by Bryan Patrick Avery
The last 18 months have been the busiest of my writing career. This year I was fortunate to celebrate six book birthdays, including my debut picture, THE FREEMAN FIELD PHOTOGRAPH, and the first few books of the MR. GRIZLEY’S CLASS, chapter book series. Next year, I have seven books scheduled to come out including two mysteries and a middle grade non-fiction book.
All of this has been wonderful, but it’s also meant I’ve had a lot of writing to do. I’d like to share with you a few tips and tricks I used to keep writing, even when I wasn’t necessarily motivated to do so.
1. Go analog. When I first started writing in high school, I wrote everything in a notebook before typing it on computer. Then, somewhere along the line, I skipped that step and started writing everything on computer. About two years ago, when I was stuck on story I was working on, I grabbed a pen and a notebook and started re-writing. It made all the difference. Now, I write everything that way. I’ve replaced the pens with Blackwing pencils, and I use Moleskin notebooks. I find that writing analog engages my brain in a way that typing on a computer doesn’t and I’m way more productive. Plus, there’s something oddly satisfying about watching a pencil grow smaller and smaller as you write. I keep the nubs as trophies.
2. Put yourself on the clock. I’ve stopped thinking in terms of words per day and started focusing on “Butt in Chair” (BiC) time. During my BiC time I write, continuously, until the timer goes off. On days when I’m struggling to get words down on paper, I set a timer for 30 minutes and just write. The goal is to write continuously, so I don’t allow myself to edit and go back and change anything. I just push forward until the timer goes off. Often, I find that I’ve come up with something that does help the story. It may require some editing later (doesn’t it always?) but I’ve made progress.
3. Use a placeholder. We’ve all be there. We’re ready to jump in and write a critical scene. We sit down, start writing, and….nothing. We just can’t put words together in a way that works. That’s okay, it happens. Here’s what I do when it happens. This is an actual line from a notebook from a middle grade mystery I have coming out next year:
“Gabriella sees something, that reminds her of something, and she figures everything out.”
Yeah, that needed editing later. That one sentence, in fact, became a whole chapter before the manuscript was done. Still, writing that sentence allowed me to move forward with the book. When I went back later to expand on what thing Gabriella saw, and what it reminded her of, it was much easier to write.
4. Lastly, and this is critically important, sometimes you do need a break. If you’ve tried pushing forward and it hurts, stop. Take a break. We all need them and there’s no shame in taking care of yourself. When you do, you’ll be able to come back refreshed and with a cleared vision of what you want to write and why. Believe me, your books, and your readers, will thank you.
Well, that’s all for this month. I hope this tips will help you in your writing. Happy writing and have a magical month!
At the age of 7, Bryan Patrick Avery discovered a love of reading and mysteries after receiving his first Bobbsey Twins Mystery Book. Today, he is an award-winning poet and author of books for children. His middle-grade story, “The Magic Day Mystery”, appears in SUPER PUZZLETASTIC MYSTERIES, an anthology from HarperCollins and the Mystery Writers of America. His debut picture book, THE FREEMAN FIELD PHOTOGRAPH, illustrated by Jerome White, was published by Clearfork Publishing/Spork. His early reader series, MR. GRIZLEY’S CLASS, illustrated by Arief Putra, is available now from Picture Window Press. Bryan serves on the board of directors of the Northern California Chapter of Mystery Writers of America and is a 2021 Amplify Black Stories Fellow, a joint program presented by the Brown Bookshelf and the Highlights Foundation. Bryan lives in Northern California with his family.
We are so excited to be mixing things up at CBA, beginning with some delicious additions to the Blogfish. Meet our awesome bloggers!!
Here's our lineup:
1st Mondays begin with awesome Aussie debut author and former student Amanda Lieber who will be focusing on Aussie kidlit.
2nd Mondays will feature super smart Melissa Stoller whose career is taking off with several new books.
3rd Mondays will feature STEM, STEAM & SEL obsessed author Kourtney LaFavre sharing delightfully dorky, quirky, and fun info.
4th Mondays will be a mystery for right now.
And 5th Mondays we'll be taking a break