At the start of the year I set myself a few goals, some personal, some professional. I wanted to feel creative and challenged. I wanted to start making more time for myself. Actually, it was more than that. I wanted to learn to be ok with putting myself first sometimes.
It’s easy to feel like your life has been put on hold when you become a parent; every time you make a decision you have to put someone else’s wants and needs first. But this month I’ve decided to do something just for me. Two things actually! I signed up for some workshops.
The Green Room in Hayle is hosting a series of creative workshops and there were a couple that caught my eye, so I booked some precious annual leave and signed myself up. Go me!
Earlier this week I went along to my first session: Feel the Fear and Write it Anyway with local writer Anna Mansell. Anna has published three books, with a fourth due for release next week and a fifth on the way. Throughout the morning, she spoke about leaving her marketing job with a theatre company to focus on her writing, and how she regular battles imposter syndrome. It was a really insightful session and it gave me the opportunity to think about why I blog and where I want it to take me.
There were seven of us in the group, each at different stages of our careers and hoping to get something different out of the morning. We were a group of filmmakers, bloggers, fiction writers and people who knew they wanted to write but didn’t know where to start. What I appreciated was that no-one had to share anything they were working on, it was more about giving us a space to write freely and authentically.
Anna had prepared some activities for us to work through to help get the creative juices flowing. I approached them a bit differently, as someone who doesn’t consider themself to be a creative writer, and used the prompts for self-reflection and goal setting.
The first task was to imagine yourself looking into a mirror and writing about what the mirror would say to you. I initially wrote about what I think when I look in the mirror and it was very negative and focused on my appearance. Then I addressed that and counteracted it by focusing on what I would say to encourage myself.
I realised how big a problem Imposter Syndrome has become for me, even though I’ve had a relatively successful start to the year. In fact, the previous day I’d had a really encouraging conversation with a brand I’ve just started working with but I knew it wouldn’t take long for that glow to wear off. For some reason, I have a tendency to focus on anything negative for a prolonged period of time and anything positive quickly washes over me.
The most creative activity focused on the concept of ‘show don’t tell’. Rather than exploring the prompts and writing my own creative examples, I got to thinking. The task seemed to encourage being mindful and being in the moment. It also reminded me of blogs like Sarah‘s and Alex‘s, where they use beautiful original photography and tell a story, rather than write as I do. Their writing is so creative and descriptive, whereas mine is more matter of fact. I pondered if this was something I wanted to bring into my own writing and what else I could do to make my posts more interesting and stand out amongst the countless other lifestyle blogs.
I also thought back to a book review I read a while back which was structured unlike any other I’d read before. If books and stationery are going to be my main focus, what can I do to make my posts more personal? I’ve already attempted this somewhat in past reviews (Why I March, The Grown-Ass Women’s Club) but I think I need to pick a style and be more consistent.
I hadn’t really thought before about where I want this blog to take me. Obviously the dream is to make a living from it but I know that’s not realistic, particularly with my niche, so I thought about goals and milestones. I realised it’s not about the amount of followers I have (although I’d bleddy love the swipe up on Instagram), or how many page views I get a month. It’s about reputation and reliability. I want to grow to the stage where I have opportunities to attend, or even host, literary events, such as author Q&As, panels and literary festivals. I want to reach the dizzy heights of Grace Latter, The Literary Edit, Dolly Alderton and Emma Gannon. I want to be able to interview my favourite authors and even sit on a panel for a major literary prize. That’s the dream. Maybe that’s as unrealistic as making a living from this blog but at least now I have ‘vision’ and lots of mini goals to help me get there.
The final part of the session allowed us to focus on what we’re currently working on and Anna came around to talk to us all in turn. I knew I wanted to write a blog post on the workshop, so I got to work on that, and I also used the opportunity to interview Anna about her career and influences. Pop back tomorrow to read the interview in full.
I’m definitely interested in investing more in myself and the blog and have been thinking about signing up for coaching/mentoring sessions. Have you ever tried it?