Are You A Writer Or Interested In Writing? Come to Jot

Three years ago my writers group had a crazy idea. Hey let’s throw a writers conference. At first, it was cute. What did we know about launching a conference? Four conferences later, around two hundred and fifty people have attended Jot.

Regular attendees are budding poets and professional novelists. We’ve kept the conference free thanks to Baker Books House and the donations of time from the Weaklings writers group and gracious local authors.

This installment of Jot is tremendously exciting. We have an award winning illustrator and children’s book writer, an owner of a literary agency, a newly published novelist, and an established writer that volunteered their time to share with you what they know.

After the presentations there will be an opportunity to write in the cozy store or coffee shop or attend one of three workshops.

It’s a time to learn, meet, and write.

It’s on March, 13th at 7pm-11pm at Baker Book House.

Consider this an open invitation.

Hop to see you there.




On Earning Your Sleep

Have you ever sat down at dinner and thought hey, I’m not actually that hungry? I’ve done this before too. Usually, it is the result of a snack at work during the afternoon hours but I just eat anyway.

Occasionally, I go to bed without having exercised or worked hard at something. Sure I give a great effort at work but at times, my sleep does not feel earned.

If I am chasing my writing dream with relentlessness, Should I not feel utter exhaustion from time to time?coffee-1425787-m

This past Saturday I rose at 530am to address that very thing and get some writing done. I used to do this before I had children and I felt I needed to do something drastic to keep my writing momentum going and consistently chase my dream.

Over the last week, I’ve been my most productive in months and I wanted to keep the momentum going and not stop because of the weekend.

So, I’m exhausted. But it’s not the exhaustion from the winter months it is exhaustion of the active, from the chase. Its energy spent on my dream. If that’s not worth getting up at 5 or 530, I’m not sure what is.

How far would you go to launch that company, finish that novel, or start that job search?

If it’s what you want to do (in respect to you responsibilities) it’s time to do what Red said in The Shawshank Redemption – Get busy livin’ or get busy dyin’.

Go and get exhausted. Give all you got.



My Favorite Writing Tool

I am the king of Post-it notes. They are on my wallet, my cell phone, and there is one on my computer now. Somehow, I always find myself with a billion ideas and no way to collect them all.

Sure, I could put them in a note book and squint at them later or store them in a word file or Google document that I’ll never open, but I wanted to SEE them. I wanted to be able to lay them down side by side and also track my writing progress.

Thus enter my favorite writing tool – my white board.white-board-1206708-m

My wife was at the office supply store and discovered they were wicked cheap and on sale. I’d love a nice frosted glass, trendy one, but I’d also like to not change my one year olds’ diapers. I have to understand what is necessary and what is me just wanting a cool new toy.

The reality is that having that writing software/tool is not going to make me better. Working hard consistently is. And now I have a place to keep track of my progress and flesh out ideas thanks to my wonderful bride.

I’ve hung the white board next to my bed so I can review tasks every day before I go to sleep and remind myself of upcoming goals and deadlines. I can also gaze at it as I doze off and make a mental note to get up early and get to work.

What is your favorite writing tool? How do you stay organized and on top of your tasks?



Saturday Photo Prompt | Space Skeletons

Stuck in your current project? A writing prompt completely unrelated to the task at hand can help loosen your writing muscles up. Try it today at my friend Josh’s blog. Happy writing.

Josh Mosey

jmspp_logoLook at the picture below and write a 100 word story. It really is that simple.

If you care to share, either post a link to your story in the comments, or post the whole story.

I can’t wait to see what you write!

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For Me, Failure Begins In The Morning

It starts as a whisper.

“Daddy, I need some orange juice.”

I look over to see my three year old daughter Clara trying to be politely quiet as she wakes me from my all too short slumber. It is then I realize that I hit either hit the snooze button or turned it off and I get up with her to watch Wild Kratts and snuggle.

I cherish my time with my kids but I kick myself for being too good intention-ed. I always mean to wake up earlier, which means, I meant to go to bed earlier. I can’t seem to choose either so I choose end up choosing neither.Sunrise

Jon Acuff writes in one of his books (Either Quitter or Start) that it is best to pursue your passion in the morning. I agree. But I also hate him for this.

When I write in the morning I carry the euphoric thrill of having chased my dream. This in turn fuels my day job. There have been many times that I am too mentally drained and plain tired from work to chase my dream at night. Then I make up some stupid mental agreement like – “Yeah but I’ll write 1000 words in the morning!” Which is usually followed by mental cursing because I read until 12:30am by accident.

All of this starts by not making my morning quiet time/writing time a priority. Thus a failure. But this constant failure and striving I hope to beat my body into submission where it is no longer a chore to rise early.

How do you create that writing time friend?

What tricks have you used to, er, trick yourself into your morning writing routine?

Until tomorrow morning…



Worldbuilding 101 Part 1 – History & Myth – Where Worldbuilding Begins

At Jot 5 I’ll being doing a Workshop on Worldbuilding. If this sounds uber nerdy to you please head to the previous post or patiently wait for tomorrow’s. Today is for the nerds. Or is it?

My firm belief is that great stories, whether classic literature or commercial fantasy, all go through a world construction process. Authors call it many things – research, plotting, and the like but it is all the same. We are creating a believable world that beckons our readers. Galaxie_peinture

All stories start before stories begin. To be less confusing, en medias res is Latin for “in the middle of things” and it is a common phrase we writers know. The ship has already sailed, the orphan is already orphaned, the civil war lost, the argument over, and it is from this aftermath that we start.

Where would Harry be without the Death Eaters and their previous war with the Order of the Phoenix?

Where would Oliver Twist be without the unfortunate death of his forebears?

Exactly. The happenings before our story are essential.

History can bring shame or laziness to a people. It can also produce tenacity or vengeance. It is not a ripple effect but the exact opposite, sloshing toward and interacting with the center point of it all – our story, our people, and our characters.

Whether you are writing a myth like The Simarillion or something concrete with a litany of historical facts like a history book, this is where we begin the process of formulating the culture from which our hero, heroine, or anti-hero rises. It does not have to be intricately detailed but we must know what happened before it all.

If you are a writer of fantasy or science fiction please stay tuned. We’ll talk about maps next.

What are your thoughts on this?

How do you start to build your world?



For Lent I’m Giving Up Lazy

The other day my writer friend Josh Mosey sent me an email asking how I was doing. He was concerned and a said I was not acting like my usual self when he saw me last.

He was right.

I was not writing and I knew it and was unhappy about it. Where I saw Josh was significant. I saw him at a book signing/release party for a world renown theologian from Austraila. I sent an email back asking for accountability with my writing. I was fed up with my laissez-faire attitude toward the craft.

He responded with the worst possible answer for my lazy self.Ash Wednesday

“Okay. But what is your plan? And how can I keep you accountable to it?”

I started began to reply with – jerk – but then relented and instead decided to lay out a concrete plan about what I wanted to accomplish.

If I am honest, I was just complaining. I did not expect such a brilliant response or that this would spawn something good. But it did and I am grateful for the question.

If am to give up lazy for Lent, it means I must reorganize my priorities. I love hockey but I won’t watch as much now. I need sleep, but this means sleeping less.

So thank you Josh and watch out faith, writing career, and chores.

I’m coming for you this Lenten season.



On Building A Passion Into A Discipline

Doesn’t Everyone Like This Too?

Have you ever loved a music album or book and thought, if only other people could hear it or read it they would love it? But then they don’t love it and you wonder how in the world that could happen?

This is how I feel about writing. I love it. I’m passionate about it. I could do it all day or night, and while I’d get tired eventually, I would certainly not tire of writing. When I had this thought for the first time I realized that writing is one of my passions and not everyone is passionate about the same thing.

Passions Are Unique

My wife likes math and has talked of possibly pursuing accountancy once the kids are a little older. I love my wife. More than anything in the world. But math, in nearly any form, makes me about as excited as I would be for a root canal.

I love that I’ve found my passion. Take a moment and think about yours. All of us have them. Usually, they are something in our wheelhouse, something we have some latent talent in. And they most certainly are something ingrained, that we enjoy.

It’s Up To You To Work At It

I dream about becoming a novelist. But I cannot just dream about it. I must take this unique passion I have and work at it. And work hard. I find so much joy and satisfaction from it and never want to cease doing it.

This requires discipline.

It requires showing up, maybe not here on my blog everyday, but movement toward my goal everyday.

I won’t be satisfied until I have that constant effort.



The Best Way to Fail at Writing a Book

It happens often. Mostly when I am struggling with my novel and I read a magnificent work of fiction. I drop the book, my arms fall to my sides, and I stare at the ceiling knowing for certain that I will never lossy-page1-1024px-Moods,_President_Lyndon_B._Johnson,_Secretary_of_Defense_Robert_McNamara_in_Cabinet_Room_meeting_-_NARA_-_192612.tifbe that good.

Many of my writer friends have shared this same thought. We compare ourselves daily and when we read a gold trimmed version of our favorite classic we are overcome. I get the feeling you, dear writer, may also struggle with this.

Part of the problem is what I bring to the table. I was not educated in Oxford nor was I a war correspondent for the Toronto Star during the Spanish Civil War. My life experiences are dull in comparison. But this is not the problem. The problem is that I consider even for a moment that someone else’s life is better than the one I am living now. I forget that everyone has a tale, whether tragic or otherwise, to tell.

C.S. Lewis wrote C.S. Lewis Stories. Hemingway wrote the way only Hemingway could. I bring Bob Evenhouse’ experiences and thus tell a story the only way I know how. This is what I must remember. I must reach into myself and write out of who I am, just like you must do the same.

The world of literature would be boring if bookshelves were stuffed only with novels about Harry Potter or Baker Street.

Write your story.



On Hustling With Afterburners

I have thousands of hopes for my writing. I would love publish a full length novel, become somewhat of a professional blogger, and even launch several websites to share some of my passions.

The problem with this is the silly old thing we call time. Or is it?

There are many nights I stay up late reading, or sometimes (like tonight), writing. Like many writers I cringe when people refer to my work as a hobby but if I am honest with myself, I treat it that way from time to time. I casually poke at a book or think of ideas for websites but never dive in. I try a consistent, dull trudge of activity but there are times when I feel a project requires more than a steady plod to get it off the ground and get some momentum.

Enter Jon Acuff and the term “hustle.” What does that mean exactly?

It means afterburners.Blastoff!

It means focusing less on sleeping and more on getting that website off the ground. There are times for a simple plod, yes. But there are also times to give a magnanimous shove, burning everything you have, in order to take whatever that thing is you have always wanted to do to the next level.

What is it that thing you’ve been wanting to do but have not dedicated yourself to it? Not just making it a discipline and a habit, but making it a passion and giving it all you have to get it going?

I’ll share more about my latest project later this week, but until then – exhaust yourself.