Say no to structure and let your imagination run w...

“Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” – E.L. Doctorow We know everyone’s writing style is different, so we believe as long as you get it down in paper who is to say you didn’t do it the “right way?” Just because you didn’t create an outline or know the ending to your novel before writing Chapter 1 doesn’t mean you’re wrong. You shouldn’t feel obligated to do things how others tell you do them – keep doing what works best for you. You don’t always have to clearly see everything laid out before you – just enough to...

The Never Ending Jou...

Guest Blog by Grant Faulkner Did I choose my writing process, or did it choose me? This was the question I asked myself after 20+ years of writing fiction. I wondered if I’d stumbled thoughtlessly upon my creative practice, and instead of actively scrutinizing it or consciously constructing...

6 Secrets to Writing a Novel No One Ever Told You

Writing a novel can seem like a daunting task, and a first-time author might even be hesitant to start. But if you’re passionate about writing and are willing to put in the work there is nothing to be afraid of. Telling stories is something you do every day, whether you are discussing your work day with your spouse, or reminiscing about past experiences with friends. Telling stories by word of mouth is something we do naturally, and writing a story is just taking those words and putting them on paper. When starting your novel, it is important to remember that it will take some time; it’s not a race. You need to be willing to commit the...

Go after inspiration with a club

 “You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”  – Jack London Too often writers sit in their local coffee shop waiting for the lightning bolt of inspiration to hit them. But, you need to heed London’s advice and take charge of your inspiration. Whether it’s signing up for a new experience (geo-caching, for example) or just changing up your writing area, you need to be actively searching for inspiration. London was famous for finding inspiration from the simplest items, such as newspaper clippings. You might not churn out material at the rate London did, but you can ensure you have plenty of...

Q&A with Writer’s Digest Mark of Qualit...

We recently announced that Cliff of the Ruin, by Bonnie McKernan, was the fifth winner of the prestigious Writer’s Digest Mark of Quality. The book has received effusive praise, including Midwest Book Review which “very much recommended” the title. The Past in Review cautions readers of sleeplessness, stating “leave it in the hands of an accomplished writer and you are about to pull an all-nighter of a reading session.” Here we dig a little deeper into Bonnie’s inspiration and future writing plans. What inspired you to write Cliff of the Ruin? It started with a question: Is there a difference between wishful thinking...

Read a book to keep your mind fresh

You may not be a fan of Stephen King’s books, but you can’t deny that he knows what it takes to write a book or two. “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”  – Stephen King If you want to continue honing your craft, you must continue reading. By reading another author’s work you enjoy, you pick up new plot ideas, different ways of holding dialogue between characters or even inspiration for your next book cover. We urge you to go a bit beyond your preferred genre and pick up something you might not normally consider. It doesn’t have to be the classics, but...

Never stop learning about your craft of writing

Many writers have their own style or writing pattern, but it’s important to never stop learning about your craft. Try something new. “Write. Rewrite. When not writing or rewriting, read. I know of no shortcuts.” —Larry L. King Stepping out of your comfort zone when it comes to reading or writing can be tricky. With new adventures come great lessons, and there is so much out there that can help you become a better writer. Check out a new book genre, try a writing style you’ve never done before or attend a seminar. Continue to grow as a writer because there is no end to useful writing knowledge.  Takeaway Tweets “Write. Rewrite....

Learn to Love Deadlines

As a writer, you probably have an interesting relationship with deadlines. As easy as it is to give yourself deadlines and get excited about the prospect of meeting them, it’s even easier to ignore them. “I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.” ― Douglas Adams It’s usually no difficulty to let deadlines pass you by — especially the ones you set for yourself. If you have a hard time holding yourself accountable for your own deadlines, let outside influences help. Look to writing contests, literary journals, conferences and workshop groups to set your deadlines for you. You’re likely to...

Sell Your Heart: Whe...

You’ve got to sell your heart, your strongest reactions, not the little minor things that only touch you lightly, the little experiences that you might tell at dinner. This is especially true when you begin to write, when you have not yet developed the tricks of interesting people on paper,...

You Can Make Anythin...

Remember this quote from C.S. Lewis the next time you sit down to start a new writing project. Be encouraged by the idea that there are no limits to the stories you can tell, the worlds you can create, or the characters you can meet. “You can make anything by writing.” ― C.S. Lewis The...

Soak up the Stories ...

How much writing material have you come into contact with throughout your life? “We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.” ― Ray Bradbury Without even really trying, you’re constantly...

Writing Influences: ...

Few things are more beneficial to your writing than reading the work of other great writers. Reading and studying the greats can show you what’s possible, teach you what works, and give you inspiration. But once you’ve soaked in all the wonder and wisdom from your favorite...

Before and After: Th...

Wouldn’t it be interesting to see before-and-after photos of all the ideas that ever sparked a story — to hold our intentions and inspirations up against our final manuscripts and see the evolution? It’s amazing how much an idea can change before an author is through with it — how...

Our Most Effective Writing Habits

The editors on the Writer’s Digest staff are often asked what their favorite habits are for overcoming writer’s block and finding inspiration. Following are the ones they’ve found to be the most effective: “When I have trouble focusing, I listen to white noise — like the whir of a fan. It helps me calm myself and step away from “busy work,” be that cleaning the house or talking on Twitter. White noise settles me, and I can get more good writing done when I’m settled.” Chuck Sambuchino, Editor   Tweet This   “When I’m stuck, I always read over what I wrote the day before. It jogs my memory...

What type of writer are you?

If you’re searching for a way to classify your identity as a writer, look no further than this great quote from George R.R. Martin: “I think there are two types of writers, the architects and the gardeners. The architects plan everything ahead of time, like an architect building a house. They know how many rooms are going to be in the house, what kind of roof they’re going to have, where the wires are going to run, what kind of plumbing there’s going to be. They have the whole thing designed and blueprinted out before they even nail the first board up. The gardeners dig a hole, drop in a seed and water it. They kind of...

Read and Write to Co...

Have you ever turned to a page of a book and read something that seemed to speak directly to you? Sometimes we come across the words of another that articulate our own thoughts, feelings, passions and struggles.  To see another person ― either an author or a fictional character ― going...

Now’s the Time to Pursue Your Writing Goals

In the writing world, there’s little room for fear. The moment you decide you want to be a writer, the time has come to put all self-doubt aside and simply go for it. It takes confidence, persistence and action to reach any writing goal — from finishing a draft of a manuscript to promoting your published work. “I don’t think you have time to waste not writing because you are afraid you won’t be good at it.”  ― Anne Lamott Most writers — no matter how talented — go through phases of writing work they’re not happy with, getting rejections, and struggling to find people who are interested in their work. It’s...

Get into the Zone an...

Sometimes the hardest thing about writing is the act of sitting down and getting the work done. Many writers have rituals that they use to get in the right frame of mind to produce material. Mine – which I admit is odd – is to eat a giant bowl of cereal, then put the bowl down next to my...

How to End a Writing...

When in the middle of a writing session, how do you know when it’s time to stop working? When is time to keep writing, and when is it time to walk away? What’s the key to staying productive and energized? Today, we look for the answer in the words of Ernest Hemingway: “I always...

The “Stress-Free” Art of Writing

The creative moment is something that has fascinated me my whole life. As a child I’d watch my father, a gifted amateur painter, set a blank canvas on his easel, squeeze some paint onto his palette, fill his turpentine cup (ah, that heady, pungent aroma!), and set to work. Gradually he’d transform that blank expanse into a picture of a crashing seashore or a country lane or a collection of objects — bottle, candle, peach — that looked more lively and interesting than real life. How did this happen?, I wondered. How does that peach on that flat surface look more exciting than any real peach could? Later I learned something...