Expanding your Comfort Zone.

Habits, by definition, are comfortable. They become convenient for that very reason. If they weren’t comfortable, they wouldn’t become habits in the first place.

In the career of a creative, there is always the threat they will sink into a rut. This is where the creative will work a job, not in their field, or they will work in their field, but in a more corporate setting. Both of which are soul-crushing and will end with them in a rut. Once in the rut, a creative will end up spinning their wheels, getting nowhere.

For a creative, the rut is comfortable and soft. At least at first. The corporate job will pay the bills, the work not in the field gives the freedom to not work too much at their craft. All of this will become a habit, and habit is comforting to people.

But the rut and the habit are death spirals to creatives. They will end up with either the creative’s soul being crushed or them giving up and throwing in the towel. Either outcome is bad for obvious reasons.

However, there is a way for a creative to do soul-crushing tasks while still staying sane. For example, they can use the soul-crushing job to pay for the creative endeavor they genuinely want to do. This is hard as it takes determination and willpower to keep moving.

This will usually take the creative to expand and get out of their comfort zone to get out of their rut. It is not a natural thing for people to do, and it takes them to seek it out. The creative has to consciously make a move as it won’t just happen on their own. If they leave everything alone, nothing will change. They will blink three times and discover a decade has passed in the meantime. Staying in the comfort zone creates a complacency which hinders a creative.

What do creatives need to do?

Take on something outside of the comfort zone just cause its outside of it. Ignore the voices that say it’s not going to work. Or that it’ll end up in tears. The important part is to step up and acknowledge the need for growth. This growth will create the ability to get out of the comfort zone.

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Worldbuilding and Logic Rant

This is a ramble that I had late one night on social media. I thought it was interesting and that I should put it here.

Rant

I write my books in two main genres, which are Science Fiction and Fantasy.

The reason I do this is that they both scratch a different itch.

I enjoy science fiction cause I am a futurist. I enjoy telling stories about what I think the future could look like. I’m the type of person who wishes we had flying cars by now.

Science fiction is the question of what can happen. When it comes to creating my science fiction stories, I never choose the best choice for what could happen. This means that it is not the most probable or most straightforward. I choose what will happen based on what will cause the most conflict in the story. Conflict equals stories, and if there is no conflict, then there is no story.

I still try to figure out how to create the world, so it makes plausible sense. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it has to have some type of internal logic. Without any logic to the world, then the actions of the characters don’t make sense.

The starships should act in a certain way. Gravity still exists, and no matter where the characters are in the galaxy, they are in orbit around something. Either a moon, a planet, a star, or the center of the galaxy. The ships will act in a certain way.

I imagine it like being on the ocean. The wind and the currents dictate what a ship will do. A sailing ship has to move a specific way, or else it won’t move very fast. With diesel engines and the like, it allows ships to ignore some aspects of sailing on the open seas. Now, they don’t care what the wind does. But they listen to the currents. It is why there are shipping lanes. Having a ship go with the current saves on fuel.

In space, the same thing exists. Right now, we are in the equivalent to the sailing ship. We don’t have the energy to go against gravity and planetary movements. We have to ship things on long trips using gravity slings to get things where they need to go. If we figure out more efficient energy sources, then we may be able to take quicker routes. But like sailing on the ocean, taking routes where the aid of the gravitational force in travel will be a thing.

With fantasy, it is the question of what could have been. History is rich with stories and conflict and having some type of fantastical story set in a world that never was interesting to me. Back in my twenties, I did the Tolkein, and I had created a fantastical world complete with a map and different cultures. This was cause I was told that was the best way to do it. Create a map and peoples to inhabit said map.

I’ve refrained from doing that craziness to my later worldbuilding ideas. But there is still logic to it.

No matter what Hollywood tells us, swords won’t cut through metal armor. Battles in the middle ages resulted in very few casualties from combat. Most soldiers died of disease on a campaign than a sword blow. In battle, it was considered a massacre if ten percent of the soldiers died. Battles were about breaking the morale of the enemy, rather than slaughtering the entire enemy.  These aspects are just some of the logic used with creating a fantasy story.

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Day Late and Dollar Short

Story of my life.

But all joking aside, what I’m not short on is that I’m managing to keep up with my NaNo goals. Not the double NaNo I talked about, but I’m on progress to be able to keep up with the one and a half NaNo.

I have three main complaints at the moment. One, the NaNoWriMo site has been changed. It looks good, but its features have been nerfed. I enjoyed being able to change my daily writing when I miss the midnight deadline for the day. So for me, it looks like I write in sprints with gaps between large dumps of words. That’s not the case. I have been writing approx 2500 words a day.

Two. I still have other things to do, and I can’t write 10k words a day. My current project has me excited, and I want to keep finding out what is going on with the characters. I feel sorry for the two leads, and I hate myself for throwing them through this mess. I love it.

Three. This is not any story in my schedule. I have discovered that I didn’t write down any notes on my Felix story. Both book one and book two. As such, I have no idea what is going on. I know a bit about what is going on, but the problem is that I’m trying to wrap up the trilogy, and I have a tonne of plot threads to tie up or to hang a hat on. (I do want to write another trilogy with Felix and his Ghosts.)

What I’m doing right now is I have been taking the tiny flash fiction style short stories my classes have been forcing me to write and expanding them. So far, so good. Except the problem is that none of them are on the plan.

If you like what you are reading and wish to support me in my endeavors, please sign up for my newsletter, visit my Amazon Author Page and purchase one of my books. Or buy me a coffee. Your help and support are much appreciated.

End of October 2019 Report

As is now tradition, this is the post of the end of October. I’m still putting my money where my mouth is.

RECAP OF THE UPDATED 2019 GOALS

  1. Write 500,000 words in personal, non-school related projects.
  2. Complete and publish Felix #2, Felix #3, Des O’Neal #1, Des O’Neal #2, Des O’Neal #3, Jovian Marines #1, Jovian Marines #2, Jovian Marines #3, Mech Warrior #1, Mech Warrior #2, Mech Warrior #3.
    1. Complete and Publish VRMMORPG
  3. Correct cover for Felix #1.
  4. Write four blog posts per month
  5. Give Felix #1 and Tokyo Tempest #1 a proofread.
  6. Complete and submit to market Terran Marine Raider short #1, Terran Marine Raider short #2, and RPG Death short.
    1. Added goal: complete and submit to market, JSS Leda (New title: From Planet Everdark), secret short #2 (New Title: Rise of the Ghids) and secret short #3 (New Title: Sailing Vessel Wanderlust: the Delivery).
  7. Earn $1000.00 a month from novels.
  8. Relaunch publishing company with a new, stronger name.
  9. Get 1 client for editing services.
  10. NEW GOAL: Lose 90 lbs and get healthier.
  11. NEW GOAL: Write for 365 Days in a row of at least 100 words per day.

OCTOBER ACCOMPLISHMENTS

  1. I wrote 33,672 words.
  2. I have written for 303 days in a row.
  3. I finished writing Des O’Neal #3, now onto the next one.
  4. I passed the 400k mark in total yearly words at 422k.
  5. Working with a local cover artist for a bunch of covers for books.
  6. Finished editing Mechwarrior #1, editing my VRMMORPG story.
  7. Wrote 4 blog posts during June.
  8. Starting weight 286lbs, weight today, 274lbs. No change.

EXAMINATION OF ACCOMPLISHMENTS

  1. I wrote just over 33k words in October. This was the worst month I’ve had. It was only through willpower that I didn’t drop the ball on my word streak. And that I set the min. daily goal for 150 words. I hit the burnout wall in the middle of this month and stumbled. I can still get my 500k goal. But it’ll be hard. I still have other things to do so I’ll have to take it slow and work up to my word count. Perhaps I need to give myself permission to fail.
  2. This is still the longest days in a row I have written by far as well as the longest yearly word count. I count that as a win. My goal is to write 365 days in a row.
  3. I have news about the short Sailing Vessel Wanderlust: the Delivery, but I still have nothing that I talk about yet. I expect that I should be able to release information on it soon. 
  4. I completed the edits for Mechwarrior #1. Took me way too long, however, now I need to figure out a cover.
  5. I’m onto my VR story. I’ve made progress and it doesn’t have much in the way for plot holes, which is going to make editing easier.
  6. I’m working on using some of the short stories I have written for school as filler projects. A part of the problem is trying to pick up an old project. So I’m going to work on something small as a pallet cleanser. Perhaps use them as Patreon awards, or publish them on Amazon. Not sure yet.
  7. A local cover artist, not my wife, is working on what I am calling “art assets.” These are so my wife can turn them into beautiful covers. They will be works of art on there own but will have no titling, which is why I need my wife.
  8. My blog posts are still happening.
  9. Mt diet had ended. Counting calories had become too difficult to do. I haven’t gone up back to my old weigh, and my habit of overeating has not come back. I’m that habit down to keep my weight in check. I’m looking for a better plan to help with my weight loss.

PLAN FOR THE FUTURE

This month was the worst. But I got through it. This month is NaNo, and the steamroll towards the end of the semester. Things are looking up and I’m excited to get back at my workload. Schoolwork with five classes is hard.

Publishing wise, the big roadblock is editing, which I’m working on, and covers. Once I get those figured out, things will drop fast. It’s what got me to work faster and harder at this.

Sort plan this report. Write more. Edit more. Get covers. Do assignments.

If you like what you are reading and wish to support me in my endeavors, please sign up to my newsletter, visit my Amazon Author Page and purchase one of my books. Or buy me a coffee. Your help and support are much appreciated.

Right before NaNo. Burn out.

This is going to be a short blog post. Sorry.

Nearly 300 days into this journey and I have hit a wall. Like a freight train running at full speed.

Well. Not that bad.

A week ago, I burned out. Everything became too much and I didn’t want to do any of it. I have school things piling up, the words are slipping as I struggle with starting Felix #3. Yes, that means I have finished writing Des #3 plus trying to catch up with my editing and my NaNo goals right around the corner. It was inevitable and I’m surprised I lasted this long.

Writing nearly 300 days in a row and accumulating over 400k words written, that’s an accomplishment.

So I took some time to myself. I didn’t loose the streak. That’s still going. Barely. This month, my count is going to be very low, but I managed to keep the 150 word min. Even though I didn’t want to. I still struggle some days to get words down.

I’m taking it one day at a time. As long as I get 150 words, then the day is a success.

I will be doing another post on burn out later. Once things clear up.

If you like what you are reading and wish to support me in my endeavours, please sign up for my newsletter, visit my Amazon Author Page and purchase one of my books. Or buy me a coffee. Your help and support are much appreciated.

NaNoWriMo and Prep for Pantsers

So you are prepping for NaNo and you are a discovery writer (some call pantser), and you are wondering how you can prep a novel. Cause prepping is for outliners right? Stephen King doesn’t do much prep, why should you?

Those are some excellent questions.

For my writing, I do a type of discovery writing where I plan plot points or what I like to call beat points. These are cool scenes or important points I want to get across during the course of a novel. It might be a fight scene or an emotional point in the story.

I usually will write these down and sort them into some type of order. Sometimes I plan to write multiple interlocking stories all weaved together. These I may do per point of view character in a large chunk, then shuffle them together later once they are all done.

As a discovery writer, the main way to be successful in NaNo for most people is the prep. Create your cast of characters, even if you’re unsure of you are going to use them or not. Create a setting. People need places to sit and eat. Write about those places.

If you have an antagonist you are unsure about, write a short clip of him. You can also do the back story of your main character as well. Especially if you need to understand her. With my stories, sometimes its important to write a one thousand word short about there childhood. It doesn’t go into the novel, however, but knowing what the character went through is important.

Being only October 20th, with time still, there is time to plan and to prep. There might not be time later. Use the time wisely.

If you like what you are reading and wish to support me in my endeavours, please sign up for my newsletter, visit my Amazon Author Page and purchase one of my books. Or buy me a coffee. Your help and support are much appreciated.

Stress, the creative flow, and being an “Artist.”

Being a Creative, (my wife would say artist) I have to deal with many different forces that want to dominate my time. These can range from getting groceries, going out to shop for things we “need,” giving out discipline to my kids as needed, being a father by playing with them, being a good husband for my wife, and trying to get my work done.

All of that causes stress.

For Creatives, this stress can be interpreted in one of two ways. It can either stiffly or encourage. Too much of it causes a creative drought that hampers creatives in their artistic aims.

I’ll start with the later of the two.

Some people thrive with deadlines, daily counts, and such. They use that stress to give them a fire to get things done. They may use the line, “You’ve got to be the hardest worker in the room.”

They will have a breaking point, however. At some point, they will run into where they can’t handle things. They will break and burn out. This is different depending on the person.

For the first, some people are stifled by the least amount of stress. They can’t handle any and will quibble at things like deadlines and daily tasks.

They get things done at a slower rate than those that love deadlines. They like doing things on their own timetables. They hate being told what to do. It just causes stress.

This, of course, is a sliding scale. Some can handle more stress than others.

The important part is to recognize where you are at and how to either use it to your advantage. Or how to avoid stress to increase your productivity.

Until next time, if you like what you are reading and wish to support me in my endeavors, please sign up to my newsletter, visit my Amazon Author Page and purchase one of my books. Or buy me a coffee. Your help and support are much appreciated.

Motivation vs Discipline

Being a creative, I hear all the time that people aren’t motivated to do artistic endeavors that day. It’s a sad thing as they don’t know the difference between motivation and discipline.

Meaning of Motivation from Dictionary.com:

The general desire or willingness of someone to do something.

Meaning of Discipline from Dictionary.com:

The practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior, using punishment to correct disobedience.

So what is the difference?

Motivation is only a desire or willingness to do something. While discipline is a practice of doing something. Discipline is the reason why someone will get up at 5 am to go for a run. Discipline is why a worker goes to work for “the man,” as getting fired is the most likely punishment.

If a person is only motivated, then it is easy to put off the unwanted task. Motivation can be ignored as there is nothing behind the motivation. The second part of the definition of “discipline” is that it uses punishment to correct disobedience.

So what happens if a person doesn’t go for a run that morning? Simple, they don’t improve, and then get behind in their training. If a person is only motivated, then it’s easy to shrug it off. A disciplined person will hate the idea of not improving. A disciplined person sees a lack of training as a failure.

For me, it isn’t motivation that keeps me going each day. It’s discipline. There’s no one standing over me with a whip making me do this. I’m working so hard with my writing because I want to. It’s my choice to improve my writing, and it’s my choice to use discipline to help me make my goals.

My discipline is to keep the writing going. I have managed to write 356k words and 251 days in a row since the beginning of the year. With my blog posts, it’s the fact that I have managed to write one every week. Those three facts have kept me going, especially on days like today, where I don’t have the motivation to do anything.

On days like today, where I have no intention to do anything. Where I’m tired, grumpy, and completely and utterly unmotivated, however, I am also disciplined. I have been doing this for 251 days in a row, and I’m not going to stop now.

If you like what you are reading and wish to support me in my endeavors, please sign up to my newsletter, visit my Amazon Author Page and purchase one of my books. Or buy me a coffee. Your help and support are much appreciated.

Figuring out your Dreams

This blog post isn’t about those that have a dream. It is for those people spinning their wheels, hoping one day they will do something great. This is also a follow up on last weeks post about feeling like you aren’t able to accomplish anything, yet you are working very hard at doing so.

The last point that I made that they aren’t thinking about their future. There thinking doesn’t go beyond next paycheque. People spend there time thinking about the ‘now,’ and not how to turn the ‘now’ into a better ‘tomorrow.’

Dreams are meant to inspire and push a person to become better in some way. It may be wanting a better career, or to own property, or to get those six-pack abs. But for those people without one, it almost feels like being in purgatory grasping at straws hoping to find a way out. Or digging a hole, wondering how to get out of it with the only solution being to keep digging.

How to get a Dream?

This is the million-dollar question. It’s also a fundamental question that no one really thinks about it. Either you have a dream, or you don’t. Those who have goals don’t understand how someone doesn’t have a dream. Those who don’t have no idea how to get it.

I find that most people have some sort of dream. Something deep within themselves they want to do. It is usually something hidden and secret. The fear is that the goal is a fragile thing that will shatter if there is any sort of attention placed on it. It is, therefore, best to keep it secret and hidden.

However, a hidden dream cannot grow a tough outer shell unless it has the attention to do so. There are haters in the world; people that either want to see the world burn or are jealous of what you want. In some cases, it is cause they look down upon you and don’t think that you are going to succeed. These people usually have no problem telling you what they think.

By being open with the dream, it gives you the chance to defend that dream and realize how much you want it. Cause if a hater can talk you out of it, then how was it what you wanted in the first place. It will also show any holes in the plan. These holes need to be plugged before they fester and rot the idea from the inside out.

For those who don’t have a dream, even one deep down inside; they have never thought about it, perhaps it is time to find one. You will find that once you have decided upon a dream or a goal, the necessary discipline, and motivation to push the ball forward is easier to muster. It is easier to make sacrifices if there is a carrot at the end of it all.

This is a hard process.

The first thing you need to do, whether you have a secret goal or no goal. It is to forget about the reasons why it can’t happen. Unless your goal is a truly impossible feat like living on Mars, then ignore the reasons why you can’t do it. I’ve seen many people with severe handicaps accomplish their dreams. They do wonderful things despite many reasons why not.

There is a paralyzed sailer wanting to circumnavigate the globe. Or wounded soldiers with an outlook on life that amazes me. These two are just a small example of people accomplishing things even though they have lots of reasons not to.

With the excuses out of the way and forgotten, the next step is to look deep into yourself. Not what your family wants. Or what your mother, father, brother, sister, wife, or kids want. They are unimportant at this point. They may or may not be valuable in the future, but that’s another question. The important part is to figure out what you want without excuse on why you can’t. An unsupportive family is the most significant excuse for people.

Once you have that dream in your head, it is the time to do research. This step will never end as if it is something that you genuinely want, you may become obsessed with it. This part is also essential as the do-gooders in your life will try and chop you down. You will need to have informational support to keep you upright.

Also, it is essential to develop a plan of action on how you could achieve the goal. (But that is a subject for another post). This point it’s also time to see if it is at any way possible to accomplish. It might mean going back and rethinking things in a more realistic light or figuring out a smaller dream that does the same job. Having a desire to own a real estate empire may be out of your reach, however, owning a rental house to start is an excellent first step.

This is the point where those who already had a dream and who had been hunting for one converge. It’s time to tell someone about the goal. You’ll find those critical people in your life are going to be supportive of you. Some may not, and that’s a loss for them. If you are worried some people aren’t going to be supportive, then it may be a time not to tell the nay-sayers.

Out of all those mental steps, the critical point is to dream big without any inhibitions. Once you get to the research phase, then it will be time to see how you can accomplish the goal.

If you like what you are reading and wish to support me in my endeavors, please sign up to my newsletter, visit my Amazon Author Page and purchase one of my books. Or buy me a coffee. Your help and support are much appreciated.

End of August 2019 Report

As is now tradition, this is the post of the end of August. I’m still putting my money where my mouth is.

RECAP OF THE UPDATED 2019 GOALS

  1. Write 500,000 words in personal, non-school related projects.
  2. Complete and publish Felix #2, Felix #3, Des O’Neal #1, Des O’Neal #2, Des O’Neal #3, Jovian Marines #1, Jovian Marines #2, Jovian Marines #3, Mech Warrior #1, Mech Warrior #2, Mech Warrior #3.
    1. Complete and Publish VRMMORPG
  3. Correct cover for Felix #1.
  4. Write four blog posts per month
  5. Give Felix #1 and Tokyo Tempest #1 a proofread.
  6. Complete and submit to market Terran Marine Raider short #1, Terran Marine Raider short #2, and RPG Death short.
    1. Added goal: complete and submit to market, JSS Leda (New title: From Planet Everdark), secret short #2 (New Title: Rise of the Ghids) and secret short #3 (New Title: Sailing Vessel Wanderlust: the Delivery).
  7. Earn $1000.00 a month from novels.
  8. Relaunch publishing company with a new, stronger name.
  9. Get 1 client for editing services.
  10. NEW GOAL: Lose 90 lbs and get healthier.
  11. NEW GOAL: Write for 365 Days in a row of at least 100 words per day.

AUGUST ACCOMPLISHMENTS

  1. I wrote 49,346 words.
  2. I have written for 243 days in a row.
  3. I spent most of this month working on my VR story and have started the first draft of Des O’Neal #3.
  4. I nearing the 350k mark in total yearly words at 345k.
  5. For Sailing Vessel Wanderlust: the Delivery, Rise of the Ghids and From Planet Everdark, I have received some good news.
  6. Working with a local cover artist for a bunch of covers for books.
  7. Working on the edit for Mechwarrior #1.
  8. Wrote 4 blog posts during June.
  9. Starting weight 286lbs, weight today, 274lbs. No change.

EXAMINATION OF ACCOMPLISHMENTS

  1. I wrote just over 49k words in August. Total word-wise, it is the best that I have done this year. And once I split it into per day averages, it is one the best word counts that I have done. I managed to write a few good days of 3k words and 4k words that made up for the few bad days.
  2. This is still the longest days in a row I have written by far as well as the longest yearly word count. I count that as a win. My goal is to write 365 days in a row.
  3. For Sailing Vessel Wanderlust: the Delivery, Rise of the Ghids and From Planet Everdark, I have heard back from the three markets with some good news. Nothing that I talk about yet. I expect that I should be able to release information on it soon.
  4. I am working on editing Mech Warrior #1. It is taking longer to get it done than I’d like. Due to plot holes, I had been forced to draw a diagram of the starship. Lesson learned.
  5. A local cover artist, not my wife, is working on what I am calling “art assets.” These are so my wife can turn them into beautiful covers. They will be works of art on there own but will have no titling, which is why I need my wife.
  6. My blog posts are still happening.
  7. Mt diet had ended. Counting calories had become too difficult to do. I haven’t gone up back to my old weigh, and my habit of overeating has not come back. I’m that habit down to keep my weight in check. I’m looking for a better plan to help with my weight loss.

PLAN FOR THE FUTURE

This month was hard but good. The burnt-out feeling is still there, but I’m taking my time to read books and relax. Even though I have managed to get the words done, I have not been able to get my editing done. I find it easy to put it off. I will have to correct this in the future.

My goal is to get Mechwarrior #1 edited by September 12th. I have many other I need to get done. It is going to be more difficult as school starts up in four days as I’m taking five classes.

I did get a lot of other stuff done. However, nothing published. The hold up is covers and editing at the moment. I had one book, Missed Drop Zone, ready to go. Yet, I have decided to give it another draft as there are some minor worldbuilding holes in the story. Better to correct it now than later.

I have started to edit other works, the short stories as they come up. They are a good distraction in some ways, a poor one in others. I have the feeling that I am not going to get my goal of getting all of those stories published. I’m going to run out of time and word count. But there is always next year, as long as I have manuscripts done.

The VRMMORPG story is done. It clocked in at 108k. I didn’t go over the mark by much. I expected I would have to go over by 20k, but I only did by 8k. There are plot holes in it, but that is why second drafts and editing is for.

So the plan, work on Des O’Neal #3, edit Mechwarrior #1. Get covers complete. Get books ready to publish.

If you like what you are reading and wish to support me in my endeavors, please sign up to my newsletter, visit my Amazon Author Page and purchase one of my books. Or buy me a coffee. Your help and support are much appreciated.