Spinning the Wheels or Trying very Hard to go Nowhere.

In my honest opinion, I have the belief that having a plan for the future is essential in living the life one is given.

Having a plan, no matter how big or how small gives me direction. It allows us to have a focus that helps me dictate my efforts. This factor is important.

The most significant hamper of accomplishing goals is the feeling that you are spinning your wheels and going nowhere. This feeling is as disastrous as failing and I have heard some say that spinning your wheels is failing.

Spinning your Wheels.

Spinning your wheels doesn’t mean you are failing, however. It means a few things.

It could mean that your goals aren’t detailed enough. You have a plan and a purpose, but no daily task to do with no discernible results from that task. Let’s say that your goal is to buy a house. So you are working day in and day out in the hopes that one day you can buy said house. Three months later, it still feels like you are in the same place, or near to it at any rate.

This means that your goal may be too big, or there is no way to accomplish anything. That’s why many financial professionals say to place a small debt down first. Cause the likely hood of getting it cleared out is easier than a larger one. This victory fuels the longer harder goals.

The other thing that the feeling of spinning your wheels could be is that while you have a specific goal, there is some other force that is hampering your ability to get other tasks done.

This is what is happening to me. I’m accomplishing my daily task. I’m writing my 1500 words a day and getting editing done. So for this year, I have written for 236 days in a row for a total of 336k words. This is a great accomplishment, even if I don’t get much else done on my yearly goal. I am proud of myself that I have gotten this far.  

However, I haven’t published anything new since April. That factor hurts my self-confidence. It makes me think that I’m a failure despite the stated accomplishment above. The factors that are keeping me from ticking some of the other boxes aren’t all on me; like getting my work proofread, or a cover made up. Those factors rely on other people, and they don’t always operate on my illogical timeline. Some of the factors are on me; I haven’t been editing very fast, and I’m easily distracted by other things like video games and my family.

The biggest reason people feel like they are spinning their wheels is that they don’t have a dream or a plan. There thinking doesn’t go beyond next paycheque. They spend there time thinking about the ‘now.’ Not how to turn the ‘now’ into a better ‘tomorrow.’ This I will talk about in the next blog post.

Until then, 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.

Defining Success

After talking to many different people, especially young adults in college and university, I have found a common thread that connects them all. The thread is that none of them think they are successful no matter where they are in life.

The thing is they all have a similar view on what it means to be “successful.” Young adults think they need millions of dollars, a hot looking spouse, and a private jet. They think they need to be Mark Zuckerburg, J.K. Rowling, or Bill Gates; young adults believe they need to be filthy rich to be a “success.”

This mentality is brought out by the press and by Holywood among others. Turn on the TV or pick up a paper, and it is filled with stories about the rich and famous. They are bombarded by people who have fancy degrees and make seven figures. Young adults are told they aren’t anything unless they have those things.

It’s no wonder that large portions of young adults are on anti-depressants. Their definition of success and what is plausible are skewed.

But what is “Success?” What’s its definition?

According to Webster’s dictionary, success is the attainment of wealth, favor, or eminence. In other words: fame and fortune.

Young adults are also told that to be happy, they need fame and fortune.

Which leads us to the problem.

Young adults are told they need to be filthy rich to be successful and as such, to be happy. Which means when they discover that obtaining that fame and fortune is harder than expected that they get depressed. How can they be successful when the game is rigged?

I move that the definition of success is incomplete and reject Holywood’s ideals on what success means.

For one, I don’t think that money equals happiness. There are stories across the board of CEOs of corporations making seven figures on anti-depressants and ending up taking their own lives. I also don’t think that money necessarily makes life easier. It just makes things different.

I know many people making 70,000 dollars per year who still stress the same way about money that a friend who makes 35,000 dollars does. Their worries are different, they both make similar bad monetary decisions.

To Me.

To me, “Success” is a personal definition. The base is still the same as Webster’s Dictionary. But the precise meaning of how much wealth, favor, or eminence is a decision that each person needs to make on their own without influence by the rich and whiny.

Money is the means to an end and not “the end.” Cause money doesn’t equal happiness, and being successful doesn’t mean that you are rolling in fame and fortune.

My definition of “Success” is that I have enough money coming in that pays my bills and puts something away for retirement. That’s it. To me, that is “success.” My ultimate goal is that I make my income from writing and selling my books; by what my wife calls “wordsmithing.”

I don’t need to be as rich as J.K. Rowling or Steven King. Part of me doesn’t want that type of wealth. But that is a topic of another blog post.

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.

Disclaimer: I’m not talking down on the depressed. Depression is a big problem in society and not to be looked down upon.

Trying to find the Dieting Problem.

The hardest part is figuring out that you have a problem. The next is figuring out what the true nature of the problem is, to begin with.

A significant aspect of my life is that I’m fat. I have not hidden that fact. I may not look it, but I’m overweight. Some would call obese.

In trying to solve any problem, the first thing to do is to figure out what the problem is. Without a clear picture of what is wrong, then it is impossible to fix anything.

This is true no matter what it is that is broken. Whether it is a problem with a relationship, a car, the house or whatever. If the vehicle makes a noise that it shouldn’t, then it needs to be fixed. But. Is it the alternator? The pistons? The Clutch? Where is the noise coming from? What is the real problem?

That is like working on my novels or in this case, my weight.

What is the problem? Is it that I’m “big-boned?” Or is it genetic and I have no control over it? No. I call bullshit to those excuses.

I have to be real and call it as it is.

I’m fat cause I eat too much, too often. Period.

It isn’t the fact that I sit on a chair all day hacking at the keyboard with my ten digits. It isn’t the fact that I like pop too much and can’t enough of it.

I’m fat because I overeat food; I’m a glutton. I have a sedentary lifestyle.

Am I ashamed that I overeat? Perhaps.

It is one of the risks of my profession. The danger is that I’m going to get fat and that my weight will be what gives me future health issues.

So this brings me anxiety.

But how do I fix this problem?

Now that I know what the problem is, what do I do now?

My simple solution is to stop eating. My wife tells me that my statement is incomplete. She tells me that I have to “stop eating so much.”

I don’t know if this is going to work or not. It is hard as it is against my bad habits. I’m a glutton after all. I didn’t become a glutton cause I hate eating.

If you like what you are reading and wish to support me in my endeavours, 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.

Dealing with Failure

So my bid to lose weight has failed.

And failed hard. I’m back to 278lbs.

It’s not as bad as before at 286lbs, but it is getting there. It’s only a matter of time.

So whenever I fail at something, I do an autopsy on the situation. A court of inquiry on what happened.

Cause failure is a big part of life. We are humans, we are going to fail more times than we succeed. It’s inevitable.

So the question remains, how did I gain back over 10lbs from my low at 264lbs?

It’s simple, really. I stopped counting calories. Counting calories added time to make my food. The apps used are more suited to people who make individual meals instead of a meal for a family of four. It’s hard to keep things accurate when dishing out a bowl. I ended up guessing more times than I was correct.

After I stopped, it has become easier to eat second and fourth helpings of food. In short, I have slipped back into my old habits.

So I need a better plan than counting calories. I just don’t know what to do yet.

Any suggestions?

If you like what you are reading and wish to support me in my endeavours, 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.

The Middle

I passed the middle of the year and didn’t notice it. During that time, I have written over 280 thousand words. I have been informed that number is an achievement on its own. I have talked to other authors, and when I talk about some of my goals, the amount of words I have written is high.

But 280k is not my goal; my goal is 500k words. I’m just over halfway there.

During the process of writing a novel; there is a point in the middle of the story. This point is where the main characters have gotten past the first plot point and are slugging away towards the second plot point and the climax. 

This point is often called the “Sagging Middle,” “the Dry Desert,” “the Swampy Middle.”

It is often called this because the middle of the story is where the character must go through the try-fail cycles to figure out how to complete what I call, “the story question.” It can be repetitive and monotonous; not very fulfilling.

I’m in the middle of the middle of my goal. I have gone a grand distance by now, but I’m still nowhere near the end of my goal. It has gotten repetitive and monotonous. I spend most of my time, either writing my story or thinking about my story or editing my story. 

I know the end of my goal is just around the corner; all I have to do is to keep moving one day at a time. But one part of me wants to call it good. That I have done quite a bit and can call my goal complete.

I mean, 280k words are a lot. It’s an accomplishment on its own right?

But I’m reminded about one of my Mantras:

Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.

It means that I have to keep going. Despite the feelings to stop and say enough. Stoping implies failure. Now that I’m going, I have little choice but to keep going.

Cause I will not fail.

Better than a Broken Blackberry

GUEST POST BY BREN MACDONALD

Instagram: @BDMacDonaldPhoto

Your regularly scheduled program has been temporarily interrupted (Nathan is currently busy and I’m taking the spot. I’m not giving him an option.). My name, as the byline above indicates, is Bren MacDonald. I’m a professional photographer. When I was younger and had my head stuffed so much further up my ass than I do now, I took the cover photo for Dark Ages 2.0.

66195136_647464022399678_7886961523543769088_n(Post-apocalyptic tale of survival or cell phone repair guide, YOU DECIDE!)

Some of the blame for poor book sales belong to me.

It’s not enough to be a photo that qualifies as proficient. Good lighting, composition, and the compelling subject will all fall flat if it tells the wrong message.

So let us look at a better photo.

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I want you to take it in. Is this photo compelling? What do you see first? Where is your eye guided? Where does your eye linger?

Okay now I want you to scroll down

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Did you see the woman?

Be honest.

If you did, congratulations! If you didn’t, scroll back up and take another look.

If you still can’t find her, look in the lower right corner. Cool, eh?

Now even if you saw the hidden lady the first time you looked at the picture, chances are you didn’t see her right away. Fairly obvious, but that’s by design. I’d like to talk about how I hid the most interesting part of the picture in plain sight.

PLANNING:

I was brought on late to this project. The concept was the make up artist’s, and she’d already scouted the location. I’ve loved camouflage concepts for years, and I was excited to do one myself.

We drove to the location and then discovered a bit of a flaw in the plan. The scouting was done mid-week when the park was empty, but the shoot was scheduled for a holiday when the park was very, very busy.

This is a body paint concept. So…

PLAN B:

I suggested another location which would be less traffic’d. Upside, a wooded location with the required degree of privacy. The downside, we’re going into a new location blind with two hours of our day gone. The pressure was on me to commit to the framing for a shot that I wouldn’t be taking for FOUR HOURS.

The biggest challenge was predicting what the light was going to look when the photo was taken, knowing full well that if the light shined directly on the model the illusion would fall apart. No pressure or anything, heh.

COMPOSITION AND LIGHTING:

In any composition, your eye is drawn to the brightest part of the frame. From there, the visual lines guide where your eyes are most likely to travel. Let’s take another look at the photo.

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The trees flow to the light on the forest floor which flows to the log and right on past the area I don’t want you to see right away. My ego wishes I could take credit for the lines being created by the light, but that was serendipity.

As an added bonus, the midground has enough detail that even knowing there’s something more in the picture most people are going to be looking there instead of the foreground.

CONCLUSION:

At the end of the day, it’s a decent enough photo that people glance at it and appreciate it as a nice looking forest landscape, but it’s not electrifying. Ironically, this is probably a big reason it works as well as it does; it’s good enough to not make a casual observer think there’s something else going on, but not so much that the average audience is drawn in to look into every corner right away.

And I would say, it is a damn sight more successful at what it’s trying to do than a cracked phone on a dark blue background.

Dealing with Distractions

So most of my classes for the summer are over. I have one remaining, which runs until the beginning of August. You’d think that I’d have time to double my productivity as I have more free time.

I thought so, I made a plan on it.

In my writing endeavors, the big issue that I am dealing with now is that I have many manuscripts with a completed first draft sitting in a pile waiting to be edited. This all takes time, time which I didn’t have, and now I do right?

My brain is on summer right now. It doesn’t want to cooperate for me. It wants to play video games and watch Netflix.

My main computer is a massive time suck. Mainly Facebook and Youtube. Those two sites are one of the main reason nothing gets done until late, and I’m in panic mode. Youtube especially.

My kids are also off for the summer. They want to hang with me and do things. Outside. Like going to the beach or the skate park. Things that hamper my ability to get things done.

There has to be a solution to this problem of mine. How do I deal with the distractions?

My solution so far is to move my laptop, where I do most of my writing, to a coffee shop or library. Coffee shop costs money, while the library does not.

This solution may remove some of the distractions. At the Library, my kids can read as many books as they want at they want and I can get some work done.

It’s not the best solution, but besides turning off my internet, it is the only one I got.

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.

Making Hard Decisions

Growing up, the hardest decision that I had to make was whether I wanted to get that summer job or if I wanted to be a lazy slob watching TV on the couch.

Today, I have harder decisions to make. I’m a dad, a husband, a student, and an author. These roles have responsibilities that I have to fulfill. It is something which has to be done. I have little choice on the matter.

As a dad, I have to be there for my kids. I have to make hard decisions that will turn them into adequately adjusted adults. Decisions made about my relationship with my wife keeps me out of divorce court.

However, most of those decisions are not hard to make. They don’t take any effort on my part. Some decisions, those that cost me money or have ambiguous choices, are harder to make.

Moving down from my home town to Vancouver Island was one such decision. It was a big move that cost us a lot of money. It also put on hold any possibility of me buying another house. (House costs are average 250k up north, while a similar home on the island is 600k.) There were many possibilities on what to do. What wasn’t on the list was staying up North.

That falls under the category of keeping myself out of divorce court. My wife is an artist, always has been. Even the days when she said that she wasn’t. She wanted to go to art school. So that meant that we’d be moving. The hard decision was what city to move to.

Another hard choice was what I wanted to do after I got laid off from my day job. Go back to school, or get a laborer job making less than what I was before with longer hours and not seeing my family. I chose to go back to school. I was tempted to get a business degree. However, I chose to go to the creative writing route.

The decision was hard to make. It took me all weekend to make it, I then signed up on the last week before the cut-off ended. It was a mad dash to get my paperwork into the school.

So how did I make these hard decisions?

The first thing is to remove emotion from the equation. Emotions don’t help anything. They cloud your judgment, and it is a well-known fact that people making decisions based on emotions are always wrong.

For me, I take a piece of paper, and I write the decision on the top. ‘Go back to school for Creative Writing.’

I then split it in half for Pros and Cons. I give a numeric value to each pro and con on how big of an issue it may be. ‘Being off work’ was high at a nine, as well as ‘getting student loans.’ I added up both column, and some simple math later showed a number.

This allowed me to compare the different decisions on what I wanted to do.

It is, however, biased as you are rating your own decision. It will tell you what you already know and want. But it will put things into perspective for you. So you can try to see the whole picture.

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.

Mantras: An Update. Part Two.

I use the term Mantras as I don’t know what else to use. To me, they are sayings of philosophies that help keep things in perspective. They help remind me when my motivation or philosophy is flagging.

The first one in this series is:

If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough.

I believe that you need to dream big to succeed. Then if you don’t complete your goal, you will find that you had accomplished so much. I think the saying is that if you aim for the moon because if you miss, you will find yourself amongst the stars.

And that is what I am going to do. I am dreaming big. It scares me. I will pull my socks up and not let the years roll by and then wish to myself that I had done so.

The way to do that is to make yourself better one day at a time. Read a book, cause the next day you will be that much smarter. Work out, cause you will be stronger. For me, it is writing my stories. Cause one day, the story will be finished, published. It is a long process, but it all has to start at one point.

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.

This can be broken up into three parts. The first means that just because you find success in one task, doesn’t mean you can rest for the second task. Life is an endurance game after all, and it is keeping up the pressure from one day to the next; one task to the next that keeps success final.

The second. Failure is not fatal. When a person fails at something; the world has ended. This comes crashing down, the world burns.

Except that it hasn’t. Failing at one task, within reason, doesn’t end a career. It doesn’t mean that an author or creative should burn all of their work cause they messed up on one piece. There is the next piece; learn from the mistakes and move one.

The last part of the piece is to not let the outcomes of the past affect your presence. Yes, learn from it. But afterward, forget. Don’t let the embarrassment of the failure mean you don’t try again today. And, don’t let the one successful piece go to your ego. That will make you slake off on the current work and cause the second piece to fail.

Other than death, all defeats are psychological.

People fail, and this saying deals with that. When we fail, the most harm that happens is not physically. (Assuming death is not the consequence.) We are harmed psychologically by ourselves. We are our own worst critic and many times see the bad in every situation. We think people laugh at us, cause we want to be accepted. Failure and defeat mean a lack of acceptance from our peers.

This goes in hand with the previous sayings. Don’t give up because of one failure. Keep going and try again. The greatest harm is stopping and not giving up on your dream.

I have a few more to go over, but those will have to wait for next week. Until then, if you like what you are reading and wish to support me in my endeavours, 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 May 2019 Report

As like the post for the end of January, this is the post of the end of May. I am still putting my money where my mouth is.

RECAP OF 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, secret short #2 and secret short #3.
  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.

APRIL ACCOMPLISHMENTS

  1. I wrote 43,055 words.
  2. I have written for 151 days in a row, which is also at the approx one-third mark in the days of the year.
  3. I spent most of this month working on short stories and not on longer fiction.
  4. I have started the first draft for a new story.
  5. I have passed the 40% mark in total yearly words at 210k.
  6. Edited the short story with a working title called the JSS Leda and submitted it to market.
  7. Working with a local cover artist for a bunch of covers for books.
  8. Completed edited Jovian Marines #1.
  9. Wrote 4 blog posts during May.
  10. Starting weight 286lbs, weight today, 268lbs.

EXAMINATION OF ACCOMPLISHMENTS

  1. I wrote just over 43k words in May. It is better than the last two months. I have managed to pull off a couple really good days that have helped bolster my poor days.
  2. This is 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.
  3. I have first drafted another short story. A secret project that I will keep secret for now.
  4. I am working on editing my secret project.
  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. The edits of Jovian Marines #1 are completed. It just have to get a cover and I can publish it. As soon as I get it back from a proofreader.
  7. My blog posts are still happening. Even when I forget.
  8. I have been on this new diet for a month now. My energy is high, however, I crave chips.

PLAN FOR THE FUTURE

This month was hard at some points, and stressful at others and flowed when it did. A new semester at school has started so new courses to distract me. I did get a lot of other stuff done. However, nothing published.

With Missed Drop Zone finished edited this month, I need to start editing other titles. However, figuring out a good editing schedule is difficult at best. I will figure it out. Having them first drafter is a feat on its own.

The VRMMORPG story listed above is an oops. I didn’t intend to start another story, however, it is flowing. I like the characters, I like the plot. I am hoping to keep this a stand-alone. It is me though. I tend to write long stories.

So the plan, work on VRMMORPG, edit other novels. Get covers. Get books published.

If you like what you are reading and wish to support me in my endeavours, 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.