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Posts tagged ‘Marion Lennox’

First Monday Mentoring for June – a writer’s to-don’t list

Happy first Monday in June, the day when I open this blog to your questions about writing. They can be on creative, craft or business matters. You can also share your experiences as a writer with others.

I’m sorry that comments need to be moderated before they appear.
I’m often tempted to turn that off, but friends who’ve done so report an avalanche of spam and rudeness we can all do without.If you’d like your comments to appear right away, click the ‘sign me up’ button at lower right. I don’t share your email address with others.

I do share blogs and information I find exciting. My new fav find is a blog called Marc and Angel Hack Life. Their thoughts and comments on living are well worth reading (and subscribing as I’ve done). Recently they blogged about making a “to don’t” list here Right click on the link to open in a new tab without closing this one.

Most people have a “to do” list, many are pages long 😦 For writers, here are some things for your “to don’t” list. Since it’s First Monday, feel free to share what you’d add to the list.

DON’T compare yourself to others

This month, Romance Writers of Australia are running 50k in 30 days – not as someone thought, 50 kilometers, but 50 thousand words during June. Like NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in November, these are ways to get writers writing instead of hoping, dreaming or planning. Both events involve reporting progress to a group or forum. This is where things get sticky. If other writers are reporting 2,000, 3,000 or 5,000 words and you wrote 500, how do you feel? Under the ‘don’t compare’ rule, you feel pretty darned good. You wrote 500 words. Over 30 days, that totals 15,000 words. Keep going for 5 or 6 months and you’ll have a novel, just by writing 500 words a day. Your output is your output.

DON’T wait till you’re ready

As Henry Ford famously said, you can’t succeed by what you’re going to do tomorrow. Today, this minute, is all we have. Start writing now. Pour your thoughts and ideas onto the screen or page then edit afterward. Same with research. Leave gaps where you need to look something up. I write “tk” a printer’s mark for “to come” when I need to find some important detail. Get that first draft down without interrupting or second-guessing yourself. Only then can you edit, correct, fill in gaps and – as I do – layer in elements you missed first go round.

DON’T expect perfection
By all means aim for wonderful, but settle for whatever comes as long as it’s the best you can do at the time. Remember, if you shoot for the moon and miss, you’ll still land among the stars. And don’t use perfectionism as an excuse. Erica Jong wrote that for years she never sent any work out. As long as it was ‘work in progress’ it couldn’t be rejected. Fear of rejection, of not being good enough, is an occupational hazard writers must learn to live with. Write anyway.

and most importantly…
DON’T give up
Every writer I’ve ever met, whether New York Times bestseller or not, has moments of thinking their success is a fluke. Multi award winning romance writer, Marion Lennox, says she still expects her publishers to tell her it’s all a mistake and want their money back. It won’t happen. Nor does Marion let anything stop her from writing her books. That’s the bottom line. DON’T stop writing.

This is First Monday so the blog is open to your thoughts, ideas and questions. What would be on your ‘to don’t’ list?

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Does success make you feel like a fake?

At an early Romance Writers of Australia conference, I remember author Marion Lennox saying that despite having multiple books accepted, she felt as if her success was a fluke. She was waiting for her editors to tell her it was all a mistake and ask for their money back. This from a wonderful writer who was weighed down by her Romance Writers of America RITA winner jewellery and Australian awards when we met at at the Melbourne romance writers’ conference a week ago.

She’s far from alone. Many writers say that having huge international sales and dozens of books published doesn’t stop that niggling sense that it’s all a fluke, rather than an achievement born of hard, persistent work and talent. The feeling is so common it has a name – The Imposter Phenomenon, popularised by Dr. Pauline Rose Clance whose book first exposed the problem. Writing about the chronic self-doubt hidden behind a mask of success, Dr. Clance said a staggering 70 per cent of successful people in America find the condition stops them from enjoying what they’ve achieved. Inside they feel like a fake, attributing their success to every reason except ability and brains. Men are every bit as likely as women to feel this way. Clance’s book lists 20 questions to determine how affected you are by Impostor Phenomenon. She also says she’s talking about people who, by any objective measurements, are genuinely successful rather than people who shrug off compliments out of false modesty, or claim credit they haven’t earned.

The Impostor Phenomenon Dr. Pauline Rose Clance

Some of the problem starts with children encouraged to be smart and high achievers. If  the family brags about a child’s achievements to others, rather than to the child themselves, the child gets no idea of how well they’ve done. More may be made of one B grade than a string of As. Other families move the goal posts so each achievement is seen as a step toward a far-distant goal, rather than something to be celebrated in its own right. If we buy into this deal, as writers often do, we forget to celebrate requests for manuscripts; praise by editors; and even offers of publication, until the work can feel like an unrelenting grind instead of a passion.

My first books were non fiction titles like Growing and Using Herbs, Coping with Diabetes, and The Changing Face of Australia. Despite steady sales, my family barely acknowledged them as books. It took the Society of Women Writers making a fuss to convince me that I had written a “real” book. Even now, relatives ask when I’m going to write “my best seller” as if 26 million sales worldwide barely counts.

While Impostor Phenomenon may be hard to cure, my solution is to accept praise with a simple “thank you” rather than dissembling. I try to celebrate milestones and above all,  enjoy the process of writing which was why I became a writer in the first place. And I make sure others around me know when they’ve done well, even in small things. As a sign in a nursing home said so beautifully, “Don’t tell me what I’m doing wrong, tell me what I did right.” Does someone tell you what you’re doing right? Do you tell yourself? I hope so.


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