Writers who write different genres to you?

Good afternoon fellow internet consumers,

I thought I would write a blog today about something that has been on my mind for a few days. As many of you will know when I am not writing this blog, I am writing books for young people and almost always these books are fantasy, sci-fi or a mixture of the two.

I was recently introduced to two new writers and they both surprised me by saying they didn’t write fantasy at all. It isn’t what they read and it isn’t what the write and/or want to write. They like to write about the ‘real world’ about relationships between people in our reality. Things which would either be considered chic-lit (sorry to anyone that term frustrates…I didn’t make it up) or perhaps literary fiction.

Some of you who are far less judgemental than me may be asking yourselves why the fact they said this has been weighing on my mind? Well I shall embark upon the tail now and hopefully we can all learn something, myself included.

When I read and indeed when I write, I use that time as escapism. I exist in this world, which forgive me if you do not share my opinion, is just a little bit droll really. I do not own an Airship, a pirate ship or a spaceship. I am not a daring adventurer fighting with dragons and saving princesses. I am not nor can I be the great fabled hero of light who inherits a crystal that allows me to vanquish all monsters…I could go on but I think I have driven my point home.

I think what I am trying to say is that if I wanted to escape into a world where I can go to a coffee shop, meet a handsome stranger or have a trouble relationship with a family member. Well, I would just put my book down and experience my real life. So whenever I pick up a pen to write I escape off to a wonderful and far more exciting world than the one I live in and frankly I cannot understand people who don’t.

After I thought about this for a while I decided that this probably said more about me as a person and any chips I have ony my shoulders than it did about people who don’t write fantasy. In short should we judge people who don’t write the same things as us or indeed don’t see the world in the same way that we do? I think we probably shouldn’t, because the world would be a jolly borring place if we were all the same.

P.s. Even after this period of self reflection…I will probably always still find people who don’t like fantasy a little bit strange.
Ja Ne.

Spring has sprung

Hello all, I hope this Blog finds you well today. I myself have had a most invigorating day, it has inspired this very post.

When I wiped the cobwebs from my mind and realised today was in fact a Thursday and that I failed to post a blog yesterday and knew I had to write it today, I had no idea what to write about.

I went to work and then came home, wrote 900 words of my current work in progress and then popped out for a coffee. Today it was a glorious sunny day and I felt myself feeling that spring has truly sprung.

Though the temperature probably didn’t peak too far above ten degrees and it is certainly not quite warm enough yet for sitting in the park and drinking pims, summer is on it’s way. After the long and cold winter spring has a way of rejuvenating. Just like nature, with new plants springing to life and baby chicks and ducklings joining us in the world, writers too can let spring give them a kick up the bottom.

I have been a hard worker this year so far and I can happily say that I have not really let my writing slip too much in the winter I am sure I am an exception to the rule. When the nights are long and the days short it can seem like writing is the least of your worries. You need to get to the shop before it gets too cold, you need to cook dinner, pick the children up from some after school club. Perhaps you just want to snuggle up at home with a good book and a cup of hot chocolate? Whatever it is that takes your fancy I fully understand it can be hard in winter to dedicate enough time to your writing.

If the above sounds like you this year then maybe you can let spring, spring in you? Use the extra hours of light in the morning to get up early, put on the kettle and write 200 words before you go to work. Use the longer evenings as an excuse to stay up and get a little writing done.

For me the spring makes me happy, the warmth and the chance to go outside without a coat, the thought of long summer evenings to come. It all fills me with joy and when I am happy I am more productive, so perhaps just take the time this spring to do what makes you happy. You just might find that it inspires you to get back to work.

Ja Ne.

Writer self care, guide and importance.

Lets talk about you…and me. Not me and you personally, not like we are getting into a strange relationship with boundaries we haven’t quite defined yet because we haven’t had ‘the talk’. I mean lets talk about writers and what people like us can do to ensure we are being the best we can be.

Now for once I must point out that I am not talking about writing better either, I mean taking care of yourself in everything outside of writing so that your writing doesn’t suffer.

A lot of you might be saying things like ‘I’m a fully grown adult Elliot, I know how to look after myself’ or ‘Don’t preach to me MOM’ but this seems to be a hot topic among writers on the internet so who am I to shun the suggestion. As a self respecting writing blogger I think it is my duty, neigh, my responsibility to touch upon the subject of ‘writer self care’.

So let me just get one thing straight before I jump into the meat of this issue. I do not personally think that writers are particularly delicate or in any other way different to any other type of person that might make us bad at looking after ourselves. With that being said I believe where a lot of the concern over a lack of self care comes from is the work involved in writing a novel. Writing a novel means sitting down at a desk, or in your car with a laptop or even in bed with your laptop for hours and hours each day. It also means spending a lot of time plotting and planning and trying to think of ways your hero can kill the impossibly tough bad guy without it being a massive cop out like ‘love’ being the secret *cringes*. Couple with that the fact that most first time novelists also have a full time job which may involve sitting down that adds up to one thing. A hell of a lot of time spent sat down not moving, maybe eating cakes and almost certainly not sleeping enough. Once all the work is done you are probably so tired you just want to sit down in front of the TV, not go to the gym or cook your five a day. So following are my top tips for staying healthy and happy when writing your novel.

1: EXERCISE, writers are just like all other people. Though we might be pale and indoorsy that is no reason not to exercise at least semi regularly. There are enough YouTube aerobic videos to keep you pumping and grooving until the day you die if you start now so the chances are you will find at least one or two you can manage to do. If you find my previous stereotype offensive and you are not at all pale or indoorsy then I suggest a good hearty run.

I know you’re stressed and you don’t think there are enough hours in the day for everything you need to get done but there are…and if there aren’t there is always tomorrow right? Realistically there are almost certainly points of your day when you are ‘working on your book’ that are actually just sitting in front of the screen not writing or even really thinking. This is the perfect time to bang in a few sets of squats or laps around the room. Sometimes getting your heart pumping will actually help you feel better and clear your head making the writing come more naturally.

2: READ. A lot of people have a tendency to stop reading when they are writing but that is really one of the worst things you can do. Reading is much more relaxing than watching TV even if it is a little more difficult. It has the added benefit that if you read physical books and write on a computer that you are actually letting your eyes get some much needed rest from looking at a screen.

You will remind yourself why you are writing, you want to write something as good as whatever you are reading and if you stick to it you really can.

I truly believe that you cannot be a writer if you have never read and the more you read the better you will get. People worry too much about ‘unconscious plagiarism’. Plagiarism is never unconscious, you will always know if you are stealing an idea and the chances are you won’t be doing it from the thing you are currently reading but some beloved childhood tale. 

3: HEALTHY SNACKS. This is a big one in my opinion, when you are sat down at a desk for hours writing you can easily fall into habits like having a cup of tea next to you, maybe that tea has some biscuits with it. Before you know it you have added several hundred or even thousand calories to your daily intake and if you can no longer fit into your desk chair you are probably guilty of this.

The only way in my opinion to combat this is to just not have junk food in your house. If you must snack buy carrot sticks or get some low GI berries, do not turn to the chocolate and the biscuits.

If they are there you will eat them when you are stressed so best to just not buy them in the first place.

Well that’s it for this week kids, if you have any subjects you want me to talk about let me know.

Looking forward to talking with you all again the same time next week.

Ja,Ne.

On the importance of setting daily goals

The human mind is a wonderful thing, give it a goal and achieve that goal and it will make you feel on top of the world.

Do you ever find yourself sat at home at the end of a day feeling depressed or down? You feel lethargic and as though you have achieved nothing even if you have been to work and cleaned the house. What if I told you there is a tiny little thing that you can do that will change that? One little thing you can do each day which will make you feel great? Well I am guessing you said something like ‘please yes oh wise one, help us to be happy’ thus I must indulge you.

As a writer my life’s goal ultimately is to write things of outstanding quality that others will enjoy and in some small way my writing will improve the readers life. To that end it is very important that I do one thing consistently, if you guess that is writing, well you guessed correctly.

I have spoken before about the importance of making writing a daily habit but today I will be talking more about WHY it is important from a psychological standpoint.

I read an article about Stephen King a few days ago that discussed the fact that he writes 2000 words a day, some days it may take him an hour or two and others it might take him all day, but he does it every day. That reminded me of a time when I felt great, when I felt like everyday I was taking small and achievable steps towards my goal of becoming a published writer.

The time it reminded me of was NanoWriMo, for those of you not in the know that is National Novel Writing Month and it is a month in which writers everywhere attempt to write at least 50,000 words of a first draft. In my efforts to reach this goal I wrote between 1500 and 4000 words a day consistently for those thirty days and there was not once that I felt like I had wasted a day. I could lie on the sofa and watch old 80’s movies for the rest of the day and I would still feel accomplished, that was all down to one thing.

The goal, the goal to write at least 1130 words a day. Every time I did this I told myself I had done what I set out to do that day. My brain thanked me for my hard work with a dopamine hit and I felt like I could do anything. Further to that hormonal release of happiness it reinforced a feeling of a ‘yes I can’ attitude. I set out on a goal that many called ridiculously hard or downright impossible and I did it anyway. Everyday I was showing my mind that all the naysayers of my past were wrong, I could do whatever I set my mind to and I kept on doing it.

Since then my writing has been fairly consistent but I certainly won’t lie and say that there haven’t been days or even sometimes a couple of days where I haven’t written anything. How did I feel on those days? Well I felt awful and I have resolved never to fall back into the ways of not writing, a writer writes and write I shall.

I am a regular reader of Writing Magazine and in the most recent issue they provided a wall callendar to track all of the writing expos and events around the country this year. I have begun using this wall planner to track my word count for the day and I will write a minimum of 1000 words a day 7 days a week. For the sake of complete transparency I shall share with you: 20th – 4118, 21st – 1102 and today 646 and counting. This blog post is the first thing I have written today as I have just returned from work but this afternoon is reserved for continuing efforts on my Werewolf novel so I shall expect to at least breach 2000 words by the time I am done for the day.

I know not all of you are writers but if you are, set a daily goal to write, and if you are not then set a daily goal that means something to you and do it DAILY, in the long run you will thank yourself for your small yet consistent efforts.

Until next time, I shall leave you with this: The half life within it faded away when we went to sector 17, probably because it had stopped writing.

Ja,Ne.

Writers are arrogant?

Hello one and all, is it Wednesday already? The keen eyed observers amongst you will notice that it is in fact not. That being said I have a busy day tomorrow and I am not technically minded enough to figure out how to delay the posting of this until tomorrow, so here we are.

Lately I have been trying to read far more than I have in the past, finishing a book a week or thereabouts and as such…I have read quite a lot.

The problem with reading a lot is that sometimes you read something and you think, god that wasn’t very good. You notice large gaping holes in the story, you find prose that you think is horrible and you are left thinking, how did this get published? Aren’t I better than this? Why am I not published!

And in there my friends lies the dark side, you might be right in some instances as there have certainly been books published that were not very good at all, but in other instances you will be very wrong.

Regardless of if you think your writing is  better than this writing or that writing you must  remember this. You are not a publisher, you are not a marketer and you will probably never know as much as those people do about selling books. If you are not published and the author of this book you think isn’t as good as yours is there is one of two possible things going on.

  1. You really are the next best thing, you just haven’t been discovered yet. (This one is unlikely mind you.)
  2. You have not written a publishable book. (much more likely).

Maybe your writing is better than this other author and maybe it isn’t but that isn’t really the point. The point is that for whatever reason a publisher and an agent and bookshops have seen fit to sell this authors book, but they haven’t seen that with yours.

Never let your arrogance turn you to the dark side of believing the publishing world is out to get you and you will never be accepted as an author. Believe in what you write but LEARN from what you read. Let the reading you do inform your craft and in time, with persistence and skill you will reach your goal.

So I shall leave you with this, never look down on another authors work, especially if you are only doing so out of jealously. Learn what you can from it, learn what the publishing world is looking for, apply that where possible and reap the rewards.

Ja Ne.

Going to university

It has come to my attention that I have not posted anything to this blog in far longer than I would have liked. I must confess I had the original intention to post here every single day, as you can see however, that did not happen.

I am now setting myself what I feel is a much more realistic goal that will take into account when things get in the way or life is just a bit busy. So, from now on I will be aiming to post once per week, every Wednesday.

The reason I fell out of posting recently has been in part due to traveling up and down the country visiting universities. As anyone who has read my earlier posts will know I am fast approaching my 30’s and as the keen eyed amongst you will have rightly noted, that is not the usual age to go to university. Well when I was younger I had no interest in the education system and no idea as to what additional opportunities getting an education would afford someone in life, to but it plainly, I was a bit silly.

Now that I am older and wiser I thought I would quite like to get a degree and what better subject that Creative Writing. It will give me three years in which I will get to work with published authors, agents, publishers and all sorts of other knowledgeable people who I have no doubt will assist me in bettering my writing. My current aim is to be published before I am 30 and as such that means I must publish my first book the year before I would graduate, this may be layering the work on thick but I think it can be done.

I must apologise that this is really more of a blog just talking about myself and not giving any useful advice, perhaps it is a bit late for that as if you have read this far… you already knew that. I will give you a little bit of advice here just in case you missed it. If you have the opportunity to get more education then do it. You may not think it is cool or fun or anything like that but in the long run being more educated can never be a hindrance.

With that in mind please accept my apology for a rather droll post and please join me next Wednesday where I will offer more clever writing advice.

Ja Ne.

To terraform the human mind?

Science is the subject of todays blog, I feel the need to write and I must be honest with you all. Today no writing tips or reading advice or anything else literary in that way has come to my mind. For any of my readers who are only interested in writing and do not care for science then feel free to look away now.

For me science has always been a field of great interest, at school I excelled and indeed two of my fondest memories from my years in primary and secondary education are as follows: sitting and passing my science SAT a year early and gaining a level 5, and, changing schools in the first few weeks of year 7 and having to sit a science test on my first day in the new school (i.e. having not had any lessons in that school first) and being the only person in the class to received 100%. Call me vain if you like but in what was otherwise a less than stellar academic record those two moments do shine brightly even today.

I found science easier than other subjects because it interested me deeply, I was, and still am curious about our world and the rest of the universe. As a writer it will surprise nobody that I dabble in science fiction and as a reader and film watcher science fiction again is a large portion of what I absorb.

Alas let us talk about the real subject of todays blog and that is becoming a multi planet race. That is to say rather than having countries we will have planets and the human race will spread throughout the solarsystem and perhaps even beyond.

For those of you in the know you will be familiar with the concept and term of terraforming. For those of you not in the know I shall briefly explain. Terra is another word for Earth and as such Terraforming is to literally take another planet and ‘form’ it to be more like Earth and as a by product comfortable for human life.

As you likely also know humans cannot otherwise survive on any planets that we know anything about so for a long time it was thought that we should have to change planets so we can live there. Looking at that in recent times it has become more aparent how difficult and time consuming that would be, not to mention expensive.

One option is of course to forego moving to other planets and simply make other habitats, like the ISS but on a much grander scale. Call me an old romantic if you will but I quite like the idea of visiting other worlds, watching the sun set from a different place in the solar system, seeing a green sky or perhaps even seeing two suns rise together.

My solution is thus: do not terraform other planets, simply planetform humans. To put it simply, our squishy bodies are very bad at surviving things like; low gravity, high levels of radiation, extreme heat, extreme cold, lack of oxygen, lack of water…I could go on. We already have the technology to put robots on mars and in space and we know they do not die as easily as we do. I believe if we really want to explore the universe it would be better done inside mechanical bodies.

Now the science to transfer a human conciousness into a computer looks at present, very hard, very expensive and potentially even impossible so that does rather throw a spanner in the works, but hear me out, not all is lost.

Throughout human evolution (to my understanding, so please correct me if I am mistaken) every great leap forward we have made, such as; developing advanced language, learning to make advanced tools and machinery, inventing art and the concepts of beauty and love. Have been allowed by the most recently developed part of the human brain. So the very core of the brain deals with what we can eat, mate with or will be dangerous to us. The next part of the brain deals with interactions, language etc and then the next again moves onto even more abstract thinking tasks such as art. If we are to be able to truly enjoy a further understanding of the universe, of physics and of all the sciences then we need a new bit of brain. These things don’t evolve over night but perhaps we could enjoy a revolution rather than an evolution.

I believe, and again this may be on flawed science I grant you, that we should be looking at ways to implant a computer INTO our brains. A computer that will be able to lift all of the logic and maths problems that we tend to struggle with into a CPU which we know can be very, very good at dealing with those sorts of things. Therefore freeing up another part of our organic brain to be used for something else. Then who knows, in a few generations it might begin to develop in ways we could never imagine and start solving problems like…how do I live forever inside a robot?

This has been a rant brought to you by Elliot and for anyone who did not enjoy it, I promise to get back to writing stuff with my very next post.

Ja Ne.