Is it Toward or Towards? Upwards or Upward?

Is it Toward or Towards? Upwards or Upward?

English is full of words that seem the same, but have subtle differences in their spelling and usage. These tricky words seem designed specifically to trip you up. Recently, we tackled ensure vs. insure. Today, let’s take on another vocabulary conundrum: upwards or upward? Toward or towards?

Or does it even matter?

Why Multitasking is Killing Your Writing

Why Multitasking is Killing Your Writing

Many writers I know are overwhelmed and struggle to focus on writing anything. Do I research? Get a draft down? Should I be blogging? Do I need to get a business license? What about social media? What’s for dinner? (Sorry, my kids added that one).

A few years ago, I learned a technique that helped me get a handle on my to do list, and freed me to prioritize my writing. Along with sneaking time to write, learning to write in batches has changed the way I work.

4 Speedy Strategies to Boost Your NaNoWriMo Word Count

4 Speedy Strategies to Boost Your NaNoWriMo Word Count

Happy prep-tober! If you’re as excited for NaNoWriMo as I am, October is probably pretty busy for you. Now is the time to start printing your novel worksheets, introducing yourself on the NaNo forums, and scheduling time to write.

But NaNoWriMo isn’t always stress-free. Attempting to write 50k in a month is hard work. Luckily, I’m here with four tips to boost your word count.

How to Choose a Color for Your Book Cover Design

How to Choose a Color for Your Book Cover Design

No matter how much the adage “Don’t judge a book by its cover” is trotted out, we all do it. It’s in our nature to make quick assumptions about things, especially when we have literally millions of books to choose from. It’s easy to make quick judgements based on book cover design.

Think about walking through your local bookstore or perusing your library’s shelves. You’re looking at spines, and only spines, most of the time. Then one book stands out. You pull it from the shelf and give the cover a read.

Why did you choose that book, in particular? Most likely, the color stood out to you.

When to Use Ensure vs. Insure

When to Use Ensure vs. Insure

Here’s a problem I’ve encountered a lot: the confusion of ensure vs. insure. But wait, those two words are the same, right? Well . . . kind of, but not exactly.

Let’s un-muddle them, shall we?

Every time I hear the word “ensure,” I think of the high-protein flavored beverage that I will never drink. But we’re going to use this ingestible product to help you remember how to use ensure. Win-win (kind of).

Point of View Magic: How to Cast a Spell on Your Readers

Point of View Magic: How to Cast a Spell on Your Readers

What does it take to immerse your readers in your story so deeply that they forget they’re reading? Maybe, for a few hours, they’ll even believe your imaginary world is real.

One of the strongest tools in your arsenal is point of view. Here’s how to capture its magic so your readers get lost in your books.

How to Prepare for Writing a Book: 4 Steps

How to Prepare for Writing a Book: 4 Steps

You’ve been thinking about it for months, promising yourself that when it arrives you are finally going to knuckle down and get it done. You’ve been telling yourself all you need is the extra push; you just need a deadline because you work best under pressure. You need a race, something that will help you compete against yourself.

You’ve decided to finally write your book. The question is, how do you prepare for writing a book?

How to Get Story Ideas From Unexpected Headlines

How to Get Story Ideas From Unexpected Headlines

A few years ago, I read a startling headline in a back section of the Sunday newspaper. It said “Man Likely Padlocked Himself in Bag Found in Bathtub.” I blinked twice, sure I had misread something.

Even after I read the article, I still couldn’t believe it. I was grieved for his family and friends, but I couldn’t help but see the possibilities for inspiring fiction. I wondered how it could even be done?  As a claustrophobic, I wondered, why?

This situation and article were surely stranger than fiction, but it prompted so many questions. Turns out questions are at the heart of great fiction, and you can use headlines to develop ideas all day long. Here’s how to get story ideas from the strangest news headlines.

10 Obstacles to Writing a Book and How to Conquer Them

10 Obstacles to Writing a Book and How to Conquer Them

What does it take to write a book? What obstacles will you face along the way? And if you’re already writing a book, are the challenges you’re facing normal?

Writing a book can be a fulfilling and personally rewarding process, but I think it’s also important to be honest about the challenges you will face. That way, you can prepare ways to overcome those obstacles rather than allowing them to overcome you.

8 Bold Ways to Overcome Your Fear of Writing

8 Bold Ways to Overcome Your Fear of Writing

Writers face fear on a day-to-day basis. The self-doubt. The fear of failure. And, oh, the vulnerability.

Writing is hard enough with all the self-evaluation and doubt about your abilities. But then sharing your work with other people so they can critique or review it? CRINGE.

When you sink into that fear it debilitates you. If you let fear hold you back, you’re ensuring you never achieve your goals. You’ll never write that book and you’ll never get published. All because you were too scared.

It’s time to stop letting fear control you and get writing.

How to Find Time to Write When You’re a Parent

How to Find Time to Write When You’re a Parent

You want to write. Your newest idea or draft has been sitting there for days, accumulating dust and regret.

You have to write.

But you also have a family. The kids need picked up, dinner needs cooking, and that living room isn’t cleaning itself. Your spouse has an event tonight (that you forgot you agreed to go to), and don’t forget the children need help with their ever-increasing load of homework.

How can you ever hope to write a book and be a parent at the same time?

Is it hopeless? Or is there a way to pull it off?

How to Handle Rejection: 4 Things NOT to Do and 3 Things to Do After You’re Rejected by a Publisher

How to Handle Rejection: 4 Things NOT to Do and 3 Things to Do After You’re Rejected by a Publisher

Rejection may be one of the hardest parts of writing. After pouring our lives into our manuscripts, it feels personal when someone tells our work isn’t good enough. Even if we know in our minds how to handle rejection, our hurt and disappointment can make us want to lash out.

Additionally, when we are submitting something the size of a novel, we are offering up something that represents years of our lives. To have it dismissed with a form email may make you question if you’ve been wasting your time.

When we are feeling rejected, we may be tempted to lash out. But that’s not a healthy way to process rejection. Here’s what to do (and what not to do) instead.

Vote for the Winner of the Fall Writing Contest

Vote for the Winner of the Fall Writing Contest

Last week, hundreds of writers submitted their stories to the Fall Writing Contest. Right now, our panel of judges is reading through each story, looking for the ones that will make it to the winners’ circle. And while they’re hard at work, I have an invitation for you, too.

I’m inviting you to step over to the judges’ side of the submission table. I’m inviting you to try reading like an editor and decide which story you would choose as the winner of the Fall Writing Contest.

The Editor: The Invisible Hero You Need in the Publishing World

The Editor: The Invisible Hero You Need in the Publishing World

A few months ago, I posted an article about avoiding clichés here on The Write Practice. The (bland) title I proposed was “How to Avoid Clichés.” The published title read: “How to Avoid Clichés (Like the Plague).” I grinned when I read it and said another thank you to a quiet hero of the publishing world: our editor.

She amped up the title with a clever twist that sounded just like me with my penchant for parentheses. Editors are invisible heroes in the publishing world, and knowing what they do can help you through every stage of your journey.

Flash Fiction: Mastering the Art of the Shortest Short Stories

Flash Fiction: Mastering the Art of the Shortest Short Stories

In the writing world, flash fiction is like an appetizer. These “short short” stories may be small and end quickly, but they can be so satisfying. The trick isn’t to treat them like a short version of a longer work, but rather as an art form all its own. That’s not to say it isn’t challenging to write, because it is, but there are several strategies you can use to help you perfect your work.

Characterization: How to Write a Eulogy to Get to Know a Character in Your Novel

Characterization: How to Write a Eulogy to Get to Know a Character in Your Novel

Every great novel has great characters. Great characterization includes a background, flaws, habits, tics, and redeeming qualities. The characters have a life.

There are plenty of ways to get inside your character’s head. You can journal from their point of view, write a character study, or fill out questionnaires about your character. Those methods are awesome but can seem impersonal or just plain tedious at times.

If you need a quicker, more succinct way of getting inside your character’s head, you might consider writing their eulogy.