Creativity's Workshop

Taming and Training Your Creativity to Write Abundantly


5 Comments

De-Stress Your Writing Life: Believing You’ll Never Make a Difference

Title artwork for De-Stress Your Writing Life

This year I’m blogging my book De-Stress Your Writing Life. You can read it for free on Creativity’s Workshop every Friday. Today’s post is part of the chapter on Discovering Your Writing Fears and Barriers.

We’ve already covered many of the fears writers face here, here, here, here, here, and here. We’ve also looked at how you can create a rescue plan to overcome your personal writing fears and barriers. Last week we looked at two barriers that may interfere with our writing. Now we’re looking at one last barrier.

Believing You’ll Never Make a Difference

Our world is full of words, and since the advent of the internet the number of words out there has skyrocketed. Now, with self-publishing becoming easier and easier, the number of books available is staggering.

It’s understandable, therefore, that at times we may become downhearted – wondering if there is any point to our writing. Would it really matter if we stopped? Will we ever make a difference?

These discouraging thoughts can lead us to:

  • View our writing as being worth very little, or perhaps even worthless, which leads us to…
  • Miss our regular writing schedule, which leads us to…
  • Find the process of writing harder and harder until we give up on our writing. After all, we tell ourselves, what’s the point? My writing will never make a difference to anyone.

This cycle of negative thoughts and lack of motivation can completely ruin any productive schedules or achievable goals we’ve put in place.

To move past this barrier, we need to take a closer look at our expectations – what sort of a ‘difference’ are we looking to make with our writing?

Start by asking yourself the following questions:

  • How do I define success in my writing? (Is if finishing a story I like? Is it hearing back from a happy reader? Is it the act of putting my work out into the world? Is it receiving payment for my writing? Is it having a loyal following of fans?)
  • How many readers am I hoping to find? (10? 100? 1,000? 1,000,000? More?)
  • What kind of a difference do I hope my writing will make? (Improve my self-esteem? Show others I’m a real writer?Give someone an enjoyable read? Make someone stop and think about a topic? Make enough income for me to live off?)

Try to be as specific as possible with your answers. Be honest with yourself about what you’re hoping to achieve.
Once you’ve nailed down your expectations, think about the following.

Firstly, the act of writing will always make a difference to you. Even if no one ever reads your work, the act of writing provides you an outlet for your words. It allows you to take a blank page and make it yours, to create adventures and discoveries that are unique to you.

Remember earlier in this book we mentioned the ‘bubbling of words’? If you feel that bubbling, then the act of writing definitely makes a difference – it allows those words out into the world and leaves room for more.

Many writers find the act of writing cathartic. It relieves stress, provides perspective, and releases a feeling of excitement or calm which stays with them for the rest of the day.

Does it make a similar difference to your life? If so, then do not underestimate its worth. Many people set aside regular time to go to the gym, visit the beach, knit, sew, paint, or engage in some form of hobby because it makes them feel good. Writing is just as valid a way to enjoy yourself.

Secondly, your writing can make a different to readers, one person at a time. Your story doesn’t have to be a bestseller to make a difference to someone.

Sometimes the writing with the biggest impact has a very small readership. Some subjects may not appeal to a wide array of readers, but the readers who do identify with it will be moved by its content.

For example, the history of your small town and the fascinating people who have inhabited it in the past may not appeal to someone from the other side of the country, but it may be of great interest to your fellow residents, especially those whose families have been in the area for generations.

If you had to pick one of these options, which would you choose?

  • Millions of readers who skim your work but never emotionally connect with what you’re writing about.
  • One hundred readers who love your work and can’t wait for your next release.

While many writers dream of reaching a wide audience, almost all agree that the second option is preferable. Finding those hundred, or possibly thousand, readers may take a lot of time, patience, and bravery, but the Internet makes it possible for your writing to find an audience. Yes, the very thing that bombards us with a great mass of information can also help your writing make its way to your ideal reader.

It is possible for you to make a difference, both to yourself and your readers. The best way to do that is:

  • Keep up a regular writing habit.
  • Write about subjects you’re passionate about.
  • Continue to learn how to improve your writing so you can grow as a writer.
  • Send your work out into the world so it can find readers.

If you never try, then you definitely will never make a difference. Be brave and passionate in your writing. Take note of every little difference it makes, to you and your readers, no matter how small the impact.

*****

Add your comment below. I’ve reached the end of my outline for this chapter on fears and barriers. Have I covered everything? Are there any other fears or barriers you feel should be addressed? I’m always open to suggestions.

*****

My writing is my living, and I’m currently working under some tight deadlines for upcoming fiction projects, but I take time out of my week to publish this because I made a promise to you, my readers, that I would post here every Friday.

If you’ve found the above helpful, please either send the information on to a fellow writer you feel would benefit or leave a little donation in the kitty to help things along.

Everyone who donates will receive a free electronic copy of the book once it has reached completion.

Thanks for dropping by.

PayPal - The safer, easier way to pay online

Advertisements


1 Comment

You Too? Do You Daydream?

A woman looking into the distance, daydreaming about what she is going to write.

Image Credit: Microsoft Clip Art

Welcome to another You Too? post, where each month we discuss a writing-related question. I particularly want to know your thoughts on the subject, so please weigh in by leaving a comment below.

This week I’m talking about daydreaming.

To start with, let’s define daydreaming. For the purposes of this post, we’re referring to that situation where your mind is wandering from the present, flitting off to greener imaginary pastures where idea fodder flows freely and stories materialize before your eyes. It may happen while sitting at your desk, commuting to work, sitting in a waiting room, having a shower, or washing the dishes.

Sound familiar?

Just about everyone daydreams from time to time. But as writers, daydreams may be more use than just a distraction from the present.

A ‘daydream’ could be an opportunity to flesh out a storyline, learn more about our characters, or play out scenarios in our head. What might be considered unexceptionable behavior in some circumstances (like the classroom) may be considered essential practice in others (like at your writing desk).

With that in mind, I’d love to know your thoughts on the following questions. You don’t have to answer them all. Just pick a couple that appeal to you and add your comment to the discussion below.

  • Do you daydream?
  • Do you call it ‘daydreaming’ or do you prefer to use another term?
  • Where/when do you daydream?
  • Do you feel it helps your writing?
  • Do you have any daydreaming tips or tricks?

I look forward to reading your thoughts!


3 Comments

De-Stress Your Writing Life: Believing You Can Please Everyone and Believing You Need to Fit a Type/Mold

Title artwork for De-Stress Your Writing Life

This year I’m blogging my book De-Stress Your Writing Life. You can read it for free on Creativity’s Workshop every Friday. Today’s post is part of the chapter on Discovering Your Writing Fears and Barriers.

We’ve already covered many of the fears writers face here, here, here, here, here, and here. We’ve also looked at how you can create a rescue plan to overcome your personal writing fears and barriers. Now we’re going to look at a few beliefs that can cause barriers to writing.

Believing You’ll be Able to Please Everyone

Almost every writer wants to have happy readers – people who enjoy reading their work and are anxious to read whatever the writer is currently working on. This is a normal expectation. After all, if you like what you’re writing, chances are there will be others out there who share your likes.

However, at times that expectation can morph into the belief that we can somehow write something that everyone will like. Our thinking could become black and white, believing that if one of our readers doesn’t like our writing it therefore means our writing is a complete failure.

The result of this belief can be:

  • Reluctance in sending our writing out into the world (either to beta readers, as submissions, or through self-publishing).
  • Extreme disappointment when receiving negative feedback or reviews, leading to us giving up on writing altogether.
  • Continual rewriting in the hope that we’ll somehow create the perfect story.

The truth is it is impossible to please everyone. People have different tastes. Some readers love period romance, while others can’t stand it. Some readers like nothing better to curl up with a fast-paced thriller, while others are looking for a meandering tale without the adrenaline.

This diversity means there will always be someone who does not like, or does not ‘get’ what you are writing about. However, it also means that if your story is strong enough and well-presented, there will be an audience of some size and description who will enjoy what you’ve written. These people are known as your ‘target audience.’

Understanding that you will not be able to please everyone can help you to relax. It means you don’t have to force your story and characters to appeal to a broader audience, you can allow them to form naturally as you, the writer, intended. It also means you don’t have to become overly upset at negative feedback. If it’s obvious that the reader doesn’t fit your target audience, then it was unlikely that the story was going to appeal to them in the first place.

If you relate to this belief, then you need to take some time to define your target audience. This will not only help you become more resilient when faced with negative feedback, but will also help you tailor your writing to appeal to your ideal readers.

Ask yourself the following questions and write down the answers. You might even give your target reader a name if you feel that would help you come up with more specific answers.

  • What genre/sub-genre does my target audience prefer? (Romance? Sci-fi? Fantasy? Steampunk?)
  • How would my target audience describe their favorite book? (Action-packed? Character-driven? Unpredictable? Satisfying conclusion?)
  • What does my target audience look for in a good book? (Is it set in an interesting world? Does it cover a specific topic?)
  • How does my target audience discover new books? (Searching online? Word of mouth? Magazine articles?)
  • How does my target audience decide whether they have enjoyed a book? (If they emotionally related to the characters? If they were surprised by the ending?)

Once you have created this profile, take a moment to imagine the people who would not fit that profile. If your work is properly targeted to your ideal readers, then there will naturally be people who will not enjoy your work.

This may take time to come to terms with, but it’s an important realization as it will help you to face the emotional ups and downs inherent in the writing life.

Once you have convinced yourself that you do not need to please everyone, you can focus on pleasing your audience.

Believing You Have to Fit a Type/Mold

As we mentioned in Chapter 1, many people have preconceptions of what makes a writer. But in reality, writers are an extremely diverse bunch. Some are introverts, some are extraverts. Some love the outdoors, some prefer a snug corner. Some function best in the early morning, some are night owls.

At times we may look at a fellow writer whom we admire, or who is experiencing success, and begin to think we should be more like him or her. We may believe we should change our writing schedule, chosen genre, storytelling method or all manner of things in an attempt to fit the type or mold of that writer.

While there is nothing wrong with trying new things in our writing and taking every opportunity to learn something new, the danger lies in losing ourselves while trying to better ourselves.

This belief may cause us to:

  • Radically change aspects of ourselves and our writing because we are trying to replicate what another writer (or group of writers) have.
  • Ignore our own personal experiences and feelings because they don’t match the ‘model writer’ we’re trying to emulate.

In the process of trying to become like another writer, we may lose what is unique and interesting about ourselves and our writing voice. This belief can be a major contributor to ‘writer’s block,’ because we are attempting to replace our words with someone else’s words – words that cannot, and will not, come naturally.

The world doesn’t need another Hemmingway or Tolstoy. It needs something different. Something fresh. It needs you in your truest form.

We can learn many things from our fellow writers, including great tips that can make our writing better. So where do we draw the line? At what point does learning from other writers, and using their writing methods as inspiration, start to impinge on our uniqueness as individuals?

The solution is to give your personal writing experience equal weight. Make sure you’re in touch with your needs and what works for your creative process.

For example, a writer may enjoy writing at 10 o’clock at night. The day is finished and they’re able to relax into the world they are creating on the page. The house is quiet and their mind is clear. But then they read a tip from a famous author saying writers should always start their day writing. What should our example writer do?

a) Completely change their writing schedule. Get up an hour earlier each morning and write.

b) Change their schedule for a week and see whether writing in the morning makes any difference.

c) Stick to their current schedule and have confidence they know what’s best for their writing routine.

Many writers, especially those who do not yet have confidence in themselves as writers, may choose option A in the belief that writing in the early morning is obviously what ‘real writers’ do. However, in the process they may sacrifice the writing routine that was working for them.

On the other hand, if the writer has never tried changing their writing time then option C may not be the best response either. They may be missing out on a change which could help them improve their output.

Option B allows the writer to test out the piece of advice and decide whether or not it works for them. It may not work, in which case they can simply revert back to their evening routine. If it does work, that does not mean that all ‘real writers’ write in the morning. It means that this writer writes well in the morning.

‘Real writers’ are such a diverse group that you could pick just about any fact (no matter how strange) and find a ‘real writer’ who does it. For example, ‘real writers’ own cats. ‘Real writers’ drink hot chocolate with chili. ‘Real writers’ write their stories backwards. ‘Real writers’ compose everything in iambic pentameter.

See what I mean?

So, approach your writing life asking these two questions:

  • What can I learn from other writers?
  • What works for me?

The answers to both these questions have equal weight.

*****

Add your comment below. Who is your target audience? Who don’t ‘get’ your writing?

*****

My writing is my living, and I’m currently working under some tight deadlines for upcoming fiction projects, but I take time out of my week to publish this because I made a promise to you, my readers, that I would post here every Friday.

If you’ve found the above helpful, please either send the information on to a fellow writer you feel would benefit or leave a little donation in the kitty to help things along.

Everyone who donates will receive a free electronic copy of the book once it has reached completion.

Thanks for dropping by.

PayPal - The safer, easier way to pay online


Leave a comment

The Museum of Four in the Morning

It’s been a while since I’ve posted something random on my blog, but I do like sharing videos and articles that I come across in my internet travels (like this gem of a woman).

I’m managing a ‘flare up’ of my chronic fatigue at the moment. During these dips I have to be very careful about how much energy I expend. Although there are a number of things I would like to be doing right now (like making progress on the collaborative writing project I’m supposed to be working on) I view these down times as opportunities to feed my Creativity.

To do that I like meandering around the internet, reading and watching content from inspiring people.

Today I came across this TED talk from performance poet and multimedia artist Rives, discussing his odd obsession — collecting references in books, movies and poetry to ‘four in the morning.’

I can’t quite put my finger on why I find this so fascinating. Perhaps I’m intrigued by how something as random as 4 AM could be so much a part of our literary and film environment without us noticing. Or it could be admiration for someone who can happily and publicly embrace an interest in something other people might see as trivial.

Whatever it is, I found it interesting and thought I’d share it with you all.


Leave a comment

Have You Missed Any of These De-Stress Your Writing Life Posts?

Title artwork for De-Stress Your Writing Life

This year I’m blogging my book De-Stress Your Writing Life, and I’ve done my best to post a chunk of it here every Friday. But at the moment I’m battling a viral infection that is not only refusing to relinquish it’s killer hold on my throat, but has also caused a flare up of my chronic fatigue. So for the sake of my health I’m not pushing myself to write until the flu symptoms have passed.

Instead, I’m going to compile a list of the De-Stress Your Writing Life posts we’ve had so far and the headings covered. Firstly, here is the post where I announced the book and my blogging plans.

The blue headings are hyperlinks to the posts. The bullet points under the hyperlink show the headings within that post. 

Introduction

  • Where Does Writing Stress Come From?
  • How This Book Works

Is This the Right Book for You?

  • Who This Book is Not For
  • Who This Book is For

Section Introduction: Mindset

Chapter 1. A Writer is a Person Who Writes

Part 1

  • I Put Words Together, Therefore I am a Writer
  • You’re Never Too Young to Write
  • You’re Never Too Old to Write

Part 2

  • You Don’t Have to be an Expert in Anything
  • You Don’t Have to be a Recluse
  • You Don’t Have to be a Coffee Addict
  • Not All Writers Are Weird

Chapter 2. Living Life as a Writer

Part 1

  • The Bubbling of Words

Part 2

  • Life Feeds Your Writing
    • Embracing Details
    • Noticing Themes Around You

Part 3

  • Writing Feeds Your Life
    • Choosing Adventure
    • Taking the Writer’s Journey
  • Understanding the Possibilities of a Writer’s Life

Chapter 3. The Independent Writer

Part 1

  • Finding the Right Fit for You

Part 2

  • Avoiding Self-Defeating Thoughts
    • Capturing Negative Thoughts
    • Refuting Negative Thoughts

Part 3

  • Taking Control of Your Writing Life
  • Writing For Beauty, Not Perfection
  • Process Oriented Rather Than Product Oriented

Part 4

  • Factors Beyond Your Control
    • Illness
    • Medication
    • Grief
    • Children
  • How to Cope
    • Don’t ‘Should’ Yourself
    • Redirect Your Energies
    • Write ‘Inwards’ Instead of ‘Outwards’
    • Record What You Have Accomplished
    • Look Forwards and Continually Re-Evaluate

Chapter 4. Discovering Your Writing Fears and Barriers

Part 1

  • Defining Your Fear

Part 2

  • Fear of Starting
  • Fear of Getting Something Wrong

Part 3

  • Fear of Failure
  • Fear of the Writer Stigma

Part 4

  • Fear of Committing
  • Fear of Criticism

Part 5

  • Fear of Being Called a Fraud
  • Fear of Losing Your Creative Edge

Part 6

  • Fear of Success
  • Fear of Not Being Able to Reproduce Success

Part 7

  • Fear of the Unknown

Part 8

  • Believing You Can Please Everyone
  • Believing You Need to Fit a Type/Mold

Part 9

  • Believing You’ll Never Make a Difference

Part 10

  • Creating a Rescue Plan
    • Step 1: Identify Warning Signs
    • Step 2: Get the Problem Down on Paper
    • Step 3: Find a Solution

Chapter 5. Taking Control of Your Mindset

Part 1

  • Fill Your Emotional Needs
    • Comfort
    • Sympathy

Part 2

  • Fill Your Emotional Needs
    • Permission
    • Recognition
    • Approval
    • Inspiration
    • Direction

Part 3

  • Write a Personalized Pep Talk
    • Identify Your Biggest Problem
    • Decide What You Need to Hear
    • Write Your Pep Talk
    • Refer to Your Pep Talk Regularly

Part 4

  • What True Balance Means

Do you have a favourite post so far? What other topics would you like to see covered in this series?

My writing is my living and thanks to this flu some of my release deadlines are looming large and will probably have to be rescheduled. But I know how much some of you have enjoyed these posts and benefited from the suggestions, so I want to keep writing them for you.

If you’ve found the above helpful, please either send the information on to a fellow writer you feel would benefit or leave a little donation in the kitty to help things along.

Everyone who donates will receive a free electronic copy of the book once it has reached completion.

Thanks for dropping by.

PayPal - The safer, easier way to pay online


Leave a comment

A New Hashtag for Writers: #WriterInNeed

WriterInNeed hashtag

Background Image Credit: Microsoft Clip Art

(I have been battling a bad cold/viral infection for the past week and a half, and spent most of last week flat on my back so I missed my De-Stress Your Writing Life deadline for the first time this year. My apologies to everyone. I hope to be back up and running soon.) 

There are many great Twitter groups out there for writers, such as #MyWANA and #WriteClub, where writers can get encouragement, support and plenty of random fun.

However I would like to encourage the use of a new hashtag specifically for writers who are looking for help with something writing related: #WriterInNeed

Why Do We Need Another Hashtag?

While the hashtags mentioned are wonderful author communities, the messages tweeted cover a variety of topics, including blog posts, word counts, and random thoughts. The #WriterInNeed hashtag is specifically for writers looking for help with their writing related problem.

For example, this hashtag can be used:

  • If you’re looking for a beta reader with specific qualifications (such as someone with police experience or someone who has traveled to a location you’re describing in your story).
  • If you need help with a language (for example, if you wish to use a French phrase in something you are writing).
  • If you’re looking for good research resources for your writing (for example, if you want to know of a good website or book on the subject of lace making).
  • If you would like help from your fellow writers with simple decisions (like which cover art to use or what to name your characters).
  • If you want suggestions on good writing books dealing with an area of writing that you have difficulty with.

I will keep a close eye on this hashtag and do my best to refer the writer in need to a fellow writer who may be able to help, or at least retweet it to my followers so that someone else may be able to help. I may also mention certain WriterInNeed tweets on my blog to help spread the word.

Will This Work?

I am constantly amazed at the wealth of experience the writers are I have encountered on Twitter possess.

Just recently, I helped a writer get in touch with someone who had experience in Latin. Within minutes the writer had a Latin phrase she could use in her novel. It really was that easy.

Wouldn’t it be great if all of us could get answers to our writing problems that quickly? I’m hoping that #WriterInNeed will bring us a little closer to that ideal.

Let’s give it a go!

What writing hashtags do you use? How could you use #WriterInNeed?


1 Comment

De-Stress Your Writing Life: Creating a Rescue Plan to Overcome Your Fears

Title artwork for De-Stress Your Writing Life

This year I’m blogging my book De-Stress Your Writing Life. You can read it for free on Creativity’s Workshop every Friday. Today’s post is part of the chapter on Discovering Your Writing Fears and Barriers.

So far we’ve been looking at writing fears. There are still two more posts to come that cover beliefs which cause barriers in our writing life. However, because I sometimes write out of order, today I’m posting the end of this chapter while still working on the other two posts. 

Creating a Rescue Plan

Now you’ve seen some of the causes of writing fears and barriers, and how you can overcome each problem with a change in thinking or in writing habits. Does that mean that after you’ve read this chapter you should never face a writing fear or barrier ever again?

No.

Fear is your body’s natural protective mechanism and there will always be things that trigger it. This is the way we are designed.

Just about all writers will face problems in their writing life. The fears and barriers they face will change with each new project or phase of the project.

Aiming to eradicate fear from your life will only lead to a constant battle. Instead, think of the process as a dance – where the fear appears and you find a way to gracefully sidestep it each time.

Knowing there will be times when fears or barriers arise means you can prepare for them. The following three step plan will help you to:

  • Notice when a fear or barrier is starting to impact on your writing,
  • Understand the root cause of the problem, and
  • Find a way to sidestep the issue so you can continue your productive writing life.

Step 1: Identify Warning Signs

Before your writing completely halts in ‘writer’s block’ there are usually warning signs. Your warning signs are unique to you. They may include:

  • A drop in writing output. You may find you word count slowing. Your writing may feel sluggish and anemic.
  • Increased frustration. You may encounter difficulties in your plot or inconsistencies with your characters.
  • Excuses for not writing. Other tasks in your life may seem to take on added importance. You may find you’re more interested in cleaning the grout in your shower than you are in your novel.
  • A dread of the page. What started out as a fun story idea my gradually turn into a weight on your mind. You lose your excitement for your project.
  • A shiny, new idea. Funnily enough, finding yourself excited by a new idea can often be a warning sign that things with your current project are not going well. Your mind may be trying to distract you from the fear you’re facing.

These may be subtle signs at first, but they indicate a deeper problem – a problem you need to address. The sooner you can do something about the fear or barrier you’re facing, the sooner you can move on with your writing.

Step 2: Get the Problem Down on Paper

Noting the warning signs may not reveal what the problem really is. For that, you’ll need to dig a little deeper.

The best way to find out the problem you’re facing is to freewrite. Sit yourself down in front of the page and pour your thoughts out. Write about:

  • How you’re feeling about your writing project.
  • What are the next steps on your project?
  • How do you plan to move forward on this project?
  • Are there any aspects of this project that you’re not sure about?

This process is like massaging a tense shoulder. Gradually the muscle will soften a little and reveal a knot of tension. Once you’ve discovered that knot, you can work on it.

Step 3: Find a Solution

Once you’ve found out what your problem is, then you can work towards implementing a solution.

You might be able to use some of the suggestions mentioned earlier in the chapter, or you might need to come up with a solution unique to your situation. If you’re not sure of what to do, turn to someone in your support structure (perhaps a fellow writer or a writing mentor) to brainstorm suggestions.

Don’t sit back and let the fear paralyze you. Get working on a solution.

*****

Add your comment below. What are your warning signs?

*****

My writing is my living, and I’m currently working under some tight deadlines for upcoming fiction projects, but I take time out of my week to publish this because I made a promise to you, my readers, that I would post here every Friday.

If you’ve found the above helpful, please either send the information on to a fellow writer you feel would benefit or leave a little donation in the kitty to help things along.

Everyone who donates will receive a free electronic copy of the book once it has reached completion.

Thanks for dropping by.

PayPal - The safer, easier way to pay online


Leave a comment

Voice Recognition – The Answer to Repetitive Strain Injury?

A woman holding her shoulder in pain.

Image Credit: Microsoft Clip Art

Ever since I was in my early teens, I’ve been plagued with bouts of pain in my wrist, elbow, and shoulder because of ‘chronic overuse.’ For many writers this is the bane of their existence. Some also call this pain Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI).

I’ve been relatively pain free for the past few years, thanks to enforced rest due to chronic illness. Now that I’m getting back into the swing of writing on a regular basis, the pain is returning.

For a few weeks now I have been trying to improve the ergonomics of my work space but it hasn’t been enough, so I’ve had to think creatively.

A week ago I activated the voice recognition software on my computer to see if would make a difference. I’ve known about voice-to-text software for a while now but never had the inclination to set it up. Now, thanks to circumstances, I’ve been forced to do so.

I won’t lie, it does take a lot of getting used to. It takes a lot of patience to teach the computer my voice patterns, strange word choices, and Australian accent. However, it is worth it to reduce the pain.

I’ll be interested to see if this change in writing method also changes my writing voice. Instead of thumping away at my keyboard, structuring sentences as the words flow from my fingers, I now have to form my thoughts into coherent and clear sentences before any words can appear on the page. It may not seem like that big a difference on the surface, but for me it is a completely different working arrangement that is curbing some of my spontaneity as I try to retrain my brain.

I didn’t realise how natural typing had become to me. The words seemed to materialise, from an abstract thought in my mind to solid sentences on the page, all with very little effort on my part. Now my mouth needs to form each tiny the word and every individual punctuation mark.

I’m sure that soon this new way of doing things will feel more natural. It might even turn into me talking to my computer is if it were a child hearing a bedtime story. The possibilities are intriguing. It may even open up a whole raft of new story ideas.

In the meantime though, my writing may be a little stilted until I get the hang of this.

Have you ever try voice recognition software for writing? Do you have any suggestions or questions?


3 Comments

De-Stress Your Writing Life: Fear of the Unknown

Title artwork for De-Stress Your Writing Life

This year I’m blogging my book De-Stress Your Writing Life. You can read it for free on Creativity’s Workshop every Friday. Today’s post is part of the chapter on Discovering Your Writing Fears and Barriers.

Fear of the Unknown

In this chapter we have covered a number of fears. But what if you’re not sure what you’re afraid of?

Sometimes not knowing what we will face can bring our writing life to a complete halt. Fear of the unknown may cause us to:

  • Avoid starting a story because we’re not sure where our characters or plot are heading.
  • Hold back from contacting a fellow writer, editor, publisher or mentor because we’re not sure what they will say to us.
  • Make ill-informed decisions about our writing careers because we’re not sure who to turn to for reliable information.
  • Never submit a manuscript because we’re not sure how it will be received.

This fear can make us timid and cause us to curtail our writing efforts in an attempt to ‘play it safe.’ We’re not sure how things will turn out, so we don’t even try.

This is a natural reaction, because this is exactly what fear is designed to do – prevent us from doing something that could cause harm to ourselves. If you were contemplating walking alone through a wolf-infested forest, then ‘playing it safe’ is definitely the best option.

But when it comes to writing, there’s very little that can do lasting physical damage to you. And while it’s true that some writing decisions (such as negotiating writing contracts or deciding to self-publish) may have a long-term impact on your writing career, those can also be tackled with the right research and advice.

Recall the independent writer’s mindset we spoke about in Chapter 3?

That adventurous spirit keeps you writing a story even if you have no idea where it’s headed. Many writers plunge into their stories without knowing where they will end up. Most find their way out the other side, having perhaps taken a few wrong terms but eventually emerging with an intriguing and original manuscript.

The independent writer also has a support group made up of experienced people who can provide reliable information and suggestions when facing important writing decisions.

Here are some ways you can put that independent writer mindset into action to overcome your fear of the unknown.

  • If you’re not sure where to go in your story, then just start writing. Set your characters on a journey and follow them with your notebook and pen. You’ll be surprised how many plot problems can be figured out during the story-telling process.
  • If you’re not sure about a writing decision, do some research. If you’re not sure where the best place to research is, ask someone – maybe a fellow writer, a friend or family member who loves researching, or even a librarian. Turn to that support group you built.
  • If you’re worried about contacting someone because you’re not sure how they will respond, then make a deal with your fear. Tell yourself you’re going to get in touch with two or three people on your wish list of contacts. If it turns out to be as big and scary as your fear predicts, then you’ll stop. Phrasing it this way may make the task seem less daunting. (Hint: It won’t be as big and scary as you’re expecting.)
  • If you’re worried about submitting a manuscript, remind yourself of your writing goals. In order to reach them, you need to put your writing out there. Take a deep breath and do it. Then throw a wild party. (If you’re worried about receiving rejection slips, then take a look at the heading later on in the book “What a Rejection Slip Really Means.”)

Yes, not knowing the outcome of something can be a little frightening, but think of your adventurous writing spirit. Imagine you are a character in one of your novels, about to move into the second act. Interesting, and perhaps even life-changing, things await you in the following chapters of your book. What are you waiting for?

*****

Add your comment below. What unknowns are you currently facing in your writing life?

*****

My writing is my living, and I’m currently working under some tight deadlines for upcoming fiction projects, but I take time out of my week to publish this because I made a promise to you, my readers, that I would post here every Friday.

If you’ve found the above helpful, please either send the information on to a fellow writer you feel would benefit or leave a little donation in the kitty to help things along.

Everyone who donates will receive a free electronic copy of the book once it has reached completion.

Thanks for dropping by.

PayPal - The safer, easier way to pay online


2 Comments

You Too? Where Do You Get Your Best Ideas?

A woman happily walking outdoors.

Do you get your best writing ideas while out walking?
(Image Credit: Microsoft Clip Art)

Welcome to another installment of ‘You Too?’ where I ask you a writing related question and you share insights about your writing life.

Today, I thought we’d do a poll!

I’m sure all of us get ideas when we least expect them. This is because most ideas come to us when we’re relaxed, while our mind is concentrating on something other than our writing problems. 

So I’m interested to know where you get your best ideas. I’ve added some of the classic places to this poll, but if you have a different place then let me know and I’ll add the option. Feel free to select multiple options if they apply.

The next question is, how do you record those ideas?

Again, I’ve listed some of the common options, but I’m sure there are plenty more I haven’t thought of so tell me what I’ve missed in the comments. Feel free to select multiple options if they apply.

I look forward to seeing the results!