Whether you're writing an Article, a Short Story or a full-blown Novel, your Writing Module will keep it all saved and safe for you, ready to Edit and do the other things a manuscript will need to do on its journey.
In your free access plan to Publication Portal, you get 1 Novel, 1 Article and 2 Social Media Posts. First off, choose which this particular writing job is.
Then you're away. Read through the thoughts and guidance below but you're on your own... or you should be.
We're not trying to teach you to write. You do that already. We're trying to settle you into the notion of being a writer, getting your headspace right, planning, getting yourself perfectly set up to write, make your written product better.
Setting the Scene
We're not going to suggest fancy writing software that speaks to you when it thinks your character should be doing something else. It actually serves as a distraction, too much going on. And that's the point.
The only thing you want going on is your mind, not the tools that serve it. Personally I tend to switch off spell checkers and everything else apart from this white page and something that might be happening in the corner of the rom with a spider. There you go, and you're off. Turn the brightness down on your screen and right here in a simple writing window, armed with one or two useful tools is all you need.
Dull, dull Spelling and Grammar
This is one of those useful tools as long as it doesn't bug you too much. Grammarly is good. Nothing does this perfectly yet but Grammarly is the closest. Install it and it will come live whenever you write anything, anywhere. In your most intense outpourings, turn it off completely or it will bug you. Go back later and turn it back on for corrections.
Then it gets easy. Write what you know and write what you love. If you wouldn't buy it, don't write it. Your passions are elsewhere.
Theres nothing more annoying than daydreaming a wonderful passage, concept or character and the get bothered by something else and that moment is gone. We all forget things. So don't.
Get your phone's audio recorder right where you can get to it quickly and speak your words into it, give it an idea title and just go. Take a photo at the same time.
Some ideas, you have to get up, make your excuses and go and do. Others can wait till morning.
If you find yourself craving an idea, an idea is unlikely to come. It's more likely to happen to you. So be aware, smile at everything in lieu of it.
But now, to the business of writing.
Quite simply, you have the be emotionally invested in what you write. It's easy to tell if a writer is writing outside their comfort zone and it's even more clear if they don’t enjoy what they write.
So which genres do you love to read. It's likely they’re the genres you'll write well. If you don't love what you’re writing, others wont either. It will come through. If you love your book, if you get excited about its contents, others will too.
Don't make it all about the money. That will shine throng in tour writing as well. You must have a passion for the material, something you really want to say.
Only this honesty can create a great read.
So you’ve got a job and a family, maybe some kiddies and something furry. You’re busy with the really important stuff but do try to write something every day.
It doesn't need to be thousands of words. Just something and it provides routine. Writing needs routine if it's not to be relegated to the bottom drawer in grandma's room.
Think of it as running. The more you run and train, the better you become. Writing is exactly the same.
You learn new techniques, how to use literary devices, and new methods for making it easier, you become a stronger, better runner.
The way you improve your writing skills is by making a commitment to your writing as a passion but also a job of work.
How many jobs have passion?
Well, there you sit, starring at a blank page, screen losing focus, thinking of just about everything else apart from the screen. It happens to everyone.
For me, block isn't just not being able to think about how chapter 7 starts. It's a dulling of all things creative. Do you ever wake up feeling less creative? I don't need to look at the keyboard to know that. Creativity is a drug and block is its downer. Plans are afoot for something different as soon as my toes hit the floor.
Escape immediately. Cycle up a hill, have a conversation with a tree, dig the garden, take a train ride somewhere you've never been. In a matter of hours you will be be right back here heading upstairs to the keyboard.
Sometimes it's just the day for it but sometimes all you need is a nudge.
Roll a penny down the stairs, see what happens, shout something odd out the window, touch your toes.
If that doesn't do it, do something else, a different aspect to your book's journey.
Maybe think about the images the story conjures. Why not design a temporary book cover? It will open the mind in a different way and you may find the block soon goes away.
Most people prefer not to be distracted when sitting down to write something. Others prefer organised distractions, just as removed from everything else, just themed.
Both have their merits. If an idea gets hold of you and you're on the bus home or just in a certain place you remember from when you were young, get our headphones out and listen to the wind tickling through the corn on a warm summer morning as distant machines make their farms work.
Take yourself to that place, a place that makes you relaxed and comfortable. A pair of headphones can let you write on a bus, in a coffee shop and definitely on a Farm.
Maybe adding VR environments one day with your keyboard right there on screen in front of you will make every space a space for writing.
But if you just prefer good old fashioned silence and locked doors, keep your phone away from you, tell everyone this time you will not be available, close out all apps apart from his one and let it flow.
A Note on Storytelling
The reason comedy is, well, funny is because comedians know how to tell stories in a way that keep us on the edge of our seat, and then they surprise us, which often initiates the laughter.
Read a few books about great storytellers like Stephen King and Ray Bradbury. Read as much as you can. Writers learn how to write through reading. The more you read, and the wider variety of genres, the more you’ll naturally pick up on the art of storytelling.
Get feedback on your stories. This is the hardest, but most crucial writing tip to help you improve. You have to understand your weaknesses in order to make them stronger. Ask friends and family for help in order to learn how to make your stories better. Better still, ask a stranger.
They may have less need to be nice to you. Ask them did they find anything confusing or unclear? Did they understand why your main character did what she did? Did it flow. Did they get into it, want to turn the pages.
Practice writing in
Not to the point of reciting random prose over dinner. Mad uncle Henry at it again.
You're looking out of the window as a car turns left down a track in the snow, leaving deep tyre marks as it goes. You’re seeing it right in front of you. Now just create prose around it.
The driver slowly applies the brakes. He knows it's a sharp turn and the truck would need the full width of track to get round it. He needs to make sure he applies enough juice into the turn to get through the deep snow at the edges. When the turn comes, he's at the ideal speed and give or take a little lingering in the back left, he eases through the turn and safely on down the track.
Keep going. Why is he going down the track? Is he visiting an elderly relative, have a slice of aunt Matilda's lemon cake, hear a few tales?
Has the house at the end of the track lost power or water? Was that a plumber's truck?
Don't be afraid to let your imagination get away from you. Maybe the old lady who lives at the house has wonderful stories to tell. Maybe there’s something sinister down there. Maybe someone needs help.
Exercise your mind. It's like a muscle. It needs it. Every time you do, it becomes more versatile.
So, for this one piece of the day, just forget about your goals. Forget about how anyone else will interpret what you’ve written.
Forget about the countdown timer over there in the module. Maybe even turn that off while you write.
Just write. Grab that outline, sit down, and write because it’s fun.
And one quick tip, always have a side project going on, something you have no intention of ever publishing. This is where your real writing happens. It’s a place for you to experiment, discover your writing voice, and learn what you truly love to write while still working on your main project and accomplishing those goals.
A bass player once told me that, if he went away somewhere and didn't manage to play a bass, but did manage to play a piano he'd improve as a bass player.
What Famous Authors
What better way to improve your writing than to practice writing tips from those who have mastered the craft?
Margaret Atwood is a huge advocate of diving right in and just writing, despite your fears, insecurities, or lack of direction.
“I think the main thing is: Just do it. Plunge in! Being Canadian, I go swimming in icy cold lakes, and there is always that dithering moment. ‘Am I really going to do this? Won’t it hurt?’And at some point you just have to flop in there and scream. Once you’re in, keep going. You may have to crumple and toss, but we all do that. Courage! I think that is what’s most required.”
Someone who knows the value of hard work when it comes to writing is J.K. Rowling.
“You’ve got to work. It’s about structure. It’s about discipline. It’s all these deadly things that your school teacher told you you needed… You need it.”
One of the best lessons Stephen King says he ever learned was from a newspaper editor he worked for while he was in high school and he has maintained that voice in his head throughout each work he writes.
“When you write a story, you’re telling yourself the story. When you rewrite, your main job is taking out all the things that are not the story. Your stuff starts out being just for you, but then it goes out.”
Ray Bradbury is one of the most quoted authors out there. He shares his methods for writing and how to actually succeed in this industry.
His best advice, in my opinion, comes from his book Zen in the Art of Writing, where he says you have to schedule the time to write. And write daily because quantity will make up for quality. In fact, quantity is what leads you to quality.
“Michelangelo’s, da Vinci’s, Tintoretto’s billion sketches, the quantitative, prepared them for the qualitative, single sketches further down the line, single portraits, single landscapes of incredible control and beauty.”
Don't be alone
Yes, you need to be alone to write. That's important but you don't have to be alone with your need to improve or your reservations or worries concerning your story.
Writing groups are a great way to meet other writers and put your skills to the test. Being a part of a writing group and workshopping your stories is, in my opinion, the absolute fastest and most surefire way to learn how to write fiction.
Writing groups provide:
Moral support. Other writers understand what you are going through.
Like-minded people. Share your hopes and dreams with like-minded people.
Feedback. The invaluable critique that comes with workshopping manuscripts. They will give you honest feedback even when you don’t want to hear it.
Healthy competition. Seeing other people produce work is the best motivation for another writer.
Check out Meetup.com or your local bookstore for one you can join.
However, one warning: if the writing group you find turns out to be a back-patting session, bail immediately. You’ll never learn anything if no one has the courage the tell you the truth, especially when it hurts.
And most of all....
Good Luck !