Is ‘The Miracle Morning for Writers’ just a time sink?

Some time ago I bought a book called ‘The Miracle Morning for Writers’. Yes, I own a book that tells me how to get up in the morning! ‘The Miracle Morning for Writers’ has you getting up earlier, and gives you a list of important items to do in your new, earlier morning.

These items are called the ‘Life S.A.V.E.R.S.’ Yes, it’s an acronym, and one which renames the six practices in odd ways so they fit the acronym. They are based, so it says, on the habits of the world’s most successful people.

Silence: the first one is just a weird retake on meditation. It also mentions ‘prayer’ as a possible way to do ‘silence’, but then continues on as if we are all doing Trancendental Meditation for our ‘silence’ step. So, in other words, ‘silence’ is denatured Eastern religious practices. Some of us Christians won’t do it on principle, and so we are just to sit there and wonder if our own Christian prayer and meditation routines are really ‘proven’ as a habit of the world’s most successful people.

Affirmations: yes, the good old-fashioned New Age technique of lying to yourself daily is part of the ‘Miracle Morning.’ But it claims that the most blatant lying-to-yourself doesn’t work. You shouldn’t use ‘I am a millionaire’ as a prosperity affirmation because your mind knows it’s not true.
The only thing that affirmations are good for, in my opinion, is to change your own negative thought patterns. Affirmations aren’t a magic spell to get you more success and prosperity from the obedient universe who grants us our wishes if we express them in the right New Age way. It’s just a way to turn your brain’s ‘I fail at everything’ mantra into a ‘Sometimes I succeed’ mantra.

Visualization: Supposedly it is actually proven to work when top atheletes do it. The book recommends visualizing the process of ‘getting there’ rather than the results. So instead of seeing your book at the top of the bestseller list, you see yourself working on writing the book, or doing the things you can actually do to promote that book. Visualization might actually help— I find sometimes when I think about, and ‘visualize’, doing a dreaded task it functions as a rehersal for actually doing the task.

Exercise: Yeah, they want you to do that, too. Artificial exercise, that is. Because if you lift 40 pound hay bales all morning to get your animals fed, you aren’t exercising. You’re just farming. You have to get on a treadmill or go to a gym for your exercise to count! And some exercise does stimulate your mind. But does doing a full workout in the morning help you, or exhaust your mental energy so you can’t use that energy for your writing?

Reading: It is a little horrifying that the authors of ‘Miracle Morning for Writers’ think that they even need to pursuade writers that reading is helpful. Even if you assume that the ‘Writers’ they are writing for are just get-rich-quick schemers who pump out self-published how-to books in order to separate fools from their money. Fiction writers are at least encouraged to read some how-to-write-fiction books as well as the New Agey ‘success’ books they recommend. It doesn’t really cover the importance of reading in your genre or genres, or even that a writer is someone who actually reads books for enjoyment.

Scribing: Since the word ‘writing’ doesn’t fit the acronym, they have to call it scribing. But it doesn’t mean writing the next chapter in your Work In Progress. No, this is about writing in your journal. Yeah, keeping a journal is another task that The Miracle Morning adds to your day.

Now, what does the Life S.A.V.E.R.S. actually add up to in terms of your day? A 60 minute practice, according to the schedule they give as an example. And at the end of it you still haven’t touched your writing for the day. And the amounts of the other activities may not be enough for you. The 10 minutes for ‘Silence’ aren’t enough to, say, pray the rosary. The 10 minutes of exercise don’t seem like much, either. And 20 minutes for reading? I’d want more than that, and I’d want to do it at a time of day when I don’t have to end quick in order to get my ‘Scribing’ and my actual writing done.

Would getting up earlier to do these 60 minutes of tasks help me get my daily writing stint done? Or would they end up being a substitute for getting my writing done? I don’t really know, but given the hard time I have getting my writing and other daily tasks done, I’m not sure if it would help.

What about you, the reader? Have you ever read ‘The Miracle Morning for Writers’ and tried out its recommendations? Did you ever try something similar? How did it work for you?

I don’t know exactly if I want to try the whole ‘Miracle Morning for Writers.’ But maybe I could add the recommended activities, one by one, to see what happens.

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Murder over mushrooms — plants in Worldbuilding

Worldbuilding? Thinking about plants? Sometimes a plant can play an important role in a science fiction or fantasy novel. Remember the nightlock plant in The Hunger Games.

A feminist-fantasy stereotype is an herb that works exactly the way feminists wish birth control pills would work. To signal even more feminist virtue, it may be accompanied by an herbal version of the morning-after pill or RU-486— something that will do in an unborn child once its life has begun. There are of course no side effects, not even the normal depression that can come with the ending of a pregnancy in even the best circumstances.

Plants are a major food source, even for carnivores like me. And of course to get the eggs, cream and meat I need for my healthy low-carb diet, I have to feed chickens and sheep lots of good plants, such as stinging nettle. Stinging nettle may sting you when fresh, but if you cook stinging nettle plants they are like spinach. Only better tasting.

Dried stinging nettle plants are a good fodder for sheep, goats and other critters that eat grass and hay. My goats and some of my sheep are willing to eat any fresh stinging nettle I pick for them, but they ignore the stinging nettle plants growing in their pens unless I pluck it for them.

My chickens also eat fresh stinging nettle. Right now a big group of my chickens is in a non-movable pen with no access to fresh greens, so they get very excited when I bring them a fresh bunch of stinging nettle.

In my WIP Tiberius Base, plants are a major influence for the people in starships and star bases. Scientific studies show that people who have regular access to plant-rich environments are happier. And so it is customary to provide these plant rich environments.

A human-constructed forest is at the heart of all Terran-flagged starships. Ships’ crews brag about the size and intricacy of their ship’s forest. Star bases have even larger forests, and an actual space city usually has more than one.

Tiberius Base has a larger forest than any other constructed by Terrans so far. It contains a wide variety of trees and plants from both European and Asian environments. Mushrooms spores are well represented in the mix. And this leads to a problem.

Mushrooming is an amazingly popular activity among Terrans in space. The formal food-growing facilities on Terran ships and bases don’t traditionally grow mushrooms and so it is a highly sought-after food. Canned mushrooms are a staple in trading and many worlds without much interplanetary trade have a small facility in which to can mushrooms.

A forester is placed in charge of an artificial forest in a starship or base, but people hiking through the forest for recreation often come upon newly sprouted mushrooms before the forester is aware of them. People often have certain mushroom-rich areas of a forest that they look upon as their personal mushroom-hunting space. The problem arises when more than one person claims the same space.

Usually there are a few rules. Residents of a base or starship have a higher claim to a bit of the local forest than do transients or guests. Well-off people who have a garden area incorporated into their quarters must give way to the lower-income workers. But when 2 people of the same status claim the same mushroom ground, it can get difficult.

There was a famous case of murder over morel mushrooms on one of the older starbases. Since this base was owned by the Menders, an alien race, and Terrans were only using the base with permission, it was quite the scandal. It has since been established that murder over mushrooms, even morel mushrooms, is in no way considered justifiable homicide. It is also customary to grow some morel mushrooms in the cultivation rooms to render them less rare-and-hard-to-come-by.

Another way plants are important to star bases and starships is the provision of Schreber gardens. A Schreber garden is a custom which started in Germany. There are small garden plots provided to those who live in apartments or small houses with no gardening space.

In the spacegoing world, Schreber gardens are provided to anyone living on a space base who do not have a garden area as part of their living quarters. Gardening together with your Schreber garden neighbors is a popular pastime. Even in starships sometimes Schreber garden plots are provided to interested crew men, especially men who are drafted into the service.

Certain drug plants are forbidden crops on any space station or ship, as drug plants may be taboo in our world. Use of drugs for other than medical necessity is considered a sign of weakness, and drug users are likely to be identified and deprived of employment opportunities. However, the usual punishment for a convicted drug user is time spent in a locked-door rehab facility, so at least the convicted have a chance to shake their addictions.

Some plants may be mild spices for one species and deadly drugs for another. This creates conflict when the spice is a beloved one and the users of it don’t want to give it up to help aliens remain drug-free. Sesame seeds are a plant item of this class, but roasting the seeds denatures the drug effect.

Infinite patience & sweetness with our readers

What relationship should a writer have with his readers? I remember once looking at author Stephen King’s web site. He was at the time expressing a lot of contempt for those people who had ‘hatefully’ voted for the Republican man who was at that time President of the US.  He didn’t seem to be aware that many of his readers did not agree with his politics, and so he was insulting people he should have been wanting to sell books to.

The other day I was reading a leaflet I got from the Legion of Mary, a Catholic organization I joined in my parish. It gives as a basic principle for people doing church work ‘Infinite patience and sweetness must be lavished on a priceless soul.’ I think that’s a good principle for writers, too. Each person that might (or might not) buy our books is an individual precious soul that God loves.  Each soul is far more precious than all of the books we might write in a lifetime. We shouldn’t see them as just fodder for our book salesmanship efforts.

What do those precious souls want? More important, what do they need? If we are Christians we would probably say they need Jesus in their lives. Is our writing a help to that goal or a hindrance? Is our work more than just cheesy fiction to pass a few hours, or is there something of spiritual value hidden in there?

An individual reader may not choose to buy YOUR book. But the way you interact with that precious soul may have an influence on his life, including his eternity. It is a sacred trust. And so therefore a Christian writer probably shouldn’t be putting people down for liking Star Wars more than Star Trek, or being a geek or not being a geek. They are precious souls and even if they are being annoying as heck right now— perhaps condemning your whole body of work because one of your novels contains the word ‘heck’— you in your interactions with that person can have a great effect.

My mother tends to have annoying friends, who call her at all hours even when she tells them not to call at certain times. They talk for a long time without giving my mother a chance to say anything. But they are emotionally damaged people who need someone who will just listen. They don’t have the social skills to be people other people WANT to talk to on the phone. So they need someone like my mom, who takes their calls anyway. It’s a gift of charity that she has.

The rest of us may not have these special spiritual gifts, but we may be called to be listeners anyway. I suppose if we could master a hard-sell approach to book marketing, we could turn these annoying or critical people into sales of our books. But that would be not treating them as individual people with precious souls. Unfortunately, our book sales have to come in second to the needs of real people.

Red fiction, blue fiction

When I was younger and far more naive, I had this idea about the publishing world: Since the nation is increasingly divided between red and blue, publishers would seek a solution.

They would discover a budding Stephen King, a progressive. They would publish his work under one pen name in book with a blue spine. They would have a conservative ghost writer (using a Ouija board?) do a rewrite, pulling out all the progressive stuff and putting in sound conservative stuff. That would be published under a different pen name, in a book with a red spine.

People would read the authors that spoke to their worldview the most. And in time they would figure out the red/blue coding on the book covers. Writers would no longer have to cover up their worldview to get published, since every writer would be coming out in 2 editions with different viewpoints and names.

Readers in the know would collect both the red and blue versions of authors and they would guess which version was the original and which altered by ghost writers.

But, as I said, this was a naive idea. The scary idea is that progressive publishers, like other progressive businessmen, do not want our business. They think we are racist (even mixed race people like me) sexist deplorables. Haters because we love Jesus Christ and don’t want other people to face a Christless eternity in hell. Rather than seeking our dollars they seek to have our businesses go out of business or our employers fire us for being ‘haters.’

But conservative and/or Christian writers and readers have options. There is indie fiction, and there are small presses where our world view is the norm. By the same token, if you are so progressive that progressive publishers seem conservative, there are publishers that are more ‘out there.’ I know of several lesbian publishing houses and a feminist one. I’m sure there are general far-out progressive ones as well. And if you are too far out for them, there is the indie route.

Still, I think it was better when writers and fiction producers (in television and movies) wanted a broad audience. When Gene Roddenberry had to tone down his ideas of futuristic temporary marriages and an Enterprise chapel without chaplains, because he and the network wanted to INCLUDE conservatives and Christians in their audience base.


Commenters: your thoughts on the red/blue divide, publishing today, and indie fiction are welcome. Trekkies who want to go on a rant on how much better the Original Trek was than the new thing are also welcome.

WW: A Sci-Fi military must know that it’s the military

Our Worldbuilding Wednesday topic is: Military. More information on the Worldbuilding Wednesday blog hop below.

The one thing your fictional Sci-fi military must do is know that it is the military. None of this crap they put out in the recent Star Trek movies ‘I thought we were explorers.’ What did you think the Enterprise’s phasers and photon torpedoes were there for? What about those military ranks? And the fact that disobeying an order can result in a courtmartial, not just getting fired as in the civilian world?

Star Trek is stupid on these points because it’s a brilliant idea ruled over by whiny Leftists. You can’t expect better from them. That’s why I didn’t bother to watch more than a few minutes of ‘Star Trek Discovery.’ I knew it would suck and it did. So I spend my time seeing if Ice-T could solve the murders of Tupac and Biggie. (I think he needed help from Mariska Hargitay.)

A military uses force for the common good of society. Yes, they kill people. And that’s sad. But when you have an enemy army pouring over your nation’s borders, you need to kill some people to stop it. Probably most of the people you kill will be nice people who are only doing what their government tells them to. But if you don’t want your nation ruled by a Stalin or a Hitler, you will need to get your hands dirty.

A police force also uses force for the common good. Sometimes good police officers shoot and kill a dangerous looking person that turns out to be young, or unarmed. But the problem is that you can’t always tell if that dangerous or defiant guy is young or reaching for a stick of gum instead of a gun. What would happen if officers failed to stop a dangerous-looking guy who went on to kill 10 school kids?

In my WIP Tiberius Base, there is a Fleet which was once answered to the Terran Council. Only the Terran Council disbanded years ago. The Fleet goes on, protecting Terran worlds and doing a little trading on the side to fund themselves. Because they now no longer receive funding from the taxpayers as they once did.

The space city Tiberius Base is owned by Fortunate Dragon Company, which is a part of the Interplanetary People’s Republic. The IPR has a political/economic policy called Alliterism, which has a bad reputation on many worlds. So Fortunate Dragon hires the Fleet to provide people to operate the Base’s weapons, and some to function as a local police force. This requires them to create laws that are a sort of hybrid of what the IPR wants and what the Fleet will stand for.


This has been a post in the Worldbuilding Wednesday blog hop, sponsored by Rebekah Loper. Visit her blog at: https://rebekahloper.com/

Successful writers need to know grammar & spelling

Once upon a time, the uneducated writer had a chance. If a publisher decided he was a good writer in spite of his bad grammar and spelling, there were loads of qualified proofreaders to bring the book up to a literate level.

Today, the problem is that most younger people were raised by wolves (the public school system) where basic skills were neglected even when they had teachers who actually knew grammar and spelling. Now that the new generation of teachers believe ‘speling doesint counte’ school children don’t have a chance.

But readers tend to judge writers by their correct grammar and spelling skills. Most habitual readers pick up a certain amount of knowledge of these things from reading properly proofread books. They may not know all the rules, but when a writer violates a rule the reader knows, trust is lost.

The writing world today is divided between indie and traditional publishers. The indie writer without English skills can’t self-edit or self-proofread. He can hire an editor or proofreader, but if that editor or proofreader misses 50% of the writer’s mistakes, how will the writer know?

In traditional publishing, a publisher may still take a chance on an uneducated writer, especially if that writer is poor, a racial minority, and/or progressive enough. But where do traditional publishing houses get enough good enough proofreaders when their old ones retire or die? I’ve noticed books seem to have more uncorrected errors of spelling and grammar than they did when I was younger.

The solution for the aspiring writer with poor English knowledge is to LEARN! You must learn correct spelling. You must learn correct grammar. If you can produce mostly-correct manuscripts, you can come up with a better final product than if you were spelling-and-grammar impaired.

Most of us are familiar with spell-check software. If you have a spelling problem, look up every word marked as incorrect in a dictionary. Write down the correct version of the word you want. Practice spelling it correctly. Also look up ‘spelling demons’ to find the misspellings that your spell-checker doesn’t catch.

If you have grammar problems, you need to study grammar. Using a grammar-check program like Grammarly might help, but you need a basic understanding of English grammar to really master good grammar.

One additional method that I have used myself is to learn a foreign language. I took German classes since junior high school, and the classes were full of German grammar. Since the English classes at that level were more about making me read the right books (not classics, but books with Black characters and civil rights themes) I learned more about grammar from studying German grammar than taking English class.

Creativity and originality are great qualities in a writer. Just not when it comes to grammar and spelling. You want your readers to have confidence that you are a ‘real’ writer and know the English language well. Spelling and grammar help. And, as in the example in the graphic above, can keep you out of prison.

Valdemar: Fantasy Fic with Big Govt Programs

I’ve been reading Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar series for years, but some things about the series rub me the wrong way. Valdemar is a fantasy series set in a medievalish kingdom with magic horses called Companions. As a medievalish society it should be…. not progressive, socialist, or other modern things. And yet, it is.

In the novel Take A Thief, which tells the early history of the character Skif, it is told that the Crown has decreed that the school kids in the capital Haven get a free meal at government expense. It isn’t mentioned that the free meal is limited to the poor by any test of means. But it is mentioned that children who get through the mandated elementary education have to leave school and thus miss the free meal.

Another question is the education itself. In various Valdemar books it claims that Valdemar mandates elementary education for children though it seems that since the education is carried out by the various religions that perhaps Valdemar is requiring the religions to fund the schools rather than spending its own taxpayer funds on it.

The question arises: how does a medievalish fantasy world even come up with the idea of such big government programs? In the real world they didn’t come along until later. In part because medieval central governments were weak and the local lords had more power over the everyday life of their people.

The free meal program might have been a part of the normal charity programs of a medieval society, but only if it was confined to the poor. They hadn’t invented the concept of handouts for all classes of people yet. Even in our country the idea of a free summertime school lunch for all income levels (yes, that is a government program) is controversial.

And then there is the idea of education for all. In the medieval societies, most occupations didn’t require education or literacy. It seems a silly burden to impose on children who will grow up to be farmhands or carpenter’s assistants or street sweepers. Now, if Valdemar had a state religion, there might be a call for universal religious training, which might, like the first Sunday Schools, include reading and arithmetic training. But Valdemar decrees ‘No One True Way’ and that seems to mean that its religious picture is one of dozens of varieties of polytheistic paganism.

Now, the reason medieval societies didn’t have the full list of big government programs is that they cost the central government more money than it could raise by taxation. Medieval people, like people today, didn’t like high taxes. Why risk a tax revolt to fund social programs when the Crown had more immediate needs like funding an army for when wars happened? Or for when subordinate provinces rebelled and needed to be reconquered— perhaps because of a revolt against high taxes?

Of course the real reason fantasy worlds like Valdemar have anacronistic Big Government programs is that there are fantasy readers and writers who are Progressives/Socialists/Leftists who love these programs so much (because they never had to live on them) that they put them in to their fantasies whether they make sense or not. And that’s OK. But I’d like a fantasy world with less government and more freedom, personally.