Ellen Kushner joins us for the last episode of Season 10. Per the title, folks, it’s time to be done.
What does “done” mean? How do you go about declaring a project “finished” when you know there are still things wrong with it? How do you clear your head, your work space, and your life for the next thing you need to do?
Out of Excuses: Per Brandon’s plug in the episode, registration is open for the 2016 Out of Excuses WritingWorkshop and Retreat!
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 21:50 — 15.0MB)
Try something new. Brainstorm something new, something different from what you’ve written before.
Microcasting! It’s a Q&A, with each question serving as its own little micro-podcast. This week’s questions:
- Should you include your prologue as one of the three chapters you send in a submission packet?
- How do you get out of the spot where your protagonist has no motivation?
- What’s the best way to prove to a spouse that your writing is more than a hobby?
- How do you get back into a project after taking a break from it?
- Where do you start research for historical fiction?
- Let’s say you sold your first book. How do you tackle book 2 in a series?
- How do you go about writing an overarching setting, like Brandon’s “Cosmere?”
- What part about being a writer do you most enjoy, besides the actual writing?
Those are the questions. You’ll have to listen for the answers. Fortunately they’re not hidden or anything. We just come right out and say them.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 19:30 — 13.4MB)
Look around, identify an everyday object, and then create a post-apocalyptic setting in which that object is currency.
The Fall of the Kings, by Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman, narrated by Ellen Kushner, Nick Sullivan, Neil Gaiman, Simon Jones, Katherine Kellgren, Robert Fass, Richard Ferrone, and Tim Jerome
If you wanted to register for the Out of Excuses Workshop and Retreat and didn’t get in, I’m hoping that you might be interested in the Writing the Other Workshop and Retreat.
It’s held at the same location, Mary Robinette Kowal’s parents’ house.
Mary will be joined by NY Times Best-selling author David Anthony Durham; Cynthia Ward and Nisi Shawl, the authors behind the book Writing the Other; and K. Tempest Bradford, author and activist.
On Writing Excuses, some of the most common questions come in as variations of “How do you write someone who isn’t like you.” Many authors struggle to write beyond what they know and write the other. While we tackle this on the podcast, fifteen minutes is not enough time to delve into this tricky and nuanced skill. The Writing the Other Workshop and Retreat is designed with lessons and conversations, paired with a retreat, to give participants an opportunity to work on making their characters and worldbuilding deeper and more thoughtful. And David, Cynthia, Nisi, and Tempest really are that smart.
I hope the same urge that makes you listen to Writing Excuses will allow you to consider attending this retreat.
What are those things you already know, but which you might not be using in your writing? How do you identify those things and put them to work for you? Mette Ivie Harrison joins us for a discussion of how you might “hijack” (okay, “repurpose”) the knowledge you already have in order to make you a better writer. We hear a lot about the 10,000 hours of practice required to gain expertise in a given domain. It’s possible that you’ve already spent some of those 10,000 hours in activities that you didn’t realize were related.
Mette leads with her love of history. Mary directs us a bit with a metaphor from Jim Henson. Brandon talks about what is, by any other name, fanfic, and Howard talks about his degree in music composition. We also talk about how we leverage the knowledge we’re acquiring in other activities to flesh out the things we’re writing — in effect, letting that stuff serve as research without it being part of the actual research we do.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 19:06 — 13.1MB)
Look at your own life. Take some skill, activity, or piece of esoteric knowledge that seems completely unrelated to your writing, and then incorporate it in the next thing that you write.
Dangerous Women, by George RR Martin, Gardner Dozois and several others (including Brandon Sanderson), narrated by a long A-list of voices.
Mette Ivie Harrison joins us again, this time for a cast about productivity. She’s written an eBook, 21 Reasons You Think You Don’t Have Time To Write, which is currently free on the Kindle store. Here is the full list of 21 things, since we could spend an entire cast on just the first one.
The point here is to help you, the writer, to recognize the mental states and attitudes that are coming between you and your writing. It’s our hope that you’ll end up more productive, and we can’t think of a better thought upon which to end Writing Excuses Season 8.
Here is to a 2014 in which you write more, write better, and are happier doing it.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 18:31 — 12.7MB)
Come up with a reason why the writer in your story absolutely cannot write, then have your writer manage to write anyway.
Mary pitched this subject to us — it’s a discussion of the difference between that voice that says “this will make your story better” and the voice that says “nothing can save this story because you’re awful and should quit forever.”
You’ve probably heard the staple bit of sage advice that which says, in essence, “silence your internal editor.” Some of us need that internal editor, though, and the distinction between the editor and the heckler is critically important. And some of us need to train up those voices in our heads so that they say something useful.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 17:32 — 12.0MB)
Oh no! We forgot to give you a writing prompt! Fine… Your internal heckler turns out to be a real person/entity/being/whatever. Not everybody’s internal heckler—yours. Why?
This was recorded at the “Out of Excuses Retreat,” and the questions came from our attendees. Here are the questions! (You’ll have to listen for the answers.)
- How have your opinions on self-publishing changed in the last few years?
- What did you find difficult early in your career? How did you address this?
- What do you now find difficult? How do you address it?
- Do you put Easter Eggs in your work that only your friends recognize?
- How much do questions/comments from readers influence you?
And the question we did NOT answer, but it’s a great one for speculating…
- Where would Brandon, Dan, Mary, and Howard be, career-wise, if their paths had not crossed?
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 20:34 — 14.1MB)
Where would Brandon, Dan, Mary, and Howard have ended up if Writing Excuses hadn’t brought them together?
Troubletwisters, by Garth Nix and Sean Williams, narrated by Miriam Margolyes
Microcasting! It’s what we call a Q&A, because it’s like several little podcasts in one! Here are the questions (you’ll have to listen to the show for the answers):
- How do you manage your workload?
- Are writing contests worth it? Which ones are good?
- How do you make it clear that the weird aspects of your world are done on purpose rather than just being bad science?
- How do you know when to take a break from your writing?
- What are your word count suggestions for various markets?
Some Worthy Links: Writer Beware, Writers of the Future
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 19:49 — 13.6MB)
Keep track of your hourly word count for a day’s writing. Then set goals to beat that word count in subsequent sessions.