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Enzo Stephens: Planning Vs. Pantsing, Part Dalawa

Writers Unite!’s Featured Blog Series!

Writers Unite! is fortunate to have among its members, many bloggers, and essayists who write content about the writing process or their author’s journey or both. We will be posting their articles for your information and enjoyment. Please read and comment, visit the author’s website, blog, or Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram and share!

Part “Isa” and Part “Dalawa” are Tagalog for 1 & 2 respectively.

Planning Vs. Pantsing, Part Isa

Planning Vs. Pantsing, Part Dalawa

By Enzo Stephens

When we go on vacation to some warm locale with swaying palm trees and soft, gentle ocean breezes and sand that likes to mysteriously work its way into surprising anatomical crevices, one of the first things I say — usually with a huge sigh, is “Ahhhh, how wonderful it is to not have to wear pants.”

Kind of crazy for a dude to say, but there it is.

The fact is that for a guy (and maybe for the ladies too), pants are binding.  We have to loosen our belts (that hold our pants up) after chowing down that four chili-cheese dogs (topped with fresh onions and cayenne pepper — do it right!), because those damned pants are like a noose around the waist.

So, do you feel me when I breathe that sigh of relief upon arrival at some tropical locale?

As my well-traveled friend would say, “You and your first-world problems.”

So all that said, in the writing community, the inverse of that diatribe is the truth; pantsing is liberating.

“Pantsing” is a term used to describe unplanned writing.  In short, the writer gets an idea or a scene in their mind and then they just… let it fly.

At one time this method used to bug the bejeebers out of me.  Why? Because every time I’d sit down with a fabulous idea and crank it out, it would pretty much just die on the vine.  Ten, fifteen pages of outstanding prose that just peters out.

To me, that was a fail in my quest to write the Great American Novel and supplant Mr. King as the Great American Novelist.  It slew my dream.

It’s a tenuous connection, but then my writing technique was pretty immature back then.  To me, it was all about causality, and if I was going to succeed in my writing career, I needed a different approach.

Ergo the planning method, and I totally embraced that method, and it was a huge success for me.  Again, causality. The more I crafted full-scale novels, the more I embraced planning.

But here’s the thing…

Writing stopped being fun.  It became a job.

And that just took the wind out of my sails, big-time.  I didn’t talk about these fantastic stories at parties anymore; I wasn’t driven by inspiration anymore.  

Over 60 books later and I was feeling pretty burnt out, although the process I’d developed for myself was a significant success, I was — dare I say, bored.  

For a fiction author to get bored?  Well, that just sucks.

Well, then the host of this blog site flashed a picture on Facebook that I saw for the first time last February, along with the words ‘Write The Story,’ and I thought, ‘well, that’s a cool idea.’  Three thousand words? I can do that in my sleep (which was truer than I care to admit).

So what’s the first thing I did?  I pulled out my planning tools.

UGH.

I wrote some ridiculous drivel about the wonders of paint or some such nonsense; read it and promptly threw it in the crapper.  Now, all of a sudden, this little exercise became difficult.

I kvetched about it to my closet confidant, and after she let me blather on for gawd-knows-how-long (and several gin & tonics), she kicked back in her chair and laughed at me.  That kind of got my dander up a bit, but then she ’splained…

“Remember all those times when I’d ask you to tell me a story to help me fall asleep?”

“Yeah, but they put you to sleep, so they must have sucked.”

“No, doofus!  You came up with that stuff on the fly!”

DING

My goodness, that is One.  Wise. Woman.

In other words, I was pantsing, even when I didn’t know the term.  And I dare say that all of us writers do it. It’s inspiration!

That said, I tackled that Write The Story exercise again with gusto and cranked out a strange, rambling dissertation on the possible sinister history of the room in the picture prompt, and I never looked back.

I have re-discovered the JOY in writing, and have since put together some really weird and fun short stories that have helped me to truly express myself; to build a level of depth and humanity in my characters that seemed to have disappeared over the years, and so on and so on.

Pantsing has helped my writing skills evolve to the Next Level (well, in my mind anyway).  I have no idea if I’ll ever supplant Mr. King as the next Great American Novelist, and frankly, I really don’t care.

Because writing is fun again!

Now I am able to combine the best of both and that’s where my path to creation of inspired novels lie, and I’m thrilled to share here that I’ve got a series well underway.  Yes, it’s well planned and meticulous using the tools I described in Part Isa, but the specific scenes, now that’s a different story.

Those scenes are ‘pantsed,’ and by Slocum, they have been an absolute blast to write!

Planning AND Pantsing.  Try them together, and watch your writing take off!

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Next: Ghostwriting.

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Author Bio:

Enzo Stephens has a serious case of professional ADHD.  He’s a professional writer with over 60 novels ghosted and several under his own name.  He’s an active blogger and has fallen in love with knocking out short stories.
Enzo is a retired Marine and a martial arts instructor for longer than most people have been alive, and his cats, wife and kids merely tolerate his nonsense.

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For more of Enzo’s writing visit him on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Enzo.stephens.5011 or check out the monthly archives here on the WU! blog.

( Please note: the images used as prompts are free-use images and do not require attribution.)  

Enzo Stephens: Writer’s Block

Writers Unite!’s Featured Blog Series!

Writers Unite! is fortunate to have among its members, many bloggers, and essayists who write content about the writing process or their author’s journey or both. We will be posting their articles for your information and enjoyment. Please read and comment, visit the author’s website, blog, or Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram and share!

Writer’s Block

By Enzo Stephens

The Great Plague of all writers throughout the course of history. Writer’s Block. It’s such a big deal that both words get capital letters!

Just had a comical image pop into my head of an ancient writer encountering writer’s block as he’s trying to etch scribblings on a stone tablet. Doesn’t make a lick of historical sense, but there it is.

For as many writers as there have been throughout history — and I venture to say each and every one of them has hit the proverbial wall called Writer’s Block, well, just as many have the solution to the problem and are more than eager to share their wisdom.

Add me to the ranks of the eager.

Writer’s Block is a problem (for writers).

Understanding the root cause of the problem is typically one of the first and foremost steps in resolving the problem. Makes perfect sense to me.

But I’m more of a Doer instead of a Thinker; I’m not cerebral by any stretch — even though my pappy used to kvetch at me about being stuck inside my own head all the time; so my solutions tend to be pretty basic, though they’re effective for me. 

For me, as with many prolific scribblers, my brain is a non-stop hamster wheel of stories; and not ‘stories’ per se, but scenes and snippets, dialogues, action shots, what-if scenarios, and Great Ideas for a Story. 

So, from the very outset, sitting down to belt out a story requires an immediate discipline to corral my thoughts and stop that hamster wheel. And the bigger the story, the greater discipline required, and for me, that’s a huge Writer’s Block. Hell, half the time I just don’t feel like containing the chaos!

I don’t struggle for words or to figure out how to say things that are impactful; I have too much to say! Reining all that in is a JOB!

(You should see how much of a battle I go through to do a novel! Yeesh! Hello, brain… you suck!)

Ergo (I really like that word!), seems to me that my solution works whether I’ve got too much to say and I need to nail stuff down, or if I have nothing to say and I have to break the logjam. I have two proven, tried-and-true solutions to share with y’all.

Conversation

I really like this technique. Dialogue is — in my opinion, some of the easiest stuff to write. It’s just two people talking. Happens all the time, everywhere across the world, and it happens for everyone.

“But Enzo, an imaginary conversation?”

Nah, screw that. Look, all of us have conversations that just don’t go the way we want them to go. Maybe we left things unsaid that should have been said.

So say them!

Write it out.

Don’t punctuate, don’t dialogue-tag, just write it. What was said, and then you make it fiction by finishing off what you WANTED to say, or what SHOULD have been said.

After you write it, go grab an adult beverage, come back and read it. You’ll love it! Why? Because it’s what you wanted to say; the conversation went the way you wanted it to go, even if it’s only fiction.

BOOM! 

Stream It

Aka, Stream-of-Consciousness writing.

I absolutely love this technique. Here’s what to do:

1. Put yourself in a place with no distractions.

2. Set your alarm for five minutes in the future.

3. Open a blank document, wordpad, whatever.

4. Write!

Sounds a little ridiculous, doesn’t it? But really, this is hugely effective when stuck for verbiage.

Here’s what to write about…

Whatever. 

One other rule for this exercise: don’t punctuate or paragraph.

So the end result ends up being a big fat blob of nonsense. I did this once and wrote nothing but profanity, and then I spent the next several days laughing hysterically at it. It was good sh^t; funny as all get out and outrageously graphic.

Here’s the hidden beauty of doing this; somewhere in that mess you’ll discover the kernel, word, verbiage, thought, whatever that kick-starts your Muse right in her tukas.

Remember. 

This isn’t to get you over your particular block; it’s to encourage you to remember what you really love about telling stories, even if it’s only just to tell stories. 

Re-Discover your JOY.

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Next from Enzo Stephens: Planning vs. Pantsing

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For more of Enzo’s writing visit him on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Enzo.stephens.5011 or check out the monthly archives here on the WU! blog.

( Please note: the images used as prompts are free-use images and do not require attribution.)  

Paula Shablo: Getting to “The End” (Writing Conundrums)

Writers Unite!’s Featured Blog Series!

Writers Unite! is fortunate to have among its members, many bloggers, and essayists who write content about the writing process or their author’s journey or both. We will be posting their articles for your information and enjoyment. Please read and comment, visit the author’s website, blog, or Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram and share!

Getting to “The End” (Writing Conundrums)

By Paula Shablo

I don’t know that my recent lack of motivation to finish my book could accurately be termed “writer’s block,” since I have, in the meantime, written several other things.

I have the ending plotted out in my head, and I’ve made copious notes in my notebook working out the “how to get there from here” logistics.

I am at that point in writing where I always seem to land as a project nears the end—I don’t want to be done with the story, so I stall.

Logically, I know I won’t be finished. Far from it. I will be reading and re-reading, looking for spelling errors, plot holes, continuity.

In my process, a lot of the above editing will get addressed before I actually write the finale. It all has to knit together, and sometimes beginning to end doesn’t mesh on the first try.

I dislike re-writing endings. Since I don’t always know the ending when I begin—I am a “seat of the pants” writer, for the most part, especially with stories that exceed 50,000 words—I often have to address the beginning and middle of my story before I can complete it.

So, I am reading. Brushing things up. Changing whole scenes. Adding and subtracting. Re-doing research, just to make sure I have any historical references correct.

This is important—I once published a work with a very tiny scene referencing a baseball game between the Yankees and the Braves, who don’t even play in the same league! Embarrassing! Of course, I corrected it, but oh! My credibility!

Sure, I could claim alternate universe, but…lie, lie, lie. I goofed! I learned a valuable lesson. Check, re-check and check again.

This doesn’t ensure I will never goof again—undoubtedly, I will. I am not perfect, or even close.

Having confessed my Achilles heel—reluctance to reach “The End”—I’m curious: Do any of you writers here have the same writing issue? I’d love to read your comments!

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For more of Paula’s stories and articles please visit her blog:

Penz -o- Paula

Abby Hauck Cannabis Content: How to Write Engaging Content

Writers Unite!’s Featured Blog Series!

Writers Unite! is fortunate to have among its members, many bloggers, and essayists who write content about the writing process or their author’s journey or both. We will be posting their articles for your information and enjoyment. Please read and comment, visit the author’s website, blog, or Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram and share!

Admin Note: This is an excellent article on writing engaging content and is applicable to anyone writing a book or promoting a book or writing services.

How to Write Engaging Content

Copy is the term used to describe content written to sell a product or service. Copy can be anything from a banner ad offering 30 percent off to an informative article published on a company’s website. Though the former is certainly an important part of an effective marketing strategy, it is the latter that we will be focusing on today, specifically, how to write engaging content without sounding too “salesy”.

But before we dive into the “how” part of this article, let’s discuss the mentality of the average online reader. The fact is, most people surfing the web don’t want to be sold something at every turn – instead, they want to learn something, or at least be entertained by it. It is therefore up to you to add value to the content you create – the sales pitch can come later.

Determine Your Focus

The most important part of copywriting is understanding the goal of the content. Is it to inform? To entertain? Perhaps to enlighten readers about a problem and to inform them of a solution? Whatever the goal, the document topic should closely align with the reader’s needs and expectations. Don’t create a vague title or produce overly complicated content, just describe the subject in the title and expand on it in the document. (We’ll go over a few methods for choosing a topic in a later article so stay tuned!)

Research Your Topic

The research phase is often the most time-consuming part of the content development process and is, by far, the most valuable, as well. Research helps you gain a better understanding of the subject and will give you an idea of the best information to include in the document. If you want to write engaging content, you must research the topics your readers are interested in.

The best way to start the research process is to copy and paste the document title into a search bar. You’ll likely find a wealth of information on the subject; be sure to read many articles to gather well-rounded information and to avoid simply “spinning” someone else’s content into your own. Don’t forget to read the comment section, as well, as this can provide insight regarding common questions your readers have.

Also, pay attention to common words and phrases as this can help you decide which keyword(s) to optimize your content with. Other ways to find strong keywords include searching sites like Google Trends, Keyword Tool, or simply noting auto-populated terms from search bars.

Develop an Outline

I am a huge fan of outlines. Outlines help organize thoughts and information and give structure to the writing process. A strong outline not only ensures that all information is covered, but saves time – and headaches – once the real writing begins.

To begin, list at least three main points the document should cover. Structure the points as subheaders (including a keyword focus plus variations of the keyword or phrase) then use bullets below the subheads with the details you wish to include.

Next, go through and add details and source links, and rearrange information as needed for better flow. Remember, the more detail you add here, the easier the writing process will be later, especially if you use your own words rather than copy/pasting someone else’s (which would have to be rewritten later anyway).

When adding source links to your outline, try grabbing links from credible sources which you will use in link building to improve the credibility of your content and thereby the credibility of the site on which the content is published. When possible, reference the original source of information instead of an article that simply links to it.

After outlining the points you wish to cover, create a brief introduction and conclusion that summarize those main points. Feel free to reference other articles on the subject to help get the creative juices flowing (and to familiarize yourself with the lingo your readers are most familiar with).

Flesh Out the Content

To write engaging content you have to, well, write the content. This step is largely a matter of filling in the blanks with complete sentences and descriptive terms. As mentioned, the process is much easier if the outline is detailed and includes your own complete, unique sentences. In this case, you may only need to add a few transitional words and sentences, removing the outline format along the way.

When writing your document, pay attention to your use of language and sentence structure. Don’t waste your reader’s time (and client’s money) with redundant phrases like “added bonus”, “close proximity”, or “future plans”, and use bullets when possible to improve scanability.

Use terminology your reader is familiar with and add hyperlinks when necessary to provide additional information. Ensure links are from credible sources or, better yet, from other pages on the company’s website. Link building is an important part of SEO; the importance of valuable hyperlinks cannot be understated. Remember, to write engaging content, you must provide readers with links they find valuable, as well.

Finally, develop an introduction and a conclusion to summarize the topic of the document. Introductions and conclusions needn’t be long but they should give the reader a clear understanding of what they will read or what they just read respectively.

Wrap up with a call-to-action, or CTA, to guide readers on their journey. Don’t leave them hanging; give your readers a clear path to follow. Whether to encourage them to contact the company, leave a message, or follow them on social media, a CTA is a great way to boost content engagement.

Edit, Edit, Edit

Writing a conclusion does not mean you’re done. On the contrary; the editing phase ensures a document is informative, easy to understand, and as concise as possible. Though many writers dread this phase, it is vital to ensuring the client – and the readers – are happy with the content you produce. Don’t be afraid to delete and re-write as necessary, using grammar checkers like Grammarly as needed.

After writing and editing your content, submit it to the client. You’ll do this directly through your dashboard and, upon approval, will receive payment at the end of the month to your PayPal account. Should the client need revisions, kindly oblige within a day or two maximum lest they deny your work and choose another writer. Always be prompt and courteous and remember: happy clients are returning clients; if you appease them, they will likely ask you to write engaging content for them again in the future.

Continue to Write Engaging Content

It takes practice but developing strong content gets easier in time, especially after gaining knowledge about your niche. Strong copywriters are in demand and if you produce excellent content, clients will not only return for more orders, they will recommend you to their network, as well. Remember, your success as a cannabis copywriter depends on the effort you put into both writing engaging content and honing your craft so take your time, do your research, and become the cannabis copywriting rock star you were always meant to be.

— Abby Hauck

Resources:

How to Write Engaging Content

Cannabis Content

Please note: Cannabis Content logo and image are used with the permission of the website.

Paula Shablo Blog: Sharing is Caring

When the Writers Unite! Admins decided to start the Featured Blogger Series for the members, we were not expecting one of the first blog posts we would share would be about WU!  However, member Paula Shablo has been kind enough to share her thoughts regarding the group. We are not a group prone to touting ourselves but hearing what being a member has meant to Paula is something we wanted to share. Thank you to Paula for her kind blog post and to all of you that support this group every day.

Sharing is Caring

By Paula Shablo

I am giving a New Year’s shout out to a website that has become very important to me in the past year.

https://writersuniteweb.wordpress.com/

Writers Unite! is a platform for writers to share their experiences with the writing process, and their blog site is a wonderful place full of stories by many different writers.

“Write the Story”, one of their features, has given me the opportunity to share several stories in 2019 that almost certainly never would have been written if not for the clever prompts they share with followers each month.

Please, do yourself a favor and visit the blog. You can also follow them on Facebook, here:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/145324212487752/

Enjoy!

Please visit Paula on her blog and enjoy her wonderful stories and her insightful posts about life. https://paulashablo.wordpress.com/

Featured Blogger Series

Bloggers! Need more exposure?

Join Writers Unite!’s Featured Blogger Series!

As we have done with the Write the Story! project, WU! hopes to bring more followers to your blogs!

If you have blog articles about the writing process or your journey as a writer, please submit it to Deborah Ratliff on Facebook Messenger or send an email to writersunite16@gmail.com, subject line: Featured Blogger Series.

The Rules:

  • Articles must be on the topic of writing.
  • Can concern fiction, non-fiction, or poetry.
  • Be approximately 1000 words or less.
  • MUST be edited and ready for publication.

Articles will be posted on the Writers Unite! WordPress blog and shared across our platforms. Include bios and links to your blog. Members will be encouraged to share the posts, as well. We ask that you share the link to our blog on your site.

Please note: You do not have to be a blogger to share an article. The same rules will apply. We reserve the right to reject any submission if not edited or appropriate.