Sunday, 25 June 2017

Try Again

I've been getting outside as much as possible this weekend, either reading in the recliner, or walking, or cycling. Yes really - I'm riding my bike again!

Confession time. I've avoided cycling for years, because it makes my back ache, and the saddle's uncomfortable, and although I fancy the idea of getting fitter, and seeing more of my surrounding area, I haven't pursued it. However, after some nagging from hubby, I reluctantly had the bike serviced, and a new tyre fitted, and yesterday we went out for a ride.

I haven't ridden a bike for fifteen years, and then it was only now and again - I should never have got this bike, the previous one got next to no use either, it had racer style handlebars, and it really did hurt my back. Hubby took it to the local bike shop and swapped it for the one I have now, which has upright handlebars. Looking after young children, working and keeping house meant the bike stood in the garage glaring at me every time I went in there to fetch some potatoes. At the time, it was the thing easiest not to do, and I needed little encouragement.

I don't feel quite so guilty because the bike has been used. My youngest progressed from tricycle, barbie doll bike with stabilisers, big girl bike and then on to use the bike known as 'the bike mum never rides' we all laugh about it now and again. She was most put out when I told her I was taking it away with me. She's home from University and goes everywhere on it. I did feel a little guilty about taking it away this weekend.

Hubby and I set off down quiet country roads towards the country park close to where we're staying in our caravan. At first riding it felt clumsy, I wobbled a little, but my back was fine, and I got used to the gears and the brakes easily enough. The seat is an issue - I've heard you can get gel saddles which are supposed to be more comfy - I wonder if you can get an extra wide saddle? Memory foam perhaps? A back rest? Well you never know. Either that or I need to try harder with my healthy eating regime and lose some more weight!

It was good to feel the wind in my hair and it's true you do get a different perspective on things when riding a  bike. Also it would of taken us a lot longer to have walked, so yes, cycling has something to offer.

We happened across a cafe in the park, as you do, so we stopped for a cheeseburger and a cup of tea, and sat watching the people around us, which is an inspiration for any writer.  Afterwards, we set off again to explore more of the area, and although my legs were beginning to feel the burn on the inclines, I still made it back to the campsite with a smile on my face.

Now who knows, with a few adjustments to my bicycle, and my attitude, I might try it again soon, and reap more of the benefits too.

The same can be applied to your writing - Is there something you've tried before? Something you gave up years ago because it felt uncomfortable, or seemed too hard. A memoir, or a novel, or writing non-fiction? Whatever it was, have you ever thought about giving it a second chance?

Perhaps, there is something you could try again, and who knows, with practice and adjustment, and a little perseverance, you might find it makes you happier too. Go on, give it a go today and let me know how you got on.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Full-time Writer?

Is it true that there are very few full-time writers actually writing full-time?

If you're a journalist or work in media or education, then you could be classed as a full-time writer. However, you aren't writing your own stuff are you?

Those writers who are writing their own stuff, and getting it published here and there, often have a full-time job, doing something else to make enough money to pay bills and put a roof over their heads.

However, there are writers who earn a living through writing - they give talks, deliver workshops or sit on panels to make enough income to survive, or hey write articles for popular blogs and magazines.

And then there are a few writers who sell millions of books, and don't write every day anymore because they are past that stage, they have done the slog, and are still doing the slog, but these writers are very rare. If Stephen King gave up writing tomorrow, he'd continue to make a very good living from his writing.

The truth is that most writers don't make a full-time living from writing, but that's okay because they are following their passion, and doing what makes them feel happy and contented, and possibly they are making enough money to enjoy a happy work/life balance. Or the aim is to have a better life, and only work part-time hours.

Writing stuff is hard. You have to love what you're doing, and you have to do a lot of other things besides the writing. There's social media for a start, and marketing and keeping accounts.

Where do you see yourself? I'd love to hear about your journey, and how ambitious you are?
Are you aiming for a full-time income, doing part time hours, or is it more like full time hours for a part-time income? Or are you somewhere in between?

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Recharge and Reboot

Be Happy! 

Are you ready for some sunshine? I'm not talking about the weather, I mean a break from your usual routine. It's good for your mind, body and soul, and you'll feel recharged afterwards, and ready to get on and be creative.

Here's my top tips to get you started.
  • Go for a walk - we all need disconnected time, so get away from your screen, turn off your phone and get yourself out for a brisk walk. Take some deep breaths, and look around at what's happening in your neighbourhood. 
  •  Try a technology fast - This may be hard to do, but it's worth it. Pick a weekend day and switch all your gadgets off. This might feel a little weird, but you'll adjust quickly. In the past people could 'switch off' after work, but nowadays, people work from home and it's much harder to get a work/life balance.  
  • Be a day tripper, go to your nearest railway station and ask the staff where you can go for the day. Buy a ticket and explore a new city, town or stroll along a promenade. 
  • Re-invent yourself - Book an appointment with the hairdresser, change your style, your colour or both! Afterwards find a personal shopper. Next and Debenhams both have a great service. Tell them you want a few mix and match outfits and let them help you discover the new you. 
  • Go to the cinema. Watch a movie, buy popcorn and relax. 
  • Grab your camera and see the world through a lens. Take an hour out at the local market, or the park and take lots of pictures. Be creative, go home and make a collage of your images. You'll be amazed and surprised. 
  • Bake a cake, call up some friends and invite them round for tea!

I hope you'll try some of the above when you're feeling a little jaded.

How do you recharge? 

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Can You Really Write And Punch the Clock?

Woman at Work - Maria A Smith 

When I hear about folks who hold down jobs and have a string of published novels or a successful online writing business, I want to congratulate them. If that's you, pat yourself on the back, you're awesome! I'm guessing you've made huge sacrifices in the form of time spent with family and friends, and sleep deprivation.

Alternatively, you could be a very calm and focused individual who is highly organised. You see your situation differently. You're a writer on Monday, Tuesday and Friday mornings, but you're also a nurse, florist, Police Officer, engineer, waitress, or a teacher. Not to mention being a wife, husband, or parent. You've got it sussed.

Most of us find it incredibly hard juggling everything. When I told a friend I was struggling, she said, 'you're the busiest person I know, you don't stop, it's like you've got a full-time job and then you go to your part-time job.' Alas, it's true I'm busy, but that comment got me to thinking. I'm not just busy - I'm overwhelmed. Perhaps you are too?

This isn't just a writer thing, but unfortunately, we seem to get a bigger dose of overwhelm than most. There's so much to do. When we're not writing, we're supposed to be promoting ourselves through social media or coming up with fresh ideas for blog posts. Our brain jumps around with our next idea, adding to our 'to do' list, and we're at the point where it's becoming ever more difficult to sit and focus on scheduled writing time.

We need to figure out our goals, our timelines and our priorities.

1. Don't pile any more things onto your 'to do' list. Instead, look at what you can cut, and keep your list short. Agree you'll do at least one thing on your list each day, this way you'll see progress, and it won't seem so overwhelming.

2. Address any bad habits that hamper your productivity - Checking and responding to emails as they come in, spending hours on Twitter or Facebook, or finding things to do to get out of the task in hand. Even housework!

3. Get rid of what's holding you back - List everything that you believe is stopping you from writing. and deal with it. This could be something like getting a cleaner to do the chores, or ending a toxic friendship.

4. Let go of destructive emotions such as resentment. Stop using the quick fix route for a problem, all you're doing is delaying dealing with it until the next time. Regardless of if it's someone taking up your time, or a dodgy laptop you need to get to the root cause, and deal with it now. Resentment, anger and fear are all connected - if you don't deal with it you'll be stuck in a self obsessed circle. Stop being afraid of what someone will say, or act, or how much it's going to cost to repair or replace that laptop. Stop being afraid of the future.

Whatever it is that is keeping you from being your best, subtract it from your life. If you need to work, and the majority of us do, then find a way to fit your writing around your work and family life. Who knows, if you do enough maybe you won't need that day job anymore.

Pease do share  any tips you may have, here in the comments.
Thank you.

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