I’m a big fan of motivational reading. Over the years I’ve used books, talks, podcasts, and more, to get me over humps and out of slumps. Now I’d like to share all that has resonated with me, in the hope that, wherever you are on your writing journey, the things I’ve learned might inspire you too.
Each of my Author’s Mindset series has four topics. I suggest you pick one topic and spend some time (at least a week, or as long as you need) mulling over the suggestions, and implementing any new habits you need to propel your writing forward.
Do you ever feel stuck for inspiration, or are you unsure how to develop your writing skills?
There’s one thing I’ve noticed that all the published writers have in common: they’re always reading, always learning, always trying to develop their work to the next level. That’s the fun of writing, you never really master the challenge – you can always become more skilled at storytelling. I love listening to writers talk, both for pure entertainment, and because there’s often a gem in their conversation that inspires me in my own work.
However, that doesn’t mean you have to do every writing course and read every craft book out there. It’s easy to become a perpetual course-taker, and so if you’re adept at seeking advice, but your novel has stalled, it might be worth asking yourself if your learning has become another form of procrastination.
When you write for publication, your journey is unlikely to be a linear path to success. There’ll be frustration and disappointment. You’ll be asked to dig in, over and over, when you’re exhausted and don’t know if you’ve got any reserves left. You’ll have to find more time than you ever thought you had just to write the book, and spend many more hours editing it. Through all this you’ll need to face your biggest fears and vulnerabilities, wondering if it’s good enough, if it will ever get that perfect publication deal, and if you’ll then be successful in reaching all the readers you’d love to find … and when you do get that far there’s all the external criticism and public speaking to deal with. Yikes! Why does anyone do this?
But we all know the answer to that one, don’t we! Or we wouldn’t be here.
So, best of luck to you. Keep growing, and get your work out there. And remember: confidence may come and go, but you can always, always be brave.
ACTION STEPS/THINGS TO CONSIDER
Take stock of the writing courses, books, podcasts or blogs you’ve read over the past year. Which ones did you enjoy the most? Which helped you put words on the page? Assign the most value to those that have helped you move forward in your own work, and look for similar opportunities or new content from your chosen mentors.
Remember that you can be selective. If advice doesn’t ring true for you, know that you can set it aside, but evaluate why you’re doing so. However, be aware that advice that scares you or makes you question your assumptions might turn out to be invaluable. The things we resist can sometimes be exactly what we need.
If you find yourself overwhelmed by advice, refocus on your work. What are you aiming for? What do you need? If you need time, a writer’s retreat might be the thing. If you feel your weakness is plotting then look for a specific class or podcast to help you. Look outwards from your goals, otherwise the flood of information available can easily make your writing challenges seem bigger than they really are.
Listen to these Better Reading podcasts from 2019, where five incredible writers and one publisher break down the different aspects of the publishing process:
– The Writer, with Trent Dalton
– Story and Plot Development with Dervla McTiernan
– Character Building with Belinda Alexandra
– Research and Setting with Candice Fox
– Dialogue with Melina Marchetta
– The Road to Publication with Nikki Christer
A HELPFUL RESOURCE FOR GROWTH:
Any of the wonderful writing books by Donald Maass
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