CHANGE: ENEMY OR ALLY? IT'S UP TO YOU!
Talk about change! It’s all on at home this month…
These short weeks of January have been my last with a pre-schooler at home. My youngest turned five this month, and that means starting school in the first week of February. It’s the strangest thing anticipating her not being ‘little’ anymore. She’s such a capable kid, and whilst she has the odd emotional moment and worry, she’s so chilled about it all (yes, I’m jealous!). She’s adept at taking things in her stride, plus she’s unbelievably lucky in having my sister as her first teacher at primary school, and her big sister and cousins to walk beside her through it all. She’s going to school knowing there are people there that love her already, and will always have her back. I envy her that (I’m an eldest child and didn’t know a soul when I started school). So, after a good month of summer holiday lazy days, we’re back to creating new routines and learning to stick to them.
We’ve already passed the first two of our many monumental birthdays for the year– my daughter’s fifth, and my father’s sixty-fifth. Instead of big shindigs, we’ve gone gently this year, celebrating with close family in informal settings – swimming at the school pool, lunches at my parents’ place, and we’ve spread out over several days. We’ve needed it that way with everyone having unseasonable colds and a few dramas early in the month. One of my family members joined a well-known local ‘club’ – the ‘I ‘parked’ in the harbour club.’ This day served as a reminder that it’s easy to do (most long-time peninsula people have a go at some time in their lives), and that we’re so incredibly lucky to live in the community we do; we know members of our local volunteer Fire and Emergency crew personally, and they came to the rescue with genuine concern and a humorous, caring touch. They pointed out to us, too, that my family stick together like glue – if one is in trouble, we’ll all turn up to get them out of it. In the space of a half-hour, said family-member had four vehicles and their entire immediate family on hand to transport children, pick up bits of vehicle off the beach, and clear out the busted car on one very wet day. I don’t fancy repeating that day ever again, but I’ve an increased appreciation for our emergency services, especially those whom do it on a volunteer basis.
Scary bits aside, my husband, children and I have spent the holidays catching up on rest, jobs around home, and occasional outings. We spent New Year’s Day with a rare trip to the movies to see Frozen 2. I’ll quietly recommend it here, because all four of us enjoyed it, and more than the first movie. I enjoyed this storyline more, and discovering more about the past of Anna and Elsa’s family helped the first movie make more sense. On a slightly disconcerting note, the message in the movie, following your inner voice and embracing change, mirrors where I am in my head at the moment. Elsa reminds me that I have to make the most of the challenges and changes my inner voice demands, and Anna/Kristoff’s, embracing change through uncertainty, reminds that I’ll make it through, especially with a positive mind-set.
My positives through change this month are: I’m about to have two children going to the same place each morning (no time-wasting multiple pickups and drop-offs), meaning I’ll have three days a week that will be my dedicated writing time; I’ll also have one less little person on my care days, and that in itself creates opportunities; it’s another step on my ladder to where I want to be in life, a little more freedom with children that are slowly growing into their independence so I’m regaining my own a little at a time. My inner voice strives for a successful writing career, and it’s up to me to make it happen, no one else. If I don’t go for it, I’ll forever regret the missed opportunity and wonder ‘what if…’
Let’s not miss those writing opportunities!
I’ve got a big opportunity with my three dedicated writing days (one of which I’m using today!). Sure, I won’t get three every week – I’ll have swap days with my little charges, and if I have appointments it makes sense to schedule them for a ‘no kids’ day, but it’s time I’ll have to make the most of. Luckily I’ve had the rare foresight to get prepared early. I set up my planner at the end of December, I’ve found tips and tricks to be more productive (insert links), and I’ve set goals, real ones, big ones, something I’ve been reluctant to commit to in the past. I’m looking at it as a rededication to what I feel is my ‘calling’ (my ‘thing read more here to find yours) and if I don’t give it a good go now, I might lose my opportunity.
January has been eye-opening in terms of how much work I can accomplish if I set goals and push to reach them. I set a time goal at the beginning of the year and have surprised myself by exceeding it by a large margin! (Check out more on goal-setting here: https://emilylarkins.nz/one-writers-life-blog/quick-tip-1-goal-setting-the-easy-and-doable-way) The beginning of February, however, has been more of a challenge pushing through the new routine with small people days, school trips, and just adjusting to the new routine. I’ve been tired and reluctant, but my super-short weekly reflection and planning sessions have reminded me of the positive feelings and achievements I’ve made, and that gets me fired up again, mostly. Tiredness is my enemy, but one I can eliminate by going to bed earlier! Now to actually do that…
Embracing change and striving all round…
Sometimes we just have to hold on and ride the storm, others we’ve got to push on through. Reflection and planning have proved to be so useful to me. Having my wee planner book (no matter how rough and ready it is), and writing down my reflections and plans sets it in concrete, along with the fierce intent to do better. Hey, it’s only taken 37 years to get my butt into gear on that one. It turns out my resistance (or rather, not-readiness) has held me back for a looong time, but no more!
I’m hopeless with change (mostly through my thinking, partially attributed to anxiety and depression in more recent years), though a friend reminded me recently that most people are knocked around by change in one way or another. We all wobble when it comes up, some more than others, but change is an important part of life, and if we find healthy ways of thinking to cope with it, it can be positive too (thanks Liz!). It’s just taken me a little longer to learn to find, and to embrace the positive.
Particularly over the last month I’ve run with the need to find tips and tricks to create a healthier and more successful way of ‘doing life.’ I’ve developed routines and rituals to follow, including re-setting my thinking each week through reflection and mindful planning (you can read more about this here https://emilylarkins.nz/one-writers-life-blog/self-reflective-journaling-improve-your-focus-in-just-ten-minutes-per-week), tweaking old ways (turning my haphazard jumping from task to task into mindfully time-blocked sections), and setting those previously dreaded goals (read more here https://emilylarkins.nz/one-writers-life-blog/time-management-for-authors-bloggers-or-anyone-with-a-goal-to-smash); I’m not in the sweet spot yet, but it all helps. I’ve had a largely successful January due to a bit of intent, and surpassing previous goals (heck, even last year’s tiny goals are coming in handy!).
In short, I’m learning to act deliberately more often, to embrace the home and work routines to my advantage in both areas together, and the boost I’m getting from achieving goals has lifted my mood – good for everyone in my house, myself included!
Have a great month everyone, especially those with littlies going back to school,
How has acting mindfully and with intent helped you in your home and work life? I’d love to hear from you in the comments .
What are writing prompts?
Writing prompts (or story starters) are sentences or short paragraphs, snippets of dialogue, character or setting ideas, or even images, that kick-start the creative process.
The purpose of the prompt is to inspire ideas in the mind from which you can start writing. There are literally thousands on the internet (Pinterest is a quick and easy place to find and save them for future reference) and you can take or leave what you like.
Not all prompts work for all people. What sparks you to pick one up might be a non-starter for me, just as what I’m excited about might be bland to you. It all depends on our different life-experiences, interests, and sometimes just the time of day or frame of mind we’re in at that particular moment. Images might be a stronger inspiration for you, or text might be your thing. Give both a go and use what really lights you up.
An effective prompt will give just enough to ignite your imagination without leading all those who use it down too narrow a path. There should be a multitude of avenues open for exploration so we don't all end up writing subtle variations of essentially the same story.
In short, a writing prompt is the spark that ignites an inspirational fire for your creative process.
How I use writing prompts.
In the beginning (when I was young and just developing a taste for writing), I thought prompts were just for getting started on a story. That's how they were used in my high school writing class after all. Now I've discovered different ways my writing can benefit from prompts:
The main use for a prompt is to either begin a story (like a first line) or drive the idea for a story (perhaps a dramatic event), but over my years of writing, I’ve discovered they come in handy in other ways as I mentioned above. Writing prompts can lead in a myriad of directions, and it’s all driven by you. You may choose to write a poem from a prompt, a piece of flash fiction, a short story, or a full-blown 100,000 word epic. Just choose something that really grabs you.
If you’re stuck, try a prompt exercise. I like to challenge myself with ‘close your eyes and point,’ set a timer for say fifteen or thirty minutes, and push hard to create a captivating piece. Whatever prompt on screen that I've pointed to is the one I use. This is a fantastic exercise to challenge your creative mind and may even lead to a publishable piece (it has for me).
I'm a big fan of Pinterest, and not just for writing. I'll talk about this more in another post, but there are a few resource boards I've put together that will be of great use to you when looking for great writing prompts. Feel free to use my Pinterest boards Write! Prompts By Emily, or Write! Prompts (collected prompts sourced from across the internet) for this. You can find links to them both below). Write! Images for Inspiration contains thousands of images separated into useful sections to help you narrow down where you want to go. The beauty of Prompts By Emily is that they’re all numbered, so you can use a random number generator or pick a random number yourself before you open the board and let the universe decide!
So what next?
Now it’s time to go hunting for yourself. I’ve added 34 of my most popular prompts to this post as an exclusive printable PDF. Feel free to save it, share it, and use it as you like. Also, pop on over to Pinterest to see more fantastic prompts. My original prompts are on my Write! Prompts By Emily board. At the time of publishing this post it contains 245 little gems. The found prompts I love and have collected over time are filed under Write! Prompts. There are over 650 story starters there from a wide range of sources and covering a myriad of genres. Write! Imagery contains hundreds of inspiring images that are sure to capture the imagination.
Most importantly, have fun, be inspired, and get writing!
Click the file download below to claim your FREE printable pdf. It contains 34 of my most popular original prompts. This resource can't be found anywhere else, it's available exclusively for my wonderful readers!
If you’d like to know more about writing prompts, or if you’d like some more ideas for using them, let me know in the comments below. If you have favourite prompts that you think I’d like, or other ways of using prompts, please send them on through too. Pop on over to my Resources page for thousands of useful writing tools on a range of topics from getting started in writing, right through to publishing and marketing yourself. I’m all about sharing and helping other writers with their creative process, so please get in touch!
Wishing you all an inspired writing day!
Three quick examples using different prompt types...
A found prompt (from Pinterest):
I struggled up through the fog of sleep, thicker than usual, and with an unusually bitter taste in my mouth. When I sat up on the edge of the bare mattress my head spun like I'd been on the teacups ride at a themepark. I needed a drink, badly. An old sink with rusted taps hung against the wall. I splashed water on my face and started at the feel of short stubble on my cheeks. The hairs on my arms rose, a chill shot down my spine as I gazed down. These were the blunt-nailed, rough-skinned hands of a man, not my soft, immaculately manicured, genetically female
hands. I gripped the sink for balance. I looked into the mirror and I didn't see me. I saw a young man...
A dialogue prompt of my own creation:
I'd only been at the bar a matter of minutes before I turned down the first offer of a drink. The next followed close after, an older man taking the empty stool on my other side. He ordered himself a beer and another lemon, lime and vodka for me. He didn't ask if I wanted it; he created obligation by placing it next to my still half-full glass. As he leaned close his hand brushed my arm. Moist breath tainted with hops and onion foud my ear. I leaned away and slid the full glass toward him; a clear message.
"Oh, don't be like that, Love, it's a free drink! I'd be all over a free drink," a brow raised as his fingertips found my thigh, just below the hem of my skirt.
"As you can see, I'm perfectly capable of buying my own drink, and I don't plan to be 'all over' anything to do with you." I pushed his hand away.
"Sweetheart, I think you need to work on your manners," the hand slithered back.
I turned my face slowly toward him, my jaw set hard, fists balled in my lap to prevent his upward creep.
"I didn't think I was in the mood to kick anyone's arse tonight. All I wanted was a nice, quiet drink at the bar, but I swear, if you touch my leg one more time, I'm going to surprise myself, and you."
"Woah, hey now, Darlin, don't get your knickers in a knot, I'm just being friendly, offering my services..."
"Friendly? Try a sleazy, unwanted advance I've already rejected twice."
He opened his mouth to contradict me and I snapped. I whipped off my stool and grasped his hand, the thumb bent back hard toward his wrist...
From an image found on Pinterest:
Somewhere ahead I heard running water. Not the trickle of a stream, but the open echo of a larger source flowing with intent. The close tunnel of bush cracked open ahead of us, the light harsh after the dappled dimness of the trees. When I reached that opening I stopped dead in my tracks.
"You can't possibly expect me to cross that? You know I don't do bridges, any bridges, let alone that death-trap!"
My boyfriend leaned close, his warm hand on my shoulder. "It's perfectly safe. I scouted this walk out last week and had a good jump on it. Look, I'll show you now," he strode onto the planks with supreme trust and confidence. I could hardly even look at him when he bounced and swayed and held out a hand toward me. The vines creaked and twisted, matching the feel in my stomach. I no longer cared about the proposal I suspected he'd planned. He wouldn't get me to step on that bridge for anything, not even if my life depended on it.
Click the images below to access these awesome Pinterest boards for writing inspiration galore:
Hi, I'm Emily,
I'm an indie-published author and busy mum working hard to make my dreams come true.
I'm passionate about helping other beginner writers find confidence and get motivated to give their writing dreams a shot with help along the way.
Join me for mini adventures to see what works for me and learn how to make your writing dream a reality!
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