Posted in Creative WRiting

Writing Tips Alphabet Series – B is for… Books.

 B is for books.

Maybe this one is a no brainer. And maybe this is something that everyone knows about… but it’s still a tip that I’m going to give, because you’d be shocked at how many people say that they don’t have to read to be able to write well.

I honestly don’t like to give hard, fast rules about how to do anything. Most of the time, I would tell people that they can do whatever they want, however they want, and there are always ways to figure out how to get your writing done… but I’m actually going to stand pretty firm on this one.

One of the best ways, one of the real ways to get better as a writer is to read. A lot. Books are so important — you wouldn’t be a doctor without checking out methods, without taking classes. You wouldn’t try to be an electrician without some kind of apprenticeship. Reading a lot is the way that a writer has an apprenticeship, honestly. 

Read a lot in the genre you want to write. Read out of the genre that you want to read. Read masters and read classics. Just… read. It will expand your understanding of the craft, it will give you ideas and inspiration. Pay attention to how your favorites form sentences and what it is about the paragraphs and storyline and characters that really catch your attention.

Study the things that you read — don’t just look at it as a reader. Pick your favorites and look at them as a writer. I find that doing that is actually a fantastic way to realize what it is about writing that is appealing to you, and therefore learn how to apply that to your own writing. 

There’s a lot of things that we can do to improve ourselves, and there’s a lot of things that we can do to get better. Practice is certainly one of them… but studying is the other. And you could study grammar and sentence structure until you were blue in the face, but unless you really study story, I don’t think that you can improve in the same way that you would if you did.

Like I said, I usually am pretty flexible on what is a hard and fast rule, but this is one that I’m going to stick by. I know that not everyone enjoys reading — but there’s ways around that. Audiobooks, shorter novellas, visual novels, there are so many options so that you’re still consuming storytelling without having to get into something that you would otherwise not enjoy.

So do it ❤ Pick up a book. Pick your favorite. And then study it and apply! You’ve got this! 

Until next time, y'all!
Keep writing and writing, and keep being awesome!
Author Amanda McCormick
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Posted in Creative WRiting

Writing Tips Alphabet Series – A is for… Accountability.

ac·count·a·bil·i·ty/əˌkoun(t)əˈbilədē/Learn to pronouncenoun

  1. the fact or condition of being accountable; responsibility.”their lack of accountability has corroded public respect”

I know that I’ve talked about this a few times, but I feel like I have a little more experience in this now that I’ve completed MilWordy. I can tell you that it wasn’t the drive to get to a million words that got me there as much as it was the spreadsheet where I was recording the data.

You see, I shared that spreadsheet with about 20+ other people on my writing server. Every day, we’d be able to check in with one another. A friend and I were basically racing to the million words (we hit it on the same day, ha). I’ve learned that, at least for me, having someone who knows your goals and can encourage you and keep you on them is so helpful for getting writing done.

Now, you don’t have to just be in a Discord group to do that — you could find a local writing group. You could even just tell your friends/significant other/parents/whoever is your source of encouragement.

Before I started on the spreadsheet, I had a friend that really kept me accountable. Basically, having someone message you and say, “How is the writing going”, and they actually know if your progress is progress… it helps.

IF you don’t want to tell anyone about it, don’t want to communicate with people, there are other forms of accountability. You can post your goals to your social media — I think it’s cool to see people give a goal in the morning and then an update before they go to sleep. Even though I’m a stranger to you, you better believe that I’m going to be pushing and cheering for you the entire time, and I will drop some love on both of those posts to let you know that I see your goal and I’m rooting for you to hit it.

If you’re more of a ‘sometimes’ writer, a great way to do accountability is NaNoWriMo and the various versions of camp that have come from it. (For those of you who don’t know, National Novel Writing Month comes around every november, and thousands of people from all around the world come together for a mad dash of writing 50,000 words in one month!). There are forums there, and it’s where I’ve made so many of my amazing friends!

So yes, A is for Accountability! Find someone who can boost you up, who you can hold yourself responsible to, and cling to that if you can!

Until next time, y'all!
Keep writing and writing, and keep being awesome!
Author Amanda McCormick
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Posted in Creative WRiting

Writing Tips A-Z (Part 2)

Oh hey! It’s going to be a blast from the past! I was looking around my blog and I realized that it would be a lot of fun to revisit some of the writing challenges that I’ve done years ago and see how much I’ve changed and grown since then! So! I’m going to do my Alphabet Writing Series again (clicky click to check out the old one)! I’ll make sure not to repeat the advice that I gave before (unless I have a new take on it) and I’ll probably be cross posting this to my other social media platforms!

I’m really excited for this and I can’t wait! I’ll either be starting later tonight or tomorrow!

Until next time, y'all!
Keep writing and writing, and keep being awesome!
Author Amanda McCormick
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Posted in Creative WRiting

Refilling the Well

I haven’t been writing a ton lately — though, I shouldn’t really say that I haven’t been writing a lot. I’ve done probably close to 70,000 words.

Maybe more.

That’s the actual problem — I spent 6 months recording my writing every day. I recorded where the writing was going, what I was working on… pretty much logging my every move.

And it wasn’t just that. I spent six months writing like it was the last six months I would ever be able to get out words… because I randomly decided that I was going to write one million words in a year.

And then for some reason I decided that I was going to do it in half that time.

I have always been the kind of person who likes to push myself to see how much I can accomplish, how fast I can write. What the quality could be pushed too even though I was pulling 20,000 word days. And honestly, even though I got a little jibberish towards the end, I was pretty pleased with what I turned out.

And it wasn’t that I was burned out from writing — like I said, I’ve still done about 70,000-100,000 words since March. But… I haven’t been recording.

I haven’t been taking it super seriously.

I took a bit of a break, and that was probably good for me. For a while, I didn’t do anything but watch a ton of streamers and writing a ton of fanfics… and now I’ve crossed from that stage to wanting to read a lot.

We refill our creative wells in different manners. Writing a bunch of fanfiction actually makes my brain excited to write novels. And then reading… well… reading really, really gets me in the mood to write. I recently got a fantastic pair of wireless earbuds that is allowing me to listen to audiobooks a ton, which is helping me to get through a lot more books.

I’m pretty happy with the spot that I’m in, creative-wise. I had a few days where I felt like I wasn’t doing anything, where I felt like I was slacking and failing as a writer because I wasn’t cranking out 20,000 words a day.

And then I got over that, because it’s not realistic to keep up with that pace and I realize that.

But… pushing myself in that fashion made me realize what my limits were, what my minimum could be. A while ago, I thought that 1,000 words a day was a good minimum for me.

I’m thinking once I get back into daily writing and recording, I’m going to up it to 2,500 or 3,000. I don’t think that it will be much of an issue once I get back into the swing of things.

And even though I’ve fallen off of it majorly, I want to get back to recording my writing daily. I think maybe if I do end up starting a TikTok, I might even start recording it there verbally so I can have a new level of accountability.

The possibilities are endless. I’m going to kind of just be lazy and read as many books as I can for the rest of this month… and then I think next month I’m going to start really working on writing/recording/noveling again.

I’m excited. And honestly, if anyone here would like, feel free to join in on the ride ❤ Accountability buddies are so important.

In the meantime, I’m trying to figure out what kind of blogs people might like to see! If you have any ideas, let me know! And if you have any good book suggestions, let me know!

I’m excited.

Until next time, y'all!
Keep writing and writing, and keep being awesome!
Author Amanda McCormick
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Posted in Creative WRiting

MilWordy and Life.

 Gosh, so… where have I been? I was updating you guys on Milwordy. It’s a thing that I started in September and the goal was to write one million words in a year.

Okay, so anyone who follows me knows that I kinda overdo things. That I’ve always kinda over do things, really. Which means that I’ve been… away from writing on my blog because I’ve been…

Focused on writing?

Does that make sense?

I hope that makes sense.

Anyway, I’m pleased to say that I hit the one million markbefore February ended. That means that I wrote one million words in six months.

Yeah, I told you I kind of overdo things.

So my focus has been wildly on that — I haven’t really been thinking of much else. The good news is, I did crank out an entirely new book and some of a few others. And a second draft!

The bad news is… I let my blog slip. I really hate doing that, and I would like to be updating this sucker at least once a week if I can (more, if I could ever establish proper habits). So, I’m back at it again now that my MilWordy goals have been met.

And where am I going with it after now, since I have six months left?

I set a goal for two-million words in one year. I really don’t expect to hit that. Like, that’s lofty goals and I don’t know that I wanna push myself through pure insanity again. It was a lot, and I’m really proud of the fact that I got as far as I got… and I’m really enjoying the break that I’ve been taking for the past little bit.

I’m probably going to ease back into writing. I’m kind of reading through an entire manga (because I want to ruin my life with Attack on Titan), but after I’m done with that, I’m planning on setting my goal toward 1,000 a day. And then moving that up to 2,000 a day. And then getting that back up to 5,000 a day. If there’s anything that MilWordy taught me, it was the fact that if I’m really working at it, I can write 10,000 words easily by noon.

So cutting it down to 5,000 for the entire day shouldn’t really be pushing myself. During that time, I had 30,000 word days. They were stressful and exhausting and rewarding… and I don’t want to ever feel like I need to have days that large again.

But at the same time, I want to be able to if I randomly needed or wanted to.

I don’t know. MilWordy was really a good practice for me to see where my limits were, where I could push myself past. One of these days when I have the day completely to myself, I’m going to see how much I can really write within a 24 hour period. We do 24 hour write-a-thons on my writing server every month. I wanna really get to it.

So… yeah.

I guess that’s an update on me? I’ve been writing a lot, and now I”m going to turn back to putting that writing into my blog and other places! I can’t wait to get back to being here on the regular!

If there’s anything y’all want me to write about or anything you want to see, let me know! 

Until next time, y'all!
Keep writing and writing, and keep being awesome!
Author Amanda McCormick
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Posted in Creative WRiting

Worst and Best Advice


Today’s challenge is about another reflection on your past. I feel like, as writers, we’ve all definitely gotten some advice from others. Now… some of that is good advice, and some of that is bad advice. 

I want to take you through a bit of each.

We’ll start with the good. I think one of the best pieces of advice that I’ve ever gotten came from when I was pretty young. I don’t remember who told me — maybe I read it from an author, or maybe it was one of my teachers. But the best bit of advice that I’ve ever gotten was to keep writing. Don’t quit. Even when you feel like you don’t have anything left. Even when your stuff gets rejected, even when you get a negati…

OH! I remember where this came from now. Once upon a time, there was a little girl who wrote Phantom of the Opera fanfics. And once upon a time, she wrote that Raoul turned into a drunk.

The fic? Super popular. 

Along with the super popular came the droves of what we will call the Negative-Nancy-Type. They moaned and cried and said that Raoul would NEVER be a drunk (Suck it. It’s cannon now xD) and wah wah, attacked me, flamed me, started a bit of a war in my comments with people who liked the story… and ultimately got it taken down.

I wanted to quit writing. I was a devastated little teenager who lost something that had over 600 comments. That was a big thing for me at the time.

And then one of my friends told me… no, you don’t give in to that. You keep writing. 

You keep on keeping on, and you show them and everyone else that they can’t stop you. Even if you don’t feel like it, even if you’re upset.

Push through.

And I did.

It’s something I still try to live by. There are times when life gets you down, hard. You lose your work. Your file corrupts. Someone flames your story, or tries to tear you down.

You keep on. Even if it seems like it won’t get better.

Keep On Writing On ❤

Now then! For the flipside. The worst advice that I have ever heard, and I’ve heard it from multiple people… is to wait for your muse to tell you what to do.

It’s kind of really the opposite side of the coin there, because I swear to you… when the trolls got that fanfic taken down, the kidnapped my muse, poured gasoline over her head… and they sat her on fire. Then they laughed. And they roasted weenies. And they sent me pictures.

The thing is, you can’t wait for some imaginary flight of fancy creature to light on your shoulder and show you the way. You won’t always have the perfect inspiration.

Sometimes you just have to write even when you’re feeling blah. In the end, you are your own muse. Your determination, your ability to keep writing even when you don’t necessarily feel like it, your characters and drive and story should be your muse. Let your talent and your passion be that little flight of fancy. And maybe sometimes you have to drag it out kicking and screaming… but it’s always there inside of you, and you don’t have to wait around, you know?

This isn’t to say that it is wrong to take a break. If you need to, you take time away from your writing… but acknowledge that you’re doing it, you’re making that decision. It isn’t some mythical creature barring your way. If you do that, you can pick it back up when YOU are ready, not when Aforementioned Muse tells you to.

So yeah. Those are my two best and worst tips. I could stop here, but we’ll go ahead and throw out a few more fun tips and not so fun tips I’ve gotten.

On the good side: 

  • Save, and save often.
  • If you get stuck in a scene, make a note, push through, and come back later.
  • Plotting, even the smallest bit of plotting to know your general beginning, middle and end can save you if you’re the kind of person who tries to pants and never finishes things.
  • Scrivener, 4theWords, and mywriteclub are you friends.
  • Fanfiction can really help you grow as a writer.
  • So can RP.
  • Read. Read. Read.
  • Your writing is always worth it. 
  • Never give up.

On the bad side:

  • You need to make sure your first draft is perfect.
  • You don’t have to read to grow as a writer.
  • All first drafts are complete shit. (Fight me.)
  • You’ll never be taken seriously if you write fanfiction.
  • You can’t write xyz. (Fight me x2.)
  • Unless you’re published, you aren’t a writer.

So yeah. There we are! A few of my best and worst writing tips and advice that other people have told me. What about you? What things have people told you that are just… fantastic, or maybe should go into the bin! Let me know!

Until next time, y'all!
Keep writing and writing, and keep being awesome!
Author Amanda McCormick
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Posted in Creative WRiting

Concentration

I am suffering from an inability to concentrate. I’m used to be able to get out and get some energy out, or get out so that I can come back and focus… and here I am, not being able to get out. It’s messing with my concentration (that, and the fact that my children are wilding out because of the stir craze).

So, how do you deal with your concentration being a bit wrecked because you don’t have the ability to follow whatever usual routine you used to have?

Well, first of all, you accept the fact that your routine just isn’t going to be the same for the moment, and there isn’t anything wrong with it. You might be able to get more words, you might be able to get less… but things are going to be a little different… so… you need to establish a new routine. Set yourself up a new schedule, set yourself expectations. You have to change things around so that you’re getting a new habit going — unless your habits haven’t been changed by everything going on… in which case ❤ Awesome and you keep on keeping on!

❤ These are the things that have worked for me, though. I downloaded Microsoft To-Do (across phone and computer), I set new goals for myself, and I try to just get it done as much as I can. And as for concentration (I’ve been writing this blog for the past hour because of the lack of it), just steal away the quiet moments that you can. Set yourself apart at least 15-30 minutes to write if you can manage, and take advantage of it. Do what you can, the best you can. It’s all that you can do right now ❤

I think the most important piece of advice, and the one that I can give a 100% stamp of “this is right” on is this… don’t be hard on yourself right now. Things are weird, things are changing, and you are allowed to be thrown off ❤ Just keep trying.

Until next time, y'all!
Keep writing and writing, and keep being awesome!
Author Amanda McCormick
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Posted in Creative WRiting

Writing Software Highlight – Microsoft To Do

So, I love to talk about writing programs that help me along the way, because I really love to read about people and their tips and tricks, how they end up helping my favorite writers to get their work done.

I recently got a MacBook, so I was loading it with new programs… and one of the programs that I found was Microsoft ToDo.

It’s a really simple program. It launches when I turn my computer. It’s just a list — a little list that shows me what I need to be doing for the day… and when you do it, it marks off and makes a nice little bing noise.

I’m a sucker for a pleasing noise xD

Anyway, I sometimes think that it is the simple programs that can really help us the most. In my case, this goes onto my phone as well — I have constant reminders of what I need to do, when I need to do it, and what I have done. No matter how you do it, I think that setting goals and then keeping track of your tasks is one of the more important things that you can do, if you’re trying to keep a schedule. You’re holding yourself accountable, and if you share it with a friend, they are, too!

Do you have a list? Do you bujo, maybe? Let me know how you keep track of your tasks!

Until next time, y'all!
Keep writing and writing, and keep being awesome!
Author Amanda McCormick
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Posted in Creative WRiting

Not Enough?

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So, yeah… as the title might imply, what do you do when it isn’t enough? And by this, at least in my situation, I mean… when what you’re writing, or how you’re doing it… just isn’t enough for you anymore. I still make my money by doing commissions, and I adore that. But there’s a part of me that really just isn’t completely satisfied with it anymore.

I love writing for other people — I love how much they enjoy their stories once I’ve finished them. I adore hearing how I’ve brought to life an idea that they thought would be forever stuck in their head… but…

I want to be putting my own stories out there. I want to have my original writing seen, more than just through fanfics. SO… what do you do when it isn’t enough?

Easy, you look for what is and you go for it. It’s gonna be hard, but I’m going to do my darn hardest to have two books to decide between for querying by the end of the year (I said that before in my goals). I’m also going to get some stuff put out there via amazon or smashwords. I can’t just sit around and not anymore — I have to try. Maybe it will work? Maybe it won’t.

But at least I’ll be going for it, as opposed to just sitting in a safe zone.

So… today my thoughts and writing advice are this: push yourself. If you’re feeling stagnant, like it isn’t enough… go for it. Yeah, you might fail. But… do you know what would be worse than failing?

Never trying at all.

So, I’m going to challenge you. Write a blog — state what your goals are, where you want to go, where you want to be as a writer. Link back to me.

Let’s do this together!

Until then, you guys! Keep reading, and keep writing!

Author Amanda McCormick

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Posted in Creative WRiting, Writing Question, Writing Tips, Writing Tricks

Writing When Sick

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This is a question that has come up a lot in my writing group and from other people — how do you write when you aren’t feeling well? How do you keep up consistency when you feel like going to bed and not waking up for a week.

I think in this instance, we have to look back to a few things that I’ve highlighted before. I don’t set one daily goal for myself, I have two. I have a minimum goal and a stretch goal. When you’re sick, you really, really don’t have to aim for more than that minimum goal. You set it low on purpose, as something that you know you can accomplish, even if you only have 10-15 minutes a day to get words in. It might suck to write while you’re sick, but it will suck even worse to fall off for a week and have to start all over again building up your writing habit.

So… my advice is to get yourself a cup of hot chocolate, or a sprite, or whatever makes you feel better… cuddle in your covers… and just get to writing. It might be hard, it might suck, but just struggle through to that minimum count. A few tips? Write on your phone — most smartphones have writing programs that you can access now. Another tip? Don’t put it off! I’ve noticed that I feel worse as the day goes on; get it done when you wake up and you have the most energy.

And finally, the most important tip? Don’t be hard on yourself. If you hit that 250 word minimum goal you set (which is the minimum goal I suggest for a lot of people because that’s equivalent to a page <3) just stop if you feel like it. You take care of you ❤

SIDENOTE: If you are EXTREMELY ILL (like, you need to go to the hospital, you can’t lift your arms, what are you even doing reading a blog?) just go to sleep, you ninny. xD

 

Author Amanda McCormick

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