Writing Stuff and Things

I have been doing a lot more writing in the past couple months. Unlike a lot of my past writing this has been super focused on a single piece. In the past I was much more likely to write short little pieces without a lot of thought and planning. I wrote one of those pieces a while ago and shared it with Harper.

He suggested I explore the idea further and try and make it into an eBook. I was intrigued by this idea and gave it a try. I increased it from 500 words to over 7500. I then pruned it, making it easier to read and trying to make sure it made sense.

After all of that I sent it to an actual editor. This process was amazing. Here was someone looking at my work from the outside. Not family, friends or anyone I even knew. I learned so much from this process. The editing process showed me that I have a bad habit of using weak words in description and using this is/that is statements.

Hopefully I have learned enough so that my writing gets better. Or at least I will be able to be more effective in my editing before I send it to a real editor.

On the other side of writing I have started my serial story. It is over at Fancy Cadaver. My hope is that this will become a place for me to experiment with fiction. I started my first story on April 7th. I am going to do my best to publish a section every Monday until the story is done and then continue with a new story.

Writing fiction is hard. I seem to do OK in the non-fiction space. This is because I have spent a lot of time writing for school and this blog. I haven't spent very much time writing fiction. Which is the whole purpose of the serial story: To write more fiction.

The tools I have been using are pretty simple:

  • iPad – this is my current go to computing device since I am laptop free currently. I occasionally use my mac mini but not as often.
  • iPad keyboard – I use a Logitech one recommended by wirecutter.com. Once I got used to the small size it became easy to use.
  • Karma Hotspot- Sometimes I need internet while writing.
  • Draft – This is my favorite place to write. It is clean and simple and made for writing. I also like that I can snag an editor within the program and it makes sharing drafts super easy.
  • Pages – When I am writing offline. Works well and automatically syncs with the desktop.
  • Markdown – The markdown syntax has been a little tricky to learn but it is what Jekyll uses and Draft supports it so that is great.

These tools allow me to work anywhere I need to. That has allowed me to be more productive in my writing. Instead of having to find time to write I let time find me. I almost always have my iPad with me so when the mood hits or I have time I can throw down some words.

I have done a lot of reading and research on workflows for writers and what others are using. I ran into a bunch of clunky programs that didn't allow me to just write. A lot of the apps I tried were about the gimmicks and not about writing. I need to put words on a page not have a background picture.

Draft and Pages are just that. They are simple and easy to use and are just for writing. This also applies to the platform I publish on. For this blog I use WordPress and have for a long, long time. For Fancy Cadaver I am using git hub pages/Jekyll/markdown. I wasn't a fan at first. It was different then WordPress and was therefore evil.

Then as I played with it more I realized that it has everything I love in my writing tools. It is simple, easy and allows me to put words up. There are no bells and whistles. Jekyll isn't perfect but it works for what I need.

Moving forward I am going to be writing a lot. I don't know that I will consistently hitting 1600 words a day but I would really like too. I will also be posting about the whole process of writing the eBook once I get the publishing figured out.

Meanwhile, feel free to checkout Fancy Cadaver for some fun fiction and let me know what you think.

Drop Lines

I don’t remember when it was but one time Harper and I got talking about public speaking and performance. We were with a group of people and Harper mentioned that his time spent performing as a juggler taught him how to react when something goes wrong. Jugglers call them Drop Lines. What you say when you fail. I have been thinking about this quite a bit since I have been performing more and more. A good drop line will save your act.

While I like to think that I am an amazing juggler I drop a lot. I have upped my practice regimen to hopefully change this but alas I still drop a lot. The perfect drop line is dependent on the prop you are using and your audience. For instance, when I drop a juggling club I say “That was on purpose so I could show you this” and I then do a kick up into juggling(which looks as cool as it sounds). If I drop again I say “For those of you that missed it last time” and then I do the same thing.

This works because while I am pretty sure that the audience doesn’t believe that I did it on purpose I covered in a way that makes it seem like maybe I did. It keeps them on their toes and gives them something else to think about. They don’t think about how I just failed but about how I handled that failure.

The hardest part about drop lines is that you have to plan on failing. You have to look at the presentation you are about to give and think “What will I do if X happens.” This is hard to do because everyone hates failure. Luckily drop lines get easier the more you have to do them plus as you make more and more presentations you fail less often. But how do you plan for failure?

I have found it best to think of what the absolute worst thing that could happen during your presentation. Typically for me this is when I drop on a simple trick. Though truth be told it would probably be lighting myself or someone else on fire. After you have brainstormed everything that could go wrong figure out how you will handle that situation.

There is no right way to handle a drop or failure. However, there is a wrong way. The number one wrong way is to get frustrated or angry. I always tell myself that if I get frustrated the juggling prop has won. Keep that in mind. Most likely nothing horrible will happen to you if you screw up so just go with it. Sometimes the easiest way to handle a failure is to own up to it and move on. Don’t make excuses (unless they are hilarious) and don’t pretend like nothing happened. Because everyone saw it happen. But also remember that you are in charge of your time during your presentation. Don’t get flustered and let the focus be that you screwed up.

Remember that you and every member of the audience are human.

Serial-essly

I have been working on writing outside my comfort zone more. I am fairly comfortable writing in this blog style or even longer pieces in the non-fiction preachy style of so many self help type books, however I am not good at fiction. That being the case I have been trying to find a way to write more in the fiction area while getting immediate gratification. Then it hit me!! Serial Stories!!

Why has no one done this before. Here is how it will go down. I will write a chapter at a time and post it as soon as I am done. Then at regular intervals I will release another chapter… Until the story is done.

Is your mind blown? It should be. I think this is a project that could catch on and other people could start doing it. How neat would it be if you could go online and read a chapter from many different stories. And then go back later and read more.

Crazy!!

I have been writing a lot more lately and I have discovered that I really enjoy writing. It helps me clear out my head as well as allowing me to get ideas out on the page. I have been working on a piece lately that I really like and am hopefully going to publish soon.

Part of that process has been getting it edited by a professional. This is both amazing and scary. Truthfully it is just amazing. I learned that I use a lot of that is/this is statements as well as a lot of weak words when describing things. Hopefully this process will make me a better writer.

As soon as I have the piece finished up I will post a link. Also I am pretty serious about this serial idea. Stay tuned because there may be some interesting things happening. Or not.

I AM SO AWESOME!!!