For Scary Days

I have this folder on my laptop called 'For scary things'. It's basically full of cool quotes, and pug pictures and Parks&Rec GIFs, and it's where I go when everything gets a bit too much.

You know - those days where you feel rubbish and sad and awful and you convince yourself that you're the worst at EVERYTHING, so why are you even trying? Those days.

As a writer, those days happen fairly often. I'm constantly putting my heart on the line, and it is terrifying. Like panic-attack-pacing-back-and-forth-terrifying. Usually, my 'For scary things' folder helps me see some perspective.

I mean, how can you not be happy when looking at Ron Swanson and sad pugs? But sometimes, I need a little something extra to help me over the scary days. So I thought I'd write a list of what helps me when I'm feeling down, in the hope that it will help someone reading this.

 

1 // Exercise

If you're like me, exercise is usually the last thing that you feel like doing when the scary days hit. BUT, hear me out a sec. Exercise is such a great stress relief, and it's something physical that you can do to respond to something scary. If your feeling angry - why not try boxing?

I personally LOVE yoga (which is something 16yr old me would never have believed I would say) - it helps me focus and calm down mentally as well as exercising physically. I really recommend Yoga with Adriene - it's a great starting point& there is SO MUCH content! I also really enjoy walking. Again it clears my mind, I get to listen to music and I also just take in my surroundings.

 

2// TREAT YO SELF

Okay, that was a Parks&Rec reference, but the concept is universal.

 

Take an hour/day/week - paint your nails, or read a book or watch that TV show you've been meaning to catch. Taking care of yourself is an underrated necessity. Be selfish and do what's good for you! A calm, stress-free, happy you is FAR more likely to take on the scary stuff like a pro than a you that is rundown, tired and frazzled.

 

3// See your friends

As a writer, I am sometimes VERY guilty of neglecting my friends - I am usually chained to my laptop most evenings tapping out the words. So when things get tough - phone a friend. Have a cinema/lunch date, or if you're long distance - talk on Skype. Do something fun like going to the zoo or a museum (I know - I'm a nerd). Talk about it. Talk about everything and anything that is worrying you. Chatting to friends is cathartic - you sort out and analyze your problems, figure out a way to solve/minimize them... and maybe, you realize they're not as much of a problem as you first thought.

By the way, I'm not just talking about IRL friends here - internet friends can be (and are) just as valuable. The writing community online is such a massive support to me - and hopefully - to others. So email, DM or message to your hearts content until your worries seem manageable again.

This is what I do when stuff gets really, really scary. Exercise, self-care & friendship is my key to feeling like I can take on the scary monster I've created in my head. These three things might not be the key for you, but I promise that you have one - maybe you need a hug with someone special, or to eat out at your favorite place. Whatever it is that makes you feel brave enough to take on the scary things, do it - because, as one of my favorite quotes says:

Life Begins At The End Of Your Comfort Zone
— Neale Donald Walsch


NaNoWriMo: An Inspirational Challenge

I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo for a few years now, and it’s one of the most rewarding challenges I’ve ever done. If you have heard of it, NaNoWriMo, or the National Novel Writing Month to give it it’s full name is where people try and write 50,000 words of a book in the month of November.

Sounds crazy? Impossible? Well, it is and it isn’t. NaNoWriMo can (and is) gruelling. I generally don’t get much sleep during November, I drink WAY too much caffeine, and I don’t see my friends a lot. I pretty much spend the entire month glued to a computer screen, frantically tapping away on my keyboard.

Now, that description makes NaNoWriMo sound awful. But believe me, it’s super fun! When you sign up for NaNoWriMo you get a profile on their website. This is handy because your profile includes your stats - so you can still if your on target to finish, or hopelessly behind. You also have writer buddies, and forums where you can ask every question you can think of and get an answer. NaNoWriMo is a community effort. You spend the month cheering on and encouraging other writers, making friends on the other side of the world, diving into that book you always wanted to write.

I think that there is something so incredibly brave about making a public commitment to put pen to paper and write. Writing is scary. It’s like putting a little part of you out there on display for all to see. But with the help of the NaNoWriMo community, you really feel like you can do it.

This year, I won NaNo. I wrote 50,000 words in one month. By November 30th I was exhausted, my fingers ached and all I wanted to do was curl up in bed and watch TV. But the sense of achievement was epic - a buzz that weeks later, I still haven't come down from.

By the way, this is only the second time I’ve won NaNo, and I must have participated in 3 or 4 annual events. Sometimes life gets in the way, or you’re not in the right headspace to write continuously for a month, guess what - you’re still a winner. Whether you wrote 5 words or 5 million, you did something. You put that idea on paper - you started something amazing. And, I bet you met a lot of great people along the way. The people of NaNo is what makes this such a special challenge - great writer friends are worth their weight in gold.

November is over for another year, and I hope that your December (and mine) is one of relaxation. 2016 has got SO much to look forward too - not only is there the November challenge, but you could also take part in Camp NaNoWriMo - a monthly write in that occurs in April and July where you get to set your own word count goals.

Finally, NaNo-ers, you inspire me. Your commitment, bravery and dedication to writing all those words is astounding. So go give yourself a pat on the back, and maybe have a mince pie - you deserve it!