Boring Blog Post

by Tom Gauld via Twitter, love this guys work

 

I have to be honest; I don’t have much to talk about. Feeling a bit burnt out today. The good news is because I wrote a bunch today. In fact I finished a rough draft of a short story in two days. I would say my average word count per day is increasing steadily. Confidence is growing. About to level up…..OR GO SUPER!

All right that was incredibly nerdy and ridiculous. So lets just move on. Enjoy this super boring post. Most of which is my review for Bird by Bird, which I just finished. Going to dive into Stephen King’s On Writing next.


Review:  Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

 

Let me start by saying I really enjoyed this book and found myself ready to write after each session of reading. I enjoyed her style in the context this book but I would guess that it would be a bit stark in a novel for me.

 

She made me laugh and made some emotional connections to my psyche but not everything she does works. For example, I found her talking about growing up writing to be somewhat discouraging and to be quite unrelatable. Which I would imagine is the opposite of her intention. Sometimes I found her writing anxieties to be over the top and quite exaggerated. For me, being at all concerned about an avid reader knowing who you are is completely vain. Its possible that I misunderstood her concern in the context of that story but from how I read it, that’s how it sounded.

 

That being said, I completely appreciated her honesty and there were many times where I felt like she was writing for me specifically. Overall she is an incredibly talented writer and I can only hope that most of this book rubs off on me. Definitely recommend.

7 Reasons to Quit

If you have a blog and don’t make a numbered list of things, well, you don’t really blog do you? There are not many things that I’d consider myself fully qualified as an expert in, but quitting is pretty easy for me. So here is my expertly selected and distinguished 7 reasons to quit.  Also, these are numbered but only in the order in which they entered my thoughts. If you don’t agree with them, well that makes sense.

 

  1. It Makes You Miserable

You sit down at your desk, roll the deck back on your trusty old typewriter, put paper in the compartment thingy, and decide you’d rather hang yourself. Okay I don’t know how to work a typewriter but you get the gist. Getting some words out makes you want to kill yourself. Sounds like you hate it to me.

Now just to clarify, I am not talking about creative anxiety. Everyone who writes or arts or whatever feels uninspired, lethargic, and just not into it like they know they should. Get that doubt BS out of your head, that’s not the same thing as being miserable. Even if writing causes you great anxiety, most likely you will be miserable if you don’t do it. So do it, or don’t, depending on whether it makes you incredibly miserable, or uncomfortably anxious. This is your life now. I have given it back to you after secretly stealing it from you when you entered this blog-realm. Lucky you.

 

  1. You are So Poor You Can’t Even Afford the Materials

So I had always heard that JK Rowling, the author of Harry Potter, was so poor that she wrote sections of the Sorcerers Stone on napkins since she couldn’t afford paper. Unfortunately she dispelled this myth, but she did write the names of the Hogwarts Houses on the back of a sick bag. She was pretty damn poor regardless, and yet she still could get a notepad and pen.

So don’t give me that excuse unless you can’t even afford a ten-cent package of ramen noodles. If your occupation costs more money, go max out some credit cards or something. Or don’t and give up and quit. That’s the whole point of this blog post, to convince you to stop doing what you are doing, especially if you are a writer.

 

  1. You are Hitler

Pretty self-explanatory, if you are Hitler or just the writing avatar of him, then stop doing it immediately, also turn your self into the authorities. But seriously, it is so easy to take money for yourself and ignore the results of your actions, or make excuses. You know when you are doing something evil and no matter how much you deceive yourself with your good intentions, contributing to evil is the same as being it.

Also let the record show that Hitler was the worst and had the worst intentions. I feel it’s strange to have to make sure I fully reject every aspect of him upon his mention, but alas this is the Internet age.

 

  1. You Want To Be Mocked for Failing To Accomplish Anything

Way to just give up you imbecile.

 

  1. You are Not Me and Also a Writer

Widely regarded as the most important reason to quit. Clearly I am really good at writing and will never quit. Unless you want to be my editor or agent or something you should just get out of the writing game all together. Also I know where you live.

 

  1. There is a Bomb Strapped to You or Your Favorite Being and If You Write Another Word (or Whatever It Is You Do) It Will Go Off

I assume its probably strapped to your large love-able husky if not yourself. It would be a horrible waste to let such a dumb thing as your dreams end its joyous upbeat life. Just look into those beautiful glacier blue eyes and remember all the wonderful times you had together. That time Waldo pooped in your bed and rolled in it, spreading all across your recently cleaned apartment. Or that time he brought you that dead armadillo. He just stood there happily, wagging his tail like he had done so good, and dropped the rotting shell of the animal on your doormat. Poor Waldo, he will be missed, unless you stop writing right now.

 

  1. You’ve Found Yourself at the Bottom of this List and You Can Not Take Anymore and Want to End It All

 

 

Well that’s definitely all the reasons to quit writing or any other worthwhile activity. If you need anymore numbered headlines to tell you how the world works, maybe I’ll write an updated post eventually. Until then just use these fully researched points as a reference for your decision.

Impermanence

From “The Fade Out” written by Ed Brubacker with art by Sean Phillips

Most of things I write are total garbage. That’s okay; people seem to make good money writing total garbage, but still, I would prefer to write something halfway decent. In order to get there though, I have to remember that most of what I write will be a dumpster fire that requires sifting through smoldering words to find something I don’t hate. So just write away, write with no confidence in what you are doing because it’s so incredibly disposable and impermanent, the things that aren’t is what you will eventually leave yourself with.

Nothing is really final until its published or shared with the general public. Let things sit in purgatory for as long a period as you like. Craft those things till they are something either worthy of putting your name on or work that exemplify your incredibly flawed self. Nothing is worse than things that aren’t true. But its better to get those imperfect lies out of your head and onto paper so that you can get to the truth.

 

One of my favorite things in books, movies, or plays, or any storytelling venture is good dialogue. Writing dialogue is abysmally hard for me; it’s bizarre how difficult this is. Slogging through a conversation I am writing is painstakingly slow and I never feel remotely satisfied with what I have put down on paper. That being said, I continue to get through it in my first drafts, and often when I go back and read it I find some parts I don’t despise.

That’s another thing I have realized about writing, with time comes change. I will read back only a day after writing something and enjoy the part I hated writing, and lose interest in the writing I felt initially confident in. I have no Idea how to handle these revelations in my next draft but I definitely want to be able to rid myself of writing I enjoyed making that serves no purpose to the context of the story. Everything is one hundred percent disposable. That initial idea that started your story? Disposable. Your favorite character? Disposable. Your planet? Totally disposable. Make sure you keep some clean underwear though, that’s not disposable.


Here’s a great video of Kurt Vonnegut talking about short stories.  Watch every video of him you can find, he was a brilliant human being and writer.  Also read every word he wrote.  I’m still working on that one. 

Remember to Write a Title

Really want to keep this blog updated but it’s a bit too easy to get distracted or discouraged from it, which doesn’t make any sense since it’s mostly me reading it. Did get an uptick in visitors but I couldn’t for the life of me tell you why, also you is me so that doesn’t even make sense. Anyway, just ignore my nonsensical ranting or enjoy it, that’s really the only options. If anyone magically reads this and has any ideas or questions please feel free to post them. I know you at least have criticisms so tell me something.

Of course this is all hypothetical on the basis of you as a reader existing at all.   I wonder if there is a way to prove that or is this tree screaming in the woods kind of thing. If trees could scream that would just be terrifying. Imagine you are just walking in the woods minding your own selfish business when a rotten squirrel rips a pecan from a tree and the thing just yells in agony right into your ear. Or maybe they would just do it for fun to mess with hikers.

I’m getting off topic. Wait I don’t have a topic. I guess I could just spend more time talking about myself. Though really, I don’t want to hear it. I have a bit less than a year left in my twenties and other than marrying someone awesome and have a super cute kid I haven’t done anything with my life. Who the hell wants to hear about that depressing BS?

Really got to get myself onto a more positive and productive streak than I have. Past two days have been better. Was a bit sick and I got to say that totally brings down my productivity level and mental health. Another thing I need to keep doing is making sure I write on days that I work. It’s easy to get tired after a long day and just want to relax instead of pushing myself. But I don’t want to be that person. Lounging around watching TV isn’t going to get me where I want. Though the new Master of None season is out today so I got to make some time for that for sure.

 

Anyways, here are some more things getting my inspiration juices flowing:

 

Bird by Bird – Anne Lamont has presented a gem of a book for writers. She doesn’t shy away from telling it like it is while pouring out all her struggles to write. Though I didn’t grow up a writer like her, it’s easy to find some connection to her life and stories. Only a third the way through and I’d already recommend it.

 

Seven Days in May – Crafted by the master Rod Serling, better known for the Twilight Zone. This movie is a writer’s movie. It moves purely by dialogue, story, and perfect character acting. Kirk Douglass, Ava Gardner, and Burt Lancaster are the big names performing in this one. It feels disturbingly relevant to our current political climate though. So be warned. I highly recommend it.

 

Star Wars Minute – Ever wanted to listen to grown men talk about all the Star Wars movies minute by minute? Actually it’s a ton of fun and a bit eye opening. They also have a rather large arrangement of guest commentators that are mostly great. I listen to a lot of podcasts FYI.

Write Then Write Then Write

 

Via Francesco Francavilla

Writing is hard. Well writing isn’t that hard, just starting to write is hard. So far, it hasn’t become and easier to get going. Once I get going it usually tends to progress smoothly and mostly feel right, but getting there is like pulling teeth. It feels like some strange holy process that you have to be in the perfect mindset and setting to begin. This is completely false. Just write damn you! Seriously, get going; write tired, write hungry, write depressed, write distracted if possible. You need to write and you won’t feel right unless you do it. Not sure if anyone is getting this but this is what I have to tell myself everyday. I say this after having a good week and a half of struggling to write. I have already written more today than I did the past week, which is fine, we all have periods of doubt and struggle. Move on and do what you need to do. Work to get better but always remember that with every word, stroke of your pen, or even a brush you are artistically progressing.

It helps knowing that even professional, well-accomplished writers still have a hard time keeping themselves accountable. Learning to work through self-doubt is one of the hardest things about the creative mind. Just know this, you will be less happy doing nothing, than you will be doing just a little that takes every bit of effort. Just spending fifteen minutes writing is progress, but chances are that once you get started you won’t want to stop. But if you all you can do is write a wretched paragraph, don’t get discouraged, count it as a success. Every awful word you write or type is worth the time, it doesn’t have to seem like it at the time but trust me, you will feel better writing something you hate than writing nothing at all. So ignore that self-doubt BS and just write what you can.

I feel like this is incredibly repetitive but this is one of those things I need beaten into me more than anything. As someone who has had a hard time finding that one thing they know they are supposed to do, I need this to keep me going. And I am sure that many others need this kind of perspective, whether it’s writing, music, art, or just getting through school or a project. We need it beating into us to just take things one wobbly step at a time and that’s what I am doing. That’s what this blog is about. It’s about me, and anyone feeling the struggle of their calling to just keep at it. So lets do that and not forget that its not easy, it’s the hardest thing to do. Giving up is easy. So just go out there and keep failing until you can finally succeed.


Well this post is entirely too serious. Here are some things making me feel good or inspired lately. Or just things I like. It’s my blog I can do what I want.

Kid Cudi – Yea I know, super vulgar and whatever.  Also sooo 2009.  I don’t care been inspiring me lately.  Dude makes great stuff all the while dealing with depression.  Pursuit of Happiness/ Simple As/ Cudi Zone/ Up Up & Away are the best tracks not in that order.

TESD – Podcast that is also super vulgar.  I still don’t care, its just nice to relate to some hilarious middle aged guys.  The main guys are from Comic Book Men and Impractical Jokers.

Haruki Murakami – Been really into this guys writing lately and never really feel disappointed by a book.   Also just found out he started writing around my same age.  If you like or don’t mind bizarre surrealist situations, science fiction, sexuality, cats, whisky, noir, or just fantastic writing then I can’t recommend Murakami enough.  Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World is my personal favorite  but really any of his other popular novels are great.

I’ll probably post about things inspiring or keeping going on each posts, if this is a bad/good idea feel free to let me know.  Or don’t, more likely you don’t care or read this on accident.

The Amateur Guide to Amateur Writing pt. 2

Continuation from the last post no one read or enjoyed….

 

Supplies

            A pen or pencil, a notebook, a smart phone, a computer sometimes, a hand, a brain of questionable quality, a child to distract you from getting anything done, just to name a few essential supplies.

I really like using the classic composition notebooks; they are 100 page soft covers, regular ruled. I have a few of these laying around so I can work on multiple pieces at once but its easy to rummage through a 100 pages if you want to work on multiple projects in one book. If this wasn’t obvious, I hand write all my fiction, I started initially typing out everything but didn’t get very far. Not sure why, I just find typing my work to be lacking in quality for me personally.

I haven’t began a deep editing process yet so I can’t really say what I use for that but I plan to do most of it on a laptop. Or I may just burn everything so no one ever has to read any of my attempts at stories. Notebooks burn much quicker than laptops so that’s another notch for handwriting. Really though, do what works best for you.

I don’t take a ton of notes throughout the day but I like to quickly jot Ideas when I can. So just using my smart phone to quickly jot a few notes and summaries. This will probably change though as my process evolves, I just don’t like carrying too many things.

 

Rough Writing

 

I have already stated that I hand write everything….except this post which is violently being typed away on an old MacBook Pro. If you find that typing while creating works for you then by all means do it, you are probably much faster at typing anyways.

That’s the next thing, I definitely recommend writing initially for bulk and for speed. Get everything out there, it’s like having a good bowel movement, you’ll feel much better once it’s all on paper. I know most people go in the toilet or a diaper but I think you get the gist. If you get stuck, keep going, you are writing a rough draft and that means you can worry about fixing it later. I can’t say how many times I just can’t think of the word I want to use and end up putting a boring placeholder in its place.

Trust me, I have no idea what I am talking about. Well actually I wouldn’t really say these things if I hadn’t also read popular authors saying similar things. It also helps that I’m not trying to sell you something in my posts, my ulterior motive is to melt your brain not manipulate it.

 

Coffee

Look how cool and hip this stock coffee image is. Just google coffee. Way easier than taking a picture on my stupid iphone of my crappy coffee.

Truly the essence of getting anything done is coffee. Also what’s the point if you don’t have any? If you don’t understand why this isn’t under supplies, well I don’t either.

 

This is pretty much it for my writing guide, pretty lame huh? Honestly I am still surprised you are still here. Its more likely you aren’t here and a tree fell on you in the woods and no one heard it because your eardrums immediately exploded and no one else was around. I’ll send you some flowers.

The Amateur Guide to Amateur Writing pt. 1

After writing fairly consistently for half a year I have crafted what some would call a process. Others might call it a pointless arrangement of actions leading to nothing but I think process has a nicer tone. So here is a guide to my amateur process that you can read and incorporate. More likely you will find my writing process to be completely lacking and to you I say, “please comment!” I would love to hear alternatives to how I do things.

What is the origin of my process? The Internet of course, well blogs and such really. Mostly my process is based purely on what has worked best for me. That should be the number one priority because writing in a comfortable manner is the only way I can even get anything done. This will come up a bit more in this post. So here is my guide to amateur writing.

READ

Read, read a lot. In fact I now read directly before I write. Also read different genres, writers, and era’s to really expand your taste and writing style. I can’t tell you how much I have learned and observed just seeing how differently people write. That being said, let what you learn from reading flow naturally from your writing, don’t try to emulate authors who are good, but don’t not do that either. So read and keep reading.

If you don’t have as much time to read as you would like then listen. Having stories read to you in an audio book fashion is for me completely necessary. It helps me better understand the flow and voice of a novel. If you haven’t heard Neil Gaiman read one of his stories you are missing out. It’s literally an author reading you his writing in his own book. Listening to audio books is what made writing comprehensible. Having a story told to me clicked into my brain how to write. This may not happen for you like it happened for me but it can still help. It puts into reality that writing is just you telling a story in your own voice put onto paper.

So what am I reading you ask? Well you probably didn’t actually ask that but I am going to tell you anyways. The Modern Library Writer’s Workshop. This book is the bible of creative writing. It answers so many questions you have and ones you didn’t know you needed the answer to. The author, whose credentials are outlandishly legit, incorporates popular and successful writers point of views and his experience as a professor to give you a magical book that will inspire and help you build your craft. I have been mulling over this one slowly, trying to incorporate its ideas into my process. I am not even halfway through and yet I knew how great this was just reading the introduction.

Other than this book on writing, which I plan to find another once I finish this one, I mostly read fiction novels. That’s what I enjoy most and that’s what I want to write. I will confess that though I am mostly writing short stories and flash fiction right now, I am not reading much in these formats. Though I plan on remedying this fault soon.

 

I realize that this blog is pretty long already and will probably be splitting this guide into a few separate posts throughout the next week or two.  Also I kind of like the title of this post for the overall blog. 

The Road to Failing Magnificently

After this first establishing post, most of my posts will be about the process and problems of writing. For me this blog is about inspiring myself to be a better writer and to keep at it daily. Hopefully this inspiration can spread outside of my own creative expression and into any other creators work.

 

I am an outsider to success. I say this because to fail would mean that you had to have tried. Instead I have spent most of my life putting some percentage other than one hundred into things I wanted to succeed at. There were a few things I put one hundred percent of myself into, but the time passed for those things and I failed to continue that mind set. Some of the things I put all my efforts into were just not meant to be, and that’s okay. Even if you really want something, move on if you feel it’s out of your reach. Put your efforts into something within your reach, something you feel, however unlikely, is attainable.

This sentiment describes my artistic descent from music, illustration, and sequential story telling and my ascent into writing. The reality is that these were things that, though I loved them, I could not feel or see a success in. Though I had moderate talent, I lacked something in all these efforts. That’s not to say I gave them up entirely, but I gave up on the dream of being a professional musician or artist. I can no longer see that reality and in all honesty, I don’t want it. I think future success is what drives most of my hobbies or interests, which isn’t inherently bad, but it definitely can be a source of anxiety and depression.

That’s why I say you have to give up on some dreams, find new ones that you didn’t know were possible. Reassess your interests, it’s possible that what you were meant to do was there all along but you never gave it the time of day. That’s why I am so serious about writing after nearly 28 years of having either little interest, or a lack of confidence to even begin such an endeavor. I find myself utterly satisfied by the prospect of becoming a better writer. I know I am not a great writer, but I see now that it doesn’t matter. This is what I want to do and it doesn’t depend on anyone but myself. I can pride myself in the effort I put forth. I can’t wait to fail because that will mean that I really tried. Failing is much more fun than being an old man thinking of the things you could have done. Instead I will be a fairly young man doing those things and hoping that the next thing I write will be successful.

Nothing has felt more right to me than writing does to me now. So you are welcome to come observe my magnificent failures and revel in my distress. Or you can find some way to relate and cheer me on through my lack of talent and into the realm of “not too bad”.