My Stages of Writing Preparation

As I’m in the process of writing Pickled Petunia, book 3 of my Motts Cold Case Mystery Series. I thought I’d share the stages of writing prep that I go through with most of my novels.

  1. Make a to-do list. Seems redundant, but I work best with lists. It’s a bit of a life-hack for me, as someone who is autistic and deals with executive dysfunction.
  2. Add a new section to my book series Pinterest Board.
  3. Create both a TV/Movie and music playlist. For my cosy mysteries, I watch a lot of shows like Rosemary & Thyme and Ms Fisher.
  4. Come up with a title.
  5. Read any prior books in the series.
  6. Outline + fill out my book bible.
  7. Do any research.
  8. Names for all the new characters being introduced.
  9. Update the corkboard over my desk with book inspiration. For Motts, it’s an image of Elliot Page and photo of a village in Cornwall similar to the one in the book.
  10. Pick the notebook I’m going to write in. I tend to write in a notebook then type up what I’ve written the following do. It’s almost like sneaking in an extra edit.

Those aren’t necessarily in order. Some of them happen concurrently, particularly when I’m on #6.

2020 in Review

In 2019, I decided my word for 2020 would be balance.

And about March 2020 went….

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I thought it might be fun to do a review of what I’d hoped to accomplish this year.

What did I hope to write/accomplish in 2020?

  • Motts book 2 and 3
  • Podcast book 1 and 2
  • Patreon

Where am I at in December 2020?

  • Said goodbye to Patreon
  • Finished three novels instead of four
  • Started a cozy mystery group

Over all? Given we dove headfirst into a global pandemic this year?

Not bad. Better than I imagined.

How about 2021? What do I hope to achieve next year?

  • Motts book 3 and 4
  • Podcast book 3 and maybe 4
  • Start book one of a super secret project

How about you? How did you manage in 2020? And what are you hoping to do next year?

What helps you breathe?

Given the way this year has gone, I’ve struggled to find things to help me relax. In the past few months, I’ve found a section of YouTube that fits the bill. It’s basically a kind of ASMR, I think. Japanese day in the life vloggers.

I don’t know if it’s the beautiful visuals, the calm music, or the content itself. But I find them the perfect way to relieve stress.

Here’s five of my favourites.

Rhea Y. – https://youtu.be/ONejiV8Ekgk

Nami – https://youtu.be/H9TT2m1WIIA

N Rizki – https://youtu.be/QucQXd40xkw

Miku – https://youtu.be/As-kOAizSos

Lou C. – https://youtu.be/Ptr3zPsmx90

My Cozy Mystery Playlist

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For  Poisoned Primrose, I put together a TV show playlist along with a music playlist.

So, what was I watching while I wrote?

1. Rosemary & Thyme

2. Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries

3.  Father Brown

4. Hetty Wainthropp

5. Death in Paradise

6. Vera

7. The No 1 Ladies Detective Agency

8. New Tricks

9. Miss Marple

10. Poirot

What about you?

Which of the above is your favourite?

Age of Exhaustion

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I don’t remember what my word for 2020 was. Progress? It might’ve been ‘progress’. In all honesty, whatever it was, it’s become exhaustion.

Everything lately feels exhausting.

The number of conversations I’ve had with friends about waking up tired. It’s a common thread everyone seems to be experiencing. I keep reminding myself how we’re experiencing a globally traumatic and stressful event.

It would be more shocking if we weren’t having some level of exhaustion.

Stress wears you out.

Through the pandemic, I’ve dealt with:

– Missing days. Seriously. Has anyone else just lost track of what day it and then felt like you’ve completely Missed one of them?

– Weird dreams. I am the queen of the odd dream but since the pandemic, they’ve been extra strange.

– Increased anxiety and exhaustion.

– A perpetual emotional rollercoaster.

How I’m trying to deal with it?

Being kinder to myself. Indulging in video games and reading. Accepting that some days are just not going to be productive ones.

No matter what all those ‘goal gurus’ claim. In the face of fear and anxiety, sometimes you don’t need to push through. Some days, you have to find a way to relax.

Self-care isn’t always movement.

Some days, self-care is sitting still.

What about you? How are you coping with lockdown?

 

How a Cantonese Drama Caused Me to Almost Die

 

Let me set the scene.

I’m fifteen years old. My brother’s old water game is finally mine because he left home. It’s ancient, and I want the basketball out of it.

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(Something like this, but not exactly)

So I grab a mini screwdriver and begin to try to pry the little top part off. It’s old and has basically turned into concrete. I miss it entirely, cut my hand with the screwdriver, and proceed to panic.

I panic because I’m convinced I’m going to die of tetanus.

And then I faint, narrowly missing whacking my head against the wall and hitting the hard tile instead. This is also, incidentally, the best nap I’ve ever had. Seriously. My mom was shaking me to wake me up, and it felt like I was in the best sleep of my life.

It took a lot of effort to open my eyes.

A lot.

It was the best nap ever. In retrospect, as an adult, I realize that was probably not a good sign, and my parents should definitely have taken me to the hospital. They didn’t. They were never super concerned about my health.

Anyway, so why you ask was I convinced I was going to die of tetanus?

That’s where the Cantonese drama comes in. We lived in Singapore at the time. I lived there from the ages of eight to eighteen. And every afternoon on TV, there would be a soap opera/drama type show.

This one, in particular, was Cantonese so I read the subtitles. It was set during wartime in Singapore.  I can’t remember the title. But at some point during the series, this woman, who’d been acting, as a nurse steps on a rusted nail, gets sick, and dies. Because, of course, she does.

I was a melodramatic teenager, and that terrified me.

Fun Fact: I still have a real fear of stepping on a rusted nail lol.

And that’s how a subtitled drama almost killed me lol.

Staying Focused in Crisis

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How do you write in the middle of a global pandemic?

It’s definitely a conversation going around the writing community. Here are a few things I’ve been considering/doing/whatever.

  1. I accept that some days I just don’t have the mental, physical, and/or emotional energy to put pen to paper.  I try to be kind to myself in those moments and not stress. Words will happen eventually.
  2. Write something that brings me joy. Now, at least for me, isn’t the time to write something that feels like pulling teeth.
  3. Turn off social media and the news. Nothing kills my writing vibe than a constant influx of bad and overwhelming information.
  4. Take breaks. Seriously. Take a walk, read a book, watch my favourite TV show. Anything but trying to be creative.
  5. Find a new routine. I’m autistic. Routines are in my DNA. So, I’ve definitely had to add a new normal into the structure of my day.

What are you doing to keep focused?