Returning to myself

Returning to myself

“If you feel lost, disappointed, hesitant, or weak, return to yourself, to who you are, here and now and when you get there, you will discover yourself, like a lotus flower in full bloom, even in a muddy pond, beautiful and strong.” – Masaru Emoto

The past few weeks I have found myself mentally exhausted by the time I get home, my mind muddied by the stresses of my day job. Not writing as I should has left me feeling frustrated and quite sorry for myself.

This weekend I made a conscious decision to put an end to my wallowing and got stuck into my writing. Not only with my current work in progress but brainstorming onto paper the numerous story ideas floating around in my head. This morning I awoke feeling recharged, inspiration flowing through my veins and feeding my soul.

Realisation: Writing is life. It is what keeps me sane. It keeps me happy. And it keeps me going. Note to self: Never stop writing!

“To give your positive or negative attention to something is a way of giving energy. The most damaging form of behaviour is withholding your attention.”Masaru Emoto


*2017 : The year of Jill getting her groove back*

*2017 : The year of Jill getting her groove back*

“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something. So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life. Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it. Make your mistakes, next year and forever.” ― Neil Gaiman

2016 will be remembered as the year I started writing again. It has been a learning experience, taking my writing to another level. I ended the year with a sense of accomplishment – a good portion of the first draft of my current WIP composed and I have completed my degree!

A new year is always started with resolutions, but this year I decided to focus on setting goals and devising a plan on how to get there. Seeing how well a comprehensive layout has improved my writing, I am hoping that my carefully crafted homemade monthly planner can do the same for me personally. It covers all aspects of my life and the goals for each: family and friends, love life, self-love, health, fun and adventure, legacy, career, reading and then of course, writing.

My reading goals are pretty basic – read 52 books this year in conjunction with completing the following book challenge:

  • A debut novel
  • A novel published between 1900 – 1950
  • A book you’ve read before
  • A fantasy novel
  • A book which has been banned
  • A book with one of the four seasons in the title
  • A book with a cat on the cover
  • A Bestseller from a genre not usually read
  • A book involving travel
  • A book involving a mythical creature
  • A bestseller from 2016
  • A book published in 2017
  • A book of more than 800 pages
  • A book purchased on a trip
  • A book loved in your youth
  • A steampunk novel
  • A young adult novel
  • A book chosen purely based on its cover
  • A book translated from another language
  • A book adapted into a movie

As for my writing goals, when first composing the list I felt way too ambitious but luckily I quickly came to my senses remembering that the first step is to set attainable goals.

So my writing goals for 2017 are:

Finish the first draft of my WIP – all the way through.

Do the full layout for the next project

Learn to write like a professional

Develop solid writing habits

Build my brand as a writer

Focus on building the writing career of my dreams

Oh… and NaNoWriMo

So far 2017 has been off to a slow start, recovering from the festive season, getting settled back in at work and the kids at school and finding a new routine that works for us but I remain positive as each little bit of progress will add up to bigger results.

*Wishing all my fellow bloggers and followers a happy and prosperous new year.*

“The only way that we can live is if we grow. The only way that we can grow is if we change. The only way that we can change is if we learn. The only way we can learn is if we are exposed. And the only way that we can become exposed is if we throw ourselves out into the open. Do it. Throw yourself.” – ― C. JoyBell C.

Life vs Writing

Life vs Writing

“In order to write about life first you must live it.” ― Ernest Hemingway

Is it not life that makes the writer who they are? I believe that both our lives and the very core of our being influence who we are as writers. I often ask myself, if my life had been different, would I still write the way I do?

I have noticed a trend in the social media world that each aspect of our lives seems to be kept separate, independent pages for the food we eat, the books we read, trips we take, to name but a few. I have one page showcasing all that is me, my gorgeous kiddies, my much loved books, my journey as an aspiring to be publish writer, my work life, my culture, cloud porn… As all of these things are an integral part of who I am.

An author’s experiences are echoed in their work. What they feel, see, hear and think about–all part of their world–show up in the characters they dream to life, the genres they choose, their style of writing and the very creation of the story itself. No one lives in a vacuum; the experiences we live through are a necessity in order for us to create.

The people in our lives are probably the greatest influence of all. Although I come from a family of readers, I attribute my love of reading and ultimately my path as a writer to my Grandmother. In her retired years she worked in a book exchange and I would spend most afternoons with her, looking through the piles of dusty books, selecting those which caught my attention. Often she would bring books home for me, our taste in books being almost identical. Books are what cemented the bond between us.

So as much as we all would love to disappear into our own personal ‘Writer Zones’ we must not forget to live life and embrace all that it has to offer, soaking up all the nuances of the people around us, mentally storing all that makes people the characters that they are. And then? Then we can retreat into our own little worlds and create the lives we dream of, the blank books that we were born as now filled with the stories of our lives.

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” ― Eleanor Roosevelt

No pressure but… Write! Write! Write…

No pressure but… Write! Write! Write…

“You can’t fail if you write; silence is the only absolute failure. Each sentence is a small success” – William Hoffman

So my exams are over *insert happy dance here* and this means more time for writing. To date the development of my current work in progress has been sluggish but what keeps me going is the fact that the progress is visible.

Although I am still writing with no particular daily word count goal, as this suits the “no stress” me, I have now been toying with an idea of when I would like to have the first draft finished by. As much as I enjoy being able to just sit down and write what suits me for the day that feeling of enjoyment is becoming overwhelmed by the need to see this phase of the mission complete.

Initially I had an optimistically attainable plan for completing this novel: starting with the prewriting phase of using my brainstorming notes to do the layout, followed by writing the first draft while sticking to my daily word count goal as much as possible, then once completed take a timeout while researching my next project before getting stuck in to work on revising, before doing some serious editing. I did the layout which, surprisingly, I loved and feel has really helped my personal writing process. And at first I stuck to my daily writing goal, which was difficult due to the workload of life, but decided to put aside for a more anxiety free writing experience.

Now my mission continues, with an effort to increase my productivity without re-establishing the pressure of sticking to an intimidation inducing word count. I have to say it: No-one functions well under pressure. Most of us like to think we do, but in reality I really think we don’t or, at least, we don’t accomplish as much as we could. Maybe we feel more inspired with a deadline looming over us, but maybe it’s just a feeling, not reality. Perhaps the outcome is a more productive you, but what of the quality? So I am torn – torn between all the advice of getting the first draft completed as fast as possible because “the first draft of everything is shit” (thanks Ernest Hemingway) – and wanting to put more time and love into my first draft.

So impart your wisdom upon me writers of the bloggiverse, is it unwise to put too much time into a first draft?

“You see, in my view a writer is a writer not because she writes well and easily, because she has amazing talent, because everything she does is golden. In my view a writer is a writer because even when there is no hope, even when nothing you do shows any sign of promise, you keep writing anyway.” ― Junot Díaz

PS : Please note – this is in respect of general writing time, not amazing quests such a NaNoWriMo.

10 Days of Blank Pages

10 Days of Blank Pages

“Writers don’t have lifestyles. They sit in little rooms and write.” – Norman Mailer

For the past 10 days, over and above my standard chaotic life I have had a house full of guests. After the first two nights of not getting any writing done, I started getting anxious. The two days after that I started feeling a little resentful. Then I made a conscious decision to put aside my stress and just enjoy the time I was spending with my family. The rest of the days flew by in a blur of activity.

Yesterday afternoon after returning from the airport, the house felt unusually quiet. Possibly a little too quiet. So I put on a movie for the little ones, made some coffee and sat down in front of my laptop. And then I wrote. I wrote until my fingers cramped. And it felt great.

So although I did not manage to fulfil my goal of writing every day I am not letting it hold me back. I feel refreshed. Filled with as much excitement as I did when I wrote those first words of this work in progress.

“It’s a wonderful world. You can’t go backwards. You’re always moving forward. It’s the wonderful part about life. And that’s terrific.” Harvey Fierstein

Be about actions, not distractions

Be about actions, not distractions

“Distractions have never prevented a Writing Writer Who Writes from writing; distractions are an excuse proffered by Non-Writing Non-Writers Who are Not-Writing for why they are not writing.” – Merlin Mann

I think that regardless of how much time you have available to write, that time spent requires absolute focus and no distractions. One of the main challenges for any writer, well any person really, is social media – be it Facebook, Instagram or whatever your poison of choice is, then there is lure of the Internet, the pull of favourite distractions, and let’s not forget the alluring call of the couch. But all that fun comes at a hefty cost… your writing. For me the choice came easily, did I want the distractions, or did I want to write? I chose to write. I do my research during the day. Check all my social media while cooking dinner. Then when it is time to write it all gets left one side and writing takes over.

Unfortunately life will always have its own designs and some disruptions cannot be escaped. Despite my determination to focus on my writing I found that I could only write for about an hour at a time before I was forced to stop, eyes aching and head throbbing. For weeks this has continued. In the back of my mind I had the niggling thought that maybe I need to get my eyes checked but as I have always had perfect eyesight, although grandparents, parents and sibling all wear glasses, I pushed the idea one side. This week I came to the realisation that I suffer with the same symptoms while at work but let’s just say I was a little slow to put two and two together as who wouldn’t get a headache working with politicians! One eye test later it turns out that I do in fact need glasses. Feeling proud of myself – eliminated the “distraction” and did not procrastinate over it either!

Bring on the glasses, returned focus and increased creative productivity!

“Say NO to distractions so you can say YES to your destiny!” – Thema Davis