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.

20 Feb

Plotting with Pain – Who’d be the Most Hurt?

How to Plot using Pain

How to Plot using PainLet’s say you have an idea for a setting, or an event, or a new type of technology, but you can’t transform it into a plot. There’s simply no action there, no conflict. All you’ve got is a “what if…”

How about you take one of those what ifs and ask “who would be the most hurt by this?” I.e.:

“What if all people could suddenly fly? Who would be the most hurt by this?”

Airlines. Airline pilots. Airline maintenance workers. What if it’s a airplane mechanic who really loves his planes, but now they’re all worthless and nobody wants them? “The Airplane Whisperer, coming soon to a theater near you…”

Second point would be to see how badly you can make the person hurt. Read More

31 Oct

12 Rejection Letters of Massively Popular Authors

12 Rejection Letters of Massively Popular Authors

12 Rejection Letters of Massively Popular AuthorsRejections are a part of the writer’s life. And yet, a bad rejection at the wrong time can crush an aspiring author.

Knowing that others have been rejected before you, that authors you admire, who’ve won prizes and gone on to glorious careers, have been badly rejected, can ease your burden. Here are some of those rejections. Read More

24 Oct

Short and Sweet Writing Advice – Writing to the Point by Algis Budrys Review

Writing to the Point by Algis Budrys - Review

Writing to the Point by Algis Budrys - ReviewSometimes you read a book at exactly the right time to change your world. Algis Budrys’ “Writing to the Point: A Complete Guide to Selling Fiction” was one of those books for me.

Writing to the Point is a short (152 airy pages) yet deep (spanning everything from “Chapter 1: The Basic Basics” to dealing with agents and who to format a manuscript) writing advice book. It took me slightly less than an hour-and-a-half to read, and I haven’t come away from a writing how-to book this turbo-charged in a long, long time. Read More

17 Oct

Design Your Author Website – The Basics

Design your Author Website

Design your Author WebsiteYou’ve written your novel, published your stories, signed an autograph or two[note]Yes, your mother does count.[/note]. And then you get the question: so, what’s your platform like?

What the hell is an author platform? Have you got one? Is it contagious?

Easy there, buckaroo. Help is on the way.

An author, or author’s, platform is all the online presence you’ve got[note]In fact it’s all the presence you’ve got, including offline, media and personal, but you don’t want fans trampling your mother’s petunias so we’ll stick to online.[/note]. It’s your website, Twitter feed, Instagram account, and forum moderator powers put together. And the most basic, and easiest to do, part of your writer platform, is your author website. 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

03 Oct

Create Powerful Emotions with Repetition and Motifs

Repetitions and Motifs

Repetitions and MotifsWhy do some scenes feel powerful and others do not? Why do some stories make us cry and others, just as skillfully told, leave us indifferent? Why do some books and games draw us in so strongly?

David Farland, in his Drawing on the Power of Resonance in Writing has the answer: because some events or experiences in the story are alike to what we ourselves have experienced and been moved by. Of course, different readers will react differently. If you ate a cheese-and-baloney sandwich when you found out that your beloved kitten had been run over by a bulldozer, you might cry at the thought of baloney, while I may not[note]I always cry at the though of baloney, especially in politics.[/note]. Different people have different experiences.

But what if there was a way to create these sorts of emotions within the story itself, regardless of who the reader is? Read More

19 Sep

Write the Perfect Author’s Bio

Writing the Perfect Author's Bio

Writing the Perfect Author's BioIt sits there, right at the end of your book. Your author biography[note]Author biography, author bio, and author’s bio all seem to be legitimate spellings. So I’ll mix and the search engines will love me.[/note]. That little blurb where you’re supposed to put interesting facts about yourself. But what do you put in it? And, more importantly, why?

Because an author bio has but one function – and it’s got nothing to do with introducing yourself.

Here’s why. Read More

11 Jul

Inventing Non-Gendered Pronouns for AI

Inventing Pronouns for AI

Inventing Pronouns for AII’ve been writing a lot of AI/Singularity based stories lately, and I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s no good pronoun for non-human, intelligent, asexual entities.

Him/her suggest a divergence that likely won’t exist amongst AI (due to the aforementioned lack of sex). It suggests that AI is a thing – and once you get self-aware AI, they’re likely to object to that.

There are several solutions to the problem, question is, which is more likely? Read More

20 Jun

Worldbuilding 101: Writing Unequal Societies

Worldbuilding: Writing Unequal Societies

Worldbuilding: Writing Unequal SocietiesWhere are the chamberpot-technician? The dragon-brushers? The stepping stools-carriers? Nowhere, that’s why.

Fact is, that most works of fiction, whether SF, Fantasy, Horror, you name it, operate from the basic assumptions of an equal society. And that means that we’re missing whole segments of world building, encounters and stories that are never told because they can’t be conceived of.

But way, you say, here’s the poor pig herder who became prince. There’s the general that grew up in the slums. Aladdin – the diamond in the rough.

Nope, still operating from basic assumptions of equality. Let’s take a look. Read More