Writing quote: “There are no laws for the novel. There never have been, nor can there ever be.”

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 “There are no laws for the novel. There never have been, nor can there ever be.” – Doris Lessing 

If anyone ever ever told you that you can only write in a certain way they are not speaking the truth. 

Writing novels should never look like a chore or bore you because you do not have to follow a particular pattern or write like another novelist to get your own audience.

That’s the thing about them; the more creative your novel is the better for all of us. You set the laws for your novel – how you want it to start, progress and how you want it to end. As long as it makes sense to your readers the rest of the world has no choice but to go with it. Novelist write stories that they wish they could find on the shelf, stories that keep circling in their head, the ones that make them smile in the midst of a large audience. 

Writing novels and following ‘rules’ will restrict you. As long as you are a writer you must commit to giving your best to your readers every time you pick up a pen. No excuses, no going back. 

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#GrammarSeries – What’s the big deal with grammar?

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What’s all these grammar talk we read every Tuesday on The Sparkle Writer’s Hub? What’s the big deal? Grammar is actually pretty important and if you’ve ever wondered why we keep insisting that you follow the Grammar series on Tuesday, this will convince you. 

Imagine if we all just talked and nobody understood the next person because each person decided to go with his or her own grammar rules? What will happen to the world? Definitely a lot of chaos. 

The reason that the rules of grammar exist is to give all speakers of the same language a playbook to make sure that they understand each other.

If you decided one day to stop pluralizing anything and just use the singular form for everything, that’s great for your personal journaling or expression. Most other English speakers will need some guidance if they have to read and understand what you wrote. 

Some might argue that rules are made to be broken. In the case of writing, bending some of the rules can be a form of expression. However, rules should not be broken for the sake of breaking them. You’re not going to keep the attention of an audience if they have to struggle to make sense of what you’ve written.

Your book will first be judged by its cover, make it awesome!

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No matter how you want to rationalize it, potential readers and the audience at large will judge your book first by its cover before they open it and read the pages.

The cover is what everyone sees first. If we don’t like what we see, there’s no point opening it. We just move on. If you do not take out time to create a striking design alongside your publisher or graphic designer, your book will automatically lose a large percent of its potential readers. 

Our brains are wired to process images faster than words. When we see an image, it makes us feel something. A great cover can help your reader instantly recognize that your book is for them.

Bookshops display books with their covers facing the reader. It’s the first thing a reader sees. It is the reason a customer picks up the book, particularly in a supermarket setting where every book is front facing.

When a reader sees an amateur cover on a book, they will expect the content itself to be amateur. If it looks cheaply produced, then they will expect the inside quality to be cheap also or that there has been little or no editing, proofreading or it contains bad prose. If a reader sees a cover and has that expectation, why should they buy the book? And it’s not just about someone buying a book, but about them investing their time to read it. 

Poor designs on the other hand can be a huge turn off. With millions of books for readers to choose from, the first “sales pitch” is the cover. If it is not striking enough to draw attention, it will be passed over for something more interesting on either side.

Don’t ruin your book’s chances of success. 

What’s the big deal about creativity?

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Today, we are going to talk about something very crucial; something you cannot do without as a writer and that is creativity. Ever been to an art exhibition or a book reading? What is it that you appreciate about these events – yeah, the CREATIVITY. You appreciate the creativity in each of the paintings or the creativity in the way the writer of the book has crafted the words in such a manner as to convey his message in a succinct and striking way. Creativity has an uncanny ability to pull the reader into your world has a writer. Creativity is a transformational skill that writers should not leave behind in their writing. Make conscious efforts to be creative.

Creativity has an uncanny ability to pull the reader into your world has a writer. Creativity is a transformational skill that writers should not leave behind in their writing. Make conscious efforts to be creative.

For a moment here, we would like to define what it means to be creative. Creativity is not necessarily writing words that have never been written before. Rather, it is saying the same thing in a novel way such that your readers can see the same picture they have always seen from a different perspective.

One way in which writers can be creative is in the infusion of metaphors in their writing. Well, for those who are not very familiar with literature and what figures of speech are all about, metaphors are ways of making strong comparisons between two often unrelated concepts. So, for example, if you want to describe the concept of Love, for instance, you might say that LOVE IS A BATTLE. Here, you are comparing the abstract concept of love with the physical concept of a battle so that your audience will immediately get your ideological point of view of what Love is to you in particular.

Creativity could also occur in diverse ways such as the manner of ordering or the arranging your words in your narrative or in any piece of writing; it is using the same words in such a way that it causes your audience to see things from another perspective and if possible have an epiphany.

We do hope that this article will help you get your creative juices flowing.

Against all odds, this is how to keep writing

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We are here with a million dollar question to ask and it goes thus: Why do you write what you write?

Knowing the purpose behind everything you do matters a great deal because purpose keeps you going even when the tides are against you in the vast ocean of life. It is often said that if the purpose of a thing is not known, abuse is inevitable. As cliché as this may sound, there is a whole lot of wisdom we can glean from this as writers.

Knowing the reason you are on earth sets you off in the right direction. If you know, for example, that you were born to be a singer, you will find yourself going to voice coaching classes or a music school to hone your skill and no matter how many times you may have been rejected in one of those singing-related programmes, your purpose will drive you towards being a great singer even if the entire world does not believe in it.

That is our point exactly. Knowing why you write is magical. It will propel you to write even when the odds are against you. Dear Writer, never lose sight of the reason why you write. It is essential that you remind yourself of the reason for writing. The truth is this: understanding purpose when it comes to your writing will keep you standing even in the midst of the storms of rejection, lack of encouragement, lack of huge sales and even the lack of inspiration.

So, we ask again, why do you write what you write? Think slowly and carefully about it because it makes all the difference.

This is what successful writers have in common

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Have you ever wondered how the famous writers you admire made it to the limelight? Even more so, have you ever thought about what they had to grapple with before their names and works ever saw the light of the day? The thing is, these writers might be domiciled in different corners of the world but these three qualities bring them together—Discipline, Persistence and Patience.

Discipline

Discipline is the art of writing one word at a time until you are done with the article, book or novel you had in mind when you began. This is easier written than done but successful writers write and get the job done even when they do not feel like it. In this thing called writing, feelings do not matter. What matters most is doing what must be done. Mystery writer Janet Evanovich pulled in $33 million in the year 2012 but wrote for ten years before getting published. Only a disciplined writer would keep on writing for ten years with a name and story unheard by the entire world. Keep on writing even when you do not feel like it. Even when you feel like you are writing crap, keep writing.

Persistence

This is the art of digging the ground until you find gold. When it comes to writing, discouragement always lurks around the corner, waiting for you to throw in the towel and surrender to negativity. Successful writers do not stop digging for gold even if there are slim chances of finding it. Do not stop digging; do not stop writing. No matter how many books you sell, no matter how many people visit your blog and no matter how many rejections you get, do yourself a favour and keep on digging. You will surely find gold, depending on what you see gold as. Judy Blume, who has sold 80 million books, got nothing but rejections for two straight years. Judy found gold after two years of digging. Never say never!

Patience

This is the art of waiting for the seeds you have planted to bloom and grow. A beautiful garden takes time to bloom. It has to be cultivated, nurtured and fertilized to flourish. It is the same with writing. Whenever you write, you are planting seeds and nurturing them. Successful writers understand this principle. Give your writing time to bloom and flourish. The only way to do that is to keep on writing. Do not be in a hurry to “hammer.” Great writers are patient enough to hone their talents and skills to perfection or near perfection. Always remember, patience has the ability to bring out the best in any writer.

 

Don’t be afraid to evolve

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You either evolve or you disappear.”  Tupac Shakur 

We had to quote Tupac for today’s post! Think it’s too direct? Not so much. It is the absolute truth. Whether in personal life, business, career and for us as writers, evolution is a necessity and as Tupac has said you either evolve or you disappear. 

Evolving as a writer means getting better at what you do. 

When you start off, nobody expects you to be perfect. Nobody is perfect really. In as much as we all have our individual writing weaknesses we are not expected to celebrate them. This however does not give you the liberty to sit on your skill. There is no finish line. Regardless of how adept we become at writing, there will always be room to evolve. 

One fundamental way to do this is to let go of the pride, limiting beliefs and embrace learning. You have natural talent but there’s still a lot of experience to garner. 

This is the hardest and most important ‘mind shift’ every writer needs to go through. We all come into the journey believing our writing is good, and special which is something that is true but most times, our writing still needs to be polished.

Once you are open to learning you’d be amazed as to the number of things you didn’t know and are pretty important for your career. 

Attending writing workshops and training will do a lot to your career.

We do not know how and why it is believed that every writer must be an introvert who is only in love with his computer, journal and pen. Writers do not necessarily have to be introverts and NO we are not saddists too. You should be able to associate with other writers not just online but offline. Attend writing workshops and conferences because you’d see things from different perspectives and improve your writing.

Remember that evolving is not an option, it is a necessity especially if you want to stay relevant. 

Important writing lessons you need to be reminded of

Hey Sparkle Writers!

We stumbled on this insightful article on Bryan Hutchinson’s website and we just had to share it. It’s about the 17 lessons The Magic Violinist has learnt from writing. 

Most of these lessons resonated well with us and we think you would relate too. There’s so much to glean from it. 

  1. Write for you.

This was the first thing I wrote about for “Positive Writer.” Don’t try to please everybody else. You’ll just make yourself crazy. Write what you love and write for you.

  1. Write every day.

On days with more free time, write pages and pages. On busier days, a few paragraphs. On the extraordinarily busy days, a sentence. That’s all it takes. Just a few taps of a keyboard or scribbles of a pencil every day to stay in the habit.

  1. Don’t compare yourself with others.

Your personal goals are different from the goals of others. Your capabilities, circumstances, habits, all of those things will be different. If you’re over the moon because you finally filled a page but somebody else wrote fifty in that same amount of time, don’t let that get you down. If your accomplishment makes you happy, you did something great.

  1. Try writing in different genres.

You never know what’ll spark your interest. Maybe poetry was never something you thought to try. Write a few stanzas. Who knows? You might have an affinity for it.

  1. If you’re going to procrastinate, use that time wisely.

We all procrastinate. Don’t try to deny it. Some of us may do it more than others (I certainly procrastinate more than I should), but it happens to all of us. When you do procrastinate, though, do something else that’s productive. That means closing Facebook and Twitter and picking up a book or taking the dog for a walk.

  1. Reach out to writers and authors online and in your community.

Find a critique group at a local library or coffee shop. Say hi to that blogger you admire. Writing can be a solitary or even lonely activity, but it definitely doesn’t need to be. The writing community is alive and thriving. Make yourself a part of it.

  1. A critique of your writing is not a critique of you.

Once in a while, a critique of your work can sting a little. Or a lot. Especially if it paints something you thought was amazing in a negative light. The important thing to remember is that just because someone didn’t like something you created doesn’t mean they don’t like you. It also doesn’t necessarily mean you did anything wrong. And it certainly doesn’t mean everything you write will be horrible and you should give up now. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and move on.

  1. It’s okay to be in a writing slump.

You can’t always write the next bestseller. Sometimes for weeks at a time, everything I put on paper is garbage. I might hate my current work in progress. Nothing I do keeps my interest. All of that is perfectly fine. Just put something on paper. Hate every minute of it, if you must. The only way to get out of the slump is to claw your way out, word by word.

  1. Read, read, read.

Read widely and read often. Read good work and terrible work. Read classics and poetry, but also read children’s books and whatever’s popular. Read something short and something long. Read articles and fan-fiction. Re-read your favourite book. Read something in your genre. Read, read, read, and learn from it.

  1. Your writing will not be loved by everyone.

Don’t send yourself into a never-ending spiral of negativity by trying to please everyone. You won’t. Some people will hate what you write. That’s okay. Don’t some people hate your favourite book? Of course they do, but their dislike of the book doesn’t diminish your love for it. Your writing will be loved by those who need to read it most.

  1. Good work takes time, energy, and multiple drafts.

My best writing has come out of the projects that have been hardest for me to finish. It could take years of effort to complete something work sending out into the world. It won’t always be enjoyable trying to polish something up, but it’s always satisfying to make progress. It’s worth it in the end.

  1. There’s nothing like a little music to get the creative juices flowing.

It doesn’t matter what kind of music so long as it inspires you. The lyrics tell a story. The composition tells a story. Sometimes those stories are the hidden, not-so-obvious ones. Tell those stories.

  1. The best ideas come to you when you’re supposed to be doing something else.

Don’t necessarily take this advice, but reassurance. If you feel like your work is stale and repetitive, don’t worry. A new and interesting idea will come to you eventually. It just might happen while you’re doing the dishes or homework. Make sure you always have pen and paper nearby for those situations.

  1. You will make mistakes, but you’ll learn from them.

I won’t even try to list possible mistakes because there are so many, but you’ll make at least of one those. It won’t be fun, and it might take a while to stop obsessing over it, but you’ll move on and learn how to avoid making that mistake again.

  1. Be on the lookout for opportunities and go after them, even if you think you don’t have a shot.

I got my first regular writing position at twelve. When I applied for the job, I didn’t believe my age would be an issue, because no one had ever told me it could be. Now, I was lucky to have supportive parents who never tried to discourage me, even if they might have thought I was a little young to do what I was trying to do.

If you do have those doubts, whether they stem from yourself or others, try your best to block them out. Apply for internships and enter writing contests. Sometimes your greatest achievements come from those you thought were least likely to happen.

  1. Have other creative outlets besides writing.

It’s important to stay creative and keep thinking like an artist, even if writing is going so well for you in the moment. Have something else you can turn to during those times. Sing, dance, act, draw, knit, sculpt, sew, paint, cook. What interests you?

  1. Your writing is better than you think it is.

We are our own worst critics. Our writing might bore us sometimes because we’ve been working on it for such a long time. The plot twists seem predictable because we came up with them. Our characters aren’t interesting because we have to spend time with them day after day after day. As scary as it can be, sometimes showing your writing to a trusted friend is the best thing you can do for yourself.

You have people in your corner cheering you on, and those people love nothing more than to read what you’ve written and shout from the rooftops about how talented you are. Your work is not as bad as it seems. Take a step back and really look. You created that, and there are so many great things about it.

‘Keep an honest, unpublishable journal’ – Madeleine L’Engle’s advice to writers is epic!

We’ve seen a lot of advice to writers so you can trust us when we say Madeleine’s advice is epic. It is in three folds and we’d just highlight them properly. 

On keeping an honest journal. 

‘If you want to write, you need to keep an honest, unpublishable journal that nobody reads, nobody but you. Where you just put down what you think about life, what you think about things, what you think is fair and what you think is unfair.’

We totally agree. One of the reasons why we are lacking original content is because everyone is churning out what they think people want to read people or are copying what they see from other writers and as a result, there’s just a bunch of duplicated copies of art, content and truth. It is time writers wrote out their true feelings, the deepest, and most vulnerable. Keeping this journal will help to keep that truth alive.

On why reading is and will always be important

‘You need to read. You can’t be a writer if you’re not a reader. It’s the great writers who teach us how to write.’ 

As a writer, you must be someone who loves to read. There’s nothing more to add to this. 

On why writing every day is still relevant 

‘The third thing is to write. Just write a little bit every day. Even if it’s for only half an hour — write, write, write.’

Because in the end that’s why you are a writer, to write.

Dear Writer, you can do more

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‘Great work’, ‘Oh my goodness I could totally relate with that.’

These are just some of the kind of comments you have received from readers and you totally deserve it because you’ve done a great job. 

But can we talk? 

There’s still more, so much more you can do.  

“What more can I do,” you may ask? 

Our answer is much more than you are already doing. When you begin to feel comfortable with where you are and what you have achieved please know that it is time to reach into your wells of creativity and bring out or do something different. 

Building a career in writing is not just about blogging every day, posting your articles on social media, or guest blogging.

Have you started reaching out to other writers or are you still one of those that believe writers must be introverts with no form of social life at all?

How about collating all your poems and creating an e-book? Big deal? Not so much. 

What if you did something bigger like reach into the hidden and almost forgotten folders on your computer and finish up that beautiful story you were working on. When we say story we do not necessarily mean fiction. It doesn’t matter what you have achieved so far there is room for MORE.