IWSG · Writing Process

IWSG: Working With an Editor.

This month for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, I thought I’d talk about doing something I have been putting off for a long time because of my doubts and fears.

This year, in an effort to step out of my comfort zone, I am looking at self-publishing. It’s a huge undertaking, but I’m gradually working my way towards that ultimate goal (I guess you could say I’m being overly cautious). One of those steps I undertook recently was working with an editor.

The first thing I needed to do was to find one and this demonstrated one of the advantages of social media. I asked for recommendations on Facebook and I received a number of replies, including both recommendations and others offering their services. I went through them all and eventually settled on one once I received a sample edit and seeing that their price was reasonable.

Giving my work out to a professional editor made me nervous for a number of reasons: – I was allowing someone other than my beta readers to read my work, and a professional may confirm my belief that I might not be very good at this.

As they are short stories, she emailed each one back to me once she had finished and I was pleasantly surprised with some of the comments I received. Such comments included ‘I liked this one’, ‘you have such a knack for horror’ and ‘what a beautiful story – loved it’. High praise from a well-known Australian romance author, so yeah, I’ll take it! 😉 She said she loved my work and would be happy to work with me again. She also hoped that I was writing a long book and encouraged me to keep writing.

I discovered that editors are there to help you to improve your own editing skills and make your writing stronger, even though it may take some time to find the right one. It also goes to show that sometimes our fears can be misguided, that the old saying is true:- ‘there is nothing to fear but fear itself’.

Have you been fortunate with your choice of editor? Did it take you a while to find one? Are you looking at self-publishing? Do you have any big plans for your writing this year?

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

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IWSG · This Writer's Life

IWSG: Withdrawing from a Conference.

This post is my first in a return to the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. It’s been a while, but I look forward to reacquainting myself with some old friends and making new ones. 🙂

The Romance Writers of Australia (RWA) hold a conference every year and this year it will be held in Melbourne. In my efforts to make 2019 a year to step out of my comfort zone, I made arrangements to attend my first ever RWA conference. I had the accommodation all booked and when the programme came out, I looked to see what seminars held the most appeal. The only trouble was I hit a snag.

I want to make it clear that this is not in any way being critical of RWA; I have been a member for almost a year now and they have been one of the best organisations I have encountered. The problem was mine; the more I learned about the conference, the more I realised I could not afford to go.

I guess you could say I’m a struggling writer; that person living frugally as they pen their works. I have read a few blog articles from different sources of late that suggests this scenario is just a myth. I don’t know how they came up with that idea, but speaking from experience, the struggling writer still exists. Being a one income family and raising two kids, it’s not exactly easy.

When telling some fellow writers that I have had to withdraw from attending the conference, they have been very helpful and understanding. It was suggested that I could attend local author talks or other conferences closer to home. These don’t have to be in my genre, just as long as I’m immersed in the joy of writing. Also setting myself another writing goal would be beneficial. It was a good reminder that there are plenty of other writing opportunities I could focus on.

I have stewed over my decision for weeks. I came close, but unfortunately, it is not to be. After having come this far and then having to cancel, I feel as though I have let myself down as well as others. I have met some lovely people online through RWA and I was really looking forward to actually meeting them, but unfortunately, it is not going to happen.

Stepping out of my comfort zone this year will not involve the RWA Conference. Instead, I will have to remain focused on my other goal, which is self-publishing. And that is my biggest challenge of all.

Have you ever had to back out of something you said you would do? How did that make you feel? Do you have plans to try something different this year? Have you stepped out of your comfort zone recently?

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

Life Lessons · This Writer's Life

A Slow Start to 2019.

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you all had a good Christmas and relaxing break. I know mine has been so relaxing, I’m finding it difficult to get back into my writing (including blogging). 😉

Just before Christmas, my household had no internet (I know, great timing), and we went without it for about sixteen days. The kids weren’t quite climbing the walls, as they were aware of the issues. They managed to survive alright though! This is where I managed to relax and catch up on podcasts and watch some DVDs.

Just when I thought I could get back into writing once again, the temperatures began to rise, and I began to get sick. After a few days of abdominal pain, I spent some time in hospital, was told I was very dehydrated and had undergone a variety of tests. My health improved about a week later after taking some antibiotics.

The main take away from this experience was that sometimes life throws us some unexpected curve balls. We have to learn to adjust and be flexible (and in this case, I had to be more careful with my health). I had all my plans for the year worked out and ready to go, but I needed to take a step back for a little while. Now I’m getting back into it, slowly but surely. Which is also a very good reminder that when it comes to writing, it is a marathon, not a sprint.

I’ve tried to lower my expectations a bit this year, but as usual, I can’t resist making some big plans, such as losing weight, attending the RWA Australia conference in Melbourne and self-publishing. Sometimes having big plans can not only help us to stay motivated to achieve our goals, but also help us to get out of our comfort zones.

It’s hard to believe we are half way through January already! Let’s get moving! 🙂

Did you have a relaxing Christmas/New Year break? What are your plans for 2019?

Main image courtesy of Unsplash

Writing · Writing Process

5 Lessons Learned from Writing a Novel.

For some months now I have been busy re-writing an old novel I had written during NaNoWriMo back in 2015. The good news is I have finally finished writing it and at around 80k has become one of the longest pieces of writing I have ever done. It has certainly been a struggle for this short story writer!

During this entire process, there have been a few things that I have learned along the way.

1. Have a plan/outline

Previous experience has taught me that in order to finish a long writing project I need to have some kind of outline before I start. At the beginning of each chapter, I therefore wrote what I wanted to happen within that chapter in order to maintain my focus. It does not have to be a detailed outline for many pages that some writers are known to do; you may only need a couple of lines in order to get some sense of direction to move forward.

2. Listen to of your characters

Despite having some kind of plot outline, my characters would say and do things a little bit ‘off script’, sometimes making things better than I had originally imagined. This was great when it came to building my word count or to write again when I needed to take a break, however, this would also take me down the path of panster once again, meaning that I may never finish. When this happens, you may need to reassess what you want with what your character wants and take another look at your plot.

3. Use a timer and have a quota

Ever since I tried NaNoWriMo, I have been using a timer to help get the words written, otherwise my internal editor or perfectionist self can sneak in and it can take too long to get the words written down. Start with a quota that you find doable and gradually challenge yourself to go that little bit further. I began with a daily quota of 1,000 words and used a timer in order to get the words down faster. I would set a timer for 15 minutes and would average 500 words each session. As my 1000 word limit would be reached within half an hour, I then doubled my daily quota so that I wrote 2000 words in one hour. I then increased that to 4000 words a day, broken up into two separate hourly slots.

4. Aim to strike while the iron is hot

I returned to this old NaNoWriMo project because the idea still resonated with me. The more I thought about my characters and plot, the bigger the project had become. Sometimes new ideas may have to be placed on the back-burner if we are currently working on something, but the best time to begin writing a new project is while we are still brimming with enthusiasm, so make the most of such opportunities whenever possible.

5. Have a deadline and word limit.

Because my novel was becoming longer than I had anticipated, I needed to create some kind of deadline as well as consider my word limit, otherwise I would never finish. I had read that the average word limit for debut novels these days tend to be around 80k, so that’s what I aimed for (as well as taking my genre into account). Also I began to feel that the longer it took, my enthusiasm began to wane and I therefore needed a break. With a deadline and word limit in mind, it certainly helped to get the words written down faster.

One of my goals for this year was to step out of my comfort zone and by writing an 80k novel, I think I can safely say I’ve achieved that! It certainly has been a learning experience. 😉

Have you written your first novel and what advice would you give? How are you progressing with your writing goals? Have you stepped out of your comfort zone this year with your writing? Are you a plotter or a panster or somewhere in-between? Have you revisited an old NaNoWriMo project?

Main image courtesy of Unsplash

Life Lessons · Up Close & Personal · Writing

Are You Hiding Your Ambition?

hidden door

In another life, I spent close to ten years doing office work. Of-course looking back on it now it was more for the social aspect, rather than the work itself that I miss (the downside of the writers’ life is that it can be a lonely profession).

I was good at my job and within my first year at work, my supervisor saw my potential and I had progressed from typist to admin assistant. In later years I would go on to be head hunted by two managers and rather than accept the chance of promotion, I turned them both down. I was afraid of change and quite happy to stay in my ‘comfort zone’. When later asked what I wanted to do job wise within the office, I had no real answer.

One co-worker said something to me once that I have never forgotten: ‘You’re wasted in this place’. It wasn’t that I did not have the opportunities to progress; it’s just that I didn’t want to. I had no ambition to work my way up the corporate ladder. I had no intention of spending the rest of my life in an office job. And that’s exactly what it was – a job. I brought home some money every fortnight, which was great, but I was stuck doing something I didn’t want to do.

Office Motivation

It is the fortunate ones that manage to be in a job that they love. I have to admit that in the beginning of my employment years, I really enjoyed my job. I was learning something new all the time, yet in those last few years, things had become stale. I was bored; I wanted out.

One of the things that kept me sane was that throughout those years, I continued to write. On really slow days in the office, I would even bring some of my writing to work with me and work on a piece there (well, I guess technically speaking, I was working on something). I remained being creative for I was drawing as well as writing. I would share such pieces with close co-workers – one piece was read before I submitted it to a women’s magazine (and when I didn’t hear anything, I guess it was my first rejection).

Certainly back then I was much younger and had made mistakes, however, looking back on it all now, I managed to learn the following things:-

  1. Sometimes you really need to push yourself out of your comfort zone, and
  2. I wanted to be a writer above everything else.

Those years were not entirely wasted; I was practising my craft, doing writing courses via correspondence (those prehistoric days before the internet), and experimenting with writing in different genres. Back then, I clearly wasn’t ready to send my work out into the world, yet I knew that to have my work published was the ultimate goal. Sometimes what we long for can take a bit of time – after all, they do say good things come to those who wait.

Are you working towards your ‘dream job’ while working in another? Are you stuck in a job you don’t like? What do you do to get out of your ‘comfort zone’? Are you making the most of your time as a ‘pre-published’ author?

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