The Worried Writer Episode #33: Katie Cross ‘I call myself a naptime entrepreneur’


My guest today is Katie Cross. Katie writes both YA fantasy and contemporary women’s fiction. Her books include The Network series, which kicks off with Miss Mabel’s School For Girls, and Bon Bons To Yoga Pants. Katie also provides mentoring services for indie authors, and she runs a lively Facebook support group called Indie Author Life. Head here to join.

In the interview we discuss productivity, publishing, and self-doubt, and Katie shares wonderful tips for combining writing with parenthood (or other responsibilities). Katie is a bundle of energy and I got so much inspiration from our chat – I hope you do, too!

For more on Katie head to kcrosswriting.com or find her on Twitter or Facebook.

In the intro I give a writing update:

I allowed myself to take my foot off the pedal a wee bit during October, and also had a week away with my family by Loch Ness, which was glorious!

Less fun, was hitting the middle of my WIP and, as usual, getting completely stuck. Every single book I have written has hit this point but it’s always a bit scary. I allowed myself to take thinking and freewriting time and, last week, I had a breakthrough on the plot – phew!

I’m planning to finish the book during November so, along with everyone who is taking part in NaNoWriMo, I will be writing as much as possible.

If you are trying to finish a project or are taking part in NaNoWriMo, let’s make this a super-productive November and cheer each other on! I will post updates on Twitter and the Worried Writer Facebook page. We can do this!

I also talk about the importance of finishing, and how getting to ‘The End’ on your first book is so difficult – but so vital.

In case you missed it, here is the link to the article I wrote on the subject: The Life-Changing Magic of Finishing Your Book.

In the interview:

Katie on indie publishing:

‘From the beginning it called to me. I was like that is the way I want to publish a book.’

‘You have control, you have to do something with it and you really have to it well. I think finding a team can be the hardest part: people you trust at a price you can afford.’

On self-doubt:

‘I had a lot of beta readers give me feedback and I had professional editors.’

‘I do remember that feeling of vulnerability once I’d hit that publish button… I’ve put a piece of my heart out there.’

On helping others and the FB group:

‘It was a difficult transition for me from full-time author to full-time mom… I couldn’t find other people in the same boat so I put this group together.’

‘Authors need a tribe. It’s a solitary profession but requires a village, really.’

‘I’m an extrovert, I thrive on connection.’

Writing process:

‘I do write everyday.’

I freelance and I do mentoring for some self-publishers when I have slots available and I write my own books. It sounds like a lot but I don’t take a lot of contracts for freelancing… It’s very manageable, it’s not too many, it’s just enough so that I feel like I’m working on a team.’

‘The night before I go to bed I have a to-do list and I write down three things that have to get done.’

‘If I can get up before my son I spend twenty minutes meditating. I just sit and deep breathe and am just present in the moment… And then I go about the day with my son and I do not check my email.’

‘An hour before naptime I start preparing for naptime so I get the house clean, I make lunch, I make sure we’ve had lunch, make sure the dog is settled. Everything is ready so the moment my son is down for his nap, my butt is in the chair and I’m writing.’

‘I call myself a naptime entrepreneur.’

I do try to keep creativity and business separate… I always work on creative things first… And I try to stay focused when I’m in each one.’

On writing while being a full-time parent:

‘It’s a careful balance when you’re a parent of being a parent, but still having time for yourself and taking time for your writing because your writing time can’t be your self-care time.’

‘There was more time for writing with a newborn than I thought… For me it got really busy once he got mobile!’

‘I was a hardcore pantser until I became a mom then I found it much more productive to plot.’

Creative block:

‘Typically when I’m blocked creatively it’s because I need to make a decision and I don’t want to… I need to decide where this plot is going and then I’m worried I’ll make the wrong choice and I’ll waste words or something like that.’

Failure if one of our greatest learning mechanisms.’

‘All of us struggle with imposter syndrome.’

Recommended:

K.M.Weiland books  and website: Helping Writers Become Authors

Dynamic Story Creation by Maxwell Alexander Drake

Joanna Penn for anything author business related: The Creative Penn

Robert McKee

Playing Big by Tara Mohr

For levelling-up in business: Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz

Thanks for listening!

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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!