Motivate yourself to write this year!

Most who write find themselves filled with anxiety and self-criticism as they pen their paragraphs and compare it to those authors who inspired them to write. And then there’s always the frustration that comes when the right word (or even no words) won’t come.

As Karl Iagnemma, an MIT roboticist who also happens to be an acclaimed fiction writer, once said, “A lot of people, when they think about writers, probably imagine people wasting time in cafés, drinking a lot and smoking too many cigarettes, and working when the inspiration – whatever that is – seizes them. But writing is rigorous. Writing, for me at least, takes a lot of concentrated work and effort. It takes dedication and the willingness to do the work even when that feeling of inspiration isn’t there at all.”

Writing may be hard work, but the rewards are worth the effort. Fortunately, there are a number of ways you can get motivated to write:
• Keep a project “bible” – Create a notebook of reference materials in a 3-ring binder of loose-leaf paper. Often “inspiration” will strike on one of those ideas. At least it gives you a collection of ideas you can go back to when you don’t know what to write about.
• Keep a daily log – Track how many words you write and challenge yourself to top it the next day.
• Keep a journal – Often the kernels of stories later can be found in your journal.
• Keep in touch with fellow writers – They can offer encouragement and provide advice when you’re stuck.
 Start with free-writing – Maybe when driving you see a billboard that gives you an idea for a vacation. The same can occur when writing – sometimes when writing aimlessly you develop an idea that can be turned into a story.
• Begin your writing by revising work already completed and continue onward – At the very least, you’ve polished your past day’s work and may have identified trouble spots that you need to mull over to solve.
• Stop at a good point – If you’ve had a productive writing session, put down the pen at a point where you already know what you want to write next. You will not be stymied when starting the next day.
• Keep plugging along – No matter the quality of your work or how low your sales are, don’t stop writing. The biggest mistake those who want to be writers can make is to not write.

A few writers employ rituals to help them get started writing. But most don’t as the rituals only delay the actual hard work of writing. As Isaac Asimov once said when asked about rituals, “Rituals? Ridiculous! My only ritual is to sit close enough to the typewriter so that my fingers touch the keys.”

15 Tips on How to Build a Story

• Basic guidelines for your story’s rising action  
• Develop conflicts related to resolving your story’s central problem 
• Unfold action to develop a stronger story 
• Your main character must fail 
• Your story: Thrusts and counterthrusts  
• Add ticking clock to create sense of urgency 
• What is a scene and a vignette? 
• How to build a scene for your story 
• Add ‘big scenes’ to give story some oomph 
• Don’t place part of story’s plot inside a dream
• How to construct a scene in a story  
• Remain wary of using fast-forward in story  
• Avoid violating chronology when plotting story  
• Basic guidelines for devising cliffhangers 
• Build rising action scenes around conflict 
• BONUS: “All great literature is one of two stories; a man goes on a journey or a stranger comes to town.” 

The 10 Best Tips for Writing Your Opening Scene

• What is an ‘inciting incident’ in a story?
• Use broad conflict to set your story in motion  
• Start story with event that upsets status quo  
• What does term ‘in medias res’ mean?  
• Create a riveting opener for your story 
• Focus on conflict in story’s opening lines  
• Draw readers into story with great opening lines
• How to get readers engaged in your story
• Write a great narrative hook for your story
• Avoid starting story with a cliché opening 
• BONUS: “…many beginning writers end their stories when the real story is just ready to begin.” – Stanley Schmidt 

5 Tips That Will Make You a Better Writer

• Improve your writing by dumping fuzzy words 
• Avoid using weak pushbutton words in story 
• Coax readers to eat your story’s veggies 
• What’s the difference between ‘mood’/’tone’?  
• Select right word to avoid reader confusion  
• BONUS: “Words create sentences; sentences create paragraphs; sometimes paragraphs quicken and begin to breathe.” 

Writing a Novel: 6 Tips Everyone Can Use

• Should you turn your life story into a novel?
• Don’t end novel with cliffhanger  
• Should you ever co-write your book? 
• Which is best: Character- or plot-driven stories?
• Streamline writing by cutting perception fallacy
• Coming-of-age novels follow character arc 
• BONUS: “Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights…” 

11 Tips to Help You Avoid Telling Writing

• Avoid exposition (Show, don’t tell!)  
• How to make your writing show rather than tell  
• Avoid giving readers a big info dump  
• How to get rid of info dumps in your story  
• Avoid ‘As you know’ Syndrome in fiction  
• Avoid dumping backfill into your story 
• Embedding exposition into your story
• To eliminate exposition in story, ‘film it’ 
• What if I edit out too much exposition?  
• When exposition is necessary in a story 
• Be aware of which dramatic mode you’re using  
• BONUS: “No, no! The adventures first, explanations take such a dreadful time.” – Lewis Carroll