Life Lessons, This Writer's Life, Up Close & Personal, Writing

The Writing Journey: Persistence Matters.

Image courtesy of Pixabay.

In November of 2019, I self-published my first short story. Since then, I have published two more short stories and recently published my first novella, the first in a series. I have learned a few things along the way, and being an author is an occupation where you are always learning. But I think one of the biggest things I’ve learnt is that indie publishing is not for the faint of heart.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m one of the most determined and obstinate people you will ever find (just ask my husband), but one of my biggest weaknesses is comparing myself to others. I’ve been telling myself (and you here on this blog), that everyone’s writing journey is different, and this is my way to remind myself of this reality. In her book Dear Writer, You Need to Quit, Becca Syme has an entire chapter on the subject – ‘Quit Trying to Be Like Everyone Else.’ It’s good to know that there are other people out there who feel the same way I do. Even though my husband has been telling me this for years, I guess I needed to also hear it from others.

However, back in September 2020, things started to fall down around me. Despite being in a network of other writers, I felt alone. Even though they are lovely people whom I’m happy to have as writing friends, it began to dawn on me that they were not my ‘tribe.’ What I write does not necessarily gel with theirs. I started to pull away and even though I published another book of short stories a couple of months later, I began to go through one of the longest bouts of depression I have ever experienced.

Throughout this period and into a new year, I spent months setting up and sending out newsletters, and preparing my first Gothic novella for publication. I wondered what the point was because nobody cared, no-one was interested. I felt like a complete failure, but I persisted. As recently as April, a month before publication, my husband told me that if I wasn’t enjoying it anymore, then don’t do it. Do something else. I couldn’t stop because writing is all I’ve ever wanted to do. ‘This is me,’ I told him. ‘This is who I am.’ He just didn’t get it.

I like to keep this quote on my desk as a constant reminder.

It was also around this time, that something started to happen, a kind of shift. A fellow writer put me onto David Gaughran’s course ‘Starting from Zero.’ As I prepared my next book for its release, I began to use what he taught me. Shortly after release, a Facebook friend sent me a request to join a group for indie horror writers. From that group, I was asked to participate in a competition for Gothic writers, as well as join a group for Gothic readers (which also included writers). I had finally found my ‘tribe.’

Together, these two incidents, helped make the launch of The Curse of Marsden Hall, my most successful. It reached as high as No.4 in one of its categories on Amazon Australia and was one of its ‘hot new releases.’ This then helped one of my other short stories, First Christmas, reach No.2 (yes, you read that right) in one of its categories on Amazon Australia.

A rare moment of seeing two of my books side by side in the Top 20.

Of-course such a high is short lived and it was a good couple of weeks while it lasted, but it gives me hope that maybe – just maybe – things might be starting to change on my writing journey.

For eight months I struggled with self-doubt and depression, but it was also a journey of self-discovery. I’ve learned who I am as a writer, both in my genre and my process. I’ve come to the conclusion, that although I may not become a big name, what’s important for me is the writing itself, and making my readers happy. Who knows, I might become an ‘overnight success’ by the time I’ve published my 20th book! 😉

Yes, I’ll continue to doubt myself and make mistakes along the way, but I’ve managed to overcome this hurdle. Persistence (and a healthy dose of stubbornness) pays off.

Being an indie author is hard work but there’s no point in worrying about things out of your control. Keep showing up and put yourself out there. Have fun, and love what you do!

It’s been some months since I last posted about writing and my writing journey (and reading this post, you’ll understand why). This hasn’t been an easy post for me to write, but I do so because I prefer to be honest with you and maybe help others who are struggling with their own writing journey.

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Up Close & Personal, Writing

Writers: Embrace the Moment.

crossfit-534615_1280Recently I’ve discovered that one uses similar paths when it comes to writing and losing weight. Both require self-motivation, persistence, determination and a lot of hard work.

A few years ago I joined one of those more well-known weight loss programs. Within six months I had lost ten kilos (22 pounds). It was difficult to keep eating certain foods (especially to keep off the chocolate!), smaller portions and exercising every single day, but the rewards were well worth the effort. That was until I had completed my weight loss program. My husband’s response was simple: ‘That’s good’, he said. ‘Keep going’. Between his words and being on my own to maintain my weight, needless to say, I put all it all back on again (and then some 🙁 ).

I had discovered the hard way that diets don’t work. People are always looking for the ‘quick fix’. Like diets, some people who say they want to be writers are not prepared to put in all the hard work and effort. They are not in it for the long haul – they are the ‘wannabes’ (and yes, I’m giving myself a good pep talk here, too).

Now I understand what my husband meant. I had made a good start, now I had to keep at it; this is where the hard work really starts. I had lost the weight, now I had to stay healthy. In order to do that I needed to be self-motivated and persistent in order to make sure all the work I had done had not been wasted.

If we’re really serious about writing, we don’t want to be lumped in with the ‘wannabes’. Less talk, more action. If we are doing something we enjoy, then we should make the most of every minute of it. Enjoy each step, even if at times, they may be slow. To be successful at our craft involves a lot of patience as well as hard work. It takes time to build publishing credits, become traditionally published and gather a loyal following. That is what will make all that time and effort all the more rewarding.

When your calf muscles cry out for mercy as you struggle up that hill, push yourself just that little bit further. No job worth doing will be easy. Just keep going.

Are you embracing where you are currently in your writing endeavours? Are you fed up with feeling like a ‘wannabe’ and afraid to make that first step?

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* I’ll be taking a short break from blogging during the Christmas/New Year period. I will be back on 14 January, 2015. Enjoy your Christmas everyone and have a safe and happy holiday season!