Not actually a guru

Hi, gang, Craig here again this time and I have a little confession to make. I’m not actually a writing guru or mentor. We post a lot of tips and tricks here on Story Empire, and I’ve contributed my share of them. Mine are from the perspective of someone who has walked that mile myself. When I learn something I have no problem sharing it, but some of you likely have a better grasp on some of the topics than I do.

That’s fine, because I look at writing as a kind of zen journey. My position on the path is different than yours; some of you are ahead of me and some are behind. If there is a lesson in today’s post it’s going to be subtle. You’ll have to read between the lines to pick it up.

I started writing later in life than most. I’ve always had to write as part of my paycheck job, but policies and procedures, even legal documents are not the same as fiction. Fiction is a whole nother animal.

One winter, we were pretty broke and I’d about conquered the internet. I started writing to stave off boredom. It was so addictive that I’ve never stopped.

I started free writing a novel. At that time, I had no idea of plot, character arc, or anything else that matters. I just wrote. Whatever random vignettes popped into my head found their way into my story.

The story is a piece of junk, and so is the sequel that followed it. They’re also among my most treasured possessions. Conundrum? Not really.

I had so much fun writing these pieces of junk that I started learning everything I could about how to write a better story. One foot in front of the other, as they say. With the exception of these two trunk novels, my mileposts are on Amazon for the world to see. The stuff I’m producing today is better than the stuff from back then, as it should be.

This year has been a rough one for me. It’s taken me way too long to publish the two books I want to release in ’17. I just published The Enhanced League, but The Yak Guy Project is still languishing. It makes no sense to dump TEL on Amazon and fail to promote it.

I’ve written fourteen unique blog spots about TEL, and am currently scrambling to keep up with all my hosts and commenters. This is fun too, but it’s keeping me from the next project. I had more host volunteers than I could come up with content for this time. I love these people, but I don’t want to start sounding redundant out there either. Maybe some of them will give me a raincheck for Yak Guy when he’s ready.

There are other projects. My Story Empire obligations might be a fair example of one. Not to mention the need to hold down a full time job. There has been a long string of beta readers, edits, and more to work through this year.

I’m feeling the restraint of the harness right now. Something is amis, and I’m going to take a poke at it. I had the opportunity to write a short story for an anthology. It was like a vacation in the midst of everything I have going on. What I enjoy, what really moves me, is drafting new material. Sometimes, I can write a blog post about the craziness that goes on at the writing cabin and stave off the craving. I haven’t even had time for that lately.

How bad am I? I have three novels partially outlined, and two novellas. I’m raring to go, but I have other obligations holding me back.

I need to write. Take up one of my outlines and charge forward. Free write something just for the fun of it. My MO is to take care of business first, and I will. I need four micro-fiction pieces for my blog this October, and those will give me another fix. Maybe I should start weaving them into my schedule right away. Yak guy will be with beta readers soon, and there is always some waiting that goes along with that.

Take this away from today’s post. Find your joy and make time for it. It matters, and it’s too easy to put off. I’m committed to a couple of projects right now, but I’m going to clear my decks and get back to what got me started in the first place.

If you’re like me, just write. Write poorly and don’t be ashamed of it. If you want to share it with the world, there are editors out there. Bad writing can be fixed, non-existent writing cannot. Life has a way of placing tasks in front of us, but we all need to find the part that we enjoy and spend some time on it too. It’s good for the mojo.

I’ll get back to what I love about writing. I’ll use the micros as a tonic, and will be neck deep into one of the novellas by the time snow flies. Don’t bet against me.

48 thoughts on “Not actually a guru

  1. Pingback: What’s Stopping You? | Story Empire

  2. Excellent post, Craig! Like you, I began writing later in life although I always knew I wanted to be a writer. And I enjoy sharing what I’ve learned with others. I’m not a writing guru either, but I believe many can learn and glean from real experiences.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I subscribe to the theory that it takes all kinds, and I don’t think writing is any different. The way you’re self-disciplined and structured is inspiring, because it’s the furthest thing from my own writing. All advice is helpful to someone and these articles at Story Empire do give pause at times. Maybe no one here is a guru, but they’re still influential.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. We all have a different rhyme and reason for what brings peace into our soul. I know all about the busy life and the multitude of obligations that threaten to smother me if I try to slow down (lol), but I still find a way to slow down and fit in those things that are “nonnegotiables” to me: family time, exercising, reading, and writing. They don’t all happen every day, but I make time for them. I am a true believer in the sixth sense/gut feeling/inner voice, and yours is guiding you well. Listen to it, and I believe you will find enjoyment on the path in which it is leading you. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great reminders here, Craig, to just write, no matter the length. Because it makes us feel better. And it gets crowded in my head with all the ideas for future stuff. Gotta get some of it out so more can squeeze in. 😀

    Good luck with TEL and the rest of your stories!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I have to apologize, Craig. I knew this post was here and I still somehow missed it yesterday.

    You know, gurus don’t have to be school-educated to earn the title. The school of hard-knocks, or real-life experience, or trial and error—those schools produce gurus, too. Your blogging success alone is impressive, and your writing on top of it? You’re a guru, all right.

    We all get overwhelmed. We’re all busy. I think that finding something that gives you a breather is a good thing, to-do list be damned. If the micro-fiction works for you, then go with it. You’re right in that they can lead to another EN. And seeing that TEL came out of one of those, I can only surmise that the micro-fiction is a good step for you. Wishing you all the best!

    Liked by 3 people

    • I’m to the point where I think all lengths have merit. Perhaps the story should dictate the length, as opposed to stretching or squeezing. I am looking forward to some new things around SE, so we don’t have to keep being teachers in every post. I should dig back through that conversation to see what’s on our horizon.


  7. Good for you, Craig. It’s true that so much has gotten in the way of what I love that finding the way out of the maze has gotten complicated. If you’re not a guru or mentor, today, then will you accept motivator. I feel motivated to get back to my true love. Thanks.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Hi Craig, this is quite interesting – maybe it would be easier for your if you had a strict routine. I think you have to find your sweet spot and a balance between writing, blogging and working as well as family. I have a fairly strict programme. I blog in the morning from 5.30am to 7am and then again from about 6.30pm to 7.45pm. I do homework with my son when I get home from work for about 45 minutes. They then usually relax and watch TV for an hour or so. I read with my boys from 8pm to 9pm and write from 9pm until 10pm. This is most days, of course, sometimes the wheels fall off.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. It is so easy to get buried in project after project and not find the time to adequately flex our writing wings. I’ve been wanting to try my hand at dabbling in micro fic writing exercises for a while but keep putting them off because of deadlines and a sprawling to-do list.

    I do think those brief excursions away from our regular writing routines can spark renewed creativity. Great reminders today, Craig.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My short story brought it all into focus for me. I even hacked out part of a Macabre Macaroni piece for October over the weekend. I may have to stick with micros for the time being, but they help relieve the stress from the other parts. Besides, they could wind up in a future Experimental Notebook one day.

      Liked by 2 people

  10. I’m happy to give you that rain check for the Yak Guy when you’re ready with it. As it stands at the moment, spots on my blog are by invitation only, but if I’ve given that invitation for one of your books, it extends to include future work too. So, any time you want a spot, give me a shout.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. You’re more of a ‘plotter’ than me, Craig, but I think every good writer has a hell of a lot of the ‘pantser’ mentality at their core! 😉 The ‘do what feels good and repeat as often as you can’ philosophy is a great one, provided you wrangle it judiciously.
    For writers, I think wrangling’s a much better term than ‘managing’ your work and time schedule. Great fiction writing is still more art than science – gathering words and assembling them into authentic order always has a wild and instinctive element to it, that gives the writer the edge to add the vital ‘magic’ ingredient. When your story has guts as well as heart and soul (as yours does! 🙂 ) it underscores the difference for the reader and marks an absorbing page-turner from a well-honed, yet still pedestrian, potboiler.
    You’re a wonderful, wild and woolly word wrangler, Craig – so maybe you’re more of a badass role model for us – much more exciting than a guru or a mentor! 😛

    Liked by 3 people

      • It’s a case of baby steps for me this week as I’ve got new eyes to get used to! 😛 I had my last cataract surgery yesterday and after I got the patch off this morning everything’s looking a lot sharper and more dazzling! 😀
        All my usual specs are now wrong, but luckily it seems I don’t need them for sitting at a keyboard and staring at a screen anymore. 🙂 My ‘normal’ vision is astigmatic so I’ll probably still need glasses (never, never, never contacts – ugh! 😦 ) but I’m hoping it’ll only be for really close work, like sewing or reading. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  12. There is nothing like the feeling a writer gets when the story is coming together in his/her head and the creative flow starts rolling. I SO relate to your statement “feeling the restraint of the harness.” We can get so caught up in promoting, marketing and supporting that our own work takes a back burner. But, I have learned that it goes in rhythms and cycles. The merry-go-round does make that full circle. Great post, Craig.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Great post and I’m with you on the fun of drafting new material. It’s like uncovering an undiscovered world or some type of mental archaeology. There’s an unrestrained freedom to it also because you’re just creating with no concern for grammar, spelling, and audience. It’s funny how authors fall into that guru/mentor thing too. Most of the people I’ve gotten the best advice from are the ones who also claim not to be experts. A sense of humility definitely helps in this business.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. What a lovely post, Craig. I agree wholeheartedly with what you’ve said, and have found myself in this same position for far too long now. I NEED to write! Good luck with Yak Guy. I’m reading TEL now and am enjoying it immensely! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

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