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Is the Pandemic Blocking Your Writing?

Hello, and welcome my fellow creatives. I thought I’d talk a little bit about productivity, writers block, burnout and of course self care. Mostly because that is what’s coming up for me this week.

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We’re five-ish months into this pandemic, finding ourselves in varying stages of Lockdown. Stepping outside the front door, we find ourselves in a very different world. Full of alcohol laced hand-gel, masks and public distancing. Here in Wales, coming out of Lockdown has been painfully slow compared to the rest of the UK, and I’m glad for it. We currently have low case numbers, which is good, considering school starts soon.

While the world has capitulated under the demand of the virus, I’ve kept my head down and worked, worked, worked. It has been my coping mechanism. However, I’m reaching the end of that wave, and burnout is on the horizon. In the past, I’ve charged into the fray, pen scribbling, fingers tapping, eyes blurring as I’ve written to the bitter end. Not helpful!

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This time I’ve taken a pause. A whole week off of writing to procrastinate. To read a little, play mouse trap, watch the finale of Star Wars and prepare for the next phase of my journey. And so I’d like to share some of my good news... I’ve been accepted to begin training as a Transactional Analysis psychotherapist, shifting from being a client into the role of trainee. This next year is going to be full of introspection, growth, and challenges.

Don’t panic fellow writers, I still aspire to be traditionally published, to get an agent, but it would appear a fork in the road has opened up for me. As exciting as this is, I’m also truthfully a little terrified of the unknown. My inner-world is echoing the state of the world at the moment. It’s no wonder my writing flow has faltered.

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It would seem we’re all being asked to sit with the unfamiliar. To tread the line between staying safe, and not allowing our fears to overwhelm us. My life has become Groundhog Day: a never ending treadmill with no destination. And yet everything is constantly changing.

So, while burnout and writers block lurk in the background, I’m taking a break. Refueling, visiting family (at long last), and refilling my empty cup. Productivity can wait a few days. I’ll leave you with a quote that truly resonated with me this week:

For a while I was looking for a person but I didn’t find them and after that I was looking for myself. Now that I have found me I’m back to exploring, which is what I was doing in the first place before I was doing anything else and I think I was supposed to be exploring along.

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern.
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What are your fears at the moment? And how do you soothing them? We’re all on this crazy journey together, so please share your story with me. You know I love hearing from you.

Thanks for stopping by. until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2020.
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A Writer’s Journey to Publishing

Sometimes it’s good to look back and establish how far we’ve come. To self evaluate our journey and see what we’ve learnt along the way. While some of you may be published, I am still working my way towards that goal. As are many of my Critique Partners. It’s important to know, that no matter where you are on the path, it is not the end goal that counts, its the lessons along the way.

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I heard a great mantra today: “Look how far you’ve come and not how far you have to go.” It put my writing journey into perspective. I’ve been writing seriously for the last five years. And in that time, I’ve made some wonderful writing friends through the blogging community. Working with them, I’ve watched their writing strengthen and flourish. And of course, they’ve helped me grow too.

Most of us have family and work commitments that need to be juggled alongside our writing. It’s no easy task, working on a dream that has yet to materialize. And yet we do it because it is our passion. Writing is in our blood. We see the world through a different filter. It’s in our essence to keep creating and to devour books in a bid to learn more, feel more, escape… just that little bit more.

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This year I drafted my fourth novel, rewrote my second novel ready for querying, and I’m about to start the next round of edits on my third. No project is ever complete, and no manuscript is ever really wasted. So don’t give up. Keep pursuing that goal, keeping dreaming the big dream and follow your heart.

Many of you may know K. M. Allan who released her debut novel Blackbirch: the beginning, and recently release the second in the series, Blackbirch: the Dark Half. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Kate and seeing her journey flourish. She works with dedication to bring her dream to life. She’s an inspiration, keeping me anchored to my own aspirations.

Whatever stage you’re at; drafting, editing, querying or publishing, the journey never stops. We keep climbing steps, overcoming hurdles and plowing ahead. Sometimes its good to stop. To appreciate how far you’ve come.

So take a look at your own journey, and remember to congratulate yourself on your hard work. You deserve it. You’ve created wonderful things with nothing more than hope and dedication.

Where are you on your journey? And what are you most proud of accomplishing. Please share your accomplishments with me… you know I love hearing from you.

Thanks for stopping by, until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2020.
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7 Writing tips by Lorraine Ambers

Hello, and welcome. In this post I’m sharing some of my writing tips with you, giving you a sneak peek into my writing habits. From creating realistic goals, to defining your writing zone. A helpful and fun little post. Enjoy!

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Tip number 1: Read you work aloud. This helpful tip comes from the wonderful author Judith Barrow, She instilled the advice in me. It helps to identify poor flowing work, straightens out kinks and generally is a great tool for your sharpening your revision.

Tip number 2: Use your own writing voice. Don’t try to imitate someone another writers style. Publishers, editors and readers want your unique style, your unique voice, so don’t be afraid to let yourself onto the page. Remember– don’t confuse your voice with the voice of your main character, check out my post on Defining your writing voice for a better understanding of the differences.

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Tip number 3: Always carry a notebook and pen. Pencils, or a felt pen will suffice. When an idea strikes write it down. You’ll lie to yourself, saying you’ll remember this gem of a plot twist, a development of a scene, or some clever prose – but you won’t. I can’t tell you how many times I should have been prepared. In your handbag/ backpack, in the glove box, by your bed or even record your words of epiphany onto your mobile phone.

Tip number 4: Writing and kids don’t mix. For all my writing mums and dads, the struggle is real. I know parents that get up before the children to write at 6am, and others that wait until late at night. My tip is; don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Have small writing goals, that are achievable to you and your family. I couldn’t even think about writing when my young kids were awake; or when they were preteens are home. It always resulted in tears and tantrums; mostly mine, because my kids would not let me write.

YA fantasy romance Author Lorraine Ambers Desk

Tip number 5: Set a writing goal. I don’t know about you, but I’m the queen of daydreams and procrastination. So I need some limits and boundaries. Even if its just writing for 20 minutes a day. Get your laptop, or pen and paper, and put your butt in a seat… and begin. Once I get started, I can write for a few hours, whereas, other days  I’ll struggle to get two words out. We all have those days, you are not alone! Still the routine and an achievable goal  really spur me on.

Tip number 6: Bring a fresh mug of tea. Hot beverages and snacks don’t help me write, but it does lift my spirits. And a happy writer is a productive writer… another white lie I tell myself. Still, why not enjoy the perks of being a writer. I fully take advantage of working from home by staying in my pyjamas, continuously drinking tea and having my cat and dog as work colleges.

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Tip number 7: Back up your work. I unfortunately learnt this the hard way – not once but twice. Thankfully, I managed to decrypt both USBs, but it was painstakingly difficult (I’m not tech savvy) and utterly stressful. Don’t repeat my mistakes! Now I save my MS’s on the cloud, a memory stick, and my computer – and just to be extra sure, I keep a printed copy in a vault that can only be accessed if you have magical powers. Of course I’m joking, I don’t have magic. Hopefully you understand my point though, when the works gone, its gone, so take care of it people.

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Tell me about some of your writing tips, quirks or habits. Have you learnt the hard way to back up your work? Or perhpas your struggling to write with young kids at home. Whatever your journey is, please share it with me, you knw I love hearing from you.

Thanks for stopping by, until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2020.
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Writing (or not writing) During A Pandemic

Being creative during a pandemic can be a struggle. Not only is the world full of fear, but it’s also loaded with stress. If you can’t write, don’t beat yourself up about it. We’re living in uncertain times, making sure you take care of yourself and your family is the main priority. But to ease the burden, here’s a lighthearted post about how I’m dealing with the situation.

Keep active.

This translates to hoovering in my pajamas, washing the dishes while staring out of the window and daydreaming. I like to let the lemon-fresh soapy suds lull me into a peaceful bliss while I conjure up new plots.

Keeping the kids busy.

Signed up to Disney+ so we can all watch our favorite films. I’m taking advantage of being emotionally carried away by Marvel magic. Sigh! Chris Pratt. Besides, endless games of monopoly and Uno are getting old fast. It’s like an extended Christmas holiday with less booze.

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Keep expectations realistic

I now understand that two ‘family sized bars of chocolate’ are supposed to last a full week. Apparently, stocking up on treats does not count as essential shopping. BUT, when I next make the perilous ‘social distancing’ trip around the supermarket – I’ll buy more chocolate (and maybe booze).

It seems everyone else has gone baking mad, meaning bags of flour, paracetamol and loo roll has suddenly become rarer than gold dust (who would have guessed). Thankfully, I can’t bake!

Take some ME time.

This means hiding in the bathroom; to either have an emotional break down, or to read a chapter (or three) in peace. Suddenly, I understand why my husband takes so long on the loo. Sneaky!

Draw strength from the situation

Sometimes we need to pull on our inner reserves, knowing that we will get through this madness. A good tip is to call upon your Spirit Animal. I have called upon a hamster: I like to eat, hibernate, gaze at the world side and then do as little house keeping as possible.

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Humor can be a great way to cope with difficult situations. So why not get creative and share your spirit animal with me. You know I love hearing from you.

Thanks for stopping by, until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2020.
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Powerful Influences in Writing.

We explore the world around us through things we hear, see and experience. So I guess it’s natural to expect the current crisis to slip into our writing. Should we sensor our words to protect other peoples feelings? Should we avoid subjects, because they might be deemed inappropriate?

As writers we’re told to research, to write what we know, to have empathy for our fellow humans. This is how we learn to write from their perspective. With the Coronavirus pandemic on the forefront of everyone’s mind, it’s not surprising it slipped into my latest WIP.

I think in times of crisis it’s the artists responsibility to dig a little deeper.

~ Bruce Pavitt.

Yesterday, I did a hard cull of all traces of the conspiracy theory I’d just invented. It was too close to the bone, and too horrifying to write. I had palpitations thinking about the potential persecution I’d face.

I’m a strong believer that we don’t need anymore fuel added to the fear-fire. And yet, I’m aware of the benefits to writing about what scares you. The unknown, the strange, the grotesque. How else are we suppose to make sense of the things that form our day-to-day world?

There is no ‘right’ way to make art. The only wrong is in not trying, not doing. Don’t put barriers up that aren’t there – just get to work and make something.

~ Lisa Golightly

In this time of crisis, when everyone is maintaining a calm, sensible approach. I wonder how many writers are releasing some of that pent up anxiety and terror onto paper?

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Do you have a favorite quote you’d like to share? Are you writing about the current crisis? Has something similar slipped into your work? Please share your experience, you know I love hearing from you.

Thanks for stopping by, until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2020.
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How to Overcome self-doubt as a Writer

A lack of faith or confidence in our ability as an artist is something all writers struggle with. Sometimes it’s fleeting like a summer breeze, other times, it lingers like a winter  frost. So how do we navigate the storm and overcome self-doubt?

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We’ve all heard the little gremlins, but what makes us carry on despite the crippling fear. One of my favourite quotes is by Suzy Kassem. She hits the proverbial nail on the head with her wise words. 

“Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.” – Suzy Kassem.

Sometimes it’s the shove I need to keep going, to keep trying. I cling to the hope that tomorrow I’ll believe in myself once again.

Dream Big and Let Nothing Hold You Back
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For me, perseverance is the only option. In the past, I’ve buried myself in a double quilt, hidden in Netflix series whilst gorging on chocolate: The ultimate self-pity, self-sabotage, procrastination. If you catch yourself in this place, ask yourself these three questions:

  • What do you fear the most? Failure? Ridicule? Or is it success and living in your own power?
  • What’s Holding you back? Is it a lack of knowledge, practice, or feedback? And how can you change that?
  • What would you do differently if you believed in myself? 

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“If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.”  – Vincent Van Gogh

And so we should continue to paint with our words, dream up characters, learn our trade, and most importantly, let your joy and passion lead you. Forget the outside world, the setbacks, the criticism and write

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Remember we have the right to nurture ourselves, to take a step back, regroup and reconnect to those we care about. As a suffer of Complex PTSD, I understand that sometimes the inner voice is the cruelest one of all. I now know, self-care and self-love are important for me to be able to create. Occasionally, I need to step back from a project and recharge my creativity. I no longer allow guilt to weigh me down, it’s all part of the process. Me time, strengthens my writing. 

“Our doubts are traitors,
and make us lose the good we oft might win,
by fearing to attempt.” – William Shakespeare.

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What helps you navigate the choppy waters of self-doubt? Please share your experiences to help other writers, and to help me, you know I love hearing from you.

Thanks for stopping by, until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2020.
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Dream Big and Get Writing

What should we do when life reveals itself as a broken fairy-tale? Unlike a fantasy novel, there is no white knight to save us. The first step is realization: Our world is what we make it.

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How do you create your best life? How do you discover your life’s purpose? 

Follow these simple rules:

  • Do the things that ignite your passion,
  • Dare to dream,
  • Become the person you aspire to be
  • And most importantly, take the steps to achieve those goals.

As writers we know how to hold on the vision; no one else is going to plot, draft or edit our stories. Everyday we create something new; pen to paper, fingers tapping at the key board. Over time, we hold something more than just a finished story in our hands, we gain experience, build a writing community and build upon our social media platforms.

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We are the ultimate creators of our reality, each word, each rejection, each new connection or failed attempt only brings us closer to the place we all want to reach – to have readers fall in love with our words; to experience something profound or moving, to feel a sense of kinship to the trial and tribulations our characters journey through, to escape and pleasure in our fictional worlds. 

The last thing any creative wants, is to experience a burnout: Writers block. Our imagination and determination dries up, causing our writing to come to a grinding halt. We need to listen to our mind and bodies, to slow down when things get tough. The last thing we need is to exasperate the problem, making the journey to getting back on track even harder.

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I’ve had my share of falling down the rabbit hole of procrastination, of not paying attention to self-care and letting stress take its toll. After the exuberance of the Christmas holidays and the celebrations of a new year, I’ve struggled to slip back into my old writing habits. In search of some much needed motivation, I stumbled across this enlightening YouTube clip. 

Psychological well-being by Nina Ellis-Hervey at TED

Nina is an inspirational woman, who has learnt valuable lessons from her failures and strives to encourage others, that they too, can achieve anything they put their minds too.

So to all of my fellow writers, as Nina says,

Dream big or not at all.

Do you have a favorite motivational or inspirational quote or video clip you’d like to share? We all need encouragement and support, and you know I love hearing from you.

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Thanks for stopping by, until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2020.

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Writers, Don’t Let Doubt Stop You!

There comes a time in every artist’s journey when crippling self-doubt sets in. It’s an agonising period where all your hopes and dreams become overshadowed with fear. But before you scoop out the ice-cream and take cover in your bed, vowing to never write again, try a few of these techniques.

Keep track of your success.

When we’re gazing over the yawning expanse of our final destination, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with everything set before us. After all, there is no guarantee of our success. However, taking a look over your accomplishments will offer a glimmer of hope, proving that you can excel at what you set your mind too. Did you ever imagine that you’d write a novel?

Turn to your community.

Sharing your problems can help to alleviate them. Maybe you choose to turn to a blog post like this one, or to connect with like-minded individuals at a writing group, or through your social media. Just knowing there are other people who battle with the same demons may be enough to take the edge off. Remember this is a normal issue, it’s a universal fear, and it’s going to get easier.

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Don’t let fear be the driver

Acceptance in any situation allows us to relax into the moment and let go of our expectations. Easier said than done, however, if you can learn to live with the uncertainty, the doubts and fears, you gain back control to steer your life in the direction of your choice. Whenever I’m crippled by doubt, I work on releasing it by moving forward, redefining my goals, making small steps. Before you know it, the resistance will disappear and you’ll be gliding side-by-side with your creativity.

Take care of yourself

Sometimes, doubt comes at a time in our lives when we have internal and/ or external stress. Learning to listen to yourself, asking for help, or simply knowing when to slow down can be the greatest act of self-love. During those hard times, I choose to read, not only to escape the world but to have it redefined in words that often mirror my trials and tribulations. Reading is wonderfully cathartic and equally as important as writing, so I don’t have to feel guilty about taking time out.

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How do you combat self-doubt? By sharing your tips, you’re helping the writing community, so don’t be shy, you know I love hearing from you.

Thanks for stopping by, until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2019.

 

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Ten Steps… Stop Daydreaming and Start Growing your Business

We all have aspirations of becoming more successful, of being more fulfilled? Have you always romanticised about being a writer? Or about finishing your novel? Maybe, like me you hold onto the possibility of being published. But here’s the catch, dreams won’t come true by fantasising about them. No, you have to put in the work.

Some of you are wondering, but how? Where do we start? Well, I’m here to guide you through the process – read my Ten Step Plan to get you on track. It’s time to be brave, battle through your fears and start taking action towards your dreams.

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  • Commit – This should come as no surprise, but the next step in your plan is to actually commit. You’ve pictured the end goal, held the dream in your heart, filled notebooks and Pinterest boards with your ideas; the next move is to make a promise to your self to start. If your vision hasn’t taken off yet, then there is obviously a level of difficulty to it. Not to worry, the following steps will help.
  • Plan – Well done, the hardest part is beginning. We’ve all heard that person who constantly talks of setting up a business, or writing a novel, or converting their loft into a studio. While they have committed to the idea, they have yet to make any plans. And that’s what you should do, write it down, create a course of action and make sure it logically supports the envisaged dream.
  • Study – What? Why? I hear you groan. If it’s a necessary skill to your business, then committing to learning everything you can about that industry is vital. As a writer, I studied by attending a creative writing course, and now my skills are worked upon by reading, writing, editing and working with Critique Partners. Maybe you need to touch up on you marketing skills, or research Platform Building, or discover your Target Audience. Whatever the issue, there will be some form of developing and growing your skillset.
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  • Practise – This is where the ground work begins, building the foundations as you being to cultivate your dreams. Get dirty, get bruised and tumble into self-doubt; and then dust yourself off and climb back on that metaphorical unicorn, ready to chase your dreams over the nearest rainbow. Never give up, because you never know how close you are to making your ideas blossom into reality.
  • Action – Finally, it’s the moment you’ve been waiting for. TA DAA!! Take those tentative steps into the unknown. Be warned, reality has wicked sense of humour: Don’t be disheartened by the truth, that no matter how much effort we’ve invested up to this point, we will inevitable not be where we want to be. Maybe we’re not confident enough, fast enough, or media savvy enough. There will come a time when you hit a wall, it happens to everyone. The difference between success and failure is that the successful people never quit. Don’t berate yourself, it’s all part of the process, so let’s continue onwards with our Ten Step Plan.
  • Community – Developing a strong foundation of people who encourage and motivate you will help you stay the course through difficult times. Whether they’re friends and family, an online group for entrepreneurs, or the wonderful world of fellow bloggers; having people who can offer support when you need it most is beneficial.
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  • Health – It can be a long, winding road to reaching your goals. And many creatives struggle with mental health. It’s important to listen to your body, watch out for signs of stress and anxiety and take care of yourself. If you crash from Creative Burnout, your beloved dreams will temporarily perish. The same applies for the health of your body, so get some sleep, eat healthy meals, and take time to recover.
  • Take Risks – For life to move forward in a new direction, risks must be taken. It’s easy to stay safe, to live in your comfort zone, but nothing changes. Everyday push your boundaries, it’s the only way to grow and develop (and not just in business). Make that call, ask that blogger to beta read, attend that writing conference. It doesn’t have to be massive steps. In fact, my number one peace of advice to budding new entrepreneurs is: Conquer your fears by taking small steps, one at a time, but keep moving forward. This is how you build self-esteem, by looking back and recollecting all of those tiny achievements. You can do it, you’re AWESOME!
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  • Embrace Failures – No one is perfect, humans make mistakes, and failure in some form or another is inevitable. Don’t wallow in the misery of what you’ve lost, instead find the silver lining and learn from the valuable lessons gained. What will you do differently next time? Where will you invest more? How will you overcome the current hurdle and rise victorious?
  • Celebrate Each Triumph – Life is like trying to climb a giant beans stalk, instead of gazing up at the blanket of clouds and imagining the glittering castle beyond (or, your ideal vision of success). Celebrate each leaf that you climb! Remember to look back at all the other small accomplishments you’ve made, because that is embracing the journey, and that is the true measure of your success.
Author Lorraine Ambers - fantasy romance writer

What step are you embracing at the moment? Do you have any advice for your fellow readers, maybe a further steps to add? Whatever your message, please comment – you know I love hearing from you.

Thanks for stopping by, until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2019.

What To Blog About If You’re Not Published

Setting up a new blog can be a daunting task. Especially if you’re a blossoming writer hoping to use the platform as a means to find your audience. What do you write about? Is it too soon to start if you haven’t published anything?

K.M.Allen offers wonderful tips and advice which are motivating and inspiring… a must read for anyone wondering what to blog about.

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While June might remind us were already halfway through another year, it is also this blog’s blogiversary month!

I published my first post in June 2017. That kicked off the 117 posts I’ve published since.

I launched my blog to extend my writer platform. I’d already begun querying agents and publishers and had been rejected, but was still two years away from signing the small press contract I was offered in January 2019. I wasn’t published anywhere and didn’t have a book out to plug.

So what does a writer who isn’t published write about?

Writing, of course! My first post was titled Just Start, which was, and still is, a life motto of mine.

While I’m still another 6 months away from being officially published (the first book in my YA series, Blackbirch, is coming early 2020), I’ll continue to practice what I preach and blog about…

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