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Sometimes when the well is dry, we need to seek inspiration. We need to hold it, be close to it and feel it. We need to let it rest its head on our shoulder or whisper in our ear. We need to pay attention to it and observe it, and we need to allow it to infiltrate our senses and consume us. We need to offer our truth and our commitment to it, and we need to impart and imprint who we are to the universe for it. We then need to nurture it and help it grow until we are ready to use it. And when we use it we should do so boldly and confidently, adding new links to this never ending inspirational chain by paying it forward and inspiring others.

Affecting change with who you are and the talents you have is the greatest gift you can give. So, seek inspiration, work hard to inspire others, and change the world.

The artist seeks inspiration and creates; that creation inspires and influences; that influence delights and inspires; and the world moves on …

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When you wish upon a star
Makes no difference who you are
Anything your heart desires
Will come to you.

I believe that when you wish upon a star, if you are sincere enough and trusting enough and hard working enough, your dream will come true.

You will find that the hardest thing about writing is … writing, and the hardest thing about dreaming is … believing.

Hard work and belief make dreams come true.

Surprised?

Well don’t be. It is such a common problem. Seriously. People want the reward without the work. I hear it all the time, ‘I want to write. I’m going to write. I will write.’

And each time when I ask, ‘Well, what have you done?’ Excuses are launched with timely precision and become more and more elaborate and more and more creative and in some ways like a story in itself, with plot twists, dramatic scenes, interesting dialogue and a main character with obstacles to overcome. Their noses grow until embarrassment reddens cheeks and honesty prevails, just like Pinnocchio.

I’ve been lucky enough to have several writing dreams come true. But I say to you, Writer, dreams and success comes with hard work. There are no short cuts. Listen to your conscience and let it guide you. It knows who you are.

So, if you like the idea of writing and being published but aren’t willing to work for it, then when you wish upon that star, you will sadly wish for who you are.
Writers write. Dreamers dream.

What do you wish for?

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“Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation of the first link on one memorable day.” 
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

I’m sure when Dickens sat down to write Great Expectations he really had no great expectations, except to achieve his daily routine of capturing thought to paper.

If there’s one thing I know for certain is that expectation from others will often lead to disappointment—wiping smiles, destroying hopes and weakening your power. It can be the killer of dreams and the master of hate.

However, expectation from yourself only fosters determination and resilience and ultimately success—instilling confidence, strengthening dreams and harnessing your power to full potential. The faster you learn this rule, Writer, the easier it will be for you to move forwards.

If you expect to write the next best seller, or expect to become rich and famous, or even be naive enough to expect that writing is as easy as sitting at a keyboard outpouring your ideas, then disappointment will come to you swiftly enough, swinging its hammer clumsily to knock you off your perch. And it will hurt.

If you expect difficulties, or expect challenges, or expect frustrations, then if they come to you, your likely response will be to grit your teeth, to dig deep and to strive harder to push through. When the going gets tough … well, you know the rest. Triumph will reign.

Experienced writers know this. They know when they set out to write that the task is daunting and the challenge great. But they also know that if they let expectations of being published, or praised, or rewarded enter their mind, it will override the truth of who they are. They are writers, driven to write for the enjoyment and inner fulfilment that comes with creating and sharing—that is their reward and that is their driving force. If they let the mountainous task of writing books scare them, there would be nothing to read.

So stop and take a minute and appreciate who you are and what you have. Enjoy your work and be grateful for being able to do what you love. Use your time to make a difference and let gratitude be the saviour of your soul. It’s the journey that matters; who cares about the destination.  Forget great expectations; make your own expectations great!

Out of my thoughts! You are part of my existence, part of myself.”

Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

What expectations do you have, Writer?

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The season to be jolly is over, the Christmas cheer has long dissipated, and the festivities have wrapped up with an almighty hooray as the children are gladly ushered back to school with their packed lunches, sharpened pencils, and expectations of new discoveries and learning, awaiting to envelope their curious minds. Meanwhile, the dreary rest slowly revert back to our usual selves—angry, cranky, grumpy, and with the weight of the daily grind and unrealistic expectations on our shoulders. Yes, it’s time to get back to work.

Nah! What am I saying? Writers are happy people, right? Hello?

If you are like me and have had a break from writing, then returning to your desk may feel foreign, like a journey to a place once visited a long time ago. Its familiarity welcomes you and yet you still have to reacquaint yourself, to navigate around your surroundings and discover with delight that all is where it was last time. Nothing has changed except your fresh view and rested mind. There is promise. You can feel it in the air. You look around. The landscape is filled with certainty and ideas are sprouted in thickets great and small like colourful flower gardens awaiting your attention. You can see your goals placed out far and wide—in reach and in consideration—and instincts tell you that any direction you choose to travel is the right way. You smile … remembering … knowing where your heart lies. There is love and passion and it surfaces with greater intensity and it fills you with happiness. It’s good to be back.

So, Writer, remember: Distance gives you clarity. New goals give you direction. Ideas surround you in abundance, and commitment brings you one step closer to achieving your dreams. So begin. One word at a time. Your place and your craft and your love are not forgotten; they can never be forgotten.

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Over the past few weeks, Death has surrounded me. She has held me, cried with me, and wiped my tears while the coffins lowered into the earth. We threw roses together and sobbed. She stood beside me and whispered her apologies in my ear. She spoke in her soft sweet voice reminding me to embrace the moment, to capture it, to keep it close, to keep it safe and to treasure it.

Death brings shock, tears and sadness. He brings an understanding to mortality and sometimes a revelation and an urgency to live life. He can bring emptiness and frustration and sometimes relief. Once in a while Death brings happiness and celebration, but mostly he brings reflection. He gives this to us, humbly offering it like a gift, imploring us to remember and enjoy, to use it to acknowledge the past while setting course to change and enhance our future.

As another birthday rolls by, blending time with maturity, bringing me closer to death, I imagine death to be like me, trying his best to work hard and to get through life as easily as possible, to be understood and accepted by those all around, and to be valued. But as with age, Death is certainty and certainty, nearer the end, eventually becomes easier to accept. So I’ve been told.

So, Writer, how will you use your gift, how will you use your time and how will you leave your mark?

Know that time is short and time is precious and your life and your talent can make a difference to the world and leave a lasting legacy. So stop procrastinating! Live your life and live your dreams. Pick up your pen, gather your thoughts, plot your future and write like there’s no tomorrow, because you just never know … well perhaps Death does.

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Manuscript: Hello? Hello.

I’m lookin’ for my writer.

Wait. Okay … okay … okay.

If this is where it has to happen, then this is where it has to happen.

I’m not letting you get rid of me. How about that?

This used to be my specialty. You know, I was good in a living room. They’d send me in there, and I’d do it alone. And now I just …

But tonight, I had a very big night—a very, very big night.

But it wasn’t complete, wasn’t nearly close to being in the same vicinity as complete, because I couldn’t share it with you.  I couldn’t hear your voice or laugh about it with you.  I miss my—.

We live in a cynical world, a cynical world, and we work in a business of tough competitors.

I love you.

You … complete me.

 

Your manuscript started with scattered ideas and thoughts swirling, colliding and melding in your mind. You’ve spent hours researching and planning. You’ve written from dusk till dawn, burnt the candle, and isolated yourself from the world for many moons. And now, finally, with the last sentence, the last word, the last full stop—it’s done—you’ve completed your first draft of your manuscript. You have an overwhelming feeling of relief and satisfaction, a smile of pride and accomplishment. You push your chair back from your desk, raise your hands in a humble triumphant salute and turn to acknowledge this achievement, but … there’s no one there. There’s never anyone there. Such is the life of a writer. Now what?

Whoa, backup! Is that a serious question?

Yes.

Well, I’ll tell you what … Get the champagne, call your friends and family because it’s time to celebrate and to party hard. Completing a manuscript is a big deal so treat it like a big deal because you deserve it. It’s not about being perfect because first drafts usually aren’t. They are flawed and rough, and that doesn’t matter because you’ve captured your idea and that’s what counts.

After celebrating, distance yourself from your manuscript for a few weeks so that when you return to it you are ready for a fresh approach. Only then can the real work begin—to reread, rework, and perhaps to rewrite—to edit, to remove unwanted passages and sentences, to look at structure and spelling, to improve on word choices, or character voices and to tighten language so that your manuscript can burst through that door and find you and look at you with that Jerry Maguire sincerity and proclaim those words that you have so longed to hear … no, not, Show me the money, but rather, You completed me!

Writer:  Shut up. Just shut up.

You had me at hello.

You had me at hello.

 

How do you celebrate your milestones?

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Do you write for yourself? Or, do you write for your readers?

Most writers, especially fiction writers, will tell you to write for yourself. If the story presents itself, or if you’ve got something inside that’s bursting to get out, then write it. If you try to write for your readers or publishers or fame and fortune, then you will lose that authenticity that is you, and chances are the book won’t do very well. Remember, you are the secret ingredient to making your work a success. Without your essence, your experiences, your feelings, your DNA, your work won’t mould together and come to life.

At my local library a panel of authors came together to advertise their books and to do book signings. Of the six authors, one was experienced with multiple books published, while the rest were first time self-published authors, and it showed. While the newbies shamefully plugged their merchandise like it was the revolutionary steak-knife-set, urging the modest crowd to trust and buy their product, the experienced author was measured and calm. The first timers hogged the microphone, spruiking their sales pitches, camouflaging their pleading with fake smiles, and it did nothing more than to turn me away—coming across lifeless and boring and desperate and instantly uninteresting, and sadly their books with their bold covers and interesting titles, did the same.

Now, hold on, hold on a minute! I’m not judging a book by its cover, okay. I’m judging it by its author … there’s a difference.

Now back to my guy. His words were injected with gratitude and passion for being a writer, and he voiced the daily struggle of fear and self doubt that plagues a job that requires you to write, write, write. He offered insights to his approach to the craft, the hurdles and the joys of writing for himself. He didn’t seem to care whether he made a single sale on his book, because at the end of the day that’s not what really matters, right? Creating and discovering, pondering and analysing, critiquing and polishing a humble idea to print and then offering it to readers is the reward. Well it should be. Love, enthusiasm and a positive energy always reflects admirably in your work and it certainly will in your sales.

So, my point is this … Write for yourself. You have to have passion for what you do. If you have passion for how much you’re going to make, then you’ll forever be trying to sell your work. Be professional. If you do book signings and publicity, talk about the craft, your idea and about your approach in trying to capture that idea. Don’t try and sell your idea to your readers. If you have the book in hand, then your idea has already been sold. If you’re passionate about your work and about writing then everything about you becomes interesting, and the writing will speak for itself.

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