10 Ways for Writers to Prepare for 2012, New Year intentions, writer preparation, Writing, writing space

10 Ways for Writers to Prepare for 2012

“For every minute spent in organizing, an hour is earned.” Ben Franklin

Maybe an hour is a stretch, but I do believe there is a lot of truth in that quote, especially when it comes to daily writing. Over the last year I found many opportunities to procrastinate from my writing schedule. Some days my lack of preparation added to this and caused me wasted time, energy, more gas, money, and late assignments.

This year I used the time after Christmas to think about my writing life for the coming year. I read about setting an intention for the new year from Rose Molinary over at Mamiverse. After I went through her simple exercise I came up with my intention for the year: Create. There are several words to add to this intention, like “Create joy…space…comfort…revisions…manuscripts…query letters…published novels.”

After a few minutes of intentional dreaming I looked at my work space and decided I needed to make a few changes. I want to bring more comfort for daily writing sessions and at the same time stop the time wasters which delay my writing. I found the following changes to my writing space useful.  (The laptop, computer, or netbook is a given as is a computer desk).

1-Notebooks, pens, large post-its, index cards, pushpins: A 100 page or more spiral bound notebook for each manuscript you’re writing. Buy three or four at a time. Make sure it lays flat. If there are pocket holders inside all the better for notes or torn out pages from somewhere else. Use one notebook for ideas and writing tips or resources, one to take to writing classes or critique groups, one to journal scenes, and one to use when you begin to revise your manuscript.
Use colorful, large sticky notes (3×3) to remind you of items you don’t want to forget during that writing session. Stick notes on your laptop, printer, desk, binder, notebook or forehead. Use index cards to write down each scene, number them and kept them bundled with a rubber band. Pushpins are useful to stick photos, inspirational quotes, and index cards on your writing wall or bulletin board.
2-Wireless mouse and/or keyboard: get comfortable, you are in it for the long haul. Many of these are now on sale.
3- The Chicago Manual of Style, and/or Strunk and White. Add a dictionary and Thesaurus if you find it faster than searching for a term online.
4-A sturdy comfortable chair. Spring for an ergonomic chair but if not use a comfortable chair with a pillow for your back if there is no lumbar support. If you have a wireless keyboard you can switch to a recliner if you want. For an indepth article on how to ergonomically optimize your workplace read this article by Lifehacker. I didn’t know the pinch in my shoulders came from having my laptop below the correct eye level.
5-Printer paper: Two reams minimum. One quality type for printed manuscript to agent and one economy one for drafts and to print your stuff for critiques or writing class. If you find a sale on paper buy more. 
6-Ink Cartridges: Use a printer like HP or Epson that takes refillable ink. This has been a big expensive for me this year and I’m now using another printer. Walgreen’s and Costco have frequent specials throughout the year for refills at $8-12 dollars. That beats non refillable ink cartridges of $26-30 each. If you’re printing out pages for critique groups and drafts you’ll save a bundle when you have refillable ink cartridges.
7-Bulletin board and/or white board. These are available at craft stores and most any large department store. Those fabric covered boards work just as well. You just need a place to pin up inspirational quotes, writing projects, favorite motivational photos, index cards, etc.
8-Three ring binders: At least 2 inch ring size. You need something to hold your printed pages during your revisions.
9-Color folders: use them to hold your printed drafts, writing resources, critiques, edited material, notes, the receipts you’ve spent on your writing. Label them and keep these near your writing area. Use them at the end of the day to file research notes or reminders.
10-Large coffee/tea mug and coaster. If you’re a heavy drinker, look for a carafe to keep your beverage hot or cold. It can hold whatever beverage suits you. No more extra trips to the kitchen for refills.  Liquor is not recommended or you may fall off your ergonomically correct chair. 
Maybe you have some favorite preparation items to share? I need all the help I can get. 
Now get thee to the Dollar Store or Staples and get yourself prepared for a great year of creating and writing.  
2011 Best of Writing, E-books, Elements of Style, Future of Reading, Social Media platform, Strunk and White, Writing

2011 Best of Writing Articles and a Rap on Writing

The year is coming to a close and with it another chapter in the book of my writing life. The generosity of writer’s, agents, and publisher’s who blog have helped me shorten my learning curve and fuel my desire to continue writing into 2012.
To help prepare one in the endeavor of becoming a writer I’ve done a little research on the best articles on writing and publishing. In the writing world the ongoing debate of e-books versus traditional publishing, the future of reading, and building social media platforms seemed to dominate the writer’s landscape. With all of that information it’s easy to get overwhelmed. 

To quickly get a ‘lay of the land’ here are two links to the best of 2011 articles on writing. And for those who need tough love and ongoing assistance follow The Evil Editor. This site focuses on queries, synopses, and the beginning pages of a story. If you are a non-techie but want to learn and improve in social media, podcasting, and other tech advice for authors, go to Author Media.

Writer’s Digest assembled The 18 Most Popular Articles on Writing. They culled through 1,300 articles and found the most widely read articles on fiction and non-fiction writing tips, agenting, publishing, and writing query letters.

From Jane Friedman we have the 12 Must Read Articles of 2011.

For those who are visual and auditory learners, this post ends with a refresher on Strunk and White’s Elements of Style. In rap. (Turn off the juke box at the bottom unless you want a real music experience).

I hope you feel prepared to march forward and give your computer chair a twirl, hover your fingers over the keyboard, and begin writing on January 1, 2012. (Even if it’s at 11:00 p.m.). 

Encouragement, Jane Friedman, Kirsten Lamb, Rachel Gardner, Self Publishing, Writer Unboxed, Writing, Writing blogs, Writing classes, Writing Resources

How to Save Time for Writing

There are few things I like to do other than write or find writing resources to help me become a better writer. Sure I miss watching my favorite television shows, coffee with friends, walking the dog, and watching my kids grow (I’m lying they are all 18-25, they’re grown). Sometimes I prefer to write than go on a date but perhaps that will change when the right one comes along. How I save time for writing besides the aforementioned is to look for shortcuts, i.e. good advice. Why reinvent the wheel? 

When I find great resources I believe in sharing them to help the next writer in his/her endeavor. Many publishers, agents, and authors have blogs that help writers become better. I usually stay away from any with bells and whistles on their blogs (flickering ads) or anyone admantly pushing their book. I don’t mind that their book cover is on their sidebar I just don’t want flashing arrows pointing to it or their ad popping up on my screen.
In the past few months I’ve found that I’ve kept returning to the same bloggers, who I believe are experts in the writing field. These are, in no particular order:
Jane Friedman‘s blog. She featured Writing Advice That Saves You 5 Years. It links to Steal This List. She has an archive of free advice for writers and is an editor at Writer’s Digest, a magazine I finally subscribed to after reading it at the library for four months.

And for plot and structure, I know no better teacher than The Plot Whisper. I learn better when I can read something and hear something. TPW has YouTube videos on each lesson, for FREE. 

Kirsten Lamb is the Queen of Blogging and Social Media. Her post The Right Way, Wrong Way, Smart Way caught my attention and is well worth the read. 
Rachell Gardner is a literary agent who has resources for writers who want to improve their craft and prepare themselves for publication. 
Writer Unboxed was started by two aspiring writers who began a community of contributing authors. They are “about the craft and business of fiction.” 

Deciding to go the e-book route and self publish, Joe Konrath’s blog tells it like it is-to him. He makes a lot of sense (he has sold books the traditional way) and now sells tons of his books, for e-readers. 

Also check out some more of my favorites listed on Top Ten Blogs for Writers

These resources save you time and money because many people pay for the kind of information these writers give and you can read them whenever you carve out 10 minutes. If you haven’t fulfilled your dream of writing a family history, memoir, magazine article or essay, here’s your chance to start again in the new year and save time to watch your children grow or go on that date. 
Genre Definitions, Genre rules, plotting, Writing

Genre Rules

It’s helpful to know what genre you will be writing before you start typing, don’t you think. If you’re a total pantser (flying by the seat of your pants) maybe you don’t. If you are in full tuxedo when you sit down to write, after you’ve written your “log line,” “detailed outline with plot twists,” and charted your story on a graph, before you write, then you can skip this post.
I’m a half-*ssed pantser myself. This means that I write down an idea for a story and think about the beginning and end. I’m sure there are better ways, but I’m being honest here. It’s the way I’ve approached my writing. After I jot down the idea I think about it some more, flesh it out and write down a one to three sentence description of the story. Then I do a loose outline of the story and that’s where I find the middle.
Before today I hadn’t thought too much about Genre rules, where it fits in the above scenario and all that it entails. But I came across two good blog posts about the ‘rules,’ of Young Adult, Literary Fiction, Thriller, Mystery, and Romance Genre.
Kristen Lamb says that understanding genre can help guide you in plotting your novel. Each genre has it’s own rules and expectations. Once you know the rules you know how to begin and navigate through your novel. She has written several posts on structure during the last two weeks. Ms. Lamb has a way of putting things that get her ideas across in a novel way,
In writing as in food, some combinations are never meant to go together. Paranormal thriller? Okay. Cool. Popcorn jelly beans. Literary thriller? Tuna ice cream of the writing world. Just my POV.”
Writer’s blog gives similar info on rules and word count on Historical Fiction, Horror, and Old Western Genre’s. They have another post on genres defined, including Chic Lit, Chica Lit, and Mommy Lit (do they really call these subgenre’s of Women’s Fiction these names?)
After Ms.Lamb is done with her posts this month, she will have made me lose my pants. You know, like Maya Angelou says: You do better when you know better.