Category Archives: Currently reading

How to Fight Writer’s Funk When Depressed


Writers and Depression

Depression often seems to go hand in hand with being a writer. I’m sure there is some psychological reason for this–something to do with how our creative brains work. Not to mention constantly dealing with rejection in this hard to break into industry.

Regular followers of my blog may have noticed I have been rather quiet the past year. The reason for this is because I have been battling depression. I lost motivation for updating my blog, for interacting on Twitter and for submitting my work. I also lost my motivation to write. I felt blocked. Normally my brain is entertaining a million story ideas at any given time, but in the midst of my depression there was nothing.

A Therapist’s Suggestion

While attending therapy, my therapist would give me tasks she wanted me to complete as part of my battle against the depression. These tasks included exercising daily, eating well and self-affirmations. She also wanted me to write–it was supposed to be something to do for me, because she knew I was a writer. Every session she would ask, “Have you written anything since I last saw you?” I would always say no and mumble some excuse as to why not. She would write on a piece of blank white paper my tasks to complete before our next session and in capital letters she would always include


But the words wouldn’t come.

How to Get Out of that Writing Funk

I am finally getting back into the swing of writing again. Properly writing. My therapist’s push for me to write helped, but I also found some other ways to help me get back my motivation to write. If you’re going through your own writing funk, maybe these can help you, too.

1. Read. A lot. I realised not only had I not been writing, I hadn’t been doing much reading either, preferring to watch mind-numbing television or get sucked into the black hole of the internet. At the start of the year I challenged myself to read fifty books in a year, knowing that reading is a great way to inspire writing. It worked. The more I’ve read (especially in the same genre as my WIP) the more my creative juices have returned. I’ve been keeping track of my reading on Goodreads’ reading challenge. (See my progress here.)

2. Write. Anything. This came from my therapist. She told me it didn’t matter what I wrote, just write. It doesn’t have to be a story. Just grab a piece of paper or open up Word and write whatever comes to mind. In the beginning I wrote a lot of my negative thoughts and feelings. It reminded me of when I was an angsty teen and whenever I felt depressed I would write dark poetry. So write angsty poetry. Write a stream of thoughts. Write fanfiction. Just write!

3. Reread old writing. Go to wherever you keep old, forgotten stories. Open those old files or pull out those old notebooks. Reread your old work. Remind yourself how far you’ve come as a writer. You might even get inspired to start rewriting some of those old ideas using the writing skills you’ve gained since you last wrote it.

How do you get motivated to write again when you’re in a writing funk or suffering from depression? Please share in the comments.

Photo credit: Sander van der Wel from Netherlands via Wikimedia Commons

A Little Bit of Mystery

Memoirs_of_Sherlock_Holmes_1894_Burt_-_Illustration_3I love the mystery genre. I love trying to spot the clues and work out whodunnit. I have a nice little collection of Agatha Christie novels on my bookshelf. Miss Marple stories are some of my favourites, but I’m also a fan of Poirot. For years I’ve had Sherlock Holmes on my ‘to be read’ pile, but never seemed to get around to reading any until recently. I downloaded a free Sherlock Holmes ebook from Amazon for my Kindle a couple of weeks ago and have been enjoying trying to think like Holmes.

It was a coincidence that only last week I noticed The Australian Literature Review was having a short story competition this month with a mystery/detective theme. With my head full Holmes, it was perfect timing to have a go at penning my own murder mystery. As much as I love reading the genre, I don’t often attempt writing it, unsure of my ability to weave in subtle clues without giving too much away, while leaving readers with that ‘aha!’ feeling when they get to the end. I love the cleverness involved in mystery stories, and admire the crafty authors of the genre.

Obviously reading Holmes had a good influence on my writing, despite my worry, as the story I wrote for the competition has been short listed! Pop over to The Australian Literature Review and have a read for yourself. The story is titled ‘Mystery at Beaumont Manor‘ and is written in a similar style to the Holmes/Poirot type stories.

Do you like to read or write mystery? What are your top tips for a great mystery story?

My top tip: Plot backwards. Know how it’s going to end and plot in reverse so you can weave in the clues.

How ‘Sisters Red’ Can Make You A Better Writer

Since I began to really start focusing on my writing seriously (reading writing blogs, writing websites and books on the craft) it has affected the way I read. Now when I read, I sometimes find it hard to really immerse myself in a book because I can’t always switch my writer’s brain off. I pick up spelling and grammatical errors and I think to myself  ‘that’s so cliche’ or ‘this passage is full of purple prose’. So when I find a book that draws me in so deep and is so well written my writer’s voice is nowhere to be found, I know I’ve found a really fantastic book. It makes me wonder, what has this writer done differently to make me fall in love with these characters and keep turning pages well after I should be in bed because I can’t put it down? Because I want to be able to do that in my writing!

I don’t usually do book reviews on here, but this past week I finished two books I found so addictive to read I couldn’t put them down. One was The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot, which I have been meaning to read for ages (ever since the movie came out). I loved it because the voice in that book was so authentic and real. But, the book I want to explore today is Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce.

Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce

Great Hook

I’m a sucker for fairytale retellings, and in particular Red Riding Hood retellings, which is what drew me to this book in the first place. The concept immediately interested me: The Red Riding Hood characters (in this case two sisters) are attacked by a werewolf when young and grow up into werewolf hunters, aided by their best friend, a woodsman. Talk about a great twist on the old fairytale!


Many agents and those in the literary world warn against writing in first person present tense because it is so hard to pull off effectively and naturally. Jackson Pearce managed to not only pull off writing Sisters Red in first person present tense seamlessly, she also did it while switching POV between the two main characters of the story (the two sisters). One of the reasons present tense worked so well for this story: there was a lot of action and the present tense allowed me to feel as though I was a part of the action as it was happening.


The two sisters were so well developed, each with their own individual voice, that even without the header indicating which sister’s POV it was at the start of each chapter, I still would have known which sister was speaking. Both had strong, distinct voices. I was immediately pulled into their story.


Talk about nail-biting. Particularly towards the end I couldn’t stop turning the pages because I was so afraid of what was going to happen to the main characters. Pearce kept putting them in tougher and tougher situations and I knew one of them couldn’t possibly come out of it alive, I just didn’t know which one, if any!


The relationships between the sisters and between each individual sister and the woodsman are all unique and continually develop over the course of the novel, while always intertwining and affecting each other. Yet no relationship is more important than another. These relationships are always at the centre of the story and drive the plot.

Other Reasons it was Great Writing

There was never a lot of description of the main characters, except when describing Scarlett’s scars, yet even then the description was never detailed, it was wound into the story. She focused more on the characters’ emotions, reactions and motivations.

I also loved that Pearce researched the little details to make them more authentic.

Jackson Pearce’s follow up novel Sweetly (a fairytale retelling of Hansel and Gretel where a brother and sister become witch hunters) is out later this year. I’ll be looking out for it. This for me defines a great writer – I loved her book so much that I can’t wait for her next one to hit the shelves.

If you are a writer, particularly if you are interested in writing YA, paranormal, action or fairytale retellings, this book is worth picking up and reading.


I am currently reading Dan Brown’s latest novel, The Lost Symbol, and this book, along with a recent review I received for one of my online stories, made me really think about the significance of foreshadowing in great novels (particularly of the mystery genre). I’ve always admired writers who can seamlessly include foreshadowing in their stories so that the reader doesn’t even realise the significance until the end when all is revealed. I think I’ve read too many of Dan Brown’s earlier works though and I was looking out for ‘foreshadowings’ from the very first page. I have my predictions on how the novel will end, but I’m still hoping I will be surprised and that I have read the signs all wrong.

That’s the great thing about foreshadowing, when used well the reader won’t even realise the significance and the ending comes as a complete surprise, but then on second reading the reader can pick out those little foreshadowings and realise the answer was there the entire time. J.K. Rowling is another author who I think used this device well in her Harry Potter series of books. A simple example of this is in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets when Harry and the Weasleys have a run in with Lucius Malfoy at the beginning of the book, which turns out to be quite significant in regards to the ending. Not only does she use this device within each individual book, she also uses it extremely well in regards to the series overall. Who would have thought that the diary in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets would resurface four books later and contribute to an even more significant part of the plot of the series?

Another device, which tends to go hand-in-hand with foreshadowing, is the infamous red herring. Dan Brown and J.K. Rowling also tend to use these in their writing. A well placed red herring will throw a reader off the scent of the real villain/solution, thus creating that surprise ending that the reader never saw coming.

I saw a spoof of the Harry Potter series recently, which blatantly played on J.K. Rowling’s use of foreshadowing in the series. The Snape character was questioning students on what a Horcrux was (which Hermione answered, of course) and then Snape followed up this question by asking what foreshadowing meant (again answered accurately by Hermione). It was really this little scene that got me thinking about J.K. Rowling’s use of foreshadowing in Harry Potter, and also how other authors are able to use it effectively. As a result of my reflections on foreshadowing I decided to write a short piece incorporating this device to test my writing skills. I posted my piece on an online writing site and was pleased to note that my reviewers were all quite surprised at the end of the piece and had never suspected the subtly placed *item* at the beginning of the piece.

I will be adding a new section to my blog today for short stories and I will be including this piece for you to judge for yourselves (as well as the review that really got me thinking). Of course, having been forewarned will most likely have you searching for the foreshadowing in much the same way I have been dissecting The Lost Symbol for foreshadowings as I read it. Perhaps I will still surprise you.

Edit: You can now check out my page on ‘Short Stories’, including a sub-page with my short story An Ordinary Day.