Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

Tag Archives: writing advice

How Long Does It Take to Write A Novel?

I’d done a re-blog today from Roz Morris about “writing at speed”; so, I thought it would be proper to share a video of Roz talking (rather poetically…) about the Long and Short of novel writing…

If you don’t see a way to comment (or, “reply”) after this post, try up there at the top right…
Read Some Strange Fantasies
Grab A Free Novel…
Google Author Page
For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

Writing Blogs That Are about More Than Just The Writing

Back on the 9th of January, I published a post called Fuel for Writers.

It had 11 sites that could supply an endless number of writing prompts…

But, what about once you’re in the heat of the writing or when you’re preparing to publish or needing to promote?

One place to visit would be Publishing … and Other Forms of Insanity

Here are just a few categories of their helpful resources:


Calls for Submissions

Paying Markets

Publishers Accepting Unagented Manuscripts

Agents Seeking Clients

There’s lots more to explore over on Publishing … and Other Forms of Insanity :-)

And, if you haven’t yet got the heat turned up on the writing part (and, for help with sundry other writerly topics…), from The Writers’ Academy site, these 15 Top Creative Writing Blogs That Are Actually Helpful (Do visit <—That Link for their commentary on these sites):

Copyblogger ***
The Creative Penn
Goins, Writer ***
Terrible Minds
Jane Friedman ***
Daily Writing Tips
Helping Writers Become Authors
The Writers’ Academy
The Write Life ***
Better Novel Project
Writer’s Digest
The Book Designer ***
She’s Novel
Lauren Sapala

The sites with *** after the name are ones that I find particularly valuable

And, a Wonderful Bonus Site that anyone associated with any phase of writing should explore (even if you’re not writing a novel…):

Roz Morris’ Nail Your Novel

“Writing, publishing and self-publishing advice from a bestselling ghostwriter and book doctor”

If you don’t see a way to comment (or, “reply”) after this post, try up there at the top right…
Read Some Strange Fantasies
Grab A Free Novel…
Google Author Page
For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

“How to Write a Great Story: A Roundup of Best Advice”

Today is a re-blog day; but, official re-blogs can only be done from WordPress sites… Great Story Roundup

So, let’s pretend…

If you’re a regular reader, you’ve seen Jane Friedman here many times.

Here’s a “re-blog” of her intro to How to Write a Great Story: A Roundup of Best Advice:

“Over the last five years, I’ve had the good fortune and privilege to feature storytelling advice from many bestselling authors, as well as editors and agents. Here’s a round-up of the best and most popular advice on writing craft and technique I’ve featured since 2011.”


How Can You Improve Your Writing?

This will be the 70th post I’ve done with the Tag, “Writing Advice”… 

( If you take that last link, you might see this post at the top of the list—just scroll down past it :-)

Writing Advice is a tricky topic

As self-publishing gains traction, along with the “experts” shouting about how to be “successful”, there are the writing “gurus” giving you advice that you might want to erect a protective barrier against

If anyone asked me about the best thing to do to improve one’s writing, I’d say Read More; but, then there’d have to be a discussion about What to read—certainly, not most books about how to write—yet more certainly, lots of whatever the writer thought they wanted to write (and, I’m not necessarily talking about “genre”…)

Even though most writers try many things that don’t help them improve their writing, there’s an insidious meme that’s invaded the Internet that goes something like: “To improve your writing, just keeping writing, no matter what!”



Perhaps, not

There are many reasons to recommend Jane Friedman’s blog; but, today’s is to read the guest post, If You Just Keep Writing, Will You Get Better?

It’s written by Barbara Baig, who has a rather unique perspective on learning to write

Here are some excerpts:

“How can a training approach used by top golfers, divers, ballet dancers, surgeons, and many other people possibly help writers?”

“…brain scientists used to believe that each person’s brain—and, therefore, his abilities—were fixed at birth.”

“But since the 1990s brain scientists have discovered that the human brain, even the adult brain, is far more adaptable than anyone ever imagined.”

This next quote is Key to understanding the method being discussed

“In their studies of experts, Ericsson and his colleagues have shown that none of them achieved mastery simply by doing the same thing over and over.”

O.K., just a couple more:

“When most of us think about practice, we’re imagining what Ericsson calls naive practice….we need a different kind of practice, one Ericsson calls deliberate practice….deliberate practice—is not easy, and it’s not fun. It requires setting goals for our practice sessions, maintaining focus as we practice, getting feedback on our practice, pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone, developing effective mental representations of the skills we’re practicing, and learning from models of excellence.”

“The right kind of practice, Ericsson tells us (along with perseverance and ongoing effort), can change our brains. It can turn us into the writers we’ve always wanted to be. It might even change our lives.”

There’s a book Ms Baig is talking about called Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise (And, that last link will get you Free World-Wide Shipping)

Transparency Disclosure: I’ve not read the book; but, Ms Baig’s full article makes me want to read it ( …if I weren’t gearing up for a new feature on this blog (starting July 22nd)—writing an original short story for posting each and every Friday :-)
If you don’t see a way to comment (or, “reply”) after this post, try up there at the top right…
Read Some Strange Fantasies
Grab A Free Novel…
* Google Author Page
For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

#WritersBlock ~ Is It Real or Just a Figment of Your Imagination?

If you’re a writer, you may feel you’ve experienced writer’s block—if you’re not a writer and know one, share this article with them… 

So, some writers are sure this blocking is real—some (like me) never have it

My Best Friend (an exceptional author) feels that any block for a writer isn’t really about their ability to write coming to a stop—more like another kind of hindrance—a holding of part of themselves away from themselves.

At least that’s what I’m interpreting my writer-friend meant

So, what if it is a figment of imagination?

What’s a “figment”?

My Oxford dictionary says: “An invented statement , story , doctrine , etc.”.


If we consider fiction writers, their whole purpose is to invent statements, fabricate stories, create doctrines, etc.


So, if writer’s block isn’t “real” but only a figment, a writer should be able to write their way out of it, right?

But, for those who still feel it as a reality, I’ll share some excerpts from an article on LifeHacker-AustraliaThe 10 Types Of Writers’ Block (And How To Overcome Them).

All I’ll share here are the 10 types (with my brief comments)—do go to the full article for their ways to overcome it

1. You can’t come up with an idea.

All I’ll say here is that you might want to consider rephrasing that—I can’t seem to come up with an idea

2. You have a ton of ideas but can’t commit to any of them, and they all peter out.

This one seems over-complicated in its expression—my advice: pick one, commitment or not, and start writing—if that peters out, pick another and continue

3. You have an outline but you can’t get through this one part of it.

I had a detailed outline for my short novel—it was bleeding to death from slashes and overwrites by the fourth chapter—I “rewrote” the outline

4. You’re stuck in the middle and have no idea what happens next.

Well, make something up—use those figments that are always lying around; and, if you don’t see any figments, make some up :-)

5. You have a terrible feeling your story took a wrong turn a hundred pages back, and you only just hit a dead end.

Shame on you—back up 110 pages and reviseIf you still hit that “dead end”, back up further and start again

6. You’re bored with all these characters, they won’t do anything.

Well, they are Your characters—you’re responsible for what they do (usually). Perhaps you need to reconsider the plot—maybe the characters don’t like what you expect them to do and are just on strike.

7. You keep imagining all the reasons people are going to say your story sucks, and it paralyses you.

If this one doesn’t sound like something besides “writer’s block”—perhaps lack of self-confidence or an overactive imagination—you might want to consider throwing the whole thing away and writing, instead, your autobiography

8. You can’t think of the right words for what you’re trying to convey in this one paragraph.

Oh, my—set it aside for awhile? Back up 10 paragraphs and start over?

9. You had this incredibly cool story in your head, and now you’re turning it into words on a screen and it’s suddenly dumb.

Oh, my, again—grab a few figments and create another cool story!

10. You’re revising your work, and you can’t see your way past all those blocks of text you already wrote.

My response for this one is to quote part of what the full article says about it:

“I’m going to go out on a limb and say that if you’re getting stuck during revisions, that’s not any type of Writer’s Block (as nebulous a concept as Writer’s Block is), but rather just the natural process of trying to diagnose what ails your novel.”

Check out the whole article—share it with other writers—let me know what you think in the comments :-)
If you don’t see a way to comment (or, “reply”) after this post, try up there at the top right…
Read Some Strange Fantasies
Grab A Free Novel…
* Google Author Page
For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com