Category Archives: Patience

10 Things Learned Since I Started Writing

When I started this writing journey, I was naive to the complexities of it all. I guess in it’s most basic state, writing is just me and the words on the screen or paper. It’s when I started sharing those words that things changed. Here are ten things I learned since I started (in no particular order).

Editing is your best friend. I didn’t understand the serious need for revision and editing. I knew those things were important, but as I progress in my career, it’s abundantly clear how vital good editing is to my work. And I can’t do it on my own.

Sometimes the first draft is hard to finish. The moment I start revising parts of the first draft before it’s finished, I bog myself down and the pace of my writing slows to a crawl. That’s not good. I need to get that draft out, warts and all, as quickly as possible so I can jump in and fix it after it’s done.

I’ll never please everyone with my work. As much as I love what I write, not everyone will see it that way. It’s ok. Art is never universally accepted. There will be some who it doesn’t work for and that’s fine.

articulated-male-818202_960_720Writing is not a solitary endeavor. Contrary to popular belief, writing is not an individual act. Sure, the writer creates and physically writes the story on their own. However, to make it work, we need other sets of eyes to help us tighten our prose. And once that’s done and you want to share it with the world, you need others to spread the love. It takes a team of dedicated individuals to make that happen. I find it best not to piss off those that can help.

Family and friends don’t always support you. I gotta start by saying I have a tremendous amount of support from a lot of my family and friends. They might not agree with the subject of my stories, but they’re super supportive of my work. Then there are those that can care less. Yeah I spent a ton of time working on perfecting my stories, only to have it fall on deaf ears. Just because they are family or friends doesn’t mean they’ll automatically help or buy the book or leave a review. And thats ok. They are under no obligation to do so. If they sell Mary Kay cosmetics does that mean I have to buy them? No. Same with my writing. It’s cool.

Rejection isn’t personal. Let me restate that: rejection isn’t personal. It’s not an indictment of you as an individual. For whatever reason, the story didn’t work for that person. Cool. Move on. Try someone else. Revisit your story to see where the holes are. Send it out again. And again. And again. Maybe try a different market. Whatever the case, remember rejection isn’t personal.

Success doesn’t happen overnight. You hear so many uplifting stories about people leaving their day jobs to become full-time authors. I would love to have that kind of financial success from my writing. However, unless your book goes viral and everyone under the sun suddenly wants to read it, this takes time and patience. Lots of it. Don’t be discouraged. Keep at it. If you have a passion for your craft and continually seek to improve, your chances of this happening are better, but not guaranteed.

work-1627703_960_720Everybody has advice. Take it at your own peril. Many people mean well, but that doesn’t mean they know what they’re talking about. Maybe they do. Talk to fifty different authors and you’ll get fifty different answers. Sift through this massive trove of opinions carefully. Try different things, but always be wary of the advice given. How to find the best and most trustworthy advice? I don’t have an answer. I take in a lot of suggestions and sometimes I’ll try them, sometimes not. It’s a personal thing I guess. Just be careful with what “rules” you follow given to you by others.

Self publishing is easy, getting noticed is not. I couldn’t believe how incredibly easy it was to get my stories uploaded to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Apple. It literally was a click or two and *poof* done. That’s it. But that’s also why indie authors are slammed by critics and readers. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. I spent a lot of time revising and editing my first collection of stories to leave the best impression I could with potential readers. I still had a few errors in my work. Then when it came to earning eyes on my stories, that was (and still is) a difficult process. I’m basically asking someone to use their hard earned cash to buy a book from an author they don’t know and invest their time with me. That’s a big ask. I better deliver with my work or they won’t come back.

You will have to sacrifice if you want to succeed. When I started writing, I played a lot of video games. One day I came to the realization that the time spent playing games on the Xbox was time spent not writing. How could I hope to grow as a writer and create new work if I spent my time playing games? I stopped cold turkey. I didn’t join my friends on our weekly game night anymore. I didn’t spend hours on a Saturday morning hunting achievements. Instead, I used that time to write more and read more. I’ve whittled down my gaming to two mobile games, that’s it. I miss those gaming sessions, but if I wanted to be serious about my craft, I had to make concessions somewhere.

There you have it, my ten things learned since I started as a writer. As you start your journey or are knee deep in it, how do these compare to your experiences?

Feel free to like, share, and comment. Thanks!


Nearing the End

As I write this, I’m just over 34,000 words into my latest NaNoWriMo attempt. I intend on getting to the end and completing my fourth novel. With the upcoming long weekend, I should find enough time to power through and hit 50k by the end of day on the 30th.

You can actually read what I’ve written so far. I’m using the Tablo writing platform and I’m quite impressed by the experience so far. I’ve had someone comment and I’ve received over 120 reads. You can find the story here. I do caution you to read it with a certain amount of understanding. It is a very rough draft with all sorts of problems. But, you can still read the story and get an idea where I’m going with it. I’m open for suggestions and critiques as well.

What I’ve discovered over the years participating in NaNo is something that correlates to my day job of sales rep.

Writing daily and uploading my word count on the NaNo site gives me instant visual verification that I’ve accomplished something. It shows me how many words I’ve written since the last time I uploaded my word count, my average word count, my expected completion date if I continue at the current pace and many other quantifiable bits of data to help me push on.

In sales it’s very much the same. I have monthly and annual goals. Every order counts. Every dollar adds up. I can break down my goals by week and day if I want to. Small orders eventually add up to larger totals. I could have a weak sales day and counter it with a spectacular day that covers for the shortages. Daily I can check my totals and watch as I get closer to my goal.

That attitude and ability to be patient when the days aren’t going the way I’d like have helped. Of course I’d rather make the goal as soon as possible but knowing if I stay the course I’ll eventually get to the end is a comforting thought.

Writing a novel isn’t easy. Heck writing short stories and essays isn’t easy either. But with determination, patience, and a willingness to trek on when everything seems against you, you can get to the end. You can make the goal set for you. You can do something amazing.

If you are writing this month, I wish you the absolute best. Don’t worry about editing or if your story is going where it needs to go (see the link to my story in progress for confirmation of this) Use this time to write. Editing comes later. Fixes can be made when the month is over.

I know I write about NaNo a lot. It’s something I get excited about. It’s a month long sprint to 50K and there’s nothing like being engrossed in your work so much that it’s the only thing on your mind. Characters become good friends. Settings seem like memories of a real place once visited. Plot lines intermingle with one another.

If you’ve never tried it I challenge you to do so. If nothing else, it will get you in the mindset of writing. It will give you an excuse to put your story down on the screen or paper.

Good luck to all the writers this month. You’re almost there! If you failed and won’t make the deadline, don’t worry. You’ve started something wonderful. Keep at it. One word added to another gets you that much closer to the goal. You’ll finish and that accomplishment is more meaningful than you know.



Steal From Work (It’s OK)

Most writers work a “real” job that pays the bills while they continue to write and perfect their craft.  It’s common.  I do the same, and that’s just fine.  I’ll continue to do so unless I’m able to support my family from writing or somehow get lucky with a wealthy relative (yeah right!)

But instead of punching the clock just to get a paycheck, I say use your situation to your benefit.
For the last fourteen years, I’ve worked in sales at a screen-printing/embroidery/promotional products company (need some t-shirts?)  When I started, I had no real sales experience.  I’d worked at a fast food restaurant for eight years before my current job and had a Master’s Degree in Medieval History.  To be honest, I felt the same way towards sales people as you might; they were rude, pushy, obnoxious, and worthless scum of the Earth.  I had to push past that and make sure I was none of those things to be successful and feel good about myself.  
Over time, I embraced my job and what I am.  It’s not an easy transition going from dreams of teaching to selling material things, but once I discovered I was offering solutions for problems, it made a difference in how I went about my work.  
I’ve learned a couple things over my time selling which apply to writing.  
The first thing I learned was patience.  Every day I went to work expecting the big sale.  I’d anticipate large orders so I’d hit my sales goals.  That didn’t happen.  I knew the sales were there, but my customers weren’t ready to pull the trigger.  Often they would, but not on my timing.  I learned that the sale would come when it was time.  I moved on to the next project or customer while I continued to wait on my customers.  
For writing, aren’t we all doing the same thing?  We write, we submit, and we wait.  And wait.  And…wait some more.  Acceptance does not come easy.  I know one day I will break through, but in the meantime I have to move on to more projects and continue to fine tune my writing.  If we as writers continue like this, we’ll have an abundance of material to draw from when we finally get that glorious email or letter of phone call that we are accepted.
Persistence is another trait I learned from sales.  If I wanted to succeed, I had to keep at it.  Every day, all day long.  I’m not a pest to my customers, but I have to be available to them and stay proactivee to make sure their needs are met.  That persistence has paid off over time as my sales increased and my customers keep coming back.
Writing follows the same pattern.  I have to be relentless when it comes to putting words on paper or on a screen.  I have to work hard at it and write a lot.  Every day if I can, but if not, just keep at it.  Eventually all that time spent writing will pay off.  The quality of my work will improve and my dreams of succeeding will get closer with every word written.
No matter what your job is, try to find the qualities that help you succeed and use those for your writing.  Once you tap into that behavior of success and accomplishment in your job and break apart what makes it work, it’s easy to translate that to your passion for writing.  

So go ahead and steal from work, it’s ok.

Writing the Race (or Running for the Writer)

Writing the Race (or Running for the Writer)
Running has been an activity I kinda fell into.  Several years ago, I’d been working out at the gym trying to stay in shape.  Every April there’s a local race called the River to River Relay Race that I’d been wanting to try but never had the courage to do.  My assistant at the time knew I’d thought about it and she convinced me that with a little extra work running (especially hills) then I’d be in perfect shape to give it a try.  I worked hard and by the time the race came, I was excited and ready.  It was a fun time and I was hooked.
Before then, I’d never run.  Ever.  I was a skateboarder growing up, but I’d never gone for a jog or any other running.  The River to River Relay is like doing three 5K races in one day.  On hills.  Ask anyone who’s done it and they will always talk about hills.  It’s not for the feint of heart.  And that was my first race ever. 
After conquering that race, I ran regularly and entered several 5K races.  The best I placed was second in my age group, but that was more by default than anything else.  There were only four or five in my age group at that race.  But it was a win.  I felt like I belonged.  
I’ve been running part-time since then and it’s a great way for me to stay in shape.  I enjoy the mental clarity I gain while running.  My mind will clear itself of all extraneous thoughts and creativity flourishes.  Some of my best ideas came while running.  It gives me a chance to sort through my thoughts and form them into something coherent.  I’ve been able to figure out plot points and story twists all while climbing up hills and running along roads.
I didn’t start with the hills and I didn’t one day wake up and claim to be a runner.  “Hello day!  It is I, runner Jason!”  No, instead it took a lot of practice.  I couldn’t run a 5K without training shorter distances.  I had to get my breathing under control and recognize the limits of my body while training.  
I’m sure I’m not the first one to make the connection, but the steps it takes to be successful as a runner are the same as writing.
It’s not like all of a sudden I claimed the title of “Writer” either.  I had to work up to it.  I wrote.  I failed.  I had to see what training steps I needed to succeed.  I worked on my craft.  I couldn’t just start writing a novel without some concepts and artistry to fall back on.  
I tried NaNoWriMo four years ago and failed.  I didn’t know what I was getting into.  I had no idea what it took to write a 50,000 word creative piece.  I’d written a 75 page thesis for my Master’s degree, but that was a different kind of writing.  
After failing that year, I read more.  I searched for sources to help me collect my thoughts and write a long piece of fiction that had plot, theme, and characters well thought out and researched.  That year, I was able to come back and win NaNo and the confidence it gave me has sustained me to this day.
I’m not published anywhere other than this blog.  I’ve written over twenty flash fiction/short stories and have three NaNo novels under my belt.  
Just like my first real race and the momentum I gained, winning that year in NaNo was crucial to building my confidence.
I still read, I still seek ways to improve in both running and writing, and one day I hope to be better than what I am now at both things.  
Running and writing both take a tremendous amount of patience, dedication, and practice.  You can never have enough of any of those three if you are going to succeed.  Sometimes I want to give it all up, the running and writing, but then I realize I enjoy both too much to stop.  I gain so much from both that it would do me no good to give up.  I have to push on.  I have to endure.  I have to work harder to be better.  One day it will all pay off.