Turning dreams into gold, one jot & scribble at a time.

Latest

Fit To Write

Writers don’t get days off.

I mean, staff writers and salaried folks tend to work certain hours. If you’re writing freelance or working towards a goal in fiction, you can and should be cramming words into every spare moment available. Even when a writer is sick, or dealing with external issues, time must always be carved out for the writing.

I’ve been trying to do that lately, and I keep running into issues or out of energy. So I am turning to you, hivemind, for your help.

Writers: how do you push through the negative things between you and your words? It is just a matter of writing through the pain? What inspires you? What makes things better when it feels like they’re getting worse?

From the Vault: “What do you mean, I’m doing it wrong?”

Still on the hunt for a dayjob, still struggling day to day, and still encountering more failures than successes. In light of that, here’s a post from 5 years ago about dealing with failure.


Human beings, being mortal creatures, are bound to mess things up sooner or later. This is true in every endeavor an individual undertakes. And sometimes, it falls to others to inform us that we’re incorrect in the manner with which we’ve been proceeding.

In other words, sooner or later, you’re going to be told you’re doing it wrong.

Cheez

Marital disagreements, family drama, storytelling, cheeseburger construction, you name it. It’s going to go pear shaped on you. It could be because of outside influence or because of your direct actions, but the bottom line is the end result is going to be a mess. In writing terms, maybe your protagonist is more annoying than you think. In family terms, you could have maybe timed or worded something a bit differently. Regardless of how you arrived at this point of failure, the question is not so much how you failed but how you recover from it.

First, of course, you need to realize you’ve failed. Sometimes this is obvious in the moment of value – those “oh shit” moments when your sphincter tightens as you brace for the physical or emotional impact that comes on as a result of the events that’ve been botched. Other times, you could be cruising along happy and content, and it’s pointed out to you that something isn’t working out the way you imagined. You might rail against the idea, but when you calm down and re-examine the situation, you’ll see what they’ve pointed out and agree with them.

But rather than dwelling on the failure itself, a more constructive goal is: how do you correct the failure?

That was easy.

Just like admitting you’re wrong, fixing the problem isn’t always easy. A workplace misstep can haunt you for quite a long time depending on the nature of the management. Some family members may be forgiving but others might have long memories that focus especially on slights. And finding a failing in a work may be as simple as excising a line or going back and doing a complete rewrite.

Funnily enough, this post is turning out to be something of a failure. It’s ambling a bit more than I expected and seems to be talking about things in a very broad sense rather than having the tight, narrow focus required for good writing. Hopefully upcoming posts will be a bit more cohesive.

In the meantime, here’s a parting bit of advice:

When I realize I’ve hit a wall of fail, at times I picture getting the bad news from Carla Gugino.

Carla Gugino

Somehow, that helps.

500 Words on Goals

Courtesy The Oatmeal
Shut up, Blerch.

A lot of people have long-term goals. Finishing school, meeting a deadline, saving up for a house or car, starting a business, the list goes on. But there are short-term goals, too, and they are just as vital.

Like long-term goals, these take a variety of forms. Write a number of words. Run a certain distance. Spend less than a given amount in total, or just at the grocery store. Beat a personal record in exercise or leisure activity. When long-term goals seem out of reach, or silence is the answer to questions addressing them, short-terms goals are even more important.

There are a lot of things that can happen over the course of a day. Plans can change. All sorts of events change the schedule of a given timeframe. And changes can be detrimental to goals. Factor in things like fatigue, sickness, distraction, or emotion, and the completion of goals can be thrown into question.

I struggle with this quite a bit. I used to be on a regular schedule for exercise, and have been attempting to regain some momentum in that along with meeting daily writing goals. My body isn’t quite up to a daily regimen of running yet, and my legs are doing quite a bit of protesting. And then there’s the Blerch to consider, pictured above.

I recently picked up The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons I Run Long Distances, and I feel an odd kinship with Matthew Inman. I’m not an artist, nor is my comedic timing as good as his, but I have a similar habit of treating myself like a circius animal. When I do a “trick”, my inclination is to reward myself. And when I fail, my incination is to get angry with myself.

This is probably not the most healthy of reactions. I know, logically, that a body not used to regular cardiovascular exercise needs time to adapt. I also know that there are emotional and mental complications to consider. I am often fighting through a wall of white noise, in my own head at least, which can make keeping myself focused on my own goalposts difficult. External ones, like hard due dates and deadlines, are much easier to clearly work towards. Those I set on my own tend to give me more difficulty. In my rational mind, however, I know that my difficulties are born from inside myself, and therefore, they can be beaten.

Just like outrunning the Blerch, I can, in essence, outwrite the white noise.

This weekend is going to be a busy for me. I hope to get the site refitted, work more on things worthy of Patreon and your attentions, and get back on track with things like this solid blog schedule and maintaining a consistent word couunt on a day to day basis. The holidays are fast approaching, as well, and I will be travelling to my parents’ home at the end of the month. Hopefully, by then, I will have a better handle on my goals.

From The Vault: PT: Handling Rejection

This is as relevant today as it was five years ago. Also, I’ve been running this blog for over five years. Yikes.


I'll be watchin' you!

Maybe you got a letter. It could be something you received electronically. One way or another, a submission or entry upon which you’ve spent time and energy has been rejected. Now, I’m not talking about receiving constructive criticism. That’s always a good thing to get. Iron sharpening iron and all that. What I’m on about is the cold shoulder, either in the form of a bland photocopy of a generic letter or a complete and total lack of recognition for your efforts. It’s like fancying yourself a comedian, telling a joke and waiting for the laughs which never come. It breaks the heart and erodes the soul.

If you’re anything like me… well, you might need a shave. But in terms of this sort of thing, after a few rejection letters or seeing a publication for which you wished to contribute which doesn’t include what you sent, you probably went back over your submission with a fine-toothed comb. What did I do wrong? What could I have done differently? The questions inevitably leave to negative emotions. Maybe you’ll feel put out by the rejection, thinking your work isn’t good enough. There could be some frustration at the difference that ended up existing between what you envision and what you submitted. And maybe getting rejected for whichever time you’ve just been brushed off just pisses you off.

Good.

You will learn by the numbers! I will teach you!

Not to re-tread old ground, but I’ve said over and over that negative emotions do not need to lead to negative outcomes. There a lot of things you can do with your feelings. One thing you should not do, however, is sit on your ass. There’s work to be done.

Pop the hood on your work. Strip out parts that rattle or shake. In other words, take a look at your creation and figure out the parts that work. Maybe you have a character or two that really connect with readers, or you’ve gotten some feedback telling you that a particular passage really hammers home the good things about your writing. Maybe there’s that one shot in your portfolio that really jumps off the page.

What about it works? Why does it connect while the rest of the work falls away? Step back and examine the situation, the environment and the construction of the parts that work. Once you recognize what makes those portions successful, strip out everything else and rebuild the work around that core of goodness. This might mean you only need to make a couple small changes, or it might mean you need to all but start from scratch. Don’t fret, though: declaring a do-over could very well be a step in the right direction.

Cocoa

One thing you don’t want to do is rush. There’s no need. Take a deep breath. Make some cocoa. Instead of tearing down what you’ve done and smashing it around with a wrecking ball, lay it out and take a scalpel to it. In the course of doing so, you’ll find things that you’re proud of in spite of the rejection and you’ll also likely find something that makes you smile and shake your head in that “What the hell was I thinking?” sort of way.

It might also be the case that you can’t bear to look at the project that’s been so callously rejected. That’s understandable. But you still have a bunch of bad feelings that need to get vented. You have the old stand-by responses of games, movies, booze and cocoa but the best thing to do, in my opinion and experience, is to do something in the same creative vein to get you thinking about what your next step will be. It could be back to what caused you to feel this way or it could be in a new direction entirely. You won’t know, however, until you take that step.

Whatever you do, no matter how many things you find wrong with your work, no matter how much cocoa you drink, no matter how many rejections you’ll have to deal with in the future, don’t give up. You’re trying to do something new and different. Creative people are inevitably going to face a great deal of opposition because the environment out in the world is one where creativity is seen as a secondary concern to efficiency or profitability, if creativity is acknowledged at all. You want to be fast in your process, efficient in your use of energy, but it can be difficult to bang out work promptly if you’re wrestling with bad feelings or unsure of where to go next. Don’t worry about that. Worry about getting from bad to good first. Then worry about getting things out quickly.

Don’t quit. Especially if your ideas and the need to express them get you out of bed in the morning and motivate you to expend your time and energy of turning them into reality. Screw the rejection and the idea that your creativity doesn’t matter because it doesn’t help you file TPS reports more efficiently.

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” – Harold Whitman

Drinking your cocoa from a mug of Shakespearean insults doesn’t hurt, either.

Change is Coming

Courtesy norebbo.com

Change is never easy. But it is necessary. Growth and change are what make us alive. They are dynamic elements to existence; without them, we stagnate and remain static, which to me is worse than death. I’ve been meaning to make some changes to this webspace for a while, now, and I think the time is near to do just that.

My plan is to do as some of my contemporaries have done, and move the blog you’re currently reading to a location subordinate to the main page. The main page can then feature my products, my services, my broadcasts, my efforts for fundraising, and all of that good stuff. I think it’s a bit more professional to have that sort of thing front and center, and this sort of thing available if you really want it, but not “all up in your grill” as soon as you plug in my address.

If any folks who’ve made this transition have tips, please let me know! Also if there are good themes to download and/or worth an investment, I’m all ears. I’m hoping that making changes to the site, and to what I can do in terms of telling stories and entertaining people, will make 2015 the best year yet.