Do All Writers Need Vision Boards?

I’m the first to admit that the idea of a ‘vision board’ doesn’t fit with my writing style. The visions I have in my highly imaginative brain are quite enough to feed my storylines, but after researching the idea, I’m slowly leaning the other way.

Supposedly, a vision board is a valuable tool. There are more benefits than just looking at some collection of images that you cut out from magazines.

So, how do they work?

Using a Vision Board can help you plot your narrative, giving your brain a chance to access its creative side

  • While most of us will have a plot outline somewhere that we refer back to as we are creating our storyline, another tool would utilize photographs and images that spark your imagination and allow you to envision your story.
  • Visual thinkers will especially find this method helpful. While writers usually recognize words as their most important tools – we should never forget that pictures can speak thousands of words with just one glance.
  • Additionally, a vision board for your novel’s plot allows you to step back and see’ your narrative in your mind’s eye. Rather than having to follow your plot timeline word-by-word, you get a visual overview of it.
  • This method lets your plot play out in your mind allowing you to free-associate between ideas and find new paths to take your narrative down. An extra benefit is that you can quickly and easily visualize your plot’s timeline.
  • This will allow you to spot potential plot holes, as well as finding solutions in a much faster way. While this method might not work for everyone, it is one way to spend your time when you are hitting a wall and suffering from writer’s block.

Take a break from words and immerse yourself in visuals

  • Allowing yourself to take some  time away from your writing gives your brain (and your hands) time to breathe.
  • So, one way to use your time in between writing projects is to move away from words and create something visual.
  • Vision boards aren’t usual as taxing as writing. They are simple, personal and creative. As a result, they are enormously therapeutic. Going through images you like and turning them into a collage will give you something beautiful.
  • Even if your vision board never turns into a story or novel, you’ve allowed your mind to relax and move into a meditative state. You’ve gotten a much-needed break from your keyboard, and you will feel recharged and ready to write.

Vision Boards help you find motivation, as well as visualizing writing success

  • Which authors’ careers do you admire? Find some photographs of them and past them onto your vision board. I know that I would definitely have pictures of Stephen King, John Grisham, Margaret Atwood, Nora Ephron, and Jodi Picoult.
  • Who do you see on your image board?
  • Utilize the Amazon search engine and find some images of your favorite novels and past them on too.
  • Find some images of your favorite novels and include them in there as well.
  • You could even select some of your favorite lines from books — it’s up to you.

Just some food for thought until next time,

~Mustang Patty~

Do you have Writer’s Burnout?

Okay, I’ll go first.

YES – I have a form of Writers’ Burnout that is quite alarming.

For the past six weeks or so, every time I write a Blog post, I get tired – or distracted – or suddenly feel like I must do something that takes me away from my den AND keyboard.

The result:

       ‘Mustang Patty Talks Writing’ hasn’t been tended to for quite some time.

       I’ve kept myself busy with the production of Anthologies and reading the work

of OTHER WRITERS!

So, I needed to formulate a plan. (Because I’m great about following procedures. They are, after all, the roadmap to success. (Did I coin that phrase?? Or steal it from somewhere? Hmmm)

I plan to return to my daily writing sessions, Post a minimum of three Blogs per week on my website, and write and edit at least one short story per month.

But a PLAN without the steps isn’t worth the paper you write it on…

Step One:

Start READING again.

I haven’t sat down with a good book and just ‘fell’ into it in too many months to remember. I have a stack of fiction books to read – I just need to sit down and permit myself to get lost in another world, INSTEAD of reading non-fiction books on writing or blogging.

I’ve read in several articles that when a writer is tired and overwhelmed – for whatever reason- they stop reading. (After all, that isn’t productive – right?)

And then what about when you are on a crucial deadline? More often than not, you will concentrate on the current project – or maybe you can’t – because your focus is off, and you have that ‘I just can’t get into this book’ feeling.

It all comes down to how your brain views writing – any writing – when you’re reading now, you aren’t just reading for pleasure – you’re evaluating the plot, the syntax, and it feels like ‘work.’ That’s because you haven’t shut down your ‘writer’s brain.’

So, when you DO start reading again, you need to turn off the ‘writer’s brain, and read with an unrestricted sense of pleasure.  You could try reading some titles that you consider your personal favorites – it will be a relaxing project because you are familiar with the storylines.

Step Two:

Find your rhythm in a Ritual rather than a Routine

We’ve all heard the whole thing about setting up a specific space where you write and maybe even set a particular time. The problem with all of that is that it becomes a routine.

Wouldn’t it be better if you made it a Ritual?

Even the thoughts behind the word conjure up something exciting. A routine can be too mundane and too exhausting. In comparison, a ritual can put you in the right mood to write.

Remember: Routines are about time; Rituals are about YOU.

We all have our own guilty pleasures. Some of us will take a warm shower, perhaps a short walk in the park, or even something as simple as making a nice cup of coffee.

If you need to connect the Ritual with your writing, perhaps you could start it in your writing space. Maybe reading over the last few pages you wrote, or make longhand notes in a special journal.

Whatever gets you in the right frame of mind to write.

Step Three

Start Small (But Be Consistent)

The recovery of your Creative Energy is much like recovering from a physical or psychological mishap. The process can’t be rushed. It’s all about taking that first small step towards reclaiming your power as a writer.

When you’re starting to get on the writing train, your goals can be very small at first and, as you bulk up that writing muscle that has atrophied, you can become more ambitious.

Perhaps it could be something as simple as setting a timer for ten minutes and writing about a Daily Prompt that you have stored somewhere. (Look on the internet and download one of the many lists – but then close your browser!)

Finding your writing voice again will take time, but it is possible.

So, I will be posting blogs again – I’ve been working on the ones for August over much of the end of July!

Welcome to my next series of blogs.

~Mustang Patty~

2021 Mystery/Crime Anthology NEEDS your Short Stories

Mustang Patty and Heathory Press present:

Here’s another exciting opportunity for Indie Authors looking for a way to be published!

We’re looking for Short Stories of 2000 to 5000 words that fit a Mystery/Crime these for an Anthology to be published in the late Fall.

Stories need to be submitted in either Word or Google Docs, along with a $10 fee (which will be deducted from Entrance Fee IF accepted) to be evaluated and given an Editorial Assessment.

IF the story is acceptable, it will be returned with the complete assessment and an Invitation to submit for publication.

All stories should be submitted WITH ANY CHANGES and edits suggested, along with a $45 Entrance Fee.

The Fee includes inclusion in the Published Anthology AND an Author’s copy of the paperback book including shipping to the address of your choice.

DEADLINE FOR INITIAL SUBMISSIONS – AUGUST 31, 2021 DEADLINE FOR FINAL SUBMISSIONS-SEPTEMBER 30, 2021

ANTICIPATED PUBLISH DATE: OCTOBER 31, 2021

Time to Format 2021 Indie Authors’ Short Story Anthology

36 Stories

24 Authors

6 Countries Represented

across 5 Continents


Mustang Patty Talks Writing will be back with new and informative Blogs about writing on July 5th, 2021. You can look forward to Blogs on Writing Tips, Elements, Grammar and Punctuation.

Currently, I’m hard at work formatting and perfecting these year’s Anthology.

If you would like more information regarding next year’s Anthology, please do not hesitate to contact me at patty@mustangpatty1029.com

until July…

~Mustang Patty~

A Few things Writers Shouldn’t Do

Here we are again, and it is already the end of April – this year is flying by! (It hasn’t helped that my COVID vaccines knocked me flat for an entire week after each one.)

Recently, I read an article on Writer’s Digest regarding ‘Things a Writer Should Never Do.’ The report was particularly timely because I just wrote an email to a new writer regarding how Royalties on Amazon work.

I’m sure the news crushed her. Finding out that her novel will only net her $.82 per book sold – mostly because she had it in her head, she would make $7.50 of the $9.99 sales price. (I’m not sure if she will ever publish another book – but for a lot of us – it isn’t about the Royalties – it’s about being PUBLISHED.

So, here are a few of my ideas of ‘Things a Writer Should Never Do.’

DO NOT try to write like your favorite authors – you have your unique voice. ALWAYS write like yourself.

DO NOT believe that there is only ONE WAY to write a novel. There are HUNDREDs, if not THOUSANDS of books out there with helpful hints on how to write a story. (If you read them, only hold near and dear the things that apply to YOU and YOUR writing.

DO NOT stop writing to promote or pitch your last novel. Keep up your momentum and believe in yourself. While you are waiting to hear from a contest, agent, or publisher, you need to keep working on your next project. (If nothing else, it keeps you from going crazy.)

DO NOT get hung up on the debates: outlining versus not, how many words are in a novel? And all the rest – YOU HAVE YOUR STYLE – Do what makes you feel the most comfortable.

DO NOT hate someone for giving you their opinion or feedback. Your writing – along with everyone else’s – will not be for EVERYONE.

Remember that there are Trolls on the Internet and their favorite pastime to make other people doubt themselves. (So – Do NOT write to impress them or take their suggestions into consideration.)

DO NOT forget the basics of writing. Ensure that your MS is well-formatted, your grammar corrected, and your style is consistent.

DO NOT forget to proofread and edit your work. It is foolish to spend money for an editor to fix basic errors. READ your work OUT LOUD, and analyze sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph, and your story as a whole.

Please DO NOT assume that it is EASY to write and market your MS. It is hard work and time-consuming. Give the project your best.

DO NOT write strictly from your inner ideas. Go outside, sit in restaurants and listen to other people talk. It will improve your dialogue and may even give you a story idea.

Please DO NOT forget to read. Reading is fantastic for writers – it keeps the brain awake! (And inspires you to write your best work.)

DO NOT be afraid to abandon a project that isn’t working. Put it away or throw it away, but don’t spend time on something that isn’t working.

DO NOT GIVE UP – Writers write. And they continue to put words on the page. Give your writing everything you have. The stories you tell will keep you warm at night. And then there are those wonderful moments when the story blossoms in your head – those ‘Aha’ moments that create joy in the hearts of writers.

And above all, DO NOT forget to have fun and enjoy the act of writing.

Until next time,

~Mustang Patty~

Build your Antagonist to be a Powerful Force

Over the next few posts, we will examine the importance of building the characters who will carry your novel’s storyline. (Short stories may not have all these characters due to the length and focus of the storyline.)

There are FOUR-character types (the Protagonist, the Antagonist, the Love Interest, and Other Characters) who will populate the place you create in your novel. 

In my last blog post, I discussed the Protagonist and their importance, but today, we look at the story goals of the Antagonist.

While the plot is driven by the goal of the Protagonist, the Antagonist is there to put obstacles in their path. The Antagonist’s primary purpose is to create conflict in your story – without conflict, there is no plot.

Creating a strong Antagonist is vital to your story – they are just as crucial as your Protagonist. They are there to try to prevent your Protagonist from reaching their story goal. 

Here are some things to keep in mind when you build your Antagonist:

Most Antagonists are viewed as villains or bad people. However, quite often, these characters are not evil or even harmful. They are merely the opposition to the actions of the Protagonist. If the roles were reversed, the Protagonist could become the Antagonist. All that matters is the conflict.

All Antagonists need a face. The root of the word is Greek, and the meaning is opponent, competitor, or rival. The best Antagonists are people, rather than a force of nature (earthquake, flood, storm, etc.,) a group (gang or big company,) or a general life condition such as an illness or poverty or corruption. When your Protagonist is fighting the system, your Antagonist represents that system or company. (Think Mr. Smith in the Matrix, or Mr. Potter in It’s a Wonderful Life.) Good disaster stories feature a human antagonist who tries to stop the heroes.

Your Antagonist shapes your Protagonist. They are equal in strength – if not more potent, and this character must have the resources to fight a good fight. Create a character who has a solid reason to oppose the Protagonist’s goal. It should be just as logical and robust as your Protagonist’s goal.

Quite often, the Antagonist is already someone in the life of the Protagonist. It could be their spouse, a boss, or a business colleague. There are other connections to the Protagonist besides their conflict. Your Antagonist could be someone from the past, a mutual acquaintance, or someone who shared an event in the past. 

Remember that the Antagonist believes in their actions. The motivation must be valid, along with justified events. It is important to NOT create an Antagonist who merely exists in your story to obstruct the Protagonist – the result is a shallow and stereotypical character.

Stay tuned. Over the next few days, we will look at the other types of Characters.

Until next time,

~Mustang Patty~

Creating a Strong Protagonist

Over the next few posts, we will examine the importance of building the characters who will carry your novel’s storyline. (Short stories may not have all these characters due to the length and focus of the storyline.)

There are FOUR-character types, (the Protagonist, the Antagonist, the Love Interest, and Other Characters) who will populate the place you create in your novel. But today, we will start by looking at the goals of the Protagonist.

The main character of your novel is the Protagonist. It is this character who drives your plot. Their story goal is to find a solution to a problem posed at the beginning of the book. (Without a problem, there is NO story.)

So, how do you go about making your Protagonist shine like the STAR they are?

Incorporating the following key points into building your Protagonist will help your readers remember your Protagonist AND your novel.

  1. All novels must have a Protagonist. Without them, the storyline feels like a movie without a star. With this central character, the readers MUST empathize with and therefore keep the reader turning the page.
  1. When setting the scene for the novel, the Protagonist’s role expands. Writers need to use this character to build the scenery around. Additionally, the storyline’s viewpoint is usually told from the Protagonist’s perspective (but not always.)
  1. All of us are flawed. So are protagonists. Writing the ‘perfect’ person without any character flaws will create someone with who most readers will not empathize. Your Protagonist needs to act or react to some sort of problem, and perfect people rarely face issues. The Antagonist (we will discuss them later) usually creates the problem while will define your Protagonist. (Without an adversary for your main character, there is little reason behind the storyline of a novel.)
  1. Your Protagonist is usually likable because most readers won’t want to read a novel about someone they despise. Still, a skillful writer can also make the reader root for the Antagonist – it does happen.
  1. And while the Protagonist is the STAR of the story, just like any good movie, the novel will also need some supporting roles. The Antagonist causes stumbling blocks and walls. A Confidant acts as a friend who is there as support. There should be some sort of romantic involvement to further complicate life. And lastly, other characters will make shorter appearances in the novel. These characters can be unforgettable, but they cannot steal the show.

Stay tuned. Over the next few days, we will look at the other three types of Characters.

Until next time,

~Mustang Patty~

Time Management

One of the hardest things facing writers is Time Management. Many writers deal with juggling full-time jobs, children, and other distractions along with their writing life. Even those who are lucky enough to consider themselves full-time writers deal with the upheavals of everyday life and other things competing with writing time.

So, how do you manage it all?

You must be selfish and focused for a period during your day.

Whether you have dedicated one or two hours or even thirty minutes a day to writing – you need to concentrate on writing for that time.

What does this mean?

DO NOT sit down and open your browser and go to Facebook or other online distractions. DO NOT have your favorite snack on hand. DO NOT dwell on other ideas.

How do you do this?

Use the time slot you’ve taken out of your day to simply write. Eliminate any distractions and whether you use paper and pen, or computer, sit down and write.

Some of you may be reading this and saying, ‘But what about writers’ block?’

The best way to break the block is to write. Put your mind on the pen or computer keys and begin to note what is in your brain. Suddenly, your story will come back into focus. You will write first one sentence, and then another, and eventually, you will have a paragraph.

It won’t be perfect, and it may not even be in complete sentences. It may be a scene for a different part of the story than you thought you were at – it doesn’t matter. Find where it does fit into your very rough draft and rejoice!

Time management is something we all learned in our early school years. Remember when your Kindergarten teacher said, ‘Okay class. Put away your coloring, we’re going to go into the Reading Corner now.’

These are the beginnings of time management. There’s a certain period in each day for any given activity.

So, put away your coloring, and WRITE.

(By the way, this method will work for any other task you may have on your ‘To-do List.’)

Until next time,

~Mustang Patty~

The Three Things Readers want from Writers

Have you ever started to write a story or even a novel, and as you begin, you wonder what will make your story stand out? What is it that readers are looking for that will keep them turning the page?

Readers are looking for a) Entertainment, b) Challenge, and c) Surprise. But how can you give this to them as a writer?

Think about the writers you admire. What is it about their stories that keeps you coming back for more?

  1. What entertains you?
  2. What challenges you? Or maybe tests your own belief system?
  3. What surprises you? Could it be a character that you wouldn’t like in real life, but in a book, you find yourself cheering them on? Or is it the things that come out of your young children’s mouths? (My own children made me laugh and surprised me almost every day – well into their teens.)

So, what is it that a writer must do to keep their writers coming back?

  1. Be a “jester”
  2. Be a “priest”
  3. Be a “magician”

Which type of writer do you want to be? Maybe you can be all three – just make sure your story invites all three things – the entertainer, and the philosopher, and the person who reveals things in a magical way.

The “jester” entertains the reader.  If your hero does something crazy, you get them laughing—it’s a great way to get the audience to like him. It doesn’t have to be slapstick or stand-up. It can be poetry, it can be soul stuff—but it must be loose, daring, unusual.

The “priest” challenges the reader. You write to give your characters viewpoint, to drag your audience into a new world. This is often called theme, but that’s not a strong enough gut word. It’s not subversive enough. Challenge is about shaking the tree, rattling the value systems out there. Make people think twice—about religion, art, politics, commerce, sex, money.

The “magician” surprises them. Blindside the audience. Give them that jack-in-the-box moment of truth—and deliver the punch at the same time it occurs to your hero. People hate to spot the clichés or see a plot twist coming. It doesn’t have to be the knife-behind-the-curtain moment, it can be as subtle as sleight-of-hand.

Challenge yourself to incorporate all three of these things into your story. Then you will have given your readers what they want.

But, remember: Always write in your own voice.

Until next time,

~Mustang Patty~

Good Advice from Louis Sachar

Louis Sachar is an American author of children’s books. He was born on 20 March 1954. (This information comes from his website, and I think it is sound advice for authors wishing to write children’s books.)

After graduating from law school, Sachar practiced law part-time while writing children’s books. In 1989, he became a full-time writer.

He is the author of Holes which won the 1998 U.S. National Book Award for Young People’s Literature and the 1999 Newbery Medal for its most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.

He is also the author of both the Sideways Stories From a Wayside School and the Marvin Redpost series. His latest book is Wayside School Beneath the Cloud of Doom.

In 2003, the Disney film adaptation of Holes was released. (Sachar wrote the screenplay.) In 2005, the Wayside School series was adapted into a special. In 2007, it became a TV show.

He likes to play bridge in his spare time.

Louis Sachar’s tips on writing:

1.    Start With Little Ideas: ‘I usually begin a novel with just a little idea, perhaps no more than a character trait. That idea will lead to another until it snowballs into a full-blown story.’

2.    Be Prepared To Write Several Drafts: ‘Since I do not plan or outline beforehand, I normally don’t know what’s going to happen next. I go through several drafts. The first draft is very unorganised, often with ideas at the end that are inconsistent with those at the beginning. In the second draft, I organize it better because I now have a pretty firm grasp of who the characters are and what is going to happen to them. By the time I get to the last rewrite (which may be the fifth or sixth pass), I try to convince myself that the story is all true, and that I am simply telling it, not making it up.’

3.    The Useless Days Will Be Worth It. ‘With each draft, the story changes and the ideas are transformed. I may initially have a real clear vision for different parts of a book. I know how I’m going to handle this problem. I know what I’m going to do here. And then I kind of get lost. What amazes me is that most days feel useless. I don’t seem to accomplish anything—just a few pages, most of which don’t seem very good. Yet, when I put all those wasted days together, I somehow end up with a book of which I’m very proud. Somehow I’ve now written eighteen books. I’m always amazed when I finish a book and realise, hey, this actually is what I set out to do.’

4.    Learn From Your Favourite Authors: ‘I think as a child, my favourite author was E. B. White (Stuart Little, Charlotte’s Web). I think he was a big influence on the way I write. But most of my favourite writers who influenced me are those I read in high school. Those include J. D. Salinger, Kurt Vannoget, William Saroyan, and E. L. Doctorow.’

5.    Find Resources For Names: ‘Names are always a little difficult. Right before my daughter was born, my wife and I got a book called 10,000 Baby Names, and I still look through that book when I look for names.’

6.    Get In Touch With Your Inner Child: ‘Many of my ideas come from what I remember doing, feeling, and thinking as a child.’

7.    Write. Don’t Talk About Writing: ‘I never talk about a book until I’m finished writing it. And I like to be alone when I write. It took me a year and a half to write Holes, and nobody knew anything about it, not even my wife or my daughter. I think that is helpful for writing, as well as for anything else that takes a lot of self-motivation. The more you talk about something, the less you tend to do it.’

8.    Write Entertaining Books: ‘But mainly my books are written to make reading enjoyable. That’s my first goal with all my books, to make reading fun. I want kids to think that reading can be just as much fun, or more so, than TV or video games or whatever else they do. I think any other kind of message or moral that I might teach is secondary to first just enjoying the book.’

9.    Write Children’s Books With Care: ‘I don’t really believe that writing for children is very different from writing for adults. What makes good children’s books is putting the same care and effort into them as I would if I were writing for adults.’

I hope these suggestions from Mr. Sachar will help you in your own writing. I feel that they are applicable to both writing for adults and children.

Until next time,

~Mustang Patty~

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