When you can’t write any more

CW: This article contains references to mental illness and bereavment/grief.

If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you may have noticed that I’m going through a pretty rough patch. For various reasons, including the loss of my childhood pet cat over the weekend, my mental health has taken a bit of a downturn. For some reason, however, I’m still expecting myself to maintain a daily word count of at least 1,667 words with NaNoWriMo.

Up until this point, writing my NaNo was one of the best times of the day. Now, I want to do so many things other than writing. I’ll sit to write in my NaNo file, and then I’ll feel this reaction of just no. Instead, I’ll go on Twitter or YouTube or Pinterest instead of writing, even if it has nothing to do with my WIP. We can analyze the psychological reasons for this to no end, but it’s frustrating when I know that I’ll feel so accomplished if I finish NaNoWriMo, but I still don’t want to do it.

It’s moments like this when I have to understand why I’m doing NaNoWriMo. I was hoping to use this as a jump-start towards my novel, and it would be nice if I had a finished first draft at the end of this, but I also can’t be this critical on myself during the first draft. Writing was always meant to be a way to express myself healthily, and it can’t be that way if I’m forcing it.

At this point, I’m just trying to take it one day at a time and be compassionate with myself, regardless of whether or not I make the word count for that day. It would be nice if I can win NaNoWriMo this year, but I’m not going to beat myself up over it if I don’t. I’m hoping it will get better as time goes on, and that writing can eventually help me through this time.

Thank you for listening, and I’ll see you next time!

 

Five musicians that inspire me

Well met, and welcome back to the blog! It’s definitely been a while since I last posted an article, and I wanted to get back into blogging with an article about something I’ve been working on for a while: music.

As some of you may know, I’m working towards digital composition and music, and I would love to release my tracks soon. I wanted to talk about some musicians that have inspired me over the years into writing the songs that I do.

  • Nightwish. I’ve been writing music for a long time, but it was Nightwish (especially the Dark Passion Play album) got me started writing music seriously. Symphonic metal in general really inspires me, and the addition of fantasy elements like references to Lord of the Rings makes me a huge fan. This leads to my next inspiring musician…
  • Kamelot. I’m a bit late to the Kamelot party, but I’m here, and I’m not going home any time soon. In particular, their song “Sacrimony (Angel of Afterlife)” and a lot of the songs from the album Haven are among my favorites, as well as some tracks from The Black Halo (I’m choreographing an aerial silks routine in my head to “Soul Society” as I’m writing this). A lot of my songs are inspired by the way Kamelot and Nightwish sound, as well as my next musician…
  • Myrkur. I’ve observed a lot of controversy surrounding Myrkur’s music (can she really call herself black metal or can’t she?) but in any case, the combination of the metal-sounding guitar and bass combined with her softer, almost New Age-type vocals is really inspiring to me. I describe her music to people as “Enya fronts a metal band”, which is a sound that I find myself emulating in some of the songs I’m writing now.
  • VindsveptI found Vindsvept on YouTube through another channel, and some of his songs just make me smile no matter what, like the song “Through The Woods We Ran”. His songs remind me a lot of other musicians like Jeremy Soule’s work on The Elder Scrolls and Howard Shore’s work on Lord of the Rings, and it’s those types of songs that I love.
  • Evanescence. This was my jam in high school, and I’ve noticed that a lot of my songs nowadays have a similar vocal impression to Amy Lee, especially how she sounds in the album The Open Door. At first, I wasn’t entirely sure that that’s what I want, but it just kind of happens, so maybe it’s meant to be there. *shrugs* I don’t know.

Honorable Mentions: Within Temptation, Epica, Nox Arcana, Laboratorium Pieśni, and Jeremy Soule

Which musicians and artists inspire you? Let me know in the comments below! I hope you enjoyed this article! Until next time!

Remember the why

Welcome and well met back to the blog! I understand it’s been a while, but my life has been really chaotic these past few months.

I wanted to write this blog post from a thought I wrote down in my journal just now. I’ve recently been taking steps to achieve my creative goals, and I’ve been dealing with self-doubt and insecurity that made me almost forget why I create in the first place.

For one thing, I had a dilemma with determining where “I don’t feel ready” is no longer helpful. For example, I don’t feel ready to release my music because the audio software I’m using has a pretty steep learning curve, and I feel my work can be better if I learn more about the tools at my disposal. I think that’s reasonable. But not feeling ready because I’m scared to take the plunge and possibly face judgment from others? Where is that line ultimately drawn? I don’t know if that answer’s an easy one.

On top of that, I have observed that we as artists hear so much chatter about what’s popular and what’s not, and we sometimes wonder whether we even stand a chance. I imagine for a lot of people, that can be really discouraging. I know for my creative works, they are not mainstream so while I get to focus on a much narrower target audience, I also worry that my niche is so specific that I’ll go unnoticed forever. I don’t think that’s a healthy way to look at this.

One thing that helps me is to remember the “why”—why I’m actually doing this. While it would be nice to make my creativity into a career, the main driving force for all my endeavors is for self-expression. I’m doing this because I never saw what I wanted to read or listen to and thought, “Well, then, I’ll make my own!” This is why I write my stories and poetry. This is why I work towards my podcast. This is why I compose. I have worlds inside me that come out in my music and writing, and I create to share them with everyone.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post! If you want to share what helps you get through self-doubt, or have any questions, please let me know in the comments below! Thank you for reading!

So many ideas!

Welcome back, everyone!

It’s been an interesting month, getting ready to go back home for the summer and trying to gather the tools I’d need for a portable music workspace, as well as finishing the first draft of what I hope will be my debut novel before sending it off to the mercy of my alpha readers. On top of all this going on, I had a new idea. (Now, keep in mind: I have more than 30 story ideas I still need to complete and publish, countless song and poem ideas, and now I have this. I’m laughing at myself as I type this article.)

I was researching podcasts for my journey home, and I came across the Girl in Space podcast. Not only is the podcast funny and intriguing, but also one of the merchandise listings has a reference to the “po-tay-toes” line from Lord of the Rings. I was sold, and I was also inspired to write a fictional podcast of my own.

Right now, the idea is not even in alpha stage; I still need to write the first few episodes and gather the tools to record and edit (I don’t even have a microphone right now). So once I am prepared to go on that adventure, I hope to get that up and running. Right now, I feel comfortable sharing that it’d be a steampunk/urban fantasy fictional podcast for young adults in the form of an audio diary. I’m at a really chaotic time in my life right now, so I can’t guarantee a timeline for the podcast, but it’s definitely something that I want to work on and keep working on.

So, what do you think?Would you want to listen to a podcast like this? Do you think I’m way in over my head? Please let me know in the comments! Thanks for reading, and I hope to be back on here soon!

 

Five books that inspired my writing

Right now, I’m trying to finish the first draft of a story that I’m hoping will be my first novel. As a result, I want to bring attention to the five books that inspired me as a writer.

I’m one of those people that can’t choose a favorite book; for me, choosing one favorite song/book/movie/TV show is like asking a parent to choose their favorite child. Also, I’m always reading other books so I might read a new book tomorrow that seriously inspires a story idea or influences my writing voice. As of right now, these are the five books that have inspired me the most as a writer:

  • Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. This is by far one of my favorite stories, and Tolkien takes worldbuilding to a whole new level with several created languages, an epic-novel-length backstory for just one of the cultures he wrote about (yes, I’m talking about The Silmarillion), and complex characters. Granted, it does read like a textbook, but Tolkien was a professor, so I realize his writing voice is not what I’m going for, but I do take inspiration from his worldbuilding.
  • The Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan. The Ranger’s Apprentice series as a whole was a huge inspiration for how I write humor in my stories and different character developments. I also enjoy reading the books—they kept me sane in my last year of college—and I feel they have good lessons for real life.
  • The Hellfire Chronicles: Blood in the Skies by G.D. Falksen. This was the first book that I read in the steampunk genre, and while this does not seem to be as popular as his series The Ouroboros Cycle, I’m still eagerly awaiting the sequel. This and Lord of the Rings showed me the importance of worldbuilding and got me inspired to write steampunk fiction in the future.
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I will admit, after listening to The History Chicks’ podcast episode about Zelda Fitzgerald, I have lost all respect for F. Scott Fitzgerald as a person, but I can’t deny that his writing style in The Great Gatsby was (and, to a lesser extent, still is) a big inspiration for my writing voice after reading it for my AP English Language class in high school.
  • Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. Laugh and/or judge if you must, but I have to give credit where it’s due, because this is what got me writing the type of stories that I write now. I don’t know where I’d be as a writer if I didn’t read this and think about how I would write a vampire story as a result.

What books inspired you as a writer? Let me know in the comments! Thanks for reading!

 

New Bandcamp Account!

It’s been a while since I’ve posted to the blog, but I wanted to share some news I’m really excited about!

I now have an artist account with Bandcamp!

I am still in the process of gathering supplies for a more portable studio, so I don’t have any tracks on there just yet, but I’m really excited for this step closer to being involved in music. I already have some ideas lined up for some tracks to produce, so I’m very much eager to get started!

One thing I’m conflicted about is in which direction I want to go with the type of music I want to create. My two main styles of music are songs that may remind one of Celtic Woman, Enya, or the YouTuber Vindsvept, and then songs that may remind one of Nightwish, Evanescence, or Epica. From a production standpoint, it would probably be easier to produce more ambient-type music, at least at first, but I’m open to branching out into other subgenres or sounds in the future.

I imagine I’ve changed a lot as I’ve grown older, but my passions for music and writing have been constant. I can only hope that I am one step closer to making my passions a huge part of my future. If you have any ideas or advice, please leave comments down below! Thanks for reading!

Why I prefer to write on paper

Yesterday, I decided to write in my notebook instead of going straight into my computer, and I was surprised at how easily the writing came to me. Call it what you will—being in the zone, being in one’s element—for this article, I’ll call it being in a state of “flow”, since words just flow from my mind to the page with hardly any effort. I had to admit, it was a welcome feeling to be back in this state of flow, since it doesn’t happen every time I write, and because I’ve been trying to work with writing on my computer, it’s been a while since I felt this way while writing.

As I’ve described in my poems “The Paper Witch” and “Homecoming“, when I get into this state of flow, it feels nothing short of magical. Minutes feel like seconds, and sometimes my words scrawl together because I want to get them onto the page as fast as I can think them. Actually, as I read that last sentence, “think” doesn’t seem to be the right word, as there doesn’t seem to be much of a cerebral process when I’m in this state of mind. Words just happen. In this state of mind, I could easily go for hours without remembering to eat or use the ladies’ or drink water (not the healthiest situation, I agree, but that goes to show you how strong this state of flow can be), and as I was writing yesterday, I came very close to falling asleep from exhaustion as I sat with my notebook in bed, the words still coming despite being too tired to keep going. I can’t remember the last time I’ve felt this way when I wrote my stories on my computer, not even when I did NaNoWriMo last year, though I’m sure it’s happened before.

Since I’m on the move a lot, a notebook and pen would be more to pack, and may make my bag a bit heavier. In my opinion, though, it’s much more productive if I bring that notebook instead of having staring contests with my laptop or tablet; the laptop always wins. If I want to try to harness the feeling of the state of flow so I can be inspired to write as often as possible, maybe this was a sign to go back to writing on paper.

Do you prefer to write with paper or on the computer?

How I Deal With Writer’s Block

I imagine many writers and artists of all types have dealt with at least one instance in which inspiration proved fickle. Writer’s block has been the bane of my existence for the 15+ years I’ve been writing as a hobby, and for my first blog post, I would like to share how I deal with writer’s block.

  1. See where your work takes you. When I was doing NaNoWriMo last year, I was supposed to be working on what will hopefully be my debut novel. However, when I sat down to write the novel, I knew exactly what I wanted to write, but it just wouldn’t come out the way I wanted it to come out, or I would draw a complete blank—either way, it was like pulling teeth. Instead, I went where inspiration took me, and I ended up writing pages and pages for a new story idea that had nothing to do with my novel. In my opinion, writing in general is still an accomplishment, because for me, inspiration is more likely to come back if I’m doing something creative instead of walking away from the computer or notebook in frustration.
  2. Seek inspiration from things around you. I bought The Sims 4 for NaNoWriMo inspiration, and I had some occurrences that inspired parts of other stories in my mind. There was more than one instance that inspired entire plotlines for short stories! I also watch video game walkthroughs on YouTube and read a lot if I’m dealing with a dry patch. Even if some of the scenes in your story don’t end up in the final draft (intentionally or otherwise), it’s better than having a staring contest with the computer. The computer always wins—I speak from experience.
  3. Organize your thoughts and think of “what ifs”. I’ve counted, and I have thirty story ideas rattling around in my head, and a lot of them take place in a universe that needs a lot of fleshing out. If I’m lacking inspiration, I try to work with world-building and how the characters would have to interact with that. Sometimes, that brings up scenarios that I can write about and fend off writer’s block. Also, there was one writing tip I saw on Pinterest that said, here I paraphrase, “Think about what can go wrong in this scene, and then write about it.” It could complicate the story a bit, but it gives you something to write, and could add to more inspiration.
  4. Walk away for a while. Sometimes looking at something with fresh eyes is the best thing to counter writer’s block, especially if you feel like you’ve fallen out of love with your story. Go and do something else, and maybe that will give you more ideas to write about. Keep a notepad on hand if you get ideas for your story, so you don’t forget them before you can get back to your computer.

Hopefully, this helps any fellow writers who are afflicted with writer’s block. Thank you for reading, and I hope to be back here soon!

An Introduction to My Blog

Welcome and well met! I’m Morrigan Harker, and I write poetry for the website American Twilight. I currently live and work in Hunan Province, China, and I also am hoping to get started with digital music composing and visual art in the near future.

I’m not sure what I’ll post on this blog, but I hope to include writing tips and help my readers, even if it’s by making them smile. I also hope to post about my journey with digital composition and illustration—in my mind, if it has to do with my creative expression, it’s fair game.

I hope you enjoy reading my blog, and welcome again!