And it’s not even September

This year has just been going by at a crazy pace, hasn’t it? It feels like it was just March a few days ago, and now it’s already September.

Wait, no it’s not September. We’re actually in the darkest timeline, where librarians are receiving death threats for providing books. 

Silly me.

Yes, you’ve probably already heard about this. But I’m going to talk about it anyway. All over America, but especially in Florida (which is really earning its nickname as America’s dick right now) books are being banned from schools and public libraries. Books that mostly have LGBTQ+ content. And since they can’t outright say that these books are being banned for being gay-friendly, the argument is that these books are inappropriate and sexual in nature. 

Somehow, books about heterosexual love aren’t a concern. Maybe the people who make these decisions see LGBTQ+ love as being just about sex. As a bisexual, I can’t begin to tell you how offensive that is. 

I can’t believe we’re still having this fight in 2023. I also can’t believe we’re fighting for abortion rights, and against Nazis. As the popular internet meme says, I’d like some modern problems. 

Please understand that this issue is so much worse than limiting access to books. Librarians, who are basically superheroes in my opinion, are getting death threats. They are being harassed, getting terrifying phone calls, having people show up at the library with guns. They’re being accused of child abuse, of being groomers. 

Since we’re on the subject, you know what is a real ‘groomer’ issue? The purity culture we force on little girls. If you’re a woman reading this, sound off in the comments how old you were the first time someone told you to cover up your body. I was maybe six and told that my body was inherently a distraction to boys and men. 

But sure, let’s ban the books about girls liking other girls. That’s far more traumatizing than being told grown adults might not be able to control themselves around my six-year-old body. I’m sure that picture books of boy bunnies who love each other are triggering to students who have to participate in active shooter drills the same way I used to have fire drills. 

Of course, it’s not about protecting children. It’s about controlling what children think about. It’s about controlling what we all think about, and what we consider threatening. Drag queens and queer books are not threatening. Politicians who want to restrict access to books are threatening. 

But I’m not done yet. 

I am a liberal, and if you haven’t picked that up yet I don’t know how. Banning books like Maus, And Tango Makes Three, The Handmaid’s Tale, and I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter is going to piss me off, as it should any liberal. Banning almost every book Sarah J Mass has ever written pisses me off as a speculative fiction author. But please understand, that everyone should be angry about this!

If you’re an author, you should be scared. If you’re a lover of literature, you should be scared. If you care even a little bit about our freedoms as American citizens, you should be scared. And you should be saying something.

Paper Beats World is a labor of love. If you love what we do here, please consider supporting us on Ko-fi.

The best writers in films

Last week, we talked about ten of the best fictional writers on television. Which of course got me thinking about some of my other favorite fictional writers. The writers portrayed on the big screen. Because of course, people love talking about what they’re passionate about. And what writers are passionate about, more often than not, is writing. 

Today, I’m bringing you the top seven best portrayals of writers in movies. Some of them are funny. Some are scary. And some made me bawl like a baby. But all of them are great examples of flawed people trying to do the same thing we’re trying to do; craft stories.

Secret Window

Starring Johnny Depp and based on a short story by Stephen King, Secret Window is the story of a writer named Mort Rainey looking for some peace to write his latest book. This quiet is destroyed by a man named Shooter, who insists that Rainey stole his short story. Rainey desperately tries to prove that he didn’t commit plagiarism, while Shooter stalks him through town.

I honestly think being accused of plagiarism is scarier than being accosted by some hayseed in a wide-brim hat. I adored this movie. And I thought the ending, unlike some of King’s other endings, was truly satisfying. 

Orange County 

Starring Colin Hanks and Jack Black, this is the hilarious story of a young writer named Shaun, desperate to escape his dysfunctional family. He goes through a series of hilarious hijinks with his brother and girlfriend, trying to get him into a writing program at Stanford. 

If you’ve never seen this movie, it’s a great time. And of course, it discusses the very real issue of whether or not to attend higher education. 

The Shining

Of course, I was going to be talking about this one. It’s not the first Stephen King story on this list, and it won’t be the last. It is, perhaps, the most famous. 

Do I even need to summarise this story? Jack and Wendy, and their son Danny, spend the winter at a hotel as caretakers. This is every writer’s dream, and Jack is a writer. He thinks he’ll spend the whole winter writing his novel while making some easy money.

Of course, that amount of quiet and isolation is often the last thing a writer needs. It’s also the last thing a struggling alcoholic needs, especially when his spirits are replaced by, well, spirits. 

Dead Poet’s Society

(Note. This movie deals with teen suicide.)

A good teacher can make all the difference in a young person’s life. Especially the life of a young artist. Such is the case with John Keating, played by Robin Williams. He inspires a group of teenage boys to not only read poetry but to care about it. To care about their own writing as well. Keating reminds them, and us, that a poem is not a dry dead thing. It is a moment in time, an emotion, a spark, captured in words on a page. 

It’s a passionate movie about living for what makes you feel alive. 

Moulin Rouge!

Yes, I do love this movie, and not ironically. Is it a good movie? No, not really. Is it a really fun movie with a wonderful soundtrack and a fun main character? Yes, yes it is. 

Christian is a writer looking for work. He wants to write a play for a dance club called the Moulin Rouge. Its star is a woman named Satine, who is dying of consumption. Through his writing, Christian makes her last days magical. Even as he struggles to protect her from the evil Duke. It’s full of music, wild characters, and absinthe. It is, I think what a lot of us thought the writing life would be like, full of drugs and interactions with wild artists. Spoiler, it’s actually full of coffee and editing manuscripts while turning down social invites because you’re on a deadline. 


This will be the last time I talk about Stephen King in this post, I swear. But you know I had to talk about Paul Sheldon, Annie Wilkes, and Misery. 

Starring James Caan and Kathy Bates, this is the terrifying tale of an obsessed fan who saves her favorite author from a car crash. All is going fine until she finds out he’s going to kill off her favorite character. Then, things get not fine real fast. 

On one hand, I love the thought of having someone obsessed with my writing. On the other hand, I hate the idea of having someone that obsessed. Either way, it’s a dark and gruesome tale, told well. 

Also, Kathy Bates is a queen. 

Finding Forrester

This is easily my favorite movie about writing of all time. It stars Rob Brown and Sean Connery. This is the tale of a reclusive writer who is, frankly, an asshole. Through a series of events, he starts mentoring a young writer named Jamal. 

A lot of topics are discussed here. Racism, of course. Poverty, and how it impacts the opportunities of young people. When it is and is not okay to approach a famous person. In the end, though, it’s a story about a friendship built on a common passion. A passion for writing. If you’ve never seen it, go watch it right now. It is incredible. 

Now, I want to hear what you think. What is your favorite movie about a writer? Let us know in the comments. 

Paper Beats World is free to read, but it’s not free to make. If you can, please consider supporting the site on Ko-fi. 

The best fictional writers on tv

Writers like to write about writing. I do, as I’ve been posting about it here since 2014. So of course we do get fictional characters that are writers. Even though watching someone write isn’t exactly thrilling. I get why more stories are about athletes, politicians, space captains and ghost hunters. Watching them do their job is a lot more fun than watching me do my job.

And yet, some shining and relatable examples of writers on tv do exist. So today, I want to talk about my top ten favorite fictional writers. 

Diane Nguyen, BoJack Horseman

Diane is, like most of the characters on this show, a hot mess. But she’s a hot mess of a writer in Hollywoo, so she is clearly failing upward. Through the course of the show, she’s a biographer, a movie consultant and a magazine columnist. I would love those jobs!

More importantly, she struggles with actual writing problems. Remaining honest and relevant, and working in a field that claims to value creativity while forcing it to bow to focus groups.

Rick Castle, Castle

This isn’t the most realistic interpretation of a writer I’ve ever seen. But there were some really fun writerly moments in the first few seasons of Castle. Especially in the first few episodes, Castle plays a weekly game of cards with some real-life writers we might recognize, including James Patterson, Dennis Lehane, Michael Connelly and Stephen J. Cannell.

I also love that the series starts with a murder based on one of Castle’s books. I think a lot of horror and mystery writers worry that our work might inspire real-world pain. 

Another thing I loved was that the book Castle is working on isn’t done in an episode. That writing process is an entire season long. And the book isn’t released until partway through the next season! That is some realistic writing time.

Nathan Fillion as Rick Castle

Liz Lemon, 30 Rock

The insane workaholic main character of 30 Rock is loosely based on Tina Fey’s time working at SNL. And yes, writing for a weekly live show would be insane. Liz struggles to balance the wishes of corporate, the actors and her fellow writers, more often than not dropping all the balls she’s trying to keep in the air.

I love any time the characters are in the writing room, working together on scripts. I love the depiction of characters editing until the wee hours of the morning because that feels so relatable to me. And I love that Liz both loves and hates her entire creative team. 

Hannah, Reboot

Reboot was a recent show that only got one season on Hulu. From what I understand, the creators are looking for a new home for season two. I hope they find one.

Hannah is the main character. She wants to reboot a sitcom, making it more modern and relatable. Her father created the original show and has a certain amount of creative control. They battle constantly over hiring writers, managing actors, and crafting storylines. It’s old-school comedy writing blended with modern television sensibilities, finding the best and worst of each other. 

Of course, Hannah is also writing through her very real anger about her dad abandoning her as a child. We all write our demons. Even if we say we don’t, we all end up writing about what hurts us the most. Even if we have to turn it into a punchline. 

The cast of Newsroom

Newsroom was what I wish every news channel in real life could be. I wanted to narrow down just one writer on the show, but honestly, they’re all great. From their professionalism, dignity in reporting, and respect for the work, they are heroes. I honestly wish all news was reported by people like this. 

These writers were willing to go to any length to tell the truth. To tell the news. My favorite example of this is in the episode Amen. People’s lives are really on the line in this one, and everyone is aware. It’s a great example of what kind of danger journalists can find themselves in. 

Bart and Lisa Simpson, The Simpsons

Bart and Lisa have been writers in several episodes of The Simpsons. In an early episode, they start writing for Itchy and Scratchy but have to put Abe (Grandpa) Simpson’s name on their scripts because they’re too young. 

Lisa has also written essays that won awards. She’s a dedicated journal keeper. She is, I think, what we all aspire to be as writers, but can never quite reach. 

CW Longbottom and Ian Grimm, Mythic Quest

Video game writing is an ever-growing field. And much like tv writing, video game writing is a group effort. Being in a group of creatives is a hard thing when everyone thinks they’re smarter than everyone else in the room.

Ian and CW work together to create playable storylines. And CW is a little too proud of his Nebula award. He’s generally a little too proud of his writing, which comes up in a flashback episode that brought me to tears. 

Tina Belcher, Bob’s Burgers

Tina Belcher writes some cringy stuff, man. Uncomfortable sex scenes, wish fulfillment with her crush, weird scenarios involving zombies. And I am in awe of her for it. 

Tina is a writer who writes for the joy of it. She fills up notebooks frequently with her friend-Rodica series and is having the time of her life doing so. This is what every young writer should be doing. Writing what you want to write just for the fun of it.

Jessica Fletcher, Murder She Wrote

Who didn’t grow up admiring Jessica Fletcher and her prolific typewriter? She was funny, smart, and a bit of a workaholic. And she managed to take every bit of her life and use it in her cozy mystery series. It is truly a joy to hear her typewriter click. 

Angela Landsbury as Jessica Fletcher

Rob Petrie, The Dick Van Dyke Show

Rob was maybe the first tv character I ever saw who was a writer. And as a young person who was just starting to understand that someday she’d have to grow up and make money, he had a real influence on me. 

You could grow up and write stories. Well, I guess someone has to write them. Even better, there was a girl in the writing room, and she was just part of the team. 

So now I want to hear what you think. Who is your favorite fictional writer on tv? Let us know in the comments. 

Paper Beats World is free to read, but it’s not free to make. If you can, please consider supporting us on Ko-fi.


Emotional Support Stories

If you want to support Paper Beats World, you can do so on Ko-fi. 

At the start of 2023, I was not in a good place. I’m doing better now. It was just a bad case of seasonal depression. But I decided to manage my depression by diving into my emotional support book series. 

Series of Unfortunate Events. 

It’s a long series, I’m still reading it. Currently reading the Grim Grotto. As a side note, you can always follow along with what I’m reading on Goodreads and Bookbub.

All that being said, I wanted to talk a little bit today about emotional support content. It’s been trendy on Instagram recently to share your emotional support content, and I am down for this. As always, I love that people turn to stories in times of darkness. We can always find light between the pages of a book.

Or other mediums, honestly. I have several emotional support shows, like The Good Place, Schitt’s Creek and Futurama. 

So, we already know that good fiction can brighten our lives when we feel dark. But why do we have these specific stories that we come back to over and over again? Wouldn’t a new story be a better distraction? I mean, I know what’s going to happen in every Unfortunate Events book. Can it engage me enough? Wouldn’t it be better to read something new, like finally getting into Sarah Mass or reading Wheel of Time like my husband has been trying to get me to do for years?

I took some time to think about it. While I was thinking, I also paid attention to how I was emotionally reacting to the new content I was consuming. And I realized something. Certain stories were making me sad because they reminded me of some of the very real traumatic events in my past. Things that are still hurting me today.

Yes, I could avoid content that might trigger these memories. Except, sorry to say, trigger warnings don’t work with trauma. Because you don’t always know what’s going to trigger your trauma.

Some things are clearly going to be impactful. I knew going in that things like Stephen King’s The Outsider was going to be upsetting. I did not expect a random episode of Agents of Shield to trigger me. I knew Inside Out was probably going to be hard. Didn’t expect Encanto to make me bawl. 

A story doesn’t have to directly relate to the cause of your trauma to remind you of your trauma. So, unfortunatly, any piece of content could potentially upset someone.

Okay, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop reading, watching or listening to new things. I love new stories. And realistically, we are never going to live in a world where we are completely safe from memories of our past. I personally don’t think we should even try to, because I’m a big believer in shadow work and healing from my past.

But that work, my friends, is exhausting! And we cannot, should not do it all the time. So yes, there are times when we should fall back on our emotional support series. 

I know how I’m emotionally going to respond to Unfortunate Events. There are no surprise triggers waiting for me. I can enjoy a story and give my emotions a rest. 

Emotional support content doesn’t need to be uplifting or happy. Though my shows certainly are. The only requirements are as follows. 

You’ve experienced the story before.

You know that your emotional reaction to this story will be positive. 

So please, if you have a friend who is watching Parks and Rec for the fifteenth time, don’t judge them. They might just need a break. 

I would love to know what your emotional support content is. Please let us know in the comments. 

It’s Read an E-book Week

Hey, everyone. I’m just jumping in here to tell you that it’s Read an E-book Week on Smashwords. 

E-books are a super convenient way to read for people like me who don’t have a ton of places to keep books in their tiny homes. And while I love my physical books a lot (like, maybe too much) there are a ton of reasons e-books are cheaper, more convenient, and overall a pretty good time. 

And now is a great time to grab a bunch of e-books at a great price. Because of course, Read An E-book Week means a bunch of them are on sale. Like, for instance, my books. 

Like You Can’t Trust The AI, Virus, Station Central, Twelve Little Christmas Stories, and Quiet Apocalypse. 

If you’re a fan of space adventures with a dash of political intrigue, you can check out the Station Central series. 

If you’re looking for a haunted house story with a witchy witty main character, you should check out Quiet Apocalypse.

And if you want to grab some Christmas stories that range from heartwarming to horrifying, you can grab Twelve Little Christmas Stories. 

Of course, it’s not just my books. There are thousands of e-books available on Smashwords. 

Let me know in the comments what books you scooped up during the sale. 

Creativity Burnout, focusing on the results, not the journey

So far in this series, we’ve talked about fighting creative burnout in a world that’s difficult to survive in. We talked about fighting it in a world that feels like it’s on fire the majority of the time. And we’ve talked about fighting it when the problem is your project. Now we’re at the final post in this series, so it’s time for me to call myself out. (At least, it’s the final post in the series for now. I am open to doing more in this series if there’s a specific creative burnout you’d like me to cover.) Today, we’re talking about my biggest writing weakness. Focusing too much on the results, and not enough on the journey.

So, what do I mean by this? I mean two things, both of which I’m susceptible to. One, we worry too much about meeting self-imposed deadlines. And two, we worry too much about how the work is going to be received.

Let’s look at the two problems separately. 

First, the self-imposed deadline. Deadlines are a beautiful thing, and I certainly encourage every writer to have them. Without a deadline, it’s far too easy to put off writing for all the other things clamoring for our attention. So when I start a writing project, I set what I think is going to be a realistic deadline. Then, I add another week past that. 

Even this is sometimes not enough of a cushion. Because things happen. Some days I can’t work at all. And sometimes the project takes more time than I think it will, thanks to rewrites and freewriting. 

The best thing to do here is not to get rid of deadlines altogether. But instead, see them as flexible. Rather than rushing and putting out poor content, it’s better to give yourself and each project the time it needs to be what it deserves to be. 

However, knowing this and putting it into practice are two different things. And I can tell you from experience that it’s freaking hard when there’s so much pressure to remain relevant. It often feels that if I’m not putting a new book out, a new blog post, a new podcast, a new short story, or a new something you all who read my work are going to forget about me.

These are the demons that whisper to me. I bet you have a similar demon. 

But let’s think about this, without the stress demon whispering to us. I know that I don’t forget about my favorite authors, not even when it’s years between books. When Tamora Pierce comes out with a new book, you want to believe I will buy that sucker. The same for a litany of other authors. 

And the same is true for content creators I follow online. Lisa Jacobs, one of my favorite marketing people, vanished for several years to pursue a corporate job. When she decided to come back to the online marketing space, I was pumped! I bought one of the first courses she offered. 

Also, it’s been years since season two of Limetown. If they came out with season three in 2026, I’d still be there to listen unless I was dead. 

So, I don’t forget about content creators even after they take long breaks between projects. Why should I assume that those who read and listen to my content won’t do the same? 

Next, let’s talk about the fear of how our work will be received. I don’t know a single writer who doesn’t worry that their work isn’t going to sell. This is another demon that likes to whisper to us. No one’s going to buy your book. No one’s going to listen to your podcast. No one’s going to read a long-winded blog post full of too many tangents and stamp collector hate. 

Every single creator has those thoughts. And the scary thing is, they might be right. There is every chance that a creative project might fail. 

If you let those thoughts get into your brain, it might stop you from writing altogether. It might also leave you spiraling, going over your work over and over again, sure that it’s never good enough. Sure that this line will be taken wrong, it’ll offend someone you never meant to offend.

If I may be totally honest with you, I almost didn’t publish Quiet Apocalypse, because I was scared to death that people would think it was anti-abortion. Just in case anyone has that concern, IT IS NOT ANTI-ABORTION. 

This spiral worry that the story isn’t good enough, or that it’ll be taken the wrong way can mean death for your writing. It can drown you. 

What’s the solution? Write for yourself. Write content that you enjoy, and that you would want to read. Write what makes you happy. Because yes, there’s a possibility that you might be the only one who reads it. So you might as well like it. And remember, creating art just for art’s sake is still awesome. It’s still more than a lot of people do. And I have said over and over that writing is its own reward. 

But here’s the great thing about that. You’re going to produce your best work when you like what you’re writing. When you’re having fun writing, it’s going to be more fun to read. 

So take your time. Write what you love, and don’t worry about how it will be received until later drafts. That’s when your marketing brain can come into play. And I think you’ll be surprised to find that the work you did while you were having fun is pretty damn good. 

If you’re interested in supporting Paper Beats World, you can do so on Ko-fi.

Creative burnout, your project isn’t working

Paper Beats World is free to read, but it’s not free to make. If you want to support Paper Beats World, you can do so on Ko-fi. 

So far in this series, we’ve talked about some heavy reasons you might be experiencing creative burnout. We talked about life taking a toll on us. We talked about the world sometimes being a shitty place to be. 

There are other reasons we might suffer creative burnout that aren’t so clinically depressing. This week, we’re going to talk about a common one. 

You have a project you’ve been working on. A novel, a short story, a podcast season. Whatever it is, suddenly you’ve hit a snag. You don’t have the energy to work on it anymore. You have the time, but not the inclination. Is it the dreaded writer’s block? Have your words failed you?

Probably not. 

The problem is probably with your story. For whatever reason, it’s not working. You know it’s not working, and you’re not ready to admit it. So, instead, you’re ghosting your draft like you’d ghost someone on Tinder. But unlike your Tinder stalker, your project can still be saved. 

See the problem for what it is

The most important step to take is to see your problem for what it is. It’s a problem with the story, not with you. You are not lazy. Remember, laziness doesn’t exist

This is good news because problems with your story can always be fixed. Maybe your characters are boring. Maybe the pacing is wrong. Maybe there’s just not enough going on to compel the plot forward.

The important thing is to not internalize this. You are not your writing. No one story, no matter how bad, is going to define you. 

Now that you understand that, we can talk about how to fix it. 

Freewriting time

Freewriting is my favorite writing tool. I will come to the blank page like I would a trusted friend and just spill my guts. When my story isn’t working, a lot of what I’m doing in freewriting is complaining. 

This is boring. 

I hate this main character.

What is even happening?

I don’t want to write fight scenes, I hate them.

This isn’t interesting enough.

There’s too much going on to keep track of.

Yes, I do eventually get tired of hearing myself complain. But, by that time I have a list of things that need fixing in my draft.

Mind you, I will do this even if it’s a rough draft. While I don’t normally edit first drafts until they’re done, sometimes it’s unavoidable. Sometimes the project just isn’t going to work how it’s going right now. It’s better to toss a draft and start at the beginning again than to lose the project together.

Talk it out

Sometimes the blank page isn’t the best ear, though. While it’s a great listener, it can’t talk back.

This is when it’s important to have writing friends. Or, at least friends who you can bounce things off of. Friends who don’t mind hearing about your story in its infancy. Most importantly, friends who you trust to be honest with you, even if they don’t think you’re going to like the answer. 

Take a break

If you’ve taken your project’s problems to the freewriting page, you’ve met a writing buddy for coffee to talk it out and you still don’t know how to fix your project, it might be time to take a break. Set the project aside for a while, and work on something else. Note that I don’t suggest avoiding writing altogether. I suggest taking a break from that specific writing project.

The reason for this is simple. You want to keep exercising your writing skills. Every bit of writing teaches us something. And remember, your brain is still working on problems even when you’re not actively thinking about them. So while you’re writing a bit of poetry, your subconscious is still working through the problems with your space opera. 

I don’t suggest taking too much time away from a problem project, though. Otherwise, the subconscious will forget. My rule of thumb is no more than a week.

Is this the story you want to tell?

Before I even go into this, let me be clear. This is a last resort. This is not going to be the case most of the time. 

That being said, sometimes a story just isn’t one that you want to tell. Sometimes it’s a great idea, but you aren’t the person to write it. 

There’s no shame in this. Maybe you tried a different genre and it’s just not working for you. I, for example, love reading historical fiction. I do not love writing it. That does not mean that I am a bad writer. It just means that I have a genre that I’m good at writing, and several genres that I am not good at writing.

Of course, there are other reasons a story might not work. It’s hard for me to tell you how to spot this problem because it’s a personal problem. But deep down, we as creators know when our creation just isn’t working out. 

It’s okay to know when to quit. Just so long as you can truly say that you’ve given it your best try. 

Creative burnout when the world is on fire

You can support Paper Beats World on Ko-fi.

I’d already planned to write this post today before the train wreck in North Palestine Ohio. It’s one of those coincidences that doesn’t feel coincidental. 

I’m not in Ohio, but I am in the dangerous range. We could smell the chemicals in our little town. My throat burned when I went outside. Thank God, we weren’t downriver. But we were downwind. 

The people who are living in North Palestine are living in poisoned land. They are hurting, they are suffering, and they are livid. They should be. 

I am living in tainted land. And I am pissed about it. 

I’m so pissed, that it’s been kind of hard to write. 

This isn’t the first time. I don’t need to tell you what I’ve been struggling with, because you’re struggling with it, too. Flint Michigan still doesn’t have clean water. Cops are continuing to murder innocent black people with little to no repercussions. Living is becoming increasingly unaffordable. Oh, and last year half of us lost the right to make medical decisions about our own bodies. 

And what am I doing? I’m writing my little stories about ghosts, dragons, and spaceships.

When the world is burning around us, it is easy to feel like creating art is worse than pointless. In the years since 2020, I have actively felt like I was almost mocking the world by writing and publishing stories. What did my work matter, with everything going on? What does any of our work matter? Thoughts like that are enough to still any pen. 

But stories do matter. Stories about the dark and dismal parts of our lives matter. And we have seen this in both classic and modern literature. Stories can tell truths about our world in ways that make them easier to handle. They can shine light into deep shadows we can’t, or won’t, see into. They can give us a glimpse into other people’s lives, so we can understand their world better. So we can empathize with people who live far different lives than we do. 

If you don’t think this is powerful, ask yourself this. Why are politicians working so hard to ban books? 

That being said, a lot of what I write doesn’t have a damn thing to do with current world events. My last book was about a haunted apartment building. So, am I still wasting my time if I’m not writing serious literature about the horrors we’re facing? 

Well, let me ask you something. What did you do the last time you were overwhelmed by the world?

Did you read a book? Watch tv or a movie? Listen to music? 

I did. Hell, there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t do all three of those things. Stories get me through the worst of times. And I’m willing to bet they do the same for you.

So, why wouldn’t we put out stories for other people? If I can write a little ghost story that helps someone through a hard time, why not do it? That sure doesn’t sound like a waste of time to me. 

Thoughts like that are enough to get my pen moving. I hope they do the same for you.

And check out last week’s post, when we talked about creative burnout caused by trying to survive.

Creative burnout, surviving is hard

If you love what we do here on Paper Beats World, please consider supporting us on Ko-fi.

I sat down today, planning to write a blog post about creative burn out. I wanted to talk about the reasons why you might be feeling burned out creatively, and what you can do about it. As I started writing, though, I realized that this wasn’t going to fit in one post. It wasn’t going to fit in two, either. In order to say everything I feel needs to be said, this is going to be a whole series.

The reason is simple. Creative burnout comes in all sorts of noxious flavors. And just like you can’t care for a headache the same as a stomach bug, you need to care for different creative burnouts in different ways. 

Today, I want to talk about the most common form of Creative Burnout. Good old fashioned life burn out. 

We’re all busy. I work over 40 hours a week in my day job. I work for Haunted MTL, writing reviews and co-running our social media. I have a home to care for, a family to care for, and a me to care for. And I would like to be involved in politics at least a little, because we should all do that.

Then, I also write books and podcasts. You know, in my free time. 

I am not unique. The things we need to do in a day usually take more time than the day holds. We know this, and yet we keep right on trying to shove thirty-eight hours of activities into twenty-four. Surprise, this leads to burnout. 

The easiest way to deal with burn out is to avoid it in the first place. This starts by making sure that your needs are met first. Get enough sleep, eat good food, drink water. Move your body a little every day, even if it’s just a quick dance break in your kitchen. Make and keep doctor’s appointments. It’s a lot harder to get burned out if you’re well rested, full of veggies and hydrated. 

The next thing I do to avoid burn out is to plan my life. You all know I’m a big fan of planning, and this is why. Take at least one day off a week. Celebrate days that matter to you by putting as much of your work away as you can. As a witch, I honor Full and New Moons, Sabbats, and the feast days of my two favorite saints. These, along with the more well known holidays, are built in breaks from work that we all need. 

Of course, you don’t have to honor the same days as everyone else. It’s just important that you’re taking regularly scheduled breaks, and putting them into your planner first. 

Last year, I treated myself to a course from Lisa Jacobs called the Fast Track Toolkit. This isn’t sponsored, I just really got a lot out of the course. And one of the biggest thing I learned is that I was trying to do too much at one time. I was writing huge to do lists every day, which wore on me emotionally. Even though there was no way I was going to get it all done, each item on that list was a weight on me all day. And when I consistently didn’t get the list done, I felt like I’d failed. When I really paired down all of my projects, and focused on just a few items at a time, I found that I was less stressed and got more done. If you can do this course, I suggest it. 

On a similar note, I’ve all but stopped multitasking. It’s a hard habit to break, but absolutely necessary. I don’t know if I need to go into a lot of detail here, because we all know that multitasking is a bad idea by this time. Multitasking is the Millenial’s version of smoking, just in case you haven’t heard. Focusing on one task at a time is going to help you get that task done better, and with less stress. 

All this being said, most people are just not going to be able to avoid burn out all the time. I absolutely understand that not everyone can do any or all the things in this post because I cannot do all the things on this post. Deadlines sneak up on us, emergencies happen. Life finds away to mess itself up. And of course, just taking care of your needs is literally impossible sometimes. Frankly, inflation is eating us all alive right now, and we have to make some hard decisions. We don’t always have the ability to have good food in the house, and are going to have to rely on cheap, fast food. We don’t all have the luxury to take a personal day from our day job. Many of us are working multiple jobs just to, you know, not starve or be homeless. 

Sometimes, burnout is impossible to avoid in today’s world. And if you are burned out, it’s important to remember two things. One, it’s not your fault. You didn’t do anything wrong. And two, you are sick. You may not be physically ill yet, but you are still sick. So you need to treat yourself like you’re sick.

Sleep as much as you can. Take long showers. Eat food that fills you, physically and emotionally. Drink tea with lots of honey. Say no to literally everything you can say no to. Do this until you feel better. No matter how long that takes. Just like when you’re physically sick, if you keep pushing yourself it’s going to get worse to the point that you cannot push through. Then, it’s going to take even longer to heal.

If you ever do.

TLDR: Burn out is real, and prevention is the best medicine. If you cannot prevent it, remember that you’re sick and you need to give yourself time and care to heal. 

I don’t just watch tv, tips for writing reviews part two

Paper Beats World is a labor of love. If you love what we do, please consider supporting us on Ko-fi.

Last week we talked about my job as a horror critic for Haunted MTL. And it turned out that I had more to say about the topic than one post alone could hold. So I’m back today with more advice for any aspiring critics. 

Whereas last week we talked about the writing of reviews themselves, today I want to talk about building a career as a critic. Because there are things to consider that I never thought of before I started writing reviews. Some are pretty common sense. Some, I wish I’d understood sooner. 

What are you going to write about?

When writing reviews, what you write about is as important as how you write about it. I can write the best review you ever read in your life, complete with witty quips, background information, and a detailed explanation of the content. And it doesn’t matter at all if it’s for a story nobody gave a damn about in the first place.

I find it’s worked well for me to specialize, but not strictly. I review just about all of the works of Ryan Murphy, for example. This allows me to compare and contrast his work, with a greater understanding of his career as a whole. Sometimes that means I’m hit with a massive load of work at once, like late in 2022 when The Watcher, American Horror Story, Dahmer, and Mr. Harrington’s phone all came out at once. Sometimes I have nothing Murphy-related to review, though. So I have a few sub-specialties. I review horror podcasts and true crime content.

However, this doesn’t stop me from reviewing other work. It’s based on what is trending, what is coming out soon, and what I think people might be interested in. 

(By the way, if you are a horror writer and you have a book you’d like me to review, hit me up. I am currently accepting arcs.)

Keeping a professional relationship with creators

In the last post, I talked about reviewing bad works. I mean, really bad. And yes, it is my job as a critic to talk about bad work. It’s my job to explain why it’s bad. It is not my job, nor is it a good idea, to tell the creator that their work was bad.

Occasionally, I am sent arcs and screeners for upcoming works. These are always met with a heartfelt thank you. I do not care if the work is bad. I am happy they thought enough of my reviews to send their work to me. And, as a creator myself, I always want to treat them as I’d want to be treated. 

If I don’t have the time, I’ll respectfully decline and suggest another critic from the site. If I do accept their work to review, I always make sure to send a follow-up email after the review is posted, thanking them again and providing them a link. 

I never give a creator unsolicited notes on their work. I certainly would never tell them that their work was bad. That is rude, unprofessional, and frankly uncalled for.

You’ll notice that I’m also not badmouthing any of the work here. That’s just in poor taste. I did my review, I don’t need to drag a piece all over the internet. 

The point is that I’m a professional. It’s important to keep a professional relationship with creators. 

Creating trust with your readers

More important than my relationship with creators is my relationship with my readers. People who read reviews are doing so for one reason. They want to know if a book, movie, tv show, or podcast is any good. Is it worth their time? Should they read or watch or listen to this one over another one? And I always want to give the most honest answer I can for that.

This is why I am upfront when I get an arc or screener. This doesn’t impact whether or not I like something, of course. And I’ll never lie and say I like a show that I don’t. 

I want people to know that I’m going to be honest with them. Even if I love a creator, I’m going to say if their work is trash. There have been some shining examples of bad work from good creators. There has been some work that I wanted to like, that I just didn’t. I am always honest about that. Integrity is essential for a critic. If you lose that, you lose your career.

I also don’t get into arguments online with people about content. Art is subjective as hell. Just because I liked something, even though I have very good reasons to like it, doesn’t mean everyone is going to. Just because I thought something was hot garbage, and I sure have very good reasons for that too, doesn’t mean someone’s wrong for liking it. Again, I am a professional. I need to act like one. Besides, arguing about art online is like getting into a shit-ball fight. No one has fun, no one wins, and everyone stinks. 

If you have any questions about critic work, please feel free to ask them below. I’ll be happy to answer them as best as I can. 

Get Quiet Apocalypse now on Amazon or Smashwords

A Website.

Up ↑