It Happens Like That

For me, writing has always come easily for me. I can sit down and typically hammer out anywhere from 3500 to 8000 words in a single day. The most I have done is almost 14,000. Even when I’m struggling with the plot, I can still hammer out the words and work myself out of the issue I’m having. For me, it happens like that. The words just flow. Sometimes not well, but that’s what rewriting and editing is for. The first draft is to get the story out of my head and onto what used to be paper, but is now a computer screen. There are times I miss hand writing my stories, but my wrist and hand don’t miss it one bit.

For my husband, he has brilliant story ideas but often stares at a blank screen trying to form what he wants to say. For him, it’s a struggle to get 500 words a day. That’s most days. And then, there are days where he can get over 3000. There are days where we stay up way past our bedtime because he finally found those elusive words and I don’t want to be the one to call it quits for him. I know what it’s like to want to just keep writing and writing. For him, it happens like that.

My point of this is that each writer is different, even those who write together. Each writer has their own process. Their own method. Their own way of doing things. Yes, we often compare ourselves to other writers but that’s to learn from them, to learn to do things our own way. It does a writer no good to mimic another. We can learn from other writers of how to do something that we, ourselves, struggle with but we all must find our own way of doing things that works for us. Otherwise, and this is from experience, writing is no longer a joy but a chore.

The two things we have taken away from writing and being self-published authors is:

1.) You have to write for yourself and in your own way. You can’t constantly compare yourself to other writers who seemingly can write a book in a month or less (that’s me) and you struggle to get one a year (that’s my husband). Your story is different from theirs. Your method is different, too. Writing is unique, even if the story is similar to another story out there. And trust me, there are millions of stories out there. There are going to be similarities, no matter how hard you try. You just have to learn to live with it.

2.) As a writer, you never stop learning. You never stop learning how to improve your craft whether it’s from writing or reading. You learn what works and what doesn’t work. What areas of writing you need to work on. Character dialogue. Scene building. Making each character different from the others. Plot. Ending a story. The list goes on and on. Writing is something that is always going to improve, which is why it’s important not to give up. Even should we continue writing until we’re ninety years old, we’re still going to have something new to learn. Writing is a learning process that never stops.

It happens like that.

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A Writing Confession

We haven’t written anything in 3 days! That’s saying something for us. We always write something, even if it’s only a paragraph or just a sentence. But, it’s been 3 days since either of us have wanted to write. Sometimes, although we love to write, we need to take a break from it. While we’ve taken this break, it feels as if we’re a little more refreshed and focused now.

Life is supposed to be enjoyable, and so is writing. But when writing starts to feel like something else, one needs to take a break from it and reflect on why it’s feeling different. Writing, for us, isn’t supposed to feel like a chore, not when we’ve always loved writing and creating new worlds and people. However, writing had started to feel like it was something we HAD to do, and it’s because we lost focus. We were focusing more on the end result than on the enjoyable process of creating and writing. We were starting to write for other people. That’s something neither of us have ever wanted to do. We want to write the stories we want to write, not what we think others want us to. The reason we write for ourselves is because we know not everyone is going to like our stories or the way we write. That’s okay as long as we like it.

On a side note, it’s also nice to know there are people out there who enjoy our stories. We are fortunate enough to have a few fans who absolutely love our stories and we always look forward to hearing from them. We also enjoy hearing from others who have stumbled across one of our novels.

Now that we refocused our priorities again, the pages and stories are coming easier again. Thank goodness! Hopefully, we won’t slip again.  I’m not saying that we won’t. We’re only human. The important thing is we try not to lose our focus and that we continue to enjoy doing what we do.

A note to other writers out there. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Writing is hard enough without the extra harsh criticism coming from ourselves. It’s okay to be critical of your own work, but don’t become so critical of it, you start to hate doing what you do. Chances are, even if you go over your manuscript a thousand times, there’s going to be some mistake in there that someone will point out. It’s okay. I’ve read a few traditionally published books that had several mistakes in them. I’ve read indie books with only one or two. It all depends on the editor. Mistakes happen and are easily overlooked sometimes. Just remember to enjoy yourself. Life is too short for anything less.

 

Weekend Reminiscing

My husband and I spent this weekend going through our story idea folders, and I mean folders. We have so many different ideas, in so many different genres. Some of the ideas were horrible and were re-purposed into other, more interesting stories. Some didn’t even seem like ideas and were just deleted. Then, there were some that made us giggle with the thought that we once thought these were good stories. The ideas were saved and tucked away for when we want to work on that particular story. I can honestly say our writing has had tremendous improvements. I can also say, there’s a lot of room for more improvement. We’re always learning something new. We’re always trying something new.

We really needed this kind of weekend. Both of us have been struggling with writing lately. We’ve been wondering if it’s worth continuing, as it is time consuming and sometimes frustrating. For the most part, we enjoy writing. We enjoy the world building. We enjoy the character development. And, as we talked about, in another post, we do enjoy the certain amount of control we have over things that happen. More importantly, we enjoy sharing these worlds and characters that float around inside of our heads with each other. We enjoy sharing them and developing these worlds together until it reflects both of us. So far, it hasn’t led into an argument, just discussions and more ideas that pop out, helping round out stories in areas that may be lacking. Basically, we enjoy that this is something we can share with one another.

What we don’t enjoy about writing is probably what most beginning authors don’t enjoy. It’s time consuming. Editing can be irritating and more time consuming then the actual writing of the book. Sometimes, the dream of living off our writing is just that; a dream. The market is flooded with millions of books and it can be difficult to be seen through all those books. Yet, we persist. Our dreams will never happen if we don’t at least try. We never thought to see any of our books sell or even see one of our novels in print. Yet, we have. We’ve even signed books for people. That’s an amazing and awkward feeling all at the same time.

Even if we never make it big, we can die happy knowing we tried and never gave up. It’s one of the many conversations we had this weekend. It’s one of the many things, my husband and I have in common. Perseverance.  It’s what’s gotten us to this point in our lives. It’s what will get us to the next. So, if you’re struggling with reasons why you should continue to write, just know, you aren’t alone. There are others out there who wonder if it’s worth it. I’m going to tell you right now that it is. It’s worth every single struggle you’ll face as an author, indie or no. It’s WORTH it. No questions. Keep struggling. Keep writing. Keep attempting to live your dreams. The only person in charge of seeing your dreams happen is you.

Daily Goals

So last week, we discussed how we don’t have a routine down for writing and that it works for us. Every author is different. Some people need routines. Others work better without them. We might not have a routine set for when we write, but we do set daily goals.

On the weekday, my husband sets a 1200 word count for himself on whatever WIP he’s working on. My word count is 3000 and that’s because I don’t work a job that pays the bills. I often go above this word count on a WIP that I’m just really into. You know those that you go to sleep thinking about and wake up thinking about. I love those pieces. However, I must say that the ones we struggle with are sometimes written better and your writing is better because of the struggle.

Now, on the weekends, because it’s the weekend, sometimes we don’t write at all. Sometimes all we want to do is “goof off” which I believe is healthy. It can’t be work, work, work all the time. Regardless, we usually get some writing done. Not a lot. And that’s because writing for us is a passion. It’s what we love to do, followed closely by reading and playing awesome video games. I have a feeling for the next couple of weeks, we might not get a lot of writing done. Mass Effect: Andromeda is coming out and we have been huge Mass Effect fans for years. So, this is an exciting game for us and we hope it lives up to our expectations. And although we know we’ll be playing a lot of the game, we will still have writing goals. It’ll just be harder to obtain them.

Setting a daily writing goal helps encourage us to write. Let’s face it, there are some days where we just don’t want to write and have to force ourselves. I think that’s one of many writer’s curses. You know you should write, you normally love to write, but for some reason, you can’t bring yourself to actually write.

Just remember, when it comes to writing, daily goals are important to keep you on track. Even if no one sees the manuscript, it is still important to have written it down. Writing every day is what makes us better at what we love to do. The saying practice makes perfect really applies here, though I doubt anyone could ever “perfect” their writing. It certainly improves, but I’m a firm believer that there is always something which can be improved upon.

So, set those goals and enjoy your time writing! Even those difficult scenes can be enjoyable, after the fact.

Finding Time to Write?

This is mostly a rant, so we apologize before we even begin.

We hate it when people say they can’t find time to write, especially when they proceed to watch a couple hours of television or play video games, etc, etc. There’s your time. You are just not willing to make the time to write. You’d rather do something else, that’s okay. We get it. You’re not writers. Writers always MAKE time to write, whether it’s giving up television watching, playing games, a hour or two of something else, even sleep, as we often do.

Writers want to write. The most important thing for us (most days) is to write. We often give up things, usually sleep and a social life. We’re okay with that. We’d rather be writing and creating wonderful new worlds and characters to go into them anyway. That’s our fun time. Yes, it’s still work and yes, it can be aggravating, but for the most part, that’s what we enjoy doing, it’s why we make sacrifices throughout the day to “find” time to write.

Writing becomes just a part of who you are, so those sacrifices we were talking about, are no longer sacrifices. We’d rather be writing than doing those things. For us, we would much rather write all day long than watch any television programming! We gave up watching TV years ago and we don’t miss it one bit. Our time to write is now. When we’re not writing or playing video games as a reward, we’re reading.

Writing is so much more than just “finding time to write”. Writing is a lifestyle choice and you either are willing to make the choices or you’re not.

Writing for the WRONG Reasons

Here are our thoughts about the reasons to write. You should write the stories you want, not the stories others think you should write. It’s part of staying true to yourself. Once you start writing to what other people, or society, thinks you should be writing, you lose a little part of yourself. You lose the reason you love to write.

We have tried to write romance as it seems to be a popular genre in today’s society and we have failed. The stories never turn out as good as the stories we want to write. In fact, there are several romance stories, we haven’t finished. Why? Simply because it’s not us. It’s not what we like. We’re more of the fantasy and sometimes science fiction writer. It’s what we enjoy. Certainly, we can throw romance elements into these genres though, and we do.

The other reason you shouldn’t write is in the hopes of making lots of money. It’s extremely hard to do. There are so many books out there now, it can be difficult to get yours noticed or even accepted through a traditional publisher. It’s one of the reasons, we continue to write the way we like and offer our books at very reasonable price compared to other indie authors. We’re not in it to make lots of money. Would it be nice to live off of our writing? Of course! We just don’t expect it. We write because we love to write, and there are people out there who absolutely adore our books. From time to time, we even buy our own books and give them out to people freely. We want people to enjoy the story as much as we do.

I think the moment we start writing for the wrong reasons, is the moment we lose who we are. We write because we enjoy to. There are certain aspects of writing, we don’t like. For example, all of the edits each of our stories go through. Sometimes, it’s a little overwhelming, and sometimes, we get tired of reading our own stories over and over. But when it’s all finished, it was well worth the time and effort, especially when readers get back to us and tell us how much they enjoyed our books. That in itself is an awesome reward.

As a writer, we feel it is important to stay true to what and who you are.

To pay or not to pay?

That is a question Indie authors eventually have to ask themselves. All authors live and die by the people who read and review their books, but when you self-publish it’s even more important. Indie authors have no one but themselves working for them to advertise and promote their work.

Getting someone to review your book can be as difficult as trying to juice a rock. You send out several dozen review requests just to get a single response and even then the person will get to your book when they have the time, which can be as far out as 6 or 7 months. Then you repeat the process and pray that someone wants to review your book.

Somewhere along the line you hear about a ‘service’ that will read and review your book in a relatively decent time frame. ‘Decent’ means days or weeks instead of months. They say things like ‘3 stars or better’ and ‘published on every major book retailer site’. Only $99.99 or $12.99 a month for six months, or something like that.

They always sound tempting. Get a review, any kind of review, in less than half a year.

Unpaid reviews are seen as honest and unbiased. The reviewer feels no obligation to give a ‘good’ review simply because they were paid to do the review. People look at those reviews as ‘fair’.

A paid review has a stigma attached to it. It’s assumed that a paid review is the same as a paid ‘good’ review, even if it’s not. Readers see it as ‘this person’s book was not good enough to get a ‘honest’ review, so they had to pay for one’.

This is the dilemma. You have to choose whether you want to do paid reviews and attempt to get your book noticed faster or continue to do the unpaid reviews that take longer and will eventually achieve the same result with patience. We feel it is better to stick to the unpaid reviews even if it takes longer to achieve the goals we want. We feel the unpaid reviews are more honest as the reader wanted to read them and was not paid to do so. Ultimately, the choice is up to each individual author whether to pay for reviews or not.