Novel Writing

5 Things Killing Your Writing Productivity

This post is a well-timed reminder for me; I hope you find it useful also.

Meg Dowell Writes


How do you become a more productive writer? That’s a loaded question. Productivity, as you hopefully already know, requires a few major attributes in terms of writing well, often, with purpose. One reason many self-proclaimed aspiring writers can’t get any writing done is because they can’t get past common roadblocks to writing productivity … or rather, they don’t even know what these potential roadblocks are.

There are habits and circumstances killing your writing productivity. Here are the most common ones, and how to extinguish them.

1. Self-editing

Self-editing, while you’re writing, is destructive and time-consuming. It’s tempting; I know. I still do it way more often than I should, too. If you’re always stopping to fix what you just wrote five seconds ago, your piece isn’t going to move forward very quickly, if at all. As tempting as it may be, save editing for later. Always finish writing first…

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Novel Writing

Writing a Book: Overview

I found this article incredibly helpful. Through it I was able to put my writing into perspective. I hope you all enjoy it too.

Empowering Your creativity

I’ve been a book coach for 19 years, working with people all over the world on memoir, novels, self-help books and even film scripts. I began my career as an international journalist (in newsrooms like London’s Financial Times).

People come to my company, Art of Storytelling, wanting to write and publish a book. Few understand the stages involved. I’m creating an outline of the stages here, and expounding upon them on my YouTube Art of Storytelling stream. Subscribe to both blog and stream to keep posted on more on the publication process. We assist people wherever they are at in the book writing process, from rough draft to publication.

Rough draft

Duration: On average, a rough draft takes a new writer one to two years to complete.

Skill sets: In this phase, you’ll be learning to develop characterization, setting, plot and theme.

Biggest Lesson: The greatest lesson you…

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Novel Writing

How to Create a Consistent Writing Habit

Writing seems so easy when we start out, doesn’t it? When an idea hits you square in the forehead, and you are in awe of your imagination. You picture yourself tucked up in the corner of a cosy cafe, latte steaming, and with pages of magnificent prose on the laptop before you.

I wonder how long it takes the average writer to realise their idealistic views will not materialise? We all reach the point where our coffee sits beside us, stone cold, and we despair at the task ahead.

When this happens, it is so easy to let our motivation wane and to put our writing on the back burner. Stopping when writing gets hard is pure folly. Think of writing like building muscle in the gym. If you were to stop exercising the moment you felt a prickle of sweat, there’s no growth, no improvement, and no point even starting. It’s the same with writing. You will never write a novel if you give up when it’s hard. 

So how can we keep our motivation levels high and build a consistent writing habit?

Set aside dedicated time – If you only write when you fancy it, eventually you will stop altogether. Let’s face it, sometimes an hour watching Netflix is preferable to an hour spent writing. You can generally find something else you’d rather do than write (sleeping in for instance), so you need dedicated time which is devoted to writing and nothing else.

Celebrate mini victories – Celebrate when you hit a word count milestone, or when you’ve written every day in a week. Reward your hard work, and don’t let progress go unnoticed.

Push through the wall – When you sit down to write, and everything you attempt to write seems wrong, keep going. Just write the rubbish that comes to mind and keep going, after all, you can fix things later on. If you push through, most of the time the words will start to flow in earnest.

Ensure you have enough fun in your life – If your whole life is writing it might just kill the joy of it. Personally, I have to ensure I spend time with my friends on a regular basis, because I am an extrovert and writing is quite an introverted activity. For others, it may be running, or painting or computer games. Just make sure that you plan in fun time. Not only does it energise you, but it also gives you more ideas about what to write.

Make yourself Accountable – Find someone who will ask you how your writing is going, and then answer them honestly. This could be a spouse, or a writing coach, perhaps even another blogger. Just make sure that someone is keeping you accountable.

Best of luck fiction writers, I hope that this post has helped you. I would like to leave you with some wise words written in a comment on my blog earlier this week by Stephen R Gann

“Consistency builds connection, which leads to a strong, concise completion.”

Novel Writing

Character Development Quiz

Drum roll please, here is The Blissful Scribbles Character Quiz, a small quiz to help you develop your characters. Of course, I have used this quiz myself for my four main characters, but I won’t bore you with my longwinded responses. Please, give it a whirl, and see if it helps!

  • If they won the lottery how would they spend the money?character-development
  • At a party, where do they choose to sit? How do they feel in a large group at a party? Is there a difference between how they appear on the outside and how they feel on the inside?
  • What type of clothes do they choose to wear? If you went shopping with them, where would they take you?
  • What are they ashamed of about themselves?
  • What character trait, excuse the pun, are they most proud of about themselves?
  • Who do they trust and why?
  • What do they think about right before they fall asleep?
  • How do they feel when they wake up in the morning?
  • What do they hate about the life they are living at the start of the book compared to the end?
  • If they were sat in front of you right now, what would they say to you?

I hope you enjoy using the questions, although some are a bit obscure I find they help me to get into the minds of my characters. Let me know if you enjoyed the quiz I would love to hear about it! If you’d like to read more about my take on character development, click here.

Grammar · Novel Writing

Subordinate Clauses Darling

If you stopped by last week, you’d know we had a delightful time discussing Main Clauses, the cornerstones of complete sentences. Today, we will be focusing on the delights that are subordinate or dependent clauses. 

Subordinate clauses are the peppercorn sauce on your steak, the brandy butter on your Christmas Pudding, and the vanilla syrup in your latte. They are the little extras that bring joy to your taste buds, but just don’t work as a meal in themselves. I’m not ashamed to say that as a twenty-seven-year-old woman I recently ate Fruit Pastilles, Quality Street, and Terry’s Chocolate Orange segments all day long with no “proper” food alongside them. To say I felt unwell would be an understatement, and not because I ate too much but because what I ate had no substance.

Subordinate clauses are like that, they are the added extra that makes writing sparkle, but on their own, they just don’t work.

Here’s an excerpt from my work in progress, I’ll highlight the main and subordinate clauses for you.

The night air tickles my cheeks as we walk home from the hospital, and I turn to look at Annie, wrapped up in the grey, checked winter coat that she loves.

Main Clauses

  • We walk home from the hospital
  • I turn to look at Annie
  • Annie is wrapped up in a coat

Subordinate Clauses

  • Night air tickles
  • The coat is grey with a checked pattern
  • She loves the coat

There is flavour added by the subordinate clauses that would have been lost without them, we know that the night is cold, that Annie is wearing a grey check coat and that she loves it. If we had just used main clauses, we would have lost detail and interest, but if we just used subordinate clauses we wouldn’t care about the temperature or what coat she is wearing because we wouldn’t understand why it is relevant.

It’s the balance of main and subordinate clauses that makes our writing interesting, and many of us do this without even noticing it.


Novel Writing

Writing Two Books at the Same Time

I am bored of writing my first novel. Shock horror, how dare I, I’m obviously not made to be a writer! That’s how I imagined I would feel if I ever became tired of my first story. To me, the thought of having two books simultaneously taking up space in my head was akin to cheating on my husband. Just plain wrong.

At first, I saw my novel as my baby, something I would love and nurture, protect, and devote myself to until it was done and ready to fly the nest. I couldn’t imagine leaving my baby crying in the cot for weeks on end, with no love, no food, no nurturing.

Well, it turns out that my novel is more of an orchid. Sure, it needs sunlight, water, attention, pruning. It doesn’t, however, need constant attention, it likes to be left alone, to grow and to settle, to become beautiful. So I’ve started planting another little “novel orchid” in my head every now and then, plan a main character here, grow a plot point here, sprinkle some intrigue over there. 

It keeps the creative part of my brain happy while the perfectionist, grammar-obsessed part of my brain can tend to the original story. In short, I’m happy, more productive and enjoying writing a whole lot more.

I wonder, does anyone else find novel writing a strange balance of generating fresh ideas and beating old ones into submission? If so I’d love to hear from you, please, comment away!

Grammar · Novel Writing

Introducing the Main Clause

Hello, lovely people of the Grammar loving (or hating) variety. I hope you are well? Good? Great. Please, may I have the honour of introducing you to my esteemed friend the Main Clause? Yes? Fantastic, let’s begin.

Without Mr. Main Clause nothing in my life would make sense, he is a standup guy, in fact, if you take him out of a long sentence he’ll just stand alone as a new sentence all by himself. Other clauses are lost without him, oh yes, he is a leader my Mr. Main Clause. The foundation of every sentence I have ever written.

Here are the main facts we need to know about Main Clauses –

  • They make sense independently of any other clause
  • Other subordinate or dependent clauses (more on these later) need main clauses to make sense
  • Main clauses are the only types of clauses that can make up one sentence without any other types of clauses within them (my goodness what a mouthful).
  • A paragraph made up of only main clauses generally sounds abrupt, staccato, and, well, rubbish

Let’s identify a couple of main clauses from my work in progress

She tenses as a contraction sweeps through her body, her painted red fingernails digging into my arms, imprinting small half moon shapes in my flesh.

  • A contraction (subject) sweeps (verb) through her
  • Fingernails (subject) dig (verb) into my arm

I could have written this with only main clauses, but where is the fun in that?

Main Clauses are the structures that we hang the details, subtleties, and descriptions from within our prose. Nothing would make sense, and everything would crumble without them. Come back next week to read about subordinate and dependent clauses.


Novel Writing

Show, Don’t Tell

It didn’t take long after starting to write my novel for me to come across the phrase “Show, Don’t tell.” As the go-to piece of advice for new and aspiring writers, I’m sure most of you have heard it as well. Why is it such popular advice? Well, because it is damn good advice!

You know that feeling of being completely submerged in a story? Where you are completely and utterly involved in the scene, and feel you understand all the nuance and subtleties going on in the story? That spark which makes reading addictive? That comes from showing rather than telling.

Experienced writers avoid telling the reader something that they could show them instead.

You could tell a reader that your main character has recently been in a fight or you could describe the colour of their bruises.

You could explain that someone is an alcoholic or your could describe the stale smell of alcohol on their clothes and the red spider veins littering their nose.

You could say that someone walked through the forest or you could describe the sound of the autumn leaves crunching underfoot and the towering trees that span for miles in all directions.

Which versions sound better to you?

It takes more effort, more imagination and more patience but the results are worth it. No one wants to read a flat, lifeless story where they are told what to think. We want to feel, smell, touch and experience a story, we want to be given a chance to live it, not just read about it.


NaNoWriMo · Novel Writing

I failed NaNoWriMo

I failed NaNoWriMo. I wonder how many people are in the same boat as me. For those of you who completed NaNoWriMo, congratulations! What an incredible achievement. For many people, the draw of NaNoWriMo comes because it is such a challenge to actually complete. Writing 50,000 words in the month of November is a huge feat of endurance, inspiration and dedication.
Does this mean that if we have failed the challenge that we have no hope of becoming published authors? Does it mean that we do not have what it takes? No. I will say it again, no, it does not. It only means we couldn’t, at that particular stage in our novels, write tens of thousands of words in a month.
I, myself, reached 43,000 words before I gave up with a few days left in the contest. I chose not to finish for one simple reason. I didn’t like what I was writing. My descriptions were generic and boring, I had long ago decided to change my point of view, and I was merely getting down words. I stopped enjoying what I was writing because I have so much left to learn. I am not ready to write thousands of words a day because I am still learning how to write a few words well.
Possibly next year, or the year after, I might be ready, but then again I might not. I’m not going to give myself a hard time for this because I learnt so much about how I work as a writer in the process. If you have also “failed” NaNoWriMo I would say to you that it isn’t that important. Is it a fantastic achievement to have made? Yes, undoubtedly. Is it a necessary step to becoming an accomplished writer? I don’t think so. For anyone else out there who is feeling down in the dumps about the NaNoWriMo, I hope this post helps you to see that what really counts in learning to write, is to keep on keeping on and not giving up, for a lifetime and not a month.