Monthly Archives: September 2015

Stop it! How to Multitask Yourself Out of a Writing Job

Thursdays are an important day of the week. Why? Because many of us look at Thursday as a “in the way” day. It’s just past Wednesday which is our half way point, something to be happy about, and just before Friday, our end of the week – whoo hoo it’s the weekend day. Thursday just sort of sits there…mocking us. So I decided to make Thursday good for something. We are going to call it our “stop it” day. On Thursdays we, as writers, will look at some things that we, as writers, should stop doing. Today we kick this off with NOT multitasking.

We live in a world that runs at 100 mph every day, all day. If you aren’t’ careful your writing will get lost in the fast lane. I personally have to schedule every little thing during the week because if I don’t I will lose my writing time first. Between taking the kids to school, running errands and dealing with all of the things that working from home entails there are some days when I wish I had an outside job. (Trust me, I got more done then) When multitasking first because “a thing” I gave it a try and realized very quickly that doing multiple things at once often meant not completing anything at all.

As a writer we need to be all in when we are writing. There simply is no way to write a story where you have to create a whole world while taking phone calls, doing the dishes, babysitting the grandkids and planning dinner…there are wayyyyyyy to many things involved in doing all those things at once. When I was a kid (back in the wagon wheel days as my kids would say) there was this little poem going around about being in love, it was called “All Because You Kissed Me Goodnight”. It went like this:

I climbed the door
And opened the stairs
I said my pajamas
And put on my prayers
Then turned off my bed
And crawled into the light
All because you kissed me good-night

Next morning, I woke
And scrambled my shoes
Polished my eggs and
Toasted the news
I couldn’t tell my left from right
All cause you kissed me good-night.

This isn’t the whole poem and there appears to be no name on it to allow for credit but it is very indicative of how I often feel after a bout of multitasking. The act of doing so confuses my brain and before I know it I am scrambling my shoes. I literally have to write and do nothing else or I fail at it all.

Yes I know that the world is pushing up all to get more things done faster and there is a lot of pressure to “get it done” but you have to ask yourself…do I want to get it done fast, or do I want to get it done right? Here’s the funny thing for me…I remember making it through the first 50 years of my life without a sense of urgency all the time. I have no idea when exactly we decided, as a society, that we all had to be in such a hurry all the time; we don’t. As my grandmother used to say, eventually it will all get done, maybe not to everyone else’s liking and time table but, it will get done.

Folks, if you are multitasking…stop it! Focus on the work, finish the section you are on and then move on to the next thing. Trying to do it all at once will not make you successful…it will only make you tired.

© 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.

Leave a comment

Posted by on September 17, 2022 in Writing


Write it Down….or Risk the Forgotten Novel

What is the “forgotten novel”? I’ve written it a million times over the years but it will never see the light of day. It will never be the showcase of my work and it will never win awards…why? Because it will never get truly written because I simply forgot to write it down.
I found this saying while perusing the internet and decided that truer words have never been spoken in terms of us writers. I’ll don’t need to write it down really is one of the biggest lies I tell myself. Over the years well-meaning mentors have told me time and time again, carry a notebook, write down the inspiration as it hits…do I do that…nope. And you know what???? I tell other young writers that same advice.

Honestly the world is too busy a place for us to rely on “remembering” anymore. Senility is no longer an old age condition, it is a condition that is the product of too much technology and too much busy-ness. I am often luck if I remember to pick up the kids from school and the eggs from the grocery store and not the other way around…remember a moment of inspiration? Yeah…okay…

I have begun carrying a notebook, which has been tough for me because I am not a “bag person”. I hate the concept of having to carry a bag to put my stuff in. If I can’t stuff it into my pockets I don’t need it, right? Wrong. As a writer we really do need to be constantly prepared because inspiration is a cheeky little bugger and it comes when it feels like it. While it would be great to put it on a schedule…”I plan to be inspired between 2:15 and 4:30 p.m.” it ain’t gonna happen. We need to have that notebook or recorder on hand because when the inspiration hits and you miss it…trust me, it sucks. I can’t tell you how many times I have written the greatest-novel-EVER but because I didn’t write anything down and I told myself I would remember…I lost it completely.

So carry that notebook, put a pad and paper next to the bed, hell use your electronics to take notes – I don’t care – but take them. You don’t want to look back on your career and see all those unwritten, forgotten novels ghosting around. Wouldn’t it be better to take a moment, write it down and then someday tell an incredible story on a talk show about how inspiration hit you on the 405 and bam! The greatest novel ever?

© 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.

Leave a comment

Posted by on September 16, 2022 in Writing


Give the Voices in Your Head Something Constructive To Do

My 22 year old son asked me the other day about people who hear voices in their heads. He’s kind of random like that so I wasn’t surprised by the question but I was intrigued by the fact that no matter how I tried to explain it, he just wasn’t comprehending. For him, the concept of having another voice besides your own in your head was ridiculous. He finally said, “So they are crazy?” I looked at him and said, “I hear voices in my head”. He smiled at me like I was a little old guy who just said I couldn’t find my car keys and the conversation ended.

Let me start by saying that there are legitimate people out there who hear voices and they are mentally ill. This article is not for those people. This piece is for those of us who have active story going on in our heads all the time. Most writers will tell you that they write because they can’t not write…that is true of me too. I have stories in my head playing out on a daily basis. I am technically always working to some degree sorting through the voices, trying to hear the story they are telling so I can write it down.

This is not, hear voices like a schizophrenic…this is hear voices as in the characters are alive and well inside my head. No I don’t hear different personalities; that’s mental illness, I hear characters looking to populate a story I am working on and folks….I do listen to those little buggers.

In order to not go nuts, I have to listen to those voices and then give them something constructive to do. I need to explain that last line because I don’t mean forcing the story…I simply mean listening to them and then letting them do what comes naturally on the page. “Giving them something constructive to do” means letting them tell their story and, as a writer, that’s my job.
So if you are a writer and if you hear voices in your head….it’s okay, you are supposed to. Listen, let them tell you their story and as they get constructive, write it down. That, after all, is how great stories are developed.

© 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.

Leave a comment

Posted by on September 11, 2022 in Writing


Don’t Listen to EVERYBODY…Some of Them Are Wrong

Popstar Shakira was once told that she sounded like a goat when she sang….a zillion records later world-wide and I’d say that choir director was wrong. I was told in the 9th grade by an English teacher that I couldn’t write and then, in college, a creative writing teacher told me that I should choose another career path because I wasn’t a writer…many books later and thousands of published articles…I’d fathom to say they were wrong too. My point? Just because someone is a position of implied authority doesn’t mean that they necessarily know what the crap they are talking about.

I hear from other fledgling writers every day about how some well-intentioned, and sometimes not well-intentioned, person has told them they aren’t a writer. Usually these stories involve teachers and sometimes they involve “seasoned writers” but the stories are all the same…someone somewhere felt it was their duty to squash someone else’s dream of becoming a writer. It’s wrong.

The thing about writing, as with all art, is that it is subject to the reader. In my opinion there are some folks out there who are selling millions of books that really suck. I don’t like their work and I don’t understand why they are best sellers BUT…that’s my opinion and you know what they say about those…they are like ass*, everybody has one. As a writer you can work on the basics…grammar, tense, the bare bones and you can become a better writer based on these. Does that mean that your stories have what it takes to reach literary stardom? Maybe not but you can still write and these days you can even publish yourself making you “a writer”. These days no one can really stop you.

Maybe there are some folks out there that should look for another line of work but the best way to determine that is to give it a try and then, if it goes nowhere, change careers…don’t do it on the word of somebody else. In my experience those who would discourage others are often irritated or jealous that they are having no success or that they can’t do it. Humans, for some reason, like to destroy things they themselves can’t have; writing is no different. That English teacher from the 9th grade was a frustrated writer who couldn’t get a book published. That creative writing teacher in college? She finally changed into nursing because she wasn’t even cut out to be a teacher of writing. (I did send her a copy of my first published book with a thank you letter years later…catty I know but I couldn’t help it)

My point is, nobody should tell you not to try. The only person who should determine that you shouldn’t be a writer is you. Remember that people do things for a lot of crazy reasons and someone telling you that you can’t be a writer may be doing so because they burned their toast that particular morning….write…if it works, yeah…if it doesn’t, well, at least you know for yourself.

© 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.

Leave a comment

Posted by on September 9, 2022 in Writing


Being a Writer Means Being Aware

There was a movie in 1981 that was wildly touted as a critical success however it was ignored by the mainstream. Dinner with Andre was a movie that revolved around the conversation between two people who had lost contact over the years. The men discuss a number of things from the state of the world to the travels of one of them and the lessons he has learned. Some say that this movie, like 1984, is prophetic; I am one of those people.

I agree that we have become cattle to a grand degree and that humans have stopped thinking for themselves. We are led by the nose by the media and a government with an agenda and, because we are enamored with technology and social media we have gone to sleep. It is the reason we have so many books now-a-days that don’t actually tell a story. It’s the reason we stopped taking responsibility for being socially aware. It’s the reason why we have an entire generation who feels entitled.

We, as writers, have a social responsibility whether we want to believe it or not. We write and people listen…simple yet effective. But so many of us have sold out to a world that is being run by corporations and the one percent. We have left the true calling and become a part of the problem.

I was a journalist for over 30 years. I loved the job, talking to people, being a part of the observers…but then something happened that ruined it for me…the job changed. I began to see people fall victim to the media and I began to see people within my career group using their positions to attack folks, become part of the story and allow themselves to be used by big business. News reporting became about “creating” the news, not reporting it. Then, in 2004, I myself fell victim to the changing tide and I was attacked with my own career, my writing…it took me a long time to recover…some days I feel like I am still recovering. I knew then that I would never report the news again….”they” had taken that away from me.

Who are “they”? “They” are the people who want us to believe that the world is flat because it suits their needs. They want to go to war so they make things up so that we will support it. They continually tear at the seams of the world so they can reinvent it in their image. They stop the true storytellers because they don’t want everyone to know the truth…they need us to live in their lies.

As writers we have a duty, a social responsibility to tell our stories in the truest way possible. “They” will tell you that no one will buy your book if you don’t write it a certain way. “They” will tell you that there are certain topics that you must stay away from and they will tell you that being a writer is a pauper’s profession. Don’t listen! Folks, if we stop writing people will stop having a way of hearing the truth. People will stop being able to see the world as it is instead of how “they” want you to see it. We have a moral obligation and we need to be practicing that every…single…day. So write…write every day…tell your stories…tell your truth because it is someone else’s truth too and they need to hear it. Don’t focus on the money or listening to folks tell you what will and won’t sell. Just write….the world needs us and they need us now!

© 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.

1 Comment

Posted by on September 8, 2022 in Writing


Bed Bugs – Inspiration Ready to Strike

Last year one of my children moved in with someone who had bed bugs. Until this little incident in our lives I had always thought that bed bugs were a part of a children’s bedtime story. No way did I ever in a million years think the little creepy things were an actual “thing”. The house they had was infested and they actually had to move in order to get away from them leaving behind all their furniture.

While most parents would have been pissed that their child was exposed to these invaders, and I was to some degree, I had quite a different take on the whole mess. The bed bugs inspired me to consider a story where a small town was taken over by an alien race that took the form of bed bugs. Why bed bugs you might ask? Well upon researching these creepy crawlies I learned that bed bugs were quite apt at hiding. They are flat in their unfed form and can literally slide into any crevice available. This brings me to the other incredibly interesting aspect of bed bugs…they feed on blood, human blood. (que the creepy laugh – bwahahahaha….)

These facts along with their size, the fact that they reproduce like freaking rabbits and their ability to move really fast made them excellent little aliens who could take over an unsuspecting small town. It made for a fun little short story which may lead to an actual anthology utilizing insects. Do you see what happened there? Bed bugs inspired me! (And made me itch a bit while writing the story)

My point is that you can find inspiration in just about anything at all, even something you didn’t realize actually existed. As a writer you should always be looking at things with a “writer’s eye”. The “writer’s eye” is the ability to see the story in just about anything…even bed bugs.

Try this….while heading out this week to handle life try seeing things with your writer’s eye. See the story possibility in every aspect of your life. If you do I’ll bet by the week’s end you find a new story just waiting to make you itch! (See what I did there? Que creepy laugh again – bwahahahaha)

© 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.

1 Comment

Posted by on September 1, 2022 in Writing

%d bloggers like this: