Dear writer, do you feel alone?

Do you feel lonely and isolated as a writer?

Are you a writer struggling with feeling alone and isolated?

Do you spend all day inside writing and not even notice the beautiful day outside until it is too late to enjoy?

Writing is solitary work. You need to concentrate and immerse yourself in your story. Or at least that is how I feel.

As a work-at-home-mum I fit my writing in around a very active toddler, not to mention the day-to-day running of the household. I usually find that I am writing my novels and stories during his nap time or of a nighttime, when I should be enjoying adult conversation with my husband. However these are the only quiet times I have available, except for child care days, to write.

As a registered nurse, I am used to a busy, loud and social environment to be working in. At first, when I took up writing, I enjoyed the solitary nature of it. I liked not having to think about what I said, or to have to be constantly talking, thinking and caring for others.

However, now I do get lonely.

The days when my little one is in childcare, and I am in an empty house can feel very isolating. Or the long evenings I spend tapping away at my computer trying to get all those pent-up ideas from the day out with no real conversation with my partner. I can go a whole week and realize I have not had a proper conversation with him. Poor husband! (I am sure he is thankful for the peace and quiet)!

What can you do to not feel so alone?

It seems that being alone is essential to write and get those ideas out. However, you need human connection and interactions.

You need to find that balance between your writing job and your personal life.

For me I need to take a night or full day off to enjoy my husbands company and have adult time. I write myself a to-do list each week (keeping in mind I am also running my own freelance writing business) and prioritise what absolute must be done, what is important and what can be left until next week. I then make sure I have a night, or day off to enjoy family time. Not to mention catch ups with friends and outings with my toddler!

Build strong networks

Another way I have found is to build strong writing connections. The Australian Writers Marketplace runs a writers race on Wednesday nights. It only goes for an hour, but it is a sacred hour! In that time you concentrate on writing, however you know all the other people participating are too. A volunteer runs the race each week. It is a great place to meet like-minded people for support, ideas and inspiration.

Your local community centres, TAFEs and uni’s also run writing groups or classes where you can meet with local writers and other creative people. It is another fantastic way of creating a strong network of like-minded people you can turn to for support and encouragement. Or just a coffee when the isolation gets too much for you!

Online writing courses, or face-to-face writing courses achieve the same thing. It depends if you prefer to foster online or face-to-face relationships. For myself, it is easier online. Between being a mum, nursing, running my own freelance writing business, and creative writing I find my time can be very limited. Therefore, online connections are easier. They tend not to have the same impact, but it is nice knowing there are others out there who are feeling the same way.

So are you lonely? Do you have any other tips or advice for overcoming those feelings of isolation? I would love to hear them.

 

The month of June

Check out my exciting month of June.

There has been many exciting things happening this month, mainly in my freelance writing side of the business. However, I have made great progress with my novel. I am feeling a great sense of accomplishment and am hoping my completed first draft is not far away! The first draft is always the hardest!

Things will be getting very busy from August onwards with a new arrival to the family. However, I will still be writing and plugging away at my novels as time permits.

The month of June in blogs:

Feel free to comment, or contact me with any questions. Is there something you would like to see me write about?

 

Do you enter writing competitions?

 

Have you thought about entering writing competitions?

Have you been considering entering a writing competition but something is holding you back? Is it the time and effort of finding a legitimate competition, writing an entry, the entry fee and the wait for results that puts you off? Whilst it sounds like a lot of hard work (and it can be), I am here to tell you it is worth it!

Benefits

There are so many benefits to entering a well-reputed writing competition.

 Prizes:

Lets face it, who doesn’t love to win! When you win a writing competition, or at least place in one, you may receive a cash prize. How much you receive will obviously depend upon the competition.

Publication:

Some writing competitions may offer publication in conjunction with a cash prize, or instead of money. In my opinion publication is just as good, if not better than cash! Having your name on a written piece that won a competition is a great way to gain publicity and get your name out there!

Esteemed writer reading your work:

When you are investigating writing competitions, make sure you look at who the judges are. There may just be a writer who you have long respected and held in high esteem judging the competition. Imagine one of your literary heroes holding your story in their hands and reading it! For me, that is enough motivation to enter.

Equal footing:

In most writing competitions, your name is withheld from the entry piece. This means that even if you are competing against well-known writers you are all on equal footing. The writing piece the judge is holding in their hands is the single most important thing, not who wrote it.

Publicity:

When you win a writing competition that publishes your work, it is a great way to build your portfolio and attract attention. It is practically free publicity and marketing, if the entry free for the completion isn’t too steep! Who can say no to an opportunity like that?

 Portfolio.

Adding a winning story to your portfolio looks great and helps attract attention. It is like being able to add a prestigious job to your resume. Again, why wouldn’t you want to jump at any chance for publicity and creating a name for yourself?

Cons

Just like with anything, there is a downside to writing competitions.

Entry Fees:

There are some writing competitions out there that do not require an entry fee, however the majority will require payment to enter. To a struggling writer who wants to make ends meet, this can be a huge drawback to entering a writing competition. My advice is to screen the competitions you want to enter, make yourself a budget and make sure you stick to it.

False sense of rejection:

Due to the many submissions you often do not receive any feedback on your piece if you do not win. This can create a sense of rejection and disappointment. However don’t lose heart, it is simply because the judges cannot possible provide feedback for every single contestant.

Tips

Are you ready to give writing competitions a try? Then keep these practical tips handy:

  • Keep track of upcoming contests and their deadlines.
  • Familiarise yourself with the competitions aesthetic by reading previous winning entries, and the runners-up.
  • Ensure you read the rules and eligibility requirements of the competitions thoroughly.
  • Have a budget in mind for how much you want or can spend on entering writing competitions and ensure you do not go over.
  • Make sure you research the writing competition to ensure it is legitimate. Yes, there are dodgy ones out there!

Some writers’ love writing competitions, some don’t bother with them at all. I find that they help to improve my writing and also serve to help me shrug off rejection. And as an aspiring author I have to get used to rejection until I hit gold.

Have you entered a writing competition? How did you go? I would love to hear about your experiences, whether good or bad!

 

 

 

Should you participate in an online writing course?

Have you been considering participating in an online writing course? Are you unsure whether it is worth the time and effort to study? Keep reading for why a writing course can be beneficial to you as a novice writer.

Ways an online writing course may benefit your writing:

You should keep in mind that studying a creative writing course is not a prerequisite for becoming a writer. However, there is the belief that it can increase your odds of getting published.

  • It can improve your vocabulary.
  • You develop your creative thinking and problem-solving skills through analysis of different styles of writing and developing your own projects.
  • Many online courses that are offered can teach you how to give and take constructive criticism.
  • You can learn how to organise your ideas and write clearly.
  • Provides a community to share and debate ideas with fellow classmates.
  • It can help reignite your passion, or lead to inspiration, for writing.
  • You will meet new people who share common interests.
  • Many courses will give you tools and knowledge to plot, plan and develop your writing projects.

What kind of online writing course should you do?

This is really up to you and what you want to achieve. There are so many out there, it is a matter of reading up about the course, what it has to offer and working out if it is the one for you.

You can do anything from novels (including specific genres) and childrens’ books to screen writing and plays. What is your passion? What is your niche? You can study them all, or none. The choice is yours.

There are also courses out there for specific things like character development, plotting and using different programs such as scrivener and word for your writing projects. These can be useful if you wish to know more in-depth the tiny elements that go into a writing project and the tools that can make it easier and more time effective.

The best things about online writing courses?

Many online courses have a learn-at-you-own-pace style, where the lessons are posted on a weekly basis, and you get to them when you get to them. This is great for those people who are trying to fit their writing in around other employment, family, kids and chores.

I have taken several different online writing courses now, and can recommend them as a way to build confidence and skills. You may well be thinking to yourself, “but you still aren’t published”! And that is a very good point. I am not saying taking an online writing course is a sure way to publish your work, however due to the confidence, knowledge and tools you gain through online courses it can increase your chances. Online courses are also a fantastic way of forcing you to actually put pen to paper, rather than simply thinking about it!

You can do a simple Google search for online writing courses and you will have thousands of results pop up. I am a fan of any Australian ones, but I am sure that is no surprise seeing as I am from Australia! I personally have found that the Australian Writers Centre offers some fantastic courses, online and in person. They are generally affordable too (always an added bonus)! I am bias of course, but it is a great starting point for anyone out there looking for writing courses.

If you have found a great online writing course I would love to hear about it!

 

What is active and passive voice?

Do you constantly hear about writing in the “active” or “passive” voice? Are you confused by what this actually means and how it could impact your writing?

Read on for what the difference is between the active and passive voice and why it is important to know.

What Is Active Voice?

When you use “active voice”, the subject is performing the action.

What Is Passive Voice?

In a passive sentence the subject (or the person doing the action) is right at the end. Using passive voice tends to slow your writing down and distances your reader from the action.

Examples of active vs passive sentences:

Active: I love you.
Passive: You are loved by me.

Active: The woman read her book.
Passive: The book was read by the woman.

Active: He rode his motorbike over the jump.
Passive: The motorbike was ridden over the jump by him.

Can you see the difference in these sentences? Which sentence is more powerful?

Is it wrong to use passive voice?

It is not wrong. However, it is not the best way to phrase sentences as it can be awkward and hard to understand. Using the passive voice can also create lengthy sentences (as evidenced by the examples above).

When can you use passive voice?

In your writing it is a good idea to use the passive voice if you wish to place emphasis on the action, as opposed to the person performing the action. Many crime and mystery writers use this technique to highlight certain events that are pivotal to their story.

Example: The dog was stolen (passive).
Somebody stole the dog (active).

The mystery writer wanted to highlight the missing dog that is central to the plot, thereby used a more passive style of sentence.

How do you change your sentences to active voice?

Generally speaking, changing a sentence to be more active is easy. You simply bring whomever, or whatever, is performing the action of the sentence to the beginning. This usually fixes most issues with passive sentences.

Fixing passive sentences can happen when you are revising and editing, however it is handy to be able to spot them as you write.

Lost yet?

Try reading your sentences out loud. When you write sentences with active voice, your story moves faster. When you use the passive voice, you tend to use more helping verbs and it slows the action down. How do your sentences sound? Is it the focus you were going for?

I hope this helps you with your writing. If anyone else has advice on passive and active voice I would love to hear it!

 Useful links:

 https://www.englishgrammar101.com/module-3/verbs/lesson-11/active-vs-passive-voice

http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/active-voice-versus-passive-voice?page=3

https://www.writerscentre.com.au/blog/tip-active-voice-versus-passive-voice/

https://www.dailywritingtips.com/passive-vs-active-voice/

 

 

 

 

What dialogue can do.

Writing dialogue is an important tool to add to your writing arsenal. Dialogue gives your characters a voice, can help immerse your reader in the story and develop rapport with your characters. However, poor dialogue can be jarring and frustrating. It could even see your reader put your book down and not finish reading it. So it is important to know how to write great dialogue that improves and enriches your novel.

What dialogue should do.

Dialogue moves the story forward.

Dialogue can move your plot forward in a more direct manner then having a narrator explain it. It is harder to read a whole paragraph from a narrators’ point of view, then to have dialogue communicate the same things in a few simple lines of conversation.

Dialogue can speed things along and help build suspense, tension or any other emotion. It puts your reader into the middle of a conversation and pulls them in closer to the action so they feel a part of it all.

Dialogue helps develop your characters.

Characters can evolve through dialogue, and by making your reader a participant in their conversations you provide valuable insight into how they think, feel and react.

Dialogue is a great tool to help depict your characters and how they relate to each other. The way a character speaks and their tone can provide a lot of information about the person they are. The way characters speak to each other can also reveal what kind of relationship they have and how they get along. This helps your reader to feel like they really know your characters.

Dialogue provides realism.

Dialogue shows what is happening in your novel, as opposed to telling your reader. You can portray a scene more vividly through your characters’ dialogue. It engages your readers, as there are no lengthy explanations or descriptions by the narrator.

Dialogue provides vital information.

Effective dialogue provides information about character relationships, personalities, moods, feelings and reactions.

Dialogue should also provide specific information about your plot and drive it forward. It is important to remember that most conversations in the real world often have no point to them, but dialogue in your novel is different. It must serve a purpose and enrich your novel, not make it boring! When writing dialogue, question its purpose. If it doesn’t add anything to your characters or story, then delete it.

Dialogue should have action to accompany it.

Watch people around you have conversations. It is not often they will sit perfectly still and talk to each other. Often, they will be drinking a coffee, eating, cooking dinner, or walking etcetera. The point is people will usually be doing something whilst talking, so make sure you incorporate this into your dialogue when writing a scene.

Break dialogue up.

Do you ever watch a crowd of spectators at the tennis? Their heads going left, right, left, right. By writing continuous dialogue, one line after another, your reader can feel like they are at a tennis match. This is certainly not ideal.

The simple solution is to pause the conversation and take a few sentences to interrupt that pinging back and forth dialogue. You can use this pause to insert some interior monologue, describe the actions of your character, or the setting of the scene.

Dialogue should be concise.

To write good dialogue you should be concise and to the point. It isn’t realistic, as everyday conversations in the real world we have a lot of fluff in our dialogue. However, your readers do not want to be reading a lot of empty words. They want action and emotion. Writing short dialogue sentences will make the conversations between your characters more realistic and drive the story forward.

An important tip to note is that you shouldn’t write dialogue in complete, grammatical sentences. This is not how people generally speak in their conversations.

For example:

“Do you want to go and get a cup of coffee?” – a complete sentence.

“Want to grab a cup of coffee?” – how people are more likely to speak.

All your characters should sound different.

Just like all your characters have unique personalities, so to should the way the talk and think when conversing. Their tone, vocabulary, voice, accent and knowledge should all be consistent with their personality and character description.

I mean, if a 5-year-old child suddenly started talking like a 60-year-old highly educated professor of physics it wouldn’t fit in with their personality or character. Be consistent, and use dialogue to build your character further.

Revise your dialogue.

Reading your writing aloud is always an effective way to edit your work, but especially so for dialogue. When you read your dialogue out loud you will get a sense of how the conversation flows and if it ticks all the boxes for great dialogue. You will hear your character’s voice and whether or not it is consistent with their personality.

Other forms of “dialogue”.

Do not be afraid to branch out into other forms of communication between your characters. In today’s age writing text messages or emails is commonplace, and can be classed as dialogue.

Just be sure that it has a purpose, and are not just empty words trying to fill space.

Useful links:

http://www.aliventures.com/writing-great-dialogue/

http://www.literautas.com/en/blog/post-675/reasons-for-using-dialogue-in-a-story/

http://www.novel-writing-help.com/writing-dialogue.html

I hope you have found this post helpful in writing great dialogue for your novel. It is an invaluable tool that will serve to enrich and develop your story. If you have any other tips around writing dialogue I would love to hear them!

Are you stifling your creativity?

What does creativity mean to you?

I believe that creativity is being open to your ideas and thoughts. It is to create a piece of writing without your internal critic constantly making you edit, judge and delete parts.

Creativity, for me, is being able to get all my thoughts out onto paper without my own head getting in the way telling me the rough draft and my ideas are no good.

 So why is creativity so important?

When writing your first draft, it is just that. A first draft; not a final copy. A first draft should be rough, unedited and uncensored. Spew forth your ideas. The challenge is to type or write fast enough to keep up with the flow of thought in your mind and capture the essence of your story before it flies away.

Your creative side is what you tap into in order to write this first draft. Don’t get me wrong; you do need a critical component as well. But that should come later, when it comes to reviewing and editing your writing project. For now, let your creative side reign free and produce that masterpiece I know is hiding in your mind.

Stifling your creativity.

Creativity is easy to suppress. More often then not, our habit is to review and judge as we write. This restricts our creativity and creates a lot of difficulty when attempting to write your first draft. You worry that it is terrible, your ideas are lame, you are anxious because you don’t know which direction your book will take and that all the effort is pointless. You constantly judge and review before you give yourself the chance to capture those great ideas.

You need to learn how to silence this inner critic and editor during the initial writing stage. You need to trust in your inspiration and ideas, instead of rejecting them before they have time to evolve into a story. You must learn to embrace that vision and let it explode out without restriction.

A great way to loosen up and learn to shut out your internal critic is to “free-write”. Give yourself 5 minutes to jot down everything that pops into your head without editing or backspacing. It is a great way to let go of your inhibitions and loosen you up.

Creative vs. Critical Side

Of course, this doesn’t mean you have to suppress your inner critic forever! You will need that critical thinking when it comes time to review and edit your novel. However, once again, you need to be able to tap into that creativity. As you write and revise you will need your creative side to produce better and stronger images and words. Editing and reviewing your novel will take a fine balance between your critical and creative sides, and the only way to become better at it is to keep practicing! The more you do it, the better you will become.

 
The moral is, don’t let your own self get in the way of that great novel hiding inside of you.

 

The month of May.

What a month May has been!

At the beginning of May I split my writing business into two (Rachel Maree and Write Freelancer For You). In some ways I feel like I have gone back to square one in terms of building up a following and creating a strong online presence again. However, in other ways I am excited and proud to have reached the point where I could do this.

I have a few projects in the pipeline at this stage. Please stay tuned over the next few months and watch it unfold!

Blogs of May:

If you didn’t catch all my posts over the last month, heres they are:

 

 

How to achieve clarity of mind: letter writing exercise.

Following on from my blog about cathartic writing last week, this is a simple exercise I like to use to help with emotional cleansing and gaining closure. It can also help to warm up your creative muscles and rid you of any emotional baggage that may be bogging you down. By undertaking this letter writing exercise you exorcise the mental fog and gain clarity of thought so that you can progress with your writing.

“This writing exercise is simply drafting a letter that you do not intend to send”.

This writing exercise is simply drafting a letter that you do not intend to send. You can write (say) whatever you want in the letter, as you never intend to actually send it on to the envisioned recipient. You can address it to whomever you want, a past critic, a current critic, living or dead. You can write it to people, institutions, yourself, an event or even a higher being if you want. It is the chance to express yourself completely and purge your feelings and thoughts. If you are angry then allow yourself to feel fully into that rage. Write aggressively, be unreasonable. Say the things you would never say out loud or to a person’s face.

Are you struggling with unacknowledged feelings?

I believe that most of us are struggling with unacknowledged powerful feelings such as grief, rage, frustration, betrayal, hurt or suffering. Sometimes there is no way to express these emotions without destroying an important relationship in the process. And so they weigh us down and cloud our minds. By writing a letter addressing these feelings it can help you to understand the difficult issues and lay to rest those emotions and hardships to give you a sense of closure. The letter can help siphon off unhelpful emotions and baggage that may be holding you back. You don’t even need to keep the letter; in fact destroying it once finished can further enhance that cathartic release. Watching all those emotions and anger go up in flames and drift away can be incredibly freeing.

So what are you waiting for? Give this letter writing exercise a try and see how it makes you feel after.

I would love to hear your ideas on this writing exercise and if you have tried it, or something similar.

 

 

 

What is cathartic writing?

What does cathartic writing mean to you?

Cathartic writing to me means to cleanse or purge, to pour your heart and soul out onto paper as a form of healing. I draw on past hurts and experiences to create more emotive and powerful writing. I am not saying that everything I write about has happened to me. However, perhaps it has happened to a family member or friend, or I have read a story somewhere that resonates with me. You can put yourself into their shoes, use that powerful imagination we all possess to engage your reader and open their eyes to these experiences. Your readers want to be engaged, they want you to draw them into your story and form connections. The most effective and powerful way to do this is to tap into your readers feelings, empathy and experiences. The more emotion and vulnerable your writing is, the more you can create a relatable story for your readers.

We, as humans, have a powerful defense mechanism to protect ourselves from ridicule and criticism by over thinking our writing. We want it to be perfect and correct, but in so doing we can strip it of all emotion and feeling. However, your audience doesn’t want this. Your reader wants to see your vulnerability, they want raw emotion that resonates deep within them. By embracing the human imperfections of strong emotions and situations, you create the best stories. I promise if you write using raw, hard emotions it will shake your reader up and engage them so they want to keep reading and will remember your story long after they put it down.

What about you?

Enough about your readers, what about you? Why do you write? Is it simply to make money? Or because you love writing? Do you find it calming? Do you find it cathartic? Are you planning on publishing, or is it for your own personal benefit?

Do you keep a journal?

Do you keep a journal? I write in one, although not as often as I should. Journaling is a form of cathartic writing. You take the jumbled mass of emotions, thoughts and ideas in your head and purge them out in a tidal wave of writing. Not only does this help to clear your mind, it releases all those pent-up feelings. I love reading back through my journal and seeing what I have written. I find I can draw inspiration from certain events to put into my writing projects.

You never have to show your journal to anyone, it is for you and you alone. It can be as dark and negative, or as light and happy as you are feeling. It is a powerful tool to cleanse your heart and soul. You will find that you will write things in there you may never say aloud, but feel better for getting out. This to me is true cathartic writing.

Whatever cathartic writing means to you, tapping into the strong emotions behind it is what helps you create powerful and great writing. Whether or not you ever show it to anyone is up to you. But I can guarantee that the whole process can be healing and freeing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grammar: Why is it so important?


Being an effective communicator and writer helps you make a positive impression on your clients and readers. Regardless of the language spoken, or the country of origin, grammar is the foundation of communication.

WHAT IS GRAMMAR?

Grammar is the structural foundation upon which speech and writing is built. It is how we effectively communicate our meaning. To be technical, grammar is a set of rules that deal with the syntax and word structure of language.

By studying grammar and gaining a clearer understanding of how our language works you become a more effective writer. It provides for a sound knowledge of how to shape words into sentences and sentences into paragraphs to form powerful and persuasive writing.

WHY IT IS IMPORTANT TO YOU AS A WRITER.

Simply put, using correct grammar makes you look more intelligent. Not only this, but as mentioned above it helps you to write powerfully, clearly and persuasively.

These days most communication happens through emails and messages. Using correct grammar and spelling is imperative to this form of communication. Not only are you trying to sell yourself as a writer, but you also want to ensure your ideas, pitches and messages are clear and concise. You do not want any misunderstanding. And there is no quicker way to have a client or publisher turn down your work then to present them with an unreadable and grammatically incorrect email, message or writing project.

LEARNING GRAMMAR

Learning grammar is worthwhile to improve your writing and therefore your chances of publishing your work. Correct grammar should be considered another tool in your writing arsenal. If you cannot be bothered to learn an invaluable tool, then why would people bother reading your work? You do not need to be an expert by any means, but a sound grasp of basic grammar will go a long way to improve your writing. Once you have mastered basic grammar it will become an instinctual part of your writing process, and proofreading and editing become less of a chore.

There are many books out there, as well as free grammar sites. Whether you choose to purchase a book or find a site that resonates with you and your learning style is up to you. My advice is to set aside a little bit of time each week, even an hour or two will do, to study grammar. You will find that your writing improves, and your work sessions flow easier and more smoothly with the simple addition of good grammar.

HELPFUL SITES:

Please keep in mind that I am Australian, therefore these sites are specific for Australian grammar. Some of the sites are also from the United Kingdom, as that as what we base our grammatical structures upon.

I would love to hear your opinion on the importance of grammar, and if you have found any particular grammar resource helpful.

Writers Block: Myth or Real?

Do you suffer from writer’s block? I used to think I did too. One day, when I had wasted my time producing nothing of value yet again, I had a brutally honest conversation with myself. I asked myself, do you want to be a writer? Yes. Then what is stopping you from simply writing? Writers block? The answer was no, not writer’s block. When given a deadline for my freelance writing by clients I had no problem starting and finishing those projects. So why couldn’t I do the same with my own writing?

The truth is, I no longer believe in the phenomenon of the so-called writers block. I used it as a convenient excuse to procrastinate and waste time, and perhaps even to avoid failure. However all it took was an honest pep talk, and a few simple tricks, and now any time I write I use my time much more effectively. So long “writers block”.

To overcome “writers block” I asked myself a number of questions, and answered honestly.

Question One

What was holding me back?

To be honest, it was fear of failure and criticism. It is a scary thing to put your writing out there to be rejected and judged. All those hours of research, planning and writing, you pour your heart and soul into your project. So, even though it isn’t, when you are rejected it feels very personal. An attack on you, not simply your writing. It is much easier to never write anything, then to risk being ridiculed and rejected.

Question Two

Why do I feel stuck? Why do I feel like I have hit the mythical writers block?

I felt that there were several reasons that I was stuck. First, and foremost was that I simply did not know where to start. I knew what I wanted to write, but I wasn’t sure where to begin. How much planning should I do? Should I start at the beginning, middle or end? How do I develop characters? Settings? Conflict? Dialogue? I put so much pressure on myself to write an amazing story from the get go, that it paralysed me and I ended up writing nothing.

Another reason I felt stuck was lack of confidence, which ties in with the whole fear of failure that most of us suffer from at one time or another. I kept asking myself, “am I really up for this? Will anyone want to read my writing? Can I earn enough to justify all the time and effort?” I was continually second guessing myself, which made me reluctant to write anything.

Finally, I believe I felt blocked as I didn’t know enough about the main theme and topics I wanted my novel based around. If you don’t know enough, or don’t feel confident about your subject then how can you write about it?

Third Question

Why do I feel I am so stressed and pushed for time?

I am a work-at-home mum, as well as part-time nurse so the time I have to dedicate to writing is limited. I believe these constraints and pressure led to me throwing up my hands and saying it is all too hard. So I didn’t write.

 Overcoming those barriers

So, how did I overcome all these barriers?

Fear of failure and rejection:

To overcome fear of rejection and criticism is probably the most difficult. I don’t know if that fear ever leaves you, but if writing and being published is something you really want to do then you need to grow a thick skin. Look at every rejection, each piece of criticism, as a lesson. Take these lessons on board, and use them to improve your writing or admission process. The point is to keep putting your writing out there; eventually it will be accepted somewhere, and with every acceptance your confidence will grow. In the mean time….a glass of wine and some chocolate whilst reading rejection letters really helps!

Not knowing where to start: 

The issue of not knowing where to start is quite common. The easiest way I found to overcome this is to write a rough outline or sketch of my novel and characters, and then simply begin writing. If I draw a blank on a certain scene or chapter then I move on and find one where the writing flows. Once again, it is just about writing. I use writing warm-up activities to loosen me up and get those creative thoughts flowing before I start writing my novels, and also during if I find I am staring at a blank page for a few minutes. They really do help. By releasing myself from the pressure of having the perfect plan, character sketches and settings from the get go, I wrote a lot freer and they developed naturally as my novel grew.

Lack of confidence:

The lack of confidence in your writing is really only something you will overcome with time and effort. As more and more of your writing is accepted and published, your confidence will grow, as will your skills and expertise at writing and applications.

Lack of knowledge:

Not knowing enough about your theme or topics is very easily overcome. Do your research. With the Internet at your fingertips there is no excuse for not researching and knowing your topic. If you don’t have Internet access, then use your local library. The more you know about your topic the easier it will be to write. If you want to write about a particular event, setting or activity in your novel then go out and experience it!

Perfectionism: 

Most importantly, I came to the realization that my writing does not have to be perfect the first time round. There is a reason it is called a first draft, or a rough draft. This first draft is to get all your ideas onto paper before you forget them, and then you review, re-write and re-create from there. It sounds so logical, right? But we put so much pressure on ourselves to be perfect from the get go, we forget that writing is a process of reviewing, re-writing and re-creating over and over again until you are happy with it.

Time constraints:

Time is a valuable commodity. As a work-from-home mum and registered nurse I found it hard to juggle everything. I find a solid writing routine, not wasting time with procrastination and always ensure I put aside time to spend with my precious family helps. I write a to-do list each week, and highlight those things that are an absolute priority for that week. It helps me keep things in order, and achieve those tasks that have to be done. The most important thing is to not waste the time you have. Do not procrastinate when writing, sit down and get the job done!

I hope these ideas help you to overcome any fears or difficulties you have with writing. I would love to hear of any more tips you have of overcoming your own hurdles. Feel free to comment below with them!