Mini Marshmallow – 02 March (Challenges)

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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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Something We All Need to Hear

By Zee, Two Marshmallows

Hey there! How’s the writing going? Not so great? Yeah, that can happen. All those words going round and round in your head, and just as you try to write them down, they vanish! What’s all that about? It wouldn’t kill them to stick around a little longer, would it?

And what about those times when you do manage to get them on the page, but then you read them over and you think they sound terrible? That’s the worst. It’s hard to tell if they’re actually terrible or if you just think they’re terrible. All you know is that your skin is crawling with embarrassment and you have to look away.

Oh, and what about when you said you would absolutely, definitely get to writing today, but you haven’t been able to, and that makes five whole days that you haven’t written. And okay, your schedule has been kind of messed up because things have been so busy, but still. You should be able to get some writing done, right? Why is this all so difficult?

It’s okay.

You’re doing super great.

You really are.

Why, just look at all you’ve accomplished so far! It’s quite a lot. A few less-than-ideal days don’t discount what you’ve already done.

Writing has its ups and downs. During the down times, take a little break and give yourself some distance from your work. You’ll come back to it feeling refreshed and energised. The words will flow. What you wrote before was actually pretty good. It’s once again easy to be consistent and write on a regular basis.

In the meantime, be good to yourself. You’re doing super great. You really are.


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. Delicate embroidery and light…
2. The door handle rattled and…
3. Potato fun night!
4. Giant squid will…
5. What’s a question you’ve always wanted someone to ask you, but no one ever has?

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Falling Behind

I wasn’t planning to write about this topic for the newsletter. It was going to contain some writing advice, as per usual. But this is what came out instead.

In the past three weeks, I’ve been ill twice. Most of my time has therefore been spent on completing work for clients and then catching up on essential household tasks (in that order). During this time, I have had exactly five opportunities to work on my personal writing, and each session was very short.

You’d better believe I’m annoyed. And frustrated. And angry.

I love writing. I love playing around with words and re-arranging them until they’re just right. I love it so much that I do it for a living. I love it so much that I’m working on several novels (they all started as short stories and kept getting longer). So if I love it so much, how could I allow myself to fall so far behind? Am I just lazy? Am I just pretending to love writing because I think it sounds cool? (“Oh, I’m a writer, don’t you know,” I imagine myself saying as I flip my scarf over my shoulder.) How could I let myself go for so long without working on my personal projects?

When I told a close friend that I was very disappointed in my progress, she said, “You’re being too hard on yourself.”

And the thing is, that’s exactly what I’d say to someone who told me that illness and work commitments had prevented them from writing. I’d tell them, “Don’t be so hard on yourself. Five writing sessions in twenty-one days is still an achievement, even if they were short. You at least made the effort to write when you could – you could have easily chosen not to.”

So why is it so hard to believe this also applies to me?

I don’t know. But I’ve noticed a lot of people feel the same way – what they accept about others, they can’t accept about themselves.

If you feel you’ve fallen behind, or that you should be writing more than you have been, I unfortunately don’t have any advice for you that will fix everything. I wish I did, because then maybe it would help me as well. All I can say is that you’re not alone. So let’s get back to writing. We’ll do it together. Grab a pen, or start up the computer, and start writing. Let’s make the time for it, right now, in this instant. We can easily pick up where we left off. The words will always be there, waiting patiently for us, no matter how long it’s been.

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. Sparkly bottles of…
2. Which fictional spaceship is your favourite?
3. The one thing I know about hot air balloons is…
4. One stroke of the paintbrush and…
5. The copper lid clattered to the floor…

It’s a Blue Flame in Your Heart

If you’ve read my book, you’ll know that I take an intuitive painting class. Intuitive painting is about spontaneously painting what comes up from within you. The focus is on expressing yourself, not on form, technique or what your picture looks like.

Each student knows this, and yet we all still worry about appearances: the colours we’ve used, that something doesn’t look realistic, or that our paintings are just really weird.

One common issue is that we’ll see an image so clearly in our minds, but it refuses to translate into a painting. The same thing can happen with writing: the words you put on the page don’t match the ones you had in your head. It’s very frustrating.

One day, the image of a glorious blue flame came to mind. It was composed of different shades of blue – pale, sky and dark – and so bright and alive. I was energised and immediately began to paint. I couldn’t wait to recreate it.

You know where this is going. It didn’t look like a blue flame at all. It looked like a flower. A spiky flower. It was kind of a cross between a tulip and Bart Simpson’s hair. I don’t know why my beautiful blue flame turned out that way, but it did. I wasn’t happy at all.

When my teacher complimented my work, my response was to complain about the blue flower that was meant to be a flame. My teacher quietly listened to me, and I when I stopped talking, she said, “Don’t worry about what it looks like. It’s a blue flame in your heart.” She went on to explain that just because something doesn’t look like what you expect, doesn’t mean it lacks value or beauty. She added that this was the point of the class – it’s not what our paintings look like, it’s what they actually are; what they mean to us and what they represent. And who’s to say that my painting can’t be both a flower and a flame?

When I’m writing something and it doesn’t come out the way I imagined, I tell myself, ‘It’s okay, it’s a blue flame in my heart.’ I sometimes substitute the intention as well: ‘It’s okay, it was a funny story in my heart.’ ‘It’s okay, it was an examination of twenty-first century online culture and representations of gender in my heart.’ There’s a reason the piece turned out differently than expected. It’s up to me to figure out the reason why. I can then do any necessary rewriting, or just accept the result and enjoy it.

This doesn’t quite work for copywriting, of course. If a client wants me to write about computers, I can’t turn in a text about an apple tree in bloom and tell them it was about computers in my heart. But unexpected results for copywriting can still tell you something, if you’re willing to listen. (You shouldn’t submit those results to your client, of course. Just don’t dismiss them out of hand.)

So don’t be discouraged if what was in your heart doesn’t quite match what is on the page. Enjoy it, and then see what you can make of it. Maybe it’s perfect, just as it is.


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. Confetti razor blades
2. A telemarketer called and wanted my…
3. The purple lotion flowed…
4. A simmering pot, filled with…
5. Scroll down for the…

Questions? Suggestions? Feel free to drop me a line at You can also follow or contact me via Facebook, Linked In, YouTube or Tumblr.