Sunday, January 11, 2015

#1 Secret of Writing Is...

I went to a conference in 2014 and listened to a famous editor and author list his "secrets" of writing. The beginning of his list was pretty unremarkable. They were things I'd heard before: Write daily. Learn about the craft. Learn about your topic. Learn what your audience wants. Never give up. Read good books.

You know. All the basics.

Then he said something that stuck with me. He said the number one key to becoming a successful writer was...

Wait for it...

Stop watching TV.

I laughed internally. During previous years when I'd researched and written my master's thesis, I quit watching TV because I literally didn't have time to work, take two classes every semester, and read and write 50 pages a night. After that, I was out of the habit. So ha ha, big famous author! I didn't need your advice.

Or did I?

After I went home from that conference I revamped my blog according to his directions and began to get more traffic. So...he was right about that. I read his books on editing and started getting better acceptance rates on my pieces. He was right about that, too. But I wasn't watching TV! Why wasn't I finding time to write and read and do all the things HE was doing?

Oh. Did I mention I have a tablet with apps on it? Fun apps? That are distracting and mind-numbing?

I rationalized the apps as a way to calm down after a long day at work. As an introvert pretending to be an extrovert, having a mind-numbing game at home to look forward to is bliss. Just me and the tablet and some virtual cookies to match, some zombies to explode, some orange pegs to hit, etc. No people to talk to, no pressure, just me and my tablet and silence. Ahh!

Yet....

One game lead to another and another and soon a five minute break turned into an hour or two. That's enough for several pages of writing and editing. Great work, Cannon. Blew your night's work on a digital sugar/zombie/peg blasting high.

So, I've decided this year things are going to be different. I deleted...YES...deleted my game apps with all the money, all the progress, all the special levels I'd opened and instead am starting a new habit. If I need a break, I'm going to read. Or write. Or edit. Or do something creative. Why?

BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT WRITERS DO, CANNON.

It hurt. It really did. I felt depressed and angry and deprived. Why did I throw all that effort into the trash? Couldn't I control myself and only play just a little a day? No. I knew with my obsessive tendencies that little doses of something I crave never works, so I took a deep breath and closed the tablet.

And do you know what I've found? Wow! I now have time to make that home made moisturizer I've been wanting to try. And cook a home made meal since who knows when? I've already written two stories and kept up better with the dishes and laundry than I have in years. What can I accomplish now that I have all this time on my hands?

And instead of anger or depression or deprivation I. Feel. Free!

Revising habits is painful. Realizing you're in the wrong is even worse. But admitting you have a problem and fixing it can be freeing. Hopefully, this will mean a new chapter...literally...in my life. And maybe for some of you, too.

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Announcements:

Next week: An open letter/rant to Brent Weeks about his Lightbringer Series.
"Week's Lightbringer Series: A Dark Review"

The Anthology Building Red: The Colonization of Mars
is due to be published summer of 2015 by Walrus Publishing.
Watch for updates and announcements.

If you haven't yet, check out Paradigm Rift a new book by Randy McWilson.
Conspiracy, alternative history, time travel, sci/fi, and thriller never had it so good!

Looking for some steampunk? Check out Brad Cook's Iron Horseman
(I'll be writing a review of it, soon.)