Looking for creative writing tips? Exercises? Resources? Prompts? Grammar advice?
Melissa Donovan, today’s Seven Questions subject, is the founder and editor of Writing Forward, an invaluable blog for anyone looking for information about the craft.
Melissa, a website designer and copywriter, launched Writing Forward four years ago, and has turned it into a one-stop resource for creative writers. She offers a refreshing mix of mechanics and inspiration. Melissa’s informative posts feature an impressive range of subjects, including punctuation, fiction exercises, journal writing and poetry prompts. Even better, her blog is super organized, so writers can find exactly what they’re looking for with a click or two.
Thanks for joining us today, Melissa!
1. Tell us about Writing Forward. When and why did you launch the blog? What makes it different from other online writing resources?
I launched Writing Forward in 2007. Originally, the blog was meant to support and promote my copywriting services by showcasing my writing skills and knowledge so that clients would be more likely to hire me. I quickly discovered that copywriting clients weren’t interested in articles about writing, but other writers were. So, I separated Writing Forward from my business blog.
Writing Forward focuses on the creative writing process. The site is packed with writing tips, techniques, and exercises. My goal is to provide readers with timeless advice on the craft of writing and to act as an advocate for writers.
2. What are some of the steps you’ve taken to make Writing Forward such an invaluable reference for creative writers? Has offering focused, high-quality content been the biggest key to your success?
I hope so! I look for problems that I’ve had in my own writing journey—problems that I’ve been able to solve. Then, I share what I’ve learned with my readers. One of my top priorities with the site is to create and maintain a positive and supportive environment for writers. I want to be an advocate for writers of every age and skill level.
3. How long did it take you to build the strong community you have created around Writing Forward? A lot of my readers are bloggers, and I’d love it if you’d share some advice about growing readership and attracting loyal followers.
Most of it has been organic. I’ve been at it for four years. I think by merely sticking with it, over time, the site has developed a following. I write for a specific audience (creative writers). I also use various marketing tools, such as social media, to promote the blog.
4. Melissa, you blog and guest blog. You help other writers with editing and manuscript services. And you write creatively. Do you have a schedule for when you work on different pieces of your career? Any advice for writers who just can’t seem to find enough time in the day to work on one project, let alone multiple commitments?
I actually make my living as a web designer and copywriter. My business website is Scribizzy.com. I don’t have a permanent schedule, but I do work out weekly schedules for my business-related projects. Like most other writers, I work on my own projects (currently a nonfiction book on writing) during my free time.
My advice to writers who can’t find enough time for their writing would be to think about how writing is prioritized in their daily routines. If you make writing a priority, you will make time to write. It’s really that simple. For a lot of people, that means giving up something else, like TV, social activities, and other hobbies.
5. Has maintaining an informative, writing-focused blog affected your own creative writing? I’m especially curious about whether you’ve seen your own work change as you’ve compiled tips, prompts and advice for other writers.
Yes, my writing has improved drastically since I first started blogging. When I launched the blog, I knew that I had to step it up in terms of professionalism. I bought a copy of The Chicago Manual of Style and started looking up any style or grammar issue that arose in my writing, no matter how minor. Once I launched the blog, I felt a responsibility to my readers. When I made my work public, I became a lot more diligent about it.
6. You wrote your first novel, WOLVES AT THE DOOR, in 2008 as a NaNoWriMo participant. What’s it about?
WOLVES AT THE DOOR is still a very raw, rough draft. Back then, NaNoWriMo rules stated that you couldn’t have a plot planned in advance. So, I jumped in with three characters and a setting (a farm) and I just wrote. It was an amazing experience. I was surprised to find that a plot actually emerged through the process of discovery writing. I ended up with a speculative YA novel, which is about how we communicate with each other.
7. What creative projects are you working on now—another book, your professional writing services or all of the above?
My main project outside of work is a book of writing exercises for Writing Forward. I’m also tinkering with some ideas for a science fiction trilogy, but that project is in the early stages. I’m doing a lot of world building and character sketches. I’ve only written a small amount of narrative. It’s a lot of fun but it’s also challenging.
Laura, thanks so much for inviting me to your blog to participate in your seven questions interview series. It’s been a pleasure.
Thanks so much for participating in Seven Questions, Melissa! For more information about Melissa, or to enjoy some of her fantastic exercises and writing tips, head over to www.writingforward.com.