How to Write Every Day for 75 Years

In the video below Mr Bradbury discusses his life, his passions, and why books matter. He was a man of persistence, passion, and joy. He wrote every day for seventy-five years and loved every single minute of it.

Throughout his life he did not write or chase something that brought a thrill because of money or fame, he did it because it brought him joy. This he says, is the key to a rich and full life.

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3 Things The Pre-Published Writer Should Keep In Mind

As the drafts of my current novel get perilously close to the double digit mark, there is ample time to reflect on what went wrong at the beginning. If I’m honest, I didn’t know how to craft a story, I just liked words. Now, I feel as if a good percentage of the fog has cleared. I can tell when a scene stands on its own merit and when it is time for one to die.

Below I’d like you to consider three things while you work on your unpublished manuscript so you are not overwhelmed and give up.

Leonid_Pasternak_- Writing Be fair with your comparisons – If you are just starting out, know where you are. You are not the next Rowling, Hardy, or Dickens. At least not at this moment. Do not pick one of the greats in your genre and think, “Well, I’m never going to be this good, time to try woodworking”.

Do people who want to lose 30 pounds do so in a week? How about someone who has never run a marathon? Could they just wake up the next day, put on their running shoes, and sprint to victory? Be realistic writer. You are still trying to figure it all out. Be okay with that. Your first draft probably won’t be magic. But the fifth one might, so keep at it.

You are in the learning phase – Sadly, one does not write a book and immediately get published. But this can also be a very good thing. Books published without going through the crucible of a severe and honest edit and several drafts have given the perfectly viable industry of self-publishing a terrible name.

Before you try to publish, learn about the publishing industry. Learn about agents. Read magazines on writing. Find people to give honest feedback that will help you understand what went wrong. Do not go to someone who is ruthless. After all, is it okay to tell a baby how awful they are at walking and never to try it again when they are taking their first steps? I do hope you said no.

Writing is hard – Writing is a slow plod, not a sprint. Even those with dynamite first books spent years learning the craft in school or otherwise. So when you spend three hours on a paragraph and are tempted to scrap the whole thing, take a deep breath. Go for a walk, refill your creative well, and find a new way through the thicket of your book.

Writer, if you find yourself in deep despair or overwhelmed at the blank page or your latest draft, relax. Remove the belief that something has to be great, immediately. Free yourself from unrealistic expectations, learn all you can, and then get to work.

How To Feed A Muse

Every writer has come to the point where a project becomes muddy, sticky, and monotonous. Is it writer’s block? Sure. Is it becoming bored with your own story? Maybe. Is it a perpetual northern winter or a life event that arrives like a stray lightning bolt and saps you of any motivation to get to the page? Absolutely.

But what can you do to get out of that funk and awaken from the stupor? How can you rise above yourself and this particular situation with your friend or family member that just won’t leave you?

I believe the answer lies in what has been called a muse. It’s the age old question. What can the artist (in this case writer) do to keep, well, doing? It’s not a sudden burst of energy that finishes a great work but coming back to your art day after day after day. The great writers of the past may have written amazing volumes because of the epic lives they lived. But more likely, they became great writers because they pulled up their sleeves and wrote. No. Matter. What.

But this work requires energy. And yours is sapped remember? Where is this muse? How do you get one?

In the article, How to Keep and Feed a Muse by Ray Bradbury, he explores a thread which holds the “how to fuel your art” together:

“I believe one thing holds it all together. Everything I’ve ever done was done with excitement, because I wanted to do it, because I loved doing it.” (Bradbury, Zen and the Art of Writing, pg 40).  Combined with, “Do not, for money, turn away from all of the stuff you have collected in a lifetime. Do not, for the vanity of intellectual publications, turn away from what you are – the material within you which makes you individual, and therefore indispensable to others.” Bradbury, Zen and the Art of Writing, pg 42).

So, writer. It’s time to unlock the broom cupboard you’ve put yourself into. The key or muse, after all, is right in your hand. It’s remembering who you are, a turn back to the original trail that you started long ago.

So, do something you love.

Allow that love to unlock excitement, ardor, joy.

And use joy to write.

5 Ways To Fuel Creativity

Fostering a creative mindset can be a difficult task in our busy lives. Often times we arrive to our desks and favorite writing spots brain-dead empty. We have nothing to give and we try to put something down but it’s terrible, and we know we will never be a writer.Jogging at sunset

Writing is like running in that you need proper fuel every time you do it. You cannot run several miles on candy and neither can you produce a novel without sleep and focus. You need proper artistic nutrition that produces energy and a creative mindset.

So here are a few practical ways to fill your creative well so when you are ready to take on an artistic pursuit you can have the focus and creative energy you need to go to produce.

1. Go on a walk. This can be during your lunch break, when your spouse gets home from work if you stay at home, any time. Even a walk on a dark, snowy Michigan winter night, can fill your creative well.

2. Time alone to think. This may seem odd but I’ve felt rich and full at 6 AM when all is dark and quiet and I have a cup of coffee in my hand just looking out over my backyard for ten minutes. We all need a moment to think and space for ideas to show up.

3. Organize an area of chaos in your home. This may seem counterproductive because it would steal time away from the creative pursuit, but it is all about momentum. The satisfaction of finishing a project will result in a clearer and more focused mind.

4. Go into the city or country. Here in Grand Rapids, 10 minutes will bring you to the downtown of a bustling city or 10 minutes will put you out into the country. I love the feel of a small, big city. If you live in the city, venture to a park. If you live in the country, head downtown. Pulling yourself out of your normal way of life will help open up your mind.

5. Share a meal with friends. I love sitting around a table and sharing a meal. There is something beautiful about community. No matter if it’s Mountain Dew and pizza or a gourmet meal, everyone enjoys some free food and conversation with those they love.

So take time and invest in you, creative. Find a small sliver of peace and drink deeply. Then, use that peace to produce something.

Add Some Spice Back Into Your Writing Life

As a novelist I waver between the thrill of a new project and the arduous work of finishing the novel – blog – article – short story – etc. An idea strikes, I love it, test it, and it’s time to write it. But, soon, this new project becomes work and once that transition occurs, it can be very easy to give up and have several half finished stories.

WorkIf you find yourself in the blah mode about your current project and thinking about transitioning to another, there really is only one thing you can do (No, not quit, because you learn by finishing).

You must go all in.

Write from 10pm to 4am.

Take a day off of work to write.

Go to a bookstore or library

Get up at 3 am and write

This could probably work for anything.

Feeling distant from your spouse? After the kids are in school, take the day off and spend some time together. Novels and stories are like this. They require time and dedication but also fun and spontaneity.

If you are struggling with your novel (or relationship), do something different. Write in a new place, get up at 5 am, write daily, and look for a new rhythm. And most of all, you must try harder.

Introducing Lowry’s Books – The Location of the Next Jot Conference

Last week we announced that the fall edition of the Jot Conference is headed south to Three Rivers, MI and will be held at Lowry’s Books and More. Today we’d like to introduce you to this beautiful place.

Lowry’s is located in downtown Three Rivers, Michigan.

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It houses over one hundred and seventy thousand used and rare books as well as new releases.

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In addition to books, they sell all sorts of fun games, educational toys, and items for the hobby enthusiast.

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Strapped for cash? You can still have books! There are free books out front. I’ve found anything from Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe to W. Somerset Maugham’s Of Human Bondage. So if money’s tight, simply use it on gas to get there.

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Remember, save the date of September 12th from 6-10pm!

If you have questions about anything related to the bookstore, the Jot Conference, or Three Rivers, please ask in the comment section below.

Write today!

Summer Reading Challenge

I have a problem. I buy books. Too many books. I measure things I want in books – specifically – used books. As in – I’d love to buy the latest tablet but that’d be like eighty used books.

I’d rather have the books.

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My Latest Book

Thus as an avid book fan and reader and writer of them I submit this thought to you during this beautiful summer.

A lot of luster can be lost on reading when we turn to the same old self-help, western, romance, fantasy, and classic author. Yes, even classics can get dull when that is all we read. I once heard an interview where author Neil Gaiman said Tolkien didn’t read fantasy books, he read books on Old Norse and Finnish philology and it helped him, obviously, write books of his own flavor.

As you think of what book you may devour this summer go out of the way. Despise ordinary and go on a distant hunt, far away from your normal go-to genre as possible. If you read fiction only by male writers get a non-fiction book written by a female like Madeleine L’Engle’s A Circle of Quiet. If you only read romances check out H. G. Well’s The Time Machine.

We all have different tastes but reading the usual suspects is akin to going to the same restaurant and ordering the same thing. There are millions of books out there. Good ones. I wrote an article last year published here about how Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein changed my life. It was pure accident and I am forever grateful for it.

So go out there and read. Challenge your mind with a new flavor of novel. If you want a suggestion ask below. If you have already decided please share.