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23 Nov

We all have them. Some choose to ignore them. Kudos to you. I, however, cannot. My mother had a mantra (well, she had many mantras), “We all have to do some things we don’t want to do.” Now I repeat the same mantra to my daughter every week morning when she is rolling around on the floor because she is tired and rather sleep than go to school.

This saying is one with which us writers are very familiar. Most writers have a day job that pays the bills. During our 9-5, we daydream about being able to write full-time. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? Absolutely! What stops us? Responsibilities. But just because we are responsible for putting food on the table, paying the mortgage, and keeping the lights on, doesn’t mean our responsibility to our craft is any less important. Many of us would probably go insane if it we didn’t have our writing as an outlet and a means to keep the nice young men with their clean white coats at bay. It is truly a balancing act.

What you need to remember is this:

You do what you have to so you can…

1. Take care of your loved ones.

2. Continue your craft.

If that means flipping burgers so your baby can eat, be the best damn burger flipper there ever was. After all, how could you expect to get any writing done if your baby is constantly interrupting you saying, “Mama, I’m hungry.” If you have to work on computers to pay your car note so you can attend writers’ conferences, by all means, W-E-R-K!

Few things are more important than your writing. One of those is your family and friends. Period. Regardless of anything else, people should ALWAYS be valued over all else. If we start to value our passions and dreams more than the people who care about us, we’ve got a problem. After all, what fun is finally achieving your goals as a writer when you have no one to share your success with?

C. L. Parson

Why Deadlines Are My Best Friend

11 Nov

As happens to so many writers who have day jobs, families, school, you name it, I often push my writing to the back burner. Family is top priority. Then comes the day job because it pays the bills. You can find writing at the very bottom of my uber long to-do list. Actually, it might be in the margin at the very bottom, almost as an after thought. Why does this happen? How can I allow it to happen? Oh, the humanity!

I found that there is one thing that my writing is missing that everything else on the infinite To-Do List has: a deadline. When I prioritize my tasks, I do so according to how long each task takes and when the task is due. Those tasks without deadlines are pushed to the bottom to make room for more tasks with deadlines. My writing isn’t a priority because I haven’t put a deadline on it.  There is a simple fix for this dilemma.

Create deadlines!

They can be impossible deadlines. In fact, those are my very favorite kind! Seemingly impossible deadlines tend to light a fire under my hind quarters. More often than not, I find that these so-called “impossible” deadlines are very possible once I put in some effort and ingenuity. Why do you think National Novel Writing Month is such a huge hit?

Do you create deadlines for yourself? How have deadlines helped or hindered your writing process?

Want more? Below are links to a couple of Writers Digest articles about time management and deadlines.

C. L. Parson

How To Write When You Don’t Have Time

13 Sep

These ideas may not be substitutes for old-fashioned, tried-and-true butt-in-chair time, but it does give your writing mind a chance to play when you are pressed for time or enjoying your daily commute.

  • Write a few first liners.

    It is amazing how a story can unfold from just a few simple words. In celebration of Friday the 13th, Writers Digest encouraged their Twitter followers to tweet scary first lines using the hashtag #FridayThe13thStory. I tweeted up a storm and came away with some awesome ideas for some new stories. The best part is each first line only cost me about five minutes of my time at the most.

  • Make a character profile in your mind for the person in front of you in line at Starbucks.

    There are some interesting people we encounter every day in this crazy day of ours. Give your writer mind something to do while you wait for your triple shot expresso. That woman in line in front of you, she is actually in the witness protection program. The high powered business man sitting in the corner is actually a highly skilled assassin. That soccer wife putting too much sugar in her coffee actually has a secret second family in another state. The possibilities are endless. Bonus: Take note of any strange traits or ticks you notice in other people as you are going about your day. They are great ways to add three-dimensional flare to your characters.

  • Drive around town as a character.

    My favorite game to play in the car is something I call “car chase”. I pick out a car behind me in traffic and pretend like they are out to get me. Then I make up a story line of who they are, what they did, what I did, what they want, etc. If you don’t like chase scenes, imagine you are driving anywhere but where you are actually going. Why are you going there?

  • Play the “What if…” game.

    What if today is the day zombies rise from their graves? What if I walk into the gas station only to find it empty with the clerk tied up behind the counter? What if all the men on Earth began to regress back through the evolutionary chain? The “What if…” game is another tool you can use anywhere. Think of a scenario and what you or the people around you would do.

  • Take pictures and use them as inspiration for later.

    I have recently been trying to take more pictures while I am running around town. I try to take photos of random human objects in nature, like a chair left in the woods or a plastic food tray abandoned on a nature tail. Then I look back on these photos and write down story ideas.

Tools of the Trade:

  • Digital Recorder

    Because you will probably be driving or too busy to jot down notes, carry around a digital recorder or download a digital recorder app on your phone.

  • Note Pad

    The guy preparing your food at Panda Express is a mouth breather, and you think that is a perfect trait for one of your characters in your sci-fi thriller. However, you don’t want to make a voice memo and say “mouth breather” right in front of him (your mother taught you better than that). That is why it is important to have other options, such as a note pad. You can download one for your phone or carry around the analog version, Post Its and a pencil.

C. L. Parson

Professional Writer Quiz

7 Aug

In response to recent events, namely the publishing of an article by Lisa Morton of the HWA LA chapter, I decided to post my own quiz to help other writers determine whether or not they are allowed to call themselves professional writers. To be a professional writer, you must answer “yes” to ALL the questions, because professionals do not do anything half-assed. Those who fail this quiz will be put on the black list labeled “Hobbyists” and shall be monitored from here on out. 

Here is the quiz:

1. Do you blow off parties so you can go home and write?

2. Do you sometimes forget to eat because you are too busy writing?

3. Do you forget to visit your grandmother in the nursing home because you are too busy writing, even though the hospice nurse leaves a message every day saying she could pass away any day now?

4. Do you forget to feed your pets because you are too busy writing?

5. Does your home look like a hoarder’s paradise because you are too busy writing to take out the trash or put anything away?

6. Have you broken promises because to keep them would take time away from your writing? Example: You didn’t pick up your significant other at the airport like you said you would.

7. Are you still wearing the same clothes going on a week, underwear included, because to change clothes would cut into your prime writing time?

8. Have you forgotten to pick up your children at school because you are too engrossed in your writing?

9. Have your children missed a meal because your writing is much more important than cooking?

10. Has your spouse filed for divorce and/or has DFCS taken your children away because you have neglected your duties as spouse and/or parent due to the fact that those duties would take time away from your writing?

If you answered “yes” to ALL of these questions, congratulations! You are a professional writer!

C. L. Parson

How to Become a Famous Writer in 5 Easy Steps

5 May

1. Have something strange/unusual/horrible happen to you during childhood (preferably hard child labor).

If you had a pretty laid back childhood, harken the emotions you felt when you really really wanted to go to mall and your mom said no.

2. Write a book which hardly veils the fact that your main character looks a lot like you and has a lot of the same problems and personality ticks.

How else can we live forever? However, naming this main character after yourself is frowned upon. Try to avoid that if possible.

3. Make lots of money.

Pretty self-explanatory, I think.

4. Spend your money in frivolous ways. This can be in a way of your choosing. Gamble it away. Spend it on your mistress. Lose it all prospecting. The more scandalous, the better.

What do Fyodor Dostoevsky, Charles Dickens, and Mark Twain have in common? They made a lot of money, then wasted it in foolish endeavors. Oh, and they also wrote some of the best books known to humankind. Coincidence? I think not.

5. Either die rich or die poor. But don’t EVER die middle-class.

Did you hear of the writer who died with a modest sum of money in the bank, just enough to settle his last earthly affairs with some change leftover for the grieving family? Neither did I.

5 Things You Need to be a Writer

13 Feb

1. A medium       

ex: pen or pencil and paper, typewriter, computer, smart phone, tablet, audio recorder

This kind of medium…

… not this kind of medium.

2. Buttocks (ass)

3. Chair (to sit your buttocks in)

4. Window (to gaze out of while waiting for inspiration to strike)



5. Imagination

C. L. Parson

My Introduction To Screenplays: Sink or Swim

11 Feb

You know that person who says they learned how to swim when their asshole dad threw them into the river/lake/pond/ocean? Or maybe you are that person. It was a terrifying experience, one that left the traumatized flounder-er seeking professional help in the form of therapy (and maybe swimming lessons at the local Y) for years to come. But what is important to remember is that this person survived, or their harrowing tale would have never seen the light of day.

This is what writing screenplays is like for me. It seems easy at first. I put my pinky toe in, testing the waters. In an instant, my toe testing becomes a belly flop of doom into the dark abyss of screenplay writing. I flounder at my keyboard as I try to adhere to the correct format, treading long enough to catch my breath before the script swallows my head again.

Somehow, I manage to throw myself onto the beach of a deserted island, gasping for breath, thankful for what I was able to accomplish, though I certainly won’t be winning any medals. I did it. My ideas are on paper, somewhat in the correct format, and I am still breathing.

However, the only way to get off this island is to keep swimming. The only way to finish this script is to keep writing. Is it painful? Yes. Is it embarrassing? Absolutely. Will I swim or let my script and my great ideas sink to the bottom of my psyche to never surface again? I am gonna doggy paddle my ass off.

Even if my screenplay doesn’t succeed and I never learn the right way to write one, it will still make one hell of an awesome story.

C. L. Parson


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