I’ve missed doing the ‘5 Things‘ post series, it’s been so long! So today I wanted to share with you 5 things I keep on my writing desk.
I’m lucky enough to have a dedicated space in my apartment for writing. I have a desk that sits in the alcove behind our kitchen (great position because it’s close to the coffee machine) where I face a window and have plenty of natural light. It’s small, but it’s mine.
These are the 5 things you’ll always find on my desk (aside from the obvious, my laptop!):
Romance Llama: my writing mascot, a furry stuffed llama with a lopsided smile, lives on my desk. He keeps me company during the day when I’m home alone, and he puts a smile on my face. Want to know more about romance llama?
Noise Cancelling Headphones: Sometimes I’m still writing by the time my husband gets home. Often I write on the weekend. Noise cancelling headphones keep me sane when all I can hear are the not-so soothing sounds of GTA 5.
A candle: I’m always burning candles, I love the way they scent the apartment and the flickering flame makes me feel all warm and cosy. The current one on my desk is Yankee Candle Hazelnut Coffee – mmmmm!
A notebook: I’m a little bit old school in that I only take notes by hand. I write and plan on my laptop, but when revising or thinking up an idea for a new story I find it easier to write it down. This is also my excuse for buying endless amounts of cute stationary.
A throw: It can get very cold when you’re sitting by a window, especially in winter. I love to rug up in a cuddly light-weight blanket when I write – my current one is from IKEA.
What are the things you always have by your side when writing?
I normally do lists with 5 things, hence why this post is categorised under “5 things”. Why 5? A list of 5 things is manageable, when you complete 3 things you’re already over half way, and 5 has always struck me as a solid number. A building block, you might call it.
Why then, if 5 is so great, is this a list of 10 things?
When you’re waiting to hear back from an editor it feels like time moves at a snails pace…worse, even. What’s slower than a snail? That’s how badly the hours seem to drag. The constant checking of your email, Twitter (just in case the editor your stalking following announces that they have a ‘special call’ to make), checking your phone for missed calls with London or New York numbers…
You need a list of more than 5 things because you need to be as busy as humanly possible to keep from going insane…or is that just me? Currently, I’m waiting to hear back on four projects: the revisions for my category romance, slush submissions for my novella, and two short stories submitted to anthologies. Trust me, the more things you can do to occupy yourself the better.
Your sanity will thank you.
Get working on SOMETHING ELSE – a new project is always a great distraction. Try planning out a new story or dust off something you’ve worked on previously.
Keep Writing – this might seem like the same as point one, but writing doesn’t have to mean working on projects that you’ll submit to an editor. I enjoy blogging (I actually started blogging about perfume recently, that’s another passion of mine), but you might want to dabble in a different medium like poetry, non fiction etc. Just keep those writerly muscles moving.
Pick up a book you’ve been dying to read – I saved Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins for when I had finished my revisions. Getting lost in a good book is a great way to distract you from the dreaded wait.
Reconnect with the people you neglected whilst retreating into your writing cave – remember those people whose faces filled your photographs…yeah? You should probably call them.
Clean the house – I’m not joking, cleaning is a great distraction and if you’re anything like me this is one area that gets neglected when you’re on a deadline.
Exercise – see point #6
Get involved in the writing community – there are plenty of ways to do this, join a writer’s group, volunteer with your local writing organisation, find a critique partner or join a forum. If you’re going to wait, you may as well have company.
Do SOMETHING ELSE – when you’re stuck in the writers cave it can feel all consuming. Take some time to do something other than writing or editing, for me it was getting back into yoga and watching YT videos (book hauls are surprisingly addictive).
Support another author – I believe in karma and giving back. There’s plenty of space for all of us in the writing world, so why not support an author you love by tweeting about their book, giving them a review on Amazon or Good Reads or writing to them and telling them how much you love their books.
Prepare for The Call – nothing wrong with a little wishful thinking right? Have you got a website, a social media presence, any of the things you’d like to have in place when an editor calls and says those magical four words “we want your book”? Maybe it’s my inner girl scout, but I’d like to be prepared…just in case.
A while ago someone asked me why I like reading romance novels (ya know, cause apparently smart girls don’t do that…excuse me while I find something to throw). I wasn’t prepared for the question and answered with the horribly inarticulate ‘uuummm…because they’re awesome.’
As penance – and so I am better prepared for the question next time – I decided to come up with a list of 50 reasons I love reading romance novels.
Here we go:
1. I love hearing about how people find one another in this big, crazy world
2. I’m addicted to that warm fuzzy feeling I get when the hero and heroine kiss for the first time
3. Romance novels offer hope and escapism when life feels tough
4. Many of them are really well written
5. They inspire me to write
6. I secretly love the old-school, hook-y titles like ‘the Billionaire Sheik’s Virgin Mistress’s Secret Baby’
7. They allow me to forget the limits of the real world
8. They allow me to be someone else and to slip into their life
9. They allow me to fall in love all over again
10. All the men are hot – who doesn’t want that?
11. Steamy, well-written, emotive sex scenes
12. Strong, successful, kick-ass heroines
13. Variety – romance novels cover every time period, heat level, location and set up that you could possibly imagine
14. I love a happy ending (get your mind out of the gutter…)
15. I love a happy ending (ok, mind back in the gutter)
16. Sexual tension – it kills me but I love it
17. Pretty covers
18. Witty banter between the hero and heroine
19. Connect stories and series that go longer than three books
20. The variety of voice and authors to choose from
21. Hot billionaires
22. Hot CEOs – who never look like they do in real life
23. Hot cowboys/ranchers/royals/bad boys/rock stars/CIA Agents/the list goes on
24. Old school Fabio covers featuring excessive use of wind machines and open shirts
25. Stories at every length imaginable – from the super short novellas to 100k+ fantasy or historical epics
26. The grovel
27. The interrupted kiss
28. The moment the hero realises he’s been a complete douche
29. They’re affordable enough for me to justify any purchase
30. Exotic settings
31. They allow me to play out a fantasy
32. I’ll never run out of things to read
33. Buying and reading romance books means I am supporting other women to live their dream
34. The declaration
35. Empowered female characters
36. Sequel bait
37. The romance reading community is awesome
38. Not having to wait for ages for the next book to come out (YA books I’m looking at you)
39. Pure, unadulterated and unabashed entertainment
40. An option to suit every mood – whether I want something dark and deep, or fun and flirty
41. Better for your brain than TV
42. Matching spines look pretty on my shelf
43. Sparkling secondary characters
44. Seeing people work through real-life struggles
45. Unravelling the characters to find out who they really are
46. Seeing old tropes get twisted and reinvented over and over
47. Friends to love = swoon
48. They make me happy
49. Seeing people who’d given up find hope
50. Satisfying last lines
Phew! Anything you’d add to this list? Leave your reasons in the comments below.
This time next week I’ll be all the way over the other side of Australia. I’m super excited to be attending the annual Romance Writers of Australia conference for the first time. RWA is a brilliant association for romance writers. The conference is the chance for us all to get together and learn, share and let loose!
Here are the 5 things I’m most excited about:
The breakout sessions – because I’m a nerd I’m always looking for learning opportunities and the variety of the breakout sessions is enough to make your head spin. I’ve already mapped out which ones I’m planning to attend and if I had to pick one I’m really excited about it would be the Sexual Tension: The Undertow of Romance with Rachel Bailey.
The Nautical or Nice cocktail party – mainly because I know there will be a whole bunch of people dresses as pirates and it will be awesome.
Pitching – Yes, I’m taking the plunge and I’m nervous as all hell! But it will be an incredible experience, so I’m definitely looking forward to it.
Meeting the authors who inspire me – I’ve had the incredible experience of meeting a few awe-inspiring authors already (Annie West, Anna Campbell and Anne Gracie to name a few!) and knowing I’ll get to meet a whole bunch more at conference is enough to make go all fan-girl.
Meeting other newbies – Sometimes writing can be an isolating activity, even with all the contact online. The opportunity to meet other people in the same stage of the journey as me (knowing we’re all working towards out dreams) is one of the perks of the conference IMO.
The next week is going to feel very long while I count down the days, lucky I have a lot of writing to do ;)
Are you heading to RWA13? What are you most excited about?
I mentioned recently that I am going through the editing process for the first time. I’m polishing my manuscript (Love en Pointe) for submission, but I’m itching to get back to ‘writing’ with the kind of abandon that only works for a first daft.
I know editing is an important part of the process. It’s what helps to make a story shine, but I must admit that hours and hours of wordsmithing sometimes does my head in…
Hence, here are 5 things to do when you should be editing but aren’t…
Housework – I know I’m procrastinating when the urge to do some washing hits me. I can’t possibly sit down to edit with a sink full of dirty dishes or an overflowing wash basket is looking me in the eye.
Instagram (or Pintrest, We Heart It…any site filled with pretty pictures) – visual creatures unite on these website, and they provide for hours and hours of excellent procrastination time. I’ll just look at one more page of pretty nail[polish before I start editing…
Online Shopping – ahhh ASOS, how many times I have been spending my money instead of editing. Same goes for Etsy, Book Depository and Amazon – retail therapy is a legitimate therapeutical activity…isn’t it?
Looking at pictures of grumpy cat – aka getting stuck in the meme hole. Also in this category are trawling through hilarious pictures of LOL Cats, Overly Attached Girlfriend / socially awkward penguin / success kid / fail memes, pictures of daschunds, funny GIFs and anything on Tumblr.
CSI – and general TV watching which I class as ‘character research’. I have a weakness for crime shows with acronyms so CSI, NCIS, Law & Order SVU, and occasionally (if I want to play a drinking game) CSI Miami for it’s inadvertent use of humour are at the top of my list.
Honourable mentions go to: reading (a totally worthwhile activity whether you’re editing or not), doing The Age quiz on my iPad, bossing my husband around while he plays Resident Evil (I always know the right way to get away from Zombies and he just wastes all our ammo), making my second/third/fourth cup of tea, and stalking people on Facebook.
In all seriousness (just for a second and then I’ll get back to being a clown) I’m spending a lot of time editing at the moment. It’s a tough activity but one I know will be so worthwhile to my manuscript. However, when you’ve read the same sentence five times and the words have lost all meaning, you just have to tear your eyes away and do something else.
What do you do when you’re procrastinating from your work? Anything you’d like to add to the above list?