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Every day as a writer, especially an unpublished writer, is an adventure, but I wouldn’t quit for anything.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

For the longest time I’ve had a fear of using the narrator voice while writing.

As I write mostly fantasy, horror, and science fiction, I’m sure this fear comes from being told show don’t tell and of the dreaded info dump.

I spent the latter months of 2018 dealing with this fear.

I knew a couple things would have to change in my writing, and mindset, to fix this.

I would have to let the narrator speak what needed to be said and I would have to stop worrying about info dumps. Sometimes a small info dump is needed in a story.

When dealing with an info dump, I’ve made sure it’s either a character explaining things or if I’m using the narrator, it’s in small chunks.

I also didn’t want to sound pretentious. Which is something my wife says I’ve done with the narrator.

I read a lot of books this past year, and I took to analyzing how the author would speak with the narrator, either in description or in regards to world building.

The Wheel of Time series writer by Robert Jordan and finished Brandon Sanderson are a few of the best examples of this.

I love how Jordan does narrator voice. I don’t feel like there is an info dump when he’s world building and the narrator is consistent throughout the books I’ve read in the series. I’m on book 5 in the series.

With horror, it’s the same. I looked for how the author differentiated between the narrator voice and character voice. Doing this helped my writing a lot.

From the end of September until the end of November I focused solely on improving my narrators and how they dealt with the world.

These stories turned out well and I’m happy with them. I only wish I would have done it years ago instead of being afraid.

I’ll be talking about how I did this for the month of January.

What did you improve upon in your writing or life the past year?

Let me know in the comments.

I’ve been away from the blog for a while, but I have been writing.

I’ve been submitting stories, getting rejections and contemplating life outside of writing. That doesn’t mean I intend to quit.

I’ve been think about whether I’m working hard enough to achieve my goals. The conclusion is, I haven’t. I don’t edit after I’ve finished something. I let it gather on my hard drive, sometimes never to see the light of day.

There is a problem, as you’ve all guessed, in this. It makes it look like I’m not producing when I am. I wrote 25 short stories over the summer, finished a novel and started querying another.

I hate editing more than almost anything except spiders. I’m working to break myself of this.

I started the read-through for the novel I finished this summer and started editing short stories as well. The writing group I joined is helping immensely.

My goal was to be published this year, it’s still my goal but publication may look different from what I thought it would be.

Anyway, happy writing. I’m still here just busy with writing and bartending.

When I write I wonder where everything comes from.

I’ve used beat sheets, outlines, and done discovery writing. My current project is at 52k after 29 days and all discovery written.

When the words come out, there are times I wonder where they come from. I finish my writing for the day, go back and read some of it and think, “that came from my brain, how?”

This little thing keeps me writing. I write not only because I love it but I’m often curious how the words will come out.

I think about times when I struggle to get the words and whether they’d be different if I hadn’t been struggling. I think of all the times I didn’t write and what I missed out on.

That last part is my major motivator.

What story was I not creating when I wasn’t writing? What worlds weren’t explored? What people did I not bring to life? These things keep me up at night more than the current draft.

I hope I’m not the only who thinks this way. I wonder what other writers are working on or whether some of my favorite books would be different if certain authors had written them earlier in the day or later.

Whether accidents they had or family issues they’ve dealt with changed the story because they were away from the page.

I write to find out these things. If I’d written longer today, what would be different from what I write tomorrow? What changes to the story would I have made and would they be good?

Without a time machine, there’s no way to discover these things.

I write because I like to wonder about how the story would turn out differently, how I would turn out differently.

If I had continued to write in my teens, would I be published today?

I know its not good to dwell on the past, but these things pop up when I work.

Mostly I think about the stories and how I create them. Where all of these characters come from and how I let them run the story.

When a character takes over a section of the story I feel like I’ve succeeded for the day. It’s happened a lot in the current project. I’ve never written as fast as I am currently. I know where the story ends, I know how, but getting there is fun as hell. I’m enjoying the process more than I have since the last book.

I’m working on my seventh book. I have one queried and another in revisions with my writing group. I submitted a short story last night and I’ll be working on others in the next couple of weeks.

My kids are back in school next week and I’m looking forward to all of us returning to our schedules, but most of all I’m looking forward to seeing where all of my stories go.

When my son was little my wife and I played World of Warcraft after he was in bed.

Then it grew to be too much to handle with kids. But there was one thing that was always fun: Taking a new character and running it through dungeons.

My wife would use her high-level or I’d use mine and we’d run one of each other’s characters through the low-level dungeons.

It was a chance to say in Guild Chat, ding ___ hit level ___. It was fun.

Now that I don’t play, mostly because of lack of time, sometimes I mark advances in my writing by chokingly telling my wife, ding, I hit another level.

I don’t do it often, because the little thing achievements aren’t a big deal.

It’s when I achieve something big that I say it.

This week I dinged.

I bartend for events for a bartending service. I work weddings, Bar Mitzvahs, corporate parties and similar events.

Our company works with a particular caterer constantly and one of their leads is a writer.

A few weeks ago, he asked me to join his writing group.

Yesterday, through a conference call, we went through each other’s work.

It will be a regular thing, every two weeks, and I get someone else to read my work.

I’ve been wanting to find a writing group where people take it seriously. This is the first time I’ve found one.

I leveled up in my writing this week, Ding!

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?

I wonder often about the life I’ve lead.

It comes to me at night. I’ll ponder the things I’ve done. People I’ve wronged and consider whether the life I have has been worth the things I’ve been through.

Those moments are surrounded by others.

These others are filled with the laughter of my kids, my wife’s kiss, and my morning writing.

For the first time in a while, I feel like my life is going in the correct direction.

Yes, I write fervently. I get my word count on a new WiP every day.  I work on revisions and edits every day on another story or novel.

But all the tired nights, exhausted mornings and cups of coffee are worth it for what I’m attempting.

Each person reaches a point where they want to stop. I have a couple of times.

When this point is reached, we have to look around and think about how far we’ve come. And all we’ve done to reach this current state.

That moment may come while we’re in the shower or it may come in a flash of fireworks erupting over our heads as we look at our wife and kids.

Today, I’m in a good place. I know they aren’t all good so I’m going to recognize this one. Have a good rest of your day.