Saturday, 30 May 2015

Too Busy to Be Scared

I've been saying this a lot recently, but it's worth repeating: the best way to deal with fear is to take action. The fear is still there, but it gets pushed into the background and gets less of your attention. I think this is why some of us thrive on tight deadlines: you are forced to take action or freeze. Taking action is the lesser of these evils, so you take action.

Sometimes, giving yourself a tighter deadline is the best option. That's why I gave myself a couple of weeks to set up scatterbrainguides.com and publish the first guide (out on Monday from Amazon — shameless plug!). Perhaps I could have done a better job with more time and given the project more polish, but I would have also given myself more opportunities to get scared. By announcing the project and acting on it so quickly, I forced myself to take action instead of giving attention to the fear.

I've done a similar thing with another new project: a blog called Resurfacing and Rewriting. The website is already set up at www.hayleynjones.com and I will start blogging on Monday 1st June. The blog is aimed at people in a similar situation to me, who have mental health problems but have recovered enough so that they want to pursue their goals and get back into the world. I view it as a bridge between mental health resources which target people who are currently in the worst throes of mental illness and general self-help resources. Some of the posts will be relevant to anyone who wants to improve their life, of course, but the majority will apply mainly to people with mental health issues.

I still intend to blog here for the foreseeable future — partly to give myself an outlet for talking about difficulties with setting up a new blog! I also like that this blog is more personal, having started as a hobby, whereas Resurfacing and Rewriting will have a more professional slant. I don't have it all figured out, because my new mantra is "take action" even if I haven't planned every detail!

Monday, 25 May 2015

Eek, it's Happening!

The Scatterbrain's Guide to Getting (and Staying) organised is now available for pre-order on Amazon!



It's happened so fast that I'm struggling to get my head around it. I can hardly believe that a couple of weeks ago, scatterbrainguides.com didn't exist and the book wasn't started, let alone written.

It demonstrates what can happen if you put your mind to it: once you stop waiting and start being proactive, things slip into place faster than you would ever expect. In addition, I haven't had time to feel too anxious about my new venture, because I've been so busy! It demonstrates a truism I keep encountering:
The best cure for worries/fears is taking action.

I'm trying to remember that as I develop this project and another I've got lined up (I will tell you soonish, promise!). It's easy to get distracted by spiralling thoughts about how I'm destined to fail and it's a stupid idea anyway and nobody will ever be interested... Of course, the only way to prove if my fears are correct is to take action, so I tell myself it's an experiment to find out whether or not my fears are unfounded. The ridiculous thing is, in my experience, even when some fears are realised it's never as bad as the worst case scenario I imagined. So even if my business fails, I'm sure I will learn a lot and I will definitely be glad I gave it a shot.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Announcing my New Project: Scatterbrain Guides

Sometimes several ideas come together at once and it’s impossible not to act on them. Even if there is a high chance of failure, you need to test the water and find out. That’s what I’m doing with my new project: www.scatterbrainguides.com

A while ago, Rosemary Gemmell left a comment on this blog, saying I should think about publishing an ebook based on some of my blog posts. I brushed it off a bit at the time, because it didn’t sound like something I had the courage to do, but it has stayed in the back of my mind ever since. Then, last week, I got fed up. I was sick of never taking action and letting my life slide by in a muddle of anxiety and dashed hopes. I also kept thinking about a couple of my blog posts in particular, The Scatterbrain’s Guide to Getting (and Staying) Organised, parts one and two

I thought about how I think, as someone who has always been labelled a scatterbrain, and how I can embrace it instead of working against it. Through trial and error, I have learnt what works best for me – simple, no-nonsense strategies that get maximum results from minimal time, money and effort. What if I could save other scatterbrains the hassle of trial and error (and lots of research)? What if I could provide them with the strategies that work for me, in a convenient format?

Then I realised: I can!

ScatterbrainGuides will publish lifestyle guides on various areas of interest, starting with The Scatterbrain’s Guide to Getting (and Staying) Organised, which will be available to buy on Amazon on Monday 1st June 2015.

The guides are designed so that you can dip in and out of them, which is crucial when you’re busy and/or get easily distracted. They contain no padding; as much as I enjoy books which offer lengthy explanations, inspiring quotes and lots of anecdotes, I often want simplicity first and foremost. Scatterbrain Guides aim to be as convenient as possible. The aim is to publish a new guide every month – at least for the first 6 months. Because of the fast-paced nature of the project, feedback is encouraged and appreciated. What subjects would you like Scatterbrain Guides to cover?



Thursday, 14 May 2015

Balancing Fear and Practicality

I have been making plans. I don't mean to seem coy — I'm just terrified that they are stupid ideas. At the moment, the worst case scenario is that I'm wasting my time working on these projects. If I start to actually talk about them, I expose myself to ridicule and humiliation.

Yet I have learnt (again and again) that taking a leap in the face of fear is worth it. My modest writing successes happened because I submitted my work, rather than worrying that everyone would hate it and shutting the work away in a folder. I've had many pleasant surprises too — when my story Someone's Having a Laugh was published on shortstorysunday.com last month, many people who I barely know read it after my mum shared the link on Facebook and were very complimentary. In fact, I'm pleasantly surprised every time someone doesn't tell me I'm a terrible writer — even if it's a rejection!

The projects I'm currently working on could help me to earn a living instead of relying on benefits. They would fit in around my bad days (and weeks...) and wouldn't involve the situations that aggravate my anxiety the most (meeting new people, dealing with lots of people at once, etc). But if it all goes wrong, I expose myself to embarrassment and more anxiety.

So do I go for it or not? I think I know the answer....

And to avoid accusations of coyness, one of the projects is based on some of my blog posts: I'm considering writing a full Scatterbrain's Guide to Getting (and Staying) Organised, which I would publish on Kindle. If anyone has any advice — or just reassurance that people might be interested — please don't hesitate to get in touch via the comments here or email hayleynjones@hotmail.co.uk Thank you :-)

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Shifts. Or, Why a Writer Chooses to Get Rid of Her Desk.

Sometimes everything shifts in your life but the changes are not apparent to other people, apart from close friends and family. From the outside, your life looks the same. In many ways, it is the same: I'm still living with my parents, still single, still struggling with anxiety and depression. I haven't had a windfall or found a job. I spend my time in a similar way, reading and watching TV and trying to write. Yet I feel very different.

Perhaps the most visible change is that I've become vegan. I've been a vegetarian for around 16/17 years, so the transition isn't as dramatic as it is for some people but it's a big change nonetheless. For one thing, it restricts the variety of chocolate I can eat! More than anything though, I am now living in alignment with my beliefs. I used to kid myself that the dairy industry was unconnected to the meat industry and that sales of leather didn't contribute to the perpetuation of the meat industry. I did a lot of soul searching and committed myself to avoiding all animal products. Even leather shoes.

The second big change is...decluttering! My hoarder tendencies aren't as extreme as they used to be, but I was holding on to a lot of stuff. Stuff I didn't use much (or, in many cases, at all). Stuff that did little more than take up space in my tiny bedroom. It didn't make sense.

So I got rid of the piles of magazines, keeping useful articles in a folder for future reference. I donated clothes that were so baggy on me they looked ridiculous. I sifted through piles of paperwork, putting most of it out for recycling. I've even put my straighteners and two sets of curling tongs in the loft, to see how I cope without them.

Then, over last weekend, I stepped it up a notch. I got rid of my desk and chair. I hear you: "But *gasp* you're supposed to be a writer!" Indeed, but I rarely used my desk. Apart from to pile clothes on. My computer is a laptop and I tend to use it either (shocker) on my lap or at the dining table. Getting rid of my desk made sense.

But, gosh, how much sense it made! Without the desk, my bedroom feels massive. I have actual floor space. I can sit on my floor for the first time in years. My desk was essential when I was at university, but it became surplus to requirements and I was bloody slow to see it. 

Instead of a desk, I now have a flexible space that suits me. My white ottoman, which I believe is older than I am, has become a moveable seat/surface. Should I wish to do so, I could use it as a desk while sitting on the floor. My writing books are easier to grab and flick through, too. They are on shelves which used to surround the desk, so I would have to clamber over furniture to reach them in the past. Now, I can access information or inspiration in seconds as I pass through.

Moreover, I feel better for having a bedroom/workspace that is less cluttered. I'm not finished (whittling down my books is a work in progress), but my room feels more like a sanctuary and less like a health hazard. Being able to move more freely makes me feel more free. My mind is clearer and for the first time in months, I can focus on writing.