Welcome to SamanthaHolloway.com!

I'm a writer, a crafter, a nail polish mixatrix, a tea drinker, an unconventional life-liver, and a cool chick.

If you're only interested in one of these subjects, you can click on the links below and to the left to filter your experience!

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Friday, July 8, 2016

Here's the thing about creative work: it's really easy to NOT schedule it

...and therefore to never actually Get Stuff Done.

Back in the day, when I was a kid and just deciding I was going to be a writer, it didn't matter when I got stuff done. No one was reading it but me! Then, in college, people were reading it but it still didn't matter how disciplined I was, as long as I had something to turn in on time.

Grad school did teach me to be more organized--you can't write a whole 800,000 word novel without learning something about organizing it!--but as soon as I was done with school, I fell right off that lesson. Now, it's years later, and I'm back to trying to figure out how to balance living and writing.

Is there any writer who ever has this all the way figured out? If so, send them my way!

I use a monthly calendar, a weekly planner, and a daily docket, and usually, for most things in my life, that works great.

It doesn't work for creative stuff when I'm falling into the trap of waiting around for inspiration to hit. Like, at all. Because the thing about having a schedule is that it's really easy to only do what's on the schedule. And then it really easy to look at the other stuff and just be like: oh, well, there's no space; I guess that's not getting done now.

So here's the experiment in going to try for a few weeks: I'm going to schedule my creativity. I'm going to set up next week's schedule with a list of minimum actions on each of my projects--a chapter on Inkshares, a freebie on Patreon, a certain number of scenes in the novel, a level of planning in the other novel, etc--and I'm going to put them in the schedule and give them days. I'm naturally resistant to planning myself to death, but when I was in school, and the schedule was tight, I got more done, so I'm going to try to do that for myself. And in a few weeks, I'll come back here and tell you what I've figured out in this experiment. It'll be cool. You guys can be my accountability!

I've been coasting and waiting for too long, you guys. It's time to Get Shit Done and Share The Process!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

On self-soothing, centering, and processing

I've been thinking s lot about this tangle of things that help a person get through life: self-soothing, centering, and processing. A lot of it is because these are themes in 12 Monkeys, which is currently eating up my life and my brain space this close to the season ender, but also its a lot because I keep being reminded to think about them. I went looking for my daily quote from Danielle Laporte for today's planner page* and saw a post she did about coming back to center when you're flying off. We moved the Aftershow to Tuesdays to allow everyone to process what they've seen and what they feel and come back with actual comments rarer than just random conversation--which is fun, but which doesn't make for a very organized show.

So all this is on my mind.

I realized that I don't remember the things I used to do to soothe uneasiness and bring myself back to center. It's been so long since I've felt balanced and in control and happy where I was--I don't like talking about it, because it's a bummer and it still feels raw and personal, but I move to North Carolina four years ago in a deep depression, and everything that's happened since then has been sort of...disconnected. It's like a gap in my life and I'm just starting to come out of it. Just starting to reclaim myself and what's mine and try to remember what having a life feels like.

I don't remember what I used to do to feel better when things went bad, but I know that now I eat high quality chocolate, take long showers a hot as I can stand them, take naps, listen to my favorite songs playlist, paint my nails or dye my hair (or in extreme cases cut my hair or get a new tattoo), pet the cat, stand bare foot in the garden and try to do something useful like planting seeds or pulling weeds. I make lists. I journal. I plan things--usually books, but sometimes my life. I talk to S or to J or to H and try to remember what being calm feels like.

I think it's important that I keep a list of these thing for when I don't know what to do to feel better--a lot of times, that's the start of a Slide: not knowing what to do. I can't believe it's taken me this long to think of a contingency list!

And processing. Processing takes time, takes effort, and goes in pieces and fits and starts until one day things come together as you just go "oh. That's what that means." Or "oh. That's over now, it can't hurt me anymore."

You have to have space to process--there has to be a break in whatever you're dealing with so you can move back and look at it, separate yourself from the events and start to put them into context, into boxes that make sense. Making space during the thing is hard--most of the time, for me, I don't even realize when I need to until after its done and suddenly there's this pile of junk on my mental doorstep, waiting to be sorted and getting in the way.

But I've developed ways to work trough some stuff, too, to ease the burden and the pressure a little. The best one is writing--writing lets me come at things sideways and make sense of them without it having to be me who's going through them. Next best is journaling, and guided journaling when I'm really upset. I think in words on paper, and a lot of the time I don't really know what I'm thinking until I write it down.

There's also long walks while talking to my sister. Going somewhere quiet and just sitting. Crying, sometimes, because sometimes that's all you can do. Days-long texts with my packleader who lives too far away but always answers the phone. And watching my favs on TV sort through their own shit so that I can sort of do the same by proxy, that old idea that drama cleanses the soul.**

What do you guys do? How do you find your center when things go sideways? How do you soothe? How do you process?

And how do you use all that to help your lives, your stories, your creativity?

*I try to always have some inspirational or thoughtful thing on each planner page; it makes the world make sense better.
**Which, incidentally, is why good drama needs to exist on tv, and why it needs to include as many kinds of people as possible--everyone deserves the chance to get that cleansing!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

I know the world's not made for me...

...but I kind of think the way the world is made is stupid and I'm don't want to spend my whole life chipping off parts of myself to fit into a space someone I've never met decided to fit me into. If there even is someone who decides these things.

I know I can't be the only one. Creatives the world over and all through time must feel this. The feeling that we don't fit. The feeling that everything is made for people who value things that don't matter to us. The feeling that what we have to offer the world is not what the world keeps demanding from us. That's how you crush creativity, I think: constantly coming up against a world that tells us that our pride and joy, the things we spend all our time and effort on, don't matter enough to pay our way in the world.

It's exhausting, pretending you're not crushed by that. It's exhausting trying to do both, to make things and to survive. It's exhausting dimming your light so you don't stand out, just to get by.

And I don't think it's necessary. I really don't. If I'm going to be wrung out by making something, and then worn out by paying bills, I'd rather be worn out following my own goals than the ones laid down by random expectation. I think I always have a choice, and more and more, I'm choosing each time to be who I am.

I can make a life I want to live, and if it doesn't look like a standard life, oh well. I can make the work I do matter, by making thing that matter to me my work. My energy is limited and I'm not willing to waste it much anymore.

I just need to keep reminding myself that. And maybe reminding other people, because there has to be other people who would rather be living their own lives than ones handed to them, right?

So I'm choosing my life. Which one are you choosing?

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Daily Creativity - Setting up your life for being creative

This is something every creative person will say at some point when being asked about creativity, but since I keep having to be reminded, I'm saying it: to be creative, you have to e creative. Or, creativity breeds more creativity. Or, set up your life for creativity and you'll be creative!

Because, look, the average life doesn't really care if you're reaching your creative potential or if you're feeling inspired and fulfilled in your work, so long as you're doing said work and paying your bills, right? It's easy to narrow down to this place where that's all you're doing. So you (meaning, me, as well as probably you if you're reading this!) need to include chances for creativity in your daily schedule, and identify the stuff that makes you feel NOT creative, so you can head it off or compensate.

For me, these creativity-sappers are things like house chores (I really really hate doing laundry and vaccuming!), basic Adulting, and when I have pain flare ups. So I make sure that I don't schedule or plan any really important writing or crafting work on the days when I know I have to do some annoying and time consuming real life thing. On those days, I tackle smaller tasks, or I brainstorm for later, or I lower my expectations of myself from four decent pages to like one page that's allowed to suck as long as it happens and move the story forward. On my pain days--which can't be scheduled because they suck and are stupid--I pare down to only what absolutely needs to be done in life, and sometimes don't do anything creative on those days at all. Because resting and not producing is also part of the creative process, so that's fine. It's required. Flare ups like that tend to happen because I'm trying too hard or not paying enough to attention to myself, so I take them as signs that I need to cool it. It can be frustrating, but it helps.

Also part of setting yourself up for creativity: doing things. You've got to get new ideas in to get new ideas out. So schedule in time to daydream (call it brainstorming if that helps). Go check out new places and just wander around. Doodle or play with new apps or journal. Make lists. Read books and watch movies and watch tv--I hate the advice to eliminate tv because there's tons of good ideas and wonderful information there. You just have to be selective about which stuff you let sink into your head. Talk to people. Make things--especially if you're a writer, I think it's important to have side projects that are creative but use other parts of the brain, giving the word-parts a break but keeping the making-stuff parts active. Try new foods. Pet all the dogs you see. Ask questions and look up the answers. Find historical places and tour them. Talk to other writers and artists about how they do it, and try ther process to see how it works for yours.

Basically, make space in your life for creative things to happen, and then let them happen. A little at a time, a little each day, and one day you'll look up and have hundreds of ideas and dozens of projects and feel really inspired and connected--and that's what we all want, right?

The hard part is just remembering how to live it like we mean it!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Guest post and infographic - How to Turn Your Writing Skills Into a Successful Career

Today, we have a guest post from Matt Banner from OnBlastBlog.com!

How to Turn Your Writing Skills Into a Successful Career (Infographic)

I knew at a very young age that I wanted to be a writer, and I know that’s true for many of you as well. Now that we’re older and looking for a career, it’s time to turn our passion into something that can propel us into the future.

Today I’ll show you how to create a website and use it to build a writing career for yourself. You’ll also find an infographic below that gives you numerous tips and strategies for pursuing the career of your dreams. Let’s take a look!

Building Your Career as a Writer (Infographic)

Being a successful writer is about more than writing books. It’s about promoting yourself, standing out from the crowd, and ultimately bringing together a following of like-minded fans who wait with bated breath for your next release.

A great way to keep fans coming in between books is to start a writing blog. It may seem counter intuitive to write while you're writing, but it will go a long way towards reminding fans that you’re working hard to bring them the next story that will capture their attention.

Even if you only publish a real post every once and a while, it will give your fans the update they so desperately need and want. Start by creating a blog to pitch ideas to your readers and keep them updated on your progress.

Check out the infographic below to learn more about what it means to be a successful writer and how you can start building a career for yourself. Let us know how it helped you in the comments below!

ETA: Go here to see a bigger version, since my blog seems unwilling to post the pic as it is!

Friday, June 3, 2016

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Linkery - May 26, 2016 at 02:56PM

from Twitter https://twitter.com/pirategirljack

May 26, 2016 at 02:56PM

Linkery - May 26, 2016 at 02:20PM

from Twitter https://twitter.com/pirategirljack

May 26, 2016 at 02:20PM

Linkery - May 26, 2016 at 01:36PM

from Twitter https://twitter.com/pirategirljack

May 26, 2016 at 01:36PM

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Linkery - May 24, 2016 at 02:38PM

from Twitter https://twitter.com/pirategirljack

May 24, 2016 at 02:38PM

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Linkery - May 17, 2016 at 04:42PM

from Twitter https://twitter.com/pirategirljack

May 17, 2016 at 04:42PM

Monday, May 9, 2016

How not to write

There's literally hundreds of posts a day talking about how to write. Everything from big fancy posts to tiny detailed single-skill posts.

This is the opposite of that.

This is a litany of all the things that can keep a person from writing, all the things I've learned about this past year while I haven't been writing enough, and I know it.

  1. Have your life implode around you.
  2. Have stress run so high that you can't think about anything but the next item, and make sure the next item is always something more important than scribbling words on a page.
  3. Develop a chronic health condition--one that involves pain and / or brainfog is especially useful for not writing.
  4. Wait so long between writing sessions that you feel like you've forgotten how you do it, that you've forgotten what you were doing to begin with, and make sure that it gets so awkward that you then put it off longer.
  5. Overthink everything, especially if the need to get it right keeps you from doing it at all.
  6. Lose the thread of the story over and over again.
  7. Start new stories and abandon them after a few pages or a few chapters instead of finishing the original story you were writing all along.
  8. Waste time because your mind can't focus enough to work.
  9. Cry about it a lot.
  10. Compare everything you're doing to everything you love and come up short, so that you feel like a fraud.
  11. See the basics of your idea already published, or read a book that is so totally something you would have written if you'd gotten there first, and soak in the discouragement that brings.
  12. Worry so much about building a career that you can't actually get the work done that a career is built on.
  13. Forget how to daydream and let your mind drift under the weight of all the stress.
  14. Stop brainstorming and keeping notes. Stop keeping pen and paper next to your bed. Stop waking up in the middle of the night to scratch down ideas in the dark.
  15. Read less and less.
  16. Get so overwhelmed with the weight of everything you haven't been doing, that you keep not doing it.
  17. Slowly drop all your other creative endeavors until you're at your lowest common denominator of yourself.
  18. Doubt yourself. Doubt everything.
  19. Don't take the risk of letting anyone see your work; feedback and encouragement will just make you want to write again.
  20. Give up, over and over and over again.
And there's more. There's always more reasons not to write than to write, and it's easy to just be another person who used to write. 

But that's not me anymore. I'm getting back on this dragon.

Wish me luck.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Reasons why I'm itchy

  1. The summer is an awful time for having sensitive skin
  2. It keeps swinging between crazy-hot and kind-of-cold, and it's messing with my internal thermostat
  3. I'm apparently very tasty to every biting insect within ten miles, now that it's warmed up enough for them to come back
  4. I'm allergic to common household items now?? 
  5. And clothes???
  6. Sweating is the worst
  7. My pain disorder manifests as whole-body itching when I'm not actively hurting, which is SO NOT THE BEST OMG
  8. I haven't been keeping to my diet well enough to not be all up in arms in all my systems
  9. Metaphorically, I'm really restless and want to go somewhere new and interesting, and that's kind of an itch in my brain
  10. POLLEN, bane of my existence

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Monthly Me - May 2016

I had a really good April--I got to sell my stuff to actual people who's faces I could see, and I got to meet Felicia Day and didn't die or pass out or anything, and my favorite show came back. May has lots of awesome geekery lined up, and I'm back to working with my friend to crit stories (once a month to start, since we're both slow and behind on everything), and at the end of the month is my birthday.

But still I'm starting May feeling like a train wreck.

I think it's because of how little sleep I got last night. Summer is not kind to my poor itchy skin, and the weather is all over the place--crazy hot and humid in the same week as like 60s and dim. Back and forth, like it can't decide, and it keeps throwing me off.

This month's goals are all about recentering, though. Getting back to creativity. Getting back to how I know I need to live--especially with eating and moving, two things I tend to forget to do. Remembering to look up and pay attention to the world. Remembering to get stuff done so I can move forward. Because I know I've said it every month, but I really am done with not liking the life I have, and I'm gonna force the world to give me the life I want!

I'm also getting back to Beacon, finally, now that the craft fair is done eating up all my attention, and I'm aiming for the end of June for that publication. I really like Beacon, even though the book is being such a pain in my butt, and I hope you all like it as much!

I've been bringing back all the stuff I used to like doing that I haven't been doing because I've been so miserable--book reviewing, TV reviewing for TVGA. Listening to music. Writing, Drawing. Writing letters with actual pen and paper and stamps! I love real mail.

I'm working on expanding my shop, and getting back on that ol Dragon of Inspiration, and despite the train-wreckiness of this particular day's headspace, I feel like it's a thing I can do.

What're your goals this month?

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Dispatch from IG - April 30, 2016 at 11:33AM

You guys, I love this woman so much. #samireadsbooks2016 #booksread2016 This puts me at 14 books in 18 weeks, so I'm only 4 behind my goal! via Instagram http://ift.tt/1SVzztr

Dispatch from IG - April 30, 2016 at 11:24AM

#booksread2016 #samireadsbooks2016 Sometimes you just have to re-read childhood favorites, ya kno? (There's one more to go!) via Instagram http://ift.tt/1XZH80n

Dispatch from IG - April 30, 2016 at 11:07AM

I don't remember where I got this comic, but I love it. via Instagram http://ift.tt/1SBfXZz

Dispatch from IG - April 30, 2016 at 11:04AM

Another good one of the Ultron nails! #mcu #marvel #incidentaltwin #itflashback #nailpolish #fandomnails #fandompolish #etsy http://ift.tt/1abYRXD via Instagram http://ift.tt/1TlrCYR

Dispatch from IG - April 30, 2016 at 11:03AM

Hey look! It's that Ultron polish I made! #itflashback #incidentaltwin #nailpolish #fandomnails #fandompolish #etsy http://ift.tt/1YY1PKx via Instagram http://ift.tt/1SBfXch

Friday, April 29, 2016

Dispatch from IG - April 29, 2016 at 11:37AM

I feel like my mini-bottles are getting smaller, but they still look good! #Repost @manisandmakeovers with @repostapp. ・・・ Incidental Twin by @pirategirljack "On NZT", with @delushpolish DP02 stamping plate and @mpolishes Carol & Frost Go to link in bio for more info. 💖 #nailart #naildesign #nailpolish #nails  #manicure #manicures#mani #art #design #polishlove  #nail#naillove#nailswag #naillovers #nagellack #naildesigns#nailartdesign#nailartdesigns #thenailartstory #nailpromote #nailporn #nagellack #nailaddicts #indiesrock #indieswatch #indiepolishaddict #indie #indiepolishnailart #hpbloggers via Instagram http://ift.tt/1O0moAc


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