During July I was a guest on Indulge in Writing, a new online group for writers at all stages in their careers. Indulge in Writing is run by Sharon Thompson, author of The Abandoned, which launched at #1 in Kindle Irish Crime Fiction earlier this year and she has been signed for a further two crime novels. Sharon is also the co-founder of #WritersWise, a trending, fortnightly, promotional tweet-chat, that I highly recommend writers taking part in. I was invited to speak about writing in general and give a few tips and thoughts on the process.
I have to be honest- my first reaction to this lovely invitation was no. I quickly realised, with the minimal amount of arm twisting from Sharon, that this is the exact situation I encourage other people to engage with. I actively try to say yes to more things as I think it helps to open up more doors but it can be tricky trying to get the balance right. In this instance the decision really wasn’t that hard to make; I know and respect Sharon and had no doubt that anything she involved in will be well run. The instant no had been a theme in my life, mostly out of fear, and I know I’m not in alone in that. It stems from the dreaded imposter syndrome: what if I make a mess of it / what if I’m not good enough / what if they find me out? Saying no feels like the logical step in such a doubtful situation but the doubt is usually unfounded and therefore not the right response. I’ve also learnt the hard way that the fear of doing something is totally eclipsed by the regret of nothing doing it.
Needless to say the Indulge in Writing webinar/chat went well. It was a fun and enjoyable hour online where I got to share what I feel works from a writing perspective, as well as a few tips from a creative writing course I’ve run in the past. Not only that but I picked up some great hints and links to other resources that I didn’t know about. This is what happens when likeminded writers get together to discuss their work (and other things) in a positive and support environment. The hive mentality takes over and the outcome is greater than the sum of its parts. Groups like this also help to deconstruct many of the barriers that we have built around ourselves and our writing. Most of us are in the same boat and once we recognise that we are in a better position to help each and ultimately ourselves.
Saying yes to more things is a good choice to make. It doesn’t mean saying yes to everything and it doesn’t mean you get taken advantage of (though you do need to have some boundaries in place and only do what’s right for you). The paradox is that for everything you say yes to, you’re effectively saying no to something else. That said, I believe it’s better to live in a world of yeses than one of nos. If saying no has become an automatic then it’s time to challenge that and explore why that is. There may be some very good reasons but if the main ones, like mine, stem from fear of failure then it’s time to address that fear.
One of the best ways of overcoming that fear is to simply say yes and do whatever it is that you’re fearful of. Like most things, it’s usually worse in our minds than it is in reality as we tend to catastrophise things. Chances are whatever it is it’ll turn out okay and it might even be enjoyable or the start of something new. That has certainly been my experience to date. As Susan Jeffers wrote: feel the fear and do it anyway. It’s not easy but it gets easier and the first step is always the hardest. It doesn’t have to be something big, even just a yes to a coffee with a friend that you’ve put on the long finger. Small steps lead to strides. Pretty soon, we’ll be running.