The Fictorians

Archive for the ‘The Writing Life’ Category

Thinking Carefully about Doing Nothing

19 December 2014 | No Comments » | Kristin Luna

Thinking. Thinking. Thinking.

If you give me enough time to think about doing something, it’s a sure bet that I won’t actually do it. I’ll just think about it. Very carefully. For hours. Because that’s what I am. I’m a thinker.

While I love being a thinker, I often envy the doers. I wish I could just think “yoga” and bam! The next thing I know, I’m unrolling my purple mat and starting my first sun salutation. But instead, I’m stuck answering a barrage of questions. Is now a good time? Shouldn’t I be writing instead? What about the dog, is she going to have to go to the bathroom and interrupt me in the middle of my yoga session? Won’t I get a side ache because I just ate? Shouldn’t I be doing this before I take a shower instead of after? And so on, and so on, forever and ever amen.

So this past year, I decided to try and change all of that. I decided that whenever I thought of something I’d like to do, I’d just do it. No questions, no guilt tripping myself.

What I’ve found is that it’s more about motivation and decision instead of thinking. When I didn’t feel motivated, I simply made the decision to do it anyway. It was just that simple and just that hard. And if you’ve struggled with that like I have, then you know just how hard it can be.

It’s much easier to simply keep up your motivation. Here are a few tips and tricks in this Lifehacker article, and here are some that work for me.

1. Switching up my routine. I’m not good at keeping a routine, let’s just get that out in the open first thing. But I find my motivation is really waining when I’m doing the exact same thing I did the day before.

2. Doing something creative, but not what I’m supposed to be doing at that moment. I don’t know what it is about it, but just creating something with my hands seems to reset my brain. It helps me get my mind off of what I’m supposed to be doing, and lets my mind rest and recharge. It’s like a zen practice. Examples: crocheting or knitting, sculpting, wood carving, painting, etc. Anything where you must create something with your hands.

And If all else fails, just play this video on a loop.

Fail to Win

18 December 2014 | No Comments » | Quincy Allen

A Guest Post by Sam Knight

Did NaNoWriMo kick your butt? It did mine. Again. I failed to win. It’s great! I never realized how easy winning could be!

Wait! You read my title wrong didn’t you? It’s okay. It’s that whole Oxford Comma thing. We’ll figure it out one of these days.

I guess I should explain myself, now that I’m pushing the edges of your attention and agitation.

Last year I set a goal for myself of writing 50,000 words in a month for NaNo, as many writers do. I had made it easily before, so I saw no reason why I wouldn’t again. (Well, maybe not that easy, but nonetheless…) I failed. I got about 36,000 words in on a story that I gave up on and threw away.

Yes. I threw it away. It was that bad. I know of no other piece of writing I have done (since I got out of school) that I felt was throw-away bad. I’ve still got the idea, so not a total loss, I guess.

But I learned a valuable lesson!

I can’t set an impossible goal for myself. If I do, I will fail. Very simple math.

Wait! I said Nano was easy, done it before, do it again… How can that be an impossible goal?

Well, let’s look into that, shall we? What is NaNo, really? It is a fire lit under the butts of people who need to get crackin’! And you surround yourself with others of a similar ilk, so that you can succeed! It’s a good thing!

But it was not a good thing for me. Why? Well, I’m what you call a professional.

Okay. Maybe you don’t, but I like to. Here’s my point. I didn’t need motivation to write 50,000 words in a month. When I took on that challenge, what I really did was take on a third full-time job.

When I “won” NaNo, it was my second full time job. I was a writer, that’s what I did, so I wrote a novel in a month. By last year, I had moved on past that stage in my career. I had a bunch of irons in the fire. NaNo was just another hot potato to juggle, another metaphor to mix, and I literally could not keep up.

I thought I could. I dictated my story at my kids’ sports practices. No games, just practices. 36,000 words dictated 30 to 45 minutes at a time, three to four times a week. For a month. That means I managed to put, at most, around sixteen hours into NaNo. It was about all the time I had!

No wonder the story sucked.

But meanwhile…

I was working on all of the other things I had to do. In fact, whenever I had a free moment I could have been working on NaNo, I didn’t. I procrastinated. And I did that by working on other things I really wanted to.

In November of 2013, I failed NaNoWriMo. And I felt a little crappy about it. But then I discovered a strange side-effect; I won. All of the other things I had been working on came together, all at once.

Really!

I finished up, edited, formatted, converted, and self-published THREE illustrated children’s books, a short-story collection, and a novel between November and January. Five projects. Five. Done, finished, completed, and moved on from forever.

Why?

Because I failed at NaNoWriMo. Because NaNoWriMo was too much pressure, so I didn’t work on it, I ignored it and did other things I really needed (wanted) to do. And they got done. They ALL got done.

So this year, what did I do? I set an impossible goal for myself. And I failed! But I did it to win.

 


A Colorado native, Sam Knight spent ten years in California’s wine country before returning to the Rockies. When asked if he misses California, he gets a wistful look in his eyes and replies he misses the green mountains in the winter, but he is glad to be back home.

As well as being part of the WordFire Press Production Team, he is the Senior Editor for Villainous Press and author of three children’s books, three short story collections, two novels, and more than a dozen short stories, including a Kindle Worlds Novella co-authored with Kevin J. Anderson.

A stay-at-home father, Sam attempts to be a full-time writer, but there are only so many hours left in a day after kids. Once upon a time, he was known to quote books the way some people quote movies, but now he claims having a family has made him forgetful, as a survival adaptation. He can be found at SamKnight.com and contacted at Sam@samknight.com

Finding Strength in Weakness

17 December 2014 | 1 Comment » | Quincy Allen

A Guest Post by Darke Conteur

I love to write. I love putting words together to form beautiful scenes, or insightful articles on interesting topics. I’m enjoying myself right now as I write out this post, and it’s because of this love that I set certain goals for myself when I started writing full time.

Back then, I had just an inkling of what it was like to be a writer. Sure, I’d written a few stories, nothing published. I thought, if I’m going to do this, I might as well discover all that writing had to offer. That meant exploring as many aspects of writing as possible. Everyone writes novels, but how many write short stories as well? Or flash fiction? What about writing a script? These idea’s tantalized me with possibilities. Whether or not they would prove to be fruitful was anyone’s guess, but I didn’t want to limit myself for anything.

I explored the world of flash fiction and became a content editor for a small online eZine and I wrote, and had published, the only flash piece I ever wrote. I wrote novels, and was on the editorial board for my local newspaper, and yes, I even wrote a couple scripts.

My jaunt into the genres was just as rewarding. Paranormal and scifi short stories were accepted, and my only erotic short story published with the first place I submitted it too (and for money. Sex sells! ;D ). The goals I put before me were falling like flies, and there was only one more attempt I needed to cross off my list to round off my goals; write something in the every-popular category of Young Adult.

Alas, my luck ran out.

It was a time-travel scifi novella involving two teenage boys. The plot was good, but there was something inside me that didn’t spark with this story. I tried again, re-working it into something a little tighter, but again, it fell short of my expectation. Was it the genre? No, I’d written other scifi stories and they were published. Was the story too short? Again, no. I wrote a paranormal novella and that was fine. The only thing I could conclude was that it was the YA category. As I looked over my other stories, I noticed the characters were all adults. Even my WIPs had adult characters. Many of them over the age of thirty. Whatever connected me to my previous stories couldn’t connect me to this story because the characters were too young.

I failed. I couldn’t write Young Adult.

I considered this a disappointment, but it was also a revelation. It showed me that I have limitations. Limitations that allow me to focus on the projects I know I can write. Not every writer can write everything. We all have that one genre or format that we can’t or won’t write. I don’t see that as a failure, I see it as a strength. It means we understand our craft as it pertains to us. We understand our writing style, our voice. In the end, I realized setting up these goals showed me not only where I failed, but where I could create.

 


Darke Conteur is a writer at the mercy of her Muse. The author of stories in several genres, she prefers to create within the realms of the three ‘S'; Science Fiction, the Supernatural, and Steampunk. A gamer at heart, she also enjoys knitting, gardening, cooking and good music. When not busy writing, she attends to one husband, one wannabe rock star, two cats, and one ghost dog.

http://darkeconteur.weebly.com/contact.html

That Moment it went from Hobby to Career

11 December 2014 | 1 Comment » | Jace Killan

researchWhen I picked my topic for this month (titled above) I didn’t realize the title of my first Fictorian post this year, “Keeping the Day Job.” The two titles definitely describe where I was and am in my writing and I’m happy to see the progress made this past year due in part to my keeping goals.

I wrote everyday. There might have been a month or two that I didn’t hit 20,000 words, but there were others that I surpassed that. I did not submit something each month, but I submitted 12 pieces for publishing during the year. I finished a novel, my first, The Broken Amulet, and am in the stage of cleaning it up and editing. I went to Phoenix and Salt Lake City Comicons. And I attended David Farland’s writing workshop.

It was there that writing changed for me from a hobby to a career. In that workshop I was able to see how I could actually make money at doing what I enjoy. I’ve started working on a new book. David Farland helped me see how to craft, research, and frame the story and I’m confident that I will have it in the hands of an excited publisher by the end of 2015.

There was a moment in the workshop that I realized that I could be a successful author if I continued to learn and grow and develop as a writer. There wasn’t a month last year that I wasn’t a better writer than the month before.

So I’ve set some new goals and have developed a bit of work ethic. Here are some things that I am doing different now.

  • I set up an author email, jacebkillan@gmail.com that I use to keep all my writing stuff in one place. As I have ideas for short stories or plot twists in my novels I email those to myself with a descriptive subject line so that I can find them later, but I don’t spend too much time thinking on new things and forsaking my current work in progress.
  • I set up an author profile at Wattpad. At some point I will share a short story or two. It seems to be a great tool for aspiring and published writers.
  • I write at least a couple blog posts each month. This gives me a break from my work in progress and allows me to process things on my mind. It also helps in developing a readership.
  • I started outlining my novels. This was a hard thing for me as I’m a prancer or discovery writer, but Farland’s workshop helped me get some direction without losing interest in a story once it’s laid out. Another great tool is Farland’s Million Dollar Outlines.
  • With a good outline, I’m able to research with direction. I’ve spent the last month scouring old books, the internet, and museums for research on my work in progress. The picture above is of my readings this past weekend. In my hobby days of writing I would have taken the lazy, less expensive, less timely road of just making it up. Actually, I wrote a chapter of my current work in progress before Farland’s class.

The scene takes place in Milan, Italy in 1774, where the protagonist is enjoying chicken parmesan after having travelled a great distance from Nice, France. After Farland’s class I learned through research that Milan, Italy didn’t exist in 1774 but belonged to the House of Savoy in a country known as Sardinia. And tomato sauce wasn’t really used in Italian cuisine until later. And Nice wasn’t yet a part of France either, but also belonged to Sardinia and it wasn’t until a few years later during the Napoleonic era that Nice was annexed. So I rewrote the chapter and it no longer reeks of novice.

  • I started using Scrivener to keep track of my research and keep my thoughts and outline organized.
  • Every movie, television show, book that I experience is now analyzed for its story telling features.

To wrap up, my goals for this next year are as follows

  1. Finish my work in progress
  2. Find an agent
  3. Submit at least once to Writers of the Future
  4. Finish editing The Broken Amulet
  5. Outline another novel
  6. Attend two cons
  7. Attend two writing workshops
  8. Register for Superstars in 2016

I’m confident that I will become a published writer and professional author because I continue to improve, I continue to learn, and I continue to write.

 

 

 

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