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Guest Post: 5 Tips to Keep Writing Through Difficult Times

Image from Pixabay

By Rachel Weatherley

“Unbroken happiness is a bore: life should have ups and downs,” notes Richard, one of the protagonists of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun. Paraphrasing Molière here, Richard is a writer working in 1960s Nigeria, frustrated by his inability to finish a manuscript during a time of major social upheaval. Faced with COVID-19 and its accompanying challenges, reading this passage reminded me that we should at least try to maintain some optimism at this time. Difficult times are an enduring feature of life, which we must embrace and adapt to the best we can.

Of course, this is no mean feat. In times of unprecedented personal and collective difficulty, turning away from the world to start writing a book can feel insular and indulgent. Even with the best intentions, adapting to new challenges, and keeping on top of day-to-day life, can distract us from the writing projects we would otherwise love to focus on. 

Preventing that temporary distraction from turning into long-term disillusionment is a task in itself—I hope the following tips can keep you engaged, focused and productive!

1. Reorganise and refresh your work space

As cafes and libraries close their doors, and I find myself staring at the same blank wall every day, Janet Jackson’s lyrics ring ever truer—you really don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone. This new monotony hasn’t exactly been conducive to getting words on the page—but it did get me thinking about how I could adapt my environment to make it a more inspiring and energising workspace. 

Perhaps counterintuitively, I need a workplace with distraction. In my university room, I had a busy and colorful wall covered in all sorts of adornments: postcards, letters, photographs and posters—the more eclectic the better. This wall was the next best thing to a change of scenery: it reminded me of happier times, took me to faraway places, and often served as inspiration when I was stuck for ideas.

2. Consider work that will aid your writing 

Every writer worth their salt knows that a significant amount of research and thinking time goes into producing the shiny finished product. So if you’re suffering from a case of writer’s block, you can still make productive use of your time with the following tips:

• Scour blogs like Reddit, home to thousands of illuminating threads where people share anecdotes, experiences, feelings and opinions, ranging from the poignant to the hilarious.

• Call a friend and ask if they have any opinions or feelings about a certain subject. You could even work together and bounce ideas off each other.

• Watch documentaries and video clips that pad out the factual details and context of your work.

This will provide some respite from typing, and maybe even a spark of inspiration for the next stage of your story. Inspiration is found in the most unexpected of places—so get creative with your free time!

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Posted in A Writer's Life, Celebrating the Journey Of, Reedsy, writer, writing, writing journey

Celebrating The Journey Of Rachel Weatherley (Writer)

I love supporting people in their journeys, especially writers. Today I would like to introduce Rachel Weatherly a writer for the amazing website Reedsy known for their support of authors looking to refine and publish their works. So please join me in this post as we celebrate the writing and life journey of Rachel.

Tell us a little bit about your journey as a writer? What inspired you to take this journey?

I haven’t been writing for that long––I properly started writing in university. I have a book review Instagram page, where I have written smaller reviews, mainly for my friends. After that, I decided I liked writing criticism and wrote for my university newspaper. However, my love of writing fiction really stemmed from when I started reading short story collections a few summers ago.

What do you like the most about what you do?

I enjoy having a creative outlet that is flexible to my current moods, interests, and desires. I also like using writing as a means to take popular culture and creativity more seriously––especially forms of culture that traditionally get written off as ‘feminine’ (and by that mark, non-serious).

What sort of writing do you do?

I am currently a writer for Reedsy, which allows me to write all sorts of interesting things. The writing I have done up until now has been mainly journalistic––I love reading and writing reviews of books, but I have also reviewed films and albums too. I majored in sociology and politics major, so I love a bit of critical analysis! I am also a hobbyist short story writer. They haven’t yet seen the light of day, but I like turning my life experiences into neater, fictional vignettes, à la my favourite short story writer, Lucia Berlin. 

Do you have any current projects (or goals) you are working on you would like to tell us more about?

I’m trying to learn Italian at the moment. I was reading about Ann Goldstein, the New Yorker journalist who translated Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Quartet. She started learning Italian when she was in her late twenties, and then landed this incredible job. After the pandemic I would like to live in Italy and develop my proficiency in the language––and perhaps start using it professionally––who knows!

Is there anything else that you have learned or discovered on your journey that you would like to share (or give others advice about)?

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Posted in A Writer's Life, better life, better writing, creativity, inspiration, The Writer's Toolbox, writing, writing better

A New Way of Writing: The Magic of Inspired Action

image form Pixabay

Have you ever been here? You look at your desk, and it’s piled high with unfinished projects. You also have a notebook of projects ideas you haven’t even started, but really want to. But the frustration eating at you to complete something doesn’t really give you freedom to tackle… One. More. Thing. *heavy sigh*

That’s how I used to be, until recently. Not that long ago, I realized something. I realized I had other loves other than writing. And that I worked better when I wasn’t solely focused just on writing. Instead of being stuck with one project, and only that project until it was completed, I began to mix things up.

One day, I’d work on book cover art. Another day, I might edit. And maybe a few days, I’d actually sit down to write. Some days, I even managed to do a little of everything. It’s a far cry from the old days.

I remember the days when I would work on my novel Blood Feud for weeks, months at a time, and I would not allow myself to do anything else. If I was writing, that was what I would work on, even if I didn’t feel like it. I eventually finished the book by sheer will alone, but I was exhausted and completely burned myself out of writing for a long time. Getting that book completed and published was not worth the price I paid.

Now, many writers say that’s how you get novels written. You put your butt in the seat, and you write, even if you don’t feel like it. And yes, eventually the faucet does turn on, but it feels like pulling teeth to get there. It’s damn uncomfortable, and for me, not productive considering how much time I spent just trying get myself in the mindset to write.

I have found a better way. It’s by working through inspired action. I don’t act, until I feel inspired to act. In working this way, my productivity has sky rocketed.

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Posted in Blood Feud, Emperors of Ethia, Other Writing Stuff, The Writer's Toolbox, the writing journey, the writing process, write, writing

My NOT Marketing Plan

I know I’m not the only one who can claim to have a very busy life. Everyone is busy these days. No one has time for any extras, and it’s just plan impossible to squeeze in time for things you really, really don’t want to do. I wear many hats as a wife, mom, homeschool teacher, friend, Reiki healer, writer, sometimes employee, and a very sometimes blogger. Lately, I’ve added another job as packer and mover with our family’s relocation to Florida in the next few weeks. I really don’t have time for anything extra, especially for something I don’t want to do and something that’s most assuredly going to add more stress to an already stress-filled life.

If you’ve been keeping up with my blog, you know I recently published my first novel last month. Most writers would be marketing their little hearts out and plastering the internet and anything else they can think of to get the word out about their new book! And why shouldn’t they? It was hard work and it’s time to reap the benefits. But I’m not like most people, I already got the “benefit” out of writing my book. I finished a really hard and tough project (well the first book of it anyways) and damn if that didn’t feel freaking awesome! If I actually sell some copies here and there… bonus!

But I did not become a writer to make money, and I do not and will not get to a point where I rely on book sales to supplement my income (that’s what my hard working husband is for–– love you Hun!). If I need money, I’ll find some other way to acquire it. That being said, it would be really, super awesome to at least earn back my investment in self-publishing my book, and I certainly appreciate anyone who has helped and will help to contribute to that goal!

I know there are a lot of hard working writers out there who do rely on writing as an income and my hat is off to them, but partway through my writing “career” I realized that’s not for me. I can’t write that way. I have to be one hundred percent free to be me when it comes to my writing and that means not limiting myself in anyway or stressing myself out over something I don’t want to do. And marketing is something I most certainly do not want to do.

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Posted in A Writer's Life, creative writing, focused freewriting, free writing, freewriting, the creative process, The Writer's Toolbox, the writing journey, the writing process, writing

Journaling Series Part 3: How to Stick With Journaling?

The content in this journaling series is from what I shared with my recent in-person journaling class. My original idea was to try and create an online class, but ultimately decided to create a blog series in which to freely share this information.

Last week we talked about What is Journaling? The week before we talked about Why Journaling is Important? Now let’s finish up with ways to keep inspired and to keep journaling.

Ways to Stay Inspired

We all know how hard it can be to stick with something, but it helps if we can get some inspiration here and there. Here are some great places to help inspire your writing!

Continue reading “Journaling Series Part 3: How to Stick With Journaling?”