2017/02/24

How to Be Productive

productive writer

A reader and fellow author approached me with a question that I think is worth sharing.
Hey Brian, I had a question for you as an aspiring writer. What are some tricks that you do to keep on top of your production? Most days I can barely get 500 words on the page and often I'll not have breached my already low 2500 word goal for the week leaving me feeling demoralized for the next round.
Because being prolific is the key to success as a writer, knowing how to stay productive is essential. Here is my approach.

First, what I_don't_do is set word count goals. I think Scott Adams gets it right with his maxim "Goals are for losers. Systems are for winners." The reason is the demoralization you feel when you fall short of a goal. That creates disincentives that you must expend willpower to overcome. No one has unlimited willpower. Eventually, you will burn out.

Second, the way to achieve high productivity is to set up a system that minimizes effort. Really examine your writing process. You already know that you top out at 500 words most days. Guess what? That's about equal to my most recent daily word count on a paying project under a deadline. But I'm not worried because I wrote well over 2000 words the day before and likely will tomorrow, too. If you're like me, some days you'll barely muster 500 words, and other days, you'll break 5000. Take note of those peak productive days. Ask yourself why you were so prolific. What factors contributed to your high output? Chances are, there are certain conditions that you can replicate.

In summation, avoid holding yourself to artificial, arbitrary benchmarks. Learn as much as you can about your own writing process, paying special attention to which conditions facilitate your writing the most. If you're getting low word counts during the day, try writing at night. If you need to take the odd day off to recharge your creative batteries, go take a walk, read, play some video games, and get back to writing tomorrow. You may end up making more progress than you would have by forcing yourself to write on both days. Experiment. Once you find the right system for you, it'll hardly feel like work.

You know I'm not pulling your chain because I've already written three books, and I'm working on a fourth right now. If you found this information helpful, please consider showing your support by picking up one or more of my award-winning, fan-pleasing novels.


@BrianNiemeier

2017/02/23

Learning to Be a Hero

The following words are those of reader Adam Smith.

I recently finished writing my first novel, and I’m hoping to publish it sometime this summer. This has been a long process for me. It’s stirred up a lot of thoughts about what made me even want to write a book in the first place, and I thought I’d write them down somewhere. Maybe folks will be interested in reading it, maybe they won’t.

“Reading,” my mother always said, “is so important.”

I knew she was serious, because the area around our local library was so dangerous. My mother taught us early to step over broken bottles or spatters of blood, to keep an eye out for used needles scattered around the sidewalks. She made sure we kept out of reach of the dozens of men sleeping on the stone benches. Once in a while, if you looked too close, you might see that one of the people sheltering against the wall of the library wasn’t breathing. Sometimes an ambulance would be parked on the grass, paramedics loading a person inside with no particular haste because there was nothing medicine could do for the person any longer.

Inside the library was paradise. The rows upon rows of free knowledge seemed holier to me than any church I’d ever attended. My family was so poor that we could not afford to buy books of our own and indeed I didn’t realize until much later that one could even own a book, but through the miracle of public funding for education I was able to partake of the written word just like the rich kids at my school. My mother was able to procure one canvas bag for us to share, bright purple, with a tear in one corner so that you had to balance all your books on one side to avoid them spilling out.

The library would let us check out three books on each card, and we maxed that out every time. We had to be careful to return them early because our family could not afford late fines. I got used to devouring every book as fast as I could, reading like I was starving for the words. I read books on every subject and in every genre, anything made of paper and ink that could teach me about a world beyond my neighborhood. In the afternoons in my bedroom I would get a flashlight and read under a thick blanket to block out the sirens, screeching tires, gunshots, and screaming from the convenience store a few hundred feet from our door. Through the words of Alan Dean Foster I learned that our world could be so much more than I had ever imagined. Through the words of Margaret Weis I learned that stories did not even need to be set in our world to teach us important lessons about love and courage.

The books at the library were well worn, without exception. I spent the first moments with any book smoothing out the folded or mangled pages. My parents couldn’t spare money for something as frivolous as a bookmark, so my mother taught me to fold down the edges of pages to mark my place. It seemed a sacrilege, and I hated doing it, so I made sure to read as many pages at once as I could to keep the folding to a minimum. Worse was when I would reach sections of the borrowed books where someone had torn out half a page or even several pages, and I had to guess what the author had said during the gap. Worst of all was when, at age 9, I came across a section of a book splattered with large amounts of what looked like dried blood. Of course I had seen blood before, the blood of strangers on sidewalks or, infrequently, smeared on walls in the city. Seeing it in one of my books was a shock. It was more blood than I’d ever seen before, blocking out whole paragraphs and drowning the words. I couldn’t keep reading it. I put the book back in our torn purple bag and washed my hands with soap and hot water for 15 minutes, trying to block out thoughts about just how much blood it had been. I lied to my mother and told her I’d finished it, that we needed to return it the next day. The librarians said that was the only copy available, so I was never able to finish the story.

One day, I made a startling discovery: the other kids at my school had clean books. I’d never noticed before, never imagining that anyone could have a book they didn’t get from the local library. The other kids used bookmarks, no dog-eared pages or creases or missing chunks. No blood. I had never been conscious of our poverty before that moment, but how it ached to realize that there was a wall between me and books of that quality. Clean books became my measure of wealth. I dreamed of a library of my own someday, agonizingly aware it could never happen but wishing all the same. My father worked like a dog for what little we had, sometimes six days a week, and then also every night on the weekends. We couldn’t afford cable channels, or to replace torn bags, or video games, or a computer. But all of that faded away when I went into my books, entering a world where poverty didn’t matter, only courage and love and fierce devotion to doing what was right. I may have been poor, I told myself, but I was learning to be a hero.

After my tenth birthday my mother went back to work, a small part time job she could do while we were at school. This extra money meant huge things for our family. Most important to me was when my mother told me I could buy my first book. The school had always circulated a small catalogue that the rich kids could order from, young adult books available at discount prices of $2.99. She knew how much I loved to look over the pages, imagining reading the books which were almost never available at our underfunded library. When she told me I could buy my first book, I could scarcely believe it. I hurriedly selected the first book of a series all the other kids had been talking about: The Animorphs. It took time to arrive, but when it did, I had my first book. The pages were clean, crisp, perfect. I treasured it like it was made of solid gold. Then my mother told me that we could probably afford one book every 3 months. I couldn’t believe it.

After one year I had four books, all from the same series, the Animorphs. My father spent some of his rare spare time (and, even more rare, spare money) to put up a bookshelf made of the cheapest wood we could find. The bookshelf was directly opposite my bedroom door so I could display my four books proudly to everyone who entered. My friends would come over and politely say nothing as I showed off what I believed was my own enormous wealth: four young adult novels on a cheap wooden shelf, bolted to laminate wall paneling, with gunshots and screaming outside in the streets. But the pages were clean, crisp, and unstained. I learned to cradle the books in my hand when I read them to prevent creasing of the spine.

As I grew up, my family gradually made more money. I got a job as early as I could and spend my first paychecks on armfuls of books. We were still poor but I discovered a used book store took good care of their novels, only writing a small price in pencil on the first page. I spent hours carefully erasing those pencil marks. I suppose that I imagined people would walk into my home someday and see a huge shelf full of these books and, pulling one down, check for a pencil mark. Seeing none, they would surely be astounded at my wealth, my success in life.

Public funding for those in poverty helped me go to community college, then a small university. I made more money with each job. And each time I spent more than was wise on new books. I eventually married my wife and she taught me to budget for books, being more selective in what deserved to go on our sagging shelves. She’s patient now after 9 years together, patient with the stacks of books everywhere on my side of the bed, divided into crooked, towering piles so that only I know the significance of their placement.

In the last month, I’ve finally succeeded in raising my family from poverty and into middle class, thanks to more than a decade of hard work to find my way into a profession. I pre-order books and they arrive clean and crisp and brand new, the newest books anyone could possibly own. I imagine my infant son will someday take clean, crisp pages for granted. He won’t know what it’s like to creep past the dead and dying to find the only copy of a worn book, only to have to stop reading halfway through because there’s just too much blood blotting out the words. That he can have clean books and can read them without having to block out screaming and gunshots outside his window, that is my measure of success.

Friends laugh when I wave my arms and rant against the evils of digital print, and they’re right to do so because that certainly creates new opportunities for authors and for readers. But clean books will always be my measure of wealth.

I’ve had some brief contact with other authors in the field. I get a thrill when authors like K.M. Weiland or Nick Cole or Brian Niemeier respond to my comments on their beautiful stories. It probably means nothing to them, but it means a great deal to me. Authors like these are towering figures who made the world come alive for a small boy who didn’t even realize what poverty meant, only that his books were never clean. And maybe, someday, when my book is finally published, I will be allowed to sit on the fringes of their great brotherhood, my own small contribution to the field filling a shelf in a dirty library somewhere just waiting for a small hand to pull it down and stuff it into a torn bag. I can’t imagine a greater honor than that.

I look forward to publishing my book. I hope to sell at least a few copies, but more than that, I hope that it can inspire other kids who grew up with an insatiable hunger for words to begin telling their own stories.

I’ll tag #amwriting and #amediting just in case anyone sees this and wants to share their similar story. I’m sure I’m not alone in this kind of experience.

Thanks for reading.

Follow Adam on Facebook.

2017/02/22

Socialists Ruin Everything

Jasyn Jones regales us with a story from SFF history of an original paradise invaded by pinkos, pedos, and Men with Screwdrivers.
There was once an age, a Golden Age, an age of wonder and delight, of adventure and heroics, of creativity and imagination unbound… an age undreamt of by modern man, an age forgotten and buried, like hidden treasures beneath the sands of Ægypt.
And into this Golden Age came enemies, like ninjas in the night. (But not the awesome kind of ninjas, who totally kick ass, but the other kind. The bad kind. Ninjas who foreswear honor and kill for money. BOOO!) And these bad guy ninjas assassinated all the heroes and leaders of the Golden Age, and took their places, and had all their names and images erased. This they did, so that people would forget the awesomeosity of the Golden Age, would forget the great deeds done by the Golden Agers, and would be content with the sometimes-pretty-good-but-just-not-as-awesome deeds of the Silver Agers.
And we call these villains… THE FUTURIANS. And their reign was grim, indeed.
Now of the Futurians, there were three kinds: the sperglords, the scumbags, and the Socialists. (There were also some mostly-non-asshole Futurians, who don’t enter into this tale.) And each of these had reason to hate the awesomeness of the Pulps.
The sperglords sperged out because THE SCIENCE OF THE PULPS WAS WRONG AND THAT WAS NOT COOL HOLY CRAP MAN ITS CALLED SCIENCE FICTION IT’S RIGHT THERE IN THE NAME AND YOUR SCIENCE HAS TO BE CORRECT. IT’S THE MOST. IMPORTANT. THING. EVER. ALSO FANTASY IS FOR CHILDREN, I MEAN REALLY YOU GUYS WHO EVEN LET THEM IN THE BUILDING?!
I admit it. That part made me laugh.
So the sperglords, scumbags, and Socialists (who were very often the exact same people, all in one) ganged up together to subvert and undermine the awesome genre of Fantasy & Science Fiction, and to overthrow the Reign of the Masters of Pulp, and to denigrate and disparage the stories of the Golden Age, and to hide them from view. They declared themselves to be the TRUE Golden Age, and for FOUR GENERATIONS continued the lies, until the glorious past of F&SF was forgotten.
Here’s where hope enters the tale, and it’s because the Futurians were wrong. It isn’t called Science Fiction. It’s called Science Fiction, and the storytelling is the most important part. And there remained a small remnant who knew that.
Read the rest here.

Jasyn's post has drawn criticism--not just from the usual suspects, but from respected quarters of the Superverse--as revisionist history. I leave it to you to read Appendix N and draw your own conclusions.

And if you're hungry for SFF free from the influence of sperglords, scumbags, and socialists, I humbly direct you to my heroics, adventure, and imagination-filled Soul Cycle.

Brian Niemeier - The Soul Cycle

@BrianNiemeier

2017/02/21

MILO Witch Hunt Unmasks Legacy Publishers, Media

MILO

Media witch hunt
The recent witch hunt against Milo Yiannopoulos offered a valuable insight into how the legacy media, the political establishment, and New York publishers operate and what their real motives are.

The elites who run our government, press, and entertainment industries see themselves as better educated, better morally, and simply better than the people they seek to control.That's why they're unpersoning a gay Catholic of Jewish ancestry--because he poses a threat to their cultural dominance.

Look at the timing of their attacks. Three weeks ago, Leftist terrorists started riots over Milo's planned speech at UC Berkeley. As a result, his upcoming book Dangerous climbed to the top of Amazon (which I can personally attest to, since a book on which Milo and I are credited as co-authors received a similar bump). Last week, he appeared with Bill Maher on HBO. Then came his (now cancelled) CPAC keynote speech announcement.

As independent author and journalist Mike Cernovich notes, Milo's meteoric rise was on course to land him his own show on Fox News. The media and political elite that Milo has made a career of lambasting couldn't allow that. In their panic to keep Milo from going mainstream, they got desperate.

Concern trolls are playing into the enemy's hands.
Before we talk about what the media establishment's dog-piling on Milo means for free expression, particularly on the part of non-Leftists who want to remain employed and enfranchised, let's dispense with the blatantly ridiculous narrative that's been deployed against him.

Here's the video that was cherry-picked to falsely portray Milo as a pedophilia apologist. The conversation that the press mined for quotes occurs from 1:01:38 to 1:06:07 [Warning: NSFW language].


Law professor Glenn Reynolds examines a transcript of the video and delivers his informed opinion exonerating Milo (emphasis mine):
“It’s complicated” is usually the correct answer about questions concerning sex. But Milo’s actual position on pedophilia — he’s outed three pederasts in his reporting — doesn’t seem complicated at all.
Here is Milo's own statement on the matter. The definitive quote:
I do not advocate for illegal behavior. I explicitly say on the tapes, in a section that was cut from the footage you have seen, that I think the current age of consent is "about right." I do not believe any change in the the legal age of consent is justifiable or desirable.
Read the rest for some indispensable and devastating context. The short version: Milo himself was abused as a minor--in some instances by a priest. He continues to work through his childhood trauma using humor. His comments in the video weren't intended to advocate for pedophilia--which he specifically denounced--or to belittle other victims.

Milo reiterates and expands on these points in his press conference from earlier this afternoon.


By spinning a pedophilia advocacy narrative against a victim of child sex abuse, the media establishment showed just how frightened they are.

The footage they're using to crucify Milo has been publicly available for over a year. This isn't a case of skeletons hidden in someone's closet suddenly coming to light. It's a brazen, coordinated attempt to de-platform a rival who's proved spectacularly effective at competing for the public's attention--specifically the vital college-age demographic.

In their attempt to destroy Milo, the legacy media resorted to pure Alinsky tactics. They targeted Milo personally and tried to polarize the Right into pro and anti-Milo camps by playing Conservatives' own principles against them. Though support for Milo remains strong, more than a few people who are otherwise opposed to the social, political, and spiritual destruction wreaked by the mainstream media have been duped into helping them by letting themselves be led into the weeds of pointless semantic arguments and Pharisaism.

And if you think they won't do it to you, it just means you're not big enough yet.

The best argument for indie
Descending into the journalistic gutter to pull down Milo tipped the establishment's hand. When they claim to champion the rights of gays, minorities, and immigrants; yet converge to destroy a homosexual Jew visiting the US from Europe, its obvious that all they care about is power.

They're also projecting, as Milo's former publisher Simon & Schuster demonstrate by continuing to publish admitted incestuous pedophile Lena Dunham. Aware of the glaring double standard, Salon tried to scrub all of the pro-pedophilia articles from their site. Unfortunately for them, the internet is forever.

What does all of this mean for non-Left wing writers, journalists, and public figures?

  1. Most of the government, media, and entertainment industry is corrupt. The elites who run the bureaucracies in Washington, Hollywood, and New York care only about maintaining their monopolies on power.
  2. Since their primary concern is maintaining their narrative, and because that narrative contradicts reality, the mainstream press cannot be trusted.
  3. Given that the legacy media is wholly invested in keeping its monopoly and will shamelessly lie to protect said monopoly, they will not think twice about turning their heavy artillery against anyone who dissents. This means YOU.
  4. Before indulging the urge to join the latest MSM witch hunt under the aegis of "keeping your side honest", remember that the other side are proven liars who will distort or fabricate facts as convenient to push their narrative. Divide and conquer is their strategy. Don't be a useful idiot.
  5. Legacy publishers are no longer a viable option for authors who are anywhere to the right of Mao. That goes double for the Big Five New York publishers. This is a blessing in disguise, since indie is almost always a smarter alternative to trad book publishing, anyway. The only exceptions I know of are Castalia House--who will be publishing my next book--and Baen.
  6. It doesn't matter how lucrative or high-profile your brand is. The corrupt entertainment industry will gladly sacrifice anyone who deviates from the approved narrative. S&S forfeited at least $80 thousand of Milo's advance, many times that in pre-order refunds, guaranteed spots on every major bestseller list, and millions in future sales. They knew this and still cancelled his book deal because power is more important to them than money.
  7. We need to wake up and realize that the industries and institutions that used to serve us have become not merely self-serving, but actively hostile to most people. You can't depend on them. Stop helping them. Don't give them one red cent of your dwindling, hard-earned wages. If you're an author, use nontraditional publishing channels. If you have the means, build alternative platforms free of the thought police.
I don't expect people over a certain age to understand the gravity of the situation. But for anyone who's watched childhood promises of prosperity, an even playing field where success depends on merit, or even basic survival evaporate, trust your eyes. We are at war because war is being made on us. No one's shooting yet, but our liberties and livelihoods are under attack by history's most powerful cabal of lawless tyrants.

Worst of all, our forebears let the establishment have this unprecedented power over us. Our parents, professors, pastors, and politicians gave up the Western culture that was our inheritance without a fight. Mostly because they didn't want to look "hypocritical" or "intolerant".

Dislike Milo if you want. You're entitled to your opinion, and I'm not here to police anyone's thoughts.

But if you act on misinformed opinions by joining the establishment's witch hunt against Milo--or any other outspoken critic of the mainstream media's campaign to quash everyone's right to free thought--you make yourself a willing pawn of billion dollar corporations who want to see you enslaved or dead.

You say you're protecting our side from hypocrisy and moral turpitude? I say you're just virtue-signaling. It doesn't make sense to fret about the sniper who might be hiding in the hills when you're surrounded by conspirators who are currently stabbing you to death.

Let's get our priorities straight.

@BrianNiemeier