The Endless Wars: The Descent

The Endless Wars: The Descent itunes (coming soon) The Endless Wars: The Descent

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Writing Wednesday #2: Continuing the Story

The only thing harder than starting something new is finishing it. Whether it be playing a Japanese RPG, reading one of my books, bringing a woman to orgasm, or writing your own fiction, it can be tremendously hard to finish something you started.

Have no fear, though. I can at least help you with the writing bit. And I do know my way around a few JRPGs.

So, you've got a solid idea, you have some idea about the execution, you've gotten a bit of it hammered out, and now it's the next day. Or the next week. Maybe even a year later, and you kinda beat yourself up over letting that once-grand story just sit and fester. Sometimes you load it up, stare at it, maybe add a sentence or so, then shut it down in frustration.

That's totally normal. I honestly believe that this is the fate of most stories.

When I was initially writing the first Endless Wars book, I had more than a few moments like that. Sometimes, I was able to get past it by simply leaning back, sucking down a drink, and puffing down a smoke. It was a matter of just getting into the right head space.

That was sometimes. More often that not, though, that didn't put me into the right mental space.

I'm a firm believer in warming up. Whether it be athletics, programming, mathematics, sex, or writing, I need to get the engines revved first.

With writing, I like to go back to everything I wrote in the previous session, and start really editing it. By doing that, I find that my mind starts to re-shape itself into what it needs to be for that story. Every story has its own distinct personality, and it's important to get back in touch with that before banging out new ideas. Now, if you're writing on it every day, this may be less needed, but if you're coming back to something for the first time in a while, it's almost required, just so you know what the hell is going on in your story, if nothing else.

Even when I'm writing on something every day, I find that this helps me not only get my mind right, but it also allows me to take a more critical eye to the previous day's work, since I'm not totally into that space yet. You want as many different perspectives on your own work as possible, and since I generally don't share works in progress with others, this lets me act as my own on-the-fly editor, at least until I'm done.

If you're a persistent drunk, this is almost necessary, since a) you may or may not remember the actual events that transpired in your story the night before, and b) you may also have some rather egregious issues in your spelling and grammar.

Oh, and you know how some things seem like a great idea when you're drunk (climbing on your roof, knife-throwing contests, eating White Castle, sharing your true feelings with your boss via email, waking your wife up for drunk sex @ 6AM, etc.), but make you want to move to a remote part of the Yukon the next day? Well, the same applies to your book, so you may want to take a peek at how melodramatic and annoying you made your main character the night before.

Back to general editing, though, what I like most about this is that not only do I get pulled back into my book this way, but I get excited about banging out new material, so that when I'm done editing the last session, I hit the ground running, and I'm fired up about my new ideas.

Additionally, if I think about the current project while I'm in the shower, just after waking, I find that a lot of good ideas come to me then. Sometimes, I'll write them down, or I'll just salivate over them the rest of the day, and find myself chomping at the bit to get moving on the book again.

Another important key is building a process, especially if you're not the most practiced writer. Find a space in which you like to write, as well as the right music, and maybe even time of day. Sometimes there's a particular daily activity that, if you follow it immediately with writing, you churn out good work.

When I wrote the bulk of my book, I used to do it immediately after work, at around 3 or 4 in the afternoon (I would get up at the ass-crack of dawn to rip the guts out of chicken and then marinate them by the the hundreds all day), with music on and a movie on. I needed as much chaos as possible at that time. I would usually drink and chain-smoke, too. I would do that for about an hour or two each day. I cranked out the majority of my book doing that.

Now, if you start to really get somewhere as a writer, don't become a slave to your process. I know that this flies in the face of what most other writers will tell you, but they're cowardly pussies who like to make excuses for the lack of challenge they give themselves. Own your process and writing talent, and make them both work for you.

Additionally, when I was still in a band, most of my great song ideas would come to me while I was driving. It was a bit annoying, since guitar riffs are hard to preserve in your head for as long as I needed them to, sometimes. I think some of my best songs came from cruising the dirty city streets in my 1991 Pontiac Transport minivan back when I was a teenager. Make note of when your best ideas come to you, and what you're doing at those moments.

Nowadays, my biggest hurdle is just time. I'm actually trying to build a more consistent day-to-day schedule, so that I can get way too many things done. I'll admit that I don't crank on the fiction like I used to, but that's changing. The second Endless Wars book has a very solid beginning, and my G-doc project is still rattling in my brain, daring me to fail.

Really, time is a bitch, and is probably the greatest enemy of any unaccomplished writer. I know that I certainly don't have the time I'd like for my fiction, especially when I'm cranking out blogs like this, but it'll come. I know what I had to do to write that first book, I'm applying lessons learned from that to the second book, but I'm also learning what unique demands this book is making.

The bottom line, though, for any serious writer is the following: a page a day. Period. Even if it's crap. A page a day will get you to the point where your biggest worry is finding an agent and having a finished novel that you want to publish.

So, to recap:
- start out by editing the previous session's work; get yourself a running start into the new material; you will also see things that need to be addressed NOW, which is a bonus
- develop a process; discover the right location, music, habits, lighting, time of day, etc. that help you succeed as a writer
- A page a day. Seriously. A page a day. Do it. A page a day.

In Other News

- don't forget that Tony and I are returning to the mics these next two weekends, to record two new episodes of Untitled Podcast: Collector's Edition. We'll be rapping about Tokyo Game Show this weekend and doing a full-on Holiday Preview the following weekend. Have any games you just gotta hear about? Drop 'em here!

- Any current events you wanna hear about tomorrow? It'll be Thopical Thursday (a terrible attempt at a pun, I know, but just play along), so I'll be grabbing some poor, defenseless recent topic and beating the shit out of it. I'm thinking about addressing people's obsession with weird, unimportant shit like Kanye (the brand of a product) interrupting another brand's product placement award, to express dissatisfaction that a different ad hadn't been selected as 'the best' at selling products. I dunno. I sometimes feel like in a science fiction world where the advertisement has become more important than the actual product. Yes, this does sound like a great topic.

- I mentioned the Bodybugg on Monday, and I've now lost 4 pounds in the first 6 days. I don't expect that pace to continue, given the way weight loss works, but it is pleasing in the short term. I have a fuck-ton more weight to drop before I can make non-crazy people accept that a classy chick like my wife would actually copulate with me.

I believe that is all for now.

How is your writing going? Or any other creative project you may be taking on? Any advice you wanna contribute to those having trouble continuing to work on a creative project? Are you seeking any advice? Post it in the comments below!



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  2. As you know, I've been working on 3 total ideas, two of them I'm actively writing. I agree 100% that time is the biggest hurdle. 24 hours in the day is not enough to work, eat sleep, fuck, and write. I generally reserve my evenings (8-?)for writing. I agree on the boozing thing too. It becomes WAY too easy to convince yourself that the best headspace is when you're wasted. I suppose my main hurdle is not letting myself get distracted. I run into this problem nightly. I think it's a subconscious way being afraid to tackle what's in front of me (the book.) But I never want to force myself to write out of fear that the story will feel/seem strained. Any advice there? Should I force myself? Did/do you?