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.

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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?

Half-Year Reading Recap

This is the last week of June, so I thought I’d take a moment to reflect on all of the books I’ve read so far this year.

My goal for 2019 is to read 55 books, 40 of fiction and 15 of nonfiction. In 2018, I read 60 books and crushed my goal of 45 for that year. I wanted to up my goal a little bit this year, but not push myself too far. It is so important to set goals that are reasonable to attain so that you aren’t setting yourself up for failure.

However, I guess I should have set my goal higher. As of today, I have read 42 books this year, which is 76% of my goal. And we’re only halfway through the year.

The main reason I have been able to read this much is because this year I branched out into novels-in-verse and graphic novels. These are the numbers of each kind of book I’ve read this year:

  • Fiction Total: 26/40
    • Prose: 16
    • Verse: 6
    • Graphic: 4
  • Nonfiction Total: 16/15
    • Prose: 14
    • Verse: 1
    • Graphic: 1

I’ve already reached my nonfiction goal for the year, and am getting close on my fiction. I have loved reading the novels-in-verse and graphic novels in addition to the regular prose books. (I would insert a picture here of some of the books I’ve read this year, but all of my books are in bags because we’re moving this weekend!)

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Speak: the Graphic Novel by Laurie Halse Anderson with art by Emily Carroll

A few of my favorite books from this year are The Martian by Andy Weir, Stolen by Lucy Christopher, Ellen Hopkins’ Crank Trilogy, and Lighter Than My Shadow by Katie Green.

My favorite book I’ve read this year is, of course, Speak: the Graphic Novel by Laurie Halse Anderson and art by Emily Carroll. Be sure to check back for my next blog post, which will be a Favorite Author Feature on Laurie Halse Anderson!


How are you doing on your 2019 reading goals? Any new favorite books?

How to Fit in More Reading

Writers should read as much as they write. As Stephen King puts it, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” Reading helps you as a writer by letting you see what kind of stories are out there and observing how others’ write. Reading a lot surrounds you with words and stories and makes it easier to write your own stories.

But writers often have a hard time fitting in reading. And there are two main reasons for this.

The first is that reading is time-consuming. Writers are often already doing their writing in their spare time on top of day jobs and don’t have any extra time to read, no matter how much it would benefit them. Since I only have a part-time job as a babysitter, I don’t have too much experience with this reason for not being able to read, but I do struggle a lot with reading slumps. I go through many periods of time in which nothing sounds good and I simply don’t want to read.

Whether you have trouble fitting in time to read or are struggling to find something you want to read, I have ideas to help you fit in more reading so that you can have the tools you need for your writing.

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This quote by Stephen King sums up the need for writers to read.

Time-Restraint Tips

  • Audiobooks
    I’ve written before about how I love audiobooks and how they can be a great writing resource. Listening to books as I get ready in the morning or for bed, or while doing housework, is an excellent way to fit more reading into your day even when you don’t have time to sit down with a book in your hands. If you have a commute to your day job, try audiobooks to fill that time with more reading.
  • Always have a book with you
    You never know when you might have a few minutes to read. I don’t usually carry a physical book with me, but I have apps on my phone with ebooks and audiobooks. However, when I know there’s a high probability of having time to read (like at doctor appointments or at babysitting jobs during nap times) I always bring a physical book.
  • Schedule it
    If you struggle to find time to read but know how valuable it can be to your writing, schedule it! Reading is important and we should treat it as such. In my writing planner I schedule it out so that I can read a third to a half of two different novels each week and a chapter a day or so of a nonfiction book about writing. You’d be amazed how much reading you can get in if you break it down and schedule a handful of pages per day.

Reading Slump Tips

  • Quick Books
    Sometimes I get into a slump because the book I’m reading is really long and it’s taking forever to get through it. Long books may make you feel like you’re not getting any reading done at all simply because it takes a long time to finish. I love to read short books. A book you can finish quickly can give you the boost of confidence you need to get back into reading. Graphic novels and novels-in-verse are my favorite quick books.
  • Something Different
    When nothing sounds good to read, sometimes all you need is something different to make reading exciting again. Try something outside your comfort zone—a book in a genre you never would’ve picked up before. If you only read YA (like me) try an adult fiction novel. If you usually read fiction, try a memoir or poetry. If you’ve never read a graphic novel before, give it a try! You might like it as much as I did. Something outside the norm could help you jump back into a reading groove.

Do you have any tips about fitting in reading to add to the list?

What I’m Reading: The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

The past couple months I finally got around to reading a series I had heard about for a long time. I’ve wanted to read these books for a while, and I finally had the time to do so thanks to Hoopla Digital providing the audiobooks.

Retelling the stories of Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and Snow White, Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles series takes the fairy tales I love and makes them even more incredible by turning them into science fiction stories in which Cinderella is a cyborg. These books and Cinder and her friends reminded me of the show Firefly, with the ragtag crew aboard a spaceship and the heists they try to pull off. But they’re even better than Firefly because they’re all based on fairy tales.

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The Paperback box set of The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

Set in the future in New Beijing, Cinder forms allies with Scarlet, Cress, and Winter and tries to overthrow the evil Queen Levana of Luna. The four books—Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter—each focus on one of the fairy tales, but they build on top of one another as each character is introduced to the series.

While I didn’t care for the character of Scarlet or the second book in these series that focused on her, I loved this series as a whole. Cress, who is based on Rapunzel, was my favorite of all of the girls, but that’s probably because Rapunzel’s story is also one of my favorite fairy tales. These books are just so imaginative in how they combine a dystopian revolution with the fantasy of fairy tales.

I think retellings are amazing. I’ve written about how some of my favorite stories (Wicked and A Little In Love) are retellings. Taking a story that already exists and putting your own spin on it is a fun and sometimes easier way to write. If you come up with something truly creative—like Cinderella being a cyborg—that idea can explode into a whole series of books.

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Stars Above by Marissa Meyer

I finished listening to the audiobooks of the series at the end of 2018 and received the box set of paperbacks for Christmas. Now I’ve been reading Stars Above, a book of stories set in the world of the Lunar Chronicles!


Have you read The Lunar Chronicles? What’s your favorite book series?

My 2019 Writing and Reading Goals

The beginning of a new year makes me reflect on the work I’ve done over the past twelve months and plan ahead for what I’d like to accomplish in the following year. So today I’d like to share my writing and reading goals for 2019.

Being a stay-at-home writer, I struggle with motivation. I have gone through many iterations of schedules and reward systems to try to figure out the best way for me to stay motivated and get work done. But the problem with doing this is that it became more about hitting the hours and achieving the reward than about doing the work God has called me to.

So now my goal list on my cork board only has one item—to write the book I’m working on. Because that’s all that matters

I’m not putting a timeline on it, because that system doesn’t work for me. I can’t rush this. I simply need to remind myself each day that I’m writing for God and that he’s called me to do this work. Motivation comes naturally when I realize I’m working for the Lord.

“Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” (Colossians 3:23)

As far as reading goes, I crushed my 2018 goals. My goals were to read 35 fiction and 10 nonfiction books, totaling 45 books. I ended up reading 43 fiction and 17 nonfiction books, for a total of 60 books.

I’m going to up my goals, but keep them under the totals that I read this year so I don’t push myself too far. The only reason I read as many as I did is because of audiobooks, but I’m going through a phase right now in which I’m not really listening to them and I don’t know how long this phase will last.

So because of that, my goals for 2019 are to read 40 fiction and 15 nonfiction books, for a total of 55 books. I do hope to read more than that, but I don’t know if that’s realistic if I’m not listening to audiobooks as often.

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What are your writing and reading goals for the year?

In 2019 I want to keep things simple and focus on the reason why I’m doing this work in the first place. God called me to be a writer. My purpose is to write stories for and about women finding hope despite pain. And that’s enough for me.


What are your writing and reading goals for this year?

One Word—My 2019 New Year’s Resolution

I love the hope that the beginning of a year brings. At the start of each year, I like to make new plans and goals for my life. But instead of making traditional New Year’s Resolutions, for the past several years I have chosen one word.

This word guides me through each year, in my goals and in my faith journey. You can check out my past words here and here. I think that choosing a word is better than making resolutions because people often go all out on their resolutions in January, only to give up by February. Instead, you can pick one word to guide you and be a gentle prompting throughout the whole year.

A few months ago, God gave me my word for 2019: ENOUGH


One of the main reasons I need to focus on “enough” this coming year is because I went through trials in 2018 that caused me to ask if God really is enough for me. The answer is—of course he is! But I had to learn this lesson the hard way through my dog’s illness. I’m going into 2019 knowing that God is enough and I will go to him with all of my problems.

Another reason I’ve chosen “enough” is because I’ve often felt like I was lacking, both when it comes to food and with stuff—I eat too much dessert to try to feel better. When the holidays come around, I can’t stop myself from eating every yummy thing in sight. When I see a sale, I have to take advantage of it. Yes, I need those new stickers or books or whatever—This thinking needs to stop. I have enough. God has provided me with enough to eat and enough things to survive and enjoy life. I just need to realize I already have enough.

Lastly, I think at some point we’ve all thought that we’re not enough. Not good enough. Not smart enough. Not thin enough. Not pretty enough. Not whatever enough. But that’s not true. We are who God says we are, and he thinks we’re pretty great. We’re made in his image, after all, and he chose to die in order to save us. If that doesn’t mean you and I are enough, I don’t know what does.


Once I’ve chosen my word each year, I make an inspiration board. I use scrapbook paper and stickers and washi tape and Bible verses and song lyrics that all relate to my word to decorate my board. Then I hang it next to my dresser so that I see it each morning and remind myself of my word. Because I love to craft, this is an easy way for me to keep myself inspired. Here’s my board for 2019:

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My Inspiration Board for my 2019 Word of the Year: Enough

It’s important to focus on your word throughout the year, and one of the ways I do this is by reading books related to the word. This year I want to read Full by Asheritah Ciuciu and Made to Crave by Lysa TerKeurst, both of which are about satisfying your needs with God, not food. I also want to read Living Well, Spending Less by Ruth Soukup to help me spend less on stuff I don’t need. Lastly I want to read Enough by Sharon Jaynes to help me remember that who I am in God is enough. I can’t wait to dig into all of these books!

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Full by Asheritah Ciuciu, Made to Crave by Lysa TerKeurst, Living Well, Spending Less by Ruth Soukup, and Enough by Sharon Jaynes are all on my reading list for 2019.

My goals this year are to learn that God is enough, to acknowledge that I have enough to do what I’m called to do, and to accept that I am enough in Christ. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for me in 2019 with “enough”!


Do you chose a word to guide your year? For the past two years, my friends and I have gathered together to discuss our words and make inspiration boards together. Pray about a word, get together with some friends, and make something that inspires 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.

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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?