How to Write Like a Professional

How to Write Like a Professional
6 Surprising Mistakes That Make Writers Look Like Amateurs... and How to Avoid Them

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

You Know Your'e a Writer [4 of 10]

You Know You're a Writer or Runner When...

You write when you're excited. You write when you're scared. You write when you're mad, sad, and glad. You're a writer. But are you really? If you've ever wondered if you're really a writer, then this series is for you.

You know you're a runner when you get mad if someone calls you a jogger. | funny runner quotes, Christie Wright Wild

You know you're a writer when you get mad if someone calls you an aspiring writer. | funny writer quotes, Christie Wright Wild

Aspiring Writer vs. Writer

If you write, you're a writer. If you want to be a published author, then you are an aspiring author. You're already a writer!

Maybe you don't write every day. That's okay. Maybe you think you're writing isn't that great. That's okay too. Maybe you think your writing is superb! Maybe it is. Maybe you're "this" close to getting published.

If you aspire to write, then you are not writing. If you write, you're a writer. Aspire to be a GOOD writer!

Jogger vs. Runner

Likewise, when someone calls you a jogger, fume rises out of your sneakers. You run every week. Quite possibly every single day. You're a runner!

But what about those days when you're injured? Are you still a runner? YES!!!

What about active rest days? When you're just walking. You might even pick up the pace to jogger status. But you're still a runner!

Don't let labels define your happy place. Run to your heart's content, no matter what your speed is. Don't worry, I'll be here to bring up the rear. Keep running!

So... are you a runner, a jogger, or a walker? Share in the comments!

Keep on keepin' on...


Tuesday, November 7, 2017

You Know You're a Writer [3 of 10]

My first marathon changed me. It turned me into a runner. Took me 8.5 hours to complete it. Do the math, that's merely a walking speed of 3.1 mph. I did a walk/jog combo and stopped to enjoy the Alaska scenery and take some photos every few miles. My second marathon 2 years later was 6.5 hours. Yep, I had to do it again. Crazy runner.

You know you're a runner when you're almost... || || writing humor, running humor, you know you're a writer series, you know you're a runner series

You know you're a writer when you're almost... || || writing humor, running humor, you know you're a writer series, you know you're a runner series

Make it to the Finish Line

You know you're a writer when you struggle to finish the book in the first place. You might even start complaining about it. But you're in love with the story. You might fight with the words, but that's okay. You gotta spit them out first. Then you can spin them into a beautiful piece of art.

Write the Next Book

You know you're a writer when you just wrote the most difficult thing ever and you swear you'll never do it again, but then you do anyway. When I finished my picture book biography, I swore I'd never write another biography again! But before I even got my agent, I already had more ideas to write, not one, but FIVE more biographies. I just have to tell these stories!!! Trust me, it's gonna feel like running a marathon.

What's something difficult you said you didn't want to do again, but yet you changed your mind and planned a repeat? Share in the comments!

Keep on keepin' on...


Monday, October 16, 2017

You Know You're a Writer [2 of 10]

Training for a marathon does something to your brain. Once you reach 15 miles, you think anything less than that is EASY. Yes, it's all relative, but it's true. Imagine going on a trip several hours away. You're getting closer to home. The sign on the highway says, "Your town. Next exit. 7 miles." You cheer! Seven miles! I just ran that distance a couple weeks ago! Woo-hoo, we're almost home!

You know you're a runner when... || grammar errors,

You know you're a writer when... || spelling and grammar errors, writing humor,

Spelling Errors

I won 1st place in my school-wide spelling bee when I was in the 4th grade. Spelling came easily to me. My sisters called me a walking dictionary. But guess who struck out the very next year? Yep. Me! First person, first word: awful. I swear I watched this movie one time about a blind artist with a pet dog named Offel. So that's how I spelled it. Crazy, right? It's pretty funny now, but in the moment, I was upset, to say the least.

Creative spelling might have it's place in character names, or even in real life human names, but when you're submitting a manuscript, it needs to be error-free.

  • Use spell check.
  • Have someone else look at it.
  • If you're unsure of any word, look it up in a dictionary.

Grammar Errors

I'm a writer. My husband is not. Yet he continually finds errors in news headlines, newspaper articles, online magazine articles, and yes, even signs. While signs with grammar errors can be hilarious, a manuscript with grammar errors is not. Well, maybe it is for the editor - upon occasion. But not for the writer when they get a rejection.

Again, use spell check and have others read your work. The three things to focus on when learning grammar is:

  1. parts of speech
  2. punctuation
  3. know the difference between a phrase and a clause
  4. how to write a good sentence

Submission Ready

Once you have a manuscript without spelling and grammar errors (and you feel like the story is truly solid), then you can submit it to publishers! Just don't plaster your stuff all over the highway for writers and runners to make fun of (when they see grammar errors).

Read the first comparison in the "You Know You're a Writer/Runner..." series: [1 of 10] How to Deal with Rejection.

What's the funniest grammar mistake you have seen, whether in real life, or online? Share in the comments!

Keep on keepin' on...


Monday, October 9, 2017

You Know You're a Writer [1 of 10]

As a writer and a runner, I couldn't help but discover these 10 similarities between writing and running. Over the next 10 weeks, I'll be sharing one "You know you're a runner when..." and one "You know you're a writer when..." quotes to make you chuckle and think a bit. I'll also share a little extra wisdom and inspiration for you.

Celebrate Each Milestone

It takes a lot of courage to write a manuscript. Even more to submit it somewhere. It hurts to receive that first rejection letter. But when you have a drawer (or email folder) full of rejections, you can wear the writer badge with honor. You'll be able to console others when they get rejections. Come up with a rejection celebration ritual. Buy a special candy bar reserved for rejections. And a different candy bar for each manuscript you finish. Not everything we write will get published, no matter how much we may want it.

Writers Aren't the Only Ones Getting Rejections

It's important to remember that literary agents and editors also get rejected. Agents get rejected a LOT. No matter how much an editor may love every piece that comes across their desk (they don't), they simply can't accept everything. So agents feel the brunt of those industry rejections. Editors also get rejected. When they connect with a piece they love, someone else on the acquisitions team (usually from the marketing department) can't quite fall in love with it the same way. So the editor gets rejected. They didn't want it to go down like that. It's a group effort and it's a business. It's just a part of being a writer. If agents and editors aren't taking rejections personally, then we shouldn't either.

It Only Takes One, "YES!"

Persevere! Be patient with the process. Yes, it's easy to doubt yourself. Yes, it's easy to let fear settle in and hijack your writing. Yes, it may seem like we'll never be published, but don't give in. Don't give up. Continue to hone your craft. Continue to work on your writing. Continue to work on you writing projects. Learn from the rejections. Celebrate each rejection. (Do I smell Hershey's kisses?) Remember, it only takes ONE yes. Keep running your writing race and you'll pass the publication finish line soon enough.

What do YOU do when you get a rejection? How many have you collected so far? Share in the comments!

Keep on keepin' on...


Monday, October 2, 2017

How to Overcome Writer's Block

...and solve your plot problems

You may be wondering if writer's block is even real? What is writer's block anyway? How do you deal with writer's block? The answer is yes, writer's block is real. Some would argue otherwise, but if you've ever experienced it, then read on!

How to Overcome Writer's Block || is writer's block real, how do you deal with writer's block, what is writer's block,

What is Writer's Block?

According to Wikipedia, the definition of writer's block is...
Writer's block is a condition, primarily associated with writing, in which an author loses the ability to produce new work, or experiences a creative slowdown. The condition ranges in difficulty from coming up with original ideas to being unable to produce a work for years.
But I'd like to pose another definition:
Writer's block is the effect of a creative slowdown that causes a person to have a temporary lapse in the ability to solve problems.
Think about it. We all hit roadblocks from time to time. It doesn't matter if you're a mechanic, a doctor, a musician, or a parent. We encounter things that stop us in our tracks because we simply don't know how to move forward.

So why did writers get a special name for it? Probably because we write stories and encounter plot problems more than the average Joe. We don't know how to make the character get from point A to point B. That kind of creative slowdown is just as difficult to overcome for a writer as it is for a parent to figure out how to get their kids to go to bed on time, or maybe even at all.

What causes writer's block, anyway? In a nutshell, fear and timing. Perhaps you aren't quite ready to write the masterpiece you had in mind. When that happens, you'll hit a block for sure. And the other cause? Well, fear is what paralyzes most people from taking action. Fear of dying - no freefall jumping out of a plane for me! For writers though, it's the fear of rejection. The fear of not being good enough. The fear of not being perfect. The fear of failure. The fear of success. The fear of feeling like a fraud.

All kinds of fear can cause writer's block. The fear creeps up and inserts itself smack dab in the middle of your story. Usually at a critical point where a character needs to make some kind of decision. It's like time has frozen and the clock keeps ticking, but nobody sees any way out. It's a stone cold block of ice. But somehow, you've got to chisel your way out.

Is Writer's Block Real?

For anyone who has experienced the inability to solve a plot problem as quickly as they would have liked, yes, writer's block is real. Perhaps you struggle with coming up with new ideas. Or maybe you're stuck in your writing because you don't have all the research, or you haven't figured out transitions or point-of-view yet. All of these are examples of how writer's block can affect you.

Being stuck because you don't have any ideas is definitely hard, but writer's block isn't really about not having any ideas. It's really about not have any idea how to solve a specific problem. More specifically, a plot problem. And that's a real problem. One that takes guts, knowledge, ingenuity, and determination to find out how to overcome.

There is more than one way to overcome writer's block. You can change your environment, eliminate distractions, read a book, listen to music, or do something to get your blood flowing (my personal favorite, specifically running).

How do You Deal with Writer's Block?

Learning how to overcome writer's block is a skill you can learn. While there are lots of things you can do, the simplest thing is to "Just Do It." Yes, write through the pain. Sometimes during a run, I feel a slight kink in my neck, or a strange click in my hip, but usually when I run through the "pain" it works itself out and I feel a lot better afterward. The run loosens me up. Makes me more flexible. Works out the stiffness.

When you are feeling that stubborn stiffness in your writing, it's time to take action! You can't simply not write and expect the Muse to show up and help you with your writer's block problem. Creativity is the antidote to writer's block. So how do you boost creativity when you feel paralyzed by the fear of not knowing where to take your story next? PLAY!!!

Think of the most wild and wacky thing your character could do to get out of the trouble they're in. Just write. Write no matter how crazy it sounds. Write anything. Even if you think it's the stupidest thing you ever thought of, heard of, or wrote about. You don't even have to write on your current project. You can free write or journal to help get the wheels turning. You could even play a word game.

The point is to keep moving (whether literally or figuratively) and keep your writing head in the game. Forward momentum will help you bust out of that writer's block and finally get your characters from point A to point B.

What do YOU do to combat writer's block? Share in the comments!

Keep on keepin' on...


Monday, September 25, 2017

50+ Best Motivational Race Signs

Funny and Inspirational Spectator Signs

If you have ever run a marathon, then you know the power of the motivational spectator sign. Many are quite humorous, just enough to keep you going. But several are also very motivational, just the emotional pickup you need to keep going. Either way, funny or inspiring, these are some of the best race signs out there.

If you're not a runner, consider creating a couple of these race signs the next time you have the opportunity to be a spectator in a race. Many of them are famous Disney quotes, quotes from famous runners, or inspirational literary quotes.

These 52 motivational race signs are ALL a part of the Writers Who Run 10k Race in North Carolina every June. What makes it so unique is that they are staked into the ground along the race several days before the race takes place. They are printed on waterproof plastic corrugated cardboard on both sides so that the runners can be inspired both coming and going, even if no spectators show up.

Without further ado, here are the best quotes for writers who run.

1. "Just Do It." ~ Nike

"Just Do It." - Nike || 50+ motivational race signs, best marathon spectator signs

2. "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith." ~ 2 Timothy 4:7

3. "I am not fast." ~ Baymax, Big Hero 6

"I am not fast." ~ Baymax, Big Hero 6 || funny Disney running signs, great marathon spectator signs

4. "Whether a mile or a marathon, you get there the same way... a step at a time. Such is life."
~ Baylor Barbee

"Whether a mile or a marathon, you get there the same way... a step at a time. Such is life." ~ Baylor Barbee || motivational race signs, best race signs

Tuesday, September 12, 2017


How to Know When to Stop Preparing and Just Do It

I recently quit my job. Just last month. I was the marketing assistant for a one-woman office. The job was okay, but the boss was NOT. Five weeks was all I could handle.

You want me to write a blog post for you? Sure! Not so fast, Christie. Little did I know she would be worse than a flock of mosquitos at the Bayou in summer, waiting to pounce on the first sight of human flesh at the break of day. She definitely wins the "Worst Boss Ever" award.

"No, you can't use the word cleanse! That's a gypsy word. You have to use the word clear. Never cleanse." My, oh, my. And that was seriously just the beginning.

STOP Researching & START Writing || How to know when to stop preparing and just do it, when to start writing, when to stop writing, when to begin research, how to know when you're finished researching

Stop Learning and Start Doing

But today, we're talking about a different kind of beginning. How to know when to stop researching and when to start writing. Or in my case, how to stop taking a hit and learn when to duck!

I have to admit that part of this analogy actually comes from the business/education world(s). They say, "Stop learning and start doing." People who want to start their own business are "all in" when it comes to the learning aspect. They (myself included) can become caught up in the learning mode and keep learning and learning and learning. It's easy to let research become your crutch to not face the fear of action. Research can become a form of procrastination.

Modes of Research

While you might not be conducting formal research for a term paper, both fiction and nonfiction require a certain amount of research. Every project is different. There's research for how to write, research for how other writers accomplish the craft, and research for the minute details you'll include.

Maybe you're researching setting, a time period, types of characters, a particular career, details of a certain person (biographies), or anything else you need to know. Here are some popular modes of research.

  • Reading. Perhaps you are studying the nuances of your favorite authors. Reading is a great way to do this. 
  • Travel. Maybe you need to travel to learn more about a setting, or to research a particular document held in a certain locale. Travel is a great way to feel more connected to those details.
  • Interviews. Interviewing the experts in the topic you need help with is an easy way to get inside the mind of a certain character, or simply to learn information in a more accessible way.
  • Studying. This likely involves reading, but it's more intense than a pleasurable novel. This includes books about how to write, in all the different varieties. It also includes blog articles about anything you need to know to get the job done.

Start Writing

So, how do you know that you have enough material for your book? What if you miss an important detail? Here's the thing. Once you have enough information to fill in the gap for why you're researching, you can go ahead and write that part, whether it be a character, the setting, a few details about a trip to the zoo, or something else. But if it's overall research you're doing, you'll probably be in research mode for a bit longer. Like if you're writing a biography. Either way, when you're able to explain what you're researching without your notes, then you're ready to start writing.

Sometimes quitting is a bad thing. Like when you're running a race and you're tired. Your lungs are burning and your legs and feet ache, but you want to cross the finish line, so you refuse to quit. But sometimes quitting is a good thing. Like when your boss is a Voodoo Lady. Or like when you want to give up binge-watching TV. Or when you have enough research to start your business or write your book. It's time to stop learning and start doing.

What project are you working on right now? What did you need to research? Share in the comments!

Keep on keepin' on...


Monday, September 4, 2017


The Best Non-Digital Games for Writers

If you want to keep your word prowess sharp, whether you're a writer, a teacher, a parent, or a child, this list is for you. Games engage the mind and when the game is FUN, you're likely to remember new knowledge. So choose a game from this list, grab some friends, and have a wonderful WORDY time!

12 Best Word Games for Writers || writing games, word games, popular games for writers, board games for writers, verbal word games, word games to play with writers

Board Games

While their are dozens of games to choose from, these games are likely to be your best bet when it comes to gaming with words. Some are classics, but the rest should be.

  1. Scrabble. This is the epitome of the classic board game for writers. Of course, millions of non-writers play this game too. Build words and win points. The most clever wordster will win.
  2. Boggle. A noisy option for a word game. Shake the plastic container and let the letters fall in place. Race against others - and the egg timer - to see who can make the most words from the letters you're dealt.
  3. Upwords. Similar to Scrabble, but you can build on top of previous words. And the scoring is different. Growing up, I played this game with my mom all the time. So, this is one of my personal classic favorites.
  4. Bananagrams. If you haven't heard of this game, you're missing out. A little yellow pouch shaped like a banana holds all the letter tiles. Each person shouts SPLIT, PEEL, and DUMP in a race to build words crossword puzzle style. The winner gets to shout BANANAGRAMS.  
  5. Balderdash. This game is a trivia and bluffing game. Be prepared to laugh out loud with this one. The trivia categories are weird words, movies, notable people, incredible initials, and laughable laws. You are using your "storytelling" skills to convince others of the right definition, especially when you don't have a clue. With categories that have to do with words and initials, a writer could really fall in love with this game.
  6. Apples to Apples. Even teachers use the Apples to Apples for Kids version in classrooms to help children learn the value of comparisons. You have to stretch your mind to find the best description from a handful of cards to match a different - perhaps seemingly unrelated - item on a another card. This word game is sure to make you laugh!

Paper Games

While there may be many more word games out there that only use paper and pencil, these seem to be among the most popular, even iconic.

  1. Crossword Puzzles. This is the iconic symbol of writers everywhere. What writer has never worked a crossword puzzle? If you're a writer and you've never done a crossword puzzle, I'd LOVE to know in the comments. When I was a kid, I got a giant wall crossword puzzle for my birthday one year. I spent many, many hours working on that puzzle, with my nose stuck in a dictionary. Unfortunately, I never did finish it. I got pretty close, but honestly, I think there were lots and lots of errors (and no solution available). At least I couldn't "cheat" right?
  2. Word Search Puzzles. Another favorite among wordsters. You can buy books with a theme. Cats. Dogs. Animals. You name it. Not as rewarding to some as the classic crossword, but it still passes the time and your brain learns to look for patterns.
  3. The Daily Jumble and Cryptoquips. These two games are typically found in the comics section of your local newspaper (along with crosswords and word searches). They are both forms of unscrambling. The Daily Jumble scrambles up common words and there's a puzzle at the end to describe an illustration. Cryptoquips are coded messages that you must figure out what each letter stands for. For example: P XT X SLPBOL would decode and read "I AM A WRITER."
  4. Word Lists. Another fun one, especially in classrooms, is when a long word or a short phrase, such as HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY is used as a "letter bank" for children to create as many words as possible. It's a fun little challenge and usually the one who writes the most words wins a prize.

Verbal Games

Finally, here are two simple games you can play, even if you don't own one of the board games above or if you don't have pencil or paper handy.

  1. Alphabet Trip. Remember the looooong "list" game? "I'm going on a trip to _______ and I'm going to take with me an A_______ (apple)." Then the next person repeats from A, B, C, etc. and fills in with the next letter on their turn. "I'm going on a trip to _______ and I'm going to take with me an Apple, a Bear, a Candy bar, and a Dinosaur." You can even make it more challenging by limiting it to only food, or fruit, or animals, or office supplies!
  2. License Plates. This is a game if you really ARE going a trip, even if it's just to the office supply store down the street. There is no winner in this game. It's just to see who can come up with the funniest phrases the fastest. License plate: WHB. Of course you can use any words you like, but to challenge yourself, try for adjective, noun, then verb. For example, Watery Horses Blubber. 

Sooooo... the next time you're trying to think of a word game to play, choose one off this list. They're some of the best games for writers out there!

Got another favorite word game? Share in the comments!

Keep on keepin' on...



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