Why you shouldn’t ignore creative burnout

Why you shouldn’t ignore creative burnout

Working on creative projects takes a lot of effort. When things are running smoothly, it’s easy to ignore how many tasks need to be done, especially if you’re trying to accomplish this project alone (as I’ve written about before). But when does it become too much? When can a creative endeavor cross over from pleasure to work? Part of the problem of accumulating creative projects is the desire to work on all of them at once. For some, it’s how they pay the bills. For me, my creative pursuits are meant to be enjoyable hobbies. I understand that some aspects of these hobbies (like editing) aren’t the most enjoyable, but they still need to happen if I want to produce a product I’m proud of. There are plenty of ideas I want to see come to life, but I don’t have the time to work on them all simultaneously. Sometimes projects overlap. I’ve recently recovered from a bout of creative burnout. I pushed...
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2021 Has All the Fun

2021 Has All the Fun

Another year, another set of writing goals. 2021 will be a bit different in that I've already been hard at work getting things prepared for publication—or merely fixing up the project that I delayed from last year. Either way, I do plan to continue my goal of self-publishing at least one book each year. With most conventions postponed or canceled this year, I'll certainly have time to sit down and work on these projects. Buried Colony Despite the setback I had last year, I still plan on self-publishing Buried Colony as soon as possible (before it becomes a reality). I'll be re-working the parts that need attention in January and will get a few beta readers to check my work before proceeding with the advanced reader copies again. Fortunately, a lot of formatting and design has already been completed, so it's really just the content that needs some polishing before publication. I also hope to release this as one of the first...
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Eating the Elephant

“There is only one way to eat an elephant: a bite at a time.” – Desmond Tutu Let’s address the elephant in the room: self-publishing a book takes a lot of work. In fact, plenty of accomplishments in our lives seem daunting at first glance, but turn out to be just an enormous amount of smaller tasks. The trick with any of these large projects is the ability to break the end goal into smaller milestones that are easily achievable. Nobody expects to climb a mountain with one giant leap. However, with enough small steps, even Mount Everest can fall to a determined climber (given they have the right gear for it). While enough determination can overcome most things, experience helps lay the framework for completing a long-term goal. Even with endless hours of commitment, there are enough “unknown unknowns” in any field of interest that prevent a neophyte from becoming a master. Heck, even with enough steps, it is unlikely that...
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Logic and the Suspension of Disbelief

Fiction writers have the most freedom to write whatever they want. After all, fiction is—by definition—not true. Thus, without the constraints of truth holding them down, fiction writers can write about things that don’t make any sense. This is how the more fantastical genres of science fiction and fantasy can get away with having aliens, dragons, and any other number of crazy things the author can think up. While fiction doesn’t have to hold to the tenets of truth, there is one fundamental foundation needed for this—or any other—writing. That foundation is logic. Even if readers can accept a world that has faster-than-light travel or a ring that can make its wearer invisible, if there isn’t a logic supporting these claims, the reader will begin to doubt the world the writer has created. The second that doubt creeps in, disbelief isn’t far behind. A hole in logic is a hole in the plot. Because there’s no need to write factual things in fiction,...
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Answers to a new writer’s FAQ

Nobody is born proficient in anything. We all have to start somewhere when it comes to learning new skills. Sure, there might be a prodigy or two out there, but instances of individuals with extreme natural talent are rare. Writing is just like any other skill. Nobody starts out knowing everything about it or how to do it. Consequently, I’ve seen a lot of the same questions pop up in online forums from new writers who are just trying to get a handle on this skill. Some are trying to improve, but many don’t know what they don’t know and seem to ask some fairly basic questions. Since I’ve recently realized I’ve been a published writer for over a decade, I thought I could shed some light on some frequently asked questions (FAQs) that I’ve seen from numerous new writers. Q: I want to write X. Should I write it? The addendum to this question is usually, “It’s already been done before.”...
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When is a manuscript “good enough”?

Just like I was surprised to realize I had been journaling for ten years (now up to 12 years), I’ll be participating in my 10th National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) this November. It’s weird to think that I’ve written nine books with this challenge over the years, even to the point where I’ve used the experience I’ve gained in doing so to publish other books outside my self-imposed NaNoWriMo publishing cycle (like the Cinema Connections book slated for release this September). Back when I wrote First Name Basis, I was so excited CreateSpace offered me five free proof copies of my book just for finishing the NaNoWriMo challenge. I really wanted that physical copy of the book I had just spent six weeks writing, but I also knew it needed some polishing so I’d be proud of what I had created. I asked some friends to help beta read, and I took their notes and performed a number of edits before finally clicking that “submit”...
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The ABC+ of Beta Reading

A few months ago, I discussed how there are four essential edits that every author should perform on their manuscript. While the author can do half of these edits by themselves, two edits need the input of other people: editors and beta readers. Authors shouldn’t expect editors to ask what to look for during their review, but most beta readers might not know the types of useful feedback the author is seeking with their review. It doesn’t hurt to provide beta readers with a little guidance on what to be looking for when they read the author’s manuscript. The benefits of beta readers are due to the fact that they aren’t necessarily professionals reading your work. They won’t have the background to tell you if you’re using too many dangling participles (like your editor should). Instead, they have the “layman” view of someone who would pick up your book and read it for entertainment purposes. Consequently, the beta readers should be able...
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3 unexpected programs to help you publish a book [PART 3/3]

Over the last few months, I’ve hopefully opened your eyes to some of the neat tricks you can use to help publish your book using the Microsoft Office suite. Microsoft Word is an obvious choice for writing, and Microsoft Excel can also be useful to manage lists and other planning information, but did you know there’s one more program that can help you publish your book as well? Up until now, the programs I’ve suggested are ones that you’d likely use anyway if you were trying to organize your work or polish your manuscript. The key was merely using the lesser-known tools within these programs to make your life as a writer easier. This month, I’d like to suggest something that might shock you and will require you to use a program in a slightly different manner than it’s usually used. That program is: MICROSOFT POWERPOINT Most people associate PowerPoint with corporations, presentations, and goofy animations. While these are the typical uses for the...
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3 unexpected programs to help you publish a book [PART 2/3]

Last month, I told you how the Microsoft Office suite can help you with your writing. I covered Microsoft Word, and how it’s more powerful than just a standard word processor. By getting to know some of the more obscure features of these (usually) easily obtainable and available programs, writers can take control of their writing without having to purchase expensive computer programs. With Microsoft Word, I covered how Section Breaks, Styles, and Formatting can help a writer create a professional-looking book with less effort. Even though our next program isn’t used directly for the actual writing of a book, it is incredibly valuable for planning and prepping. It can also be used during the polishing phase of a manuscript as well. I refer, of course, to: MICROSOFT EXCEL As an engineer, I love to use spreadsheets, and Excel is the king of the spreadsheet programs. Any time I need to write a list or do some calculations, I open up a new...
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3 unexpected programs to help you publish a book [PART 1/3]

Many months ago, I described the amount of work a writer would need to do by themselves to publish a book. Not only is there research, formatting, and graphic design involved, the writer also has to write said book. This whole process can be daunting, especially in the digital age. We have so many different programs at our fingertips to help us plan, write, and publish. A lot of these programs can cost a significant amount of money. Sure, programs like Aeon Timeline, Evernote, and Scrivener might be worth the money in the long run, but you’ll inevitably have to learn how to use these programs, which can eat into your writing time. What if I were to tell you that there’s a suite of programs you probably already have installed on your computer that can accomplish many of the same functions as the programs that cost a lot more? Many of you probably already use these programs on a regular...
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