How to Stay Motivated During the Writing Process

How to Stay Motiv

One of the hardest parts about writing is the motivation aspect. How do you keep going and stay inspired even when you face rejection or lack of time? That’s why I’ve assembled this quick list of how to stay motivated during all parts of the writing process! Hopefully the tips below will help you just as much as they helped me.

1. Turn your ‘shoulds’ into ‘musts’.

It’s helpful to make a list of all the things you keep telling yourself you ‘should’ do. Chances are that the list is longer than you thought. It’s also a list of projects or activities that will bring you serious joy and fulfillment once you get started on them. Have you kept telling yourself that you should read every day? Carve out ten minutes at the beginning of your morning to pick up a novel over breakfast. Have you always said to yourself that you should begin on that plot idea that’s been bouncing around your head? Take five minutes to jot it down. Even with a major time crunch, you can still get started on that list in short intervals. Continue reading

How to begin your novel: Start with the action!

Writing Tip - Start with the Action

How should you begin your novel? The best way is to start with the action!

This is a concept that’s taken me many stories to understand. When writing my first draft of One Last Letter, I included a flashback scene that showed Jesse and Evelyn as young teenagers. They were making a promise to one another to stay together forever. It was a great scene and I loved it and then when I was editing with Crimson Romance’s brilliant editor Julie Sturgeon, she said: “This has gotta go.”

To be honest, the action of the story didn’t start with that promise. The action started a few years later, when Evelyn returns from school and she no longer believes she can be with Jesse. That’s where my story needed to begin. The same issue happened with Revolutionary HeartsI’d drafted a scene right before the hero and heroine meet for the first time. It was a discussion between the heroine and her grandmother – fun dialogue, but again, not where the action starts.

Why should you start with the action? It grips your reader’s interest and hooks the reader from the beginning. I know I make judgments about whether or not I’m going to buy a new book based on first chapter excerpts. If the beginning of your book isn’t strong, your reader won’t stick around to see if the rest is any better!

Here’s a few questions to ask yourself to tighten up your writing and start with the action:

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Romance fan? Advanced Reader Copies of Revolutionary Hearts are available for review

Review copies!

For all interested book bloggers, book reviewers, or just a general lovers of historical romance: I’m excited to announce Advanced Reader Copies of Revolutionary Hearts are now available for review!

Thanks to the amazing Crimson Romance team, my novella is finally in the last production stages and will be released by the end of March. (March 30, to be exact.) Till then, I’m on the look-out for some awesome reviewers who would be interested in reading the novella. You can post the review to your blog, Goodreads, Amazon, B&N… it’s all appreciated! Think you could be one of those amazing reviewers? Sign up here!

If you’re curious to find out more about the novella:

Parineeta Singh has always known her purpose in life: to help exact revenge on the invading British and free India. She becomes a maid for General Carton in order to supply information to her brother’s Indian revolutionary group. But when her employer is  exposed as an American spy, she agrees to help him escape the British Raj.

She did not agree to lose her heart.

To complete his mission, Carton—aka undercover operative Warren Khan—must hide both his true objective and his part-Indian heritage. But once he meets the captivating Parineeta, who holds the key to both his freedom and capturing her brother, a suspected anarchist, he finds the subterfuge more difficult than anticipated.

Navigating between the lavish social circles of the British elite and the dense jungles of 1920s India on the brink of the country’s revolution, the two must find a way to protect both their lives and their love.


 “How do you know so much about the jungle, anyway?” He leaned against one side of the cave, and she watched his face slip into the shadows. “I thought your entire family worked for the previous general who lived in that house before me. Surely he didn’t send you out for tasks in the trees.”

The unbidden memories sent a fresh wave of pain straight to her heart. “When I was younger, I worked as a maid in the house. But the previous general was… He would instruct me to scrub the floors from dawn until sundown, when I would finally receive a break to eat a meal. All his servants were treated in such a manner.”


“I do not believe he saw us as people. We could be worked like dogs. I would often escape into the jungle, and eventually I no longer worked in the house at all.”

“I see.” Warren reached out to envelope both of her hands into his smooth ones. She flinched. Yet as her skin grew accustomed to the touch, she relaxed her hands in his. It alarmed her how much more at ease she was becoming around him. It was almost as if he provided a source of comfort, something she couldn’t quite name and didn’t care to. “I do not understand why anyone would be cruel to you, though.”

He rubbed his thumb in a circular motion over her hand. Shockwaves from his touch jolted up her arm.

Danger. She wrenched one of her hands from his hold and pivoted on her heel. But his right hand still gripped hers with firm pressure. Her torso twisted as she kept her face turned from his. “Then you do not know enough of the world.”

“I think I do.” His voice was low and husky. A chill ran up Parineeta’s spine and unfamiliar heat pooled in the pit of her stomach. “I’ve seen and known many women during my life. No agent’s or colonel’s daughter has ever been more courageous or intelligent than you.”

Parineeta spun her head around. She wanted—no, she needed—to believe this man. No one had ever said the honeyed words that left his mouth to her before. They were so sweet that she could almost taste her grandmother’s syrup. He squeezed her hand and brought her body ever so closer to his.

“You called me intelligent in the past. Am I?” She lifted her chin, reclaiming her pride and throwing off whatever feeling this man gave her. She would not buckle to her knees before him. “I am here to learn information from you and nothing more, yet you seem to draw me into dangerous situations.”

Warren lifted his thumb to graze the top of her cheekbone. She struggled to keep her breathing under control as she met his gaze. The brown hair she had grown accustomed to seeing so coiffed and slicked back had fallen from its former grace and hung loose over his forehead, the ends brushing the top of his eyes.

When he spoke, he sounded distant, as if in a trance. His eyes remained fixed on hers. “I wish every woman was like you.”

She felt her cheeks flush. No man had ever spoken to her with such boldness before. A heady rush swept through her body as he inched closer to her, removing the gap between them as he inclined his body toward hers. His stubble scratched the side of her cheek, and his scent bombarded her senses, removing all rational thought.

His lips brushed against hers, softly at first, then more insistent. She clutched the collar of his kameez. Could he hear her heart pounding? His right hand threaded through her hair, combing through her waves and falling along the sides of her sari. His other hand pressed into the small of her back, molding her body against his.

Her body naturally reacted in the same way—hungry and yearning against his lips. She put everything she had into the kiss, all her years of rejection and feeling unwanted and being unable to marry due to her skin. Too dark for the British to view her as an equal, too light for the men in her village to forget who her father was. She’d never kissed a man before. And this one made her feel like a flame burning up from the tips of her toes to the top of her head.

For more links, find the novella on Crimson Romance’s websiteadd it on Goodreads, or listen to the novella’s soundtrack. I loved writing about Parineeta and Warren’s passionate journey during the British Raj, and I can’t wait for you to meet them as well.

My Secret Weapon? Audio Inspiration and Writing Podcasts

my secret weapon-

“Writing is a marathon, not a sprint.” But it certainly doesn’t hurt to get a shot of motivation every once and a while. The three podcasts below have helped me so much as a writer over the past few months. Whether you’re looking for plot development tips or general information about how to publish your work, these podcasts can work wonders. Next time you’re feeling a serious lack of motivation, just listen to one of the following podcasts for valuable information and writing inspiration.

Wordplay: Helping Writers Become Authors – K. M. Weiland’s podcast is based around writing methods and editing strategies. It’s focused on the writing process, not so much marketing or publishing. I always turn to her podcast when I’m struggling with editing a scene or before beginning an outline. Her podcast episodes made me reconsider everything from where a book ending should be set to how realistic my dialogue truly is. No matter what stage of the writing process you’re at with your MS, she’ll definitely help you improve your current draft. Some of my favorites: “Get Rid of On-the-Nose Dialogue Once and For All”  and “Most Common Writing Mistakes: Describing Character Movements” .

The Creative Penn – Joanna Penn’s podcast is wonderful for writers who want to learn more about the business side of writing. She’s a self-published entrepreneur who has great wisdom to share about the publishing industry. She covers everything from how current technology is affecting readers to the basics of marketing work. Penn also has a publishing news round-up in the beginning of each new podcast that keeps me learning more about the industry. If you’re interested in eventually publishing your novels, I recommend checking out The Creative Penn. Some of my favorites: “Die Empty. Managing Your Creative Rhythm” and “The Lion’s Gate, Fighting Resistance, and Mental Toughness for Writers”.

The Accidental Creative – This podcast is for anyone who considers himself or herself a “creative”. It’s not specifically aimed toward writers, but each episode is relevant for anyone who produces creative work on a day-to-day basis. Todd Henry covers some great ideas, such as daily practices that lead to long-term success (like writing all year) and the importance of meaningful time allocation. Think of this podcast as life coaching for the creative writer. Some of my favorites: “Your Intended Audience” and “The Dailies”.

All of the podcasts above release several new episodes each month, but there’s a ton of other writing and publishing podcasts out there which also update regularly. Know any other writing podcasts that inspire you? Feel free to share them in the comments below!

Write More Now! (How I started writing more in less time)

How to Sweeten (Deal) (2)It’s been an amazing winter break, full of rest and finally finding more time to do things I enjoy (reading! writing! spending way too much time browsing random Mashable articles!). But with my college semester beginning in a week and the threat of a rigid schedule looming ahead of me once more, it’s time to make a game plan for finding more time to accomplish my writing goals with less time on my hands.

Mainly, the realization I’ve come to over the past few weeks is that writing requires serious dedication. Five hundred words may not sound like much, but even that task can seem daunting on some days. Yet when I sit down and make the conscious decision to start writing, it’s amazing how much I’m able to accomplish… within the set time period I’ve allocated for myself, that is.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve finally discovered the awesome power of word sprints (I’m the last to jump on this train, I know). But for those of you who haven’t tried this yet, I can’t recommend it enough. No matter how pressed for time you are, set a timer or tell yourself that you’ll only write for ten minutes. Even if that’s all the time you can spare for the day, at least it’s something.

I have two mantras for this year: “Write at least 500 words every day” and “Write More Now!” The first is a reminder that I need to write at least a little every day this year, and the second is a reminder to write faster.

A year ago, I would’ve never agreed to the latter. I used to think word sprints couldn’t possibly produce the same quality of work as slow, “careful” writing. But once I started setting word sprints for myself, I realized all that “slow, careful writing” I was doing before was actually just me second-guessing myself on every sentence and re-writing entire paragraphs because I didn’t think they were up to par. I was stifling my inspiration instead of letting the words flow.

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Writing Isn’t For You

typography-370More than a year ago, I read Seth Adam Smith’s “Marriage Isn’t For You” article and loved it. (And for those of you who haven’t read it, I recommend clicking the link.) In the article, Seth’s dad tells him, “You don’t marry to make yourself happy, you marry to make someone else happy.” What if the same concept applied to writing? If we played a bit of Mad Libs here with the sentence: “You don’t write to make yourself happy, you write to make someone else happy.”

I’ve often wondered whether writing is supposed to serve the author or the reader. Sure, it’s a pretty extremist view on the subject. But if you had to choose, what would you say? What’s more important – what the reader wants or what the writer wants? Sometimes lightning strikes and the two equal one another. In an ideal world, both interests would always be the same. Everything writers wrote would be loved by everyone and no one would object to anything we typed and sent out to the world and rainbows and magical unicorns and all that.

However, that type of “idealized world” would not be fair to either readers or writers. No writer can predict with complete accuracy whether the writing will resonate with readers, and no reader can guarantee to love (or even like) all writing. There’s this bridge that a lot of writers are always trying to cross. That’s why we read our reviews; that’s why we pay attention to articles about how to improve our writing. There’s a sense of satisfaction knowing we’ve improved our craft, yes, but there’s also the satisfaction of knowing we’re closer to pleasing our readers.

Let me take an honest step back here. I would love to say that my goal is to satisfy my readers 100% of the time. Frankly, I tend to write most of my stories without thinking about a certain target audience or even an audience at all. I’ve read a lot of articles discouraging against this practice, but for me that’s when the words flow easiest and when my voice sounds most authentic. Writing is my favorite form of expression, and sometimes it’s the kind of expression that doesn’t always come with a trendy genre or a target word count.
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My top three editing tips & tricks {Read, Identify, and Question}

typography-751 First of all, happy holidays to everyone! The past month has been crazy busy, with finishing up the semester and taking my finals and juggling on-campus jobs and… Well, the craziness has slowed down for a bit. Thank goodness for Winter Break and (best of all) thank goodness for more writing, reading, and editing time.

Yes, I said editing time. I’ve been working on edits for a historical romance novella, and as soon as that project wraps up I’ll be working on edits for the contemporary New Adult piece I started over the summer. I also wanted to say that I’ve been reading reviews for my last two novels and incorporating all the feedback I’ve received. Thank you to everyone who has reviewed; you’ve helped me identify what I need to work on in the future and what I should continue writing as well.

Anyway, between all that editing and reading reviews, I realized that I edit my manuscripts differently now than I did a few months ago. Since I’m always on the lookout for editing tips from other writers, I thought I’d share some of my updated techniques. I’ve listed a few quick tricks below:

(1) Read your manuscript aloud. I’ve discovered so many typos or logistical errors when reading my work aloud. It’s also another way to make your work unfamiliar to you, which helps while editing. Your brain becomes accustomed to seeing the same screen and Word document over and over, so actually reading aloud your work enables you to see/hear your words in a new medium. Continue reading

Brand names, trademarks, and contemporary conundrums


For realistic fiction writers, brand names tend to slip into our writing. While editing my YA contemporary thriller and currently my NA contemporary romance, I ran into issues with brand names. Was I allowed to use them? Could I really be sued?After research into how to use brand names in fiction, I’ve compiled five general guidelines for using trademarks. Note that the tips below aren’t hard and fast rules, but they should be taken into consideration when writing your next contemporary piece.

(1) Brand names should never be mentioned in a negative light. I’m not even talking about someone buying a hamburger from Burger King and choking on it. Any sort of negative description associated with a trademarked item will not be appreciated by the company. When brand names are mentioned in literature, it should add something to the story. Save your complaints about the item for a well-written letter to the company, not for malicious intent in your story. If you do want to add a dimension of realism and admit a certain chain’s pizza tastes like cardboard, this brings us to tip #2…

(2) Fake brands should be used to represent real ones. It’s easy to replace names. Smoothie Queen and Palace of Pizza are two examples of brand name replacements. These fictional titles come without trademark infringements or worries over being sued. Readers are intelligent. They can figure out what a company resembles even without the official title.

(3) Don’t write falsely about the brand names you do use. If it’s completely unavoidable – you just HAVE to use Glad or Tupperware – make sure you’re using the right brand name for the right product. Don’t write “Domino’s hamburgers” or “Starbucks pizza”. Even if the brand names produce similar products, this could be considered a trademark infringement. Trademark infringement is the unauthorized use of a name that creates confusion regarding similar products. Keep tabs on whether or not you’re using the brand name correctly.

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On Positivity, Publication, and Pushing Forward


Publication as a teen isn’t impossible, but like any endeavor, it isn’t easy. I want others out there to know that you don’t need to wait to pursue your dreams of publication – but you should also remember the importance of positivity and continuing on even when the road ahead seems bleak.

Growing up, I was always writing. My stories would become longer and longer, until one day they were novel length. And like most writers, I was a voracious reader. While stories of teen authors were far and few between, I’ve always believed age should never be a restriction for following your passions – no matter how old or young you are. So I polished my work and sent it out to the world.

I started submitting my stories to agents and publishers when I was thirteen, and it’s been five long years of rejection letters until this point. I’m incredibly grateful to be standing where I am now, but I also recognize the potential rejection around every corner.

As a writer, it’s important to remember that not everyone is going to like your work. You will run the gamut between five-star reviews and one-star reviews. Criticism is nothing new, but social media and the anonymity of the internet makes reading critique of your work more accessible than ever before.

No matter where you are on your path to publication or wherever your creative aspirations may take you, always remember to stay positive. Be thankful for what you’ve been blessed with, and trust that everything will work out in the end.

OneLastLetterThat’s exactly what I would tell my fifteen-year-old self. At one point that year, I received three rejection letters in the same day. I thought, “I’m never going to be published. No one will like my work. I should give up!” If I could go back now, I would tell the fifteen-year-old me to have faith. When you have a dream in mind, you have to keep pushing forward no matter what obstacles stand in your way.

When I read critique of my work, whether it’s from a reviewer or an editor, it reminds me that I have so much to improve upon and there’s still so much more to accomplish. I think, “Okay, I’ll write a better story next time. I’ll take this critique and make my work stronger than before.”

TheInnocentAssassinsAt the same time, don’t get so caught up in negative critique. Seek out all the inspiring reminders of why you’re pursuing your dreams. I also read positive reviews, e-mails from readers who liked my book, and submission acceptance letters from my publishers. If you’re going after a goal right now, start gathering your positive reminders. They’ll help reinforce your belief in your work when the going gets tough.

There will be days when you feel like losing hope. There will be times when you worry you’re wasting your time, or that the dream you wish to pursue is far too outlandish to ever be reality. Understand the critique and use it to improve. Read the positive reminders and reinforce your sense of purpose.

But don’t ever give up, and don’t ever stop pushing forward.

{Originally published on Relate Mag}