Must all writers set goals?


We writers are all different to an extent, just as each individual human is a unique being. Why then, must we all set about our writing in a like manner? Must we each strive to write a certain number of words/pages/chapters each day/week/month? Is it necessary to put ourselves under such pressure, to become a slave to our trade? The answer is, yes and no. For the very reason I stated above. We are unlike each other. Different things motivate us in different ways, so why should we all pound out 1,000 words each day like robots on a production line?

I am a project person. If my goal is to mow the yard, I begin that task. It may take me an hour or two, or it may take me two days. Sometimes, pulling up weeds seems more important than mowing them down. Pulling weeds is exciting at times. At other times, it’s a back breaking chore. Racing around the yard kicking up dust clouds and throwing grass clipping to the wind can be exhilarating or frustrating. We all are interrupted by one thing or another and get annoyed when we do not reach our goal at a set time or place. Is it really worth the pressure?

I’m not a fanatic about anything. I don’t look at a project as requiring 35 rounds with the mower or doing five rounds before taking a water break, nor do I set a goal of finishing before noon. Sometimes I do the trim work with the weed eater before I bring in the heavy equipment. If I miss a blade of grass here and there, I look upon it as giving my yard a little character unlike my neighbor across the street whose yard looks like a painted picture without a flower or bush out of place.

I am proud of my yard. I plant it to please myself, not my neighbors. If there is a weed here or there, so what. A weed is merely a plant in a spot one does not want it. And, I hate habits. They are such mindless things, especially for us old folks who cannot remember if we did something a moment or so ago. They lead us down tedious paths to where we fail to stop and taste the flavor. Isn’t it grand we are not a line of flawless robots?

Get out of that rut you’re in. Relax and let the words flow instead of forcing them onto the paper/screen. Stop at 500 words. That’s if cannot write unless you are under pressure. Cut your writing time 15 minutes short or continue writing 15 minutes longer.

I began writing two decades ago as a form of therapy, to find out what was inside me. I continue today, because, I replenish my soul each day by reading ten times more than I write about what’s in other people’s souls. If the day comes when I no longer fine new avenues to explore, I will discontinue my writing.

I’ve said it before and I’ll probably say it again. If it feels good, do it. How one achieves their writing is not chiseled in stone. Don’t be afraid to try something new or even something old. Everything about writing is relative.



Acronyms and Clichés

Keep it Simple Stupid-KISS-is an acronym I learned a long time ago. Don’t ask me where or when. Probably when I joined the Navy and began my self-educational program over a half-century ago and which I have not yet completed. Anyway, I’m going to give you my opinion on how to KISS when writing, if I am not sidetracked along the way.

This morning I began surfing the internet to find the latest on clichés (a phrase or word that has lost its original effectiveness or power from overuse) and acronyms (a word formed from the initials or other parts of several words, e.g. “NATO,” from the initial letters of “North Atlantic Treaty Organization). If this habit of me giving definitions of words irritates you, please accept my apologies. I like to make sure we are on the same page.

First off, what is simple to one is not so simple to another. The first site I landed on did not have much to say about acronyms or clichés. It was a group of professors discussing someone’s review of an essay on the fifth edition of the American Heritage Dictionary. More specifically about rules and how they change from time to time and person to person.

Here is one person’s post.

If a student so badly misunderstood simple ideas expressed in clearly-written texts, the usual response would be to bemoan the decline of critical reading skills in kids today.

I would actually would like to test the idea that the essays are clearly written. I haven’t read them (I don’t own the latest AHD), so I don’t have an opinion one way or the other. But I think it would be interesting to get 100 college educated adults who speak english fluently to read both essays and see if their interpretation matches the author’s intention, more closely follows Acocella’s, or something else.

Come again. Is it just me or is this person being facetious? I read this a dozen times before a spark of understanding began to glow. I copied and pasted the above. It doesn’t appear this gentleman proofed his post. But then it’s just a blog. anything goes on blogs.

See there, I got off on a tangent before I got started.

So, what did I find on my long search session? Nothing I did not already know. Well, one of those professors said that the “who”/“whom” distinction may be on its way out. Doesn’t that tickly your fancy? Why, I’m tickled pink.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when you KISS and don’t get too involved in what you are writing.

Remember to who/whom you are writing. This is something I seldom do. I make an a$$ of myself pretty much to everyone.

Whenever you write an acronym the first time, spell it out. This is something that irritates me to hell and gone. This is something we are going to have to become use to. Is that too many tos? With this new age of texting, we old fogies need to learn a new language. I’m sorry, but I haven’t got the old one down pat yet. BTW-(by the way)-All these phrases in italics are clichés. Know what I mean?

Well, that’s it. They ain’t much one can say about the two subjects. However, I found some long-winded bloggers out there. Them just didn’t know how to KISS. Lastly, like just about everything else in writing, if it feels good, do it. Do it the way that feels right for you. Who knows, you may come up with a novel way of doing it. Until next we meet, have a pleasant day. KISS KISS. Thanks, it’s been fun Ray

Why Do We-I Write?

Why do writer write what they write?

Who knows why we write? Your guess is as good as mine is. Writer’s reasons for writing are as variable as there are writers, almost, just about, nearly. If asked, “Why do you write,” some may shrug, hem haw and stare skyward as if the answer floated somewhere just out of reach. I had to stop and think myself when I began writing this article. It brought to memory when I first wrote about why I wanted to write, a suggestion I had read somewhere. I started a journal, something permanent that someone may find and read, something I could look at in the future, like now. I was so scared my hand shook and my breath came fast. I still feel a little like that every time I begin something new. Back then, my reason was therapeutic, not that I was a lunatic, well, maybe a little.

Now, I’m convinced I’m off my rocker. No one in their right mind would knowingly expose themselves to such brutal punishment. I continue only because I’m somewhat of a sadist and I haven’t burned out yet. There always seems to be something new to write about, and when I can use myself as an example, it makes it that much more exciting, for me.

Like everything else I did back then, I was only interested in finding out whether or not I could do it. Back then, over two decades ago, I succeeded in accomplishing everything I attempted, anything and everything that caught my fancy. These days, little catches my fancy. Old age is something I never thought I would accomplish and now I see why.

As a child, everyone pounded into my thick skull that I was dumb, stupid and lazy. All my life I kept trying to prove to myself I wasn’t. It appears this writing thing is a little more difficult than I figured. However, over those two decades, my writing goals have changed. I started out writing short stories, novels were out of the question. They were too large a project for such a small mind. I never had plans or hopes of publishing anything. My goal was pleasing those in my writing group.

The publishing urge didn’t strike me until a dozen years ago when I decided to write a novel. It was before self-publishing became popular. Three novels later, I learned publishing meant little. Promotion and sales are what makes a writer popular, whether you do it yourself or pay someone to do it for you. I hung my head, and went back to short stories and succeeded in publishing a few, a dissatisfying accomplishment. Now it’s writing unedited blog articles. At least I know people are reading my words and this feeds the need to write more.

The only thing left on my list of achievements is writing a non-fiction book. Maybe in another decade or so, I might. Now, that desire is but a spark. When it becomes a flame, I may try it. If nothing else, it may keep me out of the bottle and off the street.

As you see, our reasons for writing differ greatly and our goals change for some reason or another. Being a famous writer was never my goal, a hope maybe. I could never picture myself as famous, and maybe that’s the reason I haven’t succeeded, or maybe it’s because I suck at writing novels or maybe I fear being in the limelight. Once you become popular, you must continue up the ladder. The next must be bigger and better than the last. Pressure increases. Pleasant writing periods turn into demanding deadlines. Now you are a professional writer working for someone else. Then you might like these things. Maybe working under pressure spurs you onward and upwards. Okay, get out there and getter dun.

Having a goal in mind and a gut wrenching desire to write something has a lot to do with it. I start many projects and sometimes lose my driving force and have to put them aside. I just cannot force myself and have it come out as I felt at first.

Desire goads one on to greater achievements, I guess. Then, who says I haven’t been successful? Who or what determines success. I became and continue to be, a writer. What I write tickles the hell out of me. People all over the world read my blogs, not a lot, but enough to make me proud I’m a writer.

Remember Jean Auel who wrote The Clan of The Cave Bear and three other very successful novels in the series about 30 years ago. She is one of the authors that inspired me to write my Science Fiction Sociological novels. Twenty years later, she wrote another sequel that in my opinion was terrible. I struggled through about half of it before I took it back to the library. The librarian asked me if I liked it. I told her I did’t and she made a gagging gesture and said she didn’t either. I don’t know what Ms Auel’s problem was. Maybe she was under pressure from a publisher who could make a few bucks merely from her fame, if she write another sequel. Maybe after the long spell from writing she lost her enthusiasm, the fire that leapt off the pages of her first novels was gone. I haven’t read her latest in the series that came out last year.

If you are writing for money, you may be in the wrong business, unless you’re a publisher. But then, most new writers these days are publishers, self publishers. That’s not what I signed up for when I began writing. In fact, I was a published writer before I began writing. I used to write articles on how to dismantle and repair different cameras. That’s not writing though. It’s ‘remove screw A from cog B and release tension on spring C’. I was simply telling someone how to do something. Which, I just realized, is what I’m doing now. Wow, I’m back where I was 35 years ago. Why is it so much harder now than it was then? It must be ‘correctness.’ Back then, I didn’t realize I was nearly an illiterate, but functioning dyslexic. I just now realized this also I’m still doing what I started out to do when I consciously wrote those first words in my journal. I’m still finding out who and what I am.

Whatever your reason/s for writing is/are, keep on keeping on even if you don’t know the what-for. If you’re happy with what you’re writing, does it matter if anyone else is. If you are writing for money, you might want to get into another writing field, like editing, or whatever professional writers do. Remember, a professional is someone who is paid for what they do. Most writers don’t make enough to cover their expenses. Try figuring out how much a writer makes per hour. If they only work six or eight hours a day and that’s usually seven days a week at $10 per hour is $20,440 divided by $3.00 per book sold, if you’re lucky, is 6,813 books. Average book sales per writer are around 500. That doesn’t quite foot the bill. Of course, if you’re prolific and pounding out a half dozen or so books per year, you’ll do pretty well. It takes me a year to decide what kind of book I want to write.

Have fun and don’t get discouraged. Someone out there loves you. Have a pleasant day.



I’m glad 2011 is gone. The last month was a bitch. I thought it would never end. I felt stifled. I started things and couldn’t finish them. Although, that’s not so unusual for me. It’s one of my distasteful traits and fills me with guilt.

Anyway, it’s a new year, time to throw away last year’s list and make a new one. We try not to notice of the things we promised to accomplish last year; it’s too painful. Besides, we need things for the new list. More things we swear we will do this year knowing we will let them drag by month after month until it’s time to make yet another new list. Last year’s diet didn’t work, but this new one will take off that 10 pounds faster. Didn’t get the photo album finished, but these new pictures will make it a better one. Didn’t get to visit grandma last year, but we’ll spend a few extra days with her this year. Sound familiar?

Making a to-do-list is a good thing if we keep it “before our face” as my wife puts it. We make New Year Resolution Lists with good intentions, and then forget them until another New Year pops up. Few take this yearly tradition seriously. However, I hate making promises and not following through especially when it’s a promise I made to myself.

This year, instead of doing the list thing, I know will fill me with trepidation and I end up disenchanted, and feeling like a looser, I decided to make a list of everything I had accomplished in the past year whether or not I planned or promised them.

Here is my list of accomplishments for 2011 taken from a decade of promises.

1. Cleaning the garage, something I had been promising my wife I was going to do for the past five years. I got it done. It took me a month and a half, but it is all clean and orderly now. Weary and somewhat prideful, I reported to my wife that I had finished the long overdue chore. A smile lit up her face and she gave me a big hug. She danced out to inspect my work and returned 15 seconds later with a long face and tears trickling down her cheeks. I thought she was too overjoyed.

“I still cannot park my car in it,” she sobbed.

“No, you’re mistaken, Sweetie, garages aren’t for cars. They’re for storage and workshops.” I pointed out. Can you believe, she wanted me to get rid of my woodworking equipment that took me a lifetime collecting. So what if I hadn’t used it for a few years (ten to be exact). Maybe I will later. For 15 seconds I felt good about myself, I guess that’s better than nothing.

2. Bush trimming, another dreaded job that went undone for years. It took me two days, and three near heart attacks, but I got it done.

3. I also raked up 142 wheelbarrow loads of leaves and acorns.

4. I cut the grass 37 times.

5. I planted ten fruit trees I am doubtful will bear fruit before I take the eternal dirt map.

6. Exercising: last year I managed to walk, skip and jog over 936 miles, I spent seventy some hours doing yoga stretching. I spent unknown hours meditating, falling asleep and waking up wondering where I was.

7. I spent over 2,880 hours on the computer, and watched TV for over 2,184 hours. I slept for 2190 hours, not counting naps. The remaining 1,435 hours I contribute to trying to remember what I went the kitchen for, so I end up eating too many snacks and watching my neighbor across the street pace up and down his driveway. The poor soul has less to do than I. When I go back to my computer, I remember why I went to the kitchen. I write it down on a post-it note and head back to the kitchen to get a glass of ice water.

8. I completed half a dozen short stories and E-mailed two of them to publishers. That was over six months ago. That’s better than getting a rejection the next day though.

9. I wrote 37 articles and posted them to my blogs and started a dozen or more I haven’t finished.

10. I visited about 3,000,000 websites researching things to write about.

11. Last year I finally built the garden arbor I had been threatening to make for the past four years. My wife attempted to discourage me from doing this task. I believe she had little faith I could do it. Well, I showed her. Now she wants two more. I may find time in the next few years. Keeping her complaining is good. Otherwise we wouldn’t have much to talk about.

So, you see, instead of wasting ten minutes at the beginning of the year making a list of things I know I will never accomplish and feeling guilty about it, I managed to waste several hours compiling a list of things I have accomplished in the past year. I feel much better now. I’m proud of my accomplishments. I think it’s an impressive list wouldn’t you agree? Never mind, don’t answer that.


The wife just about has me convinced I should get rid of my woodworking tools. Maybe I can get another year of complaining out of her before she hires someone to do it

So, you have a great idea for a story or novel. You ponder where and how to start. You decide to start on the morning after Matilda’s break up with Dilbert. It’s the first day of the rest of her life without Dilbert. So, you begin writing.

The alarm clock startles Matilda into wakefulness and she opens her groggy, swollen eyes and brushes her matted blond hair from her chubby cheek. She throws the covers back and slips her chunky tootsies into her puppy dog slippers, the ones he gave her three months ago on her thirstiest birthday. As she stumbles toward the bathroom, she catches her reflection in the mirror Dilbert had fastened to her closet door only a few days ago. She notices her sagging breasts, paunchy stomach, thunder thighs and her foggy pale blue eyes not to mention her unruly hair. “No wonder he told me to stuff it,” she thought. “I have put on a few pounds this past year.”

She continues to the bathroom cluttered with discarded clothing and used towels and flops down on the commode, wondering what’s going to become of her. How is she going to make it through the day? She contemplates going back to bed. She pulls herself up and leans against the sink trying hard not to look in the mirror. She nearly gags as she brushes her teeth using her favorite toothpaste, rinses her mouth with mint flavored mouthwash for two minutes as recommended, spits it out and runs the water. She continues dressing, preparing and eating breakfast, down to brushing bread crumbs from her lap. Then comes rhe scene of her getting in the car, backing out of her drive and cruising down the Boulevard to work noticing everything along the way.

Five pages later she finally gets to work fifteen minutes late. If you haven’t lost your reader yet, the next fifteen pages of back story will surly do the trick. Of course, you realize this is too much information and your reader still doesn’t know what’s going on other than lover boy kicked her to the curb possibly because she had let herself go to pot.

1. Begin at the beginning

Where does one start? Well, at the beginning, silly. To begin with, the above beginning is not the proper place to begin this story. Remember, a story should start at a moment of change in the life of the main character which, in this story, was the night before when lover boy Dilbert, told her to stuff it. This is slap in the middle of their heated argument where she is scratching his eyes out and spitting in his face. Or, maybe she fell into a state of shock and couldn’t utter a word and you have to describe everything that’s going on in her head while Dilbert rants on about every wrong aspect of their relationship leaving out all the good parts. The above beginning requires back-story right off and back-story of more than a sentence or two slows down a story.

2. Too much detail

What else is wrong with the above beginning? It gives a second by second account of everything Matilda is doing. You may want to do this if you are trying to show a scene going in slow motion. Don’t let this laps into more dreary details. Put it down and get on to the next part where Matilda meets handsome man, Bruce, at a party that night where she is well on her way to getting wasted.

Unless something is germane to the story, leave it out. If Matilda is unkempt and a sloppy housekeeper and it plays a big part in the story, you might want to show this. But, if you are just showing how she got to the bathroom, all this does is bog down the story.

I often catch myself falling into this trap. Over-description drags a story to a sluggish halt and ticks off the reader. Everyone knows how to brush their teeth and do their grooming in the morning or frying eggs that only reminds her of her tear soaked eyes. Need I say more?

Names often give the reader all he/she needs to know about a character’s description or traits. There’s no need describing your characters down the mole on her big toe. Leave something to the reader’s imagination. What do the names Billy-Bob bring to mind or Slim, or Hoss, or Mervin, or Olivia, or Pricilla? We tend to pin preconceived images to characters simply by knowing their names, which makes it important to give your characters a name befitting them. A few uttered words of dialogue reveals more about a character than a page and a half of babble, e.g., what part of the world they come from, whether or not they are educated, angry, sad, happy and on and on. Try not to insult your readers’ intelligence. They have probably read more books the last month than most authors have written in their lifetimes.

3. Clichés

The whole morning routine scene above is a tired cliché, as is a character looking into a mirror or any other reflective surface and describing her physical self. If you feel obligated to describe a character, try it in another fashion like her becoming disgusted because she no longer fits into her jeans. Then again, what is a cliché? I’ve looked at list after list of them. There are even books full of them. If you took all of them out of your work, you might end up with a See-Jane-Run book. However, some are more tired than others are. You’ll have to decide this for yourself. Look it up. Try using fresh ways to get across what you are attempting to say.

4. Watch those phone conversations.

Matilda heard the phone ring. She was clear across the room and had to navigate around the coffee table to get to her pink phone sitting on the dusty end table. She managed to pick it up on the forth ring. “Oh please let it be Dilbert,” she prayed. “Please, please, please, I’ll beg him to forgive me, even though I’ve done nothing wrong.

“Hello, this is Matilda. . .. Oh, hi Ruth. I was hoping it would be Dilbert.”

“Are you, really?”

“No. I don’t think so. I wouldn’t be good company tonight.”

“It’s just that Dilbert and I have broken up.” She goes into a long rendition of the whole breakup. Hangs up the phone and wonders back to flop down on the couch. Wow that hurt just typing it.

You could have put it in one sentence. Ruth called to invite her to a party, but she begged off.

Are you still with me? I’m worn out. I just wanted to make sure you got the point about putting in too much information and bogging down a scene. Until the next time when I have more to write, I’ll let you know and you can read it. So long, goodbye, see you around.🙂 have a pleasant day,





Who is your audience, and is it necessary to know who they are?

Do you write for a specific audience? Whom are you writing to.

Many who teach writing or write about writing believe a writer should always have an audience in mind while they write. This may be true and beneficial in some cases but not required in others. Like just about everything else in writing having an audience in mind is something for each writer to determine. Yet, it sometime behooves us to write to a specific audience, i.e., the people who read a writer’s words. Knowing your audience clarifies your thoughts adds perception to your work.

Keep this in mind. Would you compose a letter to your mother in the same fashion and language as you would to your father, brother, sister or lover? Of course, you wouldn’t. You know these people, and you know what they want to hear and in the way they expect to hear it from you. If you know to whom you are writing for you will, in the end do a much better job.

Writing fiction or nonfiction

How many of us fiction writers really know our readers? Who can say, without a doubt, they know to whom they are writing for. Hopefully, we know our Genre, but its popularity and character keeps changing. What’s selling hot today will not be in vogue when you finish your novel a year or so down the road.

So, unless you are a prolific writer, have a following and can pound out a book in a couple months, knowing what’s hot today is not good enough.

Writing for a specific reader works well if you are writing nonfiction and you are up on what’s hot. Here again, timing is of most importance. Being an expert on the subject also helps. If it takes a year or two to write your book, chances are it will be outdated unless you have a unique slant on the subject and you are known in the market.

Unless you are writing for someone else, i.e., a newspaper, magazine or publisher and have a specific audience you are well acquainted with, write for yourself. You seldom go wrong writing for yourself, mainly because it takes pressure off you. But then, some people work better under pressure. You are not so unique that you are the only one who is interested in what you write. You just need to get out there and be seen. Your followers begin with one. I’m still searching for that first one.

As for me, I don’t like working for someone else, nor do I perform well under pressure. Maybe that’s because of my independent nature and dislike of authority figures. I have only worked for someone else a few times in my life, other than when I spent 20 years serving my country. I think that’s where I developed my dislike of authority figures and my intense distaste of being told what and when to do something. I have only worked for few for a short time before I got disgusted, gave them the old one finger salute and walked off, and I’m proud to say, I have no regrets.

Okay, what was I talking about now?

If I had to write to make a living, I would have walked away from it a long time ago. In other words, I write for my pleasure. I feel confident there are more writers doing this than there are who are making a living doing it. If someone else enjoys reading my words, that’s icing on the cake. I believe my real reason for writing is to find out what I’m all about, to reach inside myself and dredge up what lies buried deep within my bowels. I have vivid memories of when I first put words down on paper about my reasons for my wish to write. I actually trembled with fear that someone else might read these words. I see now my intentions were not to write to a specific audience. These words were for me alone and they remain hidden away in an obscure box somewhere in my attic where even I cannot find them.

Now, I feel more comfortable and confident. My objective is to write targeting a specific audience, and to do it without offending anyone who may stumble upon it and discovering that I’m really an anal person who doesn’t know what he’s talking about. It’s not an easy task, being an anal person that is.

Asking for an opinion

Unless you are a seasoned writer and trust someone explicitly, it’s not wise asking someone for an opinion of your writing. If they criticize and point out your faults, it usually puts you into depression and you go into writer’s block, and if they praise you for your description, dialogue, mystery or whatever, you get all puffed up with pride and concentrate on improving that already perfect trait until it becomes boring and trite. If you are of a sensitive nature, this may push you over the edge. I fit into this category. However, in my old age, I have turned into somewhat of an old curmudgeon and these small irritations have little impact on me anymore.

I’m often criticized for not using more common words in my writing. Maybe I am showing off, however, I don’t use a thesaurus ( which I cannot spell and just spent five minutes looking it up) to pick out a more explanative, highfalutin word. Even though I cannot spell worth a tinker’s damn, I do carry around an extensive vocabulary in my head. I surprise myself quite often when pulling a word from my dyslexic brain and finding it to be exactly what I wanted. It took me a lifetime collecting these words and learning their meaning. Why shouldn’t I use them? I’ve read many a book with a dictionary beside me. I sometimes cursed the author, but I’m glad now for the knowledge I gained.

Neither do I believe in taking writing courses, especially if they cost an arm and leg. You only end up writing to please your instructor. However, I don’t advocate this for everyone. One of my biggest regrets in life, and I have few, is that I never completed my sorry education. But then, that would have lead me down a completly different path, one that I might regret more so.

I’m a firm believer in taking responsibility for one’s choices and not bellyache about it. We all are products of our choices in life. If you really wanted to be a millionaire/famous writer/editor, that should have been forefront in your noggin day and night until you reached that goal, very few stumble into these by accident. Do not blame someone else for not reaching the goals you set down for yourself.

Okay, that’s it. It’s not the article I started out to write, but I’m pleased with it. I even learned something. I didn’t realize I was an anal person. I’ve been sitting on that for a long time.

Thanks, and have a pleasant day.

At the Nantucket Project