Overcoming Fear with Rachel Saylor
Rachel is a writer I've gotten to know a little bit through a few writerly Facebook groups over the last 8 months or so (woah!) and it's been great getting to know her! (As well as all the awesome writers I've had the honor of meeting in one way or another in the past year. Seriously, you are all awesome) Anyway, she's talented, driven, and encouraging. But enough from me! Let's hear from her:
I’m a writer from Boone, North Carolina, but I’ve recently transplanted to Tempe, Arizona. My work ranges from nonfiction to post-apocalyptic fiction and modern realistic young adult. I’ve written two novels, both of which are under the editing process. I also enjoy writing shorts and flash fictions. Writing and reading are what I do. It’s where I find my joy and clarity. My wish is to create stories and characters in which my readers fall in love with as much as I have fallen in love with them myself.
What inspires you and/or why do you write?
I am inspired to transplant readers into another world where they can be swept up into the story so much they feel as if they are part of it. There are stories within me that want to be told, and I want to be the vessel that connects those ideas to paper. Have you ever done something that makes you come alive and feel like you have something unique to offer the world? That’s how I feel when I am writing. I’ve been an avid reader since I was a child. I am inspired by the books and passages I’ve read that brings tears to my eyes. I’m inspired by words that make me feel such deep emotions, that it sticks with me forever. I want my readers to connect so deeply with my characters and stories that they smile, cry, get angry when the protagonist is wronged, and are forever changed by it. I’m pushed by the idea that I can open readers minds to a different way of viewing the world because they become emotionally invested in my tales.
Describe your process as best you can:
First, the idea/story has to present itself to me. Typically, this happens when I’m taken to a scene in my mind. I sit and observe the noises, the overall feeling, the setting. Then I take in the main character and what they are sensing and feeling. Their actions and appearance begin to unravel for me. From here, I like to create an outline. If I have a clear direction for the ending, then the beginning and middle presents itself more easily. Once a first draft is written of a novel, I like to let it sit for a month before picking it back up for editing/beta readers. For shorts and flash fictions, I like to get feedback from
Once a first draft is written of a novel, I like to let it sit for a month before picking it back up for editing/beta readers. For shorts and flash fictions, I like to get feedback from those closest to me almost immediately.
I’d like to say my process is seamless and constant, but the truth is that it is ever evolving. The way one story is created and edited may look different from the way another one develops.
For when I am writing a novel: Each morning, I first read everything I wrote the day before and make minor edits to it and add things that I think are missing. This helps me to keep things relatively organized. It also gets my mind engaged with the story and back into it so I can start where I left off the day before, (hopefully) creating a seamless story.
What is your favorite tool or resource? (Like Scrivener, Grammarly, a blog, etc?)
I mostly use something really fancy to write my pieces called Google Docs ;) I love using Grammarly for editing help. I just recently started using Betabooks.co as an easy way to send my book out to beta readers. The interface is really easy to use and makes it simpler to keep track of your readers and where they are at in the story, as well as see all of their feedback in one place. Author, Hugh Howey, has written some incredible insight for writers in a four part series. I highly suggest it for any writer. His first part can be found here: http://www.hughhowey.com/writing-insights- part-one- becoming-a- writer/
Biggest challenge for you, and how have you overcome it? (Or how are you working to overcome it!)
Feeling like an imposter. This is something that plagues many artists and it is something I struggle with weekly if not daily. At times, I just have to take a moment to tell myself, “Rachel, you are a writer and you are a good one at that. You are fierce and you can do anything you put your mind to.” Other times, I turn to my husband for words of affirmation, but in the end, it is just a fear that can be set free with hard work and determination.
Elizabeth Gilbert wrote in her book, Big Magic, “Dearest Fear: Creativity and I are about to go on a road trip together. I understand you’ll be joining us, because you always do. I acknowledge that you believe you have an important job to do in my life, and that you take your job seriously. Apparently your job is to induce complete panic whenever I’m about to do anything interesting—and, may I say, you are superb at your job. So by all means, keep doing your job, if you feel you must. But I will also be doing my job on this road trip, which is to work hard and stay focused. And Creativity will be doing its job, which is to remain stimulating and inspiring. There’s plenty of room in this vehicle for all of us, so make yourself at home, but understand this: Creativity and I are the only ones who will be making any decisions along the way.“
This idea that fear is always around, even for exceptionally successful writers, has been liberating for me. I can relax more in the presence of fear without letting it take control over me and my creativity. When writing my novels, I find that fear tends to crop up about two-thirds of the way into the story. Just having this knowledge is so helpful. When it happens, I let fear know that it needs to chill out and take a seat while me and the story finish what we started.
What do you consider your biggest strength? (Don’t be shy!)
This is really hard for me to answer, so I asked my closest friends and family what they see as my biggest strength. My sister said one of my biggest strengths is my intense focus and determination. When I set my mind to something, I go after it with full force and believe wholeheartedly that I will get to the end. This goes for finding the finish to a novel, or reworking one of my pieces until it is closer to its best version. (Her words exactly)
Any other advice for authors, based on your unique experience?
My biggest piece of advice is to keep writing. Even when you feel uninspired, keep writing. Writers write not only when they’re inspired, but also and especially, when they are uninspired. Push yourself and you will experience growth.
Try new ways and processes when approaching your writing. If you are a pantser and you’ve never been a planner or one to write out an outline, try it out and see how it works for you. Vice versa too, if you’re a planner, try writing something without a plan. I’ve seen immense growth in my writing when I’m willing to test out new methods.
Where can other authors or readers connect with you and find your work?
I love chatting with other writers. Email is the best way to get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org I also like scheduling phone calls/skype calls to connect with other writers, so email me and we can schedule a time!
At rachelsaylor.com you can sign up to be notified of when my books will become available. My short memoir, Fire Diaries, which chronicles my experience before, during and after waking up to my home being on fire will be available soon!