#IWSG November 2017 – Rethinking my blog and writing

A short post for the Insecure Writers Support Group this month, all about my current state of affairs and things I think will be interesting to the neurotic writers who pass by blogs like this every month.

First, if you haven’t seen my guest post on world-building on John Robin’s blog, be sure to check that out – it was fun to write, and I really have to do that more often,

I’m looking at new ways to use this blog

So one big change I’m making now (and a reason for the lack of updates) is deciding what I want to use this blog for. Some of my writing tips have gone over well, and I might go back to doing that weekly. I like the idea of previewing others’ writing like I did for the Launch Pad contest – I could see myself doing little previews of upcoming and released indie works.

One thing’s for sure – I can’t do long updates or too frequent ones. Regular updates, yes, but probably not more than once, maybe twice a week. I need to do more actual writing!

NaNoWriMo

No. Not really, anyway. I need to finish the book I’m working on, not start a new one now. I’d rather devote a set amount of time to working on my current book than set a specific word count. I’ll start with 1 hour per day, and see if I can boost that up a bit.

Anxiety

I’m doing some online counseling (best option I have at the moment) and it will spill over onto this blog in some form. I think my writing and my anxiety interact in many ways, and that some tips to deal with one will also help with the other. I’m on the lookout for other blogs that talk about anxiety and writing – there should be some good links with IWSG I would think!

Anyway, that’s my rambling IWSG post for November. If you have some ideas for content for my blog, feel free to leave comments. I’ll be looking around some of your blogs too!

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#IWSG for September – Surprising

 

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A short post and a late one for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group!

if you’ve never heard of them, the IWSG is a huge group of bloggers who talk about the neurotic dangers of writing. Be sure to look around the huge list of blogs – there are always insightful and useful posts and helpful people.

I surprised myself with my writing for the Busan Writing Group, my local writing club. I was always certain before I fond them that sci-fi and fantasy would be my writing mainstays. When we got an anthology together for the first time, however, my story had no fantasy at all. It was a touching tribute to the loneliness of an expat’s first time in Korea, and an odd, sad love story. Shortly after, I had my first story published outside the BWG, and it had no fantasy or sci-fi at all either – just a confrontation between nephew and aunt over a dark secret.

In following anthologies, deep personal themes made up the basis, with fantasy in small doses. I’ve had a taste of a style I didn’t even realize was in me – a more literary, realistic scenario with the fantasy working its way in gradually. I still write full sci-fi and fantasy (as a glance around this blog will confirm), but for short stories, I think I’ll further explore this ‘realistic’ style and see how the weirder ideas play into it.

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Help me kickstart my writing career and get a great sci-fi novel!

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Far Flung, my sci-fi epic that’s in the Top 50 of the Launch Pad Manuscript Competition, is in funding now.

Be sure to read the preview chapters & tell me what you think! Consider supporting the campaign – your support will help me put this in the hands of readers everywhere!

#IWSG for August – Dark Times

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Getting back into writing seems a lot harder for me now.

Last time I was putting up one of these IWSG posts, I had a crowdfunding effort relating to my writing. I ended that campaign and contest with all of 16 backers total. I simply didn’t have enough of the right kind of contacts and friends to see it through, or the knowhow to reach out to people who might have helped. I couldn’t go on with the promotion – it was taking away all my time to write.

I am thankful for those 16, and the many more who read the work I was displaying for the contest. I wish I could have done better for them. If I ever decide to crowdfund for writing again, it will be an even harder uphill battle, since everyone I know saw me fall flat on my face. But I will get the story done, along with the others I am working on.

Home life is not going well, and I don’t have a way out other than to keep working my main job I have to make a living. My wife and I are making progress on our debt, but at the cost of making any progress on our stalled relationship.

Yet here I am, still at the writing game. I’m still teaching a writing course in September – a course for ESL learners that I have adapted from my own influences and writing guidebooks. I must still have a set of materials to teach from, and that is exactly what I was preparing with my series of blog posts on writing short fiction.  I will return to the series of posts next Tuesday.

I must keep writing, even with feelings of darkness.

I don’t know how I will spread the word and get the support of friends, family, and more when I have a major project ready. All I know for now is that I must have a very good project well and truly ready. I must work out some way to get to my writing group regularly despite the hard work I must do with my family. While online critique groups are great, in-person meetings have by and far the strongest motivational power for me.

For other members of the Insecure Writers Support Group – what gets you writing through feelings of being overwhelmed, through feelings that even your best writing will not be enough?

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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!