This post is #8 of a 10-part series in the lead up to a writing conference being hosted by Fiona McIntosh (October 2019). Please follow along with my weekly posts as I share some writing tips and experiences I’ve gained while writing my manuscript and preparing for this wonderful opportunity.

In writing this blog I am very conscientious of the fact that I am pre-published. I obviously can’t and don’t want to come across like I know everything about fiction writing — I am very much on the learning side of developing a manuscript and entering the publishing game. I do, however, want to share and connect as I go along.

I believe in the power of keeping a positive mindset and am a keen follower of Denise Duffield-Thomas (look up her amazing Lucky Bitch books here!). When Denise turned 37 she wrote a fab blog post — 37 Lessons From Becoming a Self-Made Millionaire — containing some insightful nuggets of wisdom and experience. One point that really resonated with me, and many of her followers was point #34 where she said ‘I am a contributor, not a guru.’ Denise explained the following:

‘As soon as I gave myself permission to contribute to the conversation of women and money, and not have to be a guru or expert, then my business became fun. If you really care about a topic, be a contributor. Who cares if you don’t know everything. You don’t have to be the best to make a difference to someone.’

And THAT RIGHT THERE is why I write this blog, post on social media and engage with my fellow writers. We don’t have to be experts to share! I know I have the passion and a massive interest in reading and writing and I want to be part of the conversation!! Gosh, I love that paragraph above from Denise!! It ignites me to want to be a ‘contributor’ even if I’m not an ‘expert’ yet!

So, here are 5 tips that I’ve learnt over the past year as I’ve come to write and complete my manuscript.

1: Telling people I’m writing a book is scary, but worth it.

When I first started writing and attending author talks, workshops etc I didn’t tell anyone. It felt like a pipedream that people might scoff at — yeah, sure, go write a book! Ha! On top of that, I’m writing women’s contemporary fiction, aka ‘chic lit’, so felt that it was a double-whammy of not–so-serious aspirations!

Telling people (writers and non-writers), however, has been mostly great. My real friends support and encourage me! They tell me to ‘Keep Going!’ when I think I can’t and they understand when I say no to something because I have to write. Also, I’ve gotten great tips from people in other industries e.g. my real estate friend has shared tips about confidence in pitching and resilience after rejection. She has no idea about the writing business but her help has been invaluable to me.

2: There are opportunities in rejection.

And, speaking about rejection… It hurts! It feels personal! It requires a box of donuts to get over!

BUT, there can be opportunity in rejection. Hang in there with me, I’m not going to go all positive woo-woo on you. What I mean is rejection can be a chance for you to step back and look at your work from a different perspective or it can be a chance to just stop and take a break. Come back with fresh eyes!

When things aren’t falling my way, I go back to the drawing board and think of new paths to take — tweaks in my writing, changes to my pitch, different publishers etc. There’s always another way to do things… I just usually allow a moment of downtime and then go on again.

3: Writing connections are important.

It’s easy to get caught up in your own little writing world, smashing out the word count, looking for the finish line. I’ve found, however, that connecting with other writers in formal and informal settings has helped me immensely and not just with the ‘word’ stuff.

I now have connections all over Australia — Adelaide, Melbourne, Darwin — and have met people through social media from the other side of the world. We share tips, inspiration, jokes, commiserations and all sorts, and it makes it feel like my writing job is much more than just me at my desk. 

In particular, I’ve enjoyed sharing writing tips and prose with authors from other genres. It really brings a different perspective and style that I might not have ever considered before.

4: Treat your writing like it’s already your job

If writing was a hobby I would dip in and out of it when I had the time, but I want it to be my job. So, the only way I could do that was to treat it like it IS my job now and that meant applying spades of discipline to it! I won’t ever be a published writer if I can’t produce a completed manuscript!

I have allocated writing time and a word count I want to achieve every week (I can’t do everyday with my other commitments, so I found what works for me). It’s the same with this blog and my professional social media — I am active on it now and meet the goals I’ve set.

5: It’s better to write than wait…

I’ve learnt that waiting is just a procrastination tactic, something that gets in the way of getting words out. I stopped researching every thing, I stopped waiting to feel creative, I stopped waiting for opportunities to fall my way — I just got on with writing!

And you know what? The more I’ve written the more I’ve discovered. It’s ok to research as you go or to come back to it in the next round of drafting. It’s vital to just get to your computer and write! The more I would write and the bigger my word count got, the more I would want to keep going! The story happened, it all unfolded and I did get to write THE END. Of course, there was then the editing part… but that’s a whole other post for another time.

So, like Denise, I’m not a guru, but I do love writing and the more I do it, the more I want to share! I also, seriously, welcome hearing from others who want to achieve the same or have done so and have tips to share!

J x

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