The Importance Of Getting Started

What’s up guys?

Today, I thought I would talk a little about the importance of getting started.

But first, a little about what’s been going on with me.

As you may know if you watched my last apology video, I had a minor wound on my right leg that became infected. I didn’t think much of it and made a doctor’s appointment. By the morning of my appointment, I was feeling dizzy. When I got up on the exam table, I started seeing bright flashes. Long story short, the infection had gotten into my blood and I was nearly septic. Luckily, we managed to control the infection with antibiotics or I would have been hospitalized.

Needless to say, I haven’t gotten much writing done in the last couple of weeks, which is really starting to worry me. At the beginning of July, I’m going to New York for Thrillerfest and Pitchfest. Pitchfest is the main reason I’m going. Sandra Brannan, author of the Liv Bergen Mystery Series and the director of Pitchfest, described it to me as “speed dating with agents”. You get a few minutes to pitch your book, the agent lets you know if he’s interested, then you move on to the next one. I was really excited about going. I still am actually. But I’m also scared. I only have about two full months left and I don’t even have a completed first draft. If I have any hope of having something presentable by July, I’ve really got to start busting my ass.

And that leads me to today’s main topic. Getting started. See what I did there?

So anyway. Getting started. Now I’m not going to tell you how to get started. It’s something I haven’t even begun to master yet. I just know that getting started is the important thing.

Hopefully, since you’re watching this video, you’ve already started your path to becoming a writer. If not, DO IT! Even though I still have a huge problem with procrastination, I know that getting started is the hardest part. I will sit, staring at a page for hours, thinking of all the things I wold rather be doing. Which is funny, because writing really is my favorite thing in the world. Once I’ve finished for the day, especially if the writing was good, there’s no greater high. Sure, I’m usually exhausted and feel like I’ve just run a marathon with my brain, but the high of having created is better than any drug.

So then why, when I sit down to write, does it seem like everything in the world is more important? I have no idea. Suddenly I have a need to watch every episode of every show on Netflix. Or to clean my perpetually messy house.

The best I can come up with is that one, writing is exhausting. I never sleep better than after a long night of putting words on the page. Most people can relate to not wanting to go to the gym, even though most of us feel much better once our workout is done. Not wanting to write, no matter the benefits of having written, is exactly like not wanting to go to the gym.

Secondly, writing is daunting. It’s completely possible, and let’s face it, probable that after all the work you put in to writing a novel, nobody will want to read it. Imagine being a pregnant woman, only you’re pregnant for over a year or more. Also imagine that instead of your body doing the work fairly automatically, you have to create that baby cell by cell with your own hands. Then imagine finally giving birth to that baby, only to be told your baby is ugly. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that if an author has put his heart and soul into a manuscript and has done his absolute best to make sure it’s the best it can possibly be, it will find its market. That being said, it’s the fear that I’m wrong that paralyzes me and makes me feel like my time would be better spent binge watching something. At least then, I could maybe make some friends by talking about the things everyone else is talking about.

But something magical happens once you force yourself to get started. All those fears, all those doubts, all those worries about whether it’s any good fly right out the window and you lose yourself in the story. Even if you never show another soul what you’ve written, you’ve created something out of thin air. You’ve made magic.

Now then, I know you’re all waiting with bated breath for my advice on how to get started. I’m afraid I’m going to disappoint you. The only advice I can give is to quote the immortal words of Shia LaBeouf.

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“JUST DO IT!!!!”

Seriously, that’s the best I can do. Force yourself to type that first paragraph, that first sentence, that first word. Hell, that first letter if that’s what it takes. Even if it truly is garbage. Even if you know what you’re writing is never going to make it past the first round of edits, write it. Get your fingers moving and before you know it, you’ll be making that magic only you can make.

Currently Reading

Right now I’m reading a few things. My current bathroom book is “Shada” It was originally a lost episode of Doctor Who written by Douglas Adams for my favorite of the old doctors, Tom Baker, and adapted into a novel by Gareth Roberts.

On my Kindle I’m reading “Kidnapped” by Robert Louis Stevenson.

And on my tablet I’m reading “Cycle Of The Werewolf” by Stephen King and “The Ask & The Answer” by Patrick Ness.

I don’t currently have a book on my phone, but that will probably change soon.

As always be sure to check out my website www.justinmkelly.com

Check me out on Facebook

On Twitter @JustinMKelly1

And on YouTube

I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr

Here Comes The Guilt Again

Well friends, We’re over a month into 2015 and I’m proud to tell you, I’ve written every single day. Sure, most days I only get through a page or two, but at least it’s something.

And that’s where the guilt comes in. No matter how much I tell myself that a page or two every day is good enough, I have this nagging voice inside my head telling me that it isn’t. As much as I try to tell myself things like I’m just trying to build good habits or that I’m taking baby steps, it all has a familiar feel to it. All those things I keep telling myself feel remarkably similar to the excuses I used to tell myself back when I wasn’t writing much at all.

Part of the problem is that I’m still not exactly sure where the story I’m writing is going. I thought I had a definitive plot but it seems like page after page of people not doing much of anything other than talking. I’m really trying to train myself to finish what I’ve started, but I feel like I’m going around in circles. I’m tempted to start on something else, but I hate the thought of giving up on this one. (Yes, I realize this last paragraph has been yet another excuse.)

Still, I’m soldiering on. I am proud of myself for sticking with it and getting closer to my ultimate goal of sitting on a beach, earning twenty percent. I mean of being a successful writer. I just wish that I had started sooner. I have a feeling that a little down the road I’ll be kicking myself for not pushing myself to do more each day.

Maybe the solution is to get my page or two done on the current story as a warm up, and then switch to a new project. Perhaps some short stories are in order.

Other than that, I’m (sort of) looking forward to my birthday on Wednesday. I think I’m finally reaching that age where birthdays are something to be dreaded rather than celebrated. I just pray to god that I’m published before I’m forty.

As always, be sure to follow me on Twitter @JustinMKelly1 and on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/jmkelly60. I’m only two followers away from breaking triple digits. How about helping me out?

Is It A Habit Yet?

I’ve heard it said that it takes two weeks to break a bad habit. I wonder if the same rule goes for creating a good one.

I’ve been writing at least a page a day for the past two weeks and a couple of days now and I don’t feel much different. Although I did consider skipping writing tonight and I couldn’t bring myself to. I just had to write, at least a little. I think it was partly not wanting to break my streak and knowing how disappointed I would be in myself if I did. At the same time though, it just felt weird not to write at least something.

I have to admit, I’m not thrilled with the story I’m writing right now. In the past, I would have chucked it and started something new. Luckily, I’ve learned doing that is no way to get anywhere. I have to push through and hope it all comes out right in the end. I’ve also learned that if I ignore these feelings of doubt, eventually it will be replaced by an abundance of confidence and I will love every word I write.

I’ve never been an outliner, but I think I may have to give at least a loose outline a try. I feel like I’m wandering all over the place. I’m forgetting some things I meant to put in that will help what comes later make sense. Then again, some things I know I want to have happen are happening too early. I really just need to sit down and organize my thoughts. As long as I’m not too rigid, it should all be okay.

That’s about all I’ve got right now. I’ll see you guys next week.

I’m Finished!!!!!

Finally, after much procrastination, I have finished my 35 page short story.

I know this may not sound like such an accomplishment to some of you, but for someone who’s well known for getting halfway through a story and losing interest, It’s a major accomplishment. Even better, after a little polish, I think it will actually be publishable. So far my readers agree.

Of course now I’m considering expanding it into a novel. I’m going to let it sit for a while and work on another short while I consider my options. I’m just so excited. It feels like I’ve finally broken through a wall I’ve been bumping into for years.

And now that the good news is out of the way, it’s time for a mini-rant.

I want to start by saying that I’m a huge supporter of independent writers. I think the time of the big publishing houses is drawing to a close.

(If any of them are reading this, I totally didn’t mean that. Please sign me.)

Still, many of the independent writers I’ve read have made one seemingly common mistake. They assumed that since they were self-publishing, they didn’t need to have their manuscripts looked over by a professional editor.

I will say that some of the things that are like nails on a chalkboard to me probably don’t even register with most readers. Still, I think professional authors should do everything they can to make sure their work is the best it can be.

When I see a glaring error in a book, particularly pertaining to usage, it takes me right out of the story. If there are too many of them, I may even give up on it. Let me make this clear, I almost never stop reading a book once I’ve started, but if I’m constantly being jerked back out of the story I finally have to admit defeat.

Now I’m not saying this will stop me from reading independent books but it may stop me from reading a particular author.

As for me, I will hire an editor.

Okay, rant over.

As always, check out my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/jmkelly60 and follow me on Twitter @JustinMKelly1. I’m also on Tumblr http://www.tumblr.com/blog/justinmkelly .

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It’s Time To Nut Up Or Shut Up

Friends, today I received some bad news. At the end of summer my current job, which I have worked faithfully for the past seven years, will no longer exist. I received this news just before it was time to go to bed and thus, rather than sleep, spent the day tossing and turning in bed as I progressed through each of the stages of grief. In the end, believe it or not, I found serenity.

Serenity ship
I wish

After much considering and a little gentle prodding from my wonderful girlfriend, I realized I had two options.

1. I could start looking for another job where I’d be miserable and earn a pittance while making someone else rich. Or…

2. I could stop talking about becoming a successful writer and actually work full time at making it happen.

The first option would be the smart route. I would have a steady paycheck which I could count on to be there and maybe even get something with some benefits. But would I really be happy? I think we all know the answer to that.

Admittedly, the second option will be downright terrifying, but as they say, fear is an excellent motivator. If failure is truly not an option, then I can’t let myself fail. Besides, all the best writers had something I don’t. They were hungry, both figuratively and sometimes literally. The fact of the matter is, I’ve gotten way too comfortable in my current job anyway and spend far too much writing time doing other things than writing. (Damn you Netflix.) It always seemed like there was more time. Well my friends, time has suddenly gotten exceedingly short.

Don’t worry, I’m not expecting my writing to pay a living wage right off the bat. Fortunately I have other hobbies that I think with a little hard work could turn enough of a profit to pay my bills. I am an amateur blacksmith and also make copper jewelry which I sell here. https://www.etsy.com/shop/MythicFlames I admit there isn’t much in it right now but keep checking back. I’ll also post to this Facebook page when I add new items. https://www.facebook.com/MythicFlames I plan to add items on a regular basis. I am also going to be setting up an eBay store to sell some of my items as well as swords and knives not made by me. I will post the details here when it’s up.

As always, please follow me on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/jmkelly60 and Twitter @JustinMKelly1. Also, check me out on Tumblr  http://www.tumblr.com/blog/justinmkelly.

I also have some informational e-books in the works on topics from wilderness survival to romantic advice and everything else I’ve learned in my time here on earth. I’ll post a link as soon as they’re done.

So basically, it’s time to make my dreams happen. Or as Tallahassee put it…

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Oh Those Summer Nights

And I’m back again. I realize it’s been a couple weeks since my last confession post. All I can say is this, it’s been a weird couple of weeks. I’ve been adjusting to summer which has finally arrived. With the arrival of summer, my girlfriend’s schedule has changed. Which means, in effect, so has mine. I’m trying to adjust my sleeping schedule to match hers so I’ve had a hard time keeping my eyes open at night, much less writing. Also with summer come tourists. Since most of my writing time is done while working at a motel, I’ve been somewhat plagued with interruptions from needy guests. I’m finally starting to settle into my summer rhythm and last night I was actually able to get some decent writing done. There, now that the excuses are done, on with the rest of the post.

Other than the issues I listed above, the writing has been going well. I have just about finished one short story and am well into a second. I know it’s not the two a week I had planned but it’s coming faster all the time. If only I could stop myself from getting distracted by the internet. Anyone know where I can get an old DOS word processor? I’m very happy with the story that’s almost done and I’m considering, after a bit of polish, submitting it to TOR. Am I shooting too high? Possibly. But why not aim for the stars?

The other story I’m not so sure about. I’m not sure if it’s going anywhere, but it’s certainly helping me exorcise some personal demons. We will see where it goes. At least I’m writing.

I’m about to attempt a daunting task. Years ago, I gave up cigarettes. I didn’t have too much trouble with it because I did allow myself an occasional pipe because, well, writers smoke pipes. Right? Unfortunately, it’s gone from an occasional thing, to a regular thing, to an every day thing, and finally to a several times a day thing. I think it’s time to finally give up the pipe. Although I might still hold it in my mouth while I’m writing. Anyone know if they still make those bubble pipes? Seriously though, I might look into an e-pipe or something although I’m still not sure if they’re any better for you. If anyone can give me any advice, I’d certainly appreciate it.  I’m hoping for a nice long writing career and I don’t want cancer throwing a wrench into those plans.

Now that I’ve got you all down and thinking about mortality, it’s time for an up note.

The great thing about summer is, I can finally get out of the house and enjoy my surroundings. I have big plans to jump on the motorcycle and head into the black hills just to explore. I also have my hiking pack to set off on the many trails around here and lose myself for a couple of days. I’m working on setting up a YouTube channel so I can show you all the wonderful places out here and I might just talk a bit about writing while I’m at it.

Well, I guess now you’re all updated on my life.

As always, check out my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/jmkelly60 and follow me on Twitter @JustinMKelly1. I’m also on Tumblr http://www.tumblr.com/blog/justinmkelly but so far all I’ve used it for is to mirror this blog. I’m hoping to change that soon. I just have to remember not to get so obsessed with social media I forget to write.

I promise I’ll be back next week with another update but just remember, writers lie for a living.

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Okay, Okay, I Confess

First, an apology for being a day late with my post this week. I intended to write a post night before last but things got a little crazy. The motel I work at usually provides a quiet, distraction free place where I can work on my craft with little interruption. Unless there’s an escaped fugitive staying in one of our rooms and the police are trying to get him out. Yes, that was my night. So needless to say, my mind wasn’t exactly on my work. Anyway, here it is now. I know you were all waiting with bated breath.

I have a confession to make.

I haven’t written a thing so far this week.

I’ve thought about writing, I just haven’t actually done any.

I have a good excuse, I promise. Although I still feel guilty.

I was trying to teach myself how to outline.

I know for some of you, outlining is probably second nature, but I’ve never done it. I’ve always just sat down at the keyboard and started writing. This can be great fun. I get to enjoy watching the story unfold and watch the characters develop as I write the story just as you get to when you read it.

Unfortunately, not having a plan tends to result in a half finished story, of which I have written dozens, possibly even hundreds. Occasionally I’m able to finish a story, but more often than not, I write myself into a corner or just reach a point where I have no idea where to go next. Sometimes the story is just dragging because I’m wandering aimlessly trying to find the story like a miner stumbling around in the dark looking for that vein of gold.

I’m trying to find a balance when it comes to outlining. I want enough plot points to keep me going when I get stuck, but I don’t want it to be so tight that I have no room to play. I want my characters to have the freedom to wander off from time to time. Occasionally they may find the real story without me.

Seat of the pants writing can be a blast, but if I really want to make a career out of writing, I’ve got to have a roadmap so I can finish my stories.

Sorry for the short post this week. I promise next week’s will be longer, and hopefully on time. Please visit me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/jmkelly60 Or on Twitter @JustinMKelly1

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Feeding The Habit

The only way to be a writer is to write. It seems obvious, but I never realized that there is more to this oft-repeated advice than it seems.

Yes, it’s true. If you never write anything, then you can never really be a writer. But there’s more to it. My biggest excuse for not writing as much as I should have over the last several (please don’t ask how many) years is that I had no good ideas. Or that I would get halfway through a story and run out of ideas. It’s very frustrating to suddenly not be able to do something you were once so good at. Especially if it’s the only thing you’ve ever felt you were really good at.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve finally started taking my writing career seriously. That means not just writing when the “muse” was with me. It means forcing myself to write when I’d rather be doing just about anything else. It means ignoring that new Facebook notification, not checking to see what’s new on Netflix, or giving in to any of the other millions of distractions the internet presents. It means devoting myself entirely to being a writer.

Most importantly, it means not giving up when I hit that wall but instead finding a way over, or around, or even, if need be, smashing right through it.

What I’ve found is that forcing myself to write even when I don’t feel like it, even when what I’m writing seems like complete crap, leads to new ideas. Sure, you may have to throw away some parts that took you forever to write but sometimes you have to clear away all the dirt to get to the gold.

I can’t say I don’t still have moments where I just don’t feel like writing. I can’t say I don’t still sometimes feel uninspired. Still, more and more, I look forward to my time at the keyboard. The ideas are flowing once again. I look forward to my fingers flying across the keys just so I can see where the story goes.

Writing really is like a muscle. If you want it to perform, you have to exercise it on a regular basis.

The voices are back. EXCELLENT

Time To Unplug

First things first. I actually have a good reason for my absence this time. As a result of my appendectomy last October, I developed a rather large hernia at the site of my main incision. As a result, I had to have it repaired and have been recuperating. I still have another month before I’m considered fully healed, however, I can finally think straight enough to catch you guys up with what’s been going on.

Now for the meat of my post.

Lately, I’ve had a real problem with writer’s block. I haven’t been completely blocked, I can start a story as well as I ever could. The problem is, once I get about fifteen minutes into the story, I just hit a wall. I can’t think of what to do next. So instead, I sit there staring at the screen.

Tonight, I decided to really analyze what happens. It seems, I can work for about fifteen minutes straight before I get distracted. That’s right, I apparently have developed an attention span only slightly better than your average goldfish. I begin thinking about food, or Facebook, or the fact that I haven’t posted to Twitter in a while, or made a post here for that matter. In short, social media and the like have ruined me as far as attention span goes.

Or maybe it’s just that my subject matter isn’t interesting enough to keep my attention.

No, I’m blaming Facebook. After all, the reason I started making up stories in the first place is to keep away boredom. In this digital age, there’s no time for the mind to be bored.

I’ve decided that there’s only one remedy. I have to quit social media all together… Yeah right. Like that’s ever going to happen. Seriously though, I have to severely limit my access to it. I’ve been working out a schedule to devote more time to writing. I’ve also decided to severely limit my internet time. I’m thinking maybe a half hour when I wake up so I can see what happened while I was sleeping, then maybe another half hour when I get to work. Finally, the last hour of my work shift (that isn’t spent doing actual work) I can spend on blogging, updating my professional Facebook page (ahem https://www.facebook.com/jmkelly60), and posting to Twitter (ahem again @JustinMKelly1), or perhaps even updating my website (http://justinmkelly.com/) which, to be perfectly honest, I haven’t touched in years.

Wish me luck. If all goes well, I hope to start finishing a couple shorts a week in addition to making progress on my novel. Some of the shorts will be submitted to magazines while others will be put into small e-books and made available for purchase on Amazon.

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Technology Tangle

As I sit here, I realize I am surrounded by technology. I have my iPhone, my tablet, my laptop of course, and my iPod. All of them are performing various jobs to make my life as a writer easier but I have to wonder; Are they really?

When I was a kid and I began making up stories it was because I was bored. It was my way of entertaining myself. I don’t do this nearly as often as I should as someone who hopes to tell stories for a living someday. Why? Because with all this technology at my fingertips at all times, who has time to be bored anymore?

I am no Luddite. Far from it. I love technology and am constantly amazed at how far we’ve come as a people just in my lifetime. Any time I hear someone that we don’t have flying cars I am quick to remind them that what we do have is much more amazing. We have instant access to the entirety of human knowledge at our fingertips at all times. In this day and age, there is no excuse to not know something you want to know.

Still, I have to wonder if this constant flow of information has stunted us creatively. Maybe it’s time to unplug for a while.

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