The Muse Doesn’t Nag.

By David Joel Miller, MS, Writer.

You must grab the ideas while they fly past.

I don’t understand the term writer’s block.

Man writing.

Writing.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

I’ve read many blog posts, even some passages in books on writing, where the author describes sitting at the keyboard waiting for the Muse to say something. My problem is not that the Muse refuses to talk to me. My problem is she never shuts up. Sometimes she whispers in my ear, and sometimes she shouts. My biggest challenge in learning to write has been learning to listen to her carefully.

I have pages of notes about the things the Muse says.

Every time I sit quietly for a few minutes, the Muse starts talking. You should write a blog post about loneliness, jealousy or anger. She goes on and on about the posts I should write. Sometimes the Muse starts to tell me a story about a character who went to this city and got this kind of job and then something else happened. Then she hints that this would be an excellent topic for a novel. If I let these words of wisdom sit too long, they evaporate faster than a light rain on the parking lot during a desert summer.

Most times I hear the Muse speak, not every time, but most of the time, I open a word document, type in the title of this great work, and save it to my projects-to-work-on file. The problem comes the next time I open the file. There’s the title or the idea, but I don’t remember what it was the Muse was talking about.

I studied what others have said about communicating with their Muse.

One source reported they didn’t believe in writer’s block. The rationale was that writing is a profession and professions don’t get blocked. You don’t hear about truckers complaining about trucker’s block or doctors having doctor’s block. I get that idea, but sometimes when I get behind the keyboard and take off for a trip, I end up going down the wrong highway and getting lost.

Another source said the Muse once told her a story.

This writer, I have forgotten who it was, maybe one of you can fill in the source here. Anyway, this writer told the story of the Muse presenting her with an idea, but she never got around to writing the book. Years later, at a conference, this writer ended up on a panel and, lo and behold, someone else on that panel had written that book.

I have this experience a lot. I open a partially done article but can’t remember what the Muse told me to write here. I close that piece up and work on a different one. Frequently what happens is in the next day’s email I find a post written by someone else about precisely that topic.

My muse doesn’t like to repeat herself.

What I’ve learned from this is that when the idea enters my brain, however, you conceptualize the origin of that idea, I had better act. Once the idea is upon me if I don’t get to writing that article or book in a speedy time frame, that idea begins to fade. Eventually, the idea becomes so faint that even my partially completed document won’t bring it back.

Sometimes the Muse babbles.

Occasionally I’m sitting in my chair trying to relax, perhaps trying to finish one of those half-read books, and then out of nowhere the Muse suddenly starts yakking, and she won’t stop. Occasionally I try to ignore her, but as most men my age will tell you, ignore a woman at the risk of imperiling your life.

I hastily try to scribble down as many of the things as I can from the Muses to do list, knowing I will never be able to write all her directives down and even if I did she was talking so fast I wouldn’t be sure what she meant by some of the things she said.

I suppose if you must have a problem with your Muse is better to have one who talks constantly than one who gives you the cold shoulder.

Thanks for listening to me yet one more time.

You’ll find more posts on this topic under – Writing.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Three David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

SasquatchWandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive? The guests had come to Meditation Mountain to find themselves. Trapped in the Menhirs during a sudden desert storm, two guests move through a porthole in time and encounter long extinct monsters. They want to get back to their own time, but the Sasquatch intends to kill them.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Books are now available on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, and many other online stores.

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

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Lessons from NaNoWriMo.

By David Joel Miller, MS, Writer.

You can learn a lot from making the effort.

Man writing.

Writing.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

This is the third year in a row that I’ve written a novel during November. Before that, I had tried to write several books, but they never reached “the end.” Each of these attempts has taught me valuable lessons about writing a novel and about myself. One of the things I learned is how much more I have to learn. Writing, like every other skill, needs both knowledge and practice.

Last week I shared a post about how as I get closer to the end of a writing project the more resistance gets in my way and the harder it is to finish that project. This week I wanted to share with you some of the other lessons I’ve learned because of participating in the NaNoWriMo contest.

Having a deadline keeps you moving forward.

In the past, I’ve started lots of projects which are still residing somewhere in electronic storage. One by one each of these ideas languished as the next shiny idea distracted me. Almost every time I have set a deadline to finish a project, the result has been a completed project.

The exception to meeting my deadlines? Those times I set unrealistically high goals. On an extremely productive writing day I may be able to write 3000 to 4000 words, once I even wrote 8000 words, but planning to write a 50,000-word novel in 10 days by writing 5000 words per day is both unrealistic and undoable for me.

During NaNoWriMo, I stuck to the goal of writing on average 1667 words per day. That occasional high-number-of-words day made up for those days when I simply couldn’t find the time or inspiration to write more than 200 to 300 words. Setting an unrealistic goal for me is a way of sabotaging the project. Setting a doable goal kept me moving forward.

Repeated small efforts add up.

During November, I had several days off from my other work activities. I had counted on writing a large number of words each of those days. That didn’t always happen. Driven by the pressure of a deadline I tried to write something, anything, each day. There were even days when I wrote less than 100 words.

Writing something every day was like drops going into a bucket. While several days output may have been less than I wanted, doing something each day kept my bucket filling and my goal in sight.

Having a story blueprint kept my process moving.

I’ve tried both outlining and going by the seat of my pants. Neither of these approaches was the full answer for me. What has worked best for me is to think through the story and create a list of the scenes that will make up the story. I started this book with an outline at the scene level but for many scenes nothing beyond the basic idea for that section.

For some of these scenes, I had several paragraphs of ideas. For others, I had a single sentence. Each day I sat down and wrote at least one scene. Some of the scenes were well thought out in advance while others I had to “right into the dark.”

After each scene, I looked back at my scene list to see what was coming up next. Almost every time, what I had written in one scene resulted in my revising my “outline.”

There’s a lot more to do after you type “the end.”

Trying to write a perfect first draft resulted in a lot of opening chapters that went nowhere. For me, there’s no such thing as writing a great first draft. In the first draft, I get the story down. But after that first draft, there’s going to be a lot of editing and polishing before I can publish this book. I’ve learned to accept that writing a publishable book takes me a lot of hours.

In writing from start to finish something suffered. Having written the first draft in one month, I discovered certain things were left out. While I think I have the framework of the story, the finishing touches are missing.

I’ve already gone through the manuscript briefly correcting a lot of typing, spelling, and grammar errors. But I discovered that what I had left out were descriptions. In places, I just say my protagonist walked up to the house. What I haven’t said is very much about the house they are approaching.

Another thing that happens when I write the way I would tell a story verbally is that I have certain words I use repeatedly. Polishing the language is something best left for subsequent drafts.

Before this book gets published, I will need to do not only editing but all the tasks of publishing. There’s a cover to create. A manuscript to format. Blurbs to write. And a great many other tasks associated with publishing and marketing the book.

Having too many priorities means nothing gets done.

Looking back over this last year, I’ve been working on a lot of projects. The consequence of having many “priorities” was that I completed very few of these projects. Every time I have picked one major priority and put a large share of my efforts into that project, I have been able to complete it.

A prime example of selecting one project and focusing on it is the three books listed below. Each of these books was started a long time ago, and each was finished when I finally decided to make them my top priority and set a final date for completion.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Three David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

SasquatchWandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive? The guests had come to Meditation Mountain to find themselves. Trapped in the Menhirs during a sudden desert storm, two guests move through a porthole in time and encounter long extinct monsters. They want to get back to their own time, but the Sasquatch intends to kill them.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Books are now available on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Google Play and many other online stores.

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

The closer you get to the finish line the harder it gets.

By David Joel Miller, MS, Writer.

Resistance takes its toll on writing.

Man writing.

Writing.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Every project starts out with high hopes and expectations. It seems to be some perverse law of nature that the longer you work on something, the harder it gets. A lot of people start their project, begin their novel, plan their business venture, maybe they make a start on the project, but it just never gets finished.

It feels as if the burden you carry gets heavier the more work you’ve done on the project. Some of you know I been participating in the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) contest again this year. This year is the fourth time I tried to write a novel of 50,000 words or more during November. As the month progresses I find it harder and harder to write. Some of you may have noticed that I missed last Wednesday’s blog post on my writing adventures. I’ll try to make that up to you regular readers during December and throughout the new year.

Since I began writing counselorssoapbox.com blog on a regular basis, I’ve completed almost 1500 blog posts. I have also written probably ten novels or more, but just couldn’t get them completed and published. The first time I tried to write a novel in November, I couldn’t finish the book.

My NaNoWriMo experience.

Finally, in late 2017 my first two books, Bumps on the Road of Life a nonfiction book about recovering from life’s setbacks and Casino Robbery my first novel in the Arthur Mitchell Mystery series was published. Casino Robbery was written for the 2016 NaNoWriMo contest.

My 2017 NaNoWriMo effort, a book titled Family Secrets is in the editing stage, and I hope to publish it shortly.

This year’s effort a book titled “Planned Accidents” is in its final pages. I put that working title quotations. When I first started the title was “Planning Accidents.” I’ve learned over the years of writing novels that the title which sounded perfect when I started doesn’t fit the book when I finish it. The book published under the title Casino Robbery started out with a working title “Thrift Store.”

Am I going to finish another novel this year?

One reason I’m telling you all about this is that with only a couple of days to go I’m finding it harder and harder to finish the book. At the beginning of November, I was having some 2000 to 4000-word days. In the start, even my slow days were 700 or 800 words. As we approach the final deadline, I’ve had three days of writing 300 words day or less.

One reason I’m throwing this out there to all of you at this point is that by confessing this publicly, it’s going to force me to finish this book before the end of November. If I don’t, I will have to spend the next year listening to people asked me why I didn’t finish my 2018 NaNoWriMo novel.

Resistance tries to prevent you from succeeding.

Resistance takes many forms. Life gets busy, and there are things I absolutely, positively must do. Or at least I tell myself I need to do them. Things I neglected doing all year, suddenly take on new necessity just as I’m getting close to finishing my novel.

Another way resistance manifests itself as the next shiny idea. While I’m writing the second Arthur Mitchell Mystery ideas for the third and fourth in the series have appeared. Not only is my Muse tempting me with two other Arthur Mitchell Mysteries that need writing, but she’s also yelling loudly in my ear that both of these ideas will make better books than the one I’m working on now.

I think Resistance and my Muse are in league. When the Muse first started telling me about the ideas for two more Arthur Mitchell Mysteries I hurriedly scribbled them down and went back to work on this year’s novel, “Planned Accidents.”

As if Resistance hadn’t come up with enough ways to stop the progress of “Planned Accidents” the Muse has begun to torment me the last few days with a fabulous idea for an entirely new series. I won’t tell you the new series idea now as I don’t want to get committed to having to write that series, at least not yet anyway. What I will say is that the Muse tells me I need to abandon my current project and immediately began researching the idea for my next fabulous series.

Despite Resistance’s efforts to prevent my completed this novel I continue to plod forward even though the pace has slowed, and the writing has become more difficult.

Stay tuned. Sometime between Friday, 3 November and next Wednesday, December 5, there will be another blog post, and I’ll let you know my final word count and whether the novel made it across the 50,000-word finish line and is now a candidate for revision and editing.

Whatever you’re working on for 2018, don’t let Resistance stop you from reaching your goal. Are there some projects you should finish in 2018 to clear the slate for your new adventures in 2019?

You’ll find more posts on this topic under – Writing.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time. The newsletter started out to talk about mental health issues. I recently added some other categories. In addition to mental health, you can also sign up for newsletter updates about writing and my novels. You can sign up for any one of these lists or all 3.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

The one absolute rule for writing a book.

By David Joel Miller, MS, Writer.

It’s not a book till you type “The End.”

Man writing.

Writing.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

The process of writing a book is a lot like running a marathon. Beginning runners spend a lot of time training. Lots of people talk about someday running a marathon, but the number of people who finish one is much smaller. An immense quantity of manuscripts never become books.

No matter what you are telling yourself, that thing you’re calling your book, it will never be a book until you get done writing it. I know this firsthand. Stored away in my digital attic are scads of unfinished manuscripts. So far none of them have turned into books. They never will unless I take that big step and finish them. No matter what you have been told, the essential step in writing a book is starting at the beginning and writing all the way to the end. Do whatever you have to do to reach the end.

There are lots of abandon partial books in drawers.

Everyone who aspires to become a writer probably has many writing projects sitting in drawers or in digital storage. For some of those manuscripts that’s a good thing. If a writing project doesn’t work out, you may be better off abandoning it.

There’s a world of difference between writing and being a writer. Writers finish things. In my mind, I also distinguish writers and authors. Authors send their works out into the world like children who, for better or worse, have grown up and need to make it on their own. Authors publish what they write.

I made the transition from writer to author when I push that publish button for my first blog post. It has given me a great deal of enjoyment to see three of my books so far released. I elected to self-publish. Eventually, I want to write about my decision to become an indie author rather than submit my books to a traditional legacy publisher.

It’s possible my writing would have gotten better by taking the time to learn to submit to traditional publishers and go through that process. The best part about the indie route is I got to physically hold my book in my hand, rather than wonder if my descendants will get to do that after I’m gone.

Being perfect is the enemy of a finished book.

Trying to make something perfect can get in the way of ever finishing the project. Every semester I assign my students the task of writing a paper. As beginning students, I don’t expect any of these papers to be masterpieces, though some are remarkably well done. Unfortunately, each semester some students keep revising their papers but never turn them in. A few students turn them in late, and others don’t turn them in at all. Most of them would’ve gotten better grades if they had turned their report in on time, perfect or not.

It’s possible that the books I’ve written would’ve been better had I rewritten them several more times, but the risk was that I would never move on and begin work on the next book. So far, those people who have left me reviews have been positive about my efforts.

Even if your book is not perfect, eventually you must send your children out into the world to make it on their own.

It requires more than one date to create a relationship.

When I first started writing, I thought I could produce a passable result the first time. The result was that my early blog posts, written late at night and published immediately, contained a lot more errors than I would’ve liked.

I’ve learned that no matter how happy I am with something I write, it needs to sit for a while and then I need to reread it and make corrections. Occasionally someone falls in love at first sight, that’s usually more lust at first sight, but the odds of a good relationship are a lot better if you get to know the person first. Spending additional time on your writing project makes them better.

That first draft was probably awful.

Each successive book I’ve written has required more drafts. I think that’s a good thing. The first draft, sometimes called the down-draft, is a result of you trying to get the story all down on paper. If you attempt to edit it too much as you write, you’ll never get to the end. You can’t start the second draft until you finish the first. Each successive version should get better. In the second draft, you fix big, glaring problems. Later drafts involve smaller and smaller polishing efforts. Unfortunately, every draft also includes discovering some additional typos and spelling mistakes.

Whatever you’re trying to write, the absolute rule must be, finished that piece you’re working on. Thanks for letting me share a part of my writing journey with you. Next week another segment of my writing experience.

You’ll find more posts on this topic under – Writing.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Three David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

SasquatchWandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive? The guests had come to Meditation Mountain to find themselves. Trapped in the Menhirs during a sudden desert storm, two guests move through a porthole in time and encounter long extinct monsters. They want to get back to their own time, but the Sasquatch intends to kill them.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Books are now available on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, and many other online stores.

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

For your book to live, you must start writing.

By David Joel Miller, MS, Writer.

One obstacle can stop you from writing your book.

Man writing.

Writing.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

The biggest obstacle to the creation of their book most would-be writers face is procrastination.

If you sit and think about your book, talk about how someday you’re going to write a book, but never ever take that first step of writing something down, that idea will rattle around in your head and eventually your unborn book will perish.

For your dream to become a book, you must record it.

In every field, there are people with grand dreams. For business people, it’s the business they’re going to start someday. For musicians, it is that song they want to write. For people with financial problems, it is the change they’re going to make eventually but never do. People with an addiction are always telling themselves they will quit someday. For writers, it’s always those ideas floating around in their head that never become a reality.

What stops all these grand visions from becoming a reality is failing to take that first step and transforming those thoughts into something tangible.

Writers must write.

No matter how fabulous your idea for a book is, you will never give birth to that creation until you begin recording your thoughts. The mechanics of how we record thoughts has changed over the millennium. The earliest writings were probably chiseled in the stone, pressed into bricks or painted on ceramics.

For several thousand years now writing meant recording something with a stylist, a pen or pencil, on paper or its equivalent. Today writers have the option of typing on a computer, recording their thoughts on an electronic medium, or dictating, and many other possibilities besides writing directly onto paper.

The one thing that hasn’t changed is that it’s not a writing until someone acts and records what they are thinking.

Writing a book requires a commitment.

Your book begins when you write the first page. It’s possible that your first page will be discarded or revised so much that you will not recognize it. But you can’t write the second page until you’ve written the first.

For me the years of wanting to write produced nothing. What shifted me from wishing to having written, was putting down a date on my calendar when I would begin. This year will be my fourth year entering NaNoWriMo. Making the commitment to start writing on November 1 and to continue to write all the way to the end of November results in substantial progress in transforming my ideas into something written.

What results in the finished work is what happens between the end of November and the following year when I start a new project.

Lots of things get in the way of starting your book.

The list of reasons why you haven’t begun to write yet is almost infinite. We each have excuses we give ourselves for why we haven’t started that book we want to write. While the excuses are many, the solution is singular.

If you want to write or create something else, you must start the process of transforming those ideas in your head into something tangible. Write out your business plan. Draw a sketch of the finished project.

Humans are not born as adults, full-grown and full-sized. It’s not likely that someday you’ll sit down and, in a few hours, type out that book. What is certain is that nothing will happen until you write that first page.

What separates the 10% of people who begin to write a book from the 90% who plan to write a book someday but never do is the simple step of beginning to write.

Is today the day to begin to write your book? Which day on your calendar have you selected as the day that you will start transforming your daydreams into realities?

Today I talked to you about the largest obstacle that prevents potential writers from ever starting that book, next week on my writing Wednesday post, let’s talk about the second obstacle you will face in transforming your idea into a finished book.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Three David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

SasquatchWandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive? The guests had come to Meditation Mountain to find themselves. Trapped in the Menhirs during a sudden desert storm, two guests move through a porthole in time and encounter long extinct monsters. They want to get back to their own time, but the Sasquatch intends to kill them.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Books are now available on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, and many other online stores.

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) starts tomorrow.

By David Joel Miller, MS, Writer.

NaNoWriMo is a way to grow as an author.

Man writing.

Writing.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

The National Novel Writing Month is a mixture of competition and un-competition. During this month aspiring authors attempt to write an entire novel, a novel of at least 50,000 words, during the 30 days of November. That works out to 1667 words per day average. Each participant is competing with themselves to see if they can take an idea and turn it into a finished novel in 30 days. In the spirit of un-competition, anyone who completes their novel is considered a “winner.”

My experiences with NaNoWriMo.

I first heard about NaNoWriMo about 2010. The following year, 2011, I made my first attempt. That ill-fated attempt stalled somewhere around 5000 words. The remnants of that manuscript still reside in the ancient recesses of my computer’s hard drive. While that particular story has not yet emerged into the light of day the lessons learned put me on the path towards becoming a better writer.

For the next few years, life happened. Then in 2016, I took another try at completing a novel in the 30-day time span. This time I was able to complete the project. That book, initially with the working title “thrift store” took two more years to revise and edit before it was published in late 2017. That manuscript spurred by NaNoWriMo grew from the original 50,000 words to over 80,000 and the title shifted to Casino Robbery, my first published novel.

Because of that accomplishment, I pulled out another one of my partially finished novels and earlier this year that manuscript now revised, edited, and retitled, ended up being published as my second novel “Sasquatch.”

In November of 2017 during NaNoWriMo, I started and finished a novel with the working title “Family Secrets.” Over the last year “Family Secrets” has been revised and edited several times. Sometime in the spring of 2019, I hope to publish that novel. It is possible that “Family Secrets” may be the first of my novels to make it through the entire process while retaining its original title.

How did I go about writing 50,000 words in one month?

One of the lessons NaNoWriMo has taught me was the importance of setting deadlines. I have many incomplete books, both fiction and nonfiction, stored away on the hard drive still not finished, some going back 20 years. None of them were ever completed because there was always a busy life and the next shining project getting in the way.

Once I learned to make meeting the deadline my highest priority, at least for that limited period, things started happening. This process has worked for me in writing the first draft, revising, and for finally pushing the publish button. I could have drawn each of these tasks out over more time but having a deadline on my calendar forced me to finish a project so that I could check that one off, and I would be ready to start on another project next month.

October is my time for preparation for NaNoWriMo.

I didn’t want to cheat myself out of the full experience of writing a novel in 30 days. Not that anyone else would’ve known if I had jumped the gun and started writing early, but I would’ve known. So, I don’t begin to write until November 1. What I do allow myself to do before that date is preparation.

The two books that were finished during NaNoWriMo had some similar features. I thought about the general idea, started making some notes, and selected a working title knowing that title might change. I try to prepare an outline, though it is never in any fine detail. As ideas come for events, scenes if you will, I digitally jot them down. As the scene list grows, I rearrange the order.

When I start to write its very likely new ideas will occur to me, and they will get inserted in my list of events wherever they fit. I’m also likely to find that some of the things I initially thought would be separate scenes all get used in a single chapter.

Another thing I try to have planned before November first is a list of the characters, their names, and a brief description of them. If I’m using a specific location, I may do a little research and write some notes on that location. None of this advanced preparation is firm. Once November 1 arrives, everything is subject to change.

So, what am I planning to write for NaNoWriMo this year?

This year’s novel has the working title “Planning Accidents.” It will be the second adventure for Arthur Mitchell, the protagonist from my first novel Casino Robbery. For the first time this year, I created a cover that I can use for the e-book edition of “Planning Accidents.”

If you’ve ever thought about writing a novel, then NaNoWriMo this November, might be just the encouragement you need to get that first draft written. I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments about writing. If you have questions for me, please send them along. I’ll get back to everyone just as quickly as possible, though as you can see for the next month, I am likely to be extremely busy.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Three David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

SasquatchWandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive? The guests had come to Meditation Mountain to find themselves. Trapped in the Menhirs during a sudden desert storm, two guests move through a porthole in time and encounter long extinct monsters. They want to get back to their own time, but the Sasquatch intends to kill them.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Books are now available on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, and many other online stores.

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Do’s and don’ts for moving into your new blog.

By David Joel Miller.

What should you do after you have your blog name and your theme?

Man writing.

Writing.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

In previous posts we talked about selecting a blog name, using a free web name or registering that name to yourself and selecting a theme. If you elected to self-host, you had to learn a lot of technical stuff or hire someone to help you. So what steps you need to take next? A will base this on the steps I took using the wordpress.com site to host my blog.

Hang out a welcome sign.

Most blog themes provide a place for a picture at the top of your site. This picture can be changed, but I discovered it’s worth the effort to select a good picture. For my picture, I used some scenery with the words counselorssoapbox.com overlaid. Some bloggers include a picture of themselves or other artwork. Readers will see this picture over and over, and if you link to social media, this can end up being part of your “brand” another way that readers will identify you.

Create some pages.

For most bloggers the page people will first go to, often called a landing page, will be the page you will use for posting. It’s possible in some themes to use a different page as your landing page.

Other pages you might want to create would be an “about me” or an “about the author” page. On my blog, I also have a “contact me” page for readers to contact me directly rather than leaving a comment. If you have other static content, you can create a page for this. On my private practice website, which runs the same theme as my WordPress.com blog, I also have pages for frequently asked questions and local resources. Remember the more pages you create, the more work you are creating for yourself to maintain those pages.

I wouldn’t recommend creating too many pages for various topics. It’s much easier to sort posts by categories which allows readers to see all the posts you’ve written about a topic in one place.

Enable sharing on your blog.

If you have social media profiles, you can enable sharing so that your post, or at least the headline from it, will automatically be posted to your social media. On my blog, I find that in the menu on the left by clicking on settings, followed by clicking on sharing.

My posts are automatically shared on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and several other sites. I don’t find that these shares automatically result in people viewing my blog, but every little bit helps. Enabling sharing dramatically reduces the time it takes to get the word out about your blog on social media.

Create good headlines for your posts.

Good headlines encourage people to click on your post. Avoid getting too cute. The headline should include a word or words that tell the potential reader what the post is about. Writing headlines is an art. Look at the posts you read for ideas. What made you click on that post? What I found was no one formula for writing headlines works all the time. Don’t automatically use the first headline you think of. I keep a file folder for posts in progress. I start with a title, but by the time I am ready to post this article a better title often suggests itself. Up until you click post you can change the headline.

Learn to use the different heading styles.

I write my posts using Microsoft word. It’s tempting to try to make the piece look attractive by changing fonts and type size. Don’t do that. When you go to copy and paste the article you have written into your blog things can change. Learn to use the headings at the top of the page in word. When you go to paste it, type styles can change but the level of heading, H1, H2, etc. will be preserved.

Headings are used by search engines to help find content that matches what the reader is looking for. Using subheadings correctly makes your post more searchable and may improve its performance on search engines.

Create your post.

Since I create most posts ahead of time, I copy and paste them from my Word document into the blog editor. You can type directly, but that increases the risk of making a mistake. Writing posts is a topic for another day.

Don’t use H1 in the body of your post.

The title of your post will automatically be rendered in the top, H1, setting. Unless your post is exceptionally long having too many H1 will be penalized by search engines. You can’t get more attention by putting everything in bold and caps. That comes across as shouting at your reader, use bold and caps sparingly. This is especially true of marking too many things with an H1 heading style. If you say too many things are important, the search engine will ignore you and rank your post lower or not at all.

Experiment with inserting pictures.

You will probably find this under media. Using one or a few pictures makes your post more interesting. Using too many or too large a picture can interfere with loading on some mobile devices. Increasingly readers are viewing blog posts on their cell phones rather than on computers with large screens.

One way to do your experimenting is to set the post you are working on to publish at a future date. The dashboard on my site is set to publish immediately. To the right of that is the word edit. When I click on that, I can set a post to publish at future date. Once I set that date, I don’t have to worry about accidentally publishing a post for the world to see that is not ready.

Search for pictures you would like to use on sites that offer images for free, licensed under a Creative Commons license. That will avoid copyright issues. Some sites will show you a few free pictures and then also show you pictures you need to pay to use. Most of the pictures I use come from Pixabay.com, and I have been pleased with the pictures. If I can’t find what I’m looking for there, especially for technical pictures, my second go-to site’s Wikimedia Commons.

I discovered pictures can take up a lot of space on my computer. For a while, I was storing them on a flash drive, but that got full. Recently I purchased an external hard drive which allows a lot more space for both pictures and backup files of the things I write.

Besides the blog and books, I write I also create PowerPoint presentations and videos to use in the classes I teach. By saving pictures licensed under Creative Commons, I can reuse those pictures.

When you go to “add media,” you will have the option to upload files or use your media library. Initially, you’ll have to upload everything. Some pictures, like the one I use for my writing posts or the one I use for some of the technical “what is” posts, I reuse repeatedly. Most of the posts need fresh pictures each time. Your media library allows you to find and reuse your pictures.

Once you have selected a picture make sure you go to the right, scroll down, and fill in all the boxes. You will need to insert a caption which will appear on your post. I always put the credit for where I got the picture directly after my title. You can also tell it to place the picture at the left of the text, to the right of the text, or in the middle. Once you click insert into post, it will automatically be placed into your post wherever you left your cursor.

Mark your post for categories and tags.

Categories allow you to lump a group of posts together. I have categories for various mental illnesses, substance abuse, writing and so on. If you know which categories, you will be using, create them ahead of time. You can add new categories at any time.

Tags help search engines find your post. A brief tag like writing probably won’t rank very well and will not bring you many readers. A longer tag like “writing your first blog post” could potentially rank better and bring you more views.

Save your post.

Two possibilities here. You can click “save draft” with a plan to come back and work on this post more. If you feel reasonably happy with the post, you can click publish. If you set a future date, you can now go to your list of posts, click view, and see what it will look like when it finally publishes. If you’re not happy with the appearance, go back to your list of posts and click edit. This will allow you to make changes before the post finally appears.

Excuse the length of this post. Creating blog posts is a skill. There’s a lot more I could have said about this topic. But the important thing is to create your first blog post and learn from the experience. Best wishes on your blogging or other writing, wherever you are in the process. Be sure to leave comments or use the “contact me” form to send me questions. Likes and follows are always appreciated. See you next time as we continue our discussion about the journey of becoming a writer.

You’ll find more posts on this topic under – Writing.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Three David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

Sasquatch.

Wandering through a hole in time they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive? The guests had come to Meditation Mountain to find themselves. Trapped in the Menhirs during a sudden desert storm, two guests move through a porthole in time and encounter long extinct monsters. They want to get back to their own time but the Sasquatch wants to kill them.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Books are now available on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, and many other online stores.

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.