Tag Archives: Writing

My Top-Ten Writing Guidelines

Another article I wrote some time back (when I re-launched this website, I had lost all my previous uploads such as photos and pdf files).

My Top-Ten Writing Guidelines

I don’t believe in writing ‘rules’ because there aren’t any. There are NO laws governing writing because even ‘rules’ on grammar and usage keep changing over time. What doesn’t change is the infinite variations on the writing process based on individual writers and their need to communicate with the written word.

But if I have to impart any advice to writers it would be the following:

1) Don’t write to perfection. There will be a few but very rare times when something comes out the first time and doesn’t require any significant editing. Most of the time, your writing will require multiple rounds of editing to make it work well.

2) Remember, you can always revise later. As one of my all-time favorite authors Nora Roberts once said, “You can’t revise a blank page.” Get it down first so you can revise and edit. Because revisions and edits are a fact-of-life with writing.

3) Edit and revise but don’t beat the crap out of yourself in the process. I know so many writers who write and edit while beating themselves up at the same time. Yes, there are times when you’ll read something and not have any idea what you were trying to say. But unless you were writing drunk, high, or seriously messed-up, cut yourself some slack.

4) Try to understand that writing is purely subjective. What one person likes someone else won’t. Accept that as a fact of life and try to figure out what it is that works, or doesn’t work for you.

5) Writing days can be up and down. Some days the words will flow out of you like a water tap turned on full. And sometimes it will be a trickle. And some days the tap will be dry. Yes, you can push yourself but if the writing isn’t flowing, you might need to take a step back to try and figure out why.

6) Don’t adhere to absolutes with writing. For some writers, adverbs don’t work at all and for some writers they’re good friends that can be very useful. Personally, I don’t have a problem with adverbs though I do make sure they serve a purpose and aren’t just marshmallow fluff.

7) Don’t compare yourself to other writers. You’ll always fall short sooner or later and then you’ll feel bad and probably not be able to write. I believe every writer has to figure things out for themselves and you have to do what’s best for you.

8) Read your work out loud to yourself. I believe in this because when you read something out loud not only do you hear the rhythm of your words, you’ll also catch a lot of mistakes, too.

9) Know that with writing, like anything else you do in life, you will get better over time if you keep at it. Because if you keep learning, you’ll push yourself to go further and deeper and your writing will get better because of that.

10) Don’t let Fear stop you from writing. This is advice I really need to take myself but knowing that I’ve retreated from my writing because of Fear is the first step in moving away from it. Don’t let the bullies and jerks of this world ruin writing for you, and don’t give them any power over you.

Good luck with your writing.

My Top 10 Writing Guidelines pdf

Write and Edit (and Live Your Life) Instead of Beating Yourself Up

My late father always used to say to never get into a one-legged ass-kicking contest with yourself because you’ll always win. I want to apply this to writing because I see so many writers beating the crap out of themselves simply for writing stuff that isn’t perfect on a first draft.

I know going in every single time I put my fingers on the keyboard and begin tapping things out that I’ll be going back over what I wrote and add and delete like mad. But I was taught writing and editing went hand-in-hand and that you couldn’t have one without the other. I will admit in the past I used to look at what I wrote and think, ‘who in the hell wrote this steaming pile of shit?’ That was only because I wrote stuff that was all over the place and needed one hell of an editing job, not because I didn’t think I couldn’t write or that I shouldn’t write, or worst of all, that no one would ever like it.

Not everyone is going to like what you write so no use pissing and moaning about it. If you find yourself doing that, just stop it. And if you think you’re supposed to do that in order to be thought of as a ‘real writer’, that’s a load of bullocks. Because like I said before, you don’t have to do anything, and you will never be everything to everyone, and your writing will not be everyone’s cup of tea.

Good writing involves a ton of editing to make it work as well as it can. As I type this here, I keep going back over what I wrote and if I need to edit something I do. And most of all when I am editing, I don’t call myself an idiot or any of that bullshit.

I will admit here I used to be terribly anxious about writing certain things and posting them for the world to see on the internet. I used to be worried about what people would think and that they would let me know in no uncertain terms if they hated me and what I wrote. A lot of that fear was just internal anxiety and hormonal bullshit but I had to work through that to get to where I’m at now. And I’ve been lucky in that I made a key breakthrough in my mind that gave me the ability to let go of a lot of emotional baggage that I didn’t need to carry around.

But to be honest here, I haven’t gotten a lot of feedback on what I’ve been posting so far. Which is fine by me as I don’t do this to get clicks or feedback or anything like that. Right now I’m just doing this to get in the grove of writing and editing every day and putting my work out there. Because writing, like anything else you do, is something you’ll only get good at by doing it. And you won’t get good at something by beating the crap out of yourself while you’re doing it.

I used to think that I had to beat myself up and put myself down so that other people couldn’t do it to me first. It was like I thought if I did it to myself that other people wouldn’t do it to me. That wasn’t the case because if someone wants to talk shit to you, they will. How you deal with that is entirely up to you. And for me, it’s letting that shit roll of me like water off a duck’s ass.

So rounding back to writing here specifically: don’t beat the crap out of yourself and your writing. It’s a waste of time and energy that can be much better spent on writing and editing till your work flows as well as it can.

And if someone out there doesn’t like that, just say ‘bullocks’ to them and get back to work.

Writing Inspiration Bullocks

I’m sure there is someone out in this world who would love to slap my mouth shut for putting those three words together in today’s blog title. But sometimes I feel like all I see when it comes to writing is finding the motivation and inspiration to write instead of complete works of writing instead.

So in response to all that glorious writing motivation and inspiration I say this:

You don’t have to write.

I know you may feel like if you don’t write your brain is going to explode or all your wonderful ideas and stories will just die with you and take a few million years to regroup from the stardust of your demise. But that’s not going to happen because you felt like you had to write, but because you went out and wrote then edited the crap out of what you wrote till it shined like a clean toilet.

I write despite all the bullshit that comes along with it. But I refuse to be all high-and-mighty and lofty and say ‘I have to write’. No, for me it is a conscious choice to park my butt and write the words and edit the crap out of them before I share them with the rest of the world.

For me it’s never been about having the need to write, but wanting to do it. It’s wanting to see the words hit the page, wanting to push myself to sharpen them to the brightest points, and hearing their truth not just inside my head, but with my own ears, too.

I know I don’t have to be in the perfect mood to write. I know my mind can be a mess and most of all, I know it doesn’t have to be set in a certain way. I can write in a flying-hot good mood, or in a dark and cold pisser of a mood. And I can always edit until I get it to where it flows the way I want it to. I don’t have to kill my darlings but instead keep at them until they make it out of the jungle of my mind.

I don’t need a room of my own, or a lot of time, either. And as for the thoughts that question the worth of my words and whether they’re good enough for others to see, bullocks to them. I know someone out in the world won’t like me and what I write, but I’ve kept on going despite being told that in more variations than I care to admit to. Every day I feel like I’m learning more and more how to kick that crap out of my way even when it keeps coming into my path.

So if you’re looking for any writing inspiration from me I’ll tell you one thing: write because you want to, and never mind the bullocks that comes along with it.

After the Writing Hiatus

I have decided to take a hiatus from writing until probably after Christmas. I want to give myself some more time to work out future content and narrow my project focus. So the new goals are by my birthday next year:

  • Breaking Radio Silence (non-fiction)
  • Not Enough Time (novel)
  • Untitled Poetry Book

After that and hopefully by the end of next year I’ll have at least one more novel (the sequel to ‘Not Enough Time’) and a collection of short stories to publish. As for another non-fiction book, I don’t know when that will happen as I don’t have a firm idea to work with yet.

I’ve ground to a halt writing-wise for a few reasons including working through an issue I’ve been alternately dancing around and backing away from for more years than I care to admit. Also, there was so much I wanted to do this year but realized I couldn’t do it because I didn’t have enough hours in the day and also the projects didn’t come together enough to form up into books. I’ve been writing poetry in the meantime and that’s helped a lot. I want to record the poetry because I feel poetry is best read out loud but I need to get a decent microphone for that. And that takes time, too (it’s not easy getting a clean take sometimes).

Once I’ve gotten a hold on the projects between now and the end of the year I promise this blog will go back online. But before I can do that, I need to go through the question that’s held me back for oh-so-long (trust me, I’ll blog about it once I’m able to write about it in a way you can understand).

So if I don’t post again,

Happy Holidays!

Merry Christmas!

Happy New Year!

Realms of Romance: A Heated Return

I am very happy to announce that I will be having a story published in the ‘Realms of Romance’ anthology coming out on December 15 (pre-sales are now available at Amazon.com). The anthology will be published by Rhetoric Askew for the Writers Unite! Facebook group which I am an administrator for.

Here’s a blurb for my story:

Nick and Chloe work for a top-flight security firm out of London and have been friends for some time. But upon Nick’s return from an overseas assignment, they finally take a chance on their attraction to each other. But when Nick gets another assignment in a dangerous place, Chloe can only watch from afar and wonder if she can handle loving a man who regularly courts danger.

Here’s the link for pre-order HERE

 

 

The Four Seasons of South Texas

This was originally published in January 2011 in the San Antonio Express-News.

 The Four Seasons of South Texas

I have heard many times that there are only two seasons in South Texas: hot and not so hot. I don’t believe that because it does get below ninety degrees after September and the trees do change colors.

But how do you know the seasons have changed?

I know it’s Spring when I see the first bluebonnets along the side of the road. Spring is a sea of wildflowers and trees budding out along with grass turning green. It’s mornings that have a bit of nip in the air and afternoons that are warm but not too hot. Though if you’ve lived in South Texas for more than a year or two you know to be on the lookout for that last cold front that drops temperatures fifty degrees in one afternoon along with a blast of cold rain. But once that last cold front moves through, it’s blue skies and sun all the time.

Then there is summer, the most famous season in South Texas. Summer is blazing blue skies with a side of haze, and humidity that makes you want to wring out the air. That first blast of heat ignites a burning desire for cold drinks, water parks, and fun. The grass is green if we’ve had rain and brown dust if we haven’t. You see yellow lantana blooms along with hibiscus and bougainvillea in every planter in the city. It’s the smell of barbeque, cold beer and margaritas at every party. It’s ice cream and raspas, shorts and flip flops. And if all else fails, you can find someplace with air-conditioning to get out of the heat.

Fall comes later in this part of the hemisphere though you know it’s here when there’s a chill in the mornings and the afternoons aren’t as hot. It’s traveling through the Hill Country and seeing the trees changing color and the grass turning to light-brown and swaying in the fall winds as you drive to the Hill Country. Then there’s that first blue ‘Norther cold front, and the burnt dust smell when you turn on your heater for the first time. It’s also time to put away the flip flops and pull out the socks.

Finally, Winter comes. Temperatures stay below burning-hot and above bracing cold unless a cold front has blown through. Winter is snuggling in coats as you shop or take in the lights on the Riverwalk. It’s also abundant sunshine on Christmas so kids can go outside and play with all their new toys. It’s bright blue sky, star-filled skies at night, and tamales and sweets at every party in town.

The seasons do change in South Texas in sight and smell, sound and delight. And all you have to do to see that is look at the changing colors and savor the delights of each season. And remember, the cold never lasts more than a few days.

Unlike the heat….

My Top Ten Writing Guidelines

I don’t believe in writing ‘rules’ because there aren’t any. There are NO laws governing writing because even ‘rules’ on grammar and usage keep changing over time. What doesn’t change is the infinite variations on the writing process based on individual writers and their need to communicate with the written word.

But if I have to impart any advice to writers it would be the following:

1) Don’t write to perfection. There will be a few but very rare times when something comes out the first time and doesn’t require any significant editing. Most of the time, your writing will require multiple rounds of editing to make it work well.

2) Remember, you can always revise later. As one of my all-time favorite authors Nora Roberts once said, “You can’t revise a blank page.” Get it down first so you can revise and edit. Because revisions and edits are a fact-of-life with writing.

3) Edit and revise but don’t beat the crap out of yourself in the process. I know so many writers who write and edit while beating themselves up at the same time. Yes, there are times when you’ll read something and not have any idea what you were trying to say. But unless you were writing drunk, high, or seriously messed-up, cut yourself some slack.

4) Try to understand that writing is purely subjective. What one person likes someone else won’t. Accept that as a fact of life and try to figure out what it is that works, or doesn’t work for you.

5) Writing days can be up and down. Some days the words will flow out of you like a water tap turned on full. And sometimes it will be a trickle. And some days the tap will be dry. Yes, you can push yourself but if the writing isn’t flowing, you might need to take a step back to try and figure out why.

6) Don’t adhere to absolutes with writing. For some writers, adverbs don’t work at all and for some writers they’re good friends that can be very useful. Personally, I don’t have a problem with adverbs though I do make sure they serve a purpose and aren’t just marshmallow fluff.

7) Don’t compare yourself to other writers. You’ll always fall short sooner or later and then you’ll feel bad and probably not be able to write. I believe every writer has to figure things out for themselves and you have to do what’s best for you.

8) Read your work out loud to yourself. I believe in this because when you read something out loud not only do you hear the rhythm of your words, you’ll also catch a lot of mistakes, too.

9) Know that with writing, like anything else you do in life, you will get better over time if you keep at it. Because if you keep learning, you’ll push yourself to go further and deeper and your writing will get better because of that.

10) Don’t let Fear stop you from writing. This is advice I really need to take myself but knowing that I’ve retreated from my writing because of Fear is the first step in moving away from it. Don’t let the bullies and jerks of this world ruin writing for you, and don’t give them any power over you.

Good luck with your writing.