In the final post in this series, I wanted to talk about all the motivators I didn’t fit in the first one.
They didn’t go into the first one because my focus for that was internal, the way I approach my work and what makes the difference mentally. These pointers have an element of that, but they are also about reaching out, about using the global community to help inspire and enrich my writing life and keep me going when things get tough.
So, without further ado, another seven ways that I stay focused, self-disciplined and motivated:
Inspired by success: There is a lot of talk on blogs about there being enough audience for everyone, and I couldn’t agree more. Few things are as inspiring or exciting as reading on a blog, or via twitter, that someone has managed to sell some books, or connect with a publisher, or had a great book launch. Tapping into those things every day keeps my excitement sky high. On a more personal note, I read a couple of blogs that have been created by people coming to terms with grief, or personal issues, and seeing those people find peace and support via their platform, is a wonderful thing.
Seeing how others work, (or, pinching the good stuff): The great thing about being part of the community of writers is the sharing of ideas. I find the comments sections on the great websites I’ve listed below to be particularly good. People will share where they are, what they are working on, and how they go about their writing via that medium. I am endlessly inspired by what I read, and will often leave a blog fired up with ideas, and desperate to try things.
Common ground: A few days ago, I was going back through last year’s manuscripts, and discovered that somewhere in the backing up process, the last thirty thousand words had been chopped off one of them. This is where being a pantser comes back to bite me, as I have only my memory to fill in the blanks. But I tweeted my pain 🙂 and was blessed with some lovely responses, people commiserating, and offering welcome advice. Nothing like people being lovely to make things easier to deal with. That and chocolate.
Trying new things: Way back in January of last year, my wife pointed me the direction of Chuck Wendig’s blog. There I discovered, amongst many disturbing things, the world of flash fiction. My first short story in about twenty years was inspired by one of his challenges and I then made it a rule to search out some form of flash fiction each week. Sometimes I write something and bin it straight away, sobbing into my brownie. Other times, more rarely admittedly, I’ll post the results, and enjoy trawling through what everyone else came up with. This normally goes like ‘oh of course, why didn’t I try that, oh, bloody hell, that’s what I was trying to do, only they got it right’ and so on. But it’s fun, and inspiring, and the perfect way to shake off those mid-manuscript blues that can slow you down and demoralise you.
Finding and learning from my mistakes: OK, it’s confession time. The last time I studied English on a serious level, was back in school. I did my AS level English Language a year early and got an A, then ran away from Wuthering Heights, not daring to look back until I was ensconced behind my drum kit. What I have spent the last year discovering is that, for the most part, I’m not too bad at the basics. I understand how language goes together good, and can say stuff quite good, too 🙂 But boy oh boy, is there still a lot to learn. From story structure, to the finer points of grammar, to conflict and a whole lot more. Most of that stuff, I do naturally, but do I do it as well as I can? Hell no. In my published books, I’ve had the help of an editor, and beta readers to help drag the good stuff from me, and ensure I’m producing stuff people actually want to read, but aside from the guilt I feel at inflicting my shoddy first drafts on the poor souls, I want to be better, all on my own. So learning where I have holes, and filling them, is not only a constant job, but also an inspiring one.
Reading: I feel slightly embarrassed I didn’t mention this on the last one. It should go without saying, that reading comes before everything else. I won’t harp on about it, because so many, far better writers than me have said it better, but it does bear repeating. Also worth mentioning, is the importance of reading everything. I read classics, fantasy, mysteries, scifi, horror, YA, modern literature, comics and anything else that comes my way. I haven’t yet found time for much romance, but I loved Gone with the Wind, so there’s that 🙂
Wifey: For me, the greatest source of encouragement and belief comes from my wife. She has been nothing but completely supportive since I put my first word to paper, and continues to be so, even taking on some of the less exciting tasks of the business, and forming an integral part of the marketing and promotion side of things. This could of course be your best friend, your mother, anyone who believes in you unconditionally. As an author it’s essential to have all those people who question; critique partners, editors, beta readers and so forth, but I think it’s just as important to have some to turn to when the well of self-belief runs dry. Being a successful writer demands patience and an eye for the long haul, and having someone for those moments when the sales aren’t quite what you hoped, or you get that first edit back and realise how much work you have to do, is a wonderful thing.
The pick of the blogs that motivate me:
Thanks for reading. I hope this series has inspired you in some small way, and if so, please drop me a line and say hi.
Scarlet’s story will continue next week in a new series entitled ‘A Change of Status’, in which Scarlet discovers that unicorns are grumpy bastards, learns that cults are filled with wierdos, and gets a girlfriend.