Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Building Self Esteem As a Writer - Essential To Finshing the Damn Book!

Awhile back I purchased a book by Victoria Lynn Schmidt titled Book in a Month and perused the first few chapters numerous times but kept putting it down knowing it wasn’t the right time for me to put it into practice.

I’ve participated in NaNo before and failed. Twice. What made me then think to buy this book and even considering using it? All I can say in my defense is that I’m inspired by how this book takes you step by step through the process. Every day has an assignment to complete. Complete the assignment each day for 30 days and at the end you should have one hell of a fast draft. I’m really excited to actually try using this process.

But I don’t want to focus on the book or 30 day fast draft process today. I want to focus on something the author mentions needing to examine before you can really start out on your writing journey. According to her there are five secrets to successfully completing her plan and writing a book in a month. Today I want to focus on number four – Examining Your Self Esteem.

*I can envision Chance and Bo’Sun nodding their heads as they read that. Yes, pirates I have an issue with self-esteem of the writing kind and I’m here today to admit it publicly.*

The line that really stood out to me from Mrs. Schmidt’s section on this was, “Self-esteem means you can say to yourself “I matter, and so do my goals.”

She then lists some statements that if you agree with more than a few you need to work on your self-esteem. Here are a few I found myself identifying with:

  • I constantly blame myself for not writing enough, even if it’s not my fault

  • I make excuses for my work before I show it or read it out loud. (“This is a draft; I’m not finished with this scene yet.”)

  • I’m reluctant to set and announce my writing goals for feat that I won’t attain them

  • I’m filled with big writing dreams and goals, but just can’t get started or follow through

The list goes on, but those are the ones that really had me thinking. She suggests overcoming self-esteem issues by identifying your strengths and not allowing yourself or anyone else to criticize you (especially during a rough or fast draft).

Do you think you might suffer from a little writing self-esteem issue? I suspect I'm not the only one who identified with those statements above. I know how much Chance loves it when we feed our inner critics to the Kraken so feel free to envision throwing those damn issues overboard.

Today instead of listing our issues I want to work on our self-esteem by talking about our strengths and successes as writers. Don’t be shy. I want to hear it all including that poem you wrote in fourth grade or even a blog post you felt great about how well it was received. This is the time and place for signing your own praises! Every single strength and success counts and brings you closer to becoming the writer you want to be.

I’m officially creating a Pirates cheerleading squad today – Chance we need some drinks to celebrate! (And yes, you all must have pom poms and do the cheers – no excuses!)


Scapegoat said...

Morning crew!

Ill start us out with one from me - in college i wrote a thesis my professor loved so much she sent it to a professional organization as an entry to present at thier national conference. It was accepted and i was 1 of only 3 students nationwide to present thier work.


Ill share more later as they come to me. Lets hear yours!

Hellion said...

Hi Scapey!

This is a masterful blog! I'm so glad you wrote this! I've been talking to Bo'sun about this very topic--well, in the sense that "Why do we pirates always talk about our writing problems, but never talk about what we do right in our writing? I mean we've got to be doing SOMETHING RIGHT, right?" and Bo'sun agreed.

And now you wrote about it! BRILLIANT! I'm so happy to see this blog!

As for me, yes, I have this exact book (and I love her book STORY STRUCTURE as well as her MASTER CHARACTERS (which I also think she did!). And yes, I identify exactly with the self-esteem issues you mentioned. In fact, I groaned at the prefacing your writing with, "It's rough. It's not finished." I. DO. THAT. ALL. THE. TIME.

So yes, I have issues.

But I also have strengths. I think I am usually very good at writing deep point of view with my characters, and not always because I write in first person. I can usually do deep point of view in 3rd person. I think deep point of view pulls you into the story more effectively than other points of view and makes you more sympathetic with the story and the characters.

I love to be funny and write ironic statements for dramatic effect. I love to write my men manly but chatty; and my women sarcastic, but loving. I love giving my secondary characters the best lines in my books. I love writing about second chances and redemption and succeeding after great failure. I also love forgiveness and fairness. I love to be inspired by my favorite movies.

I have several blogs I've been proud of, but my favorite two are the one about A Market for Baby Alligators and The Writer's Compass: Writing for the Directionally Challenged. In fact, the Bosun and I will be presenting an online class as part of the Lowcountry RWA chapter (is it their chapter??) talking about this blog, expanded to go into each direction more thoroughly about character, conflict, tension, and "The End." I'm excited and nauseous at this opportunity.

I have finished two manuscripts so far; and I'm getting further in my current one--so that's exciting to me. I'm more excited about it, at any rate, and more positive. Several years ago, I did win a contest where I placed first for a manuscript I hadn't finished--but got a request for it. (This is why now I won't enter contests without finished manuscripts. I mean, they probably would have still turned it down, but it taught me a lesson about NOT BEING PREPARED. What if they say YES?) And a long time ago when I was in high school, my writing helped me win a trip to visit Washington D.C., which was one of my favorite trips. Gorgeous place--and love the museums. Writing can bring wonderful opportunities to you.

Scapegoat said...

Did I scare everyone else away with the pom pom and cheerleading talk today? :)

There's still Rum!

Scapegoat said...

AWESOME Hellion!

I'm so glad you like the topic today and those are some amazing successes!

Not a lot of people can write deep 3rd well naturally so that's awesome.

This is what I wish I could claim I did well - "I love to write my men manly but chatty; and my women sarcastic, but loving. I love giving my secondary characters the best lines in my books."

Sigh - so much awesomeness you have going on there Hellie.

We want to hear more about your online class too!

Hellion said...

Bo'sun's off being drilled right now, but she should show up this afternoon at the latest.

As for the other lazy layabouts, I'm not sure where they are, but I don't think you've scared them off. I think the majority don't know what today is. I'll see if I can scare some around.

Hellion said...

I'm not sure if it's natural, but I do recommend writing as if you were Method Acting. Putting yourself in the character's shoes. Fortunately my characters are very sarcastic and have inner monologue one-liners that feels like deep POV. *LOL*

As for the class, you will be hearing more about it because I plan to try it out on the Ship first to see if it would work for the class. So I'm hoping for feedback. And participation.

Marnee Bailey said...

I'm sorry I'm late, girls!

Let's see.... I remember when I was in sixth grade. My teacher was really into creative writing. She had us pick an inanimate object and write about it. I chose my pencil and I went on about how it sucks to be a pencil, because people sharpen you, chew on your end, and then rub your head against paper until you're dull. It was first person (prob some of the only 1st POV I've ever written, LOL!).

She loved it. She stood and read it outloud to the entire class. I think that's when I got hooked on writing for others. That feeling, of writing something that made others think or laugh, it was intoxicating.

Great blog, Scape! Sorry it took so long for me to get here.

Hellion said...

Marn, I love when my stuff is read aloud in class! You're right, that sort of validation is ADDICTIVE! I've had that happen a few time while I was in school and it's another reason why I love writing so much. The thought of resonating with other people. I love being right... *LOL*

Sin said...

'ello Scapey! Such a wonderfully put together blog today! Sorry I've not been around. I'm on a time crunch.

I'm having a hard time articulating myself lately. All these numbers and tax rules are messing with my creative mojo. I've not even been motivated to write a single word outside of work. And that really saddens me. I need to ditch the day job. But I say that every year.

Hm. What I'm good at? I'd like to think I'm really good at writing first person POV. And understanding the depth of my characters while I'm writing them.

As for moments when I thought my writing was good enough- I won a contest my junior year in high school that sent me with a group of other juniors (17 Y/Os) to Washington DC for a week. I did this because I knew boys would be involved. Hot boys with southern accents, trapped in an elevator with nothing to do but bribe a sweet innocent 17 Y/O Missouri girl into giving them something for their peach.

Those were good times. The trip was worth it just for that. The painstaking, creatively intensive, nerve wracking time I spent on perfecting every word just to see my English teacher light up just a spark when I handed it in for review. She was an exceedingly hard person to impress and never pleased about anything. But she made me a better writer even though I didn't realize it at the time.

Or when I open my inbox in the morning to realize someone's left me a review of my fan fiction writing. The effort I put into writing the characters someone has created for my reading enjoyment makes me happy (on occasion and frustrates me 98% of the other time). But to read a review where the reader says I captured personalities perfectly or I write them as good as the original author. I dunno. Something about that brings me joy. That maybe I'm a decent enough writer. Maybe my writing is growing in ways I can't see or feel.

Scapegoat said...

Marn - I love that story. The question is do you ever go back and read it? I think it would be a great self-esteem boost and reconnect you with that feeling of why you love to write.

Maybe next time you are having a hard time with a WIP you can pull that out and spend some time with it. :)

Scapegoat said...

Sin - I don't envy you this time of year!

I love how we all have writing stories from our youth - it really is something we were driven to do from an early age!

Getting a fan email has to be awesome! I know when I have someone email or tweet me about a blog post I did on my *other* blog it makes my day and validates the time I put into it.

I want my writing, even if it is a blog post, to resonate as Hellie wrote. And that doens't always mean deep feelings - sometimes humor, sadness, and inspiration too!

Sin said...

YAY!! Hal! So freakin awesome! Congrats!

hal said...

Awesome blog, Scape!!

Well, when it comes to singing my own praises . . . . I GRADUATE TODAY!!! My official MFA in Writing Popular Fiction will be complete at 3:15. Woo hoo!!!!

Scapegoat said...

I've been trying to take a look at my current writing to see my strengths and I know I'm expectional with 1 sentence summaries and book blurbs because marketing copy is part of what I do for a living. So I hope I'm good at it!

I do believe I'm REALLY good at troubleshooting plot holes and flushing out plot ideas. Part of that is my organziational bug. Outlines and summaries oh my!

But those are great tools to have for a writer so I'm so glad I feel confident in them.

OH! I forgot! In the 2010 So You Think You Can Write Harlequin contest I was the top vote getting 1st chapter for a whole day! Those damn roses were crazy but I did capture a screen shot of fellow writers and readers saying they really enjoyed my 1st chapter.

I didn't even make it to the 2nd round of that contest, but that was the 1st time I'd ever shared any of my current work with anyone so it felt great to get the feedback!

Scapegoat said...

Holy Cow Hal!!!! Congrats!

A HUGE tankard of rum just went flying down the bar to you! (Chance won't mind me playing bartender for a few minutes) And drinks all around to everyone for a big cheers!

Get out there and celebrate afterwards. So amazing and great job.

Hellion said...

Awesome, Hal! Congratulations!!! We need to have a PARTY!!!

Hellion said...

Scape, I love how diverse the Pirates are. Put us all together and we could write the BEST BOOK EVER! *LOL*

Hellion said...

Sin, that teacher was the BEST TEACHER. She still is! And that was the best trip, wasn't it? Though you enjoyed other aspects than I enjoyed. *LOL*

And fan mail from fans? That would be the best! I get those occasionally...for blogs though, not fan fiction or actual manuscripts I write. :)

Bosun said...

CONGRATULATIONS HAL!!!! That is AMAZING!! Is the graduation in Pittsburgh?! (I could send my family to attend on my behalf. LOL!)

Bosun said...

Sorry I'm late. Yes, I was off getting a cavity drilled and filled (which is much less interesting than how what Hellie said made it sound *sigh*) and before that the girls got their annual squishing. It's been a fun morning (NOT) and I still can't feel the right side of my face.

This is an AWESOME blog. We've had the black pom poms on the ship for a while now (I'm picturing those cheerleaders from the Nirvana video) but they needed a dusting off. *shakes pom poms* *sneezes*

Damn it.

I LOVED writing in school. And if the teacher praised it and let me read it aloud? HEAVEN. This even happened in college (the first time.) One time in 7th grade we had to make up a mystery and we held a mock trial. I was either the defense lawyer or the prosecutor, I can't remember which, but that meant I got to create our half of the story. I went full out and did objections and everything.

My side lost (we were robbed!) and I was so miffed at the teacher I wrote a story the next week that involved someone's (maybe a teacher's *cough*) car getting blown up. NOT that I was threatening the teacher, but I was miffed. And she knew exactly what I was doing and commended me on the story with a little wink. LOL!

I don't have any of these old stories, but I think I still have my first ever try at writing a Romance novel. I must have been 20 or 21 and wrote it in a journal. It was a Western with a female gambler out to avenge her father's death when she meets the hero (also a gambler) and he has to help her out of a sticky situation. I think she had a gun in her garter.

I need to find that story and see if I can turn it into something...

Don't remind me of the class. I still need to write my lessons. AND I haven't begun to read these GH entried! Gah! Add in revisions AND a new puppy and I'm ready to run away.

Oh wait, we were being positive...

2nd Chance said...

*puff! *puff! *puff!

Or is that huff? Sorry, I'm late. I keep forgetting what day it is!

Great blog, Scape! I love having someong else throw the pat on the back parties! I've been a bit off kilter for a few months but I'm getting my mojo back!

Wow, I remember poetry. I wrote poetry that was read in front of class. Was even published in a local journal... I was made editor of the little mimeographed 'paper' we gave out in 7th and 8th grades. Eventually I was editor of my high school paper!

Not sure that was about writing skills or bossy skills... ;-)

I signed six contracts last year, have five books out and a sixth will be released on the 3rd... Rah, rah for me!

What I do best? Create worlds, put them in danger and fashion h/h who can get them out of it. ;-)

And big congrats HAL!

I'm gonna break out the good stuff... Champagne! (Yes, Jack, I still gots champagne and no, there ain't enough fer another bath. Go. Away.)

Hellion said...

My side lost (we were robbed!) and I was so miffed at the teacher I wrote a story the next week that involved someone’s (maybe a teacher’s *cough*) car getting blown up. NOT that I was threatening the teacher, but I was miffed. And she knew exactly what I was doing and commended me on the story with a little wink. LOL!

Seriously need to get you the t-shirt that says, "Careful or you'll be a dead body in my next book." *LOL*

Hellion said...

You didn't allow me to hyperventilate about the class last week when I was hyperventilating...so you don't get to either.

And the puppy is all you. And is supposed to relieve your stress!

Hellion said...

6 books in the last year, Chance! That's definitely something to CROW ABOUT! Great news!! :) And they're such great books too! :)

And yeah for everyone's mojo coming back out of hiding. I swear there must have been a freaking planet in retrograde last year or something. I swear we were all feeling it!

2nd Chance said...

I'm all for blaming it on the planets!

We need an official position for the new puppy...

And wow, threatened a teacher...I had nuns. Never threaten a nun, it can go on your REAL permanent record...

Bosun said...

I'd wear that shirt! And I'm not hyperventalating over the class. I'm hyperventilating over the time I need to create the class. Or my part of it. Once that's done, we're golden.

I had plenty of nuns, but this one was not a nun. I was fortunate to have several cool teachers in my time and Miss Bernabie would be close to the top of the list. In fact, most of the cool teachers were English teachers. Coincidence? I think not.

Bosun said...

Oh, the puppy already has me moving. Took a 20 minute walk at 8 this morning. Now I'm just stressing because I know she's home alone in her crate wondering where I am. Actually, she's likely sleeping like an angel. And she does have the cats to keep her company.

She tried to play with Bumbles this morning. Hopping from side to side and barking at him. (Thank goodness she barks and doesn't yip!) He just stared at her then looked at me like, "WTF am I supposed to do with this thing?"

2nd Chance said...

Well, with luck, Bumbles will get the hang of it and they'll play. Or he'll torment her and call it play and if she doesn't know any better, she'll consider it play! ;-)

I did have some lay teachers, but most of the cool ones...were the nuns!

P. Kirby said...

What a nice upbeat post!

I'm rather happy with the latest batch of movie reviews I've written over at my blog/site. I feel like I'm really in touch with my voice in those reviews. I have a guest post over at Carina which I'm kind of proud of because I managed to get beyond the usual "I love my book and my characters--blah, blah, blah" kind of promo blog. It probably tells the reader nothin' about my book, but it's cute and funny.

Now if I can just get my voice back for actual novel writing. :)

I've now got two novels out, my second is officially out this week. So, uh, that's somethin'.

P. Kirby said...


IMO, regular walks are the absolute best way to bond with your new dog and minimize behavioral problems. And it's good for you. I think I've lost a bit of weight thanks to the hound's daily, two-mile walks. I wasn't actually trying to lose weight and it happened over the course of a few years, but it did happen. :)

Bosun said...

Pat - Tell us more about the new book! Wanna do a guest shot? LOL! Seriously. Wanna?

And I'm a huge fan of the Dog Whisperer so I agree on the walk thing. She was chewing my slipper this morning and looked so cute I didn't say anything right away. Then I heard Cesar in my head saying, "That's not what we want. You must stop that behavior." LOL!

Bosun said...

I love Pat's little avatar. That's adorable!

P. Kirby said...

Finally got around to uploading my little dragon to gravatar. I drew her for thank you cards several years ago, back when I had manners. She's already my online face in many places.

I would like a spot, if ya'll have some openings. I still owe someone a blog for this week, so I've been putting off asking you or Chance. I'll uh, bug ya later. :)

Yep. Cesar is big on dog walking. I agree w/him. Mr. Greyhound really settled in quickly with us and I think walks played a big part.

Bosun said...

We always have openings. Let us know when you have one. LOL!

You drew that?! Man, that is good.

Hellion said...

Dude, I have been dying to buy some notecards (I keep looking at Vistaprint and getting ones with my monogram on them, but never with my real name--but with H for Hellion. *LOL* Only that would work with about half my contacts.) Notecards are the bomb. Handwritten thank yous? Talk about making a day better with something simple.

And I love greyhounds. They're adorable. My friend has a dog that's part greyhound and he's such a lover. His name is Monty. I always want to steal him and bring him home with me.

P. Kirby said...

Thanks. I think the full version--dragon sitting on a pile of loot--is somewhere in my Facebook photos. Maybe profile pics.

Hellion. Greyhounds are wonderful. Graceful looking and...incredibly clumsy. But sweet.

2nd Chance said...

From the pics of seen of Terri's new dog, she could weave in and out of the hound's legs...could be quite a show!

Yeah, come guest with us, Pat!

As for things to go rah about...I have to say the few fan letters I've gotten, usually via fB have been the most rewarding thing about having your stuff out there... ;-)

Scapegoat said...

Sorry - I got called into a meeting - let me catch up!

Scapegoat said...

Bo'Sun - I love that story but I also want to see you crowing about the So You Think You Can Write challenge I know you rocked!

Chance - 6 books! I'm so proud of you and your world-building skills rock!

Scapegoat said...

Go Pat! Tell us about the new book and great blog posts really cheer you up sometimes right?

Scapegoat said...

I'm off to yoga class but will check in with you ladies again in just a bit.

I want to hear more recent writing strengths and successes! Big and small - let's go!

2nd Chance said...

Bossy Scape! Okay, uh...I've impressed my agent enough that I'm part of a special project she's putting together. I'm a great blog guest and I think my feed yer IC to the Kraken is one of my best... Though I also like the one where I'm tangled in plotlines and hanging from the yardarm...

I inspire students at RT with my attitude about writing and that is one of the things I am most proud of. Working with them and remaining friends with so many of them. Like Scape!

Scapegoat said...

All excellent Chance!

You made this newbie feel welcome at RT instead of the scared girl hiding in the corner. I've always felt that meeting you was by far the best thing i got out of that experience!

2nd Chance said...