Letters From Camp #1: Prepping For Camp NaNoWriMo

Camp NaNoWriMo July 2019

This July, I have decided to take part in Camp NaNoWriMo.

camp_nano_logo.png

I’m guessing if you’re here, then you’re familiar with NaNoWriMo, but if not – NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. It takes place every November and it involves people all around the globe pledging to write 50,000 words in one month. Camp NaNoWriMo is a similar event which happens every April and July. It’s a little more relaxed and you can set your own goal if you don’t want to write 50,000 words. Either way, the aim is to write every day for a month and get a first draft of something written. Some people use it for editing, short stories or poetry, rather than a novel.

Personally, I’m going for a novel. A novel for children, to be precise. I have an idea that I’ve been working on in the back of my mind for a couple of months and I have decided to attempt 30,000 words in the month of July to get a first draft created and ready for editing!

I don’t want to talk too much about my story or my plans for it, in superstitious fear of jinxing it! But I am planning on sharing as much of my month with you as possible. Thus begins: Letters to Camp!

This series will be a bit of a diary for me and, hopefully, some help for any of you who are also attempting Camp NaNoWriMo now or in the future. I am hoping to check in once a week at least, to update you on my progress and how I’m finding the month.

Today, I thought we’d talk prep and goals.

person writing on white book
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

As far as prep goes, writers who attempt NaNo often talk about being a ‘plotter’ or a ‘pantser’. I.e. someone who plans their whole plot in depth, or someone who just wings it and lets the story tell itself! Personally, I’d say I’m a bit in between. A plantser. I have a very rough outline of my story, just a basic spider diagram of a plot outline, but I don’t have anything too detailed.

I know where I need to start and end, and a few points I want to hit in the middle. I’m hoping that will be enough for me to work through at a good pace, whilst also letting the story and characters pull me along a little bit and show me what to do. Just enough planning to keep me comfortable, but enough winging it to be true to my nature!

person holding black pen and book near pink ceramic mug
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

So what are my goals for the month?

Word Count: 30,000 words

I have set myself a goal of 700 words on work days, and just over 1300 words on non-work days. I thought this seemed a more realistic approach than expecting myself to write the same amount on a busy day at school as I would on an empty Saturday. I’m hoping this will keep me moving and, most importantly, writing every day through the month of July, but still able to keep up with my work and other commitments. On the last couple of days of the month I’ll be travelling (Honeymoon – yay!) so I’m also hoping that if I need to catch up a little bit, a long flight will help.

I really just want to stay committed to writing something every day. I’ve never finished a manuscript before and I would love to say on July 31st, “I did this. I won Camp NaNoWriMo!”

 

So – that’s me! I have no idea how I’m going to get on but I believe in myself enough that I think I can win and write 30,000 of a (hopefully passable) children’s novel in one month – whaaatt?!!

What are your plans for Camp NaNoWriMo? Let me know in the comments and let’s smash this!

Advertisements

5 Ways to Spend Your Morning

I would say that I’m a morning person.

That is to say, I’m more likely to be productive in the morning than in the evening. On the days that I drag myself out of bed nice and early, I usually get a lot done. Unfortunately, being a morning person doesn’t always equate to being someone who gets out of bed early! Although, I am getting better at that. I find that on a Saturday, I prefer to be out of bed before 8am, eating a good breakfast, heading to Parkrun and doing some chores.

What I’m not so good at, however, is getting up early on work days. From Monday to Friday, I tend to leave it as late as possible to roll out of bed!

For a while, I got up at 5am and went to the gym before work. That didn’t last long! But what I did find during that time was that I liked having time to myself in the mornings. It’s a great time to reflect, relax and set yourself up for the day. Ever since, I’ve been trying to develop my ideal morning routine. It’s a lot of trial and error, and I’m not quite there yet, but I thought I would share a few ideas in case, like me, you’re still trying to find your ideal morning routine.

So here are 5 ideas for activities you could integrate into your morning routine to get your day off to a perfect start:

Read a book

Reading a book

This has got to be my favourite thing to squeeze into my morning. I like to set myself a time, usually just 10 or 15 minutes, where all I do is enjoy my current read. Perhaps you’d prefer a page goal in the morning to keep you on track? Either way, it’s the perfect way to carve out some time to yourself to get lost in a story or to work on some self-development.

Here are some cosy reading recommendations.

Plan

Talking self-development, why not spend some time planning in the morning? Personally, I like to plan the day ahead. I write myself a to-do list that includes everything from ‘Return ASOS order’ to ‘Make dinner’, so that I know exactly what my day’s going to look like. You might prefer to work on some long-term planning in the morning instead. Have a look at your five year plan or your monthly goals and see what you can do that day to make them happen.

Stretch

There’s nothing like a good stretch to wake you up in the morning!

balance body exercise female
Photo by Burst on Pexels.com

You could do a short yoga session, or just stretch your body however feels good to you. Personally, I like to follow any full-body stretch routine I can find on Youtube, and then work on any sore muscles with a foam roller. If you hit the gym a lot, I’d 100% a good foam roller for your muscles! Painful, but worth it.

Eat what nourishes you

And I mean your body and your mind. Eat something that fuels you with the right nutrients, as well as being delicious.

Close up white coffee cup with heart shape latte art on wood tab

When I have time to make a good breakfast in the morning, I always feel good for the rest of the day. My go-to options are either porridge with cacao and berries, or peanut butter and banana on toast. Whatever I have, I love to wash it down with a strong cup of coffee. It sets me up for an energetic day and usually leads to better food choices all day.

Do something creative

Even if you don’t think of yourself as a creative person – there’s a lot to be said for trying something creative first thing in the morning. For me, this is usually writing, either fiction writing or writing a blog post. You could also try painting, drawing, crafts, journalling, scrapbooking, playing an instrument or even learning a new language or completing some puzzles. Anything that stretches your brain and gets your creative juices flowing is a good way to start your day.

I hope that you can use one or more of these ideas in your morning routine. Let me know if you have any other suggestions!

logo_size_icon

Morning Routine P

May Favourites

I’m going to do it. I’m going to start a favourites post by saying ‘How on earth did it get to June already?!’ I’m one of those people.

But, seriously. It’s June??
May has been a really busy month for me and I’ve honestly just felt like the whole month passed me by without me noticing. However, there have still been quite a few things that have made me smile this month or captured my interest.

Darkmilk bar, ginger shampoo and a book flatlay

Let’s start with one of my favourite ways to wind down in the evening – TV!

Game of Thrones

Yes, it was controversial. No, it wasn’t perfect. But I really loved watching the final season of Game of Thrones. I won’t spoil it for anyone (but seriously – have you not watched it yet??) so all I say is that although I wasn’t a huge fan of the final episode, the rest of the series really impressed me. The cinematography was incredible, the cast were amazing and I think for the most part the show was wrapped up well.

Chernobyl

So I’m not up-to-date with this one yet, so please no spoilers!
About a week ago, Mr W and I sat down to watch Chernobyl because we had heard so many people saying really great things about it. They weren’t wrong!
This show is so atmospheric, so tense, and just utterly heartbreaking. It is a fascinating drama based on the true story of the nuclear power station accident in Chernobyl in the 1980s and, although I don’t know an awful lot about the real story, I think they are doing an amazing job of telling it. Some of the characters make me so angry! It really is a heartbreaking story and, at times, quite hard to watch. But I would highly recommend it, it’s some of the best TV I’ve seen in a while. (It’s on Sky Atlantic, available via Now TV)

Cadburys Darkmilk

Cadbury Darkmilk

Yum!
Not much to say – it’s a really nice bar of chocolate! But I’m a huge chocolate fan, so I thought I’d give this a mention. It’s a mixture between dark chocolate and milk chocolate. I wasn’t sure if I liked the sound of it, but it’s really delicious. The perfect choice if you want something that is a bit decadent, not completely dark chocolate…. just, yum.

Vans (finally!)

white canvas pair of vans with a bow

I have had my eyes on many different pairs of Vans over the years, but I’ve never been able to justify the cost of buying ‘branded’ shoes, unless they’re for running. But a couple of weeks ago, on the hunt for some decent shoes to replace by old New Look slip-ons, I finally bit the bullet.

I love that the colour of these Vans go with everything but the bow detail makes them just a little bit quirky. They’re really comfy, although I do need to get some new little slip-on socks to wear with them, to avoid blisters. I really hope these are going to last me a long time.

The Body Shop Ginger Shampoo

Ginger Shampoo.png

This is honesty one of the best shampoos I’ve tried in years – I’m so glad I picked it up!

It’s actually an anti-dandruff shampoo, which I bought because I have been experiencing a really dry and itchy scalp recently that was driving me mad! So far, this shampoo seems to be doing the trick, and on top of that it makes my hair feel really shiny and healthy. I love The Body Shop and this is definitely going to be one of my new go-to products from their range.

And last but not least…

Hive

Hive the Game

Me and Mr W love a board game. Some of our favourites for two-player games are Forbidden Island, Pandemic and Plague. I might do a blog post soon about our favourites and why they’re so good!

This month we were in Waterstones and we picked up Hive.* I’d heard of it before but didn’t know much about it, but we played about 10 rounds of it as soon as we got home, and now we’re hooked!

It’s a two-player game, so perfect for couples looking for a new game to play. The idea is to use your pieces to surround the other person’s queen bee. Each piece can move in a different way, and the whole gameplay area becomes the ‘hive’. It’s really easy to pick up, quick to play, and comes in a really handy travel-sized bag that is definitely coming on honeymoon with us!

So they were some of the things I’ve been loving this month. More than I thought!
As always, you can see what I’m currently reading or watching all through the month here.

I really enjoyed writing this post, I hope you enjoyed reading it just as much!

Let me know what you’ve been loving in the comments 🙂

logo_size_icon

*Please note – any Amazon links are affiliate, which means they won’t cost you any more, but I might earn a small commission if you buy the product

A hand holding a small globe

‘Big Issue Guilt’ and Why It’s Okay to Start Small

The world is a big scary place.

A hand holding a small globe
Sometimes it feels like you have to carry all the problems in the world… Photo by Porapak Apichodilok on Pexels.com

 

Let’s be honest, there are a lot of things to feel worried, annoyed or stressed about at the moment, outside of the bubble of our own lives. Politicians are making some pretty dreadful decisions on our behalf, the planet’s falling to pieces and sometimes it feels like we’re taking a backwards step in our battle for equality and fair rights.

I know that’s a pretty negative way to start a blog post, but stick with me if you can.

I know that all the negative news stories and bad things happening around the world can be make us feel really, really bad. I’ve recently deleted the news app I had on my phone, because I found that scrolling through it every day just made me feel sad and overwhelmed. As soon as I deleted the app, however, I felt guilty. Shouldn’t I be taking an interest in world news? Shouldn’t I be educating myself as much as possible so that I can help people to make the world a better place?

Here lies the problem.

I call it ‘big issue guilt’ – that guilt you feel when you can’t single-handedly solve the huge problems that the world is facing. When you feel like you’re never doing enough.

You’re using metal straws and re-usable coffee cups. You buy eco-friendly cleaning products and none of your make-up is tested on animals. You adopted your pet cat from a rescue, rather than buying from a breeder. You avoid ‘fast fashion’ as much as you can within your tight budget. You celebrate LGBT authors and try hard to buy books with diverse characters at their heart. You vote in elections and don’t eat meat.

But somehow, it just doesn’t feel enough.

a thick scarf and a hand holding a hot drink

You can’t fix climate change by using a metal water bottle.

So part of you starts to think, what’s the point? You get overwhelmed by ‘big issue guilt’ and your anxiety starts to spiral.

Sound familiar?

I’m hoping it’s not just me that feels this way! I am always trying to improve my awareness of the world’s issues and see what I can do to help. I am that person I described above, always making sure to vote, educate myself, and change my purchasing habits to try to help. But I quite often get paralysed by this fear and guilt that I can’t ever do enough. And no, I can’t fix climate change by myself or stop the beauty industry from testing on animals ever again. I can’t make politicians see the sense in allowing abortions or gay marriage, but I can do my part.

At the end of the day, all we can do is start small. If enough of us are making small changes to our day or speaking up now and then, it will all add up and, hopefully, start to change the minds of the people in charge, whose changes really matter!

It’s okay to start small. You can’t solve every huge world problem. Your anxiety is not going to thank you for trying. But you can…

  • Make eco-friendly and sustainable purchases where possible.
  • Go vegan, vegetarian or try meat-free Mondays.
  • When you go out for coffee, take a re-usable cup. Maybe even try a non-diary milk alternative.
  • Save up your money for a bit longer and buy from an ethical retailer, rather than a high street store.
  • Recycle what you can, when you can.
  • Eat your leftovers.
  • Sign petitions for things you really care about.
  • Vote in elections whenever you are able to.

If we all do the small things, it’ll all add up. Spending all your time feeling guilty is exhausting, and I promise you, you are doing enough as long as you are trying.

I hope this made sense! Do you feel the same way? Is there anything small that you do to try and help with a ‘big issue’?

cropped-logo_size_icon.jpg

 

big issue guilt

My Self-Care Wishlist

Self-care should be, and most often is, completely free and accessible to anyone at any time.
There are plenty of activities you can do for free that might help pick up your mood. However, sometimes there are some small (or not so small) things that can help us to calm down, relax or feel better.

Here is my wishlist of items that I would like to help me with my self-care. (Full credit goes to Mommin In The Real World who I originally saw post this style of list.)

  1. A gravity blanket

    This is the big one – I would absolutely love a gravity blanket. I do find that my reactions to my anxiety are quite sensory-based and that I react badly to noise/light/smells when I’m anxious. On top of this, I do find pressure helpful. I think I would be able to relax so much with a weighted blanket but the gravity blanket itself is just so expensive!

     

  2. The Lush ‘Comforter’ Bubble Bar

    web_the_comforter_bubble_bar
    Self-care isn’t always about a bubble bath, and I’m not much of a bath bomb person usually – but I make a huge exception for the Comforter bubble bar! It’s not a glittery bath bomb and it lasts for multiple baths, so it’s just a bit more me (and a bit more budget-friendly). It has a marshmallowey scent that I find so comforting – hint the name, I suppose! I really want to treat myself to another of these soon.

  3. A Good Guided Journal / Gratitude Journal

    Last Summer, I started getting into journalling and I did see the benefits for a little while. However, I found that I just didn’t want to spend lots of time journalling, and didn’t really know where to go with it. I’d love to start it up again, because I know how many people swear by it, but I think I need a good journal to use. I’ve seen a couple of ‘guided’ journals with templates and prompts, which I think I might give a go.

4. Decaf coffee

AdobeStock_116619399.jpeg

Something we’ve recently run out of in the house and I keep forgetting to stock up on – decaf coffee! I love the comfort of a hot drink and I love the taste of coffee. However, it’s not always practical or sensible to be having a big dose of caffeine when I’m feeling anxious. This is why going decaf is such a saviour for me! I like the Douwe Egberts decaf coffee but there are loads of great options out there so you can find one to suit your taste. Of course, hot chocolate is always a good option too!

5. A Foot Spa

 

How decadent would it be to have a proper foot spa at home? At least I feel like it would! I would love to sit with my feet soaking and being massaged while I blog or watch a film… I just feel like that would be the ultimate in indulgent low-energy relaxation!

 

This was a short and very varied list, but I hope you’ve been inspired a little bit to indulge in some self-care and perhaps even treat yourself to one of these items! I am definitely going to keep squirreling away my spare cash to get a gravity blanket.

What would you add to this list?

cropped-logo_size_icon.jpg

 

*Please note that Amazon links within this post are affiliate links, so I may earn a small commission if you purchase an item through that link. It won’t, however, cost you any extra.

30 Free or Low-Cost Activities for an Empty Day

Although I love the idea of an empty schedule at the weekend, the reality is that I usually end up feeling a little lost when I have nothing to do.

This is where I found myself this weekend. Up bright and early, having completed my Saturday morning workout class and met a friend for coffee, I was then left with a long stretch of Saturday ahead of me, with nothing to do. Sometimes, that sounds like bliss. On this day, however, I just felt a bit lost. I didn’t want to sit in the house all day, I didn’t want to waste a whole Saturday, but I didn’t have any plans or ideas. On top of this, we are currently saving money for our honeymoon and also hopefully a house deposit. Therefore a Saturday afternoon window shopping or going to the cinema was out of the question.

book in the girls hands
Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

It occurred to me that I can’t be the only person who, even as an adult, finds themselves crying out ‘I’m bored!’ on those empty days, but curses their lack of funds to go for a fun day out. So, here are 30 ideas for either totally free, or very low-cost, activities for when you’re just, well, a bit bored…

  1. Read a book.
    Of course this was going to top my list! Nothing beats curling up with a good book for an afternoon. In the winter, grab a blanket on your sofa. In summer, grab a blanket and spread it on the grass! Lose yourself for a few hours in a good book. (My most recent recommendation and review is here if you’re looking for something to read.)
  2. Browse your local library.
    Similar of course to number 1, but good for more than just one read. Find a topic to learn about, browse the magazines, or find a new fiction read. Libraries are a great place to lose a couple of hours! They need your support and they’re totally free – bonus!
  3. Watch a TED Talk.
    There are hundreds of great talks on Ted.com that are inspiring and educational. There are also now TED courses where they will suggest a collection of talks, reading, and discussions on a particular topic for you. Well worth an afternoon.
  4. Learn about something new on Wikipedia.
    Similar to number 3, but better for topics like history or geography. Go on a Wikipedia dive, click on anything you find interesting, and see how much you could learn in an afternoon! You could even take notes if you want to preserve what you learn.
  5. De-clutter one room in your house.
  6. Watch educational or interesting videos on Youtube.
  7. Go for a walk.
    An old faithful. No fancy equipment needed and even if you live in the middle of a big town or city, you can enjoy the local views and head out for a walk. Put on your trainers, fill up a water bottle, and just see where you end up.
  8. Play Pokemon Go!
    Need another excuse to get out for a walk? If you’re a 90s child like me and want some retro nerdy fun, download Pokemon Go and take a friend on a Pokemon adventure – one of mine and Mr W’s favourite pastimes!
  9. Grab an adult colouring book and colour away your stress.
    I’m currently loving this Game of Thrones colouring book!*
  10. Use the clothes you already own to style some new outfits.
  11. Deep clean one room in your house – or do a bit of a Spring clean everywhere!
  12. Visit a local museum.
    Loads of museums are free to visit, so see what’s open near you.
  13. Try some creative writing.
    It could be a blog post, a short story, a poem… No one else ever has to read it, but it will stretch your creative muscles and you never know what you might end up with. 🙂
  14. Listen to a podcast.
    I only discovered podcasts properly in the last few months, and I’ve already found loads that I love and that I learn loads from! There are podcasts on any subject you can think of and they’re great to listen to whilst walking or doing other chores. A couple of my favourites are ‘My Favourite Murder’ and ‘No Such Thing As A Fish’, but let me know if you’d like to see a post listing some more of my favourites on different topics.
  15. Drive to a nearby town or village and just explore.
  16. Do some light stretching or foam rolling your muscles.
  17. Follow a yoga video on Youtube.
    Don’t be intimidated by yoga when you see all the amazing yogis on Instagram doing headstands! Try following videos by someone like ‘Yoga with Adriene’ on Youtube for some beginner-friendy light stretching and strengthening.
  18. Call a friend or family member you haven’t spoken to in a while.
  19. Write someone an old-fashioned, hand-written letter.
  20. Have a long hot bubble bath.
  21. Do a proper skincare routine for once!
  22. See what dishes you can cook or bake from ingredients you already have at home.
    I recently tried out a really easy recipe for blueberry and banana muffins, why not see if you have the ingredients already to make those?
  23. Look up some journalling prompts online and give journalling a go.
  24. Go litter-picking.
    If you live near a park or natural area that you know gets cluttered up with rubbish, why not incorporate a bit of litter-picking and recycling into your walk?
  25. Make or buy your favourite comfort food.
  26. Have a proper Netflix binge!
  27. Have a movie marathon.
    You could watch a series, like Harry Potter, or a pick a theme such as horror. Popcorn optional.
  28. Spend some quality time with your pet.
  29. Sort out your budget.
    Spend some time sorting out your finances. Future-You will thank you!
  30. Build a blanket fort.
    Trust me, you’re never too old.

 

Are there any ideas that you would add to this list? What do you on your bored, empty days?

See you again soon!

logo_size_icon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

* (Please note that starred links are affiliate links to the Book Depository. You won’t be charged any extra for any books you buy through those links, but I will earn a small commission.)

The Sunshine Blogger Award

First off, a huge thank you to the very lovely Sarah from Mommin’ in the Real World who nominated me for The Sunshine Blogger Award.

I love the name of this award, because it is so warm and friendly. I am loving connecting with friendly bloggers on Twitter at the moment. If you’re on Twitter, come and say hi! 🙂

IMG_20190415_202308.jpg

RULES FOR THE SUNSHINE BLOGGER AWARD

  1. Thank the person who nominated you and provide a link back to their blogging site.
  2. List the Sunshine Blogger Award rules and display the logo on your site.
  3. Answer the Sunshine Blogger Award questions.
  4. Nominate 11 other bloggers and ask them 11 new questions.
  5. Notify the nominees about their nominations – I will be using Twitter.

Okay, here are Sarah’s questions, let’s get going!

  1. What is your least favorite part of blogging?
    To be honest, I’d just say my own lack of confidence. I’m still new and find writing posts hard, as well as promoting them. Trying to spend enough time on my blog around work is tough.
  2. What has been the best way to promote your blog in social media?
    Definitely Twitter – I love taking part in comment threads, such as #TeaCupClub meetings, and I’ve found some great blogs to follow via Twitter too!
  3. Do your friends and family read your blog?
    No, I haven’t found the confidence to share my blog with people I know yet!
  4. What 3 things would you take with you on a desert island?
    How many books can I count as one thing?……
    I guess I would take a huge encyclopedia so I could try to read a lot and learn a lot too. An iPod full of Neil Diamond music. And a very large notebook… and pen… is that four? Whoops!
  5. Where is 1 place in the world you would like to travel to?
    I would love to visit Italy. I’ve never been, and it looks beautiful. Not to mention how good the food looks!
  6. Are you married and do you have any children?
    I am married – I got married just over a month ago! So it’s still very new! No children just yet though. Unless our very handsome cat counts…
  7. Do you prefer a bath or shower?
    Never thought I’d say this, but I definitely prefer a bath. Particularly if I’ve had a stressful day.
  8. Do you follow current events in your country/around the world?
    I try to, but if I’m struggling with my anxiety then I tend to avoid most news. It’s usually a real trigger for me, and very rarely is it positive news!
  9. Do you vote? If not, why not?
    Always. I think it’s so important to use your vote.
  10. What was your favorite subject to study in school?
    Drama – I studied both Drama and Music for my undergraduate degree, but Drama was always my favourite. I loved to act, direct and study plays.
  11. What are 5 words that describe you?
    Ooh, that’s tough! I would say…
    Stubborn. Funny. Anxious. Cluttered. Creative.

 

My Sunshine Blogger Nominees are:

Jenny in Neverland
Amie (The Curvaceous Vegan)
Milenka (Blushing Lately)
Ell (Boss Girl Bloggers)
Wellbean Blog
Jade Marie
Ruth In Revolt
Jo (Online Blanket Fort)
Emily Aagaard
Hello Bexa
Steph (Nourish Me)
Questions for my Nominees

  1. How long have you been blogging?
  2. What is a Youtube channel you would recommend?
  3. What is a podcast or audio book you would recommend?
  4. Do you prefer physical books, ebooks, or audio books?
  5. What is your favourite genre of books?
  6. What is the one activity that always de-stresses you or makes you feel better?
  7. What was the last film you watched?
  8. Do you watch Game of Thrones? If so, who is your favourite character?
  9. What would be your last meal?
  10. Do you have any pets?
  11. What is one of your goals for the next month?

 

I hope you enjoyed reading my answers. I would highly recommend heading over to all my nominees’ blogs – they are an absolute joy to read and some of my favourite corners of the internet!

Have a lovely weekend 🙂

 

logo_size_icon