Episode 4: Banish Imposter Syndrome with Emma Dhesi

Welcome back to Alchemy for Authors!

In today’s episode I chat with Book Coach, Podcaster, and Women’s Fiction Author, Emma Dhesi.

We discuss how writing her first novel changed Emma’s life, and how she’s using this experience to help other new authors on their writing journey. We take a look at the inner critic and imposter syndrome and how we can move through those moments when our writing mojo drops. We also discuss how to find time to write and how to develop our writer’s voice. Emma also shares with us her experience channeling a book.

To find out more about Emma or to connect with her check out her website at https://emmadhesi.com/, her podcast Turning Readers into Writers, or join her Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/TurningReadersIntoWriters

Books mentioned in this episode:

  • The War of Art Written by Steven Pressfield
  • Big Magic Written by Elizabeth Gilbert

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Find the full transcript of this episode below.

Episode 4: Banish Imposter Syndrome with Emma Dhesi – Transcript

Jo: Welcome back to another episode of Alchemy for Authors. I’m so excited to share with you my chat with the book coach and woman’s fiction author Emma Desi. In today’s episode, we talk about how writing her first novel changed Emma’s life and how she’s using this experience to help other new authors on their writing journey. We take a look at the inner critic and impostor syndrome and how we can move through those moments when our writing mojo drops. We discuss how to find time to write and how to develop our writer’s voice. Emma also shares with us her experience working with a coach to channel a book. So I know you’re going to love this episode and learn so much from it, just like I did. So grab a drink, find a comfy chair, sit back and enjoy the show.

Hello, my lovelies. I’m so excited to introduce today’s guest, the wonderful Emma Desi. Emma is a book coach who specializes in helping beginner writers or authors write their first novel. Emma helps you to improve your craft. She provides feedback on your written work and navigates you through the emotional roller coaster of finishing a novel. And for more hands off assistance, Emma also hosts a Facebook group and a podcast, both called Turning Readers into Writers. So welcome, Emma. So good to have you.

Emma: Thank you so much, Jo. I’m thrilled to be here. I’m really excited and it’s so wonderful that I get to be part of this new venture for you, your new podcast. So I’m really excited to be one of your first guests.

Jo: Well, thank you. And what is really cool is this is pretty much the anniversary of when I think I was on your podcast, which is just fantastic.

Emma: Well, there is Alchemy, right there. A little bit of magic.

Jo: Exactly. So it’s just meant to be. Actually just to give our readers a little bit of backstory, our listeners, I just wanted to mention I think our paths actually crossed like a year and a half ago, actually, when I was just starting my author journey and we teamed up to do newsletters. Well, I think through, like, book funnel or story origin or something like that. And then somehow we’ve just kind of followed each other all the way along. And here we are. So this is really cool.

Emma: It is nice, isn’t it? It’s funny how we’re on total opposite ends of the world and we even write in a different genre. But it’s lovely how the Internet facilitates these random meetings that we wouldn’t have otherwise had. It’s so lovely.

Jo: It’s so good. So first up, I would love if you could just tell us a little bit more of your backstory and how you came to the writing life and how you became an author yourself and what led you here.

Emma: Yeah, sure. So, like, a lot of people I had the vision when I was about twelve, I’m going to be a writer. I want to do this. It’s going to be wonderful. And then also, like lots of other people, life took a scenic route, and education got in the way, then work got in the way, then family and traveling and all the other kind of things that come with living. But through all of that time, I had taken online classes, going to workshops, read lots of books, craft books, and sort of kept dipping in and out and would journal a lot and then have periods where I would write ferociously and maybe get halfway through a novel and then give it up and think, oh, I can’t do this. It’s not meant to be. It’s too hard. And I’d much rather be going out and doing other things. So that pass and carried on for quite a long time. But I got to about coming up for about 40, I think, and the itch kind of came again. And by this time, I’m fed up with this. Either do it or don’t make up your mind. So I gave myself the challenge to either finish a first draft or just stop, draw a line under the sand, and move on and find another creative outlet. So I accepted my challenge and said, okay, I’m going to write this first draft. And then I would know if I finished that first draft. I’d know whether or not I enjoyed it, and it was everything I thought it would be, and it was thrilling and exciting, and I enjoyed the process. Or I would discover that actually it was horrible, painful, miserable. I hated every moment, and I never want to do it again. And then I said, no, but I did like it. Certainly it was challenging, and it took me a long, long time to finish that first draft. But the feeling of accomplishment when I did, I do sort of say it changed my life, which sounds very dramatic, but it really, really did change my life. Not in that moment, but I look back and I see how that was the catalyst for so many other things. Writing a book, writing a novel had been something that had eluded me for like 30 odd years. And I didn’t think I had the commitment. I didn’t think I had the capability. I didn’t think I had the skill to write such a long piece of work. So even though that first draft was pretty abysmal, it was there. I’d done it. I’d shown myself, prove to myself I could do it and I could commit to it. And so then the next challenge for myself was, okay, you’re going to leave it there, and it was fun, or you’re going to revise it and see if you can make it publishable. And so, again, I took on that challenge and watched a lot of YouTube videos, took a long, hard route towards revision and editing, and finally kind of putting it out in the world but then, yeah, it was the catalyst for so many other things. I published a few more books. When I looked around me, what people were saying, there was so much talk about, I don’t have time. I don’t have the confidence to do it. There’s a voice inside of me that says I can’t do it. And I saw this from so many women, not just women, but from a lot of women. And when I could look back and see how much writing that first book had changed my life, I really wanted that for other women, and particularly women perhaps, who had reached the middle of the life, have raised their kids down all that side of things, had a career or midway through a career, but now feel they want something that’s for them. But this is a time where you can take a breath, look around and think, OK, what do I want to do? What will light me up, what will make me happy and give me more joy? And so I wanted to help those people and those women in particular find a route into writing. And so that’s when I started coaching, and I’ve been loving doing it. It is a wonderful, wonderful experience. And in doing so as well, sort of selfishly in helping other people, I’m also helping myself because we get to talk through so much. And I kind of give myself Pep talks at the same time as giving my students Pep talks. And so it helps my writing, too. So it really feels like this lovely win win situation for all. And it’s good fun. So I love it. So that’s how I came to be where I am.

Jo: There’s so much to that. That’s so inspiring. I really love how you said that when you kind of got to about approaching 40, that something just made you kind of wake up and say, now or never. I was exactly the same. I think I was about 37, 38 or something when it was like, okay, now it’s coming to crunch time. You got to either do this or stop talking about it. Yeah. So that’s really cool. And the fact that you’re helping other women now who are kind of also at that kind of life point where they realize they’ve been pushing aside their passions. And so that’s just fantastic. That’s really cool. So with the authors that you help, you talked a little bit about, it sounds like you had that kind of inner critic imposter syndrome going around a little bit, which I think we all feel, was that the main thing that a lot of your authors who are coming to you, was that the main thing holding them back or what was holding them back?

Emma: I think it is predominantly the mindset side of things, how they talk to themselves. There is obviously an element of it that’s about crafts and having trust in the craft that they’ve learned to date so there is a portion of it that is about that. And just having an outside person’s point of view or a person who is as invested in your book as you are because our friends and family simply aren’t. No, just not. So finding somebody who is willing to talk to you for a good period of time about your book and see objectively from a Reader’s point of view as well as from a craft point of view is in itself just an amazing opportunity to have. And it can open up so many doors internally and for the story. But the definitely, definitely. Without a doubt, even those writers who are more confident with their craft, there’s still always a point within the storytelling process that the mojo drops, the self belief drops. And I can see it’s funny, actually, because I do my calls over Zoom, and often as soon as I see them, I can just see on their face they’re okay. We’ve hit the midpoint now. So often it is around the midpoint of the book is when it’s the toughest. It’s at its hardest. And so a lot of what we do talk is about how you’re feeling about the book right now, how you’re feeling about writing in general. And of course, there’s all sorts of other stuff in life going on, not just pandemics, but we’ve had Christmas coming up. There’s kids, parents, whole life going on. So a lot of it we do end up talking about how you’re feeling right now, what’s going through your brain, what’s hindering you, what’s tripping you up right now and talking through that. So the mindset element, the inner critic element is huge. And it’s something that I think no matter how experienced you are, it’s something that never entirely goes away. Jo, I know, I’m pretty sure you follow Joanna Penn as well.

Jo: Yes. Love her. Love her.

Emma: I remember her talking about she’d been to Thriller Fest. And on the panel she was in the audience and she was watching a panel of thriller writers, including Clive Cussler. I don’t know if you’ve heard of the story.

Jo: Oh, yeah.

Emma: So big, big thriller writer, best seller, million dollar earner, all the rest of it. And when he was asked about it, he too said, Gosh, with every book that comes out, this is the one I think they’re going to find out. I have no idea what I’m doing. I’m going to realize that it’s all just a mistake. And so what it said to her and then subsequently to me, I guess is okay. If Clive Cussler can still feel those moments of doubt and insecurity, it’s okay that we do as well. That’s all right. It’s part of the process.

Jo: Absolutely. That’s so true. Do you have any recommendations how to get through that, though? Because so many and I have in the past, too, become really unstuck when we get to those moments with the self doubt. It’s so overwhelming that you can’t move forward. So what’s your advice for somebody who’s kind of in that point, whether it’s showing itself as writer’s block or just procrastination or anything like that, that they just can’t get themselves to continue on with their writing? What’s your advice?

Emma: Believe it or not, my kind of strongest advice is to listen to that voice. It’s like anybody that little inner critic that’s in the back of your head. I encourage people to think of it as its own personality or kind of personalize it. What’s the word that they use when you give a human form to something? I can’t remember what it’s called…

Jo: Personification.

Emma: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. So personify it and hear it and listen to it. And when it says to you, you’re rubbish, you’re no good, you can’t finish this who you think you are, all those myriad of things that go through our heads, you can just kind of nod quietly at this voice and say, okay, I hear you. Yes. Thank you very much. Thank you for expressing your opinion. But for now, I’m just going to sit you down in this corner. I hear you, but I’m going to ask you to sit down in this corner, and I’m going to carry on writing anyway. And it seems some people just think, are you mental? What are you doing talking about this in this way? But it is this kind of voice of fear that wants to keep us safe in the back of our head and it wants to be heard. It wants to be recognized just like all of us. So if we can offer that opportunity to feel heard, to feel that it’s been listened to and has a part to play, it can calm down. It can just kind of take a breath itself and say, okay, all right, I’m going to stick here. I’m not going away. Don’t get excited. I’m not going to disappear. But I will calm down for the moment so that you can sit down and write for the next ten or 20 minutes. And I would encourage people who are really struggling with that real imposter to that point where you feel you can’t move on and you can’t write anything. Just cut that writing slot, right, right down and just say, okay, I’m just going to do ten minutes today, and I’m not actually going to write anything up in the manuscript itself, but I’m maybe going to write a setting or I’m going to write about a character, just something to do with the story that you’re telling, but not putting pressure on it, that it’s going to make it into the final cut, that it has to be perfect, but it’s just a way of keeping your hand in just keeping yourself going, but without that pressure of having to be perfect. And we do all have those days, as you say, one of my mental tricks for myself is I say to myself. Emma, all you’ve got to do is write 50 words. That’s it. Just 50 words. If you can write those that you’re done and you can move on. And you don’t need to feel guilty that you’ve not written anything. You don’t need to feel guilty that you’re avoiding it. You’re not avoiding it. I’m sort of trying to trick my brain so that it feels that it’s making progress, committed to the work, still doing it. But without that real big, you must write 2000 words today. Pressure just tricking the brain out of that flight fight. What’s that flight, fight?

Jo: Freeze.

Emma: Yeah. So trying to trick your brain out of that so that you have a bit more maneuverability to kind of just keep slowly, bit by bit, moving forward because it does pass as well. Yeah, it does.

Jo: I love that. I love that advice about keeping the momentum even by just doing a little bit every day. Yeah. For a while I taught I think it’s the equivalent of well, for us, it’s year five, year six. So I think that’s grade four, grade five in US and other countries and whatnot. And it was right around NanoWriMo times, that’s National Novel Writing Month. And we did a little bit of a project about the inner critic where everybody designed what their inner critic looked like. So quite often they were kind of like monsters holding us back, saying all those negative things. And then we took those monsters and we put them in jail. So we made a little jail for them. And every time it came to writing time, we put them in jail and we weren’t allowed to listen to their voice. And that was so we could just get those words down on paper. We could bring them out when we’re editing. But when we’re in that first draft, it was all about words on paper. And I feel like I learned so much from that myself. Like, NanoWriMo taught me a lot about just not listening to that inner critic. When it comes to first draft, as much as you can push it aside, just say, I’ll get to you later. But right now it’s all about getting words done.

Emma: Yeah. I’m amazed. I love to hear the story because I’m just trying to think six. Is that about ten year olds?

Jo: Yeah. 10,11 year olds. Yeah. And they love it.

Emma: It’s wonderful that they’re doing Nanowrimo and even talking about the kind of inner critic so each of them get to recognize it’s not just me that feels this way. Everybody’s got it. That’s wonderful.

Jo: And they get it at that age, they have that little voice in their heads, too. There are some that are really resistant to writing because they’re like, well, I’m not good enough. I can’t spell. I don’t know my punctuation, but it’s the same for adults. We’re exactly the same. And so I know for myself to move through, I just remind myself not listening to the inner critic today when it’s the first draft in particular, if I don’t know the word, I literally like if I kind of get my brain just blanks out as I’m in the middle of a sentence and I’m like, oh, what’s that perfect word? I’ll literally just write the word something in brackets so that I know I got to come back and fill in that something, whatever it was, and just keep going.

Emma: I was reading an article about the inner critic, and there was a quote from one author saying that when she’s first drafting the quote was “Write as fast as you can so the critic can’t catch up.”

Jo: Love that.

Emma: I love that, too. Really nice way of seeing it. Yeah. Maybe I’ll adopt that into my coaching.

Jo: Yeah. Well, there we are. And so I’ve been doing a little bit of kind of looking around your Facebook page in that, too. And I think I saw some mention you’ve got some women at the moment who are doing is it a bestseller, how to be a best seller, course? Can you talk a little bit about that as well, and what that kind of dives into?

Emma: Yeah, absolutely. This is the third series I’ve put together. It’s an interview series. And I bring in this time we’ve got 28 speakers who are coming in to be. And I’m interviewing each one about a different subject, about writing itself and about the writing life. So it’s called Be a Best Seller, 3.0: Structure Your Story For Success. And really, it’s looking at not just the structure of the book, but the structure of your writing life. And we do start off with looking at things like how do you make time for your writing? And again, I think this does come down to this, comes down to how much you value yourself as a writer. So often writers, new writers say, I don’t have time to write. I don’t have time to write. And, you know, yes and no.

Jo: You’re calling me out on this because I say that all the time. I totally agree with you, though.

Emma: This is interesting, isn’t it? When you think about it, we think back to maybe when you meet the love of your life, you’re still busy, then you still have a job, you still have a social. But yeah, when this person comes into your life, it is amazing how everything else clears the path for that hot date that night out. So it’s the same for your writing. And I do try and encourage people to think of your writing as this hot date that these are people you’re going to go and spend some time with and have a good time with. Because when you come to it with joy and you come to it with positivity, then it’s not a chore and you want to do it, then you want to spend time with it and planning out your writing sessions at the beginning, when you’re just kind of formulating your routine, you’re kind of still yet to become a part of your life. Schedule it in. And so Rhonda Douglas, one of my guests, was talking about this. It’s so important to schedule it in, because if it’s not on the diary, if it’s not on the calendar, it ain’t going to get done. No. So put long ones in. She suggests 40 minutes, an hour, but also plug in those schedule in those little ones as well. That’s just ten or 15 minutes just so that you’re keeping your story front of your mind. It’s not so easy to forget about it and then the whole week has passed. But by keeping it top of mind, you keep close to it and it becomes less threatening and less scary because you’re intimate with it and you know what’s going on. I don’t know about you, Jo, but certainly if I haven’t looked at a manuscript for a while, I do forget what’s happened when I come back to it. Then I’ve got to start reading the chapters all over again to remind myself who is who and what’s going on and where I got to. And when you keep doing that, then it continuously feels like this uphill battle. But you never kind of feel like you’re getting anywhere. You’re always starting from square one. So Rhonda’s interview about scheduling in your time is such a great way to start it off. But then we also have people coming in to talk about the writer’s voice and how that comes through practice. We hear about it a lot that way. Agents are looking for a unique new voice. What is that? That kind of feels so intangible, but it comes through practice. That’s the kind of thing that kept coming through with the interviews about voice. Was it’s about practice? It’s about being at ease with your writing and kind of giving it space to breathe, enjoying the process and through that practice and through being such an overused word. But by being authentic with your style and the way that you write, then that’s where your voice starts to come out. But that comes through practice as well. So dull, isn’t it? Everything has to be done to practice. I want to be able to do it straight away. It is like doing your piano scales. You’ve got to be practicing. It’s been great. And then looking at craft itself. And then at the other end, I’ve got people talking about contracts, because that’s important. And then ultimately the big, big test is how do you find readers as well? So we cover a whole multitude of things, but yeah. So I don’t know when this episode is going to go out. The event may have passed, but it will definitely be a 4.0. So keep your ears and eyes open.

Jo: Fantastic. We’ll make sure that we get all of your details on that in the show notes so that people can kind of follow and you can keep them updated with that because that just sounds amazing. And I’m going to have to take away the point about so I do schedule. I schedule. Word counts. Obviously it doesn’t work for me because I don’t always do them. But I love the idea of the scheduling the time, even though short, little spurts of time, because I tend to write in bigger blocks. And I’ve always tended to work that way by shifting my mindset to get to the point of even just doing that 15, 20 minutes a day or something like that. Scheduling for those busy days, just scheduling a little block of time, almost like having permission to do that. I’ve never actually thought of doing that. It’s funny how it’s just those small things can make such a difference. That’s cool.

Emma: And what I like about that, just kind of thinking back to the mindset element of this is when you’ve got your time blocked in or scheduled in, it takes the pressure off and it takes the guilt away because you can kind of have this in the back of your brain or we go, oh, I’ve got to do my writing. I’ve got to do my writing. Then it gets to the end of the week and, oh, I didn’t do my writing. And then that guilt kicks in again and you rubbish about yourself. And then, oh, well, if I didn’t do it, maybe I’m not meant to do it. Surely if I was meant to be a writer, it wouldn’t be this difficult. But actually, it’s just that life is busy. We’re learning a new skill, so it is difficult. There’s no doubt about it. Writing a book is challenging. So when you’re scheduling it in, you’ve cleared that time for it, you’ve dedicated that time for it. So it takes away that pressure of all constantly chasing your tail. You’re in control of your time. You get to decide when you write and hold those boundaries in place because that’s another thing that our family and friends don’t get this always, and they don’t see why it’s so important that we want to lock ourselves away and talk to imaginary people. So hold those boundaries, ring fence that time and make it clear to people. This is important to me. Please understand.

Jo: Yeah, that’s so good. What is your routine look like? What does your writing routine like? Do you have a writing routine or does it kind of fluctuate day to day? I’m actually in the process of changing it, and that’s another important point, I think, to note that we have different phases of life in different seasons and so we can be flexible. It doesn’t mean that everything is set in stone going forward. But for the last, I would say three or four years, my routine has been pretty solid. So I’ve got young kids, so I would drop them off at school and then go to a local cafe, and I’d write from about 09:30 to about 11:30 in the morning, and that was my solid 2 hours time, and I managed to first draft really well there. And what I love about cafe is there’s none of those distractions that I have at home. The internet connection in the cafe is really poor, so it’s frustrating to go online, so it stopped me doing that. What I don’t like about working at home is that feeling of isolation and being so on my own. And so by being in the cafe, then I have human voices around me, which takes away that feeling of isolation. But they’re all doing their own thing, so they’re not interested in me and so they don’t interrupt me. So for me, that works really well. Then the lunch break, then in the afternoon I can do all my coaching calls, any of the admin that I need to do. Picking the kids up from school is quite a nice break and stretch for 20 minutes, half an hour, and then I’ll finish up about six or seven in the evening. So it’s fairly long days, but when you love what you’re doing, it’s good fun and the hours pass so quickly, don’t they?

Jo: Yeah, that’s fantastic. That’s really cool. I know before I had the kind of guts to start this journey myself, I just loved hearing what other authors did for their routine and how they kind of structured their day and that so I’ve always found that really fascinating.

Emma: But I know lots of writers who started off and still often write exactly how you did. Because my admiration for you is amazing, because you’re someone who gets up so early and then either right goes to the gym, gets the day started, and I’ve just never been able to do that, or I’ve never wanted to do it enough to make myself get out of bed at that time. But that’s the way it’s done, though, isn’t it? It’s finding that time that you have, you have such a busy day job on your feet, talking all day, managing all those people. So I really admire you. I think the way that you’ve got to do it for anyone who’s starting out, you’ve got to find those looking moments that you can fit in. Because I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit recently. When we think about famous writers, traditionally published writers, who we see on Oprah and stuff, and we think they just get to sit at home and write all day. They don’t have to go and do a day job like we do, but actually they do because now they’re celebrity. Now they have a contract, now they have to go on book tours, now they have to speak to Oprah, now they have to do all these things, and that interrupts their writing time as well. So no matter how big and successful you become, we’re all in the same boat. We still got to manage our time and be in control of it.

Jo: That’s true. That’s true. I will just say, on a side note, I am not a morning person. I do get up at ridiculous times. We’re quite often up at 4:30 in the morning, which is mental. And we usually go to the gym first. And when I say we, it’s my husband and I, but if it wasn’t for him, I probably wouldn’t. He is a morning person. I’m more of a night owl.

Emma: That’s love for you.

Jo: But when he gets up, he tends to wake me up anyway. So you just do it. And life is so busy, I just wouldn’t be able to fit in everything otherwise. I think it’s important to know why you want to write. You have to be passionate about it. It’s got to have a meaning and purpose for you. And through that comes the motivation.

Emma: 100% absolutely. It’s actually something that I do talk to my students when we first start working together. We do talk about that. What’s your vision? What is it that you want to achieve with your writing life? And then we also dig down into why are you writing this particular book? Why is this book important to you? What is it that you’re saying with this book? Why isn’t it a different story? Why is this the one that you’ve got to write? These can be quite tricky questions and not easy to answer. But when you do find the answer, I think, as you say, that’s what then gives you that motivation when you do get to the midway point and you’re feeling low? Oh, I remember it’s because I have a story to share or have an experience to share. I want to say this about the world. There’s someone waiting to hear it. Yeah, I agree with you. 100%.

Jo: Cool. All right. Now, I’ve been dying to talk about this since before we started recording here. So it’s a little bit more woo woo by the sounds of it. But you have had a very cool, interesting experience channeling a book. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Emma: Yeah. I interviewed a lady who works with writers, and she, herself is a channeler. I don’t know if she would describe herself as a medium. I think channeler is how she describes herself, and she works with writers and helps them channel their book through being in a meditative state. And I struggle a lot with a lot of neck pain and things from being hunched over a desk. And I thought, wow, wouldn’t this be amazing if I could just channel this book and it would come out so easily and be wonderful? So I thought I’ll give it a go. And I was also interested to see how this would work. And so she was marvelous for I’d say, for I think it was over three months altogether. We would meet once a week, and it was all through Zoom, and she would put me into a meditative state and then just say go kind of thing. And I remember the first session that we had just being shocked. I write women’s fiction, contemporary women’s fiction, and that’s what I expected to come out of the story through marriage. But it turned out that it was what I’d say is a suspense story than it is to women’s fiction, which is not something I’ve ever written before. So it was quite a shock when this happened. And I didn’t realize clearly these characters and this situation has come from the back of my brain somewhere or as she would say, the book is in the universe already. It’s out there, and it’s just waiting to be realized. And so maybe this book was not in the back of my head, but actually out in the universe, and it was just me that was the one that was dictating it. And so it was certainly less physically difficult process. There was certainly a strange process, and I don’t know if I would do it again, I’ll be honest, maybe because I haven’t done any kind of channeling before and then wasn’t a big meditator. So it still felt quite unnatural to me. And I wonder if there are probably some of your listeners might be more attuned to it. And in fact, that was about 18 months ago, I think I did this and I’ve done a lot more since. So I may be more attuned to it now, but certainly the story came out beginning, middle and end. Not what I was envisioning at all, but the bones of that story is good. I really like it. I think there’s something in there. So I’m working with a coach now to kind of go through the revisions and make it better and see if it can turn into something that I would want to publish. But it was really interesting experience. And so if anyone is thinking about it, I would certainly say, go for it. You never know.

Jo: So fascinating. I’m trying to remember there was a book I read, and I don’t know if it was one of Steven Pressfields? Have you heard of his books? What does he do?

Emma: Yeah, The War of Art.

Jo: One of them. And he talked about I don’t know if he believed it or he talked about some people believe that there are all these ideas floating out there in the universe and we are given the opportunity to seize on it. But if we don’t, then the next person will come along and kind of take that idea. It will find somebody to allow that idea to be born, whether it’s through a book or something like that. And even though I haven’t tried the channeling per se, I have noticed writing my own books, particularly my last one. There were times where I’m like, I just don’t know where this is going, and then something would happen. I’m like, oh, my gosh. How did this all connect so beautifully? And where did this come from? And it feels almost kind of removed. Like, I would be crying because I was so moved by something my characters were doing and I didn’t see it coming. And yet I’m the author, or I’d be so excited to get to the page because I’m like, I just can’t wait to find out what happens next. Like, oh, I wish I knew it. So it’s almost at times, feel removed, like you are kind of tuning into something else. Have you had that?

Emma: Yes, I do. And those are the moments that make it so worthwhile for me. I love that moment of kind of epiphany or when somebody appears on the page and I didn’t know this person is coming into the story or they reveal something. I didn’t know they’ve done that, and it’s magic. I absolutely love it. That’s one of my most favorite bits about it. Do you handwrite Jo, your first draft?

Jo: No, I go straight onto the computer. I type, but I do. So a lot of my writing just happens in my head, right? So it’s a lot of thinking. I use soundtracks, like musical soundtracks that I kind of put together, playlists whatnot to kind of spur ideas in that. And so I listen to that a lot and then plots and that kind of form, and then I might jot down notes in that, and then I’m just typing.

Emma: Maybe that’s why I was experiencing those, but clearly not because we have different processes, but it’s still having the same impact, the same result, just those magical moments here.

Jo: They’re wonderful. It can be quite mind blowing. There have been times when I’ve said to my husband, oh, my gosh, I didn’t know that this person was having an affair with this was going on with this person. He’s like, they’re not real people. What are you talking about? You’re thinking these things up like, no, I don’t know where it’s come from.

Emma: They are real people.

Jo: Yeah. And sometimes I think that’s another thing as I get so involved in my stories that I’ll be thinking, I wonder what this person is doing. I’m like, wait, they’re not actually a real person. They are a character I’ve invented. So, yeah, you can get really involved with this.

Emma: Yes, you can. But I think that shows in your writing job because you’re a great writer. And I think the fact that you do think about them and wondering what they would do in situations, you’re creating this whole 3D person, this completely rounded person, and I think it really does come out in your writing. So whatever you’re doing, it’s working well.

Jo: Thank you. That’s really cool. I feel like I’ve got so much personally from chatting with you today. I’m sure my listeners have too. I could just chat to you for forever. This is so fun. Do you have any kind of like, what was your best writing advice or something that you want to just share and maybe with my audience?

Emma: The thing I find and I did this myself, particularly when I was writing my first book, is I took it very seriously and I was very earnest about it. And this plot line had to be perfect, and I just had to get everything nailed down as perfectly as I possibly could. But one of the things that I’ve come to realize and I got this through reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic, which if you haven’t read it’s an amazing book. No matter what you think about her memoirs and all the rest of it, it’s a wonderful, wonderful book for writers because she’s a jobbing writer. She got lucky, as she says, with that big book. But she’s been a jobbing writer for decades. She’s been earning her living through writing articles, short stories. And one of the things that she kept coming back to and reminded me about was it’s meant to be fun. We’re meant to enjoy this. We come to it because it gives us pleasure and it’s a way to escape all the other rubbish that goes on in our life. This is the thing that gives us the joy. And it can be hard to do that when you want it to be so right. This is going to be the best thing you’ve ever done in your life and you want it to be perfect. First of all, I’m going to be really mean. It won’t be perfect. So give up on that. Second of all, you don’t want it to be perfect, because if you wrote the perfect book, where have you got to go from there? And third of all, when you try so hard for it to be perfect, you do take away that element of fun and that joy and that ease with it. And I come back to that word, because when you find ease with your writing and enjoy it, that’s where your voice starts to come out. That’s where you let your characters breathe and give them the room to show themselves and to shine. So if you can, my biggest advice to you is just to have some ease and have some fun with it.

Jo: I love it so much. That’s just fantastic. That’s just such a good note to end on just the last thing. Where can people connect with you? Because I’m sure so many people are going to be wanting to hear about your courses and everything that you do.

Emma: Yeah. My website, Emmadhesi.com. That’s the best place to find me. And if you use Facebook, you can join my Facebook group, Turning Readers Into Writers.

Jo: Interesting. Well, thank you so much.

Emma: Lovely. It’s been a pleasure. It’s been really nice chatting with you, Jo. I’ve really enjoyed it.

Jo: Thank you. Wow. I got so much out of chatting with Emma, and I really hope you did, too. Some of the takeaways are:

  1. Even the most experienced of writers have to deal with their inner critic or imposter syndrome. It never really goes away. It’s part of the process.
  2. To move through these moments of self doubt, listen to your inner critic, let it feel heard, and then you’ll be able to push it aside easier.
  3. Keep momentum with your writing by trying to do something related to your story every day, even if it’s just for ten minutes, writing a character’s sketch or setting the goal of just writing 50 words. This will help alleviate any guilt you might feel from doing nothing.
  4. When writing your first draft, consider writing so fast your inner critic can’t keep up.
  5. How you structure your time for writing comes down to how much you value yourself as a writer. Consider your writing as a hot date and you’ll always find the time.
  6. Schedule your writing time in both larger blocks of half an hour or 1 hour slots as well as smaller ten or 15 minutes blocks.
  7. Writer’s voice comes through practice and being at ease with your writing.
  8. So lastly, but most importantly, writing is meant to be fun.

So I really hope you enjoyed this episode today and as always, you can find show notes, links to resources and other goodies on my website@jobuer.com. And if you’re a Gothic fiction fan, make sure to check out my books while you’re there or download a free copy of my short story collection, Between the Shadows. And if you’ve enjoyed this episode, please subscribe, rate, review and share this episode with others. This helps me to grow my audience and reach other people who want to supercharge their writing lives. So until next time, happy writing.