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The best way to improve your writing is to write.  It sounds simple, but practice is the best way to get better.  Don’t be afraid to play, experiment, and just have fun.  Creativity is an open space for writers to push themselves to the limits and see where their imaginations can take them.  

Go to fun places, go to dark places, create noble characters, create genuinely evil characters.  Practice writing descriptions of people, places, and objects.  Listen to how people speak and mimic that when writing dialogue.

And read.  Not books about writing but novels in all genres and styles from a variety of authors.  You can learn a lot from reading the works of others that can give you insight into how specific genres are written and how other authors use language to convey their stories.

Always be learning.  It’s the best way to improve your skills as a writer.

I have fallen victim to writer’s block many, many times.  I used to struggle with it happening until I decided the best way for me was to accept it at the moment, not get frustrated with myself, and allow my creative mind to take a break.

This doesn’t mean I let it go on for weeks or months.  There’s always a root cause for writer’s block.  It can be fear, being overwhelmed by the project before you, negative self-talk about myself as a writer, etc.  Ultimately, the best cure for writer’s block is just writing.  Writing anything.  Getting the process going again.  It may take some time, but I always find my way back to where I need to be, and the block gets chipped away until the words begin to flow again.

For me, it’s getting the first handful of chapters just right.  Even with an outline, it can be tricky to communicate the right tone, feeling, and pacing I want in the initial drafting process.  I will usually rewrite the first few chapters several times to get the book started with the right level of energy the story needs.

I’m a night writer. It’s the best time for me with the least amount of distraction.  When I get into the drafting process, I start writing in the early evening into the morning during the week.  I can spend all Saturday writing on weekends and most of Sunday.  If I’m determined to get a draft done, I’ve pulled all-nighters to finish.  I have a very flexible work schedule, so I can alter my sleep schedule to accommodate my writing.

I’ve always been a night owl.  It’s essential that each writer figure out what writing schedule works best for them and when they are most productive creatively.  While completing a draft is a crucial part of the writing process, never compromise your health or deprive yourself of sleep to get the work done.  

Definitely both.  When you have an idea that evolves into a story, that’s when the energy kicks into gear.  But the process is a marathon, not a sprint, and one that requires a lot of hard work, concentration, and creative energy.  

If I’m not exhausted after writing a draft or finalizing a novel to publish, I know I haven’t put all I have into it.  The energy and the exhaustion are both aspects of the process that shouldn’t be ignored and should be embraced.

I like to get out of the chair and act out scenes and interactions between characters.  This allows me to write better descriptions of events, especially in more action-oriented chapters.

I also enjoy reading sections of dialogue out loud to see how it flows.  It’s important to me that the characters sound like real, believable people.

NaNoWriMo is absolutely worth it!  Each November, I take the 30-day challenge and use it to write a new draft or develop an existing idea.  It’s always great to challenge yourself as a writer, and NaNoWriMo is the perfect opportunity to push yourself to write 50,000 words in one month.  I highly recommend it!

Right now, I seem to be in one of those stages.  I wrote many plays and screenplays in my 20s, but in my 40s, the novel ideas have started to flow.  I find myself with a list of novels to write and plan for the next several years ready to go.  I’m excited to see where the next few years take me on my writing journey.  I hope you’ll come along for the ride.

When I’m not writing, I love reading, running, cooking, going out with friends, and being with my family.

I do my best to read books from all genres and authors.  I like to switch between fiction and non-fiction throughout the year.  I try not to stick to one particular genre or author, although I do have my favorites that I enjoy reading throughout the year.  Recently, I came across horror author Ronald Malfi and historical fiction author Amy Harmon.  Both are now on my must-read list.

Variety is essential, and I recommend everyone read books in genres they don’t usually read.  You never know when you might find your next favorite book or author in a genre you’ve never explored.

Interviews/Articles

Ian Dawson’s personal experience inspired his first novel The Field

Kidnapped as a boy 25 years ago, Redding man writes book about his ordeal

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