Working Dad’s Tricks to Writing a Novel in Your Free Time

Pondering when to write your novel. You can’t decide when to actually sit, ponder, and let the writing flow. Below are suggestions of when to pocket snips of “bright ideas” that will eventually be in your novel.

Salesman

You’re a salesmen and work with a companion. So if he or she drives you can jot down ideas or thoughts on your notebook, or laptop or smartphone. Later you can write or edit these great ideas in WORD.

Lunch Break

You have a 1 hour lunch break at work. So eat for 30-minutes and then relax. Well relax as you write down ideas, maybe an outline or may an introduction for your book.

The 1 Hour Commute

You commute 1 hour to work everyday. The car has 2 other people. You usually talk and ask about your friends day or what they did the night before…you know small talk. Well you have an opportunity to write some thoughts down – again on your notebook, or laptop or smartphone.

Basketball Game

You are driving to a professional basketball with a group of friends. It will take atleast 30-minutes to get to the stadium. This is another opportunity to create parts of your book. You may think backwords. You may be thinking of 2 different endings for your book. You may ponder how the book should start. Write something down. Take advantage of the time you have. You will be rewarded for writing down these thoughts. You can always go back and edit later.

Shopping

You are shopping for plants and flowers for your yard with your wife. Again, this is a golden opportunity to write down some ideas for your book. Develop each character. Develop the thesis and maybe an outline or title of your book.

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Working Mom’s Tricks to Writing a Novel in Your Free Time

Trick #1: Write Longhand:

Even the most lightweight laptop is a tricky thing to take to the playground or gym. However, a notebook and pen fit easily into the most crowded diaper bag. (Always put an extra working pen in your purse, in case one does not work.)

“Write longhand while you’re sitting on a bench at the playground.”

Write longhand while you’re standing and rocking a stroller with your foot. Write longhand while waiting for your pasta to boil and while waiting outside of your first ballet class, for your 5 year old daughter. When entering your text onto the laptop later, will give you the chance to revaluate your work with a fresh eye, and fix the errors or edit what’s necessary. You’re that much closer now to a polished manuscript!

Trick #2: Get Your Kids Involved:

Experts say that reading to your children is the best thing any parent can do to bond, raise IQ and otherwise earn mommy or brownie points. Sure, toddlers and older children would probably rather hear “Winnie the Pooh” than “Mommy’s New Novel.” But, can an infant really tell the difference?

Nothing gives writers a better idea of whether a scene, especially one featuring lots of dialogue, is working, than reading it out loud. It can be an ego-crushing experience as you realize that the brilliance you heard in your head doesn’t quite match the nonsense you seemed to be articulating… but that which does not kill you, gets you ready for more editorial rejection later on. And that’s a good thing.

So grab that baby and that manuscript and read it out loud until the prose finally shines. Or your infant is old enough to start requesting a different title.

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How to Write a Children’s Story

1) Think of a particular child you know. You may choose your child, someone from your neighborhood, or someone from your childhood. (You choose.)

2) Think of that child’s problem behaviors. (You choose.)

3) Consider possible short-term negative outcomes resulting from the problem behavior. In other words, think of something unpleasant that you can imagine happening because of the behavior – but nothing too traumatic. For instance, if the child insists on sleeping in his parents’ bed, maybe you imagine his friends no longer coming over because they feel he acts too babyish.

4) Now work backwards from the imagined outcome. For instance:

  • Your son’s friend stops coming over. Why?
  • Because your son no longer has his own room. Why?
  • Because Dad turned it into an office. Why?
  • Because bedrooms are for sleeping and your son is no longer sleeping in his!

5) Take the story arc you’ve just defined, add a beginning.

Start with a happy child [unconcerned] with the problem behavior, and an ending (in which the child chooses, as a result of the negative outcome, to self-correct the behavior), and you should have a complete story ready for writing! These five (5) brainstorming techniques should help your writing juices to flow.

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How to Edit Writing Like a Professional

You can edit your book, if that was not part of your school training. Follow (carefully) the proceeding guidelines, to edit your book.

Ask who the intended reader. As an editor you will need to know, who is the intended audience. You will determine the readability level, the tone of the writing, the clarity, and the use of jargon for the intended reader.

Read the work thoroughly. When editing, read through a piece several times in order to catch as many errors as possible. The first time through, do not concentrate on catching errors. Instead, focus on getting a sense of what the author is trying to communicate. Then, as you read the piece a second and third time, start marking errors to correct.

Do a “spell check” and readability index. Use the spell and grammar check functions in your word processing program to identify possible errors. (*Note, the word possible. We need humans to actually read and proof books, because Microsoft Word will not catch all spelling errors.) These functions can point out specific types of errors. Most people use Microsoft Word for spell and grammar checks. Once the spell check function finishes, a “Readability Statistics” box is displayed.

Readability Statistics” box in Microsoft Word:
Click the Microsoft Office Button Windows, and then click Word Options.

1) Click Proofing.

2) Make sure Check grammar with spelling is selected.

3) Under When correcting grammar in Word, select the Show readability statistics check box.

While all the statistics in the box can be useful, the two which help the most are the Word Count and the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level score. The Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level score is intended to reflect school grade reading levels.

Make sure the readability score is appropriate for the intended audience. If the writing is designated for a first grader match the reading level to a Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level of 1.0 to 1.9.

If the book is to be read by a general adult population, the readability score should be between 8.0 and 9.0. This level ensures easy comprehension and retention by the vast majority of adults. Remember this is a safe range for most adults to comprehend your book.

If the writing is intended for an academic audience or a highly trained level of professionals, such as engineers or doctors, then the writing level can be 12 or higher. Jargon is permissible when writing to a specialized audience who will be familiar with this selective vocabulary.

School papers and articles for publication may have word count requirements. In general, other pieces of writing do not. Word count is important though, because readers will stop reading documents they suppose too long. They appreciate writing which conveys its message fully and quickly. You may want to edit to lower the word count.

The following are some guidelines for adjusting word count.

  1. Less than 150 words: books for children under the age of 3.
  2. 400 – 500 words (one page): business letters, executive summaries, resumes, press releases.
  3. 400 – 600 words: books for children ages 4 to 6. The word count levels mentioned here are for books intended to be read by these children without assistance from an adult. Children should be read to from books with higher word counts allowing for the possibility of growth in vocabulary and language skills.
  4. 500 – 1,500 words: Internet articles, newspaper stories, magazine articles.
  5. 100,000 – 125,000 words (200 – 250 pages): most novels.

Calibrate your review to the intended reader. If the reading level is too high, use these techniques to revise the writing.

  1. Simplify sentence structures.
  2. Use vocabulary containing three syllables or less.
  3. Use sentences with “active voice” and in the present tense.
  4. Rewrite sentences which require semi-colons or dashes to make them less complex.
  5. Trim wordy sentences.
  6. Spell out contractions.
  7. Revise a paragraph, when possible, to a list. A list, well derived, shows essentials briefly and clearly.
  8. Keep all writing on target. Eliminate rambling or pointless thoughts.

Read through again and mark possible errors. Check the following:

  1. Spelling – spell check functions can help with this task, however, look for words spelled correctly but used incorrectly.
  2. Punctuation.
  3. Capitalization.
  4. Grammar – pay special attention to skipped words since grammar check functions do not reliably catch these.
  5. Repetitious word use – use your dictionary or a synonym finder for possible alternative words.
  6. Accuracy of statements of fact.
  7. Flow and consistency of the book.
  8. Logic – make sure any argument presented is supported and follows a logical thought pattern.

Once you have marked the possible errors, research them to confirm the error and provide suggested changes. Note, always use a dictionary or online dictionary. Note references as appropriate.

Provide feedback to the author. If you are reviewing in an academic or business situation, you may have guidance on how to provide feedback to the author. If not, here is an example of how to present your feedback. This format allows the author to locate the potential change, gives a solution, and a reason for the suggested change. *If you are in Microsoft Word highlight with yellow (tool beside the text color tool). If you are proofing an actual printed document, you a red pen to mark errors. Write notes clearly, and write specific changes to make for the author.

Page 1, Para 12:
• Line 1: Delete “Not” and replace “too soon” with “later”. Reason: Places the action in the correct time sequence.
• Line 4: Replace “her nose” with “Emma’s nose”. Reason: Clarifies the reference noun for the pronoun. As it stands the “her” would refer back to the immediately preceding noun which is the crab.

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How to Create an attractive Book Cover

(A picture says a thousand words.) We have all heard this before. Research and hard work make a great book cover. A book cover is one element that usually catches the most attention of the readers and an attractive book cover makes the 1st impression. Without reading the entire book, you are able to get the concept of the story, by looking at the book cover design.

Inspiration- Get inspired! Look at other book covers in book stores or online. Ponder the main character of the story. Ponder how you want your cover to look. Find a Graphic Designer to help design the cover. Together create or talk about the cover. Develop 10 or more cover design ideas. In the end choose two (2) that you think are stunning, and will get readers reading. Finally choose the one you think is the winner. You must get their attention. You may browse book covers with or without a similar theme. Point being to find and agree on a book cover design that is pleasing and attractive. It should represent the story.

Challenge- Designing a book cover can be very challenging. Trying to summarize the content of a book on one page is not an easy task! Looking at other book covers is OK. You are not stealing ideas. You are brainstorming to create yours. You can overcome the challenge of creating a beautiful book cover. In the end you will be pleased. And remember sometimes the most simple design will suffice.

Title- Keep titles short and sweet. A title that is easy to remember is very important. Less is more when titling. Usually using a few words works best, because people are usually scanning and will get bored or lost in a long title. The DaVinci Code is a good example of a short title. Everyone’s heard of DaVinci. Be descriptive to convey the content. It isn’t necessary to state ‘The DaVinci Code that Solved the Most Infamous Murder in Paris.’ This is too long. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. This title is short and to the point. Create a title that definitely fits your book and describes in a few words your story or message. KISS – Keep it Simple Stupid, is an old design principle to stick by because it works. Find what works for you and your book.

More on writing Book Titles next.

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How to Create an Outline for my Book

You can’t write a good story without establishing the outline. This helps you, as the writer, to understand the big picture. An outline is a roadmap for your book project. An outline helps you on your writing journey. For example, when I read the book ‘Favorite Beaches in Florida,’ the overall topic is “best beaches to visit in the state of Florida” and the target reader is people wanting to visit Florida for vacation.

►►►Establish your Outline!

This vacation topic is narrow enough to be a great book and it has a defined audience that would be interested in reading the information. That’s important when you are creating your outline. If you begin brainstorming and it looks like your book is going to be 5,000 pages, you probably have a problem with your overall topic. Rethink your topic.

Once you have a workable book topic selected, you can brainstorm a few general areas that might be covered in the book. In the case of the vacation book, broad topics include subjects like beaches with the best sand, beaches with the best activities, and beaches with the best restaurants. After you’ve brainstormed a multitude of topics, you can start grouping them into sections. Underneath these big “section” topics, you can start devising more narrow topics, to form your section or chapter headings.

An outline can be as detailed as you want it to be. Create subheads for each chapter, and sub topics for the subheads. (You may do this for the subheads or keep the story flowing in the chapters, and remembering to unify each chapter, to define your story.) You may choose to have a great level of detail – for your subheads and sub topics. In some situations it may make sense. Remember your outline will assist you in completing your masterpiece.

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Time Management – How to Find Time to Write your Book

Braking Your Time Down-

First of all, determine how much time you spend doing things that don’t really matter in terms of the big picture? I’m not talking about things you have to do like dishes, or working at your job, or taking care of your children? These are important things in life. I’m talking about things like watching TV or playing online games or playing on your X-Box. In the long run do these types of activities really matter. Okay, some TV shows are great, but what about reruns? What about watching the commercials? Every hour of TV has about fifteen minutes of commercials. Use those fifteen minutes wisely to write your book!

No Schedule-

Writing does not require a disciplined schedule. It doesn’t require the latest, fastest computer on the planet. It does not require a $100 pen. It requires a few minutes of thought here and there, and then later, tying those thoughts together.

Always Keep Pen & Paper-

Get a pen or pencil and some paper, or a laptop…whatever is comfortable for you. Go ahead and sit down in front of the TV, and when the commercial comes on, write. Make this a habit, and you will see the results. You’ll see your book in print.

If sheets of paper seem intimidating use sticky notes, use the side of a paper lunch bag.

The point is to break big things down into small things. Rather than staying at a desk for hours, give yourself five-minute writing spurts. Challenge yourself not to fill several pages, but just a small piece of paper. If you’re using your laptop, it’s great if you can turn on the word count so you can watch it increase. Write 100 words. Then 500, or 1,000. Each evening, try to break the previous day’s record. Make it into a game. Most of the time the story will flow for you, from mind to paper or laptop.

Small Goals-

Let’s say a typical novel-250 pages-runs around 100,000 words. If you write 1,000 words a night, you’ll be done in 100 days. If you only write 500 words a night, you’ll be done in 200 days. You can take off weekends. This may boost writing chapters during the week. You’ll have a rough draft for your novel, in no time. Keep up the good work, and reach your small goals. Remember every small goal you achieve will assist you in getting your book into print.

Remember patience and determination will get the book completed.

Writing the Novel-

You may say some of my writing is good, and some of it is bad. I have to proof, and proof it again, before publishing. Your goal may be to write 500 words and those 500 words are badly written, at least you have them on paper or on your laptop. You can always edit them later. The main thing is to write. Keep writing and edit later. That’s half the battle.
If you find you don’t have time to write during a TV show, write when you are picking up your kids from soccer practice or from ballet practice. You may write some inspiring chapters or words in just fifteen minutes. Do you commute 30 minutes a day? Do you babysit 2hours per day? Do you take your kids to the park or playground for 30 minutes a day? During these precious times, you may use a recording device or voice recorder. Record any thoughts, and later type them on your laptop.

Make Time –

Do you have a lunch break at work? Even if your break time is 30 minutes, take five to write some thoughts, write something. You can always edit later.

Do you have to walk the dog every morning? After, no during this must-walk-the-dog-time use your voice recorder, and record your early morning thoughts. Remember if it’s just five minutes, this may spark your ideas for another chapter or another introduction.

Do you exercise at the gym every afternoon? Before or after you exercise use your iPhone or smart phone to record or write some brief thoughts. These thoughts may have different inspiration because you feel better when going to a gym or you know you’re reaching your exercise goals. Take time to assist your goal of writing a book, even if it’s 3-5 minutes.

Time exists all around us if we take advantage of the opportunity. If you put your mind to it you can write your book. It takes discipline-fifteen minutes a day is sufficient. Pick up your pen or open your laptop. The commercials are about to come on.

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5 More Ways to Cure Writer’s Block

6. Limit Writing Time

If you’re a procrastinator, this might work for you. It works for those under pressure. Instead of writing for an entire day. Write an article, and restrict yourself to two or three hours. Sometimes knowing that you have a whole day to complete an assignment or book will only succeed in giving you an excuse to slack off. You think to yourself “It’s okay if I hang out with the girls (for girl’s day out) because I have the whole day… it won’t take very long, and I can write later”, or “I’ll just go play tennis for awhile and maybe something will come to me.” This usually leads to wasted time. Tell yourself, for example, that it has to be completed by 1pm, no excuses, no ifs ands or buts. Make no excuses about completing your work.

7. Read a Book, Magazine or Newspaper

Sometimes scanning the headlines or flipping through the images can inspire you, when browsing through a book, magazine, or newspaper. Seeing a headline that says “Loose 10 Pounds in 2 Weeks” might inspire you to write “10 Ways to Get Fit”, and so on. Reading current news can also help you think of an idea for your personal writing adventure. Also, reading for fun can help too. If you love to read National Geographic. You may be inspired from a favorite article or subject you find.

8. Always Carry a Voice Recorder or Notebook

Write down or record your ideas…anytime and anyplace. This will provide inspiration as you use your notes or listen to your voice notes. It’s very easy to forget about the things that inspire us as we go about our daily lives, so keeping a log can be a real lifesaver. This will spark us to expound upon a topic for your next chapter or next book.

9. Mind Mapping

Brainstorming, if you will, and write all your ideas on paper. Write down anything and everything you want to say about a particular topic. Try linking together your most unusual ideas. Once you have everything written down, it’s easy to sort ideas into categories and find something interesting to write about. For example, write down all words related to a picnic. (pickles, apples, oranges, sandwiches, chips, blanket, basket, peanut butter, knife, fork ,etc) Then you may write about a romantic couple having a picnic in the middle of the park.

10. Meditation

Meditate. Having a healthy body is important. Making time to meditate helps all aspects of life. However, emotional and psychological stresses, of daily life, convey tension and worsen our episodes of Writer’s Block. The answer is MEDITATE. Meditation at the beginning of everyday, for example, brings harmony to our body, mind and soul. It helps the thought process. It will help the writing juices flow, and you’ll write better every time you pull out your laptop or little notebook. Conquer your Writer’s Block.

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Top 5 Ways to Combat Writer’s Block

1. Take a Break and Go Back Later

If you’ve been staring at your notebook or laptop for hours, sometimes it is necessary to take a break. Go take a walk, make yourself a cup of tea, relax in your hammock, go for a jog — do something that takes your mind off writing for a little while. Sometimes it can be difficult to write if there’s something else you need to do. Taking a break will relax your senses and provide fresh ideas when you return to writing.

I like to take a walk to look at nature because it is relaxing and I enjoy the sounds of nature like the sound of the running water at a nearby creek or the sound of birds singing. This is relaxing and can provide inspiration.

2. Try Writing in a New Place

A simple change of scenery can work wonders and spark great ideas. If you normally write sitting on the sofa in your home, why not try setting up your laptop on the picnic table in your backyard or go to a park to watch children play? You could also try your favorite ice cream shop, a coffee shop, or anywhere that is not your normal spot. This might not work for everyone, but it’s worth trying. *Note, this helps me think differently when I choose a new spot to write.

3. Write About Different Subjects

Your goal is to write a 1000 word piece on going green or you’re trying to compose a new chapter for your novel, and for whatever reason it’s just not inspiring you. One method is to try is to write about something else. Sometimes just writing about various subject matters – changes my way of thinking. I apply this tactic from time to time, when I have to write a fiction piece and it’s just not coming to me. I’ll post something to my blog about a random celebrity or news or whatever comes to me at that moment. It’s not what you are writing that matters, just that you are writing. Keep writing, and good ideas will come.

4. Figure Out When You Write Best

When is the best time for you to write. This is the main question. We all write or respond differently. Find your writing groove and write when you know is best. Keep your laptop or pen on hand. When we have writer’s block, stop and take a break. THIS IS RULE #1. Avoid writing when it’s lunch time or time for dinner or when it’s time to take the kids to soccer practice. Come back to your computer or pen/paper after taking care of life. The ideas will come to you. Again, write when you know is your best time.

5. Get Moving

Any type of exercise helps preserve memory, because it gets the blood flowing, and brings more oxygen to the brain. I apply the same theory to writing. Get up out of the chair or off of the sofa, and take a walk or brainstorm with your husband or best friend as you are pacing across the floor or backyard. Go for a jog, play a game of tennis, go swimming, or even play some paintball with your friends! The idea is to keep moving. Return after your morning or afternoon activity and try writing. You will probably be surprised to find that it comes to you a little easier. Stay active, keep moving, and you’ll be excited to write, write, write. Being active will help your writing goals!

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1 Writing Tip = Getting Organized

Ever wonder when you’re going to get the book out of your head and finally onto paper? Don’t feel alone. Do feel motivated, however, because with InstantPublisher.com you are just words away from seeing your dream become reality! And, we want to encourage you with helpful writing tips, self-publishing advice and some of the dos and don’ts within the wonderful world of writing! We’d like to provide you with a wealth of information as you review our site and contemplate bringing your book to life!

So – you have all the information. Where? Is your life story or novel a compilation of sticky notes that lay all over the dining table that you used to eat on? Do you have piles of notes by your bedside that have now become mixed in with the laundry you left on the floor last week?

Take a deep breath. Now gather! What seems overwhelming may, indeed, be a bit of a job – but if you don’t get organized now, the book – your book, will forever remain a story in your head, and not one that was ever, or will ever be, shared with the world.

{Don’t be afraid of the word Organize! }

Don’t be afraid of the word organize! Think of it as the beginning of a new, fresh day where you can finally sit back and take a fresh breath, knowing that you have just dwindled your ever-growing To-Do list down from a thousand to two. Sound good? Now, lock the door. Turn the TV and the cell phone OFF. You have your list in hand. This is your first writing job! Yes, you are already writing by simply gathering your notes and actually beginning to sort through them.

Remember – Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Don’t feel compelled to get every note in perfect order in one day when it took you more than a few years to rack them up to begin with! Just quietly remind yourself: You are only words away from seeing your dream become reality!

Motivation – Now let’s talk about next steps. See? You really are moving forward! Here is a bit of motivation for you regarding next steps – for now with some quotes for you to ponder! Until next time – keep getting your notes together, maintain your composure (you will get this done) and we’ll talk about your progress and perhaps even your first chapter when we catch up again!


Okay folks, this is a great one:
It took me fifteen years to discover that I had no talent for writing, but I couldn’t give it up because by that time I was too famous. ~ Robert Benchley

And…
Put it before them briefly so they will read it, clearly so they will appreciate it, picturesquely so they will remember it, and above all, accurately so they will be guided by its light. ~ Joseph Pulitzer

Last but Certainly not Least…
Reduce your plan to writing. The moment you complete this, you will have definitely given concrete form to the intangible desire. ~ Napoleon Hill

Until next time…Good Luck! And start writing!

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