Saturday, 16 March 2019

Writing with Imposter Syndrome

Imposter syndrome - You may have read about this recently in the press as it has been featured quite a bit in various articles lately. It's a real phenomena and from what I've read it mostly affects women. Wiki defines this syndrome as a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a "fraud."

It may sound a bit random to you,  perhaps a little new-age. I would have probably dismissed it ten years ago, but actually it does make sense! 

For example I never really think of myself as an author - despite my author website and self-promotion and author branding (this blog is proof of that) I don't actually think of myself as a legitimate author and why is that? I'm not hugely successful as a writer if you compare me to the best-sellers but I am commercially successful. And thinking about it, do you have to be commercially successful to legitimise your profession - especially when you work in the arts? Surely not. Yet sometimes, nearly always, we need commercial success to validate our passion and career - it's why some people exaggerate their salary - because they feel their earnings are a reflection of their worth.

My author career, in a nutshell, is as follows: 

  • 6 published novels ( two of which were taken on by Independent publishers the rest self-published) - which are making a profit. 
  • Several articles about my books published in local publications
  • Two author interviews for websites/newsletters
  • Presenting a talk at a local library and being asked to talk ( and doing so) at a local Literature and arts festival 
  • Membership to the Society of Authors and the Crime Writers Association, both of which have their entry criteria. The latter only accepting authors that have been  traditionally published (with your publisher having to be on their list). 
  • A writing blog

If someone I knew told me the above about themselves I think I would be in awe. It's my author career and yet I continue to refer to it as just a hobby, when I know I would like it to be more (Perhaps if I didn't keep referring to my writing as just a hobby I would be able to step up a gear - am I limiting myself by continually saying 'it's just a hobby' - that's another blog post in itself!) So why do I feel a little like an imposter? Why do I continue to think I am not a legitimate author?

Starting my journey with self publishing may have had something to do with it. Self-publishing doesn't make you a pariah as  it did before but self-publishing is still stigmatised - probably more so by writers than readers who don't give a second glance to the publisher of the book they are reading. 

Or it could be because I have a fixed idea in my mind as to what a successful author looks like - before I was offered a publishing contract, it was someone who had been offered a contract - no matter how fruitful. When I listened to a local author speaking at our local lit festival I said to myself that if I ever got approached with something similar then I would know that I'm a legitimate author. Well that day came and went and still I question myself. 

So I know my goals are continually moving - like goals should, but what do I now want to achieve to legitimise this 'hobby' of mine? A new book deal with an established publisher, paperbacks regularly stocked in physical bookstores, shelf space at airport bookshops... maybe even some window space at my local Waterstones.

I, like most authors, need to stop and reflect how far we've come with our writing. But on the other hand perhaps a bit of imposter syndrome is good - I have new goals, goals which will motivate me to work harder, do better and keep at it... A writer doesn't quit... and maybe that's it - maybe it's just my determination that makes me a legitimate author. 

Friday, 15 March 2019

Writing is an exploration...

Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go. - E L Doctorow

I mentioned in my previous post that in the near future I would be looking to go down the traditional publishing route again. If you are not familiar with my writing history I have had two books published by Indie publishers and the rest I have self published. I can't give the two Indie Publishers great reviews but the first did open some doors to me because, let's face it self-publishing is still stigmatised; not as much as it was when I started self-publishing as books like The Martian and Still Alice have proved there is not much wrong with it!

I then gave up with going down the trad route because my self-pubbed titles were doing quite well (better than the Indie published books), but now I'm thinking of looking into this route again. Why? because self publishing is hard work and so is the marketing element. Having some support with this would be a good thing, I previously said I wouldn't look at Indie Publishers again. However, I think I would moving forward - not all, just a select few with a proven track record. I'm not being pricey (well I am a little) but  I feel I have earned it . Some get great write-ups and do quite a bit for their authors which is what I want and what I'm going to go for. I'm also going to look at publishers like Bookouture - digital publishers from the big publishing houses that publish some great authors and I will consider the tradition publishers as well - but they mostly require agents and I'm not sure if I want to go down that road again.

However, this is all in the future. The Chupplejeep series will still be self-published, but my new Shilpa Solanki series is the one I will be approaching agents with. The issue is that I need to write the book first! My son has just decided he no longer wants an afternoon nap so when I am going to write this book I have no idea... but I will find the time somewhere. Maybe after the house move!

In the interim I came across a self-publishing advice page that rates Indie Publishers.  You can see their list here:

Saturday, 9 February 2019

An essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail - Edwin Land

An essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail - Edwin Land

There has been quite a bit in the press and of course social media about wellbeing. Last year's mindfulness is this years self-love. Everyone is jumping on the wellbeing bandwagon. I am all for wellbeing and it's great to see the Society of Authors and the Crime Writers Association talking about this hot topic. It needs to be talked about to make people more aware of it. Mental health issues are so important especially when social media is making most of us introverts. On-line chat instead of having to call someone (for anything from ordering a takeaway to finding out about a computer from a store) means we have less social interaction. So many companies are now encouraging staff to work from home (which is great in my opinion) but again reducing the interaction we as humans need.

If you write full time you'll know that writing is a lonely profession. Of course there are writing groups and author events where you can socialise, chatting with your editor or publishing personnel, but there is little workplace banter because your workplace is most likely to be in your home. I work part-time and love the interaction I have with my colleagues. I still get my work done so it's a win-win situation. Writing is different though. I need silence to write.  I can't have interaction and office banter to do this and (pre-child) I realised that sometimes when I had a day or an evening to myself hours would pass without me uttering a word. So it's important that we talk about wellbeing.

It's not just the loneliness we writers need to be wary of. It's the juggling we have to do as well (our own doing, but nevertheless). Most writers have a full time or part time job and they may be a parent (I've recently found out just how difficult it is to manage a part time job, write a book and bring up a toddler).  So what do we writers do to look after our wellbeing?

I could write at length about crystal therapy, colour therapy, yoga, pranayama and meditation -– all things that I've tried and can honestly say they work, but this is a writing blog so I'll stick to that. Something I have started doing recently is free writing. I've blogged before about free writing as therapy, but since having my son my sleep patterns have been disturbed and sometimes I wake at 2:00am for no rhyme or reason and just can't get back to sleep. I start thinking of all sorts of problems, or not-problems which I turn into problems. To stop doing this I have started a journal before bed for free writing - If you don't know what free writing is, it's just putting pen to paper and writing anything that comes to mind without lifting you pen of the page. This can often help with writers block, but also for me it helps clear the mind. Sometimes my garbled writing turns into some focused thoughts, sometimes maybe even a plot idea, but generally it's garbled. I find it clears the mind and helps me sleep better.

I also make a list of all the things I need to do the following day and sometimes write out an energy log (three things that sapped my energy and three things that gave me energy that day- its a good way to see what you need to cut out and create more of in your life!) and I end it all with a thought for the day. I find this final thought always centres around being grateful. What I've learned in the last decade is that you need two things for happiness - A sense of purpose and gratitude. If I teach my son one thing, it will be that.

Whatever it is you do to look after your wellbeing make sure you do it regularly... we writers need to keep our energy levels up so we can do everything we need to do and then write, write, write!

This week I have just finished reading Lisa Jewell's Watching you. A great author and a great read. I gave it five stars!

Monday, 7 January 2019

Writers aren’t people exactly. Or, if they’re any good, they’re a whole lot of people trying so hard to be one person.

“Writers aren’t people exactly. Or, if they’re any good, they’re a whole lot of people trying so hard to be one person.” - F Scott Fitzgerald

So about a year or so ago I gave up on this blog. After becoming a mum I didn't think that this blog was 'me' anymore. I wanted a place where I could not only express my writing but life as a new mum as well and so I started a new blog to do just that . It was called Writing and Weetabix - reasons for the name explained on the blog itself, but Weetabix was basically my life back then - mainly cleaning it off the high chair. The blog started well but quickly fizzled out and now my son is nearly two I feel like the 'old writer me' is back. Well it's a good job I didn't delete this blog entirely (probably because I didn't know how). 

So what have I been doing in this two year interlude? Well you can have a look at some of my posts on Writing and Weetabix, but in a nutshell I've been bringing up a small person, working on the third Chupplejeep book (Jackpot Jetty) - which I have just published (Hurrah! you can buy it here - yes that was a sneaky book plug but you can't blame me) and I have an idea for a new series. Another cosy crime series set in Devon with a young Indian Miss Marple type sleuth. That's all I can say for now but I am super excited about it. 

Along with the above we have taken on a massive renovation project and will shortly be moving I decided to take a break from writing. It's great in one sense as with returning to work  part time (three days) means I can concentrate on making sweet potato chips and healthy meals for N (said son) and look longingly at my mood boards deciding which fabrics match (I have zero idea about home furnishing and actually quite dislike it). As fun as this is, I am clearly itching to write... hence the return to my trusty old blog. 

The fourth book in the Chupplejeep series isn't going to write itself ( Murder in the Monsoon is the working title and I already have the plot written!) and the first in my new Shilpa Solanki Series (Sweet Murder is the working title) is not going to write itself either. The good news is that in the new house we will have a study! I can't wait after having to give up my study to make way for N's arrival. 

I'm hoping to take this year to do a bit more marketing and promoting of my books. I haven't done any in ages and feel like I have really lost touch with it all (so easy to lose touch when technology and social media is moving at a million miles per hour). I want to read and re-read some books on improving my writing and perhaps do a course on polishing and editing (my punctuation still sucks!). 

So that's the plan for this year and I will let you know how I get on with my new endeavours. I'm also hoping to look at the traditional route of publishing again with my new series. The publishing world has also moved (with the big players having imprints to focus on ebook and audible like Hatchette's Bookouture) on since the last time I looked at this route. 

So that's it. I'm back. I can't guarantee regular posts, not with all that is going on but I am here!  

Ooooh and I have been doing lots of reading. You can find me on Goodreads to see just what books I have been reading. At the moment I am reading The Maid's Room by Fiona Mitchell and loving it!