Tag Archives: reading

Writing Program: Week 7 (Just Keep Writing)

As the weeks progress the writing gets more and more intense. I’m not going to lie; it’s even difficult for me to stay on top of the writing schedule. No one said this was going to be easy. So what do you do if life gets in the way of completing a particular day’s worth of writing? I played around with a few options and they all have pros and cons.

Play catch-up

One option would be to double up your writing the next day. You could also try to space out the sessions you missed between several different days.

Pro

You stay on the original schedule, finishing Week 20 on time.

Con

By having to find time for extra writing sessions it is easy to fall more and more behind.

Pick up where you left off

If you missed Monday’s scheduled work, move it to Tuesday. Then move Tuesday’s to Wednesday and so on.

Pro

No stress of having to catch back up to where you originally left off.

Con

You will have to adjust the date of when you were planning on finishing the program.

Hybrid of catch-up and pick up

This is the option I personally try to use. The majority of the time is picking up where I left off. Then if I have the time and the energy I will try to get an extra session in, catching up to where I originally left off. Also on the last day of the week, since it’s a “rest” day I will use that as a catch-up day, if needed.

Pro

Merges the best features of the other two options, while limiting the stress.

Con

You still may need to adjust the date you finish the program.

Of these three options I don’t recommend playing catch-up. I would choose either picking up where you left off or the hybrid option. Writing is supposed to be fun. Don’t let missing a day’s worth of writing stress you

Week 7 Writing Program

First five weeks of the writing program

Weekly Book Recommend

While The Hobbit was the first full length novel I remember being read to me, the first novel I remember reading myself, that truly captivated me was Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park. I remember reading this book while at Scout Camp and that the book was more enjoyable than the activities that camp had to offer. Granted, there was the whole section of science jargon that was hard to read, but once you got past that part it was an amazing story.

 




Writing Program: Week 6 (Crabs in a Bucket)

Talking with those closest to you

With all the writing you have been doing, your friends and family may have noticed a change in your habits. This is a good thing. It’s time to take your writing a step further. It’s time to talk to your family and friends and explain to them what you’re doing.

You need to tell them about the writing habits you are forming and what you’re trying to accomplish. If you’re not sure what you’re trying to accomplish, you better figure it out. You’ve been writing for five weeks now, you should have some inkling of what you want to do with your writing.

You don’t need to have a full detailed plan, just some idea of where you’re heading. Like most goals we make in life they change over time. At this stage in the game an idea of the general direction you want to take is perfectly fine.

Crabs in a Bucket

When talking to loved ones, many of them will be happy for you and give you encouragement. However, some of them will try talking you out of writing. Most, if not all, of these negative people won’t even realize that they’re doing it.

This is what’s referred to as “Crabs in a Bucket Mentality.” When a bunch of crabs are put in a bucket, with the lid off none of them can escape. This is because while one crab tries to climb out the others grab hold and pull it back down, keeping them all trapped.

This is what some of the people that are closest to us do. They are either afraid to try something new or anything different. When the negative person hears someone saying they’re going to start a business, travel to somewhere foreign, or writing a book they immediately try to talk that person out of it and tell them how hard it will be to succeed.

How to deal with Crabby People

While you don’t have to shun them you will want to talk to them. In a very nice way you need to explain to them that this is what you’re doing and that you don’t appreciate their negative comments. They will probably tell you something along the lines of, “I’m just being realistic.”

If they keep up and don’t respect your wishes you will want to do one of two things.

  1. Distance yourself from them. (These will most likely be the people you are not close too anyway.)

Or

  1. Don’t bring up your writing when you are around them.

If you are serious about your writing and keep up with it, those who truly care about you will come around. They will stop trying to bring you down and will become some of your strongest supporters.

Week 6 Writing Program

Welcome to the Intermediate portion of the Writing Program.

First five weeks of the writing programFirst week of the intermediate writers program

Weekly Book Recommend

With each week’s post I wanted to add a little something extra and wanted to start recommending a book that I enjoyed reading.

The first book I wanted to mention is a novel most of us have already read, J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. This is the first full length novel I can remember my Mom reading to me when I was little. While I wasn’t interested in reading books, unless they had pictures in them, it’s was the first book that got me interested in storytelling. And yes, if anyone was wondering, I have read it myself once I got older.

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Writing Program: Week 5 (Stick to one project at a time)

This Week in Writing’s Writing Program consists of four sections, Beginner, Intermediate, Proficient, and Advanced, each section lasting five weeks. This week marks the last week in the Beginner section of the program.

In the last few weeks I’ve personally been struggling with trying to edit my book and write these blog posts at the same time. By trying to write two different projects at once I’ve spread myself a little too thin.

To ensure that these posts are sent on time I am dedicating the next few weeks finishing up on writing the rest of the blog posts for the Writing Program. That way I can focus solely on my book.

My recommendation to all of you is to only work on one project at a time. Learn from my mistakes so you don’t make them yourselves. Don’t try to do what I did and write multiple projects at once. Once we get further along in the program there will be more writing sessions, allowing us the ability to write for more than just one project.

On to week five of This Week in Writing’s Writing Program!

Week 5 doesn’t add any additional writing. However, it does add an additional day of exercise.

Day 29

Another day of just reading. Today try reading something you wouldn’t normally read. It’s always good to try something new. If you only prefer reading genre fiction, try reading something more literary. Only like fiction, try nonfiction. I personally try reading a little bit of everything and am always trying something new. You never know, you might find something you really enjoy.

Day 30

One hour of writing today and thirty minutes of exercising. To break up the writing, try exercising between the writing sessions.

Day 31

Read for thirty minutes. With your reading I recommend alternating between two to three types of books.

  1. A book for pure enjoyment
  2. A nonfiction book either on the craft of writing or a self-help book. These types of books can help expand your knowledge and help you look at things in a different light.
  3. A book in the genre that fits the genre of the book that you’re writing. By reading a book that is similar to yours, you can get a better sense of how to write your book. I of course don’t mean copying their story or any part of their book. By studying how someone else crafted their story can help give you ideas on how to craft your own story.

Day 32

Another hour of writing with 30 minutes of exercise. Just as Day 30, try splitting up the writing by exercising in-between your writing sessions.

Day 33

Just one session, 30 minute of writing for this day.

Day 34

The big day of writing. Four sessions, totaling two hours of writing.

Day 35

Rest day. Spend time away from the computer. Enjoy your time with your friends and family. In the next five week, the Intermediate section, there will be an additional 31.5 hours added to the writing program. So rest up, next week we’re adding an additional three hours of writing.

First five weeks of the Writing Program.




Writing Program: Week 4 (One Month of Writing Completed)

This week marks the completion of the first month of the program. One thing that can help keep you motivated during each week is to have a physical calendar hanging on your wall. As you finish each day’s schedule put a big X on that day. As you fill up the calendar with Xs a chain forms. If you Google the term “Don’t break the chain” you will find a ton of articles about a motivational technique used by Jerry Seinfeld.

Mark off each day you complete your goal.

The theory behind it, is the more Xs you have in a row the less likely you will be to break the chain. If you were to go a whole month completing ever day’s task you wouldn’t want to skip a day, breaking the chain. You would do whatever you could to keep the chain going.

As you use this or any habit setting program get out that calendar, hang it up somewhere prominent, where you will see it everyday, and mark off each day with an X.

Week 4:

Day 22

As an opposite to the 6th day of each week, being the most intense, the 1st day of the week is the most relaxed. This day is just a reading day. Don’t worry this day will soon be a writing day.

While I only list 30 minutes of reading feel free to read more. As long as you don’t subtract time from a timeframe, add as much time as you like. The times that are listed are here to help ensure that a particular amount of time is dedicated to a specific event. If you want to read, write, or exercise more by all means go for it.

Day 23

More writing has been added to this day.  A full hour, two 30 minute, of writing needs to be completed.

Day 24

No more rest days during the week. Today adds a 30 minute reading session to the program.

Day 25

Just like Day 23, this day has a full hour of the day dedicated to writing.

Day 26

A light day of writing, just one session today.

Day 27

This is the weekly long writing day. Two full hours of writing. Like all the other writing, break it up into 30 minute sessions.

Day 28

Rest Day

One thing that I have noticed is that sometime between week 3 and 4, if you are starting out as a beginner, is when the first stages of struggling to write comes in. This is where those Xs I talked about earlier come in handy. Keep up the good work. Building a good habit in never easy, but with dedication and perseverance the habit will form and soon it will become second nature.

Remember we are treating this like a new part-time job. With any new job there is the training period where we are still learning. Take this time to get used to writing in short bursts; it will make things easier when you have to write during longer writing stretches.




Time to start reading more

As I designed this writing regiment my intentions were to allow myself the ability to slowly work myself back into my writing. When I showed my wife the plan she made me realize that this program could be used by more than just writers. She has a lot of different art projects that she wants to tackle and like me she was finding it difficult to find the time to work on them. She started using this program herself.

Over the weekend I finished out the first full week, with today starting out the second week.

Week 1 Day 6

The sixth day and subsequently every sixth of the week is the day the most writing is completed in any given week. Since this was the first week it wasn’t too difficult. The day consisted of two writing sessions each for 30 minutes. So, one hour of writing for the day.

This is why I chose to begin the program on Monday. Saturdays are the best day for me to get a lot more done, so it’s the day that I want to write the most.

Week 1 Day 7

Rest day. Similar to the sixth day, every seventh day is a rest day. The seventh day is always a rest day due to the sixth always being a more heavy writing day. As weeks progress this rest day will become a much needed day.

Week 2 Day 8

Like the first day of last week there is no writing. However, there’s a new addition to the program, reading. As a writer you have to read. It’s a must. Personally I think everyone could benefit from reading more. For today, read for 30 minutes.

I personally like to alternate reading between three books, a fiction book, a non fiction book, and big book (1000 pages or more). Currently I’m reading Michael Stackpole’s Tricknomancy, John Acuff’s Start: Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average and Do Work That Matters and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Complete Sherlock Homes.

It’s important to expand your knowledge and understanding of your craft. Use this day to read something fun, or use it to research information for the project you are working on.




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Reading as a Writer

Last week I talked about how writers need to write. This week I want to discuss how writers also need to read. As writers we need to read a lot. There are several reasons why we need to be reading. We should be reading for learning opportunities, to support the writing community, and of course enjoyment. Each of these reasons for reading is equally important to us as writers.

Learning Opportunities

If we don’t read how can we be expected to write well? When we read we learn how other authors create their work. We see how they tell a story and develop their characters. When we read we have the ability to learn how seasoned authors have mastered their craft.

When we read we should make an attempt to read novels that are similar to what we are writing. We are not reading these books to make our novels sound like theirs. We never want to do that. We need to create unique stories that are our own. We should be reading to learn why these books are successful and apply what we learn into our own novels.

The book I am writing is about a young woman who travels across the country. After I finished my first draft I realized that the first 20,000 words weren’t working for the story. I kept struggling with ideas about how to make the beginning more interesting. My character just traveled from town-to-town and the story kept dragging on and on. Soon after I started working on the second draft I began reading The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub (Which I highly recommend everyone to read). I started reading this book because I enjoy reading both these authors. I had no idea what this book was about and just started reading. It must have been divine intervention that I started reading this novel; it’s about a boy who travels across the country.

I read how these two masters took their character, Jack Sawyer, across the United States. Seeing how they wrote their novel it opened my eyes to a new way to write my own story. With this new knowledge I deleted those 20,000 words and started the beginning over. While it was painful to do it was well worth it. My novel is so much better now that I made those changes.

Supporting the Writing Community

If we don’t read others’ work then why should we expect others to read ours? Karma, golden rule, whatever you want to call it, is an important principal to follow. Earlier this year at a convention I had the opportunity to hear published authors speak about writing. All the authors that were presenting knew one another and knew each others’ work. As they spoke they would reference each others’ novels as well as other authors’ writings.

Think of where you work now. While your colleagues work on different projects you probably have some inkling of what they are working on. Well, the other writers in the world are also your colleagues. We should and need to have an idea of what they are/have been working on. So we must read. After reading a book, tell people about it, get their book to sell more copies. It’s exactly what you hope happens to your own book one day.

Enjoyment

The main reason any of us read is for the enjoyment of it. Novelists write to entertain. While it is important to learn as we read, we don’t want to forget why we began reading in the first place. Enjoy yourself. Turn off your phone, curl up on the couch, crack open a book and spend an evening reading.

We get so busy in our lives that we don’t make time for reading. Since I have been focusing on editing my own book I can’t remember the last time I immersed myself in the world of a book. While it’s not a lot of time, I plan on taking 30 minutes a day and just reading.

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”

― Stephen King

It’s fun to read your favorite book over and over again or to read everything within a particular genre. Just don’t forget to expand your horizons. While I prefer reading fiction such as King and Straub I make it a point to read other types of work. I’ve read everything from classic fiction to modern nonfiction, and everything in between. It’s important to read a little bit of everything. It’s also fun when you read something that you were expecting to be boring and it turns out you just found your new favorite book.

Use the comments section to let us know what you are currently reading. If you have a topic you would like me to cover or a question you would like answered send me an email at Axeman@thisweekinwriting.com.

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