Neil Gaiman On Writing

Its not often a Youtube video changes my life. But this one did. My writing life won’t be the same.

This video may not set your world on fire, but it both released a lot of pressure I was putting on the draft of my third novel and helped me realize that writing a book is a slow and steady brick laying affair. Sounds boring, but it might be the best way to finish and that’s what were all trying to do. A big thank you to Andrew for sharing it.

Please watch and enjoy.

Keep Writing.

See you at Jot!

Why We Don’t Finish Writing Our Novels

There is a lot of pressure that comes with the first draft. We invest a mountain of effort in our work. Questions and self doubt swirl and often collide and cause a terrible panic. Every word has to be perfect! When they are not we believe are horrible. The End.

That first sentence is terrible! (So we rewrite unto oblivion.) I need a better opening! (We work on this for months!) Then we stop look around and think, wow this writing thing is hard. I’m going to take a break. Then six months later, I’ve only written three miserable pages? Ugh.

But, the simple fact is – no one sees those terrible first drafts (or they shouldn’t!). You are going to cut pages, rewrite scenes, and remove them. I cut about 20,000 words on the second go round of my first novel and plan to cut another 15,000 on this next edit (my eighth).

The first draft is a learning phase and you have permission to make mistakes. Repeat, you can make mistakes and each line can be okay, it does not have to be awesome, yet. You can fall, scrape your knee, and try again. Think of yourself as a baby. This might be marginally silly, but no baby takes a step and then decides to race Usain Bolt the next day.

So move forward. Don’t keep interrupting the flow of your book. You’ll have to rewrite and cut scenes and later anyway. Finish your draft first, then you’ll know what to improve. This is the time to take risks and try things with your characters and plot.

For now, write like it’s your job. Especially if you want it to be some day. But remember to have fun and that you’ll learn so much more about your novel when it is done.

Keep writing, friends.

“If want to be a novelist, you need to learn to finish things.” – Neil Gaiman

See You At Jot!


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Jot IV – Mark Your Calendars

Originally posted on Josh Mosey | Writer:


My writers group, The Weaklings, met recently to discuss the next Jot Writers Mini-Conference. I thought I’d tell you what we know so far.

Jot IV or Jot 4 (which one do you like better?) will take place on Friday, September 12th at Baker Book House in Grand Rapids, MI from 7pm – 11pm. The price, as it has always been, will be nothing. The value will be considerably more (hopefully).

At the moment, only a few of our speakers have been confirmed. We’ll have veteran Jot speaker and editor at Discovery House Publishers, Andrew Rogers, and we just signed on blogger and writer, Alison Hodgson. We have two more speakers that we’re still bullying into agreements, so stay tuned for those.

For past attendees, we’re excited to announce that Baker Book House has agreed to expand the stage area of the store to accommodate our…

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How To Create An Effective Word Count Goal

Originally posted on Part-Time Novel:


Think about the last time you failed at a goal. Be it to land a job, run a triathlon, swim a mile, write a book, etc. Whatever it is, it weighs on you. It can be a mocking, dark cloud. You might have failed from lack of effort but those usually don’t hurt. I am talking about one that hurts, and hurts bad. Not a mosquito bite, but a side swipe by a car.

I’ve been side swiped on and off for the last seven years. Okay that might seem a bit dramatic but the stings have been there. I’ve gone through spurts where I have written a lot, and not written at all. This is not what a novelist does, I told myself. Novelists write every single day. They get up and write when they don’t feel like it. They write when they are tired and when they…

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Announcing Flavorwire’s 2014 Short Fiction Contest


FYI Writers

Originally posted on Flavorwire:

Flavorwire is excited to announce our 2014 short fiction contest. For the second year in a row, in honor of May’s National Short Story Month, we’re offering a prize of $500 for one outstanding short story. To enter, simply send a story of 5,000 words or less — in the body of a message, not as an attachment — along with a brief author bio and all relevant contact information to by Friday, May 16. Flavorwire Literary Editor Jason Diamond will judge all entries and announce the results on Monday the 26th. We’ll publish the winning story, along with a handful of honorable mentions, on Flavorwire throughout the final week of May.

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A Follow Up To Matthew Landrum’s Poetry Workshop – Reading Recommendations


Thank you all for coming out to Jot III. We had a great lineup of speakers. I enjoyed running into old friends and making new ones. A special thanks to those who attended my poetry workshop.

I was asked by one of the authors in attendance to give some book recommendations. As this question invariably makes me draw a blank, here is a more thorough list than the one I gave that night. This list is by no means exhaustive, but it represents a few books I love and can recommend to any reader whether they be neck deep in verse’s pool or testing the waters with a tentative toe.

I look forward to seeing you all at the next Jot in September.

Writing Every DayLi-Young Lee – The City in Which I Love You
Louise Glück – The Wild Iris
Franz Wright – Walking to Martha’s Vineyard
Claudia Emerson – Late Wife
Seamus Heaney – The Spirit Level
Alicia Stallings – Olives
Michael Longley – Gorse Fires
Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill – The Pharaoh’s Daughter
Paul Muldoon – Horse Latitudes
Rebecca Lindberg – Love, an Index

- ML