The first draft of anything is shit.

The first draft of anything is shit-Ernest H

This is something I have to constantly tell myself when writing. Why? Because I am a painfully slow, pedantic, crazed perfectionist who can sit and obsess over a single word for hours. I cannot write a paragraph without reading over it at least three times, only then can I move on and write the next one.

I spend ages scanning the Thesaurus, determined to find a better word for almost everything I write. I reread sentences until the words no longer make sense and the sentence sounds like Russian. I read sentences out loud. I read sentences to my husband. I would read sentences to strangers if I didn’t fear being ushered off to a white padded room. I hate the idea that anything I write might be shit, or might not live up to the overly inflated standards I set for myself.

I recall one incident in particular that almost drove me nuts; I had started a new book a week ago. One that had a deadline attached to it. One that needed to find its way onto my agent and publisher’s desk at a certain date and time. But after a solid week of writing I was only 1, 943 words in, because I had probably reread and rewritten those 1, 943 words    1, 943 times. Now you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure out that this is a huge problem, and I may indeed be in trouble if I carry on like this.  But I just can’t seem to help myself.

I’m built to obsess and fiddle. To worry and wake up in the middle of the night because I’ve thought of a better way to start a sentence. But I also know that in the long this is probably going to trip me up. It is going to wear me down and it will certainly drive me mad, not to mention everyone around me.

So to save myself from the inevitability of a straight jacket, I turned to the Internet for help, as one tends to do these days, and found some useful tips to writing your first draft.  They come from various sources and sage’s (but I do have to wonder how many of these wise people are actually authors?)

1.     Don’t edit as you write! This seemed to be the biggest consensus. Some people were even bold enough to suggest that if you aren’t able to articulate your idea properly in the moment, ‘simply put the vague idea in brackets and come back later.’ Brackets I ask you? Of all things holy in this world. (say something witty about the nature of brackets. nb, come back to this later)

2.     Don’t spend forever writing. Another very obvious one that came up often. “Sit, start where you stopped yesterday, and quit when it gets boring. The rest of the day is for the rest of your life.” What life? I thought writing was my life.

3.     “If you think of two different ways of saying something, write them both down and decide on the best one later.” As if! I thought of ten ways to say that better.

4.     “Suspend judgment when writing. Because that freedom opens you to the surprising stuff you never saw coming.” I found this one in a post by Writers Digest who are clearly not writers at all. Because if they were, they would know that it is biologically impossible for a writer to suspect judgment and self-doubt at any stage of their writing process. It just goes against our genetic make-up. A writer without judgment is clearly using strong, happy, mind-altering narcotics. (Can I get some?)

Will I try any of these? Probably not. I might obsess about not trying them though and drive myself a little madder in the process.

Some of this advice was taken directly from http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/12/how-to-write-your-books-first-draft-like-a-professional/

What you should know about dating a writer.

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A writer is a complicated and emotional being. In fact, the reclusive lesser-spotted writer might even be a completely different species. Its natural habitat is most likely a messy, notebook infested, redundant -stationary overrun office. It mainly feeds on coffee, chocolate and other sugary treats it really shouldn’t eat.  Its appearance varies slightly (depending on mood) but you will usually find it in slippers, yoga pants and other unsightly garments. Its only natural predators are itself; crippling self-doubt, insecurity and low-book esteem. It is mainly nocturnal.

So what is the first rule for dating this strange creature?  Maybe don’t date one. Why...because as pointed out above, we writers are not the people that the media portrays us as. The media has created and romanticized some strange version of us that is just downright misleading. These fantasy portrayals usually fall into two (very different I might add) categories.

  1. Hip, sexy, cool and widely glamorous Champagne-sippers. Sex and the City might as well have been a science-fiction movie and Carrie Bradshaw an alien. I haven’t worn a heel since the turn of the millennium.
  2. Dark, mysteriously intriguing and wearing carefully curated black hipster clothes and little berets while sipping expensive Merlot in the smoky corner of the club listening to a live poetry reading.

But if you do decide to date one, if you are that brave, then here are some useful little tips for dating a real writer.

  1. Yup… we’re probably going to write about you at some stage. Because we often draw from the world around us and use our own experiences as inspiration, you might just come across a character that bares a suspiciously, striking resemblance to you.
  2. We need our space. It’s nothing personal. We can be very reclusive and often need to retreat into our own made-up reality.  We write our books from this quite, imaginary place and cannot be disturbed when we’re there.
  3. We have to write that idea down… NOW! Yes, we know we’re in the middle of dinner but an idea has just struck and when one does, we have to go where it takes us. It could be the next amazing idea that catapults our book to super-stardom.
  4. Don’t tell us how hard your day at work was in a manner that implies we sat at home twiddling our thumbs and relaxing on the couch watching Netflix. Writing is real work too, and we would like you to acknowledge how draining and taxing it can be. You try sitting in a chair for 8 hours straight, forcing yourself to move through your writer’s block and figuring out how to resolve that blasted plot issue that has been plaguing you and causing you nightmares. It is emotionally draining work.
  5. We need to spend a lot of time on social media, it’s part of our job. Please know that we are not flirting with some sleazy Latino lover called Juan Pablo. We don’t necessarily like this part of our job, in fact some writers absolutely hate it. But in this day and age, it has to be done.
  6. We will over analyze your words, your tone on the phone and the way you said our name that one time. Writing dialogue all day makes us hyper aware of the way people speak. Often to our detriment.
  7. We are dramatic. WE JUST ARE, OK!?
  8. We are crazily obsessive. I think writing is one of those careers that comes with a certain level of obsession. To write books that are sometimes 100, 000 words long doesn’t just take dedication, it takes a single-minded obsessiveness that is sometimes all-consuming and irritating to others.
  9. We are not always present. We often live in our heads, creating characters, writing our books and running over scenes and dialogue. Sometimes our brains just naturally flick over to that place out of habit.
  10. Sometimes we would rather just be writing. This has nothing to do with you, but writing is not just our job, it’s also our happy place. You can’t compare it to  wanting to hang out at your office over the weekend.

But it’s not all bad. If you do decide to date, or marry a writer your life will never be dull. And I can’t speak for all of us, but when we love, we love with that same crazy obsessiveness that we put into our writing!

 

*Jo Watson is a multi-award-winning author of romantic comedies. Her book Burning Moon is coming out in August this year and will be translated into French, German and Italian. Her books have been read over 18 Millions times online on Wattpad and she is represented my Erica Spellman of the Trident Media Group. You can pre-order her book here.

http://www.amazon.com/Burning-Moon-Jo-Watson-ebook/dp/B01ARXVTE0/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1461057653&sr=8-1

No seriously, another blog award?

Right now you might be asking yourself 2 things;

  1. What award?

2.  And when is she going to stop using “No Seriously” in her titles?

To answer your first question, I got nominated for a Liebster award by the wonderful https://itsnotjustawritingblog.wordpress.com/2016/04/21/liebster-award. To be honest, since I only started blogging a week ago, I had no idea this award even existed. I didn’t even know that bloggers gave awards. But it’s all very exciting and fun.

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YAY!

And to answer the second question- I probably should soon, it is getting a tad tedious, right?

There were some things I had to do for the Liebster Award Nomination and here they all are. But first, yesterday I gave myself some awards that I wished I had been given, so today I thought I would show you the awards that I will never be given! Ever! Not!

  1. THE “I SEE YOU” THIGH GAP AWARD- Nope, just not going to happen. The war on genetics cannot be won on a Stairmaster.i see you
  2. THE “HAPPY HOUSEWIFE AWARD”- Hell will freeze over before you catch me with a broom, a pink tank top (I don’t have the upper arms for them) and if I ever smile and jump like this, send me straight to the psych ward and a chiropractor. happy housewife
  3.  CARB FREE FOR ONE YEAR- Yeah right. carb free

So without further ado, my Q&A’s for the Liebster awards and my nominations. I hope my questions for them aren’t too corny.

lieb 1lieb 2lieb 3

 

*Jo Watson is a multi-award-winning author of romantic comedies. Her book Burning Moon is coming out in August this year and will be translated into French, German and Italian. Her books have been read over 18 Million times online on Wattpad and she is represented my Erica Spellman of the Trident Media Group. You can pre-order her book here.

http://www.amazon.com/Burning-Moon-Jo-Watson-ebook/dp/B01ARXVTE0/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1461057653&sr=8-1

Why ideas are like rainbow bagels

This is just a short musing for the day as I contemplate some plot ideas for my next novel.

I’m all for rainbows. I’m all for dousing your life in multi-colored mermaid hues and I’m all for crudely drawn images of unicorns vomiting rainbows.

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What I’m not okay with, though, are the new rainbow colored foods that are squirming their way onto the modern culinary menu. Why, I hear you ask?

Because what these foods really represent is not some exciting, modern gastronomic adventure, but rather they are indicative of people’s sheer desperation to come up with new ideas and stand out. There are no new ideas out there, so as writers we are forced to reinvent the old ones and hope like hell our book is not some predictable, cliched rehash. I guess the same is true for the food world.

I can almost hear the conversation that predated rainbow bagels and rainbow bacon. Personally, I think that food has finally gone too far though.

I mean, if I had to write the literary  equivalent of a rainbow grilled cheese sandwich (yes, those actually exist) it would be a  “Choose your own adventure, erotic comedy sci-fi romance illustrated in 3D and written on scented paper that sings to you as you turn its pages. Oh, and hidden in the pages of the book is also a top-secret algorithm that when applied to the stock markets will make you a millionaire overnight.”

I’m about as keen to read that as I am to eat pastel colored deviled egg

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I’ll never be as popular as a baby panda!

These days, being an author is about so much more than just writing an actual book. Our job description now also includes working tirelessly at building our online presence.

But in trying to gather followers on all my various social media platforms, I’ve had to face up to some cold, hard facts. I will just never be as loved, followed and popular as this baby panda.

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Because no matter how much blogging I do, no matter how many color-coded and carefully curated photos I take of myself holding a book, sipping a cappuccino and sporting a pair of literary themed hipster socks in a desaturated filter, I’ll just never be as popular as this fluffy black and white thing. No matter how many hashtag-vomits I send out into Twitterland, or pseudo-humble posts I write on Facebook that are meant to boast about my latest achievements without looking boastful, I’ll still never be as popular as this fluffy kitten dressed as a frog.

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I won’t even be as popular as this ugly, angry little Chihuahua that looks like it needs to be tossed into a vat of holy water.

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And as for this revolting Easter surprise from the fiery pits of demon infested hell…?

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Nope. Still not as popular.

In fact, everywhere I look the internet is being taken over by viral animals. Angry hamsters, grumpy puppies, discontented dormice and moody marmosets?

Well, I am fighting back! Humans are being forcibly pushed aside in cyber -space and replaced by  small fluffy things, or scaly reptiles wearing head attire. This is speciesism, and is as unacceptable as sexism and any of the other ism’s.  That is why I have decided to start an organization called, “POOVA” People Opposed to Online Viral Animals.

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It’s time for us humans to take back our power and stand up to sentiments like,  “You wrote some books, SO WHAT, this baby panda sneezed and scared its mom and that’s why it deserves ten million more Likes than you!”  

It’s time for us to realize that we can be just as cute and angry and confused and scared of cucumbers as these animals are.

 

Let’s stand up to these online animal usurpers and take back our power today. Share if you support the POOVA movement. And post a picture of yourself being just as good as those online animals.

 

*Jo Watson is a multi-award-winning author of romantic comedies. Her book Burning Moon is coming out in August this year and will be translated into French, German and Italian. Her books have been read over 18 Millions times online on Wattpad and she is represented my Erica Spellman of the Trident Media Group. You can pre-order her book here.

http://www.amazon.com/Burning-Moon-Jo-Watson-ebook/dp/B01ARXVTE0/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1461057653&sr=8-1

 

 

 

 

 

 

My CRAZY path to publishing.

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The internet. The glorious thing that is the world wide web. That is how my journey to becoming a published author began. It is a journey that is very different to most people’s, it is a journey that many authors frown on too- I have since discovered to my dismay.

They frown and raise eyebrows because I didn’t toil for years and suffer the soul-sucking devastation of doors being slammed in my face and endless rejection. (This seems to be considered a right of passage as an author) Instead, my journey was an almost overnight affair, which let me assure you, comes with its own set of unique challenges.

I had no intention of becoming an author in the first place. In fact, it was the last thing on my mind at that stage of my life. I had a very established career, I ran one company and was a partner in another and mainly worked as a TV scriptwriter and storyliner (the person that makes up the stories for the TV show) But one day, as I sat in front of my computer reading  a mail from a commissioning editor at our big South African network, I got very disillusioned. Let me not go into why I was disillusioned, that is a blog all on its own.

I longed to break out of the confines of my small country on the Southern tip of Africa. I longed for my work to reach a wider, international audience.

So I hit the internet. I Googled, “Write overseas” which yielded a million strange results. I then started Googling “Writing Internationally” and so it went on, until I stumbled on an international book writing contest. The annual So You Think You Can Write by Harlequin, hosted on a writing platform I had never heard about called Wattpad. 

The deadline was 3 weeks away and I was like, Ok… I can write a book. I’ve never written one before, in fact, I’ve never even read a romance novel in my entire life! (True story) I read crime thrillers and non-fiction books on Physics and the universe.

But hey… what the hell, right? So I sat down, got an idea and just started writing, posting all my work on Wattpad as I went. In three weeks I had accumulated 22, 000 reads on Wattpad, and bizarrely, bizarrely, bizarrely, I won the competition along with some other amazing writers. And then the book just took off on Wattpad like a crazy thing. It was totally out of my control and it just seemed to have a life of it’s own.

And then BAM… I was offered a 3 books deal. And BAM again, another publisher offered me a deal and so it escalated so fast that my head spun! I realized that in order to pursue this as a career, I would need to dive in head first. I don’t do things in a half-hearted manner. When I do, I do obsessively. So I closed my companies, bold move, took my savings and started writing books.

Things continued to escalate when I got an agent, Erica Spellman at The Trident Media group (only the best literary agency in the world) I say this not to boast, but to try and paint an adequate picture of how I felt when she emailed me and said, “please call me at your earliest convenience.” I cannot, cannot explain the shock, the sheer slap-through-the-face shock when this happened. I cannot express how nervous I was when I called her and I cannot express the strange, surrealness of the moment when she said she would represent me. A day later- literally- she forwarded me email correspondence that she had had with Grand Central Publishing in which they showed interest in my book.

And BAM… I got a three- book deal. The foreign rights were then sold and it will be translated into German, French and Italian.

My head still spins, I still feel like this is not real. I feel like I got dropped into the big leagues and I don’t even know what sport I am meant to be playing. Other authors have had years of practice leading up to the day they get published. They have had ample ‘warning’, I had nothing. I was thrown in head first with no knowledge of the industry at all. I sound ungrateful, but believe me, I am not. I think I am still in a state of shock and am only now settling into my new career, one which was almost thrust on me by accident.

You might be thinking at this stage that I hardly had to work to get this- that is what a lot of people assume. But let me assure you, that I have never worked so hard in my entire life. I wrote my first book, Burning Moon, in 3 weeks, with almost no sleep. And in the last two years I have subsequently written 7 books.

I have now been ‘playing’ at being a full-time author for just over two years now. I say ‘playing’ because I still don’t know what the F I am doing. My books have been read 18 million times, MILLION, on Wattpad and I sit with an agent and publishing deals and am officially making a good living doing it (Mainly due to the fact that our South African Rand is so shitty, and for every $1 I receive, I get R16) I still feel like if I pinch myself, I am going to wake up from all of this.

It has been the craziest ride of my life, and at age 35 I think I have actually found the thing I am meant to be doing. It took me more than ten years to find it, and I found it accidentally, but I’m doing it now and hope it will continue. I hope my career as an author is not going to be as ‘over-night’ as my path to becoming one was. This is a very real fear I have.

I have no idea what the moral of this story is, I think it is along the lines of ‘just put yourself out there‘ because you never know what will come back. The deadline forced me to write without thinking too hard, and there was no room for procrastinating. Look for writing competitions, I swear by them. It is the one way to assure your work is seen by the right people.

That is the nutshell version, I’ll give more details later on!