self-care & Taking breaks
Self care is something I've talked about a lot on my social media accounts, and by all accounts you would think I was somewhat of an expert on it. On taking breaks and allowing my body and mind to rest when it's needed. But no one is perfect.
Taking a break and putting yourself first is a concept that I am still learning to apply to my own life on a near constant daily basis. Whether it's taking a night off from writing, taking a vacation, not pushing myself as hard in my day job, the list goes on and on. For all intents and purposes, all I can really offer at times like this is to let you all know that putting yourself first can be one of the hardest of choices. Sure it seems simple to have a night off here and there, but when it really comes down to it, we still tend to get lost in the shuffle that is our lives. We get swept up in the hustle of work and bills, responsibilities and deadlines, promised and obligations, and it can all pile onto us one after another until one day it's no longer us just going about our lives.
I'll be candid and say that despite my having recently taken a vacation and gotten the rest I truly needed, once I got back to the daily grind I hit work with a vengeance. Beating expectations and old personal records, trying to prove that I was energized and back better than ever. Now, even I can't honestly say what possessed me to treat my body this way, to push myself to the point that one day the room spun and I could barely walk straight, but there I was. Barely even 30 and experiencing stress induced vertigo is not something I ever wanted to achieve when it came to my work ethic. Some of you may have noticed my being slightly more absent on social media the past few days and that was entirely due to my taking time for myself - completely - and getting the rest I needed (once again) because I was reckless and I was so near a burnout I could taste it.
I am pleased to say that after a few days away from work, much needed workouts to tire out my body more effectively, and several nights of solid sleep helped immensely! I will, however, be honest and say that I will not be making the same mistakes again.
I sometimes have to remind myself that despite my work ethic - which many have praised me on - I am not a machine. I am not someone who can survive without a break or a decent nights sleep and I can definitely not push myself to my limits just to prove something that, honestly, I didn't need to. Self-care & taking a break is a concept that is ever changing. Especially now that I have two full-time jobs, I truly need to recognize that more than ever. Learning to prioritize my time and especially my own health (mentally and otherwise) because doing so will allow me to continue to live out this dream of writing stories for you all! And that is something I refuse to give up on anytime soon, so I refuse to give up on myself in the process.
I hope some of you can take away something from what I've had to share this month and I truly hope you all prioritize yourselves going forward.
All the best,
This weeks topic one I am still learning myself. I decided to make this one more specific to see-published authors as I can’t entirely speak for authors who are traditionally published. For self-published authors we take on projects differently. We don’t have a contract we sign with a publisher or an agent which outlines out schedule for the year. We, in fact, make out own schedules. We plan out the books and stories we want to write, and sometimes need to write, and hope we can achieve those goals by years end.
What proves to be an ongoing struggle, however, is taking time for ourselves to rest.
Sounds odd doesn’t it? Needing to actually take the time to schedule a vacation or even a night off, but it’s true. Especially when you’re used to being your own boss and making your own schedules, time off is something that can get away from you. In the past, I thought a simple night off here and there along with the occasional weekend was enough. I was wrong. Such things need to be taken as seriously as our own storylines because when we don’t make ourselves a priority, we can experience burnout. Something I’ve done on several occasions now if I’m being honest.
Sure we can write a book and publish it within a year, or maybe two books, or maybe even three! But at the end of the day, what we need to remind ourselves is that we are our number one employee. We’re the ones that do the marketing. The ones that do the cover designs. The ones that do the editing. The ones that do the formatting. And, of course, the ones that do the writing. Now, I know quite a few authors who have an epic team on their side, and I am no different. People whom we turn to to help lighten the workload is okay. Having people in your life who are helping you along the way of achieving your dreams is a phenomenal thing. Especially for those who used to think that there would be no one around when we finally took this step. But never forget you are just as special a part of that team as anyone else. That you deserve the time for yourself.
I was inspired to write about this topic especially recently when I went on a vacation to Punta Cana and just enjoyed myself and gave myself permission to relax. I got caught up on my reading, I took a spa day, I even walked along the beach in the ocean a couple of times and lost count of drinks and calories I consumed. As one should while on vacation! But when I got back home, I noticed a change. I felt AMAZING. I felt well rested and recharged for the first time in a long while and I realized that a night off here and there isn’t enough sometimes. Now, I’m not saying to go and blow your savings on a trip and abandon everything for several days there, but take the time for yourself. Take a week off here and there when possible and just enjoy yourself. CELEBRATE for crying out loud! Because here you are! Living out a dream you once thought would never happen!
Now, this dream can be becoming an author, or it can be having a family of your own, getting a PhD, starting your own business, or so many other things. But I can bet, that at one point in your life, you may have wondered if it was ever going to happen. Right? So enjoy yourself, celebrate what you’ve accomplished! And for those who are still hustling and going towards that dream, KEEP AT IT AND NEVER GIVE UP, because one day, you will get there. But until then, remember to make yourself a priority!
All the best,
Influence and inspiration is a major thing for me as an author and a creator. Having been a dedicated reader for as long as I can remember, I’ve read countless books created by some of the best out there but when it comes to the stories that inspired me personally versus the ones that inspired me professionally, the stories, writing style, and authors differ.
Given how I’ve already spoken on this topic a few times in past interviews, I’ve chosen to approach it a little differently and focus more on what’s to come of my writing process in the future rather than what inspired me so many years ago.
Professionally speaking, I’ve always loved the writing styles of authors like Sarah Dessen, Norah McClintock, Jennifer L. Armentrout, and Meg Cabot to name a few. These talented authors have encouraged me to write stories that are heartfelt and truly focus on aspects such as character development, ARCs, as well as that impactful emotional connection to readers that just makes a story that much more memorable.
In terms of writing I’ve learned to find inspiration not just from the books I’ve read, but from the fellow authors I’ve been fortunate to meet (albeit virtually) during my writing career thus far. Authors like Tiffany Andrea, Shelby Mahurin, Caitlin Moss, Laura Geraghty, and last but not least, Kiersten Modglin to name a few. These authors, for whom some are just beginning their journey as an author, while others have taken the book world by storm in countless ways. Each of them have inspired me to develop and grow as an author and truly approaching this journey for what it is, a career. A career in which I apply my own work ethic and dedication to every aspect of it.
From them, I’ve been inspired to approach this new year of writing a little differently. By applying a set schedule where I’ll set aside a few hours every day dedicated to writing, note taking, etc, as well as establishing a schedule for the year in terms of my book releases and writing schedule, I hope to become more productive. Now this may seem like a far gone conclusion after my previous year and having released three books my first year of being an author, but I promise you it wasn’t done without its challenges. It’s my hope to have a more dedicated work schedule in place so as to avoid potential burnout, which was something I struggled with a lot in my first year.
By applying my long field inspiration from past authors, and keeping in mind methods and routines I’ve learned from new authors, I hope to grown as an author and truly find that middle ground where I can succeed at little to no expense to my own mental health and creativity.
All the best,
For this months Writer’s Corner I am choosing to do something a little different. Recently I was asked a series of questions about writing and because the questions were so good I wanted to share them here for anyone else asking the same ones!
How to get in the mood to write when you don’t want to?
When descriptive writing doesn’t come naturally?
Getting through writers block?
Worrying about what other people think?
Tips for writing a series?
A good way to start a book?
Describe characters skin tone without being awkward?
Ending a series with a bang?
Word count for a book for teens?
Thank you all again for your question!
If you have more questions about publishing or writing in general, leave a comment down below or comment on my Instagram posts.
All the best,
We are officially in the NANOWRIMO days and many of us have already done incredible work on story ideas and novels we’ve been meaning to write for a long time now. For those who don’t know, NANOWRIMO is National Novel Writing Month which began back in 1999 and consists of one major challenge: to write 50,000 words in one month (or thirty days)! Any writer can tell you that this is one heck of a challenge on its own to write a novel consisting of 50,000 words - or more - but the challenge really lies in getting it all done on a time crunch. NANOWRIMO offers writers the chance to punch out that story they’ve been carrying around in their minds or even the next book they’ve been meaning to finish.
On many levels it’s the writing marathon some of you might’ve never known about. It is also one I will never participate in AGAIN.
Before I get ahead of myself, I need to clarify a few things. I have already participated in NANOWRIMO last year and found it to be an exhilarating experience. Not only that, but I managed to complete the book I’d been writing as well - now known as The Caged Curse. Nevertheless, as productive as that month was for me, I was completely burnt out by the end of it. After finishing my manuscript I couldn’t even look at my laptop for days because I needed to take the time to recoup.
I have, and will always, support my fellow authors who are taking on the challenge of NANOWRIMO but I respectfully decline any offers to join in from here on out.
Writing is a joy for me. Its something that gets me out of my own head and allows me to fulfill a deep passion of mine. To share stories with the world that would’ve otherwise been locked away in the deep recesses of my imagination is a privilege and a gift for me. One I take very seriously. Something else I take seriously, is my own mental health. Every writer works differently. Some can write in the dead of night, some over month long periods, and some prefer the challenge of NANOWRIMO; to name a few. One thing that remains the constant is that there is no wrong way to write your story. Only that you do it.
But something else that is important is listening to your own self when you’re in that writing process and knowing when to hold off and take those much needed breaks. I have no doubts that I will fall into more writing sprints throughout my writing career, and some even similar to NANOWRIMO in some respects. But I refuse to set a clock above my head and criticize myself if I haven’t reached the same goals as my fellow writers who are also doing the exact same thing. This was something else that severely impacted my thought process during NANOWRIMO. I was thrilled for my fellow writers, don’t get me wrong, they were absolutely excelling in this challenge and there is nothing wrong with that. The problem, in the end, was that this was not a good fit for me.
My writing process consists of following my inspiration and at times pounding out countless words when I have that moment of clarity. Along with detailed plotting stages and thought out drafting, with the occasional plot twist thrown in, I’ve managed to find a system that works for me.
I’ve had fellow writers ask me about my own thoughts on NANOWRIMO and I’ve been honest with them in saying that it wasn’t for me. I hated the forced deadline, the unmet goals, the long hours of forcing out the words that just wouldn’t come and in the end feeling as though I had failed at being the one thing I had dreamed of being for so long. But one thing I have never done, and never will, was discourage them from trying NANOWRIMO for themselves. Despite my seemingly negative experience with this challenge, it was still a worthwhile experience. One that I learned so much from and, in time, learned what my own writing process was in comparison. Through NANOWRIMO I was able to learn what worked for me and what didn’t.
So, when the days come when I don’t write a single word for what feels like forever, to the moments when I post about how I’ve managed to write a couple thousand in one sitting - and sometimes for days at a time - I want to stress that this does not mean that YOUR writing should reflect how I, or any other author for that matter, works. What we’re doing is an art form and should be respected as such. We all work differently and from that, we create absolutely unique stories that fill in those empty spaces on shelves all over the world. Quite a beautiful concept isn’t it?
So no, I will never participate in NANOWRIMO ever again, but I will also never regret having done so in the first place.
I will forever applaud those that take on this worthy challenge!
All the best,
Plotting your story
This week’s topic, PLOTTING YOUR BOOK
Its a question that many authors get asked: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Did that last one throw you? Don’t worry, it did for me too in the beginning. Essentially, they’re asking if you prefer to plot out your book, or, if you prefer to write by the seat of your pants - pantser - and just go where the story takes you.
I’ll be the first to admit that I had no idea where I fell when I first started as an author. When I say I was adamant that I didn’t want to use plotting for my books, I mean it. I wanted nothing about writing to remind me of those school days where we would be forced to come up with a story and literally EVERY detail being torn up by the teacher because we didn’t follow the rules. I was worried that those same rules would force my story to be dry and void of the emotions and connection I wanted with my readers. Little did I know…
Thanks to more research and a lot of patience later, I took to looking into what everyone was talking about when it came to being a plotter - nothing against fellow pantser, but your girl needed some structure to her books. I listened to other authors - both indie and traditional - and learned what it really meant to be a plotter and to use structure when it came to writing, and how helpful it was to have all those aspects in place BEFORE you started writing.
Having been a pantser, I already knew how I wanted the story to go. How the characters would develop and how everything would tie together in the end. However, I will admit, that once I got my hands on a clear layout for a story and saw what was needed, I found that I could add more to my stories. With that visual I could see any gaps that I would have missed before. I guess that means I’m still a visual learner after all.
If you haven’t already, I recently posted a look of my new writing nook on my Instagram page and some of you might notice the blank white pages I have above my desk. These are in place so when I plot out my book and I divide everything into Acts (act 1-2-3) as well as sub sections like plot points and climax, I have a constant visual right in front of me as I write so I always know where the story is headed and what’s coming next.
This also gives me AMPLE time to use what I love the most: SCHOOL SUPPLIES! Yes, I was that kid that was always so excited to go back to school shopping and getting a notebook, pens, pencils, etc. All the things that would add to my learning experience. Having been a student for so many years, when I finished my Masters in 2018, I’ll admit, I was at a loss when September 2018 came around and I wasn’t joining my friends with registering for classes and getting supplies like I used to. Now I have more reason than ever to use all the supplies I have left over and put them to use.
So you can just imagine how covered up that board on my desk becomes as the story develops! And I love every minute of it!
The long and short of it all is, do what works for you. Regardless if you prefer plotting out your books, or if you prefer just being inspired and seeing where the story takes you and filling in the gaps along the way, if it works for you and you benefit from that mindset, by all means CONTINUE!
All the best,
facing those 'no word' days
Today I wanted to discuss those dreaded 'no word' days. Almost every writer I've come across has faced days like this if not once, then countless times. It's those days when you write ABSOLUTELY NO WORDS. Not a single one.
As authors, we're constantly struggling to get as much work done in a given day as we can in order to finish a project or meet one deadline or another. Whether they be traditionally published authors or even indie authors, we all face days where we are simply not able to write a single word, and because of this, we're faced with judgment - sometimes even from ourselves.
Those 'no word' days used to terrify me. Made me feel as though I'd failed somehow and I wasn't an actual author because I would spend hours, if not days (yes, plural) without writing a single word. I'm sure we've all seen those social media posts claiming that you can't call yourself an author, let alone a writer, if you do not write EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
But now that I've been a writer for nearly a year - and a published author at that - I've come to learn that its not all about writing EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. It's not about the criticism either. Just because I wasn't writing a couple thousand words every day didn't mean that I had failed. Not at all.
I've even worked to join the ever popular NANOWRIMO last November and I'll be honest, I will never participate in that project again. Don't get mw wrong, I can definitely see the community aspect and developmental benefit of joining such an endeavour, but from my perspective it was KILLER. Day after day I felt that if I didn't meet a certain goal then I've ultimately failed. Especially when I would compare my writing goals to others. Never mind that I managed to finish my manuscript because of this project, it was certainly not without its price.
I've learned that it truly isn't about the word count or page count that one can get out on a daily basis that matters, but about being proud of the work that you do, and this means being kind to yourself on those 'no word' days.
I am a firm believer that even when I am not writing that I am still, technically, writing. My imagination does not, and never has, had an off switch, so I am constantly thinking about my characters or where the story is going. Maybe even a new story all at the same time.
The days when we aren't writing a single word, isn't a failure. It doesn't mean we are less of an author than the other person who finished their manuscript or someone who is selling more copies than us.
Learning to embrace those 'no word' days and choosing instead to allow them to happen and not force myself to write has been a monumental part in embracing my life as an author. I've grown to trust my writing process, because we all work differently. There is absolutely no shame in that. None at all. No matter what some carefully crafted social media post may say.
If you have written a story, either in your mind, on paper, on a computer, phone, tablet. If you have dreamed up a scene in your mind because you were inspired by a TV show, or you came up with a cool way for your character to develop through your own book by a song that you heard. Hell, even if you are just lounging on a couch and reading someone else's book. You, my dear, are writing. You're building your arsenal of tools at every corner and are adding onto your imagination one step at a time.
So, if you're struggling with those dreaded 'no word' days, promise that you won't be so hard on yourself. Because, I can guarantee, there is another author out there who is doing the exact same thing, and instead of beating yourself up over what you feel you didn't accomplish, trust the process. Because it's working in your favour.
All the best,
How to wrap up a novel
This month’s post will be about how I work to wrap up my novels. Now this can differ from one author to another, and that does not mean one way is better than others - just another the creative process comes alive.
Wrapping up a novel - now what is that? Well, it’s just how it sounds! Wrapping up the story like a present right before you present it to the world. Essentially, when you close the story to the ever approaching ‘The End’ page - or ‘La Fin’ in my case.
Wrapping up a novel also looks differently when it comes to the story itself, for instance, how you would wrap up a stand-alone book compared to a sequel in a series will be completely different.
In the case of a stand-alone book, the author needs to wrap up loose ends and ensure that the story is coming to a close in a perfect manner or as perfect as they want the story to be when the reader finally gets to that final page. As the end of a story can differ from genres, we can never truly expect how a story will end until we finally get to that final page.
A sequel in a series will definitely have some open-ended areas in the last few pages and that’s how it’s supposed to be. Authors need the readers to anticipate ‘What Happens Next’ so that they come back for the next book - and the next and the next.
When it came to The Next Right Thing, I wanted to wrap up the story as best as I could in order to give my characters the closure they needed. It’s what they’ve been fighting for the whole story so its time to learn if they finally got what they were looking for. Did the bad guy pay for his crimes? Did the love interests finally end up together? Did that one mysterious thing finally get resolved? (Can’t way too much now, cause then this post would need SPOILER warnings, and believe me, you wouldn’t want me to spoil such an amazing story!)
Everything comes together in the end, but it can also depend on how the author wants to close off the book as well. Charles Dickens was the first to bring the concept of a ‘cliff-hanger’ to life - by literally ending the book with a character hanging from a cliff - and that left that sense of anticipation. Some authors may want everything to come together nicely, but I like to leave some things to the readers imagination.
Let’s be honest, you can’t please everyone. Not everyone is going to love how you ended off your story or how you left your characters. And, if you’re like me, you’ll have people asking for a sequel even though you never planned on one (but only time will truly tell). So don’t be too discouraged if you can’t for any reason give every single little loose end a nice little bow to tie it into the end of your book. Sometimes, that’s just how things work out. In my own opinion, I love when this happens, because it makes the story feel more unique and, more than that, it makes it feel REAL. The last thing any of us expect from life is for things to end off in a nice and neat little bow. Because, that never really happens. Instead, we are left with moments when stories are left open-ended and without any closure. But, when we look hard enough, we can find the depth of those stories. The way they made us feel and what they taught us along the way.
An open-ended, cliff-hanger, no lose-ends-tied ending isn’t the end of the world. In some cases, it’s the beginning of oh so many. What matters, is that we remember to focus on what we did learn, so that when that inevitable final page is before us, we know what to write, we know what to leave behind as our last parting words.
All the best,
balancing work and writing
How do you do it?
This has been a question I have been asked quite a few times when it’s come to writing or even while I was in school completing another degree. Everyone was always curious as to how I managed to finish assignments so early or in this case, publish not one but two books in less then 5 months and still manage to work full time as a Fraud Investigator.
To be honest, the question stumps me every single time. It’s not as if I plan ahead and know how things will turn out, but I have been known to have a killer sense of self discipline especially when it comes to something I am passionate about. Luckily enough for me I have not one but two careers I absolutely love so that to me if half the battle. Though being stuck at home during a pandemic does offer more free time then I could have ever imagined I’d like to think I was making the most out of a bad situation.
As with anything, my planning isn’t always perfect. There have been times when I’ve felt the tug of burnout waiting in the wings and seriously wondered if I could get everything done in time. These days I have taken to scheduling my time more - similar to when I was in school - having learned that it truly does help to have a game plan, and especially time to dedicate to myself and the ever important ‘days off’.
It has been my experience that when it comes to success, one must always schedule time for themselves. Take a night off, read a book (that has nothing to do with yours), go outside and look at anything but a screen! Honestly anything that will allow you to take a pause. It’s in these moments that I not only feel myself recharging but I can even find my best inspiration when I - quite literally- step away from writing. When it comes to work itself, that’s a little easier. Having a job that keeps me busy Monday to Friday from 8-4pm definitely helps with my scheduling as I know I can’t have anything planned during that time when it comes to my book. It sounds strange but I love that I have an excellent excuse to step away from writing and focus on something else that is so far from what I am working on. I’ve also found this to be an excellent way to get over writers block as well!
So when it comes down to it, I’d have to say that self discipline really plays a large role in being able to balance the both. That, and loving what you do. If you find something that you truly love to do you’ll set aside time for it. Whether it be an hour after work, or even more depending, or writing down some notes on your break which even I count as writing, it all comes together in the end. So for those wondering “how she does it?” The takeaway here isn’t some master plan which anyone can copy I’m afraid. In the end, it’s just loving what you do and making the time for it every single day. And yes, this can look different for just about anyone and that’s okay too.
I never imagined that I would have two careers before the age of 30 but you can’t put a price on living outa dream you’ve had for years. I am so lucky to be able to do not one, but two jobs that I’ve dreamed of doing - even if one came out of nowhere lol.
I can only hope that the rest of you manage to find the same, in your own time, and in your own way.
Best of luck!
All the best,
FYI - Hey everyone! I wanted to say real quick that give my busy schedule I will now only be posting a new #TheWritersCorner once a month on the first Friday of that month. Should you have any ideas or suggestions for posts please feel free to leave a comment or write a comment on my Instagram post! Thank you! xo
For this weeks post, I wanted to get into the topic of how I come to find my inspiration. As I have a feeling I’ll be referencing it from time to time it seemed fitting to have a post on it now.
I was always the one that would hear others talk about their inspiration as something that comes from everywhere, and truth be told, they were right. Inspiration for me comes from a variety of things. It can be as simple as having read a book or watched a TV series or movie and my imagination is kicked into gear. Sometimes something as small as wondering what would have happened to the characters had they not taken the one path they were on is all it takes.
Now, there are times all this results in is only a scene and nothing else but it was still prove valuable when I’m working on a new project and I need it for later on.
Sometimes I can be going for a walk, listening to music, or even cleaning around the house and because I’m not overtly focused on anything my mind wanders about. Having always been the child with an overactive imagination you can understand that having a million thoughts at a time is nothing new to me. Only this time, I can work on them, build them into a story that will one day grace the pages and become a book.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have ideas for every possible outcome when it comes to a potential story, but my imagination has a way of giving me a good starting point that I can build on over time. But only if the story really grasps my attention. I’m sure that many writers can sympathize that a story is only as good as the willingness we have to write it. I need to have a story that has truly captured my heart and attention. This way I know that I will give it my all and make it into the story that it was always meant to be.
All the best,
The Writer's Corner originally began on my Instagram account and I decided to share it here. The Writer's Corner has now moved to my Newsletter which you can sign up for via the link below! Enjoy!