The #1 Reason That Prevents Me From Becoming An Author

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you.” – Maya Angelou
I’ve had this story inside of me for less than a year. This year my goal is to pen it down. I am sure the characters cannot wait to get out of my head.
One of my goals this year is to start with my fiction book. Another goal is to at least read five books this year.
I am reading more things aligned to what I want to achieve. On Monday 16 January 2017, I came across Karthik Pasupathy’s article “5 Things That Prevent Young Aspirants from Becoming Writers”.
prevent aspiring writers
THE REASONS WE DON’T BECOME WRITERS
Pasupathy wrote on The Writing Cooperative that writers do not interact. “Aspirants (aspiring authors) don’t discuss about writing. They keep things to themselves. They’re too afraid to step forward and discuss ideas.
“Brainstorming plays an important role when comes to writing. When people with contrasting opinions discuss about a topic, it creates new connections in our brain,” he explains. “This allows a writer to look at an issue from several perspectives.”
Other mistakes that aspiring authors do “they don’t read” nor “they do not write,” says Pasupathy.
I should talk to fellow writers about my process, I thought. I decided to act on this. After emailing someone close to me my story idea, I got a few gems from this fellow writer.
LESSONS LEARNT
I needed to hear the following and she said it: “You know you can do this; the story is already in you.”
The challenging part of writing a story is actually starting. Although I have small parts of the story in my head, I think: what if I don’t have more meat for my story?
Meaning: what if the story doesn’t get interesting as the first part?
“You know you can do this; the story is already in you.”
I am certain this means: Just start, the rest will come.
books author emotions
Lastly, I will share with the one other gem I got from this person: “Try to write when you have lots of emotion in you, whether good or bad.”
It’s not like I haven’t written a story before – I am a journalist by profession and I have also had fiction short stories published.
Let’s not agonise I tell myself; just start with it.
If you are an author or have struggled to start with something you’re passionate about, let me know what motivated you to do the next step.
Enjoy the rest of your week!

Q&A: Reasons why I’m a writer and what am I writing about

Hello ladies and gentlemen,
The Blog Tag network on Facebook has a “Writing” theme this week. I thought, because I am a writer by profession (and it’s my passion), I’ll let you in on a few things about myself.

I would like to add that today I wrote about an interview I did with an interracial couple. Also, I am busy researching content marketing strategy, because I am preparing for an interview with an entrepreneur.

The Blog Tag asked some questions relating to their Writing theme and I answered. Check it out:

TBT: What is the first thing you remember writing?
MJ: I was probably 14 or 15 years old when I attended a writing workshop. My first story was a soapie type story that involved a girl looking for her father, her being in a relationship with a gangster who wanted her father dead. There was a love triangle in this story too.

At the time I watched a lot of soapies like “Days of Our Lives”.

TBT: What do you enjoy writing most?
MJ: I enjoy how the characters of a fictional story evolve, their growth and changes of scenes. In reality, I enjoy writing success stories of people, e.g. like small businesses doing well, or someone achieving something and getting an award or acknowledgement for it.

TBT: What is your favorite thing about writing?
MJ: It’s the before-part. Going out on a story and doing research or an interview. It’s also nice after I am done with a story, and I can get it published. Seeing my name in print is cool.

TBT: Who or what inspired you to start writing?
MJ: I enjoyed writing books as a child. My mother encouraged me to try out a journalism course.

TBT: Favorite piece of writing that you wrote?
MJ: There are so many – besides writing news stories as a journalist, I have written and published fiction short stories. I think I enjoyed the fiction stories, because I got to be creative and had fun as the characters developed themselves.

TBT: How often do you write?
MJ: Every single day for work. Personally, not much – which is bad, because I want to publish a book.

TBT: Do you want to get published?
MJ: Yes.

TBT: What are your writing goals?
MJ: This information I keep close to my heart.

TBT: What do you do when you experience writers block?
MJ: I just start writing down what I already have. Eventually I get in the groove.

TBT: Who is your favorite writer(s)?
MJ: Karen Kingsbury, Jodi Picoult, and blogger Melyssa Griffin.

TBT: If you had to go by a pen name what would it be and why?
MJ: I can’t reveal this, because someone might steal my pen name šŸ™‚

TBT: Have you ever entered any writing contests?
MJ: No, but I have entered my fiction stories into magazines and a newspaper. Many people do that and only some are selected.

TBT: Have you had any formal training as a writer?
MJ: Yes, I have a national degree in journalism.

TBT: What is your favourite piece of writing?
MJ: Errrr. I don’t know what you mean with that question.

TBT: Do you have any tips for other writers?
MJ: Just start with it – just write. You’ll get better the more you do it. Plus read a lot.
Also, make use of the journalism’s 5W’s and H: who, what, where, why, when, and how.

Quick Fire:
Pen & Paper or Laptop — both

Pen name or Real Name — real name

Quiet Place to write or busy place with music — it does not matter. I can lose myself when I am writing.

Fiction or Non Fiction — both
Poetry or Stories — definitely stories

My Bucket List: The 3 Things I Already Have Ticked Off

Ever felt like time stood still?

I remember my colleagues and I joking one day about how it felt like two hours later the clock said that only 5 minutes passed.

On Thursday 10 November 2016 I had the opportunity to be host for the first time of a Twitter chat. IT WAS AWESOME!

It really felt like time stood still as I was busy chatting to the followers of SA Biz Chat.

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In between scolding my husband for doing things like leaving the house to go to the shop five minutes after the #SABizChat started, I had the opportunity to engage with some bloggers and small business owners of this tribe.

Yes, Husband even had the audacity to ask me where is Princess’ bum cream as he was about to change her nappy. I had asked him for an hour off, because of this chat. Tsk, tsk, tsk šŸ™‚

THE TWITTER CHAT

Anyways, the topic of the evening was “How to write like a journalist”.

I thought it would be cool to volunteer to be a host and suggest this topic. I am a journalist by profession.

Successful entrepreneurs and bloggers have a few things in common with journalists. I keep hearing “be consistent” when I hear entrepreneurs or bloggers give the key to success. This is what we share if we want to succeed at something.

Another thing is being persistent. Doing research and planning are the other things we have in common. So yes, we can learn from each other, even if we use what we learn in different ways.

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Here are things we discussed during my topic:

  1. Who is your target market (reader)?
  2. Who or what are your sources?
  3. What and how do you pitch?
  4. Taking action: research, plan and do interviews or go out on your story
  5. What do you write & checking the facts

MY BUCKET LIST

I have been thinking about how I should probably put up things like this on a Bucket List. Instead of drawing up a bucket list beforehand of things I would like to do, I am just going to make up my list as I go along and achieve small things.

The one thing I do not have ticked off yet is “Do a Live Stream Facebook Chat”.

I have realised that I have learned A LOT in my career, so I would like to share what I know. This is one of the reasons for the Twitter chat. Another thing I can tick off is giving a presentation about “writing as a journalist” to a small group of people. I did this at our blogger meet up on Saturday.

Why don’t I just do a proper bucket list like normal people do, you might ask. Well, I am a scaredy cat – not an adventurous person. So you won’t ever hear me saying that I will jump out of an airplane to do skydiving or jump off anything (bungy jump = no ways).

So thank you to everyone who participated in the #SABizChat on Thursday 10 November. I had a great time. To hear what some of you are busy with, is amazing. Thank you for sharing.

ABOUT SA BIZ CHAT

SA Biz Chat is a network run by Sam Posselt, Tiaan Geel, Chantal Bezuidenhout and Natasha Nathoo. The chat is hosted on Thursday evenings for an hour during 19:00 and 20:00. Every week a topic is discussed. Previous topics include HR 101.

Do you have a bucket list, and what is on it? Also, what would you consider a small achievement you accomplished this year?

Lessons learned from South African artists + my roadtrip

My family – myself, husband and our nine month old baby – drove from Johannesburg to Cape Town for a few gigs (shows and workshops).

WHY THE ROADTRIP
My husband is a musician and composer.

This roadtrip is taking place mainly because he is connecting with some fans and business colleagues.

Our trip started 15 September 2016 and it’s about three weeks long.

His gigs included a show in Wellington at the Digterstuin (a poetry garden event), a workshop for learners at Bellville South High, and entertainment for Suiderland Plase awards ceremony at Landtscap.

THE HIGHLIGHTS OF THE TRIP
So far the road trip has been good. We could visit a few family and friends along the way.

I got a bit of a break away from cooking (yay, mommy victory dance). I especially enjoyed eating curry bunnies and the occasional braai meat. I also had a few minutes to myself whenever family members wanted to bond with the Princess.

I got to attend one of my cousins’ 21st party. This included tasting her chocolate cake. She had made the cake two days before the party. Her trick to keep the cake moist was to pour (already made) coffee over the cake.

THE LOWS
Sadly, some of the gigs were cancelled. This meant less income on our trip.

Again, I could not visit all our family members or friends, especially due to lack of funds. Sorry my people.

LEARNING FROM WRITERS
I didn’t think this was funny when the following happened, but it’s a sort of funny story:

I watched an American movie with one of my cousins. Husband comes in and asks what is the movie’s name.
Cousin replies: This Christmas
Husband: But these people are not talking Afrikaans.
I realised he was joking because “This Christmas” sounds like “Dis Krismis”.
My reply: Christmas isn’t even an Afrikaans word. It’s Kersfees.
Often though we Afrikaners write Christmas as slang Afrikaans “krismis”.

I thought of husband’s friend Loit Sols when the above incident happened. Loit is a poet. He writes his poetry in goema Afrikaans (also known as Kaaps Afrikaans).

Loit and husband (Leslie Javan) facilitated a workshop for learners on Tuesday 27 September in Bellville South.

Their aim was to teach the learners about creative writing especially songwriting.

I learned the following about:

WRITING
Make mistakes. For example, Loit told the learners that his way of writing words, especially since it’s goema, does not seem correct in standard Afrikaans terms.

His advice: “Don’t worry about your spelling of words. If you worry about that, you will never finish writing your story. The important thing is to tell your story.”

He added: “There are editors to rewrite or perfect your spelling (or paraphrasing your story).

BEING AWARE
Good writers look for the obvious. Sometimes the obvious are not seen to you, because you become used to your surroundings.

For instance, if you walk to school or work every day, most surroundings or things around you, become obvious (and unnoticeable).

KNOWING YOUR AUDIENCE
Learners/ young people need interactive teaching.

I spoke to a former teacher at the workshop and he said role playing is important when teaching children (or conveying your message).

Instead of telling your learners or audience what you are going to teach, rather let them do role playing and find out for themselves, he said.

It also helps to do a “needs assessment” before doing a workshop.

COLLABORATION
When you have the right partner, a collaboration is good for business and self-development. Husband and Loit complimented each other whenever they did a show or workshop together.

I have two questions for you :
Have you ever been on a roadtrip?
What’s the most memorable advice you received relating to the skills you are passionate about?

Thank you for reading!