Insecure Writer’s Support Group: Rolling Back the Hours

On the first Wednesday of every month, a sizable group of us writers take part in the Insecure Writer’s Support group. We share our insecurities, because in the end, it helps us to realize that we’re not the only ones feeling the way we do. If you want to check out the bloghop or sign up, you can find information here.

As I mentioned on my Update Day post, I actually had an amazing month in May, and although there are still quite a few things up in the air, I think June might end up being a big one too.

One of the major highlights of May was that I signed a contract with a major company to help create their content. It actually suits me perfectly because I’m using my degree and my writing skills together.

For now, the contract is basically a test run until December, but given how happy the lady in charge of my work is, I’m starting to feel secure in the fact that an extension past that is probable, even likely. It’s really strange to think that I’m this excited about the job, because it was so not what I had in mind when I started freelancing, but my brain is really enjoying the chance to use both hemispheres at the same time, since I have to be both analytical and creative, reading reams of reports and pulling all that information together into articles that people that haven’t read those reports can understand.

Best of all, assuming this is a long-term kind of gig, it actually gives me the level of financial security I need to allow me more writing hours.

So where’s the insecurity?

Well. In the fact that for the past two weeks, I’ve been sleeping through those writing hours, which means I’m still struggling to fit everything into my schedule.

See, when I was working fixed price gigs instead of hourly like I do now, my hours drifted. It didn’t matter what time of the day I did something as long as it got done before deadline. And I was “filling” my writing hours with freelance work because for the past few months, I was in no shape to be creative. The stress and anxiety from my life exhausted me emotionally, and since freelance was paying my way, I put the emotional reserves I had into that so I can keep racking up the good ratings. (A strategy that paid off in a big way because it directly led to this contract.)

The overall result was that my sleeping patterns shifted to hours inoptimal to my writing. I went to bed at 2 a.m. and woke up at 8, maybe 9. Then I’d work from about 10 a.m. to as late as 11 p.m., and veg out until 2 a.m.

Bad bad Misha.

Because a lot of the stress points in my life have lifted, which leaves me wanting to work on my own stuff. Thing is, if I want uninterrupted writing hours, and I do, I need to wake up at 6 a.m. It’s a simple thing, really. In theory, I should get to bed at around midnight and set my alarm.

Phht. Uh huh.

I did that.

Now I have the lovely sounds of my alarm as backdrop to my dreams.

As I sleep right through it to 8, maybe 9.

So now I’m going to move my hours some more and get to bed by 10 p.m. but it remains to be seen how that works out.

How do you guys on Daylight Savings Time manage to shift your sleeping patterns? It shouldn’t be that different from what I’m trying to do. 

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Insecure Writer’s Support Group: Probably the Most Damaging Insecurity I’ve Ever Had

Gosh, I can’t believe it’s time for another IWSG post again. For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, the Insecure Writer’s Support Group is a bloghop where we share our fears, doubts and insecurities once a month. The idea is for everyone to see they’re not alone in what they’re feeling, and also for everyone to encourage each other, or to give advice if you’ve been there and made it through. If you would like more information or to sign up, just click here.

I actually considered skipping today, because man, I’ve been having some serious troubles writing.

But here’s the thing. I realized earlier that the major insecurity I’ve been suffering from for the past two or three months is a lie. 

So I thought I’d share a bit of what’s going on with me. Finally figured out a way in which to put my feelings in a publishable format.

There’s a bit of a challenge, because I can’t really explain why I felt this way. I did explain on my Patreon page, since I wanted my patrons to know where I am in my life, but I couldn’t make it a public posting, because I have quite a good reason not to want to put everything up in public unfiltered where a Google Search can pick it up. So. If you want to see a full picture, I’m afraid it’s going to cost a dollar. If not, no pressure. I think you’ll be able to get by without the full picture.

Why? Because I’m a writer, damn it. I’ll make it work.

Right.

So.

*Deep breath.*

Basically from the beginning of March, I stopped feeling like I had a future worth living for.

Man. That sentence was harder than I thought. Already in tears.

Okay. I can do this.

From the beginning of March, I stopped feeling like I had a future worth living for. Basically for the past ten years, I’ve been keeping myself functioning by relentlessly chasing down my dream of becoming a writer, and then later of making a living off my writing skills.

And that was great, because there was always something to work towards. A book to write/edit. Marketing to do… And so on and so forth.

But then partly thanks to a very close relative and some supposed “friends,” my life started to unravel in 2014.

And it kept on unraveling.

And kept on unraveling.

To the point where in March, I stopped being able to even hope that one day it would be okay. It didn’t help that I was already earning my living from writing and it just wasn’t enough to stabilize the shit storm that my life has become.

That was the worst. Because if I wasn’t happy now, what was the point of building toward the future anyway?

It started as a single thought that multiplied and multiplied until it became a belief that simply wouldn’t go away.

But here’s the thing.

 

It’s a lie. Or worse, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

 

Because if I believe that my future is dead in the water, I’m going to stop trying to fight for it. And if I stop trying to fight for it, all hope is lost, and my future as I want it really will die.

And today I had the blessing of being given a chance to step back and evaluate. And to remember that although I have a grand future planned, I also have a closer, smaller, more short-term future. One where I have a new book (or two) published. One where that book acts as a stepping stone to what I consider to be my empire. Also, one where after two years of putting it off, I have an actual proper author website and stuff.

That smaller future is something I want. Badly. And it doesn’t matter whether my life wants to fall to pieces. I have the skills and tools at my disposal to make that smaller future happen.

But to do that, I have to stop lying to myself. I have to stop thinking that I’m going to be trapped in limbo forever.

Maybe you’re in the same boat as me. In which case, I want to remind you to stop lying to yourself as well. There is a future you want, and there is a way for you to get there. Once you remember that, it becomes easier to to figure out what you need to do and how to do it, regardless of what’s going on in the present.

Thanks for reading!

IWSG: Thoughts and Prayers Appreciated

Since it’s the first Wednesday of the month, it’s time to do another Insecure Writer’s Support Group Post. If you’d like to join in or just see more information on what this bloghop is about, please feel free to click here.

Today’s title deals with neither writing nor an insecurity per se, but I thought I’d take a moment to ask those of you who pray to shoot a quick prayer up for me and my family.

As some of you might know, I live quite close to Cape Town, which is currently facing something of a dystopian-level event in July, namely where the water levels in our dams will be so low that the city will be turning off the water supply to homes, and people will be required to queue for water at a few hundred water points.

Well… what you guys don’t know is that my family business (and me) have basically been quietly but slavishly working on offering the City a possible band-aid to help stave off Day Zero. I can’t give you guys precise details just yet, but to tell you guys it’s been a Hurculean effort on the part of our small business is a bit of an understatement.

But people said we wouldn’t be able to approach the City… But we did. They said that we wouldn’t be able to get the resources together to make the business work, not even on paper. But through God’s grace, that’s done too.

Today, we submitted our pitch to the City government at their request, and now we have to wait to hear whether or not they give us the Okay Go.

At the moment, my fingers are shaking as I type this, as we have literally done every single thing we could do to make this happen. It all depends on a yes or no from the City of Cape Town. But I can definitely say that if we get a yes, this will by far be the biggest thing I’ve ever been part of in my life.

So if you pray, please ask God that His will is done, and that if it is His will, that He would continue to supernaturally intervene in this business in order to help us pull it through.

Okay… Bringing it back to the point of IWSG…

Given that this business thing has basically consumed my thoughts lately, I’m a bit low on writing right now to even think about being insecure over it. So… Today I’m going to answer this month’s question:

How do you celebrate when you achieve a writing goal/ finish a story?

Usually, I just dance around a bit and brag about it on social media. Overall, though, I don’t see this as a major achievement yet. The big celebration is for when I actually publish something.

What about you? How do you celebrate finishing a story?

Insecure Writer’s Support Group: …….. Already?!

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group is a monthly bloghop where writers can share their doubts, fears and insecurities with each other. It’s a nice way to vent, but also to realize you’re not alone. If you’d like to sign up, click here.

You know, you’d think that starting fresh for the New Year would leave me fresh and renewed and at least a little less insecure than usual, but alas… No.

What’s the problem? Oh, it’s an old one. I have it frequently…

Namely, the sheer staggering amount of items I have on my to-do list. Except this year is worse. Why?

Last year, I kept track of my list with a diary and pens, which meant that I had at most 20 tasks on a given day. But I switched to Trello last year, which is the same thing, except digital, which means I can set myself an unlimited amount of tasks.

And it seems like my life has taken it upon itself to meet that challenge.

On January 1st, I cleaned up all my lists, starting from scratch with only my goals as a starting point.

Then I started adding the little tasks I have to do from day to day. And added… and added.

And in two days, my list of things I need to do today shot up from 0 to 30. Count them. 30 items.

*Cue maniacal laughter*

To be fair, I can shift a lot of them out to other days, but for some reason, I’m just not getting to the ones I deem to be essential, like having to spend at least 20 minutes today on editing my book. I literally can’t figure out where I’m going to squish that in yet.

And this is supposed to be a day off.

Whelp!

How are you doing? Do you also feel like 2018 is starting like an avalanche?

Insecure Writer’s Support Group: Dun dun DUUUUUUUUUUUUUUNNNNNNN!

Hey everyone. On the first Wednesday of the month, it’s time to post updates to the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. The point of this bloghop is to share your writing insecurities, but also to encourage others. There’s also a monthly question you can answer if you’re not feeling all that insecure. For more information, just click the link.

So right in time for Halloween, I think my current WiP is cursed.

Why? Well. It was the first concept I ever started writing when I first decided to be serious about writing books. In other words, I’ve been working on it for sixteen years.

The first time I started it I saved it to a floppy disk that malfunctioned. (Yes, it’s that old.)

The second time, I saved it to my computer. And then one day, my grandmother (the writer) had a computer malfunction and needed another computer to save her work. So while I was at school (yes, it’s that old), my mom ripped the insides out of my computer and installed my grandmother’s. And also, because she thought I was only playing minesweeper (that. old.) on my computer, she just trashed the insides.

The third time I tried this book, I finished the rough draft. This time, because I made the point of saving it to Dropbox. It had been written on Ywriter (which is relevant, bear with me.) and I got into the rewrites. I wrote all of the rewrites. And when I finished it and did my final backup, something went wrong, and the entirety of my rewrite disappeared as if I had never written it.

Fourth time I wrote it on Scrivener and finished the rewrite. Yay! Then I discovered I had to rewrite it again. Awe.

And now, on the fifth try, after sixteen years, Scrivener lost me everything I had written on the weekend. Which doesn’t sound that bad, but oooooooohhhhh is it bad. Because I had shifted the focus this time, and this chapter had been the moment where the momentum picked up. And Scrivener has successfully gutted it.

And yes, it’s them. I save the file to my computer, and then save a copy to my dropbox. So the original file on my hard drive should be stable. And if you’re wondering why I don’t just get the back-up file Scrivener backed up for me… Did you know that Scrivener’s default is to back up only five versions? And did you know that back-up happens every time it autosaves? Yuuuuuuup. In the time it took me to figure out that no, it didn’t back up to my dropbox either, Scrivener had overwritten the back-ups from the day.

So yeah.

Cursed.

Have you ever worked on a cursed project? Did you ever manage to finish it?

IWSG: I’m Back and Boy Am I Feeling the Insecurity

Hey all!

Heads-up to everyone wanting to support Hurricane Harvey victims: There’s a charity auction going on right now here
If you’re planning to self-publish, you can bid on my ebook and paperback formatting offer.

I’ve been away from the Insecure Writers’ Support Group for a while, but yesterday I decided to get right back onto that bandwagon.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with IWSG, it’s the brainchild of Alex Cavanaugh, where us writers can go to share our fears and insecurities once a month, on the first Wednesday. In addition, there is also an optional extra question for those of us who just don’t feel that insecure at the time.

I have a huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuge insecurity this month, but I stupidly made that my vlog post for Friday.

Lucky me, I also have another, smaller, niggling insecurity that I’ve been trying to ignore. And that big insecurity has just made that feeling much worse.

In short, I feel like nothing’s getting done.

Which is a stupid feeling for me to have, as I literally have a list every day, where I’m checking off task after task that I’ve finished.

But.

There was once a time when I was capable of rough drafting, rewriting and editing a manuscript in six to eight months.

That’s a lovely pace to maintain. And I did it while having a day-job.

But since then, all of my projects just seem to be stuck in mud. Book 3 in The War of Six Crowns has been two years (!!!) in the making and it’s still not done. And now I’m having problems with another project that will be setting me back for some more months on that. (This is my big insecurity.)

That’s not the worst, though.

The worst is that I’ve made the decision to become a full-time writer a year ago. Did that help me speed up?

Nope. Because now that I have more time for writerly things, I somehow also have less time to actually write, because to be a writer who isn’t also a starving writer, I have to do other writing-related jobs for money. This part is surprisingly successful.

But actually writing?

Uhm….

Uhm….

Uhm…..

I haven’t been able to write in more than a month, now. Mainly because of the crippling insecurity around that other book. But also because I conveniently have a million other things to do, which makes it so easy to procrastinate.

Sigh.

Anyone else feel like they’re stuck in mud with their writing? I’d ask how you get over that feeling, but I already know the only thing to do is actually stop moaning and start actually working on something again. 

Holy Crap I Forgot It’s IWSG

I wish I was kidding, but sadly, I’m not. The first of the month always catches me for some reason, because my brain seems to believe that the first Wednesday for the month must be the third or later. *facepalm*

No idea what I’m talking about?

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group is a monthly bloghop taking place on the first Wednesday of every month. About two hundred writers are part of the IWSG, sharing our doubt, fears, insecurities and encouragement to let everyone else know that actually, they’re not all that alone after all.

You’re more than welcome to join, if you’d like. Click here for more information or to sign up.

So.
Because I already eloquently explained myself last week by vlog, I’m going to re-post here. I did try to keep a brave face on everything, but by the end of the first third or so, I’m basically going into where I really am in my life at the moment.
Spoiler alert, it’s not pretty. (Also, this isn’t family rated. Just so you know. And yes, the f-bombs I dropped actually did make me feel better. My mom always asks me that. No idea why.)

Since I’m just going to let that do the talking for me instead of writing again (because I’ve *just* managed to not burst into tears at the thought and writing about it again would open the scab, so to speak), I figured I’d answer this month’s question for those of you who’d rather not see/hear me.

Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it work out?

Yes, I have. A long long time ago, I finished a rewrite to a book shortly after I finished rewriting Doorways. For those of you who weren’t visiting my blog at that time, The Vanished Knight + The Heir’s Choice = Doorways. 
 
It wrote like a dream. I backed up.
I was backing up the file for the last time when something (and don’t ask me what) went wrong. The entire file disappeared, replaced with an empty one of the same name.
I was heartbroken. So much so that I decided to just shelf the whole project until I could look at it without mourning the project I’d had.
It took about five years before I decided to look at that thing again, and by then, I’d grown so much as a writer that I ended up redrafting the whole thing from scratch, keeping only the characters and about half of the concept.
Any you know what? I love it even more than I loved it before. I’ve started editing it and working on it with critique partners and they’ve enjoyed it too.
But… it’s still a to be continued when it comes to knowing if it worked out. It’s not shelved per se, but because of my lack of time and the abundance of crap in my life as is mentioned in the vlog above, I just haven’t been able to get to it when I’m supposed to be finishing the sequel to The Heir’s Choice. But one day… Hopefully in this year…
What about you? Did you ever rework an old story? Any good news to share? Really in need of some good news. 
 
One update I should mention: the business plan is in with the possible investor, so prayers would be appreciated.