Why We Should Always Be Writing

I guess it’s easy enough for anyone to tell that I have been having a hard time keeping up with regular blog posts this summer. My last post was about two months ago- yikes! Life can easily get in the way of some of our simplest and most mundane tasks. Getting back to blogging has been on the back of mind since well… my last blog post. I just never had the right inspiration to lure me away from the pile of work on my desk and into blog writing abyss. There was always tomorrow, or next week, or next month (haven’t I talked about NOT doing this at some point on this blog? Thought so). It didn’t hit me until today that I am missing something vital in my daily/weekly life- writing.

My job is full of reading, but rarely do I get the chance to write. Writing is a beneficial exercise for everyone, whether you are actually a writer or not. It’s one of the only outlets of expression that is truly our own. It’s easier to express your true feelings and track our personal experiences or thoughts on paper, whether or not we ever intend to share it with others. An article published this morning on LifeHacker really helped to drive this point home for me and there was no way I was going to be able to get away without another day of blogging (I know exactly what you are thinking- yes, it does appear to your lucky day). The article talks about the psychological benefits to writing and let’s just say we should all be writing as much as we can.

brainwriting

-The first thing the article talks about is that regular writing often leads to an improved mood/well-being and reduced stress levels. I know for myself that I feel a whole lot better after each post I write because of that satisfactory feeling that I have created something that wasn’t there before. Writing helps us to express things that we might find a hard time communicating verbally. It gives us a moment to stop and think about how we feel and what we have to say before committing to it, which leads us to their next point.

-Writing helps get us through pain. Many people have a hard time verbally sharing how they feel or talking about tough times they are currently going through. It’s very easy to pretend that everything’s alright, even when it’s not. With writing, it’s very hard to escape our true feelings. No matter how hard we try to hide them, they will eventually come pouring out. Writing is truly a safe haven.

-Writing also makes us feel more positive and gracious when about good things going on in our lives. Just as hard as it is to face the bad things in our lives, we often feel embarrassed to share the good news too for fear of ‘bragging’ or being ‘self-centered.’ But, recognizing our achievements and the positive events taking place in our lives will make us happier people for it. Especially in today’s world, we should never be ashamed to spread some good news.

-Writing clears your mind. We all have a ton of ideas floating around in our heads on a daily basis. Some days it feels as if not a single tiny bit of information more can fit in there. If we continually write about what’s on our mind it relieves our brains from thinking about it any longer, giving our brains/minds more time to think about other things. We are constantly surrounded by sensory overload and we shouldn’t torture ourselves with it any more than we need to.

-When we write, we learn. Not only do we learn many new things about ourselves every time we write, but we also learn new things about the outside world. Every new piece of research you find teaches us something that we didn’t know before and you are most likely teaching someone else something new too, which might just be the best part.

-Writing forms the leader inside of you. There’s no better feeling than knowing that something you wrote about has positively affected someone else. We all have at least a few writers we look up to dearly and can really relate to. Believe it or not, you are likely that writer for someone else too- leading them into a better life one word at a time.

After reading this article it’s safe to say, “I’M BACK!”

Or at least I hope so.

Write on.

Breaking Free of Self-Doubt

Let’s face it, we all have those days when we feel down and something is just off. Sometimes it’s for no apparent reason, while other days it’s because nothing seems to be going your way- whether you got a bad review on your book, a fan posted a nasty comment, or your editor told you that you need to basically re-write your next novel. These days make us start to doubt our ability to succeed. We start to question our talent and wonder if we truly have what it takes to keep going. When you put your work out there to be criticized a lot of good things can happen, but a lot of bad things will probably happen too. We need to find ways to pick ourselves out of that self-doubt and move forward. Every hit of negative criticism makes you a stronger and better writer.

selfdoubt

Today, author Holly Robinson shared four ways that she conquers her self-doubt in a post on The Huffington Post book blog. I thought they were pretty awesome ideas and that many of us could benefit from them- not just in our own writing worlds, but in our every day lives as well.

1. “Work With Your Hands”

Build/do something with you hands- bake something, do an arts project, conquer a landscaping project. Seeing the physical result of your efforts will help you gain some of your confidence back.

2. “Forget About Success”

Stop worrying about what other people think and remember that the main person you create your work for is you. Don’t be afraid to fail. As long as you are happy with the work that you produce, you are already winning.

3. “Stay Flexible”

Try new things- even if it’s just for a few hours. Try writing a different type of genre than usual. Craft up a totally different character than ever before. Create a world that seems completely bizarre to you. It will give you a break from your typical writing and you never know, it might lead you somewhere other than the trash bin.

4. “Keep Your Projects Warm”

Never stop working completely. If you aren’t up for a whole day of writing then just reread a few chapters, edit a few lines, or make outlines for future chapters. The second you stop working, you are letting your self-doubt win.

The only person that can make you succeed or fail is yourself. We all have days of self-doubt, but it’s how we break free that matters. Write On.

Writing Is Learning

Life is full of experiences and experiences are full of lessons- some we search for and others just fall into our laps. Writing a book is a priceless, grueling, and rewarding experience that not many of us get the privilege to indulge in. It takes a certain type of person to become an author- self-motivated, disciplined, and critical. Not only is writing a book a great item to add to your list of accomplishments, but the experience itself also comes with a whole host of lessons we learn throughout the process. I came across an article on The Huffington Post’s blog by Maria Ross that perfectly captured some of these greatest lessons. Not only do we become better writers, when writing a book, we become better people as well. Writing affects us in more ways than one, both in our writing world and in the real one.

lessons3

  1. Have Discipline

~Writing Life: Create a schedule for your writing, don’t expect to just be able to “fit it in” when you have the time. Treat writing as a job and make time for it. Most importantly, keep that commitment to yourself. There’s very little that we actually accomplish without holding ourselves accountable.

~Real Life: When you make a commitment, honor it. Do what it takes to get it done. Turn thoughts and intentions into reality by creating goals and following through with them.

  1. Open Up To Family and Friends

~Writing Life: Let your family and friends know that your time will be limited while you are writing. Don’t just let yourself disappear without reason or fall into the pressure of committing to too many plans while writing. You don’t need to give up your life, but you also need to know when you need to skip your lunch date and write. Let your friends and family know about your writing goals so they can support you and hold you accountable as well.

~Real Life: Let the people close to you into your life. Share your goals, dreams, and aspirations. The more support you receive, the more likely you will get to where you want to go. You will probably be much happier too.

  1. Invite Feedback

~Writing Life: Find people to review your ideas and writing for honest (yes, honest) feedback. Just because something sounds amazing or makes sense to you, doesn’t mean that everyone else will feel the same way. Be smart with who you seek feedback from though. Seek help from critics, editors, writers, readers, or friends with the same interests as you (or as your target audience) or with the appropriate knowledge of the genre/audience you are trying to reach.

~Real Life: Always ask for help and seek advice from those who have been there before. Even if you think you know what you are doing, you probably don’t. No one knows everything. You never know which small piece of advice could change your life forever.

  1. Be Your Own Audience

~Writing Life: When you are writing, pretend you are your targeted reader. What would you want to see happen, what questions would you have, what thoughts would cross your mind, what would interest you? Incorporate the answers to these questions into your writing.

~Real Life: Always put yourself in someone else’s shoes. It is much easier for you to be critical of yourself when you are looking at what you do through different lenses.

lessons1

  1. Prepare For Criticism

~Writing Life: News flash- not everyone is going to like/enjoy your writing. Even people you thought would love it, might not. Guess what? That’s perfectly alright and perfectly normal. Not everyone likes the same clothing, same shoes, same decorating style, or same hobbies. Diversity keeps things flowing. At the end of the day, write what you feel and you can’t go wrong.

~Real Life: Not everyone is going to be on your side, not everyone is going to agree with you. People have their own goals/beliefs and we need to respect that. We can’t expect everyone to support everything we do or believe in everything we say. Respect it, embrace it- don’t hate it.

  1. Self-Doubt Will Happen

~Writing Life: There will be many times in the writing process where you will question what you are doing, what you are writing, your credibility, and your future success. Are you wasting your time? Are you writing about the right topic/genre? Do you have the credibility to say what you are writing? These questions are good. They mean you care. Those nervous butterflies prove you are doing the right thing.

~Real Life: Always seek improvement and never get “comfortable.” The moment you stop questioning yourself, pushing and challenging yourself, is the moment your dreams remain dreams and nothing else.

  1. Trust Your Story

~Writing Life: Write with your heart, write what you feel, and believe in it. It doesn’t matter how many other times it has been done. If you feel it, if you believe it, then it’s worth writing about. Everyone has their own take on the same topic or scenario- make yours heard and don’t look back.

~Real Life: Trust your gut and believe in yourself. If you feel like something is right, like you are meant do something, if you can’t stop thinking about something then do something about it. Take others people’s advice and hopes for yourself only so far. Live for you- with no regrets.

lessons2

Like many other things in life, writing is a priceless experience. It allows you to grow, to discover, to reflect. You can learn extraordinary things when you least expect it. Life, and writing, is a beautiful thing. Write on.

When Practicality Meets Accessibility

One of the many wonders of my job are the surprises. The unexpected successes of books you really never thought twice about. I found my most recent surprise in a book published this past fall. The book was a drop in title for its print publisher and was submitted to audiobook publishers in August, just a few months shy of publication. Giving that publication was only a few months out, no audiobook publisher jumped to snatch the rights. For a while, I didn’t either. Logistically, it didn’t make sense for most audiobook publishers. Many fall lists were already full and there just wasn’t enough time to find recording space and time in order to make simultaneous publication. A big headache for a book that, on the surface, didn’t have much going for it. The author had no track record in the United States. The book had previously been published abroad where it sold millions of copies. Impressive? Yes. But what did that mean for us? Would it have the same appeal here in the United States?

The author of the book is the creator and owner of a cleaning consulting business. The business has blossomed into a famous service that has an extensive wait list. The author’s business prowess was appealing and certainly another plus to acquiring the rights, but it also led me to one of my biggest concerns. Were people going to be interested in listening to how to clean their home versus reading about it? The self-help genre is very popular in audio, but cleaning? I wasn’t sold yet. I let the submission sit on my desk until its publication in October. One day I decided to check it out and guess what? It was selling. As a matter of fact, it was selling very well. How long would it last? Who knew, but the audio rights were something I wasn’t willing to pass up any longer.

Before I made an offer for the rights, I read the book. I needed to see what all the hype was about. To be honest, it only made me more skeptical. In my opinion, she took cleaning your home to a whole new level. I found some of her cleaning and organization suggestions extreme. Despite all it’s offbeat advice, something about it felt familiar.

Since, the audiobook has been published and it hasn’t disappointed yet. I have seen countless articles about about the author in all major magazines, newspapers, and journals and the sales haven’t ceased. What made this book so successful? What about it appeals to both readers and listeners? It’s self-help genre had something to do with it. People like to continually “work” on themselves- always seeking a better version of themselves. But, there was certainly more to it than that. Something that all writers could learn from.

It’s practicality and accessibility has a lot to do with the book’s success. Cleaning and decluttering is practical. Everyone can do it. No matter how old, what gender, or what physical shape you are in you can clean. It’s something we all need to do and unfortunately, can’t avoid. It’s also accessible. In our world of “stuff,” everyone can relate to the need to purge some of their belongings. Our society puts so much value on material things that eventually we become overwhelmed. We all have a need to clean out our lives once in a while. Cleaning is a topic that puts all readers and listeners on an even playing field.

How can writers of all different genres learn from this? First, think practicality. Could the reader see your story actually happening in real life? Does it make sense? This does not mean you can’t make up a fake world with alien, vampire, and werewolf characters all rolled into one. Science fiction is one of the most popular genres out there. What you need to think about is does your world make sense? Does the fundamentals of your world, it’s characters, description, and events all add up to make something believable? Could the reader close their eyes and see the story play out in his or her mind? Is it believable enough?

Second, think accessibility. Can your reader easily understand what is going on? Are they left wondering how you got from one scene to another? Are the laws/rules of the world in which your story takes place explained? Are any cultural differences pointed out? Always assume your reader knows nothing. Find a way to tell your reader everything they need to know without them even realizing it.

Whether you are writing about how to clean your house, an alien abduction, or anything in between, practicality and accessibility will always be two necessary pieces to your puzzle of success. Write on.