Daily Update, or Writing on my Pond

Writing on my Pond
Writing on my Pond

Current Word Count Stats

Today: [postwc] | Month: [postmonthwc] | Year: [postyearwc]

 Today

A funny thing happened this morning, an Earth Day synchronicity. The morning started out normally. I got up and went out for a run. As I was enjoying the early, pre-dawn run and looked at the trash scattered along the side of the road, I reflected that this was Earth Day.

Maybe, I thought, after work I should take a walk and pick up trash. 

It’s not much, but maybe something I could do. I finished the run and came back and had breakfast. While I ate I had iTunes randomly playing songs from my library using an ‘underplayed’ playlist that only has tracks that I haven’t played much, if at all.

And what did it play?

It seemed a very appropriate song for today, and all the more fun since it just came up on its own. Growing up I was a big fan of the Muppets. I was one of the kids that actually collected Muppet puppets, created my own stories.

The rest of the  day was fairly normal. I worked at the Day Job. I took breaks, and when I was on a break I took out the iPad, set a timer, and wrote. It was a good use of my breaks, with [postwc] words written. The novel is at almost 25,000 words now and continuing to be a lot of fun to write.

Other than that, I also spent some time working on art and publishing, so it was a pretty good day.

To catch up on other posts in this series, check out the contents page: Working Creatively With a Day Job.

If you enjoy these posts, please comment and share with others. It does take time that could be spent on other projects, so if you want to show additional support, consider picking up copies of my books or stories either for your own enjoyment, or for someone else.

Daily Update, or Choosing Happy

Grab On To Happiness
Grab On To Happiness

Current Word Count Stats

Today: [postwc] | Month: [postmonthwc] | Year: [postyearwc]

 Today

I woke up happy today. I got up, checked a few emails and then went out for a run. Not too far, a little under two miles. First I took a run up through the woods with my dog and then (leaving him home), I went out for my run in the street. I wore my Xero Shoes. I did some burpees at the the start and pretty much enjoyed the run. I didn’t get out this last week, so I wasn’t sure how it’d go, but I felt pretty good.

It was a day off work, which meant there were errands to run today. Afterward I spent time working on getting .epub and .mobi editions of Dreaming Dead Things created and uploaded to various sites in preparation for its reissue / relaunch at the end of the week. At this point that process goes pretty smoothly to use InDesign to create a validated .epub file. Once the files are done then it goes up on Gumroad to sell through Glittering Throng Press, and to retailers like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple and Smashwords (and from there to various other sites).

Off and on through the day I also worked on my current novel. Right now I’m happy with the novel and having fun. Sometimes novels go through difficult patches when it’s harder to keep going, but I haven’t hit that yet. May not at all. It doesn’t happen with every book. Mostly I’m just having fun.

I also took breaks, played games, read and enjoyed the day. Only problem? Too short. Back to the Day Job tomorrow, so I’ll need to be focused to get everything done.

To catch up on other posts in this series, check out the contents page: Working Creatively With a Day Job.

If you enjoy these posts, please comment and share with others. It does take time that could be spent on other projects, so if you want to show additional support, consider picking up copies of my books or stories either for your own enjoyment, or for someone else.

Daily Update, or Four Weeks of Creativity and Writing With a Day Job

More Dead Things
More Dead Things

Current Word Count Stats

Today: [postwc] | Month: [postmonthwc] | Year: [postyearwc]

 Today

One of the fun things today was watching my son’s expression when he saw his Easter basket. He doesn’t believe in the Easter Bunny, but he still had fun today. He also had some post-sugar meltdowns, but mostly I think he had fun.

Holiday or not, I still had quite a bit of work to do. I wanted to work on the cover for Dreaming Dead Things (sample above). I still have to finish up creating new e-book files before it’ll be available. Hopefully by the end of the week!

I did set aside some time to write, but not as much as I’d like. I spent a lot of time working on the cover for the book, and less time on writing. Between that, holiday activities, watching House M.D., reading and even some games my word count isn’t quite finished. I think I’m just going to accept the lower count today and do better tomorrow.

Speaking of tomorrow, I’m feeling better. I need to get back into working out. Hopefully I start doing that tomorrow.

This post also marks four full weeks of daily updates. It’s amazing that four weeks has already gone past! I’m finding that posting about my progress, my thoughts, and the challenges of writing while at working full-time day job is interesting. I’m also enjoying creating daily sketches. Usually I don’t spend as much time on it as I did today, but the practice is good.

To catch up on other posts in this series, check out the contents page: Working Creatively With a Day Job.

If you enjoy these posts, please comment and share with others. It does take time that could be spent on other projects, so if you want to show additional support, consider picking up copies of my books or stories either for your own enjoyment, or for someone else.

Daily Update, or Drawing Dead Things

Drawing Dead Things
Drawing Dead Things

Current Word Count Stats

Today: [postwc] | Month: [postmonthwc] | Year: [postyearwc]

 Today

I had planned on releasing the new edition of Dreaming Dead Things, previously published under my Tennessee Hicks pen name. I’ve been making progress on the new edition, but it isn’t ready yet. Maybe next week.

I’m still getting over not feeling well this week, but I’ve been able to have fun working on the book through that anyway. That’s been about it. Between being tired and the day job I haven’t found time for anything else, but I hope that turns around this weekend.

To catch up on other posts in this series, check out the contents page: Working Creatively With a Day Job.

If you enjoy these posts, please comment and share with others. It does take time that could be spent on other projects, so if you want to show additional support, consider picking up copies of my books or stories either for your own enjoyment, or for someone else.

Daily Update, or Playing Chicken With Your Writing

Playing Chicken
Playing Chicken

Current Word Count Stats

Today: [postwc] | Month: [postmonthwc] | Year: [postyearwc]

 Today

The other day writer Jeff Ambrose posted about fears.

The fear of rejection, and the fear of making mistakes are the biggest two, I think.

Fear is one of the biggest things that anyone creating art faces. It’s always there, always coming up when you don’t expect it. Like a hydra, you chop off one head and two more come up. Rejection and mistakes, sure, and deeper ones. Voices echoing around in your head, like a bunch of one-star reviewers.

“You’ll never make it as a writer.”

“Writing sucks. Characters unbelievable.”

“Why send the story to Big Market? They’ll never buy it.”

“You can’t write science fiction.”

Fears get in the way of sending your work out into the world. Either to markets or online. I started out creating pen names for each genres, until I realized that it was another form of fear. How else could readers identify the genre? Well, the design, art, title, and blurb would probably give the readers clues. It was the fear that somehow people wouldn’t know what they were getting.

I have fears that I won’t reach my goals with my writing. One of my biggest fears is running out of time.

When I was younger I had the crazy notion that this would all be easier. I expected to work, sure, but I had the notion that it would all just sort of happen. Guess what? Things didn’t happen that easily and it fed the fears.

The thing is, I think fear is useful. Facing your fears, that’s the key. Doing the thing that scares you, challenges you, or makes you work. If it was easy, if it wasn’t scary, then I’m probably doing something wrong.

To catch up on other posts in this series, check out the contents page: Working Creatively With a Day Job.

If you enjoy these posts, please comment and share with others. It does take time that could be spent on other projects, so if you want to show additional support, consider picking up copies of my books or stories either for your own enjoyment, or for someone else.

Daily Update, or Another Day, Another Dollar

Another Day, Another Dollar
Another Day, Another Dollar

Current Word Count Stats

Today: [postwc] | Month: [postmonthwc] | Year: [postyearwc]

 Today

Still fighting this cold or whatever today. I got up late, didn’t have time to get anything done before work, and spent the day working. I did manage to get some writing on breaks, but was hard. Not feeling well, working, it makes it harder to keep my focus. I was tired.

The work still got done. I also had fun. Even through not feeling well, I had fun with the novel. These characters, the world, it’s fun. I might not feel well, but I had fun today. I got to teach at work, I got to have fun on my breaks, and had a chance to finish up tonight even if I fought sleep at points.

I don’t like being sick, but I do like meeting my goals. That’s a great feeling.

To catch up on other posts in this series, check out the contents page: Working Creatively With a Day Job.

If you enjoy these posts, please comment and share with others. It does take time that could be spent on other projects, so if you want to show additional support, consider picking up copies of my books or stories either for your own enjoyment, or for someone else.

Daily Update, or Creativity When You Don’t Feel Good

Missing You
Missing You

Current Word Count Stats

Today: [postwc] | Month: [postmonthwc] | Year: [postyearwc]

 Today

Pushing through pain. Some days you don’t feel good. This was one of those days. I’ve been feeling achy, tired, and I finally figured it out today why — I picked up a cold from my son. Complete with the clogged sinus.

On top of that the Day Job went long, that meant I was even more tired by the time I got home.

Anticipating what my day was likely to be like, I worked on the novel this morning and managed to get a good start on my work this morning. During lunch I managed to pull out a bit more, but still hadn’t met my count. I was tired, which made it harder to focus, so it wasn’t enough.

When you’re not feeling well, creating new work is hard. The nice thing, later on, you can’t tell. And it’s one thing to feel positive and great and get the work done, it’s another to do it when you have a down day.

The other thing that helps are pets, and family. Keep them close.

To catch up on other posts in this series, check out the contents page: Working Creatively With a Day Job.

If you enjoy these posts, please comment and share with others. It does take time that could be spent on other projects, so if you want to show additional support, consider picking up copies of my books or stories either for your own enjoyment, or for someone else.

Daily Update, or When is a Vacation Not a Vacation?

Various Doodles
Various Doodles

Current Word Count Stats

Today: [postwc] | Month: [postmonthwc] | Year: [postyearwc]

 Today

I had today off from the Day Job — but it wasn’t a day spent sitting around watching movies or even working entirely on creative activities. This was one of those days off that isn’t a day off, because of family dental appointments for both a dog and humans. Not at the same time.

The first was a follow-up with the vet for our older dog who had teeth pulled a month ago. She’s doing great, but it was an hour of driving round-trip for the two minutes that we spent at the vet to let them make sure that her teeth were fine. Good to know, but lots of driving.

A few hours later, back in the car to take the rest of the family to the dentist and another hour spent in the car, plus time at the dentist’s office (which didn’t go as well as expected). And I still have to go back for my own cleaning, but not today.

In all, it was a vacation day from the Day Job but not really a “vacation” in the sense of taking it easy and having fun. I’m fortunate that I can at least take vacation days.

Around all of that I managed to get in my word count today on my current novel. I also spent quite a bit of time working on my next release (hopefully Saturday). I’m working on getting the new edition of Dreaming Dead Things out, which is going well, but it does take a lot more time than doing a story.

Today I also received my paperback copies of my three latest stories. I like getting these, it’s always fun to see hard copies.

Paperback Stories
Paperback Stories

Otherwise, a pretty typical day. I took a few breaks, managed to read a little, watched a little House M.D., but that was about it for today. I got done what I needed to do and made good progress on my projects, so all-in-all, that was good.

To catch up on other posts in this series, check out the contents page: Working Creatively With a Day Job.

If you enjoy these posts, please comment and share with others. It does take time that could be spent on other projects, so if you want to show additional support, consider picking up copies of my books or stories either for your own enjoyment, or for someone else.

Daily Update, or Creative Goals While Working a Day Job

Playground Fun
Playground Fun

Current Word Count Stats

Today: [postwc] | Month: [postmonthwc] | Year: [postyearwc]

 Today

The rain doesn’t arrive until  tomorrow, so today was a great day to get out and enjoy the weather. I have the day off from the Day Job so I had opportunities to enjoy the weather.

One of the things I did this morning (after it was light, a nice change) was go for a bike ride. I didn’t ride very far or long, just up into town where I filed my quarterly B&O report with the city. If you’re not familiar with Washington’s Business and Occupation tax, take a look at the links. And the tax classifications for common business activities. Sometimes writers and other creative types neglect to realize that their activities are considered a business. That means licenses, taxes and all of that sort of thing. I’m not offering legal advice, but my friendly advice is that you head on down to your local library and pick up materials on running a business and particularly about running a business in Washington (or whatever state you’re in). Plus read the government sites.

Seriously. Whether your traditional, hybrid or indie, you need to deal with the business side as well.

Besides that, though, I want to look more at goals. Because there are different types of goals to consider and it’s something that I constantly work on.

Creative Goals

What are your creative goals? I’m not talking about production goals here, how many words you’re going to write, or how many submissions your sending out, or titles you’re publishing. By creative goals, I mean goals design to improve your craft or art.

Production is only one aspect of your creative goals. With each project, what are you trying to accomplish or improve?

For example, I want to avoid using fake details. What’s a fake detail? A label that doesn’t come from within the character, and doesn’t carry any opinion. It’s the lazy shortcut that fails to convey anything.

Look, over there, at that barn.

What barn do you see? I don’t know. Each person reading that probably sees a different barn, and those barns probably don’t have anything to do with what I pictured. Writing is a form of telepathy, and the fake detail represents a failure to connect.

The barn leaned and groaned with each gust of wind. The eroded boards were bleached like old bones, splintered and gnawed by time and insects.

That conveys a better picture. For me, having genuine details that rise from the character and the character’s opinion is a creative goal. Not my only one, but one of the goals.

Recently I picked up a copy of Sketching from the Imagination.

I love this book! It’s filled with sketches from 50 different artists. It inspired me to do simple sketches for my short fiction covers and these posts. I want to achieve the sort of expressiveness that I see in this book in my own work. Sometimes I come closer than others, and that’s true of any creative work. In any case I follow my simple rules.

Create. Share. Repeat.

Note, that it’s not CreateJudge. Rework Endlessly. Judge Some More. Seek Approval. More Judgment. More Reworking. Maybe Share? Repeat.

Each story, each picture, each time I sit down to do something I do it as best I can. But Ifinish it. And then share it. And repeat. It’s not about pursuing perfection, but practicing each and every day to improve. Each title, each project is another opportunity to apply what I’ve learned.

I have been reissuing work that was previously released, but mostly that’s been about retiring my pen names and practicing my art and publishing skills. The new editions give me an opportunity to practice my creative goals in those areas. Although I’ll fix typos and minor edits in the new editions, I’m not rewriting those stories and books.

Study and Learning

To reach my creative goals I have sought out opportunities to learn and improve. That includes attending workshops with professionals that are further along the career path I’m following. It also involves reading, study, resources like Lynda.com, and copying the work of others.

Copying? Yes. Take a book you want to study, where the author does something you want to be able to do, and type in that section. You don’t need to save it, just type it in whatever program you use, in your normal format, etc., exactly how you would do if you were writing it. Then just close it without saving it. The point isn’t to save the work but to train your subconscious. You’re telling your subconscious, “See? This is how it’s done.”

You’re not trying to reproduce or use their work, it’s the creative technique that you’re studying. So I might type in some rich description by different authors and forget about it consciously, but my own descriptions will improve. Not because I’m using any of the same words, but because I’ve learned techniques.

When it comes to art, this is more commonly expected. You practice pencils like your favorite comic book artist, or paint from looking at work by masters. Maybe you draw a bunch of superheroes and eventually you’re doing your own superheroes. Artists copy from life all the time. Working from what’s in front of them, or from reference images, practicing the technique so that when they create something from imagination it benefits from the techniques that they’ve learned.

Goals and the Day Job

For creative types working a day job, it’s also important to factor in time spent on creative goals too when figuring out what you can accomplish. Production should take priority. It’s your best practice, getting more work done. But also consider how much time is available to study, to read, and practice technique. Work that into your schedule too. If you’re going to attend a workshop, factor that into your other commitments, available time off the day job, and everything else.

Last year I attended four fantastic workshops on the Oregon coast. Over the past several years I’ve gone to usually a couple each year. After four last year, I’m taking a year off. I’m not sitting on my hands, but I’m practicing skills learned, I’m pursuing other goals this year. Next year there’s an opportunity that I might want to pursue, but it’s too early to say right now.

There are many opportunities for both online and in-person instruction and study, if you look for them. I’ve seen several online workshops in both writing and art that I would like to do. It’s a question of making it the priority in time and money, and that all depends on your goals.

A day job hopefully provides some financial stability to help with pursuing creative goals. I wouldn’t have had as many opportunities without that support.

Other Activities

Along with all of that, we took my son to an Easter egg hunt with other local families at a park. We ran, played, jumped, climbed and had adventures through the sprawling wood castle-like constructions. It was a good break, and a good reminder of what’s important.

To catch up on other posts in this series, check out the contents page: Working Creatively With a Day Job.

If you enjoy these posts, please comment and share with others. It does take time that could be spent on other projects, so if you want to show additional support, consider picking up copies of my books or stories either for your own enjoyment, or for someone else.

Daily Update, or Practice, Practice, Practice

Landscape
Landscape

Current Word Count Stats

Today: [postwc] | Month: [postmonthwc] | Year: [postyearwc]

 Today

The day started pretty much with running errands. Recycling, shopping, and all of that done before I really started anything. Then, afterward, I worked on writing and found that it was going very slowly at first. I was tired, and without the clock ticking from the Day Job, found it harder to focus. The luxury of so much time let other distractions creep in like resetting passwords or reading (not really a distraction, since it’s important to read, but I also needed to write).

As the afternoon progressed and there were other things that would need my time then the clock ticked louder and I finished my word count.

It’s all practice. Writing each project, each drawing. They don’t always come out how I’d like, but I keep following that simple set of rules. Create. Share. Repeat.

That’s enough for today.

To catch up on other posts in this series, check out the contents page: Working Creatively With a Day Job.

If you enjoy these posts, please comment and share with others. It does take time that could be spent on other projects, so if you want to show additional support, consider picking up copies of my books or stories either for your own enjoyment, or for someone else.