My Writing Zone

Finding time for everything I want to do in life is hard. I’m a mother, a wife, an editor, a daughter. I have pets and a new home to care for. My littlest is two months old, and I’m just now bouncing back from his birth (which is amazing considering the trauma I overcame with my first). I have a toddler who keeps me on my toes. You might as well call him my “work-out routine” because I’d probably never leave the couch if it weren’t for him. I give myself 100% to all of my jobs and it’s exhausting, but I love it. So, today I thought I’d share what motivates me to write and edit since I was asked recently what helps me get “in the zone” to accomplish my writing goals.

Writing and editing are me. I have hobbies and things I enjoy doing other than reading but writing and editing make me feel like myself. This is so important after becoming a mother. So many parents lose themselves, their passions, sacrifice their dreams and jobs for their children, and after the hardship of recovering from birth the first time around I had to find something that was ultimately MINE. Writing and editing are mine.

When my toddler was around one-years-old, I decided I desperately needed to have something that reminded me of me, something that made me feel like myself again. So, I started beta reading, and loved it. I loved it so much I decided to start critiquing manuscripts. Then I learned about Camp Nano a little more and finished my own manuscript in a month. I felt on top of it all. My son was old enough to play alone for a while during my work hours–and I can set my own work hours which is awesome.

But things are more difficult with two. I don’t get to nap when baby naps because it’s a rare phenomenon when both babies are asleep at the same time. I have to stay up after everyone’s gone to bed if I want to get any of my own writing done, which I usually don’t do right now. I focus on getting editing done during the week. I set realistic goals (I divide the number of words in a document by the number of days I have ’til my deadline) and meet them. I add a few extra tasks on to this, like free first chapter reads and edits to bring in more clients or to help authors out who can’t afford an editor. And moreover, I’m still expected to take care of the house (which isn’t the priority right now).

So, what keeps me motivated and what keeps me in the writing zone? How can I do all of this and not be burnt out? I prioritize. Obviously, my kids take top priority. The little one sleeps off and on, so I take moments when he’s asleep to write things like this blog post. Writing this helps me wake up, gets my brain churning before I dive into reading or editing. My toddler spends the morning playing alone, watching cartoons, or playing learning games on his kindle, so I have a little time to think–sometimes. Sometimes, shit hits the fan. Sometimes no one sleeps, everyone is crying, whining and screaming. Sometimes the laundry has piled so high I feel like it will take years to complete. Sometimes writing takes a back seat, and that’s okay. I stay in the zone though. I’m never not thinking about my book, and the edits I must do for clients. And when I get the chance, I take notes on my phone, so I don’t forget the ideas I have.

What keeps me motivated to keep writing even when I can’t meet my goals is knowing writing and editing are mine. My computer is mine. I have a safe space with my writing buddies to brainstorm and chat–even if it’s not about writing. They keep me motivated by talking about their stories, talking about writing styles and rules, etc. Just talking about writing keeps me in the zone. I’m always itching to get back to my phone or computer even for just a moment because writing, #witlingwriter, and inkscript make me feel like me, and it makes me a happier person in life knowing I can still be appreciated for my talents and for being myself.

If you’re struggling to stay in the zone, remind yourself why you write. What are your long and short-term goals? How can you make them more reasonable, more realistic, so you can meet them? It may take longer than you hoped. You can’t always do it all and expect not to be burnt out. So, do what you can, even if it’s writing a few sentences a day during your lunch break. Be thinking about your work often, what excites you about it, what will excite readers. When you’re excited about your writing, you want to write. When you’re defeated, you procrastinate and feel like it’s not worth your time.

A few tips:

In your manuscript, find the last place that truly was a joy to write or excites you and start there. That might mean deleting everything you’ve written after that point. I know, scary. If you need to cut your paragraphs and save them on a separate sheet, do it. But I usually just toss it and start fresh. It turns out better the second time around.

Take some time away from your manuscript. Get a second pair of eyes on your draft. Pay for a manuscript critique. Brainstorm with other writers. People watch or read a book. Do something creative. Go for a walk. Read about writing.

How do you stay in the “Writing Zone?” Can you share some tips on how to get back in the groove of writing when you’re feeling defeated or feel yourself procrastinating? (And remember, not everyone can write every single day).

(It took me four hours to complete this blog post between babies. I probably have typos. This is my writing life.)

My Writing Journey Began…

…when I wrote and illustrated my first story in Kindergarten. I think I still have it somewhere. The only reason I remember it is because I drew the dragon rescuing the princess from a tower. Not my best work. From there, I wrote a LOT of papers for school–I’d rather write an essay any day of the week than take a waste-of-time standardized test. I was a shit test-taker. But give me a paper to write and I more-than-likely aced it. Art classes in high school and dance in college gave me a neat perspective on the way I look at the world around me too, as did minoring in Religion. All of my experiences throughout my life have led me to where I am today as a writer and editor, and I’m thankful for them.

I thought about writing for my university’s newspaper, but I was too dedicated to my sorority (Phi Mu) and too busy with homework to find the extra time to take it on. It might be one of my biggest regrets. I did, however, start journaling a lot during college. About everything and anything, mostly my relationships with different people. Writing was always the easiest way to express myself. It’s always been easier to write how I feel vs. saying it because organizing my thoughts is clearer on paper than in my head.

After college, 2012, is when I started my book review blog. Since then, I’ve re-written most of them (some are missing because I switched sites–why I did this I’ll never know). That’s when things took off. I started communicating with a variety of authors, reviewing books for them, chatting with them about their goals, careers, and finding out how they got to where they were. I’ve followed Hugh Howey since he released each portion of  WOOL. I have the originals. I follow his blog, his process, his advice often. I was able to talk to David Forsythe about his writing process and pick his brain when I was working on my first WIP. I’ve on more than one occasion spoken to, encouraged, and written reviews in exchange for books from Lizzy Ford. This is when I knew I wanted to be an indie author and self publish. Who knew it was even possible? It was exciting. Then WOOL exploded, and Hugh continued to share the ways of his success. I was thrilled for him and for all the possibilities for myself and others. So, I continued my book reviews, made connections, blew up Twitter a few times and found my writing buddies #WitlingWriter and the supportive writing community.

My first WIP, a Paranormal Romance, was/is a flop. It’s a mess. I started it when I started my blog and didn’t really know what I was doing or how to organize my writing. I pantsed it and it failed. So, I took a break. A long break. I kept reading, kept talking with authors, kept doing reviews, kept writing, but shelved my WIP. It’s still collecting dust, nagging me and sad I’ve moved on to more successful WIPs. Maybe one day I’ll get back to it. This taught me what I should have already known…I’m a planner.

The discovery of Beta-Reading was the beginning of my editing career. I realized what I was actually doing was critiquing manuscripts–going far beyond the call of a regular alpha/beta. Why didn’t anyone tell me I could make a career out of this? I would have started doing it a long time ago. So, I started talking to editors. I took some tips and advice from the amazing Jeni Chapelle (@jenichappelle) to learn how to set up my business, and chatted with Ryan Campbell (@r.r.campbell) on many occasions since he was in the process of starting his own editing business as well. I offered free critiques and beta-reads for testimonies. And, finally, I started my editing business and got my first few paying clients. I was thrilled, and still am. Thrilled when an author sends me a request for an edit, thrilled when they send me their manuscript, thrilled when I finish my edits, and thrilled when they send me an awesome testimony or publish their book. Even more thrilled that I’m making  a career out of it. I’m getting paid to read! My dream-come-true. It’s been an amazing journey so far and I can’t wait to see where it takes me.

As far as my own writing, I’m working on it. Editing takes a lot of my time now, and I love it. I also have two little buddies I take care of 24/7, so I’m a tired mommy. But last summer I was able to start and finish Zahra, my zombie fantasy, manuscript during Camp Nano. Now if I could only find the time to edit it. I’ve gotten through the first few chapters, had a few betas check it out for me, and revised a little. I’m ready to get back to it, but struggling to find the time. I published a barely edited, short-story on Wattpad you’ll have to hunt down to read. I’ve also started working on a Tinker Bell re-telling I know a few followers are waiting to beta-read, but this one is taking a little longer to finish than Zahra did. I’m not giving up though!

I’ve always loved reading and writing. I’m excited to see where it takes me next, who I’ll meet along the way, and I’m still determined to self-publish Zahra at some point. For now, I’m enjoying editing and supporting the writers and authors, who I’m honored to be able to assist. Thank you to all of you who have helped me get to where I am. I couldn’t have done it without you.

“Comparison is the thief of joy” – Theodore Roosevelt


“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
– Eleanor Roosevelt

I love this quote. It’s one of my favorites.

It’s hard not to compare yourself to others. As a writer, I struggle not to compare myself to published authors. I have to remind myself their books are finished products, while I’m still on my first draft. When I see new authors or friends in the writing community publish their first book, it makes me anxious to finish my WIP (work in progress). This can be motivating or can make you feel defeated, depending on how you let it affect you.

You’re your own worst enemy, not the writing community. Someone else’s success, good reviews, books published, support, etc. is not an intentional jab at your own work. Your self worth isn’t determined by someone else. Self worth is your own opinion and value of yourself. “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

I wanted to post some encouragement today because there are hateful people in the world who love to watch others fail, who love to bring people down to boost their own selfish egos. These people are the ones who, at some point in their lives, let the negativity pull them down too. They let themselves fall prey to the trolls and their own jealousy/envy. They ultimately fail to make themselves feel better by trying to pull others down with them. Don’t let them defeat you. There’s nothing wrong with an ego boost now and again, but not at the expense of someone else’s feelings.

I’m not the kind of person who gets defeated easily by what others say. I appreciate constructive feedback and often give it. I take things with a grain of salt, and for my own sanity and peace of mind I block the trolls after giving them a piece of my mind. But some people take criticism hard. They take to heart the negativity, jokes or fake compliments, and it hurts their emotional stability.

Do you really want to be the type of person who breaks another writer’s spirit just because you feel irrationally threatened by them? I hope not.

I’m angry this weekend, for more reasons than one, but after dealing with similar attacks on social media, I’m pretty fed up. I’m sick of seeing petty shit from trolls or other writers, who tag along conversations and tear supportive groups apart. Sadly, creating supportive communities, hashtags and large threads of conversations lure these assholes out of hiding. I have a zero tolerance policy for them, along with the spammy bots who always follow. This is why I never feel bad about un-following, ignoring or blocking people, and you shouldn’t either. You don’t owe them anything. 

To those who dare to be petty enough to spew negativity to anyone I know: I’m not one to sit by and let this shit ruin my life or the lives of great friends and writers in my social community. I won’t hesitate to block your ass and make sure the rest of the writing community knows why I did. Don’t ruin your own reputation by being a dick to someone valued in the community. We all have similar goals and should be supporting each other, not tearing each other down.

To those who’ve been affected by the words or actions of others: Protect the peace of your mind and your heart. Block them. Face them. Have ME face them for you, I won’t hesitate to. Do whatever you need to do to get back your fighting and writing spirit because you’re worth so much more than their time and efforts to pull you down.

I hope this encourages someone today, and hope it gives others something to think about. Reflect on the things you’ve posted, keeping in mind how it will negatively affect someone else, and ask yourself if it’s worth it… Finally, stop comparing yourself to others.

“Comparison is the thief of Joy” – Theodore Roosevelt


Writer’s Toolbox Series

I wanted to share these two books from the Writers Toolbox Series because I’ve found them so helpful. I’ve been stuck the last two weeks, trying to figure out what’s keeping me from pounding out my WIP, and these have been a lifesaver. My book is practically writing itself now after going back and editing the basic blueprints of my story. I recommend both of this books for writers and editors alike.


Where is Heather?

I’m here, I promise. Can’t you tell? I’ve changed my layout at least three times this week.

I’m just a little busy.

It’s not an excuse. Well, maybe it is, but it’s a good one this time. And, no, I’m not drinking wine as I write this…get out of here. Here’s what I’m up to:

On top of outlining and writing my own book, I’m revamping my website, adding free and paid services to the mix. What use is my degree in English if I’m not using it? And, I have all the time in the world–well, maybe not all day, but most of the day–to sit around and read your manuscripts and give you feedback.

Freelance Editing is the goal, so I’m brushing up on my editing skills. I’m still beta reading, but I’m fine-tuning the differences between my beta, critiques and editing feedback. I’m also continuing to post book reviews as I work my way through my TBR list.

I’ve learned a lot about track changes recently…who knew, right? I wish someone would have told me about this option before now. It would have come in handy in college. I’m giddy over the fact I can now do track changes in both google docs and microsoft word.

That’s a little of what I’ve been doing lately. I’m also hosting #winowip, and eventually #winowipchat, so check them out on twitter. We have fun!

*my services page is still under construction,
so please email me if you have specific questions or requests*