My name is JB Johnston and I suffer from Imposter Syndrome. I’m currently working on my first novel and want to vomit when I have to admit to being a writer or when anyone even asks me what the book is about. Am I a proper writer because I’m unpublished or just a wannabe who thinks she can write and actually can’t? It’s so confusing. I’m a member of the Romantic Novelists Association New Writers Scheme and submitted my novel for critique last year. While the critique stated some really helpful advice I will admit initially to jumping up and down screaming ‘I’m pants at this writing lark! It says so here!’ Once I’d calmed down I saw some positive things in the critique. Since then I’ve been working on ‘fixing’ my novel and I plan to re-submit it again this year.
As a fledgling writer my biggest hurdle to overcome has been time. I simply have little time to write and so therefore I’m writing in short bursts. I’ll literally be 1000 years old by the time the novel is finished. I know we all suffer with time constraints but as someone who works, is a carer and runs Brook Cottage Books virtual book tours promoting other authors I find little time to get my own book off the ground. But I enjoy what I do and just need to work better on my time management. I’ve recently applied for a promotion in work that would reduce my working week to 3 days, so I can keep one of my days off to write. So, keep your collective fingers crossed that I get the job!
Sometimes, when finding the time to write seems like a chore I fall out of love with my novel. This has happened to me a couple of times. Yet, when I knuckle down and put aside a bit of writing time I fall head over heels in love with my characters all over again and can’t think about anything else. It almost becomes all consuming and I even dream about them. If I was to begin over-analysing why this novel is taking so long I’d probably come to the conclusion that there’s a part of me that’s terrified to put the novel out there. To let other people read it is only going to open myself up to criticism. I never actually consider that maybe someone will love my writing. By not actually finishing the novel I can keep protecting my fragile ego! At over 86,000 words I know I’ve a little bit more to do and a little bit more to tweak and that both terrifies and excites me.
As a book blogger and book tour coordinator I know how much it means to authors when someone enjoys their work. All the blood, sweat and tears during the writing process have been worth it all when a book receives a glowing review. I also know how heart-breaking it can be to read a negative review. Do I really want to put myself through this inane type of torture? Of course I bloody well do. I need to write. I have to write. I have so many stories fighting to get out of my over-crowded head that I often end up writing the opening chapters to new novels before actually finishing the one I’m writing now!
When I do eventually sit down to write I must have complete silence (impossible in this mad house) or wear my headphones and listen to a playlist I have prepared to write particular scenes. In my novel there are quite a few emotional scenes, so I need appropriate music to make the sadness flow from my fingers to the page. Quite often I cry at my own writing because it makes me emotional. I’ve printed out my novel and its sitting in a ring binder with hundreds of sticky notes on each page and lots of things scored out with red pen. I must have a selection of coloured pens at the ready. An essential writing aid is a nice candle. No idea why I like to have candles burning when I write! I also like lots of snacks and endless cups of tea. And lastly, the most useful tool I have is a Dictaphone. Its great to read your work out loud and listen back to how it sounds. It helps in checking the flow, particularly for dialogue. There you have it. My writing life in a nutshell. I hope that eventually my book will be well received. Until then, I’ll keep fighting those insecurity demons and maybe one day I’ll be able to stand up and say……. ‘My name is JB and I am a writer and a good one!’
JB Johnston (real name Debbie) is a book blogger and book tour co-ordinator over at Brook Cottage Books where she helps authors promote their work by organising virtual book tours. In the real world JB is a social worker, carer and writer. She has written her first novel but so far is too frightened to send it to a publisher! She is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association New Writers Scheme. When JB isn’t buried under a pile of books she can often be found in some obscure yoga pose at her local yoga studio. Always up for a challenge, JB has also taken classes in ballet, modern dance and pole dancing but has as much grace as an octopus falling out of a tree so gave them up and is now trying to learn something useful and is currently studying British sign language instead!