Tag Archives: tips

How To Avoid Stigmatising Mental Health In Your Novel

Hi guys and welcome back to my blog. In today’s post I’m going to be talking about how to avoid stigmatising mental health in your novel. Unfortunately, there is a lot of stigma attached to mental illness (and in my opinion made worse by social media) and people seem to be determined to see mental illness in a certain way. Every single person suffering from an illness is completely different, and everyone’s experiences are individual. The portrayal of mental illnesses in popular fiction (books, TV, film etc), if done incorrectly, can make the stigma worse and is damaging to those of us who suffer. Below, I’m going to share some tips to help you portray mental illness in the best way you can..

Although not everyone will feel comfortable sharing their experiences, as long as you are respectful and remain non judgemental some sufferers will be perfectly happy to give you some insight. Talking to actual sufferers of mental illness can be enlightening and give you valuable first hand accounts on what it’s like to live with a condition. This information can enable you to to craft a realistic portrayal of a character suffering from a mental illness.

Side note – remember never use information that enables anyone to be identified. Remove all identifying features, change their histories and/or life experiences so your character is a new person. Lots of writers use bits and pieces from all different kinds of people to create characters, because basing a character too similar to someone in real life can open you up to problems.

Use proper, respected sites to gather your information about the mental illness you are including in your novel. Remember that there are many different symptoms related to mental illnesses and you don’t always have to just use the typical, well known ones in your novel.

Some greats sites include Mind | Childline | Rethink | Beat.

Don’t scrimp on research, and make it a priority to check and double check before the final manuscript is released. Also, take your time when you are developing characters to make sure that every aspect is weaved into the story. Make sure you have accounted for things like possible causes, a detailed history and how it affects their everyday life.

It can be easy to observe mental illness in films/books/tv shows and automatically assume the portrayal is correct or that’s the only way someone with a mental illness presents. Sadly, many fictional portrayals (especially films) can be highly stigmatised and often show sufferers to be dangerous. Also, don’t use information from tabloid newspapers. These articles can be harmful for stigma and often contain incorrect information.

This irritates me because recovery is not something that happens overnight and it’s unlikely to happen without treatment of some sort. These things take time and hard work. Acting like miraculous recovery is the norm may make people believe that that’s how it happens in real life, or that all you have to do is think positive and boom, you’re cured.

Have you written a fiction book including mental illness? Do you have any tips for writers on this topic?


What’s In My Writer Toolkit? (And Tips On Creating Your Own!)

Hi guys and welcome back to my blog. In today’s post I’m going to be sharing what’s in my writer toolkit and how you can go about making your own. There are many definitions as to what a writer toolkit is but to me it’s anything I need nearby or anything I find helpful when I’m writing. I keep the majority of my items in the above Harry Potter bag one of my close friends got me for Christmas (you can check out her blog here!) Without further ado, here is my writer toolkit..

Novel bible.

This is probably the most important item in my toolkit. If you don’t know what a novel bible is it’s basically a collection of all aspects of your novel – character information, locations, scenes, research etc. It’s so when you’re writing you have all the information at hand. Although there are computer programs that are great for this, I find there’s nothing like good old pen and paper. It also saves having 10 tabs open and getting easily distracted from writing. At the moment I’m currently in the process of trying different things to discover which works best for me as a writer, but for now I am just using an A4 notebook.

Bullet journal.

At the present time I just have one bullet journal for all of my needs – including my personal planning as well as my writing life. I’m in the process of deciding on whether or not I want a separate one just for writing, but for now my one bullet journal always needs to be nearby so I know where I’m up to and what I need to do next.

If you’d like to see inside of my bullet journal you can see my 2019 Bullet Journal post here. 

Scene cards.

It took me a long time to discover the advantages of using index cards for my scenes, but it’s honestly the best way I’ve found to organise my outline. In my toolkit I keep my current novel’s scene cards as well as some spare ones in case I need to add anything in as I go.

Emotion thesaurus.

I’ve had my eye on this book for a while after seeing it recommended in a YouTube video. I struggle a lot with ‘show don’t tell’ especially when it comes to emotions. This book is helping me so much with finding different ways of describing emotions whilst also improving my writing. This should be a staple in all writer’s toolkits!

The Witch’s Journal and The Green Witch.

I am fascinated by anything to do with Witchcraft and the Pagan religion so it’s only natural it creeps into my novels. I was pleased to receive these books for Christmas from my best friend, and I put them straight into my toolkit. They are an amazing reference for writing my current and future novels.

1000 Words To Expand Your Vocabulary.

This was another book I received for Christmas from Channie! As a writer I am fascinated by words and this is a great book for learning new words!

iPad keyboard.

Lastly, I have my iPad keyboard. It’s nothing fancy, just a bog standard Bluetooth keyboard. I do the majority of my writing on my iPad because I find writing on a computer hurts my eyes and because it’s heavy I can’t use it for long periods of time. However, there’s nothing like typing on a keyboard so this was an essential purchase for me.

  • What are some essentials you can’t write without? Maybe it’s things you absolutely must have before you can even start writing. Notebooks, laptop/tablet, pens, novel bibles, scene cards are some ideas.
  • Are there any reference books that you find useful when your writing, or that relate to your current work in progress? For example – my witch’s journal. However, this could also mean dictionaries or thesaurus, or vocabulary books.
  • Are there any books on the craft of writing you like to dip in and out of while writing?
  • Do you like to keep a planner for your writing? Somewhere you write down your goals, deadlines, ideas? Whether that’s a bullet journal, Filofax, page a day diary etc.
  • Anything you use/get inspiration from – favourite books, pictures, music, quotes.

Do you have a writer toolkit? If so, what’s in yours?

The Dreaded Reading Slump (And How To Pull Yourself Out!)

We all know the situation – you pick up a book and YOU JUST CAN’T READ! It’s the bane of a readers existence and personally I feel like, in the reader world, there’s nothing worse than a reading slump. I went through so many slumps this year and at times I thought my brain might explode from lack of reading! I’m here today to pick out some of the reasons why slumps happen and also offer some tips to get out of one…

Possible causes..

Too much Netflix!

I can lose hours and hours of time binge watching a new tv show I just discovered. 77 episodes later and I’ll emerge from the shame and realise I haven’t picked up a book in days. This is also happens with YouTube – I watch one video and then fall down the black hole of clicking every video that pops up..

You’ve just finished the best book ever.

The times when nothing will ever compare to the book you’ve just finished and everything else beside it is going to be rubbish. This happened to me with Caraval and Legendary this year, and was responsible for my big slump around July. I sulked because all I wanted to read was the 3rd book in the series and it wasn’t out yet!

You can’t get into the current book you’re reading.

This happens to me a lot. It’s when you don’t connect with the book but you’re too stubborn to move onto another one. It then causes you to lose the oomph to pick up the book and actually read it.

You’ve read too much.

I wish this wasn’t even a thing. This is when your brain basically tells you to stop reading before it explodes. It’s the times when you want to read but your brain doesn’t.

My top tips for getting our a reading slump.

Re-read an old favourite.

For me, it’s Harry Potter. If I’m struggling with a slump I’ll pick up this series. It always reminds me of how exciting I find reading and inspires me to explore other worlds. Plus, I know the story back to front so it doesn’t involve much concentration.

Try an audiobook.

I love audiobooks! They help me get out of a slump if I’m struggling with concentration. The beauty of them is that you don’t have to do anything but listen. I recommend Scribd – they provide audiobooks and ebooks. Unlike Audible which only allows you 1 audiobook per month, you have unlimited use for the entire month for £7.99 (which is the same as audible)

Try short stories.

This is a brilliant trick for reading slumps. Something short and quick to read usually helps me find the joy in reading again.

Don’t try to read.

Sometimes your brain just needs a break so listen to it. Do anything other than reading for a few hours or days and then try again!

Don’t be stubborn and DNF a book you’re not enjoying.

There are too many books in the world to read – that you’ll probably enjoy – to stay hung up on a book you’re not into. It took me a long time to realise this so I’d always force myself to finish every single book I picked up. Don’t do it to yourself – it’s not worth it and you’ll probably miss out on great books with all the time you’ve wasted on trying to finish a book you’re not connecting with.

Try a different genre.

Maybe you’re having what I’d like to call a ‘genre burnout’. If all you ever read is fantasy, then maybe try contemporary. Or if you read sci-fi, then try fantasy and so on.

Head on to Goodreads or Instagram etc.

I do this all the time when I’m in a reading slump because when I see others flying through books, it reminds my brain of how much joy I get from reading. However, air on the side of caution as this could backfire and make your slump worse if you find yourself getting frustrated that you can’t read.

These are just some of the tips I find help me when I’m in a reading slump. What are some top tips that help you get out of a reading slump?

How To Survive The Cold When You Suffer From Chronic Pain

Hey guys and welcome to Blogmas day 21. Today I’m going to be sharing some tips on how to cope with the cold when you suffer from chronic pain. The colder weather can be a nightmare. I know I feel a sense of dread when winter arrives and the bitterly cold air creeps in. There are some things you can do to help with the cold and I hope the following tips allow you to feel more comfortable this winter..

Layer clothing and consider investing in thermals.

This may seem like the obvious suggestion but the amount of times I’ve gone out without layering my clothing is too many to count. By the time I realise I’ve forgotten the cold has already got into my bones. Choose thinner clothing to go underneath heavier clothing, and you could even think about investing in some thermal leggings and long sleeved tops. I find they work really well so they’re worth it and you can pick some up pretty cheap.

If you’re home – fill up a hot water bottle.

One thing that’s always good to have on hand is a hot water bottle or wheat bag. Not only are they good for pain but they’re also really good at warming you up. Grab a hot drink to go with it and you’re sure to feel cosy.

Grab a blanket.

Blankets, blankets, blankets! You could even get one of those blankets with pockets for your hands. They’re great for adding extra warmth if layering your clothing isn’t cutting it. They’re also great for having on your bed for extra warmth in the night if you get cold.

Take a warm bath or shower before bed.

There’s nothing like taking a hot shower or bath before bed and it can help with warming your bones. It could also help you sleep better during the night so that’s an added bonus.

Try to keep your hands and feet warm.

If you’re anything like me then cold hands and feet are the bane of your life. I find that if my feet are cold then everywhere else is cold too. That’s why it’s so important to try and keep your hands and feet as much as possible. Gloves, hand warmers, microwaveable slippers and wearing extra socks (even around the house!) can all help you with this.

Travel with an umbrella.

If there’s one thing worse than being cold – it’s been wet and cold. I always feel like the rain gets deep into my bones when I get drenched. An umbrella is something I always carry around in my bag so if the rain hits I’m prepared. Also, if you’re a wheelchair user I recommend investing in this wheelchair cosy. It’s waterproof so prevents your legs from getting wet and it also has a lovely fur lining on the inside for extra warmth.

Have you got any tips of how to survive the cold with chronic pain?

How To Deal With The Anxiety of a New Year

The thought of a new year when you have anxiety can be an overwhelming and terrifying thought. The bone crushing fear of another year full of promise, and the overwhelming expectations can end up in another year full of so much anxiety and failure that it can overwhelm you. The fear of failure is unrational, the fear of not being good enough is unrational and for the most part we know that – but that overwhelming fear is a reality for many of us who suffer with anxiety.

I for one was adamant that 2018 was ‘going to be my year’ – just like all the other years before that. Instead it ending up being another in a long line of bad health and stressful situations. There were amazing things that happened this year – including finally moving into a wheelchair accessible bungalow, starting up my blog and finally starting to write my first draft of my book. I don’t have all the answers neither am I living proof that the following things are guaranteed to work but hopefully the following advice can somehow make 2019 less of a burden for you…

Make goals.

And I don’t mean massive stuff like lose weight or learning to drive or starting a new job. I mean small, actionable goals, things you can easily cross off so you don’t feel like you’re useless and can’t do anything. For example – say you want to learn to drive, you could break that bigger goal down into actionable steps like ‘decide on learning manual or automatic’, ‘research driving instructors’, ‘contact driving instructors’ and so on and so forth until you achieve the big goal.

Surround yourself with positive people.

Unfortunately there are people in life who can become toxic and affect your mental health. Cut ties with the people who make you feel negative and bring you down instead of building you up. As hard as it may be you have to do what is best for you and if that means cutting ties with people who make you feel bad about yourself then it’s what you have to do.

Don’t expect too much from yourself.

There’s no use in pushing and pushing until you explode because that’s not going to get you anywhere. Start small and work your way up. Don’t put pressure on yourself to do things you aren’t ready for and focus on the things you are better able to do at a given moment.

Try to be proud of the little things.

Sometimes it’s easy to become fixated on all the things you can’t do. You forget that it’s the little things that get you through – getting out of bed, taking a shower or cooking a meal. To a lot of people these things may be the easiest thing in the world but for those of us with anxiety they are massive. Be proud of these small accomplishments as well as the bigger ones.


Do you have any advice to someone who is feeling anxious about a new year?

10 Tips For Keeping Your Pets Happy This Christmas

Christmas can be an extremely stressful time for your pets. The excitement, loud noises, bustling rooms and lots of people can be overwhelming. More than likely your beloved pet is one of the family and you want them to be part of your Christmas. Luckily there are some simple, effective steps you can take to make the process easier for them..

Keep toxic foods out of reach.

Most people will know that chocolate is toxic to both cats and dogs – it can make them extremely unwell and possibly be fatal. However, there are other festive foods that are just as dangerous for your pet – Christmas pudding, mince pies, alcohol and nuts are just some of them. Please always check foods are pet safe before giving it to them, nobody wants Christmas Day to end in disaster, especially when it’s easily avoided.

Make sure they have a safe place.

Especially if you have lots of people coming over. Preferably this place should be in a different room or away from people. Leave their favourite toys or blankets there so they are more likely to associate the place with positive emotions. Never force your pet to be around the bustle if it’s stressing them out. If they choose to spend the entire time in their safe space – then leave them to it. Cats especially love places they can hide in. One of my cats isn’t very good with people and she’ll fly behind the furniture or under my wheelchair if she feels afraid. It helps her to feel safe and less threatened so consider creating some hiding spots if you don’t have any naturally.

Try and keep as much as their routine as possible.

For example – try and keep their feeding times, toilet breaks and bedtime the same. This isn’t always practical but if their are familiar aspects to everyday hopefully that will help them cope better with the changes throughout the day.

Make sure to still give them attention.

As Christmas is a busy time with the hustle and bustle of visiting loved ones and opening of presents. It can be easy to become so preoccupied that you don’t leave time to give your pet the attention they still need, and even if you’re only able to sit down with them for 10 minutes at the end of the day. Unfortunately, our pets don’t understand that Christmas is a busy time and the last thing you’d want is for your pet to feel like you’re ignoring them and they feel sad.

Don’t leave them alone for long periods.

Especially not overnight. At Christmas you can be busy going here and there. If you have to leave for hours on end make sure there is someone available to pop in and check on them – remember they depend on us for their every need.

Be careful with candles.

The last thing anyone wants is an injured pet. Tails are lethal and the tiniest wag or wiggle can catch on fire in seconds. Consider buying some battery operated candles instead – it could be the safer option for everyone.

Make sure you’re aware of the emergency vet number.

And also how they operate over the Christmas period. God forbid anything should happen and your pet needs emergency medical help. The last thing you want to be doing is faffing around looking for the telephone number. Keep the number written down on a sheet of paper or pop into your local vets and pick up a business card. It’s better to be prepared and ready for any situation.

Don’t change their diet drastically.

It’s fine to give them a little treat here and there, and even to make them their own pet safe Christmas dinner (remember what I discussed at the beginning of this post!), but too much change can give your pet an upset stomach, so be sure to be careful about how much you give them.

Be wary of Christmas decorations.

Your house can still look like Santa’s grotto and be pet friendly. Cats are notorious for climbing up Christmas trees (luckily mine aren’t bothered too much), so leaving them in the room alone with it probably isn’t the best idea. A falling Christmas tree can cause some pretty bad injuries. Tinsel is also highly dangerous if pets eat it and it lodges in their throat or causes a blockage in their digestive system.

Lastly, why not get them their own present? It is Christmas after all!

I probably don’t need to include this one! I know I’ve got a stocking for each of them already. Don’t let them feel left out, bring them right into the festivities. Check out my pet gift guide if you need some ideas!

Have you got some tips on how to keep pets safe this Christmas?

5 Tips On Supporting Someone Who Is Struggling This Christmas

Christmas is a lovely time of year however it can also be the time of year that people suffering from a chronic illness (whether that’s physical or mental) particularly struggle. If you know someone – whether they are family or friends here are some simple tips to better able you to support them this year…

If you know someone is going to be alone, consider inviting them around to spend Christmas with your family.

It’s probably not going to take you much longer to serve another person their Christmas dinner and involve them in the festivities. But to someone who’d otherwise spend it alone it would mean the absolute world. Back in 2012 I was faced with spending Christmas Day on my own for another year in a row. My best friend and her amazing grandma let me stay with them so I didn’t have to spend it on my own – it meant so much to me and I’ll never forget the gesture.

Don’t put pressure on them.

Invite them but don’t be offended or pushy if they say no. Sometimes people need to stay away from big events for their own well-being. However, the gesture is still a good thing for them to know someone is thinking of them and wants to include them. The same goes for not eating or staying quiet – never put pressure on your loved one to do anything they aren’t comfortable with.

Check in on them.

It doesn’t take one minute to check up on someone. A simple text, message, phone call, video call can go a long way. Ask them how they are doing, ask them what they’ve been up to or just let them know you’re thinking of them. Sometimes all someone needs to know is that someone cares or is thinking of them – especially at Christmas.

Don’t get angry if there’s something they can’t do.

There are certain things that your loved one won’t be able to do and you need to accept and respect that. Everyone is at different levels when it comes to their ability or illness – for example, some may be able to cook a 4 course meal but others won’t even be able to, but they could put the kettle on.

If you see them struggling – ask if they need help.

Not in a patronising way – but in a way that makes them feel like it’s OK if they need help. Sometimes it can be hard for someone suffering from an illness to let people know they need help, so offering can be a useful thing for you to do.

Do you have any tips of how someone can support their loved ones this Christmas?