What Doomscrolling is Doing to Your Writing Creativity – From the Writers in the Storm Blog

by Colleen M. Story

Is “doomscrolling” hurting your writing creativity?

If you haven’t heard of the term, it describes the act of consuming a lot of negative information at once, typically online.

It’s become more popular over the past year, but it could ruin your writing sessions. Here’s how and what you can do to protect yourself.

What is Doomscrolling?

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, doomscrolling gained steam as people began scrolling their news and social media feeds for information on how to protect themselves. Things got worse during the George Floyd protests and later, during the 2020 election, as we all compulsively scoured the Internet in search of ever more terrible information.

Strangely enough, we feel productive while doing it. We’re gaining information about current events and informing ourselves about issues we have a reason to be concerned about.

The problem is that we often keep going even after we’ve gathered the basic information we need. Like witnesses to a train wreck, we simply can’t pull our attention from the constant stream of disasters.

Read the rest of this post HERE.

Does Your Novel Have a Problem? (It Should) – From the Writers in the Storm Blog

By Janice Hardy (@Janice_Hardy)

I’ve always been drawn to writing science fiction and fantasy, which means that I’ve written a lot of first drafts based on “cool ideas” but no real conflict. Sure, I had a sense of what the problems were, and maybe even a few key scenes unfolding in my mind, but the books were about the idea, not characters with specific problems. 

No surprise, those drafts never got beyond the first draft.

Many a novel has been started with a vague idea and a lot of pages that explain why that idea is so cool. They’re even well-written novels, but in the end, they fail because there’s no point to them and no problem driving the plot.

Read the rest of this post HERE.

Are You a Whole-Hearted Writer? – From the Writers in the Storm Blog

by Tasha Seegmiller

There is a tricky situation that occurs in the lives of writers. To people who are not engaged in some kind of similar creative pursuit, explaining a difficult day can be met with expressions of disbelief. “You mean sitting in your seat and typing words was hard? Exhausting? Really?”

These people may also not understand why the words of others can hurt, whether that hurt was intentional or not. It can be anything from a bad review to a critique from a well-meaning colleague or beta reader that can make us doubt, stall, quit.

I’ve been on a bit of a Brené Brown kick lately.

[Full disclosure: I gave away nearly a dozen copies of her Daring Greatly, have been listening to every talk I can get my hands on, and recount key points almost daily to my very patient husband.]

Most recently, I’ve been listening to The Power of Vulnerability, which has been great because it is a live recording of Brené and I get to hear that she is a lot like me in her resilience to this whole open and honest thing.

But it has got me thinking quite a bit about what it might mean to be a whole-hearted writer. To start with, these are the guideposts she suggests of whole-hearted living:

Read the rest of this post HERE.

Criticism versus Critique – From the Writers in the Storm Blog

by Tiffany Yates Martin

No creative soul likes receiving negative feedback on their work—no matter what we might tell you, beloved crit partners, beta readers, editors, agents.

Yes, we may admit we need it, and that it helps immeasurably to get objective input on what may not be as effective on the page as it is in your head, but as one author I work with memorably put it, having someone offer positive, constructive critique of your story is like an Orange Theory workout: You dread it going into it, hate every second while it’s going on, but afterward you feel great having done it.

But receiving negative, destructive input—criticism—can do more damage to your writing, and your creative efforts in general, than almost any other pitfall of writing life. I’ve heard too many horror stories—one just this week that inspired this post—about feedback that shut down authors’ creative impulses, filled them with self-doubt about their story and their writing in general, and in one awful case decimated the author’s confidence so badly that she told me she was giving up writing. (Don’t worry—ultimately she didn’t.)

“Positive” feedback in this sense doesn’t mean all praise, or empty flattery. It means framing feedback as the carrot, not the stick. “This scene isn’t working” feels a lot different from, “This scene might be a bit stronger/have more impact if…” Just like in a marriage or any relationship, as soon as someone feels under attack, they shut down.

So how do you solicit useful critique, and perhaps more important, how do you assess the input you receive to determine what’s helpful for you and your story and what isn’t?

Read the rest of this post HERE.

Four of the Best Writing Exercises EVER – From the Writers in the Storm Blog

by Barbara Linn Probst

If you’re like me, you have a shelf of books and a computer folder (or two) of tips, checklists, bullet points, blogs, and advice about how to write a good story. Even though many of these strategies are, on a closer look, rather similar, it’s still pretty overwhelming. No one can do everything, so we find those that appeal to us.

My Favorite Four Writing Exercises

Here are four of the exercises that I’ve found the most useful.  They address character, plot, and the quality of the writing.

Listening to Your Protagonist (Adapted from Donald Maass)

The exercise: Visualize yourself sitting across the table from your protagonist. (I like to visualize the setting, too—in my mind, we’re at my kitchen table, but your conversation might be at Starbucks or in a park.) Ask your protagonist these questions, and listen to what she has to tell you. Write down everything that comes out of her mouth, exactly as she says it. (It only works if you actually write down what you “hear” her saying. Don’t just think it.)

  • How do you feel about the way I’ve portrayed you?
  • What do you really want to do that I’m not letting you do?
  • What are you afraid I might put you through? What do you dread seeing yourself do on the page?
  • What about the other characters? You know them better than I do. Whom am I not getting? What am I missing?
  • What do you want to say to one of the other characters in the story that I’m not letting you say?
  • What’s this story really about—to you?  What am I getting wrong?  

My experience:  I did this with my WIP, and it was one of the most amazing exercises I’ve ever done! My protagonist pulled no punches and told me exactly what she thought of me—how I was projecting my own hang-ups onto her, making her too defensive, and suppressing her kinder impulses. She told me that I needed to love her more.

Luckily, I listened to her—and when I did, the story got so much better.

Read the rest of this post HERE.

Backstory: Dodging the Info Dump – From the Writers in the Storm Blog

by Lori Freeland

My favorite line from Tangled is when Flynn Rider tells Rapunzel, “I don’t do backstory.” To me, it sets the tone for who he is and how he’s going to change. His past is his past, and he refuses to dump it on anyone—even himself. And that is his backstory.  

Backstory is everything that’s happened in your characters’ lives up to the moment we meet them. It’s the people, places, and events he’s experienced. The family and friends she did or didn’t have. How his parents raised him. The way her childhood illness colored her world.  

Like real people, your characters have a past. It’s what’s shaped them into who they are and what pushes them up and over their character arc into who they’re supposed to become.

If we share too much too fast, it pulls the reader back in time and slows down the story’s pacing. If we share too little too late, it leaves the reader confused and your characters hollow.

The same way that it’s hard to connect with shallow people in real life, it’s hard to connect with hollow characters in a book. Also, remember, backstory is mostly telling rather than showing. That’s okay sometimes, but too much telling runs the risk of readers skimming your pages.   

Backstory. You can’t write with it. You can’t write without it. So how do you sidestep the information dump and slip subtly into the middle ground?

Read the rest of this post HERE.

10 Self-Editing Tips – From the Writers in the Storm Blog

By Ellen Buikema

I often feel that my first drafts are like the first cooked pancake in a batch, otherwise known in my family as the doggy-pancake—tasty but with issues.

Although it is said that Shakespeare never crossed out a line, most published books have very different first drafts. Good writing takes time, along with some wailing and gnashing of teeth.

At my author visits in school libraries, I’d ask the students to take a quick glance at all the books on the shelves. Then I told them, “When the authors began writing those books they made all kinds of mistakes. So don’t worry. Get your thoughts on the page and worry about fixing the errors later. Everyone makes mistakes.”

These ten self-editing tips can help shape your next manuscript.

1. Read out loud

Using text-to-speech programs, reading aloud to yourself, or listening to someone else read helps you find errors in grammar, sentence structure, and flow. When those lines don’t look quite right, hearing them is a quick way to zero in on needed edits.

Read the rest of this post HERE.

Fact or Fiction: “Flow” Improves the Writing Life – From the Writers in the Storm Blog

by Kris Maze

My last post at WITS went in-depth on the aspects of Flow and how to use the psychology of writing to get into the Creative Zone.  How does that apply to our misconceptions about getting into the mood for writing?

Here are a few scenarios common to writers.  What do you think? Do you agree?

Take a look at this video, if you want a quick refresher on How to Enter the Flow State . If you are ready for a mini quiz, see how Getting Into Flow can get you past these common writing issues.

Pop Quiz Time!  Let’s see what your opinions are on these typical writer ideals about getting into the Flow Zone.  Fact or Fiction?

Read the rest of this post HERE.

Is Your Writing in a Slump? Get into the Flow! – From the Writers in the Storm Blog

by Kris Maze

Is your writing in a slump?  Are you having trouble finding motivation to finish your next project?  Have you lost that loving feeling?  (Insert cheesy, singing jet pilots here if that works for you!) Fear not, skilled writers, we are in this together and I hope you will soon find your words flowing like Niagara Falls.

Getting into the Zone, or Flow, has been a popular topic for creatives like writers since the 1990s.  What do you already know about the theory and its application to writing?  Check out your understanding of these studies that clarify the mental process of writing and enhance your satisfaction with life.

Read the rest of this post HERE.

4 Ways to Write Deeper with Personification – From the Writers in the Storm Blog

by Lisa Hall Wilson

I’m often asked how to go deeper in fiction. My jam is Deep Point of View, and I get that not everyone loves deep POV. That’s okay. However, if you’re looking for a really quick way to make your setting or characters come alive on the page, personification is one of those tools that every writer can use more effectively.

Personification: giving human-like qualities to non-human things. 

The last piece of pie called his name.
The story jumped off the page.
Opportunity knocks.

All of these examples give a human-like quality or emotion to something that isn’t human. Pie doesn’t talk. Stories can’t jump anymore than opportunity can knock on something. These are obviously not literal meanings but figurative.

Read the rest of this post HERE.