Nothing Any Good

By Indie Authors for Indie Authors.

Page 3 of 74

Save Your Writing

 

I always encourage writers to save their writing. I have old notebooks of writings and poems that date back to my teenage years. I’ve saved word docs from over 10 years ago with stories and articles that I never polished and finalized. I keep these because I never know when I’ll be writing something and remember that I have an old anecdote, story, or paragraph from years back that will fit perfectly into what I’m writing now. Always save your writing, friends. An old piece might end up being a great launching point for a new one.

I used to run an email list called The Dailie Break. Unoriginal, right? Well, it was twenty years ago. It was before the internet took shape in its current form. There wasn’t social media yet and even blogs weren’t a thing. (Can you imagine?) While a daily email wasn’t an earth-shattering idea, there also wasn’t a lot of them going around. I ran it for nearly seven years. With no intention of doing anything more than sending it out to a few people, the list expanded exponentially from five original subscribers. It grew by word of mouth, quite to my surprise.


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The point is not to share a trip down memory lane with you, though. When I knew that The Dailie Break had run its course and I was done with it, I sent one final email to my readers. I had no intention other than to offer a heartfelt email that day. I saved it, and to this day, I’m still not sure why.

 

An old piece of writing can be a friend to a new piece. Hang on to everything you write.Click To Tweet

 

Years later, when I was writing the short story Expect Dragons, I sat down to write Mr. Smith’s 40 Tips for College and Life. Wracking my brain writing and rewriting them, I remembered the old email I sent and a few sentences in there that I enjoyed. I dug it up and went through it. I had no idea, nor any intention of using this email later on in my writing. It’s not very good. The grammar is poor and there are errors that need to be edited. But I had the wherewithal to save the darn thing and I was glad I did.


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Here is a portion of that email from over 10 years ago in all its poorly written glory (some of it will look familiar):

7 years ago, this May, The Dailie Break was born at the back-corner cubicle of a law firm in downtown Minneapolis. As a young 22-year-old, I was full of excitement and energy, interning for a law firm, waiting tables, and playing in endless Texas Hold ‘Em tournaments at Canterbury Downs. I was the quintessential adolescent male. Before you think interning for a law firm at the age of 22 is impressive, let me assure you, it was not. My job consisted of driving to an old warehouse in a mini-van, loading up boxes of old files, sorting through them to enter them into an electronic database and shredding the ones the partners signed off to be shred. Not very glamorous.

The significance of this summer in 2004 is that it was my first desk job. Like anyone sitting down at a desk for the first time, it sucked. So, I sent an email out to a few of my brothers and friends declaring that I’d send a daily email out in order to break up the monotony of the work day. I sent the first email without knowing where it may lead. I never thought it would last nearly seven years. The first few editions were sent out to make readers laugh. Then a writer I enjoy, who greatly impacted black culture in sports in America, passed away; so I provided his post-9/11 article to readers. Somehow, word spread like whatever the opposite of wild fire is and TDB grew. We saw horrible tsunamis, school shootings, floods, earthquakes, wars, deaths and murders. We saw presidential elections, championships, Nobel prizes, births and weddings.

The world moves fast and time goes quickly, so TDB was created to remind us to stop sometimes—to make us laugh, think, and sometimes, cry. Life gets in the way of living and we need to be reminded of that from time to time. That’s what TDB aimed to do. It was created to make us think outside the box. Not everyone thinks the way you do, (or I do); that’s something to be embraced, not shunned. It was created to make us realize, not everything has to have a point, (hence the baffling spelling of the name). In its development over seven years, it became exactly the thing it was intended to destroy—monotony. So, unfortunately, it is time. But I will leave you with this.

Have a routine, but avoid being routine. Life’s too short to not seize the opportunities with which we are presented. Always take the chance to do what you love when it comes along. Question authority. Question those who question authority. We are all intelligent, thoughtful individuals. Don’t let others tell you something has to be that way. It doesn’t. The world is far too complex for it to have to be that way. Share laughter. There’s far too much that’s funny out there to take yourself and others too seriously. Share tears. There’s far too much pain and hurt out there not to take others struggles seriously. Decide what you believe, know who you are and live accordingly. Don’t apologize for that. But if you realize later on that you were wrong, admit it. Ask for forgiveness. Maya Angelou has a great quote: “If I’d known better, I’d done better.” We can only do the best we know how, but there’s no excuse for not striving to attain the know-how. And there’s certainly no excuse for not doing better once we have it.

Finally, be kind. Kindness can change things far beyond our wildest dreams. They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder, but it’s kindness that makes the heart grow softer.

Thank you and farewell.

That’s the email I sent out the day that list ended. Some of it might look familiar, no?


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These are partially the same edited tips from 40 Tips On Creative Writing. I may have never finished them had I not kept that email from years ago.

Save your writing! This is only one example of many where I’ve dug up an old piece and used it in the perfect spot later. You never know when you might need that scene, quote, essay, or character description again. Save it.

 

Find more writing and publishing tips at Nothing Any Good.

 

Write With Purpose

 

Write with purpose. It sounds simple, but every writer struggles with this from time to time.

Have a reason for putting that dinner scene in your book. Make sure that long soliloquy on the power of music has a purpose for being there. Be intentional about the words you choose in the poem you’re writing.

Don’t just add words and scenes as filler. It has to have a purpose.


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The purpose can be something as simple as you need a way to bring the plot from Point A to Point B. That’s a great purpose. The key is to know exactly why you’re writing it.

This will become even more important at the editing stage once you’ve completed initial drafts. If you’re wondering what it adds to the story, cut it out. If you question why it’s in there and YOU’RE THE ONE WHO WROTE IT, the reader is bound to wonder, too.


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Don’t write just to have pages. Page and word counts are nonsense. Don’t fixate on them. It will take away from your purpose and diminish the impact of your writing.

We’ve all read books like that, where the author seems to be repeating himself. In a self-help book, it’s just the same point over and over. In a thriller, it’s the same action scene three or four different times described in a slightly different way. Sometimes I think the publisher pushed for a longer book and the author was trying to make that happen.

Don’t be that author. Make sure you know why you’re writing what you’re writing.


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Find more writing and publishing tips at Nothing Any Good.

 

 

Foster Habits of a Successful Writer

 

If you want to write, start fostering the habits of a successful writer. Get rid of the ineffective patterns that prevent you from exploring your craft the way you want to. Turn off your screens from time to time.

This may be obvious to some of you, but it’s probably counterintuitive to others. After all, how are you supposed to finish writing that great novel if you aren’t disciplined enough to sit down at your laptop and write? But I firmly believe this is an absolute must. If you don’t turn off your screens, you won’t be the best writer you can be. We all struggle to find time in the day to do all the things we need to do. We have to be diligent. Don’t waste time in front of screens you’re not writing on.


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I know that keeping up with emails and social media is necessary, especially for us indie authors. This is our avenue for creating a community around our books. Without it, the few sales we do get, quickly turn into that one copy that your family bought.

 

You have very limited time that you can dedicate to your writing each day. Do yourself a favor, be a serious writer. Don’t waste time online. Click To Tweet

 

But how often do you check your email? How many times do you flip through your Twitter feed or Facebook updates? Did you really need to know that Linda’s dog ate a cookie today? I don’t know Linda or her dog, but I’m guessing it’s not that interesting. Most of us can safely remove a dozen times we absent-mindedly check email and social media every day, at least. I know I can. Remove that mindless urge to check now!

After you’ve taken out some of the senseless internet scrolling, think long and hard about the blogs you visit. (I’m obviously not talking about www.Nothinganygood.com. This little website I’ve created to help support authors is a necessary part of your day, right!?) How many of those blogs that you read are nonsense reads that feed the beast of time-wasting?


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In 2012, Digital Buzz put out an Infographic depicting the number of new blogs that are posted every day—two million. Two Million blog posts were going up every day back in 2012! Every. Single. Day.

Daily blog posts have more than doubled since then. We waste far too much time skimming blogs that we don’t even really want to read. Was it necessary to learn about the 5 Celebrities That Secretly Wish They Were Authors? (Number 3 will shock you!) Stop wasting your time on them. Focus on the posts that will inform your writing, not the ones that will distract you from it.

Finally, turn off the TV! Stop watching YouTube! Shut down Netflix!

I love television and movies as much as the next person. I’m not here to tell you that TV is trash and you’re rotting your brain. You’re not. Television can be fantastic. Movies are wonderful. But stop watching so much. Spend more time exploring and developing your writing skills.

 

Don’t close your laptop just to pick up your phone. Don’t shut off your phone just to turn on the TV.Click To Tweet

 

Successful writers foster effective writing habits. The most ineffective habit of an author is failing to write. The second is failing to budget time. If you can’t manage thirty minutes a day to start, schedule in at least a couple blocks of time each week for writing, and when you sit down for that scheduled time, actually write. Don’t waste it on other things.


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There’s budgeting the time to write and then there’s actually writing. All too often we sit down to write and we don’t utilize that time for writing. We fiddle with previous chapters we’ve written. We spend far too much time trying to write that perfect sentence. We hop on the internet to do research for our writing. There will be time for all of that, either while doing research or later on in the editing process. Your writing time is for writing. If you’ve set that time aside, then write. The first draft is never good. Don’t worry about it. Keep writing.

Cultivate the habits of successful writers if you want to become a better writer. Turn off your screens and begin the muscle-building of becoming the writer you want to be.

 

 

Find more writing and publishing tips at Nothing Any Good.

 

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