Friday, September 25, 2015

Grammar: The Writer's Greatest Misconception

One of the greatest struggles a new writer faces is how self-critical they are of their own work. They get a brilliant idea and passionately pound the keys of their keyboard, working in a frenzy.  Once the initial adrenaline rush of inspiration wears off, they proudly kick back and read their manuscript.

Their hearts become shattered.  They see misspelled words, wrong words used and improper grammar in every other sentence.  The writer begins to have doubts about their abilities and their self-worth.  The writing is crap.

This is a natural part of the cycle of writing.  Ernest Hemmingway once said, "The first draft of anything is crap."  He actually used another word besides "crap", but I'm trying to keep my blog G/PG whenever I can.

A writer doesn't need grammar.  We have many talented editors, educators, students and everyday folk who have amazing literary skills and know how to format a sentence properly.  They also know how to catch bad writing habits and more.

What the literary world needs are innovative ideas and imagination.  We need writers to take us into new worlds and new adventures, opening our eyes and expanding our understanding of our place in the universe.  Ideas do not require good grammar to deliver themselves.  That's what an editor is for.  To see your idea and to know how to shape your idea into a story.

The greatest tool of a writer is their voice.  An author's voice isn't changed by an editor correcting a word if the voice is strong.  Focus on your voice as a writer.  What is your style?  For instance, I like to focus on miniscule detail because I like to think of my voice as a paintbrush painting a picture.  The trick my editor taught me was how I can go into exact detail without damaging the pace of my story.  An editor is the YANG voice to your YIN!

So write.  Then write some more.  You can then start self-editing once your first draft is done and correct what you know is wrong.  Move sentences, rearrange paragraphs and do the best you can.  Get a professional editor and request them to look over your work.  Accept their wisdom and knowledge.  An editor doesn't want to kill your masterpiece.  They want to help you avoid the pitfall mistakes that many published writers have made.

The more you write, the more you self-edit and the more you work with editors, the better you will become at Grammar.  Remember, your ideas are what we need.  Write!


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Lessons Learned: The Hard Way

Life is really too short.  You can dwell on this or that.  If it makes you happy, then good for you.

One of the most difficult challenges I have faced in life is not always being able to see when I was wrong about something.  I try to be honest with myself, but sometimes that doesn't always work.  So if you are losing sleep, and something is taking away your ability to live your life, then you have a problem.

I have an issue I have struggled with this year and I have finally done what I needed to do.  I've said my peace.  I've accepted my responsibility and I'm moving on.  My children are the top priority in my life and their smiles offer rewards beyond compare.  I have a loving and supporting wife and I stand on my own two feet without depending on the graciousness of my friends or family.  I have doors of opportunity open to me and there are many ways I can explore my horizons.  I realized that I'm capable of turning in any direction that I choose.  There is no course of action that I'm locked into.


Sometimes it is better to just make your point & move on. If you try too hard and if you are wrong, you might overplay your hand.

Friday, September 18, 2015

One Thousand Books and Counting

I want to humbly give my readers my deepest appreciation.  Today, I surpassed 1000 PAID DOWNLOADS on Amazon with my debut novel!

Thank you for your support and for telling your friends about my little story!


Sunday, September 13, 2015

Writing Tip #1: Do Not Edit As You Go

Before you start setting writing goals or anything else involved with writing, the first and foremost thing to remember is "Do Not Edit As You Go."

When I'm writing in a frenzy trying to get my ideas onto the page, the thing that will break my rhythm faster than anything is if I am a thousand words in for the day and find myself thinking about the red underlined word that I misspelled in my first sentence.  If I go back and correct just that one word, I am done for the day.  I will obsess about every error I just made and that lowers my confidence.

Editing happens later.  All mistakes can be fixed in future drafts.  Don't worry about whether or not that sentence fits.  If you need to add it to a different paragraph, it would actually be better to just write the remainder of the paragraph.  And if it bothers you that much, rewrite the sentence again in the new paragraph.  You can delete the displaced sentence later.

The absolutely most time-consuming issue related to writing is editing.  And for you to get the progress you need to build a long work, you don't need anything to slow you down or discourage you.  Just write it, move on and fix it later.


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Gaming Improves Critical Thinking

I have people ask me questions about my creative process all the time. The main thing I'm specifically asked about is why I have such a vivid imagination.

I'd like to say genetics or my personality as the answer, but that would be dishonest.  In truth, the thing I attribute most influential to my imagination, my creativity and my critical thinking skills is gaming.

And I'm not talking about video games, although I think they have helped me too.  I'm talking about role-playing games, specifically tabletop role-playing.

It's more than just pretending to be a character.  The real trick is to think in terms of how your characters think.  And if you are dealing with a fantasy world, it is important to imagine in your mind what the character you are role playing sees.  The more you role-play, the more characters you play in different settings, the more your mind can process highly detailed images in the imagination.  And this is considered as real as it gets "out of the box" thinking.  A tabletop gamer can put together pieces of a situation that normally wouldn't fit into the real world.

Role playing also has the benefit of teaching very important skills, including leadership skills.  Given a specific problem, a group of players may have various ideas about how to resolve that problem.  In my experience, a leader tends to rise up among the players and uses critical thinking skills to deduce the problems.

So one of the ways that I encourage my children's creativity is to get them involved in role playing.  I'm sure there is a scientific study out there somewhere that will probably say the same thing.  I'm just saying that I've seen it first hand with countless table-top gamers because they are some of the most creative and intelligent people I've ever met.