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Do Your Thing And Don’t Care If They Like It (An IWSG Post)

It’s the first Wednesday of the month, which means it’s time for another action-packed installment of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group!

(If you’re new to the IWSG and/or are looking for more information, including a complete list of participants, please click on the above link.)

This month’s awesome co-hosts are Susan Baury Rouchard, Nancy Gideon, Jennifer Lane, Jennifer Hawes, Chemist Ken, and Chrys Fey!

This month’s (optional) question asks, “Have you ever written a piece that became a form, or even a genre, you hadn’t planned on writing in? Or do you choose a form/genre in advance?

But I’m taking a pass on the question today because I’m pleased to be participating in a bloghop celebrating the release of a brand-new book from which any struggling writer could benefit. It’s really perfect for the IWSG, and I’m not just saying that because I’m a super fan of its author, Chrys Fey.

But before we get into the details of the book itself (or if you’d rather not wait, just scroll down a little…), we were asked to share our own stories and struggles with writer’s block and/or depression and/or burnout and what we did or are currently doing to heal.

So I’ve been trying to figure out how to approach this post since I signed up to participate. Me talking about my feelings in any sort of detail always leads me to feel worse about myself than I already do. And when you feel awful about yourself every minute of every day anyway, you’re never that eager to add to that.

But, as I mentioned earlier, I admire the hell out of Chrys (seriously, y’all, she’s a rock star), so I wanted to try. (Yes, there is such a thing as try, Yoda. Suck it.)

It’s no secret that I have been in a funk for…a good long time now. I don’t even know when it started. It’s been so long that it feels like it’s always been this way. And maybe it has. Again, I don’t know. I do know things got worse last year (I’m not going into the reasons why), which was a surprise because I honestly didn’t think I could feel worse about myself than I already did.

So…good for me, I guess? My ability for self-loathing is limitless! Woo Hoo! High five!

But however it happened, I have yet to find a way to right the ship or turn it around or…stop the ship from sinking, or whatever boat-themed metaphor you prefer.

And neither can I say that I’m doing any dealing or healing because ‘dealing’ and ‘healing’ implies action, and I’m certainly not doing anything active. What I’m doing is more…living with it. Like the lizard that’s currently living in my pantry. And the one in my bookshelves. Not to mention the mailbox.

Have I mentioned lately how much I LOVE living in the tenth circle of hell Florida?

For me, living with it boils down to one simple philosophy that I have mentioned on this blog many times before…

DO YOUR THING AND DON’T CARE IF THEY LIKE IT.

This is a quote attributed to my good friend, Tina Fey (note: the phrase ‘good friend’ may be a slight exaggeration, as we’ve never actually met), and I repeat to myself a lot. Like, a lot a lot. Some days, it’s far easier to do than others, but it’s a good mantra for me to have. And some days, it’s the only way I get anything written.

In this industry, I often hear that I’m doing it wrong, or that I need to do X, Y, or Z instead, and that I don’t really belong here. Which are all things that are probably true, and some days, it’s easier to shrug off that shit than others.

But here’s the thing: I have to do this writing thing on my terms. I have to do the publishing thing on my terms. Even if it means I don’t do it at all. And if my terms don’t conform with someone else’s vision of things, then…too bad.

I’m here, I’m obstinate as hell, and they’re just going to have to deal with it.

But if you are currently living with writer’s block, depression, or burnout, or some kind of combination of the above, it’s well worth checking out Chrys’s book. (How’s that for a segue, huh?) I was privileged enough to read an early copy of it, and I think someone would have to work really hard to not find something within those pages to help them out.

Which leads us to…

THE PART WITH THE BOOK DETAILS

Catch the sparks you need to conquer writer’s block, depression, and burnout!

When Chrys Fey shared her story about depression and burnout, it struck a chord with other writers. That put into perspective for her how desperate writers are to hear they aren’t alone. Many creative types experience these challenges, battling to recover. Let Keep Writing with Fey: Sparks to Defeat Writer’s Block, Depression, and Burnout guide you through:

·        Writer’s block

·        Depression

·        Writer’s burnout

·        What a writer doesn’t need to succeed

·        Finding creativity boosts

With these sparks, you can begin your journey of rediscovering your creativity and get back to what you love—writing.

BOOK LINKS:

Amazon / Nook / iTunes / Kobo

Goodreads

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Chrys Fey is the author of Write with Fey: 10 Sparks to Guide You from Idea to Publication. She is also the author of the Disaster Crimes series. Visit her blog, Write with Fey, for more tips on how to reverse writer’s burnout.

Not Very Deep Thoughts With M.J. Fifield (An IWSG Post)

It’s the first Wednesday of the month, which means it’s time for another action-packed installment of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, y’all!

This month’s awesome co-hosts are: Jenni Enzor, Beth Camp, Liesbet @ Roaming About, Tyrean Martinson, and Sandra Cox!

This month’s (optional) question asks, “There have been many industry changes in the last decade, so what are some changes you would like to see happen in the next decade?”

But I’m going to skip that question because I feel like I’m too much of an industry imposter-type person to have an opinion on that.

Instead you’re going to get this…whatever this turns out to be. I’m honestly not sure what will come from this post. Maybe nothing. Maybe I’ll get bored and/or tired and/or worried partway through and delete it, like I did last month’s post. Or maybe I’ll come up with something I’m willing to share. Stranger things have happened. Somewhere. Probably. I assume. (Name! That! Reference!)

Anyway…let’s find out which one it will be, shall we?

So, a while back (probably around May 8th), I came across the following tweet and it’s been floating around in my mind ever since.

According to the above tweet, over 80% of published authors stop after three books. I don’t know if the stats went any deeper than that. (If I recall correctly, the attached article didn’t specify.) Like, 80% of all authors? Does genre matter? Do romance authors, for example, last longer than literary fiction authors or mystery authors? Do authors who publish works in multiple genres have a higher rate of longevity? Or do they maybe burn out faster because they’re trying to do too much?

Is burnout even the problem? What percentage stop because of burnout or a burnout-like experience? How many stopped because they were dropped by a publisher and/or agent (for whatever reason) and couldn’t secure new ones? How many stopped because they got into the industry, looked around, and said, “Yeah, this sucks” and got back out again? How many stopped because they simply had no more stories they wanted to write?

Now, if you happened to read my most recent post, you’ll know that I am maybe kind of sort of possibly getting closer to maybe publishing my third book. And I keep wondering if maybe this third book (should it manage to see the light of day) will be my last.

(Side Note: Yeah, I know these stats apply to traditionally published authors and not the self-published variety. Didn’t make me think about them any less.)

I’m only on my third book and have only managed to publish two titles, but I find it increasingly difficult. Not, like, physically difficult or anything, but more…I don’t know. The more I do it (publishing, I mean), the less I know if I want to keep doing it.

Of course, I said the same thing before, during, and after publishing my first two books, so make of it what you will.

(Side Note: I don’t believe this has anything to do with my decision to self-publish. That was the right choice for me. Is the right choice for me. I also firmly believe that if I had gone the traditional route back when I had the chance, I probably wouldn’t have gotten past my first book. (Side Side Note: Not every publishing path is right for every author! Do the research and decide which is right for you! No one gets to decide what is right for you but YOU!) All of my publishing-related issues stem from anxiety, a multiplude of complexes, and probably too much Dr. Pepper…)

I imagine I will always have more stories I want to write. There was a time, while I was working on Effigy that I worried about whether I would ever have any other story ideas. I thought maybe I would write that one series and then just be done with writing altogether.

I don’t think that anymore. Given how long it takes me to write/finish a novel, I’m sure I have story ideas enough to last the rest of my life and probably quite a few years as a ghost. I cannot guarantee, however, I will always have more stories I want to publish.

I work toward publishing each project to keep my options open, but I honestly don’t know which way I’ll go until I actually hit that big red “PUBLISH ME” button.

And…I don’t know. I guess that’s it. I thought I might stumble across some sort of point that would tie things up in a neat-ish little bow, but that didn’t seem to happen here.

Let me just say that if you’ve published three, six, twelve or more books, you’re a rock star. If you’re working toward publishing your first—or even just starting writing your first—book, you’re a rock star.

It’s a hard industry. Hang in there.

Mood Music (An IWSG Post)

It’s the first Wednesday of the month (at least I think it is, but honestly, I haven’t really known what day/week/month it is for a while now, so I could be wrong) which means it’s time for another action-packed (possibly rant-packed. Like, I’d like to rant, but I’ll probably lose that impulse by the time I get to the actual post part of this post) edition of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.

As always, I am assuming if you’re reading this, it’s because you’re already familiar with this group, but if you happen to be new and looking for more information and/or a complete list of participants, click on the above link.

This month’s amazing co-hosts are Feather Stone, Beverly Stowe McClure, Mary Aalgaard, Kim Lajevardi, and Chemist Ken.

This month’s (optional) question asks, “Do you have any rituals that you use when you need help getting into the zone? Care to share?”

This might sound weird coming from an OCD-ridden control freak, but I don’t think I do have any real rituals.

Music probably comes the closest, though. Every WIP I create ends up with its own playlist comprised of songs that remind me of a specific character and/or scene. Sometimes, I even include songs that I call ‘opening credits’ or ‘end credits’ selections. Because I’m weird like that.

The moment I start developing a playlist for a WIP is the moment when I know I’m getting serious about that particular project. The playlists evolve as the story does. Songs are cut, others are added, and I keep doing this until the WIP is finished. (If it’s finished, I should say. I do have a long history of, you know, not finishing WIPs.) If one were so inclined, one could chart all those changes to the playlist and see exactly how many times I was wrong about the direction in which I thought a story would go.

I’ve been doing this for a good long while now. Since college—when I actually decided that maybe spending all my time writing stories meant I should maybe try being a writer. The first two projects to get a playlist were Effigy and a as-of-yet-unfinished WIP currently known as How Many Angels (possibly funny side note: it took me many tries to write ‘angels’ instead of ‘angles’. It’s possible I need a nap. Said the insomniac.).

I believe the first song to make it onto the How Many Angels list was I Think It’s Gonna Rain Today by Bette Midler. It just really fit how I saw the opening scene. It still does, which is why even though I added it to the list many, many moons (all right, fine. Decades, okay? It was decades.) ago, it’s still there.

The same cannot be said for Effigy‘s original playlist. I’m going to claim that I don’t remember what songs were on that original list, but the truth is they are super embarrassing and I don’t want to admit to them. If you’d like to see Effigy‘s current playlist (or any playlist for any of my other projects), check out the ‘Books‘ link above. It’s far less embarrassing. I think. Maybe.

Anyway, potential embarrassment aside, I use music when I need to get into the right headspace. When I go on long walks or drives, I will listen to the playlist for the WIP with which I’m struggling. There’s a character in Second Nature with whom I was having a hard time until I listened to the Alice In Chains song Down In A Hole. For whatever reason, that song clicked with me and that character so I listened to it approximately five hundred times in a row (probably an underestimate) and was able to get myself over that particular hurdle.

I also have a non-WIP specific playlist actually called “Mood Music” that is made up of instrumental music—some classical, some from movie and television soundtracks. Sometimes (most times) I like some form of noise when I work, and instrumental music can help me focus without distracting me with pesky things like lyrics.

I don’t know if any of that really counts as having a ritual. But either way that’s as close as I can get to one.

Look at that. You got a ramble instead of a rant.

Any rituals you care to share? Does music play a part in your creative process? Any song/artist suggestions for me? I’m always on the lookout for new tunes.

Hope everyone’s safe and well. Take care, y’all.

The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same (An IWSG Post)

It’s the first Wednesday of the month, which means it’s time for another action-packed installment of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group!

(I’m assuming that anyone reading is post is already well-versed in the IWSG, but if you’re on the prowl for additional information and/or a complete list of participants, please click on the above link.)

This month’s awesome co-hosts are: Diane Burton, JH Moncrieff, Anna @ Emaginette, Karen @ Reprobate Typewriter, Erika Beebe, and Lisa Buie-Collard.

This month’s (optional) question asks, “In this time, when our world is in crisis with the covid-19 pandemic, how are things in your world?”

So, yeah. It turns out that my lifestyle is best described as ‘social distancing self-quarantine’ because nothing’s really changed all that much. (I am very fortunate to be able to say that, I know, and I am grateful for it.) I’m still an anxiety-ridden introvert who has decided to take on too many projects in an attempt to keep from worrying about things over which she has absolutely no control.

For example, I’m working on putting together a video conferencing thingamajig (probably not the proper terminology) for one of the writers groups that I run. (Yes. I run four writers groups in my area. I don’t know how it happened, either.) I’m planning to do some trial runs before the actual meeting date so I can attempt to become slightly more comfortable with the technology. I remain optimistic, however, that no matter how much practice I do, I will completely forget how to do everything on the actual day. (I apologize in advance, group!)

I signed up for April’s Camp NaNoWriMo session because I figured if I was going to be staying home and avoiding people even more than I already do, I might as well attempt to use that time to finish up the first draft of Full Circle. The goal is set for 30,000 because I’m honestly not sure if there’s 50,000-words worth of story left to tell. I could be wrong, though. It’s hard to be sure. I think I’ve traumatized my characters to the breaking point. Seriously, one of them has just been sitting at a table, staring into the abyss, for, like, a month now, and I can’t get him to do anything else. I would tell him that things were going to get better, but he’s gone through two and a half books with me so far. He knows exactly how much of a lie that would be.

I’m working on a manuscript critique for a writer acquaintance (a post-apocalyptic novel, actually, which feels a little too timely these days…). He also asked me to review a short story he had written for a contest.

And last, but not least, I’m also working on a read-through of the Terrible Romance Novel in the hopes of getting it to a proofreader-type person in the possibly-not-so-distant future. I had pretty much decided to stick that story in a drawer, but my niece texted me over the weekend to ask how much longer it would be before that book was published because she really wants a copy, and in doing so managed to shame me into pulling the manuscript back out of the drawer because I love my nieces and nephews and would do anything for them. Even write a terrible romance novel.

So yeah. I now have entirely too much to do, but at least that’s a pressure/anxiety I kind of sort of know how to deal with a little bit. Maybe. In theory.

On a slightly more serious note, I hope everyone’s doing all right out there. Please, please, please take care of yourselves. Love to all.

A Picture’s Worth 1000 Words (An IWSG Post)

It’s the first Wednesday of the month, which means it’s time for another action-packed installment of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.

If you’re looking for more information and/or a complete list of participants, please click on the above link.

This month’s co-hosts are Lee Lowery, Ronel Janse van Vuuren, Jennifer Hawes, Cathrina Constantine, Tyrean Martinson.

This month’s (optional) question asks, “Has a single photo or work of art ever inspired a story? What was it, and did you finish it?”

If you’re talking about something like Tracy Chevalier’s novel Girl With A Pearl Earring, then the answer is no.

But that is not to say that I have never been inspired by photos and/or artwork that embodies whatever mood I’m trying to get across for a certain character or scene. Because I certainly have.

I like creating aesthetic boards for my projects. There’s usually one on my storyboard, plus a few on Pinterest, and I add to them any time I come across an image that strikes my fancy. Below is an older photo of the aesthetic board for my fantasy series. (It’s since been altered to make room for other things.)

But there is a piece of artwork that did help inspire certain storylines early on in Effigy’s creation. It’s called Meeting on the Turret Stairs by Frederic William Burton. Painted in 1864, it’s said to represent a medieval Danish ballad about a pair of ill-fated lovers.

I didn’t know the backstory when I first came across the image printed on a card in a stationary store in Montréal. I was just walking by when it caught my eye. Approximately five second later, the creative juices were flowing.

The rest, as they say, is history.

I guess one never knows when or where inspiration will find us or where it will lead. Always good to be open to it, though.

Have you been inspired by artwork? Do you have a propensity for creating aesthetic boards? Addicted to Pinterest? Tell me below…

(One last thing…I ranted about calmly discussed updates in my last post, and they’re continuing to irritate me. Even though I centered all of the images used in today’s post, the whatever has decided it doesn’t care. Sigh.)