When writing things click.

A while ago, like ten years or something my cousins who is published traditionally, and who publishes independently gave me a book.

It’s John Truby’s Anatomy of Story.

At that point I didn’t get it. I didn’t understand how to use the book, didn’t think I needed the book, and was determined to do it on my own.

Here’s a tip, when someone gets you something and they’re trying to help you, use it. Do whatever it takes to understand it .

If you don’t get it, ask for help. It’s really okay to ask for help.

Go to Reddit and ask. The people on R/writing are awesome.

But use whatever is at your disposal.

I never asked. I was stubborn and borderline asshole.

The belief that we can do something ourselves and ignore what people tell us is stupid.

You need help, ask.

Now that I’m trying to figure this out(ten years later)I’m struggling to do so.

I should’ve listened to her. Paid attention and not just read the book and not understood it. I should have done a lot of things differently.

Now that I am doing things different, I understand she was trying to help me.

She was trying to get me to understand writing on a different level.

It’s taken me a while but I’m getting there.

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The point where shit ain’t working.

I’ve reached critical mass, DEFCON 1, time to pull the holy shit handle…you know all of that.

My writing isn’t working and maybe it hasn’t been working for longer than I’m willing to admit.

The writing itself has been good, but the organization looks like my niece got ahold of crayons and paper.

Shit is all over the place!

I’ve always just written. No outline, rarely a beat sheet and it’s just not working.

I’ve rewritten whole books a couple of times because I was afraid of the outline monster.

I was worried I’d get bogged down in an outline, stop working, and just quit.

But I’m at the point of quitting right now. So why shouldn’t I take a chance on an outline?

I realized my first written draft is my outline, but a 86k+ outline is hardly workable.

It’s daunting as hell and it’s making me hate writing. I used to love sitting in the chair and creating.

Then I noticed a few things.

I was putting out a draft that had no cohesive theme or flow through, not until at least the third draft.

When my wife would ask me questions if flub through it.

The other night she asked what is motivating a certain character, I had no reply.

What the hell am I doing if I don’t know the damn motivation for what my character does?

I’ve only looked at the part where I’m sitting in the chair as the writing part. Not the thinking about the story, drawing maps or staring at screenshots which resembled the world I’d created, and definitely not an outline.

This changed over the weekend.

I thought about all the stories I’ve written. Shorts, novellas, novels and understood that whenever I’m thinking about, drawing about, or outlining, it’s still writing.

I have stories that felt too daunting to create because I didn’t understand their world and didn’t get it about the things I mentioned above.

Now as I hit the button, reset things, and journey into this new creative life, I feel blessed to have a wife who continues to stand by my side as I navigate these waters.

She’s my rock and she’s always there to tell me it’s okay. She makes sure I keep writing in whatever form it takes and I’m the luckiest man to have her.

Now on to the writing.

Finishing books.

Last summer I queried a book to 13 agents.

It was the first book I’d ever queried. I’ve submitted stories to magazines, receiving rejections on all of them.

I may have figured out why last year’s queries failed.

I spent time working on the novel, but I didn’t get it as good as I think I could have.

I wrote 2 rewrites and revision for it but I don’t think I learned how to dial in a draft, or what it takes to do so until the past couple of months.

The writing group showed me this as well as the improvements I’ve witnessed.

I don’t know what changed, maybe I’ve become less fearful of editing.

I used to look at it as something I knew I should be doing, but also as a thing I dreaded. Agents should just love it it’s current form, right?

That’s what I believed. Why should I change my story? They should adjust to what I’m writing.

Now, I’m looking at my writing and I see what needs to change. I’ve also read a lot in the past year. That changed my thoughts as well.

I’m putting away new projects to work on making this one book the best it can be.

I will either get an agent this year or publish it myself.

I’m hoping for the former.

Happy writing.

Finding our hearts.

When we started our life, we didn’t understand what it was.

As we move through it, we begin to understand it better.

This discovery could leads us to uncovering who we are, what we want, who we love, why we struggle more than some, but lesss than others.

Along the road to discovery, we learn about ourselves. Not like the items I listed above, but truly learn.

We discover our hearts.

What moves us, what makes us cry, what changes us.

This heart attaches itself to our family members, children, partners, and sometimes art.

I found my heart in writing when I was in my teens.

Life intervened, I wasn’t able to write for a multitude of reasons.

Then, three years ago.

Life gave me a gift.

I’m able to write all I want. Play with my kids. Spend time with my wife and still have time to read.

I found my heart when I was allowed to write full time.

I’ve never been published. But when I sit at the keys, I feel like creating worlds is payment enough.

I enjoy writing more than anything I’ve done. It is my calm when the storm comes.

Have you found your heart.

How I took over control of my life.

This year has been about regaining control over my life.

First, it started by fixing my writing.

I listened to myself when I was writing more often, thought through sentences more carefully, and paid attention when a story went off the rails.

Today my wife will be finishing her first read-through of a novel. I’ll start revising it next week.

I started a new novel yesterday.  I’m currently outlining it and creating a beat sheet.

It’s something different from my other stories, in structure and content.

Second, I’ve been exercising more.

The end of last year was a tough one. My brother passed away from an aneurysm.

Technically we weren’t blood, but he’ll always be my brother.

When he passed, I realized I wasn’t taking care of myself as well as I should.

I’ve worked to correct that.

I work out four to five days a week, restrict my caffeine intake and make sure I’m eating decently.

Third, I spend more time with my wife and kids.

Three years ago I lived in Las Vegas. I worked a job I hated and was stressed all the time.

The hours I worked made it nearly impossible to get any time with my wife and kids.

I’d spend a few days here and there with them but it wasn’t quality time. It was usually in a movie theater.

After we left Las Vegas our goal was for me to write more, spend more time with each other and give our kids a better environment.

We’ve managed to do all of those things.

I’ve written four novels since we moved, over a hundred short stories and with each I see improvement.

Our kids are doing better in school. My son almost made the honor roll, which was unheard of in Las Vegas.

We hike, spend time outside and sometimes we go to the movies. The movies used to be our family time. Now its secondary to doing other things.

I have no doubt I’ll be published soon. I know I’m in better physical and mental condition than I was three years ago.

My relationship with my kids and my wife is stronger than its ever been.

If we wouldn’t have left Las Vegas all of us would be miserable.

I fight my way through depression daily, my wife does too.

There are moments when life seems hard. At those moments I look around and compare the life I had three years ago to my current situation.

Things are better.

I took control of a lot of things this year. I’m also working harder at my prose than I thought possible. I never would have had the time to focus during our Las Vegas life.

Today, I have the time, the strength and the ability to push towards my goals.

It all started by taking control.