Posted in writing advice

Combating Impostor Syndrome

It doesn’t matter what you do for a living. We all experience moments of doubt that cause us to question what we are doing. The feeling that we are unqualified, not smart enough, ill equipt… the list goes on. Impostor syndrome can be crippling, but I’m here to give you a few ideas on how to combat this roadblock and get back to work.

  1. Keep Good Feedback

Let’s face it. We all like to know that we are doing a good job. As kids, we get gold sticky starts and pats on the back for a wide variety of things. As adults, those moments of recognition are few and far between. So we need to learn how to maximize the few moments we do have. I keep a file of good feedback on my computer for this very reason. It is full of emails, photos of cards, and documents with recounted conversations I can go back to when I’m feeling low to remind myself that I do a good job. This little pick me ups remind me I’m better than I think and allow me to keep going.

2. Remember Where You Started

It takes years of hard work and repetition to achieve greatness. When you start to feel like you are going nowhere, look back at where you were when you started. I promise you will have more to show for your efforts than you think. True, you may still have a way to go before you reach your target, but every little step forward is progress. As long as you have that, you’re golden.

3. Focus On What Is In Front Of You

I’ve noticed that when my mind starts to circle the drain of impostor syndrome, it focuses on everything I have yet to do. This increases my stress level and makes me wonder why I thought I could ever handle any of this in the first place. When this happens, I force myself to stop and take a breath. I close my eyes, release the tension in my shoulders, and unclench my jaw. Then I open my eyes and focus solely on the task that is right in front of me. I can’t start the others until this one is finished. So I focus all of my attention into whatever step in the process I am on in that moment. Once it’s finished, I go to the next. Focusing on what is right in front of me helps keep some of that extra brain noise to a minimum, allowing me to make more progress.

4. Allow Yourself Time To Learn

Nobody is a master when they first start. I don’t care who you are about to name. They very well could have been a prodigy, but I can promise you, look into their history, and you find they had a teacher somewhere along the way. None of us are born knowing everything there is about our craft. It takes time. Give yourself a bit of grace and acknowledge that you are still learning. You will always be learning. This growth is a key element of life. One we should embrace with a smile and welcome, because the day we stop learning is the day we stop really living.

I hope a few of these tips are able to help you the next time impostor syndrome creeps into your life. Are there any other techniques you use that are not included on the list? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic. We can always learn more from sharing ideas with each other than we can functioning on an island alone.

Posted in writing advice

Killing Your Darlings

Every writer comes to a moment where they have to make a decision. You have been crafting this story element for what feels like days. It’s one of the best things you’ve ever written. You’re in love with every aspect of it. There is just one problem; it doesn’t fit the rest of your narrative. That’s when it is time to kill your darlings.

Killing your darlings is a common term in the writing community that refers to cutting out scenes, lines, or even whole characters in order to make the story better. It is one of the most painful moments of the editing process I have had to endure.

I recently had to cut one of my favorite scenes out of my manuscript. It told you so much about the characters and their relationship to one another. It has some of the best prose I’ve ever written, but the scene didn’t move the story forward. I fought to keep it. I moved it to different places in the story. I changed some elements to try to make it fit, but no matter how many changes I made, it just wasn’t working. So to the butcher block it went.

One of the good things about writing is that ideas do not have to be confined to their original source. That scene served no purpose in this manuscript, but it could be the glue that holds together a crucial moment in the next. The same is true for characters that you cut out. Maybe the sweet old woman isn’t needed in this story, but she could be a valued confidante in another. That’s why I keep a folder full of discarded story elements. Perhaps I can resurrect them in another project farther down the road.

Killing your darlings is painful. There is a reason you love them and want to hold them close. Just be careful that holding them near and dear to your heart doesn’t lead you to diminishing the rest of your work simply because you couldn’t let them go. Taking them out may be painful, but it will all be worth it in the end when you see the finished product shining back at you from publication.

Posted in writing advice

Surprise Emotions

Have you ever had one of those moments where you go from sitting quietly to having tears running down your face? There is no rhyme or reason for it. Just unescapable emotion welling up inside of you before you can even acknowledge it’s existence? I hate it when it happens to me. Crying is one of my least favorite things in the universe, being surprise attacked by it even more so. Having experienced one of these moments recently, I realized that there is a lot we can learn from them. Not just in our own lives, but in the lives of the characters on the pages we read.

Unexpected emotional outbursts of any kind can serve as a window into unknown pieces of our hearts. It shines a light on feelings that have either been suppressed or ignored. Maybe you didn’t even know seeing something was important to you until it happened, and you found yourself crying in relief at the sight of it. A single tear running down a character’s face can be more powerful than a Shakespearian soliloquy when deployed correctly. Let me give you an example form something I’m working on. Paige’s hand trembled as she ran her fingers across the frayed edge of the clipping. Her chest grew tighter as image after image of her father’s scrap book danced in front of her. A shuddering breath passed her lips. Closing her eyes, she imagined her father’s smiling face beaming back at her from the edge of the arena and smiled. There is a lot going on in that passage. Now imagine what it would have looked like if Paige had just started talking about the images she was seeing or what she was feeling. “I can’t believe it,” Paige said. “He kept all of these? Every last article. Every campaign. It’s all here.” She turned to her mother, a tear making its way down her face. “He really did care. Didn’t he?” The Bard I am not, but you get the point. The exact same thing is happening in both passages, but one has significantly more impact than the other. The stillness of the moment makes everything more intense. It’s in those quiet moments when we let emotions run free that we learn the most. About our stories. About our characters. But even more so, about ourselves. What events in your life have brought up these “surprise emotions”? What did they teach you?

Posted in Uncategorized

New Year. New Focus.

I know. I know. I’m a little behind on getting this one out. Most people posted their New Year’s goals the first week of the month. Not me. You see, the problem I kept running into is that all of the goals I could think of were directly tied into my goals for 2020. They weren’t really new. They just have a different focus.

I have one major goal for this year. It’s one I have been working towards it for a few years now, but I’ve finally reached a point where I can declare it. That goal is to see my first novel, Batter Days, published.

I took an enormous step towards that recently when I sent my manuscript, an unpublished novel, to my editor. I know there will be a few rounds of back and forth with them. Polishing the manuscript into a shiny happy little book is far from done. I also need to purchase ISBN numbers, take care of cover art, handle formatting (the thought alone makes me want to cry) and a dozen other goal posts along the way. It’s a lot of work, but you know what? I’m going to do it.

This year is going to be amazing. It won’t be easy by any means, but at the end of the day, I’ll be able to look back with a smile knowing I’ve done something most never do. I will be a published author. End of story.

What are your goals for the year? Do you have a central focus? A word? What do you want to see happen in your life in 2021? Drop your answers in the comments below. I’d love to hear it and help cheer you on to the finish line.

Posted in recommended

Best Book of the Year

I’m a voracious reader. Since I read across all genres and demographics, it isn’t surprising for me to have 2-3 books going at a time. (Don’t judge me. I switch between them depending on my mood.) That being said, there were a lot of wonderful books in front of my eyes this year, but one stood out above the rest.

The Savior’s Sister is the companion novel to the first book in the Savior Series, The Savior’s Champion. Leila is the One True Savior and rightful ruler of Thessen, but her reign is in peril. A tournament designed to select her future husband is transformed into a way to bring assassins into her palace. Her father, Brontes, is determined to seize her throne for himself. Now Leila is in a race against the clock to discover her father’s secrets in order to save not only her life, but the life of a certain competitor that has absconded with her heart.

While this is a companion novel, this dystopian romance works wonderfully as a standalone. This book checks every box for me. Romance. Suspense. Action. Colorful characters. Immersive world-building. It is the total package.

I thought I knew want to expect going into this. I devoured the first novel in the series. I knew the story, but not all of it. Holy cow! It’s as if it has opened my eyes. There was so much going on behind the scenes of the first novel. Seeing what was happening in the palace while the competitors duke it out in the Labyrinth in some ways was even more satisfying than the original.

One of the most enjoyable parts of this novel is the strong female characters at its center. A lot of novels I read turn a strong female figure into a Mary Sue. This book does not do that. Leila is a kick-ass woman willing to take on anyone, but she is far from perfect. She makes mistakes. She shows vulnerabilities. She has to have help. The whole thing is refreshing.

There isn’t much more I can say about the novel without giving away its surprises, but I will say that this is a fantastic read. There is graphic violence and adult content, so steer clear if either of those is an issue for you.

You can get your own copy of The Savior’s Sister in ebook, hardback, and paperback at the link below. Give it a read. You will not be disappointed. The Savior’s Sister (The Savior’s Series Book 2) eBook: Moreci, Jenna: Kindle Store

Posted in Uncategorized

625 Square Feet – An Advent 2020 Devotional

Every year, my church puts together an advent devotional booklet filled with devotionals written by church members. The pastor asked me to write one this year with the overarching theme of “Fear Not.” I wasn’t just afraid. I was terrified.

It was laughable for me to think that I, with my mental health struggles, could write something about not having fear when I fight against it every day. Then I thought about the overall themes of advent. Hope. Joy. Peace. Love. Christ. Hope jumped out at me, and I was reminded of a rather dark moment during the pandemic lockdown.

625 sqft. That is what my world consisted of during quarantine. 625 sqft, a dining table workstation, and two cats. No family. No friends. Just me, myself, and I.

It was an introvert’s paradise! It was everything I thought I had always wanted. Then my  dream  turned into a living nightmare.

Having no human contact outside of a Zoom call was a blessing in the beginning. I could pick and choose whether I wanted to engage with anyone. If a video call was too peoplely, I could just opt out for the day. No explanation needed.  No risk of hurting anyone. Slowly, that little bit of interaction became all that I had. That is when my thoughts started taking a turn for the worst.

625 sqft started to feel more like 6.25. Everything became cold and dark. That blessed reprieve from human interaction started to drive me deeper and deeper into myself until I started questioning my own validity. My own purpose. I was alone and isolated in a way that I had never imagined I could be.

Every day got a little bit harder. Just mustering the energy to pull myself out of bed felt like one of the trials of Hercules. The resounding thought that “this was it” played over and over again in my mind. I was going to live and die alone. My 625 sqft of paradise had become like a tomb. There was nobody there but me. Nobody to make sure I was alright. I was completely and utterly alone.

Then a voice in the back of my mind reached through the fog and reminded me of something I had almost forgotten.

It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.   Deuteronomy 31:8

As I lay on my couch, tears rolling down my face, a tiny spark of hope welled up inside my chest. I imagined the Father’s loving arms around me as he whispered reassurances in my ear. I was never truly alone. Nor would I be. He had never left my side, and no power on this earth would ever take him from me.