How to make the Time to Write (via: @RosBaxter, HT: @altait)

Ros Baxter gives some advice on finding time to write. I need this, because I suck at time management:

I once read that Capote would write lying casually on a couch (probably a chaise lounge), with a glass of sherry in one hand and a pencil in another. TS Elliot had a hideaway above Chatto & Windus, a publishing house on St Martin’s Lane. Edgar Allen Poe could only write in black; Mark Twain in white.

I suspect if they had a smartphone with a constantly scrolling newsfeed and/or Angry Birds it might have had some impact on their productivity.

Ros gives us 7 things to help get that time in. I’ve used 5 quite effectively, with just a low ‘300 word’ requirement.

  1. Become a voyeur.
  2. Staple a notebook to your arse.
  3. Set goals.
  4. Make time to write every day.
  5. Set yourself a daily word count.
  6. Not feeling creative?
  7. Finally, be grateful

Details and explanations at the original article if you’re keen:

Australian Book Releases

Simple but effective. An updating list of Australian book releases. Discoverability still hasn’t been solved, so this is a small step to help.

The site isn’t automated, so there’s no guarantee that everything is updated but:

If you are an author or publisher whose book(s) does not appear here, please contact us by email on australianbookreleases [at] gmail [dot] com.

Check it out here:

Become a Better Storyteller Through Dungeons and Dragons (via @lifehackerau)

I’ve been a proud player of Dungeons and Dragons and other tabletop role playing games since 1990, and I insist to doubters that running a communal storytelling game like this is good for all sorts of real-world skills, from conflict management to brainstorming to improvisation and more. It’s also good for—surprise!—story telling:

As a storyteller of any kind, the way you weave your narrative determines whether people stay engaged. The classic role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons can teach you how to construct strong stories and how to collaborate with others in a way that’s fun.

There are a few links to other stories in that article, too. They delve deeper into both the phenomenon of the Dungeons and Dragons product and the benefits of storytelling.

Read more here:

You’ve Been Fictionalized! (via @parisreview, HT: @ElectricLit)

As writers we have the extraordinary power to take our experiences and turn them into fiction. But that power also allows us to take individuals and turn them into caricatures, angels or monsters. Use your powers wisely, oh author:

It isn’t as if a writer merely records life as it unfurls. Reality does not automatically transcribe as literature; real people are not shapely, compelling characters to be harvested. Charming facts and sharp observations rarely slide seamlessly into whatever narrative is at hand. To fictionalize material—any material, real or imaginary—is to subject it to the demands, the conventions, and rigors of the project at hand. A fictional narrative is constructed, shaped, and sized, its raw material muted, amplified, trimmed, and minced, recombined and recolored.

The writer Susan Taylor Chehak said that she was fictionalized once, “But by the time she got me to fit, I wasn’t me anymore.”

Have you ever succumbed to the temptation of injection someone into a story?

Not all are as cool-headed as Chehak. Some of the fictionalized share a wide streak of solipsism—for them, a few recognized facts can trigger a strong response. I have one friend who, years before I knew her, lived in Round Rock, Texas. She told me how, drunk in her youth, she’d once called some policemen “pin dicks” as they were driving her down to the station. I stole that line and gave it to a young man as he was being hauled to the police station in my first novel, Round Rock, which was named for a drunk farm near Piru, California, where round rocks occur naturally in the riverbed—it had nothing to do with Texas. My friend read two pages of this novel and phoned, furious. Not only had I named my novel after the place where she used to live, I’d put her words into my character’s mouth. “You stole my life!” she said.

There’s a lot more there, and I think it’s worth reading.

Read it all here:

And don’t forget this hilarious McSweeney’s article on the same idea.

The best work is always unofficially collaborative (via @alanbaxter)

Alan Baxter talks about the secret ingredient of many published works:

My most recent short story is all my own work supposedly. But it was critiqued by three of my best writing pals. It has significant additional scenes in the middle from one pal’s suggestions, a completely reworked end from another pal’s suggestion, much juggling of motivations from the third pal’s concerns and greatly polished final words from the input of all three. All of those things I’ve just credited separately were actually raised by all three because they’re bloody good advisors. It’s the solutions I used that I’m crediting really, all of them tempered with my own ideas. The best critiquers don’t tell you how to fix something – they just tell you what doesn’t work and maybe why (for them). It’s your job to decide whether to take that on board and it’s your job to fix it.

Read it here. I couldn’t agree more:

When Should You Give Up (via @frippet, HT: @Louise_Swinn)

Sounds like pretty depressing advice, but sometimes it’s worth reading:

I’ve read a few things over the last month or so which have made me realise what a tiny step towards being an author this getting published business is. First, there was this piece from author Annabel Smith about looking for an agent when you have two published novels and a third on the way. Basically, she says, it makes no difference that you’re published. Nothing has changed, it’s still the case that no one wants you; no one cares. If you haven’t sold big, you might as well have never been published. Other authors talked about how if you haven’t sold big, it might even be an impediment to have been published – all the data about your crappy sales lives on forever on BookScan, where prospective publishers can see it and decide you’re really not worth the risk.

Read on:

How Writers End Up On NSA Watchlists (via: @cantrelljason)

When talking about writers and their search histories I’ve joked that there are only two types of people who search for ‘How do I dispose of my wife’s body with a woodchipper’.

Jason Cantrell talks about the realities of quite how dodgy a writer’s web search history can look, and how you might end up on totalitarian government watchlists:

And of course, in addition to researching ponies and Mesopotamian slave names, I did extensive research into decay rates of human bodies. As you can see, I spent quite a bit of time visiting multiple websites on this topic. It’s almost as if I’m planning to enslave someone and I want to know how long it’ll take the body to decay when I finish killing her. But that seems unlikely . . . maybe if we go a bit further back, there’ll be something in my search history that will shed some light on this and explain what I’ve really been up to.

I tried to do this to find out what mad story ideas are shown in my own history, but it seems an earlier version of me had proactively disabled Google’s web search history tracking for my account. Good thinking, yester-me.

Click here and check out Jason’s history, if you dare: