Writing 101: 6 Ways to Get Motivated to Write

Good afternoon OTMM readers! Today, I’m searching the net for the best motivational tactics employed by authors around the world. But first, let’s take a moment to discuss the role motivation plays in our writing. Particularly true with longer works, motivation is truly the key to success. We've all been there before. We begin a project that we feel has amazing potential, but as we progress through our project, little doubts begin creeping up in our minds: Is it good enough? Did I do the right thing? Another idea would be better. Not long after, we fizzle out and quit. The truth is that we're all going to experience doubt and other motivational issues. It’s how we cope with these issues that define who we are and what we're capable of.

Tactic 1: Piece out your Project         
      
Looking at a project in its entirety can be a huge blow to our confidence. A longer work, whether it be fiction or not, takes an incredible amount of time to complete. When we look at the big picture, the 60,000+ words that lie ahead of us, the task seems overwhelming. That’s why we have to break the project up into smaller, more doable portions. Writing a novel? Break it up into chapters, dedicate a certain amount of time for writing each day, or set yourself a word limit. There are numerous ways we can tell our brain that a longer piece of work really isn't as bad as it seems. Also, think of it this way, if you dedicate 1 hour every evening to writing, it might take up to 6 months to finish a novel. (Shorter or longer depending on how efficient you are.)  That may seem like a long time, but as days pass and you focus that one hour a day to writing, the next thing you know, the project has pulled itself together and is finished. What happens if you don’t spend that 1 hour writing? You’ll look back on the past 6 months and tell yourself, “Damn, if I would have simply followed that plan, I could be done by now.”

Tactic 2: Acknowledge moments of doubt and lack of focus

We begin projects with fire and passion. We work rigorously in an attempt to make it perfect, and at some point in time, something happens to dampen our mood and make us question ourselves. It’s sometimes difficult to notice when we begin to slip. Suddenly, we just don’t feel like working one day, or decide you need more time to plan. I have news for you: this is where it starts. One day off turns into two days off, and more time to plan sets the project back into its infant stages. My advice to you is to acknowledge these moments where you feel like slipping and get your butt in gear. I know it’s difficult, but longer projects need to become habit—something you simply do every day. Breaking that habit will only hurt your motivation and dedication to the project.

Tactic 3: Daydream

Spend your off time imagining what it’s going to be like when you finish the project. A lot of people would say, “Be realistic with your goals,” but I say, “Bullshit.” Don't be afraid to shoot for the starts or imagine what it would be like to reach your most out-of-reach goals. If you're like me, you have a wild imagination. I take events that have a very small percentage chance of ever happening—becoming a famous author, or creating a blog that’s featured all over the web—and blow them up into reachable goals. I figure, “if other people can do it, why can’t I,” and I believe that hard work and dedication is what gives us the best chance to get there. Now, this mindset also has some drawbacks. I'm also an extreme hypochondriac who, at one point or another, has been convinced that I’ve had some of the world’s most rare illnesses, but if you’re interested in that you can check out my article on authors and anxiety. Back to the point—don’t be afraid to dream in order to get yourself in gear!

Tactic 4: Motivational Quotes and Role Models

If you’re having trouble getting yourself motivated, use others instead. Other writers and bloggers can work as excellent role models if you let them. Simply look to an author you admire for the motivational boost you need. Can you replicate their success in your own, unique way? Not if you don’t try! Also, a quick Google search for motivational quotes can be good way to get yourself in the mood to be successful. I mean… it’s hard to argue with advice from the some of the most influential and successful people of all time, right?

Tactic 5: Evaluate the way you use your time.

This one is going to need some explaining so I’ll use myself as an example. I’m an avid gamer. I have been since I was very young. With the advancement of multiplayer games—games like WoW or League of Legends—people are spending more and more time in a virtual reality. When I consider the amount of time I’ve put into League of Legends, my heart breaks a little. Literally thousands of hours of my life have been spent slaying minions and taking down towers. BUT it’s not entirely a bad thing. I can use these thoughts as motivation moving forward. By knowing how I could be wasting my time doing something else, it’s easy to see that the work I really need to do is that much more important.

Tactic 6: Find an Accountability Buddy

Writing is a lonely existence. It really is. For most of us, we dwell on our own, imaginary worlds hoping that one day millions of others will be able to share it with us. For that reason, it’s difficult to hold yourself accountable for work that may never affect others. When you have a 9-5 day job, you know you HAVE to be at work at 9 a.m. There’s no way around it. But when there’s no one who is going to fire you for not getting that bit of text done, the need to work doesn’t feel so strong. Therefore, find a buddy who can motivate you to finish your projects and also find ways to humiliate you when you don’t.


There are many other ways to motivate yourself to do what you need to do. Whether you’re trying to write the next great American novel, or maybe lose a lot of weight, there’s many methods you can follow to achieve your goals. Now, it’s time to ignore my own advice and go play some League of Legends… I love that game… Don’t judge me. 

Writing, Anxiety, and Hypochondria: Are they Related?



The mental health of writers is something I've always been interested in. Since my early teens, I've been one of the most ridiculous hypochondriacs in the world. I constantly worry about every sign and symptom my body tells me about. As far as my mind is concerned, I've had every form of cancer at least once, I have heart failure and will likely fall over at any minute, and all other “rare” forms of diseases will likely include me in their statistics someday. It’s this persistence that my mind has that continues to force the, “highly unlikely,” into becoming the, “probably going to happen.”

But I can’t help but wonder, is there a correlation between writers of creative texts with hypochondria, anxiety, or sometimes even depression? I first thought about the topic when I was in college. I had a creative writing class under one of the most interesting men alive. This guy was slow to speak and careful with words. His tone was always mellow and monotone and yet there was no way to divert your attention. His random bursts into lyrical ballads about everything around: the walls, the trees, the birds outside, always had you wondering what in the world he was going to say next. Needless to say, he was one of my favorite professors.

We didn't meet in a classroom. No, he thought the writer should not be so isolated; their mind should not be encompassed by the walls around it. For that reason, he said we should go, “where we're able to best get released into our writing.”

I went home. Every. Single. Day.

But I wrote. I did what he asked. I went home and I wrote. I wrote short stories; I worked on a novel; I wrote poetry. It was an excellent class that let me go home and do something I did anyway; it was great. Throughout the year we met in the library on a number of occasions to review my portfolio. One piece of short fiction I had wrote was about a man who suffered from an anxiety disorder. Needless to say, this led me and my professor into a conversation about writers who struggle with these kinds of mental health issues. He said that he himself had suffered from hypochondria over the years. This made me wonder. Could it be our general mindset that makes both our creative talents and hypochondria possible?

As writers, we dwell in the realm of impossibility. I know that I’m constantly envisioning things that will never, ever, ever happen. I wonder what it would be like if I had super powers, or if zombies invaded the planet. Long car rides constantly causes me to consider fictional scenarios where the good guy is faced with an impossible decision, or what would happen if the bad guy actually won. Throw in a few doses of, “Oh shit I need to pay that bill,” or, “This mole looks kind of odd…,” and you essentially have my mind figured out.

There was another piece of evidence that I found interesting throughout my studies. Go back to the beginning of written literature and begin searching the demise of famous authors. You'll find that many of them killed themselves in some pretty gruesome ways. Ernest Hemingway put a shotgun in his mouth and Sylvia Plath placed her head in an oven and died from fumes.

But that’s not all. Look at this list of famous authors who have killed themselves. Are you serious?!? It’s huge! Even more interesting is the “Sylvia Plath effect,” coined by James Kaufman. In 2001, Kaufman noticed an interesting correlation between poets and mental health issues. While the study distinguishes a difference between poets and other creative writers, the article also states that creative writers in general have increased risk for mental health issues.

Now, before people start bashing me about using Wikipedia as a source, I've decided to include something a tad more reputable. Edward Hare published an article in the British Medical Journal entitled, “Creativity and Mental illness.” Throughout the article, Hare states there have been numerous studies that show mental illness is more commonly evident in creative people than those who aren’t. Also as a piece of evidence, he states, “[Researchers] found that the rate of admission to metal hospitals of college graduates were 6 times higher than the rest of the populace,” insinuating that those with creative talent or higher intelligence are more susceptible to forms of mental illness.

Of course, by no means am I indicating that I’m of “higher intelligence.” I can’t even peel an apple without cutting my fingers off. However, I do believe that people who have creative talents suffer in other forms of cognitive function. For example, my attention span is garbage, and I have an absolute awful since of direction. Seriously, I can’t run out to the nearest Taco Bell without a GPS.  


So, what says you reader? Are you a hypochondriac like me? Perhaps you’re a writer who has no anxiety issues whatsoever. I would love to hear about it!

Writing Fiction: Why Writers Should Turn to Video Games for Motivation

Seen on synergizmo.com

Writer’s block is nearly impossible to avoid. It happens to the best of us when we least expect it, usually right about the time that something really needs to get done. While unfortunate, it’s a simple part of the process that every writer has to endure in order to be somewhat successful, after all, “successful” is a pretty subjective term.

However, while writer’s block can be a real problem, I think it’s often mistaken for a lack of motivation and care. Yes, I know that sometimes you literally can't think of anything to write. I know that. There have been times where I have went through the alphabet over a dozen times just to remember someone’s name. Regardless, I still think that a lack of motivation is what causes most people to stare at a blank page, or screen, for an extended period of time. In other words, “I can’t think of anything,” is actually, “I don't really feel like thinking of anything.”

So how do we solve the problem? Writers have different ways of coping with a lack of motivation, but I turn to a hobby I've had since I was a small kid: video games.

I find certain types of video games to be very influential in my writing. As people write, we essentially play out the scenarios in our head then simply find a way to get our readers to picture the same image. The lovely thing about video games is that it’s already done for us. We get an idea of how a scenario might play out on screen which in turn might get the creative juices flowing for our own fictional worlds.

Video games also have excellent story lines. Well, some do. There are many that are awful, but most video games have excellent character development, engaging plot lines, and tide-changing conflicts. Copying a story is wrong; it really is. But there’s nothing wrong from gaining motivation from a certain text- whether it be a movie, a book, or a game. Mimicry is the best form of compliment.

Not a gamer? That’s ok. Movies can help as well, but personally, I feel more attached to a character in a game or book than I do a movie. It’s probably due to the length of time we’re with them. I feel this attachment we have with certain characters can help us better understand our own work, and in turn, allow us to relate our characters to our readers in a similar way.

So, with that being said, what gives you motivation? Do share it with me in the comments. I would love to hear.


Writing Lore: How to Convey Information to Your Readers



When developing and writing lore for a fictional universe, it's sometimes difficult for writers to convey their information to their readers. If your universe is fresh and new, it's important for you to understand one key aspect about the demographic you're writing to-- they know nothing about your universe. When you first start writing fictional work, it's important work out the details regarding the conveyance of your information. In my opinion, there's really just two acceptable ways to accomplish this-- through action and dialogue.

Readers learn about your universe in one of two ways depending on the point of view of your story. If it's in first person like Of Things Man Made, the reader will gain information about the world around them through the main character-- either through their thoughts or their own learning experience. If the story is in third person, the reader will learn through the dialogue and actions of central character- very little information should be shared solely through the narrator. (If you need help with character development, check out OTMM: 5 Tips for Character Development in Fiction.)

Giving information in a first person narrative:

When a reader is reading a narrative in first person your reader will grow based on your main character. As your main character learns through experience, whether it be from the dialogue of another character or through an action they take, the reader will learn as well. It's simply important to remember that actions prompt dialogue. It's unlikely a pair of character will randomly begin discussing events from the past. For that reason, there needs to be an action (something occurs) that prompts the characters to engage in discussion. This allows readers to become interested in the event and ultimately want to know more about what's going on. If there's no action, it simply becomes more boring dialogue. Writing lore is about finding interesting ways to convey sometimes boring text.

Conveying Lore and Backstory:

Conveying information, and writing lore can be tough. Particularly if your universe spans through centuries of detailed information. For that reason, it's important that the reader have enough information to stand on as the story begins- perhaps a short dialogue, whether it be internally or between two characters- or through simple observation. Once the reader has enough information to be engaged in the text, you can begin filtering in information about your world as the plot advances. Simply put, you shouldn't have pages and pages of lore filled text at the beginning of your narrative. This is bad for two reasons: 1) It's boring, and 2) the readers has nothing interesting left to learn.

Writing lore asks that readers grow with your characters. By doing this, you create a steady stream of interesting information that will keep them engaged for the full text. Simply choose a point of view, give your readers enough information to start, and begin trickling in information through actions, observations, dialogue, and pesky plot twists.


OTMM Bonus Episode 4

*This is a bonus series episode that takes place elsewhere in the OTMM universe. It occurs between OTMM episodes 17 and 18. It is a bonus to the main plot and is not needed in order to understand the main events.

Gower and Chomper stood at the entrance of a long tunnel. They had been hunkered down in hiding since the eruption of cheers and screaming that applauded in its depths. Several small trackers stood at their feet.
Gower finally grew some nerve and stepped over to the edge of the doorway. His dark purple skin and short round frame made him much more difficult to see than Chomper’s pale green hue.

Chomper followed closely behind bumping suddenly against the series of sharp spikes that lined Gower’s outer shell.

“Ouch!” He hissed, giving Gower a slight push.

“SHH! What are you doing?” Gower replied giving him a dirty look before turning his attention back to the doorway, “The trackers seem to think they're in there…”

Chomper, who stood slightly taller than Gower, leaned over his partner and looked.

“What do you think we should do?”

“Duh! We have to report this back to the boss! What if the humans are somehow in league with the petal-dwellers?”

Chomper snorted sarcastically, “That’s not possible.”

“Why? Why is it not possible?” Gower exclaimed definitively.

“Because, they're humans, that’s why. They only know one thing, obey and be eaten. That’s it.”

“Have you forgotten about Tel’dar?” Gower said looking back into the tunnel, “idiot.”

Chomper shook his head and decided to let it go.

A slight pitter-patter in the water caught the duo’s attention. They looked behind them, but nothing was there. Gower breathed loudly while Chomper’s constant shaking sent ripples in the water around their feet. Without warning a long dart came whizzing past sticking into the wall beside them with a thud. Out of the corner of their eye, they could see two tall forms speeding toward them.

“Petal-dwellers!” Chomper screamed, turning to flee. Gower did the same. Both knew their kind didn’t have the speed to escape, but it was something they had to do. They ran as fast as their short, stubby legs would carry them. The trackers, at only nearly a foot in height, took off mindlessly with blazing speed.

Step by step they constantly looked to one another for confidence and comfort. Finally, they stopped just under a small beam of light that came travelling from a crack in the ceiling. They figured they had made into Camp Kilja’s domain.

Nothing was behind them.

They breathed harshly, rapidly looking in all directions around them.

“They're gone!” Chomper said.


Gower shook his head, “No…. they don’t fight in the open. They're waiting for us to get into a darker area. Run! Avoid the shade!  

Conducting Free Long Tail Keyword Research for Content Writers

Image from seomoz.org


Long tail keywords are a cornerstone of any online marketing effort. With larger websites dominating the market for primary keywords, the little man has to rely on more focused search queries in order to get a piece of the pie. While many people are interested in the process of long tail keywords, their search for information is typically bombarded by paid services. There is, however, a way for small business owners to conduct free long tail keyword research. Let’s take a look:

Google Adwords Keyword Tool is your best friend when conducting free long tail keyword research. While the tool is primarily designed for Google Adwords marketing efforts, it can also be used to determine the general number of searches a long tail keyword gets per month. This information is invaluable when determining whether or not a marketer should focus on a particular keyword phrase.

The keyword tool is excellent, but what if you simply can’t think of anything to write about? That’s where Google suggest comes in. Every time you conduct a new search, Google automatically begins suggesting relevant terms for your search. This is an excellent way for researchers to turn a general topic into a more specific marketing effort and it’s one of the best forms of free long tail keyword research tactics available.

Having competition is never a good thing. In a perfect world, we would rank at the top of Google’s search results for every keyword we focus. Unfortunately, it’s not, and ranking highly for any keyword is a lot of work. However, there is one good aspect to having a little competition—there’s always someone to learn from. There’s always a website out there that’s gaining the type of traffic you would love to have, so simply examine the competition—the keywords they focus and the way they optimize their page- in order to gain a better understating of your market.

With so many tools available to your disposal, using paid tools to conduct long tail keyword research might be a waste of your money. However, time is a different issue all together. Writing articles is a serious investment of time, and some bloggers/web developers would rather spend their time promoting the content they already have rather than writing fresh, new content. In a world where both are necessary in order to keep a steady flow of visitors to your site, it’s possible that hiring a freelance writer is an excellent option for you and your small business.

Interested in long term keyword information? http://www.wordstream.com/long-tail-keywords



Content Mill List: The Good and the Bad.

A good content mill list can really make the difference between a writer wasting their time or actually making a little money. Now, when I say “making a little money,” I mean very little money. Unless you want to invest a ridiculous amount of time and effort into writing for these sites, don’t plan on paying your rent with them. However, if you simply enjoy writing, it’s a fun hobby that can buy you lunch every once and awhile.

Yahoo! Voices

At the time of my writing, Yahoo! Voices was actually Associated Content. I wrote on and off here for a couple of years. Because I was still in college, and this was the first content mill I had come across, I was very excited when I realized there was actually potential to make a little money writing small articles. Yahoo! Voices has several options available to writers—you can submit your work for upfront payment, or you can submit it for performance payments only. You can also limit the usage rights so that you can retain the right to publish elsewhere granted you don't submit for upfront payment. Yahoo! Voices is a fun site to start out on. I actually enjoyed my time writing there. They have a nifty little leveling up system that makes a poor attempt to make the writer feel like they're accomplishing something, but in the end, it’s actually kind of fun to see your account grow over time. Performance payments are typically around $1.50 per 1000 views, so you’ll more than likely only build pennies here and there from these kinds of bonuses. Upfront payments usually ranged from $3-$5.

Verdict: Yahoo! Voices is a fun site for those who look at content writing as a hobby only. Yes, you’ll make a few dollars here and there, and no, it’s not a scam. However, Yahoo! Voices does take advantage of the fact that writers are desperate for work these days. With a little more effort and some networking, your articles could be worth substantially more.  



Helium

Helium has changed dramatically over time. During my time writing for content mills, I mostly wrote for Yahoo! Voices, but ventured over to Helium every once in a while to change things up. At the time, Helium only paid performance bonuses, but a quick look at their website has shown that they have changed their platform up a bit. They now offer exclusive assignments, a marketplace for freelance writers, performance bonuses, and incentive payments.

Verdict: Several years ago I would told you to avoid Helium as a writing platform, but it has changed so much that it’s difficult for me to give an honest assessment. If you’re interested in trying it, you can sign up here:



Demand Studios

Demand Studios was the first content mill I found that you had to apply to in order to accept jobs and submit content. At first, I thought I had struck gold. They offered $15 per article and you got to write for sites such as ehow and Livestrong. However, the site managed to diminish greatly over time. Eventually they changed their platform and the vast number of jobs that were once available seemingly vanished. I quit writing for them once it got to the point where finding assignments was more work than writing the actual content.
Verdict: Now, it seems you must become qualified just to gain access to certain areas of the site. It’s possible that Demand Studios could be for you if you want to work a little harder and gain a little more cash than sites like Yahoo! Voices. I plan to do a little exploring of Demand Studios in the future to see what this update is all about.


Constant Content

Constant Content is my favorite content site to write for. You’re able to write freely about mostly anything and place it on their market place for interested buyers. There’s only one catch—their super picky editorial team. In order to get an article accepted in their system, you must look over your article with a fine-toothed comb to ensure there are no grammatical errors. I’m serious- one comma out place? Rejected. However, if you can get past this little bump in the road, there’s actually potential to make some decent money here. Articles typically sell anywhere from $10 to $70 based on your own professional opinion—you set your own prices. There are also public and private requests for content.

Verdict: If you have excellent grammatical skills, Constant Content is a content mill that could pay off for you. The only downside is the unreliability of sales. I had an articles sit for over a year once before it finally sold. You can apply here:



Content mill lists are everywhere. A quick search will allow you to perhaps discover a few that aren’t listed here, or gain a fresh perspective on what works and what doesn’t. It’s really up to you to explore these sites and see if there’s any money making potential. Or, you can simply start your own site and write content for yourself. The potential for writers to make a living is out there; it’s just really hard to find. 

OTMM Bonus Episode 3

*This is a bonus series episode that takes place elsewhere in the OTMM universe. It occurs between OTMM episodes 15 and 16. It is a bonus to the main plot and is not needed in order to understand the main events.

Galund walked as quickly as he could to the top of the stairs. Once at the top, he reached out and opened a large wooden door. He knew he had taken too long.

“Galund! Where are you!”

The Gatekeeper was furious. As a small reptilian who had been placed as a squire to the Gatekeeper of Camp Kilja, Galund loathed the precarious position that those in power and deemed for him.

The Gatekeeper, who apparently had no other name, was a viscous brute of sheer terror.  He spotted him immediately upon opening the door. There wasn’t a time yet that Galund hadn’t been terrified of the beast’s monstrous size and strength. The largest amongst the Rotundrian Elite, only a handful of high ranking officials and the high kings themselves were more powerful. Getting on his bad sad wasn't an option.

“There you are you little runt! Where have you been! Did you bring what I asked?”

Galund began to speak, but wasn’t able to gather the words.

“Well!”

Finally he forced a mutter, “No, sir…”

With incredible swiftness, the Gatekeeper turned and launched a large wooden table across the room. Instinctively, Galund dove on the floor covering his head.

It had been a while since he had last seen the Gatekeeper this worked up. The bulging muscles popped from every corner of his green body, he stood over seven feet tall and had long, straight green hair that hung from the mane running down the center of his back.

Galund on the other hand was vastly different. He had eyes as big as oranges with tiny arms and legs leading to large hands and feet with long fingers and toes. Disproportionate and awkward, his race, the Kentori, were commonly used as house slaves.

 “Tell me why not!” The Gatekeeper demanded.

“I-I- They- Well, they-“

“Out with it, Galund!”

“They said it’s simply too dangerous,” he took a deep breath and shut his eyes expecting the impending rage that was to follow.

“Too dangerous! For who!”

Galund didn’t know how to answer. The Gatekeeper inhaled deeply and looked out the open window toward the sand flats in the distance.

“They have no other choice but to expand these encampments. Diggers have been digging for months now, and what’s happened? Kilja’s moron brother and a slave boy are on the loose.”

Galund looked around nervously. He knew no one in camp was supposed to know about Tel’Dar’s death, nor the escaped human.

“Should I take them another message, sir?” Galund prayed his boss would say yes so that he may be free for a few moments.

“No…”

Galund let out a silent sigh.

The Gatekeeper continued, “It’s no use. They refuse to dig in the tunnels for fear of the petal-dwellers. I don’t know what they’re so scared of. In open battle, those flowers crumble like a daisy in the wind.”

“He wanted to tell you that their main concern is Chief Ha’Zakz, sir.”

The Gatekeeper let out a sudden, “Ha! That old bat? Sure, once upon a time he was a real threat, capable of harnessing the energy of life forces around him to transform into a real nightmare! But he’s years passed his prime…. They age nearly as bad as human’s do, and Ha’Zakz is bound to be nearing the end of his life. That is, if he hasn’t already.”


Galund was intrigued with the Chief, but didn’t want to admit it to the Gatekeeper. “So do we go into the tunnels after we confirm his death?”

The Gatekeeper snorted and replied, “It’s no use. Once the Chief dies, his powers will be transferred to a Chief in waiting. There’s always going to be one like him… he’s best avoided if possible.”

Galund looked through the window as well. With Kentori eyesight, he could see for miles. He was still trying to shake the scene he had last seen through the window- a scene he had decided to keep to himself. A human, dressed in black, beheading the overseer’s brother.

“Well…” The Gatekeeper said, “Get out!”

Galund gave a quick, “Yes, sir,” stepping outside and began making his way down the stairs.

“Somethings,” he thought to himself as he walked, “are best kept unsaid.”

How to Make Yourself Work When You Don't Want to


There are a number of professions that allow people to go to work for eight hours, clock out, and go home. Unfortunately, many of us don't have one of these professions and must continue to find a way to put in extra hours even when we make it home for the evening. Professions like teaching that require intensive planning, grading, and otherwise simple worrying causes millions of Americans to go to bed without having done one recreational activity for the day. Regardless, this extra work must be done. So how do you learn how to make yourself work when you don't want to? The following tips should get you started in the right direction.

Separate Your Hobby from Your Work

Have a desktop computer with two monitors? Unplug one. If you're like me, you're incapable of focusing on two things at one time. Running Microsoft Word on one monitor and a movie on the other might take a edge off the boredom, but you're really just killing your productivity. Focus on completing the work you need to finish first so you can sit down and enjoy your movie properly. 

Acknowledge Your Procrastination  

They say the first step to solving a problem is admitting you actually have a problem. If you're someone who is notorious for putting things off, noticing when you're passively avoiding work is step one. People only put things off when there is room to procrastinate. If the due date for your assignment is still a ways off, force yourself to take one mini step in the direction of the completion of your project. This small start will ease the stress of the work load and allow you to complete your work at a steady and healthy pace.

Make Sure Family and Friends are on Board

Family and friends can be the number one obstacle to overcome when working on your so-called "free time." Most of the people in your life won't understand what your profession entails like you do. Make sure they know that, at certain times, you need to get work finished so that you may spend quality time with them.

Work on the Go

Yes, it seems counter productive to work on the go, but sometimes you can accomplish much more than you would think during small periods of downtime throughout the day. Take this article as example. This article was written on and off on my iPhone throughout small periods of downtime. Whether you're riding in a car, waiting on a phone call, or sitting at the doctor's office, your mobile device is your best friend when it comes to professions that involves writing or other presentations.

Learning how to make yourself work is one of the most difficult tasks one can undertake. After all, is it called work for a reason. Sometimes it simply takes some grit of the teeth and severe willpower, but with a little practice, you can condition yourself to do nearly anything. 

Which Subject Should I Teach? Why English is so Different.


It seems as though high school graduates fall into into two categories when they move on in their education. Either they have their heart set on one particular field, or they honestly have no idea what they will be doing. From my experience, these two mind sets have one thing in common: they'll both likely change their mind about their field at one point or another. 

For those who settle on teaching, there's an entirely new dilemma altogether: which subject should I teach? As a high school English teacher, I'm here to tell you first hand: there's English, and then there's everything else. 

Your Choices are Limited

Most high schools don't exactly have the most impressive selection when it comes to the courses they offer. This leaves potential educators with a rather limited spectrum of choices when considering a field they would like to teach. While there are certain electives like automotive and carpentry which are usually offered, most would-be teachers choose between the core content: math, history, science, and English.

What Makes English so much Different?

English educators are asked to teach an entirely different mindset from those who teach in other disciplines. Math, science, and history are all very objective: 2+2 will always equal 4; the Earth will always revolve around the sun (I hope!); and cells will always have a nucleus at their center. The point is this: these subjects rely heavily on factual recall; English does not.

English relies on students to see the world in shades of grey rather than black and white. There are a million and one ways to start an essay with most of them being no more "right" than the other. As an English teacher, you're asked to teach students who are naturally poor writers (a skill that takes talent) to become exceptional. The ability to teach subjectiveness is a skill one must possess in order to be a good English teacher. 

Are you saying I shouldn't teach English?

Absolutely not. If you have a passion for writing and are able to think outside the box with your instructional practices, go right ahead. My only advice is this: if you want to teach students facts about the civil war then quickly grade a multiple choice exam, teach history. If you want to teach students how to examine the civil war arguing the perspective of both the north and the south, then grade a stack of essays, teach English.

Either way, you'll end up teaching history. 

Finding a Job as an English Major



Let's be honest- finding work as an English major sucks. You're constantly reminded about how dead the field is by everyone you speak to, and the phrase, "starving artist," crosses your mind far more than you would like. Fortunately, English majors do have options when it comes to employment. But on the other hand, many of these fields are either difficult to get into, or require a serious self-starter mentality.

Fields that Employ English Majors:

Individuals and companies alike need writers. It's finding clients that don't already have established writers to work with that's the problem. If you're interested in technical writing, copywriting, SEO, or other forms of dedicated writing, it's likely that employers in your area need these kinds of services... which brings me to my next point...

All Permanent Writing Gigs Require Experience 

It's the chicken and the egg all over again. How can I get work if I have no experience? How do I get experience if I have no work? This is where freelancing comes into play. By advertising your services to organizations in the area, you give yourself an opportunity to build a portfolio that allows employers to see your potential. However, many employers would rather see you have experience in a related field through an internship. It's possibly worth your while finding an internship rather than throwing up a website and diving in feet first.

Conclusions About English Majors

You'll spend a lot of time questioning how you spend your time. Would it be better to seek permanent work, find an internship, or throw up a website and dive into freelance? If you're the creative type who wants to wow the world with your words, choose a path and stick to it. There are options. Be determined to find success with what you love- you'll get there eventually.

So! In order to help you out with this dilemma, I've decided to compile a number of websites that I think are useful when searching for employment:


I think this site! If you think you have what it takes to write excellent copy, connect with others, and make big impressions in a big way, you should check this out. This site hosts a number of resources that are ripe for the picking.


Interested in taking the self-made route? If so, blogging could be a lucrative field for you. However, take it from me when I say that promoting and writing for a blog is more than full-time work. If you want to be successful, it takes a lot of time, dedication, an interesting niche, and a great perspective. ProBlogger addresses everything you need to know about this and more!


Other than just having an awesome name, this post does an excellent job explaining what one must do to get into technical writing. Some people actually enjoy sitting down and simplifying long, boring instructions into more cohesive, comprehensible text. If you're one of these said people, take a gander at that site there! (I'm from Eastern Ky and reserve the right to use the word "gander.") 


I've been to this post more than once. It gives hope to English majors everywhere that maybe, just possibly, you didn't make a stupid decision when you decided that your heart was set on writing. This post discusses the possibility of pursuing a career not directly related to writing. See for yourself!

Now! Here's the thing. You can read, and read, and read, but nothing finds a job better than actually getting out finding one. Call people, e-mail contacts, search the good ol' jobs listings and apply, apply, apply. 

....Or just write the world's next best selling novel... that works, too. 



Game of Thrones: The Red Wedding-- A Writer's Perspective


Sunday night's episode of Game of Thrones sent fans into a frenzy. And while I will refrain from discussing some of the more specific details of the red wedding (who bites the dust), I am interested in the way George R. R. Martin engages his audience in story.

I won't lie. As a viewer, I was highly pissed off. Lifting my jaw from the floor was the most work I had done all day. And yet, as a writer, I was interested. Character, whether it be love or hate for that character, is what drives people to view the television screen or turn the next page. It's the conflict that these characters take part in that ultimately makes us root for them or against them.

Unfortunately, the fact that the hero nearly always saves the day has left us a wee bit sanitized. We always feel as though the hero will find a way out of sticky situations. The Red Wedding proved otherwise. Martin has successfully developed a universe where your favorite character might bite the big one on the next page. It's this constant fear for your character's life that sets the Game of Thrones universe in motion. One more page turn, one more minute, and perhaps your character loses the battle.

I knew something was coming because I watched the episode late. The internet was stirring with talk about the Red Wedding.

And it still got me.

I STILL went to bed having felt like someone I actually knew had just died.

Regardless, as much as we don't want to admit it, that's good writing. George R. R. Martin is a wizard who has the ability to manifest real people from the page and his willingness to kill these people that sets him apart from the rest.

5 Tips for Character Development in Fiction

Whether you're creating fiction or reading it, character development in fiction is what turns the cogs and makes interest happen. In order for fiction to capture the minds of those who read it, an author has to devote a serious amount of time to the construction, and continual change of a character, or set of characters. As a high school English teacher, I know first hand that many young writers struggle with the development of character. It's for that reason that I've put together the following list of things to consider when developing new characters.

Every Action has a Reaction

In order to truly be able to implement your character, you need to understand how your character would act in a variety of situations. Keep in mind, your character, as far as yourself and your readers are concerned, are living breathing people. Imagine your character's reaction if he/she were to accidentally run upon a snake. Would they stay calm and collected, or would they lose their cool? Knowing your characters well will shine through in your writing.

Physical Detail- Don't Overdo it.

Yes, it's important that your readers gain a mental image of your character, but you don't need to dedicate an entire chapter to your character's appearance. Give your readers some interesting information and move on. Every one needs a face to put with a name, but a sentence for every freckle isn't needed. 

Flaws are Required

Character development in fiction requiresone thing above all else- make certain that your character, or characters, aren't perfect. In order for your character to take part in an interesting conflict, your character needs flaws. If he/she is perfect, they will solve their problem quickly and move on. Unfortunately, so will readers. Character flaw allows readers to sympathize for your character and watch them grow.

Avoid the Stereotypical

It's difficult, but avoiding the stereotypical is a must. Creating and developing unique characters hinges on your ability to be creative. It's OK to garner ideas from other sources- I get them all the time- but a character should not be ridiculously similar to another from a similar genre. Use these ideas to form a base and twist them until they become living, breathing people that are yours and yours only.

Don't Start at Rock Bottom

Readers won't be interested in your story if your character has nothing to lose or gain as a result of the conflict. For example, if you're going to start your character as a billionaire who has the perfect life, a story about that character winning the lottery won't mean a whole lot. Likewise, if your character already has a miserable life to begin with, one more problem won't interest readers a great deal. Just be sure to balance your character's lifestyle with the conflict at hand so that your story is of interest to readers. 

Character development in fiction can be a very interesting and fun experience, but if you want people to read your work, it has to be done correctly. Develop characters that people remember and characters that are specific to their personal experience with your story. Who knows, you may just create lifelong fans.

Why Do People Write Sci-Fi?


I'm a nerd.

There I said it.

So, why do people write sci-fi? People write sci-fi for every reason under the sun, but none more important than the reason listed above: personal preference. Some writers enjoy writing mushy love tales that cause young girls to daydream about the ridiculously perfect protagonist. Some might sit down and write a story about a bomb being diffused at just the right moment. Others might turn off the lights and contemplate the plot of the perfect murder mystery.

And then there are people like me.

Dragons, elves, swords, bows, wizards, lizards, ghosts, and superhuman powers… yes, I am that guy.

I assume other people write sci-fi for the same reason I like to write sci-fi—it’s just the genre. I grew up playing games like Final Fantasy and World of Warcraft. I immersed myself in films such as Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. I developed this attitude that constituted one simple principle: real life is boring and fantasy worlds aren’t.

I’m also a high school teacher. I’m the teacher who answers questions about Magic the Gathering, or has discussions with my kids about the newest RPG coming out.

Yep, I'm definitely that guy.

I'm the guy who makes it through the mundane by reading about spell slingers, soul stealers, and dragon slayers. Essentially, I make a hobby out of making sure that world I live in is the cooler than the one that’s actually around me.

Why people write sci-fi really just boils down to one undeniable concept: people write sci-fi because they want to share this awesome fantasy world with everyone else. So, if you would like to be “that guy” along with me, take part in OTMM’s sci-fi writing guide, read OTMM, and develop your own amazing adventure.


The OTMM Sci-Fi writing guide will be posted in installments over the next few days. Episode 13 of OTMM will also be released on Friday, May 31st

OTMM Bonus Episode 2

*This is a bonus series episode that takes place elsewhere in the OTMM universe. It occurs between OTMM episodes 10 and 11. It is a bonus to the main plot and is not needed in order to understand the main events.

Kilja held up the severed head of Tel'dar in one hand. He lifted it slowly in front of his face to get a better look. The entire head, both front and back, had a thin layer of dust and dirt. His eyes had swelled nearly out of their sockets and his tongue extended from the mouth and curled several inches to his chin.

Gower and Chomper stood nearby slightly swaying back and forth looking to the ground. They knew better than look into the eyes of their master.

Kilja took in a deep breath-- his chest expanded by nearly a foot-- then he exhaled and dropped the mangled head to the floor.

Without a word, he sat behind a large desk, his tail curling around all four legs near the bottom. Eventually, Gower broke the silence, "He was your brother, my lord. I'm sorry we had to..."

Kilja pierced wildly with fiery eyes. "I care not for my brother!" He exclaimed. Gower hushed immediately.

"This..," he muttered, "This...!" He began to get a little louder, "This is a real problem!" In an instant, his tail uncurled and whipped the head from the floor. Gower and Chomper immediately moved to avoid the hit.

"And you say no one was around when you found him?" He growled. The duo shook their heads.

"Tell me again!" He leaned forward shouting in rage.

Chomper started to speak, but decided against it. Gower shot him a dirty look before noticing this his master was growing quite impatient. "My lord... He was laying on his stomach in a small crater out toward dig site number 12."

"And the slave boy?"

"Not there..."

"And the pod....?"

Gower hushed for a moment before timidly replying, "Empty, sir..."

"Empty! Of course it was!" He slammed his fist upon the table sending random items flying in all directions. "You listen to me! You leave this room and you find that boy! And so help me, if anyone finds out that Tel'Dar might have died to a human, that my flesh and blood was bested by some worthless piece of flesh, I will kill you both myself!"

"Yes, my lord!" Gower muttered before pushing Chomper out the door.

Silence was finally among them. Gower looked to Chomper and took in a deep breath, "Whew! That was almost really bad!"

Gower turned his head as though he was going to leave before turning and violently pushing Chomper down the stair.

His body bounced and he made random squeaks and squeals as every limb mangled themselves against the steps. Laying disoriented at the bottom, he screamed, "What was that for!"

"Next time, you're talking to him! You never talk to him!"

Chomper squeamishly stood to his feet. "No! I'm not stupid! So... what are we going to tell the camp about Tel'Dar? They'll know soon enough unless we cover it up."

Gower thought for a moment, "We'll tell him the Stingers got him...."

Chomper reached up and scratched his head, "You think they'll buy it?"

Gower sighed, "They will... They're probably going to be so depressed that he's gone..."

Next Step: Episode 11: Species Redefined