Tag Archives: dreams

Writer’s Digest: Copyediting Certification Course Review

Over the last several years, I’ve come to realize that I really enjoy helping other writers with their developmental and copy edits, so much so that I’ve considered making a career out of it. But I wondered how to go about it. Did I need a degree to be a professional editor? Or take a class or workshop? How did I learn the required skills? Just as I was considering how to pursue this career path, I got an email from Writers Digest: a Copyediting Certification Course.

Now, I’m not really a religious person or don’t believe in manifestation or anything like that, but I couldn’t help but wonder if this was a sign from the universe that I had to take this course. A workshop for something I was striving to do was literally staring me in the face. How could I say no? So, I bit the bullet and decided to enroll in the course, and thought I’d give a review.

Price: $800 USD
Instructor: Kim Catanzarite
Length: 10 Weeks

Initial Thoughts:

After signing up for the program, which required me to immediately pay the $800 fee, I waited until the start date, which was May 16th. I logged into the course first thing that morning and noticed a few things right away:

The first is that it’s an entirely self-study course that you have to read. There are no instructional or follow-along videos in the course. If you’re someone who is an audio learner, this course has no audio in it.

The course runs for ten weeks. Every week we were required to complete a writing and grammar assignment, which had to be turned in every Sunday. There were no letter grades (A,B,C, etc…) for this course, and only “Complete” or “Incomplete” grades. I do not know what the repercussions would be if you never completed the assignments at all.

Due to be it being a self-study course, I did notice that quite a few students read ahead and moved onto the next sections faster than other students. Again, there were no repercussions for doing this. The lessons were not locked behind any kind of start date or time. You could move onto the next lesson after completing the one you were already on.

There was also a discussion board at the bottom of every lesson page, so the instructor and students could communicate with each other if they had any questions or concerns. The website itself was easy to navigate, and I never had any issues figuring my way around.

The Lessons:

The lessons were broken down into different parts, gradually increasing in difficulty as the course went along. The first several lessons consisted of a refresher of basic grammar: covering phrases and clauses, and the eight parts of speech. Eventually, the lessons moved onto things like: different kinds of paragraphs, tools of the trade, and how to get real life experience as a copyeditor.

The lessons themselves were easy to navigate and organized into well-structured parts. I never found myself getting lost on the website, or confused about where to find the answers if I needed to look back on previous lessons. Likewise, the instructor did a very good job of explaining every piece of information and giving adequate examples of what was being learned that day. I never had to google for a better explanation.

At the end of the course, which I completed on August 8th, there is a final test which you must take. The test consisted of 50 multiple choice questions, and you had to score an 84% or higher to pass. You were allowed to take the test five times. I do not know what would happen if you failed the test all five times.

Final Thoughts:

While I did enjoy the course and found it helpful, I did not find that there were nearly enough exercises to really help drill the knowledge into my brain. I am someone who learns by repetition, and I didn’t think there was enough of it in this course. As soon as I was finished with that week’s lesson and logged off, I would not look at the course until the next week.

I really think this course could’ve benefitted from a printable workbook that the students could’ve used at home. At least, for me, something like that would’ve really helped me continue to hone my skills and practice being a copyeditor. I did not think the writing and grammar exercises were enough to help me learn. I am finding myself in a position now that, if I want to really practice, I will have to reach out to fellow friends and writers to let me see their work and edit it for them. But without an instructor to grade my work, I find there is no way to discover if I’ve made mistakes. I think the course could’ve also benefited from this – some kind of final “paper” where the students had to copyedit ten pages of a book and turn it in.

However, one of the benefits is that the course is always available to me now. Whenever I log onto writersonlineworkshop.com, I can always go through the course and look back at the information. The instructor also included a PDF of the course, which is available to download.

In my honest opinion, I would’ve sliced the price in half and charged $400 instead. Or maybe even $600. But I don’t think it was worth a full $800.

I would give the course three stars. ★★★☆☆

All this said, I do not feel deterred from continuing to try other Writers Digests workshops, and I would definitely give them a shot.


Have you tried any writing workshops? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

XOXO – Devon

Writing Advice I Wish I’d Learned Sooner

I’ve been writing almost consistently for fifteen years now. Once I realized I could put my ideas down on paper, I’ve never been able to stop. The last fifteen years of my writing journey have been a whirlwind of learning my process, learning the writing craft, getting involved in the writing community, and so much more. But in all that time, there are three things I wish I’d known before I ever started on my writing and publishing journey. If I could go back in time and tell my younger self these three pieces of writing advice, I absolutely would.

So, what three pieces of advice do I wish I’d learned?

1.) Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket
2.) Read – and Read a Lot
3.) Writing is Rewriting

I’m sure you’ve heard these pieces of writing advice before. But when I first started writing, we didn’t have the internet to look up common writing advice, or search Youtube for “newbie author mistakes”, and so on. Through trial and error, I made huge writing mistakes, but had I known these three tips beforehand, I’m sure I could’ve avoided them – and I want to help you avoid them, too!

1.) Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket

This tip isn’t just limited to writing. You’ve probably heard it in regards to many different areas of life. But for me, it really means one thing: Don’t put all your hopes and dreams into one story idea.

I wrote my first novel when I was twelve, and fell head over heels in love with the idea. So much so that it took over my entire writing life. I rewrote that first novel – from scratch – about eleven times. I queried it endlessly. I even wrote the sequels. And as you can imagine, my journey through the query trenches resulted in…nothing. No response, no literary agent.

I finally had to trunk it.

But this led me down a path of wondering what to write next. Sure, I had other ideas in my head, but for the last almost ten years of my life, I had only pursued that one novel. I’d never branched out, never written another idea. I didn’t even know if I was capable of writing another novel.

But I was.

It was a very long and hard journey in teaching myself how to write another book. While I don’t regret rewriting that novel over and over again – it definitely helped me develop my own process and a writing habit – the anxiety, depression, and overwhelming sense of failure of not knowing if I was capable of writing another book is something I wouldn’t want to wish on any writer out there.

Remember: just because you have to put your project aside and work on something else, it doesn’t mean you’re giving up. Put all of your heart and soul into the book you’re writing, but don’t limit yourself to that one idea. You do have other ideas inside of you, and you are capable of writing them.

2.) Read – and Read a Lot

If you haven’t read my “How Reading Made Me a Better Writer” blog post, I’ll link it here, as it goes more in-depth on what I want to touch on for this tip.

I’d been an avid reader most of my life. It wasn’t until I hit my late teens and early twenties that I suddenly lost my love of reading. I wanted to read, but nothing on the shelf caught my interest. I wasn’t interested in fantasy either, which had become widely popular. I was only reading – maybe – a couple of books a year.

It wasn’t until one day that I realized I wasn’t “leveling up” as a writer. My writing reached a level where it wasn’t improving. I didn’t know the popular tropes and clichés, or why some books were bestsellers and others weren’t. I realized that if I wanted to be a professional writer, and have a life in this business, that I needed to bust my butt and actually pick up reading again.

So I did.

And I vastly improved in so many ways. From my writing craft, to my knowledge of the interest – everything about me and my writing improved. Since then, I’ve become an avid reader once again, and I read several books a month now. Reading can do so much for you, not as just a wonderful hobby, but

As Stephen King says, “If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time or the tools to write.”

3.) Writing is Rewriting

For the longest time I never understood this concept:

“What do you mean I have to rewrite the book?”
“I just finished the first draft. You mean I have to write everything all over again?”

Those – and other misconceptions – wracked my brain whenever I heard this piece of writing advice. But guess what? It’s true.

Now, this doesn’t mean you have to write your entire book from scratch, like I’d been led to believe. What this really means is that the first draft of anything you write will be crap. It will have awkward phrasing and prose, character motivations might not be clear, the dialogue might be stilted and awkward, crucial descriptions might be missing…and the only way to fix these issues to rewrite what you’d already written.

But having all of that in your first draft doesn’t make you a bad writer. Every writer in the history of writers has had to revise their books. It’s just part of the process.
When I first started writing, I didn’t understand this. I thought my first drafts were fine after a little reread and some editing – but I was very wrong.

Every novel needs time to sit after you’ve finished writing it. Every writer needs to come back to their project with a clear mind, so they can see what is and isn’t working within the manuscript, and that’s why getting feedback from outside sources is so important, too.

This is a concept I wish I’d understood years ago. If I’d known this sooner and given my earlier manuscripts time to sit and get feedback on them – and then give them the revisions they deserve – I wonder how much of a better chance I’d have had at hooking a literary agent. This is one piece of advice I’ve had to learn the hard way, but I’m so glad I understand it now.

Learning these three pieces of writing advice have helped me tremendously, and I hope they help you too!


Have any other pieces of writing advice you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments!

XOXO – Devon

Questions to Ask Beta Readers (My List)

Since we talked all about beta readers a few weeks ago, today, I thought I’d share my list of questions that I send out to my own betas. When I was first looking for betas back in the end of February, I came up with this list, and have been sending it out each time I enlist a beta. I find this list touches on everything that will help me as a writer know what needs to be fixed.

The important thing is to make sure you’re asking clear, concise questions that betas can answer easily. If you need more feedback based on something within the world, or a character, be sure to ask more detailed questions regarding that certain subject.

Note: This list is tailored to my own tastes and what I’m looking for betas to answer. Feel free to copy this list and switch it up to meet your own needs!

#1: Did you notice any obvious repeating grammatical, spelling, punctuation, or capitalization errors? Examples?
#2: Is there anything about the world-building that doesn’t make sense and could use elaboration? If so, please explain.
#3: Did the setting interest you? Was the world vivid in your imagination?
#4: Did the story hold your interest from the very beginning? Why or Why not?
#5: Were there any parts that confused you?
#6: Did you notice any inconsistencies? If so, where/what?
#7: Were there any spots where the story lagged or you lost interest? If so, why and where?
#8: Were there any scenes that bored you or had you skipping pages? Why?
#9: Was there enough conflict, tension, and intrigue to hold your interest?
#10: Were any parts of the plot predictable?
#11: What grabbed your attention most?
#12: Were you confused by the multiple POV’s?
#13: Who was your favorite POV? Why?
#14: Who was your least favorite POV? Why?
#15: What was your favorite and least favorite part of the book?
#16: Did the climax feel climactic, was the payoff in the end worth reading the whole book?
#17: Was the end satisfying?
#18: If this book were part of a series, would you pick up the sequel?
#19: What was your immediate thought after finishing the book?
#20: Lastly, why did you keep reading?
Bonus Question: Is there any way I can repay you for taking your valuable time to read my work? I am available to return the favor of a beta read as well!


What do you think of this list? Are you going to use it the next time you’re looking for betas? Let me know in the comments!

XOXO – Devon

Interview with a Writer: Kelsey Atkins

Are you interested in getting to know more of the writers who are part of our amazing community? As part of my blog series, I’ve interviewed some of the writers in an effort to get to know them better, as well as share their stories!

Today, I’m introducing Kelsey Atkins onto the blog! Kelsey is one of my CP’s, and her feedback on my work has been so helpful! I’m excited to share Kelsey’s story!


#1. What got you into writing? How and when did you first start?

I started to enjoy writing at a very young age. I’ve always kept a journal and even wrote a few short stories when I was in middle school, but I didn’t start seriously writing until I was out of college. Writing was never something I thought about doing until I had a story to write. As soon as that first story planted itself in my brain and demanded to be written, I began my official writing journey and have been at it ever since.

#2: Where do you usually get your ideas?

As cliché as it sounds, I get my best ideas from dreams. Occasionally an idea will randomly pop into my head or develop from something I saw or heard, but the best ideas come from my subconscious.

#3: What current project are you working on right now? What was the inspiration for this project?

My current project is a dystopian novel set in a fantasy world. This is my first dystopian, but I stayed near my comfort zone by adding a fantasy element. I can’t remember where the idea originally came from, but I do remember it started out more as a feeling than an overall idea. I tried to write a different story before I chose to work on this one, but it kept tugging at the back of my mind, begging to be written, so that’s where my focus currently lies.

#4: Traditional, Self-Publish, Small Press? What path to publishing are you pursuing/have pursued and why?

My first book was traditionally published and I will continue to seek that route for my future novels. This is such a personal choice for each writer and for me it came down to needing to have someone in the industry believe in my work. I also wanted the support a traditional publisher provides as well as help navigating my way through marketing and book signings. The financial support is a huge bonus too!

#5: What’s the best writing tip you’ve ever received?

“There are no rules for writing. Find what works for you and stick with it!”

I really struggled to complete my first book because I thought I had to write it linearly from beginning to end. I thought I had to have an outline and do my best to stick to it. When I finally let go of all that, writing came so much easier. It took me five years to write my first book, but after I developed a process that worked for me, it only took me four months to write my second novel and eight weeks to write my third (thanks to Camp Nano and awesome cabin mates).

#6: When are you most creative?

My creativity hits whenever it’s inconvenient such as in the shower or while I’m driving. One of these days I’ll need to invest in a voice recorder and waterproof notepad, but until then I’ll continue jumping out of the shower with soapy hair, pulling over on the side of the road, or trying to convince myself I can remember whatever great idea popped into my mind.

#7: What authors inspire you the most?

Honestly, the authors who inspire me the most are those in the writing community who have yet to be published or have just started their publishing journey. The journey is LONG and hard and exhausting. It would be so much easier to give up after the first ten rejection letters and even easier to give up after the next twenty, thirty, or however many may come. It is so inspiring to see the writers who believe in themselves and their work keep fighting every day to make their dreams a reality. Persevering through the criticism and the let downs is so hard and takes an immeasurable amount of strength. Those who fight the good fight every day inspire me the most!

#8: What’s your most anticipated read in the next few months?

I don’t often read new releases so I couldn’t even tell you what’s coming out in the next few months, but I can tell you I am really looking forward to Sarah J. Maas’s new book!

#9: What are you currently reading?

Right now I’m working my way through several beta reads but am also reading Tower of Dawn which is taking me much longer to get through than the other books in the series.

#10: What’s your favorite book or book series?

This question is almost impossible. One of my all-time favorite series is The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare, but there are several close seconds including A Court of Thorns and Roses, The Tiger’s Curse, and of course Harry Potter!

#11: Favorite childhood book?

The first book I remember really enjoying growing up was The Golden Compass by Philip Paullman. In high school, my favorite series was Harry Potter!

#12: Biggest book pet peeve?

Love triangles are geometric romances from hell! I never have and never will enjoy them. Reading one is the equivalent to nails on a chalkboard for me which is funny because several of my favorite books have at least one written into the story somewhere.

#13: What book has made you cry?

I know there are plenty that have made me cry, but the only ones I can think of off the top of my head are The Shack and Where the Red Fern Grows. I try to stay away from books that will make me cry, but it doesn’t take much to elicit an emotion response from me, so I tend to cry at some point in most of the stories I read.

#14: Favorite writing snack or drink?

I’m not a huge snack eater when I’m writing because I don’t like to stop writing to take bites. I do enjoy having coffee or iced tea while writing and I usually reward myself with chocolate or a milkshake after a good writing spree.

#15: What’s your biggest fear? Writing related or otherwise – or both!

My biggest fear has always been drowning! I don’t have a lot of fears associated with writing because it’s something I truly love and enjoy doing, but I do get nervous when I share my work with others.

#16: What other hobbies do you have outside of writing?

Most of my time is taken up by a rambunctious five-year-old, but when I have some free time to myself, I like to read, listen to music, color, crochet, and play Final Fantasy (my guilty pleasure).

#17: Biggest real-life pet peeve?

Mean people! I can’t stand it when people treat others with anything other than kindness. We all have bad days and rough lives; it doesn’t give anyone the excuse to take it out on someone else. Mean people are especially frustrating in the writing world. I’ve seen far too many unfair negative reviews of books simply because someone was upset about something that had nothing to do with the story.

#18: Any final words to aspiring writers out there?

Keep doing what you love and never give up! The best part about writing your own story is that it can be anything you want it to be. Take the critiques, listen to advice from those you trust, but never compromise who you are or the heart of your story!


All About Kelsey

WSYOawJN.jpgKelsey Atkins is an elementary and middle school teacher who loves to write. Her work with young adults in the classroom inspired her to write the Finding the Light series. Kelsey grew up in a small town in Idaho where she grew to love the outdoors. She currently lives in Boise, Idaho with her husband, son, and fluffy Samoyed. When she isn’t teaching or writing, she enjoys spending time with her family, cooking, hiking, and volunteering at church.

Follow Kelsey!

Twitter: @AtkinsAuthor

 

 

Interview with a Writer: Tauri Cox

Are you interested in getting to know more of the writers who are part of our amazing community? As part of my new blog series, I’ve interviewed some of the writers in an effort to get to know them better, as well as share their stories!

So today, I’m introducing Tauri Cox onto the blog! Tauri and I met last year and become fast friends and critique partners. I am so excited to share what she has to say about her life as a writer, the advice she has to new writers, and what her publishing goals are!


#1. What got you into writing? How and when did you first start?

I’ve been experimenting with writing for as long as I can remember: short stories, creative writing classes, etc. But I didn’t pursue it – or even consider it – seriously until my senior year of college. I had gone in as a pre-med student. Then quickly learned I sucked at math and science. But my professors always complimented me on my writing. So I switched over and immediately fell in love.

#2: Where do you usually get your ideas?

My ideas come from a variety of places. My first two novels were fictionalized retellings of real life events. But my third and current project was inspired by the city of New Orleans. It’s one of my favorite places in the world, and I just knew I wanted my next story to be based there. Luckily there’s plenty of interesting subject matter to go with NOLA!

#3: What current project are you working on right now? What was the inspiration for this project?

Like I said above, New Orleans was the inspiration for my current project. Once I dug into the past and culture of the city, I found a story about Marie Laveau – the infamous voodoo queen – and the pieces fell into place.

My second inspiration was Damon Salvatore from The Vampire Diaries. I really wanted to write a female version of his character: a morally grey, reluctant, sassy but lovable antihero. My main character Jessa stemmed naturally from there, popping into my head fully-formed.

So my WIP is a NA contemporary fantasy revolving around a young woman who discovers she’s the missing heir to the voodoo queen but doesn’t really want anything to do with it.

#4: Traditional, Self-Publish, Small Press? What path to publishing are you pursuing/have pursued and why?

I am currently pursuing traditional publishing. I dream of seeing my book on the shelves of Barnes & Noble, and I believe traditional is the best way of going about accomplishing that dream thanks to bigger distribution and the backing of a big house and editorial/marketing team.

#5: What’s the best writing tip you’ve ever received?

Hmmm. That’s tough because I’ve been lucky enough to receive a lot of great feedback. But I think the best was a reminder to take breaks. Burnout is a very real thing, and it can happen fast. So pacing yourself, refilling your creative well and taking a break between drafts has really helped my process.

The other is to give yourself a little grace – especially with first drafts. I am a perfectionist and the first draft is paralyzing to me because it never comes out the way I want it to. But that’s okay. That’s what revisions are for. So just get it down on paper and fix it later.

#6: When are you most creative?

After a glass of wine 🙂 but seriously it’s true. It goes along with the above, loosens my control freak-ness a little so I can just write. I typically am most creative in the evenings – right after work and before dinner. I can crank out a couple of hours then.

#7: What authors inspire you the most?

I am sure everyone says this, but JK Rowling has been a huge source of inspiration to me. Her journey is just fantastic. Sarah J Maas is the same way. She was published so young and has created this incredible platform from scratch.

But I’ve also been really inspired by a lot of the writers I’ve met along the way. Writers who have been working for years and never given up, writers who have consistently published books – books that didn’t make it big – but slowly built a strong following, writers who advocate for each other. It’s really a phenomenal community.

#8: What’s your most anticipated read in the next few months?

Well, my TBR pile is so gigantic that it’s actually overwhelming. But there are some great books in there! One of my most anticipated books of the year just came out a couple weeks ago and that was Finale by Stephanie Garber. It was fantastic. I am also really excited to finally start reading V.E. Schwab’s Darker Shade of Magic series.

#9: What are you currently reading?

I am currently reading The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman. It’s fabulous – dark and atmospheric with well-crafted characters. I love seeing more and more “fantasies” set in the real world – especially since that’s what I am writing!

#10: What’s your favorite book or book series?

That’s a toss up. Favorite series are Harry Potter and both of Sarah J Maas’ series. Favorite stand alone is The Great Gatsby!

#11: Favorite childhood book?

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler – a classic! The Witch Family is a close tie.

#12: Biggest book pet peeve?

Insta-love. It drives me CRAZY! Insta-lust is fine. But I am a firm believe that you can’t really love someone until you know them and know them well. Plus slow burn romance is the BEST.

#13: What book has made you cry?

A lot. I am a big crier. But The Shack by William P. Young absolutely wrecked me in the best way possible.

#14: Favorite writing snack or drink?

Red wine and Goldfish.

#15: What’s your biggest fear? Writing related or otherwise – or both!

Snakes and failure.

#16: What other hobbies do you have outside of writing?

Reading obviously. I love puzzles and crafts and cooking. The rest of my life pretty much revolves around my dog and my family.

#17: Biggest real life pet peeve?

Slow walkers and people who don’t pay attention to where they are going in the grocery store. MOVE, GET OUT THE WAY!

#18: Any final words to aspiring writers out there?

Don’t lose faith if your first book doesn’t get you an agent. Don’t lose faith if your first book doesn’t get picked up by a publisher. It’s rare, and it’s all about the right book at the right time with the right person. And eventually the right combination will arise.


All About Taurisweater-headshot.jpg

Growing up, Tauri wanted to be a variety of things: marine biologist, veterinarian, equine chiropractor, neonatal surgeon. All biological, all scientific.

Until she arrived at college and quickly discovered… she was horrifically bad at science.
But she also learned that she had a knack for writing, and a passion was ignited.

Since then, Tauri has graduated from the University of Texas where she studied creative writing and psychology under Elizabeth McCracken, five-time author and James A. Michener Chair in Fiction. Immediately afterward, she joined the Writer’s Path at Southern Methodist University where she honed her skills under the tutelage of authors Suzanne Frank and Kay Honeyman.

She now lives in Austin, TX in a one-bedroom apartment with her eighty pound German Shepherd mix, her satanic cat, and a small shred of intact sanity.

You can follow Tauri on her blog and on Twitter!

 

9 Tips to Make Writing a Habit

Writing is a special gift. But why do so many writers struggle to actually find time to put words on the page? Well, it might be because they haven’t developed a writing habit.

Life can be extremely busy. Between full-time and part-time jobs, children, social commitments, or other day-to-day things, finding the time to sit down and let your creativity flow can be incredibly difficult for some people. And there’s nothing wrong with that; taking care of your children is obviously more important than writing. But if you find yourself really wanting to develop a writing habit, and are struggling to figure out how, here are eight tips that might help you out!

(Keep in mind: You don’t have to follow all of these tips. But implementing just one or two of them into your daily schedule might just improve your writing life!)


#1: Write at the Same Time Everyday

Whether it means getting up an hour before everyone else, or waiting until everyone else goes to bed, find a time that works for you. Find a slot in your day – morning, afternoon, evening – that will have no interruptions and no distractions.

Writing at the same time every day will not only train your mind that that time slot is the time to write, but also let your family and friends know that time is when you’re busy. Commit yourself to this every time you write. You don’t have to write every day to be a writer – but you have to be consistent.

#2: Use Triggers

Maybe it’s your favorite cup of coffee or tea in the morning. Or maybe the scent of your favorite candle or incense. Whatever it is, use it to your advantage. Before you sit down to write, implement this trigger into your writing schedule.

If you get up in the morning, make a cup of coffee the first thing before you write. The smell of the coffee, and the act of getting it, will tell you brain it’s time to write. Over time, these triggers will help get you in the mood for a writing session.
Whatever it is – coffee, tea, a scent, maybe meditating an hour beforehand – use whatever trigger will work best for you. It’s important to get yourself excited to sit down and write, and be in the right headspace.

#3: Eliminate Distractions

Turn off the TV. Keep your phone in the other room. Disconnect from the internet. Whatever you have to do to keep yourself distraction free, do it. If you sit down to write during your allotted writing time, but find yourself checking your phone, or browsing the internet, it’s time to eliminate any distractions.

Distractions will only keep you from getting your writing done. Your writing time has to be for you. The internet can wait. The TV can wait. They’re not going anywhere.

#4: Organize Your Writing Space

Wherever you write – at a desk, the kitchen table, the couch in the living room – make sure it’s clean and organized. Having a clean space free of distractions will keep your mind clear. Not only that, it will prevent you from wanting to get up and organize the space instead of write.

Your space should be clean and organized, but also allow you access to everything you need – a pen, notebook, etc. – so you don’t have to get up and go search for it. Keep your writing space creative. Fill it with motivational quotes or posters. Hang up posters from your favorite TV shows or movies. It’s important to keep your space neat, but to also make it a safe haven where you can sit, uninterrupted, and let your ideas flow.

#5: Set Small Goals First

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to aim high for bigger goals. But if you’re trying to develop your own writing a habit, shooting big might not always be the best.
It’s best to start small and pace yourself.

Start with a small word count or time frame. For example, tell yourself you’re going to write five-hundred words for the day. Or you’re going to write for twenty minutes straight with no distractions. Whatever it is, push yourself to meet these goals.

Once you’ve managed to meet these goals for a few days, or maybe a week straight, begin to raise them. Instead of writing five-hundred words, bump up your count to seven-hundred. Increase your time from twenty minutes to thirty. Gradually, you will begin to meet higher word count goals without burning yourself out.

The important thing to remember is to take it in strides. Writing is like a muscle, and you need to train it appropriately. An athlete wouldn’t push themselves to run a marathon when they’ve never run one before, or even trained for it, would they?

Writing might be a different kind of “sport”, but you need to train yourself all the same.

#6: Make Writing a Priority

If there’s one tip you should follow out of everything else, this should be number one.
To put words on the page, to make this a habit, to find any success as a writer, you have to make writing a priority. There will be times when you need to turn things down in order to write. There will be times when you just have to say “no”.

For example, let’s say Friday nights are the only free time you have to write. But every Friday night you go out with friends and get drinks the entire evening. Are you making writing a priority here? No.

There may be times when you have to put writing above all else. This doesn’t mean neglect your health, your children, your spouse, or your loved ones – but it may mean sacrificing fun social activities, or missing the newest episode of a show you love, because you’ve made writing a priority instead.

Don’t burn yourself out, however. Remember to take a step back and have fun. Remember to take care of yourself. But don’t constantly put writing to the side in pursuit of something else, because if you do, you may never find the time to write.

#7: Set Boundaries

Once you’ve decided to make writing a priority, you will have to set boundaries. This means being able to say “no” to friends, family, and loved ones. This means telling people that this time slot you have – maybe an hour on your lunch break at work – is now writing time, not time for socializing.

Your friends and family may be frustrated by this. But it’s important to set those boundaries with them. Your writing time and space needs to be respected.

Writing is like work. Your family wouldn’t just barge into your workplace, would they?

#8: Be Accountable and Consistent

If you’re trying to build a writing habit, keep yourself accountable. Make sure you’re following your goals and the schedule you’ve set yourself. If you need to, find an accountability partner who will cheer you on and motivate you to keep going.

If you don’t hold yourself accountable, it’s easier to slip up and lose consistency. The more you lose consistency, the harder it will be to form a writing habit.

#9: Reward Yourself

Maybe there’s a movie coming out that you’ve been waiting to see, or a book you’ve been eyeing on the shelf. Whatever it is, use it as a motivator to keep yourself going. For every five-thousand words you write, you can treat yourself to a fancy Starbucks drink, or a sweet treat. When you write ten-thousand words, treat yourself to a fancy dinner. You get the gist.

Keep a reward in the back of your mind. Something you can finally give into buying or doing. Writing should be fun, too. There’s nothing wrong with treating yourself when you hit a milestone.


No matter what tips and tricks you decide to implement here, the important thing to remember is that you need consistency to form a new habit. Research shows that it can take sixty-six days to form a habit. Writing is like everything else – you need to train yourself to sit down, show up, and do the work.

“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.”
— Louis L’Amour

XOXO – Devon

7 Steps to Choose Your Next Book Project

After finishing my YA Thriller, I couldn’t help but wonder what book project I was going to write next. Like so many writers, I have a million ideas floating around in my head. Some are small snippets of dialogue, others are entire scenes, or characters. But with so many ideas, it can be difficult to choose which book project to actually tackle next.

What if this one idea isn’t good enough?

What if I’m not a good enough writer to tackle this project?

What if one turns out to be a lot harder to write than I thought?

What if I hate everything I write?

What if I get bored halfway through and want to work on this other idea?

The self-doubt can be crippling, but there comes a point where you have to make a decision and stick to it. So how do you do it? How do you choose which project to work on next?


Step #1: Write Them All Down

Write down every idea, small or large. Seeing it written down can give you a clearer picture of what exactly you’re working with. You’ll be able to see what ideas are more fleshed out, versus the ones that still need time to marinate. Sometimes, an idea just needs a little while longer to sit in your brain and develop.

For me, when I’m ready to tackle a new project, this is the first thing I do. It gives me a clear view of every idea currently in my head, no matter how simple or complex it is.

A few examples of what I have right now:

1.) Beauty and the Beast Retelling – with a twist
2.) Vampire Huntress Idea
3.) Beauty Guru Thriller Idea
4.) YA Fantasy Thief Idea
5.) YA Secret Project Idea
6.) Adult Sci-Fi Idea

These are examples of exactly what I have written in the notes app on my phone. They might not say a lot, but to me, there’s a premise to each idea. I currently have nine story ideas written down, and each one has a different premise. But likewise, each one is in a different stage of development.

Step #2: Think About Them

Once you have your ideas written down, take a step back and just think on them. Which ones are you finding yourself more excited to write? Which ones do you have more ideas for? Which ones are you clearly seeing the characters, the world, the stakes, etc.?

The more you really sit back and look at each idea, the easier it’ll be to tell which ones are actually ready to be written. Like I said before, sometimes an idea needs more time to develop in your mind before it’s ready to be written. Really taking the time to step back and think about each idea, and how ready it is, is incredibly beneficial.

Step #3: Check the Market

Like everything in this world, trends in publishing come and go. Knowing the market – and what is selling and what isn’t – can help you decide which project to work on next. For example, vampires made their big splash with the release of Twilight, the House of Night series, and Vampire Academy over a decade ago. Since then, vampires and werewolves have had a hard time selling. Knowing this, my Vampire Huntress idea – as passionate as I am to work on it – isn’t the best project to pursue right now.

The same can be said for a lot of other ideas. YA Dystopia came and went with books like The Hunger Games and Divergent, and has been struggling to make a comeback. Knowing the market is incredibly beneficial to every author, and can really help you make certain choices on what to write next.

Step #4: Narrow it Down

After you’ve taken the time to reflect on all of your ideas, and pay attention to the market, it should become clear which ones are more developed than others. For some, everything will jump out at you: the characters, the conflict, the stakes, while other ideas may not jump out at all. This is where it’s time to narrow down your ideas into which ones are more ready.

Going back to my previous example above, I have six ideas I’ve pulled out to show you. Out of all of them, only three ideas are more developed, and some aren’t worth pursuing right now, due to market trends.

1.) YA Fantasy Thief Idea
2.) YA Secret Project Idea
3.) Adult Sci-Fi Idea

These three ideas have all had time to develop in my brain. The Adult sci-fi idea I actually got over a year ago and began actively working on, before I decided to tackle another project. The thief idea I’ve had in my brain for over six months. The secret project idea came to me out of the blue, and has been actively picking at my brain to be worked on. The point is – with all three of these ideas, I know the bare bones for the start of the story: The who, what, when, where, and why.

The other three ideas? I still have hardly any clue about the conflicts, stakes, or characters, and that lets me know that they still need time to rest and develop.

Step #5: Daydream

Once you’ve narrowed down your ideas, let your mind wander. Think about the ideas and your brain will do the rest. Over time, more ideas will begin to form. A more concrete plot will take shape. Subplots will begin to fill themselves in. Your characters will begin to take on lives of their own. And one idea will really begin to stand out amongst the rest.

This one idea – or maybe two or three – will start to call to you, to tell you it’s ready.

Step #6: Ask Yourself the Hard Questions

From the initial developing of an idea, to the writing, revising, and editing of a new project, we may be with it for months, or even years. As writers, we spend countless hours with our ideas, plots, and characters, and sometimes when choosing your next project, you’ll have to ask yourself the hard questions.

Do I feel confident in my writing abilities to tackle this project?

Do I feel passionate about this project?

Is this the novel I would want to debut with?

Am I willing to put the time and effort into this project?

Is there anything holding me back from writing this project?

Do I feel emotionally ready to tackle the themes of this project?

If you find yourself hesitating on any of these – you or your idea may not be ready yet. And that’s okay. Sometimes we need to be in the right headspace, or emotional state, to really tackle something we’re trying to say.

Step #7: Listen to your Heart – but Don’t Wait For Your Muse

Once you’ve completed the previous steps, one idea, or several, may be screaming at you that it’s time to be written. It’s time to sit down and plot that idea out, or just begin pantsing your way through it. I’m sure all of us writers have experienced this – when one idea is just screaming at you, and has its grip on your soul, and you know there’s nothing you can do but sit down and write it.

But the most important thing: Don’t wait for your muse.

I recently learned this the hard way. I was giving myself a break from writing, and actively thinking about my next projects, when I realized I had been sitting around waiting for ideas to spring into my head. I was waiting for plots to write themselves. I realized I had to get up and actively develop my plots and tackle my ideas. It can be fun for a while to sit around and daydream, and think of all your ideas, but there comes a point when you have to choose one, sit down, and work on it until it becomes a novel.

Whether it’s one project you’re working on, or three (like me!), the most important thing to do is start something and stick to it. Find an idea you’re passionate about, and keep working on it, no matter how hard it gets.


Choosing a new idea is never easy. But it’s important to choose a project you’ll feel passionate about working on. By finding that one idea and sticking to it, you’ll not only improve as a writer and creator, but you’ll fall in love with a brand new story you’ve created, and there’s nothing quite like it.

Do you have a different method for choosing your next book project? Let me know!

XOXO – Devon