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Monday, 28 February 2011

My New Reward System

In our society we are always aiming higher, aiming for the prize.  Most of the time we don't know what 'the prize' is, and when we do we rarely want it - but we want it anyway.  Being told something is a reward makes us strive for it and suddenly we find we want that football that they offer us if we win something in school; that voucher we will receive if we spend over a certain amount of money on things we had no plan on buying. You get my drift, basically it seems that we are wired to want, want, want (or at least society has conditioned us to want, want, want).

In the past I've tried using this theory to motivate myself to write.  Because, even when I want to write, actually sitting down and typing seems such a chore.  So I'd promise myself I could have some chocolate if I wrote over a certain number of words.  And the words would sometimes come and sometimes I felt that the chocolate wasn't worth the pain of sitting at my laptop striving for the right words.

Yesterday I had a theory.  Instead of rewarding myself for writing, why not turn the writing itself into the reward?  This really isn't as complicated as it sounds.  Find a game that you enjoy, preferably one that is timed as this will stop you from spending all your time playing and not writing.  I used Bejeweled Blitz on Facebook - I can only play for one minute and then I get my score.  Every time I scored over 100,000 (if you don't play, trust me, it's not hard to get this score) I rewarded myself by writing a few more paragraphs of my WIP.  Make sure you set a target that you know you will probably pass a majority of the time as, once again, you actually do want to do the writing.

The benefits of this system surprised me.  By having to play a game each time I got stuck, I found that I was itching to get back to my writing most of the time - it became something I wanted to do, not something I had to do.  And even when I didn't really want to write, I found that I went back to my WIP each time I scored high enough anyway.  Because I had promised myself I would have this reward of writing and come hell and fire, I was going to take it.  It is what I was saying at the beginning - we are wired that if something is offered as a reward, we suddenly want it.

I hope this helps motivate you to write (or whatever else you need to motivate yourself to do).  Do you have any tips and tricks to share to get you writing?

Saturday, 26 February 2011

I'm Cookie Dough

Fans of the show Buffy the Vampire Slayer will probably recognize this phrase: "I'm cookie dough." from series 7.  Basically Buffy is explaining to Angel why she can't be with him (at the current time) because: "I'm cookie dough.  I'm not done baking, I'm not finished becoming whoever it is I'm going to turn out to be."

This is how I'm feeling at the moment.  I feel like I'm slowly cooking, perhaps still in the mixing stage even. I find that there are more ingredients being added to me all the time.  I am finding new things I love, thinking new thoughts.  But everything that has come before it is also included in the mix of ingredients that is me.

I don't know if I'll ever be done baking - I doubt it.  But I am enjoying who I am now and enjoying finding ingredients to add.  There is nothing better than discovering that perhaps I do enjoy reading an author I never would have approached (Anthony Horowitz if you're interested), or trying a new genre of writing and finding that I don't completely suck at it.

So I am cookie dough.  But I'm focusing on enjoying the process of being made rather than the end product.  After all, I don't bake to eat the cake (though it is usually delicious), but because I like baking.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

A Commenting Problem

I have been having a problem with blogger recently.  I love reading blogs and sometimes I do even want to comment on them.  But lately I just...can't.  It's not that I don't want to comment.  It's that blogger doesn't want me to comment.

To begin with I thought it was a glitch, but that was two months ago.  And now I can sometimes comment.  But usually if I actually want to join in the conversation it appears I'm not allowed. 

Is anyone else having this problem?  Any ideas on how to fix it as I know how precious your comments are to me, and I dont like not commenting due to technology being a pain the arse.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Losing the Self

This is a continuation of yesterday's post about playing at life.  Last night I was thinking about it and realised that it's more than just acting out my life.  I am acting out different parts: the student, the daughter, the girlfriend, the ill girl, the friend, the sister, the stranger, the crafter, the writer.  The list goes on.  And I think I've figured out my problem.

I don't know where the roles I play stop being roles and start being who I am, and vice versa.  I don't know who I am as a whole person.  I feel too fragmented, too split to be one person.  And that is why my life feels like a game sometimes. I am simply taking on a persona, someone who isn't me, but could be.  I no longer know whether I am acting a part or just being me.  I used to think that being many things was fine, that it was making me into a more rounded person (whatever that means).  Now I don't know.  I feel like I have lost who I am in the attempt to be many things.

What are your opinions on this?  Have you felt this way?  Do you have any ideas how I can find the 'real me' again?

Monday, 21 February 2011


Sometimes I feel as though I am playing at life.  I get up, I eat, I go online, I tidy, I shower, I write, I eat, I sleep.  And everyday I repeat.  Is it me or does life feel like a giant game.  We don't have a choice to play - we just do.  But every choice effects everything else in the game.  But, of course, it is just a game so has no point to it.

I'm sure that sounded more depressing than it was meant to.  I don't mean to say I feel there is no point to my life.  But I do often feel like I'm just acting out my life rather than living it.  And it's hard to think the little things matter when I can see the whole gameboard.  Does anyone else feel this way?  Or am I alone in my thinking?

Thursday, 17 February 2011

A Word On Perfection

The world we live in is one which strives for perfection (usually by telling us that we're not perfect aka not good enough).  We are supposed to look like super-models; we are supposed to make enough money to have everything but at the same time spend lots of time with family and loved ones; we are supposed to be the best we can be 100% of the time.  But, unless you're some kind of miracle, you are not perfect.  I am not perfect.  NO ONE is perfect.

I am writing this because a post by Laura Jane Williams made me stop and realise that by striving for perfection, we are screwing ourselves up.  We aren't getting anything done because we are worried that we can't get everything done perfectly.  If we were all perfect, we'd all be clones.  And what a boring world that would be.

So I am going to be the first (okay, probably not the first) to say that I don't want to be perfect. I want to be me - individual and strange and weird with my own little quirks.  And I hope you want to be you.  Because you're wonderful and different and special.  You are a perfect you.  And don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Why I Buy Homemade

For the past few months I have been obsessively scouring Etsy, wishing I could afford to buy things from there.  It's not that anything is excessively expensive, more that it is American and therefore I would have to pay ridiculous shipping fees.  So imagine my happiness when I finally stumbled upon the English version - Folksy.  For those of you who don't know, Etsy and Folksy are like internet markets, full of stalls filled with handmade goods; literally everything that can be made is being sold.

I am a big believer in buying handmade, especially for gifts.  There is nothing better than knowing that what you are buying is a one-off and has been made with love, care and passion.  Not only that, but it is my belief, that through supporting individuals who are attempting to make a living in this way, we can dig ourselves out of the recession.  I feel happier knowing that my money is going directly to the maker rather than being filtered down through companies and employees, the manufacturers and finally, the workers.  And I know that all my money (or, at least, a large percentage of it) is staying in our economy.  Keeping this money circulating is what will keep us, the people of the country, going and out of debt. 

Not to mention the inspiration and creativity I feel while doing my shopping! 
These are a few of my favourite shops, feel free to add your favourites in the comments:

Saffronbarr - soaps and skincare
Charming Home Makes - home additions, fabric makes
Diomo Glass - suncatchers and glass makes
Wall Envy Art - awesome artwork using quotes
Ginger's Altered Bits - jewellery, bookmarks and misc.
Zuzu's Petals - altered misc.
The Quilted Teacup - cushions, homeware
Fiona t. Embroidered Stuff - awesome covered journals

Monday, 14 February 2011

My Love Affair

As it is supposedly the most romantic day of the year I figured I'd do a post about love.  But unlike most who are spurting off their love for the partner/friends/family (not saying I don't love you all) I wanted to do something different.  Something just as important to me.

I want to tell you about my love affair with words.

I don't know when exactly it started.  When I was younger I was surrounded by books and books and more books.  We didn't have a television, and I think, when I was very little, we didn't have a computer.  So the choices to keep ourselves occupied were quite thin - or so you'd think.  We could play with each other (bonus of a big family), we could play board games, but most of the time I chose to read.  All I can really remember of my childhood is books.  I devoured them, spending hours in my room, trying to absorb every story I could get my hands on.  I am only now beginning to come to terms with the fact that I can't possibly read everything out there (though that won't stop me doing my damn best to).

I bet you're all thinking, of course she loves to read, of course she loves books, she's a writer.  And that is true.  But the love of words and books came long before the writing.  When I was younger I wanted to be a writer, that much is true.  But I honestly don't ever remember writing anything other than my diary.  My diary was the only place I actually used words.  It didn't occur to me that to be a writer I'd actually have to write.  No, I think what led me to wanting to write was my love of reading.  I wanted to be a part of every world I read about, and my only logical conclusion was that I'd have to write books to join in.  I still haven't written a novel, though I am much closer now to be a writer than I ever was.

The thing is, I've tried other things.  For a while I thought I was into politics - needless to say that didn't last long.  I think I've been into various crafts on and off over the years.  And there was even two years that I spent in acting class.  But after every fad I'd return to my diaries, to my books.  That was the only place I was truly safe.  So that's why I know I might not become a published writer, but I will always be a reader.

So today, on the day of love, I'm declaring my love of words.  The way they can make you feel safe, scared, loved, grossed out.  But never lonely.  Because, from what I can tell of limited knowledge of love, love is about not being lonely, about having someone to share with.  I hope I'll always have real love and people to share with, but I know for a fact that I'll always have words to keep me company.  I couldn't live without words, they are what has kept me going for my whole life, and that is why I'm determined to use them to touch others.  That is, after all, what words do best.  I know they can harm and hurt just as easily, but I respect words and so hope to never use them for evil.  I hope you feel the same.

What is your relationship with words?  Have you always been a reader or do you simply use them to talk to your friends, without a second thought?

[all images from WeHeartIt]

Saturday, 12 February 2011


Today I had to run a few errands in town so decided to use the opportunity to make a change to my everyday schedule.  I was still doing the same thing - reading - but in a different environment.  I went to my local Costa and sat down with my book and drink and enjoyed relaxing in amongst the noise around me.  Although it wasn't a big change, it made me feel much better and was very motivating and invigorating.

I think a part of it was due to the feeling in the air.  The sun was shining and there was a light breeze that held the scent of the Spring to come.  I have to admit that my favourite season is Winter but there is something magical about Spring and the promise it brings of new beginnings.  I am planning on making the most of this feeling that seems to be filling me up right now and am looking forward to enjoying the changes it brings.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Review: Paranormalcy

Click to purchase
I have to admit I wasn't sure if I would enjoy this book as it's a genre I don't read (YA fantasy) and I generally stay away from anything with Vampires in it.  But I love love love Kiersten White's blog and as an avid reader of it I wanted to give it a go.

Now I am completely happy to tell you to GO BUY THIS BOOK.  I received this book in the post yesterday morning - I finished it last nigh.  If that is not enough to convince you then let me tell you, I haven't read a book in one day since the early Harry Potter books.  It just doesn't happen anymore - I have other things to do.  But Paranormalcy made me keep turning the pages until I'd gobbled the whole thing up.

There are no cliches and Kiersten stays well away from any over-done type situations.  Yes, there are vampires and werewolves and mermaids and faeries, but the story isn't about them.  It's about Evie, a 16 year old girl who can see through glamours and therefore it is her job to track down all these 'paranormals' and tag them for the International Paranormal Containment Agency. But the main reason I kept turning the page was the writing itself.  Readers of Kiersten's blog will recognize her unique and completely awesome voice shining through.

All I can say is I'm disappointed I'm now going to have to wait for the second and third installments of this trilogy (yet am also so thankful that Evie's story is not finished).  This is a book and an author who we should all be keeping an eye on as I'm sure there are even better things to come from her.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Chilvary Still Exists

The other day, the bus I got home was packed.  I'm not talking a few people having to sit next to strangers, I'm talking so full that the driver was stopping people from coming in at one point.  But just before we got to that point, a few elderly ladies came in.  And three (yes THREE) men stood up for them.  I don't know about you, but this is the first time I've ever actually seen anyone doing that.  And I'm relatively sure that the men were all in their twenties, so my generation.

What really worries me though, is that I was surprised and shocked to see this happening.  Is the world such a bad place that any little act of chilvary is a rare occurance?  And if not, then why was I surprised?  This leads me to think either that either the world is a crap place, or I'm a terrible person.  And I really don't like the idea of the second.  But nor do I want the first to be true.

So please, tell me your tales of any chilvary you've witnessed?  I really need you to let me know that my experience wasn't anything that out of the ordinary afterall.

Monday, 7 February 2011

The Five Stages of Baking (err, Writing)

 As I was baking the other day I realised that baking is just like writing.  So I thought I'd share with you the 5 stages of baking writing.

Stage One: The Ingredients

These are the building blocks for our story - characters, settings, themes etc.  Without these, no story will be told.  The paper cases are, of course, the structure that you're going to fill with all the ingredients. (Not to mention that I just wanted to show off the cool Mickey Mouse cases I found at Poundland.)

Stage Two: The Mixing
Okay, so I forgot to take a picture of mixing the ingredients together.  This is the first draft,when all the ingredients have been forced together into something resembling a story.

Stage Three: Editing (I can't think of a baking related name)
This is when you sort out all the problems with your story and force it into a structure to bend to your will.

Stage Four: The Baking
This is the waiting stage.  The stage where we need to move away from our writing before we can go back to it and see it objectively, before finishing it once and for all.

Stage Five: The Finished Product
And finally, we do the final tweaks and then our work is complete.  We have done all the writing and rewriting and editing that is needed to make a shiny, beautiful story.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Review: Tangled 2d

Honestly, I was a little nervous about seeing Tangled, Disney's version of Rapunzel.  I am a huge fan of fairy-tales (the nitty gritty original fairy-tales) so am always worried what will happen to them in translation.  However, I am also a fan of Disney so couldn't resist watching their latest animation (actually their 50th!).

The beginning was not good.  I am not a fan character voice-overs (the only film I've ever seen where it worked was American Beauty) so that was an immediate turn-off.  The introduction of Rapunzel was that of a women who cleans and bakes and paints and play guitar and is inevitably brilliant at everything (other than ballet).  I don't feel this is a good message to convey but thankfully it was soon forgotten. 

Yet I soon found myself gripped into the story and music and magic.  I laughed often and thoroughly enjoyed it.  The story wasn't really like the Rapunzel I remember from my childhood, and I daresay the original version will be lost after this film.  However, I felt that the story Disney created worked and I am (almost) happy to let the 'Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair, so I may climb your golden stair.' go and accept the new one that every child will soon know.

Despite my few worries - a drunk old man as a cherub and the use of a frying pan as a weapon - I believe this Rapunzel is a complete success and will keep the fairy tale alive for generations to come.