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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 Steps To Writing Faster With More Fun

January 22, 2016

Is writing hard work? Yes. Is there a simple remedy for the pain of writing? Yes! How come? Our real pain as authors is not that of writing – but of managing our writing. Once we master that, the words just flow.

Or so story coach Renee Vaughn maintains. She offers us five proven ways to write more prolifically, with less pain, and put the fun back into our lives.

How many times have you heard that writing is hard work?  If you Google it, you will get over 89 million hits. 

Every great author has a quote letting us know just how much they suffered over their book. Many talk about the sacrifices they’ve made for their craft.

Suffer we must, for we do what we love and what we love is difficult beyond measure!

Fellow writers, I feel your pain.

It is hard to capture a sunset or describe the emotions of another being without using adverbs. Or adjectives. Or complicated syntax. (All of which, we're told, are sinful nowadays.) Even punctuation is torture but it's a holiday compared to writing our first draft.  And what about computer failure?

Or the hours spent staring at a blank page!

Dear God, what we go through to do what we love! It’s such HARD work. (We cry...)

Poppycock. This is hard work.

What we do isn’t actually hard. 

It is even easier now that we have word processors. All we are doing is thinking, moving our fingers and probably sitting for too long. We might suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome, headaches and sore backs . We might be in danger of developing a dowager’s hump.  Emotionally, we might struggle with some deep psychological wounds, fear of rejection and nasty inner voices.

It is scary to put one’s work out there.  There’s no doubt that writing and sharing our work can stretch our comfort zones. But it isn’t really hard work.

The truth is that writing is (really) fun.

I don’t understand why we need to perpetuate the belief that writing is hard work.

Saying “I’m writing and it's hard work” is a great way to get someone off our back. Is that why we say it?

Or maybe it's because writing - hard - gives us status. Finishing a book puts us in the World Cup. Actually making money from our work is an Olympian feat.

If we are successful we can tell our fans: “Well, I worked hard to get here”. (The truth is, we'll probably feel as lucky as a lotto winner and haven’t the foggiest idea how we did it.)

What would happen if we stopped saying that writing was hard work?

Would it become easier to sit down and pound out 1000 words?  Yes.

Would we spend as much time procrastinating? No.

And here's how I know...

I'm a story coach and a darn good one. But - I confess it -
I was once time-management challenged and had difficulty staying focused. I’ve even avoided finishing a few novels because it meant hard work.
Then last year I had a 'Road to Damascus' moment. I discovered that writing itself is not work. Developing good work habits is.

Here are the five steps I took to make my writing habit more pleasurable and effective.

They worked for me. Why not give them a try?

1. Set a goal that is totally beneath you and do it for seven days.

My start-up goal was 50 words a day. The first night I plugged out 4,000. The next I watched a movie after pasting a prompt onto a document. That was 50 words. It counted. The third night I wrote 200 words.

Four days later I was writing 1000 words as easy as breathing, without even being conscious that I had developed the habit.

Seven days isn’t very long. You can quit, or change the amount or the time or whatever after seven days. Having an end in sight makes it easier on the brain. (Brains hate change.)

Set your goals low. And you will exceed them. Make it easy and you'll do it.

2. Pay close attention to what actions - or aspects of your environment - trigger you into action.

Give me a topic or a focus and I’ll write. Have me copy edit a piece and I’ll write even more.  Knowing I can send it to my mom for a favorable review, no matter what, makes me write like a thing possessed.

What makes you write? Find it and use it.

3. Expect to fall back into bad habits after doing this for three weeks.

Don’t be surprised if your family has a crisis, your computer pulls a virus, the dog runs off or the boss gives you more work.

After twenty-one days you have essentially changed your paradigm and as a result the world around you will have to change to adjust to your new pattern.

But no one likes it when you rock the boat. It means they’ll have to change too. And unless your family are in with your program, your program will fail.

Get a support structure in place.

4. Every three weeks, reassess your goal, adjust to external circumstances and keep at it.

Just because you meet resistance doesn’t mean you should quit. It just means you need to update your plan.

After three weeks of writing, I discovered that my partner missed me and as a result did her unintentional best to distract me. As a compromise I shifted my writing space so we are in the same room.

Now she surfs the net while I drag my subconscious for a plot. 

Don't let your life keep you from writing.
Make your writing fit into your life.

5. Set a three month goal and think no further.

No one can really plan a year ahead. 

We’d like to believe we can predict the future but, in my experience, the future has never once consulted me on my preferences.

Things happen. Goals change. Needs vary. Life is fluid.  Still, we need to have something to work towards or it all seems meaningless.  Three months is just far ahead enough to believe in but not so far as to tempt the fates to throw a monkey in your soup.
Better yet, your goal is more likely to happen if it’s just down the road. Shall we say three months?

APRIL 23, 2016

Or whatever date is ninety days from now as you read this?

Set your goal for just three months. Say "I will develop the writing habit in that time". And you will.

Care to join me in committing to a writing goal for your next three months? Like to gain a free critique of your work? Contact me through my website

One click is all it takes. Is that hard work? No, it's fun. And fun is what our writing should be all about!

Do you have any tips to pass on to your fellow writers for managing your writing life? Or for getting more work done, with more fun? Please leave a comment below. Renee guarantees everyone a fast, helpful reply.

Renee Vaughn is a certified writing and relationship coach, freelance editor and educator.  She writes short stories and is working on three novels. She lives and teaches writing workshops on a 100 acre farm in the Hudson Valley, NY. Renee's claim to fame is her ability to act like she is an expert on anything which is why she decided to become a writer.

Gain a free expert critique of a passage from your story, or a free ½ hour creativity coaching session, at Renee’s blog:

Is this 'breakthrough' writing idea the future of fiction?

January 15, 2016

Have you ever read a great story but wished you could rewrite it? Suppose Pip had cried “To Hades with that witch Estella!”? And bunked off to Australia? Or Lizzie Bennet had whispered to her mirror “I'm tired of these mating rituals. I'll get me to a nunnery. Damn me if I won't!”

And both had?

We'd have read entirely different novels. They might even have been better, given the genius of their authors.

Until recently, that notion was absurd. “What, let the reader write the story?...

Continue reading...

Who killed Jeff Bezos?

January 8, 2016

Solve this 'locked room' mystery – and win a prize!

How good are you at crafting stories with a twist, the kind that makes your reader gasp? Or in following up clues in a detective tale to spot the culprit before the detective does?

You can find out in my New Year mystery challenge here.

Imagine that Jeff Bezos, the  popular CEO of Amazon, has been killed in a locked room. Impossible! No person in the world wished him harm. Did they? Nor could they have entered or left the room.

So how...

Continue reading...

This Simple 3-Step Plan Gives You Plot Ideas Galore

December 11, 2015

Would you like to be able to find stories everywhere? So you’re never short of plot ideas? Just take a moment and I’ll show you.

A moment? Yes. Look around you and observe. Can you hear anyone speaking? Is anything happening? What’s in the newspaper, book or mobile device beside you, right now?

There are your stories, ready to hand.

Overheard dialogue, trivial incidents, and media reports...

Here's how I gained a plot idea that way two weeks ago.

I read a humorous article in The Time...

Continue reading...

Try This New Writing Strategy To Refresh Your Stories – And Your Life

November 27, 2015

Here's the latest craze for teenagers tired of playing World of Warcraft – a pet snail! You keep it in a dinky little plastic dome and feed it with a choice array of salad leaves harvested from the trash bin of a supermarket.

You clean its cage each day. And talk to it.

UK gardener Bob Flowerdew even devised a snail composting bin. Place a dozen common snails in a perforated bin along with kitchen waste and – lo! - within a week you'll have compost. Just keep the lid on tight or (h...

Continue reading...

How (Not) To Scandalize Your Readers

November 20, 2015

Here's a new way to create strife between nations. How? By failing to understand that – although our readers might speak English – they interpret it in utterly different ways.

Get your language wrong and you risk losing potential buyers of your books.

How can you get your language right? And win future sales? Here's how...

'You like tomato and I like tomahto.'

We know what we mean when we write a story but how does our language sound to our readers, particularly those in other countries...

Continue reading...

Play Your Way to Writing Success

November 13, 2015
Does writing have to be work? No. Like to have fun? Yes! Enjoy this feisty guest post by Renee Vaughn, a writing coach who likes to have fun.

Average. Is there a worse word in the universe? Oh, I know one word: “newbie”.  How about “amateur”? Oh yes, here’s the absolute killer word - “wannabe.”

Carob is wannabe chocolate. Right? Who wants to be carob?

Are you a wannabe writer wondering how to get into the ranks of “Real Writers”? 

Of course, you are.

Otherwise you’d be ou...

Continue reading...
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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