Author Archives: thewritersadvice

About thewritersadvice

Jai is a full-time writer in the Pacific Northwest. An award winning journalist and published author, Jai writes mystery thrillers, ghost writes articles and books as well as feature articles for several national magazines.

Desperately Seeking Inspiration? Stop it Right Now!


So days it just won’t come…. Here I sit at my keyboard this morning and I realize that no matter how hard I try, inspiration just isn’t going to hit. I have drank an entire pot of coffee, paced between the living room and my office, played with the dog and admonished the cat for once again trying to knock over a plant and still….nothing.

Let’s face it…for the writer…there are gonna be days like this; days when you are non-motivated to put any words onto the page. A lot of writers will tell you to “force it”, make yourself sit in your chair until the words are squeezed out. I simply don’t agree with that advice, in fact, I think it is among the dumbest things you can say to a writer at all.

Inspiration is inspiration…an elusive beast that we all pray for and almost never shows up at an opportune moment. Some of us writers have been blessed with frequent visits but no matter how blessed you are, there are still times when inspiration hides and no amount of screaming “Marco” will get a Polo. My advice? Deal with it by simply walking way.

Go for a drive, a walk, donuts…something to get your brain completely away from the concept of writing. I think that there are times when we over work inspiration and he/she gets tired and needs a beer so he/she disappears for a while. It’s okay if inspiration is taking a snooze; maybe it’s a sign that you need one too.

If you force yourself to write your writing will sound forced and no one wants that. Forcing a story is a great way to offend your readers. In my experience writing is a natural act and forcing your brain to write is as unnatural as it gets. So if inspiration has left the building and is hanging out with Elvis you go find something else to do. It will return…it always does.




© The Writer’s Advice, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.


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An Honor to be Considered Reprint able & Helping a Fellow Writer

Today I had something extraordinary happen. A young person from Vietnam wrote and asked my permission to translate some of the articles I have written here and post them on their new website to help writers in their country…I feel humbled.

I gave my permission of course because I believe that it is important that people from all walks of life have access to the information they deem important and helpful. I am always ready to help a new writer or group of writers do what it is that I love so very much. To be asked if someone can translate what I have shot out there is an amazing feeling.

Having said all of that, I want to add this….if you can help a fellow writer, do it. Writing can be a tough, lonely occupation. We see writers all the time who deal with depression and I believe that the main reason why is because of what we do. Having to live day after day with a million voices in our heads, all that emotion running to and fro…it’s enough to weigh on anyone. For me personally, having other writers to talk to helps a lot; I have writer friends as well as online groups that I can spend time with and those connections are important. They keep me sane.

It’s always funny to me that no one really questions when fellow computer geeks or office workers go out for a drink or hang out together but when it comes to writers; they look at us funny. The bottom line is that everyone needs support and we are no different. As a writer you should want to support as well as be supportive. Reach out this week and talk to a fellow writer; spend some time connecting. It’s important.



© The Writer’s Advice, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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Posted by on August 18, 2014 in Writing, Writing Tools


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I’m Just Too Good to Make Money


I get these emails from other writers from time to time that make me want to gag. They are usually from “successful” writers in the form of a newsletter blast offering various pieces of advice among which is the ever present, “don’t sell yourself short” article. Now while normally I would agree that no one should sell themselves short, that is not exactly what these articles are touting. Instead these articles are telling other writers to not “settle” for smaller writing jobs. Settle? Really?

I take on all types of jobs. I do bios for business folks, I do newsletters for non-profits, I do flyers for small businesses…I do a lot of jobs. Some of these jobs come via other clients but many come from ads I have posted online offering marketing or writing services. I get paid anywhere from $10 – $5000 depending on the job. Those big paying jobs are great but those little paying jobs, at the end of the day, are often my bread and butter and I’m not ashamed to say so.

Many of those who demand that we “not sell ourselves short” are successful and are getting the big jobs now but they have forgotten that we all have to begin somewhere. While I have enjoyed some measure of success too I do the smaller jobs for other reasons though. I like to stay in contact with the regular folks because that is where I get my inspiration from. Sure I could take the large magazine jobs and get the big bucks all the time but those are often research laden and kind of boring. I like the smaller jobs that have character and allow me to get to know my clients. I also enjoy being creative and often times those big magazine jobs don’t allow that.

So before you say no to answering that ad for a ghost writer or a freelance marketer think again. Everyone wants those large paydays but if you spend all your time waiting for those aren’t you passing up the chance to make more money along the way? And when it comes to charging those smaller clients, be reasonable. We are all having a tough time economically so don’t try and gouge them. Word gets around and besides, over charging just isn’t right.



© The Writer’s Advice, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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Posted by on August 13, 2014 in Business of Writing, Writing


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Stabbing People For Real is Illegal…So Write

It is the end of summer…technically…. It’s the last month of guaranteed sunshine and it is the month that everyone loses their minds and tries to fit ALL of the stuff they had hoped to accomplish into the next 30 days; my household is no different. My spouse is trying to finish all those “projects” in the garage, my daughter is trying to spend every waking moment with her friends (because OMG she won’t see them when school starts right?) and my youngest son thinks that the request, “please empty the cat box” translates to “go out and hang out with your friends”.

For me, as a writer, the month of August is very frustrating. I need to get my winter writing organized and I need to finish the book project that I have been working on all summer but I now have to do that in between running the kids around and picking up stuff at Home Depo for the spouse. I don’t mind doing these things except that this month the “running errands” has become constant and I am finding myself missing my chair.

I used to be able to juggle all this stuff with no problem but I’m getting a bit older and I find myself needing a little more start time on some things. The real rub, however, is that writers need solid blocks of time to create and around here those solid blocks are few and far in-between. I decided this morning that I need to have one of those conversations with my family.

It is tough to not feel a little guilty when you aren’t helping out so much around the house but keep your eye on the bigger picture…that writing you are doing is bread and butter too so you have to do it. Often times families feel that since you work from home your time is bendable but it’s not if you are consistently writing. And at my house it isn’t just the folks who live under my roof, it’s the grandkids, the adult sons and friends. Today I am sending out an e-mail to those who don’t live here and simply reminding them that I do have a job and that from 9-5 I am unavailable. As for the ones at home, we will sit down and talk tonight but the boundaries have to be there otherwise I will get nothing done.

So set your boundaries…it’s important and it is the only way you will get anything done.



© The Writer’s Advice, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.


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Posted by on August 6, 2014 in Writing, Writing Tools


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The Friday Writing Pebbles #13


Like throwing a pebble into the water some writers put advice out into the ocean of hopeful newbies hoping the ripple effects will reach them and they will learn a thing or two. Fridays here at The Writer’s Advice is pebble collection time. I will post some of the pebbles of wisdom I discover and I encourage you all to do the same. Each Friday we will help each other. So here are mine….show me yours!

50 pieces of writing advice from authors –

Authors’ sleep patterns & productivity –

Literary drinking spots you can actually visit –

Seven Things Every Writer Must Know to Survive –

Weird Al airs all his grammar grievances in hilarious spoof of Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” –




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I Read a Book I really Hated…It was Mine


Have you ever picked up a piece of work that you have completed and thought…how can I call myself a writer? I do it all the time. Hating your own work appears to be part of the process of being a writer. We all finish stories and then tend to be the most critical reader in the room. But the difference between being a writer who gets his/her work published and being a writer with a trunk full of finished novels that will never see the light of day is allowing someone else to read your work.

We really are our own worst critic. I often read over something I have written and, if I allow myself, I rewrite it 1000 times. The truth is, in our minds, we can always do better. I will bet that if you asked Stephen King today if he would have changed anything in Carrie he would tell you, “oh yeah, a thousand things”. It is for this reason that I am sure Mr. King allows his wife to read through his work. We need someone who will be honest although not as critical as we are on ourselves.

My first book was the bane of my existence for a long time before it was actually published. A friend dug it out of a drawer and read it while I was away for the weekend and then, when I returned, demanded to know why I hadn’t sent it to a publisher. If it hadn’t been for that friend, my first book might still be in that drawer. You have to recognize that we are critical of ourselves and because of that you have to allow your work to be read by someone else. They may still announce that it is crap but at least then you will know for sure.


© The Writer’s Advice, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.


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Sometimes Giving Up is a Good Thing


How many times in your life have you heard someone say…”don’t give up”? We literally get beaten over the head with the concept of not giving up from the time we are kids. Well I’m here to tell you, that advice isn’t always a good thing…sometimes there are things that you just need to…well…give up.

1. People Pleasing – OMG give this one up. Let’s face it, you really can’t please everyone and it is a crap shoot trying to figure out which ones will approve and which ones will disapprove. It’s not worth it to try and write your stories in such a way that everyone will be happy…in fact, it isn’t even possible. The key is to write what make you happy and then hope that there are others who will also find your work enjoyable. And for Pete’s Sake don’t allow some editor somewhere to try and make you write their version of your story either. (and there are ones out there who will try)

2. Stop doubting yourself – Definitely give this up. Self-doubt will only lead to a work stoppage that you can’t fix. Self-doubt is paralyzing. We will all tussle with it from time to time but the key is to not let it over take you. Acknowledge that you are feeling insecure and then move on.

3. Negative thinking – While this should be a no-brainer many of us do it without even realizing it. I am a big fan of positive thinking. If you continue to tell yourself that you will fail…even in your mind…you will.

4. Fear of failure – “Nothing ventured, nothing gained”….truer words have never been spoken. As a writer, failure means one thing…you have to begin again. Don’t let the fear of failing stop you from trying.

5. Criticizing yourself – Yeah…give this up right now. We have enough folks out there waiting to pounce on us for what we do…don’t add yourself to the fray.

6. Saying yes when you mean no – Writers, by nature, are people pleasers….stop that. You have enough on your plate without trying to do stuff that you really don’t want to do. I get caught up in this all the time whether it’s agreeing to watch the grandkids or stopping to do something for one of the children. It’s okay to say no when you are working. This tends to be a huge problem for those of us who work from home….remember to have that boundaries conversation with the family.

7. Procrastination – We have had this conversation over and over again. If you want to be a successful writer you have to give up procrastinating. Putting it off means it doesn’t get done….that’s all.

There are other things that you have to give up as a writer as well but these are the 7 biggies. It’s okay to give these things up; in fact your writing life depends on it.



© The Writer’s Advice, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.



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