Top 10 Reasons to Write Your Novel Out of Order

Great novels feel seamless. 

The plot is tight, the conflict compelling and believable, the characters jump off the page. Every detail feels organic, as though it couldn’t have been written in any other way than what we’re reading.

This impression, however, can be a little misleading. 

When we flip through published novels on bookstore shelves, it’s all too easy to imagine that the writer simply sat down and churned out the book from beginning to end. 

But this is actually not how most authors work.

Research comparing processes of novice and advanced writers finds that experienced writers tend to work on whatever is easiest for them at the moment, rather than forcing themselves to work in a specific order.

Many writers I’ve worked with who write out of sequence (especially those of us with ADHD) view their nonlinear approach as a sign of their own incompetence—when in actuality it’s a sign that they’re relatively advanced in their process.

So here’s the good news: Just because our readers will read the story linearly, from page one to The End, doesn’t mean we have to write it that way—it doesn’t mean our process has to be linear.

Writing out of sequence can be incredibly freeing, and there are a lot of advantages to this approach.

Here are my top ten reasons to write your novel out of order:

Continue reading Top 10 Reasons to Write Your Novel Out of Order

Beyond Plotter/Pantser: How to Level-Up Your Writing Practice

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

This question comes up a quite a bit in the online writing community, drawing a distinction between the writers who painstakingly map out their plot before writing (the “plotter”) and those who write “by the seat of their pants” and dive into writing without planning (the “pantser”).

At first glance, this distinction seems useful. And in many ways, it is.

But there is a lot more to this question than people realize—and a huge missed opportunity in the way it’s currently being asked!

Continue reading Beyond Plotter/Pantser: How to Level-Up Your Writing Practice

How to Eliminate Writer’s Block with Freewriting

woman in orange shirt looking at laptop, her hands on the sides of her head

Note: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links—that means we make a small commission when you purchase through them. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, and it helps support our efforts to keep this blog going.


We’ve all been there. 

Our fingers freeze above the keyboard. The pen stops scribbling, seemingly of its own accord. The cursor blinks, taunting us.

Maybe we don’t know what happens next in the story. Maybe we feel overwhelmed at how much revision the draft needs, so we avoid opening the document altogether. Maybe we’re frustrated, confused, or just plain bored.

Whether you want to call it writer’s block, losing your mojo, or a creative speed-bump—feeling like you can’t keep writing can really, really suck.

There are a multitude of strategies for busting through blocks, but freewriting might be the simplest of them all. 

Free your pen, free your mind

The concept of freewriting is very straightforward: Set a timer for five to ten minutes and write—typically longhand, with pen and paper—without stopping or worrying about mechanics, grammar, or quality of writing. 

Try to keep your pen moving until the timer goes off, even if all you can write is “I don’t know what to write.” Just keep going.

Freewriting is not a new concept. William Butler Yeats, Dorothea Brande, and Jack Kerouac all used freewriting in one form or another. Natalie Goldberg and Julia Cameron both advocate for freewriting as an important developmental practice for writers and artists alike.

The goal is not to produce “good” writing; rather, the ultimate goal of freewriting is to free up your mind to put words on the page, stretch your imagination, and get the creative juices flowing.

Here are 10 different ways you can use freewriting to overcome writer’s block.

Continue reading How to Eliminate Writer’s Block with Freewriting

How to Stick to Your Writing Resolutions All Year Long

There’s nothing magical about the New Year.

Nothing supernatural happens when the clocks click midnight on January 1st.

But New Year’s can (and does) still hold the potential to be incredibly powerful. This is something that every writer knows: narrative, and our sense of a shift in narrative, can be hugely impactful. 

That’s why we set New Year’s resolutions—and why many of us feel a renewed energy at the beginning of the year.

But with almost a month of 2020 behind us, the strength of conviction we felt when we set our resolutions may be starting to dwindle. In fact, 80% of people who make New Year’s resolutions will abandon them by the second week of February!

Let’s not be part of that statistic this year. Here are three simple strategies to help you stick to your New Year’s writing resolutions—not just for a month or two, but all year long:

Continue reading How to Stick to Your Writing Resolutions All Year Long

5 Easy Ways to Write More While Traveling

This post contains affiliate/referral links. Purchasing a product through an affiliate link doesn’t cost you anything extra, but it does help make this blog possible! 


As a writer, I love to travel.

I differentiate this travel-love from the spark of wanderlust most everyone carries—this travel-love is about getting inspired, stealing tidbits from experiences I never would have had otherwise, and slipping them between pages in a story.

I’m a bit of a creeper, to be honest.

I’ll eavesdrop on conversations in coffee shops, even if I don’t understand the language, just to get a sense of the rhythm of emotional exchange. I’ll watch the local woman haggle for a better price on oranges while her kids weave around her varicose legs. I’ll write down every detail I can soak in—from the smell of the trees that only grow on this island, to the shape of the clouds over the sun at noon, to the insults drivers shout at one another in rush-hour traffic.

This is a kind of travel-love I think a lot of writers share.

But traveling for writers comes with its own share of challenges. How do we maintain our practice while on the road? How do we keep a routine when the very nature of travel disrupts the routines we spent so much time and energy cultivating?

And how do we maintain a balance between experiencing the place we’re in and holding space for our work?

It may sound crazy, but I find I’m often more productive while on vacation. This is because I know I’ll have a limited amount of time, and so I go in with a plan that is realistic for me to execute but still leaves space for what I want to accomplish.

Here are 5 things to think about as you get ready for your writing/traveling adventure so you can write more while still enjoying your vacation. Continue reading 5 Easy Ways to Write More While Traveling

How To Turn Distraction Into Your Best Writing Session Ever

I am a writer.

I also have ADD.

But I suspect this experience is not entirely unfamiliar to other writers:

I’m working on a story, and then—BAM—I’m hit with a brilliant idea for another project, or a scene for later on in the piece, or a detail I want to make sure to include somewhere, etc.

The problem?

I either get so absorbed in the new idea that I completely lose focus on what I was working on, or I tell myself I’ll remember the new idea (but never, ever do).

Worse still, I sometimes try to maintain focus on both at the same time, trying to remember the new idea while still working on the original piece, rendering both efforts frustratingly inaccessible and mediocre.

My hands already cramp up trying to keep up with the speed of my thoughts; now I’m trying to hold onto an idea (or more than one!) while also pursuing a separate thread of attention. It’s simply not possible.

Writing on its own is hard enough—and research reflects this.

Continue reading How To Turn Distraction Into Your Best Writing Session Ever

How to Set Goals That Will Actually Make You Write

Last month you said you’d have 50,000 words by the end of the summer. Last week you said you’d finish your story by the end of this week. Yesterday you said, for the 100th time, “I’ll write tomorrow.”

Sound familiar?

I’ve been there—making promise after promise, scribbling an arbitrary word count on a post-it note like it was going to force my fingers to the keyboard.

And I’ll be honest: sometimes I’m still there.

It was worst during the year that followed turning in my MFA thesis. Now that deadlines no longer breathed down my neck, there was nothing constantly driving me—or my writing—forward.

Nerd that I am, I researched my heart out. I read up on productivity, on goal-setting strategies, on the writing habits of famous authors. I dove so deep into the work of others I forgot my own, and every time I tried a new strategy, I gave up almost immediately.

I was thinking a lot about how to get myself to write, but I still wasn’t writing.

Why wasn’t I writing?

And it wasn’t just me.

This was an issue plaguing many of my friends and fellow MFA grads—and it continues to be an issue for a lot of writers.

The problem with the way we set writing goals is, most of the time, we’re not doing so in a way that will actually get us to sit down and write.

We make the mistake of assuming that because so-and-so famous writer produced a thousand words a day, or followed such-and-such specific schedule, that we have to operate within the same goal-setting framework. As though all writers are wired the same!

Which is crazy, really, because something that often defines writers is how not like everyone else we are.

We pride ourselves in thinking outside of the box, in seeing the world differently—and yet we try to fence ourselves within these arbitrary parameters because, hey, it worked for Hemingway/King/Woolf/insert-famous-author-here.

The key to setting effective writing goals is recognizing that different writers write differently—and should set their goals accordingly. When I struggled to set writing goals that worked, I failed to consider a crucial piece of the equation: me.

I’ve outlined three goal-setting styles below—along with how to decide which approach is the right fit and how to modify them to make your goals work for you.

Continue reading How to Set Goals That Will Actually Make You Write