Novelist, Do You Use Visuals?

I am huge fan of Sherlock Holmes. I love his wild genius and untamed spirit combined with the relentlessness he uses to solve a case. Now, I understand this is fiction, but those abilities are quite attractive to the would-be novelist.

Though I don’t have these super powers, I can incorporate some of his tricks to my writing life, and so can you.

One such practice that has assisted my progress lately is having a white board where my I can take in my tasks, ideas, and notes at a glance. I can keep track of my tasks of the week and erase them when I am done, which is tremendously rewarding and gives me a hunger to attack another. I am able to pause after a furious fit of writing to check on the direction of my current chapter to make sure it is on target.

This does not have to be an expensive endeavor, my wife surprised me with the cardboardesque wipe boards (because she is awesome) and some dry erase markers (more awesomeness) for about $10.00. Not bad.

So writer, do you use visuals? If so, please share below!

Cheers,

Bob

ROE And Why Writers Should Care About It

I don’t like acronyms. If you tell me you went to DRT to learn YUR, you might see my eyes glaze over and be given a polite excuse that my phone is ringing or my house is on fire.

Okay, I’m not that much of a jerk, but I don’t like acronyms for their exclusivity and lack of description.

So why am I talking about ROE? If you’ve read any books by James Scott Bell recently, you are probably clear on why, as a writer, keeping ROE in mind is important. If not, let me induct you into the group. Here’s the Kool Aid.

If you are in the business world you might be aware of its cousin – ROI – Return On Investment. How much you expect to get back for your efforts/investment. ROE – Return On Energy is just as important to the time-strapped novelist.

Time is our enemy. We scramble to cobble together three minutes to whittle a sentence or two and hope it doesn’t have a lot of adverbs. We must be intentional with all of our time and projects to ensure our efforts are productive and we get the proper ROE.

So how do you ensure you are getting the proper ROE? Good question.

I firmly believe in writing when you have the time, not meandering around Facebook/Pintrest or throwing together a writing playlist. You sit down and write on your novel/article/blog post. All of this screen time and usage of time is making sure you are getting the proper return on the energy spent. This means keeping your end goal in mind and working towards it.

Sometimes you must leave a bit of editing and move forward with your work or plotting your book for the eighth time, so you don’t veer off course like an errant firework. Maybe it’s simply taking time away from marketing and blogging and actually work on your next project.

Whatever this might mean for you writer, keep writing and keep aiming. Keep searching for the best Return On Energy.

See, I still can’t do acronyms.

Cheers,

Bob

Overnight Success or Steady Eddie?

I have three kids and for each of them I’ve written in a journal for the first year of their life. I talk about the world, what I hope for them, their birth story, about their family, what they did with their day and the joys and struggles of parenthood. I pause, just before turning off the lights, to write for ten minutes. It’s been my “blog post a day”, but for them. I bring this up because in three days, I’ll finish my son’s journal.DSCN8360

Often I struggle to find time to write, or at least the allotment that I think works best for me. I search for an hour or more when maybe I should be looking for a small collection of minutes, just like his journal. Over the past year, I’ve put about 60,000 words down without worrying about the time, struggling with not-writing, writer’s guilt, or being emotional about not getting something done.

It’s strange how effortless this was. Many times in my writing life I see the overnight success and grumble. I wonder how they got there. I sprint and burn out and if I’m honest I lose the taste for it at times. I suppose it’s not about the book or the sprint, but the next word and the slow plod. Perhaps I should take my time, write every day for fifteen minutes, instead of moaning about never having time for it.

What do you think writer? How do you get words down consistently?

Write today, even for a minute.

Cheers,

Bob

Jot IV – Mark Your Calendars

Originally posted on Josh Mosey | Writer:

pen_and_book

My writers group, The Weaklings, met recently to discuss the next Jot Writers Mini-Conference. I thought I’d tell you what we know so far.

Jot IV or Jot 4 (which one do you like better?) will take place on Friday, September 12th at Baker Book House in Grand Rapids, MI from 7pm – 11pm. The price, as it has always been, will be nothing. The value will be considerably more (hopefully).

At the moment, only a few of our speakers have been confirmed. We’ll have veteran Jot speaker and editor at Discovery House Publishers, Andrew Rogers, and we just signed on blogger and Houzz.com writer, Alison Hodgson. We have two more speakers that we’re still bullying into agreements, so stay tuned for those.

For past attendees, we’re excited to announce that Baker Book House has agreed to expand the stage area of the store to accommodate our…

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Do Bad Things To Those You Love

There are many reasons for writing a story. That thing that inspired you, the character(s) that would not shut up, that horrible tragedy you suffered, or a place you visited or book you read that required some sort of artistic response.

However you wound up here, you are beside me and all of the other fiction novelists wanting to bring your book to life.

When I first started writing, I discovered a few characters I really wanted to know. I wrote a draft of a book with them in it, and it was terrible. But, it was also a stepping stone up to a bigger world and some of the characters stayed with me. I want to write because of them and I want you to care about them.

The hard part about this is that I can’t just tell you about their day. I could describe their upbringing, dreams and nightmares, and where they live and the people they know in their world. But that would be stupid boring to you. They’ve lived in my head for a decade and I know them very well. If I mentioned them to you, you might be nice and say you care but you don’t. You don’t know them like I do and I get it.

This is going to hurt.

So, I have to do bad things to them. I have to put them in horrible situations and sometimes even kill some of them so you will care. I have to make you worry for their safety, wonder about the impact of a lie they told or a discovery that they have to hide from everyone or the world may end.

In the next book in my series I killed a character in the opening. The characters I created have already suffered enough in book one, but this one had to go. It just didn’t make sense for them to continue and they had to exist in the previous book. Now, they are gone. The hard part about this is that I loved them. I truly did. I had someone in my life just like them when I was fifteen.

Writing is fun. It’s a thrill to put together a story and even more so when people enjoy reading it. It is also hard because in the end, we may have to torture them.

How about you writer? Are you having a hard time hurting those imaginary people you love?

Cheers,

Bob

Stalling Is Not Writing

Yesterday was a good day. Great sales day at work, I mowed the lawn, played with my kids, gave them a bath, did all of the dishes, swept and mopped the floors, and had great conversations with my wife and a friend. I’ve also been deviously tricky and the person I’ve tricked is me.

I’ve been stalling.

All of these things are not fillers. These are things that matter to me for practical reasons (work, the upkeep of my house) and because I love them (my wife, kids, and friend). Earlier today I talked with my wife and we agreed that Monday is a writing night. I planned to write 500 words on my latest work in progress, two blogs, and finish a few writing related emails. Once we got the kids settled I was going to head to my desk around 8:30pm or so. It’s 10:30pm on Monday.

I don’t know about you but occasionally when I have scheduled time to write I find myself doing other things. It’s not because I do not love to put words down on the page, I do. It’s more because I want to be ready mentally. I want to have my mind in the right place to prepare a brilliant meal that agents and readers will devour and beg for seconds. At least this is what I tell myself from time to time.

Writing Fuel

Let’s Do This!

Sadly, this cannot be done while on TSN.ca/NHL. Strangely enough, this cannot be done on Facebook, Twitter, my gmail account or anything else internet related.

So today, if you are reading this and you are not done with your novel and this is scheduled writing time, I ask you to stop reading. Stop and get to work. Our stories must live and they cannot do so when we are thinking of the perfect words, messing with our playlists, or daydreaming about a wicked huge contract. It’s time to grab our lunch pail and hard hat and get to work.

Write 500 words today.

Cheers,

Bob

No Writer Can Make It Alone

I write alone. No one can write for me. That being said, there are countless people involved in my stories. These individuals read my drivel. They listen to me dream about being a writer and manage to do it without a smirk. They encourage me every step of the way and I would not have written a novel, help start a writer’s conference, published in journals newspapers and websites or started this blog without them.

Part of her birthday card to me.

One person in particular has sacrificed more than anyone else: my wife. This week was our nine year wedding anniversary. We’ve “dated” for over 11 years.  She didn’t marry someone who wanted to write. I developed the passion about six months afterward.

I write this blog to tell her, that I am so very thankful for her. I’m not always pleasant. I’m certainly not perfect, but she has always been there sacrificing time, correcting grammar, reading and suggesting. So, thank you baby. Thank you for being there. Thank you for not laughing or telling me I’m not good or that I should focus my efforts toward something more practical. In your quiet strength you help me move forward. I could not be here without you.

If you have some one or a group of people who help you in your writing be sure to use your gift of words to say thank you.

We forget that too much.

Cheers,

Bob