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Did I somehow sleep through March and April and wake up to find it's summer? It seems that way. This week had a few days that made playing hooky more than a little tempting. I didn't, but I'll admit the sunshine was beaconing. But I'm sure all of you were good wordsmiths and had a productive week. And since we've all behaved, this week's link love is focusing on one of my favorite topics. Fiction. So all of the articles focus on either writing or publishing fiction.

Fiction Writing
How to Finish Your When You Want to Quit: Writing fiction can be be a long, thankless process at times, one you really have to love. This post at The Write Practice should offer you the encouragement you need to get through those final chapters and finish that project.

7 Things That Can Stop Your Novel Dead: If the last article offers encouragement to finish a novel, this post at Writer Tank's blog discusses some things that get in the way. For me, over working is a big part of my problem. But ultimately, what stands between writers and their dreams? I think we all know the answer.

Setting the Scene: Weather: Don't you hate when people go on about the weather? Seriously though, Tegan Beechey makes some wonderful points about using weather to set your scene, including how it can be used to capture emotion. And for those of you who have doubts about weather playing a key role in a story, I suggest you read Jack London's “To Build a Fire.”

Publishing
Standing out from the Crowd—A Reader's View on Indy Published Books by Suzanne Rock: If you plan on self-publishing a book, be sure to have a look at this post and some of the others on the Savvy Authors blog, as there is a wealth of information there from authors with different expertise. But this post discusses making your novel stand out among the many titles vying for attention.

So what are your favorite fiction writing blogs? And if you maintain one, by all means share it.

 
 
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Valentine's Day is upon us, but don't worry. I won't taunt you about whether or not you bought your beloved a gift. But with tomorrow being a day to celebrate love or, more specifically, those we love, now seems to be an appropriate time to reflect on the reasons we started writing in the first place—our passion to write. Many of us, freelancers especially, tend to get wrapped up in the financial aspect of our work and lose sight of those days when we were brimming with enthusiasm for the written word.

So whether you're creating client copy or selling novels and/or short stories, take some time to remember that first love. And while you can, and should, profit from your work, the following will help keep you from losing that love for writing.

1. Write for fun.
Yes, writing should be fun for you. If it isn't, why are you doing it? I spend a great deal of time helping others with their writing, but I always look forward to that time I have set aside to write these blog posts—because I enjoy doing it, as I also love my personal writing time.

But if you spend a great deal of time creating copy for others, set aside some personal writing time: a private journal, a personal blog, a poetry journal, fiction. Give yourself time to “play” as a writer.

2. Stop looking for perfection.
If you're waiting for the perfect time to write that book, launch a niche blog, or submit that short story, it will never come. Now is the right time. And most importantly, when you're working on a first draft, turn off your inner editor. The rough draft will never be perfect, ever. It's just the first part of the journey to your masterpiece.

3. Take small steps.
As I said in my discussion of writing goals, divide the project up into smaller elements. Plan to write 500 words a day or set a time limit. You want to look forward to returning to it, rather than overwhelming yourself to the point where you dread it.

4. Believe.
I don't mean believing in a religious sense, although you're welcome to do that if you think it will help. But what I mean is trust in your abilities. Believe in yourself. Believe in your writing and what you are looking to achieve with it. You do not need anyone else's approval as validation. After all, this is what you love.

So do you write for love, profit, or perhaps both? What keeps you going when that passion you started with seems to be a distant memory?


 
 
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Have you ever noticed that there never seems to be enough time? If you don't have a list of calls to make or clients to follow up with, you are probably behind on that pile of laundry or have a pile of unwashed dishes awaiting your attention. And worst of all, you have no time to write. I will admit that while I can make time to write an article or a critique for a client manuscript,when things get busy, my creative writing suffers severe neglect.

So what's a writer to do? With all the demands of building a career, maintaining a household, and caring for a family, how does one find the time for creative pursuits?

First of all, you need to admit that you will never have enough time to do all of the things that you want to do. If writing is your passion, you have to make it a priority. And while you can't “manage time” in the strictest sense, you can manage your use of it.

1. Look at how you are using your time. If you are not sure where in your day time is being wasted, keep a log of how you spend an average day or week. How much time are you spending on Facebook or Twitter? Can you cut back on how much television you watch? Are these things you need to be doing, or are you procrastinating? If you truly are busy, consider getting up earlier. If you don't write well in the morning, you can finish some other chores in the morning and write at time that's better for you.

2. Plan as much of your time as possible. Make lists—weekly lists, monthly lists, daily lists. Think on paper. If you don't write it down, it will probably fall by the wayside if something else comes up. Whether you use a pen and paper, a smart phone, or an electronic tablet, record all of your tasks, preferably in the order of their importance. Add writing to your list. Whether you choose to write daily or on certain days during the week, schedule writing as a priority.

3. Can you delegate? This is especially true for household responsibilities. If you are married or live with a significant other, perhaps you can ask your loved one to take on a few more of the household chores to leave you with time to write.

4. Break up longer projects into smaller chunks. This may seem obvious, but writing a 100,000 word novel can seem overwhelming when you are starting out. As I said in my post about writing goals, set a long-term goal and short-term ones for bigger projects. Plan to write 300 or 500 words a day, depending on what your schedule allows.

5. Once you've set the schedule, sit down and write. Whether you've planned to write an article, short story, or 500 words for a novel, you need to take that time you set aside and write. There really is no replacement for this part. Sit down and don't get up until you're finished.

Yes, this is a challenge, but if you want to achieve your writing goals, planning your writing time and keeping the schedule is the best way to assure success. Trust me. I understand how easy it is to get overwhelmed during busy times, to become immersed in a distraction, or to make excuses. But don't let it happen to you.

So what are you waiting for? You should be writing already.