author, nanowrimo, Writing

Prepping For NaNoWriMo 2021

Don’t just plan to write — write. It is only by writing, not dreaming about it, that we develop our own style.”

PD James

It’s that time of the year again! I wasn’t sure if I was going to participate in NaNoWriMo this year, simply because of how crazy my 2021 has been (see my previous few blog posts if you have no idea what I mean).

If you’re not completely sure what I’m talking about, NaNoWriMo stands for National November Writing Month. The goal is to write 50,000 words within the month of November. It’s hard, but participating is always good motivation to write! I’ll link the website so you can check it out if you’re interested!

http://nanowrimo.org

Feel free to buddy up with me if you decide to participate in NaNoWriMo this year! I always loved seeing what my buddies are up to and their progress! My username is emmy_lb

I decided a few weeks ago that despite everything I wanted to participate in NaNoWriMo again. It’s a yearly tradition for me, but I also want to spend a month writing and using my talents once again after months of not writing anything except University reports.

It’s not going to be easy. The first step is coming up with an idea and I’m already struggling with that (Mum brain is real). I have a week to prepare so I’m taking the time to focus and think of a basic concept before delving into writing next week.

I know it’ll be harder to write a novel in one month this time around. I now have a child to care for and it’s not going to be easy juggling a baby and writing 50,000 words in a month, but I’m determined to give it a good go! Even if I don’t hit the goal, I will have gotten back into writing again and that’s my main goal.

“Find your best time of the day for writing and write. Don’t let anything else interfere. Afterwards it won’t matter to you that the kitchen is a mess.”

Esther Freud

Once NaNoWriMo is over I’ll refocus on editing Infection Point, which has been sorely neglected over the course of this year. I’m so close to having finished the final edit and I want to finish it by January! I’ll get myself motivated through writing in NaNoWriMo and spend December editing Infection Point.

I’m looking forward to getting back into writing again. It’s been way too long neglecting one of my favourite activities and I can’t wait to get back into my created worlds again. Keep an eye on my blog for weekly updates through November of my NaNoWriMo progress!

author

Birth Story

“Mothers and their children are in a category all their own. There’s no bond so strong in the entire world. No love so instantaneous and forgiving.”

Gail Tsukiyama

I’m taking a bit of a different step for a moment with this blog. I don’t usually delve into the nitty gritty of my life but I felt like I should this time. Whether it’s just for me to express myself or to help someone else, I needed to vocalise my birth trauma.

Every birth experience is different. No two women will go through the same experience, and trauma is different for each person. It’s been a few weeks since my son was born and I’ve spent this time processing my thoughts and coming to terms with the way my son came into this world.

I am so incredibly grateful for him, don’t get me wrong! Even though my experience wasn’t ideal, I know it needed to happen in order for my little boy to come into this world safely and happily. However, it doesn’t take away how hard the experience was.

My boy was born 3 weeks early. At 36 weeks pregnant I was hospitalised with high blood pressure and very rapidly diagnosed with pre-eclampsia. My blood pressure was sky high and unfortunately that meant it had affected my sons growth, and he was measuring tiny in the 4th percentile for growth.

Everything moved exceptionally fast once the doctors knew his weight and my blood pressure numbers. Within a few days I was diagnosed and told I would be delivering my baby as soon as I hit 37 weeks.

It was a heck of a lot to process. As soon as I started to wrap my head around what was happening, I was told he would be coming even earlier than anticipated. They wanted to induce me on exactly 37 weeks. Exactly one week after I was hospitalised with pre-eclampsia I entered the birth suite for an induction.

The induction started at 7am. And I was in labour for 14 hours before the doctors told me my baby was in distress wouldn’t survive a normal birth and I was rushed into an emergency c-section. I couldn’t wrap my head around what was happening, it all went so quickly. I went from wanting a natural, medication free birth to suddenly going into surgery with a spinal tap.

At 10:54pm my boy was born. He screamed, was pink and looked like a baby born doll. He weighed only just over 5 pounds and I didn’t know if he’d be rushed off to intensive care or not. It was a rough minute waiting but he passed his checks and I was able to cuddle my boy while the doctors stitched me up.

Thank the Lord that even though he was so tiny, he was completely healthy. He didn’t have to go into care and I was able to look after him straight away. It was truly a miracle that he didn’t need to spend time in the NICU, and I am so incredibly thankful that he weighed just enough and was healthy!

I was exhausted and in pain for the next few days and the time in the hospital was a blur of feeding, changing and naps. It wasn’t until my husband and I brought our bundle of joy home that the reality of everything started to sink in.

C-section’s limit everything for weeks. I was in pain and unable to do anything except hold my son. I started to feel a heaviness in my chest in the first few days we were home. I was grateful for my son but the experience I went through haunted my thoughts.

It was terrifying spending so long in labour and not moving forward. I didn’t progress fast and my little boy wasn’t ready to come into the world. His heart rate would drop drastically and I felt true fear that he was going to pass away before he came into the world.

Guilt ate me up. There’s no prevention for pre-eclampsia and there was no way for me to control it, but I felt guilty. He was small and suffering through labour because I had this disease. Logically I knew I couldn’t do anything about it, but the guilt was so strong despite the logic.

I still vividly remember the doctor saying they needed to do a cesarean. It was terrifying. I knew that the doctors knew what they were doing, and I trusted their call, but I was scared and disappointed that I couldn’t have my son naturally. I desperately wanted to give birth ‘right’ and I felt like a failure.

It’s been a few weeks now and I still suffer with some of these intrusive thoughts. I know every birth is valid and every person that has a baby (whether it be naturally, medicated or surgically) has given birth the right way. There is no right or wrong way to have a baby, and I’m starting to come to terms with this.

However, it’s still hard. It’s hard still feeling pain from the incision. It’s hard knowing that I wasn’t able to give birth the way I wanted to. It’s hard recovering and not being able to do everything I want to do. It’s hard knowing I’m at an increased risk for a repeat caesarean in the future.

It’s hard coming to terms with it all. I am above all thankful for my healthy child and I always will be. My experience will never take away from the love I feel for my child. Having a traumatic experience is hard, but at the end of the day I do have a healthy child and that’s all I could ever ask for.

In time I know I’ll be able to accept what I went through better. It hasn’t been long and the birth is still vivid in my mind. It’ll fade over time, just as the scar on my abdomen will, and one day I won’t even think about the way he came into this world.

For now, I’m working on overcoming my mental blocks and knowing I had no control over the situation. I still birthed my child and he is here healthy and happy, and I’m slowly working on appreciating that more rather than focusing on how he got here.

“A true warrior enters the unknown ready to face whatever unfolds, knowing she cannot control the outcome. ‘Birth Warrior’ refers to intention, action, and self-love, not to achievement of a specific thing.”

Virginia Bobro

author

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!