Saturday, 13 May 2017

Writing Hacks & Tricks

My Current Writing Space...

Writing Hacks and Tricks

So these past few weeks have been strangely productive for me in terms of writing - and by that I mean I’m managing 1000 + words a day. Its a pretty awesome feeling, and if I keep it up, I should hopefully have my MG fantasy drafted by the end of the month!

With that in mind, I thought I would share with you some of the things that keep me upbeat, productive and accountable towards hitting my writing goals.

Apart from the weekend I took off, doesn't it look pretty?

#1 - V.E Schwab’s “good students get a star” method.

I imagine many of you are familiar with the amazing author, Victoria Schwab, and her most loved, A Darker Shade of Magic series (If not, I implore you to go pick it up right now) However this author has released quite a few Youtube videos on her channel where she talks about the craft of writing. One of her best suggestions I found was this:

Get a basic, month view calendar (I already have one inside my diary) and for every day/500 or 1000 words you write - you get to award yourself a sticky star!

It sounds simple - but the reward of getting a star is highly addictive. I felt quite sad on the days I don't hit my goals - especially as I feel my calendar looks incomplete.

Ultimately its a great way to hold yourself accountable to writing!

Who is this for: 

  • Anyone who loved playing “teacher” at school
  • People who liked seeing a line of stars by their name
  • People who collect/hoard stickers 
  • Anyone who has OCD and can’t stand seeing things incomplete

You will come to both love and fear this page...

#2 Writers Block

You’re probably wondering at the title, and once I explain, I hope you will also laugh at the irony. Because essentially Writers Block is a FREE app that once opened, fills your screen with a word document and won’t close until you hit your target settings.

You can programme it in one of two ways:

To stay open until you hit a number of words


To stay open for number of minutes

For the most part, I try to hit a target number of words because once you hit enter, you're stuck with the task of finishing what you pledged.

The only down side to Writers Block is its easy to procrastinate about opening the app itself. Sometimes it better to have someone take the initiative and do it for you...

Once you hit enter, there is no going back!

 Although in AN EMERGENCY tying A A A A A A A  A A A A akhsdjahs ausgoausfhafh etc will eventually trick the programme into thinking you hit your goals, but you will be cursed with shame - and you won’t deserve your sticky star!

Better to stick with your pledge, as you will soon see your word count rising. 

Who’s it for?
  • Procrastinators
  • Twitter-Holics
  • Anyone struggling to just “Start”
  • People who like to torture themselves by writing, even when they don't want to!

Today's bullet points + target word count

#3 Outlining - Bullet Pointing

I can already here the pantsers screaming in protest, but I promise, these is still plenty of creative freedom. However I’ve found when I finish writing for the day, I like to plan out my next scene so I can jump right in the next morning. This can be done in a few ways depending on the scene I’m writing.

Dialog - If the scene is centred around a conversation, sometimes I will script it out first. The setting and action parts can always be threaded in later. For example:

P - Pass the salt
L - What’s it worth?
P - My undying love and affection (window smashes - convo interrupted) What was that?
L - ...  Maybe you should go check it out

Note: this isn't my actual writing, this was just the best I could come up on the spot lol, but you get my point.

Plot Threading - When I write, I want each scene to do and capture at least a couple of things. Often I will bullet point these down so that when I start writing, I can make sure I’ve included everything… even if I don't know “how” it will happen.

Today I wrote a whole scene based around these 5 bullet points -

  • Miranda’s sister
  • Burn recipe
  • Steal Candy - Foreshadow Ajax awakening
  • Family made “Donation” 
  • Kodama Cries - Hope Gone

Thanks to these five little lines, I wrote 1286 words in less than an hour. They probably look like nonsense to all of you, but to me these were guiding lights that sparked even larger ideas.

 Planning (even just a little) makes a huge difference to my writing. It takes away the daunting terror of the blank page, meaning I can open my document each day knowing I have something to add.

Who is it for?
  • The stuck writer
  • Foreward Planners
  • Note-book/paper enthusiasts 
  • People who enjoy using pretty pens
  • Doodlers

Pages and Pages of notes.... Its so satisfying!

#4 Good old Pen & Paper

If all else fails me, sometimes I will just whip out my notebook and write whatever comes into my head. There is something very satisfying about filling up a notebook with words, even if you never read them again and just flick through and see all those pretty, handwritten pages.

However writing with a pencil (I always chose a pencil - generally the mechanical kind -because I think I can write faster) is a way for me to just spew out everything in my head.

 I actually find I write my best descriptions this way. After I fill an A5 page with pretty words, I can then cherry pick through the better sentences :)

There is also no chance of accidentally deleting anything! 

Who’s it for?

  • Frustrated, Stressed, Tearing-their-hair-out writers. 
  • People with too many blank notebooks
  • Those who like drawing in the margins
  • People who are unafraid to make lots of spellings mistakes!

*Talk to Me!*

I would love to know everyone else writing tricks and tips! I’m always on the lookout for new things to try.

Also writing is something very important to me, but it isn't something I talk about much on my blog. Out of curiosity, would you guys mind if I did more writing-ish posts? 

Don’t be afraid to let your opinion fly!


  1. Oh my gosh, I LOVE this post! This is SO SO helpful, and even though I'm not currently writing (editing a novel, brainstorming for another), this will TOTALLY come in handy! I used to have a writing calendar thing... but then I forgot about it. XD I'll pick it up next month, and I HAVE to check out VE Schwab's videos! (I'm reading ACOl right now.) LOVELY post, Sarah! <3

    May @ Forever and Everly

    1. Thanks for stopping by May! And happy some of this was helpful to you. Writers Block has been such a great app for me, its totally changed how I write!

  2. Amazing post!! I absolutely love these tips - especially the Writers Block app - and I'll definitely be coming back to them. Thank you!

    1. Hey Amy - Glad these tips were useful! And yeah the Writers Block app is the best ... although its a love/hate relationship lol

  3. PINNING THIS SO I CAN COME BACK AND READ IT AGAIN AND AGAIN << these tips are so good!! <3 I'm definitely the type who likes to see a completed calendar full of stickers (I definitely need to try that one!) or viciously plotting and I HAVE WAY TOO MANY EMPTY NOTEBOOKS. So obviously I need this post. THANK YOU!!

    rock on,

    1. I'm really glad this was helpful for you Abbiee - the star stickers have totally changed my life! I'm OCD enough that its got me writing every-day, and now I'm even considering writing on weekends, and I always take those off!

  4. These are some great tips! I'll keep these in mind next time I'm in the mood to write! Lovely post! :)

    1. Thanks Jessica - all these things have really helped me out this month. If I push really hard, I may even finish a draft of my MG novel ... only another 17K until I hit 60K! Keep your fingers crossed for me!

  5. Thanks for the awesome tips! I love the sound of writers Block... I think lol. And the star method- I'm just enough OCD I think that it might be a good motivator!

    1. Hey Greg! And ha ha, Writers Blocks is indeed both a blessing, and a curse. I generally find I procrastinate for a few hours but once I have that programme running the words start to flow... or I begin to rip my hair out lol - either ways something gets written! lol

  6. This is a wonderful post!! I love writing posts!! The star method would be freaking awesome!! It will really push me to keep writing :)

    1. Hey Uma - I really hope you try the star method, its both satisfying and motivating! I cant wait to post a photo at the end of the month to show off all my stars lol - it's really helped my word count grow!

  7. Awesome post, Some great tips here. I'll have to try the writer's block one - I've slowly gone downhill in productivity recently and that might be the kick up the bum I need!

    1. Writers Block is my life saver - without that app I would get nothing done! It really helps develop the writing habit!