5 Tips on How to Stay Focused When Writing a Novel

Man writing in journalSometimes writing is fun, but anyone who writes on a regular basis also knows that it can be difficult, even when we’re excited about our particular writing project.

For me, two of the biggest problems when I’m writing a novel are avoiding boredom and staying focused. The issues are a bit counter intuitive since each requires a different solution. After years if experimenting, I started to pay attention to what specifically worked well for me, and so today I am going to share with you the best tips I know for how to stay focused when writing. Continue reading “5 Tips on How to Stay Focused When Writing a Novel”

Resources

Woman painting a mural
My mission is to help as many writers and artists generate income through blogging by building a business that is aligned with their values so that they have time to do what they love: create! One of the ways I have been able to do this for myself is by earning affiliate commission on my website You Can Learn How to Code.

Basically, I recommend courses and other services that have worked well for me and allowed me to become a competent web developer. That means if visitors click on one of the links on that website and purchase a product or service, I might receive a commission at no extra cost to them. And since Laura Henry Writes is also part of my business, I use affiliate links on this website, too.

Building my business with integrity is important to me, so I only recommend products and services that I have used and enjoyed, found helpful, or helped contribute to my livelihood as a blogger, writer, and business owner. I have tried many products and services over the years to help me monetize my blogs. Many of them were not worth the cost.

So, after trying out a number of things that didn’t work, I can recommend the very best products and services that have worked for me. My hope is that these resources will work well for you, too, and that they help you cut down the time it will take to build a business that you love. If you have any questions about them, please feel free to leave a comment below or contact me at laura@laurahenrywrites.com.

Tech/Blogging

Wealthy Affiliate


Most of my websites are now hosted through Wealthy Affiliate. If you are not technically minded and find the idea of building your own website daunting, there is training included that walks you through the entire process of getting your blog up and running. Training also includes lessons on how to monetize your blog so that you can start earning some money by recommending products that you love.

The Wealthy Affiliate membership also includes access to a community of supportive entrepreneurs. Some members of the community are just getting their businesses started, others have built 6- and 7-figure online empires, and others like me are somewhere in between.

If your dream is to work for yourself and build a business you’ll love so that you have more time to write and create, then . Prior to joining, I spent seven years trying to learn how to make money online but without any success. Within 18 months of joining Wealthy Affiliate, I got my first sale and have been scaling up ever since! Most members who blog consistently can achieve their first sale much sooner, especially if they don’t quit for six months like I did!

Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing

Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing Course

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner earns a 7-figure income through her website, so when I discovered that she also teaches a course on affiliate marketing, I purchased it, and I’m so glad I did. I technically didn’t need it since I have all the education I need through Wealty Affiliate, but Michelle’s course on how to generate revenue through Pinterest is worth the cost of the course alone. I credit this course for helping me set up my Pinterest strategy since I was missing out on opportunities there before.

If you are a technically-minded do-it-yourselfer and don’t need instructions on how to set up your own website and Google Analytics platform, then Michelle’s course Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing will serve you just fine since it covers most of what you need to know, minus the details and the systems of setting up your website. If you’re looking for more, want to learn affiliate marketing with others in a community, and get the exact systems that I use to create my blogs, then I would recommend Wealthy Affiliate.

Creative Writing

FOCUS ON THE STORY NOT THE SENTENCE. JAMES PATTERSON. LEARN MORE.My favorite platform for online creative writing courses is, by far, Masterclass. These classes are set up as online courses that allow you to complete projects led by artists and writers who are at the top of their game. The courses are structured into multiple lessons, which consist of a video with the instructor or “master” followed by an exercise or assignment. By the end of the class, you have the tools you need to finish your project, whether you’re trying to write a screenplay, television pilot, novel or nonfiction book.

The nice thing is that Masterclass isn’t just limited to writers. There are cooking courses with chefs like Thomas Keller and Wolfgang Puck, singing lessons with Christina Aguilera, a photography course with Annie Leibovitz, and many more.

To date, I have taken Masterclass courses with Shonda Rhimes, James Patterson, and Malcolm Gladwell, among others. My subscription is set up with an all-access pass that allows me to take any course I want, though if there is one specific course you want to take, you can also purchase individual courses. If you’d like to take more than one course, though, the pricing works out that purchasing an all-access pass is worth your while.

Out of all the courses I’ve taken, my favorite one is Writing for Television with Shonda Rhimes. Listening to her, it is evident as to why she has been so successful. Towards the end of the course, I learned that she has an unshakable belief in her own abilities to accomplish whatever it is she desires to do. As artists and writers, we must all learn to develop that same level of inner faith within ourselves, and I started to become better at that after listening to Shonda Rhimes.

I hope you enjoy these courses as much as I have. They have all added to my life in innumerable ways. Through Wealthy Affiliate and Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing, I learned the skills I needed to build profitable blogs. And through the online creative writing courses at Masterclass, I have learned how to further hone my craft as a writer.

One Writer’s Regrets

caucasian woman with tattoos writing in journal

As writers and artists, we often make things harder on ourselves than we need to and allow distractions to interfere with our writing and our art. There are, however, legitimate times in our lives when we have serious concerns or matters to attend to that draw our energy and attention away from our creative pursuits. At some point, though, it is important to recognize when we have allowed ourselves to stray too far from creating the work that is in integrity with who we are.

In some ways, I feel like my 30’s were my lost years. By the time I was in my early thirties, I had completed my graduate degree in creative writing and lost my father to cancer. Both events had a profound effect on my writing life for longer than was necessary. In an attempt to clear some current resistance I have with progressing with my novel and help those of you who are encountering similar difficulties, I am, today, sharing my writer’s regrets. Continue reading “One Writer’s Regrets”

How to Earn Money Doing What You Love

black woman painting in studioRecently, I was on vacation in New York City and discovered a book in the NYU bookstore that I was really excited about. It is Jonannah Negron’s How to Be an Artist. I saw the book and just knew I had to have it. Usually when I get a feeling about a book, it’s dead right. My intuition was right on this book, too, except for one thing: Negron says that all artists need day jobs.

That really bothered me because she is assuming that you can have EITHER your art OR your freedom. But what if you want both? Do you really need to choose?

NO! One hundred times over. No. You don’t need to choose. As an artist, you CAN have both. Continue reading “How to Earn Money Doing What You Love”

How to Create Great Characters for Your Novel

Beautiful young black woman writing notes at cafe

There are several humorous scenes in the movie Adaptation in which the lead character, Charlie Kaufman (played by Nicholas Cage), struggles with the screenplay he is attempting to write. Well over his deadline, he attends a seminar by the famed Brian McKee. During the seminar, Kaufman asks a hypothetical question about a writer who wants to write a screenplay in which there are no major character arcs and that they continue on, frustrated. Kaufman adds that he sees this as a reflection of the real world.

The response from McKee, played by Brian Cox, is crushing. McKee, in front of an auditorium full of people, tells Kaufman that he’s out of his mind. That is the start of the rant, which ends with McKee screaming at Kaufman that he doesn’t know anything about life. McKee then lists all the things that happen in the real world: murder, genocide, breaking someone’s heart… and the list goes on.

The point is, that in order to create great characters for your novel (or screenplay for that matter!), your main character — at a minimum — must evolve and change. Continue reading “How to Create Great Characters for Your Novel”

Three of the Best Movies About Writers

Family Enjoying Movie Night At Home Together

I love movies. I always have. There is something about the medium of film that has always stirred me. Second to reading a book, watching a movie is one of my favorite activities. And, like any lover of movies, there are a couple of odd genres that I never get tired of:

  1. Movies about dysfunctional Italians.
  2. Movies about writers.

The former category is a topic another day (and probably another blog if I’m being honest). So, today, I will focus on the latter. I will tell you about three of the best movies about writers that I have seen. Continue reading “Three of the Best Movies About Writers”

Tips to Avoid Burnout with Writing

As a writer, I set very high goals for myself, and perhaps you do, too. I have minimum time commitments or word counts for each of my different kinds of writing every day:

  • Blogging: 1000 words, 6 days each week
  • Fiction: 30 minutes – 1 hour daily (I spend more time writing fiction on Saturdays)
  • Non-fiction: 25 minutes daily, 5 days each week (I try to aim for 800-1200 words for each writing session)

There are times, though, where I cannot keep up with this word count and time commitment, and nothing makes me feel I’ve encountered burnout more than when I’m overwhelmed and can’t keep up with my goals. Eventually, I recognized that I needed to have a process in place that would allow me to recover from burnout more easily, and in this article, I will give some tips to avoid burnout with writing. Continue reading “Tips to Avoid Burnout with Writing”

Persistence with Writing Pays Off

woman working diligently at writingI am a blogger, novelist, poet, and non-fiction writer. I work on my blogs and my novel-in-progress daily, so on any given day, I will end up writing in at least two of these four formats. On occasion, I’ll take a day off from blogging, but that is rare. There is almost always something that I feel I need to express that will allow me to enjoy new insights or that will help someone.

The novelist, screenwriter, and writing coach Alan Watt says that we ultimately write in order to evolve. I believe this is true as well. Part of my evolution includes creative self-expression and helping other writers and artists by providing advice, insights, and encouragements. Continue reading “Persistence with Writing Pays Off”

Does Your Routine for Writing Ever Get Thrown Off?

writing in journalMy guess is that this does happen to you because it happens to most of us. Despite our best efforts to write or create (if you’re another type of artist) every day, there are times when our routine for writing or creating gets hijacked by work, family, life, or some unforeseen circumstance.

This happened to me yesterday after an AMAZING writing streak. Things were going incredibly well. I exceeded the daily word counts I set for my blog and my nonfiction book. And my novel—you know, the one that I have been struggling with for the past seven years—is practically writing itself.

Continue reading “Does Your Routine for Writing Ever Get Thrown Off?”

Are There Books You Can’t Stop Reading?

We all have our favorites: dog-eared copies of books that we read over and over again. I had favorite books as a child, and you probably did, too. When I was at an age before I could read, the stories that I couldn’t get enough of included Harold and the Purple Crayon, The Pokey Little Puppy, and anything illustrated by Brian Wildsmith, the award-winning British artist. He used brilliant colors in his illustrations, and to this day, I am STILL drawn to color.

Even though I am not a visual artist, I can’t get enough of color. I am forever trying to convince art directors at Marquette to add some orange to the palette and my poor, long-suffering husband to allow me to paint our walls brilliant shades of purple, green, and blue. So far, he is winning, but we once came close to buying a plush purple sofa together, so I am making progress! Continue reading “Are There Books You Can’t Stop Reading?”