Diana was born in Akron, Ohio and is a graduate of Northwestern University with a degree in both psychology and philosophy. And, of the University of Wisconsin–Madison, with a PhD in Buddhist studies. She is the author of three books on Buddhism, one of which has been translated into Japanese and German (Women in Buddhism, University of California Press). Her short stories have appeared in a number of literary journals and she is currently working on a second novel, A Perfect Match. To learn more about her and her work, visit her other website at www.unhealedwound.com. She lives in Carmel, CA with her husband, Doug, and two cats, Neko and Mao. Diana and Doug enjoy visiting their two adult children: Maya Miller ( San Francisco) and Keith Paul (Los Angeles) as often as they can.
Things Unsaid is her debut novel published with She Writes Press available on Amazon and your favorite indie bookstore.
Connect with Diana Y. Paul
Writing, Self Esteem and Procrastination
Writing a book can test your self-esteem. You have to build stamina, because it is a blood sport. People often ask me: “Why are you spending all this time trying to write a novel?” Even though I despise that question, my biggest enemy is always my own self-doubt. Writing well is very difficult, and sometimes very painful.
As a writer, I try to move the narrative from my brain into the brains of my readers, using words as my only tools. When I sat down with my idea for Things Unsaid, I knew my first draft was going to be a data dump, an image mostly of the main character. Then later I would start chiseling away, going over each word, adding and subtracting.
If you want to write a novel, you need to first write a story. If you want to write a story, you first need to write a paragraph. If you want to write a paragraph, you first need to put together a coherent sentence. And that is what saved me. I wrote phrases, which became sentences, then paragraphs, then scenes. I put myself on a deadline so that every week I would finish some scenes, gradually completing a chapter, then two chapters and so on.
I was going to fight my way through. I’m a writer. I care about writing. I always care. And I did write, although I couldn’t write Things Unsaid every day in the beginning. As writers we have to figure out what works for us. And throw the other “stuff” away. Now I know what works for me.
“Remember that if the student were your child, you would want the best education possible for him.”
I realize that writing anything is a step forward. Anything. Sometimes I have to force myself to write, so I won’t lose momentum. So here are my four tips for conquering procrastination that have helped me:
1) NaNoWriMo month (November) is a great antidote for procrastinators. It is an online forum of writers and forces you to write every day, to reach the magical 90,000 words by the end of the month. I didn’t reach that Holy Grail. But, I did reach 30,000 words or five chapters and am now one-third way through the first draft for my second novel. I love you, NaNoWriMo.
2) I reward myself after something—anything—is on the screen. A cup of coffee, a piece of chocolate, gardening for half an hour. It rests the mind and the eyes, and jumpstarts my writing self for the next writing session!
3) I read short stories to get inspired. Such wonderful writers everywhere! I also look at webinars and tutorials. Warning: Don’t let this fill up your entire writing day—no more than one webinar a week.
4) I make specific mini-goals with an exact start time and end-time. For example, I am going to work on a scene between the main character and her daughter for one hour at 11 a.m. That is a mini-goal.
My realistic writing goal, in the beginning, was one hour. If you suffer from anxiety and fear, it may be that your writing dredges up hard-to-tolerate feelings. It isn’t writing itself that you dislike, it’s the emotions that surface when you write. I remind myself that putting off the writing, in the end, won’t make it more enjoyable. I’ll feel bad about myself and defeated as a writer. Writers write. If you can find a way to be more welcoming to these emotions, they may grace you with fresh energy and ideas for your muse. Write unplugged!