Have You Re-Worked An Old Story?

stack-of-books-1001655_1280When it comes to writing, I’m a bit of a hoarder; I don’t throw anything out. Next to my desk is a chest full of notebooks, manilla folders and scraps of paper containing story ideas, incomplete manuscripts and research notes. It’s what some people like to call ‘an organised mess’. However, this mess could be a goldmine for a writer.

Every once in a while I go through this collection, surprised to see how long it has been since I’ve looked at some of these pieces, seeing the possibilities in a many number of them. I keep asking myself why I’ve never bothered to continue working on them. There is one in particular that stands out.

89f02ba9c66e17313a433a4b6daba917About ten years ago, I wrote a young adult novel. It was complete in that it had a beginning, middle and end – only trouble was it was less than 30,000 words (and contains a number of subplots not suitable for a novella). Clearly more work needed to be done. At the time I gave it to a beta reader for feedback. The feedback I received was: – ‘This story was great – no – brilliant!’  And this was just in its very first draft! So, with positive feedback such as this, what did I do? Being in a group of insecure writers, I think you all know the answer that that one – I let fear get the better of me.

Over the years, I have worked on it, believing that this story has potential. It has only been within the last year or so that I have thought of the possibility of turning this into a series. For now though, I just need to concentrate on this one, making it the best I possibly can and worry about the other possibilities later.

Have you ever pulled out a really old story and re-worked it? Did it work out? Are you a hoarder when it comes to your writing? Does fear hold you back from working on a piece you think has potential?

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Image courtesy of Pixabay











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 As an unpublished writer, at the moment I am only writing for myself.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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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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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.

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

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.

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