The Worried Writer Episode 13: Mel Sherratt ‘You have to face that fear’

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My guest today is bestselling author Mel Sherratt. Mel writes gritty crime dramas and, as her alter ego Marcie Steele, romantic comedies. Since 2012 she has published ten novels and she has sold over half a million books. Mel started out as a self-publishing sensation when she released her first crime thriller, Taunting The Dead, as an indie author. Within six weeks it hit the Kindle top ten and was number one in Police Procedurals. Mel has since released two more books featuring DS Allie Shenton from Taunting The Dead, four books in The Estate Series and a standalone psychological thriller called Watching Over You.


We discuss daily routine, the importance – and difficulty – of staying healthy as a full-time author, and the how perseverance wins the day. It took Mel twelve years before she became an overnight success and I think her story is both reassuring and inspirational.

 

Find out more about Mel and her books at Amazon or melsherratt.co.uk or find her on Twitter @writermels.

In the interview:

Mel on getting help with research for her police procedurals and how she turned her lack of police experience to an advantage by focusing on the point of view of the criminals and victims.

‘On the third one I think I’d realised that yes, maybe I can do this, it’s just storytelling… It isn’t write what you know, it’s write what you can go and find out and make sure it’s good.’

 

On feeling the fear but self-publishing anyway…

‘I put my women’s fiction out as a guinea pig first. So Marcie Steele I kept a secret for three years.’

 

On routine:

‘If I don’t do it first thing in the morning I will be the worst procrastinator.’

 

And fear:

‘You have to face that fear and you have to get up everyday and face that fear.’

‘I think my self doubt will always be there and I think that’s a good thing. It keeps you grounded.’

 

Books recommended:


Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert


Quiet by Susan Cain

Mel also loves to read lots of short ‘how to’ craft books to keep her in the right frame of mind.

Other recommendations:

Mel uses a Fitbit to remind her to move around more often and to help avoid the health problems associated with long periods of sitting still.

Mel and I are both fans of Joanna Penn (The Creative Penn). Check out my interview with Joanna in episode #8.

 

Also in the show, I answer a listener question from Susan Mann (@susankmann on Twitter). 

Susan asked:

‘I’d like to ask how you tackle editing after the first draft. I don’t have a lot of time with work & family life. It’s a daunting task of editing the whole book. Writing bit by bit was easy. But how do you break it down into a re-write that doesn’t seem over whelming?’

I give my answer in the show, but if you have any tips on editing that you would be willing to share, please leave a comment on this post.

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I give an update on my experience trying Headspace (meditation app) and mention (oh so casually!) that my new novel, In The Light of What We See, is out in one month.

Here’s the link to pre-order, just in case you are interested…

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).

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! 

The Worried Writer Episode 12: Mark McGuinness ‘Start with your curiosity’

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Mark McGuinness is a poet, creative coach, and author of non-fiction. As well as coaching individuals and businesses, Mark runs two highly successful websites for creatives, Lateral Action and Wishful Thinking. Mark’s first non-fiction title, Resilience, offers practical ways to deal with two mainstays of the author life: rejection and criticism, while his latest book, Motivation For Creative People, shows the reader exactly how to break down their own barriers to productivity.

Mark has been coaching creative people for twenty years and saw the same issues repeated; resilience, procrastination, lack of motivation, and creative block.

In Motivation For Creative People: How to stay creative while gaining money, fame and reputation (see my review here), Mark describes the different types of motivation and how they can be harnessed to increase productivity and satisfaction.

Find out more about Mark and his books at lateralaction.com. To sign up for Mark’s free creative course on becoming a creative professional head to lateralaction.com/pathfinder

One-on-one coaching is at lateralaction.com/coaching and his poetry is at www.markmcguinness.com

In the interview:

Hypnosis and meditation for unlocking creative block.

How Mark built his confidence through blogging and how the blog led to the book.

On choosing what path to follow:

‘Start with your curiosity.’

‘Your body is your best coach… If you pay attention to your body and your heart, the physical sensations will let you know how strongly attracted you are to it or not.’

On the tension between art and business:

‘I’ve spoken to hundreds of creatives and they all say the same thing. You have ambitions for your career and, yet, as soon as you achieve them or are close to achieving there is this pressure and there is a conflict… But that is normal… It doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with you personally, it’s an occupational hazard.’

Mark talks about the power of focusing entirely on one thing at a time and being

‘Cocooned in the world of an individual chapter’.

He also mentions the benefits of meditation and practical tips such as finding physical/habitual ways of marking out the different states (creative writing state distinct from ‘answering emails’ state for example).

And I ask Mark what he would advise a creative person who feels blocked or has fallen out of love with their work.

Links mentioned:

headspaceappI’ve been using Stay Focused, a free Chrome extension to moderate my internet use. Highly recommended!

Headspace: I’m going to give meditation a try and I have heard good things about this meditation/mindfulness app. I will report back next month on how I get on…

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).

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!

The Worried Writer Episode #10: Miranda Dickinson ‘Remind yourself that it’s fun!’

The Worried Writer Meets Miranda DickinsonMy guest today is Sunday Times bestselling author, Miranda Dickinson. Miranda’s first book, Fairytale of New York, was a massive success and was short-listed for the RNA Novel of the Year award as well as hitting the top ten on the Sunday Times Bestseller list. Over the last six years, Miranda has published another six books, including Welcome To My World and It Started With A Kiss. Her work has been translated into seven languages and has sold almost a million copies.


Miranda’s latest novel is A Parcel For Anna Browne – available now!

(Please note that this and other book links on the site are affiliate links, so I will earn a small commission if you use it to make a purchase. The money goes towards the running costs of podcast.) 

Find out more about Miranda and her books at:

www.miranda-dickinson.com

On Twitter @wurdsmyth (and follow #WriteFoxy for information on Miranda’s inspirational writing days.)

Or watch her vlogs on YouTube

In this interview, Miranda reveals how she combines writing with looking after her daughter, Flo, and offers tips for busy writers.

‘I’m having to learn to be really structured with my time.’

 

We discuss Miranda’s popular ‘Write Foxy’ inspiration days and the importance of having fun.

‘If you’re not in love with your writing you won’t survive as a writer.’

‘You have to remind yourself that it’s fun and that you can do it.’

 

And the incredible way Miranda pulled herself back to writing when suffering a serious creative slump:

‘For the first time ever I wrote for my readers first and not for me… and because they were so excited, I got excited.’

 

Also, I answer a listener question from Helen Redfern @helenredders

How do I learn to write for just ten minutes? I feel if I don’t have a few hours uninterrupted there’s no point in starting & just doing ten minutes-How do I change that?

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).

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!

 

Episode #07 The Worried Writer: Clodagh Murphy ‘There’s a reason I write fiction…’


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In this episode I talk to author of romantic comedy, Clodagh Murphy, about her writing process, journey to publication and struggles with self-doubt.

Clodagh Murphy has published several romantic comedies including Girl In A Spin, Frisky Business, and Some Girls Do. The Irish Independent called Clodagh ‘An exceptionally talented (and hilarious) Irish writer’.


Find out more about Clodagh’s work at www.clodaghmurphy.com or follow her on Twitter @ClodaghMMurphy

 

Recommended by Clodagh:


The 7 Habits of the Prolific by Hillary Rettig. (Clodagh and I both love this book!).

Freedom software for internet-free work time

Alphasmart – another great way to avoid the internet while writing. Plus, it only lets you see a couple of lines of text at a time which helps you to just plough ahead and not get derailed by reading back over your work.

 

 

Also recommended:

Big Magic – Elizabeth Gilbert’s podcast

The Joined Up Writing podcast. Wayne and Leah were kind enough to recommend The Worried Writer and to invite me onto their show as a guest. Check out my interview here: Banish Self Doubt – interview with Sarah Painter – Joined Up Writing #30.

 

I reveal the title of my next book – podcast exclusive! – and give a writing update.

Also, I answer a listener question from @Maxi_Scribbler on Twitter:

Any chance of a chat on the podcast about finding an agent whether before publication or after and how you found yours?

Thanks so much for the question, Maxi!

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).

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!

 

 

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

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Lovely Keris (check out her inspiring interview in episode #01 The Worried Writer: A Conversation with YA author Keris Stainton) recommended Elizabeth Gilbert’s new podcast, ‘Magic Lessons’, to me and it’s excellent.

I’ve listened to the first two in which she (and her guest Cheryl Strayed) advise a writer who is struggling with procrastination and feelings of guilt.

The writer worries that spending time and energy on her creative work takes something away from her children, which is definitely something I identify with… Elizabeth Gilbert and Cheryl Strayed are incredibly encouraging and wise, and I’m really looking forward to the rest.


I’ve also pre-ordered Gilbert’s new book – Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear.

Here’s the blurb:

Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration from Elizabeth Gilbert’s books for years. Now, this beloved author shares her wisdom and unique understanding of creativity, shattering the perceptions of mystery and suffering that surround the process – and showing us all just how easy it can be.

By sharing stories from her own life, as well as those from her friends and the people that have inspired her, Elizabeth Gilbert challenges us to embrace our curiosity, tackle what we most love and face down what we most fear.

Whether you long to write a book, create art, cope with challenges at work, embark on a long-held dream, or simply to make your everyday life more vivid and rewarding, Big Magic will take you on a journey of exploration filled with wonder and unexpected joys.

Sounds good, right?

Episode #06 The Worried Writer: Lani Diane Rich ‘Claim Your Awesome!’

ww_ep6_lani_imageJoin me for an energising chat with New York Times and USA Today best-selling author, podcaster extraordinaire, and inspirational writing teacher, Lani Diane Rich.

Lani writes funny romantic books and, under the pen name Lucy March, magical contemporary fiction. She has eleven books published and runs a creative business helping other writers, Storywonk, with her husband Alastair Stephens.

forloveormoneyFind out more about Lani at www.lanidianerich.com or visit www.storywonk.com

Or, find Lani on Twitter: @LaniDianeRich or @storywonk

Lani’s next book (as Lucy March) is out in December 2015. It’s the third the Nodaway Falls series: For Love or Magic (Nodaway Falls)

Also, I highly recommend the Storywonk podcasts. Head here for the full list!

We discuss:

Lani’s process – she has periods of creation, editing and so on throughout the year, rather than focusing on a weekly or monthly schedule.

Lani writes in three basic phases: Discovery phase (soundtracks, staring out the window, collages etc), drafting phase – where she tries to write 2000 words a day, and revision.

Lani says the revision phase is where: ‘I take all my understanding of story and structure and apply it to the hot mess’.

We talk about how the process can vary from book to book. Lani says:

‘I do what the book asks of me, if I have to get up and write at midnight, I get up to write at midnight.’

Lani talks about the importance of giving yourself permission for a ‘full and rich discovery phase’.

To stay productive and creative over time, Lani suggests writing every day (something small and fun – something which reminds you what you love about writing), and engaging with narrative every day in a way which is enriching and inspiring to you (this can be good television or film, video games, graphic novels, as well as novels).

And don’t miss Lani’s brilliant ‘Claim Your Awesome’ speech!

Recommended:


In the first section of the show, I talk about how useful I’ve found keeping a simple and regular routine. I first heard about this concept (as it applies to creativity) in Murakami’s excellent book What I Talk About When I Talk About Running.

 

 

TheGardenOfMagicIn other news, I was thrilled to be listed as one of Jodi Gibson’s ‘Five Essential Podcasts for Writers’. Thanks, Jodi!

And, on a personal note, I shouted about my new novella The Garden of Magic, which is out on 14th August 2015, and my super-exciting (to me!) book deal news.

For more details, head to my author site.

 

 

Got a question about writing or creativity?

If you’ve got a writing-related question that you’d like featured on the show, please don’t hesitate to ask.

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

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!