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

 

 

Increasing Your Productivity as a Writer: Some Tips — February 11, 2019

Increasing Your Productivity as a Writer: Some Tips

productive-writers

Often, as Author Bloggers, we write the posts that we ourselves need.

It’s one thing to understand the theory behind the tips that we give. And another entirely to implement them, and do so consistently.

So, that’s the disclaimer out of the way. I’m a work in very slow progress – as is my novel. As such, I may be the best or worst person to advise on productivity.

That said, here are some ideas that will hopefully help you to increase your productivity, as a writer.

Firstly, don’t be vague.

“Write novel”, as an item on your To-Do List, sounds intimidating and overwhelming.

Be as specific as possible, when setting tasks for yourself. Break them down, and down again, until they become actionable items, that you can imagine doing.

It’s easier to know whether you’ve actually done what you set out to do, if you’re working towards a clear goal.

Eliminate distractions, whether that involves turning off the TV or disconnecting the internet.

Whatever it is for you.

Sometimes I write in notebooks. Yes, the old-fashioned paper variety. Those can’t be used to access: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, You Tube…! Basically, this could apply to any sites or apps that you might personally find distracting. You can’t access any of them through a paper notepad.

Use incentives.

Whether you prefer to use the term “reward” or “bribe” is your decision.

Either way, do it, if that’s what it takes. If it works for you, it’s worth it.

Track your time.

Identify where your time is currently being spent – and possibly wasted. That’s the first step towards changing your routine.

A system, such as Timeblocking, may then be able to help you.

Batching can help.

I hope to improve at this myself.

Task switching is a major problem for many of us, and batching is great, because similar tasks can be done together, and in advance. This definitely tends to be more efficient, and means that you spend less time chasing your tail.

So yes, definitely one for me to work on.

Finally, knowing when to stop.

I’m so bad at this one. I’m always scared to stop, once I finally get started on a particular task, for the fear that I won’t return to it.

Unfortunately, there’s substance to the fear, as many times, I don’t go back to unfinished tasks.

But binge writing sessions aren’t healthy, and can push us too far, mentally and physically.

In my own case, I neglect basic self-care, such as staying hydrated, in order to get things done, and that isn’t sustainable or sensible, as an ongoing method of working.

I’ve experimented with using timers, and hope to try this again. But the most natural way for me to approach things is the same way I’ve always done.

 

So, there you have it. I’m not a super productive writer, but would love to be. And these are my tips on increasing your productivity, as a writer.

I won’t even pretend that I’m not being hypocritical by giving advice on this subject, but hopefully, this post will help you, anyway. And we can live in hope that I will actually take at least some of my own advice.

My Writers’ Block post may be of interest.

 

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.

Find me on social media.

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.

Find me on social media.

How I Schedule Social Media Posts For Free – Part 2 — November 19, 2017

How I Schedule Social Media Posts For Free – Part 2

automation-2

I shared a post recently about how I schedule my social media posts.

If you haven’t read that, I would suggest that you do so, before reading this.

As I mentioned before, I primarily use Twittimer for scheduling Tweets – and also regularly use Buffer for posts that I decide to send simultaneously to Twitter, Google Plus, and my Facebook author page.

I’m trying to schedule more posts to my Facebook pages via their native scheduling system – but am not currently consistent, in how often I actually go on to Facebook. I try to keep up with regularly posting on my various Facebook pages, and I also want to ensure that my author page on there offers more than simply duplicating a percentage of my Twitter posts. That’s the aim, anyway.

I mentioned that I had signed up for Social Oomph, and used it a few times, but wasn’t yet particularly familiar with it.

Since then, I have discovered a little more, by trial and error. I wasn’t using it much, because I couldn’t see much advantage, over Twittimer and Buffer – especially given that it doesn’t allow posts to be saved and reposted, even for a limited time, unless you upgrade to the paid service.

However, I did experiment with using Social Oomph, exclusively for my poetry graphic posts, partly because I could do with all the scheduling help I can get, should I decide to have a week or more away from social media, over Christmas and New Year – but that’s a whole story, in itself.

Anyway, I expected it to stop me from scheduling, once I reached the standard ten posts, but it didn’t – and I don’t know what the limit is, because I have apparently not reached it, as yet. I have scheduled poetry and writing advice graphics for the rest of the year, and so far, it is working out well. It isn’t as efficient to physically use as Twittimer and Buffer because, with the Social Oomph free package, you do have to add save the text part of the post initially, and then go back into it, via the edit function, to add any images.

Because I’m now using multiple schedulers on a regular basis, I’m attempting to be more organised – always a challenge for me – and am developing systems, so that I avoid posting more than one update at identical times.

I am also, increasingly, sticking with a “this scheduler for this type of post” system. Hopefully, I can manage not to become completely confused and overwhelmed…!

Sending love to all of my friends and social media followers. You’re awesome. And for my long-suffering Twitter followers – a heartfelt thank you, and I am aware of my tendencies, such as over-Retweeting in batches, and maybe still over-posting in general, on occasions. It’s a journey, like everything else in life, and we’re all learning constantly. Thank you to everyone who has supported me, and inspired me to keep going.

Believe in yourself and your dreams.

Find me on social media.

Writing Dark Fiction — November 11, 2017

Writing Dark Fiction

dark-write

I wish that I could write consistently, but this isn’t possible for me, for various reasons.

Apart from anything else, there is one week in every month when I cannot write, due to the severity of my PCOS and endometriosis. I also have other restrictions, caused by my physical and mental health, and personal circumstances.

There is another reason for the slow progress on my novel, and believe me, this is frustrating – but I do have other ongoing projects, and everything ties in, anyway – so I’m not achieving as little as I myself often feel.

The other reason for my lack of progress is that I do write dark fiction.

I wrote a post some time ago, on my previous blog, regarding why I write about so-called “depressing subjects”.  Note: Updated version, on this blog, now exists, also.

I know that I can never make it “easy” for myself, because my heart is in control, and insists that I write about what really matters – that I do not ignore the darkness, but face it, head on, in my fiction. I will never churn out cutesy romance novels – and, no, I have nothing against such novels, and part of me might even envy authors who can write commercial genre fiction, that fits in and sells. It isn’t me. My plots and characters do overwhelm me, and I don’t feel able to write every day.

I’m terrified that I won’t be able to do justice to the stories that I have to tell, but I must try.

It’s my vocation, my passion – so much more than a career, which it is not, as yet – and definitely more than a hobby. Please don’t refer to anyone’s writing as a “hobby”, unless you know for a fact that the writer in question regards it as such – because it is honestly the ultimate insult, for most of us.

I feel that this was “all over the place”, but hopefully it made some sense. I wrote a short post recently, which included details of my various social media sites, and this is currently the best place to find out where I am online: my different pages and projects.

Keep believing.

Slow Progress is Still Progress — November 3, 2017

Slow Progress is Still Progress

progress-slow

My last post was about how I schedule my social media posts.

The other side of this is content creation. I mean, we need something to schedule, right? And we can only recycle old posts so many times, before it becomes too much.

Most of us know that we need to post consistently – that we need to provide valuable content to our audience.

I think that, at some point, we all struggle to keep up with this. Maybe some people don’t, but I’m not one of them.

Personally, as someone who struggles with multiple, chronic health issues – both in terms of physical and mental health – I find it hard.

It’s rewarding. It keeps me going. It inspires me to carry on, some days. Yet, still – it isn’t easy. Not that anything worthwhile ever is, or should be.

The part that drives me crazy is that I have this habit of talking myself out of my own ideas, whether it relates to my novel – “work in very slow progress” – or an idea for a blog post.

It’s frustrating, to say the least.

Anyway, I’m working on it.

I do want to be more consistent with blogging, and with working on my “work in slow progress”.  I wrote a post about procrastination, which does seem to tie in with what I’m saying here.

Keep believing. More soon – hopefully…?

Find me on social media.

keep-believing

 

 

How I Schedule Social Media Posts For Free – Part 1 — November 1, 2017

How I Schedule Social Media Posts For Free – Part 1

automation-1

I’ve started to schedule social media posts this year, and it’s awesome.

I’m on a very limited budget, and have only ever used free services, which currently works out fine for me.

As a slightly related side note, I have to say that disconnecting Twitter from my Facebook profile page was the best thing I ever did.

Shortly after, Tumblr randomly “decided” to disconnect from Twitter, also – and, again, this has turned out to be a blessing. Each platform is different, with its own audience and atmosphere, and I really never tuned in to Twitter or Tumblr before. I used them both principally as ways to indirectly post to Facebook. My approach to social media has completely changed, and I now regard Twitter as my main social media site. That said, I am more active on my Facebook poetry page, Vibrant Darkness, than I have been in previous years, and I have also launched my author page, focusing more upon the fiction side of my writing, and a page dedicated to retro music, from the 1980s and 1990s. I also have a blog and Twitter page, covering the retro music side of my interests.

The main scheduler that I use, on a daily basis, is Twittimer.

I use it for updating my primary Twitter account, and I can’t speak highly enough of it. It’s straightforward to use, and meets all of my requirements. You can schedule up to ten Tweets at a time: text, images and links. I’ve only ever had a handful of “failed Tweets” with this app, and have always, in these cases, been able to do “send now”, after which my Tweet has been posted.

I also use Buffer, and this is set up to post on Twitter (main account), my Facebook author page, and Google Plus.

Again, they allow up to ten posts to be scheduled for free, and text, images and links are all fine. I’ve had slightly more failed posts than on Twittimer, but still an extremely low number, as a percentage of the number of posts sent. In general, the failed posts do eventually send, although there have been a handful that were lost entirely, and a few posts that didn’t make it to one or more of the connected networks. On the whole, however, Buffer works beautifully – and their customer service is excellent.

I’ve recently joined Social Oomph, and so far, that is working fine, but I can’t see it taking over from Twittimer or Buffer.

If you do want to use this as a free scheduler, I’ve got a quick tip. It gives the impression that you won’t be able to upload images, unless you upgrade to the paid version. This isn’t the case. You have to initially save your post as text only, but later, there is an option to add an image. I’ve only linked Social Oomph to Twitter.

I use the native Facebook scheduler for Vibrant Darkness, my author page and 80s/90s Music.

It’s easy to use, and there is the option of scheduling posts further in advance.

After not touching Tumblr for approximately ten months, I recently went back on there, and discovered their queueing system, which I absolutely love.

Currently, my Tumblr posts ten times daily, during the time frame I specified, and it’s working out well.

A couple of days ago, I tried out Tweet Deck, for posting to my 80s/90s Music Twitter page.

I found it slightly awkward to use, but it did work, and I will hopefully use it again soon.

So, there you have it: a few highlights from Paula’s Adventures in Social Media Scheduler Land.

The adventure will continue and, if my systems change over time, I might write another post on this topic, at some point.

Quick update: There is now a Part 2 for this post.  You can also find me on social media.

Believe in yourself and your dreams.

Sylvia Plath: Not a “Suicide Poet” — September 26, 2017

Sylvia Plath: Not a “Suicide Poet”

term-suicide-poetpoetry-prose-Sylvia-PlathFirstly, I would like to dedicate this blog post to my friend, and fellow survivor poet, John Hirst, who passed away recently.

John and I discussed this subject via Facebook, not so long ago.

sylvia-plath-poetry-quotes

Speaking as someone who has been deeply inspired by the works of Sylvia Plath, I don’t find it acceptable that people refer to Sylvia as a “suicide poet”.

For a start, many of the writers whose works we still enjoy, are no longer with us – and yet, how many of these are referred to by their causes of death?

You don’t hear them spoken of as “heart attack novelists” or “stroke poets”. Why, then, define Sylvia by her cause of death? It is often assumed that she wrote mainly or exclusively about mental illness, suicide and death, but that just goes to show that many are judging, without having read much, if any, of her actual work.

The most dangerous aspect, for me, is the glamorization, for want of a better term, of Sylvia’s suicide.

Anyone who has actually read her, heavily autobiographical, novel, “The Bell Jar” – and, yes, that does deal with the subject of mental health – will not come away with the impression that there is anything glamorous about mental illness.

And that ties in with my final point – that Sylvia was a writer, and not exclusively a poet.

“The Bell Jar” is a fine example of moving, and beautifully written, prose. I would imagine that Sylvia’s mental health was a factor in why she was not more prolific, and this is definitely something to which I can relate. She was so much more than a “suicide poet”.

If this was of interest, I would recommend reading another of my posts, in which I explore the subject of mental illness, and my approach to the issue, in my own fiction.  Also, my piece about the challenges, as well as blessings, associated with being a writer, whilst struggling with both physical and mental health issues.

Find me on social media.

Believe in yourself and your dreams.

 

 

Procrastination: Why Writers Avoid Actually Writing — September 25, 2017

Procrastination: Why Writers Avoid Actually Writing

procrastinate-writersscariest-moment-Stephen-KingFinally, I’m writing another blog post – so let’s talk about this, right?

Procrastination. It’s a problem, and one with which many of us are familiar.

It’s a major part of why I can’t – or won’t – physically look at my work in progress (novel), for weeks on end, even though I am often experiencing vivid scenes from the story, in my imagination – even though I know that I will beat myself up about my own lack of productivity, until I actually get around to writing again.

It’s one thing to procrastinate when you really don’t want to do something, and external pressures are the driving forces.

When it’s our own dreams that are being shoved aside and sacrificed, it really is not okay.

I don’t believe that people procrastinate, on the whole, on account of laziness.

I think that perfectionism, and a lack of self-confidence, are often the issues.

I do think that giving ourselves multiple options can help. If we make one or two goals the priority, it creates resistance.

Certainly in my own case, once something goes into the “Big Thing” category, in my mind, the sense of panic builds up, and my brain sets to work, at finding every way possible to “get out of it”.

I will do anything but the “Big Thing”.

I will also refuse to give myself credit for anything that I achieve, in any other area, whilst avoiding said “Big Thing”.

And yes, my lack of blog posts is because these have also become a “Big Thing”.

Therefore, I’m writing this now, and it may not feel “good enough” to me, but it is something. These are definitely words, and this is some sort of blog post.

Keep the faith. Believe in yourself, and your dreams – always.

My post about Writers’ Block may be of interest.

Find me on social media.

writing-start-somewhere

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