Writing

A Writer’s Journey: At a Crossroads.

crossroads

Have you ever had the feeling that you were at a crossroads in your life? That you are about to dive off and take a plunge into the great unknown, but at the same time you are also holding yourself back?

This is how I have been feeling these past few weeks. Perhaps it’s because there is a change in the air as Spring is beginning to reveal itself or perhaps because I’m feeling more confident in myself that the time has actually come to take a new step when it comes to writing. And yet there is that niggling doubt – fear, uncertainly and a lack of confidence. Once I step forward into that new sphere, what I’ve left behind will stay there. Where I am now will be gone; there is no turning back.

The reality is I’ve been in this current state for quite some time now. I’ve become too comfortable and therefore I’ve become scared of changing the status quo. When we are faced with this situation, and we sit on that fence for too long then all our efforts to get this far will be wasted. You will feel that you’ve become a failure and live the rest of your life with regrets, which only makes you unhappy. You won’t be living up to your true potential and you’ll begin to feel that you have let others down as well as yourself.

It’s a big step, an awkward step, one that you should be prepared to take, however tentatively. If you’re anything like me, you’ve spent years practising and learning your craft; all it takes now is to face the great unknown. That is the biggest challenge.

I know that I have people around me who are urging me forward and a husband prepared to support me every step of the way throughout that new journey. I hope that you too have found that support, even if it is only with one person; that can make all the difference in a writer’s life.

I’m prepared to take the next step into my writer’s journey. I hope you are too.

Are you at a crossroads in your life? Are you prepared to face your fears and take the next step forward? Do you have the support of others with you throughout your journey?

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Image courtesy of Pixabay

This Writer's Life, Writing

Keep the Dream Alive.

kangaroovalleyhouse2

I’ve been away for a few days – a combination of my birthday and our 20th wedding anniversary. Our accommodation was our dream home in our dream location. During every birthday I contemplate what I’ve achieved so far and what my future goals are – this birthday doubly so. This eventually made me think what dreams are the most important to me.

We dream because we really want something. We then have to set ourselves goals in order to help achieve those dreams. We’re told to dream big and big dreams can mean big goals – as long as we have the persistence and determination to see it through, as well as an awful lot of hard work. Our success in achieving our dream is a result of how badly we want it.

When I was younger, my dream was to become a writer, but now I realise I always was a writer. The difference is simply to either be a writer or a published writer. I have always had more than the one dream, but it has always been a matter of priorities. Sometimes we have to sacrifice our other dreams for the one that is the most important to us. Yet, who knows? The dream that is of the utmost importance may lead us to those other dreams, therefore making that one really big dream all the more valuable.

Just like coming back from any holiday, it’s hard to get back to reality. The reality is that to become published, we need to put in the hard work. These days with the rise in self-publishing, having such a dream can come true. If we dream long enough and work hard enough, anything is possible.

Have you always dreamt of being a published writer? What other dreams do you have? Have you ever had to sacrifice some dreams for others?

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This Writer's Life, Writing

Between a Rock and a Hard Place.

cavesenterance3smallAs new writers, we tend to be insecure and therefore focus on the negative; those people who try to persuade us not to pursue the life of a writer. Yet, we need more people who try to do the opposite; those who believe in us and encourage us to be who we really are. With my friends in the U.S.  approaching Thanksgiving this month, I felt it only appropriate to think about those who support us with our writing endeavours.

In high school, I used to write stories and give them to my friends to read in instalments. I guess you could say they were my first beta readers. Yet it was not until I met my husband that I had found someone who strongly believed I should pursue writing and take it more seriously. He was the first person I trusted to tell about my writing, without feeling ashamed of having that ambition. In fact, he thought it was a great idea!

In recent years, my writing group has disbanded, and although we didn’t meet very often, I managed to take some positive comments from them regarding my work. One man’s comment I will never forget. He said ‘You’ll get published one day; it’s just a matter of when’. These days, my husband is the lone driving force behind my writing (perhaps a large part of that is his plan for early retirement once I write my ‘best seller’ 😉 ) .

My husband likes to remind me of the small successes I have already made, as well as telling me that others have given positive comments on my writing. It is his support, more than anybody else that I rely on. He was the first to encourage me every step of the way, and continues to do so – even emailing me motivational quotes. My husband is prepared to be the sole bread winner while I try to make a success out of writing. I owe it to him to persevere.

As each of us work our way towards our own writing journey, we owe it to those people who stick by us. Sometimes they tend to believe in us better than we do ourselves! We need to put in the hard work and persist in putting our writing out into the world. We don’t know unless we try.

Do you have a good support group? Who is your ‘rock’? Have you ever received positive feedback that helps keep you going?

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This Writer's Life, Writing

Writers: Choose Progress Over Perfection.

MushroomsRecently my husband suggested I should start sending my writing off for people to read. He came up with a few names, but I found myself ultimately tensing up and disagreeing with those names he had suggested.

He then raised a very valid point – if I don’t want anyone to read my writing, then I don’t want to get published; I’ll only be writing for myself. As an unpublished writer, at the moment I am only writing for myself. I’m finding out where my strengths and weaknesses are and I want to build up a body of work so that when I do publish, I’ll have more than one book on offer. Sounds reasonable, however, the problem with that is that it could take years, so why wait that long?

During our conversation, a voice in the back of my head screamed ‘I’m not ready!’ Fear took hold of me once again. Why? I then realised that my fear stemmed from perfectionism. I can’t let anyone read my work – it needs to be perfect before I can do that!

The trouble is there is no such thing as perfect. It’s an illusion. We admire other writers – their writing can look so damned perfect, yet we only ever see the finished product. Years of hard work and persistence enabled these writers to reach such a high standard and yet they learned to let go. They knew when their best was good enough. Like any art, not everyone is going to like everything you write. In order to do the best we can at our craft, we need to make mistakes. If we’re not making mistakes, we’re not learning. Participating in National Novel Writing Month  is the ultimate way in which writers can lose all pretence of perfectionism, and author Anne R Allen lists several ways in which NaNoWriMo can help.

Change your way of thinking. Instead of aiming for perfection, think about making progress instead. Learning to progress increases your knowledge, which can make you an expert in certain areas. It broadens the mind; makes you a more interesting person and can become a great motivator. It will also help you decide that, you too, have done the best you can do and can move on.

Aiming for perfection can be crippling as it helps feed those self-doubts. Perfection doesn’t help you to move forward as a writer, instead strive for progress and you’ll never look back.

Do you struggle with perfectionism? Does perfectionism hold you back from achieving your goals? Will you be participating in NaNoWriMo this year?

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Writing

5 Things Preventing You from Being a Prolific Writer.

Mary_Pickford-deskFor as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to be a writer, yet in recent months I have been doing a lot of soul-searching. I had to ask myself what is my goal? Yes, I want to be a published writer, but I also want to be a prolific writer. I quickly discovered five ways guaranteed not to achieve that goal.

1. Don’t write.

I have a confession to make. Since I stopped blogging back in June, I haven’t written as much as I had hoped. Why? Aiming for perfection can be crippling. And I guess I’m a slow writer anyway. But not writing is hardly going to make one a prolific writer, let alone a writer at all. Writers write – it’s that simple. Find out why you’re not writing and aim to change that. If you really want to be a writer, you’ll find a way to get back into the saddle.

2. Don’t send any of your work out.

Are you writing for yourself or do you want to be published? As writers, we initially start out as writing for ourselves, but are you willing to move beyond that and allow others into your world? Does the thought of someone else reading your innermost thoughts frighten you, or do you have something to say that you wish to communicate to others? Establish who you are writing for, as this will move you forward towards your goal. Don’t let the rejections stop you – this is all part of a writer’s life. It’s a learning curve that all writers face – including the highly successful ones.

3. Spend too much time on the internet.

The internet and social media can be a great time suck. This is where you really need to put your time management skills into practice. Spend too much time on this and the day is gone before you know it – writing time included. Use a timer, unplug your modem or go on the internet/social media after you’ve reached your writing goals for the day.

4. Spend too much time going over the same things you’ve already written.

I have gone over some of my completed works so many times I’m getting pretty sick of the sight of them. My weakness for perfection prevents me from taking the next step. Spending too much time on the same piece of writing stalls the writing process in that new works don’t get written. You lose your motivation. Put the piece aside for a while, give it up all together, or send it off to beta readers/a competition and move on.

5. Fear.

Fear or a lack of confidence in ourselves is the biggest destroyer of our writing. I’ve talked about this issue a number of times before, mainly because it’s something I need to deal with on a daily basis (and I’m sure I’m not the only one). Don’t let others destroy your dreams – be your own motivation.

What are your goals as a writer? Do you hope of being a prolific writer? What prevents you from writing? 

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Writing

A Writing Hiatus – Is it Worth It?

Gerry smallOne of the golden rules of writing is to write every day, yet sometimes, we may suffer from ‘information overload’ or there is so much happening in our home lives that we need to take some time away from writing.

Within the last few months, I have taken a writing hiatus (and therefore a blogging hiatus). I needed to step back from writing to assess exactly what my goals were. There was no point in writing if I didn’t know what they were, let alone what kind of writing I enjoyed the most.

By taking this recent hiatus, I soon discovered these three things:-

1. Taking a break helps clear the head

These days people are busier than ever. With the introduction of the internet and social media, we tend to suffer from information overload. Unplug for a few days and you’ll notice a difference. You’ll feel less stressed and much happier. A change of scene or simply exercising, like walking, can be very beneficial. It helps you reassess what’s important, what your goals are and what steps you can take next to achieve those goals.

2. A break helps you come up with new ideas

While we’re busy with writing projects, sometimes when we try too hard to come up with new ideas, we can hit a wall. Taking time out from writing helps you to come up with new writing ideas. When they come, don’t hesitate to write them down. Getting new ideas is exciting and helps keep you motivated.

3. Taking a break solves problems in existing WIPs.

If you’re struggling with a few plot holes, a writing hiatus can help. Again, thinking too much on how to solve these problems can stall the writing process. It’s best step away and have a break. The answers generally come once we allow our subconscious to take control.

When was the last time you took a break from writing? Do you find taking a break from writing a help or a hindrance?

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This Writer's Life, Writing

Writing Within Toxic Relationships.

Since finishing my University studies, I took a well-deserved break. However, that break has since made my return to writing become a very slow journey. It has left me questioning my motivations and wonder if I really want to do this writing gig anymore. The simple answer is yes, it is who I am; yet I’ve become to realise that what is holding me back is a complete lack of self-confidence, brought about by toxic relationships.

Toxic relationships can happen in the form of friends, and although painful, it is easier to keep such relationships at a distance. However, toxic relationships in the form of family can be an even tougher challenge.

A few years after I left school, my mother laughed at the idea when I told her I always wanted to be a writer. To this day she insists I never knew what I wanted to do when I left school; either she refuses to listen or refuses to accept my career choice and who I really am (after all, ‘there’s no money in the arts’). She also insists that ‘you never had any self -confidence’. I hear it over and over again – the trouble is when you get told a lie often enough, you begin to believe it.

Despite how this all sounds, I’m not bagging out my mother; I’m only trying to demonstrate that some people (and often those closest to you) can destroy our self-esteem without even realising it. We want our family and friends to be proud of our achievements and support us in what we do, yet their good intentions to protect us from getting ourselves hurt can often backfire. We reach a certain age where we’re old enough to make our own decisions and learn from our own mistakes; this is what life is all about. Why should we let someone else’s opinions rule our lives?

After speaking to my cheerleader and accountability buddy (ie. my husband) about it he began showing me some motivational quotes. This is the one that spoke loudest to me:-

motivational quote

I’m beginning to find that by reading some good motivational quotes, walking and listening to writing podcasts and music early in the day helps to make me happy, and in turn, motivates me to write. It can be a long process, but finding that belief in yourself, in the end, ultimately begins with you.

Are you surrounded by others who lower your self-esteem? What do you do to keep up your motivation? Do you find it is more your family than your friends who try to demolish your dreams? What type of things has been said to you?

Image via theBERRY

This Writer's Life, Writing

Calling Yourself a Writer.

IWSG Calling Yourself a Writer

A few short months ago, I put in for some casual work at my old employer, only to be knocked back. Upon seeing some of the people I used to work with, one of them asked what I was going to do now. Instead of simply telling them I was going to write, I kept quiet.

On this blog and on other forms of social media, I call myself a writer, yet I find it difficult to tell anyone outside of that. Social media is safer; you can ‘hide’ behind your keyboard and nobody really knows you anyway. When you’re taking that big step from being a hobbyist to professional it can be very daunting. Self-doubt begins to creep in; calling yourself a writer with nothing or very little to show for it makes you feel a fake, a phoney, a fraud. Telling others you’re a writer in the pre-published stages can either result in a lack of interest once they realise you haven’t published a book or lack of interest because they feel you’re wasting your time.

The good news is that by telling people you’re a writer during the early stages not only holds you accountable, it also means that you’re committed to give it your best. I’m gradually coming to the realisation that it really doesn’t matter what other people think. For a long time I’ve gone along with what is considered ‘acceptable’ in our society when it comes to employment. Not everyone has dreams, but for those of us who do, we are entitled to at least try. Fear can hold many people back and we admire those who succeed in reaching their dreams. If you write, then yes, you are a writer. Calling yourself a writer begins with you – name it and claim it.

Do you have trouble telling others you’re a writer? Do you find it easier to be yourself behind the keyboard? Are you a hobby writer aiming at being professional? What have you done or are currently doing to reach your dreams?

 Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Life Lessons, This Writer's Life, Writing

Being a Writer: A Leap of Faith.

A Leap of Faith

Every once in a while, when my family and I visit Canberra, we go to Questacon – The National Science and Technology Centre. One of the exhibits is a slide where you are required to let go of a metal bar, allowing yourself to freefall down the slide. Every time I position myself for that drop, sitting on the edge and looking down what is ahead of me, fear tightens its grip. It’s a similar situation when change occurs in your life.

In October 2013, I completed several years of University study; a change was in the air. Then only a few short weeks ago, I received notification that I was unsuccessful in obtaining casual work at my previous employer. As I typed up a couple of emails, making my referees aware of this situation, there were tears in my eyes. Feeling foolish, I could not understand why that was happening. I had come to realise that that particular phase in my life had come to an end. It wasn’t until a few short days later that I compared it to a rejection letter – something I was going to have to get used to in the writing world. Yet, I also began to see the bigger picture. That letter also signified another push for change. Two significant parts of my life were now over and slowly giving me the gentle nudge I needed to begin my writing journey. The message was now clear; the dream of writing for a living – a dream I have had since I was ten years old – could now become a reality.

Letting go of the bar to go down the slide at Questacon is an exhilarating experience. Like being in the front carriage of a roller coaster, it’s a lot of fun. Change can be like that too, but we won’t know unless we allow ourselves to freefall and take a leap of faith.

Have you ever felt circumstances conspired to give you the push you needed for change? Do you allow fear to stop you from reaching your goals? How do you react to change?

Image by Debbie Johansson

Writing

A Writer in Progress.

In a recent conversation with one of the mothers at my son’s new school, she looked at me and asked ‘You don’t work?’  I quickly replied that I do casual work.  Straight away, I jumped into the safe, acceptable job, rather than tell her I’m a writer.

I have been down this road a number of times over the years.  During my mother’s generation, one was frowned upon if women went to work, rather than stay at home and look after the kids.  Now it’s the complete opposite; I may not get dirty looks, but I can certainly feel their scorn.  They think I stay at home and do nothing all day.  Very few know I write, and only a handful know that I study.  It is those mothers who don’t know me that are always so quick to judge.

Yet, a tiny voice inside my head refuses to allow me to tell anyone that I write.  That voice is the voice of self-confidence.  Because I am just starting to get myself out there and have very little publishing credits, I believe I sound like a fraud in saying I’m a writer.  I know how it would sound.  People would ask me what I’ve written (meaning published) and I would reply very little.  They would look dubious, and I would feel ashamed.  Rather than let that happen, I continue to be in an acceptable role.

And so I continue to be a writer in progress; practicing my craft and trying to make it as perfect as I possibly can.  Putting my work out there is the first step to self-confidence and letting people know who I am: a writer.

Image by Debbie Johansson.