Two mindsets collide: Writing vs Marketing

… and it’s Monday again. For some reason, I feel like Monday is everywhere nowadays. The weeks go by so fast it’s almost as if every other day is a Monday… and I don’t like it. Usually, my Monday routine is to sit down and plan my goals for the week. It’s always good to have an overview of your expectations and such, but it becomes a bit depressing when you’re not really meeting those expectations and you have to push some of them into the following week.

I have no idea what is doing this. Is it the weather? My overall mood? Something is killing my flow. Or at least, my writing flow. I’m still making one video per week for my channel, so at least I’m consistent there. I have talked before about my struggles when it comes to balancing marketing and writing, and I have to admit, it feels as though it’s only getting harder.

The funny thing is, I know I’m not alone in this, and that makes me all the more worried. I’ve seen other writers struggle with making Youtube and other social media secondary to their writing. I know this struggle, I feel it every day. It’s because you need to balance two very different mindsets and try to control your aptitude for them on any given hour of the day. If that sounds exhausting, it’s because it is.

The writing mindset is solitary, focused and creative, with emphasis on the word solitary. You, your imagination and your words are the only things that matter. The marketing/social media mindset is the opposite. That’s when you need to be outgoing, accessible, open-minded, the key word here being outgoing. That’s usually a lot more difficult for an introvert, and therefore requires more energy.

This is where we have the issue. I spend far too much energy on the marketing side of things, so much so that I barely have any left for my writing. I think I need to re-evaluate some of my time management this week. I will do a little experiment and focus on my writing – blogging and other social media like Instagram will be given little to no attention. The only exception is Youtube. I will still upload a video but that will basically be all the marketing I do this week.

So, we’ll see how this goes! Wish me luck!

Cheers everyone & have a great week!

Is it a good idea to talk about personal thoughts and feelings on Youtube?

So, I know I’ve already made a post about why I’m not doing Nanowrimo, and most likely never will. But I decided to get my thoughts into a video, so that’s what I’ve done this week. Today’s vlog is definitely of a personal nature. I’m putting it all out there, the stress and pressure that can cause anxiety, the feeling of being left out as well as conflicting emotions of introverts and people with social anxiety when it comes to events within the writing community. In other words, I’m pretty vulnerable here.

I have no idea what sort of response this video will get, if it will get any at all. (Although I suppose no response is always better than a bad response!) But it has been my goal from the start to be honest and personal on my Youtube channel, because I know I enjoy it when watching other creators being relatable and human in their videos. That sort of thing doesn’t come easy though, you have to dare to be yourself on this huge platform, despite the risk of getting attention from unfriendly people. The mere fact that you’re putting yourself out there is actually pretty daunting.

So – if anyone reading this decides to give my new vlog a watch, just know that I would be tremendously grateful if you would give it a thumbs up or even a comment to show support and friendliness. (Should you be interested in watching any other of my videos, click here to get to my channel.) Cheers everyone, and have a great Thursday!

Lost in Nanowrimo Land

Don’t get me wrong – I love the online writing community. I don’t think I’d be where I am today in my manuscript without it. It’s been a tremendous help, both in support and advice, and I’ve connected with some really lovely people.

But…

There’s something in the culture of the community that tends to get really obsessive sometimes. Especially now – it’s November, meaning Nanowrimo, short for National Novel Writing Month. The goal for anyone that participates is to write 50k words in the month of November, usually as a first draft for a novel. It’s a challenge, so to speak.

I’m generally on board with this premise. I’m not participating, but I can understand the appeal and why people would want to give it a try. What I find a little frustrating though is the insane hype about this all around social media. No matter where you look – on Instagram, Twitter, Youtube or even Facebook of all places, nothing else is discussed but Nanowrimo.

With the added hype of October, called Preptober (well isn’t that clever), that means two whole months where the online writing community is at a full stop on all things not related to Nano. I usually try to be a positive person, but I can’t help but being a little disappointed at this. The new thing is also about not making the writing process a solitary experience, now it’s all about live streaming writing sprints (?) and being part of a team to help “win” Nanowrimo. Not participating in this has become synonymous with being an outsider in a community supposedly full of introverts. It’s madness, truthfully.

I mean sure, if you’re into that then good for you. I just find it really strange, but that’s just my opinion. I’m going to continue working on editing my manuscript and hope that the obsessiveness goes down a bit in a couple of weeks.

My unattainable satisfaction of a proper working structure

I’ve always been a big fan of the slow and steady. Being in control of every aspect of my life is my constant, ever-persistent goal. I’m just one of those people who are genuinely frightened of spontaneity, and all forms of surprises are met with reluctance, fear and excessive sweating.

I suppose it’s no surprise that I’m naturally gifted at staying home and work by myself. I’ve always been a firm believer in that, wherever we have a weakness, we are equally strong in something else. Humans are creatures of nature, and nature will always strive for balance.

(There is, however, an ugly truth for people like me. Having 100% control in all aspects of your life is close to impossible. This means that no matter how hard I try – how diligent I am in my work – in the end there will always be more left to do. It’s just one of those harsh realities that I’ve come to accept. Reluctantly, but still.)

This should give you some idea of how I go about my daily life. Simply put, I like planning.

I’ve recently come to the realisation that planning and creative work don’t go that well together. It’s like oil and milk. There is a general rule of thumb that says all writers (or rather, anyone who wants to take their writing seriously) should value routine over inspiration. Contrary to popular belief, inspiration doesn’t write books. Only routine does – and here’s where things get tricky. For some reason, I’m constantly fighting this.

Yes, I know. I’m contradicting myself.

There’s something about the creative work that makes me want to challenge everything that I stand for. I’m finding it difficult to plan my creativity, which makes me frustrated. It’s like trying to trap something abstract and delicate – it slips through my fingers like water. Don’t get me wrong, this is not some excuse for not working. I’m always working, whether it be on my manuscript, character or worldbuilding, my Youtube channel, blog/social media or concept art. Always.

It’s the lack of structure that irks me. I’ve tried so many different approaches to this and I can’t seem to find one that works in the long run. Having a good structure for the creative work as well as a suitable divide between that and marketing is my main concern. I can’t seem to get it right, and it triggers my inner (and outer) control freak. I end up running in circles for a while before going back to square one.

Well, this was a cheerful rant. How satisfying it would be if the ending paragraph involved some sort of magical solution. Not today, I’m afraid. All I can say for sure is; if anyone who’s reading this feels the same way about their work and life, you’re not alone! The only thing we can do is to keep trying and take it one day at a time, slow and steady and all that.

What to do when stuck on the mid-point of your story…?

I’ve talked about it before, but I find the mid-point of a story to be one of the most important parts of the book. That’s why I didn’t stop at merely blogging about it, I also made it the topic of this week’s Youtube video!

It’s always a valuable experience whenever you struggle with something. It forces you to think outside the box for a solution, and many times, you end up seeing things a little differently. The aim of this vlog is to share this experience in the hopes of connecting with other writers. Feel free to share any thoughts in the comments!

The clues and crumbs that make up a satisfactory mid-point climax

I’ve taken a little break over the last few days from blogging and social media in general. I’m at a place in my manuscript that has given me a lot of grief recently; my mid-point. This might not be a big deal to all writers, it depends on the story. I don’t want to give away spoilers, but my story in particular, has a pretty important mid-point.

There are stories that have a slow build-up to the climax at the end, and then there are stories that have like a “lesser” climax in the middle. I’m quite fond of both versions. Like I said, it depends on the story. As a writer, no matter the path we choose there’s pressure in one way or another to get it just right.

Personally, I like stories that leave little breadcrumbs for the reader. Sometimes, these crumbs are noticeable and help the reader figure out part of the mystery before the great reveal, but other times, the crumbs are completely invisible if you don’t already know what they mean and where they lead.

Growing up, I loved reading the Harry Potter books. I read and re-read them as often as I could, and every time, I found new things that I hadn’t noticed before. It could be a tiny detail that didn’t really make much of a difference, but the fact that it was there made me feel like I was experiencing the story in a new way. J.K. Rowling is a master at crafting breadcrumbs. Everything is connected, and even if it doesn’t appear that way at first, you can find the connection several books later.

So how did I get from mid-points to… well, here? I suppose it’s because I try to learn from Rowlings’ expertise on this subject, and apply it to my own writing to the best of my ability. That is why I think the mid-point is so important – because that is where the clues will lead (as well as the end, of course, but we’ll get to that later). There’s a fine line between making it too obvious and making it too… out of nowhere. As writers, we shouldn’t underestimate nor overestimate the reader. I suppose the only way to learn this is by experience, by letting other people read our work and get feedback.

Naturally, every single chapter of a novel is important in its own way. If it’s not, then it shouldn’t be there. But I think the three most important ones are the beginning, the middle and the end. Writing these always brings some added pressure, because for some reason, long after we’re done reading, we tend to remember these the best.

How a corny teen movie can change your outlook on life

So there I was, browsing through Netflix and waiting for my newest video to load into the program, and I came across some of those typically “corny” movies that families watch around Christmas. They are full of clichées and over-the-top characters. Most of them are about teens, bonus points if they’re troubled, and the plot is all about them fighting to reach their dreams. It’s usually something active, like figure skating, gymnastics or dancing. Now, I’m a big tragedy enthusiast, but my poor little heart has a real soft spot for these movies.

I kid you not. I watched a movie called Ice Princess and cried real, adult tears. (All this girl ever wanted was to be a figure skater! Why couldn’t her mum just be supportive?!)

I realise that I’m not these movies’ typical audience, they’re generally intended for teens who’re still trying to figure out what they want from life. To be fair, I figured that out less than 10 months ago and I will be 30 next year. Come to think of it, maybe more adults should watch movies like this (I do think you need to watch alone though, as I think it would be far too easy to make fun of it if you have company).

In a way it was like a time warp and a wish fulfilment – all in one. The familiar “oh to be young again” nostalgia mixed with a nauseating remembrance of what it was like actually being a teenager. No matter how nostalgic we might feel about our teen years, in the end we’re usually pretty relieved they’re in the past.

So what did I really gain from this experience? Apart from getting really sentimental, I also found it surprisingly inspirational. No matter how ridiculous these movies can be at times, the moral of the story is usually to follow your dreams and dare to fight for them. I see so many adults that dream of doing something different with their lives, but they never actually do it. They are comfortable with their normal jobs even if it isn’t exactly what they wanted. They’re afraid to risk that comfort and go into unfamiliar territory, no matter how much they dream of it.

I was that person once, but when given an opportunity to change things – I took it. The situation I’m in now is somewhat similar. I’m determined to become a published author, and I’m fully prepared to fight for this dream to become a reality. Sometimes, we need to evoke our inner teenager to awaken that obsession that makes us go for it. I guess these corny teen movies reminded me of this – that even if I feel low or unmotivated, the fight isn’t over as long as my goal is worth it.

When a classic becomes a tv series

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Good evening, lovely people of the internet.

The second part of my The Ladies’ Paradise discussion is now up on Youtube. This week I’m discussing the BBC series, The Paradise, and comparing it to the book. It’s quite interesting how different the show is from the book – where the book is good, the show is lacking and vice versa. What I mean by this is that the book had a gritty realism that was prevalent throughout, whereas the show focuses more on the pretty side of things, giving it almost a dream-like quality.

I suppose that’s what you get for making it more family friendly, which I think is a bit of a shame. Although, I happen to be one of those people who rather enjoys the poetic satisfaction of a good tragedy, so no surprises there.

Did any of you read the book or watch the show? Let me know your thoughts!

New week, new goals!

It’s seriously troubling how fast the weeks go by. I had planned to have my book ready for beta reads around Christmas time/end of the year, but now I’m a little worried that I won’t be able to reach that goal. I’m still working on my second draft, and I wanted to give myself a third (or even fourth) before starting to look for beta readers. Some chapters are obviously more complicated than others and would, therefore, need a little extra love before the send-off.

Like I’ve said before, I’m that kind of person who likes to worry in advance. Trust me, I am painfully aware of this flaw/quirk/issue of mine. It’s because of this that I have to try and ignore some anxiety-inducing thoughts if I want to be able to do anything at all, instead of just worrying about it in en endless loop of what-ifs.

With that in mind, here’s what I hope to be able to achieve this week:

WRITING: I want to finish editing my mid-point, meaning chapter 13 and 14. It was only one chapter at first, but as I was editing it I realised it was far too cluttered and busy so I decided to split it. I’m already about half-way through chapter 13 so, hopefully, this won’t be too much.

YOUTUBE: I want to prepare, film and edit a video on my comparison between The Ladies’ Paradise – the novel – and The Paradise – the tv series. This will complete my video review of the book that I made last week. I’ve made some really interesting observations that I would like to share. After this however, it’s back to writing vlogs.

OTHER: I will try to stay on top of Instagram updates and some blogging, but I’m not pressuring myself too hard with that this week.

So – those were my goals for this week! It feels like quite a lot, I must say, and I might have to sacrifice some evenings as well. But I know it will be worth it in the end. In my point of view, there’s no greater satisfaction that the feeling of accomplishment.

Have a great Monday everyone!

The bravery and vulnerability of being a writer

Most writers that I talk to all seem to have one thing in common: we’re all incredibly self-conscious of anything that we create. We are our own worst critics, this is a hard truth indeed.

The reason behind this isn’t that we don’t enjoy our stories. We have, after all, crafted them carefully with the intent of them being good. We pour our hearts and souls into our work, and by doing so, it makes us all the more vulnerable. The mere thought of another person reading our work and finding it bad is the most terrifying thought.

Someone once said that it is only when facing our fears that we can truly be brave. I find that this resonates well with the idea of publishing a book. All authors, no matter their level of success, have gone through this act of bravery when publishing their books. And I dare say that all of them, again – no matter their level of success – must have found it utterly terrifying.

We have this intense hope within us that our books will speak to their readers. That we will be able to connect with other people through our stories. This is why we must open ourselves up to vulnerability, because if we don’t, then how are we supposed to achieve this? It’s a great risk for sure. There is no guarantee that success will follow just because you write with your heart and soul.

I haven’t published any books yet, but in my case, making the decision to self-publish was still quite scary. I know which road to take. It’s up to me now to continue down this road, to eventually take that leap of bravery – but without the affirmation of a traditional publisher in my corner. It’s amazing how you can both look forward to something as well as dread it. I suppose only time will tell what happens at the end of it.