Paula Writes

Paula Puddephatt – Author

How To Believe in Yourself and Your Dreams — February 12, 2019

How To Believe in Yourself and Your Dreams

how-to-believe

This is the core message of the Paula Writes blog: Believe in Yourself and Your Dreams.

I regularly repeat and emphasize the message, through my various social media accounts.

This is intentional, because these words of positivity and hope are central to everything I do, as a writer, and as someone with an online presence. Not a huge following, by any means, but a definite online presence, which I use to reach, help, and inspire others, in any way I can.

It’s especially important to me to help those who struggle in life, including with mental and physical health issues, and in particular, those who lack support from those around them, such as family and friends, and medical services.

These people are often made to feel marginalised, excluded and invalidated, and sometimes this is actually done in a deliberate and strategic way. Society, as a whole, shuns them – or, I should say, shuns us.

There is already a Believe in Yourself and Your Dreams post on this blog, in which I discuss the philosophy. I highly recommend that you visit that post, if you haven’t already.

I felt inspired to create a How To Believe companion post, which is what you’re reading right now.

So, let’s get into the tips. Beyond the words – how do you actually believe in yourself and your dreams, for real?

Positive affirmations would be my first suggestion.

Statements that you repeat to yourself daily, either out loud or in your mind.

You can also write them down, which is powerful, in and of itself.

Affirmations are most effective when you use the present tense, stating them as what already is.

Even if you don’t entirely believe your affirmations, your subconscious mind will absorb them, without judgement. You don’t need to convince your conscious mind that the words are true, in order for them to have a subconscious impact. For those of us who suffer from anxiety and depression, and struggle with extreme self-doubt, this is good to know.

Tune out and drown out any negativity, including from any less than supportive family members.

This isn’t easy, but it’s essential. People who are dismissive of your dreams, and put you down, won’t help you to believe in yourself. To believe in your ability to achieve your goals, and make your dreams a reality.

Find sources of inspiration, such as books and specific You Tube channels, and the people you can surround yourself with who do help you to stay focused, and to keep believing.

And double down on the affirmations, because those will also help to drown out the voices of those who tell you that you can’t be successful.

Don’t compare yourself to others.

Be inspired by people you admire and respect, and learn from those individuals.

But never forget that you have something unique and valuable to offer: something that only you have to give. Do you, and don’t negatively compare yourself with anyone else.

In the end, it’s a case of knowing in your heart that you do matter, and your dreams do matter.

Keep moving forward, no matter how slow progress might be at times. Pause when you need to, but don’t stop.

 

Believe in you. Keep believing. Do anything you can to remain inspired and motivated. Believe in yourself and your wildest dreams.

Write that novel, that series of novels, your poetry, or short stories. Take photos, or create awesome paintings. Whatever it is for you. Believe and act, and live life to the best of your ability, in your own incredible way.

 

Believe in Yourself and Your Dreams – Subreddit

 

 

Positivity, Challenges, and Hope — July 22, 2018

Positivity, Challenges, and Hope

positive-hope

I feel the need to expand upon my recent post, entitled When Positivity Feels Fake.

The fact is, I continue to go through extreme challenges, health problems, and so much that I find terrifying and overwhelming. My positive outlook is 100% authentic – and yet, sometimes I don’t feel this way at all, or even close. The future appears dark and uninviting. At times, it’s hard to even see a future. And yet, I do – of course I do.

In terms of consciously appearing more positive online than I really feel – yes, I continue to do this. In many respects, it helps me. And I haven’t particularly reduced the time that I spend on social media, as I indicated I might. Social media can be draining at times, but on balance, it benefits me, and I deeply value the connections I’m able to make, in this way. It’s also a distraction. So, I don’t know which way I will go with it all, but for now, I will remain active online, as and when.

My novel? Not forgotten, but it’s not easy right now. I definitely don’t plan to abandon the project, long-term.

And the blog – well, here I am, right? I hope to start producing more writing craft related posts, in the future. Whatever happens, it would be good to continue with the blog, in some form. A heartfelt thank you to everyone who gives positive feedback, about the blog’s content. It means the world to me, and encourages me to keep going.

I would just like to mention how amazing I’m finding Pinterest. In recent days, my traffic has reached an all-time high, and almost all of it is coming from Pinterest. If you’re a blogger, and you aren’t on there yet, then you should start up an account right now. That simple.

More from me soon. Sending love and best wishes to you all. I appreciate you so much.

My post about health issues, self-acceptance, and being a writer relates.

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When Positivity Feels Fake — July 15, 2018

When Positivity Feels Fake

positive-fake

I’m going through too many issues right now, that are terrifying and overwhelming. It’s been one thing after another, to the point where I’m reeling.

And it does become increasingly challenging, to authentically share positive messages, via my blog, and various social media networks.

I can only do authentic – and equally, can only do hopeful and inspirational. At least, on balance – as I have never denied the darker aspects of life. To do so, would not, in fact, be true positivity.

I deeply appreciate the encouragement that I do receive, but sometimes the lack of support and acknowledgement from people, claiming to be “family” and “friends”, is hurtful. Maybe, according to their “tick box system”, I’m not seen as contributing much to society or “working hard”. I think that says more about any of them than it does about me.

I hope to resume blogging at some point, and am aware that I haven’t written much about writing craft lately. Right now, my WIP is not progressing much at all, and I don’t work consistently on the project. I’m scared, for many reasons, to officially put my novel on hold, but I’m making so little progress that, in some respects, it already is. As for my blog, I feel that an “Out of Office” sign is appropriate right now – and that’s, effectively, what this post is, or feels like.

I’m also going to be less active on social media. I don’t know to what extent, as yet. I’m sure that my follower counts will feel the impact, but that’s life. Those who truly care, and enjoy my posts, will stay.

I’m not going to add many links with this one – only to my posts about mental and physical illness and being a writer, and my personal approach to writing about mental health in fiction.

Update to this post: Positivity, Challenges and Hope.  And you are welcome to find me on social media.

Mental and Physical Illness, and Being a Writer — May 5, 2018

Mental and Physical Illness, and Being a Writer

health-writers

Writing is my therapy and my passion.

I write to survive. At times, that is literally true. If it wasn’t for my writing, I truly believe that I might not be alive today.

I struggle with various mental and physical health issues.

These multiply, over the years. That’s the nature of chronic illness, unfortunately. I have always struggled with dyspraxia, depression and anxiety, and these conditions have had a huge impact upon my life.

And writing has helped me.

It has saved me. It has been the splash of colour on the dark canvas of my existence. And yes, life has often felt like mere existence. It’s not a question of being unable to appreciate the beauty the surrounds me daily. In fact, I would say that the ability to value life’s seemingly most simple gifts has been greatly enhanced.

But yet, there are moments when the darkness takes over, and I wish for nothing but release from the unendurable pain.

And, even though writing has helped me, it has also been a source of stress.

I struggle with stamina, and with concentration, and find it painfully hard to complete long-term projects, such as the novel, on which I am currently – very sporadically – working. I dislike not being able to write blog posts in one session, and run the risk of abandoning them altogether, because of this. I’m learning to return to posts, but still find it difficult psychologically.

Self-criticism is also challenging.

It’s hard not to give up, when the voices in your mind are telling you constantly how useless you are, and to delete your writing and blog, and close down all the social media accounts you’ve put so much effort into building. And, of course, there is the external discouragement, on top of this. There are those who are supportive, but not everyone is, and many are the reverse. For me, that includes most family members, and many “friends”.

So how do I keep going?

Because I ultimately want and need to. Because sometimes, I do receive positive feedback, that clearly comes from the heart. Knowing and feeling that I am actually making a positive difference – that maybe someone feels less alone, after reading one of my poems, or even just being told that a writing technique, mentioned in one of my blog posts, has been useful to someone.  Encouragement like this truly can, and does, make all the difference.

And because of my characters – because they cannot exist without me and, in that way, are my children.

They are a part of me, and need me, as I do them. And that may not make sense to everyone, but to many other fiction writers, it will.

I am going to close now, but might return to this subject, in the future. Keep believing.

And, if you’re interested in mental health, from the point of view of writing fiction, addressing these issues, my post on this subject may be of interest.  Also related is the post about my personal writing journey.

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Writing About Substance Abuse in Your Fiction — March 11, 2018

Writing About Substance Abuse in Your Fiction

write-drug-alcohol-addict-fiction

Drug addiction and alcoholism are challenging, controversial, and complex to write about, but I personally choose to address both, in my fiction.

I do have personal, although not recent, experience, in the areas of problem drinking and volatile substance abuse – but not of using illegal drugs.

There are many resources that can help with our research online, but definitely, a lack of material dealing specifically with how to write about these issues, in our fiction. I hope that this will change and, even though I can by no means claim to be an expert on substance abuse, I’m going to share what I am able to, at this point in time.

I did touch upon the subject of drug and alcohol abuse, in my post regarding how I address mental health issues, in my fiction. Mental illness and addiction are closely related, so I would suggest reading that post, for further insights.

Now, let’s get into the tips for writing about characters with substance abuse issues.

Just one more quick note first, though – to mention that addiction covers much more than substance abuse. I recognise that addictions to gambling, shopping, and so on, are very real. I simply can’t deal adequately with those, in the context of this one post.

Drug addiction, alcoholism, and binge drinking are also subjects that feature heavily in my WIP, making it natural that I would make it a priority to discuss these matters, here on my blog.

 

It’s vital to know about the physical effects of any substances your characters are abusing.

That’s the absolute minimum, so start your research there.

Know how the drug alters the personality and behaviour of your character.

If a character is introduced to readers prior to the addiction, contrast and changes will be easier to demonstrate. Early warning signs should be evident.

Know in yourself, at least, how the character was before. It may mean delving into back story. Was there any trauma, in the character’s past, that contributed to development of the addiction?

There will be some perceived benefits.

What does the drug do for the character? Does it numb physical or/and emotional pain? Ease symptoms of anxiety? Alcohol, for instance, is often used in an attempt to self-medicate, by sufferers of social anxiety.

There will be specific ways, in which the addiction clearly controls the character. Make sure that you show some of these.

How does the person fund their habit?

Any committing of crimes, such as burglaries? Has the addict become a dealer? And, of course, to say that it is not easy to escape those networks, is an understatement. Attempting to do so could place the person, along with loved ones, in very real danger. This would be an obstacle to recovery, even if the character was able to “get clean”.

How have relationships with family members and friends, who are not themselves addicts, been affected?

People, however close, will draw the line somewhere, and most will, ultimately, walk away. So much damage will have been done, possibly over years or decades.  There can come a point, at which the strain is more than the relationship can take.

Usually, an addict will reach a crisis point – rock bottom, basically – and then decide to change.

Is your character able to give up drugs, drink, or both – as applicable? Does the individual subsequently relapse?

Do your research regarding the long-term health implications.

There could be serious, and even fatal, physical health consequences. Equally so with mental health. The addict is at an increased risk of suicide.

Access your own inner darkness.

Even if you haven’t had the precise experience that you’re describing, you can probably relate, on some level, to aspects. If you were drawn to write dark fiction, in the first place, there’s a reason.

Survivors understand survivors. Research the specifics, but beyond that, write from the heart.

 

Writing about drug addiction and alcoholism is no easy task, but I hope that these tips will guide and inspire you, as you attempt to realistically portray substance abuse, in your fiction.

 

More specific information, regarding substance abuse and addiction

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Child Death in Fiction: Dealing With Tragedy in Your Writing — March 9, 2018

Child Death in Fiction: Dealing With Tragedy in Your Writing

address-child-death-fictionElizabeth-Jennings-poem

I have already written posts about killing off characters, and the grief experienced by those left behind.

I would suggest reading both of these, if you haven’t already, as much of the information is applicable here, and I won’t duplicate everything.  My post about how I approach mental health issues, in my fiction, also relates.

I felt the need to address child death, in particular.

It’s such a specific, and heartbreaking, subject – and one with which I myself deal, in my fiction.

One way in which child death can occur is following a terminal illness, and this is something with which I actually haven’t yet dealt, in my own work.

In such cases, the child, along with loved ones, could have potentially been fighting a long, excruciating battle, which he or she has finally lost. The story may have been following the characters throughout the exhausting process of hoping and praying, and trying out various treatment options. The grief, when the death finally takes place, could be laced with a degree of relief – and, at the same time, guilt, for feeling this way. Of course, all of this would apply, no matter how old the person was, who had died in this way. But something like this happening to a child would make everything that much more intense, and add an extra layer of tragedy to the outcome.

Then there is death by sudden illness.

Again, this hasn’t come up in my own writing. An example that comes to mind, however, is cot death. Shock, and possibly total disbelief and denial, are likely to be reactions. Guilt, blame, and questioning.

Accidents, resulting in death, are an area in which I do have experience, from a writing perspective.

For me, this has generally been in the form of road accidents. In terms of how it will affect loved ones, there is certainly much in common with the sudden death due to illness. Shock and denial are likely – as are the guilt, blame and questioning aspects. Some of the close family members may be witnesses. Of course, that could also be the case with the cot death example. But with a car crash, it’s very possible that some of the child’s family were actually involved. Survivors’ guilt could be an issue, and it may even be that the accident really was the fault, or partial fault, of whichever family member was in the driver’s seat.

Miscarriage is another form of child death, and can be overwhelming, and also isolating.

The effects can be felt by fathers, siblings and others, as well as the mother. And there can be a lack of validation, because people don’t generally regard the loss as a bereavement, in the usual sense. Which it still very much is. A couple in my novel, who later lose their daughter in a road accident, do also lose a baby, prior to this, through miscarriage. The double loss, along with other relationship problems, contributes to the mother’s eventual breakdown, and effectively, the disintegration of the whole family.

Abortion results in an even more complex form of grief, and is one of the most controversial, and deeply painful, subjects out there.

One of my characters does have an abortion. Her pregnancy is the consequence of her being raped, at the age of fourteen. The girl’s own mother bullies her into going through with the operation, believing that she is doing the right thing. However, the guilt, along with the loss of her baby, leaves the young girl feeling suicidal.

And yes, suicide is another form of death, which it is too easy to avoid, as writers.

Again, controversial, dark, and complicated. And, in my view, too important to be ignored – or worse still, dealt with poorly.

When it comes to child death, in its various forms, I believe that we do need to go there, in our fiction.

Research any specific issues that come up, in connection with your particular stories. Also, allow yourself to go deep, and feel the raw emotions. When you find yourself able to do so, you’ll know that you’re doing your characters justice. And potentially, your novel could be a source of support and hope, for many of your readers.

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Character Bereavement: Writing About Grief in Your Fiction — February 10, 2018

Character Bereavement: Writing About Grief in Your Fiction

addressing-grief-fictionIt was always my intention to write a post along these lines, following on from the one about killing off characters.

I have noticed that a decent number of writers produce blog posts and You Tube videos about character death, but that very few really delve into the aftermath. Yet, grief is very real, and cannot be ignored in our fiction.

There are various theoretical models of grief, and of course, none can hope to explain the complex and often overwhelming process, which is rarely, if ever, linear.

Probably one of the best, and most widely used, divides grief into 5 main stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

Your characters, having lost loved ones, will need to go through the various stages, although not necessarily in order.

It’s perfectly possible that, in the course of the story, you won’t show every stage. Sometimes, a time lapse means that characters have passed through much of the intense anguish, and reached a point of resolution and healing, by the time the story continues.

Also, the story itself may end too soon to take the character through the process. The reader can only imagine how he or she might cope, long-term, with the loss.

If this is how it works out, in the context of your plot, then that’s fine, but it’s important to examine your own feelings, and ensure that you’re taking the right approach for the particular story. To skip over the pain of our characters, because we ourselves cannot face it, is a huge compromise, and will result in shallow, somewhat empty versions of the tales that, in our hearts, we long to tell.

All of us, during the course of our lives, have surely experienced grief: multiple times, in various ways, just one of which is bereavement.

So definitely, it makes sense to draw upon own experiences and memories – and it would be hard not to, to some extent.

At the same time, you should know your characters intimately, and the exact ways in which the loss affects them, will become obvious to you, as you allow yourself to really feel, and stay with, their pain.

As with any other aspect of storytelling, you should show more than you tell, and be specific, rather than general. This is what will make the situation seem real to the reader. Consider any religious or spiritual beliefs that your characters hold, as these will obviously be important.

Of course, the nature and circumstances of any fictional death, the age of the person who has died, the precise relationship to each remaining character – these are all factors that will come into play.

An elderly relative dying of a heart attack, compared to a child being knocked down by a lorry. Vary that yet again to a baby lost due to miscarriage – or abortion. There are so many variables that generalised writing advice will never be adequate. I can only emphasize that the pain needs to be experienced and honoured – and subsequently, portrayed.

For specific advice on writing about child death, please see my post on that subject.

If a grieving character experiences symptoms of PTSD or clinical depression – maybe has panic attacks – research these issues, as fully as you can.

Even if you’ve been through something similar yourself, do your research anyway, because each person’s experience of the same conditions is going to vary. It’s worth taking the time to be thorough, in order to make your work as authentic as possible.

I did write a post about my own approach to mental health and related subjects in my fiction, which may be of interest.

Take your time, and allow yourself as many writing breaks as you need.

Ultimately, what matters is to do justice to your story and characters. Don’t rush them through their grief, just so that you can finish your novel sooner. Your book could end up helping real people through their own darkest moments. It has to be worth taking longer, and going deeper, in order to achieve that.

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Why Write About “Depressing” Subjects? — February 5, 2018

Why Write About “Depressing” Subjects?

why-write-depressing

This post was originally published on my previous blog.

So, why would anyone love writing or reading dark fiction?  Or survivors’ poetry?

In December 2017, I did publish slightly revised versions of two other posts: one regarding my personal writing journey, and another about writing modern historical fiction.

I considered also republishing this one, but decided against it, at the time. I didn’t see it as a priority, because I have other posts that cover much of the same ground, including one regarding my approach to mental health issues in my fiction, and another about the process of writing dark fiction. There are also elements that overlap with my post on character development.

However, on balance, I have decided to go ahead, and share it again.

I feel that there is enough here that could potentially be of value, and it doesn’t do any harm, in my opinion, to revisit some of the same subjects, when they are ones that are close to our hearts. So here goes…

I don’t know where to start with the subject, but it’s an important one, so I want to address it.

I know that more people are familiar with my poetry than my fiction, as there isn’t much of the latter “out there”, as yet. The fact is that I deal with dark and controversial subjects throughout all of my writing. I am focusing more upon my fiction here, although much of what I say applies across the board.

Firstly, my fictional characters are not me.

They each contain aspects of myself, to varying degrees, but none are me, as such. That isn’t how fiction works.

Some experiences of certain characters are heavily autobiographical, but there will always be fictionalised aspects, and it shouldn’t be important for a reader to know what is based on my actual life experiences, and what is not.

That’s not to say that readers won’t, or even shouldn’t, be interested – and often, I will be happy to clarify and share my own stories, since I’m a naturally open person.

There is definitely an element of therapy to writing for me, that is essential to my survival – to my sanity, such as it is.

I do write to explore subjects and situations because I’ve been through them myself, or something similar.

Yet, this is not always the case.

I have had, for my writing, to research subjects, including heroin addiction and abortion, and many others, of which I have no direct, personal experience. Is it “depressing”, if you like? Yes, at times. I would say it is deeply painful, and also makes me more compassionate – and, at times, paralysed by my own inability to fully understand, and do justice to the subjects.

The social issues won’t go away by ignoring them.

That said, is it sufficient that many of us attempt to write about them, in our fiction? Isn’t there more that we can and should be doing? Sometimes it isn’t easy to know what to do, but I can’t close my heart or mind to these themes, to which I feel drawn.

I’m so restricted by my own health and circumstances, and I don’t have the answers – only more questions, and they replay, on an endless loop, inside my mind.

I think that the best answer is that I would find it more depressing to ignore the issues, and I don’t know if I will ever achieve what I ideally want to through my work, but I just have to keep going. I hope that this made at least some sense.

Follow me on any or all of my various social media sites, where I regularly share writing related posts.

When Life Happens, and Writing Doesn’t — January 11, 2018

When Life Happens, and Writing Doesn’t

The title says it all, about where I’m at, right now.

when-life-happens

Health issues are happening. Stressful life events are happening. Writing? It will come. Pressure from within is the last thing I need – and guilt.

Baby steps are the way forward.

Starting somewhere, as opposed to either everywhere or nowhere.

New year, new start.

It isn’t exactly working out that way. Yet, now and again, I hear my characters’ voices, letting me know that they are still there, inside my heart and mind.

As for the blogging – well, this is my second post of 2018.

Such as it is. There will be more, and they will be better.

It’s okay to struggle sometimes.

That’s what I would tell anyone else, after all. It isn’t always easy to believe in yourself and your dreams, but since when has anything worthwhile been easy, right?

Previous related posts include one about procrastination, and another about slow progress.

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Believe in Yourself and Your Dreams: Core Message — November 23, 2017

Believe in Yourself and Your Dreams: Core Message

believe-in-yourself

Just a brief blog post, for now. I wanted to give specific attention to my core message. More than anything, throughout my writing and various online projects, this is what I am telling others.

Please also see my How To Believe companion post.

As someone who struggles with chronic physical and mental illness, I don’t always find it easy to believe in myself and my own dreams.

I would say that my message is aimed, more than anything, at those who need to hear it – the people out there who find it particularly difficult to believe in themselves and their dreams. These are often the ones who, in many respects, have the most to offer.

Yes, everyone struggles – but no, not to the same extent.

Some of us struggle much more than average, with daily life. It can often be a case of running, simply to stand still.

I believe in you.

So, yes – believe in yourself and your dreams. They are words, nothing more, but they are powerful. Too many people out there will discourage you, if you are vulnerable – but I want to be the one who tells you that your dreams are not “unrealistic”. They are achievable. Keep going, and eventually, you will get there. We will get there.

I recently shared a post about how I deal with mental illness and related topics, in my fiction. This may be of interest.

Find me on social media. I also have a new Facebook group for writers, called Writing Forever, where I hope to build a supportive, positive community.

Jane-Austen-House-Museum

 

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