Friday Links: On Taking Over the (Writing) World

Happy Friday, everyone! As January winds down, it’s a good time to take a quick look at some of those goals you set at the start of the year, just to make sure you’re still on track. I know it can be difficult once the holidays are over to keep your plans in mind, especially when your boss and your family have goals of their own that often involve you. Make it a habit to check in with yourself pretty regularly so you don’t forget that your goals are a priority, too.

And with those words of wisdom, I want to give everyone a heads up that this blog will soon be migrating to a designated URL — one of my goals for the new year (and long overdue). Everything will stay live here until I’m satisfied that the new site is up and running properly, with the links functioning and so on, and then there will be a forwarding message to take you to the new location. So don’t be surprised if things look a little different on a near-future visit.

But enough of all that. It’s time for Friday Links! If there’s a theme this week, it’s world domination — at least the world of books. I hope these encourage you to get out there and read and write great things, ignore the naysayers, and take risks with your career. The only one who can do it is you.

14 Secret Habits Every Book-Lover Is Guilty of Having – I know I am. Particularly the one about buying pretty new editions of books I already own.

Diversity Is Not Enough: Race, Power, Publishing – A look at how very white the publishing industry still is behind the scenes, and how that affects the diversity of books.

World’s First Free Online Course Dedicated to the Exploration of Literature and Mental Health – Sounds very interesting. Starts Monday, Feb. 1, so get a move on if you want to join.

CTRL-F, DELETE: Word-Trends, Sneaky Clichés, and Other Turns of Phrase You Should Immediately Delete from Your Manuscript – A look at recent trends in incorrect or overly frequent word usage.

What Was Lost? Why Writers Should Value Their Working Drafts – How digitalization has changed the writing — and rewriting — process and what that means for posterity.

Talking Black History and Love Stories with Romance Writing Pioneer Beverly Jenkins – A great interview looking at historical research, diversity in the romance genre, and how Beverly Jenkins got her start.

Why Writers Are the Worst Procrastinators – An intriguing theory, with a bit of a push for all of you putting off getting your words down.

Opportunities for Writers: February and March 2016 – A list of contests and calls for work with deadlines coming up in the next two months.

Research Is Just Another Word for Procrastination: Day 8 of the Challenge

How do you write a book? One word at a time. The reality is, there’s no one correct way to write. Every writer has their own approach, their own habits, their own tricks to get the ideas flowing or to combat writer’s block. But the one thing pretty much everyone can agree upon is that you need to sit down and do it. Staring into space may be great for idea generation, but it won’t actually get the book written. Research can be helpful, both to inspire story twists and to flesh out details, but spend enough time researching and you’ll never write the book.

So on this eighth day of the December Writing Challenge, I’d like to leave you with this thought. There are many tasks involved in writing a book, including dreaming up the plot, researching the ins and outs of your setting and characters, and perhaps dusting off your keyboard before you start to type. But you don’t need to know every moment of your story to start writing. You can (and should) research many details after you have an initial draft. And cleaning up your workspace beyond gaining access to your computer and your chair can be done once you’ve put in your time for the day.

Writerly procrastination is still procrastination. Go write.

Friday Links

Happy Friday, everyone! I hope you had a good week and that your weekend is shaping up to be even better. It’s been pretty busy around these parts, but I’ve still managed to pull together a few links to entertain you and, I hope, give you some writing ideas. Time to ramp up that creativity! Enjoy, and happy writing.

Alan Moore Finishes Million-Word Novel Jerusalem – For the record, this is ridiculously long, and he can only get away with this (possibly) because he’s Alan Moore. Do not attempt this until you are super successful and famous.

How to Stop Putting Things Off and Make Yourself Get to Work – Having a little procrastination problem? Everyone does at some point. Here are some tips to work around it.

The Piebrary – This clever blogger is combining a love of literature with a love of baking. She posts delicious-looking dessert recipes every other week, tied in with books she’s read, including a brief explanation of the connection.

When Writing Well Is Part of the Problem – Novelist Elliott Holt reflects on a lesson in letting go and being a bit less “perfect” in her writing.

The gorgeous handwriting and book-crammed office of Laird Hunt – The author of Neverhome, out this month, allowed his publisher, Little, Brown, to share photos and thoughts regarding his writing space.

Friday Links

Happy Friday, and for those of you in the US, happy Labor Day weekend! It’s already pretty quiet in my neck of the woods, and I know a lot of editors have already headed out, if the out-of-office messages that started creeping up Wednesday are any indication. It’s the last gasp of summer, at least from a work perspective, and everyone’s making the most of it.

My plans include some actual work, likely tomorrow, depending on how much I can power through today, followed by a BBQ with friends and a stack of personal reading. I might even read out on my balcony if I can muster the energy to sweep the darn thing. Whatever you have on the schedule, I wish you a wonderful weekend, and I hope you manage to squeeze in some reading and/or writing time.

But first, I have links to share! Some reading suggestions in here, in case your weekend plans involve a beach or pool, a lounge chair, and a shady umbrella. Enjoy!

21 of the Best British Sci-Fi Writers You’ve Probably Never Heard Of – Chances are you actually have heard of most of these, especially if you read within the genre already, but it’s still a great list and I hope it inspires you to check out some new books.

Opportunities for Writers: September and October – A list of contests and calls for work with September/October deadlines.

An Interview with Elissa Schappell – A wonderful interview excerpt where Schappell talks about all the hats she wears (editor, reviewer, writer) and how on earth she gets so much done. (Complete interview in issue 15 of Slice.)

How to Stop Putting Things Off and Make Yourself Get to Work – We all procrastinate on some level. Some great tips on how to get on with it already.

25 Must-Read Books for Fall – If you’re looking to get a jump on your fall to-read list, here’s a great starting point. Nice diverse set of titles.

No Such Thing as Perfect

Procrastination is like a virus. It lays you low, keeps you from getting anything done, and spreads like wildfire since, when we procrastinate, we often distract others in our effort to avoid whatever we should be doing. Procrastination is the writer’s enemy, and is often tied to this concept that we need just the right conditions in order to write. You hear writers bemoan the lack of a dedicated writing space, the noise level in their homes, the distractions of every day life. And yes, I’ll acknowledge that it’s occasionally necessary to do the laundry and take out the trash, and that the kids can turn up their stereos too high. But there is a difference between living your life, and using your life to avoid your writing.

No one has perfect writing conditions. That’s just reality. Even if you get to be a multi-title bestseller and can afford nannies and cooks and people to take your packages to the post office for you, there will be something vying for your attention and encouraging you not to write. Life gets in the way, no matter how much help you have. So, that fantasy that occasionally overtakes you? The one about the perfectly appointed desk in your private office with the lovely-but-not-at-all-distracting view and the quiet, inspirational background music? Get over it right now. Perfection is a myth, and if you wait for the perfect moment to write, you’ll never get anything done.

I can extend this example through all the levels of your potential writing career, of course. The book will never be perfect — just as good as you can get it. There is no perfect book deal or perfect career arc. You work hard and take advantage of as many opportunities as you can, and when they don’t appear you keep working and make them happen. But all that requires that you start somewhere. That you start writing and keep writing, every day, even if you can only steal 15 minutes. Don’t wait for the perfect situation to write. Just go do it.

No Guilt, No Excuses

Hello, writers! How are we all doing today? In my neck of the woods, it’s sunny but cold (42 degrees) for Southern California, so I have the heat on and a huge mug of hot tea on my desk. I’ve gone through e-mail, sent out a few Tweets, and now I’m here to nudge you all into activity.

For those of you engaged in my writing challenge for the month, we’re on day six. How’s that working for you? Everyone still writing every day? Just a little bit counts, though I suspect more than a few of you have realized that once you sit down and get going, it’s much easier to stay there and write a little bit more than it was to get started in the first place.

However, I suspect a few of you have already missed a day. It happens, I get it. December is a crazy, busy month, and life is hectic even at the best of times. So I’m here to tell you how to handle those slip ups, because try as you might, they will happen, whether it’s during the challenge this month or some other time. And yes, I gave you two free days out of 31, but we’re early in the month still, and I suspect you already know what days you would like to take off.

Here’s the deal: No Guilt, No Excuses. That means, if you miss a day of writing, don’t make excuses about it, but don’t feel guilty either. It happened, it’s over, move on and write the next day.

Unless you have a book contract with a looming deadline (in which case you probably have an editor’s and an agent’s expectations in mind), you don’t answer to anyone but yourself. So shaming and scolding yourself over missing a day’s writing won’t impress anyone, and it might make you feel bad enough that you have a hard time getting back in the swing. Likewise, there’s no point making excuses. Who are you making them to? You know if you were legitimately too busy or if something important came up that you decided was worth giving up your equally important writing time. You also know if you were just feeling lazy or if you let yourself get caught up in something else when you really should have been putting pen to paper. You know. So move on, and get writing. If you want it, make the time, make it a priority, and write.