10 More Incorrect Assumptions About Writers

This post is a somewhat snarky continuation of last month’s 10 Incorrect Assumptions About Writers article.

#11 Writers don’t actually work that much

Grab a notebook and a pencil and people admire your dedication. Crack open a laptop and everyone assumes you’re playing games. Granted, all the Netflix jokes we make don’t help our case, but still. We writers take our work pretty seriously.

I’ve had people watch me type away for a bit and then say something like, “So…is that work stuff, or are you just goofing off?” I know they’re probably joking, but how would it look if I walked up to a busy firefighter and said, “So…are you putting that out, or just toasting marshmallows?”

#12 Writers are always available for language-related favors

I think every writer in existence has experienced this at least once. Your classmates need a paper proofread, and it’s due in an hour, and you’re not busy so you can do it for free, right? Well…no. Not right. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind lending a hand (and I did all throughout college). I’ll be glad to look over your paper. If I can do it when it fits my schedule, and if it’s only a few pages, and if I don’t have paying work to finish first. Because, believe it or not, I do occasionally get paid to do just that. Wait in line.

#13 Writers need English and/or Creative Writing degrees

Did I take creative writing classes in college? Yes. Did I graduate with a degree in English? Yes. Did it revolutionize the way I write fiction? No. Most of what I’ve learned about writing has been through my own writing and reading. I know of writers who got all the degrees and drastically improved because of them, but degrees don’t grant you innate skill, nor do they guarantee success.

[Note: my classes, teachers, and studies were fantastic. I’m not degrading any of them. I did learn stuff about literature, grammar, history, etc (go to college, kids!). But I didn’t learn anything about creating a story from nothing and putting it into writing that I didn’t already know (or would come to know in the future) from experience and self-teaching.]

#14 Writers always stay indoors

We stay inside a lot because that’s where our work is, and we love our work. But that doesn’t mean we’ll burst into flames if we walk out the front door (well, most of us won’t). Writers love walks, nature, cities, fresh air, sunshine/rain as much as anyone else (Pokemon Go, anyone?). If anything we wish we could be out more, but, you know, laptops have a limited battery life.

#15 Writers lack social skills

Again, we joke about this a lot. But most of the time it’s just not true. A lot of writers are introverts, and a lot of introverts are shy (there is a difference, people), but we can still go out, smile, shake hands, meet people, converse, and interact with society when we want to. Maybe we just tend to want to a little less than others.

#16 Writers hate editing

Editing, the great evil torture process that stifles creativity and drags writers down into the mire of technicalities. Actually, there’s just as much creativity in rewrites and edits as there is in first draft writing. I know a lot of writers (myself included) who enjoy the second and third draft process just as much as the first draft. Now, proofreading? That’s a different story…

#17 Writers want to be just like famous authors

“Oh, you write fantasy? So you wanna be the next Tolkien/Rowling/Martin, I guess.”

No, actually, I don’t. Tolkien, Rowling, and Martin were/are talented, successful authors that a lot of people look up to. But Tolkien gets boring, Rowling spams plot holes, and Martin needs to get his moral compass checked for signs of life (my opinions, calm down).

My point is, I don’t want to be them, or even like them. I want to achieve what they achieved, yes, but in my own way, with my own voice, and my own stories.

#18 Writers disregard basic and routine activities

“You’re a writer, huh? Must be nice to work from home. You don’t have to get up early, shower, or follow meal schedules like the rest of us. You don’t even have to get dressed if you don’t want.”

Bottom line: that’s a bunch of garbage. We work hard. Most of us have other jobs. We follow routines. We have self-respect and a sense of hygiene.

Writer does not mean slob.

#19 Writers need to work with major publishers

Would I love to have one of my books eventually published by one of the big names? Of course. Are my career as a writer and my love for storytelling defined by that factor? Absolutely not. Mainstream publishing houses have competition in the form of indie-publishers, self-publishing, etc. I don’t need a six-figure deal to be a good writer.

If anyone’s reading this that wants to offer me a six-figure deal, I graciously accept. 

#20 Writers thrive in coffee shops

This is true for some writers, but not for all. I’m jealous of the people who a.) have access to coffee shops nearby, and b.) look super sophisticated with their million dollar Apple devices while still getting chapters done by the refill.

I’m not that guy. For instance, I’ve been into Starbucks three times in my life. Once as part of a group. I didn’t order anything. The second time was in February in Chicago. I panicked and ordered a slushy. The third time, I tried to order coffee. Emphasis on tried. Turns out you need a degree in Latin just to get a napkin in that hipster nest.

Starbucks is the worst. That’s really all I’m getting at in this whole post.


Take this post with a grain of salt and a pinch of humor. If you’re guilty of making any of these assumptions, ultimate shame on you. Now, you’ll have to excuse me. It’s almost 2:00 in the afternoon. Time for me to get dressed.

Publishing Plans, Writing Goals, and Other Assorted 2016 Shenanigans

Remember that one time back in February when I said Where The Woods Grow Wild would be available by late April? Yeah…that didn’t happen. As a matter of fact, July is almost over and I’ve yet to finish the second draft. To say that my writing plans for 2016 have been delayed is an understatement.

I won’t go into the details, but suffice to say there’s been a lot going on since January, and I’ve been juggling a part-time job (two as of a few weeks ago) with some remaining freelance editing work.

Technically 2016’s halfway point was a month ago, but I’m going to pull a ‘who cares?’ and do some recalibrating. Here’s what I’ve got up my sleeve for the rest of 2016:

Finish and publish Where The Woods Grow Wild

Aside from my day jobs, this will be my top priority. I’m making great progress on rewrites, and I’ll be beta-reader shopping soon (wink-nudge). No promises (I’ve made that mistake too many times already), but I really want to see WTWGW hit Amazon in October-November (that’s giving myself plenty for a few extra editing rounds, just in case).

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Current cover art for WTWGW, designed by Silvia Philbrick at Orca Creative Studio.

I’ve been sharing snippets on social media (mostly Twitter and Instagram) via #2bitTues, #1LineWed, and other trends, and the support you guys have shown is humbling and motivating, more than you realize. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

Keep writing my backburner novel

No, not a novel about an actual backburner (although I’ll accept offers for the rights to that idea). I’m talking about the fantasy novel that’s been sitting on the proverbial shelf gathering proverbial dust for about a year now. I’ve mentioned it now and then on Twitter, but Where The Woods Grow Wild has been my sole writing focus for the past 8-9 months.

This novel is looking to be a long one (guesstimating 150k-ish words), so I won’t be finishing it anytime soon. But still. It exists, and I’ll be making slow progress behind the scenes.

Start Where The Woods Grow Wild 2‘s first draft

Yep. WTWGW is getting a sequel. I wasn’t planning on this originally, but I love the characters too much to not write another book with them. Where The Woods Grow Wild will still have a definite ending, a conclusion of its own, but since it’s obviously going to sell a million copies*, why not explore the story world a bit more afterwards?

*please. I’m really poor. 

Develop social media

This is a permanent work-in-progress. 2016 has been great so far in terms of social media growth.

My Twitter following has almost tripled since last August, and I’ve been able to connect with some fantastic new people. Twitter is still my most consistent communication tool, so if you don’t follow already, you’re missing out on my superior humor and intellect some mildly amusing tweets.

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I experimented with Instagram for a few months, but daily posts are quite taxing on my supply of photo ideas, and I’ve slowed down a bit. I don’t know how you all get hundreds/thousands of followers based exclusively on pictures of your desk, but more power to you, I guess.

To the grand total of 114 people who like and follow my author page on Facebook…yeah, sorry. I hardly ever post there. To be honest, I’m not a big fan of Facebook anymore. In terms of platform building it stinks unless you pay them (more) money, and then it stinks a little bit less.

I am, however, working towards starting a Youtube channel. I’ve been experimenting with different video styles, and I think I’ve found one that works for me. I don’t know when I’ll launch it (maybe next month?), but I’m having fun getting ready, if nothing else. Stay tuned.


Anyways, those are my writerly plans for the rest of 2016. Right now I’m going to pencil in a daily schedule to manage it all (no, I’m not sweating), and hopefully I’ll be able to follow through with these plans and not get fired from my two part-time jobs. Pray for me and my caffeine addiction.

In the meantime, have yourself an awesome day, friend!

 

 

9 Reasons To Index-Card Your Manuscript

Last week I finished the first draft of The Children Of Falore (title subject to change). Which means that, in the next few days, I’ll be starting the editing phase.

But there’s one thing I always do before editing a manuscript, and that is indexing. What’s that, you ask? Basically, I go through my outline*and fill an index card for each scene in my manuscript. On each index card I include the following information:

  • Scene title/brief summary (so I know what’s going on)
  • Scene number (the order in which they tentatively take place)
  • POV character (not necessary if all your scenes are the same POV)
  • Location
  • Time of events in story context
  • Word count
  • Important info disclosed (if applicable)
  • Marks for pivotal scenes (inciting event, climax, turning points, etc.)

*I use Scrivener, so it’s all there on the screen, but you may not have a physical outline. In that case, flipping/scrolling through the finished manuscript itself works just as well, if a bit tedious. 

I end up with pretty much my whole manuscript condensed into a stack of index cards. For Little One, which had about 93k words, I needed about 70 cards because most of my scenes were on the short side. Your results will vary. Spread out on the table, it looked like this:

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The reasons I do this are several. Here, I’ll list some of the major benefits of indexing your manuscript’s first draft.

#1 Get the big picture (literally)

Having all your scenes compiled in a physical, manageable stack of cards makes getting the big picture so much easier in the most tangible way. Take the photo above, for instance. I can immediately spot my story’s layout and the location of major events. Are they too close together? Does my pacing need work? Do I need more exciting chapters? Should I slow down? This is a great way to spot those potential issues.

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Here’s a photo of my index cards beside my outline diagram. Twice the big-picture-viewing, twice the efficiency. 

#2 Manage characters and POV

You wrote down each scene’s POV character. Now you can tell what the balance is between your main characters and your secondary characters, as well as if it needs adjusting. Hint: color coding each card according to its POV character makes this a visual piece of cake. You won’t even have to read the card.

#3 Spot plot holes

Having your whole plot laid out where you can see it all at once has a knack for revealing plot holes you may have missed just scrolling down a screen.

#4 Organize or re-organize

You can mix and match your index cards to your hearts content to rearrange chapters, scenes, or whole sections without messing up your document or having to copy-paste a million times. Again, the advantage of visualizing where each scene sits can be super valuable to see if maybe chapter 4 might work better as a part of chapter 7.

#5 Reference quickly

For all other purposes or editing needs, you’ll have your stack of scenes ready to consult at a moment’s notice. You’d be surprised how much time you’ll save when fact-checking, double-checking, quoting, comparing, etc. The more intricate your story, the more likely you’ll thank yourself for making this resource.

#6 Balance content

If you color-code your index cards according to content type (dialogue, action, backstory, flashback, description, etc.), you’ll be able to spot unbalanced sections right away.

#7 Jot down notes

Keep a stack of pens or markers nearby, and you can quickly make marks or notes on your cards according to each scene’s needs. A handful of my index cards ended up with big ‘ol red x’s on them. They simply didn’t add anything, so out they went. Yes, you can do this on a printed doc or a laptop as well, but if you have your cards anyway, it saves time, and can be accessed quickly later on.

#8 Reinforce story structure

If you’re not an outline and prefer to make things up as you go, indexing your manuscript is a fantastic way to make sure your first (or second, third, etc.) draft is properly structured so that readers don’t get lost or confused when reading. Not all ‘pantsed’ manuscripts necessarily need this, but there’s a greater peril of structure weakness in early drafts without prior outlining.

#9 Keep track of time

If you’re like me, you very easily lose track of how much time has passed in your story. If you marked your cards accordingly, you’ll be able to keep track of how many days, weeks, or months go by during and between scenes.


There are other advantages to indexing your manuscript via scene-list. These are some of the ones that have helped me the most. I hope some of them help you as well, should you decide to give it a try!