Tag Archives: writer’s life

Write By Midnight Pep Talk 9-27-2021

Whether it’s dialogue, transitions, rushing through a scene, anticlimactic action sequences or showing vs. telling, every writer struggles with some aspect of their craft. Don’t waste your precious time drafting scenes you know miss the mark. Dedicate some time now to overcoming your weaknesses. Writers are generous when it comes to sharing tips of the trade. Spend time finding blogs and podcasts by writers for writers. Take advantage of the archive keyword search feature to hone in on the area you want to improve. Find resource books dedicated to becoming a better writer and read the chapters that cover the skill you want to develop. Chances are, you’ve also read books by authors who did a good job of writing the way you want to write. Revisit those books and study their techniques. Write by Midnight 2022 will be here before you know it. Use the coming months to learn, practice and improve so you can make the most of our next write-a-thon.

How writers benefit from reading aloud

Today is #WorldReadAloudDay, so take time to read aloud what you’ve written so far for the Write by Midnight challenge. It’s best to have someone read your work back to you. The experience is invaluable because it allows you to hear repetitiveness or wordiness, judge the pacing and figure out where the reader stumbles. If you’re uncomfortable with that, record your voice and play it back to yourself or upload your manuscript to an app or program that will read it aloud to you. If you’re brave enough to read to someone, you have the added benefit of observing where they’re confused or if they stop to ask questions. However you choose to celebrate #WorldReadAloudDay, share with us how the experience helped you as a writer.

A Number of Things

Naomi Hawkins-Rowe

As Megan pointed out in June, the world has changed a lot since March. Some days feel a little less disheartening, others stranger than fiction.  For those of  us with children,  when schools closed (for Knoxville, the rest of the school year), we were thrust into the role of a cross between Principle/Teacher/Parent/all-powerful crisis maven while watching our hair gray at an abnormal rate (I’m letting my crown reign, call it performance art).  I know personally, some days I feel effective, most I do not.

On top of a shift in how we move about our communities and job situations, as writers, we’ve had to change the when and where our writing happens. Some days I feel good, even excited about what I’m writing. And then some days I feel it’s unimportant in light of “the sickness”, as my youngest calls it, or Black Lives Matter, or Standing Rock (which as I write this has finally seen a great victory), or the people in my live fighting cancer or other ailments. On those days, when I can’t let go of my grief, that is when the writing is hard and feels like a frivolous luxury. But it’s also when I’m not writing, that I feel the saddest, because while I don’t see writing as a form of therapy, I do see it as a form of caring for myself and my ideas. Writing is the clearest way for me to navigate through this crazy world.

Sometimes it’s hard to know where to start. Continue reading

Writing Into the Unknown

Megan Norris Jones

Some people have compared our nation’s experience with the pandemic to the grieving process. Denial (that’s just in China!), bargaining (let’s stay home for a couple of weeks, and then this will all be better), anger (you can’t make me wear a mask!), depression (I’m going to get it no matter what I do), and acceptance. I’m not sure what acceptance looks like because I don’t think we’ve gotten there. 

From a creativity perspective, these months of upheaval and uncertainty have definitely affected my writing life, bringing it almost to a standstill. For a while, everything else was blocked out by the enormity of the pandemic. Events popped up on my calendar, and I just deleted them. Nothing was going to happen. All I did was devour news about the coronavirus. Even areas of my life previously devoted to writing shifted to focus on the disease. Half our weekly WriteOwls phone call was consumed by discussion of the pandemic. I quit reading fiction. I quit watching television and movies. I stopped midway through an audiobook. I sat down to write in fits and starts, but I didn’t produce much. I developed a hyperawareness of the fragility not just of my physical life but also of the activities and relationships that once filled my life.

Sure, some of my writing problems were scheduling issues, since the time I had blocked out for writing didn’t exist any more, and instead I was suddenly shifting to homeschool mode. But I can always stay up later or get up earlier to make time to write. I just wasn’t in a headspace for creating stories in the face of so many unknowns. Even when I was at the bargaining stage of hoping for a return to normal before the school year was out, I knew deep down that this experience was reshaping our culture in profound ways that I couldn’t yet identify. And if the whole world changed, then would the stories I’ve written and am writing even make sense in that new world? Continue reading

When the Words Won’t Come

Megan Norris Jones

If you write, then you’re a writer. You don’t have to wait for the validation of publication, starred reviews, or the best seller lists. Writers write. But what happens when you get stuck, when you’re not writing? If a person who writes is a writer, then what is a person who stares at a computer screen and then decides that she’d better go do the laundry?

We all have those moments/weeks/seasons when the words won’t come. Don’t panic. There’s no need for an identity crisis. You are still a writer. You just need to use a little bit of your creativity to come up with something that makes you step back and consider the whole story, instead of that one little element you’re stuck on, something that reminds you what makes this story worth writing in the first place.

Here are a few techniques that have helped me:

1. Write the jacket copy. Jacket copy is those two to three paragraphs on the inside flap of a hardback or on the back of a paperback that introduce potential readers to your story and convince them that they have to read it. This exercise will help you home in on the best parts of your story because they’re what’s going to sell your book.  Continue reading