Author: Allison Grace

The Importance of Taking Breaks: Recovering From Burnout 

The Importance of Taking Breaks: Recovering From Burnout 

As writers, we like to write as fast as we can and as much as we can. We often don’t know when it’s time for us to stop. We keep pushing ourselves and pushing ourselves until we can’t go anymore.

We give ourselves burnout.

Burnout is caused by continuously trying to write when you are out of mental energy or motivation. It’s the equivalent of driving on fumes. You can’t expect to finish a road trip if you floor it the whole time. You’ll need to stop and refuel a few times.

Let me tell you something from my own experience—it’s very hard to come to that realization and understand when you need to stop writing. We often get stuck on the mentality that if we just push through it will get better. But instead it just gets harder and harder until we just give up.

While there certainly are times when we just need to force ourselves to write, prolonged difficulty in our writing could be a sign of a bigger issue than just writer’s block.

“But taking breaks is silly,” you might say, “it’s easier to just ignore the struggles and just keep going. I’ll stop when I finish my project.”

Resting is essential for writers. Even if you think you can make it, if you are really struggling, it’s good to set aside your work for a bit. However, resting might seem counter-productive to the more driven of us writers.

But there are things you can do while on break that can refresh your mental energy and refill your writing “gas tank.”

Read

It’s very important for writers to read because it allows them to see what other people have written. Sometimes reading a book will spark an idea for fixing an issue in your writing. It is also relaxing and can take your mind off your writing problems for a while. (I do not recommend reading as a form of escapism.)

Be Creative

Many writers have found that doing something creative outside of writing helps rejuvenate them from everything from writer’s block to burnout. I like to crochet and play my instruments. Doing these activities helps take my mind off writing for a little bit and helps me to restore some of my mental energy. You could try finding a new hobby, baking a batch of cookies, or even taking your dog for a walk.

Watch TV

When I’m struggling with writing, I’ve found that watching movies refills my “well of inspiration,” so to speak. Movies and TV shows allow you to see stories in a different way than you do when you’re reading a book. When you’re watching TV, you hear the soundtrack and see the special effects, which, unfortunately, are not in books. But those details add to the story. You might notice how in a fight scene the camera focuses in on a particular detail and then get an idea on how that might help you next time you are writing.

 

I know some people (including myself), who can bounce back after a couple days. But fully recovering from burnout might take weeks or even months.

The key is patience. Give yourself grace and don’t pressure yourself when you aren’t ready.

Taking breaks will help you to write better and more efficiently. Stop to re-fill your tank. Otherwise, you’ll stall out on the highway.

 


 

Oliver’s Travels!

Oliver and Dicken's books
Oliver wishes I had bought a copy of Oliver Twist at the antique store, but alas, I chose my favorite (A Tale of Two Cities) and one I’d never heard of, but looked interesting.
Announcing New Blog Topic! + No Longer Slaves by Bethel Music

Announcing New Blog Topic! + No Longer Slaves by Bethel Music

You might have noticed the past few weeks I’ve been posting little devotional-type articles about Christian songs. It was partially an experiment and partially the beginning of a new blog topic.

And now I’d like to announce my latest blog topic: The Theology Behind The Song.

Why am I doing this?

If you are anything like me, you are almost always listening to music. Whether that is while you study, commute, write, or do chores, there’s a constant stream of songs pouring into your ears.

Those songs slowly seep into our minds and we can sing along mindlessly without really understanding what we are saying. Songs teach us many things—from the alphabet, to multiplication tables, to theology.

My goal with this new section is to help us all critically evaluate the Christian songs we hear on the radio. We need to be like the Bereans in Acts 17:11 who compared everything to Scripture.

I know this is a big swing from weekly writing articles, but don’t worry, I’ll still be posting about writing and reading.

 

We all struggle with fears. Spiders. Darkness. Heights. Rejection.

This song reminds me of Romans 8:31-39. The first verse reads: “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?”

Paul is talking about greater fears than spiders here. He’s talking about the fear of man—persecution, suffering, death.

“Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear, you are more valuable than many sparrows.” Matthew 10:28-31

As Christians, we shouldn’t live in fear of what man might do to us. We shouldn’t be afraid of being rejected by the world because of our faith.

Men cannot destroy our souls. They can hurt our physical bodies and torment our minds, but they cannot steal our salvation.

The chorus of this song reminds us that we are “no longer slaves to fear” but we are children of God.

We must live boldly for Christ, remembering that we are God’s children.

I think these lyrics are pretty sound in theology. Definitely a good one to listen to.

 


 

Oliver’s Travels!

Oliver reading LotR
Oliver is attempting to read Return of the King with me, but the one volume version of Lord of the Rings is a bit hard for him to handle.
Casting Crowns: Nobody

Casting Crowns: Nobody

 

This is one of those songs that’s so easy to sing along to without really understanding the words. How many of us actually are content being nobodies? How many of us can say if the world forgets our names after we die, we’re cool with it? I know I can’t.

As fallen people, we are selfish. We live so others notice us. We want to be remembered. Our lives are all about us.

But this song reminds us we are to live so the world can see Jesus in us. There’s nothing in us that’s worth admiring, except for the work Christ has done. We were saved by grace alone.

God choose the nobodies of this world to do mighty works for Him. “For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God.” 1 Corinthians 1:16-29

John the Baptist said, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30)

We must stop trying to be “somebodies” and focus on showing the world Somebody. Somebody so much greater than we could ever be. That Somebody is Jesus.

 


 

 

Oliver’s Travels!

 

Oliver and candles
Oliver thinks the candlelight makes him look mysterious.
No Pressure by Danny Gokey–Thoughts on the Song

No Pressure by Danny Gokey–Thoughts on the Song

I find it ironic that I’m writing about a song entitled “No Pressure” when I just started college and am dealing with all the pressures that come along with that.

In life, we are pressured continuously by friends, family, school, work, and our own expectations for ourselves. The weight of all of that can drag us down into discouragement and frustration.

What I love about this song is that it reminds us that we do not have to earn God’s grace. He gives it to us freely. We don’t receive grace because we were “good enough.” Before God awakened our hearts, we were all dead in our trespasses (Eph. 2:1).

Our salvation comes through God’s grace, through faith, not because of anything we did.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9 (ESV)

We could not have earned salvation because Isaiah says that “all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment” in God’s sight (64:6).

Salvation is all of God!

Even after we are saved, God continues to shower us with His grace and forgiveness. That does not mean, however, that we can continue in sin because we will be forgiven.

“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?” Romans 6:1-2 (ESV)

We are commanded to become more like Christ and seek to obey Him (1 Peter 1:14-17).

Next time you are struggling with all the pressures of life, take a moment to praise God that He gives you grace freely. We can always rejoice in our salvation, no matter our situation.

 

*A guy from church painted my hand for me. Isn’t it good?

 


 

Oliver’s Travels!

Oliver doing college
Oliver decided to help me get ahead with my college assignments. Thanks, buddy!
Pumpkins, Puppies, Pirates, and Professors!

Pumpkins, Puppies, Pirates, and Professors!

Fall has finally come! And with it come college classes!

You heard me right, I’m starting college. If you had told me a few months ago I would be going to college, I wouldn’t have believed you. In fact, I might have laughed. But after much prayer and discussion, my parents and I decided this would be the best route for me.

I’m getting a degree in English and Creative Writing through Liberty University Online. That means I get to stay at home and do all my class work on my laptop! No dorms! No cafeteria food!

I’m pretty excited about getting started! My first day is Monday, the 21st. Prayers would be appreciated!

Now onto the pumpkins, puppies, and pirates I promised…

 

Allison Grace the pirate

Let me explain the bandana. My brother and I are into Pirates of the Caribbean right now and his birthday theme was pirates. So I decided to “dress up.”

Simon with pumpkin

Simon tried to take a bite of my pumpkin.

Reese and pumpkin

Reese gave it a good spit shine.

Allison Grace with pumpkin

Then I got to carve it!

 

Allison Grace with pumpkin

I made Liberty University’s logo!

Oliver with pumpkin

 

Glowing pumpkins

What makes that photo so awesome are the phantom gnomes in the background. On the right is Jerome, on the left is Spurgeon.

Reese

We took Reese for a hike…

Berries

found some berries…

Woolly bear

and a woolly bear.

Oliver in tree

Oliver climbed a tree with gorgeous yellow leaves. This might be my favorite picture ever of him. 😍

 

Reese eating cake

We always share birthday cake with our dogs, and Reese has the funniest facial expressions ever. She loves to carry around paper plates. XD

 

And now, I have delivered pumpkins, puppies, pirates, and professors.


What do you like to do in fall? Have you carved a pumpkin yet? Does your dog like birthday cake? Have you ever seen The Pirates of the Caribbean?

Not Squirrels–Things We Call Distractions, But Really Aren’t

Not Squirrels–Things We Call Distractions, But Really Aren’t

A few weeks ago, we talked about my dog Reese who loves squirrels. I compared her obsessive focus on the furry beasts to a writer’s tendency to chase “squirrels” when he should be writing.

You can find that post here!

Eliana's graphic
My sweet friend, Eliana, made this graphic for me! Isn’t it gorgeous?

 

Today I’d like to address another problem that has come up in my own life. That is the subject of “not-squirrels” or things we think are distractions but actually aren’t.

 

God and Church

Do you know how tempting it is to skip or shorten your devotional time so you can go write? This particularly becomes a problem on busy days. It won’t really hurt anything if we skip it for just one day, right?

But church, quiet time/devotions, prayer, worship, etc. are NOT distractions for writing. Your faith is a million times more important than writing.

In the end, how much you’ve written won’t matter. Your faith will.

The happiness you find when writing is nothing compared to the joy you have in salvation in Christ. Don’t take it for granted.

 

School

Whether you’re in college, private school, homeschool, or public school, it’s very easy to see doing homework as a waste of time.

While we see benefit to literature and English classes—they directly influence our writing—other subjects, such as math, science, government, economics, history, and music don’t seem to be very helpful.

“How will knowing how to find the log of 15 help me with life? What do I care if Joan has a savings account with 1.2% interest compounded annually? Who cares?” That was my attitude towards math.

Even if there are subjects you hate, you still have to do them. Don’t slack on school so you can write.

This is coming from a master procrastinator. Since I was homeschooled, my mom made my writing part of my assignments. So I’d spend all morning writing then I’d be stuck with an afternoon (and early evening) of economics, Spanish, science, and all the other things I didn’t want to work on.

Yes, writing is important, but if you are a student, your school needs to come first.

 

Family

Spending time with your family is—guess what—more important than writing in the long run. You’ll be around these people for most, if not all, of your life. The relationships you have with them truly matter.

Take opportunities to hang out—watch movies, play games, go on a day trip. These life experiences actually will strengthen your writing.

 

Don’t mark these things off as “squirrels.” Because they are not-squirrels. These things matter. Don’t take them for granted or view them as burdens. They will shape and form you as a person and as a writer.

 


 

Oliver’s Travels!

Oliver and Allison
Oliver joined me at another band concert a few weeks ago! He’s not big enough to play any instruments, so he just sings along.
The Power of Words

The Power of Words

Words have rent nations, formed alliances, changed history forever. Two words bind one man and one woman in a covenantal relationship until death. They can build people up and they can tear them down again.

Words have power.

An immense power, even greater than that of an atomic bomb.

James talks about the untamable tongue in the third chapter of his letter. He compares it to a fire. Flames can provide heat to warm us and cook our food. But they can also consume entire cities.

See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell. For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race. But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. -James 3:5b-10

People handle fire with reverence and caution. But we throw our words around like grains of sand—unimportant and insignificant.

When we speak or write, we are handling a volatile asset. Every post on social media has the potential to inspire someone. Yet at the same time, if we aren’t careful, it can cause division between friends.

“When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.” Proverbs 10:19

We’ve all be told to think before we speak. But how often do we think before we write?

Whether written or spoken, all words have power. The ancient words of the Bible are just as important as they were when they were first penned.

Next time we are tempted to lash out with our words, we must stop and think.

We have great power at our fingertips.

But we must use it carefully.


Allison Grace blogs at allisongracewrites.com

8 Books I Want To Read This Fall

8 Books I Want To Read This Fall

It’s hard to believe it’s already fall! I’m more than ready for hot apple cider, sweaters, falling leaves, and all things plaid. (Others in my family are excited about all things pumpkin spice—coffee, popcorn, frosted flakes. 🤢)

As the weather gets cooler (or is supposed to, here in Ohio weather gets a little wacky), not much could be better than curling up with a couple good books and a steaming mug of cider.

I’ve picked out eight books I want to read before December.

 

The Titanic’s Last Hero by Moody Adams (nonfiction)

You might recognize this one from my 2019 TBR. I haven’t read it yet, but now seems like a good time. An encouraging true story is just what I need!

 

Jesus Freaks Volume II by dc Talk (nonfiction)

I can’t remember if I ever read the first volume, but I got this one cheap at a used bookstore. It looks really interesting.

 

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

I started re-reading this several weeks ago, but I got distracted by library books. *cough* So, I’m going to pick up where I left off and see how far I get this time.

 

Ranger’s Apprentice: The Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan

My brother read the entire Ranger’s Apprentice series plus the Brotherband books. He really liked them, so I’m going to give it a go. It’s not that long (250ish pages) so it should be a fast read.

 

Odessa Fremont by Michelle L. Levigne

Yet another book from my previous TBR that I haven’t read. XD This is a steampunk novel. Most steampunk is set in a Victorian-type era, but with steam-powered machines, weapons, dirigibles, etc. The back of this one mentions Abraham Lincoln and time-travel. (Kinda reminds me of this horrible story I wrote years ago about Abe Lincoln building a time machine and accidentally winding up in the 21st century. I think it probably ended with something blowing up. 😂)

 

The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien

I’M SO CLOSE TO THE END OF LOTR! The only thing stopping me is 280 pages.

I don’t expect to actually finish this before winter begins, but if I can get a good start, maybe I can finish it before 2020. XD I’ve been trying to read LotR for over a year now.

 

The Stolen Princess by Katherine Wilson

I’ve read this book before, but I never finished the series. Of all the books on my TBR, this is the shortest one. I keep talking about how short these books are, but it will take forever to read them. XD

 

The House on Foster Hill by Jamie Jo Wright

Back in August, I read The Curse of Misty Wayfair. Guys, it was so good! I was afraid of a Scooby-Doo ending, but it wasn’t like that at all!

This book will be a perfect spooky book to read in October. I’m really excited about this one!

 

If I get to at least starting all of these, it will be amazing. But hey, I love books. And I’m guessing you do too.

 

Your Turn!

Have you read any of these books? Which one would you read first? What is your favorite part about fall?

 


Oliver’s Travels!

Oliver with pumpkins
It was quite the struggle to keep Oliver from scratching the pumpkins while I took this picture.

 


Allison Grace blogs at allisongracewrites.com

Celebrate Small Wins!+A Poet’s Dictionary Release!

Celebrate Small Wins!+A Poet’s Dictionary Release!

context: The good guys (Snyder and co.) just captured one of the villains.

“A crooked grin slanted across Snyder’s face. He was having too much fun. But he deserved to celebrate a victory. They all did. It was easy to forget they actually succeeded sometimes.” – Checkmate

 

While I’m no longer working on Checkmate, I still like this quote. Why? Because it reminds me to celebrate small victories.

As humans, we get so focused on the destination (getting published, graduating college, etc.), we forget the journey. The individual steps that make the path to the end.

We forget the careful outlines, never-ending drafts, A+ assignments. We forget them all when we look at the destination.

But the tiny things build up to create big things.

We need to remember to celebrate the small wins. When we get another email subscriber after a month of silence. When we finish an article we’ve been struggling with. When we write a paragraph during our first week of college. When we reach 5k in our new work-in-progress.

When we recognize and celebrate our small wins, we fight discouragement. We see that we really are making progress towards that goal.

We remember that we actually succeed sometimes.

 


 

Speaking of achievements, my friend Havilah just released her debut poetry collection yesterday!

There were a lot of small wins that led up to this moment. 😉

A Poet's Dictionary by Havilah Gael

A Poet's Dictionary by Havilah Gael

I read most, if not all, of the poems in an ARC (advanced reader copy). She takes a word (like “sleep”) and writes a poem defining that word.

I thought it was an intriguing concept. I really enjoyed reading them.

Some of them have a darker tone, but the light shines through!

Buy a copy here!

 


 

Oliver’s Travels!

Oliver writes his story
I complain about my phone’s keyboard being tiny, but poor Oliver is dwarfed by this one!
Squirrel!–Dealing With Writing Distractions

Squirrel!–Dealing With Writing Distractions

Reese 

Our dog Reese has a concentration problem. If food or a toy is involved, she’s all ears. But when it’s time to go outside for you-know-what, every single thing is a distraction. Birds. Bugs. Kids screaming at recess. Power tools.

Squirrels.

Those furry little creatures have captured her attention for countless hours. We often find her at the patio door, watching them scurry around.

Reese watching squirrels

Squirrel

 

Squirrel stealing food

 

We all have our squirrels. Things that might be good, but take our attention from what really matters. Whether that is school work, Bible study, or writing, we need to learn to deal with and eliminate distractions.

I get easily distracted by my writing community. There’s nothing wrong being on a social media, in fact, it can have great benefit. But when it distracts you from what you should be doing, you have a problem.

Another internet sinkhole I’ve fallen into is research. A simple search of “How tall is an eight year old?” turns into hours of Googling ways to survive a bear attack. Very important to know when you spend most of your time indoors. 😅

How do you deal with the distractions of a computer/phone/tablet when you need to write on it?

 

Tip #1: Write on paper.

Writing on paper isn’t right for everyone. And you certainly can get distracted using a pencil. There’s nothing magical about this method.

I find that it helps me to concentrate on one project and keeps me from editing as I go.

 

Tip #2: Turn off the internet.

Disconnect yourself from Wifi. Turn on airplane mode on your device. Get an app like the Freedom App (I haven’t used it before, but I’ve heard good things about it).

Sure, you can easily turn it back on if need be, but if it’s simply to scroll through Facebook for “just a minute” or to look on Pinterest “for inspiration,” you might find yourself deciding not to click the “on” button. It’s a little reminder of what you should be doing.

 

Tip #3: Write before surfing the web.

Make checking your email or social media a reward for completing your writing for the day. Tell yourself you can’t watch your favorite bands’ music video until you meet your word goal for the week.

 

Tip #4: Make a research list.

Instead of stopping writing to look up how far a horse can gallop before it drops dead, make a note about it and keep going. You can go back and add in the details later.

Just remember to actually look things up when you’re done writing!

 

Whatever you decide to try, the only to way for it to work is for you to stick to it. Hopefully you won’t get distracted by squirrels any more.

Hey look! A squirrel! *runs off*


 

Oliver’s Travels!

Oliver and Simon
Simon was “thrilled” about taking part in this photo shoot.

 

Oliver and Oreo
Oreo was happier to be involved. At least, it was easier to get a picture with him than with Simon. =D