Having an Accountability Buddy.

couple-1343944_1280Recently I read a blog post that clearly struck a lot of writers. Being a solitary endeavour, when we start out as writers, we can have a tendency to wonder why we even bother. Does anyone really care what we do? Does anyone really read what we write anyway? We can ask ourselves these questions when we reach our lowest point, which is why it is so important to have someone – at least just one person who is prepared to encourage us to keep on going.

It is so easy to fall into the trap of listening to the naysayers; those full of negativity who try to keep you down from achieving something or doing something which makes you happy. Finding someone, whether they are a partner, friend or relative that believes in you and is prepared to help you any way they can, can be beneficial to writers. Joining a writing group or even a couple of them on-line can help lift you out of the doldrums of your writing cave as mixing with other writers helps you to understand that you are not alone. Even in a group, you may find yourself drawn towards certain people, working up the courage to ask them to be beta readers and/or accountability buddies.

An accountability buddy can help keep you focused on your writing path and help steer you towards meeting your deadlines. They are also helpful in giving you the kick in the pants you need when you begin to slacken off, yet supportive in those times when you feel you’re not good enough. Being with a group of writers as accountability buddies can help energise you towards your goals as you may wish to emulate the success others may be having; proving that with hard work and determination, anything is possible.

I’m fortunate that my husband believes in me enough to be my accountability buddy. Yes, he does indeed give me the kick in the pants I deserve, insisting I avoid listening to the negativity of others. I still have a long way to go, but I know that without the support of that one particular person, my goal of becoming a published writer would never have come this far.

Do you have someone who encourages you to keep writing? Do you have a partner, friend or relative as an accountability buddy? Are you part of a supportive writing group?

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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?

New Year, New Beginnings

Christmas is finally over, my mother has been and gone and now it’s time to concentrate on writing once again.  January is always a trying month – with the children on school holidays I usually find it difficult to write, which is never a good start to a new year.

For the first day of 2011, I took time out to reflect upon my goals and plans for the year ahead.  In order for me to make any progress with my writing career, I came up with a couple of things and listed them below:-

  • Allow yourself to be reflective. Take the time to be alone with your thoughts, be it once a day or once a week.  Exercising or going for a walk helps clear the mind and helps to keep you focused upon your writing goals.
  • Keep away from negative people. Unfortunately you will get these people in your life.  My mother has always been negative in my choice of career, but with these negative people you need to remember that it is your choice and your life.  Negative people do nothing for your self-confidence and keep you away from your writing goals.
  • Write every day. During my mother’s visit over Christmas, I couldn’t get any writing done, so that when she left I found it difficult to get writing again.  Writing every day keeps you into the writing habit.  It’s much better to write something daily, rather than wait for the inspiration to turn up.
  • Focus on your goals. When you’re not focused on which direction you are heading with your writing, you tend to go off into different directions.  I had been doing that for a couple of days – working out which genre I write in.  A lecturer once told me that the best essays are those written on a subject you feel passionate about, and I found that to be true.  So focus on writing what you want to write about; things like genre will come later.
  • Use your time wisely. Good old time management skills come in handy here.  Have everything organised well in advance; plan your days the night before.  Make sure you get some writing done every day, no matter how small.  Before you know it, months may have gone by with very little progress being made and you begin to feel despondent and question your own abilities.

I know it is early days yet, but how are your writing plans going so far this year?  I hope you have all begun on a positive note and I look forward to hearing about your progress.  I wish you all a happy, productive and successful writing new year.

Writing and The Green-Eyed Monster.

Recently I received the news that someone I know was getting published.  Now, normally I wouldn’t have a problem with this scenario.  Being a writer myself, I know how tough it can be.  This particular case was a bit more closer to home, which brought out the green-eyed monster.

From my own experience I have also taken years to write the rough drafts for three of my own novels, however, my novels are still not of a high enough standard to send out to publishers.  I began wondering why my novels were taking so long and asked myself ‘when is enough editing and re-writing enough’?  Clearly, I was being unreasonable and too hard upon myself.  This is what I did to overcome it:-

  • I began telling myself that everyone’s road to publication is different.  For some authors, they may have been writing only a few short years before they become published; others can take a great many years.
  • I listened to music and went for walks.  Exercising gave me time to think clearly and rationally, while music helped to cheer me up and de-stress.
  • I shared my feelings with fellow writers.  My writer’s group meets casually once a month, so this is where social networks really do help.
  • I tried to stay positive, recalling what others have said about my writing.  For example, a writing teacher once wrote that I had ‘great potential’ – something she didn’t see in many of her students, a member from my writer’s group said that my ‘writing was good.  You’ll get published one day; it’s only a matter of time’.  Stop the negative and embrace the positive.
  • I began writing.  The only way around a problem, is to work your way through it.  To get better at writing, one must keep writing.  Being a perfectionist, I need to realise that my rough drafts are bound to ‘suck’, but I will be the only person to see it in that form.  Rough drafts can always be fixed.