If you’ve ever visited my Instagram, you will have noticed that my favourite place in the world is my grandparents’ house. It’s the place from where I draw my inspiration; where I can get away from the hustle and bustle; where I feel at home. It’s also where I’ve heard some of the greatest pieces of advice anyone’s ever given me.
Now, grandma and grandpa don’t set out to give me any life-changing advice, but every so often they’ll say something they take for granted, and I’ll write it down so I never forget it. Some of these sentences have even turned into affirmations to live by. I tell myself them to encourage myself. They make me a better artist, a better writer, and a better person. I want to share these sentences with you.
They might be a little weird, because they weren’t meant to be inspirational quotes or anything. That’s what makes them so powerful to me. They’re everyday sentences that have taken on a bigger meaning than originally intended. I hope they can inspire your life as an artist as they have inspired mine.
So, here are 4 powerful affirmations to live by, inspired by my grandparents.
Friday – sweet, beautiful Friday. As much as I love my work, I also love taking days off to charge my creative mind and prepare for the upcoming week. Proper relaxation is the key to staying creative and inspired.
Even if you have to work this weekend, remember to take some time for yourself. Any little moment will do. Do things that make you happy and for that precious moment, forget about your responsibilities. They will still be there when you’re relaxed and more ready to tackle them.
I came up with some weekend activities to help you charge your creative mind. Treat them as suggestions, but please: don’t set yourself up with a massive to-do list for this weekend. Let your mind rest and find yourself more creative as the result. (And yes, that includes the things on this list. Don’t treat it as a set of tasks to be accomplished.)
Here are 10 delightful weekend activities to charge your creative mind.
Today, I thought I’d want to share something different. I’ve read wonderful things about creating a writer’s manifesto, and having read other people’s manifestos, I wanted to give it a go. It was very liberating to get the words down on paper; to express why I do what I do in the way I best know how.
I hope this manifesto will inspire you like it inspires me. I hope you connect with my thoughts and share your own writer’s manifesto with all of us – recognising why you write will breathe new life into the process. I can guarantee it.
So here it is: the Infinitely Obscure writer’s manifesto.
“My inspiration tends to come from two words. The two most important words to a writer: “What if?”” -Beth Revis.
As a writer, I adore What if -questions. They give you freedom to experiment, to be goofy, to be serious. They can lead you down paths you never would’ve taken otherwise. I’ve found them the most lucrative form of writing prompts.
“What if?” is a simple question, yet it can expand to hundreds and hundreds of possibilities. And what’s most fun is that different writers will interpret the same question differently. The beauty of what-ifs is that there are no right or wrong answers.
Today, I want to share 25 playful “What if” writing prompts with you. Let them spark your creativity. Let them lead you somewhere mysterious. Let them transport you to another reality and explore them to your heart’s content.
I’m not sure how I feel about the word ‘productive’. Sure, it has some nice meanings behind it, and when we talk about it, we mean well. But I also know that being productive isn’t worth everything. When I tried to get things done as efficiently as possible, I ended up with a calendar that didn’t give me any space to breathe, as well as anxiety about things that still needed doing.
In short, being productive is extremely useful – it’s a sign that you’re approaching your passion like a profession, and that’s the first step to becoming professional in that area. So yes, you should definitely strive for productivity.
But no, you should not strive for productivity above everything else. I think humans are excellent at pushing themselves to their limits, and creative people do that probably on a daily basis. So, when planning out tips about being more productive, I also wanted to pay attention to being gentle.
Set yourself achievable goals, but do it gently. Don’t grind your teeth together and think this is something you just have to muddle through somehow. That way lies nights of desperation and days filled with constant anxiety.
Here’s my gentle guide to productivity for writers.
One of the things I worried about becoming a writer was that I’d feel lonely. I didn’t want to be cooped up inside, while everyone else was enjoying their freedom outside in the open air. Yes, I really did think I would turn into a dusty ball of loneliness.
I’m glad to say that’s not what happened at all.
Since I’ve started approaching writing like a job, I’ve found that my life is full of opportunities to meet new people and network. Sure, a lot of the work includes sitting in front of the computer in solitude, but I don’t consider myself lonely at all.
Today, I want to share what a day in the life of a writer could look like. This is just one of my days from this week, and while every workday is a little different, I wanted to show you what kinds of things you can potentially do as a professional writer.
So, here’s a sneak peek into a day in the life of this writer.
“I’m here to help you grow and remind you that stupid is fun and failure is rewarding.” -Grace Helbig
A couple of days ago, I found out that I didn’t get a work project I really wanted. I’m stressed out about money right now, so this felt like a major setback for me. After I’d finished wallowing, I started to think about it and realised that a) there are lessons to be learned from this failure, and b) fearing failure would’ve been useless.
Creative people are notoriously afraid of failure. But it’s not useful, because it can hold you back from failing. Yes, failing is so incredibly useful that you shouldn’t try to prevent it.
Failure doesn’t make you a less wonderful person, or a failure at everything you do. Failure can actually help you succeed. And because it is so helpful, I’ve learned that fearing it doesn’t really make sense.
But I know it’s hard to not fear failure. Here’s why you should abandon your fear and welcome failure to turn you into a better artist.
Two years ago, I was pacing my bedroom in tears. My work-in-progress was going nowhere, and I needed something new to power my writing process. So I turned to the thing I know best after writing: theatre. The moment I started working like an actor was the moment that changed my writing forever.
My experience in the theatre (as a writer, director, and actor) has always shaped my writing, and I believe these techniques shouldn’t stay hidden in the rehearsal room, when they can also be applied elsewhere. Today, I want to talk you through acting techniques that writers can easily borrow and adapt to electrify their writing process.
The techniques I’ll be talking about are:
Interviewing your characters
Performing to yourself
So, here we go: How to work like an actor to electrify your writing.
It’s day 6 of Camp NaNoWriMo, which means you probably have a decent amount of words in already. For me, the one-week mark means that the honeymoon phase is over and the writing gets a little more difficult at this stage. So today, I want to share 15 exceptional resources for boosting your Camp NaNoWriMo (or any other) project.
Creating something new is a powerful event, and one that as writers we like to stay on top of. I struggle with my first drafts, because I constantly see things I want to change.
I’m writing the draft for myself, and I’m already thinking what my audience would think if they saw all the garbage I spit out on the page! But of course, no one is going to read your first draft but you. You don’t have to show your work to anyone until you’ve rewritten it yourself.
In theatre, we call mistakes gifts, because they often generate new ideas that work even better than what we were going for. So when you’re writing your first draft for Camp NaNoWriMo, go bravely towards failure – it might lead to something more magnificent than you could ever imagine.
But let’s face it – on occasion, you will need to look for inspiration, or just change your mindset for a moment to get a fresh look on your first draft. That’s what this list is for. Choose any site, visit it, and be prepared to feel inspired. (Psst! These are all resources that work just as well with other writing projects.)
Here are 15 helpful resources to inspire you this April Camp NaNoWriMo:
Today, we have something wonderful in store: Niina Paasikallio from Northern Chapters is going to talk us through writing YA (young adult) fiction. I’m actually trying my hand at YA for the first time during this month’s Camp NaNoWriMo, so I’m ready to take all of Niina’s points to heart . Take it away, Niina!
When I started writing my first novel, I didn’t stop to think about the genre. The story simply screamed “YA” at me and that’s the road I’ve been following ever since.
But what is YA? What’s important about it? Could you write it? Let’s find out!
While YA stands for Young Adult, there are different opinions about what counts as “young.” The age can range all the way from 13 to 23, but the majority falls somewhere between 14 and 18.
I don’t mean the majority of readers, mind you. People of all ages love and read books targeted at teens! The age of the protagonist is usually the deciding factor.
With age come age-related issues. YA novels are very often “coming of age” novels that follow the protagonist on his/her journey from naive and childish to smart and mature (how mature a 15-year-old can be is under debate but he/she still grows during the story).
Many, many people love books not only because they transport them into other worlds but because they help them understand their own world.
The YA age range tends to be a difficult time for a lot of people, so watching a fictional character tackle similar issues can be a huge relief. Problems with family, turbulent friendships, first loves, feeling lost… All of these are common themes in YA novels.
Life can be heavy and painful so the themes in YA books can be heavy and painful too. I can’t remember how many times I’ve heard people express their love for literature by saying something like “I was having a rough time in my life but when I read that book, I didn’t feel so alone. Someone else was going through the same problems as I was!”
While you might not be thrown against an evil wizard or find yourself in an inescapable maze in real life, you can relate to the characters arguing under stress or trying to hide their fears to look stronger in front of others.
Also, YA books tend to be on the shorter side compared to some “adult” books. Jumping right into the story without further ado is appealing to readers.
Lovely thing about writing YA (or writing in general) is that anyone can do it!
Even if you’re older than the YA target range or your protagonist, you can still write a convincing story. Look at JK Rowling or John Green — both have written highly successful YA novels with protagonists far younger than they were at the time of writing.
You just have to make it authentic. Don’t write a YA novel about a group of 14-year-old girls with dialogue like this: “OMG, I’m sooo in love with that cutie pop star!” “Eew, no way! He’s sooo gross.” “LOL you don’t get it! I heart him!”
Okay, that might’ve not been the best example. But the point is that whenever you’re writing about people that are far from your own current situation, take care not to overdo it. Some characters might use OMG and LOL and so on, but I highly doubt everyone else would too.
So, planning on writing a YA novel but still a bit confused? This short list might just help you get started.
1. Choose the age
13-year-olds usually act and face very different problems than 18-year-olds, so be careful when planning your characters. Someone who’s just reached adulthood is much more likely to embark on a long adventure across the country whereas someone still dreaming about high school might find enough trouble with a friend who’s been spreading nasty rumors.
2. Think about your theme
The story should have a core theme. Is it about finding yourself, growing friendships, handling heartbreak? Your protagonist must grow during the story, so give them something that’ll force them to change their attitude and views.
3. Do your research
While it’s okay to write freely from your mind, it’s also important to know when and what to research. If you’re in your 40s and don’t have any teens around you, writing a contemporary YA novel might be harder than you think. Find people that are similar to your protagonist and ask them questions about their lives.
4. Keep it smart
Teenagers are rarely stupid. They are young and can be naive, but don’t dumb your story down because “the kids wouldn’t understand this.” You can write about heavy themes (drugs, death, heartbreak, depression etc.) because teens face them too — they just handle them differently than adults.
5. Remember the age
If your protagonist is 16, they’ll act as if they were 16. They don’t always make great decisions or control their emotions or see that adults could be right.
6. Write an awesome story
Quite obvious but let’s add it. Whether you’re writing a children’s book or an adult book or a YA book, it all comes down to the story. Entertain us! It’s important to keep your characters believable but you also need to spin a believable story.
Are you still here? Get out and write that YA novel!
About the writer
Niina is a writer from Finland and currently she’s focusing on finishing her YA fantasy trilogy. While she waits to acquire a dragon of her own, she dedicates her time to writing about them or other mystical beings. Magic and fantasy are close to her heart but she won’t turn away from good sci-fi either.
In between writing her books and juggling “real life,” Niina blogs about her opinions and adventures in her blog, Northern Chapters. She can also be found on Twitter and Goodreads.