This is embarrassing.
The exercises will return shortly!
In the meantime, help me get the pre-order numbers up for Far Flung. Your help will help me create the best sci-fi experience I can!
Hello visitors from #IWSG! Happy Star Wars day! I have some updates here that might be of interest to the neurotic writing community.
Every week for the past few months I’ve put up posts on Tuesday and Thursday featuring a writing exercise and my own sample take on the exercise. I’ll be compiling these exercises into a book later on, as I really need a new textbook for teaching fiction writing to ESL students. While I won’t claim to be a writing genius, I think the exercises will work well with writers at all levels of ability. I hope they will inspire you as well.
This month’s exercises focuses on using different points of view in writing. I hope you’ll check them out.
This contest is held by Launch Pad and Inkshares, and requires that you submit the first 50 pages of a novel you are working on. Your 50 pages will be read by successful authors and publishers, and you will have a chance to win a publishing contract or one of several other prizes. Might be worth checking out!
If you’ve never heard of Inkshares, it’s a crowd-funding program for indie authors. They’re a really good bunch of people, and I encourage you to check out the website.
There are some very good prompts, and anyone is allowed to add their own. One prompt was so appealing, it got me to break my long Reddit silence and write a weird little fantasy piece.
Anyway, I suppose my message to IWSG this month is that I #amwriting, and finding excuses to write rather than excuses not to. Maybe that’ll help you find your own excuse!
I’m an anxious person. I get stress about getting stressed.
Anxiety can hold you back from submitting your writing to magazines for fear of rejection. It can lead you to frustration at a lack of output, drive you to release self-published work without the proper feedback needed – because you know you need to get something out there.
I am trying to own my anxiety and make it work for me. I’ve tried medication for anxiety, and it works to some extent, but let me tell you – without some legwork, no amount of Zoloft is going to help that much.
Literal legwork, as in exercise – if you’re an Insecure Writer, chances are, writing keeps you busy. Maybe you wonder how you can have time for it. Well, the only answer is to make time.
Do you have 7 minutes in the morning? A lunch break long enough to step outside? Stairs you can take instead of an elevator? I find that even a bit of exercise does wonders for anxiety.
And keep a darned diary already. I’m guilty of not keeping one regularly – I have to force myself. I have to accept that I am never going to want to keep a diary. But I wil keep one anyway – it’s essential.
The point of this rambling? Good habits have to be forced sometimes. You may need medicine for your anxiety, there’s no shame in that, but there are also habits you absolutely DO need. Anxiety and insecurity do not give you excuses – find helpful habits and stick to them. The anxiety won’t go away, but it will be a lot more manageable.
One question remains: did I write today’s post for my readers or for myself? The answer, of course, is a resounding yes.
Just a quick post today to reaffirm that I am addressing this apathy problem of mine.
Heh, I see the irony in that – one could say I don’t care enough to make a full post…
Here are some of the avenues my questioning mind has taken over the last week:
You see, I think some writers may be especially prone to anxiety, apathy, or depression because of some basic contradictions that plague our work.
I have to write about other people facing problems and living their lives, but I’m shy and awkward around real people.
I have to get exercise and eat healthy food, both of which are imposing tasks to someone who needs to sit down and write, dammit.
I have to travel, explore new places and see new things to fuel my fiction, but I have a family and a tight budget.
I wonder if some writers give up on their dreams because these contradictions just seem too much.
This has come into my mind as an important question. I’m pretty sure a writer must be profoundly affected by diet and exercise – there’s a lot of research out there that shows how diet affects cognition. I love junk food (is this a thing with authors?), and the research says fast food and junk food are every bit as bad for the brain as they are for the body. In my case, I’m pretty sure now that junk food makes me more irritable and withdrawn (even on top of my usual introversion), so I’m thinking that my current frustration and burnout has a lot to do with the “fuel” I provide myself with for long writing sessions.
I won’t blame my lack of writing recently on my bad relationship – that makes it sound like I’m not at fault. I’ve fallen into a trap – one I think is the most common trap of all. I like to blame things on my ‘bad relationship’ when there has been so much I’ve done or neglected to do that made this relationship bad. I also won’t blame myself as the sole reason for everything being bad. The growing distance between my wife and I came from things we both did and didn’t do.
While my wife and I work through this, I still need ways to write. There’s a good post here about how to keep blogging when things go to shit, and it looks like a good place to start. I also find myself writing about the problems I have with my wife in a private notebook, and I have to say, just taking constant measure of the problems seems to help a lot.
My next post will be the monthly Insecure Writer’s Support Group post for Wednesday, September 7. I think I’ll choose one of the three avenues I’m thinking about here and expand on it. Maybe the IWSG folks will have some thoughts to add, too.
It’s a dangerous, comfortable thing. Its danger is in the relief it provides. You weather a storm of emotions, swirling in subconscious corridors, pulling apart the delicate fabric of synapses. Finally, your mind just cannot handle it. Some sort of overload, like a fuse that finally blows in the electrochemical circuitry of the brain and suddenly, the emotions no longer bother you.
Oh, they don’t go away. You should never think an apathetic person doesn’t have feelings; quite the opposite. The feelings simply stop registering. The brain withdraws, refusing to let the emotions cause more pain or stress. But with the stress, willpower, motivation, and the urge to improve can also get washed away in the numbing mental bleach of apathy.
I find myself at my writer’s desk. The story is within, yet so are many other thoughts, a tangle of threads that seems impossible to unravel. I know what will happen next; I know what I have planned for my characters. Yet I cannot remember why. My reasons for writing, my motivations, they can’t break through the mess of feelings or the apathy that stands between those feelings and my full awareness of them. A coffee seems good right about now. Maybe a chocolate bar. I wonder what’s happening on Reddit and Twitter now? How about a session of Skyrim or No Man’s Sky? Anything would be better than trying to pry the story out from under the layers of feelings and negative thoughts covering it.
My personal life is a wreck. My schedule has left me little time for a social life. Even when I do meet people, they aren’t my people. The writer’s club I was with now meets on a night I simply can’t get out. Those people were my support, my backup, my reason for writing. It was easy to write when I could meet them every week.
I’ve lost the in-person meetings with that group. With my kids and my wife’s full-time-plus job, it doesn’t seem like I’ll get back together with them regularly anytime soon.
My relationship with my wife is at an all-time-low. We barely talk, and when we do, it’s so that she can complain or lecture me. I know so much is my fault, and that I probably deserve the bad feelings, but it’s so hard to improve when I know exactly what our next conversation will be.
This first post about my apathy problem is my attempt to size it up, look at why I’m burnt out. I think I can sum it up like this: my apathy manifested once my mind couldn’t handle all of the feelings. My writing has suffered because I can’t meet my friends, yes, but there’s another reason I can’t write. Writing requires me to process feelings and experiences, weave them into a narrative. My desire to write is down, because my willingness to confront my feelings is way, way down.
Over the next few Sundays, I will post updates on this apathy. I will look for ways to meet people, ways to boost my writing morale, and ways to confront the relationship problems that are behind the writing problems.
For my readers, I’d appreciate if you share experiences of burnout or apathy, especially as they relate to writing. I’ll read your replies, and work them into the next post.
I appreciate any and all insights. Thank you so much in advance.
Apathy, sculpture at Canary Warf, photo by Monika Bota, https://www.flickr.com/photos/monikabota/4768246617
The Passion of Creation, painting by – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Leonid_Pasternak_-_The_Passion_of_creation.jpg
I mean, there’s a lot that’s been wrong with my life, but there’s also a lot that’s been right, and I hope both sides have shown up in my writing. My wife and I have serious issues to get through. We agree on our kids, though – our wonderful boys bring joy into our lives, even as we both work harder than ever to provide for them.
This impending birthday is one reason my online story, Far Flung, has been long in getting another update. I’ve been pretty anxious about turning 40, and wondering what exactly it means. I have a career, a family, and kids, but nowhere near as much writing as I wanted to do. There may be some interesting news soon – I’ve been in talks with a potential publisher, describing my plans for a story very different from Far Flung. I can’t say more now, but I’m pretty hopeful something new and different will come of it.
It’s been over a month since I’ve published a Far Flung episode, and it will probably be one more before I really get back to it. I’m looking at an early July release for the next episode – but rest assured, I have drafts for 2 episodes almost ready now, with a 3rd in the works. My goal is to have 1 episode ready and 3 more nearly ready when I post the next part.
The next episode will also start a new act in the overall arc of the story, with the Tereshkova colonists trying to live in the habitat prepared for them by their alien allies. There will be several episodes devoted to life in this temporary colony and the tensions that develop between members of the Tereshkova crew.
It’ll be really fun if something comes of the publishing talks and I work on Far Flung at the same time. Either way, I expect to start a Patreon funding scheme for Far Flung soon – something to help me devote more time to Far Flung, hire editing services, and produce better episodes with material on characters, technology, and other background information.
So that’s what’s going on. Just your friendly neighborhood author keeping busy and having an existential crisis as another decade of life passes!
The cold, hard truth is this: if you want to do a group publication with your local writer’s group, you are doing so only to “legitimize” yourselves as writers who publish, and to contribute to your local culture (and there’s nothing wrong with those goals). You simply aren’t going to sell it to many outside immediate friends and family: “Oh, this book is by Such & Such Writer’s Group. Big deal, I don’t know them. I’ll buy a different book, thanks”.
But what we certainly do not want is to publish this at a loss for our writers (been there, done that).
I had one interesting suggestion for funding that I passed on to my group, that of doing a steak night or BBQ to raise money. A good idea, and maybe we should still try it! The idea that took over, however was this:
Adult colouring books are trending big time now, and hey, as long as there’s alcohol involved, writers can be gathered for just about anything.
Yup. We’re having people come, pay a cover charge, and grab some colouring pages and crayons! I fully expect it to be very strange at first, but also very relaxing. This will make me sound like a hipster, but I was colouring before it was cool! It is very relaxing and great for my stress.
We’re holding the event this Thursday night in Busan. Any money we make off this is going directly into printing and distributing the paper copies, as well as producing the eventual ebook version.
For the IWSG folks visiting today – What do you think about this coloring night idea?
If you come check back on this site, I’ll update with the results!
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Just a redheaded woman who is obsessed with books
Read a lot, live a little, survive the children.