7 Habits of Effective Writers

capture-3In 1989 the book “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey was published. I am using the idea to apply it to writers. Hence the title, “7 Habits of Effective Writers.”

The best place to start is at the beginning.

Habit One

Start.  You have to put your behind in a seat and begin to write.

Habit Two

Be consistent. I am not saying do it every day. I am saying write on a regular basis.

Habit Three

Have a positive outlook.  Walt Disney was credited with saying, “Think you can think you can’t, either way, you are right.” You need to believe you can and do the work.

Habit Four

Be committed for the long haul. It takes some time to write a story. One book wonders are the exception, not the rule. You can make a living as a writer, but it takes time and hard work.

Habit Five

Be willing to pay the price. You pay the price in time, money and effort you spend investing in yourself.

Habit Six

Never stop learning. You learn by attending conferences. You learn by reading books on the craft of writing. You learn by listening to podcasts and reading blogs. You learn by writing. You learn from your editor. You learn by reading books in the genre you write. An editor you ask. Yes, if traditionally published your encounter editors. If self-published you need to invest in professional editing.

Habit Seven

Have perspective. You attitude is a key as I mentioned earlier. It’s okay to begin where you are and improve over time. If you are like me you write because you must write. You may need to do an attitude check if you want to have written, just sign autographs, and be adored by fans. I’m not saying that won’t happen. I am saying it is unlikely.

 


Jimmie Aaron Kepler 8/2016Jimmie Aaron Kepler is a novelist, poet, book reviewer, and award-winning short story writer. His work has appeared in over twenty venues, including Bewildering Stories, Beyond Imagination, Poetry & Prose Magazine, and vox poetica. When not writing each morning at his favorite coffee house, he supports his writing, reading, and book reviewing habit working as an IT application support engineer. He is a former Captain in the US Army. His blog Kepler’s Book Reviews was named a 100 best blogs for history buffs. You can learn more about him at Kepler’s Coffee House.

How To Change The Default Font In Scrivener For Windows

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I have used Scrivener for over five years. I own Scrivener for Mac and Scrivener for Windows. I love Scrivener. I’m a twenty plus year  IT professional. Scrivener has been a challenge to learn. I have attended several online and courses at writer’s conferences in my quest to master the software.Scrivener’s has many awesome features.  One thing about I hate about it is the default font is Courier New.  I despise Courier New.  For years I dutifully changed each new document to Times New Roman 12 being unable to figure out how to change the default font. The leaders of the conferences I attended had no idea how to change the default. I read the Scrivener manual and online help. The solution eluded me.

I finally figured it out.

Yeah me! I don’t give up. I finally figured it out and how to change all my existing documents to my default font in one magical moment. Woohoo!

So, I wrote a little help or knowledge base article. The title (drum roll please) …

How To Change The Default Font

This is not obvious. From the Scrivener Toolbar go to Tools.

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Next, you click on Tools and select Options

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When you select Options then select Editor. Then you have to select Font. It is the letter A below that I have circled in red. My goodness, what a hard thing to find.

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That will get you to this window.  Now see that little random italicized A?  Yeah, that’s the button.  That’s what they use as their symbol for FONT.  It is not like any other software. So click the button.  That takes you here. Pick your preferred font. This will only affect new work going forward.

If you want to change the default on existing work you need to select all the chapter and scenes you want to change and then go here.

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That takes you to this window. Now you decide what you want to change.

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In my case, I just converted everything. It is my understanding that if you run this feature on existing scenes (or other documents), it will keep font size, alignment, tabs and indents, spacing BUT NOT ANY ITALICS OR OTHER FONT FORMATTING.  So use on existing stuff at your peril.

This event, this is how you change the default font and I call it”How To Change The Default Font In Scrivener For Windows.”  Use at your own risk. Make a backup before you start in case you don’t get what you want. I am sharing my experience and make no guarantees that it will give you what you want. I worked for me.

Starbucks, 356 Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica, California

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The picture is of the Starbucks at 1356 Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica, CA 9040. It is one of my all-time favorite locations. I was easily two to three times as old as the core group of local patrons.

Starbucks Santa Monica CAI used to hang out there after work and write when I worked for a Los Angeles based software company. They opened at 5 AM and stayed open to midnight during the week and to 1 AM on weekends.

Their WiFi is the fastest I have ever encountered. I think everyone in the coffee house could stream Netflix at the same time and have perfect picture and sound quality.

o-3The patrons were young, diverse, eclectic, and by the time I visited a third time, very accepting of me.

The management at this location allowed street musicians outside. This location was always crazy busy and wonderful. The Pacific Ocean was a short five-minute walk from this Starbucks, even in the never-ending crowd of tourists. If ever in Santa Monica, California this is a must location for coffee.

If you click on the photos, you can see the full-sized picture.


Jimmie Aaron Kepler 8/2016Jimmie Aaron Kepler is a novelist, poet, book reviewer, and award-winning short story writer. His work has appeared in over twenty venues, including Bewildering Stories, Beyond Imagination, Poetry & Prose Magazine, and vox poetica. When not writing each morning at his favorite coffee house, he supports his writing, reading, and book reviewing habit working as an IT application support engineer. He is a former Captain in the US Army. His blog Kepler’s Book Reviews was named a 100 best blogs for history buffs. You can learn more about him at Kepler’s Coffee House.

Fights on the Little Horn: Unveiling the Myths of Custer’s Last Stand by Gordon Harper

Snip20160127_1The late Gordon Harper passed away before finishing this comprehensive volume. The writers of both the book’s forward and the chapters regarding “the last stand” make it very clear Mr. Harper’s notes are the source if their writing.

It is very apparent that Mr. Harper spent hundreds of hours on the battlefield knowing it intimately. Significant efforts have been to be made to recreate in detail the actions on June 25-26, 1876. The author did an outstanding job.

The book’s eight maps show the positions of all the soldiers and warriors as well non-combatants. Two maps show the locations of the bodies of the dead.

Each chapter is well documented with numerous footnotes. The references and quotes are from primary sources. Sworn testimony from the Reno Commission and the newspapers of the time are the primary sources.

The conclusions drawn by the author may give cause for debate. Mr. Harper’s deductions are:

  • Colonel Custer was just following orders.
  • He used the standard cavalry tactics of the day when attacking an Indian encampment.
  • The tactics failure were they were not designed for the scale of the adversary – the largest gathering of Plains Indians in one place.
  • This Indians didn’t run as was expected.
  • They fought the U.S. Cavalry to a standstill.
  • The Indians wiped out all riding with Custer.
  • Harper’s research shared quotes from the Native Americans.
  • The Indians indicate that the majority of the 7th Cavalry stood their ground as long as possible.
  • The cavalry troopers concentrated fire was deadly on the charging warriors.

It is a different, even controversial view of the battle. It is also a controversial view of the General Custer.

The hardcover copy is 386 pages. It is an excellent resource and a must for any Custer historian, amateur or professional.


Jimmie Aaron KeplerJimmie Aaron Kepler is a novelist, poet, book reviewer, and award-winning short story writer. His work has appeared in over twenty venues, including Bewildering Stories, Beyond Imagination, Poetry & Prose Magazine, and vox poetica. When not writing each morning at his favorite coffee house, he supports his writing, reading, and book reviewing habit working as an IT application support engineer. He is a former Captain in the US Army. His blog Kepler’s Book Reviews was named a 100 best blogs for history buffs. You can learn more about him at Kepler’s Coffee House.

 

One Great Source Free Source of Continuing Education for Writers

KEY acronym - KEEP EDUCATING YOURSELF. Educational concept with different color sticky notes and white chalk handwriting on a blackboard.
KEY acronym – KEEP EDUCATING YOURSELF. Educational concept with different color sticky notes and white chalk handwriting on a blackboard.

I attend two or three writer’s conferences a year and have for years. I attend for the continuing education value, fellowship, networking and to pitch my work to agents, editors, and publishers.

While attending the recent conference I realized much of the same content I was paying for was available for free in many of the podcasts I listen to on a regular basis. I had been listening to podcasts since June 2005 when Apple added them to iTunes in version 4.9.  I’ve learned never to assume someone knows about podcasts.

Podcasts

What is a podcast? It is a digital audio file made available on the Internet for downloading to a computer, smartphone, or portable media player. Typically podcasts are available as a series. One of the fun things about them is they are free. Subscribers can receive new installments automatically. You can listen to a podcast on your computer, an iPod or an iPhone or other smartphones.

Podcasts are a terrific way to get a free education. I regularly listen to several writing podcasts that I recommend. I find them both educational and motivational. Here are five that are helpful to me.

  1. Joanna Penn created The Creative Penn Podcast. Its audios are posted at every  week. They cover interviews, inspiration and information on Writing, Publishing Options, Book Marketing and Creative Entrepreneurship. The podcast is exceptionally motivational and has excellent information on the business and craft of writing. She is a New York Times and USA Today, best-selling author. Website:http://www.thecreativepenn.com/podcasts/ Podcast:https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-creative-penn/id309426367?mt=2
  2. Mur Lafferty created the I Should Be Writing podcast. I have been listening for a decade. Winner of the Podcast Peer Award and the Parsec Award, this is a show about a writer going from wanna-be to pro. Focusing on the emotional roadblocks one finds in a writing career, this show speaks to over 8000 listeners every week. Mur is the winner of the 2013 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. She is one of the worst kept secrets in science fiction and fantasy publishing. She is also the author of the Shambling Guide Series. She also is a co-host of the new Ditch Diggers podcast dealing with the business of writing for pros. Website: http://murverse.com/ Podcast:https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/i-should-be-writing/id79085800?mt=2
  3. Shipping & Handling Podcast. Two literary agents talk books, fandom, writing, and beyond. Hosts: Bridget Smith of Dunham Literary Inc. & Jennifer Udden of Barry Goldblatt Literary. Website: http://www.shippingandhandlingpodcast.com/ Podcast: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/shipping-handling/id953575150?mt=2
  4. Grammar Girl provides short, friendly tips to improve your writing. Whether English is your first language or your second language, these grammar, punctuation, style, and business tips will make you a better and more successful writer. Grammar Girl is a Quick and Dirty Tips podcast. To download podcast episodes not shown here, visit QuickandDirtyTips.com Website:http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/ Podcast:https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/grammar-girl-quick-dirty-tips/id173429229?mt=2
  5. Justin Macumber created The Dead Robots’ Society podcast. It offers advice and support to aspiring writers. The hosts are all writers. Weekly they share their stories.   Discuss of topics important to the world of writing delivered in a fun and informal format is the thrust of the podcast. Website:http://deadrobotssociety.com/ Podcast:https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/dead-robots-society/id261738116?mt=2

Continuing education

Continuing education for writers doesn’t have to be expensive. Sometimes it is as close as downloading a file from the Internet onto your computer.

Read, Write, Edit, Rewrite, Submit, and Repeat

read write repeatSummoned to my high school guidance counselor’s office, I learned not everyone thinks being a writer is a good idea.  I still recall the meeting as if it were yesterday.

“What are you going to do now that you failed your physical due to bad vision and you can’t use your appointment to the United States Air Force Academy,” asked my high school guidance counselor.

“I’m going to be an author,” I said.

“You can’t be an author,” she replied.

“Why can’t I be an author?” I asked. I wanted to be the next Kurt Vonnegut, Philip Roth, or Ray Bradbury. They were the best-selling authors of the day.

Her career choices for me came from the father role models on the popular television programs of the era. She wanted me to be the next Mike Brady (the architect dad on The Brady Bunch) or an aerospace engineer like Steven Douglas (My Three Sons).

“Jimmie, you’re a boy. You need a college degree in engineering, math, science, or accounting. You have to earn enough money to support your future wife and family. Forget your silly notion that a man can support himself by writing. It is okay to write for a hobby, but you will need a real job. With your grades and SAT scores you could even aspire to be a doctor, dentist, or lawyer,” she said.

I was heartbroken. Raised to believe I could do anything, now I wasn’t so sure.

Has anyone ever laughed at your vision of writing? Perhaps you have been told you lack life experience or you don’t stand a chance because everyone is writing now that they can simply self-publish on Amazon.

You may have feelings of doubt, thinking if only you had an MFA. If only your family and spouse supported you more. If you could quit your day job. Maybe you are in your sixties like me. You think it is too late. You say I am just too old. If only…

We all experience self-doubt. Friends and family do not always understand our passion.

Everyone faces such challenges. My faith as a Christian also helps me overcome such thoughts. Here are a few lessons I’ve learned.

Some people will never understand your passion for writing. Don’t bother trying to explain. Just let them watch as you write.

Read.

Reading is necessary for writing. Not only is reading the fodder for writing, it is fun. It also helps me relax as well as grow.

Write.

I know it sounds silly, but to become a writer you have to write. I have heard for years that it takes 10,000 hours to master something. 10,000 hours is five years worth of forty-hour weeks. Maybe that is why it takes ten years for so many to get that first traditional book deal. Do not be a want to be a writer. Write.

Edit.

This includes proofreading, rewriting, and polishing. No one is perfect. Critique groups help as well as reputable professional editing services. Rewrite as needed.

Submit.

To your surprise, someone may like and buy what you wrote.

Rejection.

Being rejected is not personal. Your writing may be bad. It may be good, but just not meet the publisher’s or editor’s needs. You may have submitted to the wrong market or not followed the submission guidelines (both guarantee a rejection). Every writer gets rejections. The photo is a rejection I received from the New Yorker Magazine. I’ve been rejected by the best.

Acceptance.

Selling a book or an article doesn’t guarantee success. Many times it means the real work is only beginning. Having your work accepted by a publisher feels good. It feels very good.

Writers’ Groups.

Consider joining a writers’ group. I have belonged to three over the years. I have changed groups as I have changed. Some groups I have belonged to were for critique. Some have been to learn the business of writing. Some have been for the encouragement.

I know the thoughts I have shared are all items you have heard many times before. Sometimes a reminder is good.

We all have people like my old high school guidance counselor in our lives. Do not let their negative words keep you from writing. If you have the urge to write, write! It’s not too late.

The formula really is simple. It is read, write, edit, rewrite, submit, and repeat. If your writing is good enough and if what you write matches the publisher’s need, you just may see your story in print.

The article was originally published in the June 30, 2014, issue of “Author Culture.”


jak-moustacheJimmie Aaron Kepler is a novelist, poet, book reviewer, and award-winning short story writer. His work has appeared in over twenty venues, including Bewildering Stories and Beyond Imagination. When not writing each morning at his favorite coffee house, he supports his writing, reading, and book reviewing habit working as an IT application support engineer. He is a former Captain in the US Army. His blog Kepler’s Book Reviews was named a 100 best blogs for history buffs. You can visit him at http://www.jimmiekepler.com.

Starbucks at Canal Street and St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans

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Today’s pictures show there’s a little magic brewing at the corner of Canal Street and St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans. Starbucks recently opened a new store in the historic French Quarter.

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It is inspired by the city’s rich history as a coffee trading port and its unique artistic spirit. The store is the latest example of Starbucks ongoing approach to creating locally relevant designs that honor the culture of the neighborhoods they serve.

 

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This location looks like a writer’s paradise.

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Jimmie Aaron KeplerJimmie Aaron Kepler is a novelist, poet, book reviewer, and award-winning short story writer. His work has appeared in over twenty venues, including Bewildering Stories and Beyond Imagination. When not writing each morning at his favorite coffee house, he supports his writing, reading, and book reviewing habit working as an IT application support engineer. He is a former Captain in the US Army. He holds BA, MA, MRE and EdD degrees. His blog Kepler’s Book Reviews was named a 100 best blogs for history buffs. He is the author of seven books and collections available on Amazon. You can visit him at http://www.jimmiekepler.com.