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How I write do darned fast – Part 5


Check out Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4 if you haven’t been following along at home.

Yesterday I did a lot of talking about my goals. Remember, these are my goals, not goals I think you should impose on yourself. You need to figure out for yourself how fast you can write and how fast you should write. This is just a step-by-step look at how I do things. That’s all. I wouldn’t hold anyone to the level I write at (except myself that is)

So I set word count goals. I also track those goals to see my progress. What good is setting a goal if you’re not going to check up and see how you’re doing, right? So I’ve got an excel file that I use. You can use the Magic Spreadsheet (I’ve mentioned it before) and many people do. I think that’s great. I built my own because I love to play around in excel.

* NOTE – If you’d like a copy of the spreadsheet I use, feel free to email me and I will send it to you. You can modify it for your own needs, but bear in mind, it’s personalized. So many of the columns I have may not work for you and you may end up spending more time rearranging things when you could have built you own. If you like mine, use it as a guide to build your own.

So on my spreadsheet I track my progress. How many words did I write today. How many words have I written this month, this year, what does it compare to against last year, How far ahead (or behind) my goal am I? How many days did I spend working on a particular title?

As I said, it’s more than just a list of days with numbers next to the day. I also track what title I’m working on that day. I have a column that shows how many words I wrote, how many words I need to write that day to stay on target (for 2014 it’s 1100 words per day). I had have a field that shows how many words I should have written so to-date, and the actual number I’ve written to-date. This is the indicator that helps me understand how close I am to my goal. I like to get ahead in case something happens.

I also track the books I’ve written as well as the books I’d like to write. I track the word count, release dates, where in the process a certain book is. Things like that. I also track my short stories and where those stories are on submission. I have a tracking page for the total word count of all my stories.

Now let me pause here for a minute. Keep in mind that I started this spreadsheet at the end of 2011. I use it every single day. Almost without fail. even on days I didn’t write,I still opened my spreadsheet. But being that it’s been an ongoing, growing spreadsheet, I’ve continued to add to it. So as I felt the need to have additional data, or formatting, or extra pages, I added them. Yes, I understand that all I’m tracking seems a little excessive, but it’s part of the process that keeps me motivated. Keeps me moving forward. I have a lot of ideas, and this is one way I’ve been able to keep track of them all in one central location.

Another thing this spreadsheet does for me is it allows me the ability to inspire myself. When I don’t feel like writing, I can look at this spreadsheet and remember that there’s a lot I’d like to accomplish with my writing and the only way to do that is to keep writing. Write quickly. Finish something. Move on to the next project.

That doesn’t mean I’m just pounding out first draft after first draft. I’m going back, I’m editing, I’m adding covers, I’m doing the interior layouts (covers and layouts I need to do better, but I’m learning). My spreadsheet allows me to track everything I’m doing and see at a glance where any given title is in the process.

Now that I’m thinking about it, I need to add columns to where something is published. I’ll need to make sure all my titles are available on all vendors. See, typing up these posts is helpful.

At any rate, tracking my progress is a way to not just keep myself motivated, but to see where I’ve been. I can see trends and patterns. I can focus on the process with the spreadsheet while my creative side gets to run off and play in all the worlds I create. It gives the logical side of my brain something to do while the creative side is off…creating.

Will this work for you? Again, as I said, this is my process. It works for me. I’m a data guy and I like numbers and spreadsheets. You may be different. Maybe you don’t want to track everything I’m looking at. Maybe you just like to sit down, open word, and got for it. I think that’s awesome. If it works for you, keep on doing it. I’m just offering up my method.

So this will likely end my little series. I’m glad you were here to follow along. I’d love to hear about your process. What works for you? How are we similar? How different is my process than yours? Any feedback? Ideas? Thoughts on improvement? Let me know!

Until Next Time!


How I write so darned fast – Part 4

While this is part 4 of this series, please don’t look at this as writing advice. I’ve sort of sworn myself off the writing advice bit and all I’m doing is tell you how I do what I do vs how you should do what you do. There is a difference. I used to think there was a one-size-fits-all solution to writing (and programming for that matter), but there isn’t. There really isn’t one way to do things and that’s one thing that a writer needs to understand. Yes, there are some basic rules to writing, but those apply to structure, grammar, and things like that.

At any rate, as I said, this is just how I do the things I do. Take it for what’s it’s worth. All I wanted to point out is that this process allows me to sit and write with great speed. Not nearly as fast as some of my heroes like Dean Wesley Smith (who can rack up around 100,000 words a month) but I’m doing the best I can with the time I have.

Check out Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 if you haven’t been following along at home.

Let’s talk about resolutions and goals.

I no longer set resolutions. I used to. Every year I’d resolve to do something (quit smoking, lose weight,  eat better, write more, etc) but those were always vague things that don’t give me a path to accomplish what I want to accomplish. They never worked for me.  Ever. Quitting smoking came when I just flat out said, “enough” and stopped one day. I’d have an occasional cigarette or cigar, but for the most part I was done.

Losing weight, eating right? I’m still working on those, but I’ve got a goal and a plan. The goal is to get back down to 200 pounds (at least) and I’ll be doing that by doing a juice cleanse and then eating a nearly vegan diet (not vegetarian, VEGAN! Raw vegan at that). I’ll be having 2 meals per week of whatever I want, but mostly it’ll be fresh fruits and veggies.  Extreme? Hell yes. But that’s how I managed to quit smoking. It was abrupt and extreme. I’ll also start walking and build back up to running.

Write more. That I’ve also done. I started in 2011 going into 2012. I wanted to write more so I started blogging more regularly. The blogging would get my brain into writing mode and once I was done, I’d flip to the latest novel I was working on. During that year, between blog posts and fiction, I’d written over 490,000 words of my 450,000 word goal. It was amazing. Sadly, only 267,000 of those words were new fiction, but I’d hit a grove with my writing and I was happy. So 2013 I was going to try and up my fiction count by cutting back on the blogging and get to work on the fiction.

Well, 2013 fell apart on me. I didn’t hit my goal of 365,000 words. Life happens, as it has a tendency to do, and I needed to come into 2014 more focused with all the stress of 2013 left behind.  I did, however, manage 172,000 words in the 5 months I did actually write and I can’t be sad with that result. Yes, it wasn’t where I wanted to be, but hey, I did make words happens and completed a few projects.

Now we’re into 2014. I’m still setting goals and what I’d like to do. For 2014 I plan on averaging 1100 words per day. Yes, I upped my word count goal from 2013 (1000 words per day average) so I’ll push myself a little bit more.

Let me explain first off what I’ve done. I’ve gone on and on about numbers, but none of that means anything to you, right? Well those numbers are my goals. 2012 was 450,000 words, a combination of new fiction and blog posts. 2013 was 365,000 words of new fiction. 2014 is 401,500 words of new fiction. 2015 is 438,000 words of new fiction.

Let’s break those numbers down because they’re pretty high. I’ll skip 2012 because it’s a blend. But 2013 I wanted to write 1,000 words per day. That’s an average, but obviously if I had been able to stick to a schedule, I probably would have hit or surpassed that goal. 1,000 words really isn’t that much. It’s just a matter of hitting a rhythm and a good streak of days strung together. Add a few good days in there and it gets even better, right?

Well, that was the plan. As I said, I only got 5 months of writing out of 2013 due to an unexpected move and the fact that the company did away with my job. Both of these sucked out my soul and made focusing on writing impossible.

Now look at 2014. I upped my goal from last year. I increased my goal by only 100 words per day. 100 words is nothing. That’s less than 5 minutes of typing. It’s a snap. Upping from 1000 to 1100 seemed logical to me because it’s not that much of an increase. Yes, I looked at 2013, but on the days I actually wrote, I hit a much higher word count. So I knew setting my goal a little bit higher would push me to actually write.

Then 2015, yes, I’m planning for the future, I want to write 1200 words per day. This is also a small increase and it might change.  I don’t know yet. It was a 10% increase from 2013 to 2014, why not a 10% increase from 2014-2015? Should I shoot for 1210 words per day? We’ll rethink that when 2015 gets closer and I see how I did over 2014.

What I’ve done over the past few years is to plan how much I want to write. I set that goal, then I break it down into much smaller chunks and work on one chunk at a time. I don’t look at it as I need to write 100,000 words to make a book. I look at it as I need to write so many words per day to get to that goal in a certain amount of time.  Looking at the smaller bits makes that HUGE, overwhelming goal look all the more manageable.

Next time I’ll talk about tracking and how I keep myself inline with the goals I’ve set. No, I don’t use the Magic Spreadsheet. I have my own spreadsheet. It’s taken me years to set up, but it keeps me on track.

Until Next Time!


How I write so darned fast – Part 3

Did I think this would turn into a three part blog post? Heck no. Feel free to go back and read Part 1 and Part 2 before continuing on with Part 3.

In case you didn’t noticed from the previous two posts, I’m a bit of a rambler. I get that. It comes with being me and given that I’ve been me for as long as I can remember, I guess that’s bound to happen.

When we left off we were talking about distractions, music, and communication with those around you. Those are all great for creating an environment conducive to writing. All that stuff is important. Just like in part when when I talk about typing speed and knowing ahead of time what you’re planning on writing. Also important.

You also need to get yourself into the mindset of ‘I’m going to write’. Yes, being able to focus is one thing, but actually focusing is another thing entirely.

For example, you have a job, right? (well, let’s pretend you do have a job even if you don’t). Or you’re going to make something for dinner. (well, let’s pretend you cook). Or you’re going to do something that requires you to be all there when you’re doing that task. You don’t just walk in and hope for the best. You don’t sit at you desk or operate heavy machinery without having some idea what you’re doing or at least some level of competency. And if you’re new, you need to give that job you’re about to perform.

Writing should be approached in the same manner. You don’t just sit and hope for the best. You need to focus on what you’re doing. Yes, I write fast, but one of the reasons is I’ve freed myself of distractions so I can type without being interrupted. Even if it’s for only 10 or 15 minutes, I make those minutes as productive as possible. I can usually get 300-500 words down in a fifteen minute stretch. Why? Because I’m focused on the task at hand.

Think about your job for a minute. When you’re typing an email, or driving a forklift, or operating a machine, does a distraction take you out of that task and make you lose focus? Even if you distract yourself by letting your mind wander away from the task at hand. Are you your most productive when you’re not fully engrossed with the task you’re performing? I know I’m not.

I write code for a living. When I’m typing code and I get an instant massage, I lose focus on what I was doing and it might take me five or ten minutes to get back into the task and try to remember where I was. I’ve lost focus. Or I’ll stop what I’m doing and look my email, or look something up on the web. Again, I’ve lost focus on the task at hand.

But when I’m on my game and I’ve got that laser-like focus, I can type at great speed and things happen in my story.

Yes, yes, I said I’m a discovery writer at times and the story will take a turn I wasn’t expecting, but that does not mean I wasn’t focused on the task of writing. It means I’ve been able to get so into my task, that I’ve allowed my brain to get out of the way of the creative process. One side of my brain is engaged in getting the words on the page (the logical side), the other is focused on making the story happen (the creative side) and when you’re highly focused on writing and you’ve entered ‘flow’, this is when both sides of your brain bring everything together.

Writing, for me, isn’t about treating it like a hobby. If you’re writing for a hobby, any words you write are great! Don’t get me wrong. I’m not knocking those hobbyists out there. Writing is a wonderful hobby. What I am saying is that if you want to move from writing as a hobby into something you can produce large amount of content (I’m talking 4 or 5 or 7 books a year) then you can’t look at writing as a hobby any more. You need to approach it like it’s a job, but a job you love to do and are excited about doing. That means you need to focus on what you’re doing.

I would keep going on and on here, but I think I’ll save my next topic for next time. What will that be? Goal Setting.

Until Next Time!



How I write so darned fast – Part 2

So yesterday people seemed interested in how I write quickly. I only touched on the topic (yes, 1000 words was just touching on the topic) so I decided to include a part 2. I mean, why not? Sounds like fun. It was, after all, one of my better hit posts and hopefully shed a little light on my process and mentality when I actually sit and write.

Maybe I’ll even be a little more organized today, but I doubt it. 😛

So there comes a time in every writer’s life when they want to get the ideas out of their head and onto paper. I think that’s an awesome feeling. The desire to create is what drives a person to think they can actually sit and write a book. I mean, it’s only 50,000-100,000 words, right? That’s not that many and in a couple months it’s easy to knock those words out and have a book.

Well, it does take practice. It really does. As was proven by Chuck Wendig, you can type fart 100,000 times and have a book.

But if you want to write something that people want to buy and read, that’s a different matter entirely.  But the process of getting the words down don’t have to be difficult. Like I said, it takes practice. It’s more than just sitting and typing whatever comes to your mind. These blog posts, for me, are an info dump of what’s going on inside my head. When I’m writing a book, that’s different and took me time to learn.

First thing I need to know when I’m writing something is where is it going to end. What’s the point of the main character’s story? What is motivating my character to get to the end? How is the character going to change.

Let’s look at my giant robot story that I’m currently working on. I started this one last year and I was plugging away when I realized my character had little motivation and everything was being handed to him. A ‘Mary Sue’ story. Nothing bad was happening.

Oh, sure I had ideas on how to mess with him, but overall, his life was really good.

So I deleted nearly 20,000 words and started over. Yes, CTRL+A, DEL!

I still had an idea how I wanted the book to end, it just took me 20,000 words to figure out I was starting the book incorrectly. I went down a rabbit hole and it dead ended on me. Once I understood that, everything fell into place. I had an idea for the beginning, a comfortable feeling how the middle would go, and I thought I knew the ending.

So I typed knowing the general direction of the story. Each time I’d sit and type, I knew the next scene I wanted to write and I would do that scene. If the next popped into my head, I’d write that scene. I’m a linear write. I write from beginning to end. Sometimes I will add additional chapters as needed (or delete extraneous chapters) but that’s when I’m done with the book.

Knowing what I’m going to write really helps as I’ll have already through out some of the dialogue, some of the action, but I’ll let things happen and sometimes I’ll type something that will surprise me. As I said yesterday, those are great moments.

Another big thing that I need when write is time to focus on what I’m doing. This allows my brain to wander around the universe I’ve created and I can get deeper into my characters’ heads. I can see what they see, feel what they feel, and experience, to some degree, what they experience.  In order to do this, distractions must be removed from the equation.

How do you do that? First of all, DISCONNECT FROM THE INTERNET! I cannot say that loudly enough. Get off! Shut it down! Have a dedicated computer with no internet connection! Just don’t! Not for research, not for names, not to hop onto twitter and complain that you’re having trouble writing. NADA! Why? This is writing time. Not research time. Not social hour. It’s not time to catch up on what people are doing on facebook. It’s time to sit and write.

Yes, like I said, it takes practice. It also takes discipline.

You want to be freer of distraction? Tell your family when you’re going to sit and write. Turn some music on that’s conducive to a writing atmosphere, and write. If you’ve only got 15, 20, 45 minutes a day to write, you cannot waste that time doing other things. You don’t know what science to use for a scene? Insert [RESEARCH HOW STEAM ENGINES WORK] and move on! Don’t know what to name the farmer down the road? Don’t get hung up on a name Insert [FARMER’S NAME] and move on! Write forward past those things because they’re not important at the moment.  Don’t get hung up on something you can go back later and fix.

Again, when it’s time to write, write. Don’t research, don’t look things up, just write. Don’t let that writing time slip past you.

This also is a time you should schedule. You want to write a lot of words? You need to treat it like anything else you want to get done. You want to rake the leaves, you plan on what you’ll do it. You want to go on a date with the Mrs? You need to plan when you’re going to do that. You want to write a book, you need to plan and schedule the time (I usually write from 8-10 if I can swing the time. Sometimes I’ll write right after work for 30 minutes in case I can’t get the time later in the evening. Planning this time helps as the wife and my favorite daughter know that’s my time I’ll be spending writing.

Wow, another 1000 words? I don’t think I’m done yet. Whew. Well, I guess there may end up being a part 3 to this.

Until Next Time!


How I write so darned fast.

How do I write so fast?

I know I write fast. I’m not nearly as quick with my writing as Nathan Lowell (who will rack up 5,000-10,000 words per day), but I’m quick. How quick? Well, so far this year I’ve written over 71,000 words. That means I’ve averaged over 1400 words pre day, but I haven’t written every single day this year. On the days I have written I’ve averaged just shy of 2000 words. My best word count so far is just over 4000 words.

So Yes, I think I write fairly quickly, but to be honest, I don’t feel like I do. I know I could write a lot more words. I waste a lot of time. I surf the web, I watch TV, I read books. I also have a full-time job. I have a daughter with a busy social life. I have a wife. I spend time with my family. I do housework. I spend time with friends.

And I write.

Writing is a hobby. It’s something I love to do. I enjoy creating worlds, universes, characters to populate my made up places. I have a blast each and every time I sit and write. Even when the words are hard to put down, I’m enjoying what I’m doing. When the blank page stares back at me and dares me to flinch, sometimes I do, but I still want to show that blank page who’s boss and write anyway.

Yes, if I had more time during the day, I’d probably write more. In my past I have had days of 10,000+ words. I know I can do it. For now, I’ll take when I can get. There’s a lot happening with my life and I’m still enjoying that as well.

How to type quickly? First, I type very fast. If you’re not a fast typist, I recommend learned how to up your typing speed. Take an online course. Take a course at your local community college. Just sit and type a LOT when you do sit in front of a computer. Also make sure you know what type of keyboard helps you type faster. I type fastest on my mechanical keyboard. It’s the type I learned how to type on way back in high school and for many years as a programmer.

Yes, I can type fast on a laptop (or netbook) but I do prefer the big kcickty-klack keyboards best. So I invested in a very nice keyboard that I use for work (it’s programmable) and I use for writing (cuz it’s awesome). This helps with my typing speed so I can get the words out of my head as quickly as possible.

Next, I know what I’m going to write before I actually write it. I don’t mean I’m plotting every single scene and writing sample dialogue. I mean that I’ve already thought the scene out and I’m ready to make it become a reality. Yes, there are times I’ll be typing away and something will happen I didn’t expect (I love those moments) and I roll with the change and keep going to see what happens next. These times I just keep at it. It’s like my hands have dislocated from my brain and words just flow out like water. Hence the term ‘flow’. This is a great time to write as the words literally flow from my brain onto the page.

But how do I do this? How can I type words to a story when I’m not sure what’s happening?

I’ve turned off my internal editor. I’ve learned to trust in myself and just let the story happen. To-date I’ve completed 15 novels and I have partials for 7 others that I intend to finish between this year and next year. So I’ve had a little bit of practice with this writing stuff. So I know what I’m capable of writing, I’ve developed my own style, and I have a great time doing it.

This last one is difficult for a new writer. I understand that. I was a new writer once. I questioned every word I put down. I questioned my plot, my characters, my motivation. I questioned everything. I asked people to read what I’d written long before it was complete and I allowed their opinions to hinder my progress and I took years before I finished anything.

Then I started reading books on writing. I read ‘rules’ for how to write a good book. What it needed to contain. How to plot the story. Growth arcs. I read conflicting ‘rules’. I would read something I liked and then read a review about why that book I just liked was a terrible book.

Again, I allowed outside influence to taint my own work. Many times I stopped writing because I felt like I was a fake, a fraud, a fool, and just plain a bad writer.

But I learned to ignore the noise. I don’t let people read anything that isn’t finished. I don’t want input on what I’m writing. I honestly don’t. You want to be a beta reader? Email me. I’ll send you something that’s a first draft of mine. Yes, it’ll have typos and grammar errors maybe a plot hole or two. But that’s what editing is for. That’s what re-writes are for.

To write faster isn’t difficult. You need to learn to ignore the noise, ignore the rules, and just go for it. Have fun! Enjoy what you’re writing. I guarantee that a reader will enjoy a book more by a  person that had fun writing a bad novel than a person that hated their book and wrote some brilliant prose. Take a look at books like Twilight, 50 Shades of Gray, The Hunger Games. All these books get great reviews, and terrible reviews. Great reviews because people have fun reading them. Terrible reviews because the stories are, when you really look at them, just plain bad. The writing isn’t even that great. Yet, they sell a lot of books because people enjoy reading them and I’m willing to wager that the authors had a blast writing them as well.

So you want to write faster? Have more fun with your writing. Practice a lot! Write in more than one genre (maybe you’re trying to write a sci-fi when your heart belongs to mystery). Write some flash fiction, short fiction, write as much as you possibly can. Don’t edit as you go, just start typing and see where it leads you. Turn your brain off for an hour and just let the words flow out of your fingers. Don’t look back. Keep going forward. Look at these 1000 words I just typed. I had a blast typing them because I love to talk about writing. It took me less than 30 minutes to type.

Don’t let your brain get in the way of your writing. Trust yourself to write something enjoyable. When you get to ‘the end’ THEN turn your brain back on, read what you wrote, and fix what needs fixing. After, not during.

Speaking of writing, I should go make some words happen!

Until Next Time!


Unorthodox Writing Tips 12: It’s About Time

One of the many things I’ve gotten wrong in my books over the years is the amount of time it takes to perform a task, travel from place to place, hold a conversation, pause for dramatic effect

No, really. I’ve written a page of dialogue before and in my mind hours had gone by. When I’ve gone back and read what I’d written the conversation would have taken all of four or five minutes. Heck, Even when I did the podcast version of V&A Shipping I had to correct some timing issues. I had to figure out how long something took because it just didn’t feel correct after going back and reading it.

I have a stop watch. No, really. I have a stop watch. If my character is going to do something, cook dinner, get dressed, build a bomb, tie a knot, I need to know how long that task will take. Now I’ve never built a bomb, but understand the dilemma here. The time it takes your character or characters to accomplish a task needs to feel right. As I mentioned, that one page of dialogue was a short conversation, but in my mind I needed them to be in a different place after the conversation.What did I do?

The conversation took place while the characters were walking from one place to another. I needed a certain amount of time to pass while they walked and talked. This scene needed some fixing not only with the distance traveled, but with the flow of the conversation. What did I do? I took a walk and timed how long it would take at a casual pace to travel a certain distance. Even the walk, not enough time had passed in my story. I needed to figure out what would slow them down.

Okay, color me dumb here. The walk they took was in a heavily-congested, downtown area. Brilliant me I walked in a straight line. Taking a trip to downtown San Diego provided what I needed. I’ve walked with groups downtown before. There are a large number of things that will stop you as you walk. Window shopping, street vendors, street lights, cars, bikes, other pedestrians. Not only did all of these items add a little flavor to the scene I was trying to fix, it provided the length of time I was looking to introduce in the scene. It also helped to break up the dialogue so it wasn’t a long stream of talking.

This scene would have worked as-is, but but stopping myself and timing the event to make sure it had the right feel helped me flesh out a scene that, once I’d re-written it, worked so much better than the original.

Am I suggesting you get a stop watch and time every little thing you do? Well, not everything, but I do recommend you watch the clock when you’re doing something you would expect a character in your book to do. A minute can be much longer than you suspect and an hour much shorter than you know. Give it try. Maybe you’ll discover something more than just the amount of time something takes.

Until Next Time!


Unorthodox Writing Tips 11: Try Somewhere New

I’m a curious person. I like to try new things and I’ve never shied away from trying something different. Earlier in the week I needed to take my favorite daughter to 7-11 to get a snack (old mother Hubbard went to the cupboard and the cupboard was bare).

In the same little strip mall is a sweet shop, Pistachios. For us this has been an ongoing joke. I want to say they’ve been setting the place up for a few months now and we’re trying to figure out when they’ll open the place. We put our  faces up against the glass and peeked inside. There were some lights on the left side of the store wall that look like they will hold signage and a nice look counter behind which are some shelves with a few bags of pistachios and a couple boxes of candy. That’s about it. It looks bare, but I’m hopeful it’ll be filled with good things to be had by all.

Walking from Pistachios to 7-11 is the Rancho Market and Bakery. Now I’ve only been in the area for a few months and I’ve seen it dozens of times. I kept telling myself I needed to actually go inside and look around. I figured, why not teach my favorite daughter not to be afraid of going into a new place. I diverted my steps and went inside.

“Papi? Where are you going?”

Let me interject here. I have a tendency to walk astray just to confuse my favorite daughter. It’s funny most of the time and sometimes I do what I did on this day. I didn’t say anything, I just entered the store.

Inside standing next to the fresh fruit was a group of men. They could have been Greek, the could have been Arabic, I didn’t know. They just had that swarthy complexion that I’ve always associated with the Mediterranean. Now I was even more interested. Sure the Market and Bakery was located in Rancho San Diego and I expected it to be run by Mexicans, so I was a little surprised.

Inside I found a great selection of fresh cheeses I hadn’t seen before and a large number of dairy products. Even a great selection of salamis and meats. I still had no idea of the nationality of the products displayed. I didn’t talk to anyone until I reached the dessert section. I’m a BIG fan of desserts. Each looked amazing. I had to ask.

“What type of desserts are these?”


Ok, I’ve seen baklava before. He wasn’t going to get away with that simple of an answer.

“This doesn’t look like Greek baklava.”

“This is middle-eastern baklava. In Lebanon we have over 150 varieties of baklava.”

Okay, now I was really in new territory. My favorite daughter kept picking out ones to buy, the man gave me a 5 minute lesson about baklava, and $8 we were out of the store. I went back the next day and bought $5 more. I know I’ll be going back again and I’ll be trying more than just the baklava.

What did I learn? I learned  lot more than just what kinds of baklava are available. It’s something I’ve know and try to put to practice.

1) Don’t be afraid to walk into a store and talk to the proprietor

2) Don’t be afraid to try something new be it food, a book, a new sport, anything.

3) Be opened minded with the experience.

4) Seek out opportunity, don’t just run into them by accident.

Do I think baklava will make it into my writing? Probably not. But one thing I’ve heard over and over with writing advice, write what you know. If you limit yourself a little box you’ll only ever be able to write about that same little box. The more you allow yourself to experience the more flavor you’ll add to your writing. Get out there. Try somewhere new. You’ll thank yourself one day.

Until next time!


Unorthodox Writing Tips 9: It’s about time.

As I’m sitting here typing this post, I’ve set a timer. I’ve been doing this recently when I need to accomplish a task and at the same time, I need to do some writing. I can’t be in two places at the same time, but I can still work on both at the same time. Here’s what I’ve been doing.

Today I need to take down the Christmas tree. I also wanted to put out another Unorthodox Writing Tips.I want to post my goals fr 2012 and a look back at 2011. Then after all that I need to get some actual writing done. Did I mention that I also need to take down the Christmas tree.

So how am I going to be able to get all this done in a single day? I set a timer. Every fifteen minute I switch tasks. I set the timer for fifteen minutes and I’m working on this blog post. When the timer goes off, I’ll set it again for fifteen minutes and work on disassembling the tree. And back and forth until the tree is down and clean up complete then I’ll spend time on just writing.

You may be thinking that this is an awkward way to write. You’re up and down, up and down. Well, yes. Yes I am. I’ll be up and down multiple times. But when I’m taking down the tree, I’m still writing. I’m thinking through what I want to put down next. Fifteen minutes of thinking about writing speeds up my output during those fifteen minutes when I’m actually writing. That, combined with having a timer keeping me on pace forces me to write and write faster during those fifteen minute episodes. I don’t check email, I don’t look at facebook or twitter. I don’t have time. I have a task to get done. If I’m going to include anything else, I’ll schedule fifteen minutes for it. I’ll take a break each hour and a half or two hours, but for the most part, it’s fifteen on, fifteen off.

There’s something about seeing a timer there, counting down that forces my brain into gear letting me know that time is tick tick ticking away and I need to get the words down before my time is up. As I said, combined with the fact that I’m also thinking about what I’m going to write during those fifteen minutes off helps me prepare to actually sit down and write the words. I find I have less time starting at the screen and trying to will the words to appear and more time sitting and actually writing.

Combined with the fact that I’m getting more than one thing done at a time, this method is really working for me. Not only that, but I’ve also discovered that fifteen minutes can result in roughly five hundred words when I’m pushing myself. I’ve changed my attitude from “I only have fifteen minutes” to “I HAVE A WHOLE FIFTEEN MINUTES!”

Give it a shot. Set a timer and time your self. Whoops, timer went off. Time to get back to that Christmas tree. It’s not going to take itself down.

Until Next Time!


2011 year in review.

The year started out with wanting to complete my work with co-author, Mike Plested. In early February, Mike suggested that we attend WFC2011. Throughout the year Mike and I worked on and off with our Jack Kane novel. Sadly it progressed far slower than either of us would have liked. We made headway, albeit slowly. By the WFC2011 came upon us we wanted to be completed with it. Due to personal reasons on both our parts it did not get completed.

It wasn’t until early December that we actually completed the work. We discovered a process that worked for both of us. What I discovered for myself was that I needed to 1) write down what I actually wanted to accomplish and 2) communicate those goals to those closest to me. I accomplished little actual writing in 2011. Total I was able to write about 45000-50000 words.

That’s not a lot. I’m capable of so much more.

So what is my plan going forward? Writing and communicating my goals. Are you ready? I’m feeling very ambitious. I mean, really ambitious. Here’s what I’m planning for 2012.

1) Write at least 450,000 words

2) Write, edit, publish 1 short story of at least 10,000 words  in a series each month for pay.

3) Publish one free short story a month

4) Get any finished novels in front of a publisher.

5) Write, edit, record 2000-3000 short for cliffhanger podcast and produce ebook novella at the end of 2012

6) co-host a podcast and/or submit a podcast segment to another podcast

Now, that’s pretty ambitious. I know. I mean, that’s a lot of words, isn’t it? Well, yes and no. This word count will include blog posts. I plan on writing one a day during 2012. I plan on keeping up with Unorthodox Writing Tips. I’ll be doing guest posts wherever they’ll have me. I’ll also be doing more shorts.

But mostly I’ll be working on novels during 2012. I want to finish three that I have in progress and rewrite two that I’ve already done. All of these will fall in the 80-90 word range. So even though I’ve set lofty goals, I still think I can accomplish them.

Why? Well, I can write quickly. I type fast and I’ve started doing some methods that have helped me sit and work faster. I’ll be sharing those as we go. I’ll post a weekly update of my daily word counts broken down by blog post, short story, and/or novel. I’ll be able to do that because I’m also tracking my word count. Something I’ve never done. I’ve had 15,000 word days before. Will I be able to do that again? Well, I can only hope.  I know I can, it’s just a matter of conviction.

One of the first things I did was write down my goals. I set out a plan of how to accomplish each goal. One of those was communication. Not only with you, but with my wife and daughter. I’ll need to set aside time each and every night to write. Not only will I need to set time aside, I’ll need to actually write! Not play angry birds, not surf twitter or facebook, but write. Sure I’ll have to spend some time promoting my work and communicating with other authors, but I need to dedicate time to writing each day in order to hit my goal.

If I don’t hit my goal, I know it won’t be the end of the world, but using this as a road map I’ll be able to get myself far closer to where I want to be. I’ve said this before, but I no longer want to treat my writing like a hobby. I must treat it as a part time job if I am ever to be successful. Another thing that will help me reach my goals is to make my progress public. Yes, putting myself out there for others to see what I’m doing and how I’m doing it.

2012 is the year I finally get myself into gear, get my buns moving, get my fingers flying, and do what I’ve always wanted to do; be a published author. Are you ready? Are you excited? Are you curious? I know I am. So as I look forward to the New Year I must sit back and yell! WOO WOO!