Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Writing Advice - Have a routine

Get up in the morning.

Work out, walk or do something physical. Even if it's just cleaning the bathroom or taking out the trash, so it's not hanging over you for later.

Eat Breakfast.

Shower. You do this after breakfast in case you got any on you.

Get dressed. Put on your shoes, one right after the other.

Go to your desk and sit down, or stand. I have a standing desk.

Put your hands on the keyboard, one after the other, or both at the same time. It doesn't matter.

Move your fingers on the keys and make words appear on the screen or paper. Do this for 4-5 hours.

Do not reread and attempt to edit while you write. You'll be doing that later anyway. Would you call a "redo" in the middle of a beautiful lay up, or as you were tossing the last M&M toward your mouth? No, and writing is no different.

While you're writing, pay no attention to your word count, misspellings, poor grammar choices, and similar. Gird yourself in the full armor of apathy about the process and just tell a story.

At the end of the 4-5 hours, move away from your desk and do something else. Go outside, pet a guinea pig, or organize your socks.

Later, reread what you wrote, probably over dinner while trying to avoid sauce getting on your copy.

Play video games, watch TV, read a book (important) and get to sleep at a decent hour so you can rise the following day and do it all over again.

Write every single day. The rest will hopefully figure itself out. Even while I was in Alaska, I tried to follow this routine as much as I could, in the morning, on the plane, whenever I wasn't taking pictures and feeling like a time-traveling viking.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


Even if you've done it many times before, writing something that is 80,000 words or longer is a daunting task. Nothing grants us stamina to that end like having a good group of people in proximity that work at something as hard as you do. Returning to my writing schedule has been really hard because of all the post-holiday distractions, but my friends and family have helped by shouldering some of the burden.

I'm really bad at letting people know when they've done something that helped me. There are the people in my life that politely can't understand why I haven't put my work on the market yet. They help me realize that what I do isn't easy, or easy to understand. Then there are all the people who get it, affirming that the time it takes to write a half dozen really good books isn't a task completed in less than two years. Thanks guys.

Oh, that stack of video games and books people gave me for Christmas I've spend the last two weeks ignoring gives me incentive to reach my daily goals relative to my word count and editing. I will eventually use those as rewards for meeting my goals. Thank you!

Meeting someone for coffee puts my time and my relationships into perspective. Actually wanting to see what people are up to on Facebook and Twitter gives me hope that I've got interesting people in my life that fuel my creativity. Otherwise, those sites would be only the sometimes-used self-marketing tool.

My 27 inch display is rocking several projects, two at a time, across multiple desktops. I think my greatest fear is that I'll die before I get a chance to write down everything that is in my head. Part of me doesn't care if anyone even reads it in my lifetime... only that what I thought was given life in the form of words on a page.

Chances are, my fears will be realized. Something will kill me before my fingers take the last keystroke. I'm hoping for old age and an overactive imagination that couldn't be expressed in the span of one lifetime. Such supreme and foolish vanity.

What gives me a sense of myself is that none of what I'm doing will probably amount to much. I'll write my 20 novels, my wife will get around to helping me edit them, I'll self-publish on Amazon and make enough to cover groceries. I'm too much of a misanthrope for college, a regular job, or even dealing drugs to get by.

People will judge me by the car I drive and the perception of what they think my bank account looks like. Should I (foolishly) decide to send my work into a traditional publisher, I will be rejected, and worse, ignored. I will always struggle with depression, and anger, and a hatred of things I cannot understand. I will never be a "success" by the measure contrived by most people.

I am at peace with that.

Writing on this blog has become painful though, as it doesn't seem to serve any real purpose except to give people insight into what I do. I doubt very much the people that understand why I chose this road would find anything of interest here. They already know what the score is.

Some things simply are.

Why would a guy who can't stand to read 99% of what is considered modern fiction want to write it?

Just, because.

Not everything we are called to do is simply in the service of our passions. There's the Gods we believe to exist, the notions instilled within us by our parents, and the culture of our communities to consider. Our own Agency notwithstanding, it appears to be completely random, until you begin to scratch the surface just a little bit more.

From one of the books I'm writing:

"Doing the right thing isn't about garnering a reward. Making right where all else has gone terribly wrong is thankless, difficult, and runs the risk of being futile."

"That’s no real answer. "

"You would still be out there if I hadn't. You would have continued to suffer in the coils of the Tenebrion and from the pain of your wounds, which thanks to the magic woven by your sisters, haven’t killed you yet."

"Numenarch, I would have done you the same harm when we first met, you owed me nothing."

"Lady Diligence, you are the only one keeping score."

Maybe I read too much Giacomo Leopardi and not enough Marcus Aurelius these days, but I had something of an epiphany after I wrote that. I joke about my "Armor of Apathy" and Royce's "Shield of Someone Else's Problem" (+1) with regard to the obstacles that often appear in my life. Most of what I seem to be angry about are the things where I am the most powerless to act. Where I have the most power to change something, and I do nothing, I seem to be emotionless.

I'm doing something awesome, or terribly wrong. Speaking of terribly wrong, my wife has gone crazy and wants me to cook Spam, gotta go.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Resume Interruption

My return to my old writing schedule has been difficult. I'm impatient, I hate everything I write, and fret about a lot of things that matter. Yeah, I think I said that right, and it's okay.

I spent the last year worrying about my workspace, the tools I use, application I employ and a lot of other window dressing relative to what I do. It's kind of nice to have everything in that realm sort of figured out. Having a routine relative to my workspace is also nice, because even when I have a bad day, it's still better than my worst in 2009 or 2010.

When I need to stand, I do. When I need to sit, I can. When it's time to do a set of fifty push ups, I've got just enough space.

The primary casualty is what I call "my interruptions". I've a stack of books I'd like to read, brand new video games still in the cellophane, and miniatures I'd like to sit in the garage and paint. My blog seems a little neglected as well.

If it's a table top RPG or something involving other people, it's enough incentive to pull me from my work. Everything else seems to be gathering dust right now. I'm okay with that, but my good friend Dave got me a killer driving game for the xBox and I love (love) driving games. Folks that would also fall into the "good friend" category got me some books to read.

I need to blog about my trip to Alaska and post some pics of that journey. I've got some good stories to tell about that trip. It's on the list along with everything else I plan on doing when I'm not working toward my writing goals. Hopefully, I'll get to resume my interruptions after reaching some creative plateau or milestone.

And, I'm rambling on my blog at 3 AM because I can't sleep and my fingers want to move across a keyboard and my brain is too tired for anything productive. Closing the lid on my laptop... now.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

2012 Schedule

I decided sometime while I was busy being sick before the New Year that I wanted to keep a stricter writing schedule and craft as many new drafts as I could, making that job one. I'll do my editing and outlining in my "free time" and really just focus on getting the words on the paper. I'd like to have at least one line of books I'd planned for put completely to at least first draft by September and ready for edit.

I had made the Windows Phone 7 application I'm working on with a friend job one for a couple months last year. We're pretty close to being finished and able to move on to other things. Not sure what Dave and I are going to do in the aftermath. It's my intent to manage my time better regardless and make sure that the game remains a true side project and that I focus most of my energies on writing.

We'll see how that goes. I've grown to really like creating text and images for that medium and I'd like to design more user interface for the purpose.

I think the biggest mountain to climb this year will be crafting my own personal website. The one I have now sucks and is in desperate need of some serious love. Web design has been one of those skills I've had to reach out to while being pretty distant from my passions. I find the whole process tedious but being a better artist now, it should be fun to pull together the visual elements for my site.

I've pretty much put Storytelling Sciences on the shelf for now, and it gets my occasional attention but I'm kind of at a loss for how to proceed. Part of me thinks I need a partner to work with on that front, someone that shares my passions for games, but I think my pride is probably getting in the way of seeking out that person. All in good time I suppose.