How the Hell Did You Finish Writing a Book?

It is one of the most common questions I am asked by people looking for writing advice. I understand the frustration. Before finishing Young, Sick, and Invisible, I had attempted and failed to write several different novels. I have a folder of dozens of half-written or half-outlined ideas that I still hope to revisit.

Writing YSI was a constant state of anxiety about whether it was something I could finish. Between ADHD making focus and starting difficult, and troll brain thoughts telling me I was unable to ever finish a project that wasn’t set by a teacher or a boss.

Even after I managed to finish YSI, I was convinced that it was a fluke. That telling my own story is easy in comparison to making up a story completely. I had started writing Hunting Blackbirds by this time, and still in the back of my mind were the thoughts telling me I couldn’t do it. When i wrote the final line of the first draft, it was overwhelming. I did it. I wrote a novel. Regardless of anything that happened next, I had completed a novel and no one would be able to take that away from me.

Finishing a book is hard, especially when you are dealing with mental illness and disability on top of it. Most of the advice out there for writers is mostly directed at either neurotypical people, or don’t include advice on breaking through mental barriers. I’ve been thinking for a while about all the things that helped me, with both books. What tools did I use to help with motivation, to help cope with troll brain thoughts, to help keep the writing going past the point of writer’s block and scene block? Here’s what I finally came up with, and I hope that other struggling writers out there find it useful.

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How the Hell Did You Finish Writing a Book?

How to Survive Dating a Writer

Last April I was working hard on finishing a book I’ve been working on since about the same time the year before. Although I was already motivated by the desire to finish my manuscript, a deadline presented itself in the form of a very enticing writing contest. In order to reach my goal, several important things got put on the backburner, including time spent with my partners.

People who end up in relationships with writers soon learn what it means to be a novel widow. Sometimes when a deadline is looming, or inspiration is driving you, we writers can get a little hyper-focused on what we are doing to the exclusion of everything else.

To that effect, I wanted to offer some advice on how to survive a relationship with a writer.

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How to Survive Dating a Writer

What’s the Story

In my last storytelling post, I wrote about how a lot of my paintings come with stories of their own. I usually just let it stay in my head, but I thought I might have some fun and actually tell you, dearest readers, some of the stories.


Medusa from behind with a butterfly tattoo

Medusa is considered a monster, she is assumed to be so ugly that just looking at her face turns you to stone. But before she was ugly, she was beautiful. She had long lustrous hair, which is why it was changed in order to punish her. Her gorgeous locks turned instead into hissing snakes. But in her metamorphosis she went from being a victim to being a being of fear. Sometimes it is in change that you find yourself. For Medusa, metamorphosis is the meaning of her life, her own change and the change she brings on others. She commemorates this with a tattoo of a flying butterfly on her shoulder.

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What’s the Story

Location, Location, Location

A friend of mine asked me recently whether I love writing and painting equally. It’s a questions I’ve thought a lot about. I spend a lot of time on both, and they take up a fair bit of my life. Ultimately however, I know the answer. I am a writer, more than that, I am a storyteller. Painting can and is a lot of fun. It is a great way to visually represent some of the things that happen in my head, and in the last few years I’ve let myself delve into it more fully than ever before.

But even my painting relates to my storytelling. Many of my paintings are of characters that I conceptualize and then decide to paint, or scenes from paintings I am trying to work out. Even when it doesn’t relate directly to something I write, my paintings are often about telling a story or at least suggesting a story on their own.

My writing is my most effective way of storytelling since it lets me take the time to fully work out the stories and put into it everything that I’ve wanted, but ultimately, it is the storytelling that drives me.

In another place, another time, I might have been a bard – telling stories, playing music. My social justice class is bard. I think that stories can teach, they can heal, they can move you, they can inflame you and entice you.

When I think about storytelling, however, this one anecdote comes to mind.

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Location, Location, Location

Baba Yaga’s Magical School for Abandoned Girls

In a dark, dark, forest stands a dark, dark, cottage. In this dark, dark, cottage is a dark, dark, hallway that leads to a dark, dark, room. In a dark, dark, corner of this dark, dark, room stands a dark, dark trunk.

As you might imagine, given where this trunk could be found, it was a magic trunk. On the surface, it looked ordinary. The kind of place where one might keep spare blankets. To all appearances it seemed like just an empty trunk, and yet, if one knew how to look and the right words to say, you would find a staircase.

And this dark, dark staircase, led to a world of magic: Czarnoksięstwo
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Baba Yaga’s Magical School for Abandoned Girls