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Articles tagged "writing"
Maybe it’s because I live in a city filled with distracting noises — car horns, drilling, and shouting — but whenever I sit down to write, I immediately put on my headphones. Suddenly, the world evaporates, and all that is left is the screen, with my words slowly trekking across it, and whatever music I’ve chosen as the tempo. Mostly it’s something ethereal and ambient, Brian Eno or Steve Reich, but other times, when I’m trying to work through a really difficult section, or simply wanting to motivate myself, I put on something faster and more defined, like Outkast or LCD Soundsystem.
Obviously, each person’s musical preference is specific to his or her own taste, and what you want to listen to while you write might be entirely different than what you’d dance to. But how does music affect your writing in general? Do you find yourself more productive when listening to music, or more easily distracted and prone to losing yourself in someone else’s art and not your own?
A 2011 study found that listening to music dramatically increases brain function. A researcher on the study said, “Our results show for the first time how different musical features activate emotional, motor and creative areas of the brain.” However, others disagree. Geekpreneur notes: “The bottom line is that music always replaces thoughts. When you’re doing mechanical tasks — even if those tasks involve implementing creative ideas you’ve already thought of — music can be pleasant and helpful. When you need to think, though, the only sounds you should be able to hear are those of your own inner voice.”
Perhaps as more and more novels find a home on eBook, and writers begin to incorporate more media into what they write, eBooks will come with playlists that inform the story, or even let the reader in on what writers were listening to as they wrote. In that case, let’s get it started!
Post your favorite writing playlist in the comments section, and let the world in on what gets you in the creative mindset.
Michael Crichton once said of revising, “Books aren’t written. They’re re-written.” As any of us who have slogged through draft after draft knows, he’s entirely on the mark, and it’s what you do during the rounds of revisions that make your book closer to finally being finished.
Editors at traditional houses work extensively with writers on everything from a book’s plot and character to title and cover design. After a book is acquired, the author will receive an extensive, pages-long editorial letter that is not for the faint of heart. It outlines a number of changes that will need to be made, thus kicking off a long revision period that ultimately ends with publishing as much as 18 months later.
As an author using an open-publishing platform, you have more flexibility in accepting or rejecting where you want the story and characters to go, and you don’t have to wait nearly two years to hold a copy of your book in your hands.
Selling your self-published book through Lulu and other online outlets feels good. Your book is now available to anyone, anywhere in the world just by downloading or ordering it through the Internet. But there might be something missing. What about being able to eagerly browse the shelf at your local independent bookstore and coming across your book there?
Independent bookstores have considerable trouble stocking self-published titles. First, they’re not often able to sell the book back to the self-publisher if the product doesn’t sell. As such, bookstores need to be pretty sure the book is going to be purchased before they buy it.
Quick, look at your back cover. If there’s a big blank space there, you probably need to write your author biography. This is not the time to be shy; your author biography, while only a few sentences long, can have a huge impact on the success of your book and you as an author.
Consider your audience; what do your readers want to know? Keep your information relevant to the book’s subject and your audience. If you’re writing children’s books, leave out the fact that you started your own tax firm at age 19, and vice versa; if your books are about preparing your own small-business taxes, don’t mention that your two Shih-tzus are named Jingles and Meriwether.
Elements to include:
- Education. Where did you get your advanced degree(s)? If you don’t have a lot of other career or writing experience, name-dropping your university helps show qualification.
- Experience with the subject. Tell us how you became an expert, or how you’ve recently used your expertise.
- Previous publications/writing experience. Were you published in the New York Times? Fantastic! If this is your first book, you might mention it briefly, but only if you have room after all of your more important information. Otherwise, you can simply state what you are in vague terms: novelist, writer, poet, etc.
- Other ways to find you. Do you blog? Have a podcast? Write regular articles for a popular site? Include other ways for readers to find your work or contact you directly, if you wish.
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There, their and they’re… it’s almost as intimidating as lions, tigers and bears! But no worries – Lulu to the rescue! Consider this poster a gift for our lovely writers. It’s just a few helpful grammar reminders.
A Gift from Our Grammar Geeks
Click on the image for the downloadable PDF version. Be sure to “fit to page” when you print.
As an author trying to complete a third book, I have to admit that one of the hardest things this time around has been avoiding digital distractions like: Facebook, Twitter, IM, Email, Angry Birds, DVR’d Shows, Skype, etc, etc, etc.
Chances are you may have seen the following cartoon image of a man sitting in front of a typewriter trying to finish a research paper. A short distance away from him is THE INTERNET with its bright lights, a girl in a bikini, dinosaur, two fighter jets and a birthday cake. The image highlights an experience many of us have felt at one time or the other when trying to write – namely, the Internet’s ability to be highly distracting and totally awesome!
There is currently a great deal of debate on the impact the Internet has on our ability to focus, with authors like Nicholas Carr and Cathy N. Davidson offering different perspectives on the issue. Whether the Internet is truly making it harder for us to concentrate on a single task is arguable. I can say, however, that I’ve wasted plenty of hours on the Internet while trying to “write.”
So what is an author to do when the multitude of distractions constantly “lurks behind your screen, one alt-tab away from your word-processor?” Blogger, journalist, and Lulu author Cory Doctorow addresses this question in a column for LOCUS online entitled “Writing in the Age of Distraction.” As a prolific writer whose job dictates almost constant access to the web, Doctorow outlines techniques he’s used for years to help manage one’s need to access the Internet while having to write. I highly recommend Doctorow’s column to anyone who has felt distracted while trying to write.
Doctorow’s full column can be viewed here.