Sounds pretty dumb, right?
We all do it, at least all writers I know have notebooks at home that never get written in because dammit they’re just too damn pretty. Despite the acres of prime note-taking real estate on £30+ leather bound acid-free paper, instead we swamp our desks with post-its, cast off receipts and torn out pages from notebooks that cost a quid for a shrink wrapped pack of five. Oddly specific? Well there’s also heaps of dice, magic cards, and an empty chocolate raisin wrapper if you must know.
Here’s the perverse logic I realised a while back that has an oddly profound effect on confidence in one’s own work. All those disposable pieces of paper with your thoughts are too easy to throw away, and we apply the same disposability to the ideas we’ve written down.
And yet here are these pristine and beautiful notebooks that we spent money on and now keep on shelves, unwritten in because we don’t want to spoil them with our thoughts. Does that make sense? Would we put greater value on our notes if we wrote them on better paper that’s harder to throw away? Would our doodles and scribbles have greater importance if we actually put them between prettier pages?
From experience, let me tell you, yes to all of the above. Writing now for six years, starting my own business, and slowly but surely coming to value my own work enough to put an actual price tag on it has all taught me better and more productive habits. I’ve probably tried too many at this point, but among those I can say actually work, highest on the list are: writing to a regular schedule, and actually valuing your own work, holding yourself to a standard*, and part of that is actually putting your work into something you care about, like a good notebook.
Most of you have that notebook, and let me clarify that the notebook needn’t be a notebook, it could be a sketchbook, a particular folder, maybe it’s music that you’ve only ever written and heard via synthesised but you never actually play and record it on a real instrument. Maybe you’re surrounded by scribbles but you’ve never put those images to canvas… I’m spitballing here, I’m out of my format, I don’t know how the same hangups apply to other creatives, you tell me.
I am encouraging you all to apply greater value to yourselves than you may have done before. No, not all of you, some of you are already out there, putting yourselves out into the world and aspiring for something new, some of you don’t need to hear it. Some of you may be staring at your desk quietly nodding to yourselves and wondering what to write. Here’s the next part, stop wondering, and just start writing something about your current project, or resurrecting one that you loved once and haven’t touched in far too long.
*Not a high standard, not even a good one particularly, just set a certain expectation like word count, or upholding certain values like adhering to certain rules.
From Tolkien to… Furby’s?
Ahem, yes, well, across all forms of entertainment, there are examples of made-up languages. In some cases, like the ones in The Sims (Simlish), or even Furby (Furbish) it’s all for a bit of fun. A fictional language can help make these beings more lovable, more relatable. In other cases, a fictional language can be a good way to make people dislike a character, if they refuse to speak a common language, even if they know it.
Recently, I’ve found myself jotting snippets down. No matter how big or small the idea, I’ve been writing words down that sound like a good sentence. Sometimes, they end up over several different documents, before finally being merged into one. No matter what, I’m going to keep this log down. If you’re getting into writing as a hobby, or even a career, why not come up with your own writers log? Here’s a few tips on how I write my log, how often I write in it, the types of things I keep and how the information gets used.
Every day, Joel and I come up with new articles to share. Some days, we struggle to come up with something; you can call that writers block. Other days, we are bursting with ideas. No matter what though, we want to provide articles because we have a desire to write about topics that excite us. We hope that our topics excite you too, but the main crux of why we write is more than just writing to entertain. Today, I’d like to just take a step back and talk about why we write, how your input is invaluable and how we would love to hear from more of you.
Have you ever wanted to write for a living? I think many of us have, even if it’s only a passing interest. I’m one of the many people who have wanted to do this, so, I guess this is my way of saying that I’m now a Blogger For Hire. But what does that mean, why did I get to this point and what sort of services can I offer? More importantly, if you were interested in doing something similar, what do you need to know?
Whilst the skies above decided to put a dampener on the day, those of us who braved the elements had a night of fun and games at the Old Market Tavern. We went for a great pre-meetup over at Wagamama’s in Cabot, before heading down to our friends in the Old Market Tavern, for plenty of board games and a night of writing. Whilst it was another fun event, people were pretty excited about an announcement I made about one of the prizes for next month’s competition, which is going to be a pretty big competition to get through. For a spoiler for next month as well as what happened this month, read on!
National Novel Writing Month is back once again, marking the 20th year since the event begun. If you’ve never heard of it, or if you’re only vaguely aware, I think it’s always worth sharing what this is at this time of year, because hey, even if you’re not ready to take the plunge yourself this year, there’s always time to get yourself ready for the next one! In today’s article, I’ll discuss a bit of the history of National Novel Writing Month, what you can do to get involved and also some tips on how to work through your writing bug, without breaking the bank balance.
We were very excited about NASA’s recent discovery of organic matter on Mars, stronger evidence than we have ever had of the presence of life in the red planet’s history, and perhaps even now. And sure, that life is nothing more complex than a light dusting of bacteria, but it’s hope for a future off-world, and even more incredible, it cements the notion of alien life. That’s life within our own solar system, so it’s no Faster-Than-Light travelling alien sapience that look like somebody’s been gradually improving the same sloppy prosthetics job over the last couple of decades, but it’s a start.
Science fiction writers have considered the possibility of how our interaction with alien life might go. Though the real tragedy is that the War of the Worlds destruction-by-disease is the most likely outcome, we can dream. Here’s a rough breakdown of the more optimistic possibilities. (more…)
Recently I got into a brief conversation on the nature of practice. In fact it’s a topic that keeps popping up lately, someone else I know was crowd sourcing ideas on how to get in to writing when you lack confidence in your ability to do so, and I found myself considering some advice that works for me, but might not be all that great for anyone else. Here’s what I didn’t say:
“Write. Keep writing. Don’t stop until you hate yourself for doing it. Then stop, because tomorrow you’re going to do it again.”
I have forgotten the last day I spent without writing anything, I carry a notebook in my manbag, I have a notepad installed on every mobile device I own, at work I carry notepads that get consumed faster when writing notes than on actual work related purposes, and even when I’m ill, or depressed, I’ll excise my frustration through words, or simply force myself to put pen to paper, hand to keyboard, black to white in some form so that I can say “today I created something”.
It works for me, I’ve looked back over some of my old work and, while I appreciate a lot of the ideas behind some of my old pieces – even on GeekOut – I still mark several differences in my writing style since I began. Even now I’m writing this at… let’s see, 00:51, ten-to-one in the morning, having woken up at an obscene hour to start the day, desperately constructing a quiz for tomorrow’s (today’s) GeekOut Shrewsbury Meet, printing the bomb defusal manual for Keep Talking And Nobody Explodes, and getting the daily duties done like eating a real meal and not just coffee and another cookie.
I do it because it makes me productive. It forces me to strive, and to accomplish, to complete projects that I set out to achieve, like the books I’m working on, the company I’m trying to set up, something more than watching all of Deep Space 9 so that I can draw judgemental comparisons to Babylon 5. And dammit I have kept to my schedule of work, producing regular content for GeekOut, beavering away at side-projects, and getting things done.
I wrote the comment above, and deleted it, in that dramatic “hold down the backspace button even though you don’t have to” fashion. Why would I encourage someone wanting to enjoy an old hobby to dive so fanatically into it in the way I have? If they had the mad devotion to writing I have then surely they wouldn’t need the advice, and if they take that advice they’ll soon lose interest in writing.
I don’t draw for example. I can draw, and I’ve no doubt I could get good at it if I devoted myself to the task, but why would I do that when a quiet doodle every now and again helps me relax after a month of hard written work? I enjoy it enough, and tend to destroy my sketches once they’re done to my satisfaction, but I take no pride in the work or set much store by the end product. It is fun.
Ultimately, if you enjoy something enough that you are willing to exhaust yourself to do it, then you are going to get good. That goes for writing, drawing, programming, the physical activities, or even public speaking. Bur don’t motivate yourself out of a good thing. Keep your hobbies as just that, and only let your passions consume you.
… Yeah, that’s what I should have wrote at the time!