The Power of Books

As a girl, I was in awe of books, and authors who could dream up such fantastic worlds and characters and then describe them so vividly, you could see everything playing out like a movie in your head. I’d stay up late at night turning the pages of an Agatha Christie mystery, too wired on the suspense to sleep. I’d swoon over Mr. Darcy and I’d root for Samwise Gamgee, the unlikely hero and loyal friend, facing the terrors of Mordor to save our other unlikely hero, Frodo Baggins. I even devoured Dickens’s Great Expectations, though I struggle to get through his wordy passages now.

Still, I couldn’t fully appreciate everything an author must go through to produce a single work until I finally, finally, finished Silent Kingdom. Book one was definitely the longest adventure in this series for me thus far; I was brainstorming and writing book two, Forsaken Kingdom, as I edited and revised the first, so FK progressed much faster. SK took years. I started with a terrible short story concept that grew into a far better full-length novel, and then into a series.

Agonizing over the plot, poking it here and there to try to find every possible hole? I’ve done that. Holding my breath as my writing mentor and friend and then my beta readers sent me feedback? Check. Rereading and rereading again, pulling apart sentences to rework them, only to put them back the way they originally were? You bet I’ve done that too.

But perhaps the hardest writing stage was the part where I set my book aside.

On a beautiful, sunny afternoon in September, I was writing my book in my spare time between the two jobs I worked…while a few miles down the road, my parents were in the accident that took their lives. Through my journey with grief, and maybe especially because I knew I’d been writing–doing something I loved as they died, which felt like the ugliest of ironies–I pushed aside books. I couldn’t read or write as I did before. I couldn’t live or be myself as I did before. Happiness, and anything that brought happiness, felt like guilt. Everything was darkness.

Then, gradually, the light started to return. I remembered how much my parents had believed in me. I remembered who I was again. I couldn’t give it up because they died or I hurt. In fact, that was the greatest reason to embrace my passion again. To make them proud. To make the most of whatever time I had left on earth, when life is so fragile.

I believe most authors have testimonies like that. Every book we write holds a piece of our hearts and souls. Each book is a journey, and it reflects our own life journeys maybe just as much as it reflects our characters’ journeys. And each reader relates to these journeys in their own ways, based on whatever they are going through.

Maybe that, most of all, is what makes books so awe-inspiring to us all.

Just 15 Minutes a Day

The problem with undertaking any big project or goal, including writing a novel, is that it feels massive. (Obviously.)

When I tell myself, “I need to write today,” it’s easy for me to have a long list of excuses…

I’m not feeling inspired right now.

I’m tired.

I don’t have time. 

Maybe later.

It’s hard trying to write books and take that passion seriously, while also working a full-time job. Right? Life gets busy, and it’s unfortunately all-too-easy to push aside what I’ve called a “hobby” for years.

But this year, I want to treat writing as another job. Because it’s not just a hobby to me–it’s a passion. And that means it needs to be a priority.

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve received for taking my writing seriously is to just carve out 15 minutes each day. That’s all. No matter how busy I get, it’s easy to set aside 15 minutes for something, right?

I mean, I spend more time on my phone at the end of the day, doing absolutely nothing productive. Surely I can sit down and write anything, whether it be writing my book or a blog post or whatever else comes to mind, to keep my creative juices flowing.

And you know what?

It’s totally worked. 

In fact, by giving myself a small, manageable writing goal, I’ve consistently written every day since the end of December, usually for longer periods of time than 15 minutes (because once I start, I realize I do have some ideas floating around in my brain and I do have more than 15 minutes right then to dedicate to writing.

It’s kept my momentum going with my book (Silent Kingdom # 3) and, I hope, will help me continue to strengthen my writing skills. It definitely leaves no room for the “I have writer’s block” excuse.

Because even if I write total crap, I can definitely always write something for 15 minutes, and that means…there is no writer’s block.

If you want it enough, you’ll make the time and find the motivation to do it.

What tips or tricks have helped you accomplish a big goal, writing-related or otherwise?

 

Fear. In Life, in Books.

I will not bow to fear.”

-Rachel L. Schade, SILENT KINGDOM Book 3

Yep. I just quoted myself. Because I can. 😉

And I also wanted to give you a sneak peek into what I’m up to in my little writing world.

I’m drafting book three in the SILENT KINGDOM series, and this quote will be featured in it. For sure.

Facing and overcoming fear is a huge part of my main character Halia’s journey, and a big theme of the series.

It’s also a huge part of my own life journey, which is probably why I find I need to write words like this. “I will not bow to fear” needs to be my mantra too. In the hard times of life. In the seasons of change or uncertainty. In the moments where I must choose whether I will step outside of my comfort zone, or settle for mediocrity and less-than.

If you write, do you find–even in fictional pieces–that you write about personal things, or even messages that maybe you need to hear and remember?

Writer’s Block and Mental Fatigue

Oh, you again. My old enemy, writer’s block.

But most of the time, you’re just full of baloney and excuses.

“You don’t have time,” you whisper. “You’re too tired. You’re too uninspired.”

Or, worse: “You aren’t good enough, so why even bother?”

I wonder if Shakespeare ever sat staring at a blank page, hesitating to dip his quill into ink because he was sure no one would ever read what he wrote. Or that it wasn’t good enough. Or that he was too busy.

“I probably should be folding my underclothes right now instead.”

Yeah, Shakespeare. The world would have been far more greatly changed and inspired if you’d spent more time on your chores and less on your writing.

But there are times when I think my “block” is legitimate. Those moments when I really do feel like my brain is screaming for a break. Occasionally work can be emotionally and mentally exhausting, or I am trying to resolve some other problem or have spent a lot of brain energy on something else in my life. Or I’m sick and my brain and body just need rest.

Sometimes, the best cure for writer’s block is to ignore it and write whatever random thoughts spring to mind. You can fix that mess later. 

But not always.

And let’s be honest, you can tell when you’re giving yourself a list of BS excuses vs. when you legitimately need a break.

Sometimes, the best cure for writer’s block is to embrace the fact that you need rest. Take care of yourself. Give your brain a vacation day!

When your brain is rested and ready, you’ll be able to produce better quality work instead of just staring at that blank page or screen like a zombie.

Don’t be a zombie, my friends.