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Writing no matter what

What do you do when your body can’t get along with your mind? You want to write, you have ideas in your head, but you’re tired, sick, or mentally unable to focus. There is too much stress, the house is gaming apart, and that new video game you wanted to play is out.

You write anyway.

I’m currently on week five of acute bronchitis. It’s a viral infection so they can’t treat it with anything, I just have to suffer through it and let my body fight it off. That means nights with too little sleep, days with fuzzy thinking, and moments when I just want to curl in a ball and cry because of the pain and coughing.

So, I write. I use those good moments when I can breath and think and get as much down as possible. I use the not so good moments to write a few words here and there. Every word counts, and gets me closer to something finished.

It isn’t easy, but writing is important to me. I want to be an author more than anything. I want too breathe life into the worlds I dreamed up. And that means writing even on the crummy days.

There have been men who wrote novels while in prison and had to smuggle them out. A man who wrote an entire novel by blinking each letter. Some who endured concentration camps, and mental health  facilities where they were given electric shock therapy. And yet they wrote, they accomplish what they set out to do.

If so many others could overcome those horrible situations, I think I can endure a cold.

We live our lives blind to what is beyond our personal experience, and when we get to a low point we think “this is rock bottom,” never realizing we might hit an even lower point a month later. Never knowing that what we think of as “rock bottom” would be utter heaven to someone else.

So many people ask “how do I write?” The answer is: you do it. Even when it’s hard. Even when life is trying to break you. You tell the story only you can tell, and you keep telling it.

Giving up is easy. You go play a video game, or read a book, or take a vacation. You put those things ahead of writing, or painting, or learning a musical instrument. You have fun, and make memories, and keep going.

But when you wake up ten years from now will you be happy with the memories, or will you feel like you’ve missed something by not finishing that book?

What’s important to you? There are no wrong answers. Not everyone is meant to write a novel, but you need to be honest with yourself. Only then will you be able to stand against all those things trying to get in the way… And just write.

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Posted by on March 22, 2016 in On Writing

 

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Confessions of a Slow Writer

There are a lot of new books out this year aimed at helping writers learn to write fast. “Increase your word count to 2000, 5000, or even 10k words a day!” they proclaim in bright colored words across the cover. It’s the ideal, or so you would think from all the writing podcasts.

But what about the slow writers? It isn’t as though we CHOOSE to be slow. Some of us have day jobs, or children, or family obligations. Some of us can only write when our child takes a nap. Or in between classes at the local college. Or on breaks at work.

What we should keep in mind is that no one starts out writing at blazing fast speeds. We all had a first book, and 99.9% of those first books are horrible books that get shelved, or thrown away never to see the light of day again. A good majority of those books were written over the course of months, if not years. My first book, for instance, took five years to complete. I started writing it when I was 16. A few weeks after completing it I lost the file on my computer. It was just gone and there was nothing I could do about it. I did have half of the book printed out for later editing, but I was so depressed about the lost files after five years of writing that I haven’t ever looked at it again.

Parts of that first novel have spun off several other works. Several of the themes keep reappearing in my work, because they were my life. I’ve also added to the themes and characters as I got older, giving them more notes to expand upon.

After I complete each thing, be it novel or short story, I get a little faster at completing things. I’ve done NaNoWriMo six times now, and ‘won’ most of the time. The things that came out were often bad, but salvageable. They could be rewritten, edited, expanded upon.

One year for NaNoWriMo I wrote nothing but short stories. 50,000 words of short stories is a lot of short stories. I believe I completed five for that month. All of them are now published in my Small Bites collection, along with several others started during that time.

For the entire year of 2014, and NaNoWriMo of 2013, I worked on a project called “Mermaid’s Curse”. It has since been renamed to the “Witch’s Trilogy” and will start being published this year. I’m still working on books 2 and 3.

So the confession of this slow writer? I might be slow, but I’m still making progress. I’m still accomplishing my goal of putting out books, and completing my stories.

There are so many people around the self publishing community that are saying “write fast, the faster you write the better it is for you,” and they aren’t wrong. But some of us can’t write that fast… yet.

The more you practice, the better you’ll get at just letting yourself write and not getting in your own way.
The more you write the more comfortable you’ll be with the process.
The more stories you tell the better your stories will be the first time you write them.

It’s a process. It takes time. DON’T GIVE UP just because you’re a slow writer. Give yourself time to finish what you started, even if it takes months, or even years. You’ll get there.

 
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Posted by on April 1, 2015 in On Writing

 

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FAQ: How do I write?

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We hear this all the time, and the answer from most writers is “sit down and write”. And that’s a valid answer, because in order to write you simply have to pick up a pen, or type on a keyboard, and write.

But I think the question most people mean to ask is really “how do I keep writing, even when I don’t want to?”

That’s a little more complicated. Learning to write is, in many ways, as hard as learning to play an instrument or becoming a pro-ball player. It’s less physical (unless you count carpel tunnel from all this typing) but it takes practice and dedication.

The other question might be: “How do I stay inspired?”

There is a terrible myth that all great art is created by this magical muse that comes and gives you incite at the right moment. Then you write a LOT, and everything is wonderful. It’s bullshit, but that’s the rumor.

The truth, and a truth all failed artists of any medium fail to see, is that the really great artists (Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Picasso, Van Gogh) had a few hundred paintings and sculptures in museums. Thousands more of their paintings were destroyed before they ever left the studio because they simply weren’t good enough. There are whole sketchbooks from some of the greats of pictures that were started, restarted, scratched out, and restarted again.

Ray Bradbury wrote a short story every day for YEARS. Not all of them were great, but he had a lot of practice, and a lot of them were. Picasso painted several paintings each day, and only a handful survived.

You need to write, and you need to write A LOT in order to get better. Thinking you can get out of that disregards all of the years that every other artist has ever put into writing.

As for the muse… create your own muse. Find out what inspires you to write, and keep doing that. For me it’s reading good books, talking to other authors about writing, or listening to a podcast. I know that if I do these things a lot then I will probably produce a lot more words on the page, just because I want to keep going. I want to see my book finished and in print.

For you it might be long walks, a shower, or a contemplative morning in front of a tech magazine.

Find what works for you, and keep doing that. Make your own muse. And even if the muse doesn’t come, sit down and write about the muse. Ask her/him why he isn’t showing up, and keep going.

 

 
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Posted by on January 10, 2014 in On Writing

 

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I don’t Wanna! – Day 10 NaNoWriMo

Every morning I get up, I take a shower, brush my teeth, and go to work. I put on a pot of coffee to slowly sip and wake up. I greet my customers with a smile on my face, even when inside I want to run away. Go home. Slip into bed with a book and a bottle of orange juice, and forget the outside world even exists.

I don’t want to be there, but I go. I have to pay my bills, and take care of my children. This isn’t a choice, it’s a necessity. And I go, even though I don’t wanna!

This month I’m participating in NaNoWriMo. And this week… I don’t wanna. I don’t want to write. I don’t want to sit in front of the computer. I don’t want to fill in paragraph after paragraph of someone else’s life.

But I’m going to.

There are those who say you should only write when you are inspired, and I heartily disagree. Inspiration is not what gave me thirteen books, and over 100 thousand words in stories published on Amazon. Inspiration started the story, but sheer determination finished it.

I don’t want to sit in front of my computer typing. Not today. Today I want to cuddle up and play a game, or watch TV. But TV and games won’t put words on the page. And they won’t further my goal of being an author that makes my living from my writing.

So I’m going to go write. I might have to rewrite it. But I’m still going to go do it.

 
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Posted by on November 10, 2013 in NaNoWriMo, Writers Block

 

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