May updates for #IWSG and the #amwriting community.

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Hello visitors from #IWSG! Happy Star Wars day! I have some updates here that might be of interest to the neurotic writing community.

First up, I’ve got my ongoing series of writing exercises.

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.


Other happenings:

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I have a story called Far Flung in a contest on Inkshares.

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.


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I’ve been hanging out in writing subforums on Reddit, especially /r/writingprompts

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!

#IWSG September – Writing and Apathy

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For the #IWSG folks visiting today, in my last posts here and here, I talked about apathy as it affects me as a writer.

I’ve been hit by a sort of burnout, and I’m in a position where I want to write, I even know what I want to write, and have a plan laid out, but – no motivation. Poof, gone – the drive to write (or else) isn’t coming.

I wondered in my last post if writers are any more prone to such burnouts than other professions. Well, I don’t think so, necessarily. You hear about teacher burnout all the time, and lots of people quit decent, well-paying jobs because they just can’t take it anymore.

I wrote about the paradoxes of writing that affect me now:

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 also saw articles like this:

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It’s clear that there is indeed a big risk of depression among writers, but I’m not so sure it’s clinical depression that I’m feeling. I’ve been depressed before, been on both Prozac and Zoloft. This … doesn’t feel like that. It’s not a crushing despair, it’s more like emotional procrastination. I’m putting it off, I’m pushing it back, and I can’t bring myself to care about writing as much as I did when I started this site.

Can anyone reading this relate?

Do you know this kind of apathy I’m talking about? It shares some symptoms with depression, and could be linked to depression, but it’s not quite as severe – it’s more just loss of emotional investment in writing or other passions.

I’m still exploring this, but will post more this month as I figure out what it is I’m actually dealing with and how I’ll work out some solutions.

 

Writing Past Apathy, Part 2

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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:

Are Writers More Likely to Get Burned Out?

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.

How Much Does Diet Affect Writing?

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.

How Does One Keep Writing in a Bad Relationship?

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.

#IWSG #AtoZChallenge – A follow-up to my 2nd A-to-Z Challenge

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It was an interesting and fun month!

I did an A-to-Z challenge back in 2014 with a fantasy theme. At the time I had a fantasy novel on my mind, but I lacked the drive I needed to really get it finished. I ended up with a blog full of scary fantasy creatures, but no writing to show how I was using them.

This year, I’m happy to say, things were very different. I have Far Flung in the works, a serial science fiction story that I am releasing on my other blog, piece by piece. Less than a week before the A-to-Z challenge was about to start, I realized something. I was too late for the theme reveal, but I could still do it. I could tie in A-to-Z with my serial fiction, and get A-to-Z to help me with research!

I decided to do the A-to-Z Challenge with a sci-fi theme. Will I use all those sci-fi ideas in Far Flung? Probably not. But I’ll use a lot of them. It certainly doesn’t hurt to know that much more about this genre I claim I can write in!

One downside, I suppose, was that I was late posting the latest chapter for Far Flung. I haven’t been super strict about its release schedule (something I need to change about myself) but I still want to get two parts out every month. Now I think I need a break from Far Flung – I’ve been writing it as I go so far, with most of the planning in my head. Not a great way to work, I know, but it’s kept me writing at least. However, I desperately need a buffer of three or four chapters of Far Flung before I post the next one.

That is my key lesson from A-to-Z – the importance of researching and pre-scheduling posts! So I’m taking a month away from posting Far Flung, but that won’t mean I’m not working on it!

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I love what I’ve seen from other A-to-Z folks.

There were a lot of great thoughts on writing over at CR Ward’s Writing Journal, Liz Brownlee wrote poetry every day over at her blog, and Ally Bean made me hungry with humorous posts about food. Of course there were many, many more participants, so be sure to stop by some of their blogs.

Thanks to everyone in both IWSG and the A-to-Z Challenge. You are wonderful communities to share with!

 

 

#IWSG March 2016 – A colouring night to fund a book!

Last month, I posted about the difficulty in funding a writing group collaboration

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:

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A colouring night?

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!

 


 

jukepopMy teaching semester has started, but I should be able to update Far Flung soon!

#IWSG February 2016 – Funding a Writing Group’s Publication

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The Busan Writing Group’s Publication from 2015

The Time Has Come Again!

The Busan Writing Group is publishing another collection.

When we did this last year, it was for one simple reason – so that we could rightfully say that we were a serious writing group that published. It was a good experience, and I’m glad we did it – it’s probably the biggest reason or group has increased in membership.

However, one thing it certainly didn’t do was earn money. Okay, well, none of us expected to make much, but we had hoped to break even at least! We lost money – we paid for a 50-copy print run, and we couldn’t even sell all of those! As for the ebook edition – I think we’ve had all of one confirmed purchase…

How embarrassing!

Okay, so a lot of this is part of the nature of the beast – we are a group of amateurs, no one really knows us yet, etc. etc. But there is no way we can ask our contributors this year to pay for the privilege of being in another collection that nobody will buy.

I’m also going to make an ebook again – the writing group members all have friends and family overseas, so an ebook makes a lot of sense for easy sharing and selling. I have to admit, though – I’m less enthusiastic about formatting and arranging it this time. Getting people to buy an ebook is often harder than getting them to pay for a print copy!

So we have to fund this.

Kickstarter, Patreon, begging at local bars – we’ve considered a lot of different ideas. THe current idea involves running a special event at the same bar that hosts Words Only and other spoken word events. If we can get a crowd of people who regularly do slam poetry, comedy nights, and reading events to pay a small cover charge for a fun , night, that money could pay for a limited run of prints.

#IWSG, I’d like to know:

Have you done a group self-publication before? Do you have any ideas for funding a project like this?

 


 

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Current Project – Far Flung, a Sci-Fi Serial

Yes, it will get updated soon, I swear…

#IWSG December 2015 – Writing in Sickness and in Health

One of the hardest things about writing is doing it e.v.e.r.y. d.a.y., no matter what.

I’m a father, a full-time teacher, a part-time tutor, a weekend teacher, a member of a good writing group, AND a writer. I’m sorry to say that yes, several days can go by when I do not write fiction. Now, I do make an effort to at least read various stories, especially those on Jukepop, where I’m trying to make a splash.

I like to think that writing reviews and blog posts “counts” as writing, and that reading is every bit as important as writing. As long as I do something that furthers my dream of being a full-time author, every single day. Even today, when I’m coughing like crazy, falling asleep in my chair, and faced with a huge stack of emails from the Creative Writing ESL class I teach at my full-time job.

I’ve been taking my time on my current serial, but this has also meant that the social side – the reviewing, following up, and promotion that I have to do to keep it alive – has fallen behind. I’m sick, darn it! Yeah, well – that old excuse just don’t cut it in the writing world, eh?

For the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, I’d like to ask:

Do you “count” your blogging in with your writing, or do you feel you have to write some bit of fiction, every day, no matter what? How do you handle sick days – would you say it’s better to slug it out, or give yourself a bit of a rest?

Well, happy writing folks. I gotta take my medicine…

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