Lockdown Writer

I think it’s safe to say that everyone who might be reading this is aware of the pandemic that has swept the world. The Covid-19 virus has caused chaos, fear, and heartbreak across the globe and, unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. I live in the UK, where currently we are all in lockdown mode, like a lot of other countries. People have been self-isolating for weeks (or at least, they should be!), only going out for essential groceries and some exercise. Schools have shut down until further notice, many people have lost their jobs, and sadly, many have lost loved ones.

Before the lockdown, I was a writer with a somewhat reliable pattern of work. When the boys were at school or once they went to bed, I would have a few hours to myself to focus on my novel. My pattern has been broken and my rate of work has gone waaayyy down since the kids have been at home 24/7. The constant call of ‘mum… mum… mummy… mum,’ still rings in my ears even after they’ve both gone to sleep. I know a lot of parents can relate to how hard it is to get anything done in this situation.

However, I’ve come to accept that being a writer isn’t always about writing. It’s also about inspiration, learning about random stuff and exposing your mind to new things. What I’m trying to say is, for the first time since I’ve started writing my novel, I no longer feel guilty about sitting on my sofa and watching Netflix. Whether I’m bingeing on Love is Blind (which is the kind of crap I would usually NEVER watch), rewatching movies I’ve watched 10 times before, or enjoying kids shows with the boys, I’ve realized that there’s always something to take from it; good or bad. Seeing what makes for a good character arc or a bad plot, hearing wonderful dialogue and watching the actions and emotions and figuring out a way to describe them on paper, are all essential to being a writer. Watching or reading genres that aren’t often my go-to has opened my eyes to different types of characters and stories, which can be useful in giving my characters an edge and making my own story more unpredictable.

If there are any writers out there who are struggling to get any actual words down on paper during these trying times, don’t think you’re failing as a writer. I put that pressure on myself for years and it doesn’t help. Learning, developing, experiencing, and thinking of ways to continue or improve your WIP are just as important as the writing part.

~ On a side note, I hope you are all taking care of yourselves, and staying home to protect all our loved ones. ~

CGA

Things No One Told Me About Being A Writer

This one’s for all the new, innocent, writers out there.

Before I officially started writing the first draft of my first novel, I had no writer friends to warn me about the perils of being a writer. I dived into it with no idea of what was heading my way, so through my own experiences, I now feel it is my duty as a fellow writer to help you be ready for what’s to come as you embark on this journey. This post is in no way meant to discourage you from pursuing a career on this path. Every job in the world comes with its own advantages and difficulties.

Here we go:

1. Stress/Anxiety will be the devil on your shoulder ~ I never thought being a writer could be this stressful. For instance, I get anxious about the words I haven’t written, then I get anxious about the words I have written. I get anxious every other page I write, about the quality and arc of my story and characters. And I get anxious about the stages that come after writing, then I worry if I will ever even reach those stages.

2. You will probably start getting a little obsessive ~ I get obsessed over my settings and characters. I feel like even the minutest detail has to be perfect, then I get super obsessed about the words I use. I spend more time looking them up than I do writing them. I also get obsessed over how often I write. I try to make time for it even if it means I miss my workout, go out less often or sleep a little less. Is that a good thing? No. But I am obsessed with finishing my first draft.

3. You have to make time ~ I thought I would have been done with my first novel by now but I am still halfway through my first draft. It’s been 16 months since I started. Trust me when I say it takes a lot of time. What you imagine in an instant, can take days to put down into words. You have to try and squeeze in a writing session wherever you can otherwise it will eat away at your soul. Okay, maybe that’s just me, but seriously, it takes TIME! If a great book could be written in a matter of days, everyone would be doing it.

4. You can write wherever, whenever and however you like ~ Seriously. I don’t know any job as flexible as being a writer. Whether you’re an indoor cat and prefer coffee shops or your bed, or an outdoor cat and find inspiration at the park or on the beach – whether you’re an early bird or a night owl, plotter or a pantser, like pen and paper or keyboard and screen – there is always the possibility to just sit down and get to it.

5. There’s plenty to learn ~ So much to learn. From developing as a writer in the actual craft, to researching ways to self publish or get traditionally published, find an agent, an editor, beta readers, cover designers or learning to design covers yourself. The list goes on. There is more to this writing thing than just writing.

6. You need to be strong ~ I’m nowhere near finished yet but I can’t help thinking about the future. I am dreading getting rejection slips. It will knock my confidence and I’m worried about that because it took so long for me to find the confidence to actually start writing. But this is something most writers have experienced. From what I’ve gathered, the key is to stay strong, use the feedback you receive to your advantage and don’t let it stop you.

7. You’re not alone ~ There is a whole world of writers out there (mostly on Twitter – get back to work people!) that are going through the same difficulties, worries, joys and accomplishments as you. If you ever need advice, or a good moan to someone who will understand what you’re experiencing, the #WritingCommunity on Twitter is a pretty awesome place to make new friends.