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.

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,

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.

Coffee? Maybe

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I don’t drink as much coffee as I used to, which is weird. Since I started writing my coffee intake has lessened, and I’ve actually managed to write even more than I did when I was drinking up to six cups a day!
The obsession writers have with coffee confuses me sometimes. My intake was well over normal, and I felt like I just couldn’t get anything done. Just a bundle of jitters and frayed nerves.
Cutting back definitely helped me out a lot. I was finding focus coming more easily to me during my working sessions, especially when I started a new round of medication. The process was all about finding what worked for me and how that could improve my life.

These days, I have my morning cup and that’s really it. I sometimes treat myself with an afternoon cup on colder weekends, but that’s about it. Coffee and I are finally good.

How I Got Here

I’ve been reading for a very long time, probably my whole life. I don’t remember the very earliest stuff, but there’s a good chance it involved some kind of book and some kind of reading. My parents liked to tell me that I taught myself how to read, which I’m still skeptical about, but I was reading beyond what a kid my age should be reading from the start.
Writing was also a big part of my life, and always has been. For as long as I could hold a pencil, I was telling stories with words. They weren’t all very good—in fact, I’d venture that exactly none of them were good—but I was writing. Putting pen or pencil to paper and creating some kind of world with nothing but my own imagination was the most thrilling feeling to me. I couldn’t give it up, no matter how hard I tried. Grades suffered, parents got angry, teachers shook their head at my untapped “potential”, but I kept going. There wasn’t anything else but the writing, and if I wanted to be a writer, how could I do that if I didn’t write?
During my high school years, I read everything I could get my hands on—fantasy novels, science fiction, terrible manga, terrible comic books, classic comic books, secretly classic comic books that more people should read (*cough*Milligan/Allred x-comics *cough* the fact that they don’t get the recognition they deserve is criminal *cough*), literary fiction, old books, poetry—just all of it. I played a lot of RPG’s too—KOTOR II and FF IX were favorites of mine that I played over and over. I discovered George R. R. Martin and devoured the first three ASOIAF books in rapid succession (still waiting on that one). Neil Gaiman’s Sandman showed me that comics could be more than superheroes. Watchmen showed me that superheroes could be both more and less than superheroes in the most moving and heartbreaking ways possible. Fiction and creating it were all I wanted out of life, and that seemed to be moving somewhere.
And in all that time, those 4 years of high school, when I saw Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man, and dug through piles of used back issues of comic books, I started to create my own heroes. They were little more than rips of other characters—a Cyclops copy here, a self-insert mutant who could touch Rogue skin to skin without being injured there—but the ideas kept flowing out of me. I made little teams of teenage heroes, each with their own *extreme* power, and called one of them…
[I’m doing this for 1.) dramatic emphasis, and because 2.) I’ve only typed this out a few times before in public, and 3.) it has never gotten easier or less embarrassing.]
Tiem Pzycotik. Having no internal editor or sense of shame, I pressed on, fleshing them out and making more and more stories. There was a world being created, and I didn’t want to lose it. Superheroes and all of their flashy and not-flashy powers, set against villains who were evil zombie-robot-samurai or just plain mutant zombies, or even just a guy with a robot suit and a bad attitude. It was all mine, it was all here, and I was going to stay on it.
Life got in the way after high school. I made several mistakes in trying to figure out my place in the world, first listening to too many outside voices and shoving myself into a place where I didn’t fit. I tried to study music for about a year, had a nervous breakdown, and failed miserably. I came back to my parents’ home as a failure and a disappointment.
This story is really getting away from me, I think we’ll have to continue it another day.

GET GOING

So you’ve decided to write a novel. Great!
Where the hell do you start?
That’s easy—you start at the beginning, of course. Not the beginning of the novel, but the beginning of your process, which you’re going to discover over the course of creating this thing.

1. Get Started

This is the part of the creative journey that will never change for any writer, no matter what. All creative projects—a novel, short story, novella, serial work—they all have a beginning. Every writer has to take that first step into the unknown. That’s scary! There’s a whole world of prose waiting to be written, and you’re staring at all of it floating there in your head, just waiting to be put down on the page. Trust me, you’re not alone. All of us, regardless of status or ability, grapple with this part of writing each time a new work begins.
So how do you combat this? What are some of the ways you can avoid the paralyzing fear of getting down to the work that needs to be done?

There’s a simple answer, and a complex one. I’ll get the simple one out of the way first.

BUTT IN CHAIR. WORDS ON PAGE. That’s all there is to it, and there’s no substitute for that basic tenet of writing. If you take nothing else away from my advice, I want you to know that is the true secret to writing. Everything else is just fluff designed to make that part easier.

But, I promised you a more complex answer, and a complex answer you shall have. Here goes!

Find something you’re passionate about.
Brainstorm ideas.
Don’t worry about the quality of the idea.
Pick something to latch onto.
Don’t beat yourself up about it.
Trust yourself.
Be critical, but don’t be cynical.

That’s it. I’ll go into each point in depth later on.

Boredom

Boredom, idleness, all of that “not working” time. Sometimes it feels like it takes up a good portion of our days, others, almost none. It takes many forms.
That time at home, when there’s nothing to do, and you don’t want to push yourself to act. You just sit and take in whatever’s at hand. You let your mind wander and drift away, because there’s nothing demanding your attention.
Those waiting times, in line, in lobbies, in traffic, those liminal between spaces, where you’re separate from the world in a way, caught between reality before and reality after. It can feel tense, the minutes ticking by slowly, oh so slowly, waiting for that moment to come, when you’re called on, or the cars lurch forward ever so slightly, or when things just finally break from their stasis and just MOVE.
There’s the late night boredom, eyes open in a world gone to sleep. A world lit by streetlights or starlight or moonlight, but a world where the familiar has receded into the darkness, rendering it unfamiliar.
I like those moments. I savor them.