Getting Out of a Reading Slump: My Top Tips

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Being in a reading slump is the worst possible state for a reader. You sit there wanting to read all the books on your shelf, and nothing captures your interest, even one of your most anticipated reads. Sometimes it can last a few days, sometimes weeks, sometimes months, but to give you a helping hand, here are a few of my top tips on getting out of a reading slump.

  • Try a quick read.

Reading a short, fast-paced book might just be all you need to propel you out of a reading slump. It might be a haiku, a poem, a short story, a novella or even a novel. Maybe even try a quick read in a different genre if you’re feeling adventurous, like non-fiction. If you’re searching for something to read, you can check out my blog post on quick reads for a few suggestions.

  •  Go to a bookshop and read some blurbs.

Getting yourself in a new and exciting book environment might get you into the right reading place again. So head on down to your local bookshop and start browsing! You don’t have to buy anything, but of course, we wouldn’t blame you if you did! Picking up a handful of books that make your bookish ears prick up might just give you the inspiration and interest to get reading again.

  • Take a break from reading.

If nothing is working, take a break. Don’t force yourself or feel guilty about not reading, or not being able to read. Reading is our most favourite and beloved pastime. Ultimately, reading is fun and it shouldn’t be a chore or something you put yourself through, so take a break until you find a book that gets you excited, or makes you feel that spark again.

  • Watch the movie first!

I know. BOOK BLASPHEMY. But if you’re really struggling to get into a particular book, you can watch the film before reading the book so you can get to grips with the story. This might be a good idea if you’re looking to read classics in particular, as there are lots of different adaptations to choose from, and the style of writing might be quite difficult to get into.

  • Re-read an old favourite.

Sometimes, it’s just best to go back to what you know and love. Re-reading something that is comfortable and familiar might just make you feel better about reading again. And who doesn’t love a good re-read every now and again?!

So these are my top tips for getting out of a reading slump. Are you in a reading slump right now? Do you have any go-to ideas for when you’re falling out of love with reading? Let me know in the comments!

#NaNoWriMo – Week 4

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I did it! I actually went and bloody did it. Here are my stats now that I’ve completed NaNoWriMo2016.

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As you can see from the graph, I finished on November 28th and officially wrote 50,000 words. It was touch and go as to whether I made it to the word count because, not only was I really busy in my private life, but I also developed a chest infection in the last few days, which really hindered my ability to write. I’m thankful I pushed on through though, because now I can say I’ve won NaNoWriMo two years running.

I didn’t actually complete my story, which is the weird thing. I never think about my stories or novels to be particularly long. Even last year when I wrote The Last Four Years, my story finished, quite appropriately around 50,000 words. So when I realised I had only written half of my story at 50k, I knew that with the finished product, I was going to be in for some serious editing! That being said, I really enjoyed the idea that I was writing, but for now I’m going to put it aside and mull it over rather than push myself at the same pace.

I have started thinking about another project that I ideally want to work on this coming April for CampNaNoWriMo, but that is five months away! I’ve realised just how important it is to have a plan, but sometimes, even if you have an outline or a structure, sometimes it’s not enough. I’ve learned to write where my heart takes me and worry about filling in the blanks later, because those blanks might just end up filling themselves over time.

I can happily say that this NaNoWriMo was very educational and productive indeed. I would like to thank NaNoWriMo and the whole team behind the event and also my writing buddies who kept me going. You are the unsung heroes of a writer’s life!

#NaNoWriMo – Week 3

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Apologies for being slightly late with week three’s update. Life seems to have run away with me at the moment, but despite this I’m still making good progress. Let’s see how I’ve been doing.

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I’m yet to complete my words for today (23rd) but I’m confident that I will by midnight at the latest. I have passed the 30k mark, and even the 35k mark as well, and I am ever nearing the 40k mark with each day. As I said last week, I wanted to have 40k by the end of week three and I’m almost there, so only over 10k left to write in the last week. I’m confident that I can win NaNoWriMo again this year.

I’ve been continuing to jump around with scenes which has really freed me up and helped me get the words down. It’s also helped me flesh out the other scenes that I haven’t had at the forefront of my mind just yet. I’m still not even half way through my story and so I’m thinking my final product is going to be much longer than 50k. It will be the longest story I’ve every written, as the most I’ve ever achieved is 50k, which was last year’s effort titled The Last Four Years.

So we’re coming into the fourth and final week, and I’m hoping to just continue writing as much as possible each day. I don’t want to worry about writing loads and loads each day, as long as I can get the daily word count done, I’ll be happy. So 50k is the goal regardless of whether my story is finished or not. I’ll have plenty of time to finish it over Christmas.

Here’s to the last week!

#NaNoWriMo – Week 2

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We are officially half way through NaNoWriMo2016 which is a crazy, crazy thought. Let’s see if I’m on track to win by the end of the month. week2

I’m a day late in posting this update because I was consumed by writing last night. I have still been struggling with some scenes, and although I wanted to write the story in it’s linear timeline, I’ve decided it would be best if I jumped to the scenes that were burning at the forefront of my mind.

Whilst I’ve been mulling over this story, there have been scenes that I’ve had ready to be written, so I think it’s the best for my progress to write those scenes down first and then fill in the blanks. It certainly helps with my word count and it stops me from feeling blocked when trying to write other scenes.

I successfully reached 25,000 words on the 15th day which means I’m on target to win by the 30th. I’m not half way through my story yet, probably a third, so I’m expecting the finished product to be at least 60,000 words, which will be the most I’ve ever written for a manuscript. I don’t think I’ll complete 60k by the end of November, but I’m sure the story won’t be 100% finished by the 30th.

By the end of week three, I’d ideally like to have achieved 40,000 words, leaving a leisurely 10,000 words for the last week, but I’m not sure whether that will happen. I’ll strive for it though. That’s all I can do.

#NaNoWriMo – Week 1

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It’s that time of year again where we all hunch over our computers and try to bash out a novel in a month! Does it sound mad? Yes. But there’s method in our madness. Have a look and see how I did in my first week of NaNoWriMo2016.

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When I realised NaNoWriMo was coming around again, I knew for definite that I was going to be participating. I’d been mulling over an idea in my head for a few months and after developing it in a notebook, it was finally time to unleash it in a word document. I wasn’t at all apprehensive because I knew I had completed a 50k NaNo Project twice already, and so knew I could do it again.

The story I have decided to write this year is a futuristic novel set in a regressive society that mirrors Elizabethan England. World War three has destroyed the earth and the humans left over are rebuilding society from the World’s previous blueprint. Beatrice, the rightful Queen of the Republic of Karelia returns to her Kingdom to reclaim her throne since she has come of age, and must neutralise a threat of invasion from her neighbouring Kingdom.

My aim was primarily to keep to the word count for everyday and get ahead on words if possible so that on the days where I’m feeling less inspired I don’t have to torture myself into completing the required amount. I did hit a few issues especially during the middle of the week. For me the problem wasn’t finding time to write, it was typing the standard “housekeeping” scenes and and trying to push through to get to more exciting scenes where the action rose. I also have never written a story that involved world building before. It was a lot of fun building my own world in the preparation stage, but putting it into a story and making it work was entirely different altogether. I struggled not “info dumping” or leaving out the world building all together (and so thus confuse the reader), and have tried to keep it in a healthy balance.

This first week I completed nearly the first quarter of my book, which is brilliant progress! By the end of next week I hope to have achieved the half way point at twenty five thousand words.

Preparing for #NaNoWriMo2016

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I never thought I would ever finish my book, let alone have written two before I turned 25. That’s a crazy achievement for me, and it’s all thanks to NaNoWriMo. Four years before I first participated, the thought of doing a month long writing sprint filled me with anxiety. But once I found ways to prepare and manage my idea, I couldn’t believe how easy it was. So here are a few tips and tricks to get you going.

  • Find an idea you’re happy with

Writing your novel won’t be enjoyable unless you genuinely like what you’re writing! If you’re stuck for ideas, or simply want some help to guide you through the writers block, see my blog post on writing a book here.

  • Make an outline

Some people are pants-ers, some people are planners. I am personally a planner, and I feel so much more relaxed when I have an outline of a scene in my head ready to be written. Sometimes I’ll even write the dialogue in script form, just so I can get it down on the page and then convert it to prose later on.

  • Make a schedule

This is coming from a certified planner! However, designating time in your day to sit down and write will help you achieve the 1,667 words you need to win. It could be an hour before you go to work, on your commute, during your lunch break, after work or even before bed. I always find I work better in the late afternoons/evenings, so I always make sure I’m sitting poised and ready to write by then.

  • Enter in your novel

On the NaNoWriMo website, you can start entering in your novel from early October. The sooner you do it, the more committed you will be to the project. You can even upload a book cover as well, so until November comes you can get creative and make something that fully represents the novel you intend to write.

  • Add your friends!

Something that kept me going during the first NaNoWriMo I did was seeing how my friends were progressing throughout the month. Whether it’s a healthy competition or just checking in and talking through ideas, having friends by your side always makes the experience more enjoyable.

Add me to your buddy list here: http://nanowrimo.org/participants/clareholmanhobbs

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year? Either add me to the buddy list or let me know down in the comments what you intend on writing this year. Happy writing!

National Novel Writing Month begins on November 1st and continues until November 30th. Each participant aims to write 50,000 words in a month, which averages out at 1,667 words a day. You can find all the information on the project at the website: nanowrimo.org

Feeling Craft-y: Journaling Ideas

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I never realised until recently, but I’ve been journaling my whole life. Even before I knew what journaling was, or before I could write, my mum has been keeping chronicles of pictures I’ve drawn and notes I’ve written throughout my years.

I then kept diaries when I was an angst-y teenager, which I eventually ended up throwing away or ripping up because I was too embarrassed about my feelings and thoughts. But now I’m older, and have developed a love of writing, and have gained confidence in owning my own feelings and thoughts, I have found a beloved hobby in journaling.

I love nothing more than putting on some music, or a film, sitting back with a pen or pencil, and letting my hand roam freely across the page. Sometimes when I’m on a train, I’ll put my headphones in and write down my thoughts and ideas, or how I’m feeling today. It’s great to look back on, especially when the pages are linked to significant life events, or strong memories.

So what do you journal about? I agree that there is nothing more daunting than a blank page, but that shouldn’t be what restricts you, it should be what frees you. You can put anything you want to on that page. But just in case you get a bit stuck, here are some ideas for pages in your journal to get you started.

About Me

What’s your name? When is your birthday? Where were you born? Are you left handed or right handed? What colour are your eyes? What colour is your hair?

Journaling is all about YOU and everything connected to your identity, what you think, what you feel, how you see the world and more. Don’t be afraid to be selfish with your journal.

Bucket List

Before you die, what do you want to have achieved? Do you want to donate blood? Sky dive? Milk a cow? Learn a language? Ride an elephant?

Journals are a great way of keeping focused on an idea or thought. You can dedicate a whole page to the idea that someday you want volunteer or own your own house. You could even fill your page with wallpaper samples!

Wish List

If you had all the money in the world, what would you buy?

Journaling is also about escaping reality and letting your imagination roam free. If you wanted, you could buy a quad bike to ride around your mansion. The possibilities are endless and your responsibilities don’t exist inside your journal.

Things to Learn

Knitting? Photography? The Off-Side Rule? Perhaps you just want to write down the definition of a difficult word that you keep forgetting.

Things to Buy

The latest season of your favourite TV show, or the dress you’ve had your eye on the past few weeks? Even if you can’t afford it, money knows no boundaries in your journal.

Road Trips to Make and Countries to Visit

Do you fancy trailing along Route 66, or driving across Europe and back again? Where in the world would you go if you could go anywhere?

Job Titles I Want

Professional bed tester? Professional tea and coffee taster? Professional Netflix watcher? I know these are three jobs I would jump at the chance to do.

Those are just a handful of the pages I have in my journal, along with lots of free writing, strands of poetry, novel ideas, character names, narratives, letters to various people, list of books I want to read, films I want to see, notes, plans, ideas, favourite foods, my favourite types of coffee, celebrities I love, wishes, hopes and dreams, and much more.

Ultimately, journals are all about having fun. Let me know down in the comments if you love to journal, and what is your favourite page?

25 Facts About Me

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Want to get to know me better? Want to know the facts behind the display picture? Here are twenty five facts about me.

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  1. In 2015, I read roughly 80 books.
  2. I’m left-handed.
  3. I can fold my tongue in half width ways. 1458657629148
  4. I am a Virgo, as are my mother and grandmother. (But I have a Cancer ascendant and a Pisces Midhaven.)
  5. I’m the opposite to Harry Potter. I look exactly like my mother but I have my father’s eyes.
  6. I have double jointed arms. 1458657247989.jpg
  7. My favourite authors are John Green, JK Rowling, Dorothy Koomson, Laurie Halse Anderson and E Lockhart.
  8. I have a record player, and I love to listen to my parent’s old LPs.
  9. My favourite era of history is the Tudor dynasty.
  10. I love scented candles, some of my favourites are cinnamon and caramel.
  11. I queued up at midnight to get my copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
  12. I am an avid fan of musicals. Favourites include, Billy Elliot, Wicked, Jersey Boys, Legally Blonde, Les Miserables, The Phantom of the Opera, RENT, Sweeney Todd, and more.
  13. I am a published poet, and have been published in print and online.
  14. I love a band called The Maine and I am a huge fan of Paramore and Fleetwood Mac.
  15. I have a degree in Creative Writing from the University of Winchester.
  16. I wear glasses full time.
  17. I have written a novel titled The Last Four Years.
  18. I have two tattoos.
  19. I have visited the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, FL and the Harry Potter Studio Tour in Watford.
  20. I love journaling and scrapbooking.
  21. I have three piercings. My nose, my ear lobes and my labret.
  22. I am a Hufflepuff and a Ravenclaw. A Huffleclaw.
  23. I am a stationary fiend!
  24. I can play the drums and the piano to a basic level.
  25. I love to highlight, write in, deface and dog-ear my books. I say they’re well loved.

Hope you enjoyed these facts about me and let me know down in the comments if you want to see more.

Promises and Wishes: 2015 Edition

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On Christmas Eve 2014, I wrote a blog post titled Promises and Wishes, where I looked back on my university bucket list that I’d written three years prior. In the same post, I also made a 2015 to-do list of things I wanted to achieve by the end of the year.

As most of you know, the past year and a half has been very difficult for me. A year ago when I first wrote my Promises and Wishes post, I was five months into my recovery having been diagnosed with severe depression and an anxiety disorder. Since that post, I have completed 16 weeks of talking therapy and have just begun a cognitive behavioural therapy-based support group. I’m still on medication, I’m still struggling, but I’m winning the battle every day, and am that step closer to winning the war against my disorders and illness.

That being said, let’s look back and see what I wanted to achieve this year and whether I did or not.

  • Learn to manage my depression and anxiety.

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Sometimes meditating on a candle can be all you need to relax.

TICK. Although this is quite a difficult thing to measure, I’m beginning to know my own mind, know my triggers, not rely on safety seeking behaviours and find the courage to be more assertive, both emotionally and mentally. To be able to say that, and mean it, is a massive achievement for me.

  • Buy some trainers and take up running. 

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A photograph of the haul where I bought my trainers.

TICK. Well, half a tick. I bought some trainers and I TRIED to take up running, but unfortunately after my first run I conveniently had a panic attack afterwards. My energy levels are something I struggle with on a day to day basis, and I don’t think I’m at the stage of my recovery where I can successfully go for a run without doing some major damage. Regardless, I bought some trainers, gave it a go and saved the idea for when I’m a bit further down the road. (see what I did there?)

  • Do something that scares me. 

Wake up every day? Adult successfully? Do things by myself? Yes, I do things that scare me everyday. Once again, this one is hard to measure. Not sure if I have, or haven’t achieved it.

  • Learn to Knit.

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Mum’s scarf.

TICK. I actually learnt to knit. I knitted a whole scarf for my Mum who wears it with pride, especially now it’s winter.

  • Get better at French.

No tick. Don’t ask.

  • Pass my driving test.

Still, no. I have paused my driving lessons for the time being because my coordination isn’t good as a result of my medication (and is kind of a fundamental skill for driving), so once I am figuratively and literally further down the road of recovery, I shall pass and go on a road trip… probably… maybe not.

  • To finish The Last Four Years.

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The last day of progress on The Last Four Years.

TICK. BIG TICK. BIGGEST TICK EVER. Not only did I structure my story as a screenplay, I also completed NaNoWriMo and achieved 50,000. Doing NaNo was such an amazing tool to explore my story more and I found that I was really writing my best work. You can read about my progress here.

  • Get another piercing.

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The day I got my piercing done.

TICK. I got a labret piercing in February.

  • Get another tattoo.

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The day I got my tattoo done. 

TICK. I got a semi colon tattoo which donated money and services in aid of Mental Health charities and for the Mental Health Awareness Campaign.


So, I think it’s safe to say I had a pretty successful year in terms of goals. Now, let’s start as we mean to go on and look at what I hope to achieve by the end of 2016.

  • LEARN TO DRIVE.
  • GET BETTER AT FRENCH.
  • Start sending The Last Four Years out to literary agents.
  • Finishing structuring/plotting the next big idea.
  • Begin volunteering somewhere, even if it’s just an hour a week.
  • Come down on my medication dosage, as I think it’s contributing, at least some, towards my lack of energy. (Although a hefty dose of depression is enough…)
  • Write more blogs.

I’ll probably make some more along the way, but for now that seems like a decent, achievable amount of goals to have. I hope everyone enjoys the holiday season and has a fantastic time full of food, family and frivolities!

#NaNoWriMo – Week 4

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I am so happy to say: I WON!

Yes, last night at approximately 11:50pm I reached fifty thousand words and won this year’s November writing challenge. Here’s the graph to see my progress:

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My aim was the use the last week and the ten thousand remaining words that I had to flesh out areas of part three of my story that I had glossed over in the linear writing process. This included clarifying extra description, dialogue, ironing our any errors or lump sentences, which I achieved. I also added a prologue and epilogue, just to amp up the mystery element to my story which I felt was lacking as I re-read through.

I found this last week incredibly difficult because I felt as though I had really run out of steam, and pushing myself to write every day when I had little mental energy was incredibly challenging, but I’m so glad I persevered because I can now say I’ve got a first draft of a novel and I won my first ever NaNoWriMo year. Cheers to that!