Posts Tagged: writing advice

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"You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence."


Octavia Butler

I love this quote. A common question for writers seems to be “how” are they “good?” One, “good” is a matter of interpretation. Two, they write. Over and over.

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Source: gradientlair



Go to YouTube.

Watch Bob Ross.

Listen to him talk about painting.

Seriously, this guy… this guy is full of advice for a writer who’s having trouble getting started.

He’s not writing, he’s painting, but… okay, like, he can sit there and talk about geology and the diffusion of light and make it clear that he knows what a mountain is and he knows what goes into the interplay of light and perspective, and then you’ll watch him smear some black paint on top of a still wet canvas with a thin metal wedge, and then take a brush and push it downwards so that it mixes with the base in such a way that it ends up lighter at the bottom and eventually just fades into the background.

And then he’ll take some titanium white paint and do the same thing to add snow and light, and you’re thinking… “But… interplay. Geology. Perspective.” and he’s just pushing paint around, talking about figuring out where the north slope lives and how there are no mistakes, just happy little accidents and then he steps back at the end and holy moly, it looks like he painted a mountain.

It doesn’t look like he pushed paint around for ten minutes, it looks like he looked at a real mountain somewhere and copied it.

Is there a real mountain that matches the painting? No. Could he use this method to exactly replicate an actual mountain? No. But he made a mountain that looks real enough, and even if he didn’t have 100% control over the final look of it, he conjured it out of his imagination.

This is the trick that more writers need to learn. It’s possible to create a story or even a whole book through meticulous planning and careful construction, but… most people can’t do that. It’s not that we’re not willing to put in the work, it’s just too easy to get stuck. Too easy to never leave the “Well, I’m still worldbuilding/researching” stage. Too easy to write oneself into a corner or get bogged down in the details.

So this is my advice today for fiction writers:

Learn how to speed paint.

Learn how to work wet on wet.

Learn how to push paint around on the edge of a knife.

Learn how to figure out where things want to live by feel and how to allow for happy little accidents.

There will be places for fine details and intricate sketches. But when you’re staring at a blank canvas and you have no idea where to start… paint the whole thing blue and start scraping up some mountains. 

Quick, broad strokes. That’s all it takes to get you started. Quick, broad strokes and a few happy accidents.

Reblogging for myself.

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Source: boo-author
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The Story Coaster by Grant Snider

This is amazing. The unicorn in “extraneous scenery” wins.

I’m dying over the unreliable narrator.  I wish I could love this a hundred times.  The critical reaction is so spot on.


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Source: heyteenbookshey

Deny Pain, Deny Fear...Deny it All: yeahwriters: writeworld: randomfanficwritingtips: Avoid using...




Avoid using semi-colons in fiction. Break the sentence into two instead.

Nah, dude. Nah.


If you think you should avoid using semicolons, then you don’t know how to use semicolons. Let me help you with that.

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Source: randomfanficwritingtips



5 Ways to be a Happier Creative

We all know the tortured artist schtick. To be honest, I can be a downer sometimes myself, but I think it would be terrible for us to all perpetuate the idea that being creative and miserable are mutually exclusive.

So here’s to being creative and actually enjoying it:

1. Refuse to See Your Entire Life Either as a Success or a Failure
The idea here is to never buy into the lie that your life is either successful or failing in terms of your creative output. Think of the most successful creative person you can, if you look closely you can see a series of successes and failures.

The best way for me to look at the creative life is as a series of projects which can be successful in some ways and fail in other ways. For instance, some projects are really successful in the development of your skill but not financially advantageous.

Also, don’t believe that there is some level of success where you have now “arrived” or attained a level of success which can never been denied to you, like being hailed a “creative genius” with endless financial gain, forever. I could tell you many examples of artists and musicians who seem like they have “arrived”  with one project and then completely fail the next.

2. Make Something Everyday
Will Bryant says something like, “I make stuff because if I don’t I get sad”. A silly and profound statement. Last year I did a daily drawing project where I created a new character every weekday. I found this statement to ring very true.

This practice gave me a sense of creative productivity every single day, which is a serious morale booster. Even if you don’t show anyone, it can help you feel prolific and unlimited in your creative abilities, which in turn increases your confidence.

3. Be Authentic
This is huge. Many people have done amazing things in creativity and have received many rewards, successes and prizes for them. So there is a lot of incentive for YOU to be THEM. But the trick is knowing the truth: you CAN’T be them. Trying to be something you are not will make you feel like an old sock. You already know this, but I thought I’d remind you.

4. Know Your Purpose
Shooting aimlessly into the dark can feel like…shooting aimlessly into the dark. Your purpose doesn’t have to be mind meltingly important. I like the humble yet ambitious purpose the great Debbie Millman has taken upon herself to “try to make the supermarket more beautiful”.

Try to clarify what you want to achieve overall so that everything you do has a sense of purpose. Purpose equals meaning, and to most creatives I know, a sense of meaning is why they want to make art and why they DO NOT want to work in a factory.

5. Address and Defeat Your Fears
That dreadful fear is a bully that is killing your soul and it should be stood up to. Listen to it, don’t ignore it. Hear what it’s actually saying and then dismantle it. Talk to someone about it openly, if the fear is tied to reality, then face it and take it down with integrity. If it’s all lies, all smoke and mirrors then let it disappear in the cloud of smoke that it is. If you are doing super boring unadventurous work, you won’t have any fears at all…but who wants to do that?

Hope this makes you a bit happier today.

- Andy J. Miller

P.S. To tackle the piling up questions here on this tumblr I have started taking on 1 hour video creative coaching, for more info click here.

Thank you Andy ! I needed these reminders today. 

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Source: artdirections

"Imagine that you are dying. If you had a terminal disease would you ­finish this book? Why not? The thing that annoys this 10-weeks-to-live self is the thing that is wrong with the book. So change it. Stop arguing with yourself. Change it. See? Easy. And no one had to die.

You can also do all that with whiskey."




Words From Ira Glass

A note from the heavens



While you are worrying about whether beta readers will steal your ideas, there is a more genuine threat on the horizon.

When offered a publishing contract, please do all your research before you sign. There are a number of fakes and scammers out there, as well as good-intentioned amateurs that don’t know how to get your work to a wide audience. I won’t tell the heartbreaking stories here - there are too many.

Being published badly is worse than being never published.

It can destroy your career and your dreams.

The quick check is to google the publishing house name + scam or warning.


But, to be sure, check with these places first. They aren’t infallible (nothing is) but they can help you protect yourself. They are written and maintained by expereinced writers, editors, publishers and legal folks.

Absolute Write: Bewares and Background Checks

Preditors and editors

Writer Beware

and the WRITER BEWARE blog

Keep yourself and your work safe.

This is really important, so if you are a writer or have writer friends, or you are a writing blog, please reblog it.

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Source: bisexualpiratequeen

"One reason that people have artist’s block is that they do not respect the law of dormancy in nature. Trees don’t produce fruit all year long, constantly. They have a point where they go dormant. And when you are in a dormant period creatively, if you can arrange your life to do the technical tasks that don’t take creativity, you are essentially preparing for the spring when it will all blossom again."

- Marshall Vandruff, one of the best teachers I have ever had, on artist’s block. Said during a webinar done on Visualarium to advertise his upcoming online course on animal anatomy (source links to webinar)  (via pale-afternoon)

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