Books · Lifestyle · Uncategorized

5 Reasons Why NaNoWriMo Is Great For Creativity

Right now, I am supposed to be writing my novel for National Novel Writing Month, or as it’s more frequently referred to, NaNoWriMo.

If you haven’t heard about NaNoWriMo yet, it is the international challenge, every year for the month of November, where participants commit themselves to writing 50,000 words of a novel, without going back to edit anything. No rewrites, no deleting words, just writing. Solidly. For the whole month.

I have only ever reached 40,000 words, and that was last year, when practically all I was doing was writing my squishy butt off. In the mornings, on breaks and lunch at work, in the evenings. I don’t really remember much of November last year, because honestly I was mostly spending it holed up in my room trying to write (and save money for my trip to Australia).

However, I must have done some social things, because if I hadn’t, I would have reached 50,000 words and would have completed NaNoWriMo for the first time ever.

This year I am already severely behind, and it is tempting, as a previous participant who knows the drill, to be upset about this. But this is not a post to lecture you about how important it is to not fall behind. I’m not going to give you tips on how to keep on writing your squishy butt off until you hit that coveted word count.

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This post – which is as much procrastination for me as it is for anyone reading it – is about how NaNoWriMo, even if we don’t win it, is a fantastic thing to do anyway, because it inspires in all who take part the daily need to be creative. How? Well:

  1. The aim of the challenge is to write as many words as possible in quite a small time frame. Now, one could argue that this means writers churn out a lot of crap, and that is often true – apparently publishers will automatically scorn any novel where the writer claims to have written it during NaNoWriMo. However, someone once said that to be great at something, you first have to be good at something, and to be good at something, you first have to be bad at something, and to be bad at something, you need to do the thing in the first place. You could be writing word after word of useless crap, but what you’re doing is practicing a craft. Even if you think it’s rubbish now, at least you are doing something, and working towards eventually writing something amazing.
  2. It gives you the opportunity to explore that idea that you have been thinking about for ages but never had the confidence to start. Nobody is going to read it unless you force them to. The beauty of writing about such an idea for NaNoWriMo is that it’s allowed to be rubbish, because it is merely an exploration of an idea you’ve never written about before. This gives you a fresh start, a fresh perspective, and if it turns out to not be your strongest work, well, you got to give it a go, whereas you might never have done so before.
  3. It makes you competitive, but only with yourself. Throughout the month you are constantly chasing a word count, and trying your best to beat what you did yesterday. A little bit of competitiveness does wonders for creatives, as long as you don’t get too stressed about it. Sometimes, thinking of it as a game can mean your ideas flow even more. Think Mary Shelley writing Frankenstein to be the best horror / sci-fi writer out of her friends. Yeah.
  4. You get to create something every. Single. Day. Do you know how great that is? There’s no actual pressure other than the one you put on yourself. Getting the opportunity – or rather, making the opportunity – to create every day is something that so many successful people do, and it is so so special to have an actual excuse to do that. Writing at work? Who cares, it’s for NaNoWriMo! (Don’t actually write when you should be working though…)
  5. Throughout NaNoWriMo, you are given endless support from all the other people taking part. There’s the @NaNoWordSprints Twitter, there are endless forums and meet ups, and because everybody is in the same boat as you, everyone is happy to swap and change and talk about their stories. It is totally inspiring to hear other people doing something so similar to you, but with completely different results! And it is even more inspiring to get pep-talks and encouragement from some of the best authors out there.

Anyway, I’m done gushing. Probably should get back to writing. Even if I don’t hit the word count, I’m still going to push myself to write a little every day.

Does this count?

I wish it did.

Au revoir

xxx

Health and Fitness · Lifestyle · Uncategorized

Deal With It

I took an accidental month long break from writing blogs because of several reasons. Reason number one was that I spent some time in Paris with my lovely friend Amy, which I will blog about soon. Reason number two is that I’ve been quite busy at work and in my social life that I just haven’t had the time.

And reason number three is that I was told last week that the charity I work for cannot afford to keep me past June, and that basically I need to find a new job by that point, which probably won’t be in my home town, where I live currently. I guess you could say I’ve been panicking, and writing a blog has been the least of my worries.

It’s not really fixed, as I haven’t found a replacement job yet, but I’ve come to terms with it, and the way I’ve found helps me deal with it is by continuing doing all the things I usually do when I’m not working, which includes this blog. I enjoy creating little snippets of my life, whether it’s about what I’m reading or where I’ve been. I think it should also be about how I’m feeling too.

I’ve called this post ‘Deal With It’ because that’s exactly what I intend to do. As a child I never recognized in myself what I would definitely now call anxiety. Afraid to put my hand up in class, afraid to answer the register, worried constantly about what my class mates and my teacher thought of me. It is only as several of my friends have been diagnosed, and told me how they felt, and through research of my own, that I see I had that, a lot, and that it effects me still now. The only difference is that now, I know what makes me anxious, and I deal with it as it comes.

Public transport going wrong, or getting lost, or making a mistake in my car makes me anxious. Being excluded from events makes me anxious. Being included in events where I don’t know anyone makes me anxious. Not having a hair brush on me at all times makes me anxious.Hot crowds of strangers, arriving at places late or alone, asking for something to be changed or improved at restaurants or returning something at shops, all these things make me feel sick and panicked and make my hands shake, my chest and face go red, and my speech go. Because of this, public speaking is nearly impossible to me. Which is rubbish, because I really, really wish I could be better at it.

But I know all this now, I recognize when it’s happening, and most of the time I can even calm myself before it does happen, and deal with it like a normal human being. All of these things I feel anxiety about, and quash it before anybody else notices. And then I fix it, and move on.

I think that this has meant that the things I should be panicked about, I don’t worry about half so much. Which is good and bad in equal measures. But I’d rather not be panicked enough then panic too much. Feeling anxious to me is the worst feeling in the world. I know it is to a lot of people, too. For me, I always feel ridiculous when I do stupid things like cry over missing my train, or begging my friends to bring a hair brush to things just in case I accidentally lose mine. Everyone feels anxious for different reasons. But it’s hard to realise that when you become so wrapped up in your own anxieties.

Anyway, I’ve learned to deal with it, and I’m dealing with not having a job lined up at the moment, even though it is stressful and sad and quite frankly, annoying. Everybody struggles at some point in my life.

It’s just taking all of my sensibility to hold me back and not just run off and live in Australia.

Au revoir.
xxx

Health and Fitness · Lifestyle · Uncategorized

Doing Dry January

If you know me well, you’ll be well aware of the fact that I am very much pro-drinking. My parents introduced me to alcohol (safely, of course) at quite a young age, allowing me to try wine, have a drink with my meal, and letting me go to parties without the worry of me potentially calling them up from hospital after having my stomach pumped. As a result, I have always known my limits with alcohol, and have never been sick from it.

I have never had a bad experience with any particular type of alcohol, although as I have got older I have learned what I like best, what gets me drunk quickest, and what is not a good idea for me to mix.

The past year and a half has taught me a lot about what I shouldn’t mix. As a teenager and young adult, I never experienced a black out or any serious effect to my memory, simply heightened emotions. However, the last year of university and the first nearly two years in the ‘adult’ world, I have had quite a few drunken experiences that have left me struggling to remember how I made it home, and, more recently, what I might have said to people in my inebriated state.

And I really, really hate that. Even if it was a great night and no mistakes were made, how am I supposed to enjoy the memories of it if I don’t have any?

So  I decided to do Dry January, not as a fundraiser, not necessarily for my health, but just to give myself a well needed break from the stuff. And, to my horror, it was surprisingly easy.

As in, I didn’t feel the need to drink. I didn’t want to drink. And the only time I was tempted in the slightest was when we went to the cutest pub in the world and everyone was trying different craft beers with interesting flavors. I don’t even like beer. I just wanted to see if they tasted different to me. But I didn’t crack.

The thing was, that I had been having such heavy drinking nights throughout December because of Christmas, that I was beginning to feel sick of it anyway. I felt acidic and full of cold and just generally tired and dehydrated. Starting the year off alcohol free was one of my better shouts for my health, because it meant that I caught up on sleep, ate slightly better, and was able to do exercise without feeling like I was dying.

It also meant that I had a pleasant January that I could actually remember clearly and know when I had embarrassed myself. Which, because I was sober, wasn’t that often.

I made it through January with ease, and feeling positively about the sober life.

The only draw back was that I celebrated the beginning of February by drinking 5 drinks and ended up, yep you guessed it, black out drunk. I woke to my room completely trashed, mysterious bruises, and a split lip, just from getting home. I assume I fell over.

But this is still a good thing, and a learning curve. Now I know that my tolerance has gone down, it means I need to consciously drink less when I am drinking. This is cheaper. This is control. It also means I’m going to buy things I actually like the taste of rather than stuff that’s going to get me drunk, because I don’t really particularly want to be drunk. From now on (with the exception of maybe my birthday and New Years Eve), I am going to be drinking because I want to drink something nice and be sociable with my friends, rather than just to become confident in social situations, or to fit in.

This might have come across as preachy and I apologize, because I am the last person to judge anyone for drinking or being drunk. I actively encourage it in my friends and loved ones, because reaching that sweet spot of drunkenness is the best time ever. But for myself, I have only reached it maybe twice in the last two years, and I hate to feel out of control. I think drunk me is a terrible, embarrassing and annoying person, even if others agree.

This does not mean I’m going to stop drinking completely. I’ve just made the decision to not drink during the week, and to limit myself to drinks I actually like.

Hopefully, this will be easily maintained!

Au revoir.
xxx

Lifestyle · Uncategorized

New Years Resolutions 2016

Hello! I hope everybody has had a wonderful Christmas / holiday period and is ready for 2016. I do have some posts lined up about where I’ve been for the last month or so (spoilers, I was in Australia, and it was awesome), but seeing as it’s New Years Eve tomorrow I thought that I would share my resolutions for 2016.

I really like making New Years resolutions. I know that many people think that we shouldn’t need an excuse to make a fresh start, and I agree to some extent, but I think that making resolutions for the year to come is an important tradition. It gives us a chance to reflect fondly on the year we’ve just had, and to actively try to make the next one even better. Yes, we should always be trying to do that, but making an effort at the very start is just good practice.

For me, I’ve always managed to keep one resolution a year, although for the last two years, my resolution has been the same – to say yes to more things and to not worry so much about the consequences. I have stuck to these proudly, and it has ended up that 2014 and 2015, although sad in places, have been the most memorable and entertaining years of my life so far.

In 2016, I am going to attempt to be slightly more adult with what I want to achieve, but I am keeping the “Yes Year” aspect in my head as I go through them. Yes, I want to be successful and make a name for myself, but I still want to enjoy my life and have good times with the people I love.

Anyway, enough rambling, here are my resolutions for 2016:
1. Read 50 books.

2. Write 1 blog post a week.

3. Make 1 video a week.

4. Have 1 cultural experience a month.

5. Go to 1 judo class, 1 PT session, 1 fitness class and 1 park run a week.

6. Go to 1 flute lesson a week.

7. Visit 2 different countries.

8. Make notable progress in your career.

As you can see I only have 8 because I don’t want to over stretch myself or become upset if I don’t complete any. 8 is enough for now.

And, I fully intend to try and continue with these, even if I fail, I’m going to pick myself up and start again.

Now I just need to stuff all this chocolate in my face before Thursday.

Au revoir.
xxx

Rea