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The Real Way to Combat Writer's Block

tips, wriers block, overcome

One of the most frequented topics in the writing community is writer's block. Although a lot has been said about why it's happening and how to overcome it, most of those methods go to great lengths to present simple every-day activities as the "cure" to you writer's block. There is a plethora of options to choose from - do house chores, watch movies, go out with friends, have sex, get drunk, lay on the ground crying... There are all kinds of tips for overcoming writer's block, and they vary from absurd to helpful. Today's topic of discussion, however, is digging deeper than temporary relief and analyzing the root of the problem and working through it from the ground up.

What is Writer's Block?

Essentially, writer's block is a creator's block specific for writers. It can be caused by a gamut of reasons such as insecurities, continuous lack of consistency and focus, and so on. Temporary relief is one way to overcome a creative pit but at some point, the novelty will fade, and you will need something better and long-term. The real way to combat and prevent writer's block is to change your mindset about it. Stop viewing it as a writing illness of some sort, stop giving it so much power. Those who allow a hiccup to turn into a permanent halt abandon their craft for good. To change our mindset we need to analyze some common excuses and fight them down. Here are three of the most common excuses I used to come up with and how I got over all of them - no, not by looking for inspiration.
writer's block, creative writing, writing, tips
You should combat writer's block on a fundamental level.

  • "I don't know what to write."

Being dumbstruck about the direction of your current writing session can easily discourage you from filling out the page. While that is entirely understandable, it is no reason to stop trying. If you have no direction, then dedicate your writing session to figuring something out, even if it's what to write in the next paragraph, and then write it. Moreover, writers always have something else they can do instead of drafting to move their story forward- editing, fleshing out a character, figuring out the setting, doing research, brainstorming different aspects to add to your story... Or you could play with something new altogether. All progress is significant progress, especially when you're feeling stuck. Not knowing what to write next is no excuse to skip out on your writing session.

  • "I don't know enough about the story."

Not knowing enough about the story you're working on is an integral and obvious stage of the writing process. That's what outlining, and brainstorming are for. You can either start tracing the red thread of your story or work on something unrelated until you figure it out- it's all good as long as you're consistent with your writing. There is a lot that goes into crafting a story and in the writing process itself. Focus on characters, further outlines, editing what you have so far...If you don't know your story, then get familiar with it. Work actively on getting to know it better and figuring out the nitty-gritty. Draft whatever you figure out but do not allow being unfamiliar with your story to act as a reason to postpone its progress. Don't stagnate and interrupt the flow of your consistency. Get outlining and get writing.

  • "My writing is shit."

There are two ways to go about this particular conundrum. For one, you can irrevocably delete every single word and never write again because every first draft is inevitably bad, especially compared to the finished state of the story. If you're feeling dramatic, you can eat the paper as if an enemy is going to expose it to the world. The point here is simple- producing subpar unedited writing is no excuse for you to put down the pen. Editing and delete buttons exist for a reason. After all, you will never become more proficient if you skip writing sessions. The feeling of being not good enough is real for every creator and every person no matter what they're doing- you're not alone. What will make you into a writer is writing. Your drafts will always get better with editing, and that's ok because as long as you don't skip out on your writing sessions, you will get more proficient with story crafting and language as well. As long as you hit that word count, you've done well.

Conclusion: there are very few acceptable reasons to skip a writing session. Feeling like you're not good enough? Get to writing and become better. Comparing yourself to other writers? Turn it into an inspiration and something to learn from and get to writing. You don't have a direction to your story? Outline and brainstorm some more and find the direction, then get to writing. Everything you put down is painful to read later? Write it all over again, then edit it, then go on writing. If you love writing and you're serious about being a writer or a professional novelist, then you won't let any excuses to take writing away from you. Analyze your ''reasons'' not to write and fight against them. Set a small goal, try again and again, but never let insecurities, laziness, or comparison stop you from doing what you love.

Thank you for reading! If you have any thoughts, feel free to share them in the comments bellow. Do you have a writerly friend who could find this post useful? Share on social media! 

Goals 2017

It's 1 AM, January 1st 2017 and as I'm cuddling my extremely clingy cat and trying to ignore the claws digging into my knee, I'm also thinking about how to start the new year. I'm the type to roll my eyes at the term "New Year's resolutions" and so I skip those. For me, that is a term void of true meaning. It's synonymous to wishful thinking which in my book is just that - imaginings that can come to no fruition. Unless you do something to turn wishful thinking into starting steps.

But let's take it back a moment and retrace 2016, shall we?

Personally, last year for me was bittersweet. The beginning was nightmarish, then it had a sweet, sweet middle and a hopeful end. I kicked off 2016 with a depression and I'm ending it with one. I'm ok with that, though, because I refuse my anxiety and depression to define me. During the summer I got to meet my long-distance boyfriend for the very first time in person and after five years online we got to spend almost 2 months together. That was the most amazing summer of my life. I was heartbroken I had to leave and go back to my home country and that fling stuck with me. I still experience it often.

On a happier note, I'm hopeful. I feel like good things will happen because I know how to make the happen. When you want to achieve something nothing should be able to crush you... at least not completely. I don't think I will ever be that strong but I can try. So can you. There is always a way and there is always something that can be done to make things better for ourselves and the people around us.

Everything starts with a choice.

Simple or not, easy to make or not, your choice will determine your path and your achievements. It will be the deciding factor between success and failure, between learning from our mistakes and ignoring the wisdom we could obtain. Each of us possesses a lot more power and strength than we give ourselves credit for. We can achieve our goals and create something worthwhile. But that does not start with a resolution made in midst of a party and alcohol. It starts with a choice made consciously, crafted by the heart and defined by the mind.

My goals for 2017 are achievable, I believe. I will be setting them into quarterly goals as a way to make everything more manageable. The list for 2017 goes like this:

  1. Write a book
  2. Learn Spanish
  3. Learn Swedish
  4. Get a job
  5. Get abs
  6. Blog consistently
  7. Get a blog domain
  8. Start a YouTube channel

My goals are very exact. People tend to make extremely vague resolutions in most cases such as ''get healthy'', ''become a better person'' etc. I think that's another thing that differentiates achievable goals and wishful thinking.

What are your goals for 2017? I would love for you to share!

Till next Sunday 

Struggles new bloggers face and how to overcome them

Have you scrolled through one of those popular blogs recently? The ones with gorgeous themes and beautiful graphics? Have you noticed how well-balanced the layout is? How about the abundance of content they have or the post that went viral on Pinterest and had people leaving hundreds of comments? Do you ever imagine what those blogs must have looked like when they were newly created? Do you wonder what those bloggers did to be so prolific? 

As a newbie blogger, I am guilty of all of the above. I scroll through ten to twenty blogs a day, both popular and undiscovered. Although that helps me learn a lot about what works and what doesn't, it also makes me feel smaller than I am. Lately, I have been struggling with my confidence as an aspiring blogger. I have recognized that my problem doesn't lie as much in my comparing myself to others as it does in my own restrictions and self-imposed rules, and above all - my unreasonably high expectations I have placed upon myself.

Since recognizing the problem is half the solution, I focused on some of the struggles we, aspiring bloggers, face and decided to share ways to overcome them so our true talent can shine through in its full capacity.

Comparison can turn toxic

It can be useful for us to compare our blogs to more popular ones, that way we can learn to identify what needs to be polished and improved. However, there is a thin line between healthy and toxic comparison. If you catch yourself obsessively scrolling through other blogs and mentally listing all the things that are better, or you start feeling strongly displeased over the look of your blog although you considered it beautiful a few days prior, that might mean that you should take a deep breath and step away from your device. Comparing yourself to others like that will get you nowhere, it will set you back by a mile. You blog should resemble you, it should carry your personality in the way it looks, not somebody else's.

Niche worry

Since I'm doing the nicheless thing which is a bit of a taboo in blogging guides, I sometimes worry whether a post is appropriate or not. I get anxious and writing doesn't come easy in that case, or at all for that matter. My answer to those worries is simple- we cannot always know what's to become of us. We might decide to change our well-established niche, encompass more than one, or have every other post fall into a different niche. There is no reason why we should sweat something we cannot predict. Better have that post up, niche or not, than let the Publish button feel lonely and rejected.

Target Audience

What I have noticed is that niche and target audience go together like a matching panty set. The thing is I don't do matching panty sets. I figured there is no need for me to stress about my supposed target audience before I have even started publishing and learn how to blog. The term itself used to put me off because it sounded so cold to me at first and I didn't want to be cold with blogging. I want to build a community and help and inspire my readers which will hopefully become my friends too. I decided to forget about targeting and just find the audience that I will enjoy my writing and I will enjoy writing for. That is you, who is reading this right now. I enjoyed writing this for you. 

Social media frenzy

When I created my blog, I had only Pinterest, Tumblr, and We Heart It accounts for personal use. Twitter, Instagram, and the like came later. I read a few guides on how to take social media by storm but the truth is I'm not that big on social media though I try my best. I came up with a social media schedule that would work for me but even that wasn't enough. Numbers aren't exponentially growing and this is why it's ok: social media consist of thousands of sharing platforms, bookmarking platforms, etc. with millions of accounts per site. I have always had a realistic view on social media and never fooled myself that I would be taking it by storm and neither should you. The more you obsess over your astounding graphics not being re-pinned or that your best selfie isn't being hearted on Instagram, the more you will start feeling discouraged. You will loose track on what's important about blogging. The quality of you content doesn't measure in Facebook likes, or re-pins, the quality is found in what you relay - information and emotion. Promotion is one of the keys that unlock a blog's success chest, that is the best way to get discovered. However, never forget that quality lies in the post you have written, not in social media numbers. I remind myself of that every time I upload something on any of my accounts and has helped me see what truly counts in blogging, and it will never be numbers but quality and individuality.

Need for Shares

Two words: going viral. One of those ultimate goals, isn't it? Writing an amazing post… creating beautiful graphics to go with it… hitting publish… sharing it on all your social media and… sitting back and watching it go… viral. We all want to see the day a post gets 3 or 4 digits worth of shares, it would be great acknowledgment of our efforts. However, don't sweat it, or else it won't be as satisfying when it happen. I have set my eyes on Pinterest, my favorite site, to utilize as a game-changer. Pinterest is a common goal in the blogging world and I realize how difficult it can be to create graphics that will be noticed among the other, some much more masterful than my own. That realization helps have a clear vision of what I want to achieve and how I can achieve it. I know that burning the midnight oil forcing myself to create something pin worthy will spoil the joy and the sense of achievement I will get once I have a post going viral on Pinterest. Scrolling through my feed I see countless popular pins and that makes me feel like almost every blog gets there at some point.

At a loss for words… and passion

We all remember how ecstatic we were when we decided to create our blogs. Blog post ideas were swarming and we were flooded with visuals of the successes would surely have… Sometimes, however, it's hard to stay motivated, it's almost impossible to put pen to paper and create a good post. Our drive fades away sometimes but it's ok. We will keep going, keep drafting, and editing... And posting. To any newbie blogger reading this I would like to say draft for yourself, edit for your readers. As far as motivation goes, don't forget why you started in the first place. We might get lost sometimes in the numbers of likes, shares, and whatnot but we won't permanently lose track of why we blog. We learn and although will make mistakes we will always find our back to what we find sacred about blogging. 

So, tell me, why do you blog? How did you start and how long have you been blogging for? What drives you to go on when you feel like giving up? Comment below and find some motivational spark among your fellow newbies!

Kill your Darling: Contemplating Inspiration

If you are a creative soul it's inevitable that you have been struck numerous times by a sensation that is unlike anything else. It energises you more than a strong energy drink, invigorates your mind, and sends your creative side spiralling among visions and ideas. You have been struck by inspiration. According to Oxford Dictionary, the first definition of inspiration is: the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative. A definition, however, won't be enough to help you reach a deeper level of understanding on the topic of inspiration. There is more to it than meets the eye.

Everyone experiences inspiration differently

For some it's a jolt that sends them into rapid work mode, they start scribbling ideas, drawing sketches and outlines; other feel overwhelmed by excitement and cannot stay still or talk and think about anything else but when they want to take action they are stumped because they find it almost impossible to focus on the task at hand. Duration is also a variable. A burst of inspiration can last anything from a few minutes to a few hours.

For me, a burst of inspiration comes like a wave crashing all at once. I'm buzzing with energy and I talk a lot about how enthusiastic I am and how awesome my project will be. I start making plans and writing down keywords instead of descriptions, structuring to-do lists instead of getting started on actually fulfilling my plans. My bursts of inspiration last about an hour and usually end with me feeling exhausted and wanting to go to sleep. Not the most productive thing.

There is no universal view on inspiration bursts
Inspiration bursts are often idolised and romanticised mostly by those who don't yet have a solid grasp on creativity as a way of life. It's viewed as a divine strike of creativity that empowers you to achieve anything. Although there are a number of artists, writers, and poets known to be most prolific in such states, they are few and far between in comparison to those who have achieved great things by hard continuous work and creating a habit, as well as getting to know their own creative self. There are countless posts, lists, e-courses, etc. teaching how to superficially trigger inspiration bursts and make them more frequent.

On the other far side of the spectrum are the creatives that shun inspiration bursts. They believe one's mind is clouded and cannot be consistent and efficient during those times. I have stumbled across a few e-courses on how to minimise the impact of inspiration bursts. They are mainly directed at people that find the way they experience inspiration bursts to be harmful to their productivity and creativity.

I personally don't lean towards either of those opposites
I like the hype inspiration bursts give me when they occur but I wouldn't want to increase their frequency because, as I already mentioned, my inspiration bursts aren't very productive. They are just a whirlwind of over-excitement because of an idea I suddenly got. That doesn't help me write a better story, power through a project, or get ahead of my deadline. That, however, isn't enough to make me want to try making them subside as much as possible. I would rather tweak those bursts into something that would work for me instead of against me.

How can you make your bursts of inspiration more productive?    

Analyse them and use the results to your advantage
•    When do they usually occur?
Having even a vague idea will not leave you taken aback and you will have the chance to anticipate and mentally prepare. I would prepare a task to execute when a burst comes and try using the energy as productively as possible, instead of hyping about a far-fetched idea.
•    How excited do you get and what is the aftermath of that excitement?
If you rave a lot and become hyper-energetic when you're experiencing a burst, you probably feel quite tired afterwards as well. In such cases, you should remind yourself of the result and try to direct the energy towards doing something that will be useful to you. That way when exhaustion sets in you will have a sense of fulfilment that you have done something productive.

Don't be wooed by its charms
Although the bursts can sometimes spur you forward, they are not the same as creative flow. They feel great and give you immediate satisfaction because your endorphins level rises. It feels better than pounding away at a project to get yourself into work mode and bring about a steady creative flow. Inspiration bursts, however,  come and go as they please. They are inconsistent and irregular, you cannot bookmark them for later and you cannot fully control them. That is why it's better not to rely on them completely. When you do become overly reliable on them and, irregular as they are, are few and far between, your productivity level decreases. You become less and less accustomed to working towards your creative goals. You become less versed in creating because consistency is key and inspiration bursts do not provide consistency. Be independent from inspiration bursts but do not exclude them or avoid them. Learn to make them work in your favour as much as you can instead.

So, what are creative bursts good for ?
They are often great for coming up with new ideas and gifting you with the desire to realise them. For some people, inspiration bursts are a gateway to a steady productive flow which enables them to complete large chunks of tasks. There is always something you can do to make anything work for you rather than against you. But if that is not the case with you then you need another kind of inspiration.

There is more to creativity and creating than first meets the eye. Creativity is versatile, mind-altering, and can easily become a way of life. You don't need bursts to have that kind of creativity in your life. What you do need is to carry inspiration within you at all times. Let the power and determination it carries be the silver lining to your creativity. Let it drizzle over you, form deep waters; dive in and come back up; float on it. But do not rely on bursts to crash over you like a monsoon and dry out like water in a desert, and bring you closer to achievement that way. Use it when it comes, but don't solely rely on it.  Hard work, discipline, inner inspiration, and an open, clear mind is what will enable you to execute any task and achieve your creative goals.

Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed this post and have some thoughts you would like to share, please leave a comment below! Also, don't forget to share this post with your friends on social media and take a minute to subscribe. You can easily do that below!

Till next Sunday! 

Hello, Blogging! I'm Ivvie Bengtsson

Hey, there! First things first, thank you for giving my blog a chance and clicking on it! I hope you stay awhile. I have been wondering quite a lot what my first post should be, I tend to be a bit of an overthinker and that doesn't always pay off well. I knew, however, that I wanted to let you get to know me right off the bat. 
So, to get the ball (or blog) rolling, here are: 

1. I'm currently in Sweden.
2. I have been in a long-distance relationship for the last five years.
3. I was born on 29th February.
4. My zodiac sign is Pisces and I fit the description of it quite well.  
5. Summer is my favourite season partially because of all the homegrown fruits and veggies I get to eat.
6. The composer I listen to most often is Claude Debussy. I love Arabesque no.2.  It's a very energetic piece and gets stuck in my head for days.
7. The book most special to my heart is Neverending story by Michael Ende.
8. I believe in gender equality. Both man and women have issues with how they see both the other gender and their own, and that should be bringing them closer towards mutual understanding instead of alienation.
9. I am a firm believer and supporter of the LGBTQ+ community. Love and passion have no solid shapes. Acceptance and happiness are the only things that matter. Sexuality does not determine character. 
10. I am disappointed in my home country, Bulgaria, for not having legalised same-gender marriage yet, and for the homophobia that has spread in so many people.
11. I call everything a colour. Sunshine is a colour, stripes is a colour, and my boyfriend is a colour, too. I'm silly like that.
12. I want an RV to travel around the world with. I would collect souvenirs and write a book or two about my life on the road and all the amazing people I would meet.
13. Another life-long dream of mine is to open my own café that serves numerous coffee recipes and doubles as a library and a bookstore. 
14. My favourite comedy movie is from 1995 and it's called Dracula: Dead and Loving it.
15. I never watch horror movies.
16. My favourite mobile game is Hay Day.
17. In the shower, I don't sing. I dance. And sometimes I do mild workouts.
18. I want to dye my hair all sorts of colours. Mainly lavender. 
19. While most other kids would say they wanted to become singer or actors or princesses, I would say I wanted to take care of the seas and the fishies. Later I found out that meant I wanted to become a marine biologist.
20. Some of my favourite series are Supernatural, Teen Wolf,  True Blood of the live action; Gravity Falls and Futurama of the animated.
21. My favourite anime is Naruto and nothing beats that for me. No, not even Bleach, not even close.
22.  I'm horrible at doing makeup. I have tried and failed many times. I want to be able to do it but I don't necessarily want to put in on my face for more than an hour or two. I only wear lipstick.
23. I am a fan of authentic vampire folklore. I like following and comparing how the figure of the vampire changes in popular culture (e.g. movies, books, games, music). The figure of the vampire also finds a reflection in human psychology like no other creature. 
24. When I was younger I used to read mainly Greek and Egyptian mythology which is still my favourite mythology to read.
25. I'm not a religious person.
26. I have a silver streak in my hair on the left side, I was born with it, and  I really like it.
27. I like picking rocks off the ground wherever I go and bring home at least one.
28. I'm a huge procrastinator. I want to be the kind of person that is productive all day long and has established habits and routines. And follow through with a To-Do List. 
29. The numbers 9 and 29 make me happy because I met my boyfriend online on 29th August and we got together on 9th of March.
30. I love homemade pickles and I eat only those. I also love drinking the juice.
31. I recently learnt how to swim in a Swedish lake. 
32. I add excessive amounts of black pepper to my food. 
33. Critics on YouTube annoy me to no end.
34. I manage to hit at least one of my knees multiple times a day every day.
35. I had a 2-month period during which I dreamt mostly about waters- the sea, the ocean, lakes... In my dreams, I felt an overwhelming need to be in the water.
36. If there is something I like about my personality, it's how tolerant and compassionate I am. I don't mind anyone's choices as long as they are not intentionally doing something to hurt other people.
37. We, humans, have both good and bad inside us and that inevitably creates a grey gradient. A part of us where rhyme and reason apply to both sides or to neither one of them. I respect people that contemplate that aspect of humanity and try to find balance within themselves. I believe that the way to change the world is not through slogans and hashtags, alienation due to sexuality and race, or calling people out and insulting them on social media. Look within you and evaluate your own personality, look around you and see what could be changed immediately, better yourself and show people what you're doing. Inspire them to be better. Support those who do. 
38. My favourite things about my home country, Bulgaria, is the literature and the little nature we have left. The history is gut-wrenching and I'm proud of some of our historical figures.
39. I have the tendency of getting fired up about some things. I feel great excitement and can barely wait to start with something (like journaling, scrapbooking, becoming better at drawing etc.). After a few days and a whirlwind of ideas and expectations my enthusiasm dies down. I dislike that about myself and I want to change it.
40. My favourite computer games when I was a kid were Feeding Frenzy and Chicken Invaders.
41. I had a job at a three-storey all-purpose store. I had to work 11 h every day for 14 days all the while standing up. Rules were to stand on your feet and walk around even when there were no customers or any more work needed to be done. I quit because of the bad conditions and the bad people that put me down when I was doing my best. Quiting felt amazing. I felt light and like I could finally breathe despite the 35 C outside. The experience gave a sense of determination to be my own boss some day. 
42. One of my favourite foods is Musaka. A casserole type meal made of potatoes and minced meat.
43. My mother left me and my dad when I was 3 months old and never tried to reach me or him again. I'm grateful she left because of the harmful way she had treated me when I was a baby.
44. I don't believe in the claim that everyone inevitably raises their children the way they have been raised. I'm will never be like her.
45. I love experimenting in the kitchen but I sometimes feel very guilty when something doesn't work out and it was meant for other people to eat.
46. I don't watch tv. The news, the interviews, the political ramblings... it all felt very discouraging. Now, I'm only interested in the documentary and the cartoon channels. 
47. I want a black pug. I love those dogs.
48. I love knock-knock jokes. My boyfriend thinks they are flat but I always laugh at them.
49. I love grammar. That's one of my favourite things about a language.
50. Just creating my blog and writing this post has given me great satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment. I already feel like blogging will be more than just a hobby for me.