validation and support: our need for it as writers

Dear reader,

It’s no secret what-so-ever that as human’s we are in constant need of validation and support from others. Some people may rely on it more than others, but we all need it in some way. We want acceptance. We want people to agree with us, believe in us and aid is in pursuing our passions. Maybe this is why, as writers, we can be particularly eager for that validation and support.

Following any dream is difficult, but a creative one especially can feel extremely trying. It’s easy to convince ourselves we’re no good at what we do or that it’s a silly idea in the first place or that ultimately, we can’t make money doing what we love. Validation and support plays a massive part in motivating creative people to do what they do best.

We can’t always get it from the people we wish we could, and sometimes the people we love aren’t sure how to show it, but beyond that, when it comes to writing, validation and support from our fellow craftsman and people we admire in the Industry is vital to our growth in terms of confidence in our own abilities.

Ultimately as a writer, your aim is for people to read your work. Whether that be a book or a news article or a poem etc, you want eyes on the page. And yet that can be a completely terrifying concept for the majority of writers as handing over the words you have spent so long crafting can often feel like handing over a piece of yourself. Anything you write is going to say something about you, whether you like it or not, and as writers we know this. That’s another reason why we’re so desperate to know that what we’re working on is good, is well…worth it.

Recently, I was published in an online magazine called Into the Fold. I wrote about body confidence and Instagram. I’ll link the piece here. It was an unpaid piece and yet I have never been so excited and honoured to see my work out there. I love the magazine; a recent discovery that lead to a complete binge of the entire site. I looked at it and felt inspired. I went out on a limb and pitched an idea to the editor and holy smokes, she liked it! She asked me to write for her and within the week my piece was up. I was honoured. I felt (you guessed it) validated and supported. The editor of one of my favourite magazines looked at my work and told me that she thought it was good enough to publish! I was mixed in with the other amazing, thoughtful and well crafted features and writers on the site and for a moment I felt like maybe I wasn’t so bad at this writing thing after all.

When I look back its always moments like these that mean the most to me. A high grade for a creative writing project, a supportive pep talk from a lecturer and writer at university or someone who writes like me telling me that they really love something I worked hard on. To follow a passion like this, of course you have to have the will of your own to work at it, but you also need that push you get from people who understand how hard you work and think it’s paying off.

The writing world is one full of rejection and that’s why I think it’s so important to hold on to those little victories or those little moments when someone believes in you. I’m lucky to have amazing support for what I do and what I want to do from family and friends but I always crave that professional validation. I want to know from the people who’ve made it if they think that I can make it too.

So, writers need validation and support, just as any human does. I think as a community we’re particularly good at offering this to one another and it’s always been something I’ve adored about writers in general.

How do you balance your need for validation and your confidence in yourself?

Leigh-Ann

 

 

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being a bookworm

Reader,

I am a complete bookworm. Not only that, but my obsession with reading and writing is such a big part of my life that its sort of become ingrained as part of my identity. 

Anyone who’s found their passion in life could tell you how much it influences them and who they become and for me that thing has always been books.

Nothing makes me happier than getting lost in a novel, spending hours gushing over the genius writer that came up with the sentence that punched me in the gut or wasting hours in book shops taking secret sniffs of that new book smell.

My hobbys of blogging and youtube all revolve around my love of reading and writing and when anyone asks me about myself I find it difficult to think of things I do that are outside that field.

I get irked by all of the things typically bookworm like cliff hangers and when the covers change half way through a series. I read books critically because of my degree and have reached a stage where not having an opinion on a book I’ve read is non-existant. If I love a book or hate one, I’ll give you and in depth analysis of why, even if you didn’t ask for one ; )

My personality and world has largely been shape by the countless books I sped through in my early teens, my life long dream all starting with a love of John Green novels.

My point? When I say I’m a bookworm, I don’t just mean that I like to read, most true bookworms don’t. A bookworm is just kind of who I am, or at least a massive root to a lot of the parts of me that you might not even imagine stem from it. For better or for worse, I’m a book nerd through and through.

What hobby has helped define you? What do you love?

Leigh-Ann

my degree

Reader,

If you don’t know already, though I’d have thought you would, I’m studying a creative writing degree at university. I made the decision to change from being a joint honours Creative Writing and English Literature student to a single honours Creative Writing last year. I love my degree, even in the moments when I don’t ; ) , and I wanted to talk about it with you.

I study my subject at a creative and arts based university which means I’m surrounded by creative people every day. I question myself and my choice to do a creative degree as well as the questioning of others every day but I always come to the conclusion that not only was it the only degree for me, but that it’s a great degree to have, particularly for someone with just high writing ambitions as myself.

My course so far has focused on strengthening and increasing the reach and honing of my writing skill. We are pushed to writing things well out of our comfort zone, and work shopping our writing with our fellow students is a massive part of the course. Studying writing, at least in my opinion, is a bit different because of where you start when you come to university. In terms of the creative writing skill, most people are self taught when they come to uni. Aside from writing the occasional story in English Lit at school, most writers on the course discovered the writing community online or from books and authors they love, and learned the lingo by immersion in that community. The course that I’m taking has very much been based on the idea that we’re in need of a recap of the rules in order to break them and the first year I found I didn’t learn anything new so much as learnt how to make the writing I was already doing far far better.

This year is more about honing in and trying new things, at least for me. I’ve picked modules that support what I’ve always wanted to write, as well as modules that force me into fields that are more of a new interest. This year is far more about learning career skills in terms of writing, and I’ve embraced that by taking an open module that allows me to do a work placement as part of my course. I’m still not sure what I want to do after uni yet, but I know I want to write as a career and this year is allowing me to explore all of the ways that I can do that.

Another thing that’s been great about my degree and specifically my university is that we’re taught by successful and established writers and are constantly shown examples of how people who’ve done our exact course have gone on to be successful published writers. The connections our uni has to great writers, editors and members of the publishing industry give me the confidence to pursue my passion with the knowledge that a job will follow, whatever that might be.

There are lectures and lecturers that really inspire me and of course ones that are a bit more lacking. There are tutors that I feel don’t really understand or even try to understand what I write, but these are all in the minority to what is otherwise a great and motivating course. There are times where I question the expense of uni, particularly with the creative degree and somewhat limited  career prospects (at least in the eyes of many creative degree doubters). I still think there are many ways in which my uni and my course are failing. That being said, for the most part, my uni course only fuels the fire I have for creative writing and fills me with hope for the future. I attend one of the top unis in the country for my course and I’m extremely grateful for that opportunity.

So that’s my experience with a creative writing degree. If you have any questions feel free to shoot them at me. What do you guys study if at all and would you ever consider a creative degree?

Leigh-Ann

september favourites

Reader,

Autumn is here and I like Autumnal things so I thought I would be rather unoriginal and just do an Autumn favourites because, well, I like talking and writing about the things that I like. After some more thoughtful posts with a bit of a sad or questioning undertone I thought it would be nice to talk about some of the things that made me happy last month.

Mustard Yellow – My new favourite colour. I don’t know what shifted, possibly the fact that I love all sorts of Autumnal type colours, but suddenly I decided it was gorgeous. It’s warm and earthy but somehow still bright, you can wear it with just about anything because it’s bold enough to act as a statement and I bought the cosiest mustard yellow jumper that I basically lived in last month. Now I just want a yellow dress, like in La La Land.

Headspace (App) – Meditation has always seemed a little ridiculous to me but when things really started to get on top of me last month I thought to hell with it and downloaded an app. With YouTube Ads everywhere I’m sure you’ve already heard of it, but the app basically just talks you through a moment of quite reflection and helps you catch your breath. I’m not completely sold yet but I’ve definitely enjoyed trying it out.

Peanut Butter – I’m not sure what more needs to be said about this one aside from the fact is gooey and delicious. Pop it on a bit of toast and I’m done for the evening. It’s a cosy form of junk food perfect for me during the beginings of Autumn.

Candles and Oil Burners – So thanks to an ASMRtist I follow on YouTube, during September I took an interest in crystals and aromatherapy. Though it’s not a belief of mine, I’ve loved delving into it and I bought a cute little oil burner that’s been sending me to sleep with a lovely lavender smell. It’s actually very soothing to have soft and familiar scents in my room and on my clothes and it’s done a lot to give me that little bit of calm in a stressful day.

Tom Rosenthal (Musician) – If you haven’t checked on Tom’s music on Spotify or YouTube then I suggest you do it right now. His voice is beautiful and warm, his lyrics are both hilarious and moving and the vlogs he does with his children just make my heart melt. When I’ve needed something uplifting and soft in terms of music, Tom’s music has been right there. I’ve been a fan for years but recently I was reminded how wonderful he is. He even liked a tweet I wrote about him!

Letter Writing – I love kicking it old school and writing people letters and I’ve been doing it since the beginning of last year when I moved away to university. In September I finally started to get letters back rather than texts of thanks and it really made me smile. My friends and family picked out some adorable cards and filled them with kind words and receiving them in my new house was a lovely feeling.

So those were the things that made me happy in September? Do you have any favourites? What are you looking forward to this month?

Feeling spoopy yet?

Leigh-Ann

imperfection

Reader,

Let’s talk about self image for a second, shall we?

I wanted to talk specifically about imperfection and start by talking about it in a wider sense. Imperfection is everywhere; in places, concepts and people. It’s imperfection that makes our world unique and well beautiful. Let’s think about this.

Think of yellowed book pages and the tea cup with a chip. Think of the height marked spot on the kitchen wall.

Sounds pretty cosy and nice doesn’t it? These imperfections show signs of use and love and experience.

Now lets think about chipped nail polish and girls with freckle covered noses and stretched marked tummies, the boy with a crooked smile, twiggy arms and kink in his hair.

Imperfections in people make them beautiful. Imperfections in things make them beautiful. When we think of our favourite person, there will always be something about them that might be unconventional or “imperfect”. Something that they hate about themselves but we’re attracted to and love.

This is the same even beyond physical imperfection. Jealousy, perfectionism, a snorty laugh, a tendency to cry, a fragile soul, an argumentative temper. Seeing someone’s true beauty is knowing that these things are part of who they are and what makes them beautiful. We all know that. We all see that in the people we love. I could write thousands of words, attempt beautiful poems, about why the boy I love, or my best friend or my sister, is completely imperfect and why I love every single one of their stupid imperfections anyway. Most people could.

So why is it that we’re so unwilling to see our own imperfections as beautiful? This is an open question. I don’t have the answer. All I know is that we all do it and that we should stop. We beat ourselves up for not looking like the magazines, but more than that, for not being happy all the time or being the best at everything we do or making mistakes in life. We don’t forgive ourselves like we forgive the people we love. We don’t want to see ourselves through the same lens as we see the people we love or even with the kindness we often offer to complete strangers.

I’m needy and jealous and I worry about everything. I’m a neat freak, I’m going through a tough time and I hate admitting to not being happy, and I have a terrible relationship with food. People I love will tell you I care, and I’m organised, I put too much pressure on myself and I like sugar. The comparison of their words and mine is a simple demonstration of how harshly we view our own imperfections compared to those of others.

This isn’t supposed to be a high and mighty post and I’m not suggesting that this is a new revelation; of course people have talked about this before. But I wanted to talk about it in our space, think about it myself, and try to make myself realise that even our best qualities falter sometimes. Even the things we love about ourselves can too become imperfections. Everything has a flip side and we have to be okay with realising that it’s not a bad thing. It’s a balanced thing.

How do you remind yourself to view yourself with kindness? Let me know.

Leigh-Ann

why i’m such a morning person

Reader,

I am such an annoying little morning person. Yep, I like being up early(ish) ready to start the day; a day that’s still full of possibilities. Lying in feels good in the moment, sure, but I always wake up feeling like my day has been wasted and it’s a horrible feeling for me.

I’m always at my most productive in the morning. I never snooze my alarm but drag myself up and out of the covers with as much get up and go as I can muster (which isn’t always as much as I would like, granted). There are so many motivating factors when it comes to the morning from the fact that breakfast has always been my favourite meal of the day (so many good food options!) to the fresh morning air or the songs on morning radio or playlists. Morning is before all the chaos and possible disappointment of the day, it’s the breather you have before the day starts. It’s the time to sit with your thoughts and organise your to dos without having to worry about the lack of time to do them. I mean you have all day, right?

When I get things done in the morning, no matter how little these things are, I’m left with that self-satisfied productive buzz all day and even if by the end of it, the day hasn’t been so good after all, I always have that little bit of time I took to myself and the things I needed to do that morning. If I’ve had an energised morning, I usually feel good about rewarding myself with a very chilled evening and can do so with the knowledge that I took and experienced every moment of the day that I could.

When I think about a cosy future, the kind that I would like to have some day, my head always skips to a morning. I wake up next to the person I love, pull myself sleepily out of bed to drink warm coffee and watch them lazily slip into a shirt. And maybe as I get older and have a family the mornings get more hectic but if I’m going to a job I love and I get to kiss the person I love goodbye every morning over the chaos of the food splattered table then I’ll be happy.

A made bed, an alarm clock reset and a somewhere between healthy and sugar rot breakfast is a thought that just brings this sort of complete and content feeling to the forefront of my mind. It’s that I crave. And yes sometimes things go terribly wrong after this, but morning is my reset and I’ll do the best that I can to make sure it’s not tainted by the previous day.

Morning is my moment. What is it to you?

Leigh-Ann