FAQ: Traditional Publishing vs. Self-Publishing

When I first considered publishing, I didn’t have much guidance. I was basically told, “Hey, just Google it.” Well, Google is indeed a wonderful tool, but sometimes, you need something a little more direct to give you the answers you want and need. From my experience interacting with various writer groups as well as indie author communities, I’ve learned that one of the most common sources of confusion is in regards to self-publishing vs. traditional publishing.

Now, I’ve covered these two aspects in a previous blog post, but I figured people don’t want to read a long, drawn-out explanation of the differences, so I’ve decided to create this easy-to-digest FAQ section to give indie writers a better resource on which direction to take in terms of publishing. Please remember that this is mostly based off my experiences and the experiences of several other authors friends, both traditional and self. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide which path is best for your wants and needs, but I hope that this FAQ will at least help you with the decision-making process.

What is the difference between self-publishing and traditional publishing?

Traditional publishing is when you have a literary agent sign on to represent you, and when they find you a publisher who will publish your book. Self-publishing is when you take the reins for yourself and publish your book on your own, just as the name implies. Simple enough, right?

Which is better: self-publishing or traditional publishing?

Unfortunately, this question can’t be answered in just three or four sentences. In all honesty, there’s no real answer. One is not “better” than the other, and anyone who tells you different is wrong. Most often, you may hear people say traditional publishing is superior and that self-publishing is “the easy way out.” While self-publishing is much more accommodating, that’s not to say that it’s in any way inferior to traditional. Don’t ever let someone try to shame you for taking the self-publishing route.

How do I get traditionally published?

In order to be traditionally published, 99% of the time, you need a literary agent. Some smaller presses and publishers let you query directly to them, but ultimately, big publishers will only accept manuscripts from literary agents representing writers.

How do I find a literary agent?

QueryTracker is just one of many fabulous resources for writers seeking literary agents. Look for agents that represent your specific genre: fantasy, historical, drama, thriller, etc. When you’ve narrowed down a list based on your genre, you want to look at their submissions page. Some may indicate that they are no longer accepting submissions while others are more than happy to get them. Read over the submission guidelines carefully and make sure you follow them exactly. Agents get tons of submissions each day. They won’t hesitate to toss a manuscript from an author who doesn’t bother to read or respect the guidelines. I’ve covered how to write a proper query letter in a previous blog post.

Will a literary agent represent a self-published book?

This is entirely dependent on the agent. Some will represent a previously self-published book, while others will explicitly state on their submissions page that they won’t read them. Your best bet: submit a new project. In a majority of cases, agents will only represent a previously self-published story if you can prove it has successful sales numbers.

How much does a literary agent cost?

A reputable literary agent will NEVER ask you for upfront fees. Agents are in the business to get you represented by publishers, who will pay them based on sales. If an agent asks for some type of payment to represent you, turn around and run away. Learn more about vanity publishers here.

How many literary agents can I query at once?

Unless they clearly state that they do not allow writers to submit to multiple agents at once, literary agents, for the most part, don’t care how many submissions you send out. Go nuts. Send your query to a dozen agents a week. Just remember that if you get accepted by multiple agents at once, you need to be prepared to reject the agents you don’t choose. Also, you can’t use a generic query letter template for every agent. Every agent has their own preferences when it comes to submissions. Also, a lot of agents are close friends, even if they work for different agencies. If an agent says, “don’t submit to other agents when you submit with us,” then follow those warnings. Agents talk to one another, and word spreads quickly.

What do I do if I’m rejected by an agent?

If you want to be traditionally published, you have to be ready for a lot of rejection. It is very unlikely that you’ll get accepted by the first agent you query. Rejection will be your best friend during the querying process. Don’t let them discourage you. If an agent rejects you, just move on to the next one. Do NOT talk badly about them on social media (it’s unbelievable how many people do this when they’re rejected). Also, I learned from a recent Q&A with a literary agency that you don’t need to send anything after the rejection. Previously, I would send a “thanks anyway,” type of note, and I will continue to do so, but you don’t have to feel like this is mandatory. As the agent said, it’s not necessary nor expected.

How do I self-publish a book?

There are numerous platforms for writers who want to self-publish. I personally used KDP – Kindle Direct Publishing, which I found to be very user-friendly. I’ve heard good things about other similar companies such as IngramSpark, Lulu, and BookBaby, but since I never used them myself, I can’t personally recommend them.

Do I need an editor?

Yes. No matter which path you choose, you need an editor. At the very least, you want someone else to look over your manuscript, even as a beta reader. When we read our writing, we tend to overlook certain spelling or grammatical errors out of habit. I recommend having someone else giving your manuscript a look-through, even just as a casual reader. You never know what they may catch that you missed. If you want to catch the eye of a traditional publisher/literary agent, then finding an actual editor is a MUST. One spelling mistake can cost you representation. When you self-publish, you still want an editor because you want your book to be polished to absolute perfection. The main point I’m trying to get at here is: hire an editor, no matter how great of a writer you think you may be.

Do I need an illustrator?

This is where things get a little tricky. If you want to be traditionally published, you don’t have to worry about an illustrator. Your publisher will find an illustrator to take care of it, except in very specific cases. If you self-publish, you will need to pick one of two options: you illustrate the book yourself or you hire an outside illustrator. I’ve hired illustrators to do my covers and interior illustrations, and I’ve paid for KDP to do my cover illustrations. Overall, I recommend hiring a third-party illustrator. Make sure you clarify the details with your illustrator. Many will take an upfront payment, while others will want an upfront payment in addition to a portion of royalties. Either way, you need to understand that you will be paying a hefty sum for a decent illustrator, and I can assure you that they will be worth every penny. Illustrators help bring your book to life, so you can’t expect to get far trying to pay someone with just “exposure” or a fee that’s well below what they deserve.

Which type of publishing will make me rich and famous?

Sorry, but the chances of you becoming rich and famous as an author are very slim, whether you go the self-publishing or traditional publishing route. There have been some self-publishers who have lucked out and have become financially successful (E.L. James and Andy Weir), and then there are some traditionally published authors who produced one book and then fizzled into obscurity (not going to call them out here). Regardless, if you want to become a rich and famous author, no matter which path you take, you need to put a lot of work into your authorship.

How do I market my books?

When you’re traditionally published, you have an agent who can assist with the marketing aspect for your book – although, this is a “your mileage may vary” situation where some agents may be significant help with marketing while others will do minimal work. When you self-publish, you need to handle the marketing all on your own, unless you hire a public relations expert to assist you. My advice to self-published and indie authors is to capitalize on social media, and to take advantage of local book festivals and craft fairs (especially around holiday time).

How do I get paid?

Here’s a question that many writers have in regards to publishing: how do I make money? If you’re traditionally published, you get a cut of the book sales (a portion needs to go to your agent and publisher). Your publisher may also give you an advance payment. It’s vital that, prior to signing a contract, you have a legal representative carefully inspect it to ensure you’re not being swindled out of your hard-earned money. Unfortunately, there are many “agents” out there who like to take advantage of naive writers. With self-publishing, at least via KDP, you’re paid royalties each month, which are a percentage of your book sales. I recommend setting up a separate bank account for these royalties to help you with your year-end taxes.

How do taxes work for an author?

Let me begin by saying that I am not a tax specialist, so my advice should not be taken as professional counsel. This is purely based on my experience. I created a business entity for my authorship (it was necessary for me to sell my books at an event in Philadelphia). When I take my taxes to my accountant, she helps me file everything accordingly, and tells me what expenses I can deduct. I have been able to deduct table costs, marketing materials, writing-related supplies, and more, because they are all business expenses. I highly recommend consulting with a tax professional to see what you can do in terms of deductions come tax time.

Do I need a pen name?

A pen name is more or less an alternative author identity. For whatever reason, many authors will use a pen name when publishing books. I advise you to use a pen name if you have a speciality in one genre and you want to disassociate another genre. For example, I use my real author name and identity for my children and young adult novels, but if I ever decide to write a murder mystery, I will want to use a pen name. Other authors may use a pen name if they want to keep their writing a secret from friends and family. It doesn’t matter the reason for your pen name, but just make sure you stay consistent.

These are all the most commonly asked questions in terms of publishing. If you have any more questions, feel free to email me at realewrites@gmail.com, or contact me on social media.

Anxiety in the Time of Coronavirus

Things are worrisome right now.

We’re currently facing a worldwide pandemic; a pandemic that has taken thousands of lives, shut down businesses, and forced people to stay in their homes. Yes, we have faced worse crises in the past, but that doesn’t mean we have to ignore what’s happening right now. The Coronavirus is a cause for concern, and there’s no shame in having certain feelings about it.






As someone who was already living in a near-constant state of anxiety for a majority of his life, this is business as usual.

Those of us with severe anxiety are in a perpetual state of fight-or-flight; a belief that the worst is about to happen, so we better be ready.

We didn’t ask for this mindset, but for some reason, it was given to us, and now we have to play with the hand we’re dealt.

While living with anxiety is torture 99% of the time, I see a tiny benefit to it all: this is the closest we’ll ever get to experiencing Spidey Sense!

I’m kidding.

The one great thing I’ve learned about my anxiety is that it helped me be prepared.

That foreboding feeling that everyone has been experiencing over the past few weeks as the pandemic grew? Like I said, that’s a familiar feeling for those of us with severe anxiety.

We know what it’s like to constantly worry about what’s going to happen next. We know what it’s like to have our minds bombarded with worst-case scenarios. We’ve become experts at Googling the tiniest tickle in our throat and assuming it’s a death sentence.

All that worrying. All that anxiety. All those “what-ifs?”.

We’ve been dealing with that for so long, and now, most of us are going on with our days like nothing is out of the ordinary.

Are we worried about coronavirus and the effect it’s having on the world?

Of course.

But at the same time, we’re not breaking down into panic attacks like we normally would be. If anything, from what I’ve witnessed among friends and family, I’ve never seen anxiety-fighters so… collected.

Seeing people who are so anxiety-prone actually providing relief and comfort for others is mind-blowing. We’ve learned to use our coping methods to not only keep ourselves calm and cool, but to help others as well.

To me, it’s a refreshing feeling being able to take what was once perceived as a weakness, and turning it into a strength. We’re now using our anxiety as a weapon against the fear and hopelessness that’s been spreading due to the Coronavirus.

We live for this.

Sorry if this sounds unprofessional, but it’s time to be blunt: Anxiety sucks. It really sucks. But if it teaches us how to help others, especially in times of crisis, then maybe there is some good in it after all.



Taking a Big Risk: How I Started My Career in Writing

This isn’t one of my usual blog posts where I offer my sage advice (although, you may learn a thing or two by the end of it). This is going to be a more personal post where I discuss how exactly I dove into the world of writing, both personally and professionally. I briefly discussed some tips and tricks on how to make a career in writing in a previous post, but I didn’t go in-depth on my own personal journey into the industry, and I feel like I owe it to my readers (all four of you) to explain myself. After all, if you’re going to take writing advice from a stranger on the Internet, you want to at least know their experience, right?

I graduated from Temple University in 2011 with my Bachelor’s in English. Up until my final year, I had planned to become a high school English teacher. Those dreams were destroyed (or at least put on hold) when I realized just how difficult the world of teaching is and how I wasn’t right for it. While I may not be cut out for shaping students’ minds in the classroom, I thought there was still a way to pursue a career revolving around literature and writing. Therefore, I dropped my Secondary Education program and focused only on English.

The problem is that I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do with my English degree. I knew I couldn’t just find a job as an English major. I needed a focus. Did I want to work for a publisher? Did I want to be a journalist? Did I want to be an editor? There were plenty of opportunities, but I knew I wanted to do something involving actual writing. My main problem was that I didn’t have much experience. Sure, I wrote some articles for  newsletters and circulars and whatnot, and I had just finished the first draft of Dodger’s Doorway, but I didn’t have much on my resume that would make recruiters scramble to hire me. I was in the middle of a lake with no paddle.

Then I had some… unusual… luck.

Monster.com has changed a lot in the past few years. Back in 2011, you were able to filter jobs based on sectors and industries. I narrowed my search to look for jobs in “printing and publishing.” I thought, “Well, if I can work for a printer or publisher, that’d be a good way to get my foot in the door, right?”

About a week after I graduated, I got a call from one of the places where I applied. I won’t name-drop, but it had “printing” in the name, and me being the naive recent college graduate, I thought maybe I scored a decent opportunity. We discussed my resume, set up an interview, etc.

When I went in for an interview, I was met with an interesting surprise. You see, the printing place was contracted by a technician business, which was in charge of servicing machines in various convenience stores around the state. I was interviewing for a service technician job… when I thought I’d be working in some printing or publishing company. That’s like applying to be a police officer and instead getting a job as a car salesman. Needless to say, I was a bit confused. But I needed a full-time job, so I took the offer.

For several months, I worked as a technician, and I’m proud to say that I was good at it. It wasn’t the best job in the world, what with the long hours and less-than-stellar pay, but it was helping me pay back my student loans and allowed me to put money toward self-publishing Dodger’s Doorway. I was just living my life one day at a time, not a care in the world.

Later that year, I received a call from a major insurance company that found my resume online and wanted to see if I was interested in a change. This would be a completely different position where I would just be sitting in call center with a headset on for eight hours a day. This is going to sound strange, but when I was in college, I knew that if I wasn’t going to be a teacher, I would’ve been perfectly content working in an office with my own little cubicle. I didn’t mind being an office drone as long as it was a steady paycheck with health insurance. I jumped at the opportunity and took the job. Better pay, better benefits, vacation time, etc. Maybe I had found my “career.”

The glory lasted for about six months.

The job was pretty great during the initial ramp-up period. I liked my co-workers and I felt like I was actually an adult with a “big-boy” job. Then things started going down-hill. I won’t get into details, but it was like everything that could go wrong DID go wrong. I wanted to stick it out and keep at it because I thought that this was going to be my career that could set me up for life, but I was not happy. My days would drag on and on, and I would find any excuse to get away from the office. I would wait to come into work until the absolute last second, and I would leave the second my shift ended, I would take a bathroom break whenever I could – I even began using up all my vacation days so I wouldn’t have to spend an entire week in the office. It was Hell.

Then I woke up one morning and it just clicked. I needed to do something. If I wanted to be a working writer, I needed to pursue it. It wasn’t just going to fall into my lap. Unfortunately, having been out of college so long and having no real work experience besides customer service, I knew I was in for a challenge. I needed to start from scratch, which meant completely revamping my resume.

Here is where things get interesting. I received a call from a company after I had submitted my resume and spoke with the managers about the position. This was when I was first introduced into the world of SEO and copywriting. I had never really thought about it all that much before. It seemed like the way to get into writing as a career was to think about it in a marketing sense. Looking back, I wish I had double-majored in marketing (a lesson for anyone currently in college and looking for a way to possibly turn writing into a career!).

If you’re taking notes, this next piece will be worth highlighting. This writing job was a great opportunity, but I was leaving well-paying, secure office job at a major corporation, to go to a small business for less pay and no health benefits. It was a MAJOR risk, especially since I had to go through a three-month trial period before I was “officially” brought on. I’ll never forget this moment: the owner of the company called to offer me the job and I told her I’d have to think about it over the weekend. I went back to my cubicle and took a call from a customer. It was a rude woman who yelled at me because she didn’t understand how a spacebar works (I’m barely exaggerating). I was so infuriated after the call and realized that I did not want to do this any longer. I called the owner back and accepted the job.

I was officially an employed writer!

This isn’t the end of my story, though. Remember: I didn’t have much professional writing experience. I wrote essays and research papers in school, and I also wrote Dodger’s Doorway (and if you’ve read the first edition of that book, you’d be… less than impressed). I hate to say it, but it didn’t fully prepare me for writing as a career. It was a rough start for me. I was terrified of being fired from my job in the first few months because I didn’t think I was performing as well as I should’ve been. Not only was I going to lose a job that I actually really, really liked, but I was starting to realize that maybe I wasn’t good at writing?

If you’re a fan of The Office like I am, then you’ll remember the Michael Scott Paper Company story arc (if you don’t watch the show, you may want to skip to the next paragraph). Remember how at the beginning of the arc Michael and Pam were worried that they had given up their perfect jobs only to fail at their new startup? Then Michael explained how he thrived on the pressure of failure. And then their company started to do better? I like to think I embody that same notion.

When there is pressure on me, I seem to do my best. If I’m on the brink of failing, I make a hell of a comeback. Sure, I’d like to avoid getting to that point in the first place, but I know that no matter how close I get to that edge, I will always find my footing and push back. And that’s exactly what I did. I found my footing. Things turned around and I started doing better. My writing was becoming more polished and refined. I wasn’t just an employed writer; I was an employed, competent writer!

It’s hard to believe that was about five years ago. I’ve since moved on and pursued other jobs (still in the same field), and my writing has only gotten better. Looking back, I do not have one single regret about my decision. Taking that big risk and following a writing career has had significant impacts on both my professional life and my personal life. It’s what prompted me to release a second (well-written) edition of Dodger’s Doorway and allowed me to continue my passion. Had I not taken that leap, I’d probably still be slaving away in that call center, taking call after call and sinking further into depression while my laptop gathered dust and my ideas went unwritten.

If you’re going to take away anything from this story, it’s this: take a risk if you want to pursue something that will make you happy, but be smart about it. When I took my first job as a writer, I was still living with my parents. I wasn’t worried about supporting a family or having to pay a mortgage. It can be harder to take risks later on in life when you have more responsibilities and less of a safety net. I encourage you to take risks if it can make your life better, but be wise about it. And remember that opportunities won’t just fall into your lap; you have to go out and get them.

Dealing with Anxiety: How I Learned to Cope

**I apologize in advance to my readers who were expecting a blog about writing or publishing. While this is different than my usual blogs, I feel like this is a topic that needs addressing since it’s close to my heart and worth a discussion.**

Anxiety sucks. Period. There’s no reason to sugar-coat it. Anxiety is a disease (yes, a disease) that plagues almost every single person, and while some have easily overcome it  a good workout or a walk in the woods, there are others, such as myself, who have to deal with it everyday. And unfortunately, there are some who have a harder time of coping than others.

Just a little backstory: I’ve dealt with anxiety since I was 17 years old. When I was a senior in high school, I used to get panic attacks almost every single day, and let me tell you, it almost ruined the entire year for me. I’d have “episodes” where I wouldn’t be able to talk or function, and literally just pace back and forth until my heart rate decreased and my anxiety faded.

This went untreated for years. It affected relationships, friendships, work, school, and almost everything going on in my life. Every time I went to the movies, I had to sit in the seat near the exit because I was afraid of having to leave due to anxiety. When I started new classes at school, I chose the seat closest to the door because I knew I had to be able to leave inconspicuously as possible in the event of a panic attack. I once drove two hours for a big event up in Scranton and then had to drive all the way back a half-hour later because of a severe panic attack. When I was 20, I had episodes so bad that I was afraid to even leave the house out of fear. Anxiety had taken over my life.

I was lucky when, the summer before 21, I started taking medication for my anxiety. It was like a miracle. I felt like I could take over the world. It was my lifesaver.

Now, to some people, it may seem like I “chickened out” by taking medicine for my anxiety. But let me tell you: it is 100% worth it. I honestly don’t know how I would have survived these panic attacks over the years without it. It’s a shame there’s such a stigma over medication for anxiety when it’s proven to work. While you may be against taking the medicinal route, I highly recommend asking your doctor about it. Don’t look at it as taking the easy way out; look at it as a way of taking back the control over your life.

Now, for 3-4 years, I didn’t have the benefit of medicine. And I know there are people out there who may not have such easy access to doctors. That’s why I’m writing this blog. I want to help people cope. I want them to avoid suffering from crippling anxiety like I did all those years ago. Just a forewarning: I am not a licensed or experienced psychologist. I’m just a normal guy with more than 10 years of experiencing and coping with anxiety, and I am merely passing on my knowledge so that some other soul may benefit from it.


This will seem cliche, but it’s the honest-to-God truth. The first step towards overcoming a panic attack is to not just breathe, but to focus on your breathing. When I briefly saw a psychologist many moons ago, he showed me a technique for getting my anxiety under control. What you do is breathe in through your nose while counting (in your mind) to three. Then you exhale through your mouth, while counting to three again. I forget his exact explanation, but he told me that, by focusing on counting your breaths, you are able to distract your mind from whatever is causing your anxiety. Back then, it sounded crazy to me. After all, I was a 17-year-old who thought he knew everything. But now, it makes sense. Anxiety is mostly over-thinking. Well, if you want to get technical, it’s kind of an evolutionary trait we developed for fighting off predators, but we don’t have to get technical. So the best solution is to distract your mind. Focus on your breathing, and let your body do the rest.


Anxiety stems mostly from us over-thinking. I’ve become the master of over-thinking. I could take one small comment from a friend and completely blow it out of proportion. But if we have the power to ‘think’ ourselves into having a panic attack, then theoretically, don’t we have the power to use over-thinking to get ourselves out? I was told by my psychologist that our body only produces “about 30 minutes-worth of adrenaline” at a time, and that panic attacks shouldn’t last much longer. Yeah, 30 minutes seems like forever to be having an anxiety-induced meltdown, but when you look at the grand-scheme of things, it’s not terrible. When I learned this fun factoid, I found it much easier to endure my panic attacks because I knew they would subside in a few minutes. It gave me comfort. I knew that this wasn’t a permanent state of mind. My body would find a way to regulate itself within the hour. I just had to tough it out.


You’ve done your breathing exercises, you’ve thought about it, and you’re still having your panic attack. Now what? Well, looks like you’ll have to wait it out. Sorry if that’s not the answer you wanted to hear, but sometimes, the best way to get through Hell is to actually go through it. I hated having to go through the panic attacks, but I knew there wasn’t much I could do except fight through it. My coping method for anxiety attacks was to pace. I’d literally just pace back and forth and not talk at all for about 20 minutes. It must’ve been a sight. But, you know, it worked! I’d feel good as new after the attack subsided. In fact, I’d actually be as happy as ever! There’s a neat article about how anxiety can cause euphoria that you should check out. However, I definitely don’t recommend inducing anxiety JUST to get that episode of euphoria afterwards. Trust me, it’s not worth it.

Whatever your coping method is, go for it. If you need to pace, like I did, then pace. If you need to excuse yourself from a meeting, then do it. If you need to take a quick drive, then drive. Your health is the most important thing, and nothing should get in the way of you taking care of yourself. If you think, “Well, I can’t leave in the middle of an important meeting,” or “I can’t start pacing in the middle of class,” then I recommend you speak to your teacher or your boss. In the past 10 years, I’ve never had a single problem with a teacher or a boss when it came to dealing with my anxiety. It’s not an inconvenience; it’s an actual illness, and you need to take care of it.

Get Help

Sometimes, you can’t do it alone. You need a little bit of help. I’m going to say this over and over again if I have to: There is absolutely nothing wrong with using medication for anxiety. Again: There is absolutely nothing wrong with using medication for anxiety. I abhor the stigma associated with using medicine to treat mental illnesses. Yes, anxiety and depression are an illness. And when you are sick, you take medicine. You should never, EVER feel ashamed for having to turn to medication to help you cope with anxiety. I used to be adamant against using medicine because I was afraid of being dependent and because I was slightly ashamed; but after all these years, I wouldn’t change a thing. Taking medicine for my anxiety was the best decision of my life, and I’ll be damned if I ever let anyone shame me for it. If you think your anxiety has taken control over your life, then please, please, please, don’t let stigma stop you from talking to your doctor about medicinal options.

Anxiety is more than just a bad case of worrying or being nervous. It’s a feeling that can prevent you from living your life to the fullest. If you think anxiety is taking over, then it is time to seek help.

While I am not a trained psychologist, I am always willing to offer advice and guidance on how to deal with anxiety. Please reach out to me if you ever want to talk. But I advise you to speak with a doctor if you feel like your anxiety is severe.


Overcoming Self-Doubt

Do you often find yourself writing page after page, and then going back and deleting all your work? Do you refuse to let anyone read your writing because you’re afraid of a negative reaction? Do you just think you’re a bad writer overall?

You’re not alone.

It’s perfectly normal to be critical of your own work. Almost everyone feels the same way. We constantly criticize ourselves, whether it’s about things we do, how we look, how we act, or just how we are in general. It’s a natural human trait to be critical of ourselves, but some of us have mastered the ability to suppress such doubts. When you’re able to do that, you won’t be afraid to show the world what you can do.

I’m critical of my own abilities. Every time I write, I think, “Wow, this is garbage.” I spend countless hours going back and rereading and editing my pieces to ensure they’re perfect. I keep thinking, “This could’ve been worded better,” or “This doesn’t make any sense.” I’m pretty sure I’ll be rereading this blog post a dozen times after I publish it, thinking that it’s pure crap. But despite all that, I am still able to say, “The world needs to read this.” My self-doubt might be strong, but my desire to create is much stronger.

Why is it that most of us are so insecure about our writing (or any type of creative expression)? There could be plenty of reasons. Maybe you’ve had experiences in the past where someone had a negative reaction to something you wrote. Maybe you’re just naturally inclined to view you and your abilities in a bad light. At the end of the day, you need to realize something: your self-judgment is most likely off.

When it comes to the arts, we can’t properly judge ourselves. That is because there is no right or wrong in the world of art. What some people consider bad, others consider a masterpiece.

Go to a local art museum and check out a painting of a blue square on a gray background. To you or me, it might look like a doodle that someone made in first grade art class. For art collectors and connoisseurs, it could be an excellent drawing worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Watch Transformers: Age of Extinction. For film buffs and even most average movie-goers, it’s a piece of trash and a disgrace to cinema. For others, it could be a fun, action-packed thrill ride worthy of countless viewings.

50 Shades of Grey. To me, it’s a heap of trash that promotes sexual violence and unhealthy relationship goals. To others, well, you can guess where I’m going with this.

The beauty of art is that it’s subjective. What one person hates, others may adore. As I mentioned before, there is no right or wrong in the world of art. So no matter what you create, you can relish in the fact that somebody, somewhere out there, may think you’ve created something spectacular.

So how exactly do you overcome self-doubt? I mean, it’d be awesome if you could just flick a switch and turn off that part of your brain that harbors negative feelings, but life doesn’t work that way (but it’d be awesome if it did; then I probably wouldn’t still be so sour about the last season of The Walking Dead.)

I can sit here and write “believe in yourself” in five or six different ways, but that’s not going to work unless you actually take action. The only way to beat the self-doubt is to take the leap of faith. Submit your writing to a contest, enter your painting into an art show, try auditioning for a play – do SOMETHING that will get your art seen by other people. At that point, one of two things will happen: you’ll find out if it’s good, or you’ll find out of it’s bad. If it’s good, then great! You had nothing to worry about! If it’s bad, it’s not the end of the world. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of someone being hurt for creating a bad piece of art (if that were the case, then a lot of Hollywood directors would be in trouble).

“But what if they don’t like it?”

News flash: you cannot please everybody. You’re most likely going to experience some negativity in your creative journey. That comes with the territory. I said it before: art is subjective. What one person loves, others may hate. The first few negative comments will sting, but you will develop a thick skin. Even I’ve managed to shrug off some horrible things people have said about my writing, and I’m an emotional dumpster fire.

Despite whatever negativity comes your way, you can still stand up and say, “I did it. I let the world see my art.” You deserve to give yourself credit. There are way too many people who are afraid of leaving their comfort zone, which prevents them from achieving their true potential. Don’t let that happen to you. It may be daunting, but once you take that leap of faith and start to share your work, you’ll find yourself much more comfortable with your abilities.

Your self-doubt is just a small roadblock on your path to greatness. And how do you get over a roadblock? By leaping over it.

Is there a particular topic you’d like me to cover in a future post? Leave a comment, or head on over to my Facebook page and share your thoughts!


What I’ve Been Up To

Sorry, folks. This post is going to be a bit more personal. I thought I’d update my fans, followers, and friends on what’s been going on with my life and why I haven’t been as active with my blog. On the bright side: this will give some insight on my current and future projects, so you’ll know what to expect from me in the near future.

First off, as I mentioned a few times before, I got a new job back at the end of August. After working from home for three years, it was odd getting back into the groove of having to go into an office, interacting with people face to face, and having to wear pants on a daily basis. By the time I get home at the end of the day, I’m so beat that I can barely get off the couch, let alone boot up my laptop and pen a new blog.

I also got my own apartment. I moved in about two months ago but I’m still in the process of getting settled. Yes, it’s bad. My desk is a total mess, and I feel a twinge of disappointment in myself every time I look at it. One day it’ll be clean and organized. One day…

I also published my second book, Return to Storyworld, which is the sequel to Dodger’s Doorway. You can purchase it on Amazon, and I’m slowly working on getting it on digital platforms as well. I’ll admit that I’ve been dragging my feet a bit here. My biggest problem is the fact that I’m so overwhelmed by so many things to do that I’m at a loss as to where to start. I need a day to settle down and get my ducks in a row, but it’s much easier said than done.

I’ve definitely failed on the whole “keeping the blog updated once a week” aspect that I was originally aiming for. As I’ve explained, I’m super busy, but that’s not much of an excuse. At this point, I’m just trying to provide some sort of updates as much as possible. I have an editorial calendar all set up with post ideas – now I just need to execute them. Hopefully things will slow down enough for me that I’ll be able to be more consistent with my posts. In the meantime, here are a few topics that I’ll be discussing in the future:

  • Handling “Haters” – How do to deal with people who mock you or don’t believe in your writing goals
  • Finding inspiration and ideas for your writing
  • How to gain reviews for your newly published book
  • Crafting a powerful author social media presence
  • Reading your own work and why you need a second pair of eyes to do your edits
  • Finding your genre/knowing what you want to write about
  • Networking and working with other writers

I’m also going to be reviewing more books from independent writers. I have a whole shelf full of them, but I’ve barely had time to sit down and read anything due to my busy work life. It’ll happen eventually, I promise!

Besides this blog, I’m also working on multiple writing projects, including the following:

  • The third installment of The Storyworld Saga
  • A horror/thriller story along the lines of Dante’s Inferno
  • A thriller series in the same vein as Hannibal Lector meets Castle
  • An educational series revolving around various historical artifacts – think Legends of the Hidden Temple meets Battle Royale
  • An action/adventure story about various mythological gods duking it out with one another
  • Possibly several movie scripts and a comic idea as well, but those are at the bottom of the stack for now…

Anyway, that’s a basic overview of what’s been going on with me. If you have any topics you’d like for me to discuss, or if you are curious about anything regarding writing, editing, marketing your book, self-publishing, etc., please feel free to reach out to me. I am always willing to help out.


It’s Been Done Before: Being Original When Writing

First off: my apologies for taking so long to pen a new blog post. I’m pretty embarrassed about waiting almost four months to write again. To be honest, it’s been a hectic couple of months. I’ve been tied up with the new job, I’ve finally published the sequel to Dodger’s Doorway, Return to Storyworld, and I’m moving into a new apartment tomorrow. It’s a crazy time for me. But that’s not much of an excuse. I set up this blog to help out fellow writers who needed advice, and although only a small handful of people actually read these posts, I still think it’s my duty to maintain a steady stream of blog posts. Now that my life has somewhat calmed down, I’m ready to kick off the New Year with a fresh batch of advice!

This week, we’re discussing a heavy topic that hits close to home for me: originality in writing.

Story time!

When I first started writing Dodger’s Doorway, I was so proud of myself. I thought I had created an incredibly original story the likes of which have never been read before. Admittedly, I was borrowing some elements from books such as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and the video game Kingdom Hearts. But other than that, I thought it was pretty original. Who’s ever read a book about a young man going into a fantasy world and interacting with fairy tale characters? My book would be a real game-changer.

Then I started to get worried.

In 2011, a few months before I published Dodger’s Doorway, I started seeing previews for an upcoming television show called Once Upon a Time. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a fantasy series revolving around various fairy tale/Disney characters who are plucked from their own world and thrown into ours. Snow White, Pinocchio, Prince Charming, Rumplestiltskin – all of their stories are woven together into quite the epic modern fairy tale. Does this sound familiar to anyone?

In the beginning, I thought, “Well, so what if Once Upon a Time is similar to my book? Not a big deal.” Then a “friend” told me that my book was basically a rip-off of a comic series called Fables. I haven’t read it yet (though it is on my to-read list), but from what I gathered, it’s extremely similar to Once Upon a Time, in which fairy tale creatures co-exist in their own private community in our world. Okay, still no big deal. That’s just two other stories that are similar to my book.

Then, over the past few years, I started finding out about more book series with a similar premise. I was surprised at how ubiquitous this concept was in fantasy literature. It seems there’s a whole sub-genre featuring fairy tale and literary characters crossing over with one another. I was getting frustrated. And it didn’t help when I tried promoting my book on social media and someone basically deconstructed the premise and told me that it’s been done countless times before. At one point, I seriously considered just saying, “Screw it. I’m done with this series.”

I don’t think anyone can blame me for being mad. I wasn’t so much upset about people being jerks, but the fact that I had this story I had been working on for years and it turns out that it’s been done already. I was so proud of what I thought was an original concept, and then reality hits me with the cold, hard fact that it’s just another run-of-the-mill crossover story. It sucked at first, but it was one of those necessary reality checks that every writer should go through at some point in their life.

I’m going to be blunt: It’s extremely difficult to come up with a 100% original concept nowadays. You could think up the most outrageously unique idea ever for a story, and chances are, there might be something similar out there already.

That’s not to say that there isn’t room for originality. I’m sure you could come up with a unique concept, given enough concentration and brainstorming. But the point I’m trying to make is, you shouldn’t forgo your passion out of fear of people saying it’s not original. Want to write about boy wizards? Go for it. Want to write about elves and dwarves fighting? Do it up. Want to write about vampires and werewolves? Write it! Who cares if the concept has been seen before? Put your own spin on it and make it your own.

Even though my book is similar to Once Upon a Time, I still managed to infuse my own ideas into it so that it distinguished itself. You should do the same with your own writing. If your story is good enough, people will look past the similarities and instead appreciate the originality. Don’t believe me? Consider this: have you ever realized how Harry Potter, Star Wars, and The Lord of the Rings are all essentially modernized versions of the legend of King Arthur? You think most people realize that off the bat? Nope. They’re too busy appreciating the epic tales that are told. Three of the most recognized and beloved series on the planet aren’t as original as you think – that should mean something.

If you think you’ve struck gold with an original idea, go for it. Even if you find out that it shares some similarities to other stories, stick with it anyway. Complete originality isn’t crucial for a good story, but you must add some form of your own personal touch. That is what will distinguish your tale from the rest.


Is there a particular topic you’d like me to cover in a future post? Leave a comment, or head on over to my Facebook page and share your thoughts!

Making Time for Writing

If you’re reading this blog, you’re most likely a writer, or you wish to become one. If you’re not a writer yet, what’s stopping you? Do you not know what to write about? Do you think your writing is bad? Do you lack the patience to sit down and churn out words? Whatever the reason, there’s usually an easy solution. But there’s one particular issue that isn’t that simple to resolve: lack of time.

It’s ironic that I’m making this post considering I haven’t had time to do much writing myself, mainly because I just started a new job and I’ve been doing a lot of research into going back to school. Like most normal human beings, I just don’t think there are enough hours in the day to do everything I want, so I’ve had to prioritize. However, seeing as writing is an important part of my life, I’ve had to find ways to include it in my hectic daily schedule, and I hope my advice helps you do the same.

Let’s say you’re like me: you work the typical nine-to-five job from Monday through Friday. Then you sleep about eight hours each night. Take out the three or four miscellaneous hours where you eat, brush your teeth, shower, commute, etc. That leaves you with four or five hours each weekday to do as you please. When it comes to weekends, well, you’ve got all the time in the world (unless you’re like me several years ago when I worked the dreaded hours of retail).

The point I’m trying to make is that there is always SOME time in the day for you to get your writing done. In fact, you can get your daily writing quota in with just one hour each day. One hour – but that hour better be well-spent. That means actually pushing out content and not just watching YouTube videos or chatting on social media. Don’t be ashamed – we all do it.

That daily hour of writing doesn’t have to be all at once. Take advantage of little pockets of time throughout your day. Have a long lunch break at work? Write. Riding on the train? Write. Waiting for class to start? Write. This is why it’s a great idea to always carry around a notebook (or even use the notepad on your phone).

What I’ve found that helps is giving myself a little bit of leisure time before I start writing. It’s not like I leave work right away and immediately sit behind my laptop and start hammering away at the keys. I give myself a half-hour to an hour to settle in. I grab a bite to eat, I read a comic or a chapter of a book, or I watch a quick episode on Netflix. My mind has been working like a machine the entire day, and it needs a chance to cool down. I’ve tried writing right after a long work day before, and trust me, it doesn’t end well. I find myself unable to properly string words together or create coherent thoughts. I’m running on fumes.

Another thing I’ve found useful is cutting down on all the unnecessary time-wasters. For me, it’s video games. I made a promise to myself not to buy any new video games until after I had finished my book. Well, I’ll admit right now that I failed that part since I binged at a recent store-closing sale and bought seven new games. But I’m not starting any of them just yet. They’re currently sitting on my shelf, waiting to be opened until after Thanksgiving when I finally have time to waste again. Find a way to keep similar time-wasters from eating away at your schedule so that you have time to write. If you’re serious about your writing, it should be one of your top priorities. First and foremost, though, you need to make time for your family, your health, and your job. Writing is important, but not important enough to put ahead of your well-being.

One big thing to remember when making time for your writing is to not overburden yourself. You may feel like writing hundreds of stories all at once. That’s awesome that you have that kind of ambition, but you better be able to organize it all. I have numerous stories I want to create, but my priority is my main novel. If I tried to focus on everything all at once, I get stressed out and don’t know where to begin. I end up just flipping between several word documents, trying to figure out which one to work on. It’s much easier to find time for your writing when you have a clear, focused project in your mind. You shouldn’t go into your day thinking, “I’m going to write for an hour.” Instead, you should think, “What am I going to write today?”

Don’t feel bad about skipping a day or two. While it’s better to write every single day, you don’t want to force it. Sometimes, you just don’t feel like writing. In that case, feel free to spend your time on a leisurely activity. Play a video game. Read a book. Do something to clear your mind, and then come back to it later on. Just don’t let too much writing-free time go by. Writing is like a muscle, and what happens when you don’t use a muscle for a long time? It becomes weaker (I’m pretty sure I’ve used that muscle metaphor plenty of times in my blog already, but it’s the truth).

When you’re passionate about something, you commit yourself to it. If you really want to be a writer, you have to find time to hone your craft each day. You can never use the excuse, “there aren’t enough hours in the day!” Trust me, there is ALWAYS time to pursue your passion.

Is there a particular topic you’d like me to cover in a future post? Leave a comment, or head on over to my Facebook page and share your thoughts!

Contacting Literary Agents: How to Write a Query Letter

I speak a lot about self-publishing because that’s the route I decided to take for my own writing. However, while I found to be self-publishing to be much easier and better suited for my tastes, I don’t think you should count out traditional publishing for your own work. After all, traditional publishing is the big leagues. 99% of the books you find on bookstore shelves are from established publishing houses. Why not take that leap and see if you can make it? Do you think you have what it takes to get published?

But before you can get published, you need to find a literary agent. And how do you go about getting an agent? You need a query letter.

Imagine you’re looking for a job. You have years and years of experience and you just know that you’d be a major asset to a company. But how are recruiters supposed to know you’re out there unless you submit a cover letter and resume? And if you don’t have a great cover letter and resume, you can’t expect them to start knocking down your door to get you to work for them.

Finding a literary agent and publisher is a lot like looking for a job. A query letter is little more than a glorified cover letter. It’s what gets your foot in the door. Without a decent query letter, you’re going to have a hard time getting agents to read your work. It might seem intimidating trying to sell yourself and your book to a complete stranger in just a few words, but it’s necessary if you want to be published. Luckily, writing a convincing query letter isn’t that difficult.

Most literary agents describe what they want in a query letter right on their website. They usually ask for two main details: your writing history and a basic overview of your synopsis. Every agent is different, and you’re bound to encounter the occasional agent who will ask you a curveball. In some instances, I’ve seen agents ask submitters to explain why they think their manuscript would be a good fit for the agent. I even had one agent ask me to list my influences and whose writing I emulated in my manuscript.

No matter what I tell you in the rest of the blog post, you must always consider the agent’s submission rules above all else. There are agents who will immediately trash your manuscript if they see that you didn’t listen to their rules, and they have every right to do so. They read hundreds of letters each day; they don’t have time to waste on people who won’t bother reading their submission requirements. That is why I advise you to ALWAYS adhere the submission guidelines on an agent’s site thoroughly. If you fail to do that, not only do you risk them tossing your manuscript without a second glance, but you might also tarnish your own name with that agent and any of their partners. Don’t create a negative reputation for yourself because you didn’t take a couple minutes to read the rules.

In the case where an agent doesn’t specify what exactly they want in the query letter, there is an easy-to-follow formula to help you along the way.

At the top of the letter, you should list your full name, phone number, email, and address. This is a no-brainer. How do you expect the agent to get in touch with you without any contact information?

Some authors (including myself) have social media profiles based around their writing. Personally, I don’t recommend adding them to your query letter. Your letter needs to stay within one page, and adding small details like social media handles can eat away at your space. Only add social media links if the agent specifically asks for it.

Now onto the actual letter itself. First off, you should thank the agent for taking the time to read your query. Like I mentioned earlier, they can get hundreds of letters a day. They’re taking the time to open your email or letter, so the least you can do is thank them for their time. Those few words can make a world of difference.

In that same first paragraph, let them know that you are asking for their representation for your manuscript. Tell them your title, the genre, and the approximate word count. For example, a good opening line for a query letter would be:

Dear Ms. Jane Doe

Thank you for taking the time to read my submission. I hope you will consider representing my novel, John Smith Goes to Space, a 60,000-word science-fiction novel about a man who travels to space on an epic adventure.

Right away, the agent can get an idea of whether they want to consider the book or not. Is it within their preferred genre? Does the title sound appealing?

After the introduction, you will want to give a basic synopsis of the story. This is where you REALLY have to sell your manuscript. You want the reader to see the synopsis and think, “Wow! I need to know what’s going to happen!” It’s like when you watch a teaser trailer for a movie. After it’s over, do you want to know more? Or did the trailer give away too much? Or even too little?

Here’s an example of giving away too little:

John Smith was the first man to travel to the deepest recesses of space. Little did he know, he wasn’t alone.

Here’s an example of giving too much:

John Smith is a 42-year-old insurance salesman who loved his wife, Margaret, and his two daughters, Lana and Janet. While he was content with his life, he still felt like he needed some excitement to spice things up. How could he get over his mid-life crisis?

One night, two mysterious agents in black suits, Bob and Steve, come to his door and tell him that he’s been “randomly selected”. John has no idea what they mean until they drive him to a top-secret research laboratory in the middle of the desert and tell him that he’s going to be traveling to the furthest ends of space. His mission is to collect data on a species of aliens that have been discovered on a planet similar to Earth.

Weeks later, John is sent off in a prototype rocket with the power to travel hundreds of lightyears in mere hours. He arrives at the planet and makes first contact with the aliens. While they initially seem friendly and accommodating, he soon discovers that they’re actually carnivorous beasts with a taste for humans.

John escapes their clutches, but he’s miles away from his ship. He has to navigate his way through a perilous jungle, across a raging ocean, and over miles of scorching desert, all filled with flora and fauna that shares the aliens’ appetite for human flesh. John Smith may have started out as an Average Joe with an encyclopedic knowledge of every insurance policy known to man, but he eventually becomes a survivalist who will do anything to survive.

Here’s an example of a great summary:

John Smith was your average guy. He worked in an office, he had a wife and kids, and he hated rush hour traffic. He wanted to do something more with his life. Luckily, things were about to change.

One night, two mysterious agents come to John’s door and tell him that he’s been randomly selected for a top-secret mission: a trip to the edge of space.

The next thing he knows, John is being blasted off in a prototype rocket into the deepest parts of the known universe. He soon lands on a strange planet, where he discovers a whole race of an unusual alien species; a species with a taste for human flesh . John forgets his mission objective as he desperately tries to survive in an unknown alien world where literally everything is trying to eat him.

Will John Smith ever make it home?

The first summary is just too short for a query letter. It’s a logline. It’s the type of line you give when you want to pitch your book to a random person you met on an elevator. You might encounter an agent who wants a very, very brief summary of your work, in which case a logline works, but for the most part, a one-sentence summary is not right for a query.

The second summary adds a lot of unnecessary detail. We don’t need to know individual names except for the main protagonist. We don’t need a play-by-play of certain scenes. The second summary definitely lets the reader know what the story will entail, but it’s got a lot of excess fat.

The third summary has it all. You’ve got your protagonist, you’ve got a conflict, and you’ve got a hook. It tells you what you need to know. That’s what agents usually want to see in a query letter. Keep in mind, though, that there will be agents who will ask for a one- to two-page synopsis of your story. At that point, you can go crazy with the summarizing, but know which details deserve to be in your synopsis and which don’t.

Next, you’ll want to add a little author bio. You don’t need to explain every single essay or short story you’ve ever written. You should talk about the writing that has shaped you into the author you are today. When did you start writing? Where did this interest come from? What made you want to write this particular manuscript? Who are your favorite authors, and who have you tried to emulate? You were selling your story in the previous paragraphs; now it’s time to sell yourself.

In the next paragraph, you can brag a little. Talk about any awards or accommodations you’ve won. This is also the place where you should talk about whether you’ve been published before.

When I submitted Dodger’s Doorway to several agents, I made sure to notify them that I previously self-published. This is a very important detail since many agents do not accept previously published (self and traditional) work. DO NOT LIE about whether you’ve been previously published! The agent will find out, and you do not want to get yourself into that situation.

The closing paragraph of the query letter is the easiest. Thank the agent once again for taking the time to read your letter, and let them know that they can contact you if any additional information is needed.

Before you go and hit that submit button, you must proofread, proofread, proofread! Do not let one spelling or grammar mistake slip through the cracks. Do you think an agent will want to read your manuscript if you don’t even bother editing your own query letter? It takes an extra minute or two to proofread; don’t be lazy.

Once you submit the query letter, it’s a waiting game. You’ll get the agents who respond months later, and then you’ll get the ones who don’t respond at all. Don’t take it personally. You’re just one of thousands of applicants. That may seem daunting, but you have nothing to lose by submitting your manuscript. For all you know, you might get lucky and actually impress an agent enough to spark some interest. Once you get that foot in the door, the real work begins!

Is there a particular topic you’d like me to cover in a future post? Leave a comment, or head on over to my Facebook page and share your thoughts!

Finding the Motivation to Write

Remember in high school when you found it so hard to start that long essay, so you kept on procrastinating? Then, once you actually started writing, it became much easier? Guess what? That feeling doesn’t end with high school.

Lack of motivation is the ugly cousin of writer’s block. With writer’s block, you feel like you could sit down and write for hours on end, but you’re stumped as to what to write about. On the other hand, lack of motivation is when you have a ton of ideas bouncing around in your mind, but you just can’t find yourself sitting down and putting them to paper. Like many other writers before me, I’ve suffered through both of these plagues, and if you’re serious about writing, you’re bound to face the same obstacles.

It’s a bit of a paradox, isn’t it? If you’re a writer, you’re obviously very passionate about bringing your ideas to life. But if that’s the case, why is it often so hard to crack open the laptop and begin writing out of the blue? Don’t worry – it doesn’t mean you’ve lost your passion. It’s still there. You’re just experiencing a terrible yet common illness: being human.

No matter how much you enjoy a hobby, there may come a time when you struggle to find motivation. It can happen for a variety of reasons: stress, boredom, lack of support, lack of ideas, etc. We’re not machines; we can’t work non-stop. We need motivation in our lives to keep us going. Eventually, you might start to lose that motivation, but if you’re lucky, it will only be temporary. You just need to know the right tricks to get you back on track.

This may seem like the most obvious solution, but one of the best ways to get motivated is to completely distance from all distractions. We live in an age of Netflix, smartphones, social media, and countless other forms of distraction, so it’s understandable that your mind wanders when you’re supposed to be writing. I remember once trying to write an article at my old job but I couldn’t get those first couple of words out because I had The Office playing on my TV, my iTunes playlist going at full volume, and my phone constantly buzzing with texts from friends trying to plan a bar trip for that night. My mind was in multiple places at once, but it wasn’t where it needed to be: on the writing itself.

If you’re like me and you have a compulsory need to keep the TV on at all times, then your best bet is to change your location. I found that I was able to focus on my writing when I distanced myself from all the tech in my room. Nowadays, I spend most of my time writing at the coffee shop, the library, or even outside on the porch. I also turn off my phone, plug my headphones into my laptop, throw on some soothing instrumental music, and begin typing away. It’s amazing how much of a difference it can make for your motivation when you get up and move somewhere with less distractions.

Another distraction for me is the Internet itself. I don’t need to tell you how easy it is to get lost in the depths of the Web, especially when trying to finish an essay or article. The worst is when I have to look up information about something pertaining to my writing, and the next thing I know, I’m on the Wikipedia page for the second season of Lost or I’m watching a funny animal fail videos on YouTube. It’s even worse when I get sucked into the voids of social media and news stories. Why does it seem like all the interesting stuff happens when I’m busy?

Anyway, it’s easy to get distracted by the Internet, and what’s worse is that you can’t exactly get away from it because you might need it for writing research. That’s why I recommend a temporary site blocker, such as StayFocusd or SelfControl. With these apps, you can create and customize a special blacklist of sites, and then you can block those sites for a set length of time. My blacklist includes all the time-wasters like social media, gaming sites, and comic forums, and it’s done wonders for my productivity and motivation so far. It may take time getting used to the blocking, but once you condition yourself not to check these sites every five minutes, you should notice an increase in your focus.

So we’ve covered the obvious causes for lack of motivation. Let’s look at the deeper factors for this phenomenon. After all, it’s not just about distractions; it’s also about your attitude and your overall outlook.

When you’re passionate about your work, it’s easy to dive into a new project. You tell me to write a five-hundred-word essay on hedge funds, and I’ll be dragging my feet the entire time. If you tell me to write a thousand-word analysis of Fight Club, I’ll churn it out in a half-hour with double the word count.

You should never force yourself to write about something you don’t find interesting. Do you think all those successful authors out there are writing about things that aren’t appealing to them? No. They’re writing about what they find intriguing, and because of that, they’re motivated to create pieces that are insightful, entertaining, and successful with the public.

You don’t have to force yourself down a narrow route and write stories based solely on what’s popular or what will sell. If it’s not your taste, don’t write it. You’re tired of all these dystopian teen novels like Hunger Games and Divergent? Write a spy thriller action story. Hate A Song of Ice and Fire and The Lord of the Rings? Write a romantic comedy. Do what you want to do. Don’t try to force yourself to write something out of your zone. Not only will it be extremely difficult to stay motivated, but the lack of interest will also show in the writing itself.

There may come a time when you hit a slump in your writing and start to lose motivation. Don’t assume that this means you’ve lost your passion. Instead, take a break to clear your head. Go for a run. Watch a movie. Read a book. Hang out with friends. Do something to jumpstart your motivation. In due time, you’ll find yourself ready to write once again

Is there a particular topic you’d like me to cover in a future post? Leave a comment, or head on over to my Facebook page and share your thoughts!