Apr 192014

If you run across the Muse, shoot her.

Like dead. Like graveyard dead. Tango Uniform. On the slab. Life-challenged.

I know, that sounds like blasphemy of the highest order for an artist.

Who wouldn’t love a whole bunch of Muse dust dumped all over your head when it’s time to create? I know I’d take it.

But the Muse is fickle. A crazy lady. Left to her own devices, the Muse is an excuse.

We all have our own vision of a writer. Of any creative person, for that matter. He’s there, typewriter or computer in front of him, a blank sheet of paper or blank screen. and he’s staring out the window.

Waiting for inspiration.

Of course, he never gets much of anything done.

If every artist worked only under the influence of the Muse, a whole lot of wonderful works would never see the light of day. There won’t be nearly as many great books. Very few amazing musical compositions or performances. Art galleries would be empty. Very few great inventions or business ideas. Bill Gates and Richard Branson would be assembly-line mates in some yarn factory or someplace, trying to talk over the machines and retiring for a cold one after knocking off.

Let’s just say we’d be back in the Stone Age. Hyperbole? Probably, but not all that much.

Inspiration is overrated.

The Muse is an excuse.

Let’s follow that logic for a minute, just for grins. If the above is true, there’s no such thing as writer’s block either.

In this great TED talk, writer Melissa Gilbert discounted the idea of writer’s block and explaining the fickleness of the Muse. Her father, she said, was an engineer. No one ever approached him to ask how that engineering block is coming along. And engineering takes as much imagination, as much soul sweat as writing or playing music any old day.

Many of the big-name writers say the same thing. The Muse is a fleeting thing, but she may stick around if she feels like it. The best way to curry her favor is to look busy when she arrives. Check out the conversation (yeah, shameless plug) between Karen and her short-time boyfriend Darren on how the Muse works:

* * *

“I don’t see how you do it,” Darren said, breaking into her thoughts.

“Do what?”

“Write every day. And I mean every day.”

“Because that is what I do.”

“I can’t. I have to be inspired, you know.”

“Me too. That’s why I write every day. The Muse knows where to find me. At my desk at 9 a.m. sharp.”

“What if it doesn’t show up?”

“Then I kept my end of the bargain and I write anyway. Then she shows up, or sometimes she doesn’t.”

“How much do you write, anyway?”

“At least 250 words. I try for 750, three pages worth. I can sometimes get that in an hour.”

“No way.”

“Been doing it that way for years. Used to do way more than that, probably around 2,000 words a day at the newspaper.”

“I don’t see how.”

“You just do it, that’s all. Don’t worry about the Muse showing up in a newsroom. Too noisy for her.”

* * *

Darren never did get it, and he’s probably still working on that same short story he was tinkering with.

Here’s the deal. It’s so easy to get enslaved by the Muse. You can let her dictate whether you do your work or how you do it.

The best way I found to freeing myself from that evil old gal is to go to work anyway. It doesn’t matter whether I feel like it or not. Just show up. I make an appointment just like I’m going to work.

I dress up like I’m going to a day job. No flip flops, no sweat pants. Writing’s a tough enough business that steel-toed boots and a hard hat may be the thing to wear some days.

But dressed for battle, I show up. At a certain time every morning — usually 8 or 9 a.m., but it’s prearranged. I’m up, at my desk, in firing position. Just like a real job.

Because it is.

As long as I remember that, I will continue to take it and my work seriously.




Feb 212014
It's what's inside that counts.

It’s what’s inside that counts.

So I’m getting ready to publish B.I.C Cartel. I mean the full version, and not just the wimpy ol’ part-by-part release. I mean the whole thing.

I get asked this a lot: What’s that like?

Best answer I can give is to let the characters tell it. Karen Watts is getting ready to publish her first novel “Desert Secrets” on Amazon. Her friends are there to help her, to cheer her on and to keep her from bonking out at a late stage. You can check out the dialogue and all the encouraging words here.

I sure hope the publishing process isn’t nearly that hard for me, but you can bet it will. It’s all good news, though. I’m committed to this thing (or maybe I should be committed). Provided I don’t find a handy excuse Part III and the full version of B.I.C. Cartel comes out March 3.


May 312013

Intro and disclaimer: This is a sample chapter from my new ebook, Will Work For Exposure. It’s up on Amazon now, and of course I’m trying to boost my book sales. But this sample chapter gives you a look at paid-by-the-click advertising and some ways around it. Hey, I might give you some ideas and encouragement. I don’t mind that at all; that’s why I’m here.

Enjoy this excerpt. By the way, if you stop by Amazon anytime between June 1 and June 5, you’ll find this ebook is free for that period. Grab it, because its regular price is $3.99.

* * *

Paid by the click, and other advertising schemes

We’re discussing the pay-per-view and pay-by-click scenarios, so let’s head down the online rabbit hole of clickable ads. Although you may have a different story to tell, in my experience they’re worthless.

When was the last time you clicked on an Adsense ad? Or worse, one of those that pop up when you roll your mouse over a certain underlined word in the text. Accidental clicks don’t count.

Thought so.

About the only clickers I see are in some blog communities, and it’s an I’ll-click-yours-if-you-click-mine deal.

Not long ago I removed all Google Adsense ads from my active blogs. I think I have some floating around on some long-dormant blogs, but that’s about it. I don’t miss the ads.

So why would I slaughter such a promising cash cow?

ad clicky thing

If people click on enough of these things, the owner of the blog might get money. Sometimes the revenue is shared with the writer and that’s called payment. By the way, don’t even bother to click on this thing. It’s from a screen dump and the links won’t work. That’s by design.

Adsense ads are unspeakably ugly. They’re page clutter. Although there’s no real investment except maybe some credibility points, there’s no real return on them either.

While I did have some say in what ads appear on my sites, it takes a bit of work and a lot of fiddling to get that done. Until then, my site had a lot of ads for online casinos, fat-burning pills and appliances that allegedly will increase the size of your … oh, just never mind.

* * *

Today, the only ads I carry on my active sites are from Amazon, and only for books I’ve read and would recommend even if there’s no money in it for me. Oh, yes, I also carry ads for my ebooks. I’ve no problem with that ‘cause, well, I know the author.

I like what Dan Miller of 48days.com says. Rather than making your art into a be-all end-all, you can build a business concept around it. He writes, but his real action is in community building and in coaching. His writing is just the thing that started it, the thing that gave him authority to do what he does today. Taking his principles, I could use my blog and ebooks as the trigger for coaching, mentoring, consulting or any number of ventures.

Look at a guy like Dave Ramsey. He put together a self-published book some years ago, and now he has classes that teach those same principles everywhere.

For the artist or musician, there are all sorts of ways to build on your passion. There’s teaching. There’s production — I can think of several musicians who created their own record labels and produced other people’s songs. What’s cool is that they find it helps others achieve what they want, plus it’s fun and sometimes even profitable.

OK, so that’s really ambitious stuff. It sounds like a lot of work and some great risks. Probably a little too much so for my tastes.

But something like that sure sounds better than littering your website with other people’s horrendously ugly ads, doesn’t it?

* * *

Anyway, that’s a preview. Grab the book. It’s free from June 1 through June 5, and $3.99 after that. Whatever it is, it’s worth it.