Hustle has become the buzzword all over the place. It's become a badge of honor to say 'look how hard I'm working' and it's become hella dangerous to try to live up to. People wear sleeplessness like a Girl Scout patch and always strive to be the hardest working person in the room. 


Now don't get me wrong, hard work is awesome and necessary in a lot of ways. But the problem happens when you don't learn how to take breaks too. If you are constantly sleeping 2 hours a night, you're not doing yourself, your work or your life any favors. You're a candle burning at both ends and when they meet in the middle, there won't be anything of you left. 


Sacrificing yourself for your work isn't noble. It isn't you just grinding at the side job, it's you putting yourself last in a lot of ways. If you want to be doing your best work, take care f yourself, work hard and remember to relax. 
Part of a creative life is all about balance. Finding the balance between grinding it out and relaxing and no one's balance is exactly the same. Listen to yourself and know that it's okay to take a break now and then. 


Keeping your well of creative energy stocked matters and that well usually is refilling when we are resting or exploring or adventuring. We get our energy to create by taking a break from creating. Remember that. 


I want to be able to see your work for a long time to come and for you to be here for a long time to come so take care of yourself okay? 


Work hard and remember its okay to go to bed early. 
 

Sometimes in life, you hit a patch where the words just won't happen. I don't just mean a writer's block or the dreaded soggy middle. I mean the times when your whole mind turns into an arctic tundra where nothing thrives. You can't think of a new idea, you can't think of writing at all. The idea of writing fills you with sickly dread. It sucks. So what can you do? Well put on your snow boots and let's figure this out. 

 

1. Take a break.


Sometimes you just need a break from writing. Take a day or a week and just rest. Give yourself some slack and time to recharge. This is especially true if you have been really pushing yourself hard for a while. 

2. Read out of your usual genre. 


If you write romance, pick up a western. If you write horror, pick up a space opera. Read something totally different than your usual fare. Sample something different and give yourself some fresh ideas and new genres to look into. You never know when you might find your next beloved book. 

3. Enjoy a nap. 


Seriously, sleep is rad. Take a nap and see how you feel after some well deserved shut eye. 

4. Skip that scene you hate. 
 

If you're avoiding writing, unable to write or just hating everything about the certain scene or chapter you're working on... just skip it. Put in a placeholder in and move on. If you hate that scene than does it have to be like that? Figure out a way to make it fun for you and the reader.

5. Get help. 


Sometimes this kind of a block is a big red flag that something is wrong. I know for me, when I found myself unable to write for months I knew something was wrong and went to find help. For me, this tundra of no words is a big ol' sign post that I am entering the depression bad lands and it's a good time to talk to someone and get help. There's no shame in needing help. 

So that's what helps me when I enter the tundra of no words. Is a sucky place that I don't even like to visit but sometimes you just have to cross it and get to the other side. Writing is hard mental work and it can be taxing to do. So keep on plucking on and we'll get to the other side together. 

If 2016 was any guide, then 2017 has probably one helluva ride already. Hopefully it's gone better than the dumpster that was 2016 but... who knows, right? Maybe this year has been amazing and magical and all that good stuff. 

I hope you've finished Death is a School Girl and are actually querying it by now. If not, what's up with that? We've been working on it for like 2 years, it's time to send it out into the world and stop fiddling with it. Seriously. Stop it. 

Is Mass Effect Andromeda as neat as it looks? I hope you've gotten to play it and find a space husband and/or wife to romance. There are so many exciting movies and tv shows coming out that you better be getting on that future self! American Gods is going to be real and I can't wait to watch it! 

Anyways, enough about pop culture things. I hope that you are continuing to write, dream and adventure. Every inch out of your comfort zone teaches you so much so please keep being brave, keep writing things that scare you and going to places on your own. I know it's intimidating but you can have adventures on your own.

I hope 2017 is awesome and that you're wildly succusful beyond our wildest dreams, but more than anything I hope you're feeling happier and more like yourself. Depression is a sucky thing and I'm super proud of you for being strong even when things got dark. 

So, 2017 me, here's to a year of adventure, wonder and bubble tea.

I'll see you in a year.

<3

Me 

Posted
AuthorAndrea Judy
CategoriesPersonal

Willpower. It's one of the biggest things we rely on to make changes. Want to start a diet? It's going to take some willpower. Want to get up at 5am to write every day? Going to take willpower. And the struggle is that willpower is limited. We don't have an unlimited reserve and unlike mana in a fantasy roleplaying game, it can't be recovered by just drinking a potion. 
So what can you do to keep making these changes that take a lot of willpower to do. Well, first of all... don't rely on just willpower. 


Look, we usually take the path of least resistance when it comes to just about anything. We want to do what's easiest and that doesn't always mesh with what we say we want to do. It's the idea of saying 'I'm not going to drink sodas anymore' and when you get tired in the afternoon getting a coke 'just this once'. You're actively going against what you said you wanted, what's the deal with that brain? 


The way around that is to change your environment to change your habits. 


I've been working back towards getting up at 5am every morning to write and it sucks. I mean it just does. My bed is soft and cozy and my office isn't. So how can I make that easier for myself. Here's what I've done that helps.

1. Set everything up the night before. 

I get my word document open with my plot notes right there before I go to bed. That way when I get to my computer there's no distraction, just exactly what I need to work on waiting for me. 

2. Make my office more inviting. 

After a roof leak, I kind of hated my office... so... I finally bit the bullet and got all the water stains dealt with. I rearranged the furniture and put an oil diffuser in there and now it's nice and I enjoy being in there. I'm savig up to get a better desk and floor mat but for now, it's great. 

3. Alarm across the room. 

Having my room across the room helps wake me up. I also have found that standing in place and counting to 5 before allowing myself to get back into bed makes a world of difference. Also it helps to have cats demanding to be fed. They make it hard to go back to sleep. 

4. Know what I'm going to write. 

It helps immensely to know what I am planning to write and to be excited about. If it's a fight scene I've been itching to write that's a ton more fun than staring at a screen with no idea where to go with the story. 

5. Music. 

I love making playlists for my books. I have one for most of my works and some that are just general moods: western, fighting, sad, romantic, etc. Having those playlists ready to roll really helps get me ready to start writing as soon as I sit down. 

Those are things that have helped me get a little better at being part of the 5am writing club. It also has helped me pay attention to making all kinds of other things easier. I am better at working out because I've stopped hiding my workout clothes and instead keep them upfront and center in my office. 

So help yourself win by giving yourself a boost. Look at your environments and ask 'what would make it easier to do ______?' then do that! Give yourself a break and work on making things easy as you can. 

You're writing along, feeling fine, everything's great and then suddenly BAM. There it is. The wall of suck. 

For me, I tend to hit this wall at around the 2/3 mark when I'm still far enough away from the beginning and the ending that I feel lost and like I don't know what I'm doing. It feels like I've been wandering through a desert with no problems for weeks then suddenly, I remember: I AM IN A DESERT AND GONNA DIE. Everything runs into a panic and I sit in paralyzed anxiety, too afraid to move forward or backwards. 

I'm a linear writer so I tend to follow my story along from beginning to end and once I'm muddling through the middle, I start slowing down and then hit the wall. Sometimes it feels like it's three miles high and made of glass shards that cut if I get too close, but it's clear enough that I can see through. I know what's on the other side but I'm afraid of breaking through to get to it. That's the wall of suck. 

What do you do when you hit it? 

The answer's easy, you push through that sharp, nasty bastard and keep going. Army crawl under it, fling yourself into it, or climb over it, but you've got to keep moving. If you stare too long, the wall only gets worse because your mind makes it worse. That wall is your fear of sucking, and the truth of the matter is your first draft probably does suck. It probably sucks a lot. And that's okay, and normal. No one (okay so a few magical writers) writes a perfect first draft and it's okay to not be perfect. Remember, the goal is to finish, not to write the most beautiful and grammatically perfect sentence the world has ever seen. 

The goal is to drag your battered, bruised, and bloody self across the finish line and scream that you did it. So, put on your helmet, buckle down and show that wall that nothing is going to stop you. 

Posted
AuthorAndrea Judy
CategoriesWriting Life

A lot of times people ask the question ‘where do you get your ideas?’ as a big question of writing. For a lot of people the ability to generate ideas seems like the most important part of writing and creating. And at the beginning, maybe it is. Learning what makes a good idea can be tough at the start but with time the ideas keep coming and the ability to focus on them becomes the most important thing.

 

So what are the most important traits for someone who wants to create? Well, in my humble opinion, these are the 5 that I’ve found most important.

 

 

1. Focus.

 

The ability to sit down and focus on one idea and see it through to the end is one of the most important traits to develop. When I first started writing I would start one story, get a new idea and abandon the story and start a new one. I ended up with a whole lot of half-finished pieces and nothing completed. Focusing on one all the way through to the end has made all the difference.

 

2. Patience.

 

Publishing and writing are slow beasts. Nothing moves super fast, even when you are self-publishing, you still need to take the time to write the project, get it edited, laid out, etc. Nothing moves as fast as you’d like it to and learning to not get so frustrated with that is a vital skill.

 

3. Love of Story.

 

You’ve got to love the art of telling stories to really get a firm understanding of how to tell one. Reading, playing games, watching movies, learning from other storytellers is so important. If you love a story you can see its good and bad side and learn from that.

 

4. Curiosity.

 

Creatives are curious about the world, about how things, about ‘what if’ questions and all the uncertainty that comes with it. We like learning about new things, wonder about why things are this way and want to be constantly learning and growing about new things. Ask why and learn as much you can.

 

5. Persistence.

 

This is one of the important traits to build up. Writing can be a tough pursuit. There are plenty of rejections and challenges along the way. It can be lonely, disheartening and down right painful at times. To keep at it requires stubbornness and a push to not give up.

 

 

Those are the five traits that I’ve felt like ave helped me the most in my writing journey. What would you add? 

Posted
AuthorAndrea Judy
CategoriesWriting Life

Who in the world is scared of success, right? Everyone wants the gold medal, wants to finish first, cross that big, audacious goal off the list and bask in the feeling of being awesome. It’s the dream, right? That’s what I always thought for me anyways. I want to make my goals, reach the finish line, be a badass boss lady.

 

But recently at JordanCon, I got the chance to spend a lot of time chatting with some great people, including John Hartness, a writer I’ve always admired and looked up to. While we were talking about what projects I’ve been working on, he asked what I’d done with all the things I’d finished. My answer: “They’re hanging out on my hard drive.”

 

And saying that out loud made me wonder what in the world I was doing. If I wanted to be a writer, to be someone who one day made a living (or at least a side income) from my writing, someone who put out stories and books all the time… why were my finished projects hanging out on my hard drive and not out in the hands of readers?

 

I thought I knew about what I wanted but the things I was doing didn’t match what I said my goals were. What in the world self? If I could take myself out for a drink and ask what the hell, I’d have given myself a real talking to. Instead, I went home and looked through my hard drive to see what all was there.

 

One novel that I still believed in, three novels that were shelved for good reasons, and close to 10 short stories that I’d sent out to one place and then never touched again. Why? Why had I just put them away and never touch them again?

 

I couldn’t find the answer at first, but then it came to me slowly then all at once. I was afraid to take the step towards my goal. Afraid of my own goals…minds are really strange places.

 

So… why am I afraid of the things that I say that I want? Well, after a lot of thought, I’ve hit on it. I’m afraid to take that first step because what if I screw it all up? I can’t screw it up if I never take the leap. If I never make the attempt, I can keep dreaming about the goal and not about the scary path that leads to the goal.

 

Basically I view my goal as the top of the mountain. While I’m on the ground, I can see the top quite clearly and I can even see the path that leads though a forest and to the top. But the second that I take the first step onto the path, I enter the forest where it’s harder to see the magical top of the mountain. Instead, I can see all the tree branches, stones and rough patches of trail. The work, the reality becomes more pronounced and I start doubting I can even do it.

 

I retreat out of the forest and back to the clearing to look at that beautiful goal and decide ‘Hm… better wait to give that a go.’ and I never make the trip.

 

I totally psych myself out before I’ve even given it a proper go.

 

So yeah, I’m afraid of it. I’m afraid that I haven’t got what it takes, that somewhere in the forest is a glen of people who will hate everything I do, that there will be the pond of people I’ve disappointed, that I will never be good enough to climb up the path.

 

So to protect myself, I never walk into the forest. I avoid trying and instead talk about this goal, dream about it in the safety of the clearing where none of the pain from going after a goal can get me.

 

Even knowing that, I am hesitant to begin. I’m still afraid of trying and failing, but now that I’m aware of what’s going on, I feel like maybe I can take that first baby step onto the path.

 

I can start the climb to the peak and I’m sure I’ll screw it up, fall down, hit the pond of disappointment and the glen of disapproval but I’m tired of hanging out in the clearing. My neck hurts from constantly looking up but never ahead.

 

So, here we go. Let’s get to climbing and wear our scraped knees and dirty clothes as a badge of honor.

 

Let’s go kick some ass. 

Posted
AuthorAndrea Judy
CategoriesPersonal

At almost every event I’ve spoken at or every time I’ve mentioned I’m a writer, someone comes up to me and says, ‘I’ve got a great idea for a book but I just don’t have the time to write.’ Well, you do have the time, you just have to make it.

 

I’ve written before about how books are written with time stolen from other people and it’s true. The truth is that you have to fight for your words. You have to fight for the time to write, it’s never just going to show up in a nice basket with a ‘free to a good home’ ribbon attached.

 

If you want to write that book that’s been floating around in your head then you need to pick up that (metaphorical please) sword and start cleaving away time for it. That might mean getting up earlier, going to bed later or maybe only going to the gym 5 days a week instead of 6. It might mean you don’t watch your usual TV/Netflix/Hulu before bed and instead you get your words down on page.

 

It might mean that you write during your lunch break at your day job or that you start taking the bus to work and write on your commute.

 

It means stepping back and taking a strategic look at your day and clearing time to write. The words won’t happen unless you make time for them to so don’t be afraid to fight for your right to write.

 

If it matters to you, find a way.