Show Up for Yourself

Does word count matter? 

If you are a creative writer of any kind, this can often be a very, very important question to ask yourself. It's December (almost Christmas!! Yayy!!!) and many of you participated in November's national Novel Writing Month. During writing challenges such as these, word count can often become a significant stressor.

I was chatting with my sister Abbie (who also participated in this year's NaNo) recently about word count and whether or not we should be setting emphasis on it as writers. We had a great discussion - one that sparked the idea for the video you'll find just below.

Remember, we write to communicate a good story, not simply to get as many words down on paper as possible. Sometimes we don't need as many words as we think we do to achieve this, while other times we may need more...there is no right or wrong.

Let word count be a prompt when it comes to challenges such as NaNoWriMo, or perhaps goals you set for yourself - but let the true GOAL be to up. Show up for your book and show up for yourself. If you do that? Your project is already a success.


• showing up > the amount of words you write
• writing a story that MATTERS and that will make a positive impact is way more important than how long it is.
• Your readers don't care about how many words are in your book. They care about engaging with a wholesome and compelling story that will linger in their minds and hearts long after they've closed the covers.

Now it's YOUR turn! Do you keep track of word count? What's the #1 most important goal you've set for yourself with your writing? How do you maintain a healthy relationship with word count? Let's chat below in the comments!

Merry Christmas, creative souls!

A bit about the new book...

...Yep. I wrote a prequel. I think we all knew this was coming, I mean? Could I really stop talking to these characters? Could they really stop talking to me?


I just posted a new video on my YouTube channel revealing the title, cover, what it's about - the whole nine yards, you can find that below. And the best part: it JUST went live on NetGalley. and you are formally invited to be on my launch team! Here's how:⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
1. Watch the video below for all the details⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
2. Grab your FREE copy on NetGalley (again, link in bio)⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
3. Leave a quick, kind, & honest review on NetGalley and Goodreads when you're finished.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

Join the launch team & grab your copy here!

For a bit about the book itself...

14-year-old Ion Jacobs just wants to belong to a family and feel normal. But his past is a mystery, his future is a question, and his whole life is about to change.
Tossed from one foster home to another and shadowed by his mysterious past, Ion fears he’ll never fit in — until one day, when he drops a pencil and instead of falling to the floor…it floats.
Shocked and bewildered, Ion searches deeper and discovers an undeniable truth about himself: he possesses extraordinary powers beyond his control. Healing injuries, levitating objects, and superhuman strength come as easy to him as breathing. Now Ion only has one goal: make sure no one finds out what he’s capable of.
Struggling to keep his newfound abilities a secret, Ion finds himself more isolated than ever — until he meets a mysterious stranger in the woods who seems to understand Ion better than anyone else. As tensions rise at home with his new foster family, Ion finds it harder and harder to control his powers. And when he accidentally sparks a fire that nearly destroys their home, Ion is forced to face the reality of his situation: not only is he capable of healing — he’s also capable of fatal destruction.

I'm not going to say anymore, I'm going to let the book speak for itself. Needless to say, I am extremely stoked, none of this would be possible without your support, and I hope you can join the launch team for Anomaly because I would absolutely LOVE for you be part of this journey!

The novel is out 4.7.2020! As always, stay updated by following Here To Create, or my Facebook.

Can't wait to share this story with you!

stay stoked,

3 warm winter teas for writers

The weather has turned cold and snowy (yes!) here in Vermont already, and my days are currently being spent squirreled away in my office, bundled in cozy sweaters, peering out the rain/snow spattered windows as I type myself ever closer toward the end of my current novel. The wind howls and tugs the last of the brown oak leaves from the places where they struggle to cling, and the wild geese crash their wings against the cold water and white caps cresting the surface of the lake.

This, my friends, is tea weather at its most ideal.

And it's inspired me to not only share with you three of my favorite tea recipes (the warm, sweet nectars I guzzle on the daily, and which spawn many afternoons of inspiration) for the chilly season ahead of us, but to make a video about it! (With pretty b-roll and all...even if I do say so myself...)

I can ardently vouch for the fact that these three lovely hot drinks make rather sweet writing companions. So below you'll find a video in which I whip up all three, and even farther below you'll find recipes for all three drinks so that you can whip them up yourself.



1 cup of plant based milk
1 cup of water (or two cups of plant milk if you would like your tea to be especially creamy) 
1 cinnamon stick broken in half
1/2 a teaspoon of turmeric
1 tablespoon of maple syrup, 
1 teaspoon of vanilla and 
3 earl gray tea bags 
¼ cup steamed/foamed plant based milk
Pinch of ground cinnamon (garnish)

Add ingredients to a small sauce pan on medium heat. Keep stirring to prevent scalding the milk, and remove it from the heat when it begins to boil. Strain into your favorite mug and enjoy it as is, or top it off with steamed plant based milk and sprinkle with cinnamon.


2 cups of water (or to taste, depending on how strong you like your tea)
1 ginger root
½ - 1 teaspoon of honey
2 drops of organic liquid stevia (optional)
¼ cup of steamed/foamed plant based milk
Ground ginger (garnish)

Peel and chop a generous handful of ginger and add it to two cups of boiling water. Let it boil for at least an hour, then remove from the heat and strain it into a mug. Add about half a teaspoon to a full teaspoon of honey, and a couple drops of organic liquid stevia. Stir and add foamed almond milk and sprinkle with ground ginger.


1 gallon of water
20 black peppercorns (to taste)
About 17 cardamom pods 
20 whole cloves
3-4 cinnamon sticks
6-7 organic black teabags
1 teaspoon of maple syrup 
¼ cup of steamed/foamed plant based milk
Pinch of ground cinnamon and nutmeg (garnish)

Bring about a gallon of water to a boil. Add about twenty black peppercorns, a handful of cardamom pods after popping them open, about twenty whole cloves, one large chopped ginger root, and three to four sticks of cinnamon. Let all of these ingredients boil together, uncovered, then reduce to a simmer and add about six or seven organic black tea bags, and let steep on low heat for at least an hour. Later, remove the tea bags and fresh ingredients and strain into a mug, mixing in a teaspoon of maple syrup and topping with foamed plant based milk. Sprinkle with ground cinnamon and nutmeg.

What's your go-to warm writing drink on a cold autumn (or early winter, like we have here in Vermont) day? What are your favorite mix-ins for a good cup of tea? Comment below, I would love to hear!

stay stoked! (and warm)

7 SELF CARE habits for NaNoWriMo

There's so much more to writing a novel than simply getting stoked up to write, or fleshing out the themes and plots of our books.

What actually makes us creative? What gives us the inspiration and drive to write a book?

That, my friend, would be how we look after ourselves mentally, physically, and spiritually.  What we do in every area of our lives matters - and effects our ability to create.

I've wanted to make a video about mindful self care for creative writers for a while now, and I thought what better time to share it than "preptober"?

I know a ton of you are getting ready to head into a month of fevered writing, but don't forget to prep more than just your novel. It's so incredibly important to also show yourself some TLC. And I hope this video will provide you with a bit of inspiration to do just that!

What is YOUR favorite SELF CARE practice? Tell me below, I would love to hear it! 

stay stoked!

Sparking Global Change through Creative Writing - Interview with Author Rebecca Pillsbury

If you've been following HTC for awhile, you probably know by now that, aside from writing stories, I'm absolutely passionate about environmental issues and making the planet a healthier, safer place for everyone who calls it home. You might even have seen the film I co-produced with my sister Abbie via our non-profit organization, Blue Freedom.

Making the film was an absolutely wild journey, an experience I will never forget and one that impacted me in more ways than I can possibly fit into a short blog post (let me know in the comments below if you'd like to see a seperate blog post about the film sometime!) If you haven't had a chance to watch Voiceless, you can do so for free right here on YouTube.

So needless to say, when marine naturalist and award-winning memoirist Rebecca Pillsbury reached out to Abbie and I about interviewing us for a book she was working on called Guided By Whales - a stunning compilation of colorful, artfully written stories of artists, activists, authors, filmmakers, marine biologists, naturalists, nonprofit administrators, and more who have dedicated their lives to advocating for cetaceans, we were thrilled by the privilege to be a part of it.

Needless to say, I am totally stoked to now be able to welcome Rebecca to Here To Create to share not only about Guided By Whales, but also to contribute to a very important conversation sparking in the writing community: how we can use our craft to create change - in our own communities, and on a global scale.

Kate: Rebecca, when did you first begin to write? Is it something you’ve always been into, or did your environmentalism draw you into the art?

Rebecca: I began writing as soon as I learned the alphabet. I kept a journal and entered writing contests starting in elementary school. At the same age, I started becoming passionate about environmental issues. However, I didn’t combine those two interests until I wrote my most recent book, Guided by Whales.

Kate: What’s the story behind Guided By Whales - were there certain events that inspired the idea for the book?

Rebecca: I had the book brewing inside of me for a long time. After I wrote my first book, a memoir, it became clear that I’d found my calling—and that I had what it takes to complete a full manuscript. After writing my own story, I felt it was a natural progression to write about other people’s life journeys, in the context of themes that deeply inspired me. My second book was a story compilation about the healing power of blues music and dancing, but even before that book was complete, I had Guided by Whales in mind. I found it profoundly enriching to interview people from around the world while conducting research for Saved by the Blues, and knew I wanted to follow that same format for my “whale book.”

There were already so many books out there about whales in general—their migrations, what they eat, how big they are, etc. but what I felt was missing were personal stories about what whales mean to people. I knew from my own experience that seeing them in the wild could be life-changing; I wanted to try to articulate the spiritual transformation that can occur by simply seeing a whale from shore. With all of the threats facing whales—and the environment in general—I felt driven to make people fall in love with them as much as I had, because we can’t hurt the ones we love.

Kate: I’m a huge believer in using art to create change. I would love to hear, in your own words, what your thoughts are on this concept of using art to make a positive impact on the world.

Rebecca: I feel that we live within a society and political climate that aims to divide us, rather than embrace what we have in common. The human experience is universal; art makes people feel. Music, art, literature, dance—these things bring people together by inviting us out of our minds and into our hearts and spirits. When we make decisions from that space, having a positive impact on each other and the world is inevitable.

Kate: So many of us are becoming aware of the fact that we need more eyes on the issues our planet is facing - and more hands to help. What are some ways you think writing in particular can help make a global impact?

Rebecca: I feel that once people become aware of threats, to our planet or otherwise, they are inspired to help in the ways that they can—when it is a topic that hits close to “home.” Unfortunately, media and news platforms often speak of issues in terms of statistics, told through the lens of a particular political or corporate agenda. To me, creative writing—whether it be for a book or a blog—feels more thoughtful and human than what’s written or spoken about in the news and is therefore a much more powerful source of influence and opportunity to get “eyes on issues.” People feel more inspired to act when they have a personal connection with the animal, person, or place in need of help. Writing can share the story behind a statistic.

Kate: please take this question for whatever it means to you: how do you feel that whales have spoken to you, and how do you feel they have guided you on your journey with this book?

Rebecca: Whales are our planet’s wisdom keepers. They have existed on our planet far longer than humans, and therefore have the luxury of intergenerational knowledge going back millions of years before us. I feel there is so much we can learn from whales, if we simply observe how they live (many of those lessons are written about in the book). By observing them, I suppose you could say they have “spoken” to me; they have inspired me with their trust in us, even though we have so degraded their habitat and in some cases hunted them to near extinction. I also have the whales to thank for “introducing” me to so many wonderful people in the whale advocacy community—such as you, and your sister Abbie.

Kate: I think a lot of people look at these big, messy environmental issues and then at their own creative talents, but don’t really see a connection between the two. Having written a book that seems to throw a lifeline to some of the world’s largest mammals, what are some ways you think creatives can use their talents to help the planet?

Rebecca: there are limitless opportunities to use creative endeavors to help the planet! Whatever one’s preferred form of expression is—whether it be writing, painting, dancing, songwriting, photography, film, etc.—it can be channeled to spread a message. Guided by Whales talks about people having done everything from becoming a “real-life” mermaid, creating a “wall” of origami whales, painting murals, to creating documentary films. Art tells a story; what story do you want to tell?

Kate: what advice would you give to writers who are starting out, who want to use their books to make a positive impact?

It’s never too soon to start making connections! Especially if your book is written with the intention of having a positive impact on others and the world, there are people who are going to be eager to support you—don’t be afraid to reach out and, humbly, ask for their support.

Kate: where can we find you and your book?

Rebecca: Guided by Whales is available at the Whale Museum in Friday Harbor, WA, the Langley Whale Center in Langley, WA, and the Whale, Sea Life, and Shark Museum in Depoe Bay, OR, among other local bookstores. It is also available on Amazon. More about me and my other books can be found at Duende Press.


  • Art makes people feel. It brings people together by inviting us out of our minds and into our hearts and spirits. When we make decisions from that space, having a positive impact on each other and the world is inevitable.
  • Creative writing—whether it be for a book or a blog—feels more thoughtful and human than what’s written or spoken about in the news and is therefore a much more powerful source of influence and opportunity to get “eyes on issues.” Writing can share the story behind a statistic.
  • there are limitless opportunities to use creative endeavors to help the planet! Whatever one’s preferred form of expression is—whether it be writing, painting, dancing, songwriting, photography, film, etc.—it can be channeled to spread a message.
  • It’s never too soon to start making connections! Especially if your book is written with the intention of having a positive impact on others and the world, there are people who are going to be eager to support you

A massive thank you to Rebecca for sharing with me and HTC community about her stellar book. Be sure to go grab your copy!

stay stoked!

5 bits of advice for my starting-out self

I published my first book in the summer of 2017. I'm always saying that publishing doesn't change anything, because it doesn't. And by "anything" I mean the heart of the writer, because I've written more unpublished books than published ones, and even if I never published another book again, I would keep the habit up. Because its more than a habit, it's a love and a passion.

But choosing to have a writing career is, like all other creative careers, very demanding and time consuming. And if I could snatch a Tardis and travel back in time, there's a few helpful scraps from some proverbial and no doubt very ancient advice book I would give myself with greater gusto, having now published three novels.

Here goes:


There's no rush. There really isn't. By chance, I recently heard the quote: "there's nothing in life worth rushing over" - to which I immediately snorted and thought "oh, yes there is." But then I began to think about it a little more deeply - mainly about the definition of the word "rush." Rushing a process usually isn't a good thing, in fact the very practice has given us these great quotes like "haste makes waste." I began to look at the things in my life I would normally deem worth rushing for, putting in all the extra hours, cramming late at night, and all to make it happen when I think it should happen - doing all that I can to expedite a thing just so that I can plant my proverbial flag when it's all said and done and declare that I got it done within the timeframe that I wanted to. Just reading that sentence makes me cringe. The best things, the true things, the most creative things, they cannot be rushed, pushed, shoved, and expedited - and often when we do this, we lose a whole lot more than we gain. So don't rush your writing; let it happen...unless you're actually working under a hard deadline that is actually being imposed on you with consequences attached, then what's the big hurry? Write good, slow-cooked stories. Let them come as they will; write them as they reveal themselves and publish them when they hang heavy on the cognitive vine like a ripe, fragrant piece of fruit - and not before.


Being a published indie author is a very demanding and time-devouring career. Think cookie monster and you've got the right imagery going. Telling stories takes a lot of time and energy, and in order to tell stories well you need to make sure that you're preserving your time and actually carving out that space for yourself regularly. And that's a lot easier said than done, because nearly everything will attempt to come between you and your writing - things like networking and marketing and so on (all such blasted dull words). Don't let them. Delegate time to do the things you need to, yes, but don't let it all edge out the one thing that actually made you choose this path in the first place: writing. The art of using language to hitchhike your way through the hearts and minds of your readers, and impact their lives in a positive way. This is why we do what we do. In Hollywood portrayals, it's when they publish and get busy that the storyteller completely loses track of why they started, takes to heavy drinking, and proceeds to chase futile goals. Don't let that happen. Remember why you started and protect the reason: keep writing stories no matter what. No matter what, find a way.


This one tags along well with the first on this list - not rushing it. While you're taking your time, try your utmost to enjoy it. Savor all the little things: the quiet afternoons of pounding out words over a cup of tea, the conversations you have about the book with family or a close friend. Enjoy the flavor of your story, the characters. Ask yourself questions about your story - press it from all sides and see how each little moving part holds up; ask what truth, what mystery, what kind of an impact your story brings to the table. Enjoy the experience of writing, of making a new world, having the ability to make up people and places, invent new planets, technology, animals - geez we can do some INCREDIBLE things through the art of telling stories! Enjoy it more for goodness sake!


This is where the crooked paths straighten, and the unfocused bits come in crystal clear and technicolor. If ever there was a time not to rush things...this is it. Edit like there is nothing else that needs your attention; shut off from everything else, eliminate distractions, and really lean into this beautiful process of getting more in tune with your own voice to ensure that your story is actually communicating what you truly desire to communicate. This is where your dream really begins to spread its wings: this is a vital time. And if you embrace it, it will teach you more about your writing than anyone or anything ever could. It will shape you, speak to you, and take your hand as you continue on this path. It will become a disciplined, warm-hearted companion in the craft. Though editing your own work may sometimes seem endless and grueling, it's worth every moment and every ounce of effort, and your writing will thank you for it. Your next book will thank you for it. 


Whenever I'm asked what kind of advice I would give a writer who is just starting out, I say the same thing that was said to me quite some time back. A dear friend told me to keep writing, and I listened. And it's one of the most important things I've ever done. If you feel stories burning inside of you, it's really not that big and complicated - find ways to tell them. Write them down. Even if you're busy, even if your life is a big up, down roller coaster, find a way all your own to tell that story. And then, just like that scene from Rebel in the Rye, "write another one, and another one, and another one." Just keep writing. That's the most important part of all of this, without which nothing else matters: the marketing, the blog tours, the community, the fans, the blog posts, the social media - it's all swirling vagueness. It's meaningless. The writing is the electricity that powers it all. It's the lifeblood. So no matter what, no matter what...keep writing.

Now it's YOUR turn...what's a piece of writing advice you wish you could give your starting-out self? I would LOVE to hear about it below.

stay stoked...and keep WRITING!

mastering your weekends

I find a lot of value in taking breaks - in stepping back from the work zone, breaking out of that headspace completely, and finding new perspective. Because often, it's very easy to lose perspective, isn't it? We get so wrapped up in what we're doing, and it can be a wonderful thing to have something that you genuinely enjoy so much that you lose yourself in it, but it can also become a dangerous thing when other things that are of greater importance slip out of our priority zone because of it.

Things like properly and lovingly taking care of ourselves, spending time with our loved ones, looking for and discovering new ways to help a planet that is deeply in need of love and care. When we become so caught up in our own to-do lists, sometimes these things, without our even noticing it, seem to slip into the background noise.

For me, taking a break, stepping back, that's how I remind myself that life doesn't exist within work, work exists within life, and oh man is life expansive: it's vast and multifaceted, and it demands our full attention. And sometimes, in order to give our whole lives the attention it needs, it becomes necessary for us to take a step back: to take stock, reexamine, reorganize.

If you've been around on this blog for a bit, there's a good chance you've heard me talk about going off grid, unplugging and getting outside, getting away from work and the internet, etc. But over the weekend I was thinking about how this isn't always practical, and it doesn't usually need to be a drastic move.

What do I mean by that?

I mean that we don't usually need to drop everything and disconnect from our work for a month to go live in a beach hut in Bali. Though...honestly I'd be down...BUT, my point is, when the goal becomes regaining perspective and fostering a healthy relationship with your creative work? I believe there's a more sustainable way to cultivate this as a lifestyle, not just as a once a year getaway.

And this weekend, as I was out with my husband, grabbing a cup of coffee and a bite to eat in a bookstore cafe, it hit me: get intentional with your weekends.

In fact, master them.

The weekend, for most people and even entrepreneurs, are typically when we stop working and take a breather. But when was the last time we got super intentional about what we were going to do with our weekends? And I'm not talking about making plans to binge watch something on Netflix.

So often weekends simply mean "no work." They are in essence, an absence of something. And, well...that's it. "No work."

...Now what?

What if we got super intentional? What if we used these two days to really hone in on what would replenish us, body, mind, and spirit, the absolute most? What if we were deliberate about how we spent this time, and how we used it?

See, sitting there in that coffee shop, laughing and talking with my husband, it made me realize: this is it. This...this is life. All these little moments are the fabric that makes up reality, the most important things - not things at all, but faces and hearts - these are the most important parts of being alive. And even though I enjoy working hard, I need, need, need, to not get so caught up in the ever popular "grind" that I lose...this. The most important part. The sweetest thing. The cream filling of life.

I want to work hard and enjoy it, but I also want to always, always, always be aware of the fact that there are a few things that are more important than what I make: things like spending time with people you love, making memories with them, helping others, helping the planet, volunteering our time to a cause - all of these things are what fuels what we do. Take that away and everything we make falls flat, because it's missing a very important ingredient: life.

So I encourage you to take your weekend and get super intentional with it. Use it to gain perspective, to refuel, to breathe and take stock. To remind yourself that your craft is a part of your life, your life isn't just a part of your craft. So enjoy, savor, go out for a coffee with someone you love - replenish. We don't have to take a massive block of time to unplug, we can do that sustainably and consistently every single week by mastering our weekends, getting intentional with them - treating them as a sacred space...a place in which we can be reborn.

And perhaps even use them to take a step back and look at all the things we have cool that is, how creative we are, how wondrous and beautiful a privilege it is to even create in the first place. Maybe we should take a little pause and just think about how grateful we are for that.

What's your favorite weekend ritual? What is one way you would like to get more intentional with how you spend your weekends? What's one thing that replenishes your soul and helps you gain perspective?

stay stoked!

The time in between - 5 methods for finding time to do the things you LOVE

It's become commonplace to hear someone say "I'm so busy," or, "I just don't have any time." But the truth of the matter is, we all have time and plenty of it. We each wake up to a completely full new day each morning, we all start out with the exact same thing. We simply choose how to use it.

But this is easier said, isn't it? I mean, if it's so simple why is it that we often feel like time completely gets away from us as creatives? Why is it so difficult to find time to do all the things we want to do, and accomplish all the things we want to accomplish if we have plenty of time?

Let's get this out of the way: sometimes we are genuinely busy, I'm not belittling that at all, and that can actually be quite fulfilling and even fun. But to me, there are different kinds of busy. There's the type of busy I personally prefer to simply call "productive" and then there is this cluttered, chaotic feeling of general busyness - the kind where you feel like you are on a treadmill: constantly running, and yet getting nowhere, lacking time and energy to do even the things that you genuinely love.

If you can relate to that second descriptor, you are definitely not alone, I am right there with you. I too, often find myself wishing that there was just a bit more daylight, so that I could fit in yoga, practicing French, and listening to an audiobook while I meal prep. I deeply dislike the mainstream rush, and that terrible feeling of the days and weeks just slipping through your fingers. In fact it's led me to take another look at my lifestyle and how I go about my every day.

Let's keep this really simple and return to the idea we just talked about at the top of the page - yes, sometimes we are genuinely busy, but that usually isn't a constant, and if it is, it won't be sustainable for long. Most of the time what we're actually facing is a time management issue: we're not able to get the things done that we wanted to, or perhaps enjoy the activities and hobbies that we had hoped to enjoy, because we haven't struck on a balanced schedule - we may not even schedule at all.

If we all start out with the same amount of time in a day, that means we can use this time however we want to, and if we find that we're not able to actually do the things we had really desired to, we can change the way we are going about our day to day life.

Now, there are many ways to do this - from calendar blocking, to bullet journaling, the list goes on and on, but I'm only going to tackle one mode of time management today: managing the time in between.

Everything from learning a language to making coffee to walking my dog, these are all things that I enjoy doing in between the things that I need to get done each day; the things I do in between my creative workflow.

So often we look at our booked schedules and sigh about how busy we are, and how we have so little time to do things we genuinely enjoy, yet we're often only looking at the time that's blocked out for work. What about the time in between? What about that empty block of time first thing in the morning, or just after lunch? What about our free evenings, or our days off? What about the time we spend commuting?

Added up, all of these "empty" blocks of time make up a rather large portion of our days, weeks, months - lives! To overlook these precious parts of our schedules is to waste great opportunities to grow, learn, and enjoy a balanced lifestyle. Often, these in-between gaps in our schedules are filled unintentionally with things like watching videos on YouTube, scrolling through social media apps, etc.

While these resources in and of themselves aren't bad, it's become commonplace in western culture to squander time on social media to the point of it not only not serving us, but making a damaging impact on our lives. (Whole other post for a whole other time.) Some apps have even implemented trackers to help us gauge how much time we spend on social media, because according to studies the average American will spend nearly an hour a day on Facebook, an hour watching YouTube videos, and nearly an hour on Instagram. Of course these are averages and don't apply to everyone, but these are real numbers and real reports - and that equals out to around nearly 3 hours of our daily lives!

You can do a lot with three hours.

That extra time you need to learn a language, or start that new hobby? That space you wish you could create in your schedule for working out or spending time with family? Those couple of extra hours of sleep you wish you had - or that reading time you really crave?

Maybe if we became more aware - hyper aware - of what we are spending our time on and where, we would actually have more time than we realize. Maybe we would be astonished at just how much we could actually accomplish (including that hobby or project we've been wanting to start for ages) if we became intentional not only with the things that we have to do each day, but with the time in between.

So, where can we start - and how?

#1 Become hyperaware. When you find yourself going down an unnecessary time-consuming rabbithole, catch yourself.

#2 Make a very simple, straight forward list of a few things you would really love to spend time on, and then, when you catch yourself wasting those little bits of in between time, turn to this list. Pick one of the things listed and get started, even if you spend just a few minutes doing it. I've found this very helpful for learning French.

#3 Calendar block. My sister got me hooked on calender blocking - I was skeptical at first, but learning how to use this resource has been a massive help when it comes to alleviating that dizzying feeling of chaotic, anxiety and busyness. It's a wonderful way to be able to see everything you actually have to do, just how much time it will take, and how much time you have to do other things, laid out in a cohesive manner. Most of the time I find I'm surprised by how much free time I actually have to work with. (Side projects here I come!)

#4 Prioritize. Take a good look at the list you made, as well as your schedule and take a crack at prioritizing the most important things. Oftentimes I find that I've placed too much emphasis on something that could be set on a backburner for the time being with no damage done, giving me the freetime I was looking for to tackle something else.

#5 Don't be hard on yourself. Weeding distractions and unnecessary or even damaging time-sucks out of our lives takes time and practice. So try to find the fun in the process, embrace the trial and error, and laugh at yourself when you catch yourself going off on a bunny trail. No need for self-deprecating words. ;)

So there you have it: a few ways I am currently trying to get my own personal schedule more free, clear, and easy-breezy. :) Now it's your turn: are you a super scheduled guru, or are you an adventurer who flies by the seat of their pants? What's your favorite time-management tip? I look forward to hearing from you down in the comments. 

stay stoked!

a few words on resurgence (which releases tomorrow)

I just finished reading the final book in my series for the last time before it's release this weekend. I sat in my parents sunroom for hours - the same room I've hidden away in to read ever since I was a little kid - and finished the book for the final time before I officially give it to the world.

Every time I've written a book and published it, it's felt very special, each in its own way, but this one is a bit different: it completes the series, and with that comes a certain gravity. A good feeling in my middle, not one of finality, but one of at last reaching the starting point. Both ends of the circle have met. The adventure has begun.

The Blood Race series and this book specifically mean more to me than I could ever endeavour to describe. They are light. They are healing. They are hope. They are the words I couldn't find. What I feel on the edge of the wind, or when I paddle out into the ocean, or when I stare up at the mountains. This series, for me, is a journey.

I hope this series can give you a perhaps unforeseen journey of your own. One drenched in meaning and joy and hope. I hope it can be for you whatever you need it to be.

Friday I released a video in which I read my favorite parts from all three books and say a few words at the end. Making this video was an emotional process; I'm glad I did it because it really encapsulates all of my hopes for not only Resurgence, but for The Blood Race series as a whole.

All that remains now is for me to say thank you. Thank you so much for being here, for reading, for supporting me in so many ways. For your comments and messages. Thank you to those who have been on my ARC teams, and to my patrons supporting me through my Patreon page. I could NOT do what I'm doing that without you, and I hope you know deep, deep down how much I mean that.

Thank you for making this book a reality.
Thank you for helping to make my dreams come true.

The book goes live here at midnight tonight. I hope you grab a copy. <3

stay stoked and keep dreaming big!

the threads and the tapestry

no matter how bleak the world can often seem, don't stop creating. if you're a writer, keep writing. if you're a speaker, keep speaking. if you're a painter, keep painting. if you're doing something to make the world a better place, please, please, please keep doing it. keep doing it because it's not "just". it's not just a hobby or a thing you enjoy, it's something that's going to help heal the planet and everyone who lives here. 

there are so, so, so, many people and places who in desperate need of  h o p e . we need it. there's not a single place you can go on this planet that doesn't need it. and we actually possess the ability to give it as a gift to the world, to someone, through whatever it is we are working on. our gifts, our talents - they were given to us for a reason. not to keep to ourselves, but to shed just a little more light.

i'm honestly convinced that if every single one of us realized this - if we lifted both hands and let the light shine out through our fingertips?

w e l l ,   i   t h i n k   t h e   w h o l e   w o r l d   w o u l d   b e   a   s  u  p  e  r  n  o  v  a .

it's a's a big, big something hiding in the undertones of all that is good, all that heals, all that helps; from good music to a kind act - there's threads weaving it together into a larger tapestry that we're standing too near to see. but it's  s o   b e a u t i f u l , and it means  e v e r y t h i n g 

i can't help but feel like that's one of the greatest reasons that we live: to add our very own, eternal threads to this thick, colorful, fragrant tapestry - and to stand back and truly see it. to see that our threads helped make it.

so don't stop creating.
don't stop creating please.

you have no idea how much your gift matters; how much you have to give. how much it means and how beautiful it is.

y o u   h a v e   n o   i d e a   h o w   m u c h   s o m e o n e   m a y   n  e  e  d     i   t  . 

stay stoked, keep creating,

the afternoon ritual: 5 ways I find grace within the "grind"

As creatives, we work hard: we pour ourselves out again and again and again. Starting a business as an entrepreneur, or writing a book, or an album, or creating something entirely new - it all takes patience and effort. Many late nights, many early mornings. It's not a bad thing either, working hard - in fact, I love it. There's a feeling of fullness that comes from a good day's work; tiredness in a good way. Something about it feels so good, and it seems to help us sleep better.

But it's equally important to remember that we need to pause from time to time, whether that be by heading off grid for a trip away from screens and all things digital, or finding little ways to bring peace and mindfulness into your everyday work routine. 

I've personally found that learning to take breaks...well, it takes practice. But it's important and necessary for our creative and physical wellbeing. 

There are many ways to find the grace and stillness within your workday, but one method that has become a particular favorite of mine is developing what I'm going to call an afternoon ritual: something that you do smack in the middle of your day. Something that completely extracts you from the normal patterns of your workday and throws you into an entirely different headspace. I've found this to be an extremely refreshing practice that not only causes me to savor the sweet undertones of each and every day, but also helps me to achieve a greater sense of clarity to carry into the rest of my work.

It can be tricky, especially for creatives, to stop working because we generally love our work...but it's so extremely important that we avoid the trap of becoming so entwined with our work that we begin to associate with it too closely. Taking a break can be a wonderful way to remind yourself that your value as a unique being is not dependent on how much you work, or what you create. Yes, creation is an outpouring of our being...but on days when we make nothing, we are still valuable, loved, and fully alive.

Here are a few ways taking a break in the middle of my workday - finding afternoon rituals - has helped me to remind myself of exactly that. 

#1 - tea
In my family, a cup of tea is much more than a cup of tea. It's a deeply loved and respected afternoon ritual; a warm or iced beverage that goes far beyond flavor and extends an invitation to gather, talk, and commune. This is the nectar shared over the messy manuscripts of my youth, this is the comfort that embraces me on the long, cold, Vermont winter days. Tea is a respite. Making the tea itself is a practice of mindfulness, whether it's organic black tea sweetened with a touch of Vermont maple syrup and almond milk, or if it's brewing a big pot of yogi tea on the stove, the practice itself brings me into the moment: gathering the ingredients I need, smelling them, tasting them. Boiling the water. Or, if I'm making yogi tea, slicing sweet yellow ginger into long, fragrant slices, popping cardamom pods to bring out their earthy flavor, counting out spicy auburn cloves - watching all of these dance together in the swirls of boiling water. Tea is best when shared, and even more delicious when paired with good conversation or accompanied by a good book. Tea is a sweet way to step back and...steep. ;)

#2 - yoga
Yoga brings you fully and completely into the moment. I've practiced yoga for years now, and it would probably take a few very lengthy blog posts to spell out just how much it's done for me and how many positive ways its impacted me. Yoga is not only a great workout and a wonderful way to expand your lung capacity, it's a spectacularly peaceful way to reunite with your innermost being and find a place of stillness, a place where work and everything else is placed into a box and set aside, allowing you to completely and totally clear your mind. There's so much liberation in the coming back every day to carve out this time and space for you to To move and breathe in the present moment and forget everything else. It's a wonderful way to pause your day, to take a break from work, recharge and find the energy you need.

#3 - learning a language
This is one that I want to coordinate into my afternoons more regularly. According to many studies, learning a second language actually helps your brain to grow, become better at multitasking, and increase memory. In other words, learning a language is like doing a refreshing workout...except for your mind. I've found that studying a language, even if it's just for fifteen to twenty minutes in the afternoon, can be a great way to hit the reset button; it throws my brain into a completely different way of functioning, and it can feel so good to step out of the normal, every day groove and change it up. Not to mention you'll end up fluent in another language eventually, which is pretty cool too.

#4 - getting out of the house
This one's really simple and straightforward: sometimes you just need a change of scenery, and if you work from home, getting out of the house can be a helpful way to force yourself to step back from the desk and take a breather. I highly recommend nature walks. I can't remember the last time the sound of songbirds and the whisper of the wind in the tall, swaying pines didn't inspire me.

#5 - learning martial arts
For me, martial arts is similar to learning a language - and if you attend or ever have attended a dojo, you've probably discovered that there actually are some language learning aspects paired with the physical practice of learning a martial art. Again, this could and eventually will require a post all its own, breaking down just how important a part of my life martial arts is, but for now I will just say that, among the many, many benefits it bestows, there's nothing quite like taking a break from the desk to step outside and do kata barefoot in my driveway with only the sky above to watch, and the trees to help me keep time. I would recommend learning martial arts for a million good reasons, but for the purpose of this post, if you're looking for something that sort of blends the benefits of yoga and language learning, this might be a perfect ritual to adopt for a midday refresh.

So those are a few of my favorite things to take a break for in the middle of the day. Each is special to me, and each helps me to stay charged in different ways. If you're looking for ideas to help you create a practice of carving out some time for yourself and bringing a little grace to your work day, I hope these inspired you to do a little experimenting! 

Now it's your turn - what's your favorite way to take a break? What's something that makes you feel super rejuvenated after doing it? How does it help your creative work? 

Have an inspired weekend and week ahead, sweet soul!

stay stoked,

stop caring

stop caring about what other people think about what you make.
if you're making something
or doing something
just to gain someone's approval?

ditch it.

find your story and tell it: tell the real story that pulsates inside of you.

if you're doing something to make the world a better place and someone doesn't love it, maybe you should just stop listening. maybe, to an extent, you need to stop caring.

caring about what
of what you make

will do nothing good
for you
for the world
for anyone

as a creator there is only ever
one thing
that you need to do:

get quiet with yourself, ask yourself why you're doing what you're doing:

because you love truth? because you want to make the world a better place? because you have this thing burning inside of you and it HAS to be given a voice?

good. awesome. you're on the right track.

so what does it matter what other people think? be so busy creating that you don't even have time to THINK about the opinions of others. you don't do what you do for them. you don't make what you make for the approval of someone else.

you make what you make because you have to. 
because you have no other choice.

you create because it is an outpouring of your being.

and external opinions

take what's constructive from those who love you,
take what builds you,
take whatever serves your soul.
and hit the mute button on the rest.

keep making your thing, beautiful creator.
keep speaking,
keep putting yourself out there even when it's sometimes painful,
even when its hard.

that beautiful thing that you're passionate about creating? you're passionate about it for a reason.
don't let anyone take that light away from you.

take a deep breath, put the ear plugs in, keep your focus out in front
and keep creating.

stay stoked,

tracking my morning routine for a week: what I learned

Waking up is the most important time of day, I think. I believe that when we first open our eyes, stretch, take a deeper breath, and begin a new day, we reach a very pivotal moment; we are starting our day. 

Wow. How often have we taken that for granted? each day, each and every one is a gift. the fact that we get to live and enjoy and move and shape and change - wow. How can we help but be filled with gratitude when we actually slow down and realize this?

How we start our day is often how we're going to live our day. Each day is significant. Each day is important, and should be treated accordingly. 

Lately I've been thinking a lot about this: how I start my day. I've begun to draw back to see the larger image and to ask myself if I'm honestly doing it right: am I launching into each new day with the respect and reverence it deserves, treating it like the exciting new opportunity that it is, or am I just letting today happen to me - merely reacting to whatever happens to come my way?

Morning routines are important, but I don't even like to use the word "routine" because it's so overused and attached to all sorts of other imagery like videos about how to do makeup and what kind of coffee to make. 

Shall we call it mindful, or purposeful actions instead?

It can be a wonderful thing to establish a few things that you can go-to first thing in the morning without having to think about it. Quite a bit of research shows that it takes around thirty days to establish a habit, and whether we realize it or not, we all have morning routines already, be it reaching for your phone to check messages, or turning on the tv without thinking.

But because this is the most pivotal part of our day - the moments that will actually help shape the rest of it - bringing mindfulness into what our immediate actions are after opening our eyes is a lot more critical than we may realize. 

In his commencement speech, Denzel Washington expounds on the importance of starting your day with gratitude, Former Navy SEAL and author Jocko Willink speaks heavily on why he starts his day early in the morning and implements a routine, and just a quick youtube search will yield oversaturated pages of morning routines and ideas.

This is obviously something that a lot of us are drawn to, and I think that's for a purpose. I believe that how we start our day is so important, and as I've began to pull back and analyze this a little more, I've seen quite a few benefits from this in my own life.

In July, I spent a week keeping track of my morning routine - anything and everything I did before I started my workday. By late morning or afternoon, I took stock, made some notes, and looked back on what I did. What I found? One thing was consistent, and we'll unpack that in a minute. First, here's a look at my notes from that week:

Day 1:
- cold shower
- applied essential oils
- meditated
- prepped lemon water and coffee

Day 2:
- cold shower
- applied essential oils
- had coffee and meaningful conversation

Day 3:
- cold shower
- essential oils
- coffee
- meditation

Day 4:
- coffee and quality time

Day 5:
- coffee and quality time
- reading time
- meditation

Day 6:
- cold shower
- essential oils
- coffee
- walk in nature
- meditation

Day 7:
- cold shower
- essential oils
- coffee
- reading time

Looking back on my week, I began to notice that one thing was consistent about my "routine" and that was how much it changed and fluctuated. I expressed my leeriness for the word "routine" earlier, and that's because, as a creative, I personally shy away from routine; for me, doing the same thing every single day, over and over again can often feel boring and even stifling. In the past that dislike played a large part in my failure to stick to any particular routine. I like the unknown - it gets me out of bed in the morning. I like to wake up each morning to a new adventure, not necessarily a planned out schedule.

Whether you are a planner or a "pantser" in life (and both are great!) I think it can be really healthy to establish structure, but also be open for the unknown, the gentle sway of each new day. 

(I wrote an entire post a little while back about rigidity vs structure, and distinguishing the two, and I also made a video about scheduling in time to be, well, unscheduled - and how important that can be for us as creative beings.)

So if you're a creative who finds sticking to a specific routine as tough as I did (I'm right there with ya) this is for you:

it's not so much about doing the same exact things every day as it is identifying the general things that help you to begin your morning the happiest and healthiest.

My point? instead of vowing that you will make and drink a super healthy green smoothy each day, why not simplify that to eating a healthy meal of your choice, and having some fun with what that could be, depending on your mood, and how much time you have?

Or maybe you want to start your day with a workout routine, and you've selected a list of exercises to do each day; perhaps change it up with yoga, or going for a run or walk, and maybe substitute that with stretching and listening to an audiobook on the weekends.

Or maybe you just want to have some peaceful time to yourself: change that up too. Focus on the fact that this is time for YOU instead of the thing itself. Whether you want to read quietly, meditate, or have a long, fulfilling conversation with someone you love over coffee, it's not so much about doing that same thing every day as much as it is respecting this daily practice of carving out time for yourself. I like to call this sacred time. 

So if you've been as intimidated by the word "routine" as I have, or have struggled to stick with doing a particular regime each and every day, try flipping the problem on its head. Remember the purpose of the morning routine in the first place: to help you have a happier, healthier, and more fulfilling day.

Whether it's the need to get active or get quiet, or the desire to set aside time for reading or spending time with family, identify a few things that add fulfillment, value, and clarity to your life, and establish a few things that address those needs, rather than tailoring your day to a specific bullet-point list. And if you're a super scheduled person, changing up your morning like this may be a nice refresher that will help you plan with a greater sense of clarity.

a few things to avoid:
- screens: phones, televisions, computers, etc.
- work. (remember, this is setting the tone for your day: take some time to fill the cup before you dive in)
- any avoidable stress 

And, as always, this all roots back to self respect, self love, and being kind to yourself. How we treat ourselves is important, and I think that first thing in the morning is a very good time to show our minds, bodies, and spirits some love. Not only is it healthy, but it will actually fuel everything you do. Creativity stems from happiness, not the other way around. So go ahead - make a list of things that make your heart absolutely hum! And then build your morning around those things. Let purpose fuel your morning, not bullet points on a list.

Alright, that's enough from me - what about you? Whether you feel like you have a morning routine or not, what are the first three immediate actions you take each morning? Stretching? Picking up your phone? Do you have a routine? I would really enjoy hearing about it + chatting in the comments below! 

stay stoked!