The balance between real-life and writing.

Blah! Party logo

Blah! Party logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have been less than perfect in my day job this week and simultaneously stifled and unable to write in any downtime. Not that there’s been a lot of that….. I’ve clocked up sixty hours this week. – I am not going to throw a pity party about it, that was yesterdays post!

So how do you manage the demands on your time when you are struggling to finish your novel and trying to hold down an intense job that pays the mortgage?

It’s tough and it’s not a subject that gets covered in a positive way by a lot of the advice blogs you read. I think the usual general gist of it is to –  suck it up…. It’s just the journey of being a writer – Blah, Blah.

I’ve seen strategies and spreadsheets. Advice that tells you to get up half an hour earlier. To try harder because you are obviously not utilising your time properly.

Helpful eh?

I think you need to show balance and when you find yourself short on time, focus on the things that count. Sometimes there is stuff more important than writing or building a platform or engaging in social media or anything like that.

How long have you had this dream for? If you are anything like me, it is decades now. Is it going anywhere? – Nope, it’s here to stay. So don’t sweat it and don’t give the inner demons a chance to wheedle their way in. Because once they start they won’t stop and if you let them get a horn in the door of your mind they’re likely to convince you to quit…. AGAIN.

So cut YOURSELF some slack, you are not procrastinating, hey it would be lovely to have the time to procrastinate.

There are probably people in your life and they deserve your love and undivided attention, too. That Novel is not gonna let you warm your feet on them on a cold winters night and they deserve better. They know it’s important to you, they put up with being a writers widow/er so give them some valuable time.

You will come back to the writing, tomorrow or the next day because you gave yourself some room to let it settle. You placed things in the right order of importance. You cut yourself some slack.

It’s only when we force it that the inner demons get into their stride or we end up thinking about what has to give… Something always has too eventually. So stop beating yourself up about it and go hug a husband or spouse or family member or even a little person.

Comments, as always, welcome.

THE BLOG

1000 Pennies for Your Thoughts - NARA - 534149

1000 Pennies for Your Thoughts – NARA – 534149 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s just words on a page. A short online record of thoughts, dreams, feelings or your favorite cupcake recipe. Whether you’re a serious blogger or just a casual online scribbler, it’s an oasis of privacy in the most public of mediums.

To share or not to share is often your question. Is the time I got caught sleep-walking naked in New York okay to lay down on paper? Or is it something more serious? A stigma or a social issue that haunts you and you feel no-one will ever understand? Do you lay it bare or keep it in? So many questions each time your digits hit the “qwerty”.

Should you show yourself à la open or honest or should you be represented via an electronic icon or meme… Say a pink typewriter? Can you have a public blog and a private persona so that you’re not sacked when you slag off your colleagues when they get on your nerves?

Then there’s the validation, when it goes well. People have read me and even better they have something to say about it. Oh Goody! And when it doesn’t “why does nobody like me?” , “What did I do?”, “Where did you all GO!” and “Why aren’t you all sat by your laptops waiting for my ramblings?”.

Whether you’re a journaller, a shutter-bug, a frustrated writer waiting for their big book deal (HELLO, HELLO, HELLO), a sometime chef or an enthusiastic amateur. It’s all here for you. An oasis for those thoughts, pictures, recipes, poems and life. What’s more, we’ll all be here, reading, nodding, loving, hating, ignoring, following, liking and commenting.

Welcome to the BLOG. Come on in, the waters lovely.

Finding a Niche – Writing to read not writing for readers.

Niche Syndrome

Niche Syndrome (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I started writing again because no one was writing what I wanted to read. There are some amazing books that I really enjoyed but there were no books that really hit what I wanted and that’s why I picked up my creativity and got cracking again.

I was away for the holiday this weekend and I took my net-book and whilst thinking out some plotlines, I realised I was falling into a bit of a trap. The snare of thinking about the reader too much. I was trying to craft situations that I thought the readers would want to read and not remaining true to my original vision of the story.

It’s quite easy when you’re a newbie writer to do this because you are often second guessing what you think. Whilst it’s okay to think about plausibility and originality and to make sure your story is authentic, the minute you begin thinking about the end-user just take a moment.

Writing for other readers doesn’t work if it did then there would be a magic formula that all writers would follow that would result in endless bestsellers and residuals. Don’t believe the hype and all the books that promise just that.. Are savvy (if immoral) authors getting rich off your naïvety rather than any original novels they’ve written.

By thinking too long and hard about the reader and not the story, you’re sure to end up with a confused and stilted mess. The minute, I reset my expectations and began again, with what I wanted to read, the niche that no one else inhabits and the story that makes me light up in dark moments, my flow and my creativity raced back in.

Trust yourself and your story and your future readers will too.

So what do you think?

Comments, as always, welcome.

 

The Joy of Writing – Because sometimes it actually feels good…

We all talk on the blog about the pain and suffering of writing and of how we must knock our head against metaphorical writers blocks or how we are well versed at procrastination and indecision. When do we talk about the joy of it?

Joy I hear you cry! – Can I not hear your suffering and torment, how can I talk about joy when it comes to this mutual addiction of words on paper. Put quite simply  – because it is true!

Yes writing is hard and you can go from feeling you have reached a pinnacle of desperate craftiness to sizzling mediocrity – depending on how it is going. But there are days when you get lost in the story and when the story gets lost in you. When your fingers can’t keep up with the voices and you are left holding your breath and hanging on for dear life as your darlings sweep you away.

I feel like this now and no, none of it is perfect. It will need tortuous re-writes and endless re-structuring. A certain comma, needs moving or a word gets repeated or it is slipping into a turn of phrase that seem like weeds in the well-balanced prose. Or I keep saying that a character turned towards something or looked at something, some basic mistakes.

I urge you to just get that wip of yours out now and let it go, relax, let the words they speak in your head hit the paper and whilst you’re doing that just imagine not being able to do it. Imagine they have taken the gift of being god (for that is what you are in whichever world your building, the situations you craft) away from you.. That you could never do it again. Pretty scary stuff – right.

There are days when it feels like the mountain is too tall and you left a lonesome spirit at the bottom gazing into the distance, feeling small. Then there are the days where you stand at the top of the world you have built and feel, dare I say, a trifle pleased with yourself at what you have created.

It is a gift to create. Enjoy it.

Of course tomorrow is a different story… One with a much less joyous ending. So whatever you are doing, reading your emails, spending time on social media – just stop – that page aint gonna fill itself and if you feel a trite pissed off at having to do it. Just imagine that you could never do it again, and then smile and get on with it….

Comments, as always, welcome.

 

WHY I WILL NEVER BE AN INDIE

Writer Wordart

Writer Wordart (Photo credit: MarkGregory007)

I don’t like the title “Indie” and never have. I didn’t like it even before I started writing seriously again and when I hear the phrase my gut reaction is negative.

I tend to make assumptions of quality and content.  Completely unfounded and probably flawed but I still make them. I make a negative supposition of “coolness” too. I think that whatever the content, it will leave me cold, it will be too out there or pretentious.

Why would you classify yourself as an “Indie” Author? Why are you not just an Author? Let’s face it in today’s modern publishing world, even signed with an Agent and a publishing-house; you are going to do the majority of things that a self-published so-called “Indie” author has to do anyway.

Why would you label yourself with something that has little or no “brand equity”. Look you may have written the next seminal novel, with perfect grammar and spelling, a great plot and no major issues and you may know several excellent other Indie Authors and that’s all well and good.

Now imagine you are selling yourself as an “Indie” author. Does the customer take a risk on your book when they’ve read something else “Indie” and have received a poor quality product? What about paying it forward you ask? What about supporting other writers? You can still support them without having to form a special club about it.

That’s the reason I will call myself a writer and not an indie writer. I am not a fan of clubs or labels or tags of any sort. When it comes to my work – it stands alone. I don’t care if you are into supporting other Indies, if you want to support my work and review it that’s great but don’t just support me anyway. Don’t just put me on your bandwagon without reading the work first?

I get so annoyed with all the support Indie Author dribble. What is different about an Indie Author, why should I choose to support them? What is it about that “Name” that makes it worthwhile? Don’t they whine an awful lot and get into arguments with their readers when they leave less than five-star reviews?

I do support other writers who are struggling with their journey; whose work I read and respect but not because they are an Indie. I support what I like to read. I support a quality product.

So please get down off your soapbox about being an indie and tell me about your work, your story, your characters. As a reader I am not really all that interested in you. However, I am interested in your novel.

But beware if you make a big thing about being Indie –I may just go read something else.

Hatemail – Comments, are as always, welcome.

EDIT* – May help you to know that I will self-publish – I am just not going to talk about being self-published. Because it’s not a badge to wear, it’s just the process I will use to get my work out to the readers. (If they’ll have me.)

WARNING – WRITER IN CRISIS DUE TO OPTIMISM

Romantisizing the tortured writers soul has always been a favorite daydream of mine. I imagine a desperate and romantic figure, a recluse who has known great pain. They now sit,  looking out from their writers desk, drinking scotch neat, smoking 40 a day with a beautiful handwritten notebook in hand, a faraway look in their eyes. They suffer for their art…

At least that’s the way I like to imagine them. I wonder how many people who read E.L James’s books were then quietly horrified at the cheery middle-aged librarian looking woman sat on Oprah’s couch?

My problem is that my life is not now reflective of that fantasy. Can anything I create be really good, if I am so, well, chirpy? Everything is going well, which has affected my output somewhat – upwards, not downwards. I struggle with success. Even the ubiquitous inner critic is being quietly positive.

I wrote about a 1000 words yesterday on my W.I.P and on a re-read, got a rather nice “that’s rather good” from the normally militant posh English accented Nazi. At first I thought she was trying sarcasm. Y’know like “that’s rather good – NOT!” and I read it again. “Could do with work on the second sentence, I’d change the clause but overall, I liked it”.

Who are you and what have you done with the spawn of Satan?

So am I right too worry and do we have to be tortured to create anything good?
Comments as always, welcome.