What to Do When you Can’t Write

Lately I’ve had trouble writing. It’s not that I’m out of ideas or have hit writer’s block. It’s also not that I don’t have time to write – I have the same amount of time I’ve always had. But sometimes life just does things, and often it feels like everything happens at once. For example, I’m getting ready to move to another state, my car has been in the shop and needs to go back to the shop again, and I’ve been struggling with some health challenges.

I’m not trying to complain or air all my dirty laundry here, but because of these factors, my brain has not been letting me write the way I want to. The expected stress of packing and dealing with car repairs, along with the distraction caused by ongoing pain, has drained away all my creative energy.

So what do you do when you can’t write? I wrote a post some time ago about ideas to help you get past writer’s block, and here are some more thoughts about what to do when you can’t write: Continue reading

How to be a Good Critique Partner

Over the past several years, I’ve been very blessed to be a part of some very good critique groups. Even though writing itself is a solitary endeavor, I believe that associating with other writers – whether it’s with critique partners, a creative writing class, or a big writers conference – is vital to any writer’s growth.critique

So what are the benefits of joining a writing critique group? How do you know if your critique partners will be helpful or useful? How can you make sure that you yourself will be a good critique partner?

Details Matter

Critiquing a fellow writer’s work involves much more than just saying “I liked it.” It’s also much more than line editing, where you call out every unnecessary comma and misspelled word. Every critique group has their own set of rules and expectations, but usually groups are made up of writers submitting a first or maybe second draft, and looking for overall feedback. Does the story flow? Is there too much head-hopping or other issues with point of view? Are there confusing plot points? Do the characters feel real, or just one-dimensional? These are some good aspects to consider when you’re critiquing other’s work. Continue reading

Homophones: Some Commonly Misused Words

Homophones are words that sound the same but are spelled differently. English is full of these little confusing gems, which can cause people a lot of difficulty when it comes to the written word. Spell check likely won’t catch homophones, because the word you’ve used is spelled correctly, but is just the wrong word for the sentence. Here are a few homophones that often cause a lot of confusion:

Principle/Principal

Principle: an accepted code of rules, like the principles of mathematics, or a person who has strong moral principles.

Principal: first and foremost, or highest in rank, like the principal of a school.

Peek/Peak/Pique

Peek: to take a quick look, like peeking around the corner.

Peak: a summit or the top, like a mountain peak.

Pique: to provoke an emotion or reaction, like to pique his curiosity. Continue reading

3 Twitter Tips for Authors

Twitter is a great platform for writers. I’ve been on Twitter for almost five years now, and I love using it for sharing, conversing, and learning. In case you didn’t know, I’m a bit of a social media lover in general – and I work in social media as part of my day job. Social media may be still a relatively new industry, but it’s a powerful one; and it’s not going anywhere. Twitter is one of the powerhouse players in this realm of social media. 

At the end of this month, I’m going to be teaching a seminar on how writers can use Twitter. If you’re near the central Virginia area the last weekend in January, you should totally check out the Agile Writer Conference. There will be plenty to learn besides just social media – everything from drafting characters to self-publishing on Amazon and even tips for NaNoWriMo.

Anyway, I’m going to share with you a little taste of what I’ll be talking about at my seminar. Even if you can’t make it to the Agile Writers Conference, I hope these tips can help you to feel more confident on Twitter. So let’s dive in:

Use a Picture of You as your Avatar

If you’re running a company or a business, it makes sense to use the logo as the avatar (also known as profile picture). But if you’re a writer trying to build your brand and reach new readers, then it’s best to use a picture of yourself. Please don’t use the cover of your book as your avatar. People want to connect with people, not objects. People want to follow you as a writer, not just your latest book. Continue reading

Writing Tip: Get out of Balance

It’s good to have a balance in all things, right? Like a well-balanced diet – not too much protein, not too many carbs, lots of vegetables. Or a good work-life balance – yes, you want to advance your career and make money, but not at the expense of neglecting your family.

Balance and moderation are good things usually. We could all probably do with more balance in certain areas of our lives (like finding that perfect balance of staying connected on social media without letting kitten pictures on Instagram or trolls on Facebook suck up all of our time and mental energy).

Anyway, as lovely as balance and moderation are, sometimes you have to get out of balance to achieve a goal or to grow yourself in a certain area. For example, one of my goals for 2017 is to get out of balance with my dedication to writing. Continue reading