Blog posts with the tag: "writer"

 

Veronica Lake

 

 

 

October was such a whirlwind! I can’t believe it’s November already. This time of year always makes me want to go into hibernation mode. I just want to snuggle, write fiction, read, drink copious amounts of tea and eat comfort food. So it’s the perfect time of year for me to hunker down and get on with writing my book. I know I’m not alone in this endeavour, as National Novel Writing Month kicks off today. I don’t have the greatest track record with NaNoWriMo because in the past I’ve always failed. I think where I went wrong was to get too hung up on wanting a perfect, fully-formed draft all at once, which is completely unrealistic. All first drafts are supposed to shitty, and that is the fantastic liberating thing about writing them. So I need to embrace that freedom and kick my bullying inner critic to the kerb for the next 30 days. Will you join me?

 

Yesterday I was featured in an article about modern day witches. It felt really good to come out of the broom closet on such an epic scale and say, yes, this is who I am! Not that I was exactly hiding my interests. I’ve been using the hashtag #witchesofinstagram for quite a while. I’ve had an absolutely lovely response from the article, and also some questions from people who are interested in the craft themselves and want to learn more. I’m thinking of doing an introductory series to let you guys know a little bit more about my practice. I’m currently brain dumping ideas, but I’ll keep you posted. I also want to write more about my writing process, as I know writing a book can be overwhelming. Even combining writing and magic! I do it all the time.

 

Being witchy doesn’t mean that technology can’t still fail you. I have to admit that I avoided this blog space for a while last month. It all started when I wrote a three-parter post about my wonderful trip around the US in September. A few people had asked about my trip and I was keen to share, but technology thought otherwise. For some reason, none of my photographs would upload. I kept getting the same ‘error’ message. It was really frustrating. Then a couple of other posts I wrote just completely disappeared, despite me saving them. So I threw a strop and avoided coming here like the plague. I took part in a fun #innerwitchoctober picture challenge on Instagram. I returned to my lovely witch sisters in Woodstock and learned archery, and I got a magical influx of inspiration, hence the intense need to write.

 

 

But I also felt the need to write without my author hat on. Sometimes throwing yourself into a story can be like struggling underwater and unable to come up for air. It can become an obsession. Sometimes you forget where you start and your protagonist ends. So it’s good to be back. It’s good to write about something real and honest. Until next time.

 

Heather x

 

spongebob-procrastination

 

 

I’m pretty sure that I’ve been a procrastinator since my high school days, but maybe it started earlier. Homework was always a drag, especially at the end of a particularly tiresome school day, when I’d get home and just want to relax and read a book. I’m an introvert, and I often feel drained when I’m around a lot of people, and back then in school, even more so, because I was shy and awkward; I lacked confidence and faith in myself, so I was always ‘acting out’ a version of myself that I deemed cooler by other people’s standards.

 

But schoolwork had deadlines, and I had to meet them, even if that meant leaving said homework to the last minute and doing a rushed job on it. This was particularly true of the subjects I didn’t enjoy, and there were many of them. Science was boring, Maths was excruciating and even History, which I’d always enjoyed, suddenly became a conveyor belt of essays about dull World War politics. Give me ancient civilisations and raunchy Tudors and Stewarts any day. I thought I’d love French, but vocabulary lists and grammar didn’t engage me. That only left English, my one true love (back then anyway). Ahh English. Reading literature and poetry, and creative writing were all wonderful to me. They didn’t feel like a chore.

 

I dreamed of growing up to be a writer, and spending my time either typing away in a chic cafe or a dreamy library/office or doing research for my novels. It would all be so easy. Except it isn’t. Because there is a niggling, nay, irritating part of me that loves to self-sabotage. I’ve read many articles on the subject of procrastination and that part of ourselves that self-sabotages has been likened to a chimp, a naughty disobedient child, and even a demon. It is frequently called the ego too, though not in the Freudian sense of the term. Some people name their ego, so they can acknowledge him or her when they try to take over. “Oh yeah, it’s Geoff trying to put me off writing that really important essay” or “I can’t sign up for that awesome photography course because Joan says it’s pointless.”

 

Indeed, the more I read about procrastination and this pesky part of my brain, the more I’m beginning to recognise her when she rears her ugly head. I can’t believe I never noticed before. Case in point, last Tuesday I decided that I really should go to a class at my local yoga studio. Why? Because I love yoga, I need to get more active and I’d been putting it off for a long time. But as soon as I thought about going to class, my ego popped up with excuse after excuse:

 

Ego: “Err…wait, you can’t go to yoga. What if everyone is really advanced and super flexible? You’ll look like a total dick and be humiliated!”
Me: “That’s ok, stupid ego. I checked and the class is open to all levels.”
Ego: “But the class is bound to be fully booked. Then you’ll have gone all that way for nothing.”
Me: “If that’s the worst that can happen, then fine. Besides, I doubt a 9:30am class will be packed.”
Ego: “But you’re bound to get stuck in traffic and…”
Me: “Damn it ego! I’m going and you can’t do a damn thing to stop me. This time I win!” Cue Nelson from The Simpson’s signature laugh. Ha ha.

 

A victory this time for me, but the ego tries to sabotage every aspect of my life, especially my creative side. I chose to be a writer because I love creating worlds and characters and stories, so how could the ego possibly win at getting me to put off my passion in life? Easy. The ego punches you hard, where it hurts.
Me: “La, la, la. Going to write that next chapter today.”
Ego: “Wait? What? No, no you can’t do that. It’s going to be so hard to actually write today. That idea for the scene you have might sound awesome, but on paper, it’ll totally suck. You’ll feel such a failure and I don’t want that for you. Why don’t you put it off? We could nap, or read or even better, we could carry on watching Charmed on Netflix. We’re only on season 3 and we have so many episodes left to watch.”
Me: “Oh ok then. Just this once.”
Ego: “Yay! Woo hoo! And screw the diet! You know we totally need to add chocolate to the equation, because, chocolate.”

 

And so the vicious cycle continues.

 

I’m not writing this article to explain procrastination or the ego. There is a great article about it here, which explains much better than I could, and there are amusing stick men illustrations to boot! It’s actually the best description I’ve ever read of how procrastination actually works.

 

 

procrastination1

 

 

I’m not even writing this to say, hey presto! Abracadabra! There’s an immediate cure and here it is! Rejoice! (I wish). I’m writing this because I know that I’m not alone in suffering from this. In fact, it seems to be a common problem with creative types (although not exclusively). Creating can be hard work and can plague the artist/writer/etc with self-doubt. Creating can be daunting and scary, and once you’ve gone over that hurdle, it can be just as scary and daunting to present your work to the world and try and sell it. But it doesn’t have to be. Elizabeth Gilbert’s wonderful book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear fully debunks the struggling artist myth, and why we, as creators, creatrixes or whatever we want to call ourselves, shouldn’t fall into that trap.

 

 

So, the burning question, how do you beat procrastination? I’m still struggling with it, and I don’t think there is a 100% full proof way. But you can trick your ego like I did with my yoga class. You have to learn to differentiate the ego from the rational part of your mind. You have to know when it’s trying to sabotage your plans and thwart it. You have to acknowledge and ignore. Just do one tiny little step to your goal, because a tiny step can lead to bigger ones. Force yourself to put on your work out clothes, force yourself to open up the Word document or Pages document on your computer, get out your paints, don’t reach for that bar of chocolate, even though it seems to be calling to you.

 

 

how-to-stop-procrastinating

 

 

Remember each time your ego tries to put you off something, why you wanted to do it in the first place. Procrastinating doesn’t make a task go away, it makes it feel like a weight on your shoulders that gets heavier and heavier the longer you put it off. Another trick is to cut your neverending to-do list down to three priorities every day. Three isn’t too overwhelming, as long as you make them baby steps, and if you get them over and done with, the feeling of fulfillment you’ll experience will far surpass the guilty feeling of knowing you should be working on tasks but are instead watching YouTube videos of people falling over.

 

 

How do you beat your procrastination?

 

 Typewriter Girl

 

It’s slightly annoying when someone announces that they want to be a writer because writing a book looks easy. It isn’t. It’s a battle. Writing can be daunting and sometimes that inner critic is downright crippling. Not that I’m trying to put you off being a writer. Not at all. Writing is incredibly rewarding and enjoyable, but it takes guts and serious motivation too. It’s not something you do half-hearted, unless it is purely a hobby.

 

The first thing I would suggest is to read. It sounds obvious, but many would-be writers just take the plunge without doing the homework. I can never understand writers who don’t read. I fell in love with reading first, and then writing. It’s a bit like someone who aspires to be a film-maker without watching movies and studying them. Read as much as you can, and as widely as possible. Join a library. Find out what kinds of books you like; what genre or sub-genre. Then read as many of those kinds of books as you can. Discover the best writers in that field but also read some trashy ones – you can learn from their mistakes. Compile a ‘shopping list’ of elements you enjoy in novels, and then add them to your own. I don’t mean copying stories or characters, but things that interest you. Remember, the first person you are writing this for is you – if you find your story dull and boring then so will everyone else.

 

 

Secondly, read books about the craft of writing. I will post some suggestions in a future post, but there are hundreds of them to choose from. Read the advice, try out different things and find out what works for you. The beautiful thing about creative writing is that there is no ‘right way’ to do it – rules can be broken. Some things work for some writers and not for others.
If you can, take up a creative writing class. I don’t think that creative writing can be taught as such, but it is useful to try out different exercises to get your inspiration flowing, and to get feedback from others about your writing. Another way of doing this is by joining a writers’ group or circle. It doesn’t work for everyone. I personally don’t enjoy going to a writing group, but then I’m a solitary creature, and I have studied creative writing at university and various classes in the past. I’m not saying that you can’t be a writer if you haven’t studied it in a formal setting – plenty of people come from writing from all sorts of backgrounds and other careers, but even signing up to an evening class can be valuable. Then again, you may do just as well by just sticking to the ‘guide’ books.

 

There are also good magazines that you can subscribe to about writing. I subscribe to Writing Magazine and Mslexia. They run monthly or quarterly competitions and it is good practice to write shorter pieces and submit them, even if purely to get used to writing to a deadline.

 

The most important thing for you to do though is to actually put pen to paper. Practice makes perfect, and if you find time to write on a daily basis, then the better you’ll be. Nearly everyday I find it daunting to sit down and write – and facing a blank page is the worst. Force yourself to do it and it will get easier. Sometimes setting yourself timed slots, such as in the Pomodoro method can be helpful. Start off with 5 minutes and build it up. There are apps for this or you could use a good old-fashioned timer.

 

Get yourself in the mood to write. Read something similar to your project. I am writing a supernatural story, so I have been devouring lots of creepy, ghostly stories recently. You could watch a film, if that works. I also listen to music. Songs with singing can be distracting for me (I find myself singing along), so personally I like using atmospheric film soundtracks on Spotify and creating novel playlists. Again, this works for me, but you might be different.

 

Remember to try out different methods and see what works for you. It’s trial and error.

 

Good luck and happy writing!

 

Hello!
Heather Blanchard

Welcome. Are you a writer, a bookworm, a daydreamer? Are you still clinging on to that magic that pervaded childhood? Pull up an armchair and get cosy. This blog is my dreamscape through an enchanted forest to a world of stories and the little things that make me happy; a chance to add a dash of sparkle to the daily grind. Here you will find the whimsical, the coveted, the Gothic and the romantic. Happy exploring!

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