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I'm stuck, now what?

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Writers often ask others, "Are you a plotter? Or are you a Pantser?" I prefer the term "pantster" myself. It's weirder, but easier to say.A plotter is a person who outlines his story, sometimes meticulously, before he writes it. A pantster sits herself down at the computer and starts writing. Either way, the assumption is that at the other end of the process, a novel is born. I have met an author who does in fact create a highly detailed outline for each novel he writes. The problem with this guy was that he insisted that you also had to do this. It's the only way, in his mind, to write a good story.I, on the other hand, have myself sat down and written a book from start to finish without an outline or a basic plot idea. I knew a few things that were going to happen. And I knew the scene that would end the novel. But the rest was writing by the seat of my pants. The end result is Camelia, a story told by a suicidal alcoholic. After having written more than …

Let's get this party started

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Let's back up a bit now and assume you haven't finished much of anything at all so you have no delusions yet, neither of grandeur or suckiness. And let's assume that you don't already have the fully formed idea for the greatest bestseller of all time. I'm willing to bet that most writers don't start with a complete idea in their heads. They might have a smidgen of an idea. Or they might just want to be a writer and don't know where to start. There are those, I'm sorry to say, who would tell a person like that to forget writing. "If you just 'want to be a writer' but you have no clue what to write, writing isn't for you," they'd say. Hmph, I say. Wanting to be a writer is a perfectly acceptable reason to try to be one. Duh.Granted, I didn't come to writing out of the blue, standing in my kitchen and suddenly blurting out, "I want to be a writer." Writing was always just something I did. But however the idea bubbles…

Delusions of grandeur or suckiness; neither serve you well

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Do you suffer from delusions of grandeur?

A long time ago, I was contacted by a guy who wanted help with his book. This book, he said, was a bestseller! It had everything! It was a biography, and he already knew who would play him in the movie adaptation.

Helpful as I tend to be, I told him to write that book! (Did I mention that he hadn't written it, yet?) And then, after he wrote it, he should edit it. And then get it published.

He wanted me to do all of that, of course. Because this was a sure-fire bestselling book. When I declined, as I had books of my own to write, he seemed a tad miffed.

I'm not sure, from a psychological standpoint, what it is that makes some people believe that they are fabulous in nearly every respect, especially in their chosen fields of endeavor. And those of us living in the real world tend to view assertions of greatness with a smirk. But who am I to judge? That guy's book might very well be the next huge hit about a drug addled motorcycle ga…

What Makes a Story Great?

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When I started all of this writing and publishing nonsense, I had a hard time finishing a novel. I'd start rather strong and then, after a few thousand words, lose heart. My story wasn't great enough. There wasn't enough conflict, not enough action. The stakes weren't high enough or I couldn't figure out the stakes at all.

But that all changed one night while I sat in bed reading A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby.

Nick Hornby is one of my favorite authors. There is only one book of his that I didn't like. The rest are wonderful. And as I sat reading A Long Way Down, something smacked me on the head. A realization. This book is very simple. A group of people meet atop a building on New Year's Eve all with the intention of hurling themselves off it. It's not as silly as it seems. This particular building has a history of that sort of thing. Anyway, they meet, they manage to put off jumping. And from that point on, their lives are entangled.

There were no gr…

Everyone really does have a book inside...

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First, we have to talk about the title of this post.

It should read: Everyone really does have a book inside him. But people won't like that, because I said "him." That's sexist. So, I'd say: Everyone really does have a book inside him or her. But that's too long and awkward. What a lot of people would do, is write: Everyone really does have a book inside them. But I cannot abide the singular "they."

The word "they" is plural. Yes, yes, I know that it's been used in a singular manner forever. But I don't like it. It doesn't sound right to my ears. I use it all the time in speech, but I suppose for me, writing is different. It's more thoughtful. Meaningful. Important. So it must be done correctly. (That's all bullshit, of course.)

Rant over.

It's true. You have a book inside you. Probably more than one. Everyone has a story. We know this. How?

Because storytelling is innate. It's part of the human experience. We&…

Why do we write?

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This morning, last night's dishes calling to me from the kitchen were a hated chore, instead of the welcome distraction they've become these last months.

For so long, getting myself into my office in the morning to write has been like pulling teeth. That's a terrible metaphor, really. Pulling teeth is easy. Just grab and yank. It's getting the patient to sit still in the chair while you're doing it that's the hard part.

I've been stuck for so long inside my own negativity and self doubt. I knew the only cure was to just keep plugging away, keep trying, never give up. (I have a paper weight on my desk that says: Never, never, never quit. A quote supposedly by Winston Churchill.) Eventually, something will kick in. And it finally did. I was eager to get to my writing projects this morning.

A lot of people might say, "If you hate it so much, if it's so hard, why do it? Just do something else."

Why do we do it? Why do we write? Why do we put ours…

Who am I to lecture...?

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Seriously. Who the hell do I think I am? Why should you listen to me? Why should you care what I have to say about writing and publishing?

You shouldn't.

That's right. Just click off and go back to something more important. Because I'm a nobody. I assure you, you won't be the first person to think I'm not anything special and have nothing to say about the subject of writing.

But, if you think it might be fun, and if you have this eerie feeling that you agree with me a bit about this whole writing and publishing thing, then stick around. At the very least, you'll hear a rogue opinion.

But, let's talk more about me. I'm not my favorite subject, but there are a few things you might want to know.

I've been writing for as long as I can remember. I wrote my first short story in fifth grade. I wrote my first novel in middle school. I don't remember anything about it. I wrote my second novel in high school. It was awful! My main character's name was…