Being Real

Chess Board - TwitterI am starting to see the effects of my ongoing experiment to be a Real Writer (and Real Person).

First, I’ve acquired one of those day jobs. I like day jobs, as a general concept. It’s something new to do and it provides endless fodder for my writing. But it cuts into the writing time itself. I’ve tried getting up earlier. I’ve stopped rewatching Galavant on loop at night. I even do a little less housework. I’ve learned that I can’t get in huge word counts in any one day any longer, but who needs to do that anyway? By writing 1k-3k a day, I can finish a book in two months or less. Maybe it’s just because there are so many stories in my head trying to get out that I feel the pressure to write faster. I think being limited in my writing time actually improves my writing in the long run.

Second, I’ve attempted some marketing. I attended an in-person convention (in disguise) and have actually pressed my books here and there. I’ve noticed that it works better when others put my book out there than when I do it myself, so if you want to get me a gift for the Day of Birthing or the Reindeer Games, please do some promoting.

Third, I’ve started to get Writer’s Block due to interacting with the world. I mean, shootings. Wars. Heat. Politics. It’s enough to make a Figment despair. My current solution is to rail about the injustice of it all and then move from there into a furious writing session, but fury doesn’t write humor well. I may become a news hermit.

All of this has taught me that Professional Writers have just three things I don’t have:

One, they have more time to procrastinate, because writing is their day job. It would appear, based on output, that most Professional Writers actually produce about the same number of words each week that I do. This leaves them more hours for Netflix binging, silly cat videos, and Pokémon Go.

Two, they have someone who does some of their marketing for them, or they can pay someone to do marketing. If I ever become a Professional Writer, this will be my favorite perk.

Three, they figure out how to deal with all the world news better than I do. You cannot produce a consistent output of work if you are curled up in a ball waiting for Politigeddon to happen. At least, not until they develop psychic paper. (Really, Doctor Who, I think you’re onto something.) So Professional Writers must figure out how to deal with all the other “stuff” in the world better than I do.

Beyond that, it looks like I’m already doing what a Professional Writer does, so I’m one step closer to being a Real Writer.

How about you? How is your quest to be Real going? How do you cope with all the bad in the world? Most importantly, how do you find more time to procrastinate?

Motivation Monday: Getting Past The First Chapter

Chess Board - TwitterI’m going to assume if you’re reading this you’ve taken me up on my challenge to write and publish an indie book. If you haven’t, go back and read the earlier posts first. I’m pretty sequential for a Figment. Doing things in order is always a good idea.

You have an outline (or you’re humoring me and pretending). You know why you’re writing. You have a first chapter. And now… you’re bored. Or you think you’re blocked.

Here’s my take on it: there is no such thing as Writer’s Block.

Before I get a bunch of angry replies, let me clarify. People to get blocked, but it’s not truly writer’s block. Writer’s block is this mystical thing where your muse has deserted you. Sorry, cupcake. While there are real muses, they don’t cause writer’s block. Here are some reasons you can feel blocked, though:

  • Your story is going in a dead-end direction. If your story isn’t making sense, your subconscious may be trying to tell you to turn it around. Break the rule about not editing and go back and find what isn’t working. If you can’t find it, get a trusted but brutally honest friend to tell you.
  • You have a stressor in your life. Real life is stressful. I avoid it whenever I can. Apparently real people can’t do that. If your life is highly stressful, feeling pressure to finish a book can add to that. Give yourself a day off if you have that luxury. If you don’t, write something silly in the middle of your story. You can edit it out later, but it may get your creative juices flowing.
  • You didn’t outline. One thing about outlines: you always know where you’re going. I know there are writers who say this destroys creativity for them. As long as those writers never get stuck, bully on them. Keep up the good fight! However, for those of us who do get stuck, an outline can tell you where to go next when you just aren’t feeling it.
  • You’re relying on feeling. This is one of those “suck it up, buttercup” moments. I didn’t feel like writing this blog post. There’s a major Spelling Bee Hive event today and I’m missing part of the live bookcast. But I am committed to blogging and it needed to be done. So… I wrote. I hate you all for it, but it will be done shortly. Also, now that I’ve started, I’m remembering that I like writing more than I like watching a bunch of letters chase each other around a grassy field, so I may keep writing.
  • You don’t have a deadline. It doesn’t matter where your deadline comes from, but many of us (not all of us) work better with a deadline. I get my best work done twenty minutes before it’s due. Set yourself a deadline. In fact, I’ll be sure to post about making a schedule later. I’ll lose all three of my regular readers when I do it, but it’ll still be there.
  • You need a break. I know the maxim: write daily. If you’ve been doing that, consider a day of rest. Recharge. Take a quick break. But get back on it tomorrow.

So, what’s keeping you from writing today? How did you resolve it?

A to Z Blogging Challenge: H

A to Z Blogging Challenge: Heave Ho!

A to Z Blogging Challenge: H

I have to admit, I have a few unfinished projects out there. In my case, it’s not terrible, because unfinished projects mean more Figments and more Figments mean new friends (or enemies). But there’s still something disconcerting about knowing I started something, thought it was a good idea, and then let it go. But maybe not every project is meant to be.

I was looking through some of my old things, including my Camp NaNo project from last year. I discovered I never finished that project, so I skim-read it. Oh, right. That’s why I didn’t finish it.

Sometimes a project is great in concept, but doesn’t work out. Sometimes you just can’t get into it. Sometimes it’s just not time yet. How do you decide which projects to keep and which ones to give the old ‘heave ho’?

  • You can’t find any enthusiasm for the project. Yeah, you’re going to go through periods when you just aren’t feeling it, but if you can’t find even a twinge of interest in the project, it may not be the right project. (Unless you do this a lot. Then you may need to work on your follow-through.)
  • You (or someone else) keeps finding plot holes the size of Alaska. The project may be salvageable, but not in its current state. Set it aside for a bit, then see if you can fix the plot holes.
  • You are in a constant state of writer’s block. I’ll be honest: I’ve never had writer’s block.  I have had projects I didn’t want to work on. Usually, there was something wrong with the project; occasionally I was too stressed out from constantly being on the run from The Conductor. If you are regularly hitting a block, though, you need to decide if it’s you (stress is a creativity killer) or the project.
  • Your characters feel flat. You may have the wrong main character or you may be trying to force your characters to act out of character, but maybe it’s the project itself. Try shifting some characters around. If that doesn’t work, set the project aside.

Reasons you shouldn’t give up on a project?

  • I’m too busy. Okay, then don’t write for now. Save it for later… or for when your priorities change.
  • It’s too hard. Suck it up, buttercup. (Sorry, was I supposed to be nice?) Writing is easy. Writing the good stuff is hard.
  • It’s taking too long. Again, we seem to think writing should just flow magically off the page. Sometimes you can get a novel off in 30 days (note: it’s usually a crap novel and needs major rewrites). Sometimes, though, that novel is going to take a year or more just to get out the first draft. (No offense, NaNoWriMo, but you created a monster when you made everyone think they could write any novel in that 30 day period.) Don’t be afraid to work on the hard novel in bits, but also don’t be afraid to fill in with other writing along the way.
  • I’m a terrible writer. Hurrah! You probably are… but you can improve. There tend to be two main types of beginning writers: those who aren’t nearly as good as they think they are and those who are much better than they believe. It takes practice to get to a middle ground. So keep practicing.
  • That one person hated it. Get a second opinion. Or a third. If you get three people who hate it, see if you can fix it. If not, then maybe it’s okay. But never give up just because one person hated it.

So I’m off to write, because I realize my current WIP has none of the reasons I should give up and plenty of the reasons I shouldn’t. How about you? What are your reasons for giving something the heave-ho?