IWSG: An Aspie Writer’s Take on Social Distancing

Since I have Asperger Syndrome (an autism spectrum disorder,) I have been doing social distancing all my life. I just didn’t know that was what it was called. I just thought of it as being lonely and not having friends and going days and weeks without meaningful social interactions.

This is a post in the Insecure Writer’s Support Group blog hop: https://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/p/iwsg-sign-up.html

While other people are getting frantic when they have to stay home because of that certain virus, my life is mostly situation normal. I haven’t had a job for years and get along on SSI disability (NOT fun,) I live in a rural area and don’t waste my small amount of money by hanging about in barrooms, and after a lifetime of having social interactions with mean and hostile people, I tend not to even try to socially interact any more.

In fact, the main change in my life is in the direction of MORE social interaction. My friends, with a very few exceptions, are not real-world friends but online friends. And my social media accounts are livelier than normal with many people staying home and sharing memes and rumors about the virus all day.

Being socially isolated can help you concentrate on doing your writing work— if you actually do your writing instead of letting your social media become a time sink. I have recently completed a short non-fiction ebook. Unlike my usual open-ended projects that get bogged down and fail, I planned this project to be a small, time limited one. I gave myself 12 writing days to produce a work that would be 12000 to 24000 words long, which I have read is a good length for a non-fiction ebook.

In reality it took me 17 days, the book turned out to be on the long side of the projected length (which is good), and I had to do 3 more days to transform my Scrivener text into something Kindle Create could work with and to design a cover on Canva.

And now the hard part comes. I don’t really know how to do the social interaction part of doing a book launch, and with my SSI income I can’t hire services to promote my book for me. I don’t know how well the book will do.

But I have already started my next two writing projects. One is another non-fiction, this time about a low-carbohydrate/ketogenic way of eating. The other is science fiction, about a starship which is somewhat lost and encounters a planet where the population is keen on dealing in stolen starship parts. I am not sure, right now, if it’s better to try to work on both at once or to do them one at a time to keep focus. What will happen? Well, you can come back to this blog to find out.

Lenten and Insecure-Writer Greetings,

From Nissa Annakindt & her cats and other critters.

A Click-To-Tweet Experiment

This one’s about my new book, ‘Getting More Blog Traffic: Steps Towards a Happier Blogging Life. Click on the blue bird to tweet about it. (If you want to participate in this experiment.)

Tweet: Learn simple and free secrets to get more traffic to your blog https://ctt.ac/O71HU+ #blogging

 

IWSG: Family traditions or family trauma?

Family traditions or family trauma? Which create more fodder for the writer? Happy, traditional-celebrating families are all the same, but every family suffers its traumas in a unique way. Your family’s happy family vacation in Yosemite won’t lead to any writing other than a grade school essay, but if your dad went to prison, your mom was an alcoholic, your childhood cat had kittens on the toilet seat cover, and a famous serial killer stole your beloved pink bicycle, rejoice! Your past is full of things to write about!

[This is a post in the Insecure Writer’s Support Group blog hop: https://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/ .The question for the event is: ‘Other than the obvious holiday traditions, have you ever included any personal or family traditions/customs in your stories?’ And I’m not ignoring the question this time.]

Good writing aims at creating emotion in the reader, and traumatic events tend to produce more intense and lasting emotions than happy little memories. That time you were stalked by the campus rapist? Pure gold for the writing-you that you are today. Your happy fifth-birthday party? Not so much.

Writing is one way to help yourself through a trauma, major or minor. When family member X shamed me at a family gathering, I went home and wrote furiously on something. Not a something directly inspired by the being-shamed event, not even close. But I wrote and it was intense and it helped. Very shortly after that event there was a death in the family and I had to interact with family member X as if nothing had happened though I’m sure it was expected that I would assume that I had been in the wrong and be very ashamed of myself. (Still not ashamed.)

I was blessed by having an intact family that stayed intact until my father’s death from natural causes, and we were generally happy. But in every family some minor trauma flows, and some trauma that no one could prevent. Grandparents and great-aunts died, there were tornadoes in the campground we planned to stay in on our trip through the country, and there were a lot of little things that went wrong that seemed much bigger and more intense when I was a child.

Even when I’m not writing something that strikes similar emotional chords to my family trauma-events, it is a part of my past and therefore of who I am, and thus is a part of my writing life.

My Facebook author page: (Please visit & ‘like!’) https://www.facebook.com/nissalovescats

IWSG: Pictures & Conversations

How do your writing ideas— fiction or non-fiction ideas— come into your head? I know I often ignore that aspect of my writing life. But as I look back on my process, I find that my ideas come in the form of pictures and conversations.

This is a post in the monthly blog event of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group— visit their blog here:

PICTURES

Mental pictures are particularly important to my fiction life. I see a race of people who can change their skin color by changing their shirts, or a starship with a large forest in the center of it, or an animate showerhead and toilet. In my current fictional WIP, the guiding picture is a group of naked Jewish people in a Nazi gas chamber, and a portal to another world opens and a group of Catholic monks from that world hustle the people out of the chamber and into the other world. And then, there is a dragon….

I’m not really a visual thinker, so these mental pictures have vague spots— I couldn’t draw a picture of them, even if I was a skilled artist. There are only a few parts of the picture that are clear and visual at the moment I get the idea. Though concentration on the image and the related story make more things come clear. These pictures  are helpful when the writing chore of describing things comes along.

CONVERSATIONS

Conversations and speeches have a constant place in my head, and I use them both for my fiction writing and my non-fiction blog posts. Fictional conversations, or dialog, are a way to draw people into a story. They can’t replace other elements like description, which keeps the reader oriented in the story. A story with conversations but no description, set in a magic forest or a high-tech spaceship, may lead the reader to forget the setting and wander out of the story, bored.

Conversations can’t be written down just as they first occur in your head. My head-conversations often have vague, unnamed participants and a Byzantine backstory which intrudes into the conversation. Part of the reason for a writer’s reading life is to get a sense as to how to include conversations without neglecting the rest of the story, or distracting from it.

My non-fiction ideas come not so much as dialog but as set speeches, as if I were giving a lecture on the topic. When I have a blogging idea, I rehearse in my head the things I might say about it. As a child my version of this— before I was actively writing non-fiction— was to compose letters in my head to ‘Dear Abby.’ (I didn’t know at the time that ‘Dear Abby’ was a euthanasia advocate who promoted ‘living wills’ for that reason, or that her twin sister was ‘Ann Landers.’)

The main point to remember is that however your ideas come into your head, they have to be worked out a bit before you set them down on paper. You may neglect to mention important things about a character in your head-images because YOU already know those things. But sometimes the reader really needs to know your character is a cockroach.

HELP! My blog is not doing so well lately, and I’d like to ask a favor— either share a post from this blog to your Twitter, MeWe or Facebook, or share one from some OTHER blog. I don’t really care which blogger you help out in this way, just help one of us. Thanks.

If you REALLY like me, you could always follow me on Twitter. I follow back unless you are Nancy Pelosi, or naked in your profile picture. https://twitter.com/nissalovescats

IWSG: Following Heinlein’s Rules

Writers and would-be writers, since we work alone, crave rules that will promise success. Lots of people make up rules for writers— English teachers who have never published anything, or even written anything, wannabe writers who like to boss other wannabes around, people trying to sell writing classes or writer services or recruit writers to be victimized by a vanity press….

This is my monthly post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group: https://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/

The best rules for writers come from known writers who have actually written stuff, and made a living from writing. Robert Heinlein was such a writer— his science fiction is still read today— and he invented 5 simple rules for writers.

I have a book by Dean Wesley Smith about Heinlein’s rules. Smith is also a professional writer. He got that way by following Heinlein’s rules, he says. Smith has written over 100 novels and an unknown number of short stories, in his early career he was entirely traditionally published and has now gone indie, and I have actually heard of him and have some books he wrote on my shelf.

Heinlein’s rules worked, therefore, for Dean Wesley Smith, at least. Will they work for you? Probably better than writing advice from people who have never made a living at writing, who perhaps have never finished a novel or even a short story.

Here are the rules— Heinlein called them business habits:

1. You must write.

2. You must finish what you start.

3. You must refrain from rewriting except to editorial order.

4. You must put it on the market.

5. You must keep it on the market until sold.

Things are a little different today, as Dean Wesley Smith points out in his book. Putting a written work on the market can now mean indie publishing it. Keeping it on the market until sold can mean keeping an indie published work up, even if it doesn’t sell very well, instead of pulling all your work down because it’s ‘not good enough.’

As the ultimate Insecure Writer, I’m shy about submitting my work for publication, perhaps because of my Asperger Syndrome. Perhaps it’s just I am afraid of being judged by people who just don’t get me. But in keeping with Heinlein’s rules, I put up some of my work on Wattpad, and plan to do more there— a non-fiction work, and a new book of my poetry, both of which may become, in a longer version, at least Smashword ebooks and perhaps proper books (if I can figure out how to format for Lulu and how to afford a decent book cover.)

My Wattpad profile: https://www.wattpad.com/user/NissaAnnakindt

Feel free to share your own Wattpad profile in a comment.

#FixThatBlog – Blogging and your WIP

This is a post in the #FixThatBlog series about fixing neglected author blogs, and also the July post in the Insecure Writers’ Support Group blog hop. See, multitasking!

A writer must write. Write on his works-in-progress, and finish first draft and other drafts. But he must also write blog posts so he can build a platform, right? But how do you find the time to do both?

You make the time. Platform-building, in the form of writing your blog posts, and writing your writing-works are both being-a-writer tasks. As are finding agents and traditional publishers, or finding book cover artists and editors-for-hire, depending on whether you are seeking indie writer or traditionally-published writer status.

But it’s tricky. I have a lot of days when I either write blog posts or do work on my WIP. I’ve been trying to schedule a second writing session in my evenings when I usually watch boring crap on television. But due to my health problems and to cheats on my ketogenic ‘lifestyle’ I am too exhausted in the evenings lately to actually do it. I must think of some other solution.

We writers are multi-taskers. We write on our WIPs, but we also go to our day jobs or get our laundry done or cook our meals. And make our bulletproof coffees. There have been cases of writers who took a year’s sabbatical to finally have time for their writing work— and they get even less done than when they were busy with a day job.

I’m not a perfect person on being organized or on Getting-Things-Done. I have Asperger Syndrome (autism spectrum disorder), which can make a person seem like they have attention deficit disorder as far as being organized and getting things done is concerned. And I’m not a spring chicken any more, and so have a set of health problems that cause a lot of fatigue, especially when I don’t watch my diet. So I have to adapt whatever advice I get from books to what works for me.

Days of the week are one ‘organizational’ tool I have. My garbage pickup is on Wednesday, so an important task on Tuesday is getting the garbage gathered and the garbage cart taken to the curb. Since this blog, since my recent small stroke in February, is also replacing a ketogenic diet blog I don’t have time for, I use Thursday as ‘keto day’ on this blog and make keto posts then. The first Wednesday in the month is Insecure Writers Support Group day. Saturday I can write about my cats or critters, and Sunday I can write things related to Christianity.  This gives me a bit of a planning scheme that I can remember.

To learn more about writing and time management, read How to Manage the Time of Your Life by James Scott Bell. (JSB writes a lot of how-to-write books that are very useful, and also writes mystery novels in the Evangelical Christian fiction market.)

To learn more about Getting-Things-Done, pick up  Getting Things Done by David Allen. This book has been found so useful by so many people that it made the book into an actual bestseller— as in ‘New York Times bestseller.’

IWSG folks on Blogger: if you have that ‘prove you are not a robot’ thing enabled, I cannot comment on your blog post. Sorry. It just doesn’t work on my computer and I’m sick of writing comments that don’t get posted so I have stopped trying.

Have you had any conflicts between getting your WIP done and writing your author-blog posts? Or getting your other tasks done? What do you do about the conflict? Have you found a solution that works for you?

#IWSG – How to Find the Right Genre

Genre? What is a genre? Does ‘creepypasta’ count as a genre? It’s confusing, and that makes for writer insecurity.

This is a post for The Insecure Writer’s Support Group. Find Out More: http://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/p/iwsg-sign-up.html

Let’s make things easy. A genre is a division in a real-world bookstore. They keep the mysteries in one place, romance in another, and the science fiction and fantasy genres lumped together in another place.

Genres like that are major genres. There are a lot of subgenres under each genre, but the important thing is the major genre. Some subgenres disappear— like the Gothic romance that had its own shelf in the bookstore in its heyday— but writers continue on in another subdivision of the major genre. Some Gothic romance writers just called their work ‘romantic suspense’ and kept on writing Gothics!

What genre is right for me? Because of having Asperger Syndrome (Autism Spectrum Disorder) I can generate infinite self-doubt about my genre choices. I can tell myself ‘you aren’t really good enough/original enough to write in that genre’ until the sheep come home. (I don’t own cows so can’t do anything until the cows come home.)

The first genre I really loved was science fiction, and that wasn’t because of books, but because of the original Star Trek series. As I grew old enough to obtain books on my own, I read Orson Scott Card and Mercedes Lackey and other authors, some of whom I no longer mention, as in the case of the Darkover authoress who ruined her own fiction by being a swine in real life.

What I really like is a subgenre which is sometimes called ‘planetary romance,’ which is a fantasy-like story which takes place on another planet and where the ‘magic’ tends to be based on science not yet understood in our own time. My current WIP is in this subgenre.

I also get writing ideas that are not ‘planetary romance’ but that fit into the science fiction and/or fantasy genre(s) in some way. Even my ideas for Westerns tend to have alien cowpokes in them. I think that is the key to determining a writing genre— not which you like to read the most, but which genre you constantly have ideas for.

Do you have a Facebook author page? Read: https://myantimatterlife.wordpress.com/2019/05/25/doing-facebook-author-pages-in-2019/ and add the link to your author page in a comment, and your author page will be added to my list! The list is here: https://myantimatterlife.wordpress.com/fb-author-pages/

How New Author Bloggers can get Readers, Part 1

Imagine you just started your author-blog yesterday. You wrote a blog post that is really fine-and-dandy. But it will probably be a while before you start getting discovered by readers. What can you do, right now, to get your posts read?

One thing that has worked for me is the Insecure Writer’s Support Group or IWSG. It is a monthly blog hop for writers which has really blossomed in to something big. It takes place the first Wednesday of every month. Here is where you sign up. http://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/p/iwsg-sign-up.html

It’s a very LONG list of participants. And they weed out the people who forget to participate regularly. Now, just this list of subscribers is gold, because it is a list of active author bloggers.

Best Practices for IWSG Participants

     Your Post

The group is about sharing your insecurities as a writer. DON’T write a post that sounds like a blurb from your book. Write something that shares a little of yourself, and how you are not quite 100% confident about your writing. But— here’s an important hint— don’t sound TOO insecure. You want other people to have some confidence in your writing. So don’t write an ‘everything I write is utter dreck’ post because that encourages people to believe it! Write something about one little thing that is giving you trouble. Or that you worry about. As in my own case: I’m working on a zombie apocalypse story, and I finally have a good name for my Hero: Eirik, a Viking form of Erik. But in this case his birth name was Frederick. It’s great, and Frederick has resonance with me because I had a grandfather Frederick. And my other grandfather had the middle name of Friedrich, German for Frederick. But then I realized— the name Eric is close to Rick, the hero of the zombie TV show The Walking Dead. What is my subconscious mind trying to do to me?

Visiting blogs

The number one thing that the IWSG does for you is gets you to visit other people’s blogs. And the one thing you have to do is to write comments on blogs. Any blogs. All blogs. Except porn/erotic-romance writer’s blogs, of course. (Their writing world is not our world.)

Comments can and should be short, but they should show that you have actually read the blog post in question. ‘Nice post’ does not cut it. ‘Nice post about your cat’s flea infestation’ does.

There are four kinds of blogs on the IWSG that it pays to comment on:

  • The ones at the very bottom, who have just signed up and who may not be used to getting comments on their blog
  • The ones at the very top, who are regular participants and who get lots of comments on their IWSG posts (make yours memorable.)
  • The ones in the middle, who don’t get the attention that the bottom and top do
  • Your regulars. These are the people who, after a few months of participation, you think are good matches for you and your blog. Perhaps they are writing in your genre, or they share your worldview, or maybe they are just funny or have great content or share cute pictures of their cat. Make a list of these blogs you like and be sure to visit them each time.

Being visited

Remember to visit back on the blogs of your commenters. I’m really insecure about doing that because visiting back feels too much like social interaction and as a person with Asperger Syndrome (autism spectrum disorder) that’s difficult and scary.

Mark the Date

It’s easy to forget about the date of the IWSG, which is the first Wednesday of the month, so mark it on your calendar and put a note on the wall of your writing room. It’s a very worthwhile effort for those with new or rarely visited blogs.