Writing Advice Series…

Its been an interesting and stressful week for me – but it’s Friday now and this weekend is set to be a good one, with a theatre visit on Saturday, and Sunday hopefully a relaxing Mother’s Day. Last night I popped into London to spend time with the Handprint Theatre team, who are a lovely bunch of people, I’m looking forward to working with them, running their blog with Sarah and getting involved with their upcoming projects. I’m also working on some exciting articles for the Hearing Times, and life seems to just be on a bit of a high at the moment. Although I’m continuing the part time job search, I had an interview on Thursday so I’m just waiting to hear from them. I think if I don’t get this job I’m going to consider finding out how to freelance better and have lots of projects on the go; maybe setting up my own business, we’ll see.

Anyway, another thing I’ve been thinking about recently is that although my blog has a lot of writing advice within the archives, I’ve never really written a blog post focusing on all the tools I use, from writing in a ‘Writer’s Notebook’ to using 750words.com – all these things can spur you on as a writer, to keep pushing yourself and looking for inspiration everywhere. Although I would be the first to admit that I’m not always consistent with everything at once, there are a few things that work for me and give me inspiration. Fundamentally, though, I feel that all writers have their own toolbox, and nobody is quite the same in the way they approach writing. Some people write pages and pages in one sitting, whilst others spread out their writing around other daily tasks. Some prefer to write first thing in the morning, whilst others write well into the night.

I feel that being a writer in today’s world can be both easy and difficult – on one hand, you have all these possibilities – blogging, self publishing, social networking, more ways to get your work out there, whilst on the other hand, all these things can be distracting and more than once I’ve found myself re-blogging endlessly on Tumblr when I could be writing something. Procrastination is the writer’s enemy. Yet utilising the internet and seeing it as more of a tool rather than a means of endless distraction, can sometimes be the answer to avoiding the procrastination trap. So at least once every two weeks I’ll introduce my readers to ways that writers can use the internet, social networking and various other tools to write even when the internet threatens to distract you.

The websites that I’ve found most useful in making me focus on writing are generally just simple tools that encourage writing practice. I’ve found that the more I write journal entries, the better my other writing becomes because I’m not thinking about all that mental clutter that makes me unfocused. Finding inspiration is also an important part of writing practice – its not procrastination if you’re actively trying to find something to inspire you.

1. 750words.com – I know I’ve spoken about this website several times, but that’s because it is surprisingly effective at making you want to keep going day by day. Using ‘badges’, which you get when you achieve however many days or words in a row, as well as behaviour badges (such as speedy typist portrayed by a cheetah), it becomes addictive and makes you want to keep writing. 750 words is apparently more or less three pages of writing, which is the minimum that Dorothea Brande encourages writers to reach for when writing ‘morning pages’ or stream of consciousness writing. It depends on what you want to get out of it – I use it for ‘brain dumps’ or to work through my feelings or even occasionally to begin a short story. You can write much more than 750 words if you want – it has endless scrolling so there isn’t a limit on how many words you can write.

2. Writing Prompts – there are loads of websites out there with writing prompts, ranging from scenarios to being sparked by images. On Tumblr, I use quite a few websites for different things – I use Yeah Write! for the prompts and advice, and I use Writing Prompts for more prompts. There are also a number of websites with similar functions – just for prompts – such as Plinky, which is usually for blog post prompts as well as The Daily Post at WordPress. Then there’s also Creative Writing Prompts and Procrastinating Writers. So, if you do a search, these things usually come up anyway.

3. Quotes – there are lots of websites dealing with quotes out there on the internet. The best one for writing advice and inspiration specifically for writing is Amberdine’s Quotes for Writers, which I found inspiration when I was just starting out. Then there is Quote Book, A Sea of Quotes and Quote Garden. Tumblr must be 80% quotes! Sometimes when the words aren’t coming, a quote will sometimes inspire you or give you a prompt.

4. Images – Tumblr is great for images, being a visual community. You can discover all kinds of art and illustration, as well as mounds of photography on Tumblr. The blog Dark Silence in Suburbia and MagicFran are two of the best people to follow to discover new and interesting art and illustration, because they promote other people’s work.

5. If you’re a book geek like me, you’ll want to figure out what book to read next. All in the name of research, of course. I spend a lot of my time on Amazon looking at recommendations and going on searches for the next book to read, but I also like finding recommendations from other people who love to read. Teaching Literacy is a beautiful blog and sometimes I get inspiration about what to read next by seeing a book cover in a photo, or illustration. I also like OMFG! Books, Tea, Coffee and Books, Book Riot and Books and Nerds.

So – this is only the tip of the iceberg – I’ll keep adding to all the links and advice every two weeks (or more, depends). I hope to encourage new and seasoned writers alike and also find inspiration of my own while I’m researching blog posts! Have a good weekend…

We stayed at home to write, to consolidate our outstretched selves. ~ Sylvia Plath.

2 thoughts on “Writing Advice Series…

  1. After Babel Fell March 17, 2012 — 1:03 am

    This is the first time I’ve heard of 750words.com, and it sounds like just the thing to get me started in first drafts. Those are always the worst, at least for me.

    Anyway, thanks for the great post! 🙂


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