Tag: my writing life

What I learned about writing in 2014

Time for some self indulgent navel gazing about 2014.

2014 was a big year for me. I got serious about this writing malarkey. Writing and publishing a novel has been my life’s goal as long as I can remember, so it was time to stop tinkering around the edges and make a real go of it.

So what did I learn in 2014 and what inspired me.

There are loads of options in the publishing world

I love my podcasts and stumbled across So you want to be a writer. “Writer” comes from the Australian Writer’s Centre and is a valuable resource of information and inspiration. It alerted me to the booming world of self-publishing. Having read Hugh Howey’s Wool in paperback, I had no idea about his back story in super successful self publishing and the different options available to writers these days. Valerie and Allison are knowledgeable and entertaining, their advice on the importance of establishing an author platform inspired me to start this blog, join Twitter and come out as a writer. I look forward to each episode.

I can write hundreds of thousands of words a year and keep a day job

Having participated in Nanowrimo multiple times and won, this year I got serious about sitting down almost every day to write or edit. In 2014, I managed 4 drafts of a 75,000 novel #1, a Nanowrimo 50,000 word vomit draft of Novel#2 and 15,000 words of Novel #3. And I kept my day job! And still managed 8 hours sleep a night (well, many of those 8 hours tossing and turning but my sleep battles are a discussion for another day).

Although on the downside, I have fallen way behind in pop culture, if it’s not Dr Who or Games of Thrones, I haven’t seen it. Hey, I’m old now – it doesn’t matter if I don’t keep up with the cool kids anymore. Oh and the best thing, whilst some days writing is like cracking walnuts with my bare hands, I still enjoy the process.

My writing doesn’t suck

I put my work out there for the first time, seeking professional and beta reader feedback on my drafts. No one told me I sucked. In fact, people even said some complimentary stuff and more importantly, gave me pointers on what to improve. Onwards and upwards, friends!

My goal –  to have a completed (ready to publish) manuscript by 31/12/15. And I can’t wait to share it with the world!

How I deal with the dreaded feedback

If you never do anything, then you’re safe from getting feedback.

Actually that’s not even true, sometimes random strangers feel compelled to let you know how you’re progressing with helpful comments like “why don’t you smile?”, “looking good” or “get out of my way.”

However, feedback is part of the process of improving. Whether at work or in writing, feedback and criticism is helpful, necessary yet frightening. We’re all delicate little flowers underneath and no one likes to be told, you’re crap.

I’ve recently put my writing out into the world for the first time, actively seeking feedback from beta readers and an editor. Scary stuff. I received a manuscript assessment about four weeks ago and while the feedback was mainly good and constructive, I went my own emotional rollercoaster ride of dealing with the feedback. It’s the same cycle I’ve been through many times with other feedback.

www.jaysamit.com

Here’s how it usually goes….

  • Day 1 – Punch to the stomach/ ego bruising. Focusing on the bad bits. Self doubt mixed with wanting to quit, hating the world and wanting to crawl under the quilt, never to come out again. This usually lasts a day or two.
  • Day 2 or 3- Processing the feedback. Re-reading (or replaying) the feedback. Glimmers of hope start to appear and (usually) it is not as wrist-slitty, soul-destroyingly bad as I feared on Day 1.
  • Day 4 – Action. The sun reappears from behind the clouds, I wake up determined and with direction of what to do next. I focus fixing stuff. Right! Let’s get on it!

Now despite the fact that I know this about myself, I forget it every time I receive feedback. I only remember on reflection – oh yeah I always do this, don’t I? Sometimes the process goes longer, sometimes shorter, but always the same.

How do you deal with feedback? Do you go through the same cycle?

And in other news…..I win

Winner-2014-Web-Banner

Writing dilemma – who’s my target audience?

Today’s writing dilemma…should I write for a specific audience or write for myself?

In my day job, I’ve been a product manager for ah-hem years. Rule #1 being – know your customer and develop a product to meet your customer’s needs. For years I’ve been analysing and getting to know my “target market”.

But when it comes to my writing, I don’t really know who my target audience is.

I’m writing a book I’d like to read and couldn’t find. In the wise words of the incredible Toni Morrison….

If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.

But then I’m busting another rule of marketing – don’t market to yourself. Cos that’s a pretty small market. I’m not going to buy my own book!

Confusion reigns.

www.theinvisibleagent.wordpress.com

This is today’s dilemma…how do you approach your writing? Do you have a specific audience in mind or do you write to interest yourself?

8 uncool tips for winning Nanowrimo

It’s the last few days of October. This means it’s almost Nanowrimo time!

I can’t even remember when I first started Nanowrimo (at least 10 years ago) and I have won at least twice. But done nothing with it (see previous post).

For me, a successful Nanowrimo is all about the discipline. Not the fun kind with riding crops, but the boring kind.

www.musictomes.com

www.musictomes.com

Here are my 7 uncool tips for a successful Nanowrimo vomit draft.

  • Consistency – yes, discipline is boring and unsexy but you can’t get around it. Commit to your 1667 words per day. Do it every day for a month.
  • Be a hermit/shut-in – what’s more important, giving birth to your awesome novel or going out for drinks with people you don’t really like to places you hate? Tell your friends you’ll see them in December.
  • Unplug – the TV, the internet… out out damned distraction. Do you really need to see another video of a quirky cat or a teenage boy cracking his knackers on a stair rail?
  • Go with the flow – if you are having a good writing day, just let it keep going. Weekends (if you are M-F 9-5 like me) are great to get bulk words down. This gets you ahead for the days when life gets in the way
  • Preparation – I’m a plotter. I do love a spreadsheet or a Gantt chart. My tip is plot as much as you can now. Then if you get stuck or have exhausted a storyline, you’ve got somewhere to go.
  • Just keep writing – you get a mental blank spot, just keep writing. Even if it’s garbage, a story will appear as you keep typing. Sometimes it’s your best idea ever.
  • Don’t reread your previous work – don’t look down, just keep going. You can reread and edit in December. November is about quantity not quality.
  • Be kind to yourself – there’s always December. Or 2015.

Hope this helps you and Happy Nano-ing!

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