Celebrate the “Lousy” Days

I have a confession to make…

I did not write 5000 words today. I didn’t write 2500 words today.

Didn’t even get close.

I edited a chapter, it took me – probably – longer than it should have because I’ve got a cold-thing that has half of my head feeling like it’s been packed with concrete and my balance centers have me walking in circles.

Pretty much all the time, what you see on social media are the good writing days. The AWESOME writing days and, don’t get me wrong, those are definitely things to be celebrated. My 5000 word days are so few and far between, I feel the need to splurge on a steak dinner when they show up so, hell yeah, I’m going to drop that into Twitter.

You see everyone’s “A” game.

What you don’t see so much of are the “Lousy” writing days*. Think about it. When was the last time you saw posts that read:

“Spent my writing time today trying to wring something useful out of my brain and ended up with 350 words.”

“Feel like 10 miles of bad road covered by old yogurt, but I wrote. Barely remember what I wrote, but I got it down, damn it.”

“Really didn’t want to write today, but I did.”

Those are the real successes that we need to see more of. Those are the days that call for celebration. It wasn’t easy. In fact it was pretty daunting to sit down and make with the writing, or the writing didn’t come easy, but you did it anyway.

I call that a win.

If you’re anything like me, there are days where you need to know that the struggle is real for everyone, and that you’re not the only one banging your head against the keyboard, trying to make the words.

To that end, I want to encourage you this week to post about your writing day. Keep the varnish off. If you had a great day, post about it. If you barely managed to get anything done at all, post about it.

You’re doing the work and, damn it, that’s worthy of notice.

Even when it’s hard.

Especially when it’s hard.

I’ll be doing that this week and, if you post about it, include me. I want to hear about the day-to-day successes.

I’m on:

Twitter @kenschrader4882

and Facebook

 

 

 

*There are no truly bad writing days. I know that, for myself, I try and hold to a sometimes unreasonable standard as to what a “Productive” day should look like. Most of the time I make it. Sometimes I don’t and have a tendency to discount the entire time as being useless, even though that is a total crap kind of thought.

 

 

Time: 3:30 pm-ish

Music: Hammerfall – Let the Hammer Fall

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Blogging this week

This week I’m blogging at The Million Words website. Come check it out, You’ll be glad you did!

You can find it Here

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Showing Up

Maybe you’ve heard this before: 80 percent of success is showing up.

I tried to track down who it was that originally said that and the closest I could get was a quote from Woody Allen, but he was talking about life.

I agree with the quote, but what, exactly does “Showing up” mean?

On the surface, I think it means exactly what it says. You’ve got to “Be there”. Whether “There” means submitting your work, going to a workshop, or a convention, or finding the nerve to go up to that person or (shudder) group and introduce yourself*, showing up is essential.

Looking at the blank screen this morning, trying to figure out what I was going to write about, I discovered a deeper meaning to “Showing up.”

Showing up is the Monday morning writing session after the convention has ended, before work, before the sun has risen. Showing up is working on a Friday night, when your gang wants you to other things. Showing up is getting the work done. Even when you don’t want to do it. Especially when you don’t want to do it. But you do it anyway.

Looking at it from that perspective, I’m going to bump that percentage up to 90 or even 95 and reserve that final 5-10 percent for the things that you can’t control.

That’s what showing up means. You put in the work. You practice. You improve.

90 percent of success is showing up and, if you keep showing up, you’ll succeed.

Good Luck**

 

Time: 11:26 am – ish

Music: Breaking Benjamin – The Diary of Jane

*This is something that I struggle with every time. And every time I manage to get past it – and there have been moments where I haven’t – it has been worth it. Every. Time.

**Luck would fall into that 5-10% of things that you can’t control, but I’ve found that the better prepared you are to capitalize on Luck, the more often opportunities to capitalize on Luck will arise.

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How do you keep going?

I’ve seen the question posed by the title of this blog post a number of times over the past few weeks.

It’s a good question because, if you’re anything like me, current events and the latest outrages tend to hit you pretty hard, leaving you drained and tired and that’s not the best footing to start off on any creative endeavor.

For the professional writer, the quick answer is:

“You just do, because it’s your job.”

This has the advantage of being absolutely correct. If you’re making a living with your art, whatever it is, if you don’t produce, you don’t get to do things like pay the bills…

or eat.

Pretty compelling reasons to get your butt in the chair and get stuff done.

“Just do it” doesn’t, really, answer the underlying question. Whomever is asking “How do you keep going?” is probably very aware of the consequences of not producing their art if they’re doing it professionally. I suspect that, more often, it’s the people that ~Aren’t~ creating professionally that are asking the question. They want to create, but at the end of the day, they’re so worn down that they don’t have it in them to do it.

They’re asking for help.

So here’s what works for me. Maybe, by sharing this, it – or part of it – will help someone struggling out there.

First thing:

Step away from it. Put some distance between you and the raging tire fire that social media has predominantly become. Sure, you want to stay current, but there isn’t any way that you can stay on top of it all, so don’t even try. If you ~Have~ to check in, don’t do it first thing in the morning.

Second thing:

Remind yourself of why you create your art. Remind yourself of how it makes you feel. What you want to accomplish. Once you’ve got that, arrange your schedule so that you’re creating your art before you do anything else.* This isn’t as easy as it sounds. I get up pretty early in the morning so that I can get my writing done, first thing. And, if you know me at all, you know that, left to my own devices, I really burn the midnight oil.

If that’s not doable for you, carve out time where you can do what you do, regularly. If you’ve done the first thing and put some distance between you and what’s going on, getting back into the groove should become easier.

Third thing:

I’d like you to take a moment to watch this video:

Yes, at it’s core, it’s an ad for headphones. If that’s all you got out it, it probably won’t do you any good to keep reading. Just so that your time here won’t be completely wasted, here’s a picture of the World’s longest scarf:

 

 

 

 

And Onward…

I watch this video on a pretty regular basis and I wanted to share it with you for a few reasons.

First, I ~Love~ the Haka. Might be that it you’ll find it as moving as I do. It speaks to me on a level that I can’t articulate.

Second, I’ve adopted the concept of “Start Again.” You do what you can for as long as you can, and then you stop for the day. The next day, you pick up right where you left off and you Start Again. That’s progress. Momentum. And if you realize that you’re making progress, it’s easier to keep going, despite everything else that’s happening around you.

Third, going back to the Haka, the name of the Haka is “We Belong here.”** Ultimately, the root of what the Haka is about is your “Belonging Place.” In the context of the video, this place is a physical location. I think that your art – whatever it is that you do – is also a Belonging Place.

You’ve heard me refer to it as other things. Slipping into “The Zone” is one of my favorites. Wherever it is that you go to do that one thing that calls to you, be it a track, a studio, a theater, or your imagination, you go to your Belonging Place.

And when you’re in your Belonging Place, there is no room for the things of the world that would drain you and keep you from creating.

Hell, things like Time have to work to squeeze in. I listen to music when I write. I’ve got Blind Guardian‘s entire catalog and I set it to loop. When I am in my Belonging Place, the music registers, but it’s completely in the background. I don’t even hear the words.

The more often you go to your Belonging Place, the easier it is for you to get there. In your Belonging Place, it’s just you and your art.

That’s how I keep going. Looking back at the last 800 words, you could say that I’ve, basically, said “Just do it”, but I don’t think so.

“Just do it” gives you the “What”. It doesn’t give you the “Why” of what you’re doing and, without that, it becomes mechanical, cold, and that won’t get you anywhere.

So take care of yourself. Limit your exposure to things that will wear you down. Remind yourself of why you do what you do. Tell yourself that you ~are~ making progress. And go to your Belonging Place, that one place where you do what only you can do.

You can keep going.

 

Time: 11:59 Am-ish

Music: Nightwish – Elan

*After coffee, that is. You’re not a machine for god’s sakes.

**I’m not going to try and spell it in Maori.

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Recharging

Who’s job was it to keep an eye on the author this month?

Oh, yeah…it was mine.

So I’ve kinda fallen off the wagon when it comes to getting a blog post up each week. Some of it – ok, most of it – was simply a mental energy deficit.

We’ve all got our own number of spoons to get stuff done with* and, for the past little bit, that’s been writing in the morning, the day job, and home.

That’s not to say that there hasn’t been other stuff going on. There has been, and I might be able to talk about it soon, but it’s been draining and, at the end of the week, I just haven’t had the energy to get anything down on the blog.

The warmer weather and, I’m thinking more importantly, being able to see the blue of the sky, and the sun has given me a boost. With luck I can keep the momentum going and get back on a regular schedule.

In the mean time, if you’re sticking it out with me, thanks. I appreciate it.

Do what you need to do to take care of yourself. Once you’ve done that, everything else will fall into place.

 

Hey there, Y’All. The Trials and Tribulations Blog tour is starting up.

Tomorrow, we’ll be at:

I Love to Read – Stop by for an interview

Stormy Nights Reviewing – Stop by for an Excerpt

Two Heartbeats – Stop by for a Guest Post

Tiffany Shand’s Blog – Stop by for a Guest Post

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can find the full schedules here:

Enchanted Book Promotions

Lola’s Blog Tours

Be sure to follow us along for heaps of Awesomeness!

 

*Spoon Theory

 

Time: 12:00 Pm – ish

Music: Epica – Trois Vierges (Solo Version)

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Slipped, Stumbled, Nearly Fell.

I was going to start this post off by saying that, for a month that started out so well, January really turned on me at the end.

But I think that might be laying too much blame on January’s shoulders to be fair.

And, honestly, January was pretty cool. I got to be a panelist at ConFusion. The panels were great and I got to meet a ton of people I’ve always wanted to meet. I’ll put up a post about that later on.

I think, at the end there, it reached a point where I couldn’t continue to carry it all and something broke.

I got sick right after ConFusion. A dry cough on Tuesday that, by Wednesday, turned into something that felt like my lungs were filled with watery concrete. I didn’t write. I was depressed. I was not getting stuff done for friends. I just didn’t have the energy. That depressed me more. Not writing depressed me further. I missed a week on the blog and then another and I started to question my commitment.

That’s when the imposter syndrome kicked in. “See how easy it was for you to quit?” it said. “You haven’t written for an entire week. You didn’t even struggle like a real writer would have.”

When I did manage to get upstairs, the writing wasn’t working. The book that I’d committed to myself to write by the end of the year had stalled in the outline. It just wasn’t coming together.

I went to “The Well” of social media to get away from the pressure, stress, and depression of the writing not working to find that the well had become a burning tarpit of rage and hate. I tried to focus on the good stuff that folks had posted, buried under all the vitriol. Friends were releasing books, being accepted as guests to cons, things were going well. I wanted to see that, needed to see that, but it ultimately depressed me because that’s not where I was.

That’s the thing with social media. You’re seeing everyone’s A-Game while you’re bobbling, and fumbling, and struggling to make headway. You don’t see the struggles on the other end, just as they don’t see yours.

It got so bad that I had to step back for a couple of days to escape it. I think it was at this time, I had the seeds of an idea to change things up, but It would still be a few days before anything happened.

By the end of the weekend, I shook the sickness. Not the cough, entirely…I’ve still got that to this day, but whatever was sucking on me like an energy vampire – my immune system finally staked that bastard.

Monday, I woke up to find that the heater in the house had stopped working. I spent the day waiting for service and watching the boiler temperature indicator drift closer and closer to freezing and wondering what would happen if it froze and how much it would cost (It didn’t freeze and things are working well now, thanks).

No writing that day and, as I walked into the office, all bundled up and twitchy from two cups of coffee and no food, my wife asked me if I was ok.

The dam broke.

For what must have been five minutes, it all just poured out of me. Some of it I’ve talked about here, and I came real close to losing my shit at that moment.

When I was done, I felt like I had to apologize. I didn’t *Need* to, of course and she told me that before I got started, but I still felt like I had to.

Despite how messed up that is (and that might be another topic I’ll get to later), that was when I really started getting better.

The next day, I woke up to a rejection email. It was worse than a form rejection. It was a broken form rejection where part of the automated process that inserts the person’s name at the end of the email failed.

It should have been devastating, receiving a rejection letter from %reader% (No typos here, that’s how it was signed), but it wasn’t. I did decide, then, that I wouldn’t look at my email immediately after I woke up anymore (something that has turned out to be both beneficial and surprisingly difficult to do).

That morning, I went upstairs, opened the WIP and I hauled 99% of it to the “Muse Droppings” folder and started over.

It was slow going, but it worked. Over the rest of the week, I’ve built an alien race that I hadn’t planned on initially, and I’ve got an opening scene. More importantly, I’m thinking about the story during the day, which is something that I hadn’t been doing before.

Like all healing, it’s a long game. I’m refocusing my life on the basics. The really important stuff.

There have been setbacks. I arrived to a trainwreck at work on Tuesday and it was all I could do to make it through the day, but I got up on Wednesday morning and wrote.

I’m easing my way back into social media and I’ve started posting more than I have been. While the tarpit is still flaming, I will not fan those flames. I am being the change I want to see in the world, posting encouragement and (hopefully) entertaining stuff. I don’t spend a lot of time there anymore, but I do want to make the most of the time I do spend there.

I really didn’t expect this to be a 1000+ word post. If you’re still with me after all of this, I’d like to ask for just a little bit more of your time.

Life is messy sometimes. When the shit hits the fan, you will need to deal with it in a healthy manner. It’s ok to do what you need to do to take care of yourself. It’s ok to talk to the people in your life about it (Like I should have been doing – a lesson that I am still learning). Get help when you need it. The work will be there when you’re ready to go back.

So take care of yourself. Step back if you need to and – take it from someone that *still* needs to have it drilled into his head – talk to the important people in your life.

You’ll find your way back on track and you’ll find folk that are rooting for you to do just that.

I am.

 

Time: 1:06 Pm-ish

Music: Lynn Hollyfield – Fear the Wind

 

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Challenge Accepted

Two weeks ago, I talked about some of my plans for 2017:

To recap, I set down the challenge to write either one book this year or no less than 10 short stories and submit them.

I decided on writing the book and have been working steadily on it since the turn of the year.

But writing doesn’t happen in a vacuum–although sometimes it feels like it. The truth is that every other aspect of my life has an impact, one way or the other, on my writing. Take, for example, last Thursday and Friday when I figured that a combined 4 more hours of sleep to combat the cold, or whatever the hell creeping-crud I had, was worth more to me than getting up at 5:30 am and getting words on the page.

Take care of yourself people.

So, figuring that it’s all interconnected, I thought I’d post my other plans for 2017.

Build on my momentum from 2016.  In some respects, 2016 was a dumpster fire. I won’t go into details, but it also wasn’t all bad:

  • I participated in the official Launch Party for one of my books last year. That got me in as a guest at a con I’ve never been to before. I got to meet some people that I’ve always wanted to meet, I crashed my first panel – bringing the total number of readings that weekend to two, and I’m walking around with the memory of someone asking if they could get a picture of me with them and my book.
  • I had another book release in 2016.

So how do I build on that? More accurately, what can I do to influence an environment where so much is out of my control?

Keep Writing. Be Flexible.

There is a certain amount of “Right Place-Right Time” that goes on in the publishing business. Being able to capitalize on an unexpected opportunity, while not waiting (or hoping) for unexpected opportunities is key.

So is being able to get the word out about what is going on with me and my books, which leads me to…

Expand my Web Presence. Now, I’m already, kinda, doing this. I’ve got this blog and (this is important) I’m updating it regularly. While I’m not anywhere near being able to update it daily, I’m getting a post out once a week and that’s not bad. I just need to maintain that and, this year, I’m going to push myself to get more posts out.

Additionally, I’m a regular contributor to the Million Words website. I’ve got a schedule, but I’m not as active there as I could be, and I’d like to improve that.

I’m also on Facebook and Twitter. While I echo Twitter post to my facebook page, facebook is more for me. That leaves Twitter.

I started the year thinking that I could swing a tweet a day, but I fell off that wagon pretty quickly. Too many irons in the fire, that sort of thing.

The nice thing about Twitter is that there are tools that I can use to automate postings (like about a couple of books that came out recently). I’ve got to invest time in learning how to use them, but I think, in the long run, that time will be well spent.

Self improvement. About this time of year, just about everyone has something like this on their yearly “To-Do” list but, in 2017 there are some things that I really need to get a handle on and steer in a different direction.

I’ll admit it, so far, the year has gotten off to a rocky start, but there challenge is still there.

And I will rise to meet it.

 

If you get the chance, come on out and see me Next Weekend at ConFusion. I’ll love to see you!

 

Time: 12:56 pm-ish

Music: Howard Shore – The Riders of Rohan

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ConFusion Schedule

Hi there all!

ConFusion is a Science Fiction and Fantasy convention in Michigan. It will be at the Novi Sheraton* and it runs from January 19th to the 22nd.

This will be my first time at the convention and my first time there as a panelist.

Here’s my schedule if you want to come catch up with me:

  • January 20th – 6:00 Pm – Panel: I believe I can Fly
  • January 20th – 7:00 Pm – Panel: Defying Gravity
  • January 21st – 10:00 Am – Panel: Interstellar Colonies
  • January 21st – 2:00 Pm – Panel: You got your Romance in my Science Fiction (as of this posting, I am the only guy on this panel AND I’m on this panel with Gail Carriger – whom I’ve wanted to meet for a long time – how cool is that!!)
  • January 21st – 3:00 Pm – Reading (I’ll be reading from Trials)

The theme of this year’s ConFusion is Friendship!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So there will be Ponies.

 

 

 

 

Lots of Ponies.

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t step on any tails – Ye have been warned.

 

 

 

 

*As of this time, all of the room at the Novi Sheraton have been booked. Check out the Overflow Hotels

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2017 – Where to Begin?

Happy New Year!!!

For those of you that don’t benefit from the video feed*, I’m doing a huge muppet arm-flail and my dogs are looking at me like I’ve lost it.

I hope that this year brings peace to all of you.

I also want to say a huge THANK YOU to everyone who bought my books  in 2016. You are all awesome and I hope you enjoyed the stories.

So, as the first post of 2017, I’m asking myself: Where to begin?

I’ll be asking myself that a lot this year. But, before I get into any of that, I’d like to take a look back.

Remember back in January when I said that I was going to try and get in a post a week?  Well, while I didn’t nail that exactly, I did manage 55 posts, which averages out to a post a week and some change!  How cool is that?

While I was reading over last January’s post, it struck me that, at this time last year, my book was being considered for representation. That book is, again, being considered for representation this January. I’m feeling pretty positive about it, but got me to thinking about what I’ve written in 2016.

Where to begin?

It wasn’t like I’ve been idle. It’s been more like I was scattered. There was a lot of rewriting and editing going on in between short stories, but it wasn’t as focused as I’d have liked. Not helping matters are the “Year in Review” posts to the blogs I follow. Instinctively, I know I shouldn’t be comparing myself to other writers, but when I read that Chuck Wendig wrote 3-and-a-half books last year and compare it to my output (Which was 4 short stories and a whole lot of polishing), I start to feel…well, theres a list and words like insignificant and lazy are up near the top.

This isn’t true, and it’s not fair.

Chuck is a full time writer. That’s what he does. Me, I’ve got a full-time job and a whole bunch of other things that demand my time. So, unless I give up things like sleeping (ever), there’s no way I’m going to generate that much output.

This doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t challenge myself.

And that’s going to be the theme of 2017.

Challenge Myself.

Some of the things I will be challenging myself on are personal. Some may make it into the blog, others may not.

My writing challenge for this year is as follows:

I will write one new book this year.

or

I will write no less than 10 short stories…and submit them. Every last one.

There was a part of me that wanted to give myself some wiggle room in case things with the potential agent turn out positively, but I’m going to squash that.

That’s my challenge: One book or 10 short stories this year.

I’ll keep you all up to date on how I’m doing as the year progresses.

Until next time, be safe.

Time: 12:30 pm – ish
Music: Blind Guardian – Tanelorn(Into the Void)

 

 

*There isn’t one…

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Cover Reveal – Tribulations

Hi there everyone!

Today I get to reveal the cover for the second book in the two-book anthology set in Faith Hunter’s Rogue Mage world!!

Behold the Awesomeness!!!

 

 

TRIBULATIONS will go live on Dec 30th.

You can pre-order from Amazon.
(I’ll put up a B&N link once I get one)

Treat yourself to some amazing stories!!

You can pick up a copy of Trials at:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

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