Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The ULTIMATE Writing Weapons!

By: Aaron Michael Ritchey

Okay, I’m playing the long game. My writing career is gonna be a long, protracted siege.

It’s pretty clear I’ve lost the short term game. I’m forty-five years old. I’ve been writing for roughly forty-two years, and so yeah, I’m not going to be an overnight success.

I was talking on the phone to my friend, David M. Daniel, and I was pining, gasping, shaking my fist at heaven, and gnashing my teeth in the darkness. I wasn’t where I wanted to be in the writing game. Sure, I’d published three novels, with small presses, but I wanted more. More! More!

He told me, “Aaron, I hear stories about authors going through what you’re going through. And you know what? In the end, they hit it big. You’re just in the crappy part of the story.”
I laughed. I fell to my knees. I stopped gnashing my teeth (gotta take care of your teeth, baby), and so I realized, if I’m in the crappy part of the story, I have to keep going to get to the good part. Which means, I need every weapon I can find to win the war.

So, let’s talk weapons. This blog post isn’t going to be about writing well, or avoiding adverbs, and avoiding “to-be” verbs. I was going to write about that, but then, suddenly, I decided I wasn’t. Smarter people than me can talk craft. However, I’m going to give you serious weapons you can’t live without. Literally.

1)  Find a Good Dentist and Visit Him/Her Often – First of all, with all the teeth-gnashing, you might need crowns. More than that, when you’re rich and famous, you’ll need a winning smile. More than that even, I’ve met people who’ve spent a fortune on their teeth to fix them because they didn’t take dental hygiene seriously. You can use that money for your books. So brush your teeth, floss your teeth, and go to the dentist.

2)  Exercise -- I think it was Laura Resnick, at a Pikes Peak Writers Conference years back, who said that writers are the endurance athletes of the mind. And as athletes, we need to compete. How does one compete most effectively? They train, and the sweat, and they find ways to get as much energy as possible. Exercise gives you energy. Exercise can clear your mind. Exercise will keep you alive long enough to become rich and famous. You need to have mental endurance, but you also need physical endurance. For example, I carry my books around to events and then spend hours spent chatting with people and selling books. It can be grueling. The more fit I am physically, the more I can do. Seriously, this is one of the ultimate weapons writers can use!

3)  Eat Well – If I eat crappy, I feel crappy. I’m already in the crappy part of the story, so I might as well walk around feeling as non-crappy as possible. My good health is critical to my being able to write. If I eat lots of fruits and vegetables, I’m sick less, and I feel better, and my health improves. This is a mighty weapon! You’re laughing, but I’ve written stories when I was sick. It’s hard. I don’t like it. I want to write when I’m feeling good, and to feel good, I have to take care of my body.

4)  Sleep – This one is hard because so often, I have to sacrifice sleep to write. But I’m really trying to get my 7.5 hours of sleep a night. That is my minimum for sleep. How did I find that out? I stopped setting an alarm. I caught up on my sleep. It took about six months, you know, since I had major sleep debt. Then I let myself sleep as long as I needed and recorded the time. So I need 7.5 hours of sleep a night, but generally only get about seven. Darn. But I’ll keep trying.

So, dental hygiene, exercise, nutrition, and sleep. I’m forty-five. I figure I have another twenty years of books and working it, to get where I want to go. I can’t die early. I can’t. I won’t. I have too many books to write, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to die before I write them all.

And I can’t write if I’m dead.

So, these are weapons I’m going to use to win the writing game! And I should probably learn some other stuff like, craft stuff, along the way.

But again…

It’s all about endurance.

It’s all about having the energy to meet the daily demands of being a writer.

It’s about utilizing every advantage.

So write on, people, and eat your spinach.

If you don’t believe me, ask Becky Clark. She’ll back me up.

Oh, and by the way? Hemingway wrote standing. It helped his back, burned some calories, and damn, isn’t that just so manly?


Aaron Michael Ritchey is the author of The Never Prayer, Long Live the Suicide King, and Elizabeth’s Midnight. In shorter fiction, his G.I. Joe inspired novella was an Amazon bestseller in Kindle Worlds and his steampunk story, “The Dirges of Percival Lewand” was part of The Best of Penny Dread Tales anthology published through Kevin J. Anderson’s WordFire Press. His upcoming young adult sci-fi/western epic series will also be published through WordFire Press. In 2015, his second novel won the Building the Dream award for best YA novel, and he spent the summer as the Artist in Residence for the Anythink Library. He lives in Colorado with his wife and two ancient goddesses of chaos posing as his daughters.

For more about him, his books, and how to overcome artistic angst, visit www.aaronmritchey.com. He’s on Facebook as Aaron Michael Ritchey and he tweets - @aaronmritchey. 


1 comment:

  1. Great advice, and I'll add one more thing. If you're into teeth grinding, invest in a night guard. It protects those teeth and also fends off painful attacks of TMJ (which even makes the bones in my ear hurt sometimes--apparently I clench my jaw really hard when I grind my teeth).

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