Signs you’re Experiencing Burn-Out

Hello there, readers! It’s me again, back at it with some self-targeted advice. I experienced some hardcore burn-out in the recent months and am only just now realizing that I show some very obvious tell-tale signs before I completely become useless to all my creative projects. I wanted to compile these signs here so both you and I can recognize them and identify them when we feel ourselves becoming less and less motivated. Usually they are indicators that I just need to step back and give myself a break from my work before starting back on it so here’s hoping both you and I can recognize these signs better in the future.

1. Constantly feel guilty and like you should be doing more.

I am the queen of self-induced guilt. I feel like I should always be doing something. All the time. Life is short after all? This sign usually shows up as a sort of guilt-inducing self talk. It tends to come in the form of phrases such as “You should REALLY be working on X.” and “Why didn’t you do X, today?? You had so much time!”.

2. You procrastinate.

I can procrastinate a lot in general but I find my procrastination spikes to new peaks when I am actively burning out. I find myself consistently putting something off, that is a sign of burn-out right there.

3. You feel tired all the time.

Forcing myself to work on something makes me twice as tired than normal. This is because I have to spend energy making myself motivated and then spend energy actually doing the task. And what’s even worse is it’s often a task I once enjoyed which segues right into my next point which is…

4. You can’t remember the last time you enjoyed your work.

Generally I burn out on tasks that I once enjoyed quite a lot. They’re generally hobbies. This means I CHOOSE to do them for FUN. At least I used to. But sometimes I can’t remember the last time I wanted to draw or work on my story.

5. You feel uninspired.

Writer’s or Artist’s block persists when I am becoming burnt-out. It’s not that I don’t care. It’s just my creative juices tend to not flow as freely. It’s almost like those times in school when you find yourself staring at a math problem of sorts FOREVER. Then you get up, walk away from it, and come back to find yourself knowing the solution all along. You just needed a break in order to remember it.

6. You feel exhausted before you even do tasks.

Similarly to the “being tired all the time” issue, you find that the mere thought of doing certain tasks makes you tired. It’s this weird pull of wanting to do something but also DEFINITELTY NOT wanting to do something.

So, now that we got the signs out of the way, how do we fix it? What is the solution? Usually it’s simple. Usually its something like taking a break for a day or two. Sometimes its taking a LONG break depending on how intense the burn-out is. Sometimes it’s finding a new source of inspiration to reignite one’s passion for what they originally loved. It often depends on the individual. But whatever the case may be, remember creation should be fun. And if it’s not, it is not a crime to stop creating. Often life feels like a chore and it’s our own faults. Awhile back I came to the realization that many of expectations I felt weighing on my chest were my own. And while that’s was a hard pill to swallow, there was a bright-side to that scenario. It was in my power to fix it.

The thing is it is often our own expectations that lead us to burn out. And it sucks. But it also means that there is something I can do about it.

Tips for Creating Better Characters

Just a selection of short, to-the-point tips on how to make more compelling and believable characters. Enjoy & let me know your thoughts on them in the comments below. Would you add anything to this list? What helps you create more interesting characters when you write?

Think about how your character fits into the larger universe and narrative.

Develop their goals and ambitions. This is what drives them and their actions through the story and every character (even side characters) have these.

Consider giving them some interesting ticks or habits. People are extremely habitual creatures.

Consider how their actions make sense on a personal level and in view of what they want.

Consider how their weaknesses are connected to their strengths. Usually our flaws are oversteps of our positive attributes. A few examples:

Someone is passionate and driven but can also be reactive and obessesive.

Someone who is laid-back and chill but can also be lazy.

Someone who is hard working but can be easily carried away and consumed by what they do and has a hard time drawing boundaries between their work and personal life.

Consider their actions from the point of view of the reader.

Think about their actions from the point of view of the other characters. Does this action make sense to them or catch them by surprise?

Ask yourself how the arc of this character plays into the bigger narrative and message you are trying to portray through this story. Does it work? Does it make sense?

Good characters can make or break a story. Focus heavily on the characters. You don’t want to waste a clever or wonderful story idea by butchering the execution by means of undeveloped or unbelievable characters. They are the heart of the story and the eyes of the reader.

Things to Remember as an Anxious Creator

Being a creator of any sorts whether it be a writer, an artist, or anything in between can be an awesome experience with the internet. More than ever before, you can share your work with a larger audience than you would have ever imagined. But, if you’re anything like me, this can come with its own set of stresses. Especially if you’re a people pleaser, sharing your work can be a tough process especially when you find yourself fighting with your own insecurities. What was once fun and freeing can turn into a huge stressor as you worry about how people perceive you and the work you produce. So I composed this list of “Things to Remember as an Anxious Creator”. I’m not saying it going to fix some of the stressful aspects of being a creator who posts their work online but it may help you remember that the important thing about creating is that you enjoy the process and at the end of the day, no one can make everyone happy. Which, coincidentally, is the first reminder.

1.You can’t make everyone happy.

It’s unrealistic to think otherwise. The things you create won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. Additionally, there are always going to be people who think you should be doing something differently. And while one should make room for constructive criticism, at the end of the day, your work will speak to some people and not to others. And that’s okay.

2. Nothing you create will be perfect. Take pride in your work but don’t agonize over it.

You are an imperfect person. So, by proxy, you will create imperfect art. You are always going to think you that you could have done something differently in a piece when looking back on it. That’s good, that means you’re improving. But don’t discredit your past work as being useless because it’s not perfect. Additionally, don’t discredit your present or future work because it’s not perfect either.

3. Don’t take every critique or criticism as gospel.

Listen to people’s advice but if you took in and applied everything people said about your work, it wouldn’t look like your work any more which would be an even bigger tragedy than producing something imperfect. Learn to filter the criticism and apply where you think it is needed.

4. Also note, that criticism is still good.

Don’t let the stressful thought of listening to others make you plug your ears and ignore ALL OF IT. This benefits no one and especially not you. You’ve got to walk the line between “taking all criticism” and “taking no criticism at all”. There is a happy medium to be found.

Also note that is still valid to walk about from some criticism when you feel like you cannot handle it AT THAT SPECIFIC TIME. If you are feeling that you are not in a good mental space to accept to respond to people’s critiques, it is good to recognize that and walk away from it and return to it when you feel you can handle it in a healthy way.

5. Perfectionism inhibits the artistic vision.

Don’t get in your head that as soon as you start a project that it must be perfect. I know I have reiterated this already but it is such a common struggle among artists that I feel the need to remind you again. If begin to fall into the lie that everything you make needs to be on a masterful level, you will most likely experience a sort of “creator’s paralysis” and will become so scared of creating something imperfect that you will not create at all.

Aaaaand I know this because I do this. A lot. And I have to continually remind myself that perfectionism has only ever hindered my act of making something. It never helped it.

6. Taking a break is okay.

Remember you are not a machine. Taking a step back from creating for a little while it healthy and you are more likely to return to your work with a fresher perspective and clear mind which will result in even better and more inspired art work!

Breaks are good.

7. Creating is supposed to be fun.

If you are stressed over your work constantly, it might be time to pause and take a step back and evaluate as needed. Creating is not supposed to be a pain staking act every step of the way. Also note that sometimes we are made to enjoy something only for a time and then move on. If you find yourself constantly hating the act of making your art, it may be time to change how you are approaching that art, or take a break from being an artist entirely. We all need to do this sometimes with all kinds of work, not just creating.

For example, if I found myself dreading the very thought of working every day in my field of expertise, that would be a sign that I would need to pause and evaluate my choice of career. Whether this means changing it entirely or simply switching to another job in the same career field but with a slightly different approach to that thing, depends on how I feel.

It doesn’t make you a failure to do this. Life is too short to force yourself to subject yourself to something that you hate on a daily basis. I repeat, take a step back.

And I think that’s it. Those are all the big reminders I have to tell myself as an anxious creator. I hope you got some sort of insight from them! If so, maybe consider following my blog as I post a lot of content similar to this on my little space here. I also encourage you to leave any thoughts you have on these reminders in the comments below and whether or not these helped you! Is there a specific one that you struggle with? For instance the *cough* perfectionism *cough* one? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Have a lovely day & take care of yourself!

Let’s Talk about your Artistic Vision

And specifically how it pertains to your writing.

Picture this scenario:

You get struck by a lightning bolt of inspiration. A marvelous and clever writing idea is nagging at the back of your head and now you’re excited to get it out on paper. You start typing or scribbling away, determined to create a modern masterpiece. The novel of the century.

Then you read it back and…you hate it.

Well, not hate it exactly… it just seems off. It feels clunky or unnatural. You struggle to convey your idea in a manner which comes off as concise. You’re disappointed in yourself. You pictured that this piece would practically write itself. What are you doing wrong? Could it be that you’re simply not cut out to be a writer??

First off, let me answer that question right away- NO. IF YOU DESIRE TO WRITE AND ENJOY WRITING, YOU ARE, IN FACT, CUT OUT TO WRITE AND, BY PROXY, BE A WRITER.

Phew, now that we got that out of the way, we can start dissecting what might be the core issue behind this scenario. I’d be willing to bet that this has happened to near all of us. We come up with a brilliant idea, picture exactly the vibe we must capture and then fumble and struggle to actually put this idea in action and on paper. We fill stupid and inept. So what’s going on?

I think more than likely, you need your writing skill to catch up with your creative vision.

“More than likely, you need your writing skill to catch up with your creative vision.”

Sometimes the best ideas can be incredibly difficult to write. And this is not a sign that you lack the ability to write it or it’s an impossible idea- it simply means you need more practice. It means you need more time. Time in which you hone your writing skills so you CAN execute this idea. The issue is, that people often don’t like to hear, the practice that is required is you badly writing this idea and gaining the skills along the way.

THIS IS WHY WE HAVE FIRST, SECOND AND SOMETIMES EVEN THIRD OR FOURTH DRAFTS.

You’re probably not going to find your rhythm in writing this idea right away. This will happen slowly the more and more you work on it. That’s why sometimes, when you write a longer piece and you go back to your beginning, you will find errors in the work you had completed merely months of even weeks ago.

The unfortunate thing about being a writer, is we largely learn on the job.

Sometimes we have to power through this part of the writing experience. It doesn’t mean we’re a bad writer. It just means we have a complex idea that we don’t have the practice or skillset to pull off yet. But, if we keep writing and honing our talent, we should accomplish this eventually, and, after a draft or two, pull off the idea exactly how we had pictured in our head.

Best of luck to you, fellow writer! May we power through together!

Things I’ve learned while Writing Crime

Hello, lovelies! I hope you are all doing well this fine day! Currently I am waiting between classes and I thought what better way to spend my time than writing a fun blog post about the various odd tips and facts I’ve found out while working on my precious baby of a novel. For those of you who have been lucky enough to not hear me ramble about my novel for minutes on end, I am writing a YA Fantasy Mystery centered around the attempted murder of Snow White. And boy has it been a project.

Now normally, I fall down many research rabbit holes on a pretty regular basis when writing. But this little problem has worsened as I’ve gotten into writing the genre of crime and mystery. Mostly because there’s just a lot to research in general. But let’s try and a narrow it down a bit in order to aid any future crime/mystery writers reading this.

1. Research guns

There is so much variety in the gun world. And you don’t have to know everything there is to know, but if you are having one of your characters pull out a pistol, you should know a little bit about how a pistol works and the basic parts of a gun. Again, it doesn’t have to be strangely specific. Just have a general knowledge.

2. Research poisons if you plan on using them.

Especially their potency, appearance, side effects, and the amount of time they take to cause death. Agatha Christie’s novels were so accurate describing poison and its effects that people could use her books as a poison reference manual. And while you don’t have to be that iconically precise, just like with guns, you should have a basic knowledge of how your choice of poison works and its effects on people.

3. Research signs of specific deaths.

This should go without saying but if your detective identifies your victim as having been strangled, there should be some physical signs of this. The same with drowning. Or suffocation.

Basically whatever means of death or weaponry you employ, research it. Just in case.

Now let’s get to some more general tips about writing crime or mystery stories all together.

1. Work backwards

Try your best to keep your story straight and have a clear timeline in your head. One way to develop this is work backwards from your crime. Start with the crime and then slowly work your way to the clues for your main character to pick up on. This also helps you from writing yourself into glaring plot holes concerning the functionality of your specific crime.

2. Don’t agonize

All that being said, don’t agonize too long over every single detail not being filled in concerning your story. It just has to generally make sense. If one wanted to get picky, I bet you could pick out plot holes in Sherlock Holmes and his deductions but at the end of the day, it’s not about being 10000000% accurate and precise. It’s about telling a story.

3. You get better with practice

It felt overwhelming at first trying to keep track of all my characters and clues when writing but over time, my story became clearer and clearer to me. And this was all done by actually writing it out and working through specific problems and scenes by getting them out on paper. So if you feel a little scatterbrained or find yourself agonizing over your crime story, don’t worry. Just like with everything, it gets easier with practice.

Alrighty! I think that’s it! Hope you found something useful in this little list of tips! Thanks for reading & Happy writing!

How to Juggle being a Writer & Student

Hello everyone! It’s me! Winter break has been kind to my thus far and I am super relieved finals are over at long last. And even though I’ll miss some of my teachers and class, overall, I’m excited I don’t have to worry about the whole writing & school juggling thing that I have to do for the majority of the year.

Admittedly, some weeks I’m better at it than others. But I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t picked up a few tips and tricks along the way that help me balance writing and doing homework/attending classes like a good college student. And here are a few.

Read

Reading gets your brain in that “book” mindset. It helps exercise your brain and keeps you sharp and in the zone to write. Plus, reading other people’s books is always a marvelous way for you to pick up writing nuances and techniques that you could employ in your own work when you finally have the time to work on it.

Write between classes

Filling up the random chunks of time you have between classes with a bit of writing never hurt anyone. In fact, you don’t even need to sit down and write for a long time. I had a goal of a 200 daily word goal throughout the semester and while I didn’t manage it everyday, most times I met it while writing between my biology lab and poetry class.

Write on breaks

I mean during Winter break, spring break- whatever you feel like you can manage. But I do caution people in the event that they really need the mental break for themselves and not for writing, that is 100% fine too. I did that many times throughout the school year. At first it made me feel guilty as I felt I was wasting precious writing time, but really, sometimes the mental rest is worth more.

Write in more chill ways

For example, journaling. Or roleplaying with your friends. Or writing a blog post. Or setting a timer for five minutes to crank out a flash fiction piece. Writing a little or badly is better than not writing at all. Quantity over quality is a philosophy that applies to writing as you naturally get better with more practice.

★Be kind to yourself

Just keep in mind that you’re student. You have limits. And school is going to cut into your writing time quite a bit. That’s just the reality of it. School also might cut into your “mental space” to where you don’t have the brain power to write all the time. And that’s fine too. It’s a hard thing, juggling two parts of yourself, and sometimes you just need to step away from it all and just be a person.

Not a writer.

Not a student.

Just you.

And that is enough.

Master list of Writing Motivation

Just a list of reasons that keep me working on that book or fiction piece. None of which is money or reaching a word count. Those motivations won’t last very long I don’t think. It’s the hope that someday, I will touch someone with my work and they may not feel so alone-that’s why I keep writing… along with the following reasons (some of which are a little silly and self indulgent but I don’t know of any other writer who hasn’t thought about if their book was adapted to a movie so don’t judge me). So, without further ado, the reasons to continue writing are as follows…

The feeling of reaching that plot twist

Getting to write that scene.

Improving your writing ability

Being able to be published in a literary journal.

Holding your published book in your hands.

Hearing from other people who have been touched by your work.

The aesthetic of the writing life is impeccable. Drink some tea, type away on a rainy day- indulge in it.

All those crazy fantasies you have about being a writer- publishing multiple works, having people talk about it, dress up like your book characters, and have a movie made about it-these are all self-indulgent fantasies we all have as writers. But you’re never going to have a chance at any of that if you don’t write.

The thought that once you’re in the publishing and writer world, you may be able to meet some of your heroes.

You may inspire someone else to write.

Someone may look at your work and go “Thank goodness, I’m not the only one”. You may find yourself a community.

Seeing your book in a library selection.

Finding your book on a bookstore shelf, signing it, and putting it back on the shelf.

Having art made that is inspired by your work.

Just overall bettering yourself.

Making your thoughts more cohesive.

If you wish to share what personally motivates you or you have more ideas for this list, feel free to comment below! Take care!

~B

Tips on Writing like Tolkien

Know your world. Know it well. Explore every corner.

Immerse yourself in every type of writing. Especially poetry.

Take your time. Quality over quantity.

Take pride in your work.

Have inherit values that can shine through your work.

Write what you believe in.

Write about the magic of the mundane as well as the bigger events and ideas. Regular people and regular events occur even when something historical is taking place and don’t be afraid to focus on that every now and then.

Show the beauty of the world your hero is saving.

Seriously immerse yourself in your work. Pay close attention to the details.

Remember that no character is infallible.

Have a deep lore to your work that shines through, even if its not directly talked about or addressed. It is part of the backdrop of the story and will contribute to the depth of your world.

Take time to describe things in your story from buildings, to meals, to scenery. Don’t shy away from describing something in detail every once in awhile.

Have faith in your reader’s attention span.

Perks of being a Writer

There are a lot of reasons I love writing. The expression, the escapism, the feeling of improving your craft just to name a few. But sometimes I can lose sight of these things. I place a lot of pressure on myself to perform well at many tasks in my day to day life. School, work, and anything in between. As a result, sometimes I exert this pressure upon myself when it comes to writing. On my bad days, I can sometimes lose sight of why I love doing this. So I composed a little list, more for myself than anything, of reasons I love the art form of putting your thoughts in pen.

Your work will outlive you and you leave something behind.

Not to be a wet blanket or anything, but sometimes I think about how long the world has been around and how very brief my existence is in it. It just puts things in perspective. But the thought that maybe someone years after I’m gone could stumble across any of my work and feel connection, makes me feel sunny inside.

You get the joy of exploring ideas and concepts without being bound to reality.

Reality can be a bit of a downer. This probably can go into the same category of escapism. Sometimes It’s nice to “play God” a little in your world and not be bound by the laws that actually govern you in the real world. You have freedom to explore whatever you wish.

You get to explore parts of yourself that you probably didn’t know.

I figured this out the more I started writing vent poetry that will never see the light of day. But I did find it very therapeutic and it helped me work through stuff and vocalize certain parts of myself that wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. Something about putting your thoughts in rhyme makes it almost fun and digestible even if the part of me the piece represents isn’t my favorite to look at.

You have the ability to touch people through your work.

Probably one of the biggest why’s as to why I write. Writing touched me as a young person (specifically during my lonely middle school days). I hope that my work can do the same for someone else, and perhaps make someone out there feel a little less lonely.

Increasing your knowledge of language and how to communicate with people.

English as a subject wasn’t always my favorite. It wasn’t terrible, don’t get me wrong, but I found I liked it much more in practice than when its broken down into rules and definitions. But one thing I did find and the more I wrote and read, the easier this subject got. Probably because English, like most all languages, is easier to learn in practice and the more you toy around with it.

You can live hundreds of lives.

Coming back ’round to the mortality thing, there are many things I will not get to experience. But writing offers me a little window into the many lives I will never truly live and I think that’s really special.

It doesn’t really cost you anything.

As a broke college student, this is a MARVELOUS perk. A healthy hobby that doesn’t dost anything is invaluable.

You can write for a long, long time.

A wonderful thought is that I can write all through my life. It is something that, If I want it to be, can be a constant in my life. I am not bound by the physical tax that puts an expiration date on many hobbies. I can write well into my older years, and that comforts me more and more with each passing year.

Being An All or Nothing Writer

One of the many writing struggles I have had to overcome as I write more and more is the issue that I tend to be an “all or nothing” person. And that transcends to nearly everything I do, including to my writing. So what does this look like exactly?

Well, for me personally, it looks like writing 4,000 words in an evening and then not touching the project for 4 months. It looks like powering through the first couple of chapters of a book and then going “alright, I’m not feeling this anymore”, and walking away.

And it sucks.

I have unfinished projects everywhere that include stories and other creative projects alike. I covered this in a similar way in my other blog post “The Struggles of a Project Bouncer”, one of the first Writing Blog posts I posted on this blog. In this post, I focused on this is a broad sense in that I have a bad habit of just jumping from one thing to another and not seeing stuff through to the end. And this seems to be particularly bad when it comes to my writing.

And the solution?

Well, it’s kind of boring, not gonna lie. It’s the answer to like 75% of must problems writer’s have and a lot of people have for that matter (myself included).

Self. Discipline.

Yuck. I don’t like that word. But it really is the answer to this “all or nothing” problem I have. But to get more specific, what does “self discipline” look like when it comes to pacing myself so I actually finish something in less than two years as oppose to typing out three chapters and walking away for 6 months?

Well, for me it looks like a writing schedule. And one that I stick to.

Everyone’s writing schedule looks different. In fact, many people measure it in different ways. Some people set the goal of writing X amount of chapters every week or month and others set their goal in amount of words. This seems to be the most common strategy.

Getting back to my particular solution, my goal tends to be around 5,000 words every week which comes to about 700 words every day which I know is manageable, at least in the summer time (my plan changes when school starts back of course). And even though I don’t stick to it perfectly, I find the pacing helps me see writing a more of a habit and something I do more consistently as oppose to a project I add to when the moon is in the sky just right and I actually feel like writing. Because If I do that, come to find out, I never get it done.

So if you’re an “All or nothing” writer like me, I definitely recommend trying this strategy. Try setting a goal and pacing yourself and resist the urge to spit up 5,000 words in one sitting and then running away.

You can do it! You can finish that story or that book! I believe in you!