IWSG: Punching My Problems in the Face

May 2, 2018

Today’s post is part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, a blog hop where insecure writers like myself can share our worries and offer advice and encouragement.  Click here to find out more about IWSG and see a list of participating blogs.

Over the last few months of Insecure Writer’s Support Group posts, I’ve been telling you that I’m struggling with certain real life problems (without going into any specific personal details, of course, because this is still the Internet).

In January’s post, my muse came up with an interesting solution to this: use writing as an excuse to just not deal with real life stuff. And that worked, sort of, for a while.  But you know how real life problems are.  They don’t just wander off and bother somebody else when you ignore them. They nag you… and nag you.  And in turn, that makes writing harder.

After March’s post, I started doing better, thanks in large part to all the encouragement I got from IWSG members and all my regular readers. By April, I was starting to worry less about real life and more about writing, and for the first time since I’ve known her, my muse had something insightful to say about the business side of writing (and also art) rather than just about the craft of writing itself.

So now it’s the beginning of May.  I suppose I could tell you how I’m doing right now, how well writing is going, and how optimistic I feel.  But you know what?  I think I’ll just let this drawing speak for itself.

Not my finest work of art, I admit, but that may have been the most satisfying, most therapeutic drawing I’ve ever done.


IWSG: Dreams and Fairy Dust Won’t Pay the Bills… Or Will They?

April 4, 2018

Today’s post is part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, a blog hop where insecure writers like myself can share our worries and offer advice and encouragement.  Click here to find out more about IWSG and see a list of participating blogs.

As some of you already know, I’ve been going through some stuff.  It started back in December, and the real life problems have just kept coming ever since, one after the other.  It’s been truly unfair.

But I’m recovering, finally.  Those real life problems that have been plaguing me have been resolved, most of them for the better, a few for the worse, but at least they’re resolved and I’m able to move on.

The challenge now is that, during my times of trouble, I seem to have picked up a whole bunch of new writing insecurities, and a few old insecurities have resurfaced as well.  It’s not so much my writing process that I’m worried about but rather my ability to turn writing into a profitable and sustainable career.

Fortunately my muse, who came to my rescue in last month’s IWSG post, has returned to give me some sage advice.

So is my muse right?  I sure hope so.  I’m still dealing with a lot of anxiety, most of it financial in nature, because of the turmoil I just went through.  But I’ve promised my muse that I’ll set that aside, at least while I’m writing, and have faith that so long as I put my best into my stories everything else will somehow turn out okay.

P.S.: I want to mention, because a few people have been asking, that I really wanted to participate in the A to Z Challenge again this year.  I had a plan.  A really good plan. But given the circumstances, I think it’s best if I save it for next year.


IWSG: Why Muses Have Wings

March 7, 2018

If you don’t already know what a paracosm is, please check out my previous post about it. It’s a cool concept, especially for writers.

For today’s episode of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, I’ve decided to give you a glimpse into my own paracosmic world. I’ll admit, it’s not a happy place right now, but with the help of my muse it’s getting better.


IWSG: Have I Pushed My Writer Too Hard?

February 7, 2018

For this month’s episode of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, I’m going to turn the floor over to my muse. She has something to say, and perhaps it’s something your muse would like to hear.

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Over the last few months, I’ve had trouble getting my writer to be productive. Many of the juiciest story ideas I’ve brought him had to be put on hold because real life keeps getting in the way.

As I reported in my previous Insecure Muse’s Support Group post, I’ve had some success using writing as a distraction from those real world problems. Unfortunately it’s been sporadic success. Some days my writer would get thousands of words down on paper. Other days, I’d find him like this:

To be honest, I think a lot of the problems my writer is dealing with are less severe than he thinks they are, but the fear and the stress still feel real to him. Writing helps calm him down. There’s no doubt about that. But sometimes my writer is so emotionally drained that he just can’t write no matter how badly he needs to.

So I’d like to ask my fellow muses (writers, you can chime in too if you want): how do you know when to push your writer harder and when to let him or her take some time to recover?


IWSG: Real Life Problems

January 3, 2018

For this month’s episode of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, I… actually, I’ve been going through some things. I’m not quite prepared to talk about it yet. So instead, I’m going to turn the floor over to my muse. She has something to say, and perhaps it’s something your muse would like to hear.

* * *

My fellow muses, I think we all know how our writers can be. They live out there… out there in the real world, and sometimes they get caught up in their real life problems. They have chores to do. And jobs. They have to eat sometimes, and they get sleepy and pass out every night.

It’s hard for us, as ethereal beings living in the eternity of imaginary space, to tell when our writers really do need to deal with this “real life” stuff and when they’re just making excuses to skip writing. Personally, I’m really suspicious of this “job” thing. It takes up a lot of my writer’s time, and all he gets for it is something called “money.”

But recently, I had the opportunity to turn the tables on all those distractions out there in the real world. And I took that opportunity.

Now, rather than using his real life problems as an excuse to skip writing, my writer is using writing as an excuse to not deal with his real life problems! Everybody wins!

Okay, maybe I’m not too proud of myself for this one. But sometimes we muses need to be sneaky. We need to be manipulative. We need to do whatever it takes to coerce our writers into writing. And whatever else is going on in my writer’s life right now, at least he’s getting his writing done. As a muse, that’s really all I’m supposed to care about. Right?


IWSG: Setting Elon Musk-Style Goals

November 1, 2017

Today’s post is part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, a blog hop where insecure writers like myself can share our worries and offer advice and encouragement. Click here to find out more about IWSG and to see a list of participating blogs.

This is going to be another of those IWSG posts where I talk about space exploration, but really I’m talking about writing. Just bare with me. I think you’ll see why this is relevant, especially right now in the beginning of November.

If you’re a space enthusiast like me, you’ve had your heart broken many times over the years about Mars. NASA has made big promises about a Mars mission, but everything keeps getting postponed, and it sometimes seems unlikely NASA will ever follow through. A few years ago, a private group called Mars One made some really big promises, but it sounds like they really, really won’t be able to follow through.

And then there’s Elon Musk and his company, SpaceX. Musk has made a lot of promises about SpaceX, the Red Dragon spacecraft, and a Mars colony populated by hundreds of thousands of people. All of this is supposed to start happening in the next decade, maybe sooner. Or so Musk keeps telling us.

Musk does this with all of his grand endeavors, like Tesla, Open AI, and Solar City. Big promises are made. Ambitious deadlines are set. And then those deadlines are missed, and those promises are broken. It would seem that Musk is nothing more than a pipedreamer. A very wealthy pipedreamer, but still… just a pipedreamer.

Except while Musk’s publically stated goals rarely if ever seem to come to fruition, his companies still make tremendous progress; so much so that they continue to be attract investors even as they appear to be failing spectacularly at everything they set out to do.

I wasn’t sure what to make of this until a year or two ago when I read a short article about Musk. It may have been this article, or possibly this one (unfortunately I didn’t save the original link).

Apparently Elon Musk believes that it’s better to set your goals a little too high and just barely miss than to set your goals low so you can achieve them easily. One way pushes you to try harder, and even if you don’t succeed at the goal you set for yourself you still make progress—more progress than you would have made otherwise, perhaps more progress than you honestly thought was possible. The other way—the low, easy goals way—gives you permission to become stagnant and allows you to call that success.

I’m not much of a businessman. I don’t know if this is a good way to run a company, though it does seem to be working for Musk. But as I chase my own ambitious writing goals this month, and as some of you pursue the ambitious goals set by NaNoWriMo, maybe it’s worth keeping the Elon Musk philosophy of goal setting in mind.


IWSG: Unlearn What You Have Learned

October 4, 2017

Today’s post is part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, a blog hop where insecure writers like myself can share our worries and offer advice and encouragement. Click here to find out more about IWSG and to see a list of participating blogs.

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I own an imaginary spaceship. It’s a pretty useful thing for a science fiction writer to have. It allows me to travel all over the universe, visiting all the moons and planets and nebulae I want to write about. I’ve been to Titan, I’ve seen the alien megastructure at Tabby’s Star, and soon I’ll be going to Mars to look for Martians.

Turns out my imaginary spaceship can also take me to fictional planets, so today I’m visiting the planet Dagobah from the Star Wars universe and getting some surprisingly useful writing advice from Master Yoda.

Friends have told me this before. My muse has told me this, and so have fellow writers at all stages of their careers. Writing rules should really be called writing guidelines or writing suggestions, and some of them are really stupid suggestions too.

And yet many of these so-called rules have stuck with me, and I’ve had a tough time dislodging them from my brain. Right now, the “rule” I need to unlearn is this: when editing, cut down your word count by 15%. Or sometimes it’s stated as 10%, or 25%, or whatever. The point is cutting down your word count will make your story better.

This should really be called a writing exercise. It’s meant to teach you how to write tighter prose, and at some point I really needed to be taught that. But this simple writing exercise has transformed into an absolute rule, or a inviolable commandment, and it’s time for me to let it go.

So what writing rules have you had to unlearn?