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Posts Tagged ‘finishing’

This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until its done. It’s that easy, and that hard.
― Neil Gaiman

Thankfully, I have cookies:)

 

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Today’s Thing I Like is a way to make productivity easier and fun. Also? Guilt-free rewards for writing and lots else, always awesome.

Let’s see, how to introduce this idea?

If the only part of that sentence that made sense to you was “Christmas” fear not! Explanations forthwith.

Part the First: Mary Robinette Kowal

Mary is a terrific author and puppeteer with a string of quality novels and shorts under her belt. She’s the sort of person who suffers a puppeteering injury (yep, that’s a thing) and decides to get back into writing in her down time. And wins a Hugo. Then another one. And another one:)

For those of you interested in learning about writing, she’s also active in the Writing Excuses podcast (transcripts are also available for those who prefer the written word).

 

Part the Second: Habitica

This online platform helps you set up a to do list and rewards you in (fake, sadly, but still) gold pieces when you finish things. It’s free to join and while you can subscribe for things like avatar and quest extras, you don’t need to spend a cent to take advantage of the productivity options. There are lots of productivity and gamification platforms and apps and trackers out there, but this one is working for me.

This is my Habitica avatar, mount and pet, all decked out in rainbow fun.RainbowRumpus

Habitica lets you track what you need to do and, just as importantly, what you have already done. Then (and this is the extra fun bit) when you’re asking yourself if you’ve worked enough to deserve that double mochaccino half-caf* you’re craving, you can go over to your (fake, but still) treasure chest and cash in gold for a reward.

True, you still have to pay for that half-caf with real money, but! It is no longer a guilty pleasure, it is a well-deserved prize. Set up whatever rewards you like, from a trip to the cafe to a book-like object to dinner and a movie.

 

Part the Third: Ink Slingers

A Habitica guild or assemblage of people with similar interests, in this case, writing. You don’t need to join a guild but if you’re the sort of person who likes chat breaks with their productivity, consider it. If you’re the sort of person who wants to eliminate even the possibility of distraction on their way to accomplishment, well, don’t.

How Does This All Come Together?

Now, I’m not usually into apps for this and groups for that. I tend to just forge ahead. Even so, this  system works for me. Maybe it will work for you too, or maybe all you need is a handwritten list of your daily step count. Whatever works to help track measurable progress toward achievable goals.

I may still have a tiny touch of game/loot love left over from my time in Warcraft, and if it works for Mary, well. I asked if I could pretty please join Ink Slingers and then promptly became the walliest of wallflowers, but it’s still nice knowing that other people in my guild are working toward similar goals. It’s also nice to have a list that keeps me on track and lets me reward myself when I cross things off.

It’s even nicer to enjoy a tasty adult beverage (50 gold), guilt free. Now excuse me while I go check “blog post” off my list:)

……….
* Ok, I don’t drink coffee, but the great thing about this system is that it lets you pick your poison. Hot chocolate with whipped cream and Bailey’s, anyone?

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I’m banging my head against a data problem so I’ll have to set aside the in-depth and incisive essay on the mating habits of Salarian scientists I had planned (so sad, but maybe next week;).

Instead, today’s thing I like is this image and the sheer effort the landscape represents. It’s also a shout-out to my Irish relatives (currently recovering from St. Patrick’s Day) and to the fact that people have been solving problems for millennia. Look at those walls, that can’t have been easy:)

The best way out is always through.
― Robert Frost

So, persistence for the win. With that in mind, back to work!

 

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Today I want to spotlight a collection of writing advice. It comes via OWW, the Online Writing Workshop for Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror. OWW is a fee-based workshop but this advice is available to all.

These short essays discuss topics on writing in general, how to get your work read (if you’re into workshops like OWW, or the free Critters or Codex, for example), and the publishing business overall. I like Nicola Griffith’s piece about avoiding cliches:*

Don’t write “her heart stopped” unless you mean she died. Don’t talk about saucy serving wenches in an inn where the beef stew is thick and hearty and the ale is fresh, nutty, and strong… Why aren’t “serving wenches” ever tired, middle-aged women? Why is the beer rarely yellow, or thin, or cloudy with sediment?

So true.** There’s a reason the average human lives a much longer and healthier life than their ancestors did just a century ago:

In Japan, 72 has become the new 30, as the likelihood of a 72-year-old modern-day person dying is the same as a 30-year-old hunter-gatherer ancestor who lived 1.3 million years ago.

Modern sanitation, medicine and quality infrastructure (for those handy extras like clean drinking water) for the win!

So, keep a weather eye out for dangerous and terrifying pitfalls you have to escape in the nick of time as you navigate the winding path of language clichés:) But keep writing. Remember, all’s well that ends well! (And that’s just about enough of that;)

While we’re on the subject of advice, I’ll supplement the OWW site and my previous posts on writing advice with a link from Brain Pickings. This collection of wisdom is from a variety of writers, genre and otherwise:

#49: Neil Gaiman’s Advice to Aspiring Writers
“You have to finish things — that’s what you learn from, you learn by finishing things.”

Some of this advice may not apply to you; I tend not to relate to Bukowski, for example. But some of it may, and I hope it’s useful.

Since I’m throwing in everything but the kitchen sink today, let me close with this great post from Elizabeth Bear: “everybody’s scared of things that they don’t understand and all the living they don’t do.

Accept that there will be a lot of failures along the way, and that you can come back from nearly any mistake that doesn’t involve making a left turn in front of an oncoming semi.

Excellent advice.

Write, rewrite, finish. Do it again.

…………
* Some of the examples are also about uncomfortable -isms. Racism and sexism, for instance, are more problematic than simple clichés and should be resolved at a deeper level. Obviously.
** As a side note, if you’re curious about what and how people ate in the Western Middle Ages, SF Canada writer Krista D. Ball has a detailed and useful book on realism in fantasy food: What Kings Ate and Wizards Drank.

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For my mother and anyone else facing a challenge today:

It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.
― Confucius

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Hello, hello, greetings and salutations from 2016! I’m back home and working but I’ll admit that I’m not quite ready for the new year. I know it’s usual to plan these sorts of things before the calendar turns, but I didn’t, so I’m planning now.

Also, note to self re: Holiday Recovery… pencil in time for this next year because it’s going to happen whether you like it or not;)

It’s a new year but the same old challenges, what to do do and how to do it. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not big on resolutions. I do, however, like to take the opportunity to step back a little and think about goals and targets.

I did a lot last year but no one ever finishes every single thing on their list unless they’re aiming too low. Fall also tends to be a bit odd for me, writing and otherwise. Most of my family and holiday-related traveling is compressed into a few short months, plus NaNoWriMo in November hijacks time I’d normally spend on other plans. Then December rolls around and it’s all NaNo recovery, long car rides and Christmas shopping. Hard to get much writing done, and while I’m ok with that it does leave me in a peculiar spot come January.

Let’s see… Eggnog recovery, check. Sleep deprivation recovery, check. Catch up on missed episodes of favorite shows, check. Despair of ever managing to finish anything ever again, then get over it and move on? Check and check.

So here I am, another January with the whole year spread out in front of me like a delicious holiday smorgasbord. What to do next?

First priority: put aside the previous year’s opportunities missed and goals not quite managed, and opt not to worry about the coming year. Then ask myself what I really want to do. Next, and this is the hardest part, listen to the answer.

Onward!

 

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Today I ran across a collection of tips from master writers. The Gotham Writers Workshop includes tips for aspiring writers from Elmore Leonard, George Orwell, Neil Gaiman, Margaret Atwood, P.D. James and more.

RULE SEVEN: The only rule is work. If you work it will lead to something. It’s the people who do all of the work all of the time who eventually catch on to things.
— John Cage

Every – every – story is a story about people, or it sucks.
— Joss Whedon

I’ve seen a number of these suggestions before but many not. And when it’s Tuesday morning and the tea has yet to kick in, I find that every little bit helps. Happy writing!

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