I'd always been a chubby girl. Well, not exactly Roseanne Bar but more Renee Zellweger in Bridget Jones. It didn't really hurt but it was there, and sometimes, it did sting. I carried like 10 pounds too much, and believe me, on a just-above-five-feet frame, ten pounds can look like a lot!
I wanted to lose that weight, tired of needing to have my clothes tailor-made because everything in the stores was too small or else I swam in them. That's when I looked into diets. At that time, Atkins and South Beach and whatever else popular stuff wasn't even known. We had Weight Watchers, but I didn't have the money needed to become a member. I had friends who were members, and they gave me the pointers of their every meeting. Like, weigh all your food. Drink water. 30g of cereal every morning. Chew slowly.
I did that, but lo and behold, I wasn't a gram lighter! (I know now that diets are customized, but we'll come to this later). Then I went like, to hell with it. Let's try another tactic - healthy living. Out went the junk food I lived on. Out went the colas and sodas. Out went the cookies, the crisps, the puff corn snacks. You may be wondering - she stopped eating! No, she didn't. She just didn't indulge so much any longer. I stopped taking sugar in my tea, coffee and milk; drank water at every opp (on some days I think I drank 5 litres). Cut the daily rice portion to half of what it was. Started taking the stairs. Walked a lot. Took the bus that I knew stopped 2 bus stops before my regular stop, and there was a steep uphill climb on that journey.
And 7 months later, I was 12 pounds lighter. Happier. Healthier. And I felt better.
To this day, I still apply those principles. And no, I really hadn't stopped eating, nor have I done so now. Everyone who values his/her life knows never to come between me and my twice-weekly slice of chocolate cake. I crave Pepsi at times, and I drink equal measures of water and no-sugar-added 100% juice. I cook with oil and I love my Pringles.
What am I getting at then, talking about diets on a writing craft blog? Well, writing is just like dieting:
Find what works for you!!
In the Weight Watchers example above, I was doing what others were doing. And that didn't work for me. Why? It wasn't customized to me and my needs and lifestyle, and I actually put on weight this way.
The same applies to your writing. If others are doing great writing for HQ or Ellora's Cave, you take tips and pointers from them to make your own writing better, and then you tailor your work to have a better chance of scoring a contract with those pubs. But HQ or Ellora's Cave may not be your writing voice's cup of tea, so you struggle, writer's block and discouragement hitting you just like the weight could pile on with an inappropriate diet.
Like the diet too, find what works for you, and this is what'll make you lose weight. In your writing, this applies to, find what you enjoy writing and you will inherently find that your writing will be stronger when you write something you are passionate about. This is akin to doing something/adding a change you can do and live with, and you thus find your voice and your writing tone. This in turn, makes your work stronger and allows it to stand out amongst the crowd.
We all know that a diet doesn't work for everyone. It is recognized now that lifestyle changes have more impact over weight loss and keeping the weight off, preventing the yo-yo effect. Same goes for writing - a pub's style/guidelines may not gel with every writer, and you need to find your own voice and what you're passionate about to keep the flame of writing alive and to prevent the dreaded discouragement and block away.
Hope this made sense! As usual, all comments definitely welcome!
Aasiyah Qamar - Cultural Romantic Fiction, With a Twist
Coming out October 2 - Light My World - Eirelander Publishing
Nolwynn Ardennes - The Promise of Fulfilment
Coming out in January 8, 2010 - Storms in a Shot Glass - Eirelander Publishing
Aasiyah Qamar/Nolwynn Ardennes - Romance the world over