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Finding courage

Why confidence is overrated, writing a novel with index cards, how to make it as an artist, gentle writing advice and how to sell a memoir.

Iain Broome
Iain Broome
4 min read
Finding courage
Me editing A is for Angelica with a fledgling Post it note planning system

Watch out! Because here I am again – Iain Broome – sprinkling literary stardust in your inbox via a selection of carefully chosen internet links. It's another Draft Mode newsletter.

Last time we spoke, I asked if you'd spare 30 seconds or so to answer a couple of questions about this very newsletter. Thank you to those of you who have clicked through and taken the short survey. Very insightful. Really helpful. Got called a sausage a couple of times.

If you want to shape what I send you in the future, please, please and one more please would you take a moment to complete the great Draft Mode survey 2021?

Enjoy the content below. Some good stuff. A little soul searching.


PS Here is another link to my questions in case you're the sort of person who skips entire introductions but can't resist a quick look at the PS.

Every issue I collect and share the best advice, apps and other shenanigans that I find on my internet travels. Find something useful? Subscribe for free.

Confidence is overrated

This short clip from an interview with Debbie Millman reached deep inside me and tickled my very being. For the last few years now, I’ve been saying to my wife that one of the problems I have with my (fiction) writing is confidence. It’s completely shot. Through life, distraction and inaction.

Confidence really does come from doing something over and over again and getting measurable feedback. You come to know what good looks like and, especially, what good looks like for you.

If I think about it, I do still know what good likes for me. So maybe it's not confidence that I lack. Maybe it's the courage I had when I was younger and unpublished. The audacity to put words on a page without concern for what others may think. The utter hutzpah to have an idea and run with it, every day, right to the end.

Finding courage. Okay. Sounds simple enough.

How I Wrote My Novel Using Index Cards

Super post by author, Damyanti Biswas who turned to index cards when the pantsing became a little too much. Personally, I'm more of a Post its kind of person, but the ace reasons for choosing an analogue planning tool in this blog post all ring true to me.

The image at the top of this email is from 2009, which is forever ago. It was the first time I'd used Post its to try and get a grip on my novel. Also look at my super-cool iPod Shuffle!

How to make it as an artist: Stop following the rules

A rallying call from artist, Jessica Abel who thinks it's time for us creative types to have a little courage (that word again) and try something different. Whatever that means for you, given the last couple of years, I don't think it's a terrible idea.

Not harsh writing advice

Ah, I like this one. Nicole Zhu gives you some gentle writing tips that don't involve shouting at you to just sit down and get on with it.

Related (by me in 2011!): 10 decisions you can make about your writing right now

The lost books

This is a tough read from author, Andrew Hankinson whose book came out during the height of the pandemic. This sentence in particular caught me:

It makes you paranoid when your book exists so faintly.

I've long been at peace with how things went down with A is for Angelica (it sold about 4500 copies, I think). But that feeling Hankinson so succinctly describes here feels about right for lots of authors, pandemic or no pandemic.

Publishing can be brutal. You need a thick hide and plenty of courage (!) to keep doing it all over again. And again. With no guarantees whatsoever.

Social Media for Writers

Are you the sort of writer who has, perhaps sensibly, avoided social media until now? Feel like it's time to get your feet wet? Good news! Davina Tijani has written a writers' guide to each of the main social platforms with some handy tips for getting started.

How To Sell Your Memoir

If you've got a  story to tell, you'll want to read this article by my old MA Writing author pal, Lily Dunn, who a) teaches writing courses through London Lit Lab, and b) has a memoir out soon called Sins of My Father, A Daughter, A Cult, A Wild Unravelling.

Tweets of the week

Tweets are but brittle flakes of skin on the feet of some foul, ungodly beast. But some of them are quite good. You can follow @iainbroome and @DraftModeHQ on Twitter.

Quote of the week

I loved and felt very seen by this Emmy acceptance speech from Michaela Coel, creator of I May Destroy You:

“Write the tale that scares you. That makes you feel uncertain. That isn’t comfortable. I dare you. In a world that entices us to browse through the lives of others to help us better determine how we feel about ourselves, and to in turn feel the need to be constantly visible — for visibility these days seems to somehow equate to success — don’t be afraid to disappear from it, from us, for a while and see what comes to you in the silence.”

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I'm the author of the novel, A is for Angelica. Every week, I send Draft Mode, a newsletter full of tips and tools that help you improve your craft and promote your writing.

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