Wednesday Writing Tips: 5 tips to overcome self-doubt

Wednesday Writing Tips overcoming self doubtThere is no doubt, that no matter where you are on your writing journey, you have faced self-doubt. That you probably still feel it. Whether each time you sit down you feel it like a shadow creeping in on you, or after you find yourself published you wonder if it was a fluke.

Every writer has self-doubt. Because writers, as a group, want what we write to be amazing, to be perfect. It’s why sometimes we find ourselves in a circle of revisions, always feeling it could be better.

Writers demand a lot of their writing, because readers demand a lot from what they choose to read. This can cause a crippling effect for the writer. Always thinking of how their writing will be received, the comments they will get, the feedback, and most of the time our minds always wander to the worst case scenario.

If you feel this way, know that you are not alone. This is a completely normal feeling that most, if not all, writers have. I know I do. So here are 5 tips to help you overcome self-doubt about your writing.

  1. Write. 

No, seriously. If self-doubt creeps in, write. Write through it. Don’t think about what you’re writing, just write. Write a novel, a short story, a poem. Just write. When you work through your doubt, when you keep forging ahead, by the time you finish you will feel so overwhelmingly relieved that you finished, that self-doubt you had about writing will wash away.

  1. Ignore the negative people.

I know, I know that it’s hard. It hurts when we get particularly hard criticism. As writers we know we need to have a thick skin, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t feel. In fact, I have found through other writers, that we feel a little too much some times. These can cause self-doubt to creep in again.

When this happens, remind yourself, you’re writing for you. This is your story. You’re not writing to make friends; you’re writing because this is unequivocally what you want to do.

Take every review, every comment, every critique with a grain of salt. You can’t please 100% of the people 100% of the time. Some people, no matter if you are the second coming of Hemingway is going to hate what you wrote. Some people are just going to hate it. And that’s ok. If you can please yourself, if you can tell the story you want to tell, and you are happy with what’s on the page, that is what matters.

Keep this in mind, it does not matter how many and who hated what you wrote, what matters are those that loved it.

  1. Talk to other writers.

Yes, this can be a huge help. When you are facing self-doubt, instead of wallowing in it, talk to other writers. Every writer, everywhere, has dealt with it at one point or another. When you can talk with others that have been exactly where you are, they could offer insight, guidance, and advice on how to move past it.

Knowing that you are not alone, that this is a normal feeling, a rite of passage if you will, can help you greatly when that monster of self-doubt is lurking in the shadows.

  1. Get inspired.

Yes, when writing there is no muse sitting there whispering in your ear making everything you write gold. If you are waiting for inspiration to hit you before you start, you may be waiting a very long time. But you can inspire yourself.

Go outside, people watch, imagine what their lives are like.

Read, read widely. Every genre. Get inspired by other writers. Their words, their stories. By no means am I saying to use their stories for yours, but use them as inspiration. To fuel your imagination.

Daydream. Daydream about what it would be like to win the lottery, if a dragon came crashing down on your house right now, if the zombie apocalypse were to happen right this second.

Your imagination is a muscle like anything else. You need to work that muscle to keep it flowing. Use it, and let the inspiration flow through you, to fuel your writing.

  1. Accept the fact that sometimes, sometimes you will just fail.

Failure is a part of life. It’s our failures and how we handle them that we grow. It helps to mold you, it teaches you, and you learn from them. It’s also our failures where the self-doubt stems from.

I have found that I have learned more from my failures, than from my successes. While yes, of course I love the successes more than the failures, but the failures I am grateful for. It’s the failures that stay with me. It’s the failures that I will analyze. The failures that I will pour over to learn from. To find out what I did wrong and to determine what I could have done differently, so I don’t make that same mistake.

So don’t let any past failures hold you back. If you started 50 novels, but never finished, analyze why. Learn from it, and try again. If you finished that novel, but always failed to edit it, find out why. Learn from it, and grow. If you finished a story, and you just hate it, and so do your critique partners and beta readers, figure out why. Where you not in love with it when you were writing, did you not do enough research, are your characters flat and 1 dimensional? Find out, and fix it.

Failures are just another step on the journey. You have so much more to gain from your failures than from your successes. Take a step back, realize what you messed up on, and fix it.

So there you have it, 5 tips to overcoming self-doubt in your writing. Now obviously, there are so many more things that you can do. Do you have any to add to this list? I would love to hear them!

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Monday Motivation & Humor

Oh Good Monday Morning everyone!

I hope that everyone had a fantastic weekend and are up and ready for the week ahead, bright eyed and roaring to go.

I don’t have a lot to say this morning, so I will just right in with our funny and sometimes motivational reading and writing memes.

This Writers Life:You know you’re a writer when…

20121101091032-you-know-you-re-a-writer-whenYou know you’re a writer when… You are sitting in a waiting room because your teenager needs a sports physical before school starts and you’re people watching for facial expressions and mannerisms to use for your characters.

You know you’re a writer when… You’re back to school shopping and you’re mentally mapping out the store as a place in your fictional world you’re working on.

You know you’re a writer when… Your teen rolls her eyes at you and storms off and you take note of how her hair moves, the sound she makes as she moves away, the expressions of others around you, all so you can use it in a scene.

Around here we are gearing up for back to school. Which means running around, shopping, and exhaustion. It means going to about fifty different stores because you have four kids to buy for and you take them all separately. It means, people watching and using everything you see, hear, smell, touch as inspiration and research for your current work in progress.

That has been me this week. This will also be me next week, and the week after, until school starts.

What really drove this post though was the waiting in the doctors office. I caught myself looking around, mentally taking notes of everyone around us. How they were sitting, what their body language was saying about them, their facial expressions, and even how they spoke to each other and the ladies behind the front desk. All of it.

It was kind of surreal. I mean, I have never actually caught myself doing it, it was always something I just, did. But this time, I caught myself because I was focused on my daughter and she looked up at me, gave me a face and asked “WHAT?” That’s when I realized what I was doing.

I just kind of smirked and shook my head at her and looked away. Not really ready to explain what I was just doing. Knowing it would make her feel uncomfortable as she was the focus of the moment. Though, since I know she does read this blog, I’m going to say “Sorry!”

It’s in those moments, when you catch yourself doing something as habit, something you never have really thought about or taken notice of, when you realize “Hey, I’m a… (in my case) Writer. So this is not weird.” To the writer at least.

It’s those moments that make me smile. That make my heart soar. That make me feel giddy. Those moments where something that once felt like I would never remember to do this thing, is suddenly a habit that you don’t even realize you’re doing it. It comes naturally all of a sudden.

And, You know you’re a writer when… You finally, after years, say I am a writer.

Wednesday Writing Tips: 5 Reasons you should be Free Writing!

Wednesday Writing Tips free writing

As writers, and people in general, we have so much technology available to us. We have apps, programs, websites, all aimed at helping us along. We are constantly bombarded by: You should be doing it like this, Don’t do this, This thing over here is better. But all of that technology doesn’t replace something very important, pen and paper.

Here are 5 reasons you should start (or consider) free writing.

  1. It can help you work through a writer’s block. Seriously. When you sit down with nothing more than pen and paper, no internet to distract you, and just start writing you would be amazed at what will come out.
  1. You will find new ideas. You don’t have to use free writing just to work through blocks. You should be doing it as a habit. Not necessarily free writing your current work in progress, just whatever jumps into your head at that moment. You could write a scene, a short story, anything. While it may not be what you’re currently working on, you could find a new idea for your next project. After you finish your current one of course.
  1. It’s just plain fun. No really. Do you remember being a kid and just sitting down and writing a story, with no end in mind, no goals for that story other than to write it, no advanced planning. If you’re anything like me, you do. I did this as a kid, and now, I can’t remember why I ever stopped. Oh, right, computers. Free writing helps to bring you back to a time when writing was fun for you, to help stir the passion you hold for it, and remember why you started writing in the first place.
  1. You can find new characters through free writing. When you’re working on your current project, you’re focused, dialed in to that story those characters. But when you’re free writing, you can find many new characters, new personalities, interesting traits you may have not thought of before. No matter if you use them in your current project or not, they can be saved to use later.
  1. It’s exercise for your imagination. Don’t think about all the writing rules you’ve learned, don’t think about publication, don’t think about anything other than what you’re writing in that notebook and let your imagination soar. As writers we sometimes lock ourselves into the worlds we’ve created and can’t see past them. Free writing let’s your imagination roam. By unplugging yourself from the distraction that is the internet, you are freer to write whatever, and however you please. Free writing is for you, and you alone.

 

So there you have it. 5 reasons you should be free writing. Can you think of anymore reasons? Do you free write? Why or why not? I’d love to hear it!

Monday Motivation and Humor

This is starting to become one of my favorite days. Sharing the funny or motivational images on reading or writing I found throughout the week before. Really, I look forward to it.

I hope you all find it amusing as well.

Sometimes, if I’m stuck writing, or on my lunch break, I look up funny memes for reading and writing, as well as motivational ones. I started doing this just to release stress and laugh, because let’s face it, that’s essential.

But now I get to share what I laugh at with you all, and that makes it even better.

So here are the ones I found last week.

This Writers Life: Grateful for the little things.

what-are-you-grateful-forSo, last weekend I purchased a new laptop, and I love it. In fact, I am writing this blog post on said laptop from the comfort of my bed. Not that this will be a common occurrence, but that it’s a possibility, I’m grateful.

You see, I work from home. For my day job. The thing that pays the bills and keeps a roof over my head. I have my own in home office and have it all set up for that job. I wake up, go into that office, and work until late into the evening.

That job is not exactly great for creativity. When I am working in there I have found that it is hard for me to switch my brain over from day job, to creative it’s time to write mode. This was becoming a problem. To the point that I didn’t even want to write in there anymore. While in that office, all I thought about was day job work, stress, day job emails, etc. Not the best place to focus on my writing.

So buying this laptop, while a little thing, opens up so many possibilities for me. It will allow me to physically leave the office, and still work on my writing. It will allow me to have one central location for my research, drafts, images, etc. Without it being bunched in with work stuff. It will also allow for an automatic brain shift. You see, this laptop will only be used for writing, either for the blog or my current work in progress. So when I open it up and turn it on, my focus is solely on writing and nothing else.

This excites me. I have felt so hampered and distracted in the office as I always found myself drifting back to work stuff, even after I was done for the day. On Sunday I turned on the laptop and set everything up. Switched everything that related to writing from the office computer to this laptop. I immediately felt freer. I am now free to work on nothing but work stuff while in the office, without thinking about writing, and free to work on nothing but writing and writing related things without thinking about work stuff.

It’s a little thing, but it’s those little things I am grateful for. Just this small, seemingly inconsequential thing, has opened up so much for me. It’s amazing what a small item can do to shift the way you think about things and how you work.

So how about you? What are you grateful for today?

Wednesday Writing Tips: 6 Tips when Querying your Novel!

Wednesday Writing Tips query

So last week I came across a question from another new writer in one of the writing groups I’m a member of. It was the basic same question all authors have, is it time to query, and how do I do it? So, I chimed in with my advice. I’m sharing that same advice here, since not everyone on the web is a part of that group.

Starting the query process can be daunting, stressful, and just down right scary sometimes. It’s why us writers agonize and research how to do it correctly.

  • How do you know when to start querying?
  • When you are ready to start querying, how do you go about starting?
  • What should I keep in mind while I query, and what should I avoid?

These are all common questions when you start querying for the first time. So much so, that if you google the questions, you will come up with thousands of results. Since it is a widely asked topic, there can never be too much advice, but you do need to learn what to take in, what to consider, and what to leave on the webpage.

Here are my tips when you find that you are ready to query. I am going to paste my exact response to the other writer, while adding a few things I thought of after I had posted it. (Of course, I removed the authors name for privacy.)

Note on the response below: The new author had asked very specific questions, however, they had not finished editing their current novel and they were still in the revision phase. They were wondering if they could start querying since they have finished editing the first chapter. Read on to see how these questions were addressed.

 

Hi [New Author],

You have some great questions. Here is my opinion. Are you 100% certain you are done editing and revising the first 50 pages? Sometimes Agents also request partials if they are interested, and sometimes they request the first 5 chapters for query. Are you positive that you have finished editing and revising the sample no matter what the agents query guidelines are? If you are not, you wouldn’t want to send something you may edit further. Make sure it is 100% done before you query. Now, on to your questions:

1. What is the typical response time after you query?
The typical response time can be anywhere from 2 weeks to 6 months, if you get a response at all. I know this is a broad range, but keep in mind, Agents receive hundreds to thousands of queries a day.

2. Who should I approach to query?
As far as who to approach, you can look here:http://agentquery.com/Do an agent search for your genre, read through their guidelines, what they represent, and what they are looking for. This will help you decide who you think is the best fit for your work. Added: You can also follow #MSWL on twitter as they list what agents are currently looking for as well. Or you can find them online at http://www.manuscriptwishlist.com/ and do an agent search.

3. Can I resubmit to an agency if I don’t hear back?
For resubmitting to the same agency, make sure you read their guidelines first. Some allow it after so much time has passed, some do not. Some may even ask you to if you make substantial changes. Again, read their guidelines if you find you want to resubmit to an agency. But never, never, submit to multiple agents at the same agency. A lot of them do not allow this and will immediately reject your query if they find it has happened. Now, if so much time has passed, some may allow you to query a different agent within the agency if you do not hear back from the one you originally submitted to, some absolutely do not. Again, refer to their guidelines.

4. If I receive a rejection to my query, is that agency closed to me for good?
If you query now, and it is rejected, it does not necessarily mean that door is closed forever. Just for right now. Move on down the list. If, after you have queried every agent that represents your type of work (allowing for response time, and maybe 5-10 with each rounds of submission) you either get no responses or all rejections, look back at your work. You will have to decide to revise it, change it, or let it sit for a while and start a new project. If you revise and change it, then you can resubmit based on the agencies guidelines. But make sure you put in your query that you have queried before and this new query is based on substantial changes you’ve made to the story.

5. Can I query more than one story at a time?
You can query more than one story at a time, but that would be nerve wracking to me. But know, do not send more than one query at a time to the same agent or agency, no matter if it is a different story.

6. How do I craft a query letter?
For the query letter itself, check out here:http://queryshark.blogspot.com/Query Shark is an active agent who shreds queries for the good of the authors. She teaches what to and what not to do. Read them all. I’m not kidding, read them all. You will learn a lot on how to craft a query letter and what most agents are looking for in a query.

Hope this is helpful – A.G.

 

So there you have it. My tips for querying your story. Do you have any to add? Tips you came across when you were researching querying? I would love to hear them.