04 Jan

How I write this blog

Banner - PenI thought this might be a fun thing to do, to let you see exactly the process I use to write my blog.

Right now I’m walking outside, it’s about 10 degrees Celsius. There are nice weather, a little bit wet since it’s in the fall.

And I’m dictating this into my Voyager into my Plantronics Voyager 3200 headset.

Did you notice what just happened there? I said Voyager twice, because I missed a word. I’m not going to correct this in editing. All I’m going to do is clean up the punctuation and any spelling errors.

Everything else remains. So your

Everything else remains. So what you see here is the exact transcript of the exact words that I use. Read More

28 Dec

Pulling Down the Pedestal – On Dealing with insecurity in writing

Banner - Fountain PenI’m working on a project right now. It’s a spaghetti western in space with magic, and I’ve come to a point where I have no idea where the project should be going.

On one hand, it could end.

There is enough for a cataclysmic showdown with everybody getting gunned down by the hero. That will make it rather short and I like the characters and setting. I’m not quite ready to leave them just yet. There is room for tidying up unfinished business.

But I have no idea how I’m going to do that. I’m pantsing it, writing in to the dark. I don’t know the world, I don’t know the hero, the opposition, the side characters. I’m inventing everything as I write. Read More

14 Dec

You’ve got to have hope

You’ve got to have hope.

Not blind faith. This business is way too influenced by luck for that. Not a realistic assessment of your chances. Your chances are way too uncertain for that. Hope.

Hope is the feeling that you could achieve something with a bit of luck, with a bit of skill, with a bit of perseverance. Hope is the feeling that what you do matters, that you can influence the world around you in a positive way. Hope is what makes life in uncertain times possible. It doesn’t really matter what your business is, how uncertain it is, or what you’re writing, or creating, or hoping for.

You need hope simply to survive. Read More

23 Nov

Does your mirror say that you’re happy?

Banner - Sunrise

In my day job, I do a lot of zoom meetings, and every time, I’m struck by how similar people look on zoom.

You can get 20 images, side by side in a big grid. 20 faces looking back at you. And they all frown. Every single one.

Granted, I’m from Sweden and Swedes are a bit of a dour people. We don’t have that compulsory, smiling thing that they do in Japan, or that big “I love everything in the world is great”-thing they do in the USA.

But still, I’ve spoken to people from other countries on zoom, and they don’t look much happier than I do. Read More

09 Nov

Flexible yet indomitable

Banner - Old tree

Banner - Old tree

You want to be flexible. Not like water, which will flow around anything, but will be stopped by a simple dam, be pumped away, forced into a new path, evaporate, or simply sink into oblivion.

You want to be indomitable. Not like a rock, which is hard and strong, but once cracked, will never heal itself.

No, you want to be flexible, yet indomitable. Like a tree.

A tree will grow past any obstacles, cracking concrete, breaking through rock. It will stand against hurricanes and floods, shaking, bending, but resuming its growth once the storm passes.

Read More

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 Mandela[note]Well, not Nelson Mandela since he’s dead.[/note], you’ve all got the same amount of time. And they’re world famous in Poland[note]That’s a quote.[/note] 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: