Insecure Writer’s Support Group: The Real Struggle

Insecure Writer's Support GroupToday is June’s instalment of Insecure Writer’s Support Group, which sees hundreds of writers and bloggers worldwide post about their insecurities, support others with theirs, and offer up advice for overcoming them. If you want to visit the other IWSG member blogs, or sign up yourself, you can do so here.

All writers have a certain part of the book-writing/publishing business that they really struggle with (or, more likely, several parts, but we all have our absolute nemesis). Mine is blurb writing. Even more so than titles.

My biggest problem with it is that, for some reason, when I sit down to write one, every cliché my brain knows spews itself onto the paper. I just can’t help it!

I’m learning, I think I’m getting better, but no part of my book suffers more revisions than the poor blurb.

I’m working on one now. Wish me luck! What’s your writing nemesis?

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Resolutions for 2017

I’ve made a lot of resolutions over the years, and I’ve broken almost as many. I’m a quitter. I always have been, and I resigned myself to the fact that I always would be. Or maybe I just used that as an excuse. Over the past three months, something has happened, no, I’ve done something, to prove that this is no longer the case.

On October 13th 2016, I walked into my very first Slimming World meeting with hope and optimism. That optimism wasn’t misplaced. I’m beginning 2017 more than three stone lighter. I plan to end the year at my target weight. As a slim woman. Something I’ve never been before. I am not a quitter, and I’ve proved that. (If you’re interested in this, I post a lot about Slimming World on Instagram)

In the light of that, I feel, for the first time probably ever, that I can make a long list of resolutions for the year. And I feel that, for the first time, I am capable of seeing them through. So here goes…

  • I will reach my target weight of 10 stone, and I will maintain that weightloss, and enjoy a healthier, fitter, slimmer life.
  • I will give more of myself to my boys; I will give them more time, energy, and focus, and be less distracted.
  • I will declutter and tidy the house.
  • I will make lasting, happy memories with those I love.
  • I will stop wasting time simply mooching around the internet or watching the TV just because it’s on.
  • I will focus more on building my writing career, with less distractions, and more organisation. I will create action plans, and I will follow them through. I will stop using a lack of time as an excuse. I will make time. I will manage time.
  • I will allow more time for reading. I will turn off the TV more, and I will read in bed instead of playing pointless app games.
  • I will be kind and generous to both myself and others. I will not feel guilty for occassionally treating myself, and I will open myself to more experiences and opportunities. I will say yes more.
  • But I won’t be afraid to say no. I won’t feel guilty for putting myself first sometimes. I will not spread myself too thin or burn myself out simply because I feel obliged to others.
  • I will look for, and document, the good things in life. I will avoid futile arguments and debates. I will hope, I will be optimistic, and I will see the good in people for as long as they deserve it.
  • I will stick to things, and not look for easy or quick ways out. I will finish what I start.

And no excuses now. I know that I can be stubborn and resolute if I want to be. I know that I can be determined and self disciplined. But I won’t abandon the wishy-washy, spontaneous, unprepared side of me either. I can be both things. Because you never know when a wind might come to blow you onto another path, or when that other path might be exactly where you’re meant to walk.

What are your resolutions and hopes for 2017?

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Monday Motivation: Old Habits…

Monday MotivationOne thing a lot of writers struggle with is motivation. Unless writing is your day job, and actually paying your bills, it can be hard to incentivise yourself enough.

The trouble is, writing is hard work, and after a long day at your job, in education, or parenting, hard work is the last thing you feel like doing. Which, really, is fair enough. But the crux of the issue is, of course, that you can’t be a writer if you don’t write.

But I sympathise. It’s far easier to shut down your brain and stare dumbly at the TV, or mooch around on social media, or watch endless videos of dogs on skateboards or cats playing the piano. It’s so much harder to actually think, and create, and breathe life into something.

We’ve all heard the advice about distractionless writing. Turn off the TV! Turn off the internet! Turn off your phone! I’ve even given that same advice to others. But it’s far harder to follow. I’ll put an old, favourite movie on, one I’ve seen a hundred times, and I’ll tell myself I won’t actually watch it, that it’s just for background noise. Or I’ll tell myself I’ll just keep the internet open for research, or finding names, or checking word definitions. But it’s all distractions, and it all nibbles away at your motivation.

Today I’ve written double my daily wordcount target. I’ve been focussed, motivated, and unwavering in my desire to write. I’ve pushed the story forward, developed characters, and revealed plot points like an absolute trooper.

And why?

Because there’s a fault at our local telephone exchange so we’ve had no broadband.

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WIP Wednesday: Charging Forward

WIP WednesdayYesterday I did some quick calculations in my head, trying to work out the date I needed to finish my first draft of The Visionary for the promised December release. Then I worked out the minimum words I needed to write each day. Then I panicked.

Luckily, mental arithmetic is not my strong point.

Today I used a calculator and realised that, not only is it entirely possible to finish on time, it even gives me some breathing space to either finish early, or (more likely) get ahead because I’ll find it almost impossible to work at weekends.

Anyway, the good news is that my work on The Visionary is absolutely storming ahead today. It’s only just lunchtime and I’ve already exceeded today’s word target. (Ok, so I’m celebrating on day one, and we all know how easy day one is, don’t we?) But I think a positive attitude is important, and by celebrating the little victories, we’re motivated to keep working towards the big victories. That’s my theory anyway.

How’s your WIP going?

The Visionary coming winter 2016

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WIP Wednesday: My Muse Hates Me and Wants Me to Suffer

WIP WednesdayFirst thing this morning I was madly plotting out a new story while it was fresh in my brain. It was an idea I’d had during the night.

So many writers have been woken in the middle of the night with a good idea. So many have also learnt the hard way that, despite trying to convince themselves otherwise, they will not remember the idea in the morning. It’s not unusual for writers to keep a notepad next to their bed.

But I wasn’t likely to forget this idea. It left me lying awake, terrified, in the dark. Twice.

My muse hates me, I’ve never been in any doubt about that. She’s never there when I need her, and then demands attention at the most inconvenient times. But this. This was a new low.

I woke from a very, very scary dream; think possessed children with black eyes; and instead of lying there thinking about kittens and candyfloss before attempting to go back to sleep, I found myself plotting the story in my head, and even writing portions of it. So much in fact, that when I did finally get back to sleep, I returned to the dream, and it woke me again.

Yep, my muse hates me. But, to be fair, she did also give me an awesome and terrifying story.

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Tuesday Inspiration: Comfort Zones

Tuesday InspirationI came across a book title generator site that offers up an often hilarious solution to your titling problems in a choice of genres. So I challenged my 10-year-old niece to a story title competition.

She chose her own genre, and I chose a title for her to write a story from. She asked me to choose a genre, but wouldn’t let me choose horror as that’s what I write anyway. So I chose children’s. I’ve never written for children, so I was enough out of my comfort zone to give me the handicap and level the playing field.

But then something happened to the story. I tried, I really tried, but I returned to the familiar, and it came out as horror. I just can’t help it!

Just for fun, here’s my story, and the title she chose for me…

Bunny of the Moon

As Hannah slammed her bedroom door, the following ripples along the wall knocked two books from her shelf, and dropped a photo frame onto its glass front. Groaning, she dropped forwards onto her bed and screamed into the pillow.

Everything about their new house was awful. Everything about their new town was awful. It didn’t bode well for Hannah starting her new school next week. The whole house had a funny smell, her parents were stricter here, and her little brother even managed to squeeze a little bit more annoying out of his already more than frustrating personality. But worst of all, her best friend, the only person who understood her, and the only other person who knew about Bunny was no longer living across the street. She was more than 300 miles away. Was it so unreasonable to want to Skype her? To let her know that she was ok, that she missed her, that this new town totally sucked.

Hannah couldn’t believe that her internet ban was still in place. It had been imposed back home, back in her real home, surely it didn’t still count. She had to be able to Skype Cassie. For all Cassie knew, she could be dead. Lying in a ditch at the side of the road, or abducted and being held prisoner. Was it really so much to ask for just five minutes to chat? Apparently so.

* * *

Two hours later, a gentle knock at the door roused Hannah from her boredom-induced nap.

“Are you coming down for something to eat?” came her mum’s voice.

Hannah replied with a grunt.

“We ordered in pizza. We’ve got your favourite.”

Were her parents really trying to bribe her with pizza? “I don’t care,” she called back.

The door creaked open just a tiny bit.

“You’re invading my space,” Hannah groaned.

Unrelenting, her mother’s foot appeared, and then a hand, and finally a face. “Sure you don’t want pizza?” She waved the pizza box back and forth, filling the room with the mouthwatering scent of melted cheese and still-sizzling peperoni.

Hannah rolled away from the temptation. “No. I don’t.”

She heard her mum sigh, pad across the room in the ugly pink slippers she insisted on wearing, and felt her weight settle onto the bed.

“I know how you feel,” Hannah’s mum said.

“No you don’t.”

“I do. When I was your age, my parents moved us a long way from home too. I left everyone behind. But you know what?”

Hannah sat up. “I know. You soon made new friends, loved your new home, and forgot all about the people you’d left behind.”

Her mum smiled and then shook her head. “No. I hated that new place. Sure, I made new friends, but I never stopped missing home. And we didn’t have luxuries like Skype and Facebook back then. Me and my best friend wrote to each other every week for more than two years. But the letters became less frequent and, finally, stopped altogether. But I never forgot her. I still have all her letters in a box somewhere.”

“So what did you do?”

Hannah’s mum stood up, leaving the pizza box on the bed, and crossed to the window to pull open the curtains. “I looked at the moon and the stars.”

Hannah slipped a slice of hot pizza from the box and cradled it in her hands. She moved from the bed and stood next to her mum.

“It’s the same moon you looked at before, and the same moon that Cassie’s looking at too. No matter how far away you are, there are some things that will always stay the same.” She ruffled Hannah’s hair. “Why don’t you set up your telescope?”

* * *

Hannah peered through the eyepiece and focussed her scope on the moon. It was the same moon, the same pits and craters, the same shadows and ridges. And there was Bunny. Poor, abandoned Bunny.

When Bunny had been new at their school, with her dorky plaits, her clunky shoes, her geeky glasses, Hannah and Cassie had latched onto her straight away. She taught them about the moon, the stars, the solar system. She taught them how to use telescopes, and taught them about orbits, rockets, and propulsion. They almost liked her. Almost. But she was everything they hated. Everything they hated about who they had once been. Everything they tried to escape from. So she had to go. A one-way mission to the moon.

Hannah sat back from the telescope and smiled. However lonely she might feel, she’d never be as alone as Bunny.

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