Monday, 11 May 2015

The end is in sight - an OU update




Hi folks! Now the mad frenzy which is the A-Z Challenge is over, it's time to try and get back to something resembling normality.

My Open University studies have been continuing in earnest, but I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. We're one week away from the deadline for the final assignment, and I feel I'm in that exam delirium where you're frantically trying to cram as much revision into your brain as you can, and as a consequence I'm in a constant out of body experience. It's fun, but only for a short time.

There is no exam for this course though, just a 4000 word short story to be sent alongside a commentary on how we feel the whole thing has gone. My story has been taking shape nicely, but it has been a hurdle to get to the 4000 word mark. I've never completed anything this long before, but its actually quite exhilarating. I'm excited at how I've been focused to push myself, to write things I didn't even know I had in me.

I've really enjoyed writing this story, and I'm keen to submit it somewhere after my studies are done. I may as well, right, after putting all this effort in. It's been up and down, I've lost faith in where the story was going, only to be drawn back into it after working through the kinks. It's been a huge reminder of why I Iike writing so much, and why I got into it in the first place.

I just need to get over this final stretch with my editing cap on, and then I can enjoy the summer sunshine until I start all over again in October.


Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Note to self: Must be a better blogger - an A-Z Challenge Reflections/IWSG post




I realise I'm kind of cheating here, but I'm rolling my IWSG and A-Z Challenge Reflection posts all up into one little message. They fit into the same bracket at least, and it kind of saves some time and space.

The A-Z Challenge was a spur of the moment thing for me, having decided against it this year. It was less than a week before it started that my theme idea came to me along with the post titles. I managed to keep up (mostly) with the occasional double-posting, and I was only a day late with some of them.

It didn't seem to be as hard to keep going as I imagined it would, which to me suggests that I do still enjoy this blogging malarkey, and the month went by quicker than anticipated. It came at a time when I was teetering on the edge of giving up, but now it's boosted my confidence enough to keep it going.

The one area where I failed massively was in keeping up with replying to comments, and visiting other blogs. This is something I've struggled with a lot in the past, never seeming to have the time to sit and read through other peoples stuff and to comment. 

I know this is such a huge part of the blogging community, and I certainly don't expect people to comment here if I'm not returning the compliment. I have huge thanks for those few who did comment on my Challenge posts, I think I didn't do too badly at replying to your comments and it's on my to-do list to check out all of your posts for the Challenge too.

This is going to be the lesson I take away from this Challenge, and I'm hoping to improve my blogging etiquette and hopefully make some more friends in the process.

Thank you for listening!

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If you want to check out more people reflecting on their A-Z journey, you can find them on the link-up list here.

If you want to find out more about the Insecure Writers Support Group, they have an excellent web page here with everything you could ever need in this crazy game.



Thursday, 30 April 2015

Zap your way through writers block! #AtoZChallenge

This post is part of the A-Z Blogging Challenge 2015. If this is something new to you, check out the website here to find out all you need to know.

My topics this year are covering studying and/or writing advice and guidance, to maybe help you as you cope with everything else in life.

 

Zap your way through writers block!

Writers block is the bane of a writers, or students, life. It's been trying to creep its way in every day of this challenge, blocking the flow of what I want to say.

A deadline helps with this, I find. That pressure of missing it, of failing to deliver, is enough to give me the push to get something down. I cope less well with it if I know I have all the time in the world to do something. 

The best way to deal with this block, as we all know, is to just write something. Anything, just to get the mind going, the fingers going, and words appearing on the page. It doesn't matter if it's complete drivel, it's done it's job if you can then get into the flow of something more meaningful.

I feel victorious that I've managed to get all the way through the month, battling against this pesky nuisance that always seems bent on keeping as many creative voices from expressing themselves.

Don't let the block get the better of you, battle through and strike it down!

 

You're not alone #AtoZChallenge

This post is part of the A-Z Blogging Challenge 2015. If this is something new to you, check out the website here to find out all you need to know.

My topics this year are covering studying and/or writing advice and guidance, to maybe help you as you cope with everything else in life.

 

You're not alone

I'd like to reinforce a point I made in a previous A-Z post, about joining the community. We're at the very end of the Challenge now, and I'm amazed and ecstatic that I've made it this far. And a lot of that is down to all of you guys.

There is a huge list of participants this year, as well as everyone signed up to the Insecure Writers Support Group. With these kinds of numbers fighting in our corner, going through the same things we are, how could we ever feel like we are alone.

Because we're really not alone, and there is always someone on hand with those words of encouragement that at times can be so desperately needed. So next time you feel alone, head on over to one list or the other and get yourself a little pick me up. Believe me, it'll do you the world of good.


 

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

X marks the spot, or at least your final goal #AtoZChallenge

This post is part of the A-Z Blogging Challenge 2015. If this is something new to you, check out the website here to find out all you need to know.

My topics this year are covering studying and/or writing advice and guidance, to maybe help you as you cope with everything else in life.


 

X marks the spot, or at least your final goal

I know I've said in a previous A-Z post about keeping yourself grounded and not dwelling too much on your ultimate dreams and desires. I still believe that you shouldn't linger too long on this, but it still helps to have some kind of final goal to be working towards.

For most people, goals are good, they help focus and drive you towards that final place. We need to make sure our goals are realistic and manageable though. 

One of the best ways to move forward can be to spend some time analysing what you have to get done in your regular week. By doing this you can see how much time you have spare and how much of that time can be spent on your projects.

I like to work backwards from the end point, which is usually a competition deadline or assignment submission date. I see how much time I have between the now and the then, and break the workload up into small, easy to digest chunks. This may seem a slow way to go at the beginning, but once you start ticking off those sessions the word count soon adds up, and that final end point gets closer and closer.



 

Monday, 27 April 2015

Why are you doing it? #AtoZChallenge

This post is part of the A-Z Blogging Challenge 2015. If this is something new to you, check out the website here to find out all you need to know.

My topics this year are covering studying and/or writing advice and guidance, to maybe help you as you cope with everything else in life.

 

Why are you doing it?

This post is very much linked to my post for V, Value what you're doing. If you can honestly answer the question 'Why are you writing/studying?', without hesitation, then you are probably on the right track doing what you're doing.

It's something of a myth amongst non-writers that writing a novel or a bunch of short stories is a guaranteed way to make some money. All of us actual writers spend a lot of time guffawing on the inside at such outrageous optimism. Alright, this may happen to a select few writers who make it really big really quick, and often with sub-standard material. Then, why can't the rest of us?

The truth is, it takes such a long time to produce good quality work that an author can be proud of, that money making is usually not the primary reason for doing it. Personally, writing is a cheap form of therapy, an escape from the real world into one where I'm in control (mwahahahaha!). But seriously, my main reason for doing writing and studying is my own enjoyment, crafting something from my own imagination and seeing where the characters lead themselves. Or reading something and understanding aspects of it that I'd never even considered before. 

Sure, I send things off to competitions, and one day I hope to send something larger off to be considered, but the main reason for doing this is to see if I'm really good enough to get out there. That in itself would be a huge achievement for me.

I've let a few people read my stories and the feedback is mostly good. More than one person has asked when I'm sending my next piece, and I'm chuffed that they actually look forward to reading it.  They like what I'm writing. And if I can make someone happy by giving them something enjoyable to read, then I know I've been doing it for the right reasons.

 

Value what you're doing #AtoZChallenge

This post is part of the A-Z Blogging Challenge 2015. If this is something new to you, check out the website here to find out all you need to know.

My topics this year are covering studying and/or writing advice and guidance, to maybe help you as you cope with everything else in life.


 

Value what you're doing

If you have little or no interest in what you're doing, the chances are what you produce isn't going to be of particularly good quality. When your heart isn't in it, whatever the task, you aren't bothered about what the results will be.

That's why it's so important to have value in what you're doing, to know that you really want it, and that it's what you're supposed to be doing. The reasons for doing it don't wholly matter, and I'll be talking about that for W. What matters is that it feels worth it to you, and that in itself makes it a worthy pursuit.

I love writing, and it's taken a good few years to come to this conclusion. When I'm writing it provides an escape, and my mind feels at peace. This is something that I've long sought for and believed it to be impossible, but now I've found what can bring me to that mindset I need to pursue it as much and as often as I can.

Studying has the same effect. When I began distance learning it was to further my career, but now I do it for the pleasure. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if I carried on learning some subject or other for a good portion of the rest of my life.

It doesn't matter what the value is to you, but it's important that some value is there, otherwise you'd need to question if it's really something you want to be doing. Once you establish that value, then there are no limits for how far you can go with it.