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

The Fear of Failure.

Before I begin with this post, I’d like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Happy New Year. Here’s hoping it will turn out to be a happy, healthy and prosperous one for all of us!

Recently I read a blog post by Kristen Lamb on the 5 Areas We Need Permission for Success. One of those was to allow ourselves the permission to fail. This is a big one as I believe that for me at least, this one area works like a domino affect as it creates all the others that she mentions.

Being the youngest of three daughters, I was labelled ‘different’ from an early age. I was imaginative, observant and a bit of a loner. The quiet one, or ‘shy’ as some would call it. My mother would call me ‘different’ as if it was a bad thing (yeah, still does). It’s as if there is something wrong with me. I always had the feeling that I didn’t quite fit in because I’d be compared to my sisters. When I started high school, teachers also started comparing me to my elder sisters, but it didn’t last long; I was ‘different’. There was always a level of high expectation. If I didn’t meet them, I was a ‘failure’, causing low self-esteem. I was afraid to try new things.

This fear of failure has resulted in being a perfectionist. I grew up with the belief that everything had to be perfect the first time around. It has become ingrained. During my University studies I would stall at starting any assignments which were all essays. The thought of writing something made me anxious, but I had a deadline to meet and once I began writing, I was fine. It’s the same these days when it comes to writing, only I don’t have any deadlines. Right now, I’m doing this for me. Perfectionism is the worst form of procrastination there is as I use different things to distract me; go on social media, play on the ipad, listen to podcasts, watch Netflix (yeah, I think you get the picture). I fail to try because I don’t want to fail.

The thing is though failure can be good for us. We learn what our strengths and weaknesses are. We learn through our mistakes and in order to make ourselves better, we work on them. We put in the hard yards until we are satisfied with the results. There can be times when mistakes can even take us down paths we never would have tried otherwise. Without making the effort to try, we’ll never know what we are capable of. We may live the rest of our lives with regrets.

I believe that I will be taking the path to self-publishing. That now is my biggest challenge. In all honesty just the very thought of it frightens the living daylights out of me. It is revealing myself to the world, revealing what has been private for so many years. Just writing this post is a frightening prospect, but this is why blogging has been such an enormous help. If I fail, then at least I know I’ve tried. And that’s all anyone can really ask for.

Are you afraid of failure? Has the thought of failure made you a perfectionist? Do you plan to step out of your comfort zone and do something different in 2018?

Side Note: Just a reminder that in 2018, I’ll be spending less time on social media and more time writing. I will continue to blog, although there may be times when my posts may become somewhat erratic, but it’s all in a good cause, so stick with me (pretty please). 😉

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Writing

Dealing with Writer’s Doubt.

keyboard-621832_1280For the past few months, I have been doing a fair amount of soul-searching; family health issues have made me question my own mortality and goals in life. This is why last month I wrote about perfectionism and self-criticism; criticism that also comes from those around us, which can sadly include family members. Such criticism leads to you doubting your own abilities, which therefore sets you up for failure.

So, what can we do to fix these self-doubts when it comes to our writing? I have come up with these five ideas:-

1. Become part of a writing community: Being with other like-minded people helps you understand that you’re not alone and they can help you get out of that rut that you find yourself in. Such communication helps to cheer you up, which can motivate you to keep moving forward in your writing goals.

2. Find some beta readers: Finding the right group of beta readers can take time, so you need to be clear in what you want from them. Letting other people read your work helps you to work on your strengths and weaknesses, as well as developing that thick skin.

3. Work to deadlines: If you don’t work to deadlines, you will never get that work finished; having no deadline helps you to procrastinate. If you don’t have a deadline, create your own and make sure that you will be held accountable when meeting that deadline (eg. sending work out to beta readers).

4. Blog: There are many benefits to writing a blog, but the main reasons for new writers to blog are that it gets you writing, you are sharing your writing with the world, creating a community and learning to work to a deadline. You are learning to put yourself ‘out there’ and making a name for yourself which is beneficial for when you publish your other works.

5. Sending work out: This is the big one, but if you really want to get published, you need to bite the bullet and just do it. If you have the support of a writing community and beta readers, this will help ease the fear and after sending your first couple of pieces out, it becomes a habit. As the saying goes, there is nothing to fear but fear itself.

Writing is a pursuit that not only should be habit forming, but one that needs an awful lot of perseverance. It takes time to make any real progress with this writing venture, so you cannot afford to waste that time on self-doubts and listening to those who insist on placing those doubts in your head in the first place (and yes, I’m taking my own advice 😉 ).

Are you too hard on yourself? Have you spent too long believing in the negative opinions of others? What do you do to overcome your self-doubts? Do you believe life is too short to worry what other people think? Have you had a health scare that made you question your own mortality?

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

Image courtesy of Pixabay

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?

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

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Life Lessons, Up Close & Personal, Writing

Learning to Let Go.

Girl jumping

Years ago when both my children started school, it was an emotional time for me. I didn’t want to be one of those clingy, emotional mothers that couldn’t be parted from their child, but yes, I caved in. As a mother I would watch anxiously as the hours ticked by slowly, yet as a writer I relished in the peace and quiet.

Now in 2015, another adjustment needs to be made within my family dynamics. My son has finished school and will undertake study in the same town where my husband lives and works during the week – 95 kilometres (59 miles) away. Although he will be staying with my husband, my son will be ‘leaving the nest’ to some degree. This will take some getting used to, but in order for my son to grow and gain independence, I have to learn to let go.

As I need to learn to let go of my children, so too, must I learn to let go of my writing. For me, 2015 will be a year where I must learn ‘to ship’ as the saying goes. The fear of putting my work out into the world needs to be addressed if I want to be published (which of-course, I do).

During all those years of studying at University, writing essays taught me two things; that

  1. Not everyone is going to like what you write or agree with your opinion – it’s a matter of personal taste.
  2. No matter how many times you go over your work, it will never truly be ‘perfect’.

Yes, our writing does feel personal; a part of us is put out into the world and we long for acceptance. Yet if we continually keep our writing away from others, in order to prevent ourselves from getting hurt, we can never really grow as writers and our message will never be heard. Sometimes what we really fear is fear itself. It’s time to be brave and just let go.

What are your goals for 2015? Have you learnt to let go of your writing? How did you overcome your fear of submitting your work? Have you discovered it’s not a bad as you thought?

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.

Life Lessons, Up Close & Personal, Writing

The Winds of Change.

timechangesWith the end of my University studies, it brings about a wind of change. While one door closes, another door opens.  Finally escaping those shackles may see a new freedom, but it also brings with it a lot of responsibility.  As I’ve always wanted to write, and my husband telling me that now is the time to do so, I’m not only feeling a bit lost, but also alone.

I’ve never been good at change. When I was a kid I would get extremely nervous whenever I was placed in new situations. I would have great plans to undertake something different with my life, but then I would think about it for too long; weigh the pros and cons, and then abandon the idea altogether. I was afraid of doing something that was different with my life and as a result I would fail to make any real progress.

Late last year saw a dramatic change in my life; my husband got a job in a town about 95 kilometres (59 miles) away from home. Rather than travel the distance every day, he decided to stay there during the week and come home for the weekends.  I had not anticipated seeing myself as a single mother or weekend wife. This was going to be a real challenge; a change in my life that I didn’t dare think about, and yet, strangely that is exactly what got me through the whole ordeal during those early months. I refused to think about the situation and just got on with what needed to be done. There is an element of truth in Nike’s tagline of ‘Just Do It’; you just do what you have to do.  I found the resolve to keep on going, and now over twelve months later in the same situation, I’m still using it.

Since then, I’ve come to learn that:-

  1. We’re stronger than we think we are.
  2. Being alone is not always a bad thing – in fact, it makes us more independent.
  3. If we’re not changing, we’re not growing.

There’s no point in worrying, especially regarding those things that are out of our control. What we can control is our attitude and our approach, one day at a time.

Are you afraid of change? Did you ever find yourself having to rely upon your inner strength? What situation have you been in that made you feel alone? Did you find yourself in a situation where you’re now glad you’ve gained your independence?

Image by Debbie Johansson.

Life Lessons, This Writer's Life, Writing

Lost & Found: A Writer’s Journey.

McCubbin's Lost smallestIt has taken seven years of hard work, headaches, and sometimes almost complete abandonment, but I have finally completed my University studies.  Some weeks after I finished my last assignment, my elation was hampered by doubts and confusion.  Not used to being idle, I felt lost.

I can be pretty hopeless when it comes to a sense of direction.  I can’t venture into unknown territory without a map, which is why I always need my husband to read the maps while I drive.

Some years back, I drove home alone after visiting my sister’s place in a suburb in southern Sydney.  After a few visits, I knew the route home, but on this particular day I must have been overly confident, for I had taken a wrong turn.  I had detoured into unfamiliar territory and felt instant panic.  I tried to keep as close to the highway as possible, knowing this was the only way I could get back home.  I pulled over to the side of the road and consulted the street directory, but this didn’t help as I could not locate any street signs, let alone read them.  Now I knew how Dorothy felt in the Wizard of Oz; being lost can be a frightening experience.  I saw some people walking on the path nearby and was faced with a dilemma.  Which fear was greater – being lost or talking to strangers?  I chose the former and asked these people directions that would see me safely on my way home again.

From this experience, I came to realise three important things:-

  1.  The future is full of uncertainties.
  2.  Have a plan.
  3. It’s alright to ask for help.

So now, after finishing my studies, my husband asked me what I was going to do.  I reverted back to my favourite childhood saying: ‘I don’t know’.  Without hesitation, my husband calmly replied ‘You’ve always wanted to write; now’s your time to do it’.

Sometimes we may stray off course once in a while, but it’s good to know that someone always has our best interests at heart – even complete strangers.

Have you ever been lost and needed help?  What scares you the most – being lost or talking to strangers?  Are you afraid of the unknown?  Do you see uncertainties as opportunities?  Do you believe strangers are friends we haven’t met yet?

Image of Frederick McCubbin’s ‘Lost’ by Debbie Johansson.

The Story Behind the Story, Writing

Stalkers: The Unseen Fear.

This week as I battle my way through National Novel Writing Month (better known as NaNoWriMo), I thought I’d share with you the inspiration behind my current work in progress.

During my late teens and into my early twenties, I had the feeling that someone was watching me.  Either my imagination was getting the better of me or I was completely paranoid.

To get to work, I used to park my car at the nearby station car park and catch the train into Sydney.  Coming home from work one afternoon, I discovered a note on my windscreen.  Thinking it was a flyer, I grabbed it and went to sit in my car.  Upon reading it, I soon discovered that it was a note addressed to me from a complete stranger.

Someone was indeed watching me.  The fear was real.  The situation wasn’t helped that during this time my parents would go away on trips, leaving me alone for weeks on end.  I dreaded those nights alone in a big house, with one elderly neighbour my only call for backup.  On the other side of our house was a large park, dimly lit.  It was no wonder I made a habit of looking out the windows regularly and investigated every noise the house ever made.

My reality has since become perfect fodder for a novel.

Do you ever get the feeling that you are being watched or perhaps even followed? Do you like being home alone at night? Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? Do you write what you know?

Free image by Salvatore Vuono courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Back to the 80s, Research

Horror Movies of the 1980s.

With Halloween just around the corner for my friends in the U.S, thoughts turn towards all things spooky. This month, in order to help celebrate, I’m planning to post accordingly – even with an Australian flavour. I hope you enjoy it!

As I child I grew up watching a lot of movies, rather than curl up with a book (maybe not the best advice for a writer, I know). It was always those that inspired fear that caught my attention the most. The 1980s would have to be one of the best eras when it comes to horror movies. Sure there were some stinkers, yet some have gone on to become classics within the genre. Here is a list of just some of the movies of the 1980s:-

  • Friday the 13th (1980)
  • An American Werewolf in London (1981)
  • The Entity (1981)
  • The Howling (1981)
  • Poltergeist (1982)
  • Gremlins (1984)
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
  • Aliens (1986) – My personal all-time favourite! 🙂
  • The Fly (1986)
  • The Lost Boys (1987)
  • Predator (1987)
  • Child’s Play (1988)

Of-course, a list of horror movies wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Stephen King. I was introduced to his work during the early 1980s and became hooked. In particular, I was especially drawn towards his short stories. Almost all of his books have been made into movies, demonstrating his talent of coming up with new ideas. Here are some of his books that made it to the big screen back in the 1980s:-

  • The Shining (1980)
  • Christine (1983)
  • Cujo (1983)
  • The Dead Zone (1983)
  • Children of the Corn (1984)
  • Firestarter (1984)
  • Pet Sematary (1989)

What is your favourite horror movie? Do you have a favourite horror movie of the 1980s? What are you doing to prepare yourself for Halloween?

Image of Gremlin by Debbie Johansson.

Writing

Beginner Writers: Conquer Your Fears.

For the past few weeks I had been doing well with my writing.  I had finally found the ‘voice’ for one of my protagonists, yet after taking an unscheduled break, I found myself hitting a wall.  I had lost my ‘mojo’, and with it my confidence.

I had always believed that what prevented me from writing was fear, yet I could never actually put a finger on what exactly that fear was.  What actually prevents me from writing is a lack of confidence – a fear that has always been my life-long battle.  It is a difficult one to overcome because it can affect you physically as well as mentally.  It has prevented me from doing many things, yet writing and putting my work out there has always remained constant, therefore it is a battle I wish to overcome.

Here are some of the ways I’ve tried to avoid these problems:-

  • No-one is going to see what you’ve written first time around.  Don’t waste time on getting everything perfect straight away – the important thing is just to write it down.
  • Remind yourself that other people have been published.  If they can do it, so can you!
  • If you have been praised for some of your earlier efforts (preferably by strangers), hold on to that praise – use it to keep you motivated.
  • Read about other people’s efforts, whether they be novels, blogs, articles or on social networks.  Every writer had to start somewhere – use their successes to help fuel your inspiration.
  • Find some good writing quotes and keep them where you can see them – keep your thoughts positive.
  • You know as well as I do that there are some books out there that in hindsight could have been a whole lot better.  If these books can get published, so can yours.  You just need to make sure your work is the best it can be.
  • Work on various projects simultaneously – it stops you from going ‘stale’ and keeps you motivated.
  • Read books on writing or self-help books, like The Power of Positive Thinking.
  • Surround yourself with other writers; get some beta readers, an accountability buddy.  Talk about your feelings and your writing.  Other writers have been in the same position – listen to their advice.
  • Above all else – write!  The more you write, the more confident you will become.  The only way to get better at something is to keep practicing.

What are some of the ways in which you overcome your fears?

Writing

Writing: Letting Go of the Fear.

Growing up I never had a problem watching scary movies or reading scary books.  Roller coasters always made me scream and laugh so much I cried.  So what’s stopping me from trying to move forward as a writer?

I guess the real fear I have is a lack of self-confidence.  Now that was something I always lacked as a child and has continued into my adult life.  It has prevented me from doing many things.  It is the fear of the great unknown, the fear itself of actually trying and making a fool of oneself when unsuccessful.  The trouble is I have a tendency of thinking too much, instead of just getting on with it and doing it.  For many years, for example, I have put off freelance writing just through fear alone.

Writing is something I can do, and always wanted to do.  I have been told that I can write – it’s just a matter of time when I’m going to get published.  My husband believes in me and is very supportive, yet the fear continues.  Sometimes it’s like riding an emotional roller coaster; I’ll beat myself up for being so stupid and get really confident, while other days the self doubt takes a strong grip and refuses to let go.

There have been times when I have refused to let the fear take hold and afterwards, been left wondering why I was so worried in the first place.  As you get older, you don’t necessarily become wiser.  I just don’t want to get older and look back on these opportunities with any regrets.  Funny, how I have to resort to an advertising slogan to help me.  ‘Don’t just dream about it – do it!’