Eileen Cook Author, Writing Consultant, Editor

Storywonk comes for a visit!

I am super excited to have a guest post today from my friend Lani- owner and creator of Storywonk to give all of us who write a kick in the butt.

WRITING IS HARD

Here’s the thing; when your job is typing on a keyboard, and the average words-per-minute for a competent touch-typist is 41, it’s easy for people to think (… do the math… carry the 1…) that we, as writers, should be able to pump out four or five books a year with time off for holidays and vacations.

Sadly… that’s not always the case.

While it looks like just typing words, writing means putting your soul on the page, being vulnerable, being creative, pushing yourself to do better with this book than the last. It’s emotionally exhausting, time consuming, and terrifying.

Honestly, I’m surprised anyone writes any books at all. It would be so much easier to just get a real job.

But the thing is, for those of us called to write, we don’t really have a choice. We don’t write because it’s easy; we write because we have no choice in the matter. We’re kind of stuck.

That doesn’t mean we can’t make it easier on ourselves, though, and that’s why I’m sharing these five tips to take the edge off writing.

1. Don’t wait for inspiration. I know, you hear this over and over and over again. Get those hands on the keyboard! Write! Drop and give me 20 pages! Now! And… there is some sense to it, but it’s also way easier said than done. My advice varies just a touch; while I don’t recommend that you wait for inspiration, I also don’t think you have to force yourself to write without it. There are things you can do to hunt inspiration down and make it answer your call. The first thing is, engage with narrative as much as you can. Television, movies, and especially books if you’re writing novels. Always have a stocked Kindle and a hefty Netflix queue at the ready. Also, creating soundtracks for your novel and doing collages are a great way of attracting your muse. When you’re uninspired, it’s easier to force yourself to create a soundtrack than it is to force the words on the page, and inspiration usually strikes during the process. Try it; I think you’ll be glad you did.

Read more »

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Random Monday

One of my New Year’s Resolutions was writing more letters and so far, so good. After all, what’s the fun of having a fancy wax seal if you can’t bust it out once and awhile? photo

And if you’d like to get something in the mail: Goodreads is hosting a giveaway of my new book REMEMBER. This link will take you to the entry page. Who doesn’t want a free book?

Things are quiet here at Chez Cook as I’ve got my head down working on a new book. Some days the writing comes easy, some days hard. I just make sure to remind myself that at the end of the day I get to make stuff up for a living and that’s a pretty good gig.

2015 Resolutions

New Year’s Resolutions are a mix of hope and fear. Hope that you’ll somehow make yourself into a better person in the next 365 days and the fear that you may not.

My resolutions for 2015 in no particular order:

1) Read widely and deeply. This is an easy goal. I am one of those people who gets agitated if I don’t have at least a stack of ten books waiting for my time. I don’t feel that I need to read more, but this year I am going to push myself to read some things that I may not normally pick up.

2) Write more letters: This is the first year in decades that I haven’t gotten my act together to do Christmas cards. Rather than feel guilt my goal is to send at least one handwritten note each month to a friend or family member. Who doesn’t like getting a note in the mail?

3) Tell people when they are awesome: Over the holidays I got a note from a stranger. She just wanted me to know how much she appreciates what I do and how my books make her happy. This tiny act of kindness made my day. I want to pay that forward by taking the time to tell people when I appreciate them. To thank the bank clerk when they go the extra mile, to the guy who sells me tea who lets me know there will be a sale in two days before I buy, the author who writes a book that fills my time etc.

4) Watch/Read less news. It isn’t that I want to be uninformed, but the truth is most media seems to thrive on telling us how awful the world is. I will read enough that I am aware of issues, but no further. I will use my passion on issues to vote, not to discuss them to death. I am heart sick of what people seem capable of doing to each other and even more nauseated at how much hate is spewed out into the world in the name of “giving their opinion.” When I watch and read these things I get angry and I feel the need to argue my own perspective. In all of this we forget that in general things are going pretty darn well. Don’t believe me? Read this article. Do not tell me how the world is a crappy place- tell me what you are doing to make it just a bit better. That is what I want to hear from now on. Do not tell me that you hate (the President, the Prime Minister, NRA, homosexuals, people who discriminate against homosexuals, Russians, Americans, Canadians, the police, people who protest the police etc) Tell me what you are doing to make the world better. I have had my fill of hate and vitriol. I am declaring a fatwa on the 24 hour news cycle.

5) Health and Wellness: I’ve been working on being healthier from what I eat to more exercise for awhile now, but I want this to continue. Maybe it’s getting older, but I realize that you only get one kick at this life so I want to make sure I do it with as much energy as possible. However, life is a balance, there is still time for a great meal and a glass of wine (or two) as a part of living well. I want to tackle cooking new recipes, try new activities, nap on lazy Sunday afternoons and take time to enjoy when I am in the moment instead of planning what will be done next.

6) Write Better: I challenge myself this year as a writer to push what I know and do it better. I have a new book idea and I want to write the hell out of it.

What are you hoping to accomplish this year?

Books Read in 2014

This year I decided to keep a list of everything I read this year. This was for two reasons,
1) People often ask me how much I read and I actually had no idea
2) More and more I pick up a book and get a few chapters in and realize either I am really good at predicting what is about to happen next and/or I’ve read the book before.

So the grand total is that I read a total of 103 books this past year. The amount of books read in any one month varies greatly based on things such as what I’m reading and what else I might be doing. For example close to book deadlines very little was read, versus on holidays when I inhaled reading material.

Some of my favourite books read this year (in the order they were read) included:

GoldFinch by Donna Tart
The Fever by Megan Abbott
The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon
The Quick by Lauren Owen
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
Noggin by Corey Whaley
One More Thing, Stories by BJ Novak
All the Light We Cannot See
Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston
The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters
Belzhar by Meg Woltzer
Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult

I’ll be starting a new list for the coming year so feel free to send me any recommendations.

Happy Holiday to All!

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My Christmas List

It’s that time of year when we send off our letters to Santa and tell him what we hope to see under the tree this year.

My Christmas List (In no particular order)

– More time to read. The list of books that want my attention are growing to serious heights.

– Fewer politicians screaming at each other. I know it is naive to think we could all just get along, but if have to disagree could we do it without all the name calling, vein in the forehead pulsing, and over the top rhetoric? Let’s just try.

-Another trip to Italy. Yes, I know this isn’t likely, but you never know what Santa might pull off.

– Lots of book sales. Did you know I have a new book coming out in February? I do. REMEMBER. You need this book. Trust me. In fact, just pre-order it now and save yourself the hassle of having to remember to buy it later. Mystery, some romance, a bit of a twist.

-Yarn. With the cold weather I am a knitting machine. Alas, I have a preference for high end expensive fibres. I figure if I’m going to do it- I should do it with good yarn.

-More time with friends and family. The best memories of the past year are times spent with friends and family. More of that this year please.

What are you hoping for under the tree this year?

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Random Monday

I have zero idea how it is the middle of December already. It appears clear that the holidays are going to arrive whether or not I am ready for them. On the upside the tree is now up and there was even a bit of time to make cookies this week.

For those who inquired- Very Proud Dad is home from the hospital and still full of dad-humor jokes so it appears he’s doing well. I think it’s safe to say we’re all glad he’s home. The nurses may be missing him, but they’ll have to get along without him.

Saw this story about a long lost library book and felt that fuzzy warm feeling. Is there anything better than a library? No. Except maybe owning your own book. Or buying one for someone else. Don’t forget that books make great gifts- they’re even easy to wrap.

Random Monday

If anyone wants to send good wishes or prayers, very proud dad is having surgery today. He’s in good spirits and should be back in shape for mocking my liberal ways any day. Times like this I really wish that either:
– there was a Star Trek like transporter and I could just whisk myself there in a flurry of sparkly beeps and boops. How can we have the technology for a robotic vacuum, but not this?
– Or I wish I was independently wealthy and could take a private jet where and when I wanted.

I am woefully behind for the holiday season. There is a good chance there may be no Christmas cards this year. I still don’t even have a tree up. Turns out being gone for almost all of November isn’t great for getting things done.

We’ve started the holiday party season. It is somewhat scary how much I enjoy getting all dressed up. This comes from wearing yoga pants 99.9% of the time.

I have a friend coming over to make holiday cookies this week. Taking suggestions if you have any recipes that I shouldn’t pass up.

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