• My Top 5 Tips for Writing with Chronic Pain

    Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. With that said, I have not partnered with any of the authors or publishers for sponsorship. All recommendations and endorsements are based solely on my personal experiences.

    I have arthritis. It’s osteoarthritis, and it’s in my fingers, wrists, and elbows, among other joints. Osteoarthritis comes from overuse, but it isn’t something that goes away. I’ll be dealing with this for the foreseeable future.

    Despite my chronic pain, I still make progress with my writing. It’s difficult, but I’ve found some strategies to help. If you also struggle with moving forward in your books when dealing with a flare-up, check out my top five tips for writing with chronic pain.

    MY TOP 5 TIPS FOR WRITING WITH CHRONIC PAIN

    1. Take rest days. On days when the pain is too great, you might have to take some time off. And that’s okay! In my most recent newsletter, I talked about taking breaks when you’re feeling low. “The book will still be there when you’re feeling better.” The same holds true for chronic pain.

    2. KT tape. My friend and fellow writer Kate Mitchell recommended this one to me. If you can’t find this tape, try compression gloves. I had mixed results with those, but they might work for you. Buy KT tape here.

    3. Writing via dictation. Text to speech is an absolute godsend. I use Google Docs in Google Chrome, so dictation is built right in. If you want to use this feature, open your document, navigate to Tools, then select Voice Typing. Note: This feature only works when using Docs in Google Chrome. If you don’t use Google Docs, try Dragon or another dictation option.

    4. Communicate. As authors, we frequently have to deal with deadlines. Since I’m self-published to this point, I don’t have to worry too much about that. However, as an editor, I juggle due dates for various clients. When I’m in the midst of a terrible flare-up (like right now), I let my clients know to expect things with a delay. When you communicate what’s going on, people tend to be understanding. If they’re not, maybe they’re not the best people for you to interact with.

    5. Prioritize quality over quantity. Marathon writing sessions are phenomenal, but they can’t happen every day. If you’re in too much pain to get a lot of writing done at once, try doing a few sprints. That way, you’re still getting words down, even if you don’t think you’re getting much done. Every little bit matters.

    For more tips for managing chronic pain, check out this post with hacks for living with chronic conditions, or this one featuring tools for pain management that aren’t medications (thanks again, Kate!). Final note: I am not a medical professional. Please take all recommendations with that in mind. If you are truly having a hard time managing chronic pain, your best bet is to make an appointment with a qualified physician.

  • How to Make Writing Easier with Micro Goals

    Let me make the case to you for setting micro goals. Writing a book is a complicated process. Some days, 100 words are more than doable. Other days, it feels a gargantuan task. When I have days like the latter, what helps is telling myself I only have to write one sentence. It’s almost impossible not to talk myself into doing just that much. Usually, once I have that one sentence down, it’s enough to motivate me to keep going with the work.

    Take this blog post, for example. I told myself I was only going to write a topic sentence. But a minute or so has gone by now, and I am still writing the post. I can’t keep this little sprint going for much longer, but it’s given me a solid start. That’s the power of micro goals.

    When I’m working on a draft of a novel, I set a word count goal for 2,000 words per day. It’s been like this for as long as I can remember, maybe since college. But on days when writing feels impossible, like the last thing I would ever want to do, I lower my expectations.

    On days when I’m struggling, I focus on a much lower word count target, say, 500 words, or 100. Once, I even set a target for like, 50 words (a Very Bad Day). Still, it counted as writing, because I was getting words down. Even if my word count goal was lower than I wanted, I still got something done. That is the power of micro goals.

    So, the next time you’re struggling, lower the bar. Decrease the word count goal. This is not only good for morale, but also productivity. You’ll be surprised how much progress you’ll make.

    As I write this, I am dictating it. I’m in the middle of a pretty bad arthritis flare-up, I have it in my hands, so it makes writing difficult. I wanted to get this blog post done, however, so I set a goal to just write the next sentence. Here we are now, at the conclusion of this post. It’s going to be a short one, but I hope it helps someone as much as it’s helped me to figure this out.

    How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

  • Please, Don’t Be Afraid by Harley Randy Green

    Photo Credit: dryhead on Flickr
    Hello, this is Briana! I’m on vacation in West Virginia this week, so I’m publishing some wonderful guest posts. As soon as I’m back, we will return you to your regularly scheduled programming. Until then, enjoy!

    I wrote my first novel back in 2004, which I put into a book with my other short stories from past years. I never really read it after I was done, so I had no clue how good it was or even if it was readable. I really didn’t want anyone to read it. I was more concerned with a short story I wrote being acceptable for publication.

    Finally, I allowed my then wife to read my first novel, fix the words here and there, and maybe critique it for me. I found out the book was worse than I had imagined. Even today when I try to fix it with my own editing process, I realize how bad of a story I had previously written. However, if it were not for asking someone else to read it, I would not have learned from my experience, and my next novel would probably be just as bad as the first one.

    You also can’t learn from mistakes if you are all afraid to have others read your work. Remember, your first rough draft is not an instant American classic, and you don’t have professional editors at the ready to fix the book so it’s ready to go; so the more insight from others, the better to learn. Find yourself alpha and beta readers, people you might know a little or others you just met with many different creeds and ages in their background. This is also a great way to learn about what demographics your work lands.

    Find yourself an editor, please—specifically, an editor who you believe is reasonably priced and you can get along with. Now I know this may be difficult, but they are indispensable in the creation of your final draft. Like alpha readers, editors always find things you’ll miss. They fix them and make them better so you look like the smartest person in the room. I found mine by using a short story of mine that I knew was good but needed an editor’s touch. I find it’s a lot easier than just giving them your baby and “ripping it to shreds!” The right editor won’t do that.

    Finally, you believe the book is done; now it’s time for the critiques. This is the hardest point because you have no idea you’ll get a good review. Amazon is a prime location, but not a perfect one, for this. Don’t be afraid to ask for those more established with widely read blogs or even columns to give your book a go.

    But none of this happens unless you ask. Don’t be afraid to ask and find your thick skin. What people say, you should use constructively, not negatively unless they are just brutal and give you absolutely nothing to work with so you can fix the writing. Remember, you alone are the end all; be all to your story, but in order to get there, you cannot be afraid to ask.

    The author was born in Port Huron, Michigan where he still resides. He has had a long time fascination with science fiction, fantasy, horror, and speculative fiction.  H.R. Green has written three novels, Daemon, Shifter, and Machete Mauler, and one compilation, Listen Like Fiends.  You can visit his website here. Thanks for writing this post!

    When it comes to writing, what are you most afraid of?

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    Are you afraid to put your writing in the world? @daemondelall has something to say about that fear. (Click to tweet)

  • Vlog: A Whole New Wall

    Hi, guys! It’s been a while since I uploaded a vlog–far too long, in my opinion. Today I’m fixing that. In my most recent blog post, I talked about hitting a wall in the first draft of my WIP Reflections. I thought I solved that problem, but… now there is a whole new wall.

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    What advice do you have for getting unstuck? How do you approach plotting a novel?

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    Plotting is hard. Watch author @brianawrites talk about her plotting struggles. (Click to tweet)

  • My Upcoming Writing Projects

    Photo Credit: H is for Home on Flickr
    I think almost everyone knows by now that I’m waist-deep in the first draft of my YA urban fantasy novel Reflections. I’m over halfway through it now, which means I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. With that being said, once I finish this draft, I have no plans of slowing down. You all know me better than that.

    No, once I finish Reflections, I have some other writing business I’d like to attend to. There are several projects rolling around in my head right now, and I’d like to get them finished sometime in the next year.

    Someone on Twitter the other day asked me what my upcoming writing projects were. I realized I hadn’t shared them. I’m fixing that now.

    Here’s a (very) tentative timeline of everything I’m hoping to get done in the next twelve months and ahead into next summer:

    1. Reflections—first draft done by June, second done by August, out in August or September. It’s been a long time coming. I just hope it’s worth the wait.
    2. The Palest of Pinks—first draft done by September, second done by November, out in December. A lot of you know about this book already, but I think it will be fun. Definitely lighter fare than Blood and Water and Touch.
    3. Blood and Water #2—first draft done by February or March, second by May, out in June. I have only the vaguest idea about this book, but I am excited.
    4. Blood and Water #3—first draft done by August or September, second by November, out in December. I still can’t believe I’m doing a series and I am so scared but also thrilled to be writing it.

    Now that I look at all of that, it’s quite an ambitious timeline. Then again, I’m quite an ambitious woman, too, so maybe that works out. Of course, this is my ideal writing timeline, not accounting for real-world things such as work and travel and things of that nature. Still, it gives me something to shoot for, which helps me stay motivated.

    What are your writing goals for the next year? How do you feel about these upcoming projects?

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    .@brianawrites wants YOU to hold her accountable! Check out her writing goals for the next year. (Click to tweet)

  • How Using Stickers Saved My Writing Productivity

    How Using Stickers Saved My Writing ProductivityI love following other writers on Twitter. It’s great to get to see other authors’ processes and methods for writing productivity. I’ve mentioned how Twitter can be useful for writers before, but in case you’re still not sold on the idea, let me share a more concrete example.
    I’m not sure where exactly the idea came from—whose tweet sparked my inspiration—but a year or two ago, I discovered a unique method for increasing writing productivity. Various authors were posting pictures of paper calendars covered with stickers. Often, there were multiple stickers on different days, or different colors with different meanings. The authors using this method usually posted some kind of key with their pictures, revealing what the number and color of stickers stood for. Most of them even used this method for editing.

    It seemed so simple that I was convinced it wouldn’t work. I shoved the idea to the back of my mind. I would find another way.

    Flash forward to last month. I happened upon a pack of cute summer-themed stickers in Target’s Dollar Spot, and grabbed them up right away. I was in the middle of a writing slump and had tried almost everything. What could the sticker method hurt?

    When I got home, I decided on a simple system—one sticker each day I made some progress in my WIP. Even if I only wrote a sentence, that would translate to a sticker. And you know what? It worked.

    I couldn’t believe it. Halfway through the month of April, I realized I’d written almost every single day utilizing this method. And now into May, as you can see from the picture, I’m still going strong. I’ve even bought some more stickers to use once these are gone!

    Am I crazy? Maybe. Is this childish? Probably. But guess what—it does challenge me to keep writing each day. Every single day, in order to earn a sticker, I have to get words down. And that keeps me going.

    The next time you’re stuck, consider trying something as silly as the sticker method. Don’t be too surprised if it ends up working out.

    What are your tips for writing productivity? How do you stay motivated to keep your writing schedule?

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    How do you stay motivated while #amwriting? @brianawrites shares a surprising method that worked for her. (Click to tweet)

  • Some Snippets from REFLECTIONS

    Some Snippets from REFLECTIONS
    I just hit 10K in my urban fantasy WIP Reflections, but it feels like I’ve written so much more. Most of it is trapped inside my head, unable to make the passage from my brain to my fingers to the keyboard. I’m not sure how to fix that. At any rate, I’m making progress, so I guess I won’t complain.

    I’ve been posting some snippets of the novel on Twitter, but it’s been a while since I’ve put one up, and I haven’t been keeping you all updated as much as I’d like to. I’d like to remedy that disparity today–in this post, I’m sharing several snippets from different points in my WIP (I’m writing out of sequence). I’ll try to avoid spoilers as much as I can, but if you’d rather not risk it, feel free to click away. Otherwise, keep reading. I can’t wait to hear your thoughts! We’ll start towards the beginning:

    Standing in front of the dressing room mirror, Rama hated what she saw. The dress was as awful as all of the others—too tight in some places, too low in others, and too short around her thighs. As she studied her reflection, she wanted to throw up. She prayed for the ground to open up and swallow her before Myra asked her what was wrong, why she was taking so long, and whether she planned to buy the dress.
    There were too many questions, and she didn’t feel like answering any of them. They were all too complicated, and she didn’t have the patience.

    Here’s one from a little later in the novel, somewhere around the middle:

    Rama hadn’t thought about the investigation for over a week when Leda came to her in the cave. Her hands were on her hips and her face was stern. Rama set down the pitcher she’d filled with water. She didn’t have time for a lecture, but she doubted Leda cared.
    “Can we make this quick?” Rama asked. “I have to meet with Vincent.”
    “Ramachandra.” It was the first time she’d heard Leda use her full name, and the inflection in her voice made Rama’s skin prickle.
    “What is it? What’s wrong?”
    Leda’s eyes shifted around the room. “Why don’t you have a seat? Please.”

    And last but not least, here’s a little snippet from the end. Again, I’ll try to avoid giving anything away:

    “We need to talk to Vincent,” Rama said at dinner.
    “We?” Leda asked.
    “I can’t do it without you.” She stared at her hands, folded in her lap, and tried to choose the right words. “Leda, when I came here… I had no idea who I was or what I was doing. I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror without feeling sick.” Rama took a breath and risked a look at Leda. She was smiling. “Living here has changed me. You’ve taught me so much—not just about shifting, but about being comfortable in my own skin.”
    “Oh,” Leda said, “I didn’t teach you—”
    “Please,” Rama said. “I need your help. Come talk to Vincent with me. That’s all I ask.”

    There’s so much more of this novel I’d like to share with you guys, but I think everything else is a spoiler. Of course, I could just go ahead and write the novel as fast as I can so–oh, yeah. Actually, I think I’m going to do just that. God willing, I’ll have it out as soon as I possibly can.

    I love you guys so much. I just want you to know that.

    What are you working on right now? What do you think of these snippets?

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    Curious about #Reflections? In this post, author @brianawrites shares some snippets from her latest novel. (Click to tweet)

  • Writing Resolutions for 2016

    Like I mentioned in my previous post, 2015 was a big year for me. Here’s hoping 2016 will be even bigger. This year, I want to do everything I can to improve my writing. I’m always looking to improve, and I won’t give up on my dreams. I want to make some serious progress in the next twelve months. With that in mind, I’m sharing my list of writing resolutions for 2016.
    Writing Resolutions for 2016

    It should come as no surprise that I’m a fan of setting goals. Last year, I set goals for my birthday and for the end of autumn. I keep a running goals list in my planner to remind me of what I’m working towards. Having these goals written somewhere that I’ll see them every day keeps me focused and motivated. The goals apply to all aspects of my life, including health, finance, work, education, social intelligence, and even writing.

    As we move into the new year, I’m more focused than ever on my writing career. With that in mind, here are my writing resolutions for 2016:

    • Publish Reflections. I’m working on the first draft now and making solid progress. I haven’t felt this strongly about a novel in a while–I could’t stop thinking about this story while editing Blood and Water. That’s got to count for something.
    • Publish The Palest of Pinks. I wouldn’t normally challenge myself to put out two novels in a year, but I have almost 30K of this one written already, so it shouldn’t be impossible.
    • Update the blog one or twice per week. Three times per week is too much. If I go with once or twice a week (leaning more towards once), that takes off some pressure, and the quality of the posts will improve.
    • Post one vlog per week. For now, this frequency works. If I get much busier, I may have to scale back to one every two weeks.
    • Send out newsletter every two weeks. Or maybe once a month. I haven’t decided. Let me know what you think, please!
    • Get more editing clients. Now that I’m writing and editing full-time, I need to do whatever I can to make sure I can pay the bills. If you know someone who needs an editor, feel free to give my name out!
    • Swap more work with betas. I owe so much to my Blood and Water betas. For Reflections, I’ll definitely need some betas, and maybe even alphas once I’ve finished the first draft.
    • Take something out of the drawer. There are so many novels I tried to write in high school and college. Maybe, just maybe, one of them has potential. At any rate, they might be fun to take out and read–if nothing else, just to see how far I’ve come since then.
    • Get featured on a podcast. I don’t know why I want to do this, but I definitely want to do this.
    • Do more interviews. This resolution is more marketing-related and goes along with the above. Still, since I used to be so shy, I want to work on opening up to people and sharing what’s important to me.

    These are just a few of my writing resolutions for 2016. I’m sure I’ll come up with more as the year goes by, and I’ll try to keep you all updated on my progress as well. Let me know what resolutions you have for the coming year so we can hold each other accountable!

    What are your writing resolutions for 2016?

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    What are your writing resolutions for 2016? Check out @brianawrites’ goals for the next year. (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)