Tag Archives: writer advice

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?

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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?

7 Tips For Writing When You Have a Chronic Illness

I’m a writer, I love to write. I’m always tapping out or scribbling down something. It saved me from a lot when I was a child. When I was scared or alone or hurt, I’d grab my pens and pad and start writing a story. I’d disappear into this make believe land I’d created inside my head. I’d write about things that were so far from reality, that I wouldn’t have to think about real life anymore. The ultimate dream is to write a book and have it published. I dream of walking into my favourite bookstore and seeing my book on the shelves amongst all the books I love to read.

Improving as a writer means discipline. It means finding the motivation from somewhere inside to write. It means writing when you have zero motivation or inspiration. It’s hard to keep that up no matter what but when you feel like your brain is on fire it can feel impossible.

Becoming a good writer takes time and practice, and the only way to improve and learn is by putting pen to paper. I’ve been taking some time lately to find ways to help me battle the brain fog so I’ve compiled some of the tips I’ve found helpful when writing with a chronic illness.


1. Pace Yourself.

Don’t force yourself to do a ridiculous amount of writing everyday. If one day all you can manage is a line then that’s ok – well done you for writing something! Don’t be tempted to burn yourself out if you don’t feel well enough – you might find that forcing yourself to finish that one piece could mean you aren’t able to do anything else for the rest of the week. If you find yourself losing concentration consider taking a break. Grab a drink, go outside and breathe for a while.

2. Write Everyday.

Like I said above – if you can only manage a line, then write a line. The most important thing to remember is to get something down everyday. Keep your brain active, keep challenging the brain fog so you don’t get bogged down. You can even set a reminder on your phone or stick a post-it note on the fridge so you don’t forget.

3. Celebrate Your Achievements.

I think it’s important for any writer, whether you have a chronic illness or not, to celebrate any and every achievement (no matter how small). It’s helpful in maintaining motivation and reminding yourself that you can do this.

4. Stay Organised.

This is important for any writer. Whether you use a bullet journal, a planner or a digital app. One of the biggest things I’ve found when I don’t use my bullet journal is that I become overwhelmed with all my projects and I end up not getting anything done.

5. Always Carry a Notebook.

Whether you use a traditional notebook or a digital app, it’s important to have a place where you can write down your ideas. I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve lost great ideas because I’ve not written them down right away.

6. Don’t compare yourself to other writers.

I’m guilty of this myself. Sometimes it’s hard to not get frustrated when you see other writers powering through their novels when you’re struggling to gather the concentration to write anything. But at the end of the day – it isn’t how slow you go, it’s about the end product. I still haven’t found peace with the fact it takes me longer to get stuff done because of my illness (not just in the writing world, but with other things in life too). I’m trying to get better at not comparing myself to others. It’s a work in progress but comparing can be so detrimental in your writing journey.

7. Try Audiobooks.

One of the most important things a writer can do is read. But sometimes when you suffer from symptoms that can prevent you from reading a traditional book or a eBook, you don’t get a lot of reading done. Audiobooks can help because you don’t have to hold a physical book and read the words – all you have to do is listen. Audible can be slightly expensive if you don’t have a lot of money – but here is a free app available on the Apple App Store. It’s hasn’t got the biggest selection of books as it’s free but there are still some great finds on there. Charity shops also sometimes have cheap audiobooks, and your local library should have a decent selection to choose from.

8. Above all else, believe in yourself.

Having a chronic illness (whether it’s a physical or mental illness) is tough going but it doesn’t mean you have to give up your dreams and goals in life. It may take a little longer to get there, but you can still achieve everything you’ve ever dreamed of. Keep going – you’re doing great.


These are my top tips for writing when you have a chronic illness. I hope there are things in here that can help you on your writing journey.

Do you have any tips for writing with a chronic illness? Let me know in the comments – any help will be much appreciated.

Writing How To: Strengths and Weaknesses of Planning & Pantsing

Hey guys! This post is inspired by a massive change I made recently to the novel I’m currently working on. I was sat there, 3/4 of the way through my plan and I decided I hated my protagonist and I wanted to change them. I realised how much of a pickle I’d be in if I hadn’t been planning my novel extensively. I’d be halfway through my first draft and have to completely rework the entire plot. It got me thinking about the different ways in which writers plan their novels and I’ve come up with the strengths and weaknesses of the two main methods.


Planning.

Planning is pretty self explanatory – it’s when a writer creates an outline in which they can work from when writing their novel.

Strengths.

  • You can fix plot holes as you notice them.
  • Characters are more fleshed out.
  • You’re less likely to hit the blank page syndrome.
  • It gives you a clear direction.

Weaknesses.

  • You run the risk of losing interest in the story.
  • It takes agessssss.
  • You might feel like you can’t deviate from the outline.
  • It can curb your creativity.

Pantsing.

Pantsing refers to writing the book ‘by the seat of your pants’. When someone goes into writing a novel without an outline to guide them, it is known as pantsing.

Strengths.

  • You won’t get bogged down by all the details and can get right on with the story.
  • You’re less likely to get bored.
  • You have the freedom to write whatever comes to mind.
  • You find out what’s happening at the same time as the characters do.

Weaknesses.

  • There may be more plot holes to fix after you’ve finished your first draft.
  • Characters might not end up as fleshed out as they need to be.
  • There’s more work when it comes to the second draft.
  • You may get hit with writers block.

 

I’m definitely in the planning group. I wish I could be a pantser but I need a plan to guide me when it comes to writing my first draft.

Saying this – always remember to do what works best for you. Every writer is different and what works for someone else might not work for you. I hope you enjoyed this post and found it helpful if you’re thinking about or are currently writing a novel.

Are you a planner or a pantser? Let me know in the comments, I’m interested to know 

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