The Worried Writer Ep#43: Paul Teague ‘Just Keep Going’


My guest today is thriller and science-fiction author, Paul Teague. Paul is a former broadcaster and journalist for the BBC and he has transferred those skills to his fabulous podcast, Self Publishing Journeys.

One of the reasons I wanted to have Paul on the show is his refreshing honesty and openness about his own publishing business.

In our chat, he talks about the money he has made and his future plans, as well as revealing the pain of comparing himself to others and his own struggles with self-doubt.

For more on Paul and his books go to PaulTeague.net

To learn more about Paul’s podcast: Self-Publishing-Journeys.com

IN THE INTRODUCTION

In writing news, I am just finishing the rewrites on my new book, The Night Raven.

It is going to the copy-editor next week and will be out this October – meep!

Here is the cover and a little info: It’s the first book in a new London-set paranormal mystery series, featuring private investigator Lydia Crow.

If you like the look of it, perhaps you would like to join my author newsletter? I will let you know when The Night Raven is available and enter your name into my launch giveaway. CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP!

Also, I reveal that I have failed to start my new book project (and have been working on the next book in the Crow Investigations series, instead), but that I’m being kind to myself. It’s been a tough few months, emotionally, and I’m just glad I’m able to write at all!

I talk about my plans to develop my career as a hybrid author – publishing both independently (as I did for Stop Worrying; Start Writing) and with publishers such as Lake Union.

RECOMMENDED

Adam Croft’s book The Indie Author Mindset.

This is a fabulous guide to developing a professional attitude to your writing – something I believe is important whether you are traditionally or independently published.

I also give a shout-out to my new supporters on Patreon. I appreciate my patrons (new and existing!) so very much – THANK YOU!

The next patron-only exclusive extra will go up mid-month and in it I will be answering a question about NaNoWriMo and giving some tips.

For more information on becoming a patron of the show, see The Worried Writer on Patreon.

IN THE INTERVIEW

On writing productivity and schedule:

‘Ever since I was sixteen I’ve been a formulas guy. The only way I can cope with life, really, is to parcel it up… I make meticulous plans.’

‘I don’t do panic. I don’t like surprises.’

‘Time management is a big thing for me… I’m planned out on my weekly planning sheet until December.’

On self-doubt:

‘I was on stage with L.J. Ross who’s just sold zillions of books… And I thoroughly enjoyed it and it was a privilege, but I left feeling deflated.’

‘There’s always somebody who is envious of where you are… But I’m beating myself up because I think I’m rubbish and doing terribly.’

The secret to success:

‘Persistence seems to be the one thing that comes through time and time again – just keep going, just keep getting better, just keep putting the next step forward.’

 

Thanks for listening!

If you can spare a few minutes to leave the show a review on iTunes (or whichever podcast app you use) that would be really helpful. Ratings raise the visibility of the podcast and make it more likely to be discovered by new listeners and included in the charts.

The Worried Writer on iTunes

[Click here for step-by-step instructions on how to rate a podcast on your device]

Also, if you have a question or a suggestion for the show – or just want to get in touch – I would love to hear from you! Email me or find me on Twitter or Facebook.

 

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The Worried Writer Ep#42: Victoria Walters ‘There Was A Lot of Rejection’

My guest today is author and blogger, Victoria Walters. Her debut novel, The Second Love of my Life, saw Victoria labeled an ‘Amazon Rising Star’ and was called ‘Brilliant and superior women’s fiction’ by Heat magazine. Victoria’s new book, Random Acts of Kindness, has being released in a four-part series by Simon & Schuster.

It has just been packaged as a single ebook and given a new title, Summer At The Kindness Cafe, and is out this month. Pre-order here. The paperback is out next year.

We talk about the challenges and benefits of writing in a serial format, Victoria’s road to publication and her writing process.

You can find out more about Victoria and her books at victoria-writes.com or find her on Twitter or Facebook.

IN THE INTRODUCTION

I give an update on my writing life in July, including my writing progress and plans for releasing my new novel in October.

Also, I talk about my decision to accept my own writing process (and my lack of planning/outlining!).

Do let me know if you would like me to talk about how I write novels without outlining.

I also give a shout-out to my new supporters on Patreon (thank you!). The latest audio extra gives tips on creating and naming characters. You can access it, and the previous four extras, for as little as $2 per month.

For more information, see The Worried Writer on Patreon.

LISTENER QUESTION

I answer two questions this month:

Ian Howlett asked:

When you’re in writing mode, how many words do you produce in the average day (if there is such a thing as an average day!)? I’m thinking specifically about non-fiction, since that’s what I write.

Julie Cordiner asked:

Please do you have any tips for how to step back and look holistically at the plot, character arcs and historical setting? I’m getting too close to it! Thank you.

If you have a writing, productivity or publishing question that you’d like me to tackle in a future episode, please get in touch via email or Twitter or leave a comment on this post.

I’ll answer it on the show and credit you (unless, of course, you ask to remain anonymous).

IN THE INTERVIEW

On writing a four-part series:

‘I had about a month to write each part… So that was tricky.’

‘There was always something happening, I either had editing to do or one of the parts was coming out and I had reviews to tweet or whatever. More activity than usual.’

On writing:

‘I’m an only child so a lot of my childhood was using my imagination and making up stories…’

‘I do try to write a bit each day, but I’m not really strict about it… I find that quite stressful, I’d rather write when I’m feeling okay to write. I think when I try to force myself then I just start hate the book I’m writing so I’d rather do it when I’m in the best mood.’

‘I tend to write better in the mornings. By the time it gets to about three o’clock I start to think it’s time for Netflix now, surely!’

‘I don’t have a set wordcount… Some days I might write 1000 words, but some days I’ve written 10,000 words in a day, it all depends on the mood I’m in.’

‘For me, I like to write a first draft and then I edit it afterwards… I’m more productive when I just get it down on paper… Especially when I had these really tight deadlines for the serial, I couldn’t be really perfectionist about it because my editor just needed it.’

On publishing:

‘There was a lot of rejection.’

‘The most challenging part of being a writer is that you really don’t have much control over anything but your writing.’

‘All we can do is write the best book we can write.’

‘More than the self doubt, it’s the uncertainty of the business that worries me.’

 

On self-doubt:

‘Once you start talking to other authors you find out that we all feel the same way.’

‘Sometimes a bit of self-doubt is good… It can motivate you, push you forward a bit… I think I would worry if I started to think I was the best writer in the world.’

Victoria’s writing tips:

‘You’ve got to find what works for you.’

‘Reading is the best kind of learning for a writer.’

‘When I’m stuck, everybody just has a meal.’

 

 

Thanks for listening!

If you can spare a few minutes to leave the show a review on iTunes (or whichever podcast app you use) that would be really helpful. Ratings raise the visibility of the podcast and make it more likely to be discovered by new listeners and included in the charts.

The Worried Writer on iTunes

[Click here for step-by-step instructions on how to rate a podcast on your device]

Also, if you have a question or a suggestion for the show – or just want to get in touch – I would love to hear from you! Email me or find me on Twitter or Facebook.

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The Worried Writer Episode #41: Six Month Progress Report

This episode is a ‘just me’ show. Next month, I’m bringing you an interview with author and blogger, Victoria Walters, but this month I review my 2018 goals.

A massive thank you to everyone who has pledged support for the show on Patreon – I truly appreciate it. There are four exclusive audio extras (with a new one coming mid-July) and you get access to all of that content as soon as you become a $2 per month patron. Head here to find out more. Thank you!

Recommended:

This Author Can

A new resource set up by a friend of this show and past guest, Tracy Buchanan. This Author Can aims to help traditionally published authors to take control of their careers and to increase their book sales. While the focus is for those who are traditionally published (Tracy noticed that there wasn’t much business-focused advice aimed at trad authors), there is plenty useful information for independent authors, too.

Personal news:

I share that I have just got a Russian deal for In The Light Of What We See and talk about refreshing my attitude to fiction writing – reframing it as play. For more, see my blog post on the subject: Is It Time To Hit The Reset Button On Your Writing Life?.

Also, I am still dealing with my sad personal news and am working on getting back on track. I talk about the importance of being kind to myself!

 

 

Update on my goals for 2018:

We are halfway through the year so a good time to take stock and check progress.

Remember that it’s completely fine to update or change your goals – they are a tool to help you achieve what is most important to you, not a document which is set in stone just for the sake of it.

I go through the goals set in my January post: My 2018 Writing Goals.

I was actually really worried about looking over my goals as I’m always so aware of all things I could/should be doing, and how much slower I am at finishing books than many others.

However, I was pleasantly surprised – I have achieved more than I realised.

So. Halfway through the year might feel scary and ‘oh goodness where has the time gone’ but six months is a long time. We all have plenty of time left in 2018 to achieve success. And you get to decide what that looks like to you. Imagine we are in December, rolling down to the Christmas holiday and the end of the year. What do you want be saying? What do you want to have finished or started?

I mention a few tips that have been helping me to refocus:

New keyboard (mechanical) for writing sessions – used alongside the separate log-in on my iMac for ‘writer Sarah’ which helps signal this is a writing session not a general admin, marketing or podcast session.

Focusing on one thing at a time and trying to resist the urge to open lots of documents and browser tabs.

I’ve tried a few writing in café sessions which have been very successful and I’m planning a ‘proper’ retreat in the autumn.

Experimenting with listening to different soundtracks to help me to focus. I’ve used loud music for ages and always create a book soundtrack which I listen to on repeat while writing the book, but while I’ve been finding it hard to concentrate I’ve been trying video game music, film scores, brain.fm and even atmospheric soundtracks – things like crackling fireplaces and weather sounds.

So, goals for second half of 2018:

Continue focus on creative writing. I have finished the current book (hurrah!) and sent it to my first readers, and I want to write another new draft by the end of the year.

However, this doesn’t mean I’m dropping The Worried Writer. Far from it!

I want to carry on helping you, but it’s also super-valuable and helpful to me, too.

Stop Worrying; Start Writing as an online course? Thoughts?

So, I’m also going to write another non-fiction book and I’m also thinking about creating an online course based on Stop Worrying; Start Writing. It would be a series of videos and a private FB group for discussion and support, so that you could jump in and take the course anytime and at your own pace. Let me know what you think – good idea? Bad idea?

What Should I Write Next? Please help!

For my next non-fiction book I’ve got a couple of ideas and I would love your input as to which topic I tackle next. I’ve got two main ideas, but I’m happy to take other suggestions, too!

Hybrid Author

How to publish both traditionally and independently. The pros and cons of each route and why you might choose to have a foot in both camps. Plus, the practicalities of running your career this way.

Book Marketing

Some discussion of the tools available such as targeted advertising through FB and Amazon, but focusing on the strategies and the mindset issues around putting ourselves ‘out there’ and ‘selling’ as well as a bit about money mindset.

Let me know which you are most interested in! 

Also, as ever I would love to hear your questions or suggestion for the show. I’ve had a few requests for more content from pre-published writers and I’m thinking about how best to incorporate that – whether it’s reading out more questions or anecdotes from you guys or interviewing somebody who is trying to finish their first book or similar. Let me know your thoughts if you have any on that.

That feels like a scary amount of work for six months but in a good way. I’ve got a rush of excitement along with the fear so I know I’m on the right track.

How about you? What do you want to get done in the second half of the year? What do you want to have achieved by the end of 2018?

Leave a comment below if you would like some public accountability, but definitely write it down somewhere for yourself.

And let’s all kick writerly butt during the next six months. I want each and every one of us to be celebrating our successes come December 31st.

 

 

Thanks for listening!

If you can spare a few minutes to leave the show a review on iTunes (or whichever podcast app you use) that would be really helpful. Ratings raise the visibility of the podcast and make it more likely to be discovered by new listeners and included in the charts.

The Worried Writer on iTunes

[Click here for step-by-step instructions on how to rate a podcast on your device]

Also, if you have a question or a suggestion for the show – or just want to get in touch – I would love to hear from you! Email me or find me on Twitter or Facebook.

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Is It Time To Hit The Reset Button On Your Writing Life?

[Image credit: Photo by Carmine Savarese on Unsplash]
I don’t know about you, but I need a writer reset.

In Stop Worrying; Start Writing, I spoke about having to re-learn the same techniques, of having to remind myself of truths I had forgotten, and – once again – this has proved to be the case!

I’m sharing my struggles in the hope that it might be helpful. The summer is a classic time to fall off the writerly wagon, and I want you to know that you are not alone; good habits are hard to establish and easy to lose. A regular refresh is not only normal, but necessary.

For myself, however, I’m talking about rather more than a ‘refresh’: I need a total reset.

I would like to blame this on a recent life event which knocked me out of routine, but that wouldn’t be true. I was already in trouble.

While taking control of my own career and seeing writing as a business saved my sanity and gave me back a sense of optimism and energy, it’s also true that it led me into some less-than-helpful thought patterns. Despite knowing better, I fell into the habit of calling my writing ‘work’. I lumped it in with my working-day – a task on my to-do list alongside ‘updating accounts’ and ‘sending out newsletter’.

Now, this approach actually worked very well for a while. There is something to be said for making writing another mundane ‘to do’, no more difficult (or avoidable!) than any other appointment on my schedule. It’s also good, I think, to apply that old-fashioned notion of a ‘work ethic’ to writing or any other creative endeavour.

Where it stopped working for me was when it stopped working for me… I know that seems obvious, but it wasn’t to me!

Things change. Mind-games that work for months or years can suddenly stop being effective.

Where I went wrong was in ignoring that this had happened and soldiering on with my old habits of thought and routine, even as I got ever-diminishing results.

And, over time, with countless thoughts like ‘I must get on with some work this morning’ and ‘I need 3000 words a day to hit my goal, I must work harder’ and ‘I worked really hard yesterday, I can take time off today’, I equated writing fiction – my love and escape – with work. Hard work. Something difficult and draining which required treats and time off to recover from.

Now, as I’ve already said, this approach can work really well. I’ve long been a fan of mini-rewards and treats to keep my writing life on track. The key different lies, however, in semantics. When I reward myself for 1000 words written with a cup of tea and an episode of Jessica Jones, it can either be framed as a mental ‘high five’, a way of introducing positivity and small ‘wins’ throughout the long slog of a novel.

Or it can be a signal to your brain that you deserve a treat because you just did something awful and boring.

I’ve discovered that the second interpretation can sneak up and sandbag your motivation.

So. What am I doing to hit the reset button?

Taking my own advice (I also mention this as a tip in SWSW – I’d just forgotten to use it!) and stopping referring to writing fiction as ‘work’.

Everything else – this post, replying to emails, sending out my newsletter, running ads, doing my accounts, making the podcast – all of that is ‘work’. Work I enjoy, luckily enough, but work nonetheless. Writing fiction, however, is to be rebranded ‘play’.

More accurately, writing is going back to its original branding… From back before I was published.

Writing was my passion and my joy, my escape and my dream.

Yes, it was something I worried about (and avoided from fear), but it burned brightly in my secret heart. I need to remind myself of that.

I am re-reading favourite books from childhood and my teenage years and spending time every day writing long-hand in my journal – connecting with my younger self.

I’m referring to fiction writing as ‘play’ and correcting myself when I slip up and call it ‘work’.

I’m (trying!) to remove all guilt associated with not getting ‘enough’ writing done and focusing instead on spending time on it. Instead of thinking ‘I must get 1000 words written’ I’m thinking ‘I get to play for two hours this morning’.

How about you? How are your writing habits? Are they serving you well or do you need a writer reset? 

 

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The Worried Writer Episode#40: Cressida McLaughlin ‘You Have To Love The Story’

 

Cressida McLaughlin writes feel-good romances for Harper Collins, including the bestselling The Canal Boat Cafe and The Once in a Blue Moon Guesthouse. Cressida’s latest series is called The House of Birds and Butterflies and is being released in four parts in ebook format before the paperback arrives this summer.

You can find out more about Cressida and her books at CressidaMcLaughlin.com

Or find her on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

 

IN THE INTRODUCTION

I give an update on my own writing… It’s been a very tough month for personal reasons, but I am getting back to work and planning to finish my WIP in June.

Also, I’m still on submission for my supernatural thriller, so fingers crossed I will have some news to share on that front soon.

In more positive news, Writers’ Forum magazine featured me (and The Worried Writer) in the latest edition, and I got sent lovely flowers and tea-related goodies by Lake Union to celebrate selling 50,000 copies of In The Light of What We See. I wish I could tell ‘2011 Sarah’ who was seriously considering giving up the pursuit of publishing… Huzzah!

 

 

LISTENER QUESTION

Marie Madigan, a longtime listener and patron of the show (thanks, Marie!) asked:

When you’ve finished a first draft, how do you tackle self-editing to get it into shape for submission, whether to an editor or your agent? In particular, how do you do this without letting the critical editor side go too far, and maybe strip out what makes your voice and novel unique?

I also give a shout-out to my lovely new patrons and a quick reminder that you can join my Patreon community and get access to the mid-month audio extras:  The Worried Writer on Patreon. Thanks!

If you have a writing, productivity or publishing question that you’d like me to tackle in a future episode, please get in touch via email or Twitter or leave a comment on this post.

I’ll answer it on the show and credit you (unless, of course, you ask to remain anonymous).

IN THE INTERVIEW

Cressida on the pros and cons of the serial model of writing and publishing:

‘Lots of people like to wait for the full thing to come out. I kind of think of it like television boxsets. You get to the end of the episode and there is a cliffhanger and you’re really excited to see what happens next but also, there’s something enjoyable about that sense of anticipation…’

‘Lots of people seem to like it and from a publishing point of view I’m very lucky because I get five beautiful covers and five publication days quite close together… It feels like it’s got a more solid lead-up and reviews can start coming in.’

‘From a writing point of view, it’s kind of strange because all of my books with HarperCollins have been published in this way so I’ve never had the experience of publishing a book in one go… When it came to plotting it and planning it, I found that really helpful because as well as the story arc for the whole book, I had it split into four separate parts and I knew I needed to make each part really good and have an arc of its own which meant that there was always lots going on in the book and I wasn’t getting to a point where there was a lull.’

‘It was nerve-wracking but I had planned it really tightly so when it came to writing it I was never sitting there thinking ‘what comes next’… I could be really free and enjoy the actual writing.’

On learning to plan:

‘Mainly a case of gritting it out and just seeing what worked.’

‘I started with a synopsis that was a page long but then I just slowly added bits and built it up over a few weeks.’

‘For me, it was about taking the pressure off myself and thinking you don’t have to have the synopsis done in one day… Just do it, mull it over in your head and build it up as you go along.’

 

Cressida’s schedule:

‘I start about seven in the morning, I work much better early in the morning and I’ll write through till probably about 2pm (with a lunch break as well). I aim for about four to five thousand words a day… And I usually do that four or five days a week if I’m in the first draft or editing thing. I do like to be quite strict with myself in that respect and leave all the peripheral stuff until the afternoon.’

‘When I get into the story I get so enthusiastic about it that I don’t really want to stop. Sometimes I have to drag myself away from the computer.’

On process and procrastination:

‘There are days sometimes when I just sit down and my brain won’t be in it

‘I find if I just open the document and it’s sitting there then I’ll get on with it, but the problem I have is that I won’t always open it…’

‘I just remind myself that actually I’ve written some books and that is quite a big achievement and at some point, I had this problem with the first book and the second book and the third book… And I managed it.’

‘I use Scrivener for my first draft which I find really helpful and that keeps track of word counts and you can see how chapter lengths compare with each other and I find that really useful for getting the balance of the book right.’

‘Quite a lot of the processing happens when you’ve stepped away from the computer or the notebook.’

 

On inspiration:

‘I love women’s fiction, warm romantic reads. One of the books that made me realise I wanted to be a writer was called A Hopeless Romantic by Harriet Evans…It’s a real life fairy tale…I want to create something like this and I want to make readers feel about my characters the way Harriet Evans makes readers feel.’

On being a productive writer:

‘You have to love the story and love the characters – you have to be really invested and engaged.’

 

Recommended:

On Writing by Stephen King

Release The Bats by DBC Pierre

Letters to a Young Writer by Colum McCann

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks for listening!

If you can spare a few minutes to leave the show a review on iTunes (or whichever podcast app you use) that would be really helpful. Ratings raise the visibility of the podcast and make it more likely to be discovered by new listeners and included in the charts.

The Worried Writer on iTunes

[Click here for step-by-step instructions on how to rate a podcast on your device]

Also, if you have a question or a suggestion for the show – or just want to get in touch – I would love to hear from you! Email me or find me on Twitter or Facebook.

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The Worried Writer Episode #39: James Blatch ‘I Live And Die By Whiteboards’

My guest today is James Blatch. James is a co-founder and director of the Self Publishing Formula with bestselling indie superstar, Mark Dawson. SPF offers fantastic training courses for authors on advertising, self-publishing, and book cover design, as well as a brilliant weekly podcast and free ebooks and resources. James is also an author and is working on his debut novel, The Last Flight. We have an interesting chat about the writing process for a first book, the pressures (and benefits) of writing a debut as a visible figure within the indie publishing community and the tips and resources James has found invaluable in getting to this stage.

For more about James and his forthcoming book, head to JamesBlatch.com or find him on Twitter @JamesBlatch.

The Self Publishing Formula podcast, free resources and courses can all be found at selfpublishingformula.com

IN THE INTRODUCTION

I give an update on my writing this month and admit to falling foul of the ‘fear demon’. On the plus side, once I realised I was scared of finishing the book (because that means showing it to people!), I started to make progress again. Sometimes just recognising the fear is enough to diffuse its power.

LISTENER QUESTION

Maria asked:

How do you get back into a novel project when you’ve been away from it for a while, and your life and your responsibilities have changed?

This is one of two excellent questions from Maria and I answered the other one in my second, Patron-only mini-episode, along with another question from another Patron. If you want access to the mid-month audio extras, consider signing up to support The Worried Writer on Patreon. Thanks!

If you have a writing, productivity or publishing question that you’d like me to tackle in a future episode, please get in touch via email or Twitter or leave a comment on this post.

I’ll answer it on the show and credit you (unless, of course, you ask to remain anonymous).

IN THE INTERVIEW

James’s writing routine:

‘I try to maintain a family balance… But somewhere in there I’m going to have to find more time to write my book.

On motivation:

‘London Book Fair is always a good boost for me… As soon as I get there I feel like I should hand a card out to explain where I am with my book as I get asked about it so much.’

‘I live and die by whiteboards.’

‘I use a word count target and it goes onto the whiteboard and it gets crossed off and if it doesn’t get crossed off then a little piece of me inside dies.’

On writing ‘in public’:

‘People reading it… That’s the bit that worries me! That people will read it and say ‘what’s all the fuss about, this guy can’t write.’

‘I’m big enough and ugly enough to cope with the bit of glare that there is on me… So I’m fine, really, and I’m using it positively.’

On Dan Brown’s plotting:

‘He very cleverly makes sure the reader is ahead of him. The reader has worked things out two or three pages ahead and there’s a trick to that.’

On shifting from journalism to fiction:

‘I want to tell people what’s happening but that’s not what you do in a novel… I keep giving it away, which is why the plotting is important.’

‘I’m learning the craft and it’s not obvious, is it? You might think it is, it might look easy from the outside but it isn’t…’

On doing the interviews for SPF:

‘Every week I learn something.’

 

Recommended:

James rates author and teacher Joan Dempsey for revision advice and recommends her online course.

Joan was also a guest on the SPF podcast in episode 88.

The Story Grid by Shawn Coyne

The Bestseller Experiment podcast

Novel Factory software for writing (free trial available)

 

 

 

Thanks for listening!

If you can spare a few minutes to leave the show a review on iTunes (or whichever podcast app you use) that would be really helpful. Ratings raise the visibility of the podcast and make it more likely to be discovered by new listeners and included in the charts.

The Worried Writer on iTunes

[Click here for step-by-step instructions on how to rate a podcast on your device]

Also, if you have a question or a suggestion for the show – or just want to get in touch – I would love to hear from you! Email me or find me on Twitter or Facebook.

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