maximizing productivity

1: don’t get distracted by your brothers watching movies in the next room. Not even if it’s Paddington. This, I stress, is the most essential. Try to block out distractions! They are the thieves of productivity! (obviously, you can’t get rid of some distractions. If you have smol children, please don’t leave them alone for long periods of time. They may wreck havoc throughout the rest of your home and then you’ll have a real distraction)

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(they’ll probably have fun, though.)

2: I’ve never been able to write with music going in the background (even instrumental tracks are too distracting for me). However, I do like some sort of background noise, and I’ve recently discovered, which helps you create a combination of your own. When I’m not in the mood for a thunderstorm (which isn’t often 🙂 ) I particularly like a mixture of wind, rustling leaves, and a faint train in the distance. My favorite part about noisli is that you can control how loud each element is, so if you want loud ocean waves crashing nearby with just the faintest of birdsong in the background, you can do so.

3: I don’t know about you, but the surest way for me to kill any inspiration is to open a blank word document. I just stare at it for twenty minutes and get nothing done. Dredging up those first few sentences are like pulling teeth. However, one thing that I’ve learned about myself is that it’s always easier to begin writing if I start hand-writing first. I don’t know what it is about putting pencil or pen to paper, but it’s much easier for me if I start that way and then don’t move to the computer until later. When I get frustrated because my fingers simply won’t move fast enough to get down all of my ideas, then I know it’s time to make the switch to my laptop.

4: I read this one on tumblr and thought it was ridiculous, but I decided to try it and…it kind of works? I’ve always known that changing the font of your document helps during the rewriting and especially the editing stage, but writing that first draft in comic sans? Like I did during middle school? But somehow, when everything looks cringy anyway, it unlocks that self-conscious block that can prevent writing–even if it’s terrible–and allows me to move forward.

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5: When I’m in the middle of a scene and I’m struggling with what happens next, I’ve been known to pace. Sometimes, as I walk back and forth, I act out the drama in my head. Or even literally act it out. It helps me set the tone of dialogue, and if I’m acting, what seems natural in the moment usually is. It helps especially in crafting arguments, I’ve noticed.

6. Sometimes–and this is more a school paper-writing habit than a fiction writing one–rewards work. When I get to five hundred words, I’ll have a Hershey’s kiss! One thousand words and I’ll go downstairs and get a snack! Yes, most of my rewards are food. And yes…it does take a bit of discipline to stick with it. But self-discipline is a Good Thing and this helps me practice it and helps me to get work done. (plus, I get food, so wins all around).

And, as always—

-pray ( a lot )

-drink ( a lot of ) water. Or coffee. Or tea.

-relax. You’ve got this.

recently read

Every Jane Austen book, everImage result for jane austen novels

I took a Jane Austen in Literature and Film class this semester, which meant I read through all of her books, including some of her teenage writings that I hadn’t read before. After all of this, I can say that Emma firmly remains my favorite Austen novel, but the big surprise was how much I loved Sense and Sensibility this time around–it’s never been my favorite, but in the five or so years since I first read it, I’ve discovered that it’s so, so much better than my younger self thought.

The Miller’s Girl // Nina Clare34876030

I haven’t read many “Rumpelstiltskin” retellings, so when I was in the mood for a fairy tale and saw this one was free (!) on Kindle, I snatched it up and started reading it immediately. I really liked it; it was pretty true to the original story, but was fleshed out and expanded with distinct characters and political drama. In my Goodreads review I mentioned the feel of it struck me as very reminiscent of the German TV show Sechs auf einen Streich (which is a compliment, because it’s a lovely show). The author has also written a retelling of “King Thrushbeard,” which I’m now very interested in reading!

Goodreads / Amazon

The Beast of Talesend // Kyle Robert ShultzThe Beast of Talesend: After Beauty and the Beast (Beaumont and Beasley Book 1) by [Shultz, Kyle]

I’m honestly embarrassed at how long it took me to get around to reading this book! I follow Kyle Robert Shultz on Twitter and we run in a lot of the same fairy tale-loving circles, so I’ve seen a lot about the Beaumont & Beasley series. It’s basically a 1920s detective story in a world where fairy tales exist, so obviously I’m going to love it, right? I’m pretty conservative when it comes to what magical content I’m “okay” with, so it did walk the line a little bit, but overall it’s an incredibly fun read with with lots of banter and humor, so A+ stuff.

Goodreads / Amazon

306841Old Friends and New Fancies // Sybil G. Brinton

Being in such a Jane Austen mood, I figured it was time to tackle Sybil G. Brinton’s 1914 “imaginary sequel” to Austen’s books. I enjoyed a lot of the connections she made between characters (like connecting William Price to the Wentworths because Navy™ and all that) but there were definitely some things I wasn’t keen on. I took particular offense of her portrayal of Emma and Mr. Knightley; I don’t think Brinton really understood the characters at all (and they’re my favorite, so I’m biased). Also, the decision to cast Mary Crawford as a victim in Mansfield Park was equally puzzling and not to my taste (a reformed Mary would have been an interesting thing; however, this novel didn’t really seem to fully grasp the horridness of some of her actions in MP). However, I liked Brinton’s decision to cast Georgiana as heroine, and it was interesting to see how Jane Austen’s characters were viewed by an author a hundred years ago.

Goodreads / Amazon / Project Gutenberg