WERK IT

‘Work hard, play hard’ is a a motto to live by. Just remember that ‘work’ has to come first so that you can play harder. Read articles about inspiring careers, learning new skills and interesting hobbies to keep you motivated.

Learn a New Skill: How to Write a Novel Course Review

It’s never too late to learn something new, and with an abundance of online courses available at your fingertips, what’s stopping you?

Going freelance gave me the opportunity to do more things I loved. As a fan of storytelling in novels and in my work (brand storytelling – not just making things up) I decided to have a go at a six-week writing course with the Writers’ Workshop called ‘How to Write a Novel‘. This is my review, plus why taking a course could help open new doors of opportunity. 

Why I took a writing course

  • Learning new writing skills helps me grow as a professional copywriter and marketer – it’s basically a no-brainer in terms of work related benefits. 
  • ‘How to Write a Novel’ was something I always wanted to do as I am obsessed with reading books as well as storytelling in branding and marketing.

Why should you take any course?

  • Develop your interest in something you’re passionate about – treat it like a hobby!
  • Improve your skills.
  • Looks good on your CV to employers; “this girl is self motivated, independent and ambitious. I am not just going to hire her, but offer her even more money!” (It could happen).
  • Builds your confidence.

Six-week writing course structure

1. IDEAS

My advice would be: come with an idea you want to develop for this course. Just because, if you don’t have an idea already you can waste time chopping and changing throughout the weeks, rather than developing something fully and getting the most from the course. The main theme of this week was: write what you know!

2. CHARACTERS

This was my favourite part of the course, and my favourite part in all storytelling. You can go mad with spider charts, spilling out personality traits, quirks, jobs, looks, dress sense and much more. The possibilities are endless. Just be careful not to base your character too closely to anyone you know in real life – it’s unlikely to go down well. 

3. STORY

Here you get into the plot of your story and consider popular story lines such as rags to riches, a quest of self discovery, a tragedy etc. You really need to decide what events and conflicts are going to spur your character on, as well as making it a real page-turner for your reader. 

4. STRUCTURE

Now wasn’t this something to behold when reading one of my favourite books, Gone Girl?! The structure was so well planned out that the story continuously revealed itself in a surprising and extraordinary way. Author Gillian Flynn said she had hundreds of post-its covering a wall in her basement to create a timeline – just to help her keep track of the plot. Twists and turns in storytelling doesn’t come without a planned structure of scenes and sub-plots. Just make sure you don’t leave it up when you have friends over – they might get the wrong end of the stick and call the police on you. 

5. STYLE

Developing a unique voice is what separates good writers from great writers. It’s definitely something you can work on (I’m trying!) but some people are just born with a natural flair. This week was about finding your authentic voice and being confident about it. Try different extremes of voices before settling into what feels natural. Knowing what you are not gets you much closer to knowing what you are. 

6. EDITING

This is something I do ALL THE TIME. I even go back and edit my texts and Whatsapp messages. If I had to rely on a first draft of anything I don’t think I would have got very far in life. The rewrite is when your work starts to have style, personality, maybe an added surprise. If you have the time, sleeping on it can work miracles; there has been many a time a fresh pair of eyes the next day has lead me to think a moron wrote my work the day before. 

how to write a novel

Cost: Is it worth it?

Writers’ Workshop: How to Write a Novel Beginners  Six-Week Course – £365

Personally, I would be happy with the cost is it was a face-to-face classroom environment. As it was an online course I think it was overpriced. If you get a group that are up for critiquing each other’s work you will get a lot more out of it. My group was quite quiet so it felt like working solo unfortunately. 

What are the value benefits?

  • An experienced course leader who is a published author. 
  • Video introduction each week. 
  • In-depth notes for each week – almost 4-5 pages that I have kept and still refer to!
  • Suggested further reading so you can go off and continue to learn independently.
  • A forum for discussion amongst your class peers (as long as people are chatty!)
  • The structure and discipline of deadlines – making you think, write and learn regularly.
  • Individual feedback on each of your assignments. 

Learn a new skill and feel happier in 2017

There are now courses you can do in almost anything – ever considered Surf Science or Viking Studies? Maybe you should. Why not make a fresh start in 2017 and learn a new skill that makes you feel good?

EYES ON THE PRIZE

For a blog that’s meant to be all about living a more inspiring life I was feeling rather uninspired today. So there I was, sat on the sofa downloading photo editing apps to make my Instagram pics look even more awesome, instead of writing some sort of ‘how to get the life you want’ blog post, when I had a brainwave (it happens occasionally).

I Googled some lines that make you want to stop waiting for something good to happen and start making something good happen (this could be a quotable line too surely?), overlaid this on to a few of my own photos and created some mega-motivational, poster-style graphics. You’re welcome.

So what have we learnt today? Sometimes just allowing yourself to run away with your imagination can lead to something productive, its called ‘being creative’. So don’t let anyone ever tell you you’re procrastinating, unless of course you actually are. In that case just get on with it. Clear as mud? Thought so… again, you’re welcome.

step forward answer is always no motivational quote

 

NEW BEGINNINGS

CHANCES SAYING

So today I quit my job. With no other job to go to. Sounds crazy, right?

I thought about my personal life and my career and I decided I want the freedom to travel, to learn and to make my own money at a time that suits me. After all, I don’t have anyone else I’m responsible for so I may as well make the most of it. So I’m going to freelance!

As I read this last sentence back to myself visions quickly appear of the dreamy little girl in ‘Father of the Bride’ saying ‘Daddy, I met a boy in Rome and we’re getting married!’ Except I’m not a little girl and I really do know what I’m doing! Or maybe I’m still trying to convince myself…

So now the countdown has begun as I have until the New Year to find myself some interesting projects to work on. Hopefully I’ll start 2016 with a bang – and that’s not banging my head against the nearest wall.

‘Freelance’; this gets added to my list of words I like – it’s very ‘free’ after all.

BREAK AWAY

Andraitx Spain

View from my room in Andratx, Mallorca.

Holidays that come along at just the right time can be life changing.

They don’t have to be particularly eventful, in fact, sometimes its the sheer stillness of a holiday that can bring about new prospects.

My holiday in Mallorca was relaxing; I read three books, I ate bread every day (sometimes several times a day, which I never do at home), and had an afternoon nap every day, just like a Nana.

It was lovely, and I was seemingly serene from the outside, but inside I was fighting a constant battle in my head, playing over imaginary conversations in my head.

I was at a crossroads. I had to make an important career/life decision, which unfortunately I can’t talk about just yet.

However having time out from the everyday hustle and bustle does help to put life into perspective. Some of the questions I asked myself:

– What am I good at?

– What do I want to learn?

– What do I enjoy in life?

– Where do I want to be in five years time?

– What’s still waiting in my bucket list and are they achievable at the rate I’m going at career-wise and personal life-wise?

Sometimes its good to give yourself a personal review, after all you only get one life so its important you get the most out of it. YOLO and all that jazz.

So I say dream, at every stage in life, and who can blame me with holiday vistas like these?

Andratx Mallorca

Andratx Harbour Spain

Andratx harbour, Mallorca

RISE AND SHINE

Monday morning motivation… for real people. 

I am not a morning person. For a long time my alarm has been set to 6.30am on a weekday – and yes this is torturous in case you were wondering, especially in the winter when it is dark and it feels super weird getting up. I definitely do not make the most of my mornings on a weekday. I’ll hit snooze repeatedly until I know I only have enough time to literally put clothes on and brush my teeth… maybe brush my hair? Therefore there’s certainly no cool outfits, contoured makeup or breakfast of any kind (which just happens to be my favourite meal of the day – but, you get the struggle).

On a weekend I have a lot more motivation (obviously – weekends are FUN), but I can get up around 8am and plan out my day. However, I also often spend weekends hungover; which means I can also wake up disorientated and confused as to which day it is before quickly realising I have a splitting headache and then the McDonalds breakfast cravings kick in. I’m over-sharing now, so I’ll get to the point.

I saw this graphic on the Hubpsot blog (a marketing advice blog) and it rang a bit too true to life. “Maybe all marketing and PR people are a bit like this?” I thought. “Maybe everyone is?! Or maybe its satire and no one really is, just me?”

Monday morning motivation

I imagine someone like Taylor Swift is our morning person on the right in this graphic. She would make you blueberry pancakes and a freshly squeezed green juice as she skipped across the kitchen with her ‘red lips and rosy cheeks’. “Want some sugar on top?” “No thanks Taylor, that’s enough to last a lifetime.” This would all happen before I’ve even remembered the passcode to unlock my phone so I can start scrolling Instagram… *drops phone on to face*.

To summarise: I feel more ‘Britney’ but I need to be more ‘Taylor’, so…

  1. Get up at first alarm
  2. Never miss breakfast
  3. Make more of an effort with general appearance (even on weekdays)

Are you a morning person?