11 Simple Tips to Increase Writing – Keep Your Eyes on Your Own Paper!

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Keep Your Eyes on Your Own Paper!

When I was a six-year-old in kindergarten, I was easily distracted and had a problem keeping my eyes to myself. When we were supposed to be working on an art project, the little boy next to me started talking and I got caught up in the fun of the conversation. The teacher noticed, and she came over and whacked me hard on the head with a big book (she was kinda mean).

While still in school, did you find yourself peeking at a classmate’s paper, only to be chastised by teacher? She would peer over her bifocals directly into your eyes, and you felt the fear of being caught. If you learned your lesson, you immediately turned back to your own test, refocused on blackening in those circles, and tried to guess the correct answers.

This current electronic social media age lends itself to turning people into modern day voyeurs. Like moths instinctively drawn to a flame, we are drawn to spy on others’ Facebook pages, You Tube videos, or websites. This creates a feeling of discontent. We ask ourselves, “What are THEY doing that I’m not? Why are they so much better than me? What’s wrong with me?”

Nothing is wrong with you. Just as keeping up with the Joneses and buying a bigger house or car will keep you forever in a destructive cycle, the same applies to writing. We have our own styles, our own methods of working, and our own distinctive subjects that push our hot buttons. Our neighbor has theirs. We are all different, and we work differently as well. As soon as we come to this realization, we will be happier, contented, and at peace. Our focus now back on our own work–we will accomplish more.

There are 11 simple steps that I strive to follow that help me increase my writing output, which cannot be accomplished when I’m looking over my shoulder at everyone else. Follow these steps, and I believe you will be on your way to more books, more blog posts, more articles, and a much happier you!

1)  Meditate. Spend some quiet time first thing in the morning blocking out the world. My chosen path is prayer and Bible reading. If you like to just spend it just clearing your mind in a quiet atmosphere, that is fine. Just clear the cobwebs out of your mind to make room for the things that really matter. This will give you more clarity and focus than anything else you do.

2)  Have a plan. Make a list, preferably the night before, of your top three items that will move you forward towards publishing that book, article or blog post. Use a planner (Paper or electronic) Plan out your month and then break the steps down by week, day, hour, etc.. I like using a Weekly or Monthly Planner from the dollar store that I can lay open to glance at, or a web-based planner can be found at http://Wunderlist.com. If you like mind maps, you can create those with a free one such Freemind. Try a couple different methods to see which one works the best for you.

3)  Prioritize. What is your top #1 item  to do that day? If you get through all three on your list–fantastic! I have found that writing any more than three down on any given day, is a recipe for feeling overwhelmed and torn, and usually not much gets accomplished.

4) Research or Study. If you need to get some research done–before you start writing–do this first. Organize all the research all in one place, such as a document or on a legal pad. Have it right in front of you before you begin writing.

5)  Environment. Figure out what type of environment allows you to do your best work. Do you need perfect quiet? Noises of a café? Music?

6)  Forget perfection –dive in! I am a recovering perfectionist, and I can truly say this keeps you from making progress on your goals. As the Nike slogan says, “Just do it!” and worry about fine tuning, i.e., editing, later.

7)  Social Media off limits! At least until you tackle the most important thing on your list first. Give yourself a time limit, and reward yourself by quickly scanning Facebook and Twitter, respond if necessary, and then return to your work.

8) Time yourself. Would you like more hours to magically appear in your day? Try timing yourself. I tend to do my best work when under the gun of a timer. Here’s a site that will allow you to plug in your to-do items and then set the timer when you are ready to work! You can listen to the ticking countdown, or turn off the sound. It will ding when the time is up. Try it at ActionEnforcer.com

9) Tackle one item at a time – Multitasking does not work! As human beings, we are made to only work on one thing at a time. Pick one item on your list, work on it for the amount of time you have set before you move on. Finish what you start.

10)  Exercise. Our bodies are meant to move. Complete one item, close down that screen of your laptop, push your chair away from the computer, and go take a walk, do some yoga, or lift some weights. Try to take a break from sitting about every hour. Finally, last but certainly not least:

11)  Be Flexible! Realize that life will interfere, and you will sometimes not be able to adhere to your schedule. If I can’t follow my plan I’ve laid out for myself, I realize the best laid plans…Give yourself grace and realize there is a new day waiting for you tomorrow.

 I’m always open for learning new tips. Leave a comment and let me know what tips have helped your writing output!

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Penelope Silvers is founder of PhilosBooks.com,
where “Independent Authors are introduced to the World!”
She is a freelance writer, publisher, and radio host of
Penelope’s Book Chat on Blog Talk Radio.

 

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Authors: Find a Fun Hobby to Boost Your Writing!

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I painted today.

If you are a serious author and you write, you should paint.

Let me rephrase that.

If you write, you need to find a hobby you can attack when your brain needs a rest from writing.

There is something about engaging that right brain that also engages the left. Since I have begun my painting spree, the words are flowing like water from an open spigot.

A few years ago, when I was trying to find my way as a writer, I read a book by Julia Cameron, called “The Artist’s Way.” I highly recommend this book if you feel frustration in your writing, and you need help unleashing the creative side of yourself. We all have this side, but most people never tap into it their entire lives. If you have always dreamt of being a writer, but were blocked from limiting beliefs, fear, self-sabotage, jealousy, guilt, addictions, and other inhibiting forces, this book seeks to help you replace them with artistic confidence and productivity.

One of her recommendations is to get into the habit of writing what she aptly calls “Morning Pages.”

In other words, journaling.

Get out the journal first thing in the morning, and let it all hang out.

Write, write, write whatever is clogging up your little head. Write about the little tick you hear in the car, write about having to call your mom, write about feeling depressed or blue. This is what is called stream-of-consciousness writing. You are head dumping onto the page to clear out your mind for your more productive writing time. This was a totally new concept to me.

Not edit as I write? Shocking! 

I am a bug-a-boo about grammar and perfection.

You are not to worry about re-reading, or editing, or correcting. Leave it as is, and don’t even go back and read it right then. If you want to later on, fine. Just don’t do it in that one sitting. I have now been engaging in this practice for years, and I can’t believe how cathartic this process has become for me.

The other recommendation that brought me to the painting table?

An artist’s date.

A date with yourself that you are supposed to set for once a week.

You must honor this date as you would a date with your beloved that you would never consider breaking. You must get yourself out of the house, and go haunt the thrift stores, antique stores, art shows, or whatever. Take yourself someplace you’ve always wanted to go. Go sit on the beach and watch the sunrise or sunset.

Just go.

Writers tend to isolate themselves and sit for way too long (which is another subject for fitness), and we become like bumps on a log. We become stale and stagnant and well, you know what happens there. Our writing gets stale and stinky and we get writer’s block. Get out in the fresh air, treat yourself and don’t you dare not show up!

OK. So back to my painting date with myself.

Am I a master painter like Da Vinci or Dali? No way. I revived this fun little hobby from my youth when I noticed my little cat and dog garden figurines were looking a little shabby. I mentioned it to hubby and he searched high and low (at Walmart) for some multi-colored acrylic paints that I could use to paint to my heart’s content.

My projects began usually first thing in the morning (with coffee in hand, of course) on our wrought iron table out on the patio.

I had so much fun giving both a facelift that I moved on to the faded stepping stone. It needed a good rinsing off under some water, and once dry I got to task in the tropical sunshine, and our faded little stepping stone went from ugh to vrooomm! It is now gracing our garden with its new found beauty. I receive the feeling of satisfaction every time I glance its way—a satisfaction that only comes from knowing it is a job you have completed all by yourself!

Then I got on a tear.

A new thought wriggled its way into my subconscious mind. Hmmm….I can repaint all of the smaller garden decorations the same way–those little daisies and their leaves, the flying bird, spade and bucket and birdhouse. Well, you get the idea. Before you know it, I had repainted every last one of them. Hubby sprayed them with an acrylic to seal them and keep them looking pretty.

Now I’ve run out of things to paint.

Before I start on the furniture inside the house, I believe I will make a trip to Hobby Lobby to see what I can beautify for my Christmas presents and then I will go write some more!

Leave a comment and let me know what your hobbies are. Do you feel they help you to be a better writer?

PenelopeBTR2tiny
Penelope Silvers is founder of PhilosBooks.com,
where “Independent Authors are introduced to the World!”
She is a freelance writer, publisher, and radio host of
Penelope’s Book Chat on Blog Talk Radio.

 

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All Authors Blog Blitz Featuring Author Aramis Barron

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Roaming Cadenza ebook Cover  Dust Requiem ebook Cover

Today I am pleased to feature author Aramis Barron through the All Authors Blog Blitz put on at Goodreads by author Y. Correa. I hope you enjoy reading this article by Aramis, and will pick up one or both of his books. Enjoy!

 

Leave a Good Story by Aramis Barron

One of the biggest challenges I’ve encountered as a writer is turning interesting ideas into good writing. The theory is simple enough—have a good idea, write it down, flesh it out. Success! Or so the theory goes.

In practice, I’ve found there’s often some sort of disconnect where the awesome gets lost, and what started out as an innovative idea turns into boring clichés in a vain attempt to fill the page. Maybe this doesn’t happen to you, but if this sounds familiar, what can be done?

For me, the best option has been to ask this question: what do you expect to see vs. what would you like to see?

It’s all too easy to fill the page with some generic plot progression while waiting to get to the “good part,” but that’s exactly where excellent writing stands out—it takes advantage of every opportunity to add more to (or remove the unnecessary from) the story. For example, a star-struck couple fights over a misunderstanding and then they make up. That’s the storyline. But what if they didn’t? What if one went into a jealous rage and started an anti-dating corporation/poisoned every box of chocolates in the city/contracted the t-virus and flew away into outer space instead (depending on your genre)?

Think about every story you’ve read, heard, watched, in which you knew exactly what was coming next. How did you feel when you knew what the protagonist or cookie-cutter villain was going to do before they did? Then look at it from the other side: do you remember some of the greatest surprises you’ve ever read in a story? Why was it surprising? What made it work?

An example from literature (spoilers!): In the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, after Martin is revealed as a serial killer, he asks Blomkvist who killed his sister. This opens up a whole new, fascinating plot line since it is implied Martin had killed her, which although short, works very well and creates the opening for an even more surprising ending. Another example is from the television show Prison Break when Michael and Lincoln miss their plane after they escape Fox River. After everything that’s happened up to that point, the audience has a vested interest in seeing the brothers escape, and expects them to, only to watch them fail. As it turns out, failure is an acceptable storyline!

Each writer has their own methods and styles, but if you find your pieces need a little something more to stand out, consider the questions above and don’t be afraid to explore the results. Sometimes the plot or even the entire storyline may change—that’s okay! Moments happen in life that are completely messed up and change the way things are “supposed to go,” but those exact moments are the ones worth telling. In the end, explore different options and see what works best for you, but most of all—leave a good story.

Before I wrap this up, I’ll include a brief advert for my book series, A Bard’s Folktale. The first book, “Roaming Cadenza,” is about three high schoolers and their mental unstable college friend driving across country to get the hell out of their hometown just after graduation. Finally getting out of their protective bubble, however, they see just how difficult the “real world” can be, and whether they each have what it takes to get by. The second book, “Dustland Requiem,” (available June 25th) continues the story by dealing with the fallout of the group’s decisions and trying to survive the lawless desert of gangland Mexico.

For more information, including a free copy of the first e-book, please visit http://emarosa.net

T. Aramis Barron
His Website
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Please leave your comments and let Aramis know how much you enjoyed his post!

 

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Writers are On a Journey – Everything in Life is a Lesson

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A writer’s life is akin to taking a journey.

Guaranteed, the journey is going to be a long and winding road.

It is sometimes an arduous trek.

As we are writing, we learn, we mature, and we transform—sometimes at a feverish pace. This can be an extremely painful process as we are pushing hard to attain the goals we have set for ourselves and our writing. I believe, as writers, we learn more about who we really are, than through any other path. Writing can be very therapeutic and cathartic if a person has lived through very traumatic life situations. Personally, I find that as I write, I can work through serious life questions I am seeking and be rewarded with answers that I would not otherwise find.

The other night, I dreamt about mountains.

These were no ordinary mountains.

They were vivid blue and white with peaks so tall, pointy, and sheer that no one could even attempt to scale them. They resembled some of those magnificent cathedrals in Europe with spires that go on and on forever. I awoke, amazed at the picture still vivid in my memory and the analogy that came to my mind:

“Everything in life is a lesson.”

Our writing goals are our mountains.

The peaks are what we aspire to reach.

Of course, before we reach the peaks, we must all start at the bottom.

All of us must.

You, me, and everyone in the entire world since the beginning of time, who have already attained what they aspired to.

We stand on the prairie at the bottom, at the foot of the mountain, craning our neck, shielding our eyes from the sun, and squint as we try to make out the peaks hidden in the clouds.

They seem so far away, don’t they?

Almost unattainable and unreachable.

Especially when those peaks cannot be seen by human eyes.

We wonder, can we really do this?

Ah, but that is where the faith part comes in. Faith in our abilities, our writing, our stubbornness, and our persistence to push through at all odds. We must have faith that if God has given us this desire, this unquenching fire of a desire in our bellies to write and write and not stop, then we must have faith that the lessons He is trying to teach us, are in the process of the writing.

We slowly begin to climb our mountain, taking tiny, tentative steps.

As we scale the face, struggling to reach the top, each step is a lesson learned.

When we strain and grunt and groan on our way up, we keep on learning, stretching and growing. It’s difficult at times, but not impossible. Sometimes, we pause to wipe the sweat off our brow and may feel like quitting. Once we finally reach the peak of that mountain, we breathe a sigh of relief that we are home free—the lesson has been learned–but they are far from over.

Again, Everything is a lesson.

In a writer’s life there will be many more lessons to learn and more mountains to climb.

Hold your writing close to your breast, breathe a prayer of thanks for the gift that you have been blessed with, and open wide your eyes to the lessons you have been taught…

and to the lessons still waiting to be learned.

Leave a comment and let me know what kinds of lessons you have learned on your writer’s journey! I love to hear from other writers.

PenelopeBTR2tiny
Penelope Silvers is founder of PhilosBooks.com,
where “Independent Authors are introduced to the World!”
She is a freelance writer, publisher, and radio host of
Penelope’s Book Chat on Blog Talk Radio.

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A Great Gatsby of a Story – Writing Tips from a Great Movie

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In my estimation, there are so few skillfully told stories that can keep you absolutely gripped to the book page, TV, or big screen.

When I find such a story, I want to tell the world.

Last week I become totally immersed in a captivating story.

I have never read the classic novel, “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald or seen the movie made in the 70’s with Robert Redford and Mia Farrow. Last week, when I plopped down in my cushy seat inside the darkened movie theater with my popcorn, all I could do was grouse about how long this movie was going to be! 2 hours and 22 minutes!

I just knew I was going to be looking at my watch all the way through, and my rear was going to be sore, and….

I did not glance at my watch even one time.

Once the previews were finished, and the movie began, I was absolutely entranced.

It was a visual masterpiece to behold and the story of J. Gatsby kept me glued to my seat.

The story held me spellbound from the start and never let go.

I pondered over the story later that day and the next, and came up with a short list of what I felt were some essentials to a great story:

1)   An element of mystery
2)   Symbols
3)   Romance
4)   A not necessarily happy ending

From the start, this Gatsby fellow was a mystery.

We were shown his life being a certain way, but we were kept wondering who he really was, from the time we first heard his name. And of course, he was not who we thought he was. We didn’t find out the truth until much later in the movie. This keeps us constantly guessing and watching to learn more.

Many symbols were used throughout, like little bread crumb clues that something more was about to happen. Different colors were sprinkled throughout the story, to lead us to think a certain way—when circumstances actually took quite a dramatic turn.

Stories with a touch of romance are always fun.

Mystery and romance bundled together?

Irresistible.

Some of the best stories don’t have happy endings.

I’m not going to give it away, but a sad ending will sometimes leave more of an impression than a happy one.

Suffice it to say that “The Great Gatsby” is no Disney movie.

Do you have some favorite movies that are great “stories?” Tell us about them and what makes them worth watching.

PenelopeBTR2tiny
Penelope Silvers is founder of PhilosBooks.com,
where “Independent Authors are introduced to the World!”
She is a freelance writer, publisher, and radio host of
Penelope’s Book Chat on Blog Talk Radio.

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Ghost Novel: Day 4 | How to Incorporate Writing into Your Day

See on Scoop.itWriting “Rightly”

Dean Wesley Smith – The writing of Dean Wesley Smith

Penelope‘s insight:
 

Now it’s been four days of writing for Dean Wesley Smith, and he has written 22,418 words. I am checking in with Day 4 to see if human nature will take over and he will take it a bit easy–since he has written a novella already! 

Of course, he was hired by a New York publisher to do this, so we could argue that he had a goal to get it done–maybe this is a lesson for us?

He hasn’t written one word by 5 p.m., so could I be right? By 7 p.m. he had manage to write 1,800 words in between answering e-mail and comments. He took a nap, and then managed another 1,000 by 9:30 p.m. He had a lot of “other” stuff he was working on this day, but by the end of the day, he had still racked up an impressive 5,070 words! Grand total now? 27,488!

 ***This review was written by Penelope Silvers for her curated content on “Writing Rightly”***

 Link to the original article and Day 4: http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/?p=8967

 

See on www.deanwesleysmith.com

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How To Attract Readers By Creating A ‘Lighthouse’ Author Brand | Bestseller Labs

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Seven winning ways to attract massive numbers of new readers and keep them for life, by building a ‘lighthouse’ author brand.

Penelope‘s insight:

This is one of the best articles I’ve seen in a very long time about building an author platform–one that will keep your name and brand foremost in the mind of your readers.

One method is to create a “Lighthouse” Author Brand. This works best with a series of books. Simply, this means that you need to create a theme-tagline to wrap around your books. This will draw all of your books together and keep people searching for your brand. For instance, racy author Jackie Collins’ books say “SHE’LL KEEP YOU UP ALL NIGHT” Eyebrows raised now. We get it, and love it!

Set aside some time for a brainstorming session to figure out WHAT your books are about, and a tagline that will shine.

 ***This review was written by Penelope Silvers for her curated content on “Ebook Promotion and Marketing”***

 Link to the original article and six more ideas: http://bestsellerlabs.com/attract-readers-with-a-lighthouse-author-brand/

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7 Types Of Digital Marketers: Modern Marketing Humor [Infographic] – Bit Rebels

See on Scoop.itEBook Promotion and Marketing

This humorous infographic breaks down the seven different types of digital marketers. It highlights how modern marketing is unique and creative today.

Penelope‘s insight: 
 

Find your inner digital e-book marketer within this funny and visually entertaining infographic. Are you a:

1) DATA WHIZ  (Data-obsessed)

2) E-ARTISTE   (Adores visually appealing graphics)

3) SOCIAL MEDIA MASTER   (Caught that social media bug)

4) BETA-TESTER   (Everything mainstream is so over!)

5) MARKETING MEGAPHONE    (Loudest voice in the room)

6) OLD SCHOOL ADVERTISER  (What’s wrong with the 60’s?)   -OR-

7) SNARKY MARKETER   (Knows what you’re doing wrong)

 I think I’m a combination of #2, #3, and #6!

 ***This review was written by Penelope Silvers for her curated content on “Ebook Promotion and Marketing”***

 Link to the original infographic: http://www.bitrebels.com/business-2/digital-marketers-modern-marketing/

 

 

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Ghost Novel: Day 3 | How to Incorporate Writing into Your Day

See on Scoop.itWriting “Rightly”

Dean Wesley Smith – The writing of Dean Wesley Smith

Penelope‘s insight:

 

Day 3 shares more insights into what it’s like in DWS’s world of writing over 7,000 words per day. He seems to be on a writing pace of about 1,000 words in one hour.

In two days, he has typed 15,359 words into the computer. Day 3’s total? 7,059 words, for a grand total of 22,418 words!

Even if we typed half of this each day, we’d have a small novella finished in a week!

 ***This review was written by Penelope Silvers for her curated content on “Writing Rightly”***

 Link to the original article and Day 3: http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/?p=8955

See on www.deanwesleysmith.com

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Successful Self-Publishing Authors Are Entrepreneurs | The Alliance of Independent Authors’s Blog.

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What entrepreneurs and self-publishing indie authors have in common.”

Penelope‘s insight:

 

Self Publishing Authors = Entrepreneurs.

The sooner indie authors begin to see themselves as entrepreneurs, the sooner they can make headway (on their own terms) with their writing futures. 

This is second-nature to me, and I suppose I take it a bit for granted, since I have lived with an entrepreneur for a quarter of a century. I have watched him build companies from the ground up with absolutely nothing.

Compare self-publishing tasks with tasks of the classic entrepreneur, and they are no different. Writing a book and marketing said book is no different than creating a product or company and sending it to market.

As a writer and self-publisher, you must realize that you have now become an entrepreneur. An edit to your manuscript may not be what’s needed–it may be an edited perspective.

 ***This review was written by Penelope Silvers for her curated content on “Writing for Kindle”***

 Link to the full article: http://selfpublishingadvice.org/blog/successful-self-publishing-authors-are-entrepreneurs/

 

 

 

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