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, 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, 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!

author, pandemic, Writing

Fanfiction and Other Writings

“There’s a time and place for everything, and I believe it’s called ‘fan fiction’.”

Joss Whedon

I admit it! I am a sucker for fanfiction! It’s a whole other world of creative writing and it is so much fun to indulge in.

I haven’t written much fanfic in a while, but I definitely do indulge in reading it. I always choose the fantasy worlds and my gaming worlds to read fanfiction about.

It’s fun to get absorbed in a world you already know and read about characters you know and enjoy someone else’s take on those characters.

Woman Sitting on Chair Using Black Ipad

I do enjoy those worlds and reading and writing fanfic. It is a fun world to get into, and kind of like a rabbit hole!

I have also been enjoying writing some short stories and poetry recently. It’s hard to do too much with novels while Uni is on, but I do try to be somewhat creative. Short stories help me to take small breaks from my studies and remain creatively minded.

It is fun throwing together a short story, and maybe one day I’ll compile them together! Who knows what the future holds?

But, for now, I’m going to go indulge in some fanfiction before returning to my current assessment!

“Fanfiction is what literature might look like if it were reinvented from scratch after a nuclear apocalypse by a band of brilliant pop-culture junkies trapped in a sealed bunker. They don’t do it for money. That’s not what it’s about. The writers write it and put it up online just for the satisfaction. They’re fans, but they’re not silent, couchbound consumers of media. The culture talks to them, and they talk back to the culture in its own language.”

Lev Grossman
author, holidays, University, Writing

New Year, Improved Me

“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

It is officially 2021! It’s crazy to think that it’s already a new year, but here we are! Seems like it was only just 2020; time sure does fly fast nowadays!

I’ve worked over most of the holiday season, even had work on New Years Day, but I’ve still managed to take some time out and enjoy this time! Spent a lot of time with family and friends and now I’m eager to welcome the new year!

There are several changes for me this year. I know most people say, ‘it’s a new year so it’s a new me’, but I prefer to see it as I’m just growing. I’m not new, I still make stupid mistakes, but I’m growing every year and last year was no different!

I made a huge decision at the end of last year to transfer University’s. It was a hard decision to make, especially since I’m not one for change. We don’t particularly see eye to eye, change and I.

But regardless, I’ve switched University’s and I’ll be starting 2021 in a new University! It’s scary to think about, but I think it’ll be good. I needed the change for my career, and this new University is really amazing.

“And now we welcome the new year. Full of things that have never been.”

Rainer Maria Rilke

I have set some goals for myself this year. I want to really knuckle down and do well in my Uni classes. I also want to finally finish my current novel and start editing my new novel that I finished last year.

I am aiming to officially submit my manuscript to a publishing house soon. It’s incredibly intimidating, but I hope it goes well!

2021 looks like it has a lot in store for me, and I’m keen to get cracking and complete my goals this year. I feel like 2021 will be a good year for me!

 “For last year’s words belong to last year’s language. And next year’s words await another voice.”

E.S. Eliot
author, holidays, Writing

Post-Christmas Blues

“One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas Day. Don’t clean it up too quickly.”

Andy Rooney

It’s always sad for me when Christmas is over. As I’m sure you’ve picked up in the last posts – I really do love the Christmas season. It’s sad when that season is over, and our lives return back to their normal routine.

New Years is in a few days, and that’s always an exciting time. Saying goodbye to 2020 and bringing in 2021. It’ll be good to move into a new year and hopefully away from the COVID drama.

It’s been a busy month, preparing for Christmas and the entire holiday season. I haven’t done much outside of work and celebration things. It’s been a sad month for my writing, but I’ve enjoyed the time with family and the entire holiday season.

“Christmas isn’t a season. It’s a feeling.”

Edna Ferber

I’ll continue to bring Christmas spirit into my everyday life moving forward. It’s a time to remember that being generous and kind takes precedence above all else, and I’ll endeavour to continue my year living with that Christmas feeling.

In a few days I’ll take down my Christmas tree and say goodbye to 2020. It has been a hard year, but it has also been productive for me. I’m looking forward to 2021 and everything it’ll bring!

So goodbye to Christmas and Happy New Year for 2021!

“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.”

Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
author, holidays, pandemic, Writing

Bring On 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 am so excited! Christmas Day is in just 3 days and I cannot wait! I absolutely love the Christmas season and I am beyond excited that it is so close! I can’t wait to give presents to people and see their faces when they get those presents. I love being able to give and show the people I care about how much I love.

It’s such a magical, happy time of year and I’m excited to get into all the Christmas festivities.

I haven’t been writing much at all this month, just because I’ve been so busy with Christmas things and incredible amount of shifts I’ve been getting this month. It’s always ‘go, go, go’ when it hits mid-November until about mid-January.

I like to take some time out during the craziness though. It’s important to reflect on the things that matter and really enjoy time spent with family. I’m lucky enough to have Christmas Day off which means I can spend the whole day with family.

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

David Cameron

I love being able to see my family and celebrate this season. It’s an important holiday, especially as a Christian. It’s the time to celebrate the birth of Jesus, and that’s always magical. It’s important for me to reflect on the birth of Jesus and Christmas’ meaning for me.

Additionally, I love the family time. It’s so beautiful to spend time with family and that we are all able to take the time away from work and spend time together, celebrating together and giving and having a good time.

I cannot wait for Christmas Day to hit! And on that note – Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays to everyone!

“What is Christmas? It is tenderness for the past, courage for the present, hope for the future.”

Agnes M. Pahro
author, holidays, pandemic, writing

Writing During The Holiday Season

“Freshly cut Christmas trees smelling of stars and snow and pine resin—inhale deeply and fill your soul with wintry night.”

John J. Geddes

I love this time of year. I love spending time with family and enjoying Christmas together. It really is a magical time of year.

I’ve well and truly put up all my Christmas decorations and I’m 90% done with presents! I love being able to give to people and being able to see their faces and feel their joy when they open their presents.

It’s a time of joy, and a time of giving. It’s beautiful, but it is also incredibly busy. My work picks up around the holidays so I’m currently getting a lot of shifts. It’s nice, but it also means that I’m very on the go.

“Christmas is most truly Christmas when we celebrate it by giving the light of love to those who need it most.”

Ruth Carter Stapleton

It’s hard to find time to sit out during the chaos and get some writing done. I find it important not to beat myself up during this time – not writing is fine over the holiday season!

I don’t panic too much right now – I used to kick myself down so much when I wasn’t writing during these holiday times. I’ve thankfully learnt that it is okay, it’s a very busy time and I’m bound to spend less time writing.

I am trying to sit out and get a little writing done where I can, but I’m not forcing it on myself and I know that it’s going to be hard over this season. I figure, once we’re through the holiday season I will be able to get cracking full-time into my writing once again!

But for now, I’m going to enjoy the Christmas season and not stress about writing heaps!

“Christmas now surrounds us, Happiness is everywhere. Our hands are busy with many tasks as carols fill the air.”

Shirley Sallay