Journaling has been the leader of the “self-care movement”, just behind maybe yoga or meditation. Writing a journal helps not only to help our emotional and mental well-being but also helps us become better writers.
Benefits of journaling for writers
“I spend most of my day writing and the last thing I want to do after my working hours is write.” Yes, I can hear you say that.
I am not making these things up. Here are eight benefits of journaling for writers.
1) Cultivates the habit of writing regularly
Even though journaling is an informal mode of writing, it gets you started. What better way to start a day or end one whichever you prefer, by churning out a few hundred words on a paper?
It is well known that famous writers like Virginia Woolf, R W Emerson, and Anaïs Nin swore by their regular journaling or diary habits.
In fact, one of my favorite writers Slyvia Plath kept her diary since she was eleven years old and often used it as a tool to “warm-up” her formal writing.
2) Get creative
The freewriting form of journaling helps to break the rules and pressure of formal and result-oriented writing.
If you want to write, you need to keep an honest, unpublishable journal that nobody reads, nobody but you.Madeleine L’Engle of A Wrinkle in Time
Just let yourself loose and just write whatever you want to share with, with no judgment. You can even add poems or haikus if your mood fancies.
Related: Bullet journal ideas for books and reading
3) Record ideas on your journal
You have no idea when the metaphorical idea bulb might switch on. But when they do, you should not be caught unprepared.
I often use my journal as a place to dump my ideas for future posts. Of course, it can be a digital diary, like I have, or a physical notebook.
Either way, just pouring those somewhere before they permanently vanish into thin air is a good way to ensure you have a repository and never having to get caught thinking about what to write about.
4) Slay the writer’s block
That brings me up to my next point.
As writers, we are constantly looking for ways to better our craft. Yet, we know that the only way to become a better writer is to write more.
Journaling would keep your writer’s block away because you are writing regularly. And you have a repository of ideas or prompts to go back to if you ever get stuck.
Writing a journal can offer a way to switch your style by writing from what you do for a living, say being a website content writer or a novelist, and ensures you have a variety to choose from.
Related: How do you manage your writing slump? (& ten tips to survive)
5) Get into your characters’ head
Whether you are working on your next crime thriller or a witty play, journaling can help you get into your characters’ heads and discover their voice.
Developing their personality and eccentricity would make their characters more interesting and help you understand their motivations for what they do.
There are several sassy dialogues that I have written in my journal, that I might someday use in my book in the not so near future.
6) Research the details
I write quite a bit of business articles and white papers and I do a lot of research and collect data. Guess where I write them down, so that they will be available when I need them?
Yes, on my digital notebook/journal! You can do this even on a Google Doc.
Even if you are in the business of writing fiction, you will need details about places, history, or even famous people. Overprepare than the opposite is my motto.
7) Challenge your self-doubt
Artists often suffer the case of self-doubt, and a writer is no stranger to that as well.
But writing a journal can help you tackle the signs of self-doubt because you getting some writing done each day.
Related: Self Doubts: How To Overcome The Impostor Syndrome
And just a flash-through of how much you have written down day after day will give you the booster of confidence you need.
Even Nobel laureate Steinbeck had his moments of doubts. But he trudged through it with the help of his diary, which was eventually published under the name Working Days: The Journals of The Grapes of Wrath.
In writing, habit seems to be a much stronger force than either willpower or inspiration. Consequently, there must be some little quality of fierceness until the habit pattern of a certain number of words is established. There is no possibility, in me at least, of saying, “I’ll do it if I feel like it.” One never feels like waking day after day. In fact, given the smallest excuse, one will not work at all. The rest is nonsense. Perhaps there are people who can work that way, but I cannot. I must get my words down every day whether they are any good or not. John Steinbeck, Working Days: The Journals of The Grapes of Wrath.
8) Up your self-care game
Writing a journal can often help us to stop and reflect on our actions and intentions. Journaling can also help you unbury your emotions and dump your anxieties and fears. It clears your mind and improves your mood drastically.
It even can help you understand your triggers and help to avoid or tackle them by identifying the pattern.
A happier mind is a sharper mind and helps to improve your writing craft, doesn’t it?
Journaling may not be for everyone. There are so many benefits of journaling, especially for writers. But it is not the only way to improve your writing or practice self-care.
Many writers swear by writing a journal and so many more who love journaling as a self-care practice. But some people can’t get into it or keep up with the journaling habit.
So do what works for you, do not add in more pressure than it already is!
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Do you like writing a journal? Or have you given up journaling because of the pressure? What are your methods to become a better writer? Let us chat.
Does writing seem daunting to you? For most people, writing doesn’t comes naturally. Here are few most common grammar mistakes in writing that even writers miss. I hope the list help you to avoid them and help you write like a pro!
Common grammar mistakes in writing
As someone who grew up with a healthy dose of books as a part of her childhood, the love for the language and grammar came to me quite easily. But not everyone has the time or interest to do that. Even if you are a native speaker, sometimes these pesky English grammar might get the best of you.
So I put together this nifty list of common grammar mistakes we tend to make while writing to avoid that scenario and the embarrassment.
1) Mixing up common words
Writing in English can be tough, especially if it is not your native language. And one of the most cruel inventions of the language would be the homophones.
I can hear your “the what now?” already.
Homophones are pair of words that sound the same, but have different spelling and different meanings. Some of them are:
- Your or you’re
- It’s or Its
- Their or there or they’re
- Lose or Loose
- Bear or bare
- Whether or weather
- Principal or principle
- Stationary or Stationery
And for obvious reasons, they are one of the most common mistakes people make while writing. All you have to remember which one goes where and you are set for life.
2) Using a wrong word
Not just similar sounding words, but there are few other notorious word pairs that people commonly substitute for.
- I was or I were
- Then or than
- Few or Less
- Accept or except
- Could Of or Could Have
- Who or Whom
- Affect or effect
Take a minute to understand the differences between them and learn to using them appropriately could save some embarrassment in the future.
3) Misusing Commas
Slewing commas randomly in a sentence is not only annoying but also can make the sentence muddled. Neither does missing a comma.
Where do we commonly mess up when using a comma?
- The notorious Oxford commas – just add one before the and when it is a series of items
- Missing a comma when you address directly
Example: Let’s eat, Grandma! Vs Let’s eat Grandma!
- Missing a comma before a conjunction (for, and, but etc) joining two independent clauses
- Missing a comma in case of appositives
Example: Emma, Anna’s sister, just arrived.
The comma rules are, I agree, generally confusing. But if you avoid these most common mistakes, you are almost there.
4) More active, less passive
While it is not grammatically wrong to choose passive sentences in general, using too many of them is a sure shot way to lose the attention of your reader.
Let me give a very simple example:
Passive: It is a young adult book that can be enjoyed by people of all ages.
Active: People of all ages can enjoy this young adult book.
Also passive voice sentence tend to be more confusing, especially when they are longer. An easy rule to remember is to avoid “is/was” and “by the subject” when framing sentences.
5) (Ab)using quotation marks to add emphasis or irony
I think this is one of my pet peeves.
It annoys me when people use quotation mark to emphasis a word. While It is one thing to use “air quotes” when you talk, using them in business writing context is just plain wrong.
It creates a sort of ambiguity in the reader’s mind about the intention of the writer. Would you “trust” someone who writes “so good”?
Use quotation marks where they are supposed to be – when you quote someone.
6) Improper use of the apostrophe
Apostrophe is one of my favorite punctuation marks. Yes, I have a favorite punctuation marks and it is not that weird given I am a writer!
And the rules regarding the apostrophes are not that difficult, but unfortunately they are one of the most common mistakes in writing.
An apostrophe mark is usually used to show possession (Gayathri’s notebook) or contraction (She’s read it already). There are other cases, but let’s not go into details.
Instead, let me tell you where an apostrophe is wrongly used
- Never use it with a possessive pronoun like hers, his, theirs. (No more hers’ or who’s)
- When it is a plural form, use it after the -s. (Example: Teachers’ lounge, dogs’ park)
7) Vague and ambiguous pronouns
Any good writer strives for clarity in his sentences. And nothing kills that clarity faster than a vague pronoun. A vague pronoun usually includes it, this, that and which.
Example: Emma told Anna that she would meet Carol.
Who is the “she” in the above sentence? Is it Emma or Anna that will be meeting Carol?
Parallelism refers to a matching or parallel grammatical structure within a sentence, much like its geometry namesake. Generally it means there is a repetition of elements, tenses and ideas.
Parallelism makes a sentence concise and easier to read.
Example: We drove through the desert, swam in the seas and living in a tent.
Correct: We drove through the desert, swam in the seas and lived in a tent. (tense has to match)
Example 2: The girls went to back to their respective house.
Correct: The girls went to back to their respective houses. (Plural form should match)
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Which of these common grammar mistakes got the best of you? Do you love English grammar and writing like I do? Do you have a favorite punctuation mark? Let us chat.
Working with beta readers might be overwhelming, especially if it is your first time. Beta readers are the test audience to your manuscript and they can play an important part in making your book better.
5 must do tips to working with beta readers
Every beta reader or manuscript critique is different but the process of their work is similar. In order to make the best of their professional services, here are some of the not-so-secret tips to working with beta readers!
Prepare the manuscript
Beta readers are not just your friends or family, (even if they sometimes are.) They are professionals, even if they volunteer or exchange favors with you, who know what they are doing.
Related: Can beta readers steal your work?
And it is imperative that you send them a “clean” copy of your manuscript. In other words, do not send them your draft.
They deserve to read the self-edited and complete version of manuscript and it works better for both the author and the beta reader to do so.
And also, ensure you send your manuscript in the format (physical or ebook formats) they require to make things easier for them.
I have heard of horror stories from authors being charged hundreds of dollars extra because the beta reader preferred a printed copy to read. I think this situation would have been salvaged if the author had printed the pages herself.
So before sending off the manuscript ensure that you both are on the same page.
Brief them about your requirements
It is also critical to voice out your critical expectations from the beta reader. This step would minimize the disappointments and more importantly, save time for both of you.
Most professional beta readers have a feedback report format and they will be able to share what you can expect from them.
Related: 35+ questions to ask your beta readers for a better feedback
But if you have some specific questions to be addressed and answered, it is better if you share it with them. This might help you to zero in the edits you make later in your manuscript.
Share a time frame
Talking of requirements, one of the most common problems in using a voluntary beta reader or use an “exchange of favors” between your critique group is the delivering within the time frame.
More often than not, when people volunteer to do something for you, it becomes difficult to enforce a time schedule upon them.
But in this case, it is necessary to be clear about the timeline because there are several other things (like revising and editing) to do after receiving their feedback.
Be open to criticisms
As we all know, the main goal of beta reading is get feedback from strangers (or not so strangers) about your manuscript.
It goes without saying that you need to be open to accepting those criticisms and it is not an attack on your writing ability or yourself. Do not take them personally, nor you have to defend yourself.
If you are using more than one beta reader (and you probably should), collect the feedback from all of them in an orderly fashion. Create a master list of all comments and work through them one by one.
Related: Choose the ideal beta reader: Qualities to look for
That being said, you needn’t accept every suggestions or criticism of every beta reader you engage. It is usually better to trust your instinct when you are not convinced with their reasoning.
Send in feedback
Do not forget to thank your beta reader for their services, and return the favor if need be. You can ask them for a quote about the book to use in your book marketing, and most readers would be happy to see their name in “print”.
In case of a professional or even some volunteer beta readers, a testimonial or a review of their services would be appreciated.
Also if you are taking part in an exchange of critiques with your writing group or another author, do send in your beta reading report of their manuscript as agreed upon.
Treat your beta reader in a respectful and professional manner. And your relationship with them can make your book better and more successful.
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Have you worked with beta readers before? Or have you acted as one yourself? Let us know about your beta reader experiences in the comments.
Finding a beta reader for hire to provide a critical and honest feedback is an integral part of your publishing journey. And that might sound a bit overwhelming, especially if this is your first time.
Why do you need beta readers?
Every writer wants and hopes his new manuscript to be a masterpiece. They put their best efforts into it and are ready to launch it into the world for readers and publishers. They might not know how it will be received by their target audience.
And here comes the tricky part, finding someone who volunteers to read your finished manuscript and provide an honest feedback about it.
Without using a beta reader you might be missing out on a chance to have a trial run of having your book read by a reader, even before it is out of your hands – and thereby giving you a chance to edit it out, if needed.
Qualities to look for in a beta reader
Here are a few pointers to look out for when choosing your next beta reader.
Finding a beta reader
Finding beta readers who are knowledgeable and trustworthy might prove to be difficult, especially if you are working on a deadline. So here are some places where you can start when you look for manuscript critiquing or beta read services and even some volunteer beta readers.
More often than not, your writing group – be it local or online, would offer critiquing services. Or better, make friends with the other writers in the group and you can swap reviews between yourselves.
Some of the places to get started are as below:
Some communities may have restrictions on the number of pieces you submit for reviewing.
Goodreads groups are often a great place for finding beta readers and even critique partners. Some of the famous groups are:
You can also search for beta readers on your Twitter or Facebook. There quite a number of Facebook groups for the writing community, who also help finding a critiquing partner for yourself.
Be when choosing your ideal beta reader – someone that will work for you. You might wanna read about the safety of your manuscripts when they are sent out for beta reading.
Your author website
Another option is to call for beta readers on your website and your newsletters.
If you are a published author and have a sizeable following already, there might a few volunteer beta readers who might be interested in your next MS.
Hire from Upwork or Fiverr
While there is always an option to hire beta readers from freelance portals like Upwork or Fiverr, exercise maximum caution when it comes to checking their credentials.
Working with beta readers
Before you choose and hire a beta reader, be explicitf about what you are looking for and explain your working style. Usually I follow these
- Send a copy of your blurb/synopsis of the plot to ensure you are a good fit.
- Establish a deadline. Usually I take around 3-4 weeks.
- Send them the copy of your MS in their preferred format.
- Discuss their feedback and clarify if needed. Ask a lot of questions.
- You can also send a questionnaire for your beta reader to answer.
Once you receive the feedback from all your beta readers, implement only the changes that you want to. At the end of the day, it is still YOUR book.
Also, do not forget to be grateful for the time and effort poured in by the beta readers. Good beta readers are your best defense against bad writing.
Having some experienced beta readers in your kitty and implementing changes based on their feedback will go a long way in making your good story into a best selling one.
Have you ever worked with a beta reader? What is on your top list of where to find beta readers? What are your tips for Finding a beta reader? Let us talk.
Social media for authors is critical! The size of your social media presence of an author, especially if you are self published, can make a huge difference in your book promotion. Using it effectively to connect and engage your readers, fellow writers and and the publishing community as a whole, can go a long way in your marketing campaign.
Let us talk about a few things to remind yourself to make social media for authors and writers more successful.
Social media for authors
Don’t make it all about you!
Unlike your personal social media accounts, your author profile accounts shouldn’t revolve around you and your personal tastes. Sharing current writing/reading updates aside, try to share content from other sources, not just Amazon links to your books.
Talking about the causes that are passionate to you is great on social media but try to keep your author pages professional and to the point.
Another great way to increase your followers and keep them hooked is host awesome giveaways. There is a huge market for bookish merchandise like bookmark, pins and posters. And of course signed copy is truly cherished.
Instagram and Twitter are great choices to run giveaways due to the presence of a large number of readers.
Be smart about social media usage
Ensure you are not spending too much time over social media – time that you can be using for writing or editing your next book. Scheduling posts for a week can reduce your work load by half.
For example, Twitter lists help you to curate similar accounts into group and organize your followers better. You can even subscribe to someone else’s public list.
Interesting and useful bio
Your bio is the first thing that a new or potential follower would be looking at. It often acts as a resume and an ad for yourself. It should provide a glimpse of who you are as a person and why they should follow/subscribe to your account or channel.
Do not try too hard to be funny or smart. It more often than not, backfires.
Don’t read reviews
Call this as a word of caution or request from a book blogger/ reviewer, but do yourself (and others, too) a favor and avoid reading reviews of your own book.
While it is nice and essential to engage with reviewers and bloggers during your book promotion, it is not fair when authors read the reviews and discuss about it to the reviewer. The reviews are usually written for the readers and other bloggers – not authors!
Another exciting step towards getting your book published is getting noticed by literary agents and publishing companies. And pitching events on social media, especially on Twitter, could make your chance.
Basically, these events are like “the Voice” but for authors. If your manuscript get selected, you get mentored by experienced authors and agents. #PitMad, #Pitchwar, #DVPit, are all good places to start!
Get involved Community
Social media is a platform for you to finally get involved with your own peers and readers. And that can happen only when you stop lurking and put yourself out there.
Give writing tips and advice. Answer questions and polls, even AMAs (Ask Me Anything). Engage with peers and fans. Share interesting articles and follow your favorites.
#WritingCommunity and #indieauthor are great places to meet your fellow writers. Maybe you will find next best friend right there.
Last but not the least, try to be consistent in your goal and content plan. Posting for a few days and then disappearing for the next few weeks is not going to help anyone.
Consider this as a groundwork for your book promotion and more importantly, for the emotional connections you will need. It is a time taking project and will sometime eat too much of your time. But it is indispensable!
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Which social media platforms you can’t do without? What do you think are the biggest pain points when it comes to social media for authors? What do you do to increase your following? Let us talk.
Finding your ideal beta reader might seem to be daunting task, especially if it were your first time using the services of a professional beta reader. Let us talk about some of the qualities that you might want to look while you choose the ideal beta reader for your next manuscript.
Choose the ideal beta reader
While it is true that finding a good beta reader is important, the success of the partnership largely depends on finding someone who is the best fit for you and your manuscript. Here are a few qualities that may seem vital in choosing your next beta reader for your MS.
Do they belong to your target audience?
Ideally your beta reader should fall into the demographic of your target audience in terms of age, gender, interest etc. Or someone who is capable of putting themselves in those specific shoes for you, hypothetically.
For example, if you are writing a middle grader story with a strong female, your best beta reader should be a female, middle grader or someone who is capable of responding from the point of view of a middle grader.
If your book is about a special field (say a sci-fi about volcano and geothermal stuff) or set in an exotic location, you may have to narrow your search to that. It would be great to have two beta readers – one a specialist and a non specialist.
Are they regular readers themselves?
It goes without saying that a good beta reader should be a voracious reader of different genres. And even if they don’t specifically enjoy reading the genre you are writing in, they should be able to appreciate it.
If it is possible take look at some of the book they have reviewed in the past on their blog or on Goodreads and make sure their style will suit your needs.
Are they publishing savvy?
Your next beta reader should be savvy enough to know what makes a well written book great in terms of writing, credibility and marketability.
They should have both good instincts and knowledge of the present publishing scene to suggest relevant changes for your manuscript. They should know what appeals to the mass market and your target readers alike.
To ensure your beta reader hits all these notes, it is probably a safe bet to find out your next beta reader through recommendations and referrals. At least go through the testimonials from the past and present clientele.
Do they know what is expected of them?
A good beta reader should know what type of suggestions and opinions would matter to you, aka an author. They should be honest and opinionated but at the same time they should ensure those criticisms/opinions are valid and relevant.
While catching typos and grammatical errors maybe helpful, that is not their job nor it is vital at this stage. For example, they should be telling you if the narrative voice was interesting enough, but not about the high school grammar.
Do you prefer they were writers themselves?
I know many authors use their peers to get their manuscripts beta read, and that is wonderful. But I would suggest looking for strangers, who are not writers themselves or a professional beta reader.
A fresh set of eyes would always bring in newer perspective to your manuscript . Also you need not worry about them using your unique ideas themselves or them attempting to help you by “fixing” your book.
A professional beta reader would at best tear open the book for plot holes and weaknesses and would help you rebuild them, as a reader. Not as a writer, which would still be you.
Are they too close to you?
Your ideal beta reader should preferably not be someone who is too close to you – like your partner, mother or a close friend, for many a reasons.
Are they regular readers who are publishing savvy? Are they bringing in a fresh pair of eyes or have they read your other writing and have an idea about your style already? Would they be brutally honest about their reading experience? And would you and your relationship be alright, if they tear your book apart and criticize it?
Were you able to think of two or three specific people who would tick off these boxes? Then you have got your dream team of beta readers. And if you still have a spot left on your team, you can take a look at hiring me as your beta reader.
And here are some testimonials from past and present clientele to tell you how I can be your ideal beta reader.
Here are some more posts on the topic
Let us chat
What do you think as the qualities of a good beta reader? How do you choose the ideal beta reader for your manuscript? And readers, let me know if you have the qualities of an idea beta reader? Let’s talk.