Why Honesty Is The Best Policy

Let’s talk honesty. Let’s talk kindness and respect. Let’s talk about how we should use both of them when sharing our opinions.

When someone asks for our opinion about their writing (or really anything), I firmly believe that honesty is always the best policy. Period. However, I also believe that we should share that honesty in a kind and respectful way. For example, if we read a book and we don’t care for it, I don’t think we should say something like: “Your writing is awful! or “Your plot makes no sense!”. Rather, we should find a nice, but honest, way of expressing our feelings.

Honesty is the best policy for many reasons. Most writers and authors (including myself) want to know how they can improve their writing. We take our work seriously and we don’t want people to say they like our writing just to spare our feelings. Simply being kind without honesty does not help us become better writers, it merely makes us feel that there is nothing we need to work on. For most of us, we want to be the best we can be. This doesn’t mean we have to point out every little flaw to each other, but it does mean that if we don’t like something and we think it’s relevant to mention, that we should.

Honesty, however, is very different from going out of your way to be hurtful. Like I said, there is a huge difference between being honest in a kind, helpful way and just being cruel. So when someone asks for your opinion or a review, tell them the truth, but try to do so in a considerate manner. Chances are that the writer will appreciate you taking the time to discuss any issues with them while also, of course, appreciating your kindness while doing so.

The bottom line is this – don’t be afraid to be honest. Just do so in a way that is respectful.

 

Stuck.

As a writer, I hate to admit the following. At the same time, however, I think it’s important for us to share our experiences with other writers – to show each other that we’re not alone in our writerly struggles. So tonight I’d like to talk about feeling stuck when working on our stories and other written work.

I’ve mentioned in earlier posts that I’m working on a romance/fantasy novel. While I love the concept of the story, the plot, and the characters, I feel like I’m having a bit of a hard time getting from points A to B. I have a pretty good idea of how I want the story to end and what I want to happen throughout the course of the novel, but actually writing the story is proving to be a bit more challenging than expected.

The problem I’m having is that I feel a lack of action in the story. As I was writing, I just slowly felt like I was losing momentum, like the story was stalling and I wasn’t sure where to go next. The need to come up with something ‘big’ to take place seems essential and at the moment, I don’t know what that ‘big’ event is going to be.

While in a way I guess you could consider this issue writer’s block, I consider it more along the lines of being stuck. To me, writer’s block is not knowing what you want to write and being completely devoid of ideas. I know what I want to write; where I want my story to go. It’s just that getting there seems a bit tricky and I’m still trying to figure out how to figure out the gaps so that my story can be a successful one.

I may be experiencing some issues with my current work in progress, but I’m not ready to give up on it. I actually quite like what I’m working on and abandoning the story is not something I want to do. While I hate the fact that I’m stuck and that the story is at the moment just sitting there, waiting to be written, I’m not ready to walk away. I see a lot of potential and that’s what’s important.

If you’re going through the same thing that I am and you like your story, yet feel a bit confused as to how to get from points A to B, don’t be too quick to give up on your project. Sometimes what we’re working on takes a week and sometimes it takes a year. Heck, it might even take longer. The amount of time it takes to write your short story, novel, poem, or other piece of writing doesn’t necessarily matter. What truly matters is that you’re happy with what you write and that you feel it’s done properly.

Here’s a piece of advice: if your having a difficult time with your work in progress, take a break. If you still like the idea, characters, and overall plot, read over your story and try hard to think of what to do next. Don’t immediately abandon your project just because you’re struggling with it. Just because something takes time to write and isn’t the easiest work to produce, doesn’t mean it doesn’t deserve to be written.

 

An Author’s Tools – Balance & Patience

Writing your book isn’t always easy. Many times it’s difficult and time consuming. However, I think that any writer who has finished working on their writing can admit that it’s worth the effort.

Something else that’s worth the effort is advertising your written work once it’s published. This is something else that’s difficult and really, is a never ending commitment. Let’s face it – every single author wants to sell as many of their books as possible. It’s not just about earning money as a writer, but it’s about having others appreciate our work and add it to their literary collection. I think we can all agree as writers that having someone purchase your book is a fabulous feeling.

As writers and authors, it only makes sense that we want people to purchase our books. It only makes sense that we get excited after we hit that publish button or when our books come out in stores. We start wondering when we’ll get our first copy sold, our first review written, etc. This is only natural and we shouldn’t feel guilty about it.

However, at the same time, sometimes excitement can lead to anxiety. We become worried that our books won’t sell, that our ratings and reviews won’t be as good as we’d like, and that maybe – we’re not as talented as we thought. These are also normal feelings. What’s not normal or good, is when you allow these thoughts to overtake your life.

Writing (whether you’re making money from it or not) should be fun. Above all else, writing should be something one enjoys doing. If you start obsessing about how many books you’ve sold or whether or not your work is appreciated, remember the main reason for writing.

I’ll admit, I can get a little impatient when it comes to selling my books. I knew that it wouldn’t be easy selling my books as a self-published author (most promotion is self-promotion which isn’t an easy thing to get done), but I also expected to have more sales by now. This has led me to feel a bit anxious about whether or not I’ll sell more copies and when it will occur. I’m appreciative for every sale and review I’ve gotten so far, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t wish I had more. I don’t think this is totally greedy, but rather normal when it comes to wanting others to own your work. After all, part of the reason that authors write is to share their work with others.

Still, I realize that something I can get a bit too stressed out and too impatient. Part of the process of being an author (in addition to writing and publishing), is self-promoting and being patient with the results. Not everyone is going to rush out and immediately purchase your books. It takes time to make money. Also we have to remember as self-published authors that every author has to start out somewhere. Before Stephen King was the King of Horror, he was just a first time writer like all of us.

When it comes to looking forward to sales, remember that it is perfectly normal to want as many people as possible to purchase and enjoy your work. However, we also have to understand that things take time and sometimes things don’t work out quite how we expected. Don’t let yourself start to obsess about things that you can’t control. When someone decides they want to purchase, read, or review your book – they will. I know that waiting is hard, but it’s something that we all must learn to do.

P.S. If you’re having trouble selling your work, don’t lose hope. Keep trying the best you can to promote your work while still enjoying the fact that you’re a writer and a published author!

 

Writing Advice: Don’t Force It!

You’ve probably heard that as a writer, you should be writing every day. I both agree and disagree with this piece of advice. While I think that we should try to get some form of writing done each day (whether it’s posting on Instagram, blogging, working on some other form of social media, writing stories or poetry, etc.), I don’t think that we should necessarily get angry with ourselves if we go one or two days without writing.

I don’t think I believe that writing just for the sake of it, is always a good thing. I feel like writing should be something a person wants to do. I think that by saying, “I’m going to make myself write every day”, we sometimes run the risk of making ourselves frustrated with something we’d normally love doing.

Don’t get me wrong, when we’re working on a writing project or setting goals, I think it’s important that we find a way to push through and accomplish our goals. I think that we need to stay dedicated to our craft and not give up on what we’re passionate about. What I’m talking about are the times when we’re in between projects – I think it’s okay to take a break from writing if we want.

Again, I’m not saying don’t write at all. While I don’t consciously tell myself that I have to write every day, I probably do manage to get words written down on a daily basis. Right now, I’m blogging and earlier, I was posting on Instagram – both are forms of writing. However, I don’t think that it’s vital to always be writing a huge novel or even a short story or poem. I think it’s more than okay to give ourselves a break and just relax.

Not every minute has to be about making sure we’re working on our next big story. As writers, we don’t always have to push ourselves to write every single day just because we think it’s what we should be doing. Write when you want to write, when it’s going to make you feel good about yourself and when you can enjoy it. I do believe that there’s a such thing as pushing yourself so much that you start to dread the things you love the most. That, my friends, would be a shame.

What do you think? Should we push ourselves to write every day or is it okay to take breaks from writing sometimes? I’d love to hear your thoughts below!

 

Slow Down and Take Your Time

After publishing my first book, Rest in Piece, I almost immediately wanted to write and publish another book. I think in a lot of ways, that’s a good and positive thing. Writing something and putting it out there for the world to see is exciting and if it doesn’t give you a taste for more, what’s the point of doing it in the first place? Writing and publishing should be exciting so it’s no wonder that we want to continue the process over and over again!

The problem is that writing and publishing are not things that happen overnight – that is, not if you want to do it right. When working on a story or really any type of writing, it’s important that you take your time and not rush. I know it’s hard to not just breeze right through and try to publish something as soon as possible, but it’s not just writing that’s important, but it’s writing well that’s essential – and really what the craft is all about.

Let me give you an example. On my first few short stories for the short story collection I’m working on, I didn’t rush. I just let the stories take me where they did and wrote everything at the right speed. However, with this last story I’m working on for the collection, it’s going to be longer. As much as I want to do a good job with it, it can be difficult to take my time and not want to rush through the writing process. Don’t get me wrong, I love writing (I really do), but I can’t deny that the thought of publishing my second book is pretty exciting! I can’t wait for that day to come! Therefore, it’s tempting not to speed the process along.

I realize though that in order to continue to write my story well, I must slow down and take my time. It’s not like I’m in a hurry. The best results are going to come from writing patiently, not simply writing as quickly as possible as if I have some kind of due date to meet.

So remember, if you want to be successful when writing, take your time. Make sure everything is how you want it before you rush to get it published.

I wish you all the best in your past, current, and future projects!

What It Feels Like To Accomplish Your Dream

The day I published my first book ever, I felt amazing. The day someone purchased my book, I felt even more amazing. The fact that people who love to read are choosing to purchase something that I wrote is literally a dream come true.

However, it never felt as real as it did yesterday. Yesterday I received the paperback version of my book in the mail. I got to hold my own published work in my own two hands, feel the texture of the cover, and display it in a way that makes me truly proud of what I’ve accomplished. I’m officially a published author and it feels utterly incredible.

Seeing my work as a real paperback novel made me so happy; so thrilled. I seriously shrieked out of pure joy. I honestly wasn’t sure I’d ever become a real author, but I did and I’m so happy that I had enough faith in myself to continue the project that lead to my first real book ever.

If you have a dream that you’re afraid that you’ll never accomplished, rest assured that if you work hard and never give up, chances are that you will succeed. It may take some time, but it’s worth it when the effects of your hard work are so wonderful.

I’m so proud of myself and I think that if anyone out there has succeeded at accomplishing their dream, then they should be proud too. You deserve to be happy and excited that you made your dream a reality.

I’d like to take the time to thank some people for making my dream come true. First, I want to thank my dad, for he is the one who constantly pushes me to write and have faith in myself. I’d also like to thank my mom for designing the awesome cover. I have, and want, to thank God because I truly believe that He had a hand in making my dream of becoming an author come true. Additionally, I’d like to thank all my family members and friends, along with all those who have supported my writing! Last, but not least, I’d like to thank myself. Without doing the actual writing and thinking of ideas, let’s face it, I wouldn’t have written and published my first book!

puzzlecover1112-copy
Cover Design: © D. Ginsburg

 

Imagery & Getting Graphic

Imagery is a very important tool in writing. Imagery helps readers feel as if they’re part of a story, instead of just reading one.

In my opinion, I think few books really do a great job of incorporating imagery. I’ve read countless books where I find myself having a difficult time really seeing what I’m reading. However, there are writers like John Saul and Stephen King who come along and prove their ability to incorporate imagery in a successful matter.

After writing my first novel, Rest in Piece, I found that, while I had several good reviews, a common opinion was that I tended to tell more than show. While I do think I did a good job at using imagery in some areas of my novel, I agree that I could have done better.

As I’m working on my new writing project – a collection of short stories – I’m trying my hardest to use more imagery. In some ways, it’s difficult. One of my stories is a bit grotesque at times, dealing with a murderer who goes after mostly women. While I do think that the imagery is necessary to show how sick and disturbed the character is, it’s difficult for me to be so graphic.

I’m a person who prides herself on kindness; on not being gross or disturbing. The fact that I’m writing a story that would probably upset my mother does bother me. However, I know as a writer, you have to be strong and realize that some of the best books are detailed – even if the details make readers squirm.

Oftentimes, the best stories are the ones that put readers on edge. Simply stating that a man killed a woman isn’t enough. Readers will just read that and think, “Well that’s sad” or “That guy’s horrible!” and continue on their way. As a writer, you want your readers to really stop and think about the character’s actions – to really understand just how good or bad that character is!

So if you’re a type of person who doesn’t like to incorporate grotesque scenes and feels guilty doing so, please realize that sometimes, in order to write a good book, it’s necessary to be a little disturbing. That is, if the story calls for it. I’m not saying that you should throw in gross scenes willie nillie, but if you’re trying to convey someone doing something heinous or wrong, getting graphic might just be necessary. Don’t feel guilty for being a good writer.