What to Do When You’re Overwhelmed

It happens to us all.

Every now and then you just go a tiny, wee-bit batshit about how much there is to do.

OverwhelmThere are query letters to send, guest posts to write, another round of corrections with your editor, invoices to send out for some freelance work you did…

…there are synopses to be written, your own website hasn’t been updated since the turn of some prior century, your social media followers haven’t heard from you in so long they’ve divided into two camps: Alien Abduction vs. Fallen Into a Narrow Crevasse and Gnawing Her Own Arm Off…

…there are conferences and workshops and networking events to attend, that library wants you to be a guest speaker to some kids (as if they care), research for a piece you’ve been putting off, a steadily-expanding list of writing articles you’ve been meaning to read…

What else?

Oh yeah… the writing.

Actual ass-in-chair bleed-onto-your-keyboard creative time.

You’re only one person. With so many hours in a day. With only so many of those hours that the dog isn’t whining to go out, or the tummy rumbling to put food in, or the plumbing springing a sudden and spectacular leak.

For me it’s about every six months. I flat out lose it. I melt down for a day. You can set your watch to it.

But I always come out of it.

Here’s how… Continue reading What to Do When You’re Overwhelmed

What To Do When the Words Don’t Show Up

We’ve all been there. You run the errands, you walk the dogs. You deal with your boss’s needs, your family’s needs. You take care of business so that you have a few precious hours of Sacred Writing Time, all to yourself.

You feed yourself, you bring your mug of tea with. You get yourself in position at your desk. The door is closed. The laptop is open. Nothing can stop you now. Time to be brilliant, to weave magic onto the page, to create!

frustrationYou poise your fingers over the keys, you look at that blinking cursor, eager to chew its way through evil blank space…

And it blinks.

And blinks.

Continue reading What To Do When the Words Don’t Show Up

Why World-Building Sucks

It’s all Tolkien’s fault, of course. He created races, maps, languages, poems, art… and then decided he better whip up a little story around them.

And everybody’s been trying to do the same since.

It almost seems like new fantasy writers think they have to build a giant background history and world for their characters to walk through like little figurines. How else are you gonna punch your weight in the big leagues of fantasy/sci-fi, right? Gotta outdo the old professor himself.

Continue reading Why World-Building Sucks

Say Goodbye to Your Straightjac-… erm, Genre

One of my all time musical heroes is Mike Patton. I’ll never forget an interview of his where the interviewer (either genuinely confused about his subject, or willfully dismissive of the fact that he had one of the most eclectic performers in rock history sitting in front of him) asked Mike to specify his genre.

Mike looked at the interviewer with utter contempt, and responded: “That’s your job.”

Amen, brother Mike.

Artists (good ones, anyway) do not consciously seek to fall into a classification. They simply create. They leave others to the job of classifying things.

Asking artists to classify themselves is ludicrous. It’s asking an artist to be a librarian. Continue reading Say Goodbye to Your Straightjac-… erm, Genre

photo by: Ian Wilson

For the Fledgling Writer

“Oh, You’re a Writer?”

If you’ve ever introduced yourself as “a writer” to anyone, you know what comes next. We’ve all heard it. “Oh, I tried to write something once! I got about twenty pages in and trashed it.” Everyone on the planet, it seems, has dreamed of writing the next bestseller, and has even pursued it for a whole ten minutes.

My response to this is generally something in between blank astonishment and inarticulate rage.

Continue reading For the Fledgling Writer