Welcome

My drug of choice is writing––writing, art, reading, inspiration, books, creativity, process, craft, blogging, grammar, linguistics, and did I mention writing?

Thursday, January 26, 2023

2023 Update Schedule

While most of you just click the link I put on social media when you see that something I have written interests you, there actually IS an update schedule here that we try to kind of sort of sometimes keep to…maybe.

Note: In addition to everything below, which will set up the schedule I am trying to achieve, I am going through a number of transitions from a reorganization of childcare time to recovering fully from cancer and surgery. I'm doing the best I can, and sometimes that's coming up a little short.


I made a major change at the end of 2020. For my ongoing mental health and for my other long-term writing projects (fiction and some compilation e-books of our best articles). I am putting the days of seven posts a week and 70-hour weeks in the rear-view for good, and moving into a more quality > quantity phase of the blog. 

Yippee ki yay!

Writing About Writing consists primarily of one guy who takes care of a couple of kids, tries to keep up with some domestic stuff, is writing a novel, posts on another blog, posts a LOT on his Facebook wall, and sometimes does really wacky shit like try to play a D&D game with friends or get laid or something.

Okay, I'm not really having any trouble with that last one…

He's also a working writer, though, so he better stop making a bunch of excuses and make with the clackity clack. 

This is the schedule we will generally make an effort to keep. I say "make an effort," but I have to be honest about four things. 
  1. I have written posts from my bed with 102°-fever or from coffee shops out of state while on vacation or during hospital visits to people with cancer, so it is very likely that no matter what happens, you will still get more than a couple of posts a week, and I really really really do mean MAKE AN EFFORT.  I absolutely fell behind this update schedule last year when I was recovering from having cancer (the mental/emotional recovery took so much longer than the physical one), but I'm definitely starting to get back into the swing of things.
  2. I am absolutely balls at keeping on top of WHAT gets updated on WHICH days, and I am likely to start Tetris-ing the posts for the week if I SNEEZE too hard. 
  3. I am still working through the full effects of the global pandemic, including the massive, unrelenting, fully permeated burnout that comes from 18 months of 70-hour weeks.
  4. I have mostly recovered from stage two colon cancer and the resection surgery to remove a tumor. Although the recovery curve is sometimes shallower than I would like.

Thanks to my patrons, I have been able to quit part-time teaching, pet sitting*, and cut back on the amount of nannying I do as a side gig to focus more and more on writing. If you would like to help us write more and better updates, even a dollar a month helps me budget.

*I still have a couple of close, super-easy clients, so you might see me post about this stuff, but I don't run all over the Bay Area anymore.

Facebook Writing and Social Justice Bard

Most of my major writing ends up on this blog, but some of my more throwaway thoughts don't. If you particularly enjoyed our Social Justice Bard posts, I still have many bees in my bonnet.

I invite you to follow my Public Facebook Page (you can friend it if you send me a message, but it might be better if you follow it for a while first––unfiltered me is not everyone's cup of tea). I post somewhat more "political and partisan thoughts" there (rather than just social ISSUES) and also often post "proto-versions" of what later become full blog posts (if you're interested in seeing how those things develop). [There's also personal updates and nerdery there.]

I also have another blog called NOT Writing About Writing that I periodically update (once or more a week pre-covid, but now it's a couple of times a month in wild fits and starts), write personal updates, stuff about my woo-woo spiritual journeys, and post political thoughts that don't really tie into writing but that also aren't really short enough for Facebook.

Everything I ever write for any medium (and reruns of my best stuff) gets cross-posted to that Public Facebook Page, so join me there if you want to see everything I write.

Facebook Page Maintenance

Running my Facebook Page of over a 1.1 million followers as well as maintaining all the OTHER various social media (which is essential to the fact that I get to be a working writer) is basically a part-time job in and of itself. It just happens to be spread out so that the work happens in five-minute increments throughout the day, pretty much hourly, almost any time I'm not asleep. 

Mostly I've just done this AND my writing and not really acknowledged the ways in which the aggregate of all these five minutes here and there impact a weekly writing schedule. 

Prepare for More of the W.A.W Meta Plot

Just a quick note: if you've been around for a while (or have dug through a lot of the first-year articles), you may have noticed that we have sort of a running plot and bizarre cast of characters here at Writing About Writing. We're going to be getting back into these kinds of posts.

There is a shame spiral that I get into when I feel like I'm not updating enough, or significantly enough, and I feel like the meta plot posts are "too fluffy" and too fun. So I am more likely to try to push myself to post something significant. (Which is ironic because I'm then more likely to not make it and have to push back the post altogether.)

However my readers have CONSISTENTLY and UNSWERVINGLY said that they like these types of posts and that they make the experience of me writing an ongoing blog more cohesive instead of just being the occasional article they want to see. So I'm really really really going to try to shut off that part of my brain that is insisting that my meta plot posts are phoning it in, and post them more often.



THE UPDATE SCHEDULE

Monday

BEHIND THE SCENES (and an accountability post)

While I would love to get a blog up on every day that I'm clacking away in front of a computer, I also have a significant "behind the scenes" obligation to the folks who keep the lights on around here that takes time and energy. Ironically, if I give these kinds of rewards some dedicated time, I'm not only going to be better about doing them, but also about the blogging itself—they both have a way of distracting me from the other as I get overwhelmed and sit in front of my computer, unable to move in either direction because I feel like I'm letting down the other.

However, I consistently have parts of this job that don't involve dropping a forward-facing blog.
  • Once a month I cannibalize a day of blogging to write my Patrons a newsletter, and now that the pandemic is mostly winding out of the Shelter In Place phase, four times a year, I'm going to need to write TWO newsletters. 
  • I absolutely need to spend a day or two every month just doing admin stuff for Writing About Writing (like catching up on emails, cleaning up menus, and the like), or it gets SO far behind, SO quickly. As it is, I sort of imagine we're going to take a year to "dig out" of the stuff I just put up.
  • My Patreon tiers are perpetually in need of their rewards. Whether it's an early-access post or just a selfie from one of my hikes, I need to attend more consistently to the folks who are devoting their financial resources to my ability to be a working writer.
  • Also, I have a couple of other writing projects that require my time and attention.
  • From time to time when we are having a VERY busy week and need a second day to clear out the admin issues so that they don't back up, you might see the easier of the two admin posts go up on a Tuesday, but mostly I'll be working hard in the background.

You will usually see an accountability post on most Mondays. I'm going to restart posting progress on other projects, and I will let everyone know what I'm working on behind the scenes. But it will be more of a bullet point memo than a post.


Tuesday

OFF!

While technically no "off" day is truly off (even the weekends) as I take my own advice and write every day, having Tuesdays off from the responsibility of posting an official blog represents all the hours I work on other jobs. I have spent far too long beating myself up because they don't "count." Not only will taking time off to acknowledge these things be better for my mental health and "overworked" meter, but they will allow me to attend to both them and my writing without feeling like I'm neglecting the other and getting overwhelmed because I'm not spinning all the plates perfectly.

So after much garment rending and self-reflection, and some deep thoughts about how much I will take on if I let myself, I have decided to take a three days off free and clear. (Although, as I mentioned, I'm always writing—this is more about the obligation of getting a post up than whether or not I actually "write every day" like the advice I give.) 

Of course, I would give any human being on earth the same advice and would tell them they were being too hard on themselves if they didn't take it, so this is absolutely a case of thinking basic self care doesn't count for me. However, I have two work factors that impact my writing schedule:
  • Childcare side gig (7-10 hours a week)
  • Facebook Maintenance (10-12 hours a week)
I mean that should probably be two or three days off by the number of hours, but obviously, I'm not going to take THAT much time each week. I'll stick to one day (Tuesdays) and try not to feel too guilty about it.


Wednesday

We need (at least) one dedicated day a week to kind of take care of what I call "jazz hands," although it might be better described as "admin-ish stuff that HAS to get done at some point." It's not necessarily Total Fluff™, but it usually isn't exactly a new article either. 

The review of the best posts we did in the month prior takes up a post. Often we have some kind of announcement or meta news about what's going on or coming up. You might also see a single entry for the long-forgotten character lists or an update to one of the menus (along the top of the page).

Wednesdays will typically be the days that get cannibalized for Patron newsletters, fiction, or anything else that needs my priority attention.


Thursday
We have a number of "types" of posts that are just a little lighter fare. Everything from SHORT Mailbox questions to our aforementioned meta plot posts to personal updates. Not necessarily admin or "jazz hands" but probably a little less "chewy/crunchy" than Friday posts.


Friday

Fridays, for the most part, will be The Big Post™ of the week. If you're here for the hard-hitting writing advice (with the occasional examination of how language and narrative play into broader social issues), Friday is the day to tune in. Longer Mailboxes, full craft, process, and sometimes even style articles.

NWAW

I used to write posts for NOT Writing About Writing and either drop them on my usual days off or post on both WAW and NWAW on the same day. I'm no longer going to be doing this. If I drop something on NWAW, I'll put a notice up on WAW that that is the writing for the day. I sometimes put up NWAW posts on weekend days.

The Two-Post Commitment

Some weeks aren't going to go down like clockwork, and they might be front- or back-loaded with side gigs or other commitments. My writing career is also starting to open up occasional opportunities of interest like conventionsspeaking engagementsinterviews, or podcasts. On the advice of my doctor, I'm trying to be better about the (literally) health-shattering 60–70-hour weeks I was working, and I'm working to whittle that number down a lot closer to 40. That's a needle to thread when you are your own boss and you know that people will lower your income if they don't feel like they're getting enough of the content they want. I can't promise every week will go down as smoothly as three posts like end-of-the-week clockwork, but I will try really hard to get three posts up each week, and I can just about promise that I will at least do two. They might just be posted off schedule––landing on a Saturday or Sunday, for example—but barring illness, injury, or fabulously unforeseen circumstances (which I must now admit would absolutely include cancer and/or surgery), I will try hard to hit three and at least do two.

The Return of the Monthly Dedicated Novel Writing Time Increase

You may have noticed that any effort to take blogging time to give to my novel was COMPLETELY on pause during the early parts of the pandemic (and then went on pause again as I recovered from cancer/surgery). But now it is back. The hardest thing I've tried doing as a blogger is keeping my fiction at a high level of priority. It's SO easy to just write a blog, call it a day, and go put my feet up. And blogging is what I'm getting paid for, so it's even easier.

But...as much as I've surprised even myself by discovering how much I fucking love blogging, I do want to write fiction too. Finding time as much time for both is impossible, so I have to borrow from Peter to pay Cliché. While I am getting traction out of writing an hour or so of fiction first (so that then I still have to do the blogging in order to do "a day's work"), there may still be times where the needs of fiction completely take priority over blogging.

I'm firmly in the "Write Every Day" camp. But how much I write, what I write, and what I'm impassioned to write can sometimes still be a creative ebb and flow of being at my Muse's whim.

I'm also going to try something new and interesting. Each month I'm going to take an ADDITIONAL, cumulative day off to sequester myself and work on my book (as well as possibly other fiction). This isn't the only time I'll be working on my book, but I'll be diverting my blogging time towards it as well. I'll start with one day in September, and then two in October, and three in November and four in December. I'll reevaluate how things feel to my patrons at four extra days off each month—at that point I would either be updating only twice a week (if I spread the days out) or taking a full week off every month (if I took them all at once). It might depend on how close I am to finishing or a draft or something.

Hopefully, I'll have something to show for these days off by the time Patrons might begin complaining that I'm not updating enough, but I hope that the transparency and gradualness both help in that regard.

Vacations

I've learned that I need some regular time off to keep my energy levels and output high when I AM working. Expect me to take a few days to a week off every quarter (three months) or so. Trust me, you might get a few less posts, but it'll keep the ones that go up much fresher.

Yule

You know that two weeks that starts a few days before Christmas and kind of goes until the third or the fourth of January? Yeah, I don't work that. It's busy enough. I can barely figure out what day it is most of the time. I'm rubbish. Don't ask me to get posts up. 

Election Week

I'm adding something that I basically realized today (I first wrote this on 3/5/2020). I'm going to take a break in our "regularly scheduled program" during election weeks. Midterms, primaries, obviously the presidential ones. I just need to acknowledge that the writing that happens will be on other blogs (like NWAW) and in other places (like my Facebook page) and that unless I am backing someone polling at 90 points, it's very, very, VERY likely I'm going to have at LEAST one day where I need to go back to bed into a pillow fort with ice cream.

More posts?

There MIGHT occasionally be a fourth or even fifth (?) post in a week. Usually this will happen when I need to cover some ground on "blog business." (Like when I revise an old article so much that it deserves a fresh post, update a menu, write a new answer for our F.A.Q., or otherwise do something that needs to get done, but doesn't fit into our usual posting schedule). In this case, you might see an extra post pop up from time to time on the weekend or two in one day. Fiction will also usually go up independently of our regular schedule. It's less likely to happen these days, while I'm really struggling to get back to the old posting frequency, but it used to happen a lot.

Reminders:
  • I'm writing this blog in real time, so there will be problems with updates in real time. I still watch kids for seven to twelve hours a week. Plus my host body occasionally succumbs to these pesky Earth illnesses and requires dental and medical maintenance to serve me well. And every once in a couple of blue moons I even just take a damn day off with no preplanning. So those three posts might not always happen like clockwork or may involve going off the rails of my usual updates. Until my Patreon pays ALL the bills, my reality is that I sometimes have to prioritize paid gigs.
  • I maintain a Facebook page for this blog that has over a million followers. From time to time a post I put up may intersect with a social issue, or just tick some people off, and then all the dillholes come out to play, and I have to spend a day basically babysitting the comments. I don't love it, but it has to be done or the bigots will chase off the people who I actually WANT to be there.
  • This flexible update schedule should also cut down on the thing where I'm apologizing to absolutely fucking nobody that it's Thursday and I've yet to put so much as a taco video up. (MMMMM tacos.) I know that some people are annoyed by how often I apologize, and the rest don't really care. But this also settles my own inner overachiever. As long as I get in all the entries that week, my readers (who have literally never said anything in six years about my update schedule) and myself can give me a break.
  • I invoke the Anything Can Happen™ real world excuse. In ordinary times, I usually have a couple of "emergency blogs" tucked away, but after surgery, I chewed through them as fast as I could tuck them away. So any bump in the road hits the blog update schedule in real time. Health complications might crop up suddenly and have me needing to do a sudden, unexpected several-hour shift or even an overnight...or maybe even more. Trust me, I'm going to feel ten times worse about missing a post than all of my readers combined. 
  • Admin Long-weekends at least once a month will still be a thing, but instead of "we might have an admin long weekend this month," I'm going to assume we WILL have them, and maybe we might have a POST. Since I'm not working Tuesdays and this would normally fall under the purview of a Monday "Behind the Scenes" post, I will take the first Wednesday of each month off. 




Also......folks, if you like what I do, support your "local" artist. (In this case "local" means more independent, amateur, and two-bit than literally down the street.) The pandemic is not yet over, there's still a long phase of transition to work through, and I'm not in a financial position to completely give up my childcare side gig or pay someone to take over the admin of my Facebook page (both major time sinks that pull from my writing hours, but cannot be avoided without losing income that I don't yet have to spare). 

If you want to help me focus on writing (without all the side gigs), yeet a few dollars into that "tip jar" at the top left, or even better yet sign up to be a monthly patron through Patreon. (You'll also get in on the back-channel discussions about posting schedules, big changes, and upcoming projects.) I have bills to pay like any other starving artist, and though my schedule is a lot better than it was three years ago, even three dollars a month (just $36 a year) will go a long way.

Note: Hi there, Mr. Elephant. I guess we should address you.

So....yeah. I ABSOLUTELY KNOW that there is a pretty loud contingent of "Who Cares!" from the other side of the Internet, and I'll give you all a nod if this isn't your cup of tea. It's cool. You do you. Posts such as this one are not my least popular kinds of posts (that honor is reserved for meta posts about why there's no regular post…for some reason), but on the other hand, not every post can't be the barnburners of me replying to social justice hate mail.  

However, I'm not going to stop posting my update schedule…every single time I adjust it.

One of our mission statements is to keep "The Process" transparent and give you updates in real time, so there will always be an occasional hat tip to the meta. I want people to understand that writers struggle with their own productivity, schedules, and discipline. We are constantly dissatisfied with how much we're writing (or not) and trying to redefine ourselves, fiddle with the knobs, and find that perfect air/fuel mixture of writing vs. all the other parts of our lives. I want folks to see that someone who is making a paycheck doesn't have all the answers. I want them to see how their work/life balance matters, and how easy it is to fall into working TOO much or not enough, and either one causes problems. I want them to see that a successful blog doesn't require nine updates a week (and, in fact, that's too many). And I want them to see how artists are constantly struggling to get it just right because we are at once human with our ambition and drive, but also human with our INCESSANT need to eat and have shelter. We don't just eat rainbows and shit brilliant prose. Even if a follower or fan never uses my own update schedule or productivity demands on myself as a formula for their own success, let it be a comfort realizing how flawed and human working writers can be.

I want you to see how messy and non-magical it all is.

Monday, January 9, 2023

Follow Writing About Writing



Interested in following Writing About Writing? Or Chris Brecheen as a writer?

If you're trying to follow Writing About Writing (or if you are trying to follow ME as a writer), it might actually be confusing to navigate all the different ways I am online and what goes where.

Writing About Writing is on several social media, but each medium is updated a little bit differently. Some get every post I make, no matter how major or minor. Some media are privy to a cycle of "reruns" where most days I cycle through the popular posts of the past so that new folks can see old posts they may have missed (and old fans can be reminded of treasured classics).

Some social media have different signal-to-noise. Some I update in other capacities. Some are fire and forget. In some, I post my writing that is not "about writing," like the blog NOT Writing About Writing. Other places, more strictly ABOUT writing, pretty much keep it to this blog and it's updates along with macros, puns, and "You should be writing" memes.

Here are a few questions I get a lot:

What should you follow if you want to see everything I write? 

You want My Public Facebook Page. Follow it (or friend it if you check out the guidelines below). Though be warned that it can sometimes be like drinking from a fire hose. I will post everything I write, including reruns, but I ALSO post navel gazing, proto-posts, Jack-Handy-caliber deep thoughts, amateur political punditry, social justice thoughts, macros, silliness, and geekery. 


What should you follow if you basically want all the official posts I write, but not a bunch of crap about politics, video games, my day, or social justice?

You want My Twitter. Every post from every blog plus the reruns. I never post anything there that is not a Writing About Writing or Not Writing About Writing link. 

Beware though: I cross post everything I write to Twitter, but I don't post anything else. So it is perfect noise-to-signal if you only want to see my finalized writing, but not if you're looking for memes or something.

What should you follow if you basically want the Writing About Writing blog, but almost nothing else. 

You want the Writing About Writing Group. TWO posts most days (one new and one rerun). There is one meme (but only one) that is the prior day's best from the page. I almost never post from my other writing, and I almost never post more than one meme.

What should you follow if you basically want memes, puns, articles, and "you should be writing" reminders and don't really care about reading my blog?

Okay, that's cool. No no. It's fine. Really. While I put some aloe on this burn, you want the Writing About Writing page. Lots of memes, macros, puns, and comics and it's easy to scroll past the occasional post from my blog.

What should I do if I want all of these things? All of it! Give me more!!

Follow the Writing About Writing Facebook PageThe Writing About Writing Facebook Group, and my Public Facebook Page. Then go to the following button on the page and set your preferences to "See First." I will warn you that you may see some repeat posts, but this if you want to miss the fewest things I post, this is the way.

All nearby Mandalorians in unison:
"This is the way"


The "Join this site" button on the left, toward the bottom of this (and every) page. 

Following Writing About Writing through Google's Blogger allows you to assemble a collection of blogs you follow. Most people following the blog this way have their own blog through Blogger, but it's not necessary. (You only actually need a Google account, which many people have through Gmail.) You will be notified when I write a new post.

Pros- Shows all updates (minor and major). Updates in a timely manner.

Cons- No reruns. No posts from any other venues. Blogger usually takes a few hours to get the latest post up.


R.S.S. Feed 

Note: Google has recently discontinued FEEDBURNER, but if you still want an RSS and/or email feed, here is a page of alternatives

If you have an RSS reader, you may like to simply be updated by having your RSS feed updated with the text of my latest post. If you click on the Feedburner button AT THE BOTTOM of the page, you can subscribe to Writing About Writing through a number of RSS readers including FeedDemon, Netvibes, My Yahoo, Shrook, NewsFire, RSSOwl and more. 

One of many Feedburner alternatives at the link above.


Pros- Shows all new updates (major and minor). Updates instantly.

Cons- RSS feed does not include reruns (even the Greatest Hits I like to cycle through). No posts from other venues. Many RSS readers are JUST text, so you won't see the images that are part of the posts. Also, if you get a little behind on your feed, catching up feels Sisyphean and knowing the next update is coming feels like the sword of Damocles. (Gotta get my Greek metaphors on.)


Email Notification 

….has been disabled by Blogger.

I'm really sorry. I will keep my eye on a replacement. When I'm making enough to pay all the bills with writing, one of the first orders of business is going to be hiring a web designer to completely overhaul the site and have all the cool things that I can't figure out how to do.

(That heading is the link to my twitter--just click on it) 

I know Twitter is a mess with the Elon Musk thing, and it's turning into everything I hate about people who think they're free speech advocates (but who are really just bigots who don't like social consequences) getting their hands on the gatekeeping power of controlling a medium. However, I am currently not making enough to take the 15% traffic hit that not posting to Twitter would cost me.

Pros- Gets all written posts by Chris (reruns, new, other blogs, everything).

Cons- Gets only a little of anything else.


(That heading is a link)

W.A.W.'s Facebook page is its whole own thing.

In order to build an audience on Facebook, I spend a lot of time posting memes, macros, "you should be writing" reminders, inspirational messages, videos, and whatever thing about writing I find interesting and want to share.

This may seem counterintuitive, but I actually try NOT TO POST TOO MUCH FROM MY BLOG. The audience I've spent years carefully cultivating will not stick around if things get spammy. Most of the FB audience is there for the shenanigans, not the blog cross-posting.

You can increase your chances of seeing posts by setting the page to "see first," but you'll never see everything……because Zucc. FB does something horrible frequently enough that if I could som

Click "See first" to see more. 
But because FB wants page admins paying money
nothing you do will ever get you everything I post.
(You have to visit the page periodically and go through our history for that.)


Pros- Lots of other fun stuff going on. 

Cons- Lots of other stuff going on which. Also the FB algorithm prevents page followers from seeing every post so some W.A.W. posts will get lost. Not a good place to get all the blog updates if you want them. Enjoying anything on FB requires a shower with steel wool and industrial cleanser. Facebook is the Antichrist.


(The heading is a link)

I joined Tumblr after Facebook's latest round of content throttling. Then Tumblr started doing it too and THEN they axed LGBTQIA+ content because of overkill compliance with Fosta/Sesta. These days I'll post all my blog stuff (reruns too) including from the non-writing blog, and a few of my well received memes very similar to my FB group except more memes and I sometimes I share other Tumblrs or something a little social justice-y. 

Pros- Blog posts from all locations. Best meme of the day. 

Cons- Somewhat limited presence on Tumblr. And I share other Tumblr posts about social issues from time to time.


(The heading is a link)

Different from the FB page, the Facebook GROUP will only have the blog posts (usually two a day) and a single macro/meme/infographic that is kind of like "The prior day's best."

Pros- Mostly just blog cross posts. (Reruns and current.) Once-a-day "best of" macro/meme.

Cons- Nothing else.

(The heading is a link) 

My Public FB profile is a melange of personal updates, posts about politics and social issues, geekery, things I find about non-monogamy, introversion, and pop culture. But it will also include some "behind-the-scene" thoughts about writing, running a page, and the creative process. (And sometimes complaining about some of the people I run into on the page itself.) If you wish there were more "Social Justice Bard" posts, this is a place where you can read the proto-versions of some of them as well as the ones that never make it to the blog.

You might want to follow for a while and decide IF you want to send me a friend request. I'm definitely not everyone's cup of tea with the geekery and the social justice stuff. 99.9% of my posts are public, so you really wouldn't be missing anything except the ability to comment.

If you don't care for my (very) occasional social issues post on other social media, you will like my profile even less. I write about that stuff almost daily. I can be a bit much for people. I post a lot. 

I have a Commenting Policy for this profile. You should read it before charging in. ESPECIALLY before charging into a contentious post. 

If you do want to "FRIEND" me, send me a PM with your request. (Don't worry, I check my "Message Requests" inbox at least once a day.) That account gets around 100-200 friend requests a week. I reject most of them because I don't know if they're there to try and rent my page or just pick a fight in the comments. So send me a message along with the request.

Pros- See more of "me." Get "behind the scene" updates. See "alpha" versions of posts and thoughts that never quite make it.

Cons- I post a LOT. I am not shy about my liberalism/leftism. 

(The heading is a link)

Yes, I even have an Instagram. It gets a couple of memes each day and a very occasional link to my blog on some super relevant picture, as well as the the occasional selfie (although self-promotion demands that I point out my Patreon selfie tier is still the best way to get those and nature pictures I take with my snazzy camera). 

(The heading is a link)

Though Patreon is less of a social medium, my patrons do get pictures and content through various tiers that are not available to anyone else. Newsletters, early access to posts, and the occasional post about what's going on that my regular readers aren't privy to. 

Others? 

I would love if something better existed than these few (oft problematic) sites. Anything. Right now, though, I am fettered. For all Twitter's muskiness and Facebook's throttling and trying to squeeze blood from my stones (and even restricting my account for no reason and not telling me why), these sites are what have made it possible for me to be a working writer.

Thursday, December 29, 2022

"About Writing" is Coming Soon

Just a reminder that during the ten days between Solstice and New Years, I take off from blogging here at Writing About Writing. However, I have also been writing about my recent woo experiences over the last couple of years at my other blog…which you can find here.  

Thursday, December 8, 2022

Nine Things For Writers to Let Go Of

I don't write much about my woo-woo practice here. I write a little in my other blog from time to time (and there may be more coming), but it tends to be something I am circumspect about around most folks. Usually my reaction when I talk about anything like being genderqueer, pansexual, non-monogamous or pagan—when folks demand to know "what does THIS have to do with writing,"—is probably the opposite of what they intended. It makes me want to write about that stuff MORE. But my practice is mostly personal and I don't like to proselytize.  

However, last night was the "long moon." (Also sometimes "cold moon" or "oak moon.") It's the last full moon before the solstice. That's an astronomic term, not just for us new age folks who like to wank off with our moon water. And whether you consider lunar cycles to have any particular spiritual significance or would just prefer to consider a social psychological practice, the long moon is a time where a lot of people ritualistically let go of the fetters and thoughts that no longer serve them.

For me, it's a tricky practice. I don't just let go of every terrible event or relationship or moment that's ever happened to me. Some of those experiences have galvanized me, and sometimes the worst things I go through end up leaving this indelible goodness in places and ways I could never have expected. And as I tried to carefully edit my list, I started to realize how well some of the ideas I wanted to let go of mapped onto my own career and creative life.

So I came up with a list for writers.


[Before we go ANY further, I want to take a moment to talk about the gaslighting effect of toxic positivity. Letting go of that which no longer serves us is NOT THE SAME THING!

We're not going to always look on the bright side. There's no benefit to feeling guilt over negative emotions. Just because "it could be worse" does not mean it isn't bad, or a person should never feel bad feelings. Not everything will work out, and the universe is cold and uncaring—not your secret conspiratorial pal. (The tendency for everything to work out is more accurately described as privilege.) Not everyone gets a happy ending. And on top of the ways in which negative emotions are ignored and shamed, toxic positivity can fountainhead a whole movement that tries to whitewash systemic and systematic injustice with "love and light" and call any attempt to accurately recognize such injustice as "negativity." 

For some folks, some of the items on this list cannot be simply willed out of existence no matter how intense one's spiritual practice. Some will require years of therapy. Some need meds. Some of the items on this list (in some cases all) will be made worse by mental illnesses, and just wishing them gone on a particular full moon night won't fix the problem. Some may be chronic in the lives of a number of writers, and they will spend a lifetime working around them. I make no value or moral judgements about anyone's ABILITY to let these go. But if they can be released, a writer will be better for it.]

1- Perfectionism

Spoiler alert. It'll never be perfect. You have to find the sweet spot of "as good as you can get it for what you're trying to do" and then let it go. If you're trying to write a literary masterpiece, maybe you put in a few more drafts than if you are punching out the 15th popcorn novel in a series so that your fans will buy it up and keep your rent paid for the next six months. But whatever you're trying to accomplish, at some point, it's reached its glass ceiling of limited returns. And that's when it's time for you to do what all artists should do, and move on.

Perfectionism just leads to anxiety, procrastination, and a fear of failure that will stymie ANY progress.

Make it as good as you can (for what it is). Done is better than perfect. 

2- Comparative Benchmarks of Success

There will always be someone with a more widely read blog or better selling novel or who is just a little further along in their career. To say nothing of the Stephen Kings and Neil Gaimans and Colleen Hoovers who eclipse us all with their phenomenal success. This has never been clearer to me than having entire MFA cohorts gawking at my relative success while I try to justify the expense of eating at Panera for the second time in a week. I bet Stephen King gets Panera as often as he….okay, maybe best to let this go.

We are absolutely SOAKING in a commercial culture that wants us to compare ourselves to each other. (Often so we'll buy a product that'll make us feel better about that comparison—see below.) But these comparisons lead to feelings of envy, depression, and are inextricable from a certain virulent sense of entitlement about what we are due. Better to focus on the work and how to continue forth with the best possible effort day after day.

3- Rampant Materialism

Look, there's a whole movement that tries to shame poor people for going to the emergency room or for eating anything but beans and rice. Fuck that. FUCK IT. We all require safety, which includes food security, shelter, medical care, and not worrying about the clicking noise that the only car available we have to get to the job two towns over has started making. There are an awful lot of people who have nothing to cut out of a budget and who have to do what they can to make ends meet. Believe me. I walk a neighbor's dog for a few bucks anytime I want Panera. 

But there is a level of materialism that a writer could do without. This is not a well-paying career until/unless one is well established with a LOT of work in the rearview. Everything from being secure on a tighter budget to not having to work long hours at some job that takes you away from writing will be served by not letting a never-sated lifestyle obsession dictate the unending quest for more and better stuff.

4- Limiting Beliefs/Negative Self-Talk

You can't do ANYTHING you set your mind to, no matter what the cishet white male motivational speaker with the six-figure salary says you can. And acknowledging systemic and systematic injustices and inequalities in a world rampant with both is not somehow what's holding folks back. No matter how clear the thought, or how many candles are lit, no one can manifest themselves out of real-world limitations. 

But there is a needle to thread, especially for a writer. If you give oxygen to your catastrophic intrusive thoughts, you create a reality in which these objectives are just as impossible as you believe them to be. If you keep thinking that you can't write that book or no one will ever want to read you, you are very likely to talk yourself out of even trying. Then you definitely won't get it done. 

Sometimes there's a fine line between blithely spewing rainbows up people's butts and a simple belief that you can accomplish something worthwhile if you keep trying. (Maybe not exactly what you wanted, but something.) Not every positive thought has the ability to alter your reality…but ironically, most negative ones actually do.

5- Concern for the Opinions of Others

Please understand that I'm not telling you to go publish your unedited NaNoWriMo novel because other people's opinions are useless. I'm not telling you that you don't need an editor or peer feedback or to listen to anyone. You have to be willing to listen to some people.

But it's up to you who.

If you sit around and worry about the opinions of everyone, you'll never get it done. It's just too damned scary. MOST people won't like what you do. People won't like your style. They won't like your content. They won't like your politics. They won't like your philosophy. They won't like your adherence to a style guide that puts in the comma when they wouldn't have. They won't like your adherence to a style guide that leaves out the comma that they would have put in. They won't like that you said "fuck." They won't like your joke about cishet white dudes. They won't like that you eat at Panera. There are eight billion people in the world, and even if you somehow manage to reproduce the outrageous, phenomenal, unthinkable success of She Who Shall Not be Named and sell 500 million copies (which is far from being LIKED by everyone who buys a copy, BTW), you still will have 15/16ths of the world basically unimpressed by you. MOST people aren't going to like you. And if you sit around caring about all of them, not only will your simple act of expressing YOURSELF suffer, but you'll never find the people who will think you're great.

6- Your Past Failed Goals

You either hit them or you didn't. 

Kudos if you did—or got close. 

If not, don't dwell on it. Get up. Dust yourself off. Set new goals—perhaps slightly easier ones. This is a new day/week/month/year. 

I wanted to be published by 30…then 40…now I'm thinking 50 might be a stretch. 

But if I let my failure at 30 define me, I'd never have a writing career. Hell, if I let my failure to write two articles a week during my cancer recovery define me, I'd be sunk. 

If you aren't failing at goals from time to time, your goals are too easy. Set new ones. 

7- Saying Yes to Everything

Protect your writing time. 

Protect your writing time.

Protect your writing time.

I can't tell you what your priorities in life are. Family? MMORPGs? Sex parties? Dating? Eating at Panera? Off-road mountain biking? But if you say yes to EVERYTHING, there's nothing left for writing. It's really that simple.

8- The Excuses

We've all got them, and most of them suck.

You'd be harder pressed to find someone who DOESN'T think they have a book in them…along with a list of excuses as long ass their arm for why they haven't written it. 

If you don't want to write, don't write. That's okay. No really, that's really, really, REALLY okay.

If you do want to write, you have to let go of the excuses.

[Insert a Panera joke here.]

9- Hubris

Negative self talk is one thing. Thinking you don't need an editor or that your first draft is ready after a quick edit is another. Get rid of both.

If you want to be a writer, you have to let go of the idea that you are a gift to the written word. You need an editor (maybe two). You need to revise. You need to trust the process and rewrite rather than just polish your first draft. You need to get messy.

If you just want to self-publish, admire your own book on your own bookshelf, and never even sell enough to buy lunch at Panera, don't let me get in your way. But if you want more than your pressured-into-it friends buying your novel, you need to release your ego.

Friday, December 2, 2022

What CAN You Do (Prompt)

Are you having trouble writing…or maybe writing the way you once used to?

Today's process prompt has two points of inspiration. The first is based on the cry I have heard from so so SO many writers that the pandemic is destroying their productivity. Even when it's not "The Pandemic™," it's the pandemic. If it isn't social distancing and risk assessment literally and directly affecting their ability to concentrate or enjoy writing, maybe that is making everything just a little bit worse. Life continues to be life-like—pandemic or no—with its break ups, deaths, massive upheavals, moves, and general lifey bumps, but toss in a pandemic and you have fewer support mechanisms, fewer mental resources, fewer enjoyed activities, and just fewer emotional reserves, and more baseline anxiety. I've seen more people unable to establish or reestablish a daily writing habit in the last couple of years than ever before. It's entirely possible that most of us could keep writing through most of these trials and clichés on our own. It's just that when the life is already being sucked out of you, there's an aggregate effect.

The second is a more personal font of inspiration. Recovering from cancer has been a slow process and I'm often not quite where I think I am in that process. I'm definitely doing better, but I can't seem to reach even my own modest goals most of the time. If I want to do three articles in a week, maybe I do one or two. I look at the calendar and think there's plenty of time to write a big article and then one of the kids gets sick.

Of course, I sing the praises of morning writing (and later a floating half hour of writing) if you're trying to jump start your creative flow, but sometimes even that seems impossible. Sometimes even thirty minutes here or there might be daunting or just getting up and getting out o, and then you need to take a step back even further.

Do not despair if you failed NaNo. Or if you can't seem to focus for long enough to get anything written. Or if you've tried to restart an hour of writing every day for the last month. You just need to break down your goals even further.

There's this idea of tiny goals—if you're not familiar with it, it's pretty easy to understand. Instead of setting goals that feel too big and are overwhelming, you set a much smaller goal. Even a reasonable goal might feel daunting so you set an EVEN SMALLER goal. Instead of meditating for twenty minutes a day, you sit in your meditation spot for thirty seconds a day (and see if you want to do a little more). Instead of doing a five mile run, you put on your running clothes and go stand on the street for two minutes.

So instead of thinking of a reasonable writing goal, think of one that is entirely too easy. Something that feels trivial—silly to even mention. Instead of writing for thirty minutes, just write ONE SENTENCE. Or if you're feeling totally baller, do a paragraph. But the point is that you don't do something you think you SHOULD be able to accomplish. You do something that is absolutely too easy for you. 

Set a goal that you can't possibly fail at. 

Sit down. Knock out your one sentence. (Or one paragraph. Or five minutes. Or whatever.) 

Of course, once you're there and you've done a sentence, you might want to just do one more, but you don't have to. You're done. And you have one sentence more than you had before. And maybe the next day, you make it two sentences because one was so darned easy. 

Sometimes a full goal is daunting. Sometimes we just need to get ourselves into position and inertia will start to carry us forward. Sometimes we need to put one in the wins column and take a victory lap instead of feeling like a failure. Don't be afraid to set the smallest of goals, knock them out, and then see where you are. 

Monday, November 28, 2022

Where Would I Take a Guest (Non-Writing Mailbox)

15- If you had a friend come to town who’d never been here before, where would you take them that wasn’t necessarily a big tourist spot? Or maybe you would take them to a tourist thing. Who knows :) 

[Couple of notes: 

1- Non writing questions are going into a full 20 Questions post when I'm done with all of them, but there are way too many to not break them up into separate posts.

2- I'm still looking for questions to answer in my mailbox. Mostly writing questions, but you can send me anything and I'll get to it eventually.]

This has happened a couple of times, and I'm usually not much into the tourist spots myself unless there's a specific place that a guest wants to go. I'll take them to Alcatraz or to see Fisherman's Wharf or the Golden Gate Bridge if they are wanting that experience, but I'm much more likely to find something they like and tailor a local adventure to that. If they want to see the ocean, we head down to Half Moon Bay and take a hike along the cliffs and then down to the beach. If they want to see a museum I'll take them to the DeYoung (or Cal Academy if they're a big nerd). If they want a vigorous hike, I'll show them the Lafayette Reservoir rim trail. If they like to eat Mexican food, we go on a Fruitvale taco crawl. 

Still, I rarely do that either. A lot of my visitors are more of the "hang out and enjoy each other's company" type. We putter around locally. Maybe go for a hike. Or perhaps we just knock out some grocery shopping that I need to do anyway. We hit a few local restaurants. There's lots of talking. Maybe we watch a movie or something.

Friday, November 11, 2022

Can You Smell What the Chris is Cooking?

It's been a quiet week here, but I'm hoping by next week, you will understand why—or at least get the first hints of what is going on that I've been so busy with. Today was Treble and Clef's observance of Veteran's day, so I basically had about four and a half extra hours of childcare. And it looks like I've gotten nothing done this week. 

I'm not going to lie—I'm still stumbling more than I'm cranking out the word counts. It's been a long and slow road to recovery. But the posts are coming and a major project is in the works. 

Basically what happened is that my editor came to me with their part of something I had been hinting that I wanted to do for a couple of years now. They had done it. It was already completely finished. Suddenly, I was in a position to get a major non-blog project done. 

But there was a catch…

It was about NaNoWriMo. Which meant I had to drop everything and put it all into getting this project done if it was going to be done in time to be topical. Otherwise it would have to wait for an entire year. 

So that's what I did. I dropped everything and started working. I have a shit ton of editing and polishing and revision to do as fast as I can possibly do it, as well as two articles that are absolutely essential to round out the final version of this project. One of those will go live next week as part of the regular blog, and I HOPE this thing will get off the ground while NaNo is still a thing.