Friday, 29 November 2013

Be Fearless- Be Free

I don't hear this topic brought up very often but I think that it's important all the same. Sometimes, in society as well as with writing, we feel as though we have to act  in a certain way around others or portray ourselves in a certain manner. We can spend so much energy on trying to have others see us in a certain way that we lose focus of what we're really aiming for. We lose focus of who we really are.

Image Courtesy of Google

We become afraid. We shy away from our personality. Our quirkiness, our idiosyncrasies become embarrassing and we feel as though we should mask them. It is an unspoken notion in society that we should all act 'normal': that we should all have the same pattern of behaviour and ideals as each other.

Image Courtesy of Google (And a picture I'm particularly fond of)
We are not the same and, you know what? That's what makes this world so incredible. Each of us are unique and we should be celebrating that. If we were all the same then we would discover nothing new- nobody would be thinking outside of the box to come up with anything different. There would be no art, no music, no fiction- we would be left with nothing but a blank canvas instead of the vibrancy and boldness that we have today.
Without individuality there would be no inventions- without unique thinking we wouldn't have half of the knowledge  that we have in the world today. Look at Galileo who was placed under house arrest for his forward thinking- if he had allowed himself to act the same as everyone else and not expressed himself, we would still believe the Earth was flat.

As the famous saying goes:
“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind.”

You may be wondering why I have chosen this topic to discuss today.
The reason I chose to talk about this is because if we aren't careful we can hold ourselves back- we can stop ourselves from reaching our full potential and what's more, we are stopping the world from seeing a new perspective and getting new ideas. We owe it to ourselves and the world to be true to ourselves.

We write who we are. We express ourselves through our words- in a way we literally put ourselves in our writing- and if we don't fully embrace who we are then how can we get our message across in our writing?

If you are free to be who you really are then you are fearless and if you are fearless then you can do anything.

Whether that be writing what you want to write (whether it be from a steamy romance to an intense thriller) or just being happy with who you are.

If my blog just helps one person to learn this valuable lesson than I will consider the entire thing worthwhile.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Looking Towards The Future

I've just found myself sat on the floor in my room in front of an open drawer, pulling out different pieces of paper and notepads, taken over by complete and utter nostalgia. I'd found a bunch of sheets from when I was in primary school (junior school) including a bright red folder called 'My Life'.

Flicking through it, I'd found three pages coloured in bright blue crayon, each with a different heading underneath a wobbly picture of a clock. The headings were 'Past', 'Present' and 'Future'.

The 'Past' was pretty basic- mentions of my time as a baby etc. It was the 'Present' and 'Future' that really caught my attention.

In 'Present' I spoke of my friends at the time- people who I haven't seen in years and who, in a few years time, would go into different friendship groups (as would I.) Obviously, writing this as a nine or ten year old, I would have had no idea that this would be the case. Which brings me onto the next section of my little wannabe autobiography...

'Future'. I'd flipped over the page, heavily amused and eager to see what was in store for me next when there was... nothing.

Now, this may be because I ran out of time or the book was forgotten about, but it kind of felt like a message. We cannot predict what's to come.

When I wrote the 'Present', I clearly expected to be friends with these girls for years to come- I had no idea how in one or two years time we would all go our separate ways and only occasionally (if rarely) speak to them again.

Now, in this very moment, we have yet to experience things that we may look back on in fondness or sadness in years to come. We cannot plan for these things- to even try would be ridiculous, not to mention impossible. At the end of the day, we are currently in our own past.

Image Courtesy of Google

The point is wherever you are going in life, whichever direction or whatever you decide to do- even if you cannot see the path you are on or where you are going, just remember: You've been here before. This is your past and just like all of those difficult times in your life before, you've moved on past them.

No matter how lost you feel, you're on the road to the future- it just may not be the one you were expecting.

I hope that you enjoyed the article 'Looking Towards The Future'!
Please leave me a comment below!

Friday, 22 November 2013

Mix It Up A Bit!

Sometimes, when it comes to writing, one of the problems we can have is to keep the process interesting. Now, this isn't because we don't love what we do- not at all, but think of it in terms of having the same meal everyday for every lunch and dinner; it would get boring!

Some of these tips may work for you, others may not. However, you don't know unless you try!

Image courtesy of Google

  1. Change your surrounding. Now while it is important to have your own space, who says that it has to be a study? Why not try going to the park on a sunny day and nabbing yourself a bench or a patch of grass? Or maybe a nearby café? You could even just relocate to another room in the house if you fancied a change of scenery- why not stick a 'Do Not Disturb' sign on the door?
  2. Swap your equipment. Use a laptop everyday at the same time? Why not get out the trusty notepad and pen and do a bit of writing that way?
  3. Treat yourself while you write. Whether it be a piece of cake or a snack- just make sure you don't overdo it!
  4. Try different times to write. If you tend to write in the afternoon, why not try in the morning instead?
  5. Take a bath or listen to some calming music beforehand to get yourself in the right mind set. Sometimes being able to look at something with a clear mind can help you to write more or think about what you're going to talk about.
Any other suggestions or tips? Let me know!

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

You're Not Alone

I'll be honest, I really didn't know what I was going to blog about today. Usually, I have some kind of rough idea of what I want to talk about but today... nadah.

I was sat on the bus thinking about it, wondering what the blazes I was going to write about when the bus stopped and I happened to glance out of the window. I didn't see anything particularly amazing- I didn't see a meteor hit the earth or anything earth shattering to report on but I saw something that's just really stuck with me: I saw a guy laughing.

Now alright, I know some of you may be looking for that little back button and wondering what's gotten into me but stay with me a sec.

The thing that really made me take notice was the fact that he had his hand on the door, clearly about to leave, but was looking back into the office- laughing at something or someone that was unseen. It made me think of when I'd left the office about ten or fifteen minutes before and done something pretty similar.

Seeing that, the familiar pattern of behaviour started to make me think of what other things everyone else had in common- of the little routines or habits that we all share that we think nothing of such as getting up in the morning and going downstairs or how we all have moments where we get angry or frustrated.

With that moment, of seeing that guy laughing as he was leaving, it hit me. We're not alone.

Now I don't mean in the ET sense, here! But I think sometimes when we're feeling particularly sad and alone, we can forget that there are others out there who have or are feeling the same way.

You know those times in school where you may have felt particularly goofy or self-conscious? I guarantee most people have been there. Or maybe those nerves on the first week of work or when you've been given a project or task to do? Yep, that's normal.

The point I'm trying to make is that matter how alone we may feel sometimes or how utterly helpless we may feel, we're not.

There are other people out there who are walking the same path, who are making the same decisions and hard choices. There are other people out there who are sitting down to work or racing out the front door in the mornings along with everybody else, who are wondering how they're going to do this or what they're going to do about that- of what they're going to have for dinner.

It's important not to get lost in the rat race but, at the same time, it's important to know that everyone is doing it together.

Image Courtesy of Google

You don't believe me? Look at Google Plus! How many writers are on here or artists or musicians? There are tonnes of people who are going through the same thought processes and looking for other people who they can connect with and relate to. Or how about concerts? A place where a load of people from different backgrounds get together to listen to a singer or a band that they have stumbled across somewhere or other and have gone through the same conscious thought of booking tickets.

All you need to do is think about rush hour traffic to see where I'm coming from here! A bunch of people all aiming for work or to drop their kids of at school all have the same pattern of behaviour, all have the same routine and whether they realise it or not, they're all doing it together.

Next time you're out and about, have a look around and think about it. You'll soon see what I mean ;)

Friday, 15 November 2013

The Confessions Of A Serial Scrapper

OK, I hold my hands up- I admit it. I am a serial scrapper.

Now, many of you may be confused. "What's a scrapper?"

A 'scrapper' is what I call someone who continuously 'scraps' stories that they're working on because they are bored with them or they think they are not working. Don't get me wrong! It's alright to get rid of an idea if it's not working and there is no way of fixing it or the whole thing has just gone completely pear shaped. The problem emerges when you are constantly 'scrapping' ideas that you are working on to the point where you can not stick with any poem, screenplay or story right to the end. You think that it's not good enough or you just can't get into the flow of it. Parts don't start adding up and you soon find your mind wandering and doubts kick in.

It's when you get to this point that the 'magpie effect' can kick in and we chase after new shiny ideas and neglect the ones we already have.

So go on, now is the time to admit it. Answer the question honestly. Are you a serial scrapper?

Image Courtesy of Google

If you are, it's alright- this is a safe space after all! It's how you deal with it that counts.

Myself, personally? I found a way to get excited about what I was writing again. Say I was writing a story that focused around a couple of friends- I'd look at what could happen with that friendship. Maybe one will betray the other or one will be seriously hurt. On the flip side, one may fall in love with the other or one may save the others life.

Or say the issue is with the actual events of the story. Maybe you have a great idea but can't quite get there yet. Well I put this to you: why not write it first?

If you have an idea in your mind about how you want a scene to go write it. Simple. In fact, in my experience, this can be useful as it helps in writing the build-up to the scene. I even find that writing that particular scene first can bring up more ideas or go in a direction I hadn't even thought of.

Or maybe you should plan out where you are going with your idea by doing a time line so you can see where your story is going or a mind-map (spider diagram) of the events per chapter or act. Part of the problem that come with being a 'serial scrapper' is the lack of vision of where you are going with your idea.

Thankfully, using these methods, I am getting a lot better. Yeah, I still have moments where I think I've reached the end of the road but then I think about what I'm aiming for and it makes the road easier and so much more satisfying.

What are your ways of keeping with an idea, through thick and thin? Or are you also a serial scrapper? Let me know below!

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Give Yourself A Pat On The Back

Sometimes in life were so busy or get so preoccupied we forget to give ourselves credit where it's due. Instead, we can have the tendency to criticise ourselves for things that we don't do right or that should have been done differently.

But it is important to take some time to remember everything we have accomplished.

If you've done something well- be proud of it! Have a little celebratory dance, fist pump the air- do whatever you want but just enjoy it.

I mention how important it is to keep balance in our lives in one of my other posts here, but I think that it is really important to reinforce this- especially for writers who may not always receive instant gratification for the hard work they do.

If you've written three hundred words of a new story, poem, screenplay etc. but don't think it's brilliant- pat yourself on the back! You've done three hundred words! Yeah it may need a lot of editing but you sat down and did it where so many others didn't.

If you've managed to get a newspaper to give you an article to do but are really struggling with writing it- pat yourself on the back! Congrats, you've proven that you're a good writer otherwise they wouldn't have given it to you in the first place! They clearly think you can do it or else they'd have given it to someone else!

Even if you have a rejection from publishers or an agent- pat yourself on the back! You've written the thing in the first place- you've got there where so many people have given in! You've stuck with it through thick and thin where many others have walked away.

With these things in life, it is always important to remember- even when we think we are struggling or are never going to get there that:

This fabulous image right here is courtesy of Google!
Not sure how to congratulate yourself? Here's some ideas:
  1. Have a long soak in the bath- relax and have some 'you time'!
  2. Treat yourself to something sweet! Even if it's just a biscuit, do something to mark your achievement!
  3. Shout about it! To your friends, to your family- to your partner! Obviously don't rub it in people's faces but if it means a lot to you, it'll mean a lot to those that care for you!
  4. Listen to a favourite song and dance along! Have a serious boogie- bum wiggle and all! Sing along at the top of your lungs or air guitar some power chords!
The possibilities are endless but just remember to, wait for it... Pat yourself on the back!

Any other suggestions on how to celebrate? Leave your ideas below!

Friday, 8 November 2013

The Tortoise And The Hare

I randomly found myself thinking of the fable this morning. I hadn't heard the story in years but as I was having a moment to reflect on my life so far this morning I just found myself thinking of that race.

(For anyone who needs a quick reminder of how the story goes, you can read it here)

See, what a lot of people seem to focus on in the story is the arrogance of the hare. Yeah, his ego caused him to lose and was symbolism for his downfall but a lot of people seem to forget about the tortoise.

Image courtesy of Google

You see while both of the animals had their goal in mind (to win the race), only one of them had the determination and focus to go ahead and do it.

The hare got distracted, he lost focus and just assumed that he would get what he wanted with little effort. The hare was wrong.

The tortoise however, knew that if he stuck with it, that if he kept his focus and ploughed on he would get there eventually. He knew that it would take time and that it would be hard work but he got there.

Now, some of you may be wondering what the blazes I'm going on about here so I'll quickly get to the point.

While the story teaches us not to be lazy and take things for granted, it also teaches us that with enough determination and hard work- not to mention patience and the willingness to push ourselves- we can achieve anything. Even if it is just a race against a hare. ;)

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Using Habits

People fascinate me, they really do. I catch the bus home from work every day and it always amazes me the different ways that different people act. One of my particular favourite kinds of people to watch is smokers- why? Because it is always interesting to see how they act when they are craving a cigarette which they can't have yet. They are agitated all the time like there's an itch under their skin that just won't go away. It's intriguing to watch.

Yeah, I'm weird I know.

Another thing that I like to observe is how people act when they are trying to stop themselves from having an argument or when you see a couple of people sat next to each other who are acting very differently. You know when you're in a situation and you can just tell from their body language that one person is attracted to the other or when one person wants the other to just shut up?

Image courtesy of Google

So, let me get to the point.

One way to make your characters more realistic is to add in these little habits. Maybe a woman who is in a stressful job taps her foot or a man who is struck between an argument with his partner and mother may run his hands through his hair a lot or pinch the bridge of his nose.

It doesn't even have to be physical, maybe they repeat a phrase all of the time such as, "Like" or "Apparently".

Here's a great way to pick up some interesting habits people have:
  1. People watch. This is probably the most effective way to pick up on people's habits. Whether
    you're in a café or using public transport, watch what other people are doing and take note of it.
  2. Pay attention to what you do yourself. Do you often have people pick up on something that you do or say? With me, I often have people tell me I say 'basically' a lot when starting a sentence or wringing my hands when I'm nervous or excited. If you're not sure, ask the people around you- you may be surprised by their answer!
  3. See what other authors do. Can you think of any characters from books you've read with a famous habit? One that immediately springs to mind is Ron Weasley from Harry Potter always saying "Bloody Hell."
  4. Don't forget to use BAD habits too! Not all habits are good and if one gets on your nerves- use it! It could be a negative trait of a character or maybe a way to connect with the audience on a emotional level- maybe they hate the habit too and can sympathise with your protagonist!

And most of all, don't forget to have fun with it!

Lou x

Friday, 1 November 2013

Finding A Balance

I visited a friend I hadn't seen in a few months the other day. It was so good to see her to the point that just pulling up outside of her house made me feel as though I was being pulled into a hug and that was before I'd even knocked on the door and seen her face yet! We'd had a brilliant catch-up and I ended up feeling... lighter somehow than I had before. It had taught me a valuable lesson.

It's important to keep a balance in life.

This may be in regards to keeping in touch with friends and family against working on your writing or your career in general. Or it may be looking after someone and looking after yourself at the same time.

I hold my hands up: I am rubbish at going out and seeing my friends, not because I don't want to see them but rather because I struggle to juggle my full time apprenticeship with my writing. I have three ends of a scale and unfortunately my social life does not bode well.

The way I'm working on improving this is by making the effort to speak to my friends, to see them and to make sure they're alright.

Image courtesy of Google

It's important to remember not to neglect different things as they sometimes can creep up on you and then you have to put everything on hold to deal with it.

So this blog is kind of about writing but mostly this is just a focus on looking after yourself- especially as we approach the busier (dare I say it) Christmas period. If I could say anything in this post it would be this:

Look after yourself, look after those you love and most of all just try to be happy.

I hope you all have a good a weekend and let me know below what it is that you find the most difficult thing to balance. :)


Just an update: I will now be updating on Tuesdays and Fridays. The reason for this is so I can plan my posts more and hopefully provide more useful tips and interesting topics to think about in the future.