5 Clues You are Stressing Out

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It’s easy to say, “Don’t stress” but if we don’t understand how to put this into practice in our everyday life, this is a command that is not so easy to obey. That’s why I’ve been exercising practical ways not to stress so much (because there’s no such thing as not stressing…stressing is natural…we just overdo it).

Sometimes we don’t know we are stressing. This is not good because what you don’t recognize, you can’t change. No worries though, I got you covered.

Here are 5 Clues you’re stressing out:

Overthinking / Overanalyzing

One clue that you are stressed about something is if you can’t stop thinking about it. When you are going over a situation in your head repeatedly. You micromanage every possible scenario on how something can go wrong. You give it so much energy that you even have mental conversations with yourself on what could happen, what did happen, how it happened and even new ways it could have happened. You go to bed thinking about it and wake up thinking about it.

If this is you, you are stressing out and I am going to need you to chill.

Looking for Faults

If you find yourself looking for the flaw in things, you have a problem. Unlike being faced with a situation, you’re looking for one. Every single action is met with your own private investigation. The slightest issue is background checked for “possible” mistakes and mishaps. You even start to bring up old stuff, calculating how that situation and this one is connected.

If you’re constantly critiquing yourself or something/someone else, looking for problems that don’t nor have probably ever existed, you are stressing out and I am going to need you to just chill.

Whining / Complaining

What we think about will eventually come out of our mouths. If you find yourself complaining about every single itty bitty thing, you are stressed. You know that tone. When the inflation in your voice rises and the sentence begins with “but” or “why come” a whine is coming on. If all you focus on is problems you won’t see solutions. If you must complain all the time, you’re stressing yourself out and I am going to need you to chill.

Trying to Guess What People Are Thinking / Saying

This one is a lot more subtle than the others and is the cousin to overanalyzing. If you are having mental conversations about what you think other people are thinking and what they are saying, you are stressing. If you’re trying to find motive where it doesn’t exist, you are stressed because you’re worried about what others think and their reactions so you make up stuff. This is dangerous. Eventually, you will have convinced yourself you “know” what that person is thinking and start to interact with them based on the fictitious person in your head as if that’s who the person really is. You’ll start to look at everything they do based on the version of them in your head.

If you’re imagining what people must think or what they must be saying, you’re stressing and could push people away if your illusions ever reach the surface. Never assume you know what people are thinking. That’s what communication is for.

And oh yes, I am going to need you to chill.

Denial

It’s sometimes hard to see things about ourselves without someone pointing them out to us. This is when we need the help of family, friends, and people who truly care. You know, the ones who tell us exactly how it is… straight, no chaser. So, if someone says you’re stressed and your first response is to deny it or come up with excuses, that’s a big fat red flag that you probably are stressed out…

…and we’re going to need you to chill.

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Controlling the Energy Around You

As many of you know, I’ve been doing lots of personal reflection. My focus has been on healing and love. This included taking some extensive time off to spend with Yah, my family, embracing solitude and doing more writing.

In this process, I’ve learned a lot about myself (still learning), got to spend time with my mom, finished two books and moved to Georgia.

Long story short, this break has paid off in more ways than one and I want to share with you something I shared with my Bimonthly email list already. That is, learning to control the energy around you so that you’re more positive, have more energy, are happier and accomplishing more.

To start, I’ve been practicing this by training my mind to be more positive.

Positive Thoughts

Many are already talking about the power of positive thinking, but how does that look in action?

What I’ve come to understand about the power of thought is how much our thoughts contribute to our physical well-being.

We can literally control the energy around us by the quality of our thoughts.

This means that I cannot focus my thoughts on the negative all day, every day and expect to be happy and energetic. If you wake up complaining, go to work complaining, blog your complaints, Tweet and Facebook your complaints, how do you (realistically speaking) expect to have a good day?

This includes limiting what my ears hear and what my eyes see. I can think positively but thinking positive is not enough.

I must also eliminate negative people, places, and things from my life that influences the way that I think.

Why is this important? Because we cannot heal in the same environment that broke us.

I’ve found that watching and listening to what is less negatively stimulating can help me to think less negatively. 

An example of this online is following more positive minded people on social media and accounts that encourage and build up instead of tear down. I removed those persons whose energy brought me down and followed those whose energy built me up. This doesn’t mean those I removed are bad people or that I love them less. It means that I love myself enough to protect my energy.

This process of falling back in love with ourselves begins with setting standards for what we will and will not tolerate. This is important because you teach people how to love you based on what you allow to take place.

Mental Rest

My break has been more so about mental rejuvenation more than physically. Being tired all the time does not necessarily mean that you’ve had a productive day. It may mean that you are busy but it doesn’t always mean that you’ve been productive. Sometimes it means it is mental rest that you need.

Because the spiritual (mind) and the physical (body) is connected, once we control the way we think we automatically control the way that we feel. Sure, I can get more hours of sleep (and I should) but…

ultimately it is my excitement and passion about the good in my life that will fill me up with positive and empowering energy.

Or, it is my depressed demeanor that will do the opposite.

Your mind can tire you out or fill you up.

For this, I am personally striving to cut down on complaining and worrying by focusing instead on positive thoughts and alternatives. This is not easy, is a daily process, and also means not allowing others to project their negative energy onto me. Giving into other people’s problems or letting people complain to us too much can drain our energy and leave us empty.

Being an ear is great but there’s a difference between being supportive and just letting people dump their issues in our laps.

We are not toilets and shouldn’t allow ourselves to be used.

Do not misunderstand me: Venting can be a good thing. Having someone to talk to is mentally healthy but in the words of Rudy Francisco:

“Some people will take until you have nothing left and then hold a grudge against your hands for being empty.”


Next, we’ll talk about some backlashes to the new and positive you and how to stay encouraged despite them. In a world this cold anything good is bound to be met with opposition. This should not surprise us. In fact, we should prepare for it.

Self-Publishing – Laying Bricks Ep 2: Mortar

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“You cannot build your hopes upon unstable foundations and expect a product of longevity.”

– Audrey Prim,

Quote From heyygurrlheyy.wordpress.com

Sure, there are other things we’ll need to do: paint the walls, add furniture, and hire professionals but not now, not while laying bricks.

Execution is vital in going from an idea to something that is actually tangible. Goals are great, but alone they’re not enough. Written down, they are merely plans. Plans are awesome. But a plan that is not backed by action becomes fruitless.  Laying bricks is excellent, but it is not enough. No, you can’t just write, sorry. I wish it was that easy. Wait, actually, it is!

It is if you take your time. If we are to build a strong house, there are other things that we must do with these bricks besides lay them. In our first unofficial episode, we spoke about focusing on one brick and how to lay it properly. We got through the laying part but if the brick is not held together, then the entire foundation is weak and the house will crumble.

Applying Mortar – Revisions and Feedback

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Writing the story is important. It is your guide, your first brick. But we have all lived long enough to know that you can’t just stack bricks, you need something to hold them together. As much as we’d like to all just have fun, this is a business after all.

Safety Tip: When working with mortar, always wear gloves and a mask or respirator.

Before applying mortar, you’d need to protect yourself. This just means you’ll need to be prepared to battle self-doubt and rejection because this step requires revisions and feedback. If your first brick is the story, then how do you know if that story is any good? Surely we cannot depend on our own selves to determine the quality of work. I mean, are we brilliant? Yes, of course. But we are also too close to the work.

I’m not going to pretend your first draft isn’t everything, it is. It took lots of time and research. It is everything, but it’s not EVERYTHING! See how exciting the last everything was? First drafts are like the play-dough you just want to play with and get all “authorly” and say stuff like “yaasss”. However, we can’t just give readers dough now can we? We have to mold it into something and to do this properly, you’ll need a little bit of help.

Discover the tools you need to apply a generous amount of feedback to each layer of the brick. This may require:

  1. Beta Readers
  2. Advanced Review Readers
  3. Writing Critique Groups
  4. Facebook Writer Groups

Click Here for 40 Places to Find a Critique Partner

Who Will Help You Improve Your Writing

I know. It sounds funny speaking about revisions so early on. The truth is that no first draft is ready to be published. The truth is that your manuscript will need revisions. But, how do you know what needs to be revised?

The job of these people listed is to provide constructive feedback. When it came time to participate in The Curiouser Author Society’s Critique day, whew! Nervous is not the word, I was terrified. However, when I finally did upload my novel’s first chapter and allowed this group of people to read it, I was pleasantly surprised. It was like a weight was lifted from my shoulders. Sure, I thought it was good but could I really depend on my own critique? Not really. Now that others read it and provided feedback I knew it was good. Granted, it wasn’t great (at this stage you don’t get to great yet… there were things I needed to fix), but I was confident that it wasn’t poor either which boosted my confidence as a writer. I’m telling you from experience, it is enough fuel to finish the book indeed!

Here are a few things to look for during revision:

  • Contradictions  – Usually writers start off strong in the beginning but then you get to the end and its like, “Where they do that at?” Look for contradictions in your characters behaviors or setting or anything. Is she wearing red shoes? I thought she hated red tho? Stuff like that.
  • Flow and Pace – If you skip it, chances are it needs to be skipped.
  • Destroy – I’ll speak more on this in the next episode but it is part of the revision process. To fix some things means you have to break it down to build it up. So if the shoe fits, yeah, some parts of your story will need to be utterly destroyed. Recently, I just had to cut an entire chapter from my WIP. Ouch.
  • One Thing at a Time – So is the whole point of this series. We’re not focused on the in depth stuff. In this series we’re focusing on the basics. When you perfect the basics you can build upon what you build. On the other hand, without a strong foundation none of the other stuff will matter. So, back to it. Revise in stages, fixing one thing at a time. Don’t rush. Remember, this is  a process. We’re not building a straw house. We’re building  a brick house.
  • Show and Tell – Check for moments you told instead of showed and vice verse. I won’t elaborate here since I plan to publish a separate post on it, but just be sure you understand the difference between telling vs. showing. Personally, I think good writers show and tell. There’s an ongoing debate in the writing world about Showing vs. Telling but here’s the secret: don’t show us everything! As a result of the show vs. tell debate authors are now showing us everything but their booty cheeks. That’s not what show vs. tell means and makes the story sound just as boring as my example. It’s called Storytelling for a reason. You are supposed to tell a story. The difference is in balancing the amount of telling and showing. Straight action doesn’t work no more than no action. Your characters just can’t be running all over the place, they need quite, emotional times too.
  • Grammar / Punctuation – This is last not because its not important. It’s just that this goes more into the next episode. But, there are still mistakes you can catch during your revision you may not have seen before. Especially those caught by your betas.

Sure, everyone’s opinions are just that, opinions. Additionally, opinions vary for each person. Still, it helps to have an extra set of eyes to validate some things for you as you revise your script. If you think you can really do it all yourself, then maybe you are not ready to build a house. (Ever watched those home reconstruction shows? Do you see how much work that is? Now, imagine one person doing it. Sheesh). The extra set of eyes are not to dictate your script, change the vision, or slam your work.

The extra eyes are just to help you along the revision process before you go in for the edit. So, “butter” that brick with mortar by recruiting additional sets of eyes to read your manuscript. They may be useful in locking each brick into place and to release any unnecessary plot bubbles that may be underneath all the glitter and glam.

Next– Removing Excess

Next, we’ll talk about removing the excess in your Self-Pub brick laying process. Find out what to do when you get your scripts back from readers. After you’ve gotten the book critiqued, now what? Stay Tuned.

Be sure to subscribe to my email newsletter for more tips, updates on my upcoming projects, free excerpt chapters and articles not yet published to this blog, book promotions, and more.

Disclaimer. Everything I share on Self-Publishing is always based on my own experience and research because I believe you can’t advise people on stuff you haven’t really tried. It’s just best if you’ve walked those shoes. So, that said I do not profess to be an expert. There are too many of them out there for you to glean from. Now, should you find information on this blog useful? Whoo hoo! Go for it.

Missed the first episode? See Laying Bricks Ep 1: Guide The Bricks


Yecheilyah Ysrayl is the YA, Historical Fiction author of The Stella Trilogy. She is currently working on her next book series “The Nora White Story” about a young black woman writer who dreams of taking part in The Harlem Renaissance movement and her parents struggle to accept their traumatic past in the Jim Crow south. “Renaissance: The Nora White Story (Book One)” is due for release spring, 2017. For updates on this project, sneak peek of chapters and the pending book cover release for this project, be sure to follow this blog and to subscribe to Yecheilyah’s email list HERE.

My 7 Step Writing Process

My 7 Step Writing Process

It really does not take me long to write a book once I’ve settled on an idea I think will work. Below is my 7 step process. If I follow this, it takes me about 6 months to finish writing a first draft.

Caution: What you’re about to read is weird and does not necessarily take place in this order. Sorry.

Step 1: Research, First Draft, Announcement

When a story idea hits me I tend to stare out in space a lot and just do a lot of talking to myself. In the event my husband feels like hearing me ramble, I talk to him about it. He is SO helpful because some of my ideas (OK OK, a lot of my ideas) don’t make sense and he gives it to me straight, no chaser. “EC, what?” OK, maybe not like that but basically, he tells me how it is. Once I’ve discovered a story idea that is worthy, I’m like a drug addict in need of a hit. First, my blood starts to rush, my hands get sweaty, and I start to live off of coffee and books for most of my days (I’ve been known to skip a meal or two to write just one more sentence….paragraph…page…chapter) and I just can’t stop thinking about the story. I need to get my hands on anything that will give me further insight into this idea.

I must clarify that I research and write simultaneously. In a week of writing you can be sure that I have read books, took notes, and added more to the story at the same time. I don’t believe in spending months researching alone. By then I may forget the story. Another weird thing I do is that I often stop in the middle of writing to make sure that awesome idea I wrote made sense, that is, that it is appropriate for the era in which I am writing (since most of my work is Historical Fiction). Of course, I’ll go back over everything later on in  the process but I try not to rely on my memory. If I have to stop while I’m thinking about it, that’s what I’ll do. This means that I can stop writing to read an entire novel or do hours of research. Then, a few weeks later, I’ll return to the manuscript and write some more. Keep in mind that this is just the first draft. I believe that with the first draft its important to just get things down. Just write. Don’t try to worry too much about anything else at this point. It’s just the beginning. Just the first step.

Faith is taking the first step, even when you can’t see the whole staircase. So go ahead, step!

So I read, write, and repeat in this stage. This is also the time where I announce that yes, I am going to publish another book. I do this because I believe it is important to announce my next book as early in the process as possible and I tend to know right away if I’m going through with it or not. If I’ve begun massive writing, I’m pretty much in. If I decide not to publish it later then nothing is lost. However, if I decide to go on with it I have the advantage of everyone already being familiar with it. In short, I announce my next project by talking about it as soon as is possible, aka, word of mouth.

Step 2: Feedback

After I’ve actually finished the first draft I need to go back over it, obviously, but tend to not know where to start! This is where I need feedback from others. Of course, I know the script needs to be edited (though I’ve always loved to write, English not so much), but I think its important to get feedback first, rewrite it, then get it edited. So, I belong to a few writing groups. The first group is my husband. Don’t laugh, I’m serious. Here’s why:

I’m a woman but I do write about male characters occasionally (my last book was the first book where a male was the main character. No, I am not a feminist or anything like  that its just, well, I’m a woman! It’s easier for me to have central women characters because, being a woman, I naturally know women). When I do write in men characters, as deep as my imagination is, I am not a man. I can be as talented as is possible but I am not a man. I recruit the assistance of my man to make my men characters more authentic. I need to know, “Does this sound like something a man would say?” Sure, I have brothers and Uncles and male cousins. I’ve been around men my whole life and I know them to an extent. Research is also good but there’s nothing like getting it from the horses mouth sorta speak. Not that my husband’s a horse, you get the point.

However, I also belong to a couple other writers groups. In one of them, there’s a day where we uploaded a chapter and the members gave us feedback on what we should change! Another option is to seek the help of Freelance Beta Readers, or people who will read your book and offer their input. This is just a few ways I seek feedback: Family, Writing Groups (I must also mention that I am not deeply involved with critique groups. I can’t focus on finishing the first draft if everyone is telling me what I need to change every step of the way. Yes, it’s annoying. Let me finish the first draft first, then we can talk changes. So, when I say writers groups, I really mean after the first draft. Otherwise, you’ll probably get a good chapter out of me and that’s it), and Chapter Excerpts.

Step 3: Chapter Excerpts

This serves a dual purpose: I like to share chapter excerpts to give me the opportunity to receive even more feedback BEFORE I hire an editor. When I’m at this stage its usually after the first draft finish (which is where I’m at now, also known as The Beta Reader Stage). As I am uploading sample chapters, I am also simultaneously submitting the script to those Beta Readers. In this way, I can compare the feedback (Feedback does not necessarily mean I’m going to change what others say that I should if I’m not feeling it. Yes, I’m a very picky writer. It’s a MUST that the central vision of the story does NOT change). The other purpose this serves is: Promotion! By uploading chapters of my upcoming book, I am giving readers an opportunity to sample it. If they love it, I have already secured potential readers. Its not grandiose, but it is a form of promotion within itself. I did this with book two in The Stella Trilogy and it was a success. People who read the excerpts could not wait to purchase the complete story when it was done and some did follow through on their word and bought the book. Don’t get me wrong, this is not why I do this. I post excerpts because I think its fun. Its just that, as a perk, I am also promoting the story.

What to Sample?

There’s a general understanding that the first five chapters of a book should hook the reader so I pretty much go with this. If the first five chapters of a book can’t hook readers, there are major changes that need to take place! So, I start by uploading excerpts by chapter. If the chapter is too long however, I only use a greater portion of the chapter because I don’t want the post or excerpt to be too long (our attention spans are really not that long people. In fact, I hope you’ve read this far into this post!). When I start to submit excerpts for Nora’s story on this blog, I’ll pretty much start with Chapter 1.

Step 4: Revisions

Like I said, these steps are not necessarily in order. This can take place both before and after the feedback. Lots of frowns are likely to occur here, more stares out in space, and repeated questions that probably will never be answered like, “But why?”

In my re-writing stage, I focus on a few primary points:

  • Hypocrisies and Plot Holes
  • Showed or Told? (“Could I show this more instead of telling? Did I tell or did I show?”)
  • Spelling / Grammatical Errors

I don’t really believe I am capable of truly editing my own work being so close to it, but I do what I can during the revision process before seeking an editor and I am extremely paranoid about this. My manuscript is likely to go through many revisions before it hits the editor’s desk. Are you ready for the weird part? I have to read it out loud! Not the entire script straight through, just the part I’m revising at the moment. I start revising by getting ready for the grand rehearsal. All characters in place? In 5,4,3,2,1…Chapter 1.

Step 5: Edit

After rewriting the script to my satisfaction (and getting feedback) it is time for the big edit. This is where I hire an editor. I have an excellent editor friend I tend to start with and then go on from there (as there are different levels of the edit). This time around, as to make the advanced editing easier, I’ll likely have my editor go over it first so it’s not that many grammatical errors when the in depth editing takes place. Proofreading is also part of this process although the proofread is usually after the edit as a final polish.

Step 6: Book Cover Design

No, I don’t wait.  As the editor is doing his or her thing, I am getting the Book Cover Design done (or at least thinking about it). My vision is to always release the Book Cover Design for the book before it is set to release. Again, this is more promotion as people are highly visual. When my favorite Traditional Published authors announce a book release, its usually backed up by a hot book cover of the coming book. I’ve never heard Terry McMillan say, “Hey look, my editor is editing a book I plan to come out with next year!” No, the hard work is done on the back end and there is usually a grand announcement made by the author, followed by a Book Cover of the pending book for readers.

No? Oh. Well, at least that’s how it happens in my head.

So, for this reason, I consider the official (if I’ve made it this far I’m pretty much coming out with the book. Period.) announcement of the book with the grand book cover release. This gets people (including me!) even more excited and interested. I see the book cover design as the official official stamp of approval. By now I am definitely publishing this book!

Step 7: Marketing / Promo.

This is not the last step.  I am actually marketing and promoting my next book around the same time that I am making the official announcement. Nope, I don’t wait. Like I said, if I decide not to publish the book, nothing is lost. I’m just not doing it at the moment and everyone understands. However, if I do decide to publish it, I like to give myself a head-start.

My first form of marketing and promotion is just sharing the story! This is why I like to talk about it in the beginning instead of waiting until the book is almost finished. If I share the story early on, everyone is involved. I can speak about my writing process, my struggles, my doubts, my successes. It’s like a pregnant woman.  She let’s you feel on her belly and tells you about all the updates. She boasts of the ultrasound and reveals if it’s a girl or boy. In short, you are on this journey with her. By the time the baby comes you are just as excited about it as she is. It’s the same with books I suppose. I like to start the pre-promotion process by helping potential readers to feel as involved as I am comfortable with. In this way, you feel just as connected to the work when it releases. Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. But involve me, and I learn.

I am still learning about the whole promotional thing myself so take this with a grain of salt (lbs), but I think getting into promo mode takes a good year in advance (my novel doesn’t come out until 2017. Will I wait until 2017 to say something about it? No!). I say a year to include before the book releases. You want to push the book before it’s published, and also at least 3-6months afterward. How a book performs in its first 6 months usually helps to determine where it’s at with readers (at least for me). Not that you will ever stop pushing the book.

With Self-Publishing you can always keep pushing your older works and try different promotional techniques (that’s the perk). This is often my biggest challenge: Not to forget about all of my books! As I start a new project I just get so excited that it is easy to forget that I can continue promoting my other works. I also seek Advanced Readers or Advanced Reviews after the book is edited, though I am not sure I’ll do the Advanced Read thing this round (didn’t work out well for me the first time). I will like to garner earlier reviews this time around though. Instead of waiting until the book releases, I hope to secure some reviews at least 3 months prior to launch day and I’ll recommend the same for you. That’s another reason you want to promote the book in advance.

It is also wise, I think, to start to work on new work as you’re promoting your current ones if you have the time. More books tend to drive more sales as readers have variety. It also tends to take more than one book to start to see some action as a Self-Publisher. Don’t ask me why because I don’t know. Sure, many of you are awesome and can churn out those first time hits, but I know that for me it took several books before I started to become noticed outside of my circle in the Indie community. So, as I am coming up on 6 months since the publishing of The Road to Freedom, I am also starting to get more and more into the production of my next book.

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Enjoyed reading about my process? Be sure to follow this blog for a chance to read Chapter Excerpts from my YA, Historical Fiction 2017 Novel Project: 

Renaissance: The Nora White Story.

Dear Ms. Morrison,