Book Promotion · Writing

New Writers: Are You Worried about Marketing?

book daisiesRecently, I read a blog post on marketing for writers, which stated: ‘Experts agree – especially for self-publishing – that marketing thoughts should come before writing’. Okaay. Sure, this sounds reasonable advice for non-fiction writers, but not so much for those of us who write fiction (I later discovered this is pretty much what those ‘experts’ were really referring to). Thinking of marketing before or even while we write can kill our creativity.

When you read statements like these and that you should treat your writing like a business, it can stop you in your tracks. There is a lot to being a writer these days and it can become overwhelming for us new, unpublished writers, when we read things like that. We can get blindsided. This has happened to me lately and it has held me back from even getting stared (yes, I admit, I can tend to be a bit anally retentive when it comes to being organised). This then brings in the self-doubt and you end up going nowhere. Thinking too much about marketing before you’ve even written anything is just putting the cart before the horse.

Admittedly, there is a lot of the information out there about what is expected of writers once we’re published or those who are about to be published, but for us newbies, it’s best to stick to the basics. It’s good to be informed and have some knowledge of what’s in store for us on our writing journey, but there comes a time when we need to stop and remember why we’re doing all this in the first place – our writing. Without that, there is no point to thinking about marketing. When speaking to my husband recently he said the same thing – there’s no reason to think about that unless you have something out there. Do the writing first; then worry about all the rest later. From what I have been reading lately, more and more writers agree that the best marketing plan is to write more books.

Sure it’s good to be organised and to make plans for the future, but sometimes when we linger upon those things for too long, it can zap us of our energy and take away our enjoyment in the writing process. Yes, it’s good to keep a blog and be on some social networks in order to network with other writers and build a community, but our writing should be our number one priority. We should be writing because it gives us pleasure. So don’t rush – good things come to those who wait.

Are you unpublished and get overwhelmed by what is expected of writers these days? Do you think too much information can be a bad thing? As a new writer, do you find social media a help or a hindrance? Do you disagree entirely? Do you prefer not to let such things worry you?

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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?

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Writing · Writing Process

Writing: Does Slow & Steady Still Win the Race?

I’ve always been a bit of a tortoise when it comes to my writing.  I have been writing for many years, mainly for the sake of pleasure, yet it has only been within recent years that I have taken my writing a bit more seriously.  My husband has always been supportive (and surprisingly patient for someone who isn’t) of my writing endeavours, but just like the tortoise, publication can take some time.

It always used to amaze me over the years, that I have encountered people who are more like the hare in their writing.  They may only have been writing for a few years, yet they want to be the first at the finishing line.  Naturally, we both want to achieve the same goal, but it leaves me questioning myself.  Have I been too overly-cautious in trying to perfect my craft, believing that good things come to those who wait?  Have I really been too much of a perfectionist and only want to produce my very best before sending it off?  Or do I just secretly wish I had the hare’s enthusiasm, throw caution to the wind and just go for it?  Success in writing, after all, can come to both the tortoise and the hare.

Added to this mix is the fact that I take full responsibility in allowing self-doubts to control my journey to publication.  Perhaps, now as I get older I’m feeling more like the hare, in realising that time is whizzing past and I shouldn’t squander it.

Does slow and steady still win the race?  Are you a tortoise, a hare, or maybe a bit of both?

Free image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.com

Writing · Writing Process

Creativity: Embrace Your Inner Child.

Ever since my son could hold a pencil, he has been drawing and now at age thirteen, I continue to watch him.  He has managed to draw some difficult things over the years, including Transformers and his latest faze is the people from Halo, but what is remarkable is that he can do it all in pen.  He can come up with ideas for his own drawings, or happily copy the work of others, sometimes spending hours on them.  With our encouragement (which makes all the difference), my son continues to do what he enjoys doing, drawing whatever pleases him.  I’ve come to the belief that it should be the same when it comes to my own writing.

As writers aiming for publication, we can sometimes get caught up with the latest fads in what is being published.  After the publication of the Harry Potter series, there was an increase in fantasy novels;  the Twilight series saw an increase in paranormal books for young adults.  Jumping on a fad is no guarantee of publication as it takes years before seeing the final product.  I remember reading a book which stated that you shouldn’t write what you want to write, write what a publisher wants to publish.  While I understand the logic behind this (and this may work best for non-fiction writers), I think fiction writers need to express their creativity in exploring what works for them.  Restricting this creativity can make the writing feel forced, therefore becoming a chore, stalling the creativity and leaving the writer to no longer enjoy what they are doing.  I think this quote sums it up best:-

“In truth, I never consider the audience for whom I’m writing. I just write what I want to write.” — J.K. Rowling

If this can work for one of the richest women in the world, then what’s to stop the rest of us poor inspiring writers?  She had an idea for a story that she believed in and she went with it.  Despite all the rejections she received, she finally found a publisher that loved her idea.  Isn’t this what being a creative writer is all about?

So I will take a lesson from my son (shh, don’t tell him) and embrace my inner child.  I’m remembering what it was like to be that ten year old girl who enjoyed making up stories and got such a kick out of it that she wanted to make a living from it.  Now is the right time to enjoy writing what you like, when you like, without feeling the pressure from publishers.

Are you embracing your inner child?

Writing

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.
Writing

On Writing: Finding the Right Path.

I think I have a pretty clear idea of where I’m headed; I know which genres I prefer to write in and in what form, yet, once in a while, I go off the track.  I want to experiment with something different.

Experimenting with different styles of writing is not self-doubt; it is quite simply spreading your wings.  How will you know if you are any good at freelance writing  or personal essays, for example, if you don’t try?  Recently I have taken writing poetry seriously, which was once something I put off as it never really interested me.  Now, I’m quite happy to keep trying.

Getting off track occasionally is good for a writer; it can be refreshing and less rigid – even cure writer’s block.  By using different forms of writing you begin to multi-task and therefore you’re not ‘putting all your eggs in the one basket’.  You begin to work out what you like and don’t like, and where your strengths and weaknesses are.  Above all, you become a better writer.

Unfortunately, I have overlooked one important fact when concentrating on my goal to publication.  Writing should be fun!

Image by Debbie Johansson.