I’ve been struggling with the book I’m working on, and it has me thinking a lot about my fear of failure. (If you prefer a video version of this post, I talk about my fear of failure here on my YouTube Channel.)
I try to keep my thoughts positive, but it’s not always easy. That fear of failure is pretty strong in me. I’m trying to work through it and get out of my way because it’s definitely not doing me any favors. There’s never been a time when I’ve sat down and thought, “Whew, I’m so glad I doubted myself.”
Often, if I share my doubts, people will say, “What’s the worst that could happen?” I can come up with a lot of answers to that question. Long detailed answers. Not necessarily realistic, mind you, but DETAILED.
There are a few ways I’ve been trying to work through this lately.
The first is setting goals that I break down into really small goals. I’ve talked a little bit more about my goal setting in one of my YouTube videos.
But basically, if I can consistently take even tiny steps toward my bigger goal, I feel good about it.
FIND ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNERS
I’ve also found people around me who can hold me accountable. It can be so easy for me to change my personal due dates. Of course, there are valid reasons to change that due date. A family emergency. An alien invasion. Anxiety over a global pandemic that messes with your productivity.
But I don’t always have a valid reason when I change my due dates, which is where accountability partners come in.
It helps me to have people in my life who know what I’m trying to accomplish so they can encourage me to actually get it done.
One thing note is that even if you’re unable to meet with accountability partners in person, there are many ways to virtually meet with people. Jump on a video call and have virtual writing time or chat about your goals. Zoom, Skype, and Facebook all have options for video chats.
I usually meet with a writing group every week, and they’re amazing for many reasons. One is that I love to hear other people read their writing. I find it really inspiring. Another reason is when I tell them my goals, they’ll ask ‘Hey, how’s that going?” and if I say, “Not well,” they can say, “What’s going on? You can do this!”
Sometimes when I’m sitting alone at my computer, I’ll write something and then think, “haha, that’s so funny!” But I’m not sure if anyone else will find me as funny as I find myself. If I read it aloud to people, and they laugh at the right parts, I know at least someone else finds it funny! It’s good to have that validation.
I also have a writer friend I meet with every week. We’ll just write together and talk about writing, and she doesn’t let me make excuses. If I say I want to do something, but I have doubts, she pretty much tells me, “No excuses. You just gotta do it.” Sometimes that’s exactly what I need to hear. And she’ll even give me writing due dates so I’m accountable to her as well as myself. That’s really helpful.
I do some work as a developmental editor, and I help other writers set due dates to reach their goals. There’s sometimes something about getting that information and that structure from someone who doesn’t have the same reservations you have about your own work. So while you may be thinking, “Can I get this done?” They can say, “Yup, you can, and here’s how to do it.”
IMAGINE THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCCESS
Finally I”m trying to focus on the possibility of success versus the fear of failure. Just picturing the, “What if this does work?” instead of the “What if this doesn’t?” can be really powerful. It’s kind of like that dreaded interview question (but more fun because you’re not in a job interview and you can let your imagination run wild). Where do you see yourself in one year, five years, ten years?
I think, “What if everything I want DOES work out?” It maybe won’t work out exactly how I imagine it, but that doesn’t mean I SHOULDN’T imagine it.
Because really, the world isn’t watching and waiting for my failures, so what am I so afraid of?
Do you ever struggle with that fear of failure? How do you work through it? Let me know in the comments down below!
As you may know by now, I love books with family, romance, and FOOD!
That’s why, when I came across The Summer at the Comfort Food Cafe, I bought it immediately.
I was five pages in when I went out and bought the rest of Debbie Johnson’s books.
It’s that good!
There are more books in the series, and all of them are wonderful. This one is my favorite though. Probably because it was my first encounter with the author, and I wasn’t expecting all the humor and warm fuzzies that the book offered.
I’m going to include a warning to everyone. I read parts of this book in public. At one point, I was sobbing. Yes, sobbing. So for that reason, I recommend you read this in the privacy of your own home, or at least be prepared for strangers to stare as you use the pages of the book to dry your tears.
But seriously, I highly recommend this book! (Don’t worry, there are a lot of laugh out loud moments too!!)
My fourth grade teacher introduced me to The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles. She would read it to us after recess.
I loved it so much that once she finished it, I bought a copy and read it again and again.
It’s by Julie Edwards Andrews. I was very obsessed with The Sound of Music as a kid. Many of the more serious themes of the movie went right over my head, but I loved Brigitta, and I often wished that my parents would have had more children (and that I could actually sing worth a hoot) so we could have formed a singing group.
This book is so much fun! Even though it’s geared towards a younger audience, it’s still a really enjoyable read as an adult!
I first read The Nanny when I was living in England on a temporary work visa after I graduated from college.
After work, I would go to my favorite coffee shop and read. There were tables by the windows upstairs. It was the perfect perch to watch the bustling activity outside. Getting lost in stories was the best way to keep homesickness at bay.
The Nanny was my first Melissa Nathan book, but not my last. I searched the charity shops until I found every one of her books.
Sadly, the author passed away from breast cancer. She wrote several lovely romantic comedies, and I highly recommend all of them.
After several months of thinking, planning, and panicking – I posted my first video!
Setting up the channel was easier than I thought.
I created a channel header on Canva. I use Canva to make a lot of promotional graphics for my books. Since I’m no graphic designer (though I know an amazing one, if you ever need one!), some of the things that I’ve created have never seen the light of day (and a few that I have posted maybe should have stayed in the deep dark “never use” folder). But they provide an option for YouTube Channel Art that makes it easy to create the perfect size image.
After I uploaded my channel art and a picture of my face, it was time to film the video.
I have an inexpensive microphone and ring light that also holds my phone. I set them up in a corner of the basement so they would be out of the way, and I could leave them up all the time. I want to make it as easy as possible to record videos.
I had an outline of what I wanted to say (as a writer, I love a good outline). But for my 3 minute and 43 second video, I probably have at least 30 minutes of footage. I would forget what I was saying mid-sentence or my chair would make a funny sound (it was the chair, I promise!).
So editing turned out to be the hard part as I sorted through trying to find where I actually said what I wanted to say.
I used iMovie to edit because it’s already on my computer and pretty easy to figure out. I think it has a lot more features than I used, but I’m learning.
I also made my thumbnail using Canva. I pulled a screenshot from the video, added some text, and voila!
I think the whole process will become a little easier and faster over time. For me, just getting the first video out there was a huge success.
I’m excited to make more videos! Please subscribe to my channel if you want to be notified when I post a new video!
Do you have a YouTube channel, or are you thinking about starting one? Please share in the comments below!
I know faster isn’t always better, but I keep getting stuck in these drafts. I type fast. Often faster than my brain works, but I freeze up. I nitpick over small details.
No, it doesn’t matter if she’s baking blueberry or blackberry pie. I constantly have to remind myself – you can always change it in the next draft!
So that’s why I’ve become fascinated with techniques on writing fast.
Get it done, then revise!
Here are 3 Tips for Writing Faster –
1. Word sprints – I set a timer and then write, write, write! I don’t let my fingers stop typing until the time is up. I’ve had mixed results with this.
Sometimes I feel like I’m Lorelai from that Christmas episode of Gilmore Girls (“Monkey, monkey, underpants” anyone?)
But sometimes I’m pleasantly surprised by the ideas that pop out when I don’t edit myself.
I usually set a timer for 20 minutes, but if I can push myself to do 30 minutes, I sometimes can get 1,000 words down.
2. Outline – You know that dreaded moment when you don’t know what happens next? That’s usually when I wander onto social media, or decide that it’s SUPER IMPORTANT that I get a load of laundry done IMMEDIATELY! (At least I’m a neat procrastinator, right?)
A complete outline can help prevent those “what happens next?” moments.
Some people worry about stifling creativity, but an outline is a living document – ready for change at a moment’s notice. I’m on my fifth outline for the current Magic Pie Shop book. (I’ll probably need to practice fast outlining techniques next!)
A good outline is valuable because you can plan your writing day by seeing which scenes or chapters you want to write. It’s also a great way to see your story arc.
3. Directed daydreaming – When I’m walking my dogs, or taking a shower, or doing that laundry I so love, I think about my story.
As writers, we’re probably already good at daydreaming.
But when I take all that imaginative energy and focus it on the next chapter I’m going to write, it can be a really productive use of my time. I can get excited about the characters and the scene. Sometimes I identify plot holes and how to fix them. That way, when I sit down at my keyboard, I’m ready to go full speed.
What are your tips for writing faster? Please comment down below!
I work seasonally as a parking lot striper. It’s a wonderful, but sometimes exhausting and unpredictable, job. Now that the snow has fallen here, I am fully focused on my writing projects and freelance work. I freelance as a developmental editor, and I’m taking on new clients now. If you know anyone who is looking for a developmental editor, send them my way!
Book three feels like it’s taken a long time (probably because it has). I’m so close to wrapping it up now, I can almost taste it — and it tastes like blueberry pie!
December is also the month I begin to plot out my goals for the next year. I’m very excited about 2020. I have a feeling it’s going to be a wonderful year. I think this time I’m going to set both monthly and seasonal goals (with maybe a couple of daily goals sprinkled in).
I’m still working out what all of my goals will be, but I already know that one of my big goals will be to complete two manuscripts next year. I’m posting it here, so I have to do it. There are no take-backs once it’s up on the blog.
Comment down below, I’d love to hear from you! How do you set goals? What are your goals for 2020?
A couple days ago, I experienced that magical moment when an unknown box shows up at the doorstep. I got to hold a copy of A Slice of Christmas Magic! I don’t think this wonderful feeling will ever get old.
As writers, we often spend our time alone with our imagination – which is wonderful, don’t get me wrong – but every now and then it helps to talk to a living, breathing being. And yes, I mean our pets.
As I’m typing this, my dog is sleeping next to me. She’s snoring so loudly, I’m longing for a nap of my own. This might be a case where she’s not actually helping me improve my productivity…
My dog has listened to me go off on angry spiels about the terrible thing my characters are doing to each other and excited a-ha moments that leave her wagging her tail and hoping for a treat. (For the record, I do sometimes reward my dog with a treat when I make a major breakthrough because she helped me get there with her patient listening and well-timed snuggles.)
Talking through plot problems out loud can be a huge help. Or sometimes when I’m feeling stuck, I serenade my dog with my made-up song, “What Should I Write Next?” She usually only lasts through the first verse before seeking shelter in a quieter part of the house.
Do you have a pet? Does your pet help or hinder your productivity? Share in the comments below!
Let me start by saying, I really do love sticky notes. I use them all the time for notes, plotting, and random doodles. At this very moment, my office space is covered with colorful reminders courtesy of sticky notes.
But as I edited book 2 (A Slice of Christmas Magic, coming out later this year, eeek) I discovered a new helpful tool – spreadsheets.
I originally wrote the first two book in the Magic Pie Shop series in quick succession. The details of the characters and the setting stayed (mostly) clear in my mind. Then there was a gap between the time they went off to my editor and the time I was editing them, and some of those details I thought I’d never forget had faded.
I started making notes. Notes on my outline, notes on my characters. What color were Lena’s eyes again? How many tables did the pie shop have?
These notes got lost in pages of a notebook and sticky notes that fell off the wall, and I still struggled to find the information I was looking for. Then even when I did find it, I sometimes struggled to read my own handwriting. Does anyone else have handwriting that’s really neat when you’re focused, but looks like a full on toddler’s scribble fest when you get excited and write quickly? I knew I had to try something different.
I started keeping track on a spreadsheet.
Not only were my notes legible, but I could also cut and paste lines directly from the manuscript. I kept separate tabs for the main characters, supporting characters, and settings.
The plot tab was really helpful – especially when editing. I put each chapter in its own column and filled each cell in the column with scene notes. I was able to see where additional scenes would work. Then I highlighted the added scenes so I would know that I still had to write them.
If I were to do it again, I would start a spreadsheet as soon as I began writing book 1. It would have definitely saved me some time. I’m always exploring different writing techniques so I can figure out what process works best for me (check out my post 5 Ways to Get Unstuck in Your Writing), and keeping notes on a spreadsheet is something I highly recommend – especially if you’re writing a series.
Do you keep notes when you write? Where do you keep them – notebooks, sticky notes, chalkboards, spreadsheets, somewhere else? Share in the comments below!