Five tips if you’re a new writer

pexels-photo-374697I still consider myself a new writer, but I was first published at twelve years old. I won’t tell you how long ago that was, but it was before Ronald Reagan sat in the White House.

Here’s the thing: you’re constantly learning as a writer. You’re learning your craft. You’re learning how to use grammar to make your writing interesting. You’re learning about the publishing industry. Being a writer is an identity constantly in change.

But if I had to pick just five things to tell a new writer, here is what I would list for them:

  • Read all kinds of books-This advice did not originate with me. Everyone who writes says it. Always be reading. Read various authors. Read all the books of just one author. Read everything you can in the genre for which you want to write. Read in all kinds of genres. Read both fiction and nonfiction. If you are like me, you are busy. I actually have to schedule time to read. But just always be reading something.
  • Write every day you possibly can-Even if it’s only for a few minutes, write every day. And that can include planning, outlining, researching, editing, proofreading, or journaling. It could be deciding what you wrote yesterday isn’t that great after all and you need to start over. Have the writer’s mindset and realize every experience you have can be used in your writing. Just place your fingers on the keyboard (or grab the pencil) and write.
  • Try National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)-Every November, thousands of people around the world write fifty thousand words in one month. That’s about 1600 words a day. If it sounds daunting, try it and see what happens. It gave me the confidence to realize, “Hey, I can create a long piece of fiction.” Now, of course, what is written for NaNoWriMo is rough. But I have four rough novels I’m finishing thanks to the contest. That’s more than what I had before I tried it.
  • Subscribe to writing blogs and websites-Wow, there are so many out there, but here’s a few of my favorites to get you started:
  • Use software for writers-This is not for everyone, but I would say try the software and return it if not satisfied. First, for outlining and planning, try Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake Method software. Next, try Scrivener for writing your manuscript. Writer’s kept saying, “Try Scrivener.” I was like, “Sure, sure.” When I finally got around to using it, I was like, “Holy macaroni! Why didn’t I start using this a long time ago!

To use a cliché, this is just the tip of the iceberg. I could say, “Go to YouTube and search for writers with video blogs,” or “A neat idea generator for SF and fantasy writers is Seventh Sanctum.”

I’d like to include more, but one thing I’ve realized is this: I can spend all kinds of time learning Scrivener or reading articles on writing, but the best thing to do to get experience as a writer is to just start writing.


Click here to find out more about my books.

Twitter:@AndrewMFriday

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Reading Roundup for 2016

Here are most of the books I’ve read during 2016:

Classics

Contemporary Fiction

Drama

Graphic Novels

Rereads (these are all pretty much also Science Fiction & Fantasy)

Science Fiction & Fantasy Series

Science Fiction & Fantasy

Spiritual

Writing Instruction

Art Appreciation

Find my latest book on Amazon: Christ Simply, A Chronological Self-Guided Study through the Life of Christ.

How I Use My Bullet Journal

 

notebook-1174776My closest friends know my deepest secret: I use a bullet journal. I rave about it. I’m a little obsessed with it. I’ve been talking about it so much, I suspect they are planning a bullet journal intervention.

However, if they saw how a bullet journal could change their lives, they would turn the intervention on themselves and say, “Yeah, using a bullet journal organizes my life with minimal effort.”

I think everyone should use a bullet journal, but, of course, not everyone gets it or sees how great it is. It’s a special club. Anyone can join, but few understand why they should. If you are still reading this, it’s probably because you already use the bullet journal system for organizing your life and want to see how I do mine.

That’s what I’d be doing.

You see, I’m always looking for tips on bullet journaling. It’s organic. It’s customized. It’s what you want it to be. Everyone does it their own way.

So instead of going over what a bullet journal is (just click on the link in the first paragraph of this blog post to get the basics), I’m going to tell you what works best for me.

My Best Practices for My Bullet Journal:

  • Start the INDEX from the back and work forward. When your entries meet the INDEX page, then it’s time to get a new notebook. Most people leave some blank pages at the beginning of the journal. By starting on the last page, there’s no guessing how many pages to reserve.
  • Use ONLY ONE NOTEBOOK. This is a standard best practice, but I didn’t realize how important it was until I consolidated all my to-read booklists into one notebook. I had lists on my computer, in folders, on my phone, etc. Now they’re all in one place.
  • Use a HABIT TRACKER. Each month, make a chart that lists daily habits you want to incorporate into your life. By keeping track, you can see where you need to improve. The tracker also motivates you to keep up with habits. It’s like a game: see if you can check off every habit for today. Also, on my DAILY LOG, I list habit tracker and that covers all my daily habits so I don’t have to write them out everyday. Saves space in the notebook as well. See my HABIT TRACKER below.
  • On the first page, list your CONTACT INFORMATION. In case your bullet journal gets misplaced, someone can get it back to you.
  • Include a page of Bullet Journal GUIDELINES and TERMS. At the beginning of the notebook, I include a page of guidelines I will be using. On the next page, I list and define all the common terms used with bullet journaling, like collections or tasks. This can be a great refresher when you start a new notebook as well as an excellent reference.
  • Use THREADING to keep track of a collection. If I start a collection that takes up more than one page, I write the all the pages numbers the collection is on at the bottom of each page.
  • Use GATEWAY PAGES to index related collections and other listings. For example, I had several book lists (each a different collection) in different places of my journal. I used one page to list them all and the page numbers where they could be found. I called the gateway page Book Reading Plan.
  • Take notes for a class, etc., on separate paper then TRANSCRIBE them into your bullet journal. Not only will going back over your notes help you retain what you heard, but you can write them more neatly. I do this for webinars, videos, sermons, meetings or any situation in which I take notes.
  • Join the Bullet Journal community on Google+. This is a great way to see how other people use their bullet journal. You can incorporate their best practices into your notebook and get ideas on what kind of listings you find helpful in your everyday living.

So watch out. If you are thinking of starting a bullet journal, be careful: you might become obsessed. Remember, do it the way that works for you. Some people decorate their journal with all kinds of doodles and colors. That is great for them, but I prefer to keep my bullet journal Spartan.

Here are some links to get you started:

Find my latest book on Amazon: Christ Simply, A Chronological Self-Guided Study through the Life of Christ.

bjhta

Writing blog roundup

fishingvillage
Is location important to your story?

Some entries from blogs on writing that I’ve read lately:

  • Does it matter where a writer lives: a big city or the countryside; a two-story house or a basement; a culturally diverse or monotonous neighborhood? Read more.
  • Why Keeping a Journal is so Important for Writers and all Creative Types. Read more.
  • The Art of Character: The Five Cornerstones of Dramatic Characterization. Read more.
  • Here’s What Makes Stories So Powerful. Read more.
  • The Flip Side: Writing Villain Protagonists. Read more.