Still Here, Still Writing • Writing Thoughts

Whew.

It’s been a while.

I haven’t updated this blog in… what, two months? Maybe two and a half? I haven’t really been keeping track, but it’s always been in the back of my mind. What’s stopped me from posting? A couple of things; stress from working two jobs and a total lack of motivation and creativity, but mainly my failure and the embarrassment that tags along with it.

You see, in my last few posts I joyfully announced that I’d soon be finished my first draft of my first novel, in doing so fulfilling a lifelong dream of being an author. Not being a successful author, or an author who even sells a single copy, but an author who has finished writing a book, because that’s what writing a book makes you; it makes you an author. I wanted to be an author before my momentum and motivation came to a stuttering halt, and I’ll still want to be an author after the next inevitable bout of writers’ block too.

Ultimately, it’s down to me. I haven’t finished my novel yet. I let the pressure I put on myself by setting a deadline completely derail me. I lost faith in my plot, in my characters, in my ability as a writer, and the saddest thing is it’s all so damn predictable. I’ve written several posts about it on this very blog; I’ve posted articles on tips to beat writers’ block, how to stay motivated and persevering even if you and everyone else doubts that you can do it. But in the end, it’s you and the keyboard. And sometimes knowing how to beat something isn’t the problem, it’s making yourself do it in spite of your fear of failing.

I have fear, but fear doesn’t control my dream, it just can’t. Completing this is too important to me. I’ve had two months of excuses and feeling sorry for myself and doubting myself more than I ever have before, but now it’s time to roll up my sleeves and get writing again. And the next time this happens, because it probably will, I’ll do the same.

Bottom line: Writing is hard, but nothing worth having ever comes easy.

Getting My Mojo Back • Writing Thoughts

Any time I see or write the word ‘mojo’ in any context, an image of that crazy monkey Mojo Jojo from the Powerpuff Girls pops into my head. Wouldn’t it be great to take over a word and make it so indistinguishable from your character that anytime someone sees it they think of your creation? That’s the dream, right?

writing mojo

Well, it may be the dream but it’s something that feels very very far away from my abilities at the moment. I’ve been on a downer for the past week and I’m kind of ashamed to say I didn’t write any more of my novel. Not one single word. Nothing. And it’s not like I just forgot about it, it’s been on my mind all day every day.

I don’t have an excuse except that some of my old fear has crept back in. This fear that has masqueraded as writer’s block and crippled my progress for years cannot be allowed back in. If it settles in the most insecure parts of my mind it will rot away at my confidence until my motivation to write is just a distant memory.

writing mojo

I know why this is happening, too; I’m so depressingly consistent in my insecurity that I can pinpoint exactly why this fear has returned, but knowing why I’m scared doesn’t do much to eradicate the fear.

I’m so close to finishing my first draft, something I’ve never even come close to before, and the thought of completing my book only to be rejected is enough to make me want to stop completely so I never have to face it at all. If I can honestly say I never managed to finish my book so it never got a chance to be queried by an agent or publisher, it’s not quite as bad as total failure and rejection, right? The thought of my book going absolutely nowhere except a file on my hard drive and knowing that I’m not good enough to be published is enough for that fear to return.

writing mojo

I know it’s really just a defence mechanism. It’s something to protect me and my dream from being crushed. If I was the same writer that I was a couple of years ago, sure, I’d probably let my fear and insecurity take over and push the pause button on my book for yet another few months or years, but I’m not that writer anymore. I’m so scared of failure, but my dream is to be a writer and I can’t just let myself down because of fear.

J.K. Rowling was rejected many times before she was finally published, and her books are some of the most beloved stories of all time. She and countless other writers faced rejection again and again before seeing their stories on the shelves. I know logically that even if I’m not taken on by an agent or publisher that that doesn’t mean I’m a bad writer or that my story is bad, but I’m very sensitive when it comes to my work and I’m just worried that rejection after rejection is going to crush me. I know, I know, it’s useless to obsess over it before it even happens, but for whatever reason it’s all I’ve been thinking about this week.

writing mojo

I’m going to do myself a favour and kickstart my motivation today. I’m going to put on the kettle, settle down in a comfy chair and bang out at least 1000 words. Hopefully it’ll set me on the right track to get my draft finished or, at the very least, to banish some of that crippling fear.

Wish me luck!

 

So Close To The Finish Line • Writing Thoughts

NaNoWriMo finished over two months ago and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel (finally!), and in case you were wondering, yes, my novel is filled with cliché, overused phrases just like that one. However, the only reason I’ve even gotten this far is because I’ve put the editor in me firmly on the back burner and allowed myself to just write. 

Many authors agree that the magic of writing is in the re-writing, and I couldn’t agree more. I know there are lots of problems with my draft and there will be plenty of things I’ll have to change, polish or re-write entirely, but for now I’m happy just to finish. That is the goal for this next month, and hard as it is sometimes, I do see myself with a full draft by the end of the month. I’m very excited!

It’s now officially the 5th of February so I have approximately 3 weeks left. In saying this, I’m not going to hold a rope at my own throat. If I don’t finish in the next few weeks I’m not going to make myself feel like a failure. I have a planned deadline that I don’t want to go over (and I don’t think I will unless I come down with dreaded writer’s block), but as long as the draft is mostly done by the end of the month, I’ll be happy enough.

This is just an update as to where I’m at with my NaNo novel (honestly I didn’t think I’d get this far). Once I get the first draft polished, I plan on re-reading it and making more changes, then I’ll approach an agent and publishers. After that, I’m going to go back to my initial story (check out my M.A.D. section to find out more about my first attempt at writing a novel) and create a proper outline for it (I think I’ve finally abandoned the ‘pantser’ life). Then for Camp NaNoWriMo I’m going to try for 50k again!

Phew.

That’s the plan. Fingers crossed for me!

Naming My Novel • Writing Progress

If you’re following my Instagram, you’ll know that I’m writing my first novel. It’s a dream that’s been in the making since I was 11 years old, and until now I’ve always made excuses and let my doubts stunt my writing progress. Now, I’m proud to say that I’ve hit 10,000 words, something I never managed to do before.

I used to always abandon writing projects well before the 10k mark, so this is a huge milestone for me, even though others may think it’s a paltry figure. To me, this represents something that I didn’t believe for a long time: I can do this.

Now that I’m well on my way to that 50k minimum target, I want to refer to my project as something more than just a project, or ‘Untitled’ or ‘my book that I’m writing’. I want it to have a name, and I don’t mean the official title of the book, just something I can refer to when I’m among friends and family. Something that makes it real.

I’ve been trying to figure out what to call it, and I think I’ve come up with something I’m happy enough with: M.A.D. (or My Awesome Debut). I figure if I’m going to name it something before I pick an official title, it might as well be aspirational, and I have a major problem with being overly critical of my writing so I think this is appropriate.

So from now on if you see me referring to M.A.D., you’ll know I’m not mad myself and that it actually does mean something! I’m excited to hit that next milestone – 20k, here I come!

Are you writing anything right now? Have you named it? Let me know in the comments!

 

Book Themed Gifts • Wishlist

It’s nearly the end of the month and that means pay day! Instead of investing my money or saving it or putting it towards a deposit for an apartment, I usually make the (somewhat unwise) decision to spend it on treats for myself! Hey, nobody’s perfect.

To prevent myself from spending too much on stuff I really don’t need (but really do want!), I write out a list of my favourites and pick one or two to buy. Not a bad system, right?

Readers Gonna Read Enamel Pin 

This pin is so cute! Generally I wouldn’t wear badges but I think pins are lovely, plus they don’t have to be pinned on your person – they look just as nice on a bag or scarf or on your curtains. The phrase ‘readers gonna read’ is aces and it’s only 10 quid PLUS shipping. I must have it!

1lit

Custom Shakespeare Necklace – Recycled Book Jewelry 

It would be incredibly hard to pick my favourite line of Hamlet (I’m also not going to jump for ‘To be or not to be, that is the question!’) though ‘Neither a borrower nor a lender be’ comes pretty close to being my favourite.

As a huge fan of Hamlet as a character, I would love the rose gold pendant that says ‘Enter Romeo’ so I think that’s the winner here.

2lit

Lunar Chronicles Inspired Candle Collection 

You can never have too many candles! Unless you live in a wooden house… then you should probably cut back. These mini candles have really interesting scents and they’re based off the Lunar Chronicles series. I’ve only read Cinder so far but I’ll be starting the next in the series very soon.

cinder

Lord of the Rings Inspired ‘Straight Outta Mordor’ Shirt 

I know the whole ‘Straight Outta…’ thing is kind of past its sell-by date, but I’d buy this ‘Straight Outta Mordor’ shirt anyway. Haters be damned!

 

4lit straight outta mordor

Lord of the Rings Mug Color Changing Mug LOTR Cup 

I recently received a heat activated Kylo Ren cup for my birthday but someone in my house put it in the dishwasher and it was pretty much destroyed. I think this would be the perfect replacement! Plus isn’t it just gorgeous to look at?

5lit cup

Writing and Getting Somewhere • Confidence is Fleeting

As some of you may already know from reading my other posts, I’m an aspiring writer. I know, I know. It’s hardly an original dream, but you can’t just order the desires of your heart and mind to cease, so here I am.

For the past several years, I’ve experienced terrible writer’s block. I lost all confidence in my abilities and was kind of drowning in my pessimism for a long time; it didn’t matter that I wanted to be a writer, I had to actually have ideas that could be translated properly from thoughts to paper in a way that people would actually want to read. That seemed impossible for me for years.

Over the past few months, I’ve gotten my mojo back. I started reading again after a long hiatus and with that came waves of creativity. After years of day dreaming and wishing, I’ve finally started writing my novel, because dreams don’t work unless you do. I’m proud to say that I’ve hit the 6000 word mark, something I never managed to do before, and I’m aiming for at least 50,000 by the end of the year (#50000wordchallenge anyone?)

The problem is that writing isn’t a smooth process – in fact it’s rocky as hell and it takes a lot of dedication and work. However, sometimes that isn’t enough. One day your confidence could be sky high and the next you may think you’re the worst writer in the world and that you were borderline insane to think that you could ever actually get a book published. This is normal in the process, I’ve found.

What I’ve been faced with lately, however, is an aversion to reading books on my TBR list. It feels like I’m scared to read them because, and this is just a theory, I’ll be comparing my unwritten book to a perfectly crafted, thoroughly edited complete novel. And despite the fact I know that it’s silly to compare the two, I don’t think I’d be able to help myself.

The slightest thing makes me lose confidence in my abilities. It’s why I don’t send my writing to any of my friends or family anymore, because even if they offer mostly praise, if there’s a niggling problem somewhere I focus on it until it becomes the sole thing I’m thinking about. Then I blow it up to be this insurmountable monster that I can’t write my way out of and I abandon the whole project. It sounds ridiculous but this kind of thing has happened many times, and I know it’s something I just have to get over, but it’s a challenge.

A first draft is very fragile. I know that many writers say a first draft is always crap, so whatever I come up with will probably read very differently from the finished book, but I’m a notorious editor. I have a major problem of striving for perfection with my writing, and that just isn’t realistic when writing a first draft. There are many drafts to come where I can fix my mistakes, plot holes and dull descriptions.

I can’t help it that I have thin skin; I think I’m so overly sensitive to my writing because it’s a dream I hold so dear to my heart that any critique of what I’m doing makes me think I can’t reach that dream. Which makes me feel like a failure. Nobody likes feeling like a failure, and it makes sense to avoid that.

Despite my shortcomings and my pessimistic writing process, I do think this time is different. I’ve never gotten this far before and I’ve also never felt as strongly about a plot; perhaps the other stories were abandoned for a proper reason, and not just because I gave up on them. Perhaps this one will go the distance and by the end of the year I’ll have a fully fledged draft ready to edit.

Despite myself, I’m optimistic!