Writing - Is Criticism a Good Thing?


.
It is important to improve in everything you do. In writing it’s paramount. Any writer who wants to become a great writer would be wise to seek feedback in the form of critique.

Ask for constructive criticism.

Not all criticism will be valid but most will be helpful. Some people like to critique others writing more as a way to massage their own egos or be heard and not so much to be helpful. You need to consider the critique you receive with objective perspective.

The writer needs to decide which advice is constructive criticism and which advice is destructive. Constructive criticism helps improve your writing. Destructive criticism destroys your confidence and undermines what you are trying to achieve. You should consider the critique; select what you believe is relevant and try to improve your technique from the advice the person has given you. From a critique you can analyze what worked and what didn’t. In most cases people want to be helpful and give you their honest advice. As a golfer learns from a coach, you take as much information as you possibly can in the early stages and over time you practice and eventually perfect your own style.

Remember the feedback you receive may come from a reader and not someone who is experienced in writing. They are giving you their opinion from their understanding of what you were trying to say. They will give you their thoughts about your work in the best way they know. It may not be sensitive to your feelings so be sure you understand what the reader is really trying to share with you before becoming upset or making any changes.

Also, be wary when asking family or friends to comment on your work. They are more likely to be highly flattering or highly critical of your work depending on their expectations and relationship with you.

Always be grateful for any feedback you receive - good or bad.

Lastly, remember the decision to change your writing is yours. If you don’t like the way someone has suggested you change your writing for whatever reason, you are the final adjudicator. It is your work and your decision to do what you choose. Remember though, if you want to be published you are working for someone else and they may dictate what they want because they are paying. The choice is ultimately yours.

NaNoWriMo - Keep going - You can do it!


.

How goes your NanoWriMo novel writing experience?



Words flashing by?


No? Your novel has come to a grinding halt?


Today’s bonus blog is to help those of you NaNoWriMo-ets to understand it’s perfectly okay to get a bit stalled.


Only a novel writer really understands how difficult it is to see a novel through from beginning to completion. Any reader can read a book in a day or a week; that same book may have taken the writer anywhere from six months to two years to complete or longer.


People may think writing a book is a simple process. If you can read a book in a day then surely you can write one in a similar timeframe. That’s like saying you can speak on a telephone but that doesn't mean we know how it works (or want to know for that matter!). Imagine if we had to individually manufacture our phones in order to speak over them – would you? Could you? Of course not.


But that’s getting off the track.

All you really need today is some words of wisdom or inspiration to keep you on track. Hmm, bad luck!


Here's the best I can do for a Sunday:


From the words of Charles Peguy “A word is not the same with one writer as with another. One tears it from his guts. The other pulls it out of his overcoat pocket”.


Make a plan. Yes, it’s late but if you’re stumped then you need to do this.


Write down your aims, break them down into smaller parts and set timeframes for each part. Make sure you know where this thing is going before you move away from the plan. It’s tempting to get a moment of inspiration then race off again, but you need to be systematic with this approach or else you’ll end up stuck again in a few hundred words or less.


That’s all for now. Keep writing!


 
There's nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at your computer and open a vein. ~Adapted for today from Walter Wellesley "Red" Smith's original version.




NaNoWriMo - ARGH!! - Time Is Running Out!

.

Sadly, NaNoWriMo, is rapidly convulsing, gasping and thrusting to its final heartbreaking end!



Yes, the wordiness and creating of unusual words; some that don’t even exist tends to exhibit itself towards the final week of NaNoWriMo. It’s a survival technique used by the "NaNoWriMo-Writer-ets" & "NaNoWriMo-Writer-eter-ist's" to help them guard themselves when they notice time ticking furiously and it seems mischievously, unabashedly designed to thwart them.


If you haven’t managed to raise your 50,000 words by now, then there's no nice way to say it; "you’d better pull-your-finger out and get to it!"


This year the NaNoWriMo project signed up over 200,000 young people in the Young Writers Program. What a great initiative to drag the young writers kicking and screaming into the world of being a writer.

At the time of writing the number of authors signed up for NaNoWriMo was over 164,000 with a total word count of 1, 448,554,647. Phew! That’s a lot of babbling.

It’s getting a bit too late to sign up, but not impossible. Here’s the link for you to have a peek or maybe even sign up! NaNoWriMoi'm-so-damned-late-but-I'm-here  








National Novel Writing Month - NanoWriMo - I'm stuck. What Can I Write?



Yesterday we had a go at freewriting, but as we are almost half-way through NanoWriMo this November. It is about this time of the challenge that a lot of writers get "stuck" and start to feel they can't think of anything else to write about. Don't let this be you. Yes, NanoWriMo's daily word count is a challenge but not impossible.

Set yourself small achievable goals throughout the day, and reward yourself if you achieve them.

Here is a group of suggestions I've noticed on the NanoWriMo forums this year.

  • Set your goal word count at the closest round number and aim for that.
  • Write a Post-it Note that says "Just do it!" or "You can do this" and place it somewhere you can see it throughout the day.
  • If you get stuck for words, ask yourself "then what happened" or "what happened next?"
  • Get rid of distractions - work away from other people or noises. Some writers like the opposite and work with music. Do what suits you.
  • Threaten yourself, "Your Write or You Die!"
There are many more suggestions see Google for more.

Set yourself a goal and write today!

For your interest, see: NanoWriMo for this years National Novel Writing Month. A place to write. Read more about it on the site.





National Novel Writing Month - NanoWriMo - Get Your Ideas Down - Freewrite!



There is a trick new writers learn early on in their career, to
FREE-WRITE, also known as, stream-of-consciousness-writing.


Free-writing is allowing yourself to jot or type any thoughts that come to mind without internalizing those thoughts by editing or becoming too aware of how they might sound to someone else. You just write, write and then write some more. The idea is to keep writing for a set period of time, even if what is written ends up reading like total garbage.


The technique is used to liberate the writer from any self-doubt and in the more experienced writer to release them from writer's block.


Set yourself a time limit and have a go today!


The rules with freewriting are:


1. There are no rules.


Just write!


For your interest, (although I'm late with this one), see: http://www.nanowrimo.org/user for this years National Novel Writing Month. A place to just write. Read more about it on the site.


Have fun!








Writing & Getting Published - Check Your Work




You've completed your creative, ingenious, masterpiece and you’re all set to send it off to the Publisher.


WAIT!

Are you absolutely sure it is ready?

Have you checked your work?

Before you send your work spend some time reading it out loud.



Ask yourself:
  • Does it make sense?
  • Are main points clear and concise? Do ideas flow logically?
  • Have I answered ALL the reader’s (likely) questions?
  • Is there any typing or spelling mistakes? (Spell checker is a great tool, but remember, it is ONLY A TOOL and tools require trained operators to use them).
  • Is there any grammatical mistakes?
  • Read your work backwards (this helps to find any spelling mistakes).
  • Then, do one final check. Preferably leave the work until the next day or until after you have taken a break. (This of course is not always possible or practical, especially for online blogs, articles, etc where deadlines are tight).

Just one last thing

Remember, we are all only human and we do make mistakes.


Don’t be too hard on yourself if you do find errors after publication or worse if someone else points them out to you. They are only concerned that your good work is received in the light it was meant.



On Writing & Getting Published - Set Yourself A Time Limit

It's all true what they say - as much as I hate to admit it. In order to achieve anything in this life we need to set goals or at the very least a time limit or a deadline (call it what you will). If you don't make a purpose out of something it won't ever get done.


Setting a deadline is the one thing I've battled and resisted all my life. I've come up with plenty of ideas - (more than my human share of ideas) but until I set a timeframe they are just ideas floating around in my head never to be tested! To make something really happen you not only have to come up with an idea, but set a time to complete it and do it.


Call it goal setting, a To Do list,  a list of tasks or whatever!


See the link to this article - read about Darren Rowse http://www.problogger.net/archives/2009/10/15/the-1-reason-my-blogging-grew-into-a-business/. Darren's wife gave him a ultimatum in the form of a "deadline" to complete the task of making a living out of blogging or else, "get a real job" (or something to that effect!)


You see, even those of us who don't like to set goals or timeframes for tasks can sometimes have them thrust upon us and this is when things happen.


There are several people throughout history who set themselves goals and once they set a timeframe - that was it - they completed the task.


So today's blog is really about YOU.


About setting yourself a GOAL, even a small one and then attaching a time to complete that goal and then most important of all, following through with ACTION. Let's face it nothing gets done unless we act. (For writers - action is a verb - a doing word).


Get to it!


Let me know how you go, I'd love to hear from you.

Thought-provoking titles

.
Recently spotted this short-short story, and it struck me as a great title for a novel.

Felicity Kettle was twelve years old when she died.

She's still afraid of the dark.

See this writers other short stories at: http://community.livejournal.com/nano_wrimo/

Unique Voice - Writing (or finding your voice)

.

We all have our own personalities. We all have likes and dislikes.



This topic - Unique Voice in Writing - is about your writing "VOICE" (or finding your voice).


When we say "voice" referring to the "writing voice" we are emphasizing a unique style in writing. The sound it has. The character, humor or other characteristics it delivers to the reader.


If you scan several websites you will notice that a lot of sites sound the same. As far as we know they could have all been written by the same person. Nothing particularly makes them stand out one from the other. They don't make you question, “Something doesn't sound right here?” They are somehow similar, informative and provide information.


You may notice that academic papers have an informative style of voice. This type of writing is good for getting information across to the reader but it will not make you do something. It may make you think and question but it will not make you act eg, buy something.


When writing for selling the "voice" becomes very important.

The writing is designed to make a person take action. The voice may use humor, fear, curiosity, satire or sarcasm. It might be upbeat, honest, chatty or serious. It is written to make the reader feel some emotion. It encourages the reader to act on the advice given e.g., buy an item.


Another voice may be used in fiction. The voice gives the reader a sense of the characters. One character in a novel should not sound the same as another character. This is known as the "characters voice".

A mother and son or husband and wife should sound different. However, there may be likenesses from the family connections e.g., habits, sayings or nuances and these can be shown in the writing by use of voice.


The narrators job in a work of fiction is to blend into the background as a storyteller, unnoticed and unobtrusive to the story being told.


Yet, another narrators voice may command attention with their strong tone that in some cases becomes characteristic of certain writers. Top selling authors with strong voices include: Enid Blyton, Agatha Christie, Stephen King, Dean Koonz, James Patterson, J.K. Rowling, Dr. Seuss, Wilbur Smith, J.R.R. Tolkien, Leo Tolstoy and the reasonably new writer on the scene - Stephenie Meyer.


Practice using different forms of writing to find your voice. After you have been writing for some time you will notice that you stick to the same style or that you change your voice to match the different types of writing that you do.


Don't be afraid to experiment with your voice. Once you are comfortable with a certain way of writing you may find people prefer to read particular pieces of your writing but not others. Look at those pieces and analyze what it is that the reader did or did not like.


But, most importantly WRITE and ENJOY the process as you learn and grow in your writing technique.

Keeping your writing simple

Keep your writing simple.

Many new writers think that writing is about impressing people with intelligent prose. 

In fact, good writing is the opposite.

If you can convey your message without fancy wording you are more likely to get readers doing what you want them to do and that is to read your work.

Remember that writing is about getting others to understand what is in your mind. So keep it plain. Of course there is a time and a place for the excruciating intelligent works of art but in the mainstream it is better to let the reader know what it is you are trying to say:

Simply, keep it simple.

Pinch and a Punch for the First of the Month...

I wonder where this saying really did come from?

I know back in school which was a few days or so ago now, the kids used to take much glee in letting you know it was the first of the month with a nasty pinch and a decent punch into your arm! Then they'd exclaim, "pinch and a punch for the first of the month. White rabbit - no returns". Somehow this "white rabbit" was supposed to somehow stop you from returning the giver with the same.

Luckily I was usually the one giving pinches and punches so it didn't faze me too much. However, on those rare occasions that I did receive a pinch and a punch I was most indignant about it and usually retaliated.

What were your customs around this strange time of the month?

Reinvigorating my blog...



Slackness!

That is the only explanation as to why this blog has such a large gap.

Lack of of direction - that's another reason.

AND, I hate to admit this one -

Care Factor Zero!

Oh, and probably the clincher, WORK! Full-time, part-time and filling in for people who are sick of work. Now I'm one of them...

It's nice to be back

Zak

Blog Archive