Story Mastery with Michael Hauge #michaelhauge #rwaus16 #amwriting

Love stories offer most powerful tool for creating character arc and taking reader on journey

What a thrill to attend Michael Hauge’s story writing workshop at the recent RWA conference. Apparently, we were the biggest audience he’s ever had for a presentation on writing – and we loved it!


For those of you who don’t know much about Michael – he’s a screen-writer and writing/screen coach who works in Hollywood and has consulted on many of the major HW films in the past decades.

Michael covered a lot in our all-day session. Starting with some clips from some movies he used to illustrate his messages. So what were some of his messages?

Some of those that resonated with me were:

You need to create an emotional experience for your reader or watcher

You need to transport the reader/watcher into the world you’ve created

Your goal as a writer is to elicit emotion in the reader

So how do we do that?

Michael went into a lot of detail about main characters, their outer motivations and their inner journey. I will cover more about that in my next few blog posts as there’s a lot to take in. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with another of my favourite quotes from the workshop

Stories are a participatory experience. People read novels not because it is interesting to see what happens, but as an emotional journey to experience for themselves.



Coming out – Empowered and inspired by my first @RWAus conference #RWAus16 #amwriting #writers #emerging

Look out world – here I come!

Ain’t Love Grand was the best conference I’ve ever been to.

“Why?” I hear you ask.

I’ve been to conferences before – quite a few of them – I’ve even presented at some. History, Heritage, Architecture, Sustainability, Management – even Fossils. And there have been many with outstanding speakers, good networking, lots to learn and lots to think about. But for me, the recent RWAus conference was far more than just enlightening. It was transformational.


I felt I changed on so many levels. Of course I learnt plenty of new info about writing and publishing. I also met lots of great people – and I think that’s where the transformation really set in. Because I’ve been a ‘closet novelist’ for years – have sat at home writing away, crafting stories, finishing books, self-publishing a few of them, building networks online and learning about the writing craft and the fraught world of publishing and marketing books, finding readers, etc, etc…. And have felt overwhelmed and alone, at times. Started to lose momentum and wonder whether I could continue existing as a writer in a parallel world that wasn’t really a reality… And then – BAM! – I meet dozens of other writers who are just like me, and suddenly it all becomes real.

So, some of the key things I learnt from attending the conference: –

  1. I am not alone. (That’s very reassuring.)
  2. Other writers are generous and inspiring – I already knew that, mostly, but now I really believe it
  3. Anything is possible, and you won’t know if you don’t try
  4. Writing is hard work and you need to treat it like a job. Take yourself seriously and give yourself permission to write.
  5. Don’t be ashamed of writing love stories – Love makes the world go round.
  6. And so much more that I’m going to need a few more blog posts to express it.

So now I am officially ‘OUT’ as a romance writer. I will tell any of my colleagues at work who are interested, and any of my friends and family. I will set myself writing goals and work towards them with gusto. I have made myself an electronic Calendar dedicated to all the work I need to do as ‘Emily Arden’. I am making this real, and I will succeed.

Stay tuned for some more posts on what I learnt from the conference, and may you achieve your dreams, or at least, always feel empowered to chase them.


The unsexy way to become more successful… #writing #success #habits #improving


If you are wondering about the value of incremental change – read on.

It might not be sexy to do things ‘slowly but surely’, but it certainly works better than a flash in the pan!

I love this post from James Clear… Had you ever heard of ‘Habit Creep’? Neither had I (it is a term he coined).

Read his post to find out more (he explains things so well).

Every small step you take towards improving your habits will make a long-term difference. Trying to make changes too quickly may end up backfiring, but making incremental changes will make a difference to your life. I have been finding this out through trial and error, and it is good to read such something that confirms that I am on the right track!

A nice way to think about success #writers #writing #progress #success

My life changed, literally overnight, when I started keeping a success journal

I have read and written a few posts lately on how we can achieve our goals, and how we can feel that we are being successful. Today I discovered this short post on the subject.

I particularly like the simple message about how success is about making progress. And if we rethink our own preconceptions about what success might mean, then we are more likely to actually achieve success.

So let’s all progress towards that elusive thing called success. Every step along the way will be its own small success…

What can YOU do about being a better writer – My Top 10 Tips #writing #success #transformation #writer #habits


I have read so many great posts lately about how to be a better writer. My recent posting of a James Clear article helped to crystalize quite a few ideas for me. There are so many obstacles that could get in our way to becoming the writer we want to be.

So here are my top ten tips for sidestepping those obstacles and becoming the best writer you can be. And best of all – they are all completely down to you. They don’t rely on you being ‘appreciated’ or ‘discovered’ or ‘supported’ or a ‘bestselling author’. They are just about you being able to tap into your own resources to become the best writer you can be. Some of that other stuff may come, but the important thing is that you give this your best shot. Because if you don’t start and keep persisting, you will never get there…

  1. BE CONSISTENT: Be consistent – just do it. Don’t get distracted or derailed by trivialities. Set up habits that you can repeat every day – habits that will help you to make progress on whatever you most want to achieve.
  2. EMBRACE BOREDOM: Expect that you will sometimes be bored or uninspired. Embrace it and harness it – it is part of being consistent. When you do something regularly – when you show up EVERY DAY – then you can’t expect that every day will be extraordinary.
  3. ACCEPT THAT SOMETIMES IT WILL BE HARD: Find ways to get things done – even when it is not easy. Don’t expect things will always come easily. Some of the best things come after you win a hard-fought battle
  4. TURN UP EVERY DAY: Be someone who turns up every day and just gets on with it – no matter what. Let yourself be serious about what you do (a dilettante would only show up when they feel like it).
  5. CELEBRATE INCREMENTAL WINS: Take note of the small wins you achieve each day – they will help to buoy you up during the times when things are not going so well. I find a ‘Success diary’ works really well
  6. LEARN FROM OTHERS BUT DON’T COMPARE YOURSELF TO THEM: Don’t expect that your writer’s journey will be the same as anyone else’s. If someone you know is having huge success and you can’t seem to jump the first hurdle, don’t let it demotivate you. You are a different person and you will have your own journey. But if you are true to yourself and give yourself every opportunity to succeed, then why shouldn’t you get there in the end?
  7. DEVELOP GOOD HABITS: Set yourself realistic goals and then work on developing the habits to get you there. Instead of telling yourself you intend to write a great novel (which is pretty daunting), tell yourself that you will set aside x hours to write every day. That novel could still emerge – one day at a time. It will never be written all at once, so don’t expect that of yourself.
  8. GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION TO WRITE: Do you sometimes feel guilty when you take time out to write? Perhaps you should be cleaning the house, playing with the kids, taking the dog for a walk… The list could be endless. But remember, if you are a writer, then you need to have time to write. It needs to become a part of your schedule. You are not just being indulgent, you are doing what you are supposed to do. So don’t feel guilty – write!
  9. NURTURE YOUR CREATIVITY: Don’t overanalyze your writing until you have finished the first draft. Allow yourself to develop your stories and let the creative juices flow. There will be plenty of time for agonizing and reviewing and editing and reworking later. But first, harness your ideas.
  10. EXEMPLIFY PERPETUAL MOTION: This is a bit like number one, but with a different spin. Think about the cycle of your work. Start – Continue – Don’t stop… Your writing will be a constant force. You will sit down and start something – just start it and see where it goes. You will keep at it, adding, expanding until you have developed it into a story you are happy with. You will aim to finish something that you can share with others – to prove you are not just talking about being a writer, you are actually doing it. This may only be a chapter or a short story, or it may be an epic novel. Whatever it is, know that you can finish it… BUT and this is the important bit, don’t think the end of the story is the end of your effort. It is just the beginning. Don’t lose heart, just keep on polishing that gem and starting some new ones.

I hope these tips help you to improve and perhaps even transform your writing habits. I would love to hear how your journey progresses, so please leave me a comment!


Are bad habits undermining your chance to be a great writer? #writing #success #habits #achievement #behaviour #permission #writer


I have been thinking (and writing the odd blog-post) about the importance of taking yourself seriously. If you want to get good at something you need to make good decisions about how you spend your time. If you want to achieve a goal, you have to focus on the path you will take to get there. Allowing yourself to succeed means allowing yourself to make good choices, to focus on the right incremental changes to get you where you want to be.

I read an article yesterday that really articulated something to me. It was about habits. If you want to end up with false teeth by the time you are 60, then by all means don’t spend time brushing your teeth every day. But if you want something better than that, then taking care of your teeth will need to become a regular habit. It won’t just happen if you remember it every now and then. It needs to become a personal rule.

“I will not go to bed until I have brushed my teeth”. That sort of rule.

I want to be a writer – the sort of writer who writes books that people want to read. As far as I can see, there are two main things I need to do to achieve that.

Firstly, I have to write good books – and that is a huge topic in itself. Too much to tackle right now. The thing I want to say here is, if I don’t give myself time to write (plenty of time), then it won’t happen. (And not only time to write, but time to edit, check, read, think, rewrite, etc…) To do that – I need to establish a writing habit. Not just to write when I feel like it, or when I feel ‘inspired’, but to turn up to write regularly. Every day if possible.

“I will not go to sleep until I have spent one hour writing” could become my mantra. Something like that. (Nothing wrong with sleep deprivation – surely?)

Secondly, I have to find the readers who will enjoy my books. To me this is even harder than writing, but I know it is something I need to do. There are SO MANY books out there – all I have to do is find my audience. Then to give those readers something they want so they keep wanting to read my stories and my books find their intended home. To achieve that, I need to develop a different set of habits. I need to learn about promotion and reviews, and communicating with potential readers of my books. Hard, but it won’t happen unless I turn up every day and start working on it. So every day (well, most days), I say to myself

“I will not go to bed until I have done something towards building my author profile.”

Preferably five things (my success diary (on facebook) is doing a great job of keeping me on track). It might be a facebook post, a blog post, sharing and commenting on other people’s blogs, tweeting or building my website. There are plenty of things that will help – I just have to keep showing up.

I have posted before about this and I will say it again – make time for your writing. Give yourself permission. Not everything will work, some things might even fail dismally. But if you are not in there having a go, then you will never make it.

I wish you success at creating some good habits to help you on your way. Check out this article for some more inspiration.