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.

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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!

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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!

Feel-Good Friday • Reading in the Sun

Today was a rare sunny day in Ireland. I’ve lived here all my life and it rains like 360 days out of the year, so a bit of sunshine causes half the country to abandon any work and responsibilities to bask in the sun.

Like most people in the country, I have a vitamin D deficiency, so I could use all the sunshine I can get.

There are two old oak trees in my garden and I love the way the branches look against the sky. I used to climb them as a kid but I’d get in so much trouble because they’re my dad’s favourite trees and he didn’t want me to snap any of the branches. I remember getting to the very top and balancing on branches that should’ve broken under my weight, looking out on my town. I kind of felt like trying to climb it today but I didn’t.

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I took off my shoes and walked around in the grass for a while. I’ve been reading up on mindfulness and part of calming your mind and body is taking time to yourself to enjoy the simple things in life, like the feeling of blades of grass between your toes. It was kind of appropriate seeing as I read from It’s Not Yet Dark by Simon Fitzmaurice. It’s about a man with locked-in syndrome and his goal to live life as fully as possible. I’ve read it before but I like to duck back in as it makes me appreciate the little things.

What did you do today? Let me know in the comments!

Reading as Gaeilge • Harry Potter agus an Órchloch

I’ve wanted to learn how to speak in Irish for the past year and a half and, despite living near a Gaeltacht area in Ireland, it’s proving to be very difficult. I was taught the language from the age of 4 until 18 but in this country that doesn’t mean very much. It’s taught completely wrong; where it should be purely conversational, there’s a focus on literature, poetry and grammar, which does nothing to foster love among us native English speakers.

Initially, due to the structure of learning and ignorance, I really hated Irish and everything to do with it. I didn’t understand how integral it is to our cultural identity and how important it is to try and save it. I also didn’t realise how beautiful it sounded because I was too busy with my fingers in my ears, not listening.

Harry Potter agus an Órchloch One of my most important resolutions for this year is to try to learn Irish conversationally. I have friends who speak it fluently, and I couldn’t be more jealous of them, but I can’t just sit around feeling sorry for myself and my ancestors for having our language ripped from us, because I can still do something. I can still learn it for myself.

I saw an Irish language version of the first book in the Harry Potter series in a wonderful second hand book shop called Universal Books in my town. Unfortunately, I hesitated about buying it and it was snatched up quickly. It is, however, available online, which is the only place to buy it now as no other shops have any copies of it, as far as I’m aware.

I’m going to buy it and read it and, although I only have a basic understanding of some Irish, I hope it won’t be too much of a trial. I have no doubt, though, that I’ll come out the other end feeling like I’ve accomplished something.

I want to be able to speak it, and seeing as adult classes for the language are few and far between (and usually very expensive), I have to do it myself. A translation of one of my favourite books is certainly a good place to start.