Tag Archives: authenticity

Writing is a lonely business sometimes

I just had an experience that I want to share as it seems to be quite typical of the writer’s journey. I wrote a post that I thought was really good, got all excited about it, expected some lovely feedback and…. Nothing. I fell flat on my face. Well, my ego did. In comedies, when the main character falls flat in his or her face it’s funny. In real life, it hurts.

Writing can be a lonely business sometimes. People don’t realise. It’s not like those office jobs where you have colleagues, a coffee machine, a boss, a structure, a plan, an annual review and a pay check. For a writer none of this exists. You have to self motivate yourself. You have to build your own plan. And very often it’s wiser to have a day job or at least a part time job so that you don’t find yourself in a state of desperately needing money as it usually repels opportunities when you approach them in that emotional state. Believe me, I learnt the lesson first hand.

So how do you keep that motivation? How do you build self belief? Very often, friends and family, as well meaning as they are, have no clue what it is like to fend for yourself. They have jobs. They don’t take risk. And writing is a very risky business. You risk making a fool of yourself. You risk spending years “trying” with no obvious result. Writers circles can be good, as long as you come across one that is supportive. I admit not having ever been to one myself so I can’t comment. I would love for you to share your experience I’m your circle if you go to one.

I have however, shared my work with friends and family and although I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, I don’t recommend it. For me, what has worked best, is make friends with like minded writers. I learnt over the years that just because you do the same thing does not mean you will be on the same page. We all have our insecurities, especially us creatives. In fact, I would hazard a guess that most of us walk through life feeling like frauds and hoping no one is going to expose us. I do. Our inner critics are vicious. We struggle to gather enough self belief to get started. The last thing we want is to share a piece of work with someone who has ulterior motives. Someone who has unresolved issues and who is going to trash our piece because it’s good and they are jealous. Someone who is going to only pretend to help us but does nothing to really improve our work because they believe in competition and it’s them or us. And believe me there are a LOT of those birds flying around.

If you are put in the position of Irving feedback on a fellow writer’s work, remember the compliment sandwich. Praise-feedback-praise. No one should ever give feedback in any other way.

Be extremely picky who you share work and make friends with. I know this does not sound very nice but at the first sign of a lash out, take your leave. Don’t put up with nasty behaviour. You want to be around people who genuinely want you to do well. They are rare, I know, but well worth the wait. And let’s be honest, it is hard for us too. If your best friend got a book deal before you, it would be hard to celebrate it, especially if you believed that your work is better than his or hers. This is human nature. But we can all rise above the fear, envy, jealousy, anger, resentment and all those dark feelings that we all experiment when we forget there is space for everyone. The best way to do this is to be honest. It is better to say to this friend “I find it really hard to be happy for you when I feel left behind, so please accept my apologies, let me sleep on it and hopefully I will be able to be genuinely happy for you tomorrow morning.” Rather than pretend you are happy but give her a fake smile.

We all have our insecurities, but if we are not willing to stick out for others and support each other, then there is no point. No one else can do it for us, because no one else understands the loneliness of the writer’s life. So in a way, I see this as a necessity.

I don’t believe in competition. I don’t believe competition is doing any of us any good. I much prefer collaboration. So what! the world as we know is competitive? Maybe we can invent a new world for writers where encouragement, support and space for everyone could be created.

At “I can make you write” I want to create such a space.

To your creativity

Ange de Lumiere

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How to deal with your inner critic or the dangers of positive thinking

I used to be a very positive person. With time, I realised that It wasn’t such a good thing. In fact, I believe it stopped my emotional progress. If you try to be positive when you are facing challenges or negative thoughts, you will as a consequence be in denial of your negative emotions. You will be thinking, as I did, “I am a positive person” and as a consequence you will deny your negative thoughts and feelings. The first danger is that you will become passive aggressive and project your negative feelings onto others. This is what happens to people who have issues with anger and who are by “coincidence” surrounded by angry people: their boss, father, boyfriend, husband, or their friends. But no, not them. They never have issues with anger. As a writer, you want to know about this process which is called mirroring. It will bring great depth to your characters.

Positive thinking is only helpful if practiced AFTER you have dealt properly with your emotions. There is no shortcut: Negative emotions have to be processed, experienced and embraced. Truly positive people tend to do that as quickly as possible. Negative people will dwell in the process and often enjoy the attention they get from complaining. They moght even manipulate you into doing what they want through making you feel bad about them. Very different. They make beautiful characters.

But being too positive also stopped my progress as a writer. Let me explain. If you deny your negative thoughts, you won’t hear them when they pop in your head. It doesn’t mean however that they won’t exist. It will just mean that they will live at the level of your subconscious and what they will do there is feed your inner critic who will be given a golden opportunity to get in the driver’s seat and create havoc in your life.

The best way to manage your inner critic (you know that little voice that is constantly nagging at you and putting you down) is not to ignore it, nor to silence it. The best strategy is to listen to it and become aware of its voice. Why? Because then it surfaces into your awareness, which drags it out of the driver’s seat of your life. For those who don’t know it yet, the subconscious is driving your car, always. And it always overrides your consciousness. It always sits in your blind spot. Believe me, you don’t want your inner critic there.

So what is the best way to deal with your inner critic? My suggestion is to engage with it after you acknowledge it for what it really is: a phantom that feeds on your fears and every single negative comment or remark anyone has ever made to you. Fears are only thoughts. Beliefs are only thoughts that you think are true. Recognise that you are not your thoughts. Recognise that your mind is full of junk and good thoughts, but probably a lot of junk. You are not your mind either. Talk to your inner critic. It is the part of you that is scared and that believed everything everyone said, but mostly the negative.

So when your inner critic tells you that you can’t write: realise that it is only trying to help you not make a fool of yourself. It is there to protect you (it really believes it does anyway). Only it has the emotional maturity of a toddler. So engage with it as if it was a toddler. Listen to it with compassion when it is having a tantrum. Hold it. Comfort it. And set boundaries: your inner critic needs to be given a time frame to complain or criticise. I would suggest ten minutes per day. After that, thank it for its voice and get on with your writing.

To your creativity

Ange de Lumiere

Your writer’s name

What name are you going to use as a writer?

I found that personally, this question was holding me back. I needed to find a good nom de plume. Some of you might be absolutely fine using their birth name to write. Some of you might decided to use one because they love the idea but for some of us, it is a necessity. I, for example, didn’t want my family to know what I was writing. I knew that some of it might be hurtful for them. But the main criteria was that I felt that if I wrote under my birth name, i would censor most of what I would write. In other words, the thought that my family (my mother in particular) could read what I wrote paralysed me. Is that strange? For a while, I thought I would wait until her and my Dad went back to the creator but I just couldn’t. I had to write. So I moved countries and started writing in a language that wasn’t my native language. And the English language has given me the freedom that I needed.

How did I chose my nom de plume?

First I changed my first name slightly. The reason was that my name in the English language is nothing like my name in French and I hated how the English pronounced it. No matter how many times I tried to explain to them how to pronounce it, they always butchered it. So I used an anagram which also happened to be a nick name of mine anyway, so it feels familiar. It happens to mean angel, and a lot of people have called me that. I find that sweet.

My surname came from my love of the cinema. The Freres Lumiere were the founder of the cinema. Most film students know that. And there is a very strong and vivid love of the cinema in France, even today. Paris is the city that has the highest ratio of cinemas per capita in the world. France is the third biggest market for films and it is the country that has the smallest percentage of US films screening. In short, we love a good film. So de Lumiere was a way for me to honour that love that my native country and myself have for the cinema. During the best part of my life, I could only cry in the darkness of cinema theatres. And when I did I cried fountains. Bambi is one of my best tear jerker. That says a lot.

Lumiere also means “light” and as a visual artist, the light is very important to me. It is also important to me because I am an energy worker. I believe that we have a force in us, that other traditions call chi or ki, that makes us alive. We are not only bones and flesh. We have a soul. I believe in subtle energies and in the invisible. I experience telepathy, clairvoyance, intuition, mediumship and other “paranormal” phenomenal every day. At the same time, I am a very practical girl whose best subjects in school were science and maths and who had a fifteen year successful career as a lawyer. I need proof. I love contrasts.

Someone once told me my name was ridiculous because it means Angel of Light in French. They advised me to change it as soon as possible. Technically the “de” in French is what is called a “particular” and when used in a surname it is an indication of nobility. I like that it gives me nom de plume un “Je ne sais quoi”: a special touch. So I said to that person (I was not offended in the least) that my name was like marmite, you love it or you hate it. It’s not really my issue.

How are you going to chose your nom de plume? I know authors who have chosen their mother’s maiden name. Or chosen randomly from a phone book. I have one British ancestor called Armstrong and I once considered using that name. I liked the strength of it. There are wonderful first name and second name dictionaries that can help you with that choice.

You can use more than one nom de plume. I have a second one for part of my work that I need privacy for. My agent told me that he has a client who has ten noms de plume. Wow. Does she use a different name for each book she writes? And if she does, why? That certainly triggered my imagination.

The best to your creativity,

Ange de Lumiere

Excuse number 3: Someone already wrote about it

The third excuse that writers create for themselves to not write is that it has all be done before.

This is an interesting angle. It is true that every single topic has probably been explored. However, should that stop you from writing about it? I don’t think so. We each have a unique vantage point and if you are able to offer a new perspective, then you should definitely go ahead with your idea. If you take the example of diet books, that has certainly not stopped people from writing more and inventing new diets almost very day. And as long as people will have an interest in weight loss, then more diet books will appear. I am not saying it is right. It just is.

Take the example of diaries. There are many books in that genre but you can always find a new angle. I loved the secret diary of Adrian Mole. That didn’t stop me really enjoying Bridget Jones’diary. Why should it? There can be travel diaries. Eating diaries (why not, that could be an interesting variation to cook books). Knitting diaries. Pregnancy diaries. I used to write a blog called the tiara diaries. How about the diary of a primary school teacher. The limit is your imagination, which in other words, means there should be no limits. Because at the end of the day, your reader wants one of three things: information, emotion or entertainment.

All you need to be is authentic.

To your creativity

Ange de Lumiere