Friday, March 6, 2020

Building a Writing Environment

One of the key tricks to building a daily writing habit is to build a productive work environment. If you have a place you want to go to write, it will allow you to build a better word count. A daily writing habit can mean the difference between a professional and wannabe writer. So here is a first step to getting towards the professional realm of writing.

Stimulating but not Cluttered

You want to build your writing environment in a way that inspires you. That may include inspirational quotes, Funko Pops from your favorite shows, posters, or any number of things. The point is to surround yourself with inspirational items. However, no one wants to work in a mess. That is why you must strike the balance between being cluttered and being inspirational. Sometimes the best way to strike this balance is to organize the inspiration. This may include a shelf that has nothing but figurines on it. Maybe your posters are in professional framing. Another idea is to keep certain areas of the work area clean. Even if you are mostly digital, and don't do a lot of paper, the psychology of a clean working space allows you to be more active. Again the trick is to balance inspiration and clutter.

Tools and Preparation

One of the easiest ways to have a wonderful writing environment is to be prepared. If you are prepared to write for the day, you are more likely to write. That means you have an outline that needs to be accomplished. If you don't use an outline in your writing, it may be helpful to describe the feeling or environment prior to writing. The idea is to not start cold. You want a warm start to your work and being prepared is the best way to do that. In addition, having the proper tools to work is important. If you live in a noisy household and have trouble concentrating, a pair of noise canceling earphones may be required. In addition, you want to have the right software to write. If you have the correct software and it is set up the way you understand, then that is something you don't have to think about when you produce words. Ultimately, your goal is to make writing as frictionless as possible. You want to reduce the amount of excuses you have.

The Comfort Zone

One of the best ways to build a writing environment is to be comfortable and be in the zone. This includes wearing comfortable clothing and having lighting that you prefer. Some people like to work in a darker place, while others love the sunlight pouring in. Whatever is most comfortable to you, try to achieve that. In addition, wearing comfortable clothing is also essential. You don't want to be picking at your clothing, or squinting, when you're trying to produce words. Finally, the tone of your book can be set by the tone in your ears. If you have music that fits your book, that may be a wonderful addition to your working environment. Or, if you like to listen to a certain type of music, such as classical or chill, then running that over your headphones / speakers may help produce a wonderful writing environment.

Building a writing environment is the first step to a daily writing habit. However, there is a point in which you can over-engineer your writing environment. If you are spending more time on the activities surrounding writing, and not actually writing, then it can be a detriment. You can change your environment in an iterative approach. That means you change your environment a little at a time to make it a better and better writing environment. After a number of years, it will be a wonderful place to work every single day.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

How to Find Time to Write

Lately I have been having difficulty finding time to write. I want to write, but there have simply been too many higher priorities. This had me wondering how I should find time to write. Here are three different ways to do just that.

Method number one: Edges

One of the best ways to find time to write is to look at the edges of your day. That means your morning or night. If you can wake up an hour early or go to bed an hour late; that will give you time to write. This will make a big difference in your writing. My suggestion is to look hard at your morning. It is better to wake up fresh and write then to be tired from your day job and write.

Method number two: Commute

Another great method to find time to write is to look at your commute. Sometimes you can take public transportation or carpool and write during that time. Another method would be to use a recorder device while driving, though that can be difficult especially if it becomes a distraction. Distraction free driving is the law.

Method number three: Cutting

Sometimes the best way to find time to write is to cut out things you don't need. For example, if you're spending a lot of time in the evening watching TV, it might be best to cut out the number of shows you watch. That will allow you to have time to write. Another method to cut out things is to delegate them. Many people have others hired to mow the lawn or clean the house. This time saved would allow someone to write. In addition, setting up meals in advance may help reduce the amount of time taken to make dinner. This time can be spent writing. Cutting down your daily chores, or daily habits, can lead to some wonderful writing time. Writing is fantastic because it doesn't take that much time to get some words on the page.

Finding time to write can be tricky. We all have day jobs, relationship obligations, chores to do, and we still need to find time for ourselves. That's a lot to do in everyday life. However, finding time needs to be important if you want to be a writer. Ultimately that's what being a writer is all about. You prioritize the act of writing over other things.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

The Three Pillars of a Daily Writing Structure

What we do without thinking, via habit, helps define most of our life. Some speculate that it is what our lives are built upon. We simply go from one ingrained procedure, like a computer, to the next. This is why writing every day is so important. Writing daily helps your thought structure and makes it much greater than you would normally would have access to. They call this better word structure a writing practice. This is the true power of writing every day. A writing structure can include three components. There may be more components than these, but these three are the ones I can think of easily.

Structure one: Goals
When you have writing goals, it helps alleviate a very common problem. That problem is what to write. By taking away that extra consideration, you spend less time preparing, and more time writing.

Structure two: Revision
My least favorite topic is editing. I hate it. I think I hate editing so much because I need to rely on software to help me with grammar. I also hate editing because I have to cut out material. My preference is to always use every word I've written. However your writing released needs to be the best words written. That is why editing is such a key component of a writing practice.

Structure three: Fun
Fun is a commonly overlooked area of a writing practice. Many writers focus on profits or on hitting a major goal. However, it is equally important to have fun while writing. This can include world building, listening to inspirational music, or simply work-shopping an idea with another person. Fun will drive you to write everyday and continue to expand on your craft.

These three structures are important to a writing practice. They are not the only three structures, they are simply the one I can think of right now. However they are important to consider when building your writing practice.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Building a New Writing Style

Lately I've been working on building a new writing style. It all started when I read about the snowflake method. In this idea, you take one part and expand it. For example, a character starts with a few lines, and turns into a paragraph, then a page. The idea is that you continually expand your story structure. In addition to all that snowflake method, I have also been reading about what kind of questions a person should ask when developing a story. All of these new ideas have me thinking about developing a new writing method. Here are three ways that I'm doing just that.

Method 1: Dictation

Right now I'm finding that writing is taking too much time. Writing is important to me, but I have my day job. Writing is important to me, but I still need to make sure to take out the trash. Writing is important to me, but I still need to make sure to spend time with family. There are all these different things getting in the way of writing. In order to get these done, I'm now trying dictation. Even this very article is being dictated. I'm hoping that this will speed up my writing.

Method 2: Asking Questions

In a recent interview with Patrick Rothfuss in the Writing Excuses podcast, he presented this question. He asked to question yourself on what you're writing; what you are trying to make the writer feel. In addition to that, he says that you should list out what the three objectives of a given chapter should be. He also lists that each scene, that's where someone enters her at this stage, should be noted with some other purpose. In addition to these questions, as mentioned above, there is the snowflake method. In addition, there are more questions I found in the Lazy DM Guide book. That book shows you how to run easy campaigns Dungeons & Dragons 5. I'm using these to help me build a writing structure that is easier to complete.

Method 3: Interweaving

An area I fail in is in adding descriptions into my stories. I am fairly light on the description, instead diving right in the action. However, when reading Brandon Sanderson books, I see how he shifts between each type of topic. He’s digging into description one moment, dialogue the next, and exposition the third. He continually shifts between these different modes, which makes the flow of the story much better. I'm doing my best to emulate that style.

These three methods are how I'm trying to modify my writing style. I don't know what's going to be successful, so I am aiming to practice as much again. I'm also turning to flash fiction prompts, to help me build this muscle. The more that I'm able to write successfully, the better. Ultimately I want to produce the best writing possible as quickly as possible. I want to be able to produce stories so quickly, that I don't have the surplus of ideas. The quicker these go out into the world, the faster I can improve my writing.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Five reasons why I love to write

There are many things to write, but never enough time to express them correctly. Today I will look into five reasons I love to write.

1. To become my own favorite author.

This reason is fairly direct. Anytime I find something cool that another author has done, I want to make it my own and better. The hope is that I can build writing that is amazing. It’s also amazing to think I could have my favorite author write as much as I desire.

2. To surprise and make someone happy; and to break away from their routine.

It’s easy to look at fantasy or fiction stories and assume they are a waste of time. It’s not like you gain marketable skills after each epic book series. Instead, writing allows us to relax in our day-to-day lives. We can unwind and let ourselves be entertained with the various stories. We don’t always need to gain something for it to be worthwhile.

3. To own things that will generate money far into the future.

I’ve always been attracted to the idea of automated work. I like things getting done, even when I am not around. The biggest draw to this line of thinking is fiscal. I love money just appearing, almost as if from magic. I know that all supposed passive incomes are not passive. However, I also know that a person can build a series of good that will help them leverage things in a new way.

4. To own fun, intellectual property and see that come to life.

It’s one thing to write silly stories and ideas down on paper. It is another to see those stories connect with people. Or to see other people take your work and put their own creative spin on it. I like having my own cool things to sell. Things that I would love to own, and build those into even better things. I think there is a certain amount of fun in that idea.

5. To give my mind a vacation in a strange land.

Finally, this is why I love writing. Writing can lead down some interesting rabbit holes and theories. By having a few moments to think, I allow my brain to chase these down and explore. I am no longer concentrating on my day-to-day survival. Instead, I am taking a break from that continuous burden and letting my brain play as it desires. I think this is one of the biggest reasons I love to write.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Using Nooks and Crannies of Time

I think one of the problems I’ve faced recently is my own ambition. It’s easy to desire the creation of many things, but it is more difficult to find the time to complete it all. The routines that help us keep the world spinning are not always in the same rotation towards our goals. This means that you need to sneak in creation wherever you can. That can be tricky as you may not be able to start quickly on your topics. That means that you’re “rev-up” time makes a lot of time slots non-workable.

If you keep refusing these time slots and are not able to get work done, then guilt can set in. Once that happens, you might start making compromises on your goals. The more you do that, the more you feel worse about yourself. This can continue downwards until you are extremely angry with yourself or you become depressed.

Here are some tricks I’ve found to help with this:
  1. Make some 0-Rev activities towards your goals
  2. Go through a quick “why” drill
  3. Meditate in a way that restores

The first trick, making 0-rev activities, is fairly simple. If you’re goal is to put down a certain amount of words every day, you might need some prompts or structure to do that. However, if you haven’t made those prompts, you’re going to pause and not want to write. (Or you’re going to need additional time to start) However, if you make ‘side writing habits’ that don’t require research or structure, you can quickly get into writing without a specific plan. This is a trick of ‘pantser’ writers, they just push everything into a direction and follow where ever it goes. If you can’t do that with your main stories, then just try writing some blogs (like I am doing now) or write on a platform like Hubpages or Medium. I am not saying these don’t require work, but getting a raw word count to play with later can be very helpful. Ultimately, you want to be able to launch into your goal as quickly as possible, no preparation needed. If you make activities designed this way, than you can fit in the activity into the nooks and crannies of your day.

The second trick, a quick “why” drill, is like a little kid asking you a bunch of questions. You take your goal and plan, then apply a why to it. Why does doing this activity solve the problem/achieve the goal? After you have your answer, ask why again. Why does hitting this goal solve the problem? You continue down several layers (often times people stop at 5 why layers). The purpose of this activity is simple. You want to find the most gain for the least amount of work. Once you’ve identified this, you can achieve your goals quicker, which means the nooks and crannies of your day go farther.

The final trick, meditating in a way that restores, is something fairly new to me. In the past, I’ve used meditation in a way to focus. I am focusing on going to sleep or focusing on my daily to-do list. However, there is a method to meditate towards restoration. If you’re brain is getting tired, recognize that and don’t try to fit in a complex activity. Instead, look to focus on what will bring your brain back into “the zone”. This can be completely off-task, but don’t get too zoomed into anything else. This is a meditation where you find a way to relax you’re overworked brain, but don’t let it completely check out. Once your brain is relaxed, then focus the meditation on a method to get it revved back up. Here is an example of how this works: You can start by listening to some of your favorite songs. Then start singing along with them. As you feel more relaxed, switch the station over to some more interesting music. That might cause the creative side of you to come out. Once that side is out, you can go back to building wonderful things.

Friday, January 3, 2020

Measure Twice, Cut Once on Resolutions

‘Measure twice, cut once’ is an adept expression for all of life.  New Years resolutions are easy to build for a lot of people, though more and more are turning away from the idea. I think it’s an interesting paradox myself. People try to fix their indulgences at the start of a year, promising this is going to be ‘their year’. They cut out coffee or desserts to get into better health. I am not above this practice, though I usually do the ‘cut out an indulgence’ at the start of lent.

What makes this interesting to me is that people don’t appear to take a holistic view of their entire life. Instead, they focus on the micro area that is bugging them. If they can just fix that one tiny area, they should be able to tackle all of it, right?

However, that one tiny area may not be the area with the most need for improvement. Furthermore, it might not yield the best results. For example, cutting out coffee may help reduce calories from cream/sugar… but what about those donuts you had for breakfast? What’s more, what kind of goals have worked in the past and why?

Looking to build new patterns in the new year must be based off past success. To me, it’s bizarre to start fresh without really looking at your past. This is what I want to show in this article. Having trend data can really help a person get a better grasp on goals.

For example, I’ve tracked the last 17 years of new years resolutions (since 2003) and can tell you the trends within the data. That allows me to build goals that are not only attainable, but inspiring. The goals are flexible enough to achieve, but have enough of an impact to have a drastic effect in my future going forward. To me, that’s ultimately what you want in a New Years resolution: attainable major change that inspires you. I don’t think a lot of people are willing to track it down to that level. That being said, I am glad I am willing to do this! I look forward to an amazing year of growth!

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