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Articles about Writing

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Writing a Novel? Don’t Sabotage your Writing!

by Annette Young

Writing a novel takes dedication, commitment and perseverance. It also requires the writer to possess an innate inner conviction that keeps them writing from the first page through to the last.  Whilst writing a novel is an attractive prospect to many, the reality is that so many writers self-sabotage their own efforts because they allow doubts about their ability to interfere with their full potential.  Writing a novel means drawing deeply on that inner belief and to not allow niggling doubts to halt the flow of creativity.

So many writers begin writing a novel only to lose their way after a few short chapters because it is a much harder process than they thought initially in terms of technique and doubts begin to creep in about their ability to create to a publishable standard. There are many things that can be done to prevent self-sabotage in writing terms and the following tips may benefit those writers who suffer with creative insecurities:

  •  Develop a good storyline and allow the plot to expand first of all, take time to mull over this early creative stage as familiarity breeds confidence and enthusiasm.
  • It is also important to take time to create characters that are multi-layered and this is achievable through creating in-depth character profiles. The characters should have a structured time-line too for future reference and a history so that they become compelling.
  • Develop a chapter by chapter structure as this helps to propel the plot forward and note where to add in those important hooks that will keep the reader absorbed.
  • Practice ‘what if’s as this can open up new ideas for story generation and progression.
  • Set aside some dedicated writing times throughout the week but make sure they are realistic, aim for a set minimum word count each week.
  • Create a novel completion diary. Calculate the word count and chapters on a monthly schedule and set sights firmly on the end goal.
  • Affirmations are declarations of intent and can accelerate enthusiasm and confidence when used regularly. Affirmations such as ‘I am a good writer and I will finish this novel’ will help when used regularly.

Setting realistic and yet achievable goals are important because enthusiasm wanes if deadlines are interrupted, rescheduled or missed altogether and that partially written novel will hit a stumbling point. When writing a novel, keep the enthusiasm set at simmering point throughout so that any pre-set plan can be followed easily and lows can be avoided.

The most important thing to remember is that writing a novel is a long term project and requires a great deal of commitment. Breaking the manuscript down into manageable projects will make the end goal achievable and help to eliminate any self-doubts as progression occurs.

Annette Young:Freelance Writer/Editor   Writers competition and resource website providing professional writing critiques, writing courses, video coaching and competitions.

Writing Horror Stories – Feel the Fear

by Annette Young

One of the main reasons that writers fail when writing horror stories is that they are not able to immerse themselves into the plot totally and by this I mean, that, irrespective of how the plot is constructed, the writer should feel the ripples of trepidation in a similar way to the reader.

Writing horror stories in a convincing way means having to scare yourself.

You might be asking yourself how you can do that, considering as the writer, you will be crafting the plot so therefore would know exactly what is going to happen and when, but it’s simple, you just need to see through the eyes of your characters.

Horror stories should incite fear wherever they have been set: A creepy, derelict old mansion or a brand new block of flats …for example.

Whilst the first example sets the scene for the reader, the writer simply needs to work that little bit harder to instil the same sense of foreboding in the second example as the reader has no preconceived idea about what could happen in a brand new flat and therefore you need to build up the tension.

If you want to write horror stories that literally terrifies the reader, then you must imagine that you are actually ‘witnessing’ the events that unfold and hearing every creaking floor board, every menacing whisper and feeling the thudding of your heart as the anticipation rises.

If you struggle with this, then try a little experiment.

One night when you are home alone, turn out the lights in the house and sit quietly. Even if you are not scared of the dark (and I admit I am) you will immediately start to hear lots of strange noises coming from all directions. Depending on how nervous you are, you will even start to imagine manifestations and make odd shapes out of the blackness. Try to sit in the dark for a while or to accelerate the tension, light a candle and walk around the house, noticing the strange shadows on the wall. Imagine that you are your character and that something evil is lurking.

The point to all of this is that if you can feel the fear yourself and let your imagination run wild, you will be able to portray that sense of apprehension and dread to the reader and your horror stories will have the reader hanging on to every word.

Annette Young:Freelance Writer/Editor   Writers competition and resource website providing professional writing critiques, writing courses, video coaching and competitions.


 Writing – Nothing to Fear but Fear Itself


Annette Young

I can remember when I first began writing seriously. I wrote completely on instinct and adhered to creative muse allowing that to guide me. My writing was precious, like a new-born baby and I wrapped and coddled it, correcting it, re-writing it and nurturing it through to completion.

I then kept it safe and warm and away from everyone else.

Why did I do that? What possible use is saving your writing in a computer file or tucking it in a dark drawer and thinking …one day?

Having experienced this strange protective process in the early stages of my writing, I realised finally when I could no longer squeeze another manuscript into the drawer, that I needed to rethink my writing goals to ascertain what I really wanted to achieve. The answer was simple, I wanted to be a published writer of merit but I also knew that was impossible for as long as I kept hiding my manuscripts like secret trophies. What was I scared of?


Sadly, rejection is likely to be inevitable…….

Many writers fear rejection until they have learned to face it a few times, some writers fall by the wayside and decide to keep their writing as a hobby whilst others grit their teeth and learn to brush off their bruised egos and they start writing again.

Steely determination is the best way to overcome fear and determination to succeed eventually will have the writer…i.e. you, sending out the best possible work in the hopes that someone will see the merit within your creative endeavours.

Once I had overcome my sense of fear and faced the fact that in order to grow and develop my writing, I was going to have to dig deep and send my prized possessions out into the big wide world, I began to acknowledge my position on my writing journey, knowing that my destination might still be some way off, but at least I was heading in the right direction.

I saw rejection as a way to spur me forward and it worked because I learned to analyse why. Four steps forward and two back might seem a painfully slow way of reaching publishing success but, it also helps to build the strong foundations that is needed and when success is finally obtained, boy, is it ever worth the wait…!!

Annette Young:Freelance Writer/Editor   Writers competition and resource website providing professional writing critiques, writing courses, video coaching and competitions.

The Writers Life-Overcoming Writers Block

by Annette Young

There are some days when you just don’t want to write, your mind feels fuzzy, words are contained, withheld, padlocked away somewhere in the dark recesses of your mind, you know what you are trying to write, but you just can’t find that right word.

The serious writer perseveres, with this uphill struggle, feeling a sense of relief when they reach the bottom of the page. When they read back the passages and paragraphs, it can be disappointing to realise that much of the content isn’t inspiring or well-written. In a writer’s life, writers’ block strikes at the most inopportune moments, many writers’ work to tight deadlines as well as juggling the demands of family, friends and household chores. The last thing the busy writer needs is the despair and frustration that writers block brings.

As a teacher of creative writing and journalism, writers’ block is always a subject which comes up each term as a point of discussion. Approximately 90 % of every class has admitted to suffering from it at some point in their writing career. Sympathy is called for as it is a tangible affliction which can grind creativity to a halt. Writers’ block can set in when the project the writer is working on is simply uninspiring. It is not an unreasonable assumption to think that writers may struggle on a piece of work which holds no interest for them. Tiredness and stress can also play a factor too. External pressures will diminish creativity, as will having too much time to complete a project. Sometimes writers work better and more efficiently when there is a tight deadline.

In a classroom environment, it is obvious when students are struggling. Furrowed brows, sighs and mumbling often give away their frustration. The key is for them to think what they are trying to say and just write, even if it does not flow well. Sometimes, just by looking at the article from a different perspective, can be enough to free their minds, or alternatively, writing a paragraph on something completely unrelated, will be enough to kick-start the writing process. Sometimes within minutes they can be writing again, although rarely are they satisfied with their work at the end of the session. Writers block can tinge the writer’s viewpoint so that even a well-written passage somehow seems flat and uninspiring. It is important to not discard any written work whilst under the influence of writers’ block as the work may have more potential than originally anticipated.

Editing can be a useful way for a writer to overcome this affliction. Reading back the previous days work will fire up the writer’s enthusiasm and get the creative juices flowing. Editing is one of the best tools for getting the brain to start functioning in writing mode again. The brain can be trained to work through any difficult patches, the important thing is just to keep writing, regardless of whether the outcome is prolific or not.

There will always be difficult writing sessions, but if the writer perseveres, there will days when the creative urges just do not want to stop flowing. These days are such a pleasure, but it is an established fact that writers will always have to take the rough with the smooth.

Writing may not always be a pleasure to do, but the dedicated writer can reap the benefits in the end, regardless of any writing obstacles.

Annette Young:Freelance Writer/Editor   Writers competition and resource website providing professional writing critiques, writing courses, video coaching and competitions.


Remember Writing For Pleasure?

by Annette Young

Many freelance writers, who write full-time, will agree that to survive within the publishing world, there are constant pressures to seek out new publishing outlets and to continually strive for the regular publication of new articles.

To the outsider looking in, life may seem sweet, with hours to suit, no trudging to work in the wind and rain, or working at a job you despise, however, freelancers vary rarely work the traditional 9-5 and working a five day week is almost unheard of. There are no steady hours in the freelance writer’s world. Any time off is often spent researching new material, absorbing daily events or at least mentally planning for the next interview. Even time spent away on holiday cannot prevent the Freelancer from planning the next travel article and taking notes and photographs of places of interest-just in case.

Professional writers work long and sometimes unsociable hours, in their attempt to make a living. Life is governed by possible rejections, disappointments and extreme highs when an article is finally accepted for publication. Freelance writers these days have to not only be creative, inventive, and resilient, but are expected to be experts in niche areas and able to market themselves to boot!

Although, most established freelance writers would not swap their existence for a steady 9-5 job, it is easy to see how some writers buckle under the severe pressure, living life by their wits, having to constantly budget their money for months ahead. They can become jaded with this continual pressure. The very source of their writing essence can dry up, leaving them struggling for both ideas and direction.

Freelancers become so used to writing for deadlines, targeting a specific house style, and then double-checking their facts that sometimes, it is easy to forget that writing can and should be fun.

For any writer who has been in this situation, then take heart; the all-important batteries can be recharged. Just take a step back momentarily and cast your mind back to the good old days. Writing stories or poems then were a labour of love, you wrote from the heart or from your soul, because mood dictated and not because you needed to make a profit.

It is time to tune in to good old inspiration.

Writing can be therapeutic; it can channel anger and sadness, releasing bottled emotions, allowing the tension to slip away as you become immersed within your story line.

In this day and age, freelance writers cannot afford to write for pleasure very often. Time becomes very precious, with rigorous schedules in place to enable them to succeed in a competitive market; ambitions often drive them to breaking point. But every now and then, it is important to re-evaluate their values and write purely for pleasure, for release and for satisfaction.

Think back to the moment when you realised you wanted to be a writer. What was it about writing that attracted you the most? Was it the unique opportunity to be able to glimpse into a different world or see life through another’s eyes? Did the lyrical qualities of poetry inspire you to put pen to paper or did you feel untapped creativity surging through your body as inspiration come to life?

When we write for ourselves, we do not need to worry about word count or house style, our tensions evaporate as we become one with our subject. When our creative juices are exhausted, we feel contented again. These words are not wasted, even if they may never be published, they are just ways of channelling your feelings and they enable you to remember why you became a writer in the first place.

Hone your skill, perfect your art, but when life gets too much, take time out to lose yourself in your creativity and just write for pure pleasure.

Annette Young:Freelance Writer/Editor   Writers competition and resource website providing professional writing critiques, writing courses, video coaching and competitions.


Manuscript Evaluation – What Is It Good For?

By Annette Young

When you have sweated blood and tears over your plot and experienced the emotional angst of your characters as they battled against a myriad of conflict and they have endured a journey that meanders and twists on a rollercoaster of events until finally, the story has come to its natural conclusion, you may now be left wondering just what to do next. If the aim is to get your work published, then a manuscript evaluation could be crucial to any on-going success, highlighting elements that may have been overlooked during the writing process.

For those writers who shudder at the thought of any critical comments, then take heart, a manuscript evaluation is not about ripping your story to shreds, it is about taking a professional look at your work and highlighting its strengths and of course, detailing those areas that do need a little more work. It isn’t about pandering to ego however. Family and friends will often be encouraging but will step back from offering constructive criticism, but how useful in a professional capacity are these comments if they only endeavour to make you feel good?

Realistically, if you wish to ensure that your writing is as good as it possibly can be before an agent or publisher sees it, then it’s worth requesting a manuscript evaluation. Those who provide this professional critique service are not swayed by family loyalties and therefore will provide useful, constructive feedback that will help you to channel your focus on editing or improving key aspects of the manuscript and therefore escalating your potential for publication. An evaluation often only takes a few weeks but it’s a worthy delay as it can make a big difference to the future success of your manuscript.

If your manuscript warrants warm declarations of merit, then be assured it will be sent providing the manuscript ticks all of the relevant boxes. The critique will spotlight areas of concern i.e. characters only two-dimensional, dialogue stilted or that the pace is erratic whilst providing general feedback regarding  the manuscript  potential. Not only does a manuscript evaluation provide genuine feedback in relation to the manuscript but it provides an all-important review of the writer’s techniques, skills and strengths by association.

Following the manuscript evaluation, take time to consider any highlighted pointers for change  and then you have the opportunity to re-edit so that it strengthens the manuscript and makes it a more viable prospect for publication.

Don’t give the publishing world the opportunity to reject your manuscript out of hand, let them provide in-depth consideration to your creative endeavours and view a highly polished manuscript that is well-thought out and saleable. A manuscript evaluation will provide the opportunity to impress publishers and agents alike and help you to get your book on the bookshop shelves.

Annette Young:Freelance Writer/Editor   Writers competition and resource website providing professional writing critiques, writing courses, video coaching and competitions.

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