The pain of revision.

By David Joel Miller, Writer.

After the writing comes the revision.

Cover for planned accidents book

Planned Accidents cover

As some of you are aware, I spent the month of November participating in the NaNoWriMo (the National Novel Writing Month) contest. This event is the fourth time I have attempted this and the third time I have succeeded in completing a first draft of a novel in one month.

Participating in the contest has taught me a great deal about writing a novel. What I’m struggling with now, even more than writing a novel, is the process of revision, trying to turn that first rough draft into something worth publishing. I would like to share with you some of the challenges I’m experiencing in revision, but first a little background.

Casino Robbery started the Arthur Mitchell mysteries series.

Planned Accidents is the second in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series. Arthur’s adventures began in the book Casino Robbery. After the financial crisis in 2008 Arthur Mitchell, accountant, gave up working at Fantastic Finance to take what he thought would be a safe and stable job working as an accountant for a Las Vegas casino. Arthur was trying to avoid anything risky. What Arthur hadn’t expected was to be in the middle of taking his fiancée to lunch when the casino was robbed. During the robbery, the criminals shot Arthur and killed his fiancée.

Because of the robbery, Arthur developed a severe case of PTSD. Unable to return to work Arthur opened a small thrift and collectible store on a rural Highway between Las Vegas and Utah. Unfortunately for Arthur, it turned out that as being shot wasn’t accidental, someone had wanted him dead, and he was pulled into investigating the robbery. Arthur became both an amateur and an accidental sleuth.

Planning Accidents turned into Planned Accidents.

Arthur has settled into running his thrift store, thinking the danger is behind him, when someone begins contacting the former employees at Fantastic Finance demanding money. First one and then another of Arthur’s former colleagues dies in mysterious accidents. At least that’s what the police think they are. Arthur’s not so sure any of this is accidental.

I started this novel with the working title Planning Accidents. What I found, as I wrote was that talking too much about planning the accidents took the focus off my hero Arthur and started me writing more about the people who could be planning these accidents. To shift the focus back on to Arthur and how he is drawn into investigating these supposed accidents, I’ve decided to change the title to Planned Accidents.

My first draft ended up with a lot of loose threads.

As I began my revision in January, I discovered I had included a lot of events that had nothing to do with Planned Accidents. Several times in the first draft I had Arthur buy some limited-edition lithographs. When Arthur inspects the lithographs, he discovers he has two copies of the same piece of art both with the same serial number. Somebody has been counterfeiting works of art and selling them directly to collectors. Once Arthur purchases the art from those collectors, the fraud becomes apparent.

Of course, the counterfeiters don’t want to be caught, and they make life extremely dangerous for Arthur Mitchell, as in they try to kill him. Once I realized this whole subplot had nothing to do with the Planned Accidents I pulled out the discovery of the duplicate lithographs and left that for Arthur to encounter in mystery number three or maybe even number four.

What do I do with the letters from the dead person?

One of the lots Arthur buys at an estate sale includes a bunch of letters an elderly lady had written to a police detective which were returned to her unopened. The author of the letters wrote to the detective describing a murder she had witnessed. Again, I discovered I had another crime for Arthur to investigate but trying to send him in that direction while he is trying to avoid being killed by someone who is planning his accidental death just mucked up the plot a little much. I pulled out all the material about the discovery of the letters from the witness, and I’ll save that for another Arthur Mitchell mystery. Once I get Planned Accidents finished, I think I want to start on this mystery, currently with the working title of “Letters from the Dead.” I think once we start opening the letters we will find the elderly lady witnessed more than one shocking crime.

Does this book need another page of description?

In the revision process, I struggle to decide whether I have written too much description or when there are insufficient details. I read a lot of other fiction, particularly in the amateur sleuth category. Occasionally I’m impressed by some extraordinarily brilliant description which produces a vivid image in my brain. More often though, when I reach long passages of description, I find myself speeding up, skimming over the description.

I am starting to feel like description, at least in an amateur sleuth mystery, is like spices in a stew. A little bit of spice, especially chili powder, can enhance the dish. But I don’t want my novel to resemble my stew, the time I accidentally dumped in a whole jar of chili powder.

I have an idea. If any of you readers would like to read draft two of “Planned Accidents” sign up for my mailing list or use the contact form and when it’s ready, I’ll send you an advanced reviewer copy of “Planned Accidents” and you can tell me if I’ve included too much or too little description. Of course, other feedback would be helpful also.

Does that dog ever do anything?

Something else I have been fixing as I’m working on draft number two is sorting out the role of Arthur’s dog Plutus. Plutus was important in the Casino Robbery book because he had belonged to Arthur’s fiancé’s Janet. In this mystery number two, Plutus kept turning up in various chapters but not doing much. As I revised, it became plain that Plutus unquestionably has a part to play in this story. Since Plutus helped Arthur solve the first mystery, I think I should put him to work helping to solve mystery number two and beyond.

There are some early thoughts about my revision project. I’ll share more with you in the future.

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, Barnes & Noble, 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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Why are you writing that?

By David Joel Miller, MS, Writer.

The why changes the way you write.

Writing.

Writing.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Writing is an awesome skill. The ability to write allows us to save information for later use and it enables us to transmit that information to someone in a distant place. Writing also gives us access to the thoughts and expressions of people were no longer with us. Writing is such a useful human skill that the meaning of “writing” has expanded well beyond the use of paper and pen.

Writing also implies a related skill, which we generically call “reading.” Today under the category of writing we include alternative recording methods such as typing and dictating. Reading also includes listening to audio “books.” The boundary between writing words and delivering messages through video content is becoming less distinct.

Writing can play a great many roles in your day. What you write can be utilitarian, the recording of information and data. What you write can be very personal or can be designed to inform or entertain people you will never meet.

Creative people often explore a variety of mediums searching to find the best method to express whatever it is they are seeking to communicate. Both the process and the techniques they use change depending on the piece that they are writing. Here are some of the reasons a person might be writing and how that purpose would affect the process.

Utilitarian writing needs the facts.

Utilitarian writing might be anything from making out a grocery list to recording the instructions for assembling a table. If it’s written just for you, there will be a minimum of elaboration, and you may use terms that have personal meaning. Your grocery list might include the notation “lasagna fixings” if you are planning to cook dinner, or it might say “pasta isle” if you are restocking shelves in a grocery store.

Writing can be for personal exploration.

In mental health and recovery, people are encouraged to write about their thoughts and feelings, a process often described as journaling. Personal writing can be an opportunity to write about things you don’t want other people to know. Writing your thoughts and feelings can help you sort out what’s going on. If you Journal over an extended period and then go back and look at your earlier writings, you can often see how your emotional states and your plans have changed over time.

Writing to express strong feelings.

Poetry is an especially useful medium to explore intense feelings. Poets spend a lot of time in a relatively short work, searching for precisely the right word to convey a meaning. Poetry is often included in high school English classes the most people don’t consciously read poetry after high school. I’m sure there are some exceptions, but most published collections of poems reach an extremely limited audience.

The principal use for poetic techniques these days is to marry the poem to music. The great modern poets have been mainly songwriters. The more commercial use of poetry has been the writing of commercial jingles.

You are writing because you have a story to tell.

Good writing tells the story. Fiction storytelling includes short stories, novellas, the novel, and epic stories. In the short attention span digital age the trend seems to be towards the novella and shorter length novels. Short stories used to be popular in magazines. In the digital age, those short stories attempt to find new homes on the Internet. Electronic publishing and the proliferation of video materials have expanded the opportunities for telling stories in new ways.

Storytelling is not limited to fiction. Nonfiction books, particularly creative nonfiction, either tell a story or may use those stories to illustrate the points the author is trying to make. Traditional non-fiction stories include history, biography, and military genre.

Writing is a part of your creativity.

The drive to be creative underlies a lot of human effort. Some people primarily express themselves visually, and others do their art verbally. Some creative people like to try their hand variety of mediums. If you’ve done a lot of original work in one field, you may want to write a book about those creative endeavors.

You are writing because you’d like to make some money.

Most creative people hope to make some money from their efforts. In a capitalist society, the primary way we measure the value of things is by how much people are willing to pay for it. Many writers goal is to be able to make enough from the writing to be able to quit their day jobs and write full-time. Many people work day jobs, so they can make enough money to support themselves doing their writing.

There’s nothing wrong with writing what people want to read. Popular writing, the writing that sells a lot of copies of a book, must also be good writing. If you are writing with the idea of becoming rich, you will probably be disappointed. Monetary results are the result of both the writing and the marketing functions.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you need to suffer for your art. Jeff Goins has written an intriguing book titled Real Artists Don’t Starve. These days many indie writers are earning good incomes from their writing and related activities.

These are some of the reasons why you may feel the urge to write. I feel sure there are other reasons some of you are writing. One reason is not necessarily better than another. As a writer, you may be writing for multiple purposes and writing different pieces for different reasons. What is critical, I believe, is that each time you set out to write something you get clear on why you are writing this particular piece.

This piece was inspired by a question/comment from a reader. Thanks for that inspiration. If you enjoyed this piece, please leave a comment. If you have a question for me, you can ask it through the comment form or use the contact me form. Thanks for reading and I wishing you the happiest life possible.

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, Barnes & Noble, 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.

How do you create character names?

By David Joel Miller, MS, Writer.

Creating effective character names can be a challenge.

Man writing.

Writing.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

I struggle with the process of naming the characters in my novels. Because of those struggles, I have discovered a few tricks. Like most every aspiring writer, I was a reader first. Recently I’ve been doing a great deal of reading out loud to my family. In doing all this reading, I discovered that the way some authors name their characters create problems. First, let me tell you the things I try to avoid doing when naming characters and my solutions to these problems. At the end of this post, I will list a few resources that I use to create character names.

Don’t use character names that will confuse your readers.

I get very frustrated when I’m reading a book, and there is a group of characters who appear in a scene who all have exceedingly similar names. It’s very unclear to read about Betty, Barbara, Becky, and Bethany who meet a group of men named Daniel, Danny, Doug, and David. It takes the reader a while to get characters straight in their head. I try to avoid having two characters in the same novel whose names start with the same letter. When working on a novel I keep an alphabetical list of the characters, and I avoid multiple names which begin with the same letter.

Recently, during November, I began a first draft of a new novel scheduled to be published in the spring, which I’m titling “Planned Accidents.” This book will be episode two of the Arthur Mitchell Mysteries. Book one was Casino Robbery. I quickly discovered I had created two characters both named Howard, one in each book. Howard number two had to be renamed so that I don’t confuse readers who have read book one. I’m now convinced that I need to maintain a master list of characters for all the novels in a given series.

Avoid names that are gender confused.

Some names can either a male or a female. I’ve noticed a disturbing trend among some authors to use nicknames that shorten the character’s name. The protagonist’s name is Rhonda, but on the next page, people are talking about Ron. Ron is dating Dan though I can’t tell from the context if Dan is short for Daniel or Daniela.

Avoid names that readily call up a particular image.

Watch out for creating a bridge playing protagonist named Donald and then having to write a paragraph in which Donald bids both trumps and no trumps. Calling a boy wizard Harry Porter is a terrible idea. While it may feel like a shortcut to use a name that readily conjures up the image you’re looking for, using these kinds of names create inauthentic, cardboard characters.

Avoid names that sound too much like a real person.

Whenever I write a villain for a novel, after creating their name, I do a quick web search. I don’t know that I’ll catch every problem, but I don’t want to write an evil villain and accidentally use the name of a candidate who is currently running for political office. I also avoid names that are too close to recognizable historical figures or sports figures.

Avoid racial and ethnic stereotypes.

Have you’ve ever picked up a spy novel and noticed that all the characters have either German or Russian names? Do all the stories about organized crime appear to be filled with Italian surnames?

Avoid names that are hard to pronounce.

In this millennium a great many people are doing their “reading” by listening to audiobooks. I discovered from my family’s nightly reading aloud session, that some names look great on the page, easy to recognize. But it’s very frustrating to keep encountering words that are difficult to pronounce. I think writers should consider what their characters names will sound like when spoken aloud when choosing those names.

So, what are the solutions to all these naming problems?

  1. Maintain a master list of characters for your novel or series and don’t repeat similar sounding names.
  2. I often create the name first and then write the description and biography of that person. If you’ve already cast the character, it can be challenging to find the name that fits them.
  3. If you create a new name, do a web search to make sure you haven’t selected the name of a prominent person in some other country. Also, avoid creating names that have a negative meaning in some language you are not familiar with.

To create names, I use several sources.

Behind the name is helpful for finding first names. You can look at lists by gender, ethnic origin or merely browse the complete list, looking for a name that appeals to you. I’m currently working on an outline for a fantasy book, my first try at writing fantasy because the characters will have connections with medieval Europe I’m looking at various Old English and Scandinavian names for my characters.

For last names, I use a related website Surnames; behind the name.

Another useful resource comes from the census department. You can look at the top first names by the decade of birth. Here’s the link to the list of the top names from the 1880s.

Sometimes I mashed names up.

In the past, surnames were often created by taking the father’s first name and adding an ending. I created unique new names for some of my characters, by taking the first name from one ethnicity and combining it with an ending from a different nationality. Back in the 1970s a lot of parents were creating unique names for their children by altering the spelling or combining two first names. I do the same thing for some of my characters last names.

Any other ideas on how to create the perfect name for a fictional character?

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, Barnes & Noble, 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.

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, Barnes & Noble, 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 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.