Category Archives: Writing

Napping Your Way To Better Writing

Credit/TheAwkwardYeti

Credit/TheAwkwardYeti

It’s okay to do nothing.

No, really. Sometimes you just need to give your brain a little rest.

I was spending a quiet Friday with my wife the other week, and I decided I should probably catch up on a little sleep. I readily admit that I’m a night owl and I am also, by necessity, an early riser. At times, this doesn’t bode well for my productivity.

I really enjoyed this article by Daphne Gray-Grant of Publication Coach. Ms. Gray-Grant has endured a number of sleep problems at various times in her life, and she came to the conclusion that among the extremely valuable health benefits of getting enough sleep, it does a great deal for your creativity as well.

You’ll come across articles all over the internet that say a staggered sleep schedule is best, and that Tesla slept for only tow hours a night. There’s absolutely no reason to burden yourself by employing an eccentric sleeping pattern just because it happened to work for someone else. Remember what happened to Kramer.

Whatever you do, whether it’s writing, answering phones or chopping trees for a living (especially then!), you need your sleep. 7-9 hours will really do your body a lot of good.

Going back to my quiet Friday, I dozed off on the couch and kept a notebook nearby in case I had any ideas when I woke. Not only did I wake up feeling recharged, but I had a bit of inspiration to work on a side project to boot. Even if you can’t sleep, I’d really encourage you to find some time in the day to simply rest and do nothing. Ideas tend to creep up on me in the quiet times.

Giving your body rest is crucial to creative success. Fuelled by a constant need to improve himself (and God love the man for it), best selling author Jim Collins once told the New York Times that he studied his sleeping habits over a period of time and found that if he didn’t get 70-75 hours a week, he could go about his daily routine, but creativity simply can’t happen.

If I don’t get enough sleep or am without the opportunity to catch up on much-needed rest, I’m not focused on my writing; I’m focused on nodding off.

While the image of a writer typing the next great American novel into the wee hours of the morning is romanticized, I don’t find it to be particularly true and agree with Mr. Collins and Ms. Gray-Grant both: the best way to sleep and maintain creativity and inspiration is to get a good, full night’s sleep. You may not be up and awake for as many hours as before, but the productivity you’ll achieve by being fully rested will more than make up for the difference.

What are your thoughts on sleeping and creativity? Discuss in the comments below!

Be sure to check out my portfolio and professional site here

My freelancing e-book, Dip Into the Ink Pot, is now available on Amazon by clicking here!
Don’t forget to like, comment and subscribe to the blog if you like what you see, and I’ll talk to you next week!

– Adam

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I’m sorry, Mr. Hemmingway

**FILE**  Ernest Hemingway stands on the Bridge of Sighs in Venice, Italy, in this 1950 file photo taken by his friend Aaron Edward Hotchner and released by the Library of Congress. Singing a takeoff of Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues" helped a Texas commercial property developer win an Hemingway look-alike contest during a festival honoring the author that ended Sunday, July 23, 2006 in Key West, Fla.  Sporting a khaki hunting outfit, white beard and bushy eyebrows, Chris Storm, 55, hit Cash-like low notes as he sang a plea for contest judges' votes during the highlight of the six-day Hemingway Days festival. The competition drew 130 other bearded entrants who paraded across the stage at Sloppy Joe's Bar, the author's favorite watering hole    (AP Photo/Library of Congress, A.E. Hotchner, FILE)

**FILE** Ernest Hemingway stands on the Bridge of Sighs in Venice, Italy, in this 1950 file photo taken by his friend Aaron Edward Hotchner and released by the Library of Congress. Singing a takeoff of Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” helped a Texas commercial property developer win an Hemingway look-alike contest during a festival honoring the author that ended Sunday, July 23, 2006 in Key West, Fla. Sporting a khaki hunting outfit, white beard and bushy eyebrows, Chris Storm, 55, hit Cash-like low notes as he sang a plea for contest judges’ votes during the highlight of the six-day Hemingway Days festival. The competition drew 130 other bearded entrants who paraded across the stage at Sloppy Joe’s Bar, the author’s favorite watering hole (AP Photo/Library of Congress, A.E. Hotchner, FILE)

Hello, my dear readers out there, whoever you may be!

I’m going to deviate from the normal flow of the blog to address an issue that inspired me while writing an e-book for one of my clients.

In the process of writing the book, I came to three critical realizations:

  1. Writers need not apologize for their tone or subject matter; each writer has a unique voice and should be allowed to address the world in said tone.
  2. Speaking plain English (or whatever language in which your work is written) is more accessible and often more powerful than flowery prose.
  3. Ernest Hemmingway is a better writer than I once believed.

The realizations came to me in more or less that order. I remember reading A Farewell to Arms and The Old Man and the Sea several years ago. I enjoyed the stories themselves, but at the time, I couldn’t for the life of me understand what was so great about the way Ernest Hemmingway wrote. The language didn’t appear to be anything special. He was a blunt, raw curmudgeon of an author whose macho posturing and at-times abrasive attitude rubbed me the wrong way.

It was only recently I came to realize that it was exactly the way Ernest Hemmingway was that made him such an enduring, classic writer. His words were visceral, real, something with which most every reader could relate. In writing in plain speech, he essentially grabbed the readers by the lapels of their figurative jacket, forced them to read the words he’d written and said “Look, here’s what happened, here’s the way I’m telling it. I’m not sorry. Deal with it.”

Sure, sometimes he was offensive, sometimes he was brash (which upon further research doesn’t appear to be much fault of his own due to some serious mental issues), but his lean, unsubtle, unapologetic way of speaking had a major influence on writers after his last words were written, and the influence continues today.

With that said, Mr. Hemmingway, I’m sorry I scoffed at your work. I was young, I wasn’t as in-tune to what your style really meant to the literary world until now. While you’re not my favourite author, I can see now why you were held in such high regard, and rightly so.

What do you think of Ernest Hemmingway’s work? Discuss in the comments below!

Be sure to check out my portfolio and professional site here

My freelancing e-book, Dip Into the Ink Pot, is now available on Amazon by clicking here!
Don’t forget to like, comment and subscribe to the blog if you like what you see, and I’ll talk to you next week!

– Adam

The Fluff Balance

Credit/John Short

Credit/John Short

Hello, my dear readers! I hope your week is going well.

I’m currently working on a book for a client about excellence in writing. In my research, I’ve had something of an epiphany.

For years, I’ve been a concise writer. That might be fine for journalism, but for other types of writing, maybe I’ve been looking at it all the wrong way.

There’s a popular adage that tells us when it comes time to edit an article, a full-on novel or even a script, it’s a good idea to cut down on words wherever you can. For example, trade out adverbs for stronger verbs so you won’t need them, maybe get rid of the more boring parts of the book or at least cut them down to a level that makes the story flow easier.

I try to keep my stories and other such writings as concise as possible, but doing research for my latest endeavour leads me to the conclusion that there really isn’t anything wrong with a little fluff.

I guess it’s not really fair to call it “fluff” so much as adding a dimension to your characters to make them more realistic; it’s just shorter to say “fluff.” Let’s take a script I was recently working on as an example. It’s a sci-fi story in which the protagonist is haunted by dreams of his untimely demise to the point where it’s affecting his sense of reality.

When he’s not wrestling with the big questions of life, what does he do? When a detective needs a moment to get away from his case, what does he do?

As a writer, you shouldn’t be afraid of the mundane. My protagonist liked to bake. He appreciated the routines in life because they felt normal, comfortable and feeling useful was all he ever wanted (well, that, and to rid himself of the hellish nightmares that plagued his every sleeping hour).

By adding the fact that your heroes or villains go through the humdrum of everyday life and delving into their routines, likes and dislikes, it humanizes the character and makes them feel more alive.

That’s not to say you need to go into great detail into every aspect of every day, even when nothing in particular happens. No, peppering the details particularly toward the beginning of the book before the plot really starts to ramp up would be the better way to go. You have to walk the line; strike a balance between routine and plot points.

In journalism, where I worked for several years, fluff has its proper place and time, namely in human interest stories. In writing fiction, blogs and works outside of journalism, the rules are the same. So don’t be afraid of the mundane; there’s a place for the everyday in your writing.

How do you handle the more mundane points in your stories? Discuss in the comments below! 

Be sure to check out my portfolio and professional site here

My freelancing e-book, Dip Into the Ink Pot, is now available on Amazon by clicking here!
Don’t forget to like, comment and subscribe to the blog if you like what you see, and I’ll talk to you next week!

– Adam

The Best of WritingPrompts

Hello, my dear readers! Hope this week finds you well.

I’m a latecomer to Reddit, and I find myself fascinated by the site for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the subreddit WritingPrompts.

I thought I’d try something a little more fun this week and give you links to some of the best writing prompts I noticed this week. Enjoy and if you find the time, give some a try!

[WP] A sentient virus destroys most of humanity. Many scientists tried and failed to communicate with it. You are the one scientist who succeeds.

[WP]: “I’m not SAYING that Robert’s nipples destroyed the Earth. I’m just saying, if he hadn’t worn that shirt, we would still have a planet to call home.”

submarine space writing prompt

[WP] Original Earth inhabitants, now space traveling beings, are returning home only to find humanity, their once lab rats, running the place.

[WP] As an Angel, your job is to keep people that hate each other from meeting in Heaven.

tumblr_mcqg42itxN1qee12to2_1280

[WP] you live in a universe where people’s physical appearance directly relates to their personality.

[WP] An infamous con-artist goes to hell and attempts to scam the devil for his soul back.

What’s your favourite writing prompts? Have any ideas? Discuss in the comments below!

Be sure to check out my portfolio and professional site here

My freelancing e-book, Dip Into the Ink Pot, is now available on Amazon by clicking here!
Don’t forget to like, comment and subscribe to the blog if you like what you see, and I’ll talk to you next week!

– Adam

Overbooking and the Prevention Thereof

work stress woman office

femside.com

Hello, my dear readers; apologies for disappearing on you again the last two weeks. I just wrapped up writing another movie for a client, among other projects. I’ve been busy, and that’s certainly not a bad thing.

Good thing or not, though, negligence is negligence, and for that, I apologize.

I have a confession to make. The last month, I’ve overbooked myself. I don’t know when it started or how it got there, but there it is.

I’m not proud of it, because it’s cost me a great deal of sanity and gained me a great deal of stress. I’m working it out and it is what it is.

As such, maybe it’s time to address that on my blog – What to do to prevent overbooking.

Here we go!

1. Create a waiting list

Generally what happens in a typical month for me is I end up taking on projects of varying scales, between 3 to 5 isn’t out of the question.

What you say yes to and when depends entirely on your schedule. Think about what you’ve done on a project so far. Do you think you can continue at your given rate and meet the deadline on time? Would taking on another project cause you to miss a deadline?

If the answers are yes and then no, respectively, don’t take on that project. Ask them politely if they would like to be placed on a waiting list. I did one for a week, for example, and the woman waited because she had faith in my abilities and I communicated honestly.

2. Renegotiate

There was a project I took on for one of my clients that increased in scale during my current overbooked phase, which caused additional stress for both of us.

As such, I wasn’t going to be able to meet our originally agreed-upon deadline. So what did I do?

I contacted my client to explain this situation – I overbooked myself, I still want to do quality work for him, but that’s going to take some time. It worked out just fine. Sometimes deadlines can be moved, and in this case, I had a good rapport with  my client, he had some projects to finish up anyway, and we’re set for a new deadline.

It might work out well for you; it might not. The worst thing you can do, though, is to not communicate; to fall out of the loop and disappear into your work cave without another word.

Keep the lines of communication open. Sometimes the deadline problem isn’t as big as it seems.

3. Keep Calm

I used to be pretty good about keeping my work and home life separate, but since they’ve become one in the same, this becomes quite a bit more difficult.

As such, since work stress bleeds into my home life even more than it normally would, I was a generally unhappy guy. It took me longer than I’d like to admit to realize that.

Day and night, I worked, I stressed about work, I complained about work, and I got called out on it.

It was like a slap to the face I needed. There will always be a level of stress I have to deal with – we all have to deal with – in our professional lives, but we shouldn’t let it take over us. We have to work through. Life goes on.

So in short, my advice is stick to a strict schedule, create a waiting list if needed, and above all, work through one step, one day at a time.

Thanks for reading! I’ll do my utmost not to disappear on you again.

How do you prevent or deal with overbooking? Discuss in the comments below! 

Be sure to check out my portfolio and professional site here

My freelancing e-book, Dip Into the Ink Pot, is now available on Amazon by clicking here!
Don’t forget to like, comment and subscribe to the blog if you like what you see, and I’ll talk to you next week!

– Adam

 

Cell Phones Have Ruined Everything: The 5 Things I learned from R.L. Stine

Credit/Buzzfeed

Credit/Buzzfeed

Good morning, my dear readers!

I was thrilled to note the lovely writers over at Buzzfeed recently hosted an interview with R.L. Stine, author of the Goosebumps and Fear Street series.

I read nearly every book of the old Goosebumps series when I was a kid, so I was thrilled to note that not only is he still writing at age 70, but a Goosebumps movie is scheduled for release this August!

With that in mind, here are a few things I learned from the YA scare master himself in his recent interview:

1. Life can take you on entirely different-than-planned paths.

“So I always say when I talk to young people and talk to people in school, you can’t really plan your life because things don’t just work out the way you think. You always end up somewhere else. …I never planned to write scary stuff ever. I liked it when I was a kid, but I always wanted to be funny.”

2. Author ideas evolve in unusual ways (I might have to keep this one in mind).

“I kind of work backwards from most authors, and my trick is to think of a title, not an idea. A year ago I was walking my dog in Riverside Park and these words flashed into my head: Little Shop of Hamsters. It’s a great title, right? So then I think, Well how do you make a hamster scary? This was the challenge: Do you have maybe a thousand hamsters somewhere, or do you have a giant hamster? And it sort of leads me to the story; it’s what happens almost all the time.”

3. There are ways to make even “cookie-cutter” characters work for you.

“I’m always criticized for not doing much characterization. One of my editors said that I’m great with full-blown, cardboard characters; that’s my real talent. But you want the reader to think they’re the protagonist, so I don’t do much in the way of description so the reader will assume that it’s them in this situation.”

4. As culture and technology evolve, so, too, must stories, for better or worse.

“You know, cell phones have ruined everything. They’ve ruined every plot, seriously. You used to have this plot where the girl is getting these frightening phone calls and she’s trying to figure out who’s calling her. You can’t do that story anymore [because the name is] right there on the phone. In the first new Fear Street novel, Party Games…they arrive on this island, they’re all invited to a birthday party, and the guy who’s giving the party collects all the phones and said, “We’re not going to have phones this weekend.” I had him collect all the phones to get them out of the way so they couldn’t just call for help, because now you can just call for help. So you have to find some way around it now.

5. If you love writing, no matter how old you get, keep going.

“I still love [writing], I enjoy it. This is what I’ve done since I was 9 years old. I was a weird, weird kid. I would be in my room typing and I don’t know why, but I still enjoy it. It’s so much fun for me. Someone once asked me, “What’s the worst advice you ever got?” and I thought back and I remembered my mother. I’d be in my room typing and she said, “Stop all that typing and go outside and play.” That’s the worst advice I ever got.”

Read the entire interview here. If you’re a big R.L. Stine fan, you can also check out this article.

Who are your favourite authors? What’s the best bit of advice they ever gave? Discuss in the comments below! 

Be sure to check out my portfolio and professional site here

My freelancing e-book, Dip Into the Ink Pot, is now available on Amazon by clicking here!
Don’t forget to like, comment and subscribe to the blog if you like what you see, and I’ll talk to you next week!

– Adam

 

Blogging in No Time!

Hello, my dear readers!

On the record, my lack of post last week was my April Fool’s Day gift from me to you!

Off the record, I was inundated with a series of quickly approaching deadlines, none of which were about to whoosh past me!

hun army mulan

Artist’s depiction of Adam’s deadlines.

This week’s topic was rather poignant and I happened to find it searching Buffer (which I’ll discuss at a later date).

Among the suggested material I should post on my business social media was a post by Michael Hyatt called ” How to Blog if You Don’t Have Time.”

Well, isn’t that appropriate.

Often times, I find myself so wrapped up in other projects I forget about writing on my blog. And to my readers, however many you happen to be, I apologize. Please don’t take my absence personally.

With that said, Hyatt reminds me and other freelancers and writers (not aspiring writers; writers. If you write, you’re a writer. End of.):

1. You’re in charge of your schedule. You are the one who has to find time to update your readers on goings-on or share the latest recipe, crocheting pattern, game walkthrough — whatever! Even if it’s just a little time here and there throughout  the week, that little time adds up. Like any investment, lots of little things add up to one big thing. If need be, set a timer and dedicate a spot of time each day to write for your site.

2. Keep your subject close. If your site is about knitting (and writing and crocheting, as noted here), knit and think about what other knitters want to know. If an idea pops into your head, mark your place and write the idea down. Maybe you won’t get around to writing the idea for a little while yet, but it’s best to capture it whenever and however you can.

3. Stay focused. I realize this comes from someone who is his own worst enemy sometimes when it comes to finding new and creative ways to not tackle an unpleasant task, but bear with me. Even if you’re just pouring out a stream of consciousness onto your paper or screen, you’re writing, and through that writing sprouts ideas. Think of it as practice. And who knows? These little bits of consciousness writing could help you turn out your next blog post – or two or three!

For more information, check out Hyatt’s writing here!

How do you keep at it on your blog? Discuss in the comments below!

Be sure to check out my portfolio and professional site here

My freelancing e-book, Dip Into the Ink Pot, is now available on Amazon by clicking here!
Don’t forget to like, comment and subscribe to the blog if you like what you see, and I’ll talk to you next week!

– Adam