Everyone can use some holiday writing inspiration, and this marks the start of my annual pep talks for the season. We’re heading into Thanksgiving here in the U.S., and from there it’s one occasion after another until New Year’s. I run a December Writing Challenge each year, but I encourage you to schedule your writing all through the holidays.
Check out this week’s links for industry information, ideas on characterization, and ways to drum up that holiday writing inspiration. And keep an eye on this space for more writing challenge information coming soon. Enjoy, and happy writing!
This Week’s Links:
It Is Okay to Change Paths. – Bestselling author Tess Gerritsen talks about changing her career from doctor to writer.
Paper is a wonderful technology. – Austin Kleon shares how an exhibit at the Ransom Center inspired him to embrace his paper notebook.
Ilana Masad on the Shrinking of the Industry, Literary Social Media, and Hidden Criticism. – The writer and podcast host discusses how social media has changed literary criticism, and other shifts in the industry from a reviewer’s point of view.
50 Noteable Works of Fiction in 2017. – The Washington Post weighs in on some of the best titles of the year.
Inside the Dystopian Visions of Margaret Atwood and Louise Erdrich. – At a time when Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale serves as a sort of feminist dystopian bible, Erdrich adds her own take on the idea of reproductive slavery.
Marvel’s Black Panther Rules. Literally. – A wonderful interview with actor Chadwick Boseman, with excellent thoughts regarding how characters build from the setting and politics of a fictional nation in this installment in the MCU.
Tor.com Reviewers’ Choice: The Best Books of 2017. – Another best-of list, with some great titles for your own TBR or gift-buying lists.
A Night at the National Book Awards. – A look into what may by the shiniest event in the U.S. publishing world.
Nalini Singh‘s CHERISH HARD releases today, and so I’m here to wish her a very happy book birthday. This shiny new contemporary romance both kicks off her Hard Play series, and serves as prequel to an earlier book, ROCK HARD.
About CHERISH HARD
New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh kicks off her new Hard Play contemporary romance series with a sizzling story that’ll leave you smiling…
Sailor Bishop has only one goal for his future – to create a successful landscaping business. No distractions allowed. Then he comes face-to-face and lips-to-lips with a woman who blushes like an innocent… and kisses like pure sin.
Ísa Rain craves a man who will cherish her, aches to create a loving family of her own. Trading steamy kisses with a hot gardener in a parking lot? Not the way to true love. Then a deal with the devil (aka her CEO-mother) makes Ísa a corporate VP for the summer. Her main task? Working closely with a certain hot gardener.
And Sailor Bishop has wickedness on his mind.
As Ísa starts to fall for a man who makes her want to throttle and pounce on him at the same time, she knows she has to choose – play it safe and steady, or risk all her dreams and hope Sailor doesn’t destroy her heart.
CHERISH HARD is out today, so check out your favorite online retailer to pick up a copy: Kindle, Nook, iBooks, Kobo, Paperback. (Audio coming soon.)
And be sure to check out ROCK HARD, as well, available at a discounted price for a limited time.
Are you looking for weekend writing inspiration? The end of the year brings so many challenges for writers. Holidays loom, making you plan and shop and rush to finish projects by December 31st. But you still have that writing project that calls to you. Maybe you’re participating in NaNoWriMo or up against a deadline. Or you simply started a new novel and you’re twitching to work on it. Set aside some time this weekend to write. Fight the start of the holiday chaos, and remember to make your writing a priority. I hope the links below will help give you a bit of a kick in the right direction.
This Week’s Links:
Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition. – Strapped for time? Try to write a super short story and enter this Writer’s Digest contest. Or look through finished or drafted projects to see what might work.
13 Tips for Actually Getting Some Writing Accomplished. – Author Gretchen Rubin offers some great tips for pushing past your busy calendar and getting words on paper.
Austin Kleon: Pencil vs Computer. – The writer and artist discusses his own process and how different mediums set the mood for stages of his work.
How YA Literature Is Leading the Queer, Disabled Media Revolution. – Looking for ways to be inclusive in your work? Get your weekend writing inspiration from some of these fabulous YA titles.
10 Novels Agents Have Already Seen a Billion Times. – You might want to steer clear of these ideas, or if you have to write one of them, find a great way to turn them on their ear.
Cove Park Literature Residencies: Applications Close 11 December. – Shake up your writing by finding a new place to work, and apply for a writing residency.
Interview with Janet Fitch. – The author discusses research, writing process, and her latest book, The Revolution of Marina M.
When I talk about the politics of reading and writing, I’m not referring to who won the election. In reading and writing, politics involves being “politically correct.” I put that in quotes for a reason. Because is it really about politics? Or is it about doing what’s right? Social media buzzes with talk about diversity in publishing and books written about lived experiences. Authors debate the dangers of piracy in this digital age. But at the end of the day, everyone deserves a place at the table. Writers should be paid for their efforts. Piracy breaks laws.
Certainly this simplifies things. I won’t argue that there’s no room for discussion on these subjects, or not plenty of shades of gray. But sometimes when we’re writing and thinking about how the results will be received, the most straightforward answer works best. Think about what’s right. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. This week’s links offer some thoughts on the politics of reading and writing, along with more general interest articles. I hope you find them thought provoking. Enjoy, and happy writing!
This Week’s Links
Maggie Stiefvater talks about piracy. – The author shares her story about book piracy, and how it has affected her personally.
Should You Throw Away Your Books by Garbage People? – The Reading Glasses podcast discusses what to do when you learn an author you love has a problematic personal life. Includes an interview with Jessa Crispin.
How Long Is Writing Supposed to Take? – A writer/editor wonders how long it actually takes to write a book, and if there’s such a thing as too long.
The 2018 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge. – Mix up your reading list next year! This challege offers some suggestions.
November Is Here, Which Means You Can Add These New Scifi and Fantasy Books to Your Shelves. – Check out these new SFF releases for the month.
The Problem with ‘Problematic.’ – Francine Prose discusses the pros and cons of the discussion around diversifying books. (Note, this is not arguing against the need for diversity, but talking about the ways in which the problem is being discussed and where some lines have been drawn.)
Best Books of 2017. – Publishers Weekly offers their somewhat-early list of the best books for the year.
How Do I Pitch to a Publication? – Good tips for anyone looking to pitch to magazines, etc.
Ready, set, write. It sounds incredibly easy to do. You sit down at your keyboard or a notebook, and get to work. But most writers hear the nagging voice of their internal editor from the first sentence. That voice says you’ve started at the wrong spot. Or it insists your opening sentence is boring. Maybe you should start with a different scene. Are you sure that’s the correct point of view? Your internal editor pokes and whines and insinuates as you write, growing louder with every paragraph. It makes you doubt yourself, and slows your progress.
Silencing Your Internal Editor
Writers everywhere have their own methods for silencing the nagging voice in their heads. The one that tells them they’re doing it all wrong. Here are a few things to keep in mind when working on your first draft. Post your favorites over your desk or tape them to the edge of your monitor. Maybe create a mantra or two.
- It’s just a shitty first draft. No one writes a beautiful or perfect first draft. It’s supposed to be a brain dump. Plenty of time to make it pretty when you start to revise.
- I’m figuring out who the characters are. First drafts help you flesh out your protagonist and the rest of your cast. Get to know them, determine what they want, and how they’re likely to behave while getting it.
- Only reread the previous day’s output. When you sit down to write, don’t allow yourself to read anything older than what you wrote in your previous session. Out of sight, out of mind. And again, you have plenty of time to revise once you’re done with draft #1.
- I don’t have to know everything yet. First drafts are for fleshing out the plot just as much as the characters. If you don’t know what happens next, skip ahead to where you do have an idea. Put brackets and come back later to fill in the details.
- Everything is relative. Remember that the things you write start to build on each other. You may reach a juncture at page 50 or 150 or 250 that gives you wonderful ideas for shoring up earlier scenes. Sometimes you need to build the castle before the foundation.
- You cannot edit a blank page. There’s no point in trying to perfect what you haven’t written. Write first, edit later. By this I mean the entire book. Editing a single sentence in a void is almost as bad as trying to write one perfect sentence from the start.
If your internal editor becomes particularly persistent, try some other ways of distracting yourself. Put on instrumental music to fill your head with some other sound. Scroll down the page so your screen is blank (or turn to the next page in your notebook), then take a short break to walk around; when you come back, start writing without looking at what you’d been picking over before you left. Change the font color of the last section to white so it’s invisible, then keep writing. Go for a run or hit the gym to get your blood flowing — you’ll feel more creatively inspired.
Every writer must face their internal editor, but only you can determine how much power you’ll give to your nagging voice. Whether you’re piling up words for NaNoWriMo or fighting to meet a contract deadline, there will be days when reaching your writing goal feels impossible. Remember that the internal editor is you — you at your most critical and insecure. Remind yourself that you are not alone in your efforts, and the only way to reach the end is to keep pushing through. Good luck, and happy writing.