Tag Archives: author motivation

When to Stay the Course and When to Move On

Megan Norris Jones

We’ve all been there. That moment when a new story takes shape, and your mind is alive with all the possibilities of creation. It’s brilliant, so shiny and bright, and you just have to start writing it now. Because, honestly, that story you’ve been slogging through for a couple of years now is looking pretty tired. It’s probably not The One, so it’ll be best all around if you dig into the new story right away.

Maybe yes, maybe no. I’ve made both choices: abandon a manuscript that just doesn’t have what it takes or stay the course till it’s finished. An idea that hasn’t been written down yet will almost always look better in your imagination than the reality of clumsy words on the page that never quite tell the amazing story that lives in your head. Sometimes it’s best to cut your losses and move on to something more promising, but if you don’t learn to finish what you’ve started, you’ll never actually write a book. 

So how do you decide which to do? Here are some points of consideration that have helped me.

1. Is the underlying idea of your story strong enough to carry an entire book?

Sometimes I have an idea that seems really great, but when I sit down to write it, that great idea isn’t really strong enough to undergird an entire novel. The first manuscript I wrote was like that. I wrote a draft, polished it up a bit, and took it to my first writers’ conference. Once there, it was a terrible shock to discover that my little novel was terribly thin. The idea simply wasn’t interesting enough to keep anyone reading. If I were to ever have any hope of publishing it, the spit shine I’d given my first draft wouldn’t do. It required a complete overhaul, down to its premise. I could have kept the characters and story world I’d created, but that was about it. I discovered that I wasn’t so attached to those characters to make the work worthwhile. I let it go. Continue reading

The Perils of Summarizing an Incomplete Manuscript

Laura Ayo

Here’s my take on how to write a novel synopsis for a work in progress (and an explanation for what I’ve been doing earlier this week.) Enjoy.

Middle-aged author wannabe Laura can’t wait to attend a writing conference to learn more about her craft. After discovering she must bring a synopsis of her work in progress with her, she struggles to summarize her book because  she isn’t really sure yet how her novel will end. Fueled by a deadline for when the summary must be turned in, she digs deep to get to truly know her characters and understand their goals and obstacles to achieving them. Along the way, she discovers a group of fellow writers struggling to write their own summaries for the conference. Together, they bounce ideas off one another, lending advice and encouragement to each other as they work to finish their pieces. Though riddled with interruptions by the demands of her career and family, Laura completes the synopsis before the deadline only to learn it can be no longer than 250 words long. Hers clocks in at 282 words. As she rushes to edit the summary with the deadline looming, she discovers she has mad editing skills. She turns in the summary with 50 minutes to spare and celebrates with her writing friends. Bolstered by a newfound belief that she may just have what it takes to one day become a published author, Laura decides to share in a blog post her insights about what she learned about synopsis writing in the hopes of inspiring other aspiring authors.

Write By Midnight Tip 2-27-19

With one day left in Write by Midnight, you’ve hopefully got your writing routine down pat by now. But that doesn’t mean you couldn’t use a change of scenery to help you finish the month strong. If you’ve been writing in a home office, try heading to the kitchen table or a porch for today’s writing session. Or better yet, leave the distractions of household responsibilities for later and take your writing to a public space. If you often write in a cafe, try a library, park  or even the comfort of your own home today instead.

Writing at a different time of day can also be a welcome change. Try writing during your lunch break or during your commute. If those aren’t options, set aside an hour during your normal evening routine to write instead of watching television or even reading a good book. Or, wake up an hour earlier tomorrow to end Write by Midnight on a high note.

Inspire Fellow Writers by Talking About Your Work

Laura Ayo

What’s the one thing you can’t be a writer without?

Imagination. Dedication. A thick skin. Pencils.

The question elicits multiple answers, depending on the person asked and their perspective. For me, there’s one thing above all else that I absolutely can’t live without as a writer: other writers.

While I’ve long known the benefits of having fellow writers in my life, this past weekend I realized just how vital they are to helping me maintain my daily writing routine.

My first day of Write by Midnight was a technical success. I wrote. I got in some words before the stroke of midnight. But I fell short of my desired word count after off-and-on attempts throughout the day. In addition, my efforts produced painful-to-read, utilitarian sentences.

As I drove on Saturday to meet a friend for coffee, I analyzed why I struggled so much the day before. I came up with several explanations. I wasn’t feeling well. I had other things going on Friday that distracted me. I didn’t have a clear picture in my head of what needed to happen in the scene. I had more research to do.

I walked into the coffee house with the excuses floating around in my head, vowing to shake them off and have a better writing session on day two. I drank coffee with my friend, also a writer, and her husband. We chatted about work, kids, travel and, as all writers do when they get together, books and writing. I only met this energetic couple a few months ago, so we’re still getting to know one another. As it turns out, that was an important piece to helping me identify what had been missing on Friday.

When I first met my new coffee buddy at a writing conference in the fall, I was working on a different manuscript than the one I’ve recently started writing. I hadn’t shared my new project with her yet, so I found myself filling her in on the basic premise on Saturday. Having to tell someone who is unfamiliar with your material about what you’re working on rekindles the enthusiasm that led you to write it in the first place. I left the café motivated and itching to get my fingers on the keyboard.

Then, on Sunday, a fellow WriteOwl needed some help with writing struggles of her own. After a few email and text exchanges and a 30-minute phone conversation, not only was she back on track, but I, too, found my words flowing onto the pages. As I fleshed out my protagonist’s plight in a high-stakes action scene, my phone beeped with a grateful text from her:

“I don’t know what I’d do without you guys! I just hope I give as much back as you give.”

I assured her that she does and realized, at that moment, that I needed to set a second goal for myself for Write by Midnight. In addition to writing every day for at least an hour, I also plan to talk to other writers every day this month, even if it’s just via text, blog or tweet. I challenge you to do the same, either here or with the writers I hope you have in your inner circle. Share your successes and your struggles. Talk about your characters, your voice, your plot, your setting. It’s always an energizing, positive, motivating experience that will only make you a better writer.

Ready, Set, Write By Midnight!

If you’re dedicated to making writing your priority, you’ve come to the right place at the right time. Today, the WriteOwls community embarks on its  third annual Write By Midnight journey. Here, you will find support, encouragement and tips from fellow writers who aspire to write every day and reach their writing goals. Continue reading