Thursday, July 24, 2014

Dialogue - The Ultimate Writer's Guide

Dear Fellow Writer,

I hope you're writing and that you're happy.

TODAY, my darling wife has released a new book on fiction creation:

Dialogue - The Ultimate Writer's Guide
99 Cents for ONLY 24 hours - then it goes up to RKP: $7.49

To follow up on the runaway success of her Show Don't Tell book, Robyn Opie Parnell has compiled a new look (and the final word!) on creating the best dialogue for your fiction.

Remember, Robyn has had 94 books published by different publishers all over the world - so you can guarantee she knows exactly what she's talking about!

99 Cents for ONLY 24 hours - then it goes up to RKP: $7.49
Dialogue - The Ultimate Writer's Guide


On Wednesday, after six weeks of 2000+ words a day, I finished the first draft of my latest crime thriller: Purge. It's come in at 75,000 wordslonger than I expected. However, it may well double in size during the second draft - that's my thinking at the moment.

For the time being though, I will leave the first draft to thaw for the next month while I work on something else - probably a nonfiction project - and then return to the manuscript when I feel I have enough distance to rewrite the story as a full sized novel.

Click HERE to discover and peruse my Amazon books.

Keep writing!

Your First Week as a Full Time Writer

Your First Week as a Full Time Writer

Last week I said that you should plan to have just three main activities outlined at the beginning of your writing career.

1. Your number one priority (like novel writing etc.)

2. Your 'take a break' activity (blogging etc.)

3. The sure thing - the writing activity that will guarantee income (editing, ghosting etc.)

Why just three?

Mainly because, when you're starting your writing career, more than three will be too much to handle.

More than three and you'll spread yourself too thinly and likely achieve little - which will be frustrating to you and everyone around you.

Plus, your three main writing activities are not the only things you need to focus on during your working week. 
No. Think of your three 'things to do' as your core business.

But real life is not just about writing. 

In order to be a fully rounded person, you have other considerations too. 

Your health; your spiritual needs; your need to give love, affection and time to others; your need to study and learn about new things; your fundamental need for joy, happiness and your right to relax and let go sometimes.  

In life, everything is interconnected. 

When those around grow concerned about your intention to start a writing career, they're often worried that you will somehow change your priorities in regard to all the other things in your life. 

In order to counter this - because as a writer it is easy to get obsessed - you need to make sure that part of your weekly 'action plan' takes every aspect of your life into consideration.

Your Typical Working Week

When I made the decision to become a full time writer for the final time, I realized I would need to take a radical approach.

Previously I had discovered that working hard at writing all day, for some reason, did not cut it.

For instance, one of the times before, I went full force into writing plays and film scripts.

Fine for about two weeks. 

Then I started getting more interested in playing solitaire on the computer - and then a shoot em up game that I kept promising myself I'd stop after the next level. 

Within a short while I was drinking beer for inspiration. Nice but naughty.

Pretty soon I'd run out of money and within a mere six weeks, I was back at work as an office temp. D'oh!

Warning: this could happen to you if you don't plan for writing independence properly!

A time previous to that I'd gone all out to write a novel. 

After two weeks of writing all day, I noticed I was getting weird aches and pains in my back and sides. I kept getting up at first, pacing between sentences, then I decided that long walks might be good for me, then walks to friends and to the pub, then no sitting at all for long periods - instead using time for thinking while avoiding writing. 

Pretty soon I was looking up the Musicians Wanted ads and the novel was shelved...

While doing nothing but writing might sound glamorous and fulfilling at first, it rarely stays that way, unless you take into account that you're not just a writer, you're a person too - with other issues that need to be addressed.

The final time I launched into a full time writing career, the one I'm still on, fourteen years later, I did it properly.

Here are five questions I asked myself before I took the plunge:

               1. What am I going to do to relax?

               2. What am I going to do to keep healthy - mentally and physically?

               3. What am I going to do to have fun?

               4. What am I going to do to give?

               5. What am I going to do to show my appreciation for my partner?

To be honest it was these, non-writing questions that enabled me to stay motivated and focused on what had to be done over the coming years.

As an exercise, write your own answers to the above questions. 

During your working week, as well as allocating time to your writing, you must also allocate time to these other non-writing activities. 

Don't kid yourself into believing that you can focus on these other issues outside of the working day. You're designing a lifestyle here. You need to be a fully rounded person all of the time in order to write. You have to be whole, right from day one.

So instead of launching into only writing in my first month as a full time writer, I also made time for other things. 

For instance, I always took lunch breaks because I knew I needed them to unwind.

I also took time out to watch a fun TV show during the day.  

I spent an hour a day cleaning up the house because I knew my partner liked that. 

I gave away ten percent of everything I earned (which wasn't much!) to a local charity.

I turned off the computer for an hour or two every day so that I could read and study other writers.

I joined a gym so I could stay fit and went two or three times a week - during the day when it was nice and quiet.

I scheduled a trip out once a week, for a drive or a walk in the country.

In short, I made sure that I was mentally and physically self sufficient as a way of reinforcing to my subconscious that from now on, this is my life. 

I decided, right from day one, that there was no need to work flat out all the time at the beginning because I didn't intend to work flat out at anything ever again! 

Do you get what I mean?

If you're changing your life, you need to be realistic and honest with yourself. 

Changing everything all at once is not going to work. 

You're the way you are for a reason.

Don't just ask yourself what writing you want to do. Also ask, What do you need long term to remain comfortable, healthy and happy? 

Coming to terms with your answers to these personal questions, I believe, is crucial to your long term success.

Keep Writing!

Rob Parnell

Click on any of the covers to find out more!


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Dream Catching for Writers

Dear Fellow Writer,

Good to speak to you again.

Today we look at turning writing dreams into practical, credible goals - ones that you can publicly display and admit to - and can finally convince those around you are achievable.

In case you're keeping tabs on me: after six weeks I'm up to 65,000 words of my latest novel, just three chapters away from completing the first draft. Should be done by Monday.

Click HERE to discover and enjoy my Amazon books.
Keep writing! 

Practical Dream-Catching for Writers
Practical Dream Catching for Writers

Your First List

Make a list of all the things you want to have achieved in your writing career in the next ten years. The sky's the limit. Rock star’s careers, even some empires, rise and fall in less time.

Here's what your first list might look like:

               1. To have written ten bestselling novels
               2. To be a day time TV celebrity
               3. To be a NY Times columnist
               4. To have movies based on my books
               5. To be writing copy for a big ad agency
               6. To have met Stephen King / Stephenie Meyer
               7. To have earned at least ten million dollars from writing

And so on - list as many goals as you wish.

Next, be honest with yourself, today. You now need to look at your list and ask: Do I really want this stuff? More especially, Am I willing to do the work that these goals will entail?

Look, there's really no point knocking yourself out for the next few weeks, working on a big goal, no matter how far ahead in the future its realization, when you know in your heart that you're not going to be able to sustain the energy to pursue it to the bitter end.

Your energy levels, for one thing, dictate what you're capable of from one hour to the next. 

If you already know that you probably could not write for eight hours a day, every day, for five years, there's no point in holding onto a novel writing goal that requires so much supreme energy.

Being realistic is NOT about changing your goals because someone else says they're impossible or silly. Being realistic is about knowing what you're capable of - right now. Could you write for five to eight hours flat, today? Be honest.

Look at it this way. You'll probably relate. When I was working 9 to 5, I dreamed of writing all day on some novel or other - and couldn't imagine myself being happier. But the reality was different. Within six months of working full time as a writer, I realized that it was just too tiring to write all day.

I adjusted my schedule so that novel writing took up three hours a day. Okay, so it added time to how long it took to complete a novel but at least the novel's first draft could be finished in, say, six to eight weeks because I hadn't created an unrealistic expectation of finishing it too quickly - and probably getting blocked in the process.

The Second List

Go back and look at your list, changing some of the goals to outcomes that you absolutely know you have the energy for today. This is an exercise in discipline, a way of taking into account your limitations. This is healthy, and remaining healthy, mentally and physically, is a large part of changing your life for the better.

If in doubt, be easy on yourself. There is time, over ten years there’s lots of it.

If you know you're essentially lazy or a slow worker, it's of paramount importance that you take that into account, rather than having to review your action plans later - and continually.

Also, don't be afraid to see yourself having fun and taking it easy in the future.

Working hard is no guarantee of productivity or indeed success. You probably know people who seem to work all hours and get nothing much done - especially middle-management office workers. Busy does not always equal effective

You are more likely to achieve your aims when you truly know yourself and your capabilities.

Construction Time

When you're satisfied with your list of 'realistic' goals, print them off. Read them often, carry them around with you. Let the list become you - and you become it. Change it if it doesn't feel right.

Now we're ready to get specific.

From your list of dream writing activities, you now need to pick three. Yes, just three activities. And they must fall under the following headings:

               1. Favorite

               2. Second favorite

               3. The sure thing.

The favorite is the one writing activity you absolutely love and must do, the one that fires your soul and will keep you thrilled. You'll know which this is because it will make you tingle at the thought of it.

You second favorite is your back up activity: the work you'll turn to when you want something relaxing and rewarding but not too stressful. It could be writing blogs or short articles, website designing, short story writing or, if you really need a break, even train-spotting or birding.

The sure thing is the writing activity which represents cash in the bank. The one thing you can do that will always make money. You'll probably know what this is, even if it fills you with dread. It could be writing ebooks, editing other people's books or ghost writing, or giving talks on writing in your local community. Whatever you choose, you must have ONE THING that is going to bring in money, guaranteed.

You'll need this for three main reasons:

1. Without money coming in, you won't be able to do what you love (your number one activity)

2. Your friends, family and especially your partner will want to know what you're going to do to bring income into your new life as a writer

3. For your sanity's sake, you need to make money from your dream life

Without money as validation, you're going to find a new life as a writer very tough going. 

Those around you will take every opportunity to get you back to a proper job, so you need to feel you made the right decision - and there's nothing like cash crossing your palm to help that feeling.

Plus, when the inevitable happens and your partner gets antsy with you about 'sitting around all day doing nothing', as they always do at some point, you'll have a comeback. My experience is that although partners will generally club together and help each other out financially if both are working, the situation changes when one stops earning income.

The working partner will often isolate you (unless he or she is a writer too) and leave you high and dry when you need money. It's human nature. You need to be prepared for this eventuality and have a steady supply of cash coming in to counter the inevitable.

Take your list of three writing activities, print it out and pin it somewhere prominent, where you and everyone in your house can see it. This is your public declaration of intent. When asked about it, explain what the list means and how it will work in practice.

This exercise should go some way to reassuring your partner, your friends and your family that your writing dream is not just a fantasy.

You literally mean business.

Keep Writing!
Rob Parnell

Click on any of the covers to find out more!

The Easy Way to Write

Welcome to the official blog of the Easy Way to Write from Rob Parnell, updated weekly - sometimes more often!