Writing

Creative Exercises to Keep You Going

Whitney Eklof is currently an offline marketing specialist for Author Solutions, the world leader in supported self-publishing. She has a master’s degree in telecommunications from Indiana University, focusing specifically on storytelling across a range of mediums and storyworld creation.  While at IU, she also served as an associate instructor, educating students about writing, storytelling, and other telecommunications-related subjects, and worked as a writer for Indiana University’s Media Team.

Creativity can be hard to come by. Some days we’re just worn out, or we feel we’ve exhausted our creative juices. Writing, an inherently creative process, is no different. There are days we’re just dog-gone out of the dose of creativity we need to keep pushing our story forward. However, we don’t have to languish in our creative void – there are a whole host of creative exercises we can try to get our writing juices flowing again. Below are just a few suggestions, from the obvious to the obscure.

The obvious

Free write: You are probably familiar with this technique. Simply set aside what you’re working on and write. Write whatever comes to mind; write in full on stream-of-consciousness. Don’t worry about spelling or grammar mistakes or that the paragraphs don’t flow together. Just write. Free what’s in your heart and mind and put it on a page – you never know where it’ll take you.

writing-1209121_960_720Read: We are often inspired by others. In fact, that may be the reason you started writing in the first place. Maybe you read a story that sucked you in completely and charged you up to write something of your own. Take some time to go back to those roots. Read something you really enjoy; even better if it’s in the same genre you’re writing in. See how someone else spins a sentence or brings a character to life. Let someone else inspire you instead of trying to will creativity into existence.

Utilize writing prompts: There are hundreds of books and websites full of writing prompts. Whether or not they relate to your book’s subject-matter, taking on a prompt can let your mind roam free. Don’t be afraid to embrace a genre you don’t normally write in either! Writing prompts give you just enough direction to send you down the path to creativity.

The not so obvious

Exercise: When we think about trying to jog our writing creativity, we often focus on writing-related exercises (the obvious ones mentioned above), but exercises unrelated to writing can also help us find the creativity we need to finish that next chapter. In comes the most straightforward exercise of all: exercise. It gets your heart pumping, gets you out of that hunched-over-your-laptop position, and just flat-out increases creativity. Scientific study even supports it!

Meditate: Mindfulness meditation has exploded in popularity over recent years. Mindfulness is about slowing down, taking in your surroundings (and your body), and simply being. It’s a practice about being present, and not letting the distractions of life in. The process of mindfulness can boost creativity as it helps us focus and frees us from worry or tangential rabbit holes.

The obscure

Play: That’s right, play. Sit down with your children, nieces, nephews, pets, or even by yourself and play. Free your mind from stress and worries and just imagine yourself as a princess, a powerful wizard, or simply be your dog’s favorite ball thrower. Play not only incorporates exercise; it helps expand our thinking in new directions. Instead of thinking linearly all the time, we open ourselves to more lateral thinking and associations. You might be surprised at how creative kids can be, they may end up providing the inspiration you needed. Beyond that, play is simply important, whether you’re a kid or an adult.

Restrict yourself: This one probably seems counter-intuitive. You probably imagine creativity is a product of freedom, and sometimes that’s true. However, there is power in restricting yourself, as the story behind the creation of Dr. Seuss’ classic, “Green Eggs and Ham,” demonstrates. By reigning in your boundaries, you’re forcing your brain to work within confines it may not be used to – giving it a new challenge, and forcing you outside of your comfort zone.

Creativity is something we can find in the most unexpected of places, and it’s something essential to writing – no matter if we’re writing a sci-fi saga or a how-to helper. When our creativity wanes, it can bring our writing to a halt, but it doesn’t have to spell the end of our story. There are thousands of creative exercises out there and the ones listed here are but a few. So, please, take some of the ideas listed above and give them a whirl, or share some of your own creative exercises to help a fellow writer out of their creative void.

Write on, fellow writers!

Archway Publishing is always looking for content for its blog. If you’re an Archway Publishing author and would like to share an idea for a guest blog post, please tweet the Archway Publishing Twitter account @ArchwayPub or send us a message at the Archway Publishing Facebook page.

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Writing

Writing Advice from Famous Authors

Regan Platt is an offline marketing intern at Author Solutions, the world leader in supported self-publishing. She is currently a senior at Indiana University where she studies English. Regan is in Indiana University’s Liberal Arts Management Program, an honors level interdisciplinary program that incorporates Kelley School of Business courses with a liberal arts education. 

Don’t stop reading.Don't stop reading.

William Faulkner: “Read, read, read. Read everything — trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it’s good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out of the window.”

Meaning: Faulkner emphasizes the importance of immersion. If you constantly surround yourself with writing, then you can start to observe both valuable techniques and common pitfalls. As you put to practice what you’ve observed, your own writing will become all the better for it.

Write the book you can’t find.

Toni Morrison: “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”               

Meaning: This quote can be read as a call to arms for dreamers and “creatives.” The world would have so much less to read and dream if those with great stories never shared them.

Follow your instincts.

Saul Bellow: “You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write.”                                    

Meaning: Bellow comforts and encourages fellow writers who work in bursts of passion. Inspiration may come at the strangest and least convenient of times, yet when the muse calls it is best to answer.

Beware the predictable.Robert Frost Quote

Robert Frost: “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.”

Meaning: Frost suggests that strong writing occasionally necessitates a stream-of-consciousness technique that leaves only feelings and ideas. This emotional work results in literary moments of ingenuity.

Show, don’t tell.

Anton Chekhov: “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”

Meaning: Our final quote by Chekhov reverberates the traditional writing advice “show, don’t tell.”  Engaging writing leaves a reader to do some of the “visualizing” work themselves. Rather than dully listing the circumstances, great writing will reveal what’s happening in an innovative way.

 

Archway Publishing is always looking for content for its blog. If you’re an Archway Publishing author and would like to share an idea for a guest blog post, please tweet the Archway Publishing Twitter account @ArchwayPub or send us a message at the Archway Publishing Facebook page.

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Writing

Thirteen Mistakes Readers Always Catch – Part One

Finding Mistakes

If you’re reading this, then chances are you’re a writer. And if you’re a writer, then chances are you’ve read a book and set it down in disappointment because you found some mistakes that offend your sense of professionalism.

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We all have.

Worse than finding an annoying blunder while reading is when an error is pointed out in your own work. A person finds a mistake in your work that you somehow missed. This is a mortifying moment. It’s especially annoying because the mistake is usually obvious after it’s been found. We know you hate this sensation and moment as much as we do! Continue reading

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Writing

Four Ways to Manage Your Writing Schedule

Rumor has it J.K. Rowling worked for five years, building the world of Harry Potter and plotting all seven books before she began writing anything. Jack Kerouac reportedly wrote the draft of On the Road in less than a month. How long will it take you to write or finish your book?

The right answer is up to you.

The one thing you will absolutely need is some kind of plan. It doesn’t matter whether your writing plan is a month long or a year long. The time is less important than the plan.

In the post-Four Ways to Manage Your Writing Schedule, Archway Publishing offers 4 easy tips you can use to help you keep to your writing plan, whatever it is.

Click here to read more >>

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Writing

Meet Max!: The Editing Process

From time to time, Archway Publishing turns over its blog to its authors, giving them the opportunity to share stories and perspectives about their individual self-publishing journeys. The following are the words of Elizabeth Rosso, author of “Meet Max”. Download the Archway Publishing free publishing guide for more information on our supported self-publishing services. 

Welcome back! Last time was all about how I came up with the idea for Max and got everything preserved in writing. The resulting smorgasbord of thoughts was far from a finished product, however; it needed work. Lots of work. As overwhelming as that might sound, it really boiled down to length and page content.
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First, length. I needed to keep my target audience in mind. A child’s attention span is shorter than an adult’s, and younger children will lose interest more quickly than older ones. But which parts to condense, or cut out altogether? At first I wasn’t sure, so I saved all the deleted language into another file so I could add it back in easily if needed. As I worked, I noticed that certain sections felt like they were dragging, or that some parts seemed to need more work than others. Those are the sections I cut out – after all, if it was my work and even I thought it was dragging, what child would stick around to hear what happens next? In the end it came down to keeping only those parts of the story that moved – they had action verbs or involved dialogue. And when the storyline reached a point where it was naturally ready to shift to another activity or another day, that’s when this particular story ended. The new day would be a new story!

Next it was time to decide what text went on which page and with which illustration (even though I didn’t have illustrations…yet). Since it’s a children’s book, my initial thought was to keep it very simple, with just one sentence on each page. But after I divided the manuscript that way, it became clear that this was a bit too simple, because the story seemed to drag on forever. So I moved towards keeping one idea or concept per page: Max’s size, his family, his home, etc. I still limited the text so it wouldn’t be overwhelming for my target audience, but even with two or three sentences per page it felt neither too wordy nor too slow.

After all that – along with a lot of internal back-and-forth over word choice – I finally had my manuscript. Now I needed to bring it to life. More questions: do I go the traditional route, paved with rejection letters from big publishing houses? Or do I publish it myself? You already know the answer, but more on how I got there next time!

Archway Publishing is always looking for content for its blog. If you’re an Archway Publishing author and would like to share an idea for a guest blog post, please tweet the Archway Publishing Twitter account @ArchwayPub and Like the Archway Publishing Facebook page.  

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Writing

4 Words to Unleash Your Creativity

Creativity is a very interesting and often debated topic. Is it something you are born with or something you can develop? Is it something that only happens when limitations are removed or is there a process you can follow to foster creative ideas?

Keith Ogorek, senior vice president of marketing for Author Solutions – which operates Archway Publishing for Simon & Schuster, shares 4 words that will help you unleash your creativity in his Indie Book Writers blog. In the post, Ogorek explains how 4 simple words can fuel your creativity.

Click here to read more >>

 

Archway Publishing is always looking for content for its blog. If you’re an Archway Publishing author and would like to share an idea for a guest blog post, please tweet the Archway Publishing Twitter account @ArchwayPub and Like the Archway Publishing Facebook page.

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self-publishing tips, Writing

One Draft Wonder

Many writers are confused about what happens after you have managed to get the first draft out of your head and onto the page. There are some who mistakenly go straight to the publishing process. However, there are a few more steps to take before you can get there.

For many writers, the first draft is just the bare bones of the finished work. It should be an introductory draft where you get all your ideas on to paper. Anything is possible in this draft, write down everything that’s in your head and worry about the editing in later drafts. Once you get this done, go ahead and print it out and go through it and make notes or corrections as needed. Take your time on this step to make sure you can really clean it up before you go on to the second draft.

Your second draft should be where you create the structure and make sure the story has a good flow. Here you can decide if the story works or if you want to go back to the drawing board. This is the point where you have an actual manuscript. You should go over your work a few times and make sure it makes sense. Most publishers recommend a structural edit which is usually given to you as a separate document, broken down into sections based on what is being evaluated. After you get your edits back, take your time making any changes you may need to.

One step that not a lot of authors use is having beta readers. Beta readers are a trusted group of people who evaluate your book from a reader’s perspective. You should only get to this step when you are completely satisfied with your book. You should generally pick 5 to 6 people who enjoy and understand the genre of your book and who can spot issues.

Another step that is recommended is line editing. This step can be pretty brutal. Line edits are more about word choice, grammar and sentence structure. Try not to take all the editing and red ink to heart. The goal is to make your book stronger and your readers will appreciate you for it.

After you have made all the revisions from the beta readers and the line editor, give your manuscript one last final proof-read from a professional and get ready for the publication process!

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Writing

Outline Before You Write

Mention the word outline in a room full of writers, and you’re sure to ignite a firestorm of passionate debate. Writers either love to use this tool to improve their writing or they hate it. While it may not suit every writer, a well thought-out outline can be a valuable asset, and serve as a road map to which a lost writer can refer to get back on the path to success.

Keith Ogorek, senior vice president of marketing for Author Solutions – which operates Archway Publishing for Simon & Schuster, shared three options for creating an outline on his Indie Book Writers blog. In the post, Ogorek reviews three popular options: the classic outline, the summary outline and storyboarding.

 

Click here to read more about outlines >>

 

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