Is Your First Piece of Writing Gathering Dust?

mortality-401222_640It was some years back in the early 90’s when I decided to summon my courage to send my writing off for publication. At the time, I had been writing for many years, purely for a pleasurable hobby and during High School I had let some of my friends read what I’d written. All the time though, I had it in the back of my mind to be published; I always had a dream of being a published author.

After leaving High School I did some correspondence courses on writing and had written some incomplete stories, but I really wanted to try my hand at writing a short story to get it published in a magazine. It was then that I wrote my first ghost story. I was working full time and let a co-worker whom I trusted to read it. ‘You wrote this yourself?’ she asked, clearly surprised that I had done so. Now, whether she thought that was a good thing or a bad thing, I’m not sure, but she seemed to think what I had written was alright and I sent it off to a popular Australian women’s magazine.

The wait was excruciating and I can’t recall how long I ended up waiting, but in the end I eventually received a form letter in the mail with my story returned. I admit I wasn’t too happy, but when I read my story again I was horrified; with new eyes I realised my mistake. It wasn’t as good as I thought; clearly I had more work to do.

I sent my work out when I wasn’t ready and looking back, I now know that I wasn’t completely confident enough within myself at the time either (perhaps I was also aiming too high to begin with). It has proven a great learning experience though and that piece lies amongst many of my other papers hidden away somewhere, gathering dust. I keep it as a permanent reminder of just how far I’ve come.

What was your very first piece of writing as an aspiring writer? Where is it now? Collecting dust or has it been published?

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Image courtesy of Pixabay

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Writers: Embrace the Moment.

crossfit-534615_1280Recently I’ve discovered that one uses similar paths when it comes to writing and losing weight. Both require self-motivation, persistence, determination and a lot of hard work.

A few years ago I joined one of those more well-known weight loss programs. Within six months I had lost ten kilos (22 pounds). It was difficult to keep eating certain foods (especially to keep off the chocolate!), smaller portions and exercising every single day, but the rewards were well worth the effort. That was until I had completed my weight loss program. My husband’s response was simple: ‘That’s good’, he said. ‘Keep going’. Between his words and being on my own to maintain my weight, needless to say, I put all it all back on again (and then some 😦 ).

I had discovered the hard way that diets don’t work. People are always looking for the ‘quick fix’. Like diets, some people who say they want to be writers are not prepared to put in all the hard work and effort. They are not in it for the long haul – they are the ‘wannabes’ (and yes, I’m giving myself a good pep talk here, too).

Now I understand what my husband meant. I had made a good start, now I had to keep at it; this is where the hard work really starts. I had lost the weight, now I had to stay healthy. In order to do that I needed to be self-motivated and persistent in order to make sure all the work I had done had not been wasted.

If we’re really serious about writing, we don’t want to be lumped in with the ‘wannabes’. Less talk, more action. If we are doing something we enjoy, then we should make the most of every minute of it. Enjoy each step, even if at times, they may be slow. To be successful at our craft involves a lot of patience as well as hard work. It takes time to build publishing credits, become traditionally published and gather a loyal following. That is what will make all that time and effort all the more rewarding.

When your calf muscles cry out for mercy as you struggle up that hill, push yourself just that little bit further. No job worth doing will be easy. Just keep going.

Are you embracing where you are currently in your writing endeavours? Are you fed up with feeling like a ‘wannabe’ and afraid to make that first step?

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.

* I’ll be taking a short break from blogging during the Christmas/New Year period. I will be back on 14 January, 2015. Enjoy your Christmas everyone and have a safe and happy holiday season!

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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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?

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.

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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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.

Graduation and The End of Study.

GraduationAfter several long years, my University studies are finally over and well and truly behind me. On 21 March, I attended my graduation ceremony. It was a day that held mixed emotions for me; I was so nervous I was dreading every minutes of it, yet wanted it over with at the same time. I felt so uncomfortable, and having to wear the outfit and hat didn’t help (at least I wasn’t alone in that – I could look silly along with hundreds of others)!

My husband insisted I attend and I’m glad he did, for I know I would regret it if I didn’t. Graduating like this was something I would never do again, as I have no intention of furthering my studies. I received a degree I did not require to further my career; I studied because I simply wanted to. Years ago I wanted to study for a Bachelor of Arts, yet family members mocked it, labelling it a ‘Bachelor of Bludging’. Certainly there were some subjects during the course of my studies that I didn’t find too difficult, and I can see how the arts are perceived, yet I was not satisfied with cruising through University. If I was going to study, I was going to do it properly and work hard to earn that degree. And I did. In all twenty-four subjects, I only received one pass; the rest were credits and above. I studied because I was interested in learning and I wanted to further my writing skills, as well as learning to discipline myself and work to deadlines. My studies were completely online – never once did I attend lectures like my husband. Writing is a solitary occupation; studying in this way helped prepare me for the future.

Sitting and waiting in the back row.
Sitting and waiting in the back row.

It wasn’t until almost two weeks later, that the reality really sunk in. I had never realised until I was home alone for a few days just how much time I had devoted to my studies. It has been a lot of hard work and it has certainly been rewarding. I feel that my writing has become stronger by it – so much so a lecturer once asked if I was going on to do my Masters. Writing full time is going to need the same amount of discipline and hard work, but through my studies, I know I can do it. Sometimes, we don’t know what we can achieve unless we really try.

What have you done that you felt you really had to work hard for? Do you struggle with discipline? Have you ever done something that others have mocked you for?

Images by Debbie Johansson

I’ll be taking another break from blogging and will return on 29 April. Happy Easter everyone and I hope the Easter bunny is good to you all! 🙂