When I decided to start this blog about the journey of my upcoming books, I had planned to share the tips and skills that I learned along the way.
Then I learned about NaNoWriMo!
Have you heard of it?
Did you take part?
Yes, I have so many questions about others who decided to take part, especially first timers like me.
My venture, experiences, struggles and completion of NaNoWriMo will be in tomorrow’s blog post, for now, I want to reach out to anyone who is thinking of writing a story/novel/memoir or anything else. I hope you check back!
So, let me backtrack a little.
Back in July, I decided to put my Network Marketing business on the back burner while I embarked on my lifelong passion of writing and a burning story that was eating my brain. With my 50th birthday approaching, I decided that was the perfect life landmark to make a career move that I was truly passionate about.
Yet my skillset was outdated. In fact, the last time I’d written anything other than a blog post or journal entry was about 20 years ago, I never believed I could do it or had a decent story to tell even though I had successfully completed two writing courses, one in my chosen genre.
So when I decided to research if there were any storylines out there similar to mine, those butterflies woke up in my belly, my hands sweated and my heart beat fast. This was a major thing for me, there is NO other storyline out there even close to what mine is. THAT was my turning point, the sign I needed to convince me that I should brush up my skills, get to work on research and put my storyline on paper.tH
If you are considering writing your story…and I firmly believe that everyone has a story to tell that only they can tell, whatever it is…then you’ll need to armour up on some learning where to start, so before I launch into the wonderful world of NaNoWriMo, here’s 5 links I recommend to start you off:
YouTube – There are two ways you can utilise the many talented skills and tips available, from general advice to specific tips in the world of authors/writers.
These are just a few of my favourite authours, both self-published and traditionally published who have a wealth of hints and tips that will get you buzzing and give you insights to various aspects of writing.
Goodreads – This may sound like a strange one but the #1 tip that I’ve heard over and over (and have come to realise is spot-on) is to read the genre you are looking to write. Keep a list of what you are reading, give/read reviews, see what others are recommending and see what your favourite authors are promoting next. Search for your friends, favourite authors and even make friends on there, it’s a great place for inspiration and resources.
E-Reader – Personally I use Kindle, (I have Amazon Prime so I get Kindle Unlimited with it so I can borrow books and return them like a library, only there’s no deadline) but any e-reader is going to be a great source of research to have unlimited books to hand wherever you are. (This link will take you to the Telegraphs recommended e-readers list).
Dropbox Paper– Chances are you already use Dropbox for your photos and documents, but are you using Dropbox Paper? This is a brilliant place to store all your bits of research, notes, backed up manuscripts and more. It’s totally free and well worth downloading and connecting between your phone and desktop.
Scrivener or Dabble – Two very different but similarly invaluable programmes for the writer to organise, plan, write and convert their stories. Both offer a free trial for you to test out the full version, both are worth every penny.
Grammarly – Whatever your level of spelling and grammar, I’ve yet to find a fault with this programme, whether you are writing a blog post or writing a book, there are options to guide you in the format of your work to help you with structure and more. Personally, I would suggest investing in the Premium version (the free version is great but you only get limited benefits) because you get a much more comprehensive critique of your work. Oh, and you can apply this to anywhere you write, from a blog post (I have it telling me I have 2 corrections to do so far!), a post on Facebook or in Microsoft Word. If you write from your laptop/desktop, Grammarly will tell you of any mistakes).
One thing I can assure you of is this: As you begin writing your story, you’ll have ideas, write them down, trust them. You will find what methods work for you. Trust it. Learn, research, ask, put yourself out there to make your story come alive. Trust. Trust yourself. Honestly, don’tgo for perfection, go for getting that story out thengo back and correct, modify and flesh it out. Trust in the process.
I’d love to hear if you want to write, what you’d like to write and if any of these suggestions have been useful. Let me know!
PS. I am not affiliated with any of the above links, they are purely my own personal recommendations.
I set about creating a vision board for my books, my journey to the international bestseller awards and all the lives I will help, along with other dreams and goals I have, I was becoming increasingly uncomfortable with using my current surname for a few reasons.
1. I have kept my current surname after my divorce many years ago b/c my son has the same name, it can get a little judgemental and confusing out there for him and as my name is about to be put in print, I want to keep him protected as much as possible.
2. I have a plan to write over 48 books (each one being part of a trilogy or read-alone) for 9-12-year-olds about the myriad of life events that affect them in their early pre-teen years as their hormones start to kick in and life becomes a whole lot more complicated. These will be donned with my real name, out of authenticity and integrity but I’m still uncomfortable using my ex’s surname so this is probably going to tip #1 on its head.
3. While my passion is in the above books and they will be traditionally published, I feel because of the intensity of some of the research and subjects, to write in a different genre will keep me somewhat sane as well as help with different styles of writing so I plan to do sweet romance short stories under a pen name, these will be self-published via Amazon and e-reader gadgets and via my newsletters. Some will be free whilst some will have a small cost, some will be one-off reads and some will be a multi-read.
Until I had the conversation with my editor about pen names v real names, I have to admit I hadn’t given it too much thought. Mixing my personal reasons with my public self has proved to be a thought-provoking heap of mess that I honestly struggled to decide on. (Blame it on the Libra side of me that is so indecisive).
So after much consideration, I think I have finally figured it though, in all truthfulness, the answer was always there, I just had to see it.
So at some point in the next couple of weeks when my name has been legally registered, I will alter it here on the blog as well as on my Facebook page and Twitter handle, please feel free to follow me, bring your friends along too… 😉
I’m interested in connecting with anyone else who is new to the writing field…or if you are a published author (traditional or indie) what name do you use and why?
Do you ever say a word and spend ages thinking if that word is even real?
I got stuck on the word ‘urgent’, for a good hour I just couldn’t figure out if it was real or if I’d made it up, it just didn’t sound right.
I literally had to put it into my dictionary app to find out!
Ever since I can remember I’ve loved words, I use an app on my phone that tells me a new word every day, today it’s
NOUN 1. a bright crimson or pinkish-red colour.
Sometimes, when I’m sat in traffic or waiting for a meeting to start or even just lay in bed watching a movie, I’ll see something that sparks a word, something from a number plate or street sign, a credit on the tv or a slogan on someone’s bag and that word will stick with me like crap sticks to your shoe.
And yes, sometimes it’s that frustrating too!
I found that the only way I could dis-attach the bloody word was to jumble it up with a few other words that I’ve made out of its letters, like a well-played game of losing the enemy.
1-0 to me!
It’s a great way to keep the brain active, it’s also great for word building but do you know what it’s even better for?
When I get that word stuck in my head, I now grab a piece of paper (I’ll most often throw it away right after I’ve used it) and write the word down in a few various sentences. In some ways, it feels like it’s the only way I can get the word to move on and leave me the heck alone!
I still love words though, even the ones that seem to want to stick around like a stalker!
What about you? Are you a word person or a number person?
I read somewhere that we are one or the other, for those of you that aren’t either then I’m sorry to say but you are an alien! If you love both, you are one of the elite. Congratulations! 😀
I’d be interested to hear your response, leave me a comment and let me know.
Most of us write at some point through the day but I’m
interested who actually enjoys writing of any form.
If you would like to but not sure what or how, allow me to give you a few ideas to get you started:
1. Start a journal
You could start one by talking about your day gradually moving on to writing about your thoughts and feelings, this can be good or bad, frustrations or funnies.
This is a very therapeutic way to get through some dark, unhappy and gloomy periods.
2. Write out a motivational postcard, personal to someone and send it to them.
This is a great way to not only reach out to someone else but to begin the process of moving stuff from mind to paper.
3. Write a letter to your future self, expressing everything you want him/her to be and why.
A wonderful way to hold yourself accountable to anything you want to achieve.
4. Start a blog.
A great way to interact with the big world out there. While many people read and not comment, there’s something to be said about being able to share something with other people on the other side of the world!
5. Write your childhood memories.
I did this once as a boredom exercise, a few hours later I lifted my head up and was amazed how much I’d actually forgotten till I delved into it. I was so grateful for the almost forgotten happy memories.
For me personally, writing is my way of expressing myself. In my journal, I obviously write much more personal stuff and go into great detail on almost everything I think, feel, believe, want, desire etc and find it absolutely de-stresses me and helps me to understand a confusing or hurtful situation in my world. I’ve realised dreams and goals, overcome insecurities and self-loathing, I’ve recognised where I was wrong about something or something I needed to work harder on.
The amazing thing with a journal is it’s totally private, anything goes. If you don’t have privacy, get one with a lock on it, or hide it somewhere.
Since I started blogging, around 2003, I have met many wonderful bloggers, artists, crafters, DIYers and other awesome people, we’ve shared many a comment, email and even phone call. I never went into it to make friends, but I did, and they are all invaluable even today. I would say a blog is amazing for setting a platform to share part of you with others just like you.
As for ‘I can’t write’, if you can write your name, you can write a blog post!
As I sat, curled up in a crocheted blanket on the armchair, I was lost in the world I was creating on a humble A4 lined notepad and blue Bic ballpoint pen. My dad hovered between the living room and the back garden keeping an eye on my brother, sister and I as we went about our chosen activities. He was never one to just let us get on with it, he monitored our moves to keep us safe and in view. It had been snowing for a few days, my younger brother and sister were happy building snowmen and being outdoors, I was the opposite, I enjoyed the winter from the warmth of our home.
I was around 8 or 9 years old when my first story was written. I had it titled, chaptered and planned out so well that when I proudly showed it off to my teacher at the school, he read it out to the class then asked for feedback.
Oh Mr Taylor, if only you knew what you did that day!
You ignited something within me that I didn’t know some 40 years later would take me on a journey that made me feel whole, complete and content, albeit overwhelmed, scared and insecure.
Not telling my classmates that I had written it, you stood proudly in front of 26 or so 8/9-year-olds, using my humble story as an English lesson! You had read it beforehand and had praised me on such a well thought out, detailed and exciting storyline that you said was ‘beyond my years’.
I felt so proud at that moment like I was going to be the next Enid Blyton (Yes, I was a huge fan!) That day, as I sat and listened to you read my story, add in the drama for the conversations and emphasised certain words, not only did I learn more about creating something capturing but I learned that I loved writing more than anything else. You asked for feedback, you questioned everyone’s viewpoint to expand their thinking and understanding. I was inwardly jumping up and down with excitement that the other kids were enjoying it and wanted to know more, and more, and more.
At the end of the lesson, you pulled me aside and asked if I would add more chapters. I was a shy, quiet child and usually had to be prompted to volunteer any public speaking or showing of emotions but I almost spit out a loud ‘YES’ before he’d finished the question! My childhood dream was realised.
That afternoon as I walked down a short (though it felt long at the time) hill from my classroom to the gate where my dad was waiting, I confided in my best friend, Louise that it was my story that Mr Taylor had read out.
“No way!” she whispered a little too loud.
“Don’t tell anyone!” I made her promise.
From that point on for the rest of that month right before Christmas, I spend night after night writing and writing and writing. It was finally the time to reveal to my class whose story they had been listening to and commenting on.
I have to add here, I wasn’t bullied* in junior school, but I did have 2 girls who were nasty as could be at any given chance when were had to share the same table, a small part of me was concerned about their reaction, another part of me was smart enough to know that they would finally know I was smarter than them, at least, smarter in that I used my feelings to write instead of annoy someone else.
Both of those girls went on to have huge issues in life, drugs, alcohol, multiple dysfunctional relationships and one of them died far too young. My life has been far, far from perfect but I am by far on the ‘nice person’ side of the fence than they ever stood to be, though I’d like to have learned they’d both turned out better as an adult than they were as a kid.
So, in English, I sat up straight, glancing at Louise holding in giggles of excitement. Not only was Mr Taylor going to reveal who had written the story but it was finally finished and he was going to set a piece of homework over the Christmas holiday for the class to write their own story! I had a million and ten ideas what I was going to write about, it was so hard trying to narrow it down to just one!
“Quiet down, class” he called rather loudly.
We were a pretty good class, to be honest, we were all in the pre-social media times where kids were kids, and it was the done thing to actually like school. We all quieted down and waited for Mr Taylor to speak. He sat on the front of his desk, he always did that, and it always felt as though he was interested in talking to us, I didn’t understand anything about psychology or body language back then, our class loved Mr Taylor because he genuinely liked us and showed it.
“So, we have the last 4 chapters of The Little Orphan Girl then the story is done.”
The class groaned.
“Is there going to be another book?” a kid called Kenneth called out.
There was my Christmas homework decided on, book two!
“Well I don’t know, how about we ask the person that wrote it?”
The teacher looked directly at me, and I felt myself go beetroot. The kids followed his gaze and looked at looked with stunned, surprised expressions right at me.
I didn’t see that coming! One by one my classmates were showing their confusion.
“Deborah (we were more formal in those days too, god I feel old now!!) is the person who wrote this story that you’ve all loved so much, didn’t she do well?” he actually looked proud.
I wanted the ground to open up and swallow me. At Mr Taylor’s lead, the class applauded. Everyone except Lisa and Karen. My not so friendly peers. That day we read the last of the chapters, on the final one I was invited up to the front of the class to read it myself. I was mortified. I could happily speak to anyone in that room, individually or in a small group but not like this. I knew I had to hold it together, Mr Taylor knew I was struggling, so he changed it up a bit. He invited five other kids to speak the parts of my characters, and I would be the narrator. Ok, I could work with that. We all got a standing ovation, I kid you not!
I received a box of chocolates and a brand new, thick A4 writing pad and pack of pens as a congratulatory gift that day. My classmates were congratulating me, the headteacher was called in to give me a certificate (I can’t remember what it was for exactly he’d created it for that story) and even my two nemeses’ were pretty ok. Well, that’s if you consider one totally ignoring me and the other saying ‘it was good’ as she nudged past me in the cloakroom.
Again, I got to my dad at the school gate feeling like I was the only person on the planet to have written a story. If I remember correctly, Mr Taylor even told my dad how impressed and proud he was of me and my creativeness.
Fast forward 14 years (aged about 23). Add in 2 children and a part-time job. The writing was a distant memory. After the primary school scenario, my next encounter with a written story was as a Childcare project in high school, aged 14. I’ll share that another day, that’s another considerable experience that got lost in the void of growing up.
So I worked part-time, raised my kids, had a pretty good social life, built a lovely home and forgot all about writing. Well, that’s if you don’t count the bureau, latest electronic typewriter, a selection of papers, inks, pens and notebooks neatly stored in the corner of my living room. The visual that stayed as only that, a visual, for many, many years.
Fast forward again, oohh about 24 years (aged about 47). Add in two more kids. 5 Grandchildren. Multiple disabilities. Two divorces. Many house moves. Multiple businesses. And a whole lotta lovin’, livin’ and rockin’ rollin’.
I woke up one morning around 4am, it was becoming a habit, I reached over to put my led lamp on (they are easier on the eyes when you don’t really want to wake up!), reached for my journal and pen and started writing. I had no real idea what I needed to write, but I did it almost without thinking. Reverse those moves, and off I went, back to sleep. Some 3 or 4 hours later when I woke up to the alarm screeching at me (does anyone else have to have an obnoxious alarm sound?!!!), I forgot all about the earlier incident. I leaned over, grabbed my gratitude notebook and immediately allowed my sub-conscience list out 10+ things I was grateful for, a morning ritual I’d gotten into a while ago, thanks to my growing interest in personal development. I don’t remember how long after that 4am note session that I remembered it, but for days and days, I had this ‘voice’ in my head about a storyline. I didn’t give it any attention, I hadn’t got time for it.
Then another 4am came around and this time not only was I prompted to write a few lines in my journal, but I was inspired to wake up a little more. It was going to be a long day if I had to start it at 4am!! By 8am when I took Charley to school, I had written out an outline of the story that was trying to come through.
A very basic outline.
But it was a story. ish.
That day I spent the whole day curled up on the sofa with my penguin fleece blanket that my daughter had bought me the Christmas before, and my laptop, completely immersed in this storyline. I only came up for air when the dog barked and scared the freakin’ life out of me.
Hot dog anyone?
I looked at what I had written, 24 pages in Microsoft Word. I actually laughed out loud. My mind was cast back to that winter back in the late 70’s when I was obsessed engrossed in my very first story. That feeling of passion, urgency and determination engulfed me again.
Insert: In my late 20’s I’d taken a couple of writing courses, gained some qualifications but did nothing with them. Nothing. I couldn’t help but wonder if this was my real purpose. After all, I’d always been called a dreamer. I’d always loved writing, journaling, blogging etc. I always wanted to be a writer, a published author. I just never thought I could do it.
No-one ever told me I couldn’t though.
Fast forward one more time, 2 more years (aged 49 and 9 months) I had been in network marketing for 2 years. I struggled with the network side because I’m an introvert mixed with extrovert but only when I felt like it. I loved (and still love) my products but something in the back of my mind was always overreaching somewhere like something was missing. I’d embarked on a personal development journey a year or so before and had probably saved thousands on therapy when I realised I no longer hated or felt pity for my ex-husband or wanted to re-write my entire existence.
Instead, I found a sense of peace, a calm and an inner acceptance along with much, much more. I also understood the importance and power of treating oneself respectfully, on all levels. This changed how I connected with other people, how I viewed and treated myself and generally looked at life.
Then I had a ‘face reading’ one day which would be a massive turning point in many ways. I was told that ‘my discomfort with my work life is based on what I know is right versus what I want to know is right.’
This was one of many statements that I new had some truth in it that I wasn’t acknowledging yet at the same time it was like a bloody riddle!
A very long story short, I took myself off, my laptop and I and wrote an electronic entry to my journal (which I never ever do, only with a book and pen) and after a few hours of sitting in nature, on my own, I knew where I had been and why, I knew where I was and I knew where I was going. It took almost 50 years to find my purpose. My heart felt alive and full. I had lost that invisible weight on my shoulders. I had some work to do to step into this new recognised self but it didn’t phase me, I felt on fire, alive and ready.
I had a direction that I knew I was brave enough to take even though I had a lot to learn. Uncertain how to get there or even where to start. Then a resounding phrase I’d heard from Bob Proctor time again came to me:
START WHERE YOU ARE.
So I did. I started drafting my story.
Because this blog post is a lot longer than I’d initially planned, I’m going to write a part 2, that one won’t be as long as this (Phew, I hear you!) but it’s very encouraging, and there’s something I want to pass on to you, so please check back!!
Back in the day, bullying was a very different thing to what it is today. Back then I would be teased for being shy, or wearing something someone didn’t like. It wasn’t constant but by today’s standards, it was not bullying per se. Ironic that my first book is about a 10-year-old bully, his victim and how they fixed the situation.
Thanks for joining me here on this new venture that I’ve finally taken the plunge to make.
Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton
Whilst I get this blog set up, I hope you take a minute to consider this:
As a child and/or young adult, what were your biggest struggles? Did you ever feel like you had the world on your shoulders and nowhere to go with it? Were you ever feeling insignificant, confused, alone, angry?
Yeah, I think we all did at some point, from those experiences come many of our habits as an adult, but what if we could help other children get through those times? Encourage them to acknowlege their emotions, anger, frustrations etc.
Stories are a powerful way to not only lose ourselves in imaginative wonder-worlds but to define our next move, our next dream or goal, to feel like we aren’t alone or just plain weird.
I’d love to hear your stories on your childhood experiences as you progressed from one milestone to another, from one life experience to the next, etc.
If you have a few minutes to spare, drop me a comment, email me, follow me on Twitter, Facebook or even find me on my own Facebook account. I’d really love to hear from you.
Nothing you share with me will be disclosed without your prior permission. Pinky promise 😉