The Clash at the 23rd Mile

and the winner isMarathon runners hit a wall of physical failure near the end of the race. The will may be strong, but the human body has limits, and one of them arises at about 23 miles of constant forward movement. Issues with glucose and other chemicals I don’t know the names of shut the legs off, make the arms refuse, turn the trunk to oatmeal.

I don’t know if it’s that my allergies are especially bad (curse you, California plant life!) or the broader concept of approaching the senior discount at the movie theater, but I’m tired. We have 2,152 miles to get home, and I’m tired. Today we drive from Newport Beach to Surprise, Arizona. Not a bad day for us. Six hours door to door. We’ve done 16 at times. But I’m tired. I’d stay right here except that I’m 2,152 miles from home. I keep hearing The Clash doing Should I Stay or Should I Go? except the answer is obvious.

Nearing the end. That’s one of the times Resistance is strongest. … more … “The Clash at the 23rd Mile”

Resistance vs Reality vs Reasonableness

is it about the work or is it about the wrench thrown into it?Homeless, wandering the desert, the intrepid writer of Chandleresque cozies inched toward the final chapter of his book.

There he’d been, plugging away, over 4,000 words a day, when the house he lived in was sold, with circumstances forcing his family to move out and plan for a month-long “workation” in only 5 days.

They did it, and drove south.

It was warmer than he likes in Phoenix.

He picked up a cold in Santa Barbara.

He’s generally been busy enough, disrupted enough, tired enough to stop writing for a while. Wouldn’t be entirely unreasonable, right?

One of the places Resistance shows up is at the end of a project. … more … “Resistance vs Reality vs Reasonableness”

How Long Does It Take to Write 1,000 Words?

time . . . creeps . . . slowly . . . alongThis week, for me, the answer is either 28 minutes, or 5 hours.

Earlier in the week I challenged myself to write 1,000 words as fast as I could type on each of my two mysteries. No pauses, no editing, don’t even think too much. Just type like mad.

I averaged 40wpm on each of them. Less than 30 minutes each to add another 1,000 words. While I only commit to 15 minutes of writing each day, I have a target of 1,000 words per novel.

One hour to do all the writing I needed to do for the day. Not bad.

Yesterday didn’t go so well.

… more … “How Long Does It Take to Write 1,000 Words?”

Stop Stopping Yourself with Premature Edits (Guest Post by Rosanne Bane)

Please welcome Rosanne Bane, author and writing coach and one smart cookie. Since I’m not here to beat this drum she’s gonna do it for me.

Trying to edit while drafting is like trying to polish your shoes while walking. Actually, it’s more like trying to polish your shoes while trailblazing over rough and unmapped territory. It takes longer to get where you’re going, you can’t possibly get a good shine and you’re almost guaranteed to lose your balance and fall.

photo http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1110158 by Michal Zacharzewski http://www.sxc.hu/profile/mzacha

“Short Cuts Make Long Delays” – J.R. Tolkien

Your brain stem and limbic system can do more than one thing at a time, which is why you can walk and chew gum and still notice cars in the crosswalk. But your cortex, your creative brain, simply cannot multitask.

… more … “Stop Stopping Yourself with Premature Edits (Guest Post by Rosanne Bane)”

Why You Need a $2 Wooden Pencil

Palomino Blackwing 602.

Can you imagine a pencil so glorious it has a first, middle, and last name? For $2 each, I guess they should.

To put that price into perspective, for those of you who think hey that’s half as much as a cup of coffee, the dozen yellow Dixon Ticonderoga pencils you shoved into your kid’s backpack at the start of the school year cost fourteen cents each. That dozen cost less than a single Blackwing 602.

But read the reviews.

… more … “Why You Need a $2 Wooden Pencil”

How Do I Know if I’m a Real Writer or Not?

?In another of my newsletter signup welcome email conversations, Michael asked,

As an old guy, my only real question about publishing in general is: am I considered to be a writer, for real, if I’m not published by a traditional publisher?

By you, or by traditional publishers, or by your readers, or by your family, or by other self-published authors?

You might guess that some folks will look down on you, and some won’t.

I think the answer that matters is what it feels like to you.

I’ve self-published 10 books. Anyone who thinks I’m not an author, a real writer, can take a flying leap. I know what I am.

You probably do, too.

You don’t need anyone’s permission to be who you are and do what you do.

Get Your Book Out of the Someday Box in 2014 By Taking This Class

Get Your Book Out of the Someday Box in 2014You’ve always dreamed of writing a novel and you still haven’t done it.

It’s time.

I know the 2 things that are stopping you. My new class, Get Your Book Out of the Someday Box in 2014, sweeps them away.

Your novel will be finished by the end of 2014. No gimmicks, no shortcuts, no nonsense.

Go read the details.

Please note that the class is limited to 12 and that sign ups absolutely, positively close midnight, December 15, 2013.

Pre-Writing (#4 of 6 Tools to Write)

#4 in a series of 6

Another mistake we make is to assume that what flows from our pen must be finished product. Logically, we know this makes no sense. There’s always a bit of re-writing before the proofreading and editing. We would never expect others to deliver perfection without practice.

photo of picture frame http://www.sxc.hu/photo/636590 by Oliver Gruener http://www.sxc.hu/profile/PlusverdeWhether it’s the next chapter in your novel or a page of marketing copy for your website, it can help to sit down and intentionally scribble the ugliest, roughest draft you can imagine. Make it your plan to write something so simple, so messy, so basic, so ugly, that you can’t possibly use it. This is just a note to yourself about what you’re planning to think about considering writing.

This is much like the trick I use to get myself to do household chores. If a picture needs hanging, next time I see the hammer I lay it on the floor where the picture is to be hung. Then when I run across the box of nails, I set that in place. If the picture needs a hanger attached to it, that goes in the pile as well. Eventually I walk past, look at this instant picture hanging kit sitting on the floor, and realize that it will take almost no effort to finish the task. It gets done.

The hardest part about writing is writing. Not the polishing, the formatting, the editing. Just starting. Just putting down the few words that say what we really mean.

Pre-writing is a way to start ugly and simple and just get something down on paper.

Once the task is started, sometimes the compulsion to continue is overwhelming.

That’s okay too.

Continued tomorrow.

Timer (#3 of 6 Tools to Write)

#3 in a series of 6

photo http://www.sxc.hu/photo/429177 by scott craig http://www.cancerbox.com/Being passionate souls, writers have a tendency to over promise, over commit and just plain try too hard.

When facing a challenging task, it’s human nature to try to swallow the elephant in one gulp. Every “getting things done” specialist in the world tells us that’s wrong — and yet we persist. If you want a jump start on eating the elephant, start with one tiny bite.

If you’re 12 years behind on your book, it’s easy to assume that it will take four hours a day for the next 10 years to catch up. And what happens is you spend four hours a day worrying about writing and zero hours a day doing it. If you missed yesterday’s post on habits and rituals, go back and read it. Then we’ll talk about why a 5-minute timer is such a great habit-building tool.

This all-or-nothing perspective makes habit-building a real challenge. … more … “Timer (#3 of 6 Tools to Write)”

How My Mom’s Kitchen Advice is Hindering Your Writing

photo http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1416846 by Suzanne T http://www.sxc.hu/profile/jaroasInvariably, during every cooking show my mom watches she tells the professional on the screen you shouldn’t crack the eggs right into the dish you’re preparing; what if one of the eggs is bad? You just ruined the whole thing!

Oh, and when you’re done washing the dishes and wiping the table, rinse the dish cloth in cold water. Prevents germs from growing so it doesn’t start to stink.

My mom grew up in a home and a time when eggs could be dodgy and when laundry was done weekly, not daily (or more.)

Those TV chefs? They probably use hand-selected organic custom eggs from their private stock.

The dishcloth? Own 7. Wash in bleach. No smell.

Here are some writing questions I see all the time:

… more … “How My Mom’s Kitchen Advice is Hindering Your Writing”