Four Days of Silence

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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.

  1. I check Social Media, Twitter especially, far too often.
  2. I have no need for social media apps on my phone. And I’ve removed them.
  3. A constant deluge of ‘news’ is terrible for my mental health.
  4. The world didn’t end because I wasn’t immediately informed of things happening.
  5. 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.

Do you struggle with too much time online?

The Biggest Mistake I Made…

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

…when I started writing.

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 okay to just be me.

And to just do what works for me.

Finding a New Voice

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.

My Fave YouTube Channels

Motts and I have something in common. We watch loads of YouTube. I thought I’d share some of my favourite channels.

In no particular order…

The Try Channel:

Emma Thorne

Amal Jama-Williams

JulieJo

Rachel Maksy

Alexandria Ryan

Savannah Mari

Micky Atkins

All of the Welsh brothers channels

Briannah Jewel

What’s above my desk?

So, I have a cork-board or bulletin board, or whatever you want to call it, above my desk. I use it for inspiration and a visual board for whatever book I’m working on. I thought I’d share what’s on the current one.

  1. The top half is almost entirely book inspiration. Character and place references, etc.
  2. My fave Hamilton sticker on the bottom left.
  3. A couple postcards and a card with encouraging notes from friends. Sometimes I need a little lift of my spirits.
  4. Favourite writing quotes that are always on the board.
  5. You can’t see him, but I have a little plague doctor keychain that dangles at the bottom of the board.

My Favourite Pomodoro Technique Videos

My word for the year in my writing life for 2022 is focus. 2020 and 2021 were definitely years that I struggled to focus.

Struggled so much.

And I don’t think I was the only person struggling.

Focus has always been difficult for me as an autistic but the last few years haven’t done much to help.

In an effort to manage better, i’ve begun using the Pomodoro technique once again. It’s helped me in the past. This time though, I’m using YouTube videos instead of just using a timer.

The Pomodoro Technique is essentially where you work for a certain period of time then take a break for a bit. And repeat. I usually go for 15-30 minutes then take a 5 minute break.

More about the PT here: https://francescocirillo.com/pages/pomodoro-technique

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.

My favourite channel for videos is: https://www.youtube.com/c/TheSherryFormula

This is the video in particular I’ve been using this past week for writing: