• My Favorite Stephen King Quotes About Writing (And What We Can Learn from Them)

    My Favorite Stephen King Quotes About Writing (And What We Can Learn from Them)
    It should come as no surprise that I love Stephen King. The Master of Horror is the master for a reason–when it comes to writing, he knows what he’s talking about. Whether you enjoy his work, you can’t deny that the man does work. In fact, he’s one of the hardest-working writers I’ve come to respect–especially because he, like me, heralds the importance of “doing the work” in order to achieve writing success.

    Writer of all experience levels can learn something from Stephen King. (While we’re at it, if you haven’t read On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft yet, what are you waiting for?) With that in mind, here’s a list of my favorite Stephen King quotes about writing, as well as what we can learn from them.

    “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”

    Like I’ve mentioned, King is a writer who wholeheartedly advocates working hard, putting pen to paper or fingers to keys, and getting serious about your writing. He also believes that no amount of courses, seminars, or special training can make up for not sitting down and writing. This philosophy is encouraging–with hard work, almost anyone can become successful as a writer. Additionally, if you want to become a better writer, King recommends writing and reading as much as you can. That’s it. (It’s not exactly that easy, but that’s about the gist.)

    “Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.”

    See my previous point. (Have I mentioned that King is a dedicated worker?) In King’s opinion–and in mine–true writers don’t just write when they’re feeling inspired. Instead, they come to the blank page ready to do the work, regardless of whether any inspiration shows up.

    “tHE SCARIEST MOMENT IS ALWAYS JUST BEFORE YOU START. AFTER THAT, THINGS CAN ONLY GET BETTER.”

    Having written hundreds of novels, King understands that the hardest challenge for writers to overcome is often just getting started. Once you can overcome the mental hurdle and the anxiety that comes from staring at a blank Word document, a lot of writing is downhill from there. If you’re still having trouble getting started, check out my post about writing for just a little bit at a time.

    “To write is human, to edit is divine.”

    You must edit. No matter how good you think your first draft is (and who does that, anyway?), you won’t be able to put out a good book without editing it. This quote also insinuates that it’s okay to feel like your first draft is garbage. After all, you can always edit once you finish the draft!

    “i have spent a good many years since–too many, i think–being ashamed about what i write.”

    This issue is one I used to run into all the time. I’ve had people look down on me for writing YA or for writing darker subject matter than some of my contemporaries. With Reflections, I’ve already had some people express concerns that it’s something I shouldn’t be writing–but you know what? I don’t feel that way. And like Stephen King, I don’t think it does a writer any good to feel ashamed about what they’re writing. If you’re writing what you love, and you’re writing for yourself–both of which you should be–there’s no reason to feel anything less than happy with what you’re putting out there.

    What are your favorite quotes about writing?

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    “To write is human, to edit is divine.” @brianawrites wants to know what your favorite writing quotes are! (Click to tweet)

  • Vlog: Updates!

    Can’t believe how long it’s been since I filmed and uploaded a vlog. It’s a travesty. Anyway, I’ve had a lot going on in my life these past few months, and I’d like to share some of the happenings with you. Enjoy!

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    What have you been up to lately?

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    What the heck has @brianawrites been up to? Watch this vlog and see! (Click to tweet)

  • Using Brackets to Write Faster

    Today I’m talking about a little trick that’s saved me so much time while writing first drafts, and I’m so excited to share it with you! Sometimes, it really is the simplest things that can make the biggest difference. Give this technique a try and let me know what you think!
    Using Brackets to Write Faster

    In her book, Writing Faster FTWauthor L.A. Witt shares several techniques that have helped her write several books a year at impeccable speed. I’m a huge fan of fast drafting and picked this book up hoping to learn some useful tips and tricks to improve my writing speed. One of Witt’s favorite techniques involves the use of brackets. If, while writing, you get to a point where you don’t know what to put for a character’s name, eye color, or dialogue, toss in some brackets! Then, once you’re finished with the draft, you can search for the brackets and beef up the manuscript as needed.

    While working on the first draft of my novel Reflections, I’ve been using a lot of brackets. Most of the time, at the end of the day’s writing session, I’ll go back and replace the brackets with relevant information. But when it seems that more in-depth revision will be needed, I leave the brackets until it’s time to do my second draft. For a glimpse of what this technique looks like in action, see the excerpt below:

    With her father out of the room, the restaurant felt [adjective], cold, and unsettling. The television, which had gone to a commercial break and was blaring [description of ads], was far too loud for human ears. Rama’s hands trembled as she picked up the remote again and turned the whole thing off. She [phrase about safety even though it meant she had to face her [adjective] thoughts without any distractions.

    This paragraph isn’t my favorite passage by a long shot, but it works for the purposes of this post. While working on this snippet, I used brackets to avoid getting bogged down by words that didn’t come to my mind right away. Once I put the brackets in, all I had to do when I was finished was go back in and flesh out the details I missed. Here are the changes:

    With her father out of the room, the restaurant felt cavernous, cold, and unsettling. The television, which had gone to a commercial break and was blaring insurance ads, was far too loud for human ears. Rama’s hands trembled as she picked up the remote again and turned the whole thing off. She felt safer in the silence even though it meant she had to face her racing thoughts without any distractions.

    Interesting, right? At any rate, it’s readable. And I couldn’t have gotten that paragraph finished as quickly without using brackets.

    If you’re working on a first draft, I highly recommend using brackets when you’re drawing a blank on details. They can be used for everything from names to hair colors and even whole descriptions. Instead of getting bogged down in the details, let brackets do the heavy lifting. You can go back and fix them with the first draft is finished.

    What are your tips for writing faster? Have you ever tried using brackets?

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    Want to write faster? @brianawrites can help with that. (Click to tweet)

  • Guest Post: What Makes a Writer?

    Today’s guest post comes from my dear friend Mariella Hunt! What makes a writer? Who decides? What do you think? Check out Mariella’s thoughts, and feel free to share your opinion in the comments!
    Guest Post: What Makes a Writer?

    During NaNoWriMo, I found several controversial articles stating that writers write. It triggered so many arguments, I couldn’t help meditating on the matter. I wound up agreeing with both sides to an extent.

    We have to remember that life makes it hard to just write, and it’s unfair to disqualify someone as a writer because they can’t do it every day. Sometimes writers can’t write, and it’s not that they don’t want to. Other duties get in the way.

    These are other signs you may be a writer. Pay attention to your daily routine—maybe you’ll notice a few of them! While these aren’t all the signs, they’re the ones I found most of my writer friends relate to.

    • Writers daydream when we’re supposed to be working on chores or school. We might be unloading the dishwasher, but our minds are somewhere else—not in a messy kitchen, but the universe we’ve crafted in our books.
    • Writers get frustrated when people say writing’s not a ‘real job.’ Those people don’t know the effort it takes to craft a story, let alone a novel. They’ve never faced the challenge of focusing on a storyline when we have so many ideas. They never felt restless staring at a blank document, praying for the perfect ending to write itself. Writing is work. You’re a writer if you’re passionate about helping people understand that.
    • Writers have a habit of correcting peoples’ grammar, sometimes out loud. We might spend long hours thinking of better ways to say what that other person said. Most of us have issues with chatspeak and harbor a fascination for big words, sometimes even dead words. Because of this, we might confuse people in daily conversation and enjoy it!
    • Honest writers are never satisfied with our work. We struggle to ignore the inner editor so we can reach the end of a chapter…then we scroll up and change things again, but don’t ask because we’ll deny it! After all, editing is for later drafts…or so they say.
    • We gaze out the car window at buildings, wondering what the background music would be if we were in a movie. Our imaginations panic over situations that will never happen; they whisper solutions we’ll never need.
    • It frustrates us that we can’t write our life stories to make them more exciting or comfortable. Since we can’t write our life stories, we write novels. Most of us don’t make characters representing ourselves, but we might accidentally give protagonists our traits!
    • We’re often caught staring into space with looks of contemplation. Most of us have had to assure people multiple times that nothing is wrong—we aren’t angry, and we’re not tired. We’re plotting!
    • We carry a bit of each book we’ve read in our hearts. Even if we didn’t enjoy the read, we catalog the book as an example of what not to do in our writing.

    Sometimes you can’t write as you’d like to, but that doesn’t make you less of a writer. Writers can’t always write. It would seem a true writer is the person who always wants to write (even when they put it off. It is a lot of work!)

    If you’re too busy to just write, don’t be discouraged…you’re still a storyteller with a heart full of ideas!

    Would you add anything to this list?

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    Check out this special guest post for @brianawrites in which @mariellahunt discusses what it means to be a writer. (Click to tweet)

  • When You Need Your Own Pep Talk

    Last week, I wrote a post. This, in itself, is nothing unusual. The post was about NaNoWriMo. That also isn’t anything unusual. The unusual part, though, is that the other day, I found myself reviewing my own pep talk. Then, instead of skimming, I really started reading it. I dove in deep, swam to the bottom, watched the air bubbles floating up towards the surface. On the subject of NaNoWriMo, I’ve been treading water for a few weeks; since the thing got started, really. But I’m determined not to drown.
    When You Need Your Own Pep Talk

    If you’re behind, too, this post is for you. NaNoWriMo may be halfway over, but that doesn’t mean you should give up if you haven’t reached 25,000 words yet. I meant exactly what I said last week: you can totally do this. Keep going. Believe in yourself and the power of your work. And above all, don’t stop writing. No matter what, my darlings, never stop writing.

    Sometimes, life is hard. Sometimes, it feels like you’ll never get ahead, never come out on top. Life gets in the way of writing. And you know what? That’s okay. Sometimes, writing can’t be your top priority.

    Even if you can’t make word count every day, that’s no reason to abandon the project. NaNoWriMo is halfway finished, but that means you still have half a month to finish strong. Keep that in mind the next time you find yourself feeling down on yourself.

    And loves, for what it’s worth, I believe in all of you.

    How’s your NaNo novel going so far? What are your tips for staying motivated?

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    How’s your #NaNoWriMo novel going? Find out why @brianawrites thinks you should keep going, no matter what. (Click to tweet)

  • Vlog: 23 Things I’ve Learned About Writing

    In honor of turning 23 recently (two weeks ago!), here are 23 things I’ve learned about writing. 


     
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    What are some things you’ve learned about writing?

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    In this vlog, author @brianawrites shares 23 things she’s learned about writing. (Click to tweet)

  • The 777 Challenge

    London Tower Bridge
    I was tagged by friend and fellow writer Brett Michael Orr to participate in The 777 Challenge. Following protocol, I’m sharing seven lines from the seventh page of my current WIP, Blood and Water. (Hopefully, I’m finished with the first draft of it soon – my self-imposed deadline is my birthday on the 17, which is next week!)

    Without further ado, here’s the excerpt:

    Jay had spent the past few weeks looking for a cure. It was like Maia said—there was no help in London. He wondered if they would’ve been safer if they’d stayed in Chicago. Location didn’t matter now, but before the virus started—no, he couldn’t spend time dwelling on the “what if”s. It was Maia’s decision to move to London and his to follow after her. The virus was everywhere, and it had spread fast. Perhaps they never would have been able to avoid it.

    Now, I’m supposed to tag seven other writers to take on the challenge. Since I’m writing this blog post on a break, I don’t have much time. If you want to participate, please go ahead! And feel free to leave links to your seven lines in the comments below. 🙂

    What do you think of The 777 Challenge? Are you going to participate?

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    Check out seven lines from @brianawrites’ WIP as part of The 777 Challenge, via @brettmichaelorr. (Click to tweet)

  • Interview with Madeline Courtney

    Woman sleeping with Jane Austen book on her face
    Madeline Courtney is a lovely human being.

    I can’t remember when we met, but I know it was on Twitter.

    She is sweet, down-to-earth, and dedicated – no matter what is going on in her life, she makes it a point to update her Wattpad stories regularly. I wanted to get to know Madeline a little better, so I settled in for the following interview with her. By the end, you’ll think she’s as wonderful as I do. My questions are in bold, with her answers right after. Enjoy!

    B: When did you decide that you wanted to be a writer?

    C: I decided I wanted to be a writer… well, I’m not exactly sure when. I wrote my first story in the first grade, but I REALLY got into writing in the sixth grade. I wrote a “book” (28 notebook pages long) about a girl cursed to be followed by a vampire that would eventually kill her. It was way cool.

    B: What are some of your favorite books?

    C: This is a difficult question for me! Right now I’m totally obsessed with anything and everything Jane Austen, so… PRIDE AND PREJUDICE (of course), THE HOST by Stephenie Meyer, and FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC by V.C Andrews.

    B: What’s your writing process like? What about your routine?

    C: I have the weirdest routine. At the moment, I am a full-time writer (at least until the end of the summer. This is the deadline I give myself. After which I will find a full time job – probably at the library or Walmart or something – and write part-time), so I wake up every morning around 9:30. I have my coffee and watch SUPERNATURAL reruns until noon. Then I write from noon to three, AT LEAST. This is my crazy routine for the moment.

    B: What inspires you?

    C: Tumblr photography. It’s beautiful.

    B: What genres do you write in?

    C: I don’t have a specific genre. I can write anything… but I prefer to write fantasy or regency. These are my best genres. Sometimes I like to mix them together and create weird concoctions.

    B: You have quite the following on Wattpad. How did you find out about it? Why do you post your stories there?

    C: I found out about Wattpad through a friend. I wasn’t going to make one at first. I thought it was lame and there was no way anybody would want to read MY stories (boy, was I freaking wrong). I post my stories on Wattpad because it’s a great way to gain readers and make amazing friends. It also allows you to create a cover, which is awesome, and people can sample my writing before deciding if they really like the way I work or not. After all, you wouldn’t want someone to buy something they would end up hating, right?

    B: What do you have to say to anyone who’s afraid to post their writing online?

    C: Post whatever you feel comfortable sharing. If it frightens you, don’t do it. But I highly suggest it myself.

    B: What are you working on right now? Where can people read it?

    C: TRANSPORTED BY AUSTEN! A novel about a woman who finds herself suddenly transported into the Jane Austen novel, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE! Anyone can read it for free on Wattpad.

    B: What are some of your writing goals?

    C: I would LIKE to be able to write at least 3K words a day. That’d be cool.

    B: Where can people find you? (Website, social media, etc.)

    My Twitter, Facebook page, and Wattpad profile.

    What did you think of this interview? Would you like to be interviewed? Let me know in the comments, and make sure to check out Madeline’s work!

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    .@MaddieC123 loves Wattpad, Jane Austen, and writing – check out @brianawrites’ interview with her. (Click to tweet)