Home of Ane Ryan Walker, Teller of Tall Tales, Writer of Short Stories

Tag: success (Page 2 of 6)

Where do I start?

I’ll be the first one to say, in spite of the excitement which accompanies starting a new project or a new book, there is also an element of fear.

Fear is the one thing which diverts our attention from a project which we anticipated, and causes us to doubt if the endeavor will be successful. In fact, fear is the number one thing that can hold us back in many areas of our lives, including our stories.

When the time comes to begin a new project, no matter how vested I find myself in “the story idea”, I have a process I use to ensure there is in fact enough story to fill out the form to completion. The process is simple.

First, make sure the idea of story is engaging. What that means is, do you have a good place to start?

Knowing where to start is tricky. Some will say you must first set the stage for your story. Others will assure you that the story begins when the characters ordinary world changes. Only the author can decide how much stage setting is required. I like to combine the small glance at the hero or heroine’s ordinary world at the moment change tempts her to action.

So the real trick is then, how can I best show the hero/heroine’s ordinary world at the moment of change?

This is the point at which talent challenges endurance, when you write at least four to five rough draft story starts.

But before you ever set out on this path, it’s important to know what you’re writing for. Sounds odd, doesn’t it? Really, this is the most crucial step. Is writing a hobby you use to pass extra time? Or is writing a business endeavor that might support you in the long run? Now is the time to decide. You must make this decision before you start.

Approach to a task will tell whether or not success is at the end of the road. If you write for your own pleasure, have at it. You need no further advice or direction from me or anyone else. Just sit down and start writing. Don’t let anything or anyone deter you. Writing is, for many of us, pure joy. It allows us to search through and examine the minutiae of our very souls.  This type of writing can bring insight, inspiration and sanity to an otherwise overwhelming areas of our lives.

If however, you write with the intention to be successful, then you must define for yourself what success means.

For some writers success is simply seeing their work in print or ebook. For others the feeling of success comes from recognition by others, such as “making the list” whether it is the NYT or USA Today. Other writers seek simpler affirmations of success such as monetary gain. No problem there. We all like to be compensated for the work that we do, and estimated by an hourly wage, writing income is low unless you enjoy best seller status where advance money is high.

If you determine success by income from writing, let’s say self-publishing and ebook sales, then you should first determine an amount of income that meets your specific needs. Next you should formulate a plan that will ensure the income you desire. This will require further work on your part to determine what the most saleable type of book you can write, and how you should promote it for maximum return on the time investment you make. The investment is made by every writer on the front end.  Only with advanced success will you be able to hire out or delegate the time and effort necessary to promote your book to success.

Trust

We’re never so vulnerable than when we trust someone – but paradoxically, if we cannot trust, neither can we find love or joy.”

― Walter Anderson

This post speaks to the issue of sharing your work with others. I know, I know. You write for the satisfaction of having created something from the sheer fabric of imagination. You want to see what materializes from the vapor of pure imagination, and if the story burning in your heart and mind can be told, understood, and shared.

Unless you take the leap of faith and share your story with others you will never know. Remember, it is a leap of faith. As creators of fiction we are timid in sharing our story for fear of our “baby” being deemed ugly. And keep in mind, not every one will love your story. Some may even dislike it. But the stories we write are not for others, but rather for ourselves and those who can identify with the story we need to tell.

Sometimes the most difficult people to trust with a story is our family and friends, who may feel compelled to tell us  our  stories are wonderful.   The people we love, and who love us, often feel compelled not to criticize, even in a constructive way. They don’t want to hurt our feelings when we truly desire to hear their thoughts in hope of finding our way onto the path of success. So who do we turn to?

Sometimes we need to approach and engage strangers to help us judge the merits of our work. We need to be selective in the approach, seeking out readers who will and can give constructive feedback.  This method will more likely ensure assistance in a forward motion rather than annihilate our hopes and dreams.

Beyond that we need to listen. Often, authors who are overly sensitive complain of being unfairly criticized. “They just didn’t get me.” “No one understands what I’m trying to say.”  Do we stop to consider that we, as writers, aren’t making our intentions clear? That editing, and possibly re-writes are in order?

Not every writer is fortunate enough to have a mentor. Not every writer can approach a critic–and every potential reader is a critic–and find the help her/she requires. We have to trust sometimes that the criticism we hear, especially commonly repeated criticisms, are true. When these criticisms are repeated, we need to assume they may be true. Trust your judgement.

 

Happiness

Being happy doesn’t mean that everything is perfect. It means that you’ve decided to look beyond the imperfections.

― Unknown

 

This week, I know exactly what happiness means.

My DH decided it was time for me to have a new desktop computer. I liked my old one, but it threatened to have a stroke and fall off the desk. It’s been threatening me in this fashion for many months now, and I just wasn’t willing to give up the ghost.

Earlier this week I found I couldn’t open any word program files at all.  So, I guess it has been a problem for much longer than I am willing to admit. I decided then and there a new desktop was in order. Also, if I hadn’t gone looking for those old word files, I probably didn’t really need to hang onto them. So finally, I got a new desktop computer.

Next time, I won’t wait so long to treat myself like I deserve something good.

The new desktop is sleek,  lightweight, shiny and pretty. It is also fast. Yea!

It did, however, throw me completely off my game. Wow.

Pay attention every minute because the technology moves so fast it is scary. I mean really scary. I like to think I keep up for the most part with new things, but I could be wrong. I have owned a PC since they first came out and so many people told me it was 1) a waste of money 2) a waste of effort and 3) pretentious.

I don’t dispute any of those things. All of them certainly may be true or were true at any given point in time.  But today I learned something new about the advancing technology.

You just can’t get in front of it.

Accept it. Move on. After four strenuous hours online and on the phone with the tech team, I found that you just can’t go back.  You’re going to have to renew, resolve and download all over again. Just do it.

And that folks, is the only reason this blog came late to the party. I promise you I will have inspiration words , or at the very least something else to b*tch about next week.

In the meantime, just keep writing.

 

 

Learning the Craft

   “Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”

― St. Francis of Assisi

In order to write that novel you always talk about, or dream of writing, you must start. I know you may not have the skills required to write the next great American novel. I get that, you know that, we all agree it’s not happening. But where do you start?

You just start.

Don’t stop by the Idea Store and purchase anything. Don’t ask your mother, father, girlfriend, boyfriend, or your best friend what they think. We all know they have opinions. Everyone has an opinion.Your opinion is what counts in the immediate moment.

A seasoned writer usually has developed a method for determining if they have enough idea to sustain a story, and what size of story (word count) the story idea can support. They have a good grasp of what it takes to make a story work, and this is why seasoned writers don’t always discuss their ideas until they’ve determined if the story has legs. Can it stand on its own?

For the beginning writer, there is no valuable advice –especially for a first novel–other than to start writing. That’s correct, just take a page from Nike, just do it.

You could of course, ignore this advice, and attend writing classes, make an outline, fill out character sheets or do character interviews, design a storyboard, ask for advice from other beginning writers and do any number of other things that only delay your writing. That’s correct delay your writing.

The number one reason unpublished authors experience a failure to launch, is basically simple; it’s a failure to write. We each have a certain amount of words we need to write before we can identify our own voice. Some experts say you won’t recognize your voice until you’ve written a million words. Now, I don’t know if it’s true, but I do know you need to start writing.

My first book was a fantasy novel, beautifully written with engaging descriptive backgrounds that made critique partners “see” the landscape of the novel. Yea for me! I’m good a world building. They told me the characters engaged the readers and all were anxious to see what would happen next. Yea for me, great character development. One critique partner described my passages as “liquid poetry”, and I was flattered, and amazed and felt so good about my writing. Except 400 pages into the story, the characters great adventure, no actual plot was found.

That’s right No Plot, BIG Problem.

I didn’t know what my weakness was until I started writing. Based on this experience, I never start a novel, novella, or short story without knowing the full plot. Every pinch point, every turning point, every reversal and big black moment is down on the sheet before the writing begins.

You have to determine what your own shortcomings are, and define your style, before you can learn the craft skills necessary to become successful. Once you have accomplished this, then the life long learning begins and you may have your feet firmly planted on the road to success.

 

 

 

Making Progress

   “ It is important that we forgive ourselves for making mistakes. We need to learn from our errors and move on. ”

― Steve Maraboli

Almost everything I’ve ever learned about writing I learned from making mistakes. Most of the time, the mistakes don’t hurt anyone but me. Often they come from a failure to plan the work. If you’re working from a plan, you can always adjust, backtrack, or take a new direction. You have plenty of leeway to turn and twist, and head off in a new direction. But you always do well to start with a plan.

The focus keeps the task at hand…at hand, so to speak. Early on in writing, but never early enough, a good friend and a prolific author told me “never sit down to write unless you know where you’re going.” This in fact, is the best advice I’ve ever been given.

When I first learned this, I still worked full-time and had a lot of responsibility at home. Since my husband and I owned a business, I had a lot on my plate. The first hour of daily writing was wasted on the guilt trip how I could better spend the time I was “wasting” on writing. Not published at the time, I took time-wasting very seriously. I thought I should be doing things or paperwork that was business related: bookkeeping, ordering, organizing, or selling new accounts.

I wasted about an hour guilt tripping, then procrastinating, and agonized later that neither task was productive. I didn’t get the bookkeeping, selling, organizing or the fiction writing done.

When I learned to end the writing every day (according to the time allotment) I marked the end of the session with a plan for where I would go next with my story. Eureka!

Thus the new guideline became, don’t start writing unless you know where you’re going with the story. In other words, plan just a little bit, such as the next scene, the next chapter, or up to the next pinch point or turning point. Not too far ahead, but just enough to keep you going. Kind of like headlights on the road in the dark. You only need to see so far ahead, not enough to be considered a “plotter” but enough to keep you on a steady course for accomplishing something productive.

This kind of progress keeps you on track without letting you write a hundred pages you’ll need to rewrite later. Of course, we all realize there will be re-writes later. But still, we’re making progress.

 

 

Sheeple

The greatest fear in the world is of the opinions of others. And the moment you are unafraid of the crowd you are no longer a sheep, you become a lion. A great roar arises in your heart, the roar of freedom.

― Osho

 

So if you start this year making promises to yourself, stand up –or sit down if you’re writing –and tell your story, your way. The most productive thing you can do, is to keep the promises you make to yourself.

If you’re going to keep promises, you should make an effort to be your true self all the time, especially when you are telling your story. Remember to tell your story your way. After all, isn’t that what being true to your self is all about?

I know plenty of people who don’t do this, and that’s a major contributing factor to their downfall, or to a failure to launch.

Sadly, when we begin pursuing a writing career we are hellbent on pleasing everyone who gives us advice, and anyone kind enough to offer any type of direction. When this behavior is coupled with the personality type which attempts to please everyone else instead of oneself, disaster ensues. First chapter writing contests are a major offender. Many times writing contests sponsored by writing groups who claim to be able to help you with that introduction to an agent or editor are major offenders in this area.

These writing contests send your unattended story off to many non-trained people to offer a critique of the introduction to your work without regard to the level of writer giving the critique.  Critiquing is in itself an art form, and is not an experience to be shared with anyone you do not trust. Often harsh words and poorly thought out comments sabotage many aspiring writers, especially those with fragile egos or a lack of support at home.

In spite of all that, many aspiring writers acting as “sheeple” dutifully make the changes suggested, no matter how outrageous, and pony up another $25-$35 for the next round of ill-advised potential to “get your work in front of the editor or agent you want to impress”.  The writers who win these contests know it’s often left to the luck of the draw. Their writing is usually spot on, but first they were lucky enough to get first round judges who were looking at story, not hunting a simple misplaced comma.

Make this a word to the wise; not all advice is good advice even if you’re paying for it.

Take the time to ask questions. Make sure you are getting what you pay for, in terms of writing advice. Are the contest judges trained to give a reasonable and helpful first chapter critique? Do they offer insight to writing “mistakes” and a method to assist you in correcting the mistakes and thereby learning new skills? Is your story improved by the input you  received?

While asking for feedback from an independent source is scary, remember you pay a tribute to receive the criticism. Use the advice you get wisely, and remember it’s always your story, your choice.

 

 

 

Old Dogs & New Tricks

In 2015 we need to try new things. In terms of our personal lives, and also in terms of the writing career we pursue.

What do we do when what we’re doing now isn’t working? Like most old dogs, we know we need to learn some new tricks. Not always easy, but often necessary.

First, you need to keep an open mind. In order to be more successful, we need to learn from others who have demonstrated success in the past. A proven track record of accomplishing things is what will help you to learn what to do with what comes next. We need to look realistically at our behavior and minimize the things that are broken. After all, isn’t the recipe for insanity doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results? Identify people who have achieved the success you crave, and ask questions.

When you reach out to promote yourself or your work, be confident about the work you do. The confidence comes easiest when you do the work. Analyse what works for others, compare your audience to theirs, refine the statistics, and keep working until you get it right. In other words, do the work.

You need to identify your target audience. Now I am not suggesting you write specifically to a target audience, it’s always important to tell your own story. But knowing your audience is key to success. You must know who they are and what they read in order to tailor your story with enough appeal to create the desire to read your work. This is how you build an audience.

When people–and I do mean other successful authors–tell you what isn’t working, don’t waste your time (and theirs), by telling them they’re wrong when they try to help you. This behavior is a waste of your energy and their expertise and goodwill. Oh, and you’re still wrong at the end of the day.

Police yourself on social media. Please, I am begging you, for the love of god, to please edit what you write every time. Incorrect spelling and poor grammar mark you as a writer who doesn’t care, and doesn’t know enough to care about what you put out there permanently. Now, who wants a big black mark on their permanent record?

I know when we first start out, especially as independent authors, we are always on a budget. Sometimes we need to remember there is no free lunch. Sometimes, it’s important to recognize free is not a good thing. If your free cover looks like it was crafted by a four-year old with a box of broken crayons and took multiple hours away from your precious writing time, it wasn’t really free, now was it?

There is one phrase you don’t want to use in the new year. “That won’t work for me”. It’s easy to dismiss the input from others, but don’t be fooled. People who can see you from outside the box are less likely to be confined by old ideas. Even if you’ve already tried the tool or tactic they’re suggesting, it just might be time to try it again. Different strokes for different folks. Remember timing is everything. You could find success with old ideas that you drug out, fluffed up and reinvented.

Getting Started

Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.

― Jim Rohn

There is a lot to be said for starting a new year. It’s a time when many of us choose to set goals for ourselves or even…dare I write it?  Make new year resolutions.

Resolutions are one of the most questionable practices human beings engage in on an annual basis. We set the pace by starting off a new year on the road self-improvement, where the largest percentage of us convert our resolutions to intentions, albeit good ones. Once we have a firm grasp on the new year, usually about six weeks into the new calendar, this becomes the road to hell.  Which we have ourselves paved with good intentions.

Be advised, if you didn’t already know this, we do not keep resolutions. Why?

I’m not really sure. What I do know is that it takes time and effort to change your behavior, regardless of what behavior you desire to change.

To establish a habit takes work. Let’s say you resolve to write every day. Good, but a little bit too broad. So state your intention to write x number of words daily.  Perhaps your style is more attuned to page count. Then resolve to write x number of pages. I don’t claim I can or will write every day. I do write every day, but that’s not the point.  The point is that I like to give myself some wiggle room. I resolve to write five days a week. This allows for disasters out of my control, like getting the flu. It also allows me to not feel guilt if I miss a writing day. Sometimes, you just can’t do it.

If you want to be successful and keep the promises you make to yourself (resolutions), you have to work for it.  Working the plan means being realistic and organized. Do not bite off more than you can chew. Writing 10,000 words a day would be great, if you could do it. Not many people can, and god bless those who can accomplish it.

Just a word to the wise, make those goals doable and you will benefit. I commonly exceed my daily goal, in terms of the number of words I like to write, and also my weekly goals because I write six or seven days a week even though I have not committed to more than five in my writing plan.

Habits can be adjusted upward for success.

 

Goal Setting

People with clear, written goals, accomplish far more in a shorter period of time than people without them could ever imagine.

― Brian Tracy

Happy New Year!

Time to make some resolutions, right? Wrong. We generally as a species don’t change things even when we plan to change. We are all, on some level, resistant to change.

It’s that time of the year when we need to reflect, reevaluate and sometimes even reinvent ourselves. So this year instead of wasting time and energy on making promises you are not likely to keep, why not reflect and reevaluate with a goal for the future that you might actually accomplish?

Reflect on your behavior, attitude and experience in 2014.

What did you learn?

Did you take a class? Perhaps you attended a conference? Read a “How To” book? Or maybe the opportunity to learn from life experience presented itself in one of life’s more awkward moments? This year I learned to practice what I preach the hard way. In one of those priceless lessons from the universe I slipped and fell at the gym and couldn’t return to working out or even get around very well for more than a month. This gave me the opportunity to slow down, and reflect.

What did you do?

Did you take a class or achieve an instructors level in a  life long subject you’re passionate about? I have two friends who each accomplished  life long goals of doing things for themselves. These women have spent many year nurturing others and at long last, they each achieved instructor level proficiency in subjects near and dear to their hearts. One became a Yoga teacher and the other a certified Padi diving instructor.

What is your big dream for 2015?

Most of us, at some point or another in our lives assemble a bucket list. The simple list of things we hope do not become a legacy of regret. The way to avoid regret is to spend your valuable time taking your dreams from the dream state into reality by making a plan. Planning your future is always a good thing. Make sure those benchmarks to achieving your dreams are measurable, specific, and realistic.

Well, mostly realistic.  Sometimes you need to go for the moon in order to reach the stars. Plan big.

 

Giving Back

True generosity is an offering; given freely and out of pure love. No strings attached. No expectations. Time and love are the most valuable possession you can share.

― Suze Orman

Today I want to bring attention to a particular group of writers who impress me with their willingness and ability to give back to the group that nurtures them. I have been a member of RWA for more than nine years. “Romance Writers of America is dedicated to advancing the professional interests of career-focused romance writers through networking and advocacy.”  The statement taken directly from the home page as their mission statement. This hasn’t always been true with individual chapters. Sometimes, once they become successful, the published authors lose patience with aspiring authors and do not like to share space, much less expertise.

Every chapter is different, and I’m the first one to celebrate differences. Gone are the days when I have to worry about who will be offended when the “experts” don’t want to be bothered with the “newbies”.

The women who lead and nurture my group of local aspiring authors are the most generous and hardworking women I have ever met. Don’t get me wrong, I have had several mentors who helped me along the way and I’ve mentioned them here, singing their praises and touting their generosity of spirit.

I was blessed the day I found Sunshine State Romance Authors.

This is the first time I have ever encountered a group so totally dedicated to helping others, both individually and as a group, on such a consistent basis. Every time they are asked to help, they step forward to offer advice, expertise and assistance; whatever is in their power to help is there for the taking.

How refreshing to find no disdain for the “unpublished” author.

How inspiring to know you will be assisted rather than ridiculed for what you don’t know.

How comforting to know that no question is considered foolish.

How empowering to know the help you need is there for the asking.

How successful these men and women are because they pay it back and pay it forward on an ongoing basis. They do embody the mission of RWA. Sadly, not every chapter can make this claim. Now I’m sure there are other chapters who believe they do this, but are you really sure? Examine your next chapter meeting and make sure you welcome new friends, assist the aspiring author when you can and share the knowledge you’ve acquired over your career.

Real writers spend a lifetime working on their craft, and know there is always something new to learn.

Truly successful people have the generosity of spirit to share with others and nurture those who seek their assistance, without judgement.

 

http://sunshinestateromanceauthors.com/

 

« Older posts Newer posts »

© 2021 Her Story Called

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑