Mon 04 February 2019

James Jackson - Introduction to Writing - Part 1

Posted by. James Jackson This article was posted in Next Gen Writers and tagged with TeamTerran, Introduction to Writing, Learning Writing, Novel Writing Process


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Introduction to Writing – Part One: Making it happen

As a guest speaker at the Michigan Reading Associations 61st annual event in Grand Rapids, I was asked to speak on the topic of an "My Writing Process". Here are my speaking notes from the event; I hope you find them useful.

This post introduces the audience to #TeamTerran, my background, the pivotal moment I put pen to paper (well... fingers to keys) and my writing process. I touch on Lifestyle Change, Writing Goals and Word count increase: Bucket collecting water.




 TeamTerran with James Jackson ready for his speech at the MRA 2017 ConferenceIt is my pleasure to share with you my experiences as a writer; from the scribblings that I jot down, to the finished product. Along the way, I delve into my writing process, and include some insights into research, publishing, and reviews.

I endeavor to provide my readers with an overall experience. I want people to become engaged in the story, feel the joy and smile when reading a happy scene. When the words turn darker, I want readers to feel the sadness and perhaps even cry. This is my primary goal each time I put pen to paper. I want people to feel the words as they visualize their experience.

As a writer of primarily science fiction, research is a critical component in making the fiction believable. Without learning about that which I write, how can I hope to successfully convey my thoughts?

As I roll out these modules, I share some of my experiences and offer my thoughts on reviews, and how I react to them.


First; Thanks to Team Terran

Before I delve into todays' topic, I would start by offering my deepest gratitude to a core group of dedicated individuals. Being a writer is a solitary affair, but being an author, for me, is not.

I hereby offer my thanks and appreciation to Team Terran, and yes, we hashtag that!

Team Terran's core members are Jason Williams, Shannon Ostrander, and Jeff Bradley. These three people are tireless supporters who have been with me from the beginning, way back in 2010.

Okay: A little of my history

First Piece: Sueling

I wrote my first piece when I was twelve years old. I submitted a story about my Siamese cat, Sueling, to a magazine called Women’s Weekly. I won one of fifty copies of a Garfield comic. As a teenager, and in my twenties, I dabbled in writing by creating adventure modules for various role playing games. I am sure we have all heard of Dungeons and Dragons, and yes, although I was a spirited dungeon master. I was all about the fun, and the adventure, not so much into killing off people’s characters.

Move to America

In 2001 I left Australia and moved to America, and began making notes for several stories. But I could not find the right theme, nor could I adjust my lifestyle, so I kept giving up.

Pivotal Moment: Father’s face in the mirror

One day, early in 2010, I was shaving and looking in the mirror, when I unexpectedly saw my father’s face; it was how he looked only a few years before he died.

That moment was pivotal in my life. It suddenly became quite clear to me that there are fewer days ahead, than behind, thus I needed to write, or forget about it. Well, the idea of not finishing a story, was unacceptable to me, thus it was in that very moment, that I decided to make the time to write.

Anyone can write; fear stops most

Almost every individual is capable of sitting down and writing, but of those who do, few turn their efforts into published works. The reasons people don’t, are as varied as the number of stars in the sky. One reason people fail to take the plunge, and release their work, is simply fear; fear of ridicule, fear of the unknown, or a lack of self confidence in their efforts, another fear. I will also briefly talk about the fear of negative reviews and ‘internet trolls’ and how to survive their attention. As for the fear itself, well, that’s normal, so embrace it, and go for it. It’s okay, trust me, you will survive the experience, and your life will be enriched by it.

How many of you are writing or have written something, but are yet to release your efforts to the world?

What is holding you back?

Target Audience

Let me talk about target audiences for a moment. As an example, science fiction appeals to around twenty percent of the reader audience, and my particular style appeals to approximately half that group. Thus, only ten percent of the reader market, might, enjoy my efforts.

Each genre has its own audience, so, if you get family members to read something you have written, then statistically speaking, most will not enjoy your work! But that’s okay! It’s normal. Get their feedback regardless, it may prove invaluable, as we will discover later on.

Also, please consider that these statistics are generalizations. Some books, based on content, appeal to wider audiences.

My Writing Process

Okay, so to the topic at hand. I would like to share with you, my writing process; how it has evolved, and is still evolving, right from the first concepts that spring to mind, which get jotted down by pen on paper, to having a published book in hand.

Lifestyle Change

Writing requires a lifestyle change, and once started, your life will never be the same again. Finding the time to write is critical, and this needs to be quality time. It is difficult to write if you have a scheduled event that will interrupt this time. Thus, for those who work fulltime jobs, I suggest two things. Schedule time in the evening, when life’s duties, such as dinner, children, etc., have been completed. You need an uninterrupted period of time with few to no distractions, to effectively write. During this time, writing is your one and only priority. This is your time. Imagine being in a writing zone, and you have to quit. The flow is ruined, and creativity is lost.

For me, the transition did not occur overnight, it took a couple of months, but I slowly made changes to my lifestyle, and found the time.

Writing goal

I write every day, sometimes just a little, other times I am at my computer for ten plus hours. The results of my efforts vary from a few hundred meager words, to thousands. The amount, though, is not critical, what’s important is that something was done!

I have a personal goal of one thousand words per day, and suggest that people establish their own goal; one that is realistically achievable, based on their lifestyle. And remember, as people progress as a writer, that lifestyle will change, allowing more time to write.

I also suggest traveling with a pen and notepad, or a phone, so that if inspirations strikes, you can take notes.

Word count increase: Bucket collecting water

Each writing session should see the word count increase! It’s like a bucket under a sink that catches a single drop of water each day. If that pipe keeps dripping, the bucket will overflow. The same with writing. One hundred words per day is just over thirty-six thousand per year! That’s a small work in one year, a medium size novel in two, and a full-sized story in three years.

Do not worry about how long this takes, the time will pass anyway. Just focus on getting something down each and every day.


This brings us to the end of Part One!


Take it easy mates.

James Jackson