A Month Of Writing Prompts – The eBook!

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A Month Of Writing Prompts 2014


Writing a story a day for a month is a crazy endeavour, but one that hundreds of writers have signed up for every May since 2010. During month of courageous creativity, writers learn how to write every day (not ‘someday’), how to craft a story, how to write in different forms, how to fail and dust themselves off, and write again.
Are you ready to join them?
The StoryADay Month of Writing Prompts book shares the daily writing prompts for StoryADay May 2014: 31 writing prompts, meditations, lessons and pep talks to accompany on your journey to becoming a more prolific, creative and fulfilled writer.
Use these prompts during the StoryADay challenge, or any time you need a creativity boost.


Becoming A Better Writer: The eBook

One of my main aims with StoryADay.org was to get you (and me) writing again. It’s about productivity, creativity and becoming the person you were meant to be: a writer.

But after you’ve been writing for a while a new worry creep in. You’re no longer worried about making time to write, or whether you’ll be able to finish stories. You’ve proved that you can do that. You’ve probably found that you’re much happier when you’re writing than when you’re not.

Then comes that next niggling worry.

(And yes, it hit me too, after I’d first used StoryADay to jumpstart my own short story writing).

And what is that worry? All together now:

“What if my writing isn’t good enough?”

Facing Reality/Changing Reality

If you’ve been writing for a while now, you’ve probably sent a story or two away to a publication, a contest, a friend. Maybe you had some luck and got a good response. Chance are though, you to a ‘sorry but’, or an empty inbox.

It’s hard to know why. Maybe it wasn’t what that person was looking for. Or maybe it really wasn’t good enough. So now what?

As I see it, you have three choices:
1. Give up (but that’s not a real choice because you already know you want to be writing. So let’s forget I ever mentioned it.)
2. Never show your work to anyone again (but this isn’t realistic either. We write to connect. You WANT to find an audience for your work.)
3. Become a better writer.

Let’s Do It

Every writer has to face this reality, when the first euphoria wears off: we’re not as good as we want to be. Everyone. From Stephen King to Junot Diaz (who got a McArthur “Genius” grant this year. Think that’s going to make feel like he knows what he’s doing? Nope!)

It’s all just part of the process of becoming a writer.

So it’s noses to the grindstone again: write, read, revise, learn, do it all again. The only way forward is, well, forward.

A Free eBook For You

The StoryADay Guide To Becoming A Better WriterEarlier this year I posted a long series of articles on the subject of Becoming A Better Writer. They were so popular that I decided to expand them, compile them, and release them as an ebook: the second in the StoryADay.org Guides series.

It’s available now and, for this week only, it’s FREE.

 

This guide to becoming a better writer is packed with tips, techniques and exercises you can use to improve your writing–  even when you’re away from your desk. With StoryADay’s trademark brand of inspiration, practical help, and humor, this is your go-to guide for whenever your writing life needs a boost.

 

What’s The Catch?

Well, none really. You need to have a Kindle or download the free Kindle software from Amazon, and I’d love it if you’d leave a review so that more people can find the book next week when the price goes back up to $2.99 (Any kind of review helps. I think it potential readers like to see a balanced set of opinions up there) .

Which reminds me, it’s only free until Friday, July 19th, so get your copy today.

How Do You Invest In Your Writing?

Consider the poor golfer. A cheap set of clubs costs $250, and he quickly finds himself tweaking his collection of clubs (a nice new 3-wood for $179, anyone?). Country club dues are rarely less than a couple of thousand a year. Writing, by comparison, is a cheap gig, but that doesn’t mean you should invest nothing! Let’s talk about how you’ll invest time in your writing this year…

Brandon Jackson Lambeau Leap

Writing is cheap.

All it takes is your brain and some way of recording your creations.

Writing’s low-cost-of-entry makes it the perfect low-risk creative activity …and therein lies the danger.

If you are investing nothing in your writing, what’s to stop you giving up when it gets hard?

I’m here today to make a case that you should consider investing more in your writing this year than you have before.

How To Invest In Your Writing

It might mean you buy more books on the craft of writing.

It might mean hiring a babysitter or a cleaning service from time to time, or negotiating chore-swaps with family members to buy yourself more time to write.

It might simply mean that you spend your time more wisely: actually writing instead of watching TV or browsing writing blogs (a-hem).

It might mean you join a writer’s group, or take an online course, or attend a writer’s conference.

My Writing Investments 2012 – A Case Study

Writing is my hobby, my avocation and my job. And even I don’t spend that much on it.

I consider last year a big year for writing expenditures:

  • 25+ books related to writing, StoryADay (plus well-written books I wanted to read for the joy of it) ($250+ and yes, I could have used the library!)
  • Writer’s Digest Writers’ Conference in NYC – to develop craft and network ($600+ with travel and accommodation)
  • Attended BookExpoAmerica to network ($200+ with travel)
  • Joined ML Writer’s Group (and paid my dues) to hang out with other writers, learn from them, share with them. ($25/year plus cost of dinner at monthly meeting.)
  • Bought notebooks that I enjoy writing in and quadrille paper that I can plan things out on. ($50?)
  • Bought apps to help with note-keeping and planning ($10-20)
  • Hosting for StoryADay.org (I consider StoryADay and the people who hang out there, part of my writing development. So thanks for being part of it!) ($100)
  • Business cards for StoryADay.org ($25)
  • Entry fees for three or four writing competitions ($5-20 each)
  • Used WorldCat to find local college libraries with books I needed for research (free).
  • Participated more in an online writers’ community I find fruitful (free).

My outlays were less than $2000 for the year.

My biggest-ticket items were the two trips to NYC for conferences (particularly the Writers’ Digest one.). I could have replicated some of that with a cheaper conference, closer to home, but for me at that particular time this was the right choice and I was fortunate to be able to afford it.

Happily, the return on my investments was HUGE. In the past year I’ve made massive strides in terms of craft, professional development, networking with fellow writers, in output and in simply  *seeing myself as a writer* (which is not to be underestimated). I made good connections and set up some new opportunities. I expect at least some of those investments to pay off in really interesting ways this year.

The Cost Of Other Activities – Comparative Case Studies

Now consider the poor golfer. A cheap set of clubs costs $250, and he quickly finds himself tweaking his collection of clubs (a nice new 3-wood for $179, anyone?). Country club dues are rarely less than a couple of thousand a year. Hiring a golf cart for every round might be $40 and some clubs have monthly restaurant minimums (use it or lose it). Even if he plays as a guest he’s looking at $50-$100 per round (or more), plus cart fee and dining costs. And what about lessons? And the cost of hitting the driving range in the winter when the course is snowed out?

My spendy year is starting to look kind of frugal, now!

And what about the ardent football fan? The cheapest tickets to see my local football team are $60 a game (if you can get them). If you’re a Green Bay Packers fan and are lucky enough to have a blood relative who’s willing to sign over their season tickets to you, it’ll set you back $1400 per seat just for the transfer after which you are obliged to buy ten tickets a year (at an average price of $260 per seat per game).

It Isn’t All Or Nothing, Is It?

Of course not.

There are plenty of people who tell you going to games is over-rated. They’re happy to party at home and watch the game on their big-screen TV with a few friends, but even that ain’t free (TV: $800-2000, DirecTV Sunday Ticket subscription $199-300/year, nachos and beer, $200+/year).

Or you could watch the game for the price of a couple of Bud Lights (and maybe a babysitter) at your local bar. But I’m willing to be that the most ardent fan in the bar has, at some point, wondered if they might be happier with a season ticket in their back pocket.

And every writer with a pencil and paper has wondered if things might be easier with a word-processor. Every mystery writer has wondered if there might be tricks they could learn from more experienced writers. Every professional in every field needs instruction if they are to progress.

You Don’t Need Season Tickets (But Going To A Game Or Two Might Be Nice)

You don’t have to spend $4000 a year on tickets to call yourself a Packers fan.

You don’t have to spend thousands on courses and books and conferences to develop your writing.

But at some point you’re probably going to feel the pull to subscribe to a writers’ magazine. Or join a group. Or take a course. Or go to a conference.

Deciding What’s Right For You

When my friend told me she’d been offered the chance of taking over some family season tickets to the Green Bay Packers, she told me about the transfer fees and the ticket prices and the hours-in-the-car-with-kids-there-and-back. Oh and the windchill.  My jaw dropped lower and lower and my eyes clearly read “You must be crazy!”.

But that’s because I know nothing about football culture. I’m not from Wisconsin. (I’m not even from the US!). I didn’t know that people sign their babies up to the Packers’ waiting list before they even sign the birth certificate. People deed their place on the waiting list to their heirs in their wills! Season-ticket holders sell unused tickets to other people, and there’s never a shortage of buyers. Oh, and she and her husband are huge fans, who go to games whenever they can.

$1400 a seat for a transfer fee? In that context? She’d be crazy NOT to take on the tickets. I hope my ignorant reaction didn’t color her decision.

Likewise, be careful who you ask for advice when you’re considering traveling thousands of miles and spending hundreds of dollars to attend a conference about writing (which, after all, we all learned to do by the time we were seven, right?).

Another writer may see the value in that. Your golf-playing buddy may not.

Even another writer, at a different stage in their development, may not see the value of the investment you want to make in your writing.

Don’t let anyone derail you.

Likewise, don’t assume that because a conference, or a course, or a book is popular and/or expensive, that it is a ‘must’ for you. My Cheesehead friends had to consider whether, with three small children, the tickets were a sensible investment for them in their real lives not as an abstract idea.

Take some time to think about your goals. Interrogate every opportunity to spend time or money on your craft as it comes along.

Ask yourself:

  • Does this get me closer to my goal of being a fiction writer? And what kind of fiction?
  • Does this conference focus too much on trying to ‘be published’ and less on developing my writing?
  • Have I taken all the classes  I can stomach on “better dialogue” and should I be moving on to figuring out how to submit to magazines?
  • Do you have a good writing friend you can correspond with (like Emily Dickinson) or do you need to join a writers’ group (think: Shelly, Byron, Mary Wollestonecraft Shelley, Leigh Hunt, Keats!)

How Will You Invest In Your Writing This Year?

What have you been doing to develop  your writing and what will you do to step it up this year?

  • Been writing a few stories here and there? How about committing to a story every month (or even, dare I suggest, a story a day in May?)
  • Reading only fiction? Why not add some non-fiction, to expand the knowledge you bring to your fiction?
  • Are you writing and reviewing your work alone? Perhaps its time to join a critique group or sign up for a writers’ conference.
  • Read enough inspirational blogs and books about writing? Perhaps its time to try something that has a curriculum (a workbook,  or home-study class.)

Parting Points

You are allowed to spend time and money on writing. It’s as important to you as football is to people who claim to ‘bleed green’ (or ‘blue’ or ‘orange’ or whatever). And probably cheaper.

You must make your own decisions about what you need in your writing life right now, and pursue those things.

You — and your stories — are important. Do whatever you can to stalk those stories, capture them, and share them with us. We need them.

 

Keep writing!

 

 

 

A Challenge — And A Gift

StoryADay September ’12 starts TOMORROW!

But more about in a minute.

First: I have a gift for you, and a favor to ask.

StoryADay September ’12 starts TOMORROW!

But more about in a minute.

First: I have a gift for you, and a favor to ask.

The Gift: Your Tools For Breaking Writers’ Block

StoryADay.org Guide To Breaking Writers' Block kindle edition coverThis will be my fourth StoryADay challenge. I’ve had to get pretty good at side-stepping writers’ block.

Now you can have 60+ of my best techniques for breaking through resistance, in handy ebook form, free until Sunday Sept 2, 2012

The StoryADay.org Guide To Breaking Writers’ Block

You can get your copy FREE until Sunday, Sept 2 just by clicking ‘buy’.

What’s Inside?

The tips are arranged by section:

  • Creativity Exercises
  • Physical Comfort
  • Goal-Setting
  • Accountability and Rewards
  • Examining The Problem
  • Boot Camp (Just Do It!)
  • Prove It To Yourself
  • Seeking Inspiration

You can read the book through once or dip in and out whenever you need a boost.

Why Free?

Honestly, it’s a blatant attempt to rise higher in the Amazon rankings and improve the visibility of my book. Every copy downloaded by you (or someone you tell about it) in the next few days, boosts its sales rankings and helps future, paying readers find it. This, in turn, helps me pay for StoryADay.org and keep it free to you. Oh, and it’s DRM-free, so you should be able to share it between devices freely.

Why Kindle?

Ebooks are easy and Amazon makes it particularly easy to get your book into the distribution stream. They offer 70% royalties, which was unheard of in the publishing world before they came along. And I love my Kindle.

Also, I’m researching the whole process and writing it up, and will release a report on it a few months from now. You’ll be able to use this report to figure out whether or not it’s worth your time to put together your own ebook (a collection of short stories perhaps?) and how to avoid making mistakes along the way. This report will be free to members of the StoryADay.org Advance Notice List.

What You Can Do

You are welcome to download the book and do nothing more. But I would really, really appreciate it if you would consider doing some of the following steps. It really helps.

  • Buy” the book during the free promotion period (before Sept 2)
  • Share the link with writer friends and tell them to buy it while it’s free.
  • Repost the link at Facebook, Twitter, your blog, whatever other social media you use,
  • Leave a review at Amazon. 20 words is all it takes and it makes a huge difference tot he book’s visibility.
  • Read the book and get excited about your writing

Get Your Free Copy of the StoryADay.org Guide To Breaking Writers’ Block NOW

StoryADay September Is Almost Here!

Tomorrow. Can that be right? Tomorrow?!

OK, deep breath.

If you’re NOT doing the StoryADay Sept’12 challenge, no need to unsubscribe. This list will not be flooded with daily prompts or chatter about the challenge. You’ll have to get on the Daily Prompt email list or go into the community for all that stuff. You’ll just get a nice, helpful writing-related post now and then, and news about upcoming challenges.

But, even if you’re too busy with other projects, why not goad your writing friends and challenge them to take part? It’s not too late! 😉

If you ARE doing the September Challenge here are a few things you might want to be checking:

  • Have you subscribed to the Daily Prompt email? You don’t have to, and you certainly don’t have to write to them, but some people find it useful. If you don’t want a nagging, I mean “inspiring”, email in your inbox every morning, you can still find the prompts on the blog every day if you ever need them.
  • Have you joined the community? It’s a great place to check in and post your Victory Dance every day, or get encouragement from others when you are lagging.
  • Have you added your name to the blogroll? There’s nothing like a little publicity to keep you honest!
  • Are you collecting story sparks? Keep collecting them every day during the challenge and you’ll always have something to write about.
  • Have you downloaded your free copy of the StoryADay.org Guide to Breaking Writers’ Block? You might need it in ten days or so…

And that’s it from me, except to wish you luck, persistence and courage.

See you in the forums?

 

Keep writing,

Julie