#FolkloreThursday, behind the scenes of writing, focus, JK Rowling, Kristen Lamb, Muse, my writing, Publishing, Rachel Thompson, Ronel Janse van Vuuren, Stories on Scrolls, Theresa Barker, Wattpad, Writer to Writer, Writer's Gambit, writing, writing update
When I planned what I’ll be publishing on the blog this month, a writing update didn’t form part of it. Mostly because I didn’t feel like I’ve accomplished much since I’ve set out my goals in January.
But then I realised that I wasn’t being too kind to myself, I wasn’t celebrating the small stuff, and I wasn’t appreciating every moment.
I planned to publish a short story about Faerie today, but I pushed it to somewhere in June (it’ll pick up where my A-Z stories about Faerie stopped).
Theresa Barker started another one of her brilliant projects at the beginning of May and I decided to join in. #productivewriter
The point, at the beginning, was to stop having zero days.
At first I was stymied. I write every day. Yet my rewriting of my trilogy doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Maybe because I don’t like tearing a story apart and reworking it…
So my “write every day” was specifically aimed at my trilogy. Sure, I had other things I had to write too (like my awesome Tulips of Death and Life I wrote for the Fantasy Community prompt on Wattpad) and we all have admin duties and other things we have to do in a day. I took it slow. I didn’t want burnout (I’m still recovering, hey it took a long time to get to the edge and it’ll take a long time to get back to a healthy place) to take control again.
But I did it. I figured out the dual timelines (very important when you write about ancient curses… Whoops! Shouldn’t have told you that!), the problem I’ve been having with the various love-interests got resolved, something weird about how I wanted to change the titles to match the new themes of the trilogy jumped out at me, and all the folklore finally fell into place for the story.
I even have secret story boards for everything on Pinterest.
Now to other writing stuff:
In the last couple of months, I’ve learned how to do interviews. I had one with two lovely authors about Patreon in February (you can read Carin and Misha’s thoughts on the platform here) and another with most of the authors of the Hero Lost anthology at the beginning of May (you can get a sneak peek into the minds of the authors of the Mysteries of Death and Life here). And next week there’ll be another interview on the blog!
In April I had a guest post on the Writer’s Gambit about genre. It was so great of Juneta to host me.
And in May I had a guest post on the Folklore Thursday website about the folklore of zombies. Zombies: Through Folklore, Film and Fiction. Quite a heady experience writing about those fearing being enthralled forever.
And I had another guest post published in May on Writer to Writer: The Art of Writing Explained. I had 26 likes by the time it was live for twelve hours…
Two of my Afrikaans stories were published in an anthology by INK. (We’ll talk about that in a different post, but check it out on my Accolades page.)
And I found out something about the Cinderella-anthology-project that makes me giddy with happiness… Though I’ll share all the details nearer to publication of the e-zine and anthology.
I’ve investigated a couple of tools for writers and now I know what will work for me and what won’t.
I learned what it takes to give a good critique.
I’ve figured out that it takes a lot of writing to become a good writer.
I now know how to optimise Twitter by using various features, including TweetDeck.
I learned what the Perks of Patreon are through the experiences of two writer-friends.
Though Patreon looks amazing, though my writing friends find it beneficial, though everything I know says I should join up, I have this awful pit in my stomach each time I think about doing it. So instead of making myself sick trying to do everything, I’ll put the folder on Patreon on the “Maybe” pile to revisit on a later date.
Book Genre Jargon became a lot clearer.
And got rewritten as a guest post (as mentioned above).
I wondered whether having a blog is really such a good idea for an author and realised that it is.
I had an amazing time reworking a story and finding that spark that fuels writing about Faerie.
I did the A-Z Challenge – I survived the A-Z Challenge – and made a lot of new writing-friends.
I was nominated for another Liebster blog award – it always makes one feel “hey, I’m doing this thing right”. And another! I got nominated for the Mystery Blogger award twice.
I shared my tips on using Wattpad, after realising that I do actually know what I’m doing on that platform.
Oh… and I realised that even though I like to join groups for the long haul, it isn’t always possible. And when things go in a direction that I don’t agree with, I have to cut all ties.
I started a couple of new Wattpad projects.
All my flash fiction that I publish on Tuesdays on the blog is now available on Wattpad. (I update it weekly.)
I’ve also started a new Origin of the Fae book on Wattpad. Basically it’s just the Origin of the Fae page here on the blog divided into chapters for each Fae. It makes it easier to share on Pinterest – where I’m creating a board about the origin and folklore of each creature.
The new Wattpad projects is a nice way to showcase things from the blog on another platform. And doing so has actually been good for blog too – more traffic has been sent to Ronel the Mythmaker because of the new projects.
Part of my new projects on Wattpad is to translate the Tales of the Onyx Labyrinth into Afrikaans. With just one chapter, Verhale van die Oniks Labirint became #1 in Fantasy for over a week.
I’ve also started to blog about the world of the Onyx Labyrinth – the first posts appeared in April as I tried a bit of world-building. It paid off: people found out about my project and followed me on Wattpad because they actually like the story.
I’m planning on doing at least one world-building post a month.
Wow, I’ve been busy!
And that with taking weekends off. *Gasp!* It’s actually good for me and makes me more productive during the week. Taking care of me and not working a million hours a week really pays off.
I did look into that with Loafing is Lekker and A Writer’s Zen during the A-Z…
Mmm… I thought I’d done more. *shrugs* I did send stories to lit mags, competitions and other venues – I should take a look if I’ve gotten any replies (apart from a very nice personal letter from the editor of a magazine about a story I’d sent them – personalised letters are sooo much better than form rejections).
You might be asking how I was able to do this in such a short time, burnout and all. (Please stop yammering on about burnout, Ronel! We get it. Writers overwork themselves and just keep on doing it without complaint.)
Easy: I read on Rachel Thompson’s blog that her watchword for the year is FOCUS. I even followed her Pinterest board dedicated to this. And whenever that awful anxiety wants to cripple me and stop me from being awesome, I just think: focus.
Not the language I usually use on the blog, but putting it into flowery words won’t have the same effect.
I also finally caught up on all of my favourite blogs. I read on Kristen Lamb’s blog that the secret to success is to get rid of everything that damages the Muse. Guarding the Muse’s energy is the single largest secret to success. Not that I loaded all the emotional vampires and the to-do lists of things not relating to my writing onto a truck and sent them to Namibia or somewhere equally arid, I just prioritised. No, I cannot quickly go for coffee at eleven – I’m working. No, I cannot supervise the plumbers at an unknown time in the day – make an appointment, I’m working.
Though I had to endure a few grumbles, pleas and angry glares, I got through it. Setting boundaries is difficult for most writers I know, I’m no exception, but not being constantly interrupted while writing means that I can stay in the zone and write everything I need to.
Now the only alarms are set for when I have to take a lunch break… or take a walk.
How do you stay focused on your writing? What have you accomplished in the last couple of months? Do you forget to celebrate accomplishments – no matter how big or small? Are you a productive writer?
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Anne J. said:
Oh wow! You ARE a machine! Burnout and all! 😉 I can only hope to do what you have done so far. I am working on it. I do have to be excused because not only do I do ‘Accounting’ (Finance and Operations) Monday to Friday, I have a boss who thinks I can also do this work thing during ‘my time’!
Sometimes though, I just suck at discipline and I go to Sandton City… or Fourways Mall… or Montecasino. Haha! And there’s Pokemon Go and Netflix. Darn it! I have a lot to work on. So, yes, you are awesome!!!
Which reminds me, I should try and visit Wattpad at least once a week. I love that Twisted Tales Flash Fiction you’ve got going. The cover looks fabulous! I will be heading over to your Wattpad this week and devouring your flash fiction. You are my inspiration for mine!
And talking about Flash Fiction, I missed CFF this past Saturday. I saw it late and I thought I still could do something but I fell asleep thinking about “You better scrape it off before…” and I woke up 30 minutes after midnight California time. Dang!
BUT, it’s end of May and we are now compiling the final drafts!!! Yay! I owe Theresa responses to emails. Darned Sandton City yesterday. Tomorrow. Then we have updates to all you wonderful authors! 🙂
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Thanks, Anne 🙂 It took years to perfect this machine and get the type of results of the last five months. Saying yes does help 😉
I like to think of prompts like geometry: either you see the solution or you don’t. (I got the geometry tip from my godmother who was a maths professor – thankfully I don’t have to worry about not seeing the shape in all those weird lines anymore. Though seeing a story in a jungle of words might be the same…)
Can’t wait for the update 😉
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Anne J. said:
Ah, habits become us. I will keep practicing and I will not give up. 🙂 This year is great for me especially with Cinderella, and it’s only the beginning. Lots of love and hugs. xxx
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Wow, productive is the correct word.
Okay, I’d love to hear about the process you went through to learn all that stuff so I can follow in your footsteps cause I like where you are going. Besides, I am speculative fiction author too and like writing fantasy and sci-fi fantasy,
Hey, I’d even host another post if you’d like to put something out there. I can pick or you can pick because I know you got good-taste in fiction and the process cause…ah.. like… I’m your fan now.
We can also wait until you feel less burned out because you are always welcome in on my blog. We could even do a spotlight about your fiction release and other writings. You got my email, so tell me what you think. It is okay if you would rather say No too, I get it.
‘ Juneta @ Writer’s Gambit
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Thanks, Juneta, it means a lot 🙂 Once I hear back about the other anthology release, I’ll send you an article about anthologies and how they’re good for exposure and author branding.
As for the process… I jump in at the deep end, read all the helpful articles on the subject I can find (from Joanna Penn, Jane Friedman, Anne R Allen, KM Weiland, Kristen Lamb and others), figure out what works for me and what doesn’t, and then I share what I keep from their wisdom and my experience on the blog. I firmly believe that we learn best when we experience something ourselves, because what works for one person won’t necessarily work for another.
I have read all those you named for years now apparently I have trouble breaking down what really works for me the way you do. I tend to confuse and overwhelm myself.
You can add to those you listed you read, Dean Wesley Smith and his wife, Johnny Truant, and the gang, Mark Dawson, Nick Stephenson, Bryan Cohen, Holly Lisle, K. M. Weiland, The Novel Project blog, plus tons of books about the craft. I’m also leaving some good names out but those first popped into my head.
Yeah, I know they are becoming my distraction rather than my tool.
Yes I have some stories to show for my efforts and my blog, but for what I read, courses I’ve taken and podcast I know tons, yet putting it to productivity in a REAL sense eludes me.
I guess I am getting better. Maybe I should start assessing my work the way you did here. I just need to complete a rough draft on several book stories and anthologies ideas, so I have something to work with and finish it.
I have not been brave enough to write like you do on Wattpad or blog a story on my blog or in my newsletter live are in parts, although maybe I should just stare fear down and just do it. But you know, that is not totally true I am doing a series of shorts for Storytime Blog Hop that connected and related to my planned book series, so that was not a true statement.
Anyway, look forward to hearing from you and hosting you on my blog again.
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I know what you mean about them becoming a distraction rather than a tool – I find myself over analysing every piece of writing instead of realising that sometimes what comes naturally has a very big and complicated definition that I’ve never heard of. *sigh*
I think we all have this fear of having others read our work, judging our babies and not liking us. I pretend that I don’t care what people think of my writing – sometimes I even fool myself. And that’s enough to give me the courage to publish some of my work online. I drown the fear that follows with more writing…
Debbie Johansson said:
Wow! Congratulations, you really have been busy!
You’re right about celebrating the small things though. Since my surgery in January, writing took a backseat as recovery took longer than I had anticipated. Thankfully, I’m much better now and getting my writing back on track. I’ve done three social media classes and a class on characterisation with Kristen Lamb, gradually got back into working on my blog once again, re-worked some short stories after having been beta read and submitted one for an anthology.
So far, I’m going by the rule ‘slow and steady wins the race’. I need to take a page out of Rachel’s book and focus, by coming up with a plan for the next six months. Hopefully things will get better now. Thanks for the inspiration!
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Thanks, Debbie 🙂 I love Kristen’s blog, I always learn something new there. The class you took must’ve been great.
I’m glad your health is better now – it’s not easy to write when we’re not well. ‘slow and steady wins the race’ reminds me of the Tortoise and the Hare – my favourite from Aesop’s fables with a great lesson. Probably a good rule to follow for the next couple of months… if I can actually be kind enough to do so 😉
All the best for your writing.
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Ronel! “But then I realised that I wasn’t being too kind to myself, I wasn’t celebrating the small stuff…” – Yay! I LOVE that you made the choice to be kind to yourself in taking a moment to recognize everything you’ve done. You and I are, I think, ultra-productive and perhaps not used to recognizing the work we’ve done. Kudos!
I was also impressed by your observation: “Though Patreon looks amazing, though my writing friends find it beneficial, though everything I know says I should join up, I have this awful pit in my stomach each time I think about doing it.” – Yes. I love, again, that you are not rushing into Patreon, that you are paying attention to how you feel about it and making sure what you put time into is authentic for you.
As an aside, I am still considering Wattpad in the same way, that is, I have read it’s really best treated as another social media site, and right now I’m not sure I have the bandwidth to invest time that direction. However, I’m leaning toward joining Wattpad and starting by following your work, and that of a couple of other friends on the platform. Baby steps!
Kudos again! Love hearing about this progress!
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Thanks, Theresa 🙂
When I joined Wattpad, I started by using it as an online portfolio and then gently got into the habit of reading/commenting on the work of others. I heard recently you can juggle anything if you start small – two balls and then add one at a time 😉
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