Setting Self Doubt on Fire: Let’s Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway in 2019

Happy New Year! I’m back. Yes, I know it’s been a long time since my last post. Where did I go? Don’t worry, Mr Self Doubt didn’t kidnap me and hold me hostage. I simply struggled to find the time, and every time I wanted to write a post, something else needed doing. But, fear not, for I am back, and I’m ready to battle with Mr Self Doubt.

In 2017, I read a book written by Susan Jeffers titled Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway — the Oldbury Writing Group leader and my friend, Angela, had recommended the book to me. Over the years, fear often stopped me from doing what I wanted to do, especially with my writing, so this book was what I needed. It showed me that the only way to conquer fear is to face it head-on. Do what you want to do, even though the prospect might be terrifying.

Well, this year I have decided to do just that. I will feel the fear and do it anyway. And, I want you all to join me on this quest for happiness and writing success.

How do you do that? It’s simple. All you have to do is step out of your comfort zone and take any opportunity that comes your way, or do something that you’ve been too scared to do.

For example, you could do the following:

  • Join a writing group.
  • Start a new writing project, e.g. a novel, a novella, a story collection, etc.
  • Submit your work.
  • Try self-publishing.
  • Read your work out to an audience.
  • Do a course.
  • Join a writer’s programme.

Okay, I know stepping out of your comfort zone isn’t easy, but you will never know what you are capable of doing until you do it. So, come on, folks, let’s make 2019 our year for writing success.

I will be sharing my fear-busting adventures on here and on my nicole-j-simms.co.uk website, so stay tuned.

Keep writing, folks!

To end this post, here is another inspirational quote:

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” – Nelson Mandela

Setting Self Doubt on Fire: 5 Tips on How to Ignore the Negative Voices

Hi All, I’m back with some more self-doubt fighting words. I know, it’s been a long time since my last post, but I’ve been busy with finishing the third draft of my novel, which took longer to finish than planned, but the third draft is now completed.

So, what do I have for you today? Well, three years ago, I wrote a post titled, ‘The Doubts of Others’. In this post, I talked about how, for some of us writers, there are people out there who feel that we are wasting our time in trying to achieve this dream. Well, that was three years ago, and since then I have had more short stories published and won competitions, but still, there are people out there who belittle my achievements and see my writing as a joke. As I mentioned in the last post, it’s hard enough fighting your own negative thoughts without having to deal with other people’s negative opinions because this only releases Mr Self Doubt. So, today, I want to tell you (and myself) that it’s time to ignore the negative voices.

How do you ignore the negative voices, you ask? Well, I have my famous five tips for you:

  1. Remember, you don’t need anyone’s permission to write – this is an important point because many of us will feel that we need people’s approval to write, and so when we don’t get it we stop writing. The only permission you need to write is your own. If writing makes you happy, if it’s your dream to get published and see your book in a bookshop window, then go for it, and don’t let anyone stop you. It’s your life. You need to do what makes you happy.
  2. Call yourself a writer – no one will believe that you are a writer if you don’t believe it yourself. If you tell people that you do this ‘writing thing’ then you will only encourage them to not take your writing seriously. And even though your writing isn’t important to them it is still important to you, so don’t trivialise what you do. Stand up and tell people, ‘I’m a writer, and I’m proud of that.’ I’m glad to say that I finally call myself a writer because that’s what I do. I’m not a published novelist, yet, but I am a writer.
  3. Don’t waste your energy with anger – it’s understandable that you would want to rip out people’s throats for mocking what you do, but anger only hurts you. So don’t waste your time being angry and thinking about all the terrible things you can do to that person (some of us are horror writers for a reason lol). Instead, accept that these people don’t believe that you will succeed, but don’t let them make you quit.
  4. Focus on the positive voices – you may have people who think you’re wasting your time and not take your writing seriously, but there will be people out there who do. So, don’t focus on the negative people, instead focus on the people who go to your writing events, who celebrate when you are published, and who tell you that you can do this when you feel like you can’t. And if you don’t have anyone like that then you can always find them via writing groups or online. I’m lucky because I have more people in my life who believe in me than I do who don’t believe in me. They see and know that I’m working hard, and it’s those people that I plan to focus on, and you should do the same, even if there’s only one person in your life who believes in you.
  5. Keep writing – yes, this is what you should definitely do. Actually, this should be point one, but I thought it would be a nice way to end the post. You will never achieve your dreams if you stop writing, so don’t listen to the negative voices. Instead, focus on your path and continue with it. And hey, you can always use those negative people to inspire a villain (or victim) in your stories – just make sure that they won’t recognise that it’s them. And when you do have a novel published, you should send them a signed copy of your book.

So there you have it, five tips on how to ignore the negative voices, and none of them involved any violence. There are many reasons why people will put you down for following your dreams, one of the reasons is jealousy because unlike them, you have the courage and determination to pursue your dream. So don’t waste your time with those negative people, instead focus on what truly matters.

Keep writing folks!

To end this post, here is another inspirational quote:

“Stop letting people who do so little for you control so much of your mind, feelings and emotions” – Will Smith

 

Setting Self Doubt on Fire: Hey! Where’s My Book Reading Audience

Hi All, I’m back with some more self-doubt fighting words.

You may have noticed that I haven’t been around for a while. Well, that’s because my writing group’s World War Two anthology titled From Sunrise to Sunset has finally been published and is now out on sale, which means we’ve been busy promoting our book and starting our book tour. Now, I wish I could say the book tour has been a huge success, but sadly, things haven’t gone exactly to plan. On some of our book readings, we’ve had one problem – no audience. Now, even though our book tour hasn’t gone to plan, we haven’t given up. Instead, we are focusing on the positives, no matter how small: we had three people come to one of our book readings, and we managed to sell a book (yay us!), and we have decided to rethink our book tour, so our future events will have a better turnout.

Having a low turnout or no audience at all does happen to writers, especially the unknown ones. I went to a writing festival in May, and one of the authors (Alex Wheatle) told us that he once had only two women and a dog turn up to one of his book readings. This showed us that perseverance is key because I doubt Alex Wheatle still has this problem.

It can be disappointing to have no one turn up to a book reading, And it also isn’t great for those suffering from crippling self-doubt.

 

So after having this experience I’ve decided to share some tips on how you can deal with an invisible audience at a book reading event.

 

  1. Focus on the positives – you may have only had one person in the audience, but it’s better to have one interested person than several uninterested people. And that one person knows people, so who’s to say they won’t mention your book to someone else.
  2. Think about your advertising – there are many ways you can promote your book tour. You have Facebook events, websites that list events in your area, posters, your website/blog, leaflets, newspapers, other social media sites, radio, television, and family and friends (word of mouth is still the best way). So, if you haven’t tried all the different types of advertising, then go back to the ones you haven’t tried. And remember to advertise as early as possible. Putting up a poster a week before an event is unlikely going to get you a packed out event.
  3. Rethink your venues – libraries are good places to do book readings, but what I’ve found out is that having a book reading at a quiet library isn’t a good idea. It’s best to go to a venue that has a readymade audience. That way, you might even catch the attention of people who’ve not heard about you or your book. Also, ask to take part in events. There was a 1940s event that my writing group took part in because our book is based during the war, so it was a perfect fit. You might be able to have a little space where you can set up your books and do a reading.
  4. Network – the more people who know you, then the more people who will be willing to put the word out about your events. However, remember that if you want people to advertise your events, then you have to be prepared to return the favour. Also, if you know people, they might be able to tell you about events that you can take part in, or recommend you to people. This is where it’s great to be part of a writing group.
  5. Change the times and days of your book readings – sometimes people would love to come to your book reading, but you’ve chosen a day they can’t come. So, if you have an event on a Saturday afternoon, but no one turns up, then try a different day and different time of day. I have seen many book reading events that take place in the evening.
  6. Stop being hard on yourself – we all have to start at the bottom. We may love to read our book out to hundreds of people, but realistically, you’ll be lucky to get ten if you’re a new author. So sometimes it doesn’t matter how hard you have publicised your book tour you might find that not many people turn up, and that’s okay because one day they will.

It can be disheartening to make a huge effort to organise an event and have no one turn up, but you need to remember that with enough hard work, determination, and perseverance, one day you will have the audience that you desire. So don’t give up.

To end this post, here is another inspirational quote:

“Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement.” – C.S. Lewis

 

Setting Self Doubt on Fire: Don’t Let Self-Doubt Make You Miss Deadlines

Hi All, I’m back with some more self-doubt fighting words.

So, what do I have for you today? Well, today, I will be talking about writing deadlines, and how self-doubt can get in your way of reaching them.

As a writer, especially when you’re starting out, it can be easy to spend years writing one short story and doing nothing else, simply because you don’t have a deadline. A deadline can help to motivate us to finish a piece and to send it out into the world. But even with a deadline, you can’t guarantee success, especially when Mr Self Doubt pops up to continue tormenting you.

How will Mr Self Doubt torment you? Well, he’ll make you doubt yourself and your work. You worry that you won’t have time to edit your story properly before submitting. You convince yourself that you shouldn’t be submitting anything right now. So what do you do? You miss the deadline, and what goes with it is a chance to be published. How do I know this? Well, I have missed many deadlines due to the fear of not being good enough.

So, what can you do to overcome this? Well, I have listed five ways you can stop self-doubt from making you miss a deadline:

  1. Don’t start work too close to the deadline – You want to give yourself enough time to write, and properly edit your story. While a close deadline can work for some, if you suffer from self-doubt, you’ll likely decide to hold a piece rather than submit it if you do it this way. For a short story, I would suggest that you give yourself at least a month to work on your story. If you can do longer, then that’s even better.
  2. Organise your time – to write and edit a short story you need time, which can be tricky to do when you have other commitments. So make sure you allocate some time each day to work on your story and stick to it.
  3. Aim to submit before the deadline – if you aim to submit your story earlier than the stated deadline, then you will have backup days to use if you need more time to work on your story.
  4. Don’t overload yourself – it can be tempting to plan to submit several stories per month, but it’s not ideal if you don’t have enough time to do that. So instead of trying to submit to multiple magazines and competitions at once, choose the submission calls that you want to do the most, and focus on those, so when the deadline is near you don’t fly into a panic. This is something I need to work on because I’m always trying to do too much.
  5. Ignore self-doubt and focus on the positives – you will find yourself plagued by self-doubt, but you need to remember that you won’t get published unless you push fear aside and take the leap. It’s scary, I know, especially when you fear rejection, but it’s worth trying so one day you can get that acceptance.

So there you have it – five tips to help you stop self-doubt from making you miss deadlines. So let’s do it, let’s beat Mr Self Doubt. Keep writing folks!

To end this post, here is another inspirational quote:

“Dreams without deadlines are dead in the water. Deadlines are really lifelines to achieving our goals.” ― Mark BattersonAll In: You Are One Decision Away From a Totally Different Life

WIHM: Setting Self Doubt on Fire: Female Horror Writer and Proud

Hi All, it’s February already, scary, right? And February is (Drum roll please) Women in Horror Month. Yes, this is the time for all you female horror writers (myself included) to tell everyone what amazing horror writers you are.

I’ve been writing seriously since 2012 (wow, time sure flies), but I had no clue that there was a month dedicated to horror writers until I joined the Horror Tree crew. I know, shocking, right, considering I’m a female horror writer? Well, this year, I have decided to write something for this special month.

So, what do I have for you today? Well, I want to talk about how you shouldn’t let self-doubt stop you from writing those dark and disturbing stories just because you’re a woman.

Often when a person thinks of a horror writer, they automatically assume it’s a man. So, when a woman steps forward and tells the world that she loves writing horror, she is likely to get some funny looks. I should know – I’ve had plenty of funny looks when I’ve told people what I write.

Because I’m a woman who loves pink (I wear it a lot), who bakes, watches Barbie films and musicals, and has a huge (and I mean huge) collection of cuddly toys, people are often gobsmacked when I tell them that I write horror stories. Obviously, they assume I must write chick lit or that romance stuff, but I don’t want to write about a girl with relationship dramas and blah blah blah. No, I want to write about a girl being possessed and murdering her entire family.

Even though some would say I don’t look like a typical horror fan, I’ve been a horror fan even before I started writing.  When I was younger, I loved watching programmes like Are You Afraid of the Dark and Goosebumps. I read horror stories – R.L. Stine and Stephen King are my favourites. I also love the zombie horror genre – The Walking Dead and Z Nation are my favourite TV programmes – I’ve also read some of the Walking Dead books. I love being scared, and even better, I love scaring people. So, of course, I was going to become a horror writer.

However, since I started working on my novel, I wondered if anyone would buy a horror novel from a female writer. It’s not easy going into what appears to be a male-dominated genre. When people think of a horror writer, they picture a man, not a woman dressed from head to toe in pink (I’m exaggerating, but I do love pink). Sadly, I’ve heard about many female writers (not just in the horror genre) that use a pseudonym or initials, so they don’t put off male readers. This has made me wonder if I should have done the same – used initials. And then doubt starts creeping in: if people don’t think women horror writers are good enough, then they’re not going to think you’re good enough. Everyone’s going to laugh at your weak attempts to frighten them.

But then I decided to fight back. Being a woman doesn’t mean you can’t be scary. It doesn’t mean no one will buy your books. You don’t have to change genres. And there’s no point in hiding behind initials because people will eventually find out who you are, especially if you do book signings. I don’t know what the secret is to guarantee success, but all I know is that you have to do what’s right for you. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something – unless it involves a crime, then it’s best not to do that.

So, don’t listen to Mr. Self Doubt. Don’t let him stop you from doing what you love if you love horror, no matter what your gender, you should continue to write it – Say it with me, ‘Horror writer and proud!’

To end this post, here is another inspirational quote:

“Don’t you ever let a soul in the world tell you that you can’t be exactly who you are.” ― Lady Gaga

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