Reasons Why Your Partner Is The Best (And Worst) Editor

Most novice writers, including myself, rely on their nearest and dearest for feedback. That can only be a really, really good thing, or a really, really bad thing. Here’s a few pros and cons:

+ They’re always there
Constantly encouraging you to write!

– They’re always there
Constantly guilting you for not writing.

Continue reading “Reasons Why Your Partner Is The Best (And Worst) Editor”

The 10 Stages of Procrastination

You wake up early, rearing to go and ready to write. You have high hopes for writing reviews, articles, essays, poems, short stories or maybe even a big chunk of your novel. But then, a funny feeling comes over you… You’ve got so many other things to do, places to be, stuff to eat!!

1. Distraction

What was that? I’m sure I saw something move over there. Was it a fly? Ooh! How exciting!

2. Negativity

I’ll never finish this eveeeer! I should just curl up in a ball and weep, that’s much more productive.

3. Hunger

I need to devour absolutely everything in the kitchen and maybe the world.

4. Tiredness

My eyes… just can’t… stay… Zzzzzzzz.

5. Chores

I’ve got so many chores to do! I’ve never wanted to clean under my bed so much.

6. Cheating

If I can just add a few words here and there maybe I can get my word count up a bit…
*copies* *pastes* *hits keyboard randomly*

7. Delusion

I don’t need to do this crap! I can suceed without any of this so called ‘work’ or ‘experience’.

8. Hysteria

I dont even know what I’m doing any more. Words? Writing? What is this?

9. ‘Research’

Memes and youtube count as research, right?

10. Lowering expectations

Oh, I know, I’ll just write a blog with loads of pictures. Yeaaaaah.

9 Things People Should Say More Often

I just watched this Kid President video and wholeheartedly agree with every point! (Especially the one about corn dogs but unfotunately we don’t really have corn dogs in the UK…) I thought I’d come up with a few of my own, partly as a tribute to this video and partly because I think he missed a few.

1. You’re my friend!
There are so many occassions when you don’t quite know where you stand with someone. It’d be lovely if everyone just came out and said ‘I like you’ (unless the truth was that they hated you, then it’s best not to say anything or stop hanging out). It would make it so much easier to invite someone out or get their number without worrying they’ll think you’re a creep.

2. Why not!?
I’m not a fan of the ‘yes man’ approach because I’m stubborn, sensible and riddled with phobias… However, when there’s genuinely no reason to turn an offer down, why not go for it!?

3. I love you.
You know they know, and they know you know they know… So, why don’t we just say it!?
Granted, sometimes it is awkward but in those situations I find it best to sing it. (In the tune of ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You’ is my personal favourite).

4. You look fab!
‘Fab’ is obviously interchangeable with less outdated terminology but I like it! I’m guilty of thinking nice things but never actually saying them as well as being offended when someone doesn’t notice I’ve made an effort. Time for a change!

5. Would you mind if…?
Being a typical awkward Brit, I generally just stand somewhere looking uncomfortable and hoping that someone will move/help instead of asking if they will. There’s usually a lot of huffing, puffing, umm’ing and ahh’ing involved. It would probably be easier if I just asked.

6. What do you enjoy doing? / What’s the last book you read? / Where’s your favourite place?
Anything but ‘what do you do?’ I may be the only one but I always feel impending judgement as soon as someone asks what I do for a living.

7. I need your help.
This may be another personal gripe but I hate asking for help. I just like saying I did everything all by myself. (I’m going to blame only child syndrome as per ususal.) But does it really matter? Things would probably get done faster and I’d learn a bit more if I just gave in to a helping hand.

8. I’m so jealous!
This is much nicer than trying to make the thing that you are jealous of seem less cool than it is…

9. I don’t want to do that.
I always feel the need to come up with a really elaborate excuse for not doing something when the actual reason is just ‘I don’t wanna!’ Once in a while I’m going to say in all-out confidence, with no explanation and no worries of what other people think: nope!

10 Things I’ve Learnt in Thailand

I’ve been here about two weeks now and it’s not long until I’ll be leaving and heading to Vietnam. Here’s a few of the less poignant things I’ve learnt while being here.

1. Do not drink the tap water!
I thought this was more of a ‘guideline’. It is definitely not just a guideline!! Fortunately, I wasn’t being all out crazy so I only brushed my teeth with the water rather than drinking it. I did do this every single night though so this was more than enough to knock me down for a few days.

2. Get a water proof bag.
You always think that your cameras and electronics are probably a bit more sturdy than it says on the box. They’re not. And they’re definitely not waterproof.

3. Don’t assume there’s been a translation issue.
If a local says it’s a 7km trek to a waterfall it’s probably aha 7km trek to a waterfall.

4. I don’t like tobogganing.
Or riding on the back, or going down hills, or going through mountains, or over bumps, or driving myself. In fact, I just generally don’t like motorbikes!

5. Days are beginning to blur.
I Know i’s only been 2 weeks out here but I’m already lost as to what the day or date is. Any slight change to my routine completely throws me off my game.

6. All animals are cleverer than you think they are.
Dogs know exactly how to get the right amount of sympathy to get food off of you, cats know how to hide in your room when you’re not looking, elephants know how to tell you to go away and mosquitoes will get you no matter how hard you try.

7. Crackers fix everything.
I’ve been ill for approximately a third of our travels so far and after all the many medications I’ve tried, I can confirm crackers are the best remedy.

8. I’m not so much of a picnic!
I always worry about how I will manage to put up with other people when I’m going away. (I’m an only child with a very specific required quota of alone time and personal space.) This time, I’m going away with only my other half for 12X the amount of time we’ve ever spent away with each other. Dun dun duuuuuh! However, I did not take into account how hard it would be for him to put up with me. Turns out I’m much more difficult than he is so my mind can be put at rest! ;)

9. Tourists are taking over.
I know I’m one of them so I can’t talk but I just can’t get over how many of us there are. Everywhere you look we’re taking a picture. I’d be more accepting if there were more photos of amazing scenery and less of selfies with that funny guy at the tea stall with the Viking hat… (I just don’t get it!)

10. A rucksack is enough.
When I first picked up my rucksack I wanted to cry. Not only was it unbelievably heavy, it was also not even close to enough stuff what I needed to survive on a daily basis! Or so I thought. Yesterday I threw away my first pieces of clothing that I don’t need. It’s nice knowing I don’t need very much to get by! Even if the rucksack is still about the same size as me.

Realisations of ‘Bye’

Tomorrow I’m flying to Bangkok as the first stop of a three month trip around South East Asia. I’ve spent the last two months alternating between planning and procrastinating but the last week has been spent saying ‘bye’. I said bye to my Dad at Leeds train station, I said au revoir to my Mum in London after dog sitting for her for a few days and I’ve said farewell to friends at various events designed to eat, drink and be merry! Here’s a few things I’ve learned from my last week of ‘goodbying’.

I’m just like my parents
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I thought I’d be cool saying ‘bye’ to all my friends. I hoped to leave an impression of general cavalier-ness and ‘chill’. However, when it comes down to it I find myself saying all those things my parents would say. ‘You take care now!’ ‘I’ll be thinking of you!’ ‘Wish you were coming!’

There’s a lot I don’t know about my friends
All the gossip comes out now that I’m leaving! We’ve asked each other all sorts of random questions ‘just because’ and there’s been so many unexpected, random answers. Here’s a tip: If you ever want to find out a secret, pretend your going travelling for three months!

I don’t see people enough
Only when it’s too late do you both think ‘oh, this is fun, we should do it more’! Then you have to be like ‘nah, let’s not see each other in an even longer time because I’m getting outta heeeere!’ (That’s my childish way of covering up how much I love my friends and how much I wish I saw them more.)

Emotion surprises you
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Let me explain. From what I can tell, saying bye effects you in one of two ways: you either think you’re a very emotional person and it turns out you’re not or you think you aren’t and you are. Here’s my proof. Me – very emotional, not a single tear shed at any ‘goodbye’s’. My boyfriend – not particularly emotional, tears everywhere. That’s an exaggeration but he definitely shed more tears than me and I will be reminding him about it A LOT. So, whatever you thought you were… you’re not.

I have WAY too much stuff
There is stuff everywhere!! It’s under the bed, behind the sofa, in the cupboard, on the cupboard, in the attic, in other peoples attics, crammed into boxes that it can never fit back in, etc. There’s just too much stuff.

But I don’t need that much
After hours of deciding what I will need and what I won’t I have finally managed to fit everything into one large rucksack. It may be jammed in there with the intricacies of a Chinese puzzle and probably will never fit in again after my first night away but t’s nice to see that I can live off so few things.

I love my home town
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Occasionally I moan about Leeds but going back there knowing it might be for the last time in a long time made me like every little thing. From the corn exchange where I used to buy numerous pairs of fingerless gloves to the well-loved Leeds United fans.

I’m last minute
I never thought I was last minute. In fact, I have repeatedly described myself as ‘organised’ to many people. Yet, trying to plan my life for the next three months has proven me wrong. I got travel insurance two days ago, scanned my important documents yesterday, finished packing today and I’ll be getting travel money tomorrow… Soooo, not that organised.

Poundland fixes everything
I’ve been saying this for years! No eye mask? Poundland. Need toiletries? Poundland. Want travel sweets? Poundland! Planning for my travels has proved Poundland is wonderful once again.

My favourite thing is notebooks
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I think I already knew this but my impending trip has confirmed it. When picking and choosing which belongings to leave behind, I found I had a bit more of an attachment to stationary than I thought. Never have I felt so much pain as choosing between the many untouched notebooks that I’ve bought over the years.

I know nothing about the world
I really have no idea what I’m getting myself into. This becomes more apparent every time someone asks me about my trip and I have NO IDEA. That’s alright though because this way I can be blissfully unaware of all the sticky situations I’m going to get into. Wish me luck!

2015 Nosolutions

I had hopes of my first post of 2015 being an inspirational, upbeat blog that would whip the masses into a frenzy of productivity! As it happens, I’ve slept through the majority of the year so far and have done very little other than watch Gotham, play Snake 2 (bring that back!) and ask for snacks to be brought to me in bed. I don’t have any crazy new year’s eve stories to share either so don’t get your hopes up. Instead, I got a virus just in time for the celebrations and vomited through the midnight countdown as well as the following 24 hours – yippee! As thrilling that was, it would feel like cheating to write about productivity and inspiration now. So, instead I’m going to write about the things that I’m not going to do in 2015. I’ve coined the term ‘Nosolutions’ which is ‘not resolutions’ if that wasn’t already really obvious, duh.

Anyway, here they are:

1. Don’t let technology beat me!
I have been foiled by televisions, iPads, Kindles and even little old MP3 players. 2015 is the year I overcome my technophobia. I don’t know how yet but it’s going to happen.

2. Wear no layers
It’s about time I paid tribute to my Northern roots. I’m always moaning about being cold and layering up in a billion(ish) jumpers which is an insult to many Lioners. So, I’m going to build up my immune system, kick off those layers and train myself to face the cold, hopefully all without getting hypothermia.

3. Don’t get lost
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I have a terrible, TERRIBLE sense of direction. I intend to find whatever solution there is to this problem, even if I have to resort to being a guinea pig to the first human tracking chip and being manually given directions via ear piece. (Don’t even say Google maps, we DO NOT get on.) Failing that I’d like to get the word ‘Directslexia’ recognised as a real condition.

4. Don’t finish my book
Yes, you read right, I will not finish writing my book. I’ve been saying I’m going to finish it for the last year now and it still isn’t done so I’m going to try the next logical step which is saying I’m not going to finish. I can only assume that’s where I’ve been going wrong all this time and that this is sure to work. Solid logic!

5. Stop saying no (as much)
‘No’ really is my favourite word. However, I’m going travelling in three days so it’s time for a change! I can’t guarantee I’ll bungee jump or taste the worlds hottest chilli but I might at least venture as far as holding a small snake or trying a very fishy curry…

6. Do NOT drink Tequila

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Nuff said.

I’d like to point out that I did realise half way through writing this post that the term ‘resolutions’ actually includes things you intend in not doing. However, I couldn’t bring myself to throw away a half-decent blog and some perfectly good clip art!

When did I turn into an adult?

A few years ago I didn’t understand anything about being ‘grown up’. I believed I could fix absolute anything myself and there was no written contract I couldn’t get out of. I thought all foods could be microwaved and sell by dates didn’t matter (actually, I still believe that).

However, once I moved out of home into the big bad world I found myself repeatedly proved wrong. There was more than one disaster including rat infestation, blocked plumbing, fire alarms and very dodgy estate agents (I think I have an actual estate-agent-phobia now).

Somehow I seem have spontaneously turned into an adult though. Worse, recently I seem to have developed the mannerisms of someone twice my age. Here are a few examples.

1. I actually read clothes washing labels
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Clothes still fit me a month after buying them now. They also aren’t all dyed a funny pale pink colour.

2. I realise not all screws are the same
In fact, there is a vast variety of screws and you have to be a bit of an expert to get the right one.

3. I can put together a flat packed furniture
In fact, I have pieced together a desk chair so many times that I can do it with out instructions (not sure if that’s something to be proud of or not). Furthermore, I can do this in 8 minutes – yes, I timed myself.

4. I must put everything in my diary
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In fact, if I don’t put things in my diary then they don’t exist. I will forget anything and everything that hasn’t been written down. This includes doctors appointments, haircuts, days off, my own birthday, etc.

5. I have made a cleaning rota
I even enforced the cleaning rota. Despite being a teenager who had never even learned to make her own bed, things have turned around!

6. I know which phone numbers you have to pay to call
I think this mainly comes from paying your own phone bill. There really isn’t too much finesse or knowledge needed to discover this.

7. I watch really boring ‘how to’ videos
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I watched a youtube video on how to clean walls the other day. Then I reenacted it perfectly and now have spotless walls (which no one is allowed to touch).

8. I make textiles talk
My dad used to pick things up that I’d left out around the house and then he’d pretend they were speaking. They would say things like: ‘Mr. T-Shirt wishes someone would take him home to the draw’. If you haven’t done this, I urge you not to start because once you start you just can’t stop!

9. I’ve become very, very nosy
In fact, I can’t sit near a mirror in a cafe now because I will unashamedly watch absolutely everyone behind me and everything they’re doing.

10. I make complaints
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I hold grudges like I’ve never held before. Written complaints, twitter complaints, phone complaints, text complaints, I’ve done them all!

11. I can pay bills
I still can’t get my head around the fact that I’m a bill paying adult – mind blown.

Editing = Enemy

I’ve been writing a children’s book for what seems like a million years. It’s my first book, or my first attempt at a book, at least. I’m painfully close to the end but I just can’t make it through that last stretch. However, the problem is worse than story-ending-itus. I fear the issue might be the parts that I’ve already written. Yep, it’s that terrible moment when you realise your ‘masterpiece’ is actually a bit of a mess. Not enough of a mess to chuck away but not little enough to shrug it off and continue. I’m in writing purgatory! I have to face my worst enemy once again; editing.

After numerous attempts at editing in the past and finding myself in the exact same position, I’m wondering what I’m doing wrong? Clearly, I don’t have the editing knack! I’ve got editing-blinders on, edit-slexia, edit-phobio, or some other editing-based disease (of which I’m sure there are hundreds). Unfortunately, they appear to be practically incurable, so here’s a few inventions I’d like to see made before I (digitally) tear up my whole book:

1. A Personal Writing Trainer
They’ll push me to bench press 50k (words), do all my (story) plan-ups and practice on the plot-trainer. I’ll be novel fit in no time and racing my way to the finish page. (You may have guessed I take my creative stress out with word play and puns…)

2. A Thoughts Jar
Although it doesn’t sound it, this is a highly technical gadget. It just saves your useful thoughts as you think them, helpfully downloads them onto your laptop/notepad and maybe even subtitles them or groups them into sections. Of course, there would be some worries about having your intimate thoughts flying freely through digital world (which I don’t really understand and am a little scared of) but it’d be worth missing those don’t-have-a-pen-to-write-down-my-amazing-idea moments.

3. Reader’s Glasses
‘This is already a thing!’ you may say. But, no no, what I mean is; glasses to see your book from the reader’s perspective. Some of it may be a little heartbreaking at first but I desperately want to know what reader’s would think too!

4. Real Critics
So, obviously these do exist but the are in short supply. As much as I adore my kind loved-ones praising my work, I also wish I could get a nice blunt, honest answer with a couple of suggestions and a pinch of opinion. However, both hopeful writers and the poor designated reader’s of the writers know how very difficult it is to get this right.

5. A Plot Tuner
You know how guitars have electric tuners? If not, you pop this little diggery on the top of your guitar, twang away and it will give you a positive ‘ding’ when you hit the right pitch. I would like that for my story planning but rather than panning between C and F# it would go through ‘delete the whole chapter’, ‘perfect – very Austen’ and ‘probably a bit OTT’.

6. A Deadline
Again, as you know, these exist. However, more than ever I just want a real deadline, a nagging teacher telling me to get to the next page and some kind of event or date to aim for. It sounds so simple but to really persuade yourself of the urgency of the deadline and stick to it can be near impossible.

7. A Time Machine
I know it’s a bit of a cliche but I have good reason for it, I promise! I’d like to pop back a few years and give ‘child me’ my first draft and see what she thinks. I’ve considered giving my book to an actual modern day child but… kids are mean!
I would probably also use the machine to check in with future me to see if all the hard work is worth it!

10 Pieces of My Christmas Day

1. I woke up feeling a little worse for wear. It’s safe to say I did not get a hangover cure for Christmas.

2. Henry the Hoover got involved with the festivities, I found him in my bed covered in tinsle. (A prank I still don’t understand but glad it was made sparkly!)

3. Dinner time entertainment included hearing a new violin being tuned… for a long time.

4. My boyfriend got me actual, brilliant PRACTICAL presents, though they did include sick bags for travelling.

5. All worn Christmas jumpers had flashing lights – hello 21st century!

6. The Christmas pud actually managed to set on fire, twice – just to show off.

7. Social and political discussions were had, obviously.

8. We listened to the O.C Christmukkah C.D at least 3 times in a row.

9. There were presents for all, including the pet chickens who got fancy leftovers and tasty treats.

10. We watched an outrageously un-Christmassy film and didn’t even feel guilty about it! (Mainly because we’ve watched every other Xmas film before hand.)

Let’s All Quit Our Jobs!

Please. It would make me feel better about quitting mine.

Quitting your job to pursue your dream is a very brave thing to do. It is also a very stupid thing to do, logically speaking. In a ‘job job’ (a regular 9-to-5-er, sit-at-your-desk-all-day-er, input-data-for-no-reason-er, regular-salary-er) you’ve got security, a title, a boss and money. You feel safe. However, you hate every living, breathing moment of the day.
In a ‘creative career’ (following-your-hearts-desire-er, turning-every-emotion-into-a-small-art-work-er, having-your-own-studio-er) you’ve got a ‘calling’, a dream in action, a purpose and a destiny! You feel like you’re really existing! However, you still hate every moment of the day because you haven’t ‘made it’ yet and all your family think your having a mid-life-crisis, no matter how old you are.

I can’t say whether quitting is a good idea for everyone but here’s a few things I’ve discovered from quitting my ‘job job’ to have a crack at my ‘creative career’.

CONS

1. It’s not like it is in films
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In the movies you see the down-trodden star storm into their bosses office, shout at them dramatically and leave with their head held high and music playing to their exact cheery footsteps.
You don’t see them typing their official written notice, the month you have to stay and get asked a million times why your leaving, all the ‘loose ends’ you need to tie up and the phone calls you will receive after you’ve even left.

2. Not everyone thinks it’s a good idea
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Save calling Mr and Mrs Negative (they know who they are) until a day your feeling super confident about your decision.
Now is not the time to hear that you’ve made a huge mistake. And be assured, people will say it whether you asked or not!

3. Your savings won’t last forever
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That comfortable cushion of neat, untouched, electronic money now has to actually be spent.
It had always been your safety net but now, with no money coming in and plenty going out, that tidy sum begins to dwindle.

PRO’S

1. You can give yourself a new job title!
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Go for it! No one can prove you wrong! You’re the boss now and you hand out all the job titles (whether or not you only have one employee, of yourself).
You get to start saying ‘I AM A WRITER/SINGER/ARTIST/TIGHT-ROPE-WALKER!’
Re-invent yourself! If you don’t believe it, no one else will.

2. You don’t have to feel guilty abut enjoying yourself!
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So maybe most famous creatives had difficult, painful existences. Maybe most of them chopped off body parts and had heart-breaking life-stories. This doesn’t necessarily you need to wallow in self-pity and deprivation to create anything meaningful though. A good day can give you just as much inspiration as a bad day.

3. You get to be creative whenever you want
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So it might be near impossible now that you’ve got all that time you so desperately wanted but once in a while I write something I’m really proud of. It’s worth the endless of hours of struggling, procrastinating and binge-eating!