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?

Enjoy this article? Subscribe to my blog and never miss a post. You can also follow me on Twitter and Google+. You can also find me on Goodreads and Pinterest.

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.