How To Be A Better Writer: Edition One

Nobody’s perfect; I’m sure even the Dalai Lama himself has a few character flaws left to work on before 2k18 rolls around. Improvement is always possible, no matter how skilled you are in a particular field. If you feel your way with words needs a tweak or two, here are some morsels of wisdom I’ve picked up as the years have ticked by and my pen has evolved into a QWERTY keyboard.

Let it flow. Like a menstrual cycle or a riverbank, your words should ooze out as organically as possible. Have you ever noticed how easy it is to pen something for somebody else? Naturally this is because you’re not invested in the results. Even if you care second-hand, if the words aren’t a reflection of you than the pressure is no way near your shoulders. Relax into your writing. Remove your judgement. Ignore the outcome. I guess I’m advocating ‘mindfulness’ here, which is just a buzzword way of saying ‘be in the moment’. A lifelong battle for all adults but one that pays off, particularly in the realm of wordplay.

Kill your darlings. Egocentricity is a habit of humanity. It seems ludicrous to the self-proclaimed writer that any element of their literary alchemy should be omitted from a paragraph because it might be a mis-match in tone, intent (etc.) but sometimes this is the case. Accepting that is the first step on the road to getting over yourself and producing more coherent texts. You can always save a killer line if it’s truly too poetic to dispose of entirely. That’s the beauty of CTRL+C.

Do it. You can’t be good at it if you never do it. So do it, a lot.

Narcotic abuse ‘Worked for Bukowksi. While I think it’s crass to present an image of yourself as a drinker who writes, rather than a writer that drinks, I will acknowledge the inspiration that uninhibited thinking and serotonin-depleted pondering brings. I’ve had inebriated states that enable me to stop procrastinating and continue wording, along with morning-afters that turn me into Socrates for a few hours on account of my philosophical word-vomit. Choose your poison wisely and don’t over-indulge. I’m not going to let my flippancy take the burden of your poor willpower, reader.

 

 

 

Last Minute Halloween Costume Ideas

Halloween is here! Time to get spooky. img_5786

This year I wanted to make an effort to be a pop culture party warrior after dark and dress up as something from a film or TV show. After lurking on eBay for aGes, I narrowed my choices down to: Princess Jasmine, Lara Croft (one day) and Catwoman. My indecision gave way when I realised it was a week until the big Monday so I purchased a PVC catsuit in ‘small’ along with a cute face mask.

The outfit arrived on Friday – just in time! But my 5 ft “1 (and a half) frame couldn’t fill out the leather costume properly… I was back to square 1.

img_5778So I reverted back to my previous choice; a broken doll! Easy make-up, a simple dress and cost-effective too.

In the end, it looked pretty neat

<—– Dress, £15, tights £5

I wore striped tights to match my dolly dress – but even an everyday-wear dress would work, tied my hair in bunches, painted some China ‘cracks’ onto my face using snazaroo face-paints (although eyeliner would work too!) and once my shoes were on I’d snagged myself a last minute outfit that looked thoroughly prepared.

OTHER IDEAS INCLUDE:

A geek/nerd. If you wear glasses this is an ideal last-minute outfit (and still manageable if not). Complete the classic white shirt & black skirt schoolgirl look by: wearing sensible long socks, doing your top button up, painting the three-dot freckles on your face, having messy hair and carrying a folder around with you for added ‘swot’. Voila.

ERROR 404: Costume Not Found. Grab a white t-shirt. Then grab a black pen. You know what do to next.

A cowboy or girl. Wear a cowboy hat, a checked shirt and jeans if you want to be a real life Woody/Jessie.

Sandy from Grease. Team a black top with black leggings & a leather jacket, curl your hair and ensure you’re wearing red high heels. If you’re blonde I’d recommend this look.

Go generic and be a ‘sexy’ cat or bunny. Most shops will sell bunny/mouse/cat ears for cheap and I’m sure you know how to do cat eyes/a bunny nose/whiskers. Wear with a classic LBD and you have a low key Halloween outfit where you look like you’ve kind of made an effort but won’t be the center of attention.

Even more generic would be the witch or devil costumes – again all you need are props to look all hallow’s eve ready. Even Tesco will provide you with these! Ace.

If you have fake blood you can dress for an ordinary night out that turns extraordinary when you paint some red splodges on your face to radiate the spookiness.

H A P P Y   H A L L O W E E N!

 

 

Handy Hangover Guide

“I feel great! I never get hangovers” your friend says, disgustingly.

“I’m never drinking again, lol” you reply, a pokey tongue emoji disguising your contempt

As you reach for another piece of day-old pizza, your arms become limp and you slump back into the fetal position, dropping the stale bread back onto the dominoes box it barely left. Instead of getting up, you just give up, much like your body seems to be doing on this day…

But there is another way! If you take precautions you can avoid this fate altogether, no matter how immune to suffering you believe your body to be.

Sometimes we know what’s best for us but let it slide to the subconscious mind where it stays dormant. If you’re not used to drinking the bar dry, haven’t had many hangovers before or can’t afford to write off the day after then brush up on your survival skills.

The best piece of advice I can give you to avoid hangovers is to drink singles all night. In our youth we learn to go hard and double up; we want to get wasted ASAP and proceed to lose our ability to function; we wake up with holes in our memory of the night and alcohol still swimming around our system. BUT THEN, a magical moment comes when we decide to take it easy and sip on single measures. Now the transition ambles along from merry to drunken without the pain of confusion or dulled senses. As long as you drink a glass of water before bed you will not suffer on a sofa all day.

Other morsels of wisdom include the idea of drinking water between drinks – it’s the 21st century so you shouldn’t feel your ego takes a bruise from self-care, – it’s actually the in thing now, which is pretty handy for your all-important liver. Win!

Walk it off. Nothing makes us happier or healthier than leaving the house and inhaling fresh air. Even forcing yourself to visit the shops for something inane like milk will put your hangover into perspective and help your head. Sure, you know this already, but you’re sat at a laptop right now aren’t you? There’s a difference between knowing and doing; now is the time to do the doing.

Treat yourself to a large meal to soak up leftover poison and imbibe fluids to ward off the dehydration lying at the root of your problems.

Mind over matter applies here too. Run on rest, water and adrenaline until the early night you deserve rolls around again. Since you’re reminding yourself of how to do some damage control on your vitality, you’ll feel less pain next time because your brain is powerful beyond all measure(s).

 

 

 

 

5 Steps To Selfie – How to Pose for a Photo

Some people love to point their phone’s camera right at their face for some radical selfie loving while others dread the lens in self-conscious trepidation. No matter which side of the spectrum you fall upon, the impromptu photo is an unavoidable way of life and it pays to be prepared!

Love or loathe to pose, you have the chance to turn a chore into an art form – measure your selfie know-how against this short checklist so you can put your best face forward at any given moment.

  1. Face down, eyes up; instantly more flattering than a straight-on shot.

  2. Smile with your eyes; Tyra made ‘smize’ happen for a reason. 

  3. Decide what you’re doing with your mouth; pout, pursed smile or toothy smile.

  4. Tilt your head from left to right to see if you have a ‘side’; Most people have a preference.

  5. Three popular go-to poses; peace sign, hand on hips, tongue out.

Memorise a particularly hard-hitting one of these vanity morsels so you’re armed with ammo the next time someone slings a camera in your face without much warning, or for when you find yourself in the midst of a self-portraiture crisis but still want to look bangin’.

Selfie ready? You woke up like this (*WINK*)

12 simple cures for temporary sadness

1.Cook yourself a huge portion of your favourite meal so you feel full of love (and more importantly, food).

2.Watch some comedy! Viral videos, comedy shows, pranks, sketches etc. Go back to old favourites if you know they’re guaranteed to make you laugh.

3. Open up Messenger and click the name of a friend you love to talk to. Don’t be afraid of rejection – they want to hear from you! 

4.Look at inspirational quotes on Pinterest, Twitter, Google Images… let the words do the positive thinking for you.

5.Pick an item from your To-Do list and make it a Done list.

6.Help anybody that needs it, from your best friend to a homeless person. Focus on giving out hope and you’ll receive it back.

7.Seek comfort! Go to sleep : wake up happier. Win.

8.Acknowledge how you feel, accept it, then let it go.

9.Listen to upbeat songs to curb any dwelling on feelings early (it doesn’t matter if the music is classified as cheesy). Bonus points for dancing around uninhibitedly.

10.Think of the last 3 compliments you received and let yourself believe them.

11.Dig for gratitude – this includes any good experiences occurring in recent times to you or anyone else, whether big or small. 

12.Do an everyday activity that feels suspiciously adult as a victorious distraction.

 

 

How to live a healthier life, Part 1: Your Mind.

 

Disclaimer: everything is subjective, thus I can’t be held accountable to my hypocrisy. Now that’s been established, let me preach to you recycled knowledge of how to live more healthily, but in a cute way. I hope I never write an article named ‘how to lose weight’, because 1) the answer is always going to be ‘eat smaller portions & do more exercise‘, and 2) to quote the Baz Lurhman ‘Sunscreen classic, ‘you are not as fat as you imagine’. Moreover, you’re worth more than your appearance. You may want to learn small ways in which you can enact a life that benefits you, however, and that’s where I ride in on my hypocrisy horse from the stable of earnest sincerity. Henceforth:

Drink lots of water. I wanted to start with a tip no-one had thought of before, so ‘drink lots of water, maybe even 8 glasses a day’ it is. I’m reminded of an interview I read with a dietitian in one of those weight loss magazines sold to inspire internalised misogyny and self-loathing (ah, adolesence!) where feeling full was discussed. Lo, she delivered wise counsel: often times we snack unnecessarily, so when we think we’re having food cravings, consuming water would satisfy us more. Water boosts everything about you: clearer skin, quicker metabolism, the digestive process, shinier hair, lubricated throat and a sharp mind.

Somewhere in the popculturepartywarrior archives, in an article about sleep, I uncovered the magic of the 10-20 minute power nap. Despite what the majority of us think, a 30+ minute rest is actually just sleeping, so if you need to nap make it infrequent & make sure it’s snappy – a snappy nap.

Quite your bitchin’ and look on the bright side of life. Yes life’s a laugh and death’s a joke it’s true (Monty Python quote to keep my references 21st century), and the beauty of impermanence lies in confirming the futility of worry. Everything is going to change sooner or later, so if you remain optimistic you’ll create a worthy future for yourself, as you’re more motivated to create your ideal situation and adapt to changes. Visualise what you want and you’re more likely to live the reality. Alternatively, if you focus on the ‘lack’ in your world, you’ll unconsciously prove how omened you are by getting the inevitable results pessimism brings: nothing. Think positive thoughts more often for a healthier & happier mind; it’s difficult, not impossible.

Smart guy, Einstein.

Be grateful. When we’re young, the phrase ‘count your blessings’ is cemented in our heads from somewhere, probably from grandparents, or the tube. Short and non-committal where explanation is concerned, the idiom appears to us as insignificant wisdom from a jealous source. In actuality, expressing gratitude is incredibly powerful in achieving contentment and allowing yourself to appreciate the contents of your life. You can only be happy by experiencing the present moment authentically, without being trapped in anticipatory nostalgia – as can be the case with over-thinkers. Learning to accept yourself & your life – to recognise you’re doing the best with what you have, where you are, is how you achieve balance. Actively list, mentally or physically, the things you’re grateful for: big or small, individual or global scale; tally them up without judgement. Sometimes you just need to remind yourself of why you are awesome & deserve good things! Believe it, then see it.  

 

 

How To Snap Out Of A Bad Mood

I’m an emotional person and I assume, like all human beings, you are too. It isn’t something people control: feelings manifest by themselves and then our noggin processes them with its thinkin’. Most of us aim to eliminate the negatives/ accentuate the positives  but like everything else this requires hard work and practice. Sometimes we feel unsure about how to acknowledge or dismiss the unwanted thoughts that accompany our moods when we’re not feeling 100, or even 50%. Just know it is possible to get out of your funk.

 

Here are some light bulb moments for when your mood is low:

Keep busy – being active engages our brains in activities other than overthinking, the leading cause of misery. We base our self-worth on what we do rather than who we are overall thus productivity helps to stabilise your mood.

Talk to a friend ASAP – an acquaintance won’t do as you can’t guarantee their personality will chime with your grumpy self and you’ll want to avoid letting self-hate populate your brain landscape. Communicate with a friend so their response can provide comfort and distraction.

Do something that isn’t just on the laptop – you’re scowling because your mind refuses to be stimulated by a stagnant newsfeed and you need fresh air, not social anxiety-inducing media.

Give somebody else a compliment – you’ll admire yourself for validating another person while they get a self-esteem boost, everybody wins!

Remind yourself of at least 3 reasons you have to feel more optimistic – concentrate your thoughts on what you have as opposed to what you lack as our minds are powerfully attuned to attract more of the energy we put out there. Smile & get a smile back, etc.

Deliberately put on the cheeriest song you know – bonus points if it happens to have a fun video with it. Music is a mood-booster of epic proportions.

Spend time with a habitually happy person – some people smile all the time and exude contentment in conversation – hanging out with these folks will encourage you to adopt a similarly cheery disposition. 

Feelings are tricky yet manageable, even if you don’t follow the handy help-outs in this post. Moods are ever-changing so choose optimism as your default. Why? Because you can.