Another Small Update


I don’t write about my personal writing life much on this blog, but I would like to do that more. So, here’s an update about what I’ve been doing lately.

In November, I completed nanowrimo and have what I hope will become a complete draft of my first short novel. Right now, I am in the process of re-reading it, and creating a new outline that will indicate the final plot, highlighting what plot holes need to be filled, what sub plots will be dropped and which ones will be brought to the forefront. It is my hope that this will lead to a complete draft that can be proofread, beta-read, and edited.

In the past couple of months, I’ve also generated some youtube content, which was so much fun and I hope to do more of. There’s a guided meditation for writers, and a dramatic reading of my creepypasta story “Parasites.” I’m still keeping up with my gigs, and a few of those have been featured on websites. I am also looking at some paid blogging gigs. This is all a little hard, because I do also work 40 hours a week at a job that I really do love and feel privileged to have, but that can be very draining at times.

Thank you all for your continued support, and best wishes to all of you.



Women In Non Fiction


In my previous article “Women Are Not Small Dogs” I presented a short list of tips that I hoped people might find useful in writing female characters. Thank you to everyone who read it. To follow up, I decided to write another article providing tips for non-fiction articles. I hope people find this article useful.

  1. Men Aren’t Everyone: Don’t use words like “People” and “Everyone” when you are referring specifically to men. This is one of those things that is so common you don’t even notice it. But, once you notice it, you realize that this is everywhere.
  2. Not Everyone Is a Man: Don’t use words like “Men” or “Guys” when you are speaking generally about everyone. Once again, you’d be shocked at how often this happens.
  3. Women Read, Too: When you write an article and address the reader as “You,” do not assume that the reader is male; especially when you are writing on a gender –neutral subject. Once again, you’d be surprised how many completely neutral writing, science, or computer articles will address the reader as “You” and then make statements that assume that “You” are male.
  4. Being a Man Is Morally Neutral: Avoid saying someone should “Man up” or “Be a man” when you think they should do something good, or saying that someone is “not a real man” when someone has done something bad. Being male and being female are both intrinsically neutral. Maleness is not a virtue, and equating masculinity with virtue makes no sense. What does being male have to do with virtue? Objectively, nothing.
  5. A Woman Is an Adult: Women are adults. Girls are children. Both men and women may refer to adults of either gender in the child form. This is obviously fine in an informal setting if everyone is comfortable with it. However, when writing professionally, it trivializes female contributions to the subject you’re writing about to refer to them as children.


Most of these things are so common and seem so normal that most people do them without even thinking. Writing this article, I myself had to edit it several times to keep from directing my article to male readers. I’ve seen women do these things, too. But, when everyone works together to take care of these smaller things, and we are no longer so used to them that we no longer see them, we can then begin to change the way we all see ourselves and each other and work towards true equality.

Nanowrimo Woes

I admit it. Today, I am frustrated.
I am going to participate in Nanowrimo, as I usually do. If you are asking what “Nanowrimo” is, please check this link. I feel like the program has done a lot for me in terms of helping me learn about motivation, setting goals, and writing no matter what, even if I feel like what I’m writing isn’t good enough. It’s also put me in touch with wonderful writers and creative people.
There is a project that is very dear to me.  The plan is to have it be my Nanowrimo project this November. There is a rather terrible unfinished first draft that is 50 thousand words long, but has no real conclusion, is full of plot holes, and needs major restructuring to be a completed first draft. This in and of itself is not a problem, or something that I feel bad about. It’s a Nanowrimo draft. But, the task of re-reading it, making notes on everything that needs to be torn out and rebuilt, realizing how much I have to do before November 1st, and getting it all done and doing a good job is overwhelming me.
This is why I’ve been so busy, and have been slow to update my blog. So, forgive me for that.
I can admit. The reason I have blogged so many times about overcoming procrastination is because I myself have a problem with it. I know this. In a way, I am sad because I feel like it’s my own fault that I am finding myself without enough time to do the job I want to do to be ready for November. Shaming myself isn’t going to help, and I realize that this is making things worse, not better. But, it’s still hard to abstain from completely.
So, I am facing a dilemma. I could pick another project (I usually have multiples) that is closer to completion. In a way, this feels like accepting defeat. Besides, this project is my favorite. Another possibility is to say the next week-and-a-half is longer than it feels right now, and that I can push through this. This is more satisfying, but I fear that the project might suffer for it, and I don’t want it to.
It seems to me that I should just push on, get as much done as I can. I should just prioritize and get the biggest things out of the way. And, if I don’t get everything done I want to on the planning side, well, I should forgive myself.
I’ve made up my mind that’s what I should do. And, I think I’ve come to that decision while writing this blog entry. Maybe I sound self-indulgent right now; maybe I even sound whiny. I think that this is the one of the first times I’ve used this blog as an actual blog, instead of a place to write articles about writing.

Your Novel With an All Star Cast

Few things stimulate creativity like speaking with a fellow writer. Recently, I had the privilege of spending time with a dear friend and fellow writer. She lives far from me, so even though we communicate regularly on the internet, it was a rare treat to get to see her in person. As you might imagine, a large portion of our time was spent talking about our writing. Throughout our short time together, I never stopped being amazed at how similar our processes were, and how we shared much of the same strengths, weaknesses, challenges, and insecurities. But, I will get back to that in a moment.

                In addition to writing, we both dearly love the theater. We went and saw a play during her visit. The production was beautiful, and the cast was stellar. It was a production of a classic musical, that I’m sure most people have seen at one time or another. So, naturally the after-show-conversation turned to the actors and their interpretation of the respective characters, and other performers we had seen play the same characters. Subtle acting choices can completely change a scene. But, the conversation on actors and characters brought us back to one of our writing quirks.

                We both “cast” our works of fiction. It is my understanding that this is not uncommon. Still, trading information on which actors “played” the characters in our imaginations made for very fun conversation. It’s also a very fun creative exercise. Beyond that, however, it made me think about the play, and how an actor’s interpretation of a line can change a character, and even a story.

                The obvious reason for an author to have an imaginary cast for a work of fiction is to have a clear mental image of the character. That being said, I believe it is more than that. I know that I always have a mental image of my characters that frequently differs from the actor I use as my model. Perhaps it is to borrow a voice, a gesture, a quirk of an eyebrow or a wide smile from that person that I can give to my creation. To imagine who would read my dialogue and how can contribute an added breath of life that wasn’t there before. Whether this is a tool or a crutch, I couldn’t say. I like to think it’s the former. But, it is a habit that I am not likely to give up.

                So, readers, I ask you; do you do have a “cast” for your works of fiction? I know that I have some favorites that I have used more than once. Do you? Who do you like to “play” your characters and why? I’m interested in hearing more on this subject. I look forward to your comments.



5 Step Meditation to Meet your Muse

Muses are stubborn. Muses are taskmasters. Muses are responsible for those moments when we realize we must take all of our carefully crafted notes and abandoned them, because the story has taken on a life of its own, and has done something we have never planned. It is that moment when we feel like we are not in control at all, and merely writing down something that is being given to us by someone, or something else. They are the stubborn characters who will not conform to our plans, and they are the inspiring darlings that we both curse and adore in turn. It is when our characters have their own lives, ambitions, and wills that we do not control.

Of course, not all of us create this way. If this is not how your creative mind works, don’t worry. I’ve known many wonderful writers who do not experience “muses” like this. Additionally, I’ve known many poor ones who do. So, it is no indicator of talent or creativity, in my opinion.  It just so happens I do write this way, however, and it is something that gives me a lot of enjoyment.

I dearly love it when I can feel as though thoughts or actions come from characters themselves and not from me. Many times I have met writers who believed that their characters really did exist on a spiritual plane, and spoke to them through some kind of magical means. I think that it is a beautiful belief, but it is not one I personally share. My own belief is that it is an illusion, but it indicates I know my characters so intimately, that their personalities become second nature. Knowledge of how they would respond becomes reflexive and instinctual and can take over my creative process without my needing to will it.

The exercise I am going to offer here will work with whatever your beliefs on muses are. If you are not a writer who works with muses, and are interested in learning more about the process, this will work for you, too. This is a meditation exercise. The first three steps are a very basic meditation technique that works for me, and are intended to help introduce people to the practice. If you have your own meditation technique that works for you, skip the first three steps.

1.            Find a comfortable position in a safe and comfortable place: This can be a bed, a favorite chair, or anywhere else you are free from interruptions.

2.            Focus on your breath: Count to five slowly while you inhale, hold your breath for another count of five, then exhale slowly on the same five count. If your thoughts distract you, bring your mind back to your breath and the counting.

3.            Relax: Be aware of your body as well as your breathing. Relax any part that feels tense. You may want to start a progression, from your toes, to your feet, to your ankles, legs, etc., consciously relaxing each part of your body in progression. Or, you can pick a method that feels comfortable and natural to you.

4.            Visualize:  Meditation can take years to learn, and a lifetime to master. Many people find the first three steps difficult to maintain.  Do not worry if your mind is restless; that is common among creative people. Once you feel ready, stop the counting of your breaths and visualize a place in which you would like to meet your muse. This could be any meeting place that has significance to you, your character, and your story. I would recommend it be a place where you and your muse can meet in private, though. Other characters can be distracting.

5.            Meet: Visualize the character you are wishing to “meet” coming into this space. Do not speak to them right away. Just picture them. Picture what they are wearing, how they enter, how they stand in front of you. Focus on that. When you are comfortable, greet them. Measure how they respond. If you need to pause and consider how they will respond to your greeting, or explore different variations on how you will greet them and how they will respond, take the time to do so. Immediacy is a goal for some, but is not always the way it starts. Enjoy trying on different variations and seeing which ones feel right, if you need to. Welcome them as a friend. Invite them to join your story, even ask their opinions.  Take your time.

Obviously, this is all very generic. Each meditation experience will be a unique and personal one. You may not be able to clear your head of the groceries you need to buy, or the phone calls you need to make. It’s very easy to think of what you need to get done when you are trying to think of nothing at all. But, keep trying. And remember, getting frustrated in itself can be distracting.

If you do have a good experience, I would love to hear about it. I dearly love reading about people’s emotional journeys with their characters. And, I hope to post some of my own in the future as I start a new draft of my novel.

Also, if you would like to read more metaphysical articles for writers, please let me know that too. Happy writing, everyone!