First of all, I’d like to say thank you to everyone who reached out or left comments on my last post. I really appreciate you taking the time you comment here or on Facebook — and thank you in particular to those people who sent me emails or PMs letting me know how my post had helped them, or reminded them of their own struggles. I write articles like that one to help people understand what it’s like living with mental illness, in the hopes that it will help sufferers feel less alone, and bring understanding to the friends and family of sufferers. It makes me happy to know that, in some small way, my words have made a difference.
Despite the emotional turmoil and difficulties of the last six months, however, there are a number of things I achieved or attempted that I’m very proud of. And, today, I’d like tos hare them with you.
Being a contributor for Writer Unboxed, the best darn writing site on the web — and the best writing community anywhere — is a huge thrill, and I’m always deathly nervous and proud to be able to write an article for them. This year so far I’ve written six posts. I’d love for you to go check them out.
Overcoming Fear: On how to overcome fear when facing writing goals and resolutions — or, in fact, when facing anything.
Writing Supporting Characters the Matter: What can the movie Cast Away teach us about writing powerful supporting characters?
The Writer’s Mind: An Insatiable Appetite for Understanding: On asking questions, and how they help the writing process.
Writer vs. Storyteller: Are you a writer or a storyteller? And what’s the difference, anyway?
Writing When it’s not like a Movie: On writing when you have aphantasia, and some tips on writing descriptions that everyone can use.
In Defence of clichés: clichés get a bad rap, but are they all bad?
Study: The Final Frontier
After a twenty year break in formal study, I also decided to return to University this year. (Thank goodness I live in a country where I don’t have to pay for Uni up front!) So in February I started a degree in Sociology, with a minor in English Literature.
I completely underestimated the time it would take to study — because underestimating time is kinda my thing — but it was an absolutely amazing experience to test my mind in new and exciting directions. I loved, loved, loved studying Sociology, and can’t wait to get back into it next semester. In the future, my plan is to take my knowledge of sociology and apply it to things like pop culure and the publishing industry.
My results have been way better than I anticipated, too. I was kinda expecting that I’d struggle a bit with formal study, if only because I’d been out of it for so very long. But I averaged 88% in all my assessment, which is a wonderful feeling.
Teaching is the New Black
Last year I started teaching novel-writing to a small group of local writers. It went incredibly well, and so this year I started running my course again with three beginning writers. The program is one I developed based on what I wish I’d learned in the first six months of my writing apprenticeship — but that actually took me close to ten years to get my head around. It runs over six months, with weekly meetings to discuss progress and learn a new element of novel-writing.
Unlike most writing courses, it’s not really focused on improving your writing on a sentence-by-sentence level. Instead, the aim of the course is to (a) create a regular, life-long writing routine, and (b) teach new writers to finish what they start. The classes are focused largely on support, accountability, and community, and teach narrative structure, story vs plot, strong characterisation, and the craft of writing.
I’m currently in the process of working out how to take te program and convert it into an online writing course — something I can offer to people all over the world, rather than just the beginning writers in my local community. Watch this space!
Author in Progress
On November 1st this year, the first Writer Unboxed book is due to be released. Author in Progress: A No-Holds-Barred Guide to What it Really Takes to Get Published is a book of over 50 essays by Writer Unboxed contributors, guiding writers through the process of creating a novel, from pre-writing, through the writing process, and beyond to publication.
I am very excited to be the author of one of the essays in this book. I’m in the most amazing company, amongst best-selling novelists, editors, agents and lots, lots more. You can pre-order the book here, and read more about how it came to be here.
The Future’s So Bright…
Even at times of incredible darkness, there is still plenty of light — we just have to open our eyes and see it. Or, as my nine-year-old says: “The sky is always blue, sometimes we just can’t see it because there are clouds in the way.”
I’ve been through hell and back over the last six months, but I’ve also had some of the most amazing opportunities and experiences.
What have you achieved this year so far that you’re proud of? Let me know what you’ve been doing, and what your future holds. Let’s blow those clouds away!