The creative process #3 : Practice and improve

Creative life #3

While I’m writing this, I am sitting on my friend’s bed after finishing reading a book. I’m a whole town away from home and I have no homework or day job here.
I only have a friend and books.

I like it here.

 

So for the first time in two weeks I feel inspired to write a blog post on the topic of being creative again.
So to continue on with the creative life series let me share with you how important it is to practice and improve.

 

The creative process step 3: practice and improve.

We started off by gathering inspiration, then we copied a bunch of other artists but right now we need to practice and improve our art.

Start with taking a look at something you created recently. It could be anything from a poem to a dance routine. Examine it and notice if there is anywhere you can improve. Think according to all the little rules you’ve picked up from other artists and compare yours to “the standard”
The standard by the way it how good other artists are.
Look at how your art differs from theirs and ask if you want to keep it like that or change it.

(disclaimer: I’m not saying you need to completely copy someone else and lose your individuality. I’m just telling you to honestly try and improve your work.)

 

Now that you know what you want to change – change it. If you can, keep both the old and the new version.
I personally like to keep everything I write so when I make changes I create a whole new file on my computer. I hardly ever delete until I’m sure I have the version I want.

 

Step 2: get feedback.

Another important part of improving your art is to get feedback from someone who knows something about your art.
This means you can’t just ask your mum and ask her what she thinks. (sorry mum)
Get it to someone who knows what they’re doing. Preferably get it to someone whose art you admire or someone who you know is better at you in your art.

Ask them questions. Ask them about the things you feel needs to be changed if they agree then you make the change if they don’t agree the choice is up to you. If they dislike something you like honestly think about what they don’t like and ask yourself if they are correct. No being personal at this stage. You need to ask yourself if your art will be better or worse without the thing they dislike and make the change yourself.

 

Now this is a process you repeat constantly.
You create. You get feedback. You improve. You create again but better.

 

I hope this was helpful to you. I hope to bring the last part which is all about creating original content out soon enough.

The 2nd part of the creative process.

Mimicking other artists.

Creative process

 

Last week I posted about how we need to surround ourselves by creativity and other creative people so that we can take in their work to fuel our own.
This week I want to do something a little different. We will be pin pointing certain elements in other artist’s work and mimicking it.

 

Why should we do this?

Well the only way for us to know what art looks like is for us to observe it. Or in other words we are going to be looking at art and dissecting it so that we can understand how it works.
Through mimicking other artist’s you aren’t only looking at art but you are also busy building up your own creative process. When you mimic artists you are figuring out how things are done and what methods work bests for you. You are forming a habit or a flow of creativity that will help shape your future original content.

 

Now this is all nice to write down but the important question is where do you start?
Where do you start when you want to mimic an artist?

 

Well to speak the obvious you will need 2 things.
1. The right materials.
2. Some art work that you want to copy.

 

I’m going to leave the first part up to you, because I don’t know any details about what you want to do with your life.
The second part though, I can tell you isn’t so hard either. The internet is full of amazing artists that really can use your support. I talked about this in last week’s post so if you haven’t read it then you are probably regretting that now. (go here)

 

Now to imitate it.
You can do that school thing where you analyze the art and try to fully understand it.
I suggest you take notes on paper of what the artist did. You can ask what is it that drew you to the piece? What style did the artist use? Do you think there’s a meaning behind the art?
Put these notes where you can see them and now honestly putting the artist’s thing next to your own blank canvas/page/music sheet/dance floor start to mimic what the artist did.

Mimic them while looking and while not looking. Try to memorize what the artist did before trying.

 

Now here I would like to add that you shouldn’t worry about perfection just yet. Instead focus on creating art. Focus on simply getting something done even if it’s horrible.

 

For this week’s mission I want you to simply go mimic as many artists as you can.
Try to do a little every day or every second day otherwise. Really just practice a lot.
Get into the flow of being creative and you’ll be surprised what happens before your eyes.

 

That’s it for now. I’ll be writing more on the topic next week. I hope to hear from you 🙂

The first part of the creative process.

1st step ofCreativity

Last week I wrote about creative block and how it’s normally more of an emotional block than anything else. But today we’ll be talking about something else and that is the first step in the creative process. Hint it’s letting yourself be surrounded by other creative people and things.

Before anyone ever decides to be an artist they first see art and fall in love with it. (Or hate it and what to do better)
This is the first stage to getting your creative Mojo back. I personally can confirm that nothing inspires me to write as much as reading does. So that’s where we’ll start.

 

How to surround yourself with creativity.
The first step is to understand that everyone lets things into their soul differently – if we didn’t we would only have one sort of artist.
Think of it in terms of the different learning styles.
If you weren’t taught about this in school then the quick explanation is that there are seven ways to take in information and some ways work better for certain people while the other methods work better for other people.

 
These seven methods are
Visual (this is if you use pictures to understand things)
Aural (this is when sound helps you learn things)
Verbal (this is when you prefer words – either spoken or written)
Physical ( you use movement and touching to learn things)
Logical (you prefer using logical systems)
Social (you prefer learning in groups)
Solitary (you prefer to work and study alone)

Figure out what way you take things in and exploit that method.
I’m a visual and solitary learner, so from that I know that I need to sound myself with pictures, books or blog posts like these.
Now that we understand that some things will work better to inspire some of us then others it’s time for us to surround ourselves by as many types of art as possible. After all you never know when inspiration will strike.

First of all if you already have a chosen creative outlet (like I have writing) then delve in that direction first.
If you are a writer then go read.
If you are a painter then go look for art.
If you are a musician go listen to music.
You get the gist.

 

Still try other things though – here are different kinds of art that I think you need to let into your life.

1. Music.
Music is an art form that surrounds our sense of hearing and it can take people completely out of their surroundings. Try all kinds of music from rock and roll to Beethoven – and let it affect you.

2. Spoken word poetry.
Again this is an art form that surrounds our sense of hearing but this is a little different. This is one of my newest obsessions and I find it inspires me to listen to other people’s opinions. And because spoken word poetry is generally about something someone is really passionate about it can ignite fires in those who listen to it.
This is a link to button poetry where you can find all the spoken word poetry you could ever want to listen to.

3. Written poetry.
Written poetry can be long or short and can either convoy a story or a feeling and honestly it’s just great to read even if you don’t write it yourself. (I suck at poetry)
This is something you can get in old school poetry books or you can check out my Pinterest board of poetry.

4. 2D art.
This is to say paintings, drawings, charcoal sketches, photography and everything else that can be 2D.
The is the thing that normally springs to mind when people say art and it’s definitely where I draw a lot of inspiration from. The perfect place to find lots of art is art galleries which is always nice to visit but if you don’t have time for such things then head over to Pinterest because there you can find all kinds of art.

5. Sculptures.
This is the non 2D art that I think is really cool especially for all the kinetic learners out there.
Sculptures are one of those things that just inspire awe every time I see it. Again a great place to head is to art galleries or Pinterest.

6. Dancers.
Thinking of our kinetic learners, dancing is also one amazing thing to witness, especially live.
I suggest that you go see dancers live if you can because there is something about sitting in a dark theatre and witnessing that amount of hard work and skill that just send my heart racing. If you can’t see it live watch it on YouTube.

7. Comic, manga, graphic novels.
These are awesome but aren’t always given a chance by people because they look like kids books but I really suggest you go find one in your local bookstore or library because they are really great. You can also find them online obviously especially opinionated comics which are everywhere.

8. Books!
Obviously I suggest you read books. Books are awesome. They pull you into a new world and make you connect emotionally to people who don’t exist. Books are just wonderful for inspiration because they just they can give emotional depth and light-hearted laughs at the same time. Books are better than people. Know this.

9. Movies and TV series.
These are really great too. They also share a story and can amazing emotional depths.
Basically books but where they can’t exactly give all the depth they can give a clearer picture through things such as the wardrobe of the character (sewing is an art in itself) the lighting and much more.

There are so many more art forms than this but this is what I have for you – and if you feel like it, you can list others creative types to surround yourself with in the comments.

 
Surround yourself with people as well.
Surrounding yourself by other creative people is nearly as important as surrounding yourself by creativity. Why? Because as steel sharpens steel so men must sharpen each other.
Trust me when I say that other artists are just amazing to be surrounded by. They make you want to strive after creativity and they fill your life with amazing things.
My sister is studying graphic design and she is so inspiring to be around. She eccentric and solutions to creative problems just pour out of her.
My aunt is a seamstress who makes handbags and she is equally inspiring to be around. Her conversations are on a deeper level than most. She’s hardworking and bright.
I also have tons of writer friends who are all amazing people who encourage me to be better every day.

 

So that is your mission for this week, surround yourself with art and artists. Look at everything with open eyes and don’t be afraid to ask questions or to interact with the art.
Goodluck 🙂

The 4 steps to being a creative genius

 

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Being creative can be both hard and easy. Sometimes it comes as easily as breathing and other times it’s as hard as running 10k up hill.
Now me, I swing between the two polar opposites quite a lot and my “Creative blocks” are something I’m becoming used to.
So I was wondering how exactly creativity works and how can I start forcing it when I need it?

A lot of people would now tell me that if I have writers block then I need to just sit down and write because apparently I’m procrastinating… as if they know my life.

If you are like me who end up having writers or creative blocks a lot and don’t believe that you’re simply procrastinating then please let me tell you that that is perfectly okay. I believe you.

Creative blocks have a tendency to originate as something personal.
Things such as, crippling self doubt, depression, hopelessness, or in my case a bit of anxiety.
Creative blocks are first and foremost emotional blocks that you’ll need to go pin point yourself and work through. Confide to a nice friend what you’re going through and see if that helps. If you don’t have someone to confide in then feel free to talk to me  I would love to help you. (Seriously helping people with creativity is my passion)

 

So let’s assume that we’ve now sorted out what is at the root of our creative blocks. I went to a couple of sessions with a therapist now my anxiety is better. You have taken some sort of action for whatever is bugging you and now you feel like you can start being creative again.

 
The question now is, how do we start being creative again?
How do we do this?

I went and I outlined the creative process. I plan to go through each of the four steps that are involved to help myself – and you – to better understand creativity so we can get going again.

To explain it simply creativity is a give and take process. Before you can be creative you first have to surround yourself with creativity, you have to practice creativity, you have to better yourself and only then will you be able to create unique and original art.

 
So the four steps are:
1. Take in other people’s creative works.
2. Mimic other people’s creative works.
3. Grow your skill.
4. Create new and original content.

Makes sense?

Okay so I’m going to be writing a blog post for each and every one of those steps but for now I want you to focus on what is blocking your creativity.
What is at the base of your creative and emotional block? Did you go through something recreantly? Did you get hurt? Where you discouraged?
Whatever it is, look for it and spend a week working and praying through it. Write down what you discover about yourself. Tell someone about it and then figure out a way to get past it. Remember you are the creator of your own life.

Good luck, I look forward to hearing from you.

PS: if you would like to know when my next posts come out then please sign up to my email list so you can be notified immediately.
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Newbie lesson #1 – Planning out characters.

For the past few weeks I’ve been a part of the Young Writer’s workshop – which has been awesomely put together by Brett Harris and Jaquelle Crowe.

What I love about the workshop the most so far is the facebook group that is filled with the most awesomely amazing nerds ever. They all support each other, answer questions and read each other’s work. (I got my first beta reader btw!)

I really love being a part it!

It does mean that I’m exposed to a lot of brand new writers though. Writers who haven’t written their first novel yet. Writers who don’t know how to write that fist sentence or how to plot that first character. There are questions being asked on the group every day.

Inspired by their questions, I have decided that I want to write a writing lesson on one of the basics of writing.

How to create a character.

So here it is.

How to create a character – My own method.

In my time writing I’ve discovered that no matter how bad the rest of your story is, people will still love it if you’re characters are well written. That’s not a promise but that is how it works for me. For me characters are the heart of a story.

So that’s why it’s the first thing I want this series to cover.

Let’s get into it.

The first thing you need to do to create a character is grab a piece of paper. I use a normal A4 sheet with lines on it. You will hopefully not need too much more paper than that at first.

Now what do you put on the paper?

(there is an example of how it should look at the bottom of the post. Fill in sheet style)

Name:

At the top of your paper write down your character’s name. If you can’t think of anything go check out this baby naming site.

I like using a name with a meaning behind it, because that way I already have the first aspect of my character figured out. (example: Nava- beautiful. Bellona – goddess of war)

Gender:

In the next line write down either male or female… simple right?

Age:

Third line is age. I was taught that if you’re a new writer try to keep your characters around your own age – give or take two years. That way you can relate to them and as a result they’ll be more realistic. If you’re a grown writer who wants to write children’s books you may skip this advice.

Appearance:

Now the fourth part is where things get exciting.

In about 6 lines (on the paper) explain how your character looks. Go into detail.

When I was just starting out I thought that all you needed to describe a character was eye and hair colour. I was very naive back then.

No – eye and hair colour is not what takes to make a character appear to your reader. Instead try to go into depth in how your character looks at certain times of the day. Think about how they move. Think about the tiny scars that cover their arms etc.

Good things to use in descriptions are how they move, what kind of body build they have, how they dress, if they have long thin fingers or short chubby ones. These details help make a character real so take a minute to write down as much as you can think of.

Where necessary also add how they feel about their appearance.

Hermione had large front teeth. She hated them.

Doesn’t that give way more of an impression than eye colour?

Character’s life

Now take another six lines and fill in a bit about the character’s past and present.

Before you can write a story you need to know what mindset your character is currently in.  So go ahead and write down what you have figured out about them by now.

Here you should basically start by writing a quick overview of the character which can be prompted with questions such as. What social class is your character in? How caring is this character? How many family members does this character have, who do they care for the most etc.

Next think about their past. What have they lived through? What was a couple of defining points in their lives? Who helped them along the way?

Lastly what is your character’s current mindset? What is your character busy doing with in their life before your story begins? What is your character doing day in, day out? Does your character have any goals?

This will help you know who your character is when you just start off with a project.

That’s it. Those are five simple areas that if answered correctly give you a character.

Now write.

The next step would be to honestly observe your character. I’m going to give you a scene and then you just place your character into the scene and write it out so you can see what kind of character you have.

This helps because it sets you into the mindset of your character, and if the character acts out of the guidelines you built, you’ll be able to decide how to fix that problem before you start with your main project.

Scene

Your character is about to have a lesson in (insert interest of choice) and is laughing with their friend to the side when their instructor barks at them to come show off what they had been practicing the week before.

How your character approaches the lesson is up to you.

Got it? Go.

When you’re done, feel free to share your writing with me. I love reading how other writers interpret my prompts.

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DIY writer’s journal

It is no secret that I have a fondness for notebooks. Big thick ones with pretty covers, thin little back ones, those with lines and those without. All notebooks are perfectly acceptable to me.

 

writers-notebook

 
Two weeks ago I wrote about how much I love New Years because of that energy it gives.
The same principle goes for a nice, clean notebook.
A notebook in and of itself is just a bunch of pages with potential. You can use it for traditional journalling, to keep a schedule or bullet journal. I don’t want to talk about that – what I want to talk about today is one of my favourite types of notebooks and that is the writer’s notebook.

The topic of this month’s posts is inspiration and this week I decided to do a bit of a DIY tutorial instead of a writing lesson. So find an open space and gather your ingredients because today I’m sharing with you how to start a writer’s journal.

 

How to put together a writer’s journal.

 

Part one: the outside.

This is not a necessity but I’m decorating my own notebook this year. Normally I’d just buy those pretty books that are already decorated but this year I’m on a bit of a budget and those are almost six times more pricy than the plain notebooks that you can buy anywhere.

So I’m going to be decorating it myself but if you prefer to buy a decorated notebook then just skip this step.

Ingredients:
A plain notebook.
Some ribbon.
General art supplies (E.g. scissors & glue)
Coloured paper or anything else that you feel like decorating with.

Here is a pick of my stuff.

img_9822

 

Now that everything is gathered you should start by simply wrapping it in a base paper.
I did mine in black paper, because I really like the clean and elegant that black paper gives.

From there off on I simply decorated as I saw fit. I suggest you name it and of course make it look pretty to you.

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You can see that the name of the book (idea pile) is written in the most OCD bugging way ever. This is simply my personal way of creating journals because I like them to not be completely clean and straight forward. I want them to catch my own attention and to invite imperfection into my work.
Inspiration often comes in really raw and a backwards. So if I tell myself I have to do everything perfect I would never write a word.
You can do yours however you want but I really suggest you adopt this mentality whenever you write in your little book. You need to allow yourself to write gibberish at the start.

I then went and did my little pen holder slash bookmark which is basically just a ribbon with some stretchy material stapled onto the back. I cut small holes so it could hold my pen and then decorated it with only one single button instead of the six that I bought originally.

Here’s a photo!

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This is the end result of my notebook, so let’s opens it up and discuss what goes into a notebook like this one.

 

The inside of a writer’s notebook.

First I started off by writing my name on the inside.
You see when I was little we were given these little girly diaries with the small lock and everything. On the inside there was always a space to write down your name so anyone who found it would know that it’s yours. I still do this today because of more reasons than simply for if I lose it.
I like acknowledging that the little book is mine because for some reason it helps certify to me that this little book does indeed belong to me and everything I write in it is my own. It’s like saying this little book and all the wonderful pieces of junk on the inside is mine. So hands off.
This of course goes along with some contact details for in case I do actually lose it.

 
The second page is dedicated to a simple list of my projects.
This probably shows more about my personality than I would like you to know because it really highlights how goal driven I am. I like seeing what I’m busy with right at the beginning of the book so I can have parameters within to work so I can keep focused.
Not everything that goes into the little book has to do with my projects but I still like reminding myself that these are the most important things I’m working towards and that I shouldn’t let myself get too sidetracked by all the inspiration I gather.

 
This leads me to the third and fourth pages which are dedicated to story seeds.
If I have a vague idea that can be summed up into a line or two it goes onto these two pages.
This has always been one of my favourite parts of my writer’s notebook because these ideas tend to come at bizarre moments and later on when I feel like writing I can use them for prompts that will almost certainly inspire me.

 

Those are the only really set pages I have for any notebook so I’m quickly going to give you a list of 5 other things you can put into a writers notebook.

 
• Progress report: You know those main projects that I showed earlier on page two? Yes pick one of them and find a way to measure your progress with it. Set a few goals within the project and then make tick in little boxes as you work towards it or something.

 
• Character file: Draw a stick figure of your character and then get writing. Figure out what a character’s name is and work on making them real within the pages of your notebook.

• Short practices: This one should be really obvious. If you feel like writing grab some inspiration and just start writing anything and everything down. Focus on what words you use or how you are expressing the scene. Even if it’s not perfect at first you’ll have a solid idea down on paper when you’re done.

• Draw plot maps: There are different kinds of plot maps and so I suggest you go figure out which kind works for you and then you can use your notebook to build your ideas into stories.

• Write down encouragement: This is a little silly of me to say for this kind of notebook. Normally encouragement goes into something more like a personal journal but I think you can work it into this sort of notebook too. When you feel unmotivated just go to a page and after taking a deep breath write down all the reasons why you love writing. It’s a good exercise and then if you feel unmotivated again later you can return to it and be reminded why you write.

 

I really believe that writing on paper is good for you because it doesn’t have a backspace, which I think is really important when you’re just trying to get ideas down.

 

There are more things you can put into a notebook but I’m going to leave you here and let you go and experience it yourself. So go now and finish that notebook of yours and get writing.

 
Although, before you go – answer me this:
Are you new to the whole writing journey or have you been on your way for years now?
Any comments are welcome!

New year and a new writing lesson

Happy new year – the phrase you’re probably hearing, slash seeing for the hundredths time between today and yesterday. Gosh even I’m starting to get tired of the phrase and I absolutely love this time of year.

It’s very possibly my favourite time of year. January just has that energy you know, where people are slowly rolling their shoulders and straightening their backs so they can charge this new beginning. There are kids who are excited for going to first grade – or in other words the “big kid’s school”. There are young adults who are finally planning a year that doesn’t involve school and who looks forward to meeting new people in university.

It’s also a time where people set goals and create lists and let themselves start to dream about the new year and all the things and places and people they’ll see during it.

I myself have been a complete sucker to the whole experience this year. You see what I didn’t write about in December – like I should have – is that I’m walking into 2017 with a new hairstyle, wardrobe, mindset, and goals with a decent holiday behind my back where I did a bunch of exciting stuff that range from spelunking, to swimming and movie marathon-ing and many more things.

New Year new me – that’s the other thing I’m getting tired of hearing; but I love it anyway.

So with all the excitement of it bumbling inside me I decided on a proper topic for this month’s blog posts and that is… inspiration.

This is becoming the ultimate cliché for me to write about because I’m certain I’ve written a blog post series on it nearly every year for the past two years.

Who cares – I’m doing it again. This time, a little different.

No ‘you can do it’ inspirational speeches. No ‘how to gather up inspiration’ tutorials, or anything else like that.

Instead I’m going to make this first post really simple and about one definite topic.

How to find inspiration in the world around you.

Life isn’t always easy but there are lot of story ideas hidden around you if you care to look for it. (Yes this whole post is writing related)

So let’s get into how you can search and find those ideas and inspirations.

Mindset: Positivity.

I don’t know if those who know me would agree with me on this – but despite the fact that I struggle with positivity, I like to think of myself as a positive person who sees the bright side in most situations.

It’s an important skill that, like most others, I taught myself.

I mentioned this right off because I believe that being positive is part of why we manage to see inspiration in bad places.

Somewhere in the past two years I was feeling really anxious to that point where my lungs seemed to close off and I felt as if I couldn’t breathe. I clutched my head and sank to the floor as I tried to dislodge the twisted thoughts running through my head. Then suddenly I found myself smiling amidst the bad feeling. Not because I was feeling any better but because it occurred to me then that at least I can write about that specific feeling as well. If my characters felt scared or anxious I had real life experience to draw from. That’s pretty cool isn’t it?

So I’ve been cultivating this sense of positivity so whenever I’m in a bad situation I can actually see all sides to it and then later exploit it for a creative base.

Not to mention, being positive actually makes you enjoy the happy moments more too. You’re mind is more likely to notice all the details of a moment when you’re positive about it than when you’re negative.

(Please note that there is a difference between being positive and ignoring all your problems. Please let me know if you want to delve deeper into this topic)

Action: Sight seeing.

The second part of seeing the world in a more inspiring way is to actually go out into it.

At home I come up with about three story ideas daily. That may sound like quite a lot but it’s not really anything compared to what I find when I’m away from home.

This holiday I’ve been on so many great places; I’ve seen mountains that look like giants, oceans that smell so strongly of salt that I can nearly choke on the air just standing on the beach, horses that gallop along muddy tracks, rivers that cut deep paths though the ground and many more wonderful things.

Sure you can read four to five books about owls on the internet but it’s not the same as going out and seeing an owl face to face.

The more input you get from the world around you the more things you have to add to the inner world of your stories, it’s as simple as that.

Input: Read a lot.

Let’s say it again.

Read. A. Lot.

Anything and everything with words on was meant to be read and so you should go right ahead and do just that. Read books in the genre that you want to write in – this will give you an idea of how to write. Read books outside of the genre that you want to write in – this will give you insights that your genre can’t give. Read magazines and brochures. Read those pamphlets at the doctor’s office; even if they’re scarier than the doctor himself. Read advertisements and wonder about how much work and study is behind it – was there an artist involved? Any psychology?

Read with an open mind and let it sweep into you and your work.

This will not only add to your skill level but also give you more ideas. It give you things to think on and show you that funny books is just as good as depressing books. You’ll find ideas that you wouldn’t have even thought about before.

Lastly: Talk to people.

People are these complicated bundles of stories, passions, sadness, hopes and fears.

There is this joke among writers where we say we’re going to put people who cross us into our books and then kill them.

Violent? Yes. Funny? Maybe.

More to the point though, putting fragments of people and into your stories isn’t technically a bad thing. You want your characters to be people and not just clichés.

So talk to people and actually listen to what they have to say. That funny story that they tell every time you hang out with them might actually be perfect for your next book (even if it is simply back-story)

The heart of a story (or at least mine) is in the characters and so you want people to relate to them. Pay attention to the people around you so you can integrate that human aspect into your characters. Each person you meet has their own story to tell and so have potential to be a character.

There you go then, I’m done. Now remember to keep a phone or a little booklet with you at all times so when these ideas strike, you can jot them down without any hassle.

On my phone I have colour note for this (although if you have any other apps to suggest go ahead) and in my handbag I carry a notebook at all times. (A tutorial about setting ne up will be coming out next week)

Now you’re going to go out there and enjoy this New Year with all its energy for change. Go and write that thing you’ve always wanted to write and most of all enjoy the journey.

Tell me where do you get most of your inspiration?

Any and all comments welcome!