Monday, January 16, 2012

5 Things To Do When (and if) You Are Not Writing

You should write all the time. 

Having said that, I know sometimes we just won't be writing. If you are at one of these rare moments as a writer when you aren't writing, then there are by my count 5 things you should be doing besides writing. These are the only 5 activities I don't feel guilty doing instead of writing.

OK, maybe I feel a little guilty, but I get over it...usually.

So what are these five things? Fine, here they are:


  1. Researching - Got an idea for a historical thriller set in biblical times, but you know nothing about ancient civilizations? Doing a little research on the times, how people lived, etc., is essential. In my second book of the Mall Demons Fantasy Series, I take readers back to the time of the biblical Noah. Although I know the story, I did research on everything from what ancient people wore, what they ate, how they farmed and traded, as well as, when they married. WARNING: If you're researching, set a time limit or deadline. Once you reach that limit or deadline, stop researching and start writing. The temptation is to keep researching until you know EVERYTHING about your topic. You'll never know everything. If you try, you'll never stop researching and start writing.
  2. Reading - This is the activity I do most when I'm not writing. Why? You can't truly grow as a writer if you don't read. Makes no sense to want to write (a craft that relies on words), but not want to read (an activity that familiarizes you with words). This is the one activity that I will schedule in my day, like writing. I must read every day: fiction, nonfiction, newspapers, magazines. This helps me learn how to be a better writer. I often see how another writer describes a tree or someone's face and it gives me ideas how I can do the same. Can't stress how important reading is for writers. Reading is fundamental.
  3. Living - I'm a big fan of experience. The more you do in life, the more you can write about with authority. Reading and research can compensate for experience. I'll admit that. However, experience will go a long way towards giving you confidence in your writing. I can set a story in Austin, Texas, describing the city or a neighborhood park with confidence because I have experienced many, many years of life there. I can create a character who is an Army veteran, knowing I will make him realistic because I was a soldier for eight years. I can write a scene showing the birth of a child because I witnessed the birth of all my children firsthand...and I did not faint. My advice: don't forget to live. write a lot; read a lot; but don't sacrifice life. Get out of your house or apartment. Turn off your computer. Take a walk outside. Meet real people. Live.
  4. Resting - On December 1st last year, I didn't bother to write one sentence. I didn't write a sentence the next day or the next. I was resting. It was my sabbatical, if you will. I had just spent all of November writing a novel draft, 50,000 words. I was drained. After such a frenzied period of writing activity, I felt I needed a well-deserved rest to recharge. That was OK. Don't abuse this. I do not allow myself to say, "I wrote today for 10 minutes. Now I can take tomorrow off."
  5. Thinking - If you're not writing, you should be thinking of writing. Bottom line. Whether you are researching, reading, living or resting, you should be thinking about writing. End of discussion. If you are a writer, you must write or be thinking of writing. Human nature is too easily corrupted. We will compromise in a heartbeat. You can't compromise your craft. If you're not writing, you're not a writer.
What do you think? Agree with these 5 things? Have your own activities to add to the list? Share!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Free Urban Fantasy E-Book

There's still one free gift copy of 'Death Speaks Loudest To Those Who Flee', the extended Kindle version. For a chance to win the free Kindle e-book, simply enter your comment below. Then I can message you back if you're the winner. The Kindle version differs considerably from the flash fiction story I published on Wattpad.com during the summer of 2011.

The Kindle version serves as a prelude to my upcoming Mall Demons fantasy novels. I am currently editing the first novel in the series, 'The Chosen Must Fall.'

The free gift copy of 'Death Speaks...' includes a teaser chapter from 'The Chosen Must Fall.' This has been fun to write. It is amazing how stories begin to tell themselves, and how characters beg to come to life. In writing this tale of good vs evil, I have been introduced to a strong, heroic warrior angel named Evangeline. 

She is joined by a tortured character who despite all the trials he has been through is able to see the good in life. Watcher definitely is one of those characters that surprised me. He demanded to be born, and quickly started living his own life in the stories.

I believe I will be writing about Evangeline and Watcher for quite some time in 2012.
Pedro Ramirez's Amazon.com Author Page
Pedro Ramirez on Goodreads.com

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

First New Year's Resolution For Writing

Writing something every day whether I'm in the mood seems like the obvious choice, but that is not my #1 New Year's resolution. Putting my butt in a chair and writing for at least 10 minutes - regardless of how complicated life is -  is something I already know is essential. See any of my NaNoWriMo blog posts for that.

No, I figured I would look at something I am not doing enough. Pick at least one thing. I had a lot to choose from, but I figured I would kick it off with one thing or else I'd get overwhelmed by "all" the things I need to change or improve on. Pick one, get the ball rolling. Feel victory in one small area, then surge forward in another area.

So, first for me: My first New year's resolution to improve my writing is to read more. Simple, but effective. As I look back on 2011, I realized I did not read as much as I should have. I read maybe 9 books between January and March. Then I slowed down the rest of the year. My goal for 2012 is to read at least 50 books.

Reading for a writer is so crucial. You learn how other writers are playing with words. If you're writing genre fiction, it's good to read examples of that genre to understand its conventions. Reading books on the writing craft can help you, too. And I love reading from other genres, as well.

Set your own reading goal for 2012. A good place to do it as at Goodreads.com. Great community of readers and writers sharing about the books they love. You can see my book list on Pedro Ramirez's Goodreads profile page. Let me know if you have a good book suggestion.

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