A Habit of Success

66 days –

That is what a new study says it takes to form new habits.  The study participants reported a range from 2 to 254, with 66 being an average.

writing+ritual+It depends on the person. With me, it takes 3 to 4 weeks for me to stick to my commitment. And every year my teaching schedule changes, so there’s two to three months a year for me to recommit.

The holidays, however, throws many people off.

However, once the commitment is made and the habit is in place, it’s much easier to get back into the mind space. The secret is to jump right back into the habit after a holiday or change.  writing

Also, I think you have to make an effort to guard that commitment. Don’t be tempted to make lunch plans on a writing hour, make it for later or for a different day.

Life too easily distracts us and, without habits firmly in place, we are easily swayed.

Before you Interview….

darktimesI’ve given a number of interviews, answered questions, sent the suggested pictures, bio. links, and information, only to never hear from the once-interested-party again and to never see the interview in print.

It takes a lot of time to answer all these questions and collect the information/links requested, only to see nothing come from the work.

Some authors keep a digital file of pre-written answers to popular questions; however, my feelings and ideas change and I don’t want any two interviews to sound the same. I want my readers to look forward to a new interview, wondering what crazy thing I might say next.

There’s not much a writer can do about the never-appearing interview. We can’t ask for the person to guarantee us a spot on their blog, magazine, or other. The only thing we might do is ask more questions up front, while being polite as possible:

  • Thank you so much, I would love to give you an interview. May I ask when and where this will appear?

Although those answers, as someone who has played interviewer, are hard to pin down.

Interviews do take time, and having your hard work unused is disappointing, but not participating is risking a chance for promotion. And promotion is a writer’s best friend.

My live interview……can be found here: 

 

Is Writing Still Fun?

children_writingWe started writing because writing was fun. We have the power to create worlds out of words. We create people and have them fall in love, face their fears, win, lose, and try again. We live many lives!

How can we do that better? Edit.

Oh, no, there she goes again, talking about work.

Writing is the fun part. Editing is the work and will take more time than creation.

One top complaint from editors is a lack of basic editing. How many times have you sent a text message or email containing some sort of mistake only spotted after? We are forgiven because we all make mistakes; however, editors expect near perfection.

I submitted a story (Bowie and the Basket Case, to be published by ID Press this month); It was accepted on the condition that I listen to suggestions from the editor.

I’d read the story easily 100 times. My friend read it. Another friend critiqued it. 02_bowiec2a9g_evans.jpg – all before I submitted it!

I said yes, the whole time wondering what might be questioned.

The editor responded something akin to, “Page 10, paragraph 3: I think you meant than, yet it reads that.”

There were a few other things; however, I was shocked at this tiny error!

Spell check and grammar check never found it, of course. My friends, my editor, and myself didn’t catch it. Mistakes are easy to make, harder to see. (as in life, right?!)

Have fun writing.

Then get to work: Edit. Edit. Edit.

Guest Author: Paul White and Love

41530671_446651229159319_7854224569849085952_n - CopyWhen Noreen asked me to write a guest post for this blog, I was happy to oblige. However, I had no idea what I should write, until she suggested I write about the love, my love, of writing.

You see, Noreen picked upon a paragraph from a post from my own blog ‘Ramblings from a Writers Mind’, this is it…

In my heart of hearts, I believe the soul of the writer, the artist that lays within, is the greatest asset of all. No one can learn to write unwillingly; the writer must have love and passion above teaching and education.

A writer must want to write, above all else.

So, with the introduction over, I’ll wander through my thoughts about this subject as they come to mind.

***

Personally, I believe the passion for writing starts early in life when a child begins to compose stories, poems or simple essays.

My own first ‘published‘ work was a poem called ‘The Angel of Death’, which may seem a rather disturbing title for an eight-year-old boy to use, until you relate it to the Bible. Now, I am not a religious person, but back then, in 1966, the world was a very different place and religious studies in schools here in England were almost exclusively Christian.

At the tender age of eight, I was just beginning to understand the descriptive power of words and, even though I could not yet meld and mould them as a wordsmith, I still found their basic meanings influential.

The following is that poem, written by an eight-year-old me in 1966.

It is as basic and childish as one would expect but, looking back with the knowledge and understanding I now have, I can see what my teacher saw in the writing and why she insisted it is printed in the school’s annual magazine.

The Angle of Death

In Egypt, there was a quiet night.

But when the velvet sky turned grey,

A sword, gleaming, white,

And blood dripping.

A cry, a scream from every Egyptian house.

The sky turns back into starry velvet.

Sobs come from the Egyptian houses.

***

I think once the passion for writing gets a hold of you, once it is deeply buried under your skin, it is an affliction which stays with you for the rest of your life.

Is it an addiction?

Is it some sort of a hormone imbalance?

All types of weird answers can be found on the Internet.

Some claim the motivation is all about money. Others insist on fame and popularity. Still, others mention egotism.

All of us are different and, in all honesty, there are probably just as many reasons for writing as there are people on earth.

Some of us hope to win awards. Others want to influence people’s thinking, maybe by teaching, or to inspire or motivate.

But they all miss the point.

The passion, the love for writing in the first instance is something, I am certain, you are born with.

I do not think the individual reasons matter. The important thing is to discover the root for your own reasons, discover where your love began so you can use that strength, utilize it.

Never be frightened of revealing your passion through your writings.

***

The pursuit of the writing life through the love of the pen is nothing new.

Many people rise at the crack of dawn to write before going to their day job. Some burn the midnight oil and beyond, often watching the sunrise on a new day.

Anthony Trollope, the prolific and well-known Victorian novelist was, in the daytime, a post office clerk. As was Charles Bukowski and Franz Kafka worked for an insurance company.

These are a few authors we know of because they became famous, but there were, and still are, a thousand more writers who we will probably never know about, ones who wrote just as passionately and with just as much love for the written word.

In years to come, in the future, I may be one of those forgotten souls. But even that thought will not stop me writing because I have my own reasons, a reason I voiced once before in an old blog I used to have.

 

 

These are the words I posted on that blog.

But it’s just a dream, I guess.

I write to leave a trace of my being, however faint that may be.

I hope, or dream, at some point in the future, someone somewhere will dust off the cover of one of my books and open it. Turning the yellowing, fragile pages for the first time in a millennium.

As they read my words, they shall hear my voice echo through the centuries, be touched by my narrative. I wish them to become one with my story, lost in the world of fantasy and fiction which inhabited my mind generations before… Then, I would not have lived for nothing.

But it’s is just a dream, I guess.

***

I know I am not alone in the love of writing from the heart, from the soul, from the very epicentre of my being. Here are what some other writers express.

“My writing tools were my most precious belongings. My best quill pen was made from a raven’s feather . . . I was often so poor that I could not pay my mantua-maker, but I always invested in the best ink and parchment. I smoothed it with pumice stone till it was as white and fine as my own skin, ready to absorb the rapid scratching of my quill”

Kate Forsyth

 

“Writing is making love under a crescent moon: I see shadows of what’s to come, and it’s enough; I have faith in what I can’t see and it’s substantiated by a beginning, a climax, an ending. And if it’s an epic novel in hand, I watch the sunrise amid the twigs and dewing grass; the wordplay is what matters.

Simply put, I’m in love, and any inconvenience is merely an afterthought.

The sun tips the horizon; the manuscript is complete. The author, full of profound exhaustion, lays his stylus aside. His labour of love stretches before him, beautiful, content, sleeping until the next crescent moon stars the evening sky.”

Chila Woychik, On Being a Rat and Other Observations

 

Since I was a child, the only time I was really happy was when I was lost in the pages of a really good book. I loved everything about it. The print, the paper, the intricately designed covers. And most importantly the stories held between the covers. Books were an act of love. Nothing more. Some beautiful soul had taken time and effort to pour out their thoughts. Someone had taken the time to cultivate an entirely new experience for you to immerse in. Get lost in. Feel a sense of wonder in.

Sakshi Samtani, the writing cooperative.

 

I hope you enjoyed reading this post and that it has given you something in return for your efforts.

This is the link to my blog, Ramblings from a Writers Mind, https://ramblingsfromawritersmind.wordpress.com/

This one is for my website, http://bit.ly/paulswebsite  please come and visit, take your time browsing and say hello.

In the meanwhile, Keep Happy.

Paul White

head2 2.jpg

Writing is easy?

One of my favorite quotes:

newyear

Because, sometimes, it feels like that!

What’s your favorite quote?

Why I Write

14563288_1399791920050130_5249056612799485051_n

The second part of the statement of poetics written many years ago included the reason I write.

Of the many reasons I write, comes the desire for order.

Life is chaotic. Many things are not only out of our control, which I can live with, but happen without explanation; the lack of reasoning is challenging for me to accept.

Sometimes I write stories to understand. Therefore, I write stories to order my universe. To put life in terms I can understand.

I read a story many years ago about a child who died from cancer. How does such a precious gift leave us so soon? I wrote a fairy tale called Seeds (never published). The story could never explain or give an answer to such a sad happening, but it did give life to a little girl I never knew.

Of all the reasons you write, can you narrow it down to one or two? Share here or one of the social media accounts.

A Statement of Poetics

newyearA few months ago, I found some things I wrote years ago. Among the stories and poetry hid my statement of poetics. As a requirement for one class, we needed to construct a formal (maybe semi-formal, we were all creative writers) statement of our values as integrated into our writing. That’s the simple definition. A statement needs to include your desire for your writing, your intention.

I resisted this assignment. It’s rather challenging to label yourself, pin your writing down. However, I knew I had to do it for myself – to discover what it was I believed of my creative abilities.

One of the things from that statement stuck with me, even when I thought I’d lost it.

“If left to my own devices, I would hermatize.

I would be the strange lady in the old shanty down the street

who wanders her Munster-looking yard by moonight kicking at sticks,

overturning last fall’s leaves in search of new ideas or an old peace of mine.”

Of course, it was not my intention to hermatize; it’s a part of my personality to want to be left alone to write.

What it reminds me of is Virginia Woolf’s proclamation in A Room of One’s Own in which she surmises, we need a room of our own in which to think, write, create.

That was written 90 years ago, but the statement is truer than ever.

Given social media, television, cell phones, kids, work, responsibility and life, we are newyearmore distracted than ever! Many of us writers need to actively seek out a quiet space where we will not be hunted down and found out.

And we need to learn to pry ourselves away from those other things which are so important to us – kids, family, work – to form a little space for ourselves.

My intention for 2019 is to seek out that space and to carve out some time for myself to write.

Happy New Year, writers.

What is your intention for 2019?

 

Writing 365 – What it’s all about

I had a hellava 2018. It felt like my life was under construction. My house was growing, my family was growing, and it all culminated right around Christmas.

writing1Since then, I feel the desire to run a hundred miles an hour. I have so much energy and joy, I feel I need to focus on my writing.

In 2017, I had 17 publications. In 2018, it held steady around twelve. In 2017, I finished a novel. In 2018, I began three and finished none!

My inbox is suffering from an overload of hiking challenges, yoga challenges, travel challenges, change-your-life, improve-your-health offers. I sat down and thought – all of these things are important to me; I strive to be healthy, happy, in shape. However, the most important thing to me, at this time, is writing. I feel I didn’t do enough in the last six months and want to stay focused.

I believe writers are living more distracted, less supportive lives. In an effort to focus myself, I thought I would begin my day by being inspired and inspiring others. We receive what we put out there.

Therefore, I propose my own 365 challenge. I want to offer a short blog every morning. It will include writing tips, unblocking tricks, inspiration, and writer interviews. Occasionally, it may be as short as a quote or a question – that’s where you come in. Sometimes, I may offer you a prompt, share your response if you want.

You can follow this blog, my facebook page, twitter, or instagram. I may create a group, writing4but I don’t want to overwhelm anyone. You certainly don’t have to follow all or even feel obligated to participate in the prompts. I’m asking you to participate in your own writing life – whatever that looks like to you.

What makes me the person to do this? I mentioned my publications. I’m also a teacher. I feel I have something to offer. If you feel you can benefit – then join us. Come and go as you please, respond or don’t.

In your responses, feel free to be honest, but let’s be respectful to one another as well. In this harsh world, which is getting harder all the time, leave the negativity elsewhere.

I’m not sure I can do this for 365 days. But that is my challenge for the year – to write every day of 2019.

It all starts on January 1st (my birthday, by the way); I intend to hit the ground writing!

What is your challenge?

writing2

Friday Feature: Kerrie Flanagan’s Two are Better Than One.

Two are Better Than One; Tips for a Successful Co-Author Partnership

KerrieFlanagan_blue_PhotoCredit_SuzetteMcIntyre_CloseupWhen you meet the one, it all falls into place. You no longer have to carry the burden alone. The workload is shared, you encourage each other through the tough times and celebrate successes together. With the right partner, co-authoring can be an incredible experience that fuses the synergy and talents of two writers into creating one cohesive book.

About a year ago, I was talking with my writing friend Chuck. One of us (I don’t remember who) brought up the idea of writing something together. We both got excited and started discussing what we should write. He typically writes fantasy novels and I write nonfiction, short fiction and children’s books. Even our writing styles were (and still are) worlds apart, but that didn’t stop us. We both felt this could work. Not because of what we had written in the past, but because of us. Or personalities, work ethic and most of all our ability to trust one another to get the job done right.

We took a strategic approach when choosing a genre to write and researched the top selling creating cohesive self-published books. According to Author Earnings, in 2017 romance had the second highest number of ebooks sold, right below literature & Fiction. We also learned that romance readers go through books like potato chips, self-published authors in this genre do well and series sell better than single titles. It wasn’t long before we decided to commit to a three-book romantic comedy series, under the pen name, C.K. Wiles, to see what would happen.

We fell easily into a system that works for us. Chuck and I would brainstorm the story Kerrie and Chuckidea together, which is a fun, creative part of the process. Chuck then creates a detailed outline of the story that we then go over together to make sure everything is there. He then takes off and starts writing. After he gets a few chapters completed, he begins sending them to me. I then go through to add more emotion, fill in any holes in the storyline and tighten the writing. Once he has sent me everything, I send the edited chapters back to him so he can make final adjustments and we talk through any areas that need more work. We both read it through one more time before sending the finished manuscript to a copy editor.

While our writing system made the process smooth, we found many components that make a co-author partnership successful.

Know Your Strengths

Each writer brings his/her own strengths to each book project. Figure those out early and embrace them. This is less about making sure tasks are equally divided and more about working with your strengths to ensure you publish the best book possible. Chuck is a fast fiction writer and not a fan of developmental editing. I am a slow fiction writer, but I love taking a rough draft of a manuscript and molding it into a great story. This works well for us and we can typically get a book finished in a little over two months. When it comes to the publishing aspects, I take the lead on that since I have experience in that area. We hire out the covers and copy editing, but I am able to format the books (print and ebook) and upload them into the various platforms.

 Trust Each Other

Find someone who you respect as a writer and are confident in their skills. Chuck and I knew each other for years and provided feedback and critiques on each other’s work. I value his opinion and suggestions with my writing, so I knew before forming this partnership that I could work with him and vice-versa. When it comes to co-authoring, this trust is crucial. You have to be confident that you and partner have the same goals and visions for the book. Then allow each other the freedom to make changes and adjustments to produce the best book possible. There will be times when you disagree, and that’s ok. Talk through them and come up with a solution you can both live with.

Leave Your Ego at the Door

Curtain Call Romance Series (1).pngWhen you are working with a co-author, you have to let go of your ego. The whole goal is to create a book you are both proud of and you are happy to have your name (or pen name) associated with it. Chuck and I have different writing styles, but with our co-authored books, our writing melds together to create a new, unique voice. It is not about, “this is mine” and “that is yours,” it is seeing it as “ours.” If we got caught up in claiming different parts as our own or not being willing to work as a team to create the best book possible, we wouldn’t get anything finished.

Because of our effective partnership, we achieved our goal of publishing three books in our Curtain Call series. We have enjoyed our co-author experience so much, we are moving forward together with other writing projects as we work to market our series and get those books into the hands of readers. Co-authoring can be amazing with the right person. If this is something that interests you, take the time to find another writer you trust, one whose strengths and weaknesses compliment yours and one who is ok checking egos at the door. Then you will enjoy a synonymous relationship where you can create literary art as one.

BONUS: As a thank you, click here for a free digital copy of, Showtime Rendezvous.

—–

Kerrie Flanagan is an accomplished freelance writer with over 20 years’ experience. She is thrilled to be writing romantic comedies with her favorite writing partner, Chuck Harrelson. Together, under the pen-name, C.K. Wiles, they are the authors of Showtime Rendezvous, Stage Bound and Bared Secret. In addition, Kerrie is the author of, Writer’s Digest Guide to Magazine Article Writing and 8 other books published under her imprint, Hot Chocolate Press.

You can listen to this episode of the Stark Reflections Podcast where Chuck and Kerrie talk more about their co-author experiences.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Thanks, Kerri!

noreen

Friday Feature: Timothy Savage on Going Places

time3When people ask where I’m from, I give my prepared answer. ‘Not really from anywhere. Seems like I’ve lived everywhere.’

And that’s true. Over my half-century of time, I’ve lived in Nebraska, Chicago, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Kansas (Overland Park and Lawrence), Seattle, back to Minneapolis/St. Paul, Providence, San Luis Obispo, and the city where I currently reside, Fresno, the fifth-largest city in California (behind Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose and San Francisco, in that order) and the largest city in the United States disconnected from the Interstate Highway System.  I like to claim that at this point, I’ve made nearly one lap of the country. Map it out and my path becomes a curious zig-zag that seems to alight nowhere and puts down roots only in memory.

That current spot Fresno isn’t exactly scenic. We’re kind of flat and agricultural, and if it tim5weren’t for triple-digit summer heat, certain sections would be indistinguishable from the desolate wilds of North Dakota. It’s so non-scenic that literature has more or less left it out, too. Need proof? A Goodreads count of books set in California is nearly 600. But books set in Fresno? Three. One by William Saroyan, better remembered here as ‘That Famous Guy Who Used to Ride His Bike Through Fresno’s Tower District.’ The second is ‘The Abortion’ by Brautigan, destined thanks to the area’s politics to be a non-seller. The third is by a guy who teaches journalism at Fresno State.

But despite being a setting apparently unworthy of literature, Fresno does have one advantage: It’s a quick two-hour drive from legendary settings. Yosemite. King’s Canyon. The majestic Giant Sequoias. Beaches along the Pacific, including my favorite, Avila Beach.  If you’re feeling ambitious, you can invest an extra hour in that drive and — traffic willing — be in the Bay Area waiting for the ground to shake, or in Hollywood practicing sidewalk astronomy. So Fresno tends to be one of those places people pass through on their way to places far more interesting.

tim1But I suppose I’m grateful that living here encourages travel, even if it does so in a backhanded, better-off-getting-outta-here sort of way. That urge to hop in a car and see something else, that desire to book a plane ticket and go even farther, is not only great for the soul, it’s great for my writing.

I’ve lived here for more than 12 years, and aside from an occasional drive to Avila for some seclusion in a hot tub, full-time work-at-home Dad Duty kept me from traveling much for those first seven years. I’ve made up for that drought over the last few years, though. First a memorable trip to see the sights in Chicago with my son when he was only eight, where we braved the Willis Tower’s ‘Ledge’ and walked the Magnificent Mile together. Then a three-generation trip to Washington D.C.  — myself, my son, and my father, where we explored the sights of true democracy while plugging our ears to my father’s Faux News talking points. Next, two very memorable trips — one solo — to a place I find more inspiring than any other: the southeast of England, where people very dear to me make me feel more welcome than anywhere else, to the point where I call them ‘my English family’ most sincerely.

Being a shutterbug, my other travel trick is to photograph everything. You know that guy tim2with the DSLR strapped around his neck, taking shots of everything from the loo signs to the historical plaques set across monuments managed by the National Trust? Yep, me. Those photos come in handy during the writing process, too. Need the feeling of ‘being there’ recreated? Go visit the photo album. Need to check a historical detail? Dig out the plaque pics and read the answer. Need to remember exactly what order the Roman gods appeared on a bas-relief at the Adler Planetarium? It’s right there in the photo.

time4As a writer I carry those places with me, and whether I want them to or not, they find their ways into my writing. My Nebraska origins find a home in my writing as Kolej, a small town with a big dark secret in my coming book ‘Lillie Augustine.’ Minnesota and Providence figure prominently in my memoir about full-time fatherhood, titled ‘One Ugly Mother.’ That memorable Chicago trip finds itself in another draft titled ‘Fortunate Consolation,’ where a father leads his special-needs son on a journey to escape the trickster Goddess of Fate. Two very special places — West and East Hills in Hastings, East Sussex — will soon find themselves adapted as different worlds entirely in a collaborative science-fiction epic. That Pacific hamlet of Avila Beach was the setting for my published novel ‘Davey’s Savior,’ an intimate story set next to the pier on a very small stretch of an epic beach. And Fresno? While the city itself may make me want to be elsewhere, its agrarian nature still found its way into a draft my editor promises will be a moneymaker: the saga of ‘Lifeboat.’

You take your rewards where you can get them, right? So, until I have a best seller, it seems my challenges come in recreating places dear to me in words, and rewards through memories made in unforgettable places. With a little luck, I’ll make them equally memorable for my readers. Because after all, what is a good book if not a zig-zag journey that takes root in your readers’ hearts?

 

Timothy Savage – Author of Davey’s Savior

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Thank you, Timothy. I wholeheartedly agree!

noreen