Chat With a Grammar Nazi Serial Killer by Ryan Suvaal Review

I received this copy for review however, all my opinions are honest.

Given that it’s such a short story I can’t really review it the way I reviewed other books on this blog and therefore I will keep my thoughts concise and straight to the point. This is a no-spoiler review!

I couldn’t help but enjoy this story for what it is: a funny, interesting dissection of the human brain and how we operate when we’ve been wronged. Throughout the story the serial killer is blunt and straight-to-the-point, she doesn’t seem remorseful at all except for the little clues of her humanity which he sprinkles during her conversation with Corrigan.

I quite enjoyed the dialogue because how straightforward it was, probably due to the interview style. I also enjoyed the prospect of the story – the dark web interview was interesting and the main character is funny and unashamed which makes for a fun to read protagonist.

Although I do find it ironic that there are quite a few spelling and grammar mistakes throughout this short story given the prospect of the plot.

Overall, I definitely recommend giving it a read!

With love,

Sonny xx

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Chrome Extensions I Find Useful

Inspired by Rowena Tsai’s video (I’ll link her video at the end of this post) on the Chrome extensions she finds useful, I decided to take a look at my own extensions and how I use them to boost my productivity. Now, I realize that this blog post might be a bit niche but as someone who is constantly using her laptop for all kinds of things; university, this blog, writing and reading, I like geeking out about things that make my laptop work better. So while I learnt about a couple of extensions from Rowena which I began enjoying as of late, I am not going to talk about those because I don’t have a well-developed impression of them.

The first extension I find useful is Grammarly. I have been using this extension for a while now since college actually. I have always been proud of my spelling and grammar, especially because English is not my first language, however, we all make mistakes and as someone who studies literature and whose passion is writing stories, Grammarly is so helpful. Grammarly is an extension which corrects your spelling and grammar mistakes and tells you why your original text is wrong.

The second extension I find useful is Forest. Forest is an extension that blocks sites you don’t want to utilise (such as YouTube, Netflix, Twitch, etc.) for a specified amount of time. When the timer goes off you have a pretty tree in your little garden and coins which you can spend on more pretty trees. If you decide to use the sites that cause you to get distracted anyway, you tree dies and leaves an ugly dead tree in your little garden. This is especially useful for me when I’m reading for my classes, writing assignments and writing for my stories. Whenever I run out of ideas for my stories or the reading material is giving me a headache, I immediately run to YouTube so this extension is super useful to keep me focused and on track.

The third extension I find useful is AdBlock which is pretty self-explanatory. I personally find it hard focusing on articles I’m reading and even when I watch videos because ads are constantly blinking in my face. Not to mention all the ‘indecent’ ads that pop out of nowhere.

Lastly, the extension I’ve had for the longest time is Momentum. I don’t really use this one is for productivity reason but rather because it looks nicer than the usual Google search bar and all the bookmarks under it. It also has a to-do list and really beautiful pictures so that’s a bonus!

So here it is, my favourite Chrome extensions! I hope you found these useful or even just a little interesting. Thanks a lot for reading and make sure to check out my last blog post!

What are your favourite Chrome extensions, do you even use extensions?

With love,

Sonny xx

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Hogwarts Houses Study Tips: Slytherin

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Hi and welcome to the last instalment of my Hogwarts Houses Study Tips series. This time around I’m going to talk about my own house (once again sounding way too geeky) which is the house of Draco Malfoy and Merlin himself. Slytherins are known to be resourceful, fraternal and careful. We’re brave but smart at the same time so we’re good at discerning when it’s worth being brave and when it’s not. I genuinely do think that Slytherins are a mixture of all the other houses.

In this post, I am going to talk about ways in which a Slytherin (and anyone else, really) can use any means to achieve their ends.

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Resourceful

Fraternity

Preservation

Use any means

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My first tip is to use any method that is useful to you. Everybody learns things differently and so making use of different resources will not only allow you to discern which study method works best for you but it will also allow you to gather more information and get a deeper understanding of the subject you’re learning. You can do this by trying out different learning styles such as mind-maps, reading out loud or teaching the material to other people or simply by using your school’s library. I personally like to use websites like JSTOR which is a digital library created in 1995 which I can access through my school’s website. I also use ebooks and articles I find in my school’s library and by using all these sources I can make sure my notes are extensive and detailed.

Work with others

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This is where the idea of fraternity comes into play. Slytherins are mostly seen as selfish and mean but I genuinely think that’s because nobody really likes Slytherin. It’s a mode of self-preservation, I presume. However, I think that the fraternity within the Slytherin house is a very strong one and so I imagine in the Harry Potter books groups of Slytherins studying together in the common room until the early hours of the morning. I think that working with others is useful because it allows people to share information and further solidify their learning by teaching the material to others.

Take care of yourself

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Self-care is such an important thing and a lot of people either forget about it or don’t do it properly. Self-care won’t work if you’re not in the right headspace for it – you can put on a face mask and soak in a bubble bath but if your head is swarming with anxieties and worries, well, you’re not getting the best out of your self-care routine. To me, self-care means ridding myself of all worries and just caring for my physical and mental health. I have an entire list of self-care activities which you can check out *here*. Some of the ways I practice self-care are things such as meditating, walking outside without listening to music (I always have my earphones in my ears so this is a big improvement for me), tarot reading and working on my bullet journal/kpop journal. These activities are awesome because they allow me to rid myself of everyday stressors and just live in the moment, something I struggle with.

So here it is! The last part of my back to school study tips. I had so much fun writing this mini-series so thank you for reading and I really hope the tips are useful! Feel free to let me know how you study and what works for you. Also, make sure to check out my last blog post which is a list of all the TV/literature tropes I hate.

With love,

Sonny xx

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To Do – Year 2 of University

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As the start of the second year of university is approaching, I’m realizing that even with my 5 months of holiday I didn’t prepare enough. This happens to me all the time, I am, after all, a master procrastinator. I spent the first month recuperating from the first year of university, the second and third applying for jobs and the fourth hanging out with friends. As my summer holiday is coming to an end, so is my sense of peace, calm and my composure.

I am freaking the f**k out, internally.

So what do I do when I’m freaking the f**k out internally? I make very detailed plans on how to get my s**t together. Yep, that’s right, I make plans. I write to-do lists and wish lists and I write paragraphs all about the things I want to achieve and by doing these things I manage to collect my thoughts and put myself together again. I started doing this a couple of days ago and now that I am done, I think I finally have a sound plan of what I should do to be completely prepared for my second year of university. (I’m making myself sound like a real f**k up, aren’t I?)

So here it is, my to-do list. Feel free to use this for yourself and improve on it!

What went well and how can I improve?

The first thing I plan to do is figure out what went well in the first year of university and how I can improve in the second year. I write it all down and talk about how specific things affected my physical and mental health as well as the grades I got at the end of the year. This allows me to really think about the things I need to change and in the end, the changes I will make will be beneficial in the long run.

Finish all my reading, complete with notes

This one is a bit of an obvious one. I want to finish all my reading, or at least as much of it as I can before the year starts so that I don’t have to struggle during the semester. Instead, I can focus on re-reading the material and getting a deeper understanding of the subject and the analysis.

Refine note-taking methods

I don’t know if I’m alone in this, but the way I make my notes affects the outcome of my studies a lot. My note taking style changed a lot from secondary school when I had 9 different subjects (the way I took notes for maths was different from how I took notes for English) to college when I did 3 subjects to university where I only do 1. In the first year of uni, I struggled to find a note-taking system that worked for me and I only found something that worked decently by the end of the year and so I want to perfect my note-taking style by the time I go back to uni.

Refine assignment steps

I’ll explain. Whenever I have an assignment due, I take specific steps to complete that assignment. I write it down in my calendar with an earlier due date than what’s actually assigned, I write down everything I need to do to complete this assignment and then I break everything down into a very detailed plan. Or at least I try. This method is so long and tiring that I almost never did it. Instead, I procrastinated a lot and ended up rushing some of my assignments because of it. I suggest looking up some blog posts about it (I’ll upload mine very soon so stay tuned for that.)

Lunch ideas + budget

I go to university in a very expensive area which means that buying lunch every day would break the bank *very* fast. I only go to uni three to four days a week and some of those days are very short so I don’t bring food to school, but when I do, I want to bring something from home. This didn’t work out well in the first year because I made all these plans and came up with super fancy recipes that never worked out. I didn’t bother preparing my lunch the night before because it was too time-consuming and so this time around, I want to figure out a meal plan that’s affordable, simple and nutritious. I might even make a post about that! Similarly, making a budget is very important because let’s be honest here, we’re students and we’re not made of money. By making and sticking to a budget, I can afford everything I need and even things I want.

Stationery!

I personally don’t have to buy any new stationery since I make digital notes and I have enough stationery to last me a couple of years but going stationery shopping is not only fun and exciting because it’s a great way to start the new semester, but it’s also a great way to infuse some fun into this long-a*s to-do list.

Plan out outfits

If you’re anything like me, you’re too lazy and disinterested in fashion to care how you look in a 10AM lecture. Make-up be damned, right? Well, that was my attitude for the entirety of the first year and I have to say that half the time I felt like crap because of it. It’s not like I showed up to class in my pyjamas or anything, it’s just that after a night of studying and surviving the rush hour, I just couldn’t be asked to cake my face with makeup – it was tiring. You know how we all feel pretty when we put effort into how we present ourselves? Not for others, of course, but when we dress up for ourselves! I want to invest more time into feeling comfortable going to class but putting effort into my appearance at the same time. Now don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with a hoodie and jeans (which is probably how I’ll dress after the first two weeks) and I’m not going out to buy a whole new wardrobe. Instead, I’ll look through my closet and come up with 7 interchangeable outfits that I can put together real fast the night before. That way I get to be lazy and cute at the same time!

Make a playlist!

This one is a bit silly but hear me out. To me, music is a thing that makes me so happy, it calms me down and it puts me in the right mood for anything. I am that person that makes a playlist for anything. I have a playlist that I play during autumn, one that I play when I walk the dog, one that I play when I’m taking a bubble bath, etc. Going back to school, be it secondary, college or university or hell, even going back to work after a nice, relaxing holiday can be difficult and draining. Doing little things to perk ourselves up like a celebratory cupcake, a new playlist or reading a cheesy novel might sound silly, but they’re not. Anything to get us through the day, right?

So here it is, my to-do list for my second year of university. This post turned out to be so long but I think it’s important to put it out there, maybe as a form of inspiration, maybe for you guys to marvel at how much of a mess my life is. Either way, thanks a lot for reading and feel free to tell me how you prepare for a new beginning! Make sure to check out my last blog post which is my August playlist.

With love,

Sonny xx

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Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater – Book Review

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          Given that I have finally started my own bookstagram (Instagram for books), I decided it would be awesome to keep some sort of a diary with all my bookish thoughts. Goodreads could suffice, of course, but I’m not really fond of leaving reviews on Goodreads so here I am, with the first of the many book reviews to come. I will try my best to post a review for every book I read, but I am sure that more often than not life will get in the way so I’m not making promises that I cannot keep (much like my monthly TBRs).

          The first book I am going to discuss is the first book in the Raven Cycle series; Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. I have tried reading Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater before and it just didn’t work out for me so I was a little apprehensive when all the big booktubers (youtube for books) started raving about this series. After a while, I bought the book and after even more time I decided to read it. (One of the) best decision of my life! This book was not necessarily a roller coaster nor did it make me fall in love with our leading lady but here is why I enjoyed it so much:

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          “There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

          It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

          Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

          His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

          But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

          For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.” (Goodreads)

 

Themes

          I really enjoyed all the themes portrayed in this first book and I think they were done really well but I will only focus on my favourite three. The first one is the supernatural/witch elements of this novel. I am all about magic, crystals, tarot reading and psychics myself which in turn made me love this aspect of the book. I thought it was done beautifully – the psychics in this book didn’t have all the answers all the time and they weren’t all-powerful witches that had no flaws. I also like the fact that our main character is not as gifted as the rest of her family – it’s a step forward from the perfect protagonist we see in a lot of literature.

          I also like the way domestic/child abuse was represented in this novel in a respectful and realistic way. Maggie Stiefvater didn’t make Adam the hero that saved himself and his family nor did she make him come across as a character that can’t move forward – instead, she wrote him somewhere in the middle which I think is very realistic. I like the fact that he’s flawed too and the way he handles the abuse is not conventional or how people expect abuse victims to handle their traumas.

          The last theme I enjoyed was the portrayal of wealth or lack of it, to be exact. I love that none of the characters are stuck in their own little bubble. Instead we have characters like Adam who is insecure about his lack of wealth to the point where it affects his thinking and behaviour, we have Blue who is slightly bitter about her financial upbringing but is proud of herself nonetheless, Gansey who doesn’t want to be like his father but ultimately is, Ronan who really doesn’t care much and Mr Whelk who is obsessed with wealth. I think the variety of opinions on wealth and the way each character handles this subject really made this book a good read for me.

Reception

          I mentioned reception a bit earlier in the post but I will expand more on it here. I am the kind of person who doesn’t like hype – books/tv shows/bands that are too hyped put me off. I’m not entirely sure why maybe because I don’t want to be disappointed but that’s just how I am. I am, however, trying to change that. I tried reading Fifty Shades of Grey after being put off by the hype and I still hated it, but hey, I’m trying. With Raven Boys, everyone and their mother was hyping this book up and I just lost interest in trying it out. After a while, I was walking through Foyles, saw this book and picked it up. It then took me another year or so to actually read it. Moral of the story? Don’t let yourself miss out on things because they are too hyped! Make your own opinion!

Point of View

          This is something that put me off the book at first. Personally, I enjoy writing in third person omniscient while mostly focusing on one character. This book does a similar thing but instead of sticking to the same point of view throughout, it switches POV every chapter. This would normally be fine, only the names (Gansey, for example) confused me so much at the beginning that I had a hard time reading it. After learning the characters and their weird names and the action started picking up the pace it became easier to enjoy this point of view.

Imagery

          This is a very important aspect of reading for me. One of the reasons why I absolutely adore reading and even chose to study literature at university is because I like the imagery behind the words. Raven Boys really didn’t disappoint when it came to imagery! The descriptions weren’t overwhelming but were still very expressive and easy to visualise. This, in turn, made the action scenes truly breathtaking and deliciously overwhelming.

Star Rating out of 5: ★★★★☆

 

          So here it is, my first book review on this blog – how exciting! I just want to put this out there that these are purely my opinions and everyone is entitled to their own opinion! Thanks a lot for reading and make sure to check out my new bookstagram (@marbled_reads on IG) as well as my last blog post which is all about Hufflepuff study tips!

With love,

Sonny xx

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Hogwarts Houses Study Tips: Hufflepuff

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The third part of my Hogwarts Houses Study Tips is all about helping hufflepuffs finding different and maybe even better ways of studying. This week I will be focusing less on study strategies such as ‘teach it to others’ and ‘ask for help’ and more on the reasons why some of us have a hard time concentrating on our studies. I think we can all agree that as students in this modern age, our attention span gets shorter and shorter as technology and social media gets better and better. I personally have days in which I sit down at my desk, ready to read a text from the 18th century and I just can’t seem to focus – or I focus for the first five minutes and then I suddenly catch myself staring at the wall and daydreaming about Sandra Oh. It’s not like I am underprepared, I have all my essentials right next to me – a notebook to jot down notes, coffee/water, snacks and my phone is far away on my bed. Still, I can’t concentrate.

I think people deal differently with this situation. Some of us get annoyed and take a nap, others persevere, maybe they even find ways to make the content fun and interesting. But I genuinely think that before we do any of that, we should come to terms with the reasons why we’re having such a hard time studying. Here are a couple of tips that might help with that.

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Patience

Loyalty

Dedication

Kindness

Unafraid

Be patient and kind with yourself

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You know how some older people tell us that our generation is lacking independence and focus? Well, don’t listen to them. Times are changing, society is evolving and technology has a very big impact on our day to day lives, even though we might not realize it at the moment. Back in the day, people had to buy newspapers to get their news, now it’s all at our fingertips. Back in the day research was done in libraries by reading tons of books, now it’s at the push of a button. Of course, we would find it harder to focus, we don’t have to sit down for hours just to accomplish one task. So be kind and patient with yourself, don’t stress too much and you will succeed.

Spend some time understanding why you’re having trouble

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Instead of just diving into whatever you have to do or study, take some time to analyse the situation. Why do you lose focus so easily? What’s distracting you and how can you make sure you keep focused for as long as you need to. Naturally, our minds can only focus for twenty minutes before our minds start to wander. I personally found out that because of my very active imagination, I tend to slip into this land of daydreams whenever I lose focus. So instead of sitting down for hours, trying to concentrate on a subject that I might not even like, I study in bursts of 20 minutes and take 5-minute breaks in between. This way I can give into my wandering mind and keep focused for those 20 minutes.

Don’t be afraid of change

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I wrote a blog post about how I stopped fearing change which you can read *here*. Change is such a natural phenomenon and it’s normal to be afraid of change because it means stepping out of our comfort zone. But change is essential to living a productive and active lifestyle – a life worth being proud of. If you really, really want to get that degree or become a doctor/lawyer/photographer/etc. then being a proactive learner is worth changing your habits for. Instead of resigning yourself to bad study sessions and going to class confused, take this opportunity to change the way you study and focus in order to achieve your dreams and your goals!

So here it is, the third part of my Hogwarts Houses Study Tips series. I hope these tips helped you understand and work through the frustrations of not being able to hunker down and learn. Thanks a lot for reading and make sure to check out my last blog post which is a list of my favourite kpop groups as well as the other parts in this series: Gryffindor and Ravenclaw!

With love,

Sonny xx

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Writing Blocks and How to Get Over Them

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I think a lot of people have this misconception about when it’s normal to find one’s passion. People ask children what they want to be when they grow up and they put their kids in a thousand (exaggeration) different activities hoping that they would find their niche – something that feels natural and exciting. Looking back, I think I always knew what my passion was – the type of person that I am has facilitated this passion of mine.

I am a creative person, I have always been a creative person ever since I was a kid. I used to paint with watercolours at four years old (that’s how I learnt to spell my name) and I was constantly in my own head, dreaming up an endless list of scenarios from being a princess in space to being a bratty yet trendy teenager like Sharon from Braceface. The universe has always been endless for me. I especially loved the creative writing aspect of my lessons in school – I took great pride in my stories and wanted everyone to read them. That hasn’t changed much.

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Then I became a pre-teen and I moved to the UK and my imagination kept flourishing. It has helped me through tough times, laying in bed with my eyes closed, just living my best life away from my real life. Then I got into anime and music, I started writing stories about the things that I liked such as Naruto and Tokio Hotel and as I grew up my writing improved and so did my love for this creative outlet. It wasn’t just a hobby or a passion anymore, it was my safe place. It allowed me to bend rules to a breaking point, to experiment and grow up with my characters. I then took two years of creative writing in college and to this day I believe that those lessons were the best lessons I’ve ever had.

My creative writing class was a second home to me, even though I was there only twice a week. It symbolised the way my creativity rolled in waves of pure excitement. I started writing poetry and plays and I came up with so many great ideas that I don’t think I’d be able to write them all in this lifetime. In fact, my creative writing teacher at the time encouraged me to start my own blog so thanks to him I am here, doing something I love.

I always knew writing was my passion but as I grew up I became addicted to it, I began seeing it as a source of comfort in hard times and good times and all the time, to be honest. I spend my days and nights jotting down ideas and writing poetry and while that might sound boring or redundant to some, it’s usually the highlight of my day.

I think it was necessary to preface this post with this very (very) long story about how I grew to love creative writing because it explains why I have such great trouble with writing blocks. I think because I put so much effort and love into my stories and poems and plays, I tend to burn out pretty quickly. I can write five chapters for one of my stories and come up with ten different poems in between seminars but by the end of the day I would feel so tired and burned out that the mere idea of being creative annoys me. This would go on for a couple of days, maybe a few weeks even but after a while, that dependence kicks in and I find it hard to get back into writing right away.

I realize that I am not alone in this – many great writers, if not all of them, dealt and still deal with writer’s block but this is my way of pulling myself out of a writing funk. Here are a few of my tips:

Get inspired

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I guess it’s easier said than done, right? Personally, I get inspired by everything, especially music. I can listen to Cherry Pie by Warrant or Barbie Girl by Aqua and somehow I’ll make a drabble out of it. People watching is also great, although I advise being casual about it, not creepy. Just sitting in a coffee shop with a notepad or whatever device you write on will be enough to spark some sort of interest and creativity in that beautiful brain of yours.

Carry a notebook everywhere

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This works with mobile phones or laptops as well, of course. One thing that we were told over and over again in my creative writing module at university (yup, I did creative writing at university as well as college) was to always carry something where you can jot down ideas – even words that elicit some sort of creativity. I usually use my phone’s memo app for this since I already carry half of my belongings around with me but to each their own.

Write daily

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Yeah, yeah, I know that everyone and their mother will tell you to do this but it is true. No matter how crappy your writing is that day, you should write something. Be it a poem or a song or even a short story. This will allow you to get into the mindset and focus on writing. Let yourself be creative! In fact, one of my favourite things to do back in the day was to sit down at my desk, take a random word/phrase/song and just write a page of A5 about it. It could be any form or theme but it gave me such great joy.

Write drabbles / 7 Minute Writing

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(FYI – it’s almost impossible to find a GIF of Deb without her swearing xD)

Something I learned in college was to just let go. We were told to take out a pen and a paper, we were given a prompt such as ‘The last thing I told my best friend…’ and we were given seven minutes to just write. The idea was to write whatever came to mind, even if it was the word ‘boring’ repeated over and over. I think that allowing your hand to write down your stream of consciousness you allow yourself to be free of expectations of what you writing should be like. I mean, let’s be honest here for a moment, we all have expectations. I’ve been writing since I was ten years old, for nearly a decade, and I still read the works of some of our greatest authors and I compare myself to them because that’s just human nature but by knowing you’re allowed to just word-vomit onto a page you are putting away your expectations and focusing solely on getting your point across. This works amazingly well if you do it every day!

Just do it

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I think that with a lot of things in life we always look for some sort of sign or we think we need to plan things before we do them. The same applies to writing or any other form of a creative outlet. Whenever I’m in a writing funk I have to remind myself that sometimes motivation can be a method of procrastination because it keeps me in that safe space of knowing I’m doing something towards my goal but in reality, I’m not actually achieving anything. Instead, I just focus on being determined and disciplined because if I’m determined enough to tell a story then I’m going to be disciplined enough to pull through.

So here are a couple of my tips on how to get over a writing block. I really love writing for this blog, it’s almost as therapeutic as looking for GIFs to fit my posts! Let me know what you think about the GIFs and whether they should stay or go? Also, disclaimer, all of the GIFs used in this post are NOT mine – credit goes to whoever created them. Thanks a lot for reading and make sure to check out my last blog post which is about how I stopped fearing change.

With love,

Sonny xx

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