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The Concept of Time for a Writer


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Time…it is the bane of our existence in so many ways. From birth we spend our days fighting against the clock. It begins early with our being taught that there is a time to eat, a time for bed and a time to play. This concept is passed down from generation to generation and we get to carry it on blissfully unaware at how much damage time keeping can be.

For a writer time keeping can suck the life out of your work. Between our own super imposed deadlines, the editing deadlines and the publishing deadlines you can lose your work. I was a journalist for over 30 years so the concept of deadlines is so deeply ingrained in me that I have a hard time working at all without first drumming up a sense of deadline doom. I often even find myself waiting until that last minute on a project just to feel that feeling. Sick huh?

While I think that it is always important to keep the deadlines you have agreed to, I would advise you, as a writer, not to agree to too many of them. Don’t set deadlines for yourself….instead set goals. When you set a deadline you are forcing yourself to complete the work and the anxiety that comes with that is more trouble than it is worth. If you instead set goals you will get a sense of building towards something instead and your writing will reflect that.

  • While I understand that we live in a time laden world I still don’t like it. Humans are the only species on the planet that holds itself to a made up sense of time. I challenge you to throw out the concept of time, at least as it relates to your writing. Here are some suggestions on how to do that…
  • Figure out when you work best and roll with it – Forget the “I work better in the mornings” or “I can only write at night”…just write when the mood or inspiration strikes.
  • Give yourself a goal, not a deadline – Even the word “deadline” reeks of doom. Set a goal instead.
  • Don’t allow demands – Don’t allow an editor or a publisher to demand when your work will be completed. We writers have more power than we give ourselves credit for. It’s our work they want.
  • Don’t demand too much of yourself – Allow your stories to write themselves, it is the only way to stay true to the story. When we impose deadlines we make the characters react and that is never good.

In the end we need to give ourselves the time we need to write the story. I know that I hate feeling rushed and I guarantee that your characters will too. Slow down, allow the story to flow and throw out those deadlines…your characters, and your peace of mind, will thank you.

© The Writer’s Advice, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

 
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Posted by on July 2, 2015 in Writing

 

Use it All – Even the Crap


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My life has been a whirl wind of chaos. I married young…to the wrong guy of course, I had kids young…my oldest was born before I graduated high school, I traveled the world…with a very abusive husband and my work life has been a hodge podge of writing jobs that have never seemed to pay enough. To say that I have been through some crap over the years would NOT be an understatement. I often get asked…how did you do it and how on earth do you write with all that crap in your life? The answer….I simply used the crap.

Life’s bad times are literally the manure for creating a brilliant writing career. If you are a smart writer you will use the crap of life to fertilize your writing. I have heard many times over the years, as I am sure many of you have too, that it’s the pain in life that feeds the monster that is the urge to create. I think to a grand degree this is very true. It is, after all, the tough times that give us the fodder for our characters.

Personally, I use everything in my life to help me create the other worlds that I live in. Piss me off, I might actually kill you off as a character in a book. Inspire me and I will pay homage in a future book. Give me a tough time and I just might solve how to deal with you in a current chapter. Sure the names have been changed to protect the innocent and no so innocent but if you know me well enough and you are paying attention to my work you just may see yourself, or someone else you know in the pages I tap out on a regular basis.

Life is the best teach we have but it is also the best place to steal ideas from. I often read news stories that are so ridiculous that my first thoughts are “I couldn’t have written that or made that up”, that’s because life is an amazing technicolor, crap storm. Watching the planet spin around the sun is a trunk full of story ideas waiting to be penned and experience is the perfect co-writer for any type of story-telling.

So if your life sucks and you are a writer…use that. If your life doesn’t suck and you’re a writer…use that. The bottom line is that we want our characters to be as believable as possible so we need to have experienced some of what they have or are going through….imitation, after all, is the greatest form of respect for both the good and bad that life brings you….USE IT!

© The Writer’s Advice, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

 
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Posted by on June 2, 2015 in Writing

 

What You Think I Meant is Not What I Said


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I have a book out that is a story inspired by actually events that took place during the Vietnam War. The story was “inspired” by the events, not taken from the actual events. That means that I took a story that someone told me and then created my own story loosely based on that original story. I found the original story so intriguing that it triggered a round of “what if’s” in my mind and poof….a new story was born. That new story is a work of fiction. So why then do I get emails asking if the story is a metaphor for the war in Vietnam? Or a metaphor of the times we live in now? Or a statement about war in general? The answer…because people need to get a life.

No matter what you create, if you get published there will be a sector of people out there who are trying desperately to get something else out of your story. We live in strange times when people seek out the “hidden message” in absolutely everything…it’s frustrating. Sometimes blue curtains are just blue. Remember in English class when the teacher would give you an assignment to read a story and then gleam the “meaning” off of it? I hated those assignments because, in my mind, I was being asked to get inside the authors head instead of just enjoying the story. When tasked with something like this reading becomes work and frankly, I don’t want my reading to be work. Sometimes a story is just….well….a story.

Sometimes, as writers, we can fall into the trap of trying to insert metaphors where there ought not to be any. If you are struggling to create a story where there is a hidden meaning….stop it. It has been my experience that if a writer has more to say within a story it will eventually come out. Just because the main character is staring at the blue curtains doesn’t mean that he is depressed or secretly wishes for a male child….sometimes he’s staring that the blue curtains for an entirely normal reason like they are ugly or maybe…just maybe….they are the only curtains in the room he is standing in and the story actually lies beyond the curtains…outside the window. Getting hung up on the “meaning” behind the blue curtains can cause you to never look outside the window!

So here’s the deal….sometimes what you think I meant (or any writer for that matter) is not what I said. Maybe instead of focusing on the “hidden meaning” that many not actually be there…maybe you should just read the damn story and enjoy it. Yes there are some writers out there who struggle to assign meaning to a piece but they obviously have way too much time on their hands and are not actually interested in telling a good story but instead want to somehow “enlighten” their readers. More power to those folks but if you find yourself trying to force the metaphors…stop it. Just tell the story and let the reader see what they want to…trust me…they are gonna do that anyway because in this day and age we are all just a little paranoid. I’m off to get a sandwich because I’m hungry….or maybe I’m not hungry, maybe I am in some kind of emotional pain that is causing a hole in my soul….nope….just hungry. (See what I mean?)

© The Writer’s Advice, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

 
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Posted by on May 12, 2015 in Writing

 

What to do When the Person Not Taking Your Advice is You


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Seriously…some days I hear things come out of my mouth that make me feel sooooooooo stupid; yesterday was one of those days. My oldest son and his partner came to visit for Mother’s Day and they brought his partners brother along. Ryan is a budding writer who really wants to make his living at it one day. He has expressed an interest in meeting me, the seasoned writer in the family, for some time and yesterday it finally happened. It’s interesting because Ryan had hoped to gleam some writing wisdom from me, and maybe he did, but so did I.

We moved about a month ago and for some strange reason I hadn’t seemed to move my desire to write with me. I think that with all the packing and moving I just had excused my way out of writing. I kept telling myself that I would get “back into it” but as of yesterday I was still procrastinating. When the boys showed up I realized that Ryan’s desire was strong and I felt an obligation to offer some solid advice. So what do I hear coming out of my mouth? I looked that boy straight in the eye and said, “you have to write every day.” And then I waited for lightening to strike me…….

The advice I gave Ryan was solid…you do have to write every day. My problem was that I realized, as soon as I said it, that I hadn’t been doing so myself. I had used out move as an excuse to let my work fall by the way-side and now I was having tons of problems getting back in. That happens when you let the writing go for a period of time…it’s like a muscle and if you don’t work it every day it gets stiff; I was stiff to the point of becoming Jai the Statue.

So I went to bed last night feeling like a failure in that I wasn’t actually doing the thing I had told young Ryan he should do in order to be a writer. I wallowed in self-pity for about a half hour and then it occurred to me…I can change this. So here I am this morning, striving to be the good mentor I wish to be, and I’m writing. The advice I gave Ryan was solid…as a writer you must write every single day, even if it’s just a little. It’s really good advice…I’m going to take it…how about you?

© The Writer’s Advice, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

 
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Posted by on May 11, 2015 in Writing

 

My Oughtobiography


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A Bucket List. I had a writer friend told me yesterday that I need a Bucket List. All I could think about after she made that suggestion was, why, so I can torture myself with an actual list of crap I don’t have time to do? Her logic was that we aren’t getting any younger and it would suck to die not having done the things that I really wanted to do. I, of course, just sat there wondering why my demise was so important to anyone else besides those who stand the chance of inheriting my marble collection. The truth is we, as a society, are obsessed with what we “ought” to do.

I set aside a little time every day that I call my “Crap…I didn’t do that” period. This is a period of time where I get to sit and commiserate over the fact that I still haven’t reached some of the goals I have set for myself. Sounds a bit like a pity party but it really isn’t. It’s actually a chance to see just how affected I am for not having completed certain tasks. If I find that I am feeling overwhelmingly guilty about such a task I forward it to the next day so I can take yet another stab at it. If I discover that I don’t care that I didn’t complete the task at all I drop it…forever.

We spend a lot of time in our lives worried about stuff we need to do and often we do this without actually asking ourselves if we really “ought” to do that stuff in the first place. The romantic notion of a Bucket List is appealing but for me personally I don’t see a need to torture myself with yet another list of oughts. Are there things I want to do before I take the dirt nap, well sure there is, I wouldn’t be human if there weren’t, but should I torture myself with taking the time to write out a list etching into history my possible failures…nope. I should spend that time doing stuff now.

We writers are notorious for making ourselves suffer. We seem to feel like we need to in order to be writers, but take it from me, this is one area you can let it go. Our to-do list is already huge because with the bevy of characters trapped inside our heads we already have a full plate. So don’t create a Bucket List, instead just do it. After all you really never know when the dude with the sickle will visit anyway…why waste any of that time making yet another list.

© The Writer’s Advice, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

 
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Posted by on March 18, 2015 in Writing

 

Writing Pebbles #18


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Like throwing a pebble into the water some writers put advice out into the ocean of hopeful newbies hoping the ripple effects will reach them and they will learn a thing or two. Here at The Writer’s Advice it is pebble collection time. I will post some of the pebbles of wisdom I discover and I encourage you all to do the same. We will help each other. So here are mine….show me yours!

5 Successful Authors On How They Overcame Creative Blocks To Write Their First Book – http://www.fastcompany.com/3026913/dialed/5-successful-authors-on-how-they-overcame-creative-blocks-to-write-their-first-book

How to Create a Writing, Publishing and Marketing Plan for the Year [Includes Template] – http://www.aliventures.com/how-to-create-a-writing-publishing-and-marketing-plan-for-the-year-includes-template/

5 Amazing Summer Writing Retreats – http://writerscircle.com/2014/03/5-amazing-summer-writing-retreats.html

13 Tips for Writing a Novel – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/chaker-khazaal/13-tips-for-writing-a-nov_b_6581606.html

34 Writing Tips That Will Make You a Better Writer – http://www.dailywritingtips.com/34-writing-tips-that-will-make-you-a-better-writer/

 

 

© The Writer’s Advice, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

 
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Posted by on February 13, 2015 in Writing, Writing Tools

 

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Sharing Once Again….


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Like every writer I am constantly looking for writing resources. Here is a great piece I wanted to share with a ton of fantastic resources!

http://thewritelife.com/100-best-websites-for-writers-2015/#SCZO6x:LR7

 
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Posted by on February 11, 2015 in Writing

 
 
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