Preptober//Mastering the Brain Dump

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Oh hey there

 

I believe I have briefly talked about my love for brain dumps in my planner, or my use of a trigger list before in past posts about my planner system, but you still might be wondering, “What’s a brain dump?” or “What’s a trigger list?” so I decided to break it down and teach everyone what I know about this amazing tool!

The reason this is in my Preptober series is that NaNoWriMo is definitely a chaotic time for our brains, and this can really help bring that chaos out of you, and onto a sheet where it can be easily sorted out. I always find myself getting overwhelmed in November and this is really the only thing that calms me down.

So the first thing you will need is a notebook you take around with you all the time, or if you would rather, you can get one of those legal notepads and just completely chicken scratch it, and then input the important information you find into your bullet journal. For me, I use my older half used notebooks, so that I can use them up and store them after. A good example is this notebook below. It was formerly a school notebook for my last semester but I have decided to make it my brain dump book, whenever I need to write something out of my head, it goes in here. This is an extension of my brain.

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It’s just a simple composition book from Walmart, I got it in the summer before I went back to school.

The next thing you are going to want to do is take another piece of paper, and go through this master trigger list and write down all of the things that apply to you. The point of this is to write down only the triggers that you have to worry about, the less you have on the list, the quicker the brain dump will be, but be honest, don’t skip things just because you don’t want to make yourself think about them. Now I have been working on putting together a trigger list specifically for writers/authors, but it’s not finished yet, I’m thinking of making it a downloadable sheet, if that is something you’re interested in, please let me know!

After you write them on your piece of paper, find a way to attach them to your notebook, it can also work as bookmark! **If you plan on dedicating a part of your planner or a whole notebook to this, I recommend you create an idea index at the front, and colour code it so that nothing gets lost, because depending on how busy your brain is, this book can get super hectic (mine does at least!).**

 

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The next step is going to be on a daily or nightly basis. Every night I sit down before bed, and I go through my trigger list. Its a list of things that I need to make myself think about, pertaining to work, freelance, school and projects. I just write out everything that comes into my brain when I think about those things and about 6 pages later I am left exhausted and calm.
I do this at night because it helps me sleep better if I have nothing in my head to worry about forgetting.

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If there was one thing that I could recommend for you to do EVERY DAY, no matter what, it would be this. Honestly, this saves my sanity every day and I am so happy to share it with you. There is a lot of information online about brain dumps or mind sweeps but this is the best way that works for me!

Let me know if this helps you out at all and feel free to comment below with your brain dump systems!

mazie bones

 

 

Preptober// 8 Things To Do Before NaNo Starts

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Oh hey there

 

 

 

This post was originally written by me for a site called Sprint Shack that I used to write for back in college, I asked if I could use this post because it had a lot of really good points and helpful tips, and Cristina said it was totally fine! So here we go!

 

It’s that time of year again, when the leaves start to fall, the crisp air bites at your cheeks and all of the coffee shops are full of the smell of pumpkin… and crazed over-caffeinated writers preparing for the impending storm. Okay, that might be a bit dramatic, but for people like me, this is the month of readying yourself for the battle against a novel that seemingly never wants to be written. Ideas for stories or novels swarm my brain on a regular basis, but as soon as NaNoWriMo is in arm’s-reach, it’s like they go into hiding.

There are millions of things we suddenly remember while NaNoWriMo is in progress that we wish we would have thought about before–or, at least, that’s the case for me. So I took it upon myself last year to keep a little ongoing list of all the things that I should have done before NaNoWriMo started. Here are some things you can think about or start working on now to have a more productive November.

Find Character Inspiration and Names: 
We all know the struggle of character naming in the heat of the moment. Even if you are a “pantser” at heart, you know the time that building a character can take away from your word count. So why not do some minimal planning and figure out your characters before you have to stress about them?

Create/ Brainstorm your Cover Art:
If you are anything like me, you know the pain of going onto the NaNoWriMo forums and seeing all the beautiful cover art all ready in the signatures of all the eager and prepared Wrimos. You try to ignore them, but in the back of your mind, every sentence you write is backed up with an unbearable longing for your own cover. For me, it was my greatest downfall and distraction in the first week of last year’s festivities, and I will definitely be working on mine before November this year.

Research your Genre and Take Note of Any Applicable Conventions:
This is a great thing to do, especially if it is your first time writing within this genre. Knowing the conventions or other common features of your genre will really help you get in the groove, and it’s one less thing you will need to research when you get started.

Do the Math, Plan Your Numbers for the Month:
If you are a student or work full-time, you will need to work around your life’s schedule to win NaNoWriMo. The lovely word count tool on the website will try to tell you that you need to write roughly 1600 words a day, but for some people that’s simply not doable. So go through your schedule, find the best writing days, and try to amp up your word count on those days. This is also good if you suffer from chronic stress and need to give yourself a little break once or twice a week from novel land. If you need a few days off, just calculate that into your weekly numbers and make sure that you can make up for them on another day. The biggest part of NaNoWriMo is keeping a steady pace and making sure you take care of yourself and life outside your novel, as well.

Book Some Days Off for Catch Up or Damage Control:
This one kind of ties in with the last tip. Slipping and falling behind is pretty easy to do–life happens and you can’t expect the world to stop for NaNoWriMo (not yet at least). If you can afford to do so, I highly recommend keeping at least one day near the middle and end of the month dedicated to catching up. I personally keep a few days closer to the beginning of the month to get ahead so that I can focus on all my duties as a Municipal Liaison, and that works best for me.

Figure Out Your Goals and Rewards:
I’m a big believer in setting goals and planning rewards for when goals are achieved. If you are someone who finds themselves unmotivated often, then you should definitely set multiple short-term goals and rewards, such as for every 10,000 words written. But if you just need that one big push to get to the end, give yourself one big end goal and work towards that. Every year my reward is a winner shirt for the year and a big celebratory dinner with all the friends that had to put up with crazy-NaNoWriMo-me.

Prepare Your Inner Editor:
I want to talk more about this in a later post, but for now, I am going to explain what you can do to get ready for your novel frenzy month. Any seasoned Wrimo knows that the biggest word count killer is your inner editor. That little voice in your head that moves your fingers to that backspace button, makes you read back 8 pages, or convinces you to delete whole chapters. You need to start training yourself to fight against that little voice. I have some tips and tricks to help you beat it once and for all, but right now, you can start by practicing the ever so simple mantra “write now, edit later.” It will seriously change the way you write anything and everything. There are settings for you to turn off your word-processors editing tools if that helps you at all, but just start practicing, I promise it will make a huge difference.

Clear Your Workspace and Computer of Distractions:
Nothing is better than a well-organized workspace. All your references in order, the perfect little spot for your coffee… it all helps everything flow better when things are in place. I always make sure to clean up my computer while I’m in the cleaning mood. I hide all the distracting files or games in a folder and flood my desktop with motivational quotes and inspirational images or references. It’s really helped me out when I am looking around for something to distract myself.

How do you prepare for NaNoWriMo? Will you be trying any of these tips this October? Let us know!

mazie bones

Prep-Tember // Podcasts for Writers

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Oh hey there

 

 

 

I think I have mentioned before that I have been on a bit of a podcast rampage lately. Now that I’m working from home, I’m here a lot more, and as much as I talk to my cats, they never really respond so while my partner is at work, background noise is definitely needed. Sometimes it’s old episodes of The OC, sometimes its Spotify, but most of the time it’s a podcast. Though not all of my podcasts are great for writing too, some of my favourite ones are gaming or RPG podcasts, a lot of the ones I subscribe to are specifically for writers. So in this post I’ll be talking about my favourite podcasts to listen to while I’m writing, or if I need to get inspired to write.

Writing Excuses: 
“a fast-paced, educational podcast for writers, by writers. It airs weekly, with new episodes appearing each Sunday evening at around 6pm Eastern Time. Episodes vary in length from fifteen to twenty-five minutes, but are usually less than twenty minutes long. The tagline, “Fifteen minutes long, because you’re in a hurry, and we’re not that smart” isn’t super accurate, time-wise, but it’s a haiku so we’re keeping it.”

Welcome to Nightvale:
Now this isn’t a writer’s podcast but it’s a super interesting concept and I find the episodes really inspiring.

“WELCOME TO NIGHT VALE is a twice-monthly podcast in the style of community updates for the small desert town of Night Vale, featuring local weather, news, announcements from the Sheriff’s Secret Police, mysterious lights in the night sky, dark hooded figures with unknowable powers, and cultural events. Turn on your radio and hide.”

The Smarter Artist:
” Author entrepreneurs Sean Platt, David Wright, and Johnny B. Truant answer questions, offer quick tips, and deliver keen insight to help creative people who want to make a good living off of their hard work. In just a few minutes a day, we promise to help you get smarter faster.”

The Self-Publishing Podcast:
” Want to publish and sell more books? Want to get your writing into the world without contending with agents, publishers, or the other gatekeepers in traditional publishing? There’s never been a better time to make money as a writer — to take your books directly to readers and be in charge of your own business rather than jumping through hoops to please the Powers that Be. Full time authors Johnny B. Truant, David Wright, and Sean Platt (owners of the 2M+ words-per-year indie publishing company Sterling & Stone) explore everything related to getting your writing published… and making money doing it… in today’s new DIY digital publishing frontier. This isn’t artsy talk — it’s “authorpreneurial” business strategy that turns self-publishing from sideline into a rewarding career.”

Authorpreneur’s Almanac:
” Authors and innovators Sean Platt & Johnny B. Truant reveal the inner workings of indie publishing company Sterling & Stone, in a real time look at what works, what doesn’t, and what they learn along the way.”

Writership:
“We help fiction writers master self-editing skills, and we offer editing services to turn good stories into great ones that are well told and polished.
Our adventures are fueled by a passion to make authors proud of their writing and the legacy they’re building.”

Grammar Girl:
“Your friendly guide to the world of grammar, punctuation, usage, and fun developments in the English language.”

Sell More Books Show:
“The Sell More Books Show is a weekly podcast focusing on helping new and experienced authors stay up-to-date with the latest self-publishing and indie news, tools and book selling/marketing strategies.”

The Worried Writer:
” Most writers I know create their work despite being worried, anxious or distracted. You are amongst friends!

The podcast is stuffed with advice to help you overcome self doubt, fear and procrastination. We all struggle with these things, but there are tools and techniques that can transform your writing life.”

Magic Lessons with Elizabeth Gilbert:
” Bestselling author Elizabeth Gilbert returns for the second season of her hit podcast MAGIC LESSONS, ready to help another batch of aspiring artists overcome their fears and create more joyfully. This year’s guest experts include Neil Gaiman, Gary Shteyngart, Amy Purdy, Michael Ian Black, Brandon Stanton, Martha Beck, and Glennon Doyle Melton.”

Hopefully, this post helps you find a few podcasts that will help you get inspired. Are there any awesome podcasts that I didn’t list here that I should check out! Leave your favourites in the comments below.

mazie bones

Prep-Tember// Why I Use Scrivener

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Oh hey there

 

Today I want to talk about the application/word processor that has changed my writing career: Scrivener. I have been using Scrivener for over 4 years now and I am a huge advocate. In all of my writing ventures, be it creative or freelance, this is the processor of choice. If I mention my writer’s notebook, I’m usually referring to my ongoing creative binder in Scrivener, which is kind of top secret but maybe someday I’ll clean it up and do a post on it!

So here are some of my favourite features and some of the main reasons I use it so religiously.

Name Generate:
I love this feature so much! I didn’t mention it in the Character Names post I made yesterday because I wanted to save it for this one, but the Name Generator is definitely an awesome tool that helps broaden the horizon beyond all the way you can find names that I shared yesterday.

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Screen Shot 2017-09-27 at 11.40.38 AMThe Organization Tools:
I adore the fact that you can go to bulletin board mode and see all of your cue cards laid out. If any of you have followed me over from my old blog, you will know that I was an avid user of the cue card method of brainstorming and organizing, and having this feature helps me save a lot of paper. I also love the folder systems, and that there is an option to change icons on folders and files for better organization.

 

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Statistics:
When it comes to writing for work or during NaNoWriMo, I am very goal driven. I have a bit of an obsession with constantly tracking my progress and setting new goals, and that is just how I get some of my best work done. Having these statistic tools and daily targets is a huge reason that I love this program so much. It’s like every day can be a NaNoWriMo day.

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Editing Tools:
All of the tools in this drop bar have proven to be so helpful to me when it comes to writing. in the Writing Tools tab, it lets you check online dictionaries and thesauruses, which I frequently find myself searching for. There are also dictation tools, which are super useful, and special characters in case you find yourself creating a new secret language.

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All in all, I think that the program speaks for itself. I personally can’t live without it and think it is seriously life changing for writers of all sorts so it’s definitely worth trying the free trial to see if it works for you. There are so many other features to explore that I haven’t shared in this article, that you might find life-changing. Check out this link (not sponsored) to get your free trial today!

What word processor do you use and why? Is it your ride or die or are you looking for something new? How do you organize with it? Thanks for reading!

mazie bones

Prep-tember // Word Sprinting

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Oh hey there

 

Today I want to talk to you about a little thing that could save your novel’s life, it has certainly saved some of my writing projects. In my first year of NaNoWriMo, maybe 5 or 6 years ago I discovered the pure magic that is THE WORD SPRINT!

Word sprints originated in the Wrimo Community on Twitter and have been helping people reach their word counts ever since. A word sprint is when you sprint and write as much as you can in a set time! For example some people warm up in short intervals like 5 or 10 minute sprints. Personally I find my best word counts in 20 minute or 30 minute intervals. It’s not only invigorating to get so much work done in such a short period of time but it also just tells you a lot about yourself as a writer! I had no idea I could write 1000 words in 20 minutes until I sat down and sprinted it.

So right about now, you might be wondering, “How do I find a sprint?”
EASY! There are all kinds of hashtags put in place all year round but also mainly centred around NaNoWriMo and Camp NaNo that make public sprints super easy to find. Some of the best ones I’ve found are the following:

#getwordies
#wordsprint
#1k1h
#writingsprint
#nanosprint
#nanowrimo
#writeclub

I hope this helps you out with catching your word counts. Since I discovered how well word sprints worked for me, I’ve been using them for everything. I sprint my blog posts, I sprint my freelance work, I basically sprint everything. Something that has really helped with perfecting my sprint is keeping track of my sprint times/words written average. Having these numbers recorded can help me know how long I need to sprint for to get a project done. For example, if I know I have to write 500 words for a client, and my average is 500 words over 30 minutes or 250 over 10 minutes, I know that I should break up my sprints into two 10 minute intervals to get my project done. 

That could just be me over complicating something so simple and easy, but it’s what works best for me.

Do you work well under pressure? Have you tried a word sprint before or do you plan on trying it now? If you have any favourite sprinters or favourite hashtags for word sprints, share them in the comments below!

mazie bones

 

 

Fall Bucket List

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Oh hey there

 

I think I mentioned earlier in this blog that for the past couple years I have been doing seasonal bucket lists with my best friend Andrea. It’s by no means a strict list but more so just a guide line for what we want to get done during the season. Since Fall is both of our favourite seasons, we definitely are hype for this years list.

On one of our thrifting excursions, we found a copy of The Year of Cozy by Adrianna Adarme and we were super excited to incorporate some of those seasonal things into this list! The titles of the tasks might be a bit vague, but I’ll update them once each one is complete!

  • Homemade Chicken Wings
  • Wine & Paint Night
  • Go on a hike*       * or a short horizontal jaunt
  • Go apple picking
  • BAKE SOMETHING!  I baked Pumpkin Snickerdoodles, and Banana Bread and a Smores Pie!
  • Make Butternut Squash Soup!
  • Red Lobster
  • Crochet scarves and things! (ongoing)
  • Fall (HOME) Spa Day
  • Christmas planning
  • Halloween movies (Hallmark ones more specifically)

I’m going to try to plan some corresponding blog posts for every time we cross an item off the list. My prediction is that we are going to be trying to get at least a couple done each time we see each other since she recently moved a bit further away and we might not get to see each other as often as usual. Once I have the corresponding post for each task up, I will link it here so that it’s easier to find!

If you have any other cute suggestions for our Fall Bucket List, please leave them in the comments below!

mazie bones

How Habitica Changed My Life

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A frequent question that I get is “how on earth do you manage your time,” with all the freelance projects and personal projects I do. “It just seems impossible to have that much going on, but still have time to spend time with friends,” is another common statement that I get sometimes.

Truth is, I’ve always been kind of proficient when it comes to managing my time and keeping on track with goals and deadlines. But it’s not all me I promise! I always have my bullet journal or planner next to me, it has become my favourite tangible productivity tool. But aside from that, I have recently started used one of my favourite apps again!
Today I want to talk about an amazing App that has been keeping me in check lately, called Habitica! Formerly known as HabitRPG, this app has taken my productivity to a whole new level.

Here are the Coles Notes:

 

  1. Start a character: There are all kinds of ways you can customize your character, but if you don’t have time, just a basic character avatar will do! This is my current character!
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  2. List your habits and dailies: The app will come with a few examples of tasks that you can use, but if you’re anything like me, you’ll want to just clear all those out and start fresh with your daily habits to track and what not. I personally stretch these a bit and track a bunch of smaller things. (The more you check something off, the more coins you get in a day!) These features really do help with starting to build new habits, or break bad ones! Dailies are good for everyday tasks that you don’t want to keep putting in your to do section! Then just add any other to do list tasks as they come along. I sit down every morning with my BUJO and draft out a game plan from there, but now instead of wasting a page in my notebook, I map out all of my small tasks on this app and check them off as I go. More coins for me!

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  3. Set your rewards, use the coins you receive to buy new items or quests:  Obviously there needs to be some kind of compensation for being so amazing, so everytime you do something on your lists you get coins. These coins can be used to buy armor, items that bump up your abilities and other neat things. There are bosses and battles once you get into a party, and these items will totally help with that. A feature that I really like is that you can set it up to give yourself tangible rewards too, like episodes of game of thrones and what not.

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  4. Join a party, find some guilds or start a challenge: A great thing to do when you first get started is to find a community of like minded people to quest with. Quests happen within a Party. In order to get into a Party, you need to request or get invited to one, or just start your own, you can find a chat in the tavern full of people looking for members or looking to join a party. You can only be in one party at a time, but you can be in multiple guilds! Guilds are kind of similar to a party but they are more specified interest wise (At least that’s what I have noticed!) There are guilds for people who like bullet journals, guilds for people who like Gilmore girls, guilds for people that reward themselves with anime! It’s all here, and it’s all amazing!

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  5. Collect all pets and mounts: Also, while you complete tasks you can find random items. There is no way of controlling it, but these add that addictive collecting aspect that us app-users love. Basically, you can find eggs, potions, and food. Once you have an egg and a potion you can combine them to get a pet. For example, Bear Cub Egg + Cotton Candy Potion = Cotton Candy Bear Cub!There is a huge list of combinations that you need to try to complete! You can feed your pets to train them and boost their stats, but they only eat certain foods. IE. Pink pets can only eat pink food, and brown pets can only eat brown food… and every other colour is the same. It’s simple, but like I said, so addictive. Since the HabitRPG days they have added so many new pets, and I’m completely invested in getting them all.

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Overall, I love this app and it really does help make everyday tasks a little more fun. At first, I was worried that it might make productivity a bit distracting, but after I explored a bit, joined my party and settled down, it really is something that I can’t see myself living without now. It is a free app, there is the option to purchase in game currency which, to be honest, I definitely see myself doing in the future (the developers of this app are so amazing so I would love to support them), but you can play without it for sure! Check it out and let me know what you think!

Be Fearlessly Authentic

authentic

Oh hey there

Today I want to talk about something I’ve been thinking and reflecting on a lot lately. I, unfortunately, can’t remember the exact situation that got me thinking about it but I want to talk about authenticity. Not in any specific capacity, like in regards to social media, or online personas, though I do think those things are important and I will touch on that, but more so just being your authentic self and focusing on what makes you feel the most you.

Being authentic boils down to knowing who you are, knowing what makes you unique, and not ditching those things just because they might make you different.

I’ve been challenging myself to stay mindful about being authentic on all fronts. For me authenticity means:

  • being up front with myself and with others about what I like and don’t like.
  • asking myself “is that something I really want to do?”
  • not modifying myself to be loved or accepted by others.
  • not editing my life in a way to make myself seem perfect.
  • saying no whenever I god damn feel like it. (+5 points for feeling this sassy!)

I have been listening to all kinds of podcasts and e-books about well being and personal development lately, and one thing that they all have in common is that they all say you need to embrace your true self in order to be truly happy. The number of people I’ve heard talk about how much time they wasted trying to be something they weren’t was so insane, and it kind of shocked me into obsessing about being authentic and whether or not I was wasting my time trying to be someone I’m not.

When it comes to social media or just my online persona, I find that I constantly struggle with this internal conflict or belief that people deserve to know what I’m doing all the time, even when I really don’t feel like sharing something. That can easily be taken in a very conceited way, but I assure you that’s not what I mean. I don’t mean that people want to know what I’m up to, just that I feel like I owe everyone something…for some reason. Maybe that’s just my personality type? Maybe I should look up what my personality type is? (< true revelation just happened right there, actually though, I wrote it down in my BUJO! It’s a thing now!) 

So I’ve got a little bit of a plan aside from the list of things above, that is hopefully going to help me be more authentic, help me give less of a fox (see what I did there!? Am I allowed to swear here?), and hopefully help me kick these expectations of perfection when it comes to how I appear to other people.

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A while back when that Sarahahahaha.com site was a thing, someone left this comment on my page and it kind of just made me laugh because I really don’t feel that way at all. It may look perfect online because I don’t post the bad parts but my life is most definitely not perfect. Maybe this is what sparked this post topic…. I don’t know. Anyways, I hope that this post wasn’t too rambly or weird. But then again, I’m trying not to care too much about that!

Let me know if you struggle with these kinds of things or feel like you could be a little more authentic too, so I know I’m not alone!

Thanks for reading,

mazie bones

A Welcome of Sorts

Oh hey there

My name is Mazie, and this is the first post on this crazy new site. Basically in this post I’m going to explain what you can expect to see here, and maybe if you’re lucky a little bit about myself too. You might be here because you clicked on a link somewhere, you might know me, or you may have just stumbled upon it accidentally. No matter the way you got here, I hope that my content can inspire you a little bit in some way, or even just open your eyes to something new!

We created this site to act as some sort of safe place for my writing, thoughts and feelings; a place where I don’t have to worry about my career in freelance writing taking over. On this site you will be able to find any writing that I don’t plan to publish some day, including personal essays, poetry, short stories or just explorative pieces like rants, reviews or developmental lists.
I kind of have a bit of a list problem, which will become more apparent later on for sure. You can also expect a lot of writing process posts, art, inspiration and music posts, as well as posts about organization, how I keep my life from falling apart, along with my journey towards a semi-minimalistic lifestyle.

You may also be here because you used to follow TheseLittlePieces and if that’s the case, this is the part of the post where I explain how I lost momentum, motivation and just became overwhelmed by it because even though I was changing and growing, its tone and content stayed the same. One day I logged in to post something and it just didn’t feel like I belonged there anymore. So this is essentially going to be my new outlet for content like that.

Well I guess this is the part where I kind of tell you about myself a little bit. As I said before, my name is Mazie, and no that is not a pen name, it is my given name (its actually Mazie-Olivia) even though no one seems to think it’s a real name at all. I’m named after someone super super super old in my family who passed away when they were younger from pneumonia, back when there wasn’t really any medications to help cure it. Born in ’92, I am now 24 years old and not really happy that I have to get any older than this. I graduated from Journalism school a little over a year ago and I became self-employed in freelance writing and editing while I was still in school. I have had the opportunity to interview so many interesting people and I’m super pleased with my career so far. Just for fun, I also work at a really awesome thrift store in the heart of my favourite artsy little city.

When I’m not working I am most likely cuddling my adorable little feline creature Navi Bones, playing video games, reading self help books or beat poetry, writing sci-fi fiction or you know…sleeping? I live in a cute little apartment with my little cat and a guy named Steve.

For now, I hope that you will consider liking and subscribing to this blog and stay tuned for updates on social media links and other posts to come!

Thank you so much for staying to read my excessively long post about myself and I hope that you are having a lovely day, wherever you are in the world!(Leave a comment telling me where you’re reading this from!
That could be super nifty!)mazie bones