How to Set Writing Priorities

Making certain to write every day can be a big challenge, yet if you’re not writing every day, then you are not a writer. You are a dabbler – writing on this day, writing on that, but not being consistent. In order to be a writer, you have to write every day. You have to make writing a habit.

As soon as I make writing a habit, I realize that inevitably there are other priorities that begin to raise their heads. How do I make sure I get my blog posts published? What about my YouTube writing videos or my podcasts or emails? Is there any way I can spend x hours doing the lawn work I have to do this week? Etc. Etc. Etc.

I’ve realized the following: There are certain weeks when marketing has a higher priority, and there are certain weeks when writing has a priority. Yet, I still have to be writing every day. There are just some times when the writing will not be as much as usual. Don’t do this randomly. Figure out when you have to make writing a priority. Below are some guidelines.

Make writing a priority when. . .

  1. You are writing a first draft to a story.

Never, never, never drag the first draft of a story out too long. If you have to, table everything else. Make certain you complete the first draft. Then, you’ll be done with the most discouraging part of the writing process.

  1. You are nearing the half-way point with a story revision.

After the first draft of a story is completed, it’s easy to spend some time focusing on other priorities. Then, you begin to revise your story, yet it still doesn’t have first dibs. Make certain that as you progress through the revision process, you are raising the writing priority until it is first on your list. Keep this up until it is complete and ready for publication.

  1. You are behind with the macro-goals of how much writing you wanted done by the end of the year/bi-yearly.

If you realize your long-term goals aren’t being met, then do the following: 1) Make writing more of a habit, 2) Make writing more of a priority, and 3) (if you are already doing the prior steps as much as humanly possibly) Make your goals more realistic.

Your fellow writer,
Joshua Reynolds

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How to Eliminate Boredom from Your First Draft?

In my painful experiences, I have learned that the number 1 problem with creating a first draft of a story (more often than not) is pushing away boredom from the actual process of writing. If you’ve done all your homework correctly, then you have a pretty good idea of the scenes you want to write and have even created an outline of your story. You’ve gathered reference material and have dozens of imagined images in your head of various story scenes. You even have stories that stimulate your imagination, schedules that show you don’t have to write everything at once, and you’ve even gone the extra mile in finding a place to write where you will not be distracted.

Yet, when you sit down to write, you want to do anything but write. You check the news first, your email first, your work project first, your book reading first, your marketing work first, your workout first, your house chores first – ANYTHING – just to keep away from drafting your story. When you do start drafting, you write a little bit and then feel tired of it.

For me, the second draft is always MUCH more invigorating. That’s when the excitement really begins. The best part about the first draft is beginning the first chapter. Finding the right beginning is a thrill. Then, the slogging begins from there and only seems to worsen until the very last few pages of your story.

I wish I could give a less glaring solution to this problem, but sometimes, the most glaring solution actually is the right one.

WRITE YOUR FIRST DRAFT QUICKLY

Don’t become discouraged, and don’t edit even one sentence until it is finished. Just write it out. Let your story take whatever form it can from all the material you have gathered previously about it. Then, when you revise it, you can truly make your story better than what you originally envisioned.

Here’s the other clincher tip: Writing a first draft can be a lot like running. When you run, the goal is to think of anything else but running. Let your mind think about the finish line, about the great distance you’ve covered, about the trees or scenery around you, about the story you were reading the previous night, about the comfort of your running shoes, etc. Many times, when you are actually doing the writing, it’s best to be thinking about anything but trying to force the words. You have to think about what’s next in the story, but then let your mind think about the great number of pages you’ve written, the way the ink rolls onto the page or the way the cursor flashes (I write most of my first drafts with pen and paper), about the sounds you can here in the background, etc. Just make certain that all along, more words of your story are being written.

Your fellow writer,
Joshua Reynolds

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Why Doesn’t Your Story Write Itself

I want to take you for a moment back to the first moment you thought of writing a story. In terms of your story’s evolution, this is probably the best and most exciting moment you can think of (since your book remains unpublished). Do you remember how elated you were with the idea of writing this story?

Weeks passed. You started your story several times, all at different points. You took some notes about your story and still had many high hopes.

Months passed. You knew you needed to really plow into that first draft, but you still weren’t too worried about it. After all, you were still in the first year of the idea, and you’d written many snippets from various scenes. You just didn’t know how they would come together.

A year passes. Now you are beginning to get worried. You told a few people about it in the first few weeks, and they’ve been asking questions. You laugh them off, saying it was a silly idea while still secretly hoping to write your story.

Another year passes. Now, you wonder whether or not you will ever complete your tale. Life has become so busy, and you’re not really certain of how to get the original idea you had – one that you knew was a great idea – down onto paper.

The sad truth about writing is that your book doesn’t write itself.

The wonderful truth about writing is that your book doesn’t write itself! You’re in control of it.

Writing a story is all about building the inspiration you had when you first thought of your story. What sort of image did you have in your head? What sort of character did you imagine? How did you think of this image?

Storytellers are inspired to write stories because of things they come across in the real world, whether they find it in a story they read, a place they journey to, a picture they see, or a friend they meet. I call these objects of inspiration “reference images”. They help build your inspiration for your own imagined images, something I call your “inspired images”. These imagined images create the scenes of your story.

Don’t give up hope! All you need to do is change your writing habits and remember your inspiration.

So, why doesn’t your story write itself? It’s because you’ve forgotten your inspired image! Rethink of that image that first inspired you to write a story, create more images based upon what inspires you about that image, and then create an outline of your story.

Your fellow writer,

Joshua Reynolds

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The Five Points of Creating a Story

The five bends in the road to creating a story are as follows:

  1. You gather information: Reference images/places/stories/paintings/ect.
  2. You build your inspired/imagined images based from your reference material – this is where your unique story develops.
  3. Construct an outline of your story: Remember to incorporate what ordinary life would be like in your story, and keep your message a theme of redemption. Provide places of sustenance where your reader can rest. These scenes are the memorable ones that your reader will want to return to the rest of his/her life.
  4. Write your first draft – quickly! Your first draft is your “junk draft”.
  5. Revise.

The steps are simple, and if you follow them one step at a time, your story will be completed before you know it! So many times, people try to begin with the last step. That is, they’ll begin writing their first draft and try to constantly revise along the way. This is similar to trying to eat a meal all in one bite. The writer quickly becomes overwhelmed, and soon, the first draft is shelved and rarely returned to. Publication is something always dreamed of but never attained.

Don’t do this with your manuscript! If you don’t know all the scenes to put in your story, then stop writing your story. Gather reference material. Learn what your inspired image truly is (that’s what made you want to write your story in the first place – remember that image you imagined that made you say, “Ah! I want to write a story!”?) Create the scenes of your story and put them into an outline.

Then, write your first draft quickly without editing! Only after the last word of draft one is complete should you begin step five: Revising your story.

Your fellow writer,

Joshua Reynolds

P.S. If you want more help writing, then click the below button and fill out the following form. I’d be happy to help!

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An Encouragement: Who Else Wants Free Writing Tips and Resources?

“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.” ~Louis L’Amour

I want to encourage you today to write. No, I’m not asking you to sign up for my Writing Imagination Academy. Hopefully, you already have. If not, you know you can always do so at your discretion. As Ernest Hemingway once said, “The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” And I trust your decisions.

Setting aside my desire to personally guide you through your story, I want to provide you with as many resources as I can – completely free. That’s one of the main focuses of this blog!

To start off, I want to Re-blog the top ten reasons of why the first draft of your story isn’t complete:

1. You began without preparation.

Before you begin writing your story, minimal preparation that should be done is: Research your story for accuracy (even if you’re creating a world yourself, you should be well aware of what other people are doing); Obtain reference images for your own inspiration; write about the images you have imagined; gain information like character names, places your story will take place in, and so on; and from your inspired and imagined images, create an outline.

2. You haven’t made writing a habit.

In order for your first draft to be written, you need to make writing a daily habit in your life. If you don’t, then you are not a writer but a dabbler.

3. Fear.

You’re too afraid of how your book will be received. For your first draft, it’s best to not think about such things at all. Think of it this way: Your writing is just you and your writing instrument.

4. Editing.

Something I learned years ago, if you want to get through a first draft, don’t edit!!! Write all the way through, and then you can go back and edit. That’s what drafts two and three are for.

5. Discouragement.

You become discouraged when you don’t see your book living up to your expectations. Don’t worry! Rarely, if at all, will a first draft live up to one’s expectations. Remember the quotes at the top of this email. The first draft is a stepping stone.

6. You’re writing too slow.

The longer a first draft drags out, the less chance you have of ever completing it. Why? Because we all have busy lives! Things come up, and soon, it can be easy to shelve your book project. Don’t do this! Write your first draft quickly.

7. Distractions.

Distractions are easy when you have picked the wrong writing environment. Try writing in a different sort of environment and see what happens.

8. Not knowing where to begin.

It is hard to begin some days. You sit down with your writing instrument in hand and don’t know how to get moving. At such a stall, go back to some of the material you collected before you began writing Draft One and look it over. Remember all your inspiration, and try to write about that on your page. After all, that’s supposed to be your story.

9. Having a dis-joint plot.

Sometimes, after writing for a while, you can realize the plot-line you came up with wasn’t the best and should have been tweaked in your outline stage. If this happens, don’t panic. Tweak the plot, but don’t go back to make everything match. Finish the draft. Then you can go back and revise.

10. Not enough words.

Vocabulary is something that can occasionally run dry. You find yourself repeating the same words. Sometimes, this is okay, but make sure that every scene is unique. Even if you mention the word “sunshine” in every chapter twenty times, talk about it in different ways: It’s spilling through limbs and boughs, shooting across the field, rising in the morning, gleaming through the window, beaming behind the mountain.

congrats picture

You have completed all of my on-boarding blog posts of my products to date. Congrats!

Your fellow writer,
Joshua Reynolds

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Writing a Story from Beginning to End that Exceeds Your Expectations – Your Turn

It’s the moment you’ve been waiting for: The brief list – to the point – of what needs to happen for your novel to be published.

1. Understanding what good storytelling is.
2. Making writing an enjoyable, inspired, and fun task.
3. Understanding how you gain imagination and inspiration for stories from things around you.
4. Explore your imagined and inspired images.
5. Create your outline.
6. Write your first draft.
7. Revise your story.

Remember how much you enjoyed stories as a child? How is it that you could turn a stuffed animal and a bedroom into an entirely different world? You can re-enter that imagination and create more imaginative, more defined, and more inspirational stories than you’ve ever imagined before.

In Writing Imagination Academy, I cover all seven of the above points and more. That’s right – this is a service that ordinarily would cost thousands of dollars to invest in. I’m giving it to you for a fraction of that amount.

It all comes as part of Writing Imagination Academy that costs a flat fee of $200. You pay this fee after I accept you into the program. If you are accepted, you will receive five extra modules of video training, four coaching calls, and a chapter evaluation of your story. The program takes 8 weeks to complete, and your first draft should be completed by then! The last module deals with how to revise and smooth that draft out into a finished manuscript, and from there, the road consists of merely applying everything you have learned.

I only allow 50 seats per WIA course. Go to my home page to see how many seats are available and when the next Writing Imagination Academy course begins! Application for the course must be completed before the course begins.

Your fellow writer,
Joshua Reynolds

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The Top Ten Reasons Why Your First Draft Isn’t Complete

“I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shoveling sand into a box so later I can build castles.” ~Shannon Hale.

“It is better to write a bad first draft than to write no first draft at all.” ~Will Shetterly

“Writing the last page of the first draft is the most enjoyable moment in writing. ~Nicholas Sparks

Below, I delve into the meat and potatoes of the top ten most common mistakes that result in a first draft of a story never being completed. However . . . I have a promise to keep, first!

In a previous post, I said that I would talk a little more about my Writing Imagination Academy course. I’m going to begin by making a shocking statement: Over 50% of the novels in your local library should not exist. Have you ever picked up a book, began reading it, and promptly set it down to never return to it? Or have you ever enjoyed a story the first read-through to find that afterward you were exhausted? You don’t want to go back to it because since you know everything that happened, it can no longer keep you at the edge of your seat.

Both of these sorts of stories are examples of poor storytelling. There are so many stories being told today that give dismal views of life, takes away a reader’s imagination, have poorly described places, and altogether shouldn’t exist. Don’t get me wrong! I think there are a lot of good stories as well. Personally, I usually like stories that have stood the test of time, though there are some good treasures being written today. The trick is in finding them.

In Writing Imagination Academy, I show what an imaginative, inspirational, and wholesome story is and how to write one. It starts by understanding what inspired you to write your story and continues by describing how your imagination should flow onto the page so your story exceeds your own expectations! You’re driving and I’m navigating. Tell me where you want to go, and I’ll help you! Go to my home page to find when my next class is, and apply today!

And now, onto your first draft – after all, you’re probably saying right now, “But Joshua, I need help this minute with my writing!”

Here are the top ten mistakes people make with Draft One:

1. You began without preparation.

Before you begin writing your story, minimal preparation that should be done is: Research your story for accuracy (even if you’re creating a world yourself, you should be well aware of what other people are doing); Obtain reference images for your own inspiration; write about the images you have imagined; gain information like character names, places your story will take place in, and so on; and from your inspired and imagined images, create an outline.

2. You haven’t made writing a habit.

In order for your first draft to be written, you need to make writing a daily habit in your life. If you don’t, then you are not a writer but a dabbler.

3. Fear.

You’re too afraid of how your book will be received. For your first draft, it’s best to not think about such things at all. Think of it this way: Your writing is just you and your writing instrument.

4. Editing.

Something I learned years ago, if you want to get through a first draft, don’t edit!!! Write all the way through, and then you can go back and edit. That’s what drafts two and three are for.

5. Discouragement.

You become discouraged when you don’t see your book living up to your expectations. Don’t worry! Rarely, if at all, will a first draft live up to one’s expectations. Remember the quotes at the top of this email. The first draft is a stepping stone.

6. You’re writing too slow.

The longer a first draft drags out, the less chance you have of ever completing it. Why? Because we all have busy lives! Things come up, and soon, it can be easy to shelve your book project. Don’t do this! Write your first draft quickly.

7. Distractions.

Distractions are easy when you have picked the wrong writing environment. Try writing in a different sort of environment and see what happens.

8. Not knowing where to begin.

It is hard to begin some days. You sit down with your writing instrument in hand and don’t know how to get moving. At such a stall, go back to some of the material you collected before you began writing Draft One and look it over. Remember all your inspiration, and try to write about that on your page. After all, that’s supposed to be your story.

9. Having a dis-joint plot.

Sometimes, after writing for a while, you can realize the plot-line you came up with wasn’t the best and should have been tweaked in your outline stage. If this happens, don’t panic. Tweak the plot, but don’t go back to make everything match. Finish the draft. Then you can go back and revise.

10. Not enough words.

Vocabulary is something that can occasionally run dry. You find yourself repeating the same words. Sometimes, this is okay, but make sure that every scene is unique. Even if you mention the word “sunshine” in every chapter twenty times, talk about it in different ways: It’s spilling through limbs and boughs, shooting across the field, rising in the morning, gleaming through the window, beaming behind the mountain.

Your fellow writer,
Joshua Reynolds

P.S. In my Writing Imagination Academy course, you will receive five modules full of videos with invaluable information that can aid you in your writing. I plan to delve more into this course in subsequent posts. Want to know more now? Sign up to my email list and find out (button below)!

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