Summer recollections and Winter madness

Every morning when I wake up, I am immediately surprised that it’s December. Seriously, where did October and November go? Usually by this time I have already started getting tired of knitted jumpers and woollen coats (which is depressingly early in Sweden given the fact that winter lasts until May here). Not this year, though! I’ve only just started wearing them! Also, I can clearly remember the hot summer we had, and all the things that came with it. Like how difficult it was to sleep because of the heat. I remember swimming in the ocean and it not being too cold for once. I remember all the spiders on the boat during our sailing trip. Every single one of them.

My point is, summer was yesterday. Today is December and we’re already half-way to Christmas.

People around me are buying Christmas presents, decorating their homes and baking seasonal treats, and here I am, completely baffled and nowhere near the Christmas spirit that they seem to emulate. I’m just running around in circles trying to make sense of my second draft.

I suppose the reason why I’m feeling stressed by this is that I had hoped to be much further along in editing my manuscript than what I am. I had set a goal for myself to start finding beta readers in the beginning of January, and I honestly don’t think that will be possible anymore. I’m still changing things on an almost daily basis, therefore it would be impractical to let anyone read it. It’s always sad when you realise that you can’t reach a certain goal, but I’m also very much aware that when it comes to writing, patience is key. Not just any key, I mean a sneaky key that likes to play hide-and-seek.

I’m not going to beat myself up over it because that won’t make it go any faster. I’m just surprised, and a little taken aback at how fast the months fly by, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels like this! Anyway, this post was just a side note (i.e. distraction), since I’m supposed to be working on planning this week’s Youtube video. Speaking of which, I should really get back to that.

I hope everyone else is having a great week (and that you’re not panicking about the upcoming year-end)!

Shame on me!

I’ve taken a longer break from my blog than I initially intended – I must admit that. But it’s not like I’ve been procrastinating in vain, I’ve actually gotten a lot of things done! I am currently in the editing phase of the last two chapters of my second draft. It’s been a long ride, people. A whole year to be exact, since I first started writing my outline.

I suppose this is a given fact to anyone who’s writing books for a living, but I keep getting surprised at how my story grows with me as I become a better writer. It started out as a little baby first draft, and now it has certainly grown a lot bigger. Who knows what will happen once the third draft is finished! Hopefully, one day, it will spread its wings and get out into the world.

…but until then, there are more lessons to learn! This week I have focused a lot on endings in general, what makes a good ending, what is mandatory and what is superfluous etc. It has been quite the learning experience, so I decided to make it my vlog topic this week. Feel free to have a watch, let me know if you have any thoughts on the subject! 🙂

Another week has passed

Last week, my aim was to get more editing done by cutting down some of my blogging and social media time. I have to say that it has proven most effective. Like I’ve said earlier, writing and marketing are polar opposites when it comes to the mindset of the writer, and I’ve found that I struggle a lot when toggling these different mindsets. The result was simple; I got 2 chapters done instead of one.

I’ve decided to continue with this for the upcoming week, to the point where I’m even sacrificing my weekly Youtube video to get more chapters done. You’d be surprised at how much time goes into making a video of 8-10 minutes in average length! You have to plan and structure the content, record the video and edit all the raw footage into something that feels accessible and (hopefully) fun to watch. Don’t get me wrong, I love doing it and every week is such a learning experience, but it’s impossible to deny that it’s time-consuming.

I suppose this is just another experiment where I will see how much I can manage to do without any other distractions (although, there might be the occasional blog post or IG post if I need a break from editing). The reason why I really want to get more editing done is that I only have 5 chapters left! Well, for the second draft, that is. After that, I’ll start with the third draft. But I have this goal that I want to start looking for beta readers at the beginning of January, and in order to do that, I have to have a final draft.

Anyway, I hope everyone else is making progress on whatever projects they’re working on, and I hope you have a pleasant week ahead. 🙂

How can I come up with a conclusion when all I can think about is prosecco?

I know it’s not technically the end of the week yet, but I decided to end the experiment here. So – I wanted to focus on my writing this week and keep social media and blogging to a bare minimum. I did ok, only one Instagram post and one blog post. (Couldn’t resist IG, shame on me.)

The result was interesting. I’ve done almost two chapters in terms of editing. During a normal week where I try to fit in blogging and social media as well, I get one chapter done at a maximum. Like I’ve said before, the mindset is important when writing and editing, and if you’re too distracted by other things it can be damaging to your productivity. Especially when doing something creative that requires a lot of focus.

In the end, I really want to get this book finished. Sure, I’m aware that these things can’t be rushed and that it will take the time it takes, but the things I actually can control are my priorities.

I think I will try to get my expectations down a little bit when it comes to blogging/social media, at least for a few weeks. After all, what’s the point of engaging with the online writing community if I’m not actually writing? I know that sounds a bit harsh, but there’s no denying that once you can see your goal, you start feeling (very) eager to reach it.

Oh, I don’t know. Maybe I’ll try specific days for social media or something. I can’t make up my mind about it at the moment though since I’m quite hungry and it is Friday evening after all and I’m looking forward to a nice dinner with Oskar and our mutual friend Prosecco.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Two mindsets collide: Writing vs Marketing

… and it’s Monday again. For some reason, I feel like Monday is everywhere nowadays. The weeks go by so fast it’s almost as if every other day is a Monday… and I don’t like it. Usually, my Monday routine is to sit down and plan my goals for the week. It’s always good to have an overview of your expectations and such, but it becomes a bit depressing when you’re not really meeting those expectations and you have to push some of them into the following week.

I have no idea what is doing this. Is it the weather? My overall mood? Something is killing my flow. Or at least, my writing flow. I’m still making one video per week for my channel, so at least I’m consistent there. I have talked before about my struggles when it comes to balancing marketing and writing, and I have to admit, it feels as though it’s only getting harder.

The funny thing is, I know I’m not alone in this, and that makes me all the more worried. I’ve seen other writers struggle with making Youtube and other social media secondary to their writing. I know this struggle, I feel it every day. It’s because you need to balance two very different mindsets and try to control your aptitude for them on any given hour of the day. If that sounds exhausting, it’s because it is.

The writing mindset is solitary, focused and creative, with emphasis on the word solitary. You, your imagination and your words are the only things that matter. The marketing/social media mindset is the opposite. That’s when you need to be outgoing, accessible, open-minded, the key word here being outgoing. That’s usually a lot more difficult for an introvert, and therefore requires more energy.

This is where we have the issue. I spend far too much energy on the marketing side of things, so much so that I barely have any left for my writing. I think I need to re-evaluate some of my time management this week. I will do a little experiment and focus on my writing – blogging and other social media like Instagram will be given little to no attention. The only exception is Youtube. I will still upload a video but that will basically be all the marketing I do this week.

So, we’ll see how this goes! Wish me luck!

Cheers everyone & have a great week!

Is it a good idea to talk about personal thoughts and feelings on Youtube?

So, I know I’ve already made a post about why I’m not doing Nanowrimo, and most likely never will. But I decided to get my thoughts into a video, so that’s what I’ve done this week. Today’s vlog is definitely of a personal nature. I’m putting it all out there, the stress and pressure that can cause anxiety, the feeling of being left out as well as conflicting emotions of introverts and people with social anxiety when it comes to events within the writing community. In other words, I’m pretty vulnerable here.

I have no idea what sort of response this video will get, if it will get any at all. (Although I suppose no response is always better than a bad response!) But it has been my goal from the start to be honest and personal on my Youtube channel, because I know I enjoy it when watching other creators being relatable and human in their videos. That sort of thing doesn’t come easy though, you have to dare to be yourself on this huge platform, despite the risk of getting attention from unfriendly people. The mere fact that you’re putting yourself out there is actually pretty daunting.

So – if anyone reading this decides to give my new vlog a watch, just know that I would be tremendously grateful if you would give it a thumbs up or even a comment to show support and friendliness. (Should you be interested in watching any other of my videos, click here to get to my channel.) Cheers everyone, and have a great Thursday!

Lost in Nanowrimo Land

Don’t get me wrong – I love the online writing community. I don’t think I’d be where I am today in my manuscript without it. It’s been a tremendous help, both in support and advice, and I’ve connected with some really lovely people.

But…

There’s something in the culture of the community that tends to get really obsessive sometimes. Especially now – it’s November, meaning Nanowrimo, short for National Novel Writing Month. The goal for anyone that participates is to write 50k words in the month of November, usually as a first draft for a novel. It’s a challenge, so to speak.

I’m generally on board with this premise. I’m not participating, but I can understand the appeal and why people would want to give it a try. What I find a little frustrating though is the insane hype about this all around social media. No matter where you look – on Instagram, Twitter, Youtube or even Facebook of all places, nothing else is discussed but Nanowrimo.

With the added hype of October, called Preptober (well isn’t that clever), that means two whole months where the online writing community is at a full stop on all things not related to Nano. I usually try to be a positive person, but I can’t help but being a little disappointed at this. The new thing is also about not making the writing process a solitary experience, now it’s all about live streaming writing sprints (?) and being part of a team to help “win” Nanowrimo. Not participating in this has become synonymous with being an outsider in a community supposedly full of introverts. It’s madness, truthfully.

I mean sure, if you’re into that then good for you. I just find it really strange, but that’s just my opinion. I’m going to continue working on editing my manuscript and hope that the obsessiveness goes down a bit in a couple of weeks.

My unattainable satisfaction of a proper working structure

I’ve always been a big fan of the slow and steady. Being in control of every aspect of my life is my constant, ever-persistent goal. I’m just one of those people who are genuinely frightened of spontaneity, and all forms of surprises are met with reluctance, fear and excessive sweating.

I suppose it’s no surprise that I’m naturally gifted at staying home and work by myself. I’ve always been a firm believer in that, wherever we have a weakness, we are equally strong in something else. Humans are creatures of nature, and nature will always strive for balance.

(There is, however, an ugly truth for people like me. Having 100% control in all aspects of your life is close to impossible. This means that no matter how hard I try – how diligent I am in my work – in the end there will always be more left to do. It’s just one of those harsh realities that I’ve come to accept. Reluctantly, but still.)

This should give you some idea of how I go about my daily life. Simply put, I like planning.

I’ve recently come to the realisation that planning and creative work don’t go that well together. It’s like oil and milk. There is a general rule of thumb that says all writers (or rather, anyone who wants to take their writing seriously) should value routine over inspiration. Contrary to popular belief, inspiration doesn’t write books. Only routine does – and here’s where things get tricky. For some reason, I’m constantly fighting this.

Yes, I know. I’m contradicting myself.

There’s something about the creative work that makes me want to challenge everything that I stand for. I’m finding it difficult to plan my creativity, which makes me frustrated. It’s like trying to trap something abstract and delicate – it slips through my fingers like water. Don’t get me wrong, this is not some excuse for not working. I’m always working, whether it be on my manuscript, character or worldbuilding, my Youtube channel, blog/social media or concept art. Always.

It’s the lack of structure that irks me. I’ve tried so many different approaches to this and I can’t seem to find one that works in the long run. Having a good structure for the creative work as well as a suitable divide between that and marketing is my main concern. I can’t seem to get it right, and it triggers my inner (and outer) control freak. I end up running in circles for a while before going back to square one.

Well, this was a cheerful rant. How satisfying it would be if the ending paragraph involved some sort of magical solution. Not today, I’m afraid. All I can say for sure is; if anyone who’s reading this feels the same way about their work and life, you’re not alone! The only thing we can do is to keep trying and take it one day at a time, slow and steady and all that.

What to do when stuck on the mid-point of your story…?

I’ve talked about it before, but I find the mid-point of a story to be one of the most important parts of the book. That’s why I didn’t stop at merely blogging about it, I also made it the topic of this week’s Youtube video!

It’s always a valuable experience whenever you struggle with something. It forces you to think outside the box for a solution, and many times, you end up seeing things a little differently. The aim of this vlog is to share this experience in the hopes of connecting with other writers. Feel free to share any thoughts in the comments!

How a corny teen movie can change your outlook on life

So there I was, browsing through Netflix and waiting for my newest video to load into the program, and I came across some of those typically “corny” movies that families watch around Christmas. They are full of clichées and over-the-top characters. Most of them are about teens, bonus points if they’re troubled, and the plot is all about them fighting to reach their dreams. It’s usually something active, like figure skating, gymnastics or dancing. Now, I’m a big tragedy enthusiast, but my poor little heart has a real soft spot for these movies.

I kid you not. I watched a movie called Ice Princess and cried real, adult tears. (All this girl ever wanted was to be a figure skater! Why couldn’t her mum just be supportive?!)

I realise that I’m not these movies’ typical audience, they’re generally intended for teens who’re still trying to figure out what they want from life. To be fair, I figured that out less than 10 months ago and I will be 30 next year. Come to think of it, maybe more adults should watch movies like this (I do think you need to watch alone though, as I think it would be far too easy to make fun of it if you have company).

In a way it was like a time warp and a wish fulfilment – all in one. The familiar “oh to be young again” nostalgia mixed with a nauseating remembrance of what it was like actually being a teenager. No matter how nostalgic we might feel about our teen years, in the end we’re usually pretty relieved they’re in the past.

So what did I really gain from this experience? Apart from getting really sentimental, I also found it surprisingly inspirational. No matter how ridiculous these movies can be at times, the moral of the story is usually to follow your dreams and dare to fight for them. I see so many adults that dream of doing something different with their lives, but they never actually do it. They are comfortable with their normal jobs even if it isn’t exactly what they wanted. They’re afraid to risk that comfort and go into unfamiliar territory, no matter how much they dream of it.

I was that person once, but when given an opportunity to change things – I took it. The situation I’m in now is somewhat similar. I’m determined to become a published author, and I’m fully prepared to fight for this dream to become a reality. Sometimes, we need to evoke our inner teenager to awaken that obsession that makes us go for it. I guess these corny teen movies reminded me of this – that even if I feel low or unmotivated, the fight isn’t over as long as my goal is worth it.