Saturday, August 23, 2014

Social Media Praise and its Addiction




Pictures are posted. Good news is tweeted. Perfection is shouted from the rooftops.

Insecurity roots itself in our guts. Negativity stirs. Self-doubt takes a major role in our thoughts.

And why? Why do we let others have power over us? Let something fake—because we know most of everything we see online isn’t real—allow it to affect us? Change us in some way? Make us alter the way we feel about ourselves?

Behind the perfect picture is an editor, someone who knows how to alter a photo to make it flawless. Behind all the smiles is years of trials lurking inside someone who is only trying to hold on.  Behind the good news is a whole new string of doubts and insecurities—but most people don’t shout that. Most people want to give the impression of perfection—that they are living the dream life—that they have something to prove, that the facade is more important than the truth. 

Any of you who have been to Disneyland with any number of kids knows that the smiling picture in front of the castle is a total lie… mostly. :)

Now, my point of this post isn’t to rant on social media and the false perceptions it brings. Because I think we as viewers see beyond the pretense. Social media has been around long enough for us to know that most of what we see isn’t wholly true. I’m more intrigued on the reasons why some of us feel the need to post certain things. Why does a mom of small children feel the need to post scantily-clothed pictures of herself? To get praise? Fill a void in her life? Why does a husband feel the need to shout from the rooftops how perfect his marriage is? Is he trying somehow make others think it’s true when it isn’t? (I know for me, I’d be worried if my husband started doing any of these things… or vice versa… LOL…)

I think the praise that can come from social media can be an addiction. And I know so many of you who are able to balance it—and so well. But I think the majority of the world hasn’t figured it out yet. It’s almost like every time we post, we’re sending out a piece of our souls into the world, and we don’t get that piece back. Because each time we throw something out there, we’re not living in the now. In the moment. Our thoughts are elsewhere: What will people think of my post? Will anyone like it? Am I being dumb? Should I delete it? So and so has this many likes. I could never compare. Why am I even doing this?

For some, I believe that the quick praise we get from others online temporarily fills our insecurities with false security. And when that “high” runs out, we have the need to fill it again. Bringing on the addiction.

But I do know that nothing we post will bring happiness. No amount of likes of favorites or comments is going to fill any kind of void or give us any kind of real self confidence. Those who are truly happy don’t have the need to shout from the rooftops how perfect their lives are. 

I think this topic is SO relevant to writing. Because what we often see isn’t the case. We see writers screaming about getting an agent, when in truth—while it is a success—it’s nothing to really scream about. It’s only one step in the journey—a step just like writing the book, or getting beta feedback, or working with an editor. We see book deals around every corner, and while it’s all such an accomplishment, I think it’s important to stop, think, and wonder how our posting will come across to those reading.

Now none of this is to depreciate good news. When there’s good news, we definitely should share it! But I think sharing it in the right way is the key--and with the right motive. We can’t control how or what others will post, the only thing we can control is ourselves and how we’re going to react to what we see.

I once got advice to not care about what others thought of me, but I think that advice is too far on the dispassionate side. I think we should care—not necessarily what people think—but care about them. Because I think when we cease to care, we become too cold. Too focused on ourselves. And I think one of the biggest keys to becoming a good person AND writer is to step outside ourselves and wonder how we can help someone else. To think before we post… to ask ourselves if we’re seeking praise for ourselves or if we’re truly trying to help—to add some light into this world.

I know for me, I’m constantly trying to shut out the noise. To consistently zoom in and focus on the good and on the work. To not get caught up in this world of perfection. It’s why I adore so many of you—because so many of you get it and have taught me so much.

Any thoughts?

Red. Head. Out.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Paid With Pride



I'm so excited to have the lovely Julie Musil on my blog today! Julie is someone I've respected and loved forever, and she pretty much has the best posts on craft and inspiration in the industry. Today she's going to talk about being paid with pride as writers. Here's Julie! 


Perhaps my hubby and I are in the minority, but we’ve never paid our kids for good grades. Instead, we tried to instill in them a sense of pride for working hard--no matter the outcome. I don’t judge other parents who do pay for As on spelling tests, because all parents have different styles.

When my 17-year-old son told a classmate, “I’d rather get an honest B than get an A by cheating,” I knew we were on the right path for us.

I’m glad my own parents were too poor to pay for As. I worked hard in class simply because good grades were my drug of choice. For a nerd like me, there was nothing sweeter than the high I got from my report cards. Pride became my payment.

We can implement this same attitude toward writing and publishing. How?

   Accept pride as payment for a completed body of work. Have you finished a short story? Have you typed “The End” on a full-length novel? These are major accomplishments. Whether or not your story ever earns money, you can be proud that you’ve created something unique.
   Accept pride as payment for a professional product. Have you polished a manuscript according to a publisher’s or agent’s guidelines? Have you studied grammar and plot structure, then applied what you’ve learned? If so, you can feel proud that you’ve created a professional product worthy of submission.
   Accept pride as payment for compliments from others. Have you received a positive critique? Or did you receive valid criticism and used that to make positive changes? Has an agent or editor offered words of kindness, even if they rejected your piece? If you’re traditionally or indie published, did a reader give your book a glowing review? If so, rejoice in what you’ve done right.
   Accept pride as payment for carving your own path. Have you taken the road less traveled? Have you ventured into unknown territory with fear? Have you tried one road, realized it wasn’t right for you, then switched? If so, you should be proud of your courage. We won’t know which path is right for us until we take that first step. But that first step can be difficult.
   Accept pride as payment for the example you’ve set for others. If you’re a parent, have your kids watched you work hard and persevere with a good attitude? Did they cheer you on as you took a major leap? Have you inspired other writers to be bold and pursue writing on their own? Have you encouraged another writer to keep on keepin’ on, despite setbacks? If so, you should be proud of your impact on the lives of others.

Notice that none of these measures involve real money. Cash is great, but for most writers, this journey is not about financial gain, but about honing a craft and sharing a piece of ourselves with others. There’s great peace in knowing that payment is rendered by ourselves--in pride.

Are you proud of all you’ve accomplished? Have you reached a major milestone lately? Have you taken a small step forward? Please share!

 
Julie Musil writes from her rural home in Southern California, where she lives with her husband and three sons. She’s an obsessive reader who loves stories that grab the heart and won’t let go. Her Young Adult novels, The Summer of Crossing Lines and The Boy Who Loved Fire, are available now. For more information, or to stop by an say Hi, please visit Julie on her blog, on Twitter, and on Facebook.


Isn't Julie fabulous??? Do check out her work. She's so incredibly talented. (And The Summer of Crossing Lines is out TODAY!!! I just bought my copy!) I know that I'm definitely reaching some of my own milestones right now, and it feels good to continue to discover who I am as a writer. 

Thanks Julie, for gracing us with your presence today! <3 

Red. Head. Out. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Demons. Fate. Remake.


As I’m rewriting the novel that holds my heart, I’ve had a lot of thoughts going through my head.  And one of the songs that’s been repeating in my mind as I’m rewriting, is Demons from Imagine Dragons. There’s a passage in the song that says, 


They say it's what you make
I say it's up to fate
It's woven in my soul
I need to let you go


And while I definitely have my own personal opinions, I wanted to throw some thoughts out to you, wanting to know what YOU believe. Do you believe in fate? That you’re destined to do things? That there are things on this earth that only you are meant to accomplish? 

Or do you think the opposite? That everything we create and make of ourselves is determined only by us. That only we can pave our own paths. That there are such things as coincidences. Or is there a combination of both extremes? 

I don’t mean to get all deep on you. But I’m fascinated by the topic, and I really would be interested to know what you think. Would you share your thoughts? 


And if you don't feel like being open, you can just comment on how jealous you are that *I* have a copy of Ilima Todd’s REMAKE!!!!! I got a copy of her ARC yesterday and I’m FREAKING to read it! I'm going to start reading tonight!!! 


Cue: Cheesy picture: 

In other news, I just finished beta reading a FAB book by Kyra Lennon, so keep that on your radar--look for an announcement from her soon. And Jolene Perry also has a new book out under her Mia Joseph's pen name, called, Blurring The Lines, which is SO FABULOUS. And Julie Musil has a guest post coming next week that you will all love! 

Anything else worthy of report?

Red. Head. Out. :) 

Monday, August 4, 2014

#LA14SCBWI Conference!



I’m not sure what it is about the SCBWI LA conference, but each year I attend, I seem to find exactly what I’m looking for.

This is my fourth year going to the conference, and each time, I’ve been in a completely different place on this writing journey… whether with my emotional journey or my actual craft/ability/knowledge of the industry. And for some reason, the SCBWI has always been able to reach me—to know exactly what I need at the time and refuel my tank. I’m always able to find myself again. To find what it is I want and what I need and where I want to go.

As we all know, sometimes that "magic something” leaves us. We keep working without really remembering what it is that’s rooted inside of us—that reason why we’re writing in the first place. And I’ve been to conferences that focus only on craft or the industry or how to get from point A to point B. But the SCBWI is different. They seem to get it. They focus on the magic. The art. The heart. The reason why we pour our souls into our work and spent sleepless nights crying over whether we have the ability to really create.  They get that it’s not only about the change that takes place within ourselves, but it’s that books change people. (A concept I could go off forever about, but won’t) 

Recently, I’ve had to face some difficult decisions as far as writing goes, and it’s because of this 2014 LA conference that I’ve been able to block out all the different voices shouting at me and reaffirm my goals. I've found that no matter what you're looking for as a writer, the SCBWI has what you need. Including friends. 
With the ridiculously talented Liz Briggs

I’ve connected with dozens of writers who really have become my best friends. (Each one of them much more talented and cooler than I) ;)


And now for fun pics!

With Jessie Humphries---this girl is seriously hilarious...
With the fab Ryan Dalton
With "THE" Jerry Bennett (Several people asked me if he was a celebrity--which of course he is--and you can see I snuck a pic of him doodling…)
Yes, everyone… I'm with the gorgeous Emily King… I KNOW)
My fav. Jolene Perry, Allie Brennan, and Christa Desir. All girls who are way too cool for me.
And with Karen Grencik, who will always be so special to me!


If you're a YA, MG, or picture book writer, I highly urge you to become a SCBWI member. It's changed my life, opened up opportunities I never dreamed, and helped me take the necessary steps toward this crazy journey called publication. 

Red. Head. Out. <3 

 
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