paperback writer

I have a confession: I’m in a stalemate with my current project. Every time I sit down to write, I can’t seem to get into the groove.

My characters sound like they’re verbally constipated.

My descriptions have lost their senses.

My attitude is leaning toward obligation rather than passion.

Sometimes, writing is this way. We can’t get around it. There are times when we stare at our project and want to walk away and just start something new in order to avoid this feeling all together.

(Which I would never do… or maybe I’ve already done just that? Temporarily, of course.)

But if we never finish the project, we will never continue down the road of “success” as authors. And that road is paved differently for everyone.

Have you ever heard the song “Paperback Writer” by The Beatles? I’m pretty terrible with my music knowledge, but my dad used to play it for me nonstop because he was certain it was my future.

At least, to be a writer.

I don’t think he meant that I was going to be begging to sell my soul with the rights to my book to make a million overnight. Which isn’t entirely the point of my song, but you catch my drift.

The point is, sometimes you have to accept the mood you’re in and find a way to push through. It’s hardest to take my own advice, but if I don’t I’m going to end up like the song– just wishing and thinking I’ll add more in a week or two, never reaching the end of the manuscript and wasting my dreams away.

Yikes. That sounded like a TERRIBLE rain cloud.

This is why I’m blogging right now instead of writing. Because I have no idea where my characters are. I know the story, but man…my poor MC is going through hell and I just don’t think I’m doing her justice.

Now I’m word vomiting while my characters sound stuck.

I think I’ll stop here and leave you wondering….

 

Maybe not.

 

I started a new project, plotted another, and now I’m back to working on the WIP. Sometimes, you have to empty your mind of what you see as distractions in order to get back to where you are really needed.

The life of the writer. Sometimes, it sounds more like a psychiatrist (er, or psychopath?) than anything else.

 

 

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building your marketing platform

imageWe have all faced a form of rejection. Recently, I faced one that was a big shot. As in, a pop-up wall…like a giant jack-in-the-box.

I imagine you take my meaning.

What I learned from the rejection was that my Internet footprint wasn’t sufficient.

It was scary, intimidating, and if I’m being honest, heartbreaking. 

It was such a shock because I felt like I had worked very hard on my online presence since before I started truly dedicating myself to writing my books. I put a part of me out there that was vulnerable and fun. And I had hoped it was creative enough to stand out.

If you’re wondering how to make yourself marketable, I am not a professional in this department. However, I have learned a thing or two recently, so I thought I’d share my knowledge with you.

 

FIGURE OUT YOUR TARGET

You need to know who you’re writing for and what you’re writing topic or theme is before you start a blog. If you’re an author, you need to make your blog relatable to the potential audience of your books. Whether that’s the writing community, teens, or little kids, make your online presence relatable to your future book readers.

 

BE CONSISTENT

The last thing you want when turning yourself into your own brand is to be wishy-washy. Whether you’re posting once a month, a week, or daily, always schedule your posts for the same time. This way your audience knows what to expect, and it will make it easier for them to depend on you. This helps with your image.

 

BE ACTIVE

Marketing yourself takes work. Posting on your own blog and sending out some tweets is not going to be enough. Reach out to those who are in similar boats as you; visit their sites or respond to their tweets, and eventually you’ll find others doing the same for you. This is a give-and-gain scenario. You will not be marketable or able to grow your brand if you aren’t proactive. Period. Give at least ten minutes a day to your online presence. Your activeness will eventually have a snowball effect and will pay off.

 

BE PATIENT

Creating a platform for yourself takes time. Once you decide what your platform is, it’s up to you (and eventually your agent and publisher) to build it plank by plank. But you are the front-runner in making sure it is supported so that it can grow.

 

Everything in the publishing business takes time, no matter what route you take. But every day you spend working on your platform is one more follower, one more re-tweeter, one more reader.

The publishing world is cutthroat, and publishers want to see that you know how to navigate the marketing waters. The time to start building your platform is right now! Design a blog, make a website, Tweet and Follow and Friend and Post, and do it every day.

 

 

my author Twitter account is: @emily_hdunn

#writerslifeapparel Twitter account is: @writerslifeapp

my Facebook page is: Emily Herring Dunn

my IG is: @emilyherringdunn

#writerslifeapparel IG is: @writerslifeapparel

 

Share yours in the comments! I’d love to connect and help each other out :).

 

 

This post was originally written for & posted on Stark Contrast Editing‘s blog. Make sure to check out Katelyn’s amazing new site and the services she and others offer. Plus, more posts by yours truly!

when life & writing overwhelm you

It is very easy for life to get the best of you.

And when I say you, I mean me.

Oftentimes life does not go as you wish. Days produce nothing but a longer to-do list for tomorrow, and months seem pointless when you haven’t reached that writing goal that’s been pushed to the back burner  because of family, or your daytime job, or personal reasons.

Believe me, I get it.

More than not, I find myself at war with my to-do list. Instead of cleaning my kitchen, I sit down to write for thirty minutes. The next morning, I’ll sometimes regret it. I mean, who can work when the kitchen is a mess? Not me. Or instead of writing, I’ll zone out in front of Netflix when the day is done and I’ll tell myself, “I’ll write twice as much tomorrow.”

If you remember a few past posts of mine, you know this is typical for me.

But the thing is, your writing is yours.

Sure, you may be stressed out about edits or deadlines. You may be stressed out over questions, blog posts, interviews, reviews–whatever. When it comes down to it, though: your writing is yours. Even if you signed away the rights for the movie, or for a translation, or any of that– your writing will always be yours.

And that shouldn’t overwhelm you.

I don’t want to be one to tell you what should and shouldn’t overwhelm you, how you should and shouldn’t feel. Everything in this life comes with a balance, and you have to find yours.

So here’s what I do when life & writing start getting to me and stressing me out, when really, they shouldn’t.

DO A LITTLE DANCEgiphy

Put on your favorite dancing music and shake it. There is nothing like movement to help you feel better.

 

EAT SOME CHOCOLATE

giphy

Chocolate is actually proven to raise your spirits. Seriously. I read it somewhere. Just a hershey kiss could be what it takes.

 

TAKE A NAP OR GO TO BED EARLIER

giphyKids aren’t the only ones who get cranky when they don’t get enough sleep. While you might think another cup of coffee and burning the midnight oil is the way to go, sometimes you do just need to slow down.

 

JOURNAL

tumblr_lpjajmiWvd1qcmptjo1_500

Your feelings, fears, excitement, dreams– get it all out so you can clear your head. It’s amazing how much better you feel after you put into words what’s overwhelming you and driving you crazy.

 

What I’m still learning– and probably will always be learning– is when things are getting to me… it’s usually best to clean the closet and let go of things that aren’t necessary. It’s hard to put yourself first sometimes, but especially when you get to a breaking point, it’s a necessity. You can’t give to others if you’re running on empty.

an author’s dream

an author's dreamWhen I was younger, I used to dream about being famous.

Didn’t we all?

It started with writing. From a young age I loved to read and write so much, I dreamed of my books being in the book fair catalog, and it only escalated from there. Every couple of years it would switch– pop star, movie star, Broadway star, symphony member–but overall it was the same concept:

I wanted to be known. I wanted to be recognized. I wanted to be famous.

That’s the world we live in. We want to be set above everyone else and talked about by people we don’t know. Even, sometimes, if it’s negative.

As I’ve gotten older, the dream has settled with my writing. While I still admittedly dream of being the next Ann Rinaldi or Janette Oke, mostly I just want to get my stories out there.

I want to release them into the wild. I want them to be read. I want them to be appreciated.

The written word is a beautiful thing. Someone has slaved away to string sentences together in a new style, his/her style, to form a story of his/her imagination.

I’m not trying to give myself too much credit here. But writing is work. Don’t be fooled in to think differently.

It is fun, of course, too. It is amazing when those voices come to life and everything flows like a stream in the desert–but the times when the water runs dry are the times you wonder what the heck you’re doing, and then realize how your passion is also work.

I know there are still those out there who dream of being famous. Who write to make the bestsellers list or hope their works will be turned into movies. There’s no shame in that.

But I think, over all, authors–writers–write because they have to. Because there are these stories inside just bursting through every pore of their bodies, and if they don’t come out, it’s like they’re purposefully trapping a dream from coming to life.

And we wouldn’t want that, would we?

If you are able to make your dream come to life, to the best of your ability, the only person who you harm if you don’t–is yourself.

If you’re an author, keep dreaming. You’re going to make it.

My coffee mug was a birthday present from my amazing CP/BFF. You can get yours here. Also, if you missed it & liked this piece, make sure to check out: own the word: you are an author.

respect your inner writer

imageI have not been respecting my inner writer.

Let’s just get that out of the way.

I’ve had a hard time lately getting much done. I don’t mean to sound whiny, or negative, but it’s true. There’s been mostly playing catch-up and acting like I can somehow get ahead of everything I have on my plate.

And let’s be real, we all feel that way some times.

I recently got a rejection that I didn’t want to mention or share on here. Partially because I think it’s unprofessional, and partially because it felt like a below-the-belt rejection. However, rejection is a part of life… and if I can’t share at least the big picture fact that I was rejected, then this doesn’t seem like a place I’m being honest with everyone.

The thing is, because of that rejection I started plunging into different projects. I was avoiding sitting down and writing, because I was afraid that my writing was no longer worth it.

Call me melodramatic, but it’s how I was feeling.

Everything was so personal. The words, the reasons, the rejector. And as much as authors have to grow an extra layer of skin for these types of things, there is no denying that some rejections are going to hit harder than others.

And this one, my friends, hit HARD.

After looking around, I stumbled upon this article by Alice Osborn (poet and author).

Suddenly I realized, she was right.

No, she doesn’t mention rejection or how to handle it. In fact, this post has nothing to do with rejection. It has everything to do with being a writer. We have to respect ourselves and our craft, and not just talk about it.

That’s all I’ve been doing. I’ve been talking about writing. And writing about writing. But, ironically, I haven’t been WRITING.

I’ve been talking about my latest book, or my book that’s on submission, or another new book idea, or what I want to do to an old project… but I haven’t been doing. I’ve just been talking.

That’s no good.

We have to respect ourselves as writers.

What does that mean?

It means setting the stage to get our jobs done.

We don’t write because we want to, we write because we HAVE to. There’s a burning fire way down deep that can vibrate through our bones, our veins, through our fingertips. That fire is what keeps us going, and only we have the power to squelch it or help it grow.

No one said it was going to be easy.

The things that are worth it in life are never easy.

Love. Beliefs. Jobs. Relationships. Goals. Dreams.

They all hold their own challenges, and we find out what kind of people we are when we decide to reach for them, to hold them, to protect them, to perfect them.

But in order to do anything, we first have to have self-worth and self-respect.

So, I’m challenging myself to follow the steps from that article.

Set boundaries. Show up. Take risks. Make goals. Invest.

WRITE.

 

 

 

Have you been devaluing your inner writer? What do you think you can do to change that?

 

Want a $10 Starbucks giftcard to treat yourself? Here’s how you can enter!

1 Entry: Follow this site!

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Make sure to comment on here, Facebook, or Instagram with everything you did! Extra entry opportunities will be shared on Instagram tomorrow as well. Open until Saturday, March 26th at midnight EST. Winner announced Monday, March 28th. Good luck!

 

life & balance & seasons

imageOften times, I run through a day complaining about how little time I have. How much there is to do. What I need to plan for the rest of the week. Who I need to call or who I should get in touch with.

Go, go, go.

It’s so easy these days. I’m the worst at getting disconnected from living and reveling in this beautiful life, and instead just looking at it like a long to-do list.  Something to get through. Something to get DONE. And then, even if every day is slightly different, it all seems monotonous.

How sad is that?

I want to make a name for myself. I want to have a social life. I want to invest in my family. I want to have a foundation in Christ. I want to reach others. I want to lead by example. I want to have a clean house. I want to have a pretty yard. I want to do Pinterest projects.

Balance.

That was is my word for 2016. I had this idea that I would find the magical way to balance everything I wanted to do without stress and with a thankful heart/good attitude.

Admittedly, I probably didn’t realize how great of a goal that really was, or how heavy that word truly is.

“There is TIME for everything and there is a SEASON for every activity under the heavens.”  Ecclesiastes 3:1

There is time for everything. There is a season for everything.

It just might not happen during the time I want it. Or the season I’m in may not be the one I’m looking for.

Now I’m trying to enjoy life. To bask in the season of my life that is the present, and remember that I can’t do it all alone. And if I keep trying, I’m going to keep falling on my face.

Right now, I’m putting one foot in front of the other and keeping my eyes up instead of down.

 

What do you do to stay in the present and balance what you want to do, and what you need to do, and what you “should” be doing?

a reader lives one thousand lives

one thousand livesWhen I was in high school our homeroom met for about ten minutes and the students were divided up the same every year. We were in alphabetic order, so I always had the same person sitting in front of me, next time, behind me…it never changed.

There was a kid who sat in front of me who always asked me how many books I had read that day, or that week. He especially loves Monday’s because he would get to ask me how many books I read over the weekend. Sometimes it was only two, sometimes four. Once I was so excited to tell him I had read seven books between Friday afternoon and Monday morning.

I think I started seeing it as a challenge. “I want to be able to tell him I read more.”

Near the end of our senior year, I finally had the guts to ask him why it intrigued him so much. Part of me was so afraid I’d find he had been making fun of me for four years, but the other part of me–the stronger part–wondered if it was just something to talk about. But his answer always stays with me.

“I’m such a slow reader. It amazes me that you can read so fast, and so many books at the same time, and soak up all those stories. I wish I could do that.”

I was floored.

Part of me felt proud. My older sister and I had times each other to see how long it took us each to read a page of a book since I was about eight. The other part of me wondered if he had a right to be amazed. Because I got to thinking, and asking myself: was I really soaking up all the stories?

Some of them, yes. I always go back to my favorites. But some of them were just fillers. Books to read to pass the time. Those books I couldn’t really remember.

Suddenly I began to panic. I’ve been reading WRONG. I should be slow…and steady…because that’s the true winner, right?

Well, I listened for a millisecond or so before I pulled out my book and started pushing through it. I wanted to finish it. To add it to my list. My ever-growing list.

Now that time and life have forced me to slow down, I’ve learned that I don’t mind having a shorter list. I know there are so many books out there, and truth be told– time and mortality will keep me from reading all the books that I’d probably enjoy.

Yes, that makes me sad. But I’ve come to terms with it.

Quantity isn’t quality. That’s how the saying goes, right? I’ve slowed down to picking new books with precision, and made sure to revisit books that I might have sped through. I revisit the timeless tales that are my favorites, and balance them with the new and exciting books I find on various shelves.

But I’m not reading for anyone else.

I’m not reading to brag about how many books I finished. I’m not reading to keep up with the literary crowd. I’m not reading to make a name for myself.

I’m reading to live one thousand lives. I’m reading to enjoy the beautiful words so many authors toiled over. I’m reading to go on countless adventures. I’m reading to learn lessons that can’t be lost in the pages.

I’m reading to, well, live.

“A reader lives one thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.” -George R.R. Martin

If nothing else, I will read one thousand books before I die. Just so I can live up to this quote.

Do you have a numbered list of all the books you’ve read?

 

 

 

Make sure to follow my Instagram for more writerly & bookish things. Giveaways are in the future, starting with the 100 followers mark!

finding the time to be a writer

I’ve been the worst at making time to write lately. (My life is a constant state of chaos.) So at the end of the day I try to justify it by reminding myself of everything I got done… and then promise I will write at least 500 words the next day.

finding time to be a writerBut the next day turns into the next day, and then the next day, and then the day after that, and so on and so forth until I can’t remember the last time I really sat down and WROTE.

The thing is, I have to stop telling myself I don’t have time today, and instead ask myself, “Is it a priority?”

The answer there should always be the same: YES.

If you’re a writer, writing is always a priority.

Yes, we usually have other lives. A daytime job, school, family, a social life to keep up with– but writing is still at the top of the list. If we keep putting off the words in our heads, soon enough we may find ourselves forgetting them.

And we don’t want that.

But how do we find the time we say we don’t have? How do we sacrifice something that sounds fun in the moment, for sitting down and very possibly having writers block? It’s not easy, but I have a few suggestions.

  1. Make the time.

This sounds silly, but it’s not. Pick a time of day where you know you’ll have an opening. Whether it means waking up a half hour early or cutting your Netflix time short, do it. Don’t just find the time—reserve it. Reserve that time to let the voices inside your head come alive and speak on those pages. You owe it to yourself, and to your future readers.

  1. Carry it with you.

Whether you have Google Docs on your phone, an ongoing note, an easily accessible laptop, or a good ‘ole pen and paper—have something with you to write on, always. There is a time in everyone’s day, or even in the middle of the night, where an idea strikes, and you don’t want to be panicking to find something to write it on. This helps enable your ability to write, always.

  1. Don’t feel guilty.

That one friend that you haven’t hung out with in forever is begging you to go out, but the wheels are turning and you haven’t had this much inspiration in, well, forever. Tell your friend you’re sorry and keep those keys clicking. If she’s not a writer, she may not understand—but she’ll get over it. Never feel guilty telling someone “no” because you’re writing. It is a part of who you are, and you shouldn’t have to sacrifice that.

All in all, everything is easier said than done—but if you want to get that book finished, you have to make the time to do it. You can’t blame lack of time for not doing what you love, because really that only leaves one person you can blame.

Don’t be that person.

Be a writer.

 

 

Make sure to follow my Instagram for more writerly & bookish things. Giveaways are in the future, starting with the 100 followers mark!

This post was originally written and published on Stark Contrast Editing. Check out the amazing services Katelyn and staff have to offer (and for more pieces by yours truly).

 

the beauty of scrubbing toilets

scrubbing toiletsI hate scrubbing toilets.

There’s something about cleaning a toilet after knowing who used it last that makes it even worse. And that’s what I’ve been doing lately. Scrubbing toilets.

It doesn’t matter if you have to clean up a shared bathroom where someone pees on the seat, or you have to clean up after someone who tossed their cookies. It doesn’t matter if you’re forced to clean before you have a visitor, or after a visitor, or even if you have to clean your own bathroom. When it comes down to it, there’s a reason we all dread cleaning bathrooms. Because it’s gross.

And if you don’t agree with me, well, good for you?

But today I’ve been scrubbing toilets thinking about how much I HATE scrubbing toilets. And I think life in itself is just like that. You have to do things you don’t like over and over again because, well, that’s just how it goes.

If I was bitter about having to clean bathrooms, then every time I went to put cleaner in the bowl or sanitize the handle– I’d really get into a funk.

And if I’m being honest, sometimes that DOES happen.

But that’s not how I should be going through life. Always in a funk over the next worst thing.

What does this have to do with anything?

Attitude.

Life is hard, and there are many parts of it that suck. But if we focus on the hard things and what we hate about them, we miss the beauty.

Like the beauty of meeting new people. The beauty of helping someone who needs it.

Like the beauty of getting to sit down and write something. The beauty of discovering a new story, or the beauty of reading a story that never gets old.

Life is made up of beauty and bitterness alike. Today I’m choosing not to be bitter, or resentful. What about you?

 

To answer the question I know you’re dying to ask:

I still haven’t found what’s beautiful about scrubbing toilets.

But when I do, I’ll make sure to let you know.

 

Looking for something sweet? Head over to The Newfangled Housewife for a Red Velvet Donuts recipe!

red velvet donut