Back to the Grind

Image Source: https://medium.com/the-mission/the-daily-routine-of-20-famous-writers-and-how-you-can-use-them-to-succeed-1603f52fbb77

So, last night, I wrote for the first time in almost a week.  I don’t know why I haven’t wanted to write in the past couple of weeks, except that I felt like my writing just wasn’t going well.  While I finished the rough draft of Project Star, it isn’t like finishing an actual project.  There’s not that sustained natural high that there is when one finishes a full project.  However, for some unknown reason, I really wanted write, so I made myself write and I really enjoyed it.

Reading and Writing Taking up the Same Time

I love to read and I love to write and sometimes those two loves compete for my (limited) pool of time.  For some reason, this week, I’ve really wanted to read, but I used the time that I would normally write and just read.  I’m rereading The Mallorean by David Eddings and I feel that has helped me stay sane.  However, my writing time has taken a hit because I’m using that writing time to do my reading.  Last night, however, I was so invested in writing that I wrote very quickly and finished up pretty quickly as well.  I then, still had enough time to read a little bit of The Mallorean.

I Feel Sickness Coming On . . .

The problem is that I think I’m getting sick.  I had a student in class today who had a Sinus Infection and some bronchus going on as well.  Based on how I feel writing this blog post, I really don’ t want to get sick as I have waaaaaayyyyyy too much to do, but it looks like that is what’s happening. Not sure how this will affect my writing as I play it by ear; it just depends on how I feel.  Well, that’s all that I have for now.  See you next week!

Sidney




  • Current Work-in-Progress: The Independent (Sci-Fi Short-Story – 2nd Draft)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Project Star (Sci-Fi Short-Story -1st Draft)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows (Sci-Fi Graphic Novel – Script, Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 31)
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A Working Writer Writes

This is an extremely hard thing to figure out.  There is something about writing in which we give all the praise for writing that has been written versus writing that is being written.  Grades, publications, and feedback all come from reading writing that that has been produced rather than writing that is in the process of being produced, but for me, I need the drafting process.  I can’t be a “pantser” or a “gardener” because I need the multiple drafts to essentially work on different elements of the story at different times.  For me, trying to do character, dialogue (which is a function of character), plot, setting and theme all in one go is simply too much for me as a writer.  I need to be able to separate these individual elements out rather than trying to focus on them all at once.

The Architect, Builder, and Craftsman

There is an image of the Eiffel tower is being built.  We see its base, and we see it being constructed and being erected slowly, piece-by-piece, but at the end we see the completed masterpiece.  This is basically the way I write.  I build up images and impressions.  They seem so clear in my mind, but as I write them, I find that they are really “fuzzy” and “blurry” (in terms of pure storytelling).  The more I work on them and revise them, the “clearer” they become (again, in terms of storytelling).  While my new stories might not work in terms of publication because they are not as “grimdark” as the current Sci-Fi/Fantasy works, they do seem to be a lot closer to the vision that I had in my head for the original story genesis.  Now I just have to find a way to keep drafting (and perhaps speed up just a bit) so as to get more work done monthly, so that I can finish projects and feel a sense of accomplishment that also drives my writing.

Sidney




  • Current Work-in-Progress: The Independent (Sci-Fi Short-Story – 2nd Draft)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Project Star (Sci-Fi Short-Story -1st Draft)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows (Sci-Fi Graphic Novel – Script, Issue #1, Currently on Script Page 28)

 

 

Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores, Part Deux

So, I just wanted to say that I did send a story to Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores for this submission period.  I doubt seriously that they will accept it, but I really wanted to have something out to them as I have missed three or four submission periods.

Citizen X

I sent them one of the stories that I finished a while back–Citizen X.  I don’t expect them to take the story as it is an Alternate History story with Sci-Fi elements.  The story has caught the eye of several “slush” readers and been passed up to market editors (at least three separate times), but in each case, the editors decided to pass on it.  However, it was the only story that I haven’t sent them that I’ve worked on recently.  All of the other stories, HawkeMoon, Silence Will Fall, and Here Be Monsters, among others, they didn’t really like (although they did suggest changes to HawkeMoon and asked for a resubmission of it, but I chose not to do that because I felt the changes would have impacted the story that I was trying to tell.  Perhaps that was wrong, but I really try to follow a “hero’s journey” for my stories, but I remember that the changes would have impacted this journey negatively.  Unfortunately, Cosmic Roots and Landscapes allows you to “clear” you feedback and once its gone, its gone.

Compelling Science Fiction

The next major market that I’m writing for currently is a smaller market that’s been closed for the past year (maybe longer) and its called Compelling Science Fiction.  They are actually opening again from October 1st – December 1st (at least, that’s what the email said when I signed up for email notices of their next opening date).  I’m currently working on the Independent and that’s the story that I intend to submit there first.  I’m going to have to do a 3rd draft of the story–I’m concentrating on character for this pass, but I”m already over 1,000 words in and I’ve not yet even hit the inciting incident (which should probably happen in the first 500 words).  So this draft will be the longest draft and the 3rd draft will be me finding places to cut the story down and adding in a little more setting/description (not a lot, but I feel that it is a little bare bones at the moment).

Rotating Projects

The reason why I’m not finishing projects as fast as I was over the summer is that I’m trying out rotating my projects.  I’m working on 3 projects at the moment: Ship of Shadows Graphic NovelThe Independent (2nd Draft), and Project Star (Rough Draft).  Once I finish one of these, I’ll move onto another.  This ensures that I’m never bored and the projects never grow stale, but it also means that it takes much longer for me to actually “finish” a project.  Still, this seems to be working and a lesson that I’m constantly having to re-learn is “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Well, that’s all for now/  Have a great day!

Sidney




  • Current Work-in-Progress: The Independent (Sci-Fi Short-Story – 2nd Draft)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Project Star (Sci-Fi Short-Story -1st Draft)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows (Sci-Fi Graphic Novel – Script, Issue #1, Currently on Script Page 28)

 

 

Writing To Learn

So, I’m still learning how to be a good writer AND a good blogger.  I’m not afraid to admit it.  And part of this is admitting that I still make mistakes.  The blog is a great example of that.  It’s not that I haven’t wanted to write it, but rather that the time it takes has overwhelmed the time I had to give it and I did not make allowances for it.  What do I mean by this?  Simple.  I used to get up early and write and blog entry.  However, I found that untenable because it routinely takes an hour to 1 1/2 hours to write an entry because I’m so meticulous.  To me, a blog isn’t a way of expressing your thoughts, but rather it is more of a mini-essay that I craft.  Sometimes these mini-essays go quick, but more often than not, I’m at 500, 750, and 1000 words before I realize it and then I have to cut it short because I’ve run out of time.  When I’m already pressed for time in the mornings, this created some real stress.

Solutions

So, I came up with a way around this by trying to do them all on the weekends.  This way, I get all my entries done for the week and I wouldn’t be so stressed about having to rush to get them done.  That worked, except it ate up the time that I needed for other things such as reading, gaming, and “life” outside of school and work. So, it became harder and harder to get it done during the weekends.  Now, however, I’m trying to simply work in the spare time that I have (which during August was pretty much nil).  I should be reading for class, but I’m going to finish this post and “bank” it so that it shows up on Monday and pretty much do this everyday (or at least 6 days out of the week) so that I can pretty much have content going up daily without all the stress of trying to get it done on the same day.

Short and Sweet

I’m also going to work on shortening the posts and try to keep them in the 250-500 word range by having (like a story) a beginning, middle, and end (or for you non-fiction buffs out there), an Introduction, a Body, and a Conclusion (which is what you’re reading right now).  While I may not be able to go into as much depth and detail as I (personally) would like, it will still help me to get back into writing consistently and ordering my thoughts in a way that will be helpful to get me back to writing creatively which is something I’ve also struggled with during the past month.  Mistakes happen–it’s how you deal with those mistakes and how you get back on the horse after the mistake has been made that helps to define you. I’m hopeful that readers who have stuck with me during this past month will find new and varied content in the coming months to end out the year.

Have a great day!

Word Count: 226 Words (Graphic Novel – Ship of Shadows) — added 1 comic book page to the story for a current total of 24 pages of script.

Sidney


Gamification of Writing

gamify-your-writing_slideshare

Word Count (What I’m Writing); Updated Daily (mostly)

  • Project Independence Word Count: @4000 words (+203 words)
  • Project Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel Page Count: 12

Goal = 167 words (5000 words by July 1).
Actual = Rebounded after a day with no words and was able to hit Scrivener’s goal of 167 words, but fell a bit short of my own 250 word (personal) goal.   203 words written last night. 

Currently Reading (What I’m Reading); Updated Daily (mostly)

  • For Fun:
    Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson (Fantasy Novel, Stormlight Archive Book 3) (somewhere in 850s in terms of page count–more than ¾th of the way through.  Will post a non-spoiler mini-review when I finish.
  • For School:
    Ancient Rhetorics, Digital Networks: A book that combines New Media (digital rhetorics) and combines them with ideas and theories of the Ancient Rhetorics.
    Lingua Fractal: A Rhetoric book that details the convergence of Rhetoric and Technology and how they interact in today’s world.
  • For Research/Personal Development:
    Great Aircraft of WWII by Alfred Price and Mike Spick (for Project Skye)

Reading two or three chapters in Oathbringer every day.  I really shouldn’t be, but it is so good, that I generally read it while eating dinner (and then I go back out to the library to do reading for school).   Great Aircraft of WWII is a book that I’ve had in my collection for sometime–I’ve glanced at it periodically, but never read it cover-to-cover.  Now, with Project Skye, I intend to do just that.

Game Mode On (What I’m Playing); Updated Weekly (Mondays)

  • Moving Game Mode On to its own (Mostly) Weekly Post

Making a Game Out of Writing

I should have done this long ago.  Actually, I did do this long ago, but I set my goals to high and couldn’t reach them, so I gave them up.  What am I talking about?  Well, along with the change in the way that I write blogs, see A Peek Behind the Curtain for more information, I’ve also begun writing using the word count feature in Scrivener to help me “visualize” my way to success.  Like I said before, I’ve used it before, but I set my word count at unrealistically high levels (1000 words and 1500 words) and I could rarely hit my goals.  In general, based on what I seem to do in these blogs posts or when I have unlimited amounts of time to devote to a writing session, I seem to average about 600 words.  Generally speaking, it takes me about an hour to write 600 words, so I average (on general) 10 words a minute when creating a new work (I type at about 35-40 words a minute, but when doing creative writing, there’s a lot of time when I’m searching for the right word/right way to describe something).  However, now that I’m working on “filling up” a progress bar, writing doesn’t seem as much of a chore than it has in the past and I look forward to seeing if I can move the bar some more.

The Progress Bar

Scrivener’s Progress Bar feeds my own particular “OCD” meter.  I love seeing things get completed.  I get a satisfaction from seeing something going from empty to full (like a full tank of gas, or vice versa, like a dirty floor, messy floor becoming clean and empty).  A slight digression: this is why I was so great at sorting donated books when I was an employee of the Chattanooga Public Library.  I loved the feeling of wrangling the messy space of the donation area and making it clean and presentable.  The same is true for my writing.  I looked for sites that would give me what Scrivener did, a progress bar that kept track of my writing, but couldn’t find but a handful and they did not work the way I wanted them to, so I’ve gone back to Scrivener and I’ve used the Progress Bar to keep track of my words.  The Progress Bar feature lets you track words, pages, or # of words needed to hit a specific goal.  This latter choice is the way that I have it currently set.  I’m trying to reach 5000 words for Project Independence by July 1st.  Based on where I am in the story, I’m not sure that I’ll be finished, but that’s my goal.  Scrivener tells me that I just need to write 160ish words to hit it.  My bare minimum is that, but I try to go over if I can.  I count it a double success on those days when I go over and hit the 250 word goal as well.  I need to start buying myself a treat and rewarding myself on the days when that happens.

600 Word Writer

Now that I know that 600 hundred words (or an hour of writing) is my own personal sweet spot, I’m going to try to slowly increase my word count over the next years to see if I can get there per day.  Right now, I’m not going to try.  I really want to 1) habitualize my writing and really lock it in as a habit (too often, I let fatigue interfere with the process and 2) get some successes under my belt.  I’ve gone too long without a publication or even a finished project that I feel proud of submitting without reservations.  So, for now, 250 words remains my (attainable) goal.  Like a weight lifter, I need to be completely comfortable with the “weights” (word count) before moving up to the next tier.

Well, that’s it for today and WordPress is telling me that this post is 695 words long.  See, I’m in my comfort zone.  I may have to learn to stretch it, but for now, I need to learn how to make it a habit.  Have a good one!

Sidney




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Back to the Future (No, Not the Movie, My Writing Projects)

Future

Writing the Future: All For Nothing.  Image Source: YouTube

  • Project Paradise Word Count: 357
  • Project Skye Word Count: 1617
  • Project Independence Word Count: 2357 (+634 words)
  • Project Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel Page Count: 12

I’m back to writing again–I’m working primarily on Project Independence now that I have a complete idea of the story in my head.  I shattered my 250 word writing goal for today, but in doing so, didn’t have a whole lot of time left to craft this blog entry before my Writing Center shift begins.  

So, I’m Back to Writing

This one is a shorter blog as I have to be in the Writing Center in about 45 minutes.  Basically, I just wanted to let everyone know that I’m back to writing, specifically Project Independence.  While yesterday’s blog was a way to help me discover what time is optimal for me as a writer, today’s blog is to emphasize that sometimes you have to write at sub-optimal times.  Yesterday, I tried to write in the afternoon, but I ran out of time because I was reading outside and I didn’t have access to a wifi-enabled computer.  I would have had to go back inside into the air-conditioning which I had been in all morning and lunchtime, so I just enjoyed the sunlight outside reading.  Today, I just got up early and wrote before my shift in the Writing Center begins.

Writing Future Slang

So, one of the things that I’m really interested in is communication between the various characters.  While I want to tell a very cool and interesting story, I also want to emphasize how communication can help (or hinder) the characters in the story.  Today, for instance, I tried my hand at creating slang for a different planet.  I’m not sure how effective it is at this stage of the draft, but I really like the challenge of taking today’s slang and trying to extrapolate how it might work in the future.

Sorry this blog is so short–consider this a maxi-update for Project Independence.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to craft a longer blog entry tomorrow.  Right now, I’m just excited that I’m actually back to writing the story.

Have a great day!

Sidney




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I earn a small commission on the purchase of these items.

Changing Paradigms

good afternoon

Good Afternoon written on a notebook beside a laptop.  Image Source: Depositphotos

  • Project Paradise Word Count: 357
  • Project Skye Word Count: 1617
  • Project Independence Word Count: 1723 
  • Project Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel Page Count: 12

So, again, no new writing done (boo!).  Read on to find out why.

Adjusting to a New Schedule

So, astute readers will notice that the Word Count section of the blog that I recently added has not changed in a couple of days.  There’s are reason for that–while Summer “Classes” have not officially started, my summer “responsibilities” for my Financial Aid started on Monday, the 21st.  I’m now working in the University Writing Center as a Writing Consultant over the summer.  This means my writing time has been severely restricted in terms of time to write.

Optimal Writing Time

Dr. Renfroe, in the very first class I took from her here at MTSU, encouraged us  (grad students) to experiment with writing times to find what worked for us so as to write consistently and regularly.  She advised us that, as students who would be writing theses and dissertations, this was the best and most consistent way to be able to craft these longer works with as little frustration as possible.  Later on, after reading Jesmyn Ward’s Interview on NPR (Persist.  Read, Write, and Improve), I realized that I really needed to produce 250 words a day and to find the time when I was at my best in terms of a writing time.

Early to Mid Afternoon

So, in this past year and half, I’ve discovered that I’m best as a writer during the early to mid-afternoon period.  Some time after lunch, but sometime before, say five o’clock.  Early morning writing (except for maybe the blog) doesn’t really work (for me) as I’m not usually awake enough to consistently put words on the page, even though I’m a fairly early riser.  Late night doesn’t work because my body and mind usually go into “shut down” mode and any energy/excitement for the piece is overcome by mental exhaustion from the day.  No, my preferred writing time is early to mid-afternoon.  My brain is awake and alert, but not tired and mentally exhausted.

This week, I’ll have a couple of hours in that optimal time, but next week, I’ll only have one hour.  Now that I know this, I’m going to have learn to be a little quicker in adapting myself to the changing paradigms that I find myself in to protect as much of that precious “golden time” in the early/mid-afternoons as possible based on the circumstances.

It is true: knowledge is power.  Have a good day!

Sidney




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I earn a small commission on the purchase of these items.