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My Writing Must-Haves


Okay, so it’s a little over halfway through the month, and I find myself actually getting things done.

No. Really. I’m surprised, too. I’ve read a book, edited an old book, began editing another one, beta-read for my author friends, all while working. Whew. I broke out a sweat just writing that. Ew.

But I’m not really here to sing my praises (though that’s pretty impressive for me), I did want to share some things that have been helping me through this month. Since the beginning of the new year, I’d tacked on “learn more about the craft or writing” to my list of resolutions/goals. I wanted to share some of the things that have been helping me along with you guys, in case you’re looking for inspiration as well!

To kick us off, I’m going to start with a site called Udemy (do I have to say non-sponsored? We all know I’m not getting any monetization). A lot of people rant and rave about Skillshare, which I’ll admit I haven’t looked into much, because I’ve found Udemy. There’s an entire array of courses on Udemy, but the ones I target are the ones based in self-publishing, creative writing, and entrepreneurship—courses that will help me grow in my craft of writing. I think the courses run anywhere from $7-$15 when there’s a sale (and guys, there’s almost always a sale) so I just catch them at the right time, and they’re well worth it.

Compared to going to college for Creative Writing—which is totally okay, I’m just a severely broke teenager—this is a good alternative for me.

One that I’m working on right now is called the World Building Workshop for Fantasy Writing, and it’s very detailed and helpful!

Another thing that I’ve gotten into browsing through is the Authortube platform. If I’m going to be honest with you, and I always am, I had no clue that this was a thing until NaNoWriMo 2018. Seriously. I knew Booktube was a little corner of YouTube, though I never ventured much into it, but a whole slew of youtubers who were authors? Uhh, sign me up! A few that I’ve really enjoyed are Sarra Cannon, Kristen Martin, and Vivien Reis. Sometimes I had to dig to find videos that pertained to my struggles, but hearing them go through their writing process was beyond helpful. Seriously.

I’m going to cringe at this next one, because I literally hate myself for it. (Okay, well, hate might be a strong word, but I’m extremely angry with myself…does that sound better? No, it just sounds weirder. Meh.) For the entirety of 2018 I read two new books. TWO. T W O. HOW?

I re-read books that I’ve read nearly a million-jillion times, but last year, I only read two brand new books. Restore Me by Tahereh Mafi and then Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare, which literally came out in December. So for almost the entire year of 2018, I read one brand new book.

I am appalled with myself.

But in 2019 so far, I’ve read three books, two in the genre I’m writing in and one a non-fiction book, and omigosh has it been helping. What the heck was I doing last year? Wasting time. Resources. My brain cells. My brain cells were literally shriveling up and dying because no new literature was coming into my brain, and what did I do?

Twiddle.

My.

Thumbs.

I have changed my name to Sarah Despicable Sutton. It fits.

Something else that I’ve done, which I believe has improved my writing, is to have a ‘throwaway’ novel. I use the term throwaway as something lose, yeah? Let’s bring something in to reference. Last year, while working on my novel, HITTING A HOME RUN, I was stressed. I was biting my nails, not sleeping, seeing strange shadows lurk in my closet—wait what?—and I just needed an out. I didn’t want to totally leave that manuscript in the dust, but I needed somewhere to redirect my thoughts.

Enter my WIP, HERE IN THE FOREST. I just started randomly scribbling down scenes that would relieve my brain of the pressure, and soon it turned into a full-on novel! It has nearly 600 hearts on Quotev (I know, I’m not really on this Wattpad train yet) and people loved it! And this was originally a story that was ‘throwaway’, bogus, not anything serious. This has been the biggest help. If I’m writing too much in a particular book and I’m feeling stuck, I let my brain wander a bit in a different manuscript, and then move back.

Sounds pretty counterintuitive, but I swear it works.

Kind of like how that stupid Comic Sans thing works. It does. And I hate it.

These aren’t new methods by any means, and these aren’t the magic CURE ALL, YOUR TROUBLES MELT AWAY WOW but this does work for me, and I wanted to share my process with you guys.

What’s helped you in YOUR writing process? Are there any things that you turn to when you’re feeling stuck or want to learn more about the craft of writing?

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Sarah Sutton

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