You are allowed to write badly.

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We’ve probably all heard the adage, “Give yourself permission to write crap,” but I want to talk about it because it’s such an important one. We must face the inevitability that not every word we type will be fabulous, and that’s okay. We are allowed to be imperfect. Welcome it, embrace it. It’s your right as a human.

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How to write what you know (even when you don’t know)

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It’s as ubiquitous as “Show, don’t tell.” You probably can’t even remember the first time you heard it, it’s touted so widely – in advice books, in classrooms, in movies about writers. Even the most non-writiest nonwriter who hasn’t held a pen since high school knows to write what we know.

But what does that actually mean?

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Happy 2017! New blogging system plus my writer bucket list

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Welcome back and happy 2017! A couple news items:

Firstly, I’ve started going by my middle name, Noel. (As in, the Christmasy pronunciation of Noel. NOT the one that rhymes with *roll* which is what my eyes do whenever someone says it like that, hehe.) My full name will still be listed on my blog and Twitter, as that is what I’ll be published as, but amongst friends and such I’d like to be called Noel. 🙂

Secondly, I’m adopting a new system for how I’ll be blogging each week of the month:

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NaNoThankYou (repost)

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In only 1 more day, thousands of writers across the globe will be mopping their brows, nursing their keyboard-burnt fingers, and collapsing into piles of first draft pages. That’s right – NaNoWriMo is almost complete. Three cheers to all those who faced the challenge!

For those who don’t know, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, and the goal is to write as close to 50,000 words as you can between November 1st and 30th.

I personally don’t participate, but I get asked a lot if I do, so I thought I’d write a post explaining why. This isn’t to knock the NaNo’ers, just to provide my own perspective.

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Show up, have faith, let go – writing wisdom from Julia Cameron

Two years ago I read an amazing book called “The Right to Write” by Julia Cameron, full of warm-hearted wisdom about the creative process, self-doubt, self-criticism, and motivation. I’ve recommended this book to a number of writers since then, and decided today I would share the notes I took while reading, in hopes that you find them as encouraging as I did.

(These are part quotes, part summaries, typed here exactly as I penned them in my notebook. I’ve made bold the ones that most resonated with me.)

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Don’t just write stories. LIVE stories.

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Today’s post comes to you from French Polynesia! Well, sorta – I wrote it while we were there, but I’m publishing after we’ve returned. Does that count? When I wrote this, I was surfing on the back of a wild dolphin, and the dolphin was wearing sunglasses, and was probably TOTALLY my new best friend. Yes, that sounds factual. *nods*

Craig and I are relentless wanderers, ever thirsty for the faraway. So we decided to celebrate our five-year anniversary on the Polynesian island of Mo’orea. Travel not only nourishes my soul, it betters me as a writer by providing my mind a rest as well as material.

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Next time, muse, I’ll need to see a doctor’s note. (Repost)

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It’s one of those days again. You’ve sat down at your desk, all set to work, but… Groan. Your muse has called in sick. Last time it was a dead car battery, and before that, the dog ate its homework. Whatever the reason, your muse is gone and you’re left high and dry.

Yup, it’s that infamous writer’s block. Here is a list of handy solutions for the next time it happens to you.

You can…

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How to frustrate a writer: “Where’s the hook?”

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Writers talk a lot about hooks-the thing in a story’s opening that grabs the reader and makes them want to continue. It’s a popular question among writing groups when critiquing a first page or scene: “Where’s the hook?”

This can be… frustrating.

The problem is that critiquers often don’t treat the term like the broad, vague thing that it is, which makes their critiques broad, vague, and unhelpful. First I’m going to explain how hooks are subjective, and then how to make your critique more beneficial to the writer.

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IT’S DONE IT’S DONE IT’S FINALLY DONE

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I finished writing my second novel.

Three years, you guys.

Three years of blood, sweat, and tears. (And ink stains?) Three years of banging my head against the keyboard. Three years of sobbing into my hands when things felt too daunting to go on.

And three years of LOVING this story, despite it all. Because that’s the only way I could have pushed through: how deeply I cared about this book underneath all the struggle.

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To plot or to pants

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Writers LOVE this question: are you a plotter or a pantser? They talk about it all the time. They talk about it more than they actually write! 😉

In case you don’t know, this question is in regards to how you go about creating your novel. Do you form the whole plot ahead of time, following an outline of pre-planned scenes from beginning to end? (That is, do you “plot?”) Or do you wing it, forging onward with maybe a loose idea of where to go but mostly improvising the journey? (That is, do you “write by the seat of your pants?” Shortened to “pantsing.”)

That great term “pantsing” has become pretty normalized among writers, but to the first-time hearer it’s probably not intuitive. The casual eavesdropper probably thinks “pantsers” just go around pulling down trousers. Fortunately that is not the case!

(Well, maybe some do. We’re a weird bunch.)

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