I finally watched La La Land the other day and I loved it but particularly because I empathised so much with the two main characters who are in LA to make their dreams come true – one wants to be an actress and the other wants to own his own jazz club. Like most people with big dreams, they are struggling and are ready to give up when they meet.
When I was watching the film I actually asked my mum “do you think it’s better to have a dream but struggle to make it come true or not to have a dream to begin with?” The question hung over me all night. I don’t think there is a right answer. Like most things in life the grass probably seems greener on whichever side you’re not on.
I admire everyone who tries to make their dreams come true particularly in the creative world I find myself dreaming in because the struggle is actually real. It’s far easier to give up, to move on and try something else but then you’d have to live with the frustrating “what if?” question – what if I had kept trying?
The film deals with this question and the sacrifices you might have to make on your journey. I cried at the end of it. Sometimes a film feels like it speaks just to you. I was having a writer wobble when I watched it. It reminded me that for better or worse I am a fool with a dream. I will never know if I would be happier without my dream but I do know that giving up on it would make me unhappy.
Once you have a dream it’s hard to shake off. We will struggle and we will fail and we will have those wobbles and wonder if we’re crazy to want to keep living this life. And yes I think we probably are! But we dust ourselves off and we keep on trying and keep on believing because we know that making our dreams come true is the journey we are supposed to make.
Once you start dreaming it’s almost impossible to stop. There are always new obstacles to overcome, new ideas to inspire you, and the determination to stay where you want to be when you do make your dream come true. Once a dreamer, always a dreamer perhaps. I quite like this idea because then it is about the journey we go on and not just all about the destination. Maybe it doesn’t matter if you make all your dreams come true, it’s enough to have them and keep on working towards them.
I always come back to my favourite quote said by Walt Disney that “If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It” and I hope it’s true. That those of us who have a dream have it because we can make it happen. Even if it does drive us a little bit crazy.
Do you think it’s better to have a dream but struggle to make it come true or not to have a dream to begin with?
Scrolling through Twitter yesterday I saw a lot of tweets talking about writing every day in response to another article about the subject. I’ve read so many articles about how you have to write every day. They often say things like “if you want to be a REAL writer, you must write everyday” and make you full of self doubt if you don’t write the same way they do.
I really hope most of the articles deliberately exaggerate for the sake of a good headline / quote / tweet or to get us all taking because the idea that if you don’t conform to certain rules you can’t possibly dare call yourself a writer is just funny to me. There is no right way to write. There is no right way to be a writer. Otherwise we’d all be bestselling literary superstars living in mansions and sipping champagne.
Being a writer isn’t easy. You can write as a hobby or as your job or both and some days you will likely struggle but you’ll also have better days and be filled with passion and joy. Most of us write because we love it. We might not have the time or space to write every day. We might not want to do this. Most people have days off from work. Most people see this as a good thing. Even if you love what you do we all need time away from it. We need to recharge, relax and breathe and experience other things. These other things might even end up inspiring our writing.
The problem with writing tips is they become rules and you end worrying that if you do something different to them then you will fail. I don’t think there are any rules to writing. Everyone approaches writing differently as they approach their job, their relationships, and their life. Most professions will have hundreds of people doing them and all of them doing it slightly differently. We all have quirks and flourishes and life would be pretty boring otherwise.
I suppose because writing can be so be tough especially on the road to being published, we’d all love to discover a shortcut, a sneaky guide to how to get there faster or with less pain, and that’s why writers will always be asked for their tips on how to write. But that’s all they are. Tips. Advice. An idea you can try if you like. Something that works for that particular person. But it should never be seen as a rule.
I don’t believe that anyone has discovered a perfect way to write or a perfect way to be a writer. Writing is a creative pastime and we all need to create the way that works best for us. Writing is messy and infuriating and fun and challenging and freeing and some days you might love it or hate it, you might sit at your laptop or want to run and hide from it. But you always come back to it. Because you have to write.
Carry on doing it your way.
You’re a writer.
And so am I.
How do you feel when you read writing tips? Do you think you have to write every day to be a writer?
My debut novel The Second Love Of My Life was first published here in the UK a year ago today! It was a dream come true to hold the book in my hands and see it on the book shelves. And it still is.
I still receive messages from readers who have enjoyed the book and that is always the most wonderful feeling. Getting published was a long journey for me, and for most writers, so knowing the book has found a place in someone’s heart just makes it all worthwhile.
I just wanted to say a huge thank you to everyone who got a copy and supported the book’s release (and who are still supporting it and me!). Being a writer can be lonely sometimes and it’s easy to doubt yourself so knowing that someone has enjoyed your book is a huge boost and you guys have put a smile on my face so many times since publication.
Lots of love and hugs,
Last night, I made my way to London Town for the Romantic Novelists’ Association Awards as my novel The Second Love Of My Life was on the shortlist for the Contemporary Romance award.
Here are all the books in my category:
The professional photos with the other nominees:
Obligatory pre-event selfie:
The event was held in a lovely building in Whitehall full of original features and it all had a Beauty and the Beast feel to it.
If only I had a library like this. Swoon.
Sadly, my book didn’t win (I was robbed, obvs 😃) but it was lovely to have been nominated and it’s always lots of fun meeting other authors and publishing peeps. Plus there was pink fizz to be had!
So happy it was finally warm enough to wear my new jacket!
Here I am with lovely author Ali McNamara:
With my agent Hannah Ferguson:
And, here are the three of us!
It’s always fun having a glamorous writer night out. But tonight it’s all back to normal and I’m slouching on the sofa in sweats watching Netflix with a tub of Ben and Jerry’s.
You’ve got to keep it real folks.
I was wondering what to post next in my Year Of Positivity series when it was announced that my debut novel The Second Love Of My Life has been shortlisted for an award! It is shortlisted for The 2017 Contemporary Romantic Novel Award by The Romantic Novelists Association. Here’s the announcement in The Bookseller:
It got me thinking that celebrating positive news should be mandatory. And we shouldn’t just stick to “big” things but all positive moments can be marked in some way. At the very least we should recognise them if we are hoping to keep a positive mindset. It’s so easy to just think about and remember and go over the bad bits of our day that we can forget all the times we smiled during it.
I am thrilled that my novel has been recognised in some way. It makes me remember that my novel is out there in the world and people can still discover it, and hopefully enjoy it too. It’s also a lovely acknowledgment of all the hard work I put into the story plus I get to go a ceremony in London next month and hopefully raise a glass of bubbly to the characters I spent so much time with.
I’m the midst of polishing a new story and it’s forever tricky for me to be confident with my writing and not let the self-doubt monster suck me into its clutches so I took a moment today to remind myself that I wrote a novel that not only was published but has found some readers who fell in love with the story, and I should never lose sight of that.
Celebrating all the moments that put a smile on our faces should be a big part of our year of positivity. I am going to really try to make sure I do this and try to find some time in each day to recognise everything good that happened.
What has happened to you today that you’re going to celebrate?
This year I decided my main New Year’s resolution would be to be more positive (https://victoria-writes.com/2017/01/05/the-year-of-positivity/) so I’ve been thinking since about the ways I can do this.
It’s not easy to always be positive. Life gets in the way. I am still battling my overactive thyroid and some days it’s hard not to dwell on my health. I think distracting myself is key. Keeping busy doing positive things so I don’t focus on the negative instead. Goals mean I can focus on then instead, try to be productive and look at what I can change, and achieve, instead of things that are just out of my control.
I’ve had a few days off from the bookshop and I’ve been trying to focus on finishing my new novel. I’m on that tricky final third where you’re trying to wrap up everything in a satisfying ending as well as trying to ignore the self doubt telling you it’s all rubbish (hope this isn’t just me!) My main goal is to secure a book deal for this story this year, of course, but I think smaller goals will also help keep me feeling positive and having fun.
I’ve decided to work on my Instagram account (https://instagram.com/p/BPc7GhXAL1h/), for instance. I really enjoy going on Instagram but I’ve been a bit lax in creating a good account myself so I’ve been enjoying taking new photos and playing around with themes and filters etc. Do come and say hi if you’re on there too!
When I asked you guys for tips on how to stay positive, I had a few mentions of gratitude as a suggestion. Being thankful for what you have, counting your blessings, can definitely help you focus on things that are good in your life and take your mind off of the not so good things. I don’t know why it’s easier to dwell on negative aspects of your life sometimes but I am really trying to turn that around. It will continue to be a work in progress this year I’m sure, and I want to keep you all posted on how I do as well as keep reminding myself of my resolution!
My main goal this month is to finish my book and hopefully send it off to my agent soon after that.
I’d love to read your goals this month and if you have any more tips on staying positive please share in the comments!
I keep seeing memes online about the disaster that has been 2016. It really has felt like a year of ups and downs across the world. It seems a lot of us are looking forward to rolling over into the New Year soon.
This year my debut novel was published and I have been so grateful for all the support I’ve had from readers. Getting a message from someone saying they loved your book is the most amazing thing. Something I wrote connected with someone else. All I ever wanted was for someone to fall in love with a story I had written, as I have done so many times as a reader. Thank you so much everyone who has been in touch about the book, and everyone who picked it up in the first place!
I love to write and I hope that I get to have another story out in the world one day soon. You’ll be the first to know when I do! It’s hard to have self belief as a writer particularly when you don’t set the bestseller charts on fire. It’s easy to doubt yourself at any stage of your journey I think. I wish I had a magic wand to wipe away all our doubts. All I can do, all us writers can do, is keep on telling our stories the only way we know how to do. And, hopefully, people will connect with them.
The last few months have been a struggle as I’ve been ill and am hoping now my overactive thyroid is being treated I will soon be feeling more like myself. It’s been difficult to write when I’ve felt so out of sorts but it’s also been a way to take my mind off it all.
I never want to lose my love of storytelling. I think you can get lost in worrying about publishing and achieving your goals whether they are getting an agent or a book deal or something else, but there’s really no point. We have very little control over anything other than our stories. So that’s what I’m going to be focusing on next year.
I am looking forward to Christmas and I’m not going to lie am hoping that 2017 will be a healthier and a happier one. For ALL of us!
Lots of love to everyone,