30 Day Blogging Challange: Week 3

Three weeks in and the 30 day blogging challenge is going pretty good.  I guess I’ve started the home stretch, and it’s starting to strain my stamina. The everyday grind is something that I was both under and over estimate.  Coming up with concepts for each night is becoming more difficult, but it’s becoming easier to sit down each night and start writing.  That is the exact opposite of how I thought all this was going to go.

The hardest part of writing for me has always been sitting down to write.  Once I get in the chair I’m usually okay, but starting writing has always been a problem.  But not for the last two weeks.  It’s been getting easy and easier to just start writing.  I guess that’s because I have a separate desktop that I use only for writing.  (On Macs you can have more than one desktop and switch between them.  It’s a great productivity tool.)  That way I can just sit down and start writing because I’m in my “writing space.”  That I and I give myself permission to just write anything and throw out what I don’t like.  I do that with fiction writing as well, but it seems more real to me when I’m blogging.  Not sure what that is.

I also write a hell of lot faster when I’m blogging.  Normally I’m so slow when I’m writing fiction, but I just fly on a blog post.  Sometimes about four times as fast.

So this week presented itself with a unique challenge that I was wondering when it would show up: I was at a party and drunk when it came time to post.  I was actually going to let myself slip past my deadline by a few hours but my friend were very supportive and convinced me to write the post on my iPhone.  Something I’ve been wanting to experiment with for a while now.  The post turned out okay, even if it was a little raw.  Strictly speaking I was a few words under my minimum of 300 words, but since I didn’t have a word counter on the phone and I’ve been a few words over my maximum of 600 on some other posts, I’m going to count it.

I only have week and two days left until the end of the challenge.  Luckily the holidays are coming up and I’ve taken a few days off which should give me more than enough time to work on some really good ending posts.

Stay tuned.

30 Day Blogging Challenge: Week 2

It’s the second week of my blogging challenge and how am I doing?  Well, I haven’t quite yet, but I still haven’t wrote a post ahead so I’m always working on my posts about two hours before the midnight deadline.  I guess I haven’t talked about that before.  Another rule to this blogging challenge that I set myself is that I have to have the blog posted before midnight for the post to count for that day.  This keeps me for putting it off and putting it off until this three in the morning on a work day and I just give myself permission to go to bed.

I’ve been down this road with these kinds of self challenges before so I know all of my sneaky tricks that I use to get out of them.  It sounds like I don’t like writing doesn’t it?  Like if I was so in love with this, why don’t I just easy bang out thousands of words at a go?  Why all the games?

Because writing is hard.  That is why I love it, but to do it well takes a lot of effort.  You have to dig within yourself and find the Good Stuff that buried within a lot of just Okay Stuff.  It’s not always the most fun process.  Cupled with the fact that writing when you aren’t getting paid for it requires creating a habit within yourself.  I have been very, very bad at this.  Even in college when I was writing the most, I only did it a few days a month.  And I still managed to write over 20 short stories in just a few years.

But the writing has been easy for the last few weeks.  And something happened to me this week that should make things a lot easier: I got new glasses.  Normally that shouldn’t impact writing but I haven’t had new glasses in about six years.  In that time, my old ones had been screeched to hell and back, so it would get a little annoying to write at the computer for  long periods of time.  I could just focus on what I was doing and ignore the scratches but after a while It would get to me.  More the fact that I hadn’t gotten around to fixing the damn things than my eyes, but both were in play.

As far as the other things I’ve been doing aside from just writing, adding the blog to StumbleUpon was one of the best things I could have done.  My added readership has just about doubled, so if you have a blog, I highly recommend it.  Look forward to me trying more things with the blog.  I’m going to try finding some free pictures to add to posts so that they pop a little more. And I’m probably going to connect the blog to Google plus at the very least.

The challenge is going well so far.  I’m at the halfway point so I think I might be able to do this one.

Is Self-Publishing Worth It?

Self-publishing intrigues me.  As someone who has had their nose pressed up against the publishing industry since there early twenties, the idea that I could just put something out there without asking any editor or publishing house for permission is a very tantalizing prospect.  One thing that you can attribute to the Internet is that it has nocked down any barrier between the people who want to read content and the people who want to make content.

There have been many times where I have thought, “Screw rejection letters.  I’m just going to publish my own book.”

Back in the early 00’s the self-publishing industry – also known as print on demand – was still in its infancy.  You could do it, but it was kind of career suicide.  Espeically if you were like me and haven’t been published through “traditional” means before.  So I did what I was supposed to do and sent out short stories to publishers even as websites and blogs cut the guts out of print media.

(Oh and as an aside, I don’t hold to the standard wisdom that the print is dead.  People still like books as physical objects.  They’ve been around for thousands of years, one decade isn’t going to make them extinct. They may one day go away but not in the fabled “soon” that a lot of tech journalists would lead you to believe.)

And because there were less print markets, there were less slots for stories, and I got rejected more.  Does this mean that my stuff doesn’t still need work? Oh god no.  But the playing field is being stacked against me and after writing so much, it would be nice to see someone say, “You are good enough.”

That leads me to why I haven’t pulled the trigger on self-publishing my fiction.  I still feel like I need the approval, or at the least the help and guidance of a publisher.  Sure I could self-publish on Amazon and have my stuff given most of the same chances as a lot of the other things on Amazon, but I would still be alone in figuring all that stuff out and advertising the thing.

I might not ever self-publish a novel but as the technology gets cooler and cooler and the stigma of self-publishing goes away, I might throw out some short stories out into the world and see what they are worth.  I’m not going to get rich off them, but I might get what I would from some random short story publisher.

If nothing else, it might be a interesting story to tell on here.  Stay tuned.

30 Blogging Challenge: Week 1


The above is an app is called Goal Streaks and I use to keep track things that I want to do regularly.  Each day I write or post, I click the day and get a little X.  It sounds silly but it keeps me writing.  You’ll notice that with today’s post, I will have written a posted to this blog for seven consecutive days.

Since this is the end of my first week of posting, I thought I would do a little write up on how I’ve been doing so far with the 30 Day Blogging Challenge.  It started out pretty easy, I had about two posts in my head and I was sandbagging by writing a day ahead of when I would publish.  I’ve subsequently lost that lead by getting writer’s block in the middle of a post and having wait until the next day to get over it.

So right now, I’m writing this post on the day I’m going to publish it, but I have a few hours until I have to go try out a new coffee shop, so I’ll try to recapture that lead or at the very least clean up my damn desk which is covered in clutter.

One thing I didn’t count on was how long the posts were going to be.  My range for a post to count on this blog was between 300 – 600 words.  I figured that the average was going to be in the low three hundreds because  I would be struggling for something to say.  In fact I average around 530 for a post.  Maybe that means I take way to damn long to get to my point, but I think it means that I’m getting back into my pure love of writing.

In the If-It-Was-a-Snake-It-Would-Have-Bit-Me Department: the day after a published the post with my intent to do my 30 Day Blogging Challenge, I find that there of course is an official November blogging challenge called NaBloPoMo – or National Blog Posting Month.  I didn’t actually sign up for it because I had missed the dead line by one day.  Such is life.  It hasn’t seemed to’ve stopped me though.

The weekend was kind of rough with me coming in about 20 minutes before midnight both nights.  So that’s something that I have to be aware of for next week because I’m probably not going to be any more motivated next weekend than I was the last.  I’m really going to have to make a concerted effort to regain my day lead time.

Now that I have a little bit of a body of work on here, I’ve started experimenting with the blogging medium itself.  Last night I registered the blog with the social media site StumbleUpon.  I’ve gotten more traffic to this blog in one day then I have in its entire life.  So if you are here from StumbleUpon, thanks for visiting and feel free to come back.  If you’re a regular visitor to the site, you’ll notice that I keep changing the layout.  I’m still trying to find something that I really like.  I can’t currently edit the CSS of the site, but I’m going to start playing with that on my development computer and if I come up with something good, you see it soon.

I think that about covers it for now.  I’m going to mess with some stuff on the back end of the site and try to do some more writing on other posts.  I think this challenge is going well so far, so I can honestly say this: I’ll see you tomorrow.

30 Day Blogging Challenge: Go!

This month is November and as you all know, November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo.  Every year I try to write a novel and fail before I can even get started.  This is normally because I haven’t written anything in months and then I just want to run the marathon that is writing 50,000 words in a month.

That’s a lot for even published writers to do.  (I’m looking at you, George R. R. Martin.) So it should come as no great shock to anyone but me that writing in that volume would be difficult for the guy with the day job and the girlfriend.

This year, I’m going to be trying something a little different.  I’m going to try and post to this blog every day for a month.  Now I know what you’re thinking, Reader-I-Just-Made-Up, “but you’ve only started posting yesterday – the 5th – and blog post only has to be a few words.”

Well, I hadn’t thought of this six days ago so I will keep posting without a break until the 5th of December, and each post on here has to be at least 300 – 600 words.  (I understand that this isn’t Twitter.) That’ll give me a nice body of work: about 13,000 words on average.  Not a novel, but certainly a decent chunk of writing.  More than I have done in a long time.

There’s also the added bonus of seeing what I’m doing in “print” as I’m going, which should help with pushing through those days when I just don’t want to write anything.   Another safety catch is that I’m sandbagging by one day.  Each day, I’m not going to post directly into by blogging software.  I’m writing each post into Pages and putting it up the next day.  That way I start each writing day with a mark in the win column.  We’ll see how long that lasts but as you are reading this, I’ve already written three days in a row.

It feels like it’s going to be a nice system and keep a buffer from the immediacy of blogging.  While I like blogging, the fact that you can hit the publish button at any moment can make me feel like I’m giving a speech in public.  That’s another reason why I’m writing in a text editor and not the blogging software itself.

So what do I get if I manage to post for 30 days in a row? Conventional wisdom says that I should be working towards a reward other than just the goal itself.  If you finish the actual NaNoWriMo, you get a shirt, so what am I getting?

To be honest, I can’t really think of anything I want more than to have written over 10,000 words in a month, so stay tuned while I try to think of something I should be giving myself.  Or you could help suggest something in the comments.  I’m thinking a steak and a beer, but since a steak is the only thing I can cook and I brew beer, it’s going to have to be one fucking epic steak and beer.

But I’m getting ahead of myself like I always do.  First: the work.

The Chain Method: How I got to writing every day.


Writing (Photo credit: jjpacres)

The biggest problem for everyone who wants to be a writer is writing every day.  I don’t care who you are, the hardest thing you can do as a writer is simply sitting down to write.  I went through a fallow period where I would go months without writing anything and when I would, I wouldn’t finish what I started on.


I was able to break this by using what’s known as the Chain method or the Seinfeld Method.  You get yourself a dry erase board or a wall calendar with space to write on.  On a day that you write, place an “X” on the calendar. After three days you will have a chain, your job becomes not breaking the chain.

That’s it.

It sounds really simple and I think that’s why it works. It takes the pressure off of you.  As I said before, to make a serious go at being a writer, you have to write every day.  So if your in your twenties that means your going to have to write very day for the next 60+ years.  (And that’s assuming that we don’t create some kind of longevity technology between now and then.) It’s this nebulous time frame that seems too large to tackle.  The Chain Method makes writing about today.  All you have to do is write today. And once you’ve written something you’re off the hook.  You’ve accomplished something and you get your little “X” for the day.

This is a work in progress (also see: my life), and I have noticed that when I do miss a day, this method has a built in function for dealing with it.  It starts creating a chain of blank days that I’ve missed.  This chain creates a negative pressure that makes when want to write. If I go three days without writing, it feels very satisfying to kill the Evil-Blank-Chain-That’s-Trying-To-Destroy-Me just by writing for a little bit and getting my “X” for the day.  Before if I stopped writing for a few days, I would just stop writing because I failed my goal of writing for the rest of my life.

I’ve only been using this method for less than a month and I’ve already finished two short stories.  Hell, I’ve already gotten my “X” for this day and I’m just writing this post for fun.

If you want to be a writer of any kind and you find yourself fighting with the discipline then I highly suggest giving this a try.  You don’t really have anything to lose because if you fail, all that’s going to happen is that you go back to not writing, which is where you are now.