Tag Archives: Arts

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!

There’s a Storm Coming

Announcement:

I’ve decided to compile a lot of my flash fiction and short stories into a free eBook. I’m re-editing (if that’s a word) each story, then uploading the book to all eBook sites for free. Be sure to look for it later this month.

This is the fantastic cover that I got at authormarketingclub.com

It’s a great resource for all authors. If you have a book, be sure to check it out. They have two services: free and premium. You’ll find value in either one.

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.

Flash Fiction Thursday: Spider Legs

Flash Fiction ThrusdayOkay, okay, this isn’t really a flash fiction story. I entered Chuck Wendig’s flash fiction contest this week. The challenge–Write a horror story in only THREE sentences. Is it a lazy way for me to complete Flash Fiction Thursday? Sure. But I finished a book last night, so give me a break!

http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2013/10/11/flash-fiction-challenge-horror-in-three-sentences/

The winner gets a prize. Wish me luck.

Spider Legs

The heavy breathing on the back of her neck sent the feeling of seven sets of spider legs crawling across her spine. When Denise looked back, she wouldn’t be able to make out a shape in the nearly pitch-black room, but she knew he’d be there. Slowly, Denise wheeled her head around only to realize she was wrong—the light shone off his white teeth as well as the cold steel of the knife in his hand.

Flash Fiction Thursday–Wrong Sample

Here’s another flash fiction story from this random plot generator (Great tool for flash fiction by the way):

http://www.archetypewriting.com/muse/generators/plot.htm

I received this scenario:

random

I played football all the way through college, so I had fun with this football related story.

Enjoy!

Wrong Sample

“What the hell do you mean, ‘Do I do it?’ Of course I do,” Curtis said. He shot Henry a strange look. “Hell, we all do. You can’t take a beating week after week and not have something that gets you ready to play when the time comes. I know you’re a fan of the game, so don’t let it surprise you. I came to you because I hear you’re the best—that’s all.”

Henry nodded. “Okay, we can get you fixed up. Your test is today, right? If it’s tomorrow, new urine now won’t help.”

“Two hours away. This isn’t my first rodeo.”

Satisfied, Henry took the needle and jabbed it into the place where he thought the bladder was. He didn’t have any formal medical experience, however, he was Cedar Ridge’s expert in urine transfer.

Curtis winced. For a split second, Henry thought he had messed up and stuck him in the wrong place. But when the almost clear urine came out of the tube, he relaxed. “That’s the tainted stuff. We’ll flush it all out of your system, then replace it with clean stuff that won’t test positive.”

“Is it—”

Yours? Curtis was going to finish with, but broke off his sentence instead. He didn’t want to know.

Henry raised his eyebrow, in an effort to get the question out of his ‘patient’, but Curtis wasn’t having it—he remained silent. This made Henry uncomfortable, so he made an attempt at small talk. “So what are you taking anyway?”

Curtis sighed. “I don’t know, to be completely honest with you. Obviously some P.E.D. that my trainer gives me for my shoulder, but I don’t know the specifics—something hydrate, I think.”

“You don’t know? Have you thought about any side effects?”

“I make five million a year for running at eleven guys that wanna take my head off. Do you really think I give a shit about side effects?”

Henry smiled. “You don’t exactly run at them. You run around the for the most part. That’s why you get paid five million to do it.”

With that, Curtis snorted laughter. “I guess, man.”

“It’s true. You’re actually my favorite player, and the Mammoths are my favorite team. That game you rushed for 250 and four touchdowns was insane! Have you on my fantasy team too. You’re a beast.”

“That’s not what Trey Schwartz thinks. Trey wants to take my job—with my shoulder acting up on me, he just might. Just need a bridge till the off-season. You’re the bridge. I hope you’re as good as they say.”

“That guy is a fucking scrub. He’s neve—”

“He’s a professional football player, man. You know how hard it is to be the last player on the fifty-four man roster? You know how good you gotta be to just ride the bench the whole season? The man’s got skills. If I don’t stay healthy, he’s gonna be the guy you try to get on your fantasy team next year, believe me.”

“I’m just saying, he’s not you—nobody’s Curtis Gardner.”

Curtis shook his head. “Well, Curtis Gardner is sitting in some slap-dick wannabe clinic, getting his urine replaced so he won’t lose his job. Curtis Gardner is thirty years old—old man for a running back. Just trying to hold on another year or so.”

Henry took the needle out of his torso.

“We done here?” Curtis asked.

“Yep.”

“How much do I owe you?”

“No charge for my favorite player. Maybe seats at will call if you can manage.”

“Done,” Curtis said. Henry couldn’t tell if it was a serious voice or not, but he chose not to ask.

***

Curtis stood in the middle of the bathroom in nothing but his towel.

“Drop ‘em,” the doctor said. His team doctor forced the players to stand it front of him, stark naked, in order to ensure an honest test. Although he claimed it was league rules, Curtis doubted it for some reason.

Curtis obliged, anyway, and relieved himself into the small cup.

Henry instructed him to hold his urine until the test. His bladder remained swollen for a full two hours until he was finally able to release the pressure during the test. Usually he had trouble peeing if someone was standing next to him in a stall, but now, with a man squatted in front of him like an umpire in baseball, he had no issue with stage fright.

After the test, the team doctor set him outside in the lobby. Curtis grabbed an issue of Sport Illustrated with his own picture on the cover and thumbed through its contents. He didn’t read the magazine, but merely flipped through all its pages so that he would be able to see all of the pictures the colorful magazine had to offer. Before he even got all of the way through the magazine, the doctor called him back into the office.

Shit! He usually just walks in here and says clean, then sends me on my way, Curtis thought. He looked around the room with dubious eyes, then followed the doctor.

“Did I test positive for something, or what? I’ve been taking this new protein shake lately, so I hope it’s all good.”

The doctor waved off his explanation. “Nope, nothing like that,” he said, then smiled. Curtis didn’t like the smile on his face, but he grinned along with the man just the same. “Trey told me to look at your sample veeerry closely, so I did.”

That fucking guy, Curtis thought. He didn’t let his frustration show externally, however.

“So if it’s not positive, then what’s the deal?”

“I just want to say congratulations,” the doctor said.

Curtis raised his eyebrows.

“You’re pregnant. Coach Winters asked me to tell you to clean out your locker, and turn in your playbook.”