Why I’ve Decided To Not Learn Anything New This Month

My inbox is full each day. It’s true for almost all of us. It’s also true that this is my fault, I signed up for most of these newsletters and let’s be clear I enjoy the content, for the most part.

I spend a lot of time tending my email garden. I also spent a lot of time reading books on creativity, how to become a better author, and the latest tips and tricks of blogging/email marketing.

But these actions are coiling the spring. I am learning. And there comes a point where the learning needs to end and action needs to start.

Graduates

Don’t get me wrong. I understand the benefits of being a life long learner and consider myself one. However, if you are cold, there is a huge difference between learning how to build a fire, and actually making one.

My life, much like yours, is crowded. There is only so much time in a week. And it’s time I started using what I have learned.

So I am putting the books away.

I am clicking on the delete or archive button and not opening that email.

Because July is dedicated to action.

To forward movement.

To getting out there and getting my hands dirtier than they’ve been this year.

After all, this is the intension of learning is it not?

To act.

To go.

To grow.

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Why I Purposely Never Finish Anything In One Sitting

Based on the title you may envision a half-finished dinner or a neglected Netflix queue but that’s not what I intended. I’m referring to my writing projects of course.

laid table

Some of my best writing is my Second Writing. It’s the writing I do while I am not at my keyboard. I put something on the page, wrestle with it for a bit, then get up and head to work, to rake leaves, etc. More often than not, when I return, I have the answers or clarity I was seeking.

This is one of the best benefits of having a solid writing schedule. I have a draft session then a polish session. When it doesn’t come out right I find it’s worse to force it. There is nothing more disheartening than deleting a plot point that took hours to put together.

I first heard of this method while reading Stephen King’s book On Writing. If you are a writer and have not read it you have too, it’s a prerequisite. In his memoir/writing advice book, Mr. King says that he needs to have proper distance from a piece after it’s finished to be able to come back with a proper perspective. This allows him to kill his darlings and be certain of it.

This is how I blog. I come back to it (if I don’t accidentally hit post) and then finish. It’s how I’m doing the query letter for my fantasy novel now. I want to give my words enough time to settle. Then I can evaluate them objectively.

Do you plow through your projects or do you give them time to percolate?

Part-Time Novel Update – My new publishing schedule will be Monday, Wednesday, Friday. I’m slowing things down as baby number four arrives in a few weeks. I also hope to provide better content. Thank you in advance for sticking with me.

My Writing Update

My blogs are always posted before 8AM. Today I’m unusually late for the best of reasons. I was too busy recovering from the Jot Writers Conference that I helped put on and presented at that I had to hold off until tonight.

Here is the list of my blogs this week. I hope you found some encouragement, inspiration, and a little of yourself in them.

Writing Update

Monday’s post was all about organization. As we move ahead with our blogs and websites we can forget who may be watching. This post is a response to one written by Chad Allen over at Chadrallen.com. He’s an editorial director at Baker Publishing Group. If you ever want to be published some day, read THIS!

On Tuesday’s post, I wrote about how small, seemingly inconsequential details can create a huge impact both positive and negative. What details are you missing in your writing life?

We all get to the point where we feel cannot go on with a project. I’ve been there and back a hundred times. Check out Wednesday’s blog that asks the question, Are you a Chronic Starter or a Steady Finisher?

Thursday, I celebrated my blog’s belated birthday. Happy four years Part-Time Novel!

On Friday I wrote about suspending disbelief and writing regardless of what others may think or say. Please check it out. I’m a bit bashful to write this, but I consider it the best post I’ve written in some time.

Saturday, it was all about the Jot Writers Conference. Check out the post wrapping up the week.

Come back tomorrow.

I have some great content and stories to share about the Jot Writers Conference.

Plan, then Do. Fulfill those Dreams.

So, here we are. It’s Monday, there’s a brand-new week of us. We have the opportunity to fulfill our dreams or to crush them. There’s so much time ahead. We haven’t done anything with it yet. I know some of this time will be filled with work, family obligations, and even more with work around the house. A lot of things will be competing for this time.

Right now it’s unused. And now is the time for a plan. You know what you want to do. I know what I want to do. I want to write. And not just anything. Not just blog posts, or Tweets, or Facebook status updates or comments. I want to write a novel. That is what I want to do.Clock - Spain

Today, aspiring writer, this post is for you. Look ahead. Find the time. This may mean sacrificing sleep or a lunch time. This may be sacrificing hanging out time with friends that are going out to places you love. But remember. Remember what you want to do. That is key. Then plan out your time to make it happen. Do not deviate.

Write well this week. Don’t give up. Look for ways to eliminate distractions or new ways to write as fast as you can!

Cheers,

Bob

Interview with Author Daniel F Bowman

Today, I am loaning my blog to published author Daniel F. Bowman. We both attended Cornerstone University but recently connected through a mutual friend. If you are interested in a good read, especially historical fiction, I would encourage you to check out his book – Alaric, Child of the Goths.

What inspired your novel?

My wife Amanda and I rarely get a chance to take a weekend off and spend it together (without the kids), but back in 2009 we visited the Toledo Zoo (with our son). Amanda was wiped out from walking all around, so I had the chance to watch the History Channel after she fell asleep. We have never had cable, so this was as much a part of vacation as was watching the polar bear tear apart a trash can.

The episode was—you guessed it—about the Goths. I stared at the screen as I heard how a group of farmer-soldiers were cheated by Rome but decided to stand up to her, though she was the greatest empire in the world. They would not put up with bullying. The program ended: “Oppression sires rebellion, and when pushed too far, even the weak and the shattered can rise to challenge their oppressor.” I feel chills every time I hear that.

How did you hear about the writing contest?

I looked for “historical fiction 2012 writing contests” online. I was discouraged by the trouble of getting an agent, and knew that trying to approach a publisher directly for historical fiction was a waste of time. After looking through my list of contests, the best bet seemed to be Creative Print Publishing (CPP), as that had no fee to enter and the winner received publication.

What got you into writing in the first place?

I haven’t always written, though when I think back, I realize that I have tried for a long time. When I was a child, I wrote 1½-page stories of alien abductions, ending before the main character ever made it to the spacecraft! I also like pirate novels, though these always stopped after the third mutiny.

During college, I began writing “The Tinker’s Sons” about two boys (based on my brothers) who were destined to overthrow the evil empire. It was fun telling them the story each night.

Do you have other plans in place along the same storyline?

I began my 3rd book this month.

1st—Alaric, Child of the Goths. (Battle of Adrianople, Fall of Rome, overthrowing the evil empire!)

-Published

2nd—Hammer of God (Charles Martel, Battle of Tours —Christian Franks vs Muslim Umayyads)

-Entered in gracenotesbooks.com competition, now being reedited

3rd—Mother of Mexico (Dona Marina, wife of Hernando Cortes—Aztecs and Spanish)

Amanda—my wife and editor—wants a book with a female POV. I’m up for the challenge. It might help me as a husband to get in a woman’s mind.

What are you plans for writing, hobby, full time, dreams?

So far, it’s a nice hobby and publishing was a good goal before turning 30. I barely made it!

Ideally, I would like to get paid for writing so that my main job (teaching ESL) became additional income, rather than the way it currently is. Then again, I don’t know how I would handle the freedom of my own hours. I have a feeling that I would never feel caught up enough to stop working.

Where do you get your ideas?

History is full of stories—true ones (unlike the wildly-adapted-but-still-enjoyable Braveheart, 300, Gladiator…). So many heroes, villains, and tragedies have happened which far exceed the fictional ideas of authors, and many of these stories are known only in boring monographs. I aim to remedy that.

Do you write each day? If so, where? When? 

I recently finished a break from writing. After submitting Hammer of God, I wanted to take off the rest of 2012 and prevent burnout. When I am writing, I try to write 1,000 words daily = 5,000 weekly. This is doable and I usually achieve it. Plus, ideally, I could finish a book in six months this way.

Where do you write?

My office (more like a storage room most of the time). Having a door between me and my family is a psychological help for focusing. I also work well as I proctor quizzes at work, wear headphones in the school computer lab so no one interrupts, or am in busy places apart from home. I think it’s because I can ignore everyone there. The non-office places are perfect for putting down ideas, but I tend to need a large chunk of time to put them all together.

When do you usually write?

This is the harder question.

I used to write in the morning, but as my son has proven to be a morning person, I no longer have that time to myself. So I guess this coming year will have me in the office at night. The best tip I came across for “when” is to always plan my next session before I end my current one. That way I can write anywhere/anytime, knowing what I’m supposed to do next. I rarely have writer’s block because of this.

Daniel, Thanks for taking the time to put this interview together. If you are interested in his novel, or have questions for Daniel, please visit his site at http://danielfbowman.webs.com/

Cheers,

Bob

What Makes A Good Story Good?

What makes a story good? If you surveyed your reading friends you would probably get many different answers:

  • Characters
  • Time Period
  • Author’s voice/writing style
  • Action
  • Plot points
  • Topic
  • Because of the person who wrote it

The list could go on and on and chances are you thought of many more reasons why a story is good. This question and its answer is of particular interest to the novelist. We authors write because we like to write, simple as that. But what if our work comes to nothing? Not that is has to be a best seller or even published for that matter, but we at least want our work to be solid and relevant, right?

So I have created a survey below to ask you what makes a story good and why you would be compelled to recommend it to others.

If your reason is not included in the poll, please select “other” and elaborate below.

Cheers,

Bob

Short Story from Julia’s Place “Would Seven Prove To Be Too Much”

I put a post about this word challenge on my blog last week without much of an introduction. This post is an entry in a writing contest at Julia’s Place called the 100 word challenge. It is a wonderful way to hone your skills, be choosey in your word selection, and try to be compelling in a brief amount of space. It’s sort of like tweeting a story or a writing sprint.

Titled: Don’t Be Like This Guy

Dirk put the phone down wondering if he was jeopardizing his chances of landing an agent.

He’d been calling all day asking for Mrs. Swenson of Swenson Agency Limited. However, she did not return his calls nor did Veronica her assistant.  He wondered if Veronica was actually taking his messages because he could hear her drumming her fingers along the desk, especially after the sixth call.

But this is what being an author is about, right? You have to do this to get published, don’t you?

So, Dirk pick up the phone, breathed a heavy sigh, and dialed again wondering, would seven prove to be too much?

Write today!

Cheers,

Bob

How Often Should You Write?

Happy Tuesday. I am proud to announce that the internet quandary has been resolved and I have the ability to post once again, look out!

Since my hiatus from the blogging and writing world over the last few weeks a question came to mind. How can I call myself a writer if I am not writing? Which brought to mind another question. How often should a writer write and still be allowed maintain that glorious namesake of “Writer” with a capital W?

I wrote a post a while back about warring between time spent on my platform (here) and time spent on my novel. What happens when you are too busy to do either?

I know I am the king of “If you can’t find time to write why not cut out some sleep and just catch up on that later.” Well, Bob, I can’t cut out sleep because I can’t count on the fact that there will be sleep in my future! (Take that haughty Bob).

Some of my “Greats”

Which brings me to my question for today’s blog. How often should writer’s write? When you consider the Greats, (whatever authors work resides on your bookshelf, I presume) how often did they write? In my mind I consider them super heroes, writing from dawn until dusk and even all night for months or years at a time.

However, how unbelievable it might seem, I am certain there were times when they did not write too. Times when they had to focus their efforts on their clerk duties or when there were papers to be graded.

How long does it take until you get that twinge of guilt and shameful thought of, well, I should probably get back to writing? I am there and will certainly remedy it this week. If you are here I hope you do too.

Cheers,

Bob