Writing Corner: Q&A With Author C.G. Drews

Hi everyone! I’m back for my Writing Corner post for April and I have a really exciting (well I hope you guys will find it exciting) post for you today! A few weeks ago I contacted C.G. Drews, who you guys will probably know better as PaperFury, one of the YA community’s most beloved and hilarious bloggers & now a brilliant YA author to see if she wanted to do an interview for this feature and very happily for me (and hopefully for you guys as well), she agreed! So I sent her over some questions about her new book The Boy Who Steals Houses (which came out in the UK on Thursday) and her general experience in writing and publishing, and I have her answers here for you guys today, so I hope you enjoy them:

  1. Q: Could you for anyone reading this, who may never have heard of The Boy Who Steals Houses, give a short summary of what the book is about?

A: It’s about a homeless teen named Sam, who breaks into houses when the owners are away on holidays–not to steal, but just to live. He and his autistic brother Avery are actual disasters who make terrible decisions, but they love each other fiercely and Sam protects his brother like nothing else. Then Sam messes up and steals a house that isn’t truly empty and ends up entangled in the lives of a big messy family. He craves this life, but if they find out why he’s homeless and what’s he’s running from, he’ll lose it all.

2. Q: Both of your books have retelling aspects to them, what attracted you to this method of storytelling? Do you have any particular favourite retellings?

A: I love retellings because you already get the bare bones of a structure….then you get to renovate and rebuild and let your imagination go wild! I definitely am fond of Goldilocks, which The Boy Who Steals Houses is based around, but I’d also love to do a Sleeping Beauty retelling one day too. Or the Seven Swans!

3. Q: You are based in Australia, and obviously your agent and publisher are based in the UK, are there any difficulties to having a transcontinental relationship with your publishing team?

A: It’s been great actually! The only downsides are waiting for things to come in the mail (contracts, proof copies, finished copies etc.) and how I end up staying up way too late waiting for emails since my sleeping time is when my agent/editor are working! It’d be nice to go over someday and meet my publishers though.

4. Q: You’ve been on both sides of the author/blogger relationship now, what have you had to change about your blogging, if anything, now that you are an author?

A: It’s definitely been an adjustment moving away from the wild and sparkly blogging life…over to the author life. I made the decision to stop doing negative reviews, because as an author, I felt it was a bit off to be critiquing my peers. I also have less time to blog because of writing and edits. But my blogging family is just the bessst and shout out to the whole blogging community for being masters at reviews and discussions and boosting new authors. I owe so much to their love!

5. Q: Like your characters in TBWSH, you also have autism and anxiety, do you have any recommendations for other books you’ve read with characters who have these conditions that you feel are good representation (from your own experiences)? 

A: I absolutely loved being able to weave things I’ve experienced into this novel! I wanted to write my experiences and feelings, but not put myself on the page, so that was an interesting balance to find. Sam, my narrator, has an anxiety disorder while his brother, Avery, has autism. There are endless ways these neurodiversities can present, but I’m particularly keen to find other books that represent them in non-problematic ways! I definitely recommend the autobiographies of Autism In Heels by Jennifer O’Toole and Nerdy, Shy and Socially Inappropriate by Cynthia Kim. And for YA fiction, Things I Should Have Known by Claire LaZebnik, Queens of Geek, by Jen Wilde, When My Heart Joins The Thousand by A.J. Steiger and Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare—all have great autism representation!

6. Q: I’ve done a whole post about my writing inspirations, but who were yours? Do you think you can see their influence in their own work?

A: I really look up to authors like Maggie Stiefvater, Laini Taylor and Tahereh Mafi for their gorgeous prose and lush styles. I adore Cassandra Clare’s banter, and Adam Silvera’s wringing of hearts. And I must shout out to the fairy tales of the world for being so fun to rework too haha.

7. Q: We’ve talked writing inspirations, but where also do you look to when you’re needing to refill the creative well?

A: I read! So, so much. If I’m feeling uninspired–it’s time to devour a book, or ten (or one hundred and ten?!). I also love listening to music, anything from epic movie soundtracks to Imagine Dragons or Clean Bandit. And I mean who isn’t inspired by cake? I am. It is a gift.

8. Q: What do you know now about the publishing process that you wish you’d known going into it? 

A: That you need a lot of patience! And it’s not always the magical, glittery journey that you think other authors experience all the time. There’s plenty of downs as well as ups and it pays to have a support network in your life who can distract you with cookies.

9. Q: I know you don’t know what’s coming next for you publishing wise, but what are you working on right now?

A: I’m playing around with a bit of a passion project that involves dark woods and pretty monsters….and I’m always working on another dark contemporary or two!

10. Q: What advice would you give to young writers looking to get into publishing?

A: Definitely: KEEP WRITING. If you don’t feel “good enough” or your project gets rejected—keep writing. You get better the more you write and you have endless chances to get published. My first book that went on submission to editors was rejected, but my second novel was A Thousand Perfect Notes and it landed me a two book deal which changed my world. So always keep going, I believe in you.

Thanks so much for answering all my questions Cait, I’ve loved reading your blog for about two/three years now and it’s so wonderful, I can’t wait to keep following your publishing journey!

C.G. Drews

C.G. Drews lives in Australia with her piano and the goal of reading every book in existence. Consequently, her brain has overflowed with words and she spends her days writing novels to make you laugh or cry (or both). She never sleeps and believes in cake for breakfast.

She blogs at paperfury.com.

C.G. Drews’ second novel The Boy Who Steals Houses is out now, so head to your local bookshop, Amazon or wherever it is you get you books from and check it out!

I hope you all enjoyed this Q&A with C.G. Drews, and if you are writer and would love to do a Q&A about your books or your writing with me, or do a guest post about your writing, then please get in touch with me via email: jo.ell.x@hotmail.com or Twitter, @iloveheartlandX. I have spots available from August-December and the sky’s the limit, you can talk about your books/WIP, your writing process, agents/querying, whatever it is you want to talk about.

I’m going to have my latest Top Ten Tuesday post up for you guys tomorrow, so stay tuned for that and I’m finally done with my Uni work, so expect a lot more posts from me in the coming weeks! As for this feature, I’m going to be sharing a video from my friend, author H.T. King next month, she’s going to be talking about finding a publisher, and a publishing route that works for you so that should be a really good one. I’m also appearing on her YouTube channel talking about my writing, so I’ll let you know when that’s up & you can go watch that (please support it guys, you have no idea how terrifying filming myself was, I’m very self-conscious about how my voice sounds on video, hence why I’ve never been a BookTuber!).

 

 

 

 

 

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Writing Corner: Writing For Pleasure Vs Writing For Work

Hi everyone! I’m back for another Writing Corner post this month, but never fear, I have guests lined up for the next two months, so that should be really exciting, next month I’m going to have a Q&A from author C.G. Drews (who a lot of you will know as PaperFury), so that’s going to be really brilliant, I hope you guys really enjoy that one, I’ll have it up in the next couple of weeks. Today however, you get another post from me, this time I’m going to be talking about something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, and that’s Writing For Pleasure and Writing For Work. As an author, journalist and blogger, my writing is pretty evenly divided between work and pleasure, but the lines can often be quite blurry, which is what I wanted to talk about today.

I love writing obviously, I wouldn’t want to be an author, or be doing or Journalism, or even doing this blog if I didn’t. So naturally, writing brings me pleasure, whether I’m doing it for work or for my own free time. However I definitely approach my writing differently depending on whether I’m doing it for work or for myself.

As much as I enjoy Journalism, I approach it as my job. It’s not something that I’m doing for fun and nothing else, I’m doing my Journalism course at Uni with the aim of getting a job in the field someday. I’ve loved writing my pieces for my Project and I’m very passionate about the topic I’ve chosen (period poverty)  but the ultimate aim of doing this is to get my degree and hopefully get a job in the future, I would not be writing these articles if I didn’t need to for my degree. The same goes for The National Student, I love writing for them, but I approach it as a job, I have deadlines and word counts that I need to adhere to, and it’s a way of gaining more experience before I graduate, writing for The National Student isn’t something I do as a hobby in my downtime, it’s something that I’ve chosen to do to further my career.

My fiction writing is slightly different because it somewhat straddles the two. At the moment, I’m not published, I’m not agented or anything like that, so whatever I write, it is mostly for me and my own pleasure, there’d be no point writing my WIP if I didn’t enjoy it because at the moment it’s largely for me. However this has changed over the last year or so, as I’ve started to get more serious about publishing. I still have fun writing my WIP, nothing has changed there, but the end goal is different, I’m not just working on this book for me, I’m working on it because I want it to be read by people, I want to get an agent and I want to get published. This means that as I’ve been going through the editing process, I’ve been thinking more and more about what other people will want to see from my book, how I can make it the best it can be so that it can eventually make it’s way into readers’ hands. In other words, my WIP has become less of something I do simply in my leisure time and more of a work project, in the same way that my articles are.

When it comes to the different things I write, blogging is definitely my leisure outlet. That isn’t to say that it’s not a lot of work, because it is: I spend a lot of time working on my blog, making sure that it is entertaining to read and that it looks the best that it can. But there’s no sort of work pressure to it, I can update or not update my blog as and when I choose to, any kind of pressure that I put on myself and my blog is purely internal. Blogging is a great thing to have, because unlike journalism or fiction writing, it’s not something that I’m looking to do as a career, it’s just something fun that I like to do to share my love of books.

Blogging also fits into things I do for pleasure already anyway, I love reading, so reading books for the blog is a purely pleasure based thing, it never feels like work and I’ve always loved to share my thoughts on the books I read anyway so having reviewing as an outlet is pretty great for me as I can automatically spill out my thoughts about a book onto the blog when I’m doing reading.

There’s nothing to say that you can’t enjoy your work, in fact, I’m sure that most people would agree that the ideal is to be able to combine both work and pleasure, that’s why people want to go into jobs that fit their areas of interest. However, I do think that it’s important to have an outlet outside of your work so that the thing you enjoy doesn’t constantly feel like you’re doing work. I love writing but often it can feel like a chore when I’m writing articles, or even when I’m working on my WIP because my focus there is very much, “I need to do this because I want to work in this field”.

It’s so important to have boundaries between work and hobbies, especially when you really enjoy what you do. I have found this, because I spend so much time doing what I enjoy for work, often I feel like I don’t actually want to write when I have down time because it’s so often what I’m doing when I’m working. This is why I like to have different outlets for writing that are unrelated to work, because it means that in my downtime, I can remind myself that I really do enjoy writing and do things, like my blog that are just for my own personal enjoyment and don’t really have any kind of work aspect (beyond what I would usually do, reading ARCs doesn’t feel like work to me because it’s reading and that’s my main downtime hobby anyway!). I also feel like it’s incredibly important to have hobbies outside of writing as well, especially if you do it for work as well as pleasure because you can start feeling burned out by it if you’re doing it all the time.

Writing for work and pleasure definitely don’t have to be mutually exclusive, you can do both and do both well but there has to be some sort of separation between your writing for work and writing for pleasure in order for neither to feel like a chore (at least in my experience) & I think downtime away from writing is key to maintaining enjoyment within your work.

If you are a writer, do you find it hard to strike a balance between writing for work and pleasure? Do you ever feel burned out by writing? What do you do in your time away from writing? Let me know in the comments!

As I’ve already said, I’m going to have a Q&A with C.G. Drews as my next post for this feature and that’s going to be up very soon, in about two weeks, to coincide with the release of her new book so keep your eyes peeled for that. In the meantime though, I will have a new Top Ten Tuesday post up on Tuesday, so stay tuned for that!

Writing Corner: On How Writing For Different Platforms Helps With Fiction

Hi everyone! Yes. it is me, I am hoping to keep the guest posts from last month coming as a more regular thing on this feature, but as I couldn’t find anyone for February, you’re stuck with me again. I think today’s post should be pretty interesting though, I’m going to be talking about my experiences writing on different platforms and how I think these have helped me become a better fiction writer.

It’s no secret that I write A LOT. I’m a blogger, I write for student news website The National Student, my entire degree is writing based, and of course I have my novel, so honestly, there aren’t many points in a given day where I’m not writing something or other. And obviously practice makes perfect when it comes to writing, so any writing you do is good practice for writing a novel, but I think that particularly writing on different platforms and in different forums has been really important for me as a writer, for several different reasons.

Firstly, voice. Voice is something that a lot of writers can struggle with, finding the right voice for your character and making sure that comes through in your work is hard. However, I think that writing for different platforms has made it much easier for me to pick up that skill. For one thing, so much of Journalism is tailoring the voice of your piece to your audience. You’ll want your article to read a different way depending on the platform that your work will be accessed through, the “voice” is different for every paper, articles from The Guardian don’t read the same as the Daily Mail, or The Independent and that’s because as a journalist, you have to learn to write for your audience, and your audience is going to be different depending on where you write for, meaning that you have to get very good at tailoring your voice to the audience. This is obviously a massive help when it comes to writing fiction because the same rules apply, you’re going to want a different voice if you’re writing for a YA audience as compared to an adult audience, or an MG audience, or a younger child audience. Being able to change the voice you write in is also very useful if you write in multiple character POVs, so that the two do not sound exactly the same, and this is another place where my journalism skills have come in handy, when writing my novel, I imagine what I want the audience to see in my characters, and tailor their voice to that, just as I would do when writing an article for a specific audience.

Blogging, believe it or not, is also quite helpful for developing voice in stories, albeit in a different way. When I write my blog posts, I want it to feel as if I am talking to you, like we could just be sitting and having a conversation, and I’ve tried to carry this over to my fiction as well, as that was something that was really important to me when writing This Is Not A Love Story, I didn’t want it to feel like my audience would just be sitting there watching Tiffany and Cam go through the motions, I wanted it to feel like they could be sitting with the two of them and listening to them tell their own story. I don’t know how successful I’ve been with that, but that was the intention anyway!

Journalistic writing has been a massive help in making my writing more concise. I mean being concise isn’t as much of a requirement in fiction as it is in journalism, but personally, I hate authors that waffle on with unnecessary description that isn’t really needed, so when I write my book now, I keep the lessons that I’ve learned from Journalism in mind and make sure that every word I use has a point and I’m not waffling on for the sake of it!

Writing on different platforms also gives my brain a break when I’m getting bogged down in one of my stories. If I don’t feel like working on TINALS or Underground Magicians or the sequel to TINALS, then I can come here and write a blog post, or write something for The National Student, and I’m still flexing that writing muscle, but it gives me a chance to work on something else and let plot issues bubble over in the back of my brain whilst I’m doing so. It also adds some variety to my writing life that I’m not always constantly working on fiction and I think that in turn makes me a better writer because you need different skills to be a great journalist or a great blogger than you do to be an author, but there are lessons that you can learn from each which make you better at the others.

It does have it’s downsides, spending so much time writing, means that sometimes my hobby feels like a chore, and I do have to remind myself that it is something that I find fun and I’m not just doing it to get a degree or for my future career, I’m doing it because I love it. I think it’s very important to have hobbies outside of writing as well, especially when you spend as much time writing as I do, because you don’t want to feel completely burned out by it.

So yeah, basically, I would really recommend writing for different audiences and different platforms if you are a fiction writer, it gives you more flexibility, you can learn transferable skills from writing for different purposes, it allows you to have some variety in your writing and plus, it can just be fun sometimes to try your hand at writing different things!

If you are a writer, have you ever tried writing something outside of your normal remit? Anyone else do Journalism like me? Let me know in the comments!

I’ll have my Top Ten Tuesday post up for you guys tomorrow, and also Wednesday is my fifth blogaversary, so I’m going to have a very special Jo Talks post up to celebrate that milestone, so stay tuned for those in the next few days!

Writing Corner: Guest Post-Madeline Dyer on Writing With Chronic Illness

Hi guys! I’m so excited about today’s post, because I actually didn’t write it (except this introduction)! As you can see from the title at the top, this is my first ever guest post for BookLoversBlog, a super exciting step for me and one that I hope can continue because I love getting to connect with other bloggers and writers and have them share their experiences, there is such a wide world of writers out there with different experiences to mine and I want to make sure that is reflected in this feature. 

Which brings me quite nicely onto today’s topic. Madeline Dyer is a YA writer, who has several chronic illnesses, so when she suggested writing a guest post about her experiences of writing with chronic illness, I thought it was a great idea. I hope that any of my followers who are also writers with chronic illness find her advice helpful! So here we go, I hope you enjoy Madeline’s post: 

Being a Writer When You’re Chronically Ill

Ask any writer, and he or she will tell you there are many articles and videos out there, advising us on what we need to do to be a writer. There are checklists you can tick off, schedules you can use to divide up your writing and editing time, and many top tips that other writers swear by. The most popular pieces of advice, in my experience, seem to be ‘write every day’ and ‘treat writing as a job’, as well as ‘don’t give up your day-job’—but when you’re also dealing with a chronic illness, a lot of these tips either don’t apply to your situation or they make you feel like you’re failing because you physically can’t meet the expectations that these articles put on you.

Reading all these articles and lists made me feel as if I could never be considered a proper writer because there were many things on them that I simply couldn’t do as I am chronically ill. The fact of the matter is much of the advice out there assumes that you’re able-bodied and in good health, and when you’re not, it can feel a little bit lonely and discouraging. And, so, I was inspired to write this post, for all the writers out there who are also managing a chronic illness.

Here are my top pieces of advice regarding how to be a writer when you’re chronically ill:

Don’t be hard on yourself if you can’t write every day.

 This is the big one, in my opinion. It’s so easy to think that you should be writing at every available opportunity and thus feel like a failure if you haven’t written that day (or week, or month, etc.). But if you’re having a bad time with your illness and you need to rest, then that’s what you need to do: rest. Don’t push yourself and use up that all-important energy. Your health has to come first, and there’s nothing for you to feel bad about for taking a rest-day instead of working on that manuscript. After all, if you push and push yourself, it’ll take longer to recover and you’ll end up writing less overall.

It’s okay not to write.

Similarly, if you’re not well enough to write at all for a period of time, that’s okay. It doesn’t make you any less of a writer. You are still a writer.

Set Manageable Goals.

On the days when you are well enough to write, set realistic goals that you know you can meet without making your health worse. Before I became chronically ill, I could easily write 5,000 words a day, and often it was closer to 7,000. That was the pace at which I wrote, and I’d feel like I hadn’t done enough if I’d only written 3,000 words.

When I developed chronic illnesses and was diagnosed with ‘invisible’ disabilities and auto-immune disorders, I simply could not keep up that pace without making my health suffer a lot. It was soul-crushing at first, as I could remember how easily I used to write so many words before. I felt like a failure in the one thing (writing) that I thought I could still do (I’d already had to give up many hobbies and activities). But the problem was that I was using my previous goals as a measure of my current success, even though before I was healthy and now I am not. Those word count goals were set before—before the fatigue and the fainting, the brain fog and chronic pain, the headaches and joint dislocations.

I struggle with maintaining an upright posture now, due to dysautonomia, and my fatigue and joint-pain from Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome make writing really difficult. Because of these factors, I’ve had to make my goals more manageable. On my good days, I now aim for around 500-1,000 words, and I know that realistically I’ll only manage this a couple of days a week—and that’s if the week is a good week. Many weeks, I’m unable to write at all, and even on my good days, I can’t go on writing for hours on end, like I used to.

The important thing here is acknowledging that your goals have to change to reflect your health. If you don’t change them, not only will you risk harming yourself by pushing yourself too far, but you’ll also feel terrible when you fail to meet your unreasonably-high expectations.

Physically, I’m not expected to do all the things I used to do—for example, doctors have said that horse-riding and athletics are too dangerous for me now—so it’s important to realise that we can’t be expected to write at the same speed as before too. Chronic illness isn’t something that only affects one part of your life; it affects everything, and adjustments have to be made everywhere.

Let others know what you’re dealing with, where possible. Especially those you work with, such as critique partners and editors.

If you’ve been given a tight deadline that you know is going to be difficult to make, then talk to the other people involved. Let them know you have a chronic illness. Don’t be afraid to talk about it. I’m a firm believer that it’s best to be upfront right from the start about having an illness or condition that could affect your work, so that others don’t place unreasonable expectations on you and so adjustments can be made if needed.

Don’t compare yourself to other writers

This applies to healthy writers too. It’s never wise to compare yourself or the state of your career to that of another. It’s just not a good idea. And it’s especially not a good idea to compare your career to that of an author who’s just completed four book tours, had two books launch this year, and is appearing at all the big cons, if you’re unable to do these things—either at all or at that pace—due to factors which are out of your control.

Whatever you’re managing to do for your writing career, whether it’s writing a paragraph or reading through an edit letter is a huge achievement when you’re managing chronic illness, and I feel like we need to celebrate these things more. So be proud of what you can do despite being chronically ill, and know that your worth isn’t dependent on your productivity.

Know that you’re not alone.

There are many other writers out there who are dealing with chronic illness too, and often just finding them and talking with them can help immensely. It’s certainly helped me feel less lonely, and I’ve been able to swap illness-specific tips with many writers who are also facing similar challenges.

 

Madeline Dyer lives on a farm in the southwest of England, where she hangs out with her Shetland ponies and writes young adult books—sometimes, at the same time. She holds a BA Honors degree in English from the University of Exeter, and several presses have published her fiction. Madeline has a strong love for anything dystopian, ghostly, or paranormal, and she can frequently be found exploring wild places. At least one notebook is known to follow her wherever she goes.

 Discover Madeline’s books at http://madelinedyer.co.uk/fiction/

Madeline’s books: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Untamed-Book-1-Madeline-Dyer-ebook/dp/B01MS5264O/

I hope you all enjoyed Madeline’s post, and if you are a writer, I am looking for more guest posts for this feature, so please get in touch with me via email, jo.ell.x@hotmail.com or Twitter, @iloveheartlandX, if you have an idea that you would like to write about, I want to hear it! The sky’s the limit, you can talk about your books/WIPs, your writing process, things that affect your writing life, basically anything you want. 

I’m going to have a new review up for you tomorrow, it’s finally time to share my review of Firestarter, the last book in the Timekeeper trilogy, as its release date is on Tuesday, so I’m super excited for that. I will also have a new Top Ten Tuesday up on Tuesday, so lots to look forward to in the coming week. As for this feature, I’m hoping to have a post up about how writing for different platforms helps improve my writing before the end of the month, so stay tuned for all of that!

Writing Corner: On Balancing Writing With Uni

Hi all! I’m so sorry that it’s been so long since I last did one of these posts, I had intended to keep up one a month when I went back to Uni but it just hasn’t been possible with my workload this semester, it’s been hard enough keeping up with my Jo Talks posts, let alone with this one as well, so going forward, at least whilst I’m doing my Journalism project next semester, I’m not going to commit to a specific posting schedule for this feature, you’ll get something when you get something!

That kind of brings me on quite nicely to what I wanted to talk about today: balancing writing with Uni work. My degree is obviously writing focused anyway, given that I’m doing a History and Journalism degree, and given that I do both my blog, and writing for The National Student, I do often find myself experiencing writing burnout. The last thing I want to do, if I’ve spent the whole day working on something for Uni, and then written an article for The National Student, or a post for my blog, is work on my novel. Yesterday was the first time I’d even looked at my edits since I came back to Uni in September because the sheer volume of writing I’ve been doing since I came back has meant I haven’t had the time or really the energy to edit TINALS!

I started TINALS when I was in my second year of Uni, during NaNoWriMo, which was amazing for me at that point, I was only in my second year of Uni, I didn’t have the same volume of assignments that I do now, so working on it a little every day for a month was easy enough then and it was really the kick in the butt I needed to just get the words down.

Since then, it’s been a lot more difficult balancing writing with Uni, because obviously my workload has increased since second year. There are things you can do however, if you are a student writer, to keep your novel ticking over, even when you feel like you are overwhelmed with work. I got as much as I could done on weekends, and made the most of the times when my workload was lighter, in order to get as much editing done as I could, especially since my first round of edits was largely extending my story to get it up to the required wordcount for YA fantasies (I was about 20K under when I finished my first draft, so that was a lot of work). The holidays were also an incredible help to me, I finished most of my first round of revisions during the summer holidays this year and they were a lot more extensive than my current round of revisions, so it was important to me that I definitely had those done before coming back to Uni. I’m also using Christmas to get a start on my second round of edits, as I know I’m going to be incredibly busy when I get back after the holidays.

I also found that when I wasn’t too busy to do so (which hasn’t been this semester), being in my Uni’s Creative Writing Society was really helpful because it gave me the chance to have just an hour every week where I didn’t have to feel guilty about solely concentrating on my writing, so if you are a student writer, I highly recommend joining a society like that at your own Uni, if they have one, because finding opportunities to write your novel can be scarce especially when you have so much else on!

I’m trying to remind myself as well, that even though my Uni/writing balance has shifted somewhat more towards Uni this semester and away from editing, that my novel is still going to be there when I’m done and that it’s not a race to get it finished and off for querying, that at the moment finishing my degree is the most important thing. I also remind myself that even if I’m not writing my novel all the time, that by doing this and writing for The National Student and writing for my degree course, I’m flexing the writing muscle and will be a better writer when I do come back to my novel.

There’s no secret trick to balancing being a student with being a writer, and a lot of it is just trial and error and seeing what works for you. I write mostly in the evenings, quite late at night, because I’m not a morning person and that can sometimes be a curse, since I don’t always feel like writing after a long day of work, but I’m not great at concentrating in the mornings, so I just have to make the best of it and get as much done as I can! Believe me, I wish I had some magic trick that would make balancing Uni and being a writer easier, sadly I do not. It’s basically just about finding whatever free time you may have and utilising that to the best of your ability and trying not to stress out when you don’t have enough time to do as much as you want to (which is easier said than done, I know).

If you are a student writer, how do you balance Uni with writing? I could use any tips that you guys have! Do you find you can work better at certain times than others? What’s the longest you’ve ever gone without touching your WIP? Let me know in the comments!

I’m going to have my final Quarterly Rewind of 2018 for you guys up tomorrow, so stay tuned for that and the end of the year doesn’t mean the slowing down of content here, oh no, quite the opposite, in the next two weeks leading up to 2019, I’ll have my last Top Ten Tuesday of 2018, my End of Year Survey and a final Jo Talks post for 2018, so there’s plenty to look forward to before 2018 is over!

 

 

Writing Corner: On Struggling With Writer’s Block

Hi everyone! I know I’m cutting it a little fine with this month’s Writing Corner, but hey, it’s still August until tomorrow (also is it just me or has August been going on forever?). I was originally going to talk a little bit about TINALS sequel in this post, but I’ve not really had time to work on it over the last month and I’m going to be more focused on editing TINALS than I am on writing the sequel when I do get back to writing because I felt like I was on a roll with that before I started my summer job and I’d really like to continue and try and get my next round of revisions completed relatively soon. But anyway, enough about TINALS, since that is not the writing project that I’m going to be talking about today. No, today I’m talking about my other writing project, Underground Magicians, which I’ve kind of been taking an extended break from, because of the reason in the title: I have writer’s block.

I know a lot of authors that I admire have said that they don’t believe in writer’s block and that it’s just a case of finding your way through and I would love to believe that this is true, but honestly I genuinely feel like I have hit a brick wall with this project and I just don’t seem to be able to work my way out. I thought that taking a break from it might help and that I might feel inspired by something and go back to it, but that hasn’t really happened.

It’s definitely not that I don’t feel passionate about the project, I love my weird little underground tunnels book and the fact that I love this story and these characters so much is making it all the more infuriating that I can’t seem to find my way through this block.

For a little background, I started writing Underground Magicians last year, and it was my NaNoWriMo project. I wrote the first five chapters, then I found myself getting a little stuck. Thankfully I had an idea of where I wanted the story to end, so I left the start of the story where it was, and then jumped to the end and wrote the last 3-4 chapters & the epilogue. This was unusual for me, because I usually write chronologically, I did that with TINALS, with all of my fanfics and with everything I wrote when I was younger but since I knew how I wanted the story to end, I figured I would write the end and work my way back from there.

However, things haven’t quite worked out the way I wanted them to! I didn’t really suffer from any of the problems of not having a detailed outline when I wrote TINALS, because for the most part, the story flowed quite naturally. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve gone back and made quite a lot of edits since them, some of them quite major, but the base structure of the story was easy enough to get down. With Underground Magicians, for some reason or another though, whilst I know how the story starts and I know how it ends, I have no idea how many characters get from point A to point B.

Since NaNoWriMo last year, I’ve written three more chapters of the story, meaning I have eight chapters for the start and then 3-4 + the epilogue for the end, but now I’ve kind of stalled. I know basic plot points that need to happen in order to get Sophie and Mo where I need them to be at the end, but I don’t know how to string those plot points together!

The basic idea behind Underground Magicians is that Sophie (my main character) gets sucked into this world of Underground tunnels after she discovers that she has magic and then alongside her new friend/later love interest Mo (female character, this story has a f/f romance) she has to figure out why the tunnels keep moving and their friends keep disappearing, so the structure itself is very simple. I think the problem that I’m having, is that because the plot is relatively straightforward, I’m struggling to think of ways to make it exciting and I feel like a lot of what probably needs to happen between now and the ending is filler and maybe that’s why I can’t really think of what to write? Filler has never been my forte, I like the action packed stuff! I also get random ideas of things that I want to happen later on in the story and they will fit, but then I will have the same problem that I’ve been having so far, how to get to those things!

Also because I’ve never really suffered from writer’s block before, I don’t really know how to work my way through it! I thought that taking a step back from my project might help me, but honestly it just feels like I’ve been ignoring the problem. I thought about sitting down and writing out the plot that I have of my story so far and trying to work my way backwards to the point where I’ve got stuck but I’m worried that I’ll just get down what I’ve got so far and not be able to string together the rest of it.

I really don’t want to give up on this story, because I’ve really enjoyed writing what I have written so far and I want to see it completed, but at the moment, I’m not really quite sure how to proceed. I don’t want to force it, because I don’t think that will be helpful, but just waiting for ideas to come hasn’t really been that helpful for me either.

It’s just so frustrating because I was on such a roll with this book and was feeling so good about it and now I just feel like I’ve completely stalled out. I reckon this book could be really great if I ever manage to finish it, it’s just trying to get there that I’m struggling with. I have been doing great on editing TINALS, so it’s not like everything in my writing life is a total loss, but it’s hard not to feel like a bit of a failure when you can’t seem to make your other book work!

So I guess basically what I’m saying is that I need advice! Writers out there, how have you got over writer’s block? Have you ever got stuck with the middle of your book? What have you found to be the best way to work your way through it? Let me know in the comments!

I’m aiming to have another one of these up again next month-the idea is that I will hopefully do one of these a month for the rest of the year, so I should have four more of them before the year is out, though I don’t know what they will be about! If you are a writer and you would like to be featured in this series, then contact me on Twitter, @iloveheartlandX.

I don’t know what I will have for you soon, I am hoping to finish Tower of Dawn in the next few days, though that might be a little overoptimistic of me, but I will definitely have a review of that up sometime in the near future and of course a new Top Ten Tuesday post on Tuesday.

 

Writing Corner: On Writing FanFiction and How It’s A Useful Tool For Aspiring Writers

Hi all! So before I get started on the post today, I have a little something for you guys, as a thank you for following me and supporting my blog. Literary Book Gifts is a company which sells book inspired items, it brings books to life on t-shirts, tote bags and backpacks. You can use the promo code BOOKLOVERSBLOG20 for 20% off anything at Literary Book Gifts (https://literarybookgifts.com), there is no minimum spend and it can be used at unlimited times. You can see an example of their products below:

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As you can see, they have really beautiful stuff, so enjoy the discount! Once again, thanks everyone for all your support of my blog over the last four years.

Anyway, today I’m going to be talking about something that I did a lot of as a young writer, which is FanFiction. Fanfiction gets a bad rep sometimes on the internet, but then that’s not surprising since many fandoms are comprised of teen girls and we all know that it’s totally cool to hate on things that teen girls love *massive eyeroll*. But for me at least, fanfic was a great tool to explore and develop my writing within the framework of an existing story, so I’m going to talk a bit about my experiences writing fanfic today and why I think that it can* be helpful for aspiring writers (*obviously you don’t need to start off writing fanfic to make it as a writer, not every writer does and it’s not helpful for all writers, I am merely speaking for my experiences here).

So a little background on my history as a FanFic writer: I was a massive Glee fan back when it was still on (and yes I still enjoy bopping to the tunes on my IPod to this day, I loved the music and I’m not ashamed) and whilst I was watching the show, I came across Fanfiction.net. Now I’ve always been a writer, but when I was in my teens, I was kind of in a rough patch at school and even after I moved away from that school, I still wasn’t feeling very inspired about writing, but I did (and still do) feel very passionately about the TV shows I watched. Finding fanfiction was great for me, because I didn’t feel the pressure to come up with my own ideas, I could take this ready made set of characters and the world they inhabited and make them my own. I was a massive Finchel shipper on Glee, so I started writing stories about them, taking movies that I liked and twisting the story to suit them, twisting things that happened in the canon storyline on Glee and even creating my own characters.

Fanfic really opened up my creativity, I had been feeling a bit creatively blocked at the time in my life that I was writing it and Fanfic gave me an outlet that both allowed me to be really creative (I wrote a Finchel version of Ella Enchanted for instance) but also gave me a framework with which to work in, taking out the hard part of coming up with the original idea and characters. Some may say that’s lazy, but for fifteen year old me, having an existing structure to work in was so helpful, it allowed me to work on character and plot development without having to worry about not having a good enough idea to start writing and it was also super fun! Fanfic was also the first chance I had to get feedback on my writing, before then, anything that I had written I didn’t really share with anyone else, except maybe my family so I didn’t know if it was any good or not. With my fanfic, I got instant feedback on my work and I think it allowed me to improve as a writer. It also gave me practice in writing for an audience, as I would learn the things my readers liked from their comments and do more of that, and also the things they didn’t like, which I would try to improve and that was immensely helpful in my development as a writer.

Fanfic also allowed me to just flex that writing muscle, without having to worry about whether it was good or not, or about preparing something for publication. It gave me a chance to practice my writing and I think anything that allows you to practice your writing is inherently a good thing-it’s something I remind myself of whenever I feel guilty about spending more time on my blog or writing articles for The National Student than I do on my writing-even if I’m not working on my novel right now, doing this is not a waste of time, because I’m practising my writing. The more you flex that writing muscle, the stronger it gets, so it doesn’t matter if you’re writing blog posts, or articles, or fanfic or your novel, whatever you’re writing is helping you become a better writer.

Writing is an inherently solitary activity, but with fanfic, I got a whole community of people who loved writing as much as I did, and having their support and encouragement, knowing that there were people out there who liked my writing was definitely motivation to get back to my own writing, even if it took me over a year after I stopped doing fanfic before I started writing This Is Not A Love Story.

I stopped doing fanfic around the time I was doing my A-Levels because I simply didn’t have the time for it anymore and whilst I always meant to go back to it and I didn’t want to leave half my stories unfinished, once I started Uni, I was too busy to work on them and then I started writing TINALS and I’m now more interested in my original work than I am in fanfic (especially since much as I love Glee, I’m not as obsessed now as I was when it was still airing), but Fanfiction was an amazing tool for me, and I think it served its purpose. It allowed me to keep my creative well filled when I wasn’t sure I had characters of my own to write about, it gave me a community of writers to learn from and most importantly, it gave me a safe space to practice my writing.

So yeah, whilst Fanfiction might not be for everyone, it’s not the silly pastime of writers who just want to piggy back off others ideas’, it’s an outlet for fans to explore different avenues for the characters they love, it’s a way to practice writing, it’s a way to find a community and it’s all in all just a lot of fun. I will be forever grateful to the community of Glee fanfic writers, as they allowed me to discover amazing voices (I seriously hope some of these people do become published writers one days), gave me an audience for my stories and watched as I took more steps on the path to hopefully becoming a published author!

That’s it from me today, I hope this post has perhaps dispelled some of the myths surrounding fanfiction from the sceptics out there, and that it might have encouraged some young fanfic writers that what you’re doing is okay, fanfic is just as much “real” writing as anything else, we all have to start somewhere and Fanfiction can be an incredibly useful tool on the path to telling your own original stories, or if you are a fan who just enjoys playing around with characters in their favourite world and doesn’t have aspirations of being an author someday, that’s great too, having a creative outlet is a wonderful thing and you shouldn’t listen to anyone who scorns you for it!

Fellow writers, anyone else do fanfic when they were younger? What fandoms did you write for? Let me know in the comments!

I will hopefully have another one of these for you next month, I’d like to say talking about the sequel to TINALS, but honestly, I’m going to be so busy with work for the next month, that’s highly unlikely, so I guess you’ll just see what the post will be when I publish it! As always, if you are a writer and you would like to be featured on Writing Corner then get in touch with me, I am @iloveheartlandX on Twitter.

I will have my review of Radio Silence for you guys very soon (which I just realised was what I was meant to be writing instead of this post, whoops!) and also my Top Ten Tuesday post up on Tuesday, so stay tuned for those, lots of content coming your way soon-I do apologise if my posting is a little bit spotty through the rest of July and the first few weeks in August, my summer job is taking up a lot of my time!