Writing Challenges

March 4, 2019 at 8:29 pm | Posted in Australia, Mental Health, Publishing, self-publishing, Writing, Writing and Life | 16 Comments
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When I discovered I really could write creative fiction back in 2005 at the age of fifty-seven, a flood-gate opened and words poured from my pen (I write my drafts by hand). I lost count of the number of short stories, poems, articles and memoir items I wrote over the following few years. And then I decided to write a novel, aimed at 10-16-year-olds, and things changed.

 

I wrote the following reflection in July 2011, when that first novel was about to go out into the world:

 

It took me four years to write Ben’s Challenge. All the way through, from the idea (it was originally going to be a short story) to the completion I had to battle to get it done. No, it’s not that I can’t write, or that it took many revisions, or that I didn’t know where the story was going and what I wanted it to do. And it’s not that I don’t know my grammar, punctuation and spelling either – I grew up in an era when schools taught that kind of thing. No, the problem was deeper than any or all of those.

My problem was a lack of confidence in myself, which manifested itself in many ways. The main issue I had to overcome was procrastination; after all, if I didn’t write, nobody could say it was rubbish, could they – and that included myself.

A life-long struggle with depression also helped make my self-doubts into mountains I was certain I couldn’t climb. Even when my critique group expressed admiration for my style of writing and for the story, I wasn’t able to relax and go with the flow.

Funnily enough, it was during my eighteen months of treatments for breast cancer that I wrote the most easily and with the most confidence. I suppose writing was no longer my sole focus, so I took the pressure off myself. My doubts became background noise, which I could often ignore. . .

 

After publishing Ben’s Challenge, it took me a couple of years to start on my next novel, this one for Young Adults. I had to work up the courage to see if the first book was just a one-off or if I was a “real writer”. As I had in writing that first one, I battled through self-doubt, bouts of depression and procrastination – again in spite of my writing critique partners’ and my husband’s support and encouragement. One period of not writing lasted for a whole year. As a result, it again took about four years before the book was finished. Thursday’s Child was published in February 2018 and those who have read it say it is an amazing and wonderful story – even better than the first one.

I have an idea for a follow-up to Thursday’s Child – a strong story line and again, challenging themes. I have written a few chapters, but am struggling to get moving on it. There always seems to be something more important to do – that’s the usual problem of procrastination, I suppose. You’d think that, after two well-received books, I would have confidence in myself; that the words would flow as they did fourteen years ago, but they don’t. I am scared that I won’t be able to pull it off again.

I know that if I really want the story to see the light of day, I must, as with the other stories, fight my way through the self-doubts, the fear and insecurity, and get on with the job. Or maybe I’ll just wait until after I’ve delivered my part of a panel presentation on self-publishing at the Newcastle Writers’ Festival in a month’s time. Then I’ll get stuck into it. Oh, that sounds like more procrastination though, doesn’t it? Mmmmm…

 

Linda Visman, 4th March 2019

 

16 Comments »

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  1. I know how you feel (just a little because I haven’t written a book). I have started one but am caught up with the research at the moment. Then there is the A to Z. Nothing to do with the book but something I want to write about.

    I don’t suffer from depression but finding out about my NPE (non parental event) has made me try to recreate the life of my parents in fiction. Whatever turns you on I suppose.
    Anyway, best of luck with your writing. Sounds like you are well on the way to achieving your goal. What is life without something to aim for?
    Linda

    • Thanks, Linda.
      Sounds like your writing project might be one you need to do. I hope you get where you need to from doing it. All the best. 🙂

  2. Brava to you for battling through many challenges. I know about writers’ road blocks and salute you for publishing TWO already with more to come.

    • Thanks, Marian. It would be lovely if it all flowed, but I guess that’s just not me. I’ll keep battling on. 🙂

  3. Good luck with the book swirling around in your brain, Linda. I think we all need to challenge ourselves in some way when we take on such a daunting and time-consuming and public thing as writing a book. It may be time, or fear of failure, or other obligations, or that inner critic who doesn’t stop complaining. Sometimes I break my goals down into tiny tasks that are more easily accomplished and not so overwhelming. I hope you find the energy and courage to be creative and make your vision come true. 🙂 ❤

    • Thank you Diana. Yes, I break things down sometimes, & when I do, it is less stressful. I am a pantser and I write my stories a chapter at a time. I can’t do it within a framework, but have to let the characters lead the way. When I get down, they don’t talk to me.

  4. You have achieved so much, Linda, but I can relate to your feelings of self-doubt and insecurity, and procrastination is something I am all too familiar with. Despite all the ideas swirling around in my head, it is the sitting down and putting pen to paper that I find to be the hardest part when there are so many other things enticing me away.
    All the best with the Writers’ Festival.

    • So true Christine that we are too easily distracted by everything else around us. I think part of my problem too is guilt over doing my own thing instead of the things that need to be done. 😦

  5. Hi Linda, I enjoyed this and can certainly relate to you curent feelings. you are an amazing writer and hope you can fnd the ‘get back inot itedness’ soon x

  6. If it’s any consolation, I am no stranger to procrastination either. In fact, I invented it. The thing, I think, is to forget all about genre, and marketing, and good punctuation ( I do, as anyone who has tried to read me will testify!) and just enjoy the ride! Having said which, I know, sometimes it just doesn’t work. Sometimes you can get halfway through the book and find the plot doesn’t work. Never mind, we’ll start again tomorrow – or next week, maybe…

  7. Linda, it’s encouraging to read your story and be reminded that despite the fact that writing never seems to get easier and that self-doubt will probably persist, the key is to keep writing, to clear away distractions and to simply get down to it, again and again. Clearly you love writing; that’s what comes across to me. Despite everything, on balance it must give you more joy and fulfillment than fear and anxiety. Thank you for having written this. Josna

    • Thank you Josna. It is great to see you back on board with your blog too. I am hoping to get stuck into my third novel very soon. It has been fermenting in my head for quite a while, & it’s time to get it written.

  8. Linda, self-doubt assails the worthiest of us. Kudos to you for keeping on keeping on. Thank you for sharing this–just what I needed to read today.

    • I’m pleased my words resonated with you Damyanti. 🙂 I have been writing again lately and am happy it is so. I am not a fast writer, but I am on the way again. Best to you too. 🙂


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