C h a z z W r i t e s . c o m

The publishing revolution already happened.

Smash Writer’s Block: Write Hardboiled Fiction

You aren’t going to feel like writing all the time. Set an egg timer and tell yourself you’ll just write for ten minutes. That’s one very hardboiled egg. You can manage ten minutes. Write as fast as you can and don’t pause to think. Don’t pause to look back and edit. Just go!

How this helps:

1. It gets you writing. You don’t need big blocks of time. Lots of writers knock out entire books in short segments. Little bits of stolen time are how stay-at-home moms and dads live. Do it consistently and you’ll build your book.

2. This technique forces you to move forward and not dither over split infinitives. Revise later. Write right now.

3. Once you get started, you will often find you’ll want to keep going. You may not have started off in the zone, but by promising yourself just ten minutes, you will often end up there and decide you want to stay, persevere and write more.

BONUS:

Some will say, “I don’t have even ten minutes.”

(I have heard this.)

Answer:

Sorry to say, these people are whiners. You don’t have ten minutes? Really? 

Reality check:

You aren’t that crucial. You aren’t that important. You’re experiencing resistance. Go work on yourself and find out why you’re manufacturing drama. And ask yourself, do you really want to be a writer?

You don’t always have to be “in the mood” to write. You do have to take responsibility for not writing.

Filed under: getting it done, writing tips, ,

Art is a Call to Action

Yesterday I watched a great movie: The Age of Stupid. It’s about global warming and how we aren’t doing diddly about it. It also puts a human face on the one ideological system that has won over our hearts and minds. It’s not any particular religion precisely. It is consumerism. Consumerism has won.

It got me thinking about the international, social and political landscape. Many things look grim. A friend says we must stay in Afghanistan. On Penn & Teller’s Bullshit, a dying man pleads to die with dignity. The man’s doctor feels his personal ethics preclude him from exercising that act of compassion (or letting anyone else exercise compassion and personal choice.) In my city a police officer will be demoted today for smoking marijuana off-duty (and I wonder how many officers are drinking alcohol on duty today?) There’s a lot of silly stuff going on out there and I think we can’t afford to be silly anymore.

There are a lot of problems in the world. We can’t solve them all. Remember approximately 100 days ago the Gulf of Mexico was poisoned (and shall be for decades)? Everyone was saying, “Plug it! Plug it! Why don’t they just plug it?” My answer? Because it’s a mile under ground and water. Because it’s really hard to do. If it were easy, they would have done it quickly.

News flash! Nobody’s going to Mars, either. It’s too hard. The problems are insurmountable.

This isn’t just an unpopular idea. It’s a new idea. For instance, people who believe that we can squeeze all the oil out of the ground and just when we run out of that, a new energy source will appear to replace it (and act just like it and be just as convenient.) Why do they think that? Because they’ve been seduced by the idea that technology can solve all problems. Strides have been made and things have gotten better in many ways. But we still have all kinds of cancer.

Big problems? We’re not good at big problems. Our record is spotty. Insulin was a big one, but not a cure, and how many decades ago was that? Smallpox vaccine? Great. Millions saved. But what have you done for me lately? Medical development and invention from here on out is baby steps. I’d much rather see the military budget for stealth bombers pump up educational budgets and medical research. (Maybe then we can run again instead of taking baby steps.)

Dismaying nugget: Your chances of being killed by a terrorist are always close to zero. Your chances of dying from cancer or heart disease are excellent. We need to rethink how we allocate out resources.

Naysayers who have swallowed the line they’ve been sold forever (“anything is possible”) will say I’m hooked up to an IV of Can’t Do Spirit. Where would we be blah blah blah? I’m not saying progress hasn’t been made. Progress is made up of a lot of little steps. I’m saying we’re not up to the things we think we are.

Examples: Changing Afghanistan’s culture? Nope. (Thought experiment: Imagine the Taliban coming here and trying to change our culture with the same tools? Would drone aircraft change your mind to Allah?) Curing cancer? Not in my lifetime, or sadly, in my children’s lifetime. (The cure for all diseases is just around the corner, according to fundraisers. Actual research scientists? Not so much.)

It’s not all bad. Science has made life pretty great. For us, anyway.

And I have a solution. We focus on the small things. We change what we can change. We change ourselves and hope to transform the world through small, effective actions instead of costly monumental hopeless projects. Resources are limited. We can’t afford to go to Mars, and why would we want to when people are starving and struggling right here, right now?

We donate goats to African families so those families won’t starve. I can’t solve all of Africa’s problems. (Africa will have to do that.) But I can buy a goat. A friend of mine made a documentary that has convinced me I must do so, in fact. This is the highest form of art—art that moves you emotionally, and to action. The documentary will be coming out soon. It’s called Where’s My Goat?

You have limited resources, but you are a writer. Who will you change today through your art?

Filed under: movies, Rant, Writers, ,

Cool Word of the Day

kee

n. (Prov. Eng.) the plural of cow

Filed under: Cool Word of the Day

Top 10 Ways Writers Waste Time

1. Join a writer’s group. Resent every criticism and ignore all advice.

2. Join a writer’s group. Take every passing suggestion from everyone without regard for your own ear.

3. Join a writing organization. Volunteer for a bunch of committees. Never write a word for yourself again.

4. Wait for inspiration.

5. Indulge writer’s block. Complain to your sympathetic friends. Stay pathetic. Like them.

6. Don’t write to a deadline. Figure it will work out on its own.

7. Send off your first draft as soon as you’ve typed “The End.” Revision is for your lessors.

8. Edit forever. Call yourself a perfectionist instead of a lazy coward.

9. Don’t send simultaneous submissions. (The math says your work has a chance at publication. Posthumously.)

10. Obsess over writing trivia and silly Top 10 lists you spotted cruising Twitter. Instead of writing. Goddamnit.

Filed under: writing tips,

Writing Critique: What’s Reasonable?

The other day I recommended Nathan Bransford’s blog (especially the publishing wrap-up on Fridays.) On Mondays he provides an excellent service in showing how he thinks as he evaluates a manuscript. I often agree with his opinion, but this Monday’s critique post struck me as hypercritical. Check it out and see what you think for yourself.

On this one, I didn’t understand most of his problems with the writing sample. When Mr. Bransford professed that he wasn’t understanding the story, I was thinking, “Why? I get it. Wouldn’t everybody get this? Sounds interesting. Tell me more.” (Dean Koontz wrote a book and there were a couple of TV shows with a similar premise.) As I read I thought, if they don’t get it, they’re probably not readers, anyway.

Larger point? It’s a subjective business. Keep submitting. Writers can’t hear that message often enough. Somebody will get it.

Filed under: agents, manuscript evaluation, queries, , ,

Writing Productivity and Success: What’s in Your Way?

Flat on my back, weak as a weak kitten and sick as a very sick dog, I’ve had some time to think about what may be holding me back in my publishing endeavors. I’ve got a lot going on and somehow I always manage to push through. I tend to write in spasms according to deadlines I set for myself. I could do better and now I think I know why I haven’t accomplished more. My health isn’t what it should be.

One of the things I’ve noticed creeping over me for awhile is a lack of motivation and listlessness. I’ve been easily distracted. I often sleep poorly at night and need to sleep during the day. Last week the headaches were coming frequently and staying longer than my occasional tension headaches. Then I had a bad reaction to eating oatmeal. Then things got pretty bad. I had to cancel appointments. I had a hard time moving at all. I haven’t been diagnosed yet, but I suspect gluten intolerance is the culprit.* The gastrointestinal symptoms fit, but so do the non-abdominal problems.

Mold, chronic illness, excess sugar, decreased fitness, sleep disorders, addictions, poor food choices, ADD, depression… There are all kinds of medical reasons for a cloudy head, inactivity, irritability, loss of energy and mood swings. Maybe your parents were wrong and you really aren’t lazy. (It’s a possibility, and won’t that be a fine thing to throw in their faces at the annual Thanksgiving argument?)

Good news: I’ve been eating a gluten-free diet for several days and I think things are improving. I can tell my system is slowly recovering. Most important to me, I feel like my mental clarity and motivation are returning. Writing is a tough business. I have to diet and exercise to be a part of it. Maybe you don’t, but now I know I do. To succeed in writing, you need to be prolific. Dilettantes won’t make it anymore, no matter the reasons that hold down their creativity, positivity and production.

*If you suspect gluten intolerance—or worse, Celiac disease—see your doctor.

Want a bigger kick in the butt? Read a great Slate article on the “active non-accomplishment” of taking too long to write a novel.

Filed under: getting it done, , ,

Ebooks: The Inevitable Rise of the Machines

Filed under: ebooks, Publicity & Promotion, , ,

Copyblogger: 73 Ways to Become a Better Writer

This is a great list from Copyblogger. Implement just a handful of these suggestions and you’ll be a better writer.

Filed under: writing tips,

Publishing: this is how hard it is

Les Edgerton’s latest post gives you a glimpse of how common query rejection is in the real world. And it’s not necessarily you. It’s them. Write it. Submit. Resubmit until it’s accepted. Don’t drive yourself nuts worrying about things you can’t control.

Filed under: agents, publishing, Rejection, ,

Vampires, What’s Hot & What Editors Want

Last year the word was, “We’re burnt out on vampires and werewolves! No more! No more!” New York editors say that every second year. Some even go so far as to pronounce the genre dead (despite Salem’s Lot, Anne Rice, Buffy, Team Edward etc.,…) You shouldn’t have believed those pleas from treacherous agents and editors.

Get this: Vampires do not die. Get it? They just don’t.

I just ran across a blog by author/agent Mandy Hubbard that confirms your worst fears about the immortality of the undead. She also drops some science on you about the art that’s coming out and what editors want. Great blog! The magic key to the kingdom right now has the initials MG.*

*BONUS:

I don’t believe in trying to time the market (that goes for the stock market as well as the book market.) However, if you’ve got a manuscript that fits into these trends, you need to send it out again. Keep in mind, what was last year’s laughable proposal might be a hot prospect this year. Keep submitting!

Filed under: agents, blogs & blogging, Editors, publishing, web reviews, , ,

Available now!

Fast-paced terror, new threats, more twists.

An autistic boy versus our world in free fall

Suspense to melt your face and play with your brain.

Action like a Guy Ritchie film. Funny like Woody Allen when he was funny.

Jesus: Sexier and even more addicted to love.

"You will laugh your ass off!" ~ Maxwell Cynn, author of Cybergrrl

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