Instruction Archives - Ryan M. Williams

Category Archives for Instruction

Writing Prompts

Weird Weekly Writing Prompts

Welcome! I've written some of my favorite stories with simple writing prompts that have encouraged my imagination to come up with things I probably wouldn't have come up with otherwise. Check back each week for new writing prompts, or sign up for Readinary to receive my weekly emails and get the prompts in your inbox along with my latest posts. I've also set up a simple submission page you can use to suggest writing prompts.

Latest Writing Prompt

Write about your doppelganger, what makes them different from you?

Prompt courtesy Ryan M. Williams, author of Invasion of the Book Snatchers.

Invasion of the Book Snatchers

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Python

Using Python to Generate Story or Novel Titles

Writing doesn’t require learning to code. But you can have fun, save time, and improve creativity by learning at least some coding. Even something as simple as creating a word count tracker can help with productivity. Picking up knowledge around HTML and CSS can help writers with websites. Discovering languages like JavaScript or Python unlocks potential for many other options.

I faced this recently with a problem I faced around titles for novels in a series. Don’t worry if you haven’t coded anything before—this is a short example of using Python to generate a list of possible titles for my books. The techniques used can apply to any programming language—or even to doing it entirely by hand.

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Novlr

Introducing Your New Writing Tool – Novlr

I’ve been known to bounce around trying out different writing software. I’ve tried a range of programs including Microsoft Word, Scrivener, StoryBox, yWriter, Omniwriter, Write or Die, Wattpad, Evernote, and many others. Years ago, using Palm OS-based PDAs, I particularly liked WordSmith. I haven’t found the perfect program yet. I currently use Scrivener and Word for many projects. Right now I’m also using Novlr for writing my first drafts.

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Punctuate This

Punctuate This | Writing Exercise

I got this writing exercise from one of my mentors, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, at a workshop I did a few years back. I found it very instructive. It's simple to explain, and much harder to do.

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Kindle Ads

How to Get Started With Kindle Ads

It's possible to get started with Kindle ads on Amazon in only a few minutes without breaking the bank. In this post, I'll share a quick look at ads and recommend a book (I'm a librarian, I can't help it) if you want to go deeper.

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Creating Graphs Dashboard

Creating Graphs for Word Count Tracking

Creating graphs is one way to visualize your writing progress. It can provide quick insights, particularly over time as you record more information about your word counts in your spreadsheet. If you're unfamiliar with using Excel, you may want to start with the previous posts in this series, starting with the benefits of writing streaks, demystifying spreadsheets, improving the tracker, pivoting for more information, adding project details, and writing a formula to track streaks.

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Writing Streak Formula

How to Calculate a Writing Streak in Excel

I talked about writing streaks at the beginning of this series, then went on to describe how to set up a basic word count tracking spreadsheet, added improvements to the spreadsheet, created a pivot table summary, and expanded the spreadsheet with project details. In this post, I calculate a writing streak in the word count tracking spreadsheet. I'll walk you through each step of creating the formula necessary.

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Project Details

How to Add Project Details to the Word Count Tracker

I started this series on creating a word count tracking spreadsheet by talking about the benefits of writing streaks, how to set up a basic spreadsheet, added enhancements, and created a pivot table summary. If you haven't read those posts you may want to go back and take a look unless you're already comfortable with Excel. As a next step, we'll add project details in this post, which gives us additional information about our writing.

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Pivot Tables

Writers Pivot Tables Too, Further Word Tracking Enhancements

This series started by talking about streaks, went on to spreadsheet basics in creating a tracking spreadsheet, and then leveled up the spreadsheet with an Excel table. In this post, I'll show you how to use pivot tables for greater insights into your writing. Yes, writers pivot tables too—it's an easy way to discover different ways to look at your word counts.

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Word Count Spreadsheet

Improving Our Word Count Spreadsheet

In the last post, I went over the basics of creating a simple word count spreadsheet. If you're not familiar with spreadsheets, it's a good place to start. As simple as the spreadsheet is, it provides a foundation for other improvements. Recording the data is only the first step. With the improvements to the word count spreadsheet in this post, we'll start to see how it can be used to provide more information about our writing.

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