Thursday, February 22, 2018

How To Gain Confidence in Your Writing


It can be tough to be a writer sometimes. For many of us, we face a daily battle with ourselves to try and keep going. Everything from rejection, procrastination to cringing as we read over our work can mean that we lose confidence as a writer, and for some, this means we eventually stop writing altogether.
Of course, it can happen in any profession, and even if we achieve a certain level of success, this doesn’t necessarily mean we will feel confident about our writing. But beating ourselves up about our mistakes and bullying ourselves into retreating is not the way we should live our lives!
Think about all the things you say to yourself that are negative, discouraging and downright mean? Would you ever dream of saying them to anyone else? We should start to change our attitudes about ourselves and realise that boosting our confidence and taking care of our happiness is a positive and helpful thing, not only for our self esteem and satisfaction but for those around us too.
So what can writers do to gain more confidence in their writing?
Tell yourself it’s not easy for anyone
When we aren’t feeling confident, we can feel quite isolated too. However, it’s imperative to try and put our feelings in perspective, remember that it is not that bad, and that pretty much every writer goes through the same thing.
Celebrate your terrible first draft
Everyone’s first draft is bad. But instead of focusing on that and wondering how you can possibly start to improve it, just take a moment to celebrate the fact that you actually finished it. Not many even get to this stage, and now you’ve got something, something exciting and real to work from - that is pretty awesome - so just take a moment to appreciate that.

Take pride in being a risk taker (whatever the outcome)
Don’t be afraid to take risks in your writing. Even if you end up failing, knowing that you weren’t just following the crowd or copying someone else will feel great and should give your confidence a deserved boost.
Be passionate in everything you do
If you stay true to yourself and stick to your passions, this will come through in your writing, translate to your reader and feel good too. Remember that writing should be fun, it should be rewarding and satisfying so don’t be negative about it, instead celebrate that you are doing something creative and exciting with your time.
Remember that you don’t have to have anyone’s approval or permission to write
No one can tell you to stop writing, and no one’s opinion is important enough to make you feel you aren’t good enough. Remember not everyone can like the same thing, and it only takes one person to like your writing, to ‘get’ what you are trying to do to make all the difference!
Keep writing as much as you can
Writing is a muscle, and to make it stronger; you need to work it out! The more you write, the better you will become, and the better you become, the more confident you feel. It’s as simple as that. So just keep trying to write as much as you can, and you’ll soon see an improvement in your confidence.
To build confidence in writing, you need to embrace the unknown, to take risks, to stay passionate and focused and just keep going - even when you don’t feel like it. If you manage to do this, your confidence will inevitably grow, and you’ll feel so much better for it too!

I have realized that writing is not easy for anyone, though I sometimes have trouble telling that to myself. I try not to judge, but sometimes I fell I won't be as good as anyone I have read. But then I try to tell myself I'm doing good for what I am doing. Everyone is different. Most of all, I tryout have fun doing it. That's what should matter most to anyone. 

I didn't view the first draft of my memoir as bad, just as a work in progress that needed more work. I think this is one way of seeing your fist draft, much better than seeing it as bad. I bet many of you would agree with this statement. 

I believe what is said here. It's what you make of it.


Tuesday, February 20, 2018

How Not to Sound Like a Pretentious Writer


When it comes to writing, whether fact or fiction, it is easy to sound pretentious. This can happen for many reasons be it that our egos want the reader to know how intelligent we are, or that we think readers won’t enjoy our writing if we don’t make it as smart as possible.
However, the problem with putting too much effort into writing intellectually is that not only does it slow us down and make us overthink things, it can also act as a distraction when it comes to getting out point across or advancing our plot.
So what can you do to ensure that you don’t sound like a pretentious writer? Follow these useful tips.

Check your language
Using an abundance of long and complicated words could put your reader off. Every time they have to check the meaning of a word, you have effectively taken them out of the story. If this happens too often it will be impossible to keep up, either they just won’t be able to immerse themselves in your novel, or they just won’t understand it! Reading your writing aloud to get an idea of whether it flows well or feels too convoluted and complicated is also a good idea.

Identify your reader
When it comes to avoiding pretentious writing, knowing who your reader is can help. Think about who you are hoping will read and appreciate your work. If you are writing a fictitious story for the general population, you should try to avoid creating a piece of writing that is overly complex. The average reading level for an adult American is that of a 7th or 8th grader, and aged nine years old in the UK, so it is essential to bear this in mind as you write.

Have fun with your writing
Writing should be fun and if you are having fun and enjoying what you do you are less likely to get bogged down in trying to make your writing seem too clever. Your enjoyment and enthusiasm will come through in your book and will mean your readers enjoy reading your work more too. The more sincere and truthful you are with your story the more genuine and authentic it will seem too.

Don’t over complicate your plot
An overly complicated plot can be difficult to follow and can confuse your readers. While it’s great to be smart and surprise your readers if you try too hard to confuse them or make your story too complicated to follow they’ll soon lose interest and may give up altogether.

Don’t over punctuate
Over punctuating or trying to be too smart with your use of punctuation can also be considered pretentious and may be off-putting to your reader. Some authors do choose to use punctuation as a stylistic technique in their writing. However, if you aren’t sure it works, it’s probably best to leave it out.

By following the tips above you can ensure your writing doesn’t come across as pretentious or confusing, while still being able to write with style. Remember, you can write however you like, but if you want your writing to be enjoyed by others you do always have to keep your reader in mind!

How many of these have given any of you writers out there any trouble, if any at all? The first point I'd like to comment on, as I try to avoid using words that I rarely use, and if I use them at all, I have to be careful not to use them more than once. How many of you have ever used words like "taciturn" or  "neophyte,"  for instance? I didn't use these in my memoir, but it if I had, I would not have repeated them more than once. These just aren't used everyday and would definitely confuse the reader as suggested above.

As for punctuation, there were numerous times in my memoir when I wasn't sure whether to use a comma or dashes to offset a descriptive phrase. For example:

...They acted as if I’d missed the event of the year, when all I missed was one of those movies that—like The Wizard of Oz, It’s a Wonderful Life and The Ten Commandments—comes on TV every single year. ...
As you can see, I used the dashes, but am still not sure if I should have done it that way or if I should have used commas. And I believe this was just one instance when I wasn't sure how to offset a descriptive phrase this way. How do you think it should be done?
I've tried not to sound too overly clever in my writing. I may have a been a bit descriptive (in some people's minds), but it was just to make somethings clear and to describe some settings, such as the playground at the daycare I once attended, and several medical offices I have attended. I describe them to the best f my knowledge, to pit the picture the reader is trying to see. This is one important point in writing.
And I always make sure to have fun with writing. You're supposed to feel that way.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Common Mistakes That Will Annoy Your Readers


When it comes to writing books, we are all going to make mistakes. Even the most experienced and successful authors do. 
Even after redrafting and editing it is almost impossible to write an utterly flawless book, and that’s OK because your readers don’t need your book to be perfect, they just want to enjoy your story.
However, there are some easily made mistakes that your readers might be less forgiving of, and it is important to highlight and rectify these before you go on to publish your novel. Not doing so could lead to them to feel frustrated, annoyed and eventually put them off reading your book altogether!
So what are some common mistakes that might annoy your readers? Let’s take a look.
Using character names that are too complicated or similar to one another.
Calling your characters something that is impossible to pronounce is a definite no-no. Readers don’t want to struggle over what you have called your character. Having to re-read the character name each time it crops up will jerk them out of the story and quickly become irritating. Having characters whose names are too similar (unless for a specific purpose) could also confuse and muddle your reader and they might mix up one for the other.
Being overly descriptive
Writing beautiful, carefully thought out descriptions is one thing, but if you only focus on this and not on the pacing, the plot, the character development and so on, your story will seem dull and slow, no matter how good you are at setting the scene. Make sure your readers care about the people in your story and what’s happening to them. Without this you are on a path to nowhere.
Be too clever
Clever, original writing can be brilliant. But if you focus on this too much it is likely that other parts of your book will suffer. While experimenting is good, if you try to be too unusual, this will distract from your story and will likely confuse your reader. Jumping back and forth between different timelines, too many different character perspectives, using too much punctuation and so on can all have a negative effect. 
Taking too long to get stuck in
You might think it is really important to painstakingly introduce every character in your novel, but if you don’t get them to act soon, your story will feel very stagnant. Readers want action, they want a decent pace, they want to know what happens. Don’t drag your story out for as long as possible, rather tell it in the most exciting and exhilarating way you can.
Not trusting your reader
Over explanation, showing not telling, or the author's voice coming through the text will all destroy your story. Trust that your reader will ‘get’ what you are trying to say, or the picture you are trying to convey. They don’t need everything spelt out for them, and doing so will really get on their nerves!
These common mistakes are ones most writers are guilty of at some point. However, as long as you capture these errors and figure out how to rectify them before you present your book to your readers then you have nothing to worry about! So next time you are editing your book keep a look out for these and when you spot them tackle them right away!

Do you see a lot of this in what you have read or written yourself? I'm still taking a break from my memoir, but I have looked it over for passages that seem repetitive. This was one of the things I looked for when I first began revising/rewriting it after the initial draft that I had begun two years ago this month. But deleting some of these things just made it shorter and since then I have been adding more to make it longer, what seems like the typical length for a memoir. Some of the details I have added over the time I have been working the story may, in some people's eyes, seem frivolous, but I have seen other people's memoirs deliver such details that might seem just as frivolous to some. Such as fantasizing about going on a game show, watching the summer reruns of Friends, going to see movies I had only some interest in in the summer of 2001 while I was working for a boss I hated. I would do things like those to get my mind off the awful days at work I was having then. In the beginning, I had not said exactly what I had done on my days off from work, just that the two days off always seemed to pass too quickly and that I had little time for myself before it was back to the awful job. Does any of this seem annoying to you? (Though I am paraphrasing). 

And I noticed in my diary novel I repeated the phrase "trigger(ed) (ing) my anxiety" more than once. My mom had suggested rewriting that phrase in subsequent lines, though I have yet to even try doing so. Would this seem annoying to you? (Though I know you don't know that context in which it is being used). 

As for using similar character names, this seems hard to avoid when writing something from real life. Using a name more than once could cause confusion, but seems weird when you have known more than one person in your life with the same name. I mean, how many Jennifers have you encountered over your lie so far? Probably more than you can count or name. I didn't refer to any one specifically by this name or other over used names such as Karen or Lisa, rather In one part I made reference to "one of the many Jennifers, Karens, or Lisas..." and later to "another of the many Jennifers, Karens or Lisas...," implying that the girl who was speaking then had one of these names. I did this partly not to use the real names (which I worked hard to avoid doing), but also to emphasize that fact that I did (and still do) know a plethora of girls with these names. Every other girl to school seemed to have one of these names and that it was hard for me to grow up among them with a not-as-common name. 

How do you writers work around this?

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Too Scared to Write? Take Action Now!


It may be that you have never written anything, it may be that you used to write years ago and are deliberating about whether to try again. It may be that you wrote something last week, but now, for some reason, feel as though you can’t write anymore.
Facing your fears about writing is something that all writers must do at some point - we all have moments of doubt, of feeling we aren’t good enough. Or perhaps moments of fear that we will be laughed at, or rejected or simply that we’ll keep writing for years and never achieve our goals.
There is no doubt that writing can be a scary business and there are no guarantees for any of us. But if writing is your passion and your dream, letting fear stand in your way is something that just won’t do!
So how can you take action to conquer your writing fears? Let’s take a look at some tried and tested techniques.

Fear of failure
Fear of failure is a very common writer’s fear. It’s not surprising as failure for a writer can take many forms. Whether it’s receiving a rejection letter or feeling you’ve failed yourself because your work isn’t progressing as you’d like, the worry that you’ll fail can stop some writers in their tracks.
Try to remember that being creative is about taking risks. It’s scary and messy and chaotic. It sometimes flows and bursts with energy, and sometimes stops and hides away. Accepting that writing is a process of discovery and that it won’t always be steady and constant can help writers to let go of this fear. Remember the more you practice your writing, the better at it you’ll become, and the better you become, the more confident you’ll feel. Just break the cycle of fear, and keep pushing through and as long as you keep going, you can’t fail.

Fear of feeling like a fraud
Even if you are an incredibly successful writer, you may still have that weird sense of imposter syndrome - that you aren’t really supposed to be successful, that it’s all a massive mistake and that any day now you’ll get found out. 
Accept that if you are writing, that makes you a writer. No matter if you’ve never had anything published or you’ve written a bestseller. You don’t have to prove yourself to anyone; you don’t need to make anyone like your writing. Many writers are so scared of not getting the approval they crave that they stop writing altogether. If they don’t write, no one can dislike their writing. If they don’t write, they never have to be pushed outside of their comfort zone.
It’s OK to believe in yourself and to be proud of everything that you have achieved. Remember that you don't have to show your work to anyone until you are ready, and when you feel ready you’ll feel as though you have put the work in, and therefore if you do get recognition, accept it - because you deserve it!

Fear of running out of ideas
Many writers share the common fear that one day they just won’t have anything left to say. This can be particularly true if you’ve already written something that has done quite well. How will you ever top it? How will you ever find anything interesting and read-worthy to write again?
The truth is that writer’s rarely run out of ideas if they don’t want to. There are so many different ways to gather inspiration, and you never know when a great idea for your next story might strike. So accept that this fear is irrational, and there will always be things you can do to get those creative juices flowing once more. 

Fear of having no control
When we write our stories, before we share them with anyone they are completely our own, and we are in total control. The idea that we then have to part with them send them off without any way of being able to control the outcome, or even the timeline can be particularly challenging for writers. Suddenly this project you have put your all into is no longer your own - this can feel very daunting indeed. 
Try to accept those things you cannot change. Once you have put your work out there, you have to allow for the fact that it is no longer entirely yours. All pieces of writing are collaborations, between you - the author, your editor, your publisher, and, most importantly, your reader. 
You cannot have complete control, but that’s okay. No true artist is entirely in control of their work because it is subjective to those who receive it. You can’t control how people will react to your stories, but that's what’s so magical about them, as no two readers will take away the same from it - how cool is that?
Writing can be daunting, but it also has so many positives. So if you are feeling too scared to write, try to take a deep breath, take the plunge and don’t let fear get in the way of anything you want to do!

I've been trying to follow the advice given just in the title line today as I had a rather intriguing dream last night that I wanted to write down. It was still fresh in my mind this morning, unlike some most other dreams I have had. I finally pressured myself to write down what I remembered and add what I think could go into the possibles try to come out of this dream. I didn't come up witan full story just yet, but at least I got the idea down for possibly working on it more in the future. I'm still trying to decided how to finish up my other two writing projects and how much farther I want to take each of them. I want to get my memoir reading for the writing contest I saw online (the deadline is at the end of September). I especially am not sure how to end my diary novel and now it seems I could start another book for that one, thus starting a series. But at least I got my idea down as I had wanted to do. I'm glad to have gotten some ideas for a story, but I can't seem to decide which one to work on right now. Though I'll probably put the dream one aside for now, now that I have most of what I could recall from the dream written down. 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Happy Valentines/Friendship Day

Today at work is our Valentines/Friendship party. It'll be a pot luck with some games.

Below is my candy machine we made a while ago at work for art class. I just filled mine with some candy hearts.

These were made from terra cotta planters, glass bowls, and wooden knobs. E6000 Adhesive was used to  glue the pieces together, and the painted pots were sprayed with Modge Podge.  I decorated mine with a heart, peace symbol and smily face.

Here are some instructions for making the candy holder or gumball machine. (This one requires using two dishes, one under the glass bowl and on top of the pot; we only used one dish for the lid.) The image below is from the link.


Tuesday, February 13, 2018

How to Deal With Critics


When you’re trying to achieve something great in your life, you will deal with critics. The thing is, you can let those critics tear you down or you can use them to motivate you. You’ll always have the choice. 
Your greatest critics might come from your friends and family. Understand that success changes people. If your friends or family are acting negatively towards your dreams, you need to stop surrounding yourself with them. It’s hard enough trying to become successful on your own let alone when you have people bringing you down. 
If you listen to the doubters long enough, you’ll doubt yourself. When that happens, you might as well be finished because there’s almost no way to come back. 
The only way you can deal with critics is to take action. Put your head down and continue to work. They can say anything they want about you, but they can’t take away your work ethic.
You will get critiqued no matter what you do. People will always have a stark comment about you. Don’t let this get to you and control only what you can control. You can control your work ethic but you can’t control what someone says about you. 
You need to learn the difference between someone who is being mean and someone who is giving you feedback. There’s a thin line between them. I used to think any comment about myself was mean before realizing some people are genuinely providing feedback for me. 
Sometimes you need to embrace your critics because you can learn a great deal from them. You can learn what you need to work on. Always remember though, only take advice from someone you’d be willing to change places with. 
When someone gives you criticism, take a few seconds before responding. This will allow you to have a clear head and relinquish you from making any comments you wish you could take back later on. 
The next time someone critiques you, use it as fuel for motivation.

Yes, I am aware I will be faced with this if I let others see what I have written so far. I know to expect this just from letting a relative see what I have written. Many say you should get people you don't really know to read your work, but I am having problems finding someone who will do that. I did get the memoir teacher to read my story, instead of taking her advanced memoir writing class. And getting family to read my stuff has been nearly impossible lately. Some I know would not be interested in doing so.  But mo matter who reads my stuff eventually and give criticism, I will keep going as suggested.