How do novice writers work through frustrations such as critical thinking, writer’s block, and fear of rejection?
As many of you know, I’m a huge supporter of local authors. Their books are unique, entertaining and has very little “politically corrected” editorial suggestions to please the mass market. These books are the “raw diamonds.”
What about writers before publication? How do they feel about the creative process? I asked blogger, Darren Williams, his thoughts about the difficulties beginning writers face I hope his answers inspire all of you to keep working on your books, blogs or other creative writing.
You’re a beginning writer. What struggles do you find to be the most difficult?
I think my biggest struggle is that my inexperience breeds a lack of confidence in my work; I tend to be overly critical of my writing. I believe that once I get comfortable in my skin, this will go away. In addition, the entire process seems overwhelming to me; all of the details, the research, and the actual act of writing a story is huge, and looms overhead like a mountain.
How do you try to overcome these critical thoughts to write?
Honestly, I don’t. They linger in my head as I write; they linger when I’m not writing. The best way of dealing with my doubts is to use them as fuel, as motivation to succeed; when I feel the critical thoughts screaming at me , telling me that my work is garbage and that I should quit, I grit my teeth and strive to prove them wrong. That’s not to say that it’s easy and that I’m always successful; my head is a war zone, and not every battle ends in victory.
I’ve always had an interest in science fiction and fantasy; those two tend to be the main genre of book I like to read when I want to relax. When I was a child, I would read the classics, such as Dr. Seuss, like everyone else did. I latched onto the fantastic make believe stories, the strange creatures, and the magic. As time went by and I grew older, I naturally began looking for more sophisticated versions of those stories, which lead me to Fantasy and Sci-Fi.
Do you ever get writer’s block? What do you do to get past it?
You know, I’m still trying to figure this one out. I have writer’s block all the time, and it’s something I struggle with on a continual basis. I think my Muse is usually drunk and passed out in the gutter. One of the things that helps me get past it (when the stars align) is what some people call “free writing.” I’ll sit down at the key board, and start typing whatever pops in my head, even if all I’m doing is venting about how hard writing is, and wishing I was better at it. I’ll do this for about 20 minutes or so. Once I loosen up and let my mind wander, I can usually latch onto a random thought or two that might have potential.
How do you think you will handle the rejections?
I’ll probably go hide in my room and feel sorry for myself for a day or two, and then I’ll get back to writing. Rejection sucks. No one likes it, and everyone has to deal with it from time to time. Unless you’re really lucky, incredibly gifted, or both, you’ll eventually find yourself being rejected. And it will hurt. But the only real failure is giving up when you get kicked in the teeth. So when that happens, I’ll spit out the blood, wipe my mouth, and stand back up.
What inspired you to begin writing? Do you think your writing will remain a hobby or are you hoping for publication one day?
Thinking about it, I feel that for me, writing was inevitable. I’ve always been somewhat introverted; friends have never come easily to me, and I’ve found that books have always been a constant source of companionship and comfort. Whatever the day brings, I can eventually curl up in a comfy chair with a good book, a warm blanket, and a snack. With books being such a huge part of my life, the idea of writing feels like the natural next step. When I was a child, I would often spend the less stimulating school periods writing silly little short stories. They were pretty bad; uncreative, and blatantly plagiarized from my favorite authors at the time. But that didn’t stop me from writing them anyway.
I would like to one day become a published author. The idea of putting my thoughts to paper and having others read them both excites and terrifies me, but I find myself unable to get the idea out of my head. I’d like to publish a book, hell, I’d like to publish several. One day, I would like to wake up and think to myself, “wow, I write for a living. What a grand thing!”
If you are hoping for publication, what do you dread the most?
I think the idea of working hard on a project for months or even years, and then having publishers reject it is what I dread the most. Realistically, getting published is a daunting task, and most writers suffer rejection after rejection. I know several writers who have been struggling for years to get published.
If you only want to write as a “hobby” then how do you find time in your life for this passion?
Currently, my writing is only a hobby. I feel that as far as ability goes, my writing is in its infancy; I don’t know whether or not I have that mystical attribute called Talent, but I do know that even if I do, I still need to work on improvement.
That being said, it can sometimes take effort to find the time to get the writing in. But I’ve always subscribed to the idea that when you really want to do something, you have to make time. Whether that means staying up an extra hour at night, or sneaking away during your lunch break, or even *cough* calling in sick on occasion. Anything you truly want to do requires making the time for it. For myself, I’m fortunate that there is very little impeding my writing. Other than laziness, that is.
You’ve started writing a blog called Black Musings. Why did you start the blog? Do you find it difficult to find subject to talk about?
I started my blog for a couple of reasons. It was primarily a way to practice writing in a public setting; if I’m posting entries and someone might see them, it forces me to step up my game. I’d have to be conscious of spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors. Plus, it’s really fun to imagine people reading my blog, even if no one actually does.
Second, I wanted a way of connecting with others. At the time I started it, I was feeling rather isolated; Black Musings was a method of getting my thoughts out of my head. Regardless of where I am or what I’m doing, it’s nice to have the feeling of being connected to others.
Sometimes, finding interesting subject matter can be tricky. I try to keep my blog restricted to current events; I have a thousand stories I could relate about events of my past, but it seems kind of cheap to me; at what point would it stop being a blog and start being an autobiography. With those restrictions in mind, I still manage to write something a couple of times a week; I don’t claim to produce great works of art, but there’s usually something going on in my life or in my head. And if not, then it’s time to branch out in my life and experience some new stuff. I can say with confidence that there are literally thousands of things I want to try/experience/learn that I haven’t yet. And when I do, I’ll be certain to write about it.
Some people struggle with the ideas of writing a book? Do you? Would you ever write a book? As a beginning writer, what is your advice to people wishing to write but can’t do it?
Oh yes, I definitely struggle. Creative writing is a paradox; you have to write something creative and “unique,” while at the same time reconciling with the fact that almost all ideas have been stolen or reworked time and time again, over and over. It can be frustrating. I recall a number of occasions where I would come up with what I thought was an original idea, only to find out someone else had already done it.
Despite that, I do want to write a book. All of the challenges would make the final completion that much sweeter. The best piece of advice I would give new writers, myself included, is this: write what you want to write. There are always trends; these days, everyone is into zombies and vampires and super hero movies. If that’s what you want to write about, then go for it! But don’t write zombie stories just because they are currently popular; trends come and go. You might end up completing your work only to find out that mainstream readers have gotten bored of the walking dead.
Do you have any writing “rituals” you go through before sitting down to write?
I will usually spend a few minutes finding the right music; my life is a big soundtrack, and the right music will get me in the writing mindset. Afterwards, I just start writing. When I get stuck, I’ll try free writing. Pretty basic stuff, really.
Are you nervous about people reading your writing?
I get nervous at the idea of people reading my creative writing. Not so much with my blog; the blog is just me rambling off my ideas, opinions, and just the hum-drum events of my day. For some reason, I’m not apprehensive at all with the blog.
My creative writing, on the other hand, is different. That requires real work on my part. Structuring a story, dialogue, description, believable character interactions, and solid plot all make for a pretty nerve-wracking process. When I’m working on something creative, I’m not just putting words to paper. I’m also demonstrating my ability to entertain a reader by telling a story. Hell yeah I get nervous when/if someone reads that kind of writing.
Will you ever write anything besides the blog entries on blackmusing?
It’s something I’m building up to. So far, my blog is my main source of writing; I do work on the odd short story, but thus far, only my blog is consistent. My ultimate goal would be to write a book and get it published. I’m slowing working myself up to that goal; each blog entry is a step closer to that goal. As I write, I’ll get more comfortable, develop my own unique style and “voice,” and eventually come up with an amazing idea.
You write a personal blog? Do you write it as a way to vent, just creative writing, a way to connect with people, or for humor?
All of the above applies to my blog. I try to avoid too many sob story entries; people can only take so many “woe is me” blog updates before they just roll their eyes and call me a baby under their breath. I like to focus on what’s happening in my life, even if all of it is fairly mundane. Sometimes that means I whine. Other times, it’s kind of funny.
I do like to add my own brand of humor to my posts; my sarcastic witticisms are a big part of my personality, and I try to stay true to who I am when I write my blog; I’m not trying to perform or entertain, but rather just kick back and talk. If that brings amusement to anyone who reads it, I’m happy.
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