Thursday, 28 April 2016

April Reflections

How was your April? Did you manage to spot any bluebells, or go for a walk in the rain? Whatever you did with your April, I hope it’s been full of happiness and creativity. Here are a few little things to share with you this month…


‘Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,

 And thus the native hue of resolution

 Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,

 And enterprises of great pith and moment

 With this regard their currents turn awry

 And lose the name of action.’

- Hamlet, William Shakespeare

Or, in other words – overthinking is the enemy. This is so true in regards to the creative process. Often we have great, expansive ideas that we feel are safer from harm and criticism in our heads. Perhaps, we think, if we never write them they can never fall short of this ideal. But to fret over our ideas is to lose action, as Hamlet says. Make May the month you choose to be bold, brave and take action on your creative thoughts!


This month I went back into the weird and wonderful world of Muriel Spark, one of my absolute favourite writers, with The Comforters. The central character, Caroline, begins hearing the tapping of a typewriter and an authorial voice narrating her actions and innermost thoughts. This was Spark’s first novel and you can already see her unique voice developing.


This month I’ve been seeing the benefits of putting into practice the mantra of ‘don’t get it right, get it written.’ Sometimes all you can do is write what you want to say in the most basic, boring way you know. This foundation allows you to embellish and reshape later on, when you can see clearly what’s missing and what needs to be said.

Focus on…Well-being Spring Clean
I mentioned this before in my Six Ways to Enjoy Spring post. Spring is a great time to freshen up mentally. Take stock of the habits you’d like to get rid of, or habits you’d like to adopt for the better. Start the month by making a list of how you want to feel this May, and the actions you can take to achieve that feeling. If you want to feel grateful you could send someone a letter of appreciation. If you want to feel calm you could download a guided meditation.

Three things to look forward to in May

  1. ‘April showers bring May Flowers’ – stocks, freesias, peonies, snapdragons to name a few.
  2. Planning a lazy, luxury bank holiday breakfast.
  3. Making pretty, pastel fairy cakes for May Day.

How has April been for you? What are you excited for in May?

Monday, 25 April 2016

How to Find the Right Writing Space

Carving out the right space for your writing is an important part of your creative process. Think of it as finding the right habitat in order for your writing to thrive. Here are five factors to consider when choosing where to write…

Finding somewhere you feel safe, relaxed and inspired to create is not always easy. There are always distractions of some kind, so instead of aiming for the perfect spot find somewhere you can get to easily every day, somewhere relatively quiet and somewhere you feel comfortable. For example, writing in a cafĂ© might be perfect if you like the hubbub and chatter around you but might not be so ideal if you feel distracted in that environment. Writing in bed might be great if you want to write first thing in the morning or last thing at night, others might want to carve out a designated space separate to any other spaces in the home. There’s no need to always be in the same place, particularly if you are having to snatch your writing time when you can – public transport, park benches, waiting rooms are good places for making quick notes. The most important thing is finding the right frame of mind to write in – this comes with practice. By simply sitting down each day and committing to your work you’ll form a good habit and writing will become easier wherever you choose to go.

Writing is often an uncomfortable task full of frustrations and false starts. Whilst you might be put through creative strain your physical self needn’t suffer. Make sure you have a good seat that you’re happy to stay in for multiple hours. Try and walk around between intensive, creative bursts so you don’t tense up. If the thought of sitting in a chair puts you off, you could always run yourself a bath. Vladimir Nobokov and Agatha Christie are both examples of novelists who preferred rubber ducks to desks. Just don’t drown your drafts!

Visual stimulation needs to be considered. For some, the preference is absolutely nothing – they need a blank canvas to watch their own thoughts come to life on. Hemingway preferred to stare at a blank wall. For others, a view can be a point of inspiration and a way in which the work can be shaped. Think of Ted Hughes’ poem ‘The Thought Fox’ where a chance sighting of a fox at his window inspires creative action.

Having everything you need to hand. Keep notes and research nearby so you can refer to it and keep in the zone.

Once you’ve decided on the right spot, it’s time to nest. This means making the space your own, filling it with the little things that make it unique and serve you. You might choose to have good luck charms in your eyesight for reassurance, post a positive quote on your wall or have an image board for inspiration. Aislinn Hunter relates to this: ‘Looking up at my own desk now I see the same sorts of identity-solidifying things that I suppose any other writer might keep: photographs, figurines, talismans and totems that connect me to those I love and to the larger world.’ This sentimental furnishing is one way of keeping in touch with the real world when you’re deep in the depths of the world you’ve created.

Do you have a favourite writing space? Let me know in the comment section below!

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Writers on Writing

Whatever stage you’re at with your writing – whether taking the first tentative steps towards starting something or struggling with finishing a first draft - people that have done it before you can help. This selection of quotations are for you to live and write by. Pick a favourite and pin it above your writing space. Let these wise words resonate and inspire…

Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout with some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.
- George Orwell

There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.
- W. Somerset Maugham

Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind, is written large in his works.

- Virginia Woolf

A book is simply the container of an idea—like a bottle; what is inside the book is what matters.
- Angela Carter

Great is the art of beginning, but greater is the art of ending.
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.
- Sylvia Plath

A word after a word after a word is power.
- Margaret Atwood

One always has a better book in one's mind than one can manage to get onto paper.
- Michael Cunningham

Show up, show up, show up, and after a while the muse shows up, too
- Isabelle Allende

Good writing is rewriting.
- Truman Capote

Prowling about the rooms, sitting down, getting up, stirring the fire, looking out the window, teasing my hair, sitting down to write, writing nothing, writing something and tearing it up…
- Charles Dickens

The best time for planning a book is while you're doing the dishes.
- Agatha Christie

Books want to be born: I never make them. They come to me and insist on being written, and on being such and such.
- Samuel Butler

Which is your favourite of these quotes? Let me know in the comments below... 

Monday, 4 April 2016

Little Luxury: Bath Tea Bags

How could I resist these sweet little bath tea bags from Wild Olive? As well as being delightfully whimsical the bags are actually a practical way of dispersing gorgeously moisturising and delicately scented salts into your bath. You simply drop the bag into a hot bath and let the salts dissolve and work their magic. I couldn’t limit myself to one, but my favourite so far was the mint and white tea bath bag. The smell is fresh, clean and invigorating which makes a nice change from the overly sweet scents we’re used to with bath treats. The bag promises to ‘help focus and concentration’ with its enlivening minty smell - a perfect way to start a busy day.

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