Being a Better Writer: Handling Stress

Welcome back readers! To the first Being a Better Writer post of 2021! Which … almost didn’t happen today. And not just because of the computer (which I’ll update you all on in a moment). No, because of the other event that happened last Wednesday in the US. You know, the big one where a bunch of rioters stormed the US capital in an attempt to forcefully change the election results.

Yeah. That one. There will be a post about that. But just in case any of you were wondering, I’m firmly among the opposition to what those people did. It was outright rebellion. And I would have said something on it immediately, save that my computer was down, and incapable of making a post of the length this topic deserved. I almost wanted to push Being a Better Writer back a week and use today to talk about it, but … One way you beat individuals like that is by proving that they ended up having less of an impact than they wanted. So I’ll talk about them later this week (assuming my computer holds up), but for today? BaBW is still on!

Now, about that computer. Yes, I’m at my keyboard again. And while it’s not 100%, it’s functional enough for me to finish the print requirements for Axtara – Banking and Finance.

So what happened? Well, it was a two-fold strike. The first hit was that … Well, let me explain the parts first. For those of you not in the know, everything on a computer goes through a central processing unit, or CPU. It’s like the engine of a car, only more so. You can’t push a computer along if a CPU goes out. CPU’s generate a lot of heat in operation, so there is a cooling apparatus set on top of them, and a thermal paste between the two that helps conduct the heat into the cooling system.

Well, problem #1 was that my thermal paste had largely dried out over the last few years of living in a desert. And as a result, it wasn’t transmitting heat evenly or well. So when the computer went under a sudden load, such as with a hefty game … the CPU could trip the warning heat sensors and the computer would shut down out of safety (don’t want a valuable CPU melting, which will happen otherwise). Until the heat cooled, it wouldn’t restart.

So that was problem #1. Cleaning off the old concrete-like dried thermal paste and replacing it with new, fresh stuff fixed that problem. A complete diagnostic scan of the CPU showed that no damage had been done, thankfully (yay safeguards). But then there was issue #2, and the other problem: my secondary hard drive was failing.

Explanation: Computers can have a number of internal drives to store information and move it around. I have three. My primary, and boot drive, only for windows. A secondary that was cannibalized from older builds that held my music and various things, and a third that is much larger I acquired a few years ago.

That second drive? Around 15 years old. Most drives last 5-10. And Windows was using it as a page file (basically spare ram), meaning any time there was a lot of data being moved around, Windows would read and write on the drive. Plus, my listening to music … the drive was wearing out and going bad. And SATA (the tech used to access the drive) panics when it encounters bad sectors.

Basically? The moment a bad sector came along with the computer accessing that drive, down the system went down hard.

So is it fixed? Well … mostly. As I have another drive, I can rip the old one out. However, Windows may have put some vital files on there, so doing so may cause me to need to repair my copy of Windows, which is always dicey. So before that happens, I’m going to get the print copy of Axtara proofed since right now I can do that. In the meantime (and how I’ve avoided the problem), I had Windows do a checkdisk on the bad drive, and it’s identified the currently bad sectors and won’t touch them. Won’t stop new ones from occurring, but I’ve also moved everything that was using that drive off of it and onto the other larger one. For now, this will have to do, and I won’t be letting this computer do any heavy lifting until I get that drive removed and things smoothed out (no gaming on this PC for a while, which is killer).

So, that’s where things stand right now. I’d like to replace the dead drive with an equal sized SSD, but that’s not explicitly needed and budget right now is tight, as one might guess. But the computer is up and running, and I checked to make sure that everything was backed up (and nothing book-related was on the old drive anyway, just so you know).

All right, so that’s the news. Today, once this is done, I’ll be sizing the cover for the print proof of Axtara. Exciting stuff!

Anyway, with that all said … let’s talk about today’s topic, shall we? Which I felt was extremely topical given the last week. I’ll start with a question: any of you want to guess how much sleep I lost last week trying to figure out the source of my computer problems so I could get back to work?

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News, News, and More News!

Hello readers!

I feel I must start this news post off with an apology. I know I haven’t said too much on the site lately outside of the regular Being a Better Writer posts. But there has been a reason for it. I’ve been busy writing and trying to help my ribs heal up as quickly as possible, and between that mess (the ribs) and everything else, site posts have been a matter of “Hey I should write that … after I do this one thing.”

But I hope to make up for that a little today. Because this is a big news post. We’ve got the ribs to talk about, AxtaraFireteam FreelanceStarforge … There’s a lot going on!

So, let me get right down to it, starting with the ribs. Rib updates first! Why? Because in a way it has messed with my writing a little.


So, how are the ribs doing? Actually, pretty well. I’ve been working hard to take care of them, from heating and cooling to sleeping in a semi-upright position in a recliner every night. And only two weeks and four days after the breaks occurred, I’m definitely more mobile than the last time I cracked some ribs, and they’re not nearly as battered as they were. In fact, I’ve even been able to go biking for exercise once more—on flat, fresh paving, mind. Cracks and bumps still don’t feel great (though they’re not as bad as they were even a week ago).

Sleeping upright, adding more calcium to my diet … If there’s something I can do for my ribs, I’m doing it. So where, you might be wondering, does this come into writing news? Well, outside of the general health implications … it has messed with my sleep cycle pretty harshly. Sleeping is not comfy with cracked ribs, and even though they’re doing better, lying down is still uncomfortable at first (and not good for them healing), so I’ve been sleeping in a recliner I have.

I don’t sleep that well in a recliner. I’m managing, but between the awkwardness (I really like to both stretch out and sleep on my side, both major no-nos with rib injuries) and the point of my body going “Hey, you need rest to heal this mess” I’ve been sleeping rather late when I do.

So while I have been hitting my quotas, it’s been taking me a bit more time to do so, and since I’m trying to put most of my energy into Starforge at the moment … Well, it has left me a little pressed for time.

So, that’s why there haven’t been as many posts, but the real important work is getting done! So, let’s talk about that important work. First up, let’s talk about Axtara – Banking and Finance!

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Classic Being a Better Writer: Health

Hey folks!

My wrist still isn’t back at 100% (I’ve still got another week to go before I’m even at the minimum recovery time), and while I can write, it’s not comfortable to do so. At all. I can get some stuff done, but I end up risking pain the longer I write. While I’ll like start writing on that Halo book this week … I’m holding off for a few more days as my wrist is still pretty battered.

No joke. I’m up to maybe ten pounds of pressure now. As in, I can handle something with up to that weight before my wrist starts to hurt. Which is better, but not ideal. More healing to come. And it’s still pretty stiff (though again, not nearly as bad as it was). I may be able to go about my day-to-day without the brace soon, and default back to an ace bandage.

So it’s with a bit of a laugh that I decided to pick today’s Classic Being a Better Writer post in lieu of writing my own. Next week, guys. Next week I’ll write a new one (believe me, I want to).

But for now? Well, let’s check out this classic post on staying healthy.

Yeah, this topic choice did bring a smile to my face.


It occurs to me, as I sit down to write today’s post, that it is quite often that I start these posts with some phrase similar to “Today’s topic might seem strange …” or the like. Not that it’s an incorrect thought, after all. I do tend to say that a lot here. But I always say it with purpose. It’s a way of saying “Hang on, don’t go away just because the title isn’t about how to string words together in the proper sequence up front. Stick around for a bit. This will all make sense. I promise.”

Today’s post is another one of those days, and once again I am going to repeat myself: Stick around and humor me for a moment, please. As odd as it may seem, today’s topic is one that’s actually quite important, not just to your life in general, but to your writing specifically. Yes, you read that correctly. This topic is more important than you’d guess.

I want to talk about your health.

Why? Well, it’s one of those topics that seems to take a backseat whenever we’re talking about writing. Go to writing cons and writing classes and you’ll hear all about prosaic styles, show versus tell, hooks, prologues, and many, many other important bits of writing. But one thing you almost never hear about is the author taking good care of themselves.

And personally, I think that’s a bit of an oversight.

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Being a Better Writer: Micro-Blast #7 – The Anti-Story, Sleep, Knowledge, Capitalism

Welcome back readers! And welcome to the new readers! Life, The Universe, and Everything is over, but I can already see from the stats page that we have some newcomers! Welcome! Whether you’re here to look at my books, or here for some weekly Being a Better Writer, welcome all the same!

So then, let’s get down to business with this week’s post, which is … a Micro-blast. Number seven, to be exact. What’s a Micro-blast? Well, it’s what happens when I near the end of a list of writing topics I’ve made for BaBW, and some of them just aren’t quite worth a full post, but are still worth discussing. Micro-blasts are a good way to bridge the gap, combining several shorter topics into one post so that there’s still a decent amount of material covered. Readers get a variety of subjects, and I get to clear some shorter topics and concepts off of my list.

Sound pretty straightforward? Good! Then let’s go!

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Being a Better Writer: Writing About Injuries

Hello readers, and welcome to … Topic. List. Eleven!

Okay, so it’s probably not such a big deal for those of you who are newcomers or aren’t sitting on my end of the keyboard, but on this side knowing that I’ve made it through ten of these sheets of paper with Being a Better Writer topics on them is a little awe-inspiring. This marks the fifth year of writing these, and from the look if it, I’m not going to run out of topics anytime soon.

So then, let’s talk injuries. Specifically, writing about them, why we write about them, and some of the different ways we can use them in our writing, for good or bad.

Actually, we’re going to tackle this in not quite that order. First up, why write about injury? Why should we be concerned with keeping track of our characters pains and aches, especially if they’re not “important” to the story?

Well, as you can probably guess by the quotes around “important” in that last paragraph, I’d disagree entirely, regardless of the type of story that we’re writing. That’s right, injury and pain are just as important in a story that’s a Regency Romance as they are in a story that’s an action-adventure novel. Do you know why?

Because pain and injury, minor or major, are a part of life. They’re as much as it sounds strange to say it this way, a unique flavor that’s a part and parcel of the experience. Ask yourself how many times you’ve stubbed a toe, burned a finger or palm, or suffered a cut or scrape across your arm. In all likelihood, you probably can’t even remember a large number of those times … but you still know that they happened because they’re part of the experience of life.

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Being a Better Writer: Health

It occurs to me, as I sit down to write today’s post, that it is quite often that I start these posts with some phrase similar to “Today’s topic might seem strange …” or the like. Not that it’s an incorrect thought, after all. I do tend to say that a lot here. But I always say it with purpose. It’s a way of saying “Hang on, don’t go away just because the title isn’t about how to string words together in the proper sequence up front. Stick around for a bit. This will all make sense. I promise.”

Today’s post is another one of those days, and once again I am going to repeat myself: Stick around and humor me for a moment, please. As odd as it may seem, today’s topic is one that’s actually quite important, not just to your life in general, but to your writing specifically. Yes, you read that correctly. This topic is more important than you’d guess.

I want to talk about your health.

Why? Well, it’s one of those topics that seems to take a backseat whenever we’re talking about writing. Go to writing cons and writing classes and you’ll hear all about prosaic styles, show versus tell, hooks, prologues, and many, many other important bits of writing. But one thing you almost never hear about is the author taking good care of themselves.

And personally, I think that’s a bit of an oversight.

Continue reading