Writer’s Clog

I’ve been sitting here for hours, trying to write.

It’s not that I don’t have ideas. It’s that I have too many. I have a growing list of ideas that I’ve been toting around, and frankly I’m in love with them all. I have characters and plots climbing all over each other in my brain, and it’s like I’ve gone into creative overload and just shut down.

I can’t seem to focus on one single idea, so my brain has decided to strike and not create anything.

I’ve been staring at a blank screen since dinnertime, and all I’ve managed so far is six open tabs with snippets of six different stories.

The popular notion of writer’s block is that the writer is blank, unable to come up with anything to write. So what is it called when you have so many competing ideas that they get jammed on their way to your fingers? Writer’s clog?

I know, I should be thankful for the ideas I have. I am. But in its own way, writer’s clog is just as frustrating as writer’s block. I want to do everything, but instead I’m producing nothing.

Ever had this happen?

Book Review: Your Money or Your Life

I’m going to preface this by stating the obvious: the first edition of this book (the one I have) was published twenty years ago. The internet was nothing like it is today. E-books were far fewer, and there sure as hell was no such thing as a Kindle. Even so, I’m using it as part of my Five Year Plan, to further my career as an indie ebook writer, which at first glance seems counter intuitive.

Stay with me.

This book is important, for anyone, but especially for people wanting to get away from a day job. It offers the standard advice, like making your own coffee* and packing a lunch. But where this one differs significantly from those other finance guides is in the perspective. The book’s goal is getting you to financial independence, and it may be closer than you thought.

But, you say, I need a million-billion dollars to support myself/my family, so I can’t ever leave my day job! “Your Money or Your Life” points out all the unseen costs associated with going to the day job itself. Do you spend money on special work clothes? On parking? On social lunches? These extra costs would disappear along with your 9-5.

And what about extra time? Do you commute? Do you spend a lot longer getting ready in the morning, so you can meet a certain office standard? What about after work–do you need mindless “unwind” time to get over your miserable day? Wouldn’t that time be better spent, y’know…doing something?

You may be working more hours for less money than you thought. And the more money and time your day job eats, the less of both you have to put towards working for yourself.

Pick this one up, from the bookstore, the library, or get it in ebook form. Sit down (when you actually get a minute) and read the entire thing. Even if something specific doesn’t seem to apply to you, read it anyway. It’s the overall mindset that’s important here. It’s about re-learning how to prioritize your money and your time.

As far as career goals go, I’d say that’s pretty damned important.

*pleasant side effect: since I make coffee in much larger volumes than I’d buy at the drive-through, my caffeine consumption is much, much higher and I am much, much happier. Caffeine is my happy drug.

On Copyright and Concept

So, yesterday I had a sudden flash of inspiration. A concept for a story that was so crisp and detailed and visual that I started to worry I’d seen it somewhere before.

Like, literally seen. Like maybe it was in a movie I’d watched and then forgotten.

I don’t talk about stories I’m working on, so no, I won’t be talking about the concept itself here. (Superstitious? Maybe. But I come from a home where putting shoes, even brand new ones, on a table is inviting misfortune and bad mojo to rain down upon you. Hi Mom!) Anyway, because I don’t talk about works in progress, that also means I can’t ask around to see if the concept seems familiar to anyone else. I Googled, which turned up nothing. I wracked my brain. I finally caved and reluctantly told my idea to C, something I very rarely do, and he assured me he’s never heard of it.

Still, the worry nags at me. It’s not that I think there’s anything new under the sun (hell, I even have a super-trendy zombie story under my belt). It’s just that the details of this concept feel reasonably fresh, and frankly I’d hate to find out later that someone beat me to it.

It’s the idea that writing a story about a hotel is fine, but writing about a haunted hotel where a snowed-in writer loses his mind has been done, and even barring legal issues, to write the same story would be stale and redundant.

I asked for advice in an online writing community and was reassured that I should write it anyway: that ideas can’t be copyrighted and that shy of actual plagiarism I should be safe from getting my ass sued off.

It’s a new feeling. I’ve never been so hesitant to write before, and it’s bumming me out.

Disappointing Monsters

You like horror.

You like comics.

You’ll like Disappointing Monsters. Why? Because it’s fucking awesome.

Created by my buddy Owen Mackinder and my new pal Daniel Bradford, this comic has everything your dark little heart could want. Cthulhu. Pennywise the Dancing Clown. A snow fort with murder holes.

As my husband says, it’s a lot like Calvin and Hobbes…if Hobbes was a zombie.


(click for big)

New comics on Mondays, click here to read from the start.

Horror in Porcelain: the Dolls of Jessica Harrison

This ain’t your Grandma’s knickknack. Unless your Grandma’s awesome.

Artist Jessica Harrison buys old porcelain figures and repurposes them: adds some guts here, slices a throat there. The result? Not something you’re gonna see on the Shopping Network anytime soon.

More butchered beauties at JessicaHarrison.co.uk.

(via Bored Panda)

Attack of the Robot Bird…Thing

As I’ve posted before, robots kinda give me the heebies. I thought it only applied to those too-close-for-comfort humanoids, but then I found this:

It’s like it’s…waiting. Someone’s going to turn their back on this thing and it’s going to come for them. I can feel it.

How To Procrastinate

Are you the type who methodically maps out your writing? Do you break stories or novels down into manageable pieces, finishing a self-imposed quota each day? Do you revel in knowing that your story or article will be complete well before it’s due?

You, my friend, are missing out on one of life’s little joys. I like to call it The Game of Procrastination.

It’s easy to play. First, and most importantly, you need a deadline. Those of you working on spec are lucky enough to have one built in, but for the indies you’ll have to make one up. (If you find yourself procrastinating on even setting a deadline, you are too advanced for this game. Move along.) You need a deadline, because you can’t tell you’re procrastinating until you have one looming over your head.

Now we begin.

Sit yourself down at your computer of choice. You might choose a laptop in a cafe; this is the easy way out. There will be a ton of distractions there, most of which won’t even feel like your fault. No. For this game you should be in the comfort of your own home. Boot up your word program of choice. Crack your knuckles if you need to. Roll your head on your neck. Begin.

Wait. Maybe you should pee first. You don’t want to reach your creative zone only to be interrupted by the rude call of nature. Okay. Now that you’ve taken care of that, begin. Begin, that is, after you’ve formatted your page. You’d only have to do it later so you might as well do it now. Now, try to remember that really delightful phrase you thought of when you were at your day job. What was it? Wait, didn’t you write it down? Maybe it’s still in your pocket. You’ve changed since you got home, though, so you have to dig the pants out of the laundry. The hamper is overflowing; take a quick break to go downstairs and start some laundry.

Pass the kitchen. Make some coffee. That’s what writers do, right? You are A Writer, and you deserve your vices.

Sit down while you wait for it to brew. No point in going up to your computer, only to come back down in five minutes. Efficiency, you are a paragon of efficiency. Notice a couple squirrels on the back deck. Begin to wonder about the connection between those squirrels. Are they siblings? Squirrely little lovers?

Coffee made and back upstairs. Write a line, question the spelling of “fuschia”, look it up online. You spelled it correctly! Congrats! But your Twitter tab shows updates. You should see what’s going on. Someone’s tweeting about a cultural event they’re participating in, and you begin to realize you don’t have a “culture” of your own, sure you know your ancestors originated in Europe but what does that mean, to you, as an individual in a melting-pot nation and you begin to realize how much you don’t know about your own country, for crying out loud, it’s a shame, and you go on Amazon…nay, Chapters.ca because you’re a Canadian, dammit, and you decide now would be a great time to learn about the War of 1812, so you write down the info for the book you want and make plans to buy it later and you’re proud of yourself for not falling into a WikiHole because you have WORK TO DO and your deadline is FAST APPROACHING.

Whew. Back to work. Write a paragraph.

This coffee isn’t strong enough. You’re still sleepy. Maybe grab a quick nap, so you can recharge your creative batteries.

Wake up hours later. Oops. It is dark out. Your deadline is midnight.

Jump on that idea you had, the one about the fuschia monster, and begin to bang the keys. Maybe you should shower. That’s where you do your best thinking. Check the time: you have three hours before your deadline. Okay, a five minute shower. The hot water is relaxing. A fifteen minute shower.

Back at your desk. Throw yourself into the story, try to hit that magical place where you’re seeing the story unfold in your mind’s eye and just capturing it with keystrokes. It’s almost there, dancing maddeningly just out of reach…Check the clock. You have two hours.

Pour it on. Your fingers move without you, like it’s them telling the story, not you, and it’s working, my God it’s working, and you lose yourself in it and you only remember to breathe because some part of your monkeybrain tells you to and you check the clock and it’s down to the last hour. Check your word count. You need twice as many words as you have, so you sit forward and tune out everything around you. The house could burn down around your chair and you would keep typing. You type faster than you even knew you could, and the images and the thoughts flow out of you and it’s like you’re not even there anymore, like the ideas are writing themselves, beamed down from some heavenly Muse and you just have to get the hell out of her way.

Clock check. Half hour. No time for full sentences.

Faster. Sweat prickles. Husband peeks in on the madwoman—Not now! I’ll be human in half an hour!—and you pound the keys and the monster attacks and your hero lives or dies but now is the time to wrap it up, seam the story together and you’re high on the feeling of it and you key the last words in with five minutes to spare.

But you did it. You beat your deadline.

Every time you do this, you tell yourself you’re crazy. Next time you’ll be one of those planners, one of those normal people who don’t kill themselves to race a deadline. You know even as you think it that it won’t happen.

Because you won.

Wear Your Bones With Skeleton Clothes

I saw this skeleton dress floating around online and fell in love. Who says Spring fashion needs to be pastel?

And don’t worry, dudes, you can show off your bones, too:

Click on either picture to buy, from kreepsville666.

(I don’t make money off products I show here, btw, unless they have my name plastered on the cover. The More You Know.)