Inspiration, IWSG

IWSG: Living the Dream.

This month for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, I thought I’d join in on the fun for the optional question. The question being: – how would you describe your future writer self, your life, what it looks and feels like if you were living the dream?

Firstly, if I were able to live my writing dream, I would be living off my writing, my husband could finally retire (his dream in life) and we would buy/build our dream home in Tasmania. This dream home would consist of a few acres and preferably (for me, at least), be near the coast so I can go for long walks along the beach, swim, and listen to the sound of waves crashing upon the shore as I go to sleep at night.

Yes, okay, this isn’t me.

Gone will be the days of having my desk set up between the living room and the kitchen because my dream home would also consist of a suitable office. Of-course this room will have a gorgeous view, complete with window seat, to help my muse find inspiration (okay, daydream), and where I will no doubt leave papers scattered everywhere so that I can just leave them ready for the next day and close the door. No interruptions!

Why yes doctor, I would like some privacy.

I would be able to afford trips around the country and overseas whenever I felt the need to explore, research and meet new people. My ideal destinations are too numerous to go into detail here, but I think you get the idea.

The muse can take some time to kick in!

And of course, I wouldn’t be able to afford such a lifestyle if I wasn’t a prolific, nationally and internationally bestselling indie author. 😉

This reality won’t change though!

How would you describe your future writer self? What would your life look and feel like if you were living the dream?

The purpose of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds.

Main image courtesy of Pixabay

This Writer's Life, Writing

What Do You do When Self-Doubt Strikes?

I have been absent from writing for a few weeks now; I needed to take a break after writing my most recent WIP and more recently having undergone surgery. With the start of a new week, a new computer and feeling better after surgery, I was ready to start writing again. But then doubt crept in and I even began to question the genre of my choice.

Having suffered from self-doubt previously and as recently as April, I needed to work fast in finding ways to combat it. I started listening to writing podcasts, enrolled myself in a writing course and received a pep talk from my husband. Discussing these issues with other writers on social media also helped to quickly overcome those doubts before they became writer’s block.

On one of the podcasts I had been listening to, it stated that every writer faces doubts with each new novel, so it doesn’t go away. It’s just something we must learn to live with and work our way through.

I’m getting back to writing slowly, but slow progress is still progress, right? 😉

What do you do to keep yourself motivated when doubt hits you? Have you needed to take a break from writing recently? What have you been up to these past few weeks?

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Writing, Writing Process

Do You Listen to Music While Writing?

Whenever I write I usually tend to listen to white noise. I find listening to music with lyrics easily distracting as the words that I’m hearing tend to clash with the words that are forming in my head. This is why I tend to listen to such music between writing sessions, as I find music can be a great motivator and can also help if you are experiencing writer’s block.

While writing my most recent WIP, I managed to make a couple of changes. One was to listen to the sounds of nature instead of always listening to white noise. My nature of choice was listening to waves crashing upon the beach, one of my favourite sounds since childhood. I’ve discovered that not only can some of these sounds be relaxing while you write, but some can also help bring about a sense of atmosphere to our scenes.

The other change I made was listening to certain songs that fitted in well with my WIP’s themes and characters. This allowed me to know my characters better, what their motivations were and helped to develop my plot. This would explain why a lot of writers tend to create playlists for their novels.

During the writing of my WIP, I listened to the album A Beautiful Lie by Thirty Seconds to Mars. Almost every song on that album resonated with me one way or another, for both my characters and for myself on a more personal level during the time I was writing. The lyrics from the title song became embedded into my head, not only for the song itself, but because it was suitably suited to my story. The Kill in particular really stuck and how could I not go past the references to The Shining in this video? 😉

Just as much as we need to experiment with our writing, there are times when we may also need to experiment with our entire writing process. Listening to a variety of music and sounds, as well as creating playlists can all become a part of that creative process.

Do you listen to music while writing or do you prefer silence? Have you found music helpful with your writing process? Do you create playlists for your novels?

Image courtesy of Pixabay

 

Writing, Writing Process

5 Things Writers can do During Winter (Besides Writing).

It’s hard to believe we have made it to June already. June! Here in Australia, we are now officially in winter, so it’s the season where people like myself usually act like a complete hermit and hibernate for the entire three months.

We are now halfway through the year and it’s time to take stock on what has (or hasn’t) been achieved so far this year. Going over the goals I set out at the beginning of the year, I can see I have a lot of work to get through. So, besides writing, what exactly can writers do during the cooler months to improve their craft and help achieve their writing goals?

1. Read

This one goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway (after all I haven’t done much reading myself this year). 😉 When not writing, we writers should spend a fair amount of time with our noses firmly placed in a book, whether that is fiction or non-fiction. In order to improve our craft we should always aim at reading books on how to make our writing better, or perhaps even read books on marketing and social media. Reading as much fiction as possible in our chosen genre/genres ensures we are aware of our genres tropes and what is currently available on the shelves.

2. Research

Doing research for our novels and stories can either be conducted in our own homes, or we can use the excuse to leave our writing caves and visit the local library. Depending on our stories, we may even venture out completely and visit places of note that may inhabit our novels and perhaps take photos and talk to experts.

3. Do a short writing course

It is always beneficial to keep improving our craft, no matter what level we are at. Short courses can sometimes be held through writing groups and libraries and even on-line. Take stock of your strengths and weaknesses as a writer and take up a course that may be of help, or you may want something a bit more general. For a while now I have considered doing the online Masterclass with James Patterson and will be doing that during these winter months.

4. Listen to podcasts

The advantage of podcasts is that you can listen to them anywhere. So getting away from your desk and having a walk while listening to a writing podcast can be extremely beneficial in more ways than one. There are quite a few good writing podcasts out there, it’s impossible to list them all. You will find a listing here at Writer’s Digest to help get you started.

5. Attend a Writing Conference/Writing Retreat

Attending a writing conference or retreat during the winter months is a great way of getting out of our writing cave and meeting like-minded people as well as recharging our batteries as enthusiasm can sometimes wane during the cooler weather. If there is nothing available nearby, perhaps you can create your own retreat by going away for a quiet weekend and use that change of scene to get some writing done. This is the time when the thought of being nestled away in a log cabin by an open fire can hold some appeal.

Of-course, doing these things can be done all year round, but in the cooler weather, we may need a little bit of motivation in order to keep us going. 😉

Besides writing, what do you like to do during the winter months towards your goals? How are your writing goals progressing so far this year? Do you have a tendency to hibernate during winter?

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Books, Life Lessons, Writing

Has Being a Writer Changed You as a Reader?

Some years ago I read a book that was popular at the time. It was not normally one that I would go out of my way to read, but there was so much talk about it, my curiosity eventually got the better of me and I borrowed the book from the library.

The book began alright and I gradually worked my way half way through it, when after a while, I felt the need to put it down. I began to wonder. ‘Is this it? How much longer does this go on for?’ The problem was – nothing was happening. There was no conflict, just people going about their business. I knew something had to happen eventually, so I picked it up again and persevered with it some more, but still, nothing was happening. There were no ‘blips’, just one long endless flat line. Boring! I didn’t waste any more time with it and returned it to the library.

A few years after this incident, another book came out that once again, people were raving about. My husband had become curious and eventually bought the book. He began telling me about the plot and thought the characters (made out to be intelligent people) must have been incredibly stupid if he could solve the problem before they could. Of-course the writer in me paid attention to that one straight away. My husband suggested I take a look at it. In all honesty, I could not make it past the first chapter. It was full of clichés and my writing brain couldn’t take any more. I began to wonder how this ever got published.

From these experiences I’ve come to learn that it is in our own best interests as writers to read widely. These two books may not have been ones I would usually read, but it made me aware of particular trends. It also gave me the courage to continue writing and work harder at my craft.

I quickly discovered that when a book doesn’t do it for me, to put it down and move on. Perhaps the real lesson here is that I shouldn’t fall for books that generate a lot of ‘hype’ and follow my instincts. 😉

How has being a writer changed you as a reader? Do you read books that ‘trend’? Is there a book that you’ve read recently that you just couldn’t finish? Do you see some published books as a way to improve your own writing?

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Main image courtesy of Pixabay

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

5 Similarities Between Writing & Weight Loss.

Recently, I read an interesting article regarding the health risks of being a writer. Like any desk job, it is a helpful reminder of the need to get out of the chair and get active. Yes, this can be particularly difficult to do when working to a deadline, or being in the ‘zone’, whether it be writing or from studying, but getting away from your desk every 30 minutes is good for both your body and your mind.

The article was also timely, because only a few short weeks ago, I went on a diet. Winter is a difficult time in which to lose weight; your progress can be hampered by weather conditions. I also have a tendency to hibernate, be a couch potato and curl up with some good books. In the winter months, combining weight loss and writing can sometimes be difficult. It made me think of the similarities between the two and the different ways to get through it*.

1.It Takes Time: In a world where everyone wants instant results, it’s just not possible when it comes to both writing and losing weight. Years ago, I joined one of those famous weight loss programs and lost 10 kilos in 6 months. Great result, however, no sooner did I stop the program, but I gained all that weight again (and more). I learned the hard way that doesn’t work; instead slow progress is still progress. When it comes to both writing and weight loss, little things over time do add up.

2.You Need to Stick to a Routine: It may sound monotonous, but the only way to make any real progress is to have some kind of routine and stick to it. Writing and exercise every day should be as much of a habit as cleaning your teeth. It becomes so common place that when you don’t do it, you’ll notice. Once the habit is broken, it’s difficult to get back into the way of things again.

3.It’s Hard Work: Learn to push yourself. There will be days when you won’t feel up to it. Those days can be really hard because writing (and sometimes exercise) can be a solitary endeavour. Once, I was so tired from exercise the previous day, yet I forced myself to go out for another walk. After doing so, I came back refreshed and energised once more. Times like these, you have to learn to be your own motivator. In both writing and weight loss, you need to be in it for the long haul – it’s so easy to give up when you are not seeing instant results. That’s when you need to ask yourself how badly do you want it?

4.Sometimes You May Need Support: Have one or more people encourage you to reach your goals. Find someone who is prepared to undertake fitness with you, become a beta reader, accountability buddy, mentor, or perhaps join a group of like-minded people (a gym class, writers group). As keeping fit and writing requires determination, sometimes a little encouragement from others can go a long way.

5.You May Need to Try Something Different: Sometimes we can grow stale; things that used to work and give us results may not work anymore. We may grow tired of a particular genre or writing longer works. We may not see the same progress walking every day used to give us. We need to change – our mind/body demands it. Broaden your outlook and try something different; experiment. Step out of your comfort zone. It will give you renewed enthusiasm and a reason to keep you motivated.

Do you struggle with writing and/or exercise during the winter months? What routines do you have? Do you find it hard to keep fit/write on your own? Do you need to use a timer to get you out of the chair?

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Image courtesy of Pixabay

*This is an updated version of a previous post I had written two years ago.

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Writing

Finding the Time to Write.

laptopYears ago there were many times I wished I could just spend my days writing full-time; where I didn’t have to worry about work and looking after kids and a household. Now that my kids are older, I’m no longer working and completed my University studies (yes, I did that too), I can finally say that I’m fortunate enough to write full-time. It’s every writer’s wish come true, right?

Sure, some days can be like this:

ktpngwhile other days it can be more like this:

secret-windowThe reality is that sometimes I think I wrote more when I had less time to write; I valued my time more and therefore spent it more wisely (and we didn’t have such things as social media as a distraction). Writing full-time, especially when you are unpublished, makes it very easy for one to goof off (yes, guilty as charged).

If there’s one thing my university studies taught me, though, it was to learn to become self-motivated. I studied, not for change in career, but because I wanted to. My studies were completely on-line; no need for me to attend a lecture once (much to my husband chagrin), for several years. I sat at my desk and at the keyboard day after day, forcing myself to get that work done. It’s the same when it comes to writing. Nobody is forcing us to write; we write because we want to. We need to make that time to write, no matter how small.

And as far as housework goes? Pft! Let those dust bunnies come – I’ll get rid of those once they become antiques. 😉

How do you find the time to write in your busy day? What do you do to stay motivated?

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Image courtesy Unsplash

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Writing

Being a Writer: Worth Taking a Risk?

takingrisksI’m sure everyone has got at least one in their life; the naysayers, those bloodsucking vampires that want to drain all the hope out of our lives. They have a tendency to fill your life with such negativity, that you begin to believe what they say; that writing is not a ‘real job’; that you’re wasting your time because there’s ‘no money in the arts’. When you get told a lie over and over again, you start to believe in it (hey, it works for politicians).

Being surrounded by such people can become emotionally and sometimes even physically draining. The best thing is to stay away from them, yet it can prove difficult when these people happen to be members of your own family. Even to this day, for example, my mother feeds me the same old lines I’ve heard so many times before (at least I know what to expect). My interpretation: I’ve always been a problem because I’m not like my older siblings. When others fill you with negativity, you begin to believe in what they say and therefore begin to doubt yourself. That doubt then turns to fear and you find yourself hesitating in even wanting to try.

On Australian television, we have a show called Q&A, which consists of an audience asking questions to a panel of guests. Recently, one of their guests was astronaut Chris Hadfield. He had the audience, panelists and host alike all enthralled with what he had to say, he could have been the only guest that night. There was one thing he said in particular that caught my attention and I had to write it down.

“A lot of us just deny ourselves something in life because we’re afraid of it. We say I won’t do that because I’m afraid. Which things in your life do you decide are worth taking a risk? Give yourself a definition of what success looks like. What am I really trying to accomplish with my life? The real question we all face is not what do I want to be doing in thirty years, but what do I want to do next? Give yourself a long term definition of how you want this to turn out so that you can tell yourself is this a risk worth taking?’

He knew the risks involved in becoming an astronaut, but he did whatever it took to fulfill his dream. If he had any naysayers in his life, he certainly paid no attention to them whatsoever! And this is how it should be for those of us who also wish to fulfill a life’s ambition.

Being a writer can be challenging, but it can also be very rewarding. Life’s too short to worry about what other people think. As the saying goes – feel the fear and do it anyway.

Which things in your life are worth taking a risk? Are you surrounded by negativity? Do you pay too much attention to what others say or do you ignore them? 

* In November, I’ll be taking the plunge and diving back into NaNoWriMo – who’s with me? Also, in order to spend more time on my writing projects, I’ll be cutting back on blogging and will now be blogging on an intermittent basis.

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Image courtesy of Pixabay

Writing

How Music Can Help Writers.

harpwithflowersBecause writing is such a solitary pursuit and can involve a great deal of silence, listening to music can help break that monotony. There is a quote that I find seems to sum up music pretty well – When Words Fail, Music Speaks. Of-course, as writers, we don’t want our words to fail; however, there are times when music can help us find exactly what it is we are looking for. Here are some ways in which music can help us as writers.

Motivation

I find listening to music can be a great motivator. In order to help with a positive start to the day and even get some writing done, listening to certain music can help. Find the music that cheers you up and/or songs with lyrics that get you motivated. My ‘go to’ motivator at the moment is Butterflies and Hurricanes by Muse (preferably the live version) – brilliant song and the lyrics are well suited to start writing.

Song Titles

Song titles are a great source of inspiration. After reading Anne R Allen’s post regarding book titles, I googled the discography of one particular artist and wrote down song titles that appealed to me. As a result, I came up with 55 song titles that could be used for ideas for short stories, novellas or novels. Through various other song titles, I have also come up with an idea that can be explored within a genre I generally don’t write in.

Video Clips

Watching video clips can often spark an idea for a story. They can also help envisage setting and/or a particular mood. One video clip that has always captured my imagination is The Perfect Drug by Nine Inch Nails. It has a wonderful gothic look and, combined with the lyrics, it helps conjure up ideas for one of my WIPs.

Soundtracks

Some people write while listening to music, but I find it distracting; however some music can be of benefit to setting a scene or a mood within our stories. Movie soundtracks, or music from video games or television shows can really fire up the imagination or bring a tear to the eye (The Death of Jane Seymour – A Howling Wilderness from Season 3 of The Tudors gets me every time). Feeling such emotions from the music we listen to can help transform that emotion into the scenes we write.

Can you think of any other ways in which music can help writers? Do you use music to help you get motivated? Have you turned to music for story inspiration? Do you listen to music as you write or do you prefer to write in silence?

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Writing, Writing Process

5 Tips for New Writers.

old-letters-436502_1280A few weeks ago, I talked about the pitfalls of social media and the pull of marketing as writers. If you’re anything like me, you’ll find these things a curse when you’re easily distracted (yeah, squirrel). Sometimes it can be hard to even get started.

Listed below are a few techniques I’ve used. Hopefully they will also help you focus and get you back on track with your own writing.

1. Write Every Day

This is an old piece of writing advice that I never really took to until recently. In order to help me with this, I began a writing journal; writing as much or as little as required. This then led to new story ideas developing or existing ones expanded. My writing process may have been slow to begin with, but since then, I have begun writing longer pieces. At the end of each day, I have felt a sense of accomplishment. Writing every day then becomes a habit, and a new routine that moves you forward towards your goals.

2. Write What You Want to Write

Years ago, I tried my hand at writing a romance, but no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t do it. Trouble was I was too busy concentrating on trends. The only way to truly find your own voice is to write the stories you want to write, otherwise you’ll lose interest very quickly.

3. Forget about Publication (for now)

Sometimes when we’re writing (or even before we even get started), we can be too busy thinking about the finished product. During my teenage years I wrote stories in serial form and let some of my friends read them. I certainly wasn’t thinking about publication back then. I wasn’t worried about perfection either. I wrote that mush simply for the pleasure of making things up. I was enjoying the process. As unpublished writers we don’t have to worry about deadlines either. Write for your own enjoyment. Experiment with different genres and styles of writing – take the time to work out what works for you. Have fun with it – worry about publication later.

4. Concentrate on One Thing at a Time

Some writers thrive on multi-tasking. I’ve tried it that way myself, for a while, yet found myself unable to focus and left a lot of work incomplete. Whenever a new idea pops up now, I write it down and let it simmer in the back of my mind for a while. I found this helps in two ways. It (a) allows you to work out characters, plot, etc for the new project instead of writing it up until you reach another dead end, and (b) my eagerness for starting the new project forces me to work faster on the current one.

5. Have a Plan

Think about what your ultimate writing goal is and consider the steps you need to take in order to make that goal possible. What kind of writing do you do other than novels, if any? In order to make a name for yourself, it helps to build up writing credits. Have a plan of what other types of writing you’d like to pursue, where they could be published and/or if you’d like to enter competitions. Every step you take can help you in building up a body of work.

Is there any advice that I’m missing? What advice do you have for other writers? What mistakes did you make when you first started writing?

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, Pinterest and now on Instagram.