Although creative writing isn’t the main focus of this blog, I’ve collected some useful tools that I’d like to share here. They range from practical advice that I completely support to techniques that I will probably never try.

The advice in the article “How to Finish a Writing Project” is similar to my basic outlook. Concisely:

  1. Read a lot. Have adventures. Polish your writing skills. (This is an ongoing process.)
  2. Have an idea. Get excited about it. Don’t tell anyone.
  3. Find a room with a door that you can close. Start spending uninterrupted blocks of time there, developing the idea.
  4. Flesh out the basic structure for the project. Make sure the plot is well-constructed. (You don’t want the reader to get confused when a character who died in Chapter 3 reappears in Chapter 5.)
  5. Write the first draft without seeking critical input. (Avoid excessive self-editing. Being concise is good, but you can always condense the text later.)
  6. Take a break, if you need to.
  7. Network with other writers and editors, if you haven’t already done so, and start exchanging/critiquing/etc.. Keep an eye out for problems that might need repair, but don’t edit so much that you strip the meaning out of your work.
  8. Revise, revise and revise.
  9. Learn basic information about publishing and publicity. Identify your audiences, including potential agents and/or publishers. Send your work out into the world. Don’t be upset when you get rejections in the mail. Ask friends to help you stay motivated.

The next steps will depend on what type of project you are doing. But even if you land a great contract with a short deadline, remember to keep repeating step 1 throughout the process.

Two tools I have not used are Storymash, a collaborative writing site, and Write or Die, an anti-procrastination tool. Storymash looks like a good way to experiment with ideas and techniques. Write or Die looks too stressful for my taste. It might be helpful for Ph.D. dissertations or other grueling but necessary projects.