Writing & Publishing Articles, Writing Craft & Tips

Writers: Judge Yourself by Your Own Standards

‘Comparisonitis’ is the most infectious disease in the writer community. Can you blame us? When John’s book has 100 five-star reviews and Jane has written six books this year and Joe has landed a major publishing deal, it’s difficult not to feel jealous and shame yourself for what you are/aren’t accomplishing.

Here’s your gentle reminder to CUT. IT. OUT.

nanowrimo-badgeAs I’m writing this post, we’re halfway through NaNoWriMo 2016. National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is an online challenge where writers attempt to write 50,000 words in 30 days. Some writers meet this goal in 24 hours (seriously — here’s proof), while others struggle to write 1,000 words over the entire month. NaNoWriMo is a great way to kickstart your writing project and meet new writer friends … but it’s also a vehicle for self-doubt. As you watch your ‘Buddies’ word counts climb, it can spur you to work harder or make you feel like an utter failure.

What you have to remember is that NaNoWriMo — like all writing — is not a competition. There are an infinite number of stories to be told and billions of readers to read them. The only person you should be worried about is yourself.

Take it from my experience. During my first NaNoWriMo, I went in with a plan, rocketed through the challenge, and wrote over 80,000 words that would become my first published novel, The Cogsmith’s Daughter (Desertera #1). This year, I was utterly unprepared for NaNoWriMo. I didn’t have time to write an outline before November 1, so I went into the challenge with everything but a plot. Literally. This is my third book in the Desertera series. I have characters, a world, a list of questions to answer, and a looming series finale … but I had no idea what should actually happen in this novel.

Regardless, I powered through the first ~11,000 words. By this point in the book, I realized the key story structure issues and could already imagine a better story arc. I had a choice to make. I could continue with NaNoWriMo (which is honestly the path I recommend, especially if you’re writing your first book and just need to finish something), or I could stop writing, craft the outline I should have started with, and rewrite.

Initially, I didn’t want to stop writing. I was embarrassed to watch my friends out-write me, and I felt obligated to keep pushing because I had publicly committed to the challenge. However, I had to remember, this isn’t just me anymore.

Though writing is my passion, I’m not writing ONLY for fun. I’m writing to build a catalog of books, to make writing my full-time career, and to please a small (but wonderful!) readership. Winning NaNoWriMo, while a great accomplishment, can’t be my goal if it sacrifices the quality of my book or yields 90,000 unusable words that will delay my production schedule. So, I chose to fail in the short term to succeed in the long term.

writer-1Now, it’s your turn to look in the mirror. What are your goals for your writing? If you’re just writing for fun, do whatever you like! But if you’re writing for professional purposes, you might have to make some tough choices. Even if you’re also writing with hopes of creating a full-time career, your choices might not be the same as mine. That’s the beautiful thing about authorship: each writer, each book, each business is unique.

As you come up against roadblocks or simply notice recurring patterns in your writing or business choices, ask yourself three questions:

  1. How does this action further my writing goals?
  2. Is there a better way to work toward these goals?
  3. Do I feel satisfied and confident in this choice?

If the answers are unclear or nonexistent, it’s time to reevaluate. For me, pushing through NaNoWriMo would have yielded content, but it would have been poor content. By giving myself permission to plan and write my book properly, I will write a better rough draft, ease the publication process, and do what’s best for my business. Can you say the same about your writing choices?

*Note: this post is not an excuse to procrastinate or give up on your dreams. If you’re thinking of dropping out of NaNoWriMo or giving up on a draft just because it’s difficult work, you’re tired, etc., that’s not the same as making a small sacrifice in pursuit of a larger goal. Not sure? Let that nagging feeling in your gut be your compass.


Has comparing yourself to other writers been a challenge for you? How do you evaluate whether a writing choice is best for you or you just ‘keeping up with the Rowlings’? Share your tips in the comments!

Kate's Nonfiction for Writers, Writing & Publishing Articles

Out Now: 100 Mystery, Thriller, and Suspense Writing Prompts

EDIT: This free promotion has ended. However, you can still download 100 Mystery, Thriller, and Suspense Writing Prompts for its regular price ($0.99) by clicking here.

I’m back from my post-book launch hiatus with … a booklet launch! Despite September being a crazy month, I’ve still written and published 100 Mystery, Thriller and Suspense Writing Prompts (Fiction Ideas Vol. 9).

You can download your copy for FREE on Amazon through October 4.

These genres presented a particular challenge. Given that they have similar themes and motifs, and that their subgenres so often overlap, I really had to push myself to create original, clearly defined prompts for each section. However, I think I’ve succeeded!

With this booklet published, there’s just one genre left in the series. If you don’t already know what it is, I’ll give you a hint: there’s a reason I’ve saved it for October!

You can read the description of 100 Mystery, Thriller, and Suspense Writing Prompts below. Then, make sure to grab your copy before it goes up to full price ($0.99).


9-mystery-thriller-suspenseDo you want to write a twisting mystery or heart-racing thriller? This booklet contains 100 writing prompts to help you get started.

Do you have a suspense tale burning inside you but feel trapped by writer’s block?
Are you an established author looking for fresh, new ideas?

If you’re ready to stop staring at the blank page and start writing NOW, 100 Mystery, Thriller, and Suspense Writing Prompts is the booklet for you. There’s no fluff and no wasted words – just 100 fiction prompts to get you back to what you do best: writing.

100 Mystery, Thriller, and Suspense Writing Prompts is packed with character- and story-focused prompts to jumpstart your fiction. The prompts have been carefully designed to address the various motifs of these stories – from clever sleuths to fast-paced action to intricate conspiracies.

Inside, you’ll find prompts related to the following subgenres:

1. Cozy Mystery
2. Financial
3. International
4. Legal
5. Medical
6. Military
7. Paranormal
8. Political
9. Psychological
10. Technothriller

Each section contains 10 thought-provoking prompts. Practice them in order, or dive right into to what inspires you most. You’ve already wasted enough energy on writer’s block. It’s time to craft your next riveting tale.

Uncover the words that have eluded you. Download 100 Mystery, Thriller, and Suspense Writing Prompts today.


SAMPLE PROMPTS

Cozy Mystery
A statue of the town’s founder (who happens to be your character’s ancestor) is vandalized. The police quickly brush it off as teenage mischief. However, your character recognizes something in the evidence that makes her think the crime is personal. Does her family have any old rivalries or enemies? What family secrets might her investigation uncover? What other crimes could the vandal commit to prove your character’s suspicions?

Legal
A lawyer wins her client’s case. He is declared innocent, despite being guilty of a serious crime. Although freed and unable to be re-tried, the client fears the lawyer will expose the truth about his guilt and bring him harm another way. He begins stalking the lawyer to ensure her silence and perhaps turns violent in his paranoia. How does the lawyer react to his harassment? Does she feel guilty about setting him free? Can she prevent him from committing a worse crime against her?

 

Fiction Blog, The Desertera Series, Writing Craft & Tips

Guest Post with Author Kate M. Colby #Desertera

My best writing tip? Give all your characters (major and minor) motivations. Read more on author Helen Jones’ blog!

Helen Glynn Jones

perf5.250x8.000.inddToday I’m very pleased to welcome author (and author-y friend!) Kate M. Colby to my blog. Kate has just released The Courtesan’s Avenger, the second book in her Desertera series (and if you haven’t read her first book, The Cogmsith’s Daughter, get yourselves a copy now!). Set in the steampunk world of Desertera, The Courtesan’s Avenger is a tale of murder, intrigue and justice – I can’t wait to read it 🙂

Today, Kate’s written an excellent post about character motivation, something she feels is key to good story-telling. There’s a lot of useful information here, so read through and let us know what you think in the comments. Take it away, Kate!

As an author, the question I get asked more than any other is: “What advice do you have for aspiring writers?” or some variation of it. With the release of my second novel, The Courtesan’s…

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Fiction Blog, The Desertera Series

Guest Post: Themes in a Series

Check out my guest post on author and professor Charles French’s blog. I discuss the importance of themes in a series, as well as how the themes of my Desertera series have evolved over the first two novels.

I would like to welcome author Kate M. Colby to my blog. In this post, she discusses the issue of themes in a series of novels. Kate is an excellent writer, one I am proud to know. I respect her abilities and writing, and I have used her previous novel The Cogsmith’s Daughter (Desertera […]

via The Courtesan’s Avenger by Kate M. Colby: Themes in a Series — charles french words reading and writing

Writing & Publishing Articles, Writing Craft & Tips

Five Tips for Writing a Series by Kate M Colby

Today, I’m featured on author Kate Evans’s blog, where I share advice on how to write a series. Check it out!

Scarborough Mysteries

I am very happy to welcome the author Kate M Colby to my blog with her tips for writing a novel series. Her new novel, The Courtesan’s Avenger, is out now: www.katemcolby.com/books  Over to you Kate Colby…

Kate C photo Oct15I’ve always had difficulty thinking “small.” In school, I was the kid with good grades, a dozen extra-curricular activities, a part-time job, and a dedication to an outside sport. At my day job, I’m the person who always accepts extra projects or offers to help someone who is overworked. Why? I want to do it all.

The same goes for my writing. When I set out to write The Cogsmith’s Daughter, I knew one novel wouldn’t be enough. I loved the world and characters I had created. I couldn’t spend 90,000 words with them then just leave, never to return. No. Even though I had never written a novel before…

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