Drawing Maps & Growing As A Writer • Inspiration Wall 02

This was a great week for me in terms of writing. Scenes have been flowing better, I’ve plugged a few plot holes and I’m more confident in the path I’ve put my characters on. It’s a win all round! I don’t like to risk jinxing myself but I think I’ll finish my first draft by the end of next month! I’m definitely feeling very positive.

novel writing

Growing as a writer 

I wrote an article last year on ‘author envy’ – that overwhelming feeling of jealousy when you hear that another writer (especially if they’re the same age or younger than you) has not only finished writing their book, but they’re about to get it published. This exact situation happened in my life in the past year; a girl I know worked hard and finished her book and then she got a publishing deal. I couldn’t bring myself to be happy for her, I just couldn’t. All I felt was my undeniable failure in the face of her success.

novel writing

I think this is just something every writer goes through, and it’s nothing to do with the great achievement of the other writer. It really isn’t. It has everything to do with insecurity and feeling like you’re not good enough, like you’re never going to achieve your dream. It’s odd isn’t it? You’d think seeing someone succeeding – someone who is in the same boat as you – would only serve to motivate you more? For me it didn’t.

I was kind of down for a while afterwards, but I pushed on with my writing anyway. I’m so glad I did as I’m now near the finish line and, as a nice bonus, I can now say that I am truly happy for the girl I know who is soon to be a published author. It really is wonderful because, like me, being an author is her dream. You should keep an eye out for her upcoming book called The Space Between which will be published by Little Island. She’s a fabulous, unique writer so I’m sure it will receive rave reviews!

Map making 

Inkarnate.com is a really fun tool to use if you’re planning out a world and you want to get all your visuals down on paper, so to speak. The software allows you to put a basic map together and you can even add things like castles and different types of trees and land (swampy, desert etc.) to personalise it even more. I had a bit of a tinker with it and came up with a fun visual for me to work off of while I’m writing.

I spent approximately 5 minutes on this so it would be infinitely better if I committed real time to it, but it does what I want it to – it allows me to have a good idea of the sizes of the countries in my book and their proximity to each other.

inkarnate world building

Everything is falling into place 

When I first started writing my novel I was worried about the ending. Mainly because I didn’t have one. This is where the ‘fly by the seat of my pants’ style of writing is inspiring. It can take you to a part of your story that you may never have thought of while carefully planning each scene.

When I was a kid I just wrote any old thing that popped into my head. Planning had absolutely no place in my “process”, so to speak. Now I plan a little and wing it a lot, but one isn’t better than the other. They both have their place, and lots of writers prefer different kind of methods.

I’ve never gotten this far in a story before (65+k), so I’m pretty sure that I’ve found my sweet spot. Here’s to many more thousands of words next week!

novel writing

Using Irish culture 

As I mentioned in my first Inspiration Wall, I’ve been looking into my culture more and taking a few elements that I find really beautiful and fascinating to weave them into my story. Some of these things are really small – just details, really – but it’s not just the big, obvious parts of a tale that make it so memorable to the reader. I want to make my story unique.

One of the things I plan on using are ghillies, which are little black Irish dancing shoes that you lace up under the sole. One of my characters dances in an inn and she’ll mention these in one of the scenes. Another thing I plan on including is a rag tree, which you can find in many areas of Ireland. Rag trees are regular trees (usually near a Holy Well) where people with problems or illnesses tie a piece of their clothing/a rag to the tree. It’s said that the problem or sickness will go as the rag rots.

rag tree novel

I loved that Leigh Bardugo included some elements of Russian culture in her Six of Crows duology, as I looked up a lot of the words she used out of interest. It would be fantastic if someone unfamiliar with Irish culture looked up aspects of it because they read my book!

Also, it’s not surprising but I’ve been listening to a lot of Enya this week (LOVE her, she is a national treasure!) and if you’re writing fantasy scenes featuring elves or witches or magic then this music will inspire you. She’s responsible for helping create the stunning LOTR score so, you know, trust me on this one.


What gave you inspiration this week? Let me know in the comments below!

Author Envy • Dealing With Jealousy

This post needs no explanation, really, as the title speaks for itself. I’m talking about author envy, and every aspiring writer has experienced it at some stage. Everyone who has harboured a secret, burning desire to write a book and publish it to rave reviews has come face to face with the green eyed monster. It creeps up on you by riding on the back of your insecurities and self-doubt and catches you so often at your most vulnerable.

I’ve had this experience plenty of times, and although I know it’s not in any way helpful and stems from my own confidence issues and pessimism, it does get the better of me sometimes, and has done so many times in the past. It generally snags me when I come across an article about someone my age who has just published their debut novel, particularly when it’s the same genre as I generally write. It tugs at me and makes my mind run amok with self-deprecating thoughts. It makes me think ‘This person has already done what I want to do. Why haven’t I done it yet? Am I ever going to do it? Maybe I’m not good enough.’

These kind of thoughts can be kryptonite to any writer, particularly one who has just received a rejection letter or particularly harsh criticism or even just a little bit of criticism. Writers have transparent skin when it comes to our work, but there’s a reason for that. This is something that we’ve so desperately desired to achieve, generally from a young age, something that we’ve worked on for years or thought about working on for years. It’s very personal. An attack on your writing very often feels like an attack on you.

I’ve abandoned countless stories and poems and novel plans because of niggling self-doubt that became all-consuming and it’s lead me to stop writing for a long time. Sometimes author envy can be a good thing and it can stimulate a dormant imagination in a ‘hitch up your pants and get on with it’ kind of way. Though I’ve experienced the negative side to that plenty of times; I’ll be writing away, fairly happy with my progress, when I hear about someone about to publish or, god forbid, they’re even younger than me and they’re on their second book. It just gets me down and makes me feel like, even though I am writing and I’m doing the best I can in the time I have, it’s just never going to happen for me.

I haven’t found any ‘cure’ as such to these kind of feelings. They’re just normal for writers. Honestly, if you claim you haven’t felt this at some point I’d find it incredibly hard to believe you. I think this is just a wave you have to ride until it crashes and you can wipe your mind’s slate clean and start again. And I always start again, eventually, though some waves are rougher than others.

Ultimately, I just bear in mind a quote that has stuck with me throughout the year: Dreams don’t work unless you do. So I put envy back in its box, knowing full well it’ll rear its ugly head at some point in the future, and I write.