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Guest Post: 4 Top Tips to Overcome Your Fear of Writing by @BadRedheadMedia


Photo Source: Unsplash.com/Annie Spratt

Photo Source: Unsplash.com/Annie Spratt

If you are a nonfiction or memoir author, one of the issues I hear from multiple authors (and experienced myself) is giving ourselves permission to write the hard stuff. Many people will never put pen to paper because sharing the intimate details of their lives or a particular experience is simply too terrifying a thought.

I’m here to tell you how to overcome that fear and start writing.

Let’s deconstruct.

Fear

What are you so afraid of? Most writers are terrified of sharing the truth of their experiences, for a myriad of reasons:

  • What will my family and friends think?
  • Will people judge me?
  • Will anyone believe me?
  • Will I lose my job?

And these are all valid. However, keep in mind that you can still write about your experiences and nobody has to see them. Just start writing. Get the words out. Journal, write a letter, share your story on your blog or as a guest post anonymously, whatever – just get it out of your head and down on paper. Nobody is watching you or hovering over your shoulder. Take those fears, lock them in a drawer, and put away the key. They’ll be there waiting when you’re done.

Vulnerability works in your favor when writing memoir and nonfiction.

An author told me the other day that she could write for weeks nonstop if she could just get over that fear of someone reading it, so keep this in mind: nobody has to read your journal or first draft. Do what I call the “word vomit” and simply release your mind dump. It’s so incredibly freeing. I’m giving you permission right now.

You’re an adult, and you are allowed to write like one. Own your story…which leads me to my next point…

Feel It

If, at some point, you take that word vomit and decide you do want to create a book out of it, the only way you’ll be able to connect with your readers is to dig deep into what you’re feeling as you write it. Harness your raw emotion. If you don’t feel it as you write it, we won’t feel it as we read it.

As I counsel my author clients (and remind myself): write what scares you.

Here’s my biggest tip as you write your initial first draft: do not self-edit. Those stories have been circulating inside you for years, waiting patiently for you to bring them out. Honor them and let them have their say.

write-what-scares-you-rachel-attribution

Structure

Real-life experiences (in my case, I write about surviving childhood sexual abuse and the after-effects) can be brutal, joyful, horrifying, and thought-provoking – often a combination of them all. Give your writing some kind of structure after your initial draft.

Once you allow yourself to write out your experiences, some kind of structure will usually emerge. Note: working with a professional editor helps immensely at this point.

In my own case, in writing my first Broken book, Broken Pieces, I discovered that surviving abuse isn’t a linear, chronological process. My editor and I decided that the best way to present the book was in pieces (as referenced in the title), so the reader would feel the same kind of frustrations and sense of discord I felt as I experienced it.

In the second book, Broken Places, I found my work centered more around mind, body, and soul, so that’s how we structured the book. I didn’t discover that until after I had written most of the book and released everything I felt. The lesson here: trust the process.

If you simply cannot move forward without a full structure, that’s okay, too. Everyone works differently. Nonfiction and memoir tend to be a more internalized process, so my advice here is to not hold back, whichever way you go.

Trust

Trust your voice. It may sound cliché, but the truth of it is, many people will give you feedback on your work but ultimately, it’s your name that goes on the cover of that book. It’s your work.

That said, I do believe it’s critically important to work with a professional editor (like Wendy, who’s awesome), or someone else who does this for a living; not Aunt Edna who used to teach English back in the day. Ask people to beta-read for you. Send out ARCs. Send your work to trusted critique partners.

Why is this important? Because readers, book bloggers, and book reviewers will buy, read, review your work, and leave reviews. You don’t want any surprises. Sure, not everyone will love your work and that’s okay, too – that’s their right.

Keep in mind, once your book is out there, you’re no longer invited to the party. Don’t take it personally – publishing is a business. Be professional and keep on writing.

 

The only thing stopping you from writing is some unknown, nebulous fear and it’s up to you to wrangle it. Remember, nobody will see what you are writing unless you allow it, but even you can’t see what you’re writing unless you start.

So, go.

__________________________________________________

Rachel-Thompson1Rachel Thompson is represented by literary agent Lisa Hagan, and is published by ShadowTeamsNYC.

She is the author of the award-winning, bestselling Broken Places (one of IndieReader’s “Best of 2015” top books and 2015 Honorable Mention Winner in both the Los Angeles and the San Francisco Book Festivals), and the bestselling, multi award-winning Broken Pieces (as well as two additional humor books, A Walk In The Snark and Mancode: Exposed).

Rachel’s work is also featured in several anthologies (see Books for details).

She owns BadRedhead Media, creating effective social media and book marketing campaigns for authors. Her articles appear regularly in The Huffington Post, The San Francisco Book Review (BadRedhead Says…), Feminine Collective, IndieReader.com, 12Most.com, bitrebels.com, BookPromotion.com, and Self-Publishers Monthly,

Not just an advocate for sexual abuse survivors, Rachel is the creator and founder of the hashtag phenomenon #MondayBlogs and the live weekly Twitter chats, #SexAbuseChat, co-hosted with certified therapist/survivor, Bobbi Parish (Tuesdays, 6pm PST/9pm EST), and #BookMarketingChat, co-hosted with author assistant Melissa Flickinger (Wednesdays, 6pm PST/9pm EST).

She hates walks in the rain, running out of coffee, and coconut. She lives in California with her family.

Author Contact Information:

Author Site: rachelintheoc.com
BadRedhead Media Site: badredheadmedia.com
Twitter: @RachelintheOC
Twitter (Business):
@BadRedheadMedia
SexAbuseChat:
@SexAbuseChat
BookMarketingChat: @BkMarketingChat
MondayBlogs: @MondayBlogs 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorRachelThompson
Facebook (Business): https://www.facebook.com/BadRedheadMedia
Google+: https://plus.google.com/+RachelThompson/
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/rachelintheoc/
Instagram: https://instagram.com/rachelintheoc/
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/rachel-thompson/24/784/b95
Goodreads
http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4619475.Rachel_Thompson
Author Newsletter: 
http://eepurl.com/j9oaH
BadRedhead Media Newsletter: 
http://eepurl.com/koN8r
Full-size Author Photo Link: http://i119.photobucket.com/albums/o158/Froze8/RachelThompson_

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Filed under Editor, Emotion, Guest Post, Life, Memoir, Nonfiction, Real Life, Writing, Writing Tips

Guest Post: Write Whatever the Hell You Want by Lindsay Fischer


Photo source: Unsplash.com/Green Chameleon

Photo source: Unsplash.com/Green Chameleon

Right this second I’m lying on my love seat. It’s 85 degrees beyond my walls, with land-locked, staggering humidity. Frankly, I’ve never had any desire to be in a sauna. I’ve never rushed to one at the gym, never enjoyed the times I’ve been convinced to go in and sit in my own sweat, and I don’t anticipate this ever changing, which is why I’m inside right now, a blanket tossed over my legs while my bulldog, Frank, snores away the afternoon.

I’ve been writing more lately but that’s not saying much. More is a subjective term I’m tossing out to make it appear I’ve been useful. Just last month I barely let my fingers dance, my creativity abbreviated by life’s circumstances. Now, I’m pushing, resisting the urge to say I’m waiting for inspiration or some other garbage excuse for why I’m not doing what actually fills up my soul.

Last night I wrote a blog about what it meant to be real. It was my third attempt at a blog I was asked to write in early May. In truth, the first two sucked. They were both disingenuous attempts to appease a new audience, something I fight like hell not to do with my words, but when a new person wants my words on their page – well – I sometimes forget that my biggest strength as a writer is my voice.

It’s easy to get wrapped up in what we should be doing. Are my metaphors up to snuff? Have I sufficiently combined both long and short sentences to avoid monotony? Are my darlings dead?

So easy, in fact, it’s really difficult to keep your voice intact when you’re trying to write the next great American anything. I mean, honestly, why do we have to believe our writing is worthy of such praise anyway? Can’t we just let it be what it is and reach who it’s supposed to?

When I started writing my first (and only, right now) memoir, I convinced myself I needed to prove I could write a damn-good book to my former colleagues, my former students, my haters. Instead of writing in a stylistically complimentary way, I did what I thought I *should* do, and it took me 6 months to remove my head from my ass.

And I doubt I ever really “proved my prose.”Lindsay - Self Sabotage

That’s when I realized something:

My talent isn’t in using elevated language or literary devices. It’s in speaking to my audience as if they are sitting on this couch with me, fuming at the thought of having their bangs plastered to their foreheads the second they step outside, certain their upper lips will sweat instantly, too. They hear which words are emphasized because I’m serving up stories like a sermon. They trust me because I’m honest, and that, my friends, needs no fluffing.

My truth, my realness, and my unapologetic stance on just being me is what sells me, not only as a writer, but I’m fairly certain it’s what brings amazing people into my life, too.

Instead of sitting still and telling myself I can’t get good enough words out, I’m talking about it, writing this post like it’s exactly what’s meant to come from me today. No other words matter, no other projects take precedence.

We all deserve to find our strengths as writers and play to them. It doesn’t mean you can’t learn and grow through writing more, but if your fear of being inadequate freezes up production then it’s time to go back to your roots and remember why you fell in love with writing in the first place.

For me? It was catharsis: a chance to purge emotion and connect with others who understand.

Self-sabotage is the old friend we haven’t let go of because they’ve been around too long. You might know it doesn’t serve you but you can’t cut ties because you’re bonded. Trust me on this, that shit is toxic and turns you away from the things you love most.

Divorce it.

Dig deep.

Write whatever the hell you want.

_________________________________________________________________

Lindsay Fischer HeadshotAfter surviving domestic violence (and three years of trauma therapy), Lindsay Fischer saw an opportunity to use her voice against abuse, blogging as Sarafina Bianco since 2009. She revealed her identity in 2015 when her memoir, The House on Sunset, was released, and she now speaks on behalf of trauma survivors on national stages.

Website: http://www.survivorswillbheard.com

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/linsfischer

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/survivorswillbeheard

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Filed under Blogging, Guest Post, Life, Literary, Literature, Published, Writing

Guest Post: This is the Reason Writing Your Story Helps You Thrive by Rachel Thompson


Photo source: Unsplash.com/Milada Vigerova

Photo source: Unsplash.com/Milada Vigerova

I tell people right away that I’m a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, but I didn’t used to. I held that shame and fear of judgment in tightly for years, a filmy veil of anxiety separating me from everyone else. I didn’t feel I could really get close to friends or even lovers, always holding back this ugly secret. If anyone saw the real me, the tainted, used me, they wouldn’t want to pursue any kind of relationship.

It’s a common mindset after trauma – to be in victim mode and not even realize it. Total nonsense, of course, because I’m awesome. Ha! But this is what shame tells you, one of many horrific stories we learn to believe.

Therapy and meds helped me a lot to overcome those lies, but the damage is incredibly deep, it never truly leaves us. I moved from victim to survivor, but it took a lot of work, and if I’m totally honest with you right now, I still argue with myself sometimes; I minimize, or tell myself that it could’ve been worse, which is just so incredibly fucked up. How much worse would it have to be? I was only 11 when a man stole away my childhood…and then he came back for more.

Photo Source: Unsplash.com/Cathryn Lavery

Photo Source: Unsplash.com/Cathryn Lavery

Eventually, I found the courage to write and share my story, despite the voices in my head telling me to shut the hell up, that nobody would care to read about yet another victim, that talking about something that happened 30-plus years ago would be seen by total strangers as a pathetic bid for attention (when truly, who cares? It’s my story, dammit, and I matter).

I moved beyond surviving into thriving. Writing, no publishing, my story, became such a huge part of my recovery, I truly had no idea the impact on so many others and myself.

That’s where I changed my paradigm and fooled that wretched little voice: I made friends with Shame. She’s been with me longer than almost anyone, and she has a lot to say, too. So, I let her speak, and Broken Pieces was born. I released it in 2013 and it’s still #1 on Amazon’s Women’s Poetry list, #2 on Women Authors, and Top 20 in all of Memoirs, which blows me away.

It’s won gosh, like 10 awards, but more importantly gave rise to a huge community of survivors, and that means more to me than anything else! #SexAbuseChat (every Tuesday at 6pm pst/9pm est) on Twitter with survivor and licensed therapist Bobbi Parish, the #NoMoreShame Project Anthologies (published by the Gravity Imprint of Booktrope), and a 100+ person strong private survivor support group I moderate on Facebook are all the result of that first book. So is the Gravity Imprint!

Broken Places followed in 2015, with more amazing reviews, awards, and top rankings. I’m writing the final Broken book now, Broken People, for a Winter release from Booktrope. Apparently, Shame still has more to say.

I’m still just as busy as ever with writing, business, publishing, my advocacy work for other survivors, and most importantly, being a mom. Beyond surviving, I’m now thriving, though with occasional triggers, I stumble my way back.

My kids vaguely know something bad happened when I was younger – my son will be 11 in September. He’s very protective of his mama, and I love that about him. I’m raising him to be respectful of all women, including his almost-17-year-old sister with whom he bickers constantly over the Xbox and Squeakers, our girl cat. He has a lot of females in the house to learn from!

The lessons are there, though, and that’s what matters; I tell them both often, “you get what you give, and you give what you get.” Give mad, get mad; give compassion, get compassion. Him: Give money, get money? Me: Welcome to Capitalism (and book marketing).

I survived, and now I thrive, because I give what I get.

**********************************************

Rachel-Thompson1Rachel Thompson is the author of newly released Broken Places (one of IndieReader’s “Best of 2015” top books and 2015 Honorable Mention Winner in the San Francisco Book Festival), and the multi award-winning Broken Pieces, as well as two additional humor books, A Walk In The Snark and Mancode: Exposed. Rachel is published and represented by Booktrope.

She owns BadRedhead Media, creating effective social media and book marketing campaigns for authors. Her articles appear regularly in The Huffington Post, The San Francisco Book Review (BadRedhead Says…), 12Most.com, bitrebels.com, BookPromotion.com, and Self-Publishers Monthly.

Not just an advocate for sexual abuse survivors, Rachel is the creator and founder of the hashtag phenomenon #MondayBlogs and the live Twitter chat, #SexAbuseChat, co-hosted with certified therapist/survivor, Bobbi Parish. She is also the director of the Gravity Imprint for Booktrope, bringing stories of trauma and recovery (fiction and nonfiction) to life. Read more about the Gravity authors and their books here.

She hates walks in the rain, running out of coffee, and coconut. She lives in California with her family.

Author Site: rachelintheoc.com
BadRedhead Media Site: badredheadmedia.com
Twitter: @RachelintheOC
Twitter (Business): @BadRedheadMedia
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorRachelThompson
Facebook Broken Pieces Fan Page:https://www.facebook.com/BrokenPiecesByRachelThompson
Facebook (Business): https://www.facebook.com/BadRedheadMedia
Google+: https://plus.google.com/+RachelThompson/
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/rachelintheoc/
Instagram: https://instagram.com/rachelintheoc/
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/rachel-thompson/24/784/b95
Goodreadshttp://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4619475.Rachel_Thompson
Author Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/j9oaH
BadRedhead Media Newsletter: 
http://eepurl.com/koN8r

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Filed under Anxiety, Blogging, Booktrope, Depression, Gravity Imprint, Guest Post, Life, Literary, Mental Health, Published, Survivors, Writing