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Back at it After a Long Break

“I’m working my way steadily back and feeling good.”

Lee Westwood

It has been a hot minute since I’ve posted a blog! Honestly, it has been a completely insane 6 months for me. Things have been crazy and time has been flying by.

I have been neck deep in Psychology studies, which have only been getting harder each semester. I still love what I’m doing, but it really does take a toll! I have to put every bit of my spare time into studying during a semester so my writing unfortunately has been suffering this year.

Not only this, but I actually became a mum recently! I had a little boy just last month and I’ve been slowly trying to finish off the semester at University while juggling a little demanding newborn.

“A new baby is like the beginning of all things – wonder, hope, a dream of possibilities.”

Eda J. LeShan

Pregnancy was rough, birth was rough and having a newborn is definitely a major learning curve. It’s been hard for the past 6 months to find motivation to do anything beyond sleep and study.

Now that my little boy is here, my head is starting to clear up a little from the pregnancy brain fog and despite the constant state of sleep deprivation, I’m starting to feel my spark of inspiration come back. I want to start writing again and getting back into it!

“You fail only if you stop writing.”

Ray Bradbury

NaNoWriMo starts in November and I’m gearing up to take part in it, as I do each year. I’m going to use November to get back into my writing train and push myself to write again. I want to get back into it and what better time to throw myself into writing than NaNoWriMo!?

It’ll be harder this year with a baby to contend with, but I’m motivated to get through it and smash it out! I want to keep pursuing my passions and with the pregnancy fatigue and brain fog lifting I’m confident that I’ll be able to participate and complete NaNoWriMo 2021!

I’m writing blog posts again and I’ll get cracking back into writing. I’m looking forward to the end of 2021 and heading into 2022. I’ve got my baby and my writing and I’m excited to see where the rest of the year leads!

“Writing permits me to be more than I am. Writing permits me to experience life as any number of strange creations.”

Alice Walker
author, University, Writing

10 Tips To A Successful University Semester

Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresea, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.

H. Jackson Brown Jr.

As I continue powering through the University semester, I wanted to repost a blog with my top tips that help me get through the semester successfully. I created this blog post ages ago and rediscovered it the other day and it truly does have tips that help me get through the semester successfully!

1. Attend your classes (even if they’re online videos)

It can really suck attending classes, and sometimes the lecturer is the most boring person alive. However, classes are very important to attend. Useful questions are asked and confusing concepts are clarified during classes. It can be hard finding the motivation to attend, especially when your classes are online, but it is incredibly beneficial.

2. Find a quiet spot to study

“Wisdom grows in quiet places.”

Austin O’Malley

This is an essential factor for me. I can’t study when it’s noisy or busy around me. I need a nice, quiet spot to focus my mind and get me into the zone to study. I didn’t think noise or actions around me would be so distracting, but boy they are. A quiet zone is peaceful and perfect study space!

3. Finish assessments early

It sounds kind of lame, but finishing assessments early is amazing. Not only do you feel productive, but you also have time to go over those assessments again and revise them. Most people have experienced an all-nighter, I certainly have, but it is incredibly beneficial to spend extra time editing and revising days before an assessment is due.

4. Planning

For me, planning is soothing. I enjoy being able to plan out my day, week and month in advance. It helps me keep track of what I’m doing and when I need to have things done by. It is really helpful to plan out your days or weeks in advance so that you know what you need to do in the week and when you have time to study. It also helps to keep track of assessments and know what is due and when.

5. Take notes, and then re-write said notes

This is something that really works for me in my psychology degree. I take physical notes during classes and then I re-write those notes onto my computer after the classes. I find it’s a good way to revise topics and imprint these concepts into my mind. It helps remind me of what I learnt in the class and I can look up things I didn’t understand while writing out those notes.

6. Take breaks

Breaks are super duper important for productivity! It’s useless to spend hours staring at books or computer screens and continuing to study the same thing over and over. You need to take breaks to rest your mind and your eyes in order to remain productive.

7. Get plenty of sleep

Orange Cat Sleeping on White Bed

On that previous note, sleep is so incredibly important during University! Your body and brain needs sleep to rejuvenate and refresh. You need to get good sleep in order to keep your brain functioning and able to understand new concepts. You also need sleep in order to remain healthy and able to study and attend classes. Lack of sleep leads to lower immune systems and, put bluntly, disaster!

8. Try not to procrastinate

Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.”

Pablo Picasso

It sounds stupid to say, but sometimes it needs to be said. Procrastination is a useless venture and, I admit, it is a hard habit to overcome. It’s quite easy to become distracted with other things and out off your work until the last minute. It is so important to catch yourself when you’re doing these things and force yourself to go study or do your assessment. Procrastination gets you nowhere, you need to focus and try to remain focused until the semester is over!

9. Take care of your mental health

What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candor, and more unashamed conversation.”

Glenn Close

I am 100% a major mental health advocate (must be something to do with the psych degree). It is so important to take care of your mental health, especially during a University semester. Uni can be so stressful and hard that your mental health might decline, which is very common. It’s important to eat well, exercise and see a professional if you feel your mindset slipping. It is hard to get through Uni, but even harder with mental illness weighing you down. Make sure you take time for yourself and know your limits!

10. Coffee, coffee, coffee!

Cup of Coffee on Saucer

For me, coffee is life. I love my coffee, it is the breath of life into me each day. But, my main point in this is to find things you enjoy. Find joy in your University life and enjoy each moment spent on campus or doing online classes. It is a long haul, but University is a short stint in your life and you definitely need to enjoy it! For me, I find my joy in having multiple cups of coffee from my favourite cafes on campus. Brings joy to me!

Successful and unsuccessful people do not vary greatly in their abilities. They vary in their desires to reach their potential.”

John Maxwell
author, University, writing

When University Gets In The Way

“University’s like this little world, a bubble of time separate from everything before and everything after.”

Mhairi McFarlane

I do love studying, and I have said that many times before, however it does sometimes get in the way of my creativity.

During a semester I am filled with stress and constantly studying. It stifles a lot of my creativity and makes it harder to get creative writing done. It’s more just one report after another.

It is fun going through my degree and learning as much as I am, but it is hard to accept that I am very unproductive in my creative life for several months out of the year. I do commit myself to my studies though, and sometimes that does require some sacrifices.

“Assiduity, it means sit down until you do it. Commit yourself to your work and study.”

Lucas Remmerswaal

I do try to fit writing in during a semester, and early on I can get some done. But I get burnt out very quickly. Between work and full-time studies, I can’t focus on writing or keeping up with my creative outlets. It can be really frustrating for me, as all I want to do is write and creatively express myself!

Person Writing on Notebook

It can be sad thinking about the lack of writing, but it’s not a major thing to be sad about, but it does get to me sometimes. I know I spend many months outside of classes being productive, and I just have to lean on that and accept that Uni does get in the way of writing.

It’s all for an end goal and one day I will graduate with a psychology degree and continue in my world of writing!

“I do not know anyone who has got to the top without hard work. That is the recipe. It will not always get you to the top, but it should get you pretty near.”

Margaret Thatcher
author, University, Writing

Back To University Again

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”

Mark Twain

Back into the grind! Uni went back this week (yesterday) and I’m already feeling the stress. There is so much reading to do and so much time to invest into my studies. It’s always an intense time, having to study and work as many hours as possible. I’m excited to get back into my Psych studies and continue pressing forwards to finish my Bachelor!

I’ve also decided to finally invest in my love for Japan. I’m doing one subject a semester to complete a Japanese language program. I’m finally going to work towards learning Japanese and becoming competent enough to speak to people in Japan in their language.

I’m going to continue my writing and I’m hoping to still be able to complete a blog once a week and continue writing stories for publication. I’ve decided to enter some short story competitions this year so I’m going to work on those throughout the next few months.

I’ve put a pause on my new novel, apart from when I get a specific idea, just so I can focus on my studies and on my competitions. I will definitely continue to push forward with all areas of my writing around my studies!

“If we have the attitude that it’s going to be a great day it usually is.”

Catherine Pulsifier

I love being able to complete my blog each week and I will definitely do my best to continue that! I like to do the things I enjoy, so I’m going to throw myself into my studies and write around those commitments! Bring on the next few months of chaos!

author

Review Time – Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Libraries were full of ideas—perhaps the most dangerous and powerful of all weapons.

Sarah J. Maas, Throne of Glass

I picked this novel up at a bookstore ages ago and when I finally got around to reading it, I loved it! Essentially, Throne of Glass centres around Calaena Sardothein, who is an assassin. The novel follows her as she is forced into a contest to compete to be the Crown Prince’s champion. It is a fascinating novel that follows her story as she overcomes her struggles and grows stronger each chapter.

My name is Celaena Sardothien. But it makes no difference if my name’s Celaena or Lillian or Bitch, because I’d still beat you, no matter what you call me.

Sarah J. Maas, Throne of Glass

Calaena is thrown into competition against men from all over the empire – assassins, warriors and thieves. She is promised freedom after 4 years of service (if she wins) and this drives her forwards, since she was brought out of the prison camps specifically to compete.

I really enjoyed reading Throne of Glass and I can’t wait to delve into the follow-up novels! The novel quickly takes a turn away from the anticipated storyline when Calaena has to solve mysteries surrounding her fellow competitors and mystery starts to encompass the story.

The fact that the main character is a female assassin was so appealing to me (I’m a sucker for badass females) and Throne of Glass had me hooked early on. It’s a fun read and I enjoyed delving into this world and getting lost in the novel.

Sometimes, the wicked will tell us things just to confuse us–to haunt our thoughts long after we’ve faced them.

Sarah J. Maas, Throne of Glass

Throne of Glass is definitely more on the younger side of young adult literature – it’s not sophisticated but it is easy to understand and a thrilling read. Although Calaena can be a little annoying (she borders on Mary Sue territory sometimes), she grew on me and I found myself enjoying the novel more each chapter.

I definitely recommend this book to those who enjoy thrilling fantasy novels! It is the first of 8 in the series, so it does take some dedication to invest in the rest if you read this one. I’m willing to make that investment to find out what happens to my favourite characters!

author, Writing

Starting Something New

I know, I know, I know. I haven’t exactly finished Infection Point yet but I’m so close to finishing the edits! I get ideas sometimes that I just have to get out, and I have started my next novel. It’s nice to get that release from my constant editing and focus on something new.

I have had some ideas for several months now and I’ve decided enough is enough and I have to get these ideas out and onto paper (figuratively speaking since I type on a computer).

Sometimes the ideas just come to you and you have to start writing them down! I have started my next novel while finishing off editing Infection Point. It is not taking priority, as editing and getting Infection Point published is my main focus, but I like the new story.

I love Infection Point so much and I have so much time and energy invested into it. I figure that it’s okay to take a small step back some days to write something new – it won’t detract from me finishing my edits!

I’m confident about Infection Point being done soon and I know I’ll need something else to work on once it is complete anyway. I’ve just started the next novel before Infection Point is completely done.

I will keep everyone posted as to how it all goes! I’m enjoying this new novel and I can’t wait to show some of it, however Infection Point must come first!

author, mental health, Writing

It is Time For Some Self-Care

Love yourself first, and everything else falls in line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.

Lucille Ball

I spoke in my last blog post about my mental health. It’s always an important topic for me, not only as an aspiring psychologist but also as a human being. Mental health is often overlooked or pushed away, but it is such an important thing for us to consider.

I like to find ways to take care of my mental health. As someone who deals with GAD (generalised anxiety disorder) I know how hard it can be to make it through some days with a mental disorder. It’s important to take time out every day to focus on your mental health and take care of yourself.

I like to snuggle up with a good book, or my notebook, when my anxiety is high. It’s good to remove myself from my current situations and delve into fantasy worlds – either created by myself or someone else. It gives me an escape that I need when my anxiety starts to take over.

Self-care is so needed, especially in with our world in the state it’s in. I know my country is doing so much better than others, and we all need to take the time out and care for our mental health – whether your country is in lockdown or not.

It is so important to take time for yourself and find clarity. The most important relationship is the one you have with yourself.

Diane Von Furstenberg

The most important aspect of my self-care is focusing on myself. It can be hard to focus on yourself in this day and age – you feel selfish for putting yourself first. But something I have learnt is that you need to be at your best to care for others to the best of your ability. If you’re not mentally well it is hard to support others.

I try to take care of my needs and care for myself. Whether that is taking a bath or staying in bed all day. It’s important to take care of my mind, body, and soul. I enjoy yoga as a way to take a breath and step away from all my worries. It focuses me on the moment and really helps alleviate those anxieties.

It’s important to find what works best for you and care for yourself and your mental wellbeing. Here is my basic list of what I tend to do for self-care.

  • Have a bath
  • Read a book
  • Exercise
  • Get in the sun for at least 15 minutes
  • Organise things (often my fridge much to my partner’s exasperation)
  • Meditate for at least 5 minutes
  • Do a sudoku puzzle
  • Use a face mask and hair mask (home spa)
  • Turn off social media

Obviously, these are just things that work for me and help me switch off and take care of my mental wellbeing. Find what works best for you and put your mental health at the top of the priority list!

To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.

Oscar Wilde
author, mental health, pandemic, Writing

Caring For Mental Health In This World

2020 was a rough year for a lot of people. Thankfully it wasn’t horrendous for me – I still had a job, I still had a house and a car and I had my health. However, 2020 was still filled with anxiety and uncertainty. It definitely was not an easy year, even if my year was better than a lot of other people.

A lot of people understand the stress and anxiety that many have gone through this year. Everyone’s story is different, and not everyone will understand why certain things caused you anxiety. It’s important to remember that your anxiety is valid and is a part of your own personal journey. Not everyone will experience the same thing.

“Sometimes the people around you won’t understand your journey. They don’t need to, it’s not for them.” 

Joubert Botha

I make sure I continue to power forward each day and I try not to let the anxieties overwhelm me. It can be difficult, and there have been days where I’ve stayed in bed for most of the day, but I try not to let my anxiety dictate my life.

I may spend a day isolated because of my mental health, but I try to pick myself back up the next day and continue forward. I let myself feel my feelings, that’s why you have them after all. But I won’t stop everything and stay in bed for weeks on end. But, it’s perfectly okay to spend those days in bed or isolated at home. Sometimes you need it. Sometimes your mental health won’t allow you to do anything, so it’s okay to take care of yourself and isolate when you need too.

“You don’t have to be positive all the time. It’s perfectly okay to feel sad, angry, annoyed, frustrated, scared and anxious. Having feelings doesn’t make you a negative person. It makes you human.”

Lori Deschene

It’s rough at the moment being forced to isolate no matter what. Even the most introverted people need some escape, and it was extremely limited in 2020, and continues to be an issue in 2021. I love my home time and I love my alone time. I am very much an introverted person, but even I have been going stir-crazy in this isolating time. It’s been hard to keep a positive attitude, but I know there will be an end soon and the craziness will calm down.

I’ve neglected my writing a bit during COVID lockdowns, due to mental health, but I’ve jumped back on the bandwagon this year and I’m trying to find the motivation and I’m trying to push forward. It’s time to get my groove back and not let this isolating time beat me down anymore.

2021 will be my year. I will finish editing my novel in 2021. I will write a new novel in 2021. I will move forward and leave the chaos of COVID behind as best I can!

author, Writing

Behind The Scenes – Infection Point Update

If a story is in you, it has to come out.

William Faulkner

I’m getting there. I really am getting there! It was slow progress over the holidays and with work, but I’m at the home stretch! I don’t have much more to edit until my novel is done, which is so incredibly exciting!

I only have a couple of chapters left to edit, and then I’ll let some people read it and make sure it’s okay before I send it off to some publishers! It’s really improved from where it started, and I’m proud of the novel I’ve created. I am nervous for second opinions and sending it to publishers, but I am proud of my work and I do want to put it out there.

It’s been a really long haul. I’ve been working on this novel for like two years now. It hasn’t been a quick process for me, with work and studies getting in the way, but I’m excited that I can finally see that finish line!

I could just keep on editing this novel for another two years. It’s hard to stop editing and decide that enough is enough. It’s hard to end that story and be done. But I need to do it in order to get this novel into the world. I need to stop the story and be done with editing at some point.

There is no real ending. It’s just the place where you stop the story.

Frank Herbert

It’ll be strange finally finishing the editing process. I’ve been editing for most of these last two years, and it’s dragged on and on. The writing was easy, the editing was definitely not easy. I’m looking forward to being able to start new things and move forward with my writing.

It’s hard to let go, admittingly. I’m kind of dreading having to let go of this novel. I’ve spent so long on it now that it feels strange to almost be at that point when I’m done with it. When I don’t need to spend time every day on it.

Finishing books – and leaving the world you’ve created – is always a kind of emotionally wrenching experience. I usually cry.

Lauren Oliver

That moment isn’t quite here yet. I’m hoping to be done by the end of February, which means I’ll have some time to send it off to people for opinions and start something new before delving into University again.

But, for now, I’m off to go edit some more!

author, tips, Writing

10 Tips To Successful Writing

1. Write What You Want To Read

This is so incredibly important. You don’t want to write something that even you wouldn’t be interested in. There’s no point writing a ‘popular genre’ if you don’t actually like that genre.

You need to write what you’re interested in. Write what you enjoy. The audience will come, you don’t have to chase after the current fad. Always write what you want to read, then it will be interesting and you will dedicate more time and energy to it.

2. Write As Often As You Can

“There is no rule on how to write. Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly: sometimes it’s like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges.”

Ernest Hemingway

It’s hard to set out specific times to write. “I will write between 6pm and 7pm” isn’t always feasible. I always have a notebook on me, and the notes app on my phone is always open. I never know when inspiration will hit, and it’s important to write it down as soon as an idea comes to me.

I also like to write when I am in-between something. I write during my lunch breaks at work, I write in the passenger seat of the car and I even write while cooking dinner. It’s useful to write whenever you can, and you can come up with some amazing ideas while writing in these small windows.

Of course, it’s not always completely feasible – but definitely give it your best shot and try to write as often as you can!

3. Write Intentionally

Try not to write just for the sake of writing. It is important to have some sort of idea or goal that you’re headed towards. It is very useful to jot down all sorts of ideas, but when you’re adding to your novel you need to ensure that each addition is intentional.

Make sure you know your characters and your setting. Intentionally write each scenario and how each character is feeling. It’s important to be intentional with your writing, and not willy-nilly. Don’t throw robots into a medieval novel because it needed some drama!

Be intentional. Find time during your day to sit down and focus on your writing. It will help your creativity and keep your novel in the right direction.

4. Create A Writing Space

I love my desk. I love being able to sit down at my desk, open up my document and get to work. It is an environment that relaxes me and enables me to be productive.

It’s not always possible to sit down at my desk, but it is so good when I can. I find having a specific space for my writing is calming and helps me focus.

Dress up your writing space with whatever you need! Plants, photos or pens – add what you want to keep you focused and in the zone for writing!

5. Don’t Expect Your First Draft To Be Good

“The first draft is black and white. Editing gives the story color.”

Emma Hill

First drafts are rarely that good. It takes patience and a lot of editing to perfect your novel and get it to where it needs to be.

When I first started writing, all I thought was that my first draft would be great and publishable. It definitely was not. It can be frustrating and feel like a slow process, but you do need to edit your novel and ensure that it makes sense and is good.

The first draft is like an outline of the novel, giving an overview of everything that happens. When you edit it, you include more character development and go far more in-depth into the story. You can’t be disheartened when your first draft isn’t as good as you thought it would be: just keep pushing forward and edit that baby!

6. Get Feedback

I admit that I find it really hard to ask for feedback. I get embarrassed over my work and don’t want others to critique it. Unfortunately, that will always happen. Especially once it is released to the public!

I find it useful to get friends and family to read my novels. They will be honest, but also kinder than a reviewer. It’s nice to get positive and constructive feedback on your work before it’s out there for everyone else to critique.

If your family and friends like it, and they think it’s good, then it helps immensely to boost confidence. It’s really important to get feedback from people and edit accordingly.

7. Set Goals

“I try to write a certain amount each day, five days a week. A rule sometimes broken is better than no rule.”

Herman Wouk

Goals just work for me. If I don’t have a goal, I often get a little lost and off track. For me, it helps to set small goals and small rules and try to meet those. If I break one occasionally, it’s not the end of the world. But it helps to have that guide around.

I set a general goal of writing an hour each day. Sometimes I meet that, sometimes I’m under and sometimes I don’t write at all. But I try to meet that goal because it is there. It helps to have that direction and drive to meet a goal.

I also set goals for writing timeframes and editing timeframes. I try to make sure that I have a goal for when I want to finish a novel and when I want to finish editing a novel. I don’t always hit these goals, but I get close because they are driving me forward.

8. Create Some Form Of Outline

In addition to goals, it helps to have some sort of outline for your novel. I kales sure that my characters are developed, and I know the basic storyline before I start writing my novels.

It helps to have an outline, because you can then determine what happens and how your characters get to where they need to go. I always outline a basic structure, of how characters meet and what their end goal is. It helps keep me focused and know exactly where I want the story to go.

9. Write Like You Talk – Make Speech Believable

When you’re writing dialogue, try saying it out loud. Sometimes you realise how clunky dialogue is when spoken. Written word and spoken word are very different, and you need to make sure that the characters are speaking realistically.

Think about mannerisms they have while speaking – do they touch their face a lot? Do they stutter? Do they twiddle their thumbs? You need to add those kinds of mannerisms into your novel and show how a person speaks.

People have different speech patterns and different speech mannerisms; you need to show that in each individual character to create a diverse character pool.

10. Read, Read, Read

“Reading is essential for those who seek to rise above the ordinary.”

Jim Rohn

This point has never been an issue for me, as I love to read. But you definitely need to read books and continue to read as often as possible! It keeps your creative juices flowing and it helps to draw inspiration and learn new techniques.

Plus, reading is a fantastic escape into fictional worlds. It’s nice to be able to get away from reality for a while and absorb yourself in a good book. It will help your mind and soul to keep on reading!