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Restlessness: The Creative’s Burden


I know today is Friday Fiction day, and that will come up later today during its usual scheduled time (12:00 pm GMT+2) but before that I wanted to share something with you. A little personal frustration that maybe some of you have also experienced.

I’m restless. I dislike working on just one thing only, especially when I am able to do other things as well. If you don’t know, here are a few other things I enjoy doing:


Writing a novel or short story or flash fiction is just one aspect in a long list related to creative writing. I have written character backstories for a game I was hoping to develop. I’ve written comic book/graphic novel stories. I have written poetry, and lyrics to music, and game reviews and and and. I dislike being limited to just one form of writing when there’s so much to write about and write for.


I like to draw. I’m not the most amazing artist but I think it’s actually quite decent. The problem is, I don’t have enough time dedicated to improve my skills to an acceptable level (read: to my standard which I hope to get close to this artist – Yuumei Art).

I want to create my own comic book. Even if it’s just a one shot short story. I want to draw my own artwork and write my own story and complete my own comic book.

As for short stories or even novels, I’d like to have them augmented by my own artwork. In my mind I may have an Elfling who leaps over giant lily pads and next to the story on the next page, would be my own little sketch of said Elfling. The problem is, I know I can do it but not right now. I’d have to practice, practice, practice to get to the required level. Question is, when?

Boy with flower as an eye

Drawing done earlier this year.

Game Development

You know? Make a game? There’s a whole different aspect of both writing and art that game development requires, one of which is 3D modeling, texturing, animation, level design, system design and other varying aspects. Can you imagine the creative process (and immense amount of work) it would be to literally build a world. You can define exactly what you see in your mind in every detail so others can visually see what you see. Then, throw them in there and let them live out your story in the game.

I could create a game based on a novel. Then you get the benefit of living the novel vicariously through the game character. Wouldn’t that be awesome!?

I also have coding knowledge, I worked as a 3D object modeler using Maya 3D, I have a ton of tutorials on the entire process as well as how to create your own textures etc. I have the knowledge base to do it, but sadly, I just don’t have the time.


Video Series

I have three YouTube channels. All of them are empty. I’d love to have a “Writing Series” channel, or a “Gaming with Me” channel, or a “Diary of a Creative” channel where I could explore all the things I want to do and share them with you where you not only see the finished product, but all the work it entailed and experience the joy, frustrations, battles, victories etc with me.

*Sighs even more*

Web Development.

I host websites. This is something I’ve always wanted to do since high school. Why? Well, I’d love to, on the side, build websites for people just for fun. I’d even do it for free if I could really, all you would have to pay for is the hosting and domain name (which are so cheap anyway). You have a small business and no website or funds to dedicate to it? I’ll do it for you!

I built my own website ( but it’s not exactly what I want because I’m using a WordPress theme. Building a similar site from scratch just involves time I don’t have. Do I have coding knowledge? Yep! I just don’t have the time to set aside to do it.

The Creative’s Dilemma

So I write every day. It’s both my job and my passion. Not a day goes by where I don’t write. The problem is, sometimes while I’m writing, I’ll get a grand idea which I sketch out on my little notepad on my desk, then wish I could stop work and focus on that sketch. Sometimes it’s a website idea. Sometimes it’s a character in a game. Sometimes its a piece of flash fiction. I watch YouTubers and Instagrammers and support a couple of Patreons, and read blogs and get newsletters from all these people who are doing what I want to do. It can be incredibly inspirational, but most times it becomes disheartening. Then I become restless. I can’t wait to get home so I can do this, or that. I can’t wait for the weekend so I can do this or that. And sometimes it works and other times life gets in the way.

I would think, if I didn’t have to worry about money, and could spend the whole day being creative and upskilling in whatever way I see fit at that moment, that I could achieve all of the above. I’d like to do it now if I could, but that’s not how things work right?

Anyway, if you’ve read this far, I want to say thanks for listening. Do you have something you really want to do but can’t for whatever reason? I would love to listen and we can chat about it in the comments below.


NaNo Insights: Week 4


I stretched over the 30K line. Barely. Statistically I should be at 35K words by now but 72% of all statistics are made up anyway so whatever right? You may be asking the same question I ask myself every time I fall another 1666 words behind with each missed day; will I make it to 50,000 words.

The answer is as mysterious as the novel I’m writing. Would you believe me if I told you that at 30K, I finished the first of three arcs in the story? Yep, that was just the introductory section and if I wrote it right, when you get to the end of it you should be like:


Now the hard work begins.

I have to tie them all in during the middle ground, building the tension and drama and action that led to that (hopefully) shocking first arc. Answering all the major questions that would be running through the readers’ minds. The only problem is… I know what has to happen, I have no idea how. Most authors will know, sometimes your characters just jump into their roles and lead the story along a different path to what was initially planned. A lot of times I had to rope them in and at least let them run parallel to the plan which rounded up perfectly after all. The story is on track.

What’s really satisfying is the fact that I’m happy with my story so far regardless of word count. That quality vs quantity idea, of building a more a solid work to edit later, turning out better than just a rambling of words that I know I’ll probably delete later anyway. While others may be happy to say,

“It doesn’t matter, they added to the word count and that’s awesome!”

I’d rather say, at least in this point in time,

“They were worth adding to the word count and that’s great!”

I may be behind on but guess what:




Nano Insights: Week 3

Book with blank pages

I spent the weekend reading 11/22/63. This book has helped guide me through a lot of issues I’ve been facing through my NaNo novel. Considering that the actual plot only begins just past half way makes you wonder what the first half of the book was all about. It was world building. It was making you care about the character. It was spent making sure that when the plot begins, you know exactly what’s at stake. If there’s one thing King always gets perfect in all his books, it’s what I’ve been struggling with: Tangible characters in a living world.

Cardboard characters. White space worlds. Cliché’s. Lack of any action/drama. I’ve spent most of my time editing what I’ve written in my NaNo first draft. Filling in the spaces. Deleting scenes that don’t work. Giving more colour to my characters. I know NaNo is about writing 50 000 words but I’ve come to realise that I have no reason to be happy writing 50 000 words for the sake of writing them while hating everything about them. I’ll probably delete or edit most of them anyway so why waste that post-NaNo time rewriting rubbish?

What idiot wrote this oh I did.

What I’m really enjoying about 11/22/63 is how real the characters feel. None of them feel like they exist for the sake of existing. They are real and tangible. The main character Jake Epping/George Amberson interacts with them realistically. I don’t need to remember who was who again. They have their own personalities, looks, and feelings. You can feel that it’s back in the fifties by the brief yet detailed surroundings that the characters interact with. You get the sense of an entire town from both the characters within and the environment they live in.

This is what I’m trying to achieve.

Sure the 1st draft won’t be perfect the first time but I’d be happier if I was as close to perfect as I can get it. It will make the rewrite and editing less work. It will make me happier with the effort I’ve put in. It will make this NaNo not just successful, but worthwhile.

I want to make every word count.

make my writing awesome? Challenge accepted.

NaNo Insights: Week 2



It’s been horrible. I’ve written about 3000 words in total and they are all 1st drafts of the opening scene from different perspectives. In short, I’ve barely started. I’ve been feeling like an inadequate writer after my first draft. Everything I wrote just felt and read amateurish. I was sure I’d never write a decent novel for the rest of my life… okay maybe that’s a slight exaggeration but you know what I mean.

I spent the weekend procrastinating. I didn’t touch my novel following an entire Friday attempt. Every time I thought of my novel I’d either think about starting anew or starting a completely different story. This morning, Monday the 7th, I decided to read the opening chapters to some of my favourite books. Specifically Whisper in the Dark by Robert Gregory Browne and The Program by Gregg Hurwitz. I then read a couple of short stories from a random site on Google. The conclusion? My writing wasn’t as bad as I thought it was.

I’ve gone back to one of my more favourite drafts and decided to take a second bash at it. Perhaps bolster my word count up to 4000 words by the end of the day for this particular draft which is currently on 1701 words. That means I’ll be “discarding” the other drafts and not counting those towards NaNo. I know I know, every word counts, but I want every word that counts to count if you know what I mean.

Well, on wards to glory!


How’s your NaNo writing coming along?

NaNo Insights: Week 1

I am quite sure (like 120% sure) that you know November is all about NaNoWriMo. Since I’ll be participating again, I have decided to put Monday Book Recommendations on the shelf (ha see what I did there). Mondays will now be dedicated to insights, reflections, analysis and maybe an excerpt from my working novel.

Last Minute Prep

A day away from the month long event, I’ve spent much of my time reading. Unlike the usual reading for fun that I do, I have also been looking at how authors construct their characters, worlds, arcs, and storytelling. I wouldn’t recommend reading multiple books at once, but it is useful to see how different authors approach their novels. These are all old/rehashed insights but they are important to look over one last time.


They are the driving force behind your novel. Bilbo Baggins, Celia and Marco, Jake Epping, Twoflower, Katniss and the slew of characters we’ve met during our reading adventures defined the books we read. They are the reason we loved the journey through Middle Earth, fell in love with the mysterious Revellers, experienced the  arduous 60s trying to prevent an assassination, and so on. The story is told by your characters in their words and actions. So spend a lot of time getting to know your characters, inside out.

Example: 11/22/63 by Stephen King features a number of characters while Jake Epping traipses through the past. Each of them are unique. Each have a certain look, tone and personality. Minor characters but their realness gives more depth to the story, and greater emphasis on the main character.


Great characters need a reason to be. Why do they exist? What are they trying to achieve? Why are they trying to achieve that goal? Consider this for all your characters, even minor characters who do nothing more than greet your main character in the street. A backstory gives them a role and a personality.

The story must also make sense. Beginning half the book as the memoir of a pony loving little girl, and ending with a male focused sci-fi horror space opera with nothing connecting the two might do more than just confuse your reader.

The story must also progress in some way, correlate with your characters, and come to some sort of conclusion – hopefully one that makes sense and wraps up all loose ends. Even if you’re a Pantser, set objectives in the story for your characters. Trust me, it helps.

Example: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is the story of Jacob, an average 16 year old who hears fantastical tales from his grandfather about Peculiars. He soon discovers that they are real, and embarks on a life changing journey, three books long, that links right back to his grandfather.


Lastly, your characters need a home. Your story needs a setting. Nothing happens in the obscure blankness of space. Take time defining the world and submerge readers in your creations. Also, don’t assume your readers will have the same picture in your mind if you generalise descriptions. For peripherals you can get away with it, but if your character is about to jump into a vehicle, you’ll have to be more descriptive so readers aren’t chugging down the fairway in a Prius while you meant cruising the autobahn in a Porsche.

Engage the senses as you build your world. Let readers feel the baking heat against their skin, hear the rushing waters pelting the rocky surface, smell the cloying stench of decayed bodies, taste the rich sweetness of strawberry jam, and see the jagged mountain silhouettes rising in the distance. Let them experience the world as your character does.

Example: J.R.R Tolkien’s works. Nuff said.

Enjoy it!

Lastly, enjoy the writing. If all these guidelines make you want to throw your laptop(please don’t!)/notebook across the room in frustration, then you’ve missed the point. Don’t bind yourself unnecessarily to outlines and guides to the point where you lose interest in your story.

Writing 50 000 words is difficult enough, limiting it to a month is strenuous – but not impossible. Enjoy the challenge for what it is, a challenge to sit down and write. We know it is not easy, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done and be enjoyable at the same time. Give it your all and most importantly, remember:



NaNoWriMo: Let’s get to it.


This cover image is popping up everywhere. Social media is abuzz with excitement, fear, confidence, empathy, anxiety and all other emotions in between. First timers are wondering if they can rattle of 50 000 words in a month, something not many of them have ever considered let alone attempted, even on their own. Old timers are either swimming in a sea of doubt from failing the previous year(s) and either anticipate another “failure” or hope to push past their “failings” and win NaNo. Other’s who have been successful can’t wait to add another novel/draft to their collection of successes – perhaps even rebelling by completing previous works or rewriting them. Others are watching on with mild interest and zero participation. Regardless of which category you fall in, or whether you don’t fall into any of these, you cannot deny that NaNoWriMo is a palpable presence among the online writing community. For the next month, a large number of writers will be ink deep in their writing, and this worldwide phenomenon is amazing on almost every level.

NaNo and I

This is my fourth year doing NaNo. My first two novels were a bust and re-reading what I wrote fills me with both disgust and fatigue. Strong words I know, but perhaps one day I’ll have the nerve to go back and explore those failed ideas again. The concepts were great but execution was terrible. Last year’s novel, my Historical Fantasy based on an African tribe of mages was so much fun to write, well planned and was definitely the easiest 50K I’ve written. I finished on day 22 and spent the next 8 days faffing about, and also encouraging others to push towards their 50K. Sadly I haven’t touched that novel since the 23 November 2015, a day after I got to 50k. I guess the next step once I’ve learned to complete novels, is to get into editing. *sighs*

This year I feel less ready but still quite psyched. I’ve learnt that planning takes you further than pantsing can. With discovery writing/pantsing, you are more likely to hit a wall, losing morale as you realise you have no idea how to climb over it, or if you even want to climb over it. Planning sees that wall, creates ways to progress past it, and all the while you’re gaining morale and momentum because you know where you’re going; planning allows you to enjoy the journey and blissfully anticipate the end.

What I wish I could do for NaNo

There are a few things I wish I could do for NaNo. Maybe one day I’ll employ them but here’s my list:

Live Stream

There are a number of things one can live stream. A write-in so others can see what happens during one, and let them (viewers) feel included in the process. We have word sprints, competitions, fancy hat days and other fun activities while getting that word count running. I could live stream myself writing so you can watch my writing process, get a glimpse of the actual writing (and have an exclusive look at the first draft). I could live stream a planning session, or some other writing exercise you can join in. I already have a YouTube and account so it’s not impossible. Maybe one day.

Write 50k in one day

I once wrote 4000 words in about two hours. If I wrote from midnight to midnight, I could probably pull this off. Although I would have to be locked in a well ventilated room, with no disruptions whatsoever, while taking a coffee-redbull mixture intravenously, and having prepared ablution solutions well before hand. A bit extreme, probably kill me, but I’ll have a novel and that’s all that counts.

Host a Travelling Write-In Road Trip

I like people. I like being around people, especially like minded people. I like meeting new people too. I also happen to like travelling. Sometimes people live too far out to be part of a write-in, or don’t have the means. So myself and a select few will jump into a nice caravan and host write-ins along the week, with a big one on the weekend. Then we get to meet new writers, we get to travel, and we get to write. That would be amazing.

Write by the beach

I haven’t been to Cape Town or Durban as an adult. It would be amazing to drive up to one of these fine places, find a nice beach house, and spend all of November writing and taking customary long walks on the beach. Waking up to sunrises and drinking mojitos to sunsets. Ahhh.

With a couple of days left until NaNo, and most of us gearing up towards it, what are your plans between now and the 1 of November? Is there any thing you’ve always want to do during NaNo, I’d love to hear/read it.

Monday Book Recommendation: Structuring Your Novel


Is Structure the Hidden Foundation of All Successful Stories?

Why do some stories work and others don’t? The answer is structure. In this new guide from the author of the bestselling Outlining Your Novel, you will discover the universal underpinnings that guarantee powerful plot and character arcs. An understanding of proper story and scene structure will help you to not only perfectly time your story’s major events, but will also provide you with an unerring standard to use in evaluating your novel’s pacing and progression.

Structuring Your Novel will show you:

• How to determine the best methods for unleashing your unique and personal vision for your story.
• How to identify common structural weaknesses and flip them around into stunning strengths.
• How to eliminate saggy middles by discovering your “centerpiece.”
• Why you should NEVER include conflict on every page.
• How to discover the questions you don’t want readers asking about your plot—and then how to get them to ask the right questions.

Story structure has empowered countless bestselling and classic authors. Now it’s your turn!

NaNoWrimo begins next week and what better way to prepare than with this amazing book on structuring your novel. With great insight, advice and encouragement, K.M. Weiland helps you write your novel in this easy to read, astute guide.

Yes that's me reading this very book.

Yes that’s me reading this very book.

Back To Square One: NaNo Prep


Last week I wrote a blog post listing some of my fears for NaNoWriMo. Mainly the scope of my novel, the complexity of the story, the worlds where it all takes place, and the characters who would drive the story forward. If you read the post, you will know that I went back to mind-mapping in order to plan out my story. As I write this, I have seven pages of digital mind maps, and one drawn out mind-map detailing almost every aspect of the story. I would love to share images of them with you so you can see the interweaving lines and series of interconnected notes, but doing that would reveal my story; and I’m not one for spoilers.

Story Mapping

So the story involves multiple characters. It involves various dynamics. It is a jumbled mess of genres and ideas piled together to create a story I hope will blow your mind. Figuratively of course. It has been an ongoing desire to write such a story since I read Th3e by Ted Dekker and I’m still reeling from it a month later.

The real problem with the idea in my head was the simple fact that nothing was aligning in a way that made sense. I had no idea who the characters (their persona, looks etc) were. I had no idea how the novel would start. What the middle would be or how it would end. My head was comprised of epic scenes, intense dialogue, and a floating concept. Yet at the end of it all, it had gaping plot holes.



Out of the characters who will run the story, I have two of them figured out. Something I’m glad I did now rather than during the story as one of these characters suddenly has a bigger role than I had originally planned. Which means restructuring a bit of the novel to accommodate this change; and it’s not a bad change either.


A friend of mine asked me what the story was about. I then proceeded to divulge a convoluted mess that confused me as well. Which means I don’t know enough about my novel yet- also his mind wasn’t blown and that’s a big no-no. The contributing factor to this confusion was not the characters or the story per se, but rather the big WHY in the sky. So your characters do this and that, and your story is about this and that but why. Why are your characters doing that? Why is your story moving towards that goal? I had no answer.

Where to from here?

It’s obvious isn’t it. I need to give some serious motivation to the whole story, get my characters re-aligned to this ultimate goal and guide the story accordingly. Guess it’s back to the drawing board and there’s only 11 days left…


The Writing Process

A guide to Pantsing_Edited

The last two days have been quite interesting, between reading Thr3e and recovering from sickness, I was also suffering a sort of writer’s block. You’d think coming up with ten horror stories would be easy but it’s not. Limiting my short stories to 3000 words is also an issue, either there’s too many words and the story is short, or there’s not enough words and I have to cut the story short by removing “unnecessary” sections. It’s actually quite frustrating.

The Processor

So how do I come up with stories? Well first I have to find a topic that scares me and guess what? I have plenty. Spiders spilling out of a spider bite in my arm and crawling over my skin. *shivers* Waking up to find a faceless figure staring down at me then proceeding to erase my features while they slowly appear on his own face. Playfully checking under the bed for monsters and actually find one. The shadow on the wall starts to move.


I take these and, as an author, have to draw up the scenarios that would make them plausible. I process the idea and it’s facets to gain a clearer picture of the story I’m trying to tell. The spider bite is plausible on it’s own so what’s the story behind the bite, how did it happen, what was I doing while it festered etc etc. Maybe the horror is not in the fact that spiders are spilling down my arm but that I let them fester in the first place for some nefarious reason.

A faceless man? Why is he faceless? Why is he trying to steal my face? Did someone steal his face or is it actually revenge as I had stolen his face initially? The zombie apocalypse erased people’s faces? It’s a government experiment to infiltrate secure locations gone wrong and their rogue Experiment X is stealing faces? What is the story?!

The Pantser

Most of the time, a word or phrase or image catches my attention and I’m flying through the story without processing anything. It’s a convoluted mess and sometimes I actually step outside for a breath of fresh air and to think through the story. Instead I just stare into the sun, blink haphazardly and go back without any processing or insight to the story I’m writing because my brain is just buzz, buzz, buzzing. Characters, scenarios and all the horrors just sweeping in on a magic carpet like,


“I can show you your mind. Shining, shimmering, scarrrry!”


I don’t have the depth that Ted Dekker has when he writes his books. I mean, wow, after reading Thr3e for my Wednesday Book Review, I’m starting to wonder if I’m just a shallow writer missing the profundity that sets Ted Dekker apart from many other authors. I mean, sure, you can write a book with a great story and fantastic characters and people are all la di da about it, but I think my goal is make people pull their hair out, write journals and life-long blog entries deciphering the twisted, mindblowing story I have written. Not because they are confused, but because the story was nothing they were expecting – it was just that amazing. I can dream though.


Horror Writing and Alex Grecian

A guide to Pantsing_Edited

It’s been a fantastic journey so far working through my horror short stories. I must admit that it takes a special kind of mindset to write horror more than it takes to read it. Reading allows you to experience the horror from a receptive perspective. Writing puts you not only in the killers mind as the contributor, but also the victim’s body as the recipient and through each affected body part as the subject of the pain. As a visual person, my mind doesn’t just spew out the experiences of my writing without some reaction, but it affects my actual body parts – not literally of course but it sure feels that way.

The amazing thing about the writing, is how the writing has been intuitive rather than guided. It’s pantsing at its best. Discovery writing into oblivion. However, unlike a lot of my previous work when I’ve been flying by the seat of my pants, each of my stories seem like well thought out works. There’s barely any plot holes and everything just makes sense. I love it!

Looking forward to writing the remaining 8 short stories left. Who knows what the mind will come up with? Here is an interesting interview of Monday’s Book recommendation author – Alex Grecian:


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