16 Nov

A Note on Time

Banner - Typewriter

Banner - Typewriter

I like to fool myself that I’ve got a fairly decent sense time. This, of course, is utter hogwash.

Humans live in relative time. We simply do not know how time passes, we can’t feel it, can’t predict it. And it’s doing pretty weird things to our sense of self, or rather our sense of accomplishment.

For example, I’ve been writing every day. For the past month, every single day. But some days, even though I’ve marked down that I’ve written, even though the writing has felt quite long and hard, I haven’t accomplished much.

Other days, even though I feel that I’ve just written a little bit and I would have liked to write more, I’ve written thousands of words.

Both of these feelings are false.

Fortunately, I’m pretty good at noting when I start and stop my writing sprints. And amazingly on the days when the writing has felt like it’s taken forever but I haven’t accomplished much, I haven’t spent much time writing.

Fancy that.

See, my writing speed is fairly constant around 1500 usable words per hour. So it’s the total amount of time I spend writing that determines my total output. It’s simple math. However, when I consult my feelings, it’s anything but simple.

On days when I produce less, I feel that I’ve spent more time and more effort on my writing, and on days that I produce more, I generally feel that I’ve spent less time and less energy to produce more.

What’s going on?

What’s going on, is that my flow, my enthusiasm, and my natural fear of encountering difficulties collaborate to make my sense of time as accurate as that of a five-year-old waiting for Santa Claus.

But the more sprint’s I do, the less that feeling persists. Basically, the more I write, the more I feel like writing, and the less time and effort I feel that I’m spending.

Note the key word “feel” here. It’s got nothing to do with actual, observable, measurable time. Everything is about feeling. That’s why time gets shorter the more I write.

It’s a like warming up before a workout. You warm up, and warm up, and it’s hard. You’re still stiff, maybe hurting a bit from the last workout, and things aren’t going so great. But then you move along into the exercise itself. And after about 10, or 15, or 20, or however many, minutes, you hit your stride.

You’re feeling good about it. You’re no longer thinking about how heavy those weights are or how long you’ve been running or biking or swimming. You’re just doing your thing, in the zone.

Writing is exactly like that. Getting into the zone takes time and that time feels like a long, hard slog with a heavy backpack. In absolute terms it can be minutes, maybe quarter of an hour at most, before things get into flow. But those beginning moments, the warm up to the writing feel long. Especially before you begin, when they feel infinite.

That little warm up hump is enough to put a lot of people off, stop them from writing entirely. I know that I’m one.

My methods to break through this brain-hurdle is to count my writing as starting. If I just sit down and start, I get to count that day as having written.

This means that no moment, even if it’s only three minutes of cycling through old text, is wasted. I get to chalk it up as writing.

It gets me past the hard relative time and into the easy relative time. Not always, but often enough. Not reliably, but often enough that I can reach that relative time that just flows, effortlessly and swiftly, like a brook in spring where the words tumble, waiting to be caught.

It doesn’t always work. I’ve got days where the beginning time really feels infinite, and I can’t get past it. I’ve got days when I’m too stressed out, too tired, to worn and depressed and just plain fed up to write.

But the more I write, and the more used I get to the habit of starting, the quicker I get into fast time.

And that’s where I want to be.

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

26 Sep

Defining your Writing Career Through a Mission Statement

Defining your Writing Career Through a Mission Statement

Defining your Writing Career Through a Mission StatementI have a dream. I dream to be a professional writer. You know, a professional writer. Who’s, you know, professional and stuff.

Until very recently I had no idea what being a professional writer meant. I had a vague idea that I wanted to get paid for writing, and that I should be able to make a living from my writing and game design combined, so that, you know, I wouldn’t need to go to work anymore.

I bet that you’ve had that kind of dream: if only I’d strike it big/win the lottery/accidentally buy a Ferrari made out of solid gold I’d be able to retire, live my dreams and eat lunch in my pajamas[note]I no longer eat lunch in my pajamas. Not only do I need to set a good example for the kids, but I no longer find bread crumbs in bead to be sexy.[/note]. But it never happens does it?

That’s because this kind of dream relies on magic. If only I’d magically get X, then Y would be easy. But magic doesn’t exist in the real world[note]Because we’re all Muggles[/note]. That’s why you need a Mission Statement. Read More

04 Jul

Dealing with Lack of Motivation

Dealing with Lack of Motivation

Dealing with Lack of MotivationI’m losing my will to write. I’m losing my will to design. In fact, I’m losing my will.

And I should have seen it coming.

I’ve learned some things about myself, things that I can’t seem to change. First off, I’m a carrot type of guy. I work best when I’m motivated by positive feelings. Negative motivation, stress, and pushes don’t work for me. And I know that I’m not alone. Read More

30 May

Easy and Safe Writing across Multiple Computers with Scrivener, Dropbox and Crashplan

Easy and Safe Writing across Multiple Computers with Scrivener, Dropbox and Crashplan

Easy and Safe Writing across Multiple Computers with Scrivener, Dropbox and CrashplanSome years ago I lost all of my writing in a hard drive crash. I’m not crying over spilled milk – the writing was rather horrible – but it did set me thinking about redundancy and safety. I started doing backups.

At first, I did backups to CDs. That worked all right, until I thought I had done a backup and formatted my hard drive. Of course, I didn’t have any CD with my latest stuff on it. And then, when my computer crashed and I had to reformat it, I lost a few months of work as well.

So instead of CDs, I started using an external drive to backup all of my files. Which worked fine, except that it’s a pain in the behind to hook it up all the time. And I didn’t want to leave it hooked up and out in the open because part of the reason of doing backups was to protect me in case my computer got stolen.

But, two years ago, I found my main backup and sync solution. And last month I found the perfect way to work across multiple platforms, multiple computers, in complete safety, without having to do anything. Read More

15 Feb

Why Bad Music Makes Good Work

Why Bad Music makes for Good Work

Why Bad Music makes for Good WorkIf you’re not listening to bad music when you work then you’re likely not working as well as you can.

At this point you’re one of two types of people: the ones who already tried what I’m about to tell you, so you’re all “of course” about it[note]Yepp, research backs you, like this study of music induced productivity during repetitive work.[/note], or you don’t like it and you think I’ve lost my mind. You may be right, but not in the way you think.

Humans have an amazing ability to dive deep into activities, and when we do, we become amazingly productive. You think writing 15 novels in a year while holding down a full time job is impossible? How bout just sitting down and writing, no outline, no safety net, and still producing great fiction?

Yeah, a lot of that is practice, but a lot more is mindset. So how do you get into a productive mindset? Read More

11 Jan

A Simple Way to Become an Awesome Idea Genius

Idea Machine

Idea MachineThere was a time I had trouble coming up with ideas.

I’d dream ideas, and I could remember my dreams being filled with wonderful ideas, the feeling of brilliance that accompanied them, but the ideas themselves were as gone as yesterday’s dew.

I couldn’t come up with anything. My mind was blank, gray, and full of dust. It felt like I’d swallowed balls of rolled up spider webs.

I tried sleeping more, sleeping less, and keeping a pad of paper beside me while I slept, in case I’d wake up in the middle of the night with a brilliant idea. Drinking more tea. Drinking less tea. Drinking coffee[note]Ugh, that’s one I’m not doing again. I’m a tea drinker, through and through.[/note]. I tried going to the gym (boring), going running (horribly boring) and going on a sugar binge (horrible, but not boring). I tried everything and my mind stayed as dead as a cheap, plastic skeleton.

Then I found the way. Read More

21 Dec

Harness the Spectacular Productivity of WIBBO(X)

Productive Writers - Kevin J Anderson quote

Productive Writers - Kevin J Anderson quoteI love WIBBOW. It’s an acronym coined, from what I’ve read, by writer Scott William Carter. WIBBOW = Would I Be Better Off Writing?

But that’s not what the title of this blog post says. That’s because it’s a wonderful question to ask in every area of your life. Would I be better off doing X? WIBBO(X).

And it all falls back to what your dreams are. Read More

09 Nov

Danger: Are you Fungible?

You are unique - James Altucher quote

You are unique - James Altucher quoteFungible is a wonderful word. It means that something is able to be replaced by something else with no loss of function or value. A bag of flour is fungible. It is fundamentally the same in function and value as any other bag of flour. If you’ve got a bag of flour you can exchange it for another bag with an equal amount of the same type of flour and still be able to bake the same cake.

Wheat is fungible. Oil is fungible. Money is fungible.

Art should never ever, Ever, EVER be fungible. Read More

16 Oct

The Easy Way to Productivity: Habitica RPG Review

Habitica quote

Habitica quoteI’m in love.

I’ve always wanted to be more productive. I’ve tried ”GTD”, The Artist’s Way, a dozen others. But not once have I thought about the importance of the tools you use for your system.

Until now I’ve used Evernote, storing to-dos, projects and tasks. Yes, it’s serviceable (there’s even the Secret Weapon for doing it) but there’s been something missing. I’ve dutifully entered my tasks into lists and notes. I’ve dutifully checked boxes, dotted i’s and crossed t’s. I’ve dutifully followed my plan.

With Habitica I’m doing it for fun. Read More