Category Archives: Questionable Writing Tips

Pirate My Book

webSeriously–do it.

Downloading books for free is wrong, right? It devalues books and doesn’t give an author his/her due for their work, right?

Not always. I want my name out there, but the biggest ebook site in the world won’t let me give it away (without me waiting for them to price match), so here it is. You can download it as a pdf from Slideshare. Or you can get it as an ebook on Smashwords.

It’s a collection of flash fiction that I posted on this site before anyway.

Enjoy! Let me know what you think.

 

 

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Writing/Running Mix

382058_623672603320_333651482_nPeople have asked me how in the world I find time to train for half-marathons, marathons, and write novels, all in my spare time.

Quick answer: Like I’ve mentioned in a previous blog post, you don’t find time for anything, you make time.

Not so quick answer: Because they feed off of each other.

Huh?

Feed off each other?

Both activities take hours every week. Hours that I could be spending watching the latest episodes of Real Housewives of Topeka, Kansas—or something like that.

Running and writing feed off one another for a few simple, but critical reasons. If you can sit down and write a novel in a few months, you have the discipline to train for a ten-mile run in the same span of time.

1. Both take a ridiculous amount of patience.

Writing a novel takes a ton of patience. Despite popular opinion, you can’t write a good novel in a weekend. You can’t write a good novel in a week. Hell, sorry NaNoWriMo, but you can’t in a month either. A novel is a block of stone you have to chip away at. You can get a few chunks of it in a few heavy swings, but you’ll often be overwhelmed and burnt out. It’s best to take your time and settle into your work. Take the right amount of time to edit and revise. That’s the most important part of writing anyway.

Distance running is the same thing. You can’t go out and run ten miles your first day out. You may be able to sprint a quarter mile and knockout a large chunk quickly, but that will tire you out. Developing the skills for distance running helps me sit down in front of the computer and do the work I need to before I start my day job every day.

2. Physical exertion breeds creativity.

There may be a study that proves this. On the contrary, there may be a study that says this statement is completely full of shit. But I can’t count how many great writing ideas I’ve had in the middle of a long, gut-checking run.

I feel that my best ideas come when I’m struggling to keep my body moving forward. I don’t know if this is because I’m not trying to think of creative ideas—I’m just trying not to pass out. “Light Bulb Moments” seem to happen when you’re focusing somewhere else.

3. Running and reading work well together.

I know what you’re thinking.

“Ummmm … Nope! You can’t run with a book in your hand.”

I smile at you. I look to the smart phone you’re holding in your hand, and politely ask you if you’ve ever heard of audible.

You tell me that reading audio books isn’t reading at all.

I tell you that you’re full of shit. The purpose of any writing is to convey information. Words put a picture in your head, and make you imagine what the book says. As Stephen King says, it’s a version of telepathy. Whether you consume the words with your eyes or ears, it doesn’t really matter much, does it? Stephen King also said that if you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time or skills to write. Why not read while improving your body?

4. They both teach you how to ‘junk punch’ self-doubt.

Every time I lace up my running shoes, I doubt that I’ll be able to reach my goal for the day. Likewise, when I sit in front of the computer, I doubt that I’ll type fast enough to reach my daily 1,000-word count before I have to go to work. I doubt my words will resonate with my desired audience. I don’t think I’ll run any faster on the trail than I ran two months ago.

Nearly every time I punch that doubt in the face and break through all doubts. It’s freeing. The next time I open my word processor or step out of my front door with my camel pack on, I do so with more confidence. Doing either activity enables me to believe in myself that much more the next time. There’s nothing better than working with confidence.

That’s the main thing these two activities bring into my life—self confidence. No amount of time and money can buy that.

Free, Fast, and Fearless – Three Fs to Accomplishing Anything

20130720_103323You can catch me running on the trails in the greater Denver area. I’ll run past you, blasting an audiobook so loud that you’ll be able to hear the narration yourself for a few seconds. You might also see me sitting in a coffee shop, writing until my fingers go numb during a marathon two-hour writing session (marathon for me at least).
I’ve been horrible at updating this site in 2014—no excuses from me. Sure, I’ve been uber productive in exceeding my fiction word count goal to this point, but there’s still no excuse.
Free, Fast, and Fearless became my focus in 2014. Running trails is freeing. Writing books and stories—even more so at times. Things have been going fast too. I feel fast on the trails, and I write one thousand words in thirty-five minutes of writing. Fearless is writing one thousand words, not knowing if what you’re writing is a steaming pile of shit not worth reading. Fearless is hanging in there the first three miles of a ten-mile run, enduring the pain (that everyone feels, believe it or not), in order to feel the euphoria that eventually comes out of finishing ten miles faster than you ever have. Continue reading Free, Fast, and Fearless – Three Fs to Accomplishing Anything

Crushing your 2014 writing goals

A lot of people strive to write a novel as a new year’s resolution, but how easy is it to let the goal fall through the cracks? We all have jobs, families, friends, and a social life, so it’s not always easy to find time to get your daily writing done.

How does anyone get this done? They make it a habit. I don’t know many other writers personally, but I’m pretty sure that those who put out new material fairly often make sure they have writing figured into their day. Every day. It’s easy to make excuses, we all do. But if you want to write a novel by the end of the year, here are a few steps that I found helpful when I accomplished my goals in 2013.

Make it a habit

I can’t say this enough. If it’s not on your to-do list every day, it’s easy to put it off.

Oh, I’ll write tomorrow.

I can just do it all this weekend.

I’ll wait until the summer when I have more time. 

Wrong! The more that you put it off, the easier it is to keep putting it off. I find that if I don’t write on a given day, I don’t feel like I’ve accomplished much of anything. Once you have that mindset, it’s easy to keep it going. Until then, develop your habit of writing daily.

Know that it won’t be any good, and make your peace with it

Yes, we all think we’re going to write the next great American novel right out of the gate. We’re not. The first draft is going to be filled with typos, grammar errors, punctuation errors, etc. Doubly so if it’s your first time writing a substantial amount.

That’s okay…that’s what editing is for. When you write your first draft, don’t go back and read it until you’re done. You’ll only get discouraged. Instead, just keep plowing forward as if you’re writing the best book known to man. It makes the process so much quicker.

Watch less T.V.

We all love T.V. It’s a great, quick way of receiving stories and information. That being said, it’s a big waste of time for the most part.

I don’t know what it is–put me in front of the television, and I can’t get anything productive accomplished. It’ll hypnotize you. If you want to get serious about writing, you’ll need to sacrifice some T.V. time.

Read more

It seems counter-intuitive. Reading takes time away from writing, right?

Kind of. But it’s necessary for inspiration (for me at least). It also allows you to see the tricks of the trade: what works, what doesn’t, how to _____, etc. Reading about writing is good, but I think reading the types of stories that you want to write can be even better.

Make it visible

As in, make sure you know how close you are to your writing goals. I suggest word count goals since that’s the easiest way to tell whether or not you’re getting anything done as a writer.

I have:

  • Daily writing goals (1,000 words when I’m working on a project)
  • Project writing goals
  • In 2014, I have a yearly writing goal (300,000 words)

I know that I’ll need to write a few books and a lot of blog posts as well. I have a spreadsheet marking my yearly goal, and I utilize the ‘project target’ window in Scrivener (the writing software I use) to track the others. Do whatever works for you, but make sure that you track your progress. Hell, even offer rewards to yourself when you hit certain milestones if that’s motivates you.

 

I hope this post was helpful to those that want to knock out a manuscript in 2014.

Happy writing!

Making Time To Write

When my friends ask me, “How do you find the time to write?” I don’t always know how to respond without sounding like a condescending jackass. I usually come up with some simplified (but true) recitation of how long it takes to write a book, which goes something like this:

It takes me just under 45 minutes to write 1,000 words of fiction (assuming it’s a long project. It takes a longer for short fiction because I have to think up the entire plot on the fly.) I do this by waking up an hour early for work and getting it done then. I do the same on the weekend. So it takes *does quick math* around two an a half months to write a full length novel if you go at it every day.

To others that don’t write, I leave out the part that editing takes at least as long (twice as long for me). I leave out the hours of reading that it takes to gain the competency that it takes to write a novel. However, the fact remains. With a little discipline and an early wake up call, you can write a book…period.

One of my biggest pet peeves is when people say they want to do something, but they don’t have time for it. Whether it’s working out, writing a book, reading, etc., it’s annoying to me. Why? If you want something bad enough, you’ll make time for it. There’s not some benevolent angel passing out additional hours to a lucky few. Everyone has to use the time that they have. You can wake up early, go to bed late, do it on your lunch break, sacrifice *gasp* an hour or so of T.V., sacrifice that hour or so you bullshit around on the computer each day (I’m pretty sure everyone does this.) Get creative–but don’t say that you don’t have enough time. Instead, say that it’s not that important to you.

 

We all have 24 hours in the day; use them wisely.

Rant over.