Advice to New Writers Part 6: “Odds & Ends”

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Advice to New Writers Part 6: “Odds & Ends”

Before we proceed any further with the plethora of bad advice that I have been pushing on you we need to discuss a few things that are essential to my writing process but would be subjective for everyone else. I realize this may just seem like a bout of mental masturbation but these are details I consider important. While they most likely will NOT be the things that are important to you I think it is safe to say that if you study your process you will easily compile a similar list.

My Writing Space

For me where I write is nearly as important as what I write. When I wrote my very first book, Dead Reign, I was working at Toys R Us. I was on good terms with the store manager and he had no problem allowing me to use the crappy conference room as my writing space. I wrote two novellas, one full book, and my contribution to a group written book either in the conference room or the break room of the two Toys R Us stores I worked at.

After I left Toys R Us I went to work at my current day job at the retirement community. At first I was uncertain if I would be able to write anything there. But once again I found an unnamed space where I was able to create and it was there where I penned the entire Shores of the Dead Series and every other piece of work I have produced since.

But Josh, what about writing at your house?

For me it doesn’t work, or at least it is extremely difficult for me to write in my home. I do not have a dedicated office and with three kids still living at home it is nearly impossible for me to find the time or solitude I need to write. I have managed to turn out some work while at home but it has always been difficult and not very fun.

Writing should always be fun.

My Writing Environment

I get picky when it comes to writing. There are certain things I seem to need in order to create at an acceptable level. This a simple list of things I try to make happen or have available when writing.

Temperature – I need a cool environment when writing. I always make sure the air conditioner is set as cold as possible. I also always bring a portable fan with me. The combination of extra cooling and breeze in my face helps me relax and concentrate

Noises – I find it hard to write in complete silence. Sometimes I like to have music in the background while I write and sometimes I just want the white noise of the AC and the fan. More and more I put on a podcast very low in the background, the sounds of people having a quiet conversation that I am able to drown out and ignore has yielded some productive sessions. The one thing I do not want on is the television. TV shows and Movies draw me out of writing at the best and actually leach into my tales at worst

Linear/Nonlinear – I am unable to write anything from beginning to end. I have to jump around and write in bits and pieces. The perfect example it the Shores of the Dead. I had the very last chapter of book 3 roughed out on the page before I was half way done with book 1. I work in isolated scenes that I proceed to knit together with bridging segments later on. I rarely work with outlines and that all leads to a kind of chaotic style of writing that works for mw but which I do not recommend for anyone else.

Food & Drink – I like to eat and drink. Just look at a picture of me and you will know that to be an absolute truth. The sun is hot, water is wet, and Josh likes to eat and drink. When I am writing ice water and nuts are my primary fodder. Sometimes I will throw iced tea into the mix.

Implements – When I was a teenager and young adult I was a long hand writer. Allow me to put this in perspective. I hated type writers and outside of school computers were to fucking expensive and unavailable. When I was in 8th grade I wrote my first really competent story, a mashup rip off of Star Trek 2 and The Abyss on my grandmother’s computer. An Ancient Tandy. These days I work solely on my lap top and consider myself very spoiled. I have an entire trunk of legal pads (my old school paper of choice) filled with short stories and busted novels too painfully bad to look at.

Outside Input

When I am writing a first draft I want absolutely zero input from others. I don’t want to tell you what my book is about and I don’t want to hear your ideas. So for the love of all of the gods that have never been please leave me alone! It’s not that I do not appreciate interest from friends and family but I don’t want it when I am trying to cut my work out of the creative granite.


This may piss some people off and I know it does irritate many but I do no research during the first draft stage. When I have completed the first draft and received feedback from my initial reader (Karen) I do some research. The second draft is when I put a polish on the work before sending it out to Beta Readers and/or Editors. This is when I go through and facts check my bullshit against the real world.

Remember Kids …


Last Bits

Font – Century Gothic

Size – 12 point

Programs – Microsoft Word and Scrivener

Alright folks that’s it for today. I doubt you will find much of it interesting or useful. But I wanted to give everyone a look behind the curtain and see the bedrock of my writing process.

Till next time kids have some fun and write something.


- Josh

1 Comment

Josh Hilden

When I was born on August 3, 1976 in the great state of Michigan the hills shook and the sky was swept with fire. These were portents of the greatness for my future that was written in the stars ... I'm still waiting for that greatness. My name is Josh Hilden and I am many things. I am a husband, a father, a son, a friend. These are all important things but at my core I am an artist and the medium that I work in is words. I am a writer of Horror, Science Fiction, Drama, and Role Playing Games. I worked for Palladium Books ( and Third Eye Games ( before striking out on my own and founding a small press publishing company Gorillas with Scissors Press ( I also work for Fat Goblin Games ( In the everyday world I can be found spending time with my family and friends. I have been married to my lovely wife Karen since 1996 and we have six amazing children. We tend to be a family of unabashed geeks and gamers who were geek before geek was chic. If you are really interested in me I am very active online with a personal and a writing blog along with a plethora of social media outlets. If you have any questions or just want to chat hit me up!