Posts Tagged With: how to write

How I Make a Living as a Writer (And You Can Too)

Make a living writing

Copywriting for fun and profit. Don’t knock it ’til you try it.

I’m proud to say I’ve built a full-time career around writing, as both a novelist and a copywriter.

That means splitting my time between the two. Usually I spend the morning writing novels, then spend the afternoon writing marketing and advertising copy for business clients.

(“Copy” is just fancy ad agency shorthand for “words that sell stuff.”)

I’m not alone. There have been innumerable examples of copywriters who also successfully wrote fiction. James Patterson, Salman Rushdie, Joseph Heller, and Dorothy Sayers, to name a few.

I’m not saying that I’m remotely in the same class as them. But I have written for hundreds of businesses, from little tech startups to big names like Home Depot and Saks Fifth Avenue.

I write copy for all sorts of things: company websites, blog posts, articles, case studies, sales letters, newsletters, landing pages, sales emails, pay-per-click ads, direct mail, brochures, you name it.

Writing copy requires quite a bit of discipline, research, and the willingness to develop specific skills. It will absolutely improve anyone’s storytelling abilities. It helps make your fiction writing punchier, better researched and more emotionally resonant.

It may sound counter-intuitive, but it’s true. A good copywriter, like a good novelist, has to know how to write in a way that connects with the reader’s emotions.

So if you’re interested in writing for a living, I suggest looking into copywriting as a possible business. Not only does it multiply your opportunities to make money writing, it will also make you a better writer. What’s not to love?

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How to Plan and Write A Novel

non-English typewriter

Think Microsoft Word is a pain to use? Try cranking out 100K on this sucker.

I’m often asked what my writing process looks like.

How do I write a book? It’s pretty simple, actually.

(Not easy. But simple.)

First, I start with the basics:

  • Who are the good guys?
  • What are they trying to do?
  • And, especially, why?
  • Who are the bad guys?
  • Where does this take place?

Then I boil all of that down into a strong core idea. For example: a bookish crystal shop owner has to save the world from the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse – who drive possessed muscle cars.

The idea has to work at the core level, it has to really grab me, before I start writing it. Otherwise, what’s the point?

Then I figure out how to make the whole book work, beginning to end, in a short synopsis. Maybe one page. That takes time. And even once I have that figured out, I don’t start writing it yet.

I go through a process of breaking the entire book down into smaller and smaller chunks, figuring out what works and what doesn’t. There’s always a certain amount of stuff that you have to throw out or change. There are gaps that you need to fill in.

After a considerable amount of work, I get to the point where I have a complete list of scenes, and a description of what happens in each scene. Once that’s done, I can start writing the book.

But nothing is set in stone. Any of this stuff could change at any time. I’m not a slave to the outline.

If I come up with a better idea on the fly, I’ll go with it.

I can always change the outline later to smooth things out again.

I think of it like a weather forecast: this is what will probably happen. But just in case, bring an umbrella.

I don’t think I’ve ever written a book that ended exactly the way I thought it would. And that’s okay. The outline is just a tool that helps you get the book done. That’s what really matters.

Are you writing a book? Let me know in the comments.

Want more writing tips? Get email-only exclusives when you subscribe to my free author newsletter. >

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How to Never Get Writer’s Block. Ever.

writers block

Writer’s block(s). Get it? … Sorry. Couldn’t resist.

Let me tell you the secret to getting rid of writer’s block forever.

I’ll admit, I’ve certainly had days where I feel like I don’t know what to write, or I worry that everything I write is terrible.

Some people call that writer’s block. I call it “Monday.” :-)

But seriously, what most people call “writer’s block” is an insidious combination of those two problems.

Problem #1: Not knowing what to write. Continue reading

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6 Secrets of Successful Critique Groups

Critique groups: don't get bitten!

Are you hearing the Jaws theme in your head? I am. And now you are, too. :)

Critique groups: best thing ever for writers? Or soul-crushing pits of despair?

Here are my 6 secrets for spotting a top-notch critique group — or assembling your own.

Connect with other writers and get the feedback you need to finish your book, publish it, and write the next one.

Everything you need to know from Yours Truly is right here on author Patricia Stoltey’s blog:

Click here: http://patriciastolteybooks.com/2016/01/6-secrets-of-successful-critique-groups-by-laurence-macnaughton/

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The Easiest Way to Organize Your Thoughts

Imagine if there was a way you could instantly spark new ideas, organize your thoughts and get more done every day.

As a writer, my brain is constantly loaded up with new ideas.

But I’ve found a way to quickly break down my thoughts, sort them out, and get organized, so that I can be productive. With a program called Scapple, I can think clearer, work faster and be more creative. Continue reading

Categories: For Writers, The Writing Life | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Ask an Author: World Building and Exposition

Ever wanted to know how a science fiction or fantasy author builds an imaginary world?

What Is World Building?

How do authors create strange new worlds? Find out!

Authors like J.R.R. Tolkien, Stephanie Meyer, J.K. Rowling, Frank Herbert, William Gibson and scores of others are renowned for the worlds they’ve created.

What makes them so intriguing?

I’ve been invited to join a handful of other authors at MileHiCon here in Denver this month to talk about the reasons why (and how to do it).

What Is World Building?

Continue reading

Categories: book business, For Writers, writing a novel | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

The Myth of the Peaceful Writer’s Life

The Myth of the Peaceful Writer's Life

What? I can’t hear you. WHAT?

I know so many writers who claim that they need absolute silence in order to write. I used to be one of them.

As I write this, we’re having a hardwood floor refinished in the room directly above my office.

If you’ve never had a floor redone, I envy you. You probably still have your hearing.

It turns out that old hardwood boards are incredibly acoustic. And if you grind on them with two-ton industrial vacuum-equipped sanders, you get what is quite possibly one of the loudest sounds in the known universe.

It’s a noise so painfully loud, you can plug your ears and shout to the person next to you, and they don’t even know you’re there. A 747 could land on my front lawn, and I wouldn’t know.

Right now, there are probably people at NASA scratching their heads over the cosmic feedback spewing from these machines.

Continue reading

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The Short, Sad Saga of Mississippi Jones

Don't eat me!

Scary. Freakin’. Fish. That is all. Move along.

Some names stick with us.

Bridget Jones, Holden Caulfield, Nero Wolfe — these names are all indelibly stamped into our literary consciousness.

Those names are evocative. Memorable. Unique.

Some writers are incredibly good at coming up with names.

I am not one of them.

Continue reading

Categories: For Writers, how to write a book, how to write a novel, Uncategorized, writing, writing a book, writing a novel | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Top 3 Questions of Aspiring Writers

Thriller Author Interview

with Yours Truly

I’m always happy to answer questions from aspiring authors. This week, I got some tricky ones:

Q: How do you know when to end one chapter and start the next chapter?

A: You end a chapter as soon as the lead character either achieves their goal or fails.

The best place to end a chapter is immediately after you raise a new question in the reader’s mind. The desire to answer that question will make them turn the page. Continue reading

Categories: For Writers, how to write a book, how to write a novel, Uncategorized, writing, writing a book, writing a novel | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Win a Manuscript Critique, Help a Great Cause

Brenda Novak diabetes auction

All the proceeds of this fundraiser will go to benefit the Diabetes Research Institute. You can help!

You can win 50 pages of intense story development editing in the Brenda Novak diabetes auction:

http://brendanovak.auctionanything.com/Bidding.taf?_function=detail&Auction_uid1=3405168

If you’re a writer, or you know someone who is …

Find out how you can get my undivided attention and advice for a full 50 pages.

Plus, you’ll get a personal 20 minute follow-up phone call to talk about your book, answer your questions, and learn more about how to get published.

It’s a donation you can feel good about!

Continue reading

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