imposter syndrome writing

Imposter Syndrome for Writers: How to Overcome it For Good

Imposter syndrome for writers is normal. It happens.

Writing isn’t without its challenges. Like any creative endeavor, there are roadblocks that sometimes obscure the path from your original idea to its final creation.

But I’m not talking about writer’s block.

I’m talking about its sneaky sibling: imposter syndrome.

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Here’s how to overcome imposter syndrome for writers:

  1. Analyze your imposter syndrome
  2. Learn what it really is deep down
  3. Uncover if you even have imposter syndrome
  4. Learn how it impacts your work
  5. Force yourself to keep writing
  6. Create balance to get over imposter syndrome
  7. Create balance in your feedback
  8. Interview other writers
  9. Realize everyone is different
  10. Realize that everyone starts somewhere
  11. Final tips to get over imposter syndrome

Analyzing Imposter Syndrome

When you think of the phrase “imposter syndrome,” what comes to mind?

A shadowy figure dressed in mustache and sunglasses? A copy cat watching your every move?

Though imposter syndrome isn’t that insidious, it can still wreak havoc on your work. 

Fortunately, by following the tips outlined in this post, you’ll be able to identify your imposter syndrome and kick it to the curb!

What Is Imposter Syndrome?

Imposter syndrome for writers is when you compare yourself to other writers to the extent that you question your own ability in writing. Imposter syndrome can apply to any creative field, but is prevalent for writers.

On the most basic level, imposter syndrome results in doubting your work. At a severe level, it results in a refusal to engage creatively.

What do I mean by “a refusal to engage creatively”? 

Fearful of being inadequate, you don’t reach for your pen to jot down that amazing story idea. Distracted by other writers, you leave your page blank. Though you have great concepts, you don’t show them to anyone because you’re afraid you’re not good enough. 

But you can overcome this self-doubt. Why? Because you are good enough.

Do I Have Imposter Syndrome?

Bookstores are usually a writer’s paradise. Home to a wonderful collection of different authors and book genres, it’s usually any writer’s dream to display their own work on the shelves.

But to someone with imposter syndrome, this place is a hotbed for competition. If you have imposter syndrome, you might feel the urge to instantly compare yourself to every book you come across. You might start thinking thoughts like: Their idea is so cool! Why can’t I come up with that? There are already so many successful authors…I can’t hope to be one.

Imposter syndrome might affect your writing itself. 

Writing workshops are great opportunities to gather feedback and make your work stronger. But someone with imposter syndrome might freeze up when it comes time to share their work. 

If you have imposter syndrome, you might start picking your piece apart, embarrassed to utter a single sentence.

Good news! With our writing tips, you’ll gain confidence in your writing ability. 

How Can Imposter Syndrome Impact My Work?

When someone has imposter syndrome, it’s not just the author who suffers…it’s their work. Imposter syndrome can snuff out someone’s will to write, that key energy that pushes anyone to even start typing in the first place. 

Imposter syndrome is a state of mind. 

You’ll start questioning everything you put to paper; you’ll question the good reviews you get on your work and instead focus on the bad.

That sort of mindset tramples the creative process.

But you can quiet self-doubt and endless comparisons today. 

Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

If you have imposter syndrome, you’re not without luck. 

Here are just a few of many tips and strategies you can employ to hop back on that writing saddle.

#1 – Force yourself to write

This might be the greatest hurdle to overcome. But the first step in overcoming any writing issue is by taking to the page.

Start simple—you don’t have to write a memoir of 200 pages just yet. If you can’t think of any imaginative ideas or writing prompts, write about something that relates to you, like your morning commute.

If pressure forces you to write, add a timer. Hop onto Google and search for a stopwatch, or go the old-fashioned route and grab your own. Scribble down a few basic themes or ideas, set that timer for five minutes, and start writing!

This tip is professor-proofed. 

I was first exposed to this tip in one of my college classes last semester. Engaging in it truly helped me shed my imposter syndrome.

Taking to the whiteboard, the teacher wrote a handful of basic words. Robot. July. Clouds. Balloon. It seemed silly, but this exercise helped the entire class.

Instead of being scared to read their work aloud, everyone was eager to share what they wrote. To my shock, I was too!

The goal isn’t to use every single theme you wrote down. If you do, that’s terrific! The main goal of this challenge is putting yourself back into a writing mindset. 

Challenging yourself through creative writing is just one of many ways to diminish your imposter syndrome.

Up for taking this challenge with others? Make it a party and grab some friends. Instead of focusing on who wrote the “best” story, though, try celebrating the simple fact that you’re all making something creative. 

The more you spend thinking of ideas and diving back into your writing, the less you’ll think of other people’s opinions.

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#2 – Create balance in your life

A stressed mind creates stressful scenarios. Look for what is lacking in your schedule—or what’s eating it up. Are you getting an adequate amount of sleep each night? Is your work environment clashing with your mental health? If you’re tense, try deep-breathing exercises, meditation, or yoga.

Here’s a great table on creating your writing environment:

How to Start Writing TipExecution
Minimize Distractions
- isolate yourself from family/friends/even the family dog
- remind everyone it's YOUR time
- Turn your phone off
- Close ALL web browsers
- Close your email
Get Comfortable- invest in a GOOD chair
- or resort to using a stand-up desk for more energy
- fill the area with motivational quotes
- make sure you're physically comfortable for the next 30 minutes or an hour
Choose Beneficial Background Noise- turn off all sounds if it distracts you
- turn on lyric-less music to help you concentrate
- choose energizing music to help you focus

If schedules rule your day, pencil in some time to write. Follow rule #1 and take advantage of gaps in your day. Scribble some sentences while you’re munching during your lunch break, or make a habit of journaling before bed. 

Not only will this help you make long-term progress, but it’ll also help you fall into a writing routine.

Visit this post on how you can create your perfect writing space

However, you normally gather your ideas, make sure you’re actually jotting them down. Nothing hurts more than thinking of your next great story idea and forgetting it because you didn’t have it on paper.

The easier you make it for you to find your character bios or world maps, the less stress you’ll be putting on yourself when it comes time to write.

The more you declutter your mind, the more room you’ll have to start focusing on your work.

#3 – Create balance in your feedback

It’s no secret that if you want to grow as a writer, you have to accept feedback. For someone with imposter syndrome, though, accepting negative feedback is especially difficult. The solution?

Realize that feedback is supposed to enhance your work. Instead of attaching yourself to the feedback, remain subjective. 

The joy of being an author and sharing our work with the world is that we come across various viewpoints. Some might agree with us, and others might not. And that’s okay! You can decide when and how you want to respond to reviews.

Feedback like this is not worth your time:

“You just don’t know how to write a book. I hated reading this!”

For starters, this type of feedback is rude. More importantly, feedback like this doesn’t offer any suggestions or justifications. You can toss “feedback” of this sort out the window. Instead, look for feedback partners who will lift you up.

An example of proper feedback:

“I really liked the tone of this piece. It was consistent and locked me in. Yet, I’m not sure if your main character’s actions are justifiable. I didn’t see any character development in this chapter and I think adding that would help.”

Positive, constructive feedback creates balance. 

As an author, positive feedback lets you know what you did well and what you need to improve on. Creating this balanced feedback opens up an honest and respectful dialogue between writing partners.

Cultivating these conversations helps eliminate imposter syndrome.

#4 – Interview other writers

No one is immune to self-doubt. But one way to start squashing that feeling is by interviewing authors.

Here are a few sample questions you might ask:

  • Have you ever faced imposter syndrome?
  • Are you still battling imposter syndrome?
  • What tips have you used to overcome your imposter syndrome? 
  • What are your favorite writing exercises?
  • What are your favorite inspirational quotes? 
  • What book serves as your inspiration?
  • What is the best feedback you have ever received?
  • What is the worst feedback you have ever received? 
  • How do you overcome negative feedback?
  • What might you say to your younger writing self? 
  • What is your biggest writing achievement?
  • What are your writing goals?

If they are not finished with the journey of overcoming imposter syndrome, you can help each other. Try tip number one and get lost in the sample writing activity togetheror create your own!

By engaging with other writers, you’ll start realizing that most of them have the same concerns you do. You’ll realize that writing is a personal—and community-filled—journey. While we might feel excluded in our writing dens, bent over the keys, nothing is more welcoming than knowing we’re not alone. 

#5 – Realize every story and writer is different

Your western murder mystery is probably very different than someone else’s comedy road trip novella. 

It makes sense that comparing those two ideas is rather difficult. Even at the surface, it’s rather hard to come up with like-minded ideas. Gunslingers and modern-day travel sagas don’t exactly share too many similarities.

But, what if you did? Finding common ground in another work shouldn’t spell the end to your writing career.

Let Stanley Kubrick’s words be of inspiration to you:

Everything has already been done. Every story has been told…it’s our job to do it one better.”

Take it upon yourself to add your creative twist to your work. 

When those comparison-laden thoughts surface, realize that every writer brings something different to the keyboard. 

#6 – Everyone starts somewhere

If you’re anything like me, you didn’t pick up writing skillsets overnight. Instead, it’s been a long journey from the day you first started scribbling on paper to where you are at now.

I’ve learned my biggest lessons from myself. I’ve kept going through successes and failures— just like that time I tried to write a novel at age 13. 

Instead of comparing yourself to others, compare yourself to…yourself. Think about how long you’ve been writing. If you’ve been writing since elementary school, it’s likely your younger self would be in awe about what you’ve written throughout the years. 

Picturing that little kid smiling over your skills might be enough motivation to keep going.

Even if you just picked up the creative pen last week, every day is a new experience. Every sentence written is a new notch of knowledge added to your belt. Root for yourself.

Final Tips for Getting Over Imposter Syndrome for Writers

If following numerous tasks stresses you out, nothing says you have to follow all of these pointers at once. Try them out of order, mix them around. If you would rather find a writing community first, then start working on how to balance your feedback, that’s perfectly fine. 

Conversely, if you like following guides step-by-step, give it a shot!

Is goal-setting your calling? Try marking on your calendar when you would like to erase your imposter syndrome. Sometimes, having a feasible end date serves as great motivation. 

Regardless, by following these steps, you’ll start living the inverse of imposter-ridden scenarios.

Stepping into a bookstore, you’ll feel energized looking at the latest best-sellers and fresh faces on the shelves. You might even picture your work standing proudly amongst them.

Heading to your next writer’s conference, you come prepared. You’re happy to gather feedback on your work and even happier to share your piece aloud. 

You don’t compare yourself to the big leagues or your writing partner. You see other writers as writing allies, no matter if they’re writing about a space opera and you’re writing about an romance saga in Venice. 

Most importantly…You realize how imperative it is to foster a healthy community of writers—and you’re ecstatic being a part of one.

fantasy world building

Fantasy World Building: How to World Build for Your Fantasy Novel

You have dreamed about this—this world which is different from ours and actually worldbuilding for fantasy in general.

It’s interesting, it’s riveting…

Now you want to share this world that has been created in your head with the world. 

It’s not easy to write and writing a book which is completely or mostly imaginary is even harder. How do you even start?

Maybe you have your world figured out but don’t know anything about your characters, about the plot, the conflict, the resolution, nothing. You just have the magic and fantastical element figured out but don’t know how to convert that into a story idea you’re proud of.

Well that’s the fun in being a writer. Now let’s sit down and figure this out!

Here are our tips for fantasy world building:

  1. Understand what makes a book fantasy
  2. Get started on your fantasy book
  3. Worldbuilding a fictional world
  4. Time in world building
  5. Worldbuilding location
  6. Worldbuilding laws and governments
  7. People in world building
  8. Worldbuilding history
  9. How to build a society
  10. Worldbuilding religion
  11. Magic systems
  12. Creating an economy
  13. Worldbuilding daily life

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What is a fantasy novel?

While many book genres exist, nothing sweeps you off of your feet (or your bed, if you read before turning in for the night), than a well thought out, captivating, and magical fantasy book.

The only thing absorbing you in other fiction books that take place in our reality is the plot and main characters. But in fantasy, you get the IMAX experience – characters, plots, and a gripping fantastical world. 

Who doesn’t want to escape and read about wizards and warlocks, vampires and werewolves, hobbits and fairies, ghosts and zombies, witches and aliens, magical creatures and monsters, and of course, superheroes and villains?

Fantasy novels immerse the readers into that curated world and take them along the journey. 

Like almost every book-reader in the world, a series which I grew up with is Harry Potter. Of course Harry, Ron, Hermione, and all the other characters are incredibly well-written that have you coming back for more, but one of the things that have to this date gripped audiences is the world of Witchcraft and Wizardry – Hogwarts, Ministry of Magic, how wizards operate on a day-to-day basis, Quidditch, and much more.

I mean, to this day you have Harry Potter fans visiting King’s Cross station to see platform 9 ¾.

That’s the power of good world-building. Years after your book has published, you still have your audience feeling home-sick for that world. 

How Do I Get Started on My Fantasy Novel?

You have an active imagination, you have an idea of your fantasy world, and now it’s finally time for you to start writing your book. 

After some time procrastinating on Instagram, you finally sit down to write but aren’t sure how to start explaining your fantasy world. Or you suddenly realized a loophole or fault in that world. 

Don’t worry. Creating a fantasy world which is believable and loved by your readers is possible! If you’re also coming short on ideas, try searching through these writing prompts.

Before you start your story, getting a cup of coffee, and getting your laptop out to start writing, you need to do one important step: Plan and draw it all out in a comprehensive outline!

Before doing anything else, it is important for you to sit down and plan your world. Do your book research.

Why do you think a lot of fantasy books have a map and/or symbols drawn on the front of the book? It’s not just for the author’s own organization; it also gives the readers an understanding of the physicality of the world.

If any point in the story, a reader is lost in the imagery and needs clarification, they can just turn back to the map and clear their doubts.

Step 1 for Starting to World Building Fantasy:

Start by drawing your landscape, your characters (especially if they’re not human-like), any symbols, weapons, buildings, and other imagery.

Focus and write out the world’s culture, people, history, weather, food, traditions, societal norms, religion, and other elements you learn about in this post.

Step 2 for Starting to World Building Fantasy:

The devil is in the details. Sit down and dash it all down along with a ton of scribbling, erasing, and cutting. If you don’t you will leave those dreaded plot holes.

If things don’t perfectly connect and instead tend to contradict each other, your reader will get lost and might feel frustrated.

Your base needs to be strong and this is the perfect time for you to strengthen that base so that the rest of your book flows much easily. It’s like math; if you never understood the bases, you’ll always struggle. Don’t worry—writing is not as difficult as math, it doesn’t make you cry tears (for the most part).

Step 3 for Starting to World Building Fantasy:

Accept the truth.

The hard truth is this: it’s harder to write fantasy than it is to write any other genre or non-fiction.

If my story was set on Earth and involved just humans in our timeline, I don’t need to guess anything. If my characters are set in Toronto, Canada in 2019, I know for a fact that it is spring in Toronto, Justin Trudeau is Prime Minister of Canada, and poutine is sold there. My whole book is set in a real world, where everything is already set. All I need to do here is do some research on Canada and write my book.

But if I’m writing a fantasy book, I have to figure out that world all by myself. Sure it’s time-consuming and challenging but how fun is fantasy to read and write?

You and your reader will get to get lost in your world. 

As said by George R. R. Martin, the author of one of the most famous series in the world,Game of Thrones:

“We read fantasy to find the colors again, I think. To taste strong spices and hear the songs the sirens sang. There is something old and true in fantasy that speaks to something deep within us, to the child who dreamt that one day he would hunt the forests of the night, and feast beneath the hollow hills, and find a love to last forever somewhere south of Oz and north of Shangri-La. They can keep their heaven. When I die, I’d sooner go to middle Earth.”

And honestly, yes! Bring on all the mysteries, magic, and alternate realities. 

How do you world build a fictional world?

In order for your reader to not get lost and connect with your world, it is important for you to describe it perfectly.

This doesn’t mean that you have to list absolutely anything and everything, but you should at least have your readers understand the basic structures and elements of your world.

Your description of the world has to be as cohesive as possible or else your story would come across as choppy and fragmented, making the reader feel frustrated soon enough. 

One of the best tips for this is to use the old rule of “show, don’t tell” when writing.

All of this information you build has to come across to the reader, but you can’t just tell them everything in an info-dump.

What you want to do is leak the information about your world into the narrative with as much showing as possible. Paint the picture with your world through scenes and setting so your readers interpret it themselves.

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Fantasy World Building: The Essentials You Must Cover

The 10 elements of world-building that you should ponder over and plan so that your  audience falls in love with your fantasy novel are:

#1 – Time in Worldbuilding

Is your novel based in our time? Is it based during World War 1, the Ottoman Empire, when Prussia existed?

Or is it in the future: 2080, the end of the world, or post-apocalyptic?

Or better yet: is it based on another planet or a whole other magical world where our definition of time is irrelevant?

Like The Good Place, does a part of your world follow a weird and different time like Jeremy Bearimy

Once you’ve established your timeframe, it is easier to then think about the specifics of the world. If it’s during WW1, then you can’t have cell phones, if it’s in 2080 maybe instead of cars there are flying drones. 

Or in your world, no elements of our society exist. Aladdin is its own magical realm where the mode of transportation is horses, carriages, or a magic carpet.

The possibilities are endless. 

#2 – Location

Location, along with time, plays a key role in your world building. If your characters are in Paris in 1945, they are fighting in WW2 but if they are in India, they are fighting for their independence from Britain along with Gandhi.

If your world is completely imaginary, it then helps answer whether your world has continents, countries, and cities?

Does it have buildings like ours or some high-tech ones that keep floating in air?

Your location then also helps figure out other important elements of your world such as the culture, people, and political systems, which we’ll get to below.

world building location

#3 – Laws & Government

Just like our world, this fantasy world of yours will also have the basic fundamentals and structures that make a functioning society.

Of course, instead of having a male or female President, your world’s political system might have an eight-feet tarantula who is the one True Ruler.

Here are some fantasy worldbuilding questions for laws and government:

  • Who or what are the ruling class and what method of governance do they use?
  • If magic exists in your reality, what are the rules and regulations surrounding it?
  • If someone breaks a rule, do they go to prison, are punished, or exiled?
  • Who enforces the laws in general?
  • Is there some sort of organization to laws and the justice system?

Maybe whoever kills the Ruler becomes the new Ruler, or according to a prophecy, the true Ruler is the one person who is born on the 4th new moon of the year at exactly 1:02 a.m.

Thinking about these different elements is a great way to tie in your own morals and values, along with your story’s themes, in a cohesive manner.

#4 – Worldbuilding People in Fantasy

There’s a ton to consider when you’re world building for fantasy people.

Here are some question to ask when doing this:

  • Is your protagonist a human like you and me or a half alien from an imaginary world, one-third wizard, and the rest a bird? 
  • Are all the people exactly the same or characterized based on their gender, race, age, number of feet, what animal head they have?
  • Maybe the ruling class can only be birds but the local population is a mixture of birds and raccoons? 
  • What language do the people speak? Of course your book would be written in English or any other language, but there might be a language that your characters use?

This could be a cool and fun way for you to include a sentence or two in a made-up language (of course, include a translation for it to not confuse your readers). This will also make it easier for you to write dialoguebetween the characters.

You may also consider if the people live in our world but live in the shadows and are invisible?

Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series features us humans, vampires, werewolves, faeries, angels, demons, warlocks, and an imaginary race of humans that are a mix of humans and angels known as ‘shadowhunters’.

They are invisible and everything they use—weapons, appearances, and buildings—are invisible or enchanted in some way.

Species is one of the most important part of your world. In your head, you should have an absolute clear and detailed image of how all the people look like.

#5 – World History

History is what defines and shapes our present. Every world has its history which makes it—its culture, people, government, traditions, etc.

Historical events will also pose as a point of friction and plot point for you world.

Do the vampires in your world hate the witches because centuries ago a group of witches massacred vampires? Is 2230 Earth a dystopian society cause of a zombie apocalypse breaking out in 2095 due to climate change?

Without a strong historical base and understanding, it would be very difficult to understand the situations and choices that your current characters and their surroundings are taking.

History explains the why of the way current society functions. 

#6 – Society in Fantasy Novels

All of the characters combined along with their social identifiers, history, and relationship to each other creates a society. 

Answer some of these world building questions for forming your society:

  • In your world, what is the basis of your society?
  • Does a class system exist with poor and rich people?
  • What’s the family structure like?
  • Are relationships monogamous or polyamorous?
  • Are same-sex relationships accepted or frowned upon?
  • How do gender roles operate?

Usually our real life societal elements of sexism, racism, classism and others are adopted and reflected in other ways in a fantasy novel. In Harry Potter, racism is reflected in the way Purebloods hate Mudbloods and Muggles.

Find your unique take on societal issues and reveal it in an interesting way.

And remember: you do NOT need to follow our societal structures. You can say “to hell!” with any sexism/racism if you want. There are many other conflicts your story can have without maintaining our own toxic shortcomings as a society.

#7 – Religion in Fantasy

Religion may or may not play an integral role in your world. However, as an important part of society, it will affect your characters and the general values and traditions of the society.

What do they believe in? What are their values? 

You can create a religion which worships God(s) or Deity(ies), a cult-like religion which calls for human sacrifices, or create a world in which religion is banned. 

Mythologies are ancient stories that characters grow up listening. They are believed to be false or very dramatized religious events, however, to understand a society’s functionality and history, they are important to know. What’s the famous legend or folklore of your world? 

Create a backstory for this religion as well. In fact, treat religion as a type of character archetype and fully flesh it out with details, rituals, and more.

#8 – Worldbuliding Magic in Fantasy

In fantasy novels, magic usually plays a huge role. Magic is what defines the fantasy genre.

worldbuilding in fantasy

If there is no magic, it’s not fantasy.

To truly make your world a gripping one, carefully creating the magical aspect of it is important and also a lot of fun!

Ask these questions when world building a magic system:

  • What type of magic exists?
  • Do only wizards and witches have magic or some other creatures possess it too?
  • Or is it magic accidentally born out of a science experiment gone wrong?

Even Spider-man’s powers could also be considered magic as he got them after being bitten!

Or is magic banned in your society with only a few in the ruling class being able to employ it?

This also brings into the question the other important aspects of magic that you need to consider: the rules and regulations surrounding magic.

Can anyone of any age utilize it or just a few? Is magic taught and tested or does it just come naturally? 

Magic is the essence and heart of fantasy. Make sure you do it right. 

#9 – Economy in Fantasy Novels

Not only does economy include the existence of classes or social strata, it also includes the kinds of professions that exist in your world. Are doctors as well-respected and highly-paid as they are in our world or are they considered useless as magic is the sole healer? 

What currency does your world have? Does it have banks or other financial institutions or do people just keep all their money with them?

Does currency even exist or is a barter system in place?

Make sure to have a firm understanding of how your characters acquire goods and services in your novel. This bit will help in worldbuilding other elements as well.

#10 – Daily Life in Fantasy

Finally once you’ve figured all the above elements of your world, this should come naturally.

What does a normal day look like in your world?

Just think about your own daily routine. Most people have the same ones – wake up in the morning, eat breakfast, go to work or school/university, eat lunch, come back home and maybe go to the gym, cook some dinner and watch t.v. before you finally go to bed.

Of course endless other little things might be included in it, like if you stopped for groceries, walked your dog, went to the doctors’ etc., but the basis is pretty common for everyone.

Jenna Moreci, author of The Savior’s Champion, does a really great job of showing us the day-to-day for her main character, Tobias, as seen in the example below.

world building life

Here, we can see what Tobias’s everyday life looks like, and if you’ve read the book blurb and know what this book is about (hint: a tournament to the death), you can see just how much those two things create an intriguing contrast.

Fantasy World Building Final Tips…

Now that you know the time period, location, people’s characteristics, type of society, laws and government, existence of magic, religion, and economic system, you can easily figure out what your character’s day to day life is like.

Of course, to advance your plot and keep your readers interested, your characters would probably be on some crazy adventure doing extraordinary things, and not just following their normal routine.

However, other characters would be and it is important to show what the rest of the world is doing while these few people are on their journey.

By strengthening these 10 elements of your world, not only will your world be interesting to read, it will also help you organize yourself while writing. If you need a template to have this all figured and written down, you can try this BookMap.

And now finally, once all these details are out of the way and you have a clear understanding of your world, there’s only two things left to do: love your book and write it!

Building a world can be a lot of fun but it is also a very tedious and laborious process. Create a world that you love! If you aren’t excited imagining, writing, and reading your fantastical world, your readers won’t either. 

As Stephen King mentions:

“When you write a story, you’re telling yourself the story. When you rewrite, your main job is taking out all the things that are not the story. Your stuff starts out being just for you, but then it goes out.”

Find everything that makes this world of yours special. And don’t worry about creating the next fantasy hit, this one’s all you.

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time for writing

Time for Writing: How to Make Time to Write in Your Busy Life

Finding time for writing isn’t easy, especially if you’re just starting out.

Carving out the time to write a book requires planning, persistence, and at times, a lot of caffeine.

Even with all the right elements in place, making time for writing is a major undertaking, especially when your days are filled with commitments to work, family, and social activities…

Here’s how to make time for writing as a new writer:

  1. Build a writing habit
  2. Set up your writing space
  3. Keep your outline nearby
  4. Get rid of distractions
  5. Overcome writing excuses
  6. Create a schedule for writing time
  7. Set up your word count target
  8. Reward yourself for finding time for writing
  9. Plan your next writing session

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So, you have a dream to write that book, but you’re locked into a schedule that’s keeping you from pursuing your dream.

I know the routine: Get up, work all day, come home and make dinner, and look after the kids (or unwind in front of the TV) and then you fall into bed, exhausted, before you have to do it all again the next day. 

When the weekend comes, you just want to kick back, take it easy, and put the week behind you. Then Monday comes around and the rat race starts all over again.

Soon you can hear yourself making excuses for all the reasons why you didn’t write:

  • “I was so busy this week I just didn’t have time…”
  • “I’ll do it next week when I’m more organized…”
  • “I’ll start writing when I’m feeling more motivated…”
  • “I’ll get to it once I quit my day job and have more time…”

But as you know by now, there’s never a perfect time.

We’re always busy with something. And if we don’t take action when we can, the excuses will keep coming until we run out of time forever. 

Don’t let your dream die. I’m going to help you get your book done.

How to Make Time for Writing in Your Busy Life

By becoming a weekend writing warrior, you can get it done. I know because I’ve done it. In this post I’ll share with you my 8 step strategy for writing a book on the weekends even if your week is crazy busy.

#1 – Build a Writing Habit to Make Time for Writing

When it comes to getting your writing done, strategy is everything. You must create time for writing, without a plan, you drift; and when you drift, you end up back where you started, wasting more time while procrastinating.

The key to writing a book on your weekends is to get plan out how you will use your writing time and develop a writing habit. If you know ahead of time what you’ll be focusing on, where you’ll be writing and for how long, when it comes time to start writing, you’ll show up ready for keyboard action.

Our intentional planning model should consist of:

A good craftsman always shows up to create with his best tools. As writers, we need to spend time preparing to write before showing up at the keyboard. You want to do any necessary research outside of your writing time, not during it.

Stopping just to check that “one thing” breaks your writing flow (and often sends you off into the wilds of the internet, never to return).

During my writing sessions, if I get stuck and need to check on something, I’ll make a note in the paragraph like CBL [Come Back Later].

You can set up your chapters as well by doing brief mind maps for each. If you have crafted your book’s outline already, this should be easy. Take a few minutes each day during the week to do a quick outline for each chapter.

You don’t have to write anything until the weekend, but at the very least, make some notes about what you’re going to write when the weekend comes so you’re prepared.

#2 – Set Up Your Writing Space

Your writing environment has a huge influence on how your writing sessions flow. Will you write in a coffee shop? A quiet room? Under the stairs?

Locked in a closet with just your laptop and a light bulb? Wherever you choose to write, it should be at least comfortable and a place you can stay focused for long periods of time. I’ve found that the idea is to have an environment the triggers “it’s time for writing” as you enter the space.

My writing space consists of my computer, motivational quotes, and mind maps for my books.

Here’s a table detailing what a good writing space looks like.

How to Start Writing TipExecution
Minimize Distractions
- isolate yourself from family/friends/even the family dog
- remind everyone it's YOUR time
- Turn your phone off
- Close ALL web browsers
- Close your email
Get Comfortable- invest in a GOOD chair
- or resort to using a stand-up desk for more energy
- fill the area with motivational quotes
- make sure you're physically comfortable for the next 30 minutes or an hour
Choose Beneficial Background Noise- turn off all sounds if it distracts you
- turn on lyric-less music to help you concentrate
- choose energizing music to help you focus

Decorating your writing space adds to inspiration, but also serves as a reminder:

This is where you write. Make it a place that you can enjoy creating in. But does it have to be just the one place? Of course not. You can change writing locations and have two or three designated spots.

I would recommend having a primary spot you write at consistently, but have another place set up that you can get to just in case you need to change locations. Try out several places and see what works best.

Take note of how you feel working in your creative element.

time for writing environment

Here are some questions to help you decide if it’s right:

  • Is it comfortable? 
  • Are you comfortable? 
  • Is it an energetic spot or, do you feel irritated and restless? 
  • Do you work better in a place that’s quiet [private room] or super noisy [Starbucks]?

On days when I spend all day writing, I’ll break it up into two different locales: one is my writing room, and the other is a coffee shop.

If the noise is a problem, I’ll wear headphones and tune out everything with some mellow writing music.

#3 – Keep Your Mindmap and Book Outline Handy

I have shown up many times to write only to realize I had no plan for what I was writing. This leads to procrastination and then I look for something else to occupy my time.

Know what you are going to write by planning beforehand. Developing your mind map or a book outline is the surest way to start cutting into the pages.

Before you can find time for writing regularly, you’ll need your mind map and outline.

If you start writing without having done these important steps first, you’ll eventually end up stuck. Make sure you have your book fully mind mapped and a general working book outline.

Use your outline as a checklist to get your words down on paper with purpose. Each of your writing block sessions should have a clear purpose as to what you are going to write.

#4 – Eliminate Distractions

One of the biggest obstacles writers face is being pulled out of their “writing zone” by message indicators, vibrations, pop-ups, and a whole list of writing excuses.

This includes notifications that “you’ve got email” or, better yet, someone that you don’t even know has just liked one of your comments on Facebook and you feel that need to check it out right away.

My advice: unplug yourself from all things connected to the Internet. When it’s time for writing there is no need for distraction.

Here is what you can do to eliminate distractions:

  • Option 1: Unplug yourself completely from the internet. Turn off Wi-Fi or physically unplug your network cable. This is the best option to separate yourself from the internet during your writing time. This is the “zero tolerance” method that I use as my number one choice for getting things done.
  • Option 2: Use productivity apps to eliminate or cut down on time spent checking certain sites. Use an app such as RescueTime to block the sites that distract you by choosing the amount of time you need to focus. RescueTime send you updates via email to let you know how much time was spent on certain websites. This is good to know, because the next time you catch yourself saying “I didn’t have time to write” but you spent three unproductive hours on a certain site, you can channel this time into your weekend writing schedule.

Two more apps I recommend: Cold Turkey and SelfControl [for Mac]. Both apps are designed to reduce or eliminate wasted time, and this means higher focus and more time targeted for writing words fast.

In a nutshell: Sit Down. Unplug. Focus. Write.

time for writing distractions

#5 – Overcome Those Writing Excuses

Writing excuses are present in literally everyone.

We all have those things we tell ourselves to stop us from sitting down and making time for writing.

Do any of these writing excuses ring a bell?:

  • “I just need a few minutes of rest and then I’ll write…”
  • “I need to watch that new episode everyone’s been talking about…”
  • “I just don’t feel like writing today…”

We all have these lies we tell ourselves. Because they are, in fact, lies. Once you notice this, it will be much easier to take ownership of these excuses and overcome them.

#6 – Establish a Writing Schedule & Time Slots

When time is limited, it’s important to be strategic in how you use it. In the previous step, we took action by realizing and overcoming our writing excuses. You’ll want to slot time for writing as well as ramp up and down about 15mins. I’ve been obsessed with flow state and entering and exiting it is an art in itself.

The next thing we want to do is decide:

  • How long are your writing sessions going to be? 25 minutes? 40 minutes? One hour?
  • How many writing sessions are you doing today?

For example, I’ll do three one-hour sessions in a day. I’ll write for one hour, take a ten-minute break, repeat.

During the break, get up and move around, stretch or grab some coffee.

How to Set Up Your Writing Session

One option is to use the Pomodoro Technique. Self-published author Steve Scott, who has written close to 70 books, utilized the Pomodoro Technique to structure his writing time. 

Set your timer for 25 minutes and write. Take a five-minute break, and repeat.

This system works really well and is great for getting focused and writing in short bursts. If you want to go longer, set your timer for sixty minutes. I use the timer on my iPhone.

Set it for the time for writing that you are committed to and GO. You should focus only on your writing during this period. It’s not time for anything else, you want to be strict.

No research, editing, or breaking the writing flow, unless there’s a house fire. Just write.

Set a goal for yourself to crank out one thousand words in an hour. These are longer stretches and can be tough for some people so if you are struggling, start with the Pomodoro System and ease your way into doing longer sessions.

#7 – Set Your Word Count Target

Many people get overwhelmed when they think about writing a book. But if you write 3000 words a day on the weekends, you can be done with the first draft of your book in a month. 

All you have to know is how many words will be in your novel and you can work backward from there.

FREE TOOL

Word and Page Count Calculator

Choose your book type, genre, and audience for a word count and page number total.

Enter your details below to get your personalized word and page counts for your book!

Your Book Will Have

words

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*These results are based on industry standards. The total word and page count will vary from book to book and is dependent on your writing and overall book formatting*

Average Time to Write This Book: 60 days

If you plan ahead and set your writing goal at a pace of 800-1200 words per hour, you’ll be done in thirty hours of writing time.

time for writing

This might seem like a lot but think about it: How much time do you spend watching TV in a week? How much time do you spend at the office? How much time do you spend checking email or on social media?

It can be done, and you can do this!

Set a daily word count target for yourself. Be strategic about this and take a rough guess how long your book is going to be. If I know I’m planning to write a 25,000-word novella, if I crank out 6000 words per weekend, I can complete a draft in a month.

If your book is shorter or longer, you can adjust to fit your target deadline. You can easily track your word count in Scrivener. You can also use a Google spreadsheet or a simple Excel spreadsheet.

By tracking your progress, you have a clear indication of how close you’re getting to your goal.

It’s also highly motivating to know you’re making progress.

#8 – Reward Yourself

There’s a famous proverb that says: “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”

I have no idea who Jack was, but I do know that if you spend your entire weekend writing, you’re going to need some R&R at the end of it. This is a critical stage. You made time for writing, be sure to make time for celebrating achieving the goal.

If you spend week after week putting in time at work and then working more on the weekend, even if it is a passion project like writing your novel, you’ll get burned out and feel less inspired when the next weekend comes around. You deserve a break.

Do something for yourself. Go to a movie. Take your friends out to dinner. Get away from the manuscript.

I usually end the weekend by engaging in some fun activities such as:

  • Watching a movie
  • Spending time with the kids
  • Taking a long walk or running
  • Taking a long drive and thinking about future goals and what I accomplished this weekend
  • Meditating or working out

Find what activities allow you to refresh as well as relax and you’ll find much more joy in the process of writing a book, and you’ll make more time for writing because of this.

time for writing

#9 – Plan Your Next Writing Weekend

There’s one more stage after you have wrapped things up at the end of your writing weekend.

This is an important step. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

Before you pack it up, take ten minutes to draft a quick action plan for the week. This consists of the book research, chapter outlining, and anything else you need to do outside of the book writing process.

I do this step Sunday night before bed. Then, when the week starts I know exactly what work on to set myself up for success the following weekend. The alternative to this is to spend five minutes each night writing down what you’ll do the next day. Before anything else, be sure to make time for writing and you’ll continue your momentum.

Do you need to outline your next chapter? Tighten up your overall book outline? Reach out to any online influencers about your next book release? This step is part of the intentional planning phase that will keep you focused.

So even while you are busy in the week with your other commitments, having a shortlist to refer to makes your mission clear.

The weekend is nearly here again. Are you ready? Don’t make excuses—get your book written. You can do this. If you follow the 8-step plan, three months from now you can be celebrating the publication of your next book.

The next time someone asks you the question: “How do you find the time to write?” You can now tell them: “Oh, it’s easy. I write books on the weekends.”

Want to know more?

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how to write a book about your faith

How to Write a Book About Your Faith: A Guide for More Impact

Simply writing a book is a step of faith. So, if you are interested in writing a book about your faith, you will need to exercise some.

Writing a book about your faith is so much more than simply jotting down your thoughts and opinions—at least if you want your story and message to be impactful…

The following principals, when applied, will help you with your journey.

Here are the steps to write a faith-based book:

  1. Notice the similarities and differences with other books
  2. Convey hope in your writing
  3. Write a story, not just a list
  4. Fiction vs nonfiction faith-based books
  5. Draw on your own experiences
  6. Trust your faith
  7. Create flaws
  8. Write your faith-based book so they understand
  9. Have faith
  10. Create overwhelming odds against you/the protagonist
  11. Learn lessons from those who have done it before
  12. How to start writing your faith-based book today

HAVE A MESSAGE?

Write & Publish The Faith-Based Book You’re Called To

Feeling called to write? Write a book that spreads your message, inspires action, and impacts thousands of lives.

How to Write a Faith-Based Book in 9 Easy Steps

There’s more to writing a faith-based book than jotting down your feelings and interpretations.

These steps will help you take your idea and vision to the next step and write a good book about your faith and understandings of it.

#1 – Similarities and differences between Faith Books and other books

The main difference between a book about faith and other books is not so much what is seen, but what is unseen.

According to one Biblical writer: “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

While this is a Christian scripture, it could apply to writing a book about any faith. One goal of writing about faith is to convey hope to those who are hurting.

So, in order to write and publish a book your audience will want to read…

#2 – Convey Hope in your writing

You hope your work will be published and, I assume, that it helps your readers.

Pass hope onto your readers with examples of how faith “moves mountains,” and your book will have a higher chance of success in selling more books and becoming an enjoyable experience for everyone who encounters it.

Here are a few examples of how you can convey hope in your writing:

  • Display your own or others’ struggles
  • Make a point to develop a full range of emotions by the “show, don’t tell” rule in writing
  • Focus your book to look on the bright side
  • Show the steps from struggle to hope so readers can understand how it’s done

#3 – Write a story; not just a list

The most popular faith-based books have story settings where people overcoming impossible challenges.

Perhaps the most famous example is David and Goliath.

You know how it goes; an unknown boy destined to become king slays an evil giant. Even if you heard this only once, you would never forget it.

faith based story

Keep this in mind when looking to convey faith through your words. 

Faith comes to life through stories, and those stories will be remembered longer than any list of does and don’ts. Not that I’m against lists; I’m writing some here. However, this is an article, not a book.

A good story helps ensure your words have staying power. Do you know anyone who doesn’t remember the story of David and Goliath? Exactly!

#4 – Fiction vs nonfiction faith-based books

While far from fantasy, Cori Ten Boom’s The Hiding Place reveals parallel worlds.

Outwardly Ten Boom endures a brutal concentration camp while inwardly she lives in a world of faith. Faith, in this case, is essential to her survival. While the threat of death is ever-present, the main character and author find freedom against the ultimate antagonist. 

faith based books

After becoming friends with many ex gangsters, I wrote the book in the middle.

Fiction needs to be as real as nonfiction!

The more implausible the story, the more you need to anchor it in details that make it seem real. 

This is one of the biggest writing mistakes new aspiring authors can make.

The people we met long ago in a galaxy far away behave like we on earth—they are sometimes petty and self-centered and at other times noble and selfless.

HAVE A MESSAGE?

Write & Publish The Faith-Based Book You’re Called To

Feeling called to write? Write a book that spreads your message, inspires action, and impacts thousands of lives.

#5 – Draw on your own experiences

Recall a time when you needed a certain amount of money, and it came just in time.

If you are writing a fictitious book like The Shack, you can use the feelings you encountered in life, and exaggerate them to make your point. Can you remember needing a certain amount of cash on the first of the month and receiving near that amount in the mail, just in time?

Take the amount you received and multiply it along with the penalty for not coming up with the money.

Turn things from difficult to desperate in order to further your message and story.

#6 – Trust your faith

Trust in the force!

Star Wars may not seem like a faith story, but it is. An entire galaxy is under the boot of darkness when Princess Leah suddenly appears and utters those desperate and now famous words, “Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope!” 

The story of Moses who, with Pharos’s army before him and the sea behind him is similar.

The only option for Moses and the people he led was a great miracle. What is the only hope for the characters you want to write about?

Make the obstacles insurmountable, the solution nearly impossible, the resolution semi miraculous and you’ll even maintain that writing motivation on your way to a great faith book.

# 7 – Flawed, but not too flawed

When it comes to stories like this, you want to make sure you never write it as anything being “perfect.”

Firstly, no reader will want that type of character development or story structure as a whole because it’s not realistic and therefore, not interesting.

Here are some tips to avoid creating not enough or too many flaws:

  1. Don’t make your faith hero too good. Nobody is perfect, and your characters should not be perfect either.
  2. On the other hand, don’t give your characters fatal flaws. Some flaws are endearing while others are repulsive. Readers will easily forgive a woman who chews gum constantly while a man who runs over a puppy for the fun of it will remain beyond redemption to them.
  3. Make flaws relatable. If your reader thinks, I do that, or if they know someone with similar quirks to your characters, they will most likely relate to your creations and enjoy the story.
writing a faith based book

Tip for writing flaws in your faith-based book:

Think of it this way: You are on a bus. It is crowded and noisy with all sorts of distractions. Someone takes a seat across the aisle from you. You have something important to tell them…

Hold that image; the person you envision is your audience.

Write to them alone. The first thing out of your mouth should be more attractive to them than anything competing for their attention. Also, everything that follows after those initial words should hold that attention.

Lose them for a moment, and you may never get them back. 

By the time you reach your destination, your imaginary friend should be so intrigued by what you have said that he or she will follow you when you exit the bus.

# 8 – Write so they understand

Know what moves your readers and talk to them like you would any other friend, in terms they understand.

Everyone understands words like hope, faith, and love.

What you want to avoid is speaking in terms and scriptures and such in a way that those even looking to build their faith won’t understand.

#9 – Have a strong faith

One of the most famous writing tips, and wisely so, is that you write on what you know.

To write about faith, you will need to exercise faith. That starts by getting up early and writing.

Tip: I begin fiction drafts first thing in the morning, pre-coffee (tea in my case) while still in pajamas. Being nearly half asleep tends to bring out a loose, dreamy quality. While this style is good for fiction when getting the framework of the story down, it is not recommended for non-fiction or final drafts.

Nonfiction and self-editing require concrete logic. I suggest attempting them later in the day, when well fed, fully caffeinated, and wide-awake. You can then correct the mistakes you made while floating in that pleasant morning haze.

#10 – The Protagonist needs to face overwhelming odds

Hosoi, my life as a skateboarder, junkie, inmate and Pastor is a book I co-authored for HarperOne.

faith based book example

The memoir follows famed skateboarder Christian Hosoi, who became one of the world’s top skateboarders before falling to meth addiction.

After his incarceration, Hosoi faces himself for the first time, a showdown that ends at the feet of faith.

Immersed in fame, money, and vice since his childhood, the character has little chance of surviving, much less in becoming what he is now—a faithful husband, attentive father of four and a church pastor.

The example here is that your protagonist has to face challenges and odds stacked against them.

And if you’re writing a nonfiction book, your job is to ensure that your own struggles are evident.

When others relate to hardship, it creates a more powerful emotional impact in your faith-based book.

#11 – Learn lessons from those experienced

Some of the most powerful lessons can be learned by those who have experience. I learned as much when interviewing Shack author, William Paul Young.

faith based book author

In the last century writers like C.S Lewis and G.K. Chesterton led the faith-based fiction pack.

More recently, William Paul Young made a big splash with a small volume called The Shack

I interviewed Young a short while ago, and he mentioned that Shack began as a hand-stapled gift for his grandchildren.

As you may know it went on to sell over 20 million copies worldwide.

C.S. Lewis had similar success with a book he wrote for his grandchildren, The Chronicles of Narnia

While these are extraordinary examples, they illustrate two things: The power of faith and focusing on a narrow audience.

While written thousands of years after the books in the bible, both Lewis’s and Young’s tales weave in some timeless common threads: For one, the main characters have little or no chance of succeeding in their goals. Similar to the story of young King David, a cursed land is liberated by a band of children in The Chronicles of Narnia.

inciting incident

The Inciting Incident: How to Write One Correctly to Hook Readers

Your inciting incident has the power to influence readers to 1) buy your book and 2) pull them in for the remainder of it.

In order to get readers to keep reading, your book needs something to trigger that.

Sometimes…even starting your story out strongly isn’t enough…

And that means you need a powerful and inticing inciting incident that can carry your three act story structure.

Here’s how to write an inciting incident:

  1. Know why the inciting incident matters
  2. Learn what an inciting incident is
  3. Ensure it changes the character’s life forever
  4. Make sure it draws a line between old life and new
  5. It must kick off the main plot
  6. Learn from inciting incident examples

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Why Inciting Incidents Matter

By the time you get to Death Wish 5, Charles Bronson has run out of reasons to seek vengeance on the world. You can only have everyone (and everything, if you count the house and the dog) you love destroyed by violence so many times before it stops being much of a motivation.

In action films (and thriller-type novels), the setup for revenge often comes down to quickly killing a loved one. But the 80s are over and motivations need to resonate with an audience that rightly finds some quick woman-in-a-refrigerator to be as irredeemable as it is lazy.

When writing a book, you need to incite your hero to action by giving them a reason.

Your reader needs to be on board with that reason. Barring that, your reader needs to understand the reason. Failing that, your reader shouldn’t hate your reason.

The difference between an antihero and a villain often comes down to a mixture of how they handle an Inciting Incident and the scope of the incident.

A villain will want to burn the world because they lost face to the protagonist. An antihero might decide to shoot every criminal they see because children murder, for example.

Before we get lost in the weeds, let’s
break it down and ask the big question.

What is an inciting incident?

An inciting incident is a specific event at the beginning of a story that kicks off the main plot by forcing your main character into it. The inciting incident changes your character’s life forever.

A good Inciting Incident contains the following four qualities:

  • Creates a Story Question that the Climax must answer
  • Is Sufficient and Kickass: The stakes matter, the presentation WOWs!
  • Sets a Tone
  • Truly Motivates a Character (internally, not superficially)

Essentially, an Inciting Incident gives the hero a reason. This reason must be sufficient to the character in question and also sufficient to the story in question.

In the Matrix, the Inciting Incident for
Neo comes from learning that he is in a simulation. He is offered a choice
between learning about that world or going blissful ignorance.

In Romeo and Juliet, the star-crossed lovers meet and fall in love at a party, setting them on a course that leads to tragedy.

Katniss, an independent girl with skills and a drive to protect others, sees her sister drawn to be Tribute in the Hunger Games.

Mild-mannered office worker Richard Mayhew has a job, a fiancé, and no real problems in his life until he can’t help but rescue a wounded girl he sees on the street in Neverwhere.

All these examples show inciting incidents that start their respective stories.

Each of these inciting incident examples reveals something about the protagonist and the world they live in. They don’t just set the story in motion; they give us a reason to want to see our heroes succeed.

How do they accomplish this? They do so by
deftly ticking off all four boxes without ticking off the reader.

How to Write an Inciting Incident & do it Well

As stated above, if you’re writing a novel, you need an inciting incident. The key here is to do it well by including the necessary elements to do just that.

Here’s what an inciting incident needs to do:

  • Alter a hero’s life in an irreversible way
  • Draw a Line between mundane life and the Quest
  • Kick Off the story’s MAIN plotline

Let’s walk through what each of these means as well as examples to bring them to life.

#1 – Alter a hero’s life forever

There’s really one main objective of an inciting incident and if you fail this part, the rest of the book will be hard to construct.

Your inciting incident must, above all else, alter your character’s life forever.

Without this very element, it’s very hard to “convince” your readers to buy into the story.

If your readers can sit back and say, “or they could just not do it.” to whatever the inciting incident is and their life would be unchanged, you’ve created a lot more work for yourself when it comes to the plot.

The idea behind this is that if your character’s life is changed forever, they don’t have a choice but to move forward with what has happened.

And that forward momentum is what you need to keep readers engaged.

#2 – Draw a line between normal life and the “new” normal

There needs to be a stark contrast between what your character’s life looks like now versus what it’s about to look like after the inciting incident.

Why?

Because readers want to know that your character can’t just “go back” to how things were. Otherwise, what’s the point of them continuing on this journey?

With the inciting incident (and really the setup of your story), you are making a promise to the reader about what will happen in your story. If you don’t draw a line between the old and what’s to come, they won’t be interested in finding out what’s to come because it won’t feel like a mystery.

#3 – Kick off the story’s MAIN plotline

Your inciting incident has to be related to the main plot of your story. If the inciting incident is unrelated to what the main plot points are, you’ve done something wrong.

A common mistake authors make with this is using a big, tense moment as the inciting incident in order to draw intrigue, but then in the next chapter, introducing the real main plot elements.

If your story can work separately from the inciting incident, it’s not done correctly. Go back and tie it into the main plot.

An example of this would be Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games.

The main plot is her journey to survive the Hunger Games. The inciting incident is when she volunteers as tribute to replace her sister in the games.

Had the inciting incident not happened (volunteering), the main plot would not exist (Katniss surviving the games).

An example of how this could not go well is if the author decided to use a raid or a brawl of some sort as the inciting incident, and then making Katniss be chosen for the games. These elements would not be tied in this instance and it wouldn’t be as intriguing or as good of a story.

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Inciting Incident Examples

One of the best ways to get the hang of what an inciting incident really is, is to read and learn from some examples.

Here are 4 inciting incident examples to help you learn how to do this well.

Inciting Incident Example #1 – The Matrix

For Neo, the choice represents an important internal motivation for his character. He doesn’t choose red vs blue pill because he wants to find out what’s going on, he NEEDS to know.

The events leading up to this choice have already illustrated his deep-seated need to thwart authority and solve puzzles, the choice represents a chance to make what he was already doing matter more.

what is an inciting incident

We see his personal stake at play and this also creates a story question for the audience, what is the Matrix and how does Neo matter?

It sets a tone about choice and about the power of illusion which is spelled out by betrayals and misdirects later.

It very much delivers on a WOW! As Neo wakes up in the real world. The rest of the plot follows from the decision and Neo very literally is no longer in Kansas. A metaphor so apt to the application it is the actual reference used in the film.

The audience and the character go through the same revelation created by this Inciting Incident.

Everything that can be hoped for begins and everything that seemed out of place before is shown to be out of place. Despite the trilogy’s faults, this incident is textbook what an Inciting Incident must be.

Inciting Incident Example #2 – Romeo and Juliet

The titular characters met and fall in love. As has been said, you can redo this story with anything, like 2005s pirates and ninjas, and by the end, the audience will demand to know why pirates and ninjas can’t be in love. Or vampires and werewolves, if Underworld is more your thing.

The Inciting Incident creates a story question about love and its consequences which the Climax delivers on.

It reveals the character of both Romeo and Juliet as they feel truly, without the pretense of the society they live in. The costumes and masks of the party keep their prejudices out, revealing an inner truth.

Whether you enjoy a stage production, an
older movie, or the Baz Luhrmann version, the party sets a tone for the rest of
the events. The presentation leading up to the moment of love discovered feels
earned even after a thousand iterations. We root for the characters because we
are practically programmed to do so.

Finally, the line is drawn between each character’s former life and their new reality of being in love.

Nothing about their old prejudices continues forward. The consequences of the main plotline stems from this moment.

Inciting Incident Example #3 – The Hunger Games

Katniss offers herself up literally as
‘tribute’ to save her sister. It’s character motivated, it sets a tone, and it
stuns the crowd. This Inciting Incident creates an echo that follows the
character as the story question becomes about the purpose and meaning of
sacrifice.

The separation between the world of the District and the world of the Games themselves is inexorable and clear cut. The film uses a diluted and diffused palette for the earlier scenes, giving way to a brighter almost saturated pallet for the games. In the book, the prose shifts, becoming more playful and les terse. In both cases, the audience knows which world they are witnessing.

The story happens because of this decision.

All of this is sufficient, but Collin’s
pulls it off in three words. Well, almost, the setup makes the specific
Inciting Incident possible.

The main plotline occurs, in almost a
cheat, at the titular Hunger Games.

Finally, the stakes matter to Katniss personally. She saved her sister. The further ramifications that change the society also stem from this incident, but they don’t have to.

If the book ended with her sacrifice it would still be sufficient.

Inciting Incident Example #4 – Neverwinter

Gaiman uses the Inciting Incident figuratively for the reader and literally for the character of Richard Mayhew. The moment that Richard notices Door, he crosses over from the real world to the realm of London Below.

The distinction between the two worlds is irrevocable but not obvious to the intractable Richard, at least not at first.

Meeting Door is both an Inciting Incident personally for Richard, who must help because you help people when you see they need it, and a deeply revealing part of his character development.

The naiveite that comes with it almost gets him killed quite a few times, but the character line is there.

The WOW! of the moment comes from the way
Richard entirely focuses on the wounded girl, Door, and totally ignores his
blathering fiancé who demands Richard make a decision, on the spot, between
helping the wounded waif and staying engaged.

Much like in the Matrix, this is no kind of
choice at all. Richard can’t not help.

The stakes don’t seem high to Richard, but
the reader soon learns that without aid, the men who wounded Door would have
caught up to her.

Finally, the Incident creates a story
question about both Richard and Door, how they interact with the world(s) they
interact with and who they are. All of which has a pay off in the Climax.

How the Inciting Incident Shapes Your Story

As you see, the Inciting Incident does a lot with very little. The best of them seem to be almost happenstance, a nearly throwaway event that makes an impact on the characters and the world(s) around them.

Even something simple can be used as an
iceberg tip, drawing the reader down a rabbit hole (for a fifth example of this
EXACT thing) into the world of your story.

Be cautioned! These examples represent everything going right and fulfilling the Musts to be sufficient. Losing one of the Musts alone can cause a story to stumble out of the gate.

It is possible to recover, but never ideal.

Consider the Inciting Incident of The
Phantom Menace (picking on a poorly executed story is low fruit, but that’s the
point). Anakin is discovered because they need a part to fix a ship to get back
on the ‘real’ adventure of protecting Padme. The Incident has prophetic potency
but its lack of both a clear separation between the mundane and the quest and
its failure to set the stakes leave the audience baffled and relying on
external information to care.

The Inciting Incident can be thought of as the first major hurdle you need to jump to make a story kickass. If you stumble, even a little, on that first hurdle getting to the finish line and medalling in the event isn’t impossible, but it sure as hell isn’t going to be easy.

writing motivation

Writing Motivation: How to Persevere in Writing When You Feel Like Giving Up

Writing motivation is fickle. It comes and goes but the feeling of wanting to give up might linger even longer.

So how do you persevere in writing if you feel like giving up?

Contrary to popular belief, writers and authors don’t just want to write all day every day. Maybe the very rare person does, but that’s not the norm…

And so writers must learn to reach beyond themselves and understand how to stay motivated to write and persevere until they finish writing a book, especially if you want to self-publish a book.

Here’s how to keep your writing motivation high:

  1. Learn how perseverance in writing works
  2. Forming a writing habit
  3. Gather the right writing tools
  4. Increase writing motivation through dedication
  5. Keep your writing dates
  6. Keep the document visible
  7. Do writing sprints
  8. Connect with other authors
  9. Be kind to yourself

Write & Launch a Bestselling Book in 90 Days—Even if You Only Have 30 Minutes  Per Day  Learn the exact step-by-step methods you need to cut through the noise,  harness the Amazon algorithm, and self-publish your book successfully this year!  YES! GET THE TRAINING!

How Perseverance Works, Even in Writing

I’m going to start with showing you an image of my nine-year-old’s perseverance that can be applied to anyone.

Every week she climbs a 16 ft rope at her gymnastics class. She decided that she was going to make it to the bell about 2 months ago and she has steadily climbed further up the rope each week.

Her hands slide up the rope with precision, her knees are out like a butterfly and she uses her whole body to climb up the rope. Every week I shoot a Facebook live video of her.

And every week the time it takes her to climb the rope decreases.

Preserving in writing is a lot like my 9-year-old’s determination to squirm her way up the rope.

It is climbing, hand over hand, using all the resources you have to keep your eye on the finished target. In my daughter’s case, it is the bell at the top of the gymnastics rope. In my case, it is finishing my second book this year.

When my family and friends ask me about my first book, how much time it took, and what keeps me going, I shrug and say, “I started working on it consistently in November.” I went from idea to self-published in 6 months. Of course, that was with intentional, uninterrupted writing times and the determination to keep going – even when it was hard.

You can write a book too. You just have to make the most of every second and continue on your journey, even when it is hard.

How to Form a Writing Habit to Maintain Writing Motivation

It is not always easy to consistently write. In fact, there are days when it is downright HARD, but we all have the same 86,400 seconds in every single day.

How we choose to use our time is one of the things that sets apart those who persevere in writing against those that don’t. 

And forming a writing routine and habit is the best way to make that happen.

https://youtu.be/IAFJwTxsJ4E

I don’t have a lot of time for writing during the day—so I have to create time. The absolute best time for me is to wake before the sun and spend the first two hours of my day writing and creating.

I do find small chunks of time during a break at school to pull up the google doc app on my phone and write a few words. However, as you can see by Chandler’s video about burnout, it is super important to create hard and fast boundaries about your life and your writing routine, so that you don’t burnout and you’re able to continue writing.

Gather the Writing Tools to Help Writing Motivation

Sometimes those boundaries include using the right tools for writing, which will also help you persevere and keep you motivated to keep going. The right tool or writing software is generally not your phone.

That’s not to say that you can’t have your phone as an occasional tool; however, it is equally as important to understand that if you pull your computer out and go to your dedicated writing space, you will likely accomplish a lot more.

There are different people and people who do things in different ways. In the writing community, we call them plotters and pansters, or discovery writers.

The plotters plan every single detail out and they are then able to compile their narratives. The pansters go with the flow and get things moving by simply putting one word in front of the other.

Here are some of the best tools for writing:

  1. A word processing program (like Microsoft Word or Google Docs)
  2. A journal
  3. A blank piece of paper
  4. A notebook
  5. A pen/pencil
  6. A keyboard

Keep in mind that the word processor you use can make a huge difference in writing motivation.

For example, using something like Scrivener to track your word count and goal line can keep you pushing to reach the end.

Check out our Scrivener Tutorial below if you’re curious to learn more.

https://youtu.be/qbKOAVKe50c

Keep Writing Motivation Through Determination

When I am most likely to want to throw in the towel, I usually get some inspiration from someone that I’ve allowed to read my work to help me keep going. If that’s not possible, I reach out to the #writingcommunity on Twitter and someone there will give me some sage advice—like go for a walk.

So many writers dream of having the ability to work from home, never get dressed if they don’t have to, and being an authorpreneur. However, it takes a lot of perseverance to get there.

It takes the dedication of finding the one time in your day to keep an appointment with the most important VIP in your life: yourself.

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How to Maintain Writing Motivation Even When it Gets Tough

My writing coach, R.E. Vance, told me that the worst thing I can do is not to look at my writing for a few days. He said that when you aren’t engaged with it, it takes longer to move to the creation part because you have to re-read, figure out where you are, and you lose momentum.

So follow these steps for persevering in your writing journey every day.

motivated to write

#1 – Keep a Writing Date With Yourself

You are a very important person in this blank page to published process. So, find a time that works for you, whether that is early in the morning or after your family is in bed for the night, and dedicate five, ten, twenty-five minutes, or an hour to working on your book.

“But I am tired.”

Guess what? You’re making the most of those 86,400 seconds in a day by finding a few minutes to commit to writing. Personally, I am a morning writer. I know that I am a lot less likely to be interrupted in the morning than at any other time.

#2 – Keep the Document Open and Visible

When you open your work in progress document, you’re setting yourself up for success.

You know that you want to add more words to the page and you can do this by simply putting one word down and following it with the next.

You can edit bad writing, but you can’t edit a blank page.

That’s why keeping the doc open, no matter what writing software you use, can help keep it top of mind. Think of it like keeping a sticky note out reminding you.

Whenever you log on to your computer, you’ll have a reminder to write right in front of you.

#3 – Do Writing Sprints

For those of you who don’t know, writing sprints are when you set a timer and simply write as much as you can during that time. You don’t go back and read, you don’t edit, you just write and keep writing until the time is up.

Set a timer for a few minutes. It can be one minute, it can be two minutes, or it can twenty minutes.

You get to decide how many minutes you want for a sprint and then during that time period, you simply write.

You write as many words as you can in that sprint and perhaps it will inspire you to do another sprint.

If you want to have more accountability do this, hop on Twitter and search the hashtag #writingsprints to find people who are currently looking for sprinting buddies.

This can help you stick with it and then be accountable for it at the same time, since many post their word counts after (usually followed by more sprints).

motivation for writing

#4 – Connect With Other Authors

Sometimes we need a little motivation to keep us going. Most other authors are more than willing to help you when you’re feeling down.

Reach out to the author communities on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

They often have advice for you, whether it is on their blogs or through direct messages.

If you’re not sure where to go to find other writers, here are some hashtags you can use to search and find people writing in your genre!

PlatformHashtags
Twitter- #amwriting
- #writerslife
- #authorlife
- #aspiringauthor
- #writerproblems
- #[yourgenre]writer
Instagram- #amwriting (as in, "I am writing")
- #writerslife
- #fantasywriter, #scifiwriter, #contemporarywriter, etc.
- #writerprobs, #writerproblems
- #writersofig, #writersofinstagram, #writersofinsta
Facebook- #amwriting (as in, "I am writing")
- #writerslife
- #fantasywriter, #scifiwriter, #contemporarywriter, etc.
- #writerprobs, #writerproblems

#5 – Be Kind to Yourself

The research from writer Joseph Epstein says that more than 81% of Americans believe that they have a book in them, but very few will put n the work to do it.

You, however, are doing it and this deserves recognition.

Often times we get down on ourselves, but in these times, you need to remember to speak to yourself like you would a friend.

When I talk to a friend about my writing, they give me kudos and credit for the things I am doing. You should speak to yourself as you would speak to a friend.

Writing Motivation from other Authors

Any author will tell you that there will be days that you simply do not want to write, but many have tricks to help overcome the writing void.

Here are a few of my favorite blog posts on finding the perseverance in your writing routine:

Remember that there will always be times that you lose writing motivation and struggle to produce excellent content, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t write.

Even the best writers struggle.

They keep moving forward, by putting one word in front of the other and finding writing motivation that works for them, and you can too.