We have all felt disheartened as writers. It can manifest itself in a variety of forms. Lack of impetus, illness, stress, unrealistic comparisons, self expectations or stumbling over a particular section in a writing project. Some call it writers block. In truth it is just life.
Firstly, don’t beat yourself up, you are not alone. Every writer, whether novice or any of the top 100 authors, have doubts about what they are writing. We question ourselves – is it good enough, over and over. This can only spiral us downward into self-doubt. There are ways to give yourself a pick you up. I hope these help.
1. Focus on enjoying telling your stories. Do it to the best of your ability.
2. Remember you are building an inventory of your writing but also learning your craft.
3. Lessen your expectations, don’t be so hard on yourself. Yes, we all want a certain quality to our work, but with patience it will come. There is no quick fix.
4. Don’t compare another writer’s finished work against your in process drafts. You have no idea how many changes they made.
5. Remember you get to rule over your own creative process. You choose, shape, mold, and create whatever you want.
6, Your words will, in time, sway minds, move hearts, and touch the lives of dozens of people you will never meet in person.
7. Your words, your stories are your legacy.
8. Do not take rejection personally. Think of it as a learning tool.
9. Take a long-term view of your writing career – no-one is ever an overnight success.
10. Participate in supportive writer groups. Share your work with encouraging friends.
What have you found works for you when you are feeling disheartened?
This mostly depends of what I am writing. Subject matter or issues of personal interest can be energizing to work on while other subject matter can be more difficult.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
Probably distractions of any kind. When I am writing, I like to sit down in my office chair and completely focus on the job at hand. Interruptions can disrupt my thought patterns and make it difficult to concentrate completely.
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
Not yet! I don’t feel a need to do so and feel this may not be in my best interests. I would prefer readers to recognize my name and/or associate it with my books.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
I know a number of local authors – including Todd Babiak, Roberta Laurie, Mandy Eve-Barnett, Alison Neuman, Darla Woodley and Dorian Joyal. I am also a long-standing member of a local writer’s group. Knowing and associating with other writers / authors can be helpful (writers seem to be the only people who understand writers …), motivational, and inspirational. I would have to give credit to my writer’s group for helping me increase my self-confidence as a writer and to give me the push needed to write my first book.
Do you want each book to stand alone, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
I am favouring the second route where I am building a body of work with connections between each book. My first book, Caregiver’s Guide for Canadians, opened the door to my writing my second book, The Successful Caregiver’s Guide. As a twice-chosen contributor to Chicken Soup for the Soul, I have provided them with caregiving-related stories. I also continually freelance write about senior caregiving and other senior-related issues.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
Probably hiring a lawyer to review my first book publishing contract. This was an area I knew very little about but I knew it would be important to have somebody more in the know to read through this contract, make sure that all the “I’s” were dotted and the “T’s” were crossed, and that this contract was fair for me.
What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
Many years ago when I was much younger, I remember writing a letter to the Editor of the Edmonton Journal about my lost dog being found and returned. Unbeknownst to me, my mother kept a copy of that letter until she passed away. When sorting through Mom’s filing cabinet after she died, I came across this letter and was very surprised! The message that I learned here was that if I had impacted my mother so greatly with what I had written, I expect I would have impacted others as well. That theory has been repeatedly verified from my meeting with people at current book signing events … I routinely see nods of approval for my topic choice or hear high praise from those who have read my books.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
Hmmm, I think I would choose an owl. My mother always liked owls and shared her appreciation with her children. I admire these birds for their grace and beauty.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
Perhaps surprising, but none! While I do know other writers with half-finished book projects saved on their computer’s desktop, the only thing I have saved is a related project I am currently working on!
What does literary success look like to you?
Publication of one’s written work and royalty cheques! Literary success also includes the positive feedback from readers (meaning that they have read your book and appreciated it at some level).
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
This depends on the book’s subject matter. With my own works, I drew from my own personal knowledge as a caregiver for both my own aging parents. Researching can also be done by other means … I have “google-searched” on-line (being mindful of both the source and the currency of the information provided), read associated material, and interviewed subject matter experts.
How many hours a day/week do you write?
Due to other working commitments, I often can write for only two to three hours per day a couple of days per week. I have been known to also write in the evenings and/or on weekends, but I usually only do that if I have a tight deadline and need to get something done in short order.
Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them?
After serving as a caregiver for both my own aging parents, this area has become very important to me. While I realize that the number of seniors in our country is ever-increasing and there will be a higher demand for the type of information I provide, I also gain immense satisfaction by helping others (who are prospective, new, and/or current caregivers).
How long have you been writing?
I have been casually writing for many years (as mentioned, I think it all began with that Letter to the Edmonton Journal’s Editor about my missing dog). I recall enjoying writing English essays in school and have worked a number of jobs where writing was involved (i.e.radio broadcasting and marketing). I finally stumbled across the Professional Writing program (offered through Grant MacEwan University) and decided to register for classes to see if writing was simply a casual interest or something I should take more seriously.
What inspires you?
Good writing, music, the great outdoors (gazing at a mountain peak, for example), a cleaner and more organized desk and working area, and participating in a writer’s group (where I can receive support and motivation from others).
How do you find or make time to write?
While I do have a secondary job outside of my own writing from home, I have arranged for this work to be part-time. As a result, I have a couple of days per week left mostly open for writing projects. My reduced regular paycheque provides me motivation to chase after freelance markets as well!
Caregiving seems like an odd book subject choice … why did you pick this area to write about?
Thanks for asking! I was a former co-caregiver for my own aging parents (Mom had Parkinson’s disease and Leukemia while Dad had Alzheimer’s disease). By helping and supporting both of them before they passed away, I learned a great deal about their health conditions, my own abilities, and how relevant caregiving has become in today’s society. As a means of coping with Mom and Dad’s decline, I began by writing newspaper and magazine articles about my own experiences, thoughts, and feelings. After my parents both died, I continued to write about this subject – feeling that it was both very valuable to other prospective, new, and current caregivers as well as therapeutic for me. Some years later, I spotted a book publisher’s call out for an author to write a book about caregiving. This got me thinking, “I have the related experience and could probably do this …”. I, very nervously, wrote up a pitch letter to introduce myself and the proposed book (as I saw it …). After some dithering on my part, I finally mustered up the courage to e-mail my letter to the publisher. It’s a good thing I did as I received a very enthusiastic “yes” on my proposal and then a book contract.
What projects are you working on at the present?
I am mostly writing in support of what I have written. This means I am continuing to write caregiving-related articles for newspapers, magazines, and on-line markets. While I am not always paid for these articles, I always have the opportunity to provide a concluding bio – this includes my own name, my book titles, and my author’s website. I feel that doing this is a great way to promote my own name and work.
What do your plans for future projects include?
Probably more similar writing. I always have my door open for other opportunities and am interested in a number of ideas: public speaking, collaborating with others, exhibiting opportunities at senior’s trade shows, and so on. Although book authoring can be an extensive job, I haven’t ruled out my writing another book (or more …)!
Before we start, I would like to say without Linda’s solid friendship, belief in my writing ability and encouragement, I, for one, would not be a published author. Her constant drive to enable numerous authors to realize their publishing dreams is not only commendable but a reflection of her generosity of spirit and expertise in making a manuscript become a published work. What inspired you to write your first book? Although other books have been published before An Elizabethan Affair was finished, I am going to speak of EA as my first novel length idea. It was inspired by my love for Shakespeare and deep longing for finding that perfect soul mate. I have always wanted to write a novel – it is on my list of life long goals and/or dreams written some time ago. As a writer, it was an obvious destination for my journey. How did you come up with the title? It is inspired by my secret obsession of falling in love with that which or whom you cannot have… It refers to affair as in not only of the clandestine variety, but of or concerning the Elizabethan era. It puts forth the truth, yet alludes to the impossible, drawing together fact and fiction. Is this your first book? How many books have you written (published or unpublished)? I have contributed submissions (poetry, short stories, and essays) to a number of anthologies, co-authored history books, and contributed to a memoir writing instruction workbook. I am currently ghost writing a 3 book memoir for a client, and a business humor series. I have 2 novels published (An Elizabethan Affair, Power Struggle), 2 novellas of a YA series published (A Journey of Brothers, A Journey of Truth), and have several others in various stages, including the 3rd novella in the YA adventure series (A Journey of Desires). Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? With regard to An Elizabethan Affair – I guess the main message would be to never give up on your dreams no matter how big, how out there, or seemingly impossible they may be. Of course, we know we can never go back and have a time travel affair, no matter how much you wished for it, but the allusion to living for your passion is there. Do what you love. How much of the book is realistic? I did a lot of research and a lot of reading on Shakespeare and Elizabethan times – and based on that, it is my hope that references and descriptions are as realistic as they can possibly be. There are advantages to writing of something so distant that those things we know to be true are usually easy to find – the rest can be left to speculation with imagination playing a huge part in drawing the work together. Are your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life? I based the book, obviously, on William Shakespeare’s life. The life of co-protagonist, modern day Elizabeth, is fictitious with real characteristics based on my own life – single mom, love of writing, love for the words of the masters of literature, and some of the references were based on my experience of living for a short time during 2005 in Toronto. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book? Nothing would change in this book. I used part of it to apply for a summer writing program in Toronto at Humber College. The author mentor I worked with suggested cutting all the description to clean up the manuscript. Like all good students, I took her suggestions to heart, but did not have the heart to cut it as suggested – it was the type of book I was going for and the way it is written suits the subject. Always be true to your own spirit in your work. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers? Thank you for reading and supporting writers/authors and the literary arts. It is this connection that encourages us to continue to share, although a writer will always write, whether publishing or not. What is your favourite theme/genre to write? There is no one favorite – I like to experience variety in my writing journey. Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it? Anything that exploits children. A recent challenge was to ghost write a book on the topic of abuse to the worst degree – a memoir – so you know it to be true. What book are you reading now? My own novella one to ensure there is continuity in the follow up editions. As an editor and publisher, I am always reading and am privy to new works to be released by my own company. Nothing else at this time from already published works. Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Through my company I have read some amazing work and am so appreciative of the chance to share an author’s journey in that way. Do you see writing as a career? Definitely, yes. Part of my journey. In different ways. Where do you see yourself in ten years? Behind the lap top writing. The setting might change (hopefully to mountainous or nature inspired views) – but the passion will not go away. Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? Focusing on my own work while fulfilling responsibilities to client’s projects. But, a weekend retreat is always welcome on the agenda for writing. Have you ever hated something you wrote? Not really. If it is not for publishing or public, then private it doesn’t matter. I don’t write anything to hurt anyone and there are topics I won’t write on so I cannot end up hating if for one reason or another. What book do you wish you had written? I don’t. I love my own style and writing and never wish to have done what someone else has done – I love the vision that comes from others’ works, such as Shakespeare, Tolkien, poet Frost, et al., and hope that one day something I have created is used in a similar fashion – to inspire others to follow their own journey. What is your best marketing tip?
Don’t sell yourself short.
Don’t oversell yourself.
(Sounds contradictory, but it covers the range from: “be humble, appreciative, proud, and own your work” to “don’t constantly stick in others’ faces with buy my book, buy my book, buy my book…”)
If you don’t know, ask.
What genre is your next project? What is it about? I have not decided what project will be next – I have a novel to edit written a few years ago. I have to format and release on of my novels on EBook, and another vice versa – in print. I have several ideas on file awaiting their turn, and other projects poking their heads into current business. Genre? Not sure. Can you tell us about your upcoming book? Novella II is just released, A Journey of Truth, which continues the story of Aaslan and his sister, Aisha, from A Journey of Brothers, released in 2012. Novella III, A Journey of Desires, completes the 3 part YA adventure series set in Turkey. (No, I’ve never been there… research!) How do we find your books, blog and bio? I publish through my own company Dream Write Publishing. You can find my books in print and online, POD and EBook. www.dreamwritepublishing.ca You can follow me on my blog “Freeing the Creative Spirit” for ongoing writing, projects, travel writing & photography, reflections on my writing life, poetry, etc. with links to my social media pages, and for more information about me. www.wildhorse33.wordpress.com