Lifelong Writing Habit: The Secret to Writing Every Day by Chris Fox

Lifelong Writing Habit: The Secret to Writing Every DayLifelong Writing Habit: The Secret to Writing Every Day by Chris Fox
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Since I’m the first to rate this book 2-stars, I guess I owe explaining the “low” rating…

The book is nice and short, short in a good, to-the-point kind of way; it has some solid advice, and some solid pre-writing preparation tips, and some interesting notes on habit building. That said, it is less about writing itself and more about the actual building of the habit (where the habit just happens to be writing), and about half of the book only marginally mentions writing and instead goes into how you should basically just be organized in everything else so you can write without excuses or interruptions.
And hey, I get it, it does help a lot to be organized in order to develop a good habit, be it writing or exercising or whatever.
But if you read habit-building books, organizing books, and/or writing books, this one… adds nothing new.
If you’ve never read one of those then this makes for a very nice sum-up on the basics of getting organized and developing (any kind of) habits; but you can also get the same information in a single blog post found with any google search.

To sum it up, it’s an ok book, but it didn’t add anything new for me. I got a lot more value out of his 21-day challenge series on youtube.

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Create a Plot Clinic by Holly Lisle

Holly Lisle's Create A Plot ClinicHolly Lisle’s Create A Plot Clinic by Holly Lisle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I started on this book not expecting a lot. I knew it had very good reviews, but so had other how-to writing and plotting books I’d read, and those weren’t that impressive. Holly Lisle’s Create A Plot Clinic surprised me though.

The book shows you not just one, but several ways in which you can plot, fix your plot, edit or revise your plot, and rearrange your plot; before, during or after writing; and it has advise for people who like plotting as well as for those that don’t and just wing their way through a story (even if ultimately the advise is, plot a little). She also offers advise on what to do when you’re stuck, too.

Still, even if you don’t take all her advise into account, or even if you dislike some of the methods she offers, they can be pretty easily adapted and modified to work in a way that works for you.

The book is written in a very pleasant way, neither treating you like you’re dumb nor like you have to be an academic to understand. It also offers examples for pretty much everything she says, which is extremely helpful.
So you get advise, examples, and exercises to try out yourself. Definitely a recommended read.

What did annoy me a little though was the constant plug to software/sites (particularly Scrivener). Yes, I know it’s amazing, but it should have only been mentioned once and off at the start or end, and then just referred to as whatever preferred method you had to do things. as it was, some parts just sounded like ads for Scrivener.

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Declutter Your Life by Michelle Stewart

Declutter Your Life: Reduce Stress, Increase Productivity, and Enjoy Your Clutter-Free LifeDeclutter Your Life: Reduce Stress, Increase Productivity, and Enjoy Your Clutter-Free Life by Michelle Stewart
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Short read. Nothing new under the sun as far as decluttering advice goes – anyone who has been trying to declutter their life will probably already know most tips; however, the advice is still sound and nicely presented. I particularly liked that she put an example of their own home office set-up.

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The 90 Day Novel by Alan Watt

The 90-Day Novel: Unlock the story withinThe 90-Day Novel: Unlock the story within by Alan Watt
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

It had interesting exercises, but I didn’t really like any of them and didn’t feel half of them helped me actually move forward with the story. I didn’t find them helpful at all (well, maybe one or two), and it just seems like it’ll lead you to a very formulaic novel (even if at its very core every novel is formulaic, as it follows a beginning, middle and end, after all).
Also the basic tips it gives behind all the exercises and rambling are pretty obvious tips.

This might work for some people, but it’s not working out for me.
It might also work if all you want to do is get down on paper a novel or that first novel because you’re terribly blocked or it’s your very first and you’re super nervous… but that’s about it.

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How to Build a Powerful Writer’s Platform in 90 Days by Austin Briggs

How to Build a Powerful Writer's Platform in 90 DaysHow to Build a Powerful Writer’s Platform in 90 Days by Austin Briggs
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I got this book free from a giveaway.
The premise sounded interesting, although I can’t say I much believed the title. Since I’m delving into writing, I figured I’d join and see if I could win it and if so, how it was. I did, and so here we are.
Please note: I have not actually tried the method yet, so I can’t vouch for how good it works (or not), but I will review the book itself.

The book offers a general review of things that will help you build up to a book release (and how to live up to it, according to it). It’s reasonable enough, with sound (if slightly obvious sometimes) advise, and it promises to be good for self-publishing as well as traditional publishing.

One thing that annoyed me was the self-quoting (little red squares of text quoting the thing that is either on that same page right next to the bos or on a page before/after). They were a little distracting because, in a ~190 pages book that has no walls of text, it was really not necessary.

Basically, the book treats your author name as a business brand, and I think it has a solid point in telling one to behave as if they were a professional business; after all, as a professional writer, that’s what you’d be. They called this your “brand”, a word I didn’t much care for when it was first mentioned, but that made a lot more sense towards the end of the book.

Some sections have little exercises for you to do as you go along, which is kind of cute. It also has resources (read: several links) for helpful things: book formatting, editors, examples and other such. However, I don’t feel telling you “these sites do it great” is good content, when some things can be explained directly.

This also talks a lot about blogging, as it seems to be the basis of this social platform. I understand why it would be so and the need for it, however I’ve been reading lately that it might not be good for some writers (read: If you abandon your blog later, because even if you DO manage to go through with the 90-day proposed here, someday you’re just bound to run out of ideas on what to blog about, particularly if your subject matter has a rather finite set of topics to cover).
Sometimes the book feels a little repetitive. Things that are explained are then either re-explained in slightly different wording or merely expanded upon.
I did find the pinterest tactics/suggestions (as brief as that section was) interesting. Some ideas are pretty out there (“Spend a month living as one of your characters (e.g., exploring the Amazon) and post the video documentary series”, for instance), but not bad (if you’re rich and can do that 😉 ).

Although it promises to view a writers platform, it also provides a general overview on editing and other such advise. In fact, up to about ~130 pages in, it’s all a general overview of things: of what the social platforms are, of what you should and shouldn’t do, etc. After that you really go in-depth on a step-by-step of the program you are to follow.

It does look like a time-intensive program, the 90 days you decide to do it should be spent quite a bit on it. It’s definitely not apt for the socially reclusive (of course, you’re building a social platform, so you’re not -supposed- to be reclusive, but if you have a hard time maintaining your regular social circles, then creating a social platform might not be for you… )

The best advise this book gives is “You’re building a successful platform. Behave as if you already have one.”

Overall though, the information found here is nothing that can’t be found all around the internet, but I suppose it’s good to save yourself the googling and have it all in one place. It’s a quick read, it doesn’t hurt to give it a look even if you won’t (or can’t) go through with the calendar right away.

If you know nothing of how to build a writer’s platform, this book might just be great for you.

If you have a basic idea already, then you may not find it as useful or as interesting, but you may still find some tips and examples to build on that spark your own creativity.

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The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi

The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character ExpressionThe Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression by Angela Ackerman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A reference book for “show, don’t tell” emotions. It’s a real gem (even if these are all basic things anyone with basic observant skills should probably know), because even if you know these things sometimes you get stuck when trying to describe them (or don’t want to repeat yourself) and this book is really helpful for that.

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