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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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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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Time to Write, Don’t Procrastinate

We know that daily writing goals and being proactive creates a great forwards momentum for our novels. Yet putting that into practice can sometimes feel like a mountain to overcome and before we know it, writing has turned from a wonderful pastime, into a herculean beast that we can’t face. Then even if we find time to write, procrastination takes over. Suddenly, writing time has evaporated into a missed opportunity.

Today I’m sharing my productivity tips in the hopes that they resonate with you: Let’s do this!!!

Set intentions There’s no point in half-heartedly thinking; I’ll try to write today. No. Make it a definite intention: A promise to yourself. And keep it. I set mine the night before, listing the top 3 things I intend to achieve the next day and allocate the time for those things to happen.

Carve out time. I’m a mother of two and a partner in two businesses. Life can get pretty hectic. But I make it my intention to write first thing in the morning, so no matter what unfolds through the rest of the day my creativity won’t be impacted.

Don’t get distracted. Put down your phone. Turn the TV off. Don’t nip to your friends for a quick brew (Oops, I’m already guilty of this.) Sit at your computer and begin. Even if the words don’t flow, and your characters are silent. You can always edit, develop setting and plot or research – just not on Facebook.

Take yourself and your writing seriously. By putting everyone else’s needs in front of your own, you’re giving off the energy that your writing isn’t that important. If you can dedicate your time to your kids, running around for their needs. Dedicate your time to a job, because you need the money. Dedicate your time to your partner, because you want a healthy relationship. Then you should apply the same principles to yourself. Your passion. Your calling.Your love for words and literature make you who you are. Own it and believe in yourself. Even if it’s only for half an hour on your lunch break, or in the car while your kids play sports, or cutting out one Netflix show. (I love Netflix; they have great story lines… it’s research.)

Recharge your batteries and don’t stress. We are notorious for burning out. Pouring our heart and soul into a novel and balancing family, work and personal life can take its toll. We are only human and life happens while you’re making plans. Relax, recharge and reboot your creativity. Although this could be considered procrastination, it’s different. If you’re running on empty, you need to refuel. So watch movies, walk in nature, laugh with friends and read books. It’s good for the soul. And a happy writer makes for a more productive writer.

Thanks for reading. Do you have any tips on creating time to write and how to stop procratination by? If so, please share, you know I love hearing from you.

Until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2018.

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Hopes and Fears of a writer

As writers, we need self-discipline, perseverance and an unwavering faith in our abilities. However, as writers, we will be plagued with self-doubt, procrastination and writers block. Today we’re looking at some of the difficulties we face and how to combat the negative aspects and stay in alignment with our goals.

Let’s acknowledge some of the draw backs to being a writer. It’s often solitary; in the early days of writing a draft, the plot and our characters become our only companions. We shield ourselves from the awkwardness of admitting out loud that we are writers, to avoid the embarrassment of how we define ourselves. After all, at what point can we truly identify with being a writer, or even an author. When you’ve wrote a book? Maybe when you’ve wrote three books? Or perhaps when you get an agent? Possibly, until you hold the published novel in your hands?  

And so you keep your passion a secret, burrowed away in your fantastical worlds of words. While the fire is hot, your creativity soars and the story oozes onto the page. You feel brave and inspired, and why wouldn’t you, not only have you created conflict and tension for your characters to overcome, but you’ve also crossed those hurdles with them. Every character arc has been meticulously navigated and you’ve fuelled their emotions with your own.

Then we move onto edits; we get feedback and learn to handle criticism. Though it may pinch, you know in your heart the changes will strengthen your manuscript, and so you courageously persevere. Finally, you start submitting your work, but the rejections trickle in.

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Yes, you’re on Twitter and Instagram. And yes you participate in the blogging community. You’re doing all the right things, and yet, the nagging doubts that your not quite good enough seep in. Well-meaning family and friends ask about your novels, they want to know when they can read your book. And honestly, you’d like to know when that will happen too.

This is when the plague sweeps in. What if no one likes mywork? What if I’m never published? What if I write ten books and still feel like a fraud, a complete and utter imposter. What if my dreams never come true?

Take a deep breath my friends, you’re not in this place alone. Reach out to your community and they will respond with kind words of encouragement, because they have also visited this dark place. It will pass. The anxiety will disperse. If you’ve reached this desolate place, then it’s time to take a step back and practice self-love, self-compassion and self-care.

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The traditional writing industry is difficult to break into, and rejection stings. Indie authors juggle an incredible amount of responsibility, constantly striving to grow their business and reach potential readers. And writers battling their first novel have overwhelming new lessons to learn.

Whatever route you’ve taken, it takes guts to be a writer, putting your heart and soul into something for years that no one sees. Who knows what’s next? That’s not the point, look at where you’ve been and all you’ve accomplished. I congratulate you, I validate your struggles, and I’ll be here to celebrate your success.

Author Lorraine Ambers - fantasy romance writer

How do you deal with the negative side of writing? I’d love to hear your answers because I know how incredibly supportive you are.

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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Are you Stuck in the Middle of Writing a Novel?

Hello, my wonderful writing buddies.

With less than two weeks until the end of NaNo, many of you should be halfway through your first draft. And if you’re anything like me, then you’re also stuck in the middle of your WIP. So today I wanted to show support, offer a little guidance and throw in a couple of great quotes to get us all moving again.

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Whether you write a detailed outline or dive straight into your new WIP, there is going to come a point at which it’s hard to move forward. Trust me, it’s not unusual, and it’s happened with my first two novels and again with my third. I’ve hit the halfway word count; I know where I’m heading, but something is stopping me from progressing. And yes its procrastination, but it’s more than that, it’s the inner monologue that comes with the writer territory. Well, let’s nip that self-doubt/ critical voice in the bud.

As soon as I stopped over-thinking my process, my infernal internal editor shut up, my characters started talking to me again, and my writing improved vastly. Turned out the very thing I thought was helping me be a good writer was holding me back.
K.M. Weiland – Are You Over-Thinking Your First Draft?

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The best we can do in this situation is to apply self-discipline. Sit down at the laptop – typewriter – notepad – napkin or whatever your preferred method is and begin, keep going and don’t stop. Whatever you need to do… Do it! Research, plot, plan or write. Become your own personal cheerleader. You’ll soon be over the hump.

There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed. –  Ernest Hemingway

And for those of you who are struggling because you’re stressed, under the weather, or have too much on your plate with work and family commitments: I want to tell you that it’s ok to have a duvet day. Our creativity can’t bloom under those pressures. The best thing you can do is practise self-love. Your creativity will thank you for it.

If you are willing to do something that might not work, you’re closer to being an artist. –Seth Godin

I hope I’ve inspired you to keep going. What do you do to get over the writing hurdle? Perhaps your advice will help me, plus you know I love hearing from you.

Until next time, Much Love Xx

Author Lorraine Ambers - YA fantasy romance writer

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2018.
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6 funny writing quirks we share in common

We’re all creatures of habits, and writing a novel is no different. Whether you prefer to write on your journey home from work, late at night or early in the morning, there are a few quirks that we writers all share in common.

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The elusive word hunt.

It’s either sat staring at a blank page, while our brains conjure up a magic sentence that will steal the hearts of our readers, or it’s trying to remember that word… you know the one… it’s on the tip of your tongue but you just can’t find it. Until, ten minutes later, Eureka! That simple, completely obvious word decides to grace your presence and the writing flow can resume.

White Noise.

Let it be silence while a pink ribbon of sunrise streaks the sky. Or music to fire your muse and set your toes tapping. Maybe it’s the chatter on a busy train or in a coffee shop – but there’s always a preference and without that setting it’s impossible to connect with your characters.

love pen book tea - Author Lorraine Ambers fantasy writer

What’s your poison?

My preference is hot tea, keep me supplied in strong PG tips and watch my word count fly. If there’s a chocolate bar around – all the better. You have your own preference, and writing just doesn’t seem the same without it.

Faithful Companion.

Writer’s are solitary creatures: However with our faithful character companions we need never be alone. And yes, I can be found chatting to myself. But in case we require something more substantial, a fluffy pet or two will usually suffices: The writers familiar. In fact, in many ways I’m like my cats, requiring company and affection when desired, but if I’m interrupted during writing, daydreaming, planning, plotting, reading or browsing Pinterest – watch out or the claws may come out.

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Name in starlight.

Let’s be honest, who amongst us hasn’t envisioned our novels as a movie. Who amongst us hasn’t daydreamt about being the next J.K. Rowling, I know my WIP would make an epic ride in Orlando. While I joke about such things, there’s still a secret hope that one day I’ll steal just a fraction of that limelight for the worlds I’ve created. So the next time a bout of self-doubt claws through your MS, remember; dreams can come true if we work too, and re-emerge as a humble, hardworking artist and set your goals high.

Tick-Tock, Tick-Tock.

We all know procrastination is a constant companion, like that well-meaning friend who insists that one more coffee, chapter, or Netflix series won’t really matter because everything will be waiting for us afterwards. I’ll offer some advice that none of us will take; don’t indulge her and crack on. Because on the flip-side of time wasted is the fantastic sensation of getting lost in our own worlds, writing sometimes feels like wading through thick water, other times it’s like flying. Regardless of the process one thing is for sure, time always disappears in the blink of an eye and it’s time to put the pen down and slip back to the normal world. And reality is what all writers dread.

Author Lorraine Ambers - YA fantasy romance writer

I hope you enjoyed this weeks fun post. Can you see yourself in any of these quirks? If so, why not tell me about it in the comments.

Until next week, Much Love Xx

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2018.
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Procrastination

I thought about writing a post giving my top tips to avoid procrastination. But the truth is, there’s only one: Sit down and get it done.

I wonder if there are people who don’t suffer with this plight. Perhaps certain individual are too driven and focused to let such forces come into play.

I also wonder if the very act of procrastination is in fact another emotion. Doubt, anxiety and depression are my biggest causes. I flounder, an overwhelming sense of being lost, unclear of my path and sometimes a down right lack of caring about myself. The fog has enveloped my mind, muddied my outlook and taken rot in my soul.

I didn’t blog last week. I simply couldn’t face it. I had no pearls of wisdom to share. Instead of beating myself up over the fact that I was underperforming, missing my goals and a variety of other things I could sling at myself worth. I admitted defeat with grace, accepted that occasionally my mental health is at a critical low and the best thing I can do is recuperate.

My state of mind is a gift and a curse, my craft explores the joy and pain of the world around me. It’s how I make sense of my life. Too much suffering shuts down my creativity and cripples me.

“Compassion hurts. When you feel connected to everything, you also feel responsible for everything. And you cannot turn away. Your destiny is bound with the destinies of others. You must either learn to carry the Universe or be crushed by it. You must grow strong enough to love the world, yet empty enough to sit down at the same table with its worst horrors.”
Andrew Boyd, Daily Afflictions: The Agony of Being Connected to Everything in the Universe

Take care of yourselves, you’re worth it.

Author Lorraine Ambers Web-Banner YA fantasy book review romance

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