Paleo

Writing Advice to my Younger Self

As you may know, I'm doing a hashtag challenge on Instagram called #junelitwrit. (Thank you to @sarahelizabethwriter, @quillmistress, @tyffany.h, @pagewitch, @becky_moynihan, @the_slp_reads, @bobaloolas_art, @blogherosix, @writerdaniellemichael for hosting the challenge! There's a #julylitwrit coming up too if you'd like to follow!) Yesterday's challenge was "Writing Advice I Would Give my Younger Self."I started typing and quickly realized it would make an excellent blog post, mostly because I have way too much to say than will fit in an Instagram photo caption!My Younger Self (2008 Version)So, younger Melissa, if this post somehow makes it back to 2008, please heed my advice. Get tons more sleep, eat better (Paleo will help), start doing yoga, and take care of your skin. And, when it comes to your writing, do all these things:

WRITE

It doesn’t matter how bad it is, how few words get on the page, or how much you know you’ll just end up deleting later, write as much as you can and as often as you can. It's the only way you'll get better at it.

BE BRAVE

Write what seems true to you, and not what everyone else says you should write about. (Even the, er . . . intimate scenes. What's true to you will surprise you. Dig deep and figure it out.) Then don’t be afraid to share it with the world. Be you, and do it relentlessly.

EDIT RUTHLESSLY

You’ll learn this later, but it will help if you get it now. Get rid of all unnecessary words. They will probably be your favorite. Cut them anyway. If you can convey what you want to say in two words instead of ten, cut those eight words. And don’t cry about it. You’ll be amazed at how much stronger your writing is. Trust me. Also, get rid of like 93% of your adverbs.

GIVE YOURSELF GRACE

Your writing won’t be perfect, but it’s not meant to be. It’s meant to be exactly what it turns out to be. And if a few typos make it into print, or you obsess over how you could’ve written that one part a little bit better, just know you’ll make it better with the next book and let the first one be. Imperfection shows vulnerability, an essential quality of being a true creative.

BE AUTHENTIC

I mean, you’re an INFJ, so it mostly comes naturally for you, but share more than you think is comfortable. No one ever made history from their comfort zone.

SHOW NOT TELL

You’ll understand this fairly early on, but it will save you tons of editing if you get it sooner. (And read "Self-Editing for Fiction Writers" by Renni Browne and Dave King right now.) But seriously. Think of ways to visualize facial expressions, how it physically feels when someone breaks your heart, what another person may do and look like when they’re surprised. Then describe them. Readers are smart; don’t talk down to them. Let their imagination fill in the rest — they’re up to the challenge, I promise. And they’ll probably love you for it.

KEEP YOUR FOOT ON THE GAS

If you’re bored reading a scene, your reader will close the book and probably never pick it up again. So if it doesn’t serve the story in some way, get rid of it. Make this your mantra: WHEN IT DOUBT, CUT IT OUT. Even if there’s one little tidbit that’s vital to the story but the rest of the scene is worthless — EVEN IF IT’S YOUR FAVORITE SCENE — get rid of it, and put the tidbit elsewhere. Or maybe you really don't need that tidbit at all.

Always ask yourself, with EVERY. SINGLE. WORD.: "Do I REALLY need this?" If not, and you're being brutally honest, get rid of it. Then you'll be able to keep the story moving and keep the reader turning the page. It's what you really want, I know. Remember, I was you like ten years ago. I've got you.

CONNECT WITH AS MANY OTHER WRITERS AS POSSIBLE

This one will be hard for you. I remember well. You can whine and say you don't need anyone, but you're really just throwing a temper tantrum. Because TOUGH LOVE. Get out there, make friends, join a community of like-minded writers, authors, and creatives who will support you, lift you up, and encourage you and your passions like no one else can. I don't even remember what was available to you in 2008 — was it MySpace? And also Facebook, of course — but connect early and often. Your future self (ME) will thank you. So will your follower stats.

CHANGE YOUR TITLE

Okay, this one you'll figure out, and it will be okay. But there's already a book called "The Codex" so change it now. Spoiler: It should be called "The Secret of the Codex", which you know is way better.

STOP COMPARING YOURSELF TO OTHER AUTHORS

Their methods are not your methods, and that's okay. You can write in frenetic spurts then go days without writing, and you will survive. Just don't go years without writing, like I did. You'll have some life stuff to work through, and it will be tough, but it will get better, and you'll be such a better person for it, but don't stop writing. I think writing would've helped me through it more quickly. But maybe not.Point is, if you write any and every spare moment and never have time to read, then read every spare moment because the book you're reading is really good, that's okay. Which leads me to my final point.

ENJOY THE JOURNEY

Oh, girl. This one's going to be SO HARD for you. But trust me — the journey is the most important part of the process. I know you don't get it. I know you probably can't understand. But believe me, you need the journey you're on to get you to the place where you become me, the person who is finally releasing that book that God gave us over the last ten years. Because the person you become on the journey is much more important than arriving at the destination. I'm older, I have more wrinkles than you, and we have been through a lot. I'm not perfect — you already know that — but I'm happy with who this journey has made me. Things will get better, you'll figure things out, and you'll recover from the mistakes you made. Life won't be perfect, but it will be good.Trust me.<3 Melissa *This page may contain affiliate links, which means if you use those links to make a purchase, I receive a commission at no extra cost to you.*

A Food Post (and Some Writing Stuff Too)

September 2017 Whole30As some of you may know, I love Paleo food. And this month, in September, my husband and I (along with a bunch of new online friends) are doing a Whole30! If you haven't heard of the program, it's a life-changing experience. I've done it more times than I can count!So in honor of our Whole30 this month, I wanted to share a pic of my Paleo, Whole30 "Ramen" bowl we had for dinner tonight. YUM.Whole30 Ramen BowlDoesn't that look yummy? Sweet potato noodles with spinach, mushrooms, half a boiled egg, carrots, chicken, and sauerkraut on top for a sour bite! Definitely one we'll put in the rotation.. . .So this post can't all be about food, I know. I wanted to briefly share what's been going on with my writing.For the past few weeks, I've been a little stuck. I'm not sure where I want to go with my plot, so I've been dissecting what little I have until I'm not even sure what's left! It's been a struggle.But, as I was reminded today,

Time off doesn't mean time wasted.

I just got back from a 10-day vacation from work and it was WONDERFUL. I had made plans before I left work to write like crazy, read like crazy, and food prep like crazy. (Because, you know, Whole30.) Did I do all those things? Nope. I actually didn't work on my book at all.So when I went into work today, I was bummed that I hadn't worked on my writing all week. That's when someone at work said that it's good to take time away from it, and that I probably needed it.And I realized it was true.The plot will eventually work out. I know this, because it did for my first book. It will eventually come to me so clearly and all the pieces will fit together and I will run into the living room jumping up and down and clapping my hands and my husband will look at me like I'm a lunatic and I won't even care because I will have figured it out! And there's nothing quite as sweet as that, right?The time off – the waiting – is absolutely essential. It's the space in which we wait for the exact right amount of time to pass so we can become truly thankful – giddy, even – when the moment finally arrives, when all our dreams come true.So wait with me, won't you? I promise we're headed for a glorious resolution.

Wellness/Paleo Website Launch!

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12799027_10153802522695210_4503937077220973079_nThis past February, my husband and I took an amazingly relaxing trip to Tampa, Florida. (Above is the sunset in St. Petersburg.) We almost didn't make it out of Michigan due to a snowstorm, but as the palm trees came into view, we could almost feel the weight (probably the weight of the snow) lift off our shoulders.We took the week and rested, ate amazing food, laid out and walked on the beach, drove all over the Tampa Bay area, and watched Supernatural. (Thank you, TNT) And after our minds finally cleared, we decided that we needed to start something.At first, we weren't sure what we were going to start. We knew that between my own Paleo/health journey and his desire to become more fit we've accumulated a lot of knowledge about wellness, health, and nutrition. So we brainstormed, planned, scrawled all over some white boards, planned some more, thought way too much, and came up with an idea. A website! (Not very original, but bear with me.)We knew so many people who wanted help getting their health back on track, so we wanted a place where people could go to find help on their wellness journey. Somewhere people could peruse articles, check out some Paleo recipes, and gain inspiration to start and maintain a healthy lifestyle day in and day out.Our website isn't up quite yet, but we wanted to start getting the word out. If you are considering starting your journey to a healthy life, are ready to get started, or are simply curious, sign up to get notified when the site launches! It's really only a few clicks away. (Get notified here.)Also, we'd love to connect with you on Facebook! My Facebook author page is here; send us a message! If you have any questions or already have ideas of things you'd like to see on the website, email us at info@andrewandmelissafrey.com.And don't worry; my blog will still be here! I will just transition my health and wellness posts to andrewandmelissafrey.com.What would you like to see on the new site? Blog posts, recipes, pictures, something else? We want to create content you'll love! Sound off in the comments!

The Un-Resolution New Year

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Okay, so I haven't posted on here in awhile. Like since last summer. Life's been crazy, we moved, the holidays... blah, blah, blah. You know how it goes.But those all kind of seem like excuses, don't they?So here's my un-resolution for this year: no resolutions that will stress me out or cause me guilt. Sound good? I thought so.Instead, I'm resolving not to make resolutions, but just get back to what I know I should be doing. Yoga, meditation, prayer, Bible study, writing, editing, mindfulness, healthy eating...all the things I did at some point in this past year but that somehow made their way out of my regular routine.I did some of the things on that list this morning. Did I feel guilty that I didn't start on January 1st? No way! I'm super proud of myself.Here's why: Imperfect progress is the name of the game. Because any step forward gets you that much closer to your goal.Ann Voskamp wrote a blog post about Perfectionism and Procrastination and Doing the Next Hard Thing. She summed it up this way: "Fire your perfectionism and your procrastination will quit too."Isn't that freeing? So instead of feeling guilty that you ate one more leftover Christmas cookie today or you missed out on yoga because your kids woke you up early and the dog was tracking snow through the house and your husband burnt pancakes in your nice new skillet then your oldest got a bloody nose and your youngest started screaming at all the blood...breathe. Just breathe.Just breathe, try again tonight, or tomorrow morning, or tomorrow night, or Wednesday at 3pm, and know that imperfect progress is infinitely better than no progress at all.So let's all make an un-resolution this year: stress-free, guilt-free, worry-free imperfect progress.I think we'll all be surprised at how far we can get. P.S. Here's a picture of the wreath I made this year. Yes, it's still on my door. No, I won't be taking it down any time soon.Christmas Wreath