Writing, like most things in life, is a marathon, not a sprint.
I knew that, buried somewhere deep in my mind. But it didn’t occur to me until I was (am) writing my sixth novel. Would it have made a difference?
Oh, I think it would have. But I was so excited to write all the stories that had been rattling around in my head for decades I paid no attention to a steady pace. Instead, I blasted through five novels in two years.
And that has left me here. Exhausted. Not exhausted of ideas. I have 143 book outlines left to write. Enough writing to get me to the ripe old age of 93. I’m not even tired of writing (as this blog shows) I am simply tired.
Do you get that way? Tired I mean. If you said no, then you are truly blessed. Or your kidding yourself. But if your one of the 99% who said yes then what you need is rejuvenation.
What is it that lifts your spirit? What recharges your batteries? Is it playing golf? (ich) Taking a walk-through nature. Fishing, crafts, art, the zoo. There must be something that soothes your soul. That helps you energize (no not a sports drink).
Not coming up with anything. I have a few ideas for you.
I’m sure you can think of many more. So, when life has you “sprinting” remember it’s a marathon and take time to slow down to the things around you.
Writers write. And readers read. It’s the way the world works. At least it’s the way an author’s world works. But if you look behind the scenes (no pun intended) you’ll see that most writers are also avid readers.
Here are some of my all time favorites, (excluding my own novels, ego!). I think you’ll love them as much as I do.
Dragons of the Dwarven Depths, Dragons of the Highlord Skies, Dragons of Spring Dawning – Dragonlance: Lost Chronicles
Dragons of Autumn Twilight, Dragons of Winter Night – Dragonlance Chronicles
Lights Out: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath
Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology
City Under the Sand
Fireblood – Whispers from Mirrowen
One Second After
The Complete Rhenwars Saga: An Epic Fantasy Pentalogy
Dawn of Wonder - The Wakening
Age of Myth - The Legends of the First Empire
Rune Empire – Runebound
Enchantress - The Evermen Saga
The Elven - The Saga of the Elven
Dawn of the Dreamsmith - The Raven's Tale
As a writer, you have thought hard about your fantasy world. You’ve given your characters unique names. You have changed the names of things like drinks and food and animals to suit your new world. Then weeks, months, even years later your book is done!
You read your proof before sending it to the publisher.
Jacon ran forward, bloodthirst on his lips, his kapic sword raised, he cried out, “You sons of bitches, I’ll kill every &^%$ one of you!”
Wait, what? Do you read what I read?
You went to all the effort to create a completely new world with new names for almost everything under the sun (including the sun) and yet the characters curse the same way some people do on earth?? What the Frak is that?
What makes you think these “people” in your book, living in a completely different world would curse the same way English speaking people do? (because not everyone on earth uses the same curse words “Bloody Hell”)
Let me add that I am not a fan of Earth curse words in any book. Prudish? No, not really. I have some made up curse words in most (if not all) of my novels. I think using Earthly curse words detracts from the flow of a story. It pulls you out of the realm you are reading and thrusts you (most often violently) back into our world.
You spent all this time creating a new world. Go the extra mile and make a new profane language. Don’t worry about whether your reader knows that “Pokar” means bastard or not. Use it in the correct context and your audience will get the message.
“Immersion” is what's up, with an attempt at humor.
Originally I created a newsletter similar to millions of others. Then inspiration slapped me in the face. I thought it would be fun to produce a newsletter different from the others--something entertaining and not a chore to read. So, I created the Tinker Town Herald.
What in the Nine Hells is Tinker Town?
Great question! And before I answer, let me pose a riddle. What is one thing children possess that adults lose?
Youth? Innocence? No. Imagination. A gift given to every child that disappears as we grow into adulthood. Honestly ask yourself when was the last time you used your imagination?
Now it's true some adults, myself included, have jobs where imagination is key to their success. But that is a rare person. There aren’t many adults using the God given gift.
That is the answer to WHY I created the newsletter. I wanted the reader to infuse themselves (and their imaginations) into the worlds I have created.
So, the Tinker Town Herald was born. It will be a “newspaper” combining both real world and fantasy into one. Regular “real” articles will lead you to my blog. Topics about writing, art, my life and such. And there will be clever and funny (I hope) news items about the world of Xenkur.
Xenkur? Yes, Xenkur, that’s where Tinker Town thrives. It lies on the North Road inside the Great Forest. You have never been to Tinker Town? Oh, it’s a wonderful place. You must go. You won’t regret the non-stop party in the town proper. And if you need anything, you’ll find it there.
You can check out two excellent books about Tinker Town to plan your trip. There is Songweaver, the Iron League Book 1 and Amborlaine. Both will steep you in the waters of the Tinker Gnomes.
The Tinker Town Herald is published the 5th of every month. You can sign up here to get your free copy. And don’t forget to tip the red vests. They work hard to get you where you’re going.
Block, Procrastination or Depression? A mind that goes with cloudy skies.
The vulnerable side. Not something you see often in our world. Why? Fear is why. If you make yourself vulnerable, show your weaker (read stronger) side by opening up to someone, or in this case, the world you risk being attacked and/or ridiculed.
Well I’m not afraid of that. Sorry, I should say I’m no longer afraid of that. If your interested to find out why people do what they do (specifically me) then read on. If not that’s ok too. My faith will not waiver if you do not care.
Now why is Rebel, book three of the Iron League saga is lagging behind? It’s a complicated answer. Maybe not that complicated but it is a long answer so Ill skip some of the more mundane parts.
The book is lagging because of depression. I call it the “Hidden Disease.” And yes it is a disease. A mental disorder if you will. It is not something to be ashamed of. Not something to hide in the closet. It is, in my view along with many doctors an illness no different than kidney disease of hypertension. And it IS a killer. Left untreated it can kill like any other disease. And it would appear the death toll from it is on the rise.
That will not happen to me because I understand the infection. I understand how to cope. I understand my medication and how it affects my brain. But… (oh yeah there is always a but) that doesn’t mean I’m happy go lucky, skipping through fields of flowers chasing butterflies.
There are times, days, weeks, even months that I struggle every day to get something done. Times where my brain is screaming “go to bed! Life sucks!” That’s when I have to use the skills I’ve learned over decades of therapy to use my brain to say. “I love life!”
My favorite “mantra”, if you will, comes from a beautiful man who is full of spirit. And he says, “God loves me, God likes me, God is in a good mood to me.” I just love that. It always makes me smile.
So back to the book. Rebel is creeping into publication because my depression is fighting to the forefront of my mind and has been for several months. Oh, don’t worry the book will be finished. And I have another 144 book outlines behind it. So ill be writing the rest of my days.
Last note. For those of you that read this, thank you. And for my fellow “depressionists” (just made that word up) Hand in there. Talk to a friend and spend time praying. HE is listening.
I mean I don’t consider myself a seasoned veteran of fantasy fiction. But when you go behind the scene, I actually am. Many “authors” write one maybe two books. Get bad reviews and/or no sales and give up. To them I say being a writer is not a get rich quick scenario. Think about it, if it was everyone would do it and we would all be millionaires.
Anyway, it’s interesting that because I have published a few books and continue to crank out the novels, I get many questions from new authors. I do the best I can give everyone an answer based on my current experience. One question that is very popular is “How much or How often should I write?”
Like EVERYTHING in life, it depends. First it depends on your genre. I write fantasy fiction which I think is easier than say something like historical fiction which requires a lot of research. Second it depends on you. Some writers write a great deal one day then may not write anything for a few days. Some write a little every day. Some work on one book at a time, others many (This is me. I work on at least three books at once.)
Then there are writers who are so damn prolific they cannot contain it. For example, Walter Gibson (who?) He wrote most of the Shadow novels under the name Maxwell Grant. In his career he wrote 282 of the 325 Shadow novels. He wrote an average of 24 books per year! One every two weeks!!
Or Isaac Assimov (we know him) who wrote over 500 novels and over 400 pieces of short fiction. He wrote so many novel, short stories and essays it’s difficult to get an exact count of his works.
For many (most) of us we are not so prolific. We can’t just shut ourselves into a cabin in the woods (get this reference?) and write. We have lives and other priorities constantly tugging at our time.
So, a good guideline is 2000 words a day. Keep up that pace and you will publish 3-4 books a year. You must keep in mind most of your time IS NOT spent writing. It's spent editing, correcting continuity and rewrites. Of course, you can write more. I write 3000-5000 words a day depending on the weather outside and what else I need to get done. I too have days (like today) where I will write more (because I also write this blog) and days where I write nothing. Maybe just do some outlining.
Just remember you’re an individual and write at a pace your comfortable with. Let God guide your writing, and everything will come out fine.
Lately I’ve been hearing a message repeated throughout my day. I first heard it a while back at church. Then on the radio, then in a random conversation and so on. It’s the message of sowing and reaping.
If you’re not familiar with the standard Christian bible, the King James Version (i.e. there are many different Christian bibles) the message of sowing and reaping, in its most basic form, is the teaching that whatever you put your efforts into (whatever you work at) that is what will generate results in your life. Depending on the source some say there are as many as 66 verses in the bible about sowing and reaping so it seems an important topic.
For example, if you cut wood eight hours a day for a week then at the end of that week you will have a massive pile of cut wood. Whatever you sow (put effort towards) you shall reap (get results).
I wondered every time I heard the concept about sowing and reaping how I would apply that to writing novels. I now how to apply it. I just didn’t know how to tell you about it. Then I had a conversation with a fellow writer who is writing their second book and struggling to get any traction. They knew I had written four books in a year and had five more I was working on for 2018. They wanted to know how I could write so many books. Here’s how a portion of the conversation went.
Me - How many book ideas do you have?
Them - Eight.
Me – Ok, so the problem is not lack of ideas.
Me – How often do you write?
Them – I write when the feeling hits me.
Writing when the muse or mood strikes is tantamount to failure. Think about it this way. If you had/have a 9-5 job and only went to that job when the mood struck you how big do you think your paycheck would be at the end of the month. How many hours you work (sow) has a direct effect on how big your paycheck is (reap).
Writing a novel is no different than any other job. If you write for a few hours a couple times a week, when the mood strikes, by the end of the month you might have finished 10-15,000 words or enough for 2-3 chapters. At that rate it will take a minimum of one year to get a rough draft. Add another year to turn the rough draft into a finished product.
So how many books you finish (reap) is directly proportional to how many hours you write (sow). You don’t sow you won’t reap.
To be a writer, you MUST do one thing more than anything else and that is write. Sounds simplistic but you would be amazed at how many ‘writers’ don’t write every day.
But I don’t know what to write? Write anything, a novel, a short story, a journal, a blog, it really doesn’t matter at first. All you want to do is sow (write) the reaping will come later and trust me it will come.
Look, you may not believe in God you may not believe in the bible but the principle holds true in the material world as well. If you don’t work (sow) you don’t eat (reap). Its built into every core of the universe in which we live.
So sit down and start writing.
As a writer, and someone who did a miserable job at passing English in school, I often (read always) rely on software editors to help with “fixing” my writing. If I didn’t here is an honest example of what you would read.
My father was not one to be praised or ever praise worthy. He was a gentle man possesed with a fire rtempre that woul igniote itself at the slights confrotntaion.
I must be the undisputed king of comma splices and run on sentences. Not to mention my brain thinks faster than my fingers can type.
I currently use two editors in addition to Microsoft Word spell and grammar check. Word has come a long way with the feature and will catch most of your errors. But if you want your writing to rise above the masses you need something more.
I’ve been using Autocrit.com since my third novel and I have to say it has elevate my writing exponentially. It’s a solid program with an easy to use interface.
There is one BIG drawback that I’m hoping the autocrat people will address, this software costs A LOT of money. Its almost $30 per month. If you don’t write often (daily) It’s not worth the expense). I’m not sure if the makers of Autocrit think they are Adobe (a company famous for charging hefty sums for its software) or what but the fee for the software does not need to come anywhere near that. Even Adobe got the message and now only charges $11 per month.
Prowritingaid is a new software I recently learned about. I’m currently using the trial version to check its capabilities. It’s an add-in for Microsoft Word. Compared to Autocrit it’s a steal at just $50 per year (under $5 a month). The software has some nice features to it and would be an inexpensive and solid help to a writer. I find the interface to be clunky and difficult to maneuver. I would add that some of the checks of the software are completely unnecessary and seem to have been added just to bulk up the look. For example, how many of us need an NLP Predicates Check? How many of us even know what the frak that is?
Since I’m discussing this software I just ran a check using it and it gave me 23 reports with 62 issues. Just for this small blog post! 23 reports really. That is excessive.
For my money (and I grant you it’s a lot of my money) I go with Autocrit. I like the layout. The interface is easy to use, and I understand the reports and what they are saying. I’m praying heavily they bring the price waaaaaaay down.
I find that as I get older I spend more time comparing the present to the past. The old “when I was a kid” syndrome. In which I drone on to my 15 year old about how things were when I was young. Before the advent of cell phones, Netflix and the internet. It’s probably something each one of us does as we ponder the ancient question “where things better in that era than they are now?”
I’d have to say it’s a 70/30 split (70% better back then). There has been a great deal of positive innovations (no Amazon Echo is not one of them). Most of them made in science and medicine. And yet we, as a nation, become increasingly isolated in our lifestyles, apathetic in our care of one another and corpulent in what we eat.
I still believe our ancestors had a more positive grasp on life. My opinion it boils down to entertainment. Or what is now called entertainment. Truly, it’s nothing more than watching random videos that people post for God knows what reason.
When I was a kid, we watched TV. Especially Saturday morning cartoons. But then we were outside and would stay outside until the street lights came on (that was the signal to go home for dinner). We rode bikes, we read books, and we played together. We got exercise and were social active all at the same time.
Now with the advent of new entertainment venues (read cell phone) kids have no need to move. They get their “play” from the phone. They socialize (I’m using that word loosely) on the phone. It’s a fact everything kids now have comes from the phone.
The younger generation(s) is becoming more and more dependent on technology and in turn more and more isolated. Cell phone technology has led us down a rabbit hole. And when that hole bottoms out it won’t be a pretty image. But hey, maybe someone will record it on video.
Of course, my first resolution is to not have any resolutions (again!) But clearly, that has never worked out. What I find interesting, and maybe this is only me (thought I doubt it) is that I rarely (read never) achieve my resolutions. Why? Is it because I have no willpower? Well yes, and no.
Dr. Phil (Yes, I love Dr. P) says that willpower is a myth and I am inclined to believe him. Of all the people I have known, I can think of only one person that has ever displayed a consistent and therefore winning game of willpower. It is my Uncle Roy. He was a smoker for decades, pretty much his entire adult life. Then one day he said, “I’m done” and never smoked again. No pills, no hypnosis, no patch. Just pure willpower. Impressive to say the least. What if we could all do that? With anything we wanted. The world would be a wonderful place.
Unfortunately, I think most of you are like me. Willpower lasts a solid five maybe ten minutes then it is out the window. Most of us need some type of outside influence. Need to stop wasting money on frivolous things? Lose your job. Need to lose weight? Have a heart attack. What is called negative motivation, not willpower is the moving force behind most changes.
Therefore, I decided the perfect New Year’s resolution would be not to do less of this or more of that. Instead I resolved to replace my bad habits (I will not list what they are because, well, damn, that’s personal) with positive habits.
Ok I’ll tell you one. I have always wanted to stop watching television. I hate that I watch it. It’s nothing but mind numbing garbage. And don’t get me started on the commercials. Televisions commercials make me want to stab myself or even better the morons who make the commercials. (Ahem, sorry. No, really tell us how you feel). So I have replaced all but the bare bones of TV watching with writing. I like writing better anyway and it won’t turn me into a moronic zombie. Yes, I will still watch most of the new Dr. Phil – the one with psycho teenagers at least. And I continue to watch Ink Master because some of them are such amazing artists. I didn’t watch a lot of TV in the first place but even if I wasted an hour a day on the idiot box that’s seven more hours of writing done a week. That’s a whole extra day’s work.
No bad, huh? So there you have it. I don’t resolve to change anything. I only resolve to REPLACE everything.
“Without a doubt that’s the ugliest baby I’ve ever seen.”
If you are a parent and have a small child or baby those words can have a devastating effect. Has anyone ever said that? In a world where people kill each other because they are the wrong race, or religion or nationality, then yes, I am sure someone has said that.
What does that have to do with writing fiction?
The other day I had a fan contact me saying how much he/she enjoyed my first book Darkwater. He/she said they gave it five stars on Amazon (and they did). He/she also wrote in the email how they were looking forward to reading book two of the series.
So I waited anxiously for their review of book two (first mistake). When I looked at the books reviews (second mistake) I saw the person gave it one star. Then I read the review (final mistake and nail in coffin). Aggh! The agony they gave my book one star. The nearly 80,000 words I poured blood sweat and tears into was ripped apart. Oh the humanity!
Fortunately, God saw that one coming (he sees it all coming) and that very night I got another wonderfully written email from a fan thanking me for writing the Xenkur series.
Still the review bothered me. If someone told you that your baby was ugly (see how I tied that in). You know it’s not true and yet that doesn’t prevent the comment from twisting a knife in your heart.
That’s what a novel is to the person who wrote it. It’s there baby. They have worked countless hours, days, years writing the novel. It is their love, their passion. No one would take the time to write a solid novel if there wasn’t a hunger to create.
When I first started getting reviews, I thought it would be helpful to read them. Possibly glean some information that would improve the book and my writing. So I read every review. But, quickly found out there isn’t really anything to help hone my craft in the reviews, (even the five star ones).
So what is a writer to do?
It’s simple: DONT look at your reviews and DONT read them.
It’s great to get reviews, especially positive ones, but I no longer believe it’s important to read them. In fact, I think it is harmful to your craft. If your reading reviews and they say, for example, “I didn’t like the Bob character, he was to wishy-washy.” You may begin to second-guess yourself and your writing. That is the death-knell of creativity.
So write it the way you want do your best to create a quality novel. Remember it’s your baby. And if people love it, great! And if they don’t? Just keep writing. What do “they” know anyway.
I’m not saying books should not get one star reviews. Just be cognizant of what you’re doing.
I’m also not saying you should not post reviews. Reviews are the bread and butter of Indie authors and will help their income.
DW is an author and an artist. He has been creating paintings and photographs for over 40 years. He lives in Eastern Kansas with his daughter, a large epileptic dog, three cats, and a barnyard of chickens and ducks.