Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Need for Speed!

My sweet little iBook, from whence all this blogging goodness emerges, can't keep up with me. It is incredibly frustrating to compose on a computer and have the words sometimes appear more slowly than I am typing. And it needs upgrades it can't handle (like Flash, grr, SLOW).

You can support my writing habit, er, career with the Smarty Pig widget on the right. Smarty Pig is basically a virtual piggy bank, and a set number of dollars goes into each month from my (our) account. My goal is to write at least ten times as many words each week as the amount of money deposited monthly. So far, doing pretty good (see previous post). Maybe I can get up to ten times as many daily, if this keeps up.

Every penny helps! Yes, I am shameless.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Finding the Groove

I don't want to toot my horn just yet (not too loudly, anyhow), but I am pleased that I seem to have settled on a writing routine that works. For the past four days (not counting Sunday), I wrote for at least an hour each morning.

This means getting up before my family at 5:45 A.M. and getting straight to work. Since I am not a morning person, this is challenging. Couple this with the fact that my family tends to keep me up late, and this is VERY challenging. However, the knowledge that the characters are waiting gets me moving after a couple of snooze-button mashes.

In this relatively short time, I've revised and submitted a short story to Strange Horizons. I also finished a new flash story (dream-inspired) temporarily titled "What's That Pinging Sound?" that clocks in at just under 1K, and I've added over 700 words to a story seed, as yet to be titled.

At the risk of sounding trite, routine periods of isolation are the most important gifts writers can give themselves. If writing is your job, or you wish it was, you have to set aside time to do it every single day.

I have shared outside the blog (and a little here) the value I'm getting out of Stephen King's On Writing. A few people have made disparaging remarks about the quality of King's work, but I am not deterred because his advice is solid and honest (and his success speaks for itself). It's not told me much that is radical and new, but it's given me permission to do what I know I should be doing. It's like having a mentor I can peek in on every few days, and when I do, he says "Try this," and "What are you waiting for?"

Routine writing, every day, AT HOME, is one piece of advice he gives. Stop hiding in the library carrel or at the coffee shop with your laptop. Your work needs to be housed in your space, as a part of your life, not away somewhere else.

I am happy that I've given myself permission to find this groove and stick with it.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Where to Get Ideas

If I could stop procrastinating, I could write at least fifty short stories from all the story-starters in my "percolator," a big blue binder that houses my writing life. I used to make the excuse that "I would write if I just had some ideas." But I have gobs of ideas; they fly at me from everywhere. Sometimes I capture them right away (QuickVoice, people!), but some escape.

My best places to get ideas, if you need a few:

  • Random words I overhear: ("I'd be dead by now if not for her," "We just wanted a quiet holiday, I swear," "This tractor is a time machine" (okay, my kid said the last one, but it's still pretty cool)
  • Michio Kaku's weekly science radio show, Explorations, on public radio
  • BoingBoing, a usually interesting blog (especially Gadgets)
  • Wired Magazine (they're kinda snarky and sensational sometimes, and have permanent wood for anything gadgety, but ideas emerge)
  • Dreams (really!)
Obviously, my ears perk up to tech topics, and that's where the fresh fodder for sci-fi hides out.

I think the key is to write down anything vaguely interesting or catchy, even if it sounds absurd (especially if it sounds absurd).