Celebrating 1 year of blogging Q&A // On writing, blogging & life

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Hello everyone!

How are you all doing? Ready for another round of Q&As?

Last week I answered your guys’s questions about reading and books. Today I will be talking about writing, blogging and life! Super excited to get started πŸ™‚

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Blogging

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Any advice or tips for a newer blogger? (Jasmine @ Jasmine’s Reading Blog, Ivy @ Ivy’s Well Used Library Card, Sumaiya) / If you could go back and offer the Sophie of 1 year ago one piece of blogging advice, what would it be? (Beth @ Reading Every Night)

First of all, I still feel like a blogging newbie so I’m not feeling qualified to give blogging tips! However here are my two cents:
  1. Get involved with the community! It is one of the best aspects of blogging. Make sure to blog-hop and comment back – these are so essential for building great friendships on the blogosphere. Tags are fun too.
  2. Write honestly. If everyone in the world seems to love a book that you’re not fond of, don’t be afraid to say it. (However make sure that you are tactful and do not criticize the author)
  3. Write what you love. Are there any genre(s) that you love? Any books or characters that you want to fangirl about? Do you have a hobby outside of reading, like writing, TV shows or something else? Write about it!
  4. Keep at it! Don’t be discouraged comparing yourself to others. If you make posts consistent and put out great content, your blog will be noticed.

If I could offer myself a piece of advice a year ago, it would be this last one. When I began blogging, I was impressed but intimidated by bloggers who had a much bigger following, and I thought, “wow, there is no way that I will ever get there.” The key is to keep going, not give up, and *try* not to stress about stats πŸ™‚

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What is the best thing you’ve discovered through blogging? (Beth @ Reading Every Night)

The community! The blogging community is so encouraging and positive. I never ever had a negative comment in the last year that I’ve been here. I love that I discovered so many amazing books from the community, and that I got to know some fellow bloggers well.

Favorite social media? (Annie @ Annie Likes Words)

Other than WordPress, Twitter is my next fav. I love conciseness, so 140-character (or now, 280-character) tweets are perfect for me. I also love that Twitter helps me stay up to date with worldly news- never would’ve known about Laurel/Yanni otherwise.

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How do you organize your blogging life? How do you balance work, life, reading, blogging, and writing? (Marie @ Drizzle and Hurricane Books, Zoie @ Whisked Away By Words, The Book Loving Pharmacist, Annie @ Annie Likes Words)

It’s hard, isn’t it? We all have competing priorities that are important but much less fun (like school! or work!)

What works for me is to create a schedule and stick to it. This is my blogging:

  • Sunday: Write 2 blog posts for next week. I make sure they are all tee-d up with graphics and everything.
  • Monday, Thursday: Publish my blog posts in the morning.*
  • Tuesday, Friday: Blog hop, which includes commenting back and catching up on my newsfeed.
  • Every day: Reply to comments.

I read on my commute every day and usually a little bit before bedtime. I try to write everyday (but it doesn’t always happen.)Β I always say “yes” to get-togethers with friends and coworkers, though I re-organize my blogging, writing, and exercise schedules around it.

One thing I learned is to be realistic and flexible with my schedule.Β Since I work 8-10 hours a day, I know there is NO way I can do 4 posts a week without stressing myself out. Two posts a week is the most that I can accomplish if I can continue to enjoy blogging. I also learned to not beat myself up if I don’t get as much done as I hoped. After all, blogging is a hobby and it should make us happy right?

*I am paranoid of using the “schedule post” feature on WordPress, so I literally log onto WP first thing in the morning and manually make the post myself! LOL I know I’m a bit crazy.

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Writing

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What is your writing and editing process like? Does it change with each novel that you write? (Marie @ Drizzle and Hurricane Books)

My writing process is definitely evolving with each novel and each draft that I do. My first Nanowrimo novel (which should never see the light of day, ever) was a complete seat-of-the-pants approach. I had NO idea what I was going to write. In recent years, with later drafts of Matt & Olivia, Children of the Sun and especially Shapeshifter, I’ve decided to take a more structured approach. With my current novelΒ Shapeshifter, I am taking the time to outline each scene that will occur in the novel (with the help of the Snowflake Method which I am definitely telling you guys about soon!) So far I love that I am catching plot holes before I even begin writing πŸ™‚

To be honest I haven’t quite gotten the hang of editing. This is what I’ve been doing:

  • After taking a break from writing (6 weeks or much longer), I re-read my novel. At this point I am thinking “Wow, this is actually not bad! I am ingenious!”
  • I sleep on it for a few days or a week, and realize that THERE ARE SO MANY THINGS THAT I NEED TO FIX.
  • Fiance reads my draft… “Love the story, but axe Character Y. Merge Characters X and Z. I don’t really care about Character W when he dies- Make him more relatable.”
  • Cry for a few days.
  • Re-evaluate the plot and make structural changes. Decide which scenes to take out and which to keep. If I am writing out a character, I need to rethink the scenes that they appear in.
  • Then…. Start writing again from the top.

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How would you describe your writing voice? (Tasya @ The Literary Huntress)

I’ve been told that I have a positive and energetic voice when it comes to blogging. I also try to be funny πŸ™‚

As for my novel writing voice, I am still figuring that out! I’d like to think that I have a witty sense of humour and an aptitude for metaphors. (Or… getting there some day haha.)

What first motivated you to write? (The Orangutan Librarian)

When I was growing up in China, my grandpa read his stories to me. I enjoyed them so much at the time, even though to be honest I was probably too young to even understand his stories! When I started grade school in Canada, I wrote my first story as a part of an English as a Second Language class. (This was grade 2 and it was a short story about rabbits or something LOL.) I discovered that I actually enjoyed writing, and it didn’t feel like homework for me.

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Life

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What’s your favourite breakfast? (Norrie @ Reading Under the Blankie)

Home-made French toast!!!! I also love omelette with toast (although someone will have to make that for me haha…)

What’s a food you could never live without? (Kat @ Life & Other Disasters)

Dark chocolate. I would go crazy without it! I think I am an addict haha…Β I also have to have meat everyday.

What are your favourite desserts? (Michael @ Ex Libris)

Anything dark chocolate-flavoured!

What’s your all-time favorite TV-show, the one you always go back to and watch over and over again? (Hope)

To be honest I don’t watch much TV now! However one TV show that I really enjoyed as a child and have rewatched many times is Huan Zhu Ge Ge (My Fair Princess) which is the story of an orphan girl who masquerades as the long lost daughter of the emperor of China.

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Who is the biggest influence in your life? (Hope)

Mom, dad and my family in China who has taught me, growing up, that hard work is the key to success.

What is a (non-fictional) place you dream of visiting? (Marie @ Drizzle and Hurricane Books)

I want to go to Japan, Europe, and Australia. Also I would love to go on a road trip and revisit Banff and California! Basically anywhere! This is what happens when I have almost no vacation days this year haha :’)

Do you like reading on the beach? (Norrie @ Reading Under the Blankie)

However much I love the idea of reading on the beach, I don’t know if I could do it! I get super distracted when I am reading and need a quiet space.

I read a blog post that you’re getting married?! What season is your wedding? How long have you known the lucky guy? (Vanessa)

We are planning for a May wedding next year. It’s going to be a tiny one. I’ve known the lucky guy for 9 years (whoa!) and we’ve together for almost 7 years. I am so proud of him because he finished medical school and is a resident physician now.

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Do you have any exciting plans for the next year, either in terms of your blog or your real life? (Beth @ Reading Every Night)

Blogging

  • More DIY posts!
  • Snippets of my new WIP!
  • Wattpad!

Life

  • Camp Nano in July.
  • Trip to Toronto in August for a friend’s wedding.
  • Hoping to do a few sewing projects! (Details and pictures will be shared!)
  • Getting married!

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What are your plans for the next year? What is your writing and editing process? How do you balance school/work, blogging, reading, and everything in between?

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57 thoughts on “Celebrating 1 year of blogging Q&A // On writing, blogging & life

  1. Norrie says:

    Awesome post!! ❀

    I love french toast too, but haven't had it ages. Omelette is usually made by my BF because i always end up making scrambled eggs instead. Hehe.

    I'm not a chocolate lover (and most people are shocked by this) but i do love dark chocolate, especially the one with bits of chilli, or lime or something like that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sophie Li says:

      Haha my fiance is responsible for making the omelettes as well. That’s his thing and I haven’t yet tried to replicate it!
      I love dark chocolate so much! Yes the flavoured dark chocolates are awesome. My favourite will have to be the orange flavoured ones πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Vanessa says:

    I knew my guy for 9 years and dated on and off for 6-7 years before we eventually got married. I thought I was the only one who was in a long-term relationship before getting married. Awesome! Happy One Year Blogging Anniversary!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sophie Li says:

      Aww that is so sweet! I am a big believer in long-term relationships. I feel that it is through time that we get to know someone inside and out πŸ™‚ Thank you!

      Like

    • Sophie Li says:

      Thank you! To be honest I am just barely juggling everything on some days (like today haha.)
      I find that having a schedule helps me to be focused and efficient. If I know that I have to do X, Y and Z on Mondays then I won’t waste time on anything else. It took me some time to find a schedule that works πŸ™‚ Good luck!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Sieran Lane says:

    I ADORE Huan Zhu Ge Ge too!!! I like the books even more than the TV series. Haha, I’m such a fanboy of the story. ^_^ Xiao Yanzi is hilarious as hell.

    Oh I actually have much more writing than editing experience. I’m one of those nerds/geeks who use an Excel spreadsheet to count how many words, pages, and books I’ve written so far. I currently have 19 books I finished writing, where the average length is 300-400 pages per book (about 300 words per page). 11 of these books are in Chinese, the other 8 are in English. Funny because English is my first language, lol. Chinese would be my 1.5th language, because it’s stronger than a second language but weaker than a typical first language. A lot of the English books I finished were the first book in a series and are not stand-alones, though! In contrast, there are only a few books I’ve partially edited…. =_= Nevertheless, I am determined to finish writing the current series I’m working on!! (I’m writing and am almost done with the second book. It’s the story I used for my writing tags, haha.)

    Currently, I’m still pantsing all the way. I *try* to do the method of having a goal in mind for each scene. But recently, the words just flow out, so I haven’t been explicitly making scene goals. I have a writer friend who believed that pantsers can’t finish writing anything. Ha, I proved him wrong!

    Anyhow, my plan is to finish writing my WIP series, and then continue to do more editing for my other stories.

    Hey, I forgot to say that I’ll be joining Camp Nanowrimo this July too, though I might have a modest goal, haha.

    Gosh, I don’t know how I’m balancing/ organizing my life. I seem to be scrambling to get things done all the time… One thing I learned, though, is to not try to do too much at once. Or if I can’t bring myself to give up on anything, then at least I need to give myself the permission to work more slowly, even if I actually want to work faster, lol. At the moment, it looks like I’m writing one blog post a week (usually 2000+ words per post), and I seem to write my WIP every few days. According to the Nanowrimo goal tracker, I’m writing around 500-600 ish words per day (as an average figure) this month so far. I like using numbers to see how I’m doing!

    There wasn’t much time to read during the school year, so I read at an incredibly slow pace. (As you can see from my Goodreads progress. XD) But I’m reading more now that it’s the summer holidays.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sieran Lane says:

      Too bad I can’t edit this comment, but I just finished writing this book!! So now I’m starting on the third book of this series. XD Again, I don’t want to edit it until I finish the whole story, when I’ll know how the entire plotline and details will be like.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sophie Li says:

        That’s awesome πŸ™‚ It’s a great feeling to finish writing a book, isn’t it? I am still amazed at how many books you’ve finished so far! Makes sense to edit it after you see the whole picture.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Sophie Li says:

      Hello Sieran!
      YAY so glad to find another HuanZhu fan! It brings me such nostalgia whenever I think about this series (or hear the theme song!!!) I wonder if I should re-watch it but maybe it will ruin it for me lol…
      That is AMAZING that you wrote 19 books!! And some in Chinese as well! I can barely read Chinese let alone write! Which is your preferred language for writing? How do you decide whether to write a novel in English or Chinese?
      Spreadsheets are awesome! I also use a spreadsheet to keep track of word counts, since I find that it motivates me to write something everyday πŸ™‚
      I think every writer has a different process. If you love pantsing and it works for you, go for it! You do you!
      That’s great that you are doing Camp Nano. Do you have a cabin in mind? πŸ™‚ I hear you about trying to get everything done at once. I am guilty of that too. July will be a busy month for me, and to be honest I don’t know how I will manage it all. I agree with setting a realistic word count goal so that we set ourselves up for success πŸ™‚
      I always find it so hard to read for fun when I am in school because I am already reading textbooks and articles. That’s great that you have more time for books during your holidays πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sieran Lane says:

        Haha thanks. I like keeping numbers to encourage myself, including the number of books I finished. XD (It’s partly to prove to people that pantsers CAN finish writing novels, lol.)

        I’ve heard of a saying that “you only become a great writer after you’ve written a million words.” From my spreadsheet, I’ve actually written more than 3 million words now…about half English, half Chinese, but more Chinese. This count includes the unfinished stories, lol. (The 20 novel count doesn’t include short stories, actually. I forgot about that.) But I’m still far from a writing guru, probably because of my lack of editing experience in comparison! D:

        I prefer writing in English, but Chinese is fun too! The only stories I write in Chinese are the martial arts stories set in China. I read A LOT of Chinese martial arts novels growing up and even now sometimes, so I love those. But for all other stories, I write in English, haha.

        Oh I haven’t put myself in a cabin yet! I don’t think we can make nano buddies in Camp Nano, unlike the regular Nanowrimo, right? It would be great to have you as a cabin mate! If you have other friends doing camp nano, maybe we can start a cabin together? If you like. That way, I can see your progress too, which would encourage me to write faster. XD

        Oh yeah. For reading, I encourage myself to read tiny bits here and there, preferably every day. Even if it’s just reading a few pages or a few sentences each time.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Sophie Li says:

        It’s great how many words you’ve written. I’m sure you are on your way to being a writing guru because of how much experience you have writing. Editing comes with practice and having written a lot helps πŸ™‚

        That makes sense to write Chinese martial arts stories in… well, Chinese πŸ™‚ It still amazes me that you write whole novels in Chinese haha. That is like a distant dream for me!

        I found a great cabin in Camp Nano this year in April and we talked about getting together again in July. I’ll send you an invite when I hear from them! What is your username? It definitely helps to have a group to write with and encourage each other πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

      • Sieran Lane says:

        Aww!! Thanks, Sophie, for your kind words. ^_^ But I do believe in practice makes perfect—practice makes perfect is actually one of my life mottos, haha. That’s true that having written a lot would help in learning how to edit your work as well.

        On learning about writing, I started jotting down a list of specific skills I’ve improved in thanks to the 3 million words of fiction writing experience, lol. And also some skills that I feel particularly lacking in. I think it’s good to be concrete and clear in your relative strengths and weaknesses. Making this list makes me happy, because I can see that I have come far compared to how I was as a writer ten years ago, haha. I might even make this my next post…

        Lol there was a time in secondary school where I put in soo much effort into learning Chinese (by reading novels, writing, and checking the dictionary like crazy), that my English actually fell behind my peers for a couple of years. But in return, I get to keep my Chinese skills. XD

        Liked by 1 person

      • Sophie Li says:

        It seems like a great idea to keep a list of skills and areas of improvement. I have a mental list but never thought to write them down haha (maybe I should πŸ™‚ )
        Speaking of strengths and weaknesses, I had an interesting discussion with my coworkers the other day: Society in general is very very fixated on “correcting” weaknesses, but it may be more worthwhile to continue to build on what we are naturally stronger at. I am wondering if this applies to writing: For example, if the writer is a great dialogue writer, they should practice writing more dialogue! If they are excellent at building a mystery and writing suspense, they should continue to write in that genre.
        Sounds like your efforts to learn Chinese paid off! It takes a lot of discipline to learn something on your own πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Beth (Reading Every Night) says:

    Great answers for these questions Sophie! πŸ™‚ I definitely agree on getting involved in the community when it comes to the advice part, it’s what helps get you and your blog out there and gets you the followers you need to grow. Plus you make some incredible friends which is always a great thing. πŸ˜€
    I think it’s interesting how writing processes change with each WIP you’ve started/finished. I guess the more you write the more you discover what works for you and what doesn’t, also the more you grow as a writer too. I loved hearing about what motivated you to write, and I’m definitely definitely interested in hearing more about your WIPs (including snippets, yay!) and about the snowflake method as well. I feel like I only hear of the snowflake method because your your blog and now I want to learn more about it! πŸ™‚
    Again great post! πŸ™‚ ❀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sophie Li says:

      Yes the blogging community is one of the best! I love how passionate we are about reading and I am glad for the people I met as well, including you!
      My writing process definitely changed (and is still changing.) I am trying out plotting/outlining thing and seeing if it works for me. I already wrote the post about the snowflake method and will post it very very soon.
      As for my WIP, I am almost done plotting however I am feeling stuck about one plot point at the very end. Waiting for that lightbulb moment haha πŸ™‚

      Liked by 2 people

      • Beth (Reading Every Night) says:

        I think it’s great how we all have this platform where we can share what we love so much, because we obviously all love books! πŸ™‚
        Looking forwards to that post, and I know what you mean because I’m plotting and planning my WIP but there’s another project I have which I’m going to dive right into, no plotting or planking. I’m going to see how that works for me. πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

      • Sophie Li says:

        Definitely πŸ™‚ It’s great to be surrounded by people who love books. My coworkers were talking about how they don’t like reading at all (which made me sad!!)
        It’s great to try different ways and figure out what works for you! Maybe you’ll find that you’re meant to be a planter or you’ll realize that you’re a pantser all along? πŸ™‚ I also heard that it’s good to try writing in different POVs, first person vs third person vs third person omniscient, because one POV may come naturally to us than the others.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Beth (Reading Every Night) says:

        People always seem surprised when I tell them how quickly I read and how many books I can get through. It’s become a thing at work I am the girl who reads a lot.
        Maybe, personally based on NaNo I feel like I’m more of a pantser than anything but that’s what this experiment will tell me for sure. Ohh, I hadn’t heard that by maybe that’s something I can incorporate into this experiment as well. πŸ˜€

        Liked by 1 person

      • Sophie Li says:

        Let me know how your experiment goes! πŸ™‚
        My current WIP is kind of an experiment too, since I don’t know how well outlining will work for me. I plan out everything else in life, so maybe it is my thing!?
        Have a good weekend Beth ❀

        Liked by 1 person

  5. haidanwrites says:

    Thank you for sharing your journey with us! The part about your grandfather reading his stories to you was especially moving for me. I also like how you shared your blogging schedule. It clearly shows the hard work that goes into it. Looking forward to reading more of your blog posts in the future!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Jenna @ Falling Letters says:

    Happy blogiversary! It looks you’ve made awesome progress for only blogging a year πŸ™‚ I recently found your blog via twitter and will look forward to following your posts. I like your weekly schedule – I could benefit from something a little more structured like that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sophie Li says:

      Thank you Jenna πŸ™‚ Having a blogging schedule definitely helps me stay on track. It took a bit of trial and error at first for me to find what works. Hope you find a schedule that works for you!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jenna @ Falling Letters says:

        I do have posting schedule but I like how you also have scheduled blog hopping. I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed by that lately and I think it’s becoming too much of a time suck for me, so I think putting it in the ‘blogging’ schedule is a great idea!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Sophie Li says:

        I’ve definitely been there. Blog hopping can feel like an endless task and it would take all of my time if I let it! For me, it helps to tell myself “I will blog-hop for 1 hour on Tuesdays and Fridays”. Putting blog-hopping onto my schedule and giving myself a time limit helps me to be more efficient and feel less overwhelmed. Hope this works for you too πŸ™‚

        Like

  7. Stephanie Moore says:

    Congratulations on your blogiversary! Thank you so much for writing your post. I stumbled across it and it’s inspiring! I am grateful to have found it and to read your personal tips for beginner bloggers! πŸ™‚ Much love and growth to you!

    Have a wonderful day!
    -Stephanie

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Marie says:

    Loved this post and your answers, Sophie, thank you for answering my questions ❀ I feel like you are so organized with your blogging – reading – writing and working routine, you're doing so great and I love that you have a little schedule like that – I'm pretty much the same πŸ™‚ and thank you for sharing your writing routine and editing routine, too. I can't wait to hear about your writing method for your next project πŸ˜€
    Also yes, I am addicted to dark chocolate as well, I LOVE IT and have to have one piece every day hahaha πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sophie Li says:

      Hi Marie!
      Oh I wish I could stick to my schedule all the time but it doesn’t always happen! These few weeks have been crazy at work so I haven’t been as consistent, especially with blog-hopping.
      Thank you! I will keep you updated about this WIP. I actually wrote the post about the snowflake method already and will post it very soon πŸ™‚
      Dark chocolate is the best isn’t it!? πŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Stefanie says:

    It was fun to learn a bit about you here. How brave you were to leave all that you’ve known for another country. Canada is another country I’d like to explore w/the ohana. I’ve been to Vancouver and I think Victoria at least twice or so.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sophie Li says:

      Not quite another country haha (I moved from Toronto to Vancouver, which is a long distance but still within Canada!) That’s great that you’ve visited Vancouver and Victoria before, hope that you enjoyed the trip πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

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