Tag Archives: tips

Breaking A Writer’s Block

I’m gonna be honest, I had writer’s block trying to think of what to say in this article. (Ironic, I know)

It wasn’t even so much that I didn’t want to write this article, it was more of… well on one hand, it’s summer now, and I’ve been dying to get back on my bike, and the other hand, I wasn’t sure which direction to take this article.

As I was debating, I discovered (re-remembered?) something: there’s different kinds of writer’s block. They all suck, and are equally as annoying as each other too. But, they all have one thing in common: they can all be broken.

So, no matter which one you’re suffering from, whether it’s Too Many Plot-Lines writers block, Too Many Words, Not Enough Words or anything in between, below are tips I use no matter which type I’m experiencing that (so far) have helped get me out of my writing rut.

 

1. Switch Up Your Music

I don’t know how you normally write, but for me, I usually have music on. I like pulling the emotion from the songs and using it to help fuel my stories. Not every story has it’s own playlist, but a lot of them do. (Each book does, at least)

There’s only so many songs in the world you like, however, so sometimes, since you’ve got over 100 playlists, the song choices seem to twindle, and there’s usually different phases, where you listen to just the newer songs. While that’s great for your music tastes, it’s leaving your brain in the same set way of thinking. There’s only so many stories you can pull from a song, and even though it might be the perfect song for the emotional value, I bet you probably have an older song (one you no longer listen to) that evokes the same emotion.

I know, I know, “but I don’t wanna listen to an old song! I’ve heard it so many times!” Just… trust me. Sometimes you forget just how powerful your old favourites were. Also, since some time has passed since you’ve heard it, you’ve grown, experienced new things, and might take away different things this time around. You might connect to a different line in the song more then used to, or, you might discover the song has a whole new meaning. (Did you know Night Moves [Bob Seger] is about sex and not dancing?)

 

2. Stop Writing

If you’re super stuck on a section, take a step back. Go do something else. No, seriously. Have you ever been in the middle of writing and all of a sudden you just can’t… do… words?

Yeah, go take a break. You deserve it. No arguing, you do. Even if you have to get this done, and if you haven’t hit your word count yet, and blah, blah, blah… Stop beating yourself up, bro!

Look, I know it’s easy to fall into the trap of ‘I haven’t done enough writing today/this week/month/year, etc. but seriously? Take a step back. Now, breath. Look at how much you’ve accomplished so far. Count them, make a list if you have to. All the works you’ve finished/published.

Give yourself permission to take a break. You know who’s written less then you this year? Shakespeare. You know who else you’ve written more then?

  • Edgar Allen Poe
  • Virginia Wolf
  • Ernest Hemingway
  • P Lovecraft

That’s right – you’ve out-written some of the greats this year. Let that sink in.

You deserve a break. Go watch some T.V, go for a walk/run/dance break, eat, and for God’s sake, go to the bathroom! (Don’t worry, we’ve all been there)

You’re a smart cookie, but you won’t magically get past your writer’s block if you’re running in circles. Your brain can’t concentrate, especially if you’re super stressed. It’s one of the worst Catch 22’s there is. You start stressing because you’re not writing, and then you’re not writing because you’re stressed.

 

3. Write Something Else

You’re a stubborn one, aren’t ya? Alright, fine, if you must continue to write, write something else. Anything else. I’m sure you have some fifty-odd something other projects you could be working on. Blow the dust off that short story you gave up on four months ago when you got that light bulb for the novel you’re writing.

Don’t have any short stories on the go? Start and write one. Right now. Go find a random word generator online, pick 1 word and write a short story about it. In one shot. (Fun side fact, that’s where the Oneshot [term for a short fanfiction story] originated) Right now. Let’s say it should be under 5,000 words (10 Word pages). Short and sweet.

Can’t find any random story-starters? Or, don’t want to spend hours searching through the random generators?

No problem, here:

– Penguin

– Hot pocket

– Sand

– Ties

– Helium

There you go. Now you have no excuses. Stop over-thinking it and just do it.

Seriously, I’ll wait.

 

Okay, I know there aren’t very many tips on this list, but the most important thing in breaking a writer’s block is to get your brain out of the rut. Get up, dust yourself off, and go do something else for a while. Stop concentrating so hard on the thing you’re stuck on. Subconsciously, you’ll still be wrestiling with it.

Everybody knows you always think of the solution to everything in the shower anyway, so, y’know, relax a little. Just because you work from home doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. (But there will be more on that in another post)

Alright, that’s all for this article. 934 words. I don’t think that’s that bad, considering I started this with writer’s block. There you go, living proof, you can get through it.

Do you have any favourite writer’s block busters you use? Let me know in the comments below!


Like this article? Check out more of my Writing Tips!

2nd Year Vega-versary

Two years. I can’t believe it’s already been two years of being vegan. I don’t even really know what to say. I could go cliché and say that if I could do it, you could too. Or I could go into detail about why I went vegan, but I feel like I’ve already covered that. I did have a post I wrote about my 1 Year Veganversary, but apparently I didn’t post it, and after re-reading it, it didn’t really say much except for, ‘wow! I can’t believe it!’ So, I’ll spare you. In case you’re wondering (although I’m pretty sure I’ve written this out somewhere else) here’s why I went vegan:

New Year’s Eve 2015, I decided to make my New Year’s Resolution to be vegetarian. There wasn’t really anything specific that triggered it, I just wanted to do something different that year. (Usually me and my family just made stupid resolutions, anyway) I was ‘successfully’ vegetarian until about June or July. By that time, it had gotten to be 40+ Celsius, and, me being the idiot I was, I was on the subway and didn’t eat breakfast or drink any water.

Guess what happened next.

I started getting dizzy and had black spots dancing at the edges of my vision. I got home okay, (luckily) and chugged some water. That incident didn’t do very well for quelling my mother’s concerns about it being an okay/healthy diet. And, while now I know why that happened, at the time I somewhat agreed with her. So, after that, I decided I’d be pollotarian (someone who only eats poultry), but was still curious about vegetarianism, and I had ended up stumbling across a Reddit thread that said something like, ‘If you want to go vegan, watch the following documentaries’. Being a curious person, I decided to check out the documentaries.

The first one I watched, Vegucated I didn’t really like, because they were coming at veganism as an aid for weight-loss. A few months after that, I watched Earthlings, and well… let’s just say that one stuck. Even though I still didn’t really know anything about the products, or this or that, I just couldn’t continue non-vegan after that. It was pretty much an instant resolve to stop, which was a bit hard because I still lived with non-vegan family. So I started researching, anything that related to veganism, I read. That was back in Feb. 2016, and I’m still going.

I’ve learned so much within just the past two years, it’s crazy. It seems all that was so long ago!

I do still have some non-vegan items, and while I’m not proud I still have them, I’m not ashamed to say I’m not 100% vegan yet. (But, I mean, is that really a thing?)

During the first year I went vegan, I had focused on just switching over my diet, because while I wanted to immediately change everything overnight (… can you tell I’m an ethical vegan?) that was neither practical nor possible. I didn’t have thousands of dollars sitting around to allow me to switch over everything I own, so I decided the best place to start would be the kitchen, and I could continue to replace other aspects each year/couple months, once I found out more information, had the means to do so.

And, I’d like to say, if you’re thinking about going vegan, but think doing something like the above (not immediately getting rid of every non-vegan thing in your house) would mean you’re not a ‘true vegan’ – don’t even go there. You are 100% a true vegan as long as your heart is in it. Don’t worry too much about being perfect.

It’s not a cult. No Vegan Police are gonna show up and haul you off to jail. Relax. Change over in your own time, as long as you’re committed to doing so, you’ll get there eventually. And, by you even just thinking about changing already puts you on the right path. It’s about getting on the right path, not being dropped at the end of it. Life is a journey and all that crap.

Also, unless you were born with literally all the knowledge ever, you’re going to make some mistakes, or use something that you’d think would be fine (like, say, a plastic bag, or your phone) only to discover later that it’s actually not vegan. And that’s fine. You’re not gonna throw your phone off a bridge – that’s just not practical. There are, unfortunately, some items you use/have to use in today’s society that aren’t vegan.

That does not mean you are a lesser vegan, or aren’t a real one at all. It’s about trying.

Hell, the definition is even: Is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.

So, again, relax. As long as you’re trying, and not eating straight up flesh you’re doing fine.

During this second year, I focused my efforts on beginning to switch non-food items, like toiletries (toothpaste, shampoo/conditioner, body wash, etc.). I even discovered some ‘hidden’ food items that weren’t vegan I was unknowingly eating. Lays plain (original) potato chips, for instance is made with pork enzymes, and food dyes such as Red #40 is made out of crushed cochineal beetles, and the others (Yellow #5, 6, Blue, etc) are tested on animals. Sad to discover, for sure – especially because Lays doesn’t have the information readily available on their website. The only reason why I even found it was because I was doing research for the vegan cookbook I’ve been working on, and stumbled upon a comment on some vegan forum somewhere. From there, I had e-mailed the parent company (Frito-Lay) about multiple products, and only after asking about it, was I linked to this list* that has all the chips that are made without pork enzymes. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s disappointed to learn some of the plain chips contain enzymes.

Things like this always bring about the same question to me: how far down the rabbit hole do you want to go?

Obviously, pork enzymes is pretty bad, as well as food dyes tested on animals, but should I be expected to contact the parent company every time I’m faced with a situation that is a bit unknown? Of course, I contact the company as often as possible, so that I’m making the best decision, or, if I don’t know, and aren’t able to get an immediate response, (say, for example at a family gathering, where I wasn’t expecting to have said item called into question) I’ll always just pass. Or, if it’s something they bought/cooked ‘specifically for me’ I’ll research, call the company (stay on hold for as long as it takes), or (if I’m not able to get a response, or get an ‘I don’t know’), I’ll take the item home (if able) and continue researching until I get an answer.

It sucks to do that for sure, having to stop the fun of the party or make that person worry when they thought it was fine, but sometimes it’s necessary. Some of you reading this might think that’s rude and will say to just accept it, even if it’s questionably vegan, but I say: why would I put something in/on my body if I don’t know what’s in it, whether or not I was vegan? I don’t think I’ve ever done that, I’ve always asked what’s in something, not even just because I had an allergy, but because I honestly am confused why people would just accept something. There could be literally anything in that, and you don’t know. I’d much rather not eat/use it, and offend the person for a minute, (or, better yet, share the new information so they can avoid the mistake in the future) then have something that I use/is in my mouth when I find out it wasn’t vegan. It’s just… ‘safer’ to not accept it.

If they get offended (which, c’mon, really?) just apologize and tell them you appreciate the gesture, and (if it was a ‘hidden’ ingredient like the food dyes, or something else) tell them they were so close/on the right track! It’s not their fault companies don’t list everything on their packaging (going back to the Lays Original, no where on that bag does it say it contains pork enzymes), so please, please don’t get mad/upset at them for not knowing. Try to remember that not only is it not their fault, but also, would you have known that before you went vegan? No, so don’t go shaming them for not doing hours upon hours of research. Also, some items do say Cruelty-Free or Vegan and have the food dyes or honey, so they might’ve assumed (the same way I’m sure you do sometimes) that if it says vegan right on it, it’d be safe.

Going back to the how far down the rabbit hole thing, I really think it depends on the person. Same as how some vegans eat honey, while others don’t. (I don’t, in case you wondered) It’s all about perspective, and, while it might seem blatanly obvious to some, others either don’t see it that way (and never will), or, haven’t done enough research to know, so they eat/use it unknowingly.

Bottom line: It takes time to learn what’s vegan and what’s not, so don’t be ‘that guy’ and be an asshole because they don’t know something. Instead, why don’t you try helping them discover information. For example, if your non-vegan friends come over, get them to try some vegan food. Don’t force it down their throats, but maybe make it a rule: when you come to my house, you eat vegan. That’s a very reasonable request, and if any of your friends cause a fuss, then tell them they’re not welcome in your house. It’s not that hard. Or, (if you’re okay with it) tell them they can bring their own non-vegan dish (that’s already cooked, unless you don’t care about having non-vegan food ‘contaminate’ your kitchen). It’s your house, you can set the rules, and if they don’t like it, or (for some reason) aren’t comfortable with that, well, then maybe they shouldn’t come over?

You know, as a living, breathing vegan that you don’t need animal products to survive, so if they really can’t eat those 2 out of how-ever-many-meals-you-eat-in-a-lifetime vegan when they come over, then that’s definitely a problem. Also, don’t be afraid to bring subjects like this up with your friends. Don’t attack them, obviously, but ask them their views, and if they’d be okay with it. Present your point of view, and why it’s important to you, for example, to keep your kitchen vegan.

That said, again, it’s 100% up to you, what you’re comfortable with. No one can (or should) tell you what you’re okay with.

It’s been awesome so far, I’ve discovered so many new, amazing products. Nooch is now a staple in my kitchen, when only two years ago I didn’t even know it existed. Same with black salt, and a bunch of other products. I even went to my first vegan festival this past year! That was such an amazing experience, I’m definitely going again this summer. If you haven’t seen it, you can read my review of it here.

I’m super excited to discover even more vegan products in the coming years. I can’t wait to see what else they come out with!


*That list is just the Canadian one, this is the US one, and I haven’t been able to find one for other countries. I recommend getting in contact with them to see if there’s one available for you’re country. (I know usually, UK and Canadian products are produced pretty similar in the ways that they’re produced, so if you live in the UK, I’d suggest using the Canadian list if there isn’t a UK one)


Want to learn more about veganism? Check out The Veg Life, for awesome recipes, product reviews and more!

Surviving Canadian Winters




I decided to write this article because in my first year of going vegan, I Googled this very topic and guess what came up? Nothing. Well, not nothing nothing – there were some articles that were about ‘surviving winter’ but they didn’t do anything. Apparently, no vegans in Canada wanted to pass this oh-so-important wisdom down so I was basically on my own.

You may be wondering: why such worry about making it to the store? That’s a good question. Having to rely on public transit is not always the easiest during winter. Between the closures/detours due to weather and some routes not being driven altogether, you don’t really want to go through that on top of the freezing weather.

My top two suggestions for making these stock-up trips:

  1. Stretch multiple trips out over the fall months (Sept.-Nov.) and try to remember this has to last you until you’re able to walk outside again (around/after Feb.)
  2. Get these before it’s too cold to leave your house. Trust me, you really don’t want to go out in the middle of December when it’s -40C because you forgot bread.

So, for my fellow Canadian-vegans, when the snow banks are 4ft. tall and your door locks are frozen shut, fear not! I’m here to make those last trips to the store easier for you.

Obviously, you don’t need to get everything on this list. This is just a list of foods you may want to stock up on for the colder months. If nothing else, these should (hopefully) lessen your worry about getting through winter, even if they’re not exactly ‘essentials’. Also, who wants to get a hot chocolate craving only to find they’re out?

I recommend checking out my Vegan Staples list first, since that lists all the food essentials*, then come back here to see what else from this list you might want to stock up on.

Pantry

  • Hot Chocolate (I like Castle Kitchen’s Classic Caramel)
  • Marshmallows (Dandies)
  • Mr. Noodles (Mushroom and Vegetable)
  • Daiya Mac N Cheese (Alfredo Style, Cheddar, White Cheddar with Veggies)
  • Gravy (I like Road’s End Savoury Herb)
  • Mashed Potato Flakes (if you don’t/can’t lug a whole bag of potatoes home)
  • Kraft Peanut Butter with Chocolate (yes, it’s vegan, and it’s amazing)
  • Hummus/Salad Dressing/Some type of spread so you don’t eat dry sandwiches all winter
  • Shake N Bake/Bread Crumbs
  • VeganEgg
  • Winter Holiday baking supplies (cocoa powder, flour, sugar, egg replacer/applesauce, etc.)

Cans: (Check out my Surprising Vegan Soup post for more!)

  • Amy’s Alphabet Soup (my favourite!)
  • Amy’s Organic Vegetable Barley
  • Amy’s Fire Roasted Southerwestern Vegetable
  • Amy’s Black Bean Vegetable
  • Habitant Garden Style Vegetable Soup
  • Hunt’s Manwich Original Sloppy Joe

Snacks:

  • Chips
  • Pretzels
  • Crackers (Triscuits, Vegetable Thins, Ritz, Premium Plus)
  • Cookies
  • Popcorn Kernels (and ketchup powder!) or Skinny Pop
  • Chocolate (chips, bars)
  • Licorice (Twizzlers as a stir-stick in hot chocolate = amazing)

Freezer

  • Butter/Margrine 6 months
  • Seitan 1yr
  • Tofu** (can give it a ‘chewier’ texture, drain and place in Ziplock) 3-5 months
  • Daiya Products (cheese blocks/pizza) 6 months
  • Tofurky Products (sausages/deli slices/pizza/pizza pockets) 1yr
  • Gardein Products (7 Grain Crispy Tenders, Mandarin Orange Chick’N, Pizza Pockets, etc.) 6 months
  • Field Roast Products (burgers, sausages, deli slices, etc.) 1yr
  • Yves Products (pepperoni, deli slices, ground round) 1-3 months
  • Fries (smiley/crinkle/straight-cut)
  • Hash Browns
  • Taquitos (Starlight Beef are good)
  • Burritos (Amy’s Black Bean Vegetable and Bean and Rice are good)
  • Perogies
  • Tortillas (place parchment in between to prevent tearing) 6-8 months
  • Ice-cream (I know it’s gonna be cold, but some days…)

*I don’t yet have a non-food essentials list, but I’m working on it! I’ll be posting it hopefully sometime next year, but I’m hoping you don’t really need me to tell you to stock up on non-food essentials (toilet paper).

**Tofu may change from white to a yellow or amber colour. Don’t freak out, it’s still perfectly safe to eat. Let it thaw and cook as usual.

Keep in mind, that some of these items are heavy, so you might want to buy one of those shopping carts on wheels, or bring a luggage that has wheels on it with you and fill that up – instead of making eighty-seven little trips to the store. (But hey, if that’s your thing, you go right ahead).

As stated above, this isn’t really an essentials list, so don’t feel like you have to buy everything on here. This list isn’t a be-all, end-all of winter stock up foods. These are just (hopefully) enough to get you thinking in terms of, ‘What will I be craving three months from now when I’ve been stuck inside all day?’

Also, keep in mind that winter not only brings cold, but also holidays. So, you may need to add some holiday specific items to your list as well. Usually, I try to plan in advanced what I’ll be making, but I know that’s not always plausible.

If all else fails, you can always get groceries delivered.

Vegan Staples

Hi there!

Welcome to the Staples List. On this page I list what I count as absolute essentials for making your life/transitioning to veganism easier. This list just contains food but don’t worry, I’ll be making another post about switching over the other aspects in your life.

These are, (again) absolute essentials only – very, very basic ingredients. Some you may not even realize you need to replace. Others, are pretty basic ingredients to keep on hand (vegan or not), that just make cooking/finding something to make a hell of a lot easier with them always in stock.

Cause seriously, do you actually enjoy going to buy bread every week? (Fun fact: bread can keep in the freezer 3-6 months!)

General Cooking

  • Margrine/Butter (I like Earth Balance and Becel Vegan Margarine)
  • Oil
  • Spices*
  • Non-Dairy Milk (Almond/Soy/Nut – I personally like Silk Almond)
  • Sauces (Soy sauce, hot sauce, ketchup, salsa, salad dressing, etc.)
  • Hemp Hearts (a great source of protein, and you can sprinkle them on practically anything!)

*Depending on how you cook, you’ll want to keep cuisine spices on hand (Chinese – ginger, seasame seeds, soy sauce, etc., Italian – garlic, oregano, rosemary, thyme, fennel, onion, parsely, etc.) I’d assume if you’ve ever done any cooking, you should already have some spices on hand, so you may not need to worry about that.

Pantry

  • Dried Rice (I like keeping brown rice over white, since it’s healthier)
  • Dried Pasta (again, I keep whole wheat over regular)
  • Peanut Butter (Kraft Unsweetened/Unsalted [dark blue label] is good)
  • Mushroom/Vegetable Broth (some ‘veggie’ broths have fish/beef/chicken stock in them – be sure to read the label!)
  • Canned Beans (black, chickpea, lentils, red/kidney)
  • Canned Veggies
  • Baking supplies (optional, but I recommend keeping at least flour, cornstarch, baking soda and [brown] sugar around)

Freezer

  • Bread
  • Frozen Veggies
  • Fruit (if you make a lot of smoothies, also they keep longer when frozen)

Seitan Basics

  • Vital Wheat Gluten
  • Nutrional Yeast (referred to as ‘nooch’ – is a great source of B12)
  • Tahini Paste
  • Spices*
  • Vegetable/Mushroom Broth

*Depending on what meat you’re trying to replicate, the spices you put in your seitan will change. If you make Chick’N Seitan, you’ll want to keep poultry seasoning or sage and thyme on hand to give it that distinctive flavour.

One of the easiest dishes to make out of the ingredients listed above is stir-fry. I highly suggest learning how to make stir-fry both with rice and pasta, that way there’s at least a bit of a difference when making it. It’ll definitely save your butt on those days when you don’t really feel like cooking and want something fast/easy, without ordering take-out, or having to buy all those pre-made meals. (Which I’ll cover later)

I hope this list of essentials helps you in stocking your newly vegan kitchen, and allows you to begin your journey with a bit more ease.


New here? Check out the Nutrient Collage series to ease your fears about dying of nutrient deficiency!