Tag Archives: Facebook

Slow Going

I haven’t been able to do much in the last few days. Part of it is because I am still trying to figure out what I am doing. But to be honest, most of it is because I got sucked into another Facebook game, and that is what is taking up most of my time right now.

I glanced over at the side of my Facebook stream the other day and I noticed an ad for Farmville 2. I played Farmville for a while last year, and the year before that, but I stopped because it was interfering with my writing time. I quit playing all the Facebook games so I could make better use of my time. But when I saw the ad for the new version I got curious. I wanted to know what they had changed, so I decided to take a look.

So, of course, now I am spending a lot of my time planting, watering, harvesting, feeding, and crafting. It’s a big time suck, but I promise that I will stop cold turkey on November 1 for NaNoWriMo. Nothing will keep me from attempting to win for my third year in a row!

However, I still need to do a lot of planning for November. I have ideas, and I think they are coming together in my head, but what I really need to do is put them down on paper. Or at least, in my Scrivener file. I’m also using yWriter, because it lets me plan individual scenes.

On a political note, I am going to go to the Obama rally here in Madison on Thursday. This is the most important election of my life so far, and I am really looking forward to seeing the President. I managed to get the day off and I will be leaving the house early to make sure I get a good seat. I’ll try to do some planning while I wait, but I won’t be able to bring my netbook because of security, but I might be able to manage bringing my Kindle Fire instead. I can do some work on that while I wait. The problem is that it may also be raining and umbrellas aren’t allowed, so I’ll have to be careful about that. If it is raining, the pen and paper option wouldn’t be much better. But I’ll give it a shot, and we’ll see what happens.

That’s all I’ve got for today. I’ll be back on Sunday with another post. Hopefully I’ll be able to report that I have figured out how to manage my time so that I can play a little bit and then work on my book. Or maybe what I should do is make a commitment to do my planning before I let myself play. That would probably be a better idea….

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Filed under NaNoWriMo, Politics, The Writing Experience

August 1 – New Month, New Goals

Today marks the start of a new month. I didn’t get a lot done last month, so I think it is time for me to set some goals for myself. The first goal will be to finish this short story/novella that I am writing about a huntress who finds out what it is like to be hunted. It is a post-apocalyptic horror story, and I’m still working out what kind of character development needs to be worked into the tale, but I have most of the plot figured out already. I started it a few weeks ago, and have been working on a major rewrite this last weekend. I have the edits about halfway done, and have already chopped about 1000 words out of the first draft. I want to finish it and have it ready for submission by the end of August.

Speaking of submissions, I heard last week that the editors of the Big Book of Bizarro (the ones that bought my short story “Losing Control”) have been working hard on getting the final proof done, and are hoping to have the author copies (and payments) ready in the next couple of weeks. I’ll be sure to post an update as soon as I have my copy. I’m also looking forward to spending my payment on additional copies for family and friends.

I have been thinking about goals recently, and I am starting to wonder whether or not I should have stuck with the ROW80 group. I miss the support I always had from them, and it wasn’t that hard to keep up. Kait is also cool with letting participants post updates with however best works for them. She also says that you don’t necessarily have to join at the start of the quarter, so I may pop back in if I start jonesing for my friends.

That being said, my second goal is to spend less time on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and other social nightmare media websites, and spend the time on writing. I also need to spend more time on my exercise bike. Being a writer means a lot of sitting as I write, and I need to get more exercise. Maybe I can use my Dragon Naturally Speaking software to do my writing. The only question is how well the software will be able to recognize my speech if I am out of breath from my workout. I’ll also need to figure out where to put my laptop so that I will be able to see the screen as I ride. Does anyone have any thoughts/experience with this problem? I have heard about people setting up a treadmill desk, but I’m not so sure about a bike desk. On the plus side, it is a recumbent, so I’ve got that going for me.

So that’s three goals for August:

  1. Finish short story/novella “The Hunt”
  2. Cut back on social media.
  3. Get more exercise.

That’s about enough for now. I’ll be checking in again on Thursday. See you then!

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Filed under About Me, ROW80, Submissions, The Writing Experience

Social Networking

Writing has often been referred to as a solitary sport. With the Internet becoming more and more prevalent in our society this stereotype is no longer accurate. The fact that you are reading this blog proves my point.

In the past centuries, authors had to write their stories and find a publisher, usually through the mail. The publisher had to decide whether or not to accept the manuscript, and once they printed the book they controlled how it was marketed. If an author wanted to talk about the writing process with another author, it usually involved travelling to the other writer’s home or to a convention. But authors today can decide to publish their books themselves, they can do their marketing on their own, and they can communicate instantly with other authors using social networking applications like Twitter. We’ll discuss self-publishing and marketing in other blogs. For today I want to discuss communications.

The Internet gives so many ways for modern authors to communicate it can sometimes interfere with the writing process. But there are so many reasons to use the social networking tools available that you would be foolish NOT to use them. I’ll go over some of the tools that I use to keep me connected.

First: Twitter. This can be a double-edged sword. On one hand, it allows writers to connect with each other and with their fans. It can be useful when a writer wants to ask a question from someone who also writes in their genre. You can get instant responses to your questions. It can also be used to help market your books, by announcing new releases, interviews, and special offers. I have recently received several copies of e-books for free through offers I saw on Twitter. You can also get an idea of how popular your books are by how many followers you have.

On the other hand, Twitter allows writers to connect with each other and with their fans. The danger with this is that a popular author can end up spending so much time Tweeting that they don’t have time to write. There is also the issue of cyber-stalking. I recommend that everyone be careful about what they Tweet. You shouldn’t post anything online that you wouldn’t mind seeing on the front page of a national newspaper.

Second: Facebook. One of the biggest social networking sites, it even had a movie made about it. Successful businesses are now finding it necessary to build a Facebook page along with their normal website. Like with Twitter, getting a Facebook page can give you access to millions of people, and the number of Likes you get can give you an idea of the popularity of your work. The main problem that I have with Facebook is that the easy availability of their games and other applications can quickly suck up my writing time.

Third: Blogs. Sites like WordPress and Blogspot, along with others, can give an author the opportunity to share more of their life and their work than they can do with Twitter or Facebook. It lets them use tools like polls and comments to get feedback on their work. You can also find blogs (like this one) that may help with advice on the writing and publishing process. But every minute spent writing or reading blogs is a minute that you aren’t writing.

Fourth: E-mails. This is probably the safest way to help communicate with other authors. It lets you get rapid response from the person you e-mail. While most e-mail isn’t secure, you usually don’t have to worry about the whole world seeing what you write. The problem is that you first need to have a relationship with those other authors in order to get their e-mail address. You can do this the old fashioned way, through conventions or personal visits. Or you can develop a relationship through Twitter, Facebook, or blogs.

I use all of these methods to help me build my writing skills, connect with other authors, and to share what I have learned. But I have to be very careful about how much I use them, because as I said, every minute I spend on these tools is time that I am not writing. Each of these options probably deserve a more detailed examination. Look for more posts in the weeks to come.

Leave a comment to let me know if there are other tools or websites that you use that you feel strongly about. And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter!

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When to Write

So the first problem I had to deal with when I started my NaNoWriMo experience was figuring out when I could do my writing. I have a full time job, and a wife at home that wants at least a little attention from me on almost a daily basis. And I had a routine. Don’t get me wrong, a routine is fine as long as your routine fits in with the things you are trying to do. For me, it needed to change. My routine was pathetic. Let me break it down for you.

I am an early bird. I have my alarm set for five o’clock, but I tend to wake up between four and four thirty every day. And yes, I do mean EVERY day. My job starts at 7:45, so what do I do with those three hours every morning? When I was trying to find time to write the first thing I had to do was admit to myself that most of that time was wasted. I would get up and go to the bathroom, then sit down at my computer. Not to do anything productive, but to play several of the time-wasting games on Facebook. You know the ones I mean: Farmville, Frontierville, City of Wonder, Cafe World, etc. I had at least a dozen of those mind-numbing productivity killers that sucked up my time every day. And not just in the morning, but several times a day. They were the first things to go. Part of my preparation for NaNoWriMo was to block most of those games. I have to admit, though, that I still play a few of them, although I am trying to convince myself to drop those as well.

I don’t have a car, so I usually have to leave the house by 6:30 in order to ride my bike to work and take a shower. But I still managed to usually get to my desk by 7:15, leaving me half an hour without anything to do. Sometimes I would continue with the Facebook games, other times I would surf the web or check my e-mail. I needed to change my routine to let me use that half an hour to write instead.

Break times and lunch were also times that I could use to do some writing. Not so much for my fifteen minute breaks, as by the time I finished my snack and using the bathroom I didn’t have much time left for anything else. But my 45 minute lunch break gave me plenty of time to do some work on my story. And if I packed a cold lunch that meant that I had a few minutes more than I would if I had to heat something up in the microwave. So I started packing sandwiches and salads for lunch. I could even keep them at my desk instead of the refrigerator so I didn’t even have to get up at lunch time, and could just grab a bite and start writing.

After work was tricky. Usually I had plenty of time to write, but first I had to make dinner for me and my wife. Thankfully, I’m not much of a TV watcher, but there are a few shows that I enjoy. So Mondays were tough because of Chuck and Castle, and Fridays I watched Smallville. Wednesdays I would go to play Dungeons & Dragons from 5:30 until 8:30, which didn’t leavve alot of time for writing. My solution: work harder in the morning and during my breaks to make sure that I hit my goal before my other activities.

So that’s it. I had about two usable hours every morning, along with at least half an hour of productivity over lunch, and anywhere from one to four hours available in the evening. The only thing I had to do then was to kill the distractions and actually USE that time.

So my advice for the beginning author: check your schedule and figure out what your priorities are, and what you are doing that is just a waste of your time. Then drop the distractions and schedule your writing time. It helps to tell yourself that you are going to start writing at a certain time. At least, it worked for me.

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Filed under The Writing Experience