author, tips, writing

Finding Time For Self-Care

Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.

Anne Lamott

It’s often hard to take time out of our busy days just for ourselves. I often find myself doing so many things throughout the day that I don’t take any time to sit down and relax. I feel unproductive and lazy when I take a break, which is a terrible attitude to have!

There is a lot to get done in a day, but it is essential to take some time out of a busy day to rest a little and relax. I’ve really started to overload in recent weeks, and I’m needing to take some time out of my day for some self-care.

I’m trying to take some time out of the day in the mornings to rest my mind and I’ve started to do yoga routines again in the morning. It’s been easily 7 months since I last did yoga and I’m definitely not where I used to be with it. I’m liking get back into it though and taking the time to exercise, stretch and calm myself for the day to come.

It’s hard not to see myself as ‘unproductive’ but I try to do yoga to rest my mind and remind myself that I am busy everyday, just because i don’t do anything specifically successful doesn’t mean I’m not productive.

It takes a bit of work to take time out of my day, which sounds funny but it’s true. I need to plan my day and make sure that I have time to exercise and take time out of my day. I’m trying to be kinder to myself each day and if I get nothing done one day, it is okay. I do have a child afterall!

author, University, writing

Writing With Other Priorities: University and Family

And the chaos resumes! I knew 2022 was going to be intense from the moment I brought my son into this world. I still have 2 years left of my degree (since I dropped to part-time) and I really want to push through and finish my studies!

It’s already a tough juggling act and University has only just begun. I have to attend classes and sometimes they clash with when my son is awake or needs to be fed or is just plain grumpy. It’s already a tough haul getting the studies done while looking after him.

Add onto this my writing commitments and I am swamped! I do enjoy being busy, I’m not a person to sit still and do nothing all day. But even for me it’s a bit too chaotic.

I was originally planning on doing 2 University classes, but I dropped it down to 1. I’m focusing on my family and on my writing right now while slowly trudging through my degree.

I’m enjoying spending more time in the present and being able to prioritise my family. I’m writing and reading when I can and University is on a bit of a backburner. When I get published University won’t be the be-all and end-all anyway!

I’ll keep busy with my 1 class this semester, family commitments and writing commitments. I am swamped but definitely enjoying it all.

author, Short Story, Writing

Gone: A Short Story

He wasn’t coming back. I knew he wasn’t, but I wanted him too. I was desperate for him to
come back, back to my arms, back to me…

My love was gone, pulled away from me. He had been conscripted to go fight in the war;
there was no way out of it. He was yanked out of my arms and sent off to battle; I knew he
wasn’t coming back. I had a feeling in my heart. Of course, no one believed me. They all
thought that I was crazy; they all thought that he would be back.

“The war will be over in no time honey.” That was what they all said, or something along
those lines. Mothers, wives, daughters… we were all worried for their safety, but it seemed
like I was the only one that truly believed the war was not going to end quickly. It seemed
like I was the only one who believed that the war would take many lives and ruin many
others.

I carried on doing my chores for the day, I had to clean the house up a little. It was all I could
do to distract myself from the loneliness. I heard a knock at the door, distracting me from my current task. I hurried to the door and opened it; eyes wide as I realized an army officer was standing in front of me.

He took his hat off and nodded at me. “Mrs Mathers?” he asked.

I nodded. “That’s me. Who are you?”

“I am Colonel Elliot, and this is Lieutenant Colonel Fredricks.”

The other man nodded his head as he was introduced. I could see he looked uncomfortable and my heart sank. “You’re both from the army?”

The Colonel nodded and cleared his throat. “When I met Lieutenant Jarred Mathers, I knew he was a fine soldier. He was strong, capable, and always looked out for his teammates. It’s with great regret that I must inform you that he has died in the line of duty.”

My eyes clouded over with unshed tears. My love was dead. I would never be able to hold
him in my arms, kiss him and keep him near. The one thing I feared more than anything in
the world had come true. He was gone, and he wasn’t coming back.

The Colonel clasped my shoulder and I gripped his hand, not fully believing what he had just said. My husband was gone. The love of my life was gone.

They stayed for quite a while longer, leaving when I was able to fully comprehend the news. The Colonel passed me a letter before he left – it had fallen into his hands rather than going through traditional post.

I made sure they both left safely and quietly closed the door behind them before slowly
moving to the living room. I picked up the envelope and stared at it, my lip quivering. It was the last letter he had sent me.

I finally worked up the courage to open it. I peeled off the white envelope and stared at the
paper now in my hands. I took a deep breath and started reading, tears splashing onto the
paper as I held it. He was being medically discharged soon. He was going to be home with me. He was excited to be with me while we had children and lived our lives together, outside of the fear of war.

I dropped the letter on the ground and let out a pained sob. My heart felt like it had just been
ripped out. He was so excited to come home. He was meant to be home in a few weeks, but
he is gone instead. I clutched the letter with one hand and my stomach with the other as my tears continued flowing.

He was never going to be able to meet his son.

author, tips, writing

Ten Tips for Successful Self-Editing

Editing your own novel is not easy. It does take a ton of dedication and resilience to successful edit your own novel and have it ready for publication. I’ve put together a list of the top 10 tips to successfully edit your novel and not let it drive you into insanity.

1. Let it sit

“When you write a book, you spend day after day scanning and identifying the trees. When you’re done, you have to step back and look at the forest.”

Stephen King

When you finish writing your novel, take a break. Don’t dive straight into editing. I find that you need to remove yourself from the content for a while so that you can come back to it with fresh eyes. You are so focused in on each individual detail that you really do need to take a step back, take a break, and then come back to view the novel as a whole.

Finish your novel and leave it for a few days, a week or a few weeks and then come back to it anew. When you take a break your mind stops being accustomed to what you’ve written and you can see it in a different light.

2. Print it out

I personally find it easier to edit when my novel is in a different format. I print out my work and will go through it with a red pen, like I’m marking it, and edit firstly this way. It really does help to put your work into a different format and see it on paper, rather than just on screen. I often see mistakes easier on paper and can correct things as I go with a red pen, and then change the document on my computer.

3. Read it out loud

You really understand how bad a sentence sounds when you read it out loud. Often you can read a sentence in your head differently than it’s written, since your mind can flip words around so that they make sense. You have no option but to read it exactly as it’s written when you say it out loud. This is effective in recognising bad sentence structure, excessively long sentences and incorrect grammar.

4. Break it into smaller tasks

Don’t tackle your entire novel in one hit – that’s just crazy talk. If you look at your novel without narrowing it down, editing seems impossible. You need to break the editing process up so that the task doesn’t appear unbearable. Edit one or two chapters at a time and give yourself sufficient time in-between chapters to break away from editing.

Focus on small tasks and eventually you will have edited your entire novel. It’s important to take time editing and not try to edit everything at once, because that will just stress you out and you’ll miss a lot of things that could have been changed. Slow and steady wins the race! Break up your novel a chapter at a time and you’ll edit more effectively.

5. Eliminate weak adjectives

I use weak adjectives occasionally in blog writing and some other forms of writing, but never in my novels. Adjectives can be powerful, but sentences can be more powerful without them. Saying ‘it was really good’ sounds quite weak, but when you write ‘it was excellent’, it’s powerful and has more impact. This creates meaningful writing, rather than just filler words.

Using less weak adjectives also creates powerful writing and draws the reader in more. When you’re using strong words, people want to read more. When you use weak adjectives, it can be distracting and make sentences seem less important.

6. Cut long sentences into shorter ones

This is admittingly one of my pet peeves. I can’t stand seeing a sentence that is basically a paragraph long! It’s grammatically incorrect and frustrating to read – I always think ‘when is this sentence going to freaking end?’ when I come across an excessively long sentence.

Don’t fall into the trap of writing without checking grammar – ensure that you have commas and if you can see a lengthy sentence, try to break it up. Two shorter sentences are more powerful than one excessively long sentence.

7. Take a break

Take breaks. Make sure you schedule breaks in and don’t spend every moment of free time editing. You’ll go stir-crazy if you spend every single second of your spare time editing, make sure to give yourself time to rest and get away from editing.

Be careful not to take too much of a break, though. Don’t let one free afternoon turn into two, then a week, and then months of not editing. You don’t want to fall into the procrastination trap, so you need to schedule and be determined to write, but take small breaks as you need them.

I am a master scheduler and I find this really helps in the editing world! I schedule myself time for editing, time for writing and time to relax. I write and edit better when I’ve given myself a day or two to just laze around our go out with friends. Your entire life doesn’t revolve around just editing – there’s plenty of time to get it done so make sure you live your life as well!

8. Don’t be afraid to cut out content

“So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads.”

Dr. Seuss

Having one page of impactful writing is 10x more significant than three pages of fluff. Make your writing purposeful and meaningful – don’t just fill pages with words. It can appear better to have 300 pages, but if 100 of those are useless information or adjectives, it’s better to have 200 pages.

I find I can waffle when I originally write. I can put in useless information and a plethora of meaningless words. You edit to get rid of useless information and create meaningful writing. Let your reader have some imagination in your world and don’t map out every inch of every room.

Keep your content simple and purposeful. Everything you include in your novel should have a purpose, so don’t write just to fill up pages. A smaller, impactful book will sell more than a large book filled with useless information.

9. Use Grammarly

Programs like Grammarly are a godsend! I always pride myself on being good at grammar and punctuation, but even I can miss a bit. Grammarly is an amazing system that picks up mistakes and it is always my first point of call!

I will send my manuscript through Grammarly first, to pick up any mistakes. It is seriously a brilliant program that helps editing so much! I seriously implore you to use this program to assist editing so that your grammar and punctuation can be fixed before you jump into editing. I also recommend sending your manuscript through the program again when you’ve finished re-writes and your last draft, so that it can pick up any new or remaining mistakes.

10. Edit, edit, edit

“Edit your manuscript until your fingers bleed and you have memorized every last word. Then, when you are certain you are on the verge of insanity…edit one more time!”

CK Webb

Don’t edit just once! You need to edit multiple times to perfect your writing. It can be quite tedious but it really is necessary. Three is usually my magic number and I go through my entire novel three times to perfect it to what I want it to be.

I pop it through Grammarly, then edit and rewrite the entire novel three times, and then I pop it through Grammarly again. I find this system works the best for me, but some people edit more than I do.

I struggle a bit with perfectionism so I’ve capped myself at three times so I don’t edit so many times that my novel starts to suffer (over-editing is a very real thing). Three works for me, but find a number that works for you and stick with it. The final run-through is the last and then you should focus on releasing it to the public.

author, University, Writing

Getting Back Into The Groove

“You can make anything by writing.”

C.S. Lewis

Holidays are well and truly behind us now! It’s still surreal to think that we’re in January 2022, but here we are! I’m starting to get back into my groove now and get back into my daily writing routine!

It’s definitely a different routine than I’m used to. I’m used to quite a rigid routine, but with a 3 month old a rigid routine isn’t really possible. His nap lengths vary and some days he sleeps 45 minutes and other days it’s 2 hours. I use his nap times as my writing time, and I have to be flexible about when I write and for how long.

It was definitely easier last year to find time for writing. My priorities did change drastically last year, but I was able to schedule my time and knew when I was working or doing University or writing. Now, it’s anyone’s guess really. My son may have a basic routine, but it can definitely change a lot.

I have had to find time wherever I can. I find he takes his longest naps in the morning, so I try to smash out some writing during that time. I will then usually edit during his afternoon naps, which tend to be about 45mins – 80mins. They are shorter nap lengths so I can edit quickly during that time.

638 Be Flexible Photos - Free & Royalty-Free Stock Photos from Dreamstime

I will be putting my son first throughout each day. If he is fussy one day and fighting naps I may not be able to spend time writing. It’s hard for an over-scheduler like me to accept this, but I’ve learnt over the past few months to really be more flexible and not schedule every second of my day.

My schedule will have to change again when Uni goes back. I will have to use his morning nap time as my University time, which means I’ll be writing in the afternoons and when he goes to bed. It’ll be tough juggling all the commitments, but I’m determined to give it a shot and work through it.

“You should write because you love the shape of stories and sentences and the creation of different words on a page. Writing comes from reading, and reading is the finest teacher of how to write.”

Annie Proulx

I love writing and it will always be my passion. I want to continue writing throughout my days and I’m sure that because I love it so much, I will find the time.

t’s exhausting, but these times are also fun. I’m eager to go through the year and see how my writing goes amongst my family commitments. It’s going to be a hectic and interesting year for sure!

author, holidays, Writing

Welcome To The New Year!

Enter this new year with a gratitude for this new chance to create your dreams.

Avina Celeste

Hello 2022! It’s crazy that we’re already in 2022. I feel like it was only just 2021. SO much happened last year and it completely flew by me. It didn’t help that Australia continued to be in constant COVID lockdowns for all of 2021. Not being able to do much does make the year kind of fly by, just like having a baby makes time speed up so much.

2022 is already looking so different than 2021! Australia is finally opening up to the rest of the world again and the states are starting to feel less like independent countries. Granted, we are still going up and down with restrictions and lockdowns, but all in all it’s looking a lot better than 2021!

White Calendar on Glass Vase

I have so much planned for 2022. I don’t know how much I will get done, but I’m looking forward to hitting some goals. I am still studying but I also want to put my book into some publishers soon, add a baby on top and my year is going to be crazy!

I am looking forward to finally putting COVID madness behind us and moving forward this year. I’m excited to watch my son grow up and continue to put my effort into my writing and get it out into the world. My plans changed dramatically last year when I found out I was pregnant, but now that my son is here I know I can keep to a plan to edit and publish my book. Other plans go to the wayside since I have such a small child, though.

We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.

Edith Lovejoy Pierce

There are so many opportunities for 2022 and I can’t wait to see what the year brings. Now that the holiday season is over I’m going to crack down on my writing once again. I always take a bit of a break in December, since it’s such a hectic time, and January is the time to pick it up again!

I really can’t wait to see what 2022 brings. It’s crazy to think it’s already a new year, but bring it on!

author, holidays, Writing

It’s Almost 2022!

New year is the glittering light to brighten the dream-lined pathway of future.

Munia Khan

How fast has 2021 flown by!? It’s crazy to think that Christmas is already behind us and New Years is just around the corner! This year came and went so fast – I’m still processing 2020 and here comes 2022.

I already know that 2022 is going to be very different than previous years. I currently have a 3 month old and he’s just going to get bigger and moving more this year! So many firsts are bound to happen and that’s so exciting.

I really want to crack down on editing my novels this year. It’s been hard to maintain momentum throughout 2021 due to pregnancy and having a baby and so many other things happening throughout the year. We were thrown a lot of curveballs but I’m excited about how 2021 went for us and our family and I’m equally as excited about moving into 2022.

White Spiral Notebook on Brown Wooden Table

2022 is going to be an exciting year. There’s so much happening this year and so much to do! It’s about time I get my novel into the world, and I’m on the final chapters for editing. My goal is definitely to get my novel published. It will be hard and a long journey but I’m determined to get it into the world!

In order to be successful in the new year, stay focused, develop a positive attitude and be passionate with your dreams.

Bamigboye Olurotimi

I did have the same goal for 2021, but due to many things popping up I wasn’t able to get as much done as I wanted. It can be easy to get down on yourself when you don’t meet your goals, but I changed my mindset. My goals simply changed in 2021. I had a baby, my family became priority and writing took a backseat.

2022 is open for more writing opportunities! My boy is growing up and already starting to take some decent naps at particular times of the day, he’s setting his own schedule which gives me time to write. I’m excited to get cracking on my writing more during these down times and pushing forward with my writing!

Stay tuned, hopefully my novel will be getting published soon and you guys will be the first to know!

author, holidays, Writing

Writing Through The Holidays

“Nothing ever seems too bad, too hard, or too sad when you’ve got a Christmas tree in the living room.”

Nora Roberts

I love the holidays! I always have and I anticipate I always will, especially with a child in the mix! It’s so much fun putting up Christmas decorations, buying presents and preparing to see family and celebrate the holiday season.

It’s different for me this year since I’m going into Christmas with an almost 3 month old baby. Not only am I juggling my usual commitments, but I have to juggle those commitments around the needs of my son.

Glass of Milk Near Open Book

I’m trying to take some time to pause and take breaks. It’s a crazy time having a demanding baby and throwing in the holidays and writing commitments makes life a bit hectic. I love Christmas and I’m making sure that I’m taking time to enjoy the Christmas season and see the awe in my son’s face as he stares at the Christmas lights and plays with his Christmas rattles.

“Christmas gives us an opportunity to pause and reflect on the important things around us.”

David Cameron

I’ve been able to take the time to pause throughout the season and I know that my family is the most important thing to me in this season. I’m making sure that we are prioritising our Christmas church time and spending time together as a little family.

I am, however, trying to keep to some commitments throughout December. I’m writing while my son naps and I’m trying to keep prioritising my passion for writing and reading. I know that my time will just continue to get hectic, even after the holiday season, and learning how to prioritise my time now has been so helpful.

It’s important to keep family close and if writing has to take a backseat, so be it. There is always 2022 to crack down on everything!

author, Writing

Editing Post NaNoWriMo

“I’ve found the best way to revise your own work is to pretend that somebody else wrote it and then to rip the living shit out of it.”

Don Roff

It’s always a crazy time post NaNoWriMo! The editing process is a long process, at least it always is for me.

I’m not the biggest fan of editing. I love getting all of my ideas onto paper but sorting through my thought processes and ideas is exhausting! I love reading through the finished product, but it always takes a while to get there.

Editing isn’t fun. I have to tear apart my own work and read it externally to myself, and it is really hard to detach my feelings and look at my work objectively. I know it’s worthwhile and editing is definitely needed, but it doesn’t make it any easier!

I’m planning on editing my recently completed NaNoWriMo novel slowly over December to continue to give myself a break from Infection Point, however I will be returning to edit Infection Point in the new year!

I really want to get published in 2022 and I’m going to do my best to finalise my edits and put forward the completed version! I know it’ll probably get torn apart by copyeditors down the line, but I’m quite proud of the novel I have written.

I’m going to continue powering through the editing process and, although my son provides plenty of distractions, I’m planning on having a solid second draft of my NaNo novel completed by the end of December.

author, nanowrimo, Writing

NaNoWriMo: Finishing Up

And just like that it’s the last day of November! It’s crazy to think that just 30 days ago I embarked on an ambitious journey to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days whilst studying and having a baby!

I didn’t think I would get it done, but I managed to persevere and complete my novel! With the conflicting priorities, something had to give though. I ended up dropping my summer classes at University. It wasn’t an easy decision, but I wanted to prioritise my child’s early days and continue my true passion of writing.

It’s always hard when you stop doing something. I felt a bit like a failure, giving up on my classes rather than pushing on and finishing them. But, it’s important to prioritise what makes you happy and understanding that it’s okay to push the pause button if you need the break.

Thinking back, even if I wasn’t pursuing NaNoWriMo, it was very ambitious to continue my Psychology studies over the holiday period with a newborn. He is very demanding, and preparing for Christmas is always a long journey even without a baby!

I still feel a little bit like a failure for dropping the classes over this trimester, but I keep reminding myself that my priorities have shifted and it’s okay to take a break! There is absolutely nothing wrong with pausing things when life gets hectic. Plans change and that’s okay!

You need to make time for your family no matter what happens in your life.”

Matthew Quick

Now I’m going to get back to editing Infection Point so that I can finally get it sent out to publishers in the new year! I even have a new novel to edit once I’ve finished Infection Point which is incredibly exciting!