Tag Archives: writing tips

Write What You Know: A case study of Tom Clancy | Dunne Blog

One of the most confounding pieces of writing advice that gets thrown around haphazardly is “write what you know.” On the surface it makes sense: draw from personal experience so that your familiarity with the material lends a sense of authenticity and verisimilitude. However, when you think about it a little, it would seem to preclude a vast amount of possible stories. If you’re supposed to “write what you know” then how are you supposed to write fantasy, sci-fi, or even historical fiction. Moreover, many of those genre writers seem to do just fine without having personally experienced their own settings; Tolkien never set foot in Middle Earth.

I still think that “write what you know” has some currency, but we’ll have to dig into it a little bit to unpack its value. Continue reading Write What You Know: A case study of Tom Clancy | Dunne Blog

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Deep Work: Why a $2 kitchen timer was one of the best investments I made in my writing

In a recent post, I talked about flow and the effort it takes to achieve it. Today, I want to talk more about that, specifically about making your writing space “sacred” and creating a “closed-loop system,” particularly with regards to distractions, vis a vis your phone.

In that post about flow, I discussed the pomodoro technique, which helps me focus. To quickly recap, I work for twenty-five minutes then take a five minute break. The problem is that I was using my phone to do this, and during my five minute breaks I’d usually check social media or any messages. Seems harmless enough, right? I’d briefly check my phone for a few minutes then set it aside and work, and then repeat.

The problem I found was that this was fragmenting my attention. I could never really give the task at hand my full attention. At the back of my mind was always whatever was going on with Facebook, messenger, etc. It felt like I was always trying to run with a parachute attached to my back. Continue reading Deep Work: Why a $2 kitchen timer was one of the best investments I made in my writing

New Year’s Resolution: Go With the Flow | Dun Dun Dunne

Recently, I’ve become fascinated with the concept of the “flow state”; a frame of mind where you become lost in a task. Psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi  described flow as “being so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one…Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost.”

To be sure, it’s certainly not a new or novel concept. Throughout history, people like Newton and Michelangelo would become so engrossed in a project that they’d forget to eat, bathe, or even sleep. That might be a little extreme, but I’m sure I speak for a lot of you when I say that I’d like to be a little more focused when I sit down to write. I can’t tell you how many times a writing session has been derailed by the many distractions of the internet.

When I was writing my Master’s thesis, it got to the point that I’d write a sentence, check the word count, save file, then go on Reddit. After three hours I might have written 500 words. It was torture. Continue reading New Year’s Resolution: Go With the Flow | Dun Dun Dunne

4 Ways to Beat the Winter Writing Blahs | House Blog

I don’t know if it’s the darker days or the colder weather, but there’s something about winter that makes me want to crawl under a pile of warm blankets and not emerge until June.

I tend to put off a lot of things during the winter – getting groceries, cleaning, socializing, and sometimes even writing. So, if you’re like me, here are some tips on how to stay productive during those dark and dreary winter months!

Continue reading 4 Ways to Beat the Winter Writing Blahs | House Blog

NaNo Lessons 2018 (So Far) | House Blog

1. Writing every day is good. I’ve been doing a lot of editing lately, so I felt a bit rusty jumping back into novel writing. Pushing myself to write every day is helping get me back in the groove, and I’m finding that I’m more focused on the story as a whole and quicker at solving issues. Even if you can’t write every day, it’s helpful to try to write as often as you can. Just like swimming, if you don’t practice, your skills can get rusty (and you won’t be able to do those cool jump dives from the side of the pool like you used to).

2. It doesn’t matter what you write – WRITE. Some purists may consider it cheating to include writing that isn’t within your novel, but I think that as long as you’re getting words down, it can count. The novel I’m writing is about characters putting on a play, so not only am I writing the novel, but also the play within (I searched for a version online but couldn’t find one). Whenever I hit a brick wall on the novel, I’ll turn around and write the play, so I can stay productive instead of staring at my screen blankly. Sometimes, if I get stuck on both, I’ll do word-sprints to help outline the plot or work through a problem. While these things aren’t necessarily helping the novel’s word-count, it’s still writing and it’s still helpful.

3. Seriously – JUST WRITE. It was only day 2 in NaNo when I decided to pause and write a Kit Sora fiction. Sometimes I get stuck in a project and don’t know where to go next, so I need something else to think about, like an amuse-bouche for my brain. It keeps me writing, and there are so many other things out there to write (like Flying Stories). As a bonus, sometimes while I’m writing something else, my novel will notice that my attention’s elsewhere and get jealous. ‘Remember me? You should get back to me! Here are tons of ideas!

4. Don’t get discouraged if what you write isn’t perfect. This novel is already showing signs of being a good Zero Draft instead of a good First Draft. I’ve got some great scenes and character development, but it’ll need a lot of tightening up. However, instead of going back and trying to make it perfect, I’m writing notes to my future self of what’s needed, before moving on. I won’t finish this novel if I worry about every single word I’ve written, but I will if I keep going forward. As Socrates once said*, It’s better to have a draft that needs work than no draft at all.

5. It’s okay to hold back and wait for inspiration. I find it easier to write when I know what’s coming next or what I want to say. At one point I knew that I wanted to describe a show that was going on, but I didn’t want to write it from my main character’s point of view. So I held off and moved to the next chapter instead of forcing myself to write something I didn’t want to write. Then, that night, I was thinking about the story and I realized exactly who’s point of view I could use. The next day I started writing and SUCCESS! The words came easily and quickly, and the scene was finished in no time.

6. …Just don’t wait too long! Remember that you shouldn’t go too many days without writing. If your inspiration for the next scene isn’t coming along, think of a scene that you want to write and move on to that. If I’m struggling to write something, usually it’s because there’s something off about it. I’ll try to change it, mix it up, or think about it another way. Or cut it out altogether and write something else.

7. There’s still time. November ain’t over yet! Even if you don’t make it to 50,000 words, if you’ve been even the least bit productive, it’s been worth it. And when November ends, it doesn’t mean that you have to stop. Keep on writing! Words forever! Huzzah!

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*Socrates totally did not say that.

Write Like No One’s Reading | Brad Dunne’s Blog

This weekend I will be launching my debut novel, After Dark Vapours. It’s obviously a very exciting time for me; publishing a book has been a dream for me ever since I was a little kid reading Goosebumps. Likewise, I’ve been lucky to have experienced an outpouring of support and enthusiasm from friends and family. Perhaps the most common refrain I hear, especially from bookish friends, is that they too have always wanted to write a book. If you’re reading this and also feel the same, believe me when I tell you that if I can do it, you can do it. So, with that in mind, I’d like to give you all some advice that I wish someone gave me when I started writing:

Write like no one is reading. Continue reading Write Like No One’s Reading | Brad Dunne’s Blog

NaNoPrepWeek | House Blog

The stars have aligned, Mercury is in retrograde*, and I’m prepping for NaNoWriMo!

I say that because this will be the first year I’ve actually done prep work for a NaNo story – and not ‘I’ve got a character name and an idea’ prep work, I mean ‘names, backgrounds, world-building, and outline’ prep work.

My first NaNo was a ‘fly by the seat of my pants’ affair, and since I managed to hit my word count I figured that this was the way to go. However, that story was also a really rough draft, consisting of many odd ramblings (when I’m desperately trying to hit a certain word count it’s almost like the ghost of Charles Dickens possesses me and I can suddenly spend paragraphs describing a lamp – good for word count, but not for content). The subsequent NaNos either had similar ramblings or failed to meet the word count**.

 

Nano-meme

Continue reading NaNoPrepWeek | House Blog