It’s certainly been a mad four months! Between tearing down and rebuilding the websites for my fiction and nonfiction writing, moving to a new house, visiting family, Halloween (busy time for us horror writers!), the release of Amenti, tearing down and rebuilding the nonfiction website AGAIN, and the day to day humdrum and drama of regular working life I’ve hardly had a moment to think.
I am exhausted. My brain has turned into some kind of porridge monster and refused to do more than occasionally go ‘gloop’.
It is at times like these that I am truly grateful for many pillars of support in my life. Family, Friends, and writer’s groups.
Today I would like to talk about one of those pillars of support, that being Writers groups.
Something all of us have in common is that we all have habits.
Human beings are, by and large, creatures of habit and routine. We routinely wake up at the same time every day, even without an alarm clock. We eat at similar times each day, and we carry out the same sort of activities day in and day out.
Now that might sound depressing, at least to some of us, but it needn’t be. By performing the same sort of tasks multiple times, you will notice that you become better and better at said tasks and we can manipulate this by building habits for the tasks we want to become better at.
I’ve spent a lot of time over the last few years researching how to build good writing habits. I’ve come across some great habits and some …less great habits. I’ve decided to share the five habits that I believe have been the most useful to me in improving my writing.
Despite the interval in my updates, (caused by a recent house move followed immediately by a holiday, then coming back to find the house had not magically sorted itself out) I love blogging.
It is my favorite way to reach out to people either through finding their blogs and commenting there or responding to comments on my blog. It is a unique way to communicate with people online and has many advantages over other kinds of social media.
You can say more in a blog than you can on Facebook or Twitter, you don’t need to be photogenic or have a good eye the way you do with Instagram, and you don’t need to have recording equipment/software the way you do with YouTube.
Blogging allows you to mix text, images, and video all in one place and speak to people on different levels. You can say so much more with a blog, and I’m still learning about all the different ways you can use a blog to connect with people.
Ever wondered how to write great characters?
I’ve been writing since I was old enough (and had enough motor control) to hold a pen.
Even when a tiny tot I was always telling stories, usually about the adventures my cuddly toys had when no one was around. As I grew older, I told stories about the neighbourhood cats and the family of wood pigeons that lived at the bottom of the garden. Then, as I grew older, still my stories became about my favourite TV show & video game characters, with a few of my own creations thrown in.
Why am I telling you this? Only to illustrate the point that I have been telling stories and writing them down since I was an infant. My mum still has my very first official book “Jack Cat’s Magic Show,” safely stored with the family photos.
But it was in college when I hit my late teens that I started actually taking writing seriously and sending my stories out into the world. I also started trying to learn as much as I could about writing, how to get better at it, what not to do and how to market myself. Unfortunately, in my early years, I absorbed every scrap of information blindly and as a result believed a lot of myths I now know to be false.
Today’s blog is going to be about some of these myths. I would like to dispel them as in my opinion they can be harmful if believed.
Twitter is a tricky beast; out of all the social media platforms, it was the one I had the most difficulty with.
As you may have noticed I can talk for Britain, getting me to shut up is an art form in and of itself, so when confronted with such a limited amount of characters I struggled. I’m strict with myself in my fiction and nonfiction writing, reading and re-reading and re-reading again, eliminating every unnecessary word but social media is usually where I am less restrained. I see social media as a way to truly connect with people, and my first thoughts were that I couldn’t be my genuine self if I was limiting myself so much.
But then I changed the way I looked at Twitter. I looked at it as a writing exercise, to try to say something meaningful in just a couple of words or to try to tell a story in a sentence. It was a fun exercise, but it didn’t interest anyone other than myself.
Once I decided I wanted to grow my Twitter following and turn it into something I actively used to promote my writing I made an effort to learn as much as I could as fast as I could. Some of the things I tried worked, others didn’t There was an embarrassing amount of trial and error until I found a formula that I could manage and showed some success.
Some of the below might not work for you the way they did for me. But I sincerely hope they do.
I’m a big fan of Facebook; I’ve been on it for years and use it as a way to stay in touch with the people that I have met throughout my life who are not within easy travelling distance. I’m connected to friends who physically live hundreds of miles away from me, and when we do meet up, it’s like we’ve never been apart all because of Facebook.
But when you’re a writer looking to market themselves you need to start using Facebook a bit differently to how you’ve used it before. You need to make a page and gather followers, the more followers you have, the more people will be aware of upcoming books, events and signings. It’s a great way to advertise what you’re doing to a huge audience for a relatively small cost if you use Facebook advertising or no cost if you don’t.
Building an audience. However, that can prove problematic. How do you find those who might be interested in what you have to say and write? How do you engage with them in such a way that it feels natural and not a forced way of selling your book?
Writing is a fickle beast.
Sometimes it comes easy; sometimes it does not. We can go for significant stretches of time with little or nothing to show for it. The blank page mocks us cruelly. Then there are periods of great abundance where sleep becomes something other people do because the ideas won’t leave us alone. Rarely is there a happy middle ground.
But that doesn’t stop us from trying, and you can create that fabled middle ground. You can train yourself to do almost anything.
Human beings are (generally) creatures of habit so why not make ourselves creatures of writing habit. Creating a habit helps you squeeze into the headspace for any particular task more easily. Setting yourself a nighttime routine will help you fall asleep sooner (usually), setting a morning routine will help you get to work on time, setting a writing habit will help you write each and every day.
Creating a daily writing practice helps, it took a while to settle in (apparently it takes at least 21 days to form a habit that will stick), but now that it’s there I find it easier and simpler to write at certain times of the day. Once I trigger my brain through the little rituals I’ve built up, it automatically shifts into writing mode.