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michaelcrane

Michael's Book Babble

I'm an indie author and a scribbler of inane babble. I talk about books I've read/liked. Or at least, that's the plan.

 

Most of the reviews will be considered "mini-reviews." Usually, it's mostly my reaction to what I've been reading. There are people who are far better at doing full and helpful reviews. But I still have fun doing them, and hope you enjoy them!

Currently reading

Hitch-22: A Memoir
Christopher Hitchens
Progress: 90/1054 minutes
Wait for Signs: Twelve Longmire Stories
Craig Johnson
Progress: 105/184 pages

Reading progress update: I've read 81 out of 160 pages.

Coraline - Neil Gaiman

Began the audio book this morning, and it is beyond excellent. Frightening, and excellent. Don't know why I've waited so long to finally get to this one. Shouldn't take me long since it's a short read/listen.

"King writes every day. If he doesn't write he's not happy. If he writes, the world is a good place. So he writes. It's that simple."
The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction - Neil Gaiman

- from Neil Gaiman's interview with Stephen King, which also appears in his nonfiction collection,The View from the Cheap Seats

Reading progress update: I've read 28%.

The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction - Neil Gaiman

I'm taking a break from the audio book of Joe HIll's The Fireman. It's just not keeping my attention right now. No fault of the author's. Sometimes if a book isn't keeping my attention, then I move on and later on I revisit that book and wonder why the hell I took a break from it in the first place. It happens.

 

But for now, I'm listening to the audio book for Neil Gaiman's latest, and it's read by none other than the man himself. I love, love, love his audio books. He's one of the few authors out there who can read his own books, IMO. Hell, I'd listen to hours of computer code if he read it.

 

This book is a love letter to writing and books. What's not to love?

And that's a wrap for May!

 

Finished the month with 47,509 words. Never would've thought that I'd get anywhere near there with the amount of writing I did each day. Just goes to show that every day counts.

I'm extremely happy about this. This writer's rut I was in was an absolute nightmare, but in a way I'm thankful for it. It was a wake up call that I desperately needed.

How My Fitbit Helped Break My Writing Rut

The TL;DR version: Tracking your daily word count on a spread sheet can help you break your writing rut. I have some other tips at the end that have helped me, too. Those are in bold.

 

This is a long post. I apologize in advance. Also, I understand I'm repeating myself here--this is because I posted this entry on my Tumblr account, but figured I might as well post it here, too.

 

This year I’ve been focusing on getting myself healthy, and since December of last year I’ve lost almost twenty pounds. I bought myself a Fitbit before the end of last year, and I have to say it helped keep me motivated. I loved meeting my step goals and whatnot. It encouraged me to be more active, and to not sit still for long periods of time.

 

But there was one thing that wasn’t quite healthy about me yet, and that was my writing habits. I’d suffered the worst writer’s rut of my life, and it lasted about a year. I’d sit down and try to write, but nothing would strike me. Frustrated, I’d give up and go back to doing whatever I was doing all the while wondering if I’d ever get my fire back.

 

And then a funny thing happened. As I began to watch my step numbers religiously and pushed myself to meet my step goal almost every day (and even go over it), I wondered if I could do the same thing with my writing. So, I decided to make spreadsheets and track my daily word count. I set a minimum goal of 500 words. I know that’s not a lot, and that’s the point. I wanted to set a realistic goal for myself, and a goal that I can most likely double when I’m on a roll. I also wanted to set a small enough goal that’d keep me motivated to write that day even if I didn’t have the time or the motivation. 500 seemed like an easy enough place to reach even on my worst days—and it’d still motivate me to try even if I could only get in a few hundred words. In the past I’d set a goal of a thousand words, and there would be some days I wouldn’t even try because I knew I couldn’t reach anywhere close to that.

 

It’s been a month since I’ve started tracking my daily word count, and it’s been a HUGE motivator. I never realized how quickly those writing days could add up, even on the days where I just went over a thousand by maybe twenty words or so. And I also saw that the days where I wrote nothing added exactly that to my overall word count: zero.

 

That’s when I realized how important it is to write a little every day. I don’t have to write a thousand words each day, but I should write something every day, even if it’s only a few hundred words. The small days add up.

 

A big part of my problem was the fact I wasn’t even trying. On the days where I didn’t think I had more than a few hundred words in me, I just wouldn’t do it. I figured why bother? It wouldn’t add up to anything in the end.

 

Wrong. And tracking my daily word count, I see that now. It may sound silly, but doing so has really reenergized me.

 

For anybody struggling, I highly recommend this. You’ll get to see how quickly it all adds up. By the end of today, I’ll have well over 45,000 words for the month. And to see those actual numbers encourage me to keep going. To write as much as I can, even on the days where I’m pressed for time or don’t have the motivation. I would’ve never thought that all of those writing days would add up to a number like that in one month.

 

Write a little every day. It’ll add up.

 

 

 

Some other things that have helped me along the way:

 

Journaling – This month I’ve gotten into a healthy habit of journaling every morning, or almost every morning. The journal entries are almost always about how my writing’s going, and what I’d like to accomplish. It’s a great way to get your mind rattling off ideas. You can test out character names and whatnot—sometimes it’s important to see what a name looks like in print. Journaling also helps beef up your word count for the day, too. A very easy way to get in a few hundred words. And it counts. Hell, I’m even counting this blog post.

 

Writing prompts/Apps – There are some wonderful apps out there for writers. I found a couple for my iPhone. They’re not free, but they’re extremely helpful. If you have an iPhone or iPad, I highly recommend checking out Writing Challenge and Writer Lists. Do a prompt every day if you’re not working on something currently. You never know what it’ll spark. And even if it doesn’t, you’re still getting some writing done for the day.

 

Write early – I know this can be a tough one, especially if you have a day job. I know, I have one. But I usually get to work early enough to where I can sit down and at the very least start a quick journal entry, which will usually give me a few hundred words. Then I’ll write during my lunch break if possible. Getting some writing done early—any writing, will start your day off on the right track. That way if something comes up and you’re unable to write later, at least you’ll already have some writing done for the day.

Epic find of the day!

 

Found this today! And it has the ORIGINAL illustrations! Boy, this brings me back.

I lied

Turns out I do have other places in case something happens to BookLikes.

 

 

I have a Tumblr account:

http://michaelcranewrites.tumblr.com/

 

As you can see, I'm very productive on that one. :P Jeez, it's been over two years. Pretty sure BookLikes filled that void for me. I'm surprised I even remembered my login info. Go me!

 

Of course, that's only if something happens to this place. I'm hoping nothing will, but better to have a plan than not. I'm still staying right here for as long as I can. Keeping my fingers crossed the entire way.

 

https://twitter.com/M_Crane

I'm also on Twitter. Trying to be a little better on it, but I definitely go through my stages where I don't tweet much. Mostly, it's just stuff I post on Instagram; my pets, mainly. So there's that!  ;)

Random Babble 5/30/16

Happy Memorial Day!

 

Another productive writing morning for me. I wrote 1,660 words and will be closing out the month tomorrow with the final writing day of the month. I'm well over 45,000 for the month. I'm so friggen' happy about that. Feels great to be able to call myself a writer again. I never thought I'd get back on the writing wagon this quickly. Just goes to show sometimes all you need to do is change how you do things. Habit, habit, habit. That's the key. Get yourself to write a little every day.

 

Not sure what's happening with BookLikes. Don't know what to expect. I really don't have elsewhere to go. This the only blog I've been able to keep up with. Until something happens, I'll be here. Just blabbing about books, writing, and other shenanigans.

 

Hope you all have a great day!

Reading progress update: I've read 62 out of 271 pages.

Olive Kitteridge - Elizabeth Strout

I'm enjoying the hell out of this. I've seen the mini-series on HBO, and it was excellent. Now that I'm working on a possible novel-in-stories (probably the only way I'll ever write anything close to a novel), I figured I could use the inspiration. 

Writing Word Count Update

I'm only a few hundred away from 40,000 words for the month of May. I should hit it tomorrow. I had no idea I'd be this productive so quickly. Feels good to enjoy writing again...and just to write in general!

 

A handy tip: Journal entries are a great way to beef up your word count for the day. When I journal, it's usually about my writing progress, or what I'd like to accomplish in the next (or current) writing prompt/story. It's a good warm-up, especially if you do it first thing in the morning. An easy way to get a few hundred words out of the way for the day, along with tackling some possible ideas.

 

For anybody who is suffering in a horrible writing rut, PLEASE KEEP GOING. As I've said before, I experienced the worst one of my life and it lasted a year. I didn't think it was possible to beat it, but I did. I just had to change how I did things. Sometimes, that's all you have to do.

 

One of my favorite quotes from Stephen King is, "If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” That is so, so true.

 

I'd like to alter it, just a little bit. Especially for my fellow writer friends and followers who are suffering a horrible block and are struggling to even type a sentence on the computer screen:

 

"Write a little every day."

 

Because when you do that, it'll add up. And on some days you will write a lot.

So, this is a thing...apparently.

 

Okay.

 

Fess up.

 

Which one of you demanded this to exist?

Writing! Yay!

 

I know, clever title. Right?

 

I'm so happy right now. I've done more writing this month than all of last year.

 

Posting this, I'm not trying to brag. While I'm insanely happy, I also hope to help those who are struggling. I know a few writers follow me here. I struggled with one of the worst dry writing spells of my life last year--it even got to a point where I feared I'd lost my passion for writing.

 

It can be done. Try changing your routine. Write a little every day. You don't have to write thousands upon thousands of words each day. Start out small. It'll lead to better writing days.

 

What works best for me is to get some writing done early on in the day, even if it's only a few hundred words to start. That way if something comes up later that day where I can't write more, at least I have something to show for the day.

 

Keep it up! :) You'll have your bad writing days...but you'll also have your extremely awesome ones as well.

Revisiting an old friend

The Easter Parade - Richard Yates

Listening to the audio book again, for both enjoyment and inspiration. What I'm working on currently has a Richard Yates feel to it. Not that I'm complaining!

 

I cannot stress how much I love this novel.Definitely one of my all-time favorites. It isn't a pleasant story by any means, but sometimes those are the best ones IMO.

 

I wrote a review a for it a while back

Reading Time

 

Feels great to have my writing mojo back...yes, I totally just wrote that right now. And I regret nothing. NOTHING.

 

Anyway...I really, really, want to work on a "novel in stories" project soon. I may or may not be working on one right now. Let's face it, I'm a short story writer. I love short stories. Not so good at writing longer stuff. However, creating a novel of stories intrigues me, and may be the only way I can get myself to write a novel.

 

Loved the first story. And I absolutely loved the HBO mini-series, as depressing as it was. I am looking forward to this.

Random Writing Babble 5/8/16

I play Sims 4 as a reward for getting some writing done (needed a break from Warcraft).

 

This way I won't feel quite as guilty that my Sim gets more writing done than I do.

The writing dry spell is over!

 

After experiencing one of the worst dry writing spells of my life, it finally broke about two weeks ago. My outlook on writing is healthy again!

 

I'm keeping tack of every day that I write, and am recording the numbers. Mostly to show me that everything adds up.

 

So many days I avoided writing because I didn't think I had a thousand words in me. I'm kicking myself for that now. Even on days where I would've only written 200 words or so, that still would've been better than zero.

 

My focus this year isn't to publish anything. If I do, fantastic. That's not the goal.

 

The goal is to get healthy again. Writing-wise.

 

Every day, I do a free-form writing prompt. I've set my minimum word count goal to 500. Why 500?

 

It's a lot easier to get my ass in that chair and write, even on the days where I don't have the time, or the motivation. I can think to myself, "Yeah. I can do five hundred. Or at least close to that." Instead of, "A thousand? Crap, I can't do that. Might as well write nothing today."

 

That ends now.

 

The above picture is my first week of writing in May. Not only was I able to hit my goal, but I was able to even double it.

 

There's always a chance that this motivation might slip, but I don't think so. And I'm going to do my damnedest to prevent that.

 

Feels good to write again. Even if I'm only doing daily writing prompts. Better than nothing. :)