June 10, 2016

10:06:2016

I have a problem with writing. Mostly, with my feelings towards it. I’ve found I love writing, it’s a challenge, it’s creative, it allows me to turn intangible thoughts and ideas into a form that is not only tangible but shareable and understandable by others; that’s magic. My problem comes from a uncontrollable and frustrating fear associated with it. This fear doesn’t often come on at the start of a project, when an idea hits me and I’m all jazzed about getting it down; it comes later, after that early passion, when the real work starts.

Let me try and explain it. I’ll be a certain percentage into a project, let’s say twenty percent, and mostly I’ve happy with what I’ve written so far and I’m enjoying writing it, when something shifts, and all of a sudden when I think about writing more of the project or I’m sitting at my laptop and have yet to begin, there’s a weird fear in my chest. A pressure.

Annoyingly it’s because I am happy with what I’ve written so far that this pressure exists, because I know exactly what the cause of that pressure is, and it’s me. The fear is one of failure. The failure to write the story as well as I know I can, or believe myself to be able to. It’s a weird combination of arrogance and self doubt. On one hand I have this arrogant belief that I have the talent to write this amazing story, that at my best I’m capable of blowing audiences away with my words, on the other I don’t believe I can live up to and achieve this level of talent that I have put on myself! I’m sure psychologists probably have a term for it, ego fighting your super-ego, or something like that, all I know is it’s confusing.

The worst part about this fear is that sometimes it’s powerful enough to stop me from writing. I distract myself with other things, or start a new project (which is really just a different form of procrastination), or write one of these blogs (as clearly that pressure doesn’t extend to smashing my thoughts down into a post), or just do nothing; all the while a small voice at the back of my head is saying just get over it and finish the project. If I’m lucky I’ll listen to that little voice, who will also remind me, in a calm and friendly tone, that ‘Writing is meant to be fun, so just have fun. Nobody is expecting a masterpiece from you, or really anything from you, so why be afraid?’ Unfortunately there’s also that other voice that speaks with a mean and gravelly tone and says ‘Nobody else may be expecting anything from you, but I am, so be better!’

Clearly I don’t have an answer to this problem, or to those voices, that’s why I wanted to write it down here, and I expect the problem will continue indefinitely, as putting pressure on myself is part of who I am. I also think it’s part of the reason why I can achieve some of the things I do; there’s always pros and cons. I’ll just have to manage it. Coffee helps. I think I’ve created a pavlovian conditioning in myself where now even the smell of coffee puts me in the mind to write. Maybe I’ll just drink more coffee.

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To share something more positive than my self doubts I thought I’ll show you this great little video that popped up in my news feed the other day from Futurism about a very cool and, unsurprisingly, futuristic device that allows you to type on any surface, with just your hand, and have it work as a keyboard.

Isn’t the future cool?

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Two steps forward and one step back means you’re still moving forward.

Talk soon

Damian

May 20, 2016

P1030595

It’s been another busy week for me, both working and socially, and so writing has once again taken a back step. It’s also left me tired. Every morning starts the same way; my alarm rings, I turn it off then get comfortable again which is when the never ending monologue in my head says “C’mon mate, got to get up”, the ‘got to get up’ thought then causes my brain’s jukebox to start playing the theme song to the Winnie the Pooh cartoon I watched as a kid, which goes “Gotta get up. Gotta get going. Gotta see a friend of mine. He’s round and he’s fuzzy, I love him because he’s just…Pooh bear, Winnie the Pooh bear”, and with this jaunty tune playing in my head I start the day. Admittedly having a children’s cartoon theme song play through your head every morning is a weird routine for a twenty nine year old man, but it’s one that’s entirely out of my control; and every day the song buzzes through my brain it manages to cement itself in there even further. I know one day, when I’m old and my brain is on it’s way out, that tune will still be playing, and I’ll end up in a rocking chair somewhere singing it to myself over and over again. At least it’s an upbeat song.

Either way, I’ve been busy.

Work has still been the same mess it has for the last few weeks, where the powers that be keep expecting me to work. What’s more they seem to have this insane notion that I should do this for a full eight hours, five days a week! It’s madness. Seriously though, my non-writing work has been a shit storm, one that has raged on unchecked and managed to soak up most of my time and energy. However some sunlight has appeared on the distance and I think it should only be a few more weeks before I ride it out. I hope.

The other reason I’ve been busy is a much more positive one. It’s Good Beer Week in Melbourne town, which is basically a week long festival celebrating all things beer with a bunch of events being held all over the city. The Lady Holly and I decided to embrace it this year and went to some of these events. It’s been fun, but drinking beer during the workweek is a sure way to add points to your tiredness level.

One thing I have managed to get done writing wise this week is to roughly sketch out the outline for a short story I’m writing. My plan for it is to record an audio version which I’ll post at some point on this blog, with it hopefully being the first of many. I wrote the first few pages of it with no plan in place during a coffee fuelled buzz a few months ago and then put it on the shelf. I re-read it the other week and liked what I had but, especially as it’s to be a detective story, thought it could do with some proper planning before getting back into the fun part of actually writing it. That’s now maybe seventy percent done, with a few more points I need to figure out, although I expect it’ll morph and change during the writing process as new ideas come up from the ether.

It’s also my Dad’s birthday today, so happy birthday Dad, of all my Dads you’re my favourite.

That’s it for now, I’ll leave you with this video of the aforementioned Winnie the Pooh theme song (which was amazingly easy to find, clearly this is what the internet was invented for) so it can embed itself into your head too, that way when we’re old and in a nursing home we can sing it together.

Talk soon.

Damian

May 13, 2016

13:05:2016

Today I want to blog about bloggers.

I’ve spoken before about how I started this blog after signing up to the newsletter of comic book writer/novelist/futurist/mad genius Warren Ellis; and being inspired by it (which you can sign up to here if you’d like). It’s a weekly treat that lands in my inbox that I often giddily enjoy over a cup of coffee. As a professional writer of words he often details in these newsletters the various projects he’s working on and occasionally his process of putting those wonderful stories of his together. Usually by the time I get to the end of the newsletter my mind is inflamed, in part because my now guzzled cup of coffee is rolling in with a kick arse caffeine buzz, but also because reading about him writing makes me want to write.

My revamped mission of be-a-better-writer-you-idiot has involved a lot of me organising all my various projects and working out a constantly evolving plan and timeline for each one so I have a clear idea of what each project needs to keep moving forward. The next phase of the mission is to continue to educate myself, and I figure if Mr Ellis’ newsletter works to educate and inspire me with all things writing then that’s probably something I should try to bolster. Of course as much as I’d like Ellis to write a blog everyday in order to kick start my creativity that might be asking too much of a man I’ve never met. Instead I decided that where there’s one there must be more. There must be other writers I look up to and draw inspiration from out there who are writing their own blogs or newsletters. I just needed to find them.

I became a hunter. The blogs and newsletter of talented writers were my prey, the internet was my hunting ground, and google was my weapon. Warren’s newsletter themselves were a good starting ground as he occasionally offered suggestions of similar newsletters. I signed up to a few, and waited with anticipation for their arrival. My favourite thus far is one called Municipal Archive by Kio Stark. It rolls into my inbox spasmodically and each newsletter details a well written, and often moving, interaction the writer has had with a stranger. Each one is basically a tiny story that never fails to engage, and I really can’t recommend this one enough.

All my new subscriptions however weren’t enough. I wanted more. I was catching the newsletters but the blogs were managing to get through my net. A quick search showed me that, yes, a number of my favourite writers did in fact maintain a blog on their websites, the problem now was the ease to which I accessed them. I had become used to my idol’s words coming to me and the idea of routinely making the rounds on a number of websites in the hope that they’d been updated didn’t entice. I figured I can’t have been the first person in this quandary and another google search proved this to be true, and provided an answer. Feedly.

Feedly is a website/app that provides (as wikipedia cleverly puts it) a news aggregation service. Basically it uses rss feeds from websites to notify you whenever an update to those website is made, or, in other words, it’ll tell me when there’s a new blog in town I might be interested in. There’s a few different websites like this but I found feedly easy to use and, even better, easy to read. Once you make an account, which I did simply by logging in to my google account, you can sign up to get feeds from whatever website you like. This is made easy to do by the app’s search functionality that easily finds the website you’re after and even suggest similar ones you might be interested in. Once it’s found the website you’ve searched for you simply click the ‘+feedly’ button and that’s it; you’ll now get those blogs sent to your feedly whenever they’re updated where you can read, share, or save them at your leisure. It’s now become a daily pleasure for me to make my way over to my feedly in the morning (accompanied by a cup of coffee) and read through whatever new blogs the writers have written.

In case you’re interested, my current subscriptions are Brandon Sanderson, Matt Fraction, Warren Ellis (he keeps a blog as well as the newsletter, bless him), Neil Gaiman, Patrick Rothfuss, Ramez Naam, John Scalzi, and V. E. Schwab. The problem now becomes that not all writers keep blogs, which I find a bit strange. To me it would seem that the nature of being a writer is to write, and that of all the people out there likely to have a blog writers should be at the top of that list. Maybe they’re just busy writing stories, which I also want to read, so I can’t complain too much.

Either way, with this daily dose of inspiration and information my education should increase and hopefully with it my writing improve. In the meantime I’ll just have to keep an eye out for new blogs to add to the list.

The hunt continues.

Talk soon.

Damian

January 22, 2016

22:01:2016

A quick one today I’m thinking, as I probably should start putting more of my writing juices into working on the script.

I say writing juices, I should be saying manic caffeine induced coffee juices. My parents have been drinking coffee since I was in the cradle – probably before too, but I wasn’t around then and to be honest their lives before I existed has basically no interest to me, like looking through a bunch of photos when all you’re really interested in is seeing the ones you’re in, or skyping with someone and looking at the small window that has you in it the whole time. We’re a vain species. Either way somehow it took me until my mid twenties to start enjoying the brown brew. Admittedly I primarily drink mochas which I’m sure the coffee connoisseurs out there may look down upon, crying out with their suffocating coffee breath that it’s basically hot chocolate, which it is, which is why it’s so great. The point is that I’ve finally decided to suckle at the coffee teat, allowing myself to become dependant on it’s sustaining and energizing flow, and I try to direct that buzz straight into writing..I feel like I may have gotten sidetracked.

Back to my script. It’s coming along. What’s coming along more is the ideas for it. The great thing about forcing myself to start a project is that once I do my brain finally says ‘oh, are we doing this?’ and then opens the ideas spigot to a heavy flow. The bad thing about that though is that I usually have trouble getting to sleep as that’s when my brain decides to start batting me with these ideas, like a child who wants to show off a painting they’ve done by shoving it in your face repeatedly, while you’re trying to sleep. Much like with that metaphorical child, I’ve found the best thing to do is acknowledge my brain, pat it on the head, and say good job. By this I mean, use the ideas. Note them down, or write them out completely. As I’m currently forcing myself to write every day, that’s exactly what I’ve been doing. Furthermore I believe that doing so is the only way to make room for new ideas. I know our brains are this amazing piece of biological technology that has so much space for data that it basically continues inwards forever. I also know I have trouble accessing this data. The hardware’s great but the software is useless. I can see what’s on the desktop, but the rest of the files are buried somewhere deep in the hard drive and I can’t remember what folder they’re in. These new ideas flood the desktop of my brain, clog it up, and stop new ones from arriving. Until I take these ideas, organise, and use them, there’s no room on the desktop for new ones. Alright, metaphor over.

The main piece of news for the day is that my best friend and twin brother, Jonathan, comes home today. He’s been spending the last six to seven months hopping his way over Europe, primarily living and working in London. He’s back home because his close friends, Erica and Brian, are getting married – and to be smothered in hugs by me. Needless to say I’m excited.

I was also in a collision today but that’s a story for another time.

Coffee fueled rant over, time to get back to work.

Talk soon.

Damian