Wednesday, August 5, 2020

The Insecure Writer and Realizing I Was Never Cut Out To Be a Full-time Writer



Today is August's contribution to Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group.

What makes me an Insecure Writer this month?

The realization that I never would have made it as a full-time writer back when I was younger.
 
Here I am in 2020, with plenty of free time due to COVID-19, and my writing progress has been abysmal. Yes, I’m making steady progress on my stories, and I AM happy about that, but not nearly as much as I should be. I spend way too much time on non-writing related activities to be a productive writer. Watching too much TV. Puttering around the house. Getting up late in the morning. Finding reasons to do anything other than sitting down in front of the computer. I’m squandering away precious time.
  
Thank goodness I didn’t try being a full-time writer back when I had a growing family. We would have starved.
 
Then again, maybe the desperation to feed my family would have forced me to be more productive. Perhaps fear would have woken me earlier in the mornings, or kept me from watching TV, or doing anything other than writing. Assuming that's the case, how can I  generate that same urgency to write now in 2020? What kind of stick can I use to make myself more accountable as a writer? I suppose a financial crisis that wiped out our savings would do the trick, but I’d rather find a less stressful method.  

How do you guys drive yourself to write more?

Writing isn’t the only area where my progress has been glacial. My plan of ramping up my marketing platform over the course of 2020 is also way behind. My big accomplishment this month was finally buying the domain name for my new author website. All things considered, that’s a rather small step in my journey to publication, yet I easily wasted a week of research convincing myself to pull the trigger. My next step should be setting up the website, but at the rate I'm going, we'll be well into autumn before I work up the nerve to do that. 

Any suggestions on which Wordpress themes work best for authors?
  
Optional August question: Quote: "Although I have written a short story collection, the form found me and not the other way around. Don't write short stories, novels or poems. Just write your truth and your stories will mold into the shapes they need to be."
Have you ever written a piece that became a form, or even a genre, you hadn't planned on writing in? Or do you choose a form/genre in advance?

When I first dreamed up the story for my debut novel, I wasn’t thinking about genre. I knew it would be fantasy with elements of science, but that was about it.  Only as I neared the end of the first draft did it occur to me that my story might be considered urban fantasy. I say might, since almost all urban fantasy these days seem to have paranormal creatures like witches, wizards, shifters, vampires, dragons, fae, etc., whereas mine doesn’t. So now I'm not so sure what my genre is.

Is there such a thing as urban “science” fantasy?

Be sure to stop by the other co-hosts this month. Susan Baury RouchardNancy GideonJennifer Hawes, Jennifer Lane, and Chrys Fey 


Take care everyone, and stay safe! 

ChemistKen

50 comments:

  1. Hey...You got a first draft. I would say that's +1
    Well, yes, writing needs some commitment. The pandemic has slowed me down I should say. I am hoping to do better. I need to be more disciplined too.
    Wish you luck
    Thanks for co-hosting

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  2. I tried writing full-time before I had kids and I wasted a lot of time, so I can relate. Last year I self-published, and although my sales aren't anything wonderful, I continue to press on for not only my own enjoyment, but for those readers I have. My audience is out there. This is what keeps me going. Don't be too hard on yourself - you're still making progress. Thanks for co-hosting this month. Stay safe!

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  3. I think everyone has operated in an unproductive fog this year.
    Glad you have your domain name now.
    Thanks for co-hosting today!

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  4. Thanks Ken for your news and insight into being a writer full time.
    Urban science fantasy sounds like an amazing genre.
    Happy IWSG day. Wishing you a productive August.

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  5. There is science fantasy, so why not urban, too?

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  6. Thanks for co-hosting. I'm so glad I did not try to be a full-time writer when I was younger and supporting my family. I would not have been able to support my family like they and I deserve, even if I was productive.

    I'm not as productive as I'd like either, but I just take it day-by-day now. I'm not pressuring myself to "write full-time" when there's no guarantee that my books would be published. If you're taking small steps and finding other ways to support your family, I think that's good enough.

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  7. I have particular distractions that are making it hard for me to writ pe at this time...but that said, I find when I have a deadline, I get to work. For example, My IWSG post for this month...had to be done for today, and it was. Another deadline? I will be reading my work at my ZOOM writing group next week, so I have to get things done. How about giving yourself a deadline and putting it out there, to your family or here on this blog. Announce it someplace where you will have to be accountable.

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  8. Important things are accomplished by baby steps, Ken. Thanks for co-hosting.

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  9. I'm much better at getting myself into writing mode now - but it's taken me years to build up to it. I think had a lot to do with knowing I didn't know enough. My online buddies have been essential to helping me get productive. Good luck!!! If you want a check-in buddy let me know!

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  10. Don't be too hard on yourself. You are not the only one who should be getting more productive writing done during all this upside-down world time. All the unknowns and constant changes around us makes it hard to settle down and focus on creating. It's okay. We'll all get there . . . eventually. Thank you for co-hosting!

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  11. Hey fellow co-host, I feel your frustration. Mine is the opposition. I started writing as I was starting a new family so I always wrote under pressure, adding a job to the mix once my boys were older. Now that they're grown and I'm retired . . . my productivity is at an ebb. No time crunch, no deadlines . . . just time . . . clicking away. Then there's binge watching on my new mammoth all-in-one. Sigh! Maybe I need to go back to work - oh, yeah. Pandemic! Double sigh!

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  12. Sometimes glacial is good. It gives us some time scrape up some very necessary grit that we can use in our stories! Thanks for co-hosting today, Ken.

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  13. I find I need to remove myself from the distractions of the house to be productive with my writing. If I'm home, then I'm tempted to vacuum the living room, throw a load of laundry in, do a load of dishes, finally organize the pantry, pull the weeds growing in the front grass, etc. If I'm not at home, then I don't feel the pressure of those tasks I should be doing, which I why I typically write on my lunch hour at work. Maybe get a laptop and go sit in the backseat of your car?

    I think Wordpress themes are pretty subjective. Are you going with self-hosted Wordpess.org or the more limited Wordpress.com?

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    1. That's good. You get more options. Are you aiming for a blog feed style or more of a landing page? This might be a good base if you're going with a landing page and then build your own child theme on top of it? https://rarathemes.com/previews/?theme=author-landing-page

      I built a child theme on top of Duena.

      For blog-style, I typically gravitate toward the clean card looking themes, but that is purely aesthetic opinion and not at all related to effectiveness in marketing.

      Oh, I visited J.H. Moncrieff and her blog post might be helpful for your not-writing: https://www.jhmoncrieff.com/iwsg-writing-90k-in-30-days

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  14. Somehow having plenty of time is no guarantee of getting more words written.

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  15. As a full time writer the shutdown didn't really affect me and my work BUT, having my husband home for 3 months when he's normally gone for 15 hours a day was distracting. Wanting to sleep late, watch movies and hang out with him won out most days and now I am so behind. Thank you for hosting and have a positive August.

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  16. I wish I could support myself being a full-time writer, but as it is now, my usual daily wordcounts are abysmal thanks to having zero privacy and not being in my own home. Perhaps if lockdown ever ends and I'm able to move to a city where I actually want to live.

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  17. Try this as a motivator: There's always tomorrow. Sure, but tomorrow never comes. You can thank my mother for that one. hehehe

    It works for me most days and when it fails, I try lying to myself and say I'll only work for five minutes. Once I'm in, time flies. ;-)

    Anna from elements of emaginette

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  18. For my two cents, you're doing very well. This is a hard, anxious time for just about everyone and focusing has been difficult for me too. You're even working on a website! Go, you.

    Let's see...as to motivation. After a break it's super hard for me to motivate myself back into writing, but I find that if I pick a schedule and force myself to stick to it, the process gets easier after a week or so (and then, of course, something life-related happens and I have to take another break and the WHOLE THING STARTS OVER AGAIN, arrghh). Chuck Wendig has a lot of good motivational writing posts, if you don't mind rampant cussing.

    My Wordpress site is the Shawburn theme, and I quite like it. Feel free to go poke around on my site if you want to check it out. I clicked around on the various free theme options through Wordpress before I chose that one, there are lots of options for you with different aesthetics.

    Good luck with your new site, and with the writing! And thanks for co-hosting this month.

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  19. I made myself a 'work schedule' for writing. I gave myself set times to clock in and out like a regular job. That really helped me write consistently.

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    1. My approach is similar. I write every morning before work. Sometimes for an hour, sometimes more, usually less, but every. single. morning. At least that way I make steady progress.

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  20. I hear so many people struggle with concentration during the pandemic, especially working from home.

    Regarding wordpress themes, I started with Arcana but a designer recommended Dara, which I've really liked.

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  21. I think I'd struggle if writing was my one and only job too. It's easier to do it when you have to fight for time to do it in. If there were endless hours every day, it would be too easy to put off.

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  22. I'm very interested in the WordPress theme suggestions you've received. In a word, my WP theme sucks. I'm looking for a theme that is similar to your Blogger theme here. I like the translucent side columns. I'd replace the background with sunrise ocean image.

    I think the free WP themes are usually not updated and that can be a problem. It's my understanding most WP themes include a landing page and the blogging feature.

    I identified with every word you wrote. It's as if you were describing me, although our lives are very different.

    I'm in Mexico. I spend my days on our sailboat, La Vita and nights in our model-size room at night. Access to the casita (small house) is a dirt road with some sections washed by recent rains. We call it Jurassic park because there are so many iguanas and opossums.

    Lynn La Vita blog: Writers Supporting Writers

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  23. For me, it's just the excitement of the story that drives me to write, but that's if I'm not blocked/burned out. And, of course, 2020 has impacted me and made me write a lot less that usual. What you're going through this year sounds pretty normal with what other writers are experiencing because of the pandemic and uncertainty.

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  24. I don't think you need to define your genre to write a good story. Maybe you'll start your own genre or sub-genre.
    I'm also not as productive as I'd want to be, but as I write for myself, not for any publisher, it doesn't seem important.

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  25. Working out your genre is a real headache. You could call it urban scifi. I still don't know what to call mine after 10 books in the series!
    I think you're like a lot of us, mosying around looking for an idea to write about. Sometimes only sitting down and typing works, other times you have to have an inspiration. But as for writing through lockdown, I think anyone who really managed that went into lockdown with an inspiration they'd been dying to find time to write. It's not been easy, so go easy on yourself. Besides, summer is not the time to mess about with websites :) (Now tell me you're down under!)
    Good luck moving on to publication!

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  26. Nothing wrong with carving out your own genre. You're setting a trend.

    I think a lot of us have been distracted and worried by the constant uncertainty this year so I wouldn't beat yourself up about not writing more. You're making progress and that's the key thing. Of course, if there's a monetary aspect to it, you could try working out your own schedule as if you had to turn up to an office. I think structure can help.

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  27. I have had plenty of time to write, but, like you, I can't seem to 'get in the groove,' with all that is happening in the world. My WIP was tossed aside for months. Last week, I finally returned to it and I had to read it from the beginning because I was so lost. I might have managed to add a couple of pages...LOL. Also, you can call your written work, speculative fiction!! That's what I call mine when it's a conglomeration of genres, and it works.
    Thank you for co-hosting!

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  28. If it makes you feel any better, I spent 2 weeks "researching" before I bought my own domain. The paradox of choice and all that.

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  29. I have my blog, but I have dilly-dallied about websites for a long, long time. And I have spent far more time doing "research" down rabbit holes than writing this year. I have lists ... oy.
    Anyway, I have been doing something that helps my students. I write down what I love about what I'm writing, or at least something I like. I keep that in mind when I go to sit down and write again. It helps me get started.
    Speculative Fiction is a great name for that nebulous world between fantasy and science fiction. Possibly magical realism? Or Contemporary Science Fiction? What's Jurassic Park? Hmmm. Speculative Fiction is a great place to hang your hat.

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  30. Don't beat yourself up, Ken, over not being as productive as you feel you should be. We are in the middle of a pandemic, and it has upended our lives. Whether we realize it or not, the changes, the uncertainties, and our lack of control add up to a whole lot of stress. Kudos to you for buying a domain name for your new author's website. Now take the next step. You'll get there! Thanks for co-hosting today!

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  31. Oh my gosh, it's nice to hear another writer state "I wasn't thinking of genre when..." I wasn't either. I merely knew I wanted to write... Little did I know I didn't exactly have a genre. When another writer suggested that I write Americana Fiction, I latched onto it.

    But that's not truly a genre - and it isn't popular! Over time, I've studied forms and genres and writing in general via seminars, both online and 'in person.'

    Now I know I write commercial women's fiction = 'I write funny'. Ha! I do-do-do!

    Covid-culture has been hard for everyone, dude. Remaining safe AND sane is tough.

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  32. Hi! Thank you for dropping by and commenting over at my blog!

    It took me a long time to gather the courage to update my website to my blog. I wondered if it was the right thing to do because I was SO tired of my website. I worked on it little by little until I spent a great number of hours wrestling with the update. It was painful but the results are worth it.

    I hope you find the inspiration and time as well! :D

    As for writing--It's difficult making dedicated time for it with my kids all over the place. My youngest is NOT a self-starter. It's frustrating!!!

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  33. In order to write more and get motivated, I stop writing. Does that make sense?? I need a break. It always works and I get back in there ready to write!

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  34. Genre is never the first thing on my mind. It becomes clear once the story is well on its way to completion.

    I'm dreadful at marketing. My 3:am ideas just aren't as brilliant in the light of day ;-)

    Choose a theme that inspires you.

    Thanks for co-hosting!

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  35. When I first became a full time writer, I wrote less than when I was super busy with a full time job. I thought with more time, I'd write more. Nope. Instead I squandered it. Now I give myself deadlines. That helps to keep me focused.

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  36. I think it's much easier to waste time when you have a lot of time. I'm a teacher, so summers can be like that for me. But setting small reasonable goals and having good critique partners that keep me accountable helps.
    I love the aesthetics of your current site!

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  37. There's something about the lockdown that induces one to squander away time. Perhaps it's because there's no end in sight. Like Jenni, I've found setting small reasonable goals very useful. Also, the Muse visits when she knows you will sit down to write every day at the same time for a certain amount of time. Even if you write only 500 words a day, that's 500 more than yesterday.
    Thank you for co-hosting the IWSG.

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  38. We are all in the same boat! I could identify with every word!
    www.nooranandchawla.com

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  39. Starvation is a great motivator... but keeping in mind that one page a day adds up to a book in a year works pretty well, too.

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  40. I guess we all dream of supporting our families with our writing but few are able to do. I think you invented a new genre and that's great!

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  41. I'm also guilty of puttering around the house :p
    But I do have a helpful suggestion for marketing! Susan Kaye Quinn has a great resource for indie marketing, and she's started a Facebook group called Indies Together, and is on there nearly every day offering guidance and suggestions. Really good stuff (for when I finally have a fully edited novel to self-publish... I have some books out on queries, but maybe I should self-publish those too...)!

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  42. Hi Ken!

    I use the Hemmingway theme on WordPress and am pretty happy with it. It looks and feels clean and organized, which I find attractive. I hope my blog readers agree. :-) Also, I blogged on Blogger for eight years (sailing blog "It's Irie"), before starting my new blog ("Roaming About") on WordPress and like the current format way better.

    I think if you'd have to make real money for some reason, you'd still be better off finding another, better paying job than writing! Luckily, there is no need for that. What I'm saying is that nothing but inspiration and desire can push you towards writing. At least, that's what does it for me.

    Like you, I procrastinate sitting down to write. I dread it and always find excuses and more important things to do. I think it means that we have more than one hobby and/or passion, and that's totally fine. Compared to most other writers/authors, I'm a slacker. But, I blame it on my desire to travel and explore. Hard to do both at the same time. :-)

    Setting deadlines might work. In my case, knowing that I only have two months left in a relatively comfortable and conducive environment to work on my travel memoir, before hitting the road in a 19ft full-time again, makes me realize it's now or never! That helps. :-)

    Thank you for co-hosting!!

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  43. With all the stress there is in the world today, sometimes we need the comfort of sleeping in a little, watching TV, and doing safe, everyday things. It's okay not to write if the words aren't there. You could try setting a deadline, as others have mentioned or try giving yourself more opportunity to write by sitting down at your desk (or wherever you like to write) at the same time every day and see if your muse strikes.

    Marketing is another whole ballgame. I have a hard time keeping up with it. I've been trying to get back into blogging again, but I seem to go in spurts. That's great that you got your domain name. That's a start.

    Urban science fantasy - Why not?

    Thanks for co-hosting!
    Lori at https://lorilmaclaughlin.com

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  44. I have to say that what any of us are able to do during these times isn't a good example of what we'd do in normal times if given the same free time. I wasn't able to write for the first few months of it, but had a sudden breakthrough about a month ago. No idea if it will last. We can only do our best. I'm quitting my day job in two weeks, and will be trying out a four day mandatory writing schedule, as per a friend who takes Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays off from writing, but is highly productive on her four mandatory work days. If it doesn't work, I'll go back to my random writing. Some of us can't force creativity if we're not feeling it.

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  45. I haven't had motivation to do much of anything, so don't feel bad! Thanks for co-hosting!

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  46. I hadn't considered using Wordpress before, but I hate Blogger's new interface. It's tempting to change. And I hate change. LOL

    Life's been to busy to write much. It seems that every time I think I'm going to have time to write, something either steals my free time or my energy. Ugh. Maybe next month...

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