Creating

So yes, I’m writing a book…

Have you ever heard the one that goes a little something like this:

There once was a man who used to pray to God every night that he would win tattslotto. He would get down on his knees, look up at the sky and beg God, please God please, let me win tattslotto. And then one night God answered. His big voice boomed down a reply from the heavens above and do you know what he said? Help me out here man, buy a ticket. Ha!

I’ve realised recently that I’ve had exactly the same attitude towards becoming writing a book. For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to write a book and have that book published. But you see, to make that happen, I would first actually have to write a book. Seems obvious right? Well yes, it is, yet it’s something that I have yet to do, or even give a go really. I mean there was that one (rather feeble) attempt last year for NaNoWriMo but apart from that, my book has been nothing more than an idea, a dream, for many, many years.

So last week, I decided I’ve had enough of waiting, enough of the excuses (enough of praying to God if you will) it was finally time to take action and write the damn book. I announced it on social media; not because I wanted people to pat me on the back, say well done or offer any type of congratulations (though I did get that, which was lovely). No, I actually posted it for accountability. Because I know now that I’ve put it out there people might just ask me from time to time ‘hey, how’s that book of yours going?’ and I want to be able to give an answer that doesn’t entail me looking down at my feet, shrugging and offering some lame excuse as to why I have done anything about it.

Anyone who has read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert would know of her theory about creative ideas having a life of their own. The concept being that ideas find their way and attach themselves to people and if you don’t do anything with those ideas they will move on to someone else. She provides a (quite amazing) story about this great idea for a book she once had that she began to research but then gave up on and never wrote. Years later, another author wrote that book. The exact same story she had planned to write. The concept of the book was very specific, very unique and Liz had never shared the idea; there was no way this other writer could’ve have ‘stolen’ or copied the idea. The thought of that happening to me and my book idea actually scares the crap out of me (wouldn’t I just kick myself if that happened) and has been the final motivation I needed to get started.

So yes, I’m writing a book and it turns out it’s nothing like the book I have always thought I might write. It’s a young adult (YA) fantasy/sci fi…I don’t even really read sci fi, it’s never particularly been my thing, yet there it is. I think I’ve tried for many ideas to ‘come up’ with an idea for a great book and it’s always felt a bit forced. But this one? Well it’s just like Elizabeth Gilbert says; it seems to have a life of its own and has just come to me, out of nowhere and it just keeps coming, shifting and shaping…and I’m excited to see where it takes me.

So yes, I’m writing a book.

What have you been up to lately? Ever attempted to write a book? Ever wanted to?

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Reading, Watching, Listening.

When it comes to finding new books to read, shows to watch and podcasts to listen t,o I often base my choices on recommendations from others. So this week I thought I’d share with you what I’ve been reading, watching and listening to lately…check it out, you might just find something you like.

Reading: Over our summer break down the beach I finally got to read Me Before You by Jo Jo moyes. I devoured it over a few days and really enjoyed it. There is a sequel book, After You, but I’m yet to decide if I want to read it. I feel like the story finished as it should and wonder what more there is to say. I’m not sure if the sequel will be too depressing? If you’ve read it I’d love to hear your thoughts! I’ve also got the movie sitting at home ready to watch, I’ve been told to have the tissues ready.

I also recently finished reading Motherhood and Creativity: The Divided Heart by Rachel Power. I won a copy from the beautiful Lauren (aka- Me and My Girl.) She told me I’d love it and I certainly did! In the book, Rachel interviews a number of well known professional creatives (from actors and writers to painters and musicians) about how they juggle motherhood and their creative pursuits and how one affects the other. Whilst I am by no means a ‘professional’ creative I could certainly still relate to much of what was said. It was a really interesting read and I discovered so many common themes threaded throughout. If you are a mother and a creative soul you, this book is a must read.

Watching: Last week hubby was away overnight for work and so with the little man sleeping soundly next to me I finally got to sit down and watch The Minimalism Documentary on Netflix. I’ll be completely honest and say that whilst I’ve heard a lot about The Minimalists I’ve never actually read or listened to any of their stuff, so I thought I’d start here. I loved it and fell in love with Josh and Ryan (how could you not love them?) And I’ve since starting listening to their podcast. Whilst I don’t think I could ever be as hardcore minimalist as these guys I can certainly relate and agree with a lot of what they have to say.

Listening: To podcasts, all the podcasts! Here are some of my favourite episodes that I’ve listened to lately:

No Filter- Mia Freedman interviews Jodi Picoult: Rather than listen to the No Filter podcast in order, I just pick out the episodes that I’m interested in. So of course when I saw that Mia had interviewed my all time favourite author, Jodi Picoult, it was at the top of my list and it didn’t disappoint. I also loved her interview with Kasey Chambers and Rebecca Sparrow.

Conversations with Richard Fuller: with Jon Ronson, author of So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed. I’ve had Jon’s book on my ‘must read’ list for quite a while now (I really must get to it) and after listening to this podcast episode I want to read it even more! In this interview, Jon talks about some of the most famous cases from his book and gives a really interesting insight into not only the real stories behind them but also what happened to those people after they were so publicly shamed on social media. It’s quite sad how one small moment or action can literally ruin people’s lives. It’s certainly mad me rethink what I choose to share my social media pages.

The Well: The Grief Episode. I listened to every episode of The Well last year, except this one. I wasn’t sure if I could listen to it, I knew it would be a tough one but eventually, alone in the car one day not long after Christmas, I finally did. Listening to Robin and Rebecca talk is like listening in on a conversation with friends and this episode was both touching and insightful.

What have you been reading, watching and listening to lately? Got any good recommendations for me?

 

 

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That’s a Wrap!

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It seems we say it every year but man, this year has gone so fast! Christmas is over for another year and next week it will be 2017. This is a time when we often sit back and reflect on the year that was and so today, I wanted to look back on this blog and share with you my top five posts for the year (based on views, readership and comments). I’ve also provided a little update on where I’m at today with the things I spoke about in these posts. So here we go, my top five posts for 2016:

The hardest decisions are sometimes the right ones: In this post I talked about my decision to give up working from home. At the time I was working two social media management jobs, plus freelance writing. I took a couple of months off but there was one job in particular that I really, really missed and so I ended up going back to it but with a promise; that I would not work when my son was home. I’ve kept that promise, managing to do the bulk of the work when he is at kinder. Sure, there’s an odd phone call or text message sent here and there but on those days when he isn’t at kinder or it’s the weekend it’s family first all the way! I’m just doing a small amount of hours each week and that’s working well. I’ve been tempted to take on more but I know it’s just not the right time and that’s ok.

Habit, Addiction and the Challenge: It’s no surprise that this post seemed to resonate with so many people. I think we’re probably all a little guilty of using our phones and social media too much. I’m ashamed to say that I have definitely fallen back into some old, bad habits. I pick up my phone way too much. I scroll mindlessly way too much. It’s purely habit….and bad habits can be heard to break! This might be something to work on in the new year.

I will be ok: The response I received to this post was overwhelming. I received tons of comments, messages, emails and phone calls from both friends, family and strangers. I had people confide in me that they too suffer from anxiety. I had people tell me that they appreciated me telling my story because it helped them to better understand someone in their life that has anxiety. I’m happy to say that I’m doing much better. I am now on some new medication, which seems to be working really well and I am visiting my counsellor regularly. More than that, I’m learning it’s ok to ask for help and sometimes rely on other people without feeling guilty (something I will probably always struggle with).

Creativity and Career: This is also one of my favourite posts. It’s the moment I realised that I don’t need to make a career out of my creativity in order for it to be valuable. Since this post I’ve continued to enjoy creating for enjoyment; I write, draw, take photos and paint…sometimes I share these things, sometimes I don’t. And I love it, I enjoy it, I need it. Creating things will always be good for my soul.

One Step at a Time: Following this post I received the results from the skin specialist. Whilst it came back that the lesion wasn’t skin cancer he still wanted to remove it. But I was hesitant. I’ve had bad experiences in the past of doctors being  little too knife happy and I really don’t want to go cutting into my face unless it was necessary; especially when he said he wouldn’t refer me to a plastic surgeon but rather do it himself under local anathestic in the chair. So I sought a second opinion. My GP also looked over the results and agreed that unless I wanted it removed for cosmetic purposes the spot was fine to stay. So stay it has. I will continue to keep and eye on it and monitor any changes.

So that’s it, a round up of my most popular posts for 2016. I will be taking a week or two off blogging to enjoy some time with my family but I’ll be back in 2017, that’s for sure. But for now, that’s a wrap!

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NaNoWriMo- What I Learnt

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As many of you would know, this year I signed up to participate in NaNoWriMo (national novel writing month) for the very first time. The goal? To write a 50,000 word manuscript during the month of November. I managed 12,227 words. Now, for me it was never really about the words, I said that right from the beginning, it was more about the experience. I have never written a book before, I’ve never even tried, so I was really interested to see how I would find it. NaNoWriMo was something I was using to hold myself accountable, to at the very least, make a start. I started off great, managing to keep up the first week or so but then it all got pushed to the side when my mental health took a nose dive. Then, the most important thing for me became that. The story went out of my head, the characters left because my mind was focused elsewhere, it needed to be. And that’s ok, life happens. I learnt so much in just that one week and 12,227 words that I certainly don’t regret signing up and I am far from feeling a failure. Instead I’m thinking about all the things I learnt and how they will help me become a better writer in the future.

Here’s what I learnt: 

I learnt about the gap. If you’re not aware of what the gap is, let me explain. The gap refers to that space between the story in your head and the story on paper. It goes like this: you think up this story is your head and it’s amazing. The characters are so real, the story is captivating. And then you go to write it and it just doesn’t come out the way you picture it. You can’t find the right words, the right description, it just doesn’t seem…right. Writers hate the gap. It’s our goal to close the gap. And for me, I discovered the gap was large. I had/have the story in my head, the characters are all there, major plot points etc but when it comes to actually getting that out…it all came out a bit wrong. Closing the gap is something I really need to work on.

I learnt writing a book is hard. I mean of course I knew that, if it was that easy everyone would write an award winning novel and get it published straight away. But as I was writing I was really wondering how people do it; like literally. Not only does it take time and talent but also a lot of patience and perseverance. I’m not sure that I will ever have that type dedication. I mean writing a draft is one thing but then reworking and rewriting that draft, pulling it to bits and then having others pull it to bits, sometimes often for years, well, I just don’t know that I’d have that in me. It just makes me admire my favourite authors even more.

I learnt the need to put perfectionism aside. Particularly when writing a first draft. At the beginning it was slow going, I kept rereading over what is written, fixing up parts, trying to get the words just right. Then I realised if I ever wanted to finish I just couldn’t do that. It’s like Shannon Hale said “I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.” I like that.

I learnt I need to work on my creative writing. Everyday writing, blog posts, opinion pieces, social media, that all comes quite easily to me. Creative writing? Not so much. When I was a kid and into my teenage years it was the only way I would write. But it’s been years. Maybe I’ve lost that, or maybe I just need to find it again. Maybe I need to do some short courses, polish my skills or maybe, just maybe creative writing just isn’t my thing. Time will tell I guess.

I learnt there is always time for writing. Even if your life is busy, you work,  you have kids, whatever; you can always make time for writing if you really want to. Simple as that.

And so, that’s what I learnt. If you joined in NaNoWriMo this year I’d love to hear how you found it. What did you learn?

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NaNoWriMo

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Last week I signed up for NaNoWriMo. For those of you who don’t already know, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. It is an annual online event where participants attempt to write a 50,000 word novel in one month (November). I’d been thinking about joining in this year (for the first time ever) when a friend posted that she was doing it and encouraged me to do the same. I’ve always wanted to write a book; there’s always been an excuse not to, but right now, I really have no excuse. I’m not working at the moment so I have the time (albeit only about twelve precious hours a week whilst my son is at kinder) and I do have an idea… of course it’s only fear holding me back. But, like my wise friend said I can not do it and still be in the exact same place in a month that I am now or I do it and who knows….at the end of the day at least I will be able to say I’ve tried.

I am under no grand illusions that writing this book will actually lead anywhere, that’s honestly not why I’m doing it. I’m doing it purely for the experience, to see if I actually can do it, to see if I can take the ideas in my head and put them into words, shape them into a story. It’s been so long since I have even attempted to write fiction. I used to do it a lot when I was younger but now I have no idea where to even start! So I’ve been reading some books, (On Writing by Stephen King and Bird by Bird by Anne Lamont to start) seeking some advice and then last week I received perhaps the best piece of advice of all from published author Wendy Orr who told me “Support like this is fantastic and these books on writing are great but never forget that it’s your own journey and you’ll find your own path as you do it”. And so I’m going to try really hard to remember that when I start my journey next month (thanks Wendy).

Have you done NaNoWriMo before? Are you joining in this year? Any tips or pieces advice you have for me?

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DIY Project: Dark to white wooden cabinet for under $30!

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A couple of months ago my Mum was doing a clean out and decided she wanted to get rid of an old cabinet she had and asked if I wanted it. I looked at the cabinet and could immediately see it’s potential and how great it would look in white  but because of it’s curves and intricate details I decided it would be way to much hard work to sand back. So I took a pic and popped it up on my facebook page to see if anyone else wanted it. The amazing Pip Lincolne commented straight away, something to the affect of “Don’t get rid of that. It would look amazing painted white!” I replied that I agreed but couldn’t be bothered sanding it all back. “You don’t need to” replied Pip “Check this out“. Turns our Pip had written a post about painting a similar cabinet without the need to sand. Say what?! I immediately removed the post from my facebook page (before someone else snapped up the cabinet) and headed off to read Pip’s post.

DIY Project, dark to white wood cabinet, chalk paint, www.sarahdipity.com.au

Unfortunately there wasn’t a stockist of the Annie Sloan chalk paint nearby so I headed to our local Bunnings to see if they had something similar. Turns out they had lots of chalk paint, just not the colour I wanted! So I asked the helpful Bunnings lady who told me that I could totally make my own chalk paint, it was super easy and cheap too. Winning! So yes, turns out you can make your own chalk paint by mixing normal paint with Plaster of Paris.

Here’s what I used:

Plaster of Paris ($7 for a 1kg bag. You only need a very small amount but this was the smallest bag Bunnings had).

Paint (I got three sample pots totaling 1.5 litres. $7.50 per pot).

Paintbrushes (I already had some at home but you can pick these up from Bunning for a few dollars).

Door knobs (I had some I wanted to use at home but again you can get these from Bunnings for a few dollars).

Total: $29.50

Here’s what I did:

Mixed 2 1/2 tablespoons of Plaster of Paris with 1 1/2 tablespoons of cool water. Then I added 1 cup of paint and used an old wooden spatula to mix it all together thoroughly.

Dusted off the cabinet and removed the glass; I could easily do this as the cabinet had little swig tabs holding the glass in place but if I was unable to remove the glass I could’ve easily just taped around the edges.

Slapped on the first coat of paint…and I really mean slapped on. My five year old helped do the first coat and we all know how kids paint!

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I allowed it to dry for a few hours then put on a second coat. Once that dried I then put on one final coat of just plain paint (without the plaster of paris mixed in) to give it a bit more of a glossy finish. I screwed on some new knobs, put the glass back in and voila, the finished product….

DIY Project, dark to white wood cabinet, chalk paint, www.sarahdipity.com.au

Add a few pretty pieces to and I’m in love…

DIY Project, dark to white wood cabinet, chalk paint, www.sarahdipity.com.au

What do you think? Now that I know this can be done so easily I have my eye on a few other old pieces we have lying around in the garage to fix up! Stay tuned…

blog signature, www.sarahdipity.com.auA big thank you to Pip for her super helpful advice!

 

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On Being a Hummingbird

the flight of the hummingbird elizabeth gilbert, www.sarahdipity.com.au

The other week my life coach sent me a video to watch with the message “I just watched this and thought you would appreciate it as well.” It was a presentation by Elizabeth Gilbert (who I totally love!) titled Flight of the Hummingbird: A Curiosity Driven Life.

If you haven’t watched it, I’ll give you the basic run down. Liz started off by talking about how for the past few years she has been preaching about ’following your passion’. She’s given speeches and written books about it; hell she’s lived it. From a very young age she knew she wanted to be a writer, it’s all she ever wanted to do and she worked at it and chased that dream until it inevitably happened. And so, her message has always been ‘find your passion and live it and don’t let anyone or anything stand in your way’.

But recently, after a presentation she gave when in Australia, she received an email from a lady who was in the crowd. She told Liz that she went along to her presentation hoping to be inspired but left feeling disappointed. In fact, Liz had made her feel like crap. Why? Because this woman didn’t have a passion. She had spent many years searching, she had listened to people like Liz bang on about ‘following your passion’ and all it did was make her feel as though something was wrong with her. Because she didn’t have a passion. As she said ‘I think if I did have a passion, I would know’. She didn’t know what that thing was, that one thing that she just knew she was destined to do or be. The email caught Liz off guard and caused her to stop and reassess everything she believed, everything she’d been selling to the people for years. What if you don’t know what your passion is?

So now, she talks out against passion and instead encourages people to follow their curiosity. Liz explained it in this way; some people are jack hammers; they have this one goal that they know they want to achieve and they chip away and work hard at it, doggedly, until eventually they get there. And other people, well they are more like hummingbirds. They flit about from thing to thing, flower to flower; following whatever draws their eye or sparks their curiosity. Perhaps they don’t know what their passion is, or perhaps they have so many different passions, so many interests that they don’t quite know where to start. And the thing is, it’s ok to be a hummingbird, in fact it’s kind of awesome. And listening to Liz speak I realised, I am a hummingbird!

I’ve tried many different things in my life; different interests, courses and fads. I have started two university degrees and finished neither. I’ve had a couple of little businesses; they either failed or I just decided it wasn’t what I wanted to do. I have ideas, so many ideas; business ideas, book ideas, ideas that come to me in the middle of the night, or while I’m driving my car… yes I have lots of ideas. Maybe that makes me sound fickle; maybe other people roll their eyes at me and think “here she goes again…” But I don’t care. The thing is I’ve always held a steady job; I’ve worked for the same employer for over twelve years. I’ve never quit my job or moved across the country on a whim and I know that I never will. Because I’m just not that’s sort of person. I’m a practical creative (if there’s such a thing). I like to dabble and explore options on the side; I’ve never been one to put all of my eggs in one basket. I like to learn and try new things and I will stick at it until I find I’m just not enjoying it anymore and then I will stop and move onto something else. And after all the things I’ve done I have no regrets. I’ve learnt so much and I figure every time that I do something only to discover it’s not what I want to do, well, that just brings me one step closer to finding what it is that I really want to do. And besides, I would rather do all the things than do nothing at all!

So yeah, I’m a hummingbird and I’m damn ok with that!

Are you a hummingbird? Do you like to follow your curiosity? Or are you more like a jack hammer? Have you always known what you wanted to do with your life?

If you want to watch Elizabeth’s full presentation click here.

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When Opportunity Comes Knocking

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A few months ago I wrote this post about learning to let go of expectation, especially when it came to my creativity and career. I wanted to let go of the idea that I had to be making from my writing or other creative pursuits in order for it to be worth something. It didn’t mean I was giving up on my dreams it just meant that I wanted to get back to doing things I enjoy just for the pure love of it. And I’ve been doing just that. I’ve been writing a lot. I’ve been reading and visiting new places and meeting new people and it’s been so great. And isn’t it funny that when you put yourself out there and learn to let go of expectation that’s exactly the time when opportunity comes knocking. And it has, quite a few times recently. In fact I had one crazy day the other week where I had four different creative job opportunities offered to me…yes all in one day. Some were just little opportunities, one quite big. Each of them was exciting and appealing in their own way. But of course I couldn’t say yes to them all could I? And that’s where learning to say no comes in.

Saying no has never come easily to me. I’m a people pleaser and often suffer from the dreaded FOMO. Too many times I’ve found myself in the position where I’ve said yes to something that I really didn’t want to do. So for each and every opportunity that has presented itself to me recently I have forced myself to stop and really think about it. I’ve asked myself is this something that I really want to do? Is this going to help me achieve my dreams? It’s so very easy to be lead astray by the lure of money but I just remind myself that money can’t buy happiness. It’s so easy to get caught up in the excitement of a new job but I just remind myself what my priorities are. So, I’ve learnt to say no and by saying no it has left me with the space and the time to be able to say yes to the things that I really want to do and that is an awesome position to be in!

It’s as simple as this; you need to know what you want out of life so that when opportunity comes knocking you’ll know if the opportunity is the right one for you.

Have you had any great opportunities presented to you lately? Do you find it a struggle to say no?

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50 Ways to Find Your Inspiration (free printable)

Ever lost your mojo? Stared at a blank computer screen or an empty notebook? All creative types face it at some point; a lack of inspiration. That’s why I’ve created this free printable 5o Ways to Find Your Inspiration. Click here to download it. Print in off, stick it on your noticeboard, your fridge, in your workspace; refer to it when you need it. Pick and choose what works for you and let inspiration come!

Find Your Inspiration, www.sarahdipity.com.au

What do you do when you’re lacking inspiration?

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