Blog posts with the tag: "language"

Wonder Woman

 

At this time of year, we often focus on the ways we can improve ourselves and the goals we wish to achieve for the following twelve months. We go on diets, join gyms and buy language courses, and a lot of us probably write down the same resolutions we have written for last year, and even for the year before that. We tell ourselves that this time it’ll be different and that we’ll somehow make more effort to change and to achieve the goals which we lust after. I’m totally guilty of this myself. So how can we avoid falling into the same old trap?

 

This new year was the first time I thought about doing a year’s review. I listed all the great things I’d experienced, the things I had achieved, the places I’d seen. It felt wonderful to thoroughly go through all of my highlights and give gratitude. I also realised that there were things that I didn’t achieve last year and things that I have failed at. I didn’t dwell on these in a negative manner, by mentally beating myself up and calling myself every nasty name under the sun. It’s important to analyse your failings and figure out why you failed, and how you can move past that and succeed in the future.

 

Sometimes we fail at things and it’s perfectly ok. A few year’s back I tried being in a netball team for the first time since high school. I realised pretty soon that I hated it, and it didn’t make me feel good about myself. I’m not a sporty person, and for me, that’s totally fine. But there are goals I consistently fail to see through to the end and I wanted to know why.

 

So ask yourself, how can you approach your goals in a different way? Can you change your approach somehow? Often, we become overwhelmed by our ambitions because we make them too big and scary. Sometimes we have to cut them down into bite-size chunks or be really specific. Sometimes we have to set realistic deadlines for ourselves. If you want to learn French, for example, don’t give yourself the resolution of ‘becoming fluent in French’. That’s far too broad a goal. Surely you don’t need to know all aspects of the French language, at least right away. If you dislike sports then there is really no point in trying to practice your French by reading the sports section of Le Monde. Instead, you could say you want to be able to converse comfortably in everyday French as your grand goal but break that down. Perhaps focus on learning weather vocabulary one week, and restaurant phrases for another. And don’t promise yourself you’ll work out for a solid hour every day. That’s enough to put off anyone. You have to build up to that. Start off doing 7 mins, or even by doing some squats as you brush your teeth. I’m using French and fitness as examples, but you can apply these principles to any goal.

 

For deadlines, you could maybe pick a date to start conversing with a French buddy online, or take that Paris trip you’ve always dreamed about. Instead of focusing on being a certain weight or dress size, you could run a half marathon or have an event you want to look amazing at.

 

If you miss doing your French or your workout one day, or whatever your goal is, don’t beat yourself up and give up, just carry on! And if you find you are lapsing again then you need to look at why. Do you need to adjust your schedule? Perhaps you have to look back to your reasons for wanting to accomplish that goal in the first place. Are your reasons still the same? Who are you doing it for? Yourself? Or to please someone else? If it doesn’t bring you joy, then consider doing something else. If learning French grammar fills you with dread, then don’t waste time learning the grammar. Find another way of understanding. If you absolutely loathe burpees, don’t do them – there are plenty of other exercises to get your heart pumping.

 

Reward your efforts. Start small. If you do your task for the day or week, then treat yourself to a bath, or a trip to the cinema. If you achieve your bite-size goal for the month then treat yourself to new lingerie, or running shoes, or even a weekend doing whatever you want, whether that’s taking a long walk on the beach or bingeing on Netflix.

 

Consider doing weekly or monthly resolutions, and weekly or monthly reviews of how you’re doing to keep yourself on track. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

 

So, here’s a quick recap:

 

  • What did you fail at last year? Why?
  • Do you still want to achieve that same goal? Can you alter it?
  • How can you approach the same goal in a different way?
  • Can you be more specific? Can you cut it down into manageable chunks?
  • Can you set a realistic deadline?
  • How can you reward yourself?

 

Aug
13

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I’m very happy that I live in a part of the world that has seasons, and anticipate each one greatly. I get bored of having the same weather after a while, so although I love the long hot days of summer, around this time every year I start yearning for colder, darker days; days when I can wrap up in jumpers and scarves, sip hot chocolate and enjoy cosy Sundays reading while it rains outside. I feel guilty if I’m not out in the sun, but truth be told, I’m only occasionally an outdoorsy person. Most of the time I’m a complete homebody.

 

 

After a stormy weekend, the air here has cooled a little, and today I fished out a lightweight jumper and made a jar of homemade, vegan hot chocolate powder for the colder weather. I used cacao powder, Natvia and salt. I added a spoonful of this to almond milk and heated it. Here is a link to the recipe, although I did tinker with it a little as I find myself incapable of following recipes properly.

 

 

I write much better when I’m wrapped up inside. The heat or air-conditioning really puts me off for some reason. Also, I always associate this time of year with preparing to go back to school. I want to plan and schedule, clean, organise and buy a new pencil case and pretty new pens and notepads. I also take a serious look at my goals and what I need to do to reinforce them. It feels like a new beginning; a chance to start over. I love feeling motivated like this.

 

 

I’m intending on spending the coming Autumn working hard to sell my debut novel, writing another, studying again academically and working on my French and Spanish. I also want to start some kind of fitness routine to whip my sloth-like body into shape, as well as making lots of super healthy warming soups and casseroles.

 

 

What will you be doing?

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This week, when I wasn’t distracted by cute bunnies and other wildlife in the back garden, I was freaking out about the final draft of my novel. As in the ultimate version which would be sent to the printers, the so-called ‘camera ready’ version.

Why?

First, let’s rewind back to the first draft of the book. Ernest Hemingway famously said that, “The first draft of anything is shit.” Bearing this is mind, when I was writing furiously, or staring at a blank screen and actually wondering if this book would ever be completed, grammar was far from my mind. It wasn’t a concern chiefly because I have an English degree and I thought my grammar was pretty darn good. I never used the dreaded text speak, and always cringed when I saw apostrophes being misused on shop signs.

By the time I was at my final draft – let’s call this the ‘first version sent to the typesetter’, I had read the manuscript so many times that my mind was getting a little clogged.

So, last Monday was the day that I had to hand in the final version – which had been typeset – to send to the printers. However, there was a slight problem. My husband. Otherwise known as the grammar nazi; a true pedant and stickler. He read through the entire novel and returned it pretty much covered in red ink. He praised the story, the characters, and the pacing – in fact, pretty much everything – but said that the sentence structure and grammar mistakes got in the way of enjoying it, saying that the reader had to ‘look though’ the words to get to what I meant, which was unnecessarily distracting. Thus begins at least three days and one whole night (I didn’t bother going to bed) of mad editing so that I could have it ready for the typesetter before she went on holiday.

Done. We read through the next version again – just to be sure. More red pen. But it had to be done. After all, what could be worse that seeing your book in print and seeing horrific errors all over the place? And the second mad dash to get version two to the typesetter before she went on holiday had to be abandoned. So deadline missed and we now have to wait two weeks before we can make progress again.

Of course, we’ve all read books with the odd typo, but in this time where self-publishing is booming, writers don’t have the luxury of an editor to check through their work with a fine-tooth comb. In fact many popular books which were self-published have terrible grammar and sentence structure. I’m not going to name any names. That wouldn’t be fair, especially because, if my husband hadn’t checked the novel, I would be guilty as charged.

The resolution? If you are indeed going down the self-publishing route, make sure you remind yourself of grammar and punctuation. I have included a photo of the books I’ve been finding helpful under the title.

Also, get as many people as possible to check your work before you publish. Especially ask friends or family who you know are great at grammar. Read it again and again until it’s perfect; tedious, yes, but beneficial in the long run.

 

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cute bunny in the garden

Hello!
Heather Blanchard

Welcome. Are you a writer, a bookworm, a daydreamer? Are you still clinging on to that magic that pervaded childhood? Pull up an armchair and get cosy. This blog is my dreamscape through an enchanted forest to a world of stories and the little things that make me happy; a chance to add a dash of sparkle to the daily grind. Here you will find the whimsical, the coveted, the Gothic and the romantic. Happy exploring!

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