10 Oct

Top Ten Writing Resources – Fall 2016

Top Ten Writer's Resources Fall 2016

Top Ten Writer's Resources Fall 2016There are some things that work plain better than others, that resonate with your needs better than others. When it comes to writing, I have tons of resources that I use on occasion, some that I use repeatedly and a few that I use all the time.

This is my Top Ten List of Writing Resources for the fall of 2016 (with some bonuses and honorary mentions). Read More

09 May

You Have to Begin

You have to begin

You have to beginYou have to begin.

You have to begin, over, and over, and over again. A new story, a new chapter, a new sentence.

You have to begin. That’s all there is to it.

For me, beginning is always hard. I know of people who look at the page and don’t know what to write. I don’t. If I look at the page, I start to write. It’s the moment before, right as I start the computer, think about what I need to do, that’s the hardest.

I know I should begin. I know that as soon as I begin I’ll be able to write, I’ll be getting somewhere, anywhere. But the moment before I start, that’s pure fear.

I’ve been writing professionally for over fifteen years now, and I still have trouble beginning. I still feel the fear. Read More

08 Feb

No, You’ll Never Have Time to Write

No Time to Write

No Time to WriteI’m sorry, but you’ll never have time to write.

Not when the kids move out, not when you retire, not when you find a friendly billionaire who’d just love to gush money and adoration upon you. If you haven’t found the time to write now, you won’t find it then. Here’s why.

Time is the one commodity that everyone has the same amount of. You, Donald Trump, Brandon Sanderson, Nelson Mandela1, you’ve all got the same amount of time. And they’re world famous in Poland2 while you’re not. So what gives?

When I started out, I didn’t have time to write. I lived a pretty hectic life: I studied full time, I taught martial arts (Ju-jutsu Kai), I had a girlfriend, I had friends. I also played about 100 hours of video games each week.

Later, I didn’t have time to write. I lived a pretty hectic life: I worked full time, I had a wife, a baby, and a number of webcomics and blogs to read.

Later yet, I had a full time job, a wife with a full time job, and two small kids. And I had time to write. Not only that, I now have time to edit, write and receive critiques, read online comics and blogs, be active on social media, write this blog, and submit my work to magazines and competitions.

What the hell gives?

The good news is I haven’t found a time machine. I haven’t cut out everything fun from my life either. All I’ve done is create a few, simple habits and follow them slavishly. Read More

12 Oct

Have you found your Long, Lonely Hours?

Long, Lonely Hours - Ben Bova quote

Long, Lonely Hours - Ben Bova quote

In the end, it is those long, lonely hours when there is nothing in the universe except you and your writing instrument that will determine how successful a writer you will be.
– Ben Bova

I’m tired. My head hurts, I’d like to talk away from the computer.

I don’t.

This here, right now, is where I decide my career, what I’ll be doing in ten years time. The seconds tick away, the Bollywood music plays in my headphones. My hands clatter on the keyboard. That is the sound of my future. That is the way that I create what I want to be.

There is no one stopping me. There is no one stopping you. Time? Money? Stress? Those are excuses. You can excuse yourself. You can excuse yourself from all your dreams. Just make sure to take a good look at them for tomorrow they’ll be gone. Not because you can’t fulfill them anymore, but because you chose to ignore them. You chose the way that didn’t lead towards your dreams and so you walked away from them. I know. I’ve been there. Read More

30 Sep

Spark Wednesday: What if?

Here’s an idea: what if old 8-bit computer games came to take over the world? What would happen? Would it be cool or horrible?

There are many ways to spark ideas, the “what if method” is one of them. So for this spark ask yourself “what if”.

  • What if your game changed core or supporting mechanics?
  • What if your novel was set under water (that’s the premise of David Brin’s amazing Startide Rising Amazon )?
  • What if you had to remove every fifth word from your story (that’s what Jerry Pournelle did with his classic military SF Janissaries and it became a much better book for it)?
  • Or simply  what if something strange happened?

Oh, and take a look at the originals to the Pixels movie:

07 Sep

Do. Create. Live.

Believe in yourself - Kris Rush quote

Believe in yourself - Kris Rush quoteWhen was the last time you sat down to write and came to, night turning the first shades of dawn, and you still in front of your computer, doing what you love?

When was the last time you sat down to work and came to, realizing that no matter what you did it wouldn’t matter?

When was the last time you followed your passion to create, to make something new, to live what you love? Read More

04 Sep

How Ignoring the News Made Me Happy

Undisturbed by violence quote

Undisturbed by violence quoteWhen I was 20 I went to Amsterdam. They had an exhibit in the Science Center Nemo where there was a machine that flashed images on a screen. There were calm images (a beautiful flower, a still lake, a pair of bunnies) and mixed in amongst them were disturbing images – a decapitated chicken, a pair of naked men, a hunter pointing his rifle at you. You’d put your fingers into a pair of electrosensitive cups and the machine told you how disturbed you were by the various images. My reactions were right on track for all images. All images except one.

I didn’t show any reaction to the man pointing a rifle at my head. No reaction at all. Read More

28 Aug

What I Learned from Playing Games

Learning Mahatma Gandhi quote

Learning Mahatma Gandhi quoteAll games teach. Good games keep teaching. Great games teach something worthwhile.

What did I learn from playing Fluxx Amazon? That rules can change, that loss can come suddenly, that planing is futile. Yeah, that’s not much, that’s not much at all.

I wouldn’t call Fluxx a great game. Other’s might, they might learn to laugh and cry and curse with their friends. Me, I learned that it wasn’t a game for me.

I’ve been playing games for close to 30 years now. I learned to read and then to write English from them (Kings Quest and Space Quest and Leisure Suit Larry forced me to). I learned to get along, to not get along and to click as rapidly as I could. I learned that I couldn’t play all games, that some games were too immersive for me, to the point of wiping out reality.

I learned that I wasn’t alone, that there were other’s like me, the geeks and outcasts, the unpopulars and brainiacs. Read More

20 May

How Creativity is Like Swordsmanship

Pen and Sword crossed

Warsaw Sword MaidenHow do you carry your sword?

Me, I carry mine on the hip, opposite my lead hand. That way I can draw it in one perfect motion-and-cut. Or in a stop-thrust with the pommel. I can even do a partial draw followed by a two-handed blade thrust to the side.

You know, in case my buddy suddenly decides to stab me at the dinner table.

I don’t practice Iaido. I’ve gone a few time but it was terrible on my knees and not quite as much fun as I had imagined. I don’t do Aikido. It looks fun but all that rolling around wasn’t for me. I’ve thought about LARP-ing but weaving chain-mail is a drag. I’ve never attended an SCA-meeting.

By now you’re guessing that this post has very little to do with wielding ancient weaponry and something with game design after all. You may be right. But back to the question at hand:

How do you carry your sword?

On your hip, ready for the draw? Over your back? In your hand? At the ready? Or do you carry a blaster instead?

Yeah, there’s definitely a lesson on design in here somewhere. Read More

25 Apr

A Note On Discovering Pride And Self-Esteem

Towards my dreams quote

Towards my dreams quoteThere was a light fog yesterday.

That in itself is nothing unusual, as there is often fog in early spring here. The remarkable thing is that I realized it when I noticed that the trees in the distance grew indistinct.

I have to insert a little aside about myself here. I was a geek before geekdom was cool, spending my time buried in books and computers at the fringe of the social hierarchy. I grew up to be invisible and the more invisible I grew the more I curled up and looked down. For years I never saw beyond the few feet of concrete in front of me.

I got real good at avoiding dog poop, and found a coin now and then, but I never faced the world. Read More