I love music even though I can’t read it and can’t sing worth a damn. It’s an art I truly appreciate. Sometimes, I use it for writing inspiration. Other times I write in silence. Every artist has their own preference. While I often feel that music with words can be distracting while writing, I guess it depends on my mood because I will listen to both. Below, I’ve inserted some of the songs on my current writing playlist.
My partner always comments on how he thinks a lot of the music I listen to “is so sad.” I find creative inspiration and wonder in them. Some of the songs below start out slow and then pick up. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do! If you have any song suggestions, please leave a comment below.
Not a morning person? Join the club. I’ve always been a night owl even when I have a job that requires me at my desk by 7 am. It used to be worse. The way my workplace is structured, I often had to park about a mile away from my job site. This is very hard for others to comprehend when they don’t have to experience it. When it takes a 10-15 minute walk to get from your car to your job site from a good parking spot and you have to get there an hour earlier to get that good parking spot, you learn to wake up early no matter what.
After all, my paycheck depended on me being there at a certain time which meant I had to do whatever it took to get my hind parts out of bed. Even after all these years of waking up early, I’m still naturally inclined to stay up late despite how tired I may be. That, in turn, makes the mornings even harder. It’s a vicious cycle. So how did I learn? Here are several tips and tricks that get me, a night owl, started every morning.
Things To Do the Night Before to Wake Up Early
In order to successfully wake up early, it helps to have your ducks in a row the night before. Set yourself up for success with a little preparation and planning.
Set Out Your Clothing
Setting out your clothing the night before can help your morning run smoother. If you’re minimalists like us, it may not be necessary as your clothing is limited. However, even with little clothing, I’ve noticed how much nicer my morning routine goes if I’ve got one less thing to do or figure out.
Put your smartphone on airplane mode and away at least 30 minutes before bed. The blue back-light from the screen (as well as any TV, computer or tablet screen) can disrupt your sleep patterns. It confuses your body. If you want to read, opt for a kindle (they don’t have back-lights), or a physical book. Reading isn’t your thing? Try meditation or music to soothe the soul.
Note: There are dozens of different Amazon Kindles out there. Find the one that’s best for you. Don’t get me wrong, I love the smell and feel of a book. However, I had so many books and love to travel. My Kindle makes it easy for me to take my entire library wherever I go. And with the Kindle Ink technology, there is no glare from the sun on the screen.
If you’re looking to wake up early, a good night’s sleep is important. Personally, I like it quiet. However, other’s sleep better with a little soft noise in the background. One thing we will splurge and spend money on is our health and sleep is important to that. Investing in a white noise machine may be the right thing for you. Perhaps you prefer hearing the sound of rain falling on a tin roof? Frogs in a forest? The distant rumble of a thunder storm? Crickets chirping? The waves of the ocean? The gentle hum of an A/C unit? Cars driving down the city streets? There are all sorts of inexpensive noise machines out there for you!
A Note on Stimulants
Try to avoid caffeine after midday and even alcohol. Yes, even alcohol can cause a restless slumber. It may help you fall asleep but it can inhibit your REM stage (the one that’s really needed) and promote sleep apnea. These aren’t good! So before you reach for the nightcap, think twice. I know it can be tough because I am definitely guilty of it too.
Things To Do In the Morning to Wake Up Early
This clock is lifesaver, especially in the winter. When the sun doesn’t rise until NEVER, it’s especially difficult to rise from my slumber. I rely on the light of this artificial sunrise to rouse me. It starts as a dim red and slowly graduates into a bright white to simulate the sun rising. We have this exact model. It also has a dual alarm feature and a handful of sounds to wake up to once the “sun” has risen, like birds chirping. The sound is optional and the volume and time it takes from the sun to “rise” are open to customization.
Do yourself a favor and set it up on the other side of the room. This way you won’t be tempted to turn the sun off and go back to sleep! Bonus: As far as I know, there is no snooze button!
Don’t Hit Snooze
I always set an emergency alarm on my phone as a precaution in case the power goes out or any other life glitch happens. My phone used to be my only alarm and when I use it, I’m horrible about hitting the snooze on the alarm. I mean really bad – as in, I’ll hit it every five minutes for an hour. (I can’t help that our mattress is so comfy!!) I usually find that after hitting snooze for so long, I’m even more tired than I would have been if I just got up in the first place.
T Minus 5 Seconds
Count down your departure from bed like you’re a rocket ready for take-off. Don’t worry, you can do it in your head so your family doesn’t think you’re a 5-year-old. Starting from a number like 3 or 5, count down and get up!
Turn On the Light
If you don’t have a sunrise clock, turn on your bedside lamp or any lamp. The light will help wake you up. We keep a salt lamp in the living room burning all the time so that when we get up to use the restroom, we can navigate in the middle of the night without having to really “wake-up.” We also have these “dusk-til-dawn” night lights in the bathroom for the same reason. It’s great for staying in sleep-mode when you have to pee in the middle of the night. But when it comes time to wake up, turn on an actual light!
Drinking a glass of water first thing in the morning wakes up your digestive system and helps get that metabolism started. I won’t get into the health benefits here, but do this every day and you will notice changes in your hair, skin, general demeanor, etc. Drinking water not only re-hydrates you after 6-8 hours of sleep, but it provides a serious wake up call. Try it! It can’t hurt.
Have Something Exciting to Do
Remember Christmas mornings when you were a child? Even if you didn’t celebrate Christmas, what about birthday mornings? Or going to sleep the night before with the promise of seeing snow upon waking? The feeling of starting a new job? Waking up and realizing you’re getting married that day? Going on a big trip? We’ve all had some mornings in our lives where we were triggered to get out of bed. We were excited for the day ahead. Find a way to make every day a little exciting.
It can be as simple as making an awesome breakfast or promising yourself a hike or morning run. Soon you won’t be able to stay in bed in the mornings because you’ll know of the reward that awaits. Try it!
I hope these tips help you wake up early and accomplish your dreams. If you have any other tips, please leave a comment and share it with everyone!
With the end of Camp NaNoWriMo in sight, some have already reached their monthly goals while others are still reaching for the finish line. Don’t fret! It’s not too late to get some more words in, even if it’s not on your original project. After all, one of the main points of the NaNoWriMo challenges is to get you to write everyday. With that being said, here are 9 writing prompts to carry you through this last weekend and hopefully the finish line.
9 Writing Prompts
Local townsfolk see a witch fly over the moon on a broomstick…literally.
A loved one is reincarnated as their widow’s (or widower’s) house plant. Tell a story from their POV.
Start a new scene by finishing this dialogue: “If we get this money…”
A woman who has been missing for three weeks suddenly reappears with no memory of where she has been for that time.
“Trespassers will be prosecuted.” Local teens wander onto a “vacant” lot.
A woman receives a fortune telling her to be more daring, “Fortune favors the brave.” She takes the advice to heart and shows kindness to a man who breaks into her home. What happens next?
Tell a story from a house’s POV or even just the stories from one room.
“When her head hit the floor, it bounced slightly then came to a halt as her eyes stared blankly ahead. She wasn’t supposed to die. Not like that.”
A person stumbles across a tombstone with their name on it…and perhaps their birth year.
I hope that some of these (at least one) will benefit you and help get the creative cogs turning in your brain. Sometimes when I read writing prompts, I have new ideas. Did any of these stand out to you? If so, which ones? Did they spark any creative fires? Let me know in the comments below.
I am a firm believer that inspiration can be found just about anywhere – movies, books, comics, dreams, stories from co-workers, an overheard conversation at Panera, etc. But one place that gets overlooked just as badly as comics is the world of video games. In this series, I’d like to cover a handful of video games that have inspired writing ideas of my own throughout the years. The first and probably most well-known game series that comes to mind is The Legend of Zelda.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
I came into the world of Zelda late. My first time being exposed to the wonder and creativity of the franchise was in the 7th grade when I received The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time for Christmas. It was released on the Nintendo 64 system, a system which my parents purchased for me at the tender age of eleven and told me that in order to repay them for it, I had to empty the dishwasher for LIFE. It was worth every plate and piece of silverware I had to stash away in a cupboard.
Games such as Zelda, StarFox, Goldeneye, Perfect Dark, Forsaken 64, Hexen, Jet Force Gemini, War Gods, and DOOM infiltrated my childhood and carried me through my teenage years (at least until Harry Potter took my attention away). Nowadays its difficult to find the game system for less that $100 and even harder to find some of these classic games for less that $300 online.
The Best Video Game of All Time?
At the time, the Ocarina of Time was hailed as one of the best video games if not the best for the Nintendo systems. Decades later they would vastly out-do themselves with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (more on that later). Looking back at Ocarina of Time, the graphics were terrible compared to today’s standards but at the time, they were awesome!
So what made the game so great and inspiring?
One of the greatest appeals to video games is that they have the power to insert us into new worlds with new sets of rules. Instead of reading a book where we are at the mercy of the author, video games can follow a linear story line while still letting the player make the experience their own. Video games allow the audience to make decisions.
In some instances, those decisions affect game-play but this is not the case with Zelda. However, I discovered elements in the game that I had not yet seen in fiction (at least not as an 11-year-old.) Along with monsters and creatures that I’d never heard of and boss fights that were each unique and rewarding, there was a new set of rules.
A New set of Rules
Players could trap fairies in bottles for life restoration.
Dungeons and temples aren’t just buildings in the world. One is inside the belly of a volcano, another is inside the belly of a fish and a third inside of an ancient tree!
Monsters came out when the sun went down.
A house filled with cursed spider-people awarded treasures to you when you cured them of their spider-ness (seriously the stuff of nightmares).
Blue flame and the ability to trap it in a bottle to melt ice later.
Secret grottos contained treasure, riddles and puzzles to solve.
There is another world at the bottom of a well.
There is an artifact that allows you to see through false walls.
You can fly while holding onto a chicken…cough… I mean, cucco.
And those are only to name a few. Though many of these elements are commonplace by today’s video-gaming standards, they weren’t always. Keep in mind that this game was originally released in 1998.
A Magical Universe to Explore
There were all sorts of unspoken treasures and secrets hidden in the land of Hyrule. It was a colorful world and I was also very into the plotline. Having never played a Zelda game before, when I sat down to play Ocarina of Time, I was fully engrossed.
I knew nothing of Zelda at that time and became fascinated by this “Hero of Time,” the Triforce, and characters like the Great Deku Tree and Impa. Speaking of the Great Deku Tree, I would often walk in just to hear the hauntingly beautiful music. Needless to say, this was the first video game that prompted me to buy its soundtrack and still remains to be one of the few. I’m listening to it as I write this post.
Obsessed With the Cultures and Lore of Hyrule
After I defeated The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, I couldn’t get enough of the land of Hyrule. Not only did I replay the game, but I also got a Gameboy Color and games like Link’s Awakening and Oracle of the Seasons. However, Zelda in 2D didn’t provide the same inspiration as Zelda in 3D, at least not for me.
However, I was still inspired by the diverse races and cultures of Hyrule. From the ancient and wise Sheikah to the child-like Kokiri, my mind was racing with all sorts of creative ideas for a fantasy realm of my own. Hyrule’s lore was rich in spirituality and history. To this day I still find myself reading up on it to learn more.
It wasn’t long after the success of the new Zelda games for Nintendo to release The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask. Though I helped my nephew beat it years later, I was never a big fan of the game myself. I’m not a big fan of time limits and the game is one BIG time limit. Time limit quests are one of my least favorite things in video games (right next to in-game rain – cough, cough – Breath of the Wild brought that to a whole new level of hatred). As years passed, my love for Zelda was passed on to my nephew as he grew up playing older games like Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask, Twilight Princess and others.
Will There Ever Be Anything as Magical and Inspiring as the First Time I Played a Zelda Game?
At this point, that first Zelda game was unbeatable in my mind. Nothing could top it and I would never experience that sense of awe, wonder and inspiration again. My memory of the game never faded but my interest moved to others video games, seeking and sometimes finding inspiration in them. This was until another Zelda was released.
The Nintendo Switch and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
No longer the naïve, sheltered eleven-year-old that was playing her first real video game, I’m now a fully-fledged adult who has been exposed to so much fantasy and magic throughout the years (I’m still obsessed with the Harry Potter Series). By this time, I had played World of Warcraft on and off for years, dreamed of becoming a Grey Jedi, played Fable a dozen times, and volunteered myself into the Hunger Games (I’m from District 4). This game had its work cut out for it. And boy did it do an outstanding job!
First of all, let me say that purchasing the Nintendo Switch was no easy decision. After looking at the other games for the system at the time, nothing appealed to me except Zelda and we struggled with the idea of buying a whole new console for one game, especially as minimalists.
But our desire for this game was great. So we purchased a Switch, (along with a larger controller for his man hands) and we purchased the DLC along with the game. It was an investment to say the least. However, the enjoyment that we both got out of the game as well as the inspiration that it reignited in me (giving me at least one novel idea) was worth it.
Relishing in the Breath of the Wild
Not only did Breath of the Wild keep hold of certain classic Zelda elements such as the elemental arrows (adding bomb and ancient arrows), and special garb but the creators expounded upon it. Drawing from other popular RPGs, players were now able to brew elixirs and potions, cook unique recipes for attack and defense boosts, collect multiple armor sets and use items from the world to upgrade their stats – often granting stronger abilities once the complete set was obtained and upgraded. Things like swim speed, climbing speed, lightening resistance and stealth to name a few.
Climbing presented a whole new way to explore the game. Vast canyons and mountain regions were now 100% explorable and filled with unique monsters and puzzles to titillate our minds.
Drawing Writing Inspiration from Breath of the Wild
In a completely open world, anything is possible. Things in this game were unpredictable and largely based on the players decisions. Don’t believe me? Check out this fan made video on YouTube. Seriously, you don’t even have to play the game to find it hilarious.
This video alone provided so many ideas from the game that I could inject into writing. How?
What can go wrong, will go wrong.
Death finds a way.
Anything is possible. Literally.
When writing a story, authors often talk about the slow, sagging middle of the story. What if, like in the video above, an arrow is shot at them from an unseen enemy in the middle of nowhere? The treasure they were seeking kills them? They are able to have one enemy attack another? Video games with such an open world filled with possibilities can open up ideas in your writing.
Magic is Only Science Which Hasn’t Been Explained
The Sheikah Slate, a smartphone or tablet-like device in BoTW, presented players with the ability to use technology that was “ancient.” Players could not only use it to map the humongous map, but also to freeze time for specific objects, move metallic objects, create ice from water, track resources and create bombs. The so-called “ancient” technology provided a way for advanced science to enter a world of magic. Hey science fiction and fantasy authors, I’m looking at you!
Other Inspiration from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Having an enemy get electrocuted during battle because he was fighting with a metal weapon in the middle of a lightening storm.
Special abilities granted to you from dead friends.
Melee weapons augmented with elemental properties.
The possibility that your weapon can break mid-battle.
A blood moon which when rises, resurrects all the previously defeated monsters.
Players are also introduced to new groups of people like The Yiga Clan and the Rito. Now, the Rito race was featured in another Zelda game that I didn’t play so while this was the first I’d seen them, they weren’t entirely new. I fell in love with the Rito Champion, Revali, and adored the Gerudo Champion, Urbosa. Characters like this, along with the amount of cut-scenes, bring that much more depth and pleasure to an already vast and amazing world.
I hope if you’re struggling to find inspiration, you take a look into some video games. Keep in mind that they are another form of story-telling and can be a valuable resource for those who know where to look.
To read the introduction into this series On Poetry, please visit my first post here.
So Like a Rose
Her beauty is so like a rose,
Like a rose, fair and pink,
So precious and delicate to the touch.
She flows like the soft hues of the dawn,
As her grace dances through the spring breeze.
Her skin is as snow while her eyes are as crystal.
So like a rose in the gentle rain,
Her laughter sings sweetly as glassy,
Pink tears stream down her rosy cheeks.
Her words are so like a rose,
Like a rose, thorny and dark,
So harsh and bitter is the taste.
Her voice stabs like the thunder’s crack,
She screams like the wind’s howl, stinging like a spider’s bite.
Her hair is as night while her teeth are as the sun.
So like a rose in the pounding hail,
Her mournful cry reaches the depths of space,
As she withers away throughout time.
Is it the Diner?
Is it the diner with dim lighting
And bad food?
The one with horrible service,
The waitresses that smoke, sleep around
And wear those ugly mustard yellow
Uniforms over their used bodies?
Or is it the diner with bright lights,
Where you take your poodle-skirted
Girlfriend after school for a chocolate malt?
The one where the waiters have a friendly
Smile under those goofy white hats
And the jukebox plays that
Aretha Franklin hit every 2 hours?
I always group these two poems of mine together because they both display two distinctly different versions of the same thing. Have any of you tried your hand at poetry? Let me know about your experience in the comments below!