1

To the Fools who Dream

  
I finally watched La La Land the other day and I loved it but particularly because I empathised so much with the two main characters who are in LA to make their dreams come true – one wants to be an actress and the other wants to own his own jazz club. Like most people with big dreams, they are struggling and are ready to give up when they meet.

When I was watching the film I actually asked my mum “do you think it’s better to have a dream but struggle to make it come true or not to have a dream to begin with?” The question hung over me all night. I don’t think there is a right answer. Like most things in life the grass probably seems greener on whichever side you’re not on.

I admire everyone who tries to make their dreams come true particularly in the creative world I find myself dreaming in because the struggle is actually real. It’s far easier to give up, to move on and try something else but then you’d have to live with the frustrating “what if?”  question – what if I had kept trying? 

  
The film deals with this question and the sacrifices you might have to make on your journey. I cried at the end of it. Sometimes a film feels like it speaks just to you. I was having a writer wobble when I watched it. It reminded me that for better or worse I am a fool with a dream. I will never know if I would be happier without my dream but I do know that giving up on it would make me unhappy. 

Once you have a dream it’s hard to shake off. We will struggle and we will fail and we will have those wobbles and wonder if we’re crazy to want to keep living this life. And yes I think we probably are! But we dust ourselves off and we keep on trying and keep on believing because we know that making our dreams come true is the journey we are supposed to make. 

Once you start dreaming it’s almost impossible to stop. There are always new obstacles to overcome, new ideas to inspire you, and the determination to stay where you want to be when you do make your dream come true. Once a dreamer, always a dreamer perhaps. I quite like this idea because then it is about the journey we go on and not just all about the destination. Maybe it doesn’t matter if you make all your dreams come true, it’s enough to have them and keep on working towards them.

I always come back to my favourite quote said by Walt Disney that “If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It” and I hope it’s true. That those of us who have a dream have it because we can make it happen. Even if it does drive us a little bit crazy.

  
Do you think it’s better to have a dream but struggle to make it come true or not to have a dream to begin with?

Victoria

Xoxo 

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2

Write to the tap of your own pen

Scrolling through Twitter yesterday I saw a lot of tweets talking about writing every day in response to another article about the subject. I’ve read so many articles about how you have to write every day. They often say things like “if you want to be a REAL writer, you must write everyday” and make you full of self doubt if you don’t write the same way they do.

I really hope most of the articles deliberately exaggerate for the sake of a good headline / quote / tweet or to get us all taking because the idea that if you don’t conform to certain rules you can’t possibly dare call yourself a writer is just funny to me. There is no right way to write. There is no right way to be a writer. Otherwise we’d all be bestselling literary superstars living in mansions and sipping champagne. 

Being a writer isn’t easy. You can write as a hobby or as your job or both and some days you will likely struggle but you’ll also have better days and be filled with passion and joy. Most of us write because we love it. We might not have the time or space to write every day. We might not want to do this. Most people have days off from work. Most people see this as a good thing. Even if you love what you do we all need time away from it. We need to recharge, relax and breathe and experience other things. These other things might even end up inspiring our writing. 

  

  
The problem with writing tips is they become rules and you end worrying that if you do something different to them then you will fail. I don’t think there are any rules to writing. Everyone approaches writing differently as they approach their job, their relationships, and their life. Most professions will have hundreds of people doing them and all of them doing it slightly differently. We all have quirks and flourishes and life would be pretty boring otherwise. 

I suppose because writing can be so be tough especially on the road to being published, we’d all love to discover a shortcut, a sneaky guide to how to get there faster or with less pain, and that’s why writers will always be asked for their tips on how to write. But that’s all they are. Tips. Advice. An idea you can try if you like. Something that works for that particular person. But it should never be seen as a rule. 

I don’t believe that anyone has discovered a perfect way to write or a perfect way to be a writer. Writing is a creative pastime and we all need to create the way that works best for us. Writing is messy and infuriating and fun and challenging and freeing and some days you might love it or hate it, you might sit at your laptop or want to run and hide from it. But you always come back to it. Because you have to write. 

Carry on doing it your way. 

You’re a writer. 

And so am I. 

How do you feel when you read writing tips? Do you think you have to write every day to be a writer? 

Victoria

xoxo 

0

Flatlay Like A Boss 

  I’ve been asked quite a bit lately how I create flatlays for my Instagram so I thought it would be fun to share some tips. I always find flatlays generate a lot of attention on Instagram and I love looking at them myself. They are visually appealing and really stand out when you’re scrolling through photos online. 

If you want to join in the flatlay fun then here are my Five Helpful Hints ….

1. Tell a story

If you’re not sure where to start with a flatlay image, think about the story you want to tell. What do you want to show people through the photo. 

  
For example, in my flatlay above I used a concert ticket and the top I planned to wear to it as my story – showing everyone where I was off to that day. You could read the caption I wrote about it but the image speaks for itself and just glancing at it tells you a story. 

2. A backdrop dream   

   

You want the pieces in your flatlay to stand out as much a possible so you’ll need a plain background. In the photo above, I used my desk or you could use the carpet, your bed or a coloured piece of card like I did for the concert picture. 

3. Get propping 

For a great flatlay, you’ll need props. And it doesn’t have to be costly. I’ve found some great bargains but I’ve also used lots of things I already had. Beauty products work really well and stationery is always popular. It’s lots of fun experimenting with what works the best. This flatlay generated a ton of likes I think becauseeverything stands out and works together really well. And the symmetry is pleasing to the eye. I’m happy with it anyway!

  
4. The right light

I’ve found natural light is the best to work with but it isn’t easy to get rid of shadows. Editing your photo afterwards will be useful in most cases. I usually have to lighten and brighten an image and a sharpening tool helps makes a picture pop. Editing wise I use the Camera+ app and Snapseed as well as Instagram’s editing tools to make my photos look as good as possible and in keeping with each other.

  
5. Birds eye view 

And then finally, you need to frame your photo. I usually put things together then look through my phone camera to see if it’s working. Standing high gives a great flatlay so you might need to climb up on a chair to get the best shot. Things often look different once you get up high so adjusting the photo will be key. 

I have often had to take a ton of photos moving things around ever so slightly so it all fits into the frame. Your patience should be rewarded at the end though with a fab flatlay to post.

  
I love playing around with flatlays as you’ll see if you follow my Instagram (check it out here: https://www.instagram.com/vickyjwalters/) and I love looking at them so do let me know if this inspires you to post one!

Do you have any other flatlay tips? Let us know in the comments!

Victoria

xoxo 

8

How do you put positivity into action? 

This week, my year of positivity has hit shaky ground. Fed up of worrying about health issues and not focusing as much as I wanted to on editing my new book, I’ve not been in the best frame of mind. I wish I didn’t find it so hard to stay positive when weeks go this way but I do. 

I’ve been trying to steal some positivity and inspiration from other people. But it’s easier said than done. I admire them, I agree with what they say but then I go back to my life after leaving their story and struggle to change a thing! 

  
I really enjoyed this article by C.S Larkin (@livewritethrive) on how to be positive as writers. Read it here: 

http://www.livewritethrive.com/2017/02/13/3-tips-to-help-writers-adopt-positive-thinking/

I really liked her idea of ‘faith it till you make it’ – so by telling ourselves we can and will be productive and overcome any obstacle in our way, then that belief will make it happen. This idea has come back to me time and time again reading non-fiction books. That by making positive statements like “I can finish editing this novel by the end of the month” and even writing it down, sticking it by your laptop and repeating it to yourself everyday, then you’ll believe you can do it and so you will do it. 

I seem to be collecting a fair few self-help and inspiring true stories to read. I’m definitely hoping that following advice from people who have put positivity into action then I can too. But it still feels just a theory to me. It’s as if I know what I need to do but I’m still stumbling with actually doing it. I am shaking my head at myself as we speak! 

I don’t know how to reprogram myself into not worrying, not being negative, not focusing on things going wrong etc into a brain that is positive and optimistic, focusing on good things, who believes that everything will work out okay. I just hope acknowledging that I am the biggest barrier to being positive is that first step in the right direction. But what is my next step after that? 

So, do you guys have any ideas? How do you turn advice from people into actions by yourself? How do you make positivity happen?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

Victoria

xoxo 

2

When Positivity Runs Away

I have been writing about how to stay positive this year and continuing the series, I thought it would be interesting for us to talk about what we can do when we have a day when positivity runs away. It’s inevitable that there will be both good days and bad days during our year of positivity.

everything

I think being aware that you’re struggling on a bad day is half a step towards turning that day around. It’s good to acknowledge you’re struggling whether it’s because you’re not feeling well or your latest project has hit a standstill or something has gone wrong at work or even as simple as the weather is cold and miserable. It can all add up to making it really hard to keep that smile on your face.

When we realise we’re not 100% ourselves, we can think of ways to try to turn the day around. I thought I’d share my ideas and I’d love to hear yours too!

Here are my five top tips for turning a bad day around:

1.Look after yourself: Self-care is needed on a bad day so pour that bubble bath, make a large cup of tea, or just have an extra hour in bed.

2. Put a smile on your face: Curl up with Netflix and watch an episode of your favourite sitcom or pop a DVD in of a film that always cheers you up. One of my top comfort films is You’ve got Mail, or Disney is always a good bet to cheer yourself up.

3. Step away from the project: If you’re struggling with self-doubt or writer’s block or a work project isn’t going your way, have a break from it. Do something else like write a blog post or just read a book and come back to your project with fresh eyes the next day. Sometimes just having  break from whatever is getting you down will help you come up with the solution you need. Daydreaming counts as writing remember!

4. Change the scene: A good old fashioned walk in the fresh air can do wonders for turning a bad day upside down or go and get a hot chocolate from your local coffee shop. Even if it’s pouring down outside, you can change your scene by leaving your office and curling up with a blanket on the sofa and have that slice of cake you know you want!

5. Talk about it: Sharing the bad days can help push that negativity away. Get online and share your block with other writers or talk to your friends and family about how you’re feeling. A good cry on someone’s shoulder can really help. And don’t forget that pets are there to cuddle and are guaranteed to cheer you up when you need it!

I hope that helps if you’re trying to catch that positivity. I think positivity is something I need to work on keeping hold of every day so when I’m struggling I’m going to try and do the above and hopefully it will come back to me.

What other things would you recommend doing when you’re having a bad day? Post in the comments below!

Check out the last post in my positivity series here. And please come and say hi on Twitter and Instagram too.

Victoria

xoxo 

 

 

 

1

Focusing on Goals 

  

 This year I decided my main New Year’s resolution would be to be more positive (https://victoria-writes.com/2017/01/05/the-year-of-positivity/) so I’ve been thinking since about the ways I can do this.

It’s not easy to always be positive. Life gets in the way. I am still battling my overactive thyroid and some days it’s hard not to dwell on my health. I think distracting myself is key. Keeping busy doing positive things so I don’t focus on the negative instead. Goals mean I can focus on then instead, try to be productive and look at what I can change, and achieve, instead of things that are just out of my control.

I’ve had a few days off from the bookshop and I’ve been trying to focus on finishing my new novel. I’m on that tricky final third where you’re trying to wrap up everything in a satisfying ending as well as trying to ignore the self doubt telling you it’s all rubbish (hope this isn’t just me!) My main goal is to secure a book deal for this story this year, of course, but I think smaller goals will also help keep me feeling positive and having fun.

I’ve decided to work on my Instagram account (https://instagram.com/p/BPc7GhXAL1h/), for instance. I really enjoy going on Instagram but I’ve been a bit lax in creating a good account myself so I’ve been enjoying taking new photos and playing around with themes and filters etc. Do come and say hi if you’re on there too!

When I asked you guys for tips on how to stay positive, I had a few mentions of gratitude as a suggestion. Being thankful for what you have, counting your blessings, can definitely help you focus on things that are good in your life and take your mind off of the not so good things. I don’t know why it’s easier to dwell on negative aspects of your life sometimes but I am really trying to turn that around. It will continue to be a work in progress this year I’m sure, and I want to keep you all posted on how I do as well as keep reminding myself of my resolution! 

  
My main goal this month is to finish my book and hopefully send it off to my agent soon after that. 

I’d love to read your goals this month and if you have any more tips on staying positive please share in the comments! 

Victoria 

xoxo 

6

The Year of Positivity 

  
The first book I read this year was The Secret by Rhonda Bryne. The premise of the book is that we all have the power to have everything we want in life, we just need to ask the universe for it, believe we will get it and visualise already having it and then it will come. 

  
I struggle with being positive. It’s not easy to believe good things will happen when things are pretty rubbish in the present. I have decided then that my one New Year’s resolution is to be more positive. I’m going to believe that good things will happen this year and that I can achieve all my goals.

   
 I just bought this notebook to list all my dreams for the year. I am hoping for a healthy year this year for sure, and a happy one. I have a lot of writing goals I’d like to achieve, namely a new book deal. I am excited to fill the blank pages in and to see if I can bring these goals to life. Oops, I need to say I will bring them to life, not just try to!

  
It’s a sentiment I seem time and time again in inspiring quotes shares around the Internet. The power of thinking, dreaming, and believing. Being positive that you will do what you want to do. It’s not easy to train your mind to move away for negative thoughts, from thinking your dreams are impossible or that other people have be more success than you’ll ever have. I don’t know if the universe will grant me my wishes but I do know that being focused on what I want to achieve and not letting me, and negative thoughts, hold myself back can’t fail to help.

  
I am naming 2017 as The Year Of Positivity. Do you have any advice for me on how to stay positive? Post in the comments!

Victoria

xoxo