Archive for August, 2009

What Is Up?

August 21, 2009 1 comment

Well, here’s my Friday blog post. But today it won’t be about writing or anything like that.

No, today is to announce that last Sunday our baby boy came into the world! For the sake of privacy, I will call him The Boy. He is cute as a button…no, make that cute as two buttons.  Both Princess and The Boy are doing well and we are all readjusting to our new roles in life.

If I miss next Friday’s post, it is because I am trying to teach the The Boy some basic chemistry or physics.


Categories: meta

Finished reading Marseguro!

August 14, 2009 1 comment

Well, I just finished reading Marseguro, by Edward Willett. Thanks, Edward, for sending me a copy!

What this means now is two things:

  1. I get to move on to the sequel Terra Insegura.
  2. I owe Edward a book review for Marseguro. It was a super read! (That wasn’t the review, by the way.) It’s coming soon, hopefully next week. As I’ve already suggested, I plan on posting two reviews for every book I read, one from the reader’s viewpoint and one from the writer’s.

TTFN & keep cranking!

Categories: reading

Need motivation? Challenge yourself!

August 14, 2009 1 comment

There’s a book inside you. You know it. You can see it when you close your eyes. The characters are familiar friends. The world they live in is old and well-visualized. There is only one thing keeping you from bringing it outside: You.

What is your roadblock? Often times it’s only the perception of a roadblock that keeps you from starting or completing your project. If your complaint is “there isn’t enough time,” “my family keeps me busy,” or “I can’t see past a certain point in the story, I’m blocked,” then rest assured that those are the worst excuses ever devised; they are not even clever enough for a writer to have come up with. But, if you find yourself buying into these anti-productivity slogans, then perhaps what you need is a little self-competition.

Competition can be very good for a writer. Think about it: if you are getting paid to write an article for a magazine, your competitor is either another writer or your deadline. Nothing changes when you are writing for your own pleasure, or if you are banging away at your first novel in the hopes of getting it published. It’s just that your competition is ‘softer’ in a way. Your competition is YOU.

You’re not just one runner in a marathon. You are two runners: the pace runner and the runner trying to keep pace. If your pace runner isn’t doing his job, there is no goal to shoot for. You can just stop whenever you want and chat with an onlooker. On the other hand, if your pacer (that part of you egging you on) is ahead of you shouting encouragement and taunts, well, there is nothing you can’t accomplish. Are you a worthy competitor?

If you need to set a pace that will stretch your abilities, consider one of several ‘self-competitions’ that will challenge you by challenging yourself.

  • NaNoWriMo: National Novel Writing Month is the grand master of writing self-contests. The idea is to write a 50,000 rough draft of a novel from whole cloth in the month of November. Creator Chris Baty has built quite a website that administrates the contest, where you can log in your progress through the week and talk in forums with others who have accepted the same challenge. I completed NaNoWriMo in 2007 with a manuscript that was around 50,010 words. Yay me! What a rush that was. Now, to edit it into something that doesn’t resemble sad mush. I’ll be posting about this later. I have ideas!
  • JulNoWriMo: Not to be outdone by November, July has its own contest. Though newer and not as fancy, its participants are on the rise. Too bad we just missed it! Keep it in mind for 2010.
  • 10K Day: Milli Thornton at the Fear of Writing hosted the first 10K Day in June, and it was such a hit that she decided to make it a regular thing, and even to add a second day (a Saturday) to the monthly challenge. Check out her site, which has just moved over to WordPress and so has a little construction dust right now.  This is a good site for a little jolt of inspiration to get you back to writing.
  • The 500 Words-a-Day Challenge: Debbie Ohi at Inkygirl has put out a daily challenge of writing 500 words a day or 1000 words a day. If these word counts seem small then keep in mind that a single Lego seems small, but with enough of them you can build a rocket ship or landspeeder or castle. Or TARDIS! It certainly helps that Debbie offers cool Yay Me! badges. That’s reward enough.

There are other self-challenge sites out there which you’ll find with a quick browse. Some of them require an entry fee. All of them challenge you to challenge yourself.

Let me know: which challenges have you accepted? And whether you completed the challenge or not, how did it help you with your writing? Feel free to post your answer in the comments below.

Categories: article, productivity, writing

A little change in schedule…

August 7, 2009 2 comments

…or rather, a little owning up and making it official! All my millions of followers here at Cranking Plot have no doubt noticed but been too kind to make a fuss about it. But, I have not been posting as regularly as I have wanted. Or, more to the point, I haven’t been posting as regularly as I said I would. The current rigors of getting the house ready for baby have left me with little or no time of my own where I can write blog posts. I even have to whittle little bits of time out for writing fiction.

This both bothers me and it doesn’t. Obviously my wife and I are approaching a paradigm-shifting life event that will mean a lot of work in the near future. We are in awe of our coming responsibilities and eagerly awaiting the baby’s birth. So, it feels right to focus on all the preparation. But I realize that any writing carreer I am to have has hit a slow period that will continue until we get over the learning curve that is fast approaching.

This manifests itself in a slow blog. Please be patient with me. I will get back into a more productive routine relatively soon. In the past I said I would post 3 times a week: Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday. At this time I will only commit to once a week, most likely on Fridays. If I don’t keep up with that you have permission to hurt my feelings.

So, I’ll keep cranking family AND cranking plot. You keep cranking, too.

Categories: meta

More permission to write horribly

August 3, 2009 3 comments

Just a quick jot to link to this awesome article about fear in writing: I’ve done it, probably you’ve done it. Stared at the screen or page wondering what is going to go there. It’s your internal editor heading you off at the pass, saying “You don’t have anything brilliant to write. Just don’t bother!”

Well, we have to fight that feeling. For every excuse, there is an equal and opposite excuse-killer. Our job is finding it.

Michelle Russell at Copyblogger lists 5 reasons why we should throw caution to the wind and write the Most Horrible Blog Post (or story, for that matter) Ever:

  1. It’ll Give You Courage
  2. You’ll Fail Faster
  3. Happy Accidents Happen
  4. Nobody Likes Perfect People
  5. People Need You

Go check Michelle’s article out. Now I have to go write badly horribly. Keep cranking!

Categories: article, othersites, writing