Tag Archives: motivation

Diary of a hopeful author: I’ve only gone & finished my novel

It’s “Wednesday Wafflings” when I post the latest entry in my Diary of a Hopeful Author…Photo of a Diary

Oh my days, I am excited. And it is not because we go on holiday in THREE WEEKS, although, to be fair, that is up there with the best of them. Nah, the news I bring you this week, after a couple of months of re-blogging old posts on a Wednesday because I have had my head down busy editing, is this: I have finished my novel. I will repeat that because it sounds soooo good: I have FINISHED my novel.

Yessury, after one whole year of researching, planning, developing outlines, creating a synopsis and eating my body weight in chocolate, my novel is now not only written, but edited – four times. I now have 74k words of, what I hope, is a cracking psychological thriller, the first in an instalment of three. Draft one of book one was 90k words, meaning that the four editing phases I have completed have culled nearly 20k words. Holy mother.

Next up now is to get it sent off to agents and then, go for it. I’ll post back next week on, what I think, are the dos and don’t of contacting agents on this one, so that’ll be one to watch out for. Until then, I am going to rest my fingers for one night and maybe not get up at 5am tomorrow. Just 6 am instead.

So, if you’re writing a book, or have an idea for one, all I can say is this: do it. Don’t give up, keep going, because when you finish it, when you know you’ve done the best you can, it doesn’t half feel good. And then you open the laptop and start book number two from scratch.

Writing a novel? How do you keep going? Still in the middle of writing or just finished yourself? Let me know.

Out tomorrow “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my latest Gazette newspaper column to my blog…**

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Diary of a hopeful author: Self doubt – my running-naked dream

It’s “Wednesday Wafflings” when I post the latest entry in my Diary of a Hopeful Author…Photo of a Diary

This week I am going through another inevitable writer’s wobble where I am doubting my work and, basically, lacking a tad of confidence. So, as I was going through my old blog ramblings for my Wednesday Wafflings post, I came across this one I wrote back in January that’s, funnily enough, about self-doubt. So I read it and, hey, it helped.

Writing is a funny thing where we sit at home on our own, which on one hand is great because you can wear your pjs and stuff your face with popcorn and no one can see; but the downside is you are, well, on your own, your tod, if you will, and with that comes creeping doubt. So if you’re having a little writer’s wobble, I hope this candid analysis of my own neurosis’ will help. And I hope this makes you feel you’re not quite so on your own anymore.

Some things scare the crap out of me.  Dogs, massive insects, seeing a fleece being teamed with heels. Republicans. They just make me freeze with fright.  But there’s another thing that scares the bejesus out of me. Something that, if I let it, would take over me and, like a fossil frozen in time,would immobilise me to the spot, never moving on, always preserving me at the exact moment I left off. That thing is self-doubt.

Doubting myself is my running-naked-dream, one of those where you look down and realise you have nothing on. Like a shadow creeping across a field, it dawns on you that you’re unclothed. Naked, wearing nothing but your birthday suit. In a room full of people. The agony that comes with this is that you are mortified, utterly, devastatingly mortified.

Self-doubt as a writer is a double edged sword. In my line of work, I have to approach people. I always have. I am, outwardly, what they call a ‘people person’. I am smiley. I have that annoying habit of engaging everyone in the room so they feel involved. I network, listen, understand, mingle. I nod at bad jokes. Think of it as a swan, gliding, confident, chin slightly beaked, whilst underwater, the feet are kicking, frantic, mad.

Self-doubt, you see, is my swan feet. I am awash with the stuff. It cripples me, sometimes so much that I will start a project often only to stop it half way through declaring it to be ‘rubbish’, then start again from scratch.

Flip side is, I know I have a good radar, a kind of instinct I suppose, for what works and what doesn’t. This is the other side of that sword. It comes into play a lot in writing, thank God. It’s an instinct that tells me when to revise a chapter, when to really cut a joke out of a column and when not to write a blog on self-doubt… Trouble is, when you mix this handy instinct malarkey with this self-doubt cess pit, you end up with something that resembles an oil slick, something that renders you unmoveable, sticking you together until you are blinking through dripping oil and wondering how in the hell you are going to make it out.

This week I’ve had to approach people – and I’m drenched in doubt. I am freelance, my promo person is me. I am the one who has to shout about me, even if, inside, it’s absolutely the very last thing I ever want to do. The approaches this week I’ve had to make are to do with festivals, things like that, speaking, if you will, at big literature events. I have done this on a a few occasions before. Heck, in my marketing life guise, I’ve presented to rooms of over 300 delegates. I’ve been on the radio – live. I do actually like it. So, clearly, being there isn’t the problem.

It’s getting there in the first place that’s the issue. I just assume, you see, that I’m pants. It’s my default button. But I know it shouldn’t be, though.  And so, mercifully, just when I feel as low as a river in a drought, I get a life line, a little splash of rain. Writing is that line. Writing. I love writing. My dream. It flies in just in time, swoops me up and saves me.  The thought of writing is the thing in me that says, ‘just keep going, just do it, do it. Stuff it. What’s the worst that could happen?’

And that’s it, really, isn’t it, in all this writing lark, in this profession where you are critiqued by everyone, up against thousands of others, shooting your arrow to hit a target 100 miles away. Before you throw in the towel on it all, you have to stop, you have to, and ask yourself, ‘What’s the worst that could happen?’

‘Cos the answer is nothing. Nothing could really happen if you approach people, if you try, if you give it a shot. So why not just do it? Just sod it, and do it. The worst they can say is no, at which point you smile and move on to the next.

Because – and here’s the really scary thing -if you don’t do it, if you end up jacking it all in and packing your dream – whatever it is – into a box, if you find yourself about to do that, then ask yourself, in that scenario, ‘What’s the worst that could happen?’ and I’ll guarantee you, that answer will scare you the most.

So me, I’m off to scare the living daylights out of myself and approach people. Sod it. Take that, self-doubt! I mean, what’s the worst that could happen..?

What scares the pants off you? What stops you from moving on and what do you do to get going again?

Out tomorrow “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my latest Gazette newspaper column to my blog. This week I’m talking about  the Severn Barrage in Gloucestershire…**

Diary of a hopeful author: How to keep on writing

It’s “Wednesday Wafflings” when I post the latest entry in my Diary of a Hopeful Author…

Photo of a Diary

This week I have trawled through the archives again to pick out another post which went down well. This one is all about how to keep writing, or, at least how I keep writing. There’s an analogy with running, but stay with it, it’s not too energetic. The thing I like about this post is that when I re-read it, it’s still relevant to my writing now, finding myself, as I do this week and next, in the throws of major editing deadlines. So, after over a year of this blog, hope you enjoy this post – and that your writing is going good. Don’t give up.

I used to run a lot when I was a kid. Give me a road, and I’d be on it. I was a right Forrest Gump. I loved the feeling of being outside. The fact that we didn’t have a car might have had something to do with it, too. No car and friends living 7-miles into the next village, plus no buses. So I ran.

The good thing about all that running was stamina. I got it in the bucket load. I was like a Duracell bunny, going on forever, not running out of energy. I love a bit of stamina. It links arm in arm with its old pal, motivation, like two BFFs but only, well, cooler.  They’re a right old double act. Motivation gets us up and going, while stamina picks up where it left off and makes sure we keep moving forward.

This week I’ve been needing the two in spades. I am shattered. Cream crackered and in need of two weeks of sleep in one hit. But that ain’t going to happen any time soon.  Christmas is juggernauting its way to us all and with it a whole heap of preparation, pressie buying and workload shifting.

For me that means writing. Five columns. I wrote, last week, five columns in one day for my Weekend paper because, when I looked at all the deadlines and factored in Christmas and the fact that I want to spend time with my family, I just had to get it done. And that’s just for one paper. I haven’t started on the Gazette column deadlines yet. And then there’s the novel. 100k words it’s up to now. 100k! Not entirely sure how that happened, but I do know it needs editing. I’m now averaging on that 2 chapters a day – that’s 8,000 words – all to get it done by, yup, Christmas.

I was flagging, and then I gave myself a dose of motivation followed by a swift kick from stamina.  Alright, maybe there was some caffeine, too, but you get the idea. I want to finish this book edit. I have to. I just want to see how far it can go, that if, in the New Year, it will hit the shelves. That’s my motivation. It’s a dream, I guess, but it works.

My stamina – I’m not sure where it comes from. I get up at 5 every day while the family sleeps. I then write during the day, too, the columns, blogs, the novel, any other writing job that springs up. I think the stamina is connected to the motivation. When I was a kid, my motivation to run was so I could see my friends, and because I loved to run. The stamina came along with me because it had to – without it, no matter what motivation I had, I wouldn’t get there.

And so that’s been my week. Bleary eyes, LOTS of coffee, and a whole heap of writing and still more to go. But it’ll be okay, because I’m looking forward to Christmas when I can forget all about it and listen to our youngest belt out carols on her guitar. Yes, motivation comes in the form of Jingle Bells.

What’s your motivation?  Stamina? What keeps you writing when you feel like throwing in the towel?

Out tomorrow “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my latest Gazette newspaper column to my blog…**

Diary of a hopeful author: Why you have to tell yourself ‘At least I tried’

It’s “Wednesday Wafflings” when I post the latest entry in my Diary of a Hopeful Author…Photo of a Diary

I don’t  care for preaching, with its do-a-I-say approach and the way that really, when you think about it, you don’t listen anyway. But realisations? Realisations I can do. Realisations are good.

Realisations, see, are like sun bolts. You aren’t really anticipating them, but when they do arrive, they shine a light so bright, they feel so warm and wonderful and well, right, that everything is better.

Don’t worry, I’ve not gone all evangelical on you, hang on in there. See, this week, a phrase, a thought popped into my head at a time when I was tired, tired with writing, tired with working, finding myself, as I did in my shattered state, wondering whether I should have put myself out there in the ways I have done recently, work wise. And the phrase? Well, this is it: at least you tried.

That phrase, what it means, its effect – that is my realisation, my sun bolt. At least you tried. I’m saying it again because it instantly makes me feel better.

Not believe me? Think I’m nuts? (actually, don’t answer that…) Okay, think of something, some kind of work project or piece of writing you’re doing, something where you’ve maybe approached someone about it or sent something off on spec, or maybe even applied for a job, anything. Got something in mind? Okay, now I bet, I can guarantee, that at times, with that action you’re thinking about, you’ve had doubts, right? I bet you’ve thought, damn it, they probably won’t get back in touch/read it/want to give me the job etc.  And that feeling you get from that thought, that sinking that you get, that sucks, doesn’t it, makes you feel rubbish? Okay, so imagine that feeling, and now, now say yourself, ‘at least I tried.’ Done it? Poof, like a waft of Harry Potter’s wand, the sinking feeling is gone. See? Sun bolt. Who said magic was just for spectacled wizards?

I’m not preaching here. Nah. That’s bobbins. But what I am doing, with my small realisation, is I’m saying that we always have to try. And it’s that trying, you see, that giving it a go, that’s what counts. ‘Cos when the day is done, when life hits the stop button, you can look up and say, hey, at least I tried, folks. Because, there are times when things won’t work out the way you really wanted them too. But if you tell yourself at least you tried, you are then, see, not a failure. Quite the opposite – trying makes you a success. The fact that you at least gave it a shot – that’s the achievement.

The work I pitched for, I got, in the end. I was mighty chuffed, a gamble that pulled off.  Edit number three of my novel is going fast and good. Soon, for us, it’s holiday time, a week and half of fun, and I can have a rest. I’ll be able to kick back, have a laugh and eat cake. And when I scoff it all, as I inevitably will, that yummy cake at 4pm after skiing all day, I can tell myself, at least I tried it. The cake, at least I tried it. Yes, realisations, turns out, come in the form of baked goods.

How do you get through things? Do you have your own realisations, phrases? Let me know.

 **Out tomorrow “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my latest Gazette newspaper column to my blog…**

Diary of a hopeful author: Goals – the lighthouses of writing

It’s “Wednesday Wafflings” when I post the latest entry in my Diary of a Hopeful Author…Photo of a Diary

What keeps you going? I’m not talking fibre food here, although, granted, prunes are very good to keep things ticking along in the old bowel department – we aren’t getting any younger. No, I refer to, in this instance, what drives you forward in achieving what you do? What are your goals?

Back in the day, I didn’t need much by way of things to keep me going, happy as I was with a bat, ball and some friends to peg it around a field with, the day stretching out ahead of us, packed full of Grifter bike riding, football and the odd game of knock a door run. Fast forward a couple  (or so) decades, and while I can still knock the bejesus out of a rounders ball game, my goals are different. No more Grifter bike sessions for me.

Goals you see are the lighthouses of writing – without them we cannot see where we are going. Goals stand on the edge of the sea, solid, unwavering, beaming out a light that can be seen for miles away so that if, when stuck, the wind whipping your hair into your face, the sea swirling your stomach into a dangerous lurch, you find you need to find your way, goals beam a light so strong, you find your course and re-set on your path.

I have the best family in the world. Utterly the tops. We are a solid, nutty unit of four, 2 adults, 2 kids, 4 brains. And one crazy goal: to own a farm. We’ve had this dream now for a couple of years and, instead of abating, it’s only snowballed, rolling down the hill faster than Usain Bolt at the Olympics. The dream’s getting so large we can’t ignore it. ‘Farm!’ the kids will shout, which is difficult at 6 in the morning.

My kids, you see, are country girls. Give them a pair of wellies and some mud and you give them a dream. They love to be outside, obsessed as they are about all things animal, vegetable, and sweet lord, I bet mineral. Once, we went to a place, for our Easter holidays, called Feather Down Farm. You stay in this yurt thing – glamping, I believe it’s called – where you sleep in a posh tent with feather-quilt beds, a table, home-made casseroles and a wood burning stove. It’s bloomin’ great – and it’s on a farm. The eldest got to hold a lamb one day and oh my lordy, you should have seen her face. She was in love. She had that gooey eyed look that said, ‘I have found myself’. I didn’t hold the lamb – country is not my thing.

But, no matter, we have a goal. Last week, I had a little falter with my writing. I had hit a wall and was doubting what I had done, if I could move it forward. I know. Numpty. And then the youngest came in and said, ‘Mum, when are we getting a farm/small holding?’ (We’ve taught her well – she knows a small holding exists and is perhaps the more realistic option. I am not slopping out. Think City Slickers).

And that’s when it hit. My goal. I had lost sight of my goal, my light house. Because, for me, while personal success in writing definitely does motivate me, my family motivates me more. And if that means my goal to write is to help us to buy a farm (small holding), with wellies on my feet and straw up my backside, then so be it.

So, that’s my lighthouse, or, farm house, if you will. I have found my course again through the choppy waters of writing and I am set sail to a farm (small holding).  Granted, as a city girl, it’s not my ideal choice, although, to be fair, it beats coughing your guts up on exhaust fumes.

How do you set your goals? What are they? Or do you fly by the seat of your pants?

 **Out tomorrow “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my latest Gazette newspaper column to my blog. This week I’m talking about  rape opinions and a Gloucestershire MP…**

Diary of a hopeful author: Self doubt – my running-naked dream

It’s “Wednesday Wafflings” when I post the latest entry in my Diary of a Hopeful Author…Photo of a Diary

Some things scare the crap out of me.  Dogs, massive insects, seeing a fleece being teamed with heels. Republicans. They just make me freeze with fright.  But there’s another thing that scares the bejesus out of me. Something that, if I let it, would take over me and, like a fossil frozen in time,would immobilise me to the spot, never moving on, always preserving me at the exact moment I left off. That thing is self-doubt.

Doubting myself is my running-naked-dream, one of those where you look down and realise you have nothing on. Like a shadow creeping across a field, it dawns on you that you’re unclothed. Naked, wearing nothing but your birthday suit. In a room full of people. The agony that comes with this is that you are mortified, utterly, devastatingly mortified.

Self-doubt as a writer is a double edged sword. In my line of work, I have to approach people. I always have. I am, outwardly, what they call a ‘people person’. I am smiley. I have that annoying habit of engaging everyone in the room so they feel involved. I network, listen, understand, mingle. I nod at bad jokes. Think of it as a swan, gliding, confident, chin slightly beaked, whilst underwater, the feet are kicking, frantic, mad.

 Self-doubt, you see, is my swan feet. I am awash with the stuff. It cripples me, sometimes so much that I will start a project often only to stop it half way through declaring it to be ‘rubbish’, then start again from scratch.

Flip side is, I know I have a good radar, a kind of instinct I suppose, for what works and what doesn’t. This is the other side of that sword. It comes into play a lot in writing, thank God. It’s an instinct that tells me when to revise a chapter, when to really cut a joke out of a column and when not to write a blog on self-doubt… Trouble is, when you mix this handy instinct malarkey with this self-doubt cess pit, you end up with something that resembles an oil slick, something that renders you unmoveable, sticking you together until you are blinking through dripping oil and wondering how in the hell you are going to make it out.

This week I’ve had to approach people – and I’m drenched in doubt. I am freelance, my promo person is me. I am the one who has to shout about me, even if, inside, it’s absolutely the very last thing I ever want to do. The approaches this week I’ve had to make are to do with festivals, things like that, speaking, if you will, at big literature events. I have done this on a a few occasions before. Heck, in my marketing life guise, I’ve presented to rooms of over 300 delegates. I’ve been on the radio – live. I do actually like it. So, clearly, being there isn’t the problem.

It’s getting there in the first place that’s the issue. I just assume, you see, that I’m pants. It’s my default button. But I know it shouldn’t be, though.  And so, mercifully, just when I feel as low as a river in a drought, I get a life line, a little splash of rain. Writing is that line. Writing. I love writing. My dream. It flies in just in time, swoops me up and saves me.  The thought of writing is the thing in me that says, ‘just keep going, just do it, do it. Stuff it. What’s the worst that could happen?’

And that’s it, really, isn’t it, in all this writing lark, in this profession where you are critiqued by everyone, up against thousands of others, shooting your arrow to hit a target 100 miles away. Before you throw in the towel on it all, you have to stop, you have to, and ask yourself, ‘What’s the worst that could happen?’

‘Cos the answer is nothing. Nothing could really happen if you approach people, if you try, if you give it a shot. So why not just do it? Just sod it, and do it. The worst they can say is no, at which point you smile and move on to the next.

Because – and here’s the really scary thing -if you don’t do it, if you end up jacking it all in and packing your dream – whatever it is – into a box, if you find yourself about to do that, then ask yourself, in that scenario, ‘What’s the worst that could happen?’ and I’ll guarantee you, that answer will scare you the most.

So me, I’m off to scare the living daylights out of myself and approach people. Sod it. Take that, self-doubt! I mean, what’s the worst that could happen..?

What scares the pants off you? What stops you from moving on and what do you do to get going again?

 Out tomorrow “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my latest Gazette newspaper column to my blog. This week I’m talking about  the Severn Barrage in Gloucestershire…**

Diary of a hopeful author: How to create a writer’s CV

It’s “Wednesday Wafflings” when I post the latest entry in my Diary of a Hopeful Author…Photo of a Diary

I’ve been writing my CV. Well, I say writing, more pulling together. I mention this because, after tonnes of in-depth research (surfing the web whilst swigging coffee and watching 30 Rock re-runs), I have discovered that these days, in the age of the Internet, email and dancing cats on You Tube, the paper CV is nigh obsolete.  Gone. Done. Kerrput. Okay, not totally.

You see, I work in, well, I guess you’d call it, media. Yes, I write for a living, but think how fast things move. If we want to get in touch with an editor, it’s via email. If we need some fast data, get on the web. If we need to order pizza, call on that smart phone.

My trouble is that my old CV is outdated. I worked in marketing and my CV is on paper, it’s all, ‘strategic planning this’ and ‘advertising revenue percentages that.’ Not really conducive to a writing CV were you’re after a job that lets you sit in your PJs eating custard creams and writing about pop music, politics and society all day long. And so to a little digging. Turns out online CVs are where it’s at. For a writer, because we have to, you know, get stuff to places fast, an online CV sits with that nicely, like balsamic vinegar sits with olive oil. It just goes. But, oh where to start? What does a groovy online CV look like for a writer? Do I have enough material? What will I say? Do I really have to have a picture of myself on it?

As it stands, that there internet thing turns out to be something of a marvel when it comes to answering all these questions. One quick Google and I have a whole host of info on how to create a writer’s CV. Things like this: keep it updated. Everything you write, log it, get it down. As a writer, what you scribe IS your CV. You are only as good as your next piece. Detail your experience first, then your education, then skills.

But why all this leg work? Well, you see CVs are vital to writing jobs. CVs are like your shop window – if it doesn’t look good, people won’t want to stop by. And so think of an online CV as the retail equivalent of a store website. Everyone shop has gotta have one as well as the high street store if they’re going to survive.

And so, too, for writers. Online CVs are essential now. They can be emailed at the click of a finger – mouse – to prospective employers, giving you an edge, with all your writing for them to view in one place. Hopefully. But what should they look like? A cracking website I found was by a journalist called Josephine Moulds. She is a freelance writer for papers such as The Guardian and The Telegraph. Her online CV is done using a WordPress site. It’s simple and effective – and she can keep it updated . Here’s the link – it’s worth a look if you’re in the same boat http://www.josephinemoulds.co.uk/

As for me, I now have an online CV, too. Well, I say, have. I will do. Just about 5% of it left to finish and then new job ops here we come. Oh, God, I hope so.  The next step will be drawing up a list of who I should contact, who I already know – and I’m all set to get on out there. And then I’ll get distracted and go shopping. Online.

How do you develop your writer’s CV? Do you put your CV online? Or is it paper all the way?

Links: http://www.josephinemoulds.co.uk/

 Out tomorrow “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my latest Gazette newspaper column to my blog. This week I’m talking about  fox hunting in Gloucestershire…**

Diary of a hopeful author: How to keep on writing

It’s “Wednesday Wafflings” when I post the latest entry in my Diary of a Hopeful Author…Photo of a Diary

I used to run a lot when I was a kid. Give me a road, and I’d be on it. I was a right Forrest Gump. I loved the feeling of being outside. The fact that we didn’t have a car might have had something to do with it, too. No car and friends living 7-miles into the next village, plus no buses. So I ran.

The good thing about all that running was stamina. I got it in the bucket load. I was like a Duracell bunny, going on forever, not running out of energy. I love a bit of stamina. It links arm in arm with its old pal, motivation, like two BFFs but only, well, cooler.  They’re a right old double act. Motivation gets us up and going, while stamina picks up where it left off and makes sure we keep moving forward.

This week I’ve been needing the two in spades. I am shattered. Cream crackered and in need of two weeks of sleep in one hit. But that ain’t going to happen any time soon.  Christmas is juggernauting its way to us all and with it a whole heap of preparation, pressie buying and workload shifting.

For me that means writing. Five columns. I wrote, last week, five columns in one day for my Weekend paper because, when I looked at all the deadlines and factored in Christmas and the fact that I want to spend time with my family, I just had to get it done. And that’s just for one paper. I haven’t started on the Gazette column deadlines yet. And then there’s the novel. 100k words it’s up to now. 100k! Not entirely sure how that happened, but I do know it needs editing. I’m now averaging on that 2 chapters a day – that’s 8,000 words – all to get it done by, yup, Christmas.

I was flagging, and then I gave myself a dose of motivation followed by a swift kick from stamina.  Alright, maybe there was some caffeine, too, but you get the idea. I want to finish this book edit. I have to. I just want to see how far it can go, that if, in the New Year, it will hit the shelves. That’s my motivation. It’s a dream, I guess, but it works.

My stamina – I’m not sure where it comes from. I get up at 5 every day while the family sleeps. I then write during the day, too, the columns, blogs, the novel, any other writing job that springs up. I think the stamina is connected to the motivation. When I was a kid, my motivation to run was so I could see my friends, and because I loved to run. The stamina came along with me because it had to – without it, no matter what motivation I had, I wouldn’t get there.

And so that’s been my week. Bleary eyes, LOTS of coffee, and a whole heap of writing and still more to go. But it’ll be okay, because I’m looking forward to Christmas when I can forget all about it and listen to our youngest belt out carols on her guitar. Yes, motivation comes in the form of Jingle Bells.

What’s your motivation?  Stamina? What keeps you writing when you feel like throwing in the towel?

 Out tomorrow “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my latest Gazette newspaper column to my blog. This week I’m talking about  why new homes must be built in villages…**