How to Step out of the Dark

How to Step out of the Dark

A Writer’s Guide to Creative Self-Expression

As first published on Medium. Please feel free to join me there.

Writing is by its nature a solitary affair. Although we may duet on a poem, seek advice on this fact or that, in essence, we sit, write and publish on our own. Other people walk by our windows, peer in at our small, homemade offices, favourite seats and coffee mugs, shake their heads with pity at our flickering candles and laptop screens and wander away. Yes, writing is a lonesome trade, and it’s just how we like it. It’s the others that don’t understand, not us that’s strange.

For most writers, the hours typing on a keyboard are the best hours of our lives. We love the act of creation, be it in the thinking, or transferring said thoughts to paper, so to speak. There’s no effort to being alone because being alone is what we crave: time to think; time to reflect; time to unravel the worlds that others will tread. We impart our ideas to books, short stories and poems, lean back in our chairs and then think: what now?

For the introverted writer, the next stage of creation is the hardest. There are so many places to send work, so many ways to publish and we’re too scared to use any of them. At least, most are and I include my past self in this. So, what do we do?

The first thing is to not stop. No matter how scary the great, wide world appears, we should never stop doing what we love. Writing out our hearts gives us the same freedom that others find in sport, communal drinking, and social networking. And it is this latter item that can help a writer most.

Hiding behind a computer screen is much easier than hiding behind a book and not just because people cannot see your feet and hair — if you’ve got some. A computer gives us access to the world beyond our windows in privacy. And I assure you, the people out there really do want to read what we’ve written. There are so many great ways to find readers, magazines and publishers out there and just from asking/typing the right questions. We can all do that when no one is watching.

Below is a list of the most active and easiest Social Networks to scan and glean information from:

  1. Twitter
  2. Medium
  3. Facebook
  4. Instagram
  5. Google Plus
  6. Pinterest

All the above can furnish a novice or accomplished writer with great information. Type for example ‘UK/US Publishers’ into a Facebook search or Twitter and you will be amazed at what is revealed. Type ‘Literary Magazines’ into Medium and you’ll be furnished with lots of ‘in-house’ publications to try your hand with. Type ‘Writer’s Resources’ into Pinterest and it will knock your socks off. Then see if you like the look of what they have to offer. Do they sound like your cup of tea? Do they look good? There’s even a chance you’ll already know by association someone that writes for them. Just try those searches and different connotations of the same questions — they invariably yield contrasting results.

Then comes the hardest thing sending your precious work out. The worries begin. What happens if they don’t like it? What happens if they think I’m rubbish? And the list goes on. Think of it this way and it might help. When I first started submitting work, I was very nervous. My self-confidence was low. I then saw an article backed up by several quality Online Magazines that said this: only three percent of all submissions are accepted. Argggghhh!!!!

You could go ‘OH NO!’ and never submit so much as a haiku. But I looked at it rather differently and it was a great help. I said to myself that I should not worry in the least until a piece of work had been returned to me ninety-seven times. Only after that was I a failure and even then only due to someone else’s opinion. But I’ve never had a piece of work rejected more than six times as it happens. So what a fool I would have been to have given up. You should never give up if you are doing what you love.

In conclusion, I say the following. Enjoy writing what you want, how you want, where you want. When you’ve finished, don’t be scared. I’d be surprised if you aren’t a member of at least one of the social networks above — you’re probably reading this on one of them right now. Use them. Plunder them. Take advantage of the world that is only a keystroke away. No more hiding in the dark when you’ve such wonderful lights to shine for others.

Thank you for reading


Richard M. Ankers

Author of The Eternals Series

The Eternals

Hunter Hunted

Into Eternity (Soon!)

The Quiet Ones (Self-Expression in a Loud World)

Note: I’m having a nightmare today so I apologise to anyone who follows me on Facebook if they’ve already read this today. I’ve been asked to write a couple of posts a week for and this is my first post there. I wasn’t going to post it here but hey-ho. PS It’s a lovely sight to have a nosey at if you get the chance.
‘Shout it from the mountaintops,’ my father would say. ‘The loudest voice gets the biggest cheers,’ and other such clichéd propaganda. As for those who possess a loud voice and the desire to use it such things come easily. I, and many others, do not.
The world we live in has entered a time when, unfortunately, my father’s words ring truest. The bigmouths and braggarts ply their trades with almost unparalleled success and unrivalled monetary wealth. Talent does not come into it.
A quiet one does not need wealth although they appreciate its worth — probably more so than those who have it — instead finding value in the simpler things in life: words, art, music, even sport. They collect smiles, not dollars or pounds, happiness, not houses and cars. Yet the loud ones would dismiss their worth with jeers and jibes like schoolyard bullies or the tough who lived at the corner of every street that later died alone, drunk and mired in their own filthy ways. You know the ones I mean.
Of course there are times when we must declare our own value, our strengths and our joys, but like everything in life there are ways and means to do so. Garnering respect is so much better than claiming it as a given.
You, my dear reader, will probably have guessed that I am one of the quiet ones — in my case a worker of words. I stashed away years of writing for fear of being made fun of by everyone, and they would have, too. Time trickled by before I plucked up the courage to share my writing with others and I was very fortunate to find likeminded souls with which to do so though not all. I progressed through my chosen field as a runner might through races, an artist through galleries, or a singer through clubs to chart success. And how good the hard work feels when it pays off.
So what is this all about, I hear you shout? Well, simply this. I have been fortunate of late to have had the first in a trilogy of books I have spent three years working on, and still am, titled The Eternals, published. There is a certain validation in this. However, being actively encouraged and helped by blogland friends opened my eyes to a salient detail. When another quiet one, a young lady, who shall remain nameless, tried to help by posting my book on her own site without my knowing and asking people to like my Facebook author page, I was shocked by her kindness. I went to her site to see said posts and say some words of thanks. But she also stated there that I’d encouraged her to write herself when others hadn’t even if it in my own quiet way. This was touching. However, what followed was more so. The post below the one she’d written for me was an acceptance from a literary journal for a piece she had written. There is no amount of money that could’ve made me feel happier than I did reading that. A quiet one had been saved just as others had saved me.
So, in summary, know this. There are those who will tell you to shout the whatever from the rooftops and slam it in others faces. You could, or, you could just get on with doing what the loud ones said you couldn’t and taking a certain quiet satisfaction in knowing you aren’t alone.