The Natural Sleep Remedy

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I have recently started reading before bed, instead of watching TV or scrolling through the internet on my tablet.

I started the New Year with a string of disrupted night’s sleep with fleeting nightmares that woke me up every few hours. I knew that this was triggered by watching too many late night films and reading the news headlines before heading to bed. I decided to try and ‘switch off’ technology an hour or so before sleep and pick up a book instead.

The comfort of reading a paper copy that is bookmarked from the evening before instantly puts me at ease. I naturally slip into a meditative state and sleep comes easily after a while (depending on how exciting the book is at that point!)

It is difficult sometimes to stop yourself checking emails ‘one last time’ or scrolling through social media for the billionth time, but I feel happier and healthier after a good night’s sleep and all it takes is a few chapters of a book!

Writing and Reading Resolutions

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I only have one New Year’s resolution this year – to make sure I write and read every day. It doesn’t have to be much, just something. Even if it is just writing a sentence and reading a page!

After the time off over Christmas and New Year I feel rusty when it comes to writing and even reading.

I have spent the holidays being entertained by (and entertaining) friends and family. Pure escapism through watching films, going for walks and meals out has meant that I haven’t had a lot of time to myself. I have enjoyed the time off and the ability to put everything on hold for a while, but I have also felt a little guilty for neglecting my writing.

Now that the holidays are over, I need to get back into writing and catching up on the reading that I have collected over the past few weeks. I was given a few books as Christmas gifts and my boyfriend brought back a stack of Terry Pratchett books from his Christmas visit home that I’m looking forward to borrowing!

I find that after a break it does sometimes take a while to ‘re-train’ myself to write for any period of time. I can get easily distracted and fidgety. The thought of writing for long periods can be daunting after a few weeks off. I need to start slow and just write for ten minutes at a time, just to ease myself back into the writing process!

The Next Generation of Writers

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I remember learning to write by copying the story of ‘The Little Matchstick Girl’ word for word into my notebook. I didn’t know what each letter meant or even how they all fit together; they were just scribbles I laboriously traced over. All I can remember is that I desperately wanted to capture the tale myself, as well as the frustration of not being able to write properly.

As soon as I was able to read and write I wanted to create my own stories. I would write about the adventures of my pet cat, or write about places I wanted to visit.

I’m curious to know how children nowadays learn to write their own stories. With an overwhelming choice of films, TV, games, books and activities, where do they find the time to write? Do they find the time?

Children have an immeasurable gift of imagination and they should utilise it, before the skill is lost in the restriction of tweets, updates and texts. Unless we are able to teach the skills required in a world full of distraction, the ability to write stories may be in danger of dying out.

Be Brave

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I still find it difficult to write something that other people will read.

Writing is very personal and it’s a complicated form of expression. I have never written very openly, I was always the last person to read out my written work in class. But I need to stop seeing it as a potentially terrifying scenario.

The creative and personal nature of writing can cause doubts, as well as the fear of being scorned or judged. But writers must learn to be brave in displaying their craft and be proud of their hard work.

Writing publically, whether in a blog or a book, is a form of empowerment and a task that builds your confidence. When shared with others, writing can be a tool to connect and express yourself creatively.

I may never be completely comfortable with sharing my work, but I can learn to be braver when I write.

Write Yourself Happy

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I find it hard to write when I feel down and low. I lack the energy and the motivation to try and string together a coherent sentence. I feel like it is one sentence forward then two deleted.

I am my own worst critic when I feel unhappy. It becomes an exhausting process trying to write and silence my doubts at the same time. But not writing makes me feel worse, as though my life is at a standstill.

So I have decided to try and write however I feel inside. I’ve started writing things down with pen on paper so the words can be tucked away, without any judgement. With each scribble it has become easier to start writing again.

I feel like I have reclaimed a part of myself that is lost when I’m feeling low.

Slowing The Pace

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I have started on my second novel and I’m finding it much easier this time round. I’m glad I finished the first one but I am also happy to now put it aside.

I felt under so much pressure writing the first novel, that I wrote as though an agent or publisher was reading it over my shoulder. I thought that all I had to do was finish the book and then get it published. It felt like a race.

In the end, it felt rushed and not worthy of being published by any means. But by finishing it, I proved that I could complete the project and it gave me more confidence in my ability.

I’m now comfortable with the routine of writing every day and setting myself targets to reach. I know I will finish the current book, I have proved to myself I can.

I’m not putting pressure on myself to finish it in a certain time frame, I’m going to take my time. More importantly, I’m enjoying writing so much more now that I have slowed the pace down. It is no longer a race but a work in progress.

The Unknown

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I usually know almost everything about a book or a film before I sit down to enjoy it. Word of mouth, reviews online and even the blurb can give away so much of the content that you can sometimes predict exactly how the story is going to go.

I recently watched ‘What Maisie Knew’ without knowing anything about it. It was one of the best films I have seen in a long time, it was moving and sensitively shot from the child’s perspective. Without knowing anything about the story I was riveted to the screen and I really connected with the characters.

The same thing happened when I picked up a book that a friend had left for me to read. She hadn’t mentioned what the book was about and the blurb didn’t really give anything away. Within the first few sentences I was hooked and I couldn’t put it down. I often thought of the times I had been looking for something to read and had picked it up and put it back on the shelf.

In a way, that can be a good metaphor for life. Sometimes I feel I’m too scared to try the unknown until I have read enough reviews, or too scared to go anywhere new until I have mapped out the entire route. I rely too much on second hand knowledge, until I forget how to trust my instincts.

I need to stop trying to second guess the ending and just enjoy the story!