In this month's #AspiringAuthors, we talk to Amy Ella of Mills & Boon Book Reviews and Chat, an aspiring author trying to avoid distraction...
Hellooo and thanks for having me again on the wonderful PHS! I’m Amy Ella Wright – aspiring romance author and book lover–especially Harlequin, Mills & Boon and almost anything that promises me a HEA. Whether I’m reading or writing romance, a happily ever after is my secret weapon against reality and I need a daily dose to keep my world in-line.
I was invited to share a little bit about my writing journey so far, any tips and tricks I’ve picked up as an aspiring author, why I’m still chasing my dream when the rejection letters keep rolling in and that elusive ‘call’ seems to be getting further away.
Well… I’m here to tell you the writing journey isn’t easy, do not be fooled by the amount of inspirational #GettingTheCall posts on social media. Those writers had it just as tough as you and I. Some are still being rejected by other publishers–so pull up your big-girl panties (or big-boy), take note and don’t let yourself get distracted!
I started my writing journey officially in January of this year, and already I’ve made some fatal mistakes, my first being how easily it is to get distracted from my writing, letting life get in the way and downing tools. I’ve also made some wonderful discoveries, which I’d like to share. But mostly I’d like to share my humble advice about not getting distracted from writing.
If I’m honest I’ve always been a little shy of social media, never really taking the plunge to put myself out there. But it all changed in January when my very own hero collected a very large box of romance novels from a lovely lady who said she didn’t have the time to read them. I dove straight in and boom! The niggling need in me that I’d squashed while getting a degree, starting a family reignited – I still wanted to write.
It had always niggled at me over the years, but I’d pushed it aside, even though I was still squiggling stories on scrap pieces of paper and throwing them in a draw. But this time I thought, go for it–why not? So I set up a blog, a profile on all social media networks and I started to reach out to the romance, reading and writing, community. What I found was so much more than I ever expected.
The reading and writing community is a wonderful place, it’s like the proverbial port in a storm when the need to have your writing validated is biting at your heels. I’m very grateful to have met some inspirational ladies (and men) who have taken me, the newbie under their wings.
If you’re not part of romance, reading and writing community, seek them out, find them, you won’t regret it and they will be your cheerleaders as you go through your own very unique writing experience. The wonderful ladies over at the Unlaced Book Club and The Review Sisters are great places to start if you’re looking for a warm welcome and an understanding ear as you face each writing milestone. They were my first wonderful discoveries in the romance community and I’ve made some life-long friends.
However I digress, my blog was meant to be away of researching what was current in romance, writer’s voices, styles, what was popular in the reading market but above all what romance series resonated with me. My motivation – my love of reading but to also find my own voice.
You can’t write if you don’t read!
The importance of reading to write is paramount to the success of any writer. But six months after starting my blog, I was spending so much of my time writing up reviews, that I was giving myself little, if no time, to write the story I was carrying around with me.
Whilst reading will always be at the heart of my journey and reviews are so important to readers and
authors alike, the reviewers and bloggers of this world work damn hard and at an exhaustive pace to create wonderful, thoughtful and in depth reviews. I couldn’t keep up whilst writing, so now I am a writing reader and no longer a reviewer.
I will always be a reader and leave a review, but if you’re anything like me–it’s all or nothing with anything I do in this in the world and I chose writing…
My point? Don’t get distracted from your writing. Define your position in the reading/writing community. Find the time to write and keep yourself on track!
Also, be wary of competitions… I’ve entered three, no, four, writing competitions in the last ten months. Don’t get me wrong, competitions are awesome and have opened the door to many wonderful authors whose talent was previously lost in the slush pile. But they can also be a distraction…
I’d dropped several stories by the time I’d entered each competition, starting a new story each time just to shoe-horn it into a box my over-sized bottom couldn’t quite squeeze in to and the result, not completing what I was working on in the first place. Whilst no writing is ever wasted and I learnt a huge amount from entering those competitions, I never did finish that story.
So, ask yourself when you hear that submission call for a partial submission – what’s more important, finishing the story you’re working on or getting feedback from a competition, which may or may not, be personalized? It’s a choice you have to make – but don’t let yourself get distracted from the story you want to tell.
Sometimes the distraction from your writing (especially mine) can be too many ideas–choose one and finish it! Don’t keep editing that first chapter. I’m very guilty of reworking the first chapter until I get it as right as I can, but while I’m doing that or starting a new story, because another idea is nagging at me or for a competition, the rest of the story bubbles, hangs fire and pops without ever being written down. Choose one idea and let your characters drag you, kicking and screaming if necessary, to their happily ever after. You will learn a great amount, even if that isn’t the story that gets you ‘The Call.’
Make those fifteen minutes before the alarm is supposed to go off count –write. If you’re sitting on the train, twenty minutes from your stop–write. Push life out of the way and tell it your writing. Make the time to do what makes your soul happy, and if that’s writing don’t get distracted by this beautiful thing we call life. Bottom line–finish the book!
Remember your biggest cheerleader has to be yourself. Believe that your writing is good enough, never take a rejection as a personal insult but take the feedback on board, learn to read your work critically, respond–evaluate–rewrite it if you have to. Find yourself a critique partner – they are worth their weight in gold. Sometimes the magic is made in the editing and it never hurts to have some honest but constructive feedback to guide you.
My ending point is life and the decisions we make, will always get in the way of finishing that book–if we let it. But if you’ve decided to write, to satisfy that need to tell a story, be it romance or another genre, don’t let yourself get distracted. Remember your motivation– your end goal, is to have a finished manuscript. Keep going and when you see those beautiful words light up the screen ‘The End,’ come and tell the romance community what you’ve achieved, pat yourself on the back because it’s a great achievement but it’s only the beginning to receiving that ‘call.’
One last thing before the phone rings or it’s time to pick up the kids, or, one of those endless balls we’re trying to juggle tries to slip through your fingers–never judge your writing journey by others successes. Your journey is unique –it’s all yours and can’t be compared to other call stories that may have you turning a little green and typing faster to finish that WIP! It’s not a race and the only person you’re competing with is yourself–take your time, go slow and get it right. Make it something you’ll be proud of. You’ve been carrying that story around with you for years after all, so get it right.
Never give up and keep writing. Your ‘call’ is just around the corner and mine too, fingers crossed!
To find out more about Amy Ella and her reviews, check out her website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.
Are you an aspiring author? Have you made plans for your writing future? Share them with us in the comments or using #AspiringAuthors on Social Media and mark the date you officially decided to make your dream come true!