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 to: Not Overwhelm Yourself

5 tips to leading a balanced and productive life

Happy Monday!

Balancing work, life, and downtime is no simple task and it is easy to completely overwhelm yourself. That is why I am here to share 5 tips and steps I take to take control of my time and find the perfect balance.

This is geared towards those of us working at home, or just anyone who enjoys taking on multiple projects at a time while juggling everything else life has to offer. This would still be helpful to anyone who is busy and looking for some tips to avoid overwhelming yourself.

As a creative who enjoys working on multiple projects at once, I will be the first to admit that I often overwhelm myself. I am trying to get better at it which is why I wanted to make this post. It forced me to sit down and think about the things I wanted to change in my life to make it more balanced. Sometimes…well, often times, I take on too much and I am sure any other creative can agree. Since the things I work on (for the most part, give or take a few projects) are projects I genuinely enjoy like writing and social media, a lot of times I forget that it is still “work” and time-consuming. However, even if we enjoy our work, we need to take breaks and not let it consume all the hours of our day.

Learn how to get your work done while still taking time for yourself and live a balanced life with these 5 tips for not overwhelming yourself

1. Take a Look at Your Projects: What Can Stay and What Can Go?

The first reason you might be feeling overwhelm is because you are working on too many things! Which is why you need to make a list of everything you are working on and figure out if anything can go, or be postponed.

For example, I post blogs 3 times a week (Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays) but because I have so many exciting projects on my plate, I decided it was best to cut it down to 2 times a week for the time being (Mondays and Fridays). I love writing for my blog and posting to it, but sometimes, we have to make sacrifices for the sake of our sanity. However, I am not too sad about it because it is only temporary. Once I finish up some current projects, I am hoping to return to posting 3 times a week.

When you make your list of projects, sort them by priority. If one of the projects involves your actual paying job, whatever that is, that should be your top priority because other people are expecting it to get done and it pays your bills. Figure out where your other projects fall after that, all in order of importance and/or urgency to least important and/or least urgent. Cut the 1 or 2 at the bottom off, or move them to the “save for later” pile. Ensure that you include at least 1 passion project though! This way, you will still be doing something you love and can look forward to making time for it during the day.

2. Set Your Work Day + Break Times

It is important to know when you are working and when you are not, especially if you are working at home and/or running your own business. I know it sounds silly and obvious, but a big contributing fact to me feeling overwhelmed is because I work until I feel “done.” This knocks any source of balance out of my life because my workday can go on until the minutes before I go to sleep.

Does a 9-5 workday not work for you? That’s okay, because while I used to do that, lately it hasn’t been working for me. Whatever time you want to start working, as long as you end it 8-9 hours later, having that normal work schedule (and sticking to it) will positively impact your mental health and sanity. Remember that this work schedule is for weekdays. I highly recommend trying to avoid working on weekends. Or, at least don’t make it a habit.

It is also important to schedule in your break time. This is something I am a rookie at because I will sit at my desk for hours, only breaking when I feel hungry or need go to the bathroom. In reality, you need to take at least an hour and a half of a break each workday.

3. Use a Planner

Organizing your projects and their deadlines is the key to leading a balanced life. You can use a paper planner or digital one like Google Calendars. I alternate between both and sometimes use them at the same time. Sit down with your planner at the end of each week, or the beginning, and plan the week ahead. Include your project deadlines as well as when you want to hit certain milestones within the project. For example, say you want to write 50,000 words in a month and you include a weekly goal of 10,000 words by every Sunday. Make sure you write that down!

Some other productivity tools I like to use to manage my projects and keep myself organized (and sane) are Trello and Hootsuite. I love Trello because it allows you to make different boards and then it lays out your tasks or goals in visually appealing way. You can easily move things around and add other boards too. On the other hand, Hootsuite lets me manage my social media posts. I take advantage of the free plan and have linked my Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest to it. Hootsuite allows you to schedule posts and create them on their website. I’ve only recently begun using it, but so far it has freed up so much time in my day.

4. Come Up with a List of Break Activities

When it is finally time for you to take a step back and relax during the workday, you should curate a list of activities that you can do so you don’t waste time trying to figure out what to do. Some things on my list are:

  • Read a book
  • Watch TV
  • Bullet journal
  • FaceTime a friend
  • Go on a walk

Add as many things to the list as you want, but having one ready to go will save you valuable break time. If you are having trouble coming up with ideas, take a look at the photo below and try to tailor your break time activities to things that take care of your mind, body, and soul. It will ensure you get the most out of your break time!

5. Enforce an End Time

Figuring out when to end your day is crucial, otherwise you will keep working until the sun goes down and your eyelids are sagging with exhaustion. Whether that is 5 pm or 8 pm, choose a time and stick to it. Since I’ve been starting my workday later (at around 12 pm), my end time is now 8 or 9 pm. But no later than 9 pm!

Having an end time also helps to prevent burnout. If you keep chugging along into the night, there is a good chance you won’t feel as productive the next day. Slow and steady wins the race; remember that, because I know I have to remind myself of this all the time. It is better to consistently work 8 hours 5 days a week rather than 10 hours one day and only 4 hours the next. So, find an end time that works for you and stick to it.


Those are my 5 tips on how to not feel overwhelmed while keeping productive. I hope you found them helpful! If you have any other tips, don’t hesitate to leave them down below.

Also, 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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5 Tips for Succeeding as a Creative

5 tips for achieving success in your creative field and enjoying the process.

Happy Friday!

There is no clear path for a creative, which is why I wanted to share my 5 helpful tips for succeeding in a creative field. When you choose a creative career, you are also accepting a path that will take you down unexpected twists and turns. You are accepting that failure will knock you down often. You are accepting that your success will look different than your favourite author, artist, photographer, etc.

While we are told that success in a creative field is rare, I don’t believe that is true. Scratch that, I know that’s not true. At a young age, I have found various forms of success already that comfort me in my decision to choose a creative career, and continue choosing it. I feel confident that with all the time, effort, and work I’ve poured into my writing, I will continue to find success as a creative.

Success for me has looked like this:

  • Winning writing contests
  • Short stories published
  • Large portfolio of published articles
  • Continuous freelance projects: editing, re-typing, etc
  • A responsive community on my social media and blog

So many opportunities have arisen in my creative career already, and I am only 18 years old! That means you too can easily find success as a creative.

Here are my 5 tips for finding success as a creative

1. Constantly Produce Content

The first thing you need to do is to keep all your content in a portfolio and continue to constantly produce content for it. Have a lot of it too. Having that one “brilliant” story idea is not enough in this highly competitive field! As a creative, you need to always be at your laptop, writing. Or at your easel, painting. Or behind your camera, taking photos. Whenever you have the time, even if you don’t feel inspired, you should spend time creating content and expanding your ever-increasing portfolio of work. If one piece doesn’t work out, guess what! You have several others to pick and choose from and then throw out into the world.

It is important to diversify your content too. For example, I am a writer and at first, my portfolio only consisted of fiction short stories. Now, it is filled with more stories but also articles, blog posts, social media posts, and newsletters. I also have manuscript editing experience. It all relates to my core passion of writing, but I display expertise in so many forms of writing. Check out my blog post on how I organize all my content HERE for more info. This is the driving force behind all my success and opportunities that I’ve been offered, and the opportunities that have found me without having to search for them. The point is, the more content you have and the more you make it public, the easier it is for you and success to meet up at some middle point!

2. Choose 2 Social Media Platforms to Grow

As a creative, social media is essential to your success because it is how others will find your portfolio and how you will network with other creative minds. I recommend really focusing in on 2 platforms because otherwise, it gets a little much. Feel free to make your creativity known on several platforms, but pour your energy into posting on 2 at the most.

Before choosing your social media platforms, consider these tips:

  • Which platforms do you gravitate to already?
  • Google what platforms are best for your creative passion
  • Research what days and times are the best to post on those platforms
  • Make posting/being active on social media part of your weekly routine (you should post as much as possible, but also don’t overload your audience!)
  • Plan out some ideas of what you will post. What type of content? What photos? What captions?

Instagram and Twitter are popular platforms for writers, and while I am active on Instagram, I despise Twitter. I have to force myself to post on it every once and a while because if I don’t, I will never post! That is why I have been switching over to Pinterest lately. I enjoy the creativity Pinterest requires, similar to Instagram. It is exciting to post to Pinterest and because of that, I actually do it!

Grow your social media presence, connect with other creative minds, and it will be much easier for success to meet you.

3. Spend Time Replenishing Your Creativity

On the path to finding success, you have to make an effort to replenish your creativity so you have the energy to continue working and creating. This means watching movies, reading books, looking at art, etc.

This is something else you should schedule in daily! Whether it is thirty minutes or an hour, make it a priority to inspire and spark your creativity. Lately, I have been spending my mornings reading or watching movies. I have changed my working time to starting in the early afternoon and ending in the later evening because I was finding it hard to remember to replenish my creative well. This way, I am doing it first thing in the morning and starting my day off right.

4. Set Short-Term + Long-Term Goals

It is crucial to have goals for everything you are trying to achieve, but it is also important to have a plan of action for these goals otherwise they mean nothing.

For example, if you want to reach 1,000 followers on Instagram that is great but how are you going to do it? Are you going to follow a certain amount of people every day? Are you going to post every day or every second day? Are you going to determine who your audience is so you can post content they will like? These are the action steps you must think about and plan in order to achieve that goal of reaching 1,000 followers.

Sit down with a notebook and write out all the goals you want to achieve in the next few months, and then in the next few years. This will help you gain a clear idea of what steps you need to take in your career to achieve these. This also means you will most likely see results faster! Check back in with these goals every month and see if you achieved them, or are well on your way to doing so. Adjust things if you are not close to succeeding in them until you are.

5. Get Used to Failure

Failure is inevitable as a creative. Even if you’ve been faced with it 5 times already, failure will find you again. I was greeted by failure for the first time regarding my writing when I was 13 years old. I had sent short stories to a few contests but only got the mass email that read: “Thank you for submitting to our contest, unfortunately, your story has not been chosen…” Does this sound familiar to you? Well, if it doesn’t, it soon will be!

Failure is something I am used to now. Yes, it still stings but I take it as a hint that I need to work on my writing a little more. My writing can always be stronger. But no matter what, I always pick myself up after facing that rejection or failure and push forwards. It has never once discouraged me from submitting to other contests or literary magazines. It has never once made me feel like a was an awful writer because rejection from a contest or literary magazine does not mean that! Rejection and failure mean that you gave your art to the wrong person, but the right person is still out there.

That is why it is important to follow the previous tips because when you have that portfolio of work to share, and that social media following it will allow you to find the right place for your art.

I recommend checking out my Instagram account because I began a series called “So you wanna be a writer?” that touches on finding opportunity, learning from rejection, and overall, pursuing creativity. The posts (there are 2 currently) are filled with tips and tricks for doing so. Click below to read them!

HOW MY WRITING JOURNEY STARTED: THE IMPORTANCE OF PUTTING TIME INTO YOUR WRITING AND TRUSTING YOUR SKILLS

SEEKING OPPORTUNITY


Those are 5 tips for succeeding as a creative. I hope they were helpful because pursuing creativity is not always easy but that is the fun of 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 🙂

Last Blog Post: 6 Books By Black Authors I NEED to Read

  

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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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4 Tips for Getting Things Done

How to properly attack your to-do list and regain inspiration, motivation, and productivity.

productive

Happy Monday!

It can be hard to have the motivation to get things done, especially during quarantine when we have nothing but the TIME to get things done. I have not been the most motivated this past week but slowly, I have been getting back to my productive self. That is why I am putting together this short but effective list of four ways to re-ignite your motivation and productivity to knock off everything on your to-do list because I know it really helps me when I need a boost.

#1 Know What You Need to Get Done and How

Even if you write out your to-do list every morning, that doesn’t necessarily mean you know how to get those tasks done. Creating a to-do list and then dissecting each task can be extremely helpful if you don’t feel super motivated to get them done in the first place.

I find often that I have a may have a plan, but I don’t know how to approach it. For example, I am re-typing a novel for a client which is a time-consuming project. It is unrealistic for me to sit down and just type the  15 or so pages I need to type for that day, so instead of just writing “Re-type 15 pages” in my bullet journal, I add underneath my plan of attack like “Write 8 pages in the morning, 5 pages in the afternoon, and two pages in the evening.” This way, the task appears less daunting because you’ve broken down the steps. You now know WHAT you need to get done and HOW.

#2 Plan Out Your Break Time

Whenever I don’t feel like being productive, I find that planning my breaks really helps. It motivates me to get my tasks done because I know once I finish them, I can reap the rewards of watching an episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender or reading for 20 minutes.

Figuring out how often you should break up your workday is something you will have to figure out for yourself. For me, I know I should break my day up much more than I do, but I usually work straight from 9 am – 12 pm and then break (and workout) until 2 or 3 pm. Then, I usually spend from 3 pm to 6 pm working. I definitely recommend taking a 10-15 minute break every hour or so, I just get so consumed in my work that I rarely notice the time! However, I pay for it in sore wrists, an aching back, or tension headaches. Take breaks!

#3 Change Up Your Environment

Lately, any time I feel stuck or “lazy,” it has been because I am tired of staring at my bedroom walls. My work environment now switches between my bedroom and dining room table. I am lucky to be able to move locations within my house because my parents and brother work for the majority of the day, therefore, I have a quiet house to myself.

If you cannot move your workspace, trying re-arranging the room you have. Move the desk, switch up the wall decor, or even just re-organize your desk. These seemingly small things make such a huge difference and I cannot recommend taking actions like these enough. I plan on switching up my room sometime in June. Not only do I want to move my desk, but I am adding a second bookshelf in which is very exciting because it helps to make it feel like a brand new area.

#4 Time Batching

If you haven’t heard of the term “time batching,” then it means you haven’t tried it and it might just be your saving grace. I am a loose time batcher, but it really does help me get all the things done. Time batching is when you group tasks that are similar and do them all at once, and then move onto a completely different category of tasks.

An example of this is my mornings because from 9 am – 12 pm, I work on anything writing-related such as blog posts, creative writing, etc. I also do anything that has an upcoming deadline in this time block as well, but it is always solely reserved for writing. This helps me get into the right headspace and groove, and ultimately, it allows me to work through tasks faster. I then go onto reserve my afternoons for school-related or work-related tasks such as my internship and Coursera courses.


Those are all of my tips to get things done, especially during a pandemic when we suddenly have the time to work on these things. I hope they were helpful, and if you have any more tips make sure you comment them down below!

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: Writing Update!

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5 Tips for Writing Short Stories

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Happy Friday!

Today, I wanted to share some of my tips and tricks for writing short stories. I recently finished writing a novella about a month or so ago, and it reminded me how careful and particular short story writing is. It is hard to know what to cut and how deep to dive into your world and characters.

Hopefully, this blog post can give you some insight into that!

#1: Don’t Fit 100,000 Words Into 2,000

This tip is especially important if you are writing fantasy. I always attempt to write fantasy short stories, which are the hardest to write, and I have to remind myself that I am only focusing on one or two specific incidents/events. Unlike a novel, you do not have to have a huge cast of characters or an in-depth explanation of the world, magic system, and history. Yes, you need to touch on those things in your short story, but they are not the main focus. The main focuses are the plot point of the short story (which can consist of one or two major events) and your main character. Maybe a second character as well.

The point is, you and your reader know and understand that this is a short story. It is not meant to explain everything, nor should it!

#2: You Should Know Everything

Going along with the first tip, just because your reader doesn’t know everything doesn’t mean you don’t. You are the storyteller, the writer, you MUST know every little aspect of your story, its world, the characters, etc for your story to work. Even if you don’t mention it in the story ever, your readers will notice something is off or missing.

Another reason I like to plan out everything, even if it doesn’t make it into the draft, is because if I decide the story could become a longer piece one day, I have most of the info already. Yes, some tweaking and adding to the outline will occur, but this way, you already have a strong foundation for a novel.

#3: Is Your Story Character-Based or Plot-Based?

While it is important to showcase both the plot and characters in every story, most tend to lean to one side more than the other. This is very helpful to determine in short story writing before you jump into drafting because it helps you know what to focus on. That way, in your short amount of time, you use your limited word count to make the characters or the plot shine.

Now, that does not mean you completely push off the one you aren’t as focused on. No, no, no. Both are still crucial elements to the story, but you are just figuring out where your strength and focus should be. You still need to thoughtfully plan on both aspects and showcase them in your story.

#4: Over-Write

I highly recommend over-writing when it comes to short story writing because this will ensure you aren’t leaving any important details out, which can happen in short stories. Personally, I usually write thousands of words over my target word limit (which I don’t always recommend), but it means I have gotten everything I needed to say for that story out onto the page. That way, when it comes to editing, I will read through the story and figure out what are the important and necessary pieces that need to stay.

Over-writing also means that I don’t need to add many more words (if any at all) because I got all the words on the page already.

#5: Editing Will Teach You How to Write Your Next Short Story

While every story is different both writing and editing wise, whenever I edit a short story, it helps me understand what to include and what not to include in my next one. It will show me that I focus on too much meaningless description because oh yes, I am cutting a whole paragraph describing the green hills out of a page…again.

Pay attention when you’re editing. Take note of what you are cutting out and what you find yourself cutting out over and over again. Most likely, these writing habits will transfer into your next short story or novel too. It can help save time and wrist strength!


These are my five short story writing tips and I hope you found them helpful! Let me know what your short story tips are below, or just any writing tips in general so we can help each other out 🙂

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: House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig – Non-Spoiler Book Review

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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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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 🙂

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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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