20 Reasons to Read Books

Not that most of us need more reasons to read books. ūüôā But if you ever run into one of those “why do you read?” conversations, these might be fun to throw in.

Why You Should Read:
20 Reasons

Ready for the count-down? Here goes!

20. Easy-to-use (No manual required)

Open. Read. It’s that simple.

19. Great pause, fast-forward, and rewind features.

Flip a page. Flip it back. Insert a book mark. Or remember a page number. You don’t even need batteries or a plug!

18. Decent resale value

Sure, it depends on the book. Some of them keep only 10-30% of their resale value, but there are a lot of types of entertainment that have no resale whatsoever.

Of course, you could also keep them and re-read them. Because why get rid of something you like?

17. Great effects – waaaay better than CGI

It’s called imagination. You can make it as intricate or vague as you like. Some people focus on emotion and feelings. Other people love to picture intricate images and design the worlds in their minds. Or you do both as you feel like it.

16. No hidden fees

You pay one charge up front. That’s it – tax included. You don’t get charged extra if you don’t read at a certain speed, if you read it more than once, or if you don’t finish it. One charge – that’s all. There’s not even any interest.

15. No commercial breaks – no upgrade required

That’s right. The only thing that’s going to pause your reading enjoyment is you. Or other people. If you have other people around you – you can always lock them out. Turn off your phone. That sort of thing.

It’s up to you.

14. Single-player and multi-player modes

You can read it by yourself. You can read it and then discuss it in a book club. You can read it to someone. You can have it read to you. You can take turns reading sections. You can even listen to a stranger read it.

So many options.

13. No license renewal

If you’re over 20, you lived through the transition from buying software and getting a cd with the installation information that works forever on as many computers as you want to buying software and having to pay a yearly license fee or new fees for additional users. Well, not for books! Once you buy one, it’s yours!

12. Millions of different models to choose from

And that’s probably an understatement. A major understatement. There are so many different genres of both fiction and nonfiction as well as thousands of different authors with different publications.

Oh, and lest I forget, you don’t have to choose between them. You can read as many or as few as you like.

11. Low budget

What other fun activity can you do repeatedly for under $10? Ok. Don’t answer that. But as far as hobbies go, reading is relatively cheap.

10. Teaches empathy

Reading stories gives you new perspectives into other people’s problems, which in turn leads to empathy. Something that can help you do better in interpersonal relationships whether they’re business relationships or closer than that.

9. Helps with school work

Learn more vocabulary. Improve reading comprehension skills. Increase your understanding of plot and other literary devices. The list goes on and on.

8. Increases IQ

Want to read more about why? Read the lifehack article. For the short version, enlarging vocabulary and improving empathy helps.

7. Available for free

Remember what I said about it being cheap? Well, if you’re willing to take a trip to the library, it’s not only cheap – it’s free! Support your local libraries! And check out neighborhood lending libraries¬†and Project Gutenberg!

6. Broadens experiences

How else can you be an astronaut, a pirate, a court lady, a space-ship captain, and a soldier in the War of 1812? In the same week?

Not to mention black, white, heterosexual, homosexual, male, female, religious, atheistic, shy, outgoing, nerdy, social, racist, broad-minded, and so on. No matter what the demographic or point of view, there are books that can expose you to them and give you a wider understanding of the world and its people.

5. Fun when you’re sober

I know, right? Who knew that was even possible?

Readers. That’s who. Oh, you can read buzzed or drunk if you like, but as you know, cognizance goes down as alcohol intake goes up. So the less alcohol you have, the more likely you are to enjoy the book! Who’d’ve thunk?

4. Great way to meet people

I know I mentioned book clubs (great way to meet new people, especially when you like having a cue for breaking the ice); however, reading books in public? Great icebreaker.

Well, unless you’re trying to read. Then, people asking you what you’re reading can actually be a bit aggravating. In fact, I’d recommend that you only read in public when reading is not the actual goal. Ooh, or unless you do it on your phone or kindle. Then, people don’t know.

3. Portable

I love paper books. On the other hand, having both paper and electronic books have made reading more portable than ever. Want to take a paperback with you to work? Why not? Want to take 10 books with you for your two 14 hour flights (14 there and 14 back) but don’t have room in your carryon? Download them on your phone. Then, you don’t even have to hide the cover.

I’ve even read while getting medical treatments and while donating blood and plasma. You can read just about anywhere, and it is amazing.

2. It’s sexy

Reading is sexy. It’s brainal. Or maybe it’s brainal foreplay. I don’t know – I get confused.

The point is that people who read tend to be interested in other people who read. That hints that you might have something in common. Plus, they’re usually turned-on by brains. Don’t ask me why. Maybe it’s a case of like pulling to like.

Oh, and speaking of like – if you read similar books? That’ll definitely get the other person’s attention.

 1. Teaches you to write

What else would I make number 1?

As much as reading is a great enjoyable experience, it’s also one of the top ways to learn to write. Like William Faulkner said, learn by example and then go out and make what you learned your own.

Go. Find time to read and then make time to write.

Jennifer Rainey: Author Q&A Number 2

Welcome to author Q&A number 2! This month’s author is Jennifer Rainey. I’ve known her for quite a while – well, “known” may be a little strong.

As musicians in different bands, we have crossed paths a number of times over the years (In fact, I remember when her first book was published). That said, we were both generally working when we saw each other, so we don’t know each other that well. I did, however, know that she’s been writing and publishing for quite a while, so she’s one of the first people I thought to invite to do an author Q&A.

An Author Q&A with Jennifer Rainey

Before we get to the author Q&A, let me say that reading her answers was a real treat – 1. because I learned more about someone I honestly should know better, and 2. because they’re interesting to read for any author!

IMHO, of course. But I think you’ll agree.

To start, they’re detailed and have a lot of valuable information for other writers , which is one of the main goals of the Q&A (so yay!). Even beyond that, though, they have a tone and style that pulls you in and makes you curious to read more.

Read for yourself and see what you think!

jennifer rainey author q & a number 2


1. What was your first finished book?

These Hellish Happenings (though it’s out of print)–Thoroughly Modern Monsters is my earliest work in print.

2. How many books did you start or work on before finishing that book?

Only a handful! I started pretty young. I wrote the first draft of These Hellish Happenings at 18 and published it independently at 21.

3. If it wasn’t the first book you worked on, what made this book different? What made you finish this one?

I am all about characters. I love to see what makes them tick, and I was so very fond of the cast of characters in These Hellish Happenings. They are really what drove me to finish it.

4. What was the biggest challenge you encountered when finishing your first book?

Sticking to a writing schedule!! I didn’t have any discipline. That’s something that I’ve really had to develop over the years.

5. If you’ve written books since then, was writing them easier/harder? How was the experience different?

WAY easier! It gets easier every time. For example, where These Hellish Happenings took three years from start to finish, my latest book, The Last Temptations of Iago Wick, was 13 months from start to finish. Just like anything else, writing and publishing take practice, and you’ll see yourself improve with each book.

6. Have you published your book? If yes, what medium(s) did you publish it in and why?

I publish independently because I love having that control. Everything is in my control: cover, title, sales channels. Having that freedom is really valuable to me.

I publish exclusively through Amazon because I really value the promotional options you have with them. And I think both electronic and physical books have their merits AND their fans. Ebooks are great and convenient and you can take a ton of them with you, but there’s something really great about that physical book, too. I think it’s important to appeal to both audiences there.

7. Who did your cover art? What was that experience like?

Jennifer Rainey Q & AMe! I have some background in graphic design–I’m a marketer in my day job–so that’s a place where I’ve always been able to save some money. Corel Paint Shop Pro is my go-to program. I can’t recommend it enough as an inexpensive alternative to Adobe Photoshop.

8. How are you marketing your book(s)?

Free and bargain book mailing lists, Twitter, Facebook, networking with other folks in the paranormal fantasy genres, talking to anyone who will listen–and writing more books! We’ve all heard it a thousand times, but it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

9. What is your next step?

I just published The Last Temptations of Iago Wick in February. That’s the first in The Lovelace & Wick Series, which is a paranormal/steampunk series based in 19th century Massachusetts. I’m working on a novella for publication this summer–Iago Wick and the Vampire Queen. Also, I’m hard at work on Binding Dante Lovelace, the second book in the series.

10. What is your favorite part of writing?

When it CLICKS. It’s worth it for when those characters really come to life and the story finally comes together. It’s worth it for that final product. You truly want to rip your hair out during the writing and editing process, but it’s so worth it in the end.

11. What is your biggest struggle with writing?

I STILL struggle with making time to write sometimes. After a long day at work, you don’t always want to edit or write, but you just have to make yourself do it.

12. What do you consider your weakest writing skill and what have you done to strengthen it or make up for it?

I like things like dialogue and allegories and pretty descriptions of setting more than plot sometimes. I’ve really had to step up my plot game! I’ve started asking myself in a scene, “This is a little flat–what would TOTALLY turn it on its ear?” Then, I do that and see how it goes. Definitely ramps up the action and keeps that plot interesting!

13. Do you now or have you ever done writing prompts? Did they help?

I don’t often. They just make me want to get back to my main WIP!

14. Have you take any writing classes? Which ones? What was your biggest take-away?

I haven’t. I took a lot of English lit in college (I majored in it), but no creative writing.

15. What is your writing background? (Do you have a degree in writing, worked in writing jobs, etc.)

I majored in English at Ohio State, but I’ve been writing and telling stories my whole life. I wrote in high school, in college, and I’ve always read A LOT. Now, I’m in bank marketing and that frequently involves writing (ad copy, newsletters, etc.). I am almost always writing in one way or another!

16. Have you ever written in a writing circle? What did you think? (Why do you or why don’t you?)

A few in college. They’re both great and dangerous. Don’t listen TOO much to the opinions of others. Take away what you will, but don’t let others shape the way you write more than is helpful–especially if they are not fans of your genre.

17. Who are your favorite authors?

Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, Jonathan L. Howard, H.P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe, F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Shakespeare… the list goes on.

18. What is the #1 advice you would give to people who want to be writers?

WRITE. If you want to write, do it. Don’t let anything get in the way. So many people WANT to write, but they don’t because they let other things get in the way. If you want to do it, do it. Make the time.

19. When and where do you write?

I mostly write in the morning. I get up at about 5:00 AM every day! Frequently, I’m either at my desk in my bedroom or sitting on the couch in my living room, but I also love visiting the library (support your public library!).


Now, that’s dedication! I used to manage 5 AM or earlier, but I’m afraid it is not in the cards for me at the moment. So props to Jennifer for doing it every day!

Come to mention it, let’s have a round of applause and a big thanks to Jennifer Rainey for filling out the author Q&A form! Weren’t her answers fun? I hope you enjoyed them as much as I did.

If anyone has anything they’d like to add to her answers or any questions, comment away. I look forward to hearing from you!

The 5 Worst Excuses for Not Writing

You heard me. The¬†5 worst excuses for not writing. And if¬†you know my opinion of writer’s block, you may be wondering what qualifies as “worst.” (They’re all bad, right?) Well, let’s just say these are the laziest and most self-defeating that I can think of (right now).

5 Lame Excuses for Not Writing
(You heard me.)

¬†1. It’s Sunny.

5 worst excuses for not writing it's sunny

Writing called on account of sunshine. Said no one ever.

Really, people, a pretty day is not a reason to avoid writing. It’s not.¬†You are using the sunshine as an excuse for being lazy and playing outside instead of working.

Oh, and if you doubt me, here are some obvious flaws to this “reason” for not working.

  • The sun will still be there after you spend an hour writing. You’re not going to spend the whole day outside even if you do go out to play. Make goofing off outside a reward.
  • Umm… the sun does set at some point. Work at 8 or 9 pm (whenever the sun sets where you are). Play in the sun and then write. Or get up at 6 and write before the sun comes up to tempt you.
  • Or, my personal favorite, take your writing outside. Enjoy the sunshine and write at the same time. [mic drop]

Uh-huh. That’s what I thought. Lame excuse.

2. I’m tired.

5 worst excuses for not writing I'm tired

Nap time!

You will always be tired. 10 times out of 9, you are going to be tired (Shut up, math people.). If you don’t write when you’re tired, you will never write. End of story.

(Which you’ll never get to because you’ll never start the story. Just saying.)

3. I need to edit first.

5 worst excuses for not writing I need to edit firstNo. No, you don’t.

Write. Finish the book. Then, go back and edit. Or set limits on how much editing you are allowed¬†to do in a span of time – otherwise, you’ll never finish the first draft. You’ll just keep re-writing the first few chapters.

2. I don’t¬†know what to write.

5 worst excuses for not writing I don't know what to write idk

*flat stare* Who does? Write anyway. Sure, the first few paragraphs may be crap, but after a little while, you’ll get fired up and get into a groove. You can always scrap or edit parts of it later.

Besides, if you’re writing a novel, you should have¬†some idea of the storyline already – even if you’re not a meticulous¬†plotter. So… start on a scene and see where it goes? Worse case, you’ll find out where it doesn’t need to go. And you’ll learn something about your characters in the process (assuming you’re paying attention).

¬†1. There’s no point.

5 worst excuses for not writing there's no point impossibleIt’ll never get published. No one will ever read it. I can’t write anything good.
| : Infinite variations of self-deprecating and self-defeating statements : |

*inarticulate scream of rage and frustration*

*cough* Sorry. I’ll try to contain myself, but this one drives me absolutely crazy. Before I get to the rant, however, let me say that it is not directed at anyone struggling with depression or self-esteem issues who seriously believes those statements. To those people, I will say only that I hope you learn to question and challenge those statements and that even when those feelings¬†are overwhelming, I hope you still write.

For those who say this as a whiny prompt for attention and never actually had any real aspirations to write, I would just like to say, *thbbbt*.

First of all, it’s almost always the exact opposite of the truth. You have no chance of getting published? Really? A¬†poorly written fanfic of a poorly written book got published and bought.¬†So… what? Can you not write in sentences? Great! Your work will be the next abstract innovation in stuffy literary circles.

Second of all,¬†don’t say you’ve always want to do something when it’s not true.

Yes, some people have always wanted to write a book. And if you ask those people about that book they’ve always wanted to write, they will tell you all about the plot and the characters – all the ideas they’ve ever had since they first thought of it. If someone shrugs and says, “I don’t know. Something fantasy maybe. Or a thriller,” then, no, they didn’t always want to write a book. They just think wanting to write a book will make them sound more cool or intellectual or whatever.

Cause, yeah, book writing –¬†it’s what all the cool kids are doing.

Sorry, no. People like that get on my nerves because while they’re saying “There’s no point,”¬†because they think it sounds right, by saying it in conversation, they give this excuse more weight. Like thinking that you have no talent or that your story is unpublishable is a legit reason not to write. And hearing it from other people like it’s a real road block makes potential writers more likely not only to use it but also to believe it.

And that would be a shame.

Don’t use any of these “worst” excuses for not writing. In fact, don’t use any excuses for not writing. Write. Make it happen however you can. I believe in you.

3 New Year’s Resolutions That Aren’t Going to Be Easy

new year's resolutions that aren't going to be easy to keep 2017

3 New Year’s Resolutions for Writing (not 5)

All other 2016 disappointments aside (and I’m sure you can think of a few), it wasn’t the best year for me in a writing sense. In 2015, I got a lot more writing done, and I was better about meeting my deadlines. Granted, they were self-imposed deadlines, but without that level of discipline, forward progress is halting or, at best, slower than it could be. Which brings me to 3¬†New Year’s resolutions that aren’t going to be easy to keep.

Keeping These Three New Year’s Writing Resolutions Ain’t Gonna Be Easy

I’m not usually into New Year’s resolutions. I’m more of a daily, weekly, or monthly resolution kind of person. Periodically throughout the year, I evaluate what’s been working and what hasn’t, and I go from there.

This year is a little different because I’ve noticed some problems on a larger scale – things that need to change to make those periodic adjustments possible. For my writing, anyway.

 1. Set up and maintain a dedicated writing space.

In 2015, I had a home office set up. It was really nice – bright, airy, and decorated to encourage creativity (Oh, those were the days). In 2016, that room got converted to storage space, and I tried to use a smaller, less-separated writing space (which was all supposed to be temporary, blah, blah, blah). As you may have guessed, that didn’t work out so well.

What they say about dedicating specific spaces to specific purposes is true: it helps manipulate your brain to encourage habits (good or bad). Like how they say you shouldn’t work in bed because your brain will be ready to work when you¬†try to go to sleep. Similarly, if too many things are going on in a room at once, it’s easy to get distracted by other tasks, especially ones that take less energy or are more fun.

Long story short, if I’m serious about getting writing done, I need to have that office back. I need a dedicated writing space, a space committed¬†to that work. It’s going to take some serious planning and elbow grease, but it’s doable. Once it’s set up, the biggest trick will be to keep it that way.

 2. Write ahead.

I did a really good job of this in 2015. Not so much in 2016. It’d be easy to blame the problem on travel and outside commitments, but the truth is that there were a lot of factors, including not having a dedicated writing space or a regular work schedule.

I can fix the first problem (see New Year’s resolution¬†#1). The second part, now that’s gonna be more difficult.

See, there’s a growing possibility that my work schedule is going to become much more intense and, as a result, much more complicated. If I’m going to keep the writing going at all, let-alone meet my self-imposed deadlines, I need to not only write every day but also¬†write ahead. Without fail.

I’m going to do my best to keep this one. Otherwise, I know that both twytte and Words & Deeds will suffer for it. I’ve floundered enough with updating both this year. I don’t want to do that again.

 3. Get enough sleep.

Doesn’t¬†seem like a writing resolution? Well, that’s where you’re wrong. If you push too long and let all your projects (& social activities) keep you from regular, healthy sleep, you are going to crash at some point. Usually when it’s least convenient. And that’s¬†after the loss of sleep¬†wreaks havoc on your¬†writing (see “Good Grammar & Tired Brains Don‚Äôt Mix“).

If I have to lose sleep every night or even most nights to get everything done, then something needs adjusted. Period. I have to get more organized, I have to cut back hours of something, I have to let something go Рwhatever it is, something needs to change.

And there you have it: 3 New Year’s resolutions that aren’t going to be easy to keep.

At first glance, they seem simple, right?¬†I mean, really, don’t they seem pretty straightforward and manageable?¬†Arrange my stuff to make room for an office, write ahead, and get enough sleep.¬†That’s doable with¬†a little effort and time management, right? Right? (…sob…)

So… wish me luck?

True Alchemists Do Not Change Lead into Gold Unless They’re Using Old Pencils

true alchemists don't change william h gass quote

I love the fact that the printing press set in the background is made out of lead.

I want to be a true alchemist when I grow up. Not that I’ll ever grow up, but there’s something inspiring about thinking of writing as alchemy (especially if you like FullMetal Alchemist). Not only because of the transformation aspect – although having the scientific knowledge and/or mystical ability to change lead into gold is appealing, especially applied to writing. Thinking that my writing skills can “change the world into words” is pretty heady (true or not).

But that’s still not the main reason I like this analogy. No, the best part of this metaphor (IMHO) is the fact that alchemy was all about exploration. Back in its heyday, true alchemists spent their time trying to accomplish the impossible. If one attempt or combination didn’t work, they tried something else.

In a way, alchemy was mankind’s way of reconciling spiritual beliefs with¬†science. And while we may laugh at alchemists’¬†efforts to make the¬†philosopher’s stone or change lead into gold, those explorations led to the development of scientific theory and helped direct science as we know it today (strange thought, wot?).

Now, take a moment and think about that idea in terms of the writing analogy.

Isn’t exploration a major part of writing growth? And don’t we have to constantly have to reconcile the rules and logic of writing (science) with the emotion of it (spiritual)? I think so. I think that¬†makes this analogy¬†a very deep and thoughtful description of what gives writing such power and also what makes it so difficult.

We transform things, yes. We try to capture the world in words. But we also play a very delicate balancing act (or sometimes a vicious war) between the art and the science of writing.

We explore. Through trial and error we find new stories and new ways to tell them. We are true alchemists just as William Glass said. We try to accomplish the impossible, and success has all the magic of alchemy.

5 Major Problems for Writers (or Any Artist)

Writers have a lot of problems (let’s face it). These are the most common – so common that they’re stumbling blocks for artists of any kind. Musicians, painters, sculptors, jewelry-makers, etc.. I have seen all of them struggle with these issues¬†(Heck, I’ve fought them personally in¬†different art forms!).¬†That’s why I consider these 5 major¬†problems for writers.

5 Major Problems for Writers:

¬†1. Accepting “Good Enough”

There are two ways this hits people: stalling out and not knowing when to stop.

Stalling Out

Some people stall out by telling themselves they’re not good enough. So they never start. Occasionally, they talk about trying to write a book or take up painting again, but they never do.¬†If you really, honestly want to write the book or start painting, kick this idea out the door.

Start writing!¬†Start painting! Start whatever – you’ll never actually become “good enough” until you do.

Here’s another example of stalling out, one that’s far too common with writers: the person who keeps working on the same project forever but never finishes.

At your 10-year high school reunion, Jim says he’s writing a novel. At your 20-year reunion, he’s still writing a novel – the same one. Same for your 30-year, your 40-year, and so on.¬†He’s only a ¬†few chapters in, but every time he reads them, he finds mistakes he has to fix. So he rewrites the same chapters. Over and over again. Because it has to be perfect!

Your first novel is not going to be perfect. Your 54th novel is not going to be perfect. Accept that now, and move on. Don’t rewrite¬†the same few chapters for the rest of your life: move forward.¬†Finish the novel.

Not Knowing When to Stop

Another perfection-driven problem. This is the writer who has a finished manuscript but keeps editing and editing. Re-writing and tweaking but never finishing.

I’ve seen artists with fabulous stuff keep picking and poking at it instead of stopping. Sometimes, they keep toying with it so long that they ruin the whole thing. Don’t do that. Learn when to stop.

 2. Taking Criticism Well

It’s not easy. Oh, no. Especially since some people don’t know how to critique constructively. Not that that stops people from tell you what they think. And in today’s society, neither does politeness.

Even with an editor or someone you’ve asked to look at the book, it can be hard not to be a diva. It’s your book. How could they possibly know better than you? (They can. Whether or not they always¬†will, I don’t know, but they definitely¬†can.)

Worst case scenario, try for a polite expression, say “I’ll think about that,” and then get out of the room before you explode. Rant for a while at home and then do what you said you would – think about it. It might be total crap or not. It’s hard to tell until you calm down.

Or you can forget that option and tell them exactly what you think in that moment. Not the best move career-wise, but you won’t be the first writer to do it.

 3. Responding to Compliments

For some people, this is harder than taking criticism well.

Audience: This is crap.

Artist: Yeah, I know. I messed this up, and I didn’t get to fix this. Oh, and this part is awful! I’m so sorry.¬†Here. Have one for free!

*sigh*

Give those same people a compliment, and they’ll list the same flaws. Like you must’ve missed them, and they’re being dishonest with you if you let them think your work is actually good.¬†If you’ve ever had someone react that way to you, you know exactly how awkward it is. Sometimes, you can even get drawn into an argument, trying to convince the¬†artist¬†that you really, honestly like the piece. Until, finally, you get PO’d and walk off (You callin’ me a liar?).

Humility is all well and good, but there are limits. When someone gives you a sincere compliment, smile and say, “Thank you.” Whether you believe them or not.

¬†4. Dealing with Society’s Attitude

No one likes dealing¬†with a ‘tude. And society has a big, ever-changing¬†one when it comes to art. Especially as a career. No. I take it back. Society has at least two¬†big, not-changing-fast-enough attitudes when it comes to art as business: it’s not smart and that’s free, right?

It’s Not Smart

Smart – A.K.A. safe. This often falls under the ok-in-theory-but-not-for-my-child category. Lots of people claim to support art, but when they find out you’re trying to make it your career, they give you doubting looks.

Are you sure? That’s risky, isn’t it? Wouldn’t you rather be an accountant or something?

Yeah, no. You would think that with all the companies closing and letting people go (from “safe” jobs) a few years ago, people would’ve softened on this a bit. Not so you notice.

I don’t know about “smart” or “safe,” but I’ll grant that making a living in the arts isn’t easy. You can’t be lazy, and you have to really want it. On the other hand, if you really want it, holding yourself back from it to do that “smart” job can be even harder.

You can hold onto that when the doubters pester you.

That’s Free, Right?

Um… no.

If you want to be a professional writer (or other type of artist), you might want to practice that word. No. No no no no no no. No.

(You can ignore the “I’m Jane” part, but the rest is good.)

Repeat after me:¬†No, it isn’t free. This is what I do for a living.

It’s ok to take it in trade (a few hours writing for an equal amount¬†of accounting or lawyering or whatever), but, no, it is not free. It’s ok to¬†give a family discount (if you want to, and you’re still breaking even). It’s even ok to give the occasional present. ¬†But be really careful not to set a precedent of doing work for free. It’s really hard to change once you do.

As Captain Malcolm Reynolds would say, “I do the job. And then I get paid.”

 5. Putting a Price on Your Work

It’s hard to put a price on your work. It’s exceptionally hard to put a fair price on your work. Especially when society is constantly trying to get it for free, and you’re¬†constantly telling yourself how bad it is.¬†(See how the problems work together against you?)

Why are artists more worried about overpricing their work than they are about underpricing it?¬†I don’t know! They don’t include their time. They don’t include overhead costs (websites, credit card rates, business cards, booth fees, etc.).

I know that just because you’re good at writing, that doesn’t mean you’re good at the business side of it (believe me, I get it). So.¬†Find someone who is good at the business side of it. Get advice. Have them represent you. Take classes. Google¬†it.

But if you want to make a living at your art, you’re going to have to get a handle on pricing. One way or another.

Watcha gonna do?

Well? Are you gonna let these problems kick your butt, or are you gonna tell them to kiss it?

Sometimes, Poems Just Happen

There are times when you spend hours, days, or more working on a poem. A poem¬†that you tweak and re-write and struggle with. Then, there are the other times – when poems just happen. When it’s like you’re¬†walking through a field, trip on something, and unbury it only to find that it’s something wonderful and new. And somehow it didn’t exist until you tripped on it (wrap your mind around that one!).

There Comes a Time in Every Life” was one of those poems. I was driving home, and suddenly, it was there in my head. Line after line. No hesitation, no fumbling. It just appeared. Like I waved a magic wand. One minute, I was thinking about a hard situation and people’s reactions to it, and the next, I could practically see the poem take shape in my head.

Em T. Wytte Poem There comes a time in every life when the choices all are hard when the options all are dim and dark the chances all are slim to none when the house holds the cards there comes a time in every life when something has to give but even once it bends or breaks you somehow have to live

Originally posted on my creative writing blog, twytte.

Of course, I spent the rest of the drive home chanting it in my head over and over again because when poems just happen they tend to happen in the most inconvenient places. Places where giving them the right amount of attention or even writing them down is hard. Or impossible. Here are a few places where I’ve run into this issue.

  • In the shower
  • On horseback
  • On a treadmill
  • During a presentation in class
  • Driving on the freeway

It hasn’t happened on a date yet, but I imagine it’s only a matter of time. With “There Comes a Time in Every Life,” it was the freeway – a fast-paced one with a lot of curves, ramps, and reckless¬†drivers. Sad to say, even knowing how dangerous and stupid it would be, I was tempted to pull over¬†long enough to write it down. I also considered getting off a few exits early to find a convenient parking lot.

This is where voice recognition software might’ve come in handy (very handy). But I, of course, didn’t have one. I decided to drive straight home and do my best to keep it in my head until I got there. Apparently, my brain didn’t think that was enough of a challenge. When I got about halfway home, still chanting the poem to avoid possibly forgetting any of it, my brain decided to “discover” another poem.

Did I mention that when poems just happen, they often come in multiples? Or in multiple stanzas?

It’s like when ideas attack. You never know for sure how big and ruthless they are going to be about holding you hostage. You could have a few lines to think about and miss 5 ¬†minutes of class. You could have a novel to think about and miss most of class. All in all, I guess I got lucky. I only had 9 lines to remember (well, 13, if you count the other poem, too).

And out of both poems that appeared, there was only 1 word choice that I went back and forth on, and it was in this poem. Can you guess which one? (Hint: It was a conjunction conundrum.)

Fairy Folklore as Inspiration for Writing

From what I’ve seen, every culture has folklore involving fairies or other spirits, and they¬†make great inspiration for all genres. Although serious usage may require more research than¬†a St. Patrick’s Day writing prompt. Whether you need fresh ideas for types of magic (worldbuilding), ways to frighten people, or even human behavior, fairy stories have a lot to offer – as many writers have found before us.

While we no longer think of them that way, the idea of elves and dwarves commonly used in the fantasy genre are rooted in much older superstitions about¬†faeries. And going back to take a look at the¬†concepts of those creatures (especially ones that predate modern fiction) can help give you a fresh look at the genre’s tropes. I especially like looking at older books about beliefs of the time¬†because the perspective is very different from what you hear now – well, that, and a good number¬†are free on Project Gutenberg.

For example:¬†The Fairy Mythology by Thomas Keightley and¬†Witchcraft and Superstitious Record in the Western District of Scotland by Mawell Wood, M.B.¬†Those books focus on celtic faeries and superstitions, but if you search “superstitions,” you’ll¬†see a plethora of options from a variety of cultures. You probably know some of them already (like the myths from Ancient Greece), but there are plenty more to discover. Some are dark and terrifyingly powerful. Others are surprisingly vulnerable and fragile. And since stories of these creatures were¬†originally told orally, there’s often varying accounts of what each creature can do, likes, hates, etc.

Which leads me to my¬†favorite part of using fairy mythology as inspiration: there is simply so much fodder that 5¬†authors could use the same faeries as inspiration and get 5 very different worlds, characters, and stories out of it. Make that 5,000 authors (and I’m not even sure that’s hyperbole). Seriously, though, if you take the old ideas and make them your own, there is unlimited potential for exciting new stories.

Every try it? Which fairies or spirits inspire you?

10 Tips to Improve Motivation, Especially for Writers

Everyone struggles with motivation from time to time, and unfortunately, the reason can vary dramatically from person to person and moment to moment. Some days you may be tired or stressed. Other days, you may not even know why you’re not in the mood to work. Well, I can’t promise a cure-all, but here are 10 tips to try to keep your motivation up and running.

 10. A Dedicated Work Area

Having a dedicated area can help trick your brain into developing habits that make it easier to work regularly. If you’re trying to write in an area where you commonly watch tv, play games, or read, you’re going to get conflicting subliminal messages when you sit down to work. It’s better to give yourself a specific space where you only write so that you can develop new habits. In other words, use your own subconscious to your advantage (and get a tax write-off!).

 9.  Clean & Organize

This one depends on how your brain works. Some people need pristine, beautifully organized area to be able to work well. Others can deal with a certain amount of chaos, and yet others thrive on complete chaos (though they’re fewer than rumor suggests). In any case, it’s good to know¬†your own limits for how disorganized your work area can get. While a pristine workspace isn’t really my thing, personally,¬†I find that I have more energy and focus if I pick up on a fairly regular basis.

 8. Goal Reminders

You’ve probably heard this a million times, but a visual reminder of a goal can help. Even if you print “get published” and hang it over your desk, that might spur you on when you feel like being lazy. If that doesn’t work for you, making a list of smaller goals (stair steps) and hanging them up to check off, one by one, can help, too.

 7. Track Progress

This overlaps with the last one somewhat; however, having a big reminder of the progress you’ve made can be encouraging. A whiteboard where you update the wordcount each day can give you a thrill at the progress you’re making. Or maybe you go by the number of chapters or something else.

This method is especially good when you’ve been making forward motion. If you haven’t, it can be a bit depressing – which can either spur you to change that or discourage you, depending on your personality.

 6. Choose the Right Background Noise

I’m writing this while listening to an anime series (subbed). That’s a sublimely bad choice if I want to pay attention to my work and not get distracted. Don’t be like me. Resist the urge to turn on something in the background if you know it’s likely to slow you down or stop you altogether. Or, at least, do¬†it rarely, not all the time.

 5. Use a Reward System

Reward systems work great for some people and not at all for others. The basic idea is that you take your list of goals and make a corresponding list of rewards for each one. When you complete a goal, you get a reward (buying something, doing something, reading a book, etc.). If you¬†like stuff¬†and have enough money to buy the stuff you want, getting to buy something can be a nice reward, but it doesn’t work so well if it¬†makes you broke. So try to be reasonable about what you can do. I like using this for bigger goals – like finishing a first draft.

 4. Do Writing Exercises

If you’ve been dealing with the work side of writing a lot, it can wash the excitement of writing and being creative right out of you. Exploring a random writing prompt¬†where you can focus on the fun side instead of the duller, more painstaking parts of writing can help revive that excitement and give you fresh energy.

 3. Write Somewhere Else

Working in the same place every¬†day can feel boring and uninspiring at times. Even when you like your workspace and normally do well there, there will be days when it’s not doing anything for you. Going somewhere else can counteract that. Go to a cafe or restaurant. If it’s a pretty day, write outside. The change of pace can get your brain churning, and then you’ll be ready to work at home again the next day.

 2. Have Fun

Believe it or not, sometimes the one thing that’ll help your writing most is taking a day off, stepping away from it, and having a good time. Recharge, and when you go back to the work, you’ll have a fresh perspective. I won’t say not to do it regularly:¬†regular relaxation is necessary. Just don’t do it every day or so often that you stop making progress. Then, it’s not motivating anymore (well, it might be motivating you to take days off, but that’s not the goal).

 1. Reduce Stress

This goes right along with the last one. Car trouble, a bad work environment, bills, relationship problems, illness, terrifying government elections, all of the above, etc. (you know, life) Рthese are all things that can cause stress, and stress of any kind can be a big motivation killer.

Maybe, somewhere, some people thrive on that kind of stress and get super motivated, but I think that’s pretty rare. I’ve found it’s more likely for the stress to eat up your energy and make working seem pointless or impossible. Whether it’s caused by big problems or simply lack of sleep, finding ways to reduce stress can¬†increase motivation and improve your writing progress.

I’m sure there are more tips to help motivation, but these 10 are a decent start. Got any to add? What works best for you?