In 2021, I decided my word for my writing in 2022 would be ‘focus.’
Focus was something I really struggled with starting in 2019 when my husband was in and out of the hospital. 2020, as you can imagine, didn’t help those issues at all. But 2022 was possibly the most difficult year for me with writing.
I wrote two novellas last year. I love both of them. But it’s nowhere near what I usually manage to write.
Focus was probably not the best word to have picked.
Or maybe, it was.
I think, if nothing else, I learned a few lessons about being kind to myself. I definitely learned some painful lessons and taking a step back when I need to do so. And I also figured out when I need to push–and when not to do so when it comes to writing.
So, what did I manage by December 2022?
Farm to Fabre
Stubbed Toes and Dating Woes
How about 2023? What do I hope to achieve this year?
A Cosy Mystery novella trilogy (I’ve already wrapped up book 1.)
An Ace Romance
My word for this year is joy. To put that into action, my phrase for the year is finding what brings me joy in writing. Something I’ve found is incredibly important for me.
How about you? How did you manage in 2022? And what are you hoping to do this year?
There is so much advice online for authors. The vast majority of it always seems to be focused on neurotypical authors. It’s something I’ve always found to be quite frustrating.
Much of that advice is often something that is no help to me at all. In fact, I’ve usually found it can be detrimental to my writing process. So I thought I’d share a few things that I’ve found work for me.
I’m not an expert in anything aside from my own process.
1. If writing blog posts feels like too much? Do bullet points.
2. Make a daily to-do lists and if even one thing is crossed off–that’s a win.
3. Do creative work in the morning. I seem to be at my most creative early in the day. Whatever your ‘on’ time is, do the writing stuff then.
4. If editing is causing anxiety, do one edit/one page/fix one issue per day until it’s done.
5. Using Pomodoro Study With Me videos as a way to get things done when I’m struggling to focus:
6. If emails are stressing me out, I close out my inbox. I’ve found the majority of emails can wait. The world doesn’t end if I can’t respond immediately.
7. Boundaries matter.
8. No matter what ‘all the experts’ say. I have to find a way to make social media work for me.
9. Some days, I just can’t write. There’s no shame in taking a break.
I took four days off social media a few weeks ago. I was finding myself completely overwhelmed. Something I’ve always struggled with, but since 2020 it’s only gotten worse. So I gave myself permission to take a break.
I thought I’d share a few things that I learned in those four days.
I check Social Media, Twitter especially, far too often.
I have no need for social media apps on my phone. And I’ve removed them.
A constant deluge of ‘news’ is terrible for my mental health.
The world didn’t end because I wasn’t immediately informed of things happening.
I am in control of my social media timeline. There’s nothing wrong with muting/blocking people and tags. Boundaries are healthy.
The biggest takeaway for me was that I need to be giving myself a break from social media more often. I never realized how often I was just doomscrolling for no reason at all. So I’m trying to learn to set boundaries.
I thought it might be fun to think back over the past six or seven years of my writing career and think about the mistakes I made, especially at the beginning. No one is perfect.
Everyone screws up in one way or another.
I’m no different.
When it comes to writing itself, my biggest mistake, in the beginning, was trying to be a non-autistic author. And by that I mean, I read lots of advice in blogs, books, and online. All of it was geared towards neurotypicals (as is most self-help.)
Much of that advice is great–unless you’re autistic or neurodivergent.
And the mistake I made was trying to make myself fit into that mold. A mold I was never going to be able to fit into. Setting goals and tasks for myself that I was never going to be able to complete.
It led to burn out. Disappointment. And put me into a bad place mentally for a while.
I had to fight my way back to enjoying writing.
The biggest lesson I learned was finding what works for me.
Finding it and accepting that what works for a non-autistic author will likely not work for me. And that’s okay. It’s okay to need a little extra help from my publisher. It’s okay to not be able to do ‘all the must do things to be a successful author.’
It’s been a while since I’ve played with a new set of characters. I’ve been writing series for so long. Just bouncing from one longish series to the next. And I love all those characters, but I’m ready to discover new ones.
One of the first things I always do when creating a new character is find a visual reference. I’m not brilliant an creating an image in my mind. Some people are visual, I am not.
I know it when I see it.
But I have to see it.
So usually, I start by scanning Pinterest or maybe I’ve already seen someone on a TV show or movie or even an AD that has a vibe.
And that’s usually where the character begins to develop.
Nine times out of ten. My characters come face first. Name second. Motts is one of the rare examples of a character whose name came to me first.
I always knew she was going to be Pineapple Mottley.
But aside from Motts, it’s usually face then name.
Once I’ve figured out the face of the character, I begin building out who they are. Their interests. Their personality. I have a list of questions that fill out with a whole host of details about them from what movies they watch to what their favourite curse words are.
The goal for me is to be able to start the first chapter of my WIP fairly confident in who the character is.
The ones I’ve been using are technically ‘study with me’ videos. But they work great for writing as well. I’ve also been trying to make sure I get up and stretch during the break time. I’m terrible at sitting for long periods without moving around.
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