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We all have fears and insecurities as writers. If we don’t, we may be in denial. I created a list of my five top writing fears. Yours may differ in the order or the content, but you may also find some that match.

“A writer is a person for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.”

—Thomas Mann

5. Fear of Success: Yes, really. What if I succeed? What will I do with that? I’ll need to speak and promote. I can’t do that (smacks of inverted fear of failure, doesn’t it?). 

The Fix: Don’t worry about overnight, brilliant success. It’s rare. Keep at it, take opportunities to learn about promotion and how to handle it. I will forever be a proponent of Toastmasters. I joined when my first book was due to release, because I was terrified to speak. It worked. I’m not incredible, but the fear is very much decreased.

4. Fear of Losing your Muse: What if I have no more stories left, or life pushes me away from writing or I end up wanting to retire from the writing life.

The Fix: Don’t live for someone else’s approval. All we need worry about is God’s approval. What if He calls us away from the keyboard? What’s the worst that can happen? People will eventually get it. If they are true friends, they will understand, and if they’re not, why do we care? We must follow God’s path for our lives.

3. Fear of Not Meeting Expectations: We’ve written a book, maybe two, and other people have started to see writing as our forte. But, we doubt ourselves and feel we will let them down sooner that later. We might choose the wrong genre or the wrong story structure.

The Fix: Stop comparing yourself to/with others. Be who you are called to be and concentrate on that. It’s enough. You have only one life to live; live it the way you need to. You will not be held accountable for fulfilling the expectations of others, only following your chosen path.

2. Fear of being an Imposter: The Imposter Syndrome is prevalent among writers. We manage to put out a book and now people think we are real writers. What do we know? It was a fluke, right? Anyone could have done it. We may never be able to write another book, and we’re just pretending to be writers. 

The Fix: Most of us experience this fear when we’re called upon to live up to our CV. Take it in stride. We will always have less experience than some people, but likewise, we will always have more experience than some. So gather up what you know and share it.

 

 

 

1. Fear of Failure: I’ll never be able to complete this project. I don’t have what it takes. I don’t have the organizational skills, the time management strengths, the understanding of grammar, etc. 

The Fix: Keep at it. No one can call you a failure as long as you’re trying. Organizational skills and time management can be learned and adapted to your specific needs. And grammar, well, there are many writers and editors out there who excel at fixing that. Trade skills or pay them for their work.

AFTER I composed this list of fears, based on the ones I’ve experienced personally, I went to the internet and googled. It appears I’m not alone. Nor are you.

Here’s some of what I found:

* https://writeitsideways.com/15-common-writing-fears-you-need-to-face/ (paste URL to search)

* http://menwithpens.ca/7-deadly-fears-of-writing/

* http://livewritebreathe.com/writing-fears/

* http://thewritepractice.com/common-writing-fears/

* http://copywritematters.com/writing-fears-revealed/

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I recently read an article in “The Writer” magazine (July 2017) about creating characters “that are not secretly you.” It was one of those revelations that came to me a little late, but resonated nonetheless. Here’s my take on it.

When we are young—I’m talking babies and toddlers and young children—oh yes, and teenagers—the world revolves around us. Or, at least, we think it does. We are naturally selfish and needy, and expect others to put us first and fulfill our needs.

Most of us outgrow this eventually. Or do we?

What was the main character like in your first novel or short story? Did he or she at all resemble you? Good chance your answer is yes. We often create characters that think like us, respond like us, even look like us. Through them, we are able to work through our thoughts, feelings, struggles, dreams and hopes. Non-writers may not realize how much of our hearts and souls feed into our characters.

But, as Susan Perabo suggests in her article in “The Writer,” it’s time we got over ourselves and started creating other kinds of people, freshly imagined folks who are nothing at all like us.

This is what happened when I started writing the first draft of my current WIP: I had invented a young woman passionate to know who she was, but after a couple of scenes, I was looking into a mirror of sorts. Diana was a “fraidy cat.” She didn’t like challenge or risk or danger. She was naïve and passive and, frankly, boring. I’m not putting myself down; I’m being honest. But I didn’t want Diana to be that way. Too easy. Too much like some of the characters I’ve written in the past.

So, what to do? I rewrote the first scenes (I know, I know. You should never edit until you finish the first draft. It’s not the first rule of writing I’ve broken.) and for my every inclination to make Diana respond like me, I stopped, listened, and allowed her to be herself. And do you know what I discovered? She is nothing like me. She’s rebellious. She adores the limelight. She is sometimes disrespectful. I’m not sure I even like her very much. But she’s interesting. I want to know why she does these things, what she really wants, how she is going to become her own worst enemy as the story unfolds.

Two specific takeaways for me from the article:

1) Often we don’t realize what we’re doing until someone points it out (thanks, Susan Perabo)

2) It’s helpful and wise to consider the truth of the matter and make the necessary changes

So, let’s get over ourselves and bring into being brand new, fascinating fictional characters that inspire and spark our stories.

©2012 DEBBIE RIDPATH OHI. URL: INKYGIRL.COM

 

NOTE: This post was first published on the International Christian Fiction Writers blog on August 7, 2017.

 

 

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Writing involves not only good technique but also personal investment. It involves practice and learning.

An acquaintance said recently that practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect. In other words, if we continue to repeat our mistakes, we are not getting any closer to perfection.

Michael J. Fox said he doesn’t aim for perfection but for excellence.

Sometimes it’s a matter of semantics. The key is to do our best at whatever we are doing, and that will always require effort, practice, and time.

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Here are seven key points that will, in my opinion, help us to grow our writing:

1. Keep writing regularly. This is the practice part, the refining, the trial and error.

2. Keep reading. This is the activity that helps us get the feel of good writing (and poor writing).

3. Keep learning. Attend workshops and conferences, take courses online or through books, videos, etc.

4. Polish your writing. Strive for excellence. Don’t ever say, “Good enough.” Be the best you can be.

5. Publish. This step helps us commit to finishing a project, whether it’s a blog, a guest post or a novel.

6. Market. Oh, bother! This is my greatest challenge in the writing arena. But what do we have to lose? If we want people to read our writing, we must make it and ourselves available. Try writing in a new genre or point of view. Try writing at a different time of day or a location more conducive for you. IMG_1116Subscribe to a new social medium that you’ve so far avoided. Can’t hurt. Then analyze the advantages and disadvantages and refine your lists to what works for you. Most new things become manageable with practice and familiarity. Some remain useless and can be scrapped. But give them a chance. Note: if you don’t have a website, create one. You can do it yourself or ask someone else to do it for you. Without a website, you won’t be searchable.

7. Share. One of the best ways to learn is to share what you know or what you’re learning. Again, use blogs, guest blogs or various social media to accomplish this. It will invariably help strengthen your knowledge and understanding of the topic, method or genre (or show you where you need to bone up a bit).

So let’s keep writing and encouraging each other to strive for excellence.

This post originally appeared on the InScribe Professional Blog in May of 2016.

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I recently attended a free two-hour workshop on self-publishing, presented by Arthur Slade, “author of eighteen books, four comics, one graphic novel and a poem.” So says his website. He had many things to say about independent publishing, much of which I concur with because I have put out two novels and a short story under my own imprint (Tansy & Thistle Press) to date. But it was still good to be there, to hear other people’s struggles, questions, suggestions.

Just this past week, I drove down to Moose Jaw to participate in a one-day conference called LitCon, on independent publishing (also free). LitCon is supported by the annual Festival of Words conference I had attended a couple of years ago, so I had confidence that this mini-conference would be worth my while.

I write Christian fiction, primarily. Both of these events were secular in nature. However, I benefitted from attending, from rubbing shoulders with other authors I didn’t know before. We never know when, how or where we will have the opportunity to influence others’ lives.

I do not apologize for being a Christian author. Why would I? It’s who I am, what I do. And sometimes, secular authors are sincerely interested in the difference.

It’s about worldview. The lenses through which I see the world around me. Every one of us has filters that sift and interpret for us. This constitutes our background, experiences, attitudes, decisions, personality. So all’s fair. Just different. I think it’s healthy to observe and listen to people with differing perspectives. We can always learn from each other.

And isn’t life about learning?

P.S. An interesting thing happened at LitCon: I discovered at least two, maybe three other Christians in the group. It only takes a couple of words to connect with people of like faith.

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Along with the innate freedom of self-publication, there have been a couple of major struggles to balance the euphoria.

One obstacle, which I have often referred to, is marketing. For those of us who aren’t inclined to narcissism, who don’t have a self-promotional bone in our bodies, marketing can be the bane of our existence. We just want to write, but if no one knows we have written, or what we have written, or how to access it, it won’t go beyond our own small world.

I encourage other indie writers—myself included—to reach for help in the marketing department. We cannot be all things to all people, but we can access the tools to gain our goals of promoting our work.

The second obstacle that comes to mind is that of placing our independently published books in brick and mortar stores. My first three books, traditionally published, were carried by local and larger center booksellers for years. I did arrange launches and presented my product, but the outlets were always glad to comply with my request. The reason: they could return any unsold copies to the publisher for a refund.

These same stores have either gently refused my request or passed it over, because they don’t have the same options of returning unsold books. My novels are released as POD (print-on-demand), so once they buy these books, they have no option to return them.

While I realize the difficulties for booksellers, I also think we need to find a way to promote and sell self-published books in the marketplace. There’s no problem with digital copies, of course, and I also publish e-books, but I have readers who either can’t or don’t choose to read digitally. When they ask if my latest books will be available in local stores, I have to direct them to the online store (Amazon or The Book Depository – no shipping cost for TBD), which also creates a barrier for some readers.

This is an ongoing issue that writers with more clout are working to fix, and although I don’t have that kind of influence, I’d still like to add any help I can by informing readers about these problems. Because the number of writers who are publishing independently is not waning; it’s growing steadily.

How can people help? One way might be voicing our concerns (not only as writers but as readers) to booksellers. A practical way to help indie authors is to request their books in bookstores.

 

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One year ago, I decided to make the leap into independent publishing. Here are some of the things I have learned, in no particular order, along with a few tips:id-100355999

  1. I am capable of launching my own publishing company, including the various forms and fees required. (Print copies of documents so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time, so says experience.)
  1. I am capable of editing, formatting and creating covers for my books. I have carried out each step. However, if I wish to maintain my sanity and the quality I desire, I know I cannot do all these things myself all the time (kudos to those of you who can, and I know a few of you).

img_1237An Aside: I thought of an analogy this morning as my husband and I sat at breakfast contemplating a few upcoming renovations to our home. Three years ago, we transformed our attached garage into an office/guest room (it was too small for our vehicle). We, mostly my husband, did all the work. I helped where I could, including taping and mudding seams and corners after the drywall was up. I can do mudding, but I’m quite bad at it. I don’t ever want to do mudding again. The end result looks better if someone more skilled and patient does it. Just like I can do book covers and formatting, but it’s better for all concerned if I let someone more skilled do those jobs.

  1. Excellent and reasonably priced services are available to help indie authors in areas where we don’t feel competent, or where we can’t manage it all time-wise. Some of these skilled people may already be in our circle of friends/acquaintances. Trading skills is a mutually beneficial arrangement.
  1. Marketing remains my pianissimo (as opposed to my forte). I must continue to ask, read, search, learn. Again, there are people who are good at this, trained, willing to help. I need to reach out.
  1. I love the flexibility and the control that indie publishing offers. I decide the order of projects on my to-do list. I decide on the cover, the size, the interior design, et cetera, together with those I’ve asked to assist me.
  1. I am ultimately responsible for the outcomes, for my promises to my readers, for deadlines.
  1. A Reminder: As a Christian author, I am not my own boss. God is. That adds a much higher lever of accountability to my writing life.
  1. A human accountability partner who knows my writing, at least some of my personal situation, and my overall goals, is an immeasurable asset. We can pray for and support each another.
  1. I must continue to learn, to review, to experiment, to observe, to ask.
  1. I must continue to write so I have something to publish. I must learn balance.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” Philippians 4:13.

Tips in a Nutshell:

— Pray for wisdom, guidance and strength daily (or moment by moment)

— Do what you can

— Ask for help when you can’t

— Trade skills

— Count the costs, make a budget, treat this writing like a calling/career/vocation

If you are a self / indie published author, what are some of the things you have learned about the process? I’d love to hear from you.

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You might say, “I could never self-publish / independently publish my work.” I’ve said that myself, but it’s not true.

pixabay.com

pixabay.com

I think the courage to move ahead into indie publishing came to me gradually. I had created my own website (with the help of a good writer friend) with an About page, a Resume page, a Contact page, and pages about my books. I had also decided to post weekly blogs on my site. Every time I hit the “publish” or “schedule” button, I self-published.

According to Wikipedia, “self-publishing is the publication of any book or other media by its author without the involvement of an established publisher.” So if you’ve written blogs or online articles, you are independently published. If you are traditionally published by an established, no-upfront-fee house, as well as indie publishing your own work, you become a hybrid author.

We have been warned not to confuse self-publishing with independent publishing, but I think the terms are what we make them. As long as we avoid paying for someone to publish our material (vanity presses do that, and we don’t want to go there), it’s valid.

Often, independent publishers are considered those who run small presses, whereas self-publishers are those who realize the entire publication process themselves. However, since launching my own imprint, Tansy & Thistle Press, I feel I have the right to be called an independent publisher. It took quite an effort, as well as time to fill out government forms and pay fees for my press name, so I could publish for other writers if I chose to do so (that’s not happening right now, and the probability of it happening in the future is highly unlikely), but the press is authentic.

pixabay.com

pixabay.com

So let’s not allow naysayers to tell us what we are. We need to own our writing career. Self-publish. Indie publish. Do the hybrid thing. Just keep writing and getting your work out to the public in the most effective and efficient way.

Note: This little rant reflects my current personal feelings, so if you agree or disagree, you can comment below. I’m always willing to listen, and I might even be persuaded to shift my opinions…slightly!

 

 

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