Just Like the First Time

Movies like Looper and Memento take you through a whole film just to bring you back to the beginning.

I thought about this in this period between publishing my first book and revising the second. The first book took a lot out of me, from getting through scenes that hit too close to home to overcoming the fear of hitting that dread PUBLISH button. But it was okay. Once I got through it I’d never have to deal with any of that again, right? I’d be a master of all thing pertaining to the self-publishing world.

That’s what I thought.

As I sit with the laptop screen staring back at me I’ve been struck with the fact that I came to the end of the journey only to have a vindictive director to say “Oh no. You’re not done yet.” All the quotes that I tuck in the back of my head about positive outlooks and progress fled from me. Little tricks learned along the way stalled. Fear rose it’s head again (funny since Fear is an actual character in the book). The end of one book returned me to the beginning. And you know what?

That’s okay.

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True it does suck that all the doubts and fumblings of the first time have come back. However if it was easy the joy of writing would probably dwindle. There’s been plenty of struggles in my own writing. Heck, Beyond Here is the third completed novel I did within the fifteen years since the idea first hit me. But it got done.

No matter the trials or the tribulations I kept writing. I kept the dream alive until it blossomed. This next book will be another learning experience as I learn about the process and myself. Julia Cameron says “Writing is like breathing, it’s possible to learn to do it well, but the point is to do it no matter what.” So this is for the aspiring authors, the sophomores, and the vets. Keep going. Learn from each book, from each word scribbled on the page, and keep going! You survived before. Remember that and you’ll survive this time.

Until next time have a writeous day!

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Matt Williams is an avid reader, a collector of many pens, an ever improving father of two, and an all-around fanboy. When he’s not wrestling with cats or a long commute you can find him hunkered down writing something imaginative. He’s working on publishing his first book Beyond Here, a middle grade story involving a coma and a singing flower with a bent stem sometime in 2016, along with a few projects with his other daughter.

Rule Breaking

I love quotes.

I have several journals full of quotes that I happen to stumble upon throughout the day. They can serve to motivate me, pick me up, or inspire. Of course I share them I find others that needed to hear or read that particular set of words as well.

However as much as I love quotes, there are a few that can be harmful, especially to beginning writers. Here are a few quotes (some generalized because multiple authors have said them) to disregard as you become the author you need to be.

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Write everyday.

It would be grand if this were the case. Throwing everything away and simply focusing on words. But that’s not the reality for most of us. Surely write when you can because “a writer writes” but do so when you can. Some people are weekend writers, while others can only seem to do so every other day at their kids’ soccer practice. Do what works for you.

Write what you know.

I’m not a 12 year old girl trapped in a coma where her thoughts and emotions are personified. That didn’t stop me from writing that particular story. I’ve seen writers lock themselves in research purgatory, having that idea for a story that never leaves the ground because the writer hasn’t mastered quantum mechanics based on Mars. Bring life experience into your story, absolutely. Doing so brings you and the reader closer together. Know a bit of what you’re talking about if bringing real world elements to your fiction. However don’t allow what you don’t know to stagnate you.

“You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write.” –Saul Bellow

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha! *wipes tears*

Write like no one is going to read it.

There’s a big difference between writing for yourself versus for an audience. If you write for yourself aka journaling it’s all about you. The only audience is you. However if you’re goal is to be published there has to be some sliver of care put into the effort you put out. You have to put the needs of the reader into consideration.

“Don’t try.” –Charles Bukowski

Try. Fail. Repeat ad nauseam. The act of writing is continual learning and taking hits only to rise up a stronger and more profound writer in the process. Keep writing. Keep querying. Keep going. As Ray Bradbury said “You only fail if you stop writing.”

Surely I could keep going but here seems like a nice place to stop. Keep following your heart and let the words flow. And until next time have a writeous day!

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Matt Williams is an avid reader, a collector of many pens, an ever improving father of two, and an all-around fanboy. When he’s not wrestling with cats or a long commute you can find him hunkered down writing something imaginative. He’s working on publishing his first book Beyond Here, a middle grade story involving a coma and a singing flower with a bent stem sometime in 2016, along with a few projects with his other daughter.

My Name Is Barry Allen and I Write Fiction

Too many ideas run through my head. Different genres, age levels, etc… And as an already slow writer these clusters of ideas can be quite hazardous. They start to bleed into whatever current work is happening, only to be deleted once the mistake is realized. However all these ideas can be used to your advantage…with the help of more writing.

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Flash Fiction is described as fictional work of extreme brevity. By most accounts they should be no more than 2000 words. Most are much shorter. There’s Six-word Stories which is fairly self-explanatory. Then there are selections known as Twitterature that are 140 character pieces. There are Dribbles topping out at 50 words and Drabbles going to 100 words. The last subsection (to my knowledge anyhow) is Sudden Fiction which is a story told in 750 words.

Using any variation of these can help relieve some of the pressure of story ideas. You can allow yourself to wander a bit before coming back to the main path. While you take your little detour it’s possible to have it enhance your story. Let’s say you’re writing a particularly dark work yet a lighthearted tale has been pressing on you. That light can be added to the dark to grant it some humanity. Or maybe what you come up with can create a character desperately needed to develop your story. If nothing else you may just want to revisit your flash fiction at another time, and boom you got yourself another story to work on.

Use these short stories to jump start ideas or be a fidget spinner for your brain. Nothing has to come from them in the end other than allowing you a bit of a reprieve. Well that’s how I take a bit for myself anyway. Until next time have a writeous day!

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Matt Williams is an avid reader, a collector of many pens, an ever improving father of two, and an all-around fanboy. When he’s not wrestling with cats or a long commute you can find him hunkered down writing something imaginative. He’s working on publishing his first book Beyond Here, a middle grade story involving a coma and a singing flower with a bent stem sometime in 2016, along with a few projects with his other daughter.

Fear No More

“Sometimes your destiny is wrapped up in a veil of fear to check if you really have the courage to face it.” – Marcus Hades

Quotes_Creator_20170505_095333.pngFear is easily the greatest enemy to a writer. It steals time, confidence, and the desire to move forward. I’ve battled this enemy since the age of ten. There’ve honestly been times where fear was understandable: divorce, children, financial issues, personal safety, etc… Yet pushing the little upload button on my first story recently has managed to rank up there with the worst of them. It took years to finally do it, however all that time didn’t make it easier to do. How about we look at some ways to overcome them.

“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.” – Mark Twain

Finding a tribe who can help you see past your fear is paramount to overcoming your enemy. You can get lost in the pool of self-doubt, paralyzed by what ifs. You need a little cheering crew who can pull you from the brink of “I can’t”. That doesn’t mean that they must swoon over all that you do. It means you need those people who can be honest with you in the way that you need; tell you what ideas works, what direction this should take, what characters work, and so on.

“We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.” – Charles R. Swindoll

What makes you different from any other writer out there? Sure, depending on who you’re comparing yourself to a few million dollars may be the difference, but in most cases there is nothing different. You put in the same long and thankless hours. You type or write longhand in weird places and inopportune times. You face rejection at every turn. If there is nothing different then what is holding you back? They just conquered that last hurdle of fear.

“It’s not the fear of writing that blocks people, it’s fear of not writing well; something quite different.” – Scott Berkun

You can pour over your work for years and there will still be something you want to change. There will always be something in hindsight that can make your story better. But there has to come a time where you are okay with what you have written down. Let your story sing. Besides, if you squeeze a story too hard you may lose its soul.

“Fear is felt by writers at every level. Anxiety accompanies the first word they put on paper in the last.” – Ralph Keyes

Say no to fear. Get out of your own way. Fear will always be there, but your destiny is just beyond it. Until next time have a writeous day!

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Matt Williams is an avid reader, a collector of many pens, an ever improving father of two, and an all-around fanboy. When he’s not wrestling with cats or a long commute you can find him hunkered down writing something imaginative. He’s working on publishing his first book Beyond Here, a middle grade story involving a coma and a singing flower with a bent stem sometime in 2016, along with a few projects with his other daughter.

Let Em Go

“Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.” 

-Stephen King

As of late I’ve been a bit obsessed with dictation. This is especially true when it comes to my speech-recognition software. I love to hear myself read what I wrote down and make corrections on the fly. No more stumbling over words that don’t belong but feel pretty on that first go around. In doing this though I find there are words I fall to more often than not. So hopefully in sharing those words and phrases you’ll avoid the same pitfalls in your manuscript. Of course these words don’t have to be completely taken out, try to keep them to minimum however.

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finally

When describing a series of events, the word finally indicates laziness on the part of the writer. Finally implies an exhaustion or distaste for the series.

have got

You have something, without the got.

often / frequently

The readers have unique opinions of what constitutes frequently or often. Such measures of time are matters of perspective.

perfect

Nothing real is perfect. However, one makes exceptions for perfect scores, perfect angles, and the perfect tense of verbs.

just

I have a hard time removing “just,” especially in dialogue. But for the most part, you don’t need it, and too many can make your dialogue or prose repetitive.

These are a few of the countless errors I’ve made. Hopefully you won’t fall into the same traps. So until next time have a writeous day!
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Matt Williams is an avid reader, a collector of many pens, an ever improving father of two, and an all-around fanboy. When he’s not wrestling with cats or a long commute you can find him hunkered down writing something imaginative. He’s working on publishing his first book Beyond Here, a middle grade story involving a coma and a singing flower with a bent stem sometime in 2016, along with a few projects with his other daughter.

Hear Me Out: Adding Voice to Stories

If it weren’t for writing you probably wouldn’t hear me at all. For a dark skinned, 6’3, bald guy with the physique of a NFL linebacker, you’d think it would difficult to blend in with the scenery. However I manage to do this quite well.

While I may not like to hear my voice in real life the one place I do want it heard is in my stories. Here are a few ways I keep my voice in stories.

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Audiobooks

Yes, this isn’t officially my voice, but I’ve found that listening to great stories helps me in crafting my own. I have three hours of commute five days a week so that’s a lot of time to think about stories and listen to how they should be created. My weapons of choice are the paid service of Audible and the library offered service of Overdrive. While on my drives I can listen to how a cadence should be, how worlds are built in genres I’m unfamiliar with, and other tools of the trade. Reading will always be our best teacher to better writing, and audiobooks are a great way to keep that education going.

Speech Recognition Software

I have fallen in love with the Dragon Speech Recognition software! Since I write longhand I get to read what I’m working on aloud. In doing so I can hear what works and what doesn’t work. Going over the passages one by one makes it incredibly easy to sure up what are weak parts of the story and what should be taken out. If you don’t have the Dragon you can try Google’s speech recognition out in their Drive or GoogleDoc apps.

Text-To-Speech

A recent discover (to me at least) has been the text-to-speech feature on Kindle. You can send your manuscript to your kindle and then use the feature to read your story back to you. Although it is a slightly robotic sound (think Siri) it will sound as if your words are being read by a member of your audience. You can hear how it would sound from someone else.

These are a few things I use to add voice to my stories. What are some things you use? Until next time have a writeous day!

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Matt Williams is an avid reader, a collector of many pens, an ever improving father of two, and an all-around fanboy. When he’s not wrestling with cats or a long commute you can find him hunkered down writing something imaginative. He’s working on publishing his first book Beyond Here, a middle grade story involving a coma and a singing flower with a bent stem sometime in 2016, along with a few projects with his other daughter.

The Love of Writing

Happy Love Day everyone!

It’s that special time of the year where we shower those we love with gifts, compliments, and all the things we should be doing anyway throughout the year. So what about that other love you have? What about writing? Doesn’t that special part of you need a little reminder of what it means to you? What would you say? Well this is what I would say:

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Dear Writing,

It’s been awhile, too long in fact since I’ve told you what you mean to me. I’m sorry for that. Too many times you’ve been there for me, even when I didn’t ask for it.

Remember when we first met?I just moved to a new home in a new town when I was ten. I didn’t know anyone, but there you were. You came to me in spurts here and there. Little blips of a story. Sometimes it came together, other times it was a hot mess. No matter how those stories came out I was happier than I’ve ever been.

It was just you and me since that moment. No matter what tried to bring me down you were always there to keep me upright. Word by word we battled depression and anxiety. You gave me confidence I never knew I had.

Of course there was that time I allowed someone to convince me I didn’t need you. That was that biggest mistake of my life. You’re a part of me. You always will be. During that time I couldn’t say I was better. I couldn’t say I was happy. That’s what you give me: happiness.

I love you, Writing, for now and for always.

Love,

Me

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Matt Williams is an avid reader, a collector of many pens, an ever improving father of two, and an all-around fanboy. When he’s not wrestling with cats or a long commute you can find him hunkered down writing something imaginative. He’s working on publishing his first book Beyond Here, a middle grade story involving a coma and a singing flower with a bent stem sometime in 2016, along with a few projects with his other daughter.