Posts in Journal
What I learnt about writing online from Zoella and other YouTubers

My husband laughs at me. My teenage son rolls his eyes. And my daughter, she's eight, asks 'are you watching Zo-ella, again?' She's already learnt the art of taking the Mickey.

And, to answer her question, yes. Yes I am. As I write this I'm watching Zoella's Vlogmas from 2016. Her countdown to Christmas by vlogging every day in December. And I'm thoroughly enjoying it.

During Vlogmas we see her house dressed up with Christmas trees, we see her laughing hysterically with her friend Mark and supermarket shopping with her boyfriend, Alfie. We open her advent calendars (yes, plural) with her, see her takeaways and her oh so cute black pug, Nala dressed in various seasonal outfits. It's all very tame, very homey and it's certainly not an expletive or action packed video. She bakes banana loaf, goes to garden centres, describes what clothes she wearing and puts on make-up whilst chatting to her audience. Her more recent videos, where she shows her (incidentally, gorgeous) new house, has time lapses of her tidying cupboards. 

You might be thinking...huh? 

I know. I understand.

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Failure to Moisturise

I look down at my shins and they're flaking with dead skin. My elbows are hard and catch on my cardigan. My facial skin is not much better. Puffy eyes, spots, flat. There's no glowy, dewy skin anywhere near here.

For many years, particularly since I had children, I didn't think I was worth taking care of. I wasn't worth spending money on. Buying a moisturiser that suited my skin, getting my hair cut and coloured, taking vitamins, even drinking water. I avoided all of it.

For my children I would look through the Boden catalogue and buy them cute outfits. My son and daughter had eczema as a baby and I researched the best cream for them*. It was pricey (at the time) but I didn't think twice. They were worth it.

But was I?

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Why does writing make me feel so guilty?

Over the summer holidays, during a much needed break, I made a decision. 

But before I tell you my decision let's go back to January 2017.

At the beginning of this year I had a set of goals. This was to create a portfolio business consisting of my blog, Instagram, my newsletter, writing magazine articles, exploring the possibilities with my chicken drawings and writing my non-fiction and novel.

In my notebook I wrote:

In three months I will have a healthy business, writing and drawing, and will be making an income from it.

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Fourteen Years on from PND

My son was fourteen last week.

Let's pause for a minute there.

Four-teen years old.

One minute I was worrying about him starting school, shedding a few tears as I walked away from the school gates, and the next, he's a strapping teenager about to start year 10 and gearing up to GCSEs.

Setting aside the fact I can still remember taking my own GCSEs I'm a bit shocked that I'm a mum to a six-foot boy, a young man who can rest his chin on the top of my head.

If only I'd known he would be a strong, independent, healthy, intelligent young man twelve to fourteen years ago. During those two years I suffered from depression after suffering from PTSD related to birth trauma. A bittersweet time (mainly bitter) that shrouded me in guilt for a long time during and after. Thinking I'd scarred him for life.

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Sharing stories & being brave

I've always enjoyed telling my chicken and nature stories on my blog but I got distracted by 'niching' and 'writing for an audience' instead of simply telling the tales I wanted to tell.

Whilst I was on my holiday last week I had that time away from my laptop and thought about how I wanted to spend my online time. And I knew it was by sharing stories about my chickens, ducks, writing, reading, baking - so that's what I'm going to concentrate on.

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Share the blog love

I'm winding down for a few weeks of summer rest and recuperation. I think this is so important. Not only for your own creativity, allowing your mind to switch off, wander, allowing sparks of imagination to come out of nowhere, but also mentally. It's not possible to just keep going all of the time. And I've learnt that the hard way.

But before I take some time away I wanted to talk about blogging. It's following on from my last two posts, really, where I spoke about writing what you want to write, not worrying about 'niching down' and ignoring the experts who are telling you to do one thing with your blog when your heart is telling you to go another way.

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Is social media stifling creativity?

Facebook rather (over)excitedly told me yesterday that it was our ten year anniversary. I had been on Facebook for ten years. Which means I've been blogging for slightly longer, and tweeting for slightly less.

In this decade of social media I've seen many creative endeavors evolve and grow.

There was the rise of the blog becoming a book deal. The film Julie and Julia (one of my favourites) came about because of Julie Powell's blog. Or we have the Belle de Jour blog which became a book and, later, a TV series with Billie Piper. 

Back then social media was used to chat. 'Water cooler' chatting. Writers, working on their own all day, would come together to compare word counts and commiserate or celebrate accordingly.

Blogs were like diaries. A place to share writing. A place to be anonymous or to share projects.

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