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

This Writer's Life, Writing Process

Setting Boundaries for Your Writing.

Recently I’ve been re-working the novel I had written for NaNoWriMo back in 2015. There have been times when I had been so frustrated with it that I wanted to throw it in. It was also around this time that some personal issues had occurred, forcing me to really put my foot down on setting particular boundaries when it comes to writing.

For some years now I have been the stay at home mum, raising my children, doing the occasional bit of casual work in a ‘real’ job, spending several years studying for a University degree, as well as writing and blogging. Despite all this though, because I’m mainly at home, family members see me as a ‘woman of leisure’ and think that I can be called upon whenever it suits them. I had managed to stave off friends in order to get some writing done, but somehow family had become a lot more difficult (after all, they are family). This time around, however, I had reached my limit and asserted some authority. It didn’t go down well with others, but for me it felt something like this (minus the socks of-course 😉 ):-

This has always been the problem. If you work from home, some believe that this makes it a bit of a free for all. People believe that you can be contacted at any time or go out at any time. Of-course the other problem can be we allow all that to happen because we are people pleasers; we find it difficult to just say ‘no’ (hence the ‘woman of leisure’ tag). Other people’s problems can then become ours; their needs and wants overtake our own. We can eventually reach the point where nothing gets accomplished as we can become both physically and emotionally drained.

Of-course, these people do not see you being at home all day long as actually ‘working’ or doing anything significant. When I finally completed several years of University study I was told by a family member that ‘maybe now you can get yourself a little job’ (yeah, I’ll never forget that statement). Not having a ‘real’ job and earning a traditional salary can be unimaginable to some and yet more and more people are becoming self-employed, which includes writers. Putting up boundaries to people with such thoughts may seem at times a bit selfish, but it is completely necessary if we want to be successful. A line needs to be drawn.

The same can also be said for social media. We may just want to hop on for a couple of minutes, only to find half an hour or more has flown by. It’s a great distraction that can control our lives if we let it. After reading a helpful blog post about what to put on my ‘not to do’ list, I have changed some of my old habits and have managed to get more things done.

By putting up some much needed boundaries, for the first time in a long time, I am actually enjoying my current writing process. We may end up putting some noses out of joint in our efforts to focus on our goals, but those who truly support our efforts will understand in the long run.

Have you found it difficult to set boundaries in your life? Do you find it hard to say ‘no’, especially to family members? How do you avoid distractions, such as social media?

Side Note: Just a reminder that in 2018, I’ll be spending less time on social media and more time writing. I will continue to blog, although there may be times when my posts may become somewhat erratic, it’s all in a good cause. 😉

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Writing, Writing Process

When Self-Doubt Kills Productivity.

Recently, I’d been struck with a wave of self-doubt. As I worked on my re-writes, it began as a trickle; my first six chapters were a complete mess and felt I couldn’t continue until they were fixed. That was my internal editor speaking to me and as they kicked in; the self-doubt began to swirl around me until it stopped me in my tracks. I was doing nothing more than going around in circles. It was then that I stepped away from the keyboard.

It was also around this time that I was reading up on self-publishing. This coincided with reading about the odds of author success. I always knew that going down the road to self-publishing was not going to be easy, but I guess the reality of it all really hit home.

I’d been dealt a blow from the stick of truth (thanks South Park 😉 )!

The reality was that when it came to these re-writes, once again, I was stalling. I was using perfectionism as a crutch; going back over something I had already covered was not moving me forward and getting the work done. Editing prematurely was hampering my efforts. My self-doubt had turned into perfectionism and they fed into each other.

After taking some time away to gather my thoughts, I was reminded that when it comes to writing professionally, it is a marathon, not a sprint. We just have to keep on going, one small step at a time. Those moments when we encounter self-doubt, get rejections, when we’re told we’re not good enough or to get a ‘real job’, if we really want to succeed as writers, we have to keep going. Self-doubt will always hamper our progress and it is at these times that determination and perseverance will be our greatest asset.

The trouble with going over the same ground, I was too busy thinking of the end result, rather than enjoying the journey. I was considering the big picture, and instead needed to concentrate on what I can control (James Scott Bell has a helpful post on what to expect from your first novel). Thinking of my writing as a ‘business’, what I really need to focus on right now is my product; my writing (of-course, the key word there being focus). The best way to do that is to just keep writing my stories and focus on my craft; everything else is secondary.

It’s easy to let disappointments and doubts get the better of us, but by focusing on our goals and being held accountable, either through a writing buddy or a group, we can continue the momentum to keep moving forward.

Do you ever feel the need to edit before you finish a writing project? What things do you do to help you move forward and finish? Do you tend to focus on the end result rather than just enjoying the journey?

Image courtesy of Pixabay

This Writer's Life

New Year, New Beginnings.

It would appear that Christmas came and went in barely a blink of an eye and now here we are almost at the end of January within the new year. I don’t know about time flying when you’re having fun; the time seems to fly on regardless!

Over the holidays, I’ve been sticking with my goal of spending less time on social media, which has allowed me to do other things. More time with family for one thing. I’ve been kept busy now that my son has finished studying and joined the workforce and have been getting things organised for my daughter to start her final years in High School. So there is a distinct change in the air within my household.

One of the things I have been doing is listening to podcasts and one in particular I have taken to is Casefile: True Crime Podcast. As I have an interest in crime, I have been listening to quite a few of these and I’m now about half way through. The podcast focuses on cases from Australia and around the world. It’s very well researched and has received awards and international recognition. So if you’re interested in true crime and haven’t listened to this podcast yet, I thoroughly recommend it.

I have also been spending some time watching Netflix. This has involved some family time watching such things as Stranger Things and all the Hunger Games films, but I have also been going through shows on true crime and the paranormal. Of-course, these endeavours are not a complete waste of time, because as these topics are of particular interest to me, they are a great help when it comes to research for my stories.

My writing itself has not been completed ignored. These past few weeks, I feel I have resolved a few issues and am now in the process of re-writing one of novels. Rather than multi-task, I know that I work best concentrating on one thing at a time, which has helped me plan my goals for the rest of the year. They are achievable, so long as I keep my head down. 😉

The holiday is over now folks; it’s time to get back to work!

What have you been doing over the holidays? It’s still early days, but how have your goals been progressing so far or have they had to be altered? Do you find yourself struggling to do other things when bingeing on things like, oh I don’t know, Netflix or listening to podcasts?

Main image courtesy of Pixabay

This Writer's Life, Writing

Making Plans for the New Year.

It’s difficult to believe that it’s that time of year again. Christmas is almost upon us; it happened so fast in fact, that this year I was caught completely unaware. It was a good thing then that I had already begun to make plans as far as writing is concerned.

Looking back over 2017, this has been quite a personal journey for me. I have high hopes for 2018 and whether I accomplish all that I intend to remains to be seen, however, I have come to believe that small progress is still progress.

I seem to have become a slave to social media and the internet. I tend to spend a lot of time, if not on it, then thinking about it. Listening to all the advice of ‘experts’ telling us what we need to do makes one want to tear one’s hair out. My husband tells me to take these people’s advice with a grain of salt. Just go with your gut and do what works for you. I have seen other people lately take a back seat to social media and prioritise their writing, their families and their health. This will also be my plan for the coming year. I will continue to blog and be involved in other social media, but not quite so much.

Let me take this opportunity to wish you all a Happy Christmas and enjoy your holidays. Thank you so much for reading and being a part of the blogging community. You guys make this all worthwhile!

I look forward to seeing you all again in the New Year. Let’s make it a good one! 🙂

What are your plans for 2018? Do you hope to have more time to write? Will you also be spending less time on the internet in the new year?

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Main image courtesy of Pixabay

Life Lessons, This Writer's Life, Writing

Writing: A Change in Direction.

For the past few months, I have been submitting short stories to competitions. I have been doing this on and off over a number of years and despite the continual knock backs, I have been successful once. Perhaps this is why I continue to persevere; after all, when it comes to writing, we do have to be in this for the long haul. However, there also comes a time when we have to admit when something isn’t working and need to consider our alternatives.

It was very timely, therefore that I read a couple of posts by Kristen Lamb Pay the Writer 2 – Out Hustle the Hustlers and Writing Exposure – Gamble or Grift? that got me thinking. The rules of publishing these days have changed. Many writers like myself are of the old belief that if we write and get exposure we are helping to build our CV. This will eventually lead to work coming our way. These days, however, the old rules no longer apply and that older way of thinking can be a bit hard to shake off.

The reality is that by sending my work out to competitions, I’m still waiting for that ‘validation’ for the gatekeepers to accept me. Because I allow my fear and insecurity to hold me back, I need someone to tell me whether I’m good enough for this game and each rejection adds to those insecurities. At the same time, though, those knock backs are a good way to help develop that thick skin. We keep holding on for that win. But the competition is fierce and the win may never come.

Writing for exposure is fine when writing is a hobby, but when it comes to taking your writing seriously and being paid for it, we may need to be a bit more selective. We should be the ones benefiting from our writing and not giving our work away so freely in order to benefit others. My one and only ‘win’ at least taught me that there can indeed be benefits.

One of my beta readers suggested I compile my short stories and self-publish. I’ve been thinking of doing exactly that for some time, but it is fear that is preventing me from doing so. I know that I have now reached a point in my writing where self-publishing is the road I will be travelling. It’s a long road and to begin with it’s going to be pretty rough. In the end though, I do believe that the journey will be worth it. So, who’s with me?

Does fear and insecurity hold you back? Will you be going down the path of self-publishing? If you’re self-published, has it turned out better than you expected? Have you won any writing competitions? Have you become more selective when it comes to your writing?

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Image courtesy of Pixabay

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Writing

Lessons Learnt from NaNoWriMo, 2016

typewriter-801921_1280Once again this year I participated in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and was fortunate to make it all the way to the finish line. There were a couple of moments when panic began to set in and I wondered if I was going to make it at all! Looking back on NaNoWriMo this year, there were three very important lessons that I managed to take away from the whole experience.

Less time on social media helps you to focus.

The more time I spent writing and less time on social media, I became more focused on my WIP and found myself less distracted. From having only 30 days in which to write as much as you possibly can, every minute counts. Because I spent less time on social media, at the end of each day I felt I had achieved something – which was making more progress towards the goal of 50,000 words. Now that NaNoWriMo has finished, I continue to spend less time on social media, making me feel more relaxed and more focused upon my writing goals.

Writing is the No.1 Priority.

Doing NaNoWriMo and concentrating upon that one writing project made me realise that writing is my No.1 priority (as it should be). As I am easily distracted, social media shows me what other writers are doing towards their goals, while allowing me to lose focus upon my own. Doing NaNoWriMo has allowed me to re-focus, prioritise and work on my own path towards publication.

Writing 50,000 words a month is do-able.

The thought of writing so much is initially daunting, especially for those writers like me who are used to writing shorter works. When I participated in NaNoWriMo last year, I found some things which helped me enormously in getting the words down. The thing about NaNoWriMo is to get you into the habit of writing on a regular basis and trying to meet deadlines. These are habits writers must learn in order to become professional.

I have already decided not to participate in NaNoWriMo next year as I now have a couple of NaNoWriMo projects that need a lot of re-working (adding to the pile of all the other projects I want to get through 😉 ).

May I take this opportunity to wish you all a Merry Christmas and enjoy your holidays! I look forward to seeing you all again in the New Year.

merry-christmas-australia-1Did you do NaNoWriMo this year? What did you learn from the experience? Did you make it to the finish line? Do you plan on taking up the challenge again next year?

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Main image courtesy of Pixabay

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Writing

Where Do You See Yourself Five Years From Now?

sparkler-677774_1280As the year is heading to a close and we’re about to see in another year, this months’ question is appropriate. It’s one that, as writers, we need to consider every year. When it comes to making long term plans, sometimes life can get in the way, steers us off course and before we know it, time has passed us by.

So in terms of writing, where do I see myself five years from now? The answer to that is: published. That has always been the goal for me. Unfortunately, fear has prevented me from doing so, long before now. I’ll be honest with you; I’ve let fear and the negativity of others prevent me from moving forward.

So, how do I plan to get there? By writing like crazy (and yes, writing can make us a bit that way at times too 😉 )!

computingI have some incomplete novels, novelettes/novellas and short stories waiting to be worked on. I also have a list of story ideas that have been waiting (some impatiently) to be told and there is always the new shiny idea that is prepared to show itself. So, as it stands, the ideas are there, they just need to be written or improved upon.

I plan to start getting published by sending out my short stories. My husband has read over them for me recently, and believes with a little bit of tweaking, they will be good to go (one he says can be sent out already). This is just the first step in swallowing that fear in letting others read my writing and I’m hoping to find some other beta readers before I hit that ‘send’ button. This will, I hope give me the courage to begin the road to self-publication.

mouse-stressOf-course, there is also a lot of reading to be done to help improve my craft, as well as attending courses and conferences, learning as much as I can about the publishing industry and being part of a writing community.

The road to publication is a long one, which is why in order to succeed we need to be in this for the long haul. As the industry changes so rapidly these days, we must also be adaptable and that can sometimes include our writing goals.

In terms of your writing career, where do you see yourself five years from now? What’s your plan to get there? Do you stick to your New Year Resolutions?

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Image courtesy of Pixabay

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Writing, Writing Process

Writing Through Illness.

Summer's_boredomThe writing profession has never been easy and these days it’s very much a case of treating it like a business. In order to be successful, you need to produce more and being a small business owner you can’t afford to get sick. Personal issues can also get in the way, especially if you have children to take care of.

Lately, I have been reading a lot of blogs from fellow writers (thanks in part to the ISWG), which have left me not only inspired from what others have done, but have made me feel quite slack in what I need to do in order to get where I want to be. I am in awe of other writers who can accomplish so much, even when they are unwell.

Here in Australia, we are in our last weeks of winter and with kids in the house, it was only a matter of time before illness was to strike our household. Being sick doesn’t help you progress where writing is concerned. I’ve always been of the belief that if you are sick, you need to listen to your body and take it easy; if you push yourself too far, you may only make matters worse. I don’t think society has really helped, as people have become more demanding; always wanting more and more, so that we may become too hard upon ourselves if we don’t meet other’s ideas of success.

Whenever I’m not well, I have a tendency to do a fair amount of one of these activities and an an awful lot of the other:

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I’ve read recently that no-one will care that your stories go unwritten; that if you get sick no-one will be doing the writing for you. No-one is making us write – this is entirely our own decision. This is why it is in our own best interests to be our own motivators. Even on days where we are limited, we can still find something that keeps us moving towards our goals.

This is not meant to be a whiny post, as there are many people out there who are worse off than ourselves; it’s just that sometimes we need to slow down and find ways to keep the spirit healthy while the body recovers (being prepared for those days when the unexpected happens can also be a Godsend). If we continue to do the work, no matter how small, we are still progressing towards our goals.

Do you continue writing when you are sick or do you prefer to take it easy? What small tasks do you do when you are unwell that helps with your writing? Do you think society has made too many demands upon our time?

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Image courtesy Kristaps B. at Wikimedia Commons.

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Writing, Writing Process

Keeping a Writer’s Journal.

writersjournalIn recent months, I have begun using a writer’s journal. I was never any good at writing in a diary to talk about the mundane, but I’m finding a writer’s journal different. I might slot in the odd piece of what’s happening in my life occasionally as it could prove helpful for future writing projects, however, I find that keeping a writer’s journal is best for the following reasons:-

It helps with the brainstorming process

Your writing journal may include your dreams, story ideas or blog posts. Whenever you come up with a new idea for a story, article, etc., write it down in your writing journal. It also helps in getting your feelings down on paper, preparing you for certain scenes or projects. Keeping all your ideas together in the one place, rather than scattered on pieces of paper everywhere (been there, done that), is also beneficial.

It helps you to concentrate on your goals

Recently, I had to step back and concentrate on my writing goals. Keeping a writer’s journal helped me with that as I was able to see which projects needed to be tackled first – starting small so that I would gradually work my way up to bigger projects. This then allowed me to concentrate upon my genres, possibly experimenting with other genres and my preferred options for publication.

It helps you to write every day

The old ‘rule’ of writing everyday enables us to form good writing habits. Getting into the routine of writing in a journal a few minutes a day helps us to put pen to paper. I write in my journal every morning over my morning cuppa as mornings are the best time for me to write. It usually only take me a few minutes and I’m done, ready to start my work for the day.

It keeps you away from the computer

Writing longhand is a great way to get you away from the keyboard and being distracted from the internet. It is a quick way of writing down your ideas and gives you the opportunity to write anywhere. Writing longhand also gives you the freedom to make mistakes without having to worry about how it looks, especially if you’re a perfectionist like me. 😉

Do you keep a writer’s journal? What have you been doing to keep up with your goals this year? Were you any good at keeping a diary?

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Image courtesy of Pixabay