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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.

Quote - Those who tell stories rule the world

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.

Query Hopes and Fears of a Writer

Are you embarking on the submission/ query phase of your writing journey? Or perhaps like me, you’ve forged head-long into the process, only to feel lost, disorientated and at times disheartened. Fear not, I’m here to guide you through it.

The querying phase may trigger the ‘Magic Eight Ball’ zone. The inside of your mind gets shaken to its core. Until your only able to answer – Yes, No or Maybe, to your pointless, endless, rhetorical questions. Will you find an agent? Have you revised enough? Is your story unique and sell-able? Blah, Blah, Blah.

When I first started querying, I understood the process. I’d read all about it. So I knew waiting and rejection would be inevitable. But, oh boy, was I unprepared.

Yes, I’d done my research on finding an agent, polished my query, edited my synopsis and gathered my submission package. And so, back in 2017, I started submitting my YA fantasy novels, Secrets and Shadow Knights. I tugged on my big-girl pants and repeated my mantra: show no fear, you’ve got this.

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Those initial months were fought with anxiety, anticipation. I desperately want to be published, to be chosen, to be good enough. The biggest hurdle I faced during the next few years, was my self esteem. Realizing, I already was good enoughdespite not being published. 

I’m sure you’ve face some of the following situations. And guess what, it’s all completely normal. You’re not alone, thousands of writers are walking a similar path to you.

  • When well-meaning friends and family ask, “so, when are you going to be published?” – Urm?! It’s about as helpful as asking a heavily pregnant woman, “when is the baby going to arrive?”
  • Having amazing dreams about being signed with a talented agent… Only to wake up, disappointed. Well, at least you know you’re passionate about your writing career.  Right?
  • Stalking agents via Twitter. Only to humiliate yourself with a miss-understood tweet. Mortified, you hid from all forms of social media. Yikes!
  • Doubting your skills and creativity. Questioning every plot decision that has led you to this point.

Over the years, I’ve learnt from this process. Things like: strengthening my pitch, learning how to craft a query letter, and finding fantastic beta-readers. There are some amazing bloggers out there who have helped me develop these skills. Check these out:

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An important part of the process is self acknowledgement, self belief. Otherwise, the rejection can easily corrode your self-esteem. You’re not alone, every writer faces these challenges. Every writer battles with doubt. The whole experience is tinged with What if’s. Embrace those fears. Use that motivation to evaluate where you’re going, set small goals, and continue to grow.

I’ve come to realize that this process, as painful as it can be, is also liberating. Even if I don’t find the agent of my dreams, I’m not quitting. I can’t. Writing is in my soul, a passion that will stay with me for the rest of my life. There’s a sense of satisfaction, in knowing my craft, in the continuous growth of mastering a skill. To date, I written four novels. After sound advice from an editor, I’ve rewritten my second novel – Mischief and Mayhem, and I’m almost ready to start querying again.

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Perhaps it will take a 100 submissions. Maybe, like Stephanie Garber – author of the Caraval trilogy, lucky book number 5 will be published. Either way, I have faith that one day my work will be published. Until then, I’ll keep writing, reading and improving my craft.

To my fellow writers embarking on, or wading through, the query trenches – I hope this post brings a little bit of hope. I wish you the best of luck with your submissions.

Do you have any advice about querying? How long have you been in the query trenches? And do you have a success story to share? Come on, share your journey with me, 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.