Tag Archives: writing

Practical Prompt 10-8-18

If you’re struggling to keep your story on track during a first draft or a revision, take a moment to write down the one thing–the feel, or theme or idea–that most inspired you to write that particular story in the first place.  That’s the heart of your story. It’s the thing you most want people to carry away with them after they finish reading your story and the plumb line in every scene.  By putting it into words, you’ll have a clearer idea of what choices your characters will need to make and what actions they’ll need to take in each scene to remain true to the heart of your story.

Make Your Deadlines

Megan Norris Jones

My writing background is in journalism, and every good journalist learns how to write under deadline. You have a story due. You report it. You write it. You turn it in. You repeat. Because your editor is counting on you. And because it really is going to be published with your name on it, so it had better be good.

But even though I know how to write on deadline, I have difficulty moving my fiction forward at the same efficient pace of my nonfiction because (1) there is no editor waiting on it, and (2) I have no assurance it will ever be published anyway.

So how can I simulate the efficiency-producing deadlines of journalism in my fiction writing? Through a combination of written deadlines and external accountability. Continue reading

Train Your Brain

Megan Norris Jones

I used to be an A+, top-of-the-class, nothing-less-than-perfect-will-do student. I could study like a machine, get it done, and move on to the next thing. But I’ve realized something lately. I don’t study any more. I’ve graduated from school; there are no tests, and if I want to know something, I just look it up. So my razor-sharp concentration skills that I was so proud of? Yeah, they’ve gotten a little fuzzy, and it’s starting to affect my writing.

There are plenty of contributing factors. I have three children who ask me a question or need something from me approximately every ninety seconds. Ninety seconds is not a long time to develop concentration. And if they don’t need me after ninety seconds has passed? I remember something I’ve been meaning to look up on my phone. Or I check email. Or Twitter (follow me @mnj23!). Or I’m already plugged into a podcast. And then a kid asks a question again. I am essentially training my brain to be distracted. And if I’m distracted when I’m trying to write, my productivity plummets. Continue reading

A New Year Needs a New Routine

Megan Norris Jones

The key to being a writer is writing. The key to writing is establishing a routine. And the key to routine is consistency. But do you know what my life isn’t? Consistent. Sure, I’ll have a routine that works for a season, but schedules change, and then my routine falters, and my writing suffers.

For the second year, WriteOwls is hosting Write by Midnight in the month of February with the goal of helping you—and us—establish a daily writing routine by the end of the month.

Write by Midnight was a huge success for me personally last year. At the time, I had five hours every Tuesday to write, and  I used Write by Midnight to establish a short daily morning routine to keep my momentum going throughout the week.

But, do you know what? I don’t have Tuesdays any more. And I don’t have mornings either. Life has changed since February 2017, and I need a new push to establish a new routine. Continue reading

How to Write (or Not) During the Holidays

Megan Norris Jones

Welcome to the most wonderful time of the year! The days between Thanksgiving and New Year are packed with parties, concerts, school plays, and family gatherings. All of that is great for your social life, but it’s terrible for your writing schedule.

There are lots of ways to handle the rush and bustle, so now at the beginning of the season, take a few moments to decide how you want to manage your writing over the coming weeks. Consider your successes and failures from past years along with where you are in the writing process right now. Then read through the following approaches and decide which is the best one for you. Continue reading