Writing

On Becoming A Writer

Growing up, I dreamt of being a writer. Not just any writer but an author, a novelist.

I’d love to publish a book one day. Truth be told, I haven’t exactly been working on a novel. I can’t even remember the last time I finished writing one.

I know I’m still young. I have a long way to go. As of right now, I want to pursue other goals and dreams. So I put my creative writing on hold a bit over the summer.

Even if I don’t end up becoming a novelist, I still want a career that allows me to be creative.

I never imagined taking a break from writing would be so hard. I don’t know how other authors manage to write book after book. It’s such a grind.

Even though I joke about being old, I’m relatively young. Some days, I feel young and inexperienced.

I have many years ahead of me. I’ll make mistakes. I’ll fail. But I have to learn. I need to grow.

I can’t see myself doing a lot of things my whole life. But I can see myself writing, whatever form it might be.

Every now and then, everyone deserves a break. At the end of the day, we’re all human beings.

I’m a different writer today. I’m not the same writer I was once upon a time, and that’s a good thing.

When I look back on my life, I want to have no regrets. In order for that to happen, I need to be willing to try new things.

I’m not sure what kind of a writer I’ll be when all is said and done. But I will do everything possible to make myself proud.

I still enjoy the challenge of creating. Sometimes I struggle, but it’s worth every second.

Writing has taught me a lot about myself as well. It’s a journey of self-discovery. I’m still discovering new things about myself every day.

I don’t need to have all the answers. I just need to be curious enough to ask questions.

Ultimately, I want to tell the stories I want to tell.

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Writing

How To Tell A Good Story

Here’s my advice on how to tell a good story.

Create dynamic characters.

They shouldn’t be perfect because everyone is flawed in some way.

Make everyone want something.

As simple as wanting a glass of water or as complicated as saving the world.

Have stakes.

Every action has a reaction.

Don’t sugarcoat.

Tell the story in all it’s ugliness.

Never underestimate the intelligence of your readers.

Enough said.

Aim for clarity.

Confusion is bad communication.

Get creative.

Put your own twist on tried-and-true tropes.

Finish.

A complete story will always win against an incomplete one any day.

Give your readers some closure.

You don’t have to answer every question, but you still have to tie up a few loose ends.

Keep writing.

You won’t write good stories until you write a lot of bad ones.

Writing

I’m Not A Good Novel Writer

I don’t have the patience. I used to once upon a time. But now I can’t seem to write a novel from start to finish.

It’s OK. Maybe I’m not meant to be a novelist. I’m still a writer. For now, I’ll stick to shorter stories and projects.

I’d still like to push and challenge myself. I want to create, so I will.

I’m currently working on a bunch of different things. Hopefully, one pans out.

When I look back at old manuscripts, I realize I’ve come along way. But there’s still a lot further for me to go.

Writing a novel is hard. I have so much respect for those who do.

When I first started, I had no idea what I was getting into. But I’m glad I picked up a pen and filled page after page.

Time would fall away. I could’ve stayed in that moment forever. I didn’t care about money or fame. The voices in my head didn’t stop me from writing. Neither did all the voices of society.

Remember what it was like to write when you were a kid. Think about all the fun you had.

Doubt is crippling. It can stop you from chasing and living your dreams. Don’t let it. You’re better than you think.

What are you scared of? What do you have to lose? Think of everything you stand to gain.

Writing

Advice On Finishing A First Draft

Am I the best person to give advice on finishing a first draft? No. Will that stop me from preaching what I don’t practice? Nope.

Take a break.

For my first novel, I took a long hiatus but eventually got around to finishing it.

Just make sure you actually return to your unfinished manuscript at some point.

Edit or proofread.

Sometimes, I’d rather edit than write. My mood bosses me around.

Again, you can fall into the trap of only editing your half-finished manuscript rather than writing the ending to it. Hopefully, making edits will get so painful that you choose the lesser of two evils.

Talk to someone.

We all need a friend who will listen to our problems.

You don’t even have to talk about writing. Perhaps all you need is a little bit of encouragement.

I wish you the best of luck in finishing your first drafts. It’s not an easy feat, but the feeling is like none other.

If you have any advice, feel free to tell me. I need all the help I can get.

Writing

Jozi Flash 2017 Blog Tour Interview

Welcome to the Jozi Flash 2017 blog tour.

About

It’s not quite the Gummi Bears, but it certainly bounces around a lot.

Jozi Flash 2017 combines the talents of ten brilliant authors with one gifted artist, to bring you a collection of 80 flash fiction stories across eight different genres.

From a children’s story about the folly of summoning dragons, to the horrors held in deliciously treacherous ice cream, the authors take you on journeys that weave fantasy and folklore together alongside practical detectives and everyday tragedy.

With stunning artwork prompts by Nico Venter, these South African authors have created an anthology that will leave you breathless.

Authors and Artist

Ten talented authors and one gifted artist joined forces to create an anthology of flash fiction stories that embody the multicultural melting pot that is South Africa.

For more info on the individual authors, take a look at their author pages here.

International Giveaway

Win free copies of eBooks by three Jozi Flash 2017 authors:

Beneath the Wax by Nthato Morakabi

1723: Constantine Bourgeois is a man of many secrets. Artisan by day, killer by night, he turns his victims into wax figures for his shop.

2045: Richard Baines works for the renowned Anthony Garfield Historical Museum. His mundane existence is a stark counterpoint to his fascination with serial killers and science fiction.

Constantine’s nightmares drive him to undertake a journey to uncover a long-forgotten secret. Richard’s research uncovers a company secret and the mystery of Madame Bourgeois.

Two men, two timelines, and truths that will only be revealed when they look Beneath the Wax

Dim Mirrors by Carin Marais

Dim Mirrors is a collection of 39 flash fiction stories that open windows into worlds of fantasy and nightmare. Interwoven with images from mythology and folklore are the themes of love, loss, and memory. The comical “Not According to Plan” leads to more serious and introspective works like “Blue Ribbons” and “The Destroyer of Worlds”, while mythology and folkloric elements come together in stories like “The Souls of Trees” and “Ariadne’s Freedom”. 

Sketches by Nicolette Stephens

Like art sketches, flash fiction stories are fleeting moments captured in a few hundred words.

In a world without men, the first boy child is welcomed as the saviour of his race; a cuckoo clock holds death and destruction in its beautifully carved figures; and a snowman holds a silent vigil of peace during war.

In this collection of 50 stories, illustrated with her artwork, the author delves into worlds of imagination and reality inspired by words and drawings.

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Click here to enter.

Here’s the full blog tour:

Enjoy the interview questions and answers!

What inspired you to start writing?

  • Elliot P. McGee: I had something to say.
  • Christelle Bloem: I’ve been writing since I was a child and I used to read a lot, inspiring many stories of my own.
  • Carin Marais: Like many, I really started writing after reading The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien and Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books. It was a way for me to work through a very difficult time in my life. I started writing fantasy and then I just never really stopped writing. Most of my writing tends to include some form of fantasy.
  • Candice Burger: I have always loved stories hearing them, reading them and telling them. I loved the worlds that stories could create writing was a way for me to share my worlds.
  • Kim Wainer: To be honest, the world of words has fascinated me ever since I was a kid. I taught myself to read just so that I could have access to that world. It wasn’t a huge leap from there to taking the stories running around in my head and starting to put them down on paper.

What motivates you to keep writing?

  • Elliot P. McGee: I mostly still have something to say.
  • Christelle Bloem: My friends that I write with. Our community keeps inspiring me to write.
  • Carin Marais: There are so many stories that I still want to tell! Also, I think writing might be slightly addictive… I can’t seem to stop.
  • Candice Burger: I have a lot of stories I still want to write as well as encouragement from my friends and family.
  • Kim Wainer: The only consistent dream job I’ve ever had is that of an author. Even now, if I could choose to do anything in the world for a living, it’d be writing fiction. There’s nothing quite like the fizz of a good idea popping into my head (usually when I’m not able to write it down, of course) and then the satisfaction of putting together a good sentence or solving a niggling story problem. One day, I want to be able to touch someone with my writing the way my favourite authors have influenced me – it doesn’t have to be imparting a moral or a life lesson. The sheer comfort that story can offer would be enough for me.

What is your writing process like?

  • Elliot P. McGee: Messy.
  • Christelle Bloem: It usually involves coca-cola and instrumental music. I start writing a new chapter and I usually start with the thoughts of my characters. 
  • Carin Marais: I usually make notes and write general outlines using pen and paper, before I use Scrivener to actually write in. For some flash fiction, I do a few drafts by hand, rewriting the whole thing every time and then making changes in another colour. But it also depends on the amount of time I have for a project. Research happens during the outline stage mostly, although I may find that the story changes while I write and that I need to just write the piece and mark where I need to check my facts or add more detail.
  • Candice Burger: I start with an idea then find my main characters and build from there. From there I just write.
  • Kim Wainer: I usually need music to help me focus, but it’s not a necessity. The honest truth is, you’re not always going to be able to write under the ideal conditions – and sometimes the ideal conditions aren’t enough to get my muse going. A quiet environment without distractions, and a good cup of tea, definitely help things along though.

What’s the best piece of advice someone has given you about writing?

  • Elliot P. McGee: Given or giving, it is to keep writing.
  • Christelle Bloem: Tosca Lee wrote about writer’s block and she said, just write anything, even if it feels like nonsense. Most of the time something good comes from it later.
  • Carin Marais: Just start writing and working on your craft. You can’t dwell on not getting published if you’re not putting in the work first.
  • Candice Burger: Just write don’t worry about spelling or grammar, just write. A first draft is not meant to be perfect.
  • Kim Wainer: Discovering word sprints through NaNoWriMo has been an enormous help. The simple technique of giving yourself a finite target – don’t stop writing until the timer goes off – has helped me to find a story where none existed before, pull characters out of thin air, and write more words even when my muse is being sulky. Also – and I can never remember where I first read this – making things explode is the best way of writing your way out of writer’s block. It doesn’t matter what you’re writing. If something explodes, you have to figure out what it was and why, and your characters have some (possibly literal) fallout to deal with. It’s enough to get things going again and give you the momentum you need to get back on a roll.

What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to an aspiring writer?

  • Christelle Bloem: To write what’s in your heart and not to worry about a recipe that people will buy.
  • Carin Marais: Keep plugging away – your writing and your stories will get better with time. Read a lot and read beyond your genre. Research as much as you can and write what you love.  
  • Candice Burger: Find out what works for you, be open to advice but if it doesn’t work for you move on. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes; you will never learn or grow if you don’t.
  • Kim Wainer: It’s something from an episode of the podcast Writing Excuses: BICHOK – Butt In Chair, Hands On Keyboard. At the end of the day, writing is about writing. Doing it. Setting yourself a time, carving out a space, whatever it takes to get you to get words on the page. The only way to finish is to start, and then keep going. Also, NaNoWriMo is a great way to motivate yourself to write a lot in a short period of time, getting out that messy first draft, as well as building a writing community to sustain you through the rest of the year. Writing can be a lonely profession, but it doesn’t have to be all the time.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

  • Elliot P. McGee: Mostly breathing. I work, I play video games, I see friends.
  • Christelle Bloem: I do so many things I barely get time to write! I am a teacher and I am very involved in my church and I also play Jukskei.
  • Carin Marais: My other hobbies include reading, crochet, knitting and card making. I find that the last three are especially helpful when I need to think a writing problem through. I also can’t have my hands be still while listening to podcasts or watching TV, so I’m usually crocheting or knitting something while I do that. I love listening to podcasts and spend quite a few hours every week following my favourite ones.
  • Candice Burger: I read, watch TV and movies and listen to music.
  • Kim Wainer: I love to bake and I like trying new things in the kitchen – I’ve recently experimented with making ciabatta and panini, and it didn’t all go horribly wrong! It’s a calming kind of creative release that’s very different to my day job (which involves a lot of writing), so it helps me to relax and find balance. Also, desserts are delicious, and if you’re the one baking then you always get to lick the bowl.

How often do you write?

  • Elliot P. McGee: Not often enough.
  • Christelle Bloem: At the moment I write every November for NaNoWriMo at least. I try to write for the two Camps and I also try to write when we have a writing project such as Jozi Flash.
  • Carin Marais: I work on fiction, articles or blog posts basically every day, usually before I start work. Having a job as a copywriter and translator can make it difficult to switch my brain back to fiction-related things in the evenings. It helps that my writing during the day is so different from the fiction I write, though. Which language I write in (i.e. English or Afrikaans) usually depends on the day or the projects I need to finish. I usually switch between two projects – or a project and blog posts – on weekdays and put the focus on one thing for a few hours over weekends.
  • Candice Burger: At least once a week, daily when taking part in NaNoWriMo.
  • Kim Wainer: At my best, I was writing for at least fifteen minutes every morning. A crazy demanding work project knocked that for six but I’m slowly getting my sleep pattern back to normal so that I can build writing back into my routine. I’m also using Camp NaNoWriMo to try and get myself back in the habit of being creative for fun.

If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?

  • Christelle Bloem: I’m a teacher.
  • Carin Marais: That’s a difficult one – folklore, archaeology, palaeontology and botany have always fascinated me. So probably I’d tend towards following one of those professions. (I just get to mash everything together when writing!) 
  • Candice Burger: I would probably find a way to perform.
  • Kim Wainer: A baker, maybe? I don’t really know. I’ve never not been a writer, so I’d feel a bit lost without it. I wouldn’t mind being a university lecturer.

If you could tell your younger self anything, what would it be?

  • Christelle Bloem: To just take that half an hour a day to write something small and also to read a lot more.
  • Carin Marais: It’s going to take longer to get published than you thought, but you’re going to be soooooo thankful that your first writings weren’t published. Because when you look back on them you’ll think they suck.
  • Candice Burger: You are great just the way you are, don’t be so hard on yourself.
  • Kim Wainer: Write more! Finish things! The same things I tell myself now, only doing them earlier so I’d be better at them now. You have to get through a hell of a lot of terrible writing to get to the good stuff, after all.

Why do you love writing?

  • Elliot P. McGee: True power is not only to be able to create but likewise to destroy. Writing allows us to explore so many borders and boundaries we simply do not understand. It is a doorway to the unknown.
  • Christelle Bloem: I love writing because it gives me a voice and is a wonderful way to express my creativity.
  • Carin Marais: I get to experience anything and do anything in a fictional setting. I can go on adventures without worrying about whether or not my various illnesses are going to flare up (yes, they probably will), that I’m going to be stuck in the wild having to eat nuts (to which I’m severely allergic) or starve or that I’m going to run out of my chronic meds (again, this will probably happen). 
  • Candice Burger: Because anything can happen you create a world fill it with characters and before you know it takes a life of its own. It is a way for me to express myself and the way I see my world around me.
  • Kim Wainer: I love the feeling of discovery that comes from winging it, and the electric feeling when the words and the plot just flow out of me. I love being thrilled by a story taking me somewhere that I would never be able to go – maybe that’s why I like the fantasy genre so much. I like the way that writing allows me to explore different facets of being human. Creating characters totally unlike me and then tapping into them through the things we have in common under the surface. That’s what ‘write what you know’ really means. Using your experience to tap into and understand what it might feel like to do or feel something that’s out of reach in reality. When it goes right, it’s magic.

Thank you Rachel for hosting the blog tour. Make sure you follow her if you aren’t already.

Writing

Struggling To Write As Of Late

I’ve been struggling to write as of late. Technically, I’m still writing, but it’s been a grind.

I still love writing. Sometimes I have bad days or bad weeks though.

I’m not sure when I started writing every day. Safe to say, it’s been a long time. No, I don’t always write as much as I want to. But I never want an excuse to get in the way.

Being a writer really is like having homework every night for the rest of your life. I hope I’m still working away decades from now as an old grandma.

When I first decided to make writing a daily habit, I didn’t realize what I was signing up for. I’m only 20 years old. Assuming I live a long time, I have many days ahead of me. Which also means I’ll be writing a lot of words.

Growing up, I wrote without a care in the world. I didn’t think about anything else except putting pen to paper. I wasn’t writing to please other people. I was just having fun.

These days, I think I’ve been making the creative process a lot harder than it needs to be. I’m overthinking before I even make a mark on the page. That’s no way to write.

Here’s to letting go of all the doubts and fears. Just write. Don’t worry so much about the other stuff.

Writing

I Want To Start Freelancing

I want to start freelancing, but I’m not too sure where to begin. I love writing, blogging, and editing.

My major is Book and Media Studies. My minors are English as well as Writing and Rhetoric.

I’ve been blogging for five years and writing for about seven.

So I hope to work with words in some capacity.

I know starting anything is hard, even scary sometimes. I’m sort of starting from scratch. But I’ve gained a bit of experience over the years that I think will be helpful.

As with almost everything, there’s a learning curve. I’ll learn along the way.

I want to keep my eyes and ears open for new opportunities. I’m fond of saying if there isn’t an opportunity, make one yourself. Create your own chances. Because if I’ve learned anything so far, it’s that nothing will fall from the sky and land on your lap.

I like to believe I’ve become more patient over the years. Besides, success doesn’t happen overnight.

I’m on my own unique journey. So I can’t compare myself to people double my age with triple the experience.

In a perfect world, I’d hit the ground running. But it’s OK to start slow. I have my whole life ahead of me. I feel ready. At the very least, I want to set things in motion.

If I realize being a freelancer isn’t for me, that’s fine. I need to figure out what I don’t like in order to find out what I do. So I’m going to give freelancing a go.

I have a feeling I’ll learn a lot about myself along the way. I’m excited and nervous, but I look forward to freelancing in the future.

Writing

Where I Am And Where I’m Going

I’ve been thinking about where I am and where I’m going.

Now might be a good time to reevaluate my goals.

Reading

I vowed to read nonfiction in 2018 and I’ve done that. I haven’t tracked it on GoodReads the same way I do with fiction because I’m lazy. But I feel pleased with how much I’ve been reading lately.

Writing

The fact I write every day is accomplishment enough. But making time to transcribe has fallen by the wayside. At the start of the year, I wanted to produce longer stories. I also hoped to submit my work to contests or journals. This hasn’t happened much. Perhaps I can get that going soon.

Blogging

I’m happy with my blog but not happy at the same time. I guess I’ll never be satisfied with anything. Content isn’t in my vocabulary. Neither is mediocre. Sometimes I don’t know what I want out of blogging. The numbers aren’t a big deal. My goal is to create content that makes me content.

Dancing

Dance is something I do for myself, and I love it too much to stop. I’m happy with the strides I’ve made this year. I plan to keep dancing until I can’t.

All the best with where you are and where you’re going.