WRITE EVERY DAY! Or not.

This week the awesomely awesome author S.M. Carrière wrote a blog called Can we not? The essence of the piece was how much some writers feel they need to dictate to other writers about how they should and should not be. In my comment I wrote:

I think I’m overloaded with writers on [social media] telling us what to do. I’m not so great at taking orders (Irish, you know). One of the worst for me is the: YOU HAVE TO WRITE EVERY DAY! EVERY SINGLE DAY. IF YOU DON’T, YOU’LL BE A LOSER WITH NO FRIENDS, YOUR LOVED ONES WILL FORGET YOUR BIRTHDAY, YOUR HAIR WILL FALL OUT AND GROW BACK AS WORMS, AND ALL THE NEW-BORN PUPPIES ON THE EARTH WILL DIIIIIIIEEE!

I have a hard time expressing myself.

An occupational hazard of being an author is you tend to follow other authors on social media, then the ALGORITHMS OF DESTINY find out your interests, and you’re pummeled with articles and adverts. One that gets to me is the “Write and publish a book in a weekend!” course. (Yeah. No. Go away, mkay?)

When adverts find me, I can meh them off most of the time. My problem is more with writers bullying writers about how to do . . . pretty much everything. This is not the same as sharing tips or experiences that someone thinks might help. This is more like: There is only one way to become an author. Or even worse: you’re not a real writer if . . .

Not coolbeans, peeps. Some writers never write books; they write blogs and they’re good at it. Some writers become self-published authors. Their books seem real to me; they have words and everything. Some writers can push out two books a year. Some take a decade to write one. Still all legit in my eyes. Some writers are super structured with outlines. Others open a laptop and go, “Wheee, I have no idea where I’m going and I love it!” (I might resemble that last person.)

Some writers are able-bodied. Some have disabilities that impair cognitive function. Some can blaze on the keyboard with ease. Others have too much pain to type or even sit up to use their dictation software. If you command that all writers must write every single day, can you see how this might be an ableist thing? Maybe let’s not assume everyone’s life is exactly the same.

laptopSo, let’s think twice before telling another writer what to do, or making them feel like they can’t sit with you. (But on Wednesdays, you still better wear pink.) Seriously, though. Be kind. You can go very far in life by being encouraging.

And if people have quirks that drive you bonkers, take advantage of filters and mute functions. You’re not tied down like the guy in A Clockwork Orange. Chill, doods.

I see this post is also telling you how to be. Oh well. It’s hard to avoid that. I hope you interpret my message as a Be Excellent to Each Other sort of thing. That was my intention.

Write as much you wish, when you wish. I won’t judge.

Peace.

/cg


CGAuthorCait Gordon is an Irish-Canadian warrior princess and author of Life in the ‘Cosm, a space opera about a little green guy who’s crushing on the female half of his two-headed colleague (Renaissance Press). She’s also the editor of the Spoonie Authors Network blog.

 

 

Are you a procrasti-writer?

There’s an old joke about cis men and self-gratification: Nine out of ten guys masturbate, and the tenth one is a liar.

The same could be said for writers and procrastinating. I think we’ll be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t delay working on their manuscript. I rarely procrastinate with anything else in my life (maybe biz accounting because ugh) but even I put off working on my stories.

Why do we do that? We love writing, so how do we justify not writing? I suppose it could be a number of things like:

  • We’re blocked.
  • We’re feeling insecure about our merit as an artist.
  • There’s something great on Netflix we need to binge.
  • Hey, when did my closet get so messy?
  • I haven’t talked to my mom in awhile. I should phone her.
  • Ugh, my nails need a good trim.
  • Oh, there’s a sale on Amazon!
  • I should work out. Maybe at walk outside at least.
  • What’s Talia doing? I’ll send her a text.
  • I’m hungry and there are no cupcakes in the house.
  • I should bake cupcakes.
  • Oh, no flour. I’ll go get some now.
  • I’m tired from my sugar rush.
  • Just a short nap will do.
  • Oh hi, honey, I you’re home early!

You know, extremely hypothetical things like that. *cough*

litc-jan26-2017
When art imitates life in my microcosm.

Just DO EET!

Seriously, this is what works for me. I have found myself absolutely not in a state of mind to write, but like with exercise, if I start, I end up doing pretty well. I have all sorts of legitimate excuses I can pull out of my bottom, like chronic pain and fatigue, but  I wrote Life in the ‘Cosm while really suffering. So, I know for me, it can be done. (Again, this is my life and no judgment on anyone else who deals with pain and fatigue.) I have dictation apps and apps that read things back to me, and these accessibility tools got me through my first book.

What I’m discovering now is that if my brain doesn’t want to brain within a certain structure, then I’ll just let myself brain any way I want to. If I don’t want to continue with a specific chapter just yet but have an idea for another, then I’ll write the new chapter. Often, I’ll go back to the former chapter and be able to write it better so it links to the new content.

Lately, I’ve just gotten into writing short stories. Wow, this is great fun. Because of the limited word count, the end comes much sooner than with a full novel. It challenges me to write more with less, and I’m wondering if this will help me improve my overall chapter writing. I often like to think of short stories under 5K as scenes or chapters. Works in my mind, anyway. Short stories are a great kickstarter for a procrastinating writer, in my opinion. Poetry would work a treat, too!

You are better than you think you are.

Ohmigosh, this. Last night I went on a spectacular ride of sheer panic at my perceived lack of skill. My bff talked me off the ledge and I tried taking her word for it. Sometimes at night I go into I’M THE AWFULLEST WRYTUR IN THE UNIVERSE AND BEYOND mode. Often I’ll get some sleep, start writing again, and then all is well.

I really believe the remedy to thinking you’re the awfullest wrytur in the universe and beyond is to keep writing. Get out of your own head. You’re better than you think and if you’re that worried about your skills, you’ll probably do what you can to improve yourself. Remember, every one of us writes crappy first drafts. Every. One. Of Us. I seriously encourage writing crappy first drafts, because at the end of it, you have a first draft, dood!

So, off with you! And me, too.

Time to stop making excuses and do the thing. Even beginning with a few words or sentences. Writing a paragraph is more than not writing one. Imma take this advice, too.

Must dash. There be words I must smith!

Good luck, fellow scribes!

/cg

CGAuthor

Cait Gordon is an Irish-Canadian warrior princess and author of Life in the ‘Cosm, a space opera about aliens with issues (Renaissance Press). She’s also the editor of the Spoonie Authors Networkblog.

What I’ve Discovered about Writing Short Stories for Competitions

stories

Brace yourself. This is the revelation of all time. Are you sitting down? You should really sit down for this one. Okay, you at the bus stop, since there isn’t a bench, just ask the person beside you if they might catch you in case you faint.

Right, so the thing about writing short stories for competitions is this:  You don’t have many words to play with. The short story word counts are kinda, well, small.

I know right? It floored me, too.

Okay, so perhaps this was beyond apparent to most of you, but I’ve not written a short story since I was in high school, and I think it was about how my cat scared me with his food bowl in the middle of the night. A simply riveting yarn. I do remember my teacher hating it. Anyway, this past weekend I thought I would try my hand at a short story. I’ve had a couple of ideas for over a year now, and because of a contest deadline that loomed in a loomity way, I thought I’d crunch a tale out.

The restriction was set at under 2500 words. TWENTY-FIVE HUNDRED WORDS?! My book was about 118, 000 words! I like words, and using many of them to tell a story. How the heck could I build characters and issue my certain brand of whacky in so little a budget of words???

I started writing on Saturday night and submitted yesterday. The second thing I learned about crafting short stories for competitions is that they don’t take as long to write. You know, because they’re short and all. Shockingly, I think I might have pulled it off, too. I completed the task in just over 2000 words, and made myself and my trio of reviewers laugh. Achievement unlocked!

It wasn’t easy at first, but I think I might have developed a taste for it. I might challenge myself write a few more 2K-word short stories, just to see what I can come up with within that restraint. Someone once told me that limitations are beautiful, regarding the creative process. Well, it does keep you sharp, I must admit.

I can’t reveal this particular short story yet, but when I can, I will. In the meantime, stay tuned as I try to bang out some more short but silly wordy things.

If you have something to share about your experience writing short stories, please feel free to leave it in the comments! You can include links to your tales, too. Dazzle me with your word-smithyness! 🙂

/cg

CGAuthorCait Gordon is an Irish-Canadian warrior princess and author of Life in the ‘Cosm, a space opera about aliens with issues (Renaissance Press). She’s also the editor of the Spoonie Authors Network blog.