Where is my Muse? – Motivation for bloggers and writers

Another ridiculously hot day here in the south of England, once again hitting 30°C – bordering on assault for my pasty Scottish skin!

It’s tough to concentrate and lethargy has definitely set in. It got me thinking about how I manage to find the motivation to actually pick up a pen or tap away on the keyboard. I’ve come up with a few and it would be interesting to hear what others might add to this far from finite list.

  1. Setting aside a specific and recurrent period of time: Sounds obvious but it works for me. If I know my witching hours are between 8 and 10, I tend not to procrastinate so much and get down to the serious job of creating content. If I sit down ad hoc, I tend to play about on Twitter, Facebook or the like and eventually the time drips away with little to show for my efforts.
  2. The right time: This sort of relates to the above and is personal to the individual. The muse in my head seems to perform better late at night so my creative time has adjusted accordingly. If there’s a time when you’re more alert, make this your daily writing time.
  3. A comfortable space: Again this is personal but I always feel I need a clean and comfortable environment to work in. If my space isn’t just right I go a little bit OCD and clean up everything in the vicinity. I don’t want anything on show past the bare minimum! I suppose the opposite may be true of others and clutter may invoke your muse but the space should and will inevitably match your personality and fit the creative you.
  4. A blank canvas. Switch off your phone. E-mail, smart phones, tablets, and any other electronics-are the enemies of writing. They are the Devil when it comes to distraction and eating away precious writing time. Every notification will pull you into a zone incompatible with creativity. I’m not suggesting doing this if you’re a doctor on call but other than that turn then off – maybe even lock them away! Any messages will still be there when your period of creativity is over.
  5. Ritual: I’m not saying you should be chalking a pentagon into your carpet and chanting at its centre – well unless that floats your boat – but a ritual of sorts might help get you in the grove. I have a set of Star Wars models that must always be arranged in a certain order before I start, but I guess a hat or lucky pants might also do the trick!
  6. A daily quota of words: Back to a familiar one – simply setting a target. I may set aside two hours a day but the word count is the motivation within that period. 1000 words tends to be my minimum and once achieved I can relax. Sometimes I use all my dedicated time to its full and in other instances I finish early but either way having a target quota is essential. If nothing else it is proof you have achieved a tangible result for your efforts that day.
  7. Record and set your targets: I keep an A4 calendar on my desk with daily targets and actual results registered. It gives me an enormous sense of well-being (to quote Blur). It’s nice to see progression and gives you an idea of time frames (first draft will be complete in June – for example).

So that’s me. I’m sure there are many more examples out there and please feel free to share. It would be nice to engage with one or two of you out there in the internet ether.

I hope this has been of benefit and I would appreciate it if you could like or share the post.

I am still actively seeking pledges for my latest novel, ‘The Atlantis Deception’ which is on the road to being published by the crowdfunding publisher, Unbound. If you like Michael Crichton with a little Clive Cussler on the side, please check out the project at https://unbound.com/books/the-atlantis-deception/ and perhaps consider becoming a patron of the creative arts.

Wattpad, Inkitt, Critiquecircle and Unbound – Navigating Writing Websites for the Uninitiated

There are number of outlets for publishing your work on the internet and some are better than others. Over the years I have used four platforms to have my work both critiqued and read: Wattpad.com, cirtiquecircle.com, Inkitt.com, Unbound.com and Authonomy (now deceased).

The biggest of the sites and perhaps the most famous is Wattpad. Boasting an audience of 45 million and over 300 million uploaded books Wattpad felt like the place to start if I were to build a following for my work. I uploaded Atlantis Reborn chapter by chapter over the course of two or three months and set up residence on the club pages, offering advice and help in return for some small promotion of the novel. It was a tough introduction into social media but one that I needed and the experience has held me in good stead for what was to come. I still remember feeling so proud when the novel hit 100 reads!

As with most things in life, you get out what you put in. I (perhaps misguidedly) joined Wattpad after hearing that if you do well there is a good chance of being picked up for publication. Although the chances of being plucked from obscurity to international acclaim is unlikely, even if your work does moderately well, at the very least Wattpad notoriety is something tangible to include in submission letters – should the traditional publication route be your goal. On that point you should note that if you do post a novel online it will lose its first publication rights. This is looked upon unfavourably by many of the big publishing houses. Ironically the same publishers that insist you prove you work can attract an audience – Catch 22!

After realising this a little too late I decided to use my first novel as an advert for the second and treated Wattpad for what it is – a platform to build an audience.

There are two distinct groups on the site; the writers and the readers. There are a huge number of subscribers in the under 18 category, but given the size of their readership, still more than enough to satisfy for most authors to find a readership, whatever your genre.

As a new writer, as I see it your job is to promote your work until it becomes both visible and viable. Treat Wattpad as a kind of safe beginner’s introduction to the world of publication. If you are successful on Wattpad (promoting, reviewing, blogging, tweeting, joining in with forum debates etc.) the experience should provide you with the skills and confidence to apply them in the big bad world of paid publishing. If you do well enough, Wattpad will give something back for all your hard work. From my point of view I was promoted as a featured author and my book even appeared at Comi-con a couple of years ago, associated with the TV series ‘The Dig’. The site are also constantly running various writing competitions throughout the year which again can only look good on a CV if you are lucky enough to win one.

The second of the sites I posted on was Inkitt, which is essentially Wattpad on a smaller scale. The biggest difference in how they market themselves is the analytics. They claim if you prove you have a readership interacting with your novel you will win a publishing deal. This is what drew me in but after a few months the standard and genre of books winning prizes did not inspire me and eventually I removed my work from the site. I have since been told their publishing terms require a 15 year association with their label which seems excessive, especially if the book doesn’t sell.

Criqiquecircle.com is a website I would recommend to anyone involved in writing and interested in improving their craft. The site is free (although there is a paid version) and revolves around reciprocal critiquing. For every chapter you read and review you will receive a credit. Credits can them be cashed by submitting your own work. You need a thick skin as some of the critics can be quite tough on you, some of it warranted but some not. It does hurt, especially at first but it is all part of the learning process. My advice would be to try not to be precious about anything. Take onboard advice you agree with and dismiss what you don’t. That said, if a few people pick up on the same point it might be wise to take notice!

My final port of call is the crowdfunding publisher, Unbound.com. They are a relatively new publishing house and one that has recently taken me under their wing. They may be young but already they can count established names such as Kate Mosse, Terry Jones, Tony Hawks, Andy Hamilton and Katy Brand amongst their clientele.

All crowdfunded monies go directly into supporting the book. It covers copyediting, proofing, cover design, typesetting and eventually marketing. To date, the Unbound community has pledged over £3 million to a variety of projects, ranging from an anthology on race and identity in contemporary Britain to a compilation of terrible old video games you’ve probably never heard of.

Over 113,247 people from every corner of the globe have supported an Unbound project and helped make that idea a reality. To date, Unbound have published 218 books and many of these have been bestsellers and received critical acclaim (included being long listed for the Man Booker Prize). I am proud to have been given the opportunity to bolster that number with my own work.

If you haven’t heard of Unbound I suggest visiting their website. In my opinion this is the seed of change the publishing industry needs to wake it up and end their reliance on the so called super-authors such as King, Rowling and Brown.

Thank you for reading and I hope you can find the time to visit my campaign page and perhaps pledge your support.


Best wishes,