

Time to Write

An hourglass with blue sand sits at a tilt on pebbles.

Last month I asked what writing problem you would solve if you had a magic wand, and several of you said you’d magic up more time to write. Last I heard, the Ministry of Magic still isn’t loaning time turners to Muggles, so what else can you do to find time to write?

Last month I asked what writing problem you would solve if you had a magic wand, and several of you said you’d magic up more time to write. Last I heard, the Ministry of Magic still isn’t loaning time turners to Muggles, so what else can you do to find time to write?

Continue reading