Month: August 2014

Writing Update: Make the Most of Your Vacation

Four months have passed since my last writing update, so I wanted to post a quick one now that summer was winding down. To those of you who were paying attention, you might have noticed that there was a lapse in my blog posting last week – and that’s because I was on vacation. I purposefully avoided the internet, so therefore: no blog post.

I not only encourage you to take a vacation if you haven’t in awhile, but I also encourage writers to write while on vacation. I find that removing yourself from comfortable surroundings can inspire you to overcome writer’s road blocks, and vacations are wonderful opportunities to overhear great lines and accents. Even if it’s just jotting ideas down on napkins or in a journal, TBTL (To Be Transcribed Later), it’s worth it.

Here are a few tips for writers on how to make the most of your vacation.

RELAX

This might seem obvious, but sometimes for writers, it’s hard to have true “down time” because whenever you’re not doing something, you think, “Well, I could be writing…” But relaxing and spending time with your friends, family, or doing something you love (other than writing) can also help you work through those tough spots that you might be having in your writing. Everyone deserves a little break, so remember to relax when you’re on vacation. It’ll help invigorate you when you get back.

GO OLD SCHOOL

In the age of iPads, tablets, Google Glass, and e-readers, if you can – I recommend going “old school” on vacation. Bring a reader if you must, but choose a legal pad or journal over your laptop. Reconnect with handwriting and give your eyes a rest from the computer screen as well. If you bring your computer, you might be more tempted to do work. You can still write on paper, in a notepad, or on a device like a NEO (if you really want that keyboard typing speed). A journal keeps you more mobile, and you don’t have to worry about recharging it or breaking its screen. Added plus: paper doesn’t produce glare in the sunlight.

KEEP AN OPEN MIND (AND OPEN EARS)

You’re on vacation, so take yourself out of your comfort zone. Say “yes” to activities even if you might feel a bit hesitant of them. Sample new foods and allow yourself to be open to new experiences. These can often lead to new ideas for scenes, conversation, and stories you can write later. On my recent vacation, I was reminded of things (e.g., putt-putt, tie dye, sneaking candy into laser light shows) that I hadn’t thought about in years… and I generated a couple ideas from them.

PAY ATTENTION TO DIALOGUE

I love listening to conversations and hearing accents and idioms in different places. I was vacationing down on the Jersey shore, and heard people who spoke with a different cadence, different emphasis, and different idioms – and trust me, I was writing them down. Pay attention to the small things – like how people answer questions, or what words they use for certain items. Syntax and word choice can convey so much in a character. Also, something that has always been helpful for me – I get to hang around nephews and nieces and hear how they speak. Because if you have a character who is 4.5, or 6, or 8, you don’t want them all sounding the same. If you’re not a parent, ask your friends or relatives for some funny “kid stories” – everyone has them, and some of them can be great tidbits to add to your characters or into your stories. Kids can create unique metaphors, and have an amazing view of the world – especially if they are trying to understand or describe something they’ve never seen or experienced before. So pay attention!

WRITE IT DOWN

As important to paying attention is writing it down. You might think that you’ll never forget what you just heard, or that you’ll write it down later when you have a bit more time… but trust me, the brain can only hold so much and if you’re anything like me – you’ll get back to your room and think, “Wait, I remember that I heard this great thing I wanted to use in my novel… what was it?” It only takes a moment, especially if you have a small notepad or journal, to write down what you’ve just heard. Napkins or scraps of paper can work as temporary in-betweens as well. You can even open up your phone and add the tidbit into Notepad (text-to-speech is so helpful), but again – I think it’s quicker to just go back to the basics and write it down. You can compile all your napkin scraps and notes later into one more organized collection of thoughts, story ideas, and dialogue once you’re back at your computer or even on the plane ride / car ride home.

As a writer, do you have any other ways to make the most of your vacation? Share your thoughts in the comments section!

Top 15 Buzzfeed Quizzes for Writers

Ah Buzzfeed and your never-ending treasure trove of quizzes. I began reminiscing about all the Buzzfeed quizzes I’ve taken over the years (never while supposedly concentrating on work, of course) and I wanted to share my picks for the Top 15 Buzzfeed Quizzes for Writers.

The Top 15 Buzzfeed Quizzes for Writers

15. What Game of Thrones Character Are You?

Why? Because I got Daenerys, that’s why.

14. Which Classic Author Is Your Soulmate?

I know you want to know…

13. What Grade Are You Getting in Life?

Because writers love to judge themselves.

12. Are You Actually An Introvert?

I know the stereotypical writer is supposed to be, but are you? Really? By the way, once you take that quiz, how about this article that asks, Are You Really Secretly Just a Narcissist Masquerading as a Sensitive Introvert?

11. How Many of the Greatest Books By Women Have You Actually Read?

Because part of being a writer is thinking you should read more. Even if you’ve read a lot.

10. What Font Are You?

Because I’ve gotten into too-serious discussions about the benefits of Tahoma versus Futura, or why Comic Sans is the devil.

9. Test Your Grammar With Beyonce and Friends

Because ever since “Ironic” ruined everything, you wonder – has it gotten better?

8. Which Beat Generation Writer Are You?

Because they were cool.

7. What Does Your Handwriting Actually Say About You?

Because who other than writers actually literally writes anymore?

6. What Children’s Book Character Are You?

Ah, references that might endure.

5. How Badly Do You Suffer From Writer’s Block?

Because obviously Writer’s Block and procrastination are both issues for you, if you’ve gotten this far down this list.

4. What Should Your Signature Drink Be?

Because that generalization about writers and drinking? Yeah, it’s legit.

3. Can You Guess the Book From the Quote?

Again with the knowledge testing.

2. Which Jane Austen Heroine Are You?

Because Jane Austen.

1. How Much Do You Care About Grammar? 

Because my coworkers told me to take this and found the number I checked not only amusing, but predictable.

BONUS ROUND! For the Los Angeles writers, just because it correctly guessed where I do live: Where In Los Angeles Should You Live

Care to share your answers? Have another favorite Buzzfeed quiz you’ve taken that writers might enjoy? Share in the comments section!

25 Hashtags for Writers to Know and Use

Hashtags, it wasn’t long ago that you were only a lowly pound sign (#) on a phone keypad. Look how you’ve grown. Now hashtags are everywhere. On Facebook, Instagram, Pintrest, and―of course―Twitter. But what are hashtags and why should we use them? This article shares 25 hashtags for writers to know and use.

The Power of Hashtags on Twitter

If you’re not a Twitter user or you’ve only recently built your Twitter page, let’s briefly explain the power of hashtags on Twitter. Hashtags are how you categorize your tweets, and how―if you’re looking for a specific group of tweets on Twitter―you can quickly do a search. An example. Let’s say you want to look up independent publishers, or get general updates about the industry. You could go on Twitter and search for the hashtag #IndiePublisher. Twitter will show you every tweet that includes that #hashtag.

The Hashtag Difference

Hashtags are different than other ways of categorization because they are self-added by the individual. Twitter isn’t deciding what tweets to show you based on its data – it is showing you the tweets that individuals have self-determined fit into these categories.

Know Your Hashtag

You can create your own hashtag, but if you do, keep in mind that hashtags generally should be easily typed and understood by others. While there are more ironic hashtags that are used and purposefully long (e.g., #Ireallywantagrilledcheeserightnow), generally the most popular and searched hashtags are shorter, and easy to remember.

Hashtags also do not contain punctuation (again, normally), and don’t necessarily need to follow capitalization rules unless you want to emphasize a certain word or keep the message clear.

And remember, hashtags do count towards your 140 character limit. So plan your words accordingly.

Here is my list of the 25 Hashtags for Writers to Know and Use, with a brief note for each.

#FF or #FollowFriday …….. every Friday on Twitter, you can promote some of your friends or followers to the world. Use this hashtag to showcase some of your favorites, and oftentimes you’ll be showcased as well.

#FP or #FridayPhrases …….. on Fridays, share some of your writing with the Twitter universe. Tweet out 140 characters of whatever you’ve been working on, or want to share, and watch the retweets grow.

#MustRead …….. If you’re promoting a book or you’ve just read something that has blown your mind, add this hashtag to let your followers know. You can add this hashtag if you haven’t read a book, but you want to let others know it’s on your “To Read” List.

#GreatReads …….. A different variation of the #MustRead hashtag, that again promotes a book. You can use this if you’ve just read a book that you think others should add to their lists.

#amwriting …….. Show the world you’re on task and writing. 

#IndieAuthor …….. If you’re discussing or sharing something that Independent Authors might find valuable, add this hashtag on.

#WriteTip …….. If you’re sharing tips or blog posts about writing, this is a good hashtag to use.

#NaNoWriMo …….. The “official” hashtag for November Novel-Writing Month. Write your novel in a month, with encouragement from others doing the same

#WritersLife …….. If you’re talking about something that only other writers would get, use this hashtag. Example? I just realized I haven’t talked to another human being in person for five hours straight. #writerslife

#PromoTip …….. If you’ve got any great tips on how to promote your work, add this hashtag.

#writingcontests …….. Great for sharing a writing contest you’ve found or are applying to.

#WroteToday …….. Give a bit of a humble brag (you deserve it!) after you’ve had a successful writing session.

#AuthorRT …….. If you’re helping promote another writer’s book, or you want others to retweet, add this.

#BookGiveaway …….. A longer one, but still if you’re providing a shortened URL to a free book giveaway (or even not free), add this hashtag.

#Novelines …….. Quoting from your work? Loving a line from someone else’s? Add this when you share.

#LitChat …….. Have a question for your fellow writers? Want to share a literary event? Add this hashtag.

#WW or #WritersWednesday …….. Wednesdays on Twitter is for writers. Add this hashtag as you write and share on hump day.

#WANA (We Are Not Alone) …….. While it sometimes might seem like the opposite, it’s not! Add this hashtag to any tidbits you want share as you work. You are not alone!

#WritingPrompt …….. Sharing a writing prompt? Use this hashtag! (Or, conversely, if you’re looking for writing prompts, search for this).

#FridayReads …….. What are you reading lately? You can use this to search for books to add to your list, or share what you’ve been reading.

#TeaserTues …….. If you’re promoting a book, celebrate Teaser Tuesday by providing a bit of your work to your Twitter audience. Great for comparison tidbits or promotion.

#WIP (Work in Progress) …….. Working through a tough spot and want some feedback? Use this hashtag.

#writegoal …….. Setting a writing goal and want some accountability? Share it on Twitter and add this hashtag.

#vss (Very Short Story) …….. Flash fiction piece? 140 character story? (Well, 136 with this hashtag), add this to your share.

#writersquote …….. I love me some writer’s quotes, so share this when you share out those great quotes we love to read.

What are your favorite hashtags? Did I miss one? Share your thoughts in the comments section, and keep writing! #writegoal

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