What makes us pick up the pen and free it from its ink
‘Tick, Tock, Tick, Tock’.
Wondering what i’m talking about? Well, its more than a tick and a tock. It is how writers throw words around in their minds, hoping that the right tick or the right tock comes to mind to be scrawled onto the pages where our blood, sweat and tears are firmly attached to.
True writers are the ones born with stories in their hearts who slave behind their work, constantly rewriting it, redoing their whole concept over and over again, basically trying to make it perfect. It might have been perfect the first time around, but to those with the fire in their brains; they never stop seeking the best from what they have to give.
It’s sad really. Never being happy or finding perfection can be daunting and ultimately an emotional wreck is left in its place. You know who you are. You never feel happy, and you never find what you are striving for. Nothing will ever be more perfect than perfect. And nothing can be more than perfect.
All that is left is the tick and tock of the literary greats that came before us, the writers we strive to be like, yet, perfection never comes to your writing the way you perceive writers of the past to be. I doubt their work was perfect. Nothing can be as perfect as we wish it to be, and to be a writer, this is something you need to understand–strive for the best, but hope to land somewhere in the middle.
Allow the tick and tock to only tick, and then you will find your way through the insanity of your never-ending perfection you crave in your brain.
Some may think being creative means writing books, painting art or even taking beautiful pictures.
But, this is where the road becomes a little muddy. Creativity is within anyone to use it, and of those, the most creative beings are those that fight for the right of the community and the world–the journalist.
These are the people who have grabbed onto writing and making a weapon out of it. They live hard lives to bring us the news and exposing extreme events to us. They put their lives at risk, and if that isn't what an artist is, then who are we to call ourselves creative writers.
Where journalism is different to creative writing is its practice of news-gathering, assessing, interviewing, taking photographs and creating news articles to present it in news-form to provide information to the general population.
Journalists also work in different types of beats, such as crime, health, entertainment, politics, lifestyle, metro, sport and more. Journalism can be distinguished from other types of writing because it has identifiable characteristics and practices that are different. It separates journalism from other areas of writing, such as communications, which includes public relations and corporate writing. News and information is dispensed by media (journalists), editors, magazines, newspapers and radio stations.
Journalists put forwards stories that are being read for information about what is going on in their area of interest, engage them with entertaining news, or even shock them, amuse or disturb them with what is happening.
Young adult paranormal romance/fantasy has become one of the largest book genre’s within the last 10 years and, that, is a challenge in itself. Young girls everywhere are dreaming of that hero that would whisk them away and take them to a place where their world will be turned upside down, and magical things will happen to them.
Even when we grow up, we still love to believe that magic really exists and that the worlds created for us by authors could, somehow, one day become a reality.
Mostly, when it comes to vampires, shapeshifters, ghosts and other fantastic or otherworldly creatures, what attracts us most is the mystery and the dangers that we, as readers, are free to explore – in our minds, these characters become real and we come to love them.
Therefore, there is no doubt that the young adult market is steaming, and very, very, attractive to many authors who are racing towards biting off a piece of the pie.
Herewith lies a great problem, however.
As the young adult book industry grows, so does the amount of books that are badly written and cheaply sold, and these books are overcrowding an industry that includes so many authors that are “true” writers with brilliant stories to tell – these beautifully crafted tales wash away within a slush pool of badly written novels that are unedited and badly thought out.
However, true writers would know that the significance of having a unique take on the paranormal genre is the most important part of making your book stand out – or that is what I keep on reading on blogs, highly acclaimed websites and from marketing experts. This, is what I did with A Tale of the Other Kind: A Therian Novel, which is the first in a series.
But, as an author and a qualified journalist and editor, there is one thing that still eludes me – marketing and driving sales. For myself, as I believe with many authors, I have the uncanny inability to know how to get my book noticed. I confess – knowing how to be a saleswoman isn’t my forte.
If you are not on the bestsellers list, you can kiss getting reviews by highly acclaimed reviewers goodbye, and getting bloggers to respond to your emails is a nightmare. You are simply invisible, no matter how well your book is written, or how unique your story is.
Marketing, marketing, marketing, the bane of my existence, yet the most important part of making a book sell. Therefore, when I realised that my abilities simply consist out of being a creative spirit, I decided to leave the marketing and sales driving to the experts.
It is important to find good avenues to market your book – yes, you are going to have to invest some money into getting this done, but if you find a marketing expert that understands your book’s genre, and is dedicated to finding you the best platforms to display your work, then, within time, you will start seeing growth with that book you slaved away on for many years. Your baby will grow, and soon it will become the stable and impressive young adult you hoped it to be.
For me, I found that Bookbuzzr, Goodreads, LibraryThing and Quora are great platforms, among others, to help increase exposure for your novel. Then there is Twitter and Facebook Fan Pages – yes, the list goes on and on. This is a lot of hard work! Especially if you have a full-time job, and need to get started on your second novel, before you start getting screaming emails from those who have read your book and can’t wait to see what happens next.
However, I cannot stress enough, the importance of enrolling the help of a book blog tour marketer. I use Orangeberry Book Tours, and without Pandora’s help, I would never get through all the work it takes to get my book’s name out there.
Hopefully, in time, continued exposure would bring about change and a climb in sales – I know I have a unique book and soon someone will notice that it isn’t “just another paranormal romance/fantasy just like all the others”. Therefore, I will continue working hard at it, and dedicate time to my novel’s success on a daily basis – with the help of others – of course.
Communications writing is found everywhere - from business, to public relations and online writing and articles, to name a few.
This is not journalism. Communications is not news. You would be shocked to note that 70% of email communication is usually spam according Symantec. Four years ago the average of 175-million Twitter tweets every day that formed part of useless chatting or spammy Tweets. Just imagine what this total is now, in 2015.
Communications is different to journalism and focuses on various other topics and systems towards communicating the community. It is, for example, a promotive form of writing that assists companies in finding more clients etc.Journalism and the media industry, however, are also occupying these social media fields, such as Twitter, LinkedIn, online websites, Facebook, YouTube and other online publishing formats. The difference is that it provides useful information, such as business, finance, entertainment, opinion, assertion, news and feature articles and advertising, etc. Propaganda, however, also serves a part of the media industry. How do we know what is propaganda and what is objective news? Well, most media groups that are respected and known are usually there to provide the community with objective, free and fair information flow.
While journalism occupies a much smaller space than the talk, entertainment, opinion, assertion, advertising and propaganda that dominate the media universe, it is nevertheless perceived as being more valuable than most of the “stuff out there.”
News provides the community with valuable information that can alter decisions towards making the best decisions, and a systematic process that allows journalists to provide truthful information and facts, and then communicate it to the public.
Journalism is different to creative writing. It is the practice of news-gathering, assessing, interviewing, taking photographs and creating news articles to present it in news-form, to provide information to the general population.
Newspapers, magazines, online media websites, radio and television all provide news through journalism.
Journalists also work in different types of beats, such as crime, health, entertainment, politics, lifestyle, metro, sport and more. Journalism can be distinguished from other types of writing, because it has identifiable characteristics and practices that are different. It separates journalist from other areas of writing, such as communications, which includes public relations and corporate writing. News and information is dispensed by media (journalists), editors, magazines, newspapers, television and radio stations.
Journalists put forwards stories that are being read for information about what is going on in their area of interest, engage them with entertaining news, or even shock them, amuse or disturb them with what is happening.
Today I would like to talk about why I think teenagers connect so deeply with young-adult paranormal fantasy or romance.
When I was a kid, there was nothing more magical than finding myself engrossed in a wonderful book filled with magical creatures and horror tales of demons, vampires and werewolves – back then some of these stories seemed to be awfully frightening, yet absolutely captivating.It transported me to a world where I found myself escaping from the normal mundane life of being a teenager, living a life where the friends I had closest to me being the actual people who were my bullies.
I have grown up now, and have become a much stronger person, and have worked hard at finding my self-confidence again, even though, I must admit, bullies do still exist in the “grown-up” world as well. However, during that time, I realised, that my world of books saved me – whenever I was depressed, or felt down, alone in a corner with no one to call my friend, I knew that I could go home, and I would find a host of friends within my stack of books I picked up from the travelling library, and that is where I would stay for the rest of the day.
Books were my salvation – my escape to a place where I was safe and able to live out the person I was feeling deep inside – the romantic who wished I could find my dark prince who would woo me and sweep me off my feet, ready to save me from the pain I had to endure during my day at school; or the strong female character that wouldn’t allow anyone to stand in her way and who was strong enough to stand up for herself.
When we are teens we are still trying to find out who we are. Books, especially escapism books such as fantasy and paranormal books, brings us romance and personalities in which teens can identify with.
A soft person I used to be – yes, she still exists, I must admit, but through my books and the beautifully crafted, strong characters, I have found, one thing that stood out for me – they were determined, and fought for what they wanted in life. And, even though I was a teenager who some nights cried myself to sleep, my books helped me understand that if I wanted anything in life, I must fight for it.
And that I why I feel so connected to young adult (YA) books – they speak directly to the heart of teenagers and to what they go through on a daily basis and what they long so desperately for.
And now, there’s no question about it that this market has skyrocketed and the audience for these types of books are ready to indulge themselves in anything that might transport them to another place. There simply is no steady growth with the YA market – it has already exploded.
But, with that, the readers have become more demanding, the market has become more tough and, therefore, writers are expected to know more about their target markets – if they miss the mark, they simply won’t get the YA market “on their side”.
So, the question is, what are the keys to writing a successful YA novel? It isn’t that simple, but if writers delve deep into their past, and feel what they felt when they too were YAs, then they could bring to life a world that makes sense to any teenager who picks up their books. In a way, having a tough teenage life could even have been the best thing that has ever happened to me as a writer! It has formed me, and given me a greater understanding into the psyche of what teenagers feel when they are in love with a boy or a girl but the love isn’t mutual; it makes me understand how it feels to be the outcast; it makes me know just how insecure one can be about yourself – I’m not pretty, skinny, or curvy enough, or I have braces, my hair is ugly or I’m not popular enough. Having experienced these things makes a writer of YA books indispensible.
When you’re young, everything you feel is much deeper and much more intense. Song lyrics speak to you in a way a grown-up could never understand – because, face it, grown-ups don’t understand – they forget how it was to be there and feel pain, hurt and exhilaration so intensely.
Being a teenager is like electrical currents running through you at all times – nothing pleases you and everything pleases you – all at once. You find a first love and you will experience your first heartbreak, you make bad decisions and will be betrayed by those around you who you trust the most. These are all things that we all have been through, and what all teenagers go through still, today. Nothing has changed – yes, times have changed and kids have better equipment to read their books with or Playstations and PS Vita’s, but they still have to experience what we, grown-ups, had to once experience ourselves.
They have to find ways to make important decisions and deal with the consequences if their decisions were wrong. When they look around them, they all believe that they are the only ones who feel this way, but what they don’t know, is that every other teen around them have to go through the same things, and everyone will make a different decision to the tales of their own lives, which will shape who they ultimately become.
When you are a teenager, everything is utterly intense.
That, however, is why the YA paranormal romance genre is so intriguing to youngsters – it is dark and it speaks to their very core. It takes them to the place they feel inside, and it makes them be something or someone else for the 300 or more pages the book in hand is – a world of escapism.
And that is what YA paranormal romance / fantasy is about – it is dark, broody, mysterious and… intense – just like teenagers.
Writing is our basis – without it, we cannot learn and our intellectual capacity is judged upon our ability to write clearly and concisely.
However, it is also a tool to express ourselves, and journalists still, today, often create new words, as Shakespeare created hundreds of words as one of the greatest and most prolific writers of all times.
Writing is also an important part of our community, business and every day functioning as one of our largest methods of communication, next to speaking and body language.
With such an important function in our society, how can writing not affect me as intensely as it has for the past 18 years?
Writing is a passionate drive towards being something other than the usual. It isn’t easy to write – many people wish that they could have the ability to write, and simply can’t put two sentences together.
However, to me, writing is something that can be learnt. With a lot of passion, hard work and the ability to learn, everyone can become a writer. No one said it would be Shakespeare, but if it makes you happy, and you love it while you are doing it, then nothing in the world can stop you from making your thoughts come alive.
Technology has made it much easier I admit, but when I started writing, my main method of capturing my thoughts were with the now ‘pre-historic’ method of pen and paper. I still have all my writings from when I was at high school.
Somehow it is nostalgic to look back at the work I produced when I was still a child. My feelings so much more heightened, and my ability to pour my feelings onto paper so much more prevalent.
However, today, I wouldn’t say that this has changed much – it just works differently – no hormones to make my broken heart write down poems of love and loss in the most intense ways that I did when I was younger.
But, today, I still lose myself in writing; I still explore different parts of my psyche and I still escape into a creative space and time where only I exist – with my multiple characters that have been yearning to scratch through the surface on a daily basis.
They are always there, talking to me, telling me what they want to say. Some of them have stronger voices than others, and, therefore, they end up on my written pages as my protagonists or lead characters. They tell me their stories as I go along – I never know what is going to happen next, until it actually happens, and then even I am surprised. It can sometimes be scary, as I never know whether my story would have an ending – some stories don’t have an ending – yet, and they rest in a special place on my computer, where I leave them be, until they decide to tell me the rest of their tales.
Even though writing is the place where I escape, it is also the place from which I sometimes feel I need to escape from – I work as a full-time journalist and newspaper editor – where is my freedom from the love I have for the written word?
It somehow, sometimes, becomes a love-hate relationship, a suffocating place that I cannot escape, and a life-sucking space that I simply cannot say no to. What can I do to find peace?
Even so, I cannot move away, it doesn’t matter that writing and I have become so reliant upon each other – we have become one – we are twins, and without each other we are merely ordinary. Writing makes me who I am – different and unable to be silent as my mind always talks to me, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.
All writers will tell you one thing: "The hardest thing to do is actually starting to write." However, there are a few ways you can use to get past that writersblock.
1. Write something every day. You might not be inspired, but you can surely just write whatever is on your mind, and there you go - you're writing! Before you know it, your ideas will start pouring out.
2. Don't think that you need to have plenty of time to write. Keep a notebook around and when an idea strikes, write it down. Before you know it, you have a flow of ideas just waiting to be jotted down into an article or creative piece.
3. If inspiration hits, then make sure you go for it. Of course, don't forget to do all the things you need to do - like picking up the kids from school, but use that free time and make every inspiring moment count!
4. Don't think that you need to finish a project right away if your inspiration comes to a stop. Put it aside, start something new, and before you know it, you can go back to that piece of writing and finish it up later.
5. Don't get let down if you stop working on something and you feel it just isn't worth it. Sometimes we have to kill our darlings.
6. Being creative is in all of us. We just need to know where to dig to get that inspiration. It comes easier when a random idea pops into your head and you make that idea into a story. Regular writing helps to get those creative juices flowing.
7. Writing the final piece of your story doesn't mean its the actual final piece. Revision, revision, revision. Start to write something and as you go on, you will realise that what you have written previously doesn't fit into your story anymore, and, therefore, revision takes place.
8. Have a dedicated area where you write. I tend to write in a quiet space where I have set up my computer, a reading room and loads of books that just keeps me motivated. This doesn't mean you have to have this! Sometimes not having distractions around helps you concentrate.
9. If you are stuck, take a walk and go and do something that's distracting. You can always come back later after a bout of fresh air - or even a good shopping trip.
10. The most important thing you need to be able to write is having something to say, and having something you need to say. Make it count. If you have a great idea, then someone out there will also be interested in what you have to say.
So there it is. The first word that I have written on my writing blog. Man, but that's original.
This blog is something I hope will evolve into something more than just a blog about writing, but something that will help each and every one of my readers become awesome writers too.
I have been writing for way too long. Somewhere between braces and going through puberty the bug hit me, and I started writing short stories and really stupid poems. Yes, they were stupid - based on all my love-filled lust for every boy that broke my heart. But, at least it got me started; no matter how bad they were, they were mine.
That's exactly what you have to do - write, write, write, write! I know you've read these words over and over again, but, truly, the only way to get better at something is to practice it as much as you can. Oh, yes, and don't forget to keep on reading between all of that writing - another sure way to learn how to write what you love.
So, that's it for now. Let's hope we can create an awesome team of writers and authors that will become smartypants writers that will definitely become much better at it than I am, for sure!
Leandi Cameron is a journalist, author and editor who simply loves to help others write awesome books and articles. She also love to give some ideas and resources on the writing and editing industry. Let her help you!