Ramblings: A story of how I manage to write novels while living with children

So I am a dad. More specifically, I am a father of two. I have a six year old boy named [REDACTED] and a five year old girl named [REDACTED].

My kids are great. I am not sure how it happened, but these kids are nothing like I was as a child. I was the child playing in the mud, ALL the time. I didn’t want to be inside the classroom, I wanted to be outside playing. I had multiple run ins with the Special Needs Teacher because they thought that I had a learning disability. It was just that I didn’t care, I knew the stuff, and I passed all the tests that they threw at me.

What can I say… I wanted to be outside.

My kids, however, love learning. They love doing things that expand their minds. My son, [REDACTED], loves science, math, and reading. He plays the piano and he practices for a couple hours a day. He is in grade one and is currently reading the 2nd book of Harry Bloody Potter. My daughter is a dancer and loves reading and drawing. She is the arty one out of the two of them.

Me? I have been writing for as long as I can remember and  I am pretty prolific. Not to brag…but I have a pretty high word count (more than some writers that I know). I manage the word count by writing whenever that I can. I  don’t have an office… I write my works in the middle of the living room  (which acts more like a study).

Often I find myself writing to the sound of Paw Patrol. (If you are a parent, you know what I am talking about. If you are not. Google is your friend. Watch a bit of it.) Thank God it is not Cailliou.

Now that you know the back story, I can tell you what is going on with my writing.

My son loves watching me write. He’ll sit beside me on the couch and watch me hack away at the words appearing on the screen. Now that he is reading Harry Potter, he is able to read what I am writing.

Word for word.

That makes writing sex scenes a little harder at times…

About 3 months ago, my son approached my with a bundle of printer paper, folded in half and stapled together. He was going to make a book. I encouraged him, and told him to write away. It didn’t last long. He got bored with it. He is six.

A couple weeks later, I caught him sitting on my laptop, on Scrivener trying to open a new project. He still wanted to write a book. He wanted to write with the keys as it looked easier.

He wanted to do what I do. I write novels, so he should too.

At that point I knew that there was nothing that I could do to get him not to write something. That’s not my way as a parent. I don’t believe in putting up road blocks to get my kids not to do something that I may find annoying, but isn’t harmful to anything but my sanity. (Sanity abandoned me on the roadside ages ago. It went on strike due to poor working conditions.)

And having [REDACTED] work on creative pursuits is not harmful in anyway. He isn’t climbing and jumping out of trees. Or eating mud. Or hitting his sister with sticks.

Like I did at his age. (Although, all but the hitting are still good past times)

So there was no way (in good conscience) that I could tell him no. He is too young. Or whatever lame excuse that I could come up with to get him to leave me alone so I can get another thousand words down.

My solution to this problem: Encourage him more. That’s right, I kept encouraging him, The same thing that got him wanting to write a book in the first place.

Now…My son, being six, has the writing skills of a six year old. He is advanced in sentence structure, but not that advanced… He is six…So I decided to do a collaboration with him. I sat him down and we started to brainstorm a story…

He decided the genre.

The setting.

The plot.

He named all of the characters.

All I did was be a guiding hand to keep it somewhat logical. I am the one that does all of the writing, but my son is the one that is in charge of the plot. We are constantly brainstorming ideas.

The book, temporarily named ‘Space Courier’ is now being written as a serial. Each book will be 25k in length, and we plan on 6 books for the first season.

That’s right. He wants multiple seasons.

In conclusion. I have created a monster.

May God have mercy on us all…



 

Late night blurb: Work stopages

So every writer experiences this. Times when it is hard to get any word count down. Times when it feels like you are trying to squeeze water out of a sponge. Well, today was one of those days.

I still managed to get 500 words on my Space Courier book and I edited 30 pages of my Culture Shock book. Not bad for a night that I managed to get writing at 10pm.

What happened?

At 6pm, for some reason I got grumpy. I am not sure 100% why, but I did. Maybe it was my two kids not listening, or maybe the house was too hot. But then once I got grumpy, I stayed grumpy cause I was grumpy that I had gotten grumpy in the first place. Not a good cycle to be in. Once I was grumpy, I couldn’t write. I was too grumpy.

How did I get out of it?

I relaxed. I stopped worrying about writing down words. I had a snack, some tea. And then I managed to pick up work once more.

Was it that easy?

No. I also decided that I wasn’t going to be grumpy anymore. I made a choice in my mind and then I made it happen. I took back control of emotions and I went with it.

Will this work for you?

Maybe. The big thing to remember is to remind yourself that you are the boss of your emotions. Not the other way around. You get angry when you need to be and you are inspired when you need to be. Sometimes really strong emotions, like anger, will interrupt you and take you for a ride. They will run wild and not let you off.

As an adult and a productive creativeblo person, it is up to you to take control. Figure out what sends you into those grumpy spells and what makes you inspired. Then do more of it.

No one is going to write that book but you and if you don’t keep at it, then it won’t get done and we need that fiction. If you send it to me, I will beta read it and put a review on the website of your choice. Just saying.

Late night blurb: Progress as a writer

So the novel that I am pushing to get published was written eight years ago. It has been edited a half dozen times. It is about a group of friends and strangers and there experiences of what happens when technology fails to a solar storm.

I have written another novel that I wrote for the latest NaNoWriMo. I posted a small sample of it in an earlier blog post. I printed it out and I am now reading through the story. I am on page 73 of 264. This book is ten times better than the rag that I wrote before.

They are both disaster stories.

They are both about surviving the end of the world as they know it.

This story gives me hope. Hope that I am actually getting better and not just speaking out my ass in these blog posts and on facebook. I read the novel, and while there was and is some plot holes, weak dialogue and over all spelling errors that need to be filled and fixed. The story itself is not bad. It is interesting. I am excited.

Until next time.

Diets

So tonight I am going to talk about something completely different than normal. I am going to talk to you guys about keeping healthy while doing a sedentary job like writing a novel.

I spend my days sitting at a computer hacking away at work. Essentially I fly a desk. No field work for me. Which was how I kept in shape before I got out of field work.

I am 6 ft tall. According to the infamous Body Mass Index, I need to weigh in at 183 lbs. I normally weighed in on average 225lbs when I was in the field. It fluctuated wildly depending on what I was doing that week.

When I started flying desk at work I quickly went from the average 225lbs and then in two years I topped out at 275lbs. Ouch. Stretch marks and a big gut.

I started exercising and played around with my diet. But not much. I dropped to 269lbs in 4 months time. I eventually gave up and stopped going to the gym. My diet went back to what it was before.

So Feb. 1st of this year, my wife and I started what is called a Paleo Diet. Which, in a nut shell is cutting gluten, dairy, and additional sugar. We did it as a 28 day challenge.

That essentially means that we became vegetable loving carnivores for the month of February.

No sugar moved a lot of our staple foods out of our diet. Gluten did the same. Dairy was the easiest as I didn’t drink much milk before hand. I went a month without going to a fast food joint.

The results was amazing. I am now under 250lbs. Today I weighed in at 248 lbs. That is a change of 21lbs in a month. I look trimmer, have more energy than I did before. And I now drink my coffee black. That’s right. I have joined the crazy insane club of black coffee drinkers. A month of no sugar has essentially turned off my sweet tooth. I don’t crave pop or candy anymore. I may indulge one day, but it is one candy. I don’t pig out and drink an entire 2L of pop in a single sitting.

I added no exercise to my daily routine. The only thing that changed was my diet. That is it.

Am I a health professional? No. Far from it. This is just my experience. I got results. You may not. If you experience changes to your body as you write, you may have to make a lifestyle change. I did. I am happy for it.

Ideas and advice

If you want to write novels, then treat it like it is a job. You have to write and get your word count in.

Now to write a novel, it comes from a single idea. I usually start my ideas from a single image or a ‘what if’ question. ‘What if you were vacationing in Tokyo when a society collapsing event took place.’ Or an image of a really cool character. Author Brandon Sanderson wanted to write a story about a guy with a magical beater sword. He wrote his Stormlight Saga Novels from that single thought.

First. Find that really cool idea. Don’t worry about where you are inspired from. Don’t worry if it has been done to death.

Second. Start to ask questions about that idea. Who, what, where, when, why and how. Create your characters, create a conflict. Create a world if necessary. If you need to, write it down. I do recommend writing it down at some point before you forget details. This is where you take that blah idea that has been done before and turn it into something of your own.

Third. Step two takes time. You may find that the idea is hogwash and full of holes. If so, file away and move on. I have about a new idea a week. Most never get written down as they are bad. But once every few months, I have a grand idea that is beautiful. It gets written down and filed for later use. (I have three projects on the go at some point of completion with about a dozen ideas in note books for later use. Kinda like Skyrim Quests.)

Fourth. Plot out your novel. If you are an outliner, outline. Or whatever. Plan the novel. Where is it going? How are you going to get the character from point A to B? What are some of the trials and tribulations that he must overcome? Even discovery writers do this.

Five. Write. Every day. NaNoWriMo style. Go to http://writetrack.davidsgale.com/pls/apex/f?p=228:LOGIN:::::: It is a free tracking site that gives you that chart like NaNoWriMo. I don’t think that it is supported anymore, but I can’t find one that is. I use it though.

Six. (Should be done throughout in my opinion, but whatever) Read. Study. Read books on writing. Read fiction. Listen to podcasts about writing. Watch webinars.

Write like it is not only a job, but a way of life. Getting good at writing isn’t about writing one novel. It is about the process. It is about writing the novel. Polishing the novel. And completing the novel. Over and over again.

A painter didn’t paint one painting and have it a masterpiece. neither do novelists. Write lots. Write many books. And don’t obsess over the one. Learn when it is good enough. Learn when to stick it in a trunk and to walk away.

David Eddings once said to become a writer you must write a million words. Then to burn them. Then you can be a writer.

In conclusion to my rant, plan your book. You can’t just pick it up cold you have to plan it.