Overcoming self-doubt as a writer, Shelley Wilson Writing Mentor, Writing Community
Writing Tips

Overcoming Self-Doubt as a Writer #WritingTips

Overcoming Self-Doubt as a Writer

Oh boy! Have I picked a difficult topic to tackle!

What the devil is self-doubt? In basic terms it’s ‘a lack of confidence in yourself and your own abilities.’ When you read that single sentence, it doesn’t sound so bad. However, if you’ve ever ‘felt’ the physical and emotional reactions of self-doubt then I’m sure you’ll agree that there’s nothing basic about it.

It’s worth noting that a smidge of self-doubt is acceptable, after all, we need to learn that we’re not always going to be right – yes, I’m talking to my kids here! If you ever want to relate to other people (aka: play nice) then you must develop the skills to reflect on your thoughts and actions.

If those thoughts and actions prevent you from leaving your home or picking up a pen to write then you’ve stepped into dangerous self-doubt territory. Chronic self-doubt is when you look at a piece of work you’ve written and believe it to be a pile of crap, this then spirals into feelings of failure, a lack of motivation, unworthiness, no direction…and on and on.

We’ve all had days where a chapter, poem, short story, or even a blog post has felt wrong. It doesn’t flow, your grammar sucks, and the idea you have in your head has in no way transferred to the page. The fabulous #WritingCommunity on Twitter thrive on lifting fellow scribes up when they’ve had a dire writing day, but how can you do this for yourself?

First, you need to recognise the triggers that show you’re slipping into a dangerous self-doubt zone. Once you know them it’s easier to turn your mindset from negative to positive. Have you heard yourself saying any of the following?

  • I can’t…
  • I should…
  • I’m useless.

In my latest non-fiction book, Self-Help for the Helpless (which is with my publisher awaiting a release date) I’ve dedicated an entire chapter to taking the word ‘should’ out of your vocabulary. It’s incredible how one tiny word can leave you so powerless.

  • I should be writing 4000 words a day.
  • I should be blogging every week.
  • I should have an agent by now.
  • I should be successful.

STOP! I don’t know about you, but my energy levels have just dropped after reading those four sentences.

Our virtual life doesn’t help with any self-doubt issues. When we see the happy publication day pictures on social media of fellow authors surrounded by crowds of well-wishers, bottles of champagne, and a stack of books to sign, it’s natural to feel a flutter of resentment/jealousy/pain. That doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate a publication day! I’m a nightmare at remembering to celebrate – on my last publication day I did a big shop at Tesco and treated myself to a bacon roll! If I was organised enough then I might arrange a party and invite my family and friends, splash out on own brand bubbles, and order some stock books just in case anyone wants to buy a copy – because that’s what the perfect social media image photo usually is – staged.

90% of our online life is staged. We share the best of ourselves and our life. Scrolling through a never ending feed of joy, success, new baby, new love, weddings, holidays, promotions, etc, should lift us up as we celebrate the amazing achievements of our family and friends. However, when self-doubt is lurking in the peripheral then that news feed will only make you feel more disconnected.

If you’ve written a book then shout about it from the rooftop! There’s a difference between bragging and acknowledging hard work. When we doubt our abilities, we will automatically see it as coming from an ego state. Remind yourself that it’s good to be proud of what you’ve done.

In my writing world, I’ve begun to appreciate that isolation is my arch nemesis. Left alone with my thoughts for too long and I’ll quickly slide into the self-doubt swamp. By taking myself off to write in a coffee shop I can substantially change my mindset. That was the main factor behind launching my Accountability Club. I wanted to give fellow writers of all abilities and publication stage a safe space to work on their book projects, or their blog content surrounded by like-minded people willing to offer constructive feedback if needed. There’s the bonus of copious amounts of coffee and biscuits too!

If isolation is a factor in your self-doubt as a writer then find a creative writing group, a writing buddy, or a bustling coffee shop where you can channel your inner JK. Just knowing there are other people around you can lift you out of that spiral.

Asking for feedback from genuinely helpful people can also help bring you out of the darkness of self-doubt. Don’t ask your mum, unless she can be brutally honest. My mum is my biggest fan and would never tell me what I’ve written is a load of tripe, which is why I’ll only show her the finished product AFTER my brutal beta readers and editor have ripped it apart. With that brutality comes honesty and any good feedback will tell you where you’ve gone wrong, but also where you’re spot on – that’s the bit you need to hook into. Make your amendments correct your work from the feedback, but when you’re feeling like the world’s worst writer, reread the positive comments.

How do you tackle self-doubt? Do you let it beat you, or do you fight against it? What could you do to pull yourself out of a self-deprecating spiral?

Create an Author Platform, Shelley Wilson Writing Mentor
Writing Tips

Building an Author Platform – Getting Started #WritingCommunity #IndieAuthors

Building an Author Platform – Getting Started.

Sharing guest posts by fellow authors on my writing blog is something I enjoy doing. It’s the reason I run features like my popular Top 10 Writing Tips and Author Interviews

I’m always fortunate to be inundated with willing volunteers when I put out a request for guest posts, and I’m more than happy to use my blog to promote the author and their book/s.

As with any submission request, I ask that each piece is accompanied with a photo, book cover, author bio, and social media/sales links. However, I’m often surprised by the lack of promotional information I receive from new authors.

Preparing a guest post without the right information takes up valuable time as I must search for the bios, images, and links. It’s only when I start looking for these details that I realise how many new authors are missing out on valuable book marketing opportunities.

As an author, which of the following do you have?

  • Website
  • Blog
  • Facebook Business Page
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Pinterest
  • Instagram
  • SnapChat
  • YouTube Channel
  • Podcast
  • Goodreads Account
  • Amazon Author Account
  • Email (Newsletter Subscribers)
  • Google My Business
  • Bios on Other Book Sites
  • Networking Groups
  • Other

As a minimum, I would hope you have a website or blog, one social media platform, and a Goodreads or Amazon account, but you’d be amazed at how many authors don’t have anything set up at all.

I’ve spent hours searching for author information online to only find a personal Facebook account and their book listed on Amazon. I also see that same author talking about a lack of sales on the Facebook writing groups and asking for marketing advice. How do you expect anyone to find you if you aren’t putting yourself – and your books – out there?

When I work with my mentoring clients I always offer a session about creating an author platform. Most of the time we have this discussion before they’ve written a single word of their manuscript. I also receive emails from new authors who have just published, or are nearing completion of their book, asking how they should market. Here are some of the responses I’ve had to the questions I ask them:

‘Why do I need to start a blog when I haven’t got anything to sell yet?’

‘Oh, I don’t have time for Facebook/Twitter, I’ll just sell my books through word of mouth.’

‘Everyone will want to read my book so it will sell itself.’

Let’s bust a few myths here shall we:

Blogging.

A blog is a perfect platform to learn more about your readers, to engage with your audience, to share your writing journey, and to hopefully collaborate with other authors and increase your visibility. A romance author is not in competition with another romance author, on the contrary, both authors are writing for the same audience and can benefit from one another’s platforms. A blog can be used as a sales tool, but in a non-direct way. Engaging with your readers in a conversational manner will get them talking, sharing, and eventually buying.

Word of Mouth Sales.

We can all sell books through word of mouth; I’ve done this plenty of times thanks to the networking groups I attend. A handful of book sales is great, but word of mouth isn’t a long term sales strategy. Being visible online is vital to the success of your book so you need to make time for social media. You don’t have to be on every platform available, in fact, I’d recommend you don’t go on more than two, but it is important that you’re using the right one for your audience. If you write romance for ladies between 35 – 55 years then you’ll probably find them on Facebook. If you’ve written a business book you’ll need to have a LinkedIn account. If you write for young adults then Snapchat or YouTube is the place to be.

Is Your Book for Everyone?

NO, your book is not for everyone! Hopefully, before you even started writing your novel, you worked out your target audience. A thirteen year old schoolgirl, for example, might not enjoy your non-fiction book about the inner workings of a Spitfire. You need to know who your book is written for and where they are online so that you can target your marketing directly to them. Trying to reach ‘everyone’ is impossible, not to mention a drain on your marketing budget, time, and sanity.

What can you do today to help yourself?

Amazon Author Account.

First, ask your friends, family, and colleagues where they buy their books. Most of them will say Amazon. It makes sense that you have a basic bio and image connected with your book on that platform as this gives potential readers a small insight into who you are.

To do this you need to create an Amazon Author Central Account. It’s worth noting that you can set one up for each country your novel is available (.co.uk, .com, .de, etc) you just need to have an Amazon account in each area. For now, make sure you have an author account for your home country. Here’s my UK profile:

Shelley Wilson Author, Shelley Wilson Writing Mentor, Amazon Author Central,

When you log in to your Author Central Account you can ‘claim’ your book/s so that it links to your author bio – you’ll see some of my books in the image. You can also check your customer reviews, book sales, and ratings on this platform.

If you search for any book on Amazon it will list the author name and the book title. If the name is highlighted in blue you can click it and be taken to their author page. If you don’t have this facility you’re missing a trick.

Social Media Account.

Pick one! Don’t forget to think about your readers and where they will be online. I have a lovely Twitter account where I engage with my blog readers, fellow authors, and my mentoring clients. However, my main social media account for readers is on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/FantasyAuthorSLWilson and it’s here that I share book news, fun stuff, and a variety of content tailored to my readers. As a multi-genre author, I share content for two audiences on one platform – it works for me, but it might not work for you. If you write children’s books and erotica for adults then I’d suggest two Facebook pages!

Having a bio on Amazon, and an active social media account gives you a starting point to launch your book marketing campaigns. There is so much more to sales and marketing but hopefully this has given you the smallest of starts.

Next time you submit a guest post, make sure you provide all the promotional information you can – it will benefit you and your novel to do this. If you’re a new author getting ready to publish, or have just published your debut novel, make sure your readers can find you online.

Keep an eye out for future blog posts about creating an author platform. In the meantime, if you need advice or assistance to create your author platform please take a look at the Services tab on my website or sign up to my monthly newsletter for lots of tips.

Shelley Wilson Writing Mentor, Writing at Christmas
Writing Tips

How To Focus on Your Writing Projects Over the Festive Period #WritingTips

blank notebook and pencil on a wooden board surrounded by red and white Christmas decorations and tree branches

How to Focus on Your Writing Projects Over the Festive Period

December is upon us, and you’re either excited about the prospect of wearing your Christmas jumper and attending all the glittering parties, or you’re in a blind panic about how much you’ve got left to do. It’s the same with our writing projects. We can enjoy any time off from work by allocating some creative time, or we can struggle to fit in a single sentence as the chaos of Christmas unfolds.

How can you focus on your writing then? Here are my top 5 tips for staying motivated over the festive period.

  1. Leave all your expectations under the tree! Don’t commit to writing 5000 words in December or telling yourself you’ll batch write five blog posts before 1st January. If your festive season is usually jam-packed, then why is this year going to be any different? Give yourself a break.
  2. Get up early and take advantage of a dedicated writing hour before the household wakes up. There’s something quite magical about switching on the Christmas tree lights, making yourself a coffee or tea, and writing in the silence of an early morning.
  3. Organise yourself beforehand. Having your blog planner pinned to the fridge, or your novel outline to hand means you can dip in and out of your projects if time allows.
  4. Don’t underestimate the power of rewards. Yes, you might be squirrelling away selection boxes for the kids, scarves and gloves for the grandparents, and trying to disguise oddly shaped parcels in your wardrobe so inquisitive eyes don’t find them, but take time to reward yourself for every blog post you write and every chapter you finish. Even if that treat is something simple like a hot chocolate with whipped cream and marshmallows as you juggle your writing and shopping sprees.
  5. Establish a routine. It’s well documented that routines help manage stress and anxiety. Creating a writing schedule at any time of year is a great way to motivate yourself for the long term. Setting aside just twenty minutes a day to write can be enough to get you over any busy times during the year.

Do you have another way of coping with your writing projects over the festive season? Or perhaps you prefer to take a wordy break and enjoy some time off. I’d love to hear from you, so feel free to leave me a comment or share any advice to my Writing Mentor Facebook page.

Nail Your 60 Second Networking Pitch, Shelley Wilson Writing Mentor,
Business Support, Networking

Nail Your 60 Second Networking Pitch

Nail Your 60 Second Pitch

Nail Your 60 Second Networking Pitch, Shelley Wilson Writing Mentor Blog

If you’ve ever been to a networking event there’s a strong likelihood that you’ve been asked to introduce yourself and your business in a short amount of time. Some groups are relaxed about this introduction and allow you to pace yourself and include a few anecdotes, whereas other groups use a stopwatch to ensure you don’t go over that allocated 60 second slot.

If you pre-plan your pitch then no matter how a group is run (relaxed or regimented), you’ll nail your moment in the spotlight and gain valuable connections.

There are different ways of referring to this process:

60 second pitch

Elevator pitch

Mission statement

Brand story or message

Whatever you choose to call it isn’t important, but what you say can make the difference between capturing a lead or disappearing into a sea of faces in a large networking room. There have been certain pitches I’ve heard over the years that have prompted me to seek out the speaker and introduce myself after the introductions. Not necessarily because I needed their services or products, but because they left a positive impression and I felt the pull to find out more.

If you follow a few basic rules when planning your 60 second pitch then you won’t go wrong.

  1. Who are you? It might seem like an obvious thing to start with, but you’d be surprised by how many people either introduce themselves by name and forget to mention their business name, or vice versa. By starting with a clear and confident “hello, I’m Doris and I’m the owner of the Dotty Dog Grooming Parlour,” you’ll have made a positive start.
  2. What do you do? It’s not enough to give out your business name without a short explanation. Dotty’s Dog Grooming Parlour is an easy stretch for most people to work out, but what if your business is called Xact Solutions? The other people in the room aren’t interested in how many years you’ve worked for yourself, how long it took you to find premises, or if you left a career in law to fulfil that desire for self-employment. They only want to know how you can help them. If Xact Solutions is a website design company then say that, if it’s a social media management company then include how you can make life easier for the people who are looking to outsource this part of their business.
  3. Expand on how you can help your customers. Doris might include “we offer two levels of dog grooming, the first is a basic trim and nail clip, and the second is a full shampoo, condition, blow dry, trim, and nail clip.” Straight away the people in the room can see how Doris and her company can help them. If they’re short on time and budget her basic service is a perfect fit, but she’s also given them an upsell option. We all want to know how a product or service will benefit us as consumers – think like a customer and sell yourself to fit the needs of your clients.
  4. Choose a key point to focus on at different events. If you offer a variety of services or products pick one to talk about at each group. If I attend a networking event with fellow authors I wouldn’t use my book writing pitch of “I can help you write your book.” That’s a redundant skill in a room full of writers. However, if I were to say, “I provide support for new and experienced authors to launch their platform and run book campaigns,” then I’m more likely to capture their interest. If you’re a VA you might have a few 60 second pitch options available to you. The best thing is to read the room, chat to a few people prior to the introductions, and go with your gut feeling about what the group might need help with. If it’s a young mothers’ networking group they may benefit from support with their social media content, if it’s a group of accountants, they may prefer help with data analysis, or running newsletter campaigns. Remember, it’s all about what you can do for them. Don’t cram your 60 seconds with a rambling list of all the services you can offer.

Here are a few examples of what a social media management company might include in their 60 second pitch aimed at three different clients.

Client 1 – “We help female business owners to expand their visibility and brand on LinkedIn to become a leader in their industry and boost their profile.”

Client 2 – “We help small business owners to create valuable social media content and build their brand visibility globally.”

Client 3 – “We support business owners with their Facebook advertising and brand message to generate sales while freeing up valuable time for them to work on their business.”

They’ve read the room (all female audience/small business owners) and chosen one specific area to target. It takes trial and error when out networking but the more you do it, the more you’ll be able to gauge what the attendees might need and how you can help.

Have a go at writing a few variations of your own 60 second pitch and test it out on a few honest friends or colleagues.

Need more help? Drop me an email with details of who you are and what you do and let me write that pitch for you. For more details about all the services I offer please check out my website https://shelleywilsonwritingmentor.com