Friday, July 26, 2013


Ah, the wonderful world of reading. I do not know a writer who does not love to read. I’m staring at four piles of abandoned books right now that I must find something to do with. Yes, four piles. Long before I called myself a writer, I was a reader.

I’ve been actively writing, editing, and polishing for about a year now. I take breaks for sanity’s sake after I finish a draft of some story. I play games for a bit and let myself relax. After about two days, I start getting bored. I want to read.

What I’ve been doing is picking up the next story in the series and reading that, in order to begin the editing process. This helps me in my craft, but after a while, I do get bored reading things I’ve written. I can forget what a character said and exactly how they got out of such a place, but it’s hard to be truly surprised when you’re reading a work that you have written yourself.

After finishing the edit of my Monster Book (what would you call 85 chapters?), I decided to give myself a well-earned break. I did not start on the next book, but instead was determined to relax. That didn’t last long. I looked back over my first story. Then I started having computer issues, forcing me to take a step back from everything.

Finally, I picked up a book that I had purchased two months before and never read. Yes, two months had passed and I hadn’t bothered to read the first page. I was planning to do so once I got a break from writing. Anyway, it took a bit to get into this particular story, but I read it within four days. I immediately picked up another book of mine that I had read before and began it again.

I’ve read three different stories I’ve penned during my break, not for editing purposes, but just to enjoy as a reader. These particular documents have not been read in a while, so the distance helped me enjoy it.

I’m enjoying my reading break. When I get back to editing, I know this break will have done me good. I can look over things with fresh eyes.

Writers, don’t forget in your struggles that one day someone will turn to your book for enjoyment. Pick up a book and be a reader for a bit. Once you’re done, return to your keyboard. Try to write a better one, if you can.

Friday, July 19, 2013

When All Else Fails (Write!)

Naturally, right after I decide to update again, I forget to post. Sorry about that!  I will be back next week, even if I have to write myself a note in order to remember my new blogging schedule.
All dedicated writers have had the days where they cannot stand to look at their story. They are convinced it is a miserable failure, and they have no reason to ever write again. They are certain the naysayers were right, they have no original plot, and there is no way to tell their tale from a unique angle.

Today’s blog post is for you, discouraged writers. I say it often enough in November, but I’ve neglected to mention it much since then. You are not a failure.

“But I’m doing it wrong!” You exclaim. “You haven’t heard of my plot hole. You haven’t read my giant mess that’s supposed to be my climax.”

You are not a failure. You are learning. Such things take time. You will make mistakes, but you will learn from each of them. You will learn the correct way to craft a story and the best way to overcome that infuriating plot hole simply by writing. And writing. And writing some more.

First off, everyone benefits from breaks. If you’re the kind of person who might take a break and never come back to it, be sure to set a time frame. Check your story at the end of this. Once you can look at it with fresh eyes that don’t cross in ten minutes, you’re ready to tackle the problem again.

Once you’ve benefitted from a break, your next step is both simple and difficult. You must start on your story again. You must find a way to keep writing, even when you don’t feel like it. I speak from experience: you will find a sense of immense accomplishment when you write when you don’t feel like it. For me, the scenes that I did not want to pen because of how difficult they were for the character were the ones that turned out to be my best scenes. And when a rewrite forced me to visit the dark places again, I did it. The story is stronger now because I forced myself to write.

It is natural to want to shy away from difficult scenes. It is natural to want to leave writing alone after a long day of work. But the only way you will make progress on your story is to consistently move forward when you would rather not.

Think of how you would feel if you were the character who was tossed into a pit and left there. Do not leave your characters in their dark places. Let them grow and change. Let them become stronger.

Keep writing, my friend. You are not a failure.

Friday, July 5, 2013

I'm Back!

Sorry that I've been MIA for so long. There have been other things in my life that have taken priority over updating the blog even on a weekly basis. Wednesday is not a good day for me to regularly update, so I will try Friday for a bit.

What have I been doing? There's an online game I play that's only around once a year. I was busy playing that last month, in between looking for a job and suddenly having a social life. Fortunately, I was NOT in the middle of editing or writing, so the break came at a perfect time for me.

For all five of my faithful readers, I do apologize.

Anyway, while I was playing my game, I discovered a neat trick relating to writing. I've heard it said for years that it's always best to hear your words read aloud. I've been fortunate to have a father that is willing to listen to me reading my stuff, but I can't get through a whole book like that.

A few years ago I decided to listen to my first book as I was cleaning up in the kitchen. I used the Adobe Reader program. While playing my game and listening to various music, I somehow remembered that Adobe had a read aloud feature.

It took some time to figure it out, but I found a way to listen to my stories while playing my mindless games. That way, I was being "productive." It would have helped if I made notes of what sounded wrong, but it still helped.

Now, if you happen to have both Word and Adobe on your computer, here's what you do. Take your finished document and save it as a PDF. Open Adobe and pull up the document. Under View, first set it to view a single page at a time. The last option under view is Read Out Loud. Select the option to Activate Read Out Loud.

Go to Document, and scroll down to Accessibility Setup Assistant. Keep hitting Next. On Screen 4 of 5, you will find the default option is to only show one page at a time if the document is over 50 pages. Select the middle option to read the entire document at once. Hit next again and select Done.

Go back to View. Scroll down to Read Out Loud and tell it to read to the end of the document.

Every now and then, the program will not obey and will ONLY read the current page. Move to the next page and tell it to read to the end of the document. If it disobeys again, close the program, go back to your last starting point, and turn on Read Out Loud again. It should work from there.

Now that you know how to listen to your work, you can join me in playing mindless games and still call that time productive. Or, you know, do chores or something. Have fun! See you next week!