Lisa Manifold

Writing From the Top of the Street

Tag: clutter

The Evil Voice Within

We all have it. None of us want it. What do we do with it? (A little Buffet-inspired intro to start your read here.)

One of the things I’ve been chatting with other authors recently about is that dreaded Voice Within. Or as I call it, the Evil Voice Within. You know it. The one that takes your self-doubt, insecurity, worry, fear, whatever that go-to negative emotion is, and makes it a fire-breathing dragon.

A real, live dragon, who’s in a bad mood, snarky, and rampaging around in your head. dragon

I want to evict the %)^$@^&%, but he always finds his way back.

Why is that? We’re doing something amazing. Contrary to popular belief, not everyone can write a book. Most of us can start, and get part way through, but finishing the thing? That’s a feat. I should know. My thumb drives are littered with sizable works that are not done. Writing it is only the first part of the whole thing.

Then, one must finish it. After it’s finished, you really need to read the thing again. For content. To see if it’s something you want to let out into the world. To see if you need to take your hacksaw and weed-wacker and do shaping and pruning. To see if you love it when you read it, or if you cringe. Hint: If you cringe, you don’t need to trash it. You may need to just leave it for a bit, and then come back and do some revising.

All along the way of the aforementioned journey, you have to listen to Mr. Snarky Dragon. Telling you all his stuff and nonsense, tossing in his one liners when you’re least expecting it.

So how to get around him? Everyone, no matter what you do, occasionally comes up against that dragon. I think authors have a particularly assy dragon, but I’m willing to admit possessing a bias.

Here’s how you do it. You ignore it. Tell it to )%$^#%^ off. Go read a good review. Go look at your latest craft book (folks, you need to be reading them. I am the worst about actually doing it, and now that I have, I am kicking myself for dragging my feet before).

Plan out your next marketing campaign. Then go and visit the social media of your author friends. Talk about their awesome cover, or let them know what you loved about their book. Discuss ways to market, talk about how to ramp up something for the holidays.

See where I’m going with this?

Own that you occasionally give Snark Dragon space in your head, and then move on. Know that you can and will be successful, and it will probably take some time. It’s also going to take work. Hard work. Sadly, I’ve yet to meet any authors who have that lovely cabana boy offering them grapes with nimble fingers and an adoring gaze. Or if they do have one, they’re being verrrrry low-key about the whole thing.

poolboy

We can all aspire to a pool boy, so to speak. We just need to get our minds around it.

But Lisa, you cry. I love me a good Ryan meme, but that’s a meme! I see no Ryan, nor any grapes! And certainly not peeled grapes.

Here’s what I do:

If I’m frustrated with a particular work, I walk away from it. I leave it to simmer on its own, and I go do something else. At this exact moment, I have a WIP I’m writing, another WIP I work on when I’m tired of WIP #1, and I am outlining a new series. So if I get caught up and stuck, I have something else to do. Not everyone can work on more than one project at a time, so if you can’t, get out of your chair, and go for a walk. Take the dog. Go look at nature. Hang out with your kids. If you feel you MUST be doing something, get a digital recorder, and talk out your story issues. Sounds silly, but it works. I also find if I’m stuck, a long shower helps. I think a lot in the shower. It’s relaxing.

If I find that my book sales are not where I want them, I go and look at what others in my genre are doing. Not to give SD ammo, but I want to see if they’re doing something I’m not, and ought to be. I am an avid reader of promo threads – forum threads where people write up their marketing plan for a set period of time, and then report on it. Reading the successes and challenges of others not only gives me ideas, but it reminds me I’m not alone on this journey. That’s important for us.

I said it earlier, but go read a craft book. I am a dedicated pantser. I don’t like to plot – or at least, I didn’t think I did. However, I’m reading a lot about increasing your output, and all the people I see who are doing it right, and creating success are doing so while using some pre-writing organization. So it’s worth considering, in my opinion. It can help you to get out of the corners we sometimes paint ourselves into.

Finally, I realize that no matter how much I love this career, I’m going to have some off days. That there are going to be times when it’s just going to be sucky. I am more thin-skinned than I ever realized, but putting myself out there as an author is forcing me to toughen up. To know that I am doing the best I can, that I don’t see this as a scheme, but as a long term career where I wish to put out commercial quality content for essentially the rest of my life. And that the one day where Snarky Dragon gets free range head space with me – it’s ONE DAY.

So kick your dragon back to his cave, and know that you’re on the right path. Even if it turns out not to be the right path in the long run – that’s the beauty of being a writer, and an indie writer in particular. We can change. We can shift focus. We can adapt.

And we will succeed.

Now go write.

Organization!!!!

I’ve been so busy with writing that not having a looming deadline has left me sort of at odds.

I’ve caught up on sleep. My house (see previous posts, LOL) is now clean. Organized…not so much.

I am one of those people who gets overwhelmed with trying to get organized. Lord, the paper piles in my clutter ‘Hot Spots’. Like many of us, I look at the clutter, and go, “Well, dang. What am I gonna do with this mess?” I consider where to start, and then get depressed just thinking about it, and go and watch a Jane Austen. I feel marginally better, because Hey, at least I considered it, right?

This means I have what my Dear Husband calls the Corner of Hell in our kitchen. It’s where paperwork goes to die. The kids have a Corner of Hell with their things – because I don’t insist on getting rid of stuff (my poor kiddos – I already see some pack ratting in them). I cannot even begin to discuss my closet and dressers. Yes, I have three dressers. They’re not all the same size – but one really doesn’t need three of them.

I was bemoaning this earlier in the year to some of the ladies in my Tuesday critique group. I think clutter is a universal language. Recently, one of the ladies shared what has become a solution for her.  It’s this.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00KK0PICK/ref=kinw_myk_ro_title

The whole idea is to only keep things that bring you joy.

That idea is thrilling to me. One of the things I’ve struggled with over the years is that the act of acquisition is fun for me. Particularly if I can get it for a bargain. Lord-a-mercy, I love a bargain. For a long time, I didn’t bother to look and see if I NEEDED it. I paid attention to the fact that I wanted it, or thought I did. That meant I ended up with a lot of STUFF.

Home decor is a prime example of this. I have specific things I like to have in my home. I search them out, and the hunt is as fun as having them in the home. But I don’t have enough wall or display space for all the things I have. So I have begun to pare down my decor. It’s really HARD. I also bought two more display cases, but I’m not going to chastise myself over that. It organizes things, right? And with more space, it will allow for the things I have to be more readily enjoyed, right? LOL. I am actually moving one case down into my office, thus freeing up space for enjoyment in more places in the home.

I digress. Back to the book, and the premise behind it. Several of the ladies in my group have started working through their clutter hell based on this book. They report a high level of success so far. They also report that they feel better. Lighter.

I have company coming in two weeks. I want my house to show to the best advantage. So I am going to be employing the techniques listed in the book, and working through my areas of embarrassment.

I will keep you all updated on how it goes.

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