Archive | October 16, 2014

Top Ten Writing Mistakes Editors See Every Day

Stephen Carver

Goya -The sleep of reason produces monsters (c1799) recut

In addition to writing and teaching, one of the things I do for a living is to evaluate manuscripts for their suitability for publication. I read fiction (and non-fiction) across several genres, and write comprehensive reports on the books. I try always to guide the author towards knocking his or her project into a shape that could be credibly presented to literary agents, publishers and general readers. You know how Newman and Mittelmark introduce How Not to Write a Novel by saying, ‘We are merely telling you the things that editors are too busy rejecting your novel to tell you themselves, pointing out the mistakes they recognize instantly because they see them again and again in novels they do not buy,’ well they’re right; I am one of those editors.

However good the idea behind a novel, when the author is still learning the craft of writing – like any…

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Courting The Muse and Work A Day Life

In the midst of working and travelling along today’s map of client case load I was contemplating what today’s blog segment should be – then in a moment of “aha” as Oprah says it came to me!  Why not discuss the challenge of following your bliss, blazing your own trail and balancing the modern “daily grind” and responsibilities of life?  It seemed the perfect topic since we all can relate to it and I was attempting just that as I brain stormed ideas.

Life seems to be the one thing that gets in our way when we attempt to change gears – at least for me it is! Often in my experiences and along my journey, I will sit down with the best intentions and a) household issues occur, b) work calls, c) crisis occur and d) I truthfully I get side tracked sometimes.

I know it’s hard not to beat ourselves up over incompletion and missteps but we have to embrace these and learn that it is usually a message from the Universe to tell us it isn’t right moment, yet. How many times have you been struck by inspiration at unusual moments? I believe it works both ways with the  Universal Messages we receive.

I know from personal experience that I have to edge personal writing time out in my daily time and allow for days of either practicing writing skills and/or writing and working on projects and most of the time I am tugged at when it is time and I often have to squeeze it a schedule full of clients and travel.

So your next question is probably when do I do it? Well, the crazy yet simple answer is this – I have found myself doing it while riding on a bus, while waiting for a bus, in between clients, during respite clients, during a hot bath and late at night when I can’t sleep. Often I have to stop and start either because I am blocked or something pulls me away from the process. At times it frustrating but I have found the best way to combat the frustration is to give it a name that you will associate something positive and productive.  I often use break time, pet therapy time (as I have a black lab) and battery recharging. I sometimes call it the start stop save game 🙂  Try it and see if it helps! Sometimes it flows freely and other times it is bits and pieces  that are left to piece together.

What I have learned about those bits and pieces that don’t seem to make sense at time  is that they can be used in other stories and can also serve as writing prompts when writers block occurs. My advice is always keep those bits and pieces even if there is a few words!  Remember it is those mighty words that create masterpieces!

Here are some tips and suggestions to help fight writer’s block and stretch your creative muscles (and yes I have used them as well).

1. Go for a walk and take a camera or use your camera on cell phone , take photos of things that catch your eye. Don’t think just snap away, among those photos is inspiring prompts.

2. Change your scenery, with the use of today’s technology and the use of the good old pen and paper one is able to create mobile offices.

3. If you have the spare time, take a trip around town on bus or walk around and “people watch” (create characters from their traits and what you are – it works)

4. Allow yourself to have “research” days if you find the words are not flowing together, sometimes I will read e-zines and digital magazines on writing to help keep mind in creative zone.

5. Take a break and do something fun by creating your own future “writing prompts”.  Experiment and have fun with the process..

6.   Switch genres, if you find that you are blocked on your usual type of writing try a none. This will keep your creative muscles working at the same time you are honing new skills .

7. Always talk to the Muse and show gratitude for the assistance she gives. Learn about the Muse – try pretending you are her.

8. Play out the scenario or story, use your imagination to become your character.  Bring back “male belief” play and have fun with your inner child.

9. Make brainstorming fun, utilize your old magazines and newspapers and create vision boards and story idea board.  They can be pea meant or you can attach veto to board and pictures for removable and reusable pieces.

10. Let loose, have fun and remember more is learned from the journey than the destination itself.  Another great thing I found that works have multiple rooms where you  have pad of paper and pen available – inspiration strikes when you least expect it!