Tag Archives: How to improve your writing

Lauren Carr Seminar: Writers in Bathrobes


Want to learn the ropes of the writing/ publishing business? Want to work from home? Then you need this! Top Selling Mystery author Lauren Carr is going to be teaching all this and more in historic Harpers Ferry, outside Washington, D. C., in March 2015.

Here’s an excerpt from her e-mail!

BIG NEWS: I have just scheduled to conduct a SIX HOUR workshop in
March at the church called: AUTHORS IN BATHROBE. I am still working out  the details, but this workshop will break book promotion down into an understandable format for writers. Even if your book is not out yet,
then this will include things that you can do now to get the ball
rolling for sales when you book is released.

Focused completely on using the internet to promote your book and your
writing career, the workshop will include no less than an hour on
Twitter and an hour Facebook. (My own sales drop 10-20 percent on days I don’t tweet!) It will discuss the importance of a website and how to set
one up without breaking your budget. What is a blog? What goes into a
blog post. Virtual book tours. It will even cover the basics of an
author bio and what makes a good profile pic.

It will be 9 to 4 on Saturday, March 21. Lunch will be included. Price
is still being determined.

You are the first to hear this, so spread the word.

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Guest Post from Jim Denney, Take Two


At Fay Moore: I Want To Be a Writer, we are fortunate to have published authors share insight into how to move forward as writers. Today Jim Denney, author of Writing in Overdrive, has been kind enough to offer some advice in his second appearance here on the blog.

Denney book cover Writing in Overdrive

Write Every Day

By Jim Denney, author of Writing in Overdrive

“The only thing you need to know about writing is that you must do it. The rest is just showing up.”

—Jeff Goins

I love to write. I begin writing every day, almost as soon as I tumble out of bed. Writing is not merely my daily habit, it’s something I can’t wait to begin.

But I haven’t always been this way. When I was in my twenties, writing was a chore. I wanted to write, but I resisted and procrastinated and made excuses for not writing. It wasn’t until I turned thirty that I began building a daily habit of writing. Today, I can’t imagine going all day without writing. It’s actually more difficult for me not to write than to write.

If you struggle with resistance and procrastination, if you want to write but find it hard to drag yourself to the keyboard, I know how you feel. I’ve been there. And I want you to know you can learn to love writing and make it your daily habit. But before writing becomes your love, it has to become your discipline.

Begin by viewing writing as your profession—even if you have a non-writing day job. Stop calling yourself an “aspiring writer” or a “wannabe writer” or a “weekend writer.” Tell yourself, “I’m a writer,” period. Once you accept the fact that you are a professional, you will begin to treat writing as a profession, not a hobby.

Now that writing is your profession, recognize that you are your own employer, your own boss. And part of your job as your own boss is to get yourself to work every day. No one else will do it for you. You have to set regular, working hours for yourself, and you have to show up for work on time every day. As the boss, you must be ruthless with yourself about keeping your writing time inviolate.

As John Steinbeck wrote in his journal while writing The Grapes of Wrath, “In writing, habit seems to be a much stronger force than either willpower or inspiration. Consequently there must be some little quality of fierceness until the habit pattern of a certain number of words is established. … I must get my words down every day whether they are any good or not.”

When building a habit, it helps to write at the same time and place every day. Your unconscious mind learns to associate that time, that place, with the creative process. Whether you write a desktop computer in your office, on a laptop computer in your secluded garden, or in longhand in a notebook at a café, build a daily habit.

You may say, “I’m so busy with my job and my kids that I only have fifteen minutes a day to write. What can anyone accomplish in fifteen minutes a day?” Well, if you write every day without fail for fifteen minutes a day, you can accomplish quite a lot.

Fifteen minutes a day adds up to 91.25 hours per year, or the equivalent of more than two forty-hour work weeks. That’s a lot of writing time. And by writing every day, even for just a quarter hour, you will boost your creativity enormously. You’ll remain focused on your novel, your story, your characters, and your goals every day. You’ll find you are thinking about your story when you wake up, when you’re in the shower, when you drive to work, when you’re at lunch, when you drive home, and before you go to sleep. That added focus on your story magnifies your productivity and creativity in your fifteen-minute sessions. You may find yourself feeling so inspired that will keep writing for thirty, sixty, ninety minutes or more. And you’ll build some excellent daily writing habits in the process.

Most important, you’ll build a deep love for writing that will carry you through the rest of your life. Build a daily habit of writing—and watch writing become the dream job you love.

_______________________________

Jim Denney has written more than 100 books, including the Timebenders science fantasy adventure series for young readers—Battle Before Time, Doorway to Doom, Invasion of the Time Troopers, and Lost in Cydonia. His latest book for writers is Writing in Overdrive: Writer Faster, Write Freely, Write Brilliantly. A veteran of both traditional and indie publishing, Jim is a member of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). Follow Jim on Twitter at @WriterJimDenney. He blogs at http://unearthlyfiction.wordpress.com/.

What Happens at a Writing Conference?


Why attend a writers’ conference?

  1. You will learn more than you thought possible about the publishing community.
  2. You will learn how to improve your writing.
  3. You will learn what is new in the industry.
  4. You will learn how to sell books.
  5. You will meet interesting people.

It is that last item that I want to emphasize. I met world class authors and could ask them questions directly about the field, about their experiences, both good and bad, and about what advice they could offer to me as a new author.

Moreover, I made professional contacts, leading to my being interviewed on video and on audio recording for a podcast, allowing me to promote my book to a new audience.

Finally, I made new friends who sent me the lovely messages below:

Fay,

 It was great meeting you at the C3 Conference. Thanks for doing the podcast. I’ll let you know when it’s up and send you the link.

 Larry Matthews Author of The Dave Haggard Thrillers http://www.larrymatthews.net

Was soooo thrilled to meet you in person Fay–you are such a lovely person! XXXOOO

Cindy McDonald

@MooreFay, you are such a delight, and I can’t wait to read your novel. Thanks for coming and enjoy the kindle.

Author Sandra Webster @BSwanginWebster

(Oh, yes! And I won a Kindle Fire at the Crime, Creatures & Creativity conference!  So surprising things can happen, too!)

Anyway, for these reasons and more, I urge you to sign up for the October 5th From Writer to Published Author conference in Harpers Ferry, WV (a suburb of Washington, DC). The closing day to register is just a few days away—September 22. The link to register is below.

http://acornbookservices.com/Writer_to_Published_Author.html

Date: Saturday, October 5, 2013

8:45 am-5:00 pm

Place: Oakland Church

70 Oakland Terrace Charles Town, WV

Cost: $60 (lunch included)

Panel Discussions on Writing, Publishing, Illustrating, Writing Children’s BooksSponsored by Acorn Book Services

The From Writers to Published Authors Conference offers writers the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of writing and publishing directly from those who have gone before them. At this first annual event, authors and publishers will gather together to spend the day helping new writers to reach their goal of not only publishing their books, but doing it right.

Attendees have a choice of panel discussions to attend based on where they are in their journey toward authorship. The forty-five minute panel discussions will cover writing tips (getting your books done/research), publishing (social media/cover design).

Currently Scheduled to Appear: Lauren Carr (publisher and mystery author)

Austin Camacho (publisher and mystery/thriller author) Beth Rowland (publisher) Tim Rowland (columnist/author) Cindy McDonald (author) Ed Steers (historian and author) Thomas L. Trumble (author/playwright) B.Swangin Webster (author) Michael T. (children’s author) Joe Santoro (illustrator) Malcolm Ater (young adult/middle school author) Penny Clover Petersen (author of children’s and adult books) H.L. Grandin (author) Mary-Ellen Low (author) Victor Nieves (author) Fay Moore (author) Daniel Claggett (illustrator) Debbie Brenneman (author) George Johnson (author) S.J. Brown (author/photographer) Todd Aune (cover designer) D.B. Corey (author)
This conference also includes two Super Panel discussions which are foremost on most writers and published authors’ minds: The Future of Books and Using Social Media for Book Promotion.

Three publishers are schedule to appear: Lauren Carr of Acorn Book Services, Austin Camacho of Intrigue Publishing, and Beth Rowland of  Black Walnut Corner Book Production.

The fee for attendees is $60. Lunch is included. We encourage attendees to not be shy. We encourage writers to feel free to talk to authors and publishers about their projects and ask any questions they may have about completing their books and advice on publishing.
But Wait! There’s More! Intrigue Publishing will have a special presentation during lunch:

Working With a Small Press – A Reality Check.

Writers won’t want to miss this interactive presentation that will answer many questions about the differences between a big press, and also how a small press differs from self-publishing.

*Schedule Panel Topics *Topics may change due to author’s schedules before the conference

Writing

Get ’er Done: Committing to your book to complete it.

Let’s Get Personal: This panel is made up of authors who have successfully put pen to paper to tell their stories.

Research: Get it Right: Even in fiction, nothing can kill a book like having your facts wrong.

Laughing It Up: Writing humor.

Publishing

Judging a Book By Its Cover: Cover Design.

Picture My Book: Working with Illustrators.

Who’s Going to Read It:  As much as we like to think everyone will want to read our book, that is just not the case. This panel will discuss determining your readers so that you may focus your book and your marketing toward drawing them in.

How to Sell It: Different from the Social Media Super Panel, this panel discussion will focus on basic marketing techniques that every author should know.

Children’s Books

Kiddie Lit I: Writing for Children. Writing for children is not as easy as it may appear. This panel will discuss the basics to know when it comes to writing a children’s book.

Kiddlie Lit II: Where’s the Line? Is your book appropriate for your age group? Does your middle school book have too much romance? Is it appropriate to have your grade-school-aged protagonist curse? This promises to be a hot discussion.

Space is limited for the From Writers to Published Authors Conference. So don’t delay. Sign up today!

Hair Flying Over Hagerstown


This weekend is my time to read the critiques of the Beta readers.  If you hear weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth or if you see hair flying over the rooftops of Hagerstown, you will know that I have become a mad woman as I try to figure out how to get the last re-write done in time for publication this month. A September release may not be possible. Yet, I will give it my best effort.

Good thing I got that head shot taken before I pulled all my hair out. Not to mention the dark circles under my eyes from pulling all-nighters trying to meet deadlines. I don’t bounce back like I used to. It may take me a month to look human again.

I better make sure someone is doing a buddy check on me to make sure I haven’t passed out from dehydration or sleep deprivation. Face flat on the floor, tongue hanging out,  random wisps of mad-scientist hair still clinging to my now-bald pate–isn’t that a scary sight?? Yeah, I’m glad I got that photo taken!

Writing Seminars in the Greater Washington, DC and Baltimore Areas


Writing & Publishing Events: Sign Up Now!
Fall 2013
Lauren Carr Schedule of Events
Courses, Workshops & Conferences to Fit Any Schedule

Dear Fay,

This is the greatest time to be a writer.
The good news: Technology has turned the publishing industry on it’s ear so that any  writer who is serious about being a published author can get their book  out into the hands of readers.
The bad news: Poorly written books that are sloppily published are leaving uninformed authors confused and down heartened where their books don’t sell, or worse, reviewers rip their beloved books apart.
There is more to writing a book and publishing it than typing it up and uploading files to an online publisher. It takes more to becoming a best-selling author than getting a feature in the local newspaper and setting up a table at the local bookstore.
Unfortunately, most writers don’t know how or where to go to get the information they need to become successful authors.
Now is your chance to be informed. Over the course of the next several weeks and through the fall, I will be appearing at numerous workshops and conferences on writing, publishing, or both. Some will be during the day, others in the evening, and even a few weekends. Cost vary as well.
So, if you are a budding writer, or even a published author who wants to learn how to succeed in today’s literary arena, check out this schedule and sign up today!
Sincerely,
Lauren Carr Best-Selling Author and Publisher

Creatures, Crime & Creativity Conference: Friday-Sunday, 9/13-15
Meet Acorn Books Authors Lauren Carr, Cindy McDonald, and Fay Moore at the C3!
The conference is scheduled for September 13, 14 and 15 of 2013 in the  Hunt Valley Inn in Baltimore. It will present three days of panels and  workshops of interest to both writers and fans.

Everyone who attends the C3 conference will receive an anthology, published by Acorn Books, which is exclusive only for conference attendees. This anthology is filled with stories written by attending authors, including Lauren Carr and Fay Moore, whose debut novel will be released in September. There is still time to register to meet authors of mystery, suspense, thrillers, paranormal, and other creatures!

From Writers to Published Authors Conference: Saturday, 10/5. 8:45 am-5:00 pm
First Annual Conference in Charles Town, WV

The From Writers to Published Authors Conference offers writers the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of writing and publishing directly from those who have gone before them. At this first annual event, authors and publishers will gather together to spend the day helping new writers to reach their goal of not only publishing their books, but doing it right.
Click here to view the list of authors, illustrators, and publishers attending.
Click here to view the panels scheduled for the day.
Visit Acorn Book Services Website for more information. Click Here to download brochure.
Date: Saturday, October 5, 2013
8:45 am-5:00 pm
Place: Oakland Church
  70 Oakland Terrace
  Charles Town, WV
Cost: $60 (early registration) $75 After Sep 23

10-Plus Most Common Mistakes Made By New Writers: 4-Week Course Starting Tues, 9/3
10 Plus Most Common MistakesJefferson County Adult & Community Education   Does your book suffer from Good-Parent Syndrome? Do you know what your crutch word is?  Lauren Carr will discuss all of these topics, and other writing errors that can negatively impact your book’s success, during her four-hour presentation entitled: 10+ Most Common Mistakes Made By New Writers (Grammar and Punctuation Are Not On the List).

Dates: Tuesdays, 9/3-9/24. 6:00-8:00 pm
Place: Charles Town Middle School
Cost: $35
Contact Judy Slusher, Facilitator, Adult & Community Education, Jefferson County Schools at 304-728-9237 to register or for more information.

Speaking Engagement: National Novel Writing Month: Mon., 9/16: 6:30 pm
National Novel Writing MonthWriting a Novel: You Can Do ItIn preparation for the 2013 National Novel Writing Month (November), Havre de Grace Library, in Havre de Grace, Maryland is offering 4 sessions to help writers get started. Lauren Carr is scheduled to appear at this first session to help new writers in this introduction, which will  offer tips, planning, and much more. Sign up for a single session or all four sessions scheduled. Visit the Havre de Grace Library website for more information.

Date: Monday, 9/16. 6:30 pm
Place: Havre de Grace Library, 120 N Union Ave  Havre de Grace, MD 21078. (410) 939-6700
Tuition $50 for Four Weeks. Pre-registration required.

Authors in Bathrobes:  How to be a Successful Author Without Getting Dressed: 4-Week Course Starting  Thurs, 10/10
Authors in Bathrobes Berkeley County Arts Council: Berkeley Art WorksEvery writer dreams of big book events in book stores with lines going out the door. Unfortunately, for 95% percent of published authors, this is not a reality. It is not uncommon to have a book event and have no one show up. Today’s technology has made it possible for authors to gain a following, and make money with very little overhead and without getting dressed.In this course, author and publisher Lauren Carr will discuss how writers can now walk through the doors that have opened to not only write and publish their own books, but how to do it successfully-without getting dressed!

Dates: Thursdays, 10/10-10/31. 9:30-11:30 am
Place: Berkeley Art Works, 116 North Queen Street, Martinsburg, WV – 304-620-7277 web: artworks.berkeleyartswv.org email berkeleyartswv@gmail.com
Tuition $50 for Four Weeks. Pre-registration required.

Authors in Bathrobes:  How to be a Successful Author Without Getting Dressed Writing  & Publishing Workshop: Sat. 11/2: 9:30 am-4:30 pm: FREE
Authors in Bathrobes Washington County Free Library: Central Location
9:30 am-12:30 am: Book Writing: 10+ Most Common Mistakes Made By New Writers

 Does your book suffer from Good-Parent Syndrome? Do you know what your crutch word is?  Lauren will discuss all of these topics, and other writing errors that can negatively impact your book’s success, during her four-hour presentation entitled: 10+ Most Common Mistakes Made By New Writers (Grammar and Punctuation Are Not On the List).

1:30 pm-4:30 am: Book Publishing: Authors in Bathrobes: How to Be a Successful Author Without Getting Dressed

Every writer dreams of big book events in book stores with lines going out the door. Unfortunately, for 95% percent of published authors, this is not a reality. It is not uncommon to have a book event and have no one show up. Today’s technology has made it possible for authors to gain a following, and make money with very little overhead and without getting dressed.

In these two presentations, author and publisher Lauren Carr will discuss how writers can now walk through the doors that have opened to not only write and publish their own books, but how to do it successfully-without getting dressed!

Date: Saturday, 11/2. 9:30 am-4:30 pm
Place: Washington County Free Library, Central Location 100 South Potomac Street, Hagerstown  MD 21740 Phone: 301.739.3250 For more information about this and other Washington County Free Library events, Phone: 301.739.3250 or email Pat Wishard at pwishard@washcolibrary.org. Visit http://www.washcolibrary.org/index.asp for more information.

Acorn Book Services                 415 Moonridge Lane
Harpers Ferry, West Virginia  25425
If you’re a budding writer, or even published author who wants to learn more about being successful in today’s publishing arena, then come out out. Take note of the deadlines and which courses you need to register for.
I look forward to seeing your there!
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON ANY OF THESE EVENTS, CONTACT acorn.book.services@comcast.net

First, an Apology, Then an Announcement


Hi, sweet people. I owe you an apology. During August, I have been swamped and inattentive to you, to your comments, and more. Sadly, I remain under water with obligations and medical care until sometime in October. I want you to understand why I am behaving badly and not getting back to you when you write. Very soon, I promise to make it up to you and get back on top of things again.

I want to announce that I have started a Facebook page. Oh, heart, don’t fail me now. I swore I would never go on Facebook or any other similar strictly social network. Well, it seems that Facebook has evolved into more and so have I.

Since I am only, I don’t know, a millennium behind everyone else on the planet and haven’t a clue what I am doing, please be patient with me as the Facebook page evolves.

Finally I want to remind everyone who is interested in the FROM WRITERS TO PUBLISHED AUTHORS CONFERENCE on October 5, to get your registration in. The price of $60 for 6 sessions will rise to $75 in September. Why pay a penalty for procrastination? Be proactive and save $$$. Remember, lunch is included in the admission.

Click here to register:

Email acornbookservices@gmail.com or phone 304-285-8205 for more information.

You may read about the conference at http://acornbookservices.com/Writer_to_Published_Author.html

or see the brochure about the conference below.

WRITERS TO PUBLISHED AUTHORS BROCHURE USE THIS

Guest Post from Jim Denney, Part 2


Conquering the 8 Great Fears of the Writer’s Life: Part II

Jim Denney

 JimDenney-2013-small-72dpi

In an online video, Anne Rice said, “What has always helped me is something a novelist friend of mine, Floyd Salas, told me in Berkeley years ago. He said, ‘Go where the pain is.’ What Floyd meant was write about what hurts. Go back to the memory that causes you conflict and pain, and almost makes you unable to breathe, and write about it. Explore it in the privacy of your room, with your keyboard. Go where the pain is. Don’t be afraid of that.”

Natalie Goldberg, in Writing Down the Bones, puts it this way: “Write what disturbs you, what you fear, what you have not been willing to speak about. Be willing to be split open.” This brings us to the next great fear of the writer’s life. In Part I, we looked at the first four fears:

Fear No. 1. “I’m afraid I have no talent.”

Fear No. 2. “The blank page scares me—I’m afraid to begin.”

Fear No. 3. “I’m afraid I can’t complete my novel.”

Fear No. 4. “I’m afraid of the risks of the writer’s life.”

Now we look at one of the most paradoxical fears writer’s battle. Though we supposedly write to reveal ourselves—our thoughts, beliefs, insights, and dreams—we simultaneously fear to expose our innermost selves on the printed page:

 

Fear No. 5. “I’m afraid to reveal who I really am.”

For many writers, the worst nightmare imaginable is self-disclosure. When you write a book or story, you often expose more of your inner self than you realize. The more honest you are as a writer, the more you reveal. So it is only natural for writers to wonder, “What if I reveal too much? And what if my readers don’t like what they see?

In A Year of Writing Dangerously, Barbara Abercrombie recalls asking a group of writing students if writing felt “dangerous” to them. The students all agreed that it did. When Abercrombie asked why, one student said, “Writing is dangerous because you might get caught.” Abercrombie summed it up: “Caught, found out, exposed. The stuff of nightmares . . . our secrets exposed, our inner life and imagination up for inspection.”

Don’t fear the truth within you. Don’t fear the painful memories that are dredged up by your writing. When you unlock the truth within you, your writing comes alive with honesty and originality. You are finally giving your readers what they need, want, and deserve. You are giving them the gift of yourself.

Harlan Ellison explains his approach to writing this way: “I want to dip up the fire, and I want to put it on paper. The closer I get to the burning core of my being, the things which are most painful to me, the better is my work.” Heed Harlan Ellison’s example. Embrace the burning truth within you—then express it boldly and honestly through your writing.

Great writing can be painful in its honesty—but it’s a healing, surgical pain. Pediatric surgeon and prolific author Bernie S. Siegel began writing to heal his own pain of dealing with the suffering of children on a daily basis. “Scalpels and words are instruments which can cure or kill,” he once observed, noting that he started keeping a journal when he found it increasingly hard to remain a surgeon, dealing with the deaths of children. “If you cannot bring forth your feelings,” he concluded, “they will destroy you.” And Les Cuadra, author of Crystal Heroes, put it this way: “The truth is like a scalpel that cuts, and causes a bleeding that usually heals.”

By simply recognizing your fear of revealing yourself and facing your pain, you can disarm those fears. You can now say to yourself, “I know now why I’ve been timid and fearful. I know why I have resisted writing. I’ve been afraid to reveal myself. Yet I became a writer so I could speak my truth. From now on, I’ll push past my resistance and fear. I’ll dip up the fire from the burning core of my being, and I’ll fearlessly put it all on the page.”

 

Fear No. 6. “I’m afraid I’m a one-book writer.”

Novelist Julian Barnes (Arthur & George) once told an interviewer, “The great fear after writing one book is you are only a one-book writer.” This fear is yet another manifestation of that universal affliction among writers, self-doubt. After the first novel is written, self-doubt says, “What if I have no encore? What if I only have one book in me?”

The solution to this fear is to trust your Muse, your unconscious mind, your talent, your training, and your experience. If you wrote one novel, you can write another. In fact, having achieved that goal once, you should be in a much better position to do it again—and to do so more effectively and brilliantly.

Suspense writer James L. Rubart, author of Rooms and Book of Days, recalls that after his first book was well-received by critics and readers, he worried that it was a fluke—and that his second novel might not measure up. “The response to Rooms was so strong I was definitely nervous when Book of Days came out. That whole ‘I only have one book in me’ thing. But a lot of people liked Book of Days better.”

In fact, Rubart says his mastery of the craft increases with each novel. “It took me six years to write Rooms,” he recalls, “two years to write Book of Days, five months to write The Chair, ten weeks to write Soul’s Gate . . . and I’m on pace to finish the novel I’m working on right now in six weeks.”

Wendell Berry is a farmer, antiwar activist, novelist, and poet. He remembers the sense of unease he felt after his first book was published. He has learned to embrace that uneasy feeling and to anticipate the unknown adventures ahead. “I am discomforted,” he says, “by the knowledge that I don’t know how to write the books that I have not yet written. But that discomfort has an excitement about it, and it is the necessary antecedent of one of the best kinds of happiness.”

Don’t fear that you are a one-book writer. Having written one novel, you know you can write another. Relax in the confidence and mastery you gained from that achievement—and prepare to conquer even greater challenges in the future.

Jim denney Book 1 Writing In Overdrive - small

Fear No. 7. “I’m afraid I might fail.”

We fear the failure that comes with rejection. We are afraid of putting our work in front of editors and readers. We are terrified that they will condemn our work—and us with it.

Margaret Atwood tells the story of how, in 1983, she spent six months in a fisherman’s cottage in the picturesque English seacoast village of Blakeney, Norfolk. Her plan: To write a complex and richly detailed dystopian novel. Her problem: The scope of the novel intimidated her. She found herself spending most of her time bird-watching, reading bad historical novels, and nursing chilblains caused by the cold damp weather. The one thing she didn’t do was write. She later referred to that time as “six months of futile striving.”

Atwood found herself blocked by fear of failure. Her vision of the novel loomed so large in her mind that she spent six months not knowing where to begin. Finally, she did what every successful writer must do in order to overcome the fear of failure: She wrote. She began to write bits and pieces of the story. She began to write characters and conflict and dialogue. It didn’t all hang together at first, but that didn’t matter. After six stalled months, she was finally producing pages again.

“I grasped the nettle I had been avoiding,” she later recalled, “and began to write The Handmaid’s Tale“—eventually her most acclaimed and successful novel. Her advice to anyone who is paralyzed by the fear of failure: “Get back on the horse that threw you, as they used to say. They also used to say: you learn as much from failure as you learn from success.”

 

Fear No. 8. “I’m afraid I might succeed.”

This is the most paradoxical fear of all. We want to succeed—yet many of us fear success as much as we want it. You may wonder why anyone would fear success. Answer: For the struggling writer, success is the great unknown. We ask ourselves: Will success change my life? Will I have to do media interviews? Will my familiar life become different and more difficult? It’s so much easier to hide at my keyboard, pretending to be a writer, than to actually achieve literary success.

We writers also resist success because we fear that once we achieve it, we may not be satisfied with it. We resist success because, deep down, we suspect we don’t deserve to be successful. We resist success because we lack confidence that we can sustain it. Or we resist success because we fear that, once we are successful, we will no longer be motivated to write.

Irish novelist Anne Enright put it this way: “I have no problem with failure—it is success that makes me sad. Failure is easy. I do it every day, I have been doing it for years. I have thrown out more sentences than I ever kept, I have dumped months of work, I have wasted whole years writing the wrong things for the wrong people. . . . I am more comfortable with the personal feeling that is failure than with the exposure of success. I say this even though I am, Lord knows, ambitious and grabby.”

Those who are afraid of success often settle for second-rate goals. Too timid to dream big dreams, many writers settle for halfhearted daydreams. We defend ourselves against disappointment by setting our sights low, and by refusing to care deeply about becoming a writer.

Anne Enright suggests that the solution to the fear of success is to dream extreme dreams, to set high goals for your art, and dare to pursue those goals for all you’re worth. “I still have this big, stupid idea,” she once said, “that if you are good enough and lucky enough you can . . . [write] a book that shifts between its covers and will not stay easy on the page, a real novel, one that lives, talks, breathes, refuses to die. And in this, I am doomed to fail.”

We may all, as writers, be doomed to fail in the pursuit of our grand, idealized dreams—but so what? If our dreams are so vast and glorious that we cannot help but fail, then let’s embrace our impossible dreams and spend ours lives fearlessly pursuing them.

You never know. If you shoot for the moon, you may at least get over the fence.

 

Write fearlessnessly

A young writer recently told me she was considering independently publishing her novel. I said, “That’s great. Indie publishing is a time-honored path to becoming an author. I’ve published in both the indie and traditional worlds myself. The list of indie authors includes some celebrated names—Dickens, Poe, Twain, and Whitman, to name a few. Why are you choosing to go indie?”

“Traditional publishing scares me,” she said. “I’m afraid of having my work judged by agents and editors.”

“If you choose indie publishing, that’s fine,” I said, “but please don’t base your decision on your fears. Make a decision based on your strengths and your courage. It takes courage to be your own publisher, to market yourself, to go on social media and interact with your readers. If you think agents and editors are tough, wait till you see your reader reviews on Amazon! Whether you submit your work to traditional publishers or you choose to self-publish, it takes a lot of courage to be a writer.”

In closing, let me suggest a few ways to bolster your courage to write:

• Study the lives of successful writers, learn about the struggles and obstacles they overcame—and especially the fears they conquered to achieve their dreams.

• Attend writers’ workshops, conferences, and classes to sharpen your skills and build your confidence.

• Join a writer’s group for people who are serious about the craft. Critique groups are especially helpful in toughening you to receive constructive criticism.

• Learn to view every challenge as a voyage of discovery; transform fear into adventure, anxiety into excitement.

• Don’t be a perfectionist. Don’t obsess over what editors and readers may think. Instead, have fun! Creativity should be joyful, exciting, and exuberant. Think of writing as finger-painting with words. Shed your inhibitions, become a child again, make a glorious mess, and just write.

• Write freely and write quickly. It’s paradoxical but true: The best solution to the fear of writing is writing. As Emerson said, “Do the thing you fear, and the death of fear is certain.”

To be a writer is to suffer fear—but great writers are not ruled by their fears. They are driven by their passions and strengthened by their courage.

Live courageously. Write fearlessly. Be brilliant.

 

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Jim Denney is the author of Writing in Overdrive: Write Faster, Write Freely, Write Brilliantly. He has written more than 100 books, including the Timebenders science fantasy adventure series for young readers—Battle Before Time, Doorway to Doom, Invasion of the Time Troopers, and Lost in Cydonia. He is also the co-writer with Pat Williams (co-founder of the Orlando Magic) of Leadership Excellence and The Difference You Make. A veteran of both traditional and indie publishing, Jim is a member of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Follow Jim on Twitter at @WriterJimDenney, and follow his blog at http://unearthlyfiction.wordpress.com/.

 

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