seize the minutes

I didn’t really like it as much as I think I was supposed to

As I write this post, I’m less than one hour removed from having walked out of a movie before the big third act. And it was a very popular movie, one that broke quite a few records. It’s a wonder, really.

What’s even more of a wonder, woman or man reading this, is how I feel about it. It was okay. It wasn’t great or rad or huge or amazing. It just was. It was better than some of the other movies I’ve seen in the same universe, but it didn’t grab me or transport me or take me anywhere. I stayed in my seat, and did a lot of head shaking. A little eye rolling too. And that’s the problem.

Well, that’s part of the problem. I mean, in theory we should all be able to have our opinions and share them knowing that we’ll be respected as much before sharing as after, but I don’t know if you noticed this, it’s particularly difficult for some people to disassociate socio-political elements from storytelling elements. And that poses a significant problem for me right now, because I’m about to talk about some story issues with a movie and some people are going to assume I must be waving my genitals in outrage because how-dare-I-swim-upstream against all that this movie represents.

Here comes another dude talking Wonder Woman. Oh joy.

So first, let me say this and say it clearly – I have zero problem with the directing in this film. I have zero problem with the genders of anyone above or behind the line. It’s sad that it’s taken so long for a woman to accomplish what’s been accomplished. I think it’s fantastic that box office records are broken and a lot of people have panties and boxers in wads. Good. But that’s not where my issues are, and they never will be. However I know that for a lot of people that sort of thing forms a thick filter through which anything else I say will be colored, so even when I break down “hey this isn’t great development” it’ll be translated as “John sure does hate the womenfolk”, which is wrong, and any attempt to explain myself somehow reinforces that to a reader who comes in with their mind pre-decided.

Let’s talk about some positives. Wonder Woman, Gail Gadot, she’s great in this movie. She’s, yes, a good looking woman, but more importantly, she’s given a whole hell of a lot more to do in this film than stand around two dudes in a fight scene. She’s earnest and strong, and she is everything Wonder Woman.

Other positive: I think I saw the sun in a few shots. Like actual not-Snyderverse grey skies. The actual sun. Holy shit. Yes the color palette plunged quickly back to “muted = badass”, but there was actual color on screen at times.

Other other positive: It’s a really lean movie. Unlike the other Snyderian films that digress with long shots of staring or strange dream sequences or time tunnels, this story moves us from A to B to C without a lot of fat on the steak. Yay directing! Yay camera movement!

Okay, now let’s see if I can cover this story without plot spoilers. Just about everything I’m going to talk about is available in the trailers, so aside from one note about secondary characters being incredibly secondary, I’m not going to drop anything that isn’t either already out there, or isn’t sort of obvious.

Diana is an Amazon princess of Themyscira, the island home of the Amazons, and when World War 1 breaches the shores of Paradise Island, she takes up sword, shield, and lasso (hey where was the lasso when she was hanging out with Batfleck and allegedly-Superguy?) to go do what’s right. Joining her is Captain Kirk and a cast of otherwise pretty forgettable goodguys. Opposing her, as is pretty standard in her early story, are some Germans. Ultimately, her journey teaches her valuable lessons about heroism and it’s what molds her into the woman who will later fight a CG burnt-testicle cave troll.

That’s the plot in really broad spoiler-free strokes. That’s it. This is an origin story.

Let us dive then into the parts where the story goes askew:

  • Character Consistency. One would think that the Amazon princess who has never encountered the real world would be the very definition of the “fish out of water”, being that her civilization hasn’t really progressed much past the Battle of Thermopylae in terms of technology. However, throughout the film this is either ignored, or played up only when humorous. She doesn’t know what a dress is, but she has no problem encountering a truck or phone.  What this conveys is that she’s only a fish out of water when the story doesn’t need her to know something, which means you’re sacrificing story momentum for the sake of joke beats before working to get back up to speed. If she’s a fish out of water once, she’s a fish out of water always, unless she’s got an in-story reason to understand something. This does not mean everything foreign needs to be explained to her, but it does mean that the writing needs to make deliberate choices about what she knows, what she can deduce or intuit, and what remains unknown to her.

  • Character Motivations, Part 1. We need to define a writing term first. “Practical motivations” are the things a character knows how to do and therefore excels and looks for opportunities to do those things as a way of asserting control or competence in the world whereas “conscious motivations” are the desires, hopes, goals, and dreams of a character that they feel and that influences them to action. For our woman of wonder, the practical motivations are set up in the first half of the first act, a very breezy set of action montages where Amazons fight each other and our main character shows growing competence. It’s worth noting here (and we’ll do it again when we talk dialogue) that this is uneven montage construction, as she’s never shown failing, just always improving, so it’s hard to assess that these actions, this combat, is truly a challenge for her.

The conscious motivations are imparted somewhat nebulously. We’re told that she’s special, we’re told somewhat that she’s good and that she believes that mankind (non-Amazonians) is by default good, and that by itself should be enough for us to buy her as a hero in the story. Except that we know she’s a hero, because she’s all over the other movie where Bruce punches Clark and then feels bad about it. It’s these conscious motivations that we’re told about and don’t really see (she doesn’t have a “save the cat” moment although she has three moments where she gives the “hero speech”), that lead her to get into the big action pieces of the movie, and we’re supposed to be swept up in it … except that if we’re told rather than shown, it isn’t really embedded in us as an audience. We don’t get that chance to feel what she feels, and we’re distanced from connecting with her.

  • Character Motivations, Part 2. Our main character gets into the plot because she sees danger that no other character sees. This is good, because every character who isn’t her or Captain Kirk is kind of disposable and tepid. And that includes the antagonist (who we’ll get to in a minute). Any time a protagonist has to accomplish something that want for accomplishment should sit at the confluence of two things – a character arc and a plot conflict. Diana doesn’t really have an arc, because naivete isn’t really an arc, it’s part of what’s shed when you have an arc, sort of like the hair you lose during a haircut is only part of what informs the new changed haircut. Diana goes off to confront the bad guy because he’s the badguy, with no other motivation than “that’s what the story says to do.” But what does Diana want to do? What she should do is dependent on her arc, but I can’t say for certain what her arc was beyond “I’mma go be an Amazon during WW1.”

  • The Antagonist. In the majority of superhero stories, the hero and villain are on a collision course because they’re on the same line, moving in opposing vectors at roughly the same velocity. The motivations for each are as much chess match as they are binary conflict. In the film, the fact that Germans represent bad (because Germans = Nazis no matter the history, right?) is used as a blanket to certify that the villain is a badguy. Look out he has a gun. Look out he’s stomping around. Someone has to stop him, oh no. All this guy (it was Danny Huston by the way), all Danny Huston needs is a moustache to twirl and we’ll hit peak generic villain status. We learn about his goals through the protagonist (and worse still, through dialogue said by a secondary character to the protagonist) so that his goals can afford to be generic and broad because anything that ticks the “it’s bad” box counts. So if you were to ask me what motivates the story’s villain, it’s a generic reason of “bad guys like fighting and winning.” Yawn.

  • Lack of Tension. Maybe this is due to the fact that this story is set a century prior to the last one, so we know she survives, and we double-know she survives because she’s in the Justice League trailer too, but here in this movie, where we’re sitting having paid our $16 for a 3D matinee, we should at least have a feeling that maybe there’s some danger. Oh wait, no? We’re gifted with shots of her taking on a war zone unscathed and always looking like she was bred for war with technology she’s never encountered like it’s no big thing? Oh, okay.

Yes, this movie is low on the “Oh I hope she’s not in danger” scale. Nope, she’s not really in danger. And she should have been. Because it’s the overcoming of that danger that lets us root for the hero when the odds are greater as the movie progresses. She’s got gauntlets that deflect bullets. Shinguards that deflect bullets. An indestructible shield, and a sword. Yeah, she’ll be fine. She’s never dirty. Also, her hair never gets messed up. Magical Amazon hair and skin care products, I guess. Also, her makeup palette changed from shot to shot sometimes, either that or someone went a little LUTS-wild.

  • Dialogue duds. There’s quite a bit of talking in this movie. Not like an Altman or Smith film, but still, there’s a lot of back-and-forths. And sometimes the dialogue sounds like people, where they have feelings and aren’t cranking it up to 11 for “their moment”, but other times it’s clear that the dialogue is delivered because the character is center frame with a tight shot. Some of this dialogue doesn’t work.

Part of this dialogue revolves around a secret being kept from Diana, and prior to my walking out of the theater, the audience is left barely enough breadcrumbs to suss it together. Not that it needs to be spelled out (though my fear is that the third act hinges on the reveal, so gag me, I’m glad I bailed), but the danger in keeping a secret from the audience is that you can generate more confusion or disinterest than mystery and a want to solve it. Yes, it’s possible to keep a character in the dark but not the audience, but ideally, you keep both in the dark so the reveal carries an impact.

  • Convenient Plot. When a story is lacking tension, a “ticking clock”, a plot-idea that imparts danger or impending harm is used. There’s a ticking clock presented in the mid-second act, but it’s done conveniently. (This might be a spoiler, and I’m sorry) This story hinges around the WW1 armistice, where the good guys want the war over and the bad guys don’t … but there’s an extra level of complication because the armistice is also presented as a problem because it’s happening soon. Or is it?

The movie’s logic is this – if the badguy isn’t stopped, then the war will go on because badguy will be bad. If that’s the case, the armistice won’t matter because the badguy will be cause more fighting. If the badguy is stopped, it’s the same as the armistice, because the war will end. So how exactly is the armistice a ticking clock? Where’s the urgency?

  • Double Convenient Plot. Usually in a linear plot (A to B to C), you arrange the scenes at A, B, and C to be reachable and progressive. Like in a road trip movie you have to go to B from A and to C from B. Weak writing shortens the distances between points (usually between B and C, because it creates false urgency and masquerades as heightened stakes. What happens here is that point C is right next to point B on the map. A literal map.

Convenience neuters tension. It neuters momentum. It takes the foot off the story throttle. It reduces danger. In general, it’s not a good look, particularly in the back half of a story.

  • Slow-Mo No No. Slow motion shots are meant to turn the ordinary into extraordinary by putting the focus and elongating the tension around an action. A ball being caught, a switch being thrown, slow motion turns an action we wouldn’t think twice about into a motion we have to pay attention to. And as in other films (300 comes to mind … which makes me think there’s something about using Grecian material that requires slow mo), slow motion shows up here whenever there’s a big fight moment. A moment, where we’d be paying attention to the protagonist either way, where now we’re forced to double-extra pay attention just because she’s leaping out a goddamned window or jumping like a ballerina before shooting an arrow Horizon Zero Dawn style. Slow motion for slow motion’s sake makes it not special. It’s supposed to be special. Too much of it makes it not special. Also, slowing down action beats doesn’t make the action more important.

  • Lousy CG. Short note here – it’s like someone just learned about masking and keyframes in Final Cut Pro. And why blur on the big CG stunts? To show something you wouldn’t subject a human or practical effect to, why does it have to be partially motion blurred with its lighting slightly off so that it screams “digital effect”?

  • Most Secondary Characters are Bland. The majority of non-critical characters are utterly replaceable, and only two of them stick out in my mind (Princess Buttercup, and I’m pretty sure that one guy was Remus Lupin). Secondary characters are often service characters, people who serve a function to the plot’s completion or character arc, otherwise they’re relegated to quips and levity. With a period piece, the secondary characters are often waypoints to measure the framing of the story, that is, these characters are the touchstones so that the primary characters can stand out more. In this film, this is taken to such an extreme, the secondary characters melt away aside from ticking a few standard movie quotas.

A secondary character should strive to stand out in some way that is greater than their plot contribution. Secondary characters should stick in our heads because of the impact they have on the protagonist’s arc, and no, it shouldn’t come through dialogue nine times out of ten. It’s not about catch phrases and quips, it’s about showing something that either makes an impression on a character or showing that not-doing something makes an impression on a character.

This all makes it sound like I absolutely destroyed this movie, and there were parts I liked beyond the physical appearance of actors. The big scenes they’re hanging hats on (No Man’s Land, Themyscira) work, and some of the smaller scenes (there’s one with snow, there’s a great moment with boats and fog) that do work.

If you’re about to tell me that my opinion doesn’t count because I walked pre-third act, I hear you. But by the time you hit the third act, the story should have all its major elements either presented or has hooked me to stick with it. What I saw of the first two acts didn’t keep me in the seat. If your mileage varied, I do hope you liked the movie.

Would I see it again? With friends, yes. On TV or Netflix, once sure.

And for the record, I do think this movie will generate less ire and workshop material than Batman vs Superman, which is both good and bad.

Until next time, good friends and creatives, keep rocking, and don’t you dare give up.

Happy writing.

Posted by johnadamus in keep writing, movie review, movies that make me think things, plot development, plot stuff, pretty but hollow, problem solving, seize the minutes, 0 comments

Why Am I Getting Rejected? Part 3

Today we conclude the series on rejection. We’ve talked about rejection from the query, we’ve talked about rejection from the manuscript, and today, we’re going to look at rejection caused by other things, because yes, there are other sources of rejection that aren’t the query or the manuscript.

It’s unfortunate, and this is the part about rejection that’s really difficult – some of this stuff is under your control, and some of this stuff isn’t. The big giant red flag here is that people often read the “some stuff isn’t” and take that as a permission slip to blame their rejection on somebody-else’s-problems and not address any of their errors that might actually be in the query or MS.

This is where I propose a bold step – ask for feedback on the query or manuscript following rejection. Maybe you won’t get it from every publisher, but there are those of us who will. And yeah, it’s an emotional risk to take, since you’re admitting you missed the mark, but I see it also as a huge point of courage and strength – yeah, you missed the mark, but you don’t want to miss it again. You’re going to try again, you’re not going to give up.

Don’t let what I’m sure may be quite a few voices saying publishers don’t have time or that feedback is not in their job description be a reason you won’t take a bold step forward in producing your MS and getting it out into the world. Yes, a lot of people are going to just say the query and MS aren’t for them, say something dismissive, and leave you hanging. But there are going to be publishers and individuals (hello!) who would be happy to work with you to take a look at what you’re doing and give you pointers. You’re not going to know until you ask. And you are good enough, and you should believe enough in your work, to ask.

Now, onto our list of 5 things that aren’t your MS or your query that can get you rejected.

Issue 1 – Your query and/or MS is good, but it’s not what someone is looking for.
This might be the most discouraging issue in the list, because there’s no explicitly wrong thing to point out. It’s not that the query was vague or the manuscript was too wordy, it just didn’t meet the other person’s criteria. Criteria, I should point out, that you as the author aren’t going to know and couldn’t possibly predict.

Yes, you can write in-genre, your story can be well-constructed, the query can be gold star material, and the other person can still say no. And that’s on them, not you. Maybe they don’t think they can sell it. Maybe they just got a directive from their superiors that they need to look for submissions going in a different direction. Maybe they read your MS and query about 15 minutes after they spilled coffee and cherries on their only good top and they have less than 6 minutes to send an intern to the bodega for club soda. Who knows … but it means they can’t say yes right now to that manuscript.

It sucks, but it happens.

Issue 2- Your social media presence is very controversial (due to an agenda or attitude)
Okay, here’s a Johnfession: I spend a good deal of time on social media. Usually that’s Twitter, and when I’m having a good hair day and don’t feel like I should climb back under a bridge to harangue goats, I’m on Snapchat (johnwritesstuff). And because I’m on Twitter so much, I say a lot (at the time I’m writing this paragraph I’ve got 55.3k tweets). Some of what I’ve said, and some of what I’ll likely say isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. I don’t agree with some ideas, be they professional or social. I have thoughts and ideas about a whole lot of stuff, and social media gives me an outlet to express those thoughts. I don’t do it with the express intention to be shocking (my shock-jock era was over at least a decade ago), but I know that I can’t control, nor do I want to control, how other people perceive my expressions. Other people’s outrage is not my flock to shepherd.

This means that there are times in my life where what I’ve said has cost me friendships, jobs, relationships great and small, and even (gasp!) opportunities for free swag. And I’m okay with that. I don’t muzzle well, and I think I’m actually getting better at expressing myself with slightly fewer daisy chains of profanity.

I’m willing to stand by what I say, what I think, and what I’ve written in places. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea. It might controversial. And it’s the bed I made, so I shall be laying in it.

When I go check out an author, before I go send the MS up whatever food chain, I check to see if the author is on social media and if they’re active. Are they active enough that I can trust them to do their own promotion of their book? Are they active enough that they’ve built an audience? Are they saying anything particularly -ist or -phobic that I might need to damage control or is it bad enough to disqualify them? Looking for those red flags is a pain, and honestly yes, there are times when I wish I didn’t have to, but to ignore the potential means I be having to spend more time fixing situations rather than doing what I’m paid to do, which is helping make books happen.

A controversial social media presence can give a publisher some pause. How you define “controversial” is subjective, and I’m probably one of the more permissive people, because I don’t want a silent author but also don’t need one advocating for the abject murder of people based on gender, race, orientation or identity for instance.

Issue 3 – The author has zero social media presence and (bonus!) an active disinterest in using it.
I think this one bothers me moreso than the previous issue. This seems so outdated, so out of touch, especially when some of the best ways to fix the problem are free and don’t take more than a few minutes a day.

Maybe this stems from the idea that there’s an expectation that the publisher will just pay the author to sit somewhere and sippy froo-froo drinks while they do “their part” and promote the books that the author churns out from various bungalows on various tropical beaches. Maybe it comes from the idea that because building an audience takes time and isn’t automatic or easy then it shouldn’t be done. Maybe it comes from a fear that someone doesn’t know how to do it. Whatever the case, I run into a LOT of people who want to be traditionally published while remaining wholly averse to the idea of promoting any percentage of what they’ve done.

No, the audience doesn’t immediately come running. No, they’re not going to suddenly ‘just know’ that you’ve done a thing and it’s available without you saying something. No, marketing and audience development is not a part of the writing job/career that you can afford to skip out on.

Pushing back on using social media and doing anything other than dropping a sales link in a tweet every other day (the old “Buy my book LINK HERE” sales tactic) can very often sound like you’re just about to join the Old Person Doesn’t Want Kids On Lawn Club or you just got your subscription to the Back In My Day newsletter. Social media isn’t scary. That fear that you’ll be exposed and shamed or ignored? We all have that. We use the media anyway.

That audience gets built because you sound like a person, preferably you sound like yourself, and you start talking to people and interacting over and over, regularly and naturally. You can do this.

Issue 4 – The market is saturated in material that looks a lot like the manuscript.
Faerie courts. Werewolves. Zombies. Grizzled soldiers back from war to avenge dead brides. Long lost heirs to kingdoms and riches. Prophecies about one person making a global difference because of some very small character trait they have. The market is cyclical, and eventually everything swings back around.

Sometimes, people are ahead of that curve, so it doesn’t look like they’re catching trends. Other times, they’re adding one more manuscript to a caravan en route to inboxes already full of the same material.

The author has zero control over the cyclical life of trends. Even without meaning to, even while working in secret, late at night while the house sleeps or in the wee hours while it’s just you and a cat, you can be writing X right alongside a ton of writers also writing X. And then you all finish at the same time, and you send the manuscripts off at the same time, and then the publishers have stacks and stacks of X. How can they differentiate? What’s going to make yours stand out?

If you said “Query letter!” and “A strong engaging manuscript!”, thanks for paying attention, but let’s suppose that everyone else also said it too. In a big pool of X, X-number-81 or X-number-23 are going to get rejected, even if they’re not bad. Because there’s a load of factors outside authorial control and market saturation and the affect of a bloated inbox on a reader are two things that no amount of great chapter 1s can fix.

No, that doesn’t mean you have to give yourself aneurysms trying to make the most original original-thing possible so that there’s no doubt that you’re not chasing a trend or being routine. It means you need to get comfortable with your craft and your voice and make decisions that put your creative self into situations where your work is going to stand out when it’s in the big pool of X.

Issue 5 – There’s no reader checking the inbox where the MS and query are sent.
This happens a lot with smaller publishers, and you wouldn’t think that would be the case, because you’d think a smaller publisher would be super pumped to see any submissions. And small publishers are pumped for submissions, but there are some small publishers who don’t have any interest in publishing, they just want to say they’re a publisher, all while engaging in predatory behavior that colors part of the industry as a crooked bunch of wheeler-dealers, while forcing authors to be overly cautious and assume that the bad folk outnumber the good.

The bad folk exist, just like they exist outside of publishing (like those mall kiosks that wash your hands with salt), and you should try and avoid eye contact (this also applies to the salt kiosk people), but you can’t assume that everyone out there is coming to get you and your manuscript too.

Sending your work out into the world and not hearing back even a “Thanks so much for submitting” or a “Expect a reply from us within # of days” can be disheartening, but like everything else in this series, don’t take that as a permission slip to give up.

Yes, it’s possible that you send your MS and query to a dead mailbox. Maybe the contact info changed, maybe no one thinks to check it because it’s an off-week and the boss is away, maybe it’s pushed off for someone else to handle “later.” But none of that should stop you. Keep writing, keep submitting. Keep persisting.

Track who you send it to, track the response, and follow the hell up. Seizing that initiative is going to have way more and larger benefits than passivity or negativity.

To wrap up this series, I want to say that in no way have I covered the whole of the bell curve as to why manuscripts and queries get rejected. But I wanted to at least point out the big ticket items, and maybe hopefully help you with a map through somewhat otherwise hazy territory.

The response I’ve gotten to this series is huge, and not just in terms of number of readers, but also who has been reading it. Editors, publishers, published authors (all of whom I’d get super nauseous and panicky about saying hello to if not for the comfort of social media), as well as writers who wouldn’t speak up normally have all checked out these posts, and I’m grateful. It’s a big deal, and I hope that some of you out there stick around to see what’s coming, and go check out the archives to see what else I’ve done. Thanks for taking the time to read my words.

I’ll see you guys next for more. Happy writing.

Posted by johnadamus in last bit of the list, living the dream, seize the minutes, social media, 0 comments

The Hustle, 2016 edition

Good morning, welcome to Friday. I think were I a wacky morning zoo radio DJ, this is where I’d play some sound effects and then tell you the time, temperature, and traffic. Let’s all be thankful I’m not a DJ and get down to business.

We’re going to talk hustle today. Not the dance, I mean the Rocky chasing chickens, training montage, people doing stuff and getting stuff done hustle. WordPress was being pissy today, otherwise you’d be seeing images not just text right here.
So let’s define “the hustle” as all the things you’re doing to get better at being the best creative you can be while accomplishing your goal. That includes writing regularly. That includes blogging often. That includes … I don’t know, making sure you knit or paint or seed torrents everyday.
The goal, whatever it is, is where we’re going to start today. You need a goal.
There needs to be something driving your creative efforts. Maybe you’re trying to get a book written or published. Maybe you’re writing a script and aiming to get on the Blacklist. Maybe you’re trying to get a business off the ground. Maybe you want to be a wacky morning zoo radio DJ.
Without a clear goal, your efforts don’t have a trajectory – you’re just sort of doing stuff while time ticks by. Sure, things get done, but there’s that “why am I doing this” question hanging around.

What’s your goal? Why are you doing what you’re doing?
Picking that goal, if you haven’t already, is one of those simultaneously simple and scary decisions to make, like when you decide that Taco Bell is a good choice for lunch, or when you decide to call your aunt to see how she’s doing.
The lure of the goal is the end result. If I do all this writing and revising and querying, I’ll have a published book when all’s said and done. If I do a little coding, I can set up a website.
But there’s a trap with goals. It’s a trap of perspective and it’s one I fall into a lot, so let me pry my leg loose and tell you about it.
Yes, sure we can all set a goal. But is that goal set because you can reach it or because you want people to see you reaching it? What’s your reason for doing whatever it is you want to do? Want to see your book on a shelf? Want to earn enough money to take a vacation? Want to get over your fear of weasels? Those are goals for you, based on your own wants and thoughts. There’s this danger though, and I know it well, that you can set up a goal so that someone else will come along and tell you that you’re so brave or good or strong. And you keep at it, because as you work on it, they keep praising you. And there’s nothing wrong with praise. But (and here’s the tough part) some of that praise has to come from within you. You have to love what you do and like doing it and enjoy doing it even if no one sees you doing it.

Yeah, I know, it can suck sometimes.

I’m right there with you on getting my internal I’m-good-enough motor to kick over.
I’m saying that not because I want you to tableflip and walk off, but because part of the hustle is being honest and clear in your efforts. It’s not a bad idea to open a business selling socks, but it might be beyond your scope to start a business where you put all other sock makers out of business. There’s this concept called “target focus” at work here.
Target focus is seeing the small goal(s) within the larger one, and working to accomplish them, while realizing that you’re also accomplishing the larger goal.
Think of a marathon runner. There’s 26 miles to run from start to finish. That 26 seems huge and maybe that makes the runner worry about sore legs or blisters. But, if they think about just running that first mile, then another, then another, a mile at a time, the marathon gets done. They complete the marathon (the goal they set out to do), but there were smaller targets along the way that got done. And each target completed gave them a little momentum and incentive to keep going.
Take that goal, and break it down. What smaller targets can help you build to the larger one? I want to clean a room, I can stare at the voluminous mess and feel overwhelmed or I can quadrant off the room and work in 2 square feet of space at a time until I’ve finished. Or I can do one pass through the mess to collect all the laundry, and a separate pass to pick up all the books off the floor. There’s no wrong way to make targets.

A target is defined by:
a) A practical simplicity that advances you to completing the bigger goal
b) It’s something you can do that is actively productive

That (b) part is critical, and I was hesitant to talk about it until recently. Because anyone can take a goal and break it into pieces, but you can break pieces down again and again until you’ve sucked the effort and challenge out of them, until they’re inert. It might look like you’re doing something, but you’re not making a lot of headway. That lack of measurable progress can lead you to frustration.

Go back to that messy room. I can clean in 2 foot squares, which might be physically taxing or time consuming or I could at each pass, just pick up one piece of paper at a time and throw it out. I’d be here cleaning all day. Sure, I’m making progress, but I’ve slowed down to the point where it’s almost not seriously going to matter. And moving towards your goal should matter. You should want to accomplish your goal, for you, for your own reasons.

I say that as someone who knows what it’s like to set a HUGE goal that generates a lot of buzz, and then feel overwhelmed and undermotivated to go accomplish it. Maybe undermotivated isn’t the right word, so let’s pick a new one … how about terrified? Terrified of failing, terrified of succeeding, terrified of discovering I’m either good or not good at it … just plain scared to make progress.

Setting target helps. You can reach targets. Targets are realistic and not scary, they’re activities that happen every day. Set targets that have a bit of challenge, but that you can do. It’s not being anti-ambitious, it’s tempering that super-ambition down to a practical level. So that shit gets done. Try it, let me know how it works for you.

Geared up with a good goal and a motivation to do it, targets focused on, we get to the obvious yet not-obvious part of the hustle: <strong>you actually have to do whatever it is you want to do</strong>. If you want to be someone who makes soap, you have to make soap.

Here we find all kinds of distractions. The Internet. Relationships. Other goals. That whole stupid part where you have bills and taxes. Day jobs. Pants.

Keep that goal and its targets in mind. Remember why you’re doing what you’re doing. The distractions will still be there for you to handle later, but when you’re on the hustle, when you’re being that creative doing that creative stuff, tell the distractions to wait outside.

I know, I know, some of that stuff doesn’t feel like a distraction. You need that Spotify playlist so you can write. You need your coffee. You need to make sure the dog has water. You just need to check one more thing. You say that’s not a distraction, you just need to be doing it instead of hustling towards your goal. (Feel free to repeat this paragraph out loud a few times, I’ll wait.)

You’re not working in a vacuum. Unlike Matt Damon, you haven’t been stranded on Mars. There are interruptions. That phone’s gonna ring. The kids are gonna need something. The dog has to go out. Yes, there are things that are going to break your momentum.
Let me give you a tool for getting back to hustling after you take a break (either intentionally or not). This is what I do, maybe it’ll work for you.
You’re going to come back to your work after whatever paused it, and you’re going to picture, in your head, in as much detail as you can give a single snapshot, your goal being accomplished. See that book on the shelf. See your foe vanquished at your feet. See the Kickstarter funded. See the yolk not breaking when you flip your eggs. Get that in your head, then count to 10. Then push yourself into work.
You can get the momentum back. Really. You just need to push. And that push (I don’t have a fancy term for it, if you have one, tell me) takes energy, force of will, whatever you want to call it. But you’ve got your goal in mind, right, so getting back to work is what’s going to make that goal a reality.
You lose the momentum, you lose that vector, you get it back. Trip, fall, get back up again. There’s no penalty for however many times you stop, stall, stutter, tumble, break down, pause, uhh, or swear you’re going to give it up but keep going anyway. You’re not a bad creative because you didn’t do whatever you’re doing in one super long productive period. You’re not a bad creative because you tried and failed and then had to try again.
The important thing is that you got back up and tried again. That you put your fingers back on the keys. That you didn’t just close the laptop and say you were right all along about never getting your dream made.

Get back to work. Hustle. Make it happen.

Posted by johnadamus in art hard, believe in yourself, check this out, follow me on Twitter, get help if you need it, HAM, just write the f--king thing, keep writing, leveling up, living the dream, make time to create, motivation, pretty cool realization, realtalk, scary, seize the minutes, structure, what to do about doubt, 0 comments

4 Things To Look Out For

I edit things. I help authors make stories. I help authors make them better. I see a lot of manuscripts at a lot of stages in their life, and when I see mistakes, they tend to be pretty universal, regardless of genre or manuscript length.

Today I’ve collected four mistakes, offered examples, and have some ideas on how to solve them.

I. Skipping on the fundamental genre elements so that you can “stand out” or “write a book people talk about.”

Examples: A hero’s journey with no mentor; a western without either romance or a sense of scope and connection to the land; a dystopia with no sense of loss; a mystery without a clear crime

There are practical requirements based on the genre and type of story you’re telling. First-person means you’ll use “I” when talking as the narrator, in an action story, there’s always a moment where the hero is at the villain’s clutches. You can’t get away from these, because they’re central to the story’s development.

Not having these components will make your story feel “off” to a reader. It might be okay to read, it might be complete, but it won’t feel satisfying, it won’t engage or “click” with the audience. Yes, sure, people will talk about the book, but not in a positive hey-check-this-out way, more like an avoid-this-book-unless-you’re-trapped-in-the-wilderness-and-need-to-start-a-fire-or-need-to-wipe-and-you-can’t-find-pinecones way.

Novelty, uniqueness, distinguishing your story from others is important. And not just because agents, publishers, and editors tell you that it is, or that it correlates to sales. It’s important that your story be in its best shape if for no other reason than people are going to read it, and they deserve your best work, regardless of whether or not they’ve paid for a book or you’re emailing your friend something you scribbled down.

Omitting critical elements in a story and then wondering why the story doesn’t work is like trying to make ice and omitting the water. It’s not functional ice without the water. It’s not a functional story if you take out the building blocks.

As for what those building blocks are, they’re numerous, probably too numerous for a thousand years of blogging. You likely know them from whatever media you enjoy, you might not know their technical names, but you know the scenes where they really work – and the ones where they don’t. Technical names aren’t important, really. I mean, they’re helpful when we talk broadly about story construction, but it’s far more important that you can break your own story down into its constituent beats regardless of their label, since labels can be applied later.

Your story needs those foundational pieces, no matter how boring you think it may be to write a scene where people patch up their differences or ride off to gear up before shooting the badguy in the face at noon.

II. Far too many pronouns

Example: Madison looked at the sandwich on Dakota’s plate. She was hungry, and she knew it. While she was chewing, she thought she looked dangerous. With a sly motion, she slid a knife to her lap, ready for a fight.

Okay, that’s some lousy melodrama. Do you have any idea which character I’m talking about whenever you see a “she” or the “her”? I wrote it, and I barely could tell.

Too many pronouns isn’t increasing your casual relationship to your reader, it’s confusing. It’s really confusing. And a confused reader will try to keep up, but if they can’t sort out what the hell you’re saying, they’re going to go elsewhere.

The fix is both simple and hard. Instead of laying down a buckshot of pronouns, name-check a character here and there, especially when characters of the same gender are interacting. Yes, you can find some other ways to describe the character(s) – call out their physical traits, for instance – but if you only do that as your pronoun-alternative, you’re just making “blonde” or “the short one” substitute for “her”.

The tougher fix, the fix I tell clients to make, is write new sentences. Different sized sentences. Fragments. Big long sentences with clauses like kraken arms. It can be hard have that feel okay as a writer, so often we fall into patterns, especially when we get deeper into a manuscript. But it’s important for moving the reader’s eye down the page, giving them more words and ideas to engage with, and painting the clearest word picture possible. So, practice.

III. Mass produced, cookie cutter writing, heavy on the patterns

Examples: Looking at the number of sentences that have three to five words, then a comma, then three to five more words; how often “and then” appears in text; all the paragraphs are four lines long

Part of my job is pattern recognition. Patterns tell me a lot about a writer. I can often see how they were taught to write, what their attitude is as a writer, how they feel about what they’re putting down, how they feel about the reader, or even what they’re trying to avoid saying. We all have patterns. We favor some words more than others. Or certain sentence styles over others. These markers are fingerprints and illustrate critical elements that editing or even coaching can work on.

For many writers, this isn’t an issue. These indicators don’t stick out like sore thumbs and don’t dominate the story being told. Sure, if you scrutinize anything long enough you’ll find a pattern (for instance, how many sentences have I started with a single word followed by a comma?), but there is very clearly a tipping point where story becomes secondary to how the story is being told, because the constructive scaffolding is dominating the creative landscape.

The fix is to read more. See how other writers use the language. Do they let sentences run long, nearly to some imaginary breaking point, before paying them off? Are the sentences little staccato gunshots that punch their way onto your brain’s canvas? Do they let commas act like hinges in sentences? Do they love starting paragraphs with a word? Are many of their paragraphs seven lines long (I’ll wait here, you go count in this blogpost)?

Manipulation of language, using it for full effect, to the best of your talent, is going to connect you to readers far more than you think. Oh, it’s totally easy to churn out everything in four line chunks, but after reading that for pages, do you think a reader won’t glaze over, no matter what the words are?

IV. Thinking readability is a huge damned deal way bigger than it really is

Examples: Having some knowledge about what reading level the average consumer has and adjusting up or down to suit them; assuming that since the NYT bestseller list written at a certain reading level, that in order to get on it, you have to write at that level.

Readability or reading level was for many years a huge red flag for writers and English teachers. Even today, news outlets trot out charts and quick stories about how smart we are as a society, and maybe they do so with a sigh or with a chuckle.

Obviously I’m not saying your first grader is going to really enjoy the hell out of the New England Journal of Medicine article about accelerated foot fungus, nor is the college professor going to all swoony for Hop on Pop, but those are the extremes. And I’m not talking extremes. I’m talking the middle ground, where people hunker down in these unproductive trenches and hamstring themselves into apoplexy over whether or not they’re going to be understood.

Guess what? If your writing is evocative, engaging, and draws parallels to your readers’ experiences, you’re going to be understood.

When we talk readability, this conversation often comes to a crossroads – do I dumb down or stretch up?

Dumbing down is when you simplify your language. People think this makes them more relatable and genial, but do any of us like being patronized or belittled? Because that’s what people are doing with the simple and slow sentence structure that reads like it’s a pat on the head. Yes, you’re reaching a very wide audience, but so does screaming at a kindergarten class. Treat your readers with more respect, treat yourself with more respect, and if your word choice sends someone to a dictionary or the internet to look up a word, that’s NOT a bad thing to be avoided.

Stretching up goes the other way. Rather than writing something simple, every word (or as many as possible) get the thesaurus treatment so the manuscript (and by extension the writer) seem smarter.

Is it important for you to appear smart, dear writer? Is that why you’re telling the story you’re telling? Is appearing smart going to earn you that validation you’ve been hunting? Will you feel better if someone calls you smart? (Okay, you’re smart, now what?)

The tricky part here is that instead of patting your audience on the head, you run the risk of making them feel stupid. One or two words per manuscript that they need to look up is alright, but do scene after scene and you’re just showing off. And is that why you’re writing, to show off?

Tell your story your way. Don’t do the readers’ thinking for them, don’t assume them stupid or smarter than you, just focus on telling your story your way.

Keep writing. See you later this week.

Posted by johnadamus, 0 comments

I Have An Idea For A _____, Now What Do I Do?

This very awesome idea (which totally replaces the angry post I was writing about the problem with repeated descriptions) comes from Jeremy Morgan, who I believe a lot more of you should be hiring to read and edit your things. C’mon he’s got a family to take care of. Don’t let him, like, starve and stuff. That’s not cool.

Now I left a blank up in the post title because it doesn’t really matter what it is you’re making: a book, a movie, a television pilot, a statue, a big painting of celebrity navels, whatever – the initial steps of the process remain the same. For the purposes of this post, I’m going to talk about storycraft, but you can swap “book” with whatever it is you’re making.

We’ll also assume you’ve already thought of the idea in some capacity. It doesn’t matter if it’s just a title, or a scene or just some rough picture of something frozen in time. You’ve got a hook into SOME part of what will become the draft or rough sketch.

Onward.

Step 1Get the idea into another medium. For me, a lot of the ideas for things start off as thoughts in my head like, “What sort of music does a disenfranchised dudebro secretly listen to?” or “I wonder what would happen if you made a hot sauce built on a base of butterscotch and Indian peppers?” A lot of these ideas don’t go anywhere (like “Why don’t I own the complete filmography of Jason Statham?”), but the ones that do survive do so because I’ve done more than just think them. I usually say them aloud a few times, then copy them either onto a nearby steno pad or into a text file in my Dropbox called ‘Ideas For Later“.  Translating the idea into some other form – even if you’re leaving yourself an audio note or a Vine or a whatever-chat the kids are doing these days helps it persist and be less of an ephemeral bubble drifting through your head in between thoughts of what to watch and what to eat.

Step 2. Give the idea a stick figure skeleton. No, not an actual stick figure, I mean, I guess you could do that if you wanted to storyboard it, which I guess is a combination of the this step and the next one below, but I mean this step to be about giving the idea a little spine and some limbs, and see if you still get fired up about it. If this is a story idea, think about one part of it (a character, a setting, a question it asks) and put words to it. If you’re writing a story about a corrupt judge and his sex addicted daughter, do they have names? Where do they live? Do they live well? Do they have secrets no one else knows? Use your base idea as a starting point, and come up with more details. Not loads more, just one or two that really stand out to you.

If Step 1 and Step 2 combined keep making you feel like this idea is a good thing to pursue, move onto step 3. If not, either scrap the idea or save it for later – you’ll never know when they pay off.

Step 3. Make a mess, then make an outline/blueprint/rough sketch/whatever. There are many great people who flip the two parts of this step, and that totally works for them, and I’m way more than envious about it. Is there such a thing as super-envy? I either just invented it or jumped on its bandwagon. I like to throw some words down on the page before I get serious about mapping something out. The first pages of something are a crash course in the idea’s survival skills. If I can write out a scene, or describe the picture in my head in more than a sentence, ideally a paragraph or four, and it’s not awful, it stays in active rotation among the things I’m working on. If it’s awful, I put it in a folder called “Graveyard” and hopefully harvest it later for parts when the next idea strikes.  Once the premature idea has some paragraphs or description on it, I can sit down and more consciously outline it. Like so many other things, I outline in my own way. I’ve talked about outlines before, but I never really thought about THE ACT of the outline as anything other than some horse-apples people say you’re supposed to do. And yes, maybe that rigid “outline” they teach you in school is crap on a stick. But the note card trick? Using Fate Core? All outlines. Don’t tell old me that I’ve been outlining all along, that guy doesn’t need the stress.

Step 4. Schedule an appointment. I’m totally stealing this idea from my local Honda dealer and their awful website. My car is due for an oil change and an inspection, so I thought these were things I could schedule via their website. Instead I found the most mansplain-y videos and how-tos on how to change your own oil, change a tire and when you need to call for a big man with greasy hands to take of a problem for you (right ladies? we can’t be worrying our pretty little heads when we should be in that kitchen fixing dinner, right? — seriously, those videos suck). I ended up calling the service desk directly and after a rousing version of mariachi Barry Manilow, got my appointments. The idea of scheduling makes my division of time easier. So too for writing. If I know that tomorrow I’m going to be writing another scene involving a recovering addict named Saturday who breaks a guy’s hand for making homophobic comments at his favorite bar, I can look forward to that, and ballpark that the scene in my head (the scene that’s gone through this exact process already) should take me about an hour or so to get down in the shape I think it’s in. The rest of my day can then get sliced up into time spent editing, designing and some errands best done when it’s going to be in the mid-70s.

Is there a fifth step? Yes.

Step 5. Create. Create regularly. Feed your word-beasts. Yes, sometimes the words are a trickle and other times they’re a raging flood. But you won’t know which it is until you’re tapping those keys or moving that pen. Work on that sketch. Test out that recipe. Edit those photos. Work on your dance moves. What’s that? You don’t want to? I thought you said you wanted to make something. The idea’s not interesting anymore? Then have a new idea and start back up at the top. That’s not it, you say? You just “Don’t wanna”? Am I allowed to make clucking noises at you? Hey, if you want to procrastinate, I can’t stop you. If you want to prop up a billion illusory fleeting “reasons” (read: excuses) as to why creating this thing slips further and further down your To-Do list, that’s not something you have to justify to the guy on the internet. That’s all you and your commitment. Which will continue to be the subject of many posts to come.

Let me leave you with one last idea: Writers write. Creators create. You have to invest your guts and soul and courage onto and into the thing you’re making. Be brave. Be honest. Art hard.

 

Happy writing.

Posted by johnadamus in just write the f--king thing, make time to create, pretty cool realization, revisiting an idea, seize the minutes, this is how I work, 0 comments

The Simple Art Of The Impossible

This is later than when I normally write, usually by now I’m playing Mario Kart on the DS, or having a lovely chat with a lovely person or I’m impatiently waiting for something to download so I can watch it later. Usually when I sit down to write it’s morning, and it’s grey and I bang the keys to birdsong and I do my best to get it done in an hour, because I like to have my own writing done before I sit down to edit someone else’s – I can’t stand splitting my attention like that, it feels like I’m shorting the client.

A lot of talk has popped up on my Twitter feed and my G+ whatever-the-hell-you-call the full media assault of Google Plus’ opening page about writing, more the act of it and the effort behind it than any intricacies of particular plots or characters, and I see a lot of workshops popping up that promise to teach how to make a psychopath on paper in two hours or how, if you buy the accompanying book, you too can build a plot that doesn’t have holes in it. A lot of this talk comes from people I respect, and a lot of this talk comes from people who I don’t know, so I can’t say their worth my respect or not. It’s not something I dish out, like rose petals before a bride, it’s more something I hold in reserve, a good cognac in fancy tumblers for members of a little club that John hosts in his headspace.

The truth of it all is that writing is hard. Making a book might as damned well be sorcery for all the conjuring of will and discipline and the alchemy of taking snippets of ideas and concepts and weaving a spell that results in pages being turned and people wanting more. The truth is that there’s a lot of ways to do that, and a lot of teachers, good and bad, who can act as signposts or speed bumps when a writer wants to get from Point A to finished novel B. The truth is, it comes down to you expressing your ideas.

There’s no Coltrane-esque nuanced jazz there, there’s no deeper meaning that you’re supposed to divine or decode – just put your ideas on paper. Write your guts out. Bleed in every paragraph, chapter and scene. If your character’s going nowhere? Burn something down, blow something up, send someone through the door, spoil the milk in their fridge. Make something happen.

You know why your book keeps getting rejected? Because your writing is soft and unclear, you’re bringing cake batter to the neighborhood bake sale, but not everyone wants to lick the beaters. (Seriously, I tried a cookie dough metaphor there too – and have realized that both dough and batter are tasty, but I hope you see what I’m saying) Maybe it’s worse than soft, maybe it just plain isn’t any good. Maybe you need some fresh eyes, or harsh eyes or eyes that aren’t attached to a mouth puffing sunshine up your blowhole to take a good hard look at it. What makes it better? More writing. More reading. Not so you can ape the style of someone else, but so that you can dissect and see examples of how things work. See how Gaiman writes a beat. Look how King phrases dialogue. Don’t copy them, you’re not a Xerox. But learn from them. And that means you might have to loosen your chokehold on your assumptions, even the ones that tell you how precious a snowflake you are.

POV, point of view, stop trying to innovate it. Stop trying to put feathers on a zebra. Stop hopping from head to head in your characters and tell the story. There’s a reason why first and third person are popular. It’s not defeat if you use them anymore than you’re a bad human if you use matches or a lighter to start a fire.

Those achingly dull subplots, why are they there? Are you just padding space because you saw other people do them? Put down your membership card to the Lemming League and just tell your story. YOUR story. YOUR story. Tell it.

Did you just make up a new genre? Why? Okay, so lean a little closer to the monitor. STOP IT. I get it, you don’t want to be pigeon-holed, man, your work is so out there you’re on the bleeding edge of the bleeding edge, you’re a pioneer, a loner Dottie, a rebel. Maybe you are, and maybe seventy years from now kids are going to be gathered around their holo-trons to watch the robots enact your stories. But that would require your stuff to get published first, wouldn’t it? A genre is not a straightjacket, it’s a homeroom on the first day of high school. It groups you together with other people, and gives you a starting point. You’re not prisoner 24601, you’re you. Stop making paper shackles.

There’s a variety of words I can use to tell you what I think of the current resurgence in people who espouse “platforms” and “brands”, most of them I reserve for driving in traffic and instructions to lovers. Platforms are for diving. Brands mark cows. You’re an author, communicate with people. And let them communicate with you. Oh for Pete’s sake, it’s 2014, don’t give me that Fox News your identity might get stolen crap if you have an email address or even a single page with some links to write you an email or places you’re gonna be signing or speaking or dicking around or whatever. Get on some form of social media. LEARN, don’t play Excuse Roulette. You want to know where the agents, editors and writers are? Twitter, Google-Plus. Yeah I know there’s a whole lot of people out in the world who prop themselves up as little gurus (I know, I used to do it), but there comes a point where you can either sit on the plastic folding throne and treat people like peons or you can go out and be an asset to yourself, your efforts and other people. In short, communicate with other people about what you’re doing.

And while we’re talking about communication, can we just knock off this whole “I don’t want anyone to steal my idea” garbage? I’m not saying that hasn’t or doesn’t happen, but I liken it to this: You can go to a mechanic or dealership to get your oil changed or your car checked out, and it’s what bazillions of people do. Or you can go talk to that guy missing teeth who smells like mold, cat urine and burning plastic who is drinking the oil he says he can put in your car. It’s a damned shame that in this day and age, the fearful panicked and stupid decisions of people have spread like a bad case of head lice to infest others, giving the impression that there are more thieves than helpers in this industry. That’s the same poisonous impression that would tell you me and my site are suspect because I don’t have a whole sidebar of splashy graphics or busloads of commenters (who I always have to scratch my head at – because for all the commenting, they could be writing). I don’t have those things because instead I have a Dropbox full of clients’ work. I’ll take the work over splashy graphics any day. This is the judging a book by its cover portion of the post, by the way.

Writing is the art of the impossible. It’s using a common set of tools to plant subjective pictures and feelings into the heads of others. It’s tough to do well, and simple to do poorly. Get a bank account and fill out some forms and you too can be part of the drek that bloats websites and confounds people who want to exchange monies for entertainment. It can be done, but there’s discipline and effort and will and practice and failure and stress and joy and ache and love and anger and not-knowing to navigate as you hit those keys, pick up that pen or dictate into the mic.

I pause here a second to look at my fingers, knuckles pre-arthritic, hands dry, wrists scarred and forearms more like chicken legs. I’m not Raymond Chandler. I’m not Chuck Wendig. I’m not Dashiell Hammett, Seanan McGuire, Stephen King, Gail Simone, Jim Butcher, or Delilah Dawson. I’m not Janet Reid, Colleen Lindsay, Stacia Decker or that guy who’s name escapes me at 11pm, but you know who I’m talking about, that agent. I’m a freelance editor, a word ninja and book ronin, walking the landscape to help people make art. I’m not in many indices, I’m not asked to play reindeer games. I don’t live in New York or Los Angeles. I am a guy with talent and 20 years of writing, editing, game making, filmmaking, scriptwriting, radio producing and puppet making experience. I’m a guy who talks openly and passionately about mental health, about anxiety, about depression, about addiction, about love and loss and art and failure and dating and cooking. I do all those things AND talk about making books and games and art. Because I believe that you, reader, you, writer, you, maker of art, deserve a shot at your dreams.

I don’t know if you’ll make it. I know there’s loads of people, myself included, who can help, if you’re willing. And I know that being willing and taking your best shot is great way to find success.

 

Happy writing.

Posted by johnadamus in feasting horn, get help if you need it, HAM, just write the f--king thing, living the dream, mentions of Chuck, realtalk, seize the minutes, this is how I work, tough choices, writer times, 0 comments

The Passionate Professional

Good morning. I’m throwing a bit of a wrench into our work with query letters because something has come up recently and it needs to be addressed before we get back to work. So, for a minute or two, put down your manuscripts, listen up and stay with me on this ride. Ready?

We write, we produce, we create, we make things out of passion. Yes, you’re going to say that’s imagination. You’re going to say that it’s an intense want to make a statement. You’re going to say that it’s an effort to generate an audience and satisfy some creative itch, maybe for bags of cash or not. I’m going to say that’s all passion.

It’s passion that puts the words in your head so that you can put them on the page. It’s passion that fuels us forward. It’s passion that makes us want to do this crazy craft in the first place. The storyteller is the one in the group of hunter gatherers with the awesome task of telling the gatherers what’s up. The storyteller is the teacher, empowering and awakening minds to join the group and from that fertile mental soil, the next leaders and storytellers are born. We are the sum of our teachers before us, the good and the bad, and we mark the good ones by their infectious passion, and tag the bad ones by their bitterness, their frustrations and the decay of their own passions.

Passion is not something pulled from an exterior source. You won’t find it at the bottom of a bottle. You won’t find it in a packet of foil. You won’t find it in a bag of chips or cake or kale or coffee. It’s not even in the praise of a friend, peer or lover. Your passion is in you, always. The wellspring of “I want to make a thing, I will complete the task of making it” is always in your soul, and the more you chase passion like it’s an external fuel tank that needs external replenishment, you’ll find a long and twisty route of frustration, procrastination and otherwise unspirited work.

Passion is forged in basal want and tempered out of risk. It’s a risk to write a thing, to send it off to official people and await their assessment. It’s a risk to make a game, to see if people can have fun doing something. It’s risk that compels the actor on the stage to go to those emotional places and educe those concentrated feelings into a point of clarity and then broadcast it. As in so many other things, the great rewards follow great risk, when there’s nothing else to lose, when you exhaust all the ephemeral methods of effort, that’s when the purity of what you say hits the page. You put your heart into every word, every paragraph, every chapter, every book and you will be rewarded. That reward might start with simple praise or a sale, but when you continue, when you re-invest in it and keep going, and keep risking and keep putting everything on the line in new and explorative and scary ways, the reward grows. Audiences. Attention. Opportunities. All are the offspring of risk.

Now maybe you’re sitting there, looking at those 500 or so words and saying, “Who are you John, to tell me this? You’re just a guy. You’re not a publishing expert. You’re not listed in this index or that. Your readership is tiny and your blog lacks all the flash and awards and sigils and earmarks that other editor-blogs do. Who are you and how can you presume to tell me what I need?”

I’m just a guy. I’m just a guy who spent his adult life trying and failing and running from risk. I’m just a guy who had his heart broken and who has lost a lot time and again. I’m just a guy who has a talent and an ability to help others do things with words they didn’t think possible. I believe so fundamentally in the power of words and the power of creatives and the power of passion that I’m not doing this to point to a shelf of awards or degrees or fancy blog traffic or rehashing the same eight pieces of advice only to sycophantically fellated by an audience that will yes-John me until I’m older and grayer and spent. You want to call me unprofessional, fine. You want to say I’m not like the others and mean that in a derisive way, great. But you cannot question my passion. And if you really took a look at things, I’m not sure you can question my talent either. But many people won’t get that far. They’ll see a tiny blog and big prices and assume that I’m either stupid or a boy playing pretend. I don’t feel particularly stupid most days. And regrettably, I haven’t been a boy in over twenty years.  And thank you for doing more to point out your assumptions and fears and feelings far more than you pointed out mine.

Because that’s what happens when you roll up to someone and make blanket statements. Judgments on what someone is or what they are doing or how some field operates under rules you might not have bothered to fully learn or adapt to. The misinformation and assumptions that you reinforce by not risking, by not being willing to try and see new horizons and in new ways affects you far more than it does anyone on the receiving end of your remarks. You won’t risk? Then you won’t see the reward.

It’s scary, I know. You can prop yourself up under shields of excuses all you like: you don’t have time; publishers are fickle; people will steal my ideas; you don’t know how to get started. What’s under them? Are you afraid of failing? Afraid of succeeding? Scared about step 6 when you’re on step 2? Projecting ahead? Get under the excuses, pry them up and find the heart of them.

Then take that heart, and bludgeon it with passion. Or come to terms with not doing that and all that entails and be willing to jettison the successful outcome you wanted.

Because if you can’t summon the passion to create, then lens it through discipline into craft, then you’re squandering imagination and your abilities. You’re not wasting time, because time’s bigger than you, but you’re taking the good potential of really making a thing and doing a thing and tossing it away. The roads from “I’ve never done this” to “I’m good at doing this” are lined with a thousand billion husks of jettisoned efforts, because fear leeched in and stalled creation. Fear is a motherfucker, and it wants to poison and consume passion for a meal.

This isn’t a call to strangle fear, this is a call to be passionate. To be the burst of sunlight that sends shadows running. To be the craftsman/woman/person who has the finished idea in their head and knows it the way they know their own breathing and can draw it from the resources. It’s not a focus on the reward, it’s a focus on the effort. You’re either going to write, or you’re not. You’re either going to create, or you won’t. Yes, it would be phenomenal to write for this company or make a thing like someone else did. And you’re either going to have the passion and discipline to shelf your excuses and your fear, or you’re not. And it’s not up to a blog post to throw that switch in your head. I can call you a coward all day and thrice on the weekends, and I can write hyperbole and vitriol to disgust or motivate or shock until stars die, but that’s all external to your passion. That’s all outside. Where’s your spark? Where’s your drive? Where’s that gut-burning knowledge and surety and want and hunger to grab the page and produce art? Not on my demand. Not on a publisher’s. Yours. Always yours. Forever yours.

So, go, make art. Tell stories. Produce works. Do things and come back and tell the rest of your clan or tribe or cluster or house or pack or team or people about it. Be the voice that creates and kindles other voices to do the same. Risk everything, as much as you can, put yourself on the line and put all your cards and chips on the table and see what happens. It’s scary, but be brave, take heart, focus on your efforts and your end goal, not the rewards or expectations. Get the statue out of the block of marble. Write the story that blooms in your head. Make the game that stirs your guts. Art hard. Then art harder.

Happy writing.

Posted by johnadamus in check this out, good times, realtalk, seize the minutes, 0 comments

What I Learned This Week At DexCon

This week was DexCon, the annual summer gaming convention that happens between Origins and GenCon (the two other big summer conventions). And if you’ve been anywhere near me lately, you likely got sucked into the tornado that was John-prepping-for-a-convention.

This year I was assisting in the running of a Signature Event, a tournament of Night’s Black Agents where the winning team scored a $1,000 for surviving and discovering the conspiracy unfolding around them. I am forever grateful to the tremendous assistance and support of Ken Hite, the game’s creator as well as Bill White, the third GM for their enthusiasm and patience with me — I have no doubt I was an over-compensating buzz of frantic anxiety, and they were masterful in keeping me on track and keeping everything moving forward.

Granted, my job seemed easy – I had to create the 30 characters for participants to use, as well as develop adventures designed to both give the players clues as well as winnow down the 30 players to a final round. We were successful, and I felt a tremendous sense of relief and adrenal relaxation (I suddenly lost an invisible 60 pounds of “what if this sucks?” I had been carrying). And the whole event, which mauled my Saturday, taught me A LOT.

Combine that with likely one of my top-four workshops (which is no longer at midnight, and comes with coffee for the morning crowd) and I am deeply happy man. That also taught me a lot.

I list those things now. When I talk about “it” (whatever “it” is) just replace that word with your book/game/project/thing you’re doing).

1. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it has to be the best you can do, and you have to give a shit about it. When I said yes to the opportunity to co-run a tournament, and once I got past the excitement of “I’m going to play one of my all-time favorite games with one of my favorite people who happens to be the guy who wrote the game!” and I saw the amount of work I had to do, it was tough not to get immediately paralyzed.

Create 30 characters that were pitch-perfect, interesting and accessible to players as well as seven scenarios that would weed through players and characters all within a 6-or-so-hour block? Gulp. I have experience making characters, I’ve even thought at times I was good at it, because I’m really just filling out an excel sheet, but this….this is serious! I can’t just have “my” kind of characters, I need to have Grade-A characters (kudos if you just caught the implication that I doubt myself sometimes).

And I just can’t have decent or average plots, I have to have plots good enough for the guy who wrote the game will respect and enjoy and not scowl at me all the way through. I can’t suck at this. (Cue anxiety, nervous stomach and panic sweats)

So, I sat down, talked myself down off that ledge and got to work.

a) I know how to do this.
b) I do this for my friends all the time.
c) I’m not working in a vacuum, I have people (like the game’s creator, duh) who can help me
d) and if it all goes pear-shaped, who cares, it’s a game, not nuclear disarmament talks with the Iranians)

And I did it. It was time-consuming, and it was essentially its own clinic in game design, story development and how-John-deals-with-the-spotlight, but I did it. Likely, when I tell you that I had also dropped about $90 at Staples to get pencils, erasers and folders, you’ll tell me that I overdid it, but the fact remained that I put all these things together. I don’t say that so that people say “Oh wow that’s amazing.” I say that so that I get it in my own damn head that I took on a big project and kicked its ass.

Was it perfect? Nope. Characters were under-powered, plots had holes, and my printer is low on toner, but all those things are fixable, despite my frustration and guilt that I didn’t do a perfect job, what I got was teased, not yelled at for the errors. And the errors got fixed, and a good time was had by all.

2. There are few things as nerve wracking as watching someone else go through your work with an audience, especially when they’re the developer of the game upon which your work is based. I’m used to people critiquing my writing. I go to meetings, I share my work with a lot of people, and they give me feedback (usually it’s “keep writing this!” and “stop thinking that you’re not good at it!” etc etc), so I have no problem sharing my work when my work is prose – someone reads it, they make comments, I’m used to that.

But it is wholly a different beast when what you’ve written is something interactive. When you watch someone at the top of the field take your work and make it come alive for an audience in a way you didn’t realize possible. It wasn’t just roll a few dice and say something, it was a moving, near-theater experience. It was as gaming should be – a dive into deep waters of imagination and story-telling where everyone is equally invested and equally enraptured by the tale and their contributions to it.

So I’m sitting there in the back of the room, watching Ken lead the final table through the plot. I know where the monsters are. I know where the red flags are. But what Ken did was transform them from simple encounters and bullet-points on page 4 into a story, and he painted (I mean like Van Gogh) a picture of an adventure and enemies and tension and excitement that I had some inkling of on the page…but Ken filled in the dots in a way that I don’t think anyone else could. He made my words not suck. He made them awesome.

That is scary though. While the other people in the room are listening to the players gasp and laugh and cheer and panic and play, I’m listening to the plot, I’m waiting for “Okay, does this monster kill them?” and “What about the clue?” That tension goes far beyond I-hope-there’s-a-winner and turns into oh-god-I-hope-this-doesn’t-suck-for-people. But…we made it. Hooray!

3. The biggest interference in a plot are the characters. The plot for the tournament, I felt, was one of the cleanest and jaw-dropping-est I-can’t-believe-that’s-a-thing plots I’ve ever worked on. It was so not a “go to Place A, retrieve item B, fight enemy C” affairs, but it rather intricately wove about 2 dozen clues together so that people could follow along.

Of course that somewhat assumes they will follow along. When one character takes the lady he’s supposed to protect and seduces her, then knocks her unconscious and throws her out a window into a pool (so the badguys can’t get her), that’s both one hell of a mixed message as well as something I wouldn’t think to do.

Likewise when characters are marshaling their forces and say “We need a flamethrower”, that’s not really something you can plan for. And no, you cannot plan for everything. The characters will surprise you when you leave them open-ended and provide fertilizer for the seed beds of imagination. (No, this isn’t the time to get into that discussion about whether you or not you “let the characters dictate the story as you write it”, this isn’t the place for that.)

I’m not saying that people are going to sabotage the plot, but you just have to roll with the punches when characters decide to make a hard-left out of the story and take it in a new direction. Granted this weekend we had neither time nor energy to vamp for 3 hours to get them back on track, so there was a huge margin of flexing, but as the developer of content, much like Moff Tarkin, you can’t hold too tightly to your plans, else things slip through your fingers. And I guess your British accent will come and go. Or something.

4. You need to take care of yourself. So I worked on this tournament and then decided that a six-hour marathon game wasn’t enough, that I would pull myself to my feet and play in another game that went from midnight until about 2am or so. Because that’s the healthiest response I could make, right? So by the time I fell asleep it was around 3:30 and I had to be up at 8:30 and ready to give a workshop at 10.

Also, if you’re scoring along at home, I am not 22 with a super metabolism and incredibly springy immune system. Oh, and I’ve fractured my ankle recently, depending on which medical authority you talk to (sprain, fracture, break, microfracture, these terms are but commas in medical sentences), so I’m gimping along on one leg and doing my best to pop Advil here and there and rest whenever possible. So what’s more restful than gaming for 12 hours straight?

On Sunday I had a GREAT, SUPER AMAZING WORKSHOP with a fantastic and detailed discussion of writing – covering discipline and habits and goal-setting and related ideas. I also answered a ton of questions (there were some wonderful questions this time), but I was so tired, I wanted to be more enthusiastic and answer more questions and get more into how to individually help people….but I just ran out of gas. I was tired and worn down and needed to rest.

It should be mentioned that this whole weekend it was hot. Like crazy living-in-a-furnace hot. Like 89 degrees at 2am hot. Hydration was the order of the day, and when I was hydrated, I felt great, I was awake and my foot didn’t hurt. When I was way behind in my waterload, I was sluggish, tired and a little babbling.

Those times when I stretched out in a chair, put my leg up and drank water? Incredibly restorative. I didn’t feel like I needed to be go-go-go all the time, I was better for not pressuring myself to do more.

So, summary time:

Take good care of yourself, and it makes stressful high-energy times worth it.
You’re going to end up stressing yourself out trying to be perfect, you’ll be much better off trusting yourself to do the best job possible.
More than you realize, there are very likely a lot more people who support you and actually like you, rather than who just tolerate your presence.

Happy writing. Later this week, I’ll do a post about how my writing has changed because of this experience.

Posted by johnadamus in dexcon, living the dream, nefarious chapeau, RPG, seize the minutes, time management, 0 comments

Making Time To Create

When I give workshops or panels or even when I’m just hanging out, the number one question I get asked is “How do you have time for all the things you do?”

Now some people get asked this question and they can point to the fact that they’re one steep staircase away from a heart attack and they’ll look to their marriages disintegrating in the few minutes they pry themselves away from their cubicles, and they say, “I work really hard.”

But that’s not a really satisfactory answer, because everyone works hard. I mean, yes, there is that segment of the population who espouses the philosophy that life shouldn’t be work and it shouldn’t be hard, and while they’re partially right, these are also people I’ve noticed who do a lot of wishing about how their life will be later, like they’re waiting for the Life-bus to pull up and whisk them away to Happy Success Land where they don’t have to do more than blink and be showered in fat stacks of cash.

That is an awesome lifestyle. For most people, that’s also an awesome fantasy. You say that to people coming out of offices and sitting in rush hour traffic, you’ll be lucky if they don’t break your nose and fatten your lip. We are raised to understand that doing work generates rewards, most often financial. And over time we’ve evolved this idea to separate the fun out of our jobs, so that we work “dayjobs” and like Batman (minus the wealth, minus the costume, minus the utility belt) we prowl for fun once the sun goes down, or at least until the alarm clock goes off and you have drag yourself kicking and screaming to that building with that job and that boss and deal with shit.

I decided when I was sixteen that I would never work a “real” job that wasn’t fun. I decided this while working a register at my local pharmacy, handing out drugs, condoms and wine (that store sold everything) to local people. That job was not glamorous and I often ended up sitting on a stool behind a counter listening to soft-rock and waiting for the local drunks to show up to buy lottery tickets. I had to manufacture my own fun. I wrote, I read, I kept myself out of trouble. That job did teach me a lot, I learned way more chemistry and science than I ever did in school, and I also learned how to make my own schedule. I was in charge of me and my time, so I could, if I wanted, block myself into one task for hours (as I had already discovered that if I moved slowly enough, refilling a beer cooler could take 3 hours).

What I didn’t know is that years later I’d be taking that same scheduling mentality with me wherever I went. These things don’t occur to teenagers I guess. So now, more than sixteen years later, I have an answer for that question.

I make time.

Now, (and thankfully) I don’t have to drag myself out of bed when some alarm clock blares. And I don’t have to slog my way through some commute to sit in an office, probably while wearing a tie, and deal with paperwork and projects and action-items. I get to roll out of bed, make breakfast, check my Google calendar and then start reading or writing. Then I get hungry, so I eat something (or I get reminded to eat), and then I repeat the reading/writing portion of the day until I get tired of it, then I go play a game or watch TV or something. That’s my whole day. And I do this, every day, all day. #notbragging #hatersgonnahate

There are books out there you can buy that say what I’m describing is a “dream” and that you too can live that dream if you outsource your scheduling and get really lucky. But, to be honest, I’m not comfortable employing someone half the world away and I’m certainly not comfortable giving them access to my life. So I do these things myself. (Lately I’ve been getting help, but it’s more a collaborative help and not a “do-this-for-me-random-Indian-sweatshop-worker” way)

But let’s look at how you can do this, even with your job or school or responsibilities or kids. No really, the only reason those things are obstacles to you doing what you want is that you’re making them obstacles, and not cheerleaders (we’ll get there later in the week).

Go get a legal pad, or a blank piece of paper. I’ll wait here.

Ready?

Now let’s look at your typical work day. I want you to roughly sketch it out by the hour on the page. Maybe it looks like this:

6 am Wake up 
7 am Commute to Work
8 am Work
1pm Lunch
2 pm Resume Work
6 pm Commute Home
7 pm Arrive Home
7:30 pm Eat dinner, pay bills, deal with kids
8:45 pm Kids go to bed
9:00 pm Watch TV
10 pm Go to bed

Admittedly, I’m speculating here. I don’t have kids and I don’t commute (unless you want to count my steps from the bed to the bathroom to the office to the kitchen and back). Your schedule may be different, and that’s totally fine. Notice I didn’t break down “Work” because a) it’s not important to this exercise and b) I really am not going to understand why you do it. Also c) You’re not Batman, Tony Stark, Sherlock Holmes, Nero Wolfe, Dirk Pitt or Harry Dresden, therefore I am not interested in what you do at your job.

Now, I want you to circle the activities that CANNOT be changed. I’ll make them red and bold here.

6 am Wake up 
7 am Commute to Work
8 am Work
1pm Lunch
2 pm Resume Work
6 pm Commute Home
7 pm Arrive Home
7:30 pm Eat dinner, pay bills, deal with kids
8:45 pm Kids go to bed
9:00 pm Watch TV
10 pm Go to bed

If you laid out your schedule by slot (i.e. 7-8am Commute), then that’s what you’d be circling. What we’re trying to do is block out the times you cannot manipulate. This is when what you do isn’t exactly under your best direct control, because it’s a response or reaction to an obligation bigger than you. Translation – It’s the shit you have to deal with.

Let’s look at the uncircled items. In my example above, I didn’t circle lunch because a lot of people don’t always have a set lunch hour, it sort of floats depending on how their work day unfolds. If you’re asking yourself why I highlighted “10pm Go To Bed”, it’s because that’s the end of the day, and most people I know aren’t feeling all that jazzed and energetic at the end of their day, they just want to collapse into bed and somehow hope the alarm doesn’t go off in the morning. That means bedtime is a no-fly zone for creativity (unless your creativity involves sexy pantsless time, at which point I think/hope your schedule looks different).

The uncircled items/times are when you can exert some control over your schedule. It’s worth remembering – you are in charge of your life, so you get to figure out when you’re doing things like getting out of bed and eating dinner and what/who you’re doing in your non-work hours.

It’s in those hours that I want to break it down even further.

Why do you get up at the time you do? Sure, you might mash snooze on the clock three, four or seven times before you have to rush around, but what if you made an effort to get up earlier? You can “reclaim” some time for yourself. Think about it – the house will be quiet, you don’t have to rush anywhere or fight for the bathroom or try and get other people organized, you can just be awake and get things done. And when I say things, I mean being creative. You could get up half an hour earlier and use those 30 minutes to make coffee, shower and get dressed so that when you normally are doing those things, you’ve got this new set of 30 minutes in which to work. It’s like magic how you just created this new chunk of time. Does it have to be 30 minutes? No! It could be an hour. It’s up to you. The point is, you could get up earlier, even once a week, and do something creative.

What are you doing on your lunch break? Contemplating how you’re going to burn down the office if they take your stapler one more time? Thinking about how you wish you were anywhere but where you are? Try desperately to get that person from some other department to notice you so that you could in theory ask them out on a date? Your lunch break is YOUR time, you’re off the clock and therefore free. You could leave or go sit under a tree or go home or do anything you want, because in that block of time, you’re the boss. Sure, there’s eating to do, but seriously, how long does it take you to eat those carrot sticks and chug that diet Coke? (Fun exercise: Time yourself eating. Not like it’s a race, but just notice how long it takes you to comfortably consume your meal. If you’re in an office with a cafeteria, include the amount of time spent purchasing the food too).

There are undoubtedly free minutes that you spend staring out the window, leafing through a magazine about the Kardashians (no, nobody knows what they do) or writing and deleting that text message to the person in the other department who you want to ask out on that date. Seize those minutes! Carpe minuten! Even if it’s just ten minutes, that’s enough to write some notes, or put together a list of characters isn’t it? You are in charge of your time!

Do you have to watch that TV show when you get home? I get it, you unwind when you get home from work. It’s so frying to your brain that you plunk yourself down on the couch and watch something so utterly devoid of genius, talent or laughter that you sort of glaze over and then snap back to reality after 22 minutes of absolute garbage making its way into the creative parts of your brain. Or maybe you’re so stressed from that high pressure job you need to deflate your entire thinking process down to level of paramecium?

Now before you get all finger-pointy at me, yes I watch TV. But House is ending in 4 weeks, and I can watch Castle the next day (thanks DVR!) and…my schedule isn’t your schedule, and this is about you not me.

I’m not saying you’re “not allowed” to unwind after work. Smoke a joint, have a drink, eat some nachos, play with the dog, marvel at what your kids drew today in school. Do whatever you want to do to unwind. Just do me a favor — stop thinking that being creative is going to feel the same way your job does. Being creative is not work. It’s fun. It’s relaxing. It will help you. Stop treating it like an impediment to your happiness, and start seeing that it could be a bridge to your happiness.

That hour you spend watching that bankrupt and vacant alleged-entertainment? Carpe minuten! That’s a whole sixty minutes you could write a page of dialogue, craft a poem, sculpt or figure out which dice engine you should use to create your new game. In doing that, you’re being active, not passive in using your time and saving your brain cells (and creating new pathways for new thoughts, thus staving off dementia, Alzheimer’s and decay).

But the magic trick to this is making that commitment to being creative. Yes, it’s going to be tough at first. If you’re getting up early, you’re not going to like doing it. That bed is going to look way inviting, more so if you have company in it and there’s a good chance you might get to fool around. It might be easier to come home from work and drop down on the couch and just sit, it might be the first stillness you’ve had in twelve hours, but you’re never actually still. You just checked out from focusing on things, because you’ve spent the last six-plus hours focused on other people’s things (and not in a fun way). It’s time to check-in on your own stuff. That’s right, this is a commitment to yourself – you have to do what matters to you, because no one else will.

I know this guy, let’s call him Ken (because that’s his name). Ken is awesome. Ken made a commitment to getting into better shape, and according to his Facebook posts, the dude is totally sticking to it. Now I don’t know if his health is the only reason he’s doing it (maybe there are some very fine ladies at the gym, or dudes, I don’t judge), but I’m so proud of him for sticking to a plan that he’s in charge of, a plan that improves his life and makes him happy. Good for Ken. Ken seized those minutes and now seizes new minutes to work on his writing. Go Ken.

Barring the appearance of attractive eye candy, I’m guessing there are days where Ken doesn’t want to go work out. And I’m guessing there are days where you’re not going to feel all that creative either. Maybe your boss yelled at you about ‘the Johnson account’ (do bosses actually yell about that stuff?) or you spent the whole day dreading coming home to your spouse/significant other because they were totally going to bitch you out for what you promised you do and you haven’t done it yet. Yeah, you’re going to have moments where you don’t want to deal with the commitments you made. You’re going to want to run and hide. Believe me, I’ve done so much running you’d think I was a Kenyan marathoner, but lately (past 2 months or so) I’ve stopped running because it occurred to me that I had no idea where I was running to, only that I knew what I was running from.

I didn’t want to deal with this person or that responsibility or take on that challenge or do that chore. I thought that those activities and peoples were drains on me, pulling me down and holding me back. And while I was partially right (some of those people and their shitty lives suck ass), what I was doing was choosing to hold myself back. Seriously – I wasn’t going to take ten minutes and do the dishes? I wasn’t going to call that family member and wish them a happy birthday? What’s that take, like 3 minutes?

Carpe minuten. Seize your minutes. You’re in charge of you, so you can make the choices. Not all the choices are easy. They’re not all fun. Sometimes you’re going to feel awkward or embarrassed or humbled or ashamed to deal with the consequences of those choices, but I swear, it’s worth it. Sure it sucks while you go through it, but once you’ve done it, you’re totally done. No more shitty people hovering in the periphery. No more annoying activities to stress over later. Just like Andy Dufresne, you crawled through the shit and now you’re clean on the other side.

Let’s recap:

Break your schedule down by the hour.
Block off the hours you CANNOT do anything about.
In the hours you have control over, make time to be creative.

Yes, you can say that it’s only an hour a day, but if you write around 2 pages a day, that’s about 100 pages in about 2 months, and don’t forget you have free time on weekends and holidays that I’m not factoring in here.

If your creative endeavor really matters to you, make time for it. Carpe minuten.

Happy writing.

Posted by johnadamus in living the dream, make time to create, seize the minutes, time management, 0 comments