Meditative Monday: Writing Is Discovery, Learning To Become More Comfortable Your Work & Updates!

New Look!

Hey everybody! If you’re a follower of this blog, you may have noticed the new look and the new name. Don’t worry. You’re still at ZenZone, but it’s undergoing a little rebranding experiment.¬†It’s an idea that I’ve been tossing around for a little bit and now I’ve finally gotten the courage to test it out and see how I feel about it.

Now, you also may have noticed that there hasn’t been any Wednesday posts or Friday posts in a while. This is because finishing my first book and learning more about publishing brought up the nasty problem of how to balance my time between social media, marketing, reading, learning programming, meditation, and writing.

What was happening was that I often rushed around like a headless chicken on blog post days trying to make posts, and it wound up cutting into my writing time a lot because I’d procrastinate which led to more time wasted and trying to force myself to finish just led to more procrastination.

As a result that just led to a bunch of mediocre posts that I often don’t get the time to check on, or was just too burnt out to check correctly.

And for that I’m truly sorry.

In order to break the cycle of suffering, I decided to take a more mindful approach to the blog. Instead of doing a bunch of posts during the week, there will only be Meditative Mondays that are guaranteed (unless something happens that calls for a mid-week post, of course). Meditative Mondays are the ones that I enjoy most, so I’ll concentrate my efforts to try to make those better.

As for whether Wednesday and Friday will actually come back, I’m not sure. But if I do have the opportunity to put a good one up, I’ll certainly do my best to put it up for you guys. ūüôā

Now The Actual Meditative Monday Part ūüėÄ

Tea? Check.  Monday? Check. Existential thoughts? Check.

Alright people, let’s roll. It’s Meditative Monday.

And today, I’d like to talk about I wonder about a lot and I’m always trying to figure out different ways to solve.

How do you help people like their writing? How do you help someone else become comfortable on the page and have them tell anxiety, depression, or whatever insecurities they have to take a hike?

Now this isn’t a new topic here on the blog, but I do want to come at it in a newish way.

I had to self-reflect and ask myself why my personal anxieties don’t bug me. Now don’t take this to mean that I don’t have them. I¬†do.¬†

But I’ve realized that this tends to only affect me after I get up from my writing space when I’m surfing the web and indulging in some bit of negative news that I really shouldn’t be reading in the first place, or if I’m looking at reviews of books or looking at my sales dashboard.

Those goshdarn no-nos.

But writing time is bulletproof unfuckwithable time. Why? It kinda boiled down to one question for me.

How Do You View Writing?

Not just the project you’re working on right now, but writing in general?

Do you write sentences and then delete it because you think it sounds stupid? Do you stare at a blank screen to afraid to put anything down? Do you go over what you’ve written and just hate it? Do you constantly wonder who the heck is gonna read this shit?

All these thoughts are all yucky negatives. And I used to have do it too.

But I stopped having these thoughts somewhere around my second year of college when two things started happening.

One. I decided to step up and get better at writing.

This was simple enough. It was just a matter of read book x and practice until I had the concepts down.

Two. I stopped looking at writing as a peacock fest to show out and instead looked at it as a place to discover new things and to have fun.

This, I feel, is hard if you are not disciplined with writing and improving every day. It’s a case of that age old phrase “Idle hands are the devil’s playthings.”

It’s very hard to criticize yourself when you’re too busy being surprised at what your characters are doing on the page. It’s also hard to criticize yourself when you’re having a lot of fun and understand that you are still learning as a writer.

Treating writing as discovery is what made it a lot of fun for me. It made me more curious about the world and the people around me, and that curiosity, ironically, also made me better at writing because I became a lot more willing to experiment and explore even through my mistakes.

This is also why you have to admire kids. When we’re all little, we don’t care that our stick figure’s head is too big or small or if it makes Meryl Streep’s butt look too saggy.

Kids just do whatever they want and then they pick it up and show it to the world with more bravery than most of our adult selves have. And no inner voice telling them that it’s wrong or stupid.

They just enjoy it because it’s fun.

And we writers/ artists/ creatives forget that all the time.

But writing can be a positive space. It should be a positive space that you want to return to again and again. And that’s where treating writing as discovery shines.

It’s also why I’m a big advocate of freewriting. But now I’m starting to be fond of¬†morning pages too! And different methods of journaling. Since most of us on here are writers already, journaling isn’t that much of a stretch from what we’re used to doing.

But whatever method you choose, try to relax, and don’t put too much pressure on yourself. No one has to see it. No one has to know. And even if you don’t want to journal, don’t worry about that manuscript being perfect. Worry about it getting done.

After all, no one can discover you if you’re not out there, can they? ūüėČ

 

 

Meditative Monday: Writing Simply, Embracing Clarity

A wise English Literature once said: “Clarity is God.”

Clarity is important. Arguably the most important part of writing to learn.

Why?

If no one understands what the heck you’re trying to say, you may as well have handed them a blank page. And that’s not a good feeling to have after you’ve slaved over your work for hours/months/years.

But the thing about clarity is that it’s not always erm…clear how to get it right. After all, schooling tends to only teach us how bullshit by stuffing our sentences with a bunch of filler in the hopes that our professor/teacher will give us a decent grade.

However, this is what comes back to bite us on the booty big time.

Bullshitting can get you under a grader’s nose (sometimes), but it can’t get you into a reader’s heart.

But how exactly does one write with clarity?

1.) Keep It Simple With Word Economy

It’s not a coincidence that shorter sentences are the ones that we get right away. The longer a sentence is, the more a reader has to juggle your words to understand you. And if you’ve ever tried to juggle balls before in your life, you’d know that things tend to not be that easy after two.

So, if you can say what you need to say in less words without losing any major impact…cut, cut, cut.

I don’t know if any of you can relate, but I’ve never been praised for writing a long-ass overly complicated sentence. For writing simply and concisely though? Yes.

2.) Focus Like A Laser, Stay On Topic

This may sound like it’s only about the more technical types of writing, but it can happen in fiction too!

In fiction it tends to be watery descriptions that drift way off from our original intent. Or in some cases, descriptions that we get so caught up in that we don’t realize that they don’t actually describe anything at all aka. negative descriptions or the “it’s not A/B/C” treatment.

Sometimes it’s dialogue that meanders all over the place. I get sucked into this one from time to time, but I’ve gotten better at catching it.

As far as articles are concerned, it’s important not to get too caught up in side stories and irrelevant information.

3.) Be Exact, But Not Purple Prose-ish

Don’t say equine when you mean horse. Don’t say dog when you really mean shiba inu.

It might seem nit-picky, but word choice is extremely important. The mark of a descriptive master is the ability to pick the most precise word that the sentence needs without sounding like a pompous buttonhole. Bonus points if you can pull off poetic effects.

But of course this can also spark the debate of where do you draw the line of being exact and being a buttonhole?

And the way I answer that question is this…

Are you using the words that you¬†must¬†use to get your point across? If you lose critical sentence information, then yes, always keep that word. If you can find a simpler word that does the same exact thing, dump it like last week’s gumbo.

But Always Practice, Practice, Practice

Never do something once and call it quits if you’re genuinely trying to master it. Everything worth doing takes time and hustle. But clarity is something worth working on. Since it improves not just your writing projects, but your speeches, essays and other communication activities too!

 

 

 

Meditative Monday: Reflecting On The Indie vs Traditional Debate: What’s It About Really?

*sniff* Ahh.

Time to down a fresh cup of Meditative Monday.

Though before we begin, I have to apologize for the lack of Fun Friday last week. I was having some internet issues that didn’t get fully resolved until mid-Saturday. Currently, I’m debating on whether or not to keep Wednesday and Friday posts since writing is consuming quite a bit of time. I don’t want to waste time on posts you guys don’t like.

But we’re back today and revisiting that argument that will probably get more and more common as e-book publishing grows.

Indie or Traditional?

And the only way to answer this is with this question…

1.) What In The Name Of Horse-Boogers Do You Actually Want Out Of Your Writing?

Prestige? Decent Hardcovers? Bookstore shelf space? Want a shot at those hardcore serious awards? Willing to wait a hell of a long time with no guarantee

Go traditional my friend. Self-publishing makes these things significantly harder.

But do you care about the rights of your work? Are you willing to learn the skills that you need to stay afloat? Would you get mad if a publisher did things without your knowledge or consent? Are you willing to shell out money to get your editing/ covers/ formatting done if you can’t do these yourself?

If yes, then consider joining the indie family.

However, there are a people who do both! Such as in the case of Chuck Wendig.

Personally, I’m interested in a hybrid path of splitting print rights with a publisher, but that’s about as far as I’m willing to give on the rights front if things come to that. My other rights, I want to be able to give away at my discretion because there’s a lot of potential for things to go wrong with brand issues that could pretty much tear my books to shreds.

If you’re in the middle of writing your manuscript, or finishing one up, this is something that you don’t want to consider lightly. It costs to get your¬†rights back¬†if you sign them away haphazardly. But at the same time, not everyone is going to be willing to take on a book that easily if they know its been self-published.

Do people get picked from self-publishing? Yes.

Do authors buy their rights back and make better use of them? Also, yes.

So do give it a lot of thought.

2.) How Much Marketing Are You Willing To Do?

If you were on the train of ‘I’m going traditional because I don’t want to bother with marketing’, this is the station where you’re going to want to get off.

Marketing is not avoidable.

At least not avoidable if you want to eat more than ramen and 19 cent bananas from Trader Joe’s.

You gotta think about it from the publisher and book retailer perspective.¬†When you go to the book store or even on online retailers, who’s on the front tables with their covers open?

Stephen King. JK Rowling. Big names, most of the time.

Where do the average Joes that sell decent go? To the shelves. Spine out. A reader has to work a little to get to them.

Now let’s say, I’m a reader and you’re a new writer. I have no clue who you are and no clue if you’re any good. There are millions of titles in the store and I can’t stick around all day to gag around. Who am I most likely going to pick up?

Probably the author that I already know.

Why?¬†Because s/he already has a good track record and I know that they’re worth the drive down to the bookstore.

That’s why publishers bust their bum to market the big names. Small names? Eh. They’ll let you sit on the shelves for a little bit, but if you’re not making much money after launch, then you’re going to have an uphill battle.

Shelf space is limited in the store. They can only have so many copies of you and other people out where the customers are.¬†Sure people can find you on Amazon and other markets, but there’s still the hurdle of people not knowing you.

Some readers like their name brands. Some people are curious and like to give new people a chance. Some people only do it if the price barrier is low enough.

There’s so many variables that could drag you down, which is why marketing is a¬†must.

It’s natural to feel icky about it. It’s easy to do it wrong and come off sleazy, but understand that marketing isn’t about being sleazy or running around like the town crier.

Joanna Penn puts it much better than me, I think. She defines it as “sharing what you love with people who want to hear about it”.

And I agree. Particularly on the people who¬†want¬†to hear about it front. Just like with writing your novel, it’s important to never bash someone over the head with your news.

3.) Where Do You See Yourself And Writing In X Amount of Years?

I know. That age-old job interview question that probably makes you roll your eyes by now.

But you’ve got to be realistic here. You’re devoting hours of your time to craft a this novel/ self-help guide/ whatever have you. And success in our industry is more often a perseverance game.

JK Rowling had to play. Stephen King had to play. Hugh Howey had to play. Joanna Penn had to play.

If you only want one book, there’s a lot of work to be done to get yourself on people’s radars. If you want to write a series, prospects are a little easier for discovering you but naturally that means there’s more work to do.

But the good thing about this is that regardless of whether you’re traditional, indie, or hybrid you can make your living as an author and be well-off as long as you’re willing to do the work.

ūüôā

 

 

Wu Wei Wednesday: Why Characters Get Out Of Hand And Understanding Them Better

It’s only 8:20 AM and the battlefield is quiet.

A lone tumbleweed rolls across the barren land just like a blockbuster western, but today you’re not here to stop and smell the cliches.

Today you are here to fight.

The only ones left in the resistance are you, your editor, a handful of beta readers, and Joe, but Joe’s Wednesday schedule is sketchy so he might have to leave early.

And it’s all of you (Joe being tentative) versus your novel.

You survey the land quietly. The wind kicks up dust and in the wake of it you see something moving. You squint.

What is that?

You step forward, but your editor blocks you with an arm. Then she raises her rifle. “Don’t go near it. That’s a main character.”

A main character? Your main character?

Joe looks just as terrified as you do, but that could be because he has a meeting at 2:30.

But as the dust clears, the grotesque thing coming toward you looks nothing like your main character. It crawls with one arm. One eye is blue from the explosion of page 33. Its back is disfigured from lack of development. It mutters in nonstop unrealistic dialogue.

And its not alone.

A whole army of wild undeveloped characters are behind it.

The apocalypse has come.

Just kidding no it hasn’t. You’re probably fine.

But all dystopian jokes aside, the scenario above does happen on a less dramatic scale. Sometimes, we’re in the middle of writing a scene and envisioning what happens when our imaginations throw us a complete screwball.

We think that they want bacon and eggs for breakfast, but really they just want to oogle the waitress at the bar. We think that they’re the most selfish scumbag on the face of the planet and then they throw themselves into a burning building to save a child. We think that we know them inside and out, then they do something else to show us that we don’t.

And it can be frustrating if you have no idea what’s going on.

This frustration usually comes from having strict expectations not being met aka having a strong chokehold on your book, or, on the other side of the spectrum, having no clue  what to do at all.

But understanding why this happens takes a little bit of theory so let me explain…

1.) Stories Are About Change, Characters Are Agents Of Change And Respond To It Accordingly

Unless you’re writing something metaphysical and bizarre, your characters have human qualities. Doesn’t matter if your MC is a cat. Doesn’t matter if it’s an alien from Riptar. Doesn’t matter if you try to be 100% objective (which is not possible). If it talks it’s human-like. If it thinks, it’s human-like. If it feels, it’s human-like.

And humans are not static. We change our minds as we age. We adjust our habits as calamity barrels into our living rooms in the form of the Kool-aid Man.

Thinking a character will behave the same way throughout a story is sketchy at best. Machines do that. Machines have to be updated or preprogrammed to do different things.

Characters make pretty damn awful machines. They’re too organic. They change without your direct programming.

And here’s why…

2.) The Best Place To Get To Know A Character Is In A Scene

I have to give props to The Art of Character by David Colbert. He’s part of the reason why I’ve abandoned my character charts and lists in favor of Character Sketches.

The Art Of Character advocates to always imagine your characters as part of scenes. This is because a scene, assuming you haven’t committed it to anything yet, is just like a natural story environment. Your character has to show up fully formed and do something they have to develop their own inner code of conduct right then and there. It’s a total sink or swim situation.

And a character in a scene will sink or swim very fast.

A list or a chart, while very helpful, is just that: a list of disembodied elements. Disembodied elements do not translate well on the page unless you can imagine them in scenes. Your MC’s foot fetish will probably not (and should not) show up you can give it some significance in a scene.

And this is where we often get stumped because our ducks looked like they were lined in a row from the outside, but because we only see the character responding to their part in the scene we don’t get what “suddenly changed”.

Which brings me to my next point…

3.) The Next Best Place To Get To Know A Character Is In Their Backstory

You might be wondering why this isn’t the best place. You also might be wondering if I’m advocating you to consider shoeing in some backstory for your WIP.

HELL NO.

That sounds a little extreme so let me put it in better terms…

Backstory, for the most part, is, and should be, just for your knowledge. You keep it in the back of your mind like the pipes that run under your house. You don’t run around asking us to look at the rust that’s probably been sitting there since the Civil War.

Now, of course that doesn’t mean don’t use it. There’s a time, place, and a creative use for everything, but most of the time, we don’t need a flashback.

But you do need to know what your character has been through so that you understand what a character will most likely do.

4.) But Know That Characters Will Canoodle Anyway‚Ķ Even If You’re Prepared

And being surprised isn’t a bad thing. It’s a good thing.

After all…

No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.

 

Meditative Monday: A Reflection On How 540+ Pages Of Freewriting Changed My Writing For The Better

At the end of 2015, I didn’t think much of it.

I would open my Macbook and dabble in Scrivener with little expectations. I’d go through my craft books and try new things, practice old techniques, sharpen my skills.

Now fast-forward to today.

I pick up my scuffed Android phone that’s been dropped more times than the bass in EDM songs, open up its calculator app, and punch in 27x 20.

27 stands for the number of freewrite documents that I’ve completed.¬†20 stands for the average number of pages per document.

So you could probably understand my initial shock when I ran those numbers.

540 pages. Of just¬†freewriting.¬†That’s more pages than some novels!

No plot. No story.

Just scrabbles, dabbles, and ideas.

And that’s what I want to talk to ya’ll about here. The good things that happen when I made freewriting a habit.

1.) I Realized That There Is No Such Thing As Running Out Of Ideas

You may run out of ideas at that moment in time due to burnout, but you can’t “run out of ideas”.

It’s impossible. I realized this when I began the personal experiment writing 10,000 words a day.

I’d always think that I’d hit some kind of peak or brain fart, but in reality that never happened. Instead,¬†I only got tired. Sure that tiredness made me want to stop, but the ideas themselves never did.

Even when you find yourselves coming back to the same ideas, you never represent them in the same way. Coffee shop settings and oceans are my poison. So are dawns and sunsets. But every dawn and sunset is never the same. One dawn might look thick and oily like a Van Gogh. Another might look streaky and wet like bleeding watercolors. But the associations and portrays are endless and that makes those old ideas fresh again.

And the good thing is that when you keep a bank, you have ideas that you can go back to at any time. It’s especially useful for when things get slow.

2.) My Writing Improved Much Faster Compared To Only Writing My Novels

This I chalk up to the fact that it’s naturally more difficult to shove something into a story. To me a story is like a living breathing creature. Feed it good stuff and it’ll stay healthy for quite a bit.

Feed it garbage from the abyss?¬†Well, don’t be surprised if it keels over like a dead goldfish. Or mutates.

With a novel you have to worry about character motivations, story plot, people’s wants, and making sense. Freewriting? Not so much.

However, the lack of structure and novel rules are what helped me improve most because the average freewriting pieces might just be a bunch of jumbled words, phrases, and sentences that I type down fast. So across on a page, I can do a lot of iterations of the same kind of exercise, push the results that I like, toss out the duds, and adjust everything as needed.

This kind of approach became infinitely more helpful than “do random stuff I see in a How-To book and try it once or twice and then give up in frustration” kind of thing.

And as a result, the stuff I’ve learned sticks a lot quicker.

3.) I Embraced The “Go With The Flow” Mentality More And Let Go Of Having Strict Expectations

I don’t know about you, but nothing short-circuits my brain quite like saying, “I’m going to sit down and write about A/B/C/D/ insert-said-topic-here.” The moment I sit down and do that my brain usually says, “Nah, don’t feel like it right now.”

Naturally, you can imagine that would make writing a nightmare. It did. I would get frustrated when scenes spiraled out of control and try to power wrestle plot back into the order I had on my outlines. And when I tried to write about things and try to push scenes, they felt flat.

Now this doesn’t mean I’m advocating any kind of “only write when inspired” mentality. That’s bullshit and it gets nothing done.

But what I did learn from freewriting is to remove my chokehold from my work. And instead of tossing in the towel, I started to get an intuitive feel for the way what works in my writing and what doesn’t. Also, I learned to let better scenes surface without force.

4.) I Started Thinking More “Outside The Box”

This one is more of a recent development that I’m excited about. And one that I’d like to push the bar on even more in the future.

Lately, I’ve been obsessed with how stories are presented, and how to incorporate the entire book in the act of storytelling. One way this surfaces is in my book Vicissitude where ¬†the book is structured in the form of a temple. So from the very moment you see it on the product page, you are already engaged into this sort of pilgrimage.

But a few days ago, another idea had crossed my mind. I was writing my other novel and I’d been a bit concerned because the new MC I’m dealing with loves cooking, but it seemed impractical and impossible to get him to cook all the time in the story.

I was wondering if I’d have to change him from being a mailman to being a chef, but that seemed even worse.

A freewrite gave me a solution like this:

Half-cup skin like fresh cream. Sprinkle in skeins of cinnamon for her long hair, ends that curl like swirls. Pert lips in a strawberry smile. Eyelashes that flutter more gently than powdered sugar.

And this:

A big man. Toasted deeply with small raisin eyes baked in. Arms tough as whole roasts and his face seasoned with no-nonsense.

Of course, I have to refine the technique some more, but the idea of a character seeing his world and the people around him in cooking term is something that I’m playing around with and I find that it’s a lot of fun.

Because think about it…smells and tastes are usually the hardest to incorporate into a novel. We see with our eyes all the time, but we don’t eat and smell things all the time. But I figure that this way, it’s a lot easier to engage those neglected senses and my MC is still cooking without actually making him cook unnecessarily.

5.) I Started Getting Better At Capturing Raw Emotions And Intriguing Moments By Being Fully Present

 

Writing about feelings is hard.

We don’t always understand why that grandma on the corner pisses us off even though she’s not doing anything. We don’t understand why we cry suddenly in the middle of doing something completely mundane. We barely understand ourselves, and yet somehow as writers we’re expected to carefully choreograph someone’s emotions and photoshop them to make it seem realistic.

But for me, freewriting helped me out by acting a little bit like meditation. Sink into the present moment, focusing on the sensations and let the distracting thoughts pass peacefully. Or in some cases, let them inspire you.

It became a hell of a lot easier to sit still in the chair for a writing session after freewriting compared to doing it cold. And when I did freewrite, I didn’t get stuck as often in the middle of it because I was “warmed up”.

6.) And Finally…

One of¬†the biggest benefits I’ve had with freewriting is becoming happier with my writing as a whole. It’s definitely a habit I’m keeping up with.

I’m looking forward to another 500+ pages of freewriting ideas to look back on and comb through to discover some old diamonds I left behind.

Until next time~

 

 

 

Fun Friday: The Godforsaken Mission To Read Entirely New Genres

I don’t know if it’s just me, or this very suspicious gothic music I have playing in the background as I write this, but…

*shudder*

I’ve made a deal. Not the soul-selling kind mind you (I’m 63% sure that my soul would bounce if I tried to sell it.) It’s a little deal with myself. Probably more of an experiment.

I know I’m late for New Years goals and what not, but the experiment is to branch out into reading books in genres that I’ve never read before as well as reading things by new authors that I’ve never been exposed to. I’m a major fantasy and nonfiction junkie, but I dabble in literary fiction sometimes, so there’s lots of room for enlightenment.

I’m already knees deep in this experiment but you can probably already guess from the title and the beginning of this article that shenanigans have already happened.

Ahem.

Allow me to share…

The Amazeballs

I bet you weren’t expecting this to be a section! But yes, I came across some books that were pretty gosh darn good.

  • Dawn (The Xenogenesis Trilogy Book 1) by Octavia Butler.¬†I’d heard great tales from the bards that sing praises of the legendary Butler, but I’d always been hesitant to try her out because of my fantasy roots. I’d always imagined Sci-fi as Fantasies dry and awkward brother, and they never really appealed to me. But I’m glad I tried her out.

In an earlier review about The Midnight Sea, I mentioned the dangerous expectations that come with claiming that a story has some ‘moral weight’ or ‘extra meat’. But Octavia Butler more than exceeded those expectations. At the end of the novel, I was feeling wonderfully uncomfortable with my humanity and questioning what it actually means to be human (and if that humanity was even a good thing!). Her work doesn’t hide behind any flowery prose. It’s blunt, raw, and honest just the way I like it and I’d recommend it to anyone who might be bored with their usual reading.

  • ¬†Songs Of Insurrection:¬†A Legends of Tivara Story (The Dragon Songs Saga Book 1) by JC Kang.¬†I know what you’re thinking. Destine‚Ķ this is a fantasy book. I know! D:> But it is a subgenre I don’t ordinarily get a chance to read (Asian Fantasy). I’m only a little bit into the story, but I’m enjoying it immensely.

The Hmm…?

  • Contract: Snatch by Ty Hutchinson.¬†The first thriller that I tried to read and I’m not quite sure how to feel about it. On one hand, I feel like I should applaud him because I feel like he went all out on trying to make Sei a heartless assassin which is what she is. But at the same time, I felt like it was a double-edged sword because 1) this is a stereotype that kind of makes me just groan now and 2) the danger of this stereotype is that it is very hard to attach to Sei as a character and care apart from the obvious danger. I stuck with it because it’s fast-paced, though sometimes a little too fast paced that I go ‘huh?’ But even still, I am willing to try more thrillers to get a feel for the genre.

The WTF asdjkhkasfajh????

  • Shades of Pearl by Arianne Richmonde.¬†*shudder* Erotica. Now I’ll be fair. I didn’t hate it. The food descriptions (not the food on people!) were to die for. Arianne can make me feel like I’m on vacation, but sometimes the sex and the relationship was kinda‚Ķquestionable. This is probably another case of needing to ‘read around’ more because I don’t want to base my experience of an entire genre on just this book.

  • The Mystic Wolves (Mystic Wolves# 1) by Belinda Boring.¬†*cringe* My first exposure to paranormal shifter romances and I’m not sure I want another touch. I need a strong drink to recover from this one before I try again in this genre. This is a book that you have to read to believe, but at the same time I don’t dare recommend it. Be warned.

Overall…

Despite some hiccups and flipped tables, this is an experiment I’m enjoying a lot. I’m looking forward to reading big names in other genres such as Stephen King and Amanda Hocking but also to discovering new unknown authors.

Let’s hope I survive the gauntlet.

Until next time~

Wu Wei Wednesday: Writing Is The Marathon, Not The Sprint

The age we live in really is something, folks.

These days you can order your favorite coffee and have it on your doorstep the next day. Sometimes the same day before 8pm! We’re constantly connected to endless information. We’ve got entertainment for days in our homes more often than not.

And that’s where the problem is.

Now, the obvious jabs at distractions and social media aside. As writers, we have to be careful not to become sprint runners, by which I mean, thinking of our books as the end destination of all our efforts.

More and more these days, I’m learning the importance of shifting the way I think about writing from being a short term sprint to being a lifelong marathon.

Unless of course, you’re only planning to only write one book in your life. But for the rest of us that want writing to be a full-on career, here’s some things you might want to remember.

1.) Don’t Put So Much Pressure Hyping The Launch!

Of course, I’m not saying to not build buzz around your book. But Jeff Goins probably put this in better words,

‚ÄúThe biggest danger to an author,‚ÄĚ says Jeff Goins, ‚Äúis spending all their energy on a launch.‚ÄĚ

I was guilty of this for a little while before my book came out. I was thinking that I had to have everything all set up right at the moment I hit ‘publish’. And I was panicking unnecessarily because I didn’t and that panicking lead to spending more energy on trying to fix things.

And that my friends, just lead to more panicking.

So you can imagine the huge breath of relief I took when I was read this:

In fact, launch sales are generally disappointing compared to what happens once the Amazon algorithms kick in and you get some traction around reviews and reputation.

Joanna Penn, Author 2.0 Blueprint

Yeah.

This is why you don’t want to fall into “sprint thinking”. And I won’t lie, sometimes it’s hard to see past what’s happening in your sales right now, but you gotta remember that stores like Amazon want people to buy stuff that they might like. So they’re a lot more likely to push the bestsellers that already have glowing reviews and new releases of authors that already have a presence on the site rather than your unknown book.

And since we’re on that note…

2.) Don’t Put So Much Pressure On The First Book Either!

Again, I’m not completely sure how you get around this if you’re done after one book, aside from some major advertising hustle.

I knew this to some extent, but knowing it doesn’t always let it sink in fully until you’re out there doing it. When you’ve stewed with a book for so long, especially your first, it’s 100% natural that you’d want to blare all the airhorns and run down the street with it.

But don’t.

News stories like to overhype the breakout successes so much that we buy into the idea that our first book can be like that too. Take for example Hugh Howey, you might know him as the guy who wrote “Wool”. Wool is defined as his “breakout success” sure…

But it was his seventh book. Seven. Which means that he already had an audience waiting and primed to talk about Wool when it came out.

And when you look at writers who do have a lot of success like J.A. Konrath and Amanda Hocking, they have a lot of books out aka multiple streams of book income across the different bookstores.

I know that’s not always what we enjoy hearing when you’re barely finishing or barely starting your first book. Writing as a career really is about the long haul and where you want to be in the future.

So try to relax a little bit and don’t fall into the first book as the special snowflake.

You’ll get there if you keep writing.