Writer’s Self Doubt

Am I good enough? It is the question that haunts our minds at one point or another, and if you have written for some time, you know what I mean. You might have 4,5,6 … 15 books under your belt, and that moment of weakness can take your breath away, and with it, chisel a bit of confidence. If you let it, it will keep chiseling until it creates a masterpiece of doubt, and at its worst, of fear. It is at that moment of balancing the writer-self with the ego when one wonders (or wanders), and even dares to question if it all makes sense. If you have been there (or are there), it is normal. Artists, whether writers, painters, sculptors … and any human that is passionate about something, passionate enough to doubt that is, will go through this act of balancing. The image of a circus clown crossed my mind.

Am I good enough? The only way to answer this is to keep going and find out. This is not the time to stop and wonder, but to keep pressing the dream, and regain your breath. At each breath of the pen, the air clears out, and with it any hints of fear that might try to creep up in the writer’s soul. After all, we are in a game of souls, and the mind chooses the setting, and the words flow.

Am I good enough? You’ll never know unless you press on.


*Sunrise Souls update – I am in the last revision phase, and almost ready for publication. This one has taken my breath away.

Respecting Your Craft

Each one of us has a journey, and as we walk the path, we give of ourselves, inspire others, take what is given to us, celebrate, and we share our talents. We work hard at a craft that we identify as our talent, our calling – that thing that makes the heart flutter with delight and anxiety at the same time, and gives us joy. Whether for you it is writing, or something else, how you treat your craft will determine how far in your journey you will go with that particular talent. It starts by respecting your craft.

Respecting your craft is personal; you decide how hard you work at it, and the priority you assign as well. You decide to block time in your busy schedule, and to respect that time as an appointment with your talent (or Muse). You decide how far you let others interfere, how much to share, and your level or degree of dedication. You deprecate your craft when critics belittle, or you stand up straight, dust off the venom spores, and keep the focus. You crumble in defeat, or you realize that it is just another step in the long journey, and after all, every soul is on a journey, and as you learn to respect your craft, so will you learn to respect another’s journey – understanding and vision come from doing, and living. Respect your craft. “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.”- Matthew 7:12

The Learning Process Sets You Free

This post is for aspiring writers who want to write but are fighting demons of fear and thoughts of indecision, many times due to dated beliefs. I have met people who are passionate about writing and want to publish their works but will not act on it because they do not feel ready. However, I’ve noticed some misinformation clouding their thoughts and preventing them to act. Some of it has to do with the dated concept of “the self-publishing taboo,” and with the indecision or ambivalence of not knowing which road to take – traditional or self-publishing. It is true that they might not be ready, but only because they are not well-informed. While time goes by, and indecision grows, passion is dormant.

It is true that the publishing industry is undergoing a fast and furious transformation, as we speak. However, it has broken many chains and developed other pathways giving new choices to writers. Despite the turmoil (different in many countries), one thing is for sure – the old model is broken, and change will be continuous from now on.  Aspiring writers who do not embrace learning about the changes and believe only one side of the story may be missing opportunity but only because of lack of information or failure to research and learn. By learning as much as they can about the many venues, pros and cons, writers broaden the picture, and can make a better decision. For some, traditional publishing will be best. Other writers will discover that self-publishing fits more with their personality, work ethics, and writing goals.  It is impossible to discover this if one does not research both industries. Following a crowd (any crowd) while misinformed is not the answer.

Writers who embrace learning do not rush into a decision, but consider all sides and possibilities. When they know the path that best suits them, they embrace it. They have no doubt that they have made the best decision, they don’t regret it, and become free of preconceptions and the damage that misinformation causes.

I want to distinguish between self-publishers and independent authors/publishers. The later group is well-informed, have clear and specific goals, and treat their craft as not only their passion because they approach it with entrepreneurial spirit, and with a long-term vision. This is the case because they did their due diligence well. They know what they want, they know were they are headed, and are happy with their decision – they are free. It is this freedom that lets them deal with the consequences of their decision, despite of whatever the industry is doing at any particular moment.  It is not about the industry anymore; it is about their vision. They are free because the industry does not dictate what their vision must be. They are free to act, to write, to be.

Genre Hopping

Netscher, Caspar - The Man Writing a Letter - ...

Netscher, Caspar – The Man Writing a Letter – 17th c (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In writing, the topic of exploring genres generates many opinions. On one side, the traditional views advice us to pick a genre and stick with it, while other less conventional views encourage exploration of various genres, until you settle on one. Other writers believe that you should write what you want, when you want. I think it all depends on your long-term goals as a writer.

What you want to achieve down the road, and how you view your writing career in the future will determine many of the decisions you make today about your writing. Most aspiring authors who are serious about writing as a career, are mindful of it, from the beginning. No one picks a pen and paper one day and says, “I am going to be a writer.”  At least I hope not. There is some thinking or dreaming, a desire that turns into research about the topic, consideration, learning, and planning. Whether you prepare early in life and follow that road after high school, or whether you know the path but other life circumstances take you away from it, there is always a process that brings you back to decide, research, learn, and plan. For example, someone who wants to take advantage of the technology and writing venues of today to make quick money will bypass the process, and self-publish in a haste whatever they want just to make a quick buck. If not profitable, the person will abandon the endeavor. I wanted to make this distinction because how a serious writer approaches his/her career is very different from how a person who wants to publish a few books to make quick money does it. This shows in the writing, the reader can tell.

The first thing a serious writer will consider, besides publishing traditionally or self-publish, is what genre(s) appeal to her/him. Most likely, the aspiring author will read and learn about those genres, and mentally make a decision to write or not write in that genre. Most likely, we write what appeals to us. Then the aspiring writer considers the dilemma of publishing – traditional versus self-publishing. Most likely, that will lead to learning and researching before deciding. If the writer wants to follow the traditional path of publishing, he/she will stick with a genre for a while. Many times, will change pen names to write another genre. A writer who decides to self-publish will stick to a genre in the beginning but might end up writing in other genres that interest him/her. The pressure of traditional publishing is off as far as selecting another pen name for different genres, so the writer makes a decision about this in a way that works best for her/him.  The goal is a long-term writing career, so there is no need to make quick decisions or judgements as far as following genres, trends, because the goal is not quick money but establishing his career path and growing in it.

Genre hopping without a plan/goal in my opinion is risky for a writer, especially if the writer has not decided yet if traditional publishing is what he/she really wants. A few successful self-published authors have gone back to the traditional model once they have been discovered and offered contracts. However, the reason they were discovered is because they managed to write successful books in a particular genre, and they grew in it, resulting in a decent amount of readers. Now, these authors have the freedom to publish traditionally, and self-publish on the side, depending on their contracts. On the other side, many known best-selling authors who published traditionally, are abandoning this model, and are self-publishing. The issue of genre matters whether you are starting out or have written for a long time. It does not matter so much if you are not serious about a long-term writing career, since the goal is to follow the trends and make money. Don’t get me wrong, serious writers want to make a living too, but they hold their craft at a different standard. The craft becomes priority, not the money. Watch the interviews of best-selling authors who have been writing for some time, and you will see that most of them did not set out to write to make money; they did it because they had a passion for it.

Consider your long-term goals as a writer at the same time that you are considering genre hopping.



The Whirlpool Galaxy (Spiral Galaxy M51, NGC 5...

The Whirlpool Galaxy (Spiral Galaxy M51, NGC 5194) is a classic spiral galaxy located in the Canes Venatici constellation. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I will be away from this blog for this week. I will leave you with this inspirational piece.



I am the one who learns,

who loves, who plays,

who works, who ponders,

who enjoys, who cares, who ignores,

who makes her (his) point, and stands strong.

I am the one who seeks spiritual nourishment.

I am all that, and more.

Clock versus Pen

A woman searches for inspiration, in this 1898...

A woman searches for inspiration, in this 1898 painting by William-Adolphe Bouguereau. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have set a December date for the first draft of The Book of Sharon, and over the next couple of weeks, making it happen will be a priority. My focus has wandered between several projects, and now, it is down to clock versus pen. I am goal oriented and I dislike missing a generous timeframe. It happens, and sometimes our focus splits in many directions. One little trap that I have identify as far as my working habits is learning to battle the generous flow of ideas that one story may generate at a particular point when writing. That is, one scene, character, or something about research may trigger ideas that spark the creation of future novels. It is easy to become sidetracked by these ideas, and become an octopus of multiple future projects, and by default, a turtle on the projects at hand. I have been guilty of it, many times hindering the progress of the story at hand. So far, I have three future books lined up, and unless I deal with the one at hand, in the now, none of them will become reality. This is an easy trap to fall into, and one not so easy to get out of, that is, unless you realize it. Why is that?

The answer is simple – because you as a writer, are working on what you are supposed to do – write and research, and that in itself gives you the illusion – that you are working hard “in the now” (and you are), when in reality, you have crossed the time/space of your current project wandering into a dimension of future projects, and unless you return to the “now” to work on the story at hand, it will consume your productivity, making it harder to make progress, to advance your project. Without productivity in the now, there are no results, no future stories, despite the many lined-up stories. You might argue that research on future novels/projects is healthy, and it is; however, it is when that research is hindering progress of a current project (taking its allotted time) that it becomes a productivity/time management issue.  What happens to inspiration or the “mood for writing?” I believe that there is a time to be inspired and act on it, but also a time (more so) to work hard when inspiration is not present. In other words, if you wait for inspiration to start writing, you will never finish a story. This is why time management for writers is so important. Setting priorities, a balance between work and personal priorities is essential. This post addresses writing priorities. Other than work that has a deadline, my priority (writing) should be my current novel, and anything that falls under it – editing, cover work, early promotion … although these are secondary to it, but an important part that must be done. When doing research, I must stick to the necessary research for the novel, needed to advance the writing of it.

I used to believe that multitasking was good; I was wrong. Multitasking is opposite to productivity – it is the opposite to “being in the now,” and being in the now promotes the flow of productivity, the healthy flow of the project at hand. There are circumstances when multitasking will save the day (ask a busy Mom), however, when multitasking becomes a modus operandi, it hinders the healthy flow of life, of work, and if you are a writer, eventually of inspiration – the Muse itself. As far as my work is concerned, I have learned to name the thieves of productivity, the future ghosts of now, by anchoring foot and returning to the task at hand when I begin to wander, to sabotage myself.




The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly – Use it All

Sensitive, sculpture by Miquel Blay (1910)

Sensitive, sculpture by Miquel Blay (1910) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today’s post is about how you can use your good, bad, and ugly in your writing. That is, the experiences that have taught you much, and that you acknowledge as being of impact. It may bring good or bad feelings to memory, maybe even ugly emotions, but despite that truth, all are very valuable to use in your writing. Be thankful for all you experience, because as a writer, it will translate into genuine characters, giving credibility, strength, and sentiment to your story.

Maybe you were back-stabbed by a best friend, cheated, or even experienced an excruciating event. As sad as it might be for you to remember, it serves you well as a writer because you know how it feels and you can translate the feeling into words. Given that you use the right words, readers will experience the feeling. In a way, achieving intimacy between author and reader.

Bad and ugly experiences can have an inspirational or paralyzing effect because they are that powerful, emotionally speaking. You control the response. You can let feelings and emotions control you to the point of writer’s block, or you can try to understand those and absorb strength/focus/inspiration from the experience; it is up to you, and the time for dealing with the bad and the ugly varies from person to person; however, the time for resolve/action always comes, leaving it to you to make the best or worst of it. You will emerge stronger or weaker, and so the writer in you.

Embrace the good, the bad, and the ugly, grieve and understand it, and let it serve you well.

Developing a Brand Statement

I should have written about this topic sometime ago, but it is something that you do not think about unless you are making a conscious effort to create, evaluate, or develop/expand your brand. Whether you are an author, artist, entrepreneur … or are starting to create a brand, eventually, you will have to develop a statement. In this case, I will refer to your statement as a branded author.

What is a brand statement? To make it easy, compare it to your novel’s elevator pitch. I have read in several sources about many variations of expressing it, but it can be easily explained as the sum of what you/your product is, plus the type of customer/reader that is your target, plus what you/your product offers/does for them (your intention). Once you put that into words, in a short sentence, you have developed your brand statement. For example, my brand statement is: “Inspirational fiction author Maria Antonia Diaz delights readers of fiction and non-fiction by offering works that combine adventure with the supernatural and the divine.”

If you look at that statement it tells who I am/my product as an author, it mentions my target market, and what the product (books) offers the readers. The reason that I include the non-fiction sector, is because my novels have an inspirational tone to them, which might be of interest to that sector. If you think about it in those simple terms, you can develop a simple brand statement that you can sum up in a sentence.  It is an easy way to keep the focus of your brand in front of you, and make it clear to others. Think about who you are as an author and who your readers are, and what you want to do for them through your work. That should lead you to express your brand statement.

What Makes a Bestseller?

What makes a bestseller?

I am as clueless as you are. I don’t know that anyone knows for sure. These days, it is a hit or miss. If you write whatever happens to be selling well, you might have a slight chance of being discovered; however, there is no guarantee, as these times seem to be characterized by fast and furious writing, of aiming a target market and pleasing the publishers. Indies might not try to please the publishers but the readers who crave the craze at the time. Pleasing readers is good; however, not if you are writing something hoping that it sells but your heart is on another place. In that case, you lost your writer.

The other day, I picked up a small paperback, a fantasy/paranormal romance that promised a bit of adventure, just for fun reading; I was in the mood for it. It was from a bestselling author on that genre, who had written many novels, and had won awards. I was truly surprised when (just my opinion) I discovered poor content, weak, poor dialog, and honestly, it needed a decent amount of editing. I continue reading (stunned) but had to skip pages, and eventually, had to put it down. I was puzzled – a best seller, but how? Your guess is my guess.

What makes a bestseller these days? Lots of luck, maybe? Good writing doesn’t seem to cut it anymore. I am an eclectic reader; I enjoy many genres. I have read very good books that are not best sellers. I understand the fever and craze that a genre might cause at a particular moment, but I don’t understand how a poor written story becomes a bestseller. Maybe it is all about sales and hoopla. Your guess is my guess. I would love to hear your experiences (as a reader) on this topic.

What’s in a Name?

Spanish Language Wikipedia logo

Spanish Language Wikipedia logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Short answer – Nothing and everything.

Why? Naming something, whether a character, selecting your author name, or naming a website … unfortunately gives an impression to the person who happens to read it – positive or negative, maybe even neutral. Some authors opt for using a pen name because their names are not “suitable” for the genre they are writing, or because they prefer not to use the real name.  As an example, I will use my own. When you read my author name (Maria Antonia Diaz), you may (or not) assume that I write in Spanish, when I don’t; so far inspiration has come in English, but that doesn’t mean anything because one day, I may sit down and write a novel in Spanish (translations do not count here). Perception of a name depends on many factors – personal, cultural, social … you get the idea. Fame adds another layer. As an example, I will mention J.K. Rowling (famous) and her recent pen name of Robert Galbraith (not famous, at least until he became J.K. Rowling and the book started selling hot, hot, hot).

Recently, I was reading about the importance of obtaining the .com for your author name if available, and how to forgo another domain (.net, .org …) if it was already taken. The reason given is that people are conditioned to search for a .com first, and the mind makes an association with that first name (the .com owner). In addition, people will land on the .com first, and it may not be to your best interest if the association with the already taken domain is not a positive one, especially after so much work and dedication crafting your path. The author’s opinion was that it was better to obtain a .com by tweaking your name, or by choosing some important point/feature from one of your novels to drive attention to your work. This was when panic hit. I realized that I had never bother to see if a .com was available for my author name. After so many years of research and work, how this simple point escaped my attention? If I was so serious about my path as a writer, how something so basic eluded me? The answer to that had to do with how I viewed my two work-related domains, as an intricate part of me, the author. That was the wrong answer. Why? Because readers don’t make that connection, I do.  You can guess what happened next.

I found out that the .com was available, and I grabbed it. In addition, I decided to build a separate website as an author. It is in the making. I could have done that from the beginning, but Inkspeare was the name for this blog, and it is how it developed. Changing the name of it at this point, would be a mistake. This takes me once more, to the importance of thinking your author name and its developement, not only well, but separate from your other online personas/entities. You might view yourself as one and only one, but this is only your perception, and not necessarily translates into the reader’s perception. As far as readers concern, they don’t care about your other jobs, sites, or online entities; they just don’t make that connection that you have internalized.

If you are contemplating a career as a writer, a long and serious one, think about separating the author from your other online personas that do not relate to you as an author, and which readers will not make a connection with, because in reality, it does not pertain to your name as an author.  In the long run, it will be easier for you, and less confusing for the readers. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have many readers now because you are setting the foundation for your future as an author.

So what’s in a name? Nothing and everything.