I posted yesterday that I started a new job working for Penguin Random House. Except I didn’t. Which I clearly state in the second paragraph. Yet I still got multiple people to congratulate me on the new job. Don’t be that person. If you’re going to comment on something, then take the extra thirty seconds to actually read it.
I want to be honest here. It is not always easy coming up with quality topics for posts on here each and every day. And sure I could always go back to a strict schedule of posting five days a week, but I really have no desire to do that. So I’ve decided to test out having other writers post on here instead.
This is not a call for guest posts. You won’t be a guest blogger for a random post to be published at my convenience. This is something I’m hoping will become more permanent for anyone interested. The thing about this is that you probably already have your own blog, right? You’ve probably worked really hard on just about every aspect of it like I have mine. That’s fine. I’m not asking you to abandon that, I’m simply offering you this space to use as your own.
Let me tell you what I am and am not looking for.
- Your post should always have a bookish/writing element.
- There will be no book reviews.
- You will not have to run topics by me.
- Posts will always publish at my usual posting time. Make sure you know what it is!
- I need to be familiar with you. If you just happen upon this post and I’ve never seen you around here and I don’t read your blog, then you likely have no chance of being selected.
- There will never be multiple posts published on the same day.
- You will need to demonstrate that you reply to comments. Some bloggers never reply and just Like them. That won’t be acceptable.
- Rants welcome.
- I’m not looking for anyone to copy and paste posts from their blog.
- You will not have a minimum or maximum number of posts expected from you.
I think that’s it. Now all you have to do is let me know that you’re interested in the comments. Then I’ll click your name and check out what you’ve been blogging about. I have no idea if anyone will even be interested, but all I can do is offer.
I think it goes without saying that you will not be paid for any posts published on here.
I’m looking for one, maybe two people.
Interested? Let me know!
On this day in 2014 I published A Change of Plans.
We’ve all felt it at one time or another. The story loses its shine and you’re left with a half-completed story. Why does this happen, and how do you continue?
For a lot of writers, this is the mid-point of the story, but truly, it can happen at any point. I want to focus on something entirely different from “writer’s block”; this topic regards when you know what to write next, but you just don’t feel like doing so.
“Of course, motivation is not permanent. But then, neither is bathing; but it is something you should do on a regular basis.” – Zig Ziglar
The cursor blinks at you, nudging you to continue typing, but the combination of your eyes drooping and the itch to do something else feels overwhelming. You’ve already procrastinated enough today. Your bedroom can only be cleaned so many times, and you’ve already checked Facebook, Twitter, and your email twice in the past half-hour.
“Discipline is choosing between what you want now and what you want most.”
You’re a writer. You know how to get the job done; it’s the motivation that’s lagging. Let’s look at some different factors.
Your story no longer excites you
For me, this usually happens just on the other side of the midpoint, roughly 55% into the book. About then, I usually start envying short story writers. It’s when the thrill of the beginning and even the spike of the midpoint event wears off, and I have to begin laying the ground work for the finale, but it’s not yet to the exciting build-up for the ending climax.
Wherever it normally happens for you (and it could change from story to story), it can be a trial. Why does it happen? Here are a few possibilities:
- You’ve already thought of the next story, and you’re more interested in starting the new one than finishing the current one
- You hit a plot snag and aren’t looking forward to unraveling it
- You realize that your story idea might not be as interesting as you thought it was
- Self-doubt creeps in
- Life got in the way of writing, and you’re not as emotionally connected
- Something as simple as: it’s just not new and shiny anymore
The first one gets me every time.
To remedy many of the above, you could take a short break from writing to read your story from the beginning as if it was a finished product. Oftentimes, that brings about the romance for writing this particular piece again.
Whenever I daydream about the next project, I jot down all my ideas onto a pad of paper, but I promise myself not to start writing it until the current project is finished. That way, I have a treasure trove of tidbits to work on by the time I do transition.
Also, take a look at your writing schedule. If you wait until you have 4+ hours to write, try writing more often but in smaller chunks. It could be your method of attack that’s holding you back.
“Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.” – Jim Rohn
Mainly for me, I had to come to grips with the concept that at some point in the book, it would be a chore to continue. Perhaps other authors aren’t this way, but that’s how I operate. I had to wean myself from the mysticism that I have to be in constant love with a story to write it. 100% of the time, when I go back to polish what I had to prod myself to finish, the magic is there again.
Whether you reluctantly write and later polish with passion, or you passionately write and later reluctantly polish, in the end, the reader can’t tell the difference. Either way, a quality product is completed. But if you wait for passion to do anything, the project will likely get done much, much later.
“What I adore is supreme professionalism. I’m bored by writers who can write only when it’s raining.” -Noel Coward
Just plain don’t feel like it
To me, this is another thing altogether. This could be due to some of the reasons above, but largely affected by mood, hunger, emotional state-of-mind, how restful I am, etc. Here are some things that I do to warm-up to writing when I don’t feel like it. In advance, don’t judge me.
- I go into a different room (dependent on a portable writing apparatus). I read a study once that changing rooms resets the mind, but for whatever reason, it seems to help.
- Reading some of what I wrote the day before to get me in the mood. This usually does the trick, for me.
- I listen to music. In my Writer’s Toolbox, there are two of my favorite picks of music to listen to while I write.
- I have a small spray bottle of water, and I occasionally spray myself in the face. This is used when I am tempted to curl over my laptop and take a nap. This is the “don’t judge me part,” if you were wondering. So, yes, my method for staying awake is the same as the punishment for your cat for eating the houseplant.
Similar to what I mentioned in the last section, usually when I don’t feel like writing, I do it anyway. There are a few times that I succumb, but I usually remind myself that people can’t tell their boss that they don’t feel like working, which is something Janci Patterson also mentioned in my interview with her.
Everyone has a different method. All these suggestions might work for you, or perhaps none of them will. The key is to experiment with what motivates you to write, so that you can get one step closer to your writerly goals.
One year ago today my name was announced as I walked across the stage at the Spring Commencement of the University of Houston Downtown. Before we get into what I’ve done in the 365 days since that wonderful day, let me tell you all a little about it.
I woke up extremely early. Around six. Guys, this may be regular for some of you, but I do not EVER wake up this early. I ate a rather large breakfast because the ceremony wasn’t set to begin for another four hours, and then I wouldn’t get to eat for several more after that. Then I did the only thing I could. I got ready.
About five hours later the name John Raymond Guillen, Cum Laude, was announced. I know this happens a gazillion times every year in America, but I came so close to crying on stage in front of about 1,000 graduates and like 20,000 friends and family members. It wasn’t because it was unexpected. Or because I was the first of eight siblings to make it to this day. It was simply because I’d done it. I had maybe 25-30 family members and a few friends there for me. But only three friends went to our little lunch get together afterward, and I told them I’d never forget that they were there. Because it turned into a 13-14 hour day for everyone involved. Mercedes, I love you. Grant and Nathan, same goes for you guys.
I didn’t cry during the ceremony. Or before. It wasn’t until I started reading all the graduation cards I’d gotten that I finally did. I was graduating from college and it was writing that got me to cry. Now let’s see what I’ve done since then.
I wrote a book
This is definitely something to be proud of. The day I received my author proof is still probably the second best day of my life. Behind graduation up there. And the only things that could even come close to it that may be happening within the next decade or so are my wedding day, getting an agent, and getting a publishing contract.
I started a blog
Starting a blog isn’t significant in itself, it’s the people I’ve met from blogging. You all might think I’m crazy, but I seriously love you all. Did I ever think I’d be approaching 1,000 followers, ever? No. Did I ever think I’d talk to so many great people just about everyday? No. I could name like ten of you guys who I thoroughly enjoy talking to, but I don’t want to embarrass anyone. BUT I want to name one. Mahrukh. Oh my goodness. Could you imagine if I’d never started a blog? Then I wouldn’t have found yours. Then we wouldn’t talk. I mean, it’s almost scary. I’m lucky. And so are you. 🙂
But that’s it. I wanted to have so much more by the time this day arrived. I was supposed to have my second book written by January 1. I was supposed to finish writing my current WIP and have another book written by the time 2014 came to an end. I was supposed to be working toward getting an agent by now. But I’m not. And I don’t think I have the time to write another book once I finish the one I’m working on. And I don’t know anything about agents or query letters or anything.
I’m not going to sit here and act like I’m completely disappointed with myself. I’m not. I just wanted more from the last 365 days than I’ve gotten. I need to get with it. And soon. I don’t want 2014 to end up being the year of accomplishing nothing.
I’ll leave you with some pictures.