Friday, 24 January 2014

Writing Hurdles? What Writing Hurdles?

OMG. I haven't written a word all week. The portents foresee gloom, doom and disaster. Panic, panic, panic. What am I to do? Shall I ever put pen to paper again? I'll never finish my book/short story/blog post/whatever now. My writing roll and role are over!

It's true. Many of us give up before we even get started. As a self-published author, I believe I can now confidently say that I have passed the first and possibly the second hurdles of what it takes to be a writer/author in the modern world.

What many don't realise, and I surely didn't, is that there's oh so much more to writing than writing. I thought self-publishing would be a relatively easy process. Write, read a 'how to' on uploading and publishing to Amazon, hit the button, done. Sit back and enjoy the profits of my labour, right? Of course it didn't happen that way. I was disappointed, but hey, my book was a volume of poetry and maybe too obscure. It didn't matter that much. It was an experiment, really.

Six months later, and not another word written, I decided to get serious. I downloaded several ebooks and articles on writing ebooks and how to make money writing them, that sort of thing. I read a few blog posts and did a short writing course. Okay, I was ready. Ready to write yes, but not ready for all the other  information I needed to acquire, digest, absorb, learn, make sense of, sort, then use to live and grow in self-published author land.

I discovered tons of information written by mega numbers of experts on how to write, what to write, tips, tricks, hints, suggestions, directions, sites and links to more information. I subscribed to blogs, newsletters, writers groups and forums and set up several social media pages when I was only a casual Facebook user. Was I going to set up a blog (yes), a website (not yet). I learned about Author Profiles, Product Descriptions, Mobi, epub, Scrivener, Createspace, Smashwords, D2D, Gadgets, Widgets, Platforms (not shoes) and more, more more!

Hey, I hadn't signed up for all of this. I just wanted to write, dammit. But here I was, head near exploding point, ears ringing like a million cicadas singing, heart pounding and body so tired I couldn't sleep (okay I have CFS so this is often 'near normal', but by far not so extreme). How was I ever going to be able to do all this, and write? How could anyone? There was sooooo much to learn, it seemed totally bamboozling and I realised how little I actually knew. I needed to learn the language, the landscape and the layout of self-publishing land AS WELL AS the process of writing.

But here's the rub. I'm the 'quintessential' writer. I work alone, I'm a loner, the lone wolf who comes last to the author forums and writers groups. I'm the last to seek help, preferring to get on with the job by myself because it takes time - that precious commodity - to interact in groups and forums - time away from writing. However, and of course, the flip side is that groups and forums help simplify and speed up learning through shared knowledge, and can help reduce that mountain of new information.

Did I mention hurdles? Yes, I did. Anyone stepping solo into the realm of writing these days needs to be very focused, very brave and very far-sighted. You also need a brain suited to multi-tasking and assimilating a vast amount of new stuff. Being younger would help! Looking back six months, I consider I've jumped that particular hurdle, rather, crawled up to it, knocked it flat, then crawled over it. I'm still crawling and learning, but I made it past what I consider to be an important point in the writing journey.

And that's precisely what this is. It's The Yellow Brick Road of writing. I know that now. I know that there will always be speed bumps, diversions, distractions, mountains, hurdles and more, all along the road to wherever I'm going.

However, in the process of learning, I became temporarily totally confused, lost the path, and almost the plot, but that was because I was trying to be like everyone else, do like everyone else, and work as fast as everyone else seemed to be. I wanted to know everything as fast as possible so that I could produce the best books as fast as possible. Again, I expected I would then be able to ease back and reap the rewards sooner rather than later. Still it didn't happen, but I got lucky again, and came to came to realise that having crossed that hurdle, I WOULD SURVIVE. I have survived the initial steep learning curve, and I will survive if I miss a day or two of writing. I won't have a panic attack and I will take up my pen and write another day, so strong is my desire. I couldn't see that at the beginning because my head was not clear, there was too much for me to recognise that.

New writers want to get up to speed ASAP, especially I believe ones like myself who come to writing later in life and maybe without 'formal' writing training, if there is such a thing. We write because we have done everything else and never thought we could do this but have always wanted to. AND, I discovered it's important to do it your way. At first it was difficult to know what my way was, what my style was, so I tried several. Now I'm starting to find it and I'm relaxing and much more happy, not the overwrought, almost lost the plot, the plan, the Road and myself person I was six months ago. What a relief! I'm now finally ready to continue my journey.
I know there will always be hurdles, speed bumps, detours. I also know there will be fields of flowers, friends, joy, laughter, love, light and success. In fact, I already have all of those, how lucky am I? I'm a self-published author, I've learned a valuable and interesting new craft, one I happen to love, I work at home in a beautiful environment and have met and made wonderful new friends, the lone wolf me. It was tough and touch and go there at times, but never did I think to give up.

If you love what you do, then you too are on the right path and one by one the hurdles will be behind you.

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