Creating a Room of My Own

I’ve been incredibly blessed in that my husband not only can support both of us but he wants me to stay home to work on my writing. I was able to quit my day job in the spring and focus on writing full time.

But after quitting I still struggled with writing because I didn’t have my own space. My books were spread across every room in our apartment, and my desk was the unused kitchen table. My reading corner was right in the living room, and I was constantly distracted.

Author Virginia Woolf famously wrote that “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.” My wonderful husband supports me so I don’t have to worry about working outside of writing, but I still needed my own space so that I could truly have the freedom to create.

If you don’t have a dedicated writing space, it’s just too hard to create.

If you can’t retreat to a quiet corner, away from people and distractions like housework, writing and true creativity will be hard to tap into. You’ll constantly be pulled in different directions away from your work.

If your desk is in the kitchen like mine was, the dishes will be calling your name. If your reading chair is in the living room like mine was, the television will be tempting you behind that book you’re holding up. And if your husband is sitting on the couch, mere feet away from you like mine was, it can be so hard to focus on that story in front of you.

But all of that recently changed. This summer my husband and I bought our first house. It’s a bit bigger than our apartment, and has a fenced backyard where I can sit outside with my dog. Most importantly, it has an extra bedroom that we turned into my library.

IMG_4889
My Library

My husband built and set up my shelves for me, even getting out an engineering computer program to map out the room and where the shelves should go. From start to finish he has supported me and made my dream come true with this library.

I love the way it turned out. I have room for all of my books, my writing notes, and my craft supplies. I can put all of my mugs and knickknacks and the little things that inspire me among all the books. And just having my books all in the same place is amazing.

In the short time that we’ve lived here, this library has already become my favorite place in the world. I spend almost the entire day in here, reading and writing and hanging out with my books. It’s even become my dog’s favorite room, and I’m constantly catching her sitting in my reading chair even when I’m not in the room.

I plan to use this dedicated writing space as my creative haven. I have all of my books and everything I need to be creative in this lovely room. It is my safe space, a place free from distractions and the outside world. A place where I can connect with God and create for his glory.

I know it’s not realistic for everyone to have a whole library room, and it took us years to be able to do this. But I think that everyone who wants to create should create a room of their own, even if it is at the kitchen table or in the living room.

Do your best to limit distractions. Gather everything you need in order to create into one space. Claim your space.

Write.

Create.


How have you created a room of your own or some kind of dedicated writing space?

How Music Can Help You Write

Sometimes silence is a good thing for writers. I love to sit with my dog and look out the window together, letting my mind wander and brainstorm. But most of the time I’m listening to music. And I think there are many benefits to listening to music while you write.

IMG_3950
Listening to music while you write can inspire you and help keep you focused.

I’ve always felt that different forms of art can influence each other. Music influences my writing. My writing influences my paper crafts. The Bible, which is God’s Word and a work of art in its own right, influences everything I create.

Music can be a great source of inspiration for writing. Different genres and tones of music can influence your ideas. For example, I like to listen to music that reminds me of a character or a story in order to brainstorm. But the main way music helps me is by keeping me inspired during the physical act of writing.

I have the radio station K-LOVE on pretty much non-stop. Listening to Christian music and worship songs is a great reminder of God’s presence. The music helps me remember that God is always with me and that I need to look to him when I am creating.

K-LOVE helps me when I’m reading, brainstorming, working on social media and my blog, and doing pretty much everything else during the day. But when it comes time to get my word count down for the day, I can’t seem to listen to lyrics anymore.

Instead I turn to movie scores and other soundtracks and classical music. Orchestral music helps me so much when I am writing. I try to pick music that has a tone and pace similar to what I’m writing so that it helps me keep my head in the right place. Some of my favorite movie scores to listen to are Inception (or anything else by Hans Zimmer) and the Harry Potter movies. I also like listening to Cirque du Soleil soundtracks when I want something a little different-sounding. When it comes to classical music, Beethoven has always been my favorite.

Movie scores, soundtracks, and classical music keep me inspired and focused on what I’m doing. It’s so easy to become distracted and turn away from your writing, but a lot of the time I’ll use albums as timers: For example, I know that the Inception soundtrack is approximately one hour long. So if I’m having trouble focusing, I can turn that on and tell myself I have to work until it is over, and that will keep me focused for a whole hour.

Another tip I’ve heard before is that video game soundtracks are even better than movie scores to listen to while writing because video game music is specifically designed to keep you concentrated. I’m not much of a gamer and I only have one video game soundtrack (Epic Mickey), so I don’t have much experience to know if this really does help. But movie scores help me just fine.

No matter what music you like, you can look to is as an inspiration for your stories and use it to help keep you focused while you write.


Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what kind?

My 5 Favorite Writing Quotes

I love quotes. I think the main reason I love Instagram is because of the way people can display quotes and Bible verses on beautiful images. Quotes can encourage. They can be something to look to when you feel stuck or uninspired.

I love turning to quotes about writing when I need a little boost of encouragement or inspiration. The following quotes are my favorites:

  1. “You don’t write because you want to say something, you write because you have something to say.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald
    This was my first favorite quote about writing. I discovered it back in high school when I first got serious about writing. I love it because it explains that need to write that people feel. I have something to say to this world, and writing is how I say it.
  2. “A word to the unwise. Torch every book. Char every page. Burn every word to ash. Ideas are incombustible. And therein lies your real fear.” – Ellen Hopkins
    This quote about censorship inspired a book I have on the back burner. I love it because it is so true—you can never take away the power of words.

    1-17 blog 2
    I love this quote by Ellen Hopkins about censorship
  3. “The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible.” – Vladimir Nabokov
    I think this quote is a beautiful depiction of how it feels to write. When you are into a story and the words are flowing, it truly does feel like the words are already there in invisible ink, just waiting for you to uncover them.
  4. “Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder. Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It’s the one and only thing you have to offer.” – Barbara Kingsolver
    I love this quote because it reminds me to not let others influence my writing. It can be tempting to try to write a book just like the latest bestseller, but that’s not what I have to say and those aren’t the stories I have to offer to the world.

    1-17 blog
    This quote by Barbara Kingsolver is a great reminder
  5. “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” – Colossians 3:23
    This last one is not exactly a quote about writing, but I apply this Bible verse to my writing life. Writing is the work I’ve been called to do. And I shouldn’t be writing for some worldly reason like fame. Instead I will work willingly for the Lord.

I hope that sharing these quotes might help inspire you with your own creative projects.


What’s your favorite quote about writing?

Writing/Work/Life Balance

Despite the importance of writing/work/life balance for writers, I haven’t written about this topic before because it had never been an issue for me.

I’m very blessed in that my husband earns enough at his job that I can stay home to write. I babysit as a way to bring in some extra money, but lately it has gone from a small part of my week to a half-time job. I love having all of these extra babysitting jobs. I get to hang out with so many wonderful kids each week and the extra money is helping me to pay off my student loans. But now I’m discovering just how hard it is to write when you have a job.

1220blog
How do you schedule your writing time?

When I first started these extra jobs this fall, I still tried to do my normal amount of writing work each week. All that did was make me feel like a failure when I simply didn’t have enough time to get all of my reading and writing done each week. Feeling discouraged, I’d try harder to get everything done the next week, only to feel worse when I once again couldn’t meet my goals.

Things got worse and worse over the months, even though I actually started writing my book. But in November—thanks to being around fifteen different kids each week and their germs, and in addition to all of the writing stress I had put on myself—I got back-to-back colds and had to force myself to stop and evaluate.

Once I stepped away for two weeks, I could see the answer clearly: I was simply trying to do too much. I talked through it with my husband about all the things that were important to me to keep doing (the babysitting, the actual writing, reading fiction, blogging) and things that maybe I could step back on (reading writing craft books (at least in their entirety), some social media).

So as this year ends and a new one begins, I’m definitely going to be trying some different things with my schedule. It’s important to always be evaluating and iterating your writing process so that you can make the most of your time and do your best work.

Making more adjustments to my writing schedule—and focusing more of my time on the actual writing as opposed to all of the extras—will help me to find more balance between my babysitting work, my writing, and my life in general.

For a great resource on work/writing/life balance, I would recommend you check out Sarah Werner’s The Write Now Podcast. I always feel refreshed after listening to her show and ready to get to work!


If you’re a writer, how do you go about scheduling your time? Have you found a writing/work/life balance that works for you?

A Book I Turn to When…

Books can be friends and reminders. We turn to books to learn and sometimes to escape. Books can hold special memories and can be comfort to turn back to.

If you’re like me, these are your favorite books—the rereads you keep coming back to for different reasons. Today I wanted to share with you some of the titles I read over and over again, and why I turn to them.

IMG_3456
Some of my favorite rereads: Everlost by Neal Shusterman, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, The Selection by Kiera Cass, and Somewhere Only We Know by Bri Marino

A book I turn to when…

…I want to go on an adventureThe Skinjacker Trilogy by Neal Shusterman

The Skinjacker Trilogy—Everlost, Everwild, and Everfound—are incredible books about the world between life and death. The series follows Allie and Nick as they journey through Everlost, and it’s full of so much adventure and imagination that I love turning back to these books.

…I want to escapeThe Selection Series by Kiera Cass

I think I’ve read the original trilogy more times than any other books. I’ve written on here many times how much I love these books. The Selection is simply a fun, swoon-worthy, light read that still packs an emotional punch.

…I want to be inspiredSpeak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Speak is probably my favorite book ever. This is such a powerful story about rape and healing and finding your voice, and every time I read it I feel so inspired.

…I want to enjoy a classicFahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Fahrenheit 451 is my favorite classic novel, and one of only a few classics I actually like. I love turning back to this older book from time to time because it is science fiction at its best.

…I want to encourage myselfSomewhere Only We Know by Bri Marino

Writing can be discouraging work, and if I need inspiration to keep going, what better work to turn back to than my own? Rereading my published book reminds me that I’ve done it before and can do it again.


What are your favorite rereads and why do you keep turning back to them?

5 Tips on Starting a Writing Project

Writing a novel is a daunting task.

king quote
quote by Stephen King

Starting with nothing but an idea and a blank page, you have to come up with thousands of words to tell a story. Hours of brainstorming, world-building, drafting, and editing are before you, and it’s one of the scariest places to be.

I’m at the beginning right now. I’ve had my idea for a few months and have been researching. I feel like I’m getting very close to the point when I can actually start writing the novel. And I’m remembering just how scary the beginning can be.

So today I wanted to share with you my tips on starting a writing project. These tips are what seem to work for me at the beginning of the daunting task of writing a novel. I hope something in here resonates with you and can help you tackle the beginning of your own writing project

IMG_3387
I don’t think anything is scarier or more exciting than a blank notebook.

1. Let the idea simmer.

I don’t like to jump in right away once I have an idea. I always find that letting the idea sit in the back of my mind for a while helps it develop. It’s also important when you first think of a story idea to not talk about it to anyone. The story idea will never be as special and exciting to you as when it’s new and only yours, and talking about it with someone else can make it lose it’s specialness, thus making it less exciting to you.

2. Read/watch all of the comparable titles.

After thinking through my idea for a while, I make a list of every book and movie related to it. These comp titles help you see how other authors and filmmakers take on a similar topic, and these titles will also be used down the line when pitching your work to be published. I then spend a month or so watching all of the movies and reading all of the books to help me further develop my own story idea.

3. Immerse yourself in research.

The next crucial step is to immerse yourself in the necessary research for your project. A lot of the advice I see out there is to just start writing and make a note to come back to it later when you need to research something. That might work for some genres, but when you’re writing something more research-intensive like historical or science fiction, I find it best to do all of your research up front. Doing this will help you be better-informed about your topic and I’ve found it helps me come up with story and plot ideas as well.

4. Get to know your characters.

This is probably the most important step before starting a writing project. Stories are all about the characters. And if you don’t know your characters well before you start writing, you will feel lost and the story will lack direction. Of course, characters will surprise you and you’ll get to know them better through writing the story, but you still need to learn about them before you start.

5. Breathe.

Lastly, take a deep breath. You’re about to spend weeks/months/years with these characters and this story. So take a deep breath. Remind yourself that you can do this. And start writing.


What tips on starting a writing project would you add to this list?

A Writing Resource You Should Be Using: Hoopla Digital

A while back I wrote about falling in love with audiobooks and how listening to books is a great way to fit in more reading in your life. At the time I had just discovered the app Hoopla Digital—a resource my library lets me use for free—and I had no idea how life-changing this app would be.

You can sign up for Hoopla with your library card, and then you have access to thousands and thousands of titles. Hoopla has ebooks, comics, movies, music, and—my favorite—audiobooks. And the best part is that you don’t need to wait for books like a traditional library or even some digital libraries. There is a limit to how many you can titles you can borrow per month, but you can download and enjoy right away!

IMG_3222
This is what your Hoopla library looks like. I always have a bunch of audiobooks checked out.

As writers we’re supposed to read as much as we write. This lets you know what’s out there so you can keep current in your genre. Reading also inspires you and shows you how to write.

But it’s hard to find time to read that much. And when I do sit down and read, I sometimes feel guilty I’m not using that time to write.

Even though it’s difficult to fit in all of my reading hours, Hoopla makes it so much easier with their vast library of audiobooks. I can read books by listening to them so much quicker than if I sat down and read print copies. And Hoopla lets me fit in reading easily throughout my day. Some of my favorite times to listen to audiobooks are when I’m:

  • getting ready in the morning
  • getting ready for bed
  • cleaning
  • crafting
  • doing puzzles
  • coloring

I’ve been able to read so much more and I love it.

IMG_3223
Some of my favorite books-the Selection series-are all on Hoopla. And my favorite part of the app is that I can listen to books at different speeds, like 1.5x.

This is a writing resource you should definitely be taking advantage of if your library provides it.