6 Great Tips for Writers Today

Research on my iPad. 1774: The Long Year of Revolution by Mary Beth Norton

In these new and different times, most of us have needed to use our imagination for things besides dreaming up intriguing characters and compelling plot lines. When I started my prequel to my Loyalist books, no libraries were open. No historic sites were open and no bookstores were open. My speaking gigs were all cancelled with no more being booked.

My life had drastically changed.

Here are some of the decisions that have kept me sane and able to write:

  1. The first and best decision was to put aside the new book about the one-room schoolhouse I attended as a little girl. This was a new genre for me and I waffled between writing a children’s book, a young adult book or an adult memoir book. When COVID-19 came along I realized my need to write what I know and not to reinvent myself; hence, my as yet unnamed prequel to the Loyalist trilogy. To date I have over 45,000 words written and the book is coming along well. And so am I.
  2. I soon realized that as much as I wanted to be informed about what was happening during this world pandemic, I had to spend 99% of my day NOT steeping my brain in the non-stop facts and factoids being spewed my way by various media. I thought about the influenza disaster during WWI and realized we have much more information coming at us today than they did. In some ways this is good. We can learn about the pandemic, the disease, and the ways to protect ourselves very quickly. The trouble comes when we allow the negative stories to take up all of our time. Our peace of mind disappears. That happened to me. Until I stopped watching the news, started working on jigsaw puzzles, spent the mornings in my office writing and started calling people I knew were alone and helping them in their loneliness.

    I finished 8 puzzles of an artist’s beautiful paintings.
  3. Rather than focusing on the things I couldn’t do, I began to look for alternate ways to fill the rest of my day (after my writing mornings). Prior to COVID-19, I had just finished recording my fourth book as an audio book. With my technician I got the files ready to send to ACX. This turned out to be a bit of a nightmare. With my previous 3 books, all on Audible, the process was quite speedy and only slowed down when I had not done something just right. With this book I thought I had straightened out the learning curve and I guess I have but I am still waiting to have my files approved¬† and it is about 3 months since I started this. Part of this was my fault in the beginning. My file was finally ready for them to review 3 weeks ago but I do not expect that to happen soon. Another writer friend of mine says it took 2-3 months for several of his books. These days, I log in and check but, so far, I keep seeing Pending Audio Review.¬† Feel free to check out my first three books in audio format!

  4. Though I love doing library research, I found that online research could work well. One thing needed was to always cite the source on any material I printed out as I know the day will come when I write that Sources I Have Used section at the end of this book. Giving credit for others’ ideas is important, especially in this world where shysters, thieves and others try to use writers’ works. I spend part of every month sending Cease and Desist notices to people who try to steal my books and sell them on their sites. There is also a case pending in Canada where certain credible institutions are using writers’ work for nothing. This is stealing and I sincerely hope that the higher courts stop this practice.

    Pages of research (and sources) that I’ve been excited to find on the Internet.
  5. Finally, I’ve been doing more reading of other authors. My bedside table pile has shrunk considerably, to the point where I will soon have to replenish it. A lot of my books I get from my daughter who shares my love of reading. I take her books and she brings me books. That practice is difficult just now as she lives on the other side of the country and we cannot visit. Thank goodness for FaceTime! I just wish I could send her books by using that platform or a similar one.
  6. The final thing that is helping both me as a person and in my writing is that my husband and I get out in the car whenever we can. We are careful about self-distancing–I even had to hold up my hand in traffic cop mode to stop a young lady from invading my space in a busy store one day. She just had not been thinking. She did stop immediately and I was able to leave the store without feeling compromised. I take pictures with my iPhone–thank goodness for phone cameras!–and concentrate on our beautiful world. Spring came late this year where I live but has been so much more appreciated because of it.

    A lovely herd of mustangs a few miles from where we live. Gorgeous!

Keep reading and writing or doing whatever is your special thing!