My Top Ten Writing Tips For When You Are Just Starting Out

Writing is hard. If you have ever sat in front of a blank page or a blank screen and wondered “What the hell do I even write about?”.

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Then you, my friend, know the struggle of being a writer. However, there are some things you can do to make the whole process a lot less overwhelming while firing up your inner muse.

Here are my Top Ten Writing Tips:

  1. READ. Read often. Read voraciously. Read fiction. Read non fiction. Read genres you like and read genres you have never tried. Read newspapers, magazines and periodicals. Read an encyclopedia. Read blogs. Read the classics. Read, read , read. You can not be a writer if you are not a reader.  Reading allows you to experience the flow of an author’s writing cadence, to see and learn how sentences are built, and to build knowledge for your own personal writing style. It is only through reading that you can become a better writer.
  2. BECOME A WORD FANATIC.  Words are the writer’s tool. Learn new words. Keep a collection of words you like in a notebook. Expand your vocabulary. Listen to how words sound when spoken and how they make you feel.  When I was younger I had an enormous Webster’s Dictionary (I still have it!) and I would randomly open it up and highlight a word I found interesting and then I would try to use that word in conversation the next day. This is an excellent way to build your vocabulary and fuel your creativity!  Try using the word “leucomelanous” in  a sentence today!
  3. WRITE FOR YOURSELF. You need to write for yourself first. Write about the things you enjoy and do not worry about what other people think.  If you like writing vampire romance stories than go for it! If you prefer more cerebral undertakings well then go on with your bad self! If you are not writing what you want then your writing will never be authentic. You have to know what you want to write. What are your interests? What types of books get you crazy excited? What types of books put you to sleep? Know what you like and write the story for yourself.
  4. JUST WRITE.  Don’t know where to begin or what to write?  Take a deep breath and just write whatever comes to mind. It does not have to make sense. Just get it on the paper first. Write words, write lists, write catchy titles. Just write. Get into the habit of setting aside time each day and getting something down on paper.
  5. DO NOT EDIT WHILE WRITING.  This is so hard for so many of us writers! We are in the middle of a writing session and suddenly we find ourselves self editing as we are writing. STOP!!!! Do not do this. WRITE WITHOUT EDITING. It is more important and much easier to get the first draft done completely than to try to fix and edit as you write.  Just get the book, story, blog post etc down on paper. You will edit when you are done with the writing.
  6. KNOW THAT YOUR FIRST DRAFT WILL BE SHIT. Just know this and accept it. No one but you will ever see the first draft. Every great writer, every best-selling author writes a shitty first draft. Do not expect perfection with the first draft. The first draft is the starting point. Do not beat yourself up over it. think of it like you are baking a cake. First you make the batter and then you bake it and then you add all the icing and decorations to it. The first draft is your batter.  When you do edits and rewrites that’s your icing and decorations.
  7. EDIT AND REWRITE.  ONLY AFTER YOUR FIRST DRAFT IS COMPLETE!!  This is where you will add all your bling to your story. But be patient. Your story will not be perfect after one edit or one rewrite–you may have to repeat the process over and over again. Do not panic! You will know when your cake is done in the oven.
  8. BELIEVE IN YOURSELF.  If you write then you are a writer. You are not a writer only if you are published or only if you wrote a book. You are not a writer only if you are a bestselling author. YOU ARE A WRITER RIGHT NOW. You need to believe in yourself and your talent and your abilities. Be confident. Be true to yourself. Believe you are a writer with every fiber of your being!
  9. CREATE A WRITING ROUTINE.  You need to write and write consistently every day. So set up a routine that works for you and encourages you to get those creative juices flowing. My own routine includes getting a cup of coffee, lighting a delicious smelling candle and listening to classical music as I write. Its the little things that set the tone for me, so that my brain goes “Oh yay! Writing time!”. The routine helps me to be a much more productive and proactive writer.
  10. JOURNAL. I can not stress how important it is to keep a journal, a writer’s notebook, or a diary. You need a place to reflect and dream. Journaling is so empowering and soul cleansing. Just let your feelings flow onto the page and you will see how it can spark new ideas and inspiration.  I carry my journal with me everywhere and just write in it as I feel called to during the day. It really lets me explore my inner musings and work through any thoughts or struggles I may encounter in my life.

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These are my top ten tips for beginning writers. Which one resonated with you? Do you think you will incorporate any of these things into your writing habits?  What are your tips for writers? Comment below and let me know!

Till next time!

Keep “Wright”ing On!

Instagram Giveaway!

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In honor of having over 500 followers (omgosh so exciting!!!) on Instagram I am holding a little bookish/writing giveaway!!

All you have to do is go to my instagram page at : instagram.com/allthewrightbooks

Follow the directions on the Giveaway post and you are all set! Here is the link below:

Giveaway time!

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Good luck! Love you guys!

Till the next time — Keep “Wright”ing On!

I Didn’t Catch On Fire! (Why you should be fearless in your life and your writing)

 

 

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So I did a thing last Saturday. A thing that those who know me well would be say “There is no way she will go through with it!” Because, let me be very honest here with you dear reader. I am a HUGE scaredy cat.

Not just in an “Oh! Don’t sneak up behind me!” way but in a full tilt, anxiety ridden, agoraphobic way.  I don’t leave my house all that often. I freak out (full-blown panic attacks) in crowds of people. I am terrified of being alone. I have flashbacks constantly to a night I want to forget. I have acute OCD and am always freaking out over being dirty, bugs on me, and getting sick.  My litany of health problems goes on and on but you get the gist, right?

But I did a thing. A huge, big, scary thing for me. I ran (okay mostly walked!) a 5k obstacle course race called Rugged Maniac. There were a ton of people there. There was a ton of dirt, bugs, mud and sweat. There were high climbing obstacles and obstacles you had to jump over. There were some serious athletes there and Lord knows, I am no athlete but I was there on that course.

Why did I do it? I signed up for Rugged Maniac  six months ago with a couple of ladies from an online moms excercise group. A group that holds a fair amount of live get-togethers that I never manage to get myself to due to the overwhelming fear of leaving my house.

But I signed up and paid $50 to which my husband, after finding out, so kindly told me “You will do it now that you’ve paid an astronomical amount of money for something I had to do for free in boot camp!”

But that was in February and I figured there was a full refund guarantee and I could back out any time. Which is usually what happens due to my anxiety and agoraphobia.

However, this time I started training. I did C25K in my house. I started lifting little five pound weights. I was watching what I ate. I wanted to do this crazy thing. The more I thought about it the more excited I became but still in the back of my head was that thought “I can back out”.  Because also in my head was all the looping thoughts that I struggle with each day. My anxiety amped up.

But August rolled around and I didn’t back out. I was not allowed to back out. My husband literally forced myself out the door and into the car. I had to be forced out of the car once we reached our destination. I forced myself to breathe and tried to keep my panic to a minimum. I wore a baseball hat which worked almost like blinders–I could only see what was in front of me. One foot in front of the other I made my way into the event.

There were twenty-four obstacles and I did about twelve of them! I swung across a zip line, I climbed a cargo net from a trampoline, I waded through ice-cold, chest high,muddy water in the woods and I jumped over fire!

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I was very proud of myself to say the least. Yes, I had to walk the course. Yes, I was freaking out the entire time in my head. Yes, I was insecure about myself surrounded by all these fit athletes. Yes, I was even downright miserable at times. But I did it! I pushed past the fear and found a part of myself that has been missing for so long I thought I would never find it again.  I had moments of perfect joy and clarity on that course that I almost cried from the overwhelming emotion in my heart.

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Here are some of the lessons I learned that day  and I think they apply, not only, to life but to writing as well:

  1. Put on your hat and push forward : I think one of the best things I did at the race was wear that baseball cap because it forced me to see what is in front of me and not concentrate on everything and everyone around me.  In life you need to focus on the present moment and take each day as it comes. You can’t worry about the future and you can’t live in the past. Be here in the moment. Be alive.  In writing focus on the sentence you are writing bot the entire project. You don’t need to overwhelm yourself with the scope and sequence of your work in progress. Just focus on one word, one sentence, one paragraph, one chapter. It will all come together in the end.
  2. Do what you can in the moment: I took each obstacle as we came up on them during the course. I assessed if I felt I could do it or if it was too much for me and my aching leg right then.  In life, you need to assess where you are and what you are capable of doing. If you can not do something now that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to do it later.  In writing, don’t beat yourself up if all you can write is one paragraph or if you only have 15 minutes to sit down and write. Do what you can do and come back to it later.  Your creativity and talent will still be there.
  3. Do the unexpected: I guarantee not one person in my family thought I would go through with the race. I am not exactly known for going outside my comfort zone. In life, you have to remember you live your life by your rules. Just because you never did something doesn’t mean you never should. Change up routine, cut your hair, get a tattoo! Do something you want even if it’s not the expected norm for you. In writing, always surprise your reader. Take the story in a direction no one saw coming. Kill a beloved character. Bring a character back from the dead. Gender bend your characters in an alternate universe. Do that which is completely unexpected and just yell “Plot Twist!” as you type away.
  4. Know your why: My why for running the race was to show that I could do it. I could commit, follow through and show up without literally dying. (Which is how I feel when I have to leave the house or be around strangers or just anytime my anxiety is at a ten!) But I wanted to see if I could take this baby step. I wanted to show my little girl what is possible if you believe in yourself. In life, knowing your why is crucial. Why do you get up and hustle everyday? Why do want the things out of life that you want? You have to know your why before you can do anything.  In writing, you need to know why you are writing. What or who is the project or article for? What are your goals? Why do you want to write this piece? Know your why and your writing will flow a lot easier believe me!
  5.  And Finally –Jump Over that Fire: I was so exhausted and spent by the time we reached the fire obstacle I almost said “Eff it ” and walked around it. But then I thought “How many opportunities in life am I going to have to jump over actual fire?” Ummm not many! So I took the leap, one . two, three piles of fire! I cleared every one.  I DID NOT CATCH ON FIRE! In life, you are going to have to jump over fires. There are going to be struggles. there is going to pain. But you have to go through it if you want to be emulate the mythical Phoenix rising from the ashes. Trust me, the fire is inside you and it will make you stronger. In writing, you jump over fire every time you get your butt in the chair and your hands on the keyboard. Because sometimes the hardest part of writing is actually sitting down to do it. So make the leap and you’ll see how easy it will become.

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Be fearless. Life isn’t easy and every day can be struggle but you can make it better by taking the leap and believing in yourself.  I know we can do it together!

Till next time!

Keep “Wright”ing On!

The Commonplace Notebook and Why You Should Have One

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You may be thinking to yourself – What on earth is a Commonplace Notebook? The short answer is a commonplace notebook is a book where you write down ideas, facts, quotes, inspiration, and your own response to the information you encounter throughout reading, working, studying, and just going about your daily routine.

Why is this a good tool for writers and readers alike to utilize ? A commonplace book is a fantastic way to record anything that resonates with you from a deeply inspiring book quote to the funny anecdote your best friend told you over coffee.

So why keep one? Well it’s definitely a good place to brain dump all your thoughts and reactions that you want to remember for use later in life – whether later means next week or next year. Also, some of the brightest minds in history kept commonplace books.  Luminaries such as Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, Marcus Aurelius, Virginia Woolf, Francis Bacon and H.P. Lovecraft all used commonplace books.

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Isn’t a commonplace book just a diary?

No. A commonplace book is quite different from a diary or a travel journal. According to the definition on Wikipedia :

Commonplace books (or commonplaces) are a way to compile knowledge, usually by writing information into books. Such books are essentially scrapbooks filled with items of every kind: recipes, quotes, letters, poems, tables of weights and measures, proverbs, prayers, legal formulas. Commonplaces are used by readers, writers, students, and scholars as an aid for remembering useful concepts or facts they have learned. Each commonplace book is unique to its creator’s particular interests. “

“Commonplace books are not diaries nor travelogues, with which they can be contrasted: English Enlightenment philosopher John Locke wrote the 1706 book A New Method of Making Common-Place-Books, “in which techniques for entering proverbs, quotations, ideas, speeches were formulated. Locke gave specific advice on how to arrange material by subject and category, using such key topics as love, politics, or religion. Commonplace books, it must be stressed, are not journals, which are chronological and introspective.”

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As you can tell there is definitely a differentiation between the two types of notebooks or journals.  But just how can you benefit from using a Commonplace notebook?

Here are 5 reasons for you to start keeping a Commonplace Notebook:

  1.  It helps you to focus:  If you are working on one task and another idea or thought pops into your head – you can jot it down in your commonplace book so that you do not get distracted and stay focused on the task at hand.
  2. It increases your creativity:  The more you use your commonplace book the more you will be inspired to write things down. Then over time you can see connection and flow through your ideas.
  3. It keeps everything in one place:  It is amazing to have a book that you can flip through and see all the things, places, quotes, people, ideas etc that you found important and know why you found these things important.
  4. It makes you a good role model: If you keep a commonplace book and especially if you have children or young people around  hen you are showing with your actions that learning is a life long endeavour. It allows others to see that you put immense value on knowledge and personal development. That is a powerful lesson in action.
  5. It keeps you from forgetting: As time goes by and we get older some ideas or things may slip into the ether of the past, but with a commonplace book you have a way to travel back in time and remember.

So go ahead and get started on keeping a Commonplace Notebook!

Do you already have one or plant to start one? Let me know in the comments below!

 

Till next time – Keep “Wright”ing on!

 

My Writer’s Notebook

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Do you use a writer’s notebook? Do you know what a writer’s notebook is? When I was in high school and college my writing professors would always start the semester by saying “Make sure you have a copybook for your Writer’s notebook.” No other explanation followed. So each year I would dutifully buy a composition book and label it “WRITER”S NOTEBOOK” and then promptly forget all about it.

It wasn’t until this past year when I finally got down to the serious business of writing my novel that my thoughts shifted back to the idea of Writer’s Notebook. I was curious How could I use one? What do I put in it ? Will it help my writing?

According to WriteThought.com  “writer’s notebook is a record of impressions, observations, and ideas that may eventually serve as the basis for more formal writings, such as essays, articles, stories, or poems. As one of the discovery strategies, a writer’s notebook is sometimes called awriter’s diary or journal.” 

So off to the internet I went determined to find out how writers used the mythical writer’s notebook. I learned that many writers such as Ernest Hemingway or Henry Miller or Joan Didion would keep a small notebook with them and jot down ideas and words as they came to them through out the day. They would use it almost like a brain dump. No rhyme or reason really just a collection of things that they wanted to remember.  I liked the idea of doing that, however, that is sort of what my method was. Except I was just jotting down things everywhere from post it notes to the chalkboard in the kitchen. No, I needed a bit more structure if I was going to make my Writer’s Notebook work for my life and my creative process.

So I went to Pinterest. (Cue Angels singing) Ah Pinterest you never fail to amaze me. There I found a plethora of ideas and resources on how to start a Writer’s Notebook. So I took the ideas that worked best and designed my own version of the Writer’s Notebook.

First I went to Target and I found this adorable spiral notebook with my last  initial W in the dollar bin.

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How adorable is that? You just can’t beat a dollar bin find!

Then I divided my notebook into different sections.  My first section is Character Development.

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This is the section where I get to know my characters. I will write out the character profiles. Get to know their likes and dislikes and flesh out their personalities on paper.

Next, I have a section for setting.

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This is where I start to design the world I am building or jot down places where I think I want to take the characters. I will sometimes paste in pictures I find in magazines and from Pinterest in this section for inspiration.

My third section is for Names.

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I will write down the names I come across or hear that really speak to my inner writer. I will jot down the names of people, places, colors, restaurants, streets, even products. Any name I think I can use in my writing goes in this section.

The section following that is for Good Words.

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I love this section because I am a bit of a nerd. When I was a teenager I had (and still do!) this ENORMOUS Webster’s Encyclopedia Dictionary. It weighs like twenty pounds! And some nights I would sit in my room and go through the dictionary and highlight all the words I thought were cool.  It’s for all the words that resonate with me and even words I may have just learned.

My next section is for Plot Ideas.

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I use this section to write down all my plot ideas and twists. I will also use it to sketch out my basic themes and overall plot structure.

My next section is called Conversation Snippets.

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Now this section is for all the things I overhear either at home (six year olds say the darndest things!) or out and about throughout the day. Sometimes I will hear a beautiful turn of phrase  from an elderly couple or a slang word yelled by teenagers at the park I don’t know and I will immediately jot it down in this section so as not to lose it.

My last section is for Novel Titles.

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I use this section primarily to write out the working titles of my current works in progress and refine them into the final title for the book.

I carry my Writer’s Notebook with me everywhere because it isn’t that large and fits nicely in my bag. I have also left extra room in my notebook to add sections to it as I see fit. One could have so many different sections in a Writer’s Notebook! Some different ideas include:

  • First Sentences
  • Metaphors
  • Similies
  • Quotes
  • Descriptions
  • Reactions
  • Foreign Languages
  • Summaries

The list could go on and on! So tell me do you use a Writer’s Notebook? If so, what are some of the things you keep in it? Let me know below in the comments!

Till next time – Keep “Wright”ing On!

Laura-Anne

 

Writing is HARD…but seriously what else am I going to do?

Well hello there friends! Welcome to On the Wright Path! This is my little corner of the internet where I share my trials and tribulations, as well as, my tips and advice for those on the writing journey!

So before we become writing besties (and I just know we will!) here is a little background on me:

My name is Laura-Anne Wright and I am a wife, a mother, a former educator ,and now a writer. I have been writing stories and poems since I was a young child. Writing has always been a part of my life.  I want to help people reach their dreams one story at a time. I love the thrill of teaching and writing so I have decided to combine my passions here.  I will be taking you along with me as I finish my own YA novel and get ready to publish it this winter. So get ready for a roller coaster ride!

I hope you will stop back soon for all the amazing content I have planned! Leave a comment  below and let me know what are some topics you would like me to write about?

Remember you are On the Wright Path to your writing dreams!

Hugs and Write on!

Laura-Anne

Check out my Instagram at Instagram.com/allthewrightbooks for all things books and writing!

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Please Excuse Our Mess : ON THE WRIGHT PATH Will be undergoing a brand/mission makeover and renovation project

Coming soon!

I am pleased to announce that this here little blog will be undergoing some intense rebranding and renovation over the next few weeks. I have decided to finally follow my own damn passions and stop holding back from what I really want my places on the internet to be.  The blog will still be called ON THE WRIGHT PATH but with a whole new focus and commitment to being true to my authentic self and the things, ideas and people I am passionate about. For anyone who has stuck around during my “hiatus” this is to let you know that I am coming back with bigger and better content and a whole new attitude ! I do so hope you will join me on this brand new endeavor! Invite your friends, grab a cup of java and let me entertain you!