2017 Roundup: Did You Miss Any of These Aliventures Posts?

I’m going to be taking some time off over the Christmas and New Year period – so I won’t be blogging again until mid-January.

In the meantime, if you want a bit of holiday reading, here are some posts from 2017 you might like to catch up with … or re-read. (And if this isn’t enough for you, don’t forget that you can find all past posts here in the Archive.)

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Twelve Wise and Inspiring Quotes About Writing

December is always a big month for me: I love celebrating Christmas and the New Year, of course, but it’s also when my birthday falls (on December 12th).

For me, this time of year always involves some reflection on how the past eleven and a bit months have gone … and some thoughts about what I want to accomplish in the year ahead.

All year, I’ve been sharing some of my favourite quotes about writing on Twitter … and I wanted to repost some of the best here, in the hopes that you’ll find them encouraging and motivating too:

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Can You Freelance Just on the Weekends?

I had a great question in from a reader last week. He explained that he was in a full-time job and asked if it was possible to freelance just on the weekends.

I’ll give you the good news first:

Yes, it absolutely is.

Many freelancers start out working around a regular day job (or working around other commitments, like caring for kids). This often means they’re freelancing at unusual hours. When I began freelancing, I used to work on my clients’ blog posts from 6 – 7am, for instance.

Of course, there are some freelance roles that do require you to be at a desk during standard office hours. If you do the sort of freelancing where you need to have meetings (phone or face-to-face), obviously it’ll be tricky if you can’t ever take a weekday off.

A small number of freelancers also work “in house” – they go into a client’s workplace to do the actual work on site. That’s the exception rather than the norm, though: most freelancers can and do work from anywhere, and usually at any time.

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How to Be a More Disciplined Writer

In this month’s newsletter, I’ve been writing a short weekly article about procrastination and resistance, and I wanted to carry on this theme in today’s blog post. If you’re missing out on the newsletter, click here to find out about it – the link will open in a new tab so you don’t lose your place here!

Over the years – particularly since I started working for myself – I’ve done a lot of reading and thinking about procrastination and resistance. There’s no denying that they’re very real forces, and that they can be particularly destructive for writers.

(Before I get too far into this post, I should make it clear that I’m definitely not perfect! I have days when I spend far too much time reading Buzzfeed or TV Tropes when I should be writing…)

While some people like to imagine writers working in bursts of frenzied inspiration, the reality doesn’t generally look like that.

There might be wonderful moments of flow – I’ve certainly had writing sessions where I lost track of time because I was so focused on putting words on the page – but a lot of the time, being a writer is about sitting down and getting on with it. Even when you don’t feel “inspired”.

Whether you’re a freelancer, a novelist, a poet, or a student, you’ll be a more successful writer if you’re more disciplined about your writing.

What does that mean in practice?

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Why Some Writers Are Much Faster than Others: Four Quotes and Six Key Reasons

I’ve written before about writing fast versus writing slow – but it’s an issue I wanted to look at again, particularly in terms of how many words per hour or per day is a “good” rate of writing.

In my late teens, I mentioned to a fellow member of my writing group that I normally wrote 1,000 words in an hour. Their reaction suggested this was a surprisingly fast rate!

Since then, I’ve come across writers for whom a hundred words in an hour is great … and others who won’t be happy unless they’re hitting 3,000 words per hour or more.

Are the slow writers just procrastinators?

Are the fast writers just hacks?

I don’t think so. I think that there are a lot of factors affecting how fast (or not) writers physically get words down onto the page – and neither fast or slow is “better”.

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Short Story Competitions: Are They Worth Entering?

Over the years, I’ve entered a fair few short stories into competitions.

I’m a novelist by inclination, and so most of my fiction writing has been on much longer projects … but I’ve found short stories a great way to try out different techniques, to work to deadline, and to simply have fun.

If you’ve never entered a writing competition, why not give it a try?

You might be worried that everyone else will be amazingly good – but unless you’re going for really big competitions (like the Bridport Prize), you’ll probably  find that the other writers entering aren’t at a super-high standard.

Back in 2007-8, when I was still a relatively inexperienced writer working a full-time day job, I managed to get a couple of shortlistings and a couple of small prizes (a 3rd place and a 2nd place) in Writing Magazine’s competitions.

Looking back at those stories, I cringe a bit: they’re definitely not my greatest writing, but they did well enough to get somewhere in a competition – which was hugely encouraging to me at that stage in my writing career.

After quite a few years focused on novels, I’ve gone back to short story competitions again this year. I entered a couple in January and February – one story sank without a trace; the other (rather to my astonishment) won first prize and was printed in Writing Magazine. You can read it, plus the judge’s lovely comments, here.

So even if, like me, you’re not a particularly experienced or accomplished short story writer … think about giving competitions a go.

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Has Your Blogging Gone as Well as You’d Hoped in 2017? Announcing Blog On

How’s 2017 been for you?

It’s been a mixed year for me: in some ways, I accomplished a lot more than I was expecting (I wrote a whole novella that I hadn’t even thought of back in January) … but inevitably, some of the projects I’d planned to do didn’t quite work out.

For the first year in a while, though, I’ve managed to keep up with weekly blog posts – and it’s been great to be back in the rhythm of writing regularly here on Aiventures.

I know that it can be very easy to lose momentum with a blog, though (I’ve definitely had my share of less than great years).

If your blogging hasn’t gone quite how you’d hoped over the past ten and a bit months, there’s still time to turn it around before the new year.

Announcing … Blog On

Blog On is an eight-week ecourse designed to help you write great posts for your blog, and get to grips with key pages, step by step. If you sometimes feel a bit overwhelmed by blogging, or find yourself procrastinating, this is the course for you!

I’ve been running Blog On, in various incarnations, since 2011 and I rewrote the whole course last year, for my Writers’ Huddle members.

Quite a few people have told me, though, that they’d like to take Blog On without having to have membership of Writers’ Huddle.

I completely understand that. I love the Huddle and the people in it, but I know a monthly membership site isn’t the right option for everyone.

So, for the first time in several years, I’m opening up Blog On to the general public. You don’t need to purchase a Writers’ Huddle membership to join – you can just buy the course itself.

You can get all the details (and join Blog On) here.

Note: If you’re a member of Writers’ Huddle, Blog On is half-price (or free for alumni members): just drop me an email at ali@aliventures.com if you want more information or need any help signing up.

If you’re not a member of Writers’ Huddle but would like to join and take part in Blog On … you can do that! 🙂 Just head over to the Blog On page for full details.

About Writers’ Huddle

Writers’ Huddle is my membership/community site for writers, and it’s been running since early 2012. Members pay a small monthly fee ($9.99 / £7.49) and get monthly seminars, weekly chats, private forums, mini-courses, and lots more … including the full archive of 60+ seminars.

In Writers’ Huddle, we cover blogging, along with a lot of other areas of writing: fiction, non-fiction, freelancing, self-publishing and more. So if you only blog, then it’s probably not a good fit for you. If you’re a blogger and an aspiring novelist, though, or a freelancing blogger, or a blogger who hopes to write a non-fiction book … check it out. You can find out all about it on the Writers’ Huddle home page (opens in a new tab so you don’t lose your place here).

What Could You Achieve With Your Blog in 2018?

Whether you’ve only just set up your first blog or you’ve been blogging for a few years without seeing the results you want, Blog On could be just what you need in order to get your blog into great shape for 2018.

You might want to make money from your blog, launch a freelancing career, build up a great portfolio of your writing, establish a strong readership base, or simply build a regular writing habit: whatever your goals, Blog On can help you.

There’s a full money-back guarantee, too: if the course isn’t for you, just email me before the end of the final week and I’ll be glad to refund you in full. I want you to be able to try out the whole course with confidence.

As well as the ecourse materials, you’ll have access to the Blog On members’ forum, where you can post any questions you have (whether they’re related to the course materials or not) – and where you can ask for feedback on anything you’ve written.

I’ve taken quite a few ecourses myself in the past, and I know how easy it is to start with enthusiasm … only to drop out after a week or two. To keep you on track with Blog On, I’ll be sending out email reminders each Monday and Thursday, and running a weekly prize draw for everyone who “checks in” on the forums. At the end of the eight weeks, I want you to have a blog that you can be justifiably proud of. J

If you think Blog On might be for you, just head here to get all the details.

Got any questions? You’re very welcome to pop a comment below, or if you’d like to contact me privately, just email ali@aliventures.com and I’ll be glad to help.

Is Your Writing Just an Expensive Hobby (and So What If It Is?)

Do you see your writing as a profession or a hobby?

Or both?

While some writers insist that writing is much more than a hobby – it’s a job, a business, even a calling – you might find it helpful to (at least some of the time) treat it like a hobby.

I know that some writers feel that “hobby” has negative connotations … but hobbies have plenty of advantages, after all:

You’re not expected to make money at a hobby. I enjoy reading; I’ve no ambitions to be a paid reader! I can spend time reading without anyone (including me) expecting that I’ll make even a small part of a living from it.

You can spend money on a hobby. Think of golf, sports, craft, even enjoying a particular band: so long as it’s reasonable within your household budget, you don’t feel bad about spending on these things.

Your hobby is (generally) a relaxing break from the rest of life. When I write fiction, I try to see it as something I do – first and foremost – because I enjoy it. A couple of weeks ago, I spent a whole evening working on a short piece that may or may not ever become something I publish … but it doesn’t matter, because I really enjoyed writing it!


I’m certainly not suggesting that you shouldn’t be ambitious, or that you can’t turn your writing into a paying job. I do think, though, that treating your writing as a hobby, at least some of the time, can take the pressure off.

If, for instance, you want more writing time but you’re struggling to explain that to your partner or family, then you may find it easiest to frame your writing as a hobby. Everyone needs (and deserves!) some down time. Maybe their hobby is playing football on a Saturday; yours is writing.

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Five Straightforward Ways to Create Stronger Characters

If your story doesn’t have strong, compelling characters … no-one’s going to want to read it.

That might sound harsh. But however intricate your plotting or however exotic your setting, if your characters are flat and uninteresting, there’s nothing for the reader to invest in.

We read stories because we’re interested in people… and what happens to them.

If your characters seem insipid or passive, here are three ways to make them into stronger, more interesting people.

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How to Find the Time and Energy to Write When You Have Young Children

The hardest thing I’ve done in my life is having kids.

I love them to bits … but if you’re a parent, you’ll know exactly what I mean when I say that nothing prepares you for the reality of children!

Some people stop writing altogether while they’re busy raising small children. If that feels like the right option for you, then by all means take it – I’m certainly not here to say you should be writing. There’s nothing at all wrong with having a break.

If you do want to keep on writing though, then it’s possible to carve out a bit of time, space, and most importantly energy.

(Not necessarily easy, but possible.)

Here are some things that have worked for me: I’d love to hear your tips, too, in the comments.

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