Wednesday, August 29, 2012

No Post

No post this week due to a death in the family.

If you have any topics you would like me to write an article on, please let me know in the comments.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Dealing With Jealousy


- Dealing with Jealousy

There are two types of jealousy, one is good, the other is very bad. We all feel jealous occasionally, but if we know the good from the bad, we can admit to the good, embrace it even and stop ourselves if we realise we are experiencing the bad.

In a nutshell, good jealousy is when we desperately want something someone else has, but we don’t want to take it from the other person. EG: I am desperately jealous of my happily married friends, however I don’t want their husbands and I am happy they are happy. I want to be happy WITH them, not instead of them.

Bad jealousy is when we want something someone else has and we want them to lose it. We don’t want them to be happy; we want the object of our desire to be taken from them. Someone with bad jealousy might want a couple to break up or want a richer friend to have some misfortune to make them poor.

Good jealousy can be fantastic. It can motivate us to work harder for the things we want in life and we will often analyse how our friends or idols achieved their goals and learn from their journey. We can admit freely to this type of jealousy, with joy and happiness.

Bad jealousy will, quite literally, make you sick. It’s stressful and hateful. Not to mention that wanting bad things to happen to other people makes you a bad person. If we really don’t like someone, we should do our best to avoid and ignore them. We should not waste our energy and health on negative thoughts.

If you experience bad jealousy, you need to realise that just because someone else has something (money, a publishing contract, a loving husband or wife) it doesn’t mean you can’t have them. Good things in life are in abundance and we should be happy for the people who have made their dreams come true.

Whenever I feel jealous of someone, I admit it. First to myself, then to the person and I always make a point of telling them how fantastic it is that they achieved it and how happy I am for them. Then, when it’s appropriate, I ask how they went about making it happen. My friend had a baby recently, but I didn’t have to ask how she got him. That’s an example of when not to ask.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

How I Get Stuff Done

My friends are often awed by the rate I accomplish things. Nearly everyone I know has commented on how motivated I am to achieve my goals. That’s often before they know I’m chronically ill and basic things like getting dressed and cooking meals are extremely difficult for me.

Case in point: due to pain-disorientation and balance issues, I broke my foot while getting dressed recently. This is not an usual occurrence. In the three weeks since then I’ve managed to re-break it four times, doing basic things like walking through doors and down steps.

Getting anything done with my degree of disability is extremely hard. I know a few chronically ill people who are medically on-par with me, who consider it a fantastic day if they get dressed, cook a single meal and get the mail from the mailbox. Those three things are spectacular accomplishments for me too, so how do I also manage to write blog posts, go to uni and write several novels a year?

Firstly, it’s really goddamn hard.

If you think there is some magic self-hypnosis to make you productive, you’re going to keep failing. Productivity takes effort, and if you think it will be easy you’ll always give up because it isn’t.

Secondly, there has to be method in the madness.

You can’t just say: “Today I’m going to be productive. Where’s my nail gun?” You need to know three things:

1. What you want in the long term.
2. What you want in the short term.
3. What you need to do to obtain those goals.

My long term goals revolve around owning a house and having a successful publishing career. I have defined ‘success’ and written it down in a letter to myself. I’m not sharing it here, because it’s personal. However I will say: Dream big. Aim beyond what you think is reasonable.

My short term goals usually involve the novel I am working on at the time. Writing it, editing it and submitting it. I usually have some kind of deadline—either self imposed or contractually. It’s good to have a self imposed deadline a month or more before your contracted one.

Working out what I need to do to obtain goals is pretty easy for me. I have a good mind for it. An example would be:

If the goal is to finish a 50, 000 word novel, edit it and submit it in three months, and I want a whole month for editing, I know I have to do 833 words a day for the two months prior. However being chronically ill, I’ll probably be too sick to work some days. So I will do at least 1500 words a day.

This next part is the KEY ASPECT to my everyday success. It is critical to me and to a large portion my life revolves around it. Unhealthy? Probably, but I am productive and you are not.


Every day I write down the things I have to do that day, in a day planner, in order of priority.

When choosing a day planner, every day needs its own full page and the diary needs to be of a sensible size. Not pocket sized, as there is not enough space on the page. And not A4 sized, as it is too big to carry with you comfortably.

My primary project is at the top of the page—usually a novel title. When I am done, I will write down the words written or pages edited. EG: ‘The Hungry People – 2500 words.’

Next are jobs that HAVE to be done every day. EG: Feeding the cat & taking my meds.

Next are the jobs that should be done most days to maintain order and sanity in the house. Things like cleaning the dishes and answering emails.

Following that are one-off jobs. Things like mailing birthday cards to friends, paying bills, buying unusual items or making phone calls.

I write everything in with black pen and when I’ve done it, I cross it off with red pen.

Worst case scenario:

There are days when I don’t know what year it is. I am dizzy and in pain and all I want to do is lie down and pray for death. However, I’m still going to be sick tomorrow and next month and next year, so I might as well be productive.

This ‘being productive’ when I am at my worst is what separates me from 99.9% of people and allows me to achieve so much. It’s awful, but it’s going to be awful regardless and at least this way I have something to show for it.

However, without the day planner, I would not have the mental capacity to keep track of what I had done. I could change the cat water, get myself a drink and be unable to remember if I had done the cat water yet. I also find my ability to make decisions is severely compromised, so I use the list to decide what to do next.

On the days where you can barely put one foot in front of the other, you can just do the first thing on the list, then the next and keep going until its bedtime or until everything is crossed off for the day.

Please note though, you can only do ONE thing at a time. No stopping half way through to switch jobs. Otherwise, you end up with everything half done and nothing finished.

Obviously most of you will not constantly be in pain. In fact, most of you who are not achieving your goals either:

1. Don’t have defined goals.
2. Or are just lazy.

It doesn’t matter if you’re chronically ill or lazy, you can still force yourself to act and achieve all the things you need to, everyday. It’s just a matter of pushing through and taking it one step

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Finish what you start.


- Finish what you start.

Do you get plenty awesome ideas but never finish anything? Is your hard drive full of opening scenes, perhaps even opening chapters, but no finished works?

Lots of writers do, and this failure to launch—a complete inability to stick with a project long enough to finish it—is extremely common. There are lots of reasons why people can’t finish works. The two most common are that they get bored or frustrated or part of them believes the idea isn’t really any good and that self doubt crushes their faith in their own abilities.

It doesn’t really matter why you can’t finish, because the solution is the same. That’s right, no matter how special and unique and challenging your circumstances are—no matter how tortured and scarred your soul is—finishing a project pretty much comes right down to putting your ass in the chair and sticking with it until you’re done.

I’m going to give you some tools to make it easier though.

Firstly you need to accept this: Whatever you are doing, whatever your writing process is, it is wrong. Specifically, it is wrong for YOU. If it was right, you’d have finished something, so you’re going to have to change.

If you say: ‘Oh, but I can only write at 10pm at night, with three Oreos and a double mocha.’ You are wrong. Maybe your true prime writing time is at 6am, on a train in a carriage that smells like pee, jabbing at an iPad. Or maybe it’s at midday in a park on a laptop. The TRUTH is, career writers can actually write anywhere, under almost any circumstances and still produce work of roughly the same quality. The only reason you have to mix it up is because you’ve taught yourself shitty habits and to unlearn them, you’re going to have to do something different.

Secondly, choose a ‘plan’ or ‘method’ and stick with it. I highly recommend this one. It comes with its own template you can print and I like it because I wrote it. There isn’t a lot of room for buggering around and making excuses and it’s the method I use, so I know it works for me.

You can choose another one, but if it doesn’t work, then come back to my one and damn well stick with it until you’re finished.

Thirdly, you should try using the writing program, Write Or Die. It is a free online program. Alternatively you can buy the $10 desktop version, so you can turn off your internet while you write. It is the single most useful resource for a writer online, hands down. Better than WriterBeware. Better than Duotrope and AgentQuery.

I don’t see how anyone can use it and not reach their word target for the day.

So, once again:

1.      Do something different.
2.      Choose a plan and stick to it.
3.      Use Write or Die to meet your targets.

Annnnnd go!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A New Way To Look At Piracy

Authors bitch and moan about piracy because they’re being so royally violated by publishers and distribution companies. To a traditionally published author, those few extra dollars really matter.

Publishers treat writers with roughly the same respect sweatshops treat their workers.

I’m not talking about editors, mind you, as most authors love their editors. However the publishing houses as a whole, look at authors as if they are a filthy, shameful plague that they unfortunately have to deal with to sell their product.

“But Talitha, publishing houses are a business. They’re designed to make money.”

Yeah, so are sweat shops. Thus the analogy. Saying something is geared toward profit does not make it moral or humane. I could optimise a business where I slowly tortured kittens to death on webcam, but meeting my forecasted profit increase would not justify kitten killing.

Publishing houses make massive profits on their products and pay their authors—who you might remember wrote the damn books—a pittance. Then they act like authors should be grateful for it.

Lots of authors think Amazon is a white knight, galloping in to give authors better profit margins as if they were equals! As if they mattered! However distribution sites, like Amazon, don’t provide the services publishing houses do, like typesetting, cover art and formatting. The author has to do those themselves. Distribution companies just rip off authors the same way they were already screwing publishers.

With authors scrambling to find two dimes to rub together, it’s not surprising to see a lot of hostility toward piraters. However studies show that people who pirate also, on average, SPEND more on books, games, music etc than people who don’t. So if a non pirater spends $10 a week on entertainment, a pirater will spend $15 a week. Probably because they are finding a lot more things they like enough to buy.

Piraters are also spreading the word about their favourite artists and shows, often by giving a download link and sharing the work itself. More lost profits, right?

I suppose. If you’re stupid about it.

How about, instead of saying: “Don’t pirate my work! You’re terrible people! I’m going to starve because you can’t spend $7 on something I spent a year writing!”

We start saying this: “You pirated my stuff. If you like it, maybe you can help me out by ‘paying’ for it. You can do that by writing reviews, giving it five stars on Goodreads and Amazon, visiting my blog and telling your friends how awesome it was.”

Or maybe we can even say this: “My book is for sale for $7 on Amazon, but I only get $2 of that. If you want me, the artist, to get my money while we both FUCK Amazon because they’re turd-heads, here’s my pay pal address. You pirate, send me $2 and we’re all square. You’re a good person and I can afford to keep writing/singing/playing naked banjo in the rain.”

You want a direct link with your readers? Piracy can do that. Upload your own damn books and songs to torrent sites. Ask people to support you and tell them you support them.

Is everyone going to pay? No. Is everyone going to even bother to give you a review? No. Some people are douche-cannons.  That’s okay, some are better than none. Your stuff is going to get pirated—you can’t stop that. You can do damage control. You can even turn it into a positive.