Writing Journal 10.20.2021: Good week overall

Not going to muck around too much on this. I seem to be having good results getting these writing journals out on Wednesdays after writing them a bit ahead of time. I’m also glad that, even though these journal posts are a big part of this blog, they haven’t been the only thing I have been posting in recent months, unlike some times in this blog’s short history.

I have to admit that this week’s totals might be slightly juiced by the fact that I participated in the Iowa Writers’ Corner’s fall writing retreat on Saturday. It was the first time I ever got to be a part of such an event and I loved every second of it. I am very much looking forward to when we do it again sometime next spring.

I managed to get quite of bit of revisions on a long-stalled project, so that juiced the numbers. I wound up revising and planning for 210 minutes last week. Remember, since my daily writing goal is either 500 words or 30 minutes of revisions/planning, that 210 minutes is the equivalent of 3,500 words a week. If I either write for 500 words every day or revise/plan for 30 minutes every day, that comes out to 3,500 words or 210 minutes. So, I had a good week – not a perfect week where I met my quota every day, but close enough to it after a couple months of lackluster numbers that I am quite happy with what I see.

Some other good news is that I managed to sort out my PayPal account, so that might be another tool I might get into down the line. I’m also looking more research into ConvertKit and I’m really leaning toward using that to set up an email list. Of course, if I’m to set up such an email list, I’m going to have to give people some reasons to sign up for that list… and that will be a new experience.

In addition, the more I look into this, the more I’m leaning toward trying to do more on my own rather than find an agent or publisher. I’m tired of just waiting and hoping someone will take a chance on me – I just want to start creating and see if some readers will take a chance on me for once. If there has been one thing that writing fan fiction has taught me, is that the feedback I’ve received lets me know that there are people who do like my writing. I want to not just create those stories, but go out and take them for a ride.

Anyway, here’s the numbers. Keep safe, everyone.

Writing statistics for the week ending 10.16.2021:
+2,619 words written.
Days writing: 3 of 7.
Days revising/planning: 6 of 7 for 210 total minutes.
Daily Writing Goals Met (500+ words or 30 minutes of planning/revisions): 6 of 7 days.

Learning By Reading, Or Trying To Figure Out How To Be A Professional Blogger

Since I happen to be at a writer’s retreat today in Des Moines sponsored by the Iowa Writer’s Corner, I decided to have a nice photo of the state capitol on this blog post because I’m trying to be topical without oversharing. You’re welcome. It has been great to hang out with my fellow writers that I’ve gotten to know and just write, revise, and shoot the breeze with them. It’s been a fantastic experience.

I’m the awkward looking dude in the green cap in back.

I’ve also been working to try and see what I can do to turn this blog into something more… professional? I’ve been working to try and continue the research that I began to just dip my toe into a few of weeks ago. I think I’m… slightly less nervous about starting a good email list than I was last month, and I’m eager enough that I want to actually get going on putting it together.

There have been a lot of things that have rattling around in my head. I now have at least one writing project that is not only “shovel-ready,” as they call construction projects – one book all but done, and an idea for at least two sequels. (One of the common pieces of advice I keep getting is that series are a good sell. One-shots, not so much.) I’m trying to get my head around the idea of actually trying to send it out to possible publishers or agents. Trying to find the perfect audience for a sports drama with an LGBTQ theme might be interesting. I’m not sure that there are too many publishers, for instance, that have a sports emphasis. There are more than a few LGBTQ-oriented publishers, however, but it would be interesting to find out if they would accept a project from a straight cis-male author.

More and more, however, I’m beginning to wonder at this point in my life whether it makes sense for me to just move forward on the self-publishing route. It’s a lot more straightforward to do it these days with all the technology that’s out there.

But then… I’ve always said that I always considered myself more of a sergeant than a general. When I was a reporter, I never could imagine that I would ever sit in an editor’s desk, making the big decisions. I definitely never want to be a principal at a school rather than a teacher. If you think it’s work running a classroom, try and run an entire school. It seems like all of the principals that I ever worked with had really packed schedules and lives.

And going into business for myself would be, at least a little bit, me being in charge. It’s something that’s a bit intimidating for me, and that’s an old feeling I’ve had. But as time goes on, I’ve begun thinking about what I’m waiting for. Maybe I’m not going to be a massive bestseller for my books, but at least they’ll be published. I’d rather have a group of books to talk up rather than just one.

So, that means getting onto ConvertKit to see if I can even begin to set up an email list and figure out what kind of goodies I need to give out to those who decide to sign up. It means looking into Gumroad and seeing if that is a good alternative to Amazon or whether the latter is the best bet. (It’s nice that I already have an Amazon page). Also on that list is Substack, Campfire Blaze, Canva, Netgalley, and Booksirens. (If anyone has had positive or negative experiences with any of those platforms, I’d love to hear about them in the comments.)

With that in mind, I’m moving forward. For right now, that means doing a good investigation into these programs, at least one every two weeks. I’m not going to get everything right, and not everything is going to work. However, I want to keep making progress, even if progress for one day looks like trying to get access to an old PayPal account.

More coming up.

Writing Journal, 10.13.2021: Finally got a good thing going

Well, in addition to the recent news about the new URL for the blog, I wound up having a pretty good writing week, too.

Actually, I think it was one of the best weeks of writing I’ve had since July, now that I had a chance to look it up. I always appreciate it when I surpass my goal for the week (at least 3,500 words per week, 500 per day, or 210 minutes of revising or planning work).

Without getting into too many details, I think a good part of my success this week didn’t have to do with what I was working on. I think what happened was that I managed my time well over the weekend and didn’t try to tire myself out – in fact, I think I did a lot better to take care of myself during the weekend. Over the past few months, I have been seeing a drop-off in productivity. Not this past weekend, however.

So, can I start to make this a trend? Let’s hope so.

Anyway, once again, here’s the stats. Enjoy, and have a safe week.

Writing statistics for the week ending 10.9.2021:
+4,663 words written.
Days writing: 6 of 7.
Days revising/planning: 0 of 7 for 0 total minutes.
Daily Writing Goals Met (500+ words or 30 minutes of planning/revisions): 6 of 7 days.

We’ve Got A New Address, Everyone

I was going to make a quick little post about some of the research I’ve been doing on email lists. Instead, I’m making a new announcement about the site.

I decided to get a bit more serious about the site, so I’ve upgraded it a bit. This blog, my online writing home, is now situated at liegois.media. That’s all you’ll need to do to get to this blog to hear from me about writing, read some of my writing, and occasionally see me.


Funky photo/artist’s filter of an actual photo of me. You’re welcome.

As far as what will change with the site… not much, at first. I do believe that I will be using this more as a vehicle for spreading the word about past, present, and future projects, and other things about writing.

All of this is going to take some time, I think. I’m only just diving into some research about what to do for email lists, how to get them set up, and so on.

Until then, I will just say that I’m looking forward to growing and improving this blog for all of my readers. Thanks.

Writing Journal 10.6.2021: A little better at the end of September

My output… wasn’t that bad last week? Still not up to what I want for my quota, but it was the best week I had in about four weeks.

This fanfiction project that has been going on for a while… I think I’m getting tired of it being in my head, like I mentioned last time. Now I am writing for the sole purpose of getting the story done… not as noble as some writing motivation, but it might be good enough for me to get through most of it. I think some of my problem is what I usually have with writing scenes or sections that really get boring for me or I don’t want to muck around with that much. Usually, the solution is to just cut the scenes as much as possible and just move on. That’s what I think I’m going to have to do in this instance.

Not much else to talk about here, although I’m hoping to finally try and put together three posts in a single week. I did like Sunday’s post, however – I think that worked out pretty well.

Here’s the stats. See you later and take care.

Writing statistics for the week ending 10.2.2021:
+2,513 words written.
Days writing: 4 of 7.
Days revising/planning: 0 of 7 for 0total minutes.
Daily Writing Goals Met (500+ words or 30 minutes of planning/revisions): 3 of 7 days.

A Writer’s Biography, Volume II, Part 8: Regarding My Pretensions About Word Processors and My Unrequited Love Affair With The Alphasmart Neo

The words pretentious and writer seem to go together quite a bit. The first word is often used to describe people who title themselves to be the second word. That’s probably not a surprise, considering that many consider writing as an intellectual exercise (which it is to a point) and something that only an elite few ever do, much less do well.

f I ever believed that, teaching writing cured me of that belief, at least.

However, as a younger man (say, of the Volume I or even Volume II era), I would have to say that I had at least a few of those pretentious attitudes myself. At one point, I confess that I considered myself to be a literary writer and had fantasies of putting together a future Pulitzer or National Book Award winner. I spent years of forcing myself to read Jonathan Frazen and David Foster Wallace and trying but failing to force myself to like their work. I eventually realized that there was no way I would ever be a literary writer if I had no interest whatsoever in reading that type of work. So, I’m a genre guy through and through, trying thrillers, sports dramas, and now dipping my toe in fantasy.

I’ve had pretensions about other aspects of writing, however. Just a little while ago, I mentioned how much attention I paid to notebooks. I’m shocked that I’m not someone who was into collecting fancy pens, even though my dad got me a few of those when I was younger. I think part of it was it was always a pain to try and get refills for those pens, so they’d often stay dry. And although you can always keep old notebooks around and revisit what you wrote in them, used pens don’t have any equivalent value.

But if you think I was pretentious about that, wait until I get into keyboards.

I told you before about how I was obsessed with typewriters as a kid. I’m the years since, I’ve gotten to be more comfortable with the electronic medium because it is a lot easier to revise and edit without having to rely on whiteout and correction tape. Plus, you don’t have to have access to a copy machine to make more than one copy of your manuscript.

It was when I was making my one serious attempt to compete in National Novel Writing Month when I first learned of the Alphasmart. I had bought Chris Baty’s book about the competition and he had talked about the Alphasmart in his book as an alternative to a traditional desktop computer or a laptop.

The more I started reading about this machine, the more I fell in love with it. A word processor that only needed three AA batteries to work? A simple on-off switch that would have you up and typing in a second? A machine that automatically saved your work as you typed? A word processor that wouldn’t distract me with games or the Internet, but I could download my work onto a PC? Something that helped me fight my lifelong battle with procrastination? I was hooked, readers.

So, I bought my Alphasmart – actually an Alphasmart Neo – in the mid-auguts. It immediately got a workout as I used it for my pitifully modest freelance journalism work for some Eastern Iowa/Western Illinois newspapers. I used it once or twice for my burgeoning teaching career. I even used it to actually write some stuff, but at the end of my “young man” portion of my life, I took a long hiatus from any fiction writing. Honestly, I think I suffered more than a little mentally by taking that break.

By the time I had finally begun to try and pull my head out of my rear and begin to take writing seriously again, my poor, durable Neo was no longer among the living. It had gotten some screen damage and was, sadly, unusable. And I was despairing of getting another. The last Alphasmart in production, the Neo 2, was discontinued in 2014 and its parent company, Renaissance, no longer provides services for it.

However, the machine never left my mind, and there are a lot of them out there on the used and resale market. A few weeks ago, I found this honey online and… well, reader, I had to have it.

My Alphasmart Neo 2 sitting in my breezeway. Photo credit: Me.

It’s as nice as I remember it. I got a USB cord to download stuff from it to my current laptop. I’m trying to treat it with kid gloves because… well, I want to keep it going for a long while this time.

And it is useful. Writing on an old Mac would seem to be a disaster in waiting. I’m also not going to be like Frazen and remove my modem from my computer – I need to update the thing sometime. So, I want to preserve what I have.

Then again, I went online and saw this new device, Freewrite. It looks so sweet, and they’re still making it…

Sometimes, old habits are hard to break.

[I was debating whether to call this a Volume II or Volume III post. For those not following along, my Volume I posts cover when I was a kid, Volume II when I was a young man, and Volume III is about middle-aged me now trying to be consistently serious about my writing. Since what I’m about to talk about began during my young guy days, I’m deciding this post gets a Volume II designation.]

Writing Journal 9.29.2021: Back where I was two weeks ago

I’ve found it being pretty useful being back in a writing group. At the moment, I’ve been meeting with the Iowa Writer’s Corner up in Des Moines. One of the more useful bits of advice came from a conversation I had with one of my members. She mentioned the fact that she doesn’t go overboard with plotting out or outlining her stories is that she doesn’t want to have the story written before she gets to writing, because there is the risk of getting bored with the story you are writing before you finish it.

While I’d add a couple of caveats to that statement, I have found that I do have the sense of a story spending too much time in my head before it comes out on the screen or the page. I think the project I have been working on at AO3 has gotten a little to that point. Usually, the best way to freshen up that story is to take a permanent break from it or a temporary one.

I might do that later on, but I do want to finish up the section of the story that I am on and complete the first part of the series. For one of the first times since I began writing, I have gotten a lot of positive feedback on my work. I remember how disappointed I have been for different projects that I have read on that site that have either taken a long hiatus, been abandoned, or even deleted all-together. I want to make sure that I eventually complete this project, even if it takes me longer to complete the latter portions of that project than what I anticipated.

Anyway, that’s my response to why my numbers have been garbage the past couple of weeks. Last week’s numbers, ironically, are almost identical to the numbers I had two weeks ago. And now, despite all that, I plan to power my way through it. Sometimes, that is the best option you have when there aren’t a lot of good options there.

Here’s the numbers, such as they are, for last week. I’m hoping we finally get some fall weather in Iowa that lasts for a bit. Sunny days in the 90’s aren’t cool anymore by late September/early October. Take care, everyone.

Writing Statistics for the week ending 9.25.2021:
+1,672 words written.
Days writing: 3 of 7.
Days revising/planning: 2 of 7 for  120 total minutes.
Daily Writing Goals Met (500+ words or 30 minutes of planning/revisions): 4 of 7 days.

Well, I Accomplished A Little Something This Week (The Positives Of Limited Goals)

Once again, I’m writing this blog post on my phone because I am trying to get more than one thing done at the same time. In this case, I’m trying to get at least one round of grading done for my students to at least get some class work done ✅ and off the checklist for me. I like to think I don’t try and wear myself out mentally during the course of a school year, but I truly have to admit that a good portion of the real reason for this is that when I do try to get schoolwork done outside of school, I tend to procrastinate about it even worse than when I’m writing. I’m still doing all right keeping up with things, however.

When I finally put together Wednesday’s writing journal entry, I get the impression that the word count and the stats will not be kind to me. I have an idea 💡 as to why that is, but I think I will save that general observation for the actual entry.

The fact that I’m getting this entry out tonight means that I accomplished one of my very modest goals I set last week. As I said at the time, I tend to do better when I set modest goals and attempt to reach them rather than try and accomplish a lot of goals or large goals all at once. I try to break up big goals into different parts. I also have found that taking on goals a couple of them at a time rather than several at once tends to help me with being able to complete them.

I did get some research accomplished regarding getting an email list set up. I read some articles about the process written by Jeff Goins and other authors. (By the way, this quote from him recently fit my mood.) From that research, I think I will have to look up the program ConvertKit for that process. I also wound up getting signed up for Reedsy as well, so I might be able to meet fellow creatives there and get future advice as well.

So, that will be another program I will be having to research. Currently, I’ve got notes to check out Substack, Campfire Blaze, Canva, Gumroad, Netgalley, and Booksirens. I’m not going to get to all of those in a single week. Small steps, right? (Once I have a chance to check out each of them, those would be some easy material for blog posts.)

I did not manage to write that extra article this weekend that I wanted to do. My plan is to get started on putting that together now with the idea of posting it next weekend. (I have the advantage of knowing what I want to write that article about.)

All right, I feel good about this tonight. Hope your Sunday went well too.

Writing Journal 9.21.2021: Best not think on it

I chose the picture of my computer with a blank screen on it because that best symbolizes the last week I had. Just a lot of inertia… but I feel a turnaround coming on.

Oh, somehow I won this award from my writing group (Iowa Writer’s Corner) so maybe my writing output hasn’t sucked as much as I have often feared.

Anyway, here’s the totals for last week. I’m going to try and concentrate on producing some decent content this weekend, as I mentioned previously. Hope you enjoy it when it comes out.

Writing statistics for the week ending 9.18.2021:
+1,429 words written.
Days writing: 4 of 7.
Days revising/planning: 0 of 7 for 0 total minutes.
Daily Writing Goals Met (500+ words or 30 minutes of planning/revisions): 1 of 7 days.

Moving Forward

Well, this is the second week in a row I rolled into the weekend without an idea of what to write about. Hopefully this is not a trend.

Again, I’m facing a bit of inertia, as I once wrote about. The situation is that I am, in a sense, in between projects. There has been more than a bit of uncertainty for me for at least the past two years. Unfortunately, the work I did to get my first novel out stalled over the past two years due to both the COVID situation and my moving away to a new location. I’ve been trying to find my footing ever since.

Also, the uncertainty over what I was going to be doing this fall (teaching or not teaching) was sort of weighing on me. I’ll be honest, I sort of bugged out between June 4 and July 4 of this year after I finished up the school year. I was looking forward to actually getting things done… but, as I detailed, I have to admit that I didn’t use that time wisely. i think last year in the classroom, for many reasons, was very tough for me. I was prepared not to teach full-time and instead to tread water as a substitute (and substitute teachers are in big demand throughout the state, especially due to COVID absences). However, I managed to find a job at a small school district near my home… and I’m enjoying the classroom this year. I think it is a good environment and that is good, although once again I am back in the teaching bubble where I end up noticing little but the classroom and everything supporting that work. Working as a teacher and commuting to work can quickly dominate your life, but things are still much better for me now.

Now, I have to consider what is next for me. There are a few things I am facing.

  • You may remember that I have a project that longer readers of my blog, or readers willing to go back and read my older work, might remember as Project A. This has been written, revised, and professionally proofread. With the lone exception of one last small revision and some slight editing on one issue, this is ready to go.
    • I like the project very much. I have at least two other ideas to make this into a trilogy. But, as I’m considering whether to submit it to any publishers – I’m just dreading the long, drawn-out process. And, I’m seriously wondering whether I shouldn’t just try and go the self-publishing route, which I have long considered but I have never tried.
    • Right now, I’m sick of my inertia on this. I just need to get moving on seeing what it would take to get this published on my own because I’m really tired of calling myself a writer and I’ve only done one book that has been published.
  • For the past couple of years, I have been concentrating on fan fiction projects. This has been something that has revived my interest in writing and has been an irreplaceable experience. I’ve connected with so many readers and fellow writers, and discovered so much great fiction that isn’t in traditional publishing. I’ve really been amazed with the response that readers have given my work, and I will always treasure the opportunity I have taken.
    • However, I do think I need to give some more priority to my original content (OC). I am hoping that after I finish up some parts of the series I am working on, I will reduce the amount of time I am working on those projects. I am planning on continuing to write some stuff on AO3 (the main fanfiction site I use), but it will not be my main creative focus. I do think that the particular fanfiction I have been working on (A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones) has given me a strong interest in producing some of my own fantasy writing.
    • I also need to finish reading Lord of the Rings. I started that early during the pandemic and I let that fall through the cracks. Maybe I need to add it/adapt it to my podcast that I just started.
  • Also, I need to release some more episodes of that podcast on a regular basis, similar to what I am (trying) to do with the blog. I need to sort that out, but at least I have plenty of old blogs that would be great to build up some material.
  • I need to do some research into building some email lists and how that can help with promoting my writing. That I need to do more work on.

There’s plenty of stuff I can be doing… but I’ve learned the hard way that trying to get too many things done in too short of time is a recipe for a disaster. So, I think I will concentrate on getting the writing journal done, writing one article about my experience with the legendary Alphasmart, and another about what I might be thinking of regarding a mailing list.

That would be a great start, I think.