Habitual

I don’t like to think of myself as a habitual monster. I like spontaneity. Having no plans, living in the moment. Breathing in life as it comes.

But if you are as forgetful as I am, being spontaneous is a hopeless illusion of another life. I make lists, I have to write things down. I am young, but I’ve forgotten who I am a time or two.

My lists aren’t only things I have to do, they are sometimes goals. A few times, even my dreams.

Writing lists is one of my habits, but it reminds me to stay me. It keeps me sane. Even though I am participating in a habit, it teaches me to break the conformity once in a while. Forget something on the list. It’s not the end of the world.

I have a new character. She is unlike anything other character I have created before. She struggles with her conscience, whether she should do what everyone wants her to or forget about it all and stick to her own plan, acting like the world never existed. It’s this power struggle. Stick to a bad habit or run wild? I am interested to see where I can go with with this character. She is leading the story in  many different directions, she is unreliable, unpredictable, she wants you to believe you know the way.

This character has led me to try to break up my habits. Do something different for a change.

One of the new things I started is poetry. I stick to lengthy fiction on a basis, but this. It has opened new doors.

I’m prepared to share some soon.

Breaking a habit can be life changing or a small change can bring a little happiness. It’s not a bad thing to break out of the normal.

Writing Groove

I’m back!

(I never actually went anywhere. Though my blank word documents hint that I got abducted by demon fairies and they decided to put me back where they  found me.)

For someone with a busy schedule finding writing time is hard, but you just have to find it and stick with it.

Right now my life is no 9-5. I’m living in a great stage of chaos. For the first while, I thought I would never be able to balance getting the things done that I needed to and finding writing time. I guess that’s the beauty of life, adapting on the go.

Finding writing time has been my greatest struggle. Sure I have plenty of stress. Enough that I shouldn’t be adding to it by worrying about writing time. But! It’s still something I lose sleep over.

Maybe it’s the wonder of being a writer. We are not just writers. We are college students, lawyers, moms with four kids, plumbers, Geo-scientists, teachers. The list goes on for millions of miles.

We are all people of a trade, we are human beings that are multi-functional. We have lives, and billions of other tasks that we have to accomplish on a day to day basis. Though in the end, no matter what the time or date, we sit in front of a computer, put pen to paper, scream our stories out loud, we write. Not because we need to, because we have to. This unrelenting being inside our heads that is a conscience says “write or else”.

Finding time is not a matter of if, it is a when. On my schedule writing consists of: when I should be sleeping, speaking it out loud while in my car, finding some helpless victim to ask for criticism on the latest story. There’s a quote that pretty much sums things up.

“A writer never has a vacation. For a writer life consists of writing or thinking about writing.” -Eugene Ionesco

Finding time to write doesn’t have to be in chunks of one hour or more. A simple five minutes will work. If you get one sentence down. Fabulous! It’s one more than you had. People over think time. You want to be a writer? The less blank pages the better. Fill it with a sentence and eventually you’ll have a page.

 

Failure 

My first book signing was a few days ago. I have to say, the experience was incredibly rewarding. As it was supposed to be.

I met a lot of kind people, and took the signing as a learning experience.

When I started out wanting to publish, I was confused. I didn’t understand how it could be possible to find success in this field because of the high rate of failure.

I tell myself now: Don’t let failure be an option. It really is that easy.

Most people don’t reach their dreams because they are too afraid to fail. They give up without ever trying.

If you want something in this life, you have to go for it with all you’ve got. Why lose all that, when there still is a what if in the back of your mind?

I spent years and years thinking I could never make it as a writer, but now I look where I’m at. I took a chance, I kept my head straight, and pushed to the finish.

Never is a term with hope behind it. Even though I thought I would never make it as a writer, I kept hoping I could be one.

Everything can be made an accomplishment, if you refuse to let failure be an option. Don’t give yourself room to fail and you won’t. But remember, just because you fail doesn’t mean you can’t pick yourself back up and start fresh tomorrow.

In better terms if you know what you want and believe you can accomplish it, do it.

 

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Research

 I’m the alien that loves research. Literally. 

Without research in a novel depicting a real place, what is going to set it aside and draw the reader in?

As a reader nothing irritates me more than reading about a place where the writer has got it all wrong. 

For example: 

Welcome to Indiana! The Cross Roads of America! You will find corn fields, roads that never end, rednecks, and innocent small town America here. Indianapolis is small in comparison to other cities. Basketball is what Hoosiers live for. And fried chicken is one word.

Now this wordage is more ironic to the average Hoosier.

It’s mostly true if you are on the outside looking in. BUT look at it from the inside and there you realize too late that you just got yourself in hot water. 

Reality is people don’t like labels. In writing there is a boundary with labels. You may write something that you have done research on and label it a specific way. It depends on your reaction to backlash. Can’t take it? 

Leave it to the locals. If you’re a local writing something about your said town. You put it out there with the specific intent to bring an uprising of mad townsfolk. Good for you. You know what you want and how to execute it to get the desired outcome. 

Now switching hands, I’m an outsider representing a specific place in my story. The place is real, but I get all the facts wrong. 

For example: 

I’m writing about the wildlife of Montana. I say there are only mountains, ground dwelling bushes, very few trees, and flowers everywhere. 

 In reality Montana contains a coniferous forest base. Meaning there are not a lot of ground plants. It’s mostly pine trees, some sparse grasses and so forth. 

In truth if you want the place to be realistic. Stick to the facts. Do your research. 

Not doing the correct research looks unprofessional. 

The age of the internet is here. There are virtual tours and Google Earth and all sorts of resources you can use if you don’t want to actually travel to the place you are describing. 

Take the time, get it right the first time. 

Avoiding Writer Norms

Rule #1 of being a writer: There are no rules.

A lot people get hung up on the he said she said version of writing.

Stop talking and write.

Let me tell you, no name and such are still going to be waiting with their drama when you’re finished. You will be able to resume your quarreling. I give you no worries about that.

Stop procrastinating.

I know we all are guilty of it. 4 am or not, get out of bed and write. You may not want to, but if you dream of being a writer you better make it happen. It takes sacrifice and dedication.

Do write everything down.

Get an idea. Repeat it in your head until you find a piece of paper. Jot the idea in the notes app on your phone. Find a napkin. Find a book. A cup. Something! And get that idea down. Once it’s gone, it may really be gone.

Rejection blues.

We all get it. I’ve been there, already done that. Try, try again, scream a little bit. Cry a flood, but swim back to shore and get back on your way. Rejection is horrible. Embrace it. Believe in your work. Don’t let your dream die.

Don’t listen to naysayers.

People are programmed with negativity so if they’re not giving you constructive criticism, is it worth your time?

Congratulations! You now know how to actually avoid writing blocks!

Remember, as a writer different is good. Be unusual. Be quite crazy if you choose to. Test the lengths of your own imagination. After all it is your story, make it whatever you want it to be. Have a little fun, find yourself along the way. You won’t regret it.

Now Go Write!

 

 

Accepting Criticism

The fear someone can experience from hearing someone critique their work is out of this world.

But if you want to make it in the world of Indie authors, grow the hide of an alligator and prevent yourself from shedding it like a snake.

Hearing someone give a bad review on something you have written can be heartbreaking. It comes with the industry. You have to take it and run with it. Don’t let it get to you.

I think of writing and life in this sort of spherical sense.

When someone tells you they dislike your work, it can come off as if someone called you ugly, or fat, or any number of derogatory names that might hurt your self-esteem. It’s the same sort of issue. It can be hard to tell whether it was deliberate, or if it was a good dose of constructive criticism that you took the wrong way.

A line is drawn, but it’s not always easy to tell where that line is.

When I started writing longer pieces in high school. I thought my work was wonderful. In the same sense I was terrified of someone telling me my writing was awful. I got this superiority complex, nobody would tell me wrong. Needless to say, I climbed off my high pedestal and excepted my writing for what it was. Garbage, with bad plot, terrible spelling, and even worse grammar. There I began my real writing journey. I opened myself up for opportunities. I looked at someone’s comments on my writing not as a bad thing, but as a suggestion field.

Hey this is what you need to improve on. Maybe try this. The plot is great, but you have too much going on. 

Things were going great then I hit my junior year in high school. I went backwards and dug myself in a writing hole that started to consume me.

By the beginning of my senior year I was so tired of looking at the same work over and over again that I stopped turning my computer on. I was trying to give up on my lifelong dream.

Gradually everything got worse, I was barely hanging on in school and I grasped for some traction. Christmas break rolled around and I got tired of feeling unlike myself. I started doing research. A lot of it. By January I discovered Kindle Direct Publishing. In February I declared to a few family and friends that by the end of the year I was going to fulfill my dream and go on to be the person that I have always wanted to be. On my own terms.

Initially some of my family was skeptical. They suggested maybe I take the traditional route.

Frankly I am not a patient person. I did the rounds of sending out query letters. I waited long enough. The decision to self publish was my way of accepting the criticism of not being published by a big name publisher. That was a huge obstacle for me. I conquered it. I began my trek up the mountain, one rocky edge at a time.

It hasn’t been a year since I made my decision. I’ve graduated and moved on to college. I did it, I made it to the top of the mountain.

What I really did, was I accepted the criticism I was receiving as a goal. Okay what have I learned about her opinion on this chapter? What points is she projecting I change or improve? What is the relevance of what she is saying? I see where she is coming from. That’s a good idea. I never thought of that!

The fact is no matter what you do, how great your writing is, or how famous you are. Someone out there in a world of billions is going to dislike it, probably absolutely hate it. While another is going to fall in love with your work and romance it to its core.

Great.

It’s your job to have enough respect for yourself and for those people to not give up.

I may never be a good writer, but I will never be the worst writer. It’s that simple logic. It keeps me going, it says Okay so and so doesn’t like it, but I do and someone out there does.

If Stephen King or JK Rowling took to heart every bad thing a reader or critic has said about them or their novels. They would not get out of bed in the morning.

Writing is an art. It’s a means to an end for many. It can be opinionated or biased, derived from the person who wrote it.

The importance of criticism is that it is merely a suggestion. It doesn’t mean anything, unless you make it mean something.

It’s the writers choice.

Writing for Exposure vs Writing for Enjoyment

This topic can be touchy.

Everyone has a different perspective on it. Whether they’ve had success in the writing universe or not.

I have my own opinion. Whether others listen that’s their choice. Or if they are listening, it’s the questions of importance. Did they learn anything from it? Do they stand behind me or do they simply see where I’m coming from?

That’s the thing about being a writer, new or a veteran. There is not always a lot of feedback. It can be hard to determine whose side of the equation your readers are on. But as the Author of the opinion, it is your job to find out through people’s reactions to your work.

Then you have to decide where you stand. Are you writing for exposure or for pure enjoyment.

Of course you can have a say as both. Perfectly logical, but it devoids the point.

Pick a side, present your case, and stick to it like your life depends on it. In other words is your writing a business or is it just your  brain child that you’ve shoved out there?

It all depends on how you choose to look at it.

In full honesty writing is my business. I love to write. I can’t go a day without it. It’s been one of the longest present things in my life. Writing has never failed me. Though here I am calling it my business. Writing IS my life. I wake up in the morning and it’s what am I going to write next? 

I am a writer, the writer life found me. I have no idea how, but here I am writing about writing. Go figure.

Needless to say writing is not easy.  It’s easy in the word perspective. I mean all you do is put words on paper. But it is so much more than that. Writing is a psychological experience of living life through one’s fingers. Through one’s words.

When you become serious about writing, you have to push forward a differentiation. Are you writing to find and connect with people or are you writing for the hell of it?

Writing with no boundaries for me became this chase. I chased after my character. I chased after my plot. I became a puppet and my book became the puppet master. I had no idea where I was going with it, it was steering me in my own direction. First draft ended up a bloody nightmare. Writing with no sense of direction was not the correct route for me, but I figured it out through experience and that’s okay.

In my own opinion, writing for exposure has given my writing a purpose. A meaning behind each word. Running out into the writing world has awakened me to all these possibilities. I see something I want to do and I do it because I know if I don’t I will regret it. Writing is freedom.

Writing for exposure has allow me to write what I feel and know that it is good enough because it’s out there. There are no more obstacles, there is no more fear.

I chopped off the monster’s head and threw it into the passing crowd.

Someone out there is going to see my purpose as I see it myself.  The adventure is finding them. How can that not be the opportunity of a lifetime?

Put your work out there. Kill the monster that is your self-doubt and get it out for the world to see. Regret will be a word you no longer know.