And On the Seventh Day…No Rest for the Writer!

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Seven days of writing at least something significant are in the books! Woohoo! One week down, two more weeks to go! Can I do it? I hope so.

Yesterday was tough. I went to the car dealership where I bought my car. It was time for service so I got a tune up. While I was there, I read a book of short stories that I brought along, GOTHAM WRITERS’ WORKSHOP FICTION GALLERY .  

I knew I was going to be waiting a long time for my car, so this was the perfect opportunity to get in my 80/20 reading. 80/20 is 80% reading and 20% writing. That’s what the experts say you should do. While at the service department, I read two stories: WALKING INTO THE WIND by John O’Farrell and NIGHT WOMEN by Edwidge DanticatWALKING INTO THE WIND is about a British man who laments about his trials and tribulations of being a mime in a society that just doesn’t get it. As you could imagine it’s quite humorous. NIGHT WOMEN is about a woman who watches her young son while he sleeps. She ruminates on her hopes and dreams for the boy and how she would love for the two of them to live in a dreamworld. The reason why is because the woman is a prostitute and she is waiting for her next john to arrive.

After I read these two stories, I wrote about them in my little note book that I carry. Each story got a page each where I gave a synopsis, tried to identify themes, and tried to identify writing styles. And yes, I count these exercises as writing (143 words). I wanted to work on my science fiction story some (4 days, 2500 words since my last post) but was just way too tired and fell asleep watching the Doctor Who Takeover on BBC America!

Now the real hard part is coming. I’m spending Christmas for 8 days in the Midwest with my in-laws. I’m bringing my laptop with me. But with all the ripping and running, how am I going to get any work done? I have to figure out a way. I will find a way, damn it! It can be done. At least 100-300 words of something each day. I can do that can’t I? Wish me luck! I wonder does this blog count?

21 Days to a Better Writer’s Life!

 

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The writer’s practice is tough. Just this past Monday night was a perfect example of it. I wanted to sit down and watch television and maybe get 300 words into this sci-fi story I’ve been working on since August. Of course, it should go without saying that I was setting myself up for failure by combining television and typing 300 viable words.

My wife was preparing schoolwork in our office. She has the uncanny ability to be able to work and catch up on her favorite shows at the same time. So I decided to work in the living room and re-watch the mid-season finale of The Flash. Unfortunately, I do not have my wife’s skill at multi-tasking. I quickly became blocked, as you might imagine. The new ideas for my story were few and far between.

When my wife finished her work and decided to join me, she suggested that we watch an episode of The Walking Dead on DVR instead. We were two episodes behind for God’s sake! Foolishly, I agreed. As the show’s signature opening credits played after a thrilling opening scene, I realized I wasn’t going to get any work done. I looked down at my trusty Scrivener word count and found that I had only typed 90 words; two paragraphs. Annoyed at myself, I closed my laptop in defeat and watched the remainder of TWD with my wife. The typically awesome performance of Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan, brightened my spirits only temporarily, but once the episode was over I slipped back down into the trap of what I like to call ‘writer’s regret’. 300 words-a-day missed again.

So what’s the takeaway from this? I must guard my writing habit. Did you see what I did there? I called it a ‘habit’. It’s not inspiration. The late great Octavia Butler once said:

“First forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you’re inspired or not. Habit will help you finish and polish your stories. Inspiration won’t. Habit is persistence in practice.”

I’m trying to take this to heart. Write as a habit, not from inspiration. That is so tough. We think the greats must have been writing from inspiration, but if we investigate we’ll find that they wrote everyday. Stephen King writes 2500 words a day. Heman Melville secreted himself away from friends to guard his writer’s practice. The initial story idea maybe came through inspiration, but that’s about it.

Some say the key to creating a habit is to do the action for 21 days. After 21 days, your body and your mind become conditioned to doing the action.

This is the third day I’ve worked on this blog and the first day since refocusing my writing efforts. So let’s say that I have 18 days to go. God, I hope I can do it. I have to dig down deep and put my nose to the proverbial grindstone and just do it. Thank you Shai LeBeouf!

21 days is the goal! At this point in time, this goal is more important than what I produce or the quality of what I produce. Just write for 21 days. I can do it!

New Vision for this Site

 

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Originally, the concept for this site was to be a place for me to post my literary scribbles. Any short story that came to mind, I would put here for the world wide web’s approval and maybe I would submit these shorts for actual publication. But as I traveled along this not so lonely road, I learned that many publishers do not like to publish stories that appear on blogs. Many sites consider posting a story on your own blog as published. So after posting two stories, I had to stop. Dejected, I began to lose interest in my little site; letting it languish, not knowing what to do with it.

Six months later this past summer, I took an awesome Gotham Writers’ Workshop class. It was both enriching and enlightening. My instructor, Scott Alexander Hess, was both extremely knowledgeable and encouraging. At the end of the 10-week class, I’d come away with two workshopped shorts, a handful of great writing exercises/prompts and a writing group made up of the more active members of my class. Also I learned that an author blog was still a good idea if not a necessity.

Then I read the book DIY MFA by Gabriela Pereira. It’s a fine book on how if you just create writing practices for yourself, like writing with focus, reading with purpose, and building a writing community; you can skip the MFA programs and save a ton of money. This book really resonated with me. I found that many of the suggestions that Ms. Pereira makes, I was already doing. This gave me the confidence to know that I’m on the right track. Also, I don’t have a ton of money to spend on an MFA program. But more importantly, the book stresses a need for an author page or blog. Convinced, I dusted off the old blog, refocused it and re-purposed it. And here we are.

What is the new purpose of this blog? The blog will now be a place for me to write about my trials and tribulations as a burgeoning writer. I will write about my failures, my triumphs, my rejections, my writing space, my attempts at creating a writing practice.

Join me as I embark on this journey with renewed purpose and focus. Maybe you will find that you can relate to some of the trials and tribulations I am and will go through. And together, maybe we shall find the right path to our writer’s life.