Sylvia Writes

Rediscovering the joys of being a writer

close up of my keyboard

There are so many words here So many possibilities for Stories and poems The keyboard is silent It waits for my hands

It waits for the furtive mind To spin stories, forge tales And when I start to type Keys flex under my fingers Their sound, joyful laughter

When fear strikes, there’s usually are two things a writer does. Keep on writing, or hide from it.

Hiding from it can take different shapes and forms, from procrastinating to avoiding your writing area altogether for a length of time. Fear is such a great illusionist, and it can truly feel big and terrifying. You can dial down its hold on you by asking the question that titles this post: What is the worst that can happen?

To illustrate that, three examples.

When you submit a story, what is the worst that can happen?

The answer could be rejection, and I know from experience that it does feel really bad. Just keep telling yourself this:

  • The publisher has rejected your story, not you.
  • There are so many markets, you can find another one without much fuss (just look at Duotrope if you don’t believe me).
  • Take things step by step. Instead of anticipating the worst before you’ve even finished the story, first edit it. Then when your story is edited, let someone else read it. Then find a market for it, or choose to go the indie route and find out what you need for that. Taking it step by step keeps anxiety at bay.

When you choose to abandon a story, what is the worst that can happen?

The answer could be disappointment in yourself. How can you cure that disappointment? By immediately starting a new story, or by taking out the core idea of the trashed story and start anew. Or you can let it sleep for a couple months until you find out what isn’t working for a story.

When you don’t get inspired, what is the worst that can happen?

The dreaded blank page. The writer sitting behind her desk, staring at it, willing words to appear. You can cure that by playing. Just open up a dictionary on a random page and pick a word, or pick a random word from a novel you love. It’s your game.

Let a character you love (either one of yours or a character from a favourite book or tv show) play with that word and see what comes.

Also, remind yourself that you write for yourself first and foremost. You write what you want to read (at least, that’s what drives me).

What is the worst that can happen when it comes to your writing, or a part of it?

I haven't written a lot in the past five years, and at one point I pondered if I could call myself a writer.

But I was! A writer in pain and recovery is still a writer, no matter how she hides from her words.

Now, there's no more hiding because I create a space for my self. A space where my writing can shine.

This space is both physically (my laptop and my notebooks easy at hand, and a clean desk to write at) and mentally (journaling on writing, and logging my progress and obstacles, plus visualising a successful writing session before sitting down to write).

And one of the biggest things is to experiment. I want to keep five blogs? I keep five blogs. I want another notebook? Done, I have various ones ready on my shelves. I want to write with a different pen? No problem, plenty options in my desk drawer. I want to write in another app to try it out? No problem, just sign up for a free trial and go go go.

That has helped me SO much in the past months. It's how I ended up registering for and how I allowed myself to just write blog posts and not think of all the finicky stuff that went with it when I had a WordPress blog.

I just want to write my thoughts and hit post. And being able to do that has given me tremendous freedom.

Isn't there a better feeling to have when you start preparing for NaNoWriMo?

PS I had a rest day today and, for funsies, I tried out WordPress again. Holy Moly, I'm SO not ready for the kind of blogging again where I need to check off a page-long list before I hit post. Cancelled the trial after an hour of frustrated growls.

Hello you,

Yes you, that sacred part of me that always wants me to express myself in ways I can’t, that always wants me to write the poetry that burns, the story that aches.

I’m done betraying you by thinking I am less than you. By letting all my fears shout over you and by creating chaos, not the art that drives me to grow.

I’m done finding ways to make you pay for my perceived sins. I’m good, wild, creative enough to deserve you.

Shall we make magic the rest of our life?

Love, Me

As I’m gearing up to rebel my way through NaNoWriMo (am going to write a novel but also edit several smaller non-fiction projects), I want to start to get into the rhythm with blogging, and that means that in October I will post daily on weekdays and occasionally on the weekends.

In November I want to rewrite and post a series I’ve had on a previous blog, all focused on writing and tips to stay healthy etc.

It’s been years since I looked at this series, but it’s going to be fun.

If you’d like to see what I post, you can either follow me on Mastodon or subscribe below!

For the past couple of years, I’ve pasted the same list in front of my notebooks. I call it rules to live by.

I sometimes change a little bit of the wording, but the list has basically stayed the same.

Rules to live by

  1. Eat for your health

  2. Overwhelmed? Journal!

  3. When in doubt, drink water

  4. Any movement is good movement

  5. Embrace your spirituality

  6. Live your joy daily. Write!

  7. Don't blame yourself for your pain

  8. Close your eyes and breathe in calm

  9. Write (or doodle) your poetry

  10. Don't believe your fears

Why this list exists

I wrote the list when I was feeling well, wanting to remind myself of what I love to do and what I can do to feel better.

The list stuck with me ever since. It’s such a comfort to read when I feel low or overwhelmed with anxiety or am in pain.

It has gentle guidance to create and to take care of myself.

What would your list be?

I’ve been pondering this topic ever since it came up in #WritersCoffeeClub earlier this week.

My response on Mastodon was to get a notebook and use it for everything writing related.

I love that advice still, but I’ve just thought of a better one that is also more writing related.

My advice is this: write letters from characters introducing themselves to you or each other. This can also take the form of a diary entry or two.

This is especially useful for discovery writers (aka pantsers) like me. It is part of my process either before I start working on an idea or when new characters show up.

It helps me tremendously to connect to those characters and I reference those letters often while writing.

As a poet who writes fantasy fiction, this is an important step to connect with a character’s emotional state and driving force. This, more than any standard character profile, helps me write my character.

And through this, I’m able to paint my characters vividly with simple words. They have nestled themselves in my mind, so it’s easy.

Give the character letters a try. Would love to hear what you think!


My past confronted me the moment I entered the store.

My teen self stared down at me from the end of the centre aisle. Arrogant smile on her face, her left hand clasped on her leg, her right hand up to cast a spell. The now famous words “Abracadabra, natch!” hovered over the teen's head like a cloud of doom.

I clenched my hands to fists. How dared they publish yet another box set without my knowledge?

My bloody parents! They signed a contract entitling them to the proceeds of the show, and they spent it all before I was even an adult.

The world learned all about that before they died, though, which was nice. Sadly, now the only ones earning money from the box set sales and streaming were the creators of the show.

I really had to do something about that, too.

I walked down the aisle and studied the cookies display.

Two women walked past me, giggling like little girls. One of them said, “She was so cute! I wonder what she looks like now! Old and fat, no doubt, from the five secret kids she and Jesse had after the show!”

Jesse. I gagged. That asshole. People liked to link them from the first season of the show, which was sick, because I was 12 years old and Jesse was 17. He did play my high school crush in the show, but that didn’t mean he was my boyfriend.

Well, he quickly learned not to mess with me.

I bit my lip to stop myself from laughing about his fate, pulled my hood up tighter and listened on.

The other woman whispered, “Jan told me she saw her once! She’s gone really fat!”

The other grinned, and said, half choking in laughter, “I bet all she does is sit on her fat little ass and eat cookies, bemoaning her faded looks and the stupid little spell that she says ruined her life.”

They both giggled and walked on.

I whispered, “Stupid little spell, eh?”

A fiery burst of anger took control of my body. I snapped the fingers of my left hand and said, pointing with my right index finger at both their backs. I whispered, “Abracadabra, natch!”

Sparkling red devil horns whirled up from the skulls of both women.

I turned and walked away from the store, grinning all the way home.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

I was so happy when I first got my broom.

They said it would take me four weeks to get used to flying. Well, as I’m the winner of the overachiever of the year award, I aimed for three.

It all went well, I could kick start within two days, hovered steady in a week.

Two weeks and six days after I first learned to fly, I snuck out of the academy with my broom, and flew to the forest in under ten minutes.

Just when I started to feel elated, the broom started to make put-put noises.

I thought nothing of it, until I started to float down to earth. It did not take me long to realise what was going on; I forgot to fuel it with magic before take off.

Just as I prepared the spell, I noticed where the broom headed, a huge old house in the center of the forest. very well hidden by the trees.

It looked decrepit, like one of those houses in zombie games.

Even they wouldn’t want to live here.

And then I noticed bats emerging from the broken windows. I shrieked.

And then the broom fell.

It went right for the big chimney in the center. Right above it, the broom stopped put-putting, and it fell. I swear I could hear the damn thing laugh when I got stuck halfway down the chimney with my skirts up past my ears.

So there you have it. No one to rescue me, because no one knows where I am.

The teachers believe I am gathering herbs in the mountains with friends.

If only I had learned telepathic communication first.

When I'm not feeling well, I often have issues with writing. In those moments it feels like I lack confidence in my writing abilities. This means that I usually don't write anything substantial. At most, I blog a random thought, journal or write short form poetry.

Most often, poetry comes the easiest, and to my stupid mind that means that the thing that takes effort (ie writing fiction) is worth more.

Now I wrote that last line I realise it sounds so stupid! Any progress in writing, no matter how small, is worth everything!

I'm writing this post to remind myself that I don't need to do anything when I'm feeling low.

I should feel insanely grateful for being able to write my poetry and to journal or blog something.

Any writing is progress for me as a writer.

That is what is most important to me, and most ignored when it comes to writing when not feeling well.

Funny how that happens.

(previously posted on my weblog)

Enter your email to subscribe to updates.