#WritingTips: 6/25/19

There are times when I try to give advice to authors and I feel like I’m failing. I know “time” is hard to negotiate between “real life” and our make believe sessions at a pen and paper (or computer, etc). The real question is, “Is this your real life? Or is it a hobby?” The question lingers overhead like a giant thought bubble taking up the space of breath between me and said author.  Do you think I don’t understand? Oh, I do.

Accountability: Own it. Whether it’s a mistake, a failure, a success, a lie, a truth … just own it.

If I don’t make time to write, that’s on me. No one else. I choose to not make that time. No one else but me owns my time.

You say, “it doesn’t pay the bills.” No, it doesn’t. Not yet. Because you’re not taking inventory and ownership of it. Trust me. I run a small press. No one is making a living off of this. Whose fault is that? Mine, theirs, ours. When my brain wants to explode and I shut down? I own it. When they need a break and life overwhelms? They own it (most of them, anyway). We all do the best we can.

Let’s finish with the coddling, now.

Only you can sit and write your story down. You have to do it. You have to push through the dry spells, the hectic life, the exhaustion, the depression, the loneliness, and the mania.

Make. It. A. Habit.

Give yourself a set amount of time a day. Most of us have a certain period (night, day, morning dump, etc.) where we are unbothered and can jot down a few words. Carry a notebook with you and jot ideas down. Seriously, this isn’t hard. Grab a napkin. Grab an old receipt. Keep all your notes in one spot and keep them organized. Maybe an index card box? A shoe box with cardboard dividers? An accordion file … whatever.

You have to believe you want to do it, in order to be motivated. You have to be your own cheerleader.

Stop listening to everyone else and listen to YOU. Are you proud of your progress? Are you proud of your growth? Are you proud of your words? If not, work for it. Earn your own approval. Stop wallowing in self-deprecation and make yourself worthy of YOU.

What I can do is give you the tools you need. What you can do is use the tools.

Now, stop what you’re doing and give me 100 words.

Craziness Within My Head

When I set out to write this book, I remember thinking how easy I thought it would be. I would just sit down and type away on my keyboard like I did all the time. Coming up with stories is so easy for me. I have ideas that swirl around in my head all day long, sometimes keeping me from sleep. I am serious! There’s been times when I could not shut my mind off long enough to sleep because I could see a story unfold every time I closed my eyes. Afraid that I’d lose it or forget, like I’d done so many other times, I would rush for my computer and create it. Complete with pictures, websites, etc.

Each story had to have it’s own little world. I couldn’t just stop with writing. I had to have a physical, tangible “thing” that I could look at and reminisce over.

So going back to the creation of this book…

I cannot tell you how many times I put this away and decided it was over. I couldn’t decide where it was going, or, even worse, I didn’t want to write the story because if I wrote the story then it’d have to have an ending. This is a major source of anxiety for me. Have any of my fellow writers had this? Or am I just really that crazy?

I don’t like my stories to have an ending. In my head they continue on and on. And even if I didn’t write 100 books or chronicles about their lives, they would live on, dancing in my over-active brain (whose always sleep deprived).

What really got me about my decision to write this book was how, it would not let me let it go. It nagged, and nagged. It demanded that its story be told. I had little chapters that I’d printed out and shown to friends, here and there. They all said the same thing, “You have to write this! Where’s the rest?” Each time I’d smile and think to myself that they were only trying to be nice. They’re my friend or family member, they have to be encouraging, right?

It was when I sat down and got serious about it, and staying in the practice of writing every day, whether on paper (which most days it had to be, since I could only write during my lunch time at work) or tossing out a paragraph to sew together the ideas already committed to Times New Roman font, that I realized that other people liked it too.

Still, my insecurities are there. I wonder if it will be good enough. If I’m good enough. If the story makes sense. I even asked that several times of every person I let read what I had managed to glue together, “Does it make sense?” Because if it didn’t, I had to fix it.

Another hangup I had was, is it accurate enough. I’m talking about a historical and real person. I’m bringing up an era that many die-hard fans are sometimes unforgiving about. As much as I know about the era, I realized that I could dig up 100 more things I didn’t already know.

My dedication to the integrity of the book is such a priority that I didn’t want someone to read it and say, “That’s impossible..even for fantasy.” When you take away from things that make it real, even in a fantastical world…if you lift their feet too far off the ground, when you write about real things, it makes it imperative that they can relate by knowing.

What does that mean? It means, if I talk about the neighborhood I grew up in as a child in Chicago, you may not know the street name, but if I describe digging out a parking spot in the snow for two hours and “reserving it” with two chairs and a broom… You’ll get it, if you’re from Chicago. Those things are important to me. So important that I was (am) frightened to death that I’ll “get it wrong”.

Finally, however, I gave up the fear. I want to write this story. I want to share it with friends and family and everyone else that wants to read it. If you “get it” then that makes me all the more happy. If you don’t? Well…

I don’t know.

But I do know, I will have the satisfaction of finishing it. And that’s all that really matters, right?


Today is Sunday.  Normally, this is the day I do all my chores for the week.  Loads of laundry that pile up,  cleaning my bedroom, etc.

I want to write a little every day but sometimes on Sunday I find it hard to find inspiration,  or even motivation.  I wonder what other authors and fellow writers do to get through this.

Any ideas?