books

Ditching technology for paper

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This month I have gone back in time by three years, as I have purchased a paper moleskin diary in an attempt to get myself more organised.

I’ve been struggling to manage my time and the amount of tasks that I do during the week – and this is not even tasks to do with the day job.

Since beginning high school at the age of twelve I have kept a paper diary. I’ve even still got old diaries hidden away in my cupboards which now and again I’ll have a look at.

Three years ago I decided to embrace technology more, ditch the paper diary and keep everything on my electronic calendar which is on my mobile and on my work Outlook.

It works a treat. Every single appointment for myself, the kids and even the husband are added to the electronic calendar.

I’ve even gone as far as colour coding the various appointments.

It was working a treat until last month I ended up being asked to take on regular online writing, putting together match programmes for my sons sports team, arranging interviews for my weekly radio show and not to mention my own writing deadlines with the radio soap.

A lot of deadlines to remember every week, and I was starting to feel overwhelmed that I couldn’t keep a track on tasks and appointments.

Being organised is one thing that I am really good at in my day job. I can organise as many activities that are thrown my way, multi-task, prioritise and delegate.

Yet in my personal life I always feel like I’m drowning.

So I decided to go back to 2010 and purchase a paper diary so that I could see if it would help me in my aim to organise my private life.

Not that I need much encouraging in purchasing new stationery items. I decided to purchase a small moleskin diary which has the week listed on one side and a lined sheet on the opposite side which I use as a to do list/reminders.

Not to mention the colour-coded stickers.

Amazingly going back to the retro paper based product has worked a treat.
There’s also something really satisfying about crossing off items on a ‘to do list’ as well.

It has also made me realise just how much writing I am actually doing each week.

I may not be making progress on my personal scripts. I am however, writing two scenes per week for my collaborative radio soap, several features for a sports programme per week, online articles and submitting sketches and one-liners for a BBC radio show.

Have you ever ditched paper for paper-less, did it work for you?

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23 July : All time favourite book #wpad

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old lady and fly

There was an old woman swallowed a fly.

I don’t know why she swallowed a fly.

Perhaps she’ll die.

This was my favourite book as a child, and when my son was a toddler I hunted high and low to find a copy (there was no Amazon back then).

A fabulous story, with a gruesome ending.

10 July : Where I write #wpad

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Every writer needs their own space in order to get their bum on a seat and put words onto a screen.

I’m no exception.

I’m fortunate enough to have a converted loft room which houses my desk, chair, music and book shelves. There are two sofa beds and a TV too, as I am frequently joined by my youngest wee boy when I am up there.

Not one to normally brag about things, but I do have the best desk ever. It is designed specifically for people with back conditions which I have suffered with in the past. The desk is a hydraulic powered one (I think that is what it is called anyway), so when the back is playing up I can just press a switch and it will rise high enough that I can write while standing up.

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Computer

The best venue that I have written at is Gladstone Library http://www.gladstoneslibrary.org I spent a couple of days there last year when I was working on my script for the end of my first year masters.

Walking into the library, I felt like I had walked into Hogwarts. Single desks with lamps are scattered across the library and there is a real sense of creativity being made in the one space. I’ll be booking a few days there again when I start work on my final project in the next academic year.

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This is a post for http://www.writesofluid.com blog writing challenge. One blog post a day for all of July.

What makes a good read? Challenge 12

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What makes a good read? What is it in a story that makes you want to pick that book up or switch on the kindle and snuggle up to be drawn into an imaginary world?.

I remember learning to read at school. The books back then were Dick and Dora, Fluff and Nip books. dick_and_dora3

The exhilaration I used to feel when I had read a word correctly, remains with me now. I recall bringing reading books home and being so excited when I could recognise a word that I had learnt. That was the only part of starting school that I was looking forward to – being taught how to read.

I enjoyed group reading in primary school as I have discussed in a previous blog post. In the summer holidays I was always at the library, and in the summer of 1985 a brand new library was built in Clayton Green which I practically lived in. There was not much else to do in the area that I grew up in, unless you wanted to hang around the shops. I certainly didn’t want to do that, I’d rather hang out with my friends from Sweet Valley High, Famous Five and Nancy Drew.sweet valley high

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I tend to always finish books, but that’s more about my personality than anything. I am a “finisher off” and regardless of the quality of story, plot and characters I think about the author and the hard work that they undertook to write this story. I also think, I should keep going with a story as it may get better. That was certainly the case for the Stieg Larrson’s “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” first novel. Those first two hundred pages were a drag, but I persevered as I had read so many good reviews about the book. Glad I did as it was as good as the reviews stated.dragon tattoo

I am currently reading “We need to talk about Kevin” by Lionel Shriver. I am finding it uncomfortable to read, as it is dealing with a delicate subject but the characters of Kevin and Eva are so captivating that I want to know more about them as people. I am pretty sure that Kevin’s story will be different to the story that Eva is telling at the moment.

So that’s what makes a good read.

– Memorable characters. Likeable characters who have many flaws that they become interesting to observe. I like to identify with a character, but of course I don’t want them completely like me – that would be boring. I want their characters to drive their actions, and to see the results of this unfold before my eyes. I like strong, female characters who are not the typical cliché of what a woman is. In ‘We need to talk about Kevin’, Eva is a successful, professional woman with her own business who travels around the world. She didn’t want children, but thought she better had as that was the done thing to do. The repercussion is that she developed post-natal depression and never bonded with her son. A memorable character.

– Cliffhangers. I want something to happen that will make me want to read onto the next chapter. It could be the smallest detail, but when I invest my time in a book I want it to be the most difficult task for me to put the book down. It’s nice to be taken from reality, and if that fantasy world is captivating and exciting, then please keep me there for a while longer. That washing can wait.

– Good writing. I won’t profess to be an expert otherwise I would have been published by now, but a book has to read well and not annoy the hell out of me. Only one book did that and it was 50 Shades. I know, I’m sorry I bought into the hype and read the first one. Only the first mind you, the writing really frustrated me. The “Oh my”, and references to the internal goddess and all that guff – yes I wrote the word guff!

What do you think makes a good read?

This is a post for http://www.writesofluid.com’s blog writing challenge. One blog post a day for all of June – I’m behind already but determined to catch up #wpad

Favourite fictional character – Day 4 of the June challenge

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One thing I loved about primary school was that half an hour at the end of the day when the class would read a novel together. It may be a thing of the past now in primary schools, but it certainly cemented my love of stories and books. The teacher would hand out parts, she would read the non-dialogue part of the story and if you were a competent reader then you would be given a part.

When we read Watership Down I played the part of Hazel, the lead rabbit in the story. But, from the start of the book I wanted to be Bigwig. Bigwig

Bigwig is the large, strong rabbit and has a distinct tuft of hair. Not only does Bigwig look different from the other rabbits, he is fearless, a great leader and friend, and he also has a sense of humour. On the arrival of General Woundwort into the story, I found myself feeling fearful for those main characters, but surprisingly always felt safe as reader whenever Bigwig was around. He is such a courageous character and will often put himself in harm’s way to protect the others around him. For those characteristics alone, he is one of my favourite fictional characters.

It was many years ago that I read that book with my classmates, but I’ll always be fond of it, and Bigwig was one of the first characters that I became aware of and I remember never wanting the bell to ring, so I could find out whether he survived the wrath of Woundwort.

Bigwig v Woundwort