Announcement: Entrada Publishing is looking for manuscripts!

Announcement!

We’ve been a bit quiet here at the Sprint Shack for the holidays, but we’ve got a quick announcement for you all!

Rachel of Entrada Publishing (you’ll remember her from our most recent guest post) let us know that Entrada Publishing is currently looking to publish more books in 2016. So for those of you with a manuscript that you’re dying to see published, take a look at the details below from Entrada Publishing.

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We are now seeking a few submissions to round out the publishing calendar for 2016.

If you feel that your manuscript is ready (it’s been edited and beta read at least once) then please contact us.

No romance (as the general theme, some as a sideline is okay).

No erotica.

No “graphic” sex.

Please message or email a summary of the book (no more than one page), the genre and a movie rating to go along with it, G, PG, PG-13, PG-13+, R. (yes, I made up PG-13+ it seems like there needs to be another category in there for a general PG-13 book with one bad scene or language, etc.)

We are a real publisher, not a subsidy publisher. We do not charge any fees to the writer now or ever for books we select to publish.

Email or message with questions at query@entradapublishing.com

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Good luck with your submissions, everyone! And happy holidays to all!

 

Hit an Inspiration Dry Spell? Pinterest Has the Solution

So, what will you write about next?

Usually, having ideas isn’t a problem for most writers. Our brains are brimming with them. They come to us in flashes of brilliance, in bits and pieces, in the form of plot bunnies, leading us down the rabbit hole.

But what happens when those ideas just seem to… evaporate? What do you do if you hit an inspiration dry spell?

First of all: don’t panic. You haven’t lost your spark. There’s an abundance of creativity within you—it’s just blocked right now. Whatever is holding you back, it’s not unfixable, and sometimes all it takes is a dose of the strange and unexpected to get your imagination back in business. The best way I’ve found to do that? Writing prompts. And the best place I’ve found to get them from? Pinterest.

(What is Pinterest? Find out in Pinterest for Writers in 6 Simple Steps.)

With Pinterest being such a visual platform, it’s a great opportunity to find writing prompts, whether they’re stunning images or written prompts. It could be a single pin or a whole board centred around a theme or style that gets the ideas flowing again—you just need to find them first.

So how can you find a wealth of prompts on Pinterest?

1. Search for them.

If you’re new to Pinterest or don’t follow many prompt-related boards, often the best place to start is with the search function. Simply type in a few keywords, like ‘writing prompt’, ‘settings’, ‘characters’, your genre of choice, etc., and search away. See any images you like? Create your own inspiration board and pin them to it!

2. Follow themed boards.

If searching for prompts doesn’t turn out the best results for you, the second option is to scout out inspiration-based boards that have been compiled by others. Found a pin that you really like? Chances are, you could like the other pins on the board it’s a part of.

To find the board the image is from and preview the other pins in it, simply click the image and look at the column on the right (highlighted in the image below). And there you have it.

How and where can you find the best writing prompts on Pinterest? Here are 4 ways to find the spark that can rekindle your imagination. | www.sprintshack.wordpress.com

My favourite inspiration-based boards:

3. Check out all the pins from a source.

What if you’re looking for pins from a particular source, rather than from a particular pinner? For instance, you really like the images created by a certain artist or writer, but the boards you’ve found only have a few of their many pieces of art or prompts on. What now? Pinterest has you covered.

Every pin has a source, the web address it came from, and if that’s the same source as the artist’s other images (e.g., their website), then you can find them easily. Click on the pin and look at the column to the right of it. There’s the name of the board at the top and the other pins on it, and underneath that there’s a ‘more from’ section. This is the bit we’re interested in.

If you like Sarah Selecky’s writing prompts, for example, you can find one of her pinned prompts, click ‘more from sarahselecky.com’ (highlighted in the image below), and explore all the images various users have pinned from her website.

How and where can you find the best writing prompts on Pinterest? Here are 4 ways to find the spark that can rekindle your imagination. | www.sprintshack.wordpress.com

My favourite sources for writing prompts? Right here:

4. Make use of Pinterest’s suggestions.

As you start pinning prompts to your own boards, you’ll see more of Pinterest’s ‘picked for you’ suggestions, which is a great way to find more incredible prompts and follow boards that collect them too. In fact, that’s where I find the majority of the prompts I get from Pinterest!

You can spot the ‘picked for you’ pins by looking at the section beneath each image, which contains the name of the pinner and the board it comes from. Check out the image below for an example.

How and where can you find the best writing prompts on Pinterest? Here are 4 ways to find the spark that can rekindle your imagination. | www.sprintshack.wordpress.com

So now that you have some prompts to get you over that inspiration dry spell, it’s time to get writing. Enjoy your idea hunting on Pinterest! (But don’t get too distracted—you actually have to write the thing, remember!)

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Where do you find your writing prompts?

Our 2,000 Follower Celebrations Bundle is Here!

Hey, readers! If you’re one of our 2,000 followers on Twitter, you may have seen us tweeting about a surprise lately. Well, we’re here to finally release it into the world!

We’re beyond excited to be growing in the Twitter writing community and connecting with all of you, whether that be through word sprints, comments on the blog, or a few simple tweets. As a result, we decided to put together a downloadable bundle of resources to celebrate hitting 2,000 followers!

The bundle features 3 of our resources from past blogs, plus a new bonus resource we put together exclusively for this download. We hope you enjoy it and find these tools helpful!

You can also find a link to our new newsletter at the end. We’re planning on some exciting stuff in the near future, and this newsletter is the best way to keep up-to-date on all the latest Sprint Shack news. Stay tuned for more bundles like this in the future*, plus more exclusive content!

And finally: thank you, thank you, thank you for being a part of The Sprint Shack’s growth!

Click Here to Download The Bundle
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*Note: Need to find this bundle or another in the future, without scrolling through our posts? We’ll be adding them to our Writing & Sprinting Resources page as they’re released for your convenience!

2 More Features that Make Scrivener Ideal for First Drafts

Are you working on your first draft and/or are a messy/non-linear/easily distracted writer? Me too. That’s why I use the programme Scrivener to write all my novels in, why I think it’s ideal for writers like me, and why I’ve created this tutorial series highlighting the best features it has to offer. In short, I love this writing programme and would love you to benefit from it too.

In my last post, I sang the praises of three organisational features available in Scrivener. Today, I’m all about the screen options and how they can aid a writer in the midst of her first draft. Here are two features I use to make my writing life that little bit easier and myself that little bit less crazy (though only a little).

1. The split screen option.

Why I love it: I can divide the screen and view two files at once, side-by-side.

What’s more annoying than constantly flicking between two documents as I’m trying to write (aside from a bout of writer’s block accompanied by a clingy plot bunny)? Nothing. Scrivener has a feature that removes that annoyance: the split screen.

Now I can view those two documents side-by-side, making it easy to check one doc while typing into another. The screen can be split between text files, images, corkboards and more, very helpful if I want to write in one half of the screen and view a setting image or a scene outline or my research notes in the other.

I can also choose which way I split the screen. I can split it horizontally, like so…

2 Features that Make Scrivener Ideal for First Drafts. Feature One: Split Screen | www.sprintshack.wordpress.com

Or vertically. Whichever works best with what I’m splitting the screen between.

2 Features that Make Scrivener Ideal for First Drafts. Feature One: Split Screen | www.sprintshack.wordpress.com

To split the screen, simply go to the menu, click ‘View’, then ‘Layout’, and choose whether to split the screen horizontally or vertically.

2. A simple, no-distractions full screen mode.

Why I love it: I can cut out the distractions and focus in on the scene I’m writing using full screen mode.

I’m easily distracted so, while having a splittable screen is great for the aforementioned reasons, I sometimes need to whittle things down to just the one screen, the one text file. But even then, there’s the menu options and the taskbar to distract me… but not necessarily so. And I have full screen mode to thank for that.

In full screen mode, I can make a text file fill the entire screen (and I mean all of it, as you can see in the image below). The taskbar is gone, the menu options are gone. There’s just me and the words and far less temptation to keep clicking back to YouTube to watch funny cat videos.

2 Features that Make Scrivener Ideal for First Drafts. Feature Two: Full Screen Mode | www.sprintshack.wordpress.com

To use this option, go to the menu, click ‘View’ and select ‘Enter Full Screen’.

Full screen mode is perfect for word sprints. It shuts out distractions, hides potentially eye-catching features and folders, and lets you concentrate on churning out those words. I’d definitely recommend it if you’re ever sprinting with us over at @TheSprintShack on Twitter!

Though the two parts of this series have focused on using Scrivener for writing the first draft of a novel, you don’t even have to use it just for this purpose. I wrote this blog post in Scrivener, using both of today’s features, the split screen to view Parts 1 and 2 of the Best Scrivener Features series side-by-side and full screen mode to focus in on this post once I got into the groove of writing.

I’ve also used Scrivener to compile my short stories, to create each individual Writember Workshop lesson, and to write academic papers during my time at university. And there’s still more you could use Scrivener for. You’re limited only by your imagination (which shouldn’t be a problem for us writers, eh?)

Explore Scrivener’s features, find what works best for you and, most importantly, make progress on the projects that have a special place in your heart. Have fun!

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That’s all for the Best Scrivener Features series (for now). What’s your favourite feature and why?

Your Coffee House Checklist

coffee houseSometimes, the demands of family, friends, personal fitness, and the general day-to-day can be huge hinders to our writing. Add in a 40+ hour workweek, as so many of us have, and coming home to your couch and a marathon of Netflix becomes incredibly enticing. Sure, you only have those last few chapters to round out… but you’re just so tired, and the purring kitten on your lap is just so warm, and it really wouldn’t kill your WIP to wait another day, would it? Heck, you may even come up with an even better version of that scene you were stuck on if you just let it marinate for another 24 hours.

Am I just relaying my life at this point, or do I have any fellow writers nodding in sympathetic agreement?

Regardless, the above scenario is too easy to fall into—it’s one of the reasons why, just a little over a year ago, I wrote about creating a designated and dedicated writing space that helps you treat your writing like work (because, as enjoyable as it might be at times, any serious writer will tell you our craft is exactly that: work). However, for many of us, that writing space isn’t in our own homes. Maybe it’s because of the aforementioned habits that are so easy to fall into, or maybe there just isn’t a quiet space in the house to retreat to regularly. In those cases, many turn to the writer’s safe haven and home-away-from-chaos: the coffee house!

To make your trip to the cafe productive, make sure you have everything you need. Here’s a checklist of items every writer should have on their person while setting out to create—scroll down for a printable version!

  1. Your materials. Excuse me for getting meta, but you might have to make a checklist to precede this checklist (or just print out the one provided at the bottom of this post). It may seem obvious that you have to have your notes, your work-in-progress, and your preferred medium with you to write, but it’s all too easy to forget that laptop charger or extra pad of paper behind when rushing out the door.
  2. Some tunes (and headphones!). Most coffee shops provide some smooth jazz or other kind of easy listening for their patrons, but maybe that just isn’t your thing (I’m writing to fantasy and video game scores right now). Bring a writing playlist and your headphones with you so you can block out your surroundings, like that one person speaking a bit too loudly on their phone or the constant hissing of the milk steamer.
  3. A plan. To avoid getting sidetracked, it’s best to have a clear idea of what you want to accomplish. Do you simply want to get through that next scene? Edit the next two chapters in your completed manuscript? Work through a short list of writing prompts? Give yourself a goal and treat yourself when you’re done, such as with that flaky pastry you’ve been eying or a solid 15 minutes of internet browsing time.
  4. Blinders. This one is figurative—unless you own a horse and want to get whimsical. Just because you aren’t surrounded by the distractions at home doesn’t mean there won’t be other distractions present, so come prepared to hone in and focus solely on your work. Scrivener’s full screen mode is great for this, and if you’re prone to looking up and getting sidetracked by the other coffee lovers, Write or Die provides a great variety of “punishments” for pausing too long, from deleting your words to blaring annoying sounds (just make sure your headphones are plugged in to prevent irritating other customers). There are also a number of great apps and services out there that limit your internet time and shut it down for whatever time period you set if you’re prone to getting lost in hours of research or Twitter browsing.
  5. A timepiece. This may seem silly since you’ll likely have a computer, a cell phone, AND a clock that’s sure to be located in the coffee shop somewhere, but checking these things provides too many risks for distraction. Tabbing out of full-screen on Scrivener to check the time on your task bar can throw you off your writing flow, checking your phone could draw your attention to a recent text, and looking up to locate a clock can pull you out of your “zone” entirely. Having a watch on your wrist—or, if you want to be a fancy writer, a pocket watch open beside your laptop or notebook—can help you monitor your time there without taking you too far out of your character’s latest plight.

And that’s it—you’re all set! If you’d like a more expansive list, I’ve provided you with a printable checklist you can keep with your writing materials at all times, here:

coffee house checklist <Click Here to Download and Print the Checklist!>

3 Features that Make Scrivener Ideal for First Drafts

Whenever I write—be it a novel, a blog post or a research page—there’s one programme in particular that I use for my first drafts: my trusty friend, Scrivener.

My first experience of Scrivener came just after NaNoWriMo, back in 2012, when I used my winner’s goodies to check out this strange writing programme I hadn’t come across before. Though it took several YouTube tutorials to get my head around all the options, icons and menus, I quickly realised that this multitude of features was perfect for me and my writing style.

As you’ll probably come to understand as you read on, I’m a very messy writer, with an attention span comparable to a squirrel. If you’re anything like me and struggle with basic writing programmes, then Scrivener may be just right for you too. That said, here are the three features that, in my opinion, make this programme so ideal for me and my incredibly chaotic first drafts.

1. The hierarchy of folders in the binder.

Why I love it: I don’t have to write my story in order.

I’m a very non-linear writer. At the start of a new story, I’ll write whatever scenes come to me first before even thinking about the opening chapter. If an exciting scene pops into my head as I’m writing, I’ll pause where I am at in the story and write it. Should a scene be giving me lots of trouble, I’ll skip ahead and fill in the gaps later. In short, I write scenes all over the place in my first draft.

In a programme like Microsoft Word, in which the whole novel is kept in a single document, I would be constantly scrolling back and forth, trying to find the right part of the story, always at risk of leaving gaps because I’ve overlooked something. Not so in Scrivener.

Using the ‘binder’ feature, I can access each individual chapter and scene of my novel with ease. I want to re-read the first scene from Chapter 16? No problem. I just find the ‘Chapter 16’ folder, click the ‘Scene 1’ text file and it’s there. If I had been using Microsoft Word, I would have had to scroll through over 40,000 words to reach the correct scene—if I ever found it in the first place. Not how I want to be spending my writing time.

3 Features that Make Scrivener Ideal for First Drafts. Feature One: The Binder | www.sprintshack.wordpress.com

The binder feature: See how the story is arranged into folders, subfolders and files?

2. Assignable statuses for folders and files.

Why I love it: It’s easy to see what needs to be done to each chapter and scene.

Because I don’t write in order, I’ll sometimes leave scenes incomplete or skip over them entirely. That’s not too hard to keep track of when I’ve only written a few chapters, but when I’ve passed 60,000 words and I can’t remember where that chapter I dropped partway through because it just wasn’t working out is, I start to get headaches.

Scrivener has a good solution. I can assign each chapter a status— ‘To Do’, ‘First Draft’, ‘Revised Draft’, etc.—and it even lets me create labels of my own. The most commonly used ones in my first drafts are ‘Finish This Please’ and ‘Yuck—Needs Editing’.

See.

3 Features that Make Scrivener Ideal for First Drafts. Feature Two: Assignable Statuses | www.sprintshack.wordpress.com

Assignable statuses: Now I know the locations of all the unfinished and yucky chapters in Part Two.

With statuses, I know exactly what needs to be done to each chapter and scene within my messy manuscript and can locate them easily. Lovely.

3. Multiple documents, one programme.

Why I love it: I can keep my novel, my notes and my research all in one programme.

Gone are the days when I would click between endless documents as I paused my writing to check out character profiles, look at setting photos, read some of my research notes, see what’s coming next in my chapter synopses, and so on. My taskbar only needs one programme open now, which houses all the documents I need.

3 Features that Make Scrivener Ideal for First Drafts. Feature Three: Multiple Documents | www.sprintshack.wordpress.com

Multiple documents: Dirigible knowledge at my fingertips.

See how easy it is to organise, access and move between the story and notes? It saves me so much time and doesn’t disrupt my focus as much as filling my taskbar with new documents does.

In Part 2 of the Best Scrivener Features series (because there were so many of them that I couldn’t fit them all into one post), I’ll share another feature that makes it even easier to view all your documents without switching programmes. You won’t even have to click on to a new file. How’s that for a tantalising hook?

More on that in 2 More Features that Make Scrivener Ideal for First Drafts, where there are an additional two features that make Scrivener perfect for my messy writing style. (Hint: they involve every type of screen a writer with a squirrel’s attention span could possibly wish for.)

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Which Scrivener features do you use more than any other? Share your favourites in a comment below!