Category Archives: Random Stream of Consciousness

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.

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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

10 Favorite Books of 2013

**Note:  These are books that I read in 2013, not books that were published this year**

Since I read a ton and it is the end of the year, I thought I’d come out with an obligatory best of 2013 list of books that I’ve read. I’ve broken it up into fiction and nonfiction because I read way more fiction. The small descriptions don’t contain spoilers–just a few thoughts and reasons why I liked the book.

Non Fiction

3. Finally Free by Michael Vick

Despite what you think about Michael Vick, I feel this is a good book for anyone to read. His autobiography maps how he lost everything, and the actions leading up to his fall. He talks about growing up in a bad part of town, football, prison, and so much more.

2. The Kick-Ass Writer by Chuck Wendig

Chuck Wendig’s writing books are fantastic. If you’re a writer looking for a pat on the back, this isn’t for you. Wendig’s style is more of a kick you in the rear sort of thing. He uses humor to keep your attention, all while stuffing your brain with great writing knowledge.

1. Wonderbook by  Jeff VanderMeer

If you’re a writer and you don’t have this book, you’re doing yourself a disservice. I only had to flip through a few pages to know that I’d get my money’s worth. Its diagrams and flowcharts are only the beginning to what the book has to offer. When you get into the text, you realize it is a book for the serious writer who is truly looking to tell a great story. The book serves as a large fountain of ideas to think about as you’re writing/editing your book.

Fiction

7. Divine Misfortune by A. Lee Martinez

This is a fun book based on a simple but unique idea. The idea is that any human can pick a specific Deity as if it were an item at a department store. You get the benefits from having said deity, but it also comes with a cost.

6. Hearts in Atlantis by Stephen King

I went on a big Stephen King reading binge this year, and this book was one of my favorites. It’s actually a collection of novellas. I know what you’re thinking ‘Yeah Ben, I saw Hearts in Atlantis, and the movie was terrible’. Yes, the movie was terrible. The book, however, is very entertaining–especially if you’re familiar with The Dark Tower series.

5. 11/22/63 by Stephen King

I was surprised by how much I liked 11/22/63. It’s a book where the main character travels back into time to stop the Kennedy assassination.  Life gets harder for him the closer it comes to 11/22/63. King does a great job in keeping with the feel that you’re really in the past.

4. The Emperor’s Edge by  Lindsay Buroker

Although I’ve yet to finish the series (it’s on my to-do list), The Emperor’s Edge was a pleasant surprise. It follows a young woman and her crew of misfits as they try to stop people from killing the Emperor. Best thing about this book: it’s free on Amazon as an ebook. Check it out…you won’t regret it.

3. The Long Walk by Richard Bachman/Stephen King

I love reading Stephen King novels, but they don’t scare me like they do other people. It’s not that I’m not afraid of anything, but his classic novels (IT, Carrie, Cujo, Salem’s Lot, etc.) deal with things that could never happen. That doesn’t scare me. However, this book does. Why? Because it’s a dystopian fiction novel centered around a very simple premise similar to The Hunger Games. Each year 100 kids are chosen to go on the long walk. When you can’t walk any longer, they shoot you. The walk goes on until only one person is left.

2. Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig

I heard of Wendig through his blog, and it was earlier this year when I decided to check out Blackbirds. This book is fantastic. It follows an unlikable yet compelling character Miriam as she struggles with her ‘gift’ of seeing how everyone she comes into contact with will die.

1. Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

This is my favorite book that I’ve read all year–one of my favorite SK books outside of the Dark Tower series. I initially wanted to compare it to The Shining, but found early on that the story was completely different. Yes, it follows Dan, but this time, he’s trying to save a little girl, all while battling with his own deep character flaws. I didn’t want King to follow up any of his classic books, but after reading this, I’d love to see more of them.

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.

Defending the 99 cent ebook

I hate it. I really do. You write for months, edit for longer, struggle to get legit beta readers, pay for editing, then realize that people only take chances on new authors if they can get a book for super cheap–if not free.

I listened to authors say that KDP select was the way to go. Make your book free, shoot up the rankings, then sell a bunch of books when you come off of the free promotion. It didn’t happen like that. I was number one or two in many free categories, and gave away 2,500 total, but that didn’t translate to sales after the promotion. I’m hoping that It’ll translate to reviews, but you never know.

99 cents is a frustrating price when you’ve worked hard to put out a professional quality book, but if it’s the only way to get an audience, it’s something that you have to do. I plan on writing many more books, so gaining an audience is my #1 priority right now. As much as I hate the fact that writing, music, and art in general is devalued these days,  I concede to the strategy of giving some work away in order to gain an audience.

For now, I’m taking the drug dealer approach–the first one is free (or almost free).