Thursday, April 30, 2015

Z – The Power of Zero

As a writer, there will be times when you feel like Zero. You’ll believe you have zero talent, zero hope of finishing your manuscript, and zero chance of breaking into the industry. Zero is a giant loop. While it might be normal to have these feelings, if you stay with the zero mentality, you’ll get stuck in the loop and go nowhere.

This is the dangerous power of zero.

The good news is this:

No one has zero talent. Learn your skills. Celebrate the areas where you excel and work on the areas where you struggle.

No one has zero hope of finishing their manuscript. Unless you quit. Simply take it one step at a time and stop putting so much pressure on yourself.

No one has zero chance of breaking into the industry. It does take time, so don’t give up. But we also have multiple avenues to publication now. If one route doesn’t turn out how you want or expect, there are plenty more choices available.

What do you do to fight the zero feelings?

Congratulations to everyone for completing the A-Z challenge!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Y: Yardstick

As the A to Z Challenge nears its finish, we'll all start thinking of what we've accomplished this past frantic month of blogging. Some people may have doubled their number of followers. Some will share the number of blogs they managed to visit each day or over the course of the Challenge. You may feel like you've done less or accomplished less than others.

Yardsticks are used for all kinds of things in the writing world. Certain writers' groups require that you've earned a set amount of money selling books before you can apply for membership. Others writers group have within them different levels of membership, published and unpublished, voting or associate members, and other divisions unique to their organization. The conferences and events for such groups may have different tracts for the various levels of membership.

It's human to compare ourselves or our achievements to others and it might motivate some people to strive harder. But for others it can be discouraging and frustrating. It is one of the reasons that's it's important to set personal goals. Those goals should be ones that are within your control and that you can measure. The only yardstick you should use is the one measuring your accomplishments against the goals you've set for yourself.

We all had reasons for being part of the A to Z Blogging Challenge. Did you network with others? Meet interesting people? Learn new things? Find you could follow a schedule of regular blogging? Whatever your goals were, don't measure them against others, only against what you wanted.

Do you design your own yardstick? (Or meter stick?) Do you have to remind yourself not compare yourself to others? Are you aware of a writers' group with different levels of membership or restrictions on who can join?

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

A to Z Challenge - X is for:

X is for X Factor 

Do you understand what separates you from every other non-writer?

Regardless of what scale you'd place your writing on, regardless of how many times you've tried to figure out why you write when so many normal people don't want to, or what you have that they don't ... it's simply the X Factor.

X Factor: noteworthy special talent or quality.

You, my dear writer, spend hours upon hours alone with a keyboard, creating characters, settings, and stories that have never been created in just that special way before. You share a piece of yourself with every scene you write.

But sometimes you forget just how special you are.

Repeat after me: I ... possess ... the ... X Factor.

Now, pat yourself on the back. Your imagination and effort has given readers more blissful moments than they could ever imagine.

Monday, April 27, 2015

A to Z Challenge - W is for Work In Progress

As a writer, I am a work-in-progress, always learning, constantly growing, forever evolving... challenging myself to take the next step... not to be afraid of failure.

I am not the writer I was yesterday, nor the one I will become tomorrow.
Some writers are on a slow track. I am one of those “slow-trackers” *raises hand*
Others seem to have outdistanced the rest of us.
The truth is, we all work at our own pace.
But we never stop growing, learning, moving along...

Eventually, everyone will cross the finish line.
What is the finish line, anyway?
We cannot even see the finish line.
Nor do we know what the finish line even is.
It differs for each individual. But that’s a conversation for another day...

I wonder if I will ever cross that finish line?
The thing is, I will NEVER stop learning. I’ll be a work-in-progress until the day I take my final breath...

Saturday, April 25, 2015

A to Z Challenge - V is for:

V is for Value.

I used to believe that once I was published my life would have more value. My presence on earth would make sense. I wouldn't simply be taking up space.

Yes, I was wrong.

People have value for who they are, not for what they do.

Yet, what is our first reaction when we receive a rejection or worse a bad review? Our value diminishes before our eyes. We think we're no good. We're lousy writers. We should never have thought we could write. Our value is worthless.

Now--that's wrong.

We live to write, but how well we write, how successful we are doesn't measure our value.

Next time you hear that negative speech inside your head, remember you're not here to write. You're writing because you're here. Your value arrived before the story. 

Friday, April 24, 2015

A to Z Challenge - Writing Inspiration - Understanding

The publishing world can be confusing and draining. Sometimes we are overwhelmed or emotionally battered. It helps when we recognize and understand a few things.

Understanding that critique partners and editors are only trying to make the manuscript better.

Understanding that rejection letters aren’t personal, they’re business.

Understanding that not everyone will be interested in our book.

Will we fare better if we understand those things? You bet! And then they won’t sideline us permanently.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

T – Time as a Friend

With another year whooshing past, deadlines nipping at our heels, and goals calling to be achieved, it’s easy to think of time as the enemy. But I say we can think of time as a friend instead. And by doing so, it will change our approach and the way we handle pressure. It will even change how much we're able to get done.

We need time to develop our writing skills,

Time to shape our books into the best they can be,

Time to consider a critique,

Time to be inspired.

Time does us many favors. Far more than I’ve listed here. When we rush in, all in a tither, focused only on the end-goal, we can miss so much. All we really need to do is value the time we’ve been given, manage it with respect, enjoy the writing process, and perhaps step back a little so we can live in the moment.

How has time been a friend to you?

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

S is for Success

I don't know for anyone else, but April passes in a blur each year. Seems no matter how much I prepare for the Challenge, plus life in general, things go haywire and I get behind on err'thang. The wonderful thing is that I make it through the month somehow. Yay!

Success is more than possible with the right approach (dedication, discipline & organization) and a positive attitude. So all your bases may not be covered, but you've made it this far which means there is only a week's worth of letters to go to finish the Challenge.

We'll get there and record this as another victory under our belts.

As April rolls on and May steps in, remember to take this idea with you:

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.

                                                        - Winston Churchill

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A to Z Challenge - R - Reading

Reading and writing, like everything else, improve with practice. And, of course, if there are no young readers and writers, there will shortly be no older ones. Literacy will be dead, and democracy - which many believe goes hand in hand with it - will be dead as well. – Margaret Atwood

Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body. – Joseph Addison

Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all. – Henry David Thoreau

You want to be a better writer? Be the best reader you can be!

Monday, April 20, 2015

A to Z Challenge - Q is for Quotes

Here are 5 inspirational writing quotes to start your day.

One must be drenched in words, literally soaked in them, to have the right ones form themselves into the proper patterns at the right moment.  Hart Crane 

Today’s tangents will become tomorrow’s arcs, and unforeseen connections will tie up your loose ends in a way that will make you want to slap your head and holler at your accidental brilliance.
Chris Baty
Always carry a notebook. And I mean always. The short-term memory only retains information for three minutes; unless it is committed to paper you can lose an idea forever.
Will Self 

Ink on paper is as beautiful to me as flowers on the mountains; God composes, why shouldn’t we?
Terri Guillemets 

You’ll have days of complete lack of faith in your abilities. But you have to keep coming back. That’s when you know you’re a writer – when you take the failures and appear at the desk again, over and over again.
Markus Zusak 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

P: Pamper Yourself

After 16 days of the A to Z Blogging Challenge, you might be looking forward to Sunday and a day without blogging. The Challenge is kind of like NaNoWriMo for bloggers. You just have to keep going. But that doesn't mean you should never come up for breath.

After finishing NaNo, writing the end on a novel or short story, finishing the Challenge, it's important to take some time to Pamper yourself. Put your feet up, have a cup of tea or hot coffee, pour a glass of wine, break out the cheese and crackers ... whatever lets you take a deep breath and just enjoy the moment.

Writers talk about how deadlines motivate them, but beneath those demands is the truth. No one is a writer or an artist of any kind if they're not intrinsically motivated. Writers drive themselves to get the words on paper.(screen) It's exhausting mental work on many different levels. And everyone needs to rest from it at some point.

Pampering yourself is different for all of us. For me, it's a cup of something, tea or coffee, and a book to read. Puttering around on my needy lawn and flowerbeds is also relaxing. Swimming when the water gets warm enough.

For some writers, it might just be switching what kind of writing you're doing. Perhaps you'll turn to short stories or poetry. Maybe you'll relax with other types of media, music, TV, taking in a movie or playing games.

Every one needs down time. Are the deadlines driving you self-imposed? Taking some time off will renew your enthusiasm and energy. Pamper yourself.

How do you pamper yourself? When do you take a break from writing. Who is imposing the deadlines you're working toward?

Friday, April 17, 2015

A to Z Challenge - Writing Inspiration - Optimism

Writing and publishing is a roller coaster ride and we’ll face highs and lows. What gets us through the lows is optimism. That hope reminds us of our goals and assures us we’ll make it through.

Optimism when it comes to a stuck plot.

Optimism when those rejection letters come in.

Optimism when that first bad review appears.

Can we survive all that? Yes! With the right optimistic attitude, we can.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Negativity Not!

The craft we pursue, by its very nature, can keep us on a merry-go-round. Our stories run a gamut of emotions and it's a wonder we don't have nervous breakdowns from the things we experience alongside our characters. For those of us who aren't seeing any major advancement on our writing journey, that can be a letdown and with it comes the temptation to get depressed.

As my mother used to remind me, Rome wasn't built in a day. We spend a lot of time doing our apprenticeship and also take the time to learn the important aspects of this craft we'll never master. In the same way, it will take time to find our genre, our niche market and a wider audience.

Whenever you are tempted to slide into negativity, thinking you'll never make it as a writer, remind yourself of how far you've come on your journey and tell yourself that your best days are ahead. Greet each day with a sense of adventure because you never know if today is the day you'll find a reader who swoons over your writing or whether you'll start the story that will eventually become a bestseller.

And just to make sure you don't get stuck on that road, remember:

Negativity only breeds more negativity. I wish to not allow it to enter my heart and not for it to take harbour. It may make itself a home and never leave.
                                                                                                            ― Aisha Mirza

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

M - How to Revive your Motivation

Dedication, perspiration, and focus are needed to take on a writing career. For this reason motivation can take a dive at those times when we’re feeling less inspired, less hopeful, or just too darned tired. So how do we get that motivation back? The best place I’ve found motivation is through the support of other people. It takes a team to write and publish a book, even for self-publishers.

The Team:
Your cheer squad. This group of people can be found at home or close by through family and friends. It’s made up of people who believe in you, even if they don’t fully understand what it is you do.

Your critique group. These supporters do understand what you do. It’s their job to not only look for places where you could improve your work, but also for the places where your work shines. A good critique partner is a great motivation generator.

Your writerly friends. These people will ride the highs and lows with you. They are the shoulders to cry on when you’re suffering, the champagne glasses to clink against when you’re celebrating. These are the people who most understand you and keep you sane.

The people you meet at workshops and conferences. Hearing success stories, learning the craft, and meeting new friends fire up the motivation batteries.

All these people will bolster your confidence as a writer and charge up your motivation to keep going. You’ll see you’re not so strange, the struggle is worth it, and your dreams can come true.

What kind of support do you have? Where do you get your motivation from when it wanes?

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

L: Let It Go

The IWSG blog is all about providing encouragement to writers and our theme for the A to Z Challenge is filled with it. Come back every day for a little pep talk.

Stress, discouragement, absent muse? Writers put pressure on themselves. To get the book done. To make this book better than the last one. To write faster. To write better first drafts. To actually make some money. To land an agent or sigh a contract. To win a contest.

In their minds, some writers feel competitive with others. Are they getting more sales? What is the Amazon ranking. How many five star reviews? And the envy... Does everyone else write in lyrical prose? Is my dialogue flat and unrealistic?

All those doubts add up and pile on our egos and beat us down. Someone should throw a penalty flag.

Other writers offer encouragement and praise. Family members and friends support us with their presence and sometimes financially. They show up at book signings and take care of dinner when we're too busy.

But despite that, the self-inflicted stress builds up and can drag us to a stop. The power to rise above the doubts is within yourself. Let it go.

You can't be talked out of those doubts so you have to chose to go on anyway. Let them go. Be free of them and you'll find your creativity rising like a great drift of snow in Boston. Whoops. Don't know if we're allowed to joke about that yet.

Everyone has doubts but the secret is to persevere beyond them and keep going, keep writing. Let it go!

Probably many people are sick of Frozen references but the lesson is valid for all of us. Accept who we are and gain strength from that. Let our doubts go.

Was it safe to make any references to winter? Sick of Frozen? Do you like the moral of the story? How do you let go of your doubts and move past them?

Monday, April 13, 2015

A to Z Challenge - K is for

K is for Kindness

I know you've heard it a thousand times before: be kind to yourself. You've heard that, and maybe even rolled your eyes. You're kind to yourself. What's not to be kind about.

But are you?


As a writer, you thrive on the isolation of writing. You spend the better part of your life alone, in solitude, writing about characters that don't exist. You pass on social interactions because the need to write is so strong.

Who says you don't take care of yourself? You write, and that's a form of self-love.

But what about when things aren't so great and your career feels as if it's standing still? Are you kind to yourself then?

Think about that for a moment....

Kindness isn't a bad thing. Kindness to oneself is a privilege and an honour. Self kindness will make you a better writer.


Next time you're not being so kind to yourself, ask yourself "Why?"

Saturday, April 11, 2015

J is for Joie de Vivre

The way we approach the jobs we have to do makes all the difference in how they get done. A positive attitude makes hard jobs seem easier and simpler to accomplish.

With a healthy dose of  joie de vivre—a cheerful enjoyment of life—we can accomplish the job we have to do while facing what might otherwise seem like torture.

Writers operate like hamsters on a wheel. We start books, agonize over getting to a certain word count, wade through the editing and publication process and then start all over again.  It sounds repetitive enough to make your tired, right? However ...

Our way of dealing with this lengthy process will either exhaust or help us stay the course. Taking on each task with an upbeat attitude makes the creative process one we will enjoy, knowing we're striving for excellent results at the end of each journey.

What approach will you take today? One of joy and gratitude? Or one of joy and gratitude? See what I did there? Go forth, determined to enjoy the tasks that lie ahead of you today!