I have an inkling…

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So, I’ve tried to practice what I preach, but I somewhat failed; only somewhat though. Life happens and one must never blame oneself for what life sometimes mercilessly pummels at one. Either way, I did manage to scribble a few illegible thoughts on a payslip envelope while waiting for my yoga class to begin one late Friday afternoon. I really must remember to carry my notebook with me. The ‘stolen’ time I consciously took to make those notes, gave a half-baked inkling for a short story a bit more meat. Although I did not take another opportunity to pen ideas for said story since, I have at least spent some time milling over this next venture into fiction writing. I’m glad that I took the time I had at my disposal, albeit it sporadic and brief, to think about my next story because I feel a bit more prepared for the next Camp NaNoWriMo challenge which begins only a few days from now.

I also managed to pen the first draft of this post (and this very sentence, in fact) during my lunch break today. It was glorious, roasting in the winter sun with a notebook and pen, and a mug of chicken and mushroom instant soup. Writers should always have a mug in their immediate vicinity. If it is empty, fill it. Fill it with inspiration at the very least. But I digress…

I’ve also spent some free time thinking about and jotting down topics for blog posts. I’ve even wondered about a specific topic for this very post. Let’s just say that when I sat down to write this post today, it took a completely different direction to that which I intended. One must always allow for this to happen while writing. You may just find that you end up with something better.

The reason I’ve waited so long to write this post is because my laptop’s Internet browser zoned out. My laziness drove me to get it seen to about a week later… It did, however, give me more time to think about post topics!

To be honest, I’ve found that I have the most time to think while driving to and from work. My car radio needs mending, so I listen to music on my phone. I listen to the kind of music that makes my mind wander, which in this respect, is great. Also, I cannot write or type while driving, so it is the perfect time to think.

So, I guess that even though I did not literally write much during my ‘stolen’ moments, I did use the time to think about writing. The time taken to think helped me to develop ideas. I, for one, think it is a great start, and perhaps not such a failed attempt at practicing what I preach after all.

In the Land of No Time, Habit is king

'Girl writing in her Moleskine Diary' by Viktor Hanacek

I could blame my lack of posts over the past three months on having no time to sit down and write. I could use the same excuse for my severe lack of any creative writing over the past three months. To be honest, there was only a brief period when time was not on my side (I was editing a Masters thesis for a friend). What I really lacked was energy and enthusiasm.

Most indie writers have day jobs. Most day jobs demand more from you than you can give, which leaves you drained by the time you get to drag yourself home. After you’ve had dinner and you’re done with all your personal admin that you don’t get to do at work (fair enough), you don’t really find it appealing to sit in front of any screen except the television. While you relax on the couch, the masterpiece you’re writing remains incomplete.

So how do you use the time you really do have, wisely? How do you motivate yourself to write every day, even if you feel like that last tiny morsel of energy you have left is only enough to help you brush your teeth before you fall into bed? One word: habit.

Hear me out. I despise exercise. I believe that we were made to be able to run from danger and not for fun. However, I took up ballet classes again about three years ago, after not doing ballet for about twelve years. It was difficult at first, but I got into the habit of attending lessons every week, and felt myself growing stronger. Now, I also go to contemporary dance classes and yoga, and I can’t get enough. I feel happier, healthier and stronger.

I know that if I apply this same mindset to writing, I will hone my writing skills, feel more confident, and eventually not be able to go a day without writing.

Chris Baty, Founder of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and author of No Plot? No Problem!, also believes in habit. He states that the “chief tactic in formulating a winning battle plan for your noveling schedule is to try a variety of approaches early on, discover what works best for you, and use it relentlessly thereafter.” He also states that the “best way to approach your scheduling is with a light heart and an open mind.” Why? Because life happens. Form a good habit, but don’t beat yourself up about it if you take a day or two off. Read more of Baty’s great advice on the NaNoWriMo blog.

Richard T. Wheeler, author and avid blogger, advises us to ‘steal time’ to write. The good news is that he advises to ‘steal time’ during lunch, while waiting for appointments, or while travelling on public transport, for example – the times during which I still have energy! If I make it a habit to whip out my pen and notebook during these times, I’ve spent both my time and energy well. I need not then feel guilty if I want to relax after a hectic day at work, while watching yet another episode of MasterChef Australia (my obession, not a habit!). Read more of his Wheeler’s tips on his blog, Dauntless Writing.

So, this is my realistic plan that fits into my daily schedule: to make it a habit to write when I’m waiting for friends at coffee shops (I always arrive early), and to write for half an hour every evening after dinner. I hope to find that I end up writing for hours every day without noticing!

Once upon a time…

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My writing journey began when I was eight years old. My mom had bought me a journal as a Christmas present, in which I wrote almost every day. My first entries mostly began with the phrase, “Today was fun” until my writing skills became more sophisticated and I could spell more difficult words. I filled many more journals over the years, mostly with teenage dilemmas, followed by the new-found freedom and adventures of university, and my working-holiday in Edinburgh, Scotland.

I also grew fond of writing poetry around the age of twelve, and was praised for my creative writing abilities by English teachers. I developed my writing skills further while studying journalism and hosting creative writing workshops on behalf of the University of Pretoria’s Literary Society, The Inklings.

During my early twenties, I dabbled in freelance writing and editing until I became a part-time publishing assistant at BK Publishing. I am now the editor of a bi-monthly general interest children’s magazine, Supernova, the mag for curious kids, to which I also contribute. I also edit self-published manuscripts for the publisher.

My real passion, however, still lies in creative writing. I strive to finish the final draft of a young adults’ fantasy novel which I began in my second year of studies, but only sat down in earnest to write during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in 2013. I reached the goal of 50 000 words in 31 days, and had the first draft of a story that had gathered dust in the recesses of my mind for years.

I also strive to write more short stories, and enter as many challenges and competitions as possible to motivate me and hone my skills.

This site is dedicated to those goals. Here, you will find the struggles and the triumphs of a passionate writer. You will also find tips and motivation for your own writing along the way.

The writing process may indeed seem to be a lonely journey, but I believe that it is only lonely if you shut yourself off from the world around you. I am inviting you in to share my world. It is beyond words…