The Writer's Cookbook

Writing, productivity, publishing.

Page 2 of 18

Don’t Myth Out on Writing Competitions!

There are hundreds of writing competitions held every year, often with tempting prizes, yet many writers don’t enter.

There might be good reasons for this in some cases, but I’ve heard many that simply don’t hold water.

I’ve won 25 writing competitions and literary awards, and part of the reason why is that I’ve ignored some of the myths that prevent writers from entering and winning. I’ve also judged both poetry and prose competitions, so I know what not to do!

Give yourself the best chance by not falling for these common myths:

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6 Writing Myths That Are Holding You Back

We’ve all dreamt of creating a world as well-respected and worshipped as J.K.Rowling’s Wizarding World. We’d be lying if we said that we didn’t. Unfortunately, this just isn’t possible for most of us. It’s sad, but true. While it’s important to aim big, it’s also important to be realistic in what we can achieve as writers. The truth is, no matter what path we choose, fewer and fewer writers each year make a living from what they write, whether it’s fiction, nonfiction, or even journalism.

Here are 6 writing myths and the realities behind them.

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7 Simple Ways to Find Your Writing Voice

As writers, it’s our writing voice that keeps our readers coming back. It’s what makes us stand out from other writers, what connects us to our readers, and how we express to our readers what we’re all about.

The best writing voices make it seem effortless, like they’re sat across from you drinking coffee. Their voices are clear, concise, and friendly.

Whether you’re writing fiction or creative nonfiction (including blogs, copy, and even some newspaper articles), you shouldn’t try to sound too academic or verbose. While these traits are fine in corporate or academic writings, they’re the opposite of what your average reader is looking for.

The average attention span these days is just eight seconds, so if you want people to keep coming back, they need to be able to digest your writing quickly and easily.

But how do you get to that point?

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Social Media for Writers: Which Platforms You Need to be on, Based on What You Write

Having a web presence is essential for all writers in the twenty-first century.

Whether you write fiction, poetry, scripts, nonfiction or all of the above, social media can help to boost your audience.

Having an already-established audience makes agents and publishers more likely to pick up your work because you’ve already got a guaranteed audience to sell your books to. It’s a tough market out there, and the more you can do to prove to agents and publishers that you already have people who will buy your books, the more interested they’ll be.

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How to Read Like a Writer

By far, the best writers I’ve ever met are the ones with English Literature degrees. This is no coincidence: these people read books like some of us drink coffee, or big cars guzzle fuel. They read fast, they read often, and they read actively.

Reading actively is the key to being a better writer.

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7 Life-Changing Books Every Writer Needs to Read

What I love the most about being a writer is that the journey is never over. There is always more to learn, and always things we can do to improve.

The number one thing we can do to improve is read. Reading not only teaches us what other writers in our genre are doing, but it also subconsciously improves our language and empathy skills. Reading puts us into the characters’ minds, allowing us to be as close to walking in another person’s footsteps as we can get without being telepathic.

There are lots of books for writers out there. Up until I started my MA, I’d read very few of them. When I started my MA, I made an effort to read more of them.

Since then, I’ve branched out into reading nonfiction in general. I’d never judged fiction by its genre in the past, so why did I just nonfiction so harshly?

I’d always assumed nonfiction meant boring.

It really, really, doesn’t.

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My Writing Goals for 2017

I achieved a lot in 2016, but it’s always important to look onwards and upwards and learn from our mistakes. My writing goals for 2017 are a reflection of what I learnt in 2016, and where I want to be by the end of 2017.

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Everything I’ve Learnt in 2016 About Writing, Publishing, and Productivity

2016 has been one hell of a year. The Western political landscape is more up in the air than it has been in most our lifetimes. Neither the UK nor the US know what their futures hold, and the repercussions of recent events will be felt throughout Europe and across the globe.

But the political landscape isn’t the only thing that’s changed this year.

2016 was the year I published my first book. It was the year I pushed myself so hard I had a break down, and I didn’t realise what I’d done until I had no energy left to function. While I accomplished a lot in the first half of this year, I accomplished very little in the second because I just had no energy left to do anything else. Sometimes slow and steady really does win the race.

That being said, I am proud of what I accomplished this year, both personally and professionally. I’ve learnt a lot, and I can use those lessons to help me move forwards in 2017.

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How to Write About Depression

Depression. We’ve all heard of it. We all think we know what it is. But do we?

Depression isn’t just about feeling down, nor is it about what goes on in our heads, but what happens in our bodies, too.

Studies show that as many as 1 in 4 of us will experience a mental health problem at some point in our lives. That means you know someone—probably several someones—with depression, anxiety, an eating disorder or something else. It’s therefore important that when we write about these things we do so accurately, sensitively, and honestly.

I’ve written in the past how to write about psychopathy, sociopathy, and panic attacks. Now it’s time to find out more about depression, and how to write about it…

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Why Do You Write?

Working on Productivity for Writers recently has got me thinking about the reasons I write, and what I want to achieve with my writing. It’s also made me realise that the reasons why we write can affect how much we write, how often we write, and how we feel about what we write.

Take teenage me. I wrote because I wanted to write. I enjoyed it. The most successful projects were the ones my friends became attached to: the more they pestered me for new chapters, the faster I wrote.

On some occasions, that was enough. On others, it wasn’t. On those occasions where it wasn’t the self-doubt took over and I fobbed off my friends with excuses about why I couldn’t write because I had ‘writer’s block‘.

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