Just put pen to paper and see what happens!

Sometimes, you might feel like you don’t have it in you to be creative. But if you don’t bother showing up to the keyboard / notepad, then how do you know for certain?

This morning, one sentence fell into my head and I immediately began to analyse it. Deeming it to be rubbish, I ignored it for a few minutes, but it kept on floating around my mind, so I decided to jot it down as a meagre starting point for later.

However, as I wrote it down, something amazing happened. What I wrote immediately transformed into something better and I channeled down more words with great ease. That is the true alchemy and wonder of creating! Often it takes just one little nudge to start an avalanche.

So if you’re struggling to be creative, then don’t lose heart, for the slightest little thing could ignite you again. Be open to anything that motivates you, especially those thoughts that are inspired. Just go with your intuition, put pen to paper, and see what happens!

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Utilise Every Spare Minute!

Do you have a long commute to work? An hour of peace once the kids have gone to bed? A lunch break perhaps? No matter how busy you are, you can always find time for what you love.

As J.K. Rowling said, you’ve got to fiercely defend your writing time and that’s exactly what I’ve been doing lately. Even if you just snatch a minute here and there, making notes on your phone or scribbling in a notepad, you will make progress before you know it! Every word adds up and if you stick at it, you will reach the finish line eventually! This way of thinking applies to any hobby or passion.

Many people despair about not having enough time to do what they love. Until recently, I have been skimping dramatically on my writing time. In fact, I wasn’t even showing up at the keyboard, so how on earth could I expect anything to happen? You’ve got to open up the space for your creativity to flourish.

Keep on creating, folks! Even if you’re going at a snail’s pace, each little bit of progress is better than none. This week, I’ve been taking my phone into work with me, typing away on my commute and whenever I have a spare moment, my imagination bubbling in the background, living and breathing once more.

Keep on pushing forward, enjoy the journey and have good fun with it. And don’t forget to have well-earned pit-stops along the way! If you whip your horse too hard, it will collapse with exhaustion, so go at a pace that is comfortable for you. “Without haste, but without rest,” Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe said.

Good luck, fellow creators!

Ideas That Refuse To Go Away

This week, when sorting through my writing notes, I made a very interesting discovery. In one of my journals, I found the initial seed of the idea for my first book, written two years before my supposed eureka moment!

Amazingly, this piece of paper had been completely forgotten about, yet the idea stayed in my subconscious and resurfaced two years later, as if for the first time! While the initial seed differed slightly from what I thought was the initial seed, it was the same idea in essence.

What I’ve learned from this is that some ideas are very persistent and will stay with you throughout your life, begging to be brought into the world. They may lie dormant for a time, but they always find a way to return to you. This is reassuring for a writer like myself who clings on to his notes for fear of losing his ideas – clearly such written prompts are not needed, nor are they re-visited much once written. Of course, I’m not saying you shouldn’t keep notes, as you just don’t know what notes might spark your imagination, but I’m merely pointing out how persistent our ideas can be.

Throughout your life, you may have many ideas, some great and some not so great. What I recommend is focusing on the ideas that really sing to your heart. Don’t give a hoot what others might think. If you’re going to express yourself, then it should be something that appeals to you.

You are the judge. You are the gatekeeper of your ideas, who gets to decide which ones are worthy and which are not. But how do you choose what should take priority? Oh, that’s easy! I think you already know deep down which ideas are special. They are the ideas that refuse to go away.

 

 

Finding Your Creative Voice

In recent months, my thinking has been very scattered and I’ve been allowing myself to get wrapped up in all kinds of things that aren’t really that important. This has worn me down, spread me thin, left no space for my creativity to emerge. Indeed, my creative voice has been submerged beneath an ocean of miscellaneous crap, completely drowned out and distorted.

Nurturing your creative voice is so important for an artist. Without it, you feel as though your wings have been clipped. No matter how hard you try, you just cannot take flight for long. This can be very frustrating, especially when you have a story to tell or something to express, but the only thing you can do is work through this challenging period.

My biggest problem is that I don’t devote enough time to my writing. Instead, my energies are channeled into mundane things and not being spent on my one true passion. At the moment, though, I am going through a massive de-cluttering – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually – and I am finding that as I peel away the layers of dead-weight, I am rediscovering what my priorities are.

As all the crap is being banished from my life, I have been able to devote more time and energy to the things that I love. Already, I have noticed that my mind is clearer and more focused, less concerned with silly trivial things (such as what my work colleagues think about me). I still have some way to go, but hopefully once I am fully unburdened, my creative energies will be able to spring forth unhindered.

Do You Hate Self-Promotion? Read This Amazing Book To Change That!

Before I read Show Your Work!, I used to think of self-promotion as something that was dirty and unwholesome. I was afraid of annoying people with too many updates and thought that I might come across as indulgent or arrogant if I posted too much about what I did.

But this guidebook was written for “people who hate the very idea of self-promotion”. Reading it has dramatically changed my perception and I now view self-promotion as simply sharing what you do – thinking of it in this way makes it seem less unsavoury somehow! In fact, sharing what you do – with regards to your work, thoughts and ideas – is really just being transparent about who you are as a person.

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While reading Show Your Work!, I made key notes that I will definitely refer back to in the future. If you are someone who struggles to self-promote or have trouble speaking about what you do, then I highly advise you to check out this book. It is packed full of practical advice and really does help to shift your perception. The main lessons I learned from it are as follows:

  1. Share something small every day, whether it be something that inspired you or an idea that you had. Anything from your creative process that might be insightful or interesting to others.
  2. Document everything that you do. Take photos, keep a work journal etc, so that you have a wellspring of material to draw upon when blogging or posting updates.
  3. Focus on your work and get good at what you do. Don’t waste your time and energy trying to gain followers or network. People will come to you if you are good at your craft.
  4. Don’t hoard your ideas. Post about what you’ve learned and help your fellow creatives, encouraging support and collaboration.
  5. How to deal with the dreaded question: “So what do you do?”
  6. Appreciate your guilty pleasures (i.e. that TV show that everyone else thinks is lame) because maybe it will lead to something that inspires/influences your work.
  7. The vampire test. If something drains your energy, cast it out of your life. Keep the things that boost your energy.

There are so many other things that I learned too. There was also a lot that I already knew deep down, but I just needed some reassurance and encouragement. It is precisely the book that I needed to read and I am enjoying incorporating its methods and techniques into my life. Thank you, Austin Kleon, for a fantastic guidebook!

If you wish to check it out further, then click here: http://austinkleon.com/show-your-work/

 

Don’t Lose Your Magic!

I recently watched Joy, the film about the inventor of the miracle mop, which was very inspiring indeed. All such success stories serve to demonstrate that you should always persevere and never give up, for the realisation of your goals cannot happen without constant drive.

What really grabbed me about Joy’s story is that her creativity was suppressed for seventeen years, crushed and stifled by all the commitments and other things going on in her life. I can relate to this creative hibernation because I did not write for many years, but my creativity kept finding other ways to express itself, until I eventually plucked up the courage to write my first proper book.

At the beginning of the film, you get to see how bright and creative Joy was as a child. Indeed, most children are born with such fearless wonder and playfulness, but a lot of us lose this magic as we enter adulthood. It is tragic when someone’s spirit is crushed by the real world, as this person cannot shine as brightly as they would like, nor be who they want to be.

But it is never too late to change things! Joy tapped back into her creative reserves after seventeen years and overcame great odds to achieve her dreams.

Watching this film made me think… if Joy could overcome such adversity, then so can I – and so can you!

For as long as you breathe, you have the opportunity to turn things around. Don’t let your spirit get crushed by life. Don’t lose the magic!

The Fragility of Life

The other day, a car drove past me and one of its tires unexpectedly blew out. The disgruntled driver slowly pulled over and sat there in astonishment.

This incident reminded me of the fragility of life. You can be cruising along quite happily until something unexpected comes along and knocks the wind out of your sails. Indeed, the opposite can happen where you’re just muddling along and a great gust of wind lifts your spirits and elevates you to new heights.

Nothing in life is certain and things are forever in a state of flux. Nothing remains static, so we must embrace change and dance with the flow of life, otherwise we will suffer.

Many people suffer because they resist change or cannot let go of the thing that punctured their tire. But every time that something knocks us off the road, we must make repairs and get back into motion, otherwise we will rust and decay and end up on the scrapheap.

Life is fragile and unpredictable, but this should not discourage us. Each of us are on a special journey, with pitfalls and delights that lie ahead, obscured by the landscape of time, but that is what’s truly exciting in my opinion.

Wherever your road leads, no matter what obstacles you face, keep on chugging along and don’t forget to appreciate the view.

The True Spirit of Christmas

Last year, when I was at a low point in my life, Christmas was a candle in the darkness.

It evoked warm and cosy feelings that helped to lift my spirits and played and important part in my recovery, so I will always be grateful for that. This year, I am in a much better place, but I find myself turning to Christmas once again and have allowed it to nourish my soul.

Unfortunately, Christmas can be a very stressful time for a lot of people, thanks to all the financial pressure and commercialism that has hijacked the holiday. And also, it can be a rather rubbish holiday for those who have nobody to share it with.

But I find that there is great joy and wisdom to be garnered from the festive period. In fact, it can be a very spiritual time of year if you can tap into the true spirit of Christmas (the notions of generosity, sharing, goodwill etc). Imagine how horrible these cold, dark winter nights would be without the flashing lights, mulled wine and heart-warming Christmas carols. Surely anything that brings merriment and joy is a good thing, right?

Sadly, as I’m getting older, I do feel that some of the magic is fading (after all, I’m not a kid anymore). I have to be more proactive now if I am to get into the festive mood and there has seemed to be a noticeable lack of Christmas spirit in the air. For example, my mum usually comes alive at this time of year, but she now claims that “Christmas isn’t the same any more”.

My response to that is this: a day is what you make it. If you want something to be special, you’ve got to make it so. The reason I like Christmas so much is because it promotes values that should be prevalent EVERY DAY.

Why is it that generosity, sharing, goodwill and merriment are reserved only for Christmas? Why are these values not instilled in our culture ALL YEAR AROUND? Why is it that our planet is plagued by fear and destruction?

In 2016, I urge you to take the spirit of Christmas forward. Don’t leave it behind on Boxing Day. Don’t let the magic die. The world can be a better place if we choose to make it so. But this can only be achieved if we all stand together and unite.

 

 

Writing Fever

Once again, I have been bitten by the writing bug!

When you are in this state, you are constantly daydreaming about your story and itching to write the next part, and then the part after that, unable to rest until it is finished. It is a fever that can only be cured by spilling words onto the page. And even when I complete a book, it is never long before I yearn to write another!

Some people call it the writer’s curse, but I think that it’s a blessing. A lot of people struggle for their art (i.e. some writers need to be drunk or heartbroken or swinging upside-down), yet I can usually sit and write with minimal effort. Of course, insatiable writing fever makes it so much easier to get into the zone, but there are times when this fever dwindles, especially if you are writing for many months.

With my first book, which took eight months to write, the fever came in peaks and troughs. There were times when I was very productive and other times when I barely made any progress at all. But I was patient and I kept on going, one word at a time, putting one foot in front of the other until I reached the finish line. Whenever the fever came, I took full advantage and went along with it, allowing it to spur me onward like wind blowing into a ship’s sails.

Some days, I only have to sit down at my desk before I get lost in a trance and sucked into the story. But even when I’m not being productive, the story is always at the back of my mind, urging me to carry on. The main blocks for me come in the form of self-doubt and fears that my work isn’t good enough, but these concerns are usually bypassed by writing fever, which makes writing a matter of utmost urgency!

Blessed are the days where writing is as easy as breathing. Not so blessed are the days where writing is like chopping through a dense jungle with a bread knife! But we must make do with what we’ve got in any particular moment and we cannot always wait for the wind.

Finding a way to pay the bills (without destroying your soul)

Writing is my biggest passion, but I have more to give than just my writing.

Several months ago, I had a particularly rubbish day at work and decided to reassess things. Getting published was proving to be difficult and I didn’t want to be stuck in dead-end jobs for the rest of my life, so I decided that I needed a Plan B – something to fall back on in case my writing career never took off.

After doing a personality test online, it was brought to my attention that counselling would be a suitable profession for me. Funnily enough, it was something that had crossed my mind in the past, but I’d never really looked into it. So I’ve started training and it’s going to take a few years to become fully qualified, but hopefully I will have a day job that I enjoy at the end of it.

Only a handful of very lucky people get to make substantial money from their passions. I am now resigned to the likelihood that my work may never get picked up by a literary agent or publishing house, but that doesn’t mean I’ll stop writing. I write because I enjoy doing so, but I also have bills to pay, so I’m pursuing a career that utilises some of my other talents (and doesn’t destroy my soul).

Whatever you want to do in life, then go for it. As long as you’re not hurting anyone, then people should support you in your endeavours (and to hell with them if they don’t). Sometimes though, it won’t always be possible to turn your dream into a reality, so you may have to find ways of compromising (i.e. working in a restaurant during the day and acting on stage at night). Do whatever it takes to carry on doing what you love.

Good luck, my friends!