Writing Fears

Most, if not all, writers experience it. Fear of the page. Fear of the words. Fear of rejection. The difficulty is knowing when that fear starts to get in the way, when if prevents you from writing the story you want to write. Not just knowing either, but admitting that you have that fear and finding ways to overcome it.

That’s what I’m going to do in this post. My writing updates have been sporadic to say the least and part of that is because I have it. Writing is something I love doing and something I want to turn into more than a hobby, but a big part of me is afraid of failing, of not being as good as I want to be.

Take my current novel for example. I have been thinking about this novel for around eight years. Eight years since the first idea came into my head, and the number of people I’ve told about it is fewer than 10. If you take the time I’ve spent actually working on the novel and it’s probably less than half that time. I have spent so long procrastinating, wanting to work on it but worrying about it will end up like, what people will think of it, that I’ve simply not been writing.

The fact is, the novel has been pretty much in a state of completion for nearly a year now. The trouble, however, is that it’s been in the nest for so long that, while the fear of writing has been overcome, I now have to face setting the novel free. I have to actually send it out. Steps have been made in this area – I’ve sent it to a couple of people to read and provide feedback and I’ve started thinking about querying; but, until I’ve actually started sending it out, I think there will be that part of me that just wants to no let go.

Everything comes full circle again when, now that I’ve finished one book, I start on the next one. The fear of the blank page, of writing that first sentence, rises again. Not least because I’ve got a number of ideas and I’m worried about choosing the wrong one or of a brilliant idea not turning out to be quite as brilliant. That being said, this time around the fear, it’s not quite as prominent. I have written a novel, it may not be published yet, but I’ve written one and I can do it again. It’s just a matter of reminding myself from time to time.

I think, on the whole, it is okay to worry and be cautious but, when it starts getting in the way of doing what you enjoy, then you need to take that breath and go for it. I’m going to try doing that more often and to try and not let the fear of failing get the better of me because, really, succeeding in writing a novel no matter how terrible is better than failing to write one at all.

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Writing Wednesday: Writing Supplies

Last week, I talked about my plan to gradually get back into writing, to get back into the various projects I have started, as well as begin new ones which spark in my brain. Creativity feeds creativity, so the small steps I am making now should hopefully transform into giant leaps in the future.

However, as many a writer knows, part of being a writer is having great supplies (maybe that should be as every stationary lover knows instead…). In this blog post, I’m going to talk about the various supplies I use for writing purposes.

The first, and main, piece of equipment, is my laptop. This is where I write, where I edit and where I store information. It really helps having things in one place where I can just search for what I need and it is a lot easier to edit on a laptop than on paper. The words are clearer to read and, if I make a change later on, it is so much easier to go back and edit it elsewhere in the novel. Once I’ve started planning a novel, I start moving it onto the laptop so I can work on it in a more structured, clean format.

Brainstorming, however, is more easily done by hand. There is something freeing about writing by hand; I think the act of forming the words yourself, in any shape, size or position, rather than relying on the limited array of typefaces available on a laptop, really helps unleash creative thought. I own a number of notebooks as a result, trying to keep to one per project (although generally spreading over to countless other notebooks). In these, I scribble down any random thoughts I have, an inspiration, and lines, scenes or dialogue which strikes my fancy. While I do try and keep a structure in notebooks where the brainstorming has progresses into a fully-fledged story, that can feel quite limiting at times, so I’m still working out what works best for me. Regardless, notebooks are an integral part of my writing process.  

As well as notebooks, I also tend to use sketchbooks. I am quite a visual person so it often helps to try and draw out the image I have in my head before translating it into words. This is particularly true for characters. I find it so helpful to draw out characters in my stories; it lets me explore their personalities as well as setting their features in stone for future reference.

Finally, of course, you can’t have a notebook or sketchbook without pens or pencils. While it is very easy to work with just one and never have to change it, I do tend to vary it. I have different pencils for different things (writing, drawing, colouring) and I also like to work in one coloured ink for a section of writing, and then switching to another one if I swap to work on something different. Of course, it does get to the point sometimes where I have so many pens scattered everywhere, that I just have to grab the nearest one.

So, there we have it, those are the main supplies I use when writing (mainly it’s just a lot of stationary – any excuse to buy some). Let me know what supplies you use!

Writing Update

 

I have been fairly quiet on writing updates lately and there is a simple reason for that: there haven’t been any. Life has been pretty busy lately and I have neither the time nor the energy to actually focus on writing. That is going to change.

Over the course of the next few months I’m going to gradually try and make writing more of a habit than a hobby. I have so many story ideas whirling around in my head, ones which I want to write and read for myself; yet, the way things currently are, they simply aren’t being written.

I have already taken the first steps on this process: I have a writing nook under my stairs (complete with desk, stationary and a biscuit barrel) and I have already started on the goal of trying to write a little bit each day. Essentially, rather than going all out from the get-go, I’m going to take a more gradual and fairly broad approach. Writing will cover anything relating to ‘author-dom’, so it will include all stages of the process to planning to pitching as well as these blog posts, and I won’t be aiming to write 2000 words a day either. I will have a weekly goal and that can be met by any kind of writing which I do.

At the moment, my main project will be finishing the editing of my current novel, as well as sending that out. Admittedly, this has been my main goal for a while, but I am now close to the finish – nearly two thirds of the way through edits and already starting to plan querying. You will also, hopefully, see more blog posts from me, about both books and writing. Reviews may be less frequent as a result, but it will mean this blog will be a bit more varied.

That’s the rough outline of the plan, it’s still an evolving process but, whatever form it ends up in, I’m hoping it will be a success. Let me know if there are any writing-themed posts you would be interested in seeing and on with the writing!

My Dream Book Conferences

Author events are something that most, if not all, readers get excited about. Be it a signing, a talk or a panel, it is an opportunity to see the authors you love and hear their thoughts on a variety of topics. Eventbrite reached out to me and I thought this sounded like a lot of fun so here are a few of my ideas of panels I would love to see, and some I know could never be.

In Conversation

One of my favourite type of author panels are those where one author is in conversation with another, or maybe two or three. I find that these allow you to see a bit more of the authors as people and also tend to be both more humorous and more interesting as authors bounce off of each other. Some ideas I have for these are:

–          Genres that rarely meet. It would be really interesting to see authors from different genres get together to discuss writing and the differences, if there are any, between them. For example, if historical fiction writer was in conversation with a science fiction writer.

–          New vs. Experienced. There are a massive number of aspiring writers in the world and I think a panel with a mix of both debut authors and heavily experienced ones could potentially be quite inspirational for those aspiring writers.

–          Authors meet their characters. This is a panel which is more based in a dream than reality. Authors know the worlds and characters they create intimately, but it’s often said that characters have minds of their own and can drive the story themselves. To see the two in conversation, the person who created the world and the one who lived in it, would be fascinating.

Panels

Deciding on specific authors I would love to see on a panel together was difficult – I have too many I would love to see and then deciding which would work well together was difficult. I think I would prefer smaller groups of authors to a long panel. You get to hear more from each author that way and it feels a bit more informal than just going down the line. So, in this case, I’ve decided to go with groups of three.

–          Heroines and Romance. There is a call nowadays, quite rightly so, for more female leads and more feminist novels. Unfortunately, strong heroines are often let down by the inclusion of romance where that romance takes centre-stage at the cost of both the story and the female’s character. Three writers who I felt managed to incorporate romance in to their novels while maintaining an intriguing story and great female leads are Jacqueline Garlick, Jamie Mclachlan and Christine Norris and I think it would be interesting to hear their thoughts on the matter.

–          Building Series. I love series. I love the idea of finishing a book and knowing there is more of that story still to read (which is why I am very good at starting series but not so good at finishing them). However, writing a series can be quite tough in getting the balance right with what to reveal and when, as well as making sure that the story and development is brilliant throughout. So for this panel, I will include three writers whose series I have thoroughly enjoyed for them to discuss the ins and outs of series-building: Trudi Canavan, Laini Taylor and Robin Hobb.

–          The Pressures of Fame. The world of today is heavily based in the concept of celebrity and there are a number of authors who have been shot into the limelight, helped by the role of social media promoting their works and adaptions of their work alike. This celebrity does come with a certain amount of pressure, however, as fans turn to their favourite authors for answers and apply a certain expectation about what the next book should be and when they want to see it. I would be really interested to hear authors in these situations discuss how they deal with the pressure of this celebrity and fans influence their work. For this, unsurprisingly, I would include J.K. Rowling, George R.R. Martin and, for a complete mix up of the genres, John Green.

So, as you can see, I don’t have one dream author panel, more a mix of themes and groupings that I would find really interesting to see.

If you are interested in finding or planning conferences, maybe even some similar to those suggested above, Eventbrite have a conference management page would could be a very useful tool in doing so.

Let me know if you would enjoy any panels I’ve mentioned, or share any ideas you have in the comments below. I’d love to see them!

Writing Update – October 2016

It’s been a while since my last writing update, but I thought I would check in now and let you know how things are going.

I have just received feedback from a friend of mine who kindly offered to read through my novel, The Unnaturals, so my writing life at the moment has mostly been spent going through her comments and making notes of where I need to action things and develop the writing a bit more.

It has been insanely helpful having another pair of eyes read through it. Most of what she picked up on were areas where I didn’t quite explain things fully or the context was not completely clear. With these areas highlighted and me having something I can actually work on, I am able to improve the novel and make the reading experience a lot more enjoyable for any future readers (one can hope).

To make the most of the editing experience, I’ve converted my reading corner into a writing den – moving all my books on writing and some of my notebooks onto a makeshift step-ladder shelf and laying out my stationary for when I get fully into the editing process. At the moment, I am just summarising the changes that need to be made and how I’m going to go about doing them.

In other news, NaNoWriMo is coming up! I still haven’t decided if I am going to participate this year. As much as I would love to, I would much prefer to do so with a new book, and writing rather than editing. With the amount of editing that is still on my radar, I am a bit concerned with taking on more than I can chew. That being said, I do have an outline for the sequel to The Unnaturals so, if the temptation proves too much, I will probably try and write a large bulk of that in the month. Not only will it help keep me in The Unnaturals world, but it will also mean I get to do some writing proper, which I have missed.

That’s mostly it on the writing news. I will keep you posted come November whether or not I end up participating in NaNoWriMo (I probably will, knowing me, but maybe not to the extent of 50,000 a month).

Inspirational Places – Rhodes

The muse is a wily creature, often disappearing for days on end and returning in the dead of night or when there is no notebook to hand. There are ways to summon it back, from taking a simple shower, taking a walk, or going on a holiday.

I have just returned from two weeks in Rhodes – an island rich with ancient history, blazing sunlight and a valley filled with butterflies.

In the time leading up to the holiday, I was focused on one task: editing my novel, which I finished just before we set out. As a result, my imagination was feeling a bit desolate on the way out. Now though, my brain is teaming with ideas for future books and conjuring up scenes for me. A holiday was really what I needed to bring the muse back into the fold and here are a few of the places I found the most inspirational while in Rhodes.

Lindos – Acropolis and City

Lindos.JPG

Lindos is beautiful. This was the first place we visited and was the first to spring the inspiration out of hiding. The white-washed buildings, cobbled streets between closely built buildings and canopy overhead lent itself well to a story setting and the characters only spilled in from there. It’s location in the shadow of the large Acropolis only give it an added sense of mystery and power.

The Acropolis itself is a masterpiece of architecture. From the sea, it is an impressive, yet foreboding sight. From within, even the ruins tell a story and it’s easy to imagine what it would have been like in its hey-day. The views are impressive and there is plenty of the building left to explore.

Rhodes Old Town – Grand Master’s Palace

Palace.JPG

Entering into Rhodes Old Town, you are instantly swept back in time, into another world. But it was the Grand Master’s Palace which really caught my imagination. The building itself is massive and in good repair. It contains museums, mosaics and restored rooms. In some places you can practically hear the footsteps of the knights who once walked the corridors or see a flash of fabric as a figment of the past darts around a corner. This trip transported me, not only into the past, but also into another world, of a story that had been working its way around my head for a while. Upon returning to the hotel, I just had to sit back and scribble out my ideas.

The Sea

Sea.JPG

Okay, this one is not quite a place, and there are plenty of other locations in Rhodes that could have taken this third spot, but it was while sitting on a boat, bobbing about on the waves that I could really feel my imagination whirring. Taking a boat tour might not sound the most exciting thing in the world, but you can have as many magical encounters on the sea as you can on the shore. From secret coves to rocky sea passages to incredible views on monuments on land, the is much the sea can offer. With the fresh air and gentle rocking, your mind is also given space to ponder and churn out ideas.

The sea around Rhodes is a stunning blue and incredibly clear. A number of steep cliffs, often scaled by mountain goats, plunge into it creating a daring face out to the horizon. There was even a rock which, from a certain angle, looked disconcertingly like a lion’s face. It is easy to picture characters travelling the waves and the mighty buildings, such as the acropolis, really give that picture depth.

Other Inspirational Places in Rhodes

There are a number of other places that really capture the imagination in Rhodes. A couple which were in close contention for a larger mention was the ancient city of Kamiros – ruined twice by earthquake and now an incredible layout of ruins looking out to the sea – and the Valley of Butterflies – a place swarming with moths and butterflies that also resembled a fairy wonderland.

KamirosValley

 

 

 

 

 

Holidays allow for the brain to switch off and the imagination to kick itself up a notch. Visiting a wide range of places can provide plenty of areas of inspiration to strike, and that was certainly the case with my trip to Rhodes. I now have plenty of ideas for the stories I am working on and the worlds they are set in now look like the camera has got into focus.

Have you been to any inspirational places recently? If so, let me know in the comments below, I may just be inspired to pay it a visit.

Writing Update – Camp Nanowrimo Week 2

Another Wednesday, another writing update.

Camp Nanowrimo is proving to be a very good incentive for my editing, as is the calendar on my wall where I mark how much work I have done. I have yet to introduce a reward system, but I am tempted – very tempted indeed.

So far, I have managed to edit 28,049 word of my novel and I am certainly enjoying rereading it again, which is always a good sign. Two parts have been gone through now, out of the total six, and I am just about to start on the third, which means I am nearly half-way through!

Unfortunately, I am still behind schedule. I had hoped to be nearing the fourth part by the middle of the month, but ended up having to miss a couple of days of writing due to the occasional headache. Writing with a headache is never a good idea, I’ve found. 

Luckily for me, however, is I have nothing planned this weekend. I have two whole days in which to sit down and write (and read when I’m not writing, of course). There will be tea a-plenty and, hopefully, a lot of progress made.

I will keep you posted.

See my previous writing update here