Instrumental Music is Instrumental

Mini Marshmallow – 30 March, 2015

Instrumental Music is Instrumental

In the previous Mini Marshmallow, I talked about my favourite writing tool: Cold Turkey. I pair Cold Turkey with some instrumental music or nature sounds. I usually need some kind of background noise when I work. It’s just too quiet otherwise.

Background noise keeps our subconscious mind busy. If we give it has something to listen to, we can focus on writing.

This week, I’d like to share three of my favourite pieces with you (all links go to YouTube videos):

1 Hour Meditation Music (103) by Yellow Brick Cinema. One hour of softly flowing piano music. I never thought a piano could sound so gentle and soothing, but it can.

Ocean Breeze (long playlist) by Relaxdaily. A two-hour mix of the composer’s original instrumental melodies. I especially love the seamless transitions between the songs. You get a lot of variety, which makes your subconscious mind happy, and without any sudden changes, which makes you happy because it doesn’t break your concentration.

Bamboo Water Fountain by Relaxing White Noise. There’s nothing like the sound of moving water to make me feel like I’m home. The splashing of the water in this video is understated, so you don’t get overwhelmed.

If these are too relaxing for you, look for videos that are more suitable. Here are some search terms to get you started: instrumental music, background noise, white noise, study, focus, ambience and soundscape.

Combine the above words with the kind of music or sounds you would like. Some examples include beach, waves, rain, coffee shop, wind in trees, dolphin, whale, summer, guitar, piano and flute.

And remember the number one rule of using YouTube: don’t read the comments! Just enjoy the videos.

Have fun and happy writing,


Goodbye, Terry Pratchett

I was nineteen when I first read Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. Maybe twenty. I don’t remember now. But I do remember how I instantly fell in love with the book. I remember reading it and thinking, “Someone else feels the same way as me! I’m not the only one!”

Good Omens was funny, clever and witty. It took a familiar subject and gave it such a twist that you wondered whether this was the original and everything else was a copy. But it was also much more than that.

Woven into the prose was good dose of social commentary, frustration with humanity and the strong desire to create a better world. I lost myself in the story because I saw myself in their writing. I felt less alone, as if I’d found kindred spirits, and wanted to shout to the world that these guys Got It; that they understood what was wrong with people, and what was right and beautiful about them. I became an immediate fan of both writers, especially of Pratchett and his Discworld series (although I loved his other works as well).

Terry Pratchett passed away on the 12th of March.

I am grateful for every single word he gave us. He wrote fiction, but it was filled with truth. Even when I didn’t agree with him, I still felt that he was a genuine, warm and good person. He wrote what he believed in, what he saw so clearly and what he felt so deeply. I bonded with so many people over his work. I will miss him and his authenticity so much.

So goodbye for now, Terry Pratchett. I hope we can meet up one day, on a flat world filled with magic, and I can tell you in person how much you meant to me.


No prompts this weeks; I hope that’s okay.

Mini Marshmallow 16 March (Procrastination)

Hi everyone!

This week’s Mini Marshmallow features one of the most helpful writing tools I’ve ever encountered.

Cold Turkey ( is a programme you can install on your computer to block distracting sites so you can get to work.

You enter the sites you want to block and for how long, and then activate the programme. That’s it.

What I especially like about Cold Turkey is that it’s very kind to you if you forget and visit a blocked site. Instead of a harsh reminder, you’re presented with a pleasant outdoor scene and an uplifting quote. Here’s the one I just got:

‘Either you run the day or the day runs you.’
– Jim Rohn

Am I ready to get back to work or what?

If you use a Mac, there’s a similar programme called Self Control (

We’re human. We have days when it’s harder to focus than others. Procrastination doesn’t mean we’re bad, wrong or lazy. It just means we need a little extra help getting to work. That’s all.

Happy writing and until next week,

Have Montages Ruined Your Life?

Starting a new project is so invigorating. It’s exciting to open to a fresh page and uncap that new pen, or open a new document. It could be writing something for yourself, for school or or work. You always see the final result so clearly in your mind. It will be such a triumph! A masterpiece of epic proportions! You will get all the gold stars and the praise, and maybe even frame your project and hang it on the wall.

Then you start working. After about fifteen minutes, you begin to despair. Why is this taking so long? Why is it so difficult? You know what you want and you’re willing to work for it. So where are the results?

I blame montages. You know that scene in a movie or TV show where the main character refines her skill to the tune of an inspirational song? It’s usually something like a combination of hitting a punching bag, studying, running up and down stairs, practising her dancing and martial arts, then a sequence of winning minor competitions in anticipation of the main one. Montages are short yet powerful, and I think they’ve had a strong subliminal effect on many of us (most definitely including me).

We may know logically that purpose of the montage is to move the story forward. We want to see the main character achieve her goals and defeat the bad guys, not watch hours and hours of her studying or training. We may know that, but what if you have nothing to replace that image? What if you were never taught how to learn? Or you were taught that studying and learning meant sitting in one spot for hours on end? Of course you’d be frustrated and disillusioned.

The antidote is small steps. Write a small amount every day. If you can write more, great! Go for it. But if you can’t, that’s fine as well. Small steps add up to so much. It’s been proven, for example, that you’ll get a better result on an exam if you study for short periods of time each day. Cramming the night before only leaves you stressed, tired and unlikely to retain information. In the same way, writing for short periods each day will result in you feeling much happier with yourself, proud of your work and your progress, and the ability to experience the joy of writing.

Replace the image of the montage with something that represents consistency. I use a calendar and tick off the completed tasks at the end of the day. It might be something different for you: a vision board, a list of your accomplishments, little rewards for finishing your work, or a combination. All that matters is that it helps you have fun with your work and be consistent in your writing.

We can still get frustrated, don’t get me wrong. We’d all like to write even faster, produce more work and get recognition. But that’s usually just the montage effect, trying to ruin our lives, and we’re not going to let it win. Small steps, every day. We can do it.

Buffy: I thought it was gonna be like in the movies. You know, inspirational music, a montage: me sharpening my pencils, me reading, writing, falling asleep on a big pile of books with my glasses all crooked, ’cause in my montage I have glasses. But real life is slow and it’s starting to hurt my occipital lobe.
Out of My Mind, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season Five Episode Four.

This week’s prompts

Use the following prompts to start a new piece, continue an existing one or to just have fun with words:

1. The tea bag catapulted through the air…
2. This new hand cream moisturises as well as…
3. Which superpower would you rather have and why: shooting lightning bolts from your hands, super speed or telepathy?
4. The glittery, green, gallivanting gargoyle…
5. I logged into my email and saw the most amazing thing…

Questions? Suggestions? Feel free to drop me a line at Use the sign up box to receive the newsletter (and future offers) directly. You can also follow or contact me via Facebook, Linked In, YouTube or Tumblr.

Mini Marshmallow – 02 March (Challenges)

Hi everyone!

My Manuscript Reading service is up and running. Subscribers get a €35 discount. Not bad, right?

Thank you for being here and thank you for reading! On to this week’s Mini Marshmallow.



Bart: I thought you came here looking for a challenge.
Lisa: Duh! A challenge I could do!

The Secret War of Lisa Simpson: The Simpsons, Season Eight, Episode 25

This is me exactly. I want a challenge. But it had better not be too much of a challenge! It can’t be frustrating and should be completed in a reasonable amount of time (i.e. ten minutes, tops). And I’d better be really, really good at it.

Those are the kinds of challenges I like.

Are those the kinds of challenges you like as well?

We know that challenges help us grow stronger. If everything came to us easily, we wouldn’t really learn anything. We know that, but my goodness, I really do wish things would be a little easier sometimes.

If you’re being challenged by your writing, that’s very normal and very human. You are not alone. Be honest about your frustration. Take a moment to breathe and centre yourself. Then find a way to reconnect with your work. For me, it’s the above quote. It makes me laugh and reminds me that some things just take time, no matter how much I’d like to rush the process. For you, it might also be a quote. It could also be a picture, aperson or a particular work. Or a variety of things.

Whatever it is, remember that you’re not alone, you’re doing just fine and to keep on writing.

For extra smiles, here’s an adorable comic series:

Ichabod the Optimistic Canine by Ayla StarDragon.

Ichabod loves life and turns every challenge into an opportunity. Truly a role model for us all.

Happy writing!



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