Why Smart People Get Stuck

Why Smart People Get Stuck

Oddly enough, some of the smartest people I know suffer the most from writer’s block. Perhaps it’s because they have always achieved what they set out to do, that they won’t settle for anything other than perfection.

There’s one sure fire way to overcome writers block and that’s to write. Easier said than done. Or is it?

Take a minute to answer these questions…

Do you write your topic sentence and then rewrite it over and over until it’s perfect?
Do you need to map out every step of your novel before you start?
Do you reread passages that you’ve written before you’re finished with your project?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you’re prone to suffering from writer’s block. Although good writing requires outlining, rewriting and lots of editing, don’t make the mistake of stopping your writing flow in order to make it perfect the first time. There’s plenty of time to rewrite…once you get everything on the page.

Let it pour out of you, even if you’re meandering, taking too long, and rehashing the same point. Writing is akin to when you turn on the garden hose. At first, only a few trickles come out, but once that water reaches the nozzle, it begins to pour. When that happens, you’ll feel satisfied that you got a significant number of words down on the page and the feeling will carry over to your next writing session.

So what are you waiting for? It’s time to write that first draft and relish in the fact that it will certainly need to be rewritten. Need help with getting started? I’m just an email away.

Character Counts

Character Counts

How do you create a memorable character? Here are some suggestions and food for thought…

1. Think about where they’re from and what they’ve been through. It doesn’t have to make it into the story, but the answer should shape their personality.

2. They don’t have to be perfectly beautiful. Sometimes, an interesting flaw is actually what draws someone to another. One green eye, one blue eye? It works for David Bowie and Kate Bosworth.

3. Speaking of food for thought…consider their eccentricities. Do they eat the same meal every morning? Do they have any peculiar ticks or habits?

4. Who do they hang with? How does your character’s family and friends affect them?

5. Post man, garbage man, man of steel? What’s your character’s job and how does it make its way into your story?

Most importantly, don’t settle for the first idea that strikes you. If your character faces a dilemma, think of ten ways they could possibly solve it before deciding which one will make it into your story.

Bad Review Blues?

Bad Review Blues?

How do you handle bad reviews?

A. Fight fire with fire by writing a rebuttal to the review, assuming that the reader has no taste whatsoever.

B. Write an apology letter to the reviewer for wasting their time and promise that your next book will be better.

C. Take a day to digest what was said, compare it to other reviews, and then decide if there is merit to the review.

The answer? C.

It’s never a good idea to react first and think later. This is particularly true with book reviews.

To avoid bad reviews in the future, become a stronger writer. First, read! Get a feel for the genre that you want to write in. Second, write even when you don’t feel like writing. If the book isn’t flowing, then try something to get you out of writer’s block such as writing a character profile.

You can avoid bad reviews in the future by sending your writing out to beta readers before you publish. Survey your friends and family about what they liked and didn’t like. If many people have the same complaint about a story, there’s probably some merit to it. But, if the reviews are mixed with some people loving it while others hated it, perhaps that’s a good sign. It means that you touched a nerve and got people talking, which at the end of the day is a sign of a powerful book.

Inspire a Character

Inspire a Character

Evatopia is holding an Inspire a Character Contest.

The winner will get a written part in an upcoming Evatopia author book and be added to the Acknowledgments page. In order to create the written segment, we’ll send you a questionnaire asking for your name, physical description, and one or two questions about your likes and dislikes.

Here’s how to participate…for each task you get more points, which helps your chances of winning.

* Leave a comment on this blog post (+ 1 point)
* Like us on Twitter (+ 1 point)
* Follow us on Facebook (+ 1 point)
* Tweet about the contest (+ 1 point)
* Share the contest to your Facebook page (+ 1 point)
* Mention the contest on your blog (+ 1 point)

Remember to comment on FB and Twitter that you participated so that we can count your entry including your blog post. This contest is open until January 31 and the winner will be announced on February 1st along with the book that they will be included within.

In the event that more than one person receives the same amount of points, those with the most points will be drawn at random.

Good luck!

Banish the Blank Page

Banish the Blank Page

Even the most prolific writers have bouts of dealing with a blank page. So how do you transport yourself from a time when it doesn’t seem like there’s an idea alive in your brain to the moments when your fingers can’t fly across the keyboard fast enough?

In the words of Nike…just do it.

My best advice comes from the great writing teacher and author Anne Lamott who has devoted chapters to the problem of writer’s block. My favorite chapter from her book, “Bird by Bird,” is called Shitty First Drafts and that’s just what you have to embrace.

When writer’s block strikes, don’t be afraid of a shitty first draft. Just get an idea out on the page, don’t worry about how it reads because once you start it’s like a cold car engine — you’ll warm up and then rev up. You’ll unleash your creativity and then the fun part comes…when you’ve got a completed, first draft and you can edit.

Writing takes mental energy. The blank page and those first words can leave you feeling vulnerable, but persevere by putting anything down. It’s not only the best way to start your project, but to finish it as well.

What are you writing right now?

What are you writing right now?

Novel, novella, novelette, short story…what are you working on right now?

Although I’m a big proponent of mapping out your work in order to avoid writer’s block when you hit a stumbling block, sometimes the work and the creative forces take over. That’s a good thing. The idea for a short story suddenly grows into a full-fledge novel with interweaving story lines, multiple characters, and enough twists and turns to keep a mystery maven happy.

But what if that’s not the case? What if you have a great idea, but for the life of you, only 5,000 words come out of your brain. As long as they are a fantastically woven, tightly bound 5,000 words, then it’s no problem.

Don’t get me wrong. Every story, whether it’s a short story or an 80,000 word novel, must follow strong rules of plotting and pacing in order to keep the reader interested and avoid rambling thoughts. However, there is merit in short works as well. Old-time radio thrived on serialized stories and they’re making a come back in print versions.

Here’s a guideline by word count of the different formats:
Novel: a work of 40,000 words or more
Novella: a work of at least 17,500 words, but under 40,000 words
Novelette: a work of at least 7,500 words, but under 17,500 words
Short story: a work of under 7,500 words

So whatever you’re working on make it your best work possible by ensuring your characters are interesting, the dialogue is compelling, and the plot is not predictable. Give your readers what they want, and give yourself a break in knowing that size doesn’t matter…unless you’re writing a passage in a romance novel!

Set Your 2014 Writing Goals

Set Your 2014 Writing Goals

Before you can achieve your goals, you need to first assess where you’re starting from. What writing milestones did you hit in 2013? Even if you only write down, “I came up with a great idea for a book — and that’s all,” it’s okay. You need to start somewhere. So let’s do this…

List what skills you have up your sleeve. Here are some examples:
1. I’ve got an idea for a romance novel.
2. I launched a social media campaign.
3. I thought of a great scene.

That’s a great start! Never throw away tiny bits of success. You witnessed a couple in a park and imagined how the scene plays out. Put that in a file and save it for a spot in your future book.

Now, determine your end-goal. Where do you want to get with your writing in 2014?

If the answer is I want to write a novel…or two or three. Then write down what steps need to be taken to achieve that goal. Now, work backwards.

1. Plot out what it takes to reach your milestones.
2. Don’t forget to write down the possible pit falls in the road in order to sidestep those.
3. Set mini-goals that you can easily achieve along the way.

Ready, set, go!

Take that first, important (but maybe scary) step. What can you do right now to achieve your goal?
1. Start slowly by writing down the concept.
2. Figure out who your characters are.
3. Describe each of them.
4. Ask yourself questions.
5. Set a writing time for each day…or if that’s not part of your goal, then each week.

And if you need help along the way, Evatopia is here. You can do it. Write. Now.

Reading, Writing, Resolutions

Reading, Writing, Resolutions

I personally love setting a New Year’s resolution. It usually goes something like this…First, find more time to read for pleasure, not just for work. Second, get organized so that I can accomplish my first goal.

As I talk to my friends and co-workers about their resolutions, I find that there are certain universal truths. Here are the ones that I find are particularly applicable to writers.

1. If you want something done, ask a busy person.
2. Dream big and don’t say, “I can’t.”
3. Trust in your ability to learn, but rely on others.

We’re all busy. But how often have you read a writer’s success story and marveled at how they cranked out a book at some ungodly hour before going off to their day job? Busy people know how to cram more into their day and work smarter. You want to write a book? You say you don’t have time? Start with one page. Now write. Every day. And when someone asks how you do it? Tell them that you make time for your writing because it’s important to you.

This brings me to my second point. You can become one of those successful, busy people. What is your dream? It doesn’t matter how hard it is to reach. Just stretch, climb, and fight for it. Even if you don’t reach best-seller status, you’re a lot closer than if you hadn’t tried. Remember point #1 above? You’re writing every day and pretty soon, you’ve created a book, a marketing plan, a dream.

Now what if you know the beginning of your story, but not the end? What if you know that there is a world of book bloggers out there, but you don’t know any personally? Research is your friend. Read books by authors you admire. A good writer is also an avid reader. As for marketing, there is a wealth of information available. Familiarize yourself so that you can hire your support wisely. When writers come to Evatopia for help, I always admire the ones who know what challenges they face and come to us for help.

So set your resolutions and approach 2014 with a smart, I-can-do-anything attitude.

Judge a Book by its Cover

Judge a Book by its Cover

Do book covers help sell the book? You bet they do. Shirtless men, beach scenes and animals all feature prominently in many best sellers.

When someone says, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” that might be fine for dating, but not in the publishing world. According to BookBub, a site that promotes bargain ebooks from newbies all the way to New York Times best-sellers, there are some distinct features of successful covers. [Read more...]

All Eyes on Evatopia

All Eyes on Evatopia

Extra! Extra! You can read all about Evatopia in an Examiner.com feature. We’re so proud of our book and script trailers, and having this feature about them is just icing on the cake.

Let us know if we can help get some eyeballs on your next project.