How Pinterest Can Help You Plan Your Novel.

pinterest-793051_1280I was a late-comer when it came to joining Pinterest. I was a bit dubious at the thought and found it was a case of ‘not another social network’. When I did eventually join I soon found it to be quite useful; especially when it came to planning a novel.

Recently, I have been working on writing my first novella (or is that a novelette?), and in order to help me ‘see’ what I was writing, I created a secret board. I scoured the internet for pictures of my setting, characters and various articles for research. Once I began doing this, I had a better understanding about my characters (especially my protagonist) and the world in which they live. The only downside to gathering pictures on Pinterest however, is like any other form of research – it can become time-consuming. You get so caught up in it, that the writing side can become sadly neglected.

I currently have about half a dozen secret boards for various works in progress, including the novel I will be working on for NaNoWriMo this year. Just like my novella, I have found having a secret Pinterest board of great help in the planning process. It has helped me to work on my protagonist, as well as establish a time period and location. I have gathered quotes that focus on my protagonist’s state of mind at the beginning of the novel and have a picture I find to be applicable for a book cover. Having a book cover, like a working title, gives you something to focus on while you write your novel as it allows you to keep your theme in mind. Having a secret Pinterest board is a great way to keep you motivated, especially during those times when your enthusiasm starts to wane.

Pinterest has become a popular social network amongst writers and it’s easy to see why. It’s a great addition to researching our stories and provides motivation and an audience at the same time.

Are you on Pinterest? Do you use Pinterest to help research your novels? Do you have secret boards? How do you use Pinterest?

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3 Things Social Media Can Teach Writers.

social mediaLike many writers, I tend to get lost in the vortex that is social media. It can be an endless time waster, however, lately I have come to appreciate that social media has helped me as a writer in a couple of ways.

The two social networks that have opened my eyes the most are Facebook and Instagram. Here’s how:-

1. The Need to Get Out More

Instagram has been great in this regard. Instagram helps you to move away from your desk, out of your seat and moving. People don’t always want to see what’s going on at your writing desk. Get active and take photos of the great outdoors, whether it is a trip, your local coffee shop, out walking or just in your own backyard. Show what your life is like as a writer in more ways than one. Not only does this help you as a writer, but your readers/followers get to know you as a person through the pictures you take.

2. Learn to Get ‘Up Close & Personal’

As an introvert, Facebook has made me realise I need to learn to break down some barriers and get a bit more personal. If you’re anything like me, you’ll find this to be the biggest challenge of all when it comes to social media. Of-course you need to set your own boundaries (I won’t show photos of my kids for example), and only post what you feel comfortable with. Again, your readers/followers will appreciate your efforts, pulling down that invisible barrier and making you more approachable.

3. Do What You Feel Comfortable With

Like getting up close and personal with what you post, you also need to feel comfortable with the social networks you are using. When told to start building a platform, many new writers tend to place themselves on numerous social networks. I did this myself, and speaking from my own experience I soon learned that (a) being on too many social networks can become overwhelming and (b) you get to learn which social networks you like best. It’s taken me a few years, but I think I’ve finally figured that all out, which goes to show that building a platform takes time.

What have you learned from social media? Which social media network/s do you like the most/least? Do you feel comfortable with being personal with strangers? 

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Author Blogs.

There has been some discussion of late amongst writers on what content to have within their blogs. This is an issue I have been grappling with myself for quite some time now.

As an unpublished author, I have the advantage of experimenting with my blog to find out what works and what doesn’t. When we start out we naturally blog about writing, however there are so many blogs on this topic that the humble beginner can get lost in the crowd. Published authors also blog about writing; they know what they’re talking about and are well informed about the industry. I have read both Get Known before the Book Deal by Christina Katz and We Are Not Alone by Kristen Lamb, and both recommend authors blog on topic. With this in mind, I decided to take a step back to see exactly what other authors were doing when it came to blogging.  Here’s what I discovered:-

  • Authors blog about writing and the writing process.
  • Authors blog about their books – new releases, book signings, television versions of their novels, etc.
  • Authors review books they like by other authors.
  • Authors talk about the inspiration behind their books.
  • Authors discuss how they became writers.
  • Authors blog about social issues that affect them.
  • Not all authors blog.

I was beginning to see a pattern emerging; when authors blog, they talk about books in one form or another; they also blog about topics that interest them and therefore can inspire their writing. When I read books by an author I enjoy reading, I look them up on the internet to find out more about their books.  If I’m lucky, I can also find out more about them as people.  These days, people want to find out more about the personal lives of celebrities.  Fortunately, authors don’t seem to have to put their lives under the microscope, but it is always fascinating to learn about how they became writers and what inspired them. There have been biographies written about authors such as Jane Austen, the Brontes and Charles Dickens for example, because as readers we are fascinated about them as writers.

By undertaking this research, I have discovered a number of things. As writers it is only natural that we need to talk about our books (and those of others) and our inspiration behind them. This not only informs the reader on what our books are actually about, but also lets them know a little bit about our own personalities and what we are passionate about. If we are passionate about certain topics this will come through in our writing for both our books and our blogs.  I have recently discovered something that I’m passionate about just by undertaking this research – it has allowed me to dig deeper.

So where do I go from here with my own blog? Yes, I’ve been guilty of blogging about writing (I think we all have from time to time), but it is one of my passions.  Here are some of the things I’ll be blogging about:-

  • Books.
  • The writing process.
  • Specific locations of where my stories are set.
  • Topics I’ve researched.
  • Time periods I’ve researched.
  • The inspiration behind my stories.

Blog what you are comfortable with; write about your passions. The main thing to remember about blogging is to have fun! I’m looking forward to blogging in the future – what about you? 😀

Have you undertaken your own research when it comes to author blogs? What have you discovered? What do you like to see in an author’s blog? What don’t you like to see? Do you think authors should blog at all?

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The Writers’ Platform-Building Campaign.

Whilst trying out my new writing schedule of going onto social networks after I’ve finished my writing for the day, I recently came across Rachel Harrie’s Writer’s Platform-Building Campaign through Google+.

This is Rachel’s third time in running this campaign, where the aim is to connect other writers and help build their platforms.  I carefully considered joining this, as my main concern was – do I have the time to dedicate myself to it, even if it is only for a couple of months?  As I’m not studying during this semester, I didn’t hesitate too long.  I believe it is a great way to meet other writers through various social networks and via my blog.  I can read the blogs of other writers and they can read mine, so I won’t feel as if I’m talking to myself anymore! 😉

The campaign began on 22 August, 2011 and runs until 31 October, 2011.  If you want to join in and become a part of this great campaign, you don’t have much time left.  The list of campaigners will close on 31 August, 2011.  If you’re interested in joining me, you’ll find me under these categories:  Picture Books/Chapter Books/Early Readers/MG/YA, Horror, Paranormal, Suspense/Thrillers, Short Stories, Australian/New Zealand Writers.  Okay, granted, I went a little crazy, but I wanted to make sure I had all my bases covered, right?  A big thank you to those of you in the campaign who’ve already stopped by on my blog and introduced yourselves.  I intend to return the favour shortly – as you can see I have a lot to get through.

So, now I’m back to my original dilemma – trying to make sure that I don’t let these social networks interfere with my writing time!

Are You Addicted to Social Media?

Lately I’ve been spending a fair amount of time on social networks, so much time that I am almost becoming addicted to it.  Being such a solitary occupation, it’s good to meet other writers, discover what they’re writing and joining in on discussion boards.  The problem with all of this of-course is when does the writing happen?  Somehow my writing has dwindled down to a poor second place.

The timing of this post was perfect.  I’ve been reading JA Konrath’s A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing (which I heartily recommend, by the way) and follow his blog.  Once again, he gives me the kick in the pants I deserve.  Where exactly does all this social networking get you as a writer if you’re not writing?  You need to be showing that you are actually putting the effort in and getting your work published in order to maintain the interest of others, otherwise you will just be seen as another ‘wannabe’.

As writing is seen as a business, the way I am managing my way around this issue is to come up with a schedule and stick to it.  If the unexpected comes up, make up for that amount of lost time.  After a certain amount of writing has been reached (a word limit or number of hours for example), then and only then get onto social networks.  See it as a reward for your writing efforts.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some work to do.