5 Dangers of Holidays and Vacations

5 Dangers of Holidays and Vacations

It doesn’t look dangerous…

When you see something about the dangers of holidays and vacations, the first thought is probably along the lines of safety when traveling and shopping fraud, not writing problems. You know me, though, I’m talking about the dangers to your writing habits, not your health or finances.

Holidays and Vacations: The Succubi of a Writer’s Schedule

If you’ve ever manage to get into a regular writing habit or even a semi-regular writing habit (not the easiest goal, I admit), then you might see where I’m going with this. It’s like any other habit – the only ones that are easy to restart are the bad ones (the ones you’re trying not to do).

Since writing is work, beware temptations to put it aside for a bit. It might get dusty before you get back to it.

Here are some common enticements to resist.

 1. Reading

If you’re a bibliophile like me, books can be hard to resist. And the more I read, the harder it is to resist reading. Then, that time I set aside for writing? It’s spent reading instead.

I’m not saying to never read (A tragedy!), but it might be wise to keep whatever rules you usually have for reading. In other words, don’t let books take over your entire schedule. It’ll make coming back from a holiday harder, believe me.

2. Sleeping In

Oh, that sounds good. Are you as sleep deprived as I am? Does the idea of lazing in bed and sleeping hours into the day sound like the best present you could get right now?

Well, that sucks.

Honestly, that’s pretty bad, and if you can, you need to make some life changes to fix that (says the pot to the kettle [I’m working on it!]).

That said, resist the urge to sleep til noon on vacation days. It’ll just screw up your sleep schedule, and you’ll pay for that temporary pleasure with a real struggle when it’s time to get up for work again.

3. Distracted Writing

Although multitasking is handy at times, it’s not ideal for productive writing. Like loss of sleep, it makes the writing take longer, and the writing quality drops. Neither is helpful.

If you can, keep your dedicated writing time the same as usual. If you can’t, a shorter but still dedicated period for writing can be more productive than trying to combine your writing with other chores or projects.

4. Hectic Schedules

Those of us with large families may not get much of a choice on this one. That said, we still get to decide what we commit to. We can choose not to make our lives more complicated than they need to be.

A good example is what you cook for a family potluck. If you have a choice between a really fancy, work-intensive recipe and an easy one that’s just as popular, which is gonna give you more time to write and make your life less stressful?

There are tons of decisions we make about holidays and gatherings that can have the same effect. How many stops we make, what parties we go to, and what favors we agree to do for other people are the mere tip of the iceberg.

5. Residual Exhaustion

If you can resist scheduling yourself thin, this one will be easier; however, we’ve all had those holidays where we work so hard to make everything amazing that we need a vacation after the holidays are over. That’s when taking a total day or two off looks really, really appealing.

Apple to Eve kind of appealing.

In that situation, try to make yourself do a minimum amount of work. You can even decide ahead of time – this much time writing, this much exercising, this much cleaning up, etc.

If you can at least keep the general shape of your usual daily habits in place (still with plenty of resting!), then, going back to work will be much easier.

You see, getting out of the habit is the real problem. The more of these temptations you keep from taking over your vacation, the better chance you have of keeping your writing going once you get back in the swing of things. Otherwise, it’s horribly easy to get back to work and replace your writing habit with a reading/sleeping/tv-watching/etc. habit instead.

You’ve experienced this problem before, right? (It’s not just me?) What other tips do you have?

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Should I Review Bad Movies or Books?

It’s an honest question: should I review bad movies or books? I don’t have an answer. Really, I have a couple of stumbling blocks related to, but they don’t seem to bother anyone else.

So how about I tell you why I hesitate, and you tell me if you think I should or not – fair deal?

Why I’m Not Sure It’s Good to Review Bad Movies or Books

First off, let me say that I have no trouble reviewing good movies or books. I will gladly explain what I did and didn’t like about them – usually in terms of what was weaker or stronger from a writing, design, or performance aspect.

Because I don’t mind advertising good products.

No Such Thing as Bad Advertising

Ever heard someone say that “all advertising is good advertising”? For those who haven’t, it’s the idea that the more attention is given to a person or product, the better business they will do. Even if the attention is insulting.

What? Seriously? Why?

One reason is that people will buy things just to make fun of something or someone (*cough* Trump *cough*). The other reason is that people don’t always agree about what’s bad or good (see the previous cough), so the negative reviews might actually introduce people to the business or product who might like it.

Internet searches work the same way. Talking about a movie and linking to its imdb (like you do) actually makes that movie’s site show up better in searches.

But is that what we want? If you think a movie is awful, do you really want to make it more popular? And what about people who watch it to see if it’s as bad as you say? Warning people off could totally backfire!!!

*deep breath*

Karma

The other reason I’m leery of reviewing bad books or movies is that when you really dislike something, you’re liable to be excessively harsh when reviewing it. At least, I am. Humorous, but harsh.

On the other hand, I’m also a writer/creator. So if I build up a reputation for nasty-yet-witty reviews… what’s gonna happen when my stuff gets reviewed? I can’t help but think that people would be more likely to be cruel.

What do you think?

Are these legit reasons, or am I overthinking it? Are there actually risks to writing purely negative reviews?

I’ll Write Better When I’m Awake…

So… I was trying to finish today’s post – yesterday’s post, and I finally decided to throw in the towel. I’ll write better when I’m awake. Probably. Plus, it’s a complicated post, so I’ll finish it up tomorrow (today) if I can, Thursday at the latest.

‘night.
Em

Posting Update & Question

Hi! Long time no see, right? Sorry! My back is healing slowly – I am just now at the point where I can sit and work for any length of time (I write while lying down). So posting will start again in October (for real this time). That’s good, but it also leads me to the question:

How often should I post?

I read a problogger article recently that said that once a week or even once a month is the new standard for blog posts. It also said that people stop following blogs because the blog posted too much, and they got bombarded. Eep!

I don’t want to bombard anyone or chase them away! So I made a little survey to ask you, the readers, how often you want me to post. It should only take a few seconds, so please participate!

If you want to give more detail (like what types of posts you want), tell me in the comments! I want to make this blog as useful as possible for writers, so I really appreciate good feedback. 🙂

Articles to Resume in September (I hope)

my blogs: a history

Drawing while lying down is harder than I expected…

So… no new posts to Words & Deeds for almost a month. Sorry about that. I dropped the ball. Then, after a day or two of pondering how to make time to go back and pick the ball up, I cursed loudly and kept walking (and taking care of the things that pay the bills… priorities, you know). Of course, after I caught the cold and aggravated a herniated disc, I stopped walking for a bit, but the ball was well out of arm’s reach at that point.

If you can interpret my crappy drawing above, you’ll get the gist.

Anywho, articles are going to be delayed a bit longer. I’m hoping to be able to start catching up with them in September. That said, I’m going to have a lot of other things to catch up on, as well, but we’ll give it the old college try.

For now, here are a few things I’ve learned recently:

  • While glitter pens may be a rather awesome birthday present, resist the urge to use them for the background of anything you need to scan – especially if it needs to be legible.
  • If your back hurts for a few weeks, check with the chiropractor before going on a long drive… or a camping trip.
  • Coughing while standing + herniated disc = falling down in new and hilarious ways
  • Typing while lying down is a bit like trying to eat an ice cream cone while doing a handstand.

Which is why I will stop now (I never could do handstands).

Until Next Time,
Em

“I Got Sucked In”

I got sucked inThat’s what we want people to say. That’s the reaction we want readers to have – “I got sucked in.” It’s the sort of answer you give when people ask why you look so tired (AKA why you spent the night reading instead of sleeping like a sane adult). 

We want that! We want the reader to get so caught up that he or she (or both) cannot stand to put the book down long enough to go to the bathroom or fix dinner. Let alone get some shuteye. We want the story to consume their lives until they each finally reach the last page and close it.

What kind of @#%holes are we?

Seriously, though, we want to take over people’s lives if only for a short time. That makes us a kind of puppetmaster (or puppetmaster wannabes). A kind of puppetmaster who can control your mind through a book.

We want to be Tom Riddle without magic (or the evil… most of us, anyway).

But how? How can you have that much control with only words on a page? With no direct contact with the reader whatsoever? I got sucked into a book last night, and I’ve never met, talked to, or otherwise interacted with the author. So how do you do it?

How Do You Get Readers to Say,
“I Got Sucked In”?

Well, other than having some sort of contest where they have to record themselves saying that and send it to you for a chance at a prize (not quite what I meant), you have to make the story into a kind of emotional vacuum cleaner.

*snicker* Sorry.

You can think of it as a magnet instead (it’s a better image), but either way, there has to be something in the story that not only grabs the reader’s mental and emotional attention in but also holds it.

Something like

  • a hook (by definition, the first way you get the reader’s attention)
  • characters readers can relate to (Do you keep reading if you can’t relate to the characters? I’ll be honest, if I think all the characters are self-centered idiots, I’m not reading the book.)
  • an interesting setting (Oooh. This is new and different. I wanna draw it and write fan fiction in it!)
  • an unpredictable plotline (Where is this going? I mean, I’m guessing the good guys are going to win, but how?)
  • believable actions (OMG! That is so Character Name! That is exactly what she would do!)

Or any combination thereof. Right? If you have a good hook, relatable characters, and believable actions, can you get by without an unusual setting or an extra-unpredictable plotline? Absolutely.

Oh, sure, it depends on the genre and the reader, but you can totally draw readers in with great characters and a predictable plot. It’s not going to draw as wide a variety of readers as great characters and an unpredictable plot, but it’s definitely doable.

So… wait. Doesn’t that mean that good writing will always draw in readers?

Umm, yeah. I guess it does. If you have a good hook, an intriguing plot, relatable characters, believable actions, and an interesting setting, do you really think that readers interested in that genre are going to set it down? Have you ever set down a book that had all of that? I haven’t, especially not in a genre I like to read. So if you focus on writing a good book, readers are definitely going to get sucked in!

There are just 2 major problems: 1. writing that good of a book (time, practice, effort, etc.) and 2. getting your book into the hands of the right readers.

But that’s a problem for another day. For today, commit to writing your story as best as you can and becoming the ultimate puppetmaster! Er… author. *cough*

This Week Keeps Getting Better: My Week in Play Form

ME: I have today free. I should be able to get the paperwork together, clean the car, and go trade it in for a new one. No problem.

*FATE: Nope.

ME: Where the heck is all the paperwork?! No, it’s fine. It has to be here somewhere. I have plenty of time left.

FATE: Nope.

ME: How on Earth could I miss it when I looked there the first three times?! Now, I’ll barely have time to clean the car before we leave! No, no. It’s ok. They shouldn’t get here until 1.

FATE: Nope.

ME: 12:30? What? Did church let out early? Never mind. Give me a few minutes. It’ll be fine.

FATE: Nope.

ME: Ok. That took way too long, but the actual trade-in and new car deal should only take a few hours.

FATE: Nope.

ME: [sigh] That was a lot of time sitting around. At least I got my new car though!

FATE: Nope.

ME: You’ve gotta be kidding me. This…this isn’t the car I was buying. You know what? I’m gonna call. We’ll fix this right now.

FATE: Nope.

ME: Ok… It has to wait til tomorrow. Fine. It’ll be fine. I’ll go in tomorrow, and it’ll all be fixed. They open early enough. I should be able to get to work for at least a half day.

FATE: Nope.

ME: No work. Fine. I’ll shift those hours.

FATE: Nope.

ME: Why do people keep scheduling things in the middle of the day? You know what? Never mind. I’ll deal with it. And the week will have to get better after this, right? Right?

FATE: Nope.

ME: Is that the only word you know?!

FATE:

*I would apologize for putting words in Fate’s mouth but… nope.

10 Funny Questions Only English Lovers Will Get

funny questions only english lovers will getOne of the best parts about the English language is all the ridiculous and funny ways you can play with it (thanks to English’s bullying nature). These 10 funny questions are great examples of that – unfortunately, only people who like English will get them. Do you?

10 Bits of Silliness for English Lovers

Are you ready for some silliness? Brace yourself – some of these might hurt!

 1. Who put an s in lisp? Was it the same cruel person who came up with dyslexic?
2. Why are there 5 syllables in the word monosyllabic?
3. Why is bra singular and panties plural?
4. Did independent clauses have a revolution?
5. Do relative clauses ever have reunions?
6. If you write a dependent clause by itself, does it fall over?
7. Why aren’t there postpositions?
8. Why does final come before first in the dictionary? And finish before start?
9. Why isn’t anyone ever plussed or concerted?
10. In English, who is the worst at waltzing? Iamb.

😀

Congratulations! You survived the ridiculous wordplays! I hope they made you smile.

Until next time!
-Em

Happy Independence Day 2017!

Happy Independence Day 2017It is the 4th of July, the Independence Day holiday for the U.S.A., and I have decided that since vacation is not a 4-letter word, I am going to celebrate by taking the day off. 🙂

For those of you who live in the U.S., I hope you have a great Independence Day! Enjoy your family gatherings, grill-outs, and fireworks!

For those of you not from the U.S., I hope you have a happy July 4th going about your regular non-holiday plans. 🙂

Regular posts to resume on Thursday. Until then, have fun!