Category: Writing Life

5 Tips to Turn Slow Writers into Fast Drafters

Category: Time Management & Deadlines

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Can writers train themselves to write faster? This question is much debated. Many people say that yes, writers can learn to write fast, but (at least in my opinion) those people are short on actionable ways to make that happen. The common advice seems to be: 1) time yourself, 2) create self-imposed deadlines, and 3) give yourself permission to write a sh*t first draft.

I especially hate that last one. Of course a first draft doesn’t have to be perfect (not at all!), but it has to be readable enough to edit. You cannot edit total sh*t. So all that time you spent writing fast is wasted because you now have to flush that crap down the toilet and start again. There must be a better way! So I set out to find one. Or rather, a couple clients forced me to find one…

Click here to read the full post on WriteOnSisters.com


Writer Struggles: Isolation & Loneliness

Category: Writing Life

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For me, one of the hardest things about transitioning from a screenwriter to a novelist is the isolation. Screenwriters always work with other people, especially in the television industry. You’re either in a writing room breaking stories with other writers, or on set talking to the director and crew, or in the office pitching producers and broadcasters. Even freelance screenwriters who mainly work on their own (vs staff writers) routinely talk to other people to pitch story ideas and get feedback on their script assignments. But novelists, especially those not yet published, most often work alone.

Early in this novel writing venture, I noticed I was lonely. I missed the camaraderie of screenwriting. I still attended television industry social events, but since I no longer worked full-time in the biz, I felt like an outsider, and soon I stopped going. I searched for novel writer meet-ups and found a few, but for one reason or another I didn’t stick with them regularly. Then as the years passed and I still hadn’t finished a book, I began avoiding all but my closest friends because I didn’t want to explain that yes, I was still writing that damn novel. I told myself to just buckle down, embrace the solitude, and write. Once the book was done, I could be social again. Until then, this was fine.

I might still be wallowing in my own denial if I hadn’t taken the opportunity to get some life coaching…

What happened?! Full explanation and plan over at WriteOnSisters.com


Writer Career Brainstorming

Category: Writing Life

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Happy New Year! I took a break from blogging for the last couple months of 2016, but I’m back with a plan for 2017. When not freaking out about world politics, I spent 2016 questioning my career path and investigating my options. I began on a high note, with a new freelance gig writing an educational game, a part-time job as a freshly certified gymnastics coach, and a hopeful grant application. But a few months in things were looking bad…

How bad? And what am doing to get better? To find out read the whole post at WriteOnSisters.com


Plotters vs Pantsers: Are We Really That Different?

Category: Writing Life

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Ever since I learned the terms “pantser and plotter”, I identified as a plotter (someone who outlines a story before writing a manuscript). To me, sitting down to write a whole book without an outline (i.e. the pantser method) is impossible. And now it’s time for a confession: pantsers make me feel stupid. Why can’t I just sit down at my laptop and start writing a novel? Why do I have to plan first? How is it possible that people can construct complicated long-form narratives without a story map? Is it because they’re geniuses and I am not? Should I just give up now?

Then I discovered something that made me realize that pantsers and plotters are more alike than we think.

Click here to read the full post on WriteOnSisters.com


Pitching 101: The Elevator Pitch

Category: Writing Life

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Today in Pitching 101, I’m going to give some tips on making your elevator pitch succinct, appealing and not scary – for you or the listener.

Click here to read the full post on WriteOnSisters.com


#AtoZChallenge : Productivity + Theme Reveal

Category: Time Management & Deadlines

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The April Blogging From A to Z Challenge is upon us, and for the third consecutive year, the Write On Sisters are doing it! In 2014 we didn’t have a theme; it was kind of a free-for-all about writing between four bloggers. In 2015 Robin and I focused our efforts on writing craft with the “3, 2, 1 BLASTOFF to Stellar Writing” theme in which each post had 3 quick tips on an aspect of writing, 2 examples of good technique, and 1 resource for more in-depth help. And our 2016 theme is…

Actually, hold the curtains! I’ll reveal this year’s theme by the end of this post (promise), but first, because of the demands of the A to Z Challenge, we should share some tips on writer productivity…

Click here to read the full post on Writeonsisters.com


Writers: Should You Quit Your Day Job?

Category: Time Management & Deadlines, Writing Life, Money

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This question has been on my mind a lot considering that over the past year I’ve gone from no day job to two concurrent part-time jobs. How much to work while pursuing a creative dream is a common dilemma. There’s no easy answer and the approach you take depends on your writing habits and where you’re at in your life and your career. However, if you’re considering quitting your day job, or reducing your hours to part-time, or even going back to work full-time, maybe I can help by sharing what I’ve learned over the last decade pursuing my dream while working part-time, full-time, overtime, and not at all…

Click here to read the full post on WriteOnSisters.com


Resolutions & Goals: 5 Tips to Make Them Stick

Category: Writing Life

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Writers are notorious for setting ambitious new year’s resolutions and goals, then beating themselves up for not achieving them. At least that’s what I’ve done the last few years. The result? Around this calendar milestone I always feel like a failure, despite the things I managed to accomplish. But no more! I’ve come up with 5 tips to make my 2016 resolutions and goals stick, so that by year end I feel like a success…

Click here to read the full post on WriteOnSisters.com

Happy New Year!


How To Handle Feedback: 6 Do’s & Don’ts

Category: Writing Life, Feedback & Critique

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It’s another Archive Revive because I just got a new writing gig and am super busy! Currently, I’m sifting through feedback from the clients, so this re-post is appropriate…

Over the last 15 years, I’ve had lots of opportunities to learn how to deal with script notes, whether from friends, teachers, screenwriters, broadcasters, producers or directors. In TV, it often feels like everyone, even the office dog, critiques your script. So, without further ado, here are 6 tips on handling feedback…

Click here to read the full post on WriteOnSisters.com


Results of a Slow Writer’s First NaNoWriMo

Category: Writing Life

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This year was my first participating in the legendary National Novel Writing Month. I’m a slow writer and never felt up for the challenge, but 2015 is apparently “The Year Heather Faces Intimidating Challenges,” so I gave it a go. I even made a plan: A Slow Writer’s Scheme to Win NaNoWriMo. So how’d I fare? And why am I writing about it like it’s in the past tense even though it’s still November? Read on and I’ll tell you…

Click here to read the full post on WriteOnSisters.com


A Slow Writer’s Scheme to Win NaNoWriMo

Category: Writing Life, Outlining

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I’ve just signed up for NaNoWriMo for the first time EVER. As a hardcore plotter, I’ve never felt ready to participate. I can’t even fathom writing 50,000 words of prose without a solid outline. Plus, I’m not a fast writer. My inner editor and I are a team, not enemies, and I like it that way. She (my inner editor) gives damn good advice and prevents my story from going off the rails. I appreciate that.

I know, I’ve just confessed to doing the two big no-no’s of NaNo: 1) write slowly, and 2) listen to your inner editor. I bet you’re thinking I will totally fail this challenge!

Not so fast. I have a plan. I said so in the title. Let me tell you what it is and then you can determine if I stand a chance…

Click here to read the full post on WriteOnSisters.com


What Gymnastics Taught Me About Writing

Category: Writing Life

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It’s Archive Revive Day! I’m swamped with gymnastics coach training this month, so this re-post is appropriate…

I had two childhood dreams – be a novelist and be a gymnast. I was a strange juxtaposition of sedentary nerd kid lying on the couch reading for hours, and spastic athletic kid jumping around the backyard practicing cartwheels and roundoffs and walking the wooden fence like it was a beam. In my 30s, I finally pursued my crazy dreams and discovered that though these disciplines seem like opposites, both require certain characteristics that, unfortunately, I didn’t yet possess…

Click here to read the full post on WriteOnSisters.com


#WeekendCoffeeShare – The Month of New Beginnings

Category: Writing Life

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If we were having coffee, I might actually be drinking coffee instead of tea because I need the extra boost after a hectic week! You sip your hot beverage of choice and look at me quizzically. What happened? You thought I was pretty much done the video game script and I’d be focusing on my novel this month. Why am I so busy? Well, it all started with my yearly beginning-of-September panic…

Click here to read the full post on WriteOnSisters.com


Deadlines: Helpful or Harmful?

Category: Time Management & Deadlines, Writing Life

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September is always a time for self-reflection. In a way, the start of the school year makes it feel like the end of the year, though not quite. I find myself thinking of the goals and deadlines I set for 2015. Back in January I wrote a post called The 7 Deadly Do’s and Don’ts of Deadlines, and I created a calendar of writing deadlines for myself.

Now nine months later, how is that going? Was setting self-imposed deadlines harmful or helpful to my writing process?

Click here to find out what my fate was on WriteOnSisters.com


5 Excuses to Protect Your Writing Time

Category: Time Management & Deadlines, Writing Life

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One of the benefits of being a freelance writer is making my own schedule, and having the flexibility to change that schedule if I want to. For instance, I am not a morning person, and in fact joked that I’m part vampire in this post here because I write best after sunset and terribly at sunrise. Luckily, as a freelancer, I have the freedom to write well into the night and sleep in in the morning. My flexible schedule also enables me to take long lunches with friends, visit my parents mid-week when renting a car is cheaper, and enrol in a weekly trampoline class that starts at 4pm – all because I don’t have to complete my work during a regular 9-to-5 schedule. However, it’s important to note that doing these things means I have to make up work hours in the evening or on the weekend.

Now, when I’m working for a client, it’s easy to protect those hours. Everyone understands having a deadline and a boss. But when I’m working on my novel, not so much…

Click here to read the full post on WriteOnSisters.com


Weekend Coffee Share – Bike Raving

Category: Writing Life

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If we were having coffee, I’d lament that it is already August. How is that possible? Didn’t the summer just start? I seriously do not understand how time passes so fast. My mom used to say that time passes faster the older you get, but I didn’t really believe her until I hit my 30s. Now it’s like I’m in some weird warp where the clocks keep skipping hours and there is quite literally never enough time. Of course, I’ve also had a busy summer work wise, and the hours do disappear rapidly when there’s a deadline involved. On the plus side, I hope being this busy and panicked has made me a faster writer. Because I am super sick of being so painfully slow.

If we were having coffee, I’d concede that there have been bright spots amidst the panicked deadlines. My blog post this Monday on How To Get Work as a Writer was one of the best posts WriteOnSisters.com has ever had, traffic wise. So yay! And last weekend I eked out some free time to rock the Bike Rave. Cycling around Toronto en masse with bikes lit up by glowsticks and lights is a neat experience. Even better are the speaker contraptions people attach to their pedal-powered vehicles so that we have music on the ride.

For some #bikeraveTO photos, read the rest of the post on WriteOnSisters.com.


How To Get Work as a Writer

Category: Writing Life, Money

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I have worked as a television screenwriter for most of my adult life, and currently I’m working as a video game writer. Some of WOS’s readers have asked me how to get work as a writer, and I was reluctant to write a post about that because it’s such an individual question. My story is specific to my education, location and vocation (though if you’re curious, I’ll include it at the end of this post). But, I do know a lot of writers of various disciplines (screenwriters, journalists, magazine editors, game writers, copy editors), so I decided to put that combined knowledge into a general post on how to get work as a writer. Here goes…

Click here to read the full post on WriteOnSisters.com


#WeekendCoffeeShare – Timetable Edition

Category: Time Management & Deadlines, Writing Life

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If we were having coffee, I’d be tempted to cancel on you. Nothing personal, I’m just feeling like there are not enough hours in the day to accomplish what I’ve set out to do and I want to be working on the novel more. Remember back in January when I set deadlines and downloaded an internet blocker to be more productive? I’m doing all that and it’s been helpful, but I still don’t have enough time. I’m missing most of my personal deadlines, not because I’m procrastinating but because writing is taking longer than I ever anticipated. It feels like time is running away from me and I can’t catch it.

Read the full post on Writeonsisters.com to find out how I will catch time!


3 Steps to Beat the Winter Writer Blahs

Category: Writing Life

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For those of us in the northern hemisphere, February is a brutal, soul-sucking, mind-numbing month of misery. It’s so damn cold. And dark. And depressing. If you live in the city, all the pretty white snow has turned to salty grey sludge. If you live in the country, you’re probably buried up to your eavestroughs in the white stuff and getting a little claustrophobic. And if you live in the milder sections, you’re permanently damp from the unrelenting drizzle and so low on vitamin D you can hardly get out of bed in the morning. Yep. February sucks. It takes a physical and mental toll on us all. But as a writer, it also takes a toll on my self-esteem, because around this time of year I start doubting every writing project I’m working on, and therefore doubting my decision to become a writer. However, what I should really be asking myself is this:

Are the February Blahs simply bringing me down? Or does my story legitimately suck? Or is this just a writing rut? How can I tell the difference?

To find out, click here to read the whole post on Writeonsisters.com


#WeekendCoffeeShare – Writer Brain Freeze

Category: Writing Life

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If we were having coffee here in Toronto, we’d probably be strolling around outside, because for the first time in two weeks the temperature is not in the negative double digits. Today is a positively spring-like -4 degrees Celsius!

During our obligatory Canadian chit-chat about the weather, I’d tell you that in the middle of the deep freeze, my boyfriend launched a business that delivers natural products by bike (greatergoods.ca). And yes, deliveries were made even when the north winds were blowing at 50km/hr. You think he should charge extra for delivery when it’s that miserable out, but I say it’s not the customers fault Old Man Winter had a tantrum. We made do. Though I’m sick of stuffing my scarf under my goggles to keep my cheeks warm.

As for my writing, I feel like my brain has frozen…

Click here to read the full post on Writeonsisters.com