Writer’s Diary: 10,000 hours

Sorry for the hiatus in diary posts. The past few weeks I’ve been working full time (YAY!) which is wonderful news for me, but adjusting to the extra hours of work each week has been difficult on my sleeping patterns. I am naturally a night owl, however, the early bird catches the money worms and I now wake up 3 hours earlier than I did when I was part time. The extra work hours haven’t meant that I don’t have time to write anymore, I still have a couple of hours allocated every day for writing. However, with the lack of quality sleep I have just not been able to write productively. When I used to write 1,000 words per hour, I have been struggling to produce 250 words per hour in my tiredness. I haven’t been meeting all of my writing goals and it has been suggested to me that I should cut back from this blog entirely and focus all my energies on other things in my life like my work. So I thought I would outline my arguments for why I write this blog and what it means for me.

It is a widely held belief that to become a master at anything one needs to sink 10,000 hours of time into practice. With a full time job one clocks up that amount of practice easily in seven years: coincidentally the time expected to complete a doctor of philosophy. There is also the phrase, once used to describe manhood, “jack of all trades, master of one,” and as therapy is my profession, I aspire to master being a therapist. To this end I practice my profession everyone day through my work, through reading, and research, but also through the articles I write and a book I have in the pipeline. However, while therapy work is a passion of mine, and it is my goal to be a master at therapy as a discipline, there are other things I would like to see myself accomplish in my life. Also, I would like to learn to be competent at many other things: baking, fixing cars, homesteading, home improvements, etc… Continue reading “Writer’s Diary: 10,000 hours”

Writer’s Diary: Planning

I almost never write down the plans to my stories. I often find myself getting frustrated with planning to the point that I just give up writing them down so instead I keep them in my head. Spacefall for example was entirely planned out from start to finish in my head. No plans for it were ever written down. The outlines for all ten parts were produced in my head. This is part of the reason there are a number of elements which I cut out of the story half-way through or didn’t put in at all: I just forgot about them. This also why it ended up taking much longer than I anticipated, I grossly underestimated how long it would take to get through certain events in the plot. There are, however, some advantages to not writing down my plans though: I often change my mind about a story and decide there’s a better approach to it and it is easier to put those changes in if I am not committed to a particular storyline yet.

This week though I sat down and planned the next six to eight installments of Thorns. This is because I have a lot a complicated things happening in Thorns at once and it is getting confusing for me to keep track of them all. Each character in Thorns has some pretty significant developments. This alone is difficult for me remember, but details like where each character has their particular thorns are becoming a struggle for me to recall easily. Added to this that I have journal entries from Elwin that take the reading frame of the story into the past. However, these next six to eight parts I have planned are going to finish setting the stage for the major events of the book. Which is proving itself to be longer than I had intended. So far I have just shy of 17,000 words of content for Thorns and the next 8,000 words is going to bring that to 25,000 at least. Continue reading “Writer’s Diary: Planning”

Writer’s Diary: Pacing

Last weekend I felt inspired. So inspired that I wrote 5,500 words in one day. It wasn’t even a day off, I had work and social engagements that day. Sometimes I am like that, and I just want to write. The problem with this is always the same: a period of mental exhaustion that lasts for days afterward. I can still work, but I just can’t write creatively for up to a week. This week I have not written much at all and the thought of writing has been nauseating because I feel so mentally drained. As such, I have fallen behind on my writing this week. I expect that tomorrow I will feel much better as I will get my Sunday morning sleep in. However, the importance of pacing my writing is once again presented to me. Self-discipline is the key to making the most out of whatever one does.

I used to get quite angry with myself when I wrote too much. Not in the healthy sense of “I should have paced myself, self compassion is the best approach” but rather in the unhealthy sense of “why am I so weak that I need to take several days rest after writing a lot?” These days I am far more accepting of myself and my limitations than I once was. However, this week I was reading up on differences in IQ. I was curious about what the difference between a person with an IQ of say 100 would be to a person with an IQ of 115. There was almost nothing available to answer this question. Heaps on how to measure IQ and to test the accuracy of the test, but scant detail on how to qualitatively differentiate people of various IQ ranges. Continue reading “Writer’s Diary: Pacing”

Writer’s Diary: Dialogue

This week’s theme was dialogue. I wrote 5,500+ words for my three stories this week and in each I worked on trying to create dramatic and captivating dialogue. I think I had varying degrees of success overall. I would like to have some more feedback for my writing, however, I have no idea how to promote my writing blog. While I have about 20+ followers I don’t know how many actually follow any of my stories. I have gotten many likes this week and that’s certainly encouraging, but it’s hard to translate likes into constructive feedback. If anyone has any advice on how to attract people who might be interested in reading my stories please let me know in a comment. For now I just want to reflect on the three sections of dialogue I wrote this week.

The first of these was The Monk and this contained the worst dialogue of the three in my opinion. Not for the content, indeed I have actually won some praise for the content, and I am pleased with that myself. Rather what I was unhappy about with this dialogue was the simplicity of style, it was just questions and answers. It had the sophistication of a public school homework assignment. There was little passion in the dialogue, although I tried to put a feeling of solemnity in it to try and spice it up emotionally. What I would like to do in future Monk updates is have more arguments, debates, and emotive speeches. I don’t like the low energy nature of these dialogues. Continue reading “Writer’s Diary: Dialogue”

Writer’s Diary: Religious Sci-fi?

Readers of my story “The Monk” might have noticed recently that the story line has moved into the next phase of development. Key parts of the background for the story are being revealed. This is a bit of a new genre because most stories about religion tend to be about existing religions, while for this story I am inventing two entirely new religions that exist in opposition to each other. The clerics of the two faiths are battling with each other and soon there will be a war of words developing as the two faiths battle for the hearts, minds, and souls of the characters.

Fans of the Star Wars franchise will point out that the Jedi and the Sith reflect two opposing religions. However, in no part of the movie franchise do the Jedi and Sith battle out their differences in a debate or dialectical struggle. They just fight violently with each other immediately on contact. This battle of goodies and baddies was enough for me as a child, but as an adult I find myself disturbed by the mindlessness of their constant warfare. The imperial and the republican forces may well represent the globalist and nationalist political forces that have existed throughout human history, but because the movies never delve into depth about the ideology driving the two factions one cannot easily distinguish the two. Luke Skywalker never once shows any remorse for the people he murders throughout the series with the exception of his own father. We never learn about Luke’s thought process, and it’s bothered me whether or not he is actually a good person. Continue reading “Writer’s Diary: Religious Sci-fi?”

Writer’s Diary: Character Depth

Writing depth into a character is difficult. Creating a character who is flawed, complex, and deep is not an easy task. In my early books (15-20 years ago), all my characters were flawless. They were honest, strong, noble, and if they were villains then they were at least stoic villains. These superficial characters were the creation of a superficial writer. That is, the younger me hadn’t gained enough self-knowledge to be deep enough to create deep characters. Even to this day, I struggle with simple things like lying in fictional characters.

I am naturally an honest person. It was difficult for me to accept that other people lie. My villains used to be honest people, which doesn’t make any sense to me now because an honest villain can’t be evil. They must be dishonest in some way. When I was a young man, though, my world was turned upside down when I discovered something about myself: I actually did lie. I lied to myself by telling myself that my weaknesses weren’t really weaknesses, but unique virtues that only I had. For example: I am not manipulative, I am kind hearted by tricking people into doing what’s best for them, which is actually only what’s best for me. Continue reading “Writer’s Diary: Character Depth”

Writer’s Diary: Market Facing Author

The age of the Internet has done something to writing that hasn’t been the case ever before in history. In the past writers were extremely limited in their ability to reach an audience. If I had to use clay or stone tablets to reach my audiences then I would need to spend most of my time learning the art of making these tablets and only a fraction of my time on actual writing. Even with paper and the printing press it was still difficult to spread ideas. There have always been gatekeepers preventing writers from sharing their creativity and they’ve mostly been economic: the availability of clay was the gate keeper for the author of clay tables, the availability of parchment the gate keeper for the dark age author, and so on. When the printing press came along it was the publishing company that was the gate keeper. Do you want your writing published? Then it needs to find a publisher who will approve it for you first. With the internet though, this has all changed. For less than a day’s salary you can buy a domain name and publish your own work and it can potentially reach everyone who can read.

However, how am I to earn a living being an author? Patreon is exciting to me because in the past artists needed to either have plenty of money themselves or they needed to have a wealthy patron to fund their creativity. The idea that hundreds of people could each chip in a few dollars for me each month and that I might be able to actually make something of a living from my hobby is quite exciting. Of course, I haven’t actually made any money from this yet and probably won’t for a long time. However, nothing ventured, nothing gained as the saying goes. I enjoy writing and it is meaningful for me to share my work. Now that I have this site, and I’ve decided how I will run it, all I need focus on now is producing good quality writing. Writing that people will actually want to read. Writing that people will think, “it was worth my money supporting that guy!” So what can I do to be in control of this? How can I make this site a success now that I am a market facing writer, not a publisher facing writer, because the only gatekeeper left is the reader. Well, I have a few goals at the moment for improving my writing: Continue reading “Writer’s Diary: Market Facing Author”