Thursday, January 21, 2010

7 More Tips from Dawn Colclasure

Once again, I'm sharing a post from Beth Erickson at Filbert Publishing (

Here are seven more tips (and prompts) to ignite your writing this week from Dawn Colclasure's book 365 Tips for Writers

"Just like last time, here's how to do this: Print this article and tuck it in your journal. Now, each day this week, pull it out, read the instructions, get writing, and apply the information to your writing career. It's that simple. :)

"BEAT THE BLOCK TIP: Write about what matters to you.

"In one paragraph or on one page, write about what matters to you. Be sure to include the reason why this particular thing matters to you, even if the reason is as obvious as love or obligation. For example, you may write something like: “Reading books for leisure matters to me because it gives me a chance to relax.” Spend as much time as necessary on each one and feel free to include as many reasons as you can think of.

"Tip #15: Always ask, “What if?”

"We all know we’re not supposed to do certain things: Put our hand into the garbage disposal when it’s on, drive a car without insurance or take apart the vacuum cleaner. But writers are missing out on potential story ideas if they don’t ask, “What if?” What if we did put our hand into the garbage disposal when it was on? Aside from getting our hand torn into a million pieces, what else would happen?

"Also, take situations and ask “what if”” with them. What if a graduation ceremony had been cancelled because of a snowstorm? What if a couple facing divorce experience this pending distress for the first time? What if two people deeply in love never met? What if there really was a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow? Writers are naturally curious, constantly asking the who, what, where, when, why and how of everything. They should also ask “what if?” to explore a variety of new ideas because those new ideas mean new stories.

"Tip #16: Keep writing even if you get stuck.

"Creativity has a lifespan. The more distractions you allow to enter the picture while you are writing, the shorter that lifespan will be. When you are writing, you are easily pulled into the world of creativity. But when you stop writing because you’re not sure of something you wrote, this is just like taking the exit ramp back into the real world. From this point on, there will be too much traffic to easily get back into the world of creativity and you start wishing you never let that distraction kick you out in the first place. Of course we all want our writing to be accurate and perfect, but we can’t stop what we are doing just because we can’t remember a source’s name, the distance in kilometers or if that was what a person really said. Put a giant, red “X” in the margin next to where you get stuck then keep writing. Or you can try putting “FIX LATER” in capital letters in that space or use arrows. Just keep writing and go back to it later.

"Tip #17: Write first, edit later.

"When you sit down to write something new, the thing you want to do before you pick up your pen is shut your internal editor off. Give it a break, tell it to take a breather or lock the door to its room. Ignore any voices of criticism lurking in your mind as you write and just get everything down onto paper. This is your first draft. It’s not the copy you’re sending to an editor or client. This is where you experiment with different writing styles, get all of your thoughts onto paper and draw out a rough sketch of any characters. You can go back to it later for editing. For now, just let your creativity take over and write.

"Tip #18: Stuck in your writing? Read something similar.

"If you happen to get stuck in your writing, there are a number of solutions you can use to get un-stuck. Writers get stuck because they need information, can’t decide where to go next with their story, have an underdeveloped idea or characters, can’t remember the exact words of something they read or wrote, or they just can’t figure out what they are trying to say. If you write fiction, read other works of fiction similar to yours. If you’re writing a science fiction short story, read other short stories in that genre. If you are writing an article for a major magazine, read as many articles in that particular magazine as you can. You may get inspired as you read, realize just what it is your work is missing or get a better understanding of how their stories or articles are organized. This will help you to get writing again – and get back into the game.

"Tip #19: Consider joining a writing group.

"Writing groups are valuable to a writer. You get critiques by like-minded individuals, support for your endeavors, updates on what’s going on in the literary world, connections with other writers and a chance to read/hear what other writers are writing. An added bonus: They can be found anywhere, in your city and online. Some charge fees, others don’t. By joining a writing group, you’ll get a step closer to being a better writer because people in the group will give you the criticism you’ll need other than blatant comments like, “That story was dumb.” Or “don’t quit your day job.” Or “that was nice – hey, did you catch Fear Factor last night?” An added bonus is that a writing group can give you some company. The writing life can be a lonely one, and getting out to meet with other writers weekly or monthly makes the isolation less apparent.

"Tip #20: Finish what you start writing.

"Imagine picking up a book to read and getting caught up in its story. The plot is exciting, the reading is engaging, the characters are lovable and you just can’t put it down until you find out what happens in the end. Now imagine that there is no end; the writer couldn’t figure out how to end their story or they decided they wanted to go fishing instead. This is what it’s like for our readers when they read an unfinished story. A writer’s responsibility in telling a tale is to finish that tale. Give your readers the sense of satisfaction of reading your entire story from beginning to end. If you get stuck on how to finish it, work your way around this. If you get writer’s block, keep working at it, anyway. By finishing what you start writing, it shows your readers that you are in control over your writing and that you want to give them a great, completed story to read. It will also show your editors that you are a writer who can deliver.

"This has been an excerpt from 365 Tips for Writers. You can pick up all 365 (plus 52 bonus tips including “Beat the Block” tips) that's 52 pages of valuable information and instantly download it for under 15 smackers."


  1. Penny, thank you so much for posting more tips from my book! You are so wonderful to do this. I greatly appreciate it! I'm so glad you find the tips helpful.

    Take care!

    Best wishes,


  2. You're welcome, Dawn. It's great Beth is willing to share these with everyone.

  3. Some great advice here. Thanks for sharing these. I do love Tip#20 and I think it's one I need to remember more often.

  4. These are great. I'm going to print them as a reminder. Thanks, Penny and Dawn.


  5. Hi Cassandra, Tip #20 is one we all need to remember. #17 is the one I should focus on. I always re-read (and I admit do some editing) before I get back into my WIP.

  6. Bev, thanks for stopping by. I agree the tips Dawn has been sharing are worth saving as reminders.