Category Archives: Writer’s Life

How to Get Writing Done When You Can’t Shut the Door

In an ideal world we would all have spaces dedicated to writing. We’d have rooms or closets or storage spaces where would could close the door. We could physically separate ourselves from the world. Nothing would distract us from doing the work.

I’m writing this from the living room of my grandma’s house. It’s impossible to close myself off while I’m here. If I go into another room, someone follows and strikes up a conversation. Every single time. Without fail.

Sometimes it’s not possible to go somewhere and write, with a physical door between you and your surroundings. Like right now, for instance. I’m stuck in the living room. Luckily, I have a few tips to help you focus even when you can’t shut the door for some reason.

Use music as a form of “shutting the door.” If you can’t get somewhere private, turn on Pandora and plug in some headphones. Even if you’re not playing anything, most people will leave you alone if you’re wearing headphones. Turn the music up and you won’t hear anyone. It’ll be easier to get lost in your own little world.

Write when people are sleeping. I stayed up late last night to get some writing done. If you’re a morning person, try to rise before the sun. When the house is quiet, it’s easier to concentrate. The best part? No one else will be awake enough to bother you.

Communicate. Tell your friends and loved ones how much writing means to you. If they love you, they’ll understand when you tell them you need to set aside time for your work. You can even schedule time to hang out with them later so they know they’ll get to see you. Honesty and openness can get you a long way.

While all of these methods have worked for me before, I’ve found that nothing beats getting behind a closed door. Feel free to try some of these. If you don’t like them, move on. Find what works for you. What matters is that you write, not how you get the writing done.

What do you think?


Liebster Award Nomination

liebster-award I hadn’t heard of the Liebster Award before the lovely Jess at Like Star Filled Skies nominated me. Here’s the lowdown:

1) Post the Liebster Award graphic on your site.
2) Thank the blogger who nominated your blog.
3) Answer the 10 questions from the post of the person who nominated them.
4) The nominee will nominate 10 other blogs who have less than 200 followers.
5) The nominee will then create 10 questions of their own for their nominated bloggers to answer in their Liebster post.

Here are the questions from Jess:

1) What is your favorite fruit?

Strawberries, without a doubt.

2) If you could be any superhero you wanted, who would it be?

Black Widow because she’s a baller.

3) What one book could you read over and over again?

The Great Gatsby. And trust me, I have.

4) If you could own any exotic animal you wanted, what would it be?

A tiger!

5) Favorite sport to watch on television?

I can only tolerate sports when the Olympics are on. With that being said, I don’t mind watching soccer.

6) How would you describe your style?

Bohemian with edgy touches.

7) What 3 things would you like to do before you die?

Publish a novel, travel all throughout Europe, have children.

8) If you could move anywhere other than where you live now, where would that place be?


9) Favorite book? Why?

Ohhh this is going to be a tough one. I’m caught between Gatsby and Nineteen Eighty-Four because both are timeless and I also find something new no matter how many times I read them.

10) As a kid, what did you always want to be when you grew up?

A dolphin trainer or an artist. SURPRISE, PAST ME.

Now, part of the challenge involves me tagging other people. but I’m not sure who to tag. If you want to participate, you can answer these questions and link back to my post:

1) What’s your favorite season? Why?

2) How many languages do you know?

3) What’s your earliest memory?

4) Who are your favorite authors?

5) What’s your favorite quote and where does it come from?

6) What’s your most irrational fear?

7) How do you feel about rain?

8) Tell me one short-term goal and one long-term goal.

9) If you could invite any three people to dinner, living or dead, who would they be?

10) Favorite time of day?

Feel free to answer these!

Tweet tweet:

Writer @thecollegenov answers questions for the Liebster Award. Want to join in? Click the link for your chance! (Click to tweet)

Taking Stock 02

Peter Capaldi as the new Doctor in Doctor Who

City of Atlanta skyline

parakeets kissing

galaxy print leggings

So much for making this a weekly feature. Maybe I’ll aim for biweekly instead. We’ll see what happens. Is anybody reading these posts, anyway?

Here’s what’s going on in my life these days.

Writing : MUD EYES (revision – neverending revision)
Listening : To coffitivity
Drinking : Iced coffee with nondairy caramel macchiato creamer (mmmmm)
Reading: On Writing by Stephen King
Wanting: A plan for the future
Looking: For a place to throw this gum away
Playing: The Sims (I wish)
Deciding: Whether I should take a shower yet or not
Wishing: I could play The Sims
Enjoying: The revision process, although it’s difficult
Waiting: For my novel to turn out perfect (WHEN DOES THAT HAPPEN)
Liking: The fact that my cat likes to hang out in my bedroom while I draft blog posts
Wondering: Why Starbucks released its Pumpkin Spice Latte so early
Loving: The fact that Starbucks released its Pumpkin Spice Latte so early
Pondering: the future
Considering: Peter Capaldi
Watching: DOCTOR WHO
Hoping: To one day master a Scottish accent
Marvelling: At the richness of dark chocolate
Needing: Another homemade cookie
Smelling: Clean clothes
Wearing: A dress from Forever 21
Following: My own path
Noticing: The way my eyes crinkle at the corners when I smile
Knowing: I can do anything
Thinking: About Halloween
Feeling: Limitless
Admiring: Myself, inside and out
Sorting: Through my many options
Buying: Lots of books lately
Getting: Anxious and excited
Bookmarking: All the dairy-free recipes I can find
Disliking: The radio station that plays in Office Max (still)
Opening: My mind to unfamiliar ideas
Giggling: Do I need a reason?
Feeling: Hopeful

What do you think of this feature? Do you want to take stock, too?

Shelby Bouck: Not Perfect, But Okay

Shelby Bouck is sincere. That’s what I like about her. We’ve been Twitter friends for a while now so I took the plunge and asked to interview her. The sweet and beautiful blogger had a lot to say. Check out how cool she is below.

If you love husky puppies, sweetness, and sincerity, read this interview with blogger Shelby Bouck.

 Tell me about your blog. What inspired you to start it?

Honestly? I was in my public speaking class and we had a little downtime, and I said, “Hey, would you guys read a blog called How Not to Suck?” And all of them said yes. That was the moment I decided to write the blog, but the philosophy behind it came from a long time before that.

Philosophy? Please explain.

Well, it’s all in the title of the blog: How Not to Suck. In high school (and really a long time before that) my friends and I got caught up in this idea that nothing less than perfect performance was acceptable–at school, in extracurricular activities, at home. We never said it out loud, but it was understood, and it didn’t really work out in the long run, at least for me. The stress from feeling like I needed to be perfect all the time affected my relationships and my health. I got mono, I had back issues (not like Vogue in a doctor’s office, like a curved spine), I was constantly freaking out. Then, after going to college, I realized “perfect in every way” was a terrible goal, and that if I wanted to do really well at a few things, I’d have to let a few other things go. I wanted to let other people know it was okay to just be okay at stuff–and I’m still learning that myself.

What do you wish you’d known before you started blogging?

Twitter. Literally everything about Twitter. I actually didn’t think it was possible to say anything of value in 140 characters or fewer, at the time. I didn’t realize it wasn’t about making grand statements–it was about making friends and contacts. Becky Blades taught me a lot about that.


Becky Blades. She’s one of my mentors.. she wrote and published a book and directs the social media marketing for it. She taught me basically everything I know about Twitter, which is all about making sure strangers care about what you have to say.

Do you have any tips for succeeding and having a good time on Twitter?

As far as Twitter goes, MAKE FRIENDS. Follow people who follow people you follow. They’ll be interested in the same stuff as you. Be witty and observant, not mean.

"Come up with solutions, don't just point out problems." - Shelby Bouck

Your blog covers a wide range of topics. How do you decide what to write about when?

Most of that happens because of what’s going on in my life at the time. All the cooking posts are in real time as I slowly stop being scared of my oven. This last post was looking back on another summer of employment at a big-box bookstore. Some topics I sit on for a while before I write them, because I think they’re extra important. I’ve been trying to write “How Not to Suck at Feminism” for six months and I still don’t think it’s ready.

With classes, assignments, blogging, work and personal obligations, how do you manage your time?

Poorly. I am the world’s biggest procrastinator. I do things like think, “You can have some M&Ms when you’re done with your blog post” or “You can watch Orange is the New Black when you’ve done some studying”, but I usually end up doing the thing and the incentive at the same time, which totally defeats the purpose of the incentive. I do pay my bills way ahead of time, though. I’m aware that some things have horrible and immediate consequences like $75 late fees and ruined credit. I buy a planner every year and use it for a few months, and then think “I’m so good at planning things! I don’t need this, clearly!” #logic

Who are some of your favorite bloggers? What do you like about them?

Hyperbole and a Half is my blogspiration. Allie Brosh is the person who made me want to start a blog, any blog, in the first place. I still laugh-cry when I read her post about the Alot. Old Single Mom, who posts through the ChicagoNow website, is another one of my favorites… she’s a friend of mine, and we share a sense of humor and a tendency to wax poetic about things that are not poetic at all. Ashley from BigTopFamily has been great as well; she’s another one who’s adopted the “competence, not excellence” philosophy, and I love the way she talks about it.

Do you have any tips or advice for new bloggers?

Find your niche. Write about what only YOU can write about–or write about something everybody’s writing about from the unique perspective only you can bring to it. (You have something like that. It just might take a little bit to find it.) And have so much fun. If you’re not having fun, there’s no point. Also, try and write positive stuff–ADD to conversations, don’t just talk about what not to do or what’s wrong with things. Talk about what should happen instead. Come up with solutions, don’t just point out problems.

What are three things on your bucket list?

1) Write and publish a novel. 2) Travel. So much travel. Traveling everywhere. 3) Get a dog. A big shaggy husky. #3 was almost “shop at Macy’s for something other than makeup without going into debt”, but the dog won.

Down-to-earth, charming, and ambitious. Shelby is the whole package. If you can’t get enough, you can check out her blog How Not to Suck and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.


Discussion: Do You Keep a Writer’s Notebook?

One of the first essays about creative writing I ever read was “On Keeping a Notebook” by Joan Didion. It’s one of the most influential pieces I’ve read. In the essay, Didion discusses how keeping a little notebook with her at all times has affected her writing life and overall creativity.

Discussion: Do You Keep a Writer's Notebook? Maybe you should think about it.

Your notebook, as a writer, is a private place where you can record novel ideas, snippets of conversation to recreate in dialogue, and wayward thoughts with no discernible shape that could come in handy some day. In Didion’s words: “We are talking about something private, about bits of the mind’s string too short to use, an indiscriminate and erratic assemblage with meaning only for its maker” (3-4). The notebook is for your own personal benefit. You don’t have to show it to anyone else.

What do you think of keeping a writer’s notebook? Do you have one? What do you put in it? How do you think it has helped you as a writer?

Taking Stock 01

Beautiful Summer Sunset




I saw a post like this one on Meet Me At Mike’s and wanted to try it out right away. I think it’s an interesting and creative way to let everyone know what I’ve been up to lately. My plan right now is to make this a weekly feature, so hopefully you all enjoy it!

This past week has been crazy. I started a part-time retail job (my first retail job) and I am EXHAUSTED. Seriously, how do people do that for a living? Also I’ve developed a new-found appreciation for cashiers. You don’t realize how hard that work can be. Trust me.

I’ve been busy working on my novel revision, too. I can’t believe how well it’s turning out (but more about that next Wednesday!). Tentative release date is somewhere close to Christmas. I’m so excited I can hardly stand it.

Everything’s coming up Briana.

Writing : MUD EYES (revision)
Listening : To the sound of silence (no, not the song)
Drinking : Cold coffee and wishing I’d reheated it before coming upstairs
Reading: After Dark by Haruki Murakami
Wanting: A full-time job writing, blogging, or editing
Looking: At potential cover designs
Playing: Fruit Splash Mania
Deciding: Whether or not it’s time to get dressed
Wishing: I could stay home and write all day
Enjoying: The feeling of accomplishment
Waiting: For a good night’s sleep
Liking: The way my name sounds
Wondering: Why some people take pride in not reading
Loving: Early psychology experiments (SO fascinating!)
Pondering: How the word literally is used so incorrectly
Considering: What other words will come to have different meanings during my lifetime
Watching: Masters of Sex, Hell on Wheels, Doctor Who
Hoping: To get everything I need for my Dragon Con cosplays
Marvelling: At how wonderful my internet friends are
Needing: Encouragement and lots of it
Smelling: Watermelon candy (Dad made some earlier)
Wearing: A towel
Following: My own path
Noticing: The best parts of myself
Knowing: That I am more than the worst thing that happened to me
Thinking: My cat is prettier than I am
Feeling: Groggy yet optimistic
Admiring: My new desk
Sorting: Through plot lines that need to be rewritten
Buying: New shoes (God willing)
Getting: Excited about the future
Bookmarking: All the cheese-related recipes on Pinterest
Disliking: The radio station that plays in Office Max
Opening: Up a little more each day
Giggling: Because I hung my bra outside to dry
Feeling: Thankful, blessed, and incredibly lucky

What do you think of this feature? Do you want to take stock, too?

Why You Should Use Wattpad

Photo credit:Twitter

Photo credit: Twitter

I just started using Wattpad and I already love it. I could kick myself for not signing up sooner. Like every other trend, I was reluctant to hop on the bandwagon for this site right away. I put it off for ages.

Finally, I joined.

“What is Wattpad?” you might ask. That’s a question I can answer. Wattpad lets you post poems, novels, short stories, fan fiction, and so much more. It’s a great place to upload your work, interact with other writers, and get feedback and advice about your pieces.

Once you start posting chapters or sections of your novel, people will read, review, and vote for it. This interest will motivate you to keep writing. If you want to maintain your following on Wattpad, you should try to update at least once every 3-7 days.

The coolest thing about Wattpad is that so many authors there have gotten book deals via the site. You never know what could happen! 😉

Seriously, though, Wattpad can be the key to staying motivated when working on something long-term, like a novel. If it sounds interesting, you should totally sign up! And feel free to follow me! 🙂

What do you think of Wattpad? Any other websites like it that you want to recommend?

Tweet tweet:

“@Wattpad is a free online resource more writers should be using,” says @thecollegenov. (Click to tweet)

Have you heard of @Wattpad? Writer @thecollegenov wants to tell you all about it. (Click to tweet)