Rewards, deadlines, and motivation

March 21, 2012 § 5 Comments

Or: My love-hate relationship with deadlines

Yesterday I told my wife that I need to start writing more short stories. She promptly responded that I should give her one each week and in return I would get, da-da-da-da, “the red plate”. Now the motivational aspect of the red plate is a curious thing. I can’t say why I am so covetous of it, but it holds some mystical allure for me. Growing up, whenever any of us kids did something worthy of praise like getting good grades or making a sports team we would get “the red plate.” It was a big deal. I don’t know why, it just was. So when I got married, my wife and I were given a red plate of our own, with which she can motivate me cheaply.

Really though, the red plate was just icing on the cake. One short story a week? That sounds nigh impossible. Challenge accepted. « Read the rest of this entry »


All you have to do to be a writer…

September 21, 2011 § 17 Comments

Towards the end of college I realized that I really wanted to give writing a shot, so I signed up for a fiction writing class.  I got a lot of great experience in that class and some priceless feedback from peers, but what stuck with me the most is this simple truth that my professor shared with us:  All you have to do to be a writer is write.

That might sound trite or oversimplified, but for me it’s been liberating.   I tend to fixate on the idea that someday I’ll get published and then I’ll be a writer, but the truth is that I love telling stories.  I love to know people are enjoying my stories, and hear them laugh at the jokes, and talk about characters and settings as if they were real.  I’m a writer because I sit down at my computer (probably not as often as I should) and bang my head against the computer until a story comes out, and that’s not something a lot of people do.  Sometimes I forget that in the headlong race to publication.

So this is me passing along a simple truth:  All you have to do to be a writer is write.

Reading, writing, and a mild case of insanity

September 14, 2011 § 1 Comment

This blog in a nutshell…


I love to read, and I have for as long as I can remember.  I was always the kid under the sheets with a flashlight after I was supposed to be asleep.  I still love to read anything and everything, and I want this blog to be both a resource for other people who feel the same way, and a place to talk about books, reading, and the ways both are changing.  I’ll be reviewing what I read, posting and commenting on book news, and compiling lists of books I’d recommend to other bibliophiles, whatever their age.


On some level I’ve always wanted to write, but it wasn’t until I was a sophomore in college that I started thinking maybe I could.  Since then, I’ve spent a huge percentage of my free time reading, writing, and learning about what makes stories work.  I’ve made a lot of progress, but there’s still more room for improvement than I want to think about.  This blog will be a place where I continue to share the tips and tricks I gather, glean, or learn the hard way.  To start, here’s a list of books I would recommend to anyone thinking about writing.

A mild case of insanity.

Anyone who has ever written something for an audience is familiar with this.  Some days I feel like God’s gift to literature, and others I feel like I would be doing the world a favor if I never wrote another word.  Sometimes it changes in a matter of minutes.  Albert Einstein once said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.  This isn’t what he was talking about, but I think Albert would cut me a little slack and call it insanity anyway.  I don’t have any useful insights on this, but I find that it’s nice to be reminded that it’s something every author feels.

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