13 Ways to Get Out of a Writing Funk

13 Ways to Get Out of a Writing Funk

Writer’s Block.

Oh yeah. I’ve been there.

Endless hours spent staring at blinking cursors, or guilting yourself because you should be writing. I once spent an entire day listing everything I needed to do, only to not get myself moving on it because of a writing funk. I had to do something else, to try to get out of that writing funk naturally, so every time I started to feel that fogginess, I tried a couple of different things.

Let’s see how they work for you.

 

Exercise

It’ll clear your mind.

Dance.

Step away from your computer or notebook and do a few push ups, or take in a bit of yoga.

Exercise gets the blood flowing in your body and kicks the fog out of your head, like a great gust of clean air.

If you’re feeling frustrated then stand up and get moving. Pump up the tunes, take a walk or jump on the treadmill.

There are a million different things you can do, but I guarantee you that after you feel your heart racing from that awesome workout, the clarity you’ll have will be amazing.

My Choice: I love yoga, but I’m not afraid to jump on the elliptical for 10 minutes or take a walk outside. It clears my mind and I get some fresh air. Just do it.

Meditate

I stand by this 100%. I saw amazing results – clarity, contentment, awareness, joy, less drama, less worrying about crap that didn’t matter, self-reflection skills, and much more – after 4 months of studying this technique and partaking every day.

My Choice: Insight Timer is a great app that has hundreds of meditations to choose from. Take a 5 minute break and clear your mind. You can also find me on there and we can do this together.

Put your writing away

I always put my writing away once I write the first draft. Stepping away for a few hours, days or even weeks can help. That crappy first version seems like it’s someone else’s work once I take it back out for Round #2 for some major edits.

My Choice: I’ll finish writing something then put it away for 2 weeks. During that time, I’ll step away – only writing in my daily journal – then come back to it and give it another go around. 2 weeks might be too long for you. Try a day and look at your work again.

 

Write outside your normal spot

Especially if it’s your house.

Writing in the same spot isn’t always best. I read advice all the time about how a writing routine is what you need to succeed, but that’s not necessarily true. Everyone is different, but even if your place to write is in your office or outside on your porch, it’s always good to try new things.

Try going to the library, the park, a coffee shop. Change it up and ideas might come to you that you never even knew you had.

My Choice: I love a good coffee shop. Cliche, I know. My favorite places have a variety of coffee, beer or wine, along with food. I have no choice but to stay there and knock out my writing because there’s no excuse to leave.

I can’t stand routine, so my “non-routine” routine helps a bit.

 

Get off the computer/cellphone

Most distracting thing ever.

I write all my outlines plus some basic content by hand before typing them up and adding more information to each part. I don’t want the internet to distract me because I know it’s going to happen. Remove those temptations.

My Choice: Put your phone on ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode and set it face down, with the ringer off. You don’t need it when you’re writing. Don’t use your computer unless you have to. I always warm up with writing by hand, and get the unfiltered first thoughts out. You don’t need a computer until you get into the nitty-gritty.

Try a TV/video cleanse

I’ve done this a few times and I love it. The first time was a full 7-Day TV detox, which meant no TV, Netflix, Youtube, Amazon – nothing. For a whole week I was only allowed to listen to music or do things that didn’t involve video. It was BRUTAL, but it made me get shit done.

Pro Tip: Try detoxing on the thing that’s distracting you. I’m serious. Cut it out for 7 days and see how strong your willpower is. For the first few days, TV show scenes from 10 years ago were popping in my head, and I really wanted to watch them. The middle was better and by the end I had everything done. I just wanted to watch TV because I actually wanted to, not because I’d been procrastinating on other things. It wasn’t compulsive anymore.

Give it a shot. Tell me how it goes.

Take a trip – a change of scenery

It doesn’t have to cost a lot or take too much time. I took a road trip an hour away and ended up loving it. A change in your weekly routine can open your mind up to new ideas.

Try a cheap trip or take a weekend somewhere you want to go. It’s not expensive if you do it right. Going to NYC for my birthday in 2016 got me out of my head and opened my mind to new ideas.

I got out of being stuck, and you can, too.

Pro Tip: Make it as awesome as you want it, but don’t let fear hold you back. It’s just money. You can make it again. It’s only a plane ride that’s over pretty quick. Take a leap and let your writing flow from your experiences.

Meet up with writers

I’m not the best when it comes to social situations, but meeting up with other writers can definitely light the spark.

Whether we admit it or not, we like to talk about our ideas and get feedback on them. It’s scary, but we want that response to see if we should even pursue it. When I went to a meetup in Nashville, I met some great writers (and some not so great writers/people). I saw their successes, their ideas, their drive, and it made me want to write more.

Pro Tip: Find a meetup in your area or get together with some creative friends. It doesn’t have to only be writers. I get together with graphic designer friends of mine and their sheer presence gives me energy on my projects. Just be careful that you’re not surrounding yourself with people with negative vibes.

 

Talk about your writing to people

They might inspire you.

It might not be your friends or your family. It could be an old friend or cousin that sparks your flame.

When I went to NYC, I met up with my long-lost aunt, and my mom’s childhood friend. They didn’t know much about me, so talking to them about my writing over drinks was fantastic. It inspired me to take a chance and look at publications in NYC.

Pro Tip: List some old friends that you might want to talk to again. Maybe you have a cousin or aunt that you know you can talk to without judgement. Tell them about your stories and see what they say. They might have ideas of how to get published, continue your story or just words of inspiration.

Try freewriting

I write everyday in a crappy, bright orange, Mead Five Star notebook that sits by my bed. Every night before bed, I just write. Freewriting opens the mind and basically brain dumps any ideas you have. If you feel funky and literally nothing is coming to you, then write that down. Keep your hand moving, and eventually your brain will get with the picture. Your muscles will remember to write, even when your brain is getting in the way.

Pro Tip: Take 5 minutes and write anything that comes into your mind. Put a timer on it if you have to, but just do it. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, step away and free write anything on your mind. Maybe something’s bothering you or the idea you have isn’t connecting the way you want. Freewriting can help

Write about something new

Let your curiosity carry you

I have a lot of big novel ideas. Romance stories, mysteries and short story pieces, but sometimes my brain just won’t work and I need some fresh blood.

Are you curious about something? Coffee? Gardening? Aliens?

Write about it.

Even if it’s just research, writing about it can open your mind to new story ideas. Your character can explore that idea in their storyline.

Pro Tip: List 25+ things you’re curious about. Now take one of those and list 10+ questions you have about it. Now write about it. Research if you have to, but don’t get distracted. You can write fiction about that subject, where you describe its origin or a story about how coffee was actually created by the government to control the masses.

Just go with it. Keep all the ideas you have, even if they seem crazy.

 

Learn a new subject

When I wanted to learn about dragons, I took time to research them. I explored literature, legends connected to them, and traits that are commonly found in stories. When I wanted to know how creativity worked, I studied articles, listened to podcasts and brought my own questions to the game.

Pro Tip: What interests you? When your mind gets a workout, it begs for more, just like your body. It might get tired, but that’s just a sign to keep going, while taking care of yourself. List a few things that you want to learn about, but never got a chance to, and take the next two weeks to learn about it.

This interest might spark your writing career or the next novel idea you have.

 

Read

Then write your thoughts about specific parts of the book. I mark the sentences or sections in a book that interest me with a tiny post it note so I can refer to it later and write my thoughts on it. This usually happens more in nonfiction, rather than fiction books, but it could work for both.

Any writer you ask will tell you that if you want to find success in writing then you need to read. It’s our fuel. Reading is a pleasurable act for me and a mode of research. Even though I enjoy the fiction and nonfiction books I read – with no expectations placed on them to rock my world – I still take notes. I recommend you do the same.

Pro Tip: Use mini post-it note tabs to mark a sentence or spot you find interesting in the book. Use post-it notes to write your ideas and save that page. Later, go back and explore those thoughts in your journal. I have a business journal for the books that spark ideas for my business or I’ll write the ideas down in my personal journal.

Give it a shot and see what happens.


 

Hopefully these options can pull you out of your writing funk. I know how much it sucks, which is why I’m a big fan of these tricks. I also have another blog post you can read with some of my favorite writing exercises if you’re feeling frustrated.

Try them out, even if your mind is telling you not to, then come back and tell me how it went.

What do you do to get out of a writing funk? Leave me a comment below.

13 Ways to Get Past Writer's Block - Find the Freedom Writing Tips

 

6 Easy Ways to Build Your Writing Portfolio

6 Easy Ways to Build Your Writing Portfolio

Build your writing portfolio. It’s something no one told me in the beginning, which is why I’m tell you now. Spend time on this task because it’ll be the difference between you getting a job or client, and not.

A portfolio is the single most important thing a writer can have in their career – and I didn’t have one.

It’s not difficult to build a writing portfolio.

When I first started writing seriously I scoured the internet, and printed off a million places I could submit to, but I rarely ever did. I didn’t realize that there were a lot of different ways I could publish my writing and build my portfolio.

Don’t waste time wondering. Start with the easiest things that are actionable.

Here are 6 ways you can strengthen your writing portfolio today.

 

Publish on LinkedIn

Did you know you could? A lot of folks don’t.

Publishing on LinkedIn is a great way for potential publications or clients to find your work, regardless if you want a blog or not. Repost your blogs with a link back to your site or publish articles that will attract potential clients. If someone you’re hoping to nab as a client is a tech company then publish articles about how tech companies can better sell their products.

I have a few of my blog posts on LinkedIn, which you also read here on my site.

Clients as well as readers can find you on LinkedIn, but make sure to post your best content there. That way your writing portfolio can be visible to any potential clients or jobs. A lot of people think that you should hoard your good writing for your website, but it’s easier to see it if it’s posted on other trusted sites – like guest posts – and you pull in readers by linking back to your site.

All you have to do is go to your LinkedIn profile, and click the button right below your name and picture that says to write an article.

 

Guest Post

Guest posting is a great way to connect with other writers, capture emails for your personal use, and get your work out there to other audiences.

Find people in your niche, or a similar field to pitch to.

When you pitch, don’t lie and say you’re a big fan of so and so blog post, but really you’ve never read any of their work. It’s insulting and definitely will not get you published. Read their sites, share their work and build a relationship before you pitch.

Also, the actual email pitch should include how your writing will benefit their readers – because this isn’t about you. It’s about how you can help their audience.

Building your writing portfolio like this opens your readership as well because someone else’s site already has an audience and you’re putting your work in front of them.

 

Start an Email Newsletter

It’s as easy as setting up a page and collecting emails.

You send out your work privately – like Colin Wright does – and get loyal readers in the process. Promote it on social and through your friends by simply sharing the link and talking about what they’ll read.

Giving out sneak peeks and helpful tips on social can help draw your readers to you. Another way to promote this would be to write for others, and make sure the link to sign up for your newsletter is included in the work they publish for you.

You can add this to your writing portfolio by simply stating that you run a successful newsletter with # number of subscribers, and include some image captures if you prefer.

 

Blog/Submit for Free

I cringe as I’m writing this, but sometimes blogging for free is okay.

**Cringe** **Double Cringe**

It sucks. I hate it, but sometimes it’s okay to write for free when you’re starting.

To. A. Point.

There’s a difference between beefing up your portfolio and bleeding yourself dry. Be weary.

I wrote for a travel blog and a travel magazine during college, as an “internship” without credit when I studied abroad. It was fun, added to my portfolio, and I got “published.” There was also an online publication called Creative Control Mag, which is focused around music, which I wrote for without pay.

There are several others, but the reason I didn’t mind not getting paid was because I was a novice. I wanted to strengthen my writing portfolio and see if I enjoyed writing about the subjects. It also helped cultivate great relationships, which is something you need to get anywhere in life.

Don’t let that go on forever, though.

Your writing deserves payment, so if you’ve been submitting to a publication for 6 months… it’s time to ask for more.

 

Start a Blog | Showcase Your Writing Portfolio, too

Hold up. Don’t click off yet.

Creating your own website doesn’t have to be this huge thing, filled with a million to-do lists and things you hate.

Blogging gets a bad rap because the thought is, “That’s one more thing I have to write…”

Not. True.

Technically yes, but it’s actually not ANOTHER thing to add to your list.

Think about it this way – It’s another way to talk about things you love.

That’s all. Doesn’t sound so scary. You can talk about things you love, right? This distinction drastically changed the way I thought about blogging.

Another option for a blog is for you to also publish your work on your site. Short stories, snippets, poetry – the site is yours so make it what you will.

Blogging is a lot like self-publishing. Take advantage of that freedom.

I use Bluehost and wordpress.

 

Submit to Publications/Contests

There are plenty of sites and contests that take novice writers – and when I say novice, I mean not yet published.

Do you have a site you read a lot, like Buzzfeed or anything in your niche? They almost always have a contact or write for us page. Pay attention to what they’re looking for, and read the directions on how to submit. You can write for fellow bloggers, magazines, and journals to get your name out there.

Writing contests are also a great way to put your work out there, and get feedback. Google “writing contests” and you’ll get a lot of options to choose from. I found some at Poets&Writers and a few other sites.

 


None of these options have to cost YOU money. You might even make some along the way, but don’t let your writing be controlled by that. I got lost because I put pressure on my writing to make me money. Don’t make the same mistake I did.

The last thing – take action. Seriously. You can hunt for a million different ways to publish, but never actually do it. It’s easy to get lost in research and never take the leap. That’s what I want you to do now…

Take Action:

I want you to do this TODAY. List 5 different places you can publish, and submit at least one thing. If it’s LinkedIn, publish your work. If you’re pitching a guest post, then read what they’re looking for and start building that relationship. Start your blog, publish on social – just do something that gets your work out there.

Writing Tips from The Vampire Diaries

Writing Tips from The Vampire Diaries

The Vampire Diaries is a fantastic show with excellent character development and pacing. Even if you hate vampires – thanks for that Twilight – and don’t want another vampire show, this show is still a great tool for your writing.

This might be something you’re aware of already, but there are some definite feelings when you’ve spent years investing yourself in a story and it ends. There’s some bad moments, some you didn’t care for, and others you cherished. What makes a story worth experiencing is what you learn from it.

With the beloved series coming to an end, I thought I’d go over some things it did and didn’t do well in its storytelling.

Let me start by saying that I’m a big fan of The Vampire Diaries. I think the first season was pretty corny, they grew into the story through season 4, then it all went downhill from there. I’ll get into why later and show you some awesome writing tips, but let me first say that I did like season 5 and 6, and after that the story went horribly, in my opinion.

Everyone has different opinions and we might clash on this. All I ask is that you have an open mind. Discuss ideas and make a healthy contribution to this idea. Now let’s get started.

As Doctor Who’s River Song would say…

Spoilers….

What The Vampire Diaries Story Did Well

We focus too much on the negative in our society, so let’s go over some of the good shit.

The Vampire Diaries has great content, excellent writing and a huge fan base. As writers we need to look at the storytelling technique, rather than just the fact that we L-O-V-E-D this show.

Let’s start with a few things that the show did well in its storytelling.

Epic Moments

The Vampire Diaries had a lot of epic moments – both big and small.

– Elena and Damon kissing at the motel in Colorado.
– Bonnie and Damon “dying” as they enter the prison world at the end of season 5.
– Klaus and Caroline – all moments they had because seriously, that chemistry.

There were epic mini scenes that took up space in our hearts such as:

– Stefan kissing Elena after she said she loved him in season 1.
– Klaus ripping out hearts and throwing rolled up newspapers through the Gilbert’s window.
– Caroline kicking Mason’s ass as a baby vamp.
– Liz accepting Caroline as a vampire twice.
– Liz pointing a gun at Caroline’s father, Bill, when he held Caroline captive.

There were a lot more, I know. What’s great about these moments is that they’re minor in the storyline, but they make us love the characters. They keep us coming back for more.


Storytelling Tip: Use epic moments to your advantage.

I know you have some. They’re the ones that stick out in your head, that you relive over and over again. They’re the fanfiction stories you want to write, the movie scenes you wish you saw that play over in your mind. Build it up. Don’t go throwing epic moments around like confetti. Spread them through your story and make sure they aren’t every five seconds.


Tension

You never quite knew what was going to happen as a viewer.  People died left and right, Damon was going around ripping throats out or snapping Alaric’s and Jeremy’s necks, and the whole brother vs. brother thing played out quite nicely.

Tension provides proper pacing in story.

There was always a moment where the reader didn’t quite know what was going to happen before the big action (otherwise known as the purpose of that scene) or when the episode cuts to another scene. There’s tension – even in a split second – where we don’t know what’s coming, but we keep moving forward in the story.

Every episode has multiple things going wrong with several characters involved – and the circumstances just keep getting worse.

– Season 3 episode 5, “The Reckoning” – Klaus traps the gang in the school on Senior Prank Night in an effort to figure out his hybrid issue. It starts with Klaus taking Elena, threatening lives, and Stefan waking up and turning against Klaus for Elena. Tensions rise when Rebekah gets involved, kidnapping Tyler. Then Matt and Bonnie get involved. Stefan has a countdown timer put on him for the rest of group to figure out how to make Tyler a hybrid or he kills Elena.

You can see how the story keeps getting worse for the characters. It had excellent pacing, always keeping you on your feet, and several factors making it worse.

Tension keeps your readers involved with the characters. The Vampire Diaries writers executed this pivotal part of storytelling in nearly every episode. It was part of their style.


Storytelling Tip: Use tension between your characters to move your story forward. How do you do that? Don’t let your characters or your story be predictable, for one. Damon was somewhat predictable because he lashed out, but you never knew what would make him snap, until you looked back on the previous behavior.

Good tension comes from characters with different goals that are important to them. Keep adding on the bad elements to raise the stakes, and always have more than one thing adding tension to the situation.

Extra Tip: Epic moments and tension should play hand in hand with one another.


Relationships

They make your story. How your characters interact is pivotal, so simply writing about how your two main characters are making dinner won’t cut it. The characters in The Vampire Diaries were loved and hated simultaneously, and they went through things that we as human beings can relate to.

Let’s look at a few –

Elena and Stefan: Love interest, torn apart multiple times, and sometimes on opposite sides of the struggle, especially post-Damon/Elena get together in season 4. This relationship worked because you saw Stefan struggle with his humanity, while Elena tried to keep him that way.

Elena and Damon: This relationship had more tension than most in the show. From being acquaintances, to opposite sides of the struggle, then friends, then lovers. There was always Elena’s relationship with Stefan pulling them apart, and even after they got together, their choices had an impact on their relationship, too.

Damon and Stefan: These brothers go from a love to hate relationships faster than you can take a breath. They add tension to the story, epic moments of brotherly love and betrayal. That bond that lasted, despite a promise of eternal misery, caused the viewers to cheer them on in their bromance moments.

Klaus and Caroline: Fans broke the internet over a phone call because writers knew how to tease well. Over season 3 and 4, the Klaroline storyline was sprinkled into the show, giving viewers a taste of them. When the Originals left at the end of season 4, the crossovers hit record high numbers because of these characters. This relationship had opposing forces in the storylines pulling them apart – Klaus being the bad guy and Caroline’s loyalty to her friends – but they were still attracted to one another. It helped the fans think about bad behavior of the characters as something we all partake in, and forgiveness is possible.

The Mikaelsons: We see a dysfunctional family dynamic that is chock full of constant betrayal and secrecy, but we also see a bond that is tested and lasted centuries. This relationship between siblings (and their parents) showed us the humanity in the monsters. It worked well because despite their “always and forever” bond, we constantly saw conflict pull them apart. At any point in The Vampire Diaries or The Originals you didn’t know which side each of them would be on.

Liz and Caroline: The lack of a mother-daughter bond in the first season morphed into a healthy relationship throughout the series. We saw a teenager and her mother unable to connect with her, then a baby vampire figuring out her place in her new world while her mother hunted her kind. We witnessed her mother understand vampirism for her daughter twice, then eventually accept her completely and protect her from the council that she was once a part of. When Liz died of cancer, we felt that loss for Caroline, and it stuck with us.

These are obviously not all the relationships in the series, but they’re a few notable ones. The relationships work because we see turmoil. They fight, cry, work side-by-side and fight again from episode to episode. We see loyalty, betrayal and love from all types of relationships. We see our characters challenge each other, force the other to come to term with something and grow.

Relationships in this story are well written because as the viewer we can put ourselves in their place.


Storytelling Tip: Write down the relationships your character has, then figure out how you want the relationships to begin and progress. What do they bring to the progression of the story overall, and the development of each other’s character. If you want to add tension between them, ask “what would cause conflict between these characters?”

Your characters can’t always be on the same side, even if they’re mother and daughter, or best friends. Sometimes they need pulling apart to help them find their way separately and grow.


Murphy’s Luck

What can go wrong will go wrong. It’s what keeps stories from burning out.

In nearly every episode of The Vampire Diaries the characters had a mini-problem. They thought they could kick ass, then ended up failing.

Some examples are:

When they thought Mikael was going to kill Klaus, but he ended up killing Mikael instead in season 3.

– When Damon realized that Katherine was pretending to be Elena in the season 1 finale/season 2 opening. – Then she caused a rift between the brothers immediately, and killed Caroline, declaring war and turning her into a vampire.
– The gang goes to the island in Nova Scotia for the cure and there’s a mess of bad occurrences – the natives on the island, the hunters, Silas appearing, Katherine killing Jeremy, the cure disappearing, plus conflict inside the group caused multiple bad things to happen in the story.
– Klaus kidnapping and killing Jenna, Elena dying, Elijah betraying the group, Klaus escaping, and all their work did nothing.

These moments make you love and hate characters. Apply this type of luck to your characters and your story will thrive because your characters can’t always live happily ever after. They can’t always win. It’s not plausible.


Storytelling Tip: Make a list of some of the worst possible things you could do to someone in your character’s situation. Now make it happen to them. I know how much it sucks to kick your character while they’re down, but it needs to happen. It makes them stronger, and helps them develop.


New take on an old story

Vampires, werewolves, and witches are everywhere, but the way The Vampire Diaries and The Originals developed their mythical creatures is different from any others I’ve seen. Unlike Buffy (which I love by the way), which makes the vampires become soulless killing machines automatically, vampires in The Vampire Diaries have an on/off switch for their emotions. They’re still people, but when the heightened emotions become too much, they can turn off their humanity.

Vampires are sort of like a different species – the prey that became the predator after their transition period post-death. They have veins crawling up their face when they’re hungry or angry, and compulsion abilities to control the mind. The best part is that you get to learn where the vampire species came from – and it’s a story about family. It’s not some demon from Hell or a pact with the devil.

Witches in the series practice magic in connection with spirits, or their ancestors, which gives them more power.

And it kind of sucks being a werewolf. It’s a curse that breaks every bone in your body when you turn, and they’re weak when they’re human.

Hybrids, magic siphoners, ancient immortals, sirens – their versions are much different from the shows that came before them.

Basically, putting a new spin on an old legend can work.


Storytelling Tip: Develop your story with a new take, even if you think it’s all been done before. The Vampire Diaries is about vampires, witches and werewolves, but it’s also about friendship, love and family. Write down all the crazy ideas you have regarding your main ideas.

Their hair is white. Their skin turns colors. They can fly. Write it all down, then look at it later when you try to work it into your story. It might be crazy, but so is sparkling vampires.


Character Deaths

You never knew who was going to die and Julie Plec was not afraid to kill someone off. That’s part of what made the series great in the beginning. No one was safe.

Unfortunately this tapered off into something else I’ll go more into below, which caused the story to lose points – Resurrections.

Character deaths meant something in the story though. Vicki’s death in season one spun into several storylines until the end of the series. Kol’s death in season four not only strained the Mikaelson’s story in The Vampire Diaries, but also started several storylines in The Originals. Bonnie’s first death completely changed her character’s development from a witch, to ghost, to anchor, to witch without magic.

Characters must have a purpose in your story, which means if they die, it has to serve a purpose, too.


Storytelling Tip: Write a death that’s meaningful, if you must at all. Think about how the character’s death will move your story forward. Will it affect the characters connected to them? If so, how? This is how you make deaths meaningful.

Liz Forbes, Caroline’s mother, dies in season six. Her death was a catalyst for Caroline’s character to do one thing you thought she never would – flip her humanity switch and start killing people. This pushed her character forward and made her become everything she didn’t want, only to claw her way back.

Can the death force your character to become what they hate most and try to make up for it later? Can it cause them to change for the better?


What The Vampire Diaries Story Didn’t Do Well

There’s a downside to every story. You can’t get past it because if you have hardcore fans, they’re going to see it. There are critics everywhere. That doesn’t mean your writing requires perfection. But there are a few things you can do to avoid these issues.

The Vampire Diaries wasn’t perfect, so to dissuade your idea that you must have perfection to publish, let’s go over the bad parts, too. Hopefully you can learn from them, like I did.

Fall Back Conflict: Elena-saving

Their fallback conflict throughout the show was to save Elena, because somehow that girl ALWAYS got into trouble. From human, to vampire, to human again, then put in a mystical coma and being carted around in a coffin. Somehow she always got in trouble. Even after Nina Dobrev left the show, they kept putting the coffin that held Elena Gilbert in danger, during her stint in a magical coma.

When she was human, it was easier. Being human in seasons 1-3 meant she was fragile, so the bad guys used her to their advantage from kidnapping to actually killing her. When she turned into a vampire she had as much strength and skill as everyone else around her, yet the story still revolved around saving her.

– Finding the cure to vampirism.
– Turning her humanity off and everyone trying to turn it back on.
– Getting taken by the Augustine Society, and The Travelers.
– Getting kidnapped by Kai, and Klaus.
– Dealing with Damon’s death, and turning off her memories.

The writers of The Vampire Diaries fell back on it more than they should’ve.


Storytelling Tip: Don’t depend on one character to cause all the problems or be the reason the problems all happen. Storytelling needs multiple factors making it worse, and no fallback because you ran out of ideas. It doesn’t help your story or your character.

Look at your Murphy’s Luck list and create situations out of that. Spread them around to your characters.


Falling back on one character to save everyone

Case in point: Bonnie Bennett

Daylight rings, locator spells, fight Klaus, try to turn Elena back to human before she fully transitions, bring Jeremy back, fight Silas… and the list continues.

It’s great if your character is powerful and kickass, but the character shouldn’t only exist for that purpose. Their existence in the story needs to have a larger meaning, and sometimes they need to push back on being the savior. Bonnie did this sometimes, but multiple characters repeatedly let it be okay that she sacrificed everything for her friends.


Storytelling Tip: If you have someone in your story that’s the fallback savior, then why not make them on the opposite side? In The Vampire Diaries Bonnie was part of the inner circle, but what if she’d been out for herself? Or wasn’t on any side and created some I.O.Us for all the favors she did?

What if her bloodline was obligated to help the Originals instead, but she was on Elena’s side? Talk about tension and character building.


Forcing characters together

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you need to. We tend to get this idea in our head that as writers we can do whatever we want because we control the story. That’s true. We do control it, but the sheer fact that you can do something doesn’t mean it’ll help your story, so be humble about it.  

Here are some relationships that either damaged the story or did nothing:

Liv and Tyler: Their short-lived relationship didn’t do much to add to the story, except give Tyler a purpose that disappeared in the show a long time ago.

Stefan and Caroline: Their relationship started out as friendship, which brought a fantastic platonic bond to the show. The writers demolished that unique relationship in favor of a chemistry-less romance that actually pulled their characters back in their growth.

Stefan and Valerie: This storyline was haphazardly thrown into the post-Elena departure. The relationship added tension between Caroline and Stefan, but it didn’t add much value to the story, and Valerie’s character disappeared at the end of the season.

Elena and Aaron & Elena and Liam: I’m combining these two because their purpose was to add tension to Damon and Elena’s relationship once Stefan couldn’t anymore. They were short-lived, lacked storyline progression, and honestly wouldn’t have made much difference to the story if they’d been taken out.

Alaric and Meredith: Although I liked Meredith and she played a part in season 3 and 4, the fact that her character disappeared quickly convinced me that she was a filler character/relationship. Her character’s main purpose was to administer blood to Elena and unknowingly  turn her into a vampire for the next few seasons. This gave her character a purpose, but she and Alaric together had no purpose for story progression.

Alaric and Caroline: I didn’t have much love for this relationship in a romantic way. In my opinion, it was kind of odd. As a storytelling catalyst, the only thing it really did was keep Stefan and Caroline apart. Their friendship was much better. Candice King’s pregnancy caused a shift in story, but honestly the writers didn’t have to use that in the story. There are ways around it. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Gemini twins and Caroline’s mothering instinct, but it was one of those random storylines.


Storytelling Tip: Does this character collaboration make sense? Does it move the story forward in a big way? Does it challenge the character’s beliefs in some way?

The best relationships challenge your characters, which is why Damon and Elena, Klaus and Caroline, and Bonnie and Enzo worked. It’s why the friendship between Bonnie and Damon and the one between Stefan and Caroline were so big in the eyes of the fans. Don’t put characters together just to piss off fans and don’t make the relationship last longer just for minor tensions in the story.


Resurrections

When you keep bringing characters back to life, death is meaningless.

The Vampire Diaries gave us a lot of deaths – and I mean a frickin lot – and as someone who loves to see people come back, I say this with the best intentions –

You cannot repeatedly bring people back and expect people to still think your story is good. Why? Because death has to have meaning, otherwise we’ll ask “what was the point of that?”

Let’s go over a few:

Alaric – His death at the end of season 3 had big meaning. It was painful and pushed Elena into her vampire phase, but when they brought him back, it was less epic. We felt the pain of the gang when he died. Don’t get me wrong, I love his character and am glad he was back, but by the time he came back the fans were like “oh, so you’re bringing back ANOTHER character. Great. Can’t anyone stay dead?”

Bonnie – over and over again. I’m not even going to go into that. When they fell back on Elena-saving, the writers also fell back on Bonnie-dying. Hell, they made Bonnie the reason Elena was stuck in a magical coma, and she had to die for Elena to come back. Her deaths became meaningless because all the fans knew that eventually she’d come back.

Damon – He had a lot of close calls, eventually dying in the season 5 finale… then he came back. Again. Season 8 turned him into a soul collector for the Devil (Cade) and he died over and over again.

Stefan – Stefan died in season 5, then came back. He also joined Damon as a soul collector for Cade, dying over and over, but coming back.

Death became meaningless in this show where death was everywhere.


Storytelling Tip: If you’re going to bring someone back, make it mean something, give them a good story and stop killing them, just for dramatic effect.


Not providing closure

In the first season of The Vampire Diaries Damon and Caroline got together. Some less than savory things happened to her – including vampire abuse – and the writers never really closed that chapter. One thing that irked me most about The Vampire Diaries is that they didn’t address this at all. 

Caroline becomes a vampire in the season 2 opening, remembering everything that Damon did to her, but they never mentioned it after that. I have to say this was a big miss for the writers – especially considering her best friend (Elena) quickly forgave Damon, Stefan ignored it, her mother became best friends with him, and no one lifted a finger to help. Even if it was only an acknowledgement or an apology, that would’ve helped. An apology wasn’t common with Damon’s character, but they did let it happen with another character, Alaric. They probably wanted to move on from that storyline, but a bit of closure can go a long way with readers, even if it’s just an apology. Providing a small bit of closure addressing that specific issue is something to keep in mind.


Storytelling Tip: Pay attention to your character storylines. If two character hate each other, then are cool a second later, then your story won’t survive unless you show that catalyst. Write the hard conversations. Your fans will thank you for it and your storyline will be better.


Changing the Roots

Once you start a story, you can’t change the roots of it.

The Vampire Diaries did it twice.

It makes the story seem unstable, like the writer didn’t know what to do once the writing foundation was gone.

Once – when the Mikaelsons left to the spin-off The Originals.

Twice – when Nina Dobrev left the show.

When you do this, your story starts to not make sense anymore and your audience will notice. The entire show was based around the idea of Elena Gilbert as the Doppelganger, a weird link to Katherine Pierce, and the two brothers that loved the same women. But that’s only the first layer of the story. As the show goes on, you see that the Katherine Pierce storyline – including her time in Mystic Falls and turning the Salvatore brothers – rooted directly into the Original’s story. In fact, The Vampire Diaries couldn’t exist without the Originals. (Which we saw after they left, in my opinion).

This lead to random storylines like The Heretics, Valerie and Stefan, Cade and Hell, the Armory.

It was all cohesive until The Originals left. I can even include the 5th season, which included Silas, since that storyline opened in season 4.

The show was spun into this story about brothers when Nina Dobrev left. They said that was the story from the beginning, but Elena’s storyline was the main one, and that’s how they spun it to us in the beginning. You can’t just change that. It’s ingrained in your fans. What if Harry Potter wasn’t in the Order of the Phoenix novel? And JK Rowling said that the story was actually about Voldemort or Ron and Hermione the entire time? It wouldn’t work.


Storytelling Tip: Don’t throw in a story just to have one.

Here’s the thing – you can open one loop in writing before closing the current one in a ton of different ways, but that doesn’t mean you should. The writers did an excellent job of opening a new storyline in the series before they closed the previous one –

– Bringing in Silas before the Originals exited.
– Silas storyline leading to the Travelers.
– The Travelers storyline ending with Bonnie and Damon going to the prison world and the Gemini coven coming in.
– The Gemini coven leading to the heretics.
– Etc.

The audience was used to the premise of the first 4 seasons. The other storylines weren’t stable because of it. The audience tends to roll their eyes and get a little fed up when things get crazy in the storyline.

When you’re writing ask yourself, “Does this hold true to my storyline?”

If not, don’t add it.


Breaking Rules

When you set up your own story, you have all the power with that world.

But every world has rules and when you start to unravel them, your story will fall apart and fans will notice.

Case #1: The Heretics (Season 6) The main story involving Klaus Mikaelson being the original hybrid was a huge part of foundation for The Vampire Diaries. Klaus was the only hybrid that could make hybrids, which made him unique. The Heretics storyline is unbelievable because the writers made the rules of nature say that a vampire couldn’t also be a witch. 

Vampire/witch hybrids are badass, don’t get me wrong, but you’re telling me that the oldest vampires in the world didn’t know about them? Why didn’t the Originals turn all the siphoners in the world, then compel them to be loyal to the Original family?

The fact that they exist makes Klaus Mikaelson being a hybrid not that important because guess what? Heretics are hybrids, too. The writers canceled out their other storyline, which was the basis for the show. The storyline with the Heretics was full of plot holes.

Case #2: Caroline getting pregnant. I know Hayley’s pregnancy was a loophole, but when the story went to Caroline’s magical pregnancy, the story got weird. As a viewer I rolled my eyes. I got annoyed as a writer.

Understandably, Candice King was pregnant, and I love the twins in the story, but this storyline made me think as a writer that they didn’t know what else to write. They love resurrections so much, but they couldn’t bring Jo back if they really wanted to keep the twins?


Storytelling Tip: You might be thinking, “well why not? It’s my story. I can do whatever I want.”

Some things are set. Readers get pissed when you change the rules. You can get by a few times, but it’s tiresome after awhile. Imagine reading a blog or website that constantly changes it stance on something. You’d get annoyed that they’re not consistent, right?

Set up your rules, then follow them. If you have to break them, do it epically. Not because you are on a power trip or you’re out of ideas. Sometimes it’s better to end a story on a high note than to drive it into the ground and break apart the world you created. Be cool, writer.

Writing Tips from The Vampire Diaries

The Vampire Diaries has amazing writers. They knew how to get to you as the viewer, to keep you engrossed, and make you root for the good and the bad characters. In fact, they showed us that there is no good or bad in the world, only opposing views.

Unfortunately, in my opinion as a writer, some of the personal feelings of the writers and circumstances of multiple actors caused the story to go downhill in some ways. There’s an annoyance that comes from readers wanting to know why something isn’t happening on the show, but as a writer, I suggest you take it with a grain of salt. Don’t do something in your storyline that makes it go downhill because you’re annoyed. Play to your strengths in the story and it’ll come out on top.

The Vampire Diaries might be coming to an end, but the storytelling magic continues in The Originals, which is taking its time slot. The series is over but you can learn a lot about writing from watching it. 


Do you have any writing lessons you learned from watching The Vampire Diaries?

Share them with me below!

If you liked my analysis and tips, and have another TV show or movie you’d like me to go over, I’ll dive in. Leave me a comment below!

Create Content You Love Without Fear of Selling Out

Create Content You Love Without Fear of Selling Out

So, you’re making no money in your favourite niche, but ‘selling out’ and writing copy for toilet paper companies really doesn’t appeal. All the job postings you find aren’t related to the niche you’ve invested years of your life to. Do you start over and gain experience in more popular niches, or keep hustling and trying to find paying markets for your tiny niche?

What if I told you there’s a middle way?

It’s as simple as expanding your ideal niche in two ways.

The first way is the content of your niche. For example, one of my niches is Tarot and Traditional Witchcraft. There isn’t a huge amount of interest in that niche, and even less paying opportunities.

So, I looked at what my target audience is for that type of content. My audience is mainly women, between the ages of 18 – 50, interested in self-help, spirituality and eco-friendly issues. I write about things my ideal audience are interested in that I still enjoy talking about, like crystals, alternative medicine, meditation and self-help, instead of catering purely to the limited niche of ‘Tarot and Trade Witch’.

Creating Content for Obvious Niches & Hidden Offsets

The possibility for audience expansion, guest posts, articles and who knows what else has expanded astronomically.

Sometimes the areas to expand your niche into are obvious. If you write about makeup, try writing about hair and skincare, or costumes and SFX makeup. If you write about books, interview the authors, publishing companies and graphic designers. Write about how books are made, or the changes made when a book gets turned into a film.

If you’re struggling to find ideas of what your target audience might like, look at a site which caters to your original niche. See what other things they write about.

Example: You like punk DIY fashion. Punk music, punk DIY decor, punk icons, punk hair and makeup, punk films and documentaries could be other things your audience likes and you can cover. Have a clothes focus? Create content for Steampunk, cyberpunk/cybergoth, Goth and other subculture clothing.

Sites that have a variety of contributors are good to look at because you can follow the different authors back to their blogs. Other topics they write about will give you a few new ideas.

Another way is to see what your ideal audience is reading. If someone is following your blog or social media accounts, click on them and see what other accounts they are following. You’ll find that writing about a subject is a lot easier than just picking something that is trending or popular. 

Incorporating Different Content Types

The other way to expand your payment opportunities is to branch out into different types of content. I was focusing purely on blog posts, guest blog posts and articles when I first started out. After some thought I found out there was different types of content that I would be able to write and still fit in with my niche.

I’ve written copy for spiritual business and partnered up with a publisher to review relevant books. I’m also writing a book and creating an online course. All of this content is still in my target niche, but there are many different types. 

Write scripts for YouTube videos or podcasts, newsletters, flyers, blog posts, reviews, sponsored posts, white papers, and even ghostwrite entire books. All of these are examples of “copy.”  

When you target businesses for copywriting work, don’t forget non-commerce or info-product based businesses. Doctors, markets, dentists and hypnotherapists all need copy!

There are other ways that you can make money from your writing, of course. You can be an affiliate seller for products that you enjoy using, and earn a commission every time someone buys an item you recommend. If you love writing recipes, you can sell your audience ingredients and cookware. Like using essential oils? You can sell all the equipment, too. You can sell your audience band merchandise and ripped tights if punk is your niche.

Put ads on your site or sponsored posts. Your audience may also pay to get involved in mini challenges, too.

That door never shuts once you open it to opportunities. Your niche is larger than you thought it was. As more businesses and content move online, it can only get bigger. 


Siobhan Johnson is a writer, Tarot reader and holistic coach. She writes and ponders self-improvement, Tarot, crystals and other mysteries of life, including why you can buy shoes for big-footed women easily, but not socks. Her website is www.siobhanjohnson.com, her Etsy is here, and you may as well follow her on Instagram or Twitter if you like cats and stuff.
Adventures for Your Soul Helps Your Writing Flourish | Book Review

Adventures for Your Soul Helps Your Writing Flourish | Book Review

Adventures for Your Soul was written by Shannon Kaiser. This is a review & self-reflection on the lessons taught.

Unfortunately, I know what it’s like to go through the motions in your life. We all do it, or have done it at some point.

We settle.

The places we live, the people we “love” and the paths we take. Instead of risking a little bit for your passion, the stability of a paycheck causes a lot of us to hide away without realizing it. I know I did. But the environment we put ourselves in drastically affects the way we grow.

I don’t want you to survive. I want you to thrive.

Adventures For Your Soul by Shannon Kaiser helps the reader dive deeper into things they covet, stripping away the comfortable layers we created over the years. I wanted to write about this book because it inspired me to ask these deep questions and work through the fears I have. It’s also a great example of how entrepreneurs can use their story authentically and influence their audience by being themselves.

What makes this story worth telling?

Kaiser uses her personal experience with health issues and negative self-talk to show how she transformed into the coach she is now. That’s the key – transformation. She shows us by painting pictures and working us through questions she asked herself already.

Her examples and personal anecdotes give us the ability to visualize our ideal lives, be kind to ourselves and participate in meditation to foster good thoughts.

What lesson is taught?

She takes us beneath the armor and teaches us how to discover oneself once the negativity is stripped away. Shannon takes the reader through their own adventures by sharing stories and allowing the reader to figure things out for themselves rather than telling them what to think.

 

The Dream. The Struggle. The Choice.

“Dreamers set the stage for what is possible, they paint a picture of an ideal life, and you will find that for some people in your life this creates fear and frustration as they battle with their own lost hopes and desires.”

The dream is what drives us.

The struggle makes us stronger or breaks us.

The choice is whether or not you keep fighting for the life you want or take the easy way out – one that will drain you down the road.

Paying attention to what you soul wants, what you unwittingly do to sabotage your efforts and how you can improve will make or break your adventures.

 

Things We’re Doing Wrong in Our Adventures

Trying too hard/overthinking

“He asked me, ‘Why is it so hard to be happy?’ I compassionately said, ‘Because you’re TRYING to be happy.’ His eyes lit up and he seemed to understand. He said, ‘Yes, I am trying because I want to be happy, but I see what you are saying because I am trying, Iam focusing on how I am not happy.’ BINGO!”

Our minds have the tendency to create scenarios and worries for situations that never exist. When we try to look at the good our minds go to the bad because we’re genetically programmed to think that way for survival, but sometimes you need to quiet that part of your mind. And yes, that’s possible.

When we look at the bad, it leads to depleted energy because we put all our effort into something, not realizing that pressure is suffocating us.

“‘When am I going to feel different? When am I going to see results?’ My answer is always the same: when you stop expecting it to happen.”

Caring what others think

“What other people tell you about your situation is a reflection of them and their own life experience, fears, and past choices. It is great to listen to others, but wise to ignore them. You, yourself, know in your heart what is best for you. Other people do not have your perspective or big picture in mind.”

I stress this a lot when I see young writers and creatives worry about what their parents say.

You need to be a doctor.

That doesn’t make money.

Writing is a hobby.

You need to focus on your studies, not that crap.

Heard all of it. Here’s the thing, these are your fears somewhere, but them telling you that is a horrible disservice to you. It’s your life, your time. They have no control over that, over you.

“Following your heart and making your dreams come true can make some people extremely uncomfortable.”

Letting fear rule

The fears that are holding us back – Page 164

 

What We Struggle With

Believing in something you can’t see

“The turning point for every person who has crossed over into living a life free of void is the moment they start believing in something they can’t see.”

This is one of the most difficult for me. I’m not religious or spiritual person, but my rational mind does recognize that there are things in the world we can’t see, yet we know they’re there. Parasites, air, DNA – but it’s different when you have a rational mind to believe in things that seem “woo woo.” I’m trying, though.

Because the rational mind doesn’t make art or write stories. Fiction wouldn’t exist if rationality was all we had. A rational mind doesn’t work well with emotions. Believing in something you can’t see may be one of the hardest things you do, but to live creatively, it’s necessary.

Paying attention when the Universe is talking to you

“When change comes knocking on our door, it is the universe telling us to reexamine our life and consider what direction really matters most. When we resist change, it is because we are still holding on to what the universe is asking us to release.”

Knowing is the first step to true change. It’s the universe telling you, “hey, we’ve got work to do. It’s time for change.” Your soul is ready for transformation.

There’s this pull that may start off as a small nudge or a thought in your mind. Sometimes that thought grows tired of waiting and takes over, while some push it away for years. That thought is the real you – the you that wants something more.

Choice and Knowing

“Although humans crave choice, we don’t like indecision. If we have too many choices, we can become paralyzed and fail to move forward.”

We struggle because we’re unsure. That’s why choices can be hard. When you know something’s right, go for it. If you don’t you’ll be paralyzed and it may take years – if ever – to move again.

Know and take action.

 

How to Fix It

Compassion

“I turned my judgement into compassion, and I started to eat less, and lost weight. My food addiction was in part cured because I released the stress around the habit.”

Be kind to yourself. Push yourself, yes, but never berate. What you do, the stress lessens and the ideas flow more freely.

Use imagination, not logic

“Imagination is where radical reset happens first.”

If you want to change or create something new, then you have to rely on your imagination. Think big, bold, and crazy because that’s where great ideas come from. When you break down those out of this world impossible ideas into tangible steps, things work better and progress is made, but use your imagination first.

TAKE ACTION

Jot down 50-60 ideas for what you’re working on, even if they seem insane. If you’re participating in a new project, writing a novel, trying to find a niche, moving to a new city – anything – do this exercise. Get your mind working on the “what ifs.”

Write a letter to your future self.

Write your own mission statement. Kaiser’s was, “I share my experiences with the masses to inspire them to fearlessly live their fullest potential by being their authentic self.”

Share what your biggest struggle is that I covered here. I want to hear your thoughts in the comment section.

10 Mindful Practices That Can Change Your Outlook on Life

10 Mindful Practices That Can Change Your Outlook on Life

Mindfulness isn’t a fad or practice that doesn’t have evidence to back it up. Actually it’s as old as Buddha, if not older.

We often live too much in the past or the future. Worrying about tomorrow or 5 years from now, and endlessly focusing on what we could’ve done about a situation in the past causes unwanted stress and unhappiness. Long lasting stress isn’t good for us. Our bodies are designed with a stress system to help solve problems that last seconds, not years. Constantly being subjected to stress can cause the brain to shut down and a learned helplessness occur.

Mindfulness has been scientifically proven to reduce stress, improve memory and sleep quality, impact our mood, keep our brains vigilant, improve the immune system, decrease blood pressure, reduce cellular aging, decrease heart rate and increase happiness, and a lot more. A number of mindful practices can be found all over the internet and by following experts in the field like Jon Kabat-Zinn, a scientist who has studied mindfulness for over 30 years.

Remember you are a human being, not a human doing and just because it’s simple doesn’t mean it’s easy.

10 Simple Mindfulness Practices

Meditate

It’s not just for monks.

Meditation has a bad rap. Its been fought against for hundreds of years, labeled as a “new age” mechanism or a way to sit in one position chanting “ohm”. The art of meditation is widely misunderstood, whether it’s religious motivations or lack of knowledge. Some believe that meditation means that you have to be Buddhist, but actually the opposite is true. Meditation is by no means new age and in fact has been around longer than Christianity. Meditation is one of the most challenging task I’ve ever participated in, but it’s usually met with hostility or disbelief.

Many people find it hard to meditation for a number of reasons. There isn’t enough time in the day, it’s uncomfortable to sit for that long, the mind won’t stop thinking, there are too many distractions, and even things like it’s not working and we can’t do it right. The truth is, there’s no getting it right.

Meditation is not about stopping the mind from thinking. It’s about labeling the thoughts and noises as distractions and letting them float away before returning to focusing on our breathing. In other words, meditation is not about forcing the mind to be absolutely still, but it’s letting go of resistance. No matter what arises – doubt, worry, uncertainty, feeling inadequacy, the endless dramas of life, fear and desire – every time we find our minds is drifting, refocusing on the single moment we’re living in at that point in time will help keep us balanced. All we need to do is pay attention and be present. Nothing else.

Meditation is also not an end goal, meaning it’s not about trying to get anywhere else, but allowing ourselves to be exactly where we are. Meditation is like any other skill, we have to practice in order to get better at it.

Be present

Yes, I do mean live in the moment.

When a person decides to focus on the current moment, the experience becomes more valuable. By taking part in activities like mindful walking or mindful eating, people come to realize that even the small things can make a big difference. Mindful walking is just like normal walking but with a different mindset. Instead of walking to get some place, it’s a walk to pay attention to the little things.

Mindful eating allows three things to happen when we eat our food. Eating becomes more pleasurable when we experience the tastes and textures rather than stuffing food into our mouths. Also, we’re more likely to eat the right amount at the right time and it saves energy when we give the body rest for digestion.

Be Curious

Don’t even mention the cat.

It seems like a foreign concept to some people, but being curious is a healthy way to live. By having a beginners mind we see all the potentials in oneself, others and all situations instead of seeing the limitations we impose. By having a beginner’s mind we see every aspect of life as if we were seeing it for the first time. Much like children, if we see the world through fresh eyes, we can be openly curious to aspects we never even thought of before. Instead of letting our judgements and fears cloud our ability to try new things, we can use this skill to seek new adventures and revel in the beauty overlooked by passive acceptance of the world we live in.

Curiosity can lead to some of the most amazing experiences of our lives. It can lead to traveling, which brings new experiences, cultures unlike ours, languages to sink our brain into, people who become a part of us and delicious food.

Curiosity in our everyday lives can create non-judging situations, getting rid of those pesky impressions we have of people. Everytime we see a person, even if we’ve known them for years, act as if we were first meeting them. Every experience is a new experience because we will never have it again.

Marcel Proust once said, “A true journey of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having fresh eyes.”

Be positive

When life hands us lemons…

This is definitely the most cliche of the all, but it truly works. Most people say, “I’m a realist or a pessimist because optimists don’t see how the world really is” but honestly, optimists can see how the world really is, but they aren’t hardened by their experiences.

Having a positive outlook on life changes situations in a far greater way. Dr. Barbara Fredrickson, a doctor of social psychology, has invented what she calls the positivity ratio. 40 percent of our happiness is dependent solely on the intention we set on our lives. This ratio states that 50 percent of happiness is genetics and 10 percent depends on circumstance (job, money, etc…). 40 percent depends on us.

Basically, changing our perspective changes our experience.

Another way to be positive is by showing compassion and kindness. Scientists found that people are happier when they perform kind acts for others. Doing good feels good in other words. Compassion is a form of inner strength and courage.

An ancient Chinese proverb states, “You cannot avoid that the birds of anxiety and worries fly over your head, but you can avoid that they nest in it.” We make way for the positive things when we let go of the negative.

Be patient

It’s a virtue, seriously.

Patience is by far one of the hardest things to teach a person. From the time we are young, patience finds no place in our lives. Babies and children are naturally curious beings who have no time for waiting. Growing up may change some people, but a majority of us find patience a waste of time.

We must first be patient with ourselves before being patient with others. We are constantly irritated with ourselves when we can’t accomplish a goal or when we focus too much on anything other than the present. Whenever we encounter difficulties, we should not fight or run from them. Find the courage to face them with patience. Once we learn to take things slower and let the aspects we aren’t too great at come to us in their own time, we find that accepting other’s need patience as well.

Accept

We can’t change it, don’t try.

Accepting that we’re different takes a lot of willpower. Part of being human means making mistakes. A willingness to accept those mistakes instead of holding onto them forever will save us a lot of wrinkles.

We’re flawed. Anyone who says otherwise is wrong. By accepting our faults we are showing strength and admitting that we can be wrong. We need to make peace with our imperfections. No one is perfect.

Forgive

It’s for the strong.

Forgiving is one of the hardest acts we can ever take part in – for others and ourselves. We’re showing that we can accept the deeds of someone who hurt us and some see that as weakness. Honestly, the ability to forgive is one of the greatest strengths we can have. Holding grudges only leads to bitterness and anger, and no one wants to be around a bitter person. By forgiving, we allow ourselves the opportunity of new experiences.

While forgiving isn’t easy, it is by far one of the best things for us. Not only will it help us in the present moment, but it will help future issues from arising. That’s where trust and commitment issues come from. If we’re hellbent on holding grudges, we may become so wrapped up in the past that we can’t enjoy the present. We may feel helpless. We could jeopardize future relationships not to mention creating health issues.

It’s not reconciling and it’s not forgetting.

It’s great to remember the past to avoid the same mistakes in the future. Forgiving someone for doing something horrible to us doesn’t mean that we want that person in our lives or that we understand why they did what they did. It means what it needs to mean to us for us to move on. If we hold on to problems, we make ourselves a victim and a learned helplessness will take place.

Let go

Holding on only stings more.

“Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die,” – Buddha

When I first heard this saying, it struck a chord with me. Holding on to harmful thoughts and negative emotions or pain is like putting poison into our bodies. We all seem to be okay with it. Accepting things and forgiving people gives us the opportunity to let go of the past and move onto something greater. People who hold on to past pains often relive the experience over and over again. If we let go of the things that have happened to us, then we have the option to start anew.

Don’t judge

They’re different, not the devil.

Judging is unfortunately a knee-jerk reaction most people have. Everyone is different. Our differences cause people to misjudge each other when we should take a person’s differences as a new learning experience. Judging people because they make different choices isn’t helpful because we were not in that person’s shoes. When we stop judging, interpreting, assuming, labeling and analyzing people, we realize what others truly have to offer. What many people don’t realize is that the things that we judge in others are often things we see in ourselves. Sometimes it’s also what we never want to happen to us.

Be happy

Your face will surely show it.

Contrary to what our society teaches us, another person’s gain is not our loss. Taking delight in other’s virtues, success and good fortune doesn’t mean that we lose anything. Instead of being jealous or envious, we have to learn to rejoice in other’s good circumstances.

People think happiness comes from accomplishments or money, but that’s not true. Happiness is a decision that most people do not realize they have the freedom to make. We decide when we’re happy, and if happiness isn’t the point to life, then what is? By doing some of these small mindful attitudes listed above, which all intertwine with each other, happiness can be the end result if we let it.

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