James Scott Bell

If you can write each day, do it, and meet a quota. Minimum 350 words a day. A baboon can do 350 words a day. Don’t be shown up by a baboon.


I’m not dead, just the blog

So I have been busy lately. Got myself a nice exercise program which means I have way too much energy but am constantly sore so don’t want to do anything.

I keep pulling up my blog, expecting to see something new here, then realizing that there will be nothing new if I don’t write it myself. Damn linear time.

Just not sure what to write. Have gone back to reading more about writing than actually writing. Gives me something to do at the gym. But it also means that I am still constantly thinking about writing. Just don’t know what to write still, ever, always. But working on it! Still thinking about it, trying to get around my own mental blocks. Just, not there yet.

Need to get back to posting though, even if its book reviews or quotes or random rants on the downfalls of summer right after I plant my herbs for the year. Or something. Stuff. Writing. Wooo.


[Writing] Weird crap from my brain

Dishes never get stacked. If they did, the world would come to an end. The gravitational pull of all those dishes in the sink would simply cause the fabric of space time to collapse on itself. There must be space between everything, air pockets to keep so much mass from being collected at one point. Water must be a mysterious anti-grav force, once you add water you can get all the dishes you want in the sink without worry. Or maybe soap lubricates the dishes enough to help resist their force on each other. And in the end, when they are put away, why does the cabinet not contain a black hole?


[Writing] Fiction Challenges

So, with nothing else percolating in my head I decided to try a flash fiction challenge. I am about a third of the way done, though I am not sure I will get it finished by the deadline.

I am happy with how it is turning out word wise, but not a story that I am loving. Good story, just not interesting to me I guess. I have found that as I go, I do okay, get a sentence or two, then freeze again. It’s like all the decisions just stop me, there is too much for me to deal with. I ended up with a horrible headache every time I tried to work on it, but I was getting work done.

I do highly believe that the brain is just like muscles in that you need to work it to make it better. I think this is a decent example of that. With time and practice I hope I will be able to write better, faster, and with less headacheyness. But God that practice is going to hurt.

When (if) I finish the story, whether I manage to finish by the deadline or not, I am adding it here. Hopefully I will be able to find more challenges to help me practice and get more finished pieces sitting around reminding me I can actually do it.


[Writing] Glaring at notecards

Have spent the better part of my day reading about writing, again. Trying out notecard scenes and questioning to come up with a rudimentary outline.

Here’s the train of thought

  • Snow in july, why is it snowing in july?
  • The snow is actually emissions from a space ship, why?

Then I’m stuck again. Too many damn options. Is the spaceship buzzing the earth for fun in a juvenile prank? Is the story about the aliens not earth? Does it crash land? Does the earth military set up planetary defense systems and blow it out of the sky starting a galactic war?


Just want to bang my head against the table.


[Writing] Glaring at my blog

I have been glaring at my blog all week. Opening, trying to think of something to write, and I end up just glaring at it. So it gets a post. Or maybe a sacrifice to the blog gods. Or something.

I didn’t hit my 5k words last week, but came close with 4550. Not bad considering it was spring break and I had kids and adults wanting attention all week.

I did come around to the fact that April is poetry month or some such thing. I started working on a poem a day, though I started late, caught up, then lapsed again. They are horrible, but horrible in a way that gives me insight into my current writing hurdles. Poetry was something I worked on in my teen years and it flowed easily then. Now I am an adult and I worry too damn much about everything. I care more about rhythm and meter now, which oddly keeps me from creating it naturally. With the direct contrast of then vs now, I have been considering its extrapolation to prose.

I often find that I get stuck on format more than actual words when trying to write. Not grammatically, just format. How it feels. Dialog, exposition, rising tension, foreshadowing. The actual elements of a story bog me down. I keep trying to write while ignoring them, to fix it all in editing, but willful ignorance is very difficult for me.

In drawing, there are suggestions to try and draw upside down. That by looking at the shape as it is, without your brain translating into what it thinks it should be, you draw more accurately. I don’t think that turning the words upside down will help in this case, but I would like to try and find a way to take this concept into writing. Writing straightforwardly, without letting my preconceived notion of what the writing should look like get in the way.

In any case, words will be splatted against screen this week.


Also, as an apropos of nothing: yay, it’s raining! Means I don’t have to water the grass seed that got laid yesterday in my all day yard clean up marathon. I managed to till up 3 gardens (one was disassembled entirely and grass seed laid) as well as tilling the large bare spot in the backyard from the pool last year. Though I have some massive landscape projects planned for this year, so the gardens just got wildflower mix so I can direct energy and finances elsewhere.

I have also found that gardening is the most futile thing that I still enjoy doing. It’s moving dirt from one place to another (and generally back again), planting things that will die off by next year (if they don’t die by the hot midwest summers), and patching bare spots of grass (that will only be trampled again by kids and the puppy). Yet, its enjoyable. Though I think writing is about as futile in totally different ways.


[Writing] Snippets of nothing

So, I couldn’t sleep tonight. This is a reoccuring problem. I ended up just opening word pad and allowing myself my normal snippets. I didn’t stress, I just started, wrote as much as I could and moved on. Words flowed hot and fast. I got about 500 words done tonight on 4 snippets and a poem. Doesn’t seem like much on the outside, but this is a breakthrough for me. It’s an amazing start. It’s like banging my head on a brick wall for so long, then finally breaking through and having the freedom to run forever.

Granted, snippets and starters do not make me a writer. I need to finish shit for that to happen. But I am writing. Finally. I am allowing myself to just write and not care. Finishing will come in time. I can weave snippets together, I can continue them later, I can ignore them completely. But it felt good to let words flow. Hence, writing about it here right away. The excitement is hard to contain for me. I may never get sleep again if I keep writing though.



[Non-Fluff] First quarter results

I have made it through my first 3 months of being serious about writing. Hooray! I am still going strong, not giving up. This is a huge deal for me. I’ve been looking over my numbers in general, its nice to see.

For starters, I started a blog. This was something that I didn’t expect to do as early as I did. Unfortunately, I have persuasive friends. In the end, it was more words getting done and even if I wasn’t writing here, it has kept me going and more focused than I would have otherwise, I think. I keep worrying about not writing here though. I want to be more… professional? … dedicated? … Not sure what the right word would be. Just want to be doing it right. In 3 months I have gotten 11.3k words done on this blog. That’s still 11.3k more that I wouldn’t have got done if I didn’t do it. I shouldn’t sell myself short on that. But I have only done 29 posts in 3 months, little over 2 posts a week average. Not horrible, not what I wanted. But, only the first 3 months, still need to give myself some slack.

On the flip side though, since starting this blog I have actually written less story stuff, only about 1100 words and that was all in January. I try, I really do try. But I can’t do it – yet. I have spent much time working on fixing this, reading, learning, trying different things. I am optimistic, something that I don’t often feel, that I will be able to do much better in the next quarter. And practice, practice, practice. I also stopped doing critiques after January which were part of my word count, just felt bogged down by everything and unable to focus enough to do critiques well.

Where I have been shining is my personal journal. Any words are good words, and I have been slinging a lot of words there. What I find interesting is that in February I did decent on my blog, but my personal journal went down the drain. I try not to throw personal stuff here, and I don’t think I did, so trying to figure out why the dip. I have never been good at writing a journal, especially when I need to. I internalize way more than I should. It was the first month of homeschooling, the first month of the blog, last month of a long cold winter stuck inside and lots of changes in my personal life. But lately I have been redoubling my efforts. It has become a brain dump and has helped get the words flowing. This in turn will help with brain dumps while writing.

So in the end, I am sitting at 35.5k words for 3 months of work. I am averaging 2700 a week, my goal was 5k a week, but it’s not a bad start. The last 2 weeks I have hit 5200 and 6000, so I know I can do it. February’s dip was what killed my average, if I can just persevere reaching my goals would not be difficult.

So, going forward what do I need to do? Write more. Bottom line. Always.

Even with as much as I did, I need to do more. I started off doing a book a week with a review, then I hit a book I didn’t like and faltered. This always stymies my reading for some reason. I need to get reading more, I just don’t have the technical skills to write if I don’t. Certain things don’t come second nature while I am writing, it makes writing even harder and I have enough troubles writing. So, more reading. Going back to a book a week. Even if its just a short story or a novella, I just need to be reading.

I need to be writing more. 5k a week is possible, I have proven that, I just need to find a way to do it. While I am good with any words written are good words, I do want to increase my word count to at least 25% being story words. Even if its just crappy first drafts, I need story words, not just ranting at the world words.

I also need to be blogging and critiquing more. I need to find better content for my blog. I am not very chatty really, so being chatty on a blog isn’t working for me either. I still don’t know what to do about that. Hard to write when I don’t know what I am writing about. Critiquing is a matter of focus and drive. I understand the value of critiquing, both to myself and others. It gets me exposed, gets me reading, gets me writing, gets me thinking like a writer and helps me with editing my own stuff. With the sites I use it also earns me the right to post my stuff to be critiqued, when I get around to writing stuff. Then it helps others get feedback and continue the loop, a nice pay it forward system. So, how to focus and get critiques done? Not sure. Sheer determination, which I love to fall back to but unfortunately doesn’t always work.

Lots to think about, lots of good work done, lots more work to do.

The too long; didn’t read version? I am awesome and I am doing what I love and getting it done. Go me!


[Writing] Where do I go from here

The snows melted in the heat of a false spring. Rivers of meltwater flowed down the sidewalks and streets. Carved their way through the deposits of gravel from a long winter. The sky was an ice blue, it mirrored everything she felt right then; silent, still, cold. It hurt everywhere. She watched a red drop hit a river and flow down the drain. Took her a minute to realize she was bleeding. She wiped her forehead. Just a cut, she’d live. She didn’t know if that was good or bad though.

This is what I wrote in the car today. 2 minutes, nice and easy. Scenes like this flow freely for me. Why can’t I turn them into stories?

My friends are very helpful, think of questions. Where does it go from here? Why is she there? It doesn’t help. I’ve asked myself all those questions already. Even if I come up with answers, which I normally don’t, I can’t translate those answers into a story. I need to work from an outline, I am pretty sure of that. But I can’t get enough information out of myself to write an outline. I can’t find a theme to my story. I can’t figure out the bigger picture.

I am still trying to figure out why. I think half of it is that I haven’t read enough lately. Storylines and plot development, themes, they don’t come second nature to me yet. This is a matter of reading and practice. Reading and practice that has been very difficult to do in the first place.

At least when I do get around to writing something, I will have lots of snippets to work with.