If what you’re doing isn’t working, try something different.

I can’t tell you how important this advice Neil Gaiman gives to this person is. I had a similar predicament but thankfully I’m an experimental type, so I came upon this one myself. Nothing revolutionary here but sound advice, nonetheless.

Mr. Gaiman: From a very young age, I’ve dreamed of being published (and hopefully successfully so). I went to college for writing and graduated. I couldn’t find a job in publishing, so now I work a different job full time and feel so mentally drained at the end of the day that tapping into my creative vein is often very difficult. Have you dealt with this before? If so, how did you overcome the exhaustion and just write?

Get up an hour earlier, and write for an hour before you go to work.

via Neil Gaiman.

Tweeting tips for the author type

Inspired by Writer Unboxed contributor Nina Badzin’s article, I’ve got some of my own Twitter tips I’ve gleaned from nearly five years of use. Let me say out of the gate that these are observations that I am making from my own personal use. I’m not trying to lay down ‘the law’ whatever that might be, just posting what I think are either good behaviors to practice more and which are bad behaviors that need to be eliminated.

This will be occasionally updated and I’m willing to take your suggestions here too, so check back, it’ll be a document in progress as we all learn more about how to use Twitter more effectively.

  1. Stop spamming your followers. Promoting the hell out of your own material is just noise to the countless people who actually use Twitter. There are some really great authors out there who are guilty of the scheduled self-promo tweet. If you have scheduled a daily tweet promoting your new work, your editing services or that you are just generally awesome, please stop. One caveat, for me at least, do send links to your blog posts. If I’m interested in what your blog headline is, I might want to read more of what you have to say. And once I’m on your blog, promote away.
  2. Interact with other people. This is SOCIAL media, remember? Tease and cajole us, have fun, have a serious conversation. Interact with people you like or who can provide you with useful information. Just keep the conversation going. If someone tweets @ you, be polite and respond. You wouldn’t ignore someone in public who is talking to you (unless they’re creepin’, then run away, quickly). 
  3. On the other hand, don’t expect a reply when you tweet someone else. Don’t take offense if they don’t get back to you. There are a lot of busy people out there, more than anything, we’d all rather be writing. So just assume that the other person is on deadline. Or (especially if they have a lot of followers) assume that they don’t have time to reply to every tweet that they get.
  4. Don’t Twitter rage. The first thing I think to do when I’m pissed (usually about a work situation) is to jump on Twitter and blow off steam. DON’T. DO. IT. Future employers, collaborators, etc may think twice about working with you if you bury people in gouts of rage-lava.

As I said, these are more of my personal rules of the road, based on my own observations of what I click on, what I read, and what I don’t like. What rules do you have for Twitter?

Acts of Whimsy for Jay Lake fundraiser

Morning everyone, hope that you’re having a pleasant Friday! Just a brief note this morning to check out the Sequence a Science Fiction Writer fundraiser  and please donate if you can.jaylake

The skinny: Jay Lake, novelist, short story writer and frequent anthologist, is suffering from colon cancer. After numerous rounds of chemo, the cancer is still active and spreading to his lung and his liver.

There is a chance though, that by sequencing Jay’s genome that his doctors may be able to figure out a novel treatment that hadn’t been apparent. Unfortunately doing so is quite expensive.

Thankfully, Jay Lake has a posse, and some great friends who are willing to do some ridiculous things to help him out. For each dollar goal that the fundraiser achieves, a different author will perfrom an Act of Whimsy. These range from Mary Robinette Kowal reading selections of beloved classics as phone sex (video here) to John Scalzi performing a Bob Dylan song, to Tobias S. Buckell unleashing a potentially awful short story written by his 14-year-old self.

The goal was to hit $20,000 and it was achieved in less than a day. It’s inspiring to see how the sci-fi community really can act like a community sometimes. Below Jay Lake himself expresses it much better though…

Please take a minute to donate, even though the initial goal has been met, there are some stretch goals and I’m sure the extra money would help Jay to defray his medical costs. Please donate if you are able.

Goals and resolutions from other authors and creatives

After I wrote up my own resolutions in a previous post, my partner (in the domestic sense) suggested that maybe I should reach out and see what sort of resolutions other authors and creative people had. I panned on it at first, thinking that the response would be tepid at best. To my surprise and delight, I was overwhelmed by the number of people who agreed to take part. Thanks to each of you below who took time out of your busy lives to humor me.

Some of these folks I follow on Twitter, some I’m friends with offline. There are quite a number of authors in the mix, for obvious reasons, but there are people who also add teacher or game designer, editor or publisher to their daily duties. Each of them have (I think) some interesting perspective on their coming year and what they would like to achieve.

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Writerly resolutions for 2013

I’ve been putting this off for a little while, hey, I had a holiday hangover okay? But here they are, etched in the ethereal stone of the interwebs to simultaneously uplift and torment me throughout the course of the year, my 2013 resolutions…

  • Priority number 1 this year- finish the damn book. While I got to put a neat little bow on things, finishing my first draft on December 7, I still have a ways to go. I’ve got to read through it, reorganize it and trim a lot of fat. A realistic goal for this, I think, is April 1. I’d like to have a presentation-ready copy to shop around by June 1.
  • Read. More. Lots and lots. Makin’ it rain books up in here. And short stories. I’d like to say I’ve read 30 by the end of this year. With a full time job and all my other bidness this feels doable, given that I lay off the TV.
  • More of this. This thing right here. Bloggin’. I’d like to do more than two a week so that it stays relevant and builds audience. Minimum of two per week and it starts this (short) week. So I have to get busy.
  • youre-doing-it-wrongTwitter- I go back and forth on the value of this, practically daily. I’ve made some interesting connections with   couple of famous authors but frankly, at least in the writer’s realm, communication rarely goes beyond one-way, ie, people promoting their stories, talking about writing their stories, complaining about their bm’s etc. There’s not a ton of two way communication that happens. There’s potential there though and I am willing to admit that I may be doing it wrong and I have a lot more to learn.
  • This next one’s a biggie for me and makes my palms sweat just thinking about it… public speaking. I need to start getting some practice, go to Toastmasters, something to get over my crippling fear of speaking in front of a crowd. After all, if my goal is to be a successful author, I need to be able to give readings and answer questions afterwards. I’d prefer to do it without stuttering, being flushed, sweating, crying, wetting myself or sitting in the corner muttering.
  • Start my second project… I’ve got two strong ideas (hey, they’re strong to me!) contending for my next novel. I’d like to start that and preferably work on it while I’m editing the other.
  • Short stories- this is an important medium and completely different from novel writing. I’m actually kind of intimidated to write shorts, they’re just so… concise! Given my other goals, this one might get put on the back burner for a little while longer but I’d like to say by the end of this year that I’ve written at least three short stories that are publication ready.
  • Sell at least one book to one stranger before the end of the year.

So am I completely off my nut? Do you think these are realistic or am I biting off more than I can chew? What are your writing goals for the year?