Monday, June 17, 2024

Navigating the Writer's Landscape: Overcoming Insecurity One Step at a Time

 

By Colleen M. Story

This month, I’m releasing my seventh book. It’s a historical fantasy called The Curse of King Midas and I’m super excited about it. 

Ten years ago, I never would have imagined I’d be here.

Like most writers, I had to overcome a lot of obstacles on the way.

If you’re still getting your boots stuck in the swamp on your journey to writing success, I have one message for you: refuse to give up.

You’ve heard it before. But it’s more than a cliché. It is the secret to writing success.

The Writing Journey Is a Difficult One

When I first started writing, I told nobody. No one in my family was a writer. I hadn’t gotten a degree in writing. Who was I to write?

The desire to write stories came out of the blue, hitting me one night while I was in the store. I bought a word processor (shows you how long ago that was!), took it home, and started writing.

I wrote for years and no one knew. I was afraid to tell anyone. I feared I would fail, so I figured it was better to keep it to myself.

But the longer I wrote, the more it became a part of me. I wanted to write another story and another. Then I wanted to publish a book.

I had a lot of days where I came away from my writing sessions feeling high as a kite. But I had just as many days when I figured my dreams would never come true, and it was stupid to continue wasting my time.

5 Steps to Mastering Your Writer’s Mental Journey

Looking back, a few things saved me from being one of those many writers who gave up too soon. Perhaps they’ll help you keep going, too.

1. Investing in myself.

It was hard to do this early on. Every time I thought about going to a conference, signing up for a workshop, or having a professional editor or coach go over my story, I agonized over the decision. I worried it would be a waste of money. And I didn’t have a lot.

No matter where you are in your writing career, investing in your betterment is the best thing you can do to increase your odds that you’ll reach your goals. Save the money. Take the time. You won’t regret it.

2. Setting goals.

We all have to get in our million words (or whatever number it takes) to become the writers we’re meant to become. Nothing substitutes for plain old words on the page. That means establishing a regular writing practice and sticking to it.

Setting goals for myself—daily word counts and yearly story goals—kept me working toward my deadlines. Otherwise, it would have been far too easy to put it off until tomorrow and tomorrow, and never.

3. Celebrating milestones.

The first time I got an editor’s positive comment on a novel submission, it felt amazing. The publishing house didn’t accept the story, but the editor told me to keep going—that the story would be published. (And it eventually was.)

We have to cherish and celebrate every bit of encouragement we get. It’s not selfish. It’s not bragging. It’s motivation.

You’re likely to suffer a lot of hits along the way, so don’t hesitate to tape those encouraging statements—whatever they are—to the wall where you can see them. When you get that one-hundredth rejection, you’re going to need them.

4. Tapping into my emotions.

They say that writers have to develop a thick skin.

I say let your emotions drive you. If a rejection discourages you, go ahead and cry or rage or whatever you need to do. Quit writing if you have to. If you love it, you’ll come back. I did.

If a review fills you with joy, tell your friends. Dance around the house. Shoot off the champagne. Proclaim yourself the next bestselling phenomenon.

Our stories thrive on emotion. We can’t tamp them down and expect to write well. We can’t become automatons and continue to hone that sensitivity we need to step convincingly inside the shoes of our heroines as well as our villains.

Don’t repress your emotions. Use them.

Let me share a story. I had been writing novels for years. I hadn’t gotten any closer to that publishing contract I really wanted. One night, after another rejection, I got angry. Ticked off. So perturbed that I spent the night researching publishers and firing off submissions.

I’ll show them! I thought.

A few months later, I got my first publishing contract.

I learned two things: One, emotions are helpful as long as you use them in a constructive way. Two, you have to spend just as much time getting your work out there as you do creating it.

5. Embrace my inner artist.

For the longest time, I couldn't admit to being a writer. It took me longer still to embrace the identity.

It’s good to recognize that we humans have a lot of things in common. It can help us write from multiple points of view when we tap into those similarities.

But it’s also helpful to realize that as writers, we are different. When we embrace that difference and nurture it, we are more likely to move closer to our goals.

Think about it. We have all these imaginary friends that we care about. We live their lives with them. They become a part of who we are. Who else has that?

We need time to create, but we also need time to come back after a discouragement. We have to release the stories inside us, but then we must refill the creative well. We regularly dig deep to pull out of ourselves the very best we have to offer, but then we rise to the surface to joyfully share it with others.

We struggle and fight and fall down and get back up again and no one else knows what the journey is like.

Don’t expect them to get it. Your family, friends, or acquaintances won’t understand unless they’re writers too. Accept that. Then embrace your inner writer. Give yourself what you need to thrive. Inspire yourself. Encourage yourself. Educate yourself. Motivate yourself. Share with other writers—it helps. But in the end, you’re the only one who can do it.

Who are you?

If you’re a writer, never forget it, and refuse to give up.

Note: Get a free inside peek at The Curse of King Midas here, along with stories from Colleen’s writing life.

 


Bio:

Colleen M. Story is a northwestern writer of imaginative fiction as well as a musician, freelance writer, and writing coach. Her novels include her upcoming release, The Curse of King Midas, as well as The Beached Ones and Loreena’s Gift (a Foreword Indies award winner). She also writes nonfiction books for writers and creators. Find more at her author site (www.colleenmstory.com) and motivational site for writers (www.writingandwellness.com).

 

 

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Another First Wednesday Has Arrived




Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!


The awesome co-hosts for the June 5 posting of the IWSG are Liza at Middle Passages, Shannon Lawrence, Melissa Maygrove, and Olga Godim!



Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say. 


Remember, the question is optional!


June 5 question - In this constantly evolving industry, what kind of offering/service do you think the IWSG should consider offering to members?


This is a difficult question because there have been and still are so many things IWSG offers its members. With each offering or service, the admins step up to make sure it’s delivered, and that takes time—a commodity everyone I know is short of.


However, the IWSG team is a dedicated group of writers, so I’ve come up with three ideas. In your comments, I hope you’ll weigh in on what you think—

Yes. 

No.  

Are you nuts?


A Zoom meet-up. Authors would sign up to participate in the same way they do to co-host each First Wednesday. The frequency of these meet-ups would be determined by the IWSG admins. 


We could offer a chance for authors to 

  1. read a short sample of their work OR
  2. discuss a topic of general interest about writing/ publishing


A Book Giveaway. Again authors would sign up to participate. We’d feature a different genre each month and authors would offer a book in that genre. Their book cover, buy link, and one link to their social media would be posted on the IWSG website.


A First Line Contest The best first line of a story would be featured on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter (X) with a link to that author’s social media.


I'm off to find out what others have suggested in answer to this question.


 Our Twitter (X) handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG.

Monday, May 27, 2024

Opening Sentences and Paragraphs

We all know that strong opening lines which hook the reader, and make him want to read more, are crucial to your novel.

 New writers spend lots of time trying to create the perfect first line, one that is dramatic and meaningful. A weak opening line may just be the reason a potential fan (or agent) passes your story by. You have to nail that first sentence/paragraph!

 Look at it in this way. When you are contemplating a new book, it's like the first introduction to a stranger.

There is the initial meet and greet: a handshake, what's your name, where do you live, what do you do for a living...

At this stage, you form an impression of the person. You may/may not warm to him.  

If you really "click" with this individual, then the small talk may extend to a lengthy conversation.

 So how does your novel fare, in the "first meeting" department?

Consider your opening sentence. Is it equivalent to a "limp handshake" or a "firm-grip-that-grabs-attention"?

Does it have the impact of a gunshot? So that when the "smoke clears", the reader will still be engrossed in the story, with the shot reverberating in his ears? Or is it the pop of a tiny firecracker?

Is it in the category of "small talk" or "captivating conversation"?

Some writers feel that good lines matter, irrespective of where they occur in your story. As long as you have them. 

If the opening is unforgettable, then good and well. After all, it's not the end of the world if the opening doesn't shine. Do you agree?

Look at your favorite stories. Do they all begin with memorable lines? Probably not.

 What are your thoughts on opening lines/paragraphs?

Want to share your favorite opening line with us?