Renee Writes

Posts tagged Writer’s Life

#ISWG – Happy New Year!

For those who don’t know, the Insecure Writers Support Group is open to all writers to share their fears, doubts, and concerns, as well as your triumphs. So if you have something to share, visit the link at the end of this post!

Happy New Year!

I love starting a new year. It’s a chance to plan and start new things. It’s also a chance to look at everything you’ve accomplished in the last year and figure out what you can do to make the new year even better. My biggest accomplishment in the last year has to be learning to accept my limitations (as weird as that may sound).

I have Hashimoto’s Disease (an autoimmune disease that affects the thyroid) and a daughter with ASD and ADHD. My daughter, even though she is twelve now, needs a lot more attention than other kids her age. There are some things she’s not able to do for herself and she needs help coping with her erratic emotions (especially now that she’s hit puberty). On top of that, I have to deal with being in constant pain and feeling like I haven’t slept in weeks, even after a full night sleep.

At the start of 2017, I set some lofty goals for myself as far as writing is concerned. Other indie authors are out there finishing a new book or story every couple of months, and I thought I should be able to do the same. When I couldn’t keep up, I became depressed and beat myself up over it, until I realized those people are healthy and likely have no other responsibility other than their writing. Even those who have kids don’t have kids with special needs. I can’t expect myself to keep up with people like that.

So as the year wore on, I paid more attention to my limits and reorganized my goals to fit me. Surprisingly, it’s helped me to accomplish more than I expected I could do since I wasn’t stressing myself out and making my health go downhill anymore.

This year, I plan to focus on my strengths and learn how I can use them to overcome my limitations. I also plan to set more reasonable goals for myself as far as writing is concerned. This year I plan to:

  • Finish my Shadow Stalker serial
  • Write and edit my A God’s Deception series (and hopefully publish the first book before the end of the year)
  • And write and publish about 3 to 5 short stories or novellas.

I also want to start writing more flash fiction that I’ll post here on my blog and in my newsletter.

So what are your new year goals and/or resolutions? Let me know in the comments below!

This month’s ISWG question is:

What steps have you taken to put a schedule in place for your writing and publishing?

I don’t like using schedules, at least to the extent of setting specific times to accomplish things during the day. It’s never worked for me because I can never tell what my health will be each day or when my daughter will have a bad day and I’ll be dealing with meltdowns all day. I have to play things by ear, but at the same time, I need to have some kind of schedule set or I won’t accomplish anything at all.

So, what I do is I use Evernote to keep track of everything I need to do, and everything I’ve already accomplished. I created a few calendars on Evernote. One has all of my weekly objectives on it. While I do set daily objectives, I generally will just do what I can during the week, following the schedule. Priority jobs are at the top, so if I don’t have time to finish something that isn’t a priority, it can be moved to the following week. So far, this has been working well for me. I can work when I’m feeling up to it, and I still accomplish everything I need to. I can even keep up with some things when I’m sick by working on my phone or tablet.

My other calendars are to help me with organizing releases, blog posts (like this one and my spotlights), and I even have one for sharing posts.

I don’t actually have a schedule for writing anymore. Each time I sit down to write, I have a goal of writing 2k to 2.5k words each sitting. I try to write Monday through Friday, but sometimes it doesn’t work out that way, especially when my daughter is out of school. When I’m editing, I spend about 3 hours a day doing that. Then the rest of the day is spent on doing promotional stuff and social media work (answering emails… and all that fun stuff). I try to spend about 6 hours a day working (Monday through Friday). If I work on the weekend, it’s to catch up on what I couldn’t accomplish during the week or writing if I’m in a really creative mood.

So my schedule is loose, but it’s effective for me. Unless I get really sick, I have no trouble keeping up with it.

Insecure Writer’s Support Group

A database resource site and support group for writers and authors. Featuring weekly guests and tips, a monthly blogfest gathering, a Facebook group, a book club, and thousands of links – all to benefit writers! #IWSG

Website / Facebook Group / Twitter / Book Club
Reedsy Discount / Past Issues

Co-hosts this month are Tyrean MartinsonThe Cynical SailorMegan MorganRachna Chhabria, and Jennifer Lane. Please visit their blogs and show your support!

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#ISWG: New Motivation

For those who don’t know, the Insecure Writers Support Group is open to all writers to share their fears, doubts, and concerns, as well as your triumphs. So if you have something to share, visit the link at the end of this post!


I’ve been really struggling with my writing recently. As per normal, it’s because of brain fog issues related to Hashimoto’s Disease. It can be extremely frustrating, especially when I’m aching to write, but my brain is so muddled I cant focus.

But I’m always looking for ways around it, and every once in a while the universe comes through for me.

The other day, I got an email from the ProWritingAid crew. For those who don’t know, ProWritingAid is a really good editing tool. I use it regularly (along with a few others). They’re definitely worth checking out if you need help with checking grammar and other issues in your stories.

Anyway, one of the things they had in the email was a competition. They teamed up with BeemGee for the Plot of Gold competition. For 30 days you get a free premium BeemGee membership, and you have those 30 days to create an outline for a new novel. They send 10 emails over the 30 days with tasks you have to complete. The top winner gets a lifetime premium membership to both BeemGee and ProWritingAid, which would be absolutely perfect for me.

But here’s how it’s motivated me to get out of this slump I’ve been in! 

I’ve been working on trying to plan out my new novel series as well as the new serial, and well, when your brain doesn’t want to work, it’s really difficult to focus. The creativity side of things is still there, but I just can’t stay focused long enough to get what’s in my head onto the screen.  It’s also hard to stay focused on any one thing when you’ve got tons of things going on in there.

BeemGee is a browser-based story development tool. The thing that works great for me is it starts with the characters, and all of my stories are built from the characters up. So far I’m still on the first task, which is getting all your characters in there, but they make it so easy. I just have to answer each question… and there are dozens, as well as tutorials for each question to help you answer it. It goes deeper than the general questions you see on character sheets too.

But it also helps you build the plot and everything else involved in planning the story up to and including the outline. Each task in the competition is set to help you work through using their tool so that you get a finished outline in about 30 days. I’m actually going to plan out both stories I’m working on this way, so for the following few months, I only have to focus on writing.

Now that I have something that helps me to stay focused on the little tasks, I can finally get some headway on the big task. Maybe I’ll even be able to take part in NaNoWriMo this year. That’s always the hardest part of planning a story for me is staying focused. If you’re a story plotter, what is your biggest obstacle to getting your stories planned out? CC

Co-hosts for the October 4 posting of the IWSG are Olga Godim, Chemist Ken, Jennifer Hawes, and Tamara Narayan!

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Grow a Thick Skin


As authors, this is something we hear often, but I sometimes wonder if this is something that should always be necessary. When I hear it, there are times I feel those who say it are trying to give themselves permission to be rude and well… a jerk.

It is necessary when it comes to professional reviews and feedback. You will probably hear things you don’t like, but most of it will be constructive. These are the things we need to take to heart because it can help us greatly improve our writing. So if someone is giving you constructive criticism, even if you feel like telling them where to go at that moment, stop and consider what you can learn from them and thank them for the feedback.

You will also often get not so nice comments about your work, and it may not be constructive, but we have to remember that not everyone is going to like our work. Do you like every book you read? I know I don’t. And I’ve read things (like Twilight) that I loved, and a lot of other people hated. It happens and you can’t get around it. If people make negative comments about your work just because it’s not their thing, well… in truth, that’s their problem and not something you should concern yourself with. They don’t have to like it or read it.

There are others, however, who just say negative things about authors for the sole purpose of causing harm. Sometimes they even work in groups. These people are cyber-bullies. While you should just ignore what they say (at least online… as in don’t engage them publicly), it can be hurtful. If you’re affected, I don’t believe this is the time to “grow a thick skin.” Talk to friends and other authors (that you know and trust) about how you’re feeling, but do it privately. They can help you cope.

Growing a thick skin doesn’t mean you should ignore how you’re feeling when you’re being bullied or attacked on a public forum. What it does mean is that you shouldn’t let constructive criticism bring you down. Learn from it and allow it to make you a better writer.

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