How To Become a Better Writer (Without Actually Writing)

Okay, obviously you need to actually WRITE to become a better WRITER, but it is also important to remember that there are other ways to become a better and stronger writer. I hope you apply some of these new ideas to your writing process, and I hope you enjoy!

  • Read – Yes, yes this is the obvious one but it had to be said in a blog post like this. You would be surprised how many people forget to crack open a book while writing their own story, or just writing anything in general. It is important to keep up a regular reading routine that goes along with your writing routine because continually reading will continue to inspire you and help you improve your craft as you go along. Even if you can only fit in 15 minutes a day for reading, every little bit helps.
  • New Experiences – Going for a walk around town or hopping on the bus and going for a cruise will open your eyes to the world around us. You will see people interacting and new landscapes which will benefit your writing. You will be able to paint scenery better because you actually saw it, and could pick up on some interesting dialogue as well. Make sure you leave your writing office every once and a while!
  • Learning – Even if you have long since graduated from school, there are so many opportunities for you to learn new things. Take online classes or classes at your local college on subjects that interest you (not just writing, but classes like history, art, languages, etc), check out books on different topics from the library, or use the internet! There are so many resources at your fingertips that I don’t understand why you wouldn’t want to keep learning. Learning new things will widen your field of writing when it comes to blog posts and articles, because as they say, pick something (or several things), become an expert in it, and then write it.
  • Watch Movies/TV! – This might be your favourite one, because I know it is one of my favourite ways to become a better writer. Watching movies and TV’s triggers new ideas and allows you to admire the story line and then dissect it. You get to learn what makes an entertaining plot, and where it falls flat, and then apply it to your own writing.
  • Podcasts – Every writer should be subscribed to several different podcasts, whether they are writing related or something completely different. I am subscribed to many writing/creativity related podcasts, but also some on history and mythology ones as well. They are nice to listen to when you are walking around or driving, or even cleaning your room/house. If you have a busy life and don’t have much time to commit to the tips above, I definitely recommend checking out some podcasts because they allow you to listen to them while doing other tasks!

Okay, NOW is when writing comes in!

Those are my 5 tips on how to become a better writer apart from actually writing, and I hope you enjoyed. Don’t forget to check out the blog posts below for more writing and reading related content ūüôā

Last Blog Post: Camp NaNoWriMo Week 3: Using Your Cabin

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Camp NaNoWriMo Week 3: Using Your Cabin

The great part about Camp NaNoWriMo is that you are placed in a cabin with a group of writers all going through the same struggles and hardships as you. If you don’t usually speak to people about your writing, whether that is because your town/city doesn’t offer many opportunities for that or because you are just shy, this is the perfect opportunity so take advantage of it.

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Tips for Making the Most of Your Cabin:

  • Introduce Yourself – This is obvious, but it is important to introduce yourself to your virtual cabin. Say your name and share a bit on what you are working on, and maybe throw in some struggles you usually have when it comes to your writing. You will be surprised by how many people will respond and begin introducing themselves as well!
  • Ask for Advice – A lot of your cabin members have most likely been writing for a long time, so ask for some advice! Maybe you need some help on flushing out your characters, or how to escape the cold, dead hands of writer’s block. Whatever you need there is a good chance¬†someone in your cabin has an answer.
  • Motivate Each Other – There will definitely be days where you are not motivated to write, and just the thought of sitting down at your computer sounds draining. Guess what, you have about a dozen or so people at your fingertips if you are in need of some pep talks! And when someone else is in need of some motivation in your cabin, make sure you are there to offer some as well. I make sure I actively check out the chat room of my cabin because I want to be there for my cabin mates, and it is nice to always have the favour returned.

I know this blog post was a bit short, but I really wanted to emphasize on the importance of your cabin before Camp NaNoWriMo is over because boy, is it flying by. Now that you are done reading this, google “Camp NaNoWriMo”, log in and start up the chat in your cabin! Apply the 3 tips I gave above and make the most of your cabin while you have it. Also, don’t forget to check out the blog posts linked below, and I hope you enjoyed ūüôā

Last Blog Post: Reading + Writing Update

Other Camp NaNo Posts: My Survival Writing Kit, Catching Up

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How To: Develop Healthy Writing Habits

When writing, it is important to develop habits that benefit you physically and mentally. Sometimes we get in the habit of developing unhealthy habits though, which is why you should probably sit down, read this blog post, and figure out how to apply these tips to your life. I really hope this will help and I hope you enjoy!

What Are Some Unhealthy Writing Habits?

  • Staying Up Too Late or Too Early Every Day Writing
  • Beating Yourself Up For Not Meeting Your Daily Word Goal
  • Setting¬†Writing Goals That Are¬†Way¬†Out of Reach
  • Not Taking Breaks

What Are Some Healthy Writing Habits?

  • Writing During Your Prime Time, But Also Getting 7-8 Hours of Sleep
  • Setting Realistic Daily Word Counts and Overall Writing Goals
  • Taking Breaks Every 25-60 minutes for 5-10 minutes
  • Allowing Yourself to Take a Day Off If Your Mind and Body Needs It!

How Can YOU Develop These Healthy Writing Habits?

  • Set Up a Writing Schedule That Works Around Your Sleep Schedule – Sleep is so important because if you don’t get enough it will be really hard to function the next day. Find out what times work best for you and your creative flow, but make sure it works out that you are still getting a decent sleep.
  • Create SMART Goals – SMART (Specific – Measurable – Agreed upon – Realistic – Time Based) goals are what format you should be looking to whenever you make goals. These are the most productive goals because you should develop an action plan to tackle these realistic goals, and make those steps towards that goal SMART goals as well. For example, if your goal is to write 30,000 words by the end of the month you have already created half of a SMART goal. You have your pretty realistic goal and a deadline. Now you just need to figure out how many words per day you need to write, and I also recommend having a little reward for you at the end if you accomplish it.
  • Take Breaks – I recommend timing your writing sessions in what feels best for you. For example, maybe you work better in shorter sprints so set timers for every 20-30 minutes and then take a 5 minute break at the end of each short sprint and repeat that until you are done for the day. If you like writing for longer sprints, maybe one hour at a time, then take about 10 minute breaks. You don’t want to burn out and your fingers and brain¬†do¬†need a short break every so often.
  • If You Write Every Day, Take A Day Off Every Once and a While – I don’t usually write everyday (except I try during Camp NaNoWriMo and NaNoWriMo) because I am also a full time student, but when I do, I find myself really needing a day off every once and a while. Sometimes I will take every second Sunday off, which is a day I reserve for doing school work and blogging and other projects other than whatever I am currently working on. If that sounds appealing to you, try it and don’t feel guilty about taking that much needed day off!

Now, to develop these habits I recommend applying them to your everyday life for at least a week straight because if you do it only every once and a while, you will not develop these habits. It may be a hard week, but it will be worth it once these habits become part of your writing routine!

Those are some ways to develop healthy writing habits and I hope you enjoyed! Don’t forget to check out the blog posts linked below, and don’t forget to keep writing ūüôā

Last Blog Post: Camp NaNoWriMo Week 2: Catching Up

Other Writing Blog Posts: Things All Aspiring Writers Should  Do, Balancing Multiple Writing Projects 

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Camp NaNoWriMo Week 2: Catching Up

Welcome to week 2 of Camp NaNoWriMo, the week where most writers lose the initial excitement of their project and struggle to put words on the page! Or were you already there? Personally, I haven’t struggled with this as much as I usually would, but I do know a lot of people who have so this blog post is for you! I wanted to give a few of my tips for what I do when I need to catch up on my words, and hopefully any of you in need of this will find it help ūüôā

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  • Stretch Your Daily Word Count A Bit – By this, I do not mean add like 1000 words to your daily word count, but maybe a few hundred. Adding two or even three hundred a day will make a massive difference in the end, and might even allow you to fully catch up within a week or two. Try this if the next tip sounds a little daunting to you, because I can wholeheartedly confirm that this will help.
  • Writing Marathon!!! – So if you have a day where you a lot of free time, I recommend trying to write as much as you can. Make sure you give yourself a few breaks here and there, but if you have the time, spend a couple hours just writing. You will be amazed by how much you can get done, and it might be enough to fully catch up and even get a bit ahead. All depending on how far behind you are of course!
  • Remember, Do Not Stress About It! – Camp NaNoWriMo is supposed to be a fun, personal challenge to see how much you can get done. I mean, that is why you set your own goal! If you are falling behind, and don’t know if you will catch up, don’t stress about that number at the bottom of your WIP because you are getting a lot more done than you would if you weren’t participating in Camp NaNoWriMo. Whether you get some words on the page each day or not, it isn’t the end of the world.
  • Freewrite It – Maybe the reason you are behind might not be because you skipped a few days, but because the words just aren’t coming. If this is the case, maybe try and loosen your grip on your outline and just go with the flow. Write what feels right, even if it doesn’t make sense next to your outline or your original outcome of your story. It will get your creativity flowing, and remember, the first draft is just you word vomiting anyways, so it doesn’t have to make sense!

Those are a few tips on how to catch up if you have fallen behind in Camp NaNoWriMo, and I hope you enjoyed. Don’t forget to check out the blog posts linked before for more writing and reading related content ūüôā

Last Blog Post: Reading + Writing Update!

Camp NaNoWriMo Week 1: My Writing Survival Kit

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Things All Aspiring Writers Should Do

The title says it all. Yesterday I was reading some craft books and I came across some really good tips for aspiring writers. I wanted to share them on my blog to help other aspiring writers as well, so that they can be their best writerly self!

  • Don’t Worry Too Much About Building Your Platform – Yes, having a presence on social media is important, but first you need to finish whatever project you are working on. You don’t want to spend valuable writing time working on posting pictures to your Instagram (unless you did all your writing for the day!) when you could be taking steps closer to finishing your manuscript. Besides, you have so much time after you finish your manuscript to take on social media.
  • Attend Writer’s Conference/Writing Groups – It is so important to reach out to other writers not just over social media, but in person. Going to writer’s conference lets you do that, and you can also make valuable contacts from established writers, editors, publishers, agents, etc. They are also a lot of fun to attend! Writer’s groups are equally important, and most places have one so do some research and make some writing friends! Those people might become your critique group which will be an incredibly important asset to your writing journey.
  • Reflect on Your Writing Process in a Journal – I express this a lot, and that is to write in a journal! It is a great writing exercise to just allow yourself to free write about really anything, but it is also a good way to remind yourself how far you have come and where you are at. Write down what you have accomplished in this past month, or even year. Just seeing in words what you have done will make you feel better about your writing.
  • Set Goals and Stay Accountable – When it comes to goals, set big ones but not entirely out of reach. You can even write these goals down in your journal and make sure you tell yourself why you want to achieve them and how you are going to do that. Another tip when it comes to setting goals is to create a deadline for these goals. If that deadline is too long sometimes you won’t start thinking about that goal until it is almost to late. Personally, I make overall, big annual goals that I set out to achieve each year, but I also create bimonthly goals (two months) that are stepping stones to these big goals.
  • Always Ask These Three Questions About Your Story – Whether you are outlining or sitting down to write, always ask yourself these three questions about your story: Who is my story about? What is their goal? What will keep them from that goal? It will remind you what path you need to take in your writing, and fuel new ideas!

Those are several tips I managed to collect from some craft books and I hope you enjoyed! Since this post was based off of craft books, I left a short list below of some of my favourites that I think both aspiring and established writers would benefit from. Also, don’t forget to check out my last blog post also linked below.

Last Blog Post: April 2018 TBR

Craft Book Recommendations:

Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market

Novel & Short Stories Market

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Camp NaNoWriMo Week 1: My Writing Survival Kit

Welcome to week 1 of Camp NaNoWriMo! It is day 2 and hopefully you have begun writing and are hitting your daily goals. If not, that’s okay too because it’s the thought that counts, right? Today I wanted to share with you my Camp NaNo survival kit, a kit of all the things I personally need to have with me when I sit down to write. Don’t forget to comment below what your survival kit has in it because I would love to know!

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Green Tea

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I drink green tea religiously so it is a necessity to have next to me when I am writing. It keeps me awake and energized and it gets me into the mindset that it is writing time! Having a designated drink or snack will really help develop a writing routine, or even just drinking or eating something you love will get you excited to sit down and write.

My Outline

This is something that everyone needs next to them. Whether it is in a notebook or on your laptop make sure your outline is accessible in case you need to refer back to something while writing. Having it next to you means it will take less time out of your writing session to remember that character’s cat’s name or what day of the week it is in your story. Personally my outline is very research heavy and the research includes a lot of complicated, weird names so I find myself referring to my notebook a lot.

NaNoWriMo Word Sprint

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I only use these during Camp NaNo, but I find it really helpful and wish they did writing sprints throughout the year. These sprints are found on the NaNoWriMo Word Sprints Twitter page here  and are a fun way to do anywhere from 5-60 minute word sprints and get all the words down! It is also fun to connect with other writers and go over what our word counts were and what we are writing.

My Favourite Book

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Having a book I admire so much next to me just motivates me to keep writing and going. Currently that book is Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare (or really any book by Cassandra Clare) because it has been my favourite book since it came out, as the first book, Lady Midnight, had been before. Try this out and you will be surprised by how motivated you feel whenever you get stumped on a scene or lose momentum but then  look at that favourite book of  yours and suddenly you are ready to go.

Those are the items in my Camp NaNo survival kit and I hope you enjoyed! Let me know how your Camp NaNo journey is going if you are participating, and if you aren’t then what are you working on? Don’t forget to check out the links to some blog posts below!

Last Blog Post: Reading + Writing Update

Camp NaNo Prep Posts: Outlining Tips, Creating Characters, Research

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Balancing Multiple Writing Projects

I am a writer who likes to keep busy by working on multiple writing projects at once, and while it sounds daunting (and sometimes is) if you manage your time and energy correctly, you will be amazed at how much you can get done.

Devote One Day to Each Project

While you can spend a day on two or even three projects, you will not get much done. However, if you focus on only one project per day, you will get so much more done and faster too. For example, I am currently working on two short stories and outlining my novel for Camp NaNoWriMo, but I don’t work on everything each day. Usually I will work on one short story and then the other the next day. Sometimes if I finish what I need to get done that day though, I will finish off the day by doing a little bit of outlining but I will devote an entire day to outlining some other day.

Have To-Do Lists

This is so, so important because since you are balancing multiple writing projects, you want to get as much work as possible done each day. You need to have a list of the things you want to get accomplished and then go through that and make sure you check every single one off. I recommend not going too crazy when it comes to your goals for the day and stick to around 3 smaller goals and 1-2 bigger ones. If you start reaching too high than you will feel unaccomplished by the end of the day and start losing confidence in whatever projects you are working on.

Set Timers Throughout the Day

When you spend the entire day on a project, the last thing you want is to get burned out. I recommend setting up timers throughout the day so when they go off, you know it is time for a break. Personally, I like to work for 45 mins-1 hour at a time and then have 10-15 minute breaks. Having around an hour to work just lets me get a lot more done and when I finish each session, I feel like I have deserved that 15 minute break.

Those are my 3 biggest tips when it comes to juggling multiple writing projects, but this really goes for all types of projects. Good luck with your projects and I hope you found this helpful! Don’t forget to check out my last blog post: Prepping for Camp NaNoWriMo #3

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Prepping for Camp NaNoWriMo #3

Welcome to week 3 of prepping for Camp NaNoWriMo 2018! Today I thought it would be a good idea to talk about researching when outlining because it is a really important part of the outlining process, more so for some than others. I know for me, my current WIP requires a lot of research and often I am asking myself these two questions: what do I really need to research? and how much is too much research?

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When it comes to researching, I recommend researching as much as you can. Do as much as you think is necessary and even a little more. It is important to know more than your readers will, so even if you don’t plan on injecting every bit of this research onto the page, it can come in handy later on. Okay, now onto the first question!

What will I really need to research?

This question depends on what kind of research you are doing. If you are researching an entirely different civilization for your book, it is pretty obvious that you will need to know what they wore, what they ate, what their government was like, what the common day looked like for them…basic things that we know about ourselves. For example, maybe you want to write a book that takes place during Ancient Greece and you are focusing on Greek mythology. Clearly you will need to research everything about the gods and the rich myths and legends that come with this ancient civilization, but it is also important that you know what they ate and what they wore and maybe even throw in a few common phrases people would say. Every little thing you throw in will add to the authenticity of your story and make it that much better. However, if you are not researching a civilization but maybe you need to know about a certain job like a scientist, that means it will be handy to know what kind of scientist they are, their pay, their hours, their duties, etc.

How much research is too much research?

The next question might be the most important one because while I just said above to research a lot, and that is true, but there is researching a lot and than there is researching too much. You should take the time to carefully research what you need to but don’t let the research take too much time away from the actual writing of your story. For me, I am giving myself 3 weeks to research (already 1 1/2 weeks in) and then wherever I am at, I need to stop and write. By the end of 3 weeks I should know enough about what I researched to actually start on my story, thus not allowing me any excuses. I recommend setting yourself a time span like this, and if you don’t feel it is enough time by the end of it, don’t worry, write anyways. You can research along the way or just blast through your first draft and research more afterwards for your second draft. The point is, don’t let researching get in the way of you writing, especially with something like Camp NaNoWriMo!

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That is all for this blog post and I hope you enjoyed! Don’t forget to check out my last blog post: Reading + Writing Update

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Reading + Writing Goals – March + April 2018

So I made a blog post for my January and February goals back in January, and while I said I was going to recap them when I got around to writing my March and April goals, I’m just going to pretend I never said that. Basically the first two months of 2018 were fails for the goals I set because I set goals that were way out of reach. I wouldn’t say the months were unsuccessful because I did accomplish some things, but overall it was a flop on my goals. Anyways, now I know what kind of goals to set for myself so I made a list of my March and April goals that are ambitious but not too ambitious!

March + April Goals:

  • Finish my Creative Writing 12 by March 16
  • Write + publish 30 blog posts
  • Submit to 3 short story contests
  • Submit to 1 literary magazine
  • Finish outlining novel
  • Write 40,000 words during Camp NaNoWriMo in April
  • Read 10 books

These goals are much more reachable than my past goals, and I am already chugging along to completing some of them already! Fingers crossed though that my wrap up on these goals in May is way more successful than January and February, but honestly no month could be as lazy as them!

Anyways that is all for my reading and writing goals for the months of March and April, and I hope you enjoyed. Make sure you comment some goals you have for the coming months, and also check out my last blog post: Prepping for Camp NaNoWriMo #2

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Prepping for Camp NaNoWriMo #2

Last week I went over some brief tips on outlining your novel for Camp NaNoWriMo and now we are going to dive a little more into that, but focusing on characters! Characters are incredibly important to any story…if they are done well. Here are some tips to creating three dimensional, fleshed out characters!

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Creating Characters 101

  • Use Real People for Inspiration – It is really helpful when starting out to use real people to help you with your character sketch. As you go on, you’ll start adding new pieces that you came up with yourself, but until then it is like starting off with a template!
  • Make Them Diverse! – Make every character different. In the real world everyone has different skin colour, hair colour, voices, personalities…so reflect that in your characters. Having a diverse cast of characters not only makes your story more realistic, but it allows readers¬† to connect with them easier because they will see themselves in one or more of your characters.
  • Fears? Ambitions? Those Are Important – I have fears and ambitions, and so do you. If we both do that means ALL your characters do as well. Make sure you write this down, along with all these others tips, because sometimes we think we know what our characters fear or what they strive for, but it is important to actually write it down. You can use this in your story to bring more depth to your character and make them actually feel real.
  • Give EVERY Character a History – Everyone lives a different life, and just because a character isn’t as important to the story as the main character, they still deserve their own story. It also makes them easier to write because if they have a backstory you get to know them better. Maybe they were orphaned at a young age and moved around from house to house which is why they don’t get attached easily…whatever you feel is right for that character but just create it!
  • Know What Will Make or Break Them – Everyone has something that will make or break them. By this I mean we all have something that would make us the happiest person on the Earth, but also things that would deeply hurt us. Characters have this too! Something can bring them to the verge of breaking (or the happier alternative) and you can use that and bend it at your will throughout the story.
  • Know Their Motive – Again, whether they are the main character or a side character, it is so important to know what is motivating them to do whatever it is they are doing in your story. Just like how every person has some driving force in their life, like maybe they want to be a musician. If that is what their motive is at the moment then that means they will do things in order to move forward like buy an instrument and take lessons. It is the same with your characters, especially your main character. Something is motivating them and you need to know what.
  • Write in that Character’s Perspective – Even if you don’t plan on writing in that character’s POV, pull out a journal and just freewrite as that character. Write what their usual day looks like, write about them going on a walk…just writing in their perspective will make you understand them better and that will really show when you introduce them in your short story, novel, etc.

Wow that was a lot longer than I expected but hopefully it was helpful! It is so important to know as much as you can about your characters, but also your entire story and world before diving head first into Camp NaNoWriMo because otherwise you will hit some major roadblocks along the way.

Anyways, that is all for this Camp NaNo prep post and I hope you enjoyed. Don’t forget to check out my last blog post: Reading + Writing Update!

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