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7 Gold Tips to Ratchet up Your Writing!

My favorite writing retreat… gold tip #5.

My favorite writing retreat… gold tip #5.

7 Ways To Step Up Your Writing Game!
 
Happy NaNoWriMo Month! Are you writing?! I hope so! I’m sort of writing… I just finished a novel and a TV pilot so I’m actually using NaNoWriMo month to brainstorm my next project.

In that spirit, I thought I’d share some of my gold tips for surviving the daily grind of being a content creator and getting IT done. Here are seven simple ways to foster a creative and sustainable life as a crime and mystery writer.
 
 
1. Read, watch, and listen to crime stories. Duh. I know it’s obvious, but a small diet of crime stories keep the wheels oiled. Don’t worry about being the most current. I almost never am. I feel like I’m always behind reading and viewing trends. I don’t layer too much guilt over this fact. The point is to gorge on what you like and what you find an interest in.
 
Here are a couple of my favs right now.
Books: The Yard, Devil in the White City, Killer of Little Shepherds, Big Little Lies
TV Series: Ozark, The Alienist, Angie Tribeca, Brooklyn Nine-9, Sharper Objects
Podcast: Small Town Murder. Beware: Highly explicit content. Disclaimer: My views usually do not reflect those of the hosts. But they’re funny and honest and they do an awesome job researching and presenting cases!
 
2. Figure out which story type of crime fiction best suits you. Or try on a new brand if things are getting stale. Some examples: medical mystery, true crime, amateur detective, action/thriller, psychological profiler, or caper.
 
3. Keep a journal or file of interesting cases you want to explore in your writing. I put the electronic ones bookmarked in my web library. Or, I often print them from the web because for me, outta sight is outta mind. I put the paper ones from newspapers or magazines in a big box under my desk. Sometimes these ideas come as full-blown books that I want to read. So, I buy the book on the spot (thank you Amazon Prime) slip it on my bookshelf and and make the read when I’m ready to tackle a new project.
 
4. Keep a list of interesting, dynamic antagonists that you glean from true crime stories. And dig into their WHY! The best stories hinge on why-dunnit! What is the emotional, internal motivation that caused these killers to kill? This is the fear that freaks us out and keep us awake at night! And it will do the same for your readers! (By the way, this is also the reason I can not watch or read crimes stories before bed.)
 
5. Take a writer’s retreat. I think writer’s retreats are especially helpful if you’re having trouble starting that project or finishing it. Get away and GET IT DONE! Depending on how much time you can set away, make your goals REASONABLE so that you exit the retreat feeling accomplishment! The above picture is from my favorite writing retreat location!
 
6. Bounce things off people when you get stuck or don’t know. I know it sounds obvious, but it’s also easy for us writers to get a little too comfortable on our little writing islands. A writer’s group is great for tossing around ideas. Even just one or two writers you really trust is enough. Professionals or retired professionals in the field you are writing about are super helpful in this area, as well. They often have the solutions to the problems I spend way too much time fussing over and researching. Their on-the-street experience is better than Google search every single time. And let’s give them the credit they deserve. They’re the ones fighting real crime. We just do it from a couch cushion.
 
7. Subscribe to off the beaten path publications as fodder for your imagination. My top three:
1) Hometown newspapers. I still read mine. Mom sends me the electronic version every week. Every now and then something quirky jumps out at me that I can use in my next project.
2) Regional magazines. I’ve been a big reader of LA Magazine and Texas Monthly that often feature highly researched, in depth true crime stories.
3) Forensic Magazine online. www.forensicmag.com  The daily newsletter sends me a flood of articles that keep up with current cases and crime solving technology.
 
Are these rocket science? No.
 
Do these seem obvious. Probably.
 
Are you doing all of these? Yes- then Bravo! 
 
No? Revisit the list and resolve to start one new practice to step up you writing game!
 
How will you improve your game this week?
 
Have other game-changing practices? Share them with us now!

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