Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry X-Day, More King Fanboying, and Maybe I'm Just Lazy

I find trying to figure out which holiday exhortation to use for any particular audience incredibly annoying. Christmas? Holidays? Kwanzanukah? Grr... Happy holidays was supposed to solve the whole mess, but it feels impersonal and overly PC.


In an effort to live by Bob's rule (Don't just eat that hamburger, eat the HELL out of it!), I have decided to just wish everyone a Merry X-Day. I realize X-Day sounds vaguely like foreboding, maybe the day the mutant uprising kicks off, or the Mayan prophecies come true, or the UFOs descend from Mars to consume our Moms. This menacing cheerfulness is just a happy bonus. The vague part was really what I was after.

So Merry X-Day, everybody. May the cattle of your heart remain unmutilated, and your inner Earth shy from climate change. Also, I hope you get cool loot. Or your two front teeth. Or--if you're a thieving tooth fairy--a pair of pliers and somebody else's two front teeth.

I may have been reading too much of Chuck Wendig's blog. I'm only so-so on what he has to say, but the way he says it is f-ing hilarious. Only he would never abbreviate f-ing as f-ing. Other censored phrases he would never use likely include c-ck g-rgler, b--ver d-ck, -nal p-ssy h-le, and so on. So, fair warning there, but go check him out.

Moving on: I've made it about 1/4 of the way through 11/22/63 by Stephen King. Still loving it. Page-turning, can't-put-it-down loving it. Highly recommended. I find the treatment of time-travel--from a horror perspective rather than SF perspective--especially interesting. Also, man can this guy write. A lot can be learned here from how he structures his phrases.

I'm not gonna spend much more time on this, but it bears repeating--King's writing is Chunky. Long-short, florid-simple, occasional and effective use of tricks like repetition, just a wonderful variety, nice and chewy. I'm going to be spending time rereading this book in analytical mode when I 'm done reading it for fun.

Final stop on today's choo-choo of fun: I have written almost nothing this week. A couple of poems, which I consider fun-but-not-really-productive. IE, good luck selling those, you bozo. I keep a daily log, and I've mostly kept up with that this week. My writing calender (what I use in place of something modern like a spreadsheet) is a long row of zeros.

Part of my excuse is that I've been sick, as has the rest of my family. Also, NaNoWriMo burnout should be good for some slack. Still. I may have to face the fact that I am just lazy. Which is No Good.

A successful writing career (the goal of this whole exercise--IE, not working a shitty day job for the rest of my life) requires working my ass off. Not lounging it off. So I am going to have to do something about that.

My goal for next year involves doubling my wordcount from this year, what I'm calling the “Beat Michael Stackpole’s 2011 Wordcount Challenge” (or BMS2W Challenge, which sounds like a German car), which I announced in the comments section of this blog post, because I got the minerals. So now the only question is whether the threat of public humiliation can overcome my natural inertia, AKA the laziness of a depressed cat on Valium.

We'll see.

And I'll see you next week, likely early again (because of Pounding-hangover-I-did-what-to-the-dog? Day--termed New Year's Day in more civilized places.)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Wind Beneath My Whine, Also Stephen King and 11/22/63

I am not entirely sure what that title means just yet, but I suspect we're going to find out.

Before I get to the self-critical moaning: congratulations are in order. For me I mean. Goofball. I finished my MS! Yippee-dippee woodlee-hoo! I am a Real Writer now, right?

Granted--and we've talked about this--it's just a zero draft. It needs some heavy edits before it's ready to be seen by anyone, and I'm sure it will want more after that. But still...

But still...

I finished a novel. I am so absolutely, ravingly, ridiculously proud of myself. More importantly, now that I have proven to myself that I am, in fact, capable of writing an entire novel, I can get started on the next one. But maybe not this month.

My current idea is to do at least two NaNo's next year, maybe three or four. Okay, I really want to do four. But I don't want to set my goals unrealistically high. If I do one in March, then Camp Nano in July, Then regular NaNo, that might work out pretty well.

My writing schedule has still been pretty slack this week, but I did manage to turn out the last chunk of the MS, most of a new short, plus a poem. Yep, first poetry I've written in nearly ten years. No idea why I haven't had anything to say in that form, but I haven't. Until now.

Still not up and running on all cylinders, but at least I'm sitting in the chair again. Which is the most important thing--apply butt to chair is all a writer really needs by way of advice on writing.

I have also been doing some reading, Stephen King's 11/22/63. I'm not far into it, so I'm not ready to make any pronouncements about the plot. But the writing is absolutely gorgeous. Not in a flowery way, or overly descriptive or ornate way. In a chunky way.

One of the flaws in my own writing is a tendency to repeat too few of the same sentence structures too many times. King's prose ducks and weaves, tending toward the long-winded but keeping things interesting by constantly breaking things up, doing things differently. I'm really digging it.

My name for it--Chunky Writing. Like peanut butter. I want my writing to be Chunky Writing.

So yeah. I've gotten to a point in my own writing where I'm definitely seeing a need to increase my awareness of grammar and punctuation, so I can vary my phrasing more. I want my Writing to show off and enhance my Storytelling, propelling it forward rather than holding it back. Which maybe isn't exactly a job for peanut butter, but whatever. Work with me here.

This new focus/area to improve/awareness can now go on the To Do pile, along with more writing by voice recorder, self epubbing weekly, writing new short fiction, and on and on and on.

If finishing my first MS is the Wind, that last paragraph, folks, is the Whine. Each depends on the other. I need accomplishments and success to keep up my pace, and I need a frenetic pace with high expectations to get anything done.

Speaking of which, I need to get back to work. So thanks for reading, and I'll see you next week.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

I Have Been a Very Bad Boy


Apparently my ability to complete a novel is far weaker than my ability to write most of one. My Challenge this week was simple--finish my NaNo novel by writing the last four chapters. I failed miserably.

Okay, not miserably. But not good, either. I managed to get my butt in the chair and actually write only one day this week. Which makes a grand total of two days I have written since NaNo.

Sad, huh?

I take solace in the fact that I'm getting lots of other things done, like playing The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. And reading (in a nice, hot, bubbly tub.) I also changed a flat on the side of the freeway, got new tires, disposed of the old tires, and put away the air compressor I've had to use every other morning for the last few months.

I've come up with an equation for this: Exhaustion + Life Roll = NoNoWriMo.

So, yeah. Time spent on non-writing has been really nice, but. But, but, but. I would have been far better served to have kept going as if NaNo wasn't done, rather than taking the small break that turned into a longish break.

On the other hand, I got two chunks done. which means I'm only two from the end. Assuming those two chunks tare enough to tie everything together, of course. I think so, but...

This brings up another point. Since this is my first novel, this is my first novel ending. I'm not real sure how this whole ending a novel thing is supposed to go. I wonder if perhaps I'm delaying the inevitable, out of either fear or attachment?

Anyhoo, I need to finish, and soon. I already know the rest of the story. The chunks are outlined. This is a four-to-six hour job now. No reason not to be done by mid-week.

--cue theme to Rocky--

The real kicker is all the stuff I want to be getting done that's on hold until I finish this MS. Which brings up the rest of today's post--future challenges.

I've already starting working on writing short stories by voice recorder. I have a well developed idea, and one story started already. My goal is to complete one short a week, in addition to reinstating the Day Off Story Challenge. I'm going to bundle all these together into one challenge--The Two A Week Story Challenge, AKA 100 in 2012 (cutting myself a little slack, in order to have a nice round number.)

Yep, I'm not actually starting until 2012. Gotta finish that MS, you know. The 100 in 2012 challenge will ensure that I write at least  200k or so. I also want to write a few more novels. Hopefully I can hit somewhere between 360k and 720k for the year (between 1k and 2k a day, or 3k a day during the week and weekends off.)

I am still considering how the self-epub challenge will run, but I'm definitely getting started on some version of that as soon as this MS is finished. Short stories and collections, at least one a week, are the basic plan. More TBA, as was the case last week.

Final thoughts--everyone needs a break sometime, failure is just another excuse to try harder, appreciate every accomplishment, and the only way to lose is to quit.

See you next week.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Easy-Does-It vs Middle-of-the-Road vs Oversetting

Today's post is a binary post. As in, there are two kinds of X: Y and Z. Since this is also a beginning writer's blog, I am naturally going to tell you which of the two kinds of X works for me.

But first you might want to know what, exactly, X--and thus our subject--is, hrmm? You might also wonder why I'm being so obtuse, and rightly so. The answer to that question comes later.

Today's post is about goals and goal-setting. Humans naturally set goals; every time someone decides to do something, they've set a goal. Generally, these short-term goals are easy, or at least not too difficult. Writer's example: I'm going to sit down and write for a while (an hour, 1k words, a page, a chapter.)

When we set clusters of medium-to-long-term goals (termed a Challenge), we get into more difficult territory. This sort of goal-setting  requires more determination, discipline, and effort. Writer's example: I'm going to write 1k words a day (a short story every week, 4 novels this year, win NaNoWriMo.)

Challenges are a great way to get your butt in gear, by giving yourself a concrete set of attainable goals to work towards. The best Challenges also have the added benefit of having a plan-of-action built in. "Become a better writer" is a difficult to measure, and thus "win", goal. "Write a short story every week" is clear and measurable.

Different personalities do better with different forms of motivation. Some people might do best by setting their goals low (easy-does-it.) This ensures that they succeed, helping to build confidence. I like to set my goals at the highest level I think I can achieve, but not unrealistically out of reach--a middle-of-the-road approach. I know others who set their goals ridiculously high, knowing they won't make them, but also knowing they won't accomplish anything if they don't "overset."

Yes, I know I said all that binary stuff at the beginning. And here I went and gave three different kinds of goal-setting (trinary?). This is why I am a writer and not a mathematician.

Once you understand what kind of goal-setter you are, you can tailor your Challenges to what suits your personality best. The important thing is that you are setting Challenges. Writing is like exercising; your writing muscle needs to be worked out, not just maintained. And especially not allowed to atrophy.

Personal updates and lessons learned this week:

Writing my NaNo novel has taught me that I can create suspense and plot hooks by leaving little mysteries in my writing, to be explained later. Even if the explanation is something innocuous, holding a little back for later helps maintain interest. And sometimes, silly little mysteries morph into major plot points, because I gave myself something to work with early on.

I still haven't finished my MS. I know the gist of the rest of the story, and only have a few chunks left to write, but life (and burnout) has been getting in the way. Which is a shame because I am so looking forward to celebrating my first completed MS (first completed zero-draft, to be clear.) I will be done by next Sunday, I am sure.

In fact, small challenge--Micro-NaNo. Or NaNoFiWe (National Novel Finishing Week.) I will finish my MS (at least 4 chunks and 8k) by next Sunday.

Coming up: Once NaNoFiWe is done, I plan on starting a regular self-epub challenge, details TBA, as well as starting a write-by-voice-recorder daily challenge (for short stories.) Finally, I plan on re-outlining my zero-draft, in preparation for rewrites to make the MS a coherent, readable story.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

NaNoWriMo Foursies and Looking Ahead

This blog post is all about what many believe is the hardest part of NaNoWriMo (hereafter NaNo)--the dreaded fourth week, when nearly a month's worth of frantic scribbling, missed sleep, and fraying nerves combine to wreck many an author's progress.

Nah, just playing. If you made it past week three you're probably over the mid-novel hump and headed into the homestretch. It only gets easier from here on out. You've tuned up your engine to a steady rumble, the words are flowing, and all your worries are over.

So, without further delay, first things first--I really, really hope everyone's NaNo is going as well as mine. I am currently around 57k, and over 2/3rds of the way through my MS. I have already won, according to the official goal of NaNo (50k.) I should hit my personal par of 60k in 2 more days, ahead of schedule. Finishing my MS will likely take another week or so, so I am a little behind there. I blame this on the three extra chunks I've added.

I am extremely excited to have made it this far, and also very proud of myself for the official win. Less than a month ago writing a novel, of any length or quality, seemed like a monumental task. Now it just seems like another thing I can do if i put my nose to the grindstone. This new self-confidence will serve me well when I start the next MS. Yep, you heard me right. This is just the first of many books I hope to write.

All of this goes to Goals and Intentions, which is one of the things I want to highlight today. As the actual writing has gotten easier, I have had more mind-space available to figure out where to go next. My original intent for this NaNo, which I wasn't at all sure I could accomplish, was to finish a novel-length MS, no more and no less. I will have done this very soon, I am absolutely confident of that now. So what am I going to do with the MS, and what am I going to do next?

I am not sure if the MS is good enough to be worth going back and editing into a coherent first draft (this is a zero draft, remember.) Even so, I will likely go ahead and do that anyway, for practice if nothing else. I've learned a huge amount about story-telling and structure from this process, I intend to apply that to my next MS by doing a much more in depth outline beforehand. In the interest of practice, once again, I plan on going back and drafting an outline of the current MS, as well as every kind of story analysis I can think of.

Basically, I want to use this work as a springboard to a better understanding of noveling as a whole. It took me several short stories to even begin to be happy with my short story skills, I don't see any reason that novel writing should take any less effort.

Last week I said that 2k a day was burning me out, and i didn't think it was sustainable. I've reversed my opinion on this. In short, practice may not have made perfect, but it sure has made easier. I've also seen the quality of my writing improve, becoming much closer to finished quality. The latter portions of this MS will require less editing than the beginning chunks.

All of this is great, because I intend to be a fast, prolific writer, as well as a good one (no modesty there, huh?) The only way to write both fast and well is to practice writing both fast and well. Not that I'm there yet, but I hope to get there.

It's amazing what you can accomplish when you sit in a chair and stare at a computer screen for hours a day, refusing to get up until you finish your wordcount.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

NaNoWriMo Part the Third

Week three of NaNoWriMo (hereafter NaNo) is drawing to a close. Like the last two weeks, I want to talk about how the experience has been for me. Particularly the lessons I've learned, what has worked and what hasn't. As always, my hope is to provide some encouragement, as well as a sense of solidarity. We're all in this together!

First things first. I am currently at 44.6K. about 2K of that is because of the Double Day I took back in week one. The rest is from doing my best to go over par every day, plus words I've added to each chunk as I've reread them. So I am only a few days from winning NaNo by the official count of 50k. I should win by my par of 60k a few days early, too.

I generally read the last two chunks before I start writing, just to get my head back in the story. I try not to do any actually editing (rewriting for clarity or style), just get a sense of the story's flow. I've noticed that I am spending more time pulling up old chunks to recall what happened earlier, in the dim past of weeks one and two.

I've also noticed that my characters have changed, sometimes radically, from my original conceptions. When I go back and rewrite, I will have to do more than just fix awkward sentences. Since I intend to add a lot more to each section of each chunk (chunklets?) this shouldn't prove to be much of a hassle.

My original outline was really sketchy, intentionally so. I wanted some kind of arc, plus enough idea kickstarters to maintain momentum all the way to the end of the book. Much of what I wrote in that outline early on I am reinterpreting now, and some of it I'm just ignoring. Hopefully I'll do a more complete outline (as well as prep work in general) on the next novel.

Not being organized is OK for this draft, though. The main intention here is to finish a novel, period. Learning exactly what goes into a novel is a strong secondary goal, and that knowledge will help me with the next book. I am going to go back and do a synopsis and a detailed outline when this story is done, so I have a clear idea of my novel's structure.

I've learned a lot from what I've written so far. The rate of "figuring things out" seems to be accelerating each day, more like a curve than regular growth. My chunklets are getting longer and easier to write, although the chunks themselves are generally still just a little over par.

If I had it to do over again, I would have organized by chunklets rather than chunks. I would have saved each one as a clearly labeled (like an outline summary) and numbered individual file. I also will make a new outline as I write next time, so I can use that for story structure reference more easily.

Even so, the chunk system has worked really well, both to motivate me and to keep me from having to wade through a really long .doc every day before starting to produce.

The mindset I detailed above, of focusing on finishing rather than quality, has been key. The zero draft, or what I'm now referring to as the Less-Than-Zero draft, has kept me writing when I would have quit out of disgust at my storytelling skills. But a writer learns by writing. So keeping at it is not only giving me a complete draft, its teaching me how to write the next one better.

And that's what it's all about. As a writer, and especially as a beginner, I have to be focused on the next story, not the last one. Looking ahead is what will get me past the first million words and into the good stuff.

As far as what hasn't worked (and still isn't), my biggest problem right now is sleep deprivation. Between work and home, there just isn't enough time to write for me to hit my pars without me sacrificing some sleep. Over the short term (NaNo) this is doable, but over the long term I am going to have to scale back my pars. 2k a day every day is not sustainable for me, especially because it leaves no time for editing or epubbing. In other words, I'm borrowing from next month to pay for this month.

The hardest part of my day is sitting down in front of a blank page. my outline is so unrefined that I am spending a lot of writing time just figuring out what happens next. I adressed this above. Next time i want a far more detailed and clear outline. I believe I will be able to write faster and a higher quality prose with a better map.

Finally, surfing the Internet kills my writing time. Twitter, I'm especially looking at you. But everyone already knows that, right?

So that's what I've got for this week. Overall things are going well, better than I expected even. I hope your NaNo is just as awesome. Heck, I hope your NaNo is even awesomer. <--zero draft style grammar.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

NaNoWriMo Part Deux

My NaNoWriMo (hereafter NaNo) is going absolutely freaking fantastic. I am pleased as punch at how well I'm doing, which is far better than I expected. Today I want to give an update on where I'm at in my MS, in the hopes of encouraging all my fellow participants, as well as discuss some things I've been doing that I believe are key to my success.

First of all, me:

I am at over 28k, less than two weeks in! In terms of my structure, I am actually one "chunk" behind, because I had a numbering snafu plus inserted an extra one for plot reasons. Which begs the question: what's a chunk? See below :)

In terms of my par (60k at 2k a day), I've only missed my par one day, which I made up on the following day. I've written a little extra every day, which has added up dramatically. Plus I took a double day instead of my usual day-off challenge last week. At this point, there is little doubt in my mind I am going to win by NaNo rules (50k). I'm fairly confident about hitting my goal of 60k, as well. I'm not as confident about actually finishing all 32 chunks by the 30th, but I feel certain I will finish them by at least a week into December. If I stay on the same course, I expect my finished zero draft to be about 75-80k, if not longer.

How am I getting so many words out?

1) Chunks - this is a phenomenally effective organizational method for me. A chunk is a daily wordcount-par-sized collection of segments, roughly analogous to a chapter. My chunks on this MS are 2-2.5k, most coming in around 2.2k. Some of those chunks have 5 or more sections, some have as little as three. Each section is a change in viewpoint character, new location, and so on, the same as I would organize a short story. When I am done with the full MS, I can go back and reorganize the sections into actual chapters, moving them if necessary.

What chunks do for me is they allow to think of my daily work in discrete, finite terms. Rather than writing until I drop, I write until I'm done. I never have to quit in the middle of a scene, I always know when I'm done for the day, and I'll have easy units to rearrange as needed when I'm done. At the beginning of my writing session, I read over the last few chunks, adding to them as needed, then dive into the newest chunk.

2) No editing/zero draft - These are two sides of the same coin. It is vital that I give myself permission to write absolute crap. In all ways: story, plotting, characters, phrasing, grammar. I do not give the slightest whiff of brimstone whether I am producing anything but a story. This allows me to turn off my inner critic and just go. If I come up with a nice turn of phrase, I include it. If my sentence is a rambling mess, as long as I understand it, I let it be and roll on.

The zero draft is the draft before a first draft, the one whose sole purpose is to get all the puzzle pieces out in the open so the writer can go back and reassemble them later. My only goal this NaNo is to finish a novel. No qualifiers, just finish. When I'm done, I expect to have to go back and rewrite much of the prose, flesh things out, and so on. That will be the first draft. But not yet. For now, the finish line is the most important thing.

3) Daily Plan - This is a brief pre-writing period where I look at the day's chunk, break it down into section, and detail the events of each section, briefly. The idea isn't a comprehensive outline, just a few sentence fragments for each section. For me, neither pure pantsing quickly becomes a snafu,  and heavy outlining bores me to tears. A daily plan provides enough direction to keep me from painting myself into a corner, and a quick reference for what happens next when I'm on a roll.

The most important thing about the daily plan is that it gets my mind oriented and aimed, like pulling back the rubber band on a slingshot. Then all I have to do is let go, and write.

4) Other - I take a brief break when I finish each section, noting my current wordcount and celebrating it (ie 1/3rd done=woo-hoo! and so on.) I often reward myself during these breaks with an article I want to read, or snackies, or whatever. I write every day, mostly mid-afternoon. If I miss making my wordcount early, I stay up after the rest of the house has gone to bed. Once I hit my wordcount, my priority for the rest of the day is anything but writing. I tweet every day when I hit my par, and post on NaNo, these trophies really help.

So that's some of the things that have worked for me. I'll have at least two more blogs while NaNo is running, and one post-NaNo wrap-up, as well, with more news, more of what works for me, and more encouragement. I'm very interested to see how the holidays (Thanksgiving weekend) affect my writing, and if I'll be able to keep up this pace for the rest of the month.

Until then, good luck, keep writing, and remember that the only way to lose is to quit.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

NaNoWriMo First Timer

So I'm knee-deep in my very first NaNoWriMo (hereafter NaNo) (or Na-Nooooo!), and I'm loving it. Every day so far has followed this basic template--my inner critic screams at me all morning, I have a blast writing for a few hours in the afternoon and feel great, my inner critic screams at me all night. The writing is probably the easiest part of my day.

Yeah, that inner critic is a butthole.

The novel that I am producing is now six chapters long, each chapter is about 2k words plus a little extra, and it will be a total of thirty chapters. So I will have between 60 and 70k when I'm done. I chose this structure specifically because I wanted to have a completed story at least 60k long. Having this clear and easy to follow plan has made the work much easier to process for me. I am not married to the structure, however, and will rearrange things at will once the story is done. If needed.

I will almost assuredly end up rewriting a lot of the clunk that crowds my MS right now. This is a zero draft, just a means to get the story worked out. Any decent writing that results is just a bonus. So far I am seeing a lot of room for additional descriptions and/or chunks of narrative summary that I will likely want to go back and turn into actual scenes. Or delete. Just saying.

My hope is to finish initial revisions by the end of December, at the latest. Then it will be time for beta readers, more revision (maybe) and so on. I say maybe to more revisions because it is entirely possible that I will abandon the work once it is whipped into half-decent shape. For a while, at least, while I work on the next one.

Why? Because my experiences with my first few short stories taught me that it will likely take a few novels (at least) to get to grips with the basics of long form story-telling. My very first short has been extensively revised three times, each one several months apart. It's now decent, not great but passable, but doesn't hold a candle to my later works (imho.) I have learned a huge amount about both writing and storytelling over the last half-year.

The biggest reason for this book, and for my participation in NaNo, is just to have a finished, novel-length MS. Just to prove to myself that I can do it, and to have enough experience to feel more confident going into my next one. Writers learn by writing. BIC HOK TAM, and all that.

Things learned so far:

Writing fast is easy if you don't worry about quality of words, just quality of story. Get the meat roasted, fix the trimmings later.

Double Days, like I had instead of my Day-Off Story Challenge, are great for getting a running start. I'm actually a day ahead on my quota because of that, and will likely finish my NaNo several days early.

It is difficult to write on weekends, with all the family distractions. I plan to up my weekly quota by a bit, just to take the edge off of weekends. Or something.

Biggest one--it is entirely possible to start with nearly nothing, and get at least to day seven of NaNo. I've proved that to myself. My initial outline is essentially 30 lines, one per chapter, bare bones and very skimpy, and my story idea entry in the Idea Bank is maybe 600 words. I've got the squiggliest of roadmaps and am just making it up as I go along. I'll let you know how that ultimately works out, but for now it's just fine. The only way out is through.

If anyone out there wants to be my NaNo buddy (assuming the adding system is up and running :), I'm silverbowen, same as on twitter.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Q: Are We Not Writers? A: We Are Storytellers!

I am going to whip NaNoWriMo. I'm going to pound it into little word-goo chunks, pulverize the chunks, set the resultant dust of fire, cackling gleefully all the while. I'm going to make NaNo my bitch; leash, collar, lotion in basket, and all. Hoo-ah.

Nothing like a little self-confidence pump-up to get the day started.

Halloween is tomorrow, I'm very excited, the little one is going as a certain priggish English train. I, of course, shall be a conductor. Because I already have overalls and a train hat, and I'm lazy. I was thinking of making a hat out of dollar bills and going as a banker, but it would need hundreds rather than ones to really be accurate. Not gonna happen.

Reached an all time record of 24 stories in submissions a few days ago. I think I'm getting close to a sale, my writing has improved and my storytelling has gotten much better. I also am on track to hit my goal of at least 100 rejections by the end of the year.

I finished a new novelette, kind of a magical SF romance call Furious Fusion Fist. There isn't a paying market for the story that i can see, so I will likely put it out myself. I have a few other stories that have made the rounds and not sold, so ditto for those. Maybe.

Other goals--write, edit and pub a short novel by the end of the year. NaNo  will take care of the writing, December will be for edits and pubbing. December will also be for pubbing FFF and whatever else I decide. I want to have a larger availability by X-mas, to try and catch some of the new readers that get devices as presents.

The Day-Off Short Story Challenge is suspended until after NaNo. I'll be busy enough, I think. I wrote a story on my last day off, though, I think it's number ten. So that challenge has been quite productive for me, much more so than my daily writing goals. Which, to be honest, I haven't been coming anywhere near hitting for at least a month.

I don't know if it's writer fatigue, or just slowing down and thinking more, or life getting in the way, but I definitely haven't been as productive lately. Word count wise, that is. I have done a lot of editing/rewriting on older stories lately. I hate to do it but they needed help. Probably not as productive as just writing new stuff that's better, but I like those stories and want them to be as good as they can be.

I feel a lot of (self-inflicted) pressure to be more productive, especially in long-form fiction, so I hope NaNo helps. I really, really need to  finish a novel. Then a few more. Short fiction is great for experimentation, for learning basic craft and for gaining confidence, but the market just isn't as big as for novels. It's bigger than it used to be, but still. Novels are where it's at.

Next week I'll give updates on my NaNo progress, and whatever else is going on.

Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

I Have No Time, and I Must Blog

The title is a riff on Harlan Ellison's classic story, of course. The story actually has nothing to do with this blog, but the title sure is spiffy. Bait and switch folks, bait and switch.

Down to business--I have been wracking my brains for a way to continue blogging without having to carve any time out of my increasingly overgrown wild-ass jungle of a schedule. But I think I have at last found a solution. But first, I want to illustrate more fully the problem.

I have learned a few things in the last six months of on-again, off-again blogging. Daily blogging is a lot of work and a big time sink when added up. Especially when, for the most part, people don't give a hoot anyway. People do seem to love technology and gadget reviews, which are my most popular (only popular) posts. The writing exploration stuff, not so much.

The blogs that I enjoy, and that are popular, tend to feature regular doses of useful information, some news, some analysis. So maybe emulating them, to the best of my limited resources, is the way to go. Makes sense, no?

The solution--I am going to try blogging once a week (with the option to do more when so moved) on Sunday mornings when I have a chunk of time I am currently using for web-surfing and general baby-tending. Content will stay the same, but subject to change if I find things that people show more interest in. Okay? Okay.

In a very small attempt to provide some sliver of content that is not completely about myself, I will note that I have been reading George R R Martin's A Dance With Dragons. I am greatly enjoying it (about 10% in), but am struck by how large a role food plays. Every other paragraph is a meal description of some sort. I really wish someone (else) would do a statistical analysis of how much of the book is actually food and food related words, and how much shorter it would be if those words were removed. would it be only nine hundred pages? Eight hundred? I wish I knew.

See you next week.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Quarterly report Numero Two

Quick update on how the writing "plan" is going.

Completed novels - None. Still not getting traction on long form fiction. I did make it into novella territory with one novel. I am going to do NaNoWriMo next month, with a goal of 2k a day. So maybe I will be close to finishing a novel for real in December.

Completed short stories - Basically about 24. A few of those are still in editing, but they are basically done. That is twice what I had finished last quarter, so I am doing a good job there, staying on track. I credit the day off story challenge for really helping with momentum. I have a number of partials as well, and a ton of idea bank treatments.

Other stuff - I have been voice recording less, mainly because I have been writing less overall. Yep, stopping the blog to have more time to write did nothing to help my production. Several days spent futzing with typewriters haven't helped. Also, I seem to be writing slower since Dillocon. More thought going into what I'm writing means a longer time to finish. I'm hoping I pick back up as I internalize all the stuff I've been learning. Nearly everything I'm writing is shorter now, too. Funny, that.

Sales - None. I just put a new cover on Tes-Nin to see if that helps get any sales, as well as bumping the price on Smashwords up to .99 cents. I have just shy of 100 free downloads in two months, so I am not really worried that I will be losing exposure. Whether I sell some now or not, the real deal is that I need to get more stuff up. But...

Submissions - I have sixteen stories in submissions now. Nearly everything I have that is finished and edited. Some of those stories are coming up on five or six rejections, so I am contemplating putting them up myself. If I can keep writing new stuff to sub, I will have to put the old stuff up, since I will already have something in with every market already.

Questions - I am not sure I'm not completely wasting my time subbing to paying markets instead of just putting my stories up myself. If I had a longer backlist or more time writing I wouldn't have to make that choice. I really need to get a better business plan going this quarter, x-mas is going to be huge for new ereader sales. Also, was I doing better just writing and pushing ahead? I've been doing a lot of revision lately, time which might be better spent on new stuff. Hopefully I will have more progress to report on at the end of next quarter.

Saturday, September 17, 2011


Okay, Armadillocon knocked my socks off. As did a series of personal and family challenges. That's kept me away from blogging, and hurt my writing output in general.

Also, two posts I did on the Coby Kyros are accounting for about 25% or more of my (meager) hits. Which is cool, but I'm not really trying to be a tech review blog.

To state things more bluntly--The "share things I'm learning as a new writer with other new writers" slant just isn't bringing in any interest. Even with short posts, daily blogging soaks up a fair amount of time. Time better spent on more writing.

I've only been at the daily post challenge a few months, granted. Maybe I haven't given it enough time? I tend to think it's more likely that I need to develop an audience through my fiction, first.

Either way, the current content just isn't working.

So, I will be doing some kind of blogging still, probably. But I don't think it will be the daily blabfest anymore. I haven't decided yet. Thanks for checking out these posts, either way.


Friday, August 26, 2011

Armadillocon 2011

Today is the day. While you are reading this, I am off at the yearly Armadillocon writer's workshop. Hopefully I am learning a lot of stuff, and really improving. Hopefully I'm not twiddling my thumbs and wishing I had saved my money. I'll let you know in a few days, one way or the other.

The road to the con was a bit twisty for me. I've been to a bunch of gaming conventions, back when I was a sproutling. This is the first writing (or professional, period) convention I've gone to, though. I'm really hoping to meet some new people and expand my circle of writing friends. So, if you go to the con, and you see me, do me a favor and introduce yourself.

I wanted to bring a voice recorder, and make some recordings of the panels I attended, maybe podcast them. My podcasting career has got off to a rocky start however, and you can check out my post on the voice recorder I bought and returned to see how that went. I do still have the ability to make recordings with my mp3 player, so maybe I'll try that.

I don't have much of a plan of attack. I'm not sure what the panels actually are, and I don't have any friends going, so I guess I'm just gonna wing it. No travel involved, I don't live far from downtown, and the con. This is one of the big reasons I am able to attend, actually. If there were travel costs involved, I wouldn't be be to go.

Anyway, I'll post some updates on the con and what's happening/happened there over the next few days, if I can. I may cut myself some slack and let the daily posting challenge slide, just for this weekend. We'll see. And see you there.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Mindspace - Why I Guard Mine Jealously

I am extremely careful with who an what I allow to influence my mindspace. For those of you that have no idea what that even means, let me offer some definitions.

Mindspace is the interior monologue and self-analytic function of my brain. It is the part of my persona that decides what I should be doing, how , and why. It is my internal orderly, my judge, jury and executor (no, not executioner, that would be morbid.)

When I allow other people to critique my work, whether writing or other arts, even reading reviews, I allow them to influence my mindspace. Bad critiques have the ability to throw my head out of whack, to put it bluntly.

This, in itself, isn't that huge of a problem. I have a strong ego, my equilibrium will right itself eventually. The problem is the hour, or day, or days, I spend obsessing over whatever it was. I lose time. Time better spent working on new ideas, or writing new words, or learning about epubbing. Spent on someone else's ideas instead.

For instance, I've gotten critiques that were fairly harshly worded. Not necessarily wrong, just not gentle enough for my fragile self. which lead to a day of turning the words over in my mind. Instead of a day working on my next story. The solution is to not expose myself to critiquing like that. I'm very, very picky about first readers now.

Which brings up the topic of Armadillocon. I'm attending this year, my first writing convention. I've done gaming cons before, back in the day, but never a learning focused one like this. I'm hoping to get a lot out of the weekend, as well as link up with some other Austin writers, expand my circle and all. I am leery about the actual writing workshop part, but hopefully it will be helpful and not, well, a poor guest in my mindspace.

More on Armadillocon tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Final Post on the Coby Kyros 7022 - Dead Touchscreen

Long story short - the touchscreen stopped working on my tablet tonight. Just quit, while I was in the middle of surfing. Resetting, restoring, even a factory wipe didn't help. This is a hardware issue, and from what I can gather, I'm not the only one whose had it.

I'm returning the tablet to Toys-R-Us tomorrow. I don't feel enough confidence in the product to risk an exchange for a new one, that might fritz out on me as well. It's a shame, because I did like it. But not enough to risk a $195 paperweight again.

So, my final weigh in on the Coby Kyros 7022 - if you want a 7 inch Android tablet, I suggest spending more on a better brand. It was easy to root, and functional while it lasted, but I just can't recommend the brand based on my experience.

The tablet was a birthday gift (bought with gift money, anyway), so now my challenge is figuring out what to get instead. I'm not sure I want to try another tablet. My luck with gadgets has been rather poor overall, lately.

Maybe it's time to get a desktop, for a dedicated writing station. We'll see. Funny that this happens so soon after the 3DS price drop.

I don't think I'll have any hassles at Toys-R-Us with a return, since it's defective. Although their return policy is known to suck. If I do have any problems, I'll make sure to post about it here.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Weekly Day-Off Story Challenge - Round Five (For Reals)

The fifth round of my weekly day-off story challenge has come and gone, and I have emerged victorious. It was a hard slog, though. Between not having written as much lately, and the two weeks I missed (not really missed, just postponed) due to funeral and exhaustion, I was a bit rusty.

In order to ameliorate that, I gave myself a little leeway. I used a story idea from the idea bank, rather than going completely from scratch. I also took time to craft the story in my head yesterday, and even recorded a short section (a loose version of the first scene, maybe 500 words.) My recording turned out like crap, mostly unusable. But having made it really helped solidify the story and structure in my head.

Even so, it took me from ten AM until five PM to write the story, and another hour snatched between then and eight PM to edit. All told, eight hours for a 3,300 word story. 400 words an hour is definitely not my best speed. On the bright side, it's the second longest, out of five. It's also a great story, if I do say so myself.

I had much more difficulty focusing than usual, distractions kept calling out to me. Also, I had to do a fair amount of research, for such a short piece. Mostly on bit details that were only relevant because I wanted them to be specific, and correct.

The story's title is "Stalking the Stalk". It's one of my weird/horror pieces, and features icky plant-like monsters vs. rednecks with guns. Sort of.

I'm at the point where I've got more stories written than places to submit, by a margin that is starting to feel uncomfortable. So stay tuned, these might start showing up here soon. Especially if I hear some interest.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Stealing a March (From a Legacy Agent)

The following is a comment I put on a blog called The Portfolio Javelin - followed by a reply, and my rebuttal. Such as it is. I thought my elegant prose worth preserving over here as well.
Many of the other replies posted by Wendy Keller feed into the myths about self-publishing digitally - the tsunami of crap, gatekeeper argument, books as produce, and so on that have been debunked endlessly by  Joe Konrath and Dean Wesley Smith. I highly recommend reading the whole article and all the comments, just to get a feel for both sides of the coin.
Silver Bowen August 5, 2011 at 9:10 pm
I just put up my very first –ever– ebook, a fantasy novelette. It took me about 6 hours, start to finish, and cost zero dollars. Unless you count the monthly fee I pay to my internet provider, in which case it cost approximately one dollar and ten cents. Granted, if it had been a full novel, it might have taken an hour longer to get the formatting done. In the interests of full disclosure, I’m also not counting the time I spent writing and editing. I did everything myself, of course. My own cover, content editing, copy editing, formatting, and conversion. I expect the process to be significantly smoother and faster next time, and the time after that, and so on. It wasn’t easy, but it certainly wasn’t incredibly time consuming. And it really doesn’t get cheaper than free. So, on at least two of the foundational points of this article, you couldn’t be more wrong if you tried. The fundamentals rules of publishing have changed, and changed so radically that many, including you, are apparently incapable of even grokking the changes.
Wendy Keller August 17, 2011 at 12:28 pm
Let’s see…hmmm… I checked out your 99 cent book on Amazon. Looks like you have no sales and no reviews at all. That’s success?
Silver Bowen August 18, 2011 at 9:56 pm
Wendy Keller, Maybe you missed that part at the very beginning of my comment where I mentioned that I just put the book out? As in it went live on Amazon a little more than a week ago? I didn’t expect much in the first month, or several for that matter. I have gotten 59 downloads on Smashwords so far, where the book is posted for free. Go me. The thing is, buzz out of the gate isn’t relevant in digital publishing. It’s nice, sure. Doesn’t hurt one bit. Sales are always a good thing. But ebooks are forever. Forever is a long time to find an audience. Being an independent publisher, even if I only publish me, is a new business for me. Business take time to establish and grow. Judging my success by the first two weeks is a little bit premature, financial or otherwise. For me, as a new author, success is having my work available to be read, with no compromises in control over content or rights. I wouldn’t be anywhere near that with a legacy publisher, or an agent. I would be depending on people other than the reader (my customer) to decide whether my work was fit to be read. Depending on employees and distributors to determine the fate of my product. No thanks (not without big bags of money involved, which isn’t going to happen.) But thanks for checking out my –first– book, anyway. Perhaps now you might address my actual points rather than engaging in ad hominem attacks on my credibility?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Growing Up In Public

No, last I checked, I still wasn't a child-star. I have to face facts - I may never be a child-star. But that's not what this post is about.

I just self-published my first story, a novelette called "Tes-Nin's Elbows". My friends and family all loved it, of course. The rest of the world has so far not seemed to care much one way or the other. It's only been two weeks, so that is expected.

The story was written, edited, and proofread by myself. My wife helped with some critiquing. I made the cover myself, did my own formating and uploading, and all that. This is, essentially, a terrible way to launch any book, and doubly so for my first one. What I should have done is hire an editor and proofer, pay someone to make a professional cover, and someone else to do a clean formatting. Oopsy.

Except I can't afford any of that. It was my way or the kiss-it-goodbye way. So I did what I had to, like we all do. I will likely do the exact same with the next several stories I publish. Hopefully I will learn more and more as I go along, and get better and better at this whole thing. Hopefully I won't get slammed to hard for whatever mistakes I made this time around. Hopefully folks will read the story, and like it, maybe I'll get lucky and people will even pirate it. You never know.

What I do know is this - I only have one path to a writing career that I can pull off, for a variety of reasons. That path is DIY self-publishing. I either succeed at that or fail entirely, or get super really quite incredibly lucky, I guess. So I am going to have to grow up in public, take the good criticism with the bad, learn from each story, and push ahead. It's the only shot I have, and I'm going to take it.

I'm willing to put my pride on the line to learn, to grow, as a writer and editor and artist and publisher and so on and on. What's the worst thing that could possibly happen? Nobody cares. That's why so many child-stars flame out. Because the world stops caring, stops paying attention.

So all I have to do is continue to "grow my platform" (I am), and keep writing and releasing (I definitely am.) Oh, and keep improving. I think I can manage that. I hope I can. That, and a little luck, will get you a writing career.

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Magic of Names

This is a rip-off of the "-ainus" scene in Gentlemen Broncos. Just so you know.

I have a couple of useful observations on ways to make names more interesting, or at least how to convey certain intangible elements of character through naming conventions. Okay, maybe not intangible. Definitely tangible.

The first part is the use of the suffix "worth". As in Guilesworth, or poundsworth, or professor Mortimus Schwagsworth. You get the idea. This suffix provides the maximum amount of tweedy English gentelmanliness, with a minimal amount of effort.

A second strategy, building on the first, is to append "worth" to a set of nonsense syllables. For example - Gillabba combined with worth is Gillabaworth. Or maybe Bomboonaworth, Flneebiworth, Chuzzleworth, and so on. These types of names a great for conveying a sense of tweedy English alien-ness. Or clown-ness, works either way.

Final notes - If you didn't know, Gentlemen Broncos is a comedy about a bestselling SF&F writer who steals an MS from a student and publishes it as his own. The antagonist is (loosely) based on David Farland, who I am fairly sure is not this weird. Gentlemen Broncos mostly felt like an inferior retread of Napoleon Dynamite. But, the writerly farce was wonderful. Highly recommended for genre writers, skip it for the rest of the world.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Still Not Buying a 3DS

For those of you that missed the recent news in the hand-held gaming space, Nintendo dropped the price of the 3DS by a whopping $80. This is old news at this point, but there you go.

I was blown away by the 3DS when Nintendo first showed it at E3 2010. I wanted one instantly, or sooner. Then, half a year later, Nintendo announced the price. My dreams died. $250 dollars for the console, and game prices were getting a hike to $40 each.

I would have been willing to spring for one at $200 or less, back then. I would have felt the pain, but I would have gone for it. After seeing the unit in person, and watching the lackluster launch line-up and half-baked support, even that price is too much, now.

But wait, you might say. It's now actually lower than $200. Surely $170 is a good price. Well, frankly, no. Not for me, anyway. I'm just not that impressed by the hardware. Even worse is the way it's locked down. Basically, the only things I can do with a 3DS are what Nintendo lets me do. And cartridges are still $40.

On the flip side, I just bought an Android tablet for about that same price. That tablet does tons of things, and has even more potential. No lock-downs. Games are anywhere from free to maybe $5 tops. Not as deep as the games on 3DS maybe, but certainly playable, and fun diversions.

But this isn't really about tablet (or phone) versus game console. It's really about computer versus game console. Even at the new, reduced price, the 3DS just doesn't do enough to justify its price tag. When you factor in how expensive the games are, it looks even less appealing.

And when you factor in the greatest depression since the great depression, everything looks overpriced. And my final factor, a personal one, and the nail in the coffin - I spend so much time writing these days that I don't even use any of the gaming systems I already own.

So, my final take - I miss the days when portable systems cost less than half what consoles did, when they were under a hundred dollars at launch, and when I could afford them. The 3DS isn't as cool as I thought it was, back around E3 2010. Maybe I'll get one in a few years, when they are around 130 and there is a decent library available.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Tes-Nin Two

It's amazing to me sometimes, how little encouragement it takes to get me going. I'm just one of those kind of people, I guess. Wind me up and watch me go.

The wind up, this time, was my brother's reaction to the first Hexes and Hammers story, Tes-Nin's Elbows. He loved it. Went ga-ga for it. Is dying for the next installment.

Okay, okay, bro. Stop twisting my arms. I'll write it. See how easy that is?

Actually, I already have another story set in that universe, although it doesn't involve Tes-Nin. It's more of an Orcish dental romance type thing. With lots of funny. I haven't had any luck selling it, so maybe that one will go up next.

I'm actually considering doing a book, when I have enough H and H material. About three Tes-Nin novelettes or novellas, plus that story (Out, De'moan!), plus maybe a follow up to that one. Or one of the other ideas I have floating around for that universe.

Anyway, I never intended Tes-Nin's Elbows to be anything more than what it is. But if I'm getting positive feedback, I'm prone to continuing in the same vein.

Other updates on that story - no Amazon sales yet. No reviews on Amazon or Smashwords. I did get a mention on twitter, so that's cool. The other good news is that it's been downloaded 56 times on Smashwords. It's free, so I'm not making anything off those downloads, but I mostly wanted to get it read.

Things I am hoping for - Reviews. This is the biggy. Good or bad, feedback is an essential part of this process. So hopefully that will happen soon. Also, sales, of course.

Okay, this is a fairly babbly post, so I'm gonna cut it here. Just thought it might be useful to some of you to know what my week two numbers, such as they are, look like.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Inertia AKA Momentum

I got an unexpected day off a few days ago. I considered doing Day Off Story Challenge round five. Instead, I slept all day. Really needed some rest, I guess.

I still did some writing. The last few days I've barely made it over a thousand words, which is under my goal of 1,250. Of course, before that I had several days of 0. Zilch, Zip, Nada. So I guess 1k is an improvement in comparison.

Today I churned out 1,600, a good amount. I did still feel like I was working slowly, at a reduced pace compared to where I was at a few weeks ago. I blame inertia. I really feel like I lost speed, like an athlete who skips practice for a few days.

This is one of the many reasons that daily output is essential. It takes me less time to write a minimum amount if I do it every day. Binge writing can put my monthly word-count up quickly, but if it costs me my daily goal, it is probably hurting me in the long run.

What I need to do is keep a steady, sane daily word count (thinking of reducing my 1,250 to 1,000 just for this reason), and still have occasional blurts and power days. Either that, or learning how to get by on three hours of sleep a night.

One of the really nice things about being new at writing is that I'm not locked into any one set of habits. I can add new things to the mix, and keep them if they work, or ditch them if they don't. Or I can set everything aside and try something completely new and crazy for a while. All me, all my choice. Hmm...

Monday, August 15, 2011

Stealing a March

One more encouraging idea about talent, or ability, or whatever – Future talent cannot be measured by current talent. Personal progress cannot be predicted. Talent equals effort multiplied by an unknown quantity of time (a unit I like to call a mysterion.)

Some people suck at something for years, then all the sudden something clicks. Or they go from “just okay” to “wow” in a few short months, halfway through their career. The phenomenon of plateauing for a while and then making rapid progress is really common.

Every time I find myself busting my butt at something, and feeling like I’m not getting anywhere, beating my head against a wall, and maybe I’m just no good at whatever it is I’m doing, I try to keep this in mind and take heart. Progress is a complex, chaotic, unpredictable thing, nobody knows which tap is the last one that brings the wall down.

I recently posted this as a comment on Dean Wesley Smith's blog, about the myth of talent -

I liked what I wrote so much I'm reposting it here. Because I wanted to share this priceless nugget a little more widely (actually, Dean gets about a billion hits for every one of mine.) Also, it is long enough to qualify as a daily blog pots, under my ill-defined rule-set (read: I'm making it up as I go along.)

This is what's known as stealing a march. That's military history type talk for one upping the opposition while they sleep. Google it, I'll wait. It may not really actually apply here, but it sounds neat.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Writers Write, Storytellers Tell Stories

The corollary to "a writer is someone who writes" is "a storyteller is someone who tells stories." Why is this distinction important?

A writer is not necessarily a fiction writer. There's non-fiction, poetry, or even fiction that isn't a story. Like character studies, or descriptions of made-up places. So, first of all, what is a story? A story is when a conflict arises among some number of actors, and is somehow moved forward.

At least, that is the broadest and most inclusive definition I could come up with. Defining a story more narrowly certainly won't hurt a writer's chances of being published.

A story has to have conflict. Conflict implies at least two parties, both capable of influencing the resolution of the conflict (actors.) There has to be some change in the conflicts parameters, and thus some change in the actors.

It isn't a conflict if the actors aren't affected by it, and it isn't a story if the conflict remains static. Thus, it isn't a story if the actors aren't changed.

Enough with the definitions. I do have a point, and it's this - you have to decide if you are a writer or a storyteller. If you are a storyteller, it might be helpful for you to recognize that writing is just your medium, not your message. The story is the message. Focus on the story, not the prose.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Storytelling Vs Writing

Writing is important. Not writing in general. Quality writing in terms of style, prose craft, and so on. If your writing is stilted, overly verbose and flowery, or otherwise distracting, it doesn't matter how good your story is, the reader will quit on you. And heavens help the writer with bad grammar (fiction grammar, not academic grammar) or spelling.

But, good writing will only get you so far. You have to have a good story. You have to have the storytelling skills to keep the reader invested in that story. Writing style is only the very first barrier to entry for a reader.

I ran across a statement by Dean Wesley Smith several months ago, one he repeats many times in his "Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing" series (required reading, IMHO.) He says that most new writers are concerned with sentence by sentence writing, rather than story writing (any errors/paraphrasing are mine.)

I have been turning this statement over in my head for months, trying to understand it. I felt sure that I, as a new writer, was likely committing this offense. But I couldn't understand how, or how to move past it. How else could one possibly write, other than sentence by sentence?

It's taken two things to illuminate this issue for me. Firstly, the idea vs story concept I picked up form Bob Mayer. That idea in itself has radically changed my writing process. The huge number of words I've written in the last four months has also helped tremendously (about 100,000 or so.) Basically, I've gotten to where I am much faster imaginationally (yes, that's a word. It is now, anyway.)

It took me weeks to write my first story. I could probably (have, I think) write a better story now in an afternoon. Not that I am trumpeting my own horn, or claiming that the stories I write now are great (they are, of course), but they are miles ahead of what I was writing when I started.

I am developing a faculty to see my stories in much broader swaths than I could when I started. And I see now where the particulars often don't matter, as long as they convey the essential story information. It's not the words, it's the content. words are just a container for story.

A humble note - I'm sure (I really really hope) I'll continue to grow as a writer, and understand storytelling and writing better. I hope my current understanding seems as limited to future me as my past me's understanding seems to present me. Phew.

Friday, August 12, 2011

A Short Post on Aim

Aim, as in, what are you aiming for? What's your intention? You do know what it is your trying to accomplish, right. Because if you don't, it's going to be awfully difficult to know when you've achieved it.

Aim, as in, what I want my voice to be. Most people's voice is heavily influenced by who they've read. That's normal. Most writers continue to read the genres they write, often quite heavily. Again, this is to absorb influences, to further shape a voice.

I read quite heavily in the genre of "being a writer" currently. I'm not planning on writing how to write books, so I can't say that I'm picking up a lot of style particulars from these books. Learning a heck of a lot about writing, for sure. But not much about being an individual.

It popped into my head, though, the other day. The exact description of what I am aiming for, the writer's who I would love to be compared to, who I have learned so much about what writing is for from. To wit - I want to be the Louis L'amour of Phillip K. Dick, by way of Robert A. Heinlein and Kurt Vonnegut.

Any questions?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Further Thoughts on Idea Vs Story

It actually might be better, or at least more clear, to say idea as a separate entity from story, rather than idea vs. story. The latter implies an adversarial relationship which isn't actually extant. Of course, the former is more than a little bit cumbersome.

Anyway, to break from pedantry, the actually crux of this post. And, to answer that query that may even now be formulating in the vast recesses of your questing intellect - I am not intentionally using as many big words as possible. And I most certainly did not imply that you had a large, empty head.

This new goal of being both informative and humorous may need a little tweaking.

I have been running every new idea that I add to my idea bank through the full developmental process. In other words, I write down the original thought/brainstorm. This, plus maybe some dialogue or exposition used to be all I did with the ideas before saving them and moving on.

Now, I also state the idea in a single sentence (usually a what if?). Then I develop the idea to a possible next level, adding specifics, but still keeping it at one sentence. Then I write a full paragraph summary, similar to a blurb, but with no attempt at keeping out spoilers.

I've illustrated the form a few times now, in other posts, so I'm not going to give an example.

This process has not only vastly improved the quality of the ideas that I bank, it is also helping to push my storytelling skills to the next level. Ideas i would have quickly moved past, I am now forced to fully develop, regardless of perceived merit. This is a good thing.

Since the whole purpose of the idea bank is to stretch my imagination, and practice telling the core of my stories, anything I can do to make the process more productive is time well spent. In other words, I am adding heavier weights to my mental whatever-it-is-a-bar-with-weights-on-it-that-people-lift-is-called.

A couple other quick notes - 1) I have now definitely been posting daily for over a month. whee. 2) As I challenged myself, so I deliver. I now touch-type all my blog posts. Okay, sometimes I peek, but I never do the two hands but only five fingers thing anymore.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

I Dislike DRM

This is a fairly off-topic post, but this strip got me thinking about this subject today. It is relevant to writers in a tangential way, in that you will have to decide where you stand on DRM if you publish yourself. And file-sharing (AKA piracy, a misnomer that I dislike.)

It's worth reading the news part, as well. A house divided and all that.

Basically, my idea is that if I pay for something, I own it. I am not interested in asking permission from the manufacturer every time I want to use it. I'm not even talking about copying, sharing, or anything that might be a violation of intellectual property laws. I'm talking about a video game that I cannot use without connecting to the internet and asking the manufacturer's servers if it's okay to play.

Not happening. Other manufacturers have tried this same stunt, and I have been uninterested in their products as well. As have the general range of consumers. There was a huge amount of backlash those times, and I expect there will be this time as well.

Now, in my case, it is a moot point. I rarely play games on my computer, and haven't for years. I did own a copy of the first Diablo, but I really didn't get into it much. So my not buying a copy is a foregone conclusion, regardless of the presence or absence of DRM.

I would worry about this sort of thing migrating over to other content (movies, books, music), but I doubt consumers would stand for it. So far, it hasn't worked out well for the video game companies that have tried this kind of heavy-handed approach.

More importantly, I'm with the likes of Neil Gaiman, Corey Doctorow, and J A Konrath on file-sharing - it's beneficial. DRM is stupid, not just because it annoys paying customers without affecting the (determined) non-paying ones. DRM is stupid because it limits an audience's potential scope. The more non-paying readers you have, the more paying ones you will have. It's that simple.

Ebook lending, file-sharing on torrent sites, library lending of print or ebooks, even photocopies - all drive sales. DRM screws up this beneficial process.

In other words, steal my books, please. Just pass them on when you're done, and thanks for reading.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Quarterly Report - Lessons

Things I've learned in the last four months -

1) A daily wordcount is crucial to production. 250 words or 2,500 words, whatever. Set a limit as high as you can consistently make it, and stick with it. Producing new words of fiction on a regular basis is the essence of being a fiction writer, and producing a volume of new words on a regular basis is the essence of being prolific. Unless you're one of those binge writers, which I'm not, mostly. Although I am considering doubling my wordcount and only writing every other day.

2) Have a one sentence idea written out for every story. This simplifies the hell out of actually writing the story, and keeps me from writing something that I'm not sure how to finish. In other words, it's much harder to get stuck if I have path to follow, even if I don't know the features of the path (story or plot) beforehand.

3) Keep an idea bank. This keeps the ideas flowing, keeps my imagination in shape, and ensures that I never have to sit around wondering what to write about. For a guy that had no concept of how to plot a story four months ago, this has been crucial in developing my storytelling basic skill set.

4) Power days. This is the opposite of the steady wordcount theory above, or the next level of it, if you add in the concept of blurting. Basically, once a week I set aside a day to write my ass off. This is also known as the Day Off Story Challenge, and has been another really useful way to expand my storytelling skills. The next level of this is taking every writing day and turning it into a power day. I'm not there quite yet, but hopefully soon.

5) Miscellaneous smaller lessons - The seven point story structure is another, useful way to look at novels. Heroes and happy endings are worth writing, too. Plot is what happens when characters interact. The math of writing as a career heavily favors the prolific. Voice recorders are really useful. Touch typing, on a keyboard, is way faster than pecking, and way way faster than typing on a touchscreen. Android tablets are great for tweeting, but suck for writing blogs. Tweeting and posting on other people's blogs about your own work (especially "buy me, buy me" is mostly just irritating and counter-productive. Podcasting takes work, and possibly money.

6) Final lesson - I can do this, at least for four months. And next quarter makes half a year, and that twice is a full year. More math, and it says that all this adds up, eventually.

Monday, August 8, 2011

A Quarterly Check-Up - Statistics

I began writing seriously tomorrow, four months ago. I know this because I have a journal that I started on that date, as well as a text file of an idea I was trying to develop.

The journal got 5 more entries, I started blogging somewhere in that time frame as well. The folder labeled "story ideas" with that first text file, labeled "story ideas", eventually became my idea bank, and it now has 188 entries. This number doesn't include the ideas I have already written stories from, or the actual usable ideas in the "good ideas folder".

I blogged off and on until a little more than a month ago, when I began the Daily Blogging Challenge. I haven't missed a day since.

I have completed 13 short stories, one drabble, and one flash fiction piece since then. I have six more stories in various stages of completion, as well as two novels in progress, and one more novel that is at the planning stage.

I have a spreadsheet to keep track of my stories and the markets they are submitted to. I have submitted to various markets 29 times, and received 18 rejections. Two of those, from minor markets, have been personalized. I have not made any sales, yet.

I have more fiction available for sale at this point than markets to send my work too. Also, some of my earlier stories have been rejected by nearly every professional market they are suited towards. I launched my first ebook, a fantasy novelette name Tes-Nin's Elbows. It has been downloaded a whopping thirty times in the last week. Baby steps. Baby steps.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Day Off Story Challenge - Round 5 - Postponed

I spent my day off this week at a funeral. A better man than me might have managed to write a story anyway. I am not that man.

On the positive side, I am not counting this against my challenge. Round five is postponed.

On the other positive side, I still managed to squeeze this (truncated) blog post out of the experience, thus keeping my daily blog posting challenge going without a miss.

May you all be as blessed as I have been, to not only have had such a wonderful loved one, but to get a full measure of time to say goodbye.

Saturday, August 6, 2011


I have another new idea that I want to put into use in my writing. As the title implies, I want to be a blurter.

What does that mean, exactly? Blurting is writing faster than any of your filters can keep up, as fast as your unconscious can compose. Basically, edit as I write, instinctively, get it all out now.

Why blurt? Because I am writing too damned slow, in a nutshell. Blurting is the nutcracker that will free my fingers from the drudgery of composition. Or something along those lines.

Basically, if I can write as fast as I can imagine, I can get a lot out, much quicker. My goal as a writer i to be really excellent, and prolific. Both having nearly equal merit, in my view. Maybe a little more on the side of excellence, but not by much.

To get as much done as I want to in this lifetime, I have to be prolific. I already am firmly of the opinion that any rewriting more extensive than a light edit is time wasted. It takes me nearly as long to edit, as it does to write in the first place. Any ideas about editing I apply to old work can be equally applied to new work, as I write it.

So I can rewrite a good piece, and make it great. Or I can write a good piece, use what I learned to write a great piece, and have two stories to sell, instead of one. Now I just need to learn to write without thinking, AKA blurt, and do it well.

I'm not entirely sure I did this idea justice with this post, but I am going to chalk it up to typing too slow.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Imagination Wants to be Free

I learned something pretty cool last night, browsing a fellow writer's blog. This writer has a particularly funny way with words, very Pythonesque. Almost like slapstick, but with words. The lesson there is that being funny is a very good way to make people laugh. More importantly, it's worth going for the extra silly joke, rather than holding back for fear of the dreaded unfunnyness.

This wasn't the really important lesson, however. That lesson is summed up in the tittle to this blog, a play on the hacker's mantra - imagination wants to be free. Think about it, how often have you held your writing back by running your ideas through what I like to call "the filter of fear of failure"?

In other words, you approach an idea with the intent "what can I do to make this idea viable, ie not so loony?" instead of "what can I do to make this idea as awesomely cool as possible?" This second approach I like to call "the unfilter".

I have been using this process in my work with the idea bank lately. I come up with an idea, no matter how outlandish, and try to run with it. Very often, if you take an idea far enough, you end up somewhere both viable and fresh.

For instance - Ribbot Invasion

Idea - What if robot frogs were assaulting a suburban home? How would the homeowners fight them off?

Refinement - A elderly lady must defend her home from an invading force of robot frogs, while attempting to figure out their origin.

Story - Doctor Hoptario's ninja android swarm has been defeated by the combined might of the Science Hamster Team. He decides to try robotic frogs instead, or what he terms "Ribbots". He mistakenly targets the wrong house, and the SHT only gets wind of the assault on their neighbor's house when it's almost too late. They manage to save the elderly lady, whose late husbands fly fishing lure collection comes in handy. They defeat the frogs, but what will they do about the continuing menace of Dr. Hoptario?

That particular story has some severe lack of genre identification, it's silly on many levels, and who on earth would buy it? Atlwast, that's what my filter of fear of failure says. My unfilter say "Holy bleep! That sounds like the coolest
saturday morning cartoon that never actually aired, but should have. Let's write it, right now!"

See the difference?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A Few Further Thoughts on Tablets

Specifically 7" Android tablets. Even More specifically the Coby Kyros 7022. In a nutshell, I like it. For the price, I am perfectly happy with its utility. I would not have wanted to pay more than the slightly under $200 it costs, for what it does. But I also don't see more expensive tablets doing much of anything worth paying more for.

Basically, the niche tablets fall into now is that they are essentially low powered netbooks. The problem with this is that netbooks are already as low powered as is practical for most actual productive applications. But...

Tablets are really cool for surfing the web in bed. There portability makes them pretty nifty videogame machines, media devices, and that kind of stuff. I may get some use out of mine for reading PDFs as well, although I definitely prefer my ereader for actual book reading. Oh, and I just read a comic book on the tablet as well, and actually enjoyed it more than on my larger netbook screen. A 10' tablet, or even 12' (should one hit the market), might be better for that, however.

As kind of a back-up option for the netbook, the tablet is nice, too. I am typing this entry on mine. It's definitely clumsier than it would be on the netbook, even using a full sized USB keyboard, but it does get the job done.

The Kyros 7022 runs Android 2.3, BTW. I can see room for improvement, which presumably 3.0 and 3.1 have been. But again, a little clunky, but gets the job done.

The netbook I have is an Asus 1005p, BTW, and it is my main computer. It does enough, and is portable enough, and gets about 6-9 hours out of a charge. Since I don't do processor intensive stuff, it has been great for me so far. When I write I just hook it up to A USB mouse and keyboard and a bigger monitor (an LCD TV/DVD combo that serves triple duty in my household.)

This post has gotten long enough that my tablet is freaking out, so I'll stop here. Short post shorter - I like my new tablet, and think most people could get some use out of one, this brand or another. Especially writers who spend a lot of time online trying to learn new stuff.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Hot News - First Ebook Now Available

Big news - I just published my first ebook. This is otherwise known as putting your money where your mouth is. The story is called Tes-Nin's Elbows, and it is available via Smashwords for free. It's a novelette, about 9,500 words, or 38 pages.

Go here to download it for free.

I have it in submission to Amazon as well, but their review process will take a day or so. I am fairly sure, based on my experience with Smashwords, that I will end up having to reformat and re-upload it to Amazon.

Technical notes - I created the cover myself using Gimp (Linux's answer to photoshop.) It looks a bit plain, but decent enough for a first try. I wanted to avoid dealing with photos and licensing. I also don't much care for the photo with text slapped on look of many ebooks. I will likely go back and re-do the cover later, when I have my sea-legs.

It took me about 6 hours to get the whole thing done, from opening my browser to typing this blog. I think I can get it done in an hour or so next time. The covers might take a bit longer, if I continue to do them sans photos. We'll see.

I have a few more stories that I haven't had any success selling to the high-paying markets, so once all the dust has settled from this little hoo-haw, I will likely get to work on those titles.

Plus, Tes-Nin's Elbows is only the first story in the Hammers and Hexes series.

Quality Isn't Related To Conditions

To explain the title - The quality of your writing is in no way related to how you feel as you write. This includes mental states like stress, physical states like illness, even emotional states like heartbreak. Note that this doesn't mean your state won't affect the tone of your writing, as it often does, merely the quality.

I first read this theory in Dean Wesley Smith's series "Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing." If you haven't read that series, do so, including the comments. It will take a bit of time, but be well worth it in regards to furthering your writerly education.

Back to the matter at hand. I have not felt well lately. I've had a cold that has dragged on for nearly a week, as well as family matters dogging me emotionally. Yet I managed to complete a fairly light-hearted and enjoyable short story for last weeks day of challenge, and another one this week. I've done some writing over the last two weeks besides these stories, but not a whole lot.

If I were to believe that my sickness and general sense of lethargy would preclude my being able to write engaging prose, neither of the two recent stories would have been written. The fact that both turned out well, and are at least as good as anything else I've written, proves the matter. Quality of writing is independent of the circumstances of that writing.

So next time you feel to tired, sick, or emotional to write, do it anyway. Force the words out, one letter at a time if you have to. You may be pleasantly surprised by the quality of your output.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Day Off Story Challenge - Round Four

I just completed my day off challenge story number four, as of three PM. I started writing this morning around ten, so this one took about five hours. It clocks in at 2,800 words. The title is "Minor Mutilators".

It took me longer to write this than the last few stories. I usually come closer to 700-800 words an hour. At my normal rate, this would have taken an hour or so less. However, I am sick today, and this story included more characters and complexity than usual, so I don't fell like I was really all that slow writing it.

I vacillated this morning between this story and a simpler one that only had two characters. This idea was one I added to my idea bank only a few days ago. But, I thought this idea was slightly more interesting, and I wanted to try to stretch out a little.

In the interest of demonstrating the process, for those curious, The original idea and the refinement are listed below. These are all the development I had, going into the challenge.

Idea - A micro race of aliens mutilates small animals.

Refinement - A collection of house pets team up to stop the menace of tiny alien animal mutilators.

The fun of this story is seeing how the animals, who are heavily personified, manage to defeat the aliens. I had a lot of fun coming up with the viewpoints of the house pets, and their names for themselves, as well.

As the last few stories, I would like to put the full story up, but my readership is so small that I feel it is best to keep it unpublished, and try to sell it. If I get more people reading, or publish it myself, I will likely put the story up here as well.

Monday, August 1, 2011


Now, when most of you think of multi-tasking, you probably think of consciously doing two things at the same time. Like talking on the phone and making dinner, or rubbing your tummy and patting your head. All good examples, but not what I'm thinking of.

What I want to talk about is the kind of multi-tasking where you prime your subconscious, and let it do the heavy lifting, while you go on about your life. You already do this all the time without realizing it. It's only a small step to doing it on purpose.

One way to utilize this is to fix your mind on a particular story you might be working on, just before you go to sleep. This works best with stories that you are stuck on, or unsure how to finish. Think about the characters, let your mind roam. Sometimes, you might have to jump out of bed and write the answer to your narrative problem, if it just pops into your head. Other times you might dream the answer, or have it come to you at a seemingly random point in your day.

I call this effect the "Internal Churn". Like the opposite of a woodchipper. You give your subconscious a bunch of fragments, and it will put together a narrative. Sometimes you may get so many ideas that you have to discard some, sift through them for the right one. Your subconscious will bust ass to be creative for you, if you let it.

I try to keep myself thinking about creative things throughout my day. I take a moment here and there to reflect on the stories I am writing, or want to write, and let the thoughts stew, then let go. I nearly always get far better return than if I continued to beat my head against a wall, trying to force creativity.

So - Focus, Fix, and Let Go. Easy peasy.

A few good references - Walter Jon Williams's Aristoi, Richard Bach's Illusions

Sunday, July 31, 2011

The First Rule of Self Publishing

There are lots of first rules. Goodkind promulgated the Wizard's First Rule. Asimov put forth the First Law of Robotics. You do not talk about Fight Club. And so on.

One of my favorite first rules is the first rule of gunfighting - Have a gun. This rule can be applied to many situations besides an armed encounter. Like self publishing electronically. Or, for that matter, submitting traditionally. The rule? Have a manuscript.

Sounds dumb, I know, but it is a very useful reminder for me. It's easy to get caught up in the internet hubbub, social media and publishing gossip. Promotions seem alluring, gotta get the word out, right? Wrong.

The first and most important thing I need to be doing, every day I can, is writing new work. Absolutely has to come first. When I have a manuscript to show for my efforts, and it's up for sale, then maybe some promotion is in order. But, it's all to easy to get the horse before the cart.

I am currently of the belief that the best promo I can do is to put out new works, though. And one of the rules of gunfighting that many people put second is - have a back-up gun. So the second rule of Book Club is the nearly same as the first rule - Have another manuscript.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Ideas Vs Story

I am reading through Bob Mayer's book on novel writing, and getting a lot out of it. In some ways it is a much more nuts and bolts book than other ones I've read recently. He also took the rather unique approach of writing the book over the course of about fifteen years, so a side range of perspective is evident. really good read, highly recommended.

One of the concepts I have picked up is the difference between an idea and a story. Read the book for the full scoop, but the gist is that an idea is a one sentence summary of the core of the book, that must at all costs be maintained. What if an omnipotent being created the universe from scratch - an idea. Genesis - a story. That one idea could generate many different stories, but none of the stories could be summed up as anything other than the one idea.

One of the ways this concept affects me is that I am now applying it to every entry in my idea bank. It goes like this - I have a flash of genius (or something else), I write it down as concisely as possible, in one sentence. Then I start revising that idea to be as interesting as possible, then I start brainstorming the story. The first step is different form my old one, which was - write down the idea, higgledy piggledy. The middle step, enabled by the first step, is brand new.

And no, I am not afraid to use phrases like higgledy piggledy, if I need them to get my point across.

An example -

Idea - What if an office worker was driven mad by her spreadsheet.

Refinement - What if the elder gods used office software to mentally enslave a junior accountant?

The Story - The Elder Spreadsheet - The protagonist, a junior accountant, isn't climbing the corporate rungs fast enough to suit her ambitions. Her weird friend from high school is having great success with an import/export business. They have lunch, the friend suggests using an occult self-help book, which in turn leads to online discussions and eventually a website. The protagonist downloads office productivity software, which she installs on her work computer. It mimics her regular software. She begins to succeed, wildly, but also has strange events and nightmares, etc. Eventually she is a mindless drone, as is the rest of her company. She ends up the CFO, and her weird friend is the new CEO. Her company begins producing and selling the software, worldwide.

I am sure there are a lot of other ways this same idea could be developed into a story. I like this one enough that it is likely going to be the next short that I write, though. Easy peasy, huh?

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Coby Kyros 7022

This is partially an addendum to yesterday's post, and partly a further review of my new tablet. First things first - as I continue to use the device it's clear that once I get past the initial learning curve I will be able to work much faster. The barrier to entry is fairly steep, at least on this particular tablet.

The hardest aspect of blogging on the Kyros is, of course, the typing. I have installed an app called the hacker keyboard. Between its much improved sensitivity, predictive text, and expanded layout, I am moving along at a much better clip. Still slow, but not quite as painful.

I have also had to spend an inordinate amount of time managing the OS. For some bizarre reason, Coby didn't remove the phone functionality from the kernel. So I had a fair amount of fun fixing all the issues this was causing. Were my time worth more than the money I saved, the Kyros would have been a poor choice.

Fortunately for me, I enjoy goofing around like this. The experience isn't just a money saver for me, it's also a learning opportunity.

Just like this blog entry. The main purpose was to test the hacker keyboard app, which I can now recommend as a great replacement for the stock Android keyboard.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Typing on a touchscreen

Here is an attempt to compose a blog entirely on my new android tablet. I recently bought10 a Coby Kyros 7022. Coby is not known for their high end electronics. Rather, the company is known for inexpensive tech that works adequately.

This is a fairly good description of the tablet I purchased. This particular model is likely the highest quality tablet that Coby makes. It has a metal back, and a capacitive touchscreen. Two features every other Kyros lack.

It is responsive and gets good battery life. I had to hack it and root it to install amenities like the Android market, and to fix firmware issues. Now that I have done so I quite like it. Definitely a tablet that needs a technical minded user to get it up to snuff.

I use lots of open source stuff, like Ubuntu. If I was the type that needed an easier to use product, this would be a no go. More later, as I get to know it.

And by the way, typing on a touch screen is really slow.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Day Off Story Challenge - Round Three

I really thought this one was going to be hard. I haven't written much in the last few days, for one thing, so I had no momentum. I did have a story idea, which I came up with the night before.

Unfortunately, I didn't write it down. All I could remember going into today's writing were the character names and general details. I went with it anyway, rather than falling back on previous idea. My hope was that I would remember the rest as I got into the story.

This didn't happen. I managed to prevail anyway, and finished the session with a fairly goofy comedic story. I think it's funny, anyway.

Total time spent was about three and a half hours, word count is about 1,900 words. The story is the shortest of the three, and took me the longest, comparatively. I spent more than the normal amount of time wondering where the hell I was going with the plot :)

All said, I'm quite satisfied with the day's challenge output, especially given my apprehension going in. Yay, me! I'll be putting another tick in my challenge count box.

Oh, the title of the story is "Super Stud". That alone should give you a good idea of how goofy this one was.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


We all hit them sooner or later. Those days (or weeks, or months even) where creativity just doesn't flow the same. Where our needs to get it out doesn't burn. Ho-hum.

I've barely written anything this week. I had an important birthday party midweek, and all my energy went towards making that a success. Between that and other stuff, I've basically lost the last four days, as far as writing new fiction.

Besides the party, I had another distraction. I got a new 7 inch android 2.3 tablet, the Coby Kyros 7022. I will blog more later about this particular device, which fits me fairly well. Suffice it to say, new toys and writing discipline don't go hand in hand.

The worst part about all this is the loss of momentum. I feel like it is difficult to get started again, now that I've been stopped for so long (comparatively.) Not too worry, today is my day off, and should be an upswing. But that feeling is a real one that's important to acknowledge.

I seem to run in cycles anyway, a few days of heavy writing, followed by a few days of editing. And taking a break sometimes is good, right? But it's time to get back to work.

The most important lesson - distractions will kill your word-count. Kill it dead dead dead. Eliminate the distractions (when possible).

Monday, July 25, 2011

One Simple, Easy Step to Increase Your Output

Many writers have found that the most creative and best time for them to work is as soon as they get up in the morning. I work early hours, so getting up early, before work, just isn't gonna happen. For me, "as soon as I get up" translates to "as soon as I get home from work".

If I get writing as soon as I get home, it's fairly easy for me to make my writing goals. Especially if I start writing first thing, before any distractions manage to take root in my mind. Online distractions being the chief culprit. These can ruin my entire days production.

So here is the one step to higher output - get up, and get going writing. No internet, no mail, no morning cartoons. But have coffee, for the sake of all that is sweet and holy. We're not barbarians.

 This works even better on a day off. You will amaze yourself with how much you can get done if you start writing first thing and keep going until you're ready to keel over. Or lunchtime, whichever comes first.

Make your daily word count the first thing you have to accomplish, every day.