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Slowly But Surely… One Step At A Time

“The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.”

Steve Jobs

It is slow progress writing and editing a novel. I enjoy doing it, and I spend each time writing as it clears my mind and relaxes me, but it does take a really long time.

I’ve spent 2 years on my novel at the moment, and I expect it will be 3 years by the time I finish this edit and get it ready to send to some publishers (fingers crossed!). It’s a long, slow process, but it is incredibly rewarding.

It has been a long time, but it feels so encouraging to have come so far and be so close to finishing my novel. It hasn’t always been easy, but I have always been moving forward.

It’s not always easy to be patient when doing something you’re passionate about. In fact, it has been incredibly hard for me to remain patient. I just wanted it to be done and to send it out into the world, but I knew it wasn’t ready.

Patience has never been my strong suit, and writing a novel really tested my patience and pushed me to learn to be more patient and kinder to myself. It’s a process, and it can’t be completed overnight.

As I’m finally reaching the end of the journey, I am incredibly grateful that it did take so long. I have learnt so much the past few years and my writing has drastically improved. I’m always eager to learn more and keep pushing myself further.

I can’t wait to be finished, and I can see that end goal in sight. The writing and rewriting and major editing will be finished in my drafts, and it is an exciting prospect!

“Keep your eyes on the stars, and your feet on the ground.”

Theodore Roosevelt

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Inspiring Book Covers

“A winner is a dreamer who never gives up.”

Nelson Mandela

I have done a lot of reading during this pandemic, and I’ve been re-reading books I love and investing in new books I have come to love. The pandemic has been rough for my anxiety, but reading has helped keep me calm and focused.

I love looking at beautiful book covers and seeing how they related to the book. Not only this, but these covers give me inspiration for my own writing and my own novels.

I recently bought Throne of Glass by Sarah J Mass and boy did I get engulfed in the series. Not only this, but the book cover I got for this novel (and the rest in the series) influenced my novel and inspired me to change my character’s attire.

The main character in these novels is a female assassin, and her character and the attire depicted in the cover art helped inspire me to shift things in my own main character. Her attire was something that heavily influenced me. The darker colours, the cloak and the leather inspired my clothing choices for my main character.

It helps to see cover art like this, and different clothing options, to put things into perspective for your own character. You want their clothing to be practical and make sense, and in my case, be badass.

I love being able to draw inspiration from cover art like Throne of Glass and be able to use this to move forward with my characters and how they would look within their world.

“Build your own dreams, or someone else will hire you to build theirs.”

Farraj Gray
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Editing is a Nightmare

“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.”

Walt Disney

I thought the hard work was writing my novel. I had no idea that the real work begins when you finish a novel. Once you finish, you start the long process of editing and rewriting. And I do mean long process.

Editing is hard. You love your work, but you also hate your work. I found so many flaws and inconsistencies within my novel when I first edited it. The basis was good, but there were so many issues throughout.

I am currently on my fourth proper draft of this novel (not including just editing grammar and spelling and small scenes), and almost finished it. I’ve managed to get my novel to a place that I am proud of. I think I have improved, and it has certainly improved as well. It makes more sense and the characters are far more developed.

I still don’t think it’s perfect, and I don’t think it’ll ever be ‘great’ in my eyes. It is, however, ‘good enough’ in my eyes. I think it’ll be at the point that I won’t mind others reading it once this edit is complete, and that is a good feeling.

“Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.”

Earl Nightingale

I have been editing my novel for almost 2 years now, and if I keep editing it will be another 10 before I ever submit it to be looked at for publishing. It will most likely be rejected, I know, but I’m at the point that I’m willing to start pushing it.

Editing is a nightmare. It takes forever and you do rip your novel apart and change it almost completely. But, editing improves your writing and creates something that is readable and worth putting out into the world. And I can’t wait to put mine out into the world.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

Aristotle
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Behind The Scenes – Keeping To Deadlines

“Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”

Tim Notke

Deadlines are a necessary evil in my opinion. They can be incredibly stressful, but they help you get your work done. I have a serious love-hate relationship with deadlines – within my studies and within my writing.

My deadlines in University are harsh. Having to get assessments done by a certain deadline can be incredibly stressful. Equally as stressful is setting my deadlines to writing.

I give myself some leeway if my mental health has dropped or I’ve had a rough week, but I try to stick to my deadlines as much as possible. It helps me to stay focused and continue pushing forward with my writing.

I don’t set crazy deadlines, it’s mostly things like ‘finish a chapter this week’ or ‘write 2000 words this week’. My personal deadlines depend on what else I have going on in my life, and how anxious I am.

It does help to stay motivated towards your writing. They make be difficult sometimes, and even stressful, but they are definitely a necessary tool to utilise.

“Write it. Shoot it. Publish it. Crochet it, sauté it, whatever. MAKE.”

Joss Whedon
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10 Tips to Writing at Home

“Everything you can imagine is real.”

Pablo Picasso

I know most writers usually work from home anyway, or a quiet area alone in a café. Or something along those lines. However, there is something different when it’s more essential to be working from home and no longer your choice.

There is also something different if you live with others than are now at home all the time, either because they’re working from home or have unfortunately lost their job.

I found it difficult during these times, having my partner at home to distract me and being forced to only write at home. It’s important to maintain motivation and happiness during these times, and I came up with 10 things that have helped me say productive over the past month or so.

1. Noise Cancelling Headphones

These are honestly the best thing I have invested in. I find it’s easier to focus and do my work more effectively when I can’t hear what’s going on around me. I usually put some music on, from my specific writing playlist, and focus on the task at hand. Not being able to hear things around me lets me get into the zone and get writing!

2. Set Up Rules With Others at Home

“I love rules and I love following them, unless that rule is stupid.”

Anna Kendrick

You need to set time for work, and work is writing. You need to let others know when you’re disappearing to do your writing, and when you need to be left alone.

I needed to set this up with my husband and tell him when I was doing something that I needed to focus on. Working at home together than be tough when it comes to distractions, but it helps to set those boundaries and let others know when you need to step away and focus on work.

3. Have a Morning Routine

It is so important to have a healthy morning routine and stick to it. Not only does it help your mental health, it also helps your productivity. Try to get up around the same time each morning, get out of your pyjamas and eat a healthy breakfast. Include whatever you want into your morning routine, but try to stick to it each day and push yourself to have that healthy morning routine.

4. Exercise Every Day

I usually incorporate this into my morning routine, but sometimes I just go for a simple walk in the afternoon. Exercise really helps your mental health, and you need to take extra care of that mental health in the current world.

Whether it be a high intensity workout, going for a run, doing some yoga or going for a walk, it really helps to take the time out during the day to get your endorphins up and stretch your muscles. It helps your mind muscles to strengthen and improves your mental health, which positively impacts your writing ability.

5. Make a To-Do List Each Morning

I find this helps me to stay focused and know what I need to do each day. Since I do University, I include things like time to study and when my classes are each day. It helps to have this planned out in the morning and know what I need to do during the day. I can plan my writing around other things and it helps keep my focused towards my study goals and my writing goals.

6. Set Deadlines

“If you work on something a little bit every day, you end up with something that is massive.”

Kenneth Goldsmith

It really helps to set your own deadlines and try to stick to them. Things like ‘write 500 words a day’ or ‘finish 2 chapters this week’. It really helps to have deadlines to meet each day, or each week. It helps keep you focused and fighting towards your end goals.

7. Have a Dedicated Workspace

I never saw this as overly necessary pre-COVID, but once the pandemic hit and we were home bound, I came to the realisation that a dedicated workspace is so crucial.

I have a home study set up and it helps to sit down at my desk and take that specific time during the day to write and focus on my work. Occasionally I will change positions and write on the couch or outside, but I find the dedicated workspace works really well for me.

8. Minimise Distractions

“You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks.”

Winston S. Churchill

It can be hard to stay focused at home with animals, family, food or social media. I find I sit down to write and 2 hours later I have accomplished nothing because I was sucked into conversations with my husband and scrolling through social media.

It’s important to minimise distractions as you can, using things like social media lockouts and noise cancelling headphones. By doing this, you can stay focused on your task and be done sooner than you would while being distracted.

9. Take Breaks

Like any working person, you need to take breaks. You can’t expect to sit in front of a computer for 5 hours and smash out a heap of writing. Everyone tends to get bored and unproductive after sitting in front of a screen for so long, and words start to mush together.

Breaks are important for your mind, and for your health. Taking breaks throughout the day helps keep you focused and your mind clear so that you can keep pushing towards your goals.

10. Be Kind to Yourself

You need to take a step back and remember that we’re all human and we are all going through tough times right now! It’s okay to have off days and it’s okay to spend a day not leaving your bed. The important thing is to not let this be every day, and to keep pushing on where you can. You feel bad, so take a day off. But get cracking back into the next day. Try to not push yourself too much, we’re going through a lot right now and it is okay to feel horrible and have a day, or a few, off. Just take it one step at a time!

“Believe in yourself, take on your challenges, dig deep within yourself to conquer fears. Never let anyone bring you down. You got to keep going.”

Chantal Sutherland
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Behind The Scenes – Back In Action

“When life knocks you down, try to land on your back. Because if you can look up, you can get up.”

Les Brown

Bring on the writing inspiration! I’m back baby, and I’m so happy that I am! I’m still struggling a bit with my motivation, and editing my novel is definitely not what I’m doing at the moment, but I’m still back! I’ve started working on a new novel and I’m stretching my creative muscles once again.

I think most people are on the same page as me at the moment – struggling with the COVID-19 crisis and just trying to get through each day. I’ve decided to stop worrying so much about it and start making the most of the time I have inside.

I’ve set up a bit of a schedule now. I make sure I get up around the same time each day, even if I’m not doing anything, I make sure to do some exercise every morning and eat a healthy breakfast (as tempting as waffles are, I can’t eat them everyday {not even in a pandemic}).

It’s good to have that routine in the morning – it gets me ready for the day and helps me remember that losing my old routine isn’t the worst thing in the world.

“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.”

Zig Ziglar

I always try to write a bit each day again. I went a solid month without writing a single thing, and honestly it was the worst month. I hated not writing and my creative brain was screaming at me by the end of the month. I’ve worked up to being able to write everyday again, and I’m glad I’m back at that point.

I’ll keep writing and pushing forward. COVID-19 will not stop me or my creativity. Anxiety may be high, but I have the ability to write and push my creativity onto paper despite the fear and anxiety around.

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Losing Motivation in a Pandemic

“One moment of patience may ward off great disaster. One moment of impatience may ruin a whole life.”

Chinese Proverb

It has been a while since I have posted! It’s been a difficult few months, and for a while I completely lost all motivation to do anything. It’s a different world now than it was just a few short months ago, and I’ve really struggled with the lack of control and schedule to my life. It’s just not the same anymore, and it’s taken me many months to find a groove again.

I work in grocery retail, so I definitely have not been out of a job the past few months (thankfully!), but it has also been very crazy and incredibly draining.

People have been vicious, cruel and aggressive during the worst times, and that really affected my mental health and my motivation. I never felt like doing anything at the end of the day.

As someone with diagnosed anxiety disorder, this pandemic has been like a knife in the back. My anxiety has been high and it’s been a struggle to keep going during the crisis. Thankfully, thanks to beautiful healthcare professionals and beautiful people in my life, I’m working through the anxiety and I’m able to be productive again.

It has gotten better now, and I’m thankful that things are calmer here in Australia than other places around the world. I’ve finally started to slow down and treat myself better again, taking time out of the day for meditation, exercise and starting to write once again.

“You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, smarter than you think, and loved more than you’ll ever know.”

A.A. Milne

It’s important not to beat yourself up at this time. It’s a crazy world we’re living in right now, and it’s not uncommon to lose motivation and feel down. I still don’t have much motivation, but I’m trying to push myself to write again and find that groove, especially since this seems to be our new normal for a while.

I’m eager to get back into my writing, and I am looking forward to expanding my brain again and coming up with new ideas and editing the hell out of my novel. I’m going to make the best of the rest of 2020, that’s for sure!

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Writing is an Art – Just Keep Practicing

“You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence.”

Octavia E. Butler

This is something I have to remind myself of all the time: good writing takes practice. It’s hard to write well when you first start. It’s the same as painting or sport – you need to practice your skills to get better.

It can be hard sometimes, especially when you look at your own work and think it’s terrible. The most important thing is to keep going and keep practicing. My writing from 5 years ago sounds nothing like it does today – because I kept practicing.

“Anyone who says writing is easy isn’t doing it right.”

Amy Joy

You have to keep improving yourself and improving your craft. Writing is an art form and writing effectively isn’t easy. Being an author is certainly not easy, but if you keep at it and persist then you will achieve your dreams.

I keep writing, even on days I really don’t want to. Getting into daily habits is so important, not only for honing your skills but also for your mental health. Wake up at the same time every day, work at the same time and write at the same time. Setting these small habits is so crucial to success.

Sometimes, I really don’t feel like writing, so I don’t. Having habits shouldn’t mean you do things just because you ‘have to’. As long as you usually write, and usually have that habit, then you will continue to improve and progress.

Motivation doesn’t come on a whim. Motivation is something you need to seek out and grip tightly. Once you start doing things, and start good habits, the motivation will come. And once you are motivated and continue writing, you will certainly improve.

Thankfully, I love writing, and I spent time each day trying to fit some writing in. It isn’t always possible, but I do try to write each day. It helps me improve and it is also a wonderful way for me to relax.

“All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. . . . For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. . . . But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you.”

Ira Glass

You write because you love it and continue to write because you still love it. You’ll improve over time – just as an artist improves with each drawing. It’s important to keep your passion alive and keep moving forward.

Whenever I need motivation, I look at things I wrote a year or two ago. Just seeing my progress within a year keeps me motivated and makes me want to keep writing. You will keep improving with each word you write, so it is important to keep powering on. The best authors are those that were knocked back and kept on going.

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Rainy Days As A Writer

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass…It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”

– Vivian Greene

I am personally an avid lover of the rain. I find it calming and relaxing, and full of inspiration. I love to curl up with a blanket and a coffee and write in my notebook or read a good book. To me, rain is beautiful and amazing.

I find rain a good time to write and gather inspiration. Often, when it’s sunny, I want to go outside or do other things. I’m easily distracted in hot and sunny weather. Rainy weather is perfect writing time for me.

I will often spend hours with a notebook or at my computer, writing down any ideas that come my way. The inspiration flows as fast as the rain falls and I find it a soothing and exciting time.

Once the wells of inspiration seem to dry up, I often grab a coffee and sit with a book for a while. It’s enjoyable to be sucked into fantasy worlds normally, but it’s even more exhilarating for me when it’s raining outside.

“Rainy days should be spent at home with a cup of tea and a good book.”

– Bill Watterson

Rain is always a welcome occurrence for me. It gives me the time to rest and recharge. I also get the opportunity to re-read amazing books or start a new one. I enjoy the calm that comes with rain and the excitement that comes with a good storm.

I find that it’s good to use the time to read and write. To complete tasks that you wouldn’t usually do on a sunny day. Even if you don’t like rainy days, you can find something enjoyable within them. Soaking up the smells and the sounds is so refreshing and instantly makes my soul happy.

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10 Tips to Overcoming Writers Block

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So, you’ve just brewed a cup of coffee (or tea) and you sit down to your computer, boot it up and stare at a blank page for what seems like hours. This is a common problem for so many people, called ‘writer’s block’.

I’ve been known to suffer from it, really badly in the past, and it can feel like a huge smack in the face. You want to write, but you can’t. It’s devastating, but there are some simple tips that can help to overcome the accursed block.

These are the 10 things that I either do when I have a block or have set up to try to prevent a block

1) Get outside

You have to give yourself some time to get distracted and embrace your imagination. I find that going outside, even for 10 minutes, can help my mind to start roaring with ideas again. Sometimes you are too set on the writing and trying to get words onto paper, but you need to take time to live in order for those ideas to come.

“How vain is it to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.”

– Henry David Thoreau

Go on a short walk, go to the movies or go on a date. The smallest things can ignite your mind and create the perfect scenario for the creativity to flow.

Listening to other people’s conversations, seeing the wind blowing the leaves on a tree or watching something interesting can create the perfect environment for your mind to start churning ideas.

Exercise is another important tool to utilize – I go outside and walk or run when I’m in a bad block and it helps to clear my mind and create the perfect environment for me to write when I get home.

2) Change Your Writing Tool

Although it sounds simple, changing your writing tool could really help with writer’s block. If you usually write on a word processor, try using google docs or shutting it down and using a pen and paper.

Simple changes can even help with writer’s block. Try changing the font or changing the colour of the text. You’d be surprised with how the simplest change could change everything for your writing.

3) Change Your Environment

Changing your environment is invaluable for curing a block. Get away from the desk, or wherever you do your writing, and go elsewhere. Go to the library or a park. Try writing in a coffee shop and see if that helps – or go to a different coffee shop if you already write at one.

“If you get stuck, get away from your desk. Take a walk, take a bath, go to sleep, make a pie, draw, listen to ­music, meditate, exercise; whatever you do, don’t just stick there scowling at the problem. But don’t make telephone calls or go to a party; if you do, other people’s words will pour in where your lost words should be. Open a gap for them, create a space. Be patient.”

– Hilary Mantel

Changing your environment can really help with the day by day monotony of sitting down at your desk and writing. It can help your brain to feel new creative ideas and defeat the block.

4) Create Challenges

If you feel like you’re dragging your feet day after day it might be time to challenge yourself. Try setting a deadline to complete a certain amount of words. Or even try adding fun things into your writing to make it a challenge.

Challenge yourself to create a certain situation, introduce a new metaphor into your current chapter, think of an everyday item and write it into your novel. It’s amazing how much you can get done by setting challenges for yourself and trying to meet those challenges.

Writing prompts and exercises are amazing strategies to use to challenge yourself. If I am really stuck, I look at a writing prompt and then write to that – it’s a fun challenge that helps get the creative process moving.

5) Write Something Else

“Writing about a writer’s block is better than not writing at all.”

– Charles Bukowski

It can be hard to write the same story every day. Sometimes you need to blow off some steam and write something else. Check out a writing prompt and write a new story to that, or scribble down some simple ideas.

Think of a tv show or game you love and try your hand at fanfiction or write a short story. Getting your mind off the current story at hand can help you when you go back to it – you might have new ideas or be able to write a whole heap at once!

6) Work on Your Characters or Map Out Your Novel

“Breaking through writer’s block is like thinking out of the box: Both require an ability to imagine a world outside your four walls or rearranging them to get a better view.”

– Susan J. McIntire

If you’re stuck, sometimes it helps to map out your characters or your novel. You need clearly defined characters for a novel, and sometimes using character development exercises can help to renew your creativity.

Try mapping out who your character is or think about how they would respond to different situations.

Mapping out your novel can also help with renewing your creativity. Work on a simple outline and map out what kind of trajectory your novel will take. If you map it out, you might find that your mind starts to figure out how to continue the story and overcome the block.

7) Eliminate Distractions

Distractions are so numerous in our day and age. Phones buzz, emails appear, and YouTube always has videos of funny cats to watch. It can be hard to stay focused with the numerous distractions around.

It’s hard sometimes to summon the willpower to stay focused. Sometimes you need to unplug from the internet and turn off your phone, focusing all your attention on the writing.

Ask your friends and family to not message you for a certain period of time or write at a time that they won’t distract you.

Sometimes you may need a little helping hand, and there are so many websites and applications now that will block sites and notifications and force you to just write.

8) Do Something Else

I said previously that getting outside was a great way to break writer’s block. However, you don’t always have to leave the house. Simply doing something else can help you to overcome the block.

Make a scrapbook, paint, mess around on social media or read a book. Do something else that stops you from thinking about the novel for a time. You need to give yourself time to get distracted and take a break from writing.

Pick a random movie on Netflix and watch it the whole way through. Talk to a friend on the phone or chat with your family members. Cook a meal or take a shower – the simplest activities will give your mind a break and time to rejuvenate.

9) Create a Routine

“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”

– Jack London

I am a big lover of routine. I set my alarm at a certain time every morning, I map out each of my days and I have a time block to write. I find you need to set habits in order to become as creative as possible.

Find a time that works for you, whether it be night like me, morning or even during the day. Find when your creativity is highest and set that as your writing time.

If you make writing a habit, you will eventually be successful with your writing. Writing takes practice and you need to ensure that you write each and every day in order to improve and continue writing.

“Discipline allows magic. To be a writer is to be the very best of assassins. You do not sit down and write every day to force the Muse to show up. You get into the habit of writing every day so that when she shows up, you have the maximum chance of catching her, bashing her on the head, and squeezing every last drop out of that bitch.”

– Lili St. Crow

10) Just Write

It might sound simple, but it really is a fantastic way to break a block. You may be staring at a blank page for some time but remember this tip and just start writing. Whatever comes to your mind, write it down.

It can be hard to write through a block, but it works. If you have a muscle cramp, you stretch it. If your brain is cramping, you need to stretch it and just start writing. Put one word after another and just write.

“Don’t waste time waiting for inspiration. Begin, and inspiration will find you.”

– H. Jackson Brown Jr.

Is there anything you do to break writer's block?