how I wrote 30,000 words while working full time

2021, goals, writing

Hello!

When I was in it, it didn’t feel like January was that busy but looking back? I started a new full time job, I did really well with my January Goals, I read 4 books and I even made a more consistent effort at going for walks! As well as finishing a 30,000 word creative writing challenge!

I did my first NaNoWriMo challenge in 2011, where I attempted to write 50,000 words in a month (I managed 15k but I was 15 so I think it was still a good attempt!) and I fell off the creative writing wagon when I didn’t have the same evening downtime when I moved to uni and I’ve been trying to make it more of a habit since NaNoWriMo 2017.

For the last two years or so I’ve been doing writing challenge every few months to keep me writing and give myself a goal, because I find it way easier to ‘write X number of words a day’ than to just task myself with writing.

So this year I planned a 30k writing challenge for January, 35k for April, 40k for July, 45k for September and the traditional 50k for NaNoWriMo in November. I knew I was going to need practice to write daily (or the equivalent of daily) in that quantity whilst navigating my first proper career job and for the first challenge for the year, I smashed it!

Here are some of the things that I really think helped me hit my goal for the month.

Having a spreadsheet with my daily word goal made it really clear what targets I needed to hit when and having this visible when I was writing meant I didn’t spend half my time clicking between tabs checking to see how much more I needed to write (might be a me thing, but I’m always looking to be able to tick things off lists!).

Although it probably didn’t help my sleep schedule, I found going up to bed a little early and writing up there whilst my boyfriend played video games downstairs much easier to concentrate. If we had more rooms in our house I would have worked at a desk or something but currently my options are living room or bedroom! My word target was only 968 words per day (compared to NaNoWriMo’s 1667), so if I was feeling inspired I could write it in about an hour and then I’d snuggle into bed with my book and then watch the Repair Shop with my boy until we fall asleep. Lovely!

I’m not someone who can usually work with music – even when I was studying for school exams, I couldn’t study to music with lyrics because I’d get distracted by the words and inevitably end up singing along and not taking in any of the biology revision I was doing. I’ve gotten worse at multitasking since then and I get very easily distracted now, but I’ve found some brilliant playlists over the course of this month – magical instrumentals, lofi hip hop music – beats on relax/study to and ambient relaxation are great instrumental playlists and my current personal favourite is main character because they’re songs that everyone can pretend they’re in that bit in a movie where it’s a montage of the main character being sad or something. Also most of the songs are used in lots of tiktoks so it’s a lot of ‘oh it’s that song’.

It’s not been easy – there’s been a lot of late night writing sessions and yesterday when I had less than 1000 words to go I really struggled with motivation but I did it and it feels amazing.

I decided yesterday I want to start work on a new original novel for NaNoWriMo this year and I feel super motivated now!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

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NaNoWriMo 2020… how’d it go?

2020, creativity, writing

Hello!

I feel like I’ve been talking about NaNoWriMo all year – with doing writing challenges every other month to ‘train’ for the 50,000 word challenge in November. But it didn’t go quite as expected…

My intention was to write the final draft of the novel I started eight years ago in my first (and only ‘winning’) NaNo – but then I ended up using the story of my novel for my masters dissertation project and the thought of having anything to do with it so soon after handing in was too much for my little anxious brain to handle.

I decided very early on that I was going to write some fun fanfiction instead – I’ve been watching a lot of Harry Potter cosplay tiktok and I was super inspired to write something, so I took that inspiration and went with it.

The other barrier I faced was again my dissertation project – I got a one week extension due to my mental health so my deadline wasn’t until November 5th, thus meaning I couldn’t think about anything else until it was done (still SO PROUD that I did it!). I didn’t start writing until the 7th of November and I calculated that I only needed to write just over 2000 words a day to finish on time, as opposed to the usual 1667 words.

I started writing and as my days were significantly emptier without a big uni project, I managed to catch up relatively quickly. At my most productive, I wrote 4000 words in a day but I was feeling really good – I was writing about characters I already knew and loved without the pressure of writing something good, original and ‘final’ in my own novel project.

I enjoyed writing again! With my fiancé still being away with work 3-5 nights a week (despite a national lockdown, because watching a bunch of grown men play rugby is so important…), I could really focus on writing and I got into a good routine. Not a healthy routine, as most of my writing was done between 10pm-1am from the comfort of my bed, but I was writing and that was the important bit.

In the last week or so, momentum tailed off – I don’t think I’d really given myself the time to mentally recover from my dissertation hand in but I’d been preparing for NaNoWriMo all year and I really wanted to do it. Thousands of words a day turned to hundreds of words a day and staring at a screen for hours whilst I felt like my original characters were sticking their tongues out at me.

In the end, I made it so-close-but-not-close-enough at just over 47,000 words between the 7th and 30th of November. If I’d even written a few words in the days I was finishing my dissertation, I’m sure I would have been able to do it, but we can’t change the past, we can only learn! And I still wrote forty seven thousand bloody words!

NaNoWriMo this year was a real experience for everyone participating – it was unusual circumstances, motivation and inspiration are running at an all time low and though in theory people have ‘more time’ because we’re staying home more, it doesn’t mean there was enough mental brain space to really write like life is normal.

I do feel more motivated than ever to really ‘win’ next year – I’ve got my monthly training challenges all planned out, I’ll probably stick with writing fanfiction because it’s fun to experiment and control characters I love (though that makes it sound much more sinister than it is) and NaNoWrimo 2021 is going to be my year – my first win since 2012!

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

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July Goals

2020, fitness, goals, writing

Hello!

Another month, another set of mini goals to work towards! Having reviewed my goals for the year and looked back on my June goals, in July I’m really working towards stripping things back, focusing on what’s important to me right now and setting SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound… I think).

Hopefully with the weather being a bit brighter and restrictions easing things might feel like they’re a bit closer to getting back to ‘normal’, but I’d rather be safe than shopping so taking things day by day!

Hopefully my July goals are SMART enough to make some progress! These are my goals for the month:

  • Start Couch to 5k again – it’s been over a year since I stopped the Couch to 5k program and I think I’m ready to start again. I’m going to aim for the three runs a week that the program suggests and even if I just start by doing laps around the park just to stay flat (there’s a lot of hills where I live) trying is the important bit. I’m nervous but determined!
  • Weigh less at the end of the month than at the beginning – hand in hand with the running, I’m going to try and do some at home workouts, be more mindful about what I eat, stop snacking and generally train my body into healthier habits. Lockdown has set me back almost to my heaviest weight in 2018 (which I’m trying not to beat myself up for) so I want to make some positive change.
  • Declutter my desk work space – our little house isn’t really designed for at home working but things have gotten so cluttered that I feel more stressed about it than it helps me get work done. I want to try and do a little bit every week to make the space less intimidating and more productive, even if it just means tidying it up a little bit.
  • Writing challenge – 36,000 words – every other month this year I’ve been setting myself writing challenges working towards NaNoWriMo in November (an online challenge to write 50,000 words in 30 days!). Each month I do a writing challenge the goal is a little bit higher to get myself into the habit of writing a certain number of words per day. May’s challenge went really well so I’m hoping for the same kind of success in July, but simultaneously not putting too much pressure on myself. I have a Camp NaNoWriMo profile if anyone else is participating!
  • Craft goals – sew four face masks, finish knitting project, start new cross stitch project – I’ve written before about how handmade sewing related crafts, particularly cross stitch, have brought me such joy in lockdown so I thought setting myself some little goals would help keep me focused. Taking the decision element out of anything means I’m more likely to do it so rather than being faced with a box of embroidery thread and no direction, having something to work towards will definitely help me relax. At least, I hope it does…

And then my ongoing monthly tasks of have a date night and read at least one book still stand but I’ve managed six months with date nights and I’ve read 26 books so far this year so I think these two will be okay.

My motivation has been pretty bare minimum last month so I’m hoping to try and work to more of a routine in July. But with the world being so uncertain and changing so much, being adaptable and not putting too much pressure on myself is the main focus.

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

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cutting myself a break

2020, creativity, mental health, writing

Hello!

I don’t know why every week in lockdown seems to be more difficult, but this week I’m really struggling and I can’t put a finger on why because nothing has changed.

Blogging is something I find really therapeutic – sitting down at my laptop with a blank page and just typing long, rambly posts that are eloquent and articulate and insightful makes me feel inspired and motivated, reminding me that words are my creative tool and I fall in love with writing all over again.

But on the other hand, when I’m not feeling that inspiration or I don’t have anything important to say, the blank page feels daunting in a way that takes me by surprise. Structure and schedule has always helped me – whether it’s productivity or consistency in content, having ‘upload days’ has always made me a better blogger.

Whenever I reach a point where I think ‘yeah, I don’t need a schedule, I’ll blog when I feel inspired to share something’ I go quiet for months. Without the plan to post a blog post on certain days, the ideas just don’t come to me! Routine and structure works for me but when I don’t feel passionate about what I’m writing then it’s stilted and forced and it just becomes another element for stress (even though I really shouldn’t let it be).

I’m going through a lull right now and I need to respond to that. Earlier this year I went through a period of only uploading once a week and I felt so creatively motivated that I increased it back up to two, but I don’t think I have enough creative or mental energy for that right now.

Did I need to write a whole blog post about why I’m going from two blog posts a week down to one a week? Absolutely not – I doubt anyone would have questioned it or noticed. But getting it out of my system is therapeutic for me and in essence; this post is as much about asking too much of ourselves as it is my personal relationship with my blogging schedule. If I’ve helped reassure one person that they’re not the only one struggling, especially creatively, as lockdown gets longer and longer, then I’ve used my platform for a purpose. If it doesn’t ‘help’ anyone in the way I see influencers talking about all the time, then it’s helped me, and that’s enough.

So I’m going to go back to one blog post a week. Because lockdown is getting to me and my creativity is shaky at best anyway.

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

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how I’m cutting down my screentime

2020, books, creativity, lifestyle, mental health, writing

Hello!

I know that I don’t need to reiterate that quarantine is hard, we all know that, but one thing a lot of us have inadvertently spent a lot more time doing is looking at screens – from scrolling through Instagram, to working from home with a less regimented schedule, to Netflix to video games; so much of our entertainment is on screens.

Something I’m noticing more and more recently is that spending all day going from my phone to my laptop to the TV and back isn’t doing me any good – I don’t think it’s helping my sleep and I know I feel better when I’ve spent some time away.

I thought I’d collate a little list of the off-screen things I’m really enjoying at the moment so I can come back so it when I’m feeling a bit uninspired and maybe it’ll give you some ideas too!


  • cross stitch

I bought one of those little kits from Hobbycraft before everything closed and then ignored it for weeks. So when the weather picked up I sat outside with my cross stitch and it was lovely – I’ve been doing it on and off and I’ve nearly finished it now. It’s lovely to sit down and follow a pattern and make something creative – something that takes just enough brain power to keep you occupied but not enough brain power that it’s too hard. I’ve just bought a new kit from Etsy and I’m really excited about it.

  • knitting

I swear I have other creative hobbies that aren’t related to sewing. In my house I have one set of knitting needles and one ball of wool, but my mum sent me a pattern to make ‘ear savers’ which is essentially a headband to make face masks more comfortable for front line medical staff so I’m learning new stitches and hopefully I’ll actually be able to make something useful. Once you’ve nailed the new stitches it’s very therapeutic too!

  • making lists with coloured pens

Post-quarantine lists, things to do in quarantine, daily to do lists, weekly meal plans – everything is more exciting when you use coloured pens.

  • skincare

Spending even 5 minutes just to look after your skin and moisturise, maybe doing a face mask or a foot mask – it feels like a nice to make that time to treat yourself! Go all out and have a bath if you like, I have to wait for our new bath plug to arrive though and that’s a bit anticlimactic.

  • reading

I know I’ve been banging on about reading a lot this year but considering my goal for 2020 was 12 books and I just finished my 20th and I’m feeling more creatively driven by reading and writing than I’ve felt in an awfully long time, I’m justifiably excited about it. With the weather being typically British (unpredictable), reading is the perfect activity for sitting out in the garden catching some of that vitamin D or snuggled inside while the wind does its best to tear the trees down. So many of us have an ongoing ‘to be read’ pile and we might as well make the most of trying to cut it down a little whilst we’re encouraged to stay indoors.

  • gardening

I don’t necessarily mean landscaping your garden to make raised vegetable beds and only eating your own homegrown produce this summer! I mean making the most of the space you have (a windowsill, a balcony, any outside space) and growing something – there’s so many lovely indoor plants that can flourish at this time of year.

And it doesn’t have to be expensive – I bought a bag of soil, a small set of pots, a selection of flower seeds, some basic tools and gardening gloves in my weekly Asda shop for less than £20 and the joy of watching the seeds I planted turn into little shoots and flourishing is so satisfying and going out and watering them every day is incredibly therapeutic. I have to resist buying more every time I go shopping!

If you’re not sure where to start, I believe you can buy kitchen windowsill herb kits and grow the seasonings you use to cook! Our kitchen doesn’t have a window so I’ve opted for flowers this year but I definitely want to try tomatoes, peppers and courgettes next year!

  • journalling

If the world feels a bit big right now, I can’t express anything more therapeutic than getting all your feelings out on paper. It usually makes me feel like a weight has been lifted from my chest, sometimes it’s just a little bit so I can take a slightly bigger breath and sometimes I feel light as air but getting your feelings out of your head and onto paper is so healthy.

Then if you want you could even destroy the paper – I think I’m going to ceremoniously burn my journal when I’m finished with it. I can pretend it’s symbolic about a ‘chapter of my life ending’ but let’s be real; 1) a fire pit in the summer with friends is the best so might as well provide some kindling, 2) same applies to a BBQ, 3) there’s some parts of my life documented in that journal that I would really enjoy destroying and 4) it probably would be quite symbolic and provide a nice sense of closure.

The destroying isn’t the key part – it doesn’t even have to be on paper; you could make a private social media account that’s just for you, you could do it on the notes app on your phone or have a document on your computer. You can do it however you want in whatever medium you want, but I thoroughly recommend it.


If you’ve got any hobbies or activities that you’ve taken up during quarantine – whether to spend more time offline or to help your mental health – leave them in a comment below! We can make a big master post of ideas!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

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approaching New Year | diary 10

2019, lifestyle, writing

Hello!

Doing these little diary posts once a month really reminds me what blogging is all about and where it all began – a web log, a recount of goings-on and a log of activities. The priority on my little corner of the internet will always be having something that I can look back on and 1) be proud of and 2) serve as a little reminder of who I was when I posted, even if that’s not who I am now.

And writing rambly blog posts that all come out in one go are my favourite and I think they’re the nicest ones to look back on!

So today I wanted to talk about how the end of the year is fast approaching – it feels like my entire Instagram and Twitter feeds are either full of Christmas or ‘it’s the end of the decade, have you achieved anything, get off your ass and do something‘ and personally I feel attacked (note the sarcasm).

But for real, it’s very intense and makes me think I haven’t achieved anything but at the turn of the last decade I was 13 – I’m a completely different person to who I was at 13 and that’s definitely for the better. I’ve finished my GCSEs, finished my A Levels, finished my undergraduate degree, finished a post-graduate certificate and I’m now studying a masters that I’ll finish in September next year – I’m starting the next decade as a masters student and hopefully that’ll be the beginning of a much more exciting decade full of learning but not in an institution that racks up my debt any further than it already is.

Outside of academic achievements, I’ve been on two charity expeditions to Tanzania and Ecuador, each for a month for the most amazing, terrifying and life-changing experiences. I’ve moved across country and met people that are going to be friends for the rest of my life. I lost friends that I thought I’d have for the rest of my life (but that’s just how the world works).

I met the love of my life. I’m a proper renting adult with proper bills and a car to pay for. I learnt to drive! As soon as the list begins you realise that 10 years is a long ass time and so much can happen in that time.

With that in mind I shunned the pressures of the internet and thought about the here and now – how do I feel going into the New Year?

Generally, the signposts of the passing of time scare me – I like routine, I like consistency and whilst I consider myself someone who adapts to change quite well, I’m definitely working on being someone who embraces and enjoys change. There were several New Year’s Eve’s as a teenager where I’d silently cry in my room as Big Ben rung over to the New Year and I couldn’t stop thinking that ‘this year’s going to be worse than last year’ and ‘I won’t be any happier next New Year’ so I’m grateful that I’m no longer trapped feeling that sad and lonely. But the New Year still scares me a little bit.

So I try to focus on the things that I enjoy – as I detailed in my last post, I love organisation, goals and planning so January is going to be almost exclusively resolutions, yearly goals, goals reviews and the likes! I’m actually really excited about that because 2019 started in a very different frame of mind and my goals reflected that so I feel more prepared to make my goals for the next year.

In a typical ‘I’m a student mindset’ I can’t really focus too much on the New Year or Christmas because I have about a million deadlines (five) to hand in before that and they’re big and stressful, but after that I’ve got a few shifts at work, Christmas, New Year with my family, then three weeks of working at much as possible before it all begins again with semester 2.

Generally, the New Year is a good time for me – it’s another chance at a fresh start and new goals and resetting. That’s what I’m trying to focus on.

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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November Goals ’19

2019, goals, lifestyle, organisation, writing

Hello!

How is it nearly the end of the year? My favourite month September went by in a FLASH and now it’s November and I feel like time is going by quicker than I can keep track of it! Not that I’m complaining – I’m getting better at handling the passing of time and I’m getting excited about the prospect of the future and a career again.

Rambles aside, it’s time for a new set of monthly goals – if nothing springs to mind I always refer back to my goals for the year that I set in January which helps me focus and make progress on my mid-term goals. Little top tip for you there! If you’d like a post about how I set goals then please do let me know, this is something I’d love to pursue but I feel like I haven’t achieved enough to warrant making this an aspect of my career.

I’m rambling again! Onto the goals…

One – be more productive with uni work
I don’t mean in the ‘getting more done’ sense, I mean working more consistently and achieving more in the long run if that makes sense. At the moment, I’m slowly trucking away and then I have to work just that little bit harder in the two or three days before an assignment is due to finish off. Even if I spread that work out over a week, I can work in shorter periods and get more done and work on more assignments at a time.

To implement this (another goal setting time – don’t just make goals, plan how to achieve them!) I think I need to start breaking my time down into more scheduled chunks. I’ve always been against this because I’ve taken the mindset that a task will take however long it takes but if I’m spending hours dragging my feet through one task, I’d probably be better off going and doing something else and coming back to it. SO if I set myself an hour of working on one assignment and then I’m going to spend an hour doing some reading for another unit and then an hour writing blog posts then I’ve at least made some progress in all three elements rather than taking all day to reach the point I wanted on a certain assignment.

Two – settle into my new job and the new routine
Getting a job has taken longer than I anticipated because I spent so long looking for jobs in the place where we were going to move and then we ended up moving somewhere else and then there was complications with my applications in the place we actually move to then there were complications with start dates but I’m finally due to start my new retail job next week.

I’ve made this one of my goals because my original intention was not to work in retail – I wanted an office job where I could refine my admin skills, but I just don’t really know where to look and the job I now have actually fits really well with where we live and where my boyfriend works so I just need to give myself permission to potentially enjoy it. I think I might be working in the homeware department so that’s always exciting!

Three – eat a bit more healthily and track my weight again
Now that we’ve moved and I’ve got a bit more control about what I’m eating (and I’ve rediscovered how much I love vegetables) I feel ready to start making small life changes to get back to the healthier lifestyle I had this time last year.

Being brutally hones, I’ve put on about seven pounds since my lowest weight of this year but you know what? That’s really not a massive setback and I can see lots of really obvious habits in my life that I can adapt so I’m looking forward to the challenge in a way.

Four – finish two books!
I made a good dent in catching up on my reading goal of 12 books for the year in September/October but fell off the wagon a bit with moving stress but I’d really like to be back on track by the beginning of December.

I’m currently reading ‘Our Stop’ by Laura Jane Williams and next I’ll be reading ‘The Black Book of Secrets’ by F. E. Higgins.

Five – NaNoWriMo/write every day
And last but not least – another writing challenge! This is what I’ve been training for all year and I actually don’t feel prepared at all but as with the first week of any writing challenge I do, I’m excited – the key now it’s to maintain that momentum.

Although the goal is to hit 50,000 words, I’m not too fussed about the word count because I haven’t had the time to plan the novel redraft that I wanted to write, I’ve got a masters to get and a life to deal with but my focus is making writing a habit. I will be writing a combination of my original novel, a bit of fanfiction and some creative writing exercises just to get words on paper. I did consider including blog posts and any uni writing I have to do but I feel like that’s taking the mick a little bit!

My wrimo profile is sophiecountsclouds, if anyone wants to add me!

So those are my focuses for November! Writing these posts always motivates me – I love a new start and a new month just gives me a little boost and after how hectic October was, I needed that.

Bonus question – I started drafting a blog post during the week of a ‘day in the life of a masters student’ and I started feeling very insecure about whether this would actually be interesting to anyone? So let me know if you have any thoughts on that!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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remember when I blogged every day for a year?

2019, lifestyle, writing

Hello!

My blogging journey has just passed it’s FIVE YEAR anniversary – in that time I’ve written literally hundreds of blog posts, spent hours at my keyboard and learnt a lot about my writing style and myself in the process.

Blogging is something I literally recommend to anyone – got a niche skill? Blog about it! Want to document your life to look back on with your family in the future? Start a private blog! Just got lots of opinions that you’d like to share with a community? A blog is for you! I genuinely think blogging is for everyone.

And I love blogging – knowing that I can allot maybe an hour twice a week to just spill my heart out through the tips of my fingers and then curate those words and make sure there’s at least one decent picture to go with it all and promote it over my social media channels, I find it so therapeutic. Especially in the last few months where I’ve really solidified what purpose I have my blog for and what I want from it (and that not being a career or audience growth, particularly – though that would be lovely!), my blog is my little safe space of the internet to share my thoughts and feelings and pictures and I really do love it.

But then I think back to 2015 and one of the most… interesting snap decisions I ever made.

On New Years Day 2015 one of my cousins posted a picture on instagram that said ‘page 1 of 365’ and I immediately thought that would be a fantastic series for a blog that I had just launched because every university open day I went to said I should have one… and then I was writing and I was committed to writing 365 blog posts.

This is the year where I was trying to recover my A Level grades from the disaster that was my AS results, I was fundraising to spend a month in Ecuador with Camps International, I moved almost 200 miles away to go to uni, started uni, also happened to meet my now long term boyfriend all whilst writing a blog post pretty much every single day. The more I think about it the more impressed I am with 18/19 year old me – I pre-wrote over 30 blog posts for whilst I was in South Africa and I bossed my A Levels (considering what they were), I suffered some of my lowest lows and lost some important friends whilst meeting the people that were a huge part of my transition to university.

2015 was a huge year for me which is part of the reason I decided to do the blogging series, but the fact that I managed to maintain and successfully write three hundred and sixty five blog posts is just another achievement in itself!

Looking back, a lot of the things I wrote about are things I wouldn’t write about now. I think my style is a lot less formal and more chatty, I have much more confidence in what I want to write about and I feel like I’ve learnt a lot about life – not just from blogging but I was 18 when I started my blog and next week I turn 23, a lot changes in five years and I have grown up a lot.

I couldn’t do another year of daily blogging I know that for sure – I don’t think anyone’s creativity really let’s them make good, original content every single day and the quality would have to suffer to make that much content. Even if blogging was your full time job there’s still days with meetings and interviews and business stuff and social stuff that takes whole days and unless you were incredibly organised all the time I think it would be a real challenge for anyone. Now I definitely prioritise my own sanity and the quality of my writing over posting more frequently.

And to be honest? I don’t think I’d want to – having that much time to spend on my blog would be amazing but I’d rather spend all that time making really good content once or twice a week. I’m busy to be honest – I’m going back to uni, I’m going to be working part time, I have a social life and friends to catch up with, I like spending time with my family and I’ve worked so hard on my personal development this year and I’m so proud of myself. My time management and productivity has come on in leaps and bounds – I regularly get all the things on my daily to do lists done because I’ve really refined what works for me and throwing ‘publishing a blog post every single day’ into the mix isn’t something I want to commit myself to.

So what’s the purpose of this blog post? A little bit of self reflection and a delayed pat on the back – I achieved so much in 2015 and it stands as one of the best (and worst) years of my life and I’m really glad I documented it. Daily blogging definitely has it’s place, but I’ve done my time I think!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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training to write a book

2019, books, goals, writing

Hello!

For four of the seven months of this year so far, I’ve set myself ‘writing challengers’ of writing a certain amount of words in so many days. It started at 20k, then 25k, 30k, 35k and in August I’m aiming to write 40,000 words.

All of this is my way of training myself to write an increasing amount of words per day to work up to the 50,000 words in 30 days that is NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month – an online community aiming to write a novel in a month!).

My history with creative writing started all the way back in October 2008 when I was on a family holiday and I found a loose tile at the bottom of the swimming pool and I was inspired to write my own story inspired by the characters in BBC’s Merlin (what a throwback) so my journey with fanfiction began.

From there, I was writing every single night sat in front of the TV with my family – whether it be a notebook, my laptop or my iPad I was always writing from 2008 all the way through to 2015 really when I left for uni. In 2011 I gave my first attempt at NaNoWriMo but only made it to the 15/16k mark – in 2012 I won NaNoWriMo and wrote the first draft of my novel that one day I’ve vowed to publish and I’ve told my best friend Katy she can play the lead female character when it gets made into a film too so I’ve got to keep that promise.

Then I went to uni. And I spent evenings with friends rather than alone watching TV and writing fanfiction and developing my own novel – at various points over my degree I tried to get back into it but I just didn’t have the time or the motivation to properly invest myself in writing again.

And then came the year after I graduated where I couldn’t get a job to start my career and I’m back in my childhood bedroom but I’m 22 and my long term boyfriend is with me.

Either way, I had much more time to dedicate to writing! I tried NaNoWriMo again in 2018 but it really is a challenge, however it gave me the drive to rediscover what I loved about creative writing and get back into it – thus the monthly challenges training for WriMo begin!

The challenges have been a mixed bag so far – the first one went really well, the other one was a complete failure, the third one started well but I fell behind a little a caught up in the early days of the following month. The most recent challenge I didn’t really start writing until about a week in and somehow I pulled it back and finished a whopping 35,000 words in July ready to jump straight into 40,000 words in August!

What I’ve found in the last three months works really well is using fanfiction and writing prompts just to get myself writing anything – having 30 prompts to write short little excerpts with characters I’m already familiar with and haven’t had to design has really got me in the right mindset and excited about delving into my own characters again in November where I’m hoping to finish draft 2 of my original winning novel seven years down the line!

In June I used Carrie Hope Fletcher’s May, Myself and I words as prompts, in July I used Hannah Witton’s Dear June and for August my darling, hilarious boyfriend has written 31 prompts for me to follow. I’m genuinely surprised that they were so thoughtful – I’ve got a good boy that will endorse my little writing challenges and I don’t know about you, but I think I have the best boyfriend (he’s my favourite team mate).

That’s a little summary of how I’ve been training for NaNoWriMo this year – creative writing has been my biggest outlet since I was 12 years old. In my worst moments, I take my feelings and vent them out in fiction and it just make everything feel much less isolating – especially back in the days where I shared my fanfiction and I got so much positive feedback from pieces that were written from the heart and that’s always been how I write. For my blog, for my creative writing – I want everything I write to sound genuine and conversational and I think I’ve done that fairly successfully.

There’s still three months until NaNoWriMo begins but I’m already excited!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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700 blog posts later!

2019, creativity, writing

Hello!

When looking for inspiration for my blog this month, I noticed that I’m really close to having published 700 blog posts – this one makes 699 and Saturday’s post will be my 700th blog post! Isn’t that mental?

Especially when I think that in 2015 I published 365 blog posts, so almost half of my blog posts were published in 2015 and let’s just say my style has changed a lot since then!

If you’re feeling nosy – here’s a link to my first post! It’s not formatted very well because I started my blog on blogger and moved to WordPress about 3 years ago. It’s so formal and pretentious and I thought I was being really unique by having a tagline at the end instead of saying goodbye like a normal person.

It’s so strange to look back on that post and know that it was almost 5 years ago – in 5 years I’ve finished sixth form, got a degree, done a whole host of things and still love blogging. Being able to sit down and watch a blinking cursor is somehow liberating, I can just write whatever I’m thinking about and having this platform to share my thoughts, feelings and advice on has been such an incredible creative outlet for me.

I would genuinely recommend for everyone to start blogging – if you want to refine your writing and really figure out your style, if you have a message you want to put out in the world if you want to blog just for yourself and the memories like an online diary I genuinely think it’s a great skill and a wonderful outlet.

And to be able to look back on five years of my life is so special – I’ve documented the day I got my first tattoo, my variety of hair colours, advice on starting university, fashion, beauty, bullet journalling, post-grad life, a bit of travel, my relationship – so much to look back on and I love it so much.

Writing isn’t for everyone – I know that it’s a skill that a lot of people just don’t want to invest their time in. It’s easier to scroll through Instagram or watch videos on YouTube but I really don’t think there’s anything more therapeutic than getting everything out in words, whether it’s in a journal or a blog post there’s such a relief in writing something out. It’s the longest version of writing out a text and not sending it!

I mean, granted there’s a difference between sending an emotion filled text and writing a blog post on the internet for anyone to read.

Nearly 700 blog posts and nearly 5 years really have flown by – I can’t wait to see what happens in the next 5 years and 700 blog posts bring! I wonder what style I’ll be writing in then?

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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