The best music to write to – Monument Valley soundtrack #amwriting

If you are anything like me, there are times when you need a little music to block out whatever else is going on in the world and focus on writing. I have fallen a little in love with the Monument Valley soundtrack.

Monument Valley has been voted most beautiful game by numerous blogs and articles. I don’t play a lot of games on my pads and phones, but I occasionally install one when I am going on holiday to help to distract me during the long flights.

I made the mistake of installing Monument Valley the day before…I had finished all the levels, plus the add on levels before I even got near a plane!

Not only is it a visually stunning game, but it has hauntingly beautiful music. Worth checking out if you enjoy writing to ambient music.

The Hidden Temple is my favourite ūüôā


Monument Valley’s stunning soundtrack is getting an elaborate vinyl release

The importance of goals in the highly subjective world of writing #amwriting

I have recently been tucking into Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience . As you might expect from the title, the point of the book is to develop an understanding of what makes a happy, fulfilled life. I love reading psychology in all shapes and forms, and I have really enjoyed this book.

One of the things it discusses early on is the importance of enjoying the journey of life, and not allowing ourselves to forever focus on some dim and distant goal. Some people find this easier than others. I know plenty of people who live in the moment, and spend very little time worrying about tomorrow, the future, or illusive distant goals. I also know plenty of people who spend all their time focusing on a single future goal, such that they forget to enjoy where they are.

I guess the whole point of ‘flow’ is finding a happy balance. But that’s not what this article is about…

So, what is this article about?

Reading and writing are the ultimate ‘flow’ activity

Well, one of the things that jumped out at me is the fact that reading is considered, almost by default, a ‘flow’ activity. There are various criteria for¬†‘flow’, but a¬†focus on the key ones would include:

  • the activity¬†must have rules (for example the laws of grammar),
  • the¬†activity must take up all your concentration such that troubles or worries fade from consideration,
  • the activity often causes a distortion to¬†the passage of time, or causes you to forget time,
  • the activity is so pleasurable that you would do it even without any obvious reward such as money.

If anything, writing is even more of a ‘flow’ activity. The main reason I would suggest this is in relation to the skills involved. Another¬†aspect of ‘flow’ is that it should be challenging enough to stimulate us, but not so challenging that it frustrates us. Feeling frustration drags us out of ‘flow’.

While reading does require skills, such as an understanding of words and basic grammar, it does not require these skills to the same level that writing does. Arguably, writing is harder, if you want to do it well. Writing forces us to continually learn new skills, to evolve our understanding, and this drives a greater sense of achievement, another vital ingredient of ‘flow’

As a reader, you just buckle up and enjoy the ride. When you finish reading a book you certainly feel a sense of achievement, but writing a book is a whole other world.

The importance of goals in the highly subjective world of writing

So, let’s move¬†on to the title of the blog piece, and the crux of why we are here. Writing¬†is¬†subjective, and one of the dangers of subjective, is that it is really hard to measure your success.

Yet another aspect of ‘flow’ is the enjoyment of the journey, and¬†the focus on achievable goals along the road to what we untimely label as success. One of the biggest dangers for writers is that we are always looking for some distant goal just out of reach. Our aspirations start small; to finish a short story perhaps, or to¬†write a full length novel, and then to get it published, and yet¬†these successes are often dismissed by our biggest critic, ourselves.

We often fail to acknowledge our incremental achievements.

And goodness help us if we get a negative review! Or two!

To achieve flow, we need to divorce ourselves from outside measurements. We need to decide for ourselves what success looks like, what a good book reads like, and ultimately whether we have done well against our own personal measuring stick. Without this, we will lose faith and potentially abandon an activity that we love, simply because we failed to quantify upfront how we would measure our success.

Why I love a good psychology book and why I will always read them.

One of the things I love about reading a good psychology book, is that they never fail to make me reevaluate my life. I bought this particular book for work related reasons, and because it is important to me, that not just myself, but my team, enjoy their work. For example setting goals and properly scoping work to include¬†clear measures of success is essential to job satisfaction, along with ensuring a healthy balance between the¬†complexity of¬†the task¬†and¬†the individual’s¬†skills.

The fact that the insights I gained by reading this book also impact my personal life, and within that my writing life, is a bonus, and the beauty of a great psychology book.


If you have never thought about it before, then it is worth taking the time to consider how you will measure your success as a writer.

Celebrate the little wins, and the big wins. Take time-out, pause, and look back with pride on what you have already done.

Be open and honest with yourself about what writing success looks like, but most importantly, be realistic. Writing is subjective, and that’s why goals, specifically small achievable¬†goals that can¬†keep you motivated along the way, are so important.

Why writers should help writers #amwriting

I came across the video below during a leadership training course. At first there¬†might not seem to be an obvious connection between writing and leadership…but stick with me ūüôā

The  Ted Talk reminds us how important positive feedback is. All too often in life we focus on what is wrong. How often is it that bad service prompts you to complain? And how often after good service do you take the time to tell the company or individual? All too often it is the complaint that drives us to action, and all too often we fail to praise what is good.

Most of us will be quick to point out that we offer good feedback sometimes, but do we offer it often enough?

Feedback on Writing

Writing a review is such a simple and easy way to show the writer that you enjoyed their work. Sure you can drop a star rating on a book¬†in amazon, and that’s great, but there is nothing quite as magical as someone’s words‚ÄĒtheir words‚ÄĒof praise.

Feedback on blogging about writing

I have lost track of the number of fantastic blog posts I have read about writing, sure I read books, but an amazing array of little gems comes from the blogging community too. Often these ideas and insights don’t manifest change or impact immediately, or perhaps the magnitude of the change or impact is only realised later down the track. In the video the recipient took¬†four years before they¬†thanked¬†the person who changed the course of their life.

Nobody understands how hard writing is as well as another writer. Nobody understands the dedication, commitment, and sheer endurance you need to even finish a book, let alone publish it, as well as another writer. And no one understands how much time we give willingly to studying the craft as well as another writer.

If you are a writer, whatever your skill level, you have a voice and knowledge to share so please keep sharing it. You may never know how powerful your words are, or the impact they may have, but be reassured¬†they are. And if you enjoy a book or blog post then let’s let the author know.

I would like to close by thanking everyone who has taken the time to comment on my posts. I cherish each and every one of them.

I hope you enjoy the video ūüôā

When you are a writer you explore everything #amwriting

I think as a writer, you have a naturally curious mind about all things, but in particular people. And when I say people, it is all people, both the real ones, and the fictitious ones we meet within the pages of a book or on the screen.

Before I became a writer, I would read the book on only one level. Aware of the story and the flow, and the characters and their adventure.

When I first began writing, I found myself paying greater attention to word choice and style. Later, it was some of the technical aspects of sentence structure that captured my attention. I explored what I liked, or what I felt worked particularly well, and then I would ask myself why this was so. I would often pause reading so I could consider a phrase rather than simply enjoying it and skipping straight past as a reader might.

Then I¬†found yet another level in the character development, and the way that their journey plays out. I have always loved character arcs, and have always enjoyed the change a good arc brings in a holistic sense. Recently though, I have found myself studying the nuances of the character in a much greater detail. The common word choice certain characters have, or perhaps the way they rub their brow when they hear interesting news. A character who plays their cards close to their chest is most interesting when they ¬†finally¬†reveal a personal detail‚ÄĒ and a sharer is most interesting when they choose not the share.¬†These micro-levels of the arc are just as important. I review¬†each aspect of their personality under a microscope, testing it, seeing what I like about it, or even what I don’t. I try to unravel all the reasons behind their actions, and again, find myself testing the arc‚ÄĒdoes each piece fit in with the greater whole? What works? Why does it work? And how can I use this knowledge myself.

Not all writers are equal, and not all draw us into the story as deeply. There are times, when despite my best efforts to read a book on every level, I lose myself and I am simply a reader. These are the best books, and the ones I return to so I can study them again with a writers eye.

There are, of course, many more layers to a story and to writing, some that I am aware of, and others that I am not. Our ignorance reveals itself during those times when you just feel joy in reading a book, yet the formula or ingredient that makes it so enjoyable eludes you. These moments have a magical quality, and you know there is some hidden aspect of the craft at work. You wish desperately to know what it is.

This ever evolving lens through which we view writing is what makes it so interesting, and I hope that I never stop learning.

How I Saved Hundreds of Dollars On Editing

Everyone loves saving money, but sometimes I don’t want to go the extra effort to do so. This time, however, I did take the extra steps and I saved hundreds of dollars. I was thrilled!

Source: How I Saved Hundreds of Dollars On Editing

Some rules are made to be broken

Jean's Writing

And, it seems I break most of them most of the time.

There are two that plagues me like little devils. They pop up in my writing like annoying toddlers and no matter how many times I rearrange them into the proper order, if I turn my back they’ll break out of line. 

But, as my critique partner and anyone else who knows me will tell you, I write like I talk.  And proper is not it. Oops, broke two in one tiny paragraph. I need to get the broom and sweep up a conjunction and stranded preposition. 


Conjunctions plague me as do prepositions.

Too bad I talk as I write. I think it’s more important to connect with the reader than to write every sentence grammatically correct. Now this is just my personal opinion. As I’ve mentioned many times, I’m no expert. 

Reading something that sounds stilted and phony pulls me out…

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