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If you’ve spent any time hanging around fiction writing circles you’ll know there’s what seems an uncrossable divide between two different types of writers.

That divide is whether fiction writers outline and plan their books in advance of their writing (plotters); or whether these writers apply the seat of their pants to the seat of their chairs and ‘make it up as they go along’ (pantsers).

There doesn’t seem to be this kind of divide for non-fiction writers. …

Analysis of The Film Version of Harry Potter 1 For Writers And Screenwriters

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In ‘The Writer’s Journey’ Chris Vogler lays out his 12 step reworking of Joseph Campbell’s Monomythic story pattern. And although Vogler aligns those 12 steps with a traditional, 3 Act structure he also clearly spells out that the Hero’s Journey is a guide, not a rigid formula. And that some steps can be out of order. Or some steps can be missing entirely.

The first Harry Potter film — Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone — is an interesting story to analyse using Vogler’s version of the…

Create (and maintain) An Idea Bank

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Read any book on writing, or listen to interviews with writers, and you’ll find that one of the most commonly asked questions you get if you write regularly is this: where do you get your ideas?

Whenever anyone asks me — not that it happens regularly, but it does happen occasionally — I use a variation of a line I unashamedly ripped off from American SF author Harlan Ellison.

I tell the questioner that there’s a second hand book shop in a side street in Oxford where they sell ideas in recycled plastic bags.

The Power Of Outlines

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Imagine this: you’ve inherited a nice piece of land in a prime location and you want to build yourself a beautiful house. So you arrange for your local builders to start work and order truckloads of bricks, blocks, cement, timber, nails and screws and the other building supplies your guys will need.

And you leave them to it.

Would you be surprised then, a week later when you visit, that the only progress is that the bricks and blocks have been stacked in an orderly pile, that the timber has been laid out in set lengths…

Adopt A Professional Mindset

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Imagine this: it’s winter. (And winter is ALWAYS coming.)

There’s a foot of snow on the roof. It’s below freezing. Your boiler has packed up and there’s no heating in the house. The emergency plumber is staring at said packed up boiler with a frown.

“So can you fix it?” you ask.

The emergency plumber scratches his forehead and says: “Maybe….but not today.”

The plumber needs parts, you think. The plumber needs tools, you think. The plumber needs a new boiler, you think.

Instead the plumber says: “I’ve got Plumber’s Block.”

In this scenario you’d probably…

…by writing in their ‘dead time.’

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“How do you find the time and energy to write when you’re writing on a ‘part time’ basis when you’ve got a full time job? And other commitments like friends and family.”

This is a question some of you probably have on a regular basis. I received this question from a subscriber on one of my email lists.

This is a question I had to answer for myself because my online bass guitar website had grown from something that I did for three or four hours a day (which left plenty of time for…

The Seven Step “Starts With A Tweet” Method

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Which of these two scenarios would you prefer: (I) a library of content created according to what you think people want to read; (ii) a library of content created in response to demand of what people want to see and read?
The second option would be my choice.

The natural questions that follow are how do you create such a library? And how can you do it by starting with a tweet?

Let’s dive in.

#1. Start With A Tweet

Here’s a screen capture of the tweet that led to this story:

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If you want to get better at writing — or any discipline — you need to understand how to use deliberate practice.

Read these three books — in this order — to begin this process:

#1 Peak by Anders Ericsson

Ericsson spent his life working on understanding how people become talented and codified theprinciples of deliberate practice. Peak explores this. It’s a general book rather than being specific. Read this. Take notes.

#2 Talent Is Overrated by Geoff Colvin

Colvin’s book was published 10 years or so before Peak and introduced me to Ericsson’s work. Colvin approaches deliberate practice from…

Find yours , nurture it, protect it.

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I learned about the concept of the “golden hour” from science fiction writer Steven Barnes. The golden hour is something that every writer needs to carve out every day and protect ruthlessly.

The characteristics of a golden hour are:

  1. An hour where the ONLY activity you are going to do is writing. No email. No internet. No social media. And if you have a phone…turn it off.
  2. Ruthlessly protecting it means that if you live with family and friends you tell them when your golden hour is and make sure they understand that…

Or: how to break a non fiction book into easy to write, micro sections

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Atomic essays are designed to be brief. 250 to 300 words max. Part of the attraction for writers is the brevity.


When I came across this concept, my first thought was:

If you wrote 100 atomic essays on a linked topic, you could bundle them together into a book.

Second thought was:

That’s The ‘War Of Art’ by Steven Pressfield.

Here’s what Story Grid maestro and the genius editor from the headline Shawn Coyne had to say about the origins of The War Of Art:

Paul Wolfe

Writer. Deliberate Practice. Hero’s Journey. Flow. Open for gigs.

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