IWSG · This Writer's Life

IWSG: Attending a Writers Festival.

Back in April, I mentioned that I could not afford to attend this year’s RWA conference in Melbourne. In retrospect, this turned out to be the right decision, as I had not attended a writer function in at least three years, so I needed to start with something on a much smaller scale.

Over the weekend, I attended a local writers festival, organised by my local library. There were five authors who came to speak about their books and writing, one of whom I had met ten years ago. In 2009, I was one of six successful candidates to attend the Write Around the Murray Festival, including a writer’s workshop with author and Associate Professor at the University of Technology, Debra Adelaide.

I introduced myself and our talk was brief under the circumstances. She told me my hair was a different colour to what it was back then, which I found to be an interesting anecdote. I mean, she didn’t remember my dazzling prose?!

It wasn’t until lunchtime, when I had mingled with other people, trying to make conversation, where I really began to feel insecure. After having been locked away in my writing cave for some years, with only social media my ‘go-to’ when it comes to socialising, I was definitely out of my comfort zone. I sat there, alone, wondering why I was there, but the answer was all around me. I was there to meet and listen to other writers and be with other people with the same or similar interests.

So, what did I learn from attending my first writers festival in three years?

• After ten years, I am still writing; it is something that I cannot be without.
• I believe my writing is better than it was ten years ago, even though back then it was good enough for me to win a competition.
• My passion for writing is what helped me to get out of my comfort zone, despite my insecurities.
• Mixing with other writers has given me the confidence to keep going and believe in my capabilities.
• Self-publishing/indie-publishing is the right path for me to take.
• When it comes to meeting other writers, I really need to get out more!
• Maybe I shouldn’t change my hair colour quite so often. 😉

What have you done recently to get out of your ‘writing cave’? Do you feel awkward in social situations? When was the last time you attended a writers festival?

Side Note: In the next few months I’ll be spending less time blogging to spend more time writing. As well as getting more writing projects done, I will also be focusing my efforts on self-publishing. I will continue to post for the IWSG, but otherwise, posts may be on a fortnightly basis. Thanks for your understanding and I hope you will stick with me. 🙂

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 Unsplash

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This Writer's Life

Are You a Highly Sensitive Writer?

In last weeks post, I talked about not having to concern ourselves with things outside our control and concentrate on what we can control. As much as we can control our efforts towards our writing, we can also learn ways in which to focus on our physical and mental well-being.

For insecure writers, like myself, we have to undertake some form of balancing act when it comes to our mental health. We need to step out of our comfort zones occasionally and meet fellow writers, so that we don’t feel so alone, and yet, if we overdo it, rather than be a help, it can sometimes become a hinderance. We may begin to compare ourselves to others, feel inadequate and believe in that little voice in the back of our heads that tell us we’re not good enough. We then become reclusive and can sometimes get depressed. It’s a vicious cycle that doesn’t necessarily get helped by social media.

Last year I learned I’m a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) and therefore I need to switch off more often than others. I tend to keep away from social media and avoid people both on-line and in the real world from time to time. I’m not being elusive or a snob, I’m doing it for the sake of my mental and physical well-being. There are times when we may need to switch off, avoid all the noise and appreciate the silence. So, I can really relate to this image.

And yes, I’m fully aware of how strange it may sound that a Highly Sensitive Person can also be a paranormal writer. Perhaps being Highly Sensitive is what helps steer me towards my interest in the paranormal in the first place. Maybe this is what helps me to pick up on certain things within haunted places when others cannot.

I have spent a lifetime believing there was something wrong with me, always labelled as ‘different’, but it’s good to know I am not alone in the way I see the world. Being highly sensitive is completely normal; it’s a trait and means that we’re observant, not weak.

If you think you may be a Highly Sensitive Person, you can do this on-line test by Elaine R Aaron, author of The Highly Sensitive Person.

Are you a Highly Sensitive Person? Do you often feel the need to get away from social interactions in order to recharge your batteries? What kinds of things do you do to help your mental well-being?

Main Image courtesy of Pixabay

IWSG · Writing

IWSG: Creativity is in Your Control.

For the past few weeks I’ve been feeling a bit like a rabbit caught in the headlights; I’d like to move forward with my writing, but fear keeps me in place. I’m planning on self-publishing this year and with every small step forward I tend to come to an abrupt halt. Lately, I began to worry about things that were out of my control.

Once our work is out there, there are a lot of expectations that go along with it. With all the pressure on writers to maintain a regular output, I worry that I may not be able to meet that expectation of others. Once I press that ‘publish’ button (which is my greatest fear of all), I fear I will be proven correct that I’m not as good at this writing gig as I think I might be.

It was fortunate then, that I made a few recent discoveries. I read a recent article on JA Konrath’s blog on why your book marketing plan won’t work. I found it an interesting read from someone who has made a success from self-publishing and there are plenty of things to consider. Not only did I get some good advice, but one of the big takeaways I got from it was to stop worrying about what was out of your control.

The other discovery was while I listened to an interview with author Jane Harper on the podcast, So You Want to be a Writer? (yeah, it was a while ago, but I’ve been a bit behind 😉). She mentioned a talk she had given where she gives advice to other creatives. I’ve found her advice helpful and have included the video of it below. She, too, advises to concentrate on the things you can control.

As recently as last week, it took me about fifteen minutes to write an short email of a few lines to my editor, asking for an endorsement for one of my short stories. Yes, I agonised over every word, but I sent it anyway, coming to the decision that there was no harm in asking. I received a reply that same day, saying simply ‘Of-course!’ (Happy Dance! 😊)

Fear has held me back my entire life and I tend to agonise over many things, yet I have found over the years that sometimes when I ignore the fear and do it anyway, things are not half as bad as I thought they would be. The saying is true that ‘there is nothing to fear but fear itself’.

We can’t control if other people will like our writing or not and if they don’t, then perhaps, they’re not our audience. Focusing on what we can control, that is our writing, makes for a less stressful and more enjoyable journey.

Do you worry about things out of your control? Have you found that ‘there is nothing to fear but fear itself’? Have you found advice recently that has helped you to move forward?

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

IWSG · Writing Process

IWSG: Working With an Editor.

This month for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, I thought I’d talk about doing something I have been putting off for a long time because of my doubts and fears.

This year, in an effort to step out of my comfort zone, I am looking at self-publishing. It’s a huge undertaking, but I’m gradually working my way towards that ultimate goal (I guess you could say I’m being overly cautious). One of those steps I undertook recently was working with an editor.

The first thing I needed to do was to find one and this demonstrated one of the advantages of social media. I asked for recommendations on Facebook and I received a number of replies, including both recommendations and others offering their services. I went through them all and eventually settled on one once I received a sample edit and seeing that their price was reasonable.

Giving my work out to a professional editor made me nervous for a number of reasons: – I was allowing someone other than my beta readers to read my work, and a professional may confirm my belief that I might not be very good at this.

As they are short stories, she emailed each one back to me once she had finished and I was pleasantly surprised with some of the comments I received. Such comments included ‘I liked this one’, ‘you have such a knack for horror’ and ‘what a beautiful story – loved it’. High praise from a well-known Australian romance author, so yeah, I’ll take it! 😉 She said she loved my work and would be happy to work with me again. She also hoped that I was writing a long book and encouraged me to keep writing.

I discovered that editors are there to help you to improve your own editing skills and make your writing stronger, even though it may take some time to find the right one. It also goes to show that sometimes our fears can be misguided, that the old saying is true:- ‘there is nothing to fear but fear itself’.

Have you been fortunate with your choice of editor? Did it take you a while to find one? Are you looking at self-publishing? Do you have any big plans for your writing this year?

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 · Up Close & Personal

Do You Have a Pet as a Writing Buddy?

After eight years, the time has finally come to get another writing buddy of the four-legged variety. It has been something I had put off for a while because I just wasn’t ready and I never thought I would get another dog after our last one, Dana, had to be put down.

We got Dana as a puppy, back in 1995 and after my son was born, they were great playmates. Both my children grew up with her and I wondered how they would take the news. Dana had become disorientated, blind, deaf, walked into walls and sometimes would fall off the back ramp. She was going downhill rapidly, and I had no wish to remember her that way. My son, being the eldest, took it pretty badly, which upset me even more. The night we put her down he wrote her an epitaph on a piece of paper: ‘3/1/11 Dana was and always has been a good FRIEND’.

It took all of us a long time to get over it (hence the eight years), and with an awful lot of pestering from our son, we have finally buckled.

We now have another dog of the same breed (a Pomeranian) and is a male puppy, which we have yet to name. The first few days had certainly been a bit chaotic, and in all honesty, I wondered if we had made the right decision. I can see the same or similar characteristics with this dog as Dana had so it may take me a bit longer to adjust as she was my baby (yeah, I’m a big softie). Perhaps once we get past the toilet training phrase, things might get better. 😉

My writing routine has certainly been put out of whack, but I think (I hope) things are beginning to settle down. As my kids are now older and this is really my son’s dog, it’s good to know that they can share some of the responsibilities.

If nothing else, it’s a good way for me to get some writing breaks. 😉

Do you have a pet as a writing buddy? Did it ever take you a while to adjust to a new pet?

Main image courtesy of Pixabay

IWSG · This Writer's Life

IWSG: Withdrawing from a Conference.

This post is my first in a return to the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. It’s been a while, but I look forward to reacquainting myself with some old friends and making new ones. 🙂

The Romance Writers of Australia (RWA) hold a conference every year and this year it will be held in Melbourne. In my efforts to make 2019 a year to step out of my comfort zone, I made arrangements to attend my first ever RWA conference. I had the accommodation all booked and when the programme came out, I looked to see what seminars held the most appeal. The only trouble was I hit a snag.

I want to make it clear that this is not in any way being critical of RWA; I have been a member for almost a year now and they have been one of the best organisations I have encountered. The problem was mine; the more I learned about the conference, the more I realised I could not afford to go.

I guess you could say I’m a struggling writer; that person living frugally as they pen their works. I have read a few blog articles from different sources of late that suggests this scenario is just a myth. I don’t know how they came up with that idea, but speaking from experience, the struggling writer still exists. Being a one income family and raising two kids, it’s not exactly easy.

When telling some fellow writers that I have had to withdraw from attending the conference, they have been very helpful and understanding. It was suggested that I could attend local author talks or other conferences closer to home. These don’t have to be in my genre, just as long as I’m immersed in the joy of writing. Also setting myself another writing goal would be beneficial. It was a good reminder that there are plenty of other writing opportunities I could focus on.

I have stewed over my decision for weeks. I came close, but unfortunately, it is not to be. After having come this far and then having to cancel, I feel as though I have let myself down as well as others. I have met some lovely people online through RWA and I was really looking forward to actually meeting them, but unfortunately, it is not going to happen.

Stepping out of my comfort zone this year will not involve the RWA Conference. Instead, I will have to remain focused on my other goal, which is self-publishing. And that is my biggest challenge of all.

Have you ever had to back out of something you said you would do? How did that make you feel? Do you have plans to try something different this year? Have you stepped out of your comfort zone recently?

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

Life Lessons · This Writer's Life

A Slow Start to 2019.

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you all had a good Christmas and relaxing break. I know mine has been so relaxing, I’m finding it difficult to get back into my writing (including blogging). 😉

Just before Christmas, my household had no internet (I know, great timing), and we went without it for about sixteen days. The kids weren’t quite climbing the walls, as they were aware of the issues. They managed to survive alright though! This is where I managed to relax and catch up on podcasts and watch some DVDs.

Just when I thought I could get back into writing once again, the temperatures began to rise, and I began to get sick. After a few days of abdominal pain, I spent some time in hospital, was told I was very dehydrated and had undergone a variety of tests. My health improved about a week later after taking some antibiotics.

The main take away from this experience was that sometimes life throws us some unexpected curve balls. We have to learn to adjust and be flexible (and in this case, I had to be more careful with my health). I had all my plans for the year worked out and ready to go, but I needed to take a step back for a little while. Now I’m getting back into it, slowly but surely. Which is also a very good reminder that when it comes to writing, it is a marathon, not a sprint.

I’ve tried to lower my expectations a bit this year, but as usual, I can’t resist making some big plans, such as losing weight, attending the RWA Australia conference in Melbourne and self-publishing. Sometimes having big plans can not only help us to stay motivated to achieve our goals, but also help us to get out of our comfort zones.

It’s hard to believe we are half way through January already! Let’s get moving! 🙂

Did you have a relaxing Christmas/New Year break? What are your plans for 2019?

Main image courtesy of Unsplash