Best of the Week: February 19, 2017 - Travis Senzaki

Best of the Week: February 19, 2017

futility bicycle square wheels

I have so little time to write that I hate having to give up anything I’ve finished. But sometimes, it has to go. – Image by Alan O’Rourke

This week, I got my exercies shoveling snow. On at least one occasion, it was falling faster than I could get rid of it. Time to give up for a bit!

Sometimes writing feels that way for me, too. I’m still working on my first short story, but the more progress I make, the more I realize remains to be done. I read one article this week (not shared below, because I couldn’t agree) talking about how a 5000-word short story is nothing. If it doesn’t work, get rid of it and move on.

Seriously? This “short story” has taken me over a month! But then, I’m new to it and I’m doing it to work on my craft, so slow and deliberate are my watchwords. “Children” is also my watchword. I’m not going to turn my back on time with my kids for the sake of a story. So that means my writing time is deliberately limited. I don’t resent it, by any means, it is what I want. (But sometimes, I do resent those people who can write all day with no external commitments and don’t understand other people’s situations when doling out advice).

Giving Up is Not an Option

Not for this story. This is going to be the first story that I complete – all the way through the editing and publishing phases. It’s not going to become just another junked first draft.

But giving up on a scene? The ending scene that I poured so much work into? Well, it doesn’t work so, for the sake of the story, I decided it had to go. My net word count for the week is a loss, but I did learn a lot more about my characters and flesh them out. So, as far as the story goes, I’ll call it a win.

Writing Career Advice

Live Video in Social Media – Michael Stelzner (guest), Smart Passive Income Podcast

SPI 252: Live Streaming Video and the Data that Proves Its Worth with Michael Stelzner

I’ve been afraid of video because it seems so difficult, but this presentation made it sound completely doable. I even thought about doing this weekly roundup post as a video sometime soon. (Sign up for the mailing list to find out when that’s coming!) With live being so new, expectations are lower and so is the barrier to entry.

I’m excited to try things like reading a scene from my story – or the whole short story – in a facebook live video to see how that helps get my work out to more people. Anyone have any experience with this?

You Don’t Start with an Audience of Millions – Sean Platt, Sterling & Stone

What if I Don’t Have an Audience?

I love this article about starting small. So many people giving writing advice – including the guys at Sterling &am; Stone – are already huge. They have mailing lists of thousands or tens of thousands. They interview other authors in the same position.

When you’re just starting out, I find it’s easy to get discouraged when everyone talks about leveraging the audience you already have. Almost nobody talks about how to get your stories into the hands of that first core group of fans-to-be, why that’s different, and why the difference is important.

It’s like the difference between cultivating a personal veggie garden and industrial scale agriculture (not that I’ve done either). Take pleasure in small audiences – or in raising that first cilantro plant. (Yes, cilantro. If I could grow anything, that would be it!)

This blog is going to be my record of going from zero audience (and zero works) as a fiction author to what will one day be a successful career. If you’re on the same path, let me know in the comments. I look forward to sharing that journey with you.

Writing Advice

The Difference between a Plot and just Stuff that Happens – K.M. Weiland, Writers Helping Writers

How to Write a Story Without a Plot (and Why You Shouldn’t)

I read this article because I thought it was going to be a snarky attack on so-called “literary” fiction. It turns out, it was really about the difference between a plot and random stuff that happens.

There’s a helpful list of 6 characteristics that successful plots must have, which alone is worth the read.

Even if the author makes the questionable assumption that literary fiction and Picasso have artistic merit, the important thing to realize is that you are not Picasso and your work does need to have an engaging and consistent plot.

Establishing a Writing Habit – Kellie McGann, The Write Practice

Why Setting an Intention Will Double Your Writing Success

I’m a huge believer in approaching everything with intention, and my writing habit is no different. Despite kids and a full-time job, I have written at least 250 words per day every day (except one, which was also intentional) for the last 5 years.

I find that setting a goal for myself – 250 words is the minimum target of the Magic Spreadsheet community – and tracking it (using the Magic Spreadsheet and Habitica) is enough now to push me to get the job done. I will find time to make it work, come hell or high water.

But when you’re just starting out, setting a goal with details, like this article suggests, is hugely helpful. If you’re struggling to find the time to write, check it out!

How to Approach Editing a Scene – K.M. Weiland, Writers Helping Writers

8 Ways to Troubleshoot a Scene–and 5 Ways Make It Fabulous

I’m nearly finished with the first draft of my short story and I have the story structure more or less in place. But I know my scenes are cringe-worthy (and I knew they were going to end up that way before I started).

That’s not a problem for a first draft, but I’m almost to the editing stage, and this looks like a great set of tests to run during the edits to make sure the individual scenes work. It’s all about the incremental improvement!

What Are Your Favorite Resources?

Did I miss something amazing this week? Or maybe something older I should catch up on? I look forward to hearing from you in the comments.

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