Tag Archives: writing advice

When Can Writing Come First?

A few months ago, in a break between terms, I was looking for something to watch on Netflix. I wanted to watch something about another writer, something to make me feel more connected. Author’s Anonymous was on a list of movies for writers, somewhere, and my good friend and fellow blogger, Missy, recommended it, so I hit play. Frustratingly so, the protagonist, Hannah Rinaldi, doesn’t read books but, nevertheless, lands herself a publishing deal. She’s not the kind of writer I’d want to be, but she is a writer, who actually writes. “The writing comes first” is her mantra. No boys allowed. No distractions. And that part about Hannah I can respect.

Hannah’s fictional, but to put her life in perspective, Hannah (as far as I can tell) doesn’t have an actual job. She’s a young, twenty-something, living with her mom, who writes every day and attends a weekly writing group. She doesn’t read, doesn’t know who Jane Austen is, and can’t come up with a single author’s name when asked “Who’s your favorite writer?” Her book becomes an instant bestseller and earns itself a movie deal. It contains lines like “You’re my shining star.” And, just like that, everyone she knows (including the audience) hates her.

There’s plenty of reasons to hate Hannah, but I only hated her for her dedication. Hate isn’t the right word. I envied her.


It’s cold.
It’s pure.
It’s white when it’s new and fresh.
It’s brown and yellow and a mess when it’s been down for a while or falls in a city.
It doesn’t happen all the time.
Some places don’t get it at all.
Sometimes it’s considered a miracle.
Sometimes it’s a threat.

It's light enough to be carried by wind.
It’s light enough to be carried by wind.

It’s fast.
It’s dangerous.
It’s slippery.
It’s moist.
It shimmers.
It melts.
It hardens.
It destroys roadways.
It replenishes the wild.
It covers mountains.
It covers mountains.

The Things We Do Instead of Writing

With no papers due and no pending deadlines for any of my writing projects, I find myself unmotivated to write on a regular basis. Even when I sit down to write – pen in hand or keyboard under finger – I start to create this long imaginary list of other things I should be doing. Soon, it’s too late for me to write, or I’m too tired, or I want a break after doing said list of things. There are some very specific things that pop into my head that prevent me from being a good writer and actually writing. I know I’m not the only writer out there to do this.

One of my professors commented that, anytime she has a book to write, she suddenly remembers that she has dirty dishes in the sink, and that her floor sure could use a mopping, and man, when was the last time she vacuumed? We all have our little ticks that prevent us from doing the writing we set out to do.

The holidays, for example, easily break up our normal routines. Even if you have a normal writing schedule, it’s hard to stick to it with the obligations of the season. It’s hard to say “listen, family/wife/kids/friends, I know we’re supposed to be opening presents right now, but I really have a writing schedule I need to stick to. It’s not that you’re not important, it’s just that if I break my schedule it might be really hard to get back on it. You understand, right?” The answer to that would probably be no.

Unless you plan to give your family disappointment for the holidays, you should probably not use writing as an excuse to skip out on the festivities.

For me, most of the gifts I give during the season are handmade or homemade. I love to crochet and bake cookies, and both activities tend to occupy my hands and my mind so soon writing is completely pushed out of there. Even after the holidays, my brain is still in crochet mode – I’m working on two bags and one hat, at the moment, instead of my poetry or my short stories.

From Amora to Zatanna: November


What’s up comic fans! Do we have any aspiring writers visiting us today? If so, then this blog is dedicated to you. As I have mentioned previously, I am looking to create some comics of my own in the near future and have been doing research on how to do just that. During Comikaze this year, I attended a Self Publishing Symposium featuring Comic Indy Writers and Artists such as Joshua Henaman (Bigoot: Sword of the Earthman), John Hervey (Black Tiger: Legacy of Fury), Aleister Gilgrim (The Cemterians, Ferryman). I took extensive notes for myself when attending this panel and I am here this month to share them with those seeking to breaking into the comic business through self publishing. If you are such an individual, then read on!

The chair of the panel, (find name), broke down the process into steps. The first step is know where you are going. Are you looking to get picked up by a big name company, or do you desire to maintain full creative control of your work? This also includes goals like how many issues do you want to put out a year (is it digital or print), how many issues you want per series, and how much time do you plan to set aside a day to spend on producing an awesome product.

After this, you assemble your creative team. Yes, this means getting out there and networking! One site to start looking for artists is Deviant Art, which typically has individuals looking to get into creative projects such as comics. It is important to note that you must pay an artist for their time and need to have material already prepared for them to work on. This is a team effort, so schedules and ideals need to be discussed so that you can produce a comic you are both proud of. This can also be said for colorists and letterers. Other sites that can help you start networking include digital webbing forums, Facebook comic groups, PencilJack, and Meetup.

Next, you will want to get readers on board through crowd funding, like kickstarter and indy-a-go-go. (For successful endeavors, check out Sullivan’s Sluggers and Ley Lines comics.) For this, you need to do your homework and set realistic goals for yourself. Promising to produce too much in too short a time, asking for too much money when you have supported no one else, and having no material to share with perspective readers are some things you want to avoid before jumping into something like this. Also, manage your rewards. This means knowing how much postage and packaging costs (if you have physical items), knowing how much assembling a comic costs (again, if print is desired), and any other incentives you might provide. Kablam, Comix Wellsrping, and RA Comics Direct are some publishing groups to look into.


Dreams as Inspiration

I don’t really keep a dream diary, but I know of a lot of people that do. Dreams can be weird sometimes. For example, last night I had a dream that I was fighting against an alien invasion at a base that was a super Home Depot and humanity lost, then I had to write an essay on why I loved my new alien overlord. But sometimes dreams aren’t so weird, or parts of weird dreams can be used as inspiration for writing. Below are some best-selling books inspired by dreams.

Robert Louis Stevenson woke from a strange dream of a doctor with split personalities and completed The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde ten days after he awoke.


A Master of all Forms

If I know one thing for certain it is this: not one person has ever woken up one morning, said they wanted to be a writer without ever having studied or practiced writing, and cranked out the best story ever (sorry Tom Hanks) or a decent poem.

Sorry again Tom Hanks.

No, my friends, writing takes practice. One way I suggest you practice is by writing poetry, whether or not you are a poet. Poetry gives a writer great practice in conciseness, simile and metaphor, rhythm, structure, and diction choices, just to name a few. Great writers of the past like William Shakespeare, John Donne, Ben Jonson, and Andrew Marvell wrote multiple forms of poetry as a way of mastering their craft. Why not do the same?

Here are two poetic forms to get you started on your journey to master different poetic forms.

Four Rejections That Should Motivate You To Keep Pushing

As writers, we’re told to gear up for rejection. We await the return of manuscripts, the curt emails, or the phone calls from our weary agent (if we’re lucky enough to have one).

And for authors entering genres with rules and tropes to live up to—like science fiction or horror, for instance—the entry gates can be especially difficult to get through.

For whatever reason, it seems that some of the greatest literary talents—F. Scott Fitzgerald, Rudyard Kipling, Ursula Le Guin, Sylvia Plath, J.K. Rowling, and many, many more—have had their work rejected (and sometimes a lot) before finding an editor and publishing house willing to give them a chance. But when each of them were given one, they went on to sell millions of books, win countless awards, and inspire thousands of readers.

Below are just a few writers whose rejections may inspire you to keep pushing, even if it means getting your manuscript a little dirty (see below).

H.G. Wells

(Image via)


Throwback Thursday: Me Between the Lines, Part 1

John Keats, famous English romantic poet of the 18th century, once wrote, “Nothing ever becomes real ‘til it is experienced.” Donald M. Murray, author of “All Writing is Autobiography” and professor emeritus of English at the University of New Hampshire, writes in his article that “We become what we write” (71) or, as I’d like to put it, what we write becomes our experience which then becomes us.

When I reflect upon my own life and my own writing, I can see the link between my life experience and what words I put down on the page. Murray further explains what he means by autobiography in that he has his “own peculiar way of looking at the world and [his] own way of using language to communicate what [he] see[s]” (67). In this I see a statement that mirrors what I like to think of as a writer’s presence within the work. Every piece of poetry I produce has imprints of me and those imprints are reflective of my past or become part of my present through the experience of writing.


Should You Take Writing Breaks During NaNoWriMo?


That’s the end of my post.

Oh, I have to write more? Alright. I guess I can expand upon this answer.

Yes and no.

It’s dangerous to take breaks once you’ve established a set, habitual writing time. But you don’t always have to write the main part of your novel during your set-aside NaNoWriMo writing time. If you feel stuck on your story, or just don’t feel like writing, or are suffering from that (fictional?) pest writer’s block, don’t give up the time you’d usually spend working on your project and play video games or go to the movies or something. Instead, do other writing-related projects with your novel when you get stuck.

1. Further develop your characters.

There’s a lot of background and planning that can go into a novel that a reader never sees. Having an entire biography for a character, along with a personal profile, is one such aspect of a novel readers aren’t often privy to. If you haven’t already developed a ton of information on your characters, this can also help you get to know your characters better and understand their motivation more within the story. I’m talking minor characters or supporting characters as well. Even if the character is featured in one character of the book, having an entire life history worked up for him or her can make them one of the most compelling characters of your novel. So pretend like you’re character is making a profile on a dating site like OkCupid and have at it!


Building a Mind Palace

Why do all of my very best writing ideas come in the shower? Or, you know, when I’m driving? For some reason, being distracted and unable to jot down any sort of notes is the exact moment when my mind is popping off with wonderful ideas, for academic research as well as for creative writing (heck, even for blog posts!).

Are you like me? I think this is a human thing, not just a weird Amanda thing, so I’m here to offer up some solutions.

First, you can drag your significant other, child, friend, roommate, or paid note taker around with you everywhere you go. Taking a shower? Have them wait outside of the door with a pen and paper in hand to jot down everything you shout out while taking a shower. Driving home? That’s not a problem, because they’re in your passenger seat, with that pen and pad of paper ready to go.

That’s probably not a very viable solution, I admit to that. A tape recorder would probably be a little better, or now of days, a digital voice recorder, but even then you’d have to listen to your own voice on tape (who likes doing that? I don’t) and it’s still not a very viable solution for the shower.

No, what I think writers all need to develop and strengthen is their mind palace. And yes, if you watch Sherlock, I am talking about that kind of mind palace.

I’m only listening because you’re Benedict Cumberbatch.