It’s my pleasure to welcome Kleia Paluca to my blog. This Inspiration Station is brought to you by her. Thanks, Kleia!
Many writers struggle at the beginning of their writing journey and never get past the first hurdle: the act of overcoming the blank page in front of them.
Fortunately, there’s an ancient art that can help authors face this writing fear, and it’s called journaling. The Harvard Business Review once said that the key to becoming an outstanding leader is simply to keep a journal. Well, the same truth holds for all writers — and we’ll show you exactly why in this post.
1. Journaling helps you practice writing consistently
To produce a book, you need to get in the habit of writing. This might seem like an oversimplification, but many bestselling authors have said that writing regularly — especially when you don’t feel like you’re writing particularly well — is the most important thing that they’ve done to overcome writer’s block. Maya Angelou is famously on record for saying that she might even jot down, “The cat sat on the mat, that is that, not a rat,” just to be able to put something down on paper.
In this respect, journaling is one of the best ways to practice regular writing. For authors, it can help build a good habit of writing daily (and personal character). Stuck for several days untangling a plot thread in your story? Write in your journal. You might be surprised at how the simple act of writing will benefit your storytelling.
2. It gets the creative gears in your head cranking
Multiple studies have confirmed that journaling will inspire creativity. And perhaps the most freeing thing about journaling is that you can journal about anything. If you’d rather not write about your day, perhaps you can instead describe a recent encounter that you had — in the third person! Or you can practice character creation by plucking a name from a character name generator and building a fun backstory around it. Or you can recall that conversation that you heard earlier that day in the coffee shop and expand upon it, wherever your imagination leads you.
Writing prompts in particular are a great (and readily available) source of inspiration that can get you started. In short, you’re asking the wrong question if you’re asking, “But what should I journal about?” What you want to be inquiring instead is, “What should I journal about first?”
3. It encourages mindfulness
As the old adage goes, a healthy writer is a productive writer. Stress and self-doubt can weigh you (and your words) down, which is why it’s important to try and keep these two horsemen of the apocalypse at bay as best as you can.
It’s important to note that journaling has been found to have long-term benefits for mental health. As Natalie Goldberg once said, “Whether you’re keeping a journal or writing as a meditation, it’s the same thing. What’s important is you’re having a relationship with your mind.” Taking the time every day to journal will keep you keep in touch with your mind and thoughts. It can help turn a negative mindset into a positive one. More than that, it encourages mindfulness, which will benefit you not just as a writer, but as a person.
4. It makes sure that you don’t forget a story idea again
If you’re an author, aspiring or not, you’re probably familiar with this common writing fear: coming up with a really good story idea, promising yourself that you’ll actually remember it this time, and then forgetting it — all in the span of a day.
So, last but not least, a journal can help you recall important ideas. It’s no coincidence, either, that research has found that journaling actually boosts your ability to remember! So you can start saying goodbye to days where you forget a thousand story ideas, so long as you have your journal nearby and handy.
If you’re excited about journaling now, first things first: grab a journal. Then give yourself 15 minutes a day to write in it, and strive to find a quiet place where you can write in peace. To give you a headstart, here are a few things that you might like to try writing about at first:
How was your day?
Describe a coincidence that happened to you recently.
Describe the last time you experienced déjà vu.
What was the last dream that you had? Can you describe it?
Remember: at the end of the day, a writing fear is just a fear, and you don’t need to be fearless to eliminate fear. You just need to know how to navigate it, so that you can do what you actually want to do. In this respect, journaling is an invaluable exercise that can help you climb daily nearer to your end goal: a beautiful book.
Kleia Paluca is a writer based in the Philippines. She reads a lot of books, doodles portraits of famous and unknown people, and would like to make a difference in the world before kicking the bucket.
I have to be honest. I haven’t really been working on anything writing-specific this week. My sister is due to have her baby any day and I was so sure he’d be here by now. With that said, I’ve actually been just doing little things here and there while I wait.
I have done some things though. I started a Fiverr profile not too long ago. I’ve been working on adding more services to that as well as the Services page here. Slowly, but surely, I’ve been knocking things off my to-do list.
I’ve been working on a lot on the blog as well. There are so many posts I can write and get up on the blog ahead of time. In the end, this will save me so much time in the long run so I can focus on writing and other things that I plan on doing outside of the blog.
So far, I’ve gotten all my Short Story Sunday shorts up, scheduled, and ready to go! I’ve also been getting a lot of drafts up for posts that I can write and schedule in advance as well. The Quotes are done for the year and I have drafts for the Character Asks as well. Those two features are every other month. The quotes didn’t take too long and the character asks should be quick-ish as well. I even have drafts for the WIP Wednesdays, Goals, and Wrap-Ups for each month. Of course, I can’t write these posts in advance, but at least they’re already set up, graphics and all. I just need to write them and schedule them.
My never big project is to get all the Time To Write prompts up here. That will take a while. Short Story Sunday took a couple of hours. Still, I’m happy to be making such progress! I plan to have this all done by the end of March. Come April, I can get into a better routine of getting that month’s posts done at the beginning of the month if I can. I can also get into a routine of reading and commenting on other blogs again, getting active on my social media again, etc.
Also, writing. It will free up so much writing time.
That’s It For Now
March has been the month of catching up and getting ahead especially this past week. I’ve been trying new things, such as Fiverr, and really prioritizing all my work. I’m getting somewhere!
What have you been working on this month? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.
Eating habits while writing is something difficult to maintain. I don’t know about you, but I will either sit at my computer and eat junk or I’ll get so wrapped up in my work that I’ll forget to eat and be starving by the time dinner rolls around. Neither is good.
Eating Snacks During Writing
If you’re going to eat while writing, you should be sure to have certain snacks or meals on hand. My favorite snacks are the cheesy ones like flavored-blasted Goldfish. I love other flavored things that get dust and grease all over your hands such as BBQ chips. Eating these things aren’t easy when you’re trying to write.
I don’t want to get my pen, paper, or keyboard all greasy. Yes, I know napkins are a wonderful thing, but I never feel like my hands are truly clean from my snack unless I wash my hands. With that said, if you’re going to eat while you get your writing time done, I suggest not eating those kinds of snacks. Plus, it’s junk food anyway, so if you’re going to eat while sitting at the computer most of the day, you should have a meal or something.
Eating “Meals” During Writing
When I said meals, I don’t mean sit at your computer and eat dinner. You should always take a break and if you live with others, you should eat with them and socialize if you can. But, if you have smaller meals like leftovers or frozen food, eat that for lunch or have a little as a snack while writing. Use a fork or spoon. Eat yogurt. Get something good in your belly without making a mess of your writing space.
Schedule Eating Time
It seems silly to have to “schedule” eating time into your day. But it forces you to take a break and get up and away from the computer. It also gets your stomach in a certain habit of when to be hungry and when not to be hungry.
When I worked at the preschool, I ate breakfast, had snack with the kids at a certain time, ate lunch, went to babysit and had a quick snack while wating for the bus, went home and ate dinner. Sometimes I would have another snack before bed and other times I wouldn’t. But it was a great routine and it helped me eat healthier as well. That was all thrown out the window as soon as I quit my job because now I can eat whatever I want whenever I want.
Needless to say, I need to start eating better again and eat at certain times during the day.
Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner
To be fair, I have gotten a little better at breakfast. I have my coffee and smoothie. Sometimes I’ll have Cheerios or a bagel. If I’m feeling ambitious I’ll even make myself eggs or something. I have lunch every day, even though that’s my least favorite, because I’ll make lunch for my sister when she comes home for her lunch break. I just need to figure out the middle. Some days I eat constantly while at the computer and other days I forget. Neither is necessarily good.
I’m working on it, okay?
Do you eat while writing or schedule in some breaks to do so? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.
Welcome to another Mental Health Monday. Today, I’m going to talking about when I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder.
Heading To High School
I was never a social butterfly, especially in school. High school was hard. I just wanted to get through each day and make it to the end of the year which would eventually lead to graduation. I felt like I was in a rut – wake up, go to school, do homework, go to bed. I also had a job and babysat in the afternoons as well so there wasn’t a whole lot of room for downtime. But, I much preferred to go to work and babysit than go to school.
I don’t remember middle school being like this. I didn’t really like middle school either, but I had a good group of friends. That group was lost by the time I headed into high school. One friend moved towns so she went to a different high school. Another friend had decided to go to a trade school. One friend stopped talking to me because he deemed himself a “cool high school” kid as he tried to fit in. Another friend did the same – except she didn’t have many other friends. So, as she tried to find her place, she remained “friends” with me. But she wasn’t happy about it.
(There was another friend in the group and she and I are still friends to this day. So something good came out of this.)
Anyway, when I was a freshman my sister was a senior. I often hung out with her and her friends because they were better than hanging out with than people in my class. This particular friend did the same because she thought hanging with seniors made her cool. However, she was going through some difficult times so when my sister and her friends graduated, she was completely lost. So was I, to be honest.
But instead of sticking together, she wanted nothing to do with me… but she still hung around me anyway.
Halfway through my high school career, it was the first day back from winter break (if I remember correctly… it was January, I remember that much). My alarm woke me up and something flipped a switch. I turned off the alarm, rolled over, and went back to sleep. My mom came up to wake me a while later. I told her I wasn’t going to school. She assumed I needed a mental health day and let me skip.
But each morning was the same. I woke up just to go back to sleep. Eventually, I didn’t even set my alarm anymore. I would only get out of bed until it was “safe.” Meaning, I’d be so late for school and everyone else was at school or work so I’d have no way of getting to school anyway.
My poor mother was at a loss. Even I was at a loss. I knew it was wrong, but I couldn’t bring myself to go to school. Even when my mom said, “Your job is to go to school,” “You need to go to school,” or, “Why don’t you want to go to school?” I responded logically in my head. “I know my job is to go to school,” “I know I need my high school diploma,” and, “I have no idea why I don’t want to go.” But out loud I simply replied, “I don’t want to.”
My mom took me to go see my primary care doctor. She too was at a loss and was kind of harsh about the situation. She asked what I did all day. I told her I’d clean the house, I’d get my writing done, sometimes I would just chill and get the chance to sit and watch TV. I was still going to my job and still babysitting. I just didn’t want to go to school. That was totally not okay in my doctor’s book. She told my mother that if I wasn’t going to go to school, then I wasn’t allowed to do anything else.
Needless to say, we got a second opinion. When we went back to the doctor’s, we saw someone different. She was more sympathetic and in tune to what we all had to say. That fact that I had no idea why I didn’t want to go to school was totally okay with her.
They wondered if I had depression, but because going to school was the only thing I refused to do, it was confusing to them. If I had depression, I most likely wouldn’t want to write or go to work. So, the doctor referred us to a therapist.
Going To Therapy
Our neighbor was in therapy for anxiety and she recommended her therapist to us. I saw her for a few years and it was the best thing that I ever did. But still, it took a while to figure things out.
A lot of things came to light. I explained to her about my “friend” – who thought I was lying to her about why I wasn’t coming to school, thus spread rumors about me that I had died, and so on. I explained to her how most of my teachers weren’t on my side. My high school classes were split into two levels – academic and honors (honors being a higher level than academic). I was in all academic my freshman year and even though I had As and Bs, I had to argue to get into honors classes. My teachers all thought honors would be too hard for me.
So, when all this happened, they dropped me down to academic classes because they assumed I was too overwhelmed with the work, despite my grades. I had trouble with oral presentations, but I still got good grades in all my classes (except math. Math is awful, but I was never in honors for math and I knew that was the right choice). My point is, if my teachers didn’t believe in me, then why was going to going to spend six hours a day with them?
One of my teachers even spoke about my grades to this “friend” of mine. My friend called me saying, “You had better get your work in because she doesn’t know what grade to give you for your report card.” This was the friend who told my classmates I had died. This was my friend who I was there for when she went through her own mental health issues in eighth grade and was now thinking I was lying to her. This was the friend who saw my issues as a gossip-fest. This was the friend who never once called me this entire time to see how I was feeling – expect to “scold” me about my schoolwork.
Now, mind you, at this point, I was going after school for an hour to be tutored and get my work done. This particular teacher, my English teacher ironically, was the only teacher who had not given me work. How can I pass in non-existent work? And then she was talking to my classmates about my grades.
It was shortly after this that we all mutually – my mom, therapist, and I – agreed that I would not be going back to high school. A lot of things came to light and everyone realized that my high school simply wasn’t the best place for me. My therapist also thought that I was just the type of person to know what I wanted and high school couldn’t give that to me.
Some Good Things Did Come From This
I was ready to drop out. I didn’t think I had any other choice. My therapist actually found a Dual Enrollment program at my local community college. I would be able to go to that college and take classes for a year to fill up the rest of my high school requirements. Yet, the credits will also go towards a college degree. So, my first year of college killed two birds with one stone. I still graduated high school and got my diploma and I was already halfway done with my Associate’s degree.
I was able to stop being friends with that particular person. Which is kind of sad in a way because we were friends since third grade. But, looking back, she was even like that in elementary school. It was just something I never noticed.
I’ve learned a lot too. Everything I do now – the blogging, the writing, business, and marketing – it’s all stuff I taught myself through research and hands-on experience with trial and error. Maybe I should have gone to college for business or something of the like, but I’ve come so far myself. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished despite all I went through to get to this point.
It’s Still There
I still struggle with my anxiety on a day to day basis. Some days are definitely harder than others. It still affects my relationships. I have a hard time running errands sometimes. It actually took me a really long time to understand the anxiety myself. This post came out a lot different than I intended it to, but it still felt good to write.
Let me know your thoughts on this post in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.
He never saw it coming. His friends had dared him to swim out as far as he could. He was a good swimmer. Better than all of his friends. His parents had him take swimming lessons since he was two-years-old. He didn’t enjoy it very much as a kid, but he stuck with it. It wasn’t until he was much older that he really appreciated it.
It was a good thing he was there that day. The ice cream truck had come to the beach and he offered to get his friends each something. While he trekked through the sand, it stinging in between his toes and balancing frozen ice cream in his hands, he had heard his friends screaming.
He didn’t think anything of it though. His first instinct was that his friends were screaming for their ice cream. He assumed they had saw him coming and started cheering him on – or yelling at him to hurry up. He wasn’t too sure which one was it. The tone was hard to read from very far away.
Whenever he went to the beach with his friends they always camped right at the shoreline. It was always such a long walk through the desert sand to make it back to the showers, the shack, and the parking lot.
As he got closer though, he realized what his friends wanted from him. They wanted him to swim out as far as he could into the ocean.
They wanted him to do exactly what they had just dared their other friend to do who was having trouble swimming back.
There was a lifeguard already in the water for the rescue. He couldn’t stand by and watch his friend – and possibly a lifeguard – drown because of his friends’ stupidity.
Plus, he couldn’t say no to a challenge.
There was a huge wave on the horizon. He knew how to swim, not how to surf. He went out there anyway.
So, even though the lifeguard had brought back his friend, by the time he had a chance to go back out and get him… all that was left was the wave.
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A bought a paperback copy at Barnes & Noble.
Mystery lovers have descended on Pine Hills for this year’s book club competition, to be held at Krissy Hancock’s bookstore cafe. But the killer in their midst seems determined to outwit all the armchair sleuths and send Krissy to the remainder bin forever. Just before two dueling book clubs are set to square off at Death by Coffee, one of the competitors turns up dead bludgeoned with the silver teapot that was to serve as the prize. Suspicion immediately falls on Krissy, who was seen skulking around town in dark clothes on the night of the murder. To clear her name and find the real killer, Krissy turns to an old flame, Officer Paul Dalton. But even Paul can’t ignore the trail of evidence that seems to point in her direction. And with Krissy’s personal nemesis, Officer John Buchannan, working overtime to pin the murder on her, it will take an amazing feat of detective work to close the book for good on an elusive killer. . .
The cover is similar to the rest of the series. Trouble, the cat, is present as is the silver teapot, which connects closely to the plot as well as the title.
I enjoyed the first book of the series, so I went out and bought this one.
Krissy’s bookstore cafe, Death By Coffee, has picked up quite a bit to the point where she and her friend/co-owner can hire two new people to work at the store with them. That doesn’t mean their work hours are any shorter though… still, they don’t have to been there all day long.
I enjoyed the plot of this book a lot better than I did the first book. A man is killed with a silver teapot in Death By Coffee. Krissy is the main suspect. The plot itself held a lot of stakes and tensions were high, which made it great.
Krissy, on the other hand, did not make it great. I always enjoy cozy mysteries to have the main character be a suspect in the murder mystery at some point. It’s cliche, but fun to read about nonetheless. Krissy just kind of ruined it though. She was annoying in the first book, but I was able to tolerate her. Despite her being a murder suspect, she was ten times more annoying. She was trying to clear her name, of course, but she stole evidence, lied and told people she worked with the police, made a fool of herself and everyone around her… it just didn’t end with her. She got arrested a couple of times, but I don’t know why they let her out in the first place… she should still be in jail for tampering with a police murder investigation.
Another person who should be in jail is one of the officers, John. He harassed Krissy to no end. He either should have been locked up himself or at least taken off the case. I understand it’s a cozy mystery, it’s fiction. But there were too many unrealistic things going on in this one.
The supporting characters were great, especially the two new hires for Death By Coffee. I only wish we got to know them a little more.
Death By Tea is an easy and quick read at about 300 pages. Despite the annoyances, it is a page-turner. The mystery was a twister. I was able to guess who the culprit was before it was revealed, but it did take a while to get there.
Death By Tea was just an okay read to me. If the characters were a little more developed and had more common sense, it would have been more enjoyable.
Death By Tea (Bookstore Cafe Mystery 2) by Alex Erickson gets… 3 out of 5 cups
“My vocabulary suddenly took a break and left me sitting there like a dope, mouth opening and closing while I thought of something to say.” – Alex Erickson, Death By Tea (Bookstore Cafe Mystery 2)
So, I mentioned yesterday that the first draft is probably the easiest part of writing. I mean, it’s hard because the blank page can be mocking and it’s hard to even get started. But I think the first draft is the easiest part of the whole writing process for a few different reasons.
You’re Telling Yourself The Story
Who else is better to tell your story than you? Everyone has a story – fiction or nonfiction. Yes, it’s hard to get started, but once you do, the words can easily flow from the page. Being able to follow your imagination and letting your creativity go free is one of the easiest things you can do – as long as you allow yourself to let loose. Yes, we all get creative blocks, but those can be easily dealt with.
It’s Supposed To Suck
No one publishes their first draft. If they do, then it either didn’t sell well or they write like a God. So, allow yourself to write awful. Whatever ideas come to your mind, just write them down and use them. They may not stick, but at least you tried and new ideas may come from them. Ideas stem from other ideas, good or bad. When you allow yourself to write bad, the first draft can be so easy because your fingers just keep typing away at the keyboard.
I’d say don’t bother to edit or fix typos either, but… that bothers me too, so…
There Are No Rules
Whatever rules are in place, they were meant to be broken. Yes, there are rules to writing. Grammar is important. However, there are no rules to tell a story. Tell your story how you want. There will be people who tell you you’re doing it “wrong” or they don’t approve. In the end, it’s their opinion. You tell the story you want it be told… just, you know, make sure it makes sense.
Do you agree with me? Let me know in the comments below. If you enjoyed this post, please share it around!
The first draft is something everyone seems to dread. How do you start? How long will it take? The blank page can really take a toll on you and your creativity. But what exactly is the first draft? What does it mean? There’s a lot more to first drafts than we give them credit for.
What is the first draft?
It is, more or less, what it sounds like. It’s the very first draft of an idea. It’s out of your head and now it’s on paper. Except, a lot of people seem to think that the first draft is the hard part. And it is for some, but it all comes down to this: the first draft is just you telling yourself the story.
There’s no right or wrong. There’s no need to edit. There’s no need to get it all perfect the first time. Some elements of the first draft may stay, but most of it may get edited out later. You’re just beginning your journey, getting to know your characters, and getting a feel for your plot. As you write the first draft, you’ll get new ideas. You’ll find plot holes. You may realize one character has a larger purpose than you originally intended.
Do I have to write a first draft?
Uh, yeah? I mean, if you don’t write a first draft, then you’ll never start. Unless you’re a master procrastinator and don’t want to start, then no. Don’t bother writing that first draft.
Does the first draft have to be complete?
No, I don’t think so. I have a few novels on their x-amount of drafts and there are a few of them where the first draft isn’t complete. It definitely helps if the first draft is completed so you have a well thought out plot or novel. Even if it’s all gibberish. However, I sometimes don’t have the inspiration to finish the first draft. By the time I get to the end or even sometimes the middle, the characters are so vastly different and my ideas for the plot no longer make sense with what I originally started off with. So, I leave the first draft as is and start on my second draft without even bothering to edit. It’s like draft 1.5.
The first draft is the best draft.
Why? Because it helps you get started. And I think we all know that getting started is the hardest step of anything.
What do first drafts mean to you? Let me know in the comments below. If you enjoyed this post, please share it around!