Wednesday, December 31, 2014

How to Accomplish Absolutely Anything

It’s a bold claim, isn’t it—that this blog is the key to accomplishing absolutely anything in your life? Perhaps it is bold, but that’s what this blog is all about: finding ways to achieve your biggest dreams and to change your life.

Like a genie granting three wishes, there are limitations, but the following skill is one of the most important things I have ever learned and I guarantee it can help you manage stress, achieve your dreams, and improve your life. And being that it’s a new year tomorrow, there is not better time to implement this life-changing skill.

So how do you accomplish absolutely anything?

Proper goal-setting.

I truly believe our lives are in our control, but we’re hindered by circumstance, motivation, and distractions. Proper goal-setting treads a path that leads us to the life we want. This step-by-step guide, inspired by psychologist Gerard Egan’s skilled helper model, is easy and fun to do!

Before we begin, I’m going to establish the rules of proper goal-setting. Your goals must:

1.) Be something you have control over
2.) Have a timeline
3.) Be measurable

For example, “I want to sell my book to a Big 6 publisher and become a famous author” is not a valid goal because it does not contain the three necessary qualities for success. However, “I want to finish writing my manuscript by January 31st” has all three of the qualities for a successful goal.

Ready to accomplish something awesome? Grab a piece of paper and a pen and follow along…

Step 1: Brainstorm Statements of Good Intention

Use your piece of paper to write down as many statements of good intentions as you possibly can! Statements of good intentions are just things you would like to do. Think broad and go until you’re out of ideas!

Examples: I want to finish writing my book, I want to run a successful blog, I want to make new friends, I want to travel, I want to exercise more, I want to spend more time with my family, I want to get a new job, etc.

Step 2: Choose between 2-4 Statements of Good Intentions.

You don’t want to overwhelm yourself with too many goals, but you also want to start 2015 off right, and you want to challenge yourself. Choose the most important things on your list and write them down. I’ll use the statement of good intention of “I want to finish my novel” as a building block for the next examples.

Step 3: Create a broad goal

Now, we’re going to narrow down our statement of good intention into a more manageable goal.

Example: “I will make writing my novel a part of my daily routine.”

You may notice your statement of good intention can be broken into many broad goals. For example, a statement of good intention of “I want to be healthier” could have broad goals of: I want to start running, I want to drink more water, or I want to eat more vegetables. Choose one and direct your attention on that. After you create a detailed plan to achieve that goal, you can move onto the next one.

Write your broad goals down for each statement of good intention.

Step 4: Create a specific goal

In this step, you create a very specific goal based off of your broad goal. Try to be as detailed as possible.

Example: “I will write 1000 words of my novel everyday”.

Write your specific goals down for each broad goal.

Step 5: Create a manageable goal

In this step, we put timelines on our specific goals to make sure we can judge our progress.

Examples: By January 31st, I will have written 30, 000 words of my novel.

Write your manageable goals down for each specific goal.

Step 6: Create plans to achieve your goals.

Take a good look at your measurable goals and think about the barriers in the way of achieving them. Then, write down steps you can take to help you achieve your goal. For example, if your specific goal is to start running regularly three times a week by the end of the month, a barrier may be a lack of self-discipline. A plan to overcome this may be to join a running group that will hold you accountable. This step may be different for each goal, but try to write out about 3 plans for each goal.

Example: Barriers to writing 30, 000 words of my novel by January 31st include a hectic schedule and distraction from family and friends. My plan to overcome these barriers is:
1) I will set aside a certain time each day to write.
2) If I know I will be busy in the days coming up, I will write more on other days to maintain my word count goal.
3) I will tell friends and family members so they understand when I need time to write.
4) I will treat myself to a night out on February 1st if I achieve my goal.

And that’s it! 

Remember, goals are meant to challenge you! You have the ability to inspire yourself and achieve anything in the world. Goals are a map to the heart. Good luck! Please share your goals with me and have a happy, healthy, adventurous 2015! There is much excitement on the horizon.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Seven Steps to Mostly Painless Editing

I can definitely relate to the image here! I had always thought that writing the first draft was the longest and most time-consuming step of writing a novel - did Eternal ever prove me wrong! Here are my tips on doing a thorough editing job:


1. Create a detailed outline.
I know there are a lot of "pantsers" out there who just like to start writing and see where it takes them, but I am certainly not one of these people. I strongly believe the more work you put into your outline, the easier the whole process is - for me, at least. If you work hard on a sturdy, thorough outline, it'll save you tons of headaches in the future when it comes to plot holes and pacing. I learned this the hard way.

2. For the first draft, just type.
If I ever make it big, I'm putting the inventor of Write or Die in my acknowledgements. It's a website that you write in, has no spell or grammar checker, records how long you've been writing for and how many words you've written...oh yeah, and punishes you if you stop writing. First drafts are supposed to be raw and gritty and full of gems buried beneath poor grammar and awkward sentences. It's all about getting the characters out of your brain and walking around on their own.

3. Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite.
Once I have my first draft down, I rewrite the entire book. Okay, maybe retype is a better word for it. But essentially, I rewrite the book into a new word document, smoothing out sentences, changing around scenes, and adding or cutting things in order to improve the plot. Some scenes remain similar, and others are unrecognizably.

4. Print it out.
There's something about staring at a piece of paper compared to a computer screen that changes the way you think. Step 4 is my favourite part of the revision process: I print the entire book out and read it out loud. I mark typos, inconsistencies, scenes that don't work, and awkward dialogue. Reading your own work out loud is eye-opening: things that sounded good in your head just don't make sense once given breath. I find this step fun and rewarding: you finally get to see a complete manuscript that is more-or-else complete. All your hard-work is beginning to pay-off!

5. Implement the changes.
This is where I go back to my word document and make all the changes I had written on paper. If certain scenes need to be completely re-written, I'll go back to Step 3.

6. Final readthrough.
Are you sick of your book yet? In this step, I read the whole thing on the computer again, just double checking to make sure the manuscript is as strong as possible.

7. Share your work!
Whoo, this step is fun, exciting, nerve-wracking, and frustrating! Here's where you bug your mom, your dad, your friends, your critique partner, your writing group, whoever you want, to read your book. There's nothing like talking about your book with someone who just finished reading it. There's no feeling like someone generally enjoying the journey you took them on.

Well there you go: my Seven Steps to Mostly Painless Editing! Of course, you may need to do these seven steps several times, but this will definitely get your book in tip-top shape. If you'd like to see a condensed version, check out our video for some more editing tips!

 How do you guys do your editing?

Sunday, December 21, 2014

My Week in Pictures | December 12th 14- December 18th 14

Friday December 12th 

I went to the Twilight food fair. It was really nice, relaxed. They had wonderful live carols playing.

Saturday December 13th 

I went for a walk and did some writing, then babysat at night.

Sunday December 14th 

How NOT to box dye your hair is up on our YouTube. It's a flashback to before I left when I forced Kate into dying her hair blonde.

Monday December 15th 

Another normal day of shopping and laundry! 10 DAYS TILL CHRISTMAS!

Tuesday December 16th 

The little girl and I went to Dee Why beach, although it was a little cold and windy! 

A photo posted by Leah Helen Rooper (@leahrooper) on

Wednesday December 17th 

I worked on another YouTube video about a great fun gift! The Jack Horner Pie! Check out how to make one HERE!

Thursday December 18th 

I went to a faraway mall ( AND I'M PRETTY SURE I LOST MY CAMERA :( ) My day got even worse when I got lost and drove over the harbor bridge and ended up in Sydney during rush hour! So stressful.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

5 Tips for Spending Christmas Abroad

Hi everyone,

Leah here. As many of you know, this year I am spending my holidays this year in Australia. It is my first Christmas ever away from home. (My mothers first Christmas in 25 years without me, as she so liked to remind me!)

Yes it’s a little sad, and the closer it gets to Christmas, the more those little homesick pangs come! (If I was at home I’d be doing this and this at home!)

However, there are a couple things I’m doing this year to really embrace being away from home during the holidays!

If you’re spending Christmas abroad please share your stories down below with me!

1.) Embrace the Difference

DO NOT spend your holidays picking apart everything that is different from home. Of course things are different, you're in a brand new place! I doubt you moved just to have things stay the same. . The differences can be as small as having apple pie instead of pumpkin, or as big as having a Christmas BBQ instead of a turkey dinner. Whatever it may be look at everything with a smile, and an open mind.

2.) Incorporate your own Traditions

So everything is super different abroad! Share some of your own Christmas traditions, whether its  with backpacking friends, or if you’re staying with a family like me, try and add in your own Christmas touch! Think about what really makes the holidays special for you and share it with the people around you. This can be anything from a holiday treat, favourite movie, or game. For example, every year my family does a Jack Horner Pie, and I made one for my host family.

3.) Connect with Home

Don’t try and NOT miss home. You’re going be a little homesick. Try and make it a little easier and plan some skype calls. My mother filmed my family putting up the Christmas tree and sent it to me. I found lots of fun Christmas cards and little souvenirs, so I made sure to send my family back an Australian Christmas package.

Even try and connect with home around you. Meet up with other expats,  take comfort in swapping stories from back home. Just searching facebooks groups, or couch surfers is a great way to connect with people. (Always remember to do it in a public setting!!)

I taped up all the Christmas cards I received and taped them up beside my bed to remind me of home.

4.) Take Ideas with Home

This tip goes hand in hand with the first tip. Once you really embrace your Christmas abroad you may really come to love some of these new traditions. Try and join in on as many of the new Christmas activities as you can. Your favourite ones you can take home with you, and make a truly wonderful and unique Christmas next year!

5.) Create memories

Try and many new things as you can! Takes lots of picture. Buy a special reminder. For me, I bought a special Christmas ordainment, that will always remind me of my Christmas in Australia.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Just remember, this is probably going to be your only Christmas EVER where you are right now! SO MAKE THE MOST OF IT!

If you'd like to see my Christmas in Australia Video click the picture below!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

My Week in Pictures | December 5th 14- December 11th 14

Friday December 5th

We went to this super fun toboggan park, and went zipping down this long metal slide on a sled.  I even got to play in the bouncy castle!

A video posted by Leah Helen Rooper (@leahrooper) on

Saturday December 6th 

We drove home! I spent the day relaxing inside. The drawing I was working on isn't complete. So here's my drawing of Rey from the Star Wars the Force Awakens ( BEYOND EXCITED)

Sunday December 7th

We had some crazy storms across Sydney. I love storms. The little girl and I spent some time watching them out of the window!

A photo posted by Leah Helen Rooper (@leahrooper) on

Monday December 8th 

Got a lovely postcard from my Aunt! Very nice :) My host kid really liked the orca whales on it!

Tuesday December 9th 

Went to the library for dinosaur book reading and crafts!

Wednesday December 9th 

Skyped with this greasy bastard

Thursday December 11th 

Filmed our newest YouTube video. How to make a Jack Horner Pie. A fun unique group Christmas gift :)

Thursday, December 11, 2014

5 Tips to Surviving Exam Week

Hey guys! Kate here.

I know you haven’t heard from me on the blog, Twitter, or Instagram in…welp, a really long time, but it’s been a pretty ridiculous winter. Between winning NaNoWriMo, working full-time, and finishing my semester of college, I have been crazy busy!

I’m on the tail-end of my exams, with only one more to go, and I’ll fully admit it’s been stressful. The pressure of wanting to excel (or just pass) an exam, coupled with all the other responsibilities in a student’s life can be overwhelming. As I look around at my friends and classmates, I see not only are some of them just stressed, but they’re cracking under the pressure.

Exams are, of course, going to be a time of exhaustion and anxiety, but there are ways to make them a bit more bearable. As a student, I will fully admit there’s no “Quick Cure to Exam Stress” or “Easy Way to Ace your Exams!” but these five tips definitely help me stay sane when I’m buried in notes and flashcards.

1. Make a schedule and stick to it. Man, this is so important. Exams are a huge portion of your grade, so telling yourself you’ll study when you have time just won’t cut it. As soon as you get your exam schedule, plan the one-to-two weeks leading up it around your study schedule. Fit in work, any important social arrangements you have to attend, and any last minute assignments, and then build your study schedule so you have plenty of time to review. If you can, give yourself an extra day for each exam to study; it always takes longer to get something down than you think.

2. Give yourself some downtime. While you're building your schedule, make sure you don’t fill it all up with studying. Yes, you need to know the material, but burning out or pulling all-nighters isn’t going to help you either. Make sure you give yourself an hour each day to digest by watching a television show, or going for a walk. Clearing your brain will help you remember the material and keep you from feeling overwhelmed.

3. Find a study method that works for you. Okay, you might not believe me, but if you’re not doing well on tests, there’s a really good chance it’s just because you haven’t found the right way to study. People learn differently. I, for example, am the hugest enthusiast of flash cards you will ever meet. Flash cards are amazing because they help you review the material while you write it down, but they also cause you to think about the material differently when you compose the questions. And then they train your brain to do exactly what it needs to do on a test: recall! But some people may find another method works better: re-writing their notes by hand, or studying in groups. Experiment until you find what helps you the most. Every test will get easier and easier once you do.

4. Trust yourself. You’ve attended the lectures, taken notes, studied, and yet you’re still telling yourself you’re going to fail, or do horribly. Why? If you’ve done everything you can do, then have a little faith in yourself. A lot more of the information will come back to you than you think. Also, I’m a big believer in positive psychology. I’m not talking The Secret stuff, but what you believe does have ways of formulating your thoughts and actions. Before the exam, stand in front of the mirror, raise your arms in a champion pose, and say: “I am going to ace this exam!” Don’t believe this will work? Listen to an expert.

5. Look to the future. When you’re in the blackest of black places, swamped with notes and facts and your hands are calloused from holding a pencil, remember: this doesn’t last forever. Look forward to what you’ll do as soon as exams are done, and also look even further and remember why you’re in school in the first place. Then buckle down and get to work.

Exams are stressful, and long, and they require huge amounts of mental energy. But keep in mind you’re willingly going to school, and you’re putting your money into this. Exam time is about you and your learning!

Good luck everyone!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

My Week in Pictures | November 28th 14- December 4th 14

Friday November 28th 

I walked down to a really cute little park and worked on my NaNoWriMo. It was such a beautiful day, and so relaxing to just sit and write.

A photo posted by Leah Helen Rooper (@leahrooper) on

Saturday November 29th 

Bused into the city and went to Paddy's market to get some Christmas gifts. At night we decorated the tree and wrapped presents.

Sunday  November 30th 

Drove out to the blue mountains and did the Charles Darwin hike. It was so beautiful.

A photo posted by Leah Helen Rooper (@leahrooper) on

Monday December 1st

Can't believe it's already December! I took the cat to the vet.

Tuesday December 2nd

We left on a holiday up to Port Stephens. Swam in the pool, and had dinner at Hogsbreath. It was super yummy and I ate way too much.

Wednesday December 3rd

Beautiful beach, cafe lunch... Swam in the pool. Au Pair life is wonderful. <3

Thursday December 4th

I saw kangaroos!!! I feed kangaroos!!!

A photo posted by Leah Helen Rooper (@leahrooper) on