Month: September 2016 (page 1 of 2)

Because Music Makes The World Go ‘Round

By now it should come to no surprise that music has always been an important part of my life. It’s been in the background of my best memories and during the toughest of times, it has been the one thing I can always count on. People and situations may change, but a great album remains the same and that is incredibly comforting.

Naturally, it didn’t take long before I was determined to create music of my very own. From the time I could form a sentence I was making up songs and I just never stopped. At the age of 16 I spent two weeks in my cousins studio and recorded my first set of demos. Since then I have recorded another set with a good friend of mine, and countless tunes on my own. However, much like the lead character in my first book, I never really managed to do anything with my growing catalog.

Awhile back, I finally got up the courage to set up my camera and record myself playing one of my songs. It’s a little rough, but I’m proud of it. Everyone of us has a dream, and no matter where you are on your journey it’s important to hold on to it and embrace it. We all have room to grow and progress, why hide away until we’re “perfect”? Do what makes you happy, share the joy, and let it come back to you.


How To Deal With Writer’s Block

Every now and then I find myself with a crippling case of writer’s block. Nights where I stare at a blank page willing words to come, only to find myself increasingly frustrated as the paper seems to taunt me.

For me, writer’s block is usually not a case of not having anything to say. It’s a matter of having too many ideas crammed together in my mind that just won’t come out, no matter how hard I push. It’s uncomfortable, it’s irritating, and it’s slightly painful.

If you find yourself in this situation, the first thing to do is try to loosen up all those backed up words. I know, I know. Easier said than done. Here’s three methods I’ve found that can get those ideas flowing smoothly.
dealing with writer's block

1) Switch gears. Try writing something different. Take your mind off of whatever it is you are struggling to create and work on another project for awhile. If that doesn’t do the trick, try doing something unrelated to writing. Draw a picture, sing a song, rearrange the items on your desk. Stepping away from the project at hand can give you fresh perspective, and if you’re anything like me, once you’re focused on something else your brain will go back to whatever you were trying to do in the first place in a desperate bid to procrastinate.

2) Try free writing. Grab a sheet of paper and just write the first words that come to mind, even if it is as silly as “I am writing. Watch me write…” continue this stream of consciousness scribbling for a few minutes. Don’t worry about things like grammar or a coherent narrative. The point here isn’t to create great content (although it’s always a nice surprise if you do!), it’s about flipping your creativity switch. Once you get in the writing zone, it’s hard to get back out of it!

3) Have some story juice. If all else fails, pour yourself a glass of whatever adult beverage you prefer and relax! Sometimes all it takes is a nice buzz and a peaceful setting to make those words come pouring out!

writer's block cure alcohol, hemingway


Now that you’ve conquered your writer’s block, let’s look at some ways to prevent it in the future.

1) Don’t wait to write. Just like you shouldn’t refrain from holding in bodily functions, the longer to put off writing the harder it will be to get the words out. Keep a small notebook in your pocket or purse to capture your ideas as they come, or jot down some quick notes in your phone’s memo pad. You never know when inspiration will strike, be prepared!

2) Flex your creativity muscles. Do you usually write romance? Try writing horror instead. Get outside of your comfort zone! Try other forms of art, do various puzzles, visit an art gallery, read something challenging, try to understand viewpoints other than your own. The key to keeping your creativity high is to keep your mind engaged. Give it the food it needs to stay active!

3) Try new things.  While it would be awesome to just pick up and visit a new country, you don’t need to do anything quite that drastic to reap the benefits of new experiences. Try a new food. Visit a nearby town you’ve never been to. Take a different route home from work. Say yes to that invitation. Pick up a new hobby. The more experiences you have, the more you have to write about!

4) Create a routine. What time of day do you feel most productive? Schedule yourself some writing time as close to that time slot as possible. If you can, write in the same place everyday. If that’s not possible, choose another constant constant variable. For example, use the same pen or drink coffee from the same cup whenever you sit down to work. The idea is to train your brain to recognize a symbol that this is writing time and draw in your focus. Give yourself a goal. Set a timer, for example, or set a daily word count. Even if what you generate isn’t usable, just getting some practice and developing the habit is a win!

5) Take care of yourself. Get enough sleep. Drink enough water. Eat good food. Get some exercise. When you feel good, it’s easier to be productive. Don’t forget to tend to your emotional, mental, and spiritual needs as well. The healthier and happier you are, the better!

While I wouldn’t say that I’m an “expert”, these are the things that I’ve found help the most. Now, let’s hope I can follow my own advice and keep the writer’s block at bay for awhile!

Do you have any tips of your own for beating writer’s block? Tell us about it in the comments!

Things I’m Digging This Month

Ever read a book, watch a movie, or hear an album that you just couldn’t stop gushing about? As someone who spends an obnoxious amount of time consuming various forms of media, it happens to me all the time. Often enough, in fact, that I decided to write a monthly post focusing on my current favorites, from beloved treasures of the past to fabulous new finds. Each entry contains a clickable link to its respected Amazon product page for your convenience.

To kick off this new series, let’s talk about the book that inspired it.

1. Torn-Carian Cole.

 I do not even know where to start with this book! Having read all of Carian’s “Ashes and Embers” series, I was beyond excited to get my hands on this novel. She definitely knows how to keep your eyes on the page! As soon as I picked it up, I was hooked. “Torn” is a story of forbidden romance that will leave you questioning everything you believe about love, age gaps, and whether the nature of relationships can change. If you love bad boys with a soft side, I cannot recommend Ms. Cole’s books enough!

2. Neon Angel: A Memoir Of A Runaway-Cherie Currie 

After a couple years of having this book on my to-read list, I finally got the chance to crack this one open. I don’t know why I waited so long! Throughout middle school and high school I listened to The Runaways nearly every day while I went through my morning routine. While I knew that they had terrible management, I was shocked to learn just how bad it really was. Cherie recounts her family life, rise to fame, and decline with spectacular detail, making you feel like you are right there with her. If you weren’t a fan before reading this book, you’re sure to be one afterward!

3. Runnin’ Wild-Airbourne

Speaking of rock and roll, I recently pulled this album off my self and have fallen in love with it all over again. With driving guitar riffs and memorable melodies, this album is an example of everything music should be. There isn’t a single filler track to be found, just straight forward rock and roll that calls to mind bands like AC/DC. If you’re looking to energize your playlist, this album will definitely do the trick!

4. The coming of fall. 

fall, autumn, things I'm digging this month

Okay, so this isn’t a piece of media. It’s not even something you can purchase. Nonetheless, it’s something I’m really digging right now, so I think it qualifies. As much as I have loved this summer, there is something magical about the changes autumn brings. I love the sweet, crisp scent of fall air. I love the comfy sweatshirts and bonfires. I love the warm, filling meals and nights snuggled under a blanket with a good book. And let’s not forget my favorite holiday: Halloween! Most of all, I love how this season reminds me of my grandmother.

As great as all the things on this month’s list are, nothing beats the simple pleasures of life and I look forward to soaking up as many of them as possible in the weeks ahead.


***Note: This post contains affiliate links. While I do receive a small commission (at no cost to you) from products sold through these links, I am not otherwise compensated for their appearance. All opinions are strictly my own.***

How To Keep An Effective Journal

For many, many years I’ve been in the habit of keeping a diary as part of my daily self care. Generally they last me about 3 months, which I feel is a nice time frame. I always begin each book with a list of goals and end them with a recap of the last “quarter”. I then take some time to evaluate my progress and set the goals for the next installment.

Before I started this regimen, I often ended my days feeling entirely worn out and wondering where all my time went. I felt as though I had been working my tale off with nothing to show for it.

before effective journal

This pretty much sums it up. Except for the lack of sweat pants. I pretty much live in sweats. Don’t judge me.

Shortly after my daughter was born, I decided to figure out exactly wear all my time was going. I began keeping a running list of everything I had done throughout the day and was shocked to see exactly how much I was actually accomplishing. I was also amazed at the ways I was wasting time that I could have spent more wisely.

This simple act changed the way I keep a journal entirely. From my days as an elementary school girl retelling her day to my time as an angsty teenager spilling my heart on the page to a progress-driven adult, each book tells a different story. Through trial and error, I have landed on a method that works perfectly for me, and I hope you find it useful as well.

effective journal keeping

It’s only paper until you pour your heart on to it.

Making Your Journal Work For You:

  1. Start with a defined list of goals. What is it you want to accomplish in the immediate future? I find it helpful to not only think big picture  (buy a house, make my blog more successful, etc), but to also set smaller goals (learn to play two new songs on guitar, submit writing to at least three other sites, etc.). I try to include one or two goals from different categories: family, work, personal growth, finances, and hobbies. Your categories may be different depending on your personal priorities and needs. I also choose to write something encouraging to myself about my list and my overall big picture goals, but of course this is optional. Remember, journaling is a highly personal thing, there are no wrong answers!
  2. Keep track of daily progress. Every day, I start a fresh, dated page with the heading “Today I…” As you go about your day, keep track of what you did. Did you do the dishes? Did you reply to business emails? Write it all down! I find this accomplishes two things:
    1. It helps give you a feel of how you are actually spending your time verses how you would ideally structure your day. Are you spending more time on one project to the neglect of something of equal importance? This enables you to make necessary adjustments to bring your actions in line with your intentions.
    2. It can provide a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. There have been many nights when I’ve ended the day feeling as though I had gotten nothing done, only to look back on my daily list and realize I was one busy lady!
  3. Evaluate your day. At the end of the night, look back on your list. Did you do anything, however small, to move you closer to accomplishing any of your goals? How do you feel about your day over all? Did anything exciting happen? How do you feel about it? This is where you can put your thoughts and feelings on paper, which I find helps me sort out all the mental chatter and get to the root of things. Explore problems and potential solutions. Make note what works and what doesn’t. This is all about you and your dreams!
  4. End each day with gratitude. After summing up your day, find at least one thing you are grateful for. There are many days when the only thing I can think of initially is that I’m grateful that it’s bedtime, however once I get started I can usually think of one or two more things to write down. Reach deep! Practicing gratitude can remind us that things aren’t as bad as they seem and put us in the mind-frame of success, as well as add to our overall feelings of peace and happiness.
  5. Come up with a mission statement for tomorrow. This isn’t necessarily a to-do list, but more of a broad idea of what you want to accomplish. Frequently, mine says something like “I’m going to kick tomorrow’s butt!” or “Tomorrow I’m going to relax.” What is it you need most? Make it a priority by committing it to writing. This is where you can motivate yourself for the day ahead.
  6. Close out your book. So, you’ve only got about 3 pages left in your journal. Good job keeping it up! Now, turn back to the list you started on the first page. Item by item, write down whether or not you have accomplished these goals. If not, have you made any progress? Why or why not? Is it still a priority or have your goals shifted? Look back over your daily “have-done” lists and take note of any patterns. What patterns would you like to keep? Which would you like to change? How do you feel about your overall growth and achievement for the documented time period? Be as wordy or concise as you’d like.
  7. Begin a new chapter. You did it! Now, what do you want to do next? How are you going to reach those goals? Open a fresh journal and make your new goal list. The world is your oyster, my friend!

I hope you find this technique helpful in reaching your goals, whatever they are. Life’s too short to waste it on things that don’t make you happy. Hold yourself accountable for making your dreams a reality. Even if some of them don’t ever come to pass, you can enjoy the chase.

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