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Sunday, 26 February 2017

A Balanced Life



Finding a balanced life isn't easy, often these days many of us are running on empty no matter how hard we try to balance our lives. So much is expected of us, and we expect so much of ourselves too. Once upon a time you would go to work all day, come home afterwards do your chores, and even have time left over for writing.

Nowadays we wear 'busy' like a badge of honour, and it's no good for us. Lots of us are working too many hours. Checking emails  after hours, trying to fit box sets in before bedtime, and what ever happened to taking a rest? Finding balance in your life will make you happier, healthier, more focused, and more productive. How can we find the time to rest more?

Start Early

Do your most important work early in the day. Get your daily word count done. There'll be less distractions, and once you've done it you'll be guilt free for the rest of day, and able to get on with other things.

Walk More 

Not only does walking keep you fit, it relaxes the mind, allowing the subconscious to give you a fresh perspective on that chapter you've been struggling with, or that opening that isn't quite right. Make it a brisk one for maximum benefit.

Exercise

Forget about stuff that requires four or five sessions a week at the gym, you haven't got time. However, a game of badminton once a week, or a pilates or yoga class is a good way of keeping body and soul fit. 

Express Yourself

Indulge in something you like doing, be that sketching, baking, or coarse fishing. Enjoy the pleasure of your hobbies, they provide detachment from the everyday mundane. Be nourished by them. Take time out and do something for you. 

Cat Nap

Never underestimate the power of a 20-minute nap, Allow your brain timeout to power down and recover focus. Impossible to do every day, but once or twice a week maybe? 

Reassess yourself on a weekly basis, set goals, but keep them simple,
and make sure you plan in time for yourself. Rest is underrated but very necessary for a balanced life. Making choices about what comes first may be tough, but you're worth it...

How do you find balance in your life? 

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Sleep Zone


A lot of writers, myself included are terrible sleepers. We don't get our quota of slumber. Some set their alarms and get up early to put down words, whilst others are still up at midnight scribbling away for hours. Lack of sleep isn't a new phenomena, but it seems to have become a plague.

Why Do We Need Sleep?

Sleep helps you feel your best, and if you get the recommended seven or eight hours, it allows you to wake up feeling refreshed and able to meet the demands of your day. You'll be better able to concentrate on that story idea, that scene you're writing, or that deadline.

Insufficient sleep has an affect on health over time, our immune and cardiovascular systems will feel the impact, and type 2 Diabetes has also been linked to not getting enough sleep. It's vital we get enough rest so we're able to perform well in our busy lives. Or perhaps that is the issue? Are we simply doing too much? Perhaps we need to give more priority to sleeping. I'm re-educating myself on the matter, and have put all my findings here.

  • Set a schedule for going to bed and getting up -  This regulates you body clock. 
  • Slow right down - The last hour before you go to bed should be your power down hour. Warm bath, listening to music, meditation etc
  • Temperature matters - Don't have your bedroom too hot - Open a window.
  • Stay warm - Hang on, that's a little contradictory, but the thing is you won't sleep if you're cold. So wear warm nightwear and socks too! 
  • Read before retiring - It's been proved that reading relaxes the mind, and helps you to drop off to sleep quicker. 
  • Exercise - Experts say the best time is between 4pm-7pm to aid sleep. 
  • Ban all screens an hour before bed - That's the TV, your mobile, your Ipad, and your laptop. I really struggle with this one. 
  • Caffeine - As we age we don't break caffeine down as well, it's much slower to metabolise, so it's more likely to stop us from sleeping.
  • Eat well during the day - Don't skip breakfast which regulates us, and eggs, chicken and fish give us essential amino acid. 
  • Spend a few minutes each night thinking about all the things you are grateful for, that happened in your day.  
We need sleep to feel healthy and be able to continue with our daily lives, it's something all of us should address as 'important' and should be moved up to the top of our 'to do' list. Getting your quota of sleep will help you to perform better.

Do you sleep well? Do you have any tips to share, if so, please share them in the comments.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Journals



Do you keep a journal, or do you feel guilty about not keeping one? I recently read that writers fall into one of those two camps. Really? I had to stop and think about it for a moment. I'm not sure keeping a journal means the same thing to all of us, and I'm not sure about feeling guilty about not keeping one either.

Personally, I do keep a journal, but I don't write in it daily. When I started it four years ago, I wrote regularly every day, as a warm up session to 'proper' writing. I'd pen news about what had been happening in my life, about my family and and about the way I felt about things. I'd occasionally write about my writing too. How long I wrote for varied, but was anything between ten minutes and half an hour. Location was almost always from my bed upon waking.

Rarely have I read anything back, perhaps one or two pages. In my mind, I'm saving reading it for another day, sometime in the future. And do I feel guilty because I'm no longer adding entries to it? Not really, because I know I'll pick it up again. I've missed around eight months, and I don't really know why - but it doesn't bother me.

Journalling has many forms, there are writers who log and record everything they do on their novels. Recording their own feelings and anxieties at every step of the way.  Apparently, there is a journal you can buy that asks you a question on each page, and therefore sparks ideas for continuing the entry. I imagine this one would be quite fun to look back on in ten years time. With questions like, who has irritated you today?

There is also the poem style journal. Each day you write one sentence about your day. At the end of the week you rearrange all the sentences to sum up your week and create a poem. At the end of the year you will have a collection of poems about your life.

I'm sure there are many more quirky ones out there. Journalling is definitely a good way to express yourself, and it will help you to find your voice. How and when you do it, is entirely up to you.

Do you keep a journal?

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Queen of Clean or Queen of Clutter?



Keeping things clean and tidy isn't fun but it's vital to our well being. What does your writing space look like right now? Mine is a mess, and it's why I'm not in there writing this blog post. My space has become a dumping ground for everything and everyone. It's crept up on me, and we're in the middle of a massive decluttering exercise here too, which isn't helping matters, BUT, nor should it be an excuse. It's time to take control.

The Plan 

De-clutter - Take a bin bag and a box to your writing space. Fill the bag with rubbish, and the box with things for the charity shop, or stuff you want to pass on to other writers, such as old copies of magazines. If in doubt, throw it out. Once you've got rid of everything you don't need, tidy everything that is left. File it, shelve it, put everything in a suitable place.

Clean - Once de-cluttered, you'll be able to see the space you've got. It's time to get the rubber gloves on and start cleaning. Start at the top and work down to the bottom, dust over lampshades and any pictures, and run round with the vacuum.

Repair - If any DIY is required, write a list and get it organised.

Organise - Put up a board for pinning notes, receipts or motivational quotes. Buy a tray for paperwork, use a mug for pens, and put all those notebooks away in a drawer or buy some nice stackable boxes.

Now open a window and let in some fresh air, or light a scented candle if you prefer. Doesn't that look better, and doesn't it feel good.

What makes a good writing space for you  - Good light? A clear desk? Having all your reference books to hand? A comfortable chair?  Let me know what makes you happy.