Tuesday feels like Monday

Does anyone else think that Tuesday always feels like an extension of Monday? Seriously. This ginormous cup of coffee isn’t even cutting it today for me.

I normally can write in my office with the door wide open. It’s my writing space, but here we go. I’m going to pack up my coffee cup, laptop, and sit outside to enjoy the afternoon while I write. It’s 85 degrees here. Which is markedly cooler compared to the high 90’s and 100 temperatures we were getting here in Colorado.

The nights are getting cooler too. A subtle sign that Fall time is a few weeks away. Which means one last camping trip in the mountains.

Lots of love.

H.C

What is your brand?

I took the past few days off to think about a few things. One of my self-published author friends told me, “What do you want at the end of the day? Whatever that is, it’s your brand. There are no rules. It’s just going to be your unique and individual thumbprint in the publishing industry.”

I thought about it a long and hard. Romance? Horror? Young Adult? Fiction? Crime thrillers? Thriller? Psychological horror? Suspense?

You can see where I’m going.

My career as a ghostwriter centered around romance and erotica. Sometimes 10ks. Other times, it was 80ks. It varied depending on the client, but they all had one thing in common– to profit. It’s not a secret that some “authors” on the Amazon best seller list push out 4-5 10ks a week through a group of ghostwriters quickly because it keeps them high on the list, but it’s quick and easy money to them. I’ll go into my own personal experiences with all of that at a later date…

We all dream of maybe making a couple bucks off our writing. We have families and lives to financially support. The problem that I noticed was that some of these clients didn’t seem to really want to take the time to construct thoughtful novels. They wanted money quick and fast. I missed deadlines all the time because I wanted to put more into it than what they wanted. I felt burnt out trying to meet their expectations.

Maybe that’s why I can’t write a romance anymore? It’s a matter of confidence. When you spend five years of your life writing professionally for others, putting your own needs aside, you end up drained.

So, I did some reflecting. I pulled out a few things that I’ve drafted in the past. I sat down and read through Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects. I scanned my bookshelves as well. It hit me right there and then: Psychological Suspense.

I’ve always gravitated around it. Liane Moriarty novels anyone? Stephen King? I have been devouring their books recently.

I think I’ve found exactly what I want at the end of the day.

With love,

H.C.

Photo by Lennart kcotsttiw from Pexels

Taking Tea Breaks.

Writing is an energetic, but draining process. I have three projects going at the same time.  I’m constantly battling the insecurities and doubts. I have to turn my inner editor off because she can be a real character sometimes. I dealt with an increasingly cranky five-year-old bouncing around in my office all afternoon– even with the timer.

Life happens. It’s a balancing act some days. Don’t mind the clutter that I dropped around my feet today.

It occurred to me that not writing 3,000 words in one day is perfectly okay. Not every single day runs the way I hope it will, but showing up to the keyboard for at least fifteen minutes is better than zero.

Tension Tamer tea. The best tea ever.

Staying Productive On The Bad Days

I started this blog for one specific reason– to share this journey into self-publishing from scratch. By scratch I mean, only having $1.00 in my bank account at the moment, behind on all the bills, and no idea if my dreams will work.

The only thing that keeps me going is my lust to write stories. I couldn’t do it anymore for anyone else because ghostwriting for other “authors” has officially exhausted me. The ridiculous expectations, 20k word counts, and deadlines… it was just too much! I felt so burned out at the end of the day that I couldn’t even muster enough creative juice to work on my own ideas.

Life also has a tendency to get in the way too. I woke up this morning feeling like I was sucker punched in face. Caffeine isn’t even doing it, so I’m back to some helpful things I learned from my previous client who publishes 5-7 books a month on her own.

  1. Eat healthy snacks.

    Almonds. Granola bars. Popcorn. Grapes. Slices of cheese. Things like that to keep your energy up.

    I’ll admit it. I’ve eaten a bag of potato chips in one sitting, or had two slices of pie for the sugar rush. Who doesn’t like a slice of turtle pie after lunch?

  2. Limit caffeine. 

    Said no writer and parent ever. My doctor is the only who has suggested this. I tried it for two days. I ended up with a major headache that never went away along with a sour stomach. Sorry, Doc. It’s just not possible.

  3. Take breaks.

    The break thing is touch and go. It’s important, but when I’m personally in a good writing rhythm I will keep going until I no longer can.

    If inspiration is running dry because you slept like crap the previous night, take thirty minute breaks. Get up. Walk outside. Listen to some heart thumping music to get your blood going again.

  4. Move your work outside if you can.

    I love to write outside. The warm sunshine can instantly perk my mood and energy right back up thanks to all that Vitamin D. I’ll even do it in the Fall time when it’s crisp and refreshing.

    Even if you can’t bring your computer with you, or want to keep your work inside your office, sit outside for your thirty minute break. I sometimes just sit on the edge of my patio to inhale some fresh mountain air and feel the sunlight.

Tips on writing through the chaos of motherhood

My daughter turned five years old this year. A sweet, sassy, and energetic little being that is now just beginning her journey into school. She starts transitional kindergarten this year. Which means I will have WAY more time and energy to dedicate myself to writing.

I’m 1,362 words in My Turn To Hurt You. I kept thinking to myself, “Damn. That is nothing compared to what I used to write as a ghostwriter.” Freelancing back when my daughter was younger meant I could write during naps and early bedtime.

I leave my daughter alone for more a few minutes these days and then–BAM! Something is either broke, missing, or there’s a decent sized bruise on her leg from playing the floor is lava game.

I spent this past summer desperately trying to balance a freelance career and my daughter staying home with me full-time. I won’t lie. I’m like any other mom out there in the world that loses her shit and breaks down, but I did find some useful tips out there to keep me productive.

  1. Set a schedule
    I’ll be honest. As much as I love my iPhone, I hate the calendar, and if I don’t pencil something down physically on a piece of paper, it will slip through my mind. Mom brain consists of three meals a day, snacks, activities, temper tantrums, and the chaos of trying to get a five-year-old to go to bed. Doesn’t happen easily.

    Planner’s were a godsend for me. I could see when projects were due, but also where I had the time to write. Which usually happened first thing in the early morning when Paw Patrol and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse was on. I stuck to writing during time slots where there was less distraction. Which worked beautifully.

  2. To plot, or not to plot?
    Raise your hand if you love to outline and plot! Me, me, me!!! Writing without a plot is like bouncing around the ocean in a boat with no map and no clue of where you are.

    With my daughter on board, I get lost quickly if I don’t have an idea of what is going to happen in chapter five. There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to remember the brilliant opening paragraph that you just thought of and can’t remember! That’s why I am firm believer in taking the time to plot and flesh out the characters because it’s inevitable that you will get interrupted a few times throughout motherhood. Just saying.

  3. Make the space for writing.
    I have an office that I dedicate my serious writing time to. It’s not full of distractions. It has all my essential needs. I can close the door against noise if I really need too. Even a semi-comfortable chair to sit in while I type.

    The great thing about making a physical space is that it sets boundaries and respect for my child. She understands that my office is mine, so she treats it differently. If I’m in my office writing, she will bring in her own chair and scribble in a notebook until I am done.

  4. Buy a timer.
    A writing colleague of mine suggested this when she asked what held me back from my writing goals. The lack of time. Let’s face it. There is not enough hours during the day to get anything you want done. When you’re trying to write with a bored and bouncing child at your side, you spend more time trying to plead with them than actually write.

    So, I bought a timer. I made it a game. “When this timer goes off in twenty minutes, you can get a cookie.” Some might think that’s a horrible idea. I recently had a mother accuse of me being neglectful (as you can clearly see in the picture above) of my daughter. We’re talking an hour or two out of the day that needs to be dedicated to writing. My daughter now sits and reads her books until the timer goes off. Writing in sprints is how I manage to do anything.

  5. Take breaks.
    I told my clients a long time ago that my writing schedule will always be Monday through Friday. I rarely write on the weekends for work, and I make it a point to not work past a certain hour in the evening. That is my time to relax and enjoy the weekends as a family unit– not me tucked away in my office.

    Taking breaks is critical to recharging as a writer, but also as a mother. Our brains are on all the time. I’m writing this now on a Sunday morning because Grandma swung by to take my daughter to Target. To let me have some peace and quiet, but I obviously haven’t taken this tip to heart yet because I am ready to write. I do plan to take a nap though when my daughter comes home tired and ready for a nap too.

With love,

H.C.