If anyone reads this, I trust they will forgive my overuse of I. I can’t stop it. I’m writing this. – Jonathan Franzen

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Professional Book Editor: Having your novel, short story or nonfiction manuscript proofread or edited before submitting it can prove invaluable. In an era where you face heavy competition, your writing needs a second eye to give you the edge. I can provide that second eye.


"Reading is the creative center of a writer's life." - Stephen King

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Professional Book Editor: Having your novel, short story or nonfiction manuscript proofread or edited before submitting it can prove invaluable. In an economic climate where you face heavy competition, your writing needs a second eye to give you the edge. I can provide that second eye.


5 Must-Dos for a Successful NaNoWriMo

Every year, 26557_34269_6b5ca837101170f337bd3a44d09c84d2more than a half-million writers participate in National Novel Writing Month with the goal of penning a 50,000-word novel during November. Unfortunately, many of them fall short of their objective while others who did complete the novel found doing so extremely stressful or realize that what they’ve written wasn’t all that good.

Kudos, though, to all of those writers who participated, even if they didn’t finish their novels. Writing a book – even part of one – is no easy task. And most writers, whether successful or not at NaNoWriMo, grow in their craft simply from the effort.

Of course, the goal is to finish your book. How can you do that...or at least reduce the stress of writing one or come up with something publishable by Dec. 1? Here are five “secrets” that most successful NaNoWriMo participants know.

TIP 1: Don’t Wait Until November to Start
Get started early in October. Spend the month brainstorming and outlining your plot, characters and settings. The more detailed the outline, the better, as writing during November then will be just a matter of turning notes into complete sentences and paragraphs as well as fleshing out details and ensuring your writing has flair. In short, November is about writing the first draft not coming up with a story idea, developing characters and storylines, or deciding which point of view is best. And no, you are not cheating by starting early.

TIP 2: Block Out Time Every Day to Write
Your goal is to write 1667 words a day, and doing that from an outline might require a half-hour, an hour, or even more. Determine in advance roughly how much time is needed; during a three-day weekend, set aside the morning of each day to write. Time how long it takes you each day to hit 1667 words and then average it. If that number is 45 minutes, then you must set aside 45 minutes every day in which you will not be interrupted by family members, in which you unplug the cell phone and Internet and television, in which you focus solely on writing.

TIP 3: Keep Writing if You Can
Of course, writing for 45 minutes a day for 30 days straight when you have family, work and holidays is difficult at best. And don’t forget that November usually is cold and flu season. So always work ahead on your word count. If you reach 1667 words in just 30 minutes one day, keep writing for the next 15 minutes. That puts you 800+ words closer to meeting the next day’s word count. And should you find that you have 50 minutes or an hour rather than 45 minutes to write one day, take advantage of the opportunity and keep going.

TIP 4: Don’t Edit
Rather than spend your writing time editing yesterday’s work or revising what you just wrote five minutes before, let it go. Treat your writing sessions as drafting sessions in which your goal is to simply get to 1667 words. You can fix the spelling, capitalization, punctuation, awkward wording, misused word, weak description, poor dialogue, and passive voice later. In fact, that’s why we have December. Yes, revising and editing is an important part of the writing process, but your sole focus during November ought to be on drafting.

TIP 5: Don’t Stop Thinking Once You’ve Stopped Drafting
Once your writing session is over for the day, don’t stop thinking about your story. Review your outline to see what comes next and then through the day keep working on it in your head as you fold laundry, set in a meeting, prepare dinner, pick up the kids, brush your teeth, walk the dog...you get the idea: You develop and play out in your mind what you will write the next day. Carry a pen and notepad with you to write down great lines, details and ideas so you don’t forget them!

Professional Book Editor: Having your novel, short story or nonfiction manuscript proofread or edited before submitting it can prove invaluable. In an economic climate where you face heavy competition, your writing needs a second eye to give you the edge. I can provide that second eye.



Four writing prompts: Abandonment

Good stories Dark-1283752_1920center on the clashing of characters’ goals and motivations. Sometimes a character’s goals and motivations arise from the seeking of acceptance. Here are four writing prompts for stories that center on conflicts over abandonment.

Man vs. man
Two people with trusts issues because they’ve been abandoned by others suddenly find themselves in a situation where they must learn to have faith in one another. How do they overcome their internal resistance to trust and the other’s efforts to prevent a connection?

Man vs. society
What happens when a person who leaves his hometown and strikes it rich comes back willing to spend money? Will some people question why he abandoned them in the first place and be distrustful of his motives? Or will his money squelch any suspicions? And why did he return anyway?

Man vs. God(s)
A teenager or young adult whose parents died in a senseless accident now feels that God has abandoned her. How is she able to regain her faith? Or does the abandonment lead to a personal enlightenment about what being human means?

Man vs. himself
A son has not talked to his father in years (or a daughter-mother) after the parent left the son’s mother many years ago. The father, his years rapidly cathcing up with him, reaches out to his son. Can the son, after years of anger and bitterness, find the ability to forgive his father?

Professional Book Editor: Having your novel, short story or nonfiction manuscript proofread or edited before submitting it can prove invaluable. In an economic climate where you face heavy competition, your writing needs a second eye to give you the edge. I can provide that second eye.



Should you set aside a regular time to write?

More importantly 01 than setting aside a space to write, writers must set set aside time to write. The only way to become a published author, after all, is to produce a manuscript that can be published. If you instead wait for inspiration to strike, it may come so rarely that years could be spent penning just a draft of a novel.

To write every day requires self-discipline. While “forcing” yourself to do so initially may be difficult, eventually you build up writing momentum; that is, you train your brain to be creative and frequently will end the session even knowing what you want to write the next day.

There are several ways you can build momentum during those first difficult days:
Come to your writing session knowing what you will write – All too often novice writers head to a coffeeshop or library to write but once there have no idea what they will write about. Always come to a writing session at least knowing what scene in your story you will write.
Change your location – Sometimes the space you write in negatively affects the time you spend writing. There may be too much noise, too many interruptions from family and friends, or too many distractions. If you’re not productive in an environment, change it until you find one where words are able to flow.
Write with a partner – I don’t mean co-author a book but sit at the same table with another person who also wants to write. The presence of another writer polices your bad habit of procrastination and actually helps you focus. Sometimes you can find writers willing to do such such sprints on Twitter or other social media.

Be realistic about how much time you set aside to write. If you block out several hours a day to write, you probably will find that for much of the day you have no creative steam and achieve nothing.

Finally, some caveats:
Be flexible – Often you can’t write the same time every day because of work obligations, travel, family responsibilities, and other hindrances to a set schedule. On such days, write earlier or later than usual, so if you always write between 5 and 6 a.m. but can’t one day, then do so for an hour later in the afternoon or evening when you can.
Not every writing session will be successful – Some days the words you write will need a major revision, some days they will be almost perfect just as you wrote them. Don’t let the “bad” writing days bother you. At least you wrote, and rest assured because of it you are improving as a writer.
Take a break – Sometimes you need to recharge your batteries, so every seventh day, don’t write. You might set aside that hour to read writing tips or to revise your manuscript.

Professional Book Editor: Having your novel, short story or nonfiction manuscript proofread or edited before submitting it can prove invaluable. In an economic climate where you face heavy competition, your writing needs a second eye to give you the edge. I can provide that second eye.



My Writing Process for Fiction and Nonfiction

As the 06 author of more than 30 books, several of which have topped Amazon.com’s bestseller’s list for their genre, writers often ask me how I write them – that is, what process do I follow... if I even use a process.

I definitely follow several steps when working on a book.

Writing process
The first step without a doubt is brainstorming, or coming up with the idea. It is that first mad scribble of notes about my characters, their conflicts, and the setting the story will occur. If writing nonfiction, it’s the book’s topic, a vague list of key points about the topic, and how my book will be different from others already written about the subject.

Once I settle on a specific topic, I move on to outlining. Getting down to work, I develop a scene-by-scene plan for what will occur in the story. For nonfiction, it’s a chapter-by-chapter listing of the key points and subpoints. I also do the bulk of my researching in this phase of the project.

From there, I begin drafting. The outline is fleshed out into actual written scenes from the start of the story to its end while for nonfiction the key points are written as articles with a paragraph or two on each subpoint. I usually write several drafts of my book.

Revising comes after the first draft is written. This ranges from correcting typos to rewriting whole scenes or sections of a chapter. With each set of revisions from the first to the last page, I create a new draft of the book.

Lastly, after several drafts, I arrive at a “final” version, bringing me to the formatting step. My final draft is structured so that it can be published as a paper book or an ebook.

To be clear, this process is nonlinear. While in a macro sense the steps are followed in the order listed, in reality I go back and forth between them. I’m often still brainstorming as outlining, trying to figure out what is the best climax to my story or what will be all of the key points needed for my nonfiction book. I’m always revising as drafting, correcting typos and rewriting poor lines of dialogue penned the day before or reworking the transitions between main points with a nonfiction book’s chapters. I even create a new outline for specific scenes when revising, as I decide the interaction between the characters just doesn’t work or that a key point is missing and must be added to my nonfiction tome.

But for almost every single paragraph written, I go through each of those five steps. Rarely does one just pop into my head with no need of an edit.

Benefits
Why do I bother to go through all of that work?

Mainly because it forces me to think about what I’m writing, which typically results in a more complete and sophisticated work. Only a novice will sit down at the coffee shop, write for a few hours, and think he’s come away with a perfect, ready to publish story (Though sometimes, but very, very rarely, a true genius does this!). Writing typically involves a lot of mental sweat, and recognizing that you need to do a lot of exercising is vital to getting a chiseled body or that perfect book.

But there’s another benefit, in terms of productivity – the process saves me time. If I outline, I don’t have to start all over when my unplanned first draft turns out to be a structural mess. If I draft and revise several times, I don’t have to constantly reformat my book because I’ve decided later that I really need to rewrite it.

If you find you either aren’t as creative or as productive as you’d like, then consider using a process. The one I follow is tried and true, used by many writers before me...and will be by many great writers long after me. I hope you’ll be among those respected authors.

Professional Book Editor: Having your novel, short story or nonfiction manuscript proofread or edited before submitting it can prove invaluable. In an economic climate where you face heavy competition, your writing needs a second eye to give you the edge. I can provide that second eye.



Top 5 Habits All Writers Should Possess

Despite widely 17varying writing styles, almost all writers share several common habits that help ensure their success.

Drawing upon my experience working as an editor with hundreds of authors and having read far more interviews of or essays by writers, I’ve noticed five common habits among them. Any time an aspiring author asks me what they can do to become a better writer, I automatically recommend adopting those habits.

They are...

TIP 1: Read Every Day
Read great literature and read the best writing in your favorite genre. Pay attention to what makes it quality writing. For every five great books you read, read a poorly written one to see if you can recognize why it doesn’t work. People learn largely by observing then modeling what we saw – kids, for example, imitate their favorite athletes’ moves – and writers are no different. In fact, modeling a work you love by trying to write a story, line by line, just as the author did, is a great way to master the craft of writing and storytelling.

TIP 2: Write Every Day
You can’t be a musician unless you play a musical instrument, and you can’t be a painter unless you paint. Likewise, you can’t be a writer unless you write. The more you write, the better you’ll get, just as a would-be guitarist becomes the next Clapton or Frampton by constantly playing and practicing and experimenting with his six-string. Of course, you can take a day off now and then to recharge, just as a jogger waits 48 hours between runs to let her muscles heal and avoid overstressing them. But if you want to win the race – or hit No. 1 on the bestsellers list – then you must write far more days than not.

TIP 3: Follow a Writing Process
Pantsers (Those who write without an outline) really are one of three kinds of writers: geniuses (a rare few of them); poor writers just doing it for fun (many of them); or deluded (most of them). I say “deluded” because they actually are using a writing process – they’re just doing it in their head rather than jotting on paper ideas they’ve brainstormed, outlines of their plot, or bios of their characters. All of it’s up in their head. Most would be more productive if they wrote it down, however. The simple – and almost always nonlinear – steps in the writing process are: brainstorming; outlining; drafting; revising; and placing some revised draft into a final, publishable form.

TIP 4: Read Up on the Craft Itself
Articles about how to write better will help you think about problems in your writing that you’ve never recognized before. It’ll help you come up with solutions to plot and character and point of view issues that have perplexed you. You’ll find that most editors, published authors, literary agents, and creative writing teachers all dispense the same advice – use active voice, make conflict the heart of your story, show don’t tell, and so on. Mastering just those three bits of sage advice will make your writing a hundred times better.

TIP 5: Live Like a Writer
No, I don’t mean dress in all black and hang out all day at coffeeshops. (Though that is a lot of fun.) Rather, you must act and think like a writer. All writers, no matter what genre they write in, are observant, take an interest in all that’s around them, and ask questions, always believing that everything they see and hear and smell and feel and taste some how some way can find itself into their story. Ideas tumble around in their heads all the time, and they thirst for media and conversations in which the same is happening to whoever they are listening to or talking with. They think and speak like they want to write, using active verbs rather passive voice, offering concrete details rather than abstractions, and telling instead of showing. In short, they are writer 24/7 not just during the few minutes a day they sit in front of a computer screen or a composition book.

Professional Book Editor: Having your novel, short story or nonfiction manuscript proofread or edited before submitting it can prove invaluable. In an economic climate where you face heavy competition, your writing needs a second eye to give you the edge. I can provide that second eye.



Which is best: Writing at home or a public space?

One key 05to being a productive and creative writer is determining which place – home alone or in a public place like a library, coffeeshop or cafe.

Famous authors differ in their preference. Franz Kafka wrote at home but only when his entire family had left. Emily Dickinson rarely left her house and later in life her bedroom. Other writers liked the hustle and bustle of coffee shops and parks. Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir often spent hours at a time writing their novels and essays in Paris cafes.

And some select truly odd places to write. Vladimir Nabokov, for example, liked to write in the backseat of his car as his wife drove.

So where’s the best place to write for you to write – alone in your home or at a public place (We’ll presume you’re not an oddball like Nabokov)?

At first glance, each place is fraught with perils to your writing time.

Writing at home usually means distractions galore, such as wondering if the laundry is done, seeing the dirty dishes in the sink while up your coffee mug, or realizing you really should vacuum the floors as gazing over your laptop to think through the wording of your next sentence. In short, your home gives the writer in you a thousand reasons to procrastinate.

Writing in public often means a loud, chaotic noise, as people talk and laugh or an occasional plate is dropped. And then there’s the nauseating perfume of the lady sitting near you and in winter the cold rush of air that freezes you every time someone opens the door.

Considering this, it’s surprising that any writing gets done by anyone at all.

But of course it does.

That’s because most writers thrive in one environment or the other. They’re able to focus and feed off of either the quiet of home or the clamor of a public place. A few even are able to write in both situations.

To find which works best for you may mean experimenting with each location a little. It also may mean making a few adjustments.

Tips on writing at home
To be a more productive and creative writer in your home, you may want to:
Do housework in brief breaks – To avoid eye strain, you should quit looking at your computer screen every 10-15 minutes. Keep those breaks to 30 seconds (set a timer if you must) to fold a few clothes, wash a couple of dishes, and to set the bleach and sponge on the bathroom sink. Then get back to writing.
Refocus the view from your workspace – Turn your desk or place it in a spot where you can’t see anything else in the house. For example, the view from my work desk is the tree-lined backyard from a large picture window. The green leaves and singing birds are peaceful but not distracting. Fill a carafe with coffee or tea so you don’t need to get up for it.
Turn off everything – That means no television, no cell phone, no window opened to your email (even if it’s minimized)...maybe even no music playing in the background. Don’t give these distractions an opportunity to eat away your writing time.

Tips on writing in public space
To be a more productive and creative writer in a public space, you may want to:
Select the right atmosphere – Not all coffeeshops, cafes or libraries look alike. Some are very stark with postmodern furniture while others are quite homey. Some attract mainly college kids while others are for the office crowd. Some are loud spots where people mainly visit while others are hushed and full of readers and studiers. Some of these moods and tones will nourish while others will quash your creativity.
Go when those places aren’t busy – If you like the liveliness of a coffee shop or cafe but don’t want it too lively, then write when there are only a few customers. Every spot is a little different in its customer flow, so you may need to go at various times to see what works best.
Find a spot that’s tucked away – Just as you would refocus your workspace when writing from home, find a table that’s not next to a major aisle for customers. One with a great view that keeps you from looking at other customers is optimal. A back corner is a good idea, as it keeps people from glancing over your shoulder at what you’re writing.
Don’t sign into the local Wi-Fi – The temptation to check your email and look at Facebook will be just too great. Turn off your cell phone while you’re at it too.
Wear earbuds – If the background buzz gets too loud while you’re in the writing groove, don some earbuds to block out the noise. You may even listen to music turned down low enough that it’s an additional sound barrier but doesn’t distract you.

Professional Book Editor: Having your novel, short story or nonfiction manuscript proofread or edited before submitting it can prove invaluable. In an economic climate where you face heavy competition, your writing needs a second eye to give you the edge. I can provide that second eye.



"Inspiration is a guest that does not willingly visit the lazy." - Pyotr Tchaikovsky

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Professional Book Editor: Having your novel, short story or nonfiction manuscript proofread or edited before submitting it can prove invaluable. In an economic climate where you face heavy competition, your writing needs a second eye to give you the edge. I can provide that second eye.


"If the writing is honest it cannot be separated from the man who wrote it." - Tennessee Williams

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Professional Book Editor: Having your novel, short story or nonfiction manuscript proofread or edited before submitting it can prove invaluable. In an economic climate where you face heavy competition, your writing needs a second eye to give you the edge. I can provide that second eye.