Jot That Down–The Playlist

To celebrate the release of Jot That Down I created this playlist. It includes songs about books, writing, and one of my favorite places in the world–the library.

Which songs would you add? Which ones would you delete?


–  Andy, for the Jot team

3 Questions with novelist S.D. Grimm

Sarah GrimmS. D. GRIMM’S first love in writing is young adult speculative fiction. She is represented by Julie Gwinn of the Seymour Agency and her debut novel, Scarlet Moon, is slated to be published in October 2016. (Pre-order a copy here!) When she’s not writing or editing, Sarah enjoys reading (of course!), making clay dragons for her Grimmlies store on Etsy, practicing kickboxing and Brazilian jiu jitsu, training dogs, and doing anything outdoorsy with the family. Her office is anywhere she can curl up with her laptop and at least one large-sized dog.

Sarah is a flash fiction editor for Splickety Magazine. She’ll be speaking on Flash Fiction writing at the upcoming Jot Writers’ Conference (9.9.16).

What is Flash Fiction? Give us a working definition that most people more or less agree on.

Flash fiction is, in its simplest form, a whole story in 1,000 words or less.

Who are your favorite flash writers and why? Who should we be reading?

Okay, this is really hard, and I’m going to be very biased because I work for Splickety Publishing Group and love all three of our magazines. We have had some really talented flash fiction writers as well as some talented featured authors who have tried their hand at writing flash fiction. It’s not as easy as it sounds. But if you’re interested in flash fiction, I highly recommend checking out Splickety Magazine, Splickety Love, or Havok. (if you want to include our website, feel free

Give us a teaser of your Jot Conference talk. What can attendees expect?

Dabbling in flash fiction has a lot of hidden benefits for writers. I’ll be discussing how to write flash fiction that sells as well as how writing flash fiction is just plain good for your writing career.

A Jot Conference Book is Coming!

A new book for writers will be released in the fall of 2017–and it’s born out of the Jot Writers’ Conference!

The book will be a collection of essays on writing from past and future Jot Writers’ Conference presenters. Though book titles often get changed multiple times during the publication process, the working title for this project is Jot That Down: Encouraging Essays for New Writers. 

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What Is Your Favorite Writing Tool?

I am the king of Post-it notes. They are on my wallet, my cell phone, and there is one on my computer now. Somehow, I always find myself with a billion ideas and no way to collect them all.

Sure, I could put them in a note book and squint at them later or store them in a word file or Google document that I’ll never open, but I wanted to SEE them. I wanted to be able to lay them down side by side and also track my writing progress.

Thus enter my favorite writing tool – my white board.white-board-1206708-m

My wife was at the office supply store and discovered they were wicked cheap and on sale. I’d love a nice frosted glass, trendy one, but I’d also like to not change my one year olds’ diapers. I have to understand what is necessary and what is me just wanting a cool new toy.

The reality is that having that writing software/tool is not going to make me better. Working hard consistently is. And now I have a place to keep track of my progress and flesh out ideas thanks to my wonderful bride.

I’ve hung the white board next to my bed so I can review tasks every day before I go to sleep and remind myself of upcoming goals and deadlines. I can also gaze at it as I doze off and make a mental note to get up early and get to work.

What is your favorite writing tool? How do you stay organized and on top of your tasks?

Do You Struggle To Find Time To Write?

For various reasons, our books are not done.

The task of writing a 60,000-100,000 book is akin to climbing Everest tomorrow, without any training.

But, let’s break this mountain down.

Writing is about rhythm. Get up every day or write at lunch or before you go to bed.

Photo Credit: pichenettes via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: pichenettes via Compfight cc

If you wrote 400 words a day. (this blog post is 146 words)

You’ll need about 30 minutes. (one less episode of__)

If you do this every single day. (this is your dream remember? show a little tenacity!)

You’ll be done in 250ish days. (100,000 words in less than a year!)

This draft will certainly need some TLC (You have 115 days to plot/edit!)

But it will be done. (And you’ll feel like you can do anything)

Food for thought.

No more excuses.

This is your dream.

Writing is hard work, not dancing in a field of lilies.

Don’t give up.

Write 500 words today.

Getting Your Writing Groove Back

When a writer says, “I just can’t find the groove,” anyone who has every written a novel, short story, or article of any sort knows exactly what they are talking about.

It has been called many things: muse, rhythm, pulse, tempo – whatever it is that keeps the writer moving, their fingers to the keyboard, or pen to the page in a way that is both satisfying and liberating. It flows, like waters breaking through a dam, surging, cascading, dancing all over the countryside in your mind. It is the culmination of your idea, your story, your characters, your plot, your unequivocal love for language, unleashed.

Unfortunately for me, and perhaps for you, it is a hard thing to find. Writing time has the tendency to evaporate, and there are only so many mornings you can force yourself out of the bed in the wee hours before the thrill of your tale becomes dull.

Your work is no longer easy. It is no longer joyful. If there was a surge of ideas somewhere in your being you lost the key to that place a long, long time ago. I think it is okay to admit this. It is alright to say that you are in a rut. It is not writers block that I am talking about, I am talking about a loss of energy or gumption and, it might be shameful to admit, desire.

Photo Credit: [ changó ] via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: [ changó ] via Compfight cc

You may find, as I have, that releasing these thoughts to a journal or blog can very well be a way through all of this. Just to have gained traction in any sort of writing, helps, and it helps a lot. It is like stretching your muscles before a game, or going over note cards before a test. It puts you in a mode. It prepares you for the mental battle.

It is important to understand how we work, and more importantly how we can overcome these stoppages in our work. For me, its just to find some way to continue the writing process. For you it might not be writing but reading something different than what you normally read or going through The Writer, Writer’s Digest, Poet’s & Writers, or some other writing magazine or book to be inspired.

Or maybe you need to fill your creative well by doing what the Artist’s Way by Julie Cameron instructs, by taking yourself on a writer’s date.

Whatever it is, find it. Meet head on. Battle through it, keep going, keep moving, keep your story pressing on and don’t give up. It may be, just as you thought you were at the end of your story, you burst through the clouds and find yourself in the glorious light of another finished page.


A Novel Writing Tip From Hemingway

Hemingway used to be one my least favorite writers. Now, he’s one of my favorites. I thank him and his advice in his book – A Moveable Feast, for my current progress.

His advice is simple and genius.

Write the scene in your mind and then stop when you think of the next one. Sounds silly, right? Why stop?

The simplicity of this advice is that you never come to the page empty. You always bring something with you, and are ready when a spare moment presents itself.

Photo Credit: gothick_matt via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: gothick_matt via Compfight cc

This is how I’ve written lately and it has allowed me to have a consistent flow of words and I’ve not had to sit and think where I am going next.

I am never empty.

Never lost.

This is genius because then the well of creativity never runs dry. You always leave a little in there. A little sip to keep you going.

If your well is dry. Try to do things that fill it. Then don’t drain the tankard in one gulp.