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Kevin G Hare

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Don't Fear the Un-Comfort Zone

November 18, 2017

Sometimes, to be better writers, we need to dip outside of our norms and venture into the darker recesses of our minds to create that great fiction story. Not many newbie writers can do it and some of those who can, may not always come back the same. This is writing outside of our comfort zones and touching on topics or characters we think will change how we are looked upon.

This is a fear we must shed for it is our purpose to reach deeper, to go blind into unfamiliar territory so we can create through instinct instead of experience. This makes for a far richer story than writing what you know. A practice either taught to early writers or naturally picked up, we usually begin with subject matter and characters we are familiar with because we can find the words to write. We can describe because we have seen it and we can explain because we have experienced it. Writing what we know is easier and acceptable even because we need some information to build upon. However, it may not always do the story justice because it can be bland and flat. The story is told, the details are given in routine explanation and the finished result reads like a news article. There is no emotion, the story is not experienced through the eyes of a character and empathy cannot be achieved.

I would argue that writing what you know is adequate only for laying a beginner foundation for the mechanics of writing - grammar, sentence structure, punctuation, dialogue, - that sort of stuff. It is a method to get us familiar with creating a story and building a habit of writing. Later, we can use personal knowledge and experience - what we know - to pick out the details we need to create settings and characters but then embellish and fictionalize until our hearts content. We need let loose our imaginations and let that take the story where it will. Writing what you know can be used to authenticate the story but only to the point of sparking that imagination to bring it alive with fiction. It teeters that brink to take our fiction stories from plain narrative to the edges of mystery, drama, intrigue and empathy. Without empathy, we lose a vital connection with our readers.

The rule is show, don't tell. We can tell stories by writing what we know, or we can create experiences as real as any truth. Writing what we don't know allows opportunity for research, learning and new knowledge to bring out that extra sense of realism and credible detail.

Perhaps breaching that comfort zone for the more experienced writer is halted by fear. Perhaps we won't touch certain subjects because we don't want our readers to start believing we harbour such dark practices in real life. For example, a male writer casting a female lead in his book may make him out to be feminine or gay. After all, he would need to be in touch with his feminine side to make the character relatable to readers, right? Or a horror novelist may have a secret serial killer lurking beneath the introverted and already quirky personality. What of the hardcore fantasy writer? Are we mindless dreamers, never having a hold on reality and true responsibility?

If a writer is able to draw out different characters within him/herself, relate with the opposite sex, see through the eyes of different personality, knows what makes people afraid or happy, or has an intuitive understanding of behavioural patterns, then that, friends, is a writer who was meant to be a writer.

I feel obliged to tell you; we as writers, are not what's important to writing. The story matters most. The characters matter, the believability of their actions and decisions. To believe otherwise is to write for the benefit of ego and that we must shed to be the best at our craft. We must not fear under succeeding or over succeeding in our task; creating characters or fantastic places we take to not be good enough or be too good. That would sell the story short. Instead, embrace such things. Get comfortable in the uncomfortable. Get swept up in the 'dark parts' of our psyche for that is essential for the inflection of mood, emotion and detail.

We can write so we can gloat about being great writers, or we can write great stories and let them speak for themselves.

 

Size Doesn't Matter - Too Much

November 11, 2017

I don’t ever remember every being hung up on the quantity of any story I ever wrote, I was always concerned about the quality. That made more sense. From what I’m reading on various posts, many new writers are still stuck on the mechanics of writing, specifically, how long something should be.

How long should my short story be? How long is an average paragraph? How long should a chapter be? How many words should my book have? So many people asking peers the same questions when they should be asking themselves – How good is my story?

Everything you write is going to have a first draft. The first draft is all about getting the idea down on paper, definitely not the time to be stressed about how many words there are. Frankly, it’s not even the time to worry about the quality of the writing, let along the quantity. The idea of writing is to unleash your imagination and creativity in its raw form, unencumbered and unrestricted by the specifics and mechanics of how it’s supposed to be done and how it’s supposed to look and function. Write first, refine later. This is what more experienced writer’s generally express to newer writers when these questions get posted. Because we’ve learned it already.

That’s the side you should be thinking about first.

The second side, addresses the concern some of you reading this post may be thinking about. Goals. For those who use them as a motivator, this is the time when you can think about how many words. It will differ for every writer but the idea is to know how many words you can write in the timeframe you set for yourself and aim for that number. On average, say in NaNoWriMo, roughly 1500 words in a day is a fair goal. That puts out a 50 000 word novel in one month.

So, let’s put things into perspective because I understand the mindset of you newer writers trying to get a grasp on what you are trying to do.

One thing to keep in mind is how to figure out about how long you want your book to be. I try to set mine between 60 000 and 80 000 words, average fiction book length. That means I can write around 12 – 20 chapters about 4000 – 5000 words long. It’s a plan but remember, it’s only a plan, a goal to set for yourself. Don’t get caught up on the number because when it comes to the writing part, your word count will fluctuate because not every chapter will have the same amount of words. Some chapters will have less of your story, some will have more. Your ideas about the story will change and almost write itself as you go. Most of the chapters in Anderoth’s Dragon are that long, some are 3000, a couple are 6000 and the last chapter is 2000. It depends on the story. Specifically, it depends on each short story (chapters) that make up the entire book.

Paragraphs are individual chunks of the story put together to make a chapter. This is how you know when to end a paragraph, when the topic of that paragraph is at an end, start a new one.

Take this example from the first draft of an upcoming trilogy, The Fae Paradox:

The swish followed the blade through the air until it came to a stop in perfect form and steadiness. Seleen’s deep green eyes traced the spine from ricasso to tip. It was a fine sword, it saved her from many a foe and she silently recollected a few of them. She practiced her routine, the rhythmic dance she had known and repeated nearly every day since Brolan first instructed her.

The topic of this paragraph is the sword, the second paragraph is a new topic:

The blade’s twin was stretched out to her other side as if each faced separate opponents and the morning sun rose behind her casting a spiritual glow around her curvy form. The pause was brief as her routine envisioned her foes had attacked at once. She stepped back and turned, tucked her left blade across her stomach while the right was raised to block the downward strike. Her left followed with a slash across a mid-section then her right twisted as her imagined opponent buckled over and exposed its neck to a deadly cut. One opponent down.

Two distinct paragraphs, each with their own topics and only as long as they need to be to describe that topic.

What you are writing and who you are writing for will make a difference in story length as well. The length of short stories will be decided for you if you are submitting to a magazine as they come with submission guidelines you will need to read beforehand. I have chapter length short stories and I have one or two that are only one or two paragraphs long.

Novellas are shorter books, novels can span one book or several, carrying the story throughout an entire series. Take The Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, The Drizzt series from R. A. Salvatore to name a few.

Most fiction is longer than non-fiction due to the topics of non-fiction being easier to digest and absorbed in a shorter book. The information in instructional books are better remembered when they aren’t filled with fluff details just to make the book bigger. Writing for children will result in shorter books than young adults, which will usually be shorter than writing full on, hard core fiction for advanced reading adults.

As writer’s, we have a responsibility to engage the reader and a fine balance must be reached to not over excite or bore them. We want them turning pages, we will achieve that with greater satisfaction through quality over quantity.

The advice I can give is to learn the craft of storytelling and practice daily. Just write. The more we write, the better we get and further cement our understanding of the mechanics. They become second nature, instinctual even. Every reader is as different as every writer and we can’t please them all. We can only tell the best story we can and hope for the best.

If you are going to focus on how many words, remember this – writing will let you know how many words it is, editing will let you know how many words it will be.

Share any thoughts or comments below and all the best with your writing projects!

The Write Time

November 4, 2017

 

I am going to follow up on September's post, The Write Commitment, because I feel there's more to say on the subject. That post was about getting past the excuses of not writing and making the commitment to actually writing - making the write time.

You are only kidding yourself by falling for your own excuses why you can't sit down and write anything. Maybe it's because you're scared. Most of us go through that. You really, really want to sit at your desk or in a chair in a quiet room, shut out all outside distractions and pump out 2000 words to fill a daily word count goal. But you're scared. Scared that what you write won't be good enough; you aren't a good enough writer, or no one is going to read it anyway.

Boo hoo, folks, that's the average life of the writer. Time to gather your composure and face some facts.

No writer ever got to be a better writer but not writing. No writer ever started out writing perfectly, and no writer ever pumps out a perfect first draft. Well, I can't verify that 'cause I don't know every writer so if you are one of those exceptions to the ordinary, please get in touch with me, I'd love to know about your process!

Motivation to write is something you have to find within yourself, not on facebook writing groups. It's ok to ask others what motivates them to get some ideas but in the end, what gives them the urge to write might not work for you. You must know why you want to write. That makes your time the right time to write. Not writing is easy, writing takes effort and no good thing should ever come that easy. Especially writing, as mentioned in the other post, it takes the commitment to the story, the characters and the art of arranging the proper words on the page to affect an emotional response.

That's motivation right there. To tell a story that directs a commitment from a reader to want to know what happens next, to see this thing through to end where the world is at peace again or the main characters have overcome their challenges and can move on having learned something in the process.

That is the purpose of a great story.

Your life may be surrounded by people who will tell you writing is a fruitless pursuit. You will never support yourself or your family with it or you will never amount to anything. Stick with the system, "don't give up your day job". Many of us have heard this before. Many who have completed great works and gone on to be well recognized for their craft have heard this before. They did it anyway because they either wanted it bad enough or they wanted to know for themselves if they could do it - and the only way to learn that was to write.

Sometimes - no - all the time, you need to listen less to the outside voices who tell you what you can't do and do it anyway. Make your writing time. If you have a story to tell, tell it. Don't accept the excuses or distractions. Sure, you have a job and responsibilities, but you also have spare time and that time is yours to do with as you please.

Use it to tell your story. Use it for your Write Time.

Read my post on Overcoming Writer's Block for more motivational tips to help pull that story out of you!

 

POV - Who's Eyes Anyway?

October 27, 2017

POV, or Point Of View, can be one of the most confusing aspects of storytelling for a lot of writers. POV is simply who's eyes through which you want to tell your story. This post aims to clear some of the murkiness of making that choice.

Firstly, it's best for you to know what the different types of point of view.

First Person

This is the easy one. The use of the pronoun 'I' tells all, where your main character tells the story for you, completely through their eyes and their perspective.

 

Second Person

Yes, there is a second person point of view. The pronoun changes to 'you' and is used for instructional writing - such as this blog post.

Third Person

Third person pov is further broken down into at least three sub listings:

Third Person Limited

I also like to refer this one as third person intimate. Using the pronouns 'he' and 'she' yet still telling the story through their eyes. You have insight into the character's thoughts and emotions but no longer having them describe the action.

Third Person Multiple

Same as limited however, the narration is widened to involve multiple characters.

Third Person Omniscient

The narrator takes full god-like authority here and knows everything about everything about every character.

How are each types used?

In my early versionof Anderoth's Dragon, I set up a narrator character, Romulus, to tell the story from an omniscient POV. I originally set the story up as The Romulus Accounts and Romulus was this timeless traveler who recorded history and told the stories. This is where I thought - you know, I actually wasn't thinking about it. I was a new writer and many new writers choose an omniscient POV because we either don't see the world through the eyes of just one of our characters or we just don't have the experience to know the difference. Here is the first paragraph from that original piece:

These accounts are of an age long ago. A time that granted life less to man and more to what come to be known as folktales in your bedtime stories. It was an age very rich of legend. Legends of great deeds and legends of terrible fates. For good or evil, the tales that shape this world need remembering for those who follow. Such is my interest, for here I am known as Romulus of History, collector of legends. Curiousity fuels my vigil and a small measure of guidance is the sum of my interaction in these events. Life is wondrous in its pursuits to maintain itself, mine then is the lonely duty, bound to treasure all the quests pursued by heroes of great and unexpected, and all the pursuits of the followers of dark paths.

This is omniscient. Romulus takes the god-like narrative to tell the story and there isn't really any reason why this wouldn't work because it's set up so the reader knows he already collected all of the information in the tale, he is merely reciting it. It's only the poor craftsmanship of the writing itself that makes it not work so well.

Opening paragraph of the final version:

Dragons and fire and goblins and warriors, these seem to be the only things that hold the short attentions of young boys. Felaney was the mother of these two particular children and she sat in her extravagant chair before the hearth and waited for them to gather their blankets and settle on the floor before her. The large study was the gathering place at the end of each day in the Halstaid Estate. The flames cast lively shadows over the books and rolls of parchment while the light cast a warm, orange aura over the furniture and their occupants. Be it an equally eerie aura, it did impart an ideal setting for stories of adventure. The boys pestered her for the last hour to tell them the story of the flaming dragon that escaped the caverns beneath Locksonon generations ago. Dragons and fire and goblins and warriors, and in this tale, elves as well.

I switched to third person intimate (limited) and removed Romulus as the narrator. He is still part of the story but only as a character now. Here, the scene is told through Felaney's eyes as she perceives things as they happen. There is a reason why I made this change which I detail below.

Here is the opening paragraph from a project I'm just getting started:

It was supposed to be my time of celebration. My time to shout to the world, 'I did something incredible!' and it all evolved around my latest project, the Bio-Resonance Field Generator. I haven't even had time to figure out a proper name for the friggin' thing let alone get an official demonstration set up with the Delegation of Scientific Endeavours before the God-damned troops swooped in and took control over my project. If that wasn't enough, they took me too. The bastards.

I deliberately chose first person for this book because I wanted to go nuts with the character. That means I have to understand this character is the central focus of the entire book. Every action, every scene, every bit of dialogue revolves solely around this one character. We never lose track of him, he never leaves the stage and for that to work, I have to create someone truly memorable.

I think new writers need to understand there is no rule for which perspective to use, there is only a choice. That choice is made by whichever POV suits the story you want to tell and how important the character is you want to tell it. I prefer not to stick with one perspective because I don't think all my stories will work the same. Switching things up from story to story offers the challenge of understanding the structure and proving you can, and it keeps some of your readers wondering what you will come up with next. This won't work for everybody because some readers choose their books on knowing what they'll get. That's just the way it is and we have to accept that as writers.

Know your story, know your characters. How far you widen the distance in point of view, the more you need to know about all your characters. The closer your point of view, the more you need to know about one or two of your characters. When using third person multiple, remember to use some sort of separator when switching between character POVs. A chapter, a horizontal line, an extra line break; anything to que the reader the change is taking place.

Note also, omniscient POV is rarely used in fiction anymore because it does not always allow readers to empathize with characters on a personal level. Readers get pulled into a story because they can relate, they can sometimes believe they are that character. If we do our jobs as writers correctly, the reader becomes committed to the outcome. If your readers get committed to your characters, they get committed to the story.

 

Overcoming Writer's Block

October 21, 2017

Writer's block is that nasty demon that creeps up and sucks the creativity out of us until we can no longer find the words to print on the page. It can be a devastating and debilitating experience to endure and I see post after post on Facebook on how to quell this carefree critter.

It may want to make us quit our project and never write again. It causes us stress because we want to write, we want to see the story through to completion and that extra stress causes extra blockage for the creative flow.

I know, I've been there. At some point it happens to us all but have no fear great wordsmiths, there is a light at the end of this tunnel.

You might be surprised about what causes writer's block and therein may be the key to resolution and a sudden gush of creativity. There is a myriad of conditions that may bring on a block and they will be different for different writers but understanding the problem may help relieve it. Some of the basic conditions may include fear, thoughts like 'I don't think my writing is good enough', 'no one will want to read this anyway', 'is this chapter too short', 'is my book too long', 'writing a book is more daunting than I thought'. These are easy enough to work around - just don't worry about them. No writer ever started out knowing how to write and wrote best sellers the moment they picked up the pen. If they did, well, that was an outstanding condition, a prodigy amongst the common. You, me and all the others joining facebook groups to learn about writing are just beginning a new journey. One that takes practice, experience and a knowledge of crafting a story. Of course, spelling and grammar also take precedence but that's part of learning any new trade. The bottom line I think writer's need to understand is what the rest of the world is going to think about your story comes after. Nobody can form an opinion on something that does not exist. There are no set rules to book length or chapter size, you get a feel for that as you go. There's no right or wrong way to outline or develop a story, find a method that works best for you, it's all about getting your thoughts down so you can figure out how your story will flow and move forward in an intriguing manner. Write it first, then you can be concerned with how the world will think about it because it will be finished.

Maybe you feel you need to edit too much as you write and that slows you down, maybe the time when you sit to write doesn't feel right. You don't have the mindset to get your brain basting with ideas. The first draft of your book is going to be rough, know this and get it into your mind. The sole purpose of the first draft is get the story out of your head. Editing comes later because I find rereading it later gives me fresh ideas on how to make it better. How many books have you read where you thought, 'I would have done that scene different'? That's how it works with your own stories too. Have fun with it. Puke out the first draft if that's what it takes knowing how much fun it's going to be to rework later. This is your world you are creating, if you aren't enjoying every minute of it, pick a different one.

That is the great part about being a writer, you don't have to be a perfectionist on the first draft. That comes in the number of editing stages until you feel it's done. Which, incidentally, you never really get to that point, it is only ever good enough because someone wants to read it.

So, what are some things we can do to get past the blockage beast? My first answer will always be - write more. Yes, you may say I'm being silly or outright bonkers but pay attention a little longer, it will make sense.

You are trying to write a specific story or start on a new one and you can't get going. Nothing is coming to you... nada... zip, zero, zilch. Now may not be the time to work on that one so find a writing prompt and pump out a couple of paragraphs or a short story just on that prompt. If that works, do another one, and another. You may discover two things, it may spark an idea to use on your next (or first) scene and, since this is not a writing project that you have to finish for anybody, you are able to pump out those words like crazy and get it done.

See? There's the mindset and common root of the blockage problem, in my opinion at least. Stress. There's no stress involved with a writing prompt you really have no other reason to write and your performance peaks. The same should be for any story you craft. Remove any thoughts about who you are writing it for and why. Don't think about if your setting works unless you have to be historically accurate. Your first draft is not the time to worry if your chapter is ending just right, the end of Act One was too far into the novel or if you spelled grievous properly.

I have more than one project going at any given time. If I get stuck on one story, I switch to a different one. I can write a blog post, jot down some thoughts on a synopsis, review a story idea or outline for another book - anything writing related that will help me out. And it works, every time. I'm almost always writing something. I don't stick to one genre, I have three blogs to keep up with, three YouTube channels that need outlines and scripting, plus website content. I'm never bored and I always have something on the go to keep the writing process moving.

I don't suggest getting away from your writing and do something else as a means to clear your head and come back with a fresh view. I only do that after a lengthy writing spell and I just need a break, never to clear writer's block. You need to write and that's where finding an easy prompt is your best friend. Write something. Something funny, something stupid, some classy or romantic, anything. It may only take one single sentence to unplug that u-bend in your mind. Talk out loud to yourself or discuss your story with the closest family member in your vicinity or even your dog, but just write something.

I am very much interested in learning what practices others use to get past this ugly critter. Post a comment or reaction and sign up for the newsletter on my site for more tips!

 

 

Writer Validation - Traditional of Independent Publishing?

October 13, 2017

Every aspiring writer out there wants the same thing in one form or another - to be recognized as a writer. For most of us, it's the motivation for why we write. We can craft stories, create worlds with amazing characters who can do amazing things but in the end, we want someone else to read them. We want to get validated for our work.

That means seeing our books being picked off the shelves, taken home and enjoyed. It's the process of how they get into readers' hands that stumps many of us because we don't know our options. Well, there are two at the top of the list most writers are aware of; traditional and independent.

Traditional publishing is seen as the go to for any author who feels this is how they will make a name for themselves. This is how we gain the credibility, the prestige, the validation proving we have officially qualified as a writer who is good enough to make the cut. I mean, it comes with so many perks, right? We write the book, 'sell' it to a publishing house and they take care of the rest - design, printing, marketing, distribution, all we need to do is wait for the money to start rolling in while we work on the next project.

I hate to burst your bubble but here's the reality most of us are unaware of. First off, there's a waiting time, a long one, before we see our book on the shelf. For most publishing houses, you have to find an agent. This can take a couple of years and that's realistic. Once found, our agent will act on our behalf to solicit our book to a reputable publisher which can take up to six months before they get around to reading it because most of them have a fairly large slush pile to go through already. Be prepared for a lot of rejections. It may take another several months for them to go through another round of edits before they deem it fit for public consumption. Factor in cover design, marketing, printing and shipping times, we can look at a full two years before the book is actually available.

Then, and only then, will we get our validation. We can tell the whole world as soon we are accepted by a publisher but two or three years later, most of our audience will have moved on.

But this may work for some writers. They just absolutely don't want to be bothered with the business end of authoring, they just want to write. That's awesome. It keeps publishing houses working and people employed. Nothing wrong with that at all.

But is self-publishing, or indie publishing the answer?

Indie publishing is not a new term to the writing world. The Joy of Cooking was independently printed in 1931 before being purchased by a publishing house. Other titles include Fifty Shades of Grey and The Martian. Look how well they did.

Taking the route to do it alone simple means we bypass the traditional publishing house by seeking out a printer (more or less) who is able to print single or multiple copies of our book and make them available for sale. This is termed print-on-demand. More options have sprouted up over the years with the rise in popularity for authors choosing to seek out this method of publishing because of unfair terms through the publisher. The largest being Amazon who purchased CreateSpace in 2005. Their process is about as simple as it gets. We write the book, format it to suit Amazon's requirements and upload the files. A bit of meta-data and information to fill out and zippity-bing, the book is ready for sale by the masses in hardcover, softcover or e-book. They even provide a page for the book to be viewed and purchased.

Unlike traditional publishing, we keep all rights to our work where the big houses want all rights whether they use them or not. We keep all creative control over the design and story, we keep a larger part of the profits on sales, the book is ready in as little as a few hours and if someone wants to make a major motion picture out of it, well, that's all us baby!

However, all of the background work falls on our shoulders as well. The story has to be up to par and the editing top notch. The cover design has to catch the attention of potential buyers and the synopsis has to make them want to read the book. All of this can be done professionally but it won't come cheap. You can save money and do it all yourself but you better know what you're doing. This is the reality of the business end.

Do we get the validation of being a writer? Sure, why not? If we put the effort into it and the book can competitively sit on the shelf beside mainstream authors, you bet we can get the validation. If we can market effectively and draw the attention, retain followers who will want more, absolutely we can grow a reputation. No one said it will be an easy road, though. You have to want it.

Put Together a Plan

There is a possible win-win scenario found in a hybrid solution. Use the best of both worlds by choosing which of our books we can afford to indie publish and those we can afford to wait for the traditional publishing process. I plan to have a few books available through Amazon which I will use to gain an audience and followers I can add to an email list. I will keep those great folks updated on what I'm doing and offer whatever advice I can to help them on their journey. This establishes my work. I have a trilogy in the works (info on all can be found on my website, kevinghare.ca, incidentally) where I will complete all three books and pitch to a traditional publishing house.

Why would I do this, it sounds crazy!

Logic, my friends, and two-fold at that. First, I need to build the following and prove I can craft a good story. This is like adding to my portfolio to include in my query submission. The publisher may see a greater potential if I already have an established sales background. I'm hoping it will streamline the process and I can barter on the publishing rights because they will need me more than I need them. Second, after achieving the validation in the mainstream market, new readers may be looking for anything else I have written, boosting sales on my past self-published work.

Win-win.

I fully understand it won't be an easy going but I can accept the responsibility because writing is all I want to do. I will put the work into my projects to make them the best I can. Success can only follow a well laid plan and the hard work that follows.

 

Always welcoming more insights and questions and join the mailing list on the website for updates and info every Friday!

No Greater Gratification

October 9, 2017

There is something to be said about completing a project. It's the end of a journey, the sense of completion and accomplishment. A way to tell the world, "I did something!" It doesn't matter if the something was painting the deck, writing a book, creating a work of art or climbing a mountain, at that moment, there is no greater gratification than declaring, "It's finished!"

One can only understand the feeling if you have struggled for sometimes years to finish a project and finally polished it off to the thing you always envisioned it to be. Many of us have come to this point in our lives, especially writers because we work and rework a story for months or years even before we get to the first editing stages. For me, Anderoth's Dragon was written, self-published, rewritten, self-published again then rewritten yet again, ten years later.

I can finally say, "It's finished!"

I can enjoy the gratification of achievement for I know, once I get feedback from beta readers, I will not rewrite this story again. I will put it to rest as the final draft and move on to different projects and a new sense of gratification at another finished project in the short future. This is where we want to be and to get to. The completed project. The end goal. We want to relive that feeling again and again but to do so, it requires the effort and the time to work on the task. This should be the fuel for our motivation to keep going. The first one is always the hardest for new writers because we know the story we want to tell, but we may not have all the knowledge and experience to tell it properly. That's ok, that's how we learn to be better and that's what we need to express to new writers. Take your time and learn how to craft a story. It does us no good to rush into finishing a book no one will read because the story and the characters are weak.

The true gratification comes not only from the completed project, but from knowing the project was completed well.

Thought I would share some experience... would love to know what others think, leave some comments below!

The Write Commitment

September 13, 2017

You want to be a writer. Most of us with full time jobs that take up most of our schedules, scratch a spec off the clock to frantically pound out what few words we can before another distraction pulls us away. We don’t seem to understand the level of commitment it takes to truly be a writer.

Distractions are easy to give in to, we’ve all been there. We sit down with the gumption to write something but as we stare at a blank screen, or the last words we scribbled out the last chunk of time we were able to make some progress, some meagre excuse draws our attention away.

Too much light, the dishes aren’t done, forgot to take the steaks out for supper, maybe if I sit on the porch in the fresh air an idea will come to me, I just don’t feel it right now…

If we just had the commitment to momentarily focus on the task at hand, pick up the pen or place our fingers on the keyboard and just start. It’s always hard at first but over time it gets easier, ideas start to flow, the words just come to us and the story begins to tell us what to put on the page. Giving in to the excuses becomes habitual if we let them win but the commitment to the work and the dedication to the craft gets stories completed.

I was giving in to the excuses for a long time. I figured, one day I’ll have a creative spurt and the book will be finished. One day. Years pass with that attitude and I’m here to tell you, you will regret not sitting down and writing it then as opposed to now. I want my full-time occupation to be a writer and when this reality actually sunk in, like the Aha! moment of absolute clarity, I made the connection – I made the commitment to be a writer.

The next steps I took where very important. I redeveloped my author website and dug up as many pieces of anything I ever wrote as I could find and put them on their own page for all to read. I listed my book projects both past, current and upcoming and wow, what an eye opener! Realizing I had books yet to write fanned the flames of creativity. And I added my own blog to spread the word and share what info I have to help everyone else.

Next came the social media posts, a new Facebook page, an update to my Smashwords account; generally re-inventing myself as a writer. The last phase in my commitment was the most crucial, however. I had to understand that I am not an IT Guy who writes, I am a writer who does IT stuff.

That cements the commitment, locks it into your mindset. To be a writer, promote yourself as a writer, convince yourself you are a writer. Don’t convince yourself you don’t have time to write right now, the more you write the easier it is to write. The 'practice, practice, practice' adage fits here, it truly does.

I am more committed to writing than I ever have been. I want to see my projects completed because I love the stories I created and can’t wait to see how they turn out. I want this to be my full time job even if it only pays enough to help with the bills because I’m doing something I love doing every day. If this is where you want to be, find the write commitment in you, that which motivates you to become a writer, not a service tech or cashier or administrative assistant; great jobs to be sure but only temporary if writing is your true passion.

Step out of the shadows and announce yourself as a writer, friends. You’ll be glad you did.

Marketing for Writers

August 16, 2017

Smashwords is a great tool.

A new author will be hard pressed to get any sort of exposure in the writing world without marketing and creating a social presence. Fortunately, these days there are several options for the writer who is not initially thinking of traditional publishers right away. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat... there's a myriad of social media platforms to take advantage of to promote yourself and your work. You should, of course, always start with your own author website.

Your website is your go to source for bio, current projects, upcoming projects, past works, extra stuff, giveaways - anything that will give your viewers something to take away with them, be it as simple as information or a free read for a project you have on the go. Viewers will become steady readers if they become involved in your process much the same way as they become involved with the stories you write.

Aside from a facebook page (an author page, separate from your personal page) and the other media outlets, I would advise getting yourself a Smashwords account. Through Smashwords, you get (for free...) a profile page to feature yourself and your books with direct links to certain social media profiles and your website, instant exposure to other writers and visitors on Smashwords, you get to upload your books where they convert the files into various formats for different platforms and they make your books available for sale in those formats right on the site. As well, they offer an affiliate program so you can list books from the Smashwords library on your site for up to 11% commision. Now I'm thinking, if I make direct contact with other authors here, we set up a shared agreement where I list their books, they list mine - everybody wins and gets shared promotion. That is coopetition!

But this is only one avenue, here are some other sites to check out for tons more info from very qualified people:

www.thecreativepenn.com

www.authormedia.com

www.thebookdesigner.com

 

What's Your Hurry?

June 1, 2017

I get that we writers want to put out book after book to get our names out there, to get noticed, get picked up by a publishing house so we step out into the world and scream, "I made it!". That letter of acceptance from a professional to signify and cement the recognition that you are now an author.

Well, you wrote a book, that makes you an author.

I have spoken with several budding authors and attend regular writers group meetings and the stress is always the same - must finish book fast and send to agent or publishing house to be officially validated as a writer. I have read books, articles and study guides on how to write and be a writer and they all stress the same thing - write, write often and write a lot. Pump out as many words as you can in as short a time frame as you can and someday you will be a writer. And someday may come when a publishing house finds your work worth selling and they take you on, give you some money to entice you but they don't give you any more until they've made back that little teaser. Then they don't give you very much for all your hard work compared to what they take for printing and marketing your name as an author. If your book does well, they will ask you to write more and only give you so much time to finish it so you cage yourself up in your little writing space between the rest of your life and crank out a generic feeling story because you didn't have time to real polish it off the way you envisioned it.

But you can tell people you are a writer, you've earned it.

Honestly, I'm not out to slam the book publishing industry and it's efforts to turn an unfamiliar name into one synonymous with a great story, without them, some of us would never know how to get our work out to the masses let alone actually get our work out to the masses. I just want to point out that the best stories take time, nourishment, development. They need to make mistakes, take a few steps back and try again. They need to grow and take on a life of their own if they are to be a truly great collection of words. Know that you will experience a mental block, take time to mull it over, it may just be your story telling you it's not going in the direction it should be. Keep it in the back of your mind, the right scene will come. Don't beat yourself up about it, just breathe.

My current trilogy is already almost 10 years in the making. I completed the first draft of the first book and scrapped it. Don't be afraid to take that step, it is not nearly as crucial as introducing a sucky story to the public and regretting later that you could have done better. I want it done right and to my liking before I hand it out to everybody else. You handle your writing in a manner that works for you. Find your time to write for that is the only way your book will get done. One factor is true in all of the articles and study guides and books on writing, the more you write the better you get at it, and faster.

So write, don't pressure yourself into a deadline when you're starting out, craft that great story and listen to your instincts. Don't fret about whether or not an agent or house will think you are good enough to validate you as a writer. Believe in your work, work at it to write better and your writing will validate you as an author.

Cheers.

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