My Novel Recommit – 7000 Words In 7 Days

Books are arduous things. They can start off with the thrill of a new idea or, if this is your first book, the thrill of seeing your words on the page. The beginning can be the best.

However sooner or later we arrive in that messy middle. Either a life event or work gets in the way or the book becomes difficult. This is the place where questions start.

Am I good enough?

This idea is stupid, right?

Then statements follow.

No one would read this. I am not a writer. The End.

The fact is, the middle is where novels and dreams die.

But we can stop this. We can continue. It starts with a recommit.

Today I am restarting in the middle. I am allotting time to my book that went to conference planning, blog writing for conference website, and developing my talk. I am going to write at least 7000 words in 7 days on my YA novel.

typewriterWhy 1000 words? Because that’s a bit of a stretch for me to do daily while prepping for my workshop in three weeks at Breathe Writers Conference and keeping up with my blog.

A novel is a struggle but its also like lifting weights. If you can do 80 lbs don’t try to do 150lbs the next day. Try 85 or 90 and work your way up from there so your body can handle the stress.

If you plan on joining me this week please comment below. Also, share your word count goal. I like a good challenge. Write well today. I’ll let you know how it goes tomorrow.

How about you? How can you recommit to your novel? What word count or goal is a little more than your current output?

On Consistency and Imaginary Plane Crashes

I’m reading the book Start by Jon Acuff again. There are some leadership or ‘Live a Better Life Now!’ books that I want to throw into the heart of the sun. This is not one of them.

Part of the brilliance of the book is that it is not telling you ‘5 Easy Steps to the Life You Want!’ or some other stupid prepackaged garbage but instead it offers you some food for thought and then let’s you choose the path best for you.

I am reading a section titled the Land of Learning. This is the light bulb, crash and burn, and playful area of mastering something. You discover that one thing you keep coming back to (writing or collecting coins, whatever) and you start to dabble in it more.  You fail, fall on your face, but you have fun with it – sort of like learning how to ice skate.Start

Mr. Acuff also explains how he’d love to be in a plane crash. Not a horrible one, but one that gives him that near death experience which changes the way he approaches life. So he played one out in his mind.

What would he do if he valued life every minute he lived it?

Sleep more? What?!

Watch one more episode of The Walking Dead? NO!

He’d spend time doing the stuff he’d always wanted to do. Like write a book. In other words, the crash would bring into focus what matters most.

One question he asks and I redirect it to you is, how about give 30 minutes a week to your dream? This may seem light but it is a start we can all commit to. Once we show up that often every week, 52 times, who knows what might happen.

What do you plan to spend your 30 minutes on?



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…



Is Jon Acuff A Liar?

I respect Jon Acuff and thoroughly enjoyed his books. They were inspiration to me and if I had an inordinate amount of money I’d have them all in hardcover. They were water to my creative soul, and gave me drive to work hard and joy at being productive. Unfortunately, I tried to implement one of his suggestions and I failed, utterly.

DawnAround the country there are people who get up and meet at 5am. These people have taken a page from Acuff’s book Start. I don’t recall the official title of these stoic individuals but something like Starters or 5amers comes to mind. Anyway, Mr Acuff says starting early can help your productivity throughout the day. Start goes on to say that it’s easier to do whatever it is you strive to do or be (WRITER!) before the day’s cares and stresses have at you and sap your energy. I wholeheartedly agree with this. If I get up early and pray, read the bible, have a bit of writing time, then enter my day, it is 100% more productive than if I just get up, stumble to the coffee pot and then to work.

You may or may not agree that there are morning people and night owls. They may be subjective terms that mean productive members of society and unmotivated slackers. But how does Mr. Acuff expect me to get up at 5am when I’ve just been up at 2am and 4am with my children? And I won’t even mention my cat. Bandit, I love you, but clawing my face at 3am is not appreciated. Ever had sick kids and be up all night? Try getting up when you are already up. Ouch.

Though it was a huge inspiration, I find myself diverting from a lot of what is said in the book Start to “what works for me whenever it works for me and does not take away from my family time”. I’ve wasted a lot of time looking at what other people do and try to implement their formulas. The thing is I am not them. Their plan worked for them during that portion of their life and got them to where they are today. It might not work for you and me. We might have to find another way.

I was talking with my wife the other day and lamented the fact that I simply cannot count on the morning hours to write, not at this juncture in my life anyway. It has worked in the past, just not now with children this young. She asked me what worked for me and I thought about it. When is the perfect time for me to write?

I‘d like to think of myself as that responsible morning person: get up, make coffee, and put the house in order before anyone is up. I get some exercise in, some writing too, and have an effective morning launch into my day. But maybe I am that slacker night owl that writes until 1am four nights a week.

So for now, I am going to write when I can count on it: when everyone else is asleep and I am awake. Per my wife’s brilliant suggestion, I cleared a shelf next to my bed and bought a 15$ fan to curb the clickety-clack of the keys on my laptop so my wife can sleep.

I guess the idea of Start is to, well, start. Mr Acuff, you weren’t wrong there. Thanks for the inspiration to keep going.

Write 500 words today!



Begin Your Writing Career Today

I work in sales. When a month is going slow and my confidence is waning the normal thing to do is to look for “low hanging fruit”.

The term low hanging fruit is the simple act of looking for a customer who needs to purchase within the next week or two. This is not a ploy to harass anyone but a redirection to give you a boost. In another sales-ish term a “win-win.” You get the confidence that comes with making a sale and you provide a service to someone who needs it anyway.

Why do I mention this? Because confidence is essential to the writer and it does not always begin with grandiose things. It starts with a first step.

I remember my English teaching in high school sharing a story about spilled dog food.

photo credit:
photo credit:

The way she described the event and aftermath was a war zone and enough dog pellets to easily fill an Olympic sized swimming pool. It would take a lot of work and time to clean up. So she started piece by piece, not worrying about the whole bag, but only the next piece to get in rhythm with the task. Soon, it was done.

Any discipline requires this.
Take writing for instance.

If you want to be published and have yet to do so, or simply want to build your credentials as a freelance writer, I suggest starting somewhere small. Begin with a short story or an article. I started with a novel and for several years all I had was a goopy mess of words. It has since solidified but the task took much longer than I anticipated and I struggled with confidence throughout.

Recently I read an article in Writer’s Digest that instructed the wannabe writer to write a list of people in the writing world they know and periodicals to which they could possibly submit. In a matter of minutes I realized I knew the main writer for a local paper, the editor of a journal, and I knew a lot of people who blogged or had websites. It is important to have publishing credentials if you are shopping a novel. So I fired off some emails.

In a day or two I had responses from several of these places asking for submissions. Shortly thereafter I published an article in a journal and a website.

So, why do I mention this? What is the purpose of this post?

The message is to start somewhere. A novel might seem overwhelming to some of you or you might need to become the master of something small to gain experience and confidence to move to the next big thing.

Sit down and write a list of who you know. Send out emails and begin. Writing credentials are essential to anyone who wants to have a solid writing career.

Start today.
It could mean you are published tomorrow.