Creativity's Workshop

Taming and Training Your Creativity to Write Abundantly


1 Comment

De-Stress Your Writing Life: Taking Control of Your Mindset (Part 1)

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. In today’s post we start a new chapter.

Do you feel you’re in control of your writing life?

Have you taken up the reins and set off in the direction you want to go?

Or are you waiting for someone to take you by the hand and lead you out?

We’ve looked at what it means to be a writer as well as the positive, independent mindset that will help you achieve your writing goals. We’ve also gone over a number of fears and barriers that could stop you in your writing tracks.

In this chapter we’ll look at ways that you can actively direct your writing mindset so you can pour all your imagination and energy into your writing projects.

  • First, we’ll look at emotional needs you may have and how you can go about filling those needs.
  • Then we’ll consider how you can write yourself a personalized pep talk to reinforce your positive mindset.
  • Finally, we’ll go over what true balance in your writing life means.

Fill Your Emotional Needs

All of us have emotional needs. When we’re upset, we need comfort and sympathy. We thrive when given recognition and approval. When attempting creative projects we need inspiration and direction.

The problem is that we all too often rely on other people to provide us with these things. We wait for permission, we search for inspiration, and we crave approval.

By expecting other people to fill these needs, we hand the reins of our writing life to those who aren’t invested in our personal journey.

So what’s the answer?

The answer is to fill these needs ourselves. It may sound counter-intuitive or even impossible, but let’s look at some common emotional needs and see how you can take back control of your writing life.

Comfort

Discomfort can come from something as simple as the wrong chair or something as complicated as disgust for the writing we’re producing.

Obviously, if your chair is causing your problems then that’s an easy fix – find yourself a new chair. But when the discomfort runs deeper than that, the solution may not be as forthcoming.

Often what is making us uncomfortable is not the situation itself, but our way of looking at the situation. By finding a new and positive way of looking at our writing we can regain comfort and satisfaction in our work.

For example, what if you are disappointed in the quality of writing you produce first thing in the morning? You could try viewing that writing time as removing the bilge from your writing ‘pump’ so the clean words can flow later. This simple shift in your mindset can completely change your feeling towards your writing, even encouraging you to write more often.

Give it a go: Choose an aspect of your writing that you find disappointing and then look for a positive slant. It may take a bit of practice, but you’re a writer – your job is to find new ways of describing and explaining a subject. Once you find a more positive way of looking at the situation, write it down in a pep talk so you can refer to it often.

Sympathy

Sometimes we just want someone to acknowledge that the writing life has its difficulties and that other writers battle with the same hurdles as we do. We want someone to put their arm around our shoulder and say, “I know, me too.”

Most writers are quite open about their difficulties, which can be a great benefit to the rest of us. Reading biographies and blogs by other writers can help us see we’re not alone when it comes to things like writer’s block, editing haze, and other quirks of the writer’s life. It’s not unusual to find that a ‘great’ writer battled with similar insecurities to those we individually face.

Even if we can’t find similarities from these sources, we can still acknowledge the difficulties we personally face and take the time to appreciate how hard we’re working.

After all, the only person who completely understands what you face is you. So give yourself a hug, a pat on the back and an encouraging smile.

Give it a go: Write down one of your biggest writing hurdles and describe how it makes you feel. Sit with that feeling for a few minutes and acknowledge the impact it has on you. Now write yourself a positive message to help you continue facing that problem with conviction.

*****

Add your comment below. Have you ever found comfort in hearing about another writer’s struggles?

*****

Like you, I have off days and sick days. At the moment I’m battling through a flare up of my chronic illness. But I know that a regular writing routine is important, so I make sure I have something here for you to read every Friday as promised.

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


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


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

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


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


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

De-Stress Your Writing Life: Fear of Success and Fear of Not Repeating Success

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 Success

There are times when the very thing we think we want is the cause of our greatest fear. Fear of success can come in many forms, ranging from a simple avoidance of situations where our work might be seen to unconscious acts of self-sabotage.

The signs of this fear are many and varied. They may include:

  • Inability to finish writing projects.
  • Making excuses or blaming others for your lack of motivation.
  • Avoiding opportunities to submit your work.
  • Panic at what other people may say about your achievements.

Fear of success is not as easily treated as some of the other fears we’ve discussed in this chapter. It can often come from deep-seated, emotional causes which are unique to each individual. If you find this fear preventing you from making progress in your writing life, then you may need to consider turning to a writing coach or therapist for extra help.

At a basic level, fear of success can come from the belief that you are not worthy of reaching your dreams. Low self-worth may lead you to think you’ll never be one of those people who actually ‘make it.’

You may also believe that becoming successful will change you somehow – that once you’re rich and famous the things that make you you will disappear.

The path to overcoming this fear depends on the reasons for your feelings, which are unique to each person. A therapist or coach can advise you on the best route for you to take.

However, there are a few things that apply to everyone:

  • Think positive. Unfortunately, we often become self-fulfilling prophecies. If we spend time focusing on the negatives, then more negatives will appear. Conversely, thinking positive thoughts, such as being grateful for the things and people around us, can lift our spirits.
  • Be deliberately kind to yourself. It can be much easier to say kind and encouraging things to others than to say them to ourselves. Imagine you are talking to a dear friend who is battling with the same problems you are. Write down what you would say to that friend, and then start each day by reading your message back to yourself.
  • If you’re worried that success will change your best qualities, then write out a ‘pact’ with yourself expressly dictating what aspects of your personality you wish to remain the same. Remember though, with or without success, you will continue to change as you age. Don’t deny yourself the opportunity to grow and experience new things.
  • Check your definition of success. Do you have a balanced view of yourself and your plans? Write out the type of success you’re expecting and how you feel about it, and then ask an experienced friend or mentor to go over it with you. Listen for any insights they may offer.

While it’s important not to pin our self-worth on pursuing or reaching success, it’s also important to have a good opinion of ourselves. There will always be things we won’t like about ourselves – that’s part of being human. Finding things we like about ourselves may be a little more challenging, but the search can also be rewarding.

Fear of Not Being Able to Reproduce Success

Although it seems counterintuitive, success in your writing (through publication, or through recognition of some description) can actually make it harder to write your next project.

The signs of this fear are:

  • Avoiding your scheduled writing sessions.
  • Never being happy with your words.
  • Becoming timid or predictable when making writing decisions, for fear doing something new would risk disappointing people.
  • Rereading your past work in the hope you’ll be able to find the magic formula.

So why does this fear come after success? Usually because we feel the bar has now been set, and anything we write after that has much to live up to. We may even feel that we could never write something that good ever again.

One of the causes of this fear is not having enough understanding of what makes a successful book. If success comes early in our writing careers, we may not yet understand exactly what we did to achieve that success, therefore how to reproduce it is a completely mystery to us.

Another reason is the belief that we now have to meet the expectations of our editor, publisher, readers or reviewers. If our debut novel is met with acclaim, we believe everyone will be expecting the next book to be even better. This belief adds extra pressure to every word we write, and may even cause us to consider giving up on writing all together.

Here are a few things you can try to counteract this fear.

  • Start your next novel as soon as your first is in the mail, or up on Amazon. Get straight back into writing. Don’t leave a gap to see how things go with your first book. You’re a writer, so write.
  • Avoid idolizing a certain reader or reviewer. Write for a type of person, not a specific person.
  • Choose writing projects that interest you. Avoid writing something just because you feel you have to. If it’s a chore to write, then your trademark sparkle won’t be there.
  • Continue learning about your trade. Learn what makes a gripping first chapter, what keeps readers turning pages throughout your book, what brings characters to life. The more you know about writing, the more effectively you will weave your tales.
  • Find yourself a writing coach, or an experienced friend who can talk you through your worries, offer you reliable feedback and serve as your cheerleader to point out the things you’re doing well.
  • Most importantly, make sure you are enjoying your writing life. If you’re afraid that you won’t be able to write another novel your readers will love, then write a novel just for you.

The best writing happens when a writer is enjoying themselves. If you’re not enjoying yourself, take the time to understand why and then try to find a solution.

*****

Add your comment below. Have you faced fear of success? What steps have you taken to overcome it?

*****

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


1 Comment

De-Stress Your Writing Life – Fear of Being Called a Fraud and Fear of Losing Your Creative Edge

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 Being Called a Fraud

As you begin sending your work out into the world and receiving complements, you may find a different fear raising its head. You may begin to believe that your achievements have been down to luck – that you don’t really deserve the positive comments coming your way.

You believe that sooner or later people are going to discover you’re not actually as good a writer as they first thought. Then they’ll realize you were a fraud all along.

This fear may show up as:

  • Doubting the positive things people say about your work and magnifying the negatives comments.
  • Feeling extremely nervous and uncomfortable when someone pays you a complement or invites you to participate in an activity that highlights your skills (perhaps guest posting on their blog or speaking at a local library).
  • Double checking invitations and fan mail to make sure the person writing hasn’t got you confused with someone else.

It’s true that in order to hit it big in the writing industry, there is a certain element of chance involved. If you’re submitting your manuscript to publishers or agents, then acceptance may depend on the right person with the right tastes in the right mood picking up your manuscript. If you’re self-publishing, then finding readers can also come down to chance. Some books take off. Others don’t.

However, that kind of chance is linked to discoverability. Whether the right editor picks up your submission or not is largely out of your control. Whether your self-published novel takes off or not is mostly out of your hands too.

What is in your control is your writing ability. It’s true that as writers we’re always learning, but that fact shouldn’t diminish your achievements. The positive feedback and complements you received from your writing were earned while you were sitting in your chair working on your words. If you were the one putting the hours into your writing, then your work is not fraudulent.

The fear of being revealed as a fraud is common among people who do well at something – whether they’re actors, doctors, artists, teachers…you get the idea. You’re in good company, but there are things you can do to deal with this fear.

Here are some things you can try:

  • Make a list of your achievements. Note down even the small things, those little steps that got you to the point you are today.
  • Get your list out from time to time and add to it. Keep it handy so you can read through it when you feel this fear coming on.
  • Remind yourself that no one is perfect. You don’t have to reach perfection in order to be genuine. Don’t let a little mistake ruin your appreciation for what you’ve achieved.
  • Try to view yourself as others see you. Many other very talented people battle with this fear. It doesn’t diminish their achievements, so it shouldn’t diminish yours.
  • Talk to a writing coach, mentor or therapist about your troubles. Their words will hold more weight and their experience will allow them put the situation into perspective for you.

While you naturally don’t want your ego to get the better of you, self-esteem is very important for healthy living. Take the time to reassure yourself that your work and achievements are genuine. You deserve to feel good about what you’ve created.

Fear of Losing Your Creative Edge

We writers are very dependent on our creative ideas. Without those ideas, we’d be lost for words.

A brilliant idea can fire our imagination and lead to prolific writing output. However, even as we ride the wave of excitement with an inspiring idea, our fear may creep in telling us we’ll never be able to keep up such a level of creative production.

Sometimes the more prolific our production of ideas, the more we fear the moment when they stop appearing. We are told the muse is fickle and may disappear on a whim.

Therefore, we may wonder how we can protect ourselves from the loss of our creative edge.

This fear may cause you to:

  • Bounce from one creative project to another without knuckling down to finish anything for fear you’ll miss an idea.
  • Continually look ahead in your story, wondering how you’re going to fix a creative problem several chapters in the future while stalling on your current chapter.
  • Douse your creative highs with worry about where your ideas come from and how you can reproduce this success.

The solution to overcoming this fear is to:

  1. Understand how your creative mind works,
  2. Learn what you need to do in order to feed your creative process, and
  3. Trust that if you’ve done the first two steps then the ideas will flow as you need them.

In an upcoming chapter we will go into the creative process in more detail and show you a unique way to understand how your personal creativity works.

In the meantime, you can try some of these suggestions:

  • When you next get a good idea, make a note of what could have triggered it. What had you been reading? Had you been watching something on television? Did an interesting fact stick in your mind and then germinate into this idea? Did it come from a fascinating conversation with someone, or after a visit to a new place?
  • Look for patterns in your creative moments. Start learning how your mind words and what it needs to create ideas.
  • Keep an Idea Book to store the ideas you’re not currently able to use. This will give you a safety net for those times when the ideas don’t seem to be flowing as freely as you would like.
  • Don’t try to solve writing problems until you’re actually facing them on the page. You may know that you’ve got a plot twist looming in Chapter 7. But if you’re still writing Chapter 4, then try not to allow your mind to skip ahead. Often you will find solutions coming to you as you write. Keep moving forward and more than likely you’ll have an answer by the time you arrive at the problem.

Ideas are like gold to a writer, and you do need a steady stream of them in order to produce good work. But as you’ll see in a future chapter, the origins of your creative ideas aren’t as mysterious and unpredictable as you might think.

*****

Add your comment below. What’s on your list of writing achievements?

*****

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


1 Comment

De-Stress Your Writing Life – Fear of Committing and Fear of Criticism

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 Committing

As soon as you decide what you’re going to write, you start narrowing down possibilities. If you set your story in Italy, then your main character can’t climb the Eiffel Tower. If you decide your story takes place in the 1980’s, then you character can’t pull out their smart phone to solve a problem in the third act.

Letting go of some of those possibilities can be difficult and at times the worry of what you might be missing can hamper your writing flow.

Fear of committing to the story may cause symptoms like:

  • Difficulties making story decisions.
  • Trying to include too many details, characters, places or plot points in your story.
  • Not wanting to start the story in case you can’t do it justice.

While it’s true that you have to let go of some possibilities as you create your story, the fact is that’s an integral part of any creative process. Imagine a sculptor not wanting to chip away at the marble in front of him because he doesn’t want to limit his options. The sculpture will never emerge if he never commits to actually chipping something away.

The advantage you have as a writer is that words are far more flexible than stone. The decision you make when you start a project can always be changed later on down the track. The key is to actually make a decision and get started.

You’ll find that as you commit to your decisions and narrow down your possibilities, your unique story will emerge. The more you limit your options, the stronger the story will become.

In order to do this, you can try:

  • Clearly describing the world you’re setting your story in. What location have you chosen? What year? Is it real life or fantasy?
  • Interviewing your main character and asking pointed questions. Find out where they were born, what their favourite movie is, how they feel about politics, why they dress the way they do. This specificity will give your character their unique voice.
  • Taking tangents in your drafting phase. If your interest is taking you in a different direction to where you expected, follow it. Allow yourself and your characters to go off on tangents every now and then to explore possibilities. You can always remove the chapters later, but you may find the exploration reveals something new and interesting.

Words are not stone. You can always go back and change things if you wish. But narrowing down your options and making clear writing decisions is very important to the creative process. So start chipping away and see what you discover.

Fear of Criticism

No one likes to be criticized, but as writers we need feedback in order to improve our writing skills and our stories. This is not always a pleasant experience and we may find our writing process slows, or perhaps stalls altogether, as the possibility of criticism looms.

The fear of criticism may cause you to:

  • Avoid finishing your stories.
  • Dread sending your stories to beta readers.
  • Take offense at suggestions people make about your writing.
  • Become depressed when presented with areas where your story could improve.
  • Procrastinate in sending out submissions.
  • Feel overwhelmed at the prospect of people reading your work.

It’s normal to feel sensitive when it comes to people’s opinions on your creations. After all, you’ve spent a lot of energy, time, and emotion in your writing and so you understandably feel attached to it.

An important part of overcoming this fear is understanding the difference between helpful feedback and destructive criticism. We’ll go into this in more detail in a later chapter, but here’s the simple definition.

Helpful feedback is when someone points out an area where your writing could improve and may also suggest ways you could go about making the changes.

Destructive criticism is where someone pokes holes your writing and makes derisive remarks about your abilities as a writer. It is not specific and it does not provide solutions.

At first, it may be difficult to distinguish between the two, especially when we’re feeling emotional. So when you receive someone’s response about your writing, try the following:

  • Read through their comments without passing judgment. Just take in the information they’ve given you.
  • Take time to mope if need be, but do not respond to the person. Your feelings may be hurt by some of the suggestions. Acknowledge the hurt, and even allow yourself some time to sulk if necessary, but set a deadline. Be it an hour, a day or a week, when your moping time is up then move on.
  • Read through the comments again, this time with an eye for what improves the story. You may even ask for a second opinion from an experienced writer or reader.
  • Note down any points that may be valid. Remember, you don’t have to make every change that’s been suggested. As the writer, you have final say on what happens, but at least spend a little time considering the point.
  • Disregard points that make direct and hurtful comments about you as a writer. Helpful feedback focuses on the words, not the writer.
  • If you notice someone continually provides unhelpful criticism, avoid asking them for feedback in the future. You don’t have to be a martyr to your writing. If you don’t enjoy someone’s feedback, find someone else you can work with.

Think of each round of feedback as an opportunity to polish your work and to learn as a writer. Remember, as a writer you’re always learning. Receiving feedback is a good way to keep that process going.

*****

Add your comment below. How do you deal with feedback or criticism?

*****

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


5 Comments

De-Stress Your Writing Life – Fear of Failure and Fear of the ‘Writer Stigma’

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 Failure

None of us wants create something that doesn’t work, and so we naturally do all in our power to give our work its best chance at success. However, sometimes our attempts at avoiding failure can actually prevent us from making progress. In fact, at times our subconscious may believe that the best way to prevent failure is to prevent us from finishing.

The fear of failure can cause symptoms like:

  • Difficulty making progress in your novel.
  • Reluctance to try writing something new.
  • Procrastination or a slowing of progress as the end of the story approaches.
  • Becoming distracted by a new idea. (Yes, a plethora of ideas may actually indicate a hidden fear or barrier, e.g. fear of failure or a fear of completion.)
  • Continual rounds of minute edits in an attempt to get the manuscript just right.

We may find ourselves worrying about what others will think about our work, and at times become anxious wondering if we’ve actually accomplished what we set out to write.

In order to work past this fear, we need to come to terms with the following:

  • There is no such thing as perfect. Remember, aim for beauty, not perfection.
  • A missed typo isn’t the end of the world. Even the most polished books have tiny mistakes. Don’t sweat it. Do your best and then move on.
  • Stories are never really finished. There’s always something more you could tweak. Stop the endless revisions. Polish and then ship it. Send it out into the world and move on to the next thing.
  • The real failure is never attempting something. If you’ve given something a go, then you’ve achieved success. Even if it didn’t turn out as you expected, you were adventurous and you learned along the way.

Some writers view the fear of failure as a good thing, even a marker that they’re on the right track. If they aren’t facing the possibility of failure then their project isn’t unique and interesting enough.

Failure isn’t the terrible thing it first appears, it’s simply the moment you discover something didn’t turn out quite as you planned. That may be a temporary disappointment or it may be an opportunity to learn a new way of doing something.

Whatever the outcome, it isn’t fatal (at least not in writing). So embrace the possibility of failure and keep going. It means you’re trying something worth doing.

Fear of the Writer Stigma

Some writers do not like calling themselves ‘writers’ because they worry what other people will think. They dread questions people may ask them about their writing, and they worry about how people view writers.

This fear shows itself in various ways, like:

  • Refusal to use the term ‘writer’ when talking to others.
  • Embarrassment to admit you spend your free time writing.
  • Nervousness at gatherings where the topic of ‘What do you do for a living/hobby?’ may come up.

What you call yourself and your writing is up to you. Some writers prefer the term ‘author’ while others gravitate towards ‘storyteller.’

What’s most important is becoming relaxed and confident in yourself as a writer. Often our fear of what others think about us and our writing is actually a reflection of how we view ourselves and our writing. If we’re not comfortable being thought of as a writer others will pick up on that discomfort.

To overcome this fear, you could try the following:

  • Begin calling yourself a writer when no one is around. Create a sign or a poster saying, “I am a writer.” Put up on your door or next to your computer – somewhere you will see it regularly. Become comfortable telling yourself you’re a writer.
  • Make a list of the questions you’re afraid to answer. Your list may include questions like, “What have you had published?” and “What kind of things do you write?”
  • Think of answers to the problem questions. Consider how you could answer each question in a sentence or two. For example, “I’m working towards publication at the moment actually. I sent out a query letter just this week.”
  • Tell a stranger you are a writer. You may find telling a stranger is easier than telling a friend or family member. Next time you’re out shopping or at a party and a stranger asks you what you do, tell them you’re a writer. Notice their reaction. You might be pleasantly surprised.
  • Work your way up to telling a friend or family member. Remember, first you need to be comfortable identifying yourself as a writer. Feel confident and at ease with the word, then allow it to naturally flow into the conversation. Then note the reactions of those around you. They may be more at ease too.

Even if you still find people less than enthusiastic about your writing life, that’s okay. You don’t need their approval to enjoy your writing. You write because you love doing it, and that’s the sign of a real writer.

*****

Add your comment below. What questions do you dread hearing? When someone asks you an awkward writing-related question, how do you respond?

*****

Right now I’m extra busy preparing my e-book for publication, 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.

I’ve 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