23 May

Mathematical Proof that You’ve Got Time to Write

Mathematical Proof You've got Time to Write

Mathematical Proof You've got Time to WriteThere is one in every gathering. The friend-of-a-friend who says “Oh, I’m going to write a novel, too, when I’ve got the time.”

Sometimes they use variations “I’m going to write when I retire.” “When the kids are older.” “When this project at work is finished.” If only they’d have the time.

Well, friend-of-a-friend, since I don’t have the courage to take you by the ear and shake you, I’ll do the second best thing. I’m going to lampoon you on the Interwebz. I’m going to prove to you that you’ve got the time to write, using cold, hard math. 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

14 Mar

5+1 Key Points to Follow Your Dream

Follow Your DreamsYou can plug away at your dream, hoping for that big break, struggling with motivation, with time, with everything, and do it alone. You might make it. It is possible.

But it’s not bloody likely.

I know. I’ve been there. Sometimes I’m still there. But I’m struggling like a worm at an angler’s convention to find support for my dreams. Having support for your dreams can be the difference between making it and giving up. Having support for your dreams can be the difference between burning bright and burning out. Having support makes things easier[note]Not to mention more fun – you get to follow your dreams without losing your energy.[/note].

And it’s damned hard to get it sometimes. Read More

22 Feb

2 Easy Tricks that will Change Your Life

Change your Life

Change your LifeHow would you like to change your life in only 5 minutes per day? Get confident, go for your dreams, and become all you can be?

Impossible? Not at all. I’ve done it, and it took me only a few minutes a day. Here’s how I did it.

Two years ago I was pretty broken. Imagine a dog that’s been beaten too often, slinking along with his head hanging. Or a kid that’s been bullied, folding in on himself. I was like that, and I didn’t like it.

But I couldn’t do anything about it. I tried, oh, how I tried. Willpower! Motivation! Goal setting! Just freaking do it!

Bogus dude. Just doing it only works if you’ve got the foundation for it, and I didn’t. That’s when I discovered biological feedback loops. 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

07 Dec

Forget Willpower – it is Worse than Useless!

Self-Discipline - Roy Baumeister quote

Self-Discipline - Roy Baumeister quoteI tried to change my life for a long time. I figured that if I’d just want it enough, if I’d just tried enough, if I’d have enough will to change, I’d make it.

Nopes. Turns out the world doesn’t work like that.

Trying to change on willpower alone is like trying to lift a car with your bare hands. It might work if you’re Superman but for a regular Joe like me, well, let’s just say it didn’t work an leave out all the embarrassing details.

The reason it didn’t work is to be found in a now classic study by Roy F. Baumeister, published in 1998. Baumeister took a bunch of volunteers and put them, one by one, in a room with a bowl of freshly baked chocolate-chop cookies. Read More

28 Sep

The Opposite of Fear is Curiosity

Fear is the seed of regret Bob Mayer quote

Fear is the seed of regret Bob Mayer quoteI’m a scaredy-cat.

I don’t like to be put in situations where people can yell at me, where I can be in the wrong, where I can be blamed for failure. I don’t like to lie, to cheat or to up-sell. I’m a lousy salesman.

Quite simply, I’m too scared.

Everyone understands fear. If only we weren’t so afraid we’d sky jump, get married or sell our sofa and go live in a tiny monastery in Tibet where bald monks would teach us how to kill a man with our pinky toes.

If only we had the courage. If only we’d be fearless then we’d go, do, learn, live.

Sorry to burst your bubble, kiddo. Being fearless does diddly squat. 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

03 Aug

To Publish You Need to Give Up Control

Control your attitude Brian Tracy quote

Control your attitude Brian Tracy quoteRight now I’ve four games and nine short stories under review, that is, a publisher has them on her desk and is considering whether to publish them. Or more accurately: a publisher has them in her slush pile and hasn’t taken the time to go through it yet.

It’s not much but I’m a traditional one-submission-at-a-time kind of guy (that’s suboptimal, but I’ll can of worms that topic for later). I know writers who’ve got literally dozens of submissions out. I know game designers who have tens (game design tends to have a somewhat lower turnover and longer lead times). But numbers aren’t the point. The point is that every writer or game designer, including me, had to do one thing in order to get their works into the hands of publishers:

Accepting a loss of control. Read More