IWSG · Writing

IWSG: Creativity is in Your Control.

For the past few weeks I’ve been feeling a bit like a rabbit caught in the headlights; I’d like to move forward with my writing, but fear keeps me in place. I’m planning on self-publishing this year and with every small step forward I tend to come to an abrupt halt. Lately, I began to worry about things that were out of my control.

Once our work is out there, there are a lot of expectations that go along with it. With all the pressure on writers to maintain a regular output, I worry that I may not be able to meet that expectation of others. Once I press that ‘publish’ button (which is my greatest fear of all), I fear I will be proven correct that I’m not as good at this writing gig as I think I might be.

It was fortunate then, that I made a few recent discoveries. I read a recent article on JA Konrath’s blog on why your book marketing plan won’t work. I found it an interesting read from someone who has made a success from self-publishing and there are plenty of things to consider. Not only did I get some good advice, but one of the big takeaways I got from it was to stop worrying about what was out of your control.

The other discovery was while I listened to an interview with author Jane Harper on the podcast, So You Want to be a Writer? (yeah, it was a while ago, but I’ve been a bit behind 😉). She mentioned a talk she had given where she gives advice to other creatives. I’ve found her advice helpful and have included the video of it below. She, too, advises to concentrate on the things you can control.

As recently as last week, it took me about fifteen minutes to write an short email of a few lines to my editor, asking for an endorsement for one of my short stories. Yes, I agonised over every word, but I sent it anyway, coming to the decision that there was no harm in asking. I received a reply that same day, saying simply ‘Of-course!’ (Happy Dance! 😊)

Fear has held me back my entire life and I tend to agonise over many things, yet I have found over the years that sometimes when I ignore the fear and do it anyway, things are not half as bad as I thought they would be. The saying is true that ‘there is nothing to fear but fear itself’.

We can’t control if other people will like our writing or not and if they don’t, then perhaps, they’re not our audience. Focusing on what we can control, that is our writing, makes for a less stressful and more enjoyable journey.

Do you worry about things out of your control? Have you found that ‘there is nothing to fear but fear itself’? Have you found advice recently that has helped you to move forward?

The purpose of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds.

Main image courtesy of Pixabay

IWSG · Writing

IWSG: What Is Your Favourite Genre to Write In?

I’ve always followed the old writing advice that in order to write, you need to read – a lot. Over the years I’ve read so many genres, that when it came to actually writing, I could never decide where I actually fit. It wasn’t until recently when I had my short stories professionally edited that I may have realised what was staring me in the face. I was told I had a ‘knack’ for horror.

Growing up, I watched a lot of television and movies. Watching the Gothic horror and mystery of Picnic at Hanging Rock at the cinema (yes, showing my age now), fascinated me and I leaned heavily toward lots of horror movies, including anything from Alfred Hitchcock. I fell in love with The Addams Family and anything Gothic. I was about ten when I accidentally discovered the Gothic Romance novel Dragonwyck and I was hooked. From there I went on to devour any book from Stephen King that I could get my hands on. And the 1980s was very big for horror! 😉

I guess horror was a natural fit as I was always fascinated by the paranormal, especially ghosts. In more recent years I have visited some haunted places and have come away with experiencing something.

It’s the thrill of being scared; an adrenalin rush. Like being on a roller coaster – it’s a high! Monsters can be scary, but also fascinating. It’s the unknown that makes one curious and question our existence. It’s not just monsters either as horror can also take the form of mankind, leaving us to wonder what we are truly capable of. Horror can also lurk within the natural environment too.

Horror is surrounded by suspense and mystery; you’re too frightened to know what lurks beyond, but at the same time you’re curious to find out. Alfred Hitchcock is famous for building suspense, which is a handy skill to know when it comes to writing. We really want our readers to keep turning the pages and not put our stories down until they get the answers they seek.

My writing may be a mix of genres, but so too is horror. And besides, I think it’s a fun genre to write in and shouldn’t we be writing what we enjoy? 😉

Do you enjoy horror? Are you fascinated by the paranormal? What is your favourite genre to write in and why?

The purpose of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds.

Main image courtesy of Pixabay

Writing · Writing Process

5 Lessons from James Patterson’s Masterclass.

Before the end of 2018, I was given an early Christmas present. It was for James Patterson’s Masterclass. I had heard about this course for some time and had been wanting to do it for a while. I was introduced to James Patterson some years back, when I read his first book, Along Came a Spider, the first in the Alex Cross series. Since then he has produced so many books, it’s been difficult to keep up! It’s no wonder he has gone on to become the world’s bestselling author.

The course covers a lot of information and is great for new writers and for writers like myself, who already have some writing knowledge, but could do with more advice. With that in mind, here are five of the best things I learned from the Masterclass:-

1. Write Fast

In order to get the story down, you need to crash through. If you’re struggling, don’t torture yourself, just write ‘to be done’ and move on. This is helpful to avoid the dreaded writer’s block. The more you write, the better you get.

2. Work with an Outline

Everything needs to be in the outline. The outline should have lots of promise, so you can’t wait to write each scene. When you’re writing an outline, you’re thinking about the story. Write the story! James demonstrates this process in a detailed outline guide, and you will need to do the course in order to learn more.

3. Create Complex Characters

You want readers to love your characters or hate them; make the reader ‘feel’. Create characters the reader is not going to forget. In order to understand your character, you need to see the other side to that character by making them more complex and well-rounded. Villains need to be smart, clever and need to surprise you. The more you humanise the villain, the better.

4. Keep Raising the Stakes

Know your genre – know what’s out there in order to avoid it. Don’t write stuff that’s already out there, put a new twist on it. Find something that’s fresh and new. One of the biggest secrets of suspense is setting up questions the reader must have answered. Keep raising the stakes. Keep the reader guessing. Don’t give the answer away too quick; give it away slowly. Don’t assume that anyone is safe.

5. Stay Positive While Editing

Don’t start re-writing until you’ve written one draft. With the first re-write, try to get to the heart of your story. Keep moving forward; make it so that the pages turn themselves. Stay positive during the edit, break it down into parts to make it manageable. Think of editing as making it better. You didn’t make a mistake; you’re making it closer to what it should be.

The biggest take-aways for me were writing fast and working with an outline. Because I tend to think too much over my ideas, by the time I get to write them down, I can sometimes lose interest and look for the new shiny. 😉 Outlines have always been a part of my writing routines, but after doing this course, I’ve been using James’ method ever since.

The course comes with video and workbook, and you can work through them at your own pace. The video contains about twenty-four lessons and the course also contains access to the Masterclass community, so that you can share work and join the discussion with other students.

Because the course covers a wide range, some information you may have heard already, but it does contain advice you may never have heard of before, let alone considered (the gender breakdown of his readership, and how that influences his content is one example).

I felt one of the drawbacks was that James focused on writing thrillers, which is understandable as that is his genre, but it may not be what writers of different genres want to know about. Also, the course covers the topic on writing for Hollywood, which may be interesting, but not necessarily helpful to writers who don’t plan on going down this path.

If you haven’t done the course and you want to know more about it, you can read this helpful post to find out if it is worth your money or you can jump right in and sign up for the Masterclass.

‘If you don’t love it, you’re not going to finish the book. That’s okay. That’s telling you that’s not what you’re going to do. You have an interest in it, but you’re not that passionate about it. If you are passionate about it, you can’t help yourself; you have to write it. You’ve got to write that book’.

Have you done the Masterclass with James Patterson or are you thinking of doing so? What were your main take-aways from the course? What course have you done recently that you found beneficial to your writing?

This Writer's Life · Writing

Follow Your Muse.

Recently, as I was making enquires into having my short stories professionally edited (yes, I’m finally making this big step forward), one asked what genre they were in. This was an interesting question because I really had to think about my answer. Lately, my writing tends to be a variety of different genres.

When I asked my husband, this is how the conversation turned out:

‘What genre would you say my writing is?’

‘Dark’.

‘That’s not a genre’.

‘Okay. Macabre’.

‘That’s not a genre either’.

As you can see, this was not getting me anywhere! In the end, I put the genres of my short stories down to paranormal, crime and general fiction.

This question certainly gave me pause for thought, because lately, I have been wondering this myself. Many years ago, when I first began writing, I recall reading somewhere that in order to write I needed to read and read widely. So, I took up that advice, which is why now, I’m finding it difficult to place my writing into just one ‘box’. This demonstrates another good advantage to indie publishing, as one has the freedom to experiment with their writing.

Of course, all this thinking can be seen as another stalling tactic. Who me, overthink things? My fear is so great that I am using my writing as an excuse to prevent myself from moving forward. I also believe that platform anxiety has also played its part.

I truly do envy writers who write in one genre; at least they know which way their muse is taking them. For writers like me, I’m still finding my way. So, for now, I have decided that I should just go wherever my muse takes me. All I know for certain is that my muse prefers to take me down some dark, deserted paths. 😉

Do you follow wherever your muse takes you? Do you find your writing fits in more than one ‘box’? If you write in more than one genre, do you use a pen name or stick with what you’re already using?

Main image courtesy of Unsplash

This Writer's Life · Writing

What Would You Have Done Differently in 2018?

Towards the end of 2017, I concluded that if I could do it all again, I would have written more during that year. I needed to remove a lot of distractions, especially those that I could control, mainly the internet and social media.

So, what about this year? When it comes to 2018, I’ve done a few short writing courses, began setting some boundaries (which has been very liberating), joined the Romance Writers of Australia (where I think I’ve finally found my ‘tribe’) and stepped out of my comfort zone by writing an 80k paranormal romance.

And it is with that last point, the 80k novel, that gives me pause for thought. This novel (where I still need to come up with a title), I had basically spent the entire year writing, which in this era of instant gratification is far too long. Stephen King recommends about three months, which I think is reasonable, provided of-course you have your plot well sorted out beforehand. I thought I did, but I wasn’t happy with it, so I started all over again. I learned the hard way that this story idea needed more time to simmer.

So basically in 2018, I should have written faster. The only way I believe I can really achieve that is to work harder on those distractions, stop with my perfectionism as well as stop thinking so much and just do it! Our time is short enough as it is without worrying about the little things. Self-doubt has plagued me for so long, that there are times it can be crippling and that is why it was so good to remove some of those boundaries. It’s been a long, slow process, but I think I’m finally getting somewhere.

Of-course, I did not self-publish this year, however, I’ve been reading up about the subject, done a short course through RWA and have been looking into copy-editors and cover designers, as well as coming up with some kind of plan. There’s a lot to self-publishing and I want to make sure I make as few mistakes as possible (yes, that’s the perfectionist in me talking once again). Either way, I will be making the plunge in 2019 (takes deep breaths)!

So that’s the year that was and my hopes for the year ahead.

Let me take this opportunity to wish you all a Happy Christmas and enjoy your holidays. Thank you so much for reading and being a part of my blogging community. I look forward to seeing you all again in the New Year. Let’s make it a good one! 🙂

As you look back on 2018, with all its successes/failures, if you could backtrack, what would you do differently? Have you learnt something about yourself this year? What are your plans for 2019?

Images courtesy of Unsplash

This Writer's Life · Writing

6 Signs You May be a Writer.

Lately, I’ve been working on my current work in progress and now I can finally say that I’ve finished!

It’s the longest piece I’ve ever done, so it has been quite a challenge. I have wrestled self-doubt and there were times when I didn’t think I would actually make it, but I finally got there. This got me thinking about the writer’s life in general and some of our special habits. 😉

You know you’re a writer when:-

1. You’d rather be with your imaginary friends than with real people.

2. You have a habit of staring out your window to solve some of your problems (or even just to daydream).

3. You keep adding books to your ‘to be read’ pile (besides, some of that is research).

4.You have a love-hate relationship with paper.

5. You collect various stationary, even if you don’t need it (but it sure looks pretty).

6. You’d rather write than be in a ‘real’ job (whether you have one or not).

What do you think are some of the special quirks of being a writer? Do you consider yourself to be a ‘slow’ writer in a fast-moving world? Have you managed to achieve your writing goals this year?

Main image courtesy of Pixabay

Writing · Writing Process

A Writing Update.

She’s baaack! Well, sort of. 😉

I have been absent for a few weeks and sadly, I have been neglecting my blog as well as all of you, but I have not been neglecting my current work in progress. In fact, I have become so engrossed with my current writing project, that it’s all I can think about. So, this is a quick post you keep you up to date with what’s been happening.

I’m still working on the novel I’ve been working on since earlier this year, but after writing the longest piece of writing I’ve ever done at around 80k, I was not happy with how it turned out. I went over my plot outline and reworked it so much, that I’ve basically had to start from scratch. I deleted an awful lot of words, and yes, it was painful to do, but it was completely necessary.

I began writing a paranormal and my original intention was for my protagonist’s love interest to be the antagonist (no happy ever after here, thank you very much). The thing was, that he was not happy about that at all – he wanted to be a good guy. The more I thought about it, the better my plot became, and I had a more suitable antagonist. So, okay, a paranormal romance it is then.

Now I know I wrote not that long ago, that I don’t like telling others what I’m writing; that I prefer to write with the door closed. And that’s where I will leave it; that I am still working on my work in progress and that it is a paranormal romance.

So lately I’ve been travelling in uncharted waters, but I’m having a lot of fun! And isn’t that what being a writer is all about? 😉

What have you been up to lately? How is your own writing going? Do you listen to what your characters tell you?

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