I’m reading (well, listening to the audiobook of) Neil Gaiman’s collection of non-fiction The View From The Cheap Seats and it’s packed with excellent writerly thoughts.
I love this (from his Newbery Award Acceptance speech in 2009):
‘Sometimes fiction is a way of coping with the poison of the world in a way that lets us survive it. ‘
That sums up the power of reading fiction so well (there’s a reason he earns the big bucks!).
Also, I found this quote super-inspiring and I wanted to share it:
So, if you’re struggling with your story or feeling as if the hard work isn’t worth it or feeling silly for ‘wasting your time’ making stuff up, remember this: Someone out there needs the story you are writing.
My guest today is Cesca Major. Cesca is a fascinating interviewee as she writes in two genres under different names. Cesca’s debut historical novel, The Silent Hours, was published last year by Corvus, to great acclaim. However, Cesca also writes romantic comedy under the name Rosie Blake. The first Rosie Blake book, How To Get A (Love) Life, was originally published by Novelicious Books and was then picked up by Corvus, as part of a three book deal.
I give a small update on my own writing and reveal my plan to get The Language of Spells made into an audiobook!
I’m very excited to dip my toe in hybrid publishing. If all goes well, I will get The Secrets of Ghosts and The Garden Of Magic made, too. I’m using ACX which is a platform which connects people who own audio rights to books such as publishers and authors, with narrators and audiobook production companies.
I will keep you informed on the process as I go along!
This month’s question comes from Jeanna Kunce (windhillbooks.com).
Do you feel it is important to be a part of any writers/artists associations? Aside from any conferences or networking benefits there may be, do you think you think it makes a difference simply having on your resume/submissions? Would it actually help someone get their foot in the door? Some people seem to feel it’s only your story that will get you published; others seem to feel that having that “badge” helps to make you seem more serious or professional. Thoughts?
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).
My guest today is Emma Newman. Emma writes dark short stories, science fiction and urban fantasy. Between Two Thorns, the first title in her Split Worlds series was shortlisted for the British Fantasy Society Best Novel and Best Newcomer Awards. Emma is also a professional audiobook narrator and she co-writes and hosts the Hugo-nominated podcast, Tea and Jeopardy.
On a personal note, I’m very excited to speak to Emma: When I fell in love with podcasts, one of my early discoveries was the wonderful Tea and Jeopardy and I began following her on Twitter and visiting her blog – which mentions ‘anxiety-wrangling’ in the tagline. It was another piece of evidence I gathered and held close while I was trying to convince myself that my own anxiety need-not necessarily stop me from creating my own stuff.
The Worried Writer podcast focuses on the fears, self-doubt and anxieties of the creative life. However, as both Emma and I suffer from anxiety with a capital ‘A’, we do talk a little about our experiences of living and working with an anxiety disorder. It’s very positive, and Emma shares some wonderful coping strategies, but I just wanted to give a (very mild!) trigger warning.
In the interview, Emma talks about tenacity and how the grit developed during the pre-publication and submission process is vital after publication, too.
Emma’s ‘Agile’ writing process (taken from the software development world!). Includes planning the book in five chapter chunks.
On Writing by Stephen King
And in personal news, it’s publication day for my latest novel, In The Light of What We See. Hurrah!
Subtitled ‘How to stay creative while gaining money, fame and reputation’, this book sounded right up my street… And it was!
I like my self-help to have a strong practical side and this book delivers that in spades. While it focuses on the emotional and psychological aspects of getting (and staying) motivated, it does so in a very clear and jargon-free manner.
It’s also written by a creative entrepreneur – someone who walks the walk as well as talking the talk. Mark is a poet, psychotherapist, writer of non-fiction and a coach to creative professionals, and his experience shines through.
The book covers getting started (working out your true passion in life), and the different sorts of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic, social and personal motivation, as well as the roadblocks to using these (such as resistance).
It’s full of tips to keep you productive, but will also help you to reflect (honestly) on your own unique set of values and influences. I think discovering the factors which affect your own inspiration, creativity and productivity could be genuinely life-changing.
I also love the way he addresses the tension between art and commerce – and the challenge of remaining inspired when your pay packet relies on that inspiration.
Mark also offers a free 26-week email course. I’m following it at the moment and you can sign up here.
I’m excited to announce that Mark will be a guest on the podcast very soon. If you have any questions for him, please let me know in the comments!
As I may have mentioned before, I adore setting goals. I also love reading about other people’s goals and find them inspiring and motivating. It really helps me to know that I’m not the only person who plans and strives in this way.
Although I feel a bit silly writing this post (who on earth cares about my plans for this year?!) I am going to do it anyway as it will make me more accountable (to you lovely folk!) and, hopefully, help me to stay on track during 2016.
Please feel free to join in and share your own goals in the comments. I’d love to hear them!
For as long as I can remember I have made some version of this goal in January, but this year I wish to improve on good writing habits developed over the last couple of years and to push my own personal boundaries.
For example, I’ve been saying that a good writing day (for me) is 1000 words. Well, that may be true, but I have never really tested it. Not really. And I do know that I’ve written far more than that when heading towards a deadline… So, this year I’m challenging myself to write more on a regular basis. I would like to make 1500 words the new ‘normal day’ and to reach 2000 words on a regular basis. Since this is my full time job, that really should be possible!
Last year, I wrote a novella and did rewrites of In The Light of What We See (out this April from Lake Union), started a follow-up novel and wrote a messy first draft of an urban fantasy/supernatural thing.
This year I want to finish the supernatural book and get it ready for submission.
Finish my WIP (working title: Beneath The Water).
Write the first draft of a completely new novel.
In other words, by December 2016, I want two completed novels and one brand new first draft.
Keep on learning:
I am as obsessed as ever with books about productivity, writing and creative business and I plan to continue reading and learning.
I am also going to take an online course or two. I am booked on an ‘introduction to screenwriting’ course in February and I’m looking at other options/subjects.
However, I do want to make sure that I take time to refill the creative well this year with lots of reading, watching great TV and films, and with travel/new experiences/visiting art galleries and museums. Basically the stuff that feels like bunking off but is essential to keeping the ideas coming (as well as maintaining sanity).
I’ve made an excellent start by binge-watching all of Jessica Jones on Netflix and reading several novels over the Christmas holiday – hurrah!
Celebrate the successes (every day wins as well as ‘big news’ items) and, as Miranda Dickinson so brilliantly put it in this episode of the podcast, keep on finding the fun in my writing.
I will continue to release a new podcast at the start of every month. I’ve got some great guests lined up and I’m super-excited about speaking to them!
I want to further develop the Worried Writer site and add lots of new (hopefully helpful) content. My goal is to add a new article every week (at least) and maybe add some video, too.
Write The Worried Writer book and publish it. A guide to overcoming fear, self-doubt and procrastination which will include my (extensive!) personal experience as well as the best tips and advice gleaned from the podcast interviews.
Go to a ‘real life’ conference, workshop, blogger meet-up or writing festival. I would love to meet some more of the lovely writing community in person and I think 2016 is the year!
Send regular newsletters from both my author site (www.sarah-painter.com) and The Worried Writer, create more subscriber-only freebies and run some giveaways.
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.