On Depression and Writing | by Derek Haines

A fascinating insight on depression and writing, by Derek Haines:

Is there a connection between depression and writing?

The diagnosis

Some years ago now, I clearly recall my doctor telling me that there was a definitive link between depression and writing. The only problem with his link was that he had no idea at all if writers became depressed through writing, or if depression miraculously manufactured writers.

So why was I at my doctor at that time talking about depression and writing? Well, to cut a long story short, within the space of six short months I had lost my parents, both very suddenly, my very best friend died due to a long-term disease, another friend was killed on a pedestrian crossing, oh, and just add some spice, my business failed, and I was diagnosed with cancer. Yes, it was a very busy six months.

During my regular consultations with my doctor at that time, he also discovered from a blood test that I had suffered from an undiagnosed case of glandular fever, or mononucleosis, during the same six months.

So, all things considered, I had a good solid list of reasons to be feeling a bit under the weather at that time.

I hate the word depression

I dislike the word depression intensely, as, from my experience, when you have this affliction, the symptoms don’t relate at all well with the word. Constant joint pain, muscle cramps, insomnia, headaches, fatigue, waking up feeling exhausted, difficulty with concentration, digestive problems and loss of appetite are some of the symptoms I suffered, but during my illness, I rarely felt sad, blue, morose and never once did I have suicidal feelings. I didn’t feel depressed. I just felt unwell.

When people around you know that you are being treated for this ill-described condition, they always ask the same pathetic question, which by itself can drive one crazy.

“Are you okay?”

The only logical reply becomes an auto-response.

“I’ll be okay.” (That’s what you want me to say, isn’t it?)

Back to the bit about writing

The only reason I mention all of this now is that during that tough time, and then over the following year or more of treatment for, well, let’s call it melancholia for want of a better word, I wrote like a crazy. I think I wrote six novels.

Productive? Well, I didn’t have much else to do, did I?

Except to prove that my doctor’s link between depression and writing was correct.

That was all many years ago now, and I can happily report that I am completely, totally and utterly normal and healthy. Um, ok, normal may be stretching the truth a little, as I have never been good at that, so I guess I should say that I have been back to my abnormal self again for quite a few years.

But …

I am left with one small problem.

In that one year of being treated for the dreaded word, I wrote so damn well. Probably because I had little to do other than write. But now, I have a lot of trouble getting even close to writing as well as I did back then. Of all the books I have written, three that I wrote in that year are still my best sellers.

The only solution I can see to my new problem is to make an appointment with my doctor and ask him to put me back on those bloody pills right now. I want to write another great new book!

No! There’s no link at all between depression and writing, is there?

Via https://www.justpublishingadvice.com/on-depression-and-writing

Can You Pass A 3rd Grade Grammar Test? | Fun For Writers

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It’s the weekend – so how about a little bit of fun?

You’re a writer, avid reader, or adult person who passed English when they were at school, you aren’t stupid, in fact, you would say you’re quite bright.

So, here’s a challenge for you. Do you think you could pass this 3rd Grade Grammar Test?

Follow this link and give it a go, if you think you’re clever enough: Can-you-pass-a-third-grade-grammar-test?

And when you’re done, feel free to pop back and post your results here!

7 Must Do Tasks When Your Manuscript is Finished

Manuscript

Your manuscript is finished – so now what?

You’ve sent it off to your editor, proofreader or beta readers, so you can kick your shoes off and relax, right?

No way! You’ve got a lot of work to do.

There are 7 very important tasks you can get to work on while your finished manuscript is in the hands of others, and you will be so busy, you won’t have time to worry about how long your beta readers take in getting back to you.

So, let’s get you to work. (You can follow the links in each section for more detailed information.)

1. Research your book title

Your book title is going to be more important than anything else in attracting potential readers, so it is time to do some serious research into it. You might love your working title, but that means nothing until you are certain it is going to work. You need to know how to find a great book title that is unique, and will attract readers’ interest.

Not only that, you (could, should, ought to) have a sub-title. Why? Because your title and sub-title are your most important pieces of metadata, and metadata is what is used by the Internet and Amazon in their search algorithms. A title and sub-title that are highly searchable will attract more people to your book. More on metadata later.

The most important issue when deciding on your book title is to make sure it is as unique as possible. Joining a long list of books with the same or a very similar title is not going to get you many sales.

2. Get a killer cover.

No, don’t even think of creating your book cover yourself unless you are a graphic designer and an expert with Photoshop. Get a cover or a series of covers designed professionally (but stay within your budget). Great book covers are second only to your title in importance, so don’t take cheap shortcuts.

One simple factor that is often overlooked when deciding on a book cover is how it will look as a small thumbnail image. This is what potential book buyers see first, so it is vitally important that your cover is just as appealing as a thumbnail as it is in full size.

Do your research again, and check the top selling books in your genre to see what their covers are like, and again, how appealing and eye catching they look in small sizes. Another factor to check is the colours that are used by popular books in your genre. You may get a surprise here, as many popular genres use a very small range of colours. For example: Think ‘chic-lit’ – Pastel pinks, blues and green.

3. Write your book description.

Yes, I know. Every author hates this task. However, it must be done, and again, it is going to be a vital part of your book’s metadata so it needs to be extremely well written. Writing a great book description is not an easy task, but again, check top selling books in your genre and make a few notes. Unlike your book of thousands of words, your book description needs to hook a reader’s interest inside 15 seconds, or 150 words. It should be longer of course, but those first words and seconds are the most important of all.

4. Research your categories and keywords.

Without these seven elements, your book will be lost, so choose them extremely carefully. These, along with your book title are the most important pieces of metadata, and researched and selected well, they will allow readers to find your book. They are so important that their power to sell books is greater than you can achieve with paid advertising, blogging or social media. You can expect to have an online audience of your own numbering in the hundreds or thousands. But your carefully selected categories and keywords will give you access to millions of online book buyers.

5. Start your book promotion.

Do not wait until your book is finally published to get the word out about your new book. Build some momentum through your blog and social media and give your audience information about why, how, where and when you wrote your book. If you have a selection of cover ideas, why not ask for opinions on which one people like? Involve your online audience and keep them informed of your progress.

6. Plan your book launch.

Will you make your book available by pre-order? Will you purchase paid advertising? Will you make your book exclusive, or will you open publish? Ask your beta readers for their book reviews so you can add them to your book sales page. Plan ahead and ask book bloggers if they would be willing to help you with your book launch. Do you want to do a virtual book tour? Do not press the publish button without planning your launch. You only get once chance to launch your book, so plan it carefully and well in advance.

7. Decide on your price.

Setting the price for your ebook and/or paperback is crucial. Having a clear book pricing strategy is not as simple as it sounds. There are many factors to consider, such as competitiveness in various geographic markets, differential between ebook and paperback, as well as pricing for turnover or pricing for profit. Book prices are never set in concrete, so think about when you might discount, or increase the price. Are you going to offer a free ebook, and on what schedule? Should you increase your price before offering your ebook for free, and then reduce it afterwards? Again, do some research and write a brief pricing plan for your new book.

With all this work to do, you won’t have time to worry about when your manuscript will come back to you for your last read through and edit before publishing. You will be far too busy, won’t you?

Via :https://www.justpublishingadvice.com/7-must-do-manuscript-tasks

Procrastination: Why Writers Do It

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“The thing all writers do best is find ways to avoid writing.” – Alan Dean Foster

For us writers procrastinating can easily become an occupational hazard. It’s very common for us to go out of our way to avoid writing; with procrastination being an enemy of productivity.

When blogger and journalist Megan McArdle researched the topic one of her colleagues told her:

“Well, first, I put it off for two or three weeks. Then I sit down to write. That’s when I get up and go clean the garage. After that, I go upstairs, and then I come back downstairs and complain to my wife for a couple of hours. Finally, but only after a couple more days have passed and I’m really freaking out about missing my deadline, I ultimately sit down and write.”

Sound familiar? Steven Pressfield the author of War of Art believes it’s a form of resistance. In his book he identifies the enemy all of us must face. There is a naysayer within all of us that prevents us from achieving our goals. Whether it be writing a novel, or painting a masterpiece. Pressfield then continues to outline a battle plan to conquer our internal foes.

For many of us this foe can be procrastination. Truthfully there are a million reasons we lack the motivation or inspiration to fill our blank pages and we’re all different, but here are a couple of common ones:

Because we’re afraid

Fear is one of the biggest reasons we procrastinate. Dr. Carol Dweck, a psychologist studying motivation at Stanford University believes that writers are often paralysed by the prospect of writing something that isn’t very good. However, the fear of turning in nothing by a deadline usually outweighs the fear of handing in something terrible. Dr. Dweck believes this is because we regard our failures as growth because when we’re failing, we’re learning. It’s also believed that the “fear of being unmasked as the incompetent you ‘really’ are is so common it actually has a clinical name: Imposter Syndrome“. We spend so much time worrying our writing won’t be good enough, but we need to remember that at the end of the day we’re always our own worst critics and our fears are usually unwarranted. You can find out more on her thoughts in Why writers are the worst procrastinators.

Because we lack inspiration

When we don’t know what to write or we lack inspiration, our motivation can be severely impaired inhibiting our potential to create the art we we’re destined to produce. As mentioned above, sometimes this lack of inspiration stems from our desire to be perfect, but all you need is an idea. Once you have an idea you have the potential to create something amazing.

To overcome a lack of inspiration you need to actively engage with what you’re doing. If you’re writing a book about a prison go interview some inmates or correctional officers, or go visit a prison so you can get the feel for what you’re writing about by submerging yourself in the world of your writing. Sometimes you need a change of scenery, or just a short break. There’s a million different ways to get inspired but we all do this differently, Psychology Today have some good examples in their article ‘Lacking Motivation and Inspiration? 5 Secrets to Get Unstuck’ with everything from finding a muse, to shattering your self doubts, these ideas can help you find some much needed inspiration.

Identifying methods of procrastination

According to author Joanna Penn, procrastinating takes many forms. It isn’t  just playing a dozen games of angry birds, it often looks more like this:

  • Reading blogs about writing
  • Buying more books about writing
  • Tidying your desk so that you’ll be ready to write… really soon…!
  • Hanging out with other writers (offline or online) and talking about writing.

We spend a lot of time thinking about writing without actually writing, this is a key sign of procrastination and we need to use this knowledge to our advantage.

How to fight it

Being well versed in the art of procrastination is understandable given the culture of constant distraction we live in, but procrastination can be an important part of the writing process.

“It’s folly, what we do, if you think about it – to make something out of nothing, to spin a story or an argument, to ask a reader to give up his or her time and share with us a fantasy, a dream, a conversation, to seize the moment (for a moment) and try to hold it before it slips away”- David Ulin on procrastination as a creative tool.

Procrastination is often used as a defence mechanism, an idea and a blank page is perfect, but once we begin putting that idea into words that perfection can dwindle leaving us raw and exposed. We use it as a strategy for mitigating fear and anxiety.

To overcome this fear we need to follow the advice Annie Dillard provides in her work The Writing Life and understand that we need to write in spite of problems we may encounter. The tension between what we wish for and what we achieve can only be overcome if we work to achieve something. After all Hemmingway himself claimed “The first draft of anything is shit” but as writers we work to overcome this by re-drafting and editing.

If you are stuck in the procrastination bubble, here is some further reading that might help you break free:

Via: http://writersedit.com/writers-procrastinate/

Interview with an Editor: What They Really Do and Why

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Kristin Prescott Speaks to Editor Extraordinaire Jody Lee

Being published is the holy grail of writing, whether it is in a print book, e-book, magazine or online, but authors are rarely alone on the long journey to get there. Whether traditional or self-published, one of a writer’s most important supporters is the editor. They’re often invisible to a reader, especially if they do their job right, but nonetheless play a crucial role in the development of a story and much more.

Jody Lee is one of Australia’s best. She’s been involved in publishing for more than fifteen years including work as an associate publisher, commissioning editor and project editor for Simon & Schuster, Random House and ABC Books.

She is now a freelance editor working with major trade publishing houses including Allen and Unwin, Harlequin, HarperCollins, Penguin Random House, University of Queensland Press and self-published authors who appreciate a dose of good editing.

How did you first get involved in editing and publishing?

I originally thought I wanted to be a journalist and managed to get a cadetship with The Age in Melbourne. Then I realised I didn’t have the chutzpah to interview people. I did a stint as a legal editor and on a whim applied for a job at Random House as an editorial assistant working with the legendary children’s publishers Mark MacLeod and Lindsay Knight. It was one of those moments where a love of reading, of books, hanging around with people who loved books as much as I did and mucking around with words all coalesced.

What exactly does an editor do?

No, they are not people who are able to use the grammar and spell-check in a word processing program. If only it was so easy. An editor essentially works with text to shape it into something that is presentable, readable and accessible and that is just the beginning. There is so much more that comes with the editor label. It is equal parts diplomat, nurturer, psychologist, hand-holder, sounding-board, whipping post, cook and bottle washer (maybe not the last two but you get the idea).

So what does an editor really do? Editing is a science and an art. There is a basic architecture to every book, and if the author has a wobbly narrative leg or an insufficient thesis to stand on, the editor must find the blueprint or create one. Every writer has their own rhythms, from sentence structure to the length of the paragraphs and chapters. The editor must help the author use that form to its most powerful effect. Editing is getting inside the text, and inevitably into a writer’s head, to understand the point the writer wants to get across. Editors provide guidance and build trust through careful attention to the pages and encourage a writer, either a first-timer or a seasoned pro, to continue taking risks with their writing and push them beyond what they think they are capable of.

Why do you think many writers, particularly those self-publishing, don’t put great emphasis on editing?

Editing is not a particularly tangible or visible element in book publishing. People know of editors, they have a vague idea of what they do but an editor tends to work in the background. The editing process is invisible and un-reproducible. There is no physical way of measuring the benefits of editing in financial or best-seller terms, and no one will ever recognise good editorial work, which is really the point of editing. So in terms of self-publishing where costs are being taken into account, the cost of editing seems to be one of the things that are rationalised out of the equation. The budget usually swings in favour of cover design, marketing or publicity – the ‘physical’ and more glamorous elements of book publishing.

You’ve worked for some of the biggest Australian publishing houses. What benefits are there to having a manuscript edited professionally before sending it to a publisher for consideration?

Getting your manuscript edited professionally before submitting it to a publisher is an expensive exercise. It is not going to guarantee a publishing contract and if your manuscript is picked up it will be edited according to a publisher’s brief. That said, the manuscript needs to be in the best possible shape before you decide to submit it as you usually get one shot at a pitch to a publisher. If you need professional and objective feedback on your manuscript, get it assessed by a reputable manuscript assessment agency first. Family and friends giving feedback don’t really cut it and everyone might ultimately end up in tears. If, after a manuscript assessment, you really feel that you want someone to edit, find a good editor who will give you honest feedback and talk you through the type of editing you think you might be after.

So someone has decided to hire you as an editor. What are some of the most common issues you find yourself having to work through with the author?

Issues for both contracted and self-published authors can be very similar. For first-timers it is usually things like structure and pace, balancing that light and shade in the unfolding of a story to keep a reader hooked. Characterisation can be tricky as most authors know their characters so well and are familiar with them. Working on layering and developing the characters will feed into the dynamics of dialogue and character interaction. Keeping the author focused on their reader – who they are and what they might like in the story – is also important.

How far do you suggest an author goes with their manuscript before sending it to a publisher?

An author needs to feel that their manuscript is as good as it possibly can be. If there are niggling doubts about certain things in the plot, the voice is a little wobbly or there is a character that doesn’t ring true or the ending doesn’t quite sing to you, then go back and look at the manuscript. Again, you only get one shot at submission and you want to give yourself the best possible chance. Don’t rush getting your manuscript finished; take a breath and put the manuscript away for a period of time and then go back and look at it again. You will be amazed at how liberating it is to take another look when you shift your head away from it for a bit. Don’t feel that after the first or second draft you are good to go. One commercially successful author I worked with does up to 50 plus drafts of each of his manuscripts to make sure he is completely happy with what he submits. I’m not suggesting that many, but revise, self-edit and revise again. An underdone manuscript is like heading out the door with your skirt tucked into the back of your undies.

We’re seeing a big increase in the number of authors opting for digital and/or self-publishing avenues to get their books out there. How do you see the future of publishing playing out?

Publishing in all its forms is sitting on a pretty exciting precipice. There is either the urge to jump and think about what will happen when you hit the bottom but there is also the possibility that one might fly. Digital publishing works for both traditional publishing houses and self-publishing in that some books and particular genres work well in digital form only. The add-on of digital makes getting hold of a book so much faster and easier. Self-publishing opens up the options for writers to bypass the big conglomerate publishing houses and some well-known authors have stepped away from the conventional publishing model to try self-publishing.

Much has been said about the death of the book, the decline in good writing and the glut of lightweight or fly-by-night books being published. I think that has always been the case, it is just that things are moving far more quickly and change is always a little scary. There are more possibilities than ever for writers to get their work out into the world on different platforms. With that comes some wriggle room for writers to be a bit more experimental, enabling them to think beyond the boundaries and conventions of the traditional publishing model.

What is the most important piece of advice you have for an aspiring author?

Writing is a serendipitous thing. Timing plays a big part in the lucky breaks for a writer but there is also the notion that it is an organic process that is always changing, shifting, developing and learning. If a writer feels they have the writing gig down pat then their writing will never change. Read, read and read! A writer needs to read widely and constantly. Strangely, I have come across people who write but don’t read and it always shows in their work.

***

If this article has made you think that perhaps you could do with using some Editorial Services, please consider sending your work to me – I would be more than happy to help you. For details of what I have already done and info on what I can do, check out my credentials here: Abigayle Blood: Editorial Services

Via: http://writersedit.com/kristin-prescott-speaks-to-editor-extraordinaire-jody-lee/

The 25 Best Quotes About Authors

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The 25 Best Quotes About Authors

A writer never has a vacation. For a writer life consists of either writing or thinking about writing. ~Eugene Ionesco

All writers are vain, selfish and lazy, and at the very bottom of their motives lies a mystery. Writing a book is a long, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand. ~George Orwell

A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people. ~Thomas Mann

Writers and artists know that ethereal moment, when just one, fleeting something–a chill, an echo, the click of a lamp, a question—-ignites the flame of an entire work that blazes suddenly into consciousness. ~Nadine C. Keels

But writers and their woes: they couldn’t be parted. Not for anything. ~Naomi Wood

To say that a writer’s hold on reality is tenuous is an understatement – it’s like saying the Titanic had a rough crossing. Writers build their own realities, move into them and occasionally send letters home. The only difference between a writer and a crazy person is that a writer gets paid for it. ~David Gerrold

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Authors must spend months, years making fantasy believable in a single work while reality runs rampant and complete chaos elsewhere. ~Don Roff

A good novel tells us the truth about its hero; but a bad novel tells us the truth about its author. ~G.K. Chesterton

Authors were shy, unsociable creatures, atoning for their lack of social aptitude by inventing their own companions and conversations. ~Agatha Christie

There is no idea so brilliant or original that a sufficiently-untalented writer can’t screw it up. ~Raymond E. Feist

Good writers define reality; bad ones merely restate it. A good writer turns fact into truth; a bad writer will, more often than not, accomplish the opposite. ~Edward Albee

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A story is a letter that the author writes to himself, to tell himself things that he would be unable to discover otherwise. ~Carlos Ruiz Zafón

If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favour you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy. ~Dorothy Parker

Authors like cats because they are such quiet, lovable, wise creatures, and cats like authors for the same reasons. ~Robertson Davies

What I like in a good author is not what he says, but what he whispers. ~Logan Pearsall Smith

I’m the kind of writer that people think other people are reading. ~V. S. Naipaul

It’s better not to know authors personally, because the real person never corresponds to the image you form of him from reading his books. ~Italo Calvino

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The only reason for being a professional writer is that you just can’t help it. ~Leo Rosten

The writer has little control over personal temperament, none over historical moment, and is only partly in charge of his or her own aesthetic. ~Julian Barnes

Either a writer doesn’t want to talk about his work, or he talks about it more than you want. ~Anatole Broyard

I suspect that most authors don’t really want criticism, not even constructive criticism. They want straight-out, unabashed, unashamed, fulsome, informed, naked praise, arriving by the shipload every fifteen minutes or so. ~Neil Gaiman

The historian records, but the novelist creates. ~E. M. Forster

Crippled and crazy, we hobble toward the finish line, pen in hand. ~Siri Hustvedt

Via: http://writerswrite.co.za/the-25-best-quotes-about-authors

Should I Self Publish And Give Up My Day Job?

A recent report from Author Earnings confirms that self-published titles are gaining enormous traction in the book market, and in particular, e-book sales. From humble and amateur beginnings only a few short years ago, Indie publishing has reduced the Big Five publishers to only 16% of the Amazon e-book market. While the data is only drawn from Amazon sales, their market dominance is so large that one can easily believe that it represents a trend across the whole publishing industry. But does this mean you can write a book, get rich and say, ‘I’ll give up my day job?’

With this information, it might be easy to conclude that self-publishing, or Indie publishing as it is often called now, is turning into a gold mine for authors. So should you give up your day job, write a book, and instantly become a rich Indie author? Well, no, yes and no.

Self-publishing isn’t easy to define

Self-publishing is not a singular definition. There are many so facets to it and while there are certainly a number authors who work all day and write all night and make a decent side income from self-publishing, there are also those who have tried to make it a full-time career, but failed to make more than a few dollars a month in their first year, so gave up. There are the hobby authors who appreciate the opportunity to publish, but are not dreaming of making a lot of money from their passion but do make a little money each month. Then there are those who think that by tapping out a few words and loading it up onto Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) will make them a killing. Within this group are scammers, Internet marketers and dreamers, and without being unkind, writers who have trouble even spelling the word, writer. Yet they are a very real and important component of self-publishing, as it is the freedom to publish that is at the very heart of this new form of publishing.

At the top of the list, though, are the professional self-publishers, who are a different breed of author to those I listed before. They treat it as a business and invest heavily in book launches, promotion, advertising and media placement. They are often authors who have been published traditionally in the past but have grasped the opportunity to earn far more than was being offered by their agents and publishers, by using their established author brand to self-publish and self-promote their new titles.

Then there is the new grey area, which is Small Press. These can range from well-established specialist traditional publishers, down to one self-published author who uses his or her knowledge and experience of publishing a few books on KDP to help other authors to self-publish. This is becoming more and more common, as those who often have little or no computer knowledge seek free or inexpensive help in getting their book published.

While the report by Author Earnings paints a very rosy unit sales picture of self-publishing against traditional publishing, it doesn’t offer any real information regarding Vanity Publishing.

As the Big Five all have vanity publishing wings now, are these books classed as self-published? There is also no breakdown of the sales data to know which segment of self-publishing is making the most inroads. My instinctive gut guess would be that those who have considerable publishing industry knowledge and acumen would stand the best chance of success. Self-publishing may be new, but publishing is not. The basics remain the same.

So by all means, take the opportunity to use self-publishing to express yourself, get that manuscript that has been gathering dust for years out into the marketplace, and when you have finished, write another book. But give up your day job? No. Not if you only plan to open a Twitter account, a Facebook Page and then believe that your book will sell like hot cakes, without a pound of investment.

Self-publishing is now a very big business with huge potential market. Don’t get too carried away by the suffix in front of the word publishing. Self-publishing is still publishing and that has always been a tough business, even when you know what you’re doing. Just ask the Big Five.

Via: https://www.justpublishingadvice.com/should-i-self-publish-and-give-up-my-day-job