The Never Ending Day

I have been struggling with what feels like a neverending day. Every day bleeds together. The only thing that I have that makes it feel like there are different days are my classes from Monday to Thursday. However, those classes end in two weeks and then I will have even more time to spend. 

How to Separate the Days

Get up at the same time every day and have a set schedule. During a normal time, you would have a schedule full of meetings, classes, work, and errands. Usually, you might use a planner to keep all this external schedule straight. You may not have these external schedule pieces currently, so you should create your own internal schedule. 

Last summer I was working 9 to 4 Monday through Friday, which meant I had all of Friday to do whatever I wanted. It was easy to wake up and watch videos on my phone until noon, which wasted a good portion of my day. I wanted to get things done on my day off rather than waste it. So, I created a schedule, broken down by hour, and this let be to accomplish a lot. This feeling that I had on Fridays during the summer is how every day feels now. That is why a schedule and mindfully doing things can help to break up the day. 

How to Spend the Extra Time

New or old hobbies, pick them up. You have copious amounts of free time (if you are not an essential worker). Use the time to improve yourself. Read a book you have been wanting to but haven’t had the time. Bake some bread, a lot of people are doing this. Try your hand at writing, drawing, painting, and art of any kind. 

Try not to spend all your time on Netflix and other streaming services. When this quarantine is over, you will feel like you have accomplished nothing. Unless you really think binge-watching the Office for the seventh time is a good use of your life. Use this time as a springboard into a better future you. You can never have too many hobbies when times are what you have an excess of. People work their whole life to live without work and we get a taste of that before we are retired. ( I know financially it isn’t great, trust me I feel it) Make the best of the situation at hand. 

Feeling Like You Have too Much Time and Yet Like You Have Accomplished Nothing

I mentioned in the section above that you will feel like you haven’t accomplished anything if you watch too many things online. This is one of the things that I struggle with. I feel like I am constantly connected to my phone or my computer. ( much of this is because I write a lot on my computer but a lot is watching videos) I tend to watch more education videos and call it research but, on days when I don’t get a lot of words written, these videos do not feel like research and instead are a distraction. 

Sometimes, reading can feel like this as well. I love reading and I know I need to read in order to be a great writer, but I just want to write. I have set myself some tough goals for the year in writing and I feel like everything else is taking away from reaching the goals. However, reading and research will aid my books and short stories and make me an overall better writer. If I spend all my time reading I won’t write anything. If I just write then it could be bad and I will have to revise more which takes just as long and I didn’t get to enjoy reading. 

It is amazing how I have been able to fill up my time and feel the pressure the has been self-imposed. This is a good and a bad thing because the pressure can cause me to not do either because I am afraid of choosing wrong. The best choice is to do a little bit of both and just move forward. 

Make yourself a schedule. Set some goals. Go get it done and have fun with it. 

How are you separating the days? What are the hobbies that have picked up and enjoy? What are some of your quarantine goals?

Stay safe loves!

Please feel free to email me any questions, stories, themes, or ideas I am grateful for all your contributions.

Email me at evilholmess@gmail.com

Follow me on twitter @RealEvilHolmes

-Evi. L. Holmes

Update On Writing and Future Plans

Hello loves! 

Today’s blog is a little bit different than usual. I have been making some headway with writing in the last few days (I have extra time to write due to the Virus) and I wanted to share some of that progress and my writing plan for the near future. 

Before I jump into it, I would like to know if you guys would appreciate a progress bar on various projects put on the homepage of this blog. It could be interesting to see what I am currently working on. Let me know in the comments whether that would be a good idea. 

The Blog

As you have noticed, I have been a little bit more active on this blog than usual. I have been trying to publish a new post once or twice a week. My posts are usually between 500 and 1,000 words and I spend a decent amount of time on them before posting. This means that that word count is not going towards my short stories and novels. The shift to something that is not fantasy can be a nice reset for my mind. So, it is a net benefit at this point. If/When I get publish I may go back to publishing once a week to once a month depending on my schedule but, for now, things will carry on as scheduled. (As always, you can email me ideas or put them in the comments.)

Short Story

This is the most exciting update, in my opinion. Sunday to Tuesday afternoon I wrote a complete draft of a 28 page 9,000 word short story. (that is why I didn’t post a blog on Tuesday) I had previously written a 5,000 page draft of the story but that was more of a really thick outline and I only kept two paragraphs from it. This taught me some really important things that I had known deep down but had not surfaced for me yet. 

I really love writing. It is exhilarating and I might actually be good at it. The words flowed very easily. On Sunday my word count was 4,218 which is a lot because there was so much else going on that day. I learned that I really can write a lot when I put my mind to it. 

I could totally write full time. This virus has allowed me to live as I would as a full-time writer before I got published. The lifestyle fits me and I am, surprisingly, able to push myself, create deadlines, and be a self-starter. This has helped me as I think about my future and what I want to do that writing is worth pursuing and I am going to do it no matter whether it takes two or ten years to get published. 

This story has two or three more drafts to go to but I am hoping to get it published in a Sci-Fi and Fantasy literary magazine as soon as possible. 

Novels

As I have completed a draft of my short story, I need to begin plotting my novel. This way I can begin drafting it. I am going to try to write between 2,000 and 5,000 words a day which will give me a novel draft in a month and a half plus the time it takes to plot it. I am going to take some time researching and plotting this novel before I write it so that the drafting process will go smoothly and I will have to revise less on the back end. I am hoping to have a completed first draft by early June and then revise in July and August. This will put me in a good spot to start querying in the fall, just in time for World Fantasy Convention. This is all tentative and, as we know, a lot can change quickly. So, who knows where we will be by then. 

Other Projects

I am always working on other side projects and I plant to overlap plotting, drafting, and revisions. So, I am always rotating in a new novel or short story to keep something fresh and keep my writing moving. 

I have a working idea page that I can go to and pick up plot and worldbuilding ideas and I have a page that is filled with scenes that I use to deal with writer’s block. I always have many irons in the fire and there is never a dull moment. 

I hope that this was an interesting and helpful update. Let me know if you like having these updates and what else you might wish to know about my writing, writing process, specific projects, etc. 

Stay safe loves!

Please feel free to email me any questions, stories, themes, or ideas I am grateful for all your contributions.

Email me at evilholmess@gmail.com

Give me a follow on Instagram @evi.l.holmes 

Follow me on twitter @RealEvilHolmes

-Evi. L. Holmes

Keep Writing (Even when you think it is bad)

I write this to myself as much as I do to any of my readers. It can be difficult to get yourself to write. This may be odd coming from a writer but it is the sad truth of the matter. Writing is not all unicorns and dragons. Sometimes getting your word count can be drudgery. In order to write better, you need to write more. 

Get Rid of Distractions

It can be difficult to focus on writing when other things are vying for your attention. I know that I often write with multiple other things going on at a time. I will have my phone and that alone is a huge distraction because I am tempted to check my messages or hop on social media. However, this is not conducive to writing. 

You need to get rid of distractions so that you are able to immerse yourself in the story and focus on what you are doing. Interruptions will through you further out of the story than you think. If you can immerse yourself in your story then your writing will improve and the more words you get on the page the better your drafts will be.

Set Goals For yourself 

You can often feel like you are floundering in the directionless ocean of words with no end in sight. A way to avoid this feeling is to set daily, weekly, and monthly. It can also be helpful to give yourself deadlines. This is especially necessary for unpublished writers. They need to get there stories written without any outside force or person driving them to the end. 

It’s a marathon, not a sprint. (but that doesn’t mean that writing sprints aren’t a useful tool, they are!) Your daily goals can be plotting, word count, time, or scene related. I find that it is helpful to have more than one of these goals, such as time and word count, in order to further your writing. If you focus solely on time, your wordcount could suffer. If you focus solely on word count, you could waste time and not be focused which will affect the quality of your work. 

Draw in Inspiration

It can be difficult to write when you are drained or feeling uninspired. This means you need to figure out where you draw inspiration from. Reading your favorite authors can be a great source of inspiration. See have they write and figure out the breakdown of their writing style so that you can understand your own style better. 

There are many different places to find inspiration and ideas. Go for a walk with your dog, garden, paint, cook or bake. Do something creative and stimulating but not mentally draining. When you write, it takes a lot of mental energy so you will want to conserve mental energy in author areas, while still being creative. 

Make a Working Idea Page to Consolidate Your New Ideas

What do you do with the ideas that you come up with, it’s too much to write at once? I use a working idea page. This is where I dump lists of ideas that I come up with throughout the day. I know that they are safe there and I can come back and grab any one of them when I need something to write. This can be useful because it means you will never run out of ideas because you wrote them down when you initially thought of them. 

Revise!

The bottom line is, you must revise. The first draft will not be what you end up with and that is a good thing because it is often a mess. That is okay. The point of drafting is getting words and ideas on the page and not to spin gold. Do not compare your rough draft to other author’s finished products. They have done revisions and that is a good thing. You will need to revise as well. 

How do you motivate yourself to write?

Stay safe loves!

Please feel free to email me any questions, stories, themes, or ideas I am grateful for all your contributions.

Email me at evilholmess@gmail.com

Give me a follow on Instagram @evi.l.holmes 

Follow me on twitter @RealEvilHolmes

-Evi. L. Holmes

My First Draft Sucks :( (No this not a working title)

First drafts aren’t supposed to be gold. They are messy and that is a good thing. You have to write a lot in order to write well. This means many messy drafts and a lot of revision before you get something even close to decent. Everyone else has to go through it too. Find other writers and commiserate with them and share encouragements. 

I just completed a full draft of my short story!

I felt really good about completing it and I knew there were issues with it but I completed 90% of the story in two days. That was quite an achievement for me. So, I decided to send it to my Alpha reader. Last night her responses began to roll in. I made the mistake of reading them. She had read and commented on half of the story and has not gotten to the rest of it yet. (so I don’t know if she thinks it is at all good or not)

Don’t stunt your creativity with criticism, learn from it instead

I did exactly what you shouldn’t do. I should have left the story alone for a few more days. Instead, I stopped myself from working on my next story. I had an idea that was pressing on my mind and not letting me sleep and instead of writing it, I looked at comments that only served to discourage me and tell me that my draft was bad. 

In reality, the storyline is good, the plot is interesting, and the theme is compelling to my target audience. Where it lacks is in the literary elements,  sophistication of prose and character development. Most importantly, I told it too much as a description rather than intertwining character, plot, and scene to create a brilliant tapestry rather than three different colored rags.

How to get yourself out of a Slump

I would be lying if I said I did not have a slump yesterday and this morning when I got up to write at 6 am. However, the best way to push yourself out of a writing slump is by brainstorming or writing something. Last night I wrote an 800-word outline for a romance novel. This morning I tried to write my first chapter and I wrote 120 words and it felt flat like a generic Romance. In my mind, it seemed wonderful and fresh. As I wrote the outline I was excited about the characters. But my inciting incident has elicited no emotion from myself and definitely wouldn’t touch the reader. So, I opened up a new document, grabbed an idea from my working idea page and started to write ideas based upon it. This story may never happen but it gets me writing something. I have a writer’s block document where I write scenes for the same reason. It doesn’t matter how you do it but writing can be a quick reset for your creativity and mental state. 

Get an Alpha reader that is Strong in things you are weak on

My Alpha reader is a very literary focused reader. She reads a lot of the “great books.” These include ancient texts as well as books like East of Eden, Pride, and Prejudice, and Shakespeare. She reads broadly and has good taste in all things literary. I focus more on Science Fiction and Fantasy (although I do read many of the great books as well). This is why she is such an asset and helpful friend to send my stories to. 

She can point out the flaws in my fantasy stories from a literary point of view. This is such a benefit because it makes my stories rounded out and clean. She tells me when my stories are juvenile and where my sentence structure is too similar for the good of the flow. A word she loves to use for my stories is “chunky.” She is wonderful at seeing things that I cannot. Get yourself a brutally honest Alpha reader but make sure that you are up to being challenged. 

Don’t think about perfection when you draft or you will never get started

Finish a piece! If this means writing a short story when you consider yourself a novelist, such as me, do it. Finishing a piece will give you confidence to work on your longer pieces and invest time in yourself and your writing (remember not to dwell on comments from your readers or don’t send your short story out right away). There are other benefits to writing short stories. You can publish them in literary magazines and then use those publications in your query letters for novels. There is no right way to write. Everyone gets there by a different path. Keep drafting, keep writing, and finish the dang project. You will get there! It will probably be messy. You will need to revise and rewrite, but at least you will be able to edit it once it is on the page. Part of the reason why first drafts are not always the cleanest is the fact that you have to force yourself to write at times and this makes the dialogue simple and the characters flat. THAT IS WHAT EDITING IS FOR. You aren’t etching your story in stone. You are most likely typing it on the computer which means it is easy to revise without having to rewrite. Write it out and then write it again but better. 

Have you ever been discouraged by a critique that you asked for? How do you get yourself out of a slump? What things do you need to look for in a reader to shore up your flaws? How do you feel about drafting?

Stay safe loves!

Please feel free to email me any questions, stories, themes, or ideas I am grateful for all your contributions.

Email me at evilholmess@gmail.com

Give me a follow on Instagram @evi.l.holmes 

Follow me on twitter @RealEvilHolmes

-Evi. L. Holmes

Staying Healthy Under Quarantine

I don’t always make the best choices when it comes to food. However, I have been eating healthy under quarantine. So why is my weight going up? 

These questions may be on the minds of many people during this weird time. One of the biggest things about quarantine is that we are more sedentary. Even if you are eating well, you could not be moving enough. 

Mindful eating 

It is easy to snack when you are home and bored for long swaths of time. Mindful eating and being aware of what you are putting in your body are integral to weight loss and weight maintenance. If you feel yourself getting out of control. Keep yourself accountable and record it in a journal either on paper or your phone. You are probably eating more than you think (I know that I am). It is amazing how just writing down what you eat can make you less likely to eat something, or an amount that you shouldn’t

Exercise

Make sure that you are moving. My sister and I have been talking about this a lot. She has a fit watch and she has not been getting much higher than 1,000 steps a day. That is not even a tenth of what she should be getting. There is just too much time sitting on our buts. Normally, I would have to walk back and forth across campus four or five times a day. Now, all I have to do is a roll in and out of bed and flip on my computer (honestly I don’t even really have to leave my bed if I don’t want to). 

So, what do we do to combat this?

Well, when I am done writing this, I am going to go on a run around my neighborhood. Then, after class this evening, I will take my dog on a walk so we both get much-needed exercise. Now, this may not be possible for you because of quarantines and apartments. I am lucky enough to be in a neighborhood where I can run. If you can’t, be sure that you find some good workout videos. I at least try to do a 20-minute stretch video daily. (here is the link to one that I really like by Sydney Cummings. Check it out! 20 minute Stretch Video) There have been many new at-home workout videos posted that target people who don’t have weights because trainers know that you may not have the proper equipment. It is all about keeping moving. 

What is your quarantine workout routine?

Stay active, Stay Healthy, Keep Moving!

Please feel free to email me any questions, stories, themes, or ideas I am grateful for all your contributions.

Email me at evilholmess@gmail.com

Give me a follow on Instagram @evi.l.holmes 

Follow me on twitter @RealEvilHolmes

-Evi. L. Holmes

Social Distancing and the Introverted life

It is amazing to me how crazy self-quarantine and social distancing makes people. Our society is being flipped on its head because the world is made for extroverts. When there is a disaster, what do people do? They congregate, they come together, and they definitely don’t isolate themselves. 

The method to stem the spread of this virus is exactly the opposite of what is natural for society. However, introverts (like myself) are reveling in the copious amount of alone time. (I fully intend to spend time writing since I can’t do my real job and maybe by the end of this I’ll have a manuscript. One can dream!)

What does a day look like under quarantine?

I still have classes online. There are certain times when I still have to go online to meet with my classes. This is rather annoying to me. I find myself more likely to fall asleep. I have never fallen asleep during class before. However, the drone of an online class is enough to force anyone to sleep.

I am, also, reading a lot more. All of my books are back together after more than a year of only have a portion of my collection, we now share the same room. I am not sure if this is a benefit or a detriment. They whisper to me. Which is helpful with writing, to a degree, but is detrimental to my sleep. Last night, when I was trying to fall asleep, my mind was whirring and new ideas for my novels kept hitting my brain and I knew I needed to write them time because they would not remain until morning. All that to say, I am trying my best to take this extra time and use it to work on my stories and read books that have been on my TBR list for way too long. 

How am I affected as an introvert?

I thought that I would be completely unaffected, or be better off. However, I have realized that, although I love my alone time, people are a great source of inspiration and ideas. I need to observe the way that humans act and interact, which is difficult under quarantine. I, also, have trouble being stuck at home with two of my rather extroverted siblings. (my little sister, the social butterfly, is not fairing well which is in and of itself an interesting thing to study). 

How to roll with the punches

Every day it seems that there is a new development…or five. It can be a little bit overwhelming. However, for me, I just ignore most of it. We have been told to stay home and my schooling is all online. This means that I am stuck where I am, for the time being. Whenever things get to be too much, I just grab one of my books, curl up, and read. It calms me down and times flies more quickly when I read. Time, as a concept, under quarantine is an odd thing. It feels like there is tons of time but, at the same time, there is no time to do anything. Finding your new normal is the name of the game. Try to build a little structure in your day. I am working my way up to getting up between 4am and 5am so I can write before class and get in a quick workout. 

How to make a positive out of the chaos (I am feeding on the chaos)

Throughout this experience thus far, I have felt an odd sort of energy. My whole life I have felt like I was playing on autopilot. I am a survivalist who found survival too easy. There was no challenge (this may sound bad but I was bored). However, now we have something to struggle against, not as one country but as the world. Unfortunately, it is not something that you can really fight. I thought the “apocalypse” would be more interesting. I thought that I would be able to grab a baseball bat and hit the “beasts” that attacked us. There would be tactics involved. There would be things that I could actually fight. I can’t fight germs other than by staying inside, which feels like doing nothing. So, I am left with chaotic energy and being stuck inside (Side note: I am a true neutral but everyone who I asked about what they thought I was said I am chaotic evil without hesitation. This is interesting because that is how I wish to come off. Comment below if you would like a post dedicated to the 9 alignments). This means I need to channel that chaos into my writing and make it better through the energy. I would suggest finding something that that you find interesting, a creative outlet, and give yourself your own purpose in this “purposeless” downtime. 

What are some goals for this Quasi-break? (it’s not a real break because I have online classes. 

Write, write, write! I have to work on my stories. I am writing random scenes. Coming up with ideas. Cataloging. The other day I went through the 400+ notes on my phone and wrote down all my ideas on a “working ideas” google doc. That page is over seven pages and 3,000 words of just ideas. There is so much that I have going on in my mind that it can be difficult to sit down and actually start writing because I don’t know where to begin. Writing is something so deeply important to me and I am looking at this time as a gift for my writing. When else would I get so much time to just write? Take advantage of this time. 

READING! I have so many books that I have not had the time to read due to the copious amount of reading that I had to do for the honors college in school. Now I have time. The biggest issue is balancing my time between reading and writing. I have a tendency to get wrapped up in one or the other and I do not want to spend all my time reading because I have books to write. 

Other things 🙂 I want to do some art: sketching, painting, and crafts. I like to book bind, so I am working on that craft. Another thing that I want to spend some time on is exercise. It is necessary to keep moving. All of the other things that I mentioned doing were stationary activities and it is necessary to offset that by setting times to exercise and stretch deliberately.

What are you doing during quarantine? Are you reading or watching anything good? What creative outlets are you utilizing?

Stay safe loves!

Please feel free to email me any questions, stories, themes, or ideas I am grateful for all your contributions.

Email me at evilholmess@gmail.com

Give me a follow on Instagram @evi.l.holmes 

Follow me on twitter @RealEvilHolmes

-Evi. L. Holmes

Introvert in Africa (An Introvert in Unknown Territories)

My sisters and I landed in Zambia. My parents were waiting there for us. After our long trip, I was glad to be away from all the people in the massive airports that I had gone through to get to Livingstone. But, with anything, there are trade-offs. 

My parents, younger sister, and I went to Zambia for three weeks back in 2009. It was much different back then because I was much more outgoing because I did not care what anyone thought and as a child, you can get away with that. Since then, I have spent much more time on my own and I have found that I very much enjoy it. Therefore, I was concerned with the terrible amount of new people that I was going to come across in this journey. 

I had met a few people on the compound ten years ago but a lot changes in ten years. I was excited to see some of the people that I had met back in 2009. When we went on that trip, I spent a lot of time in the garden with the gardener. When I met him again in 2019, he was a lot shorter than I remember but I have grown significantly in the last 10 years. 

I met many missionaries while I was there and some of the medical students (since it is a teaching hospital). As daughters of the head doctor, the other missionaries and Africans wanted to meet all of us. We went to visit so many people that I lost count. I was always tired after these visits but it was well worth it. The fortunate thing was I had plenty of time to read and relax. 

I also spent more time with many family than I had in a long time. I had only spent a week or so with them at a time for the last few years. I spent a while with my mom and my sisters in the house playing games and trying to beat the December heat. That was more on me than meeting all of the other people, except for church. I was around them so much that even when I was reading there was something going on with them. I love my family but it was a lot at times. 

The most uncomfortable part of the whole trip was going to church. This had nothing to do with the service or religion but more to do with people and culture. Zambian culture is very extroverted. Everyone is excited to see everyone else and there is a lot of excitement all the time. They had me and my sisters stand up and introduce ourselves to the church. This. Was. Terrifying. I hated it. But, I got through that part. Then we were leaving the church and everyone started to line up and shake each other’s hands in a line. Everyone shook everyone else’s hand in the whole church. I was supremely uncomfortable. But, I got through it, again. This happened not once but twice because we went to two different churches. I was anxious throughout the whole thing and just wanted to flee.

I had to stay because it would have been supremely disrespectful to leave and I had nowhere to go on my own. As an introvert in an extroverted culture, I was exhausted and terrified for much of the time for my time in Zambia. But, I survived and I learned that even though I may feel exhausted and scared, growing experiences are necessary. I got to visit my family and see the world through a little bit of a different lens for a while. 

I have many more specific stories and stories about our tourist visit to the city. We went on a safari, white water rafting, and to Victoria Falls. If this is something you would be interested in hearing about, let me know in the comments below and I will do an extra post or two outside of my normal schedule. 

Please feel free to email me any questions, stories, themes, or ideas I am grateful for all your contributions.

Email me at evilholmess@gmail.com

Give me a follow on Instagram @evi.l.holmes 

Follow me on twitter @RealEvilHolmes

-Evi. L. Holmes