What do I write about?

I wrote this for the Creative Writers’ Press blog.

Creative Writers' Press

Lots of people have posted in the group,

“I want to be a writer, but I don’t know how to get started.

There’s been some great feedback in these threads, but it’s a fast-moving group. It doesn’t take long before the last post on the subject is too far down the page to easily find, and someone else asks,

“Hey, I’m new here and I’ve always wanted to write. How do I get started?”

The most obvious, and frequently commented answer is, of course,

“Write”.

While this may seem condescending, obvious, and not particularly helpful, it’s also true. As daunting as it always seems to put pen to paper for the first time before you even have an idea, it really is the best start. Free-writing, which is writing with no agenda (for those that didn’t read Overcoming Obstacles), is a great way to practice writing, get in touch…

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Opportunities for Growth

For those who read the previous blog entry, Unexpected Hope, yes I did bump into that lady again. I gave her another one of my business cards the very next day and I even saw and spoke to her again the day after that. She promises to email me. If you happen to be reading this, I’m still waiting 😉

In other news, the Creative Writers group is going extremely well. We had had a few fires to put out because too many people were joining that didn’t really belong there. I had wondered for a while how I might be able to make sure that everyone understands the ‘spirit of the group’ when I know that only a fraction of the members will ever read the group description or the pinned post, and join based on the name of the group alone.

I don’t remember now which of the other group administrators reminded me that you can set three questions for new members to answer. I’ve seen too many groups misuse this feature. They’ll ask a confusing question such as ‘Do you promise to follow the group rules?’, when the rules are only accessible after you’ve been accepted. I didn’t want to make this same mistake.

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I had posted a rant to the group after I had kicked out the trouble-makers to try and make sure we didn’t have similar trouble again:

“Creative Writers is a community of writers, wordsmiths and storytellers. We know the power of words. Some words can cause discomfort, and some writers are skilled at deploying these words for maximum effect.
If you plan to drop a verbal bomb in the group, please include a trigger warning out of respect for your fellow writers.

“If you happen to see a word or phrase that offends you, please remember we’re writers. We use words to illicit an emotional response. By all means, correct their grammar and punctuation, but demanding censorship goes against the spirit of the group.

“Having said that this is not the place to discuss religion or politics. You can submit any piece of writing for critique but bear in mind that we deal mainly in fiction and your opinion may be analysed as such.

“We are here to become better writers. To help each other, support one another and learn from each other. Competitiveness and attention seeking behaviours disrupt the spirit of the group and will not be tolerated.”

I boiled this rant down to the following three questions (I copied this from a membership request, so it also includes the answers I’m looking for):

  • Do you understand that this is a place for fiction, and not religion or politics?

    Yes 🙂

  • If you post anything that could be deemed offensive, are you willing to include a trigger warning?

    Yes.

  • Are you looking for a supportive group of fellow writers, willing to help others grow and develop your own craft?

    Yes!

As long as the member answers ‘Yes’ (or some synonym of it) for all three questions, they’re in. If they only answer one or two of the questions, or they reply ‘no’ (or some equivalent response), they are declined. People who still haven’t even answered the questions are declined after a six-hour window of opportunity.  Despite this hurdle, membership continues to increase at a rapid pace.

It seems like we’ve regained the ‘spirit of the group’ I had established when I took over. Finding a way to quit the day job and do this full-time isn’t so pressing anymore. We’re still creating a Kickstarter page, but the focus has been switched from payroll to our product. Which is only right. We’re asking for £3,000 to cover production and marketing of the Monolith Anthology.

 

Plant Cover with Biondi font
We’ve gone back to this cover

 

My original plan, after all, had been to produce Monolith for as cheaply as possible so that all the writers and other contributors can get a fair share of the profit. If I could do it without putting any money in, I would, but my team tell me that this is just as unrealistic as hoping to raise enough cash to pay each administrator $5,000 per month for 6 months! They make a good point.

With all the time effort and passion I’m putting into the Monolith project, including the Creative Writers group and Creative Writers’ Press, I worry that Laura, my girlfriend, is getting neglected. To that end, I’ve been asking her what she’s really like to do with her life. She said she’d like to travel more. At first, this answer made my heart sink when I realised that it would be a long time before I could afford to buy flights and hotels all over the world. Then I watched this video:

I often watch TED videos while I’m working on Monolith, to keep me motivated. This video helped me to realise that travelling the world doesn’t need to mean expensive hotels and flights to every destination. You can travel on a shoestring if you don’t mind roughing it a little, and I have a tribe of over 7,700 Creative Writers to ask for help.

We’ve already had members offer Laura and I a place to stay in Holland, Iceland, Pakistan, Canada, South Africa and several states in America. I don’t have a lot coming in from Patreon subscriptions, but it would be enough to keep my phone data active, and as long as I have power and internet access, I can write anywhere. If it gets too hard I know my family would welcome me back.

We’re not running off immediately (much as I’d like too) we’re currently aiming to start our adventure next year after Monolith has launched, which will hopefully provide an additional trickle of income. In the meantime, we’re going to save up and do our research so we can do this as safely as we can. It will still be risky, but it’ll be a great adventure, an amazing experience, and I’ll have some great stories to tell. I may even end up with my own TED talk!

 

 

 

 

 

Overcoming Obstacles

An article I wrote for Creative Writers’ Press.

Creative Writers' Press

All kinds of things can get in the way when you’re trying to write, and I’m going to mention a few. The biggest obstacle for most of us though is writer’s block. It doesn’t seem to matter how many of the other issues we resolve, writer’s block always seems to be lurking around the corner, ready to pounce, right as our fingers are hovering over the keyboard, or our pen is about to touch the page.

All of these issues have been mentioned at least once in the Creative Writers group at least once. The first one I’m going to tackle is self-doubt. It’s doozy, and one that often disguises itself as various excuses. After you push through “I don’t have the time”, “I have to be available for my kids (or some other person-in-need)”, or “I’m always so tired after work” (all of which I will also talk about)…

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‘Monolith’ Will Be Great!

I’ve been working on a new project. Or rather developing one and seeing where it goes. The Creative Writers’ Group on Facebook is about to hit 3000 members, and I’ve built a website to allow the group members to submit short-stories for the ‘Monolith’ anthology. It looks rather spiffy and includes a blog.

This is actually my second blog post where I enthuse about the success that ‘Monolith’ is going to be. I feel like I’m going to actually apply my Business and Management college education, plus all the self education in Marketing, Entrepeneurship and Small Business to a project I genuinely care passionately about, and I feel really good about it.

Creative Writers' Press

‘Monolith’ will be great, because we are going to make it great.

There are several things we can do to make it great. The first and most obvious is by including only the best of the stories that are submitted to us. This means of course that we’ll be expecting your best work, with well-polished plots and engaging storytelling. It’s entirely possible that we’ll have so many great stories that we might  be releasing a rather large book. If your worried that your story won’t be good enough, talk to us, your fellow Creative Writers, and allow us to help you make it great.

Write in whatever genre you’re most comfortable in. I want readers to be so blown away by every story in there that they go looking for more stories written by you. So don’t back. Show off. One of the most effective way to sell anything is…

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The Unexpected Depth of a Facebook Quiz

This article I wrote for Games and Geekery might have fit better here.

Games and Geekery

Despite being so busy with my other projects that I’ve not posted on Games and Geekery in a while, I still find myself distracted by the world’s greatest procrastination tool, Facebook. Don’t get me wrong, Facebook is also a great tool for networking, marketing and crowdsourcing ideas. Those quizzes though are usually a time-suck of the worst kind, offering no real substance except to massage your ego.

This one surprised me. “Who Are You In The Different Worlds?” gave me this result:

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I was about to just close the window and make myself go back to writing Hermes925 when I realised that these three characters may not just be arbitrary choices. All of them are tragic heroes. They’re all orphans, a long way from their own people, and they don’t really fit it in.

Tarzan lost his parents when he was still a baby, their plane crashing in the jungle, he alone…

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8 Things I Wish I Knew When I First Started Writing – Part 1

I need to keep this advice in mind, and stop beating myself up.

The Uncensored Writer

There comes a time in every writer’s career where you will look back and realize just how inexperienced you were when you first started. It gets so bad that you start contemplating how hard it would be to build a time machine. Well that day finally came for me.

There are many things I wish I had told myself when I first started. Don’t fuck up your novel to the point of no return would be high up on that list… But I guess there are more practical things I could say. So why not dedicate a post to it? Besides, I’m sure the advice would be useful to you newbies out there!

Let’s jump right in, shall we?

It’s Mentally Taxing

By the gods is writing an exhausting activity. Don’t get me wrong, writing is the best thing since sliced cheese, but by no means is it a walk…

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Making Steps in the Write Direction!

I have another Patron! I’m now up to $5 per month on Patreon.com! Woohoo! That’s about £4.08 closer to my goal!

I’m finding it a little frustrating how difficult it is to get going. I may have blogged about it a little before, but it’s still true. Despite being self-employed and able to work whenever I please, I still seem to find it particularly difficult to get writing on a Monday.  I’ve had plenty of sleep and I’m still so tired. I need to get on with it. Get the blog post finished and write more of my Project Ubi short story (which has to be completed and polished by the end of the month). I will make it up in the week as usual, but it leaves me feeling like I’m in catch-up mode all week.

I’m not sure what to even write here because everything I think of sounds like I’m whining, yet again, about not having enough income. I’m beginning to feel guilty about asking, but even guiltier for continuing to live with my Grandparents without being able to help with the bills. I know that they are feeling the financial pressure because they ask me very politely whether I’m looking for a job. My reflex reaction has become, “I have a job, I’m a Writer!”

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I’m considering doing it, taking a second job, part-time, to bring some money into the household. I already know that this will cut into my writing time. I need to keep up with Hermes925 and finish my Project Ubi story. Anything else I’m working on can wait, including the SciFan story, but I need be sure I still have the time for Hermes925 and Project Ubi.

I’d much rather write. I know from experience that I’m a terrible employee. I like to impress my boss by doing a good job, and I expect to rewarded for it by being trusted to continue doing a good job. If my numbers are going down I will take action, if I need help I’ll come get it. Give me the data, I’m clever. If you choose to sit me down and explain what the numbers mean and then break down an over-simplified strategy to improve those numbers, I’m going to be thinking ‘Shut up and let me go do it then!’ the whole time.

Need a salesperson you can just ignore? Perfect. I’m your guy. If you feel the need to constantly coach your employees, anything beyond “You did really well yesterday!” or “Can you bring your stats back up for me?” will be a waste of my productive time. You also have to be okay with me writing at my desk, or folding paper dragons, or fiddling with toys. My brain builds worlds in its spare time, sometimes I’m going to need to use focusing strategies, like preventing myself from getting bored, to be able to complete the simple tasks I’ve been assigned.

I’m going to try applying to places that interest me. If I don’t like the job, or the product, I know I won’t be able to keep working there with a smile on my face, knowing that I could be using the time I’m wasting working for someone else to write instead. I need money, but minimum wage isn’t enough to put up with being over-managed, underutilised and bored.

If you are a prospective employer, this is what you need to know. I will work my arse off for you if you let me do it my way. I understand that training will be necessary and that some rules are a legal requirement or a safety measure. I’m not going to do anything stupid, reckless or dangerous. I will make mistakes along the way, but I learn from those mistakes. Trust me to know how to maximise my productivity and that I will satisfy my own thirst for knowledge and advancement, and you will not regret it.

I should put that on my Indeed profile!

All I really want to do is write. It makes me happy, and my brain hum. I just want to be able to sustain myself without my Grandparent’s help, and preferably to give them something back. I know if I take a job, I won’t find one that will let me write, or allow me to self-manage. It will be a job like any other. I’ll hate it, and I’ll rebel in silly little ways, like letting my numbers drop because I can’t find it in myself to care.

It won’t be the end to the stories, even if the hours are longer than I wanted and I’m too tired to do anything else. I’ll just quit the job and go back to writing! The writing comes first. It is my life, my career, my chosen profession, and there’s not an overbearing and/or incompetent boss on the planet that can keep me from it for any amount of money.

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So, in summary, I either need to attract enough paid subscribers with my writing to make the issue of finding a second job unnecessary, or I need to find a company that sells something interesting (fun gadgets, gaming computers and games, tabletop games, comics, geeky or gothic fashion, spooky household decorations, vampires, aliens and robots) and will let me do my job (in sales, customer service, marketing, management, product demonstrations, voice acting, writing, role-playing or games-mastering) without having to listen to time-consuming and pointless interruptions.

Personally, I think the former is more likely. However, if you do think you have a job for a difficult but driven employee like me, here’s the link to my CV/Resume.

You can help by either becoming a patron on http://www.patreon.com/antonym_copeland or clicking on of the poorly designed images below (I put them together myself). Every paying subscriber gets personal emails including updates on all the projects I’ve worked on that week. The more you pay, though more additional perks and entitlements you earn.

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Thank you for reading, and have a great day! 🙂