How Being Forced to Read Changed My Writing.

For the last couple weeks I thought I’d try and write something different. It hasn’t turned out well.

My usual stories are fantasy of one form or another. I tried to write a Sci-Fi novel.

It was going good, as my other attempts at writing within the genre had, then the bottom fell out and I got bored.

I’m not sure whether it’s the story, the process I use, or whether I can’t write a Sci-Fi novel.

I’ve written a couple of Sci-Fi short stories in the past, no problem. When they grow longer than 10,000 words, that’s when the problems happen.

For now, I’ll be sticking to Fantasy, and its mini-genres…i.e., Epic, Sword & Sorcery, Urban, Grimdark, and the like.

But Science Fiction gives my brain fits.

I’m still not sure why this is. I can write a horror novel and be completely in love with it, same goes with Fantasy, but science fiction, I have trouble with it.

I believe that comes from the books I felt forced to read growing up.

My father would read Tom Clancy novels, I would read them. The Techno-Thriller had so much tech in it at times it bogged me down and I believe its why I can’t write similar things today.

Whenever I wanted to read something different he would look at the cover, read the blurb and decide for me whether I could read it.

Many times I would be reading a couple of books at a time, one that he chose, one that I found at the library.

It wasn’t until I moved out of his house and in with my mom and dad, that I felt I could read without judgement.

Though there were times I would have comics hidden under my bed or wherever I slept. The fear of someone finding out I liked comics, that I enjoyed fantasy novels was too great a thing for me to break from.

It took me a long time to enjoy reading fantasy and not having the fear of judgement for what I read.

Today, I enjoy fantasy and horror more than other genres. I don’t read Tom Clancy style books, though I do believe they have influenced some of my current writing.

I feel we should read and write what we’re comfortable with, though stretching ourselves can lead to great things.

Anyway, on to the next story, may it be ripe with Fantasy.

How I get through the hard days.

This past week I’ve struggled to write.

It may be a hangover from the previous book and the thoughts of writing in a new world or it could be a disruption in my schedule.

I think it’s all of the above and it’s thrown me for a loop.

While I’ve worked; squeezing only a few hundred words until yesterday, the words have been stilted. There’s been no flow.

As I said already, I wrote 86,000 words in a month. This may have given me a writing hangover.

There is another thing. I stopped reading a book because it was in the same genre as the book I finished and since I stopped, so has my writing, mostly.

The schedule issue is another thing.

Every day after I take my kids to school and get breakfast, which is usually from 8:30 until 11:00. I do four writing sprints of twenty-five minutes, with a five-minute break in-between.

This is one of the ways I wrote so many words last month.

I was also more focused last month on writing, but in being focused, I did screw up a few times. I didn’t get my critiques done for my writing group.

This is something I’m really upset with myself over.

The other thing is by not getting any solid writing done, doubt and depression have nudged their ways in.

I’ve written numerous times about depression. Check out my page about Transcendental Meditation or my post on TM.org to read more about it.

I won’t let myself get stuck in the spiral again. I went back to the book I’d been reading and I wrote more than I have since last week.

Every day as a writer, especially an unpublished writer, is an adventure, but I wouldn’t quit for anything.

On to the next…

How I wrote 86k in a month.

This was not the post I was expecting to write.

Last week I finished the most recent novel. I posted on Instagram (one of the few Social Media I have)about how quickly I completed it.

There were numerous comments of “congratulations” “wow”, and this got me thinking.

How many writers are out there struggling to get their word counts. I’m usually one of them, but for the past month, I haven’t been.

It started with figuring out how I wrote another novel and why I completed it so quickly.

The other book was written using a beat sheet, but when I finished it I realized the writing felt stilted and false. The one rule I’ve stuck to in my writing is tell the truth. No matter what the truth is in the story, tell it.

The other thing I did in that novel was a timer. I would write, unencumbered, that means no stops to fix punctuation. I took what I liked, the timer, and modified it.

I would write a book, using twenty-five minute sprints, with a five minute break in between.

The first day I only wrote 1860 words. The second day, I wrote 2700 words. When a part of the story felt wrong, I’d fix it. When punctuation was needed, I’d changed it. I would stop to adjust story issues along the way, but I would keep to my timers and their five-minute breaks.

My average was around 3000 words a day. But I completed that draft in one month and four days. I started on December 1st, finished on January 4th.

I’d never written that quickly and completing another book made me happy.

This year isn’t about writing books, it will be about publishing them or getting representation. Last year I submitted a novel to twelve agents, all of them but one rejected it. That one left the agency and no longer works in publishing.

I’m working that book with my writing group. Meanwhile, I’ll be writing more stories, creating new worlds and now that I’m eight books in, I’m figuring things out better.

Happy writing.



Going with your instincts…

Yesterday my wife and I were talking about a story I’d written.

She thought it needed something else.

I told her, my gut instinct had been to take the story darker but was unnerved to do it.

This led me to think about other stories where I’d taken the safe route.

I thought about everything I’d written.

There were parts of numerous stories and some novels where I’d played it safe.

I chose not to do something in the story I wanted to do because there’s always a fear of doing something horrific.

Those moments came more often than I thought.

I don’t usually think about this but my wife insisted I go back and rewrite it darker.

As a writer, especially one who writes horror and fantasy, there’s a fear of judgment.

I worry that what I write may lead people to believe there is something wrong with me.

This has plagued me since I began writing in my teens.

As a teenager, it felt different because I worried how my parents would interpret what I wrote. I thought they’d want to sit me down with a therapist, hint, they did.

When I began to write again in my twenties, I felt what I wrote would worry my wife. I edited myself because of it.

After our discussion this week, I discovered I’m still afraid of what people think.

This makes it hard for me to move forward with improving as well as writing the stuff in my head.

There’s a quote, I’m not sure who it belongs to but I think its Stephen King, “Good writing is often about letting go of fear.”

I need to let go of the fear of judgment, move forward and write something that scares me for other people to see.

If I don’t, why am I writing at all?