Posted in Be a smart writer

6 simple tools which will accelerate your writing progress

Like I stated in the article entitled on how to write when everyday life leaves you exhausted, we will always be too tired and busy to write our novels. Luckily, we can simplify and accelerate our writing progress by using different tools.

Let’s start with the basics:

  • Story planner – I know that many authors use Scrivener, but I didn’t try it yet, so I’ll recommend another story planner, which has also the advantage of being free. I am talking about Bibisco. With Bibisco, you can plan your novel chapter by chapter and scene by scene. There are extensive questionnaires for creation of characters and places for location descriptions. You can also upload photos. The greatest advantage of Bibisco is that it keeps all the notes in one place and you can export everything easily with just a click. I recommend it especially for those who plan long and complex novels – if you are working with short stories, Excel will do.
  • Editing tool – The most popular editing tools are Grammarly and Pro Writing Aid. You can try them and if you find them useful, you can subscribe for a monthly or yearly plan. I have chosen Grammarly and honestly, I can’t imagine writing without it. You don’t know how many mistakes you make while writing, until a software points them out to you. Yesterday I checked 10 000 words from one of my newest novels. Grammarly found 400 issues for me, including grammar, interpunction, variety and clarity problems. In addition, it provides the total reading time and evaluates your text, analysing the complexity of vocabulary you are using. I still hire an editor to edit after me and Grammarly, but at least I have a feeling that the text I am sending to the editor is devoid of minor mistakes. Why is that important? Well, if an editor sees a lot of minor mistakes, they’ll focus on them. While I want the editor to point out what I truly can’t see.

And now, let’s get creative:

  • Article rewriting tool – I haven’t found one that I would recommend 100% yet, but you can try Spinbot. Sometimes, such tools won’t work the way they should and they can throw back at you really funny things. However, they still worthy of our time. Why? Because when we want to paraphrase a text, we don’t need to seek synonyms one by one. We can do it in a bulk and have the whole rewritten sentence ready. A reason why you might want to paraphrase is when you have to write a very similar scene to the one you already wrote, but you don’t want to repeat yourself.
  • Random word generator – Random Lists, this free online tool will pick a number of random English words for you. It can be 12 or more. Why does it matter to us writers? Because sometimes, especially in times of creative drought, we don’t know which words use to use, and sometimes, simply seeing a bunch of new words we wouldn’t think about will be inspiring enough to strike “a writing response”. Do you remember when you were learning a language (any language) and the teacher asked you to build sentences with words given? It’s one of the best creative exercises ever that we’ve been taught with school.
  • Book title generator – I am not saying that you should just pick up any title for your novel or chapter, but it’s worth taking a look if you can’t think of anything on your own. Sometimes just seeing a word will inspire you. I recommend this book title generator, as it has many genres to choose from.
  • Word lists – List of colors, hobbies, bucket list dreams and quirks… All those can be found on the internet, and if you need anything more specific, like characteristics of weapons, attractive traits or plot twists, you can always grab an Amazon copy of books written by Rayne Hall, Dahlia Evans or Bryn Donovan. In short words, don’t reinvent the wheel: there are resources shared by authors all around the world.

Thanks to all these tools, I:

  • Have all the parts of my novel in one orderly place and can find easily the parts that I am looking for;
  • Don’t need to worry too much about interpunction and spelling mistakes;
  • Can quickly recycle already written scenes using synonyms;
  • Have sets of inspiring vocabulary that can help me build the next scene of my novel when I am completely stuck;
  • Find novel and chapter titles much quicker;
  • Research less as someone else did that for me already.

I hope that you find these tools useful and your writing routine becomes easier and quicker. Stay inspired!

Posted in All Articles, Be a smart writer

Should you translate your own books?

What’s the worst nightmare of a polyglot writer? Translating their own novels. This is not a joke – this is reality. (At least in my case.)

Reasons why you might want to translate the book on your own:

  • You are guaranteed that the book won’t lose its soul after translation. If you are highly critical of any changes applied to your text by the editor, and think that anyone other than you will probably do your text more harm than good, then you should translate the book by yourself.
  • You will save money. Translations are costly, and the longer the book, the more money its translation will need. If you can’t afford a translation, you have only two options: either translate it yourself or somehow find the money for translation (e.g. fundraisers, seeking sponsors, taking part in contests etc.).

Reasons why you might consider to ask a translator’s help:

  • Translating is rewriting your book in another language. All the worries you had about using the right words will resurface with even greater power. You might start questioning the text and feel attempted to fix it. If you give in, you will never translate it till the end. When you translate, you must conquer the inner author and become a translator and editor, which is not always that easy.
  • Translating is time consuming. The time you could spend on writing a new book is spent on translating. In addition, experienced translators are much more efficient than newbies, and use professional software that simplifies the translation process. Unless translating is your “real job”, you probably don’t have enough experience and appropriate tools to do it correctly.
  • Post-translation editing is optional in case of a professional translation. The translator has to make sure that the text they are translating is readable. This means that you don’t need to worry about language correctness. What you need to worry about is the structure and transparency of the text – it should be edited at least once before being seen by the translator. If you translate on your own, however, you might need to have someone edit your text before and after translation.

Here are some additional matters to consider:

If you are translating on your own:

  • You might feel tempted to give automated translators a chance and this… is a good idea. Two heads are better than one. It’s always easier and faster to correct a translation that’s already done rather than translating on your own word by word.
  • Be sure to divide the work in chunks: know how much you need to translate per day and stick to it.
  • Be very patient. Don’t make erratic goals like “I will finish next month”.

If you have hired a translator:

  • Keep in mind that if you are trying to save money on translation, the quality of the text might not be very good.
  • If you are asking to translate more than 50 pages it’s a good idea to ask the translator for a discount.
  • Ask the translator if they are familiar with punctuation in the foreign language. If not, post translation editing is required.
  • It is ok to ask about the progress of the work, but do not rush the translator. They are doing what they can.
  • Keep in mind that if the text is difficult, the translation will be slower.
  • If there is anything that the translator should pay special attention to, tell them before they start their work.
  • Keep in mind that for the translation your book is not as special as it is for you; don’t expect them to put it on the pedestal and ignore all their other projects because they have your book.
  • Always pay the translator for their work and do it on time. It might seem shocking, but yes, there are people who pay the translator three months or even half a year later. Don’t do it. It’s really a source of frustration for the translator.

I hope that this article helped you decide whether you should translate your own books or let someone else do it. Remember that there are no wrong choices. If you have translated the half of your book and are tired, it’s ok to contact a translator to finish your job. I generally believe that indie authors don’t need to do everything on their own and should delegate others to help them. And what is your opinion? 🙂

Stay inspired!

Posted in All Articles, Be a smart writer

Priceless tip to overcome the fear of a blank page

You have a brilliant idea… that is, until you see a blank page in front of you. Suddenly, the idea is gone, and you are confused, stuck and angry. If this situation rings a bell, then this post is for you.

The problem with the blank page is thing we associate it with, which is lack of ideas, emotions, words. It might be so, because we all have heard the Latin idiom tabula rasa, meaning blank slate, and often used to describe empty minds. Blank slate is not very different from a blank page , and it’s natural to feel like you’ve lost track of what you were planning to write if you keep looking at it.

Here is my tip on what to do if the blank page scares you:

Don’t focus on it. You won’t find your story there. Your story is not on the blank page. It is in your mind. This is why you must look within yourself. Focus on what is in your head and heart!

The white page is merely a container, into which you will be pouring your story. Imagine you wanted to make marmalade. But instead of preparing the fruits, sugar and other ingredients, you’d keep looking at the marmalade jar, wondering how to turn the inside air into marmalade…

I learned this lesson from Rachel Chen:

“Sometimes I had an idea of what I wanted to draw, but when I looked at the blank page in front of me, the idea was suddenly gone. Blank pages overwhelm people, because they are empty spaces that must be filled. And as we know, each and every empty space has an infinite potential of what it can become. It is very overwhelming for a sensitive artist. I realized I had to look inside me to find the drawing I wanted to draw, instead of letting the blank page guide me in its confusing way.”

I realized that it had a lot to do with writing, and could help many writers scared of the white page. So, I wrote this post! I hope that it helps. Stay inspired!

Posted in Be a smart writer

How to measure writing progress?

Writing goals are big goals. And achieving big goals often takes time and patience. We live in a world of instant gratification and often feel discouraged, when we’ve been working on one project for years and it’s still far away from finished (or perfect).

Tracking our writing progress regularly and celebrating small victories is very important. This post will help you how to measure your writing progress in terms of quality and quantity.

MEASURING QUALITY

  • Re-read your older works. The contrast between your current and earlier works will show you your newest skills. Sometimes we are not even aware of how much we grew as writers until we get the chance to re-read something we’ve written years before. If you haven’t cleaned your writing folder yet, do it now!
  • Ask a professional (!) to write an extended analysis and review of your work. I am suggesting a professional, because most readers who write reviews provide their subjective opinions.
  • Write a list of creative writing skills that you’ve acquired and feel proud of. Think about each of them. How do they make you a better writer?

MEASURING QUANTITY

The word count is just one of many parameters that you can use to measure the amounts of text that you have written. Here are others:

If you are writing / have written:

  • Number of chapters written:

  • Number of chapters edited:

  • Number of books finished and waiting for editing:

  • Number of books finished and edited:

  • Number of books sent to the publishing house:

  • Number of publishing houses you contacted, regardless of the result:

If you have published at least one book:

  • Number of books sold (total):

  • Number of books sold (to libraries):

  • Number of positive reviews (from friends and family):

  • Number of positive reviews (from strangers):

  • Number of times your book was added to the wish list:

  • Number of results when you google your book:

  • Number of results when you google your name:

  • Number of social media on which you appear as author:

  • Number of authors meetings (in libraries, schools etc.):

  • Number of people who contacted you only because you are an author:

If you create free online content / are building a fanbase:

  • Number of views on your blog / homepage / Wattpad:

  • Number of comments on your blog / homepage / Wattpad:

  • Number of likes / reblogs:

  • Number of fans on all social media / newsletter subscribers:

And you? What ways do you use when you want to track your writing progress? Share them under this post with me and the rest of the readers! Stay inspired.

Posted in Be a smart writer, Writer's life, Writer's problems

Commenting on EU copyright law: I’d rather have my copyrights respected than laugh at memes: what about you?

Do you care more about having hilarious memes or about your copyrights being respected?

If you had the chance to really earn money for the content you are creating, thanks to copyright protection, would you still vote against the new EU copyright law?

Before you contact the European Parliament (as Wikipedia suggest you), think about the consequences – especially if you are a content creator.

People are panicking because of the article 13 of EU’s new copyright law: “a regulation that will force websites to filter out text, audio, photos and video shared by users against an ever-expanding database of copyrighted works” (source). Yes, it might be the end of our precious and beloved memes, as well as parodies, remixes, fan videos etc. But it’s a blessing in disguise: it will protect us, creators.

I sometimes look at fanpages here and there and my blood is boiling when I see that 90-100% of the posts contain stolen materials that breach copyrights. It’s like taking a dress from a clothing shop without paying for it and going for a photoshoot, getting likes and follows and oh, not returning the dress but keeping it in your wardrobe. That’s exactly what’s happening when you post an entry with a copyright-protected image.

The creation of digital media is a new type of work. It requires time, efforts and skill. And it deserves to be paid. There are so many talented people on the internet right now, writers, editors, artists, musicians – but they won’t earn they money they deserve because consumers think that everything posted on the internet is free and can be used as they please. 

Consumers must learn to differentiate between the public domain / creative commons materials and protected materials. Memes, remixed and fan videos can still be created as long as various licenses are respected.

People are earning more and more, eating better, working out under the eye of trained coaches, spending money on membership cards, events, tickets, holidays, gifts, clothes and other material possessions. And yet, they are thieves on the internet. Why is that so? Because “nobody will notice”, “this is just for private use”, “I’m not important enough to be sued?”. Or maybe because “an e-book is not material anyways”? If you print an e-book than you’ve stolen, it’s not different from stealing a book from a book shop. Then why is everyone doing it? It’s not poverty – it’s greed. 

The European Union’s copyright law will help non-creators understand that digital media are goods no different from material things that are available in shops. I am sure that after the copyright protections are launched, more and more content creators will start earning.

Writers – wouldn’t it be awesome to stop worrying about your newest book getting pirated as soon as you release it? Wouldn’t you want all the illegal copies of your sweat and tears removed from torrents?

Personally, I really have no intention to write or sign any petition against the EU copyright law. I think that it’s there to protect me. I really care more about my copyrights being respected rather than having hilarious memes, remixes and fan videos.

What about you?