Category: The Word

Confidence and the Writer

I’m in love with writing and, like all relationships worth mentioning, it isn’t always easy.

It’s rewarding, but at times it takes guts. I don’t get to spend anywhere near as much time with my words as I’d like to. People get in the way, I get in the way, things need to be done and the situation is never just right for me and my keyboard to spend some quality time together. Everything gets easier though as I get more settled and more confident in my writing and my relationship with it.

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Finding Confidence

I’m not going to keep stretching out the relationship metaphor, but I am going to tell you that I’ve been terrible at finding relationships in the past. I didn’t know what to do and I lacked confidence from the first impression to the last dance and beyond.

When I began to write as a hobby and a career, I found myself in the same situation. I knew on some level that I was a good writer, but I didn’t know how to convince people, including myself, that I was good. I second-guessed myself, I missed opportunities and clients and I deleted tracts of perfectly good writing, rather than let it be seen by potential critics. All of this because I lacked confidence.

I’d love to start this paragraph by saying “This all changed when…”, but there has been no great watershed moment when I was suddenly filled with newfound certainty. I have learned to tell myself that I’m a good writer and listen to others when they say the same. I have even begun to believe that I am a good writer whose work is worth attention and money. There was no giant leap though, just a series of self-affirming moments and actions combined with the support of others. I would advise other writers to keep reflecting on the good points of their work, even when they are not so obvious. It’s also important to listen to others when they support you and believe them when they complement you. After all, you are your own worst critic.

Keeping Confidence (and a little more of that metaphor)

When you have found your confidence, keep it with you when writing, when pursuing opportunities and when dealing with those who may help you succeed or put you down. I found out the hard way that where confidence is concerned, landing clients is like getting girls (or guys, according to your preference). Very few people notice the timid person in the corner, let alone give them a chance, even if they are the perfect person. The fact is that without a little pluck, a little mettle, no one will ever know you are ideal for them. You can even begin to kid yourself that you don’t have the skills or the experience to be the ideal candidate for anyone. So, nurture your confidence every day by believing in yourself and the words you write.

Setting out and Settling in: Both easier with friends

Setting out and Settling in: Both easier with friends

Every parent will know that the first day of school is exciting and daunting for a child, it’s like an adventure. In fact, most people will remember that mix of eagerness and fear of the challenges that lay ahead and the scary new people that lay in wait. I’m sure some of that anxiety remains whenever most of us go to a new place or try something new. We must still make new connections and deal with new challenges. Either way, we are not alone.

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Preparing for the Adventure of Modern Freelance Writing

Quality freelance writing is an exciting, cutting-edge business despite the rising threat from banal content farming, cheap SEO churners, and big data suedo-news. The situation has changed drastically over the years since I took up the trade and the increasingly multifaceted nature of the craft that makes it such a worthwhile pursuit is exactly what can confuse the unaware. Today alone I have written history blogs, Facebook posts, commissioned tweets and business profiles, all while keeping an eye out for consultancy call-ups … and that is just an average day at the office. This is no daily grind. It is an adventure where the writer must be prepared for anything

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Local Heritage and Me

Heritage is what makes us who we are. It’s what gives warmth to the places that we live and depth to the lives that we lead. This is why I was enormously proud and excited to be appointed as the Heritage Marketing Officer for Barton-upon-Humber, my hometown, earlier this month.

welcome-to-bartonIn this role, I’ll be working with a great team at The Ropewalk and The Wilderspin School Museum with support from The Civic Society (Apologies for all the links, but the museums are really worth a visit). We’ll be taking a little look at the amazing history that has made the town of Barton what it is today and working to build up the cultural profile of what is in fact, a town with an enormously colourful heritage and a lot of cultural depth.

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The difference between ‘value’ and ‘price’ : What our words say about us

The words we use say a hqdefaultlot about us and the way we think about the words we use says even more. This is something I considered whilst using Microsoft Word’s inbuilt thesaurus and comparing it to a much more thorough and useful one online. The difference was very telling, especially where Microsoft, money and the priorities of our society were concerned.

For the word ‘value’ for example, Microsoft came up with synonyms like price, worth and cost first – all very financially orientated words for what is really a very broad concept (admittedly this is less so for worth). The more complete thesaurus on the other hand came up with admire, application and appraise, to name the first three in the alphabetical list – a good variety of words relating to the multiple meanings of the word value.

Overall Microsoft came up with eight terms for value, five of which were financially orientated. By comparison, out of the first eight words the more thorough thesaurus came up with, only two were financial. Some were general synonyms for value and one was beauty, which got me thinking.

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How Epilepsy Helped Shape Prince

Seven years ago Princeprincetavis_250.jpg revealed to the world that he had battled with epilepsy during childhood, a battle that shaped him as a man and an artist. Now, as the world mourns the death of a genius, it is worth considering one of the less prominent lessons he taught us.

Prince compared his fight with Epilepsy to that of the legendary black boxer and civil rights icon Jack Johnson “because he had to deal with seemingly insurmountable odds; if he knocked someone down people from the audience would get into the ring and pick him back up. I just related to it in a lot of different ways.”

“I was born epileptic and I used to have seizures when I was young and my mother and father didn’t know what to do, or how to handle it, but they did the best they could with what little they had.” – Prince

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Some Thoughts on Path-finding as a Writer

Any client focused freelancers or money hungry writers out there may find that, like me, your work is often defined by those you work for. Some may try to fight it as I did, but I’m here to say that sometimes it’s worth just following the path as it is laid out before you. You may even learn about yourself on the way.

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My fiancee, one of the biggest scares of my life and Purple Day for Epilepsy 2016

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Purple day!

My fiancée is wearing a lovely, foxy purple t-shirt for me today and I’m both thankful and proud.  A couple of years ago I had one of the scariest experiences of my life and I was just as thankful for her then as I am now. You see, I had a dangerously long seizure that day. An epileptic seizure, or fit, should generally last from one to two minutes. Any longer than three and medical attention is needed (take note friends and family of epilepsy sufferers). That day I had three in a row, all longer than three minutes culminating in an eight minute fit. This can mean serious stuff!

Of course I don’t remember any of this. I just remember waking up a long time later in a dull and dreary hospital ward, feeling absolutely shattered (an epileptic fit feels like going ten rounds with Floyd Mayweather). I was also completely confused and very scared. I’m not going to try and be manly or arrogant about this, waking up in a strange place, feeling awful and not knowing how you got there is terrifying.

Fortunately Mahlah, my fiancée was there to reassure me. She told me what had happened and why I was there. But once wasn’t enough as having a very serious grand mal fit can affect a person’s memory in the same way as dementia for a short length of time. I kept getting scared and not knowing where I was and she kept being there to comfort me. Unfortunately, visiting time on the ward came to an end and I was terrified to be left by myself. Fortunately Mahlah wasn’t being told by any two-bit nurse that she couldn’t stay and keep me company. That night she shared a single bed in a horrible room with a guy who was confused and disorientated, knowing that she could get thrown out at any time. I want to thank her for that. I’ve had many similar experiences, depending on parents, friends, strangers and NHS staff to get me through and on this, Purple Day for Epilepsy 2016, I want to say thank you very much to them and to everyone who supports us. I appreciate it a great deal and I’m glad I took the difficult choice to be open about my problem.

For many people it is a lot more difficult than it was for me due to shame or circumstances. I would like to encourage these people to try and talk about it with someone they trust, then hopefully they can get to a place where they can depend on someone as much as I have been able to.

Happy Birthday Twitter

Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday dear Facebook, happy birthday to you …

Only kidding. Of course, we all know that the social network that redefined the mini blog is another year older today. From my days as a trainee journalist, through my trip around the world to my request for holiday recommendations, Twitter has seen me through thick and thin. So, to say thanks, here are some of my favourite tweets, starting with the best Tweet-down ever:

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Working space in working lives

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My home office … not.

Just as our living space affects our lives, so our workspace affects our work.

Me and my laptop are enjoying settling in to a house with enough room for an office beautiful Barton Upon Humber after several a few months of living in my fiancée’s mother’s spare room. The lack of a place of our own was a more than fair price to pay for months of carefree(ish) travel, but it feels great to be anchored in one place once again.

A big part of that is my work space, without which I would feel lost, or at least a bit less focused on my work. It was lovely to write articles from the beaches of Fiji and the coffee shops of Cambodia, but there’s nothing quite like having your own space set up to write in.

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