Gain a FREE 'master class' in story writing success...
plus two free BIG 'how to' writing ideas manuals
Discover more than 70 professional tips to make your stories succeed like never before in this free 14-part Writers' Village mini-course.You will also receive two valuable gifts at once:

15 Wily Ways to Write Better Stories plus How to Win Writing Contests for Profit

To join the course without charge and acquire your two free books simply enter your name and email address:

The Wicked Writing Blog

Welcome to the home of writing award ideas and practical advice for story contest success. Fun and sheer tomfoolery are never far away. Feel free to add your comments. (To comment on a post, or see the comments there, simply click on its title.)


Five Simple Ways To Find More Hours To Write

January 30, 2015

"I don't have enough time to write!" Have you ever thought that? Chances are you'd have ample time if you could just simplify your life. In this guest post, 'decluttering' expert Brenda Spandrio gives us five ready-to-go ways to create more time in our lives and make our writing hours more productive.

Admit it…

Since you are a writer – a creative type – you consider yourself above such a prosaic idea as being organized. Most artists and authors consider keeping a neat and tidy workspace (electronic and physical) a waste of time. They are busy creating! The next great novel is begging to be written!

Who has time to file when there are worlds to create and conquer?

The reality is that you end up wasting more time not having routines in place. Simple systems can mean the difference between making progress on your novel and having to spend a day duplicating research on your story’s setting because you can’t find the file you saved (or thought you did).

While technology has made finding and storing information easier than ever, if you don’t have a routine for how, where (and why) you are saving items, you’ll waste a lot of time, energy and file space for stuff you never look at again.

These five tips will help you manage your digital information so that you can be less stressed and more productive with your writing projects.

1. Design your file naming protocols.

One of the most common filing mistakes is improper or inadequate naming. Thank goodness the days are gone when document names were limited to 8 characters (or aren’t you old enough to remember the Stone Age?).

And thank goodness for more robust search capabilities on the computer.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t create good habits. One of the first habits to establish is to develop your own file naming protocols.
Be clear: My own file name “fails” include: “InfoPubFreeReport,” “POST,” “Self” and “TS001090305.” Come back to them later and what do they mean?

When file names aren’t clear, you waste time opening random (but promisingly named) documents or scrolling through hundreds of files to find what you want. When you save a document, take the time to check that the File Name makes clear sense.

Trust me, a few weeks from now you will have no idea what you meant by “1_ConAcceptanceNotice1_i11.”

Be specific: Don’t just call files “DRAFT-1,” “DRAFT-2” and so forth. Be as specific as you can: “2015-01 Writer’s Village Guest Post-How to Organize Documents.” If you come up with a better title later, update the File Name accordingly.

Be consistent: Use the same file naming protocol for your low-tech notes, too! Whether you jot an idea on an index card or sticky note, write a page or two on your yellow pad, or maybe use an electric typewriter (they are making a come-back!) be sure to label it with your standard naming protocol.

That way when you scan or type your notes into the computer, you know right where they go.
2. Ask the right questions.

The reason you often fail in your efforts to keep things organized is that you are so concerned with “where” something “should” go that you ignore the other more important questions.

To help determine the best place to file your documents, start with asking:
  • What is this and which project is it associated with?
  • Is action required? If so, when?
  • When do I plan to use this next?
  • How often will I be referring to this?
Active files for your current projects should be kept handy, like on your Desktop. Items that you rarely use (such as archive or reference items) can be stored someplace else like My Documents or even in the cloud.

Other questions will help you decide if you can delete the file altogether:

  • Does this item have a specific purpose or use?
  • Is it difficult to obtain again? Or could Google find this for me easily?
  • What’s the worst thing that could happen if I don’t keep this?
3. Choose your tools wisely.

Evernote, OneNote, Ubernote, Dropbox, Trello, Google Drive, Scrivener… How many accounts do you have? How many do you actually use?

It’s easy to get carried away with all the new software and programs available that promise to help you be a more organized, productive writer. These tools are useful and they can help you, but only if you take the time to learn the best way to use them. Otherwise, they just become another place to dump stuff that you eventually forget about.

Consider focusing on just one or two of these programs for the next three months, scheduling time to learn the different features. That way you can determine if a particular tool really does work for you.

4. Act as though your systems are in place.

I don’t believe in getting organized. Surprised? I know that sounds weird coming from an organizing consultant, but most of the time it’s just a way to procrastinate.

However, I do advocate being organized – and there is a difference.

You can be organized right now by acting as though your new systems are already in place. That means that for every new document you create or download, you file it according to your new – better – system so that you can be sure to find what you need when you need it.

It also means that you don’t have to spend several hours (or days) cleaning up your old files. Instead, every time you use a document, take a moment to rename it according to your new file naming protocol and make sure it is filed in the correct folder or program.

5. Plan time to declutter and organize.

Acting as though your systems are in place is going to keep new digital clutter from occurring, but you still need to have a plan to deal with the backlog of old files so that your computer runs better – and so that you can find that long-lost masterpiece that you started a couple of years ago.

Schedule 15 minutes, 3-5 days a week to go through your files, deleting those you don’t need and renaming the ones that are still usable.

You might start with your Desktop. Or you could begin with My Documents. What matters is developing a consistent routine so that you can get through them all eventually.

When you declutter and organize your electronic workspace and adopt simple routines, you’ll soon find that the steps you take to maintain order will become habit. Doing this will reduce your stress levels, make your writing time more productive, make your life more enjoyable.

And give you more time to write!

What tips have you found useful for decluttering your life? For organizing your digital files? And for finding more time to write? Share your ideas with us in the comments below. Every comment is guaranteed a fast, helpful reply!

Brenda Spandrio
works via Skype or phone with both residential and small business clients. Not only does she help you tackle the clutter, she works through your time and paper management issues; space planning; filing system creation; financial management; setting up a home office and more. More importantly, she uncovers the unconscious thoughts and behaviors that challenge your ability to create and maintain order.

Check out The Declutter Lady blog, download the "Quick and Easy Guide to Clearing the Clutter" and schedule a free 30 minute session!

Eight steps to building a fictional world that works

January 23, 2015

Every fiction writer creates an 'alternative universe' but how do you set about creating an 'alternative history' where everything in your story must be plausible and consistent - yet dramatically different from the reality we know? In this guest post, acclaimed novelist Alison Morton outlines eight key steps to building an alternative world that engages the reader - and that works.

Armed with a history masters’ degree, and a life-long devotion to and fascination with all things Roman, ...

Continue reading...

Six Top Ways To Find Your Perfect Writing Mentor

January 17, 2015

Would you like to sharpen your writing skill set? Maybe you’re ready to make more money from your work? Or maybe there’s a part of you that wonders just how far you could go with the right guidance?

But how can you
find the expert help you need? In this practical guest post, writing coach Leanne Regalla shows us six tested ways.

Many writers offer coaching services and programs, of course, and it’s exciting to work with and learn from someone you admire. You probably know how benefi...

Continue reading...

5 Steps to Create Personal Branding Every Author Should Know

January 2, 2015

So, you like to tell stories. Watching your characters come to life, filling page after page with their dialogue and their antics is your deep pleasure and personal passion. You are a novelist.

But what about your
own story? Have you created a distinct character for YOU? In this guest post, writer and personal branding expert Mia Sherwood Landau offers five practical ways you can brand yourself to boost your writing success.

Your story? It’s the story of YOU.

Carefully crafting your persona...

Continue reading...

Three Ways To Close Your Stories With Panache - And Win Awards!

December 27, 2014

“Did I tell you about the time I killed my wife and ran off to Paris with my mistress?”

How often do we read stories that open with impact but close with a whimper, like those of a pub bore? ‘Of course, I didn’t kill her. Really. But I was tempted...’ Yawn.

An analysis of nearly 5000 stories entered in the Writers’ Village short fiction contest across five years reveal that 27% were marked down because they closed badly or not at all.
  • They started with a bang, a mystery or an...

Continue reading...

How I Created A Totally New Book Genre - And You Can Too

December 11, 2014

How do you create an entirely new ‘novel’ of a kind that has never been seen before? One that’s so new that Amazon has no category for it? And that literary agents run away from, howling?

But that’s potentially more profitable than any other work of fiction?

The last author who did that was Miguel Cervantes when he wrote Don Quixote and pioneered the novel genre
in 1605.

But I had to do it.

I couldn't let Cervantes upstage me, could I?

For three years, I’d been running a coaching pr...

Continue reading...

A Little-Known Way To Be Paid While You Write

December 5, 2014

Here’s a wicked way to be paid while you write - and to fund your next book or writing project before you even start it. Few debut authors have stumbled upon this clever idea but it offers great potential for anyone who needs to pay the rent while fumbling to complete their work.

Even if that’s
not you, please read on. There might be more profit opportunities in your writing than you thought…

We’re being got at!

The latest James Bond thriller, The Vanishing Game - a 17,000-word nov...

Continue reading...
Win valuable cash prizes for your story in the Writers' Village short fiction contest

Details here.

If you're on Goodreads...
please befriend us. Just click here then click 'Add as a friend'. I promise you a wondrous reply!

Like to Guest Post for us?

Please read these guidelines.

To share any post here
click on the post title then click on one of the icons below.
(A Tip: you'll find a lot of social networks under the Red Cross.)

Recent Posts


a s byatt adwords agatha christie agents amazon article marketing bad writing bad writing award best sellers best-sellers body language book pricing book titles booker prize branding censorship characterisation characterization clichés closure competitions contests copy editor programs covers creative writing creativity crime critiques dan brown de detective dialogue dialogue adverb abuse distraction earl ebook ebooks editing facebook fantasy fear of failure fiction fictorial flash frauds freelancing ghost writers grammar guest posting harpercollins hilary mantel historical fiction historical romance how to win humor humour indie publishers inspiration insults j k rowling jewish jokes kindle language libel ma creative writing man booker marketing metaphor mfa creative writing michael winner mills and boon motivation mummy porn mystery names narrative new college of the humanities novel writing of openers organization pace paypal phone tapping plausibility plot plotting point point of view political correctness prologues promotion publishers publishing punctuation rebekah brooks reichs rejection research revision romance scene hangers sci-fi science fiction self self publishing setting shakespeare social networks sponsorship story ideas structure student strike style subtext suspense synopses theme titles umberto eco university holidays university strike vere view voice wikileaks wolf hall writers block writing award writing courses writing errors writing motivation writing programs writing rules

John Yeoman

Dr John Yeoman, MA Oxon, MPhil, PhD Creative Writing, FSRS*  is a UK university tutor in the short story. He has 42 years experience as a successful commercial writer, newspaper editor and one-time chairman of a major PR consultancy.

He has published innumerable works of humour, some intended to be humorous.

* Founder, the Society for the Rehabilitation of the Semi-colon