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Entries in Kristine Kathryn Rusch (3)


Q&A, Part II: Online resources essential to the working writer

Nick Fox asks:

Q&A time: Are there any other websites/online resources you consider essential to being a working writer?

Depends how easily distracted a working writer is! For instance, I went just now to my Google Reader replacement, The Old Reader, to see which of the writerly blogs I follow I wanted to mention here, and I saw that Rock, Paper, Shotgun posted a review of a PC version of Space Hulk, which is a board game that seems to have a rabid following and one I suspect I might like...

Damn it. You see? For the easily distracted working writer, the best online resources are probably those that prevent said writer from accessing websites at all: something like Freedom (a Mac app) that prevents you from accessing the internet during a time you specify (there's almost certainly a Windows equivalent). Personally, to train myself to focus more I've been using the Pomodoro Technique I learned about from Ryan Casey's blogfree if you use a timer that's already on your iPod, cell phone, computer, kitchen stove, sundial, etc.

If this working writer is still undeterred, determined to gain inspiration and swears it's not procrastination, I'd say that the Wall Street Journal of the publishing industry today is The Passive Voice. It is biased somewhat toward the self-publishing movement, but once you read a few entries you'll have a hard time finding fault with his logic. It's through The Passive Voice that I discovered many of my other favorite blogs: TERRIBLEMINDSDean Wesley Smith, Kristine Kathryn Rusch... It's a compulsively readable rabbit hole, my friend. I've learned a lot, but I can't tell you with a straight face that any of that time wouldn't have been better spent just writing. I think the authors of all those blogs would agree.

As for online resources, I will recommend this without reservation: Workflowy. It's a web-based to-do list that you can format any way you like and access from any computer with internet access. I use this to get track of everythingstory ideas, web project ideas, rough onlines, idea dumps, freewriting, websites/books I want to check out, even chores (the most-neglected category). It's replaced the tired old notebooks I used to carry with me everywhere. God help me if the site ever goes down...

A writing/organization program I frequently use but wouldn't yet swear by is Scrivener. If you're already someone who will spend too much time planning when you ought to be just diving in, Scrivener will not sing to your better angels. It is made for planning. But it has a lot of great featuresthe ability to rearrange your ideas and chapters on the fly and output the final product in any format you can imagine (docx, pdf, epub, etc.), a character name generator, an easy place to throw all your random research and notes, etc. etc. The website has a trial version so it's worth checking out if your interest is piqued! 

I'm sure I'm forgetting things. Any other websites/online resources I should have listed, intrepid readers?


Banish the perfectionist

From Kristine Kathryn Rusch, some really wonderful words of wisdom about how perfection is the enemy of the good:

Is the story perfect? Of course not. No story is. Not a one. No matter how many times it’s “polished” and “fixed” and “improved.” No one can write a perfect story.

If such a thing existed, then we would all read the same books and enjoy them equally. We would watch the same movies and need reviewers to tell us only which movie is perfect and which one isn’t. We would buy the same comics, again, going only for the comic that is perfect, and ignoring all the others.

Am I telling people to write crap? No. Because the choice isn’t between crap and perfection. Those are false choices.


I also think that writers need to understand that they’re not writing for one editor or agent or for a small subset of people like a critique group. Writers write for readers.

And it’s up to the writer as to how to find those readers. As Sarah Hoyt said in last week’s comments, ask yourself, “How will this book best reach its audience?” The key words here are “book,” “reach,” and “audience.”

Not “How do I impress Editor A?” or “How do I get an agent?” But how does this book best reach its audience?


The question should never ever be, “How do I write the perfect novel?” because the perfect novel or short story or play or article or essay does not exist.

Read the whole essay here.

That you're writing for your readers, not your writerly peers or agent or editor, was a dormant bulb in my head that just blazed to light. If ever you needed permission to write straight from the heart, bypassing your inner critic almost completely, this is it.

Definitely worth a full read if you have time this sunny (at least here in New England) Friday.


An extroverted person in an introverted person's job

From Kristine Kathryn Rusch, extremely profilic indie author/editor:

Most successful writers are introverts. They’re happy spending 99% of their time alone in their own heads. But I’ve met some extroverted writers, and they struggle with the alone time. They write in Starbucks or some local restaurant. They open an office and share it with other like-minded authors.

Mostly, though, they gravitate to writing jobs that require more than one person, like writing for television. There, writers bat ideas around in a writers’ room, sometimes writing while the meeting is going on. Many gaming writers do the same thing, and so do some comic book writers.  Journalists spend more time with people than away from people.

Fiction writers, though, even those who collaborate, do so by themselves.  And some extroverted writers often try that for a few years before it drives them completely batty. Those writers quit writing fiction, and find ways to write that require a group effort.

Read the rest here!

I go back and forth on whether I'm an introvert or an extrovert—it's probably a 40/60 split: an extrovert with introverted tendencies. Or maybe an introvert who's gotten good at playing extrovert.

[Then again, the fact of writing an autobiographical blog probably makes the split more of a 30/70.]

Anyway, I did want to write for television for awhile, and this was exactly why—it's collaborative, and I suspect that I'm a much better collaborative writer than I am an author. (Also, $$.)

But I am very intrigued by the idea of opening an "office" for like-minded writers to come and work. Like a writers' retreat you attend 9am–5pm, Monday–Friday. You could brainstorm with others, take breaks to chat by the water cooler, or just plug in the earbuds and write. There would be occasional workshops for the willing, and of course office parties, because we all know writers can throw down.

Who's in?