1) DO NOT PAY FOR ONLINE WRITING CLASSES
Please don't pay for writing classes online.
Every few scrolls through social media I see some newly published author offering their exclusive, one-on-one, writing classes where you will get in-depth instruction that may one day help you write that bestseller. But it will cost you a mortgage payment.
No. No. No.
Go to a writing conference if you're going to spend money. You'll also get the chance to begin networking with other writers. There's a link below to a giant list of U.S. writing conferences.
There is so much free advice available. In fact, THE SAME advice you could pay hundreds of dollars for is available on pinterest, twitter, youtube, and facebook for free. All you have to do is find it. Use search terms like "writing a good plot", or "creative writing character development" to start.
The big piece of advice here is, I hope, an obvious one: don't pay for some "bestseller" formula. There isn't one. Or, rather, someone else's bestseller formula that works for them, is unlikely to work for you. Why? Because story that launched that writer's career has already been told and publishers are looking for something else, newer, and fresher to promote.
Paying hundreds or thousands of dollars for a writing class is just you paying that writer's bills instead of actually getting help that can get you a contract so you can pay your own bills.
2) CLEVERLY CHASE YOUR MUSE
Seduce her. Play with her. Find what cookie fuels your writing fingers with the bardic fire of old. Figure out under what conditions you work best. I'll assume you're already writing something and may have an idea of when you feel the words flow. It's kind of like a runner's high. You're typing along and, yeah, this is great, you could do this all day. I work best in a quiet room that is at a comfortable temperature, usually around 8pm to about 1 am. Sometimes 6:30 am ish works too. Sometimes with music. Often times a snack to nibble on.
However, I can also work in a crowded place, on a bus, on a plane, as a passenger in a car, etc. It takes about 20 minutes in these "less ideal places" to get into the groove of doing the writing work.
This is what I know about myself. Figure out what works for you. If you are trying to write in bed and you don't have flow, find someplace else or something else. If a laptop isn't working, get a notebook and a pencil. If you have to listen to music while writing, take the time to get the right playlist put together. The better you work, the more you'll write.
3) CANCEL NETFLIX
I had a poetry professor once challenge the class I was in to cancel netflix and cable. I'm surprised my fellow students didn't faint in class.
WAH? Cancel netflix?
No really. Cancel your television access passes. Get your $8.00/month back. In fact, unplug your TV. Put your TV in a closet. Hide the remote.
Television is a time suck. Most people spend several hours a day on the couch in front of the television.
My poetry professor suggested replacing that time with reading. Many classmates didn't participate in the challenge. I did, mostly because I was poor and couldn't actually pay for netflix. Still, I replaced TV time with book time.
You know what happened? I started writing better and producing a higher word count per day almost instantly.
The strangest side-effect of no longer watching television, is my thoughts became my own. I wasn't influenced by shows or commercials telling me what to think and buy and my work became different, more complex. Honestly, it scared me at first. Because of this, I'm convinced that binging TV shows every free minute of the day poisons and sabotages your own aspirations. Pick one or two shows and watch them once a week if you absolutely have to.
And how did following my professor's advice turn out? The previous semester I'd had nothing published, although I had tried hard. By the end of that semester I had a poem in every school journal and two short stories in print. One poem even won a small cash prize. Oh, yeah. And I signed with an agent the following spring.
Think about replacing your daily watching habit with a daily reading habit. You'll be learning more about writing from books than you can learn from even this little blog if you pay attention to what you like and don't like about each publication.
And thus concludes UNCONVENTIONAL WRITING ADVICE: Part One.
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