I have always felt it a good idea to go back through old blog posts to see not only my journey as a blogger, but writer as well. Looking back allows one the opportunity to see potential growth or regression back into old habits. At least twice a year I sift through every piece of media, blog post and web page on this site. Sometimes I’ll do a complete purge and rebuild of graphics. Sometimes I’ll merely edit text, check for broken links, or go through and delete old pingbacks chocking up the comment sections.
This weekend I did a combination of all of the above – I deleted several dead blog posts, cleaned up media, updated blog banners for every. single. post, and deleted dozens of files. I love it when real life bleeds into my online habits. For the entirety of summer 2021, I’ve worked on purging my entire house. From attic to water-ridden basement, I’ve gone through bins and boxes, drawers and cabinets. The result: a rather large donation pile for a local non-profit’s yard sale fundraiser.
All this physical purging has helped encourage me to take stock of my writing habits, and, wouldn’t you know? I’ve got a blog post about that! For today’s post I will take a look back at My Top Five Writing Distractions and reassess those as well. Everyone should take the time to reevaluate those old habits. Did mine die over time, or have I sprouted new ones?
Ahhhhh – research rabbit holes. The crutch of every historical fiction writer’s existence! It’s something we #histfic folks absolutely love to do. If we didn’t, we’d pump out novels with no thought to its place in actual history. Well, I suppose some authors who only care about a quick buck just don’t care about historical accuracy. With my readership experiences, however, I find the ones who write with obvious knowledge of their chosen time grab me as a reader more than someone, well, someone a bit more lazy.
So while I strive to not be a lazy writer myself, I do still find myself getting stuck on tiny details rather than the bigger picture. Example: the main setting for my newest project is very hard to reconstruct, even with all the archaeological evidence available. The research helps me get into a character’s head, or hash out a villain’s motive. For my writing style, it’s always gone setting –> characters –> plot. I don’t know if that’s the right way of doing things, but it’s what’s worked so far.
Touring historical sites within Pennsylvania
One track mind. I know several Twitter author peeps who have folders and notebooks full of novel ideas but not I. Nope. I’ve got a one track mind when it comes to storytelling. At most, my poor brain can only handle two story ideas at a time. Thankfully, with my slowness as a writer, I don’t suffer the curse of “too many ideas” anymore. It plagued me once upon a time, I won’t deny that.
Ever since I rebranded this site, my mission as a writer became clear: to tell the stories based on history, or histories alternate to true timelines. When I did that, all the chips fell into place. I no longer felt the need to hole myself into a genre niche. When I was “anotherhartmanauthor,” I felt like I was lying to the world when I wasn’t published at all. When I was “histfichartman,” I felt like I couldn’t explore science fantasy. Now that I’m officially “chocolate and paper,” I feel that I can explore any genre while simultaneously rekindling my love of all things chocolate.
From the specific to the general. That helped reset my writer mindset.
DIY projects. More on that later
Remember this blog post where I claimed I was giving up most social media accounts? Yeah – that didn’t last long at all! Also, it looks as though I’m not the first to come up with that particular blog post title. As they say, “there’s nothing new under the sun.”
In revisiting that page this evening, I realized that I’ve actually kept my word on what accounts I’m keeping. Twitter was a maybe, and it’s now a yes. Instagram was a yes, and Facebook was a hard no. I kept Pinterest for character, setting and DIY inspiration. Will I ever set up a Snapchat, TikTok, an actual YouTube channel, a LinkedIn page, or anything new that pops up? I highly, highly doubt it.
Let me put it this way: you’ll never see me on an app that promotes use of video footage. Nope. Nada. Not a chance.
Phases. That was the first word that popped into my mind when I saw this distraction in the list. While I can proudly say I don’t watch as much television as I have in the past (heck, I even unplugged my television a few years ago in an effort to ditch political campaign ads and I don’t have a single entertainment account). Okay, okay – I may not pay for Netflix myself. I share an account with my dad. Even so, I work full time, have loads of family stuff going on, and I’m finally back to work on Project Kenfig. I can’t really have a Korean drama going on as background noise like I used to.
What I have done, as of late, is thrown on an old Korean drama I’ve seen a dozen times because I know its story so well. And, because I know that story so well, I don’t feel a need to fully pay attention to it. While my love for Star Trek has waned over the past two years (see Why I Will No Longer Blog About Star Trek), I do enjoy an episode or two of Boys Over Flowers or Bring It On, Ghost! These days, I much prefer listening to music as I work on the site or the project.
Perhaps one too many YouTube cooking videos…
What more can I say about procrastination that hasn’t been said already? Besides, I think everyone knows what the word “procrastination” means too, so no need to beat around the bush.
Erm…this one is still going strong.
I think the changes I’ve made in my life since the original post went live have all resulted in a lady better than she was a year ago. That doesn’t mean I don’t still have work to do. It just means that I’ve managed to cancel out *some* of the noise thrown at us all day long.
On the Replacement Distractions. Touring historical sites for research and personal interest is just as important as sitting down and writing. If you don’t continually learn, how can you know your chosen time period? Doing more DIYs not only expand one’s knowledge base, but they bring more value to your home or gift for someone else. And the YouTube cooking videos have already inspired several Attempted Recipes posts, so that’s not a bad track record either!
All this to say: do what works well with your schedules. Don’t beat yourself for getting distracted in your writing journey: everyone does it!
“One learns from books and example only that certain things can be done. Actual learning requires that you do those things.”
— Frank Herbert, source