My Favorite Book-To-Movie Adaptations

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As a writer, I do read quite a bit. Okay, I read all the time. I love books! I also love movies, so when the two come together, I’m usually a very happy camper. Not always, but most of the time.

It’s so exciting when you learn that a book you enjoyed is being adapted to film. You immediately start casting the roles in your head (if you didn’t do that when you read the book) and send up prayers to any gods who will listen that the filmmakers stick close to the story and not make wild and crazy changes for no apparent reason. Or maybe that’s just me who does that.

Or, you see a movie trailer that’s based on a book you haven’t read, and it looks so good that you immediately go buy the book or head to the library to check out a copy. Then you write in your calendar or planner the date by which you need to have to have the book finished. Again, that could be just me.

Either way, let me say here and now that the book is always better than the movie. I repeat, the book is always better than the movie.

Okay, that’s my opinion, but I honestly can’t think of an instance where the movie was better than the book. Of course, I haven’t seen all the movies or read all the books in existence, so there could be a superior film version. If there is, I just haven’t seen it.

With this week’s release of the highly anticipated film adaptation of The Goldfinch, I thought I would share my favorite book-to-movie adaptations. I hope you agree with some of these!

  • To Kill A Mockingbird (1962)

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To Kill A Mockingbird is much beloved (for good reason) and is one of my all-time favorite books and the film adaptation does not disappoint. The film was nominated for eight Academy Awards and won three. One of those went to Gregory Peck for Best Actor, for his portrayal of Atticus Finch. It also won for Best Adapted Screenplay. Both awards were well-deserved. If you haven’t seen the movie, do yourself a favor and watch.

  • Room (2015)

 

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This is pretty tough subject matter, and seeing it onscreen was even more intense than reading it. Brie Larson gives a fantastic performance as a trauma victim and young mother and won an Academy Award for her efforts. Jacob Tremblay, who plays Larson’s son, is outstanding as a five-year-old boy born in captivity who experiences the outside world for the first time. It’s a great story about survival and love. Just have the tissues ready!

  • Gone Girl (2014)

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This is one of my favorite thrillers ever! The book was the center of all kinds of hype, which I think it lived up to. I mean, how crazy pants is Amy Dunne? And Rosamund Pike’s portrayal of Amy is spot on. I love stories where you don’t know which character to trust, and this is an example of that done well. It was even more thrilling and intense to watch Pike plan and execute her husband’s (played by Ben Affleck) ruin.

  • Pride And Prejudice (1995)

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I know, I know. This isn’t a film! It’s a BBC miniseries. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention it. It’s a beautiful adaptation. And well, Colin Firth is in it, so that’s another point in its favor. Pride And Prejudice is one of the most beloved novels ever, and it’s also in my top three favorite books. The entire cast is excellent and the sets and costumes are superb. I know there have been actual film adaptations, but this six-episode miniseries is worth the time it takes to watch.

  • Clueless (1995)

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Okay, so this isn’t strictly an adaptation, but more like a modern retelling of Jane Austen’s Emma. Whatever you want to call it, it’s great fun and so quotable! And watching it now makes me nostalgic for the 90s, with all the great fashion, slang, and pop culture that defined the decade. And I still come across people who don’t know that this movie is loosely based on an Austen novel. As if!

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These are just five of my favorite book-to-movie adaptations. I had to stop somewhere! If you like, leave me your favorites in the comments – I’m always looking for great movies to watch!

 

September Writing Goals

I can’t believe it’s September already! This year seems to really be flying by. I have made a new set of goals for the new month, but before I get to those, I will catch you up on how I did with my August goals.

Out of five goals I set for August, I checked four off the list. Not bad! I started the first round of edits for my WIP, and I made decent progress. I’m glad I didn’t think that I could actually finish those edits in August – I would have failed epically. I did schedule two book promotions for A Sky Full Of Stars, which for some reason, I was dreading. But once I sat down to get it done, it wasn’t that bad. It’s scary how often that is the case! I printed off calendars from the internet for September through December. I made notes (in pencil!) on those print offs of possible book marketing strategies for The 12 Dates Of Christmas, my current WIP, and next book. Book marketing, to me, is an abyss of wretchedness and despair. I have very little idea of what I’m doing or should be doing when it comes to book marketing, and frankly, trying to figure it out makes me want to slap my momma across the face. But I won’t! Don’t worry. Anyhoo, I made some simple notes and some tentative deadlines, like the cover reveal date, presale date, and some easy things I can do to (hopefully) get the word out about my book. Finally, I put together my August author newsletter, which took more time than I had anticipated, but it was a long one!

What I didn’t accomplish in August was writing and publishing the final short story for A Sky Full Of Stars. Instead, I revamped that idea and moved it to the list of September goals. So, I hereby declare these to be my writerly goals for this month:

  • Finish The Final Short Story For A Sky Full Of Stars & Compile A New Ebook
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I started the short story in August but didn’t finish it. My original plan was to publish the short story on its own on Amazon, then sometime later compile a new ebook of A Sky Full Of Stars that includes the two previous short stories, plus at least one flash fiction piece. Sometime in August, I decided that was silly, and that it makes more sense to just publish the newest story and the new ebook together at the same time. My self-imposed deadline is September 24.

  • Complete The First Round Of Edits For The 12 Dates Of Christmas
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In August I started on these edits, and I need to finish them in September. I have to get the manuscript to beta readers in October, so this goal is of utmost importance! I used beta readers with my first book, so I feel like I know more about what I’m doing where that is concerned. I know in my mind that I need to have my manuscript as polished as possible, but I know that it doesn’t have to be perfect. I’m not sure than any manuscript anywhere is ever perfect! But what I mean is that I will get some valuable feedback from the beta readers and some things will need to be changed based on that feedback. Knowing that changes are inevitable helps to take some of the pressure off!

  • Begin Book Marketing For The 12 Dates Of Christmas

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Even though book marketing has so far been an abyss of wretchedness and despair, the simple fact is that it must be done. So, this month, I’m going to test out the waters and implement some of the simple strategies that I mentioned earlier. I’m hoping that by starting early, I will build some buzz around the book’s release. That’s the main thing I’d like to accomplish, but also I hope to gain more knowledge and insight into book marketing itself!

  • Redo My Writing Space
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Now, this is a fun one! Revamping my writing space isn’t necessary by any means, and honestly, I blame my husband for putting the idea in my head. For a reason which escapes me now, one day not too long ago, he opened my desk drawer, and the desk wobbled. He wobbled the desk a couple more times just to make sure it actually was wobbly, then he turned to me and said, “You should get a new desk.” Needless to say, he didn’t have to tell me twice! And if a new desk was in order, well then, it stood to reason that other new things would be too. Right? Okay, maybe that’s just how my female brain works, but I ran with it.

I told my husband if I were to get a new desk, I may as well make other changes to my writing space too. My husband is well-versed in how my female brain works, so he didn’t put up a fight. I do love that man!

I immediately logged into Pinterest and got to work. So, by the end of September, my writing space will have a new look!

I have a lot of work to do this month, but I also have a little bit of fun in store!

My (Totally Awesome) Literary Crushes

Let’s talk literary crushes, people! We all have them, and they run the gamut. I’ll show you mine if you show me yours. Well, okay, I’ll show you mine regardless. Here they are, in no particular order:

  1. Fitzwilliam Darcy, The (Reluctant) Gentleman

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In Jane Austen’s Pride And Prejudice, Darcy starts off a bit rough around the edges. He makes a snap judgment about the Bennet family. He snubs Lizzie and is even downright rude to her at the ball. He even tries to keep Jane and Bingley apart. The horror!

Simply put, Darcy is kind of a tool at the beginning of the book. However, he realizes his mistakes, owns up to them, and apologizes to Lizzie. Pretty admirable, right? It’s not easy to admit when you’re in the wrong. Then, Darcy goes a step further and saves the Bennets from scandal by tracking down Wickham and Lydia after they run away together. He pays off Wickham’s considerable debts and bribes Wickham to marry Lydia. None of that had anything to do with Darcy, but he did those things to save the family of the woman he loved from possible social ostracization. He didn’t expect anything from Lizzie in return, either.

Darcy is, I think, the most idolized fictional crush. He’s very near the top of the list, at any rate. I haven’t read my Official Handbook For Girls* in quite a while, but I believe it explicitly states that a Darcy Crush is mandatory. The Darcy Crush doesn’t have to last a lifetime, though in most cases, it does. The Darcy Crush can be brief and fleeting, but it seems to be inescapable for most human females.

*The Official Handbook For Girls is not real. I made it up. It doesn’t exist. Yet. 😉

2. Daniel Bae, The (Too Good To Be True) Romantic

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If you have not read The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon, do yourself a favor and get your hands on a copy.  It’s a great love story, and Daniel Bae is entirely swoon-worthy! He’s a poet who believes in true love. It gives me hope for my daughters that there actually are guys out there like him. On the streets of New York City, he spots Natasha and something inside him tells him that he needs to know her. He starts to follow her (in a non-creepy way) and meets her when he saves her from getting hit by a speeding car. Daniel convinces the cynical Natasha to spend the day with him, and he bets her that he can get her to fall in love with him. Natasha is already a non-believer in love, but for one serious reason of her own, she knows there’s no point in falling in love with Daniel or anyone else.

You can probably guess what happens. But the book doesn’t end quite how you might think. 

Daniel is young, but he knows what he wants and doesn’t want. He fights for them if necessary. And really, he’s a nice guy. That’s a rare thing these days. Let’s face it, for the most part, people suck. Not all people, but a great many of them. Daniel Bae is a good guy, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

3. Ponyboy Curtis, The (Good) Guy From The Wrong Side Of The Tracks

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Ah, Ponyboy Curtis. My very first literary crush. In sixth grade, my class read The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, and Ponyboy set my little eleven-year-old heart aflutter. Yes, he’s a “greaser,” but he’s not a criminal. He reads a lot, gets good grades, watches sunsets, and stays out of trouble.

When his best friend, Johnny, kills a “soc” (rich kid) in self-defense for nearly killing Ponyboy, the two skip town to keep Johnny from going to jail. Ponyboy didn’t have to run, but he did, and not out of guilt, but mainly so that his best friend wouldn’t be alone.

Since Ponyboy lost his parents in a car crash, all he has left are his two older brothers, Darry and Sodapop, and his “gang,” whom he also considers family. So he does whatever he needs to and can for his family, including going on the run with Johnny. But because he’s a greaser, society at large dismisses Ponyboy as nothing more than a criminal, but if you’ve read the book, you know he’s much more than that. Ponyboy is a hero.

Stay gold, Ponyboy.

4. Augustus Waters, The Upbeat (But Doomed) Guy

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Despite having cancer and already having lost a leg to his disease, Augustus, the male protagonist in John Green’s The Fault In Our Stars, somehow manages to stay positive. He gets off on his grandioseness, actually. Augustus knows that eventually, his cancer will kill him, so he wants to live large and leave his mark on the world in a big way. He’s funny, confident, charming, and handsome. When Augustus and Hazel Grace (the main character and fellow cancer patient) meet in a support group, we can practically see the sparks fly. It takes them both by surprise.

But as the book goes on, we learn that this version of Augustus is a facade. When his cancer returns, Augustus “Gus” faces his reality. He’s just a kid, a former standout athlete who was dealt a sucky hand in life, that it’s okay to be scared, and that he will die without having left a big legacy. But because of his relationship with Hazel Grace, he learns that he doesn’t need to leave a legacy and make his mark on the world. Gus has experienced true love and comes to understand that the love you share with another person is the most important mark anyone can leave.

And I’m not crying. You are. 😥

5. Joe Goldberg, The (Very, Very) Bad Boy

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I know, I know. I’m not sure what it says about me that Joe Goldberg has made my list of literary crushes, but let me try to explain.

In the beginning of You by Caroline Kepnes, I thought Joe was just a quiet, New York City bookseller. By the time I learned what he really is, I’d already been completely sucked in by his charm. He seemed so harmless! If there was ever a good example of “don’t judge a book by its cover, Joe is it.

MFA student Guinevere Beck (or “Beck” as she’s called throughout the book) walks into Joe’s bookshop one day, and he’s instantly captivated by her. She pays for her books with a credit card, and her name is all Joe needs to set off on a dark path.

And it doesn’t take Joe long to show his true colors. He’s a creepy stalker. That is bad enough, but then Joe takes it to the next level and gets all murder-y. Yet somehow, Kepnes managed to make Joe likable, despite his penchant for locking people in cages and resorting to murder to keep Beck all to himself. Right along with Beck, I too found myself falling for Joe even though the logical part of my brain was screaming, “What the hell?” And I’m not the only one. Many, many fans of the book and the Netflix series are in the same boat as me, which makes me feel like less of a deviant.

So you know what? Scratch what I said earlier. I can’t fully explain why I crush on Joe when I know I shouldn’t. Except to say that falling for a bad guy, real or fictional, happens to every girl somewhere along the way. It’s inevitable. And believe me, that fact is most definitely in the aforementioned Handbook. In bold print. Another explanation is that it’s just damn good writing on Kepnes’ part! I think the book needs to be read to really understand what I mean.

So, there you have it. My literary crushes. It’s a list that I add to when I come across a great male character. I can’t wait to see who I’ll add next! Who are some of your literary crushes? Leave a comment and chime in!

Hardback, Paperback, Ebook, or Audiobook?

I’ve always been a big reader. Well, there was a long period after I became a wife and mom and either there wasn’t enough time to read or I was too tired to read. But the important thing is that I got back on the metaphorical wagon. That’s the good thing about books. Even if you’ve ignored them for a while, they are always there waiting right where you left them.

As a writer, I truly believe that reading is one of the very best things I can do to hone my craft. And I think it’s important to not only read books in the genre I write but reading across genres is essential. I’ve already touched on those points in a previous blog post. So, what format do I prefer when I’m doing all this reading? Hardback, paperback, ebook, or audiobook? I think it’s great that these different formats are available. First of all, it’s nice to have options, and secondly, different things work for different people.

I have to confess that I didn’t listen to my first audiobook until a couple of years ago! I don’t know why it took me so long to give them a try. I think sometimes I just like to be fashionably late. Or in this case, embarrassingly late.

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Unfortunately, for the most part, audiobooks are not for me. I’m not the sort who can listen to an audiobook while doing another task, like housecleaning. Many people can but apparently, I’m wired wrong. I find that all my focus is on the task, which causes me to tune out the audiobook. I did keep trying though, and I found one way that I could enjoy an audiobook. Akin to listening to music in the car, I found that I can successfully listen to an audiobook while driving. I have to use my phone and listen through the Libby app since my CD player is broken, but no biggie!

I don’t do audiobooks often. It’s just not my preferred book format. Plus, I have so many physical books and ebooks that I tend to reach for one of those first. I do have a request through Libby for the audiobook version of Lincoln In The Bardo, which I’ve heard is fantastic. Some top-notch celebrities narrate, like Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally, Ben Stiller, Julianne Moore, Bill Hader, and the list goes on and on. There are 166 narrators in all, and the audiobook has won awards, so I can’t wait to give it a listen!

I also confess that I don’t use my Kindle as much as I should. The first Kindle I had was the regular one, with the screen you couldn’t see in the outdoors. A few years ago I upgraded to a Kindle Paperwhite and I love it!

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The definite pluses of e-readers are the size and capacity. The small size allows me to throw it in my purse, which sometimes is a problem with large physical books. And depending on what kind of e-reader you have, you can load hundreds, or even thousands of books onto it. How great is that! I feel no guilt when I purchase ebooks since I know I don’t have to find physical space to store them. Storage space for books is a real issue for me.

So, while I absolutely love my Kindle for its size and ability to hold tons of books, it just doesn’t get as much love as it should. Why? I take one look at my bookshelves and feel like I should read those first in order to pare them down. Like I said, space is an issue.

Maybe one of my goals should be to read one ebook per month? It’s doable, plus my poor Kindle can actually see the light of day once in a while. The poor thing.

That brings us to physical books – hardback or paperback. Drumroll, please! Just kidding.

I have to declare paperbacks as my favorite type of physical book. They tend to be smaller and weigh less, which makes it easier for on-the-go reading. And they are more comfortable to hold!

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One thing I don’t like about hardbacks is dust jackets. When I actually sit down to read a hardback, the dust jacket gets in the way. Every time I move the book, the jacket slips, so I just take it off while I’m reading the book. If I kept it on and then the dust jacket ripped, it would drive me mad! But one plus about hardbacks is that they look a bit better displayed on bookshelves.

Whether it’s a hardback or a paperback, there’s nothing quite like holding a book in my hands and actually turning pages. Technology is great and it’s made our lives easier, and like I said, it’s expanded our reading options. But audiobooks and e-books will never be quite as great as real books. That’s just my humble opinion. Yours may be different, and that’s totally okay. The most important thing is that we read, no matter the format!

 

 

My Writing Ritual

I think most writers have rituals of some sort. They may be vastly different from one writer to the next, but it seems that most writers I’ve met or talked to have specific ways of “warming up” to the task of writing. So, I give you my writing ritual.

Most days, I write in the mornings. It’s a rare thing for me to write in the afternoons or evenings, though it has happened at least a handful of times. Somewhere between 9 am and 10 am is when I sit down at my desk.

The first thing I do is pick out what I’m in the mood to listen to. I posted a couple of weeks ago that I must have some background noise while I write. I either listen to an instrumental playlist or use a background noise app. Today I chose noise. I like the Noisli app, and my favorite option there is the coffeehouse sounds.

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Then I light a scented candle. I can’t tell you why I do this, except to say that I like things that smell good. Scented candles don’t impact my productivity, they’re just nice! And this is just a personal thing, but I like to keep my scented candles seasonal. I’ve already used up or given away my summer scents, so I had to use this lilac-scented candle, which is more of a spring smell. Oops! I’m going to try my best not to be too OCD about it.

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Once I have background noise or music and a lovely scent wafting, I then pull out this book. I’ve been working my way through it since January 1.

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There is a passage for every day of the year, and so far, the majority have been kept to one page. This book is filled with tips, motivation, and inspiration to help make the writing life more joyful. Before I start writing or start a writerly task, I learn something new or am reminded of something to help make the writing seas a bit smoother.

Now I’m finally ready to warm up my writing muscles. I get out my journal and box of journaling prompts. Depending on how I feel, I pull 2-4 prompts from the box, grab a Le Pen from my desk tray, and go to town.

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I love journaling before I actually start to write! Whether I’m writing a book or short story, a blog post, or my author newsletter, journaling really gets my brain in the right mindset. After I put my journal and prompts away, I fire up my laptop.

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Not only am I all set for the day’s task (when I took this photo, the job was writing my newsletter) but I smile when I see my new-ish white laptop! I know that sounds cheesy, but what can I say? It’s the little things, people!

How long I have to work really depends on the day and what else I have going on, but thanks to my writing ritual, my sessions are always productive! If you’re a writer and have your own routine, I’d love to hear about it. Drop me a comment!

 

 

Writing Goals: Why They’re Important

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Actually, I’d like to say first that I don’t like to use the term “writing goals.” I much prefer “writerly goals.” To me, writing goals sounds like you are making goals pertaining only to writing, such as a daily word count or a goal to write for a certain amount of time each day. Those and other goals like them are great, don’t get me wrong, but I like the phrase writerly goals better. It encompasses all things pertaining to a writer’s life, not just the actual writing. Once you have written something, it needs edits, rewrites, beta readers, a book over, a marketing plan, and the list goes on and on.

So, from now on, I shall call my goals writerly goals. That’s just my personal preference. Of course, you are free to call yours whatever you like!

And why are writerly goals important? For me, they give me a blueprint for the month. I’m the type who easily forgets things. If I don’t make a note of it, there’s a good chance I’ll forget it. And I like to have things in writing so I can go back and look at it when I need to. Plus, making a list and crossing things off it is immensely satisfying. There are few things I love more!

Basically, I need to be kept on a path and making goals and writing them down helps me stay on that path. Do I always accomplish every single goal? No, of course not. Life happens and something doesn’t get done. Or as the month goes on, I find that I can eliminate a goal altogether or that it can (or should) be done another time. As important as goals are for me to stay on track, I’ve learned that it’s also necessary to be flexible!

Since a new month is upon us, I have made writerly goals for August. It’s been a while since I’ve made monthly goals. The last few months have been spent getting A Sky Full Of Stars ready for publication, and then actually publishing it. That is all behind me now, and once again, I need goals to help keep my head straight about what needs doing! So, here are my August writerly goals:

  1. Write and publish the final short story for A Sky Full Of Stars. I have written and published two other short stories that tie into my book. The first two take place before the book begins, and the final one will take place after it ends. My plan (a goal for another month!) is to bundle the short stories and the book together and sell it as an ebook bundle.
  2.  Start edits on The 12 Dates Of Christmas. That’s right! I’ve finished the first draft of my second book and the first round of edits awaits. Right now, I’m letting it “marinate” for a few weeks so that when I come back to it, it will be with fresh eyes. Notice I said start edits, not finish them! That is also for another month!
  3.  Schedule book promotions for A Sky Full Of Stars. I’ve sold a small number of copies but of course, I want to sell more. I’m going to research and utilize book promotions to (hopefully) help with book sales.
  4.  Start thinking about and planning book marketing for The 12 Dates Of Christmas. I just want to get a jump start on this! There’s so much to think about – the cover reveal, presale date, release date, which marketing tools to try. Truthfully, my eyes glaze over when I think of book marketing. I’m still trying to figure it all out! To say that book marketing is overwhelming is an understatement. At least it is for me! I feel like Alice down the rabbit hole, and by giving myself plenty of time, I’m hoping book marketing will feel less daunting. And if I’m being honest with myself, I didn’t think about marketing soon enough with A Sky Full Of Stars, which is why I haven’t sold many copies. I’m trying to not repeat my mistake! If you’re reading this and have any solid book marketing tips, please feel free to send them my way!
  5.  Put together the August edition of my author newsletter and send out on the 15th. Putting together my newsletter is fun so I’m looking forward to doing this one! I do have some cool tidbits to include! And by the way, if you’d like to subscribe to my newsletter, click the link below.

http://eepurl.com/grA_iv

That’s it! I try to keep my monthly goals to no more than five each month. Any more than that and I start to feel overwhelmed and like I might be setting myself up for failure by trying to do too much. Plus, five is my favorite number. It has nothing to do with anything, but there ya go!

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10 Awesome Writing Quotes

I love a good quote! I’ve found them useful not only in my writing life but in other aspects of my life too. There’s no shortage of great and inspirational writing quotes, but I’ve gathered up ten of them that really resonate with me. These are the quotes I read over and over again whenever I need a writing pick-me-up or a just a kick in the pants!

10. For when you can’t get started:

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“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.”

-Louis L’Amour-

Even if you don’t quite know where you’re going, pick up your pen or get your fingers moving across the keyboard. Trust in the process — and trust that you will figure it out!

9. For when you have a different, off-the-wall idea:

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

-Doris Lessing-

Sure, all stories should have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Other than that, most writing “rules” can be broken, in my opinion. Want to tell a pirate story from the parrot’s point of view? Do it. Think a book can be written entirely or mostly in the form of text messages? Sure it can.  Would song lyrics or illustrations be better chapter headings than the usual numbers at the top of the page? Are chapter headings even needed? Try it and see. Your unconventional idea just may pan out!

8. For when you want to write in different genres:

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“I’m a writer and I will write what I want to write.”

-J.K. Rowling-

I understand why the normal advice is to stick to one genre, but as a Gemini, that’s not going to work for me. My first book is YA, and I just finished another YA first draft. I also have a New Adult manuscript that’s not quite finished. But I don’t know what the future holds. I do have ideas that would be hard to box into the YA genre. It’s likely that one day I will write something that’s not YA/NA. And I should be able to because I’m a writer. But do use some common sense if you write different genres. For instance, if you’re an established erotica writer and have a great idea for a children’s book, you may want to use a pseudonym.

7. For when you don’t feel like the badass you are:

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“You need a certain amount of nerve to be a writer.”

-Margaret Atwood-

Putting your words out into the universe is scary, but as writers, it’s what we want to do. And whether we are traditionally published, self-published, or post only on our blogs and across social media, eventually, our words do get out there for others to read. And that is badass! Even writing what’s true to you and finishing a project makes you a badass, so carry on.

6. For when you need inspiration or ideas:

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“A good writer is always a people watcher.”

-Judy Blume-

Let’s face it – people-watching is just fun. It’s also a perpetual source of ideas and inspiration. The next time you’re at a concert, the coffeehouse, or a restaurant for dinner, take notice of those around you. Is one of the best friends dancing at the concert sweating buckets, while the other one looks like she just stepped out of the pages of Vogue? Does the barista have a nervous tick when the coffeehouse is busy? Did the guy at the next table at dinner just say something stupid to his girlfriend? Observe and jot notes down in a tiny notebook or on your phone. You can come across story ideas, character traits, and lines of dialogue by simply keeping your eyes and ears open.

5. For when you are inspired by your own life:

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“Words are a lens to focus one’s mind.”

-Ayn Rand-

Your own life is also a source of inspiration. Survived a traumatic experience? Been on an epic road trip? Won the lottery? Write about it! Not necessarily a memoir, which I imagine would be therapeutic and provide clarity and perhaps closure. I’ve never written one so I don’t know. But maybe you can give a fictional character one of your experiences? Even a fictionalized account of your life or something that has happened to you can be therapeutic and give you clarity and closure. I have done this and I can honestly say it was therapeutic and I felt so much better when I was done.

On the flip side of this coin, if you have a story idea that you keep thinking about and that won’t go away, write it! This has happened to me and the only way I got it out of my head was to write the story. Don’t ignore those thoughts if and when you have them! They’re likely to produce some of your best stories!

4. For when you want to sharpen your writing skills:

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“If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.

-Stephen King-

Reading is one of the best and most important things to do if you want to become better at your craft. Of course, you probably already read books in the genre you write, but if not, you should be! Reading within the genre you write is the best education of what works and what doesn’t, and it can also spark your own story or formatting ideas. But you should read across genres as well. If there’s something you’ve never written before, you can pick up tips on how to do it well. Here’s an example: Say you’re a romance writer whose protagonist falls in love with a paid assassin. If you read action novels, you’ll run across some excellent examples of those types of characters and how they act, their mannerisms, the type of gun they use, etc. You never know when something you read outside your genre mkay come in handy!

3. For when you think you’ll “someday” get around to writing your book:

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“There is no excuse. If you want to write, write. This is your life, you are responsible for it. You will not live forever. Don’t wait. Make the time now.” 

-Natalie Goldberg-

This pretty much says it all. We never know what the future will hold, so don’t put off your writing dreams. Sure, we all have busy lives. If you need to, get out a calendar and make writing appointments with yourself each week. Get up an hour early or go to bed an hour later. Do whatever it is you need to do to get your butt in the chair!

2. For when you need to believe in yourself:

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“Your only responsibility as a writer is to be true to the story that has chosen you as its writer.”

-Jean Little-

So, you’ve written a book and have asked friends, family, and beta readers to read it and give you feedback. They may point out plot holes, continuity errors, underdeveloped characters, grammatical errors, and the like. That is the kind of stuff you should listen to. But if someone suggests changes to a character or the plot that you don’t believe will benefit the overall story, then go with your gut. You have spent more time with those characters and that story than anyone else and you know them best. Even if an editor suggests changes that you’re not comfortable with, speak up! As the author, you should please yourself first!

For when you lose sight of why you started writing in the first place:

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“A piece of writing is like a piece of magic. You create something out of nothing.”

-Susanna Clarke-

Because one day, someone will be holding your book, reading a bit of magic that you created! And wouldn’t that make the whole arduous and wonderful writing journey worth it?