WHOLEHEARTED LIVING - CULTIVATING A WRITING LIFE

Have you ever thought about writing a novel? It's not just having an idea, there's so much more. Here are 10 tips to keep you on track.

INTRO

Today I have the next guest in my series on Cultivating Wholehearted Living - thriving in the second half of life. Jo is an amazing blogger who also manages to be a successful romance novelist, a cordon bleu chef, takes fabulous photos, holds down a busy job, walks every morning before the crack of dawn, and on top of all of that....she is a great friend and always good for a laugh. 

Jo doesn't just blog, she BLOGS! Somehow or other she maintains not one, but THREE blog sites - a personal one, an author one, and a cooking one (links are at the end of this post if you'd like to check them out). I'm feeling a little bit exhausted just thinking about it all! Somewhere in the middle of all her writing and cooking, she's found time to be my guest today and so I'll hand it over to Jo from here.....

POSSIBILITY AND IMAGINATION

When Leanne posted her word of the year – Cultivate – back in January, I loved it. Cultivate. It has both positivity and possibility associated with it – and there’s not many words I like more than possibility. Except, perhaps, Imagine – which is my word for the year.

There were times in 2020 where for the first time in my life it felt as though I’d lost my ability to imagine and had lost my way as a writer. Perhaps the juggle of the day job got on top of me, perhaps it was just 2020. Whatever was to blame, I needed to get it back.

CULTIVATING A WRITING LIFE

The thing is though, while cultivating your imagination helps create the story, to cultivate a writing life, you need a little more. These are the tips that have helped me write when it’s felt as though life was getting in the way of writing. They’re the tips I’m using right now as I write my 8th novel while juggling a day job and family life.

If you have a story inside you that you’ve always wanted to write, they could help you to cultivate a writing life too.

1. Follow your imagination. While I read to escape, I write to do the same. Each book allows me to imagine (through my characters) what it might be like to live somewhere else, have an occupation that’s so far removed from my own day to day, take risks I’d never contemplate taking. While it’s said that you should write what you know, that really is just a jumping off point.

2. Keep an ideas journal. Whether you’re writing a novel or a blog, you need some way of capturing those ideas as they fly on by. The what ifs. On days when it feels as though you have nothing to write about, a flick through this can provide inspiration. I jot down everything from news articles, snippets of conversations, potential character names, great lines I’ve heard while watching TV. Like this one on Midsomer Murders: “Yesterday is another country Mr Barnaby. The borders are now closed.” Gold. Just gold.

journal to keep your remember your writing ideas and plots

3. Don’t wait for the perfect writing conditions – they’ll never happen. This is especially the case when, if like me, you’re juggling a day job or other responsibilities – and, let’s face it, we all are. Whether you’re writing directly into a laptop of jotting an idea into a notebook, grab every single free minute.

4. Don’t wait for the muse to show up. This is similar to the point above but also a little different. There’s nothing worse than having a day off work that I’ve allocated to catching up on the word count only to find that the words (and my mojo) have gone missing. On those days it really is a case of bum in seat, fingers on keyboard. The words don’t need to be perfect – that’s what editing is for – they just need to be written.

5. Embrace the edit. When I first began the indie author journey, the editing process scared me – especially when the notes from my editor began coming through. It’s this process that turns your words into a fully fleshed out story. Now I love that second rewrite – imagining the story as a whole, watching it grow into the possibility of itself.

embrace an editor's skills when you're in the writing process

6. Plotter or pantser, it doesn’t matter. If you want to plot, plot. If you don’t, don’t. Write every day – or don’t. Write your scenes in sequence – or don’t. It’s that easy.

7. If you’re a goal chaser a word count is a great idea – as long as it’s achievable and as long as you don’t beat yourself up about it.

8. Read. A lot. As well as being a fabulous thing to do, you’ll find it’s a great way to absorb story and sentence structure without knowing that you’re doing it.

latest reading list

9. Watch good writing. I know this is a weird one to include, but it really helps – especially if your mojo has gone missing in action. Just take care not to use the watching (or the reading) as an excuse not to write.

10. Move your body. It’s not just about cultivating a writing life but cultivating a sustainable writing life – and that means staying healthy and mobile. Besides, a good long walk is the best way to work through plot problems.

WHAT ABOUT YOU?

Do you have a novel brewing in the back of your mind? Have you started thinking about ideas that could take blogging to the next stage? Hopefully Jo's tips will give you the impetus to move forward and start the next stage of the journey.

RELATED POSTS

Meet Jo

Jo Tracey - AndAnyways.com

Links
My author site and link to books: https://joannetracey.com
My blog: And Anyways- the rambles of a hungry writer
My foodie blog: Brookford Kitchen Diaries (BKD)
My Instagram: @jotracey
Facebook: Joanne Tracey


Have you ever thought about writing a novel? It's not just having an idea, there's so much more. Here are 10 tips to keep you on track.

Have you ever thought about writing a novel? It's not just having an idea, there's so much more. Here are 10 tips to keep you on track.
If you'd like to know when I write a new post, I'd love you to click HERE for email updates.
 And feel free to share this post by clicking on a share button before you go.
Or, alternatively, why not follow me on Facebook?
Cresting the Hill - a blog for Midlife (Middle Aged / 50+) women who want to thrive

42 comments

  1. Thanks for the tips. I hope to get there one day. Who knows, I might just publish a book about my thoughts. LOL.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Who knows...maybe you will :)

      Delete
    2. I hope you do Patrick - I think you have a lot you could share with the rest of us - maybe that'll be your retirement project?

      Delete
  2. Thanks for having me here, Leanne...and thanks too for that awesome introduction. I'm blushing.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I am always agog at Jo's productivity and her commitment to everything she does. I particularly like her tips here about not waiting until the muse arrives or conditions are perfect / you're motivated. Just do it. (Which I don't... alas!)

    Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. aww thanks Deb... sometimes it really is a case of JFDI (Just Flipping Do It)

      Delete
    2. Hi Deb - yes Jo's can-do-ability blows my mind, but the rest of us could aim for a tenth of what she does and still feel very satisfied with our accomplishments :)

      Delete
  4. Jo is the perfect guest to write about cultivating a writer's life and i thoroughly enjoyed her tips. Your intro was spot on Leanne! A great post for your series on cultivating. #lifethisweek

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The introduction made me blush :)

      Delete
    2. That intro barely scraped the surface - we all know that Jo is secretly Wonder Woman - I'm just waiting for her to tear off her clothes and reveal her costume and magic whip!

      Delete
  5. Thanks for the wonderful suggestions, Jo. You are much more of a WRITER than I am and I appreciate being able to learn from you. I do keep a "journal" much like you suggest, but for me it's a page on Google Drive. Does it count if it is not handwritten? I put everything on there that inspires me. I often come back to the page for ideas for blog posts.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It absolutely counts! It's just about having somewhere to capture ideas. Thanks for commenting.

      Delete
    2. Hi Laurie - I journal too, mine is more of a diary to look back on, but I also have another notebook where I jot down ideas - plus a Word document where I copy and paste things that might inspire me down the track.

      Delete
  6. I am always in awe how Jo manages to accomplish a great deal and she does it so well. I have always liked the word “possibility.” Jo’s word “imagine” fits well, especially when she describes her motivation. I especially liked number 6. It is fun to learn more about Jo. Thank you for sharing an interesting and fun series, Leanne.xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Erica... x I'm loving this cultivate series...

      Delete
    2. Hi Erica - it's always lovely to share the love around the blogosphere. It doesn't seem to happen as much any more, but I really enjoy reading guest posts - and Jo was guaranteed to be interesting (she can't help herself!)

      Delete
  7. Those are great tips Jo. Thank you! You amaze me with all that you fit into your life, and all those books you've written! What an incredible achievement! They're good too. I've read a few (more to read yet) and have been swept away into the world you created and thoroughly enjoyed each and every one. Thanks Leanne for having Jo guest post. Have a great week ladies! xo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am amazed that Jo has so many plots and characters floating around inside her head Min - I have trouble remembering the real people in my life - let alone a whole cast of fictitious ones!

      Delete
  8. Thank you for these practical tips, Jo. They certainly seem to be working for you. I'm in awe of all the writing you do, while holding down a day job. I'm definitely going to re-evaluate how I might incorporate some of these tips.

    Thanks Leanne for sharing Jo's guest post with us.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jo has an extra energy gene IMHO Christie - or a juggling one! I'm always in awe of bloggers who have novels or other books that they're writing - I have nothing floating around in my head that would result in a book. Oh well, someone needs to be available to read all that is on offer!

      Delete
  9. How amazing to share this process of Jo's here Leanne. Thank you. I saw those red marks and words and of course was drawn straight back to having my work at Uni marked...and also being a marker of other's words.Great idea to share here today Leanne. Thank you.
    Thanks so much for linking up for #lifethisweek. I am always grateful to see your blog post there. Next week my guest poster is ready to comment...I have done one training session with him...and I will be there too. Cheers, Denyse.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Denyse - I had the same feeling when I saw that photo - fortunately I didn't get too many red marks on my work (my OCD personality would have been very stressed!) It was lovely having Jo be my guest and share some of her writing wisdom.

      Delete
  10. 1 blog is all I can manage, but this is all sound advice, particularly the part about reading widely.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I tried starting a second blog Michele and completely ran out of steam after a few months - I just don't have the stamina to maintain more than one post a week these days....so Jo's maintenance of several blows my mind!

      Delete
  11. Jo amazes me with all she does too and I just love her books!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. She's certainly firing on a lot more cylinders than I am these days Joanne - and yes, her books are really great aren't they? :)

      Delete
  12. These are some good advice for writers. After many months of being unable to focus on writing, this winter and spring I've managed to come back to it (I only write blog articles, though) and I'm so happy about that. But I need to read more. I started reading another Jenny Colgan book earlier that I'll try to get back to. I absolutely love her books!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm a big Nora Roberts fan Susanne and keep coming back to her books when I need something with great character development in it. I've also been enjoying Jo's books and I'm always a little bit envious of those who can write novels - it amazes me!

      Delete
  13. Hi Jo, I love how you managed to sneak in a quote from Midsommer Murders :) It was interesting to hear how you, as an author approach writing a book and I think that your point about writing notes about anything you hear or read would be helpful in nudging some ideas when you have lost your mojo. Can't wait for the next book to be published, so get those fingers typing fast! Have a lovely weekend. xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Sue - I think some of Jo's tips are also helpful for those of us who blog and hit a dead spot with our weekly thoughts. Certainly jotting ideas down when they pop into my head helps me when things run a little bit dry - not sure how I'd go with trying to generate a book out of them though!

      Delete
  14. This was great ladies! I enjoyed it so much.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So glad you found Jo's tips helpful Kirstin - they'll come in handy for blog writing too.

      Delete
  15. Hi Leanne, even without disclosing the name, I'd know who that introduction was about. I love Jo's books and her energetic blog! Good reminder to jot down thoughts before they are lost. That happens much too frequently these days.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Suzanne - yes she's one in a million isn't she? I think I might like to be Jo when I grow up - but I think my head might explode if I tried!

      Delete
  16. Jo, Thank you for your great writing tips. They're also useful for blog writing. #10 is important as prolonged sitting is not good for our body in the long term. Thank you, Leanne, for linking this post to #weekendcoffeeshare.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Natalie - yes, you're both right about the prolonged sitting thing - something I've been thinking about a lot lately and the need to spend less time staring at my laptop screen!

      Delete
  17. This is a great post, Leanne and Jo. I'm coming by way of Natalie the Explorer. Great tips. The one embrace the edits was and is the hardest for me. Eight books, that is a fabulous record. Good for you! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Marsha - lovely to see you back in the blogosphere and yes, eight books is just downright amazing - especially seeing she does it all in her spare time (along with several other clever activities)

      Delete
  18. Thanks Leanne and Jo, we will feature your post in the next Blogger's Pit Stop. This is a subject that I am very interested in and presently on a steep learning curve of self publishing. Your ideas are all helpful and I learn so much as I write. Especially as I self edit, I need to be objective.
    Kathleen

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Kathleen - I didn't realize you were planning on publishing a book. You'll have to let me know when it all happens and how the process goes - such a huge undertaking and I'm always a little bit jealous of those who have books tucked away inside their heads.

      Delete
  19. Wonderful interview and insight into a writers life. Thanks a bunch for the post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Antoinette - I'm so glad you enjoyed Jo's wise words x

      Delete

Thanks so much for your comment - it's where the connection begins.
If you don't have a Google account please choose "Name/URL" from the drop down arrow and type in your first name (you don't need a URL) and hit "Continue" to leave your comment.