Things I’ve Learned

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There aren’t a lot of secrets to blogging, or writing in general. There are rules, and there are things that you learn that work for you, but there’s no hidden knowledge, nothing behind the curtain that will guarantee success.

The practical parts of writing will serve you pretty well if you stick to them and try to improve every time you sit down to write.

Write as much as you can. That can mean every day, some days, or even a single day a week if that’s all you can get. Get as much written in your writing time as you can.

Read. Read anything and everything. Don’t limit yourself. Getting better is a matter of learning what others do and applying it to your own habits and processes. A writer who doesn’t read is just someone putting words on a page.

Keep it constant and consistent. Try to stick to a schedule, and hold yourself to it. The more comfortable you get with it, the more of a habit it will become, to the point where it becomes automatic.

Always be open to learn. I can’t stress that one enough. Your mind needs to be ready to absorb things, new ways of thinking, of creating.

Don’t take it too seriously. Have fun with it.

Just stay the course, don’t give up, and push yourself each day. Try something new, or get that thing finished. You’ll be surprised how much you can do if you just stick with it. I’ve had my down moments, and when they happen, I just remember a couple of these little tips, and just like that, I’m back and getting the work done. It’s as simple as that.

You can do it. I believe in you.

Do you play games often? Card games, board games, RPG’s, video games? I used to play all the time, but in the past few years, I find myself playing video games less and less. It’s just such a huge investment of time!

I get a little bit of something in every week, but I find myself turning more frequently towards reading.

Habits and Routines

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How much do I write per day? That’s a good question. My answer? It depends. On a lot of things.

I usually center my writing on a few set times per day. Each work day, I get up, have my coffee, take my vitamins and my fish oil like a real adult, do a light workout (at least a jog of 20 minutes or more), and then cool down at home for about an hour. Then I take my meds, have my breakfast shake, and mentally prepare myself for writing.

The beginning of the ritual has changed over time, and I’m always open to changing it to suit my needs.

Right now, it goes like this: first, I turn off the overhead lights in my apartment, and turn on the white LED lamp next to my desk. Then, I pull out my “process diary” and note the date, time, project, and duration of this particular writing block. So, “8/1/17 10:05AM, blogging, 40 min”.(If you’re wondering, yes, some of my posts are written ahead of time, including this one. I do my best to give myself a comfortable lead on content creation, so I’m not losing my mind to make sure I have a post ready for publication.)

After that, I note my location, what kind of notes I’m working with, how I’m writing, and things like noise or music going while I’m working. Example: “@computer, no notes, typing, noise app/music”. Then, at the noted time, I start the timer and write.

When I’m in my time, all I do is write. I sit at my desk and type or write by hand, and that’s all I do. Every device is disconnected from the internet (as much as one can in this day and age), I close out any applications that might draw my attention away from what I’m doing, and I keep focused on the task at hand.

After the timer goes off, I make a few notes about the session—how it felt, what I wrote, what I might need to do in the future, etc. I take a deep breath, quiet my mind, and take a short break. Stretching and flicking through stuff on my phone happens here. The process begins again after the break is over, and continues like that until I’m satisfied with what I’ve done for the day.

On days where I work in the afternoon, I usually only have one longer session. Focused and intense writing can leave me with a lot of anxious energy, and I don’t want to take that with me to work. My evening shifts are easier to manage, and sessions in the afternoon, should I take them, are much lower in intensity and focus.

I try not to put too much stock in word counts beyond a rough estimate for a given project. I’ve found that trying to work towards a specific count tends to negatively affect the writing process. I’ve caused myself a lot of stress in my time by working too hard to hit arbitrary counts, and letting go of that particular part of the process has been freeing for me.

I’ve found that I write more when I don’t have a specific goal in mind. There is a need to keep things from spiraling away from me, but that’s about the extent of it.

Fragment

So there she was, sitting in the corner of the shop, tuning her guitar. I saw her almost every night, sometimes playing, sometimes behind the bar, smiling, singing, glaring, staring off into space—all of it. She’d gone through the range of human emotion in the time that I’d walked by this particular coffee shop. I can’t remember how many times I’d done it—weeks, months, maybe a year already. I came this way after my shift, without fail. There were a few times I took a different route at the beginning, but once I saw her, I kept on this one route. Going home this way was longer, a little bit. I had to take an extra elevator, and I had to walk a bit of a roundabout route to get there, but it was comforting to see her every evening.
And yes, I know that sounds creepy. I would walk by a coffee shop, look in the window, and see a beautiful girl whom I’d never spoken to going about her day. Yeah. I get that. I didn’t do anything creepy though. Just walked by, glanced in, went about the rest of my day. There were no fantasies, no carefully constructed unrealities that made her into a whole person, no elaborate meet cutes that would bring us together—none of that. Just me, walking, comforted by the fact that she was there. She probably never noticed me. She was always busy around that time of day—night?—evening?—early morning?—can’t really be sure, working on a space station and all. There’s clocks everywhere, and the lights get brighter and darker depending on what the numbers say, but people couldn’t tell. We were in a vast, gigantic, metal and ceramic box hurtling through space to who knows where, living our lives, doing our best to pretend like we were still on Earth.
The district towers reached up and down so far, that when the light was right—probably around “dawn” or “dusk”—their bases and tops disappeared. We spun, but we didn’t feel it most of the time. All of us had our own place, but some coupled up. Made it less lonely. Some liked living alone. Earth was crowded, and then you got on this thing and bam, you’re suddenly able to live by yourself, and not get in trouble for it. People loved that. It made monitoring for warning signs a bit more difficult, but the freedom of your own, real, actual, physical place tended to perk people up more than bring them down.
Anyway, I’m getting off base. I was talking about me. My walk home. From my job to my home. I would see her every night, but she wouldn’t see me. Looking back, I wish I had the courage to do what I did sooner.
So one night, I’m on my way home, and like always, I see her. There she is, being her radiant self. She was kinda tall, maybe six feet? Didn’t realize that before. I’m about five and a half, so you can see what I mean. Her hair was down. She wore it down when she wasn’t making coffee for people. It was auburn, I think. A kind of deep reddish brown, a color that changed in the light. Like a spectrum of red when the light hit it at the right angle. I wonder what it would look like if we had natural light…
Oh well. Can’t win em all.
Her skin was lovely. It was tan, dark. Ruby underneath, like when someone puts on makeup, it brings out that, uh, undertone! Undertone, that was it. The light would bring out the undertone. I like that word, don’ t you? Lovely face, too. Soft cheeks that bunched up in that cute way when she smiled. Eyes the color of…what was that damn color? Hazel. Grey when the light—ah, you get it.
Something about the light. Something about how she caught it. I got the feeling that it didn’t happen as much up here as it did when she was back on the planet. But my, she was beautiful. Just a vision.
But there I was, on my way home, and I see her. Nothing out of the ordinary. But something takes me. A little thought. I get moved by something, and not the guy trying to get by behind me. No, it was something like, I was moved by a spirit. Fate. That kinda thing. I decide that I’m gonna make a change. I grab the door, and I open it. I freeze for a sec, a small bit of a sec, so small no one notices but me, but my mind just races. I feel like I’m standing there for an hour, thinking about what could happen if I step inside. All of those damn what-if’s, every single possibility hitting me like a meteor shower. But I keep stepping, and like that, I’m in. I’m inside this little coffee shop I’ve seen for ages, and I’m there. I’m there.
Whoever made it did their best to make it look homey or something. Lot of yellow lights, not those harsh white ones in the work areas. Dark, finished wood. Comfy chairs, pillows, a few low tables near the stage. Bits of lights hanging from the ceiling—antique stuff, like Christmas lights. Most of them didn’t work, but it was a nice touch.

Update!

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Currently, I’m in the process of creating. Well, I’m a writer—I’m always in the process of creating. To be more specific, I’m in the process of creating a new project, which I talked about a little in an earlier post, called Terminaburg. The project itself has been in various states of planning over the years, but this year I went into overdrive plotting and outlining what I wanted to do.

This is currently a pretty massive project, and right now I’m in the plotting stage. Ideas for how to structure it are getting brainstormed and worked on, and the overall structure for the project is getting close to locked in.

Getting the project to that point is key right now, especially with the personal deadlines I have set. If I want to get everything out without any hiccups, I’ll need to get down to writing this thing as quickly as possible.

I’ll probably post updates about it in the future, and I’ll make a big deal of it as we near January, when it will truly start. Just keep following me. I promise you, it’s gonna be pretty cool,

Ryn

Ryn meditated. He did this every day. This was where he could expand his mind, connect with the universe, find himself.
He was very concerned with that last part. Being a Scion meant he didn’t have that experience when he was younger.
The school was initially hesitant to accept him. He was a full Scion, meaning he had been built from the start as a machine. This usually meant that their brains didn’t function as an independent entity. He was a worker in his colony originally. Higher Scions were built or given organic brains, which didn’t have an upper limit on data storage. That allowed them to live as close to people as they could.
Ryn, however, had broken out of his original programming, and had become a thinking Scion. No one knew how it happened, but one day, he simply asked, “Why this?”
His supervisor heard this and immediately sent him to the ruling council.
This stirred something in Ryn. He couldn’t articulate it yet, but he felt fear. He knew that something wrong had been done, and now he was going to face the consequences for his actions.
Much to Ryn’s pleasure—another emotion that he felt, but didn’t know yet—this was very much what the Council had wanted. For years they had longed for the ability to become independent thinkers and real beings without the messy process of getting brains. Brains were expensive, and frequently acquired through less than legal means. A full Scion coming into his own and asking a real question was the breakthrough they had longed for for centuries.
Many schools and universities were contacted, but turned down the offer. Why should they take a robot who can just download all of the necessary information? It could just cheat on a test and pretend it was learning. The council was discouraged about this turn of events. They didn’t care about the raw acquisition of knowledge. They wanted a Full Scion to learn the ways of thought because they wanted to test it against the Brained Scions. They were sitting on the most advanced of their kind, and everyone thought of him as a simple robot.
Eventually, an academy that specialized in meditation and cosmic connection allowed Ryn to enroll in their school—the council footed the bill of course. It was a private university, and private institutions could be swayed with the right amount of monetary persuasion.

Thankful

I’m thankful to be a writer.

Without writing, I’m not sure where I would be. I certainly would’n’t be in this particular position, attempting to tease out what kind of writing I actually want to do in life. I wouldn’t be frustrating myself over the style of story I feel I need to tell. I might be dead. I might be crazy. I might be no one. Life would cease to have any kind of meaning if I wasn’t writing. Writing saved me, just like any of the other kinds of art I made. In their own way, at their own times, they saved me. When I was drifting towards a bad place, when I was in those bad places—art was there to at least keep me tethered to some bit of my own humanity.
Art is a process of inspiration, discovery, refinement, and iteration. I want to keep working on this particular process because it comforts me in my bad times, and helps raise my spirits ever higher in the good ones. If it wasn’t for writing, and all of the chance that goes into simply making art, I wouldn’t be here. There’s a chance that I might be dead.
And it’s strange to entertain those thoughts. A few months ago I might have followed through with killing myself because I felt trapped, uninspired, too deeply unskilled and untalented to break through to another level. I tried with all of my might to make myself into a better musician, and to be mindful and present in the work I was doing, but it never happened. I was stuck at a single point along the way, and I just couldn’t admit to myself that I might not be able to make it past that point. I would be stuck there unless I put in an enormous amount of work that I’m not sure I could have realistically done. I wanted to be an artist, and I wanted to do the work, but I refused to see that I might not be called to this particular art. I was crushed because I thought I had no discernible talent, when in reality, my talents laid elsewhere, I just needed to open myself to the possibility that they were real, and that they mattered. When that off chance hit I was floored. I was ruling the wave of inspiration that had eluded fme for years. It was all there. All of that magic, at the tip of my pen, flowing from me like it was supposed to be there.
So I wrote. I allowed myself to get caught up in my naive passion, because there was nothing else in life that truly mattered. Writing stories, making those ideas in my head real—that we the good shit. That was the whole reason I was writing. Writing was living, and living meant writing.
I think art, and the impulse to make it, is different for everyone in the details, but the broad reasons remain constant: to reach out, to communicate. Those called to make art experience it in a different way. It is not only a desire, but it is a deep need. There is a fear at the base of our spines, a terror that grips us in our weakest moments. WE make art because there is no alternative. We make art because to not make art is to deny ourselves the very essence of our existence. We make art because we simply cannot conceive of a world where we are not doing that. I’m unable to imagine a life where I’m not doing this, however frustrating or annoying, because I know there’s something there for me. There is satisfaction. There is happiness. There is joy in the making. In the course of a longer work, it may cool to simply obligation to see it finished, but the need is there, and with it, all of those emotions that we pour into our work to make it magical and real.
I am an artist. I am a writer. A singer. A whatever. In the end, no matter where I go to do make it, I am an artist, and attempting to imagine a life where that is not true is death itself. When I write, I’m alive. I’m filled with ideas, a spiritual thing that keeps me making. Pleasure comes from the making. Meaning comes from the making. When I write, I’m given meaning, no matter how small or tenuous or fragile. In the moment, the act of writing, I’m made whole by allowing mseyfl to be alive enough to make these things. I communicate with myself, dig deep into my mind, pull out those primordial things that fit together to create ideas, adn animate them with my own sensibilities. That is what my art is.
I’m thankful I’m able to do this. I’m so very thankful that I can discover freely, and search for inspiration and new ideas constantly. All I want is to be alive. I want to live in this world and be happy and give love and give life to others, give them meaning through the things I make. If I can do that I am content.
I’m thankful to be a writer because if I wasn’t I would probably be dead. Writing kept me alive in a dark time, and it pulled me out of that hole. I was allowed to live again. I fell back in love with the process. I learned to discover my process. I’m still learning that, and trying out new things, making joyful and frustrating discoveries searching for the things that help and hinder me. Life is coming together, and living isn’t nearly as hard as it used to be. I’m grateful to have a family who loves and cares about me, who believes in the things that I do, and who will help see me into my next phase of life, this scary, precarious life of being a writer. I’m thankful to be a writer because, well, I’m an artist, and a true artist can’t imagine a life lived without making art. Writing helped me find the art that speaks to me in a deep and meaningful way. It is the art I cannot imagine my life without. I truly, deeply, madly love it, and all that it has given me this year. In all of its frustrations, its low points, its long and dragged out periods of fallow inspiration, I kept going, knowing that life wouldn’t stop for me. I kept writing because inspiration is real, but it has to find you working. I kept going because I felt better when I did, no matter how tough the writing was. I kept going because writing is an intimate thing that allows me to discover myself in ways that I didn’t think were possible. I kept going because to stop was to give in to everyone who doubted me. I kept going because there’s no reason to stop anymore. I kept going because people who care about me believe in me deeply, and I can’t disappoint them.
I kept going bevies it was the right thing to do. I’m a writer. Writers tend to write. If I’m a writer, that means I have to write. I have to hold myself to the act of creation, to push myself to get better. I have to see everything that makes me less, push it aside, and improve those things. I have to keep writing to get the worlds out. I have eot be mindful of the words I do type, and see them on the page, and know that even if it’s not the best right now, no one ever sees these words. They get rewritten until they’re better. I know that’s something I can do. I can get better. I can be a better writer. I can tell myself that I am able to live my life as a writer and push beyond my own limits and not get discouraged and grow and blossom into the person that I know I can be and it’s so important to be that person because I want to be a success and success means living as a writer and not being ashamed of it and being the person who au truly want to be in life and there is no better thing that nt.

Why It’s Important

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Why do I do what I do? I’ve thought about that a lot, and most of the answers don’t seem to get at the whole thing.

Part of it is a passion for writing. I like it when people see what my writing, and their reactions always push me forward. I LIKE putting words on the page, I LIKE doing what I’m doing, and I LOVE knowing that people read it. Just getting that thrill of putting my words out there makes me happy. But that’s only part of it.

I keep at it because I believe in doing the work. I want to be a writer, or a blogger, or someone that people know through a specific kind of content. In order to do that, I have to take the time to actually get the work done. Carving out part of my day dedicated to creating content is part of being a creative. Working on your art, learning from what you write, truly pushing to improve with every post—that was something I avoided for a very long time. Making the conscious effort to begin my career as a writer brought on a lot of realizations. Following through on promises made to myself and others, making the time to create, committing to the process, creating with intention and the desire to improve—those were important moments in my growth as a writer. Again, that’s only part of it.

There’s just this sense of wanting to give of myself and give everyone something useful. Anyone audacious enough to write feels like they have something important to say, no matter how much they may try to downplay it. Several thousands of words have been written over the last year, and more in the last decade of my life. I’ve worked through a lot of personal stuff to find my creative groove. Those methods and habits have helped me shape my process into something that allows me to create the best art I can right now, and I’m always working on tweaking it. I want to share those things, along with the fictional fruits of those processes, because I truly believe that they’re important for people to read. Even if only a single person reads my material and takes away something, that will be enough for me. But that’s only part of it.

That’s three parts. Three reasons that writing is important to me.