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Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Live Life In The Present Tense: Why Ambition Can Be Negative

As a writer I am a naturally driven and ambitious person. I constantly seek out each day ways in which I can improve myself, my life and my craft. I have lists of goals as long as my arms and I often find myself thinking if only I could achieve more than my life would be better.

But I have read several blog posts over the past month that stress having this particular thought pattern isn't always good for us.

People can waste hours each day thinking about things that are sometimes unachievable. How many times how you thought that by winning the lottery your life would be so much better? Of course I am sure it would be in many ways but realistically - how are you going to achieve something like that?

Having goals and ambitions is great so long as you keep a sense of realism and perspective about them. If you lack the last two things your goals and ambitions are likely to become something negative. If you always think about the future and what your life would be like if you had the things you wanted, you are actually missing out on life's present tense and what you have to do now in order to achieve these goals.

I once had a friend who was exactly like this. He was always thinking that his life would be better if it was easier to find jobs that the current recession has stolen. He was unemployed but instead of actively seeking out ways to resolve this he would blame anyone he possibly could for his current issues. In the end I concluded the man was a lost cause because he failed to see that the only person who could do something about his life was himself. No matter how hard you tried to help him there was always an excuse for why he hadn't followed anything up.

So, whatever your ambitions are in life make sure you're doing everything you possibly can in life's present tense to achieve them.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

How Reality Differs So Much From Fantasy

As a writer I have written two non fiction books and now I am over 14,000 words into my third book.
But although I have written before, I find writing my third book to be very different indeed and that's because my current WIP is fiction.

When writing my travel memoir books I recalled vivid memories to help me tell the stories. And although I had copious amounts of diary notes to help me with bits I couldn't remember, I still wrote my best material from memory.

But now writing is not the same as it was before. Now I have absolutely no memories to recall and I find that if I want to write I have to make entire scenes up which is more than an obvious thing to do when writing fiction. But I find writing takes me so much longer these days as half the time is spent thinking up the next scene. Even though I have written a detailed chapter outline I still find my writing takes on a life of it's own.

And that is where my inspiration came from when I thought about writing my current blog post.

Don't you find that fantasy is so much different to reality? You have enthusiasm for your new job only to find out your job role isn't what was advertised. You start a new relationship that's full of hope and promise only to find that somewhere down the line your beloved isn't the person you thought they were. You buy a house that looks stunning from the outside only to find it crumbling on the inside.

But sometimes the cruel reality works in your favour. Your rose tinted glasses have been yanked away from you but then you're forced to look at life in a different light. How can you get out of the job that was falsely advertised, how can you end the relationship your heart is no longer in? How can you fix your house?

As you're forced to view things differently you're forced to come up with different ideas.

Sometimes life has a funny way of making you appreciate the things you already have by showing you your perceived fantasy is actually worse than reality.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Does Keeping A Journal Make You A Better Writer?

I've always kept a journal, or a diary, as I prefer to call it. Especially when I was growing up I couldn't wait to transfer my emotions onto the four lined section I had for that day. Telling my diary just what fun, exciting times I had during my teenage years. Writing how much I loved my life on every single page. That's a complete lie by the way - growing up I hated pretty much everything about life.

But I always found that writing down my feelings helped me a great deal to process them and to put my emotions into some kind of logical order. I had a better insight to why I felt how I felt, instead of just trying to work out the thoughts in my head. 

It's no wonder I felt better because countless pieces of research have proven that writing down your problems does actually help you to solve them. Your brain can see the physical evidence through your writing that there's a difficulty which needs to be solved and it quickly goes about finding potential solutions to the problem.

I had a huge diary when I was travelling. I went out and bought a A4 one to keep a record of my experiences throughout the year. And I wrote in it every day, something which most of my fellow travellers could not understand.

But I am so glad I did because it was these diaries that gave me the inspiration to write my first two books. I wouldn't have had this inspiration if it wasn't for them.

So the pivotal question of this blog is does keeping a diary make you a better writer?

I believe it does, even if you're writing pure fiction books. You don't have to write memoirs for it to be helpful. Keeping a diary helps you process your thoughts, condensing them into succinct notes. It forces you to cut the bull and focus on the main points. And this tool is invaluable to all writers. When you're faced with writing out plotlines I believe if you're used to keeping a diary you'll find the process easier.

So, what about you? Do you keep a regular diary of day to day life? Do you find it helps when you're writing?

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Why Having Goals Can Sometimes Be Negative

I thought I would have this topic as my first blog post of 2013 because it's so fitting. Across the globe people have spent the past week thinking about their goals for the year and what they can do to achieve them. They may write them down in a list or just have them floating around in their head. They may talk constantly of them or speak a word to no one.

Having a goal to focus on is great but sometimes the goal itself can get in the way of actually achieving it. You may become obsessed about what it is you want to achieve and over analyse it. Your goal is so big that you waste all your energy just solely thinking about it. Your thoughts are like a washing machine full of socks, turning around in your head over and over again.

You stop achieving your dreams because you think about them too much.

What a waste of emotion!

Here's a classic example of what I mean by this.

While I'm writing, I'm obsessed with my word count. It affects me so much that I spend more time counting words than I do actually writing them. Keeping track of my word count significantly slows down my writing instead of speeding it up. You may think I'm encouraged if I effortlessly type out eight hundred words in an hour but I've always got one eye on my word count.

Instead I have found that I work much better under a time limit. Having goals is one thing but make sure you give yourself ample time to reach them.