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Category: Writing process

How I use Habitica

I used to be really bad at staying hydrated. So bad, in fact, that my elbows were rough and angry all the time because they were too dry. Now, as of this writing, I have consumed at least 60 oz of water for 270 days straight. Thanks, Habitica! I’ve mentioned Habitica before, but I wanted to devote an entire post to how I’ve used it since December 2018 to build positive habits and improve my…

Writing around a day job

I knew from a very early age that I would need a day job if I wanted to be a writer. I mean really early — I was five or six when I came to the practical realization that fiction might not be lucrative and I’d need to do something else to pay the bills. These days, I’m a little older and a little wiser, plus a lot busier. My day job is incredible, but…

Throwaway concepts

I’m a big proponent of throwaway concepts. They’re how I actually got to the publication stage for my first novel. They’re also how I decompress between Serious Novels™. I should define my terms! A throwaway concept: …is an idea you’ve invested a minimal amount of time in. …doesn’t (necessarily) tie into any of your existing worlds or series. ..is more likely to be fun and light than dark and serious (even if you’re writing horror).…

Everyone’s a songwriter

Going from a musical collective to a group of musicians who can put out a finished song takes some hard work and practice, as we here at Not Bad are learning every day. Turns out that songwriting – good songwriting, anyway – is challenging too. Just because it rhymes doesn’t mean it sounds good. Plus, just because it sounds good as a song, does not mean it will look good on paper. Personally, I find it…

Trusting your voice

One of my earliest fandom characters was Rufus Hemmingway the golden retriever, who I wrote to be an original creation set in John R. Erickson’s Hank the Cowdog universe. Here’s a little excerpt from “The Case of the Missing Beef Bone,” circa 2002: …my story begins on a breezy fall evening in November, right on the day humans call Thanksgiving. Leaves were fluttering down from the trees, signaling the change between summer and winter. My humans…

Learning from other writers

The first thing you learned from another writer, most likely passively, was by partaking in their unique way of telling stories. If you’re a writer today, you’ve spent your whole life until now learning from other writers. Writing is about shared meaning — through the spoken and unspoken agreements humans have about how the components of language work, as well as through the cultural movements that impact many aspects of a writer’s voice and life.…

Some ways to write faster

Everyone these days wants to write more words. Or they want to teach you how to write more words. Either way, it’s kind of an ebook craze right now. I’ve been reading a bunch of those “write faster” books lately – partly for research and partly because, well, I do actually want to produce more words – and I decided to put together a few of my favorite tips from what I’ve read. These are…

Invisible ink (a word sprint tip)

As a kid I thought invisible ink was awesome. The stuff of mystery books, to be sure, but still very cool and with its potential uses in real life. I never did get around to using physical invisible ink, but I’ve happened upon a rather funny way to utilize it in the digital space. On the theme of “trick thyself into creativity,” here’s a tip for maximizing the effectiveness* of your word sprints: If you can’t…

“I want an idea like that!”

When I’m perusing Half Price Books and spot a book with an amazing cover and jacket text to match, I often find myself muttering the title phrase of this post – half out of rage, and half out of sheer awe. How did I not think of this? Oh, right, because I’m not as brilliant as the author who conceived of it, actually wrote it, and then got it published. I say this despite having done this…

Dogfooding your art

For a while, when I was a wee overachiever, I was often called a perfectionist. It wasn’t true, though. I was (and am) just good at spotting things that could still be improved. A perfectionist can’t bear to put something out into the world until it’s perfect, and thankfully I’ve never really had that problem. (I’ve been posting my drafts online since 2001.) When I started working at Microsoft nearly five years ago (!!), I…