No One Would Make a Coconut Fluoride Rinse: A writer’s frustration with finding the right words

A Distractions & Subtractions post

So, I have this sort of condition….

It’s nothing overly serious – nothing requiring medical treatment or that’s even been officially diagnosed.  More than anything, it makes for something of an odd party trick in response to yet another game folks may play at a party.

The blindfolded, guess-what-food-I’ve-just-put-in-your-mouth game.

Yes, this does, indeed, relate to writing.  Everything does with me, dontcha know?

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Writing in the (and What You) Know

(Or, How to Write With Confidence When You’re Not a Subject Matter Expert)

A Distractions & Subtractions post for Rarasaur

The most irritating piece of writing I’ve ever heard first came to me in my youth:

Write what you know.

I was probably about ten years old.

Perhaps you can see the dilemma: what ten-year-old actually knows anything?

The only thing I knew was that I wanted to write, I wanted to write the sort of story I liked to read, and that the sort of stories I liked reading concerned matters that were in no way similar to my unremarkable, ten-year-old life.

My now being 34 years old hasn’t really changed this fact.

And yet, “What what you know” remains one of the most fundamental (and incidentally, fundamentally misunderstood) pieces of writing advice out there.  It can often paralyze writers with doubt that their work lacks credibility, authenticity, and truth.

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Writing Inside the (Out)Lines – Redux: A Creative Departure

(Or, Why Much of What You Plan in Your Outline Will Get Changed Along the Way)

A Distractions & Subtractions post for Rule of Stupid

Writing a novel is an endeavour of many emotions:

  • The excitement at having an idea take root in your head.
  • The pride you feel every time you sit down at the computer and add new words.
  • The anxiety that maybe you won’t be able to capture your idea in words as clearly as it plays out in your head.
  • The satisfaction of when all the plot pieces finally fall into place in your mind, and you’re finally convinced that yes, this story works.
  • And then, after months or even years of dedication, when the novel is finally completed, a satisfaction of a different sort that results from having successfully achieved a difficult, long-term goal.

But sometimes, this latter satisfaction comes prematurely; sometimes, satisfaction #2 and satisfaction #1 commingle, until they end up one in the same.

That is to say, sometimes, having devised a fully functional plot in one’s head (or on paper, or on the screen) feels like such a sense of accomplishment, the subsequent desire to actually write the novel disappears.

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(Writing) Location, Location

(Or, Why I Can’t Write in Coffee Shops, in a series of confessions)

A Distractions & Subtractions post

There are only two places that I ever do any writing:

  1. On my bed, lying prone, or
  2. Sitting at my dining table

As both of these pieces of furniture are in my apartment, I guess, technically, they count as only one writing place.

Allow me to start again:

There is only one place that I’ll ever do any writing….

This is not to say I’ll only take writing notes at home.  Rather, I’ve done this at work, on transit, on the sidewalk, in the grocery line, on my bike (not while in motion, of course; safety first), and a multitude of other locales.  Indeed, it’s my willingness note-write anywhere (and everywhere) that allows me to write-write anything at all.

But of that write-writing – the actual construction of sentences and paragraphs, foreshadowing and figurative speech – at my humble abode is the only place I can make the magic happen.

Whether I like it or not.

Which I didn’t always….

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Living an Artist’s Life in a Workaday World

(A How-To)

A Distractions & Subtractions post for Dianne Gray

It’s hard to know whether there’s been an era more detrimental to living the life of an artist than the current one.

The temptation is certainly strong to say there hasn’t been – that the Ancient Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians, the Renaissance (wo)men, the Elizabethans, and the Romantics with their sculpture and architecture, their mosaics and genre scenes, their busts and paintings, their music, literature and frescos, their theatre, and their landscape-focused writing, painting, and composing that seem to burst from the pages of history texts all revered their artists.

Maybe they did.

But perhaps their artists suffered the historical equivalent to what many artists face today – that is to say, a stifling daily grind of the working world with all its attendant hassles that is the sworn enemy of creativity.

There’s the commuting, the budgets, deadlines, overtime, stagnation, trying to do more with less, spending more hours a week at work than not at work, and the constant competition for more, better, and now that exemplifies a consumer-based economy.

All of these practicalities of life leave the modern artistically-inclined especially feeling drained, de-animated, and deprived of the space, reflection, and deliberation required to let loose their imaginations and give their creative musings a tangible form.

Such is no different for national/international award winning Australian author Dianne Gray, whose writing subtraction speaks wholly to this artist/workaday dichotomy many of us struggle to reconcile.

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Writing to the End of My Rope

A Distractions & Subtractions post

A/N: I’m making my way through my Distractions & Subtractions posts.  I only have four more to go after this: two for me and two for my blog readers and followers.

It’s not too late for other readers/followers to submit their own writing subtractions.  I’ll write a blog post for anyone who does.  Who doesn’t want a blog post written in their honour.

Today’s post is one of my own subtractions.  Coming up next week: a post for national/international award winning Australian author Dianne Gray.


If you were to visualize yourself in the act of writing, what would it look?

I’ve written about the power of visualization a fair bit here in the past few weeks: about how I every day visualize the sentences and paragraphs I plan to write that night.  About how some personalized visualization can help induce an altered state – can help trick the mind into believing that computer time spend working on your work-in-progress isn’t just more staring at a screen after a long day of doing just that at work.

Someone visualizing him-/herself writing might call up that same imagine of being bend over a computer keyboard, typing up a storm.

Someone else might envision him-/herself writing longhand in an elegant notebook, or frantically scratching down a lightning flash idea or line of dialogue on the back of a grocery store receipt.

Yet another person might see the scenes of his/her WIP unspooling before his/her mind’s eye, like the frames of a movie.  Someone else still might imagine all of the above.

For me, my images of myself in the act of writing are perhaps a little more esoteric:

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Different (Key)Strokes for the Same Folks

(Or, How To Come Home After a Long Day of Writing on the Computer, and Write Some More)

A Distractions & Subtractions post for Eric J. Baker

The computer age hasn’t been kind to writers.

Don’t get me wrong – in some respects, it’s been fantastic for writers: it allows us to use modern software with automatic formatting, connect with other writers all over the world via blogs, articles, and social media, and conduct research much more efficiently. (Does anyone even remember research of yore, using the card catalogue?)

Unfortunately, the computer age has giving comparable benefits to all other disciplines as well.  As such, computers have wormed their way into almost every aspect of modern life, not the least of which is our paid work.

Such is the subtraction of horror/dark sci-fi/supernatural writer and satirical essayist Eric J. Baker.  Eric actually works as a writer – a writer and editor of corporate documents – which right there screams massive quantities of time spend online.

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Writing Inside the (Out)Lines

A Distractions & Subtractions post

A/N: Check out my Distractions & Subtractions page to read related posts or to submit your own writing subtractions.  I’m writing a blog post for everyone who makes a submission.

Today’s post is one of my own subtractions.  Coming up next week: a post for horror/dark sci-fi/supernatural writer and satirical essayist Eric J. Baker.


There are many different types of writers producing many different types of writing in many different ways.

Yet, if you examine this creature known as “the writer” at its broadest taxonomical subdivision, you’ll find that most of them can be categorized into one of two main groups:



Pantsers write by the “seat of their pants”.  I’ve also heard pantsers referred to as “discovery writers” – seemingly a euphemism to make what can nonetheless be a perfectly orderly process sound less disorganized.

Plotters make outlines and do pre-writing, sometimes in massive quantities.  I’ve never heard of any other name for plotters, although that two can be interpreted as one of two extremes: Plot, as in a cunning, sexy, leather-clad precision.  Or plot, as in a burial plot.

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Closing the Dictionary on the Definition of “Writing”

(Or, How to Write When You Can’t, Aren’t, or Don’t Want to be Writing)

A Distractions & Subtractions post for P.A. Wilson

I “wrote” this blog post during a three-day, writing-free recovery weekend after having worked eight days straight plus overtime.

When it comes to long-distance, solo driving, there are two things I know for certain:

  1. It’s a great opportunity to practice your singing, and
  2. It’s the mental equivalent to running a marathon.

This latter point is particularly true when it comes to treacherous, northern mountain highways with a high risk of sudden slides, snow, and wildlife, where night time comes quickly, and the route is more winding than a century’s old river bed.  Yes, I’m looking at you, Coquihalla Highway (BC Highway #5).

Years ago when I still worked in the natural resource conservation field, I had a job in a government-run park in rural southern Ontario located about four hours away from Toronto – a distance most of my colleagues and considered too long to drive on any weekends that weren’t long ones, no matter how much we yearned for bustle of the big city and to visit family and friends.

Vancouver-based thriller/mystery/fantasy author P.A. (Perry) Wilson might beg to disagree that such a distance being too long for weekly travel.  Once a week, for her work, she is forced to drive 10 hours round trip in a single day, part of said journey taking place on the above-lamented Highway#5.

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Always On My Mind (Time Permitting)

Okay, picture it: it’s 7am, and you have to leave for the day within the next half an hour.

Willie would be so disappointed in me.

Willie would be so disappointed in me.

What essentials do you bring with you to get you through the day?

A bag lunch?  Your phone?  Your mp3 player if that’s separate from your phone?  Something to read?  Any of the other following useful items:

  • A pocket knife
  • An extra pair of socks
  • Sunglasses
  • Legwarmers
  • Rain gear
  • Ibuprofen
  • Water
  • Eyeglass cleaner solution
  • A handkerchief
  • Lip balm
  • A USB drive?

Almost all of the above-mentioned are things I carry with me on a daily basis.  Even sunglasses, which I wear all year round, and legwarmers, which are a must in Vancouver, for once the sun goes down, the temperature plummets with it, even in the summer.

But perhaps the very most important thing I pack for a day away from home – something that’s not on the above list due to its lack of material form – is a piece of a story (usually my novel-in-progress, but not necessarily) to think about over the course of the day.

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