How To: Develop Healthy Writing Habits

When writing, it is important to develop habits that benefit you physically and mentally. Sometimes we get in the habit of developing unhealthy habits though, which is why you should probably sit down, read this blog post, and figure out how to apply these tips to your life. I really hope this will help and I hope you enjoy!

What Are Some Unhealthy Writing Habits?

  • Staying Up Too Late or Too Early Every Day Writing
  • Beating Yourself Up For Not Meeting Your Daily Word Goal
  • Setting Writing Goals That Are Way Out of Reach
  • Not Taking Breaks

What Are Some Healthy Writing Habits?

  • Writing During Your Prime Time, But Also Getting 7-8 Hours of Sleep
  • Setting Realistic Daily Word Counts and Overall Writing Goals
  • Taking Breaks Every 25-60 minutes for 5-10 minutes
  • Allowing Yourself to Take a Day Off If Your Mind and Body Needs It!

How Can YOU Develop These Healthy Writing Habits?

  • Set Up a Writing Schedule That Works Around Your Sleep Schedule – Sleep is so important because if you don’t get enough it will be really hard to function the next day. Find out what times work best for you and your creative flow, but make sure it works out that you are still getting a decent sleep.
  • Create SMART Goals – SMART (Specific – Measurable – Agreed upon – Realistic – Time Based) goals are what format you should be looking to whenever you make goals. These are the most productive goals because you should develop an action plan to tackle these realistic goals, and make those steps towards that goal SMART goals as well. For example, if your goal is to write 30,000 words by the end of the month you have already created half of a SMART goal. You have your pretty realistic goal and a deadline. Now you just need to figure out how many words per day you need to write, and I also recommend having a little reward for you at the end if you accomplish it.
  • Take Breaks – I recommend timing your writing sessions in what feels best for you. For example, maybe you work better in shorter sprints so set timers for every 20-30 minutes and then take a 5 minute break at the end of each short sprint and repeat that until you are done for the day. If you like writing for longer sprints, maybe one hour at a time, then take about 10 minute breaks. You don’t want to burn out and your fingers and brain do need a short break every so often.
  • If You Write Every Day, Take A Day Off Every Once and a While – I don’t usually write everyday (except I try during Camp NaNoWriMo and NaNoWriMo) because I am also a full time student, but when I do, I find myself really needing a day off every once and a while. Sometimes I will take every second Sunday off, which is a day I reserve for doing school work and blogging and other projects other than whatever I am currently working on. If that sounds appealing to you, try it and don’t feel guilty about taking that much needed day off!

Now, to develop these habits I recommend applying them to your everyday life for at least a week straight because if you do it only every once and a while, you will not develop these habits. It may be a hard week, but it will be worth it once these habits become part of your writing routine!

Those are some ways to develop healthy writing habits and I hope you enjoyed! Don’t forget to check out the blog posts linked below, and don’t forget to keep writing 🙂

Last Blog Post: Camp NaNoWriMo Week 2: Catching Up

Other Writing Blog Posts: Things All Aspiring Writers Should  Do, Balancing Multiple Writing Projects 

Other Places You Can Find Me:

Twitter:@zoermathers

Pinterest: @zoermathers

Prepping for Camp NaNoWriMo #2

Last week I went over some brief tips on outlining your novel for Camp NaNoWriMo and now we are going to dive a little more into that, but focusing on characters! Characters are incredibly important to any story…if they are done well. Here are some tips to creating three dimensional, fleshed out characters!

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Creating Characters 101

  • Use Real People for Inspiration – It is really helpful when starting out to use real people to help you with your character sketch. As you go on, you’ll start adding new pieces that you came up with yourself, but until then it is like starting off with a template!
  • Make Them Diverse! – Make every character different. In the real world everyone has different skin colour, hair colour, voices, personalities…so reflect that in your characters. Having a diverse cast of characters not only makes your story more realistic, but it allows readers  to connect with them easier because they will see themselves in one or more of your characters.
  • Fears? Ambitions? Those Are Important – I have fears and ambitions, and so do you. If we both do that means ALL your characters do as well. Make sure you write this down, along with all these others tips, because sometimes we think we know what our characters fear or what they strive for, but it is important to actually write it down. You can use this in your story to bring more depth to your character and make them actually feel real.
  • Give EVERY Character a History – Everyone lives a different life, and just because a character isn’t as important to the story as the main character, they still deserve their own story. It also makes them easier to write because if they have a backstory you get to know them better. Maybe they were orphaned at a young age and moved around from house to house which is why they don’t get attached easily…whatever you feel is right for that character but just create it!
  • Know What Will Make or Break Them – Everyone has something that will make or break them. By this I mean we all have something that would make us the happiest person on the Earth, but also things that would deeply hurt us. Characters have this too! Something can bring them to the verge of breaking (or the happier alternative) and you can use that and bend it at your will throughout the story.
  • Know Their Motive – Again, whether they are the main character or a side character, it is so important to know what is motivating them to do whatever it is they are doing in your story. Just like how every person has some driving force in their life, like maybe they want to be a musician. If that is what their motive is at the moment then that means they will do things in order to move forward like buy an instrument and take lessons. It is the same with your characters, especially your main character. Something is motivating them and you need to know what.
  • Write in that Character’s Perspective – Even if you don’t plan on writing in that character’s POV, pull out a journal and just freewrite as that character. Write what their usual day looks like, write about them going on a walk…just writing in their perspective will make you understand them better and that will really show when you introduce them in your short story, novel, etc.

Wow that was a lot longer than I expected but hopefully it was helpful! It is so important to know as much as you can about your characters, but also your entire story and world before diving head first into Camp NaNoWriMo because otherwise you will hit some major roadblocks along the way.

Anyways, that is all for this Camp NaNo prep post and I hope you enjoyed. Don’t forget to check out my last blog post: Reading + Writing Update!

Other Places You Can Find Me:

Twitter:@zoermathers

Pinterest: @zoermathers

Things All Writers Need

Below are a few different things that I believe all writers need. These things are books, podcasts, TV shows, and really anything that I feel enhances your creativity. Make sure you check out all the links I provided below because you will not regret it!

NaNoWriMo

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If you are a writer and haven’t heard about NaNoWriMo…I don’t know where you’ve been because it is huge! NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and is a writing event that inspires writers from around the world to attempt a 50,000 word draft in one, single month. This takes place in November every year, but they also have events like Camp NaNoWriMo in April and July every year. However, instead of aiming to hit 50,000 words, you can choose your word goal. Anyways there are also goodies for participants and winners, and overall it is just an amazing writing experience.

Creative Writing Exercises for Dummies by Maggie Hamand

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This is a book on writing that is filled with useful tips on the craft of writing as well as motivation and marketing. You will also find lots of writing exercises to get your creativity flowing, and that are also a lot of fun! This is a book that will get you pumped and ready to write with ideas practically flowing from your fingertips.

Myths & Monsters

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Myths & Monsters is a TV series on Netflix that every writer is screaming at you to watch. While I am only a few episodes in, I can confidently recommend it to not only writers, but anyone interested in history as well. This show is filled with mythology from all different places like Greece, Rome, Egypt, and so much more, and focuses on literature and art from those times as well. The narrators go over valuable tips and ideas on story structure and also creating an entertaining quest like the ones in the original myths.

The Creative Penn Podcast

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Are you in need of a fantastic podcast where you will be overflowing with info by the time it switches off? Well definitely check out the Creative Penn podcast because it is just that! The host, Joanna Penn brings on so many great writers and creative people and I always enjoy listening to their conversations. I am pretty picky when it comes to writing podcasts but this is definitely a favourite of mine.

That is all for today but I hope you enjoyed! Make sure you also check out my last blog post: 5 Ways to Spark Your Creativity

Other Places You Can Find Me:

Twitter:@zoermathers

Pinterest: @zoermathers

 

NaNoWriMo 2017 Week 4: Keeping Yourself Interested

It is week 4 of NaNoWriMo which is absolute insanity! Since it is week 4 though, I am sure a lot of you may be feeling a little lost with your project as we start on the journey of drawing them to a close. However, there are a few things you can do to spice up your writing and get yourself excited to keep writing your story!

  • Plot Twists! – An overload of plot twists takes the fun and thrill out of them, but scattering one or maybe even two makes for an exciting book; not only for the reader but for you as the writer too! Surprise yourself with a plot twist, or finally write the one you planned at the beginning of the month and are dying to get to. It may surprise you how much it reignites your writing flame.
  • Reading Your Favourite Book – Most writers want to write because of their favourite authors. They inspire us to be like them; successful storytellers. I know that when I read my favourite book, or just a book that I really admire or connect to writing style wise, I get the writing itch. Just reading the book inspires me to write my own, and is a great way to get myself back into writing.
  • Changing Your Plan – Sometimes the simplest way to keep yourself interested in your story is to change the path of it. I am not saying change a massive portion of your book, but maybe throw in an unexpected obstacle or even kill someone off! Whatever it is that changes the pace of your story and surprises you, because once you surprise yourself in your story, you will leave yourself wanting more!

Writing Resources:

NaNoWriMo YouTube Channel

http://margaretatwood.ca/resources-writers/

http://susandennard.com/for-writers/

That is all for my NaNoWriMo tip post for this week and I hope you enjoyed. Don’t forget to check out my last blog post: Reading/Writing Update!

Reading/Writing Update!

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Okay so let’s start off with some good news…I read 2 books this week! I decided I needed a break from fantasy and decided to pick up and re read To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han. This is one of my favourite books, and favourite trilogies, and I picked it up because I was really in need of reading a light hearted and fluffy novel. I started it on Wednesday and since then have already finished the first two books. Now I am re reading the third and final installment and I haven’t actually re read this one yet. This will be the first re read which makes me excited because I forget what happens exactly. Anyways, I love these books and Jenny Han’s writing so I know that this was the right choice. Hopefully I will finish Always and Forever, Lara Jean today and after that I am not entirely sure what I will pick up next…but we will see!

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Now for NaNoWriMo…so I am at about 18,000 words and I will sadly not be continuing with it. It has been so hard for me to not find time to write, but find the motivation to write because just after writing a few hundred words, I would feel drained. I decided it would be best for me not to continue on with NaNoWriMo, because I also do not feel like my story is “novel ready”. I need to let it mull around in my head for a bit before I write it down on paper, and honestly, I have no idea when that will be. However, I am still writing. I am still writing short stories, and even some essays which I haven’t done much for my own enjoyment. Anyways, I hope that all of your NaNoWriMo journeys are going well but if not, don’t worry because you are not alone!

That is all for my reading and writing update and I hope you enjoyed. Don’t forget to check out my last blog post: Writing Goals for

NaNoWriMo 2017 Week 3: Tips for Staying On Track!

This blog post is very relevant for a lot of you I am sure, as well as me…this weekend I planned on getting really ahead (even though I was already on track) but let me tell you, that did not happen. I have written next to nothing over these past 3 days, maybe about 800 words. I just needed a mental break but hopefully tomorrow I will be back and writing before I fall too behind. Hopefully for any of you in the same situation as me, these five tips will be helpful to keep in mind for the rest of NaNoWriMo!

Tip #1: Determine Why You Haven’t Been Writing

Getting to the source of the problem will help you know how to proceed and fix it. Maybe you haven’t been writing because you have been so busy, or maybe you have hit a massive road block. Whatever it is, analyze it and then think up the best solution to get around it.

Tip #2: Come Up with a Plan

Are you going to write an extra five hundred words every day to catch up? Or are you going to have a whole day dedicated to writing? Whatever it is come up with that plan and stick to it. Clear the time you need and make sure nobody bugs you so you get back into the writing groove. In a few days, you will be back and better than ever!

Tip #3: Stick with the Plan!

If you make the plan you have to stick with it otherwise you won’t ever catch up. Hopefully if you are passionate and committed to your project, you will want to keep on writing it. It can be hard to stick to your plan and actually sit down at your computer, but once you do it, it will be as easy as breathing…for the most part!

Tip #4: Reward Yourself

It is hard to write and stay on your schedule, which is why you deserve to be rewarded! Whether that is a little reward every day or a bigger one at the end of each week, it will amaze you at the difference it makes and how motivated you will feel to write. Some examples of rewards are a drink from a coffee shop, or allowing yourself one full hour of watching Netflix. Whatever works for you!

Tip #5: Don’t Lose Hope!

Even if you are so, so far behind, do not give up! Keep on writing because if you do not end up with that end goal of 50,000 words, any amount is more than what you started with and that is something to be proud of. It is important to remind yourself that you can keep on writing even when NaNoWriMo ends, the writing doesn’t end with November!

Current NaNoWriMo Word Count: 18, 695

That is all for my week 3 NaNoWriMo post and I hope you enjoyed. Don’t forget to check out my last blog post: AuthorTuber & BookTuber Recommendations! and also keep on writing 🙂

 

NaNoWriMo 2017 Week 2: Tips and Tricks!

Week 1 of NaNoWriMo is done and week 2 is here! Hopefully your writing is going well and you are getting those words in. Today I will be giving some helpful tips to make the NaNoWriMo process easier, and some motivational words as well. Good luck!

Tips/Tricks to a Successful Rest of NaNoWriMo:

  • Write Multiple Times a Day – Most of the time I can easily get my word count in with a single writing sprint, but if you break up the times you write during the day, you can get SO much more done. For example, I write a little in the morning before I have to get ready and then in the evening which is when I usually write. Even if you can only get a few hundred in the morning, that is still an extra few hundred already written for your next session!
  • Refer to a Craft Books – Writing craft books are a great way to give you insight on your novel, and things to keep in mind throughout the rest of the month. They are also a great way to get motivation to write, and they always get me excited to write. Further down I have listed some recommendations for craft books so definitely check them out!
  • Attend Local Write-Ins and Connect with Other Wrimos – Connecting with other writers is so great, whether it is in person or over social media. I love connecting with other writers, especially other young writers who are at the same spot in their writing as I am. Writing is lonely! Take advantage of this world-wide writing event and meet some other writers.
  • Keep a Notebook of Newer Ideas – Whenever you get a new idea for your story, write it down in a notebook so you can refer back to it in your second draft when you are rewriting it. DO NOT restart your first draft unless you ultimately feel like that is the best decision for your story, because sometimes that is what you need to do. But having a book with these little notes for you to remember is super helpful.

Craft Book Recommendations:

  • No Plot? No Problem! NaNoWriMo Novel Writing Kit by Chris Baty
  • Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass
  • Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury

Those are some of my NaNoWriMo tips and tricks as well as some craft book recommendations, and I hope you enjoyed. Don’t forget to check out my last blog post: NaNoWriMo and Reading Update!

 

NaNoWriMo and Reading Update!

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Finally, finally, finally I have finished another book this month, and even though it took me an ENTIRE month, I can say I have finished re reading Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare. I was hesitant re reading this trilogy because I remembered that back when I did read it for the first time a few years ago, I didn’t enjoy it as much as Cassandra Clare’s other published works. However I absolutely adored this book and am so excited to continue on with the trilogy. Since I finished Clockwork Angel last night, I have jumped into Clockwork Prince and am about 40 pages into it. I forgot how much I loved these characters and this world!

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4 days of NaNoWriMo have already passed and it is the end of the first week so I thought it seemed fitting to update you guys on where I am and how it is going. Luckily I am starting out strong, having beat the average word count of 1,667 words almost every day so far. Here are what the days have looked like for me:

Day 1: 1840 words

Day 2: 2043 words

Day 3: 1504 words

 

Total: 5387

My weekly goal for this first week of NaNoWriMo was 9000, because there definitely will be a few days within the month of November that I will not be able to write as much or even at all.

NaNoWriMo Prep #5

This is the very last NaNoWriMo Prep before NaNoWriMo 2017 finally begins! I am so excited and have been prepping and planning like crazy this weekend, so I am counting down the days until I can finally get all my thoughts and ideas down on paper, or well my computer screen. Anyways, today I decided to share with you guys what I put in my designated “NaNo” journal so that while writing, I can flip through it and stay on track with my thoughts!

 

The First Few Pages:

I use the first few pages of my NaNo journal to introduce my story to me, and generally they look a little like this:

  • Plot summary with key points about my plot/world
  • Q+A Page where I ask myself important, key questions about my world and then answer them in lengthy responses
  • Quick 3 act structure where I outline, briefly, what I want to happen in each section of my story

Character Profiles:

After those three points that I listed above, I jump straight into character profiles because I love creating my characters and getting to know them. Some things I include when describing and creating them are:

  • Their name (obviously) as well as age, “title”, background and if they have any powers
  • Personality
  • Physical appearance
  • Likes/Dislikes
  • Fears
  • Hobbies
  • Family

The Juicy Stuff:

Once character profiles are finished, I generally get into the more juicy and complex stuff. This usually takes up a few pages for each topic, and some of the topics I explore on for this part of my NaNo journal are:

  • The powers of my world that characters can or do possess
  • Possible heritages characters can have
  • Legends/myths of my world
  • History
  • More detailed 3 act structure with key plot points I want/need to hit

Random Facts:

Sometimes things about my world hit me at odd times and I don’t always generally know where they fit into my NaNo journal…so when that does happen, I usually have a page or two designated to “random facts” about my world or characters or really anything. It may be a bit messy and unorganized, but as long as I have it jotted down I am good to go.

Word Count Tracker:

This is a new feat for my NaNo journal, and basically what this section is, is a few pages where I write down day 1, day 2, day 3 and so on, and write down the word count goal I have for that day. I am a very optimistic person when it comes to NaNoWriMo and despite my hectic schedule for November, I have given myself a daily word count goal of 2000 words. Crazy I know. But I also have a section on my page where I write down what I actually wrote that day, just so I can see how unrealistic my word count goal is and whether or not I need to edit it. 2000 usually works for me which is why I chose it, but as always we will see!

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That is a basic overview of my NaNo journal and I hope you enjoyed! Comment below how you organize yourself for NaNoWriMo and also what genre of story you plan on writing; mine is fantasy! Also don’t forget to check out my last blog post: Reading/Writing Update!

Reading/Writing Update!

I have about 100 pages left of Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare, and I am determined to finish it before the weekend is over…or at least before the end of October next week. One thing I really want to do is have a mini readathon tomorrow, being Sunday, a day where I plan on having absolutely NO plans. All I want to do is sit down and finish Clockwork Angel and then jump into the next book, Clockwork Prince. Lately reading has been on the back burner, but not reading makes me so sad because all I see in my bedroom are unread, unhappy books! I really want reading to be a high priority for me, especially when I get really busy with other things because it is one of the best stress relievers.

Currently I am taking a creative writing class, and I am really enjoying it! So far I have only done a few little assignments, but it has been really interesting to see how a creative writing class is formatted and laid out since I have never taken one before. I am also scrambling to finish prepping for NaNoWriMo because it starts in 4 days! Can you believe it? I have an idea mapped out but I am still working out the plot points and some other fine detailing…fingers crossed I will be ready for Wednesday. I am also looking forward to hopefully attending a few NaNoWriMo Write-Ins at my local library, but we will see if time allows. I would love to connect with other Wrimos and just talking about NaNoWriMo has me so excited.

That is all for my reading and writing update and I hope you enjoyed. Don’t forget to check out my last blog post: November 2017 TBR…as well as all my NaNoWriMo Prep posts!