Reading

How To Read Every Day: Do’s And Don’ts

Do throw your phone into the ocean.

Or drop it onto the ground until you shatter the screen. When your phone looks like a spider web and you can’t even see what’s on it, you’ll be less inclined to spend hours on your device. Instead, you’ll pick up a book. I speak from experience. It’s too painful on my poor eyes. I’ve dropped my phone more times than I can count. Besides, the more cracks my screen has, the more words I read. Hence, this tip is successful and definitely won’t set you back about fifty dollars.

Don’t make friends.

If someone tries to befriend you, run in the other direction. Never ever look back. Besides, fictional characters make the best friends. You don’t need to know people in real life anyway. If reading about characters isn’t enough, consider creating your own.

Do buy more books than any other human beings.

Buy until your wallet cries. Even and especially when you have a pile of unread novels on your nightstand. Purchase all kinds of books, so when the mood strikes, you’ll have a good story ready to go. That way you have no excuse not to read every day.

Don’t have a normal sleep schedule.

Normal is over-rated. Who needs to sleep when you have books to read? You know that one more chapter means you’ll reach the last one, even though you just started this novel two days ago.

On a more serious note, read what you want, when you want, where you want, and how you want. Doing so will help make the reading experience more enjoyable.

Writing

How To Prepare For Camp NaNoWriMo

Failing to plan is planning to fail.

Clean your space.

In a perfect world, everything would be in its place. But we live in an imperfect world, so before April rolls around, try to tidy your desk.

Make necessary purchases.

It doesn’t hurt to make a shopping trip beforehand. Get what you need in advance, so that you aren’t making too many trips during the month ahead.

Build good habits.

And break bad ones. Stop procrastinating.

Find a routine.

Or adjust your current one accordingly. No one said it would be easy.

Prep some meals.

This is adulting at its finest. Or just basic survival.

Get ahead.

In whatever you can. If you’re a blogger, write blog posts now and schedule them for the future.

Prewrite.

It’s not easy going from writing 166 words a day to 1667 words. Trust me on this.

Schedule writing days.

If you know you’re going to be exceptionally busy one weekend because your friend is getting married, it wouldn’t be a good idea to make your novel the biggest priority those days. But if you’re planning to chill on Friday night, maybe you’ll reach your word count and then some.

Have fun.

Allow yourself to go out and enjoy your last few days of freedom.

Happy planning!

Writing

How To Write Every Day

Because I know all about writing every day…

Invest in expensive stationery. So you’re excited to use new pens. Then again, maybe it’s better to invest in nice but not too nice writing utensils. That way you won’t go broke replacing them. At the very least, write with something that isn’t frustrating to use.

Invest in locks. You can lock all the doors and windows. Anything to stop family members from barging in and invading your personal space. Just lock yourself away. Don’t be accessible to anybody until you emerge from you den.

Invest in noise cancelling headphones. For all those times you can’t control your environment. Perfect if you work at a coffee shop or write on the train but still prefer some silence. Listening to a baby’s cries piercing your eardrums is not conducive to productivity.

Invest in mugs. There’s nothing more annoying than having to get up and refill when you’re in the middle of a scene.

Invest in drinks. Choose whatever you prefer. Water. Coffee. Tears. Avoid beverages you despise to make your writing experience more enjoyable.

Invest in snacks. Snacking and writing go hand in hand. Besides, working while hungry isn’t a good idea in theory or in practice.

Invest in PJs. Are you going to do most of your writing in a suit or skirt? At the minimum, comfortable clothes are a must.

Invest in a bed. Ideally, buy a big one that practically calls your name at night.

Invest in books. When you’re not writing, you’re reading. Stories inspire stories.

Invest in yourself. You could take a class in writing or attend a conference on editing. Be the best writer you can be.

Invest in your future. Take care of yourself today so you can do better tomorrow. Eat. Exercise. Sleep. Live like a normal human being. You’re not some superhuman who can skip out on basic survival needs.

Writing every day is easy, said no one ever.

Writing

How To Write Under Time Pressure

Writing is hard enough as it is without the added pressure of having a limited amount of time.

Budgeting time takes on a greater significance when you only have a few hours to write too many essays.

I’ve extracted tips from my tired brain about writing under pressure:

  • Write fast but not too fast. This goes for both handwriting and typing.
  • Production not perfection. Don’t strive to be perfect. Do strive to be done.
  • Be concise, clear. Try to know what you’re writing about to avoid beating around the bush.
  • Prepare accordingly. There’s nothing like a simulation of the real thing. Studying and reviewing is good. Replicating the test conditions as closely as possible is great.
  • Don’t forget to breathe. Like the protagonist in many YA novels, let out that breath you didn’t know you were holding.
  • Try not to overthink. Most teachers aren’t trying to trick you.
  • Just write something. Part marks are better than no marks at all. Get an idea down. It may lead to other ideas.
  • Make connections. Concepts often interconnect. Draw out similarities and differences. Compare or contrast. Brainstorm with a mind map. Outline in a way that work for you.
  • Write until you have nothing else to say. Stick with what you know when possible. Talking about what you don’t know makes your life harder.
  • Use the time given. There’s no reason to stop writing thirty minutes into a three hour exam.
  • Take care of any business beforehand. That way, you’re in a good place physically, mentally, emotionally, etc.
  • Eat and drink beforehand. A hydrated body beats a hungry one.
  • Move on. Especially when you’re stumped. Tackle the next question. You can always come back to a problem later.
  • Play to your strengths. Downplay your weaknesses.
  • Answer what’s asked. Ideally, you do this right off the bat.

If nothing else, remember writing under time pressure is a skill you can cultivate.

Blogging

How To Break Out Of Blogger’s Block

I don’t know what’s worse: blogger’s block or writer’s block.

Either way, here are some ways to break out of blogging slumps.

Reread old posts.

It might inspire a new one. Or you may fall down into the rabbit hole of your greatest hits. There’s no losing here.

Work on something else.

You can write a poem, a play. You could even do something completely unrelated to blogging like building a bookshelf. If you want something done, do it yourself. Unless you have two left hands. Then maybe enlist the help of your uncle instead.

Grind through it.

Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet. The bullet doesn’t always taste so bad.

Take a break.

Get a drink. Grab a Kit Kat. Go for a long walk.

Break the blocks.

Writing

How To Beat Writer’s Block

Feeling uninspired and unmotivated is one thing. Feeling blocked or at an impasse is another.

Here are ways to beat writer’s block and write the next New York Times bestseller.

Take a shower/bath.

A shower somehow seems to solve everything. Maybe water is magical. Somehow, I have my best ideas during the most inconvenient times possible.

Take a walk.

It doesn’t have to be a long one. Get outside. Breathe in some fresh air. It helps clear your mind. Who knows, an idea might strike you while you’re out in nature, talking to flowers or trees.

Take a break.

And have fun. If, like me, you’ve forgotten the definition of fun, it might be a sign you need a new dictionary. Sometimes you may be better off relaxing for a little bit before returning to your work in progress. A break never hurt anyone, did it?

Take your time.

Writer’s block doesn’t care about your feelings. It will stay as long as it wants to. Just remember everything comes to an end. Nothing ever lasts. Before you know it, you’ll be back on track. Don’t forget you have an entire lifetime to write.

I should be a writer’s block doctor. If writing doesn’t work out, at least I have another career to fall back on. What do you think?

On a serious note, I hope I see your books on the charts one day.

Writing

How To Ask For Feedback And Apply It

I’m going to focus more on feedback for writers. But the following advice could be applicable in general as well.

Write down your worries.

In other words, what’s holding you back from asking and receiving help? Getting your fears on the page might make you realize you have nothing to be afraid of. After all, what’s the worst that can happen?

Find someone you trust.

You’re more likely to apply someone’s remarks if you respect the person. Which isn’t to say you can’t approach a stranger for help. Do what works for you.

Ask.

The answer will always be no if you don’t. Imagine how much your work will benefit if you have someone look over your writing for mistakes. Or at the very least, places for improvement because you’re a perfect, flawless writer.

Set boundaries.

Let the other individual know what kind of feedback you want. That way, he or she can focus specifically on your flow, grammar, structure, etc. Better yet, you get the advice you want, and you won’t be blindsided by a curveball out of left field. I hope my baseball analogies and similes don’t bore you all to tears by the end of the year.

Listen.

Don’t be dismissive, especially if you solicited their suggestions in the first place. Hear them out at the very least. They might say something useful. They might not. But either way, you have nothing to lose.

Thank them.

For their time and feedback. After all, they didn’t have to provide you with comments or a critique for that story you’re working on. Unless you’re paying them to be your editor.

Don’t take anything personally.

Easier said than done, I know. But remember no one is attacking you as a person or your work either. Most people are just trying to help.

Use what works. 

You don’t have to use every suggestion.You’re more than welcome to, obviously. But ultimately it’s your story, and you’re the writer of it. Not your computer. Not your cat. Not your chicken.

That’s all my tired brain can come up with. I hope this post is useful or at least not entirely useless.

Good luck asking and applying feedback to make your work better. That’s the goal. I believe in you. Put your ego aside. Improve your writing abilities. I like to think life gets easier. But maybe nothing ever does. Either way, you have what it takes.

Writing

How To Make Writing A Habit And Maintain It

I have many bad habits, but I also have a few good ones.

This is my advice for building a habit like writing and not breaking it three days in.

Be realistic.

Especially when you’re first starting out. You don’t want to set your sights so high that you have trouble reaching them. That can get discouraging real fast. Look at your life and lifestyle right now. How much time can you realistically commit to writing without letting other things slip or worse, suffer? It’s important you’re honest with yourself when making beginning a new habit.

Block out time.

Whether it’s ten minutes or two hours. Your creative time is sacred. Unless your house is burning down, don’t get up from your seat until you’re done.

Set goals.

Short and long term. Daily, weekly, monthly, yearly. Maybe you want to work for half an hour or perhaps write a thousand words. Besides, it isn’t as daunting to write 500 words every day as it is writing a 50,000 word novel. Having a clear idea of what you’re trying to accomplish ultimately gives you smaller benchmarks to hit with each writing session. At the very least, you’ll feel like you’re getting things done slowly but surely. It all adds up over the course of a year.

Track your habit.

There are a number of ways to do this. A notebook. An app on your phone. After a few days, you might feel less inclined to break your streak. Hopefully, you’ll push through and keep going even on days you don’t want to.

Hold yourself accountable.

Better yet find a friend to make sure you follow through with your habits and goals. Have someone check in often by asking you about your progress. You can always return the favour.

Use incentives.

Rewards are a great motivator when it comes to getting work done. Take advantage of the things that make you more willing to put pen to paper.

Have non-incentives.

On the other hand, you can have consequences when you procrastinate or make excuses. Monetary ones work well. Give your mom, sister, whoever five dollars every time you skip out on writing. Suddenly you aren’t as inclined to miss a session, huh?

Although I use writing as an example, the advice above can apply for almost any habit you’re trying to establish.

Good luck maintaining your habits!