From the Archives: “5 Tips to Improve Your Writing this Summer”

Welcome back to our Tuesday segment, where we’ll be revisiting some of our most popular posts from the last few years.  What’s stayed the same?  And what’s changed?  We’ll be updating you on the facts, and taking a new (and hopefully refreshing) angle on a few timeless classics of Self Publishing Advisor.

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[ Originally posted: June 15th, 2015 ]

Summer is the perfect time to work on your writing projects and start the self-publishing process. Each week this month, I will offer advice to help you achieve your writing goals this summer. Be sure to check out the last two posts: Kick Off Summer with Self-Publishing and Self-Publishing Authors, Take A Vacation.

This week I’ll share five writing tips to help you achieve your writing goals this season:

1. Read, read, and read some more.

Summer is the perfect time to catch up on your reading wish list and reread some of your favorites. As you sit by the pool or lounge on the beach, be sure to have a stack of books with you. Read a variety of materials over the summer — books in your genre, classic books, books you normally wouldn’t read, newspapers, magazines, even children’s books. Reading is one of the best ways to improve your craft and find inspiration.

2. Browse Pinterest.

Now, you might be thinking that Pinterest is just a way to avoid actually writing, but it can be a great resource for writers. You can use it to collect inspiration for your stories as well as promote yourself and your work. The key is to be strategic in how you spend your time when on the website.

3. Practice writing.

While it’s important to work on your writing project, it’s always fun and smart to take time to just work on the craft of writing. Read a book or blog about improving your craft. Do short writing prompts. Join a writing group. Try writing something in a different genre. All of this “playing” can improve and inspire your writing projects.

4. Try something new.

Novelty is important for writers because the best characters and stories are often inspired by simply living life. This summer take time to try new things. Go to a new restaurant. Visit a museum. Go to a sporting event. Take a class. It doesn’t matter what it is. It just has to be something you’ve never done before.

5. Create a writing space.

Where you work impacts your productivity and creativity. While everyone’s ideal work space is different, it is important to set up an area in your home, or find a place you can go to, that helps you get in the mood to write. Make it clutter free. Hang quotes or photos that are inspirational. Have all of the materials you need in one place. Play some inspiring music.

I’d love to know, what are your doing this summer to improve your writing?

We’ve talked a bit recently (more recently than 2015!) about preparing for the upcoming summer, and I’m back today to synthesize past, present, and future–wait, that sounds a little too grand a statement. But, well, in a sense it’s accurate.

Do these points still hold true? Yes they do. And while there are other tips which might improve your writing this summer (in particular, you might swap out hopping on Pinterest for hopping on any other visual or social media platform), there is nothing to replace the more basic precept of expanding your taste and range (by reading), gathering information and inspiration (by browsing online), practicing, experimenting, and protecting your writing process (by protecting your writing space … and time).

if there was one “tip” I would add to my list this spring, as we transition into planning for summer, it’s this: Struggle. And don’t fight it … outsmart it. As Anne Lamott writes in Bird by Bird, writing is as much a process of foundering as it is of succeeding, and anyone who tells you otherwise is selling something. She writes:

“But how?” my students ask. “How do you actually do it?”
You sit down, I say. You try to sit down at approximately the same time every day. This is how you train your unconscious to kick in for you creatively. So you sit down at, say, nine every morning, or ten every night. You put a piece of paper in the typewriter, or you turn on the computer and bring up the right file, and then you stare at it for an hour or so. You begin rocking, just a little at first, and then like a huge autistic child. You look at the ceiling, and over at the clock, yawn, and stare at the paper again. Then, with your fingers poised on the keyboard, you squint at an image that is forming in your mind — a scene, a locale, a character, whatever — and you try to quiet your mind so you can hear what that landscape or character has to say above the other voices in your mind.”

Listen to those “other voices” this spring and summer. There will always be distractions and things competing with your desire or ability to write, but the fact that they exist does not make you a failure, the same way that actually being impeded by them doesn’t make you a failure. You will find your way through the thicket, and you’ll do it at your own pace and with the unique imagination which makes your work stand apart.

summer reading

Thanks for reading.  If you have any other ideas, I’d love to hear them.  Drop me a line in the comments section below and I’ll respond as quickly as I can.  ♠


Kelly

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com.

How Writers Can Celebrate National Anti-boredom Month

July is National Anti-boredom Month, which encourages everyone to find ways to fight off boredom. Luckily, writers have a special weapon against boredom: creativity! Here are five creative activities to help you “celebrate” anti-boredom month.

1. Read.

Reading is a great activity to beat boredom. It can take you to places far, far away, introduce you to characters  you’ve never met, teach you lessons or skills, and allow you to see the world from a new perspective.

2. Play writing games.

If you search online or visit your local bookstore or library, you can find plenty of fun writing prompts. These simple activities can get your creative juices flowing and may just spark a great story idea.

3. Try a new art.

Many authors find they enjoy other forms of art, such as music, painting, and photography. Study the work of these artists, perhaps by visiting a museum or local art show. Also, try your hand at a new medium. Learning a new craft won’t only keep you from getting bored, but it could also inspire your writing.

4. Travel.

Traveling is a great way to beat boredom and inspire your creative work. Even if you can’t travel to a far away place, spend some time this month traveling to new and unique places close to you. You can easily find a list of local attractions online, or ask other locals their favorite places to go.

5. Write.

Writers are always complaining they don’t have time to write, yet ironically, you’ll also find these same writers saying they’re bored. Fill those moments of boredom with writing! Whether you’re waiting for your food to arrive on your lunch break or sitting on a train ride home, break out the notebook or laptop and start writing. Once you finish your manuscript, start working on the self-publishing process.

I’d love to know, how are you celebrating National Anti-boredom Month?

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog at http://kellyschuknecht.com.

3 Ways to Find More Time to Write

Since I didn’t post on June 21, I want to wish you a happy belated summer solstice! It is one of my favorite days of the year because it is generally the longest day of the year, which means I feel like I have more time to get things (like my self publishing projects) done. Even if you missed the opportunity to work on your writing this summer solstice, you can still find ways to stretch your days and make more time to write. Here are a three ways.

1. Write while you drive!

The average person in the US has a 25.4 minute commute to work. Round trip, that gives you almost an hour of writing time every day. Invest in a voice recorder and work on your stories while you are driving. You can simply brainstorm ideas or speak entire passages to transcribe later.

2. Write while you wait!

How often do you find yourself waiting in a doctor’s office or in the carpool line at school? Use that time to work on your writing. Keep a notepad with you or download an app on your phone that lets you record your thoughts.

3. Write on your lunch hour!

Just because you work during the day doesn’t mean you can’t find time to write. On your lunch hour, find a quiet place and break out your notebook or laptop. Even if you only work on your project for part of your lunch break, those extras minutes add up.

I’d love to know, how do you sneak in time to work on your self publishing projects?

ABOUT JODEE THAYER: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Jodee Thayer works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable customer service reps and publishing consultants; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process in order to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Jodee Thayer can put you on the right path.

3 Summer Writing Tips for Self Publishing Authors

Although it feels like summer has just begun, it will be over before we know it! If you have time off in the summer, you may have summer writing goals, but it is easy to get distracted by all the fun summer activities and forget to work on your writing.

With that in mind, I’d like you to ask yourself a question today — how are you doing with your summer writing goals?  Have you found yourself wrapped up in summer events — vacations, going to the pool, late night bonfires, enjoying the outdoors — instead of writing?

If you find you aren’t devoting as much time to writing as you would like, maybe it’s time to redirect your goals.  Rather than miss out on the fun of summer, use this season to inspire your writing. Here are three ways to do so.

1) Write outside

No one says you have to work in an office, coffee shop, bookstore, or library. Instead, take your computer, notebook, or research material with you to your favorite outdoor location (the beach, the park, next to the pool) and work there. You will get to enjoy the summer sun as you write.

2) Let summer be your inspiration

Maybe you can’t find the inspiration to work on your current project because you are distracted by all the fun summer has to offer. Take a break from your current project and work on something inspired by the season. Perhaps, you could write fun poems or short stories about your summer vacation.

3) Think ahead

If you stay committed to your writing now, you may be able to enjoy the benefits by the time the holidays roll around. Books make great holiday gifts, so keep at your goals and you could just be a self-published author by the end of the year!

I’d love to know, how is summer impacting your writing goals?

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog at http://kellyschuknecht.com.