5 Tips for Starting a Journal!

Journaling for Beginners! | Attempting Authenticity

I made a post last week about cultivating inspiration so that you can decrease the number of times when you’re feeling burn out and hopefully boost your creativity! In that post I briefly mentioned journaling and why it’s a really awesome thing to incorporate into your daily life as a writer/artist/business person/student/whatever else you do.

But I know that if you don’t journal a lot (or if, like me, you’re a little inconsistent with it) you might feel like you don’t know where to start and might need some inspiration. So here are 5 tips for getting started!

Writing Tips and Book reviews! | Attempting Authenticity

  1. Find a journal you really like. Personally I gravitate towards Moleskines, leatherbound journals (like this one), and Paperblanks journals. The paper quality is really lovely and it makes writing in them an actual treat. If you don’t love the journal you’re writing in, you probably won’t use it very often.
  2. Find a pen you love! I like Pentel’s black liquid gel ink pens, or their ballpoint pens, but that’s just me. They glide like heaven across the creamy pages of a good journal ❤ Stabilo and Staedtler also make lovely pens that are super affordable.
  3. Let go of the pressure. Writing in your journal is for you. It doesn’t matter how neat or messy your handwriting is, what you write about, or how eloquent you are. It’s just your journal. Write what you want, how you want, and don’t evaluate yourself as you’re doing it.
  4. Set the stage. Make journaling a nice experience. I light a candle and have tea or hot water with lemon while I do it, and I sit in bed because it’s comfortable. Sometimes I listen to music. I don’t set a timer or anything—I just enjoy the moment and let myself totally relax into the words and into the motion of the pen sliding across the paper.
  5. If you can, do it first thing in the morning or before bed in the evening. The middle of the day is often too hectic and busy, and you might find yourself pushing it aside in lieu of “more important” things. But early in the morning or late at night you can sit, relax, and get lost in the wordage.

I’ll post some great journal prompts for you next week!

Writing Tips and Book reviews! | Attempting Authenticity

Refugees

An excerpt from Pirates, available on Kindle Unlimited and Amazon Kindle! Thank you all for your support, you have been absolutely incredible.
xxx
-Veronique

At the very top of the tallest guard tower in the Crystal City, surveying the vast lands that lay about the protected realm, stood a woman with raven black hair and skin as smooth and white as ivory. Small black jewels tipped two little fangs that reached slightly over her bottom lip, and a smooth black staff crowned with a mist-enveloped copper orb was in her right hand. Her dark robes, deep turquoise and amber, were in sharp contrast to the brightness of the city and its people.

In ages past, fear had surrounded her and her people, the Darkdwellers—or, as they had once been known, the Dragons, now ill and forced to dwell in human form. Since recent events, however, everyone knew Chiasa for who she really was: the immortal Dragon Queen, the leader of the purest race ever to have lived in Kirael.

And not only that, but she had proved over and over again her strength in battle, her bravery, and above all, her loyalty. The people of the Crystal City and of all the free kingdoms loved their own kings, but they loved and trusted her, too.

Now she stood and watched the main gate far down below, open wide and letting in a nearly constant trickle of all manner of people. Refugees. Most had come from far and wide, and some—more disturbingly—had come from not so very far at all.

Her eyes, deep aqua with flecks of gold and emerald, the only part of her once fair appearance that still remained, looked on with foreboding and sadness as more and more people entered the city. They carried small bundles, hurriedly packed, telling of what sort of attack had driven them from their homes.

Then a fragile, delicate looking figure sitting tall and straight on a great black steed caught her eye, riding at the head of some two hundred people, all on horseback, and a great many unsaddled horses who followed without leads or bridles.

At the sight of Adyah and her people, a stab of pain went through Chiasa’s heart. She had felt the battle in her spirit and had known that many of them had died, but to see them riding to the Crystal City under such a clear banner of defeat, when they had for thousands of years been nearly impossible to reach in their home in the mountains, brought it home to her that the evil they all faced was far greater than anything they had faced before.

“My lady,” said the Tower Captain behind her.

She turned to face him. “What is it?”

“Where will we tell the people to go? So many have come over the last few days that we have little room left to spare. Captain Eldaroth has not returned yet and we are not sure what to do.”

She looked back down at the river of refugees. “Have whoever is able take them into their homes. And open the palace to them as well—the King would gladly have done so, were he at home, and there are hundreds of empty chambers.”

“And what of the horses?”

Despite the gravity of the situation, Chiasa smiled a little. “Leave the horses and their people to Lady Adyah. They will not abide staying within the city walls, I am sure. They are far too wild for that.”

“Yes, my lady,” he said, bowing.

Not long after, Chiasa walked into the great throne room in the palace. It had been missing its King for a long time now, but the great crystal throne had not been empty. She, Adyah, and Adyah’s sister, Cahmeelle, had been taking turns ruling in his stead while he was off on his important mission. It was a bright room at the top of the shining spire that was the palace.

The walls were great glass windows, clear but strong as steel, reinforced with ancient spells, and from here Chiasa could see the whole city and the Barrier Plains all around it.
She found Adyah sitting on the edge of the long glass table which was used for councils and diplomatic meetings. There was a heavy air about her and she stared out at nothing in particular, watching the clouds go by, her face set in a hard, anguished expression.

Chiasa said nothing but simply went to sit beside her, waiting.

“It’s all gone,” Adyah said finally, in a broken voice which Chiasa had never heard from her before. “Everything is gone. My mountains—“ she broke off and swallowed her tears.
There was nothing else to say, or else too much, and so they sat in silence staring at the blue sky outside, as yet untouched by the shadow that threatened everything they held dear.

A Day in the Life

Right, so the last few posts I’ve written have been slightly morose and a bit of a downer, so I thought we’d spice it up a little bit. To be fair, it’s been quite an adjustment to this new lifestyle, and I’ve always lived up to my “I’ll be real on this blog” promise, so that’s what’s been happening. But there are less…uh…”will I have food this month” realities to write about, so here we go! A day in the life of an indie author. Or, at least, a day in the life of me. An indie author.

3 am: Wake up in a bit of a stressed sweat, pull the laptop out from under the bed. Check book sales, cry over the three or so fickle Instagram followers that I lost. Other social media. Post, post, post. Have a presence and all that.
3:30 am: Pick up my phone. Bite lower lip. What’s an interesting way of taking a picture of my laptop (open to Scrivener, of course) that I can take? What haven’t I done before? Squint at laptop screen. I mean, there are only so many ways to photograph a laptop. Settle for the usual and hope the People of Instagram find it charming and quirky.
4:00 am: After posting an Instagram photo, write or edit. Like the wind. If the inspiration and productivity dries up, keep going anyway because food is a thing that we need. Stopping is not an option.
6:00 am: Cuddle with husband and cats.
6:30 am: Write some more even if Captain Creativity doesn’t show up. Again, food. I need it.
8:00 am: Take a short nap. Yay sleep.
10:00 am: Breakfast with the Husband. Or, rather, lunch, because I have around 4 hours of work under my belt already.
11:00 am: Get back to work, but not before posting another Instagram photo because social media is basically the Mob in ancient Rome and I have to court it. Look at the photo I took and laugh inwardly at the fact that people think I am actually this put together. No, friends. I am not. And neither is my laptop (though it is a Macbook Pro, and we Instagram peeps all know that counts for a lot, know what I’m sayin’).
Late afternoon: Reading. Yes, because a) I like books, okay? and b) the best writers are good readers. I’m on Goodreads, by the way, if you’d like to connect with me. I’m all for that. Seriously, come find me so we can nerd out about books together. (This also constitutes another Instagram photo).
After late afternoon: More writing and editing. Another photo.
Early evening: Take a break. Cook and eat dinner with my husband, and chill with him. Money or not, we prioritize spending time with each other, because otherwise what is life, even?
After dinner: A lot of social media. An insane amount. Find more people to follow, comment on their posts, and invest in relationships with people I already follow who are cool and deserve support. The world of the Indies is one where you had better freaking have each other’s backs.
Before bed: Maybe write and edit some more, but honestly…mostly feel happy about the five or six Instagram followers I gained, about the cool people I met that day, about the progress I made, about the books I sold, and about the fact that I get to do what I love every day. And most of all, feel happy that I’m trapped by Husband and Cats. Yeah. Mostly that.

The Beginning, and Some Honest Thoughts

NaNoWriMo begins tonight at midnight! As usual, I will be taking a nap this afternoon so that I’m fresh and ready for 50k Day One. I have managed to convince a few others from my region to join me, so we’ll see how we fare. If you want to follow my progress, you can do so here, as I am planning to update the sheet every hour. Here is last year’s, for comparison 🙂 We will also be tweeting and instagramming under the hashtags #50kKillMeNow and #50kDayOne, so feel free to follow there as well (my handle on both is africanstardust, big shocker). As always, encouraging messages throughout the day are so appreciated and I love you all for sending them! I may not reply right away (because the typing) but believe me, I read every one.

I’ve realized over the past few days how much NaNoWriMo has gotten me through. I do it because I love it, yes, but it means so much more to me than that. The first year I did it I was so isolated and alone because of extenuating circumstances, and it gave me a beautiful community of random strangers who made the effort of checking my blog to encourage me and urge me on. Two years ago, I was dealing with emotional trauma and feeling like my whole world had fallen apart, and NaNoWriMo was literally the bridge that helped me get to the other side. And this year, I’ve had so many ups and downs, the accident, feeling utterly overwhelmed with academics, and dealing with depression and hopelessness.

NaNo is the time of the year when we give ourselves a gift: the gift of permission to lose ourselves in writing. It’s when we set other things aside and look after our creative souls and make time for this precious, beautiful thing, no matter how busy we are. It has played a huge part in restoring me to myself in the past, and I hope that, wherever you are and whatever you’re going through, it does the same for you. Let yourself sink into the beauty of what writing is and what it means for your soul. Allow yourself to grow and push and go to new places you haven’t been before. Set yourself free. So, from me to you: happy writing.

Veronique / africanstardust

Why I Write

typewriter

Is it ridiculous, do you think, that I dream of finishing and publishing my novels? Is it ridiculous that I hope to be at least a little successful? That I think people might want to read my books?

Maybe it is. There are hundreds of thousands of people who want to be authors. Who write. Who actually write and are good at it. Not all of them will be published. Not all of them will even stick with it. And very few will ever become famous. That isn’t the point.

I write because I love writing. I write because I love my characters and I love the story and I am passionate about the journey they take. About how they change and develop and grow into themselves. I write because I love words. And whether or not anyone believes me, the main reason why I want to publish my books is not to get money. Yeah, it would be great to be able to pay the rent with book sales. Highly unlikely. No, the main reason why I want to publish my books is because I love my characters and my stories so much that I want to share them with people. I want other people to know them and grow to love them. I want other people to be inspired. I want to be a little part of what makes people happy and encourages them.

And I write because, from a very young age, that’s how I deal with things. I don’t know, call it a coping mechanism if you want, but some of my greatest breakthroughs in life have come by writing. Because writing forces you to stop running away from the issues. In your head, you can block out your thoughts. But when you’re writing, you realize that there is nothing more authentic than the starkness of ink on paper, and you can’t hide from yourself any longer.

Why do you write?

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