Staying motivated in writing – when it seems impossible

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I have a confession to make: I don’t want to work on my book. It’s not that I don’t want to write – I love writing. It’s my absolute passion and calling. And it’s not that I don’t like my book idea and my current work in progress. But, I’m in the dreaded I-could-write-and-it’s-not-writer’s-block-but-I-can’t-bring-myself-to-do-anything.

So what do you do when you hit this wall? I’m still trying to work it out. But, hopefully, the first step to moving past it is recognizing it!

Here are some steps I’m taking to get back into the groove.

  1. Recognize your feelings. Acknowledge that you’re in a slump, that it’s going to be okay, and that you will move past it.
  2. Don’t beat yourself up. While writing every day would be fantastic, unfortunately it’s not always realistic. Sometimes, it just doesn’t flow. It’s okay.
  3. Try to pinpoint why it’s happening. Are you struggling with a plot point? Querying another project and feeling discouraged? Or, maybe you’re just dealing with a lot of other stuff in your life. Don’t fret about it – prioritize and find where you can make time to write. If you’re struggling with the book itself, take some time away to brainstorm.
  4. Start small. Ease yourself back into your WIP. For me, I always strive to hit 1,000 words per session. Sometimes, I think this very goal gets in my own way. If you inch back into your story – even if it’s only 100 words – it’ll help get you back in the swing of things. Plus, you’ll be writing again!
  5. Understand that it happens to everyone. Remembering that you aren’t alone, and that everyone feels unmotivated and discouraged at times, can really help you get past your dry spell.

I’ll admit – I find this feeling even more sinking than writer’s block. So while I did come up with the above, I also asked my Twitter followers for their advice. Here’s what some of them said:

Sometimes I’ll work on another WIP, or a side project related to the WIP, like a scene that helps me understand a character or is just for fun even if I have no intention of including it in the WIP. – @ashleydhansen12

What I do is sometimes I just need to force myself to write, so I’ll write a couple sentences and see how I feel or I reread the last chapter to get back into it. Or, I go to the last spot I enjoyed writing and work from there. – @ImBrittanyEvans

I change it up. Write somewhere new, like a lunch spot. Write longhand. Brainstorm with a friend even if they don’t have a clue about your book. Just explaining stuff kick-starts the ole brain. – @AbbeyKirberger

But the most consistent piece of advice I received? Don’t give up, and keep working on your book anyway.

I would have to agree.

Do you have go-to practices to spark your motivation? Drop them in the comments!

XO,
Elizabeth

WHAT I READ THIS MONTH: One of Us is Lying

unnamedHi everyone! Wow, it’s been an absolutely insane month. I’ll admit I haven’t been making writing a top priority, but I’m chalking it up to a lot of personal stuff that went on the past few weeks. However, I’ve still kept up my reading! February’s book is ONE OF US IS LYING by Karen M. McManus, and I have to say, I LOVED IT. Before I get into specifics, here’s the official overview from McManus’ website:

Pay close attention and you might solve this:

On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention:
 

  • Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule

  • Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess

  • Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing

  • Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher

  • And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s
    notorious gossip app

 
Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom alive. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. He died on a Monday. But that Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates. Now, all four of them are suspects in his murder. Are they guilty? Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?
 
They all have a motive. They all have something to hide. They all have a history with Simon. And one of them is definitely lying.

Whoa. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a huge fan of young adult fiction. Not saying I don’t like it – it’s just usually not my first choice. But, a lot of people who know me know that I love Gossip Girl, so naturally this premise clicked with me from the start and I had to pick it up. Many people have described it as GG or Pretty Little Liars meets The Breakfast Club, which in and of itself makes it a must-read. So, grab your backpack and cell phone – we’re going back to school.

First, let’s talk about how seamlessly McManus executes the multiple point-of-view writing. We get glances into the minds of the four remaining students – Bronwyn, Cooper, Addy and Nate – but it never feels confusing. This is a super difficult thing to pull off, but McManus does it. She writes them differently enough so that you can tell which character’s mind you’re in, but not too much so that it become distracting from the plot. Well done. I enjoyed getting to view the story unfold through the different perspectives.

I also loved her voice. Her writing style was rich in detail, but also kept the story moving and didn’t ever feel stifling or self-indulgent. Like I’ve mentioned before, I’m a plot girl, so I like when writers keep things moving with a strong premise. I also love mystery and thrillers, and I’ll admit, even with my lofty consumption of thrillers and determination to solve it for myself, I didn’t see this ending coming. Without giving too much away, it was an interesting concept, and the motivation behind the killer was timely in a dark and painfully real way.

In addition to an unforeseen ending, we also learn deep secrets about the four main characters themselves. As each one unfolds, we realize the murderer could be any of them – and that’s what makes it so gripping. I kept going back and forth on who could’ve done it – but when I ultimately learned the truth, and why the killer did it, I was pretty shocked.

All in all, if you love mystery, suspense, dark secrets and high school drama, pick up ONE OF US IS LYING. You won’t regret it.

Buy the book here:

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Indie Bound

Know a book that I should read next? Let me know in the comments!

 

WHAT I READ THIS MONTH: Hunting Annabelle

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Hi everyone! Thanks for bearing with me – it’s been a busy last few weeks, but I’m back on the blog. This week, I’ve got the January edition of WHAT I READ THIS MONTH! My January book was adult psych thriller HUNTING ANNABELLE by debut author Wendy Heard. I’m so excited to dive into this with you, because I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

Also, if you haven’t seen – I’m now on YouTube! Catch me here in a video review of the book and subscribe for future book/writing/life content.

All right, here’s an overview of HUNTING ANNABELLE from Heard’s website:

Sean Suh is done with killing. After serving three years in a psychiatric prison, he’s determined to stay away from temptation. But he can’t resist Annabelle—beautiful, confident, incandescent Annabelle—who alone can see past the monster to the man inside. The man he’s desperately trying to be.

Then Annabelle disappears.

Sean is sure she’s been kidnapped—he witnessed her being taken firsthand—but the police are convinced that Sean himself is at the center of this crime. And he must admit, his illness has caused him to “lose time” before. What if there’s more to what happened than he’s able to remember?

Though haunted by the fear that it might be better for Annabelle if he never finds her, Sean can’t bring himself to let go of her without a fight. To save her, he’ll have to do more than confront his own demons… He’ll have to let them loose.

First off – wow. Personally, thrillers are my favorite genre of literature, particularly psych thrillers. This premise struck me as so original, while at the same time masterfully tying in inspiration from real-life serial killers. Not only that, but the twist at the end had me yelping. Sean, our narrator, is unreliable to say in the least and certainly serves as a red herring in himself. I thought, like the police and basically every other character in the book, that Sean would end up being responsible for Annabelle’s disappearance. Without spoiling anything, I’ll just say this – don’t be so sure of whatever you’re thinking. Heard has a big trick up her sleeve with this one.

If you’re like me, you enjoy a more plot-driven story that has you gripped from the first page. Not only does Heard accomplish this, but she also develops rich characters with whom a reader can make a connection. At times, I felt sympathetic toward Sean, even though he’s a troubled man with a murderous past. Heard wonderfully shows his complicated relationship with an overbearing mother, and that dynamic in and of itself made the book fascinating to consume. At times you feel bad for Sean – he’s in love and desperately trying to find this woman with whom he found a real connection. But his honest confessions of feeling violent toward women pull you back into reality. And that truth is that Sean can’t be trusted.

And even he knows that. Several times, he questions if in fact he is responsible. And isn’t that the scariest part of all? Feeling like your reality may not be real at all? Whoa.

On top of this, Heard’s beautiful use of language makes her debut novel a triple threat. Not only is her plot strong and her characters developed and complex, but her voice is compelling. She writes in tight, succinct sentences that pack a punch. She doesn’t bore you with useless detail – everything she writes and describes has a reason. As someone with a journalism background, I always appreciate encountering that in literature.

All in all, I highly recommend you pick up a copy of HUNTING ANNABELLE. It’ll take you on a roller coaster you’ll never want to get off.

Buy HUNTING ANNABELLE:

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Apple Books

Looking back & ahead: New Year’s resolutions

 

I love the idea of a fresh start. The notion of reinvention and rebirth is fascinating and inspiring, and it’s something I think about often. That’s one of the reasons I love this time of year. Like most people, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting as the year draws to a close. Things I accomplished, things I learned, things I’m proud of, and things I could do better in the new year.

Here, I want to explore some of those and share what I’m aspiring to do in 2019.

2018 in review

What I’m proud of…

  • Finished writing my first book
  • Had my manuscript requested by agents
  • Launched my blog (woohoo!)
  • Transitioned my Instagram to a business account, focusing on Disney content
  • Completely revamped my mindset
  • Found joy in simple things
  • Started writing my second book

Lessons…

  • Happiness starts with the internal – not external. It’s on you.
  • Don’t let negative opinions dim your shine.
  • It’s scary to put yourself out there, but it’s so worth it.
  • Toxicity and negativity have no place here anymore.

Looking to 2019 

Goals…

  • Maintain a healthier lifestyle
  • Finish and revise my second book
  • Read two books a month
  • Buy more pink clothes
  • Keep a positive mindset

In short, my rule for 2019 can be summed up in three words: Good. Vibes. Only. As great as those external resolutions are (being healthy, financial responsibility, etc.), for me, the most important goals have to do with cultivating a good attitude. It’s not always easy, but it is always worth it. For me, it’s been life-changing.

And lastly, I want to say Happy New Year to those who follow and read my blog. I really appreciate it, and I look forward to awesome things coming in 2019!

Have your own goals and resolutions for the new year? Drop them in the comments below!

Happy New Year!

Elizabeth

 

 

WHAT I READ THIS MONTH: THE LIGHT BETWEEN WORLDS

6A03B323-E63B-49F0-9E3A-3BEA2B6B15B1Hi guys! Welcome to the first installment of my new book review series, WHAT I READ THIS MONTH. I plan to publish these monthly, and I’m so thrilled that the first book I’m reviewing is THE LIGHT BETWEEN WORLDS by Laura E. Weymouth. This young adult fantasy just recently hit shelves in October and is sure to sweep you away and make you feel all the feelings this winter. I suggest cozying up with some tea by the fire (I live in Florida, so I pretended) and diving into this story. Let’s get into it.

From Weymouth’s website, here’s an overview:

Five years ago, Evelyn and Philippa Hapwell cowered from air strikes in a London bomb shelter. But that night took a turn when the sisters were transported to another realm called the Woodlands. In a forest kingdom populated by creatures out of myth and legend, they found temporary refuge.

When Ev and Phil finally returned to London, nothing had changed at all—nothing, except themselves.

Now, Evelyn spends her days sneaking into the woods outside her boarding school, wishing for the Woodlands. Overcome with longing, she is desperate to return no matter what it takes.

Philippa, on the other hand, is determined to find a place in this world. She shields herself behind a flawless exterior and countless friends, and moves to America to escape the memory of what was.

But when Evelyn goes missing, Philippa must confront the depth of her sister’s despair and the painful truths they’ve been running from. As the weeks unfold, Philippa wonders if Ev truly did find a way home, or if the weight of their worlds pulled her under.

This story has all the elements I absolutely love and appreciate. It centers on family and the very real, agonizing feeling of being caught between two places. Something I particularly loved about this book was that it didn’t dwell too much on world-building or keeping the reader preoccupied with the details of the otherworldly creatures of the Woodlands or magic or anything you typically think of when you think portal fantasy.  The exterior, fantastical setting is great and grand – but this book focused on the people.

And that’s what sets it apart.

Weymouth expertly seesaws between the present in the known world and the past in the Woodlands. This very premise struck me as something so original –  we often read stories of people who are magically transported to another world and must complete some sort of high-stakes quest (guilty – that’s what my first book is, basically). We rarely hear about how these adventurers are when they come home, and if they’re okay. And if you’re going by the Hapwells, they’ve very much not okay.

What struck to the core was Evelyn Hapwell, the true light between worlds. She knew beyond doubt where she truly belonged, and that was her curse. So many people, be it in careers or relationships, can feel in their bones what they should do, but may not be willing to take the risk. There’s the safe way that might, maybe make you happy, and there’s the hard way that will require tough choices but just might pay off. Evelyn knew what her decision had to be.

Evelyn is not always likable. She’s stubborn, she wanders, and she refuses to hear sensible sentiments. But, she has hope. For someone who feels so caged, so entrapped by the dark, menacing real world, she makes her own light and clings to the belief that she’ll someday return to the Woodlands.

Besides having a hauntingly beautiful story and complex characters, Weymouth’s writing is breathtaking and gorgeous. She doesn’t overwhelm you with flowery language or exhausting, long chapters. Instead, she brilliantly balances vivid description with sharp, concise prose. Be warned: you’ll leave a piece of your heart within the pages.

All in all, I highly recommend you give this book a read. Content warnings can be found here.

And stay tuned for January’s book review! Hint: Psych. Thriller.

Buy THE LIGHT BETWEEN WORLDS here:

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Books-A-Million
IndieBound

 

Tips for beating writer’s block

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“Writing about a writer’s block is better than not writing at all.”
Charles Bukowski

It’s scarier than a Stephen King novel. It’s more intimidating than a CEO.

It’s an ocean of the unknown.

It’s a blank page.

Writer’s block can hit anyone. Whether you’re a content creator, professional writer, or just trying to draft an email, it doesn’t discriminate. In fact, it seems every writer hits a wall at some point (or, if you’re like me, many). It can be disheartening and discouraging. It can be. It doesn’t have to.

Feeling your creative juices dry up is rough stuff. In fact, I feel like I’m experiencing writer’s block right now, since my work in progress hasn’t been touched in days. But, there are ways you can get yourself back in the groove. Here, I’d like to show you some tips that have worked for me in the past so I could get back to writing.

Step away from the page

Sometimes, we’ve been staring at the page or screen for too long. It helps to break away. Whether it’s taking a walk to clear your mind, listening to music, or, my favorite, shopping, doing something that takes you out of the mindset can give you a fresh look.

Talk it out

For me, this especially helps if I’m trying to develop a plot, or if I just don’t know what comes next. I will literally sit at my desk and talk through it. Alone. Is that weird? IDK. It works. As a fiction writer, this helps bring characters to life. It takes them off the page, and I’m able to really craft what will happen next in my book. If I can follow them, I can finish my manuscript.

Brainstorm

Keeping to proper sentences and paragraphs can run you into a wall sometimes. When this happens to me, I like to take a physical pen and paper and just jot down words. Sometimes, I’ll even (badly) draw maps or things related to my writing, since it truly does help you think of your work in progress in a different way.

Read

It’s a common sentiment among great writers that to be a great writer, you need to do two things. Write and read. If you’re having trouble with the former, lose yourself in a good book. I’ve found that reading books while in the midst of a word drought helps rejuvenate my creativity.

Don’t stop writing

Lastly, don’t use writer’s block as an excuse to stop writing! We’ve all been there. But it will definitely claim victory over you if you decide to wait until inspiration hits. Keep it moving.

And that’s it! Thanks for reading, and feel free to comment below if you have any other tips for beating the dreaded writer’s block!

XO,
Elizabeth

24 things I’ve learned in 24 years

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One thing I can tell you is you’ve got to be free.
– Come Together, The Beatles

Today is my 24th birthday! While I’ll be spending it at a Disney park and eating a boatload of chocolate (shocking!), I also wanted to take this chance to commemorate the last year I can call my early twenties (eek!) with some writing! I’ve compiled a list of lessons I’ve learned over the years – specifically in the past year, as there were a lot of lessons – to share. I still have to remind myself sometimes to take my own advice, and it’s not always easy seeing the bright side, but hopefully this serves as an inspiration.

  1. Change will come. Embrace it.
  2. You always have a choice.
  3. It’s a tough world out there. Cherish the ones you love, and make them a priority.
  4. Your health and happiness are the most important.
  5. Find joy in the simple things.
  6. No, you’re never too old for Disney.
  7. Try to see the positive, even when it’s the hard thing to do.
  8. Say what you need to say. (Stole that from John Mayer, but it’s so true.)
  9. Be honest with yourself and others.
  10. Letting go is hard, but sometimes it’s necessary.
  11. Good communication solves a lot of problems.
  12. Pursue your passions.
  13. Don’t be so concerned with other people’s opinions.
  14. A new attitude can change everything.
  15. Surround yourself with uplifting people and things.
  16. Give the benefit of the doubt – to an extent.
  17. Don’t give up.
  18. Have good posture. It does more than you think.
  19. It’s totally OK to re-watch The Office for the fiftieth time.
  20. Happiness is a work in progress.
  21. If you don’t have confidence in yourself, no one else will.
  22. Everything turns out fine in the end.
  23. Cuddle your cat as much as you can.
  24. Be excited for the next chapter.

That’s it! Thanks so much for being here, and I can’t wait to share even more things I’ll learn being 24. If you have your own personal lessons and inspo, I’d love to hear them! Feel free to comment or email me.

Now I’m going to put on my Minnie ears and eat too many fries.

XO,
Elizabeth