It’s hard not to cut the year into academic slices. I’ve spent so many years being regimented by the bell, the term, the holidays of school, I’m still thinking in chunks of time. For that reason, this weekend marks the first half term of starting my own business as a writer and creative facilitator. I thought I’d share my thoughts on how it’s going and give you some tips on doing it yourself.
Strangely enough, it’s been tricky to make this The Focus. With a newly-edited novel to send out, a website to make, social media to manage and pitches to work on, the actual Writing could get forgotten.
Needless to say, this is bad. The only way to get better at something is to do it more. I might have a load of new followers or likes but that isn’t going to help when it comes to developing as a writer and improving my work. I’ve tried to make sure that the entire morning is blanked out for writing new stuff. Turning off the Internet helps!
I’ve gone back to working on my memoir about travelling the world with a baby for six months. In between that I’m working on short stories, essays and pitches for other publications. The good thing about having so many submissions out at once (a spreadsheet is needed to keep track!) is that even when I do get a rejection, I know that there are at least four or five others that are still waiting for an answer. Which makes the bad news (slightly) easier to take.
Who You Are
Self branding feels weird. Putting a trademark symbol next to your personality and life feels unnatural and strange. The key to this, for me, has been being honest. Looking back at why I got into writing in the first place, the things that inspired me and held me back. After that, it seemed easier. My last ‘official’ photo I had taken made it look like I was a writer of romance who lived in Wiltshire (I’m not sure where that is).
Instead, I took some photos on my own street. The idea behind ‘Scribbles’ was to make writing sound like something that everyone can do. Launching my own series of writing workshops has given me much more of a purpose with helping others on their journey. A recent blog about my working class background really helped to solidify my ideas about why I’m here.
Be genuine and honest about who you are and the ‘brand’ of your author self is already there.
I remember the last time I did this relatively ‘seriously’ (pre-baby). I read all this stuff about making connections on social media, about how things like Twitter could mean you end up building friendships and connections. I would trawl through the random nonsense on my feed and wonder what everyone was talking about. But the thing is, they were right. Over the last half term (can’t help it) I’ve joined a writing feedback group, found support from people doing the same thing as me, and also found a lot of really helpful resources. What it’s really helped with is the idea that I’m not alone. Other people are doing this too, or have already done it, and can give me very useful advice.
The main thing is, again, to be genuine. Go on Twitter looking for people to like your stuff and to get followers and you’ll be spotted a mile off. Share things that are important to you, curate a careful list of people you follow and share and read other people’s stuff as much as you promote your own.
Once you’ve got your support, the audiences seem to follow. If you’re sharing other people’s stuff, they’re bound to want to do the same for you. While this is a slow process, I can definitely see that more people are engaging with my posts and coming to my writing workshops. It’s going to take time but hopefully I’ll get more and more people who like what I write and want to support me. You’re one of them, thanks!
This is tricky. Sitting at a desk on my own and throwing stuff out into the ether with very little response and lots of rejections is disheartening. Having gone from a profession where I was incredibly experienced to essentially feeling like I’m making it up as I go along is very unsettling. I feel like I’m too old to be starting something new, despite advice to the contrary.
Things that have worked well include posting positive quotes around me, making regular contact with friends and generally trying to give myself a break. I’m still in the formative stages of doing this full time, so I can’t expect huge things to happen straight away. Coffee and chocolate orange is also helping.
Keep your eye on the reasons you started something, try not to compare yourself to others and above all, enjoy it!
If you are trying something new I’d love to hear about it @sarahtinsleyuk
If you liked this post you can support my writing time for just the price of a coffee here.
Thanks for reading,