Come play inside a writer's brain, scary!


Hi and welcome to First Monday Mentoring for January 2017. Not too many people are sorry to see 2016 over, as it came with more than its share of tragedy and loss. But focusing on loss is a good way to encourage more of the same. Better to focus on what we do want in the coming year, rather than what we don’t.

Anita in Honolulu with the cocktail that inspired our joint writing project

Anita in Honolulu with the cocktail that inspired our joint writing project

I hope as writers you have exciting plans for the year ahead, and lists of goals you’d like to achieve. I suggest breaking them down into bite size pieces so you can cross off small steps rather than have to wait to cross off one big step. For example, “write a book” is a giant step. A better approach is to list “start a new book” if you’re at that stage. Or if not, “develop book idea” then “outline book” and so on. “Write X words every day” is a good choice. Whether you choose 50 words or 500 matters less than having a measurable number you want to complete every working day.

My big goal for 2017 is writing a novel in collaboration with the much-loved writer, Anita Heiss. Neither of us has written a book with two voices, and we spent a few days in December brainstorming content and how the project would work. In line with the small steps advice, we plan to complete a partial for our agents to shop around, then work with two key characters each, the story alternating between them. Excited? You bet. I’ve already met my goal of writing the first 500 words by New Years Eve. Did another chunk to celebrate New Year’s Day. We’ll tweet and Facebook as we go along.

Anita and I after our brainstorming getaway

Anita and I after our brainstorming getaway

Check out Anita’s blog on the project

Now for 5 things smart writers won’t take into 2017:

1 – A cookie-cutter story. Whatever genre you write in, push yourself to write something special, unique to your voice and interests.

2 – Lack of respect for your readers. You need to bring your A-game to whatever you write. Every story is worthy of your best work, for yourself and your readers.

3 – A blasé attitude toward craft. Even if you indie publish your own work, make sure you hire a good editor, cover designer and whatever else you need to put your best work forward. Trad pubbed authors also need to address these concerns in conjunction with your agent and publisher. Never stop learning and developing.

4 – Lack of faith in yourself. Over many years I’ve found that insecurity is a hallmark of every successful writer. Even New York Times’ Bestselling authors feel unsure if they’ve achieved what they wanted for their books. Rather than letting their fears beat them, they push themselves to do better with everything they write, and so can you.

5 – Buying into the gloom and doom. As I said above, it’s better to aim for your highest goals rather than run away from what you don’t want. Writing a book is tough enough without dragging along the baggage of bad news, political angst and fear of the future. What will be will be. If you have to, watch or listen to less news, and focus on the good in your life. Bring that to your writing and I guarantee you’ll see a difference.

Share your thoughts in the comment box below. Comments are moderated to avoid spam but  appear right away for subscribers, or after you click “sign me up” at right. I don’t share your details with anyone. Thanks for your support. Have a happy and creative New Year!


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Comments on: "First Monday Mentoring January – 5 things smart writers won’t take into 2017" (9)

  1. Excellent First Monday posting, and perfect for the new year! It’s exactly what I needed to hear, especially as I’m preparing to send a revised synopsis & 3 to my editor. I’m excited about your new project, and hope for updates as you go along!

    Happy New Year! May it be truly wonderful!

    • Thanks Marion, Happy New Year to you, too. Good to hear you’re excited about your new project. When we stop getting excited, may be time to consider changing careers. So far, 90 books on, I’m *still* excited. Hope you stay that way, too.

  2. Looking forward is my planned approach for the new year as well, all aspects of life. I have grieved like never before and I’m ready to move forward!

    I have 2 things I plan to do to accomplish this: think little. No matter what’s going on, you can find even the tiniest thing to be grateful for. Details are what make up a life, quality work, even a meal you cook. Thinking little can bring a person great joy and pleasure. But you can’t forget to:

    THINK BIG! Don’t get lost in the minutiae and forget goals and the big picture! I learned this year this can even apply to loss. I may experience a degree of this year’s loss forever, but the big scary chasm of pain won’t last. In a year it will be better. In two, even better. (I hope.) The hard stuff this holiday season isn’t going to ruin the coming year. It was two weeks, nothing more.

    I am honored to call you my friend, and I look forward to seeing your progress on this joint project! Best wishes, Grace

    • Sorry you’ve had such a rough time lately, Grace. Go you for “thinking little”, and emphasizing gratitude in everyday life. That’s something we can all do! Check out Anita’s blog, too (link above) as it’s part of her inspiring 52 week gratefulness project.Thinking big is also a great way to keep your dreams alive and to help remind us that the world is made up of so much more than our individual concerns. Hope your year ahead is magical.

  3. Great principles to take into the new creative year.

    Collaborative writing is brilliant fun. I had the best time co-writing and editing a novel with my creative co-conspirator. Like Anita posted on her blog, we set some guidelines and parameters then got stuck into it. Creating two distinct voices was made easier as we took on the persona of different characters; each instalment was handwritten as a letter which meant waiting for the postman to deliver the chapter (we live in different states/cities in Australia – talk about delayed gratification)
    We’re now working on another collaborative novel with a third creative partner and it is still just as fun. When you can make your creative partner(s) respond enthusiastically or swear profanely then you know you’re on the right track.

    • Great response, thanks. Brainstorming the book was exhausting but exhilarating, as I expect the writing will be. At one stage when we checked back, we had Anita down to write about two thirds of the book. I was fine with that, but for some reason, she wasn’t as keen. All sorted now. The big adventure of the actual writing now looms.

      • We didn’t set that many parameters except to develop our characters and some of their backstory (revealed as the narrative progressed and added to as the characters fleshed out).
        We let the plot grow organically, not discussing the narrative. This was in keeping with the premise of the narrative: of two old friends reconnecting after 20 years of silence and their past slowly unveiling and unravelling.
        Looking forward to seeing how you and Anita find the process.

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