Friday, October 10, 2014

When Procrastination Strikes


Some people might say that procrastination is the fastest way to kill your writing career.
In a way, it could be. There are many ways of looking at procrastination.
One person might see it as being lazy, while another may see it as feeling overwhelmed. It all depends on the person and their point of view.
I don't see it as either.
When I hear the word procrastination applied to writing, I see it as a lack of training, a lack of skill, or a bad habit.
Anyone can write.
But, what makes a writer a Writer is how they teach them themselves to actually take the time to sit down and Write!
When I first started writing, I wanted to become a writer by profession, but I couldn't make myself sit down for any amount of time to write. It was almost painful to try.
I wanted to be Writer.
But I always found something more important to do.
When I did sit down to write, I allowed myself to become consumed in what I felt was more important than my writing. (And we're back to Writer's Guilt!)
Procrastination runs deep in my father's side of the family, so it is something that creeps into my life periodically. My mother is a doer. If there is something to be done, it should be done - yesterday!
Their two very different personalities made growing up in our house interesting!
Because both my parents were extreme in these areas, I learned how to balance my impatience of doing with the sometimes deep desire to "put it off until tomorrow" - to some degree.
Soon after leaving an abusive relationship, I found that I was using procrastination as a punishment.
I purposely wouldn't allow myself to do what I wanted, what needed to be done, such as outlining my book, because I was angry with myself.
One day, I was complaining about my procrastination problem to my mom over coffee. (All good epiphanies come over a cup of hot tea or coffee, or in the shower! Must be the steam...) She suggested that maybe I didn't feel that I deserved the pleasure of writing.
Like a slap in the face, I realized that I hated myself for becoming a victim, so I took away the one thing that made me feel worthwhile - my writing.
When I saw what I doing to myself, I decided that I was worth taking the necessary action to correct this way of thinking!
Just because you may feel smaller than dirt doesn't mean that you won't be a great writer!
In my opinion, the personal struggles one goes through increase the potential of that persons writing by 100%! So, the more you experience, the better writer. If you allow yourself the pleasure of writing.
After struggling everyday for a month to break my writing procrastination habit, I almost gave up. Then I realized, maybe instead of breaking the habit, I should reprogram myself.
So, everyday for the next month, I sat down with a pen and journal and set the timer for one minute and wrote. I wanted to be writer so badly that I focused on my desire to be published (and conjured the image of myself at book signings) throughout the day, so that when my son went down for his afternoon nap, I concentrated all my energy into writing - for one minute. Then, two minutes, then five, and before I knew it, I got lost in the joy of writing!
Now, if conditions allow, I write for hours at a time.
I also write everyday, no matter what. I don't allow myself to skip even a day.
Procrastination is a habit. Once you get started writing, don't stop!
Even if it is a quick, but meaningful jot down in your journal several days of the week and then 500 words a day on the weekends, make yourself write everyday!
But, write because you love to write. Don't write because you have to. Write because you are a writer!
As you go about your day, look for things to write about, so at the end of the day (or when you choose to write) you will enjoy your session.
When I decided that writing was just as important than putting on make-up, painting my nails and even washing the dishes, I became a writer.
I write for me.
I write because I love writing!
I write because I have a story to tell.
I write because I have something important to say.
I write because I am in love with writing!
I write because I am a Writer.
Are you a Writer?

Friday, September 26, 2014

Taking The Leap

I have been a writer for many years, and apart from my siblings and young son, I have hugged my work closely to me, guarding it with my life. If anyone asked to see it, I would literally suffer a panic attack.
Tightening in the chest, heart pounding in ears, swelling throat, thick tongue and shortness of breath would prevent me from thinking clearly enough to come up with a good reason for them not to see my work in progress. Of course, my bulging eyes and blue face probably clued them in as to how I felt about such a request. My work was not to be seen!
Whenever I got close to finishing a written piece, I would start thinking of hiring an editor and then, suddenly panic would settle in. The what if's and can't be's would start doing merry-go-rounds in my head, haunting both my waking and sleeping hours until I decided that it wasn't good enough and therefore must be filed away with my other writing that I was ashamed of, hidden under lock and key.
Not until recently did I realize that if I wanted to Know my dream of being a published, dare I say, Best Selling Author, I would indeed have to start sharing myself with the world.
What a terrifying thought!
People reading my writing! My words to be archived, possibly read years from now. It still gives me shivers!
But, I wanted to be published, so, I threw all caution to the wind and started a blog!
Even though it has been a struggle to get going, I have been enjoying putting my written self out there, and receiving feedback.
Although I am still in the Delicate Flower stage, (anything negative might cause me to wilt away.) I feel that with a little more time (and posts!) I will feel comfortable, even confident sending in my novel for editing!
So how did I come to this revelation?
One late night, so late it was closer to morning, I was struggling with a scene in my latest work, a novel.
Finally getting frustrated, I caved and decided to google scene structure. I knew it wasn't my problem, but it was close enough. Scanning through the search results, I right clicked on a bunch of links that looked like they may have had the content I needed.
After rapidly reading through several and promptly closing them out, I was about to give up when I stumbled on one that addressed my fear of  sharing my work. The first suggestion that leapt out at me was starting a blog to get comfortable in the role of a "published" writer. It was a fascinating thought that kept nagging at me, demanding I explore it further.
I spent several days trying to ignore its buzzing in my ears until I sat down, put everything aside and thought about it.
Starting a blog was a huge undertaking, especially since I hadn't even known what a blog was a year ago. (Yeah, I know. I preferred to live my life and read and write books in my spare time - what little I had!) So, before I could begin, I had to research how to create a blog.
I happen to be a thorough researcher and after a few weeks, I almost decided to give up!
I had my writing.
Who needs the headache of starting something new? Learning as you go? Anyone who knows me, knows that is my least favorite way to do something!
I like to be well informed, well versed on the subject before plunging in.
Blogging seemed complicated, the way people described it online.
I still don't understand the word blog. It is such an odd little word, where did it come from? Who made it up? And what were they thinking? Seriously, Blog?
Ask me to write a professionally written letter, and I would gladly help. (I say this, because proper letter writing is quickly becoming a lost art.)
But a blog? My schooling didn't cover blogging. (Could have something to with the fact blogging is relatively new!)
I fussed and fought, and then, suddenly remembered; I was doing this for me! For my writing. For my career.
I love myself enough to put myself out there for all the world to see.
It may be terrifying, it may be foolhardy. (I apologize for the crudeness of my blog. I am still in the learning curve!) But, I am gaining confidence to show who I truly am, as writer.
I can now look a person in the eye and say, "I am writer."
Goodbye panic attacks, hello confidence!
I have shared my writing self with the world and it doesn't hate me! That actually is quite a surprise, but a happy one!
Blogging may not be for everybody, and that is fine. But, before you hide another manuscript out of fear of humiliation, give yourself the chance to be a success!
Put yourself out there!
Take the wild leap, and succeed!
Happy Landings!

 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Another Great Post From Mystery Writing Is Murder

Being a busy Mom, Entrepreneur and Writer, I sometimes find myself wondering if my writing is "all in my head".
Meaning, it may sound good to me now, but what about in a few months when I go back and read it through? What sounds brilliant to me, may sound ridiculous to someone else.
So, how do I deal with this quandary?
Answer: Become part of a critique group!
But where to start?
This morning I decided to google it and came across this post, which coincidently is where I found yesterday's post! If you too are ready to share your work in exchange for honest feedback, then this post will help get you started. I hope you find it as helpful as I did!
Mystery Writing is Murder: Finding Critique Groups: Many writers are looking for someone to make a read-through of their manuscript and offer feedback or constructive criticism. The problem ...

Friday, September 19, 2014

Mystery Writing is Murder: Tips for Restless Writers

I have found this blog post to be quite useful! I have a hard time allowing myself to actually sit down and write! As I go about my day, I always make notes for my novel, but hardly take enough time to write from my notes. As the author of this post states, Mystery Writing Is Murder!

Mystery Writing is Murder: Tips for Restless Writers: Are we getting wired differently because of modern distractions? I’m not sure, but I know that it’s hard for me to sit still for very long. ...

Saturday, August 30, 2014

"Writer's Doubt" And How To Conquer It

I am participating in the ‘Writing Contest: Overcoming Writer’s Doubt’ held by Positive Writer. If you would like to join in the fun, please click Here.
Every writer has battled it, every writer has faced it.
Few have conquered it.
It is like the fairytale's giant fire-breathing dragon of the Writer's reality.
Targeting the novice and the expert alike, it's appetite is insatiable.
Then, as swift and silent as a spider going after it's prey, the monster attacks!
Writer's Doubt.
This ugly, multi-headed monster, has but one purpose.
He is hell bent on destroying you, The Writer.
Spinning "I can't's" and "What if's" around in your head, until you're so dizzy you can't think or see straight.
Striking fear into the heart of the most seasoned writer, "Writer's Doubt" can destroy you, your dreams, everything you hope to accomplish as a writer, all in the matter of a few moments...
If you allow it.
But, I am getting ahead of myself!
First, a little about me...
Even as a young child, I knew I was a writer.
From the time I formed my first letters, I knew my purpose. My passion...
Writing.
I loved creating new and exciting worlds, experiences, and ways of communicating.
I was lucky enough to have a voracious reader as an older sister, and a couple of younger siblings to try my newest story out on.
My older sister gave me the need to read in the form of competition - I couldn't let her leave me behind in any area of life!
My little brother and sister didn't want just any old story, it had to be exciting, unusual, with mystery, and sometimes a splash of romance. (I want to say the romance was for my sister's sake, but to be honest, it was for my benefit as much as hers!)
I have struggled with dyslexia my whole life, so the monster "Writer's Doubt" is not a stranger to me.
Since dyslexia isn't confined to just spelling, it can cause confusion in how words are placed, sentences are constructed, and sometimes even causes whole words to be completely skipped.
When it's at its worst, my writing often ends in tears of frustration and doubt.
Why keep trying?
Is it really worth the pain and effort?
Am I just kidding myself?
Last week is a good example:
I thought I had finished my book outline - I was giddy and so proud of myself!
Until I found out that I had placed the same scene in multiple chapters (Three!) of my book.
How I managed to do it, I am not sure, but, fixing it is going to be fun! (I am sure it had something to do with certain little distractions...)
Disgusted and more than a little frustrated, I allowed the monster to do it's worst...
Maybe I should listen to this beast. He could be telling the truth!
Maybe I'm not cut out to be a writer.
If I can't even keep my scenes straight...

Dyslexia is hard enough to deal with, but add being a single parent, and suddenly writing has become something that seems like a book version of a mission impossible plot.
There have been so many times I have given up my writing, only to return to it with more passion, more verve.
I am ready to share my stories with the world!
So, I sit down, confident, pen poised in hand, just in time for the ugly monster, "Writer's Doubt" to rear his petrifyingly fearsome head.
I drop my pen, fear and doubt encompassing me, shrouding me in dark mists of confusion.
I am unable to move, unable to think. I can only feel.
Fear, guilt, confusion and self-doubt overtake my thoughts, ripping away my confidence.
Like a well written Character, "Writer's Doubt" has many facets to his large personality.
The most familiar being;

Not good Enough:

What if I am not good enough?

What if my story is not good enough?

What if my readers don't like my story?

Self  Doubt:

How can I call myself a writer? I've never published anything! Doesn't calling myself a writer make me a fraud?

Who is going to read this drivel?

Is this a complete waste of time?

What if I spend all my time writing and can't get published? Have I ignored my family and friends for nothing?

 -The last of which makes way for his cousin "Guilt" to enter the scene.

Guilt adds a whole new facet to the Ugly Monster's well rounded personality.

I have fought this monster for years. Every day I get up to write, and then the Ugly Monster shows his head and I cower.
Before I can count to ten, I am swimming in guilt, afraid to even pick up my pen, fear of failure staring at me starkly in my face.
Maybe I shouldn't be writing, my family and friends need me.
Am I ruining their lives by putting their needs and concerns to the side, while I write?
Admit it, you don't really expect to be published, do you? How could you? Are you really good enough?
Then it hits me!
The sneaky dragon-like monster has struck again!
I laugh in it's many faces.
I know I am better than a wimpy ol' thing like Doubt.
I am passionate about writing! 
I write for the pure joy of writing!
I LOVE writing!
I AM A WRITER!
And Writer's can make mistakes. (As do many other professionals the world over. I have to add this because it comforts me!)
If it doesn't work the first time, fix it!
Don't give up!
Fight the Dragon in the Fairytale/Reality.
I was amazed! As I started to conquer my fears, failures, and guilt, the monster got smaller and smaller! As he got smaller, so did his voice.

Suddenly, very quietly, I could hear my heart shouting from a seemingly great distance:
You are Writer! 
Write! Write! Write!
No one, nothing can tell you to quit, but you.
Then I realized,
You are the one that decides whether you succeed or fail -  not the ugly monster "Writer's Doubt", not even your boss, family, friends or publisher.
Just You!
So, before you decide to retire your pen, keyboard, or typewriter, remember that the sneaky monster "Writer's Doubt" may have already injected his venomous poison into your mind, but you have the antidote!  
(Passion mixed with a little knowledge will remove toxic traces of the venom.) 
Don't allow him (or anyone, for that matter!) to have the last say.

So, here are the four ways I fight and banish "Writer's Doubt" and his cousin "Guilt" to their dark and gloomy kingdom.

The first step to banishing the Ugly Monster "Writer's Doubt" is Own your story!
Remember, no one can write like you.
You have your very own unique voice and take on a story.
You are the only one who can tell your story in the way you tell it. It isn't anyone else's story because it is your own! (Barring you trying to steal someone's story, of course!)

Second, Define why are you writing your story.
Is it to help people? To entertain? Or just for the joy of creating?
Whatever the reason you are writing, know the reason and remember why you are writing. (This also helps combat the slimy "Guilt" Monster.)

Third and fourth, ask yourself these questions:
Are you a good writer?
If you feel a little under-qualified for the title "Writer", then do something about it!
Take a course on writing your specific genre, read more, get out and experience life and most importantly, write, write, write and then write some more!

Is your story good enough?
That is a great question. What makes a story great?
A great story starts with each character having an extensive background, the more extensive their background, the more realistic the story becomes.
A great writer creates a world of their own, taking the reader into their world and leading them on a journey that they otherwise would have never experienced.
Find your character's motive.
If you know what drives your characters, why they are in the circumstances they are in, and how they will react to the circumstances and resolve the conflict, (making sure of course, it is all realistic!) then chances are, your story is great!

Don't forget to Be passionate! About your writing, Your life, Your story.
Be passionate in every area of your life - it will show in your work!
So, here it is; How I defy "Writer's Doubt".
Of course, writing is a work in progress.
But one of the most important things for you to remember is, "Creativity is an attitude of mind that develops with practice."
So, before you give up your writing, work at developing your creativity!

If you too want to join the Contest, click Here.
(But, hurry! It ends pretty soon!)

If you fight "Writer's Doubt" or have any other Writer's ailments, frustrations or concerns watch my blog for more ways to discover how to enhance your writing life!