All in a Day’s Work

The writing business is a multi-faceted process that begins with the creation of a story and then progresses to the marketing of that story.  This was not always the case. Time was when a writer wrote, and that’s all she did pretty much.

Today the writer has become a marketer as well. It is no longer only about writing; it is also about promoting that writing.

If you’re like me, you wish things had stayed as they were. After all, writing is hard work.  I’d much prefer using my creative energy for creating stories instead of devising methods to market that story. But, alas, we must move forward with the times if we are to survive in this evolving industry.

So what does my typical writing day look like? Here’s a snapshot:

—From 8am until 1pm, I write. I focus on creating story. Usually, I lock myself in my writing studio and do not emerge until I reach my self-imposed word count: 1000 words minimum per day, five days per week.  If I do not stick to this regimen–and, I confess, at times I fail–I will not achieve the writing goals I’ve set for myself.

—I do my best to resist the temptation to check email.  Email poses a major distraction for me, so I have decided to relegate answering email to the hour between 4pm and 5pm. Again, I sometimes fail at this, but setting this boundary has enabled me to accomplish more actual writing of story.

—I leave the marketing aspect of writing to those times of day when my mind is less engaged creatively.  Early morning works best for me in terms of my creative energy. It is then that I am freshest and most engaged. So that is the time I devote to creating story.

What is your day’s work like?  What steps have you taken to ensure that you write?  What pitfalls have you encountered that have robbed you of valuable writing time?

One last thing–and the most important thing: I take very seriously God’s injunction to commit my writing to Him.  He says in Proverbs 16:3: “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.”  I do this every day and have noticed that, despite my failures and weaknesses, the Lord keeps me on track and His job gets done. For this, I praise Him and thank Him.


Copyright 2014 by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio. All Rights Reserved.

The Audience of One

Writer, for whom are you writing? The answer to that question will determine the content of your writing, the purpose of your writing, and the destiny of your writing.

As believers, our paradigm of purpose centers totally and only on Jesus Christ. We write for Him, about Him, in Him, and through Him. Every word that flows through our fingers–whether via the pen or the keyboard–must exalt Him and Him alone. He is the Beginning, the End, and Everything in between.

Too often we are tempted to write for our own glory, but His way and His will are that we write for His glory. He alone is worthy of all glory, all honor, and all praise.  For out of Him comes our writing gift, and to Him that gift must be consecrated. Without Him, we have no writing gift.  With Him, our writing gift is sanctified and given meaning and influence.

So be filled with joy at the great privilege that is ours. The privilege of writing for King Jesus and for His Kingdom.

When all is said and done, we write for an Audience of One.

Copyright 2014 by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio. All rights reserved.

Living the Fiction Writing Life by Faith

If you’ve been a fiction writer for any length of time, you know how harrowing an experience the writing life can be. In a matter of a few moments, we can soar to heights of elation only to plummet into the depths of despair.  But as Christ-Followers first and writers second, we must learn to live the writing life by faith and not by sight.

What does it mean to live the writing life by faith?

Living the writing life by faith means making God’s Word–not our emotions–the final authority in all of our writing-related situations. For example, God’s Word says that everything I put my hand to shall prosper (Deuteronomy 30:9).  When I receive yet another rejection letter from an editor, I have a choice. I can either allow myself to become discouraged, or I can stand on God’s Word that says everything I put my hand to shall prosper.  “Everything” includes my writing.

Living the writing life by faith means refusing to look at the things that are seen and focusing, instead, on the things that are not seen (2 Corinthians 4:18).

The next time you are tempted to focus on the negative circumstances of your writing life, resist that temptation and focus instead on God’s Word.
Copyright 2014 by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio, PhD, MFA. All Rights Reserved.

My Favorite Books on Fiction Writing

Every fiction author has her list of favorite books on the craft of writing fiction. Periodically, authors ask me for book recommendations, and I am always happy to offer some of my favorites. While this list is certainly not all-inclusive, it does represent a cross-section of my fiction-writing library.

The books listed are those I have found to be most helpful in learning how to write compelling fiction. I am supplying links to each book in case you wish to purchase one or more of them.  I want you to know upfront that these links are my affiliate links to, and I earn a percentage of all sales made through them.

If you know of other good books that are not already on my list, please let me know. I welcome your recommendations.   Thanks!

Story by Robert McKee

Book Proposals That Sell by W. Terry Whalin

Christian Writers Market Guide 2014

Create Your Writer Platform by Chuck Sambucchino

The Dance of Character and Plot by DiAnn Mills

Fiction Writing Demystified by Thomas Sawyer

The Fire in Fiction by Donald Maass

Getting into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn from Actors by Brandilyn Collins

Goal, Motivation, & Conflict by Debra Dixon

On Teaching and Writing Fiction by Wallace Stegner

Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell

Power Elements of Story Structure by Rebecca LuElla Miller

Save the Cat! by Blake Snyder

–Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and David King

Story Engineering by Larry Brooks

Story Physics by Larry Brooks

Structuring Your Novel by K. Weiland

Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight Swain

The Art & Craft of Writing Christian Fiction by Jeff Gerke

The Moral Premise by Dr. Stan Williams

Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass

Writing 21st Century Fiction: High Impact Techniques for Exceptional Storytelling by Donald Maass 

Copyright 2014 by MaryAnn Diorio, PhD, MFA.  All Rights Reserved.


Five Ways How NOT to Write a Novel

Much has been written on how to write a novel. Today, I’d like to address a few ways on how NOT to write a novel.

1) Do NOT wait for inspiration. If you do, you may never write a novel. Inspiration comes from discipline, determination, and dedication. When you apply the seat of your pants to the seat of the chair, inspiration will eventually come. At those times when I do not feel particularly inspired, I start my writing day by typing something like, “I have no clue what to write but I will keep on writing until I do have a clue.” I keep typing in this rather nonsensical fashion until an idea pops into my head that puts me in what I call “the flow zone”.  Once there, I sometimes find that good ideas flow so quickly that I cannot stop writing.

2)  Do NOT chase market trends.  The trend you chase today may end up being the trend of the past by the time your book is published–if, indeed, it is ever published. Instead, write the book of your heart.  Better yet, write the book of God’s heart. If you are connected to God, His heart will be your heart.

 3) Do NOT imitate other authors. Yes, be inspired by them, motivated by them, encouraged by them. But do NOT attempt to be a clone of them. You are a unique author with unique experiences and a unique way of expressing those experiences on paper. Write out of who YOU are. 

4) Do NOT circumvent the necessary learning curve for writing a novel. If you try to cut corners, your writing will show it. Instead, take the time to become excellent at your craft.

5) Do NOT give up. Thomas Edison said “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine-percent perspiration.” Writing a novel involves a lot of sweat equity. While talent is important, perseverance is even more so. If you put your mind to it and your heart in it, you can write a story that will touch and transform lives.

Copyright 2014 by MaryAnn Diorio, PhD, MFA. All rights reserved.