Posted in All Articles, Learning from masters

The characteristics of “light” and “heavy” writing

Let’s start from the fact that “writing lighter”, as well as “light writing”, “light pen” etc. are all polonisms. Polish people will say these phrases to describe writing which flows smoothly and is easy to read.

When I was a teen, I’ve heard it very often about my writing. However, I wasn’t sure what made my writing this way, and with time, I think, I lost the capability to “write lightly”. It is so, because “writing lightly” is a characteristic of young writers, and once you start studying literature, you will associate “light writing” with “inaccurate writing”. Right now, I don’t think that “writing lightly” is writing in an inaccurate way. I think that it’s a style, like using too much adverbs etc. There is a war about adverbs out there, I’ll write about it, soon.

Let’s focus on “light writing”. I think that the best way to understand it is to compare it with its opposite: “heavy writing”.

The Polish people will often say, “classical books are heavy”. This means, that classical books are written with an old language, that they are difficult to understand, characters are not relatable, and too many descriptions disrupt the quick flow of action. To make matters worse, such books are very long – and a torture to teens who have to read them year by year (I’m not surprised so many teens gave upon reading later). Examples of Polish writers who wrote “heavy books” are Henryk Sienkiewicz and Eliza Orzeszkowa. Examples of foreign writers who wrote “heavy books” would be Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Kiran Desai and Haruki Murakami.

Actually, I like Haruki Murakami’s writing so much that I never realized he was writing “heavily”. It was my Japanese friend who pointed that out to me. She said that reading his books in Japanese is a challenge. I couldn’t respond anything to that, as I don’t speak Japanese.

The fact that somebody writes “heavily,” doesn’t mean that they don’t have talent. It only means that their books require time and patience to read. These books are to be savored, not swallowed. There is an audience for these types of books. However, that audience is harder to find. Children, teens and young adults are out of the question, as they haven’t matured enough to read these types of books.

Think about the books that you hated the most when you were young. I bet it was “heavy writing”.

And now let me ruin a popular myth for you. Ready? Three… Two… One…

You don’t need to read heavy books to master the art of writing.

I’ve made this mistake. When I was in high school, I was part of the IB Programme. In the IB Programme, we were reading William Golding, Joseph Conrad, George Orwell, J. W. von Goethe, Arthur Rimbaud… and others. Their books were difficult to understand, unrelatable, and made me believe that I also had to write like this. Write “heavily”.

So what did I do?

I started filling my writing with long descriptions, info dumps, difficult vocabulary and weird metaphors.

After I went to college, where my choice of books became even better. I was reading Edward Said, Cao Xueqin, Jia Pingwa, Carlos Castaneda, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Booker Prize laureates. After all this, I realized I couldn’t read anymore. I hated reading. I bought books, but I dropped them all after a few pages. My friends felt the same. “I used to read a lot when I was younger, now I’m done,” they’ve told me.

I realized I had to read something “lighter”. I downloaded a few freebies on Amazon and realized that *fanfare sounds* not every book that sells well is “heavy”. Hence, the bestseller =/= bestwritten article.

Which was extremely liberating. I decided I would go back to “light writing”. And I finally figured it out. I saw, what it takes to turn a heavy book into a light one, and to write “lightly”. Today, I’m sharing it with you:

  • Make a conscious choice to “write lightly”.
  • Write more dialogue.
  • Do write descriptions, but make them significantly shorter and not as complicated.
  • Do introduce your character’s background, but delete everything that isn’t necessary for the plot that is currently taking place.
  • Mark every fragment that you find boring and either delete it or replace it with a shorter fragment.
  • Use less complicated vocabulary (“kiss” instead of “osculate”).
  • Focus on the action.
  • Limit personal problems and social issues; instead, add some romance or comedy to keep the mood bright.

And that’s it. This is what makes writing “light”. Don’t be afraid to write “lightly”. Also, don’t be afraid to write “heavily” if it works for you.

Heavy books are loved by critics, but light books are loved by readers.

No matter what you choose to write, it’s a win-win.

I hope this helps.

Stay inspired.

Posted in All Articles, Learning from masters

How to do express editing of your first draft?

It took me one year to write „Mermaid Princess Amelia and The Lost Symphony”. Then, it took me another year to correct it. This book had only 50 000 words. Yesterday, I corrected 20 000 words in just a few hours. Today, I am going to teach you how to do express editing.

First of all – express editing isn’t for writers who write without any plan. When you write without any plans, it’s very likely that your book has plot holes. Repairing plot holes often requires rewriting and adding new scenes – which is time consuming. Express editing works when you have already done your best while writing the first draft (planned everything from A to Z, used beautiful language etc.).

One of the reasons why writers hate editing so much, and spend so much time on it, is that they didn’t give their 100% to their first draft.

Another reason is that writers are perfectionists and often get into the trap of rewriting their own writing, even if it’s well written.

Here is how to prepare to do express editing of your first draft:

STEP 1 – EDITING PERSONA

To do express editing correctly, you need to create a new persona within yourself, and then, impersonate them during the editing process.

This is a great way to detach from your own book and get fresh energies to go through it once again. “Just leave it to me,” tells me my editing persona, and I know that my writer self can relax – cause now, somebody else is taking over the work.

Your editing persona can be either an editor, or a writer specializing in your genre. The best is a combination of both. You need to imagine your editing persona as somebody who is much better than you at writing, and at the same time, has your best interests at heart.

I know that all this sounds weird, a persona, an impersonation. But, this is necessary for you to step out of the author mode.

STEP 2 – FORMATTING

I know that formatting is something that we do after finishing our manuscript, but chances are you have used hard tabs. Hard tabs create irregular indentations, get deleted easily and have to be added all the time, which is bothersome. Get rid of the problem by setting automatic Word indentation. This is the best article on how to do it. 

Learning how to use automatic indentation takes 10 minutes at most, and when you are done, it will save you a lot of time and frustration with formatting. Do it now, before you start any other corrections.

STEP 3 – TRACK CHANGES, BUT SEE FINAL VERSION

Always remember to turn on “track changes” in Word, but opt to see the final version of your text. If you see all these red comments, you will omit lacks of spaces or enters, and then you will have to re-read the book once again.

STEP 4 – USE THE TEXT MARKERS

Marking the text with different colors will speed up your work. For me, the yellow marker marks the text I’ve edited already, the turquoise marker marks the translated text, and the purple marker marks the text I want to remove. It helps you to track your progress regularly, find different paragraphs quickly etc. When you zoom out on your document, you see clearly what is where, rather than reading into the text.

STEP 5 – SET THE INTENTION TO CORRECT EVERYTHING IN ONE WEEK

What’s the problem?

Writers out there are beating their productivity records. Thanks to NaNoWriMo, writing a novel with 50k words became possible. And how much could it take to read a novel with 50k words? Two days? Three days?

“But editing is difficult. It’s boring. I must think about every sentence.”

And that is a mistake. Do you think that your reader reads every sentence? No, they are caught in the story and paying little attention to the sentences, unless they are either very beautiful or very bothersome. It’s you, the author, who is fixated with sentences.

And this is the reason, why I told you to create a separate persona for editing. That persona’s task is to read the book the way a reader would read it, but correct what bothers them – and delete what makes them bored. Why? Because if something bores your persona, it will probably bore your reader as well. Such text fragments should be discarded. I know that you have sweated over them, but you don’t want the reader to do the same, do you?

It’s better to write a shorter book that has quality rather than write a longer book with lots of pages that will be skimmed later. When your reader starts skimming pages, it means that your book has too many redundant fragments that prevent the smooth flow of action. Learn to trash them, but be very careful so as not to delete an important piece of information. If you want to revisit a fragment later, use a marker to mark it.

STEP 6 – SIT DOWN TO WORK

Do you want to know how I actually corrected 20k words yesterday? I sat in my room with a mug of apple tea and made sure the door was closed, so that nobody would disturb me. Then, I put on the earphones with an instrumental album. I opened the text file, formatted it, set the track changes option and chose to see only the final version. And then, I started reading. And while I was reading, I automatically corrected everything that I didn’t like. I marked my progress with yellow marker and I marked the fragments to delete with the purple market. I got into the story and I edited it till the end. After I finished, I wrote down things that I wanted to improve. And that was my express editing of the first draft.

STEP 7 – WHAT NEXT?

Express editing is what it is – express editing. During express editing, you might discover that there are parts of your text to which you would like to dedicate more time. Write down what you’d like to correct if you were to express edit your book once again. And then, embark on another express editing session. This will allow you to polish your book in a very short amount of time.

After you are happy with the outcome, send the book to a professional editor. You’ve done your part – now it’s their time. The text you send to the editor should be as perfect as it can be – so that the editor can focus on things that you don’t see, rather than on the ones you do see (but didn’t take time to correct).

This article is very long already, so I’ll just add a short remark: we, authors, need to change our mindset towards editing. Getting angry over the imperfections, and a negative attitude (“Gosh, why do I have to do it?!”) is the worst. Try to treat editing as an opportunity for you to read your book again and make it better while you are reading.

I hope this helps.

Stay inspired.

Posted in All Articles, Learning from masters

7 websites to use and 3 websites to avoid if you are an author

“Everyone, promote your novels on social media!!!”

Yeah, but where? On Facebook? On Twitter?

“Write a blog and engage with the audience!!!”

Mhm… On WordPress? On Blogspot?

“Buy marketing materials!!!”

On Fiverr? On Canva?

A reason why I started Always Inspired Writing was because I noticed that there was a lot of advice for writers on the internet – and most of it was really bad advice. Today, a very valuable post in which I am sharing with you my private, personal experience with 10 websites: Facebook, Blogspot, Tumblr, Twitter, WordPress, Pinterest, Canva, Wix, Amazon and Fiverr.

If you don’t agree with my opinion on these websites, and their usefulness for authors, please feel free to share your ideas in the comments below this post.

I tested the aforementioned websites for 1-3 years to check what results they yield. I believe in systematic work for prolonged periods of time, but if something doesn’t bring results after a year, it’s just not worth it. 

Let’s start with WEBSITES THAT I DON’T RECOMMEND:

  1. Facebook – I have a horrible experience with Facebook and I would actually delete my account in there if it hadn’t been for the fact that I need to keep in touch with my friends from all around the world. I started the fanpage for my mermaid book in 2015. I was posting there very actively, and I even launched a campaign to get more likes from my target audience. The numbers grew, but I never got to see who these people actually were. After I ended the campaign, I had 420 followers instead of 120, but I got no likes, no comments and no shares from these people AT ALL. So basically, I wasted my money. Later, I learned that Facebook wants to limit the exposure of fanpages created by indie entrepreneurs. The reason for this was that people don’t want to see products on Facebook, but actually we still see products, just that these products are promoted by big brands and powerful names. Even though I posted valuable content tagged with hashtags and changed the language to English, I didn’t get any more followers. In fact, my following number fell down by 40 followers. After 3 years of struggling I’m decided to give up on Facebook, as I consider it a completely worthless tool. Use this instead: Twitter.
  2. Blogspot – I started blogging on Blogspot after Blog.Onet.Pl was closed. What I loved the most about Blog.Onet.Pl was the catalogue of blogs, where you could research other similar blogs by topic. On Blogspot, there is nothing like that. This makes finding and following similar blogs much more difficult. Even though there is an option to subscribe, I didn’t get any subscribers, and most visits were from my friends and family. I actually tried to sign up for Adsense, but I got rejected because of too little visits. Overall, I received nothing from blogging intensively for a year: no subscribes, no likes, no comments and no money. Even though my book was promoted on my Blogspot all the time, I didn’t sell any new copies. Use this instead: WordPress.
  3. Tumblr – I started my Tumblr, mrfoti-writes, together with my Twitter. Even though I posted regularly the exact same content as on Twitter, and tagged it extensively, I received little likes and almost no reblogs. My number of followers remained very low. My writing Tumblr is actually a side Tumblr connected to my main, private Tumblr, and for this reason, I could send messages, respond to comments and follow from my private Tumblr only – instead of my writing Tumblr. It was very uncomfortable. During the whole year, I got only 7 followers. Not an impressive result. Also, Tumblr is deleting mature content, so if you are an erotica writer, trying to do anything in there is going to be pointless. Use this instead: Pinterest.

WEBSITES THAT I RECOMMEND:

  1. Twitter is the winner. I created my Twitter account in 2015, but I didn’t do anything in there. In November 2017, I had 5 followers, out of which 4 were my best friends. Nevertheless, I decided to give Twitter another chance. I posted valuable content (pictures quotes + articles about writing), and I added other writers and bookish people using the follow-back method. Gathering the first 1000 people was the hardest. After reaching 5000 people, people started to add me on their own. After a year, I have 7800 followers and an organic reach of 95 800 people per week (this organic reach is so huge because it counts the followers of people who retweet my posts). It’s an incredible result, and if you need to build a social media following fast, start with Twitter.
  2. WordPress doesn’t have a blog catalogue either (or at least I couldn’t find it…), but somehow, people interested in your content actually leave likes. Those who choose to follow receive e-mail notifications when you post something, and the post also appears on their feed. After a year of writing Always Inspired and promoting it on Twitter, I got 30 followers. It’s not much, but it’s always better than Blogspot. What is more, you can offer your followers extra content in exchange of a paid subscription, which is a great way to monetize your blog, even if you don’t qualify for AdSense.
  3. Pinterest – it’s so much is richer in content than Tumblr, and better in so many ways. You can find posts on almost every topic and easily group them into separate boards. The boards can be followed separately, so if you want to follow only a part of someone’s account, it’s possible to do so. This is very comfortable, because you can follow only what truly matters to you. There are also more people on Pinterest, and the age range is wider. I was too busy this year to dedicate much attention to Pinterest, but a one-time follow action brought me more fans than one year of activity on Tumblr.
  4. Amazon – I was reading about publishing on Amazon for almost a year, and I launched a pen name experiment to see how difficult it is to actually publish in there and sell your story. I chose to be patient, because I’ve heard horror stories about how someone’s book got rejected 20 times. But mine, edited cheaply and formatted in Word only, was accepted in just 72 hours. I think that Amazon is an amazing alternative if you can’t publish traditionally. Even though a lot of people complain about Amazon, to me it’s a blessing, and I am always going to recommend it.
  5. Fiverr – Fiverr has a bad opinion online, but I had only good experiences in there. First of all, thanks to Fiverr being the middleman, the payment is secure for both the buyer and seller. If you are struggling to make ends meet, and are left with little budget to invest in professional services for your novel writing business, then Fiverr is the perfect place for you. They offer editing, formatting, covers, social media promotions and more. However, I don’t recommend Fiverr for copywriting. There are already too many copywriters out there and you either won’t get any copywriting orders or you will be paid very little.
  6. Canva – Before, I used to create my posts in Photo Filtre. Photo Filtre is still a good, free and easy to use photo editor – but creating original and fashionable posts requires skill and imagination, while Canva is full of free, ready layouts that you can instantly use. Canva can help you create Instagram and Facebook posts, as well as a book covers, wallpapers, calendars and other things that you can distribute later as freebies in exchange for e-mail subscriptions.
  7. Wix – I’ve tried Weebly and IM Creator (XPRS), but I didn’t like any of these, maybe because I’ve already got used to Wix’s user-friendly interface. Wix is really easy, doesn’t require any programming, and if you don’t have time for dragging-and-dropping, there is an option to have your website designed by a ready creator. With Wix, I saved a lot of time and money. The only cost was to buy a domain. When I compared Wix’s website creation offer to a local company’s offer, I realized I saved 15 times, and my websites are exactly the way I wanted them to be!

Actually, I was inspired to write this post after talking to my friend about what I learned about being an indie author in 2017/2018. I think that each author has the same problems to overcome:

  1. Hire professionals to help with your book.
  2. Create a blog & website.
  3. Prepare marketing materials.
  4. Become popular on social media.
  5. Find a publisher.
  6. Build a mailing list.
  7. Get honest reviews.
  8. Actually sell books.

This year, I resolved 5 of 8 of these problems. Take a  look:

  1. Hire professionals to help with your book (Fiverr).
  2. Create a blog & website (WordPress, Wix).
  3. Prepare marketing materials (Canva, Fiverr).
  4. Become popular on social media (Twitter, Pinterest).
  5. Find a publisher (Amazon).
  6. Build a mailing list.
  7. Get honest reviews.
  8. Actually sell books.

I have learned much more as a writer this year, and I will share everything in here, so please, make sure to follow Always Inspired Writing. Otherwise, you’ll miss awesome posts. 😀

Stay inspired!

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Related articles:

Posted in All Articles, Learning from masters

Seasonal Stories!!! Yay Or Nay?

Hello everyone! 🙂 If you have a question that you would like me to answer in an article, please don’t hesitate to ask (it’s free!)! Always Inspired Writing is also open to guest posting. Send your ideas to our post box!

Seasonal Stories!!! Yay or Nay?

I am personally too busy to write or read seasonal stories (especially now, after starting the Ultimate Manifester!), but I like them a lot! They are given little attention and usually distributed as freebies. Which is a pity because they are amazing standalone projects! In this article, I will discuss the pros and cons of writing them.

Pros:

  • They appeal to new audience. Someone is not necessarily into fantasy, but absolutely loves Christmas and will do everything to get into the festive mood as soon as December starts? Try sending them a story about fairies and elves in winter wonderland. They will love it and buy your regular fairies & elves stories!
  • It’s so easy to get inspired for them. It’s difficult not to think about Christmas when shopping galleries are full of colorful lights and shiny brocade. The TV, newspaper, radio and internet all provide ideas on how to make Christmas even more unique. Tapping in the mood is very easy, and writing – even easier.
  • Free yearly marketing. Seasonal stories are easy to sell… and even easier to resell! Did you get 10 reviews for a short story about Christmas last year? Fantastic! You can market it again this year, and get newer reviews. With years, your seasonal story will get more and more potential. Why should people buy it? It’s so easy! Christmas! Besides, you can contact reviewers, book promotion services etc. much ahead of the holiday, in order to have places.
  • Can be very interesting if you discuss a less known holiday. Research what interesting holiday traditions are there and use them to write something different.
  • Will put you in holiday mood. On Valentines 2017, I was single. Sounds sad? Wasn’t at all! I told all my friends I loved them, watched a romantic comedy and wrote a Valentines fanfiction for my first novel. It’s still somewhere there on my Wattpad.

Are you decided to write a seasonal story now? Before you put away your current work in progress, stay with me for some time, to read the cons of seasonal stories:

  • You have to write them before the holidays. I find it quite a burden. Each year I promise myself I will write somethig great for Halloween, but suddenly it’s just a few days before Halloween and it’s impossible to write something that would make sense in such a short time. Seasonal stories must be remembered about, planned and started BEFORE the holidays – not during or after them (if you are hoping to release them now).
  • After the holidays, the thrill is gone. And so is audience interest, marketing and your sales. People won’t read holiday stories in other seasons. Which means that you will have to interrupt your promotions until the next year… Kinda disappointing if you’ve been working on the book for quite a long time.
  • They don’t fit every genre. Is there anything worse worse than discovering that there is no Santa Claus? Discovering there are bdsm stories about Santa Claus! Just kidding. Yeah, this is a historical moment – I tried to say I joke. I never do that. Anyways, you get the idea: someone is trying to push the holiday mood into something that isn’t necessarily going to work… I can’t give you an example now cause a good writer can write everything. But you know what I mean.
  • There are already so many of them. You won’t be the first who writes something about Christmas, and you won’t be the last. Each year, new seasonal stories are released by millions of authors on the world. It might be hard to stay on the surface, especially if you are just a beginning author.

Final thoughts?

If I had to write something especially for the season, I would go for a short fanfiction to one of books that I have already written. I might also write a Christmas saga, with new part released every Christmas. It sounds like a great idea to gather seasonal readers and turn them later into ‘full time’ readers.

Are you writing any seasonal stories? If yes, let me know in the comments!

Stay inspired.

Posted in Learning from masters

Review of “2k to 10k” by Rachel Aaron: is writing 10k words per day truly possible?

2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love” is a famous and 4.5 star rated book by Rachel Aaron. She claims to write 10 000 words per day, which is the dream of every prolific author.

I have read her book between NaNoWriMo 2017 and Camp NaNoWriMo 2018, and I became obsessed with reaching the daily word count of 1,666 words. I wanted so much to complete a novel in 30 days.

I will be completely honest with you: I hit that goal of 1,666 words only because I forced myself to. I’ve been writing between 200-800 words a day for years and even though I sometimes write more, I generally write around 1k a day.

If you are like me and blamed yourself for not being as productive as Rachel Aaron, here are some things to consider:

ARE YOU A FULL TIME WRITER?

From what I have read in “2k to 10k”, Rachel Aaron is a full time writer. And this is already putting her at an advantaged place in comparison to all of us who have “real jobs” and must squeeze their writing in between work, chores, sleep, relationships and entertainment.

Even if you are a stay-at-home mom with little children who demand constant attention, it’s always better than sitting at the office from 9 am to 6 pm and being constantly watched by your supervisor.

When I was on scholarship in China, I had classes from 8 am to 12:30 pm, and after lunch I just wrote. I wrote much more than I had ever written before. But now I am back to work and my free time is very limited. The lack of time is the real reason why it’s so hard for most writers to reach such high word goals. Rachel Aaron herself states that TIME is what you need to write 4k words.

IS WRITING SO MUCH SUSTAINABLE?

Rachel Aaron claims to have written a novel in 12 days.

Maybe it’s possible. But personally, I really struggle to believe in it. It seems so implausible. At least from my own perspective. I mean, I don’t have anything against Rachel Aaron. On the other hand – I find this huge word count admirable. However, I have tried her method and it didn’t make me write more than I usually do. I am not questioning writing 10k words per day. I am questioning whether it’s right for everyone to put such a huge goal in front of themselves.

What I have noticed from my own experience as a writer is that all people have a reservoir of things to say and once they run out of what’s in that reservoir, they’ll have to wait until new things to say gather in there.

Imagine going out with your best friend in the early morning and talking, talking, talking all the time. It’s highly possible that in the evening you’ll already have the feeling that you’ve told them everything and there’s nothing more. The same is with novel writing.

This is the reason why so many people don’t succeed at NaNoWriMo. It’s very easy to run out of things to say, if you don’t refuel regularly. And very often, when your time is limited, you have to choose: either you write or you refuel. If you write without refueling, you’ll stumble onto writer’s block. If you refuel without writing, you’ll never have time to express all you want to say and you’ll miss great ideas because there’ll simply be too many of them.

Writing 10 000 words per day is extremely exhausting for your reservoir of things to say. After you’ve spit out those 10 000 words and there is nothing left to say… How do you write another 10 000 words on the next day and then another 10 000 words? Yes, it’s easier to write once you’ve researched and planned everything. But sometimes, especially if you write a lot in short periods of time, you start running out of words. What then?

WHAT HAPPENS TO THE TEXT QUALITY?

As you know already from the article on why we should stop freewriting, I always put quality over quantity. Writing so much per day is exhausting, and when you are exhausted, the quality of your work plummets, because your brain doesn’t have time to rest and replenish its resources. Maybe if we were forced to, and put in appropriate condition, we could write a book in 12 days. But would this book really be as good as it would be if we had spent more time on it? I mean, it is possible to spend years writing a mediocre book. And it’s possible to write an amazing book in just three months. However, 12 days just feels too short, at least to me. I would struggle. I’m not ashamed to admit it.

MONEY, POPULARITY AND THE PRESSURE

After you have been paid as an author and received positive reviews from readers, you feel validated as an author and others can’t blame you for putting writing first. It only seems natural that you write because it’s now your “real job”.

Think about it twice: if you were extremely popular and knew that readers will read, review and promote your novel anyways… Would you still worry so much about delivering a work that’s less than perfect? Probably not.

I have noticed that people who write their first books focus on quantity too much. They contemplate each sentence, and it takes them years to finish books. While more experienced writers need months. As they say, practice makes master.

Also, it is worth noting that each book is different, some are easy to write and others require a lot of research.

EACH WRITER HAS THEIR OWN CONTEXT

I personally find Rachel Aaron a successful person. Her bio states she’s married, has children, writes full time. Living a happy life obviously promotes being creative and inspired. I have even written about it before in here.

But what about those of us who are less lucky at the moment? What about those depressed, heartbroken and drinking writers who have to survive their reality first in order to be able to create other worlds?

The context of success is important, too.

AND THE FINAL MESSAGE?

Some people write 10k a day. Others write 5k a day. Others 2k a day. Others even less. It’s tempting to compare ourselves to someone else, but we have to resist and look at our own path. If we know we are already doing our best, we shouldn’t blame ourselves for not being as good as someone else is.

I believe in small, achievable goals. I believe in doing one’s best every single day. I believe in days of productivity that build big results over years.

Stay inspired!

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Related products:

2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love