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?

Cheers,

Bob

Not Making Plans Is Still Making Plans

Last week I made no plans to write, I just knew I was going to do it.

You know what I did, don’t you?Television

I watched three NHL games, a documentary on Oak Island (seriously cool), and one on Native American giants. Of course I didn’t watch all of these in one sitting, but the fact is I didn’t make plans to write, so that is exactly what I did. I squandered my free time. It was out there in some nebulous, free flowing time slot which was never filled and I felt miserable for it.

If you’ve wanted to complete a project around your house and just have not gotten around to it, I am sure you can relate. If we don’t make plans, whatever it is we long to do or need to do won’t happen.

Today? I made a mental note. I was going to write before I went to bed. No matter how tired or mentally drained I was, it was going to happen and here we are.

This blog is nothing monumental, but it is. Commitment is one thing. Planning and following through on our commitments another.

If you are a writer and have not written this week, take a moment and schedule some time.

There. Now keep that appointment.

Cheers,

Bob

How To Create An Effective Word Count Goal

Failure

Think about the last time you failed at a goal. Be it to land a job, run a triathlon, swim a mile, write a book, etc. Whatever it is, it weighs on you. It can be a mocking, dark cloud. You might have failed from lack of effort but those usually don’t hurt. I am talking about one that hurts, and hurts bad. Not a mosquito bite, but a side swipe by a car.

I’ve been side swiped on and off for the last seven years. Okay that might seem a bit dramatic but the stings have been there. I’ve gone through spurts where I have written a lot, and not written at all. This is not what a novelist does, I told myself. Novelists write every single day. They get up and write when they don’t feel like it. They write when they are tired and when they have no effort or words left. Still, they keep laying them down one by one.

I’ve read how Stephen King would spend hours every day finishing his daily word count, Hemingway too. These giants keep/kept a pace of writing deities. I used to think with a little bit of effort, I could do five hundred words a day. But then I’d have a bad day. A day where nothing comes together and my emotions are sapped. I’d given all I could to my family and gladly, but I’d get nothing on the page. There was no more time for artistic pursuits. This was a big issue for me. I’m serious about my work. This is what I want, but I keep failing at measly little daily word counts.

A Realistic Goal

I am reading the Art of War for Writers by James Scott Bell. It is an excellent read and I recommend it to any writer I know. In its pages I discovered something so simplistic I could punch myself for not trying it before (actually I did punch myself): the weekly writing goal.

Instead of walking around feeling like a failure five days a week, because I wrote only two hundred words those days, I’ve decided to aim for a weekly writing goal.

Here are three reasons weekly writing goals work

  1. They are flexible. With a life dominated by the sporadic, I could suddenly lose or gain writing time. Instead of being bummed or paralyzed you can be okay with not writing, or staying up late working toward your goal.
  2. It is a goal. Writers need goals. We need to be working for something. Be it a short story, poem, or novel, there needs to be consistent work and effort. Professional writers, like professional athletes, don’t get to where they are by being lukewarm in their pursuits.
  3. It builds momentum. I wrote 2547 words on my novel last week. I wrote 2 blogs (429, 589 words) and in my sons journal every day. It was nice to continually write. If I had a daily goal, I am sure missing one day would let the air of out my momentum and crush another day with ease. I want to stop that failing feeling.

For my weekly goals, I’ve decided to write:

3000 words on my novel.

2 blogs a week.

1 short story submission per month.

I do all of this while keeping track on a notebook. I always count backward to my goal 3000-0. It’s a physiological thing. Do whatever works for you.

Avoid the power of failure. Set an effective weekly writing goal and don’t compromise. Don’t make it 10,000 words if you don’t have the time and vice versa. Maybe you can only get 1000 words done per week. Whatever your goal is, keep striving and keep writing. If you have goal setting tips, please comment below.

Cheers,

Bob

 

 

Making Plans

It’s been a month or so since I’ve written my blog. It’s been a few more since I’ve blogged consistently. This hiatus has been an intentional one, though I have missed my writing comrades scattered across the globe.

What I’ve Been Up To

I dropped my blog for a couple of reasons. First, I was allotting all of my writing time to my blog and commenting while I was in the middle of a dramatic overhaul of my novel. This required nearly all of my writing effort and writing time. I am pleased to report that it is finished and I am doing a final grammar scrub. I hope to have it to an acquisitions editor by my thirtieth birthday on May 19th.

Also, I have written a few short stories and submitted one of them. I’ve been inspired by reading several of Ray Bradbury’s articles on writing collected in Zen in the Art of Writing. They are wonderful. I would recommend them to any writer.

My Plans

I planned on picking a new theme/platform for the blog relaunch but it’s proven difficult to find one I like. I hope to do this soon.

Over the next year, I plan to cycle my novel through a few Literary Agents and hope for some feedback.

Also, I would like to get a short story finished every two weeks and submitted to journals or websites. I plan on submitting to multiple places from literary journals to flash fiction to sci-fi/fantasy. As a writer it is good to stretch yourself and I hope to do that.

Goals
That’s a lot of goals

I want to keep my writing goals realistic as I tend to be someone with way too many plans and not enough time. If only I could figure out how to survive on an hour or so of sleep. If you have figured that out, please let me know.

All of these goals are going to be up in the air come July as we welcome a new addition to the family. My son is due at the end of July!

Overall, it has been an exciting year for writing. I look forward to more submissions and rejections.

How about you?

Have you met your writing goals?

Are you using your writing time wisely?

Cheers,

Bob

Book Proposal Salvo Number 2

This morning was tumultuous, filled with excitement followed by the immediate feeling of regret. Yes, I sent out another book proposal. I am very excited but also had that tightening of the stomach feeling like speeding over a small brief hill in a car.

It’s Away!

I suppose this is how I should feel. If you spent a lot of time on your work (coming up on 8 years now) you should feel this way. After this it’s back to the editing front. I hope to get more chapters done this week. Time will tell.

Sorry for the brief post but I need to get back to work. Thank you to all who encourage and continue to read this blog. I could not have done it without my community. Writing is a solitary process at times. But no writer can get a book published on their own.

Good luck today. Remember your writing goals. Chase after them. Brush that sleep from your eyes and get it done today. Don’t wake up tomorrow with writer’s regret!

Cheers,

Bob

Part Time Novel Lite

So, my goal to wake early and write each day has been somewhat successful. It has depended upon whether my young daughter wakes up at 2am or not. It is a little harder to get out of bed in the morning when you’ve had two naps of two and a half hours, but I’ve done it, some of the time. Now that she is sleeping better, I have the desire to dig in and attain tangible progress on the writing front.

I wrote about the Breathe writing Conference several posts back. I was incredibly encouraged afterward and had a ton of writing energy but so little sleep that I did not have an opportunity to seize the day. Now, it might be premature but I think I will be able to string together a consistent writing time. And I don’t want to waste it.

Now it comes to it. I have decided to back down my blog to three days a week. Yesterday was an anomaly but I plan to post on Monday Wednesday and Friday. I realized that my goal is to be a novelist and to publish short stories. I turn Thirty next May and I want to be in the submission stage of writing, not just have a collection of blog posts, as much fun as they are.

Here are the writing goals I hope to accomplish by giving up blogging two days a week:

  1. Submit two short stories between now and Thanksgiving.
  2. Have the next draft of my novel to readers by the end of the New Year.
  3. Get a short story published next year.
  4. Seek representation for my novel after the New Year.

My challenge to you readers is remember your goals and your writing dreams and do something about them this week.

Cheers,

Bob

 

 

 

 

How I Plan To Edit My Novel

After I finish my book proposal (more on that tomorrow) I plan to get back to making my novel better. Some might think this is backwards, but there are things I’d like to clean up as I wait patiently (all to eagerly perhaps) for that form rejection letter.

When taking gravity, mathematics, and the concreteness of reality out of the way, there are about a billion ways to do just about anything. Here is my bumpy  and unproven road towards a cleaner fourth draft.

Step 1: Create Small Goals

When I look back on my novel there is a lot of work to be done. But I plan to approach these corrections and tackle them like I remodeled me house, one room at a time. If I were to read through for grammar, characterization, plot, and other errors simultaneously, I would immediately become overwhelmed by the plethora of mistakes. So I plan to read my novel several times to sweep over each one. Also, I will to do a simple read through taking notes first, before I do any hacking and whacking to my manuscript.

Step 2: Create A Plan

Not only can the writer/editor become overwhelmed with the mistakes that have been made on an early draft of a novel, but it can be nerve racking knowing just where to begin. I plan to print of my manuscript three chapters at a time and each night before I go to bed, simply read through 5-10 pages. 400+ pages can be a lot of work, but if I were to get on a role and finish 10 pages a day for a week, there’s 70 pages right there. And that’s not to mention lunch breaks at work and the occasional morning where I might have the energy to get up and knock out 5-10 pages.

Step 3: Identify Areas of Improvement

As I do my casual read through, while scratching some notes, I plan to identify areas of improvement. For instance, if I have inaccurate descriptions, if I forget a character completely, if a whole scene needs to be rewritten, a new scene added, or, as William Faulkner say if he were standing over my shoulder, if that little darling part needs to be killed.

Again, as I said at the beginning this is not a sure-fire way to edit. I don’t think there is. I think there are formulas we can use that might help, but it is what fits the writer best. The most important thing for me is figure out a system that works, and to do it.

One word at a time.

Cheers,

Bob