Tips to Stay Motivated

Coming into November there are probably a fair few of us who are giving NaNoWriMo a shot. Whether it’s your first time participating or you’re a seasoned vet, there will always be the problem of motivation that arises at some point throughout the month. It’s a natural part of the writing process to reach a certain point where the words don’t flow as easily and you’re finding yourself grasping at straws. When this happens during NaNoWriMo, it’s easy to throw in the towel and give up. But if you want to try to push through and stay motivated here are some tips to pushing yourself to write when you’re not feeling it – they can even be used outside of the sacred writing month of November as well!

Tip 1: Establish a Routine

Getting into a habit and sticking to it is the best way to combat any feelings of burnout. Whether it’s your home office, an outdoor café, your living room sofa, pick a place you’re most comfortable in and make it a habit. You can allot yourself as little as 20 minutes a day, but make sure you squeeze it in. You’ll find that the simple act of making a routine helps you write something, even if it’s not your best work. The key is just getting it out on paper. The editing comes later. Personally, I’ve also found that trying to fit in your writing in the morning works best because as the day wears on you will end up finding more excuses and distractions to draw you away from your writing. I know that’s not what the night owls want to hear but try giving morning writing a chance. It might surprise you.

Tip 2: Get Rid of Distractions

When I write during the week, I usually have a timer that I set for 20-40 minutes – depending on how early I managed to wake up. However, I always place it on the opposite side of the room, face down and notifications off, so I don’t get distracted. If it’s next to me on the table I’ll fall down the rabbit hole of scrolling through social media. If you know that you can’t write without looking at your phone, leave your phone in another room or on the opposite side of the room. If you get distracted checking work emails on your laptop then forgo the laptop and write using pen and paper. If you get distracted doing research for your story then perhaps try plotting ahead of your writing session that way the research is already done and you can just write. This time, however long or short, should be solely focused on producing words. Everything else can wait. And if you know what your weaknesses are in terms of distractions, try eliminating them ahead of time so you can have a productive writing session. 

Tip 3: Daily Goals

Giving yourself a daily word goal helps to keep you on track. Even if it’s something small like 500 words, it’s still something that can serve as a motivator to keep going. If you’re someone who doesn’t necessarily like thinking word count, then maybe make your goal something like finishing a certain scene you’ve been working on or writing another character’s perspective. So long as you have something that you are striving for on a daily basis you can battle against the distractions and writer’s block.

Hope these tips were helpful and good luck this November!

Things I Wish I Knew

Every writer probably has had the following experience:

You’re at a birthday party or some type of gathering, when you get asked, “what do you do.” With great hesitance, you take a deep breath and reply, “I’m a writer.” And once you’ve dropped your bomb, you wait for the explosion. Normally, one of two things will happen. Either they manage to insult or belittle your passion, or they respond with, “I’ve always wanted to write a book.”

There’s something about that phrase that has set my teeth on edge. And I think I figured out why. It’s because it’s usually said with such nonchalance as though writing isn’t work. Everyone likes to fancy themselves a writer. But in all honestly, very few have the stamina and determination to see it through. Yes, writing is fun. If it wasn’t, why else would I be so determined to make it within such a cold and competitive industry? And while I truly believe that everyone has at least one good story to tell, I don’t believe that raw passion is the only sustenance you need in order to fulfill a dream of writing a book.  

There was once a time, many moons ago, when I would’ve said there is only one thing needed to become a writer and that is a story. But after nearly fifteen years of chasing the dream, I’ve learned a few important lessons.

And here are three things I wish someone had told be about writing:

1) It’s Hard

Being a writer is a difficult process. There is always something new to learn about the writing process. Sometimes, it comes with a lot of dead-ends. That story idea you had at 2 am might seem stupid in the light of day. That first draft you loved so much might become a hated work of fiction by the second draft. You will lose great ideas, start on bad ideas, abandon projects, and pick up on others after several years’ hiatus. There is no straight line when it comes to writing. Heck, even a visual plot map has ups and downs to it – it’s no wonder the act of writing itself also follows the same course. But it is in these ups and downs of life that writers are made. If you can stick it out until the end and complete one story in its entirety, then congratulations my friend, you’re a writer. 

2) It Requires Time

Writing takes time. And I don’t mean it might take you five years to finish writing a book. I mean sometimes your social life might have to take a hit. That is because if you are being serious about finishing a book, you’re going to have to make some sacrifices. With only 24 hours in a day, many of us fill a large portion of those hours with work, school, and familial responsibilities. Whatever time is left over is where the writing gets squeezed in. Of course, that doesn’t mean you have to entirely give up a social life. But it does mean that some weekends will come with the choice between meeting with friends or finishing those last 5,000 words. 

3) You Never Stop Learning

I did my BA in English. I earned my MA in Creative Writing from a world-class institution. I’ve attended various lectures, workshops, and seminars related to writing – and I’m still not done learning. There is always something new to learn. Even if you’ve published a book that still doesn’t mean you’ve crossed some sort of finish line where you know all there is to know about crafting the perfect story. It just means that you made it past the first level, and you’re now onto the next. And that next level comes with its own hurdles and lessons. In fact, the best writers aren’t the ones who are naturally skilled. The best writers are the ones who are constantly aiming to improve themselves. And this doesn’t just apply to writing itself. This can also include the publishing industry as a whole. There is always something to learn about the world of publishing whether it pertains to querying, marketing yourself on social media, self-publishing, etc. Don’t ever think you’re done learning as a writer – you’ll only be setting yourself up for a harsh reality check. 

5 Tips to Renew the Joy of Writing

Sometimes, writing can feel more like a job or a burden, especially when the creativity won’t flow. Here are some tips to get in the zone to meet those writing goals.

Dabble in Something New

Write from the Point of View of a different character. Stretch your limits and try a new genre. Swap a romantic relationship to a spiteful one and see where it takes you. Do your ‘good guys’ always win? Let the ‘bad guys’ have this one. Create a “what if” alternate ending to a current project. More often than not, these will alleviate any writers’ block you may be experiencing as new ideas bloom.

Change of Scenery

Stir the pot and change your surroundings. If you normally write at home, try relocating to a coffee shop, library, or somewhere with people milling around in the background. You’ll get in some “people watching,” which provides natural inspiration for characters. 

Writing Mashup

What if robots went on a rampage in Victorian England? What if a human wants to be where the mermaids are? Let the creativity flow by using an online generator to give random combinations to write about. Making this a daily habit seems to successfully help many authors stay in the writing flow.

Free Write

Sometimes you just need to get words on paper to feel productive. Set a timer and write whatever thoughts flit into your mind until the end. It can be about what you did today, how you feel about your current work in progress, what you hope to achieve, random bits of dialogue between characters, etc. There doesn’t need to be any rhyme or reason to it nor does the grammar need to be perfect.

Reward System

Is everything going well with your writing, but you’re feeling a bit underappreciated? Set up a reward system for yourself. Say your writing goal for the day is 2,000 words and you’ll get to eat a cookie if you meet it. If you finish your goal for the week, you go to the movies. Be as creative and personalized as you want with choosing rewards.

Author Interview with Catherine Butzen

Dragon Soul Press presents an interview with Catherine Butzen, featured in Imperial Devices.


1. When did you first consider yourself a writer?

My thirteenth birthday. That was the day I first registered for a writing site. I was scared stiff: the site’s TOS said you had to be thirteen, and I was convinced that if I registered too early, I’d be in trouble! Fortunately, the Writing Site TOS Police didn’t track me down. Now I’ve been writing nonstop for twenty years.

2. What is the most difficult part about writing for you?

Staying on track. I’m apt to fall down a subplot rabbit hole and end up focusing on something completely different. I’ve written whole books while struggling to edit other books!

3. What is the most surprising thing you discovered while writing your book(s)? 

I discovered that no matter how bizarre and alien one of my characters is, it’s important to have something small in them I can identify with. Particularly with villains: I never want to write a villain that I have no connection with at all. They’re infinitely more fascinating and threatening when you find yourself saying “He’s wrong, but I can see why he might think that way …”

4. How many plot ideas are just waiting to be written? Can you tell us about one?

Dozens. Narrowing the ideas down is the real problem! But after writing “The Lightless World” for Dragon Soul Press, I found myself bombarded with ideas for more short stories in the same universe. The world of Virgil and Rachel is one of clockwork golems, fuel wars, snow-spider Legionaries, and—the really wacky, fantastical idea—a well-adjusted married couple who support each other against all of the above. Right now, I’m writing the story of how Virgil got his clockwork leg.

5. Who is your favorite author and why?

I can’t pick just one! Currently, I’m giving extra reading time to John Maddox Roberts, who wrote the “SPQR” series of mysteries. He’s fantastic at painting a portrait of a very different era and making it feel alive.

6. What do you like to do when you are not writing?

I work a full-time job, read, cook, and spend time with family and friends. If there’s a museum nearby, chances are you’ll find me lurking there, spending an afternoon among the dinosaur bones and buying way too many novelty magnets in the gift shop. I might also be shooting (blunt) arrows in the back yard, building LARP props, or sprawled on the couch with another sewing project.

7. Share something your readers wouldn’t know about you.

When life is hard, I take notes. For example, I took reference notes while the ER doctor was setting my broken ankle. I was in pain and trapped, so I did the one thing I COULD do: write down what it felt like. The notes did end up being used in a book a few years later.

8. What does success mean to you? What is the definition of success?

To me, success means independence. I’ve spent years struggling with my mental health; being independent, self-supporting, and free of outside influence is extremely important to me.

9. Describe a typical writing day.

Not so much a writing day as five writing minutes here and there. By the time I’m done with work for the day, I’m pretty tired of computers, so I write on paper whenever I have some spare moments: like before I go to sleep or while waiting for dinner to finish cooking. And whenever I go out, I have a notebook in my bag. I’ve written on planes, at professional conferences, on a muddy English hillside, during a blackout, in the hospital … If someone sends me to the moon, I’ll have a notebook tucked in my astronaut pants.

10. Where can readers learn more about you?

On Twitter or my blog.


Bonus question: How do you do research for your books?

I fall into Wikipedia. Approximately fourteen hours later, I emerge from the morass of facts battered, bruised, and clutching one relevant piece of information that I somehow acquired while getting sidetracked reading articles about George IV or jai alai or the history of the word “antimony.”

2021 Third Quarter Book Releases

Listed below are the Dragon Soul Press anthologies that released during the third quarter of 2021.
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July

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Criminals will be criminals.

Blood soaks the streets. These murderers must be caught before they find their next victim. Deadly skin-walkers, determined vigilantes, dastardly vampires, and many more will leave you on the edge of your seat.

Beneath the Skin by Lincoln Reed

The Watcher by Lincoln Reed

I Know Who Did It by Christina Hoag

An Oath to the Sun by Austin Worley

Orion by Stephen Oliver

Yenaldooshi by Gregory Scott Matics

The Reamer Killings by Tim O’Neal

Die Tired by Douglas Allen Gohl


August

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A game of life and death.

Trapped in the game by a glitch or by other nefarious means, these characters must play their way out or lose their lives in the process.

Replay by Lincoln Reed

Threads by Rose McClary

Do You Remember Jazzy? by Chris Lilienthal

Blood Magic by Douglas Allen Gohl

Call Me Aggie by Gray Stanback

The Silver Cross by J.E. Feldman


September

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Intergalactic adventures await…

Forgotten planets watched over by stoic librarians, investigations into extinct worlds, and accidental discoveries of lifeforms gone awry send these characters reeling with information they might be better off not knowing.

Ex Libris by Lincoln Reed

The Cradle Expedition by S.Z. Sekulin

The Selection Process by Barend Nieuwstraten III

Snakes in the Tomb by Matthew M. Montelione

A Lost World by A.K. Stuntz