My Notebooks

Are you even a writer if you don’t have a large collection of notebooks?

My collection of notebooks from over the years

As any stationery addict will tell you, hoarding notebooks is a big problem. Then you tell everyone, including yourself, they serve a purpose to justify buying yet another notebook. In my case, this problem is only amplified when the only thing I want for my birthday/Christmas is stationery, so really, my loved ones are the problem. Or a small part anyway.

I separated my notebooks into four piles for the purpose of this blog post, but usually they’re one giant stack underneath my desk. I have no other place for them… for now.

Feelings notebook

This notebook isn’t a favourite by any means, but it is a super important to me personally. When I was going through a very bad time in my life, I wrote down my thoughts and feelings in the hopes it’d go away or become easier to manage. It didn’t really work, but the sensation of writing did take my mind off panicking. Plus, it’s good to go back and read through what I experienced and see how I’ve grown since then.

Celtic design notebooks

The larger notebook is my absolute favourite notebook I’ve ever bought, but I face the issue most notebook hoarders have: not wanting to ruin the notebook. The cover has this gorgeous Celtic design with gold sections and the pages look like ancient parchment paper, making it near impossible to start using this notebook. I’m trying to find something magical to go inside, but nothing feels worthy enough.

The smaller Celtic notebook I own I was convinced to buy by my aunt… I think. It’s a complicated cousin situation (something removed?) and I’m not trying to understand it. I was torn between buying so many notebooks that day but the Celtic one stuck out to me, and even my mum conceded it looked pretty. Whilst this cover isn’t as gorgeous as the other one, I still adore the design, and just like the other one, I haven’t found a purpose for it. Yet.

Harry Potter notebooks

Just like most people my age, I have an eternal love for Harry Potter, so why not buy several notebooks to continue that love? Although, funnily enough, out of the four Harry Potter notebooks I own, I only bought one. The rest were bought by my mum.

I’m 99% certain I can find a use for the three notebooks my mum bought me.

Hufflepuff is my Hogwarts house, so naturally, I bought the notebook. But since this is a Hufflepuff notebook, I don’t want to ruin it. I’d rather preserve it as a Hufflepuff notebook than write in it. If I do find a purpose for it, I will definitely use it. However, I’m finding that very unlikely.

Draft notebooks

I struggled to write a draft of my story, so I figured I’d give handwriting it a go. I’ll be honest, while it got the story down easier, I did change details as I went along and it lacked any kind of detail. Also, hand cramps were an issue. Still, it was fun to handwrite down my story whilst watching something in the background on Netflix. I managed to fill a large portion of the notebook too, which I’m proud of.

I’d actually handwritten a draft before in the Winnie the Pooh notebook. One of my best friends used a bigger version of this notebook and I adored it. However, the pages are quite flimsy and one or two fell out, which isn’t ideal. This was a very early draft of a story I did, if not the very first draft. I had fun writing it down and getting the basic story down, whilst also writing around the little doodles. It was refreshing and easy to bring around with you and write. This was back before I had smart phone, so writing on a phone just didn’t work.

For now, I’ll stick to those notebooks. If you’d like to see more of my notebooks, comment below.

Are you a fellow stationery hoarder? Do you have several notebooks that you collect and never use? Or do you use all the notebooks you buy?

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Writing Throwback

Since we’re in the first few days of January, I’m still in a reflective mood. I realised last year that I have been writing for about 10 years now, so it makes sense for me to look over my previous stories I’ve written. I’ve decided to share these stories with you to show you how much you can improve in 10 years and to prove to myself I have gotten better.

Spy Story

My first official story, which I began back when I was 13 years old.

Granted, I never got beyond three pages before giving up since I realised I had no idea what teenage spies would learn at a spy school. Additionally, I am rubbish at coming up with story titles, so since this never went beyond even a rough draft, there was never a proper title.

The story that I had planned was for Maria and Jason to become teenage spies. However, the plot didn’t really form (except the ending) and I struggled to write it.

story snippet

This extract proves why the writing rules can be important, especially for beginning writers.

Describing my characters in that much detail is time consuming and boring, and while it tells us something about the friendship between Maria and Jason, this could all be condensed down into a single paragraph. In fact, this entire first page is unnecessary.

Back then, I thought a chapter was 2-3 pages long and it was an accomplishment if I made it to a third page for a chapter. I also didn’t realise most people used the tab button to make their paragraphs and I used to just press the spacebar three times. I’ve come a long way since then! But these are the little things you learn as you continue to write.

My Happy Ending

This story was the first story I actually managed to nearly finish. I think I had one more chapter to go before I stopped. I even went as far as to ask some friends for some critique, although it was this critique that made me realise my story wouldn’t work.

The story centres around Star, a member of the royal family, who gets left at home while her parents and sister visit some family friends abroad. However, things don’t go to plan as her evil uncle takes over and she’s forced to run away with Jack, her frenemy.

Version One

story snippet (2)

As you can see, it’s very… bland. First drafts usually are. The sentences are very ‘I did this. I did that. It hurt.’ It doesn’t vary in length much and doesn’t really offer much. However, I’ll give myself credit for the dialogue. It doesn’t sound fully natural, but it does a good job at showing the relationship between the characters. Dialogue has always been my strongest aspect.

A little insight: this is actually the scene I envisioned when I first came up with this story after visiting a palace in Venice. However, when I did another draft, I decided to drop this scene altogether. But it’s interesting to see my initial idea flesh out into a full story.

Version Two

story snippet (3)

With this version, I wanted to describe my characters but since I wasn’t very good at incorporating it in, I had a character description before chapter one.

My descriptions did improve, but again, I was still like ‘I did this. I did that.’ I could’ve varied the sentence lengths a bit more. The dialogue improved to sound like a conversation between two humans instead of ‘let’s tell the reader pivotal information in the dialogue’.

I could honestly sit here and tell you all the plot points I’m already cringing over, but I’ll refrain. But that’s another important skill to have. If you can look at your work objectively, it’ll definitely help when it comes to editing.

The Day My Life Changed

This story is the classic ‘celebrity falls in love with a fan’ story, which is thanks to me finding out Kevin Jonas was (at the time) dating a fan. Although, I later found out Danielle Jonas wasn’t a fan, but back then, that was big. I’d never heard of a celebrity dating a fan until then, so naturally, I came up with this story. Unfortunately, as I was writing this story, ‘Starstruck’ came out and it was almost exactly the plot I was writing.

Screenshot 2019-01-05 at 14.56.05.png

By this stage, I finally learnt how to use the tab button. I also figured out how to use sentence length properly. I wanted to try first person and it honestly helped so much with description, sentence length and character voice. Even the dialogue isn’t bad. Although, I used a tad too many exclamation marks and probably a few cliches.

When Two Worlds Collide

This story was supposed to be about a fairy who goes to a human’s bedroom and makes friends with them. However, I never finished it because I didn’t really have a good plot. Most the time, I used to just write stories and hoped for the best, but I now realise that just doesn’t work with me. I need a vague outline to keep me going.

screenshot 2019-01-05 at 15.03.16

I immediately start with a cliche: waking up. Most editors don’t like it when a story opens on someone waking up, so just in case you were considering doing so, don’t. Not unless they wake up to something unusual. Although, in my case, I could do so since it isn’t a human waking up but a fairy. In fact, in a redraft, I did describe her bedroom in more detail.

Where Fate Takes Us

I’m still working on this story, but I’ve put it to the side for now while I work on my fantasy story. Although, these characters are now involved in that story.

The story centres around four* strangers who audition for a band and become famous musicians.

*It was five but I got rid of one

Version One

It’s all good and well for me to continue showing the first paragraph, but sometimes, the first few paragraphs aren’t great. This is three chapters in.

I’m noticing in my first drafts, I use ‘I’ a lot if it’s first person. But I do have a good character voice. In this particular story, my dialogue is the strongest its ever been.

Secrets & Lies

This story has changed so much since I started it. In fact, I’m still working on it, except I’ve changed the title to ‘Untitled’ since this title doesn’t fit anymore.

In the first version, Lily is an ordinary girl who finds out about magic through Felix and the mysterious house that leads to a magical world.

In the second version, I changed Lily to Zoe, and Zoe is a witch who lives in a magical world. But she ends up on Earth and struggles to get home again.

The latest version is actually told from the antagonist’s perspective, but I’m still working on the plot.

Version One

I noticed the typo with ‘my Rose’, which is supposed to be ‘my sister Rose’.

The description needs work, but it’s only a bit of tweaking. It sets the scene and tells us about Lily’s relationship with her family, which is good to include.

Version Two

This is perhaps one of the best scenes I’ve written. It has minimal description and shows the relationship between the characters, as well as what the characters are like. It also doesn’t have the usual problem I face of ‘I did this. I did that.’

Version Three

It now looks like I’m guilty of making my sentences too long, if anything. I haven’t improved much since on describing a character having a crush. At least this particular section doesn’t have tons of cliches. Also, writing in third person helped me get rid of the ‘I did this. I did that.’ problem and helped me use more description. It doesn’t compromise the character voice too much either.


As you can see, 10 years can do a lot in terms of improvement. I’ve learnt where my writing was weak and improved it. Even now, I’m still constantly learning and improving so I can be as good as I can be.

How long have you been writing for? Have you seen much improvement in your writing?

Happy New Year!

A photo of me
Bringing in the New Year dressed up

Another year entering the New Year feeling lethargic.

One year, I will enter the New Year not feeling like shit.

2018 has been a great year, but since it’s a New Years post, the time for reflection has past. It’s time to face forward. Since I did a lot of healing mentally and emotionally, I am more prepared for what life throws at me. However, just because I healed myself doesn’t mean my mental health won’t flare up. That’s okay, so long as I can handle it when it does happen.

Every year, I make resolutions, as does everyone. Keeping them has been a success, but that’s only because I’ve kept them purposefully vague. Even then, I’ve failed in a few aspects. This year, I’m changing it somewhat. Instead of resolutions, I’ll do my goals for the year because goals are more achievable and can continue beyond a year.

Writing

I want to continue to write daily if I can. But should life get in the way, weekly is doable. I preferably wanna get several drafts done and hopefully a final draft of my WIP. We’ll see where we go from there.

I want to update this blog weekly again. I’m aiming to post on a Saturday evening again and focus on writing. If there’s any area of writing you’d like advice about, comment below. I might occasionally post personal things too.

I want to write writing prompts on my Tumblr blog and images of my writing bullet journal on my writing Instagram. Those are more side projects though and should life require me to give up any writing projects, they would be the first to go.

Personal

I need to keep looking after myself mentally and emotionally. Figure out how to handle stressful situations that don’t involve me crying or burning out. Also, figure out how to handle my anxiety in said stressful situations. I can handle my anxiety on a day to day basis, but I’m so shit at dealing with it in very stressful situations.

I need to figure out what I’m doing with my life, which any twenty-something will tell you is easier said than done. I’m hopefully changing careers, but that all depends what happens in the next month. If my plan doesn’t go to plan, I’ll need to get another digital marketing job or else try a different sector/industry for a while. Either way, that’s a main priority for this year.

Conversely, I need to move out again. But I can only do so if I have a permanent job and enough money to pay for rent and bills. As much as I’m reaping the benefits of living at home, I can’t stay here forever and I’m ready for the adventure that is moving out (again).

I want to learn how to drive this year. I’ve never felt the need to drive before this year, but moving away from home with lots of stuff is far easier to move in a car than on a train. Plus, it’s a useful skill to have.

I want to see more musicians live, depending who is performing live and how much money I have. I also want to see more musical theatre, including Hamilton and Dear Evan Hansen (when it comes to the West End). I definitely want to go back to Edinburgh Fringe, but I’ll go for longer and see more.

I want to travel, which seems like it’ll happen. Every year, I go on holiday with mum to somewhere new, and this year looks like it’ll be Canada (yas!). I’d also like to go to Disneyland since I’ve never been. At 24 years old, that just won’t do. I’m definitely returning to Ireland to see family, but when is entirely up to me and my family.

I can’t wait to see what 2019 has in store me and I hope 2019 is a good year for you.

2018

2018

2018 has mostly been a great year for me, but as with anything in life, there were definite downsides that nearly drove me to a bad headspace. I don’t want to ignore the negative parts because it makes the positive parts all the better, so I’ll start with the negative and end with the positive.

Since this got long, I’ve put it under a read more.

Continue reading “2018”

Where Have I Been?

A valid question.

I have been taking a well deserved writing break, which you’d think would mean I’d crack open a book or two, but no. The main reason being I was trying to balance completing my apprenticeship, trying to complete work tasks, buying Christmas presents and meeting loved ones whilst also falling very ill the week before Christmas and desperately trying to recover. Oh, and celebrating my birthday (and three other family members’ birthdays).

December is always hectic for me. Every year.

But I have a plan for next year and several goals to achieve. Hopefully, this should be the most productive year of my life, and perhaps even the year I finally learn life skills. I’ll be honest, even I’m worried about my lack of life skills at 24 years old.

From January, I will be making weekly blog posts again. I have a few ideas for what I want to write about, but if you have any writing posts you’d like to read from me, please let me know in the comments.

Post NaNoWriMo: 2018

NaNo-2018-Winner-Badge

NaNoWriMo is over for another year.

Congrats to all those who reached 50k! Or even those bold souls who went over 100k! But equally, congrats to anyone who entered NaNoWriMo in the first place and wrote some words. It doesn’t matter if you barely wrote 100 words or 5k words or 30k words. What matters is you wrote, which is more than some people can say.

Every year, NaNoWriMo is a journey for me and I barely ever make it. Life just always has a way of interrupting me and throwing me curve balls. This year, since I’ve been writing the month beforehand, I was able to stay pretty consistent, but I did go out two nights and catch a cold a few days before the end of November. Not the best end to the month.

I’ve also realised my story is only half done. I originally wanted to separate my story into two books, but I think it makes sense to make it two parts. Although, I’m not entirely sureĀ what to write for the second part. I’m taking a mini break, perhaps a month long break, because I’ve been neglecting other things that I now have the time to focus on and I’m honestly exhausted. I’ve been juggling too much and it’s taking a toll on me mentally and physically.

I might still write because I’ve now got myself into a sort of routine. But it has to be at my own pace. I struggled to write 1,700 words every day and felt guilty if I missed a day or two. I need regular breaks, especially considering how stressed I get at work. I’ll aim for 500-1000 words per day, if I can. But if I need to do other things, I’ll prioritise those over my writing.

How was your NaNoWriMo experience? Did you reach that 50k goal? Did you reach your own personal writing goal? Will you enter next year?

Screenshot 2018-11-30 at 23.05.28
My final word count

NaNoWriMo 2018: Week Four

To think, a week from now, NaNoWriMo 2018 will be finished.

Personally, I can’t wait. I’ve barely found the time to write 1,700 words everyday, and from now on, I’m gonna aim to write 1,000 words per day. It’s much more manageable and gives me more time to do what I want in the evening.

After nearly catching up last weekend and only needing an extra thousand words or less, I fell behind again this week. I was exhausted on Friday and I ran out of time yesterday, so I wrote 5k today alone. I had originally aimed for 10k, but that was overly ambitious. Unfortunately, I am busy two days this week, so I’m hoping I can either write a lot on three out of the five remaining nights, or I can just binge write on Friday afternoon/evening.

I’ve nearly caught up again. This time, I’m a few hundred words behind. I could catch up tonight, but we’ll see how I feel and what else I have to do.

How is your NaNoWriMo going? Have you reached that 50k yet? Or have you hit your own personal goals?

Week four word count
My word count