Sorry, Pantsers — one of the tips is plotting

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Photo by lan deng on Unsplash

I get it. I’m a reformed pantser — a term that refers to writing by the seat of your pants — so I understand the appeal of sitting down at the computer with only the slightest story idea in mind and seeing where your imagination will take you. It’s a fun way to write!

But it’s not the most efficient. In the past, when I’ve “pantsed” a novel, I’ve spent too much of my writing time daydreaming or trying to figure out what comes next. …

The short answer is yes, but don’t give them to just anyone

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Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

Maybe you’re thinking, “Sure, Heather, I’ll share my rough drafts. I’ll do it right after I chisel off a piece of my heart and hand that over to my worst enemy to stomp all over it.” Because the prospect of sharing your creative work — and asking for feedback, for judgment — feels a lot like giving someone a piece of your soul and asking them to destroy you.

But that doesn’t have to be the case. If you develop the right mindset and you entrust the right people, sharing your work can be the best way for you to…

Running will not solve your problems if you need therapy

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Photo by Philip Strong on Unsplash

It may be an unpopular opinion, but I’m tired of people saying that running is their therapy.

I’ve been running for almost a decade, and I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression that whole time. Running helped me cope with these issues, but it didn’t give me the skills to finally address them.

Actual therapy did.

I needed more than endorphins and a physical release. I needed cognitive behavioral therapy and a licensed practitioner. And I’m not ashamed of that. I’m so much happier and more satisfied with my life because of it.

But if I’d bought into the “running is…

Not exactly, but you need to know the end of your character’s arc

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Photo by Ross Findon on Unsplash

Second to plotting vs. pantsing, one of the most heated debates in the world of novel-writing is whether or not you should know the ending to your story before you start writing. Some writers swear that they can’t start a draft if they don’t already know how their novel will end. Others say that taking the surprise out of the ending ruins all the fun of writing for them.

So the simple answer is no, you don’t have to know the specifics of how your novel ends if that’s not your thing. …

Mental training is just as crucial to running performance as speedwork

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Photo by Hans Reniers on Unsplash

In 2019, I was running the Milwaukee Half Marathon with the intention of finally breaking two hours.

Race day conditions were perfect. I was nailing my paces. I distinctly remember thinking, as I ran down a gently sloping street along Lake Michigan, “I’ve got this, I’m going to do it!”

And then, almost immediately after I passed the eight-mile mark, my stomach seized with anxiety. My mind went into a panic. I still had five miles to go, and I no longer felt confident.

“I don’t know if I can do it! This feels too hard.”

This moment completely threw…

An outline creates a map for your revision process

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Photo by Tabea Damm on Unsplash

Imagine this: You’re on a road trip. You wanted to drive from one side of the country to the other, so you mapped out your route. In fact, you mapped it out very carefully so you could stop in a number of places along the way — national parks, historical points of interest, and the world’s biggest ball of yarn. You set out with a plan, and you knew exactly where you were going.

And yet, somewhere along the way, you took an unexpected turn. You kept going west; you’d get to the other side eventually, but you knew you…

You don’t need a completely original idea to write a great novel

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Photo by Dmitry Ratushny on Unsplash

Christopher Booker spent 34 years researching and writing a book called The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories. He argues that all stories boil down to seven basic plot structures:

  1. Overcoming the Monster
  2. Rags to Riches
  3. The Quest
  4. Voyage and Return
  5. Rebirth
  6. Comedy
  7. Tragedy

When I first heard this theory, I felt a little panicky. Did this mean that we’d eventually run out of new stories? Has everything worth reading already been written?

And most importantly: Is there any room for my story?

Fortunately, I’ve come around to a new way of thinking: You don’t need a profound idea…

You already own your best writing guide

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Photo by Tracy Adams on Unsplash

A well-crafted book is written in such a way that you don’t consciously notice how it’s been written to compel you to read on. You’re so engrossed in the story that the technicalities fade into the background.

You don’t pay attention, for example, to how frequently the dialogue is sprinkled through the narrative, because you’re too busy letting it carry you forward in the story. Similarly, you don’t note how the author decided what makes up a scene or a chapter; you don’t question it because it’s effective.

And yet, to write an interesting novel yourself, you have to understand…

If you’re stuck in a role that isn’t a great fit for you, take these steps to work into the position you want

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Photo: JESHOOTS.COM/Unsplash

It wasn’t my dream job. I knew that from the start, but I was desperate to leave my old job, so I took it. The thing that swayed me was that “entrepreneurial spirit” was one of the company’s core values, and I could tell they meant it. I got the vibe that I could create my own path there if the time came that I wanted to.

And that was the best decision I made.

At first, beyond some menial tasks that felt more like data entry than marketing, there wasn’t much for me to do.

So I started looking…

These inspiring runners will get you excited to chase down your own goals.

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Photo by Lance Grandahl on Unsplash

At the start of a new year, many of us recommit to our running and fitness goals. We’re inspired by the possibility of 365 days stretching out in front of us. We vow that we’ll stick to our goals and resolutions.

And then all our plans and best intentions get derailed by life. According to Strava, most of us will give up on our resolutions by January 19th. That’s right — we don’t even make it a month into the new year!

There are a number of reasons why this happens as life ramps back up after the holidays and…

Heather Campbell

Book coach helping aspiring novelists achieve their dreams. I’m also a dog lover who writes about writing, running, and mental health.

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