Confidence

Writing can be a very lonely profession. I am not for one moment suggesting that writers are friendless or that we live a hermit-like existence on coffee and cheese sandwiches, but much of our working day is of necessity spent inside our own heads. The trouble with spending a great deal of time with ourselves is that we think. We are our nation’s thinkers after all.

What happens if you give a world class thinker nothing but themselves to think about? Self-reflection, insecurity, and boozy Monday mornings, that’s what!

So, how do we avoid the negativity trap? Well, it has a great deal to do with the difference between Egotism and Confidence. Egotism can be defined as the drive to maintain and enhance favourable views of oneself, and generally features an inflated sense of self importance. Confidence on the other hand is the feeling or belief that one can rely on someone or something; firm trust.

Egotism is emotional toddlerhood – Confidence is emotional adulthood

Egotism always seeks the I and the me. Confidence is always certain of the I and the me and is looking out for the you. We all walk this emotional tightrope. Some days the toddler wins but it helps if you are aware that it is there throwing the mother of all tantrums and you learn not to listen to the ‘I can’t’, ‘They didn’t’, ‘I don’t want to’.

Confidence comes with knowing what you can do for other people. Perhaps you excel at magazine articles, technical papers or short stories. Perhaps you write copy for a website or advertising. Every small success working for the pleasure of other  people will bring you increased confidence.

No amount of success working solely for your own benefit will silence the toddler. You need to learn to grow up and walk away.

And so do I.

 

 

 

Spam I Am

Marketing is all about putting your work in front of those people who will buy. It’s also about persuading those on the fence that it’s worth parting with the hard earned cash in order to have your product. It’s all about place and persuasion.

Sadly there seems to be a new plague of poorly based marketing at the moment, brought on no doubt by the new leap into self publishing. There is good marketing material and poor marketing material but unless it is properly placed it is equally useless and on some occasions may even do harm to your reputation.

Writers. Please don’t Spam.

An example of poorly placed marketing : An author has excitedly completed a novel. It has a glorious digital front page; I mean full spectacular colour. They have a twitter account that they have built by following mostly those people who interest them, Publishers, Editors, Writers, Bookstores and such like. They decide to incessantly tweet about their creation begging people to read their work. They send DM responses asking for downloads and sales. 

People will get very frustrated with that author. He may even lose business. You see, he is confusing the target audience with his creative peers. Don’t sell books to writers. We have books. We also have no money. Sell books to readers who have no books and the sense to get a job.

 Twitter for authors. You really need to have two accounts.

One for the relationship with business professionals: publisher, editor, copy writer, cover artist, authors, peers.

One for the relationship with your audience: readers, book clubs, book stores, people who like other works in your genre.

You need to build both audiences in a different way. Please be considerate of other people working in your field. Editors, publishers and authors get a lot of marketing information and you can do a lot for your reputation by being polite, brief, and directing them to your marketing feed rather than spamming them.

Marketing: Think Place. Think Persuasion

 

Lie to me

Isn’t that the basic premise of fiction? I spend all of my days writing about people who don’t do the things I say and certainly aren’t in the places I mention. Usually they aren’t even real people. In fact I am a great big “Liar liar pants on fire” most of the time.

The funny thing is that amongst all the fibs, of which there are many, the thing I am searching for is the truth. The truth of what it means to be human. The truth and mechanics of relationships. To engage a reader in a story you have to find the spark of recognition, the place where a reader realises yes I know this, I have lived this, this man is like me.

In order to get to that place your writing has to remain true to your character.  Are you trying to make a person behave in a way they simply wouldn’t? Does it ring true? You see people really don’t step outside their normal range of behaviour unless they are placed in extreme circumstances and even then it is unusual.

So figure out what your character’s usual reactions would be and then you will know if you step outside them. If you are going there, do it with purpose and conviction. There are times when you can use this fact to advantage but it must be with a character your audience knows very well and I think possibly several books into a series just to shake up the pace. Part of the truth behind people is that we do things for certain reasons; sometimes we don’t know the reason, sometimes we have some insight. We are complicated and understanding and using complicated characters to get to the truth is just about the highest goal of literary fiction.

So Lie to me, I want to know the truth.

Words are Freedom

Consider the blank page before you. Does it make you anxious?
Are you feeling time pressure?

Do you realise that you are god?

In the universe of this page, you rule. Dive to the depths of the ocean. Visit other galaxies. Live the life of a soccer mom. Drive the despair of a serial killer. Paint the colours of the forest. Write the words you can never say. Invent a community. Change history. Delete time and re-arrange it.

Words are Freedom.

Be free.

We don’t talk anymore

No, not you and me.

I’m thinking about the writer and their subconscious.

The funny thing is that everyone has one and we pay it very little attention until it plays up. A little like the hazard warning light on the car.
Are you and your subconscious on speaking terms? If you aren’t then you will struggle to write and eventually grind to a page fearing halt.
Writer’s Block anyone?

So, how do I keep my subconscious happy?

(a) Read – Good stuff in, good stuff out.

(b) Resolve any emotional issues where possible. Forgive the guy next door for throwing the hedge clippings over the fence, forgive your mother for that awkward conversation with her best friend’s daughter, forgive yourself for Chocolate Tuesday.
I am not talking about the huge stuff that needs counselling and a 50 minute hour but life’s irritations. Just let them go. It’s not worth it.
The bird that pooped on your car is feeling better because it pooped and not worse because you are cross about it.

(c) Listen to yourself. If you are struggling to write then there may be an issue with what you are writing. Are you trying to make a character behave in a way that he/she wouldn’t.

(d) Sometimes the subconscious calls a time out because it has something else it wants to say. Leave the piece you are writing and work on a short story. Maybe write a poem or a song. When your subconscious has had its say it will let you work on your current piece.

(e) You are playing Deadline Chicken. Trust me, whichever of you blinks first it won’t be pretty.
Tell yourself that you are not writing the piece. This is not writing the piece, this is just making a list of things I would put into it if I was writing it…which I’m not.
Once you have a basic outline expand it until you have a framework. Then write a little piece for each element of the framework.
Look. Almost a piece of work but not a piece of work.
You should now be able to convince yourself that writing the copy is child’s play. It’s nearly done look.

(f) Problems pass. You won’t always struggle. Everyone struggles. Everyone has blank days and prolific days. People who succeed at writing work on the bad days and don’t sweat it.

Literary Events 2 April 2013

Chipping Norton Litfest
18-21 April
http://www.chiplitfest.com

The Brympton literary Festival
19-21 April
http://www.brymptonfestival.co.uk

Verulam writer’s circle
20 April
http://www.verulamwriterscircle.org.uk

Stratford-upon-avon literary Festival
21 April – 5 May
http://www.stratfordliteraryfestival.co.UK

Hexham Book Festival
22 April – 2 May
http://www.hexambookfestival.co.uk