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     I absolutely love the articles I find on  They provide great, useful information for everyone.  The best part of these articles is that they offer advice, tips and tricks in layman’s terms so they can be understood by anyone from a novice to a professional.  One such article by James Altucher focuses on how he makes his living writing and how anyone can do the same.  

     I’m not going to just regurgitate the article for you here, so click on the link above to check it out for yourself.  The advice is actually rather simple and Altucher not only tells you what you can do, but offers examples of how he does them.  In a nutshell, here is how you can make a living writing:

  1. You Are a Writer
  2. Read a Ton of Stuff 
  3. Get Rid of Prejudice
  4. Self-Publishing is not E-Books
  5. Bookstores are Evil
  6. Platform is Shit
  7. Blog
  8. Write Everyday
  9. Rewrite Everyday
  10. Can I Make Money Writing Articles?
  11. Write A Lot of Books
     Some of these things are a bit obvious and you will hear them time and time again.  Others may seem a bit contradictory, but that goes to point number 3.  Many of us have preconceived ideas of what it means to be a writer, but the industry has changed and is still changing, so we need to learn to change with it.

     The key to making a living as a writer seems to be volume.  The more you write, the more chance you have of making money and selling your work.  That seems like common sense right?  But many of us have been seduced by the success of authors like EL James and Stephanie Meyers who made it big off the success of a first book or series.  Not everyone will have that same success and so we need to write, write, write… 

     We also need to keep in mind that not everything we write will be written with the intention of publishing and selling.  Like any other art form, the way to improve your writing is to practice.  The more you write, the better you will get.  On days where you don’t seem to be inspired, write anything that comes to mind.  In Altucher’s example, he wrote 1500 words about bowel movements.  No, it was not for a medical journal or other such publication, it was simply because that is what came to mind and so that is what he wrote about.  

     Most of us think that if what we are writing is not awe inspiring, then it isn’t worth writing, but in truth, writing anything is better than not writing anything.  And the more you write, the better your chances of earning money doing what you love.
Image courtesy of Michal Marcol

     Last night, my goal was to get home from work, set my laptop up in my office away from distractions and sit down to write.  Despite my determination to get a significant amount of writing done, I didn’t get a single word written.  I know you probably think I got distracted by the internet, but that’s not the case at all.  Instead, I got brain freeze, literally.  My apartment was so cold that I couldn’t focus on anything but how cold I was, my mind (and limbs) were numb.  With no control over the air conditioning, I opened the windows to try to let in some warmth, but to my dismay, it was the same temperature outside as it was inside offering no relief.

     I tried to push through and got so far as to setting up the laptop and changing into sweats, a long sleeved shirt and long slipper socks to try to thaw out.  That still didn’t do the trick.  So I then had to climb into bed and curl up under the covers.  I kept glancing over to my office, longing to be able to sit in there and write, but it was just so cold.  I even made an attempt to use my Nook and stylus to do some writing, but didn’t get very far.

     This got me to thinking, how big of a role does our environment play in our ability to write and how much of it is just another excuse?  Personally, other than situations like last night, where the conditions are to the extreme, I don’t have a “perfect” writing environment, one in which I cannot write unless everything is just so.  Sure, I would love it if I could do my writing in some tropical paradise while soaking up the sun on a beach or at a desk in front of a wide open window where the warm breeze carries the sounds and scents of the beautiful blue ocean just outside.  But let’s get real, the bills need to get paid, which means I need to be at work earning a paycheck so I don’t have time to be lounging on beautiful beaches.  And unless I marry rich, that is not a scenario that is likely to happen anytime in my near future.  In the meantime, I just need to suck it up and get my writing done anywhere I can.

     Naturally, I hit the internet in search of answers.  Do some people find certain environments more conducive to their writing?  If so, am I missing out on something that could potentially increase my word count each time I set out to write?  Or am I already doing what I can by just jotting things down anytime inspiration strikes, whether it be a five minute session or five hours?  There really weren’t too many articles out there on the subject as many dealt more with software related environments rather than actual physical environments.  But I did come across two blogs, with two very different opinions, each of which I can relate to for different reasons.

     The first is a blog by Chris Brogan, that debunks the “myth” of the perfect writing environment.  In his blog, Chris advises that writing can be done anywhere.  If you are truly serious about being a writer, you won’t let things like your surroundings or the tools at your disposal become an excuse for why you can or cannot write.  Much like the advice you find anywhere you look, Chris says, just write!  I know that from time to time, I personally fall into that trap, “I want to write, but I would get more done on my laptop, blah, blah, blah…”  There is a very real distinction between not wanting to write and not being able to write.

     The other is a blog by The Writing Whisperer, M. Shannon Hernandez (no relation), that describes how you can transform your ordinary writing space/office into your ideal writing environment.  She invites you to think about where you would feel most productive and visual that space, transporting yourself to that very place.  That shouldn’t be too difficult for a fiction writer, right?  I mean, that’s what we do.  We visualize people we’ve never met and create worlds and/or experiences that we have never had (or variations of ones we have) and put these visions together to create our stories.  So why not use that same power of imagination and creativity to envision ourselves in our perfect writing environment no matter where we actually are?

Can you picture yourself writing at a Parisian bistro?
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Or maybe in a secluded cabin on the snow covered mountains?
Image courtesy of Michal Marcol

      Do you have a specific environment that you find particularly conducive to your writing?  Do you agree with Chris that a perfect writing environment is nothing more than an excuse for why we don’t write rather than why we can’t?  Do you think The Writing Whisperer’s advice would help put you in the right mindset to write more?  Or do you have tricks of your own that help you overcome the distractions of your writing environment?

Image courtesy of Penywise  morguefile

     I have been asked what I am currently working on, so I thought I would share with you what has been going on.  Over the last two months, I haven’t done much work on my novels.  Having offered up my first novel for a beta read and deciding not to continue working on the third novel until I finalized the first two, for fear of creating an inconsistent mess, I turned my focus to the second novel in the series.  I would sit down with a broad vision of what I wanted to happen and words would make their way onto the page as I tried to build the bridges I needed to reach my destination, but something just didn’t feel right.  Something just kept gnawing at me, preventing me from making any real progress and for the longest time, I just couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was.

     Even after getting feedback from the beta readers, I wasn’t gung-ho about getting back to work like I had hoped.  I thought that maybe I just needed to stew on the feedback and work things out mentally, but it wasn’t that simple.

Image courtey of Arthur Tress

Other than a few notes here or there, I had absolutely no drive to write and it was making me so anxious that I didn’t know what to do with myself.  So, when faced with a case of what I like to call “writer’s dunce”, I did what I usually do; I turned to reading as a means of clearing my head and gaining a fresh perspective.  After reading three novels, I still didn’t have the urge to jump back into my work and I still hadn’t pinpointed the source of the problem.  Normally, before I’ve even finished reading one novel, I’m filled with ideas and the urge to get back to work, so this was troublesome.

     In addition to reading books, I started reading critiques and discussion boards, not only on the books I was currently reading, but on others in genres similar to my own work, that I had read in the past.  Some of the discussions helped to bolster my confidence that I was doing some

things right, avoiding some of the pitfalls that caused the most grief for readers of my intended genre.  I think somewhere along the way, I subconsciously began to realize why I was having such a hard time continuing with my own work.  It wasn’t immediately apparent to me, but the more discussions I read, one by one eliminating the doubts that were clouding my thoughts, the clearer it became.  My problem, it would seem, is that I had completely lost the essence of what I was trying to achieve.  

     I had set out to write a vampire story laced with romanticism.  What I ended up with, was something altogether different; a romance novel with a vampire twist.  My main character was a watered down version of who I wanted her to be, of who she is, epitomizing the weak, dependent females so often featured in romance novels.  This was not what I had wanted at all and the further I had written into the story, the stronger this theme seemed to weave its way into my novels.


Image courtesy of imagerymajestic

How could I be expected to keep writing when my work was starting to get on my own nerves?  I think that somewhere deep inside, my main character was trying to tell me that I wasn’t writing her story correctly.  Sure, the events were unfolding as they should, but I hadn’t painted her in the the right light.  Vampires are meant to be hardcore; so dark that they terrify you, but at the same time beguile and intrigue you.

          Now that I have identified the problem, I need to work out how to go about fixing it.  It seems that I have quite the challenge ahead of me.