Marie Kondo Your Writing

In the spirit of all the Marie Kondo hype, let’s explore how we can use the #konmari method on our writing too. Here are a few words that probably don’t spark joy and are cluttering your writing. Continue reading “Marie Kondo Your Writing”

18 Things I’ve Learnt In 2018

Instead of making new year resolutions, I decided to put my list making urges to a different (less pressure inducing) purpose. Here are 18 things I’ve learnt in 2018.

Many of these are writing, reading and poetry related but there’s also a fair few cancer related ones. That’s just the way it goes sometimes.

  • Audiobooks are amazing. I’ve become such an audiobook enthusiast this year. Audiobooks mean you can read on public transport even if passengers are noisy, you can read while walking (which I find so relaxing) and you can also fall asleep to stories.
  • Slow fashion is a journey. To be honest, this year I’ve not been amazing at avoiding fast fashion. Months spent feeling ill and unhappy made me turn to online shopping. But instead of beating myself up about this, I’m moving on and have Depop ready for my next purchases.

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  • Sometimes you have to tell people what you need from them. When things are going wrong in my life, I sometimes forget to reach out to my support network. Having cancer is lonely but not telling people what you need from them makes it even lonelier.
  • I should wear sun cream in April. I think this is the month when the sun usually catches me out because it’s still a bit cold. Not anymore! I see you, sun.

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  • What it means to be in pain. This sounds super dark/dramatic but I’m currently writing a novel and being able to articulate pain more vividly, more complexly is useful. Research would do the same job to be fair so it’s a very slim silver lining.
  • Poetry is amazing. Like many people, I was put off poetry by school. Studying a poetry module for my MA and discovering all of the amazing modern poetry out there has been one of the most exciting parts of 2018 for me. If you want to get into poetry, I’d recommend reading a *modern poetry anthology.

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  • I can write poetry. For ages, I just assumed I’d be no good at poetry. Once I actually gave it a good shot earlier this year I realised I’m actually alright. I’ve got a long way to go but just being able to enjoy writing poetry is a brilliant outlet.
  • Modern society’s messing with our mental health. I feel like I’m always going on about *Notes On A Nervous Planet by Matt Haig but it’s been so helpful to me this year. I think I’m already due a re-read.

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  • Cancer isn’t a death sentence. Of course, I already knew logically that cancer wasn’t a death sentence. But now I actually have facts, figures and personal experience to back it up. Read more about this here.
  • We need to cut down on single-use plastic. This year more than ever I’ve heard horrifying examples of how plastic is damaging our planet. We all need to take action.

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  • What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger more anxious. Look, it would be great if the badass “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” motto was true. But it’s not. If something crappy happens to you, you will probably feel anxious, scared, sad and vulnerable for a while. This is totally normal.
  • Losing your hair is complicated. For me, it was simultaneously not a big deal and a big deal. It definitely affected my confidence, particularly out in public.

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  • Ed Sheeran is so good live. I was lucky enough to see Ed Sheeran live in Cardiff back in May. Of course, I knew it would be good but my expectations were exceeded.
  • It’s okay to take time out for yourself. The realisation that I needed to take a big break from my Masters this year was hard to swallow and at first, I didn’t let myself relax and recover. Thankfully, with the help of a psychologist, I’ve started letting myself slow down.

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  • Jellyfish evaporate in the sun. They’re 98% water!
  • Mindfulness requires patience. One of the best things that I’ve started doing this year is practising mindfulness. Practice is the key word here.
  • Brighton is brilliant. The Lanes, the pebbly beach and the charmingly tacky pier made Brighton an ideal weekend getaway in November. I will definitely be going back.

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  • Life is so precious. When your future is uncertain, it’s so difficult to live in the moment and not get consumed by anxiety. But, with a lot of practice and patience, it is possible to appreciate every day. I had grand plans for 2018, which didn’t work out. But I’m finishing 2018 feeling grateful to still be here, recovering and on a journey towards mindfulness and putting less pressure on myself.

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I hope you enjoyed this slightly eclectic blog post. Before I go, I’d just like to say a big thank you to everyone who has read my blog, left thoughtful comments and shared my blog posts this year. I really appreciate it.

Happy New Year!

*affiliate links. If you chose to use one of my affiliate links to buy a book from Book Depository, I’ll get a small cut of the profit.

When to let go: using possessions to create character.

I know I’m not alone in finding it difficult to let go. Whether it’s letting go of the past, a person or a place a lot of these feelings can manifest in our possessions, making it hard to let go of physical items.

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I kept a holey, shrunken dress for years Continue reading “When to let go: using possessions to create character.”

My Exeter Bucket List

When I moved to Devon in September 2016 to start my Creative Writing MA at Exeter University, one of the things I was most looking forward to was living near the sea.

The sea is a huge source of inspiration for me. In fact, looking back at all my writing projects, I’m unsure if it is possible for me to write a good story or novel that isn’t set by the sea.

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So, whilst preparing for the move, I pictured myself writing in the window seat of an adorable cafe overlooking the sea, feeling pensive and arty and drinking a pretentious coffee. The reality has been sans all of these things but the writing, which is the right way around at least.

As these things often go, I’ve also not explored the surrounding area nearly as much as I’d have liked. But I have a few months left here and warmer weather is approaching. So in a bid to make the most of living in Devon, I’ve compiled a bucket list.

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Cycle to Exmouth and back. It’s only an hour’s cycle from Exeter to Exmouth and the cycle route runs along the quay. This will be a lovely day trip once the weather starts warming up. I can’t wait to see all the dogs…

Sample Exeter’s cafes. I feel like I am forever walking past independent cafes in Exeter that look amazing and I’ve heard such good things about Cakeadoodledo and the Glorious Art House. When the dissertation stress sets in, I’m hoping to take myself to a couple of cafes, soak up the good vibes and treat myself.

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Ludwell Valley Park, Exeter

Swim in the sea. Granted, this isn’t a Devon specific item but it’s something that needs to happen soon. I’m 23 and I’ve never swum in the sea. As someone who is no stranger to the beach, this seems outrageous. Now, I’m just waiting for some 25 degree Celsius weather.

Take my boyfriend to Teignmouth. This was my Grandma’s home for many years and my family and I used to spend a lot of time here, so it’s a piece of home I’d love to share with him.

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Go to Cheesy Tuesdays at Unit 1. A midweek night out singing and dancing to cheesy classics? Yes, please. There is something comforting about the nostalgic oldies and I love that everyone knows all the lyrics. However, as this iconic night is on a Tuesday, I am yet to get there.

Go canoeing or kayaking on the quay. For someone who claims to love water, I’m rarely in it. I’m not sure whether I’ll opt for a kayak or a canoe (perhaps weather dependent), but I will get on the water somehow.

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Write in a cute cafe by the sea. I know, I know. But as much as I’d be fulfilling a stereotype, if I don’t do this at least once before I leave Devon I will be gutted. It will be a really nice way to switch things up, whilst still getting work done.

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McCoy’s Arcade, Exeter

Whether you’re considering visiting the area, a prospective Exeter University student, or even thousands of miles away, I hope this bucket list was inspiring.

Let me know if you have any location-based bucket lists!