I hoped to start 2021 with a post about big plans for the year. The stressors of 2020 felt like water under the bridge, and I was sure things would be better. Then January actually happened, and my 2020 stress levels were back in spades. The good news is I had all year to figure out how to make progress even when I’m stressed out of my gourd, so here are some of my favorite tips. I hope they help you, too!
#1 Writing Space Ambience – One thing I learned in 2020 is that having a cozy, welcoming writing space makes all the difference when I’m stressed out but I need to focus. Sometimes just turning on my fairy lights and glitter lamp, putting a candle on the warmer, and turning on some soft music is enough to bring me out from under the storm clouds long enough to get some work done. Wherever you do your writing, anything you can do to cozy it up can help!
#2 Relaxing Music – I’ve always been a fan of putting music on when I work, but I only recently discovered “Cafe Music” or “Coffee Jazz,” which is soft jazz, slow or lightly upbeat, like you’d expect to hear in a chic modern coffee shop. There are many YouTube channels offering a variety of options. Cafe Music BGM and Relax Cafe Music are two of my favorites.
#3 Ambience Rooms & Ambient Music – Sometimes I need to work on a scene and soft jazz isn’t going to cut it. Ambience rooms are YouTube videos with themed music and imagery. Need to write a scene set on a stormy coast, a wizard’s study, or the great hall of a drafty castle? No problem! These videos rose in popularity because of tabletop games like Dungeons & Dragons, but they’re great for writers, too. Check out Michael Ghelfi – RPG Ambiences & Music, The Vault of Ambience, and Ambient Worlds. If you’re looking for relaxing music with a touch of ambient sound, channels to try are Cozy Autumn and Fantasy & World Music by the Fiechters.
#4 Writing, Planning, & Bookish Vlogs – There are days when things are too bonkers for me to get words on the page, but I still want to be productive. On these days I’m super thankful for YouTube vloggers who put together helpful, relaxing, and fun to watch videos. Writing tips, publishing advice, planner layouts and “plan with me” videos, book reviews, countdowns and lists… and get this, CLEAN WITH ME! I find these all incredibly motivating. Even if I’m not in a working mood, I can fill my head with all sorts of helpful things or just get a motivation boost. A few current authorly favorites are Heart Breathings, Writing with Jenna Moreci, Hannah Lee Kidder, WriteHollyDavis, and Author Brittany Wang.
#5 My Kanban Board Planner – This is the one I’m the most excited to share! One of the best things I learned on the Heart Breathings vlog (and a big hat tip to my CP Elle for first mentioning it to me) was about “kanban boards,” which in simple terms is a board that helps you keep track of the tasks needed to complete your goals. Sarra at Heart Breathings uses a dry erase board in three sections (to do, in progress, and completed), but I don’t have room for a whole board, so made one in an old Happy Planner!
I used a hard cover and three sets of the laminated covers. The inside of each set equals one board. The end result is super compact but does the job perfectly. I don’t have the post-its/tasks filled out just yet, but even just looking at it makes me feel motivated to get work done.
And that’s my first blog for 2021! Hoping to have a new “5 Things” blog and possibly a book review for February, so keep an eye out and have a great month!