15 Productive Tasks You Can Still Do Even When You Don’t Feel Like Writing

Don’t feel like writing right now? Or maybe you don’t have the time? Or maybe you’re just blocked as all get out at the moment? Whatever the case, there’s no reason you can’t still use what time and motivation you do have to feel productive about your writing—because “writing” is really about a whole lot […]

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How to Use Your Outline When Writing Your First Draft

Outlining your novel is one thing. But then, whether you prefer to outline with minimalism, maximalism, or hindsight (aka, in revisions), a surprisingly easy stumbling block can be that of figuring out how to use your outline in the first draft. Recently, I received an email from Matt Powers, which made me realize that, out […]

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How to Create the Perfect Writing Process for You

Remember the good ol’ days when your idea of a “writing process” was as simple as 1, 2, 3? 1. Sit down. 2. Put your hands to the keyboard. 3. Write. For most writers, that quaint little take on the writing process died on the day they stalled out on #2, with hands poised receptively […]

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Do You Have Sloppy Writing Habits? (And 4 Things to Do About It)

The question I want to ask today is whether sloppy writing habits are a deterrent to success, a natural and unavoidable part of the creative process, both, or neither. I’ve never met the writer (myself included) who didn’t suffer from sloppy writing habits. These habits fall into a number of categories—everything from sloppy handwriting to […]

The Great Novel-Writing Checklist (Just in Time for NaNoWriMo!)

I adore lists. They bring order to the chaos of my brain and allow me to rest in the knowledge that even if I don’t remember everything I have to do, the list remembers [spoken in an epic Jeremy Irons bass]. This is why today I’m going to share you with you my ultimate novel-writing checklist—and […]

Preparing for NaNoWriMo: Your Guide to Outlining Success

Forget turkeys and football. NaNoWriMo—or National Novel Writing Month—has turned November into  “da Writing Month.” But as so many authors have learned over the years, the best way to be successful in November is to start preparing for NaNoWriMo in October (aka Preptober). If you’re going to have a decent shot at writing 50k good words […]

Free Scrivener Template: How to Structure Your Story

Love Scrivener? Me too. This insanely comprehensive word processor, designed to help authors organize all their writing notes and files in one place, is arguably the single best digital tool for writers ever created. These days, I use it exclusively for my fiction (buh-bye, Word), and it is constantly helping me refine my approach to […]

6 Questions to Help You Choose the Right POV

6 Questions to Help You Choose the Right POV

Stories are defined by their narrators. Narrating characters implicitly tell us whose story this is. More than that, they determine which facets of plot and theme will be emphasized. How do they do this?  By also determining which elements will be eliminated or sidelined. In short, figuring out how to choose the right POV for your […]

Your 3-Step Plan for Creating A Novel Outline

Your 3-Step Plan for Outlining a Novel

Today, I’m guest posting over on Writers Helping Writers, with the post “Your 3-Step Plan for Outlining a Novel.” Here’s an excerpt: There’s only one reason writers ever talk about outlining. It’s a tool that’s supposed to make our jobs easier. But it isn’t always clear how to accomplish that. Do you just start writing a list […]

How to Calculate Your Book's Length Before Writing

How to Calculate Your Book’s Length Before Writing

Story structure is all about timing. It’s about making sure your rhythm and pacing align for maximum impact, both in keeping readers glued to the page and in resonating emotionally. The reason this timing works is that it is largely instinctive, for both writers and readers. When I first started learning about story structure, I pulled […]