I am here as promised with the piece of news that I have been talking about excitedly for almost a month now. Yes, the series of guest posts from indie authors and relevant people from the independent publishing community is here!
For the first edition we have Kathleen Jowitt talking about the highs and lows of writing as she sees as an author herself and ways to keep yourself motivated through the whole process. So let me hand it over to her and get out of the away after a round of introduction.
Say hi to Kathleen!
Kathleen Jowitt is an author and trade union officer. Her first novel, Speak Its Name, was the first self-published work ever shortlisted for the prestigious Betty Trask Prize.
Again, I am so pumped with the posts I have scheduled already in this series guys. Okay, I am off and K Jo is here!
The highs and lows of writing
Self-publishing can be a lonely business. Writing can be a lonely business even if you’re conventionally published – there are long stretches when it’s just you and the keyboard – but when you don’t have an agent checking in with you, or a publisher checking up on you, you’ve only got yourself to keep you going.
And it can be dispiriting. When you’re at the early stage of a new book and are reluctant to show your work to anyone else, you end up without talking to anyone about your writing, and there’s nobody to counter the negative voice that suggests maybe this one isn’t very good. If it’s been a while since you last published something, and you haven’t had an Amazon or Goodreads review in ages, it can start to feel as if nobody’s reading any of your work at all.
I’ve had a reasonable amount of success with self-publishing. In 2017 I was the first – and, so far, the only – self-published author to be shortlisted for the Betty Trask Prize, which is awarded to the best debut by an author under the age of 35.
When the news broke, I had most of the second one done, and I was able to use the momentum from the excitement of the shortlisting to carry me through the final round of editing all the way through to the publication and launch.
And now what?
Seven months on, with another cycle of awards passed and gone, nothing very exciting in the way of sales, and a measly 10,000 words down on the next novel, I have to admit that I’m feeling a bit flat. I know that this is a temporary state of affairs.
There’s a reason why my work in progress doesn’t seem like it’s going to be very good, and it’s this: it isn’t finished yet. I know that the only way out of this patch of the doldrums is through it. There’s just one problem: I’ve got to keep writing, when the very thought of writing is getting me down.
“[…] the only way out of this patch of the doldrums is through it. There’s just one problem: I’ve got to keep writing, when the very thought of writing is getting me down.” says Jowitt on “the highs and lows of writing”.Click to Tweet
There are two ways to approach this conundrum, and I tend to apply both at once.
Remember that you’re not alone
Firstly, keep reaching out. If nobody’s talking to me, then I’m going to have to be the one to talk to them. Here are some ways that I do that:
- Talk to other writers. Do it on Twitter, or in a writing group, or anywhere else that you can have a sensible, encouraging conversation. You might feel like you’re alone, but you’re not the only one.
- And remember that even a self-published author shouldn’t be doing everything on their own. At the very least, you need a beta reader. Find the right one, and you might find that they’re a staunch ally and cheerleader for years to come.
- Keep asking for reviews. If your book is still available, then it’s still worth looking for people to review it. Earlier this year I found a list of reviewers who specialise in F/F fiction, and I contacted all those that I hadn’t come across before. And three of them were entirely happy to review my first novel, even though it was over two years old at that point. Meanwhile, a reviewer who has just finished my newest book has come back to me with a set of thought-provoking interview questions, which has cheered me right up. The prospect of having an intelligent conversation about my writing has done wonders.
While I’m on the subject, there’s nothing wrong with reading your old reviews. They tell you that you have produced something that other people have enjoyed reading, and, therefore, that you can do it again. It’s a useful reminder.
“[..]there’s nothing wrong with reading your old reviews. They tell you that you have produced something that other people have enjoyed reading, and, therefore, that you can do it again.” Hear more from Kathleen Jowitt!Click to Tweet
Remember to please yourself
Secondly, look after yourself. Remember why you started doing this in the first place. If you’ve chosen to write, and particularly if you’ve chosen to go it alone, it may well be that you’re doing it because nobody else is writing the kind of books that you want to read.
In short, you’re writing to please yourself. So please yourself. Put in the silly plots, the jokes that only you and two other people will get, the cheesy pop culture references – whatever makes you smile and keeps you writing. You can always take it out again later.
Take a break if you need to. You don’t have to write every day. Personally, I always find that going for a walk helps. There’s something about being out in the open air, away from my desk, and with nothing to do but put one foot in front in the other, that seems to shake the ideas loose.
And enjoy other people’s work – books, films, art, music, whatever makes you feel refreshed, curious, or inspired. You can only put so much out into the world before you need to replenish your own resources. If you honestly don’t feel like writing at the moment, then there’s probably a good reason for that. Take care of your own needs.
Give yourself time. Give yourself company. But don’t give up. There’s a way through this, I promise.
Kathleen Jowitt talks on the highs and lows of writing “Give yourself time. Give yourself company. But don’t give up. There’s a way through this, I promise.”Click to Tweet
Thanks K Jo!
I am back! I am just here to thank her for taking time off her busy schedule to write us a guest post. You can follow and contact her through these links. I am adding a Goodreads link to her latest book!
If you relate to the Jowitt’s plight, you should send her a word of thanks on the social media, I am sure she would appreciate that.
Also, if you are interested in writing a guest post for the independent publishing community, write to me right away. I am still accepting guest post submissions.
Let us chat
Do you ever feel that writing is a lonely business? And how far does being in writer’s group, physically or virtually help you out when the lows hit you? What do you do to celebrate your highs and get out off your lows? Let us talk.