Tag Archives: Positive mental attitude

Me vs Me!

There are very few similarities between the way I write fiction and the way I write my blog posts.

Fiction work takes me hours, revision after revision, carefully fiddling to find the right adjective, the  right sentence structure … Blog posting is a far speedier process.  I try to approach my blog like I’m talking to a friend.  A chatty discussion as opposed to carefully sketching out a picture.

But there’s something which ties all of my written work together, and that’s finding connections.

I can remember studying English Lit at school and excitedly tracing themes and images through books, to then translate the connections I found into essays.  Years on, and while I don’t have any essays to write any more, I still enjoy joining the literary dots.  Whether I’m writing a blog post or a chapter of a novel, I often find myself making connections between ideas and events, to come up with the final product, and in this way my blog posts tend to write themselves, a collection of themes and ideas that weave together to form an idea loosely linked to writing.

Take today for example.  My day started reading one of many lovely comments on a recent blog post of mine.  In the comment, another writer remarked that writing isn’t a competition. Authors aren’t competing against one another.  We’re colleagues, not competitors, and so we need to work together and share our collective knowledge of an otherwise opaque industry.

Then this afternoon a friend on Facebook had a chain letter-style  status declaring exactly where she was in life several years ago, and asking those who read it to work out where they were that year.

Finally this evening, as I pounded the streets of my home town on yet another Marathon training run, I realised in a lot of ways, I’m right back to where I was in 2002.

That year was my gap year.  I had my first full time job, was newly single, living at home and  running every spare hour of the day.  It was one of the most fun years I had.  Heaps of cash, peak fitness, and an amusing string of hopeless and hilarious dates, many of which have become dinner party annecdotes.

The thing is, nine years on, on paper I’m in the exact same place.  Whilst friends of a similar age are buying their first house, getting married and having babies, as far as a stalk of my Facebook goes, I’m still very much a teenager.  I live at home, just broke up with a not-very-serious boyfriend, and am in a non-career job.

When I look at my life that way, it’s hard not to feel like I’ve failed somehow, or I’m behind the rest of the pack … and yet that isn’t how I feel at all!  I love my life … and to be honest, I loved my life at 19!  But what I’m trying to say ISN”T that it’s great to be single and have no commitments when you’re 27 … (though it can be!) … it’s to say that life isn’t just about what’s on paper.  Life isn’t a snapshot, or a comparison, and to be honest, if you live your life comparing it to other peoples, you’re going to miss out on a lot of fun.

My life isn’t as simple as being single, living at home, running, and working … the parallels I drew between 27 year-old me and 19 year-old me!  In the last eight years I’ve achieved so many things … gone to so many places I could never have dreamed of.  Anyone who regularly reads the blogs will know my life is anything but ordinary, and has had it’s ups and downs, but all in all, if I did the past eight years again, I’d do it all the same.  And I’d end up right back in the same place …. A place I was at 19 too!

The thing is, by comparing myself to other people, I’m only going to make myself miserable … I don’t have a house, or a nice car, or a husband, or kids …. yet.  But that doesn’t mean I’ll never have those things, I just haven’t got there yet.

And yet, if I compare myself to 19 year old me … the me that lived in this village, and pounded the same pavements I pound every night as I train for the Budapest Marathon … well in that case I come out trumps.  19 year old me hadn’t travelled the world, written two novels, done two degrees, or done any of the other weird and wonderful things I’ve done since I was her …

The moral of my story isn’t just about life …

It can also apply to your writing!

As an aspiring author, I’m faced day after day with other peoples’ work.  Other peoples’ successes.  The minute I decided I wanted to become a published author, one of my favourite pastimes – reading – became a reminder that I hadn’t made it yet.

But you can’t think like that while you’re trying to get published.  As all the amazing comments on my blog post ‘Just the Advice I Needed’ reminded me, writing ISN”T a competition, and authors aren’t in competition with one another.  Someone else’s success ISN”T your failure, and you have to remember what a long process getting recognised and published can be!  Instead of measuring yourself up against other writers, measure yourself against a younger you … What have you achieved in YOUR writing over the past few years?  Maybe you finished a chapter, maybe you finished a book? Maybe you came up with a concept?  Maybe you found an agent?  Maybe you touched on my current Holy Grail and secured a publishing deal?  Or maybe you’re JK and just nailed another billion 😉

Set your own goal posts!  And don’t look away from them, coz everyone else is playing on a different pitch! (Mixing my sporting metaphors now, I know 🙂 )

But seriously, the only person you need to compete against is yourself … do the best you can!  And if you concern yourselves with other authors, use them for advice and inspiration, not to make yourself feel worse about your current situation!

 

C-C xxx

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Filed under Blogging, C-C Lester, Unsigned Author Commentary, Writing

The 7 Sins of Fiction Writing

Inspired by  The Seven Deadly Sins of Blogging – an intuitive article by Sonia Simone, Senior Editor of the Copyblogger – I’ve decided to come up with the 7 Sins of Fiction Writing

1. Impatience

Ok, so let’s start with the sin, which I for one am most guilty of.  Impatience.  Finishing a book, getting represented, getting published and getting recognised are all lengthy sections of an overall extremely slow process.  I know it’s hard, when you’ve invested so much, both emotionally and temporally, into a manuscript, to not feel like the relevant cogs are turning to move that story forward, but sit tight.  Believe in yourself, believe in your writing, believe in your agent.  Whatever stage in the process you’re at … wait it out!

Also check out my articles Getting Represented and The Secrets to Finishing a Novel

2. Self- Focus

Fiction writing requires fiction.  There’s no point writing a personal memoir, and simply changing the names of your characters.  If you want to write a memoir, then go ahead and write one.  Fiction is about exploring your imagination, and personally I find, the more I push the boundaries of that imagination, the better the results.  Like I’ve mentioned before, everything needs some grounding in experience so that you can write knowledgeably on a subject, however the best fiction comes from using that knowledge to expand your imagination.

Check out my articles Writing from the Heart and The Life/Writing Balance

3.  Sloth

Writer’s Block is too easy an excuse.  Don’t be lazy – if you really want to be taken seriously as a writer, then take yourself seriously.  Writing needs to become a second (unpaid) job, so devote the hours to it, and you’ll reap the rewards.  And hours ‘on the clock’ aren’t just writing hours.  They might include blogging, or reading similar works, and editing or doing more administrative tasks related to your writing, like numbering pages.  Commit 100% to your craft.

See The Ten Rules of Fiction Writing and Some Cures for Writer’s Block.

4. Negativity

Now this is mainly the ‘sin’ of unsigned writers, however it still resonates with long-successful authors, as evidenced by the quote by Margaret Atwood that I referenced in The Ten Rules of Fiction Writing.  ‘Essentially you’re on your own.  Nobody is making you do this: you chose it, so don’t whine.’

Linford Christie’s career may not have ended how he hoped, but the Olympic Gold medallist had it right when he said success comes from a Positive Mental Attitude.  Negativity doesn’t get you anywhere in any field, especially an art as lonely and subjective as writing.

Check out my posts Inspired …. and The Year Ahead to see my attempts to stay positive.

5. Lack of Imagination

This ties in with Sin number 2 – Self Focus – but also applies to general themes and settings.  I’ve discussed how reading widely in your target genre can help widen your imagination, and get you into the right frame of mind to write … however that doesn’t mean you ought to plagiarise!  There’s a big wide world out there, with countless stories to be told … why try to retell someone else’s story?  Take a look down the young adult fantasy aisle in the bookshop … does the world really need another vampire love story?!

See The Travel(ling) Writer

6. Lack of Conviction

This sin can be seen to follow on from negativity, and sloth, but it’s more than just believing in your ability, and capitalising on it … It’s also a question of believing in your subject matter.  Write about something you know and love … (but don’t fall to Self-Focus!).  300 pages later, you’re gonna need that desire and passion to carry you through the harder scenes, and make sure that novel is finished.  And even once it’s finished … how can you expect an agent to believe in your work, if you don’t believe in it too.  Fight for the right for someone to read your work!

Check out So Am I an Author Yet?!

7. Narcissism

And here’s the knife-edge … the careful balance between believing in your work, and being so blinded by your own efforts that you can’t tell the wheat from the chaff.  Not everything you write is going to be amazing.  Fact!  So make sure you retain the objectivity to re-read your own work, and edit it accordingly.  As we’ve been discussing before, the joy of the digital age means that removing something doesn’t mean it has to be lost forever to the cutting room floor.  The more objectively you can edit your own work, the less work you leave for an agent and publisher, and the more likely you are to secure those two people.

See also – Getting Represented

C-C xx

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Filed under C-C Lester, Unsigned Author Commentary, Writing