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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

How To Tell If You Are a Writer

25 Jan

You read this blog and other musings that are similar, knowing these experiences and reflections to be true and that they are shared by the majority of writers. You are painfully aware that the world, time, your family, your job, school, the dishes, the laundry, the dog, and everything else in your life should take priority in your life, but you cannot deny the itch to write. You know that writing will more than likely fail to feed your family, pay the bills, and put your kids through college. But you do it anyway. Despite everything, you still write. There is no doubt about it. YOU are a Writer.

C. L. Parson

Every End is a New Beginning

9 Jan

On December 12th 2012, 13 days before Christmas, I found out the baby I was carrying had died. I was one day shy of being 13 weeks pregnant, but the miracle inside me had stopped growing at 9 weeks and the tiny heart was no longer beating. I could almost hear my own heart shatter. It was the hardest day of my life.

To help ward off depression, I threw myself into my book. I had finished the first draft, but the last 70 pages or so were all handwritten so I spent most of my time transcribing it on the computer. When I wasn’t writing, I was reading. Anything to take my mind off of what had happened. I wasn’t happy with my life at the moment, so I spent as much time as I could living the lives of the characters I was writing or reading about.

Now it is time to start living my life again. With the New Year comes new beginnings. We have all heard it before. Usually I would just roll my eyes. However, this year, I feel the saying is appropriate.

I finished transcribing the handwritten manuscript. I am now revising my book, which is much like writing a whole new book all together. But now I have a chance to make it a better book. I am not starting over, I am just making it better. I am better prepared for what I want the overall outcome to be and how to get there. It may not be the most fun. I don’t think anyone really enjoys the rewriting process. But the headaches and the frustration will all be worth it when I am finally able to hold my new, perfected book in my hands.

The same goes with my family and our hopes to add one more member to it. We are waiting a couple of months, but we have decided to try again after our loss. We are definitely not trying to replace our loss with a new baby. We are not starting over. Nothing will erase the pain we felt after hearing the news that our baby had died, but I know I will see my angel baby again one day in a place where there is no pain.  After our tragedy, we are now better prepared for all the possibilities, and when we conceive again, we will more than likely be paranoid and worry the whole 9 months. In the end, the worrying and the paranoia will all be worth it when I can finally hold my new, perfect baby in my arms.

C. L. Parson


Why Write?

7 Dec

Old Manual Typewriter

When I feel the weight of the world on my shoulders and my insides turn to jelly from the pressure of responsibility, I ask myself this question. Why write? After all, it isn’t the most lucrative career. Much like actors or musicians, only a handful writers break through to become super stars. The rest, who are just as talented, lead lives of mediocrity and midlist, never quite reaching best-seller status. If this were all about money, I would have chosen a career where I could make big bucks. I could have been an accountant, a doctor, a rocket scientist… a contender (come on, you knew it was coming). But instead, I have been working for five years now on an English degree. English majors are not known for their big paychecks. So obviously it isn’t just about the money.

Though I think of writing as my passion and my preferred career path, I still work an average 40-hour-a-week office job. GASP! It isn’t my dream, but it pays the bills. Though it isn’t about the money, I have mouths to feed at home. I can be a starving writer, but I won’t allow my family to starve. Many people would accept the careers they fell into, regardless of whether or not they are passionate about what they do. They wake up, go to work, come home, watch TV, and go to bed. Wash, rinse, and repeat ad infinitum. However, I am not like many people. No matter what I am doing, I continue to fight until I reach full-time writer status, the career I love. At work, I have a post it on my computer. It says, “I am a writer. I write books.” I have this to remind myself not to get too comfortable because there are bigger and better things ahead of me. I just have to get there. Why struggle and bust my ass for something that is never guaranteed? Because it is my passion and when one has a passion, one is willing to shed blood, sweat, and tears for it. My passion is writing books that I want to read. It is as simple as that.

Lastly, I think I write because I have an overwhelming desire to communicate with the masses. Though I write fiction, I try to include real world issues and ideas. Though there may be magic, ghosts, and dark entities, they are just mediums through which I deliver the bigger picture. I strongly believe that art should make a person cry, laugh, nod, or shake his head. As long as it causes a reaction, it is art.

That is why I write; because I have something to say, something that I am passionate about, and I want to get a rise out of you. That is the only pay I need.

C. L. Parson


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