Are you one of those writers who have been writing for years, and you have a zillion novel starts but nothing finished? That was me to a tee.

When I would bemoan this to my writers group, I was often told that I just needed to sit myself down in a chair and write. Get through it, no matter what it takes—bribes, threats, whatever.

I suppose there is some wisdom to this. The problem is, when I force myself to write, my writing comes out sounding, well, forced. Stilted. Unwieldy.

In the past few years, however, I’ve discovered that I work better, longer and more enthusiastically when I follow my bliss. I generally have two or three projects going at a time. When I get tired or stuck on one, I move to another one. I “go where the energy flows.”

What I’ve found is that I’m writing more and better—and I’m finishing things.

What works best for you?

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The most important step in writing a book is writing a book.

Seems obvious. But how many wanna-be writers never sit themselves down and actually write a book?

Lots. Most, in fact.

That’s why writing groups, book-in-a-month challenges (BIAMs), and NaNoWriMo are good things to consider participating in.

NaNoWriMo happens every November and it’s a fun writing challenge. If you’ve never heard of it, go check it out. Then come back here and let us know if you’re participating. If you want writing buddies, leave your username in the comments.

And just to make this a little more exciting, I have a prize—a book (not sure which title yet)—I’ll be giving away in a random drawing from everyone who lets me know they’re participating in NaNoWriMo and who successfully completes the 50,000 word goal.

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Writing Tip Tuesday: The Snowflake Method

October 20, 2009

If you’re having trouble getting your basic novel idea worked out and expanded, you might consider trying The Snowflake Method. This method of writing fiction will not work for everyone, but I’ve had some success with it and I’ve talked to other writers who have liked using it. Basically, you start with one sentence, and […]

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Writing Tip Tuesday: The First Page

October 13, 2009

I cannot stress enough the importance of your first page, first paragraph, first sentence. It doesn’t need to be perfect during your first draft. But when you go back to revise, put everything you’ve got into that beginning. The beginning needs to draw the reader in, captivate them, intrigue them, grab them around the throat […]

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WTT: You Can’t Name a White Girl LaQuisha

September 22, 2009

—unless you have a really, really, really good reason and it better be an integral part of the storyline. Not just something made up as an excuse to have a unique and cutesy name. Naming characters is important to your story and to your character development. You don’t want to spend weeks on it, but […]

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Writing Tip Tuesday: Consistency

August 4, 2009

When writing an inspirational biography to an LDS audience, do you think it’s best to use serial commas? A serial comma is when a comma is used in a series, for example: I put caramel syrup, hot fudge, and whipped cream on my ice cream sundae. The red one in front of the “and” is […]

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Writing Tip Tuesday: Regular Doses of Inspiration

July 28, 2009

I am sure that there are writers out there who can write in a vacuum. They don’t need a how-to book or a critique group. They don’t need support or encouragement or inspiration. And they certainly don’t need to be spending their money on anything that might give them a leg up in the publishing […]

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Christmas Story Contest

July 7, 2009

Updated 07/08/09 (see bolded purple info below) Writing Tip Tuesday: Enter contests. Like this one. . . Remember that Christmas Story Contest I mentioned last month? Well, here it is. LDSP’s 2009 Christmas Story Contest Prize: Publication in a Christmas collection that will be published and ready for sale in October. Submission Rules: FOLLOW rules […]

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WTT: What Should I Write?

June 23, 2009

Ideas for books come from a zillion places. Sometimes a character just pops into your mind and refuses to leave. Their voice must be heard and you build your story around them. Sometimes you’ll dream a scene, or an entire plot, and fashion your book from that. Sometimes a current event on the news or […]

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Writing Tip Tuesday: For Left-Brained Writers Only

June 2, 2009

All you right-brained, go-with-the-flow, write-by-the-seat-of-your-pants type people—stop reading now. This post will just frustrate you and you’ll feel like you have to leave nasty anonymous comments pointing out that I don’t know what I’m talking about. But for writers who are a little more left-brained and especially those who are working on their first novels. […]

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Writing Tip Tuesday: Giving Your Characters Voice

May 26, 2009

I’ve read several novels lately where all the characters sound the same; you can’t tell them apart without a dialogue tag. Sometimes I’ve even had to retrace a conversation between two people back to the last dialogue tag and then count them out to know who’s talking. Ooops. Not a good thing. Here are some […]

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Writing Tip Tuesday: Give it a Rest!

May 12, 2009

Seriously. Sometimes, the best thing you can do for your writing is to take a break. This is especially true during the editing phase. Let it sit for a day or week. Then go back to it with fresh eyes and a fresh brain. It’s also good to take an occasional day away from your […]

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Writing Tip Tuesday: Super Glue, Epoxy and Duct Tape

May 5, 2009

One of the most common laments from new writers—and even from more experienced writers who have fallen off track—is, “Where do I find the time to write?” The answer is, you don’t FIND it. You MAKE it. Simple as that. We all have people and responsibilities tugging us away from our computer or notebook. Whether […]

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Grammar and Writing Resource Books

April 23, 2007

What writing books would you recommend? I’ve heard that some rules of grammar have changed/are changing–how do we keep up? Much as I personally hate it, grammar rules change over time (ex: lit vs lighted). Even the experts disagree about what is correct grammar and they will argue over something as “simple” as comma placement, […]

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