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Danielle Donaldson blogs here. What I'm reading now. What I'm writing now. My various thoughts about romance novels, publishing and writing at large and the sexy stuff that comes to mind! 

Filtering by Category: For Writers

iOS Screen Time and Productivity

Danielle Donaldson

Recently, there was an iOS update for my iPhone and iPad that included a new feature of managing and tracking screen time. At first, I was completely annoyed. I already know how much time I waste on my phone every day. I already feel a lot of guilt about it, I didn’t need the very thing that I was addicted to constantly reminding me to stop being addicted to it. 

Yet, this is also NaNoWriMo month and distractions from writing my novel are abound. I need to reign in my phone use and had to do it quickly.  

From the Screen Time feature, I could tell that I wasting hours and I mean hours scrolling through social media needlessly. But, I could also set myself limits on that usage. So, I buckled down and set week day limits of 2 hours on all social media apps including Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, etc. All of the apps where I could lose myself in doing nothing productive.  

And since then, I have written every single day and met my word count goals. *insert self high five here*  

If you are like me and lack most self-control around device usage. It might be helpful for you take a look at this feature on your device. Even if it makes you feel like you’re grounding yourself from fun, you might surprise yourself and not even miss it. 

 Image from my iPad which I don’t actually use that often. Trust me. You don’t want to see how often I use my phone ;)  

Image from my iPad which I don’t actually use that often. Trust me. You don’t want to see how often I use my phone ;)  

The Beginner's Guide to Self-Care

Danielle Donaldson

The Importance of Self-Care  

Self-care is the act of taking care of one's self. It's refilling the creative well. It's recharging your spiritual, emotional, creative, physical batteries. For some, it means staying home and not talking to people. For others, they need social interaction with others to feel recharged. It's about the balance in life from taking care of other people, fulfilling our responsibilities as constructive members of society and doing the day-to-day activities that keep our lives going smoothly. 

As a writer, I find incredibly important to take care of myself or I have nothing to put onto the page. As a mother and a wife, I find that if I get burnt out, I'm less patient, less compassionate, less able to give myself to another human being.  

Part of the safety briefing on an airplane says that if you are traveling with a child, that you must put on your air-mask first, because if you don't, you will pass out from oxygen deprivation and not be able to help anyone. Self-care is exactly that. It is making sure that you don't pass out from oxygen deprivation or emotional exhaustion or spiritual burnout.  

For the month of September, I will be exploring the importance of self-care and giving some examples of it.  

Examples of Self-Care

If you are an introvert, you might enjoy activities that are quiet and done on your own. 

  • Sipping some tea on the front porch  
  • Listening to a podcast in the bathtub
  • An afternoon run with your favorite playlist
  • Putting together a puzzle 

If you are an extrovert, you may enjoy activities out with other people.  

  • Spending time with family
  • Happy Hour with co-workers
  • Camping with friends
  • Trivia Night at the pub

Goals of Self-Care

    The main goal of self-care is to make you feel better. It's basically the human version of unplugging a router and plugging it back in.  

What are you favorite forms of self-care? What refills your creative well?

Reading List: Did Not Finish (Why I Would Mark a Book DNF)

Danielle Donaldson

Recently, I was reading a hot erotica paperback that I picked up at The Ripped Bodice, a bookstore dedicated to romance and erotica titles. The writing was great. The sex scenes were hot. I was invested in the characters, but as the timeline flashed forward and readers were filled in with what had happened to the characters in the years since we last saw them.  

Like a great writer, the author didn't give the readers an info dump on what had happened in those 10 years. Instead, she was feeding us cookie crumbs of information. From the first little bit, I had an uneasy feeling. She mentioned that the character had nursed a baby, but there was no baby in the story yet. That was around page 20. Around page 35, we learn that she has bullet wound scars. Oh, no. That doesn't bode well. Around page 45, we found out that the female main character had panic attacks and four locks on her door. Okay.... Around page 50, I had to put the book down. I realized that the heroine had lost a very young child or baby in some sort of gun fight/crossfire situation. 

I couldn't do it. No fault to the author. It was all on my emotional mentality. I'm not in a good headspace to handle reading something like that at the moment. My anxiety is too great.   

It's Me, Not You

It's okay to break up with books that you aren't feeling. Maybe you don't connect with the characters, maybe the word choice is driving you bonkers, maybe the subject hits too close to home. It's okay to stop watching tv shows that are boring to you. (I'm look at you Fear the Walking Dead.) It's fine to donate clothes that no longer suit your style. Stop eating food that makes you feel crappy or tastes bad. Stop listening to music that you don't actually like just because an old boyfriend tried to convince you that the Violent Femmes were, like, the best band ever. You don't owe anything to anyone. 

Maybe I'll pick this book up again. Maybe I won't. It won't stop me from reading. It might not even stop me from reading something by this author again. But, I am not obligated to finish something that doesn't serve me.  

Know Your Why

If you stop doing something, it's always healthy to know why. As a writer, it is important to me to know why I stopped reading a book or why it feels like such a burden to bear when I should be excited and entertained by a book. It informs my own work. If I am bored as a reader, chances are that if I do something similar to my readers, they will also be bored. 

Know why you're doing something. If you are finding yourself grinding your jaw and powering through something (ahem. Season 7 of Gilmore Girls), you should also know why you can't give it up. I find that I keep hoping that something will turn a corner. That it will finally get better. But, most of the time, ain't nobody got time for that.  

 

We Can Do Better

I find myself coming back to this thought since I put down that book. As writer, as story creators, we can do better than to give our heroines an overused, lame storyline. We can do better than to rest on the violence against women trope to give our characters conflict (I'm calling you out: Outlander the TV series). As women, we have more internal conflicts than child loss/miscarriage, sexual assault, abuse in relationships, or infertility. Black Widow is rich and dynamic character. We don't really care about the active state of her uterus and she didn't seem to either until that disaster of a movie. 

Yes, those issues are intense and demand a lot out of a person. But, we lean on them too hard. Women have other issues. People have other issues and conflict and desires. Let's look at those. Let's tell those stories. The story of the accidental mother who regrets having children would be a harder story to tell. The story of abusive (but not abused) female is harder to tell. The story of the sociopathic female is harder to tell. The story of the career driven, child free by choice, female is harder to tell. The asexual or transgender or pan sexual or gender fluid or.... Those stories are harder to tell and can be rich and dynamic in their own right. 

I know that I'm going to challenge myself to write better stories, to read better stories. We should expect more.  

 

What is something that you have started but never finished? Why? Let me know in the comments.  

Camp NaNoWriMo July 2016 Day 1

Danielle Donaldson

Day 1 in the bag.  

 

Word count: 1741

 

I'm working on finishing a rough draft of my next novel. In short, it's a love story between an overworked career woman who is afraid of commitment and the male sex worker she hires to fulfill her baser desires.  

 

So far, so good. I'm also working off of the beats I wrote a year ago so I wonder how much that is attributing to my ability to write quickly. In the upcoming days, I'll post little snippets of what I've written. 

Freedom in Fiction

Danielle Donaldson

Now some of us love to read about a good Damsel in Distress, a helpless (or close-to-helpless) woman that needs the strong arms of a beefy hero to sweep him away from the imminent danger in her life. Personally, I can’t stand that because I can’t relate. I struggle and stumble through my life at times but I’m nowhere near a DiD. I can run my life, even with its occasional hiccups, pretty well on my own. I don’t need a man or love interest, instead I prefer one. I’m a big believer that no single lover or partner can “complete” your life. They can only enhance the experience along the way.

I like my female characters to be free. Free to feel the way that they feel. Free to be authentically themselves whether they are vampire hunters, bakers with a failing bakery business or frazzled single mothers looking for something to spice up their lives. Freedom is important to me in the characters I read because I want them to choose the hero in the end. I certainly don’t want them to have no say in the matter, no consent. I like my female characters to be like birds, free to roam at anytime but choosing to stay because they want to.

These characters don’t necessarily have to be BAFC (Badass Female Characters) that wield weapons or take down dictatorships or Skynet. They don’t have to save the world. They could just as easily be businesswomen, witches, teachers, stay-at-home mothers or bank tellers. Autonomy comes in many shapes and sizes. It’s like the leggings of character attributes.

As a writer, I try my best to write characters that feel real. I write people that I could see myself running into on the street or I see certain qualities in them that I also possess. I write characters that I wish I could be just like I read characters I wish I could be.

What is a quality that you look for in your favorite characters? Freedom or autonomy? Authenticity? Physical or emotional fortitude? Sassy mouth and a penchant for french fries? Tell us in the comments!

 

 

Originally posted at WritingWenches.com/blog