Successful Writers

Sometimes, we meet/discover a writer who is super successful.  We think they must have been super lucky, too. Right place, right time and all that. If only we were so lucky!

But what if I told you they’re super successful BECAUSE they failed … A LOT. Seems like an oxymoron, right? Except it isn’t. Many amazing writers are ‘successful failures’.

The above quote is from J K Rowling’s Harvard Commencement Speech, The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination. Being as successful as she is, it’s hard to think of her as a writer who failed. But she did and so have countless other success stories.

Failure Is Not Fatal

Maya Angelou is another amazing writer. She came up against huge obstacles in her life, yet she saw the value of failure. Every time life smacked her down, this courageous woman got right back up. Does failing the most equate with learning the most? Maybe.

I think the key to getting past failure is this … None of us know how long the thorny path is. It could take two years, five years or ten years to become successful. Even then, the thorns are still there … Except now they’re entwined with ‘success flowers’ and the path is a nicer walk!

The Value Of Mentors, Allies & Moral Support

You don’t HAVE to have a mentor, but there’s a reason they play such a big part in The Hero’s Journey. Mentors can be helpers and facilitators in writers’ journeys. Speaking from experience, I can say it definitely helps when dealing with the thorny path. A mentor can guide you and reassure you as you go through your journey:

Creative: The path of thorns leads up a mountain. The prickles are bad enough. I don’t want to fall and hurt myself.

Mentor: You’re not going to see the beautiful view from the ground.

Creative: Okay, I’ll climb a little way … A stone hit me on the head!

Mentor: It’s just a stone.

Creative: Okay, I’ll climb a little more. Hey, a flower! Pretty. I’ll climb some more … ten stones hit me on the head! That’s it! I’m done. Everyone else is lucky. Look how far they’ve climbed. They’re not getting pelted with stones.

Mentor: You can’t see their injuries from down here. I guarantee most of the people up there have not only had stones hit them on the head but have also been smacked in the face with rocks, boulders have almost flattened them, while a flock of angry seagulls pecked at their faces! You have to take what’s thrown at you, all of it, in order to walk the path of success.

So much of the creative life is about being brave and confident. The value of mentors is they can  help you achieve this and facilitate your career. They can also console you when you have failed. Most importantly, they can remnind you to get back off your arse and try again!

But you don’t have a mentor? That’s okay. Surround yourself with allies … Writer friends who really ‘get it’. Moral support is so important. Why not join the B2W Facebook group today!

So … how do we succeed?

Yep! By failing. This means you must not fear failure. Embrace it. Small fails. Big fails. Fail at as much as you can because each opportunity needs to be taken. If you don’t take it, there is neither failure or success.

So, keep failing Bang2writers. Before long, like a caterpillar turns into a butterfly. Failure has no choice but to become success. Here’s some more links on what it takes:

33 Industry Insiders on Success, Dreams & Failure

Failure Is not Fatal. How To Succeed, No Matter What

The Truth About Success: 30 Creatives Who Broke In Late

24 Experts On The Foundation Of Success

6 Ways YOU’RE Stopping Your Own Writing Success

Good Luck!

BIO: Emma Pullar is a writer of dark fiction and children’s books. She also dabbles in screenwriting and has won/been shortlisted for several short story/script competitions. Follow Emma as @Emma_Storyteller as she lurks in the shadows, spying on people in the name of inspiration and creativity.

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Ghostly Goings On

Ever been ghosted as a writer? If so, you know how it goes: you make contact with an agent, producer or publisher and submit some work to them. Then you wait … Then chase them … Wait … Then chase them again.

And so it goes on. You begin to despair and question yourself. Sound familiar?

You’ve been ghosted!

It hurts. We get it. Now here’s how to get over it and get back on track with your writing…

1) Check – have you *really* been ghosted?

Producers and agents are busy, and it can take time to get back to people. If you’re approaching a large company, you may have to wait a number of weeks, or even months. Smaller companies may take less time to get back to you.

If you’ve waited more than two or three months to hear back from someone, then it’s pretty safe to assume that you’re not going to. MORE: When To Follow Up On Your Submission

2) Knock three times – then move on

It’s your right to chase up producers and agents if you’ve not heard back – but always remember to be polite and don’t hassle them. Not sure how many times, or which ways to chase? Everyone is different, but a good rule of thumb is a couple of emails and a call (over a few months), then leave it. If you haven’t heard back by then, you’re probably not going to.

3) Move on – straight away

Don’t let your ghosting haunt you. The minute you get the sense you may have been ignored, you should move on by putting another query out there straight away. It’s a good idea to have a list of people you’re approaching with your work, with a ‘notes’ column. Make a note of the ghoster so you’ll remember them for next time. Is there someone else you can contact at their firm next time around?

4) Don’t drive yourself mad

You can spend hours agonising over why the person has ghosted you, but the truth is you’ll probably never know. Don’t worked up or angry either – it won’t do you any good, and only slows you down more and distracts you from your goals. Instead, start working on another project or see point 2 above.

5) Check your approach

An occasional ghosting happens to many of us, but if you’re consistently being spooked by silent rejection, it might be worth checking your approach to see if you’re doing anything wrong. There’s a handy list of how to turn your queries into dazzling gems here.

6) Don’t hit back

They have chosen not to contact you for whatever reason – and you’ll probably never know why. It’s a crappy thing to do, but you’ve no recourse to hit back at them. There’s still a chance – however slim – that there’s a genuine reason they’ve not replied. If you send them an angry note or talk badly about them on social media, you’re killing your future chances.

7) Remember what it feels like

You’ll probably get ghosted again. When you do, you’ll know that like rejection, the pain DOES go away. In years to come you may find yourself in the position where you can ghost someone. Don’t. Just remember what it feels like now.

Be polite, professional and friendly – always. If someone has ghosted you it’s very likely they’ve done the same to others. It may come back to bite them eventually, but this revenge isn’t your dish to serve.

Last words

We increasingly live in a swipe-left world, where unfortunately it can be easier for people to ignore you than just say ‘no’.

You can’t change how someone deals with you, but can change how you react to them. Getting ghosted isn’t nice, but it won’t kill you or your career. Move on. MORE: When Is A Rejection A Rejection, If I Don’t Hear Anything? 

Good luck!

BIO: TR Guest writes screenplays, plays and prose. He currently has an optioned screenplay in pre-production, a short film in development and is halfway through a novel, adapted from one of his screenplays.

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Blocked City

Welcome to Blocked City. Population: you. And the rest of us writers. This place is very busy!!!

You may have heard that ‘there’s no such thing’ as Writer’s Block. I beg to differ.  I hear from Bang2writers all the time about how they feel blocked … And if that is how they feel, then it’s real to them! I have also felt the anxiety and pressure of deadlines, which in turn has made me feel less creative. It can be a vicious circle.

This is why I like the infographic below, which puts the whole problem under the microscope and considers WHY writers feel blocked. This got me thinking about my top tips for getting out of Blocked City, which I managed to narrow down to 3 main tips below. There’s also a bunch of linkage to help you blast through as well. Good luck!

B2W’s Top 3 Strategies For Getting Unblocked

3) Outline or plan

Most writers get blocked because they are attempting to write with only a portion of the story in their head. This means as soon as they come across an issue, they get stuck in what I call ‘The Story Swamp’. An outline is like a map, helping you get out again. It doesn’t have to be mega-detailed! Your story map could be index cards or post-its, or just  bullet points. It could even be a drawing. Just as long as you have that ‘story map’, you are far less likely to get stuck.

2) Stop and reflect

Writers often don’t have enough time to write … So when they finally get to sit down in front of their computer, they ‘can’t’ write. This is due to putting so much pressure on themselves. The worst thing you can do is sit there in front of ther screen, freaking out. Turn off the computer, go for a walk, reflect on WHY you feel so anxious, down, or not confident about writing. Think about the interventions you can put in place to stop this happening. Instead of writing only at specific times, perhaps keeping a notebook handy and writing in five-minute bursts longhand would help (or vice versa!). Perhaps explaining to your partner and getting them on board with your dream would help. Whatever it is stopping you, deep down, work out what it is and what you can do about it. There’s always something.

3) Believe!!

If you don’t believe you can do this, no one will. When you feel blocked, tell yourself – YOU GOT THIS. Then what do you know … It will come true! GOGOGO.

More On This:

25 Proven Strategies To Beat Writer’s Block 

19 Tips On Overcoming Writer’s Block From Famous Authors

Top 7 Brain Boosters To Increase Focus For Better Writing

Top 5 Ways To Crush Self Doubt Like A Boss 

How Free Writing Can Get You Started

9 Beverages That Improve Your Brain Power Right Now 

How To Deal With Writer’s Block – Top 6 DON’Ts

How To Boost Your Writing Confidence To New Levels

Good Luck!

Breaking Down Writer’s Block

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All About Productivity

Productivity is a key concern of Bang2writers. It’s not difficult to see why: procrastination is a huge problem for writers. It’s easy to get stuck in a non-productive rut. We are daydreamers after all!

So, if you’re a hobby writer wanting to turn pro, or a pro wanting to get more done, you need to learn how to boost your productivity. Luckily, we at B2W Headquarters have put together this handy round-up to help you make the most of your writing time.

1) 11 Habits That Can Transform Your Productivity

Create good habits. Sounds easy, doesn’t it?? Yet it’s something many creatives struggle with. Working for yourself, sometimes with little to zero pay, can damage productivity and good habits. HERE are some tips to help stay on track.

2) The Weird and Wonderful Habits of 20 Famous Writers

Want to know which famous writer you are most like when it comes to crazy writing habits? Maybe you want to adopt the habits of a writer you admire to help increase productivity? CLICK HERE.

3) 6 Tips for Boosting Writing Productivity

HERE are some more ideas for improving productivity. The key? Work smarter not harder!

4) 1 Simple Tip to Help You Get More Writing Done

What is ‘dead time’? How can you use it to get more writing done? Don’t let time control you, control time. You might not have a Tardis or a Time-Turner but you do have control over a lot more of your time than you think. Find out HERE.

5) 5 Steps to Beat Procrastination and Stay Focused

Here are some great procrastination busters. No one EVER said ‘I wish I had procrastinated more’! HERE are the steps you need to make sure you won’t regret *not* making the time to create that wonderful work bubbling inside you.

6) How to Get Writing Done, According To 20 Famous Authors

The best way to get stuff done? Learn from the masters – and mistresses! – in the know. Check out these tips, HERE.

7) How to Stop Wasting Writing Time Procrastinating Online

 Did you watch last night’s episode? Yeah, there was a huge argument in an online writing group about that show, did you see it? Blah, blah, CONCENTRATE! To learn how to avoid getting distracted during times allocated for writing, CLICK HERE.

8) How to Improve Your Focus as A Writer

With so many distractions it can be difficult to focus. HERE are some great tips for keeping your eyes on the prize.

9) 12 Unusual and Achievable Productivity Hacks for Writers

Turn an old tennis ball into a car key holder, use your cat as a winter hat. We all love a fun life hack. HERE are some cool productivity hacks to try out today.

10) How To Set Meaningful Goals And Stick To Them

Productivity isn’t about just throwing spaghetti at the wall. Creating meaningful goals means you’re much more likely to stick to them! Find out why, HERE.

Last Words

I hope you enjoyed this round-up on productivity. No more excuses. Get that wonderful work finished and out in the world for others to enjoy. Laser focus!

BIO: Emma Pullar is a writer of dark fiction and children’s books. She also dabbles in screenwriting and has won/been shortlisted for several short story/script competitions. Follow Emma as @Emma_Storyteller as she lurks in the shadows, spying on people in the name of inspiration and creativity.

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Be Unstoppable

I am an unstoppable writer. People ask me all the time if I can bend time, or have some kind of special secret. As I always write on this blog, the answer is NO. Not on your nelly.

Unstoppable writers are not some kind of higher beings. Here is how I get stuff done:

  • I decide to do something.
  • I will stop at nothing until I get it done.

But okay, you want more details. Fine. Here’s two things that really help you become unstoppable:

1) Laser Focus

I’ve written before about the importance of setting and evaluating meaningful goals. What I haven’t written about is how crucial LASER FOCUS is to achieving those goals.

But what is ‘laser focus’? Well, if ‘focus’ is defined as a ‘centre of interest or activity’, then applying a ‘laser’ to that ups the ante. Lasers burn, so I like to think of ‘laser focus’ as being a BURNING INTEREST.

So first, identify your goal, ie. get better at plotting within the next six months. Then think:

  • Motivation. Think about WHY you are doing this – in advance. If someone has recommended you work on your plotting, identify those areas of plotting you feel most uncomfortable with. Is it the beginning? The end? The middle? What is it you don’t understand, or find hard? Try and articulate it, so you can come back to it later.
  • Lists and Plans. It’s very easy to try and work on something like craft, but end up with nothing to show for it. Which books and blogs are you going to read about plotting? Which worksheets will you download? What novels and movies are you watch that have great plotting? How about the ones with bad plotting, then comparing them? What about interviewing professional writers for their thoughts on what makes good plotting? Make a list/plan.

Top Tip:

Laser Focus is deciding on a goal, then throwing everything at it. Be methodical. Make a calendar, plan and/or To Do list to refer to as you go. You’re MUCH more likely to achieve what you set out to. MORE: How To Set Meaning Goals & Stick To Them

2) Bitesize Chunks

I hear writers saying ‘I don’t have time’ constantly. But unstoppable writers don’t have the MOST time, they MAKE THE MOST of their available time. Crucial difference.

But look, I get it. If we have day jobs, health challenges, families or other commitments, then ‘finding the time’ to write can seem an impossible challenge. We need to change our mindsets. It’s NOT about finding time, or even about making it.

Instead, it’s about BELIEVING we have the time … Because we do! Time stops for no wo/man, so use it to your advantage. Don’t let it run away from you:

  • Spend too much on social media? Install an app to block it after a certain amount of time.
  • Break your tasks down into ‘bitesize chunks’.
  • Take a pen and paper everywhere you go.
  • Got even just five minutes? USE IT.
  • Make notes. Write sentences. Plan. Spidergrams. Whatever works for you!

So, think about your goal again … and break it down into bitesize chunks.

If you have decided you want to get better at plotting ‘within six months’, how many weeks is that? Days? Hours? How much of that time are you going to give to this task? What is the ideal? What about things you can’t plan for advance (ie. sick kids, sick spouses, sick you). Be realistic.

Top Tip:

Set a target number of hours for each week for working on your goal. Maybe you can only manage 1 hour a week, set into twelve 5 minute increments? That is fine! Whatever it takes, remember!!! MORE: 7 Ways To Find More Time To Write

Good Luck!

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Novel Ideas

Writing a novel is a challenging endeavour, no one can deny that. It takes serious work, patience, and commitment to start and finish. Most of all, it takes courage to get our words out there in the world! Here’s 5 top realisations you need to help you write yours …

1) Starting With The Ending Is A Good Idea 

This may surprise you, but many successful authors start from the end! When you start writing a novel,  it’s best to know where it’s going. The ending needs to connect all loose ends into a perfectly logical (although unexpected) wrap-up.

Let’s take a pretty popular novel, The Brothers Karamazov, as an example. Can you imagine Dostoevsky writing without knowing the ending beforehand? The ending (no spoiler alerts!) is so surprising, yet so very logical. The Set Up and Pay Off is so clear, it’s hard to believe Dostoevsky began without knowing the ending. Apparently, he even drew elaborate doodles in his manuscripts, so he could “see” the characters and scenes before writing about them.

You don’t necessarily need a detailed outline for your novel. However, you need to know where it’s going … Otherwise you risk making boring digressions (at best!).

TOP TIP: Write your concept and figure out what the ending will be like. Then, you can start writing the book. MORE: How To Avoid Plotting Hell And Save Writing Hours 

2) It’s Okay To Walk Away (Within Reason)

Writer’s Block is a huge obstacle that causes many books to stay unwritten. Imagine you’re sitting in front of the screen ready to write, but you’re stuck. You have some ideas in your mind, but you have absolutely no idea how to express them. Ian Rankin, Scottish crime writer, said in an interview for The Guardian:

“I have days when I do f**k all. I sit down at a computer, nothing’s coming, I’m having to tear each word out, it’s like digging for coal, and I’ll go: ‘No, this isn’t working,’ and I’ll just walk away.”

It’s okay to have days like this. Different techniques work for different writers. You may try having a break. Or you may immerse yourself in other projects. Or perhaps you may even try collaborating with another author. Do whatever you need to break the block!

TOP TIP: It’s okay to walk away from your novel when you’re absolutely stuck. But you have to find a way to get back to it. Find out what you need to do … Then do it!

3) Doing Your Research Is Non-Negotiable 

So, what’s the setting of your novel? Let’s say it’s about a Russian ballerina from the 1960s? In that case, you’ll have a lot of history to go through. You’ll have to learn about ballet, its trends and techniques in the years you’re going to tackle. You’ll also have to learn about the lives of Russian people from that time. You’ll need to connect with people who lived in those times and can share impressions.

Do you get the point? It’s not just about starting a blank document and filling pages with your words. It’s about making sense. If a single aspect of your novel is off, the readers will notice it and your work would lose its authority.

TOP TIP: Do the learning! Start with relevant articles, interviews and online courses. Dig as deep as you can to make your book as realistic as possible. MORE: Top 5 Research Mistakes Writers Make 

4) The First Draft Is Just That – A First Draft

The first draft is where you reveal the story to yourself. You already have a concept and you know where it’s going, but there still is tons of creativity involved in the process of writing. Hemingway said it best:

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

You write and sweat, write and bleed. This is a meditative process that puts you in direct contact with your deepest thoughts and emotions.

But you’ll be done with the writing and then what? Are you done?

Nope! That’s when the pressure really starts building up.

Is your novel good enough? Well, you’ll be the first one to read it and make the initial fixes. Yes, you’ll have someone editing it, but you still cannot present the first draft.

Read the first draft. Correct whatever you need to correct to make it clearer  and more attractive for your audience. Go as far as you can with it BEFORE you send it out to editors and beta readers.

TOP TIP: To respect the creative flow, you mustn’t disrupt writing with thoughts about making it perfect. You just write. And then read the first draft and correct whatever you need.

5)  Marketing Is Part of Being A Novelist!

What does a writer have to do with marketing? Don’t you just delegate that part to the publisher?

No.

If you self-publish your novel, you’ll have to deal with the entire marketing process. But even if you have a publisher, you’ll still be involved in marketing events. Plus, you’ll need to build yourself a personal brand online, so readers will learn about you and your work.

TOP TIPIn 21stcentuary everybody need marketing. If you self-publish this thing, you’ll have to deal with the entire marketing process. Even if you have a publisher, you’ll be involved in a lot of events. MORE: How To Build Your Own Online Platform

Good Luck!

BIO: Samantha R. Gilbert is a journalist and professional writer at cheap writing service. She loves dancing, travelling and taking photos, but her main hobby is writing about her experience and adventures. Meet her on Facebook.

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Writing A Bestseller

Is writing a bestseller in your plan? Have you fleshed out your characters and mapped your plot, with exciting twists and turns along the way? While some novels seem to randomly catch on like wildfire and others don’t, not all things about bestsellers are random.
Many thanks to Global English Editing who have been in touch with this fab infographic. I really like how they’ve broken it down into 11 key steps. Obviously there’s no guarantees in this writing malarkey … But it’s ALWAYS a good idea to immerse yourself in research and work out what has gone before.

Language Choices 

When it comes to language, keep the writing short and sharp. An algorithm calculated with 80% accuracy that a bestseller will have shorter sentences, simple vocabulary, and active narratives.
Bestsellers usually have a high readability, which includes narrowing down the story to only one or two topics, to avoid confusion in readers.

Characters, Genre & Style

Female protagonists are very popular, and books featuring this tend to win awards. 52% of best-sellers are written in the third person perspective.
Romance is the most popular genre; romance novels sell the best. The next most popular genres for bestsellers status are contemporary novels and thrillers. I was interested to see themes of grief don’t tend to be popular, but then this makes sense. All of us will face bereavement in our lives to some extent, which is very difficult. Whilst fiction that deals with this might be cathartic, it is unlikely we will find this entertaining! 
 
When you are almost finished your book, but not sure what title to pick, consider this. The title of a bestseller is usually simple, begins with “The”, and tends to point to objects and things. Interestingly, the word “wife” happens to be very popular in bestseller titles recently. 

Are you ready to go for it?

Maximise your chances of grabbing a spot on the bestseller list by checking out this fab infographic in more detail after the jump, this Nanowrimo. Enjoy and good luck!

More Links To Help You Write Your Bestseller:

14 Proven Writing Tricks From Genius Writers 

12 Amazing Authors Share Their First Draft Top Tips

12 Amazing Authors Share Their Rewriting Secrets 

Top 10 (Normal) Struggles When Writing A Book

8 Ways To Jump Start Your Novel’s Description 

5 Things I Learned Writing My Debut

How I Wrote The Other Twin 

3 Steps To Writing, Editing And Submitting Your Book

 

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All About Rewriting

Rewriting – you either love it, or you don’t! Whatever the case, it needs doing … So with Nanowrimo over in a couple of weeks, I decided to ask my author friends for their number 1 rewriting tip! As you can see, there are some similar responses here again, which I always find interesting. Enjoy:

1) ‘Change your mindset’ – Sophie Hannah

Don’t try to think ‘How can I make this as short and painless as possible?’ – that will only make it feel longer and more painful. Instead, set aside loads of time and plunge right in, thinking, ‘Bring on the hard work!’ – that approach is more likely to end up with you thinking, ‘Actually, that was quicker and easier than I thought.’

BIO: Sophie Hannah is an internationally bestselling author of psychological crime fiction and poetry. Her most recent books are the Hercule Poirot continuation novel The Mystery of Three Quarters and a quirky self-help book, How to Hold a Grudge.

2) ‘Work out what you REALLY have’ – Sanjida Kay

Create a scene-by-scene chronology of what you’ve actually written, not what you think/believe/hope/wish you’d written. Ask yourself some hard questions. Does your novel work structurally? Are there plot holes? Who is telling the story? Is the right person telling the story in the right place? Is there enough ension/mystery/suspense/romance or whatever you need in the genre you’re writing? Do things happen? Does your draft go saggy anywhere? Create a new chronology to fix any of the above problems. Once you’ve got the structure right, then you can start thinking about the details. And remember: all good writing involves rewriting.

BIO: Sanjida Kay is the author of three psychological thrillers, Bone by Bone (longlisted for a CWA Steel Dagger Award, nominated as one of the best crime and thriller books of the year by the Guardian and the Sunday Express and named as an Amazon Rising Star); The Stolen Child (optioned for film and TV rights by the company that made Homeland) and latest, My Mother’s Secret. Sanjida lives in Bristol, with her husband and daughter.

3) ‘Read it on your Kindle first’ – Paula Daly

I transfer the Word document onto my Kindle. Then I can read sections of the novel anywhere: waiting rooms, the bath. There’s something about reading the manuscript in ‘real book’ form that allows me to identify the issues that need to be fixed.

BIO: Paula Daly is the acclaimed author of five novels. She has been shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger Crime Novel of the Year award, and her books have been developed for the new ITV television series, Deep Water, starring Anna Friel.

4) ‘Cut 10% For Draft 2’ – James Carol

Draft 2 = Draft 1 – 10%. This simple little equation was in Stephen King’s On Writing and it works every time. Everything gets more streamlined and reads so much more smoothly. A variation on this theme goes like this: your second draft is your first draft with all the crap bits taken out. Not sure who said that one, but it’s definitely worth bearing in mind.

BIO: James Carol is the creator of the Jefferson Winter series, which includes the bestselling Broken Dolls. He also writes standalones under the name JS Carol. These include The Killing Game, which was shortlisted for a CWA steel dagger. His latest novel is Kiss Me Kill Me.

5) ‘Leave it a good while’ – Zoe Lea

Leave it a good while before you even look at your work again, the longer you leave it, the less attached you’ll be and the delete key will be your friend.

BIO: Zoe Lea is a author living in the Lake District, her first book, If He Wakes became an international kindle bestseller and her next book The Secretary is due out summer 2019.

6) ‘Listen to your editor’ – Matt Johnson

Be brave and listen to the advice of your editor. They are on your team and have your best interests at heart. They want your baby to do well just as much as you do. Trust them.

BIO: Matt Johnson, ex-cop ex soldier. Voted at No.22 in the 2018 WH Smith best-ever crime writer poll. Author of the CWA John Creasey Dagger nominated Wicked Game trilogy. Final part – End Game – out now.

7) ‘Leave it’ – Anna Mazzola

Leave a good amount of time – ideally a few weeks – between finishing the first draft and going back in. It gives you perspective and allows you to kill your darlings without remorse.

BIO: Anna Mazzola writes historical crime and Gothic fiction. Her debut novel, The Unseeing, which won an Edgar Allan Poe award, is based on the life of a real woman convicted of aiding a murder in London in 1836. Her critically acclaimed second novel, The Story Keeper, follows a folklorist’s assistant as she searches out dark fairytales and stolen girls on the Isle of Skye in 1857.

8) ‘Change the format’ – Rebecca Bradley

Read it in a different format to what you wrote it. It gives it a completely different feel. It feels like a different book. I read on my Kindle.

BIO: Rebecca Bradley is a retired police detective author of Dead Blind as well as the DI Hannah Robbins series. She lives in the UK with her family and her two cockapoos Alfie and Lola, who keep her company while she writes. Rebecca needs to drink copious amounts of tea to function throughout the day and if she could, she would survive on a diet of tea and cake while committing murder on a regular basis.

9) ‘Go back to your one line pitch’ – Claire McGowan

I find the editing stage by far the hardest, as it’s when I do the real work. One tip is to go back to your one-line pitch, or even try writing the blurb that might go on the back of the book. It helps you remember what you wanted to write about, and know what bits aren’t relevant and need to be cut. You can also try cutting around 50 words from each page, if you’re sure you can’t lose any whole scenes and still need to trim.

BIO: Claire McGowan is the author of the Paula Maguire crime series, and an upcoming standalone thriller (publishing July 2019). As Eva Woods she has also written several women’s fiction novels, and the latest, The Lives We Touch is out now.

10) ‘Don’t be afraid to delete’ – Ruth Dugdall

Don’t be afraid to delete things that don’t work: your goal is not to save words, it’s to find the right ones.

BIO: Ruth Dugdall is a British crime novelist whose award-winning novels delve into dark topics. Her latest novel THE THINGS YOU DIDN’T SEE has a protagonist with synaesthesia, who is investigating a crime, apparently committed whilst the suspect was sleepwalking.

11) ‘Go bite-size’ – Lucy Van Smit

Go bite-size. Break down rewriting into voice, plot, turning points etc and do one at a time. Always remember to read it aloud to check flow. I love editing!

BIO: Hailed by The Irish Times as ‘a writer to watch’, former documentary maker Lucy Van Smit is the author of the award-winning novel The Hurting, ‘a Nordic Noir Wuthering Heights’.

12) ‘Be ruthless’ – Peter James

Be ruthless and hard on yourself, if you feel something is slowing the action then it almost certainly is.

BIO: Peter James’ books have sold 19 million copies with 13 number ones. His standalone Absolute Proof has recently been published and the paperback of his new Roy Grace, Dead If You Don’t.

What Writers Can Learn

These writers have a wealth of experience, acclaim AND sales behind them. It’s true writing AND rewriting is a personal journey, yet these authors also echo one another too. So, thinking of their tips as a ‘best practices’ guide, here’s what we can learn:

  • Let your draft – and brain! – ‘breathe’. Don’t start editing right away.
  • Reading your draft through in a different way to how you wrote it is a good idea, ie. on your Kindle, rather than your laptop. (I like to print mine out on paper – always remember to recycle if you do the same!).
  • Find out what you REALLY have, not what you hope you have. Also work out if you have lost sight of what it was *supposed* to be, or whether it has EVOLVED. Sometimes it is a fine line.
  • Trust your editor. It’s not ‘you versus them’. Rewriting should not be a battle.
  • Don’t be afraid of the work. It has to be done.

Don’t forget to thank our authors by checking out their books.

Good luck with your own rewriting!

PREVIOUSLY: Read these authors’ tips on getting the first draft done, HERE.

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First Things First

First drafts seem to be your favourite part of the process, or THE WORST. For me, I hate every minute of the first draft – I guess it’s the editor in me! But since it’s November, that means Nanowrimo … So I thought I would crack open my email address book and ask some experts their first draft tips. Enjoy!

1) ‘Call Draft 1 a plan’ – Sophie Hannah

Call it a really detailed plan, not a first draft – this takes the pressure right off!

BIO: Sophie Hannah is an internationally bestselling author of psychological crime fiction and poetry. Her most recent books are the Hercule Poirot continuation novel The Mystery of Three Quarters and a quirky self-help book, How to Hold a Grudge.

2) ‘Don’t wait until The Muse strikes’ – Sanjida Kay

Do some maths! Work out how many words you’re going to write, and how many days you’ve got in which to write them so that you know approximately how many words you’ll need to write in a day. Choose when you’re going to write and block out that time in your diary as if it’s a Very Important Meeting. At the appointed time, have a strong coffee or mint tea if you’re a mint-tea-kind-of-a person; stick a DO NOT DISTURB sign on the door and switch off all social media and your email account. Put your phone on silent.

Don’t wait until The Muse strikes. Stay at your desk/laptop until you’ve banged out some words. Don’t worry if they’re not the best words. You just need some words. Do start with a plan – a rough outline of the story and the characters at the very least. Go for long walks at the weekend to think about what you’re going to write during the week.

BIO: Sanjida Kay is the author of three psychological thrillers, Bone by Bone (longlisted for a CWA Steel Dagger Award, nominated as one of the best crime and thriller books of the year by the Guardian and the Sunday Express and named as an Amazon Rising Star); The Stolen Child (optioned for film and TV rights by the company that made Homeland) and latest, My Mother’s Secret. Sanjida lives in Bristol, with her husband and daughter.

3) ‘Plot beforehand and create a road map’ – Paula Daly

I hate the first draft. It’s my least favourite part of the process. So I need a plan, a road map, or I can’t find my way to the end. I plot for around three months before I start writing (some of this is done during the editorial process of the previous novel) and by the time I write Chapter One, I have pretty much the whole book worked out.

BIO: Paula Daly is the acclaimed author of five novels. She has been shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger Crime Novel of the Year award, and her books have been developed for the new ITV television series,  Deep Water, starring Anna Friel.

4) ‘Write, write, write!’ – James Carol

Write, write, then write some more. This might sound overly simplistic but It’s the only way you’re going to reach the finish line.  If you’re thinking about writing you’re not writing … ditto if you’re talking about it. The only way to get the book finished is to get those words onto the page. I’m not going to bullshit you: the first draft is hard work. Basically you’re down in the word mine day after day. It’s dark and lonely down there and the only thing you’ve got for company are your doubts. The pay off comes when you finally get to the end of the first draft. That one never gets boring.

BIO: James Carol is the creator of the Jefferson Winter series, which includes the bestselling Broken Dolls. He also writes standalones under the name JS Carol. These include The Killing Game, which was shortlisted for a CWA steel dagger. His latest novel is Kiss Me, Kill Me.

5) ‘Don’t edit as you write’ – Zoe Lea

Resist the urge to go back and edit what you’ve already written, keep moving forward until you type out ‘the end’.

BIO: Zoe Lea is an author living in the Lake District, her first book, If He Wakes became an international kindle bestseller and her next book The Secretary is due out summer 2019.

6) ‘Get it written’ – Matt Johnson

First drafts don’t need to be perfect, they just have to be written. Don’t slow down the creative process by worrying about typing quality, spelling, grammar etc. That can and will get sorted out later. Let the story flow.

BIO: Matt Johnson, ex-cop, ex-soldier. Voted at No.22 in the 2018 WH Smith best ever crime writer poll. Author of the CWA John Creasey Dagger nominated Wicked Game trilogy. Final part – End Game – out now.

7) ‘Turn off the internet’ – Anna Mazzola

Turn off the internet (I use the Self Control app to limit access to social media) and set yourself a realistic word count for each day. I write in Scrivener, which allows you to set a target and then receive a satisfying ‘bing’ if and when you hit it. Oh, and coffee. A lot of coffee.

BIO: Anna Mazzola writes historical crime and Gothic fiction. Her debut novel, The Unseeing, which won an Edgar Allan Poe award, is based on the life of a real woman convicted of aiding a murder in London in 1836. Her critically acclaimed second novel, The Story Keeper, follows a folklorist’s assistant as she searches out dark fairytales and stolen girls on the Isle of Skye in 1857.

8) ‘Write every day’ – Rebecca Bradley

Write every day. Even if it’s just a handful of sentences on a difficult day, it keeps the story percolating in your head and makes it easy to go back to every day.

BIO: Rebecca Bradley is a retired police detective and author of Dead Blind as well as the DI Hannah Robbins series. She lives in the UK with her family and her two cockapoo’s Alfie and Lola, who keep her company while she writes. Rebecca needs to drink copious amounts of tea to function throughout the day and if she could, she would survive on a diet of tea and cake while committing murder on a regular basis.

9) ‘Focus on wordcount, over time’ – Claire McGowan

My absolute best tip for this is to always focus on wordcount not writing time. If you say ‘I’m going to sit down and write for four hours’, there’s a good chance you might still do nothing. I make myself do 1 or 2k words every day in the writing stage. I can’t do anything with the story until I have a good chunk of it down on paper. If you get on with it and don’t ever delete or stop to edit (my other tip!), you can do this in 15 minutes a day if you have to.

BIO: Claire McGowan is the author of the Paula Maguire crime series, and an upcoming standalone thriller (publishing July 2019). As Eva Woods she has also written several women’s fiction novels, and the latest, The Lives We Touch, is out now.

10) ‘Throw it down’ – Ruth Dugdall

Gag your inner critic! The first draft is about clay on the kiln. Don’t try to make it look pretty, just throw it down.

BIO: Ruth Dugdall is a British crime novelist whose award-winning novels delve into dark topics. Her latest novel The Things Your Didn’t See has a protagonist with synesthesia, who is investigating a crime, apparently committed whilst the suspect was sleepwalking.

11) ‘Do your prep first’ – Lucy Van Smit

Bum on chair. And be alert for your distractions, excuses and procrastination. Dio your prep first on story/character. Know what you want to say, then just say it. Switch the editor off and get it down on the page.

BIO: Hailed by The Irish Times as ‘a writer to watch’, former documentary maker Lucy Van Smit is the author of the award-winning novel The Hurting, ‘a Nordic Noir Wuthering Heights’.

12) ‘Write Every Day’ – Peter James

Write every day for 6 days a week at an amount that you are comfortable with, without fail.

BIO: Peter James’ books have sold 19 million copies with 13 number ones. His standalone Absolute Proof has recently been published and the paperback of his new Roy Grace Dead If You Don’t.

What Writers Can Learn

As with my previous ‘Ask the Experts’ post from TV writers, it’s interesting to note how many similar responses there are here. These writers are all accomplished and acclaimed, so let’s consider what they can teach us:

  • Nothing matters except getting the first draft written. This might be obvious, but it’s non-negotiable. Without the first draft, there is no book (or film or TV show for that matter, either).
  • Work out what will PREVENT you from getting the first draft written. If that’s the internet, turn it off – ie. use app blockers.
  • Work out what will ENABLE to you get the first draft written. If that’s a plan, use a plan. If that’s focusing on wordcount and/or what time you have available, do that. Whatever it takes.
  • Don’t edit as you go along. That comes later.

Don’t forget to check out the books by the writers listed here as a thanks for their guidance.

Good luck with your own first drafts!

NEXT: Read these authors’ rewriting tips, HERE

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Been Rejected? Join the club!

Who wants to be rejected? No one! We all want agents, publishers or producers to say, ‘We love it! Here’s a bag of money!’ Wouldn’t that be great???

Alas, you can’t be a winner unless you know what it is to be a loser. Some writers are rejected a handful of times before that all important YES happens. Some are rejected repeatedly for years. But ALL of us have to find a way to deal with this inevitable part of the industry.

Here’s a round-up of everything you need to know about the dreaded ‘R’ word:

1) What Creative Icons Can Teach You About Rejection

It seems insane that the most incredible icons of the world were once rejected. Who in their right mind snubs JK Rowling and Dr. Seuss? For what we can learn from these successful rejects, CLICK HERE.

2) Rejected? Top 5 Tips What to Do About It

Thought you knew what the problem was? Yay … Oh, wait. You’re still getting slapped in the face by rejection. Do not despair. CLICK HERE For what you can do.

3) 38 Good Reasons Your Script Might Get Rejected 

Years have passed … But still those rejections roll in. Arrrgghh!!! Bang2write’s got ya back. CHECK OUT THIS EPIC LIST and see if any of these reasons are blocking success

4) Failure Is Not Fatal. How to Succeed, No Matter What

Remember – rejection is NOT failure. You only fail when you quit. Here’s how to succeed.

 5) How To Be Successful, Defined by 5 Facebook Memes

Yes, yes memes are a load of crap. Except when they aren’t! If you’re in need of a motivation boost, CHECK THESE OUT.

 6) 10 Lies Writers Tell Themselves On Writing 

You might be kidding yourself, which can lead to rejection too. Are you telling yourself sweet little lies? Find out HERE.

7) 10 More Writer Fails (And How to Avoid Them)

Writers can’t avoid rejection. Unless they self-publish and even then, the public could reject the work. However, you can AVOID THESE 10 FAILS that often lead to rejection.

8) Top 5 Mistakes Writers Make Dealing with Rejection

Writers make mistakes when dealing with rejection? YEP! Some mistakes can be seriously damaging to your career. CLICK HERE and find out how to avoid making these top mistakes.

9) 5 Tips for Screenwriters to Find A Producer (And 3 More On Why You’re Failing)

WHY IS IT STILL HAPPENING! Help me. Help is here. Click the link.

10) Rejected? 3 Industry Pros tell you: DON’T GIVE UP!

Never give up. If you know in your heart that you’re a writer do not allow someone else to tell you that you’re not. Rejection doesn’t mean you can’t write. It’s true, some don’t have the magic needed to become a superstar storyteller. But that’s not what matters! Get those ducks lined up. Don’t give up before the slowest little duck can make it to the row. READ NOW.

Last Words

I hope you enjoyed this round-up on rejection. Get a cuppa, get out your … notebook (what did you think I was going to say?) and draft up a plan using these Bang2write resources. Reject rejection and keep going. Make it happen. See you on the other side!

BIO: Emma Pullar is a writer of dark fiction and children’s books. She also dabbles in screenwriting and has won/been shortlisted for several short story/script competitions. Follow Emma as @Emma_Storyteller as she lurks in the shadows, spying on people in the name of inspiration and creativity.

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