Posted in My Planet, Writing Tips and Techniques

How to Write When You’re not Inspired – Part 1

“A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.”

                                                                                  Richard Bach

 

I used to think that I had to feel inspired to write before I could start. Consequently, I missed on important time practising my craft. This frame of mind resulted in all the great pieces I never wrote, the book of poems I never published, the play that could have been produced, the novel I could be about to finish.

Creative Notebook

It helps a lot to keep a creative notebook. Whenever an idea pop out, just write it down. If you hear a funny line somewhere, on a film, someone passing by, one of your kids, a friend, your wife, your husband, just write it down. A weird dream. Something in the news. You never know what brilliant and wonderful ideas might sprout from everyday mundane life. You can write it down, or you can cut a word, an article or even an image from a magazine and glue it to the pages. One day, it will pay off.

Don’t get too hung up on the word notebook, it could be a file on your smart phone, tablet or PC. I like notebooks, I keep a few, but recently I have started to use my smart phone, only because sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night with an idea and I might not remember it in the morning. Plus, I don’t always have my notebooks with me when I hear something funny or interesting, whereas my phone is almost always on me.

Three Things Exercise

I have a notebook where I do this exercise and I try to do it everyday, sometimes in the afternoon, sometimes in the evening, sometimes I start earlier and finish later. I like this exercise because it makes me aware of my five senses and it makes me look at the world in a more mindful way. It consists of a grid with six squares, one for each of the five traditional senses, plus one for a doodle. In each of the five senses I write 3 things I experienced on that day with that sense and in the last one I doodle something related to anything I write; a lot of the time it’s just a mug of coffee or a glass of wine, at least recently. Here’s an example of my pages:

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This are my two first tips to help you write when you’re not inspired to write. I will be adding more next week. I hope these help and happy writing!

Posted in My Planet

Social Distancing Diary – Week 8

white and brown wooden tiles
Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

I am not including the Covid-19 numbers here every week now. I decided not to track them every day, but at the end of the month instead. I think I’ve lost interest, I’m not sure why, maybe it’s been too long now on this situation. I’m afraid to say it seems to have lost its novelty effect. I still enjoy having the power to do what I want with my time and to spend time with my family, but I feel like I’ve lost the sparkle I had a few weeks ago. It could also be due to the pressure of finishing all my assignments to complete my PGCE. I don’t know.

PGCE

The highlight of the week was my lecture for the last module of the course, Literacy ESOL Theories and Frameworks. This was on Wednesday and it was really good seeing other people and having some interaction outside this house and this neighbourhood. That definitely gave me a sense of normality, for lack of a better word. Gave me a little structure to the day and purpose, such a shame there’s only one more left. In two weeks there is a presentation, which I already did, so I have the week off. But I still have to do a few tasks and the assignment is 3000 words. I think I am freaking out a little with the work load. All I need is a plan and to stick to the plan. I made a list of what I need doing until the 6th of June:

  • Lesson Plan
  • Teach Lesson
  • 10 Evaluations
  • 1 Reflective Post (1, 500 words
  • Level 7 Research Project (1, 000 words)
  • Viva for above project (10 minutes)
  • Assignment (3, 000 words)
  • Finish Professional Practice Portfolio

‘To Do’ Lists

It seems very daunting when I look at the list like this, but I need to break it down into smaller tasks and assign each day to each of the tasks. I just need to make sure I do something each day to give me a sense of accomplishment and motivation to continue working. I normally tend to make long ‘to do’ lists and never manage to complete every task in the list. So, from now on, I will chose 3 tasks to do every day. This is better to keep me focused because with a long list, my mind is easily distracted as I might start working on one things and then leave it to do something else. whereas with only 3 main tasks, I will start with one and finish it before moving on to the next. This will give me a sense of achievement and will make me feel more productive. I have started using the Fabulous app and the ‘Deep Work’ feature in it, which also helps to keeps me focused and to know exactly how much time I spend on each task. Also helps dividing the work in chunks, even if it’s only 25 or 45 minutes chunks. At least I know that I will be doing something for 25 minutes and won’t stop until I finish it, for example. I found that this is very helpful to reduce distraction time. I always take a little break in between chunks of deep work, which helps to stay alert and focused.

Creative Writing in Lockdown

I didn’t write anything new this week, but I edited a poem I’d been working on for about a year and I think I finally got it right, I published it in the Facebook group and got really good feedback, so that was good. There was some work published in the group and I am really enjoying reading everyone’s contributions.

Family Time

Phil made Costa ginger biscuits and a pineapple upside down cake this week and we had a BBQ on Thursday and another one on Saturday, that will show on the scales for sure! I don’t care because we enjoyed ourselves.

We played Uno this week, Sunday evening as we didn’t have a roast dinner for lunch after a BBQ the day before, it was fun.

Saturday evening Romina and I did some gardening and that was really good, the garden is looking better, but not good enough to display pictures yet, hopefully soon.

Stay Alert

The week ended with an announcement from the Prime Minister about the next stage of the lockdown. He changed the slogan to ‘Stay Alert’ instead of ‘Stay Home’. But he’s been highly criticised for this message as it is not as clear as the previous message, I think he’s appealing to common sense of the population, which I think it’s a risk as common sense is not a flower that grows in everyone’s garden, unfortunately. Sunday night, we were all waiting to hear his message, but for me, it was a bit of an anti-climax. I expected more details and maybe more specifics and there weren’t many. The construction and the manufacture are the industries which are allowed back to work first, which makes sense as they not in contact with the public and they’re easy to keep safe. And it’s good to start doing something for the benefit of the economy. But, the message is very vague and therefore not as effective as saying ‘Stay at Home’, that worries me a little.

 

Posted in 52 Poems, Poetry

52 Poems – Week 6

This week’s prompt is to write about the weather. The first thing that came to my mind, was how hot the weather was when my mother died and how hard it was for me to cope with it. This is a still very much a work in progress.

clouds during golden hour
Photo by Hoang Loc on Pexels.com

It was August 

It was the beginning of August

when my mother fell ill, rushed to hospital.

Not just any August,

this was a scorching summer in the Algarve.

Her weak heart quit two weeks later. Still,

the sun stayed stubbornly hot. How could

it be, when everything had changed?

The world would never be the same again,

yet the sun continued hot and shiny and bright

as usual, like she was still here to grill sardines,

for the family to enjoy after a day on the beach.

Like we could still go out for ice cream or gather

around for lazy afternoons around the table.

Why did the sky not show any sympathy

when my world collapsed? How could

there be any on joy on Earth?

Posted in My Planet

Social Distancing – Week 7

UK Cases: 186, 599 – Recovered: ? – Death Toll: 28, 446

Portugal Cases: 25, 282 – Recovered: 1, 689 – Death Toll: 1, 043

Worldwide Cases: 3, 582, 810 – Recovered: 1, 160, 120 – Death Toll: 248, 567

Looking at the current numbers worldwide, it quite reassuring to see that there are almost five times more people who recovered than the death toll. Even if in a smaller proportion, the recovered numbers in Portugal are also higher than the deaths. These figures give us a little hope for the future. However, I wonder why the figures of the recovered cases are not available for the UK. What I know is that for example, in Portugal, when you have been diagnosed with the virus you have to have two negative tests to be considered recovered. This has been changed recently to only one negative test for patients who have not needed hospital care. Whereas in the UK, I don’t think everyone who has been diagnosed has had a second test to confirm recovery, at least I know of a friend who was diagnosed and went back to work after two week recovering at home without having a second test. I find that worrying, she could be putting herself and others at risk, but what do I know?

 

Mood

The week started with a good mood on Monday, but it all went down on Tuesday when I woke up feeling like I’d been hit by a storm, tired and drained. I have no explanation for it, wasn’t just the status of my mood, I did feel physically exhausted. The weather was a little bitter that day for the time of the year and specially compared with the previous week. I could easily blame my mood on the weather, but I think it might be a little anxiety. I admit that I feel a little anxious about the end of my PGCE course, all the course work I have not been doing, the job search associated with the achievement of this qualification and even with the end of the lockdown. There are a lot of mixed emotions associated with the way I feel about the lockdown; I miss my son and grandson and all my friends and family, and also the freedom to do little things like just going for a coffee. But, on the other hand, I feel very comfortable on lockdown, too comfortable. It’s good to do what I want when I want, how I want, to spend time with my family and do things I didn’t do enough of before. For many reasons, I don’t want to go back. Definitely, not back to my life before this all started. Will I have the courage to change what needs changing?

Course Work

Luckily, by Wednesday my mood was recovered and I managed to finish my two first Reflective posts. I had already finished the first and started the second, but I ended up editing a lot form the first one and re-writing the second one. At least now I am happy with both and I feel more motivated to do the third one. I also found out that the Theories and Frameworks module had already started, but I wasn’t on the list, it’s all sorted out now and the damaged isn’t relevant as I have already attended some of the lectures last year and I even completed the first part of the assignment.  So, I’m feeling positive about this.

Creativity and books

I’ve not done as much writing as I wish I had, but I have started a drawing course on Skillshare, which I am enjoying very much. I have a few ideas for poems and stories brewing in my brain, I made a few notes but nothing has taken much shape yet. I have given the theme of loss and grief for the writing prompt of the Creative Writing in Lockdown group on Facebook. I have a lot of material for that one, I just need to decide which one to chose.

I have finished Normal People and started This is Going to Hurt, this is a very funny book that makes me laugh every time, it’s composed of diary entries by a junior doctor. But now I need a novel too, so I might end up with three books on the go and that’s not counting the poetry I am reading at the same time.

I interrupted the rug I’ve been doing in crochet to make some mask guards for the NHS as per my sister’s request and this was perhaps the highlight of my week. Nothing beats the feeling of doing something good.

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Lorenzo’s Birthday

On Tuesday, the 28th was Lorenzo’s second birthday and we went there to see them at a distance. It was hard! It is good seeing them, but is it so hard not hugging and kissing. That is the hardest part of the lockdown.