The only writing motivation you will ever need

Time passes. You cannot get it back.

You have a limited time on earth. The exciting thing about life is that you don’t know what’s next.

If you want to write, write.

Use your limited time wisely.

Write now

You can click to open this in a new tab and right-click > Save As to use as a desktop background for a handy reminder :)

Why all writing is good practice for *THE* writing

All writing practice is good writing

I know you know what I’m talking about…

If, like me, you write for a living because you can’t stand to do anything else, but drink wine in your pyjamas make words, then well done. I struggled for almost two years with the idea that my commercial writing was getting in the way of my creative writing, but it wasn’t. It was all part of the process.

There’s no time like the present to start writing creatively. Goodness knows I would love to write novels for a living – romance, horror, erotic, literary fiction, psychological thriller, whatev’s, n’importe quoi… 

The perceived problem is that:

1. Writing for a living is bringing in some really good money. Why should I slow it down?
2. I put others (in this instance, my clients) before me, which means that commercial work comes before the novelling. If there are any additional projects to get cracking on, I’ll work on my novel this weekend and the work-writing gets attended to immediately.

A few days ago, I shoved everything aside and made some serious in-roads into my new book. And where I anticipated an obstacle-laden writing process, there was a semi-smooth pathway of writing that came with relative ease. I wasn’t drinking, so there’s no self-delusion here – these were real words, good words, that were littering the white space in front of me and I was so happy with what was happening.

I came to the simple conclusion that the thousands and thousands of words (actually just over 1 million words) I’ve written since February 2012, when I started freelancing, were the detritus that needed to be cleared before my true creative process could be given the podium. Not that my work-writing is bad, just that it’s secondary on my quality scale to my creative writing.

This just proves that:

There’s no such thing as writer’s block. If you’re stuck, you just haven’t written enough.

#amwriting…

A case for painting inebriated

It’s been a while since I’ve painted so well (in my view) so consistently… I take it as a sign of good things to come in 2014.

Or it’s simply proof that painting at wine club… or drinking at art club… is the way to do it.

Whether or not the great masters all sipped on Absinthe cocktails and expressed their hearts and souls on their canvases is still hotly debated, but I can say that the Fermented Muse has certainly been good for my own productivity. Yes, I’m happy with these paintings and can’t wait for the next congregation of art club.

Someone, pass me the bottle opener…

 

January 2014

January 2014

February 2014

February 2014

March 2014

March 2014

Why blogging from an iPad is a bad idea

As a freelance writer, you’d think I’d have plenty of free time, but no. Seems like marketing companies LOVE freelancers in 2014, so I’m as busy as a bottle store clerk during a recession…

So I had *gasp* some free time last night and since Mr. Man was engaged in #OccupyCouch, I decided to go sit in bed with my iPad and my nifty little bluetooth keyboard and write from there.

My first thought was: Writing in bed like a REAL author…

My second thought was: Oh shit, I should probably plan something before I just dive into writing. Perhaps I should blog…

So I decided to review the second-last book I read, which was Michael Crichton’s Next, and do a quick blog post because, like, I’ve been a horrible blogger in terms of my consistency.

*takes a sip of my self-pity cocktail*

So I come onto WordPress via Safari, log in and do my thing on my book review blog… then publish that blog post. And what happens? It publishes that blog post to this blog, even though I was in the dashboard of that other blog.

Stupid.

I also had to kill the prompt to install the WordPress app because it has such a low rating. Not surprised. So that squashed my dreams of being able to blog in bed on a mobile device. It’s unpleasant to haul my laptop around with me everywhere I go, so I guess not being able to blog from my iPad means less consistent blogging.

Yes, I blame the tool.

March, however, will be I’m-writing-a-new-book-and-no-one-can-stop-me month… sort of like my own private NaNoWriMo, but without the pressure of producing 50 000 words of crap in 30 days. I’m guessing that I’ll write better without the NaNo monkey on my back. Let’s give it a whirl, shall we?

Keep Calm and Write Something

Why blogging is not what it should be

I’m disappointed.

I have been looking up audience-building techniques for when I need to start distributing my little secret nuggets of entertainment and wonder… and I’m disappointed to see that blogging has gone from sharing personal experiences and inviting readers into your life, to strategising on how to get the most followers, build your email lists, and then pitch your crap to your followers. And this seems to be the most effective method? Do I really want to join this revolution?

You like paint, I like paint, we like paint...

You like paint, I like paint, we like paint…

Blogging has gone from 100% writing and sharing to 50% writing and 50% fake-impressing other people with empty comments, ka-jillions of likes, and shallow well-wishes of prosperity and success.

I’m not being jealous and ranty for nothing – perhaps I’m just a traditionalist who is disillusioned by the use of The Special Blogging Guru Technique vs. generating organic likes and follows because people are genuinely interested in what the blogger has to share.

I want people to follow my blog because they want more of my content (and I follow other bloggers for that same reason) – not because I should use a neurolinguistic technique to get them to follow me back and comment on every single blog post. The blogging experts [sic] advise setting aside a certain amount of time every day to use search terms to find bloggers and blogs that are similar to yours, to engage with the authors and then subsequently follow as many as possible to generate a wider following for your own blog.

That feels a bit icky to me… or perhaps it’s the Internet equivalent of the social skills that I never quite developed during my formative years. I don’t like tricking or manipulating people into engaging with me – you should do it because you want to, not because I engaged with you first and now it’s Blogging Expert Etiquette that we should all follow each other, call it a “community”, and then think that we’re some kind of wonderful because we followed each other for following each other for following each other…

Have I made my point?

Am I missing the point?

Please can someone explain it to me…

 

Killing two birds with one stone (and a book review blog)

2Birds

One of the most important parts of being a good writer is to be a good reader. I used to argue to the contrary (because why spend that all-important writing time, reading?), but now I’ve rescinded my naive position and I wholeheartedly believe that the writing is in the reading is in the writing.

No, this isn’t just my excuse to drop into the comforting arms of a book and drown myself in escapism when I should actually be writing; it’s an education in writing. Doctors don’t stop reading the Reader’s Digest Family Health Guide the moment they open their own practices, now do they?

So what’s my play?

Go here, quick! Rautenbach Writing is my book review site, where you can check out what I’ve read and am reading, leave comments about my dodgy reading material and subsequent reviews, and also make suggestions of other books for me to read and review. If you want to guest-post, then drop me a mail via the comments (comments get moderated, so they’ll come straight to my inbox – clever, huh?) and I’ll gladly feature your own review of a book you loved (or hated).

FREE REVIEWS!

And if you want me to read and review your own book, I’ll gladly do that too – you’ll just have to contact me via the comments and then send me your stuff in PDF. I’ll review it in an honest and fair way, which gets you a book punt.

Ta-da!

And it’s free, so get on it!

Two dead birds, anyone?

Anyone?

Hello, 2014…

It kind of snuck up on us, you know… 2014 arrived with a bang (and the smell of gun powder) while I was still flailing about in the slop of August 2013. Next thing you know – bam! – it’s January and time to refocus on a new year of challenges, hurdles, and success-to-be-continued.

I like it when unexpected turns of events produce satisfying results, like this effort right here:

Thinking girl on a scooter

I started this painting a few months ago and suddenly got the urge to finish it in one bold effort. Seems like this messy style of painting is paying off because I’m more and more happy with the results of each new painting.

Hopefully this type of enthusiasm rubs off onto other areas of my life – like writing.

I’m pleased to admit that I’m making a huge effort to read more, which will certainly be the motivator I’m looking for to push me to write more better stuff. Check out this book review blog, which will eventually become the home of my own shameless self-promotion.

RAUTENBACH WRITING <— get it?

I want to do a book review at least once a week – more, if my desire to speed-read kicks into high gear. So head on over there if you fancy some literary recommendations that are run through with my own personal anecdotes. It’s not a compact product review site… it is rather personal, if I may say so.

Well, there you go.

How to win at NaNoWriMo: A procrastinator’s guide

Oh, I’ve neglected you, have I? Well, actually, no I haven’t. I was thinking about you all the way through November as I, you know, wrote my novel and stuff.

Yes, I did it.

2013-Winner-Facebook-Cover

I thought I was going to have another NaNoWriMo like last year where I started strong, but then had to ditch my writing ecstasy for the sake of work… but this year, I sacrificed a lot in order to take another step towards my dream. I learned about limits and how to crush them with discipline, terrible writing, and caffeine. And I learned about the necessity of support and not being too proud to use it. And I learned about a few other things, all neatly packaged in this handy HOW TO WIN AT NANOWRIMO guide:

1. Write like you’ve never written before
Change your technique. I’m a perfectionist – the rough definition of which is: I’ll never get anything done because there’s no such thing as perfect. Perfectionism is the enabler of procrastination (Tweet it, quote it, etc.), and procrastination doesn’t belong in NaNoWriMo. I ditched my own expectations of myself and just got those words on the page. It was a constant struggle to prioritise quantity over quality, but I am proud of my editing skills, so I promised myself that I would get much satisfaction from the editing phase… which I would never get to if I didn’t just write.

2. Don’t give up if you start slow
Here’s my progress chart:

SpinningCole

Notice how everything kind of happened at the last minute. And yes, by Day 22, I was considering throwing in the towel because, damn, who recovers from a 10 000 word deficit? Me. Yes… me. And if I can, then you definitely can.

3. Social media is not your friend during November
2013-Winner-Facebook-ProfileAnother crutch for the procrastinator: Facebook, Twitter, FML, and all the other boredom-fuelling websites that become the perfect excuse for not meeting word counts when they matter most. I get very socially creative when I have personal deadlines, but as with any bad habit, “just 5 minutes” is tough to break. However, when the rewards leave you feeling high on the glory like a rock star, social media’s instant gratification factor becomes that back-alley heroin shot between the toes. Just. Not. Worth. It.

4. Get people to hold you accountable
I made a chart and put it in a public place where almost 20 pairs of eyes kept tabs on me. The target word counts were visible and my actual word counts were highlighted in a hot-pink graph. Every day, between three and six different people would ask me, “How’s your book going?” Sometimes I bemoaned my progress and sometimes I had reason to celebrate, but nobody berated me for lagging behind for most of the month. They were rooting for me and I just couldn’t let them down. I cannot explain how much it helped to be accountable to others for my own goals. Do this, especially if you have a tendency to put others’ priorities before your own.

5. Sleep next month
2013-Winner-Vertical-BannerWork, marriage, and writing. All three demand 100%, but can you imagine going at 300% for a full month? This looks like caffeine addiction (mildly balanced with some water and a sketchy exercise routine) and an average of 4,5 hours of sleep per night. Not sustainable, I know, but it certainly taught me about the value of sleep. I now prioritise sleep as something on my productivity list instead of seeing it as the enemy of productivity. However, that said, NaNoWriMo – and goal-chasing in general – is about sacrifice and a couple of hours a night for a month may make you look a little worse for wear, but the rewards are worth it.

6. Puuuuuuuush!
All that heavy breathing, sweating, gnashing of teeth, pain, and crying associated with the natural birthing process… yup, that is a pretty accurate analogy for 50 000 words in a month. So no matter how long your book has been gestating in the belly of your mind (in my case, 8 years… although there are still sextuplets that need to emerge), it’s important to get at least one out… and it requires a fair amount of pushing, sweating, crying… and then relief.

7. Print what you write
And much like the proverbial baby that emerged in the point above, it’s important to see – physically – what you’ve written in order to feel that momentum and experience that pride of having produced that wet, squirmy thing that is draft one of your book. Halfway through November, I bought a binder. It was incredible how a simple thing like an office appliance was such a strong motivator. Print, bind, and celebrate the words you’ve produced.

f2ee0cac5b5211e39a5a12a62c3665ab_7

Then get on with it and start the next one!

According to Chuck Wendig, I need to suck

open-notebook-with-pen

I am an avid follower of the deeply funny and disturbingly accurate Terrible Minds – the blog of the superbly prolific and genius Chuck Wendig. For this year’s Nanowrimo, he’s got this whole NaNoWriMo Dialogues going on and today’s post was so aligned with my own experience of NaNoWriMo that I wanted to cry and laugh at the same time. I am a bit of a lurker on Chuck’s site because many of the commentators have already said what I want to say – no one likes a stuck record or a copycat.

I’m behind on my word count by about 2500 words, which is no reason to want to jump in front of a train or reignite that pesky drinking habit, but it’s irritating. It makes the daily goal of 1 667 words seem more difficult to achieve because it’s not 1 667 words, it’s almost 4 200 words. AND, my initial daily goal was to write more than what was required in order to get ahead in case something got in the way of me writing.

So why are you blogging instead of working on your shitty book? you might ask.

My answer is simple: I can continue trudging along and eventually give up on NaNoWriMo (again), or I can confess my sins publicly in order to amplify my motivation to catch up and then exceed the daily word count requirement of 1 667 words.

By nature, I seem to gravitate towards being most productive in the last minute. It annoys me because I would rather be prepared than constantly chasing the late bus.

But I’m slacking on my word count because I hate my writing at the moment. It sucks, but according to Chuck Wendig, it needs to suck. I just have to get over the shittiness of this first draft and just do NaNoWriMo for what it is, rather than thinking I’ll have a publishable book by the end of this 30-day madness.

If you’re in the same boat as me, then you’d better get out of this water vessel quickly before it sinks. Get your own boat.

I’m going to go make another cup of green tea, then smash my head against the keyboard until I have 10 002 words in my manuscript… the requirement for the end of Day 6.

How’s your Nano going?

How to get away with a facelift…

Mask In the scrambling chaos leading up to the month of November, everything feels unsettling… or is that unsettled. As a result, stuff has not been going as planned.

During October, I decided that I’m dissatisfied with everything around me – and I’ve done a lot of spontaneous stuff… from tipsy painting sessions (Friday afternoon), to starting running, to giving this haphazard blog a new facelift…

There was a more practical reason for Words~Pictures~Music undergoing a transformation: the previous template was doing something weird with all my blog images, so instead of fussing with settings and going back to try to resize all the pics, I just changed the template.

I suppose I should go back to each blog post and see what it’s done to the layout, but meh…

Nonetheless, maybe that’s what a good approach to life should be: don’t try to go back and fix the past – just make a big change and move forward with it.

And while I did like the previous template a lot, change is always good. Same goes for life.

This approach of spontaneity and moving out of what I know and into new areas should be enough to reshuffle the cards; to settle the marbles in the jar; to gain new perspective.

For November: to say I’m not a little nervous about Nanowrimo would be a big lie – I’m  crapping myself, but trying not to back down from a challenge. It means silencing the self-doubt (or at least not paying any attention to it) and getting on with something I should have done ages ago.

Are you doing Nanowrimo? How do you feel about it? … just 4 days away now…