Staying Motivated to Write

Being a writer is hard work. An experienced writer will have a ton of ideas raging through their head, several works in progress at any one time, social media updates on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, their website to maintain, their own blogging, etc.

You, on the other hand, are new. You’re just trying to write and finish that one book, but you keep running into motivation problems. How do published authors do it? How do they keep themselves going day-in, day-out? Here are some tips:

1. Avoid Burnout – don’t write every day. You constantly hear this piece of advice, “Write every day.” DON’T. I personally have found the people that scream the most are wannabe authors. Let me ask you: are you supposed to exercise every day? No. Why? Because you risk injury to your muscles from over-exercising. Writing is the same way. In addition to that bad case of carpal tunnel, you wear yourself out by constantly thinking in pushing a story through instead of giving your brain time to absorb and think about what you wrote. You’ll burn yourself out. Give your brain a day off.

2. Set realistic expectations. Successful authors set goals for themselves that are attainable. One of the things I’ve seen new authors flame out is because they possessed unrealistic expectations. They got a really awesome idea for a book. They may even plot out the whole thing, did character sheets, created a small story-bible of how magic, religion, and how the world works, and then after writing a couple of chapters, they are done. Why? They had an image of them writing their novel in 30 days or maybe writing 3,000 words a day, but they didn’t come anywhere near that. Second, the “honeymoon” with the novel’s plot wears off and now begins the tedium of actually writing out the story. Writing is an endurance sport.  If you’re trying to cut your teeth in this field, start small. Practice. Dragon Soul Press offers opportunities for new authors to submit short stories around six times a year.

https://dragonsoulpress.com/anthologies/

3. Read about the learning the craft. On your “days off,” read blogs or watch YouTube videos about writing. There are many talented people out there. If you read or watch them, you’ll find yourself inspired.

4. Good feedback pushes you closer to the goal! What separates an amateur from a professional author is their ability to handle criticism or whether they ask for it. An amateur won’t solicit for criticism on their work or when they do, they expect glowing praise. A professional will always strive to ask for feedback and when they are told their WIP has problems in X, Y, and Z, you know what they do? They dive right in! Good feedback that is used with tact will always motivate you to push yourself to a new height and a new challenge. An example of this was when I was going through a second round of critiques on Fallen From the Stars. One of my readers posed a serious question about a supporting character and couldn’t make a connection. Eureka! He was right! I went back and added three more chapters just to create the build-up, tension, battle, and resolution  for that supporting character. Result? It eliminated a “dry spell” in that part of the book and added a level of tension and drama not expected.

5. Love the tedium (or at least put up with it). Congratulations! You finished that book! You managed to crank out 100k words and to you, it’s done! However, in reality, it’s not done because you now need to get feedback on it, but before you do that, you need to edit it. Edit, yeah, that word. You know, make it readable for the rest of us. Another amateur mistake I’ve seen a lot of indie authors make is they will not edit their own work. They will run it through spellcheck or maybe Grammarly and then boom, they think they are done. They then format the book and hit the publish button on Amazon. Editing is a part of life. You have to do it. If you love it like I do (I have an unhealthy obsession with it), then tasks like these actually help you cope with the melancholy that comes after you finish the first draft. Even if you don’t love it, at least put up with it.

Regarding amateurs, some hate editing with all capital letters. Once the fun part of the craft actually turns into work, that can deflate motivation quickly. Once a writer realizes they’re only producing crap, they give up and blog about being a professional author or something like that.

There are many other tips on how to stay motivated to write, but with a good mindset, understanding how writing is all about endurance, and good encouragement, then receiving a check at the end of the month is just icing on the cake.

Happy writing!

Introducing Author Kelli Pizarro

Dragon Soul Press proudly presents Christian Fiction Author Kelli Pizarro has joined the ranks! Delightful tales are coming soon. Here is an interview with the author herself!

  1. Do you think writers have a normal life like others?
    I think the harder question to answer is, what is a normal life? I think we all share the aspects of life most could consider common ground such as love, faith, family, and all that fills in the in-between. I think the only thing that separates us from the rest is the amount of hours spent typing at a keyboard, tears shed over imaginary friends, and an almost-incriminating Google search history.authorlogo
  2. What would you say is the easiest aspect of writing?
    The research stage. It comes easy to me because I enjoy it so much. When I was very young, I would copy pages in the Encyclopedia for fun. Now, hours on the web and trips to my books’ setting locations are a grown-up version of that nerdery, and what drives me to write more.
  3. Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?
    I read as much as I write! Francine Rivers, Liz Curtis Higgs, Melinda Inman, Celena Janton, Frank Peretti, and Lisa Tawn Bergren are my go-to authors for consistently great reads.
  4. Have you ever left any of your books to stew for months on end or even a year?
    Only Shanty by the Sea. It was the first book I started, and my most recent finish. I had to grow as the story did, both as a writer and as an individual, in order to see it to completion.
  5. What is the most important thing about a book in your opinion?
    That it makes you feel. I don’t mind so much what emotion it evokes, as long as it does so deeply.
  6. Any advice you would like to give to aspiring writers?
    Finish that first draft. Make time to write, often. And don’t compromise your voice as an author: be open to constructive criticism, but don’t lose your voice.
  7. How much of yourself do you put into your books?
    I put a huge amount of my time, energy, and heart into my books. They are the little pieces of me I will leave in the world when I am gone. They are the stories my children and grandchildren will see and know that imagination and creativity are important parts of being human.
  8. Who are your books mostly dedicated to?
    The God I serve and the readers who support my writing.
  9. How do you see writing? As a hobby or a passion?
    Both. The amount of time spent writing during a particular season in my life may make it easier to categorize what my writing is to me at that time, but altogether, it is both hobby and passion.
  10. Where can readers learn more about you?
    They can learn more about me by following my social media accounts! I often post updates about my writing and insights into my life on Twitter and Facebook.

 

Author’s DSP author page – https://dragonsoulpress.com/author-kelli-pizarro/

DSP Reader’s Choice Collection

Dragon Soul Press proudly presents the DSP Reader’s Choice. What does that mean? For each anthology, readers will be able to vote for their Top Three favorite stories. At the end of the year, all of the chosen stories will be compiled into a single volume available in ebook and paperback at major retailers. The goal is to give readers a variety of excellent stories from the year and introduce them to new authors.

What about the other books? We’re glad you asked!

A similar version of voting will happen for the books published during the year. The difference is only one will be chosen and the first chapter will be included alongside the anthology short stories.

All of the authors will have a brief introduction within the volume and be given the option to be interviewed for the DSP blog.

When will voting begin?

Voting has already begun for the First Love Anthology and the form can be found here.

When the voting becomes available, each form will be listed on this page for easy access. Expect to see the voting for the novels appear each January. Voting for the anthologies will be available the day of release.

There will be thirty (30) days of voting before the polls close.

Thank you for reading and showing interest in the DSP Reader’s Choice! You can find this same information for future reference here.

DSP Reader's Choice

Interview with Author of “Warm Bodies” Isaac Marion

Dragon Soul Press had the great honor of interviewing Isaac Marion, author of the Warm Bodies series, during the anticipation of the release for the fourth book this past November.

You can follow the author here: Facebook, Amazon, Goodreads, Website.

 

Q: When did you decide to become a writer? What’s your genre?
I was 14 when I realized that there was no reason I couldn’t write books just like all the books I loved reading. I started right away, wrote a 1000 page epic fantasy novel, tried and failed to get it published, and went right on to the next, which was a mostly realistic story set in the town I lived in. I don’t “have a genre” any more than I “have a mood.” My genres change from story to story, or at best, they combine several.51Cw06tOHYL

Q: Where do you get your inspiration?
From looking closely at the world and people around me, noticing patterns, feeling desires, sensing mysteries. Traveling, dreaming, movies, music, and other books. From everything.

Q: Do you ever get writer’s block?  If yes, how do you overcome it?
I get it mostly between books, when I’m trying to get a new story started and I haven’t built the emotional momentum yet. That’s hard and I haven’t written enough books to have found a solution. When it happens deeper into the process, when I get stuck on a plot hole or can’t find the right approach to a scene, I usually find that physical activity helps break up the sediment and get the thoughts flowing again. Running in particular has been really helpful for me, the combination of fresh oxygen and the rush of scenery seems to clear my brain and turbo-charge it to break through those blockages. It’s remarkably effective for something so blunt and non-intellectual.

Q: What is the hardest thing for you about writing?
Generating the story. Ideas, concepts, and feelings all come easily to me, but inventing the chain of events that allow those things to unspool into a coherent story is always a challenge. Sometimes it feels like the road is going to evaporate under me while I’m walking. There’s always the fear that the answers just won’t come to me. But so far, it’s always ended up working out, so maybe I need to trust myself.

Q: Are you currently reading any books?
I just started The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro. Never Let Me Go devastated me so I go into this with high hopes, even though it seems very different in tone and subject. I’m a big fan of writers like him who weave “genre” elements into literary material without making a big deal out of it, because it shouldn’t be a big deal. A story is a story. The lines we draw between “literary” and “genre” are reductive and limiting and should be destroyed.

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Q: Can you sum up the Warm Bodies series in just a few sentences?
A dead man finds his way back to life, falls in love with a young revolutionary, and together they search for a cure to the metaphysical plague that has destroyed civilization, while fighting the bizarre corporate militia that seeks to harness those forces.

Q: How did it feel when you were finally able to share your novel, The Living, with the world?
It was like telling a secret that I’d been keeping my entire life.

The Good Short Story Tips and Tricks: Hook and Pacing

DSP typically plans and produces six anthologies a year with a short story word count ranging from 5k to 15k words. Technically, there is no sole right way to write a short story, but there are a lot of wrong ways. However, we’ll focus on a couple of methods used to entice your reader and get them hooked on your story for the next twenty to forty pages.

Let’s assume you know the components for proper characterization, tension, theme, POV, etc. For a good short story, you only need to place heavy emphasis on two aspects of your story; a good hook and your scenes moving at a face pace toward the climax.

The Hook

The hook is the opening line or scene to ensnare your reader. It’s a statement that makes them develop an interest in your story right off the bat. For a short story, you want them vested in your tale from the very beginning because you don’t have a lot of words to develop your character or theme. There are several easy ways to write a hook that will have your reader jump into your story; in media res, mystery, and disturbing.

In medias res means, “in the middle of the action”. Instead of starting out those teenagers having sex by the lake and then getting killed one-by-one by the psychopath in a hockey mask, you start the story with one of them running for his life while being chased by the psychopath. In my story, Malicyne’s Puzzle, the hook took place with a battle between a pirate ship and a naval frigate. Thela’s Angel started with poor Thela getting beaten to a pulp by her husband in the inn. Daughter of Darkness starts the story with the holy knight, Rhain, landing a killing blow through a demon lord’s heart in the temple of night elves dedicated to the worship of the Tri-Headed Queen.

Mystery is a very common mechanism. You start out with a profound statement or an enigma for your story. In my book, Fallen From the Stars, it opens with the following:

“Come with me.”

A gunshot rang out, followed by a woman’s scream and the world turned to utter darkness. That’s all I can remember.

Was the main character shot? What happened? Who said, “Come with me?” Readers don’t find out until Chapter 12 Bad Memories, but in a short story, you reveal the mystery of the hook usually at the climax or at the end.

Disturbing is a less common one but is great for grimdark fantasy, horror, or something in which you’re going for shock value. It makes your reader shout, “WTF did I just read?!?” and then they are compelled to read on just to figure out why you wrote that. The Disturbing method will typically contain triggers (again, for shock value).

A word of warning about using the Disturbing method – know your audience. If you’re a fantasy writer who typically writes YA epic fantasy and you want to try your hand at grimdark fantasy, your loyal fans are in for a rude awakening. Secondly, a lot of publishers have a “no graphic [anything]” rule (or rules on certain triggers in general), so don’t violate submission guidelines by writing something that will make people wonder if you’re sane or turn your editor off to you.

Pacing

After you’ve written your hook, all your scenes following should be paced as if racing toward the climax. You’re not walking or building up to the climax, you’re running to it. A perfect example of how you should pace your story is by watching the promo trailer for Dragon Age: Origins. Here’s the link (Warning: Violence and Blood):

What did you see here if this was a story? An intrepid band of adventurers on a quest in monster-infested mountains filled with ice, snow, and death. There is the brief pause by the main character, a weapon is thrown from the ice and then boom, we are running through the action building up to the climax of the sorceress Morrigan casting a powerful lightning bolt that lays low the dragon. Did you note how fast the action moved and how it flowed from one character to the next? This is how your short story should flow from one scene to the next, and then building up to the climactic battle with the dragon at the end.

Master this and you’ll sweep your reader up for an intense ride with only a few thousand words.

Happy writing!