Category Archives: Writing techniques

Writing Process: 3 Ways To Streamline Your Process And Sell More

Writing Process: 3 Ways To Streamline Your Process And Sell More

Are you a flaky writer? That’s OK; many creative people are flakes. Sadly, flaky writers fail to master their writing process.

Its worth learning to streamline your process, because if you can’t manage your creativity and get stuff done you’ll miss out on great opportunities. You may also find that days and weeks go by when you accomplish zero.

Your writing process: build habits

Your writing success depends on your habits:

Your writing success is mostly a matter of habit. A little luck doesn’t hurt, but without effective habits, any success will be short-lived.

It’s worth reading the above article for the ten most effective habits for writers.

As a commercial writer, your writing process involves three things:

  • Developing ideas;
  • Managing your creativity; and
  • Drafting.

1. Ideas sell, in fiction and nonfiction

Ideas SELL. Ideas aren’t everything. You must execute them efficiently, but without good ideas, your writing won’t sell.

I’m developing a program on writing the Mystery, Thriller & Suspense (MTS) genres. These genres depend on ideas. I did a little research for the program on novels which are bestsellers because of their must-read ideas.

Here’s a tiny excerpt from the program…

Consider bestselling examples of the MTS genres. The novels which hit the bestseller lists ALL have something unique about the plot.

The best example of this which springs readily to mind is Dan Brown’s novel, The Da Vinci Code. A huge bestseller since its April 2003 release, the novel made all Brown’s other books bestsellers too. It featured a weird but irresistible crime. (I’m sure Dan Brown was delighted when he hit on the wonderful idea for the book.)

Also, consider Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl. This book was a huge bestseller, and launched a new sub-genre, the domestic thriller.

Both books became movies.

Agatha Christie’s novels are read with pleasure many years after their first publication — because of the crimes. (Ideas, that is.)

Christie spent a lot of time hiding her murderers by creating intricate puzzles. I’m fascinated to see that Agatha Christie’s Death On The Nile is still selling well. Death On The Nile was first published in 1937 and was based on irresistible ideas. (Christie’s husband was an archaeologist.)

Just for the heck of it I checked out current estimated sales for Death On The Nile in Publisher Rocket:

Daily sales: $3,624

Monthly sales: $25,038

Not bad for a novel written in the 1930s. 🙂

I encourage you to make developing ideas a big part of your writing process.

2. Creativity: harness your imagination

Once you’ve captured a wonderful idea, you’ll need to be creative in executing it, so harnessing your imagination forms a big part of your writing process.

When you gain easy access to your imagination, you can be creative on demand.

From Writing Fiction: 3 Simple Ways Access Your Imagination:

An imaginative mind state is focused. But it’s also loose — free wheeling, and dream-like.

Repetitive tasks which don’t require much thinking help to trigger creativity. For example, I go for a drive if I’m stuck on a plot point. Other writers do household chores, or go swimming.

3. Draft your writing: write first, revise and edit later

Can you sit down at your desk (or on the sofa) and write? Do you have a writing process to draft your writing, so that writing is a joy, rather than torture?

From Create Your Own Writing Process: Write Fast, Write More:

We can put immense pressure on ourselves when we write.

This is always a mistake. Just write. Look on all the writing you do as “making mud”. Be exuberant and messy.

You can do a lot with your mud. Just as you can build entire houses with mud bricks, you can write articles, novels, nonfiction books, short stories, essays, memoirs – in short, you can write anything and everything, if you make the basic building material, the “mud” first.

“Mud” is the basis of ALL your writing. You can edit later.

By the way, editing’s much easier when you use an app for the final edits.

When you have a writing process that’s efficient, you’ll be happier, as well as more productive

If you’re a commercial writer, you need an efficient and enjoyable writing process. Use the above tips to develop a process that works for you.

Map It: For Writing Success — Fiction And Nonfiction Outlines Made Easy

Map It: For Writing Success — Fiction And Nonfiction Outlines Made Easy

eBook: $5.99

I developed the tactics and strategies in this book to help myself. My students have found them essential to producing both fiction and nonfiction almost effortlessly.

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Write AND Sell in Just 8 Hours: Create Top-Selling Ebooks FAST

Write AND Sell in Just 8 Hours: Create Top-Selling Ebooks FAST

$4.99

What if you could create AND sell an ebook or other product in just eight hours? The product could be anything: a Kindle ebook, a collection of articles, a short story… a new writing service for your clients. This program will show you how to think outside the box, get creative — and SELL what you create.

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Resources to build your writing career

Check out Angela’s Writing Classes and Angela’s books for writers.

Editing Your Book? You May Not Believe It, But Apps Can Help

Editing Your Book? You May Not Believe It, But Apps Can Help

You’re all done with writing; now you’re editing your book.

Editors cost money, so you’ve done as much self-editing as you can. Self-editing is vital, because:

Leaving aside the fact that if you dump a mess into an editor’s lap it will cost you a small fortune to get it cleaned up, your own editing is important, because:

  • It’s your chance to discover the story you want to tell (this applies to both nonfiction and fiction);
  • It’s your big chance to make your book better.

But what if you’re on a self-publishing budget, and can’t afford an editor?

Editing your book takes time (and money)

Recently I started revamping and republishing several of my older books, published years ago.

Rather than hire an editor, I decided to try an app.

My reasoning? Using an app’s faster than hiring an editor. Although these books have been edited, I’m revising and rewriting scenes, so an app might help me to catch typos and other errors.

Also, I’ve never tried any of the editing apps. Since they’re proliferating, they must be useful, so I decided to download ProWritingAid.

ProWritingAid: amazingly useful

My expectations were low. I’ve been writing professionally for 40 years so — an app? Surely you kid….

After a month of serious use, I can report that ProWritingAid is useful.

Not only does it catch obvious errors like typos, but it also tightens up my writing.

Another benefit: we authors can get a little precious about our words.

However, once you’ve dumped your precious words into ProWritingAid, they no longer seem as sacred. You’ll slash and burn with abandon, and your writing gets better.

Check out a writing app or two: you may be as surprised as I was

I’ll do a proper review of ProWritingAid soon.

The app has also inspired me to take a look at other writing apps. As soon as I get time, I’ll be looking at Grammarly and others to see how they compare with ProWritingAid.

Hard as it is to admit, I’ve been properly humbled by ProWritingAid. Anything which improves your writing is a good thing.

Self-Publishing Strategy Made Easy: How To Market Your Books In 15 Minutes A Day

Self-Publishing Strategy Made Easy: How To Market Your Books In 15 Minutes A Day

eBook: $5.99

Do you enjoy writing and publishing your books, but find that marketing them is a challenge? You're not sure what works, so your efforts are muddled, half-hearted, and inconsistent.

What if you could market in just 15 minutes daily?

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Step By Step To Fiction Which Sells: Plotting And Scene Magic

Step By Step To Fiction Which Sells: Plotting And Scene Magic

eBook: $5.99

Your readers want to enter your novel's world. They want to experience your book -- they want to live your book with your main characters.

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Resources to build your writing career

Check out Angela’s Writing Classes and Angela’s books for writers.

Writing To Sell: 3 Tips To Help You To Be Original

Writing To Sell: 3 Tips To Help You To Be Original

You’re an author and you’re writing to sell as many copies of your books as possible. However, you want to be as “original” as you can. That’s wonderful, because today, you can publish whatever you choose.

In days gone by, when getting published meant getting a publishing contract via an agent and an acquisitions editor, originality didn’t sell.

Publishers wanted “the same, but different.” If you insisted on originality, you were (everyone shuddered) a literary author, and everyone knew that literary authors cost everyone money, rather than making money.

An author asked me “how to be original” and I though it was a wonderful question. The short answer of course is: be yourself.

Writing to sell? Be yourself

Being yourself is more challenging than it appears.

Even Ray Bradbury (one of the world’s most original authors) had problems with it.

From Bradbury’s Zen in the Art of Writing (a book that’s well worth reading):

It was only when I began to discover the treats and tricks that came with word association that I began to find some true way through the minefields of imitation. I finally figured out that if you are going to step on a live mine, make it your own. Be blown up, as it were, by your own delights and despairs.

Bradbury discovered how to be himself — an original — in his writing via word association.

So, let’s look at three tips you may find useful when you’re striving to be yourself, an original.

1. Try word association to discover what matters to YOU

According to the Collins Dictionary, word association is:

… an early method of psychoanalysis in which the patient thinks of the first word that comes into consciousness on hearing a given word. In this way it was claimed that aspects of the unconscious could be revealed before defence mechanisms intervene.

Word association works. So does listing things, without thinking about it too much. Whenever I get stuck in a manuscript, I make lists.

From Top 70 Writing Tips: Write More, Improve Your Writing, And Make More Money:

Whatever kind of writing you’re doing, listing will make it better and easier.

What kind of lists? Start by making a list of all the things you could list.

Pick one item from the list, and make a new list of what you could list about that.

Writing a report? Write a list of everything you need to mention in the report. Then write a list of what you should NOT mention.

Try it yourself. When you get stuck, make a list of words. Ray Bradbury made lists of nouns; I like to use adjectives as well.

2. Keep a journal: describe people, activities, places and your dreams

According to research, you can only keep around seven things in your mind at any one time — even though you can recall everything that ever happened to you. It’s all locked away in your subconscious mind.

Keeping a journal is a great way to rummage around in the attics of your subconscious mind to find stuff that you can use in your writing. Original stuff, because no one has, or ever will have, your experiences.

You can use a journal in many ways. For example:

  • Describe a problem you’re having in an area of your life. There’s no need to strive for solutions. Those solutions will develop, simply because you described the problem.
  • Take a moment to jot down a few sentences to describe people and places wherever you are — whether you’re in your office, in a store, or in your local park. Most of us have stopped seeing what’s right in front of us. Try sketching what you see, that helps to improve your observation skills too.
  • Write a sentence or two about any dreams you remember when you wake up in the morning.

3. Believe in yourself: write the truth, as you know it, and write fast

From Dr. Frank Luntz’s Words That Work:

… good communication requires conviction and authenticity; being a walking dictionary is optional.

Whether you’re a new author, or are a pro, write the truth as you know it, or perceive it to be. Trust yourself. Your authenticity makes you an original.

Write fast too. Stop thinking so much — do your thinking while you’re writing. Bradbury (from Zen in the Art of Writing again):

The faster you blurt, the more swiftly you write, the more honest you are. In hesitation is thought. In delay comes the effort for a style…

When you’re writing to sell, being original takes courage

As we’ve said, being yourself is challenging.

It’s exhilarating too. Have fun. 🙂

The Journaling Habit: Achieve Your Goals And Change Your Life In Just Ten Minutes A Day

The Journaling Habit: Achieve Your Goals And Change Your Life In Just Ten Minutes A Day

eBook: $5.99

Do you love your life?

If you don't ADORE your life, you can change it — more easily than you can imagine.

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Yes, You’re Creative: How To Unlock Your Imagination And Build The Writing Career Of Your Dreams

Yes, You’re Creative: How To Unlock Your Imagination And Build The Writing Career Of Your Dreams

eBook: $5.99

In this book we'll aim to increase your creativity to unlock your imagination and build the writing career of your dreams.

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Resources to build your writing career

Check out Angela’s Writing Classes and Angela’s books for writers.