‘Writing’ – It’s Not A Dirty Word

SecretsI have an author facebook page, a twitter account, a blog and four published novels—you’d probably feel safe in assuming I love to talk about writing … almost, but not quite.

I view writing as a little gift to myself and I’d been working on novels for years before I made it public knowledge. Initially I was doing it just for fun and didn’t imagine it going anywhere but it wasn’t long before I fell deeply in love and I realised, if I wanted to be an author, it couldn’t be a secret anymore. If I truly wanted to be happy and satisfied with my purpose in this world, I needed to allow this passion to cross-over into every aspect of my life. It was the only way to become the person I need to be.

So I started telling people and slowly let my writing travel a little further towards friends and eventually strangers. It’s been quite a journey to publication and the response from family, friends and random people I meet day to day, has been positive. In fact, overwhelmingly positive! So why do I still cringe when people ask me about my books and I’m unprepared?

I’m not entirely sure but I guess some part of me will always view writing as a secret just for me. Almost as though indulging in conversation about it somehow subtracts from the reason why I write. It feels a bit like I’m seeking affirmation when in fact, it truly doesn’t matter whether people know about it or not, I’ll always be a writer. I think a contributing factor is the enthusiastic reaction I get when I tell people about my books. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an absolutely amazing thing, but people tend to get really excited and throw lots of accidental compliments out there. That’s when I get really shy and self-conscious. Consequently, I’m a bit guarded about my real life. When I meet strangers and they ask what I do, I generally tell them about my day job rather than the thing that really fuels my ambition. Eventually I warm up and tell them the truth, but that could be anywhere from minutes to weeks into our friendship.

Maybe you’re reading this and realising it all makes sense. The way I confessed my love for books to you and then turned bright red and quickly tried to deflect the conversation. But maybe it isn’t as bad as it seems. I’m gradually beginning to understand the reaction from strangers actually has very little to do with me. People don’t gush because of my personal story, they gush because everyone can identify with the idea of following a dream. Isn’t that what we all want out of life; to love something so much we’re willing to sacrifice money, sleep, social interaction or whatever else it takes? People are excited because hearing your story makes them realise you don’t have to be extraordinary to follow your passion. All you need is an idea and to take a chance. Committing yourself to a dream is never self-indulgent it’s enriching and there is no reason I should feel self-conscious about that. Sometimes understanding the motivation of others is all it takes to reverse your way of thinking. So here’s my first step.be yourself

Now the truth is out there but I don’t want people to think twice about asking for an update on my books because of this post. Once the first conversation is out of the way and someone knows my secret I could talk about writing until you fall asleep! I genuinely appreciate the people who continue to show support and interest, and you should know you’re helping me overcome my internal battle and build my confidence.

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I Write To Give Myself Strength

imagesIt’s no great secret; I’m not particularly good at dealing with stress. But who is? Maybe some people handle it better than others but for me, it’s a weak point that I’m well aware of. That’s why I’ve tailored my life to a point where I can feel both challenged and controlled.

I’m extremely introverted, so pretty much any social situation comes with a degree of challenge. I absolutely love spending time with my friends and family, and I have a pretty active social life which is really important to me. But four hours is pretty much my limit for social interaction. I can certainly stay out longer but once that fourth hour hits my eyes glaze over and I long to be alone.

I do plenty of other things that are outside of my comfort zone and I embrace and enjoy them as a necessary part of my personal development—but that’s a whole other topic.

To keep my stress levels low I like to stick to a good routine. I practice yoga and I meditate, but most importantly—I write. Over the years I’ve wondered why writing helps me so much and while I know it fuels a passion which makes me feel alive, I felt certain there must be more to it and I’ve finally put my finger on it.

Funnily enough it was a yoga teacher who gave me the insight to recognise it.

Quad+Stretch+Yoga+Pose+Vastus+Lateralis+3I generally practice yoga at home but recently I went to a class and found myself subjected to some philosophical wisdom. During the session the teacher guided us into a difficult posture. It was pretty painful and I can’t remember how long we had to hold it but while we were in place the teacher reminded us to think of the posture as a symbol of the challenges we face in life. Often we shy away from the things we find difficult or painful but it’s important we experience them and learnt to deal with them. The posture is uncomfortable and your body is begging for release but you use your breath to acknowledge the difficulty and build confidence that you can progress through it.

downloadDays later I had a particularly tough day at the writing desk. I’d been working really hard to finalise my editing process when I suddenly hit a wall. Nothing seemed to fit and I felt irritable and frustrated. Then the yoga philosophy ran through my head and the two things clicked into place.

While writing a book, there are days when it’s hard and unforgiving, where progress is slow and success seems too far away. There are problems that need to be solved and solutions where you never expect to find them. There are also moments of pure joy and sometimes days of never ending self-doubt. But you keep going, and after days, weeks, months, years … you realise you’re done. Amongst those pages are all your fears, every tough day and all the happiness you experienced in your life as you wrote it.

Writing is a mentor, a place for you to face your demons in a context you can control. It forces you to acknowledge all that you’re afraid of and find a way to live beyond it. Writing is the teacher who works on your own time, harnessing your insecurities until you’re ready to face them. There are times when I’m tense with action or solemn with the despair of my characters but at the end of the day, all of those things have lived inside of me. I can externalise them in my book and look at them objectively. Although it’s taken me a while to understand how this works, my instinct has been right all along. So if you’ve ever thought about writing a book, you should absolutely get started. It will be the most difficult but rewarding thing you can do for yourself and you’ll come out of it a better person.

I’ve said it so many times before, but I’ll say it again—thank god I have this beautiful thing in my life!

For The Love Of Art

downloadWhat’s the difference between a successful artist and an unsuccessful artist?

Sometimes it’s not always about talent. There are some great artists out there who are completely unknown. So what’s the formula, and why does it work for some and not others?

Of course talent plays a big part, if you can’t sing in key then you’re not going to be offered a record deal. But in saying that, some of the most popular songs in history have also been incredibly basic. While there may be guitarists out there who can play a more complicated arrangement, perhaps it isn’t as pleasing to the ear. Maybe it just isn’t what people want to hear. Or it could simply be the fashion—what worked five years ago, won’t work anymore.

The same applies to writing. I’ve read fancy literary books before, I know the writing style is impeccable and the sentence structure is exactly how the universities teach. But sometimes the story is boring. So what’s the point in all those perfect sentences if I don’t care about the characters or plot? It isn’t enough to keep me reading the book.

Then, there’s the likes of Twilight. It’s talked about as being one of the most appallingly written books in history. But people bought it and they loved it, in fact, even people who don’t read, read it! So why is it okay for Stephanie Meyer to write terribly but most other authors won’t get away with it?

Is there a formula, or is it simply a secret ingredient?

It has to be both. Aside from the occasional one hit wonder, most successful artists reached their fame by working damn hard for it. There are also a hell of a lot of people out there who put in the same amount of effort and no matter how many years they slug away they’ll never make it. That’s where the secret lies. For some people it’s pure luck. It’s about being in the right place at the right time, perhaps even knowing the right people.

There’s only one thing we can know for sure. You can’t expect success to come to you. You have to work for it, and no matter how many years pass and how many rejections are thrown your way, you have to keep going. You need to learn, to grow and sometimes you need to adapt. That’s the difference between an artist who makes it and one who doesn’t.

I’ve heard stories of people who treat their craft like a business. Those who assess the market and produce something they know they can sell. I guess that’s where the formula comes into it. But I think in order to be a true artist you have to really love what you do. Without that passion, I don’t understand how you can sustain success. There has to be a connection between who you are and what you create. If your product happens to be what people want, that’s great. If not, changing it could mean sacrificing part of your soul. It means your art is no longer for yourself, it’s for someone else. It’s on their terms. For me, I think that has to be a deal breaker.

Hard work won’t reap the rewards for everyone, but if your art is a part of who you are—it won’t matter. That passion is your fuel, even if it costs you money or no one ever sees it, it’s the thing that keeps your heart beating. And it’s better to dream big and give it everything you have, than to realise you never made it because you gave up too soon.

The great thing about art, is that you can never really fail. 

 

Don’t Just Think It, Ink It

Fall in love with life. Have a magnificent obsession. Discover what moves you. Listen to your heart and go wherever it takes you. You are here and it is now. There are opportunities rich with purpose and passion all around you. Capture and relive your memories again and again. Life is the grand adventure and any life worth living is worth recording.

Unknown Author

 
 
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