Category Archives: Creativity

Letting the fizz out of the bottle (or, about my new WiP)

At the Brisbane Writers Festival a couple of years ago, I saw Anita Shreve, author of 16 novels,  speak about her books and the writing process. I’ve never read any of her work but I enjoy hearing about others’ creative processes so I knew I’d get something out of the session regardless.

I remember that when she was asked about her current project, she said that she never speaks about what she’s working on because she’s afraid of ‘letting some of the fizz out of the bottle’. She said (and I’m paraphrasing) she’s always afraid of speaking about what she’s currently writing because she feels like it’s an unopened bottle of soda, and if she spoke about it, she’d let out some of the fizz, and so if she spoke about it too much, the story would go flat. A quick Google search shows me that she uses this answer whenever she’s asked  (for example, The Washing Post interview and WOW! Women on Writing interview).

I find this logic fascinating, because my mind works quite differently. When I have a new story idea, I want to tell everyone about it, and I have to physically stop myself from blathering on to anyone who shows the slightest bit of interest. I actually gain more enthusiasm or ‘fizz’ from sharing my ideas and hearing others’ thoughts about it.

I’ve shown quite a bit of self restraint to not post about my current work-in-progress yet. What’s that? You’d like to hear about it? Oh, okay. Why didn’t you say so earlier?! It’s a young-adult time-travel romantic drama. Think Time Traveler’s Wife crossed with Back to the Future. It’s in the very embryonic stages at present. I’ve got a lot of ideas that I’m very excited about – enough for a series – but I’m not sure if I’ll be able to make them work… oops. See, there I go. Give me an inch… 😉

Back to the subject at hand, I wonder if it’s an introvert/extrovert thing? Do all introverts keep their ideas in the bottle and all extroverts share the fizz around, or is it not as cut and dried as that?

What do you think?

Are you an extrovert who manages to keep your WiP ideas to yourself? Or are you an introvert who forces yourself to brainstorm with others? Perhaps you’re like a friend of mine who chooses not to share his ideas because he’s concerned someone will steal them. Or maybe you have different reasons altogether. So do you share, or not? Why, or why not? I’m keen to hear from you.

P.S. For those keen for a Mackenzie update, here’s a video of her trying her first food. So far, she’s not a fan.

P.P.S. My work-in-progress novel shall henceforth be referred to as ‘The Fizz’, because I’m yet to come up with a title I like any better!

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Filed under Creativity, The Fizz, Writers, Writing

Insecure Writers’ Support Group: review-phobia

Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

“Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!” Alex J Cavanaugh

It’s time for this month’s Insecure Writers’ Support Group post! I’m going to preface this post by re-stating one of the key reasons the blog-father, Alex J Cavanaugh, founded this support group:  “Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak.”

So no teasing! Cos I’m about to tell you one of my real, genuine fears.

Now that I’ve decided to indie publish my first novel The Big Smoke, I’m faced with the fact that people everywhere around the world will be able to purchase my writing and then tell everybody else what they think about it. That’s AWESOME but it’s also FREAKING TERRIFYING.

I fear that, soon after The Big Smoke is released, my Amazon page will be swamped with bad reviews by people who absolutely hated my book.

Thumbs down

Bad, bad, bad.

Now, I know that bad reviews are par for the course. I know that every book is bound to get a few negative reviews in its time. But what if they come first? What if the very first reviews that appear on my Amazon page all say my work is rubbish? Then no one else will give it a chance – including the people who just might love it.

Don’t get me wrong. I have confidence in my writing. I do. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have decided to put it out there. But that confidence doesn’t negate the fear. And I think indie publishing perhaps makes that fear a little stronger. If I had the tick of approval from a publisher, I don’t think I’d be as concerned about reviews. But for indies, reviews really are the make or break. Hence, the fear.

I know a lot of you reading this have published your own work – either traditionally or independently. Did you fear bad reviews too? Have you had any? I don’t mean luke warm, I mean reviews where the reviewer seems to believe your fingers should be chopped off so you can never write another word. Any advice on how to quell those nerves?

P.S. Don’t forget to support other insecure writers!

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Filed under Creativity, Fear, Insecure Writers Support Group, Self publishing, Writers, Writing

Insecure Writers’ Support Group: perfecshunism

Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

"Let's rock the neurotic writing world!" Alex J Cavanaugh

It’s time for this months Insecure Writers’ Support Group post!

I have a bit of a problem, and I have a feeling I’m not alone. I have a feeling this problem is shared by many writers. So here it is… I want everything I write to be perfect. No errors. See, the onley reason I feel comfortable with this going live is becuase I figure you’ll cotton on to what Im doing.

But what about you? DOes this post make your eyes bleed? How would you feel if you discovered that a post you’d published had multiple errors in it? would you be horrifyed? would you be worried what the people who’d read it thought of you? I would. Because writing is what I (try to) do best. Writing is my profesion – both paid and unpaid.

But maybe my fears are a little OTT. I mean, I’ve read posts with errors in them before. I noticed them, sure, but I didn’t assume the author was a terible writer. I just assumed they were in a bit of rush that day and hadn’t been as thorough as they could have been.

What do you think when you see errors in a post? Do you write off the author (pardon the pun)? Or just assume they were in a hurry?

SHould I be as paranoid as I am about making mistakes? Are you? Any tips on how to get over the fear (other than write a post riddeled with them)? 😉

P.S. Don’t forget to support other insecure writers!

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Filed under Creativity, Fear, Insecure Writers Support Group, Writers, Writing

Insecure Writers Support Group: rejection

Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

"Let's rock the neurotic writing world!" Alex J Cavanaugh

It’s time for this month’s Insecure Writers’ Support Group post!

Something that feeds many writers’ insecurities is rejection. Whether that rejection comes from an agent, a publisher, or even a beta reader (in the form of highly negative comments), it always hurts and can make us question whether we’re cut out for this writing caper.

As much as rejection sucks, it’s pretty much inevitable that every writer will experience it at some point in their journey. In fact, most published authors were rejected by publishers before they were accepted. I don’t know about you, but it makes me feel a little better when I hear that best selling books by authors like J K Rowling and John Grisham were rejected multiple times – not because I’m sadistic, but because it reminds me of the subjectivity of the reading experience. Just because one person (agent, publisher, reader) doesn’t connect with my work doesn’t mean others won’t. And it also doesn’t mean my work is rubbish (although it may mean that it needs more work).

If you’d like to read more about big name authors’ battle scars, check out this awesome post Ann Riley wrote for Aimee Salter’s The Write Life. It definitely helped me to put things in perspective, and I plan to revisit it whenever I feel glum about my own rejections!

P.S. Don’t forget to support other insecure writers!

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Filed under Creativity, Fear, Insecure Writers Support Group, Writers, Writing

Insecure Writers Support Group: war against fear

Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

"Let's rock the neurotic writing world!" Alex J Cavanaugh

It’s that time of the month again! Oh, hang on – I just realised how wrong that sounds. Let me clarify. It’s time for this month’s Insecure Writers Support Group. If you’d like to learn more about the group, you’d be best to visit Alex J Cavanaugh’s blog. After all, the group is his brain child.

For this month’s Insecure Writers Support Group, I decided to be lazy clever and re-post something I wrote about six months ago that I think will resonate with fellow insecure writers. So, without ado, I bring to you…

Writers go to war: against fear

The_Scream

Fear personified...

Fear has many weapons in its arsenal. It makes your heart pound, your palms sweat, your skin prickle. It makes you shiver, feel nauseous, become light headed.  It shortens your breath, curdles your stomach, disrupts your sleep, scatters your thoughts…

But the most dangerous weapon at fear’s disposal? Its ability to make you doubt yourself and tempt you to give up…

The good news: writers are fighting back against fear.  How? By exposing fear’s nasty tricks and demonstrating how they, personally, have defeated it.

Veronica Roth has outed her fear demons on her blog, revealing she suffers with anxiety about whether her writing will please some key people whose opinion she cares about. But she has also declared that she doesn’t want to be a writer ruled by fear. She is determined not to consult her fear when she makes decisions, in life and in writing.

To me, that’s courageous. As Nelson Mandela said, ‘Courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.’

Veronica is not the only one persisting in the face of fear. Ali from Aliventures admits she gets scared whenever she tackles something new. For a long time, Ali thought that meant she was a coward. But over the years, she’s realised it’s incredibly normal to be afraid.

Ali believes that when tackling fear, you shouldn’t try to convince yourself you’re not afraid. Instead, accept that you’re scared. Don’t dwell on it, just acknowledge it. And then do it (whatever it is that scares you) anyway.

Ali’s strategy mirrors Nicole McDonald’s (from Damsel in the Dirty Dress) philosophy in life: ‘feel the fear and do it anyway.’ This damsel has been struggling with writer’s block but has slowly but surely been defeating it.

I’m fighting fear too, all the time. And right now, I’m winning. I’m [updated] over two thirds of the way through a major edit of my novel-in-progress The Big Smoke, receiving feedback from beta readers on the first two thirds, and enjoying the whole experience (most of the time!).

How about you? – are you a writer fighting fear? How are you going with it? What strategies do you use? Let’s share our tools and win the war between writers and fear for good.

P.S. Don’t forget to support other insecure writers!

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Filed under Creativity, Fear, Insecure Writers Support Group, Writers, Writing

Writers go to war – against fear

The_Scream

Fear personified...

Fear has many weapons in its arsenal. It makes your heart pound, your palms sweat, your skin prickle. It makes you shiver, feel nauseous, become lightheaded.  It shortens your breath, curdles your stomach, disrupts your sleep, scatters your thoughts…

But the most dangerous weapon at fear’s disposal? Its ability to make you doubt yourself and tempt you to give up…

The good news: writers are fighting back against fear.  How? By exposing fear’s nasty tricks and demonstrating how they, personally, have defeated it.

Veronica Roth has outed her fear demons on her blog, revealing she suffers with anxiety about whether her writing will please some key people whose opinion she cares about. But she has also declared that she doesn’t want to be a writer ruled by fear. She is determined not to consult her fear when she makes decisions, in life and in writing.

To me, that’s courageous. As Nelson Mandela said, ‘Courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.’

Veronica is not the only one persisting in the face of fear. Ali from Aliventures admits she gets scared whenever she tackles something new. For a long time, Ali thought that meant she was a coward. But over the years, she’s realised it’s incredibly normal to be afraid.

Ali believes that when tackling fear, you shouldn’t try to convince yourself you’re not afraid. Instead, accept that you’re scared. Don’t dwell on it, just acknowledge it. And then do it (whatever it is that scares you) anyway.

Ali’s strategy mirrors Nicole McDonald’s (from Damsel in the Dirty Dress) philosophy in life: ‘feel the fear and do it anyway.’ This damsel has been struggling with writer’s block but has slowly but surely been defeating it.

I’m fighting fear too, all the time. And right now, I’m winning. I’ll share my own personal battle in a separate post later this week, but for the moment, I’m interested in hearing from you – are you a writer fighting fear? How are you going with it? What strategies do you use? Let’s share our tools and win the war between writers and fear for good.

P.S. Don’t forget about the Power of Tension Blogfest that Rachel Morgan and I are hosting from 23-27 May!

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Filed under Creativity, Fear, Writers, Writing

Is this novel autobiographical?

Tangled - Cally Jackson's life storyNine times out of ten, when I tell someone the basic premise of my novel-in-progress, Tangled (country-raised teenagers trying to survive their first semester at an inner-city university), they ask whether the book is based on my personal experiences. I answer that there are some similarities, but it’s predominantly fictional. But for some reason, at that point, people often give this wink-and-smirk combo, as if they know that Tangled is really my life story but I’m too embarrassed to admit it.

I’ll be honest with you. This frustrates me for a couple of reasons. Namely:

  1. If it was my life story, I’d just come out and say it. 
  2.  It implies I’m not creative enough to conjure a plot purely from my imagination.

So, here’s some proof that this book really is fictional:

Jeez she was a good kisser. Slow and sexy. I could taste the guava cruisers she’d been drinking on her lips, real sickly sweet. Then her tongue touched mine, and my heart started beating real fast. I could tell where all my blood was pumping to. Hopefully it wasn’t as obvious to her as it was to me. But then she laid back on the grass and pulled me down on top of her, so there was no way I could hide it. I mean, it was pretty much poking her in the thigh and saying, ‘Hi, wanna play?’ 

I definitely haven’t experienced that personally! Hopefully that will convince those with doubts that I have an imagination. 🙂

To my writer-readers, do you have this same problem? Do people assume your fiction is based on real life? (I’m assuming this is only relevant to contemporary writers, but if you have any stories about people asking if your fantasy fiction is based on reality, I’d love to hear them!)

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Filed under Creativity, Tangled, Writing, Writing style

The writer’s muse – fiction or fact?

Muse whispering in ear

Creative inspiration?

The idea of having a ‘muse’ fascinates me. I often hear other writers referring to their muse, praising them or calling on them for help, and I wonder: are they using it as a gimmick or do they really believe in the presence and power of a mystical muse? Is someone or something really there, sitting on our shoulder and whispering prose in our ears? Or are we alone in our writing endeavours, creating stories through nothing but our own laborious thoughts?

To answer this, maybe we should start by looking at what exactly ‘muse’ means. According to the Free Dictionary, the noun ‘muse’ refers to:  

  1. any of the nine daughters of [Greek Goddess] Mnemosyne and [Greek God] Zeus, each of whom presided over a different art or science
  2. a guiding spirit
  3. a source of inspiration
  4. a poet.

When writers speak of their muse, I believe they’re usually referring to a combination of (2) and (3) –a guiding spirit who provides them with creative inspiration.

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat Pray Love, has an interesting perspective on the ‘muse’, which is worth hearing regardless of whether you cherished, despised or didn’t even read Eat Pray Love.

Elizabeth has returned to the ancient belief that creative inspiration (i.e. the muse) is an entity independent from us, which speaks through us. She uses this belief as a sort of coping mechanism for those days when the words just aren’t coming  – you don’t have to feel so bad, because at least you turned up to do your job; the muse just hasn’t upheld her side of bargain.

You can hear Elizabeth speak about her perspective in the video below.  (It’s 20 minutes long but worth the time – I found it inspirational and refreshing).

So that’s one opinion. But I’m interested to hear yours. What do you think about muses? Are they real? Do you have one? Or do you think they’re as fictitious as fairies? Please share. 🙂

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Filed under Creativity, Elizabeth Gilbert, Muse, Writing