Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Creating a Writer's Board

I’m trying something new in order to organize the jumbled mess that is my brain. I created a writing board with a corkboard in my office. What’s on the writing board?

Index cards with brief descriptions of my next three scenes. I’ve found this helps keep the story going and I’m never at a loss for what comes next.

Story titles/ideas for my next 5-6 novellas and novels.

Reminders to stay active on Twitter, Facebook, etc.  I tend to drift from social media from time-to-time. Also some cool websites for writers.

A list of potential blog topics.


Some favorite writing quotes. Currently I’ve got Chuck Wendig’s “Inkslinger’s Invocation” up there now.

The writing board is basically there to keep me somewhat organized and to keep ideas visible. What else could go on a writing board?

A detailed outline, whether it's on paper or individual index cards

Lists of details regarding the characters in your current novel

Writing prompts

Pictures of locations/characters in your story

Bits of research that you need to access frequently

Maps of story locales

Fast food menus

The Mayan Calendar

Pretty much anything you like.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

When You Feel Like Giving Up On Writing


Writing is a lonely game at times. I’ve been at it for twenty years. There have been times I’ve wanted to give it up, wondering if there were better ways to spend my time. I’ve never quit writing, and I don’t imagine I ever will.  But if you’re like me, the following thoughts may creep into your head and make you question why you write:


Problem: The writing has gotten dull, stale.

Solutions: Write in another genre. Start a side project, maybe a short story or novella. Read something by one of your favorite writers to kick you in the ass and get going again. Take a few days off and come back to your current project.


Problem: Everyone else is doing better than me.

Solutions: Stop paying so much attention to other writers. Be happy for their success. Your time may be coming.  In the digital age, writers have been given time.  With e-books, no longer does your book disappear from a store shelf in a month to make room for the next wave. Success in this business takes time.  

Focus on the writing.

Problem: My sales numbers suck.

Solutions:

Quit defining yourself by sales numbers. Focus on telling stories. Try and have a little fun. Remember why you started writing.

Write more books. How do you know the next book won’t be the one to goose your sales?

Write better books. Study books on craft to improve (I recommend Chuck Wending, James Scott Bell, and Sol Stein for books on craft).  Never stop learning the craft.

Tweak shit. Change book covers, re-write book descriptions, offer free stories on your blog or website.  


Problem: I have writer’s block.

Solution: Write the next sentence. And the one after that.  Worry only about the next scene. You surely can write a three or four page scene, can’t you? When that’s done, go to the next one. Scenes stack up and eventually build a novel.


Problem: I suck. My writing sucks. I’m a fraud. I can’t write.

Solution: Kill the negative little troll that sits on your shoulder and spews this kind of talk. Go ahead, punch him in the throat if you want. Unfortunately, friends and family can feed the troll. I had a very talented student in one of my writing classes. She had what it took to write professionally. The sad thing was her family thought her writing was a waste of time. She never finished any thing she started as a result. Someone says writing is a waste of time? Fuck ‘em. Who are they to tell you that?


And if you want to quit, ask yourself: Am I better off not writing? I’m going to guess the answer is no. Keep going.

Excerpt of Enter the Night

I thought I'd put up an excerpt of my work-in-progress. It's called Enter the Night. The first chapter is below. It combines reali...