The Year in Review – What’s My Progress So Far?

December once more. Dang. Time flies so fast these days. I still remember what I was doing this time a year ago. I was halfway through the first draft of Colony and averaging about 3500-4000 words a day. Now, I’ve reached that time of year on the calendar one year down the road, and it’s time for me to look back and ask myself: “What on Earth have I accomplished in the last 365 days?”

It’s a valid question to ask of myself as the new year approaches, because I firmly believe that nothing motivates like having firm, measurable goals. In fact, I can say that they’re one of the reasons I’ve gone from writing under a 1000 words per day to writing 4000 or 5000 with gleeful abandon. In fact, this year I shattered another goal, setting a new record for myself during the writing of Beyond the Borderlands.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Better to take things in stride. So, without further ado, here is the year in review.

Continue reading

Op-Ed: Dealing with Detractors

I’m not filing this one under Being a Better Writer for the simple reason that it isn’t as much about improving your own writing as it is a tip for dealing with what may come when you do write. It’s definitely a writing tip, but a guide to make you a better writer? Well, it’ll touch on that, but this article isn’t entirely concerned with it.

So, detractors. For those of you scratching your heads right about now, what am I talking about.

Well, let’s make one thing clear. I’m not talking about critics. At least, not genuine, honest ones. Critics—good ones—are not detractors. Critics are critical, yes, but a good critic is also an individual who balances the good with the bad. They draw the creator’s attention to both the strong and the weak, giving those who view their criticism a balanced, aware presentation of the good and the bad.

A detractor, thusly, is not a real critic. A detractor is an individual who, for whatever reason, will never be satisfied nor happy with anything you create.

And once you put your writing out there, you can rest assured that the detractors will come. You will find them in writing groups. You will find them in comment threads. You’ll find them leaving “reviews” that serve only to savage. You can even find them in conversation about whatever medium their chosen target happens to fall in, bringing it up only to spread venom about it. No matter what your creation is, the detractors will come, and they will despise whatever you work, no matter the cause.

Why? Well, who can say? Some are simply trolls, the kind of individual who enjoys tearing others down for their own enjoyment. It doesn’t matter who, or what, if they sense a target, they’ll be there to tear into something or someone smug in the knowledge that even if the person on the other end of their words is going to have a day less sunny than it was before they spoke. They just enjoy making someone feel lousy.

Continue reading

Being a Better Writer: Motivation

This post was originally written and posted August 12th, 2014, and has been touched up and reposted here for archival purposes.

Still off the grid in Alaska. This post was uploaded ahead of time for your viewing pleasure.

I actually have been asked about this topic on numerous occasions, and it was something that came up from multiple people during my time at the Crystal Mountain Convention. Everyone has a variant on the topic, but in the end, they all boil down to a two-part question: what do I do that keeps me motivated, and—in connection with that—what advice do I have for them to acquire motivation and keep it?

I’ve attempted to tackle this discussion before, but ended up digressing into a discussion more about how I kept myself focused and on task rather than what I let motivate me. Which I suppose was because I probably see writing motivation as a bit different from what most new writers hope to hear. I get the feeling that a lot of times what people are really looking for when they ask me about motivation is some sort of “magic bullet” answer like “oh, it’ll come as soon as you get that one idea.” And to an extent, this does sort-of happen, but not in the way most are hoping. If you’re looking at this post to find the one thing that will suddenly, magically motivate you to write, make the work no longer seem like work, well … you won’t. That’s not how it works. Writing is work, and it’s always going to be work even if you enjoy it. The simplest answer I can give to motivating yourself to writing is “just do it.”

The problem a lot of young authors have is that they want the writing they’d like to do to be more appealing than say … playing Halo, watching television, or reading a book. They have this idea that they need to enjoy it, that writing should be just as fun and relaxing as sitting down with a controller in hand and playing a round of deathmatch. And the truth is, it isn’t. Not at first, anyway.

Continue reading

Being a Better Writer: Keeping Motivation on Longer Works

Welcome back, everyone! Being a Better Writer has returned at last! I know it’s only been two weeks since the last post, but honestly, with all that’s going on it felt like quite a bit longer.

Anyway, today we have a requested topic from the new topic list to tackle (remember that call for topics a few weeks ago?), and it’s an interesting one. It’s also a topic that I’ve tackled in part before (though that post hasn’t been reposted here, sorry!), but this time there was a new wrinkle added to the mix. Where before the question was just “Motivation while writing,” this time the question of length came into the equation.

Specifically, the reader wanted to know: how does one keep motivation up while working on a longer work?

Continue reading