Prepping for a Disney World visit!

A5DA5C88-755B-42AE-904F-A66CCA26B498As you might know by now, I absolutely love Disney World. I maintain that getting an Annual Pass earlier this year was one of the best decisions I’ve made since moving to Orlando. No matter how many times I visit one of the four main parks, I always find something new and exciting. Whether you’re an Annual Passholder like me, or somebody visiting a park for the first time, I thought I’d offer some tips on prepping for the big day.

#1 Download the Disney World app. Like, right now.

This app is an absolute game-changer. Not only can you view wait times for rides and showtimes, but you can reserve dining, book FastPasses, view annual pass blockout dates, and order food from park restaurants. It’s a necessity.

#2 Get FastPasses!  

It’s not a secret that wait times for Disney rides can get pretty long, so if you have certain rides in mind that you really want to ride, book a FastPass. You can do it directly through the app! I’d recommend doing this as far in advance as possible, as your options will be limited the day of. Keep in mind that for most Passholders, you can only book passes in one park per day. For example, if you get a FastPass for Space Mountain in Magic Kingdom, you can’t get one for Avatar Flight of Passage in Animal Kingdom on the same day. Good to know for park hoppers!

#3 Going to Magic Kingdom? Wait.

Magic Kingdom is my favorite Disney park for so many reasons, but let’s be real. It gets crazy with crowds and wait times. My tip for visiting this iconic park is to wait and go later in the day. Out of the four main parks, it’s the one open the latest (typically closing between 10 p.m. and midnight, depending on the day), so you still have plenty of time to enjoy the sights and rides if you head over in the early afternoon. At this point, you’ll have surpassed the hottest part of the day, lighting will be better for photos, and you’ll be inclined to stick around for the magical firework show since you just got there!

Not a fan of fireworks? Hit up some rides! The wait times plummet during the show, and it’s always cool to be on a roller coaster with fireworks painting the sky.

#4 Remember your parking spot!

As the Disney team members like to remind eager guests on the tram, Disney World has 15,000 parking spots. Usually, my husband will text our row number to me so we don’t forget (ex: Rapunzel 237). If you do it as soon as you park, you’ll have no stress trying to remember it when it comes time to head home.

#5 Pack your Mickey or Minnie ears!

Enough said. 🙂

 

Thanks for reading, and I hope you get to the Happiest Place on Earth soon!

XO,
Elizabeth

 

 

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

What happens after you’ve written a book

C0DAB403-AF1F-4A58-B55E-8E3D1A490012It’s both a satisfying and sad feeling. You’ve been at it for months, spending nights and weekends in front of tiny laptop screen passionately punching out the words to your story.

After weeks and weeks of outlining, drafting, revisions, character development, bouts of writer’s block, doubt, chocolate splurges and excitement beyond anything you’ve ever felt, you’ve reached those two words.

The End.

When I finished writing my first book, THE PANACEA, I cried. The ending was emotional in and of itself, but I couldn’t grasp that this project I’d spent a year of my life on was over. At least for now. The story was complete at 50,000 words, and I was proud of it.

I finished my book in July of this year, for real. I say that because I’d thought I’d finished it in December 2017. I’d reached the ending I’d always envisioned for this story, but it still felt lacking. It was only until a literary agent suggested I make it a little longer that I realized I had more work to do.

Now that I’ve finished my manuscript, people have asked me how publishing works, or what I’m going to do now. While I don’t have the expert’s grasp on the former part of that question, I can share how I approached it.

You can certainly self-publish, as a lot of writers do, however I’m trying for the traditional route. Check out what happens post-ending below.

Let it be

When I finished my book, I immediately wanted to head straight back to chapter one and begin editing. I don’t recommend this. Instead, step away from it. Let it sit for a month. Don’t look at it. Then, when you are ready to edit, you’ll have fresh eyes.

Proofread and poke holes

Now that you’ve let your book sit, you feel it’s time to start editing. It goes without saying that a writer should do a thorough job of proofreading and grammatical/spelling /mechanical editing. But there’s an entirely different kind of editing that’s crucial – developmental editing. This is the poke-holes editing. For me, I liked to interrogate my own writing.

Why did so-and-so do this? Didn’t you describe this differently a couple of chapters ago? How can x happen if y is happening?

It seems annoying at first to grill yourself with so many questions, but this will really help you spot inconsistencies and plot holes in your story. After all, if you don’t spot it, your readers will.

In short, revise.

Beta readers and critique partners

Once you’ve self-edited, it’s a good idea to find yourself some beta readers, or people who will give feedback on your book. These aren’t your friends, or family, or basically anyone who has an emotional connection with you. Why? They won’t be honest.

Finding good beta readers and critique partners is a fantastic step. They’ll help you improve your story and may spot things your eyes glazed over. I’d recommend anywhere between four and eight. Take their comments and feedback with a grain of salt, though. Remember that’s it’s your story. If they make a suggestion that doesn’t feel right, trust your gut.

Find a great editor

This step isn’t free, but having a great editor will help polish the manuscript and get it ready for my next step. Determine what you want to hire the editor for: is it grammar/spelling/mechanics? Or is it developmental editing? Or is it both? Both will be greatly beneficial.

Query literary agents

This step is the step I’ve been on for eight months now – and that’s not uncommon. Since I’m pursuing traditional publishing, I’m querying literary agents in the hopes that one will want to represent me. Having an agent is extremely advantageous to a writer, and they’re often referred to as “your first friend in the publishing world.” Nowadays, most publishers will not accept submissions unless they come from an agent.

A query is basically a short and sweet email pitch explaining the premise, conflict, and stakes of your book. Agents will often ask for a writing sample to accompany the pitch, which can be anything from the first ten pages to the first three chapters. Important note: A writer should not query an agent for a work of fiction unless the manuscript is finished and polished. Additionally, a genuine agent never asks for money up front. They only get paid if your book sells.

This is where getting cozy with rejection comes in. In the almost year of querying, I’ve received 50+ rejections, one full manuscript request (passed), and one partial (still out for submission). But I’m still going.

Start writing the next book

The truth of the matter is that it’s rare for a writer to get an agent on their first manuscript. Should that be discouraging? No. It means a writer should get to work on their next project – which I’m happy to say I’m doing right now, and it’s completely different from my first one. Not only will you have something to distract you from awaiting agent replies (which can be months after you’ve submitted), but you’ll keep honing your writing. If your first one doesn’t cut it, maybe this next one will.

And that’s all for now! If you want to check out what my next manuscript is all about, please visit the fiction page.

Thanks for reading!

XO,
Elizabeth