An Honest Look At My Relationship With Writing

I think it’s safe to say that most writers remember the first time they touched lead or ink to paper with intent to tell a story, not for homework, but for personal reasons.  Be it a journal or a story to pass the time during Saturday detention, the exciting realization of giving your thoughts and feelings a more tangible playground can be an addicting new experience.

For me, it started when I saw the movie “Stand By Me.”  I began to think of the adventures my friends and I could go on.  It would lead me to write a story of the 5 of us being spies sent to our high school to take down murderous power hungry teachers.

It was as terrible as it sounds.

From there it was sophomoric philosophy, poetry, lyrics… all of which have never seen the light of day.  Writing became a way to express myself, as is most often the case, but it came with a catch.  Once the idea began to manifest, I found the birth of my creation so satisfying that I would set it aside, and sadly, forget all about it.

After my divorce, I decided to attempt my first novel.  With uncharted thoughts and emotions, writing is how I made sense of them.  My main character was a struggling writer who, after a divorce, attempted to find his voice through his writing.  5 chapters in and I had a fleshed out, insecure, bad decision making main character, and I began to understand my life a bit more.  I clicked “save” and closed the file, never to open it back up.

 

There is a common piece of advice out there.  “Write what you know.”  I think that’s great for many writers.  It’s how you imbue a story with truth, but for me it turned into a therapy session that, though extremely beneficial, killed my drive.  It was only once I had a thought about a story idea that wouldn’t leave me alone, that I began to put forth the immense effort to make it a reality.  Like a baby, my story woke me up in the middle of the night to take notes on fleeting ideas that risked becoming lost in the ether of sleep.  It required care and unrelenting attention until I now find myself here.

The comic book I’m writing is now two volumes deep into the 1st rough draft, and two issues into the 2nd script draft.  Every step I take to putting my words out there for others to read, the stronger my desire to finish the story becomes.  It would seem to me that my relationship with writing is not unlike my relationship with love.  When I was young, I was terrible at it.  As I got older, I was better, but wasn’t taking it seriously.  As an adult currently in love with a woman who reinvented my idea of love, I realize that writing is just as complicated to figure out.  However, as long as you are honest, work hard, and continue to grow,  a completed story can be a beautiful thing to it’s author.

 

Don’t forget to follow me on twitter! @m0nkeyfire

How to Use Twitter for Marketing Your Book

This is a fairly obvious step if, when you finish writing, you actually want people to find and purchase your book.  When I first set out to create a comic book, I knew I’d have to cozy up to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and the rest, but how to use these resources to the fullest of their capabilities was still a mystery to me.  So let’s dive right in.

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Now, I’m going to start with Twitter.  It’s the one I’ve become most familiar with since I’ve started connecting with other authors and writers.  I already know when my comic book becomes purchasable, I need as many people to know about it as possible.  So, I jumped on twitter.  Here are some important things to consider when utilizing twitter to gain a loyal following.

  1. Do not follow everyone and their moms:  There are apps that will find and follow thousands of people and then automatically unfriend the ones that didn’t follow you back.  While this will inflate your “followers” number, it’s counter productive if you have a specific niche you’re trying to reach.  For me and my purposes I choose to follow anyone who follows me, but is not an obvious bot looking to use me to inflate someone else’s numbers.  After a week or so I have almost 100 followers who are all interested in comic books or writing.  I’ve also begun following resources that will help me down the line, like different publishing companies and people creating content to help me research my own path.
  2. LISTS, LISTS, LISTS:  This is a great option given by Twitter to clean up your twitter feed.  Even though I have almost 100 followers, i’m also following almost 100 people.  My feed is constantly filled and unorganized and almost impossible to keep up with.  By creating lists I was able to decide which feed I wanted to look at.  I have a list for publishers, artists, comic book fans, family, friends and a few others.  Now I have an organized way of looking at specific feeds.  An added bonus:  People on twitter love being a part of lists.  If I want to follow more comic book fans, I can search for a list someone created and instantly have hundreds, if not thousands, of potential readers for my comic book when it becomes available.
  3. Be Active: This is probably the most important rule of twitter.  As time consuming as it may be, you have to actively engage EVERYONE.  The people you follow, the people that follow you, and even people who aren’t following you yet.  This means you have to like and retweet posts from the people you follow, show them that you are invested in helping them spread their reach.  In your own posts, use Hashtags (#) to reach the people you want.  I routinely add #comicbooks #writing #comics etc… to all of my posts.  Hashtags are like breadcrumbs leading potential followers to your candy house where you can get them in your oven.

 

Follow these tips, and get familiar with what successful twitter users in your industry are doing and before you know it you’ll have enough people ready and waiting for your masterpiece to be available.  However, the biggest draw to your twitter will be the content you create so get to writing and give your followers something to sink their teeth into and share with friends.

 Do you have any Twitter Tips?  Comment below!

As always, follow me on Twitter @m0nkeyfire for tips and updates.

 

So, you want to be a writer? Let’s Begin…

STEP 1)  Are you sure?

Be it a comic book, novel, short story or any other written word medium, writing is a time sucking, perfection obsessing, never ending labor of love.  So consider just how much time, effort and money you are willing to put in to being successful, because you’ll need to double that just to keep your head above water.

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What’s that?  You still want to be a writer?  Well OK then, you crazy bastard.  Moving on!

 

STEP 2) It’s time to figure out what to write about.

I myself am a fan of the Superhero and Zombie genres so I decided to mash those potatoes up and drizzle it with some of  my brain gravy. Maybe you want to write a story about you and your friends coming of age.  Maybe you want to write science fiction and have characters exploring the stars and odd planets with giant sentient xenophobic potatoes for them to meet.  It doesn’t really matter.  A good rule of thumb for your idea is to tell a story you would want to read.  With nearly 8 billion people on this planet, Chances are there will be other people just as weird as you who will be into it too.

Things to consider:  Learn all about this universe bubbling to existence within your head.  What is this place like and what kinds of things do people in this universe of yours have to encounter day to day?  You’ll probably have characters too, so what are they all about?  The more familiar you are with your characters’ history and their surroundings, the easier it will be to come up with realistic behaviors and character development events within your story.  After you have the Time/Place/People figured out, it’s time for the fun stuff.  What kind of journey will your characters go on?  Who will they meet?  What events happen to push them and the story to it’s inevitable end?  I like to figure out a general timeline of events before I start writing, but there’s an upside to writing as you go.  Especially for your 1st rough draft.  Turn your inner critic off and let your fingers fly.  You can always fine tune it later.

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STEP 3)  Alright, So you’ve come up with the perfect story to tell.

Heroic characters battling personal (perhaps even real) demons and whatnot. You’ve even sat your butt in a chair long enough to bang out a beginning middle and end for your 1st rough draft, albeit at the expense of your butt cheeks going numb. It’s  now time to wake that critic up and put it to work.  For your 2nd draft, ignore punctuation and grammar (if you can) and focus on the story.  Does it flow well?  Are there slow spots that could use some excitement?  Maybe you notice a character acting in a way that is, well… out of character.  Check for story continuity and possible improvements and changes to make your story shine.  It’s the second draft that you should start handing out to those you trust to give you honest feed back.  Think of it like having a team of beta testers.  Letting people read your story for the first time can be nerve-racking, but it’s important to let people who are unfamiliar with your story take a look.  Most likely they’ll notice something you didn’t and you can incorporate their advice into the 3rd draft.  

The 3rd draft is usually the last.  Find those spelling errors and fill in those plot holes pointed out by your beta testers (or have a professional editor do it for you) and BOOM!  Congratulations!  You have yourself a finished story.

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Now, depending on what you are writing, the next step can vary wildly.  I’ll try to bust my potatoes to get some more articles up to cover the subsequent steps for your perusal, but if I haven’t covered something you are curious about, let me know.  I’m here to feed your need to dive head first into the challenge of becoming a writer.

  • Still have questions regarding the writing process?  Reach out to me!  I’ll share any insight I can, so find me on twitter @m0nkeyfire
  • Future topics will include marketing, publishing, finding an artist and more!  Have an idea for a “How To Comic” blog topic?  Send it to me at m0nkeyfire@aol.com and I’ll research the crap out of it.