How to Save Money When Starting a Business

Your easy guide to saving money through free resources and conscious thinking

Before I get into this blog post about saving money when starting a business, I wanted to announce that I now have a Patreon! If you like my blog posts and want to support me, it would mean so much 🙂

You can check out my Patreon HERE

How do you save money when starting a business? Isn’t it expensive? What if I don’t have much money to spare and put towards my business?

If any of these questions crossed your mind, don’t worry! You don’t need buckets of money to start any business. Sure, having some is needed and how much really depends on what type of business you are starting. However, I have created this guide to help you save money where you can.

This guide is for anyone who is thinking about starting a business, is in the midst of planning their business, and those who already have a business.

Here are 3 tips on how to save money when starting a business.

1. Write Out an Expenses List

You must write out a list of all possible expenses when starting a business. If you don’t know what you have to spend money on, how can you save any? Include everything from domain hosting costs to shipping. These are things that you will most likely not be able to get out of paying, or find a free alternative. But knowing how much money you will need will give you a good idea of how much to save before launching your business or continuing on with it.

Have a number in your head of how much your first month and first year might cost you. This way, you will know how much you need to make back for this to all be worth it.

2. Connect with other Business People

Connecting with other likeminded business people will not only help you create relationships that can benefit your business and theirs, but it can save you money. These are people who are going through what you are, or have. Maybe they have already launched a business or two and have valuable tips and pieces of advice that could save you time and money. It is really worth scrolling through Instagram, finding people who are in a similar field as you, and then reaching out to them with a friendly message. Compliment them on their progress and explain your story.

If you are having trouble making meaningful connections, YouTube is a great resource…and it’s free! So many YouTubers who have started business are on there, posting videos of the Do’s and Don’t’s when starting a business and how to avoid this and that. Here are my recommendations:

3. Do It Yourself!

Do as much of the start-up, planning, and creation yourself (if you can). If you have to create a website, take the time to watch YouTube videos or reach out to friends who can help. Don’t spend money on ads until you are financially able to, instead, focus on being active on social media because it will be way more effective!

Don’t buy anything you don’t NEED right at the moment either. If you don’t need a business plan on your website right away, or don’t need a premium MailChimp plan till later on, hold off until as long as possible. By the time you really need them, hopefully, you have saved up more money and it is easier to fork out!

Basically, be cheap!

12 FREE resources that will save you SO much money.

Design

Canva – This is a great beginner design tool that offers you so much for free. I highly recommend Canva because you can create images specifically for blog headers, Pinterest pins, Instagram stories, and more

PicMonkey – I used to use PicMonkey and I still think it is a great resource! I know it is good for making YouTube thumbnails, so a good tool for any YouTubers out there too

Courses

Coursera – I paid a lot of money for a membership but that is because there were a lot of specializations I wanted to experience that I can’t at my university. However, there are so many amazing free classes and you can audit any class for FREE

Pivot, Passion, Profit Workshop – I am an intern for Gypsy Journals who created this lovely workbook and playback for any creative entrepreneurs looking to thrive in their passions. I highly encourage you to take a look and explore her other courses with Ouiwegirl.com too!

Social Media Organization

HootSuite – This is a social media post scheduler and with their free plan, you can connect 3 social media accounts and post 30 posts a month. That is good enough for me, and it is super easy to set up and use

Later – Another social media planner that I used to use, but switched to Hootsuite just because it was more of what I needed. However, the layout of Later is great and is super helpful overall

Email

MailChimp – MailChimp is SO easy to use and the free plan is so far, all I need. When starting out, building a email following is essential for any business and including a newsletter will help to grow that. Which is why I use this handy tool

SEO & Writing

Google Keyword Planning – helps you find keywords that are popular and will lead people to your website/posts

Nibbler – gives you a popularity and effectiveness report on whatever website you enter

Grammarly – if you are writing lots, you have to have Grammarly. Especially if you are doing all the writing yourself! Grammarly ensures your writing is grammatically correct and consistent

Invoices

Invoicely – A free invoicing tool for small businesses and not to mention, it is simple to use! With invoicing, I look for simplicity which is why I like Invoicely

PayPal – I love PayPal and sometimes use it depending on the client, however, its free plan isn’t the best for businesses. It is still good to have free account with them though

When starting a business, it is important to be thorough, conscious, and critical. Not all businesses make their money back right away and you need to keep that in mind. That is why when starting a business, it is good to keep your expenses to a minimum until you are seeing progress.

When you finally start making money back, that is when you can spend it on premium plans and tools that will make your life easier. However, until then, the free options are here for you and honestly, they are pretty great!


I hope you found this post helpful and that it will save you money in the future. If you have any other free tools and resources, drop them in the comments below please!

And don’t forget to check out my last blog post as well as my social media accounts which are all linked down below. Thanks for reading 🙂

Last Blog Post: July Writing Goals

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How I Organize My Content

How I plan and organize my content to maximize my productivity and time.

Happy Monday!

To start this week off on a productive note, I wanted to share with you all how I organize my content and ensure I am creating and posting all the fun things. Planning and organizing my content is something I started doing in May and with all my projects and various platforms I post content to, I found it was essential step to keeping my sanity.

For a long time, I thought I didn’t need to write anything down because I would remember all my ideas and their due dates. However, that is not the case! The more you are doing every day, the less space you have in your head to store all your daily and weekly tasks. That is why writing everything down in a list or on a calendar is SO important and critical to your success as a content creator. Once I began writing down my content and organizing it, I became obsessed with lists and notebooks and now I cannot live without them.

There are a couple of techniques and strategies I use to organize my content each month so let’s get into them!

TIP #1: STICK TO ORGANIZING YOUR CONTENT IN ONE PLACE – MY CONTENT PLANNER

When it comes to organizing your content, keep it all in one space even if the content is not for the same platforms. That way, you will never lose where you wrote down that blog post or Instagram story idea because there is only one place it could be.

For me, this space is my content planner. This is my old planner for 2020 that I used before I started my bullet journal. I kept it because I didn’t want it to go to waste and am glad I did because it is a great place to organize my content. Each different type of content is colour coded so when I look at the week, I can easily see what I need to create. For example, blog posts that I need to write and post are written in red, social media posts are in blue, freelance writing is in orange, and so on.

It is helpful to have this separate place for content that is not your daily planner because it declutters that space. If I have a deadline for a freelance project, that will also go in my bullet journal but it will only be written in on the date it is due. In my content planner, I can breakdown the steps to create the content as well as when it is going to go live.

Whether you write your content ideas down in a notebook or in a digital calendar, make sure you have a space dedicated solely to where you keep your content ideas because it will ease your stress when you sit down with it at the beginning of each week.

TIP #2: DEDICATE TIMES AND/OR DAYS TO SPECIFIC CONTENT – MY MORNING VS AFTERNOON ROUTINE

Dividing up the days so I work on different types of content at different times has been a huge reason why I am able to achieve so much within a week. I even started doing this without realizing it because dedicating my mornings to more heavily writing-related content (blog posts, creative writing, Flanelle articles, etc) and afternoons to more business-related tasks (internships, social media, editing, etc) felt natural.

Focusing on writing in the morning also helps because I am able to get in the mindset for writing and create even more because of it. Over the years, I realized I am most creative in the mornings which is why I preserve my writing time for my mornings. If you haven’t figured out what time of day is your most productive, this is something you should figure out ASAP! That way, you can schedule your most time-consuming tasks during that time.

This is another reason why having somewhere like a planner to keep your content ideas is crucial because when you are scheduling out when you will work on it, you can divide up your day where you can visually see it.

Don’t forget to include the dates and times you POST your content too! For example, I post to my blog on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 12 pm PST, and I try to post to social media every weekday around the same time. I make sure to always write this down in my content planner, even though I always post on these days and times.

TIP #3: ENJOY WHAT YOU ARE CREATING – WHY I ONLY POST CONTENT I LOVE

Obviously, there will be some content you don’t enjoy creating but have to, but for the most part, I make it a priority to create content that I love. This is because the content I post on my blog, Instagram, etc is for people to enjoy as well. I figure that if I don’t enjoy it myself, nobody will! That is also why I try to be active the most on platforms I genuinely like to be on (give or take a few such as Twitter). Once again, some platforms you post to might not be your favourite, but I just remember my main focus is on ensuring I like the content I am posting there.

If you are unsure what your audience wants to see from you, use polls on social media. However, ultimately, you should be in touch with your audience and have a general idea of what they like and want to see, but there is no shame in asking for some help!


These are some tips for how I organize my content to maximize my time and efficiency when creating and posting to all my various platforms. If you have a method for organizing content, let me know in the comments below because I am always looking for new techniques to use!

Don’t forget to check out my last blog post as well as my social media accounts which are all linked down below.

Thanks for reading 🙂

Last Blog Post: June Reading + Writing Goals

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5 Ways to stay productive during quarantine

5 easy ways to ensure productivity and motivation while stuck at home.

Happy Monday!

Today, I am bringing you my top 5 ways to stay productive (and sane) during quarantine. These are simple things you can do to infuse in your everyday routine and are activities that I have found very helpful.

I know the online world is exploding with content like this, but I do think it is really helpful. Seeing YouTubers and bloggers posting their “Quarantine Day-in-the-life” and “how to stay motivated” videos and posts remind us all that we are in this together. Also, sometimes we need a reminder of how to stay productive and upbeat during these trying times. Which is what I am hoping to do today!

1. Be Creative Every Day

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If you didn’t know, I am a writer at Flanelle Magazine (which you can check out if you click HERE) and a month or so ago, I wrote a blog post called “COVID-19: The importance of keeping art alive in quarantine” and it highlights WHY we need to stay creative and artistic during this time. If you want to read it (which I recommend you do!), you can find the link to it right HERE. It will help you understand why you should be creative every day, and then the rest of this post will show you HOW you exactly you can do that.

Anyways, enough of the shameless self-promo!

First off, when I think of creativity and “being creative,” I think of the act of creating things. So, that is what I mean when I say be creative every day…create things daily. This will boost your mood and keep you busy. Whether it is writing for 30 minutes in the morning or unwinding at night by following a Bob Ross painting tutorial, include something creative into your everyday routine (which means it is important to HAVE a daily routine, but I am sure you’ve heard that from enough people…but make one!).

Some other creative things you can do are:

  • Write in a journal
  • Re-decorate your room
  • Collage
  • Sew and re-vamp your wardrobe
  • Learn how to draw
  • Create a bullet journal
  • Start a YouTube channel, blog, Instagram account, etc
  • Garden or grow things on your window sill

2. Become Friends with Time Blocking

I found it hard to utilize time blocking while in school and living my normal, not quarantined life, but while being stuck at home, I have found this tactic so helpful.

What is time blocking?

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Time blocking is when you dedicate chunks of time throughout the day to a specific task. For example, I have been dedicated 10 am – 12 pm to work on writing-related tasks. This includes my creative writing and writing blog posts. That way, it is done for the rest of the day and I can focus on the other things I need to get done. 12 pm – 1 pm is dedicated to working out, and then 3 pm – 6 pm is for my Coursera or school-related work.

Using this productivity method makes sure you are staying busy. You can go into the day knowing what you are doing which I find crucial with everything so up in the air nowadays.

Don’t forget to time block breaks too! Time blocking is important to ensure productivity, but every productive block requires a break too. For example, I take from 1 pm (or whenever I finish my workout) until 3 pm to do whatever. Sometimes, I will read, watch Netflix or play Fallout 4. But that time is my afternoon break time and it is incredibly important because it refuels my energy and allows me to stay motivated for the rest of the day.

3. Do Something New and Different Every Day

This is a tip you can combine with being creative every day because that new activity you want to try could be learning how to draw or starting a window sill garden. Or whatever other creative tasks you want to tackle.

While I enjoy having a strict routine right now, I have found that the days just blend together. Including something new and different every day keeps them as exciting and refreshing as they can be. It seems small, but it really does make a difference.

Some new and different things you can try:

  • Start a New Course (I have been loving Coursera for this, and guess what! You can audit most of their courses for FREE)
  • Learn a language
  • Pick up a new hobby like gardening, knitting, or baking
  • If you can go outside, find a new hiking trail (but don’t forget to social distance!)
  • Switch up your morning or night routine
    • Let yourself sleep in later or start reading in the mornings
    • Or at night, start taking take a bath before bed or watching an episode of a TV show

4. Develop a Reward System

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Sometimes, we are too hard on ourselves for not being “productive enough.” I know I am. Even if it is a Saturday, a day I should and want to spend relaxing, I cannot help but feel anxious about not working on my Coursera work or writing. It ends up ruining my whole day and I have been working on finding out how to combat this. I realized developing a rewards system is a method that has positive results for me. It also gives me more energy for that week and the weeks to come. A rewards system increases my productivity if anything. 

I am very good at keeping myself busy, and I would keep myself on a go-go-go schedule for the entire week (including the weekends) but I know that is not healthy. We all need a break and guess what? We are allowed a break too! What I found works best for me is still being a little bit productive on my days off. This just means I have to take breaks and reward myself more during the week so I do not feel like I am overworking myself.

An example I can give is how I reward myself after a writing session. To avoid creative burnout, I have begun giving myself a 30-minute break to do whatever I want after every successful writing session (which means I write 1,000 words). This is on top of my 1:30ish pm – 3 pm break. However, the one guideline I gave myself for it is that I cannot take my break after 6 pm because I am usually relaxing during that time anyway.

Now, I am doing this rewards system for every task on my to-do list that I complete (unless it is something simple like doing the laundry, but I think you understand that). If I finish my 2 hours of writing-related tasks in the morning, I can take a walk or work on taking some Instagram photos. When I finish an hour of Coursera work, I can watch a TV episode. Sometimes, my days do stretch past 6 pm because of this system, but that is okay because I am taking a lot of breaks during the day which has been helping me to not feel anxious when I do less on Saturdays.

Figure out what works best for you as a rewards system and do that. Maybe you work really hard during the workweek and feel good taking two full days off. Or maybe you like to work every second day, taking breaks on the days in between. Just make sure you are rewarding yourself and taking breaks!

5. Exercise Daily

My motivation to workout always ebbs and flows, and thankfully, it is flowing during quarantine. Maybe it is because we are stuck inside all day, but for the last month, my workouts have been the thing I look forward to every day. So much so, I started working out six days a week instead of five.

When I say workout, that does not mean you have to pull a hardcore one-hour cardio and ab workout every day. Your daily dose of exercise can be a walk around the block (if you can), doing a 10-minute at-home workout, or following a yoga video. Getting your body moving is so important and making sure you do that every day will impact your productivity and motivation for the better. 

Last week, I found the amazing Chloe Ting’s YouTube channel and have been LOVING her videos. They are such a great workout, even better than what I could do myself if the gyms were open. I feel so rejuvenated and awake after doing just one of her 10-minute ab workouts, and yes, very sore, but it is so worth it. I have infused her into my own workout routine, which I had a lot of fun creating when quarantine first started, and it was a fun way to spice it up.

Even if it is not a long workout, it will boost your motivation and energy to continue having a productive day.

 

REMEMBER: It is okay not to be productive every day! Sometimes we have days where our energy is at an all-time low and that is when you know it is time for a break. Don’t feel bad about taking it, even though that can be hard to do. Instead, try to enjoy it!


There they are! My 5 ways to stay productive during quarantine. I really hope this was a helpful post for you guys, and that it inspired you to keep productive and motivated. If it did, let me know what you took away from it!

Don’t forget to check out my last blog post as well as my social media accounts which are all linked down below.

Thanks for reading and stay healthy 🙂

Last Blog Post: April Wrap-Up + May TBR

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@zoermathers

 

 

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Tips for a Successful Side Hustle

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Happy Thursday!

Sorry for no post on Monday, but since I am pre-writing a bunch of blog posts over the next two weeks before school starts (yes, I am actually being productive for once), hopefully, that won’t happen again for a while.

Anyways, today I will be sharing my tips and tricks that I learned throughout my two months of pursuing freelance writing as a side hustle! I love reading about this kind of stuff myself because I think it is a really good idea to have a side hustle. Something that you enjoy, and can profit off of even if you don’t make a whole lot.

Here are five tips from me to you!

1. Make Time for It

Because it is called a “side hustle”, sometimes it can get neglected more than it should. When you begin a side hustle, make sure you do have the time and energy to put into it! Figure out when and where in your schedule it fits in best, and carve that time out weekly for you to work and grow it. Just like a full-time job is usually from 9-5 and five days a week, maybe your side hustle can be from 7-9 and two or three times a week. Whatever works for you.

2. Make a Plan and Follow It

With any new career, especially if it’s freelance, it is essential to create a plan for it. You need to outline your first steps, your overall goals, and then everything in between. With this plan, it will be a lot easier to figure out what twists and turns you need to take in order to achieve success with your side hustle.

For example, my plan for my freelance writing business was to start small. I charged a very small fee for my first few blog posts in order to build up a little more clientele and background. As I keep going, I make my fee a more justifiable amount and continue to build up my portfolio!

Your plan doesn’t need to be incredibly detailed or long, but it should give you enough of a base to work off of.

3. Treat It As Important As Your Full-Time Job

Your side hustle should be important to you and therefore, worthy of your time just like your full-time job. If you look down upon it in comparison to your other job, then it will start to lack because of that. Remember that just because your side hustle is that, a side hustle, doesn’t mean it should get pushed too far away to the side. Make sure it is being seen, heard, and attended to!

4. Don’t Pour TOO Much Money Into Your Side Hustle

It is also important to remember that when it comes to the money aspect of starting your own side hustle business, the amount of money you pour into should definitely be limited. Because like I said above, a side hustle is that, a side hustle. Don’t pour all of your funds into it otherwise you may very well be left with nothing! And besides, a side hustle isn’t meant to take over your entire life and career. Usually, you begin a side hustle because you want to make a little extra money on the side doing something you enjoy!

5. Don’t Let It Distract You From Your Full-Time Job

For a THIRD time, a side hustle is a SIDE HUSTLE. While you need to give it a certain amount of time throughout your week in order for you to see actual development within it, you cannot let it take away all your time (especially at the beginning of its start-up) away from your actual job. You know, the one that is making you the real money to oh, I don’t know…pay for your food, your rent, your clothes, your life, etc, etc. Don’t neglect your full-time job because you have a shiny, new side hustle!

Here are some awesome books on pursuing a side hustle that you should definitely check out!

Side Hustle: From Idea to Income in 27 Days

100 Side Hustles : Unexpected Ideas for Making Extra Money Without Quitting Your Day Job

I hope you found these five tips on how to run a successful side hustle helpful! Don’t forget to check out my last blog post, as well as my social media accounts which are all linked down below. Thanks for reading 🙂

Last Blog Post: Attack of the Reading and Writing Slump

 

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3 Tips for Upping Your Social Media Game

Happy Thursday!

Despite being completely free from the chains of high school and living days suddenly filled to the brim with free time (that I have not been using productively lately…), my social media game has still been wavering. Because of this, I thought it would be a good idea not only to share some tips on upping your social media game with you guys but with me as well since I clearly need some help too!

Anyways, I hope you find these helpful and that you enjoy 🙂

  1. Prep Content – Sometimes the day gets away from us and suddenly, any natural light is gone and your hope for taking a nice Instagram picture is gone…which is why you should prep pictures and content in advance! If I want to post to Instagram and I carve out around 20 minutes, I will take multiple pictures during that time instead. This saves you time and promotes consistency which leads to my next tip…
  2. Be Consistent! – Consistency in anything leads to success. If you have a blog, a YouTube channel, or any type of social media account, being consistent on these platforms is the easiest way to expand your following. Figure out what days you want to post on and make sure those posts are going up those days. While life is busy, I really recommend posting more than once a week. Personally, I want to try and post three to four times a week on my social media, and three times a week on my blog. This is what works best for me, and is the best way for me to make sure I stay consistent and active!
  3. Be Real – Nobody wants to follow someone who is fake. Be honest and real with the community on social media, and in time, you will grow and prosper! Sometimes, we don’t even realize we aren’t being fully ourselves because social media especially, forces people into a “perfect” mould that nobody is. Most people try to portray themselves as perfect, but that is not reality so make sure you are only portraying your authentic self!

Those are my three tips for upping your social media game, and I hope you enjoyed! Hopefully, in the next few weeks, my social media game will be back on track because I do love being able to connect with other writers and book lovers.

Anyways, don’t forget to check out my last blog post as well as my social media accounts which are all linked down below or available on the sidebar. Thanks for reading 🙂

Last Blog Post: How I Plan + Write My Blog Posts

 

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How I Plan + Write My Blog Posts

Happy Monday!

Currently, I am on a nine day long vacation visiting some family, but I pre-wrote these blogs posts so I don’t fall off the face of the earth…again. However, I thought this was a great opportunity to share you guys how I plan and write my blog posts. This is how I plan them whether I am going vacation or just figuring out my next line of content, but if you are thinking of starting a blog or want an insight to someone else’s routine, then this will be helpful!

I hope you enjoy!

PLANNING

Month by Month

Personally, I began planning out my blog content month by month. A few days before the end of each month, I will sit down and come up with at least most of my content for the entire month. It is super helpful if you are busy during the month and can’t always ensure you will have the time or energy to plan out your blog posts before they are scheduled to go up. Since I am starting my first year of university in around a month, this is what I’ve found is the easiest and most efficient way to make sure I am not neglecting my blog!

Have a Few “Staple” Blog Posts

By this, I mean have a few blog posts that you do almost every month. Whether these are reviews, TBRs, favourites, etc, etc, it is nice to have a few that you can fall back on when you are lacking creativity. A lot of the time, I will sit down at the end of each month and find that as I’m planning, I am slowly losing steam. When that happens, I just use my couple of staple blog posts so that there are days I’m not posting nothing even if it isn’t the most original idea.

Writing

Setting Aside Time

I post around 12-15 blog posts a month, so no way do I sit down and write them all for that month in ONE WHOLE DAY. Yeah, no. While I plan my blog posts out before the month even starts, that doesn’t mean I write them that ahead too. In fact, I usually write them the day before they are due to go up, or if I am feeling productive, I will write all three meant to go upcoming that week on Sunday.

This is just works best for me, and so far, has ensured that I don’t skip out on any blog days. If I know I have a busy week and will not be able to write anything for my blog, I will take a three hour chunk out of my Sunday to write them all up. To be honest, this is most likely what I will be doing once school starts although, the way I have it worked into my schedule as of now, is after my last class on Friday, I will work on writing up my blog content for Saturday, Monday, and Thursday of the coming week instead of Sunday. It is just what I think will work best, but we will see!

 

That is how I plan and I write blog posts, and I hope it was not only interesting, but helpful too! Don’t forget to check out my last blog post, as well as my social media accounts which are all linked down below. Thanks for reading 🙂

Last Blog Post: 5 Websites for Beginner Freelance Writers

 

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How I Write Screenplays

Hello!

I thought it would be fun to share my writing process for screenplays, because I have noticed it’s a little different than my writing process for say, a short story or novel. This is definitely because when writing a screenplay, you should only be writing one because it is a story that has to be enjoyed on a screen, not on pages.

Here is my process and some helpful tips on how I write screenplays!

Part One – The Conflict

For me, the main conflict is what comes to me first, or is what I try to search for first. It has to be a conflict that once again, can only be acted out live rather than in words. It has to be complex and fleshed out enough in order for me to connect it with the right characters and the right plot line.

WHAT MAKES GOOD CONFLICT?

  • There’s a Reason for It – Sometimes, we have conflict that seems to arise from nowhere. Make sure there is a reason and cause for your conflict because otherwise, it won’t be believable.
  • It’s Interesting – This seems obvious, but it’s true! Make sure your conflict is entertaining and exciting otherwise with the rest of the story will fall flat. Ensure there are multiple sides to the conflict and ways it can go wrong that create tension for your story and characters.
  • It Can’t Be Solved in One Minute – A common problem related to conflict is having your conflict solved TOO easily. One character stabs the villain and then BOOM, it is over, done, sealed, solved. No, conflict should include a journey to solve and should have a believable solution when that finally occurs.

Part Two – The Rest of the Story

Before characters, I like to come up with the rest of the story because I like to fit the characters into it. Kind of like a puzzle.

I also use the three act structure like I do with my short stories and novels. It is a way of dividing up the story that works for me, because it doesn’t separate it too much.

Here is how I make use of each act:

Act I – The Beginning: introductions to characters + the world, introduced to conflict, goals are created

Act II – The Middle: goals are being sought after, story deepens, realizations occur, journey begins

Act III – The End: achievement of goals is in sight, story lines come together, a solution is made evident and is coming, tension

That is how I structure my act I, II, and III, and looking back, it looks a little all over the place, but hitting these key points within each act helps me create a fleshed out story.

Again, it is exactly how I structure my short stories and novels, but one thing I try to focus more on in my screenplays is action, action, action. What is happening that keeps up the story’s pace? How can I keep up tension, suspense, interest, etc? My goals while screenwriting is making sure things are happening and moving forward in a way that makes sense, and in a way that keeps people interested.

Part Three – The Characters

Now comes for another essential part to any story: the characters. Some people don’t like to do characters last, but I do because I like to figure out how my characters fit into the story, and how they contribute to it.

Questions to Ask Your Characters:

  • What is your goal? Is it the same as most of the characters, or different?
  • Are you trying to stop someone or something?
  • Are you trying to help someone or something?
  • Is there anything that would stop you from achieving your goal(s)?
  • What would help you achieve your goal(s)?

Again, very action related. What drives them? What stops them? Screenplays in my head are always go, go, go. You aren’t concerning yourself with too much exposition or fluff, it’s dialogue and action which is one thing I really do enjoy writing!

The formatting of screenplays is the only thing I don’t enjoy doing, which is why I use templates! You can Google a screenplay template, or if you have Scrivener, they have an awesome screenplay template on there which is what I used for my writing class last year.

Hopefully you got some good tips for writing a screenplay, especially if you never have attempted one before! I really recommend it because while I prefer short stories and novels, learning the process of writing a screenplay has definitely made me a better writer overall.

 

That is all for this blog post and I hope you enjoyed! Don’t forget to check out my last blog post as well as my social media accounts which are all linked down below. Thanks for reading 🙂

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How to: Get Out of a Reading Slump 2.0

Happy Thursday!

There are a lot of readathons happening in July so I thought it would be a good idea to share my tips and tricks on how to successfully free yourself from a reading slump.

  1. Pick Up an Old Favourite – My go-to remedy for a reading slump is to pick up an old favourite of mine that yes, I’ve read about 100 times, but love even more every time. For me, this is any Cassandra Clare book, Eliza and Her Monsters or Fangirl. I can read these books countless times and by the time I flip to the last page, they always have me wanting to consume more books.
  2. Don’t Force Yourself to Read – A lot of the time we fall into a reading slump because we are forcing ourselves to read when we don’t want to, or when it is a story we don’t want to read. NEVER force yourself to read (unless it’s for school because then you should probably just try to do it) because that only leads to getting no reading done at all.
  3. Let Yourself Be a Mood Reader – While I make TBRs for most months, they are created from books I really feel like reading at that moment. Luckily for me, if I feel like reading a book at the beginning of the month, I usually still will by mid-month but of course, this is not always the case. So, if you are in a slump or are edging towards one, take a look at your shelf and choose what you feel like reading. Forget your current read and your TBR. Just pick a book you want and read it.
  4. Watch Reading Vlogs – Whether I need some motivation to read or write or be productive, I love turning to vlogs for this. The act of watching someone else do what I want and need to do just fuels me with this sudden motivation to tackle whatever it is. Sometimes I have to watch the entire vlog, and sometimes another (but don’t get sucked into the vicious cycle of only watching these vlogs…try to limit yourself to 3 videos). Other times, I only need to watch the first few minutes and then I am good to go. Here is one of my favourites!
  5. Take a Trip to the Library or Book Store – I go to the library a LOT because it is only a 5-minute walk from my house. Even if I don’t pick out a book, sometimes it is helpful to just be surrounded by books. About 90% of the time, this makes me desperately want to pick up a book and spend the day indoors, absorbed in a new (or old) story.

Those are my 5 tips on how to wriggle free of a reading slump and I hope they were helpful! This month, I am participating in 2 readathons and in the next few days, I will have my TBRs up for them. Also, I will now be posting on Saturdays as well so look out for those new blog posts! Thanks for reading 🙂

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How To: Write + COMPLETELY Edit a Short Story In ONE Week

Happy Friday! (Just kidding. I decided to post this a day early so happy THURSDAY!)

This past week, I have been writing like a madwoman because as always, I put things off to the last moment. This “thing” I put off was a writing scholarship portfolio that is due actually today when you are reading this, so fingers crossed, the submission process for future Zoe went well.

Anyways, I always do things last minute, especially writing things, so I thought I would give some of my tips for fast-drafting and polishing up a short story in a short time span. Also, apparently May is short story month so this is the perfect time to share this blog post with you all. Hopefully, you all find this helpful and if you have any tips of your own, make sure you leave them down below!

  1. Outline, Outline, Outline – Even if you aren’t a huge fan of outlining (like myself), I highly, HIGHLY recommend writing out an outline before fast-drafting. Even if it is only a sentence of what happens in the beginning, middle, and end, then that is better than nothing and will help you so much while drafting. This will save you from those moments where you pause your writing sprint because you have no idea where you are going with this story.
  2. Do More Than One Draft – When it comes to short stories, I will try to do a draft a day. Especially if I have at least one week before it needs to be finished and ready to go. If I am even shorter on time, I’ll write draft one in the morning, draft two in the evening and so on. Personally, I like to write at least three drafts. Sometimes more if I think the story desperately needs it, but usually at three I decide it is a good time to let it sit for a moment before diving into edits.
  3. Start With the BIG Edits – Honestly, I do not know the “right” or “proper” way to edit. I do what works best for me which is making the huge changes first. This means cutting chunks out, re-writing sections, and adjusting dialogue and character descriptions. Also, just overall trying to get to my word count goal. I personally don’t see the point in starting with the little edits because I end up slicing up my drafts and barely any of the words survive to see the next day!
  4. Now For the Little Edits – Now, after glossing up your story and finally, FINALLY getting it to your desired word count, it is time to focus on the smaller, yet very important things. This is things like grammar, italicizing words, fixing word order, etc, etc. The little things that make the sentences flow nicely and make them sound beautiful.
  5. Let It Sit – If you have the time to spare, let your story sit for at LEAST one day. If you can afford to give it more, than great. Usually, I only have one day. So, I will give my story that one day and then usually the day it’s due (yes, I know, I’m SO on top of things), I will give it a final tweaking. No big edits though because that could start a total disaster.

Those are my 5 tips for writing short stories while under tight deadlines and I hope they were helpful! Don’t forget to check out my last blog post as well as my social media accounts which are all linked down below. Thanks for reading 🙂

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How To: Read for English Class

Image result for reader clipart

This year, I’ve learned a LOT about reading from my English class (it’s a 12th grade and first-year university English class put together), and I wanted to share all the tips I’ve gathered with all of you today! Anyways, here are a few simple but effective tips for getting the most out of each book you read for English, both for your class and personally.

Tip #1: Read As Many of Your Required Readings As Possible

If you have the time, read as many books on your required reading as possible. This is a little easier to do in university since they give you a syllabus, but some high school teachers will tell you what you’re reading each year. If not, it is actually pretty easy to guess what you’re going to read. For example, I knew I was going to read Hamlet this year because that’s what I’ve been told since grade 9. Anyways, it will save you a lot of stress so instead of cramming to finish a book for class in only like a week, you’ll already have an idea about it and only need to skim. Since I’m starting the first year of my English degree next year (if I get in but I’m being hopeful), I searched up as many syllabuses for them as I could find, and found that I will be reading Frankenstein, The Tempest (which, I’ve already read), and a few others that I plan on attempting to read this summer just to make life a little easier next year.

Tip #2: Annotate!

Whether you want to write in the book (make sure it’s your own) or use stickies to keep track of important things, annotating will be your key to success when writing papers. Whether you know the topic of your paper that’s in response to the book you’re reading or not, sticky the important things like turns in the plot, quotes that contribute to the theme, mood, character, etc, and anything that hints at the overall theme of the story. If you have a notebook you want to write out your annotations in, that will be really helpful too!

Tip #3: Read Scholarly Essays 

I’ve been reading a lot of Greek tragedies lately, and I ended up also picking up this book called Oxford Readings in Greek Tragedy, and it has been really helpful when it comes to analyzing and understanding each play. I picked up this book because I plan on doing a few Greek and Roman classes, one of them being Greek Tragedy so I’m just preparing for the future. There are a lot of amazing scholarly essays online that you can read and it helps you to form your own opinion on whatever you are reading by comparing it with others, so I highly recommend checking some out!

Tip #4: Think About Theme

One thing my teacher told me about when it comes to reading as an English student, is that there are three levels of a reader: 1) The beginning reader who focuses and then writes about obvious things like plot and character 2) The experienced reader focuses and then writes about things like mood and irony 3) And the advanced reader focuses and then writes about narrative point of view and theme. This is really important to keep in mind and I hope it adjusts how you approach your reading!

Those are my 4 main tips on how to read like an English student, and I hope they were helpful! Let me know any tips you have when it comes to being an English student because I’m always looking for more ways to improve my reading and writing. Anyways, don’t forget to check out my last blog post as well as my social media accounts which are linked down below. Thanks for reading 🙂

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