Writers’ Tools

One of the best things about being a writer is that I can pretty much do it anywhere. I carry a pocket notebook, ink pen, and phone at all times; and all three items can fit into the same pocket. So whether I want to jot notes, blog or even work on larger projects, all of it is within a very short reach. That has to be one of the best, if not the best, feature of the profession.

However, when I look at other artistry professions, there is a “gear envy” that I find myself battling against. What I’m trying to say is that with my pen, notebook and phone, I could be a student, businessman or any other organized human being in America. Think about a guitarist. Not only is he going to have a guitar, but there are different types of guitars that produce different types of sounds. Let’s say we have a barber; there a different blades and clippers to produce different cuts. Photographers use different cameras and lenses. Painters use different types of paints and brushes. It seems like every other creative art have a gear package that you can build to do whatever it is that you do… And only that!

It’s not like I hate the other artists, it’s just that there is nothing a writer carries or uses that only a writer would have; except a typewriter. The typewriter is the only thing that only a writer would have. Everybody uses pens. It doesn’t matter what brand you buy or how many you have; it’s still a pen. Notebooks and paper are used by everyone. Softwares don’t count because that’s not physical equipment. I doubt if anyone that is not a writer want to hear about the capabilities of White Smoke… because it’s software… and software is boring and non-tangible. The only thing that I can think of that means writer, and writer only, is a typewriter. You’re not going to have a typewriter to do anything else with besides writing. That’s all you can do with it. This is why in December 2014, typewriters are still relevant (in my personal opinion); because it is all we have that we can brag on that no one else would ever use. Besides that little weird lady with the glasses who types everything during court, no other profession would ever use a typewriter! That’s our thing; but I feel like we should have at least one other thing. Or maybe I’m just looking for a reason to have more gadgets.

Anyway, it’s not that I want people to see me and say, “Oh that guy has a _______. He’s a writer.” I simply wish there was some tool or object that we could carry around and compare with each other like other artists do. We just have to admire the complete work… Unless we type it on and read it from a typewriter.

(And this was a writer’s temper tantrum.)

Week 11 Recap

Well, week 11 is done. I really enjoy this time of year, but it can get ridiculously busy — especially if you stick a major holiday in the middle of the week. I hope everyone enjoyed their Thanksgiving giving thanks to God and enjoying it with family and friends.

The week started with the Ferguson decision. Darren Wilson was held completely unaccountable for the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown. NFL football player and outspoken Christian, Benjamin Watson, shared his thoughts on the situation. I don’t think there were better words to describe the overall feeling of myself and probably a large percentage of people across the United States. There was also some CCN footage which was cut short for some unknown reason as well while he was explaining that the state of the nation may be because of the lack of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Maybe it was coincidence. Nonetheless, I gained a role model as a Christian. If he can preach and stand by the Gospel as a professional football player in the spotlight and with millions to lose, if he becomes subject to attack for his views, there is no reason I should not be able to do the same with the little I have. I would rather stand for what I believe with the little I have, than to gain the whole world and compromise on Christ. If only one person is saved from the example that Benjamin Watson set on behalf of Michael Brown, his death will not have been in vain. However, we will continue to keep the city and families involved in our prayers.

On November 26th and 28th I wrote on Quality and Quantity. I had fun with these; discussing what writers have to deal with All. Of. The. Time! I got some good feedback from other writers who checked in on the topics. In the first post I wrote based on the fact that I prefer quality every time over quantity. The post was short; only slightly more that 600 words, but it took two hours for me to complete. However, the post I wrote to illustrate the disadvantage of quantity writing only took about forty minutes to complete. It was more words, but it was so poorly written that I almost recanted on the idea. I got excellent feedback though, and I believe it really did a great job at getting my point across.

I realized though, that I did not get the usual feedback from my regular readers. Then I realized I had I only addressed an audience of writers this week. That’s one of the downsides of having multiple interests though. There is never enough time to address everything. I learned a little bit from the other writers though, and I really enjoyed it — probably because I write. Another thing too, that I will probably address this week, is that writers have to read! That’s how we get better at our craft and stay inspired. Reading is just as necessary to a writer as writing is, and I think it’s overlooked most of the time. The problem is though, that it’s hard enough to find time to write, so unfortunately, I may have to take some time off just to catch up on reading.

Well that is all for this week. I can never thank you all enough for reading, the encouragement and support. I am really looking forward to 2015 and the support that I get from everyone on a weekly basis makes anything seem possible. I had someone tell me this week that they read the entire Thirty Seconds Ago… series. Even though it may not be the core of who I am as a writer, the fact that I captured their attention and held it throughout the entire series means a lot to me; and I appreciate them telling me that.

Thank you guys for another great week. Remember to keep an open perspective next week and look to show some compassion and love. You may change someone else’s perspective on life with just a smile or a kind word.

Quality or Quantity – Part 2

The other night I posted on the topic of quality or quantity. That short post took a little over two hours to write, even after I had noted and thought about the topic throughout the day. (Check it out HERE.) It didn’t matter though because i have to go over everything over and over again before I’m comfortable with it.

After I wrote part one, I had the idea to defend my position on why I take as much time as I do when editing even something as small as a 600 word blog post. To do so, I decided to write this showing the difference in what a few extra minutes of revisions can make. Even though the length of these two posts are about the same, the time that it took to produce this one is on a limit of thirty minutes. I’m cutting the time. Like I said in part one of this topic, I would love to improve on the time that it takes me to write and complete a project. However, until I get to that point, these are the type of things that you will be reading if I start focusing on quantity before I have developed an acceptable quality that matches that desired speed. It’s called efficiency, I think. Because I know if you had to force yourself to read pass all of this grammatical nonsense every time you read something with my name on it, it would not be long before you just gave up on me all together… and I wouldn’t blame you. I can’t read crap either. Anything worth appreciation takes time. If you can produce something worth appreciation quickly, it took time for you to grow develop that efficiency. It’s called patience, I think.

This is just an example of what you would be subjected to if I put myself on a limit that is too demanding for my skill level. It produces crap. I’m not ashamed of this post because it’s an illustration of what writers go through before they share something with their readers. As a matter of fact, I’m sure this is a lot better simply because I know there will be people reading it. Some times I write from scraps of paper that I took notes on throughout the day. Once I put it on paper, it’s still the same crap, now just consolidated to one editable location. Then I have to cut out the useless and insert better word and sometimes by the time I’m finished, not that was on those scraps of paper is in the completed work, but the ideas are the same. I am very curious to see how that process works for artists in other areas, but I’m sure 99% of writers can relate to what I’m saying now. If you think you can just grab some notes from a writer and follow what he or she is thinking from those notes, you are wrong. Half the time, I don’t even know what my notes are pertaining to; I have to think and remember.

Useless image to back up the tangent that I just went on
Useless image to back up the tangent that I just went on

I’m going to wrap it up now. Notice that the title of this post is “Quality or Quantity – Part 2”, when it should be “Quality vs. Quantity – Part Two” so that it stays consistent. When focusing on quantity though, inconsistencies happen. In the previous paragraph, I went on a tangent about drafting, that had nothing to do with quality or quantity in the context that I am focusing on. I hope this provides a better illustration of how easy it is for a writer to produce crap. I did very little backspacing in this post and change only a few words to help get my point across.

END (because there has not been a lot of structure, and I want you to know that I’m done)

Quality vs. Quantity – Part One

As a writer, a type of artist if you will, I constantly have to revisit the theories of Quality vs. Quantity in regards to productivity. Anyone who practice anything will probably cross this path more often than they would like — I know I do.

For me, I have to decide whether or not I’m satisfied with the quality of what I have written before labeling it as completed. Quantity has never been a concern of my personal writings. I never consider word count; but I need for every word I write to count. I have only cared about quality. However, now that I blog, I try to stay consistent in posting. This keeps me on my toes about scheduling times to produce since I already know that I will not post anything thrown together. If I expect anyone to read and enjoy anything that I have written, I should at least see to it that I give them a level of coherency that makes the ready relatable and enjoyable. That’s what quality is for me in my art. It is very time consuming, but it’s worth my satisfaction in having just one appreciative reader.

I appreciate other peoples’ arts and the time that they put into what they do. More than anything else, I always look for the prep work. The prep work is what shows how serious a person is about their craft. Take a painter for example, at the end of the day all we see is the finished piece, and we may envision them painting it as we ask, “So what inspired you for this piece?” But consider the newspaper they collect to spread over the floors. Think about the fact that the room may have to be a certain temperature for the paints that they used. Think about all of what goes into an art before it is actually completed. That’s where the quality happens. You could just throw the turkey into an oven and let it cook; but consider the chef that prepares a brine for the turkey to soak in for sixteen hours BEFORE the cooking even starts. That’s where the quality happens. Think about the barber who cuts you a really nice hair cut; but then consider the barber who washes and conditions your hair first for more precise styling. That’s where the quality happens. Preparation is what I always look for in a completed work of any standard; that might have started when I started cooking though, to be honest.

The fact of the matter is that if I wrote one hundred books a year, and ninety of them were trash, the chances of the ten good ones making the best sellers list is still going to be pretty slim. However, if I produced twelve quality books a years, the chances of one of those twelve making it on the list would be pretty slim. The key is producing quality in large quantities. By the time your work has been filtered through to find only the good stuff that you have produced, those works may be considered lucky because of the low percentage. That’s why I refuse to label anything as complete if I am not satisfied with it. In the meantime I will focus on speeding up my methodology without sacrificing and quality.

So for this argument, I have to choose quality. I believe quantity without quality is simply a waste of time; shooting in the dark. I believe that discovered quality in a mound of quantity is luck; and I refuse to place my success in luck.

Schizophrenia and Writing

Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.”  -E. L. Doctorow

As a writer, I see the validity in this quote and have to agree… To an extent, because I will not admit to schizophrenia in any form.


Writing does expose much of who you truly are. Often your work will not be a reflection of the life you live on a daily basis. Even if it does reflect how you live, it will still advertise why you live the way you do. For example, I live a pretty quiet life. My words are few, but my opinions are strong. So if you take this combination, any of my acquaintances may be taken aback by some views that I have on racism, classism, sexism or any other ism. While I do not share my views and opinions on everything and with everyone, I do feel as though everyone should hold a view and opinion on everything; and if not everything, as much as possible.

I believe that most of the world’s problems come from simply an extreme excess of  talking and advising and not nearly enough listening and reasoning. This is not a new theory though; and is in fact a common one among writers and philosophers. Most of each profession will rarely be outspoken because they spend most of their time observing. So when they write, the belligerence and boldness in their tones and styles will starkly contrast the quiet persona that you may be more accustomed to. The writer, takes a topic in question, analyze it, writes it out, revises it and then publishes it for public reading. For that writing to relevant or influential, it may have to go against general perception. Whereas a banker may think the exact same thing, his job is not display his personal thoughts to the world. That can be an intimidating place to put yourself in.

There is a fear that accompanies writers that few other professions will experience. We put our thoughts, feelings, hopes, desires, dreams, fears and everything else that you can think of on paper for the world to indulge in; then await a sign of a approval. The first thing is to realize, is that there is no way everyone will agree with the way you view things; hence “Perspective” Park. The second thing is that the more truthful you are with yourself, the more you will speak out on those perspectives and views, no matter how personal they are to you. Then, the more you do that, the more your daily life and written life will start to merge; streamlining into an unashamed and complete individual, needing less approval now having more confidence.

The next time you ask a writer to share, consider that every written word belongs to a thought in that writer’s mind. Every page belongs to a day in his/her life. Each chapter uncovers another layer of what would have been unknown emotions and every character has a real face despite the words describing them. The way a writer values their works is indicative of the how much of themselves went into it. The more of themselves went into it, the harder it can be open up to sharing. Until that long bridge of fear can be crossed and the fact that the paper is fused with the life of the person does not matter, there will always reluctance.

I like to think of Ernest Hemingway, the author of The Old Man and the Sea. When he published that classic he had become an old man who simply enjoyed fishing, and from that came one of the greatest literary works in American history. But would he have been able to publish that as a young man? Would he have been comfortable displaying or could he even properly conveyed all of the insecurities and frailties which he had faced in aging? As a writer myself, I don’t think so. The emotions conveyed by any character in any story all come from a single person’s mind and heart, and usually that mind and heart has experienced what is being read. So even though society may accept, the schizophrenia that is a writer, the writer does not always readily accept the separation of life and literature. It takes years of practice before the two are one and the same, and it takes patience and courage to do so.