Writing and Productivity: What Can We Realistically Expect of Ourselves?

Our writing practice is rarely perfect, and for so many of us, it isn’t our number one priority (though it may be close!).

Other responsibilities like work, study, care giving, or even health may consume the bulk of your time, but in many ways, this is totally natural and to be expected.

Many professional writers only write for one to four hours a day, whether that’s a result of their schedules or their energy levels.

For the rest of us, we squeeze writing into the fringes of our life. Maybe twenty minutes before or after work or an hour or two over the weekend.

Most of us are doing way more than we should be doing. In fact, I shared the below image on my Instagram, Facebook, and newsletter a few weeks ago and the response was really interesting.

The point of this exercise was to show the mismatched between what I actually get done in a day compared to what social media and hustle culture tell me is reasonable. (Obviously, I exaggerated the left-hand side as a way to make this post funny, but also show how ridiculous these expectations are).

The comments I received back on this post were pretty illuminating. Everyone knew that the left-hand side was a joke, but many actually thought the right-hand side was also overloaded.

  • Some of the comments were things like:
  • Woah! That is intense!
  • So intimidating.
  • I would take half a day to write that.
  • Just one day? I’m in awe.
  • You are a maniac.
  • Puts my day to shame.

    Now, I’m not including those here as a way to big note myself, I’m sharing them because these responses legitimately surprised me. I don’t have a typical 9-5, Monday to Friday job. I have multiple streams of income from working as a sessional academic, coaching, hospitality, editing, and freelance writing.

I’m largely in charge of my schedule, and what I wrote on the right is what I literally did one random Tuesday. And to be honest, I was embarrassed to share this post because I didn’t think it was enough! I was afraid that it would make me look scattered, unprofessional, and unstructured.

On this particular day, I remember feeling frustrated that I hadn’t gotten more done. While I did do four writing session on my novel, I was also aware that I didn’t make any progress on my thesis, I didn’t edit the short story I’ve been working on or the three journal articles that I have in the pipeline.

I also worried that the mini-breaks throughout the day like taking an hour for lunch, meeting my mentor for coffee, and watching an episode of TV would make me look lazy and indulgent.

I shared this activity as a way to show other people how ridiculous hustle culture is and how real life is so much more colourful and responsive; instead, it showed me how much damn pressure I put on myself. Maybe you can relate.

By placing these two lists side-by-side, I wanted to visually depict how our mental to-do list measures up to what is possible in a given day.

The left-hand side doesn’t take into account interruptions or the daily chores we do to keep life ticking along, things like bills and laundry, and seldom does it refer to other people, whereas in real life, we’re usually dealing with other people all day.

Of course, this too can be a daily point of frustration.

Hustle culture and our obsession with productivity can mean that we deeply resent these interruptions because they are ‘stealing time’ away from writing. But something that we need to remind ourselves of is that the story isn’t going anywhere.

We can tend to these interruptions, responsibilities, or the administration of life and then return to our writing, or better yet, we write first and then tend to these tasks second.

Anyway, I just wanted to share these quick insights with you and invite you to have a crack at this activity yourself, either in the comments or using paper and pen as I did. If you do the latter, feel free to tag me on social media (@authortaraeast) or send me a copy via email (authortaraeast@gmail.com), I’d love to see what your two lists look like.


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Need help finishing that short story, novel, memoir? No problem. The Follow-Through Formula is a free video training which unpacks the five strategies you can use to go from idea to completed project.

To access, please join my email newsletter and you’ll receive a thank you email containing the link to the free video training.

You’ll also receive my weekly newsletter which is sent out every Thursday morning. This is where I share links to my latest blog and YouTube video as well as other inspiring goodies that I only share via email.

Creative Solutions for Handling the Inner critic

The inner critic needs little introduction. Regardless of where you are in the creative journey, you’re likely very familiar with this inner gremlin.

If you’re new to writing, then the inner critic will be your biggest enemy.

This may come as a surprise.

You may think that your lack of experience, knowledge, or ability may be your biggest hindrances, but these three aspects are within your control.

You can choose to gain experience by writing; you can improve your knowledge by reading fiction books, ‘how to write’ book, and attending courses, and you can improve your overall ability by combining these two steps together, applying what you’ve learnt to your writing practise.

Newbie writers must learn how to overwrite their inner critic and to ignore their harping. It will tell you that you’re no good, that writing is a waste of time, and that do body cares what you have to say. Some of this may be true.

Your writing may be bad, but writing is never a waste, and you have no idea what impact your writing will have on others.

If a newbie writer isn’t careful, their hunger and discipline can become dampened by their inner critic. It can stop you before you even begin, but it is possible to develop creative strategies for handling the critic so that you can continue doing what you do best: writing.

But don’t go thinking that established writers are free from the critic’s grip. Oh no, if anything, the voice gets louder and sneakier. Sometimes, it can be hard to separate the critic from the critical self. (NB: I can appreciate that these terms are similar, but stick with me!)

During the drafting of a manuscript neither the critic nor the critical self are invited to the party, but once you begin the revision process, the critical self is vital.

What’s the difference between these two voices?

Essentially, it’s how they talk.

Photo by Markus Winkler on Pexels.com

The inner critic is mean. The critic will say, this story is no good, you are a terrible writer, what a dumb idea, they did it better, maybe you should check your email instead of write, or you can’t pull this off.

The inner critic pinpoints a fault and makes it personal while offering no solution.

The critical self, confusingly, may say similar things, but it’s usually followed by a suggestion or some kind of encouragement.

For example, this story isn’t working (but you can fix it). This paragraph is awkward (rewrite it). What a dumb idea (make the plot more complex). Theydid it better (there’s a market for this). Maybe you should check your email (do not check your email!). You can’t pull this off (yet. Do some more research. Practise, practise, practise).

The critical self identifies when something isn’t work in the novel, but it doesn’t fling its hands into the air, admit defeat, and close up shop. Instead, it rolls up its sleeves and gets to work.

The critical self is our friend, especially during revision.

The inner critic is not our friend and every writer or creative must find a different way to handle it.

Everyone’s critic tends to offer up the same generic opinion — you suck and everything you write sucks — but our unique critic may fall into one of the following camps as well.

The Over Achiever:

You need to write and publish more content. You cannot rest! You must do more, more!

The Perfectionist:

Every piece of writing could do with one more edit.  Nothing is ever good enough or ‘ready’ for publication.

The Comparer:

Everyone is fantastic, productive, successful, inspired, motivated, and clever all the time. You, however, are none of these things ever.

The Procrastinator:

Publishing = being judged. So, you better think really hard about what you’re going to do. Make a plan and an outline. Think about it. Make a new plan and outline. Repeat.

The Victim:

Writing is pointless. No one want to read my stuff. I am so out of my league.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Perhaps reading these descriptions have helped you better identify your inner critic?

These categories can be used as a spring board for personifying your inner critic. Maybe you can give them a name, describe what they look like, and where they live.

The uber-creative author known as SARK, takes this one step further. Whenever her critic appears, she acknowledges them, listens to what they have to say, and then she imagines them being arrested and taken away, or she invents a job for them.

For example, you could ‘send’ your inner critic away to be an egg packer in France or to escort wild life crossing the road in South Dakota. Think about what type of job would suit an Over Achiever (CEO) and what type of job would suit a procrastinator (nap champion).

For type A personalities, this may seem a little silly, but you might be surprised by how effective this little mind game can be.  

When it comes to dealing with the inner critic, it can be helpful to have a wide range of solutions at your disposal for what works one day may not work the next.

Another activity you can do is sit with your inner critic and have a dialogue with them.

What are they worried about? What is the worst that could happen? Is this situation survivable? What might you do if such an event occurred? Would you really allow your life to unravel to this extend? Is it possible that you could prevent this, if so, how?

If the inner critic appears while you are working, and if you find that their opinions are interrupting your work flow, you may find that simply writing out this criticism on a piece of paper is enough to dispel its power.

When my critic starts piping up with comments like ‘this is boring’, I write down the comment, acknowledge that my writing may indeed be boring, but then continue on anyway.

For some people, a firm ‘no’ said a loud whenever the critic starts piping up may be enough to silence them.

For those who are a little more type A, you may find that questioning your critic’s opinion is the most effect method. When met with a criticism like, this book isn’t very interesting or you’re writing is bland, ask yourself, ‘Is that true? Can I be certain that is true?’ Naturally, the answer will always be ‘no’, because nothing (besides natural laws like gravity, death, and taxes) are certain.

We cannot be rid of our inner critic, and we wouldn’t want to. Their job is to keep us safe and sometimes it is important to be afraid. Fear stops us from crossing the road without looking or publishing an unedited first draft.

Fear is good, but not when it stops us from creating.

Our critics aren’t going anywhere, but with awareness, mindfulness, and playfulness we can learn to live and creative with them. Once you discover your unique formula, it’s possible to turn a critic into a creative ally.   


Access The Follow-Through Formula training video

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Need help finishing that short story, novel, memoir? No problem. The Follow-Through Formula is a free video training which unpacks the five strategies you can use to go from idea to completed project.

To access, please join my email newsletter and you’ll receive a thank you email containing the link to the free video training.

You’ll also receive my weekly newsletter which is sent out every Thursday morning. This is where I share links to my latest blog and YouTube video as well as other inspiring goodies that I only share via email.

The Myth of the Ideal Writing Day

Imagining your ideal writing day. You can probably do this in a snap because you’ve imagined it so often, wished for it wistfully, and occasionally, even lived it.

We long to write under the perfect conditions because we so rarely experience them.

Days that are appointment free, when the house is empty, the dog is walked (or uncharacteristically uninterested in going for one!), and there’s a stack of left overs in the fridge.

Maybe a fire is going. Your favourite scented candle is let. The sun is falling through the window perfectly.

You have eight empty hours in front of you.

A day dedicated only to writing.

And that’s when the fun begins, because when there’s no distraction between you and the work there is only you and the work present.

As the Buddhist writer Jon Kabat-Zinn said, ‘wherever you go, there you are’.

Soon, you’re up from your desk doing laundry, shaking out dog beds, organising receipts, vacuuming the car, and weeding the front garden. Lunch time rolls around and then you start beating yourself up for allowing this to happen. For wasting such a perfect day.

Ideal writing days often become our worst writing days, because when we fail to perform, we have no one to blame but ourselves: no one was around to interrupt us, we didn’t have any errands to run, or appointments to make — hell, we didn’t even have to cook a meal!

Ideal writing days make for a beautiful fantasy and a pressure cooker reality.

We believe that because the conditions are perfect, the words should melt from our fingers like rare honey. The boundaries between us and the work should blur as we enter a state of deep focus where we forget that we — the author — even exist, and writing becomes a form of passive dictation rather than active creation.

That, dear friend, is a lot of pressure to put on a single day.

On an ordinary day, we have the luxury of blaming our family, friends, colleagues, maintenance workers, or the Administration of Life for interrupting our writing. Unfortunately, if we ‘waste’ an ideal writing day, we have no one to blame but ourselves.

As I write about often on this blog, we only have so many good hours in a day and it takes a lot of energy to write. For this reason, some of my most productive writing days have been days when I wrote in-between teaching classes or coaching clients, picking up an extra waitressing shift, or popping in and out of the house as I completed errands.

Why?

Because I didn’t have the luxury of mucking around. I had to make use of the time available to me. My writing windows were clear and defined: fifteen minutes here, an hour there.

There was no space to settle down into the work by making my environment pleasing with a scented candle, mug of tea, and roaring fire place. All those things are fantastic and lovely to do, but they are decoration; they are enhancements.

You don’t need any of them to write.

Believing we can only be productive when life gifts us our ideal conditions can be dangerous.

Sometimes, you really can’t write because you feel under the weather, you’re distracted by a personal or work related event, or your day is too full of other commitments.

But sometimes, we use imperfect conditions as excuses not to do the work. We can’t write because…

  • The kids are home.
  • Your partner is home.
  • You’re tired.
  • It’s the weekend.
  • It’s rainy.
  • It’s sunny.
  • You don’t have enough time.
  • The dog needs a walk.
  • There’s a hundred emails in your inbox.
  • You’re out of milk.
  • The wrong party won the last election.

And so on.

The truth is ideal writing days can be hard and non-ideal writing days can be hard.

Both can also be great. It just depends on you, the day, what stage the work is at, how the axis of the earth is aligning that day…

Whatever the conditions are, we need to identify what we most need from ourselves in that moment: kindness or firmness, maybe both?

Writing is a strange practise. In so many ways we live a life out of sync with those around us. Our daily efforts are without pay. There’s no sick leave or annual holidays. There’s little different been weekdays and weekends.

A cross word with a loved one or a mean comment online can derail a whole day while a vivid dream or a realisation while walking can fuel us for a week.

Writing, regardless of the conditions, whether we’re feeling inspired or not, is work. Some days the work feel easier, some days it is harder, the only thing that matters though is that we continue to show up for ourselves and the story we’ve committed to.

I know of no other way to live the writer’s life.

Now, I’d love to hear from you? Do you feel as though you can’t write outside of your ideal conditions? Do you frequently use excuses to get out of adding words to the page? Or do you actively work against this form of resistance? Leave a comment below and tell me all about it.


Access The Follow-Through Formula training video

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Need help finishing that short story, novel, memoir? No problem. The Follow-Through Formula is a free video training which unpacks the five strategies you can use to go from idea to completed project.

To access, please join my email newsletter and you’ll receive a thank you email containing the link to the free video training.

You’ll also receive my weekly newsletter which is sent out every Thursday morning. This is where I share links to my latest blog and YouTube video as well as other inspiring goodies that I only share via email.

Creative Comparison

One of the most painful periods of being a writer is starting.

When first developing your craft, there is so much you don’t know in terms of terminology and technique, but also your own process.

There’s a unique pain in recognising how much there is to learn and that you are only just beginning even though you long to be in the middle of things.

Beginning a writing practise can be hard especially when our early attempts look nothing like the novels that inspired us to write in the first place.

And this may be a new writer’s first mistake: comparison.

Unfortunately, comparison is not limited to new writers. We all suffer from it no matter the level of our career or stage of writing.

Comparison can be good or bad, depending on your perspective.

We understand, intellectually, that first drafts are supposed to be bad, and yet we still feel disappointed when that first attempt at a story doesn’t resemble the edited, bound, and available for purchase books on the shelves.

Unfortunately, you can’t go to a bookstore and say, ‘I would like to see draft two of A Song of Fire and Ice and draft three of The Overstory.’ We don’t get to see the rejects, only the best version of that story.

Comparing our work or where we are in our author journeys is a losing game and one that will deplete your energy and motivation.

Hearing, at 35, that Stephen King published 25 books by age 28 (slight exaggeration) is unlikely to fuel your creative fire. Instead, you’ll probably decide that it’s too late, you’re behind the eight ball, and who would even want to read a novel written by an old fart like you?

In one way, literature is seen as inaccessible, stuffy and pretentious, and in another way, claiming your desire to be a writer can come across as foolish, childlike, irresponsible, unrealistic, and avoidant.

Comparison feeds these underlining narratives. We say, I am not a real writer because…

  • I don’t have a publishing deal.
  • I don’t have Stephen King on speed dial.
  • I don’t pay my mortgage with book money.

Comparison is often worse whenever we’re not creating as our lack of personal productivity and progress becomes evidence against us.

‘She’s publishing another book? Didn’t she just release one last month? How is that possible? Meanwhile, I haven’t touched my manuscript in six months.’

Ebooks aren’t better or worse than physical books; it’s just a matter of preference. Both have strengths and weaknesses, just like everything else!

Creative comparison can be doubly destructive when we strongly admire someone else’s work or when someone publishes something similar to what we are working on.

In both these instances, it can be all too easy to give in. Thoughts like, ‘they are so much better than me,’ or ‘they’re doing the same thing as me, only better’ or ‘I can’t write a book about a school for wizards or teenage monster hunters because that’s already been done!’

Yeah … cos no one ever wrote about those subjects before…

To move forward, we need to accept ourselves for where we are at in our writing journey and how developed your skills are. Note: both these components are highly nuanced!

You may be great at plot, but all your characters sound the same, or maybe you come up with great premises/concepts, but you’re self-conscious about your vocabulary.

Sometimes, comparison can be a good thing.

It can show you what is possible in a story; it can highlight a weakness you were unaware of or serve as an inspiration by giving you something to strive towards.

One writer’s use of language or description or structure could inspire you to lift your own game, for example, Eleanor Catton’s work has inspired me to be more specific in my character description and to spend a little more time on this detail.

While it’s easy to fall into the trap of comparison, measuring our beginnings against other people’s middles or endings, it is important to remember that writing is an activity with no expiry date. You can only grow with time and practise, as you read more books or write more stories.

There’s no rush. No need to compare.

It’s okay to go slowly and to stick to your own lane.

Now I’d love to hear from you. Do you compare your work to others? Do you complain about how you’re not further along yet? Does comparison look different for you to how I discussed it here? Leave your comments below!


Access The Follow-Through Formula training video

Follow-through_ How to complete a long-term writing project (1)

Need help finishing that short story, novel, memoir? No problem. The Follow-Through Formula is a free video training which unpacks the five strategies you can use to go from idea to completed project.

To access, please join my email newsletter and you’ll receive a thank you email containing the link to the free video training.

You’ll also receive my weekly newsletter which is sent out every Thursday morning. This is where I share links to my latest blog and YouTube video as well as other inspiring goodies that I only share via email.

Burnout: The Dark side of the Writing life

I’ve never experienced burnout, but I’ve been near to those who have.

Burnout is the emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion that follows a prolonged state of excessive stress.

We don’t talk about burnout as it relates to creatives specifically, but this type of intense fatigue is of course just as real for artists as it is for anyone else.

As Joy Carol Oates says, ‘You need so much energy and encouragement to write.’

The act of creating can be exhausting. It does take a lot of energy to write because you’re creating something out of nothing. Gone are the days when the only thing a writer had to worry about was their stories—did those days ever really exist anyway?

If you’re developing a creative career, then your energy is probably dispersed all over the place: a blog, newsletter, courses, private coaching, speaking engagements, media appearances, platform maintenance, amazon ads, research about amazon ads, etc.

If writing is your side hustle, then your plate is even fuller as you balance all the above tasks with full-time work and/or study.

Listed like this, it is easy to see how creatives can become burnout.

And yet, few creatives talk about this. We talk about being busy (because being busy is glorified), but perhaps the bigger reason why people don’t discuss this is because creative exhaustion seem unjustifiable.

We’re not solving major world problems or saving lives (at least not directly, and yet many people have made the serious and hyperbole statement, ‘This book saved my life’).

We haven’t earned the right to claim ‘burnout’ because writing stories isn’t very serious.

And here we arrive back at that old sad story of artist’s guilt.

Burnout happens for creatives, in part, because we are still fighting to be taken seriously.

What people think creatives are doing when they’re making art.

Sometimes, I struggle to relax because I take my art seriously and I want to be taken seriously. For that to happen, others have to see me working hard. Taking weekends off, socialising, or reading on the coach aren’t the types of activities that hard-working people do—or at least that’s the toxic narrative going around in my brain.

There are so many issues packaged in this mentality. Writing takes energy and we only have so many good hours in a day, once we go beyond this threshold, we really aren’t producing good work anymore and what’s more troubling is that we’re actually going into a deficit.

Studies and anecdotal evidence show that when we go hard one day, our productivity will be significantly less the next day.

In the pursuit of convincing others to take our art seriously we work ourselves to the bone; unfortunately, this only harms our art. It’s difficult to produce good work when the tank is empty. 

What is even more problematic is that engaging in this loop strengthens the link between productivity and self-worth on a personal level while keeping the grand narratives of hustle culture alive. 

Part of the reason we work so hard is that we feel that creating art is selfish and indulgent, but if we can find a way to make writing a punitive activity, then others will be forced to take it seriously.

Writing, like all creative pursuits, is a privilege.

It is an activity that is reserved for people who are able (or willing) to take the financial risk to pursue a dream. In some cases, they may have another source of income, such as a full-time job or spouse that keeps things afloat, but in other cases, it’s a matter of reducing costs, applying for grants, and taking on contract work.

Writers need energy, support, and resources to write.

You need time and space to write. You need to disconnect from the reality and responsibilities of your life in order to venture into another. These conditions could be difficult to create if you are a single parent working two jobs.

There’s more than one way to relax. For some, it may be active forms such as exercise or socialising, for others it could be time alone when their mind is allowed to wander.

The crux of artistic guilt: the world doesn’t need art in the same way that it needs food or shelter.

And yet, art is a record. What remains of ancient civilisations is stories and artefacts, the remnants of culture.

Art enriches our lives.

Imagine that all forms of art were removed from the world. No more music, film, theatre, paintings, weird exhibitions, or pottery.

Imagine a life without books?

Miserable, isn’t it?

And yet, continual cuts to art funding communicates a different message: art isn’t valuable.

A message that is underscored—to a degree—by new technologies that have trained consumers to expect products, services, and yes, art to be free.

And all of this plays into creative burnout.

The world doesn’t take art seriously, but we do and we want to be taken seriously which means doubling down on work, playing into hustle culture, and producing all the content we can.

We push ourselves to do and create more because there is always something else we could be doing (write another chapter, blog, join another platform, respond to a DM, design an email campaign, create a new opt-in offer etc).

To write, we need to leave our reality behind and step into another.

Self-publishing is a wonderful option for so many writers, but it’s also a lot of work and there is so much you can do that writers feel the pressure to do more, and more.

Writing for 2-3 hours a day isn’t enough, despite scientific evidence that this is the extent of our bandwidth. (To put things into perspective, the greatest minds in the world who are employed by MIT and NASA typically do five hours of intense work a day).

It is easy to fall into the trap of working six, eight, ten, or twelve plus hours a day, even if most of that work is hollow or meaningless (see: busywork). And yet, science shows most people are only productive for 1-4 hours a day.

Writers and creatives pull these long hours and engage in busywork as a way to justify our desire to create and so we too can be rewarded for our productivity, which is pretty much the easiest way to find instant validation and gratification.

While outsiders may think art-making is all glitter and Instagram flat lays, artists are just as prone to burnout as anyone else because we have so much to prove.

We burnout because we are trying to earn the space we’re taking up; we’re trying to prove that we are worthy and that this isn’t a hobby.

Burnout could happen for multiple reasons. Maybe you’re juggling full-time work and a family with your writing as a side gig. Maybe you’re a full-time writer who works for hire doing copywriting or editing as a way to fund your passion project or you’re a fiction writer balancing your imagined worlds against self-promotion and the constantly changing digital landscape.

The fundamental guilt that underlays the arts is based on the notion that our work isn’t practical, urgent or needed. That nothing would change whether we made it or not, that our time would be better spent doing the elusively worthy ‘something else.’

So when we do rest, we feel guilty.

We tell ourselves that writing isn’t coal mining, that we don’t ‘need’ to rest because we haven’t done anything that exhausting.

Also, we’re afraid to rest because we don’t want to affirm societal notions of ‘the lazy artist.’

And so we continue on, working and grinding away on our writing projects and platforms.

But we also need to rest.

It can be a little dysfunctional to say that rest is the best way to support your productivity, but if this is the only way to justify this need, well hey, it’s a starting point.

It’s all well and good to make luscious lists of restful activities, but it’s vital to think about what activities would fill up your creative well and make you feel restored.

Binge watching a Netflix season is unlikely to do that, but a long walk in the bush or ten minutes of a breathing exercise might.

One way to think about rest is to imagine an archer. To go forward, the arrow has is pulled way back before being released. That’s how rapid, sure fire action happens.

Because everyone need rest.

Even lazy, privileged writers.

Now I’d love to hear from you, what do you want your relationship with writing to look like?

How do you want to engage with writing? What goals (in your control) do you have?


Access The Follow-Through Formula training video

Follow-through_ How to complete a long-term writing project (1)

Need help finishing that short story, novel, memoir? No problem. The Follow-Through Formula is a free video training which unpacks the five strategies you can use to go from idea to completed project.

To access, please join my email newsletter and you’ll receive a thank you email containing the link to the free video training.

You’ll also receive my weekly newsletter which is sent out every Thursday morning. This is where I share links to my latest blog and YouTube video as well as other inspiring goodies that I only share via email.

Writing Goals | striving for the bare minimum

Your long-term success as a writer (or creative) is dependent on your ability to be consistent.  

The easiest way to engage with your writing consistently is to create a ‘bare minimum’ goal, something you can aim for and realistically achieve every day (or at least most days).

It’s far easier to write for 10 or 15 minutes every morning than it is to write 2000-3000 words on a Saturday morning.

I fully acknowledge that aspiring writers with full-time day jobs may be tempted to leave their writing for the weekends when they have more time, but ‘tomorrow’ thinking can be a slippery slow. ‘I’ll do it tomorrow.’ ‘I’ll have more energy tomorrow.’ ‘I’m too busy today, I’ll do it tomorrow.’

Tomorrow thinking results in added pressure and it’s an easy way to set yourself up for failure.

Big goals can quickly become bait for your inner-critic as they supply ample opportunity for self-doubt and imposter-syndrome to sneak in. And big goals rarely allow for interruptions, nor do they take into consideration your energy levels.

Photo by Anthony Shkraba on Pexels.com

Are you really going to want to write 2000 words on a Saturday morning after a full week of work? Does that appeal to you? (And if it does, great! But some people might be more intimidated than inspired by that goal).

For many aspiring writers, it’s better to create a goal that is small but meaningful. Consider what word, time, or even ‘feeling’ goal you can set for yourself. What could you realistically achieve on your average day?

Can you write for 10 minutes?
Get down 50-100 words?
Feel a slither of peace or pride at having made time for your art?

It can also be useful to create a ‘bad day’ writing goal for times when life gets hectic. What is the smallest amount you could achieve on days when everything falls apart? For example, fifty words, two sentences, five minutes of writing etc.

Minimum goal aren’t about burning yourself out. In fact, it is just the opposite. The idea of a minimum daily goal is that you are making small, but consistent progress on a project. You’re protecting your creative energy because you are choosing to engage daily for a small amount of time, say thirty minutes, rather than shooting for a big goal such as four hours.

There will be days when you can’t meet either your minimum daily goal or your ‘bad day’ goal and that’s okay.

Sometimes life does get in the way; sometimes we just need to take a break.

A minimum goal is not writing for two hours before your 10-hour night shift. We want to build a writing practise that is sustainable, remember?

You may think that writing every Saturday is consistent, but the problem here is that a lot of time and energy gets wasted on familiarising yourself with your work before you even begin. When you do a little bit every day, however, the story remains fresh in your mind making it easier to re-enter the work.

Now, some people may say 10-15 minutes isn’t long enough, but many people have written books in 15 minute chunks. Check out there articles here and here.

Yes, ideally we would set aside 1-3 hours to write. We all want to work in a flow state, however, there is no evidence that this generates better work. Flow state isn’t about quality but ease. When we’re in a flat state we are focussed and connected to what we are doing (which is great!) but it’s doesn’t guarantee that we’re producing good work.

Further, many of us don’t have 1-3 hours of spare time every day. You can certainly make time by getting up earlier, writing at night, or quitting other activities like watching TV, but not everyone is willing to do that.

Don’t use a lack of time as a reason not to not write.

If larger blocks of time are unavailable to you, then you need to find a way to write in bit sized chunks.

Okay, I hear you. You sit down to write but then nothing happens. Instead, you scroll on your phone, check emails, or stare out the window (for those of you who are super disciplined).

If this is you, you may be dealing with issues of perfectionism, in which case, you need to give yourself permission to write a shitty first draft.

Photo by Bich Tran on Pexels.com

Of course, there comes a time when we need to hold ourselves and our art to a higher standard, but not while writing a first draft OR when we’re creating a writing habit.

Remember, no one is going to see what you write unless you show them. It may be deflating to discover that you’re first draft doesn’t resemble a published novel, but everyone’s first draft is bad!

Do not let perfectionism or comparison stop you from writing your story.

You can fix a bad draft, and there are slews of professionals out there who can help you editing your story.

Now, some writers thrive on being in-consistent. Not everyone is a daily or at least, regular writer, some writers are binge writers that go hard for a short sharp burst and then they don’t write again for a long period of time.

Maybe this is your method, but I strongly advise you to give daily (or regular) writing a go first before declaring yourself a ‘writer who only writes when inspiration strikes.’

There are some famous binge writers (e.g. Cheryl Strayed), but this is a much more difficult way to create, so don’t adopt this idea as your own narrative because you think it is romantic or see it as a way of opting out of the hard work of regularly connecting with your story.

Inspiration makes writing a lot easier, but habit is a lot more dependable.

When you show up consistently, those hundred word chunks and ten minute sprints start to add up.

Promise.


Access The Follow-Through Formula training video

Follow-through_ How to complete a long-term writing project (1)

Need help finishing that short story, novel, memoir? No problem. The Follow-Through Formula is a free video training which unpacks the five strategies you can use to go from idea to completed project.

To access, please join my email newsletter and you’ll receive a thank you email containing the link to the free video training.

You’ll also receive my weekly newsletter which is sent out every Thursday morning. This is where I share links to my latest blog and YouTube video as well as other inspiring goodies that I only share via email.

How to be a good beta reader

Enlisting your fellow writing and reading friends to beat-read your work is so helpful, but becoming a beta reader for someone else is also a rewarding experience and a way to give back to your writing community.

However, some writers may struggle to disassociate their writing-self from the process. For this reason, I thought it would help to outline five tips for beta reading.

#1 / Ask for clarification

This may seem obvious, but some writers don’t tell their beta readers what kind of feedback they are looking for.

If this is the case, it is well-worth clarifying the matter.

Ask the writer if they’d like to hear your overall impressions or if they want a detailed response where you list what is working and not working within every chapter and the novel as a whole.

Would they like you to mark-up any punctuation or grammar errors?

Comment on the structure?

Would they like you to underline any sentences that ‘pushed’ you out of the story, felt odd, or heavy-handed?

You need clarification from the writer because sharing an unpolished manuscript is a vulnerable act. Depending on the writer, they may not be ready to receive harsh or honest criticism about their work, instead, they may simply be looking for encouragement.

When you know what kind of feedback the writer is looking for, it is much easier to focus your attention while reading.

Beta read helps you identify weaknesses in your own writing.

# 2 / You are not the author

As a writer, this will be the trickiest one to master.   

Remember, you’re not revising this manuscript as though it were your own. Be sure that any suggestions you make are not based on what you personally would do, or what your personal taste is regarding voice, style, or structure.

Instead, you need to think like an editor.

What needs to be done to make this story better? Not, how would I write this story?

# 3 / Take lots of notes

While you’re reading, be sure to make note of any passages you find dull or confusing.

Regardless of what feedback the writer is looking for in particular, everybody would appreciate a-heads-up on any section of the novel that is unclear.

And of course, it’s good to take ample notes as these will inform the feedback you give the writer.

# 4 / Pay attention to the big picture and the details

Novels are big beautiful beasts.

But sometimes, it can be tricky to contain that entire story in your head. For this reason, it is great to get feedback from someone for whom the story is brand new (and completed).

When beta reading, pay attention to the big picture issues that structure the novel, things like the character arches, the shape of the narrative, POV, and voice. Details would be line-level suggestions regarding word choice, punctuation, description, and sentence structure.

Note: it can be very difficult to keep a handle on both the macro and the micro in a single sitting which is why you should read the book once while making note of any first impressions, and then re-read the manuscript to confirm if those initial thoughts are true, and be sure to highlight any specific relevant passages.  

Use the ‘sandwich’ method when providing feedback.

# 5 / Make a suggestion

While you are not the author of this book, it always feels a bit crappy when someone points out a fault without offering a solution.

Bear in mind that while it is often easy to identify when something isn’t working, it isn’t always that easy to articulate why or how to fix it.

When writing up your critique of the manuscript, or when meeting the writer in-person to discuss your thoughts, reassure the writer that any feedback you offer is only a suggestion and that of course, it is up to them whether or not they wish to take on that advice.

The writer of course knows this, but they will appreciate knowing that YOU know this and that you won’t be personally offended if they don’t follow through with, or accept, all of the changes suggested.

Phrasing your suggestions need not be difficult. If something in the manuscript strikes you as clunky, problematic, or awkward, you may write a comment like, ‘This dialogue reads a tad stiff. Perhaps they can say…’ or ‘This word may trigger some readers. Might I suggest…’ or ‘The description here is overly long, consider reducing?’

Being critical of a work doesn’t mean being a jerk, nor does it mean that you need to tip-toe around the author’s feelings by burying your meaning in flowery language. Aim to be short and to the point, but polite.

As a beta reader, you are looking for all the ways the book isn’t working, but that doesn’t mean that all your feedback needs to be negative. If you read a poetic passage, or an exchange of dialogue that made you smile—let the author know! (This is particularly good if the author is considering removing this section later). Draw a smiley face, heart or double tick if editing on paper, or make a positive comment using track changes, something like, ‘nailed it’ or ‘good job!’ will make the writer’s day.

On that note, whether you write up your feedback or meet-up with the writer over coffee, be sure to use the sandwich method: start with something positive (I love the protagonist, they are so gutsy), followed by a critique (the timeline doesn’t seem to line up), and then end on another positive (the descriptions of the setting are impeccable, I felt like I was there).

Beta reading can be an incredibly fun and wonderful way to engage with your writing friends in a new way. Plus, it’s humbling whenever another artist invites you to be a part of their creative process, even if only in a small way.

What higher honour is there than to help another writer get that little bit closer to publishing their book project?

Plus, and here’s a nifty secret, when you beta reader other people’s books, it draws your attention to problems in your own work. Beta reading is just one more way for you to improve your own craft and knowledge of writing.

Now I’d love to hear from you. What tips do you have for beta readers? What kind of advice do you expect from beta readers or, have you beta read for someone else? What did you learn from the process? Leave a comment below and tell me all about it.


Access The Follow-Through Formula training video

Follow-through_ How to complete a long-term writing project (1)

Need help finishing that short story, novel, memoir? No problem. The Follow-Through Formula is a free video training which unpacks the five strategies you can use to go from idea to completed project.

To access, please join my email newsletter and you’ll receive a thank you email containing the link to the free video training.

You’ll also receive my weekly newsletter which is sent out every Thursday morning. This is where I share links to my latest blog and YouTube video as well as other inspiring goodies that I only share via email.

Align Your Writing Goals With Your Routine

A few weeks ago, a viewer left a comment on one of my YouTube videos saying that they only enjoyed writing for an hour a day, after that, their joy disappears. They worried that it wasn’t long enough and that they ought to be doing more. They worried over whether this feeling was normal, and if so, should they push through this threshold and grind out the story.

I replied to their comment, but felt there was more that I wanted to say…

Writing rules and advice are yardsticks that our inner-critic loves to beat us up with whenever we fail to ‘measure up’.

A common myth about writers is that they spend all day bent over their keyboards wrestling with their untamed manuscript. In this vision, the writer is wearing over-sized glasses, their hair is pleasing dishevelled, their sweater is artfully torn, and there is a half-drunk mug of coffee (or whisky) beside them … and they’ve been at it all day–or all night–working away on their masterpiece.

They are alone. The room is quiet. Maybe a dog sleeping in the corner.

What is missing from this scene is a partner knocking on the door, kids running down the hall, the TV blaring in the other room, a pile of laundry waiting at their feet, an overgrown lawn that needs mowing, a car that has to be dropped off to the mechanic …

Years ago, I read Dani Shapiro’s memoir, Still Writing, and in it, she shared her ideal writing day.

It was pretty simple.

To paraphrase, Dani would wake-up, have breakfast with the family, prepare lunch for her son (then school-aged), put on a slow cook meal (e.g. crockpot), take the dog for a walk, then write/edit/admin from 9am-4pm. She broke up her workday with some meditation and yoga, and then it ended with dinner and a glass of wine.

How often did this full-time, award-winning, and beloved author experience her ideal writing day?

About once a week.  

More often than not, her writing days were interrupted by domestic chores, errands, travel, appointments… you know, life.

As Joanna Penn says, ‘What you can’t pay for with money, you pay for with time.’ If you don’t have the funds to hire a cleaner, a personal assistant, nanny, or dog walker, then you’re going to have to do these tasks yourself just like the rest of us.

It is a false belief that a full-time writer writes for eight hours a day.

Look, people don’t talk about this, but is really exhausting.

We all know that writing isn’t coal mining, but it also isn’t sitting on a chaise lounge in the warm sunlight with a glass of iced tea as the words drip out like rare honey.

Rollo welcomes you to their writing space.

Writing is work.

It’s tremendously fun, challenging, satisfying, and frustrating work, but it is also exhausting work.

Why?

Because writing is relentless decision making, especially during the drafting phase. Not only are you making decisions about what will happen next, you are building human beings (how they speak, their backstory, their behaviours) and alternative worlds (even if you are writing realist fiction).

Building a human or a world is a big deal. That shit is complicated.  

The reason why morning routines and checklists are so popular is that they reduce the amount of decision you have to make.

Making decisions for eight hours straight is a big ask.

This is why you’ll find that many writers only write for 2-3 hours a day (Stephen King, Steven Pressfield, Joanna Penn). Some write a little longer (Margaret Atwood, JK Rowling, Ernst Hemmingway average six hours a day) and some write a little less (Gertrude Stein wrote for just thirty minutes a day).

What do they do for the rest of the day? Teach, read, critique, edit, and a whole lot of email (except for Gertrude and Ernest cos they’re dead, lucky bastards).

Some authors write their books in just fifteen minutes a day!

There is no right way to write.

You don’t need to write for six hours a day to be considered a ‘real writer’; tiny steps can lead to big goals.

However, I would add the small caveat that how much you write and how you approach writing should be aligned with ‘why’ you write. (NB: you may have multiple motivations for writing).

A ‘real writer’ always types while holding a cappuccino.

You may write because…

  • You want to be famous.
  • You want writing to be your full-time job.
  • You love books and are inspired to create one yourself.
  • You love language.
  • You love the mental stimulus and challenge of making a story work.
  • Creating stories is fun.
  • You want to move others the way that you have been moved through literature.
  • You’ve lived through a challenging time and want to share your experience to help others.

Plus, another million reasons.

If your motivation for writing is to generate a full-time income by self-publishing several novels a year using the ‘rapid release’ model, then an hour a day isn’t going to get you there.

If you write because it’s fun, relaxing, and a creative outlet, then writing for an hour a day is perfect.

I’ve spoken about this before, but it’s worth repeating, writing isn’t always fun. At least for me, but then, ‘fun’ isn’t one of my whys. (You can click here to read my whys). 

For me, most days writing feels fine. It feels natural and satisfying. I feel like I am putting my time to good use (a feeling I rarely have while running errands or doing paid work outside of the writing/publishing/academic spectrum).

There are moments when writing feels wildly joyous, and then there are days when I am white-knuckling through every word. I write even when it’s hard because:

1. I want to get better.
2. a bad day of writing is better than a good day doing anything else.
3. I made a promise to myself and the story.

But that’s just me.

Writing is a creative practise, and like all creative practises, you get to customise it.

Tune into why you want to write and then create a structure and routine that is in alignment with, and supportive of, that feeling or goal.

You can write for fifteen minutes every day or once a month (not gonna lie though, every day is easier!).

You get to decide what writing looks like for you, so decide wisely.

Now, I’d love to hear from you. Do you compare your writing routine to other more ‘established’ authors? Do you worry that you’re not a ‘real writer’ because of X, Y, Z? And if so, what do you do to silence your inner-critic and get back to work? Also, I would love to know what your ‘whys’ are, so leave a comment below!


Access The Follow-Through Formula training video

Follow-through_ How to complete a long-term writing project (1)

Need help finishing that short story, novel, memoir? No problem. The Follow-Through Formula is a free video training which unpacks the five strategies you can use to go from idea to completed project.

To access, please join my email newsletter and you’ll receive a thank you email containing the link to the free video training.

You’ll also receive my weekly newsletter which is sent out every Thursday morning. This is where I share links to my latest blog and YouTube video as well as other inspiring goodies that I only share via email.

Dangerous Writing

At the end of last year, I read Diane Cook’s speculative novel, The New Wilderness.

Don’t worry, this blog isn’t going to contain any spoilers, and I’m not ‘reviewing’ the book, instead I’m bouncing off a realisation I had while reading Cook’s work.

I was about one-third of the way through the novel when something happened that completely took me by surprise. The event made sense, but it was also dramatic … and dangerous.

As a reader I was thrilled and as a writer I was terrified.

The first thing I thought was, I would never have done that–not because it was a bad narrative choice, but because I would have been too scared that making that decision would derail the novel.

But here’s the thing, Cook didn’t derail her novel, she just upped the stakes.

She rode the car off a cliff Thelma and Louise style, only to have it safely land on the other side.

The story didn’t fall apart, it just got better.

And THIS made me realise how safe my own writing had become, how I had made certain decisions regarding the plot that were controllable and comfortable for me. I wasn’t taking any risks or challenging myself or the story. I wasn’t pushing the narrative to the edge to see what would happen if…

For the most part, I think it is sound advice to not drive your narrative off a cliff, but it is important that we up the stakes, include plenty of conflict, and give our characters hell.

Why? Because then we know what they are made of.

Plus, a story about a couple who are trying to frame one another for murder is much more interesting than one about a functional relationship based on respect, love, and mutual autonomy.

It is so easy to become attached to our characters. We want them to have a happy ending, but for the book to be interesting, we have to make them earn that ending.

We need our characters to encounter legitimately challenging obstacles, whether they be external, like getting stuck in time, or an internal, like battling mental illness or intense self-doubt.

It is through overcoming, or relenting to, these obstacles that the character grows.

But it’s not only the characters that should be growing, you, as the author, should be too.

Sometimes, we keep our stories small because we doubt our ability to ‘pull off’ a more ambitious version of our novel–remember, there are multiple ways to tell any story.

We need to look at our work critically and really reflect on whether or not we are developing as a writer.

You can ask yourself questions like:

  • Where in the plot am I taking it easy?
  • Am I posing a question in every scene, something that entices the reader to continue on?

Remember, our brains a hard-wired for problem solving, if you present an issue or a mystery, however big or small, the reader will want to find out how it gets resolved.

Analyse your character arcs:

  • Are they growing and changing over the course of the novel?
  • Are they encountering events that ignite this change?
  • Are you making these obstacles difficult enough?
  • What is at stake?

Also, double check your use of language and sentence structure.

As Roy Peter Clark says, ‘All of us possess a reading vocabulary as big as a lake but draw from a writing vocabulary as small as a pond.’

This is an issue many aspiring writers struggling with, fortunately, I have a few easy remedies.

In terms of sentence structure, try to use short sharp sentences during action scene or moments of high tension. Concentrating your sentences in this way will naturally cause the reader to speed up which simultaneously increases the sense of pace.

Conversely, you can use longer, more lyrical sentences for when you want to stretch a moment in time, like when you introduce the love interest or when a character is reflecting on a moment from their past.

There are four types of sentences: simple, compound, complex, and compound-complex. Don’t worry if you’ve never heard these terms before because Google has and she’s happy to help.

If you aren’t super confident with semi-colons, colons, or hyphens, check out some of the free videos at Khan Academy.

There is more than one way to write dangerously, and one of the best ways to assess if you are challenging yourself and your characters enough is to simply pay attention to how you feel while writing.

Feeling nervous, excited, uncertain, like you’re on the edge of your seat, or you want to cover your eyes–that’s what you’re aiming for!

A hint of dread may be appropriate.

A sense that everything just got a little bit … wobbly.

But how do you know when you’ve gone too far?

  • The plot hits a brick wall.
  • You avoid writing.
  • The story makes no logical sense.
  • You’ve broken an established ‘law’ in your world.
  • All your beta readers say, ‘yeah… that didn’t really work.’

Remember, dangerous writing is worth the risk and all stories can be fixed. It is better to be bold and then have to tweak an ambition telling than to write a safe and predictable narrative.

Here’s a handy hint: if you struggling to get words on the page, then there is a chance you’re not including much conflict.

Conflict is the heart of story, and when you have plenty of conflict, then it’s easy to write because you have something to write about.

When the river of your narrative runs low, crack open the dam wall, throw in some salmon, and pray for a storm because chaos = action.

Now I’d love to hear from you. Do you feel that you play it too safe with your writing? Are there areas of craft you know you need to develop or improve upon? Leave a comment below and tell me all about it.


Access The Follow-Through Formula training video

Follow-through_ How to complete a long-term writing project (1)

Need help finishing that short story, novel, memoir? No problem. The Follow-Through Formula is a free video training which unpacks the five strategies you can use to go from idea to completed project.

To access, please join my email newsletter and you’ll receive a thank you email containing the link to the free video training.

You’ll also receive my weekly newsletter which is sent out every Thursday morning. This is where I share links to my latest blog and YouTube video as well as other inspiring goodies that I only share via email.

Read More books and Improve Your Writing | Tips and Tricks

Last year, I set a reading goal to finish fifty books by the end of 2020. Luckily, I (slightly) surpassed that by reading fifty-one books before the New Year’s broke. 

I’ve only kept a running record of my ‘read list’ for the past two years, but I think it’s reasonably safe to say that it’s the most I’ve read in any given year.

I don’t really think about my reading habit as having a structure, but after listening to Gretchen Rubin’s announce her challenge for 2021 on her Happier with Gretchen Rubin Podcast, I decided to reassess.

The challenge: to read 21 in 2021.

To clarify, the challenge is to read for twenty-one minutes every day, not to read a total of twenty-one books within the year.

We’ve all heard about the benefits of reading: improved mental health, increased empathy, prevention of Alzheimers, better retention, a sharper mind, and an increase in our intolerance for uncertainty (sounds pretty good, right?).

One of the stats from the episode that caught my attention was…

Reading for 21 minutes a day for 365 days equals nearly 128 hours of reading.

The average reader can read 300 words a minute, and the average book is between 60,000-80,000 words, meaning that most books can be read in five and a half hours.

(Either I am a slow reader or I must read very big books because I rarely finish a book in five hours!)

If you were to read for 21 minutes a day, theoretically, you should chew through about 23 novels a year.

Personally, I think that’s a pretty good effort, especially considering that the average American reads twelve books a year, and fifty percent of the Australian population reads between one and ten books a year.

The other bonus of this basic maths is that you can adjust it to your reading goals. If you wanted to read fifty books in a year, for example, then you’ll need to read for roughly forty minutes a day.

My reading routine doesn’t have much structure. Sometimes I read first thing in the morning before taking my dog for a walk (this can be anywhere from five minutes to forty-five minutes) or in the evening before bed (ranging from fifteen minutes to two hours on a good night!), and I don’t read every day (unfortunately), but after listening to Gretchen’s Podcast, I’d love to change this habit in particular.

As she says, ‘What we do most days matters more than what we do once in a while.’

And, for the most part, I think doing a minimum of 21 minutes a day is totally do-able (plus I kind of love the idea of ‘measuring’ my reading time).

I wanted to share this concept with you because this is a writing blog, and if you’re a writer you should be a reader. And yet, despite the many voices out there announcing how vital reading is to writing, it’s so easy to not do it—especially when life gets busy.

With that in mind, I’d love to share a few quick tips and tricks that could support your reading routine.

  • Keep a list of all the books you’ve read throughout the year (this is the one habit I do! I also made this cute printable PDF for you: Books I’ve Read PDF | Books I’d like to Read PDF).
  • Only read books that you are excited to read. If you’re super into a book, you will make time to read it.
  • Do not finish a book you aren’t enjoying. There are too many good books out there to waste your time reading something you’re not into. Remember, the average reader can only finish 2000 books in their lifetime and there are 50 million English-language novels currently in publication (not including non-fiction, poetry, or ALL the indie books out there on the internet).
  • Put your phone in another room while you are reading. Studies show that just looking at your phone can make you stressed AND prompt you to distraction. (If this is a problem for you, check out these articles here and here).
  • Create a tiny book club with you and one other person. Simple, easy, intimate. Plus, it will create a sense of accountability.
  • Track your reading habit using stickers in your planner (if you follow me on Instagram, you know I use this method for writing and academic research because I am *actually* a child).
  • Habit stack by combining reading with another activity you always do. For example, you could combine reading with your morning coffee/tea or get into the habit of reading straight after brushing your teeth at night.
  • Listen to bookish podcasts (reviews, discussion, author interview) to learn about new books. Click here for recommendations!
  • Keep a TBR list or—and I love this—keep a PHYSICAL stack of books you want to read this month/season/year somewhere in your home.

Now, since this is a writing blog and reading is often toted as the ONE THING every writer should do to improve their craft, I thought it would be helpful to share a few ways you get MORE out of reading.

A quick disclaimer, even if you do none of the following things, your writing will improve simply by making reading a regular habit in your life.

If you constantly expose yourself to literature and storytelling, your subconscious is absorbing all the basics of craft: structure, characterisation, pace, use of language etc.

You will write better because you know what good writing looks and feels like.

However, if you want to learn more actively, here are some easy ways to make reading a habit that improves your writing.

  • Read first as a reader and then as a writer (i.e re-read) while…
  • Underlining poetic sentences or sentences that break grammar rules (or illustrate existing ones, like how to use a semi-colon, colon, or commas. This is super useful if you’re trying to improve your grammar and punctuation).
  • Pay attention to what the author does well, character, mood, dialogue, and analyse how they’ve structured this element.
  • Pay attention to what the author has not done well. Were you disappointed by the ending? Thought there was too much telling? Etc.
  • Write out unfamiliar words and their definition in a personalised dictionary.
  • Pay attention to the structure, did they foreshadow the ending, use a non-linear structure, or include flashbacks?
  • Keep all these notes—and whatever other customised ones you’d like to add—in a word document. This is basically a personalise writing bible that can support you whenever you need to look up ways to … write a metaphor without using ‘as’ or ‘like’ or how to bury the ‘I’ when using first-person.

As John Updike said, ‘Writing is only reading turned inside out.’

While I don’t have a “bad” reading habit, I, like many, would like to read more and get more out of my reading this year. For this reason, I plan on joining the 21 in 21 challenge. If this is something that interests you, click here to find out more. (It’s free).

Now, I’d love to hear from you. What does your reading routine look like? Do you have any ‘rules’ regarding reading or any special habits that support it? Leave a comment below and tell me all about it.


Access The Follow-Through Formula training video

Follow-through_ How to complete a long-term writing project (1)

Need help finishing that short story, novel, memoir? No problem. The Follow-Through Formula is a free video training which unpacks the five strategies you can use to go from idea to completed project.

To access, please join my email newsletter and you’ll receive a thank you email containing the link to the free video training.

You’ll also receive my weekly newsletter which is sent out every Thursday morning. This is where I share links to my latest blog and YouTube video as well as other inspiring goodies that I only share via email.