Tag Archives: time

A Strategy for Reading and Writing

I’ve never really thought about having a strategy for reading and writing before. But with the kind of work schedule I have, I really need to think about it. 

First of all, for reading, I tend to only read while I’m taking the bus to and from work. I don’t always take the bus, though. I never get any reading done on my days off. So, I need to set aside time to read every day. I’m thinking 15 to 30 minutes is good. With that amount of time, I should be able to finish books faster than I have been. 

As for writing, any time I have alone could be a good time to write. But that’s not often. So, I’ll try squeeze in 15 minutes to write every day. That’s far better than I’ve done in recent months. 

Do you have a strategy for reading and writing? Share it in the comments below. 


NaNoWriMo 2016 turned into my worst one yet. I managed to write 254 words, then I just couldn’t seem to get anything else done. let’s look at the reasons.


I had very little privacy. I can’t write upstairs, because the TV is on, and I’m never alone in the room. I couldn’t write in the kitchen, because it was a high traffic area. And whenever I was able to go down there, it was only for a short time while my daughter was at school.


I worked more than usual this month. I had less private time at home. And if I had time at night, I was usually too tired to concentrate on writing.

Getting in the Zone

Because of the first two issues, I was unable to get into the zone. I couldn’t concentrate like I wanted to.

So, this was not a very good NaNoWriMo. But really, I prefer to write without the pressure. And if I can get my own space and be able to go in there at any time to write, that’ll allow me to relax and write like I want to.

How was your NaNoWriMo? Did you succeed? Let me know in the comments.

Authors Answer 89 – Kick-starting Creativity

I’m in a situation that doesn’t allow me to express my creativity in stories. The lack of privacy, the noise, it’s not ideal. Authors sometimes need something to help them get into the mood to write. They need something to encourage that creativity. This week’s question was asked by our very own Eric Wood!

320px-Modern-ftn-pen-cursiveQuestion 89 – Is there a time, place or activity that helps get your creative juices flowing?

Tracey Lynn Tobin

A time and place: at night, in bed. I have this ritual that seems so counter-intuitive to proper sleeping methods, but I’ll snuggle up in bed, close my eyes, and play a scene from one of my works-in-progress in my head. I’ll imagine it as vividly as I can, working through the dialogue, imagining the looks on the character’s faces, working my way through the emotion involved. I’ll do the same scene multiple nights in a row until I have it basically figured out to a tee, and then I’ll write it. Strangely, you’d think this ritual would cause me to be up at all hours of the night, but it actually helps me fall asleep!

An activity: watching awesome movies or TV shows. I get a lot of inspiration from my favorite shows and movies, and watching certain genres with awesome characters just really puts me in the mood to write even if I don’t necessarily know what I’m going to write about.

Gregory S. Close

Early in the morning, before the clocks have starting ticking and the smell of coffee is fresh in the air… ahhhhhhh.

H. Anthe Davis

I’ve found that as soon as I get up from the computer, get in the car and start driving to work, I have a spike of inspiration.  It’s very annoying, because trying to scribble notes while in traffic would be a road hazard so I have to wait and cling to those ideas so they can’t escape.  The first hour or two while I’m at work also tends to be fertile brain-time, so I always carry a pen and note-paper.  I do a lot of my conceptual editing then, and pop out new ideas.  That’s one of the reasons I like my Day Job.  Sitting at the computer and staring at documents has a way of oppressing me and turning the creative process rote; letting ideas percolate while I’m shelving books has been very helpful.

S. R. Carrillo

Listening to music typically scratches itches that can’t be reached, inspiration-wise. Or a really good, emotive story of any kind – a book, a movie… Also, some bad ones. It makes me wanna write something I feel might be better (even if it, in reality, isn’t haha).

Paul B. Spence

Listening to music usually does it for me. I also need to be focused but relaxed.

D. T. Nova

Going for a walk beforehand often helps. Listening to music can as well.

If my mind’s already full of ideas but too boggled to focus, I just need to do anything that helps me relax.

Jean Davis

I’m usually working at my day job when ideas strike. Thankfully that’s only a walk to the next room away from my writing chair where I can quickly jot ideas down or quickly get a scene written before getting back to the bill paying job. The shower is another typical place where my brain decides to get to work. It’s not quite as easy to jot things down there though. Morning and afternoon are my most creatively productive times.

Elizabeth Rhodes

I’m a night person, so I’m at my most creative in the evenings. This is problematic sometimes because I also have a job that starts in the early morning. I also like to put on some music or TV show in the background. Right now I’m watching Twilight Zone episodes.

Eric Wood

My ultimate thinking spot comes in the form of running the quiet back roads. I think so many different thoughts in the 40-60 minutes I spend on each run. I think of everything from my next blog post to my next story to how I could run better to what will be for supper. Running doesn’t quiet my mind, it organises the thoughts within. It’s how I defragment my brain.

Jay Dee Archer

I have to be alone. I need to have all distractions removed. If I’m out for a walk by myself, sometimes passively watching my surroundings helps me think about the plot, even though I often zone out while I do that. But I also find that I think very well in the shower. Ideally, if I’m in front of my computer, I need silence. There must not be any sound to distract me. And I need to have a good 15 to 30 minutes to focus. And my web browser must be closed!

How about you?

To get your creativity going, what do you need to do? What places or times help you create? Let us know in the comments below.

Should an Author Blog?

I just want to throw this question out there for everyone. I assume many of you are bloggers. Some of you are authors. I have seen this question a few times out there, and the opinions tend to be mixed.

Should an author blog?

My answer is yes and no. There are many who say that an author shouldn’t blog because it sucks away too much time. For some people, I agree. They could spend a huge amount of time on their blog. For those people, maybe blogging does take away too much writing time. But I think it depends on the person.

As for me, I enjoy blogging. I do it in my free time and at times in which I cannot concentrate on actual writing. I only spend about fifteen to thirty minutes a day blogging most days. I try getting to the comments every day, but usually end up doing it every three days. That takes around thirty minutes. And I do it with multiple interruptions, family all around, and a TV on. I can’t concentrate on writing my book at those times, so I blog instead. It doesn’t take away from my writing time.

I have a second blog that I’m starting up and a third, as well. The second is a restaurant review blog, and it’ll be updated infrequently. The other is a bird photography blog, and it’s photography. I’ll spend very little time actually writing.

What do you think? Should an author blog? Let me know in the comments below.


Sometimes I think about where I’ve been, what I’ve seen, and then what will come in the future. I know they’re my memories and my view of my future, but they seem so unreal.

My childhood was a long time ago. That’s what it feels like. I am a different person now than I was back then. So much has changed, yet a lot is the same. Many of my interests are the same, but through my experiences, successes, failures, and disappointments, I’ve changed. I’ve become who I am today because of past events. My childhood, high school, university, my old call centre job, and even my first few years in Japan feel like another life.

Some things changed slowly, others were dramatic and sudden changes. My first days in university, my final days in Victoria, my last few days in Canada, my first day in Japan, the bankruptcy of my first company in Japan. Those were big changes that feel so long ago. My daughter’s birth feels like my current life. That’s where I am now, a Canadian father living in Japan with his wife and daughter. That’s what makes the next step seem so unreal. I’ve been at this stage of my life for a while now, and I’m about to go through yet another life-changing event.

The future is less certain. Canada is a real thing, but feels so foreign to me now. I expect to feel like I don’t belong, at least for a while. People I know have changed. The city I once lived in has changed drastically since I left eleven years ago. It will be strange being back there to live. Then what will my life in Japan become? Another unreal stage of my life?

I remember the feeling when I first came to Japan. It was surreal. It felt unreal, even while I was in the moment. Everything was so foreign and exotic. Now, I can’t imagine it being foreign at all. I’m so used to it. The first days in Canada may feel like that. It’s been more than five years since I’ve been there. We’ll first go to Vancouver Island, which I haven’t been to since 2001. Fifteen years! I understand the feeling I have right now, knowing I’m leaving a place I love. I went through it when I left Victoria. I got over it, of course. I will get over this after a few months.

And then there are new challenges. My daughter is starting school this year. That seems so crazy. How did she become four years old? What happened to the baby I held in my arms? She’s a walking, talking human being who has her own opinions, sense of humour, and likes. The changes are so unreal. I can’t imagine her when she’s six, eight, ten, a teenager, and an adult. That just does not compute.

I have gone through so many changes, and many more will come. I feel like I’ve lived several different short lives, each one feeling foreign and impossible to go back to. But life goes on, and the experiences can only make me wiser and stronger. I was a shy child who couldn’t speak to a stranger at one time. I ran away from the spotlight. Now, I don’t hide from it. I’m not shy any longer. That still feels unreal.

Changing How I Read

It’s been a frustrating year for reading for me. I’ve only completed seven books this year, which is far behind what I did in the last two years. I feel like I haven’t been reading as much, yet I read at the same time and frequency as I did before. So why am I getting less read?

It could be because of the rather large books I’ve read this year. But my page count is also far behind. I can’t seem to figure out why it’s taking me so long to read each book this year.

Looking back before I was married, I read quite often in bed, on the train, during my breaks at work, but I read fewer books, as well. I’d go weeks without reading at times, too.  But this year, I’m not taking breaks, other than the last two weeks.

So, I’m going to try to change how I read. In addition to my commute and breaks, I’m going to read for a while every night before I go to bed. Maybe I can actually finish a few books by the end of this year. One thing is for sure, my reading schedule may be completely thrown out. One of the upcoming books I’ve been planning to read is now in Canada.

Time Flies When You’re Having Fun

Let’s not even think about the colds we have, first of all. My sister has been here for 11 days, and we’re now on the 12th full day with only today, Wednesday, and Thursday to go for sightseeing. She goes back to Canada on Friday. The time has flown so quickly.

We’ve seen a lot, but it could’ve been better. We could’ve been healthy. She’ll remember Japan as the country she visited twice and caught a cold both times.

Today is a big day. Off to Shinjuku, Harajuku, and Shibuya. Tomorrow is Tokyo Station area, Imperial Gardens, and Tokyo International Forum. We may have time for something else, so we’ll see. On Thursday, it’s Marine Tower, Chinatown, and the Yamate area. We may see Hikawa-maru and Sankeien. She’s already been to Chinatown, but it was very brief. This time, probably having lunch there.

And that’s it. Then she goes home on Friday. We’ll see her and my mom in five and a half months when we move to Canada, though.

Well, time for three days of great sightseeing! And plenty of videos.

Got that Writing Feeling

Yesterday, I finished writing Journey to Ariadne part 6. I’m interested in seeing how it’s received when I put it up for critiquing, as well as when it’s up on my author site.  But parts 4 and 5 have to be up first! I’ll have all three parts critiqued at the same time, I think.

Finishing part 6 made me feel antsy. I wanted to start part 7. But there was a problem. I had to go to work. I enjoy my job, but sometimes I’ve got ideas running through my head, and I just want to get started on writing. I couldn’t. No privacy, no time. I can write blog posts right now, but I can’t write any fiction. I need a higher level of concentration for that. There are too any distractions around me at the moment. The TV is on and my daughter is drawing a picture while constantly talking to me. I get interrupted every minute. Not a good environment to write. But I really want to write right now.

I guess it’s writing blog posts for today. If you write, what do you do when there are too many distractions?

Change Over Time in Fictional Worlds

In real life, buildings come down, new ones go up. Towns expand, become cities. Towns lose population, become abandoned. Trees grow, trees die. Climate shifts, deserts grow or shrink. So much can happen.  I thought about this when I saw this today:



The centre of this road where the brown wall is had a lot of cherry trees lining a central walkway. Now they’re gone. Every tree is gone. Why? Well, these trees are called Somei Yoshino, and they have a 70 to 80 year lifespan. Last time I saw them, several of them were dead. They were all likely planted at the same time around 70 or 80 years ago. They were all dying. It looks like they’re going to plant new ones and probably do some repairs.

When developing a fictional world, it’s important to understand that changes happen. If a book happens over a span of years, or if a series of books happen over a span of decades or even centuries, things must change. It’s highly unlikely that the status quo will be maintained.  If you have a town, make sure that the population changes over time, new buildings are built, old buildings go into disrepair and may be demolished, new neighbourhoods pop up, and people change. Even important landmarks may be destroyed. Don’t be afraid to do that.

A dynamic and changing world is much more interesting. It can be challenging to keep track of the changes, but it contributes to the realism of your world.