The Worried Writer Episode #24: Gillian McAllister ‘I write everything down’

Gillian McAllister My guest in this episode is Gillian McAllister. Gillian’s debut thriller Everything But The Truth is out on 9 March 2017 from Penguin and she is represented by Clare Wallace at the Darley Anderson Agency. I was lucky enough to receive an advance copy of Everything But The Truth and it is an absolutely cracking read. It’s a twisty, compelling, domestic thriller and I highly recommend it.

I spoke to Gillian last year and it was really interesting to talk about the post-deal, pre-publication phase.

For more on Gillian and her writing, head to her website, or find her on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

In the introduction, I give a quick personal update: I finished the Worried Writer book! Last month I put out a call for beta readers and was bowled over by the response. Thank you so much to all of you who offered, the list is now full. I’m sending out the manuscript this week (eep!).

One of the really positive things about doing a project like this is that it’s given my brain a break from writing fiction. I felt empty after finishing the latest draft of Beneath The Water and it was nice to change gears for a while. Predictably, I’m missing fiction again, now, and am looking forward to diving into a new novel.

Also, I mention that I have (finally!) set up a page on Facebook for the podcast. Please head over and give it a quick ‘like’ if you are so inclined… I would really appreciate it!

Let me know the kind of content you’d like to see there, too. I’m considering recording some Q&A videos or perhaps a wee tour of my latest planner system. Let me know on the FB page or in the comments section below. Or, of course, drop me an email.

As always, I welcome your feedback and questions!

In the interview:

On always writing:

‘I’ve had reams of diaries and lists and I write everything down it’s the way I organise my thoughts.’

On the road to publication:

‘I think when you get an agent you think ‘that’s it’ and I was quite emotionally unprepared for rejection… It was just awful.’

 

And on the adjustment post-deal:

‘I still sometimes wake up and I’m in the old mindset of ‘is my book ever going to sell?’ and then I remember and I’m like, my God, that happened … I’m actually just really relieved because it was such a cause of anxiety and strife for me as I had never wanted anything as badly as I wanted a publishing deal.’

Advice on submission hell:

‘I think somewhere deep in my brain I felt as though if I checked email enough I would get a publishing deal and that is an incorrect thought!’

Gillian is a full-time lawyer. On fitting writing into a busy life:

‘One of the biggest things was getting a MacBook and being able to write in moments where I’m not so busy. Like if I’m on the train and there is a delayed train for twenty minutes I don’t lose the time, I can open the MacBook and write and I’ve kind of taught myself to do that.’

 

On the difficulties of writing:

‘I do a first draft and I’m quite gung ho about it and then at the end of it I think… Oh, okay, this should have happened or it’s actually about this…’

On the psychology of getting published:

‘My mental health for the three months after I sold was very wobbly… It was actually about control and feeling like this was all I ever wanted but it’s hard sometimes… I had been worrying for two years about getting published and I had all these neural pathways… I remember actively worrying that I wasn’t as happy as I should be until my boyfriend said ‘that’s insane’.’

 

Thanks so much for listening! If you have a moment, please leave a rating on iTunes or share the podcast.

Also, I will be giving out a limited number of review copies of the Worried Writer book in March.

If you want to be first to hear about the book (and be in with a chance of scoring a free copy), please sign up here.

Thank you! 

 

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The Worried Writer Episode #15: A.J. Waines ‘I love deadlines’

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Alison Waines publishes fiction under the name A.J.Waines and has sold over 150,000 books worldwide. Last year, she topped the UK and Australian Kindle bestseller charts with her number one hit Girl On A Train, and was also awarded the Kindle KDP Top 20 ‘Most Read Author’ in the UK. Alison used to work as a psychotherapist before publishing her dark psychological crime fiction, and she is a hybrid author, straddling both traditional and self-publishing.

For more about Alison head to www.ajwaines.co.uk or find her on Twitter or Facebook.


The Self-Esteem Journal by Alison Waines
I’m giving away a copy of Alison’s non-fiction title, The Self-Esteem Journal, as I think it could be useful for those struggling with creative self-doubt, as well as more general lack of confidence.

To be in with a chance of winning, just leave a comment on this post, or send me an email (sarah (at) worriedwriter.com) with the subject ‘win’.*

In this episode, I give a personal writing update, as well as share the news about In The Light of What We See (it’s been a wonderful first month of publication, with 99 five-star reviews on Amazon, already – whoop!).

I also mention brain.fm which uses AI-generated music to promote focus, relaxation and sleep. Although initially sceptical, I have tried the ‘for focus’ music and it seem to improve my concentration.

I heard about brain.fm via Mark Dawson’s new podcast (which is excellent) – Self Publishing Formula.

If you have a writing (or publishing) question that you’d like me to tackle in a future episode, please get in touch via email or Twitter.

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

 


Alison reveals what it was like when a high-profile thriller was released with a title which is almost-identical to her own (already published) book.

Alison describes her journey into both traditional and independent publishing and her experiences with both:

‘One of the nice things about being hybrid is that for some of the books I have complete control over everything and I really enjoy that.’

 

 

Alison’s writing process:

‘I love deadlines!’

‘Never leave at the end of a chapter or a scene… I always want to put something that just triggers where I am for the next time I am back at my desk.’

On marketing:

‘People should play to their strengths.’

On fear:

‘I always come back to that awful terror of I can’t do this.’

Alison’s Recommendations:


On Writing by Stephen King


Wild Mind by Natalie Goldberg


The Artists Way Julia Cameron


Life Choices Life Changes Diana Glouberman

 

Please spread the word and, if you can spare the time, leave a rating for the show on iTunes. I truly appreciate your support.

Thank you for listening! 

*Giveaway is open internationally. Ends at midnight (GMT), 25th May 2016.

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Confessions Of A Worried Writer: Fear of Finishing!

Confessions of a Worried Writer: Fear of Finishing

I’m very comfortable talking about writerly fears because, a lot of the time, I have the pleasant feeling that I have overcome (or learned to navigate) them. I think, ‘Oh yes, I used to suffer with that, but now I recognise it and don’t let it stop me.’ Or, I kid myself that because I have read several books on the subject and talked about it on the podcast, I Must Be Immune.

You know they say pride comes before a fall?

Yes. Friends, I must confess: Over the last month or so I have fallen Big Style. And not a sweet, lady-like little stumble, either, but a slapstick my-face-in-a-muddy-puddle trip.

I have been saying to anyone and everyone that ‘I’m stuck’. That I ‘don’t know how my book ends’. That I ‘need to do lots of thinking. And some more research.’

And I believed every word.

fear of finishing the bookYesterday, however, I had a realisation… I was just scared of finishing the book.

All of the elements are there in sketchy form, and I do know the ending (and have known it for ages), I’m just putting off writing it. I’m scared to get to The End.

Why?

If I finish the book, I have to send it to my agent to be read. Argh!

What’s the real fear, there? My agent, after all, is a very supportive and wise individual. It’s not as if she is going to send me hate-mail or show up on my doorstep with a rifle. No, the fear is that I’d be unmasked as a fraud and a failure.  That the Powers would take back my author badge and I’d have to get a real job.

The fears which, when examined, are daft.

Yes, the book might suck. My agent might say ‘this doesn’t work’ and that will feel awful, but it will be solvable. I will be able to rewrite the book to make it better or write something different.

And the fact is, either of those ‘worst case’ outcomes are preferable to this on-going ‘stuckness’ in which I either stare at the WIP with mounting panic or avoid opening the document at all. (And then feel terrible and like a huge failure and moan about how hard it is to my long-suffering family…)

The good news is this: As soon as I realised what my problem was (and that it was, as is Almost Always The Case, fear-based), that fear lost a bit of its power.

I know what I have to do and I’m going to do it. I won’t let the fear of finishing stop me as, luckily enough, my terror of Not Finishing is even bigger.

How about you? Have you ever suffered from ‘fear of finishing’? Head to the comments with your words of wisdom/personal experience/questions! 

[Image credit: FreedigitalPhotos.net]

 

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Are You Afraid of Success?

Fear of Success

You’re probably familiar with ‘fear of failure’ – it’s one of those anxieties which makes perfect sense. Failing is bad, right? So, it’s natural that we would wish to avoid it.

But what about the opposite of failure? What about fearing success?

If you think about what success means, it’s not that odd… Success means change.

Most of us are a little bit worried about change as it carries an element of risk. The risk comes from moving from the known to the unknown. Yes, we might be able to research or even picture the situation, but until we have lived it for ourselves it remains essentially unknown.

Change is effectively a gamble that the new state of being will be better than our current one and, even with very low stakes, that can add a frisson of fear.

Success in the realm of writing brings its own concerns.

While dreaming of people reading your work, you may simultaneously dread the exact same thing. Not just because you fear your work may be judged harshly or misunderstood, but because it may be understood too well. What if people read your book and infer things about your character you would prefer remained hidden?

Success in writing equals exposure. And, let’s face it, that is scary.

Success in publishing also brings new pressures. Deadlines, the expectations of agents, editors and readers, the pressure to ‘build a platform’ and promote your work. If you envisage these things too thoroughly – and feel alarmed by them – they may rise up to block you from sending your manuscript out (or even finishing it in the first place).

Finally, and this one is a biggie: You might feel you do not ‘deserve’ success.

I’m not suggesting that this one is easily solved, but sometimes recognising (and examining) a negative thought can lessen its power.

Also, if you feel that you don’t deserve success, that you are unworthy of prioritising your writing or getting published, please know you are not alone. There is even a snappy name for it: Imposter Syndrome.

This is the feeling that your achievements (getting a book contract, a great part in a play, starting a successful business) have been acquired via an administrative error and, any moment now, the real experts/professionals/Judges of Artistic Merit are going to turn up and take it all away from you.

It’s a feeling which doesn’t go away with external validation – in fact it can get worse the more successful you become. So, the best thing to do is to keep reminding yourself that all of your most-beloved authors, musicians, actors and artists have almost-certainly suffered from it at some point (and probably still do).

Plus, if nobody feels like the ‘real deal’ you can stop waiting for that magical day and get back to work.

Are you letting ‘fear of success’ hold you back? Let me know if you want more on this topic in a future podcast!

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