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Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Look who's back! The WWBH!

 


Hi folks! It's been a while since last we brought you a prompt for your mid-week dose of flash fiction, but after a much needed rest we are back to get you going once again.

So, have you missed us? We'd love to know your thoughts on our little weekly hop, if you enjoy writing/reading the stories each week, is there any way we can improve? It's important to us to get it right, so that we can all still enjoy it.

The Writer Wednesday blog hop is a little something we like to bring to the writing community to help you kick-start those writing urges, to help you through a lull in your bigger projects or just a bit of fun to get you to your weekend.

As usual, there is a picture prompt and five random words, and all you have to do is give us a bit of flash fiction in 500 words or less. It's that simple.

So, to get us going once again, here is this weeks picture:

Property of H J Musk


And this weeks words:          colony, vice, vegetable, barber, trumpet


You have until the end of next Tuesday to link up your story with the linky frog below, and on Wednesday we look forward to sharing your stories as well as bringing you a brand new prompt.

Don't forget to link back to this post when you linkup and reference the WWBH. We want to spread our message as far as we can!


Monday, 11 May 2015

The end is in sight - an OU update




Hi folks! Now the mad frenzy which is the A-Z Challenge is over, it's time to try and get back to something resembling normality.

My Open University studies have been continuing in earnest, but I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. We're one week away from the deadline for the final assignment, and I feel I'm in that exam delirium where you're frantically trying to cram as much revision into your brain as you can, and as a consequence I'm in a constant out of body experience. It's fun, but only for a short time.

There is no exam for this course though, just a 4000 word short story to be sent alongside a commentary on how we feel the whole thing has gone. My story has been taking shape nicely, but it has been a hurdle to get to the 4000 word mark. I've never completed anything this long before, but its actually quite exhilarating. I'm excited at how I've been focused to push myself, to write things I didn't even know I had in me.

I've really enjoyed writing this story, and I'm keen to submit it somewhere after my studies are done. I may as well, right, after putting all this effort in. It's been up and down, I've lost faith in where the story was going, only to be drawn back into it after working through the kinks. It's been a huge reminder of why I Iike writing so much, and why I got into it in the first place.

I just need to get over this final stretch with my editing cap on, and then I can enjoy the summer sunshine until I start all over again in October.


Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Note to self: Must be a better blogger - an A-Z Challenge Reflections/IWSG post




I realise I'm kind of cheating here, but I'm rolling my IWSG and A-Z Challenge Reflection posts all up into one little message. They fit into the same bracket at least, and it kind of saves some time and space.

The A-Z Challenge was a spur of the moment thing for me, having decided against it this year. It was less than a week before it started that my theme idea came to me along with the post titles. I managed to keep up (mostly) with the occasional double-posting, and I was only a day late with some of them.

It didn't seem to be as hard to keep going as I imagined it would, which to me suggests that I do still enjoy this blogging malarkey, and the month went by quicker than anticipated. It came at a time when I was teetering on the edge of giving up, but now it's boosted my confidence enough to keep it going.

The one area where I failed massively was in keeping up with replying to comments, and visiting other blogs. This is something I've struggled with a lot in the past, never seeming to have the time to sit and read through other peoples stuff and to comment. 

I know this is such a huge part of the blogging community, and I certainly don't expect people to comment here if I'm not returning the compliment. I have huge thanks for those few who did comment on my Challenge posts, I think I didn't do too badly at replying to your comments and it's on my to-do list to check out all of your posts for the Challenge too.

This is going to be the lesson I take away from this Challenge, and I'm hoping to improve my blogging etiquette and hopefully make some more friends in the process.

Thank you for listening!

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If you want to check out more people reflecting on their A-Z journey, you can find them on the link-up list here.

If you want to find out more about the Insecure Writers Support Group, they have an excellent web page here with everything you could ever need in this crazy game.



Thursday, 30 April 2015

Zap your way through writers block! #AtoZChallenge

This post is part of the A-Z Blogging Challenge 2015. If this is something new to you, check out the website here to find out all you need to know.

My topics this year are covering studying and/or writing advice and guidance, to maybe help you as you cope with everything else in life.

 

Zap your way through writers block!

Writers block is the bane of a writers, or students, life. It's been trying to creep its way in every day of this challenge, blocking the flow of what I want to say.

A deadline helps with this, I find. That pressure of missing it, of failing to deliver, is enough to give me the push to get something down. I cope less well with it if I know I have all the time in the world to do something. 

The best way to deal with this block, as we all know, is to just write something. Anything, just to get the mind going, the fingers going, and words appearing on the page. It doesn't matter if it's complete drivel, it's done it's job if you can then get into the flow of something more meaningful.

I feel victorious that I've managed to get all the way through the month, battling against this pesky nuisance that always seems bent on keeping as many creative voices from expressing themselves.

Don't let the block get the better of you, battle through and strike it down!

 

You're not alone #AtoZChallenge

This post is part of the A-Z Blogging Challenge 2015. If this is something new to you, check out the website here to find out all you need to know.

My topics this year are covering studying and/or writing advice and guidance, to maybe help you as you cope with everything else in life.

 

You're not alone

I'd like to reinforce a point I made in a previous A-Z post, about joining the community. We're at the very end of the Challenge now, and I'm amazed and ecstatic that I've made it this far. And a lot of that is down to all of you guys.

There is a huge list of participants this year, as well as everyone signed up to the Insecure Writers Support Group. With these kinds of numbers fighting in our corner, going through the same things we are, how could we ever feel like we are alone.

Because we're really not alone, and there is always someone on hand with those words of encouragement that at times can be so desperately needed. So next time you feel alone, head on over to one list or the other and get yourself a little pick me up. Believe me, it'll do you the world of good.


 

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

X marks the spot, or at least your final goal #AtoZChallenge

This post is part of the A-Z Blogging Challenge 2015. If this is something new to you, check out the website here to find out all you need to know.

My topics this year are covering studying and/or writing advice and guidance, to maybe help you as you cope with everything else in life.


 

X marks the spot, or at least your final goal

I know I've said in a previous A-Z post about keeping yourself grounded and not dwelling too much on your ultimate dreams and desires. I still believe that you shouldn't linger too long on this, but it still helps to have some kind of final goal to be working towards.

For most people, goals are good, they help focus and drive you towards that final place. We need to make sure our goals are realistic and manageable though. 

One of the best ways to move forward can be to spend some time analysing what you have to get done in your regular week. By doing this you can see how much time you have spare and how much of that time can be spent on your projects.

I like to work backwards from the end point, which is usually a competition deadline or assignment submission date. I see how much time I have between the now and the then, and break the workload up into small, easy to digest chunks. This may seem a slow way to go at the beginning, but once you start ticking off those sessions the word count soon adds up, and that final end point gets closer and closer.



 

Monday, 27 April 2015

Why are you doing it? #AtoZChallenge

This post is part of the A-Z Blogging Challenge 2015. If this is something new to you, check out the website here to find out all you need to know.

My topics this year are covering studying and/or writing advice and guidance, to maybe help you as you cope with everything else in life.

 

Why are you doing it?

This post is very much linked to my post for V, Value what you're doing. If you can honestly answer the question 'Why are you writing/studying?', without hesitation, then you are probably on the right track doing what you're doing.

It's something of a myth amongst non-writers that writing a novel or a bunch of short stories is a guaranteed way to make some money. All of us actual writers spend a lot of time guffawing on the inside at such outrageous optimism. Alright, this may happen to a select few writers who make it really big really quick, and often with sub-standard material. Then, why can't the rest of us?

The truth is, it takes such a long time to produce good quality work that an author can be proud of, that money making is usually not the primary reason for doing it. Personally, writing is a cheap form of therapy, an escape from the real world into one where I'm in control (mwahahahaha!). But seriously, my main reason for doing writing and studying is my own enjoyment, crafting something from my own imagination and seeing where the characters lead themselves. Or reading something and understanding aspects of it that I'd never even considered before. 

Sure, I send things off to competitions, and one day I hope to send something larger off to be considered, but the main reason for doing this is to see if I'm really good enough to get out there. That in itself would be a huge achievement for me.

I've let a few people read my stories and the feedback is mostly good. More than one person has asked when I'm sending my next piece, and I'm chuffed that they actually look forward to reading it.  They like what I'm writing. And if I can make someone happy by giving them something enjoyable to read, then I know I've been doing it for the right reasons.

 

Value what you're doing #AtoZChallenge

This post is part of the A-Z Blogging Challenge 2015. If this is something new to you, check out the website here to find out all you need to know.

My topics this year are covering studying and/or writing advice and guidance, to maybe help you as you cope with everything else in life.


 

Value what you're doing

If you have little or no interest in what you're doing, the chances are what you produce isn't going to be of particularly good quality. When your heart isn't in it, whatever the task, you aren't bothered about what the results will be.

That's why it's so important to have value in what you're doing, to know that you really want it, and that it's what you're supposed to be doing. The reasons for doing it don't wholly matter, and I'll be talking about that for W. What matters is that it feels worth it to you, and that in itself makes it a worthy pursuit.

I love writing, and it's taken a good few years to come to this conclusion. When I'm writing it provides an escape, and my mind feels at peace. This is something that I've long sought for and believed it to be impossible, but now I've found what can bring me to that mindset I need to pursue it as much and as often as I can.

Studying has the same effect. When I began distance learning it was to further my career, but now I do it for the pleasure. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if I carried on learning some subject or other for a good portion of the rest of my life.

It doesn't matter what the value is to you, but it's important that some value is there, otherwise you'd need to question if it's really something you want to be doing. Once you establish that value, then there are no limits for how far you can go with it.

 

 

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Unique perspectives #AtoZChallenge

This post is part of the A-Z Blogging Challenge 2015. If this is something new to you, check out the website here to find out all you need to know.

My topics this year are covering studying and/or writing advice and guidance, to maybe help you as you cope with everything else in life.

 

Unique perspectives

When you really think about it, there are only so many themes or basic story plots that can be used for storytelling. But the sheer magnitude of stories out there in the world, and in so many different formats, just shows how many twists and turns can be taken.

What you can offer to your own version of these stories is your own unique perspective, brought on by your own experiences and life story. No two stories are going to be exactly the same, so you've always got your own bespoke set of characteristics to draw upon.

The trick is to have belief in these experiences, and to have the confidence to give an old story a new perspective, to be looked at in a new and exciting way.

There's always the danger of falling into the trap of writing what you think other people want to read. If you do this too much then you'll probably end up writing something that's already been done, in the pursuit of what's already established and popular. 

You need to try and steer clear of this, and just go with your own instincts. Write what you enjoy, and what you want to see in a story. There are so many audiences out there, there's bound to be one for your particular stories.


Thursday, 23 April 2015

Take time to rest #AtoZChallenge

This post is part of the A-Z Blogging Challenge 2015. If this is something new to you, check out the website here to find out all you need to know.

My topics this year are covering studying and/or writing advice and guidance, to maybe help you as you cope with everything else in life.

 


Take time to rest

I'm very aware that I should be taking my own advice from this post. I have felt so unbelievably tired over the last week or two, at times I've felt like I've been in the middle of some kind of out of body experience, or that I'm merely a passenger within my mind just watching as I go about my every day life. Let me tell you, it can feel like a very unsettling place when I'm like that.

Life can be hectic enough for most people, trying to juggle family life, work life, social life. And here I am trying to study and write as well, on top of all that. Trying to keep all of these balls in the air really is just asking for trouble.

There is nothing wrong with trying to have all of these things in my life, but I have to realise that some things will take precedence over others, and at times I have to let it all go a bit and just have a rest.

For the past few days I've been trying to take it easier, not worrying if I don't get around to something, and enjoying being able to just sit down and do nothing. I'm beginning to feel the benefits, but it's still going to be a slow process.

If you are going to try and juggle a lot in your life, please make sure that you take the time to rest as well. Your body will feel all the better for it, and so will whatever it is you're trying to achieve. 

 

Self doubts #AtoZChallenge

This post is part of the A-Z Blogging Challenge 2015. If this is something new to you, check out the website here to find out all you need to know.

My topics this year are covering studying and/or writing advice and guidance, to maybe help you as you cope with everything else in life.


 

Self doubts

We are all familiar with our self doubts, they usually muscle their way in and push Captain Confidence out while they're at it. It can only take the tiniest seed, which can fester and grow, to get in the way and stop us from doing what we really want to be doing.

Distance learning and writing can both be very solitary pursuits, which is the perfect environment for these pesky doubts to make themselves at home. At such times there isn't always someone on hand to help you out of the quagmire that they create, and you have to rely on your own mettle to drag yourself out of them.

We all know that we can be the best that we can be, and there will always be obstacles in the way trying to keep us from that. But as long as we keep battling through the low times, we know we'll be stronger for it and appreciate the good times all the more.


Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Read as well as write #AtoZChallenge

This post is part of the A-Z Blogging Challenge 2015. If this is something new to you, check out the website here to find out all you need to know.

My topics this year are covering studying and/or writing advice and guidance, to maybe help you as you cope with everything else in life.






Read as well as write


We all know it, but reading goes hand in hand with writing. The more you read, especially in the area of your own interest and what you like to write, the better it will make your writing.

I haven't been reading anywhere near as much as I'd like to, but I still try and fit some in where I can. I've read books that I love that give me ideas and inspiration of what I'd like to achieve with my own stories. I've also read books that I was less keen on, but they've given me motivation too that something I would consider to be sub-standard has been put out there anyway. It gives me hope that I could achieve something.

The same goes for studying. It's useful to read around the subject you're learning, if you have the time, and to thoroughly go through any material you are given as part of those studies.

In the past I used to worry that when I was reading it meant I was wasting valuable time that could be spent studying or writing. But now I realise this isn't the case at all, and by reading I'm enhancing those skills the best way I can, and it'll all prove useful somewhere down the line.
 

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Quality through quantity #AtoZChallenge

This post is part of the A-Z Blogging Challenge 2015. If this is something new to you, check out the website here to find out all you need to know.

My topics this year are covering studying and/or writing advice and guidance, to maybe help you as you cope with everything else in life.

 


 Quality through quantity

In many things there is always the argument about quality versus quantity. In writing though, I believe that quantity definitely leads to quality. You know the old saying, 'practice makes perfect', and the more you write the better you'll get.

I started writing properly about five years ago, and when I read some of the things I was knocking together back then I realise just how far I've come. I'm sure a lot of experienced writers will agree with this, and I've even heard of writers completely binning everything they produced in their first years of writing.

In the beginning you are learning your craft, the same as you would with anything else, but it can seem more difficult to see the improvements in your writing. Unless you've been sending out for submission or competitions from day one and have seen increased acceptances, it's not always obvious, particularly in your own writing. You can be too close to it to notice its weak points.

But as long as you keep working away, the practice can only improve the quality as you become better at spotting where words can be cut, scenes improved and characters made more believeable.

 


Monday, 20 April 2015

Prepare yourself #AtoZChallenge


This post is part of the A-Z Blogging Challenge 2015. If this is something new to you, check out the website here to find out all you need to know.

My topics this year are covering studying and/or writing advice and guidance, to maybe help you as you cope with everything else in life.


 

 Prepare yourself

Taking on a study module or large writing project can be quite an undertaking, so anything you can do to get yourself prepared for it can only be for the good.

I've found that even for short stories, the more preparation I can do before writing the first draft, the easier it is. Writing down background information for the characters, getting into their mindsets and motivations, makes it easier to write from each of their perspectives. Jotting down a scene by scene guide helps focus my drafting as well. I've tried being a pantster but it just doesn't work for me.

Preparing for studying is also essential. Some background for the subject can give you an idea of what you'll be focusing on, and getting to know your campus, or website and forums if you're distance learning can make the whole experience much more enjoyable.

I have nearly finished my current module for this year and have already signed up for my next one, Nineteenth Century Novels. We will be reading and studying quite a few books for that one, so I'm trying to get as prepared as I can by reading them all before hand.

In a lot of ways, the planning and preparation can take just as much, if not more, time than the actual studying or drafting!
  

Organisation #AtoZChallenge

This post is part of the A-Z Blogging Challenge 2015. If this is something new to you, check out the website here to find out all you need to know.

My topics this year are covering studying and/or writing advice and guidance, to maybe help you as you cope with everything else in life.


 

Organisation

For studying and writing, a certain level of organisation is always beneficial. I'm not necessarily talking about the planning of work in your diary and working to deadlines, but more the ordering and filing of different aspects of your work.

When I first started out with my writing, I'd jot down various ideas on scraps of paper, or in one of my many, many notebooks I can't help but purchase. This wasn't particularly useful of course, it would take me ages to find anything again.

I've since adopted a much better filing system, putting ideas, first drafts, edits etc. all together in one folder, so I can sort through things more easily. It's particularly useful to keep all my idea notes in one place, then if I feel stuck I can sift through them to find something to work on.

I've done this electronically too, with the installation of Dropbox. This also means I can save things wherever I have my ideas and they all end up in the same place. 

It can be a long time between writing things down and coming back to them later, so it helps to keep them easily accessible. Since having children my memory is pretty shot, so I need anything I can get to help with these things!


Friday, 17 April 2015

Now is the time to start #AtoZChallenge

This post is part of the A-Z Blogging Challenge 2015. If this is something new to you, check out the website here to find out all you need to know.

My topics this year are covering studying and/or writing advice and guidance, to maybe help you as you cope with everything else in life.

 


Now is the time to start


I used to be the kind of person that had to wait for that 'perfect moment' before I could start doing something. I needed to wait until I'm a bit less busy, or a bit less tired, or when I've done all my housework, or when I've done this and that and the other. The list really could be endless.

But as I've got older, I realise there is never a good or perfect time to do anything. If you want to do something, you just have to dig in and do it, and fit it in as best you can. If I had waited for those moments I probably wouldn't have my children, or be married or have achieved anything at all

Writing and studying are the same. If you have the drive and passion to believe in what you're doing, then you can fit it in almost anywhere. A few minutes reading or plotting while cooking the dinner, a precious 10 minutes waiting for the children to come out of school.

If you actually worked out how much waiting time you have in the day, it's quite a lot, and you'll be amazed how productive you can be in such short snatches of time. 

One of my favourtie film quotes is 'If something's important, you make the time.' 

So stop putting off whatever you want to do because of X excuse. Put that aside and get out your notebook and pen. Get yourself started and the rest will just follow.


Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Maintaining momentum #AtoZChallenge

This post is part of the A-Z Blogging Challenge 2015. If this is something new to you, check out the website here to find out all you need to know.

My topics this year are covering studying and/or writing advice and guidance, to maybe help you as you cope with everything else in life.



Maintaining momentum


Maintaining momentum when studying or writing can seem like an uphill struggle at times. When you begin something, a new module or a new work in progress, there is a rush of excitement and enthusiasm that what you're doing is the best thing ever and you're going to achieve so much in its wake.

And then after a few weeks hard work, focusing on little else, that interest begins to wane. This is a completely normal way to be. It's much like the pain barrier I suppose, and you just have to keep pushing through, doing what you've been doing. Get through that lull to the end sections and the enthusiasm bounces back as you near completion.

I'm having this lull right now, as I guess a lot of us are, as we hit this mid-way point of the challenge. I've been writing my posts each day this time around, and I'm beginning to feel that burn, that pain of having to keep turning up each day to write the next post. 

I know though, that by the end of next week I'll be buzzing again as the finish line looms on the horizon, and I'll have the sense of satisfaction that I've achieved what I set out to do.

So, next time you're part way through a large project and your heart just doesn't feel in it anymore, remember it's only a temporary dip, and if you can just keep it going at a steady enough pace for you, you'll get to where you want to be.


Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Learn as you go #AtoZChallenge

This post is part of the A-Z Blogging Challenge 2015. If this is something new to you, check out the website here to find out all you need to know.

My topics this year are covering studying and/or writing advice and guidance, to maybe help you as you cope with everything else in life.

 


 Learn as you go


It doesn't matter how good you are at something, or how high up the chain of command you go, you should still be learning in everything you do. This is the only way to adapt to the changes, and to keep pace with those newbies coming through setting their own trends.

I have been a student now for 12 years, and I'm still learning new ways of studying, from note taking methods to revision and exams. It's been a lot of trial and error for me, and I'm still not set in my ways when it comes to learning.

The same can be said about my writing. I haven't been writing for as many years, but it's a very fluid process it seems at the moment each time I approach a new story or competition brief I'm trying something new. A few things are sticking, the way I plan my stories follows a similar route, but I'm still working on the best way for me to move forward with my work in a more constructive way. Much of it still feels like I'm wandering around in the dark!

Learning as we go can be said for anything in life that we're doing. Times change so fast we have to keep up for fear of being left straggling behind. I don't want to be a straggler, but for now I'll settle for hanging on the coat-tails to keep up.

Keep track of progress #AtoZChallenge

This post is part of the A-Z Blogging Challenge 2015. If this is something new to you, check out the website here to find out all you need to know.

My topics this year are covering studying and/or writing advice and guidance, to maybe help you as you cope with everything else in life.


 Keep track of progress


There are so many ways to keep a track of what progress you're making towards your goals. If you've got a novel you want to get finished, then you'll be keeping an eye on that word count, if you're working on a standalone course or towards a degree, those assignment scores will keep you focused. 

Whatever method you choose, it's good to have some measure of how you're doing and what you're achieving. After all, how else are you to know if you're going in the right direction?

I try to write at least 500 words each day, and I keep a tally in my diary to see how well I keep to that goal. This exercise has also proven useful in showing what days of the week are the most productive for me.

At the start of the year I wrote down a list of objectives I wanted to achieve by the end of it, and I've broken those down into manageable tasks. I have my own review of progress after three months to see where I've done well and where I've missed my target. I can then adjust my strategy to even up the balance.

Keeping track of progress can have two opposing effects. If you're continually missing those targets it can increase the feeling of deflation and failure. But when you're hitting them, or most of them, it can be just as uplifting with a cumulative effect if you can just keep going.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Join in with the community #AtoZChallenge

This post is part of the A-Z Blogging Challenge 2015. If this is something new to you, check out the website here to find out all you need to know.

My topics this year are covering studying and/or writing advice and guidance, to maybe help you as you cope with everything else in life.

 


 Join in with the community


Being a writer and studying via distance learning are both very solitary endeavours. You have to push yourself to keep moving, have discipline to do the work instead of anything else, and at times it can feel lonely and isolating.

But we don't have to be alone. There is a whole world out there, full of people doing the same thing that you are and probably having the same worries and insecurities about it. You just have to take the time to go out into this wonderful blogosphere, and it won't take long to find them.

If you're reading this, the chances are you're probably a part of one of these communities already, and it's vital to your survival to make contact with others and share in each others pain.

More than a few times I've had my doubts, I've nearly quit, but so many of you have offered the words of encouragement to carry on and here I still am, plugging away. 

Don't be alone, reach out to others and together we'll make a success of ourselves, and help others along on their way too.


Immerse yourself #AtoZChallenge

This post is part of the A-Z Blogging Challenge 2015. If this is something new to you, check out the website here to find out all you need to know.

My topics this year are covering studying and/or writing advice and guidance, to maybe help you as you cope with everything else in life.



 Immerse yourself


I don't know about you guys, but most of the time I'm trying to juggle a lot of different things seemingly all at once. When I'm doing one thing, I have a niggle at the back of my mind saying I should be doing one of the other things. With my concentration distracted like this, I don't do as good a job as I should be doing.

I'm trying a different tack now though, and I'm trying to ignore the other things and fully immerse myself in the task at hand. I find a timer is very handy for this, I set it to go and then forget about everything except what I'm doing. I let myself get completely into the world I'm writing about, or reading about, and let my mind wander free when I'm there.

I know I'm not going to get carried away so much that I miss something else (like collecting the children!) because I've set that timer, so I can let myself go and get more out of the time I spend on the task.

I work my way through my to-do list in this way, trying to forget about the rest of the things on it, concentrating on one at a time. It's a work in progress, but I'll get there I'm sure.

Do you have similar distractions when you're trying to focus?

(P.S. I'm hoping nobody has noticed that I've posted this a day late. Sshh, it'll be our little secret ...)



Thursday, 9 April 2015

Have faith in yourself #AtoZChallenge

This post is part of the A-Z Blogging Challenge 2015. If this is something new to you, check out the website here to find out all you need to know.

My topics this year are covering studying and/or writing advice and guidance, to maybe help you as you cope with everything else in life.


 
 

 Have faith in yourself

Believing in yourself, and trusting in your own abilities is probably in the list of top five struggles for a writer or student.

The journey for both is full of peaks and troughs, with enthusiasm and ideas propelling us at the start, but when they start to wane part way through a project or module it can be difficult to maintain momentum to keep going.

If work is assessed (for the student) or under consideration (for the writer) a bad result from either can feel like a body blow, making us question whether we have the ability to carry on, and whether we've really got what to takes to push past the hard times and be a success.

Having shown a few of my stories to different people, I've found that I get very different reactions from them. Some like the story, some find room for improvement where others think it's perfectly acceptable. The truth is you can never please everyone all of the time, but there will probably be someone out there that likes what you're doing.

You need to just hold on to that spark that got you going in the first place, let it burn within you and have faith that if you're enjoying the journey, even when it's tough, then you're on the right path. With a little perseverance, and a thick skin, you will find those people out there that are your target audience. They are most definitely out there, waiting to discover you.



Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Ground yourself #AtoZChallenge

This post is part of the A-Z Blogging Challenge 2015. If this is something new to you, check out the website here to find out all you need to know.

My topics this year are covering studying and/or writing advice and guidance, to maybe help you as you cope with everything else in life.


Ground Yourself


I have a dream. In fact I have a lot of dreams, but one of the main ones is to be a published writer and earn enough money so that I can give up the regular day job. I don't want millions (although I wouldn't turn it down!), just enough to maintain how I'm living now and be able to spend quality time with my children and not feel so tired.

It's good to have dreams, they give us something to aim for and justify all the hard work we need to put in. But don't spend so much time thinking about your dreams that you forget to do the actual work to achieve them.

Many a day I've spent in my future life, going about my days in the way I want to. But I need to remember to focus on today, and what's happening in this, my actual life. You need to keep yourself grounded enough in the now, to have the discipline to achieve all that we need to in order to get to that future life.

So keep going with the hard work, and one day it'll pay off the way you want it to.

 

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Flexibility #AtoZChallenge

This post is part of the A-Z Blogging Challenge 2015. If this is something new to you, check out the website here to find out all you need to know.

My topics this year are covering studying and/or writing advice and guidance, to maybe help you as you cope with everything else in life.

 

Flexibility


Flexibility is perhaps one of the most important skills we need as writers living with a plethora of other responsibilities. 

I love to sit down and plan out everything I need to do, assigning due dates and to do lists for the week. But most weeks I only get half way through that list, and quite often the same tasks roll over from week to week.

I'm getting much better at dealing with it though, knowing that with two small children I have to have a high level of flexibility, putting them first and knowing that there will be time to get done what I want to and need to.

It's not just the children either that make sudden demands on my time, and I'm finding it's better just to go with whatever happens to keep us from our writing, rather than feeling any negativity about it. It's just a little detour, turning us from our path, but there's always a way back to it if we really want it.

And I know that most of us have a strong need, driving us back to that path, and with that knowledge in hand I can deal with the distractions.

 

 

Monday, 6 April 2015

Equipment #AtoZChallenge



This post is part of the A-Z Blogging Challenge 2015. If this is something new to you, check out the website here to find out all you need to know.

My topics this year are covering studying and/or writing advice and guidance, to maybe help you as you cope with everything else in life.


Equipment

Depending on how you prefer to work you may or may not agree, but the basic tools you need for either studying or writing is a notepad and a pen or pencil. If these were the only things you had in your utility belt you could still spend some quality time getting your ideas down.

Of course, there are so many other things that we can use as well, but these are merely add-ons to help us keep organised and amused. I'm yet to come across a student and/or writer that doesn't have any kind of obsession with notepads. I bought one last week simply because it was on sale, but I don't actually need it right now. It'll come in though, I just know it.

Some kind of computer is always handy, especially for keeping up in the blogosphere, and for getting those drafts completed. I'm finding that all my ideas and planning is happening by hand in my notepads, but drafts and edits are all done on my laptop. Apart from the pain it saves in my hand from all the handwriting, I can get more words down in a shorter time when I type.

A calendar or diary can be useful too, for keeping track of deadlines that are approaching (and whizzing by a lot of the time :-( ) and for keeping track of progress. I have one calendar that has my life in it seemingly, but I can use it to schedule in around everything else that's going on.

These are only a couple of things that I've been making use of, do let me know if you have anything else that you think I may benefit from.

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Discipline #AtoZChallenge

This post is part of the A-Z Blogging Challenge 2015. If this is something new to you, check out the website here to find out all you need to know.

My topics this year are covering studying and/or writing advice and guidance, to maybe help you as you cope with everything else in life.  



Discipline


After doing distance learning courses for the last 12 years (blimey, I've just realised that's how long it's been!), one thing I've learned that's crucial in my study arsenal is discipline.

Everything you do is from home, your studying, reading materials, essays, assignments, exam revision. You don't have the regular nudges from your fellow students or your tutors shuffling you along all the time. Everything's done at a distance, and it could be weeks between contact with any of your fellows.

And we all know how easily those distractions present themselves when you're trying to get anything done at home. The housework stares at you, tempting you, family and friends entice you away to the pub or to the cinema or just to watch something on the television.

It takes a lot of self discipline to say no to these things, and to spend the energy on getting some actual work done. And it can feel like a lonely place when you're at a low ebb, struggling with concepts or ideas and there's nobody immediate to talk to (but that's another post ... )

Discipline is what helps you to say no to the distractions and yes to the hard work ahead of us that we know will be worth it when we're finished.




Friday, 3 April 2015

Commit to completion #AtoZChallenge


This post is part of the A-Z Blogging Challenge 2015. If this is something new to you, check out the website here to find out all you need to know.

My topics this year are covering studying and/or writing advice and guidance, to maybe help you as you cope with everything else in life.  

 

Commit to completion


I looked through my Dropbox files the other day at all the projects I've started over the last five years. There are more than just a few, I was actually surprised at how many ideas I seem to have conjured from my imagination.

However, I can count on one hand the amount of stories that I have actually completed to a satisfying finish. For whatever reason I lose interest in the story, or my doubts over how good the idea is start to surface and I abandon it.

Despite being highly unproductive, it also pushes my writing morale further south than I'd like it to. One thing I need to get better at is finishing a project, committing myself to it until it's in a submittable state.

Doing my Open University studies in creative writing has helped hugely, the fixed deadlines for each assignment mean I have to get my stories in on time. And it's a satisfying feeling to know that I've actually finished something properly.

Not only that, I have a few stories that I can send out to places now. So, my advice to you (and myself) would be to make sure you finish something, even when your interest in it wanes. You may need to leave it for a day or two, but no longer or there is a risk of it falling off your creative radar.

Just give it a go and tell me it's not satisfying ...


Thursday, 2 April 2015

Be kind to yourself #AtoZChallenge


This post is part of the A-Z Blogging Challenge 2015. If this is something new to you, check out the website here to find out all you need to know.

My topics this year are covering studying and/or writing advice and guidance, to maybe help you as you cope with everything else in life. 




 Be kind to yourself


I'm very good at scheduling things, work to be done, writing tasks, study tasks, laying everything out in my diary for when I can theoretically fit everything in. And in an ideal world I'd be able to do all the things when I say I'm going to do them.

But as we know we don't live in an ideal world, at least I don't anyway. There are family things that come up, and all manner of other occurrences that seem determined to knock us off our intended course.

To take into account all these unexpected eventualities you need to be kind to yourself, and not expect too much. Don't set yourself a mountain to climb with things to do each day, limit tasks to one or two and celebrate when you manage to get them done. You may have to put one off until the next day, and only catching up on one task is better than catching up on ten.

And don't forget to give yourself a treat as well when you actually complete a task on the day you set it. It's a rare event for me, but one worth celebrating!






Wednesday, 1 April 2015

And so it begins ... #AtoZChallenge

This post is part of the A-Z Blogging Challenge 2015. If this is something new to you, check out the website here to find out all you need to know.

My topics this year are covering studying and/or writing advice and guidance, to maybe help you as you cope with everything else in life. 



And so it begins ...


So here we are on the first day of the Challenge, and I started off with the usual problem of staring at the blank page wondering what to write. How many times has this happened to you?

Too many ideas are competing for attention in my mind, including non-writing tasks that are demanding to be done, and a lot of time is wasted with wandering thoughts getting further off topic.

All you need to get yourself going is to write something, anything, to push past the confusion. It can be something mulling around in your mind, the tiniest story idea to get it out of your brain and onto the paper/screen. Just write something and it will wake up your mind and your imagination and before you know it you'll be notching up the word count.

I try to start my writing day with a 15 minute free write, just to brush the cobwebs away and get focused into writing mode.

Why not try it yourself if you're feeling stuck?

For those about to A-Z, we salute you!!! - an IWSG post

Insecure Writer's Support Group

So, here we are on the first day of the A-Z Blogging Challenge, and I know many of us are wondering what in the world has possessed us to take this crazy ride ...

Why, the fun of it, of course!!!

You may be anxious, you may be insecure, you may be just scared witless, but just hang on for the ride, plan your socks off and enjoy meeting some new blogging buddies in this month of alphabet madness.

Huge thanks must go out to Arlee Bird, the founder and master brain behind this monumental month of posting. Without him our April would be a lot more mundane and probably stress-free.

So, chin up everyone, and

GOOD LUCK!!!!! 



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First Weds of every month 
For more information on the amazing entity that is the Insecure Writers Support Group, click on the link and head over. Here you will find the list of who's participating and it's well worth a browse to see what everyone's insecurities are. Trust me, you're not alone, there are plenty of us on the same wavelength.


 Happy IWSG Day!


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Tuesday, 31 March 2015

I must be mad! A-Z Blogging Challenge 2015, here I come!



I must be totally mad, but one week before it's due to begin I decided that I will be joining in with the A-Z Blogging Challenge this year. For anyone who doesn't have a clue what I'm talking about, you can find out everything you need to know about the Challenge here.

I've done it for the past three years now, and I've enjoyed it every time, but those who've been following me will know I've been in the blogging doldrums lately with a loss a direction and purpose. 

I'd decided not to do the Challenge when I'm in such an uncertain place, but being back at work has given me more time to sit and think and plan, so in one afternoon I came up with my theme and titles for each letter of the Challenge. (My work is pretty dull, and I have a lot of time to think.)

The theme I'm going with is my own guide to studying at home, with tips on how I get through it, which can also be applied to my writing world too. I'm hoping that by writing these things down and using them as advice for others, I may start listening to it myself a bit more and have more confidence in what I'm doing.

I hope you enjoy what I have to offer, and I'll see you back here tomorrow for post number one!




Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Taking some time out at the WWBH

Hi folks!

We're taking a break for a while over here at the WWBH, Leanne has all the details ...


WriterWednesdayButton

We're going on vacation! After at least four years of faithfully bringing you weekly photo prompts to inspire your creative side, the Writer Wednesday Blog Hop team is going on an extended (not indefinite) sabbatical to rest, regroup, and refresh.


At this point we plan on returning June 3, 2015 for some fresh summer fun with new prompts and maybe a new twist for this old favorite. :)


In the meantime, we'll leave you with the final story written by one of our most faithful blog hop participants, Scott Taylor. Thank you, Scott, for your awesome, funny, heartwarming, and creative entries!


Also, if you are really sad now because you really wanted to participate but just hadn't been able to, here's a list of all the prompts of this year so far.
















Feel free to write as many stories as you wish and submit them to the link below. (The same rules apply as listed in each prompt!)


We'll publish all the stories when the Blog Hop returns in June! Be inspired and keep writing!


Farewell for now. <3


Your friends and weekly hostesses, Tena Carr, Heather Musk, Debb Stanton, and Leanne Sype