I was so excited when a couple of weeks ago a friend of mine asked me to assist her with her book project, on a paid basis. I was honoured that she’d choose to include me in her book-writing journey. I so believe in her and what she has to offer the world, and since she works in the not for profit sector, I offered to work on the project pro bono, and refused to quote her an hourly rate. She thanked me, and said maybe we’d see about that.
I’ve worked on plenty of paid projects before, some on a self-employed basis, some in-house or as part of a salaried job. I know that I’m experienced and good at what I do. But there’s always this part of me that doubts myself and what I have to offer. Sometimes, such as in situations like this one, I wonder whether it’s truly because of my generosity, and my passion to help another in their writing journey, or if it is because of self-doubt. I find myself wondering, What if they don’t like what I do? What if I missed something? What if I’m not professional enough in my approach? What if I’m too professional? What if I come across as critical? Who am I, to do this? What do I really have to offer? The questions and negative thoughts can often seem endless.
Maybe what I present as being generous and sacrificial really speaks of my vulnerability as a writer/editor. Maybe I hide behind a mask of good deeds and worthy causes, because I fear that if I place a value on my work and my service, someone might turn around and say, “You’re not worth it.”
I believe that generosity with my time and my gifting is part of my mandate, and I hope that however advanced I am in my career, I will always dedicate a portion of my time to investing into others. But I also know that I need to keep my thoughts, motivations and confidence in check. Writing can be a lonely and vulnerable journey, and if I look to others to appraise my worth, my work will reflect that.
Be confident in who you are, and what you have to offer the world. Know your value, and know that whether you decide to give your work away or put a price on it,who you are and what you give is priceless.
My beautiful and creative genius friend Sairz just dedicated her latest piece to me 😊❤️ Have a listen!
I love sharing creativity. There is little that is more genuine, heartfelt, or personal than a gift springing from your talent and passion. Share your words, music, art, or whatever it is you have to give, with another today. Xx
Are you stuck on your latest book? Or do you have an idea for a novel inside you, but you don’t know where to start? Whatever stage of the process you’re at, a helpful exercise can be to write the blurb that would go on the back cover. You’ll need to simplify your ideas enough to clarify your structure and plot, and you’ll also find it gives you an overview to know where there might be gaps in your project. Try it! :)
Let me introduce you to an idea generator. All you need is a die. Roll twice for who, and once for every other category. You can then write a short piece based on your result.
So, for example, I roll 2, 6, 2, 5, and 4. I could then try to write a story about how an asylum seeker bumped into a millionaire when they were both admitted to hospital at the same time, which resulted in an important decision, that will affect both of their futures. Try to give your story a little depth. Name your characters. Here’s an unedited excerpt from my attempt:
As I do every morning, I started my day in prayer. I thanked God for allowing me to escape the war, I asked for the safety of my parents and friends still in Syria. I forgave those who want to hurt me, and I blessed those who have helped me. Today. Today would be the day that would change everything. I told myself this as I prayed, as I told myself every morning.
I started coughing. I have a constant sore throat, but I usually ignore it. Today, I could no longer ignore it, because I coughed up blood. One of the other women called for help as I collapsed (whether from weakness or fear, I don’t know), and the next thing I knew, I was in the emergency department of a local hospital, despite my protests. It was there that I met Ray.
The opportunities are endless from this. I might never again look at this quick response to the given prompts, but it served a valuable purpose in warming me up for my writing. Or, I could find myself intrigued by the ideas that were generated, and decide to try to develop the story. I’d then spend some time on background research, for example into the Syrian war, treatment of refugees, an illness that might be the possible cause for our main character’s admittance into hospital. The opportunities are endless; the only limit, my imagination.
Why don’t you give the idea generator a go? I made mine very quickly using the first things that came into my head, which maybe were influenced by the news, things I care about, something I’d read, and so on. Use mine, create your own table, or ask a friend to make one for you. You could even play it as a game with your friends or children. I’d love to hear what you’ve created!
Recently, I attended a local group in my community for writers. I had no idea what or who to expect, and felt apprehensive as I walked into the little room off the library. I was warmly welcomed and introduced to the ten or so other writers who were there; who represented a variety of genres, experience levels, backgrounds and success. It was a group of mixed personalities and tastes, but who had a common interest and purpose: writing.
After a quick recap of a recent trip to a self publishing house that a couple of the group had been to, each of the writers took it in turn to share an excerpt of recent work (apart from the odd “I’ve been too busy this week” or “I’ve nothing to share”, or mine: “I’ll just watch this time, thanks”). The group responded to the different pieces with laughs in the right places, thoughtful comments and encouragement, as well as discussions on how work could be improved or any inconsistencies noticed.
More than anything, I valued the reminder of how important it is to have a supportive community around you. If you want to be a writer, surround yourself with other writers. Not only will you gain new friends, but you’ll have people who understand you (not everyone can relate to needing to turn the light on at 3am because you’ve awoken from a nightmare that would make a brilliant book!) and a library of people who can offer help, encouragement, and accountability.
I suggested to a friend recently about joining a writers group, and she commented that she was concerned about idea-stealing, and this is a valid point. Sharing with other writers does involve a certain amount of trust, vulnerability and respect. You’re all in the same boat here, and you’ll only ever share what you feel comfortable in sharing. What I’ve found in both formal and informal meetings with other writers is that 99% of the time, people will celebrate your ideas and help you to develop them, but have their own idea or project that they’re working on and they’re not interested in taking on yours.
If you’re not sure about going along to an existing group, why not start your own? You’d be surprised at who in your world would be interested in joining a group focussed around writing. Now I can almost hear you yelling at me, “But I can’t do that!”, “What do I have to offer?”, “I’m only just beginning to write!” and so on. The point here isn’t that you have to be any kind of expert (or I wouldn’t be sat here right now writing this blog….) but more that you can facilitate something and bring other like minded or similarly inspired people together to create a community around a cause. Promise me you’ll think about it?!
PS. Just to demonstrate the power of others, this blog was written because of another person. I have never met Jade. Apart from a few mutual friends and interests, I know little about her. Yet we share a connection, a love for words. Earlier this week, Jade commented on my blog to say that she’d missed my posts. It’s true, I haven’t blogged in over a month. Very slack of me! But, if I’m brutally honest, I didn’t care too much, mainly because I didn’t think anyone else would notice or care. It took Jade’s encouraging comment to remind me. So, this blog is for Jade, and here’s to the power of others!
What is your one thing? The thing you are passionate about; that you can’t help but do, that spills out from you? What do you lie awake at night thinking about? What are your dreams made of? Chances are, that’s what you are called to do.
Writing is like renovating. You start out thinking, this looks like an awesome opportunity, count me in! Then you start to work at it, and discover all the intricacies involved, and feel way out of your depth. You call in an expert opinion or two. I’d like to say this ends with a nice shiny renovated house and winning writing career, but I’m only partway through the journey, so I don’t know for certain. What I will say is that you can either choose to be stressed on the way to the happy ending, or enjoy each moment and take every day as it comes, on this grand adventure called life.
PS So today I’m steaming wallpaper off in the second bedroom and shut the door to keep the condensation in. Just went to go to the bathroom, and the door won’t open. I’m trapped! Ha. Luckily my dad has a spare key, so he’s going to come in and let me out….after he’s had dinner, in about an hour!
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A great way to segue into full time writing is to build up your freelance opportunities while you’re still working. Yes, this takes discipline and sacrifice, but much better than quitting your job (and salary) for a romantic vision, which unfortunately doesn’t pay the bills.
Magazines are a great source of income for the writer, as many accept new authors and unsolicited material. You’ll need to do a bit of homework and research, and be prepared to put in extra hours in the beginning, but you’ll reap the rewards.
The comprehensive writing course that I’m currently undertaking through the Writers Bureau has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to this. In fact, they offer a full money back guarantee on their course if you haven’t earned back your course fees after completion. Check it out at The Writers Bureau.
Here are a few basic tips:
- Read a variety of magazines and analyse these as a potential freelancer
- Write with a specific magazine in mind
- Look at the type and length of articles that are included in previous issues
- Do your research to ensure your work is accurate, informed and helpful
- Include any relevant facts, photos or followup websites