Let’s talk about… writing – The First Draft…

A new blog series emerges, out of the unknown void of creativity where I sometimes have ideas…

Let’s talk about writing. You’re probably not going far and neither am I.

So while I’m here and you are (hopefully) let’s use this time to reflect on writing, after all it’s what most of us blogger types do.

Personally there is no full proof blue print to teach someone to write. You have to find that within yourself but I can sure as hell talk about it and hopefully pass on some ‘wisdom’ about the craft. If you tuned in to Twitter recently you may have seen my recent thread that 4 people probably read all about that first draft.

15 Websites And Apps For Creative, Fiction, and Short Story ...

It’s easier and relatable to think of writing in a way that everyone can. So for this post, we are going to use the analogy of cooking to represent writing that first draft…

Drafting a book 101 – The Omelette Analogy

 Egg sales have soared to a 30-year high  — smashing the 6.5billion barrier

So, you’re hungry and it’s approaching lunchtime. You have a hankering for an omelette…

* Translation – you have an idea and want to write a book. 

For a while you’ve been thinking about what you want to put into this omelette and you have some ideas. Do you have the ingredients? Do you have long enough in your lunch break to pull it off? Is there is decent frying pan in the kitchen. Do you even have a kitchen?

* Translation – you have some story ideas that could link together to make an entire book, and you’re set on a genre. Do you have enough ideas to run the course of a book? Do you have the time in your schedule to dedicate to writing. This will need to be a regular time nearly everyday. Do you have a laptop or a working computer? Do you have a dedicated writing space – I wrote on my bed for 4 years, ask my back about it… 

You’ve got several eggs and various other ingredients (ideas) some you know work and others that don’t but you figure ‘what the hell, this art and I am an artiste’. You grab the frying pan (laptop or notepad), make some time and start cracking eggs. You set the heat to medium and begin to mix..

*Translation – you’ve answered most of the questions above and dive in! 

Even though you’ve never cooked an omelette of this kind in full, you are getting a feel for the process and are learning by doing. This is probably the way I found my chef’s voice (writing voice) by spending hours upon hours of cooking (typing).  

*Translation – you’ve probably dabbled in some kind of writing before. A short story here or essay there… 

You then omit some ingredients (story ideas) because there are too many things going on at once hence disrupting the overall flow of things (the story) and so now you pour the mix into the pan. Of course you haven’t greased the pan (know what you’re really doing yet) but go with it and set the heat lower..

*Translation – although things might not have fully formed, you see the potential in your own work – its important to encourage yourself in the early stages because this is solitary effort. Nobody is on the sidelines cheering you on, nobody probably knows or ever will appreciate the time you put in to get better and make a story better…

Things start to shape up pretty well and you grab a spatula to shape the omelette into what omelette’s look like (you’ve read books, lots of them and know what they look like…) although at this point you should be concentrating more on the eggs (story) really being cooked… (you may even go back a few pages and do some editing) 

You move to flip the omelette although it’s stuck to the bottom of the pan but you persevere and manage to flip the thing although it breaks up and is partially burnt. Basically one hot mess…

They feel that it is acceptable to serve a burnt omelette for ...

bon appetite, this isn’t mine….

* Translation – you realise writing is hard, this is where most give up but you persevered no matter how ugly it looks and somehow you’ve dedicated the time to completing the first draft…

You take a bite and although you probably wouldn’t serve this up to anyone else, you like it, and you can see some potential. But a first draft is many things, telling yourself the story, the foundations or even the skeleton of a dream. 

For those who persevere with their dream they know things aren’t fully ‘right’ so they continue to go back and change a few things such as the heat level of the pan, what gets used to grease it, the quality of eggs and ingredients. Some of these can be worked on, but only the cook who wants to cook the omelette can do it on their own accord by carving their own path… 

And so I hope you are still with us and that analogy didn’t quite clog up the brain. Drafting a book is just the first step and I hope you can see what I did in comparing it with cooking. This is just like making an omelette and much like you need the tools to execute in the making, you’ll need the same for writing.

Thanks for reading…

Does your writing process compare to something relatable like cooking? 

 

Dieting tips for weight loss

Yes I’m busting out the nutrition advice because in the past 3 months I have been on a big time health kick, I also weigh less now so like all science types, I have recorded the results to pass on to others as advice.

(Disclaimer:  I am not a medical physician or a diet-ologist so before you embark on any type of change to your regular diet or lifestyle; seek professional medical advice. This also goes for any type of exercise.)

Backstory – gotta love a prequel…

Last year was an enduring and mostly stressful mess for me. Things ran hot, I published 2 books, drafted another and even wrote a play; that is without mentioning the fact I moved out and got my own place while holding down a job that follows a sometimes grueling shift pattern. It was an arduous journey which rolled into 2019.

Even though I managed to get back into running short distances after being injured basically for 5 years (shin splints, bad knee, bad back, sciatica, procrastination) my exercise regime consisted of basic yoga, some running and mostly walking. Let’s just say I wasn’t doing enough to look after myself both physically and dietary wise.

Tip 1: Cookin’ fresh…

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Even into this year in which the start was mainly hectic things didn’t really calm down until the beginning of May but around March my significant other and I decided to call time on our not particularly great diet. To elaborate I’m speaking convenience quick to cook foods of most persuasions, jars of sauces, full dairy ice cream and processed meats. We (she) signed up to a thing called slimming world and this gave us access to a bunch of awesome recipes that are ranked in something called ‘syn’s’ – this basically means the more ‘syn’s the less good it is for you.

Early on we opted to choose ‘syn’ free meals to cook in the evening. This also means everything has an emphasis on freshness. From veg to meat and carbs alongside everything else, you cook these meals from scratch.

You don’t have to sign up to slimming world to access low calorie healthy recipes, there are plenty of other places to find them just ask the google… 

Tip 2: Keep stocked up with spices…

We now have an impressive range of spices, herbs and seasonings. We’re making meals that we would normally just buy ready to cook. Those jars and packets contain so much more crap than you need. The recipes instruct you to make it from scratch which in essence begins to transform the diet and you begin to taste things properly.  From paprika, cumin, oregano, salt, pepper, mustard seeds, mixed herbs, tandoori powder, cayenne pepper, ginger, basil, chopped garlic and even cinnamon all of our meals have this stuff in frequently for curries, low cal pasta dishes,fajita’s to even burgers.

Side tip: Buy a pestle and mortar – this helps crush herbs and spices easily, and you also look sophisticated 

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Tip 3: Keep the veg section of your fridge stocked…

Every meal is made better for you by adding vegetables – just ask vegetarians… but seriously your fridge has always got to be stocked with stuff like onions of the red and brown persuasion, peppers, potatoes, chilies, tomatoes (technically a fruit) and spinach which blends into near enough any pasta dish.

If your fingers don’t constantly smell of onions like mine then you aren’t chopping enough vegetables!

Tip 4: Take it seriously and kick the habits

no booze

After what seemed like a barrage of weddings, parties and other gatherings I attended this year (I know it’s a tough life…) it felt like I was an Olympic alcohol drinker and guess what I weighed as much as an Olympic alcohol drinker. This takes real will power but if you are committed to losing weight, you have to kick any habit that increases your weight- sounds logical right?

Now I really love booze, I like most booze, I like the flavor and what it does to me, hell my third book the Teleporter is basically a love letter to booze but I knew I had to stop even if it was just a beer or two a day, it had to go. Booze effects people differently, but it increases my weight big time. So since May I have only consumed alcohol on one occasion. First time around I got to 38 days without booze, now I am on 45ish! You can do it, because I can!

Tip 5: Change it up

My current diet doesn’t just revolve around some slimming world recipes, we only really have their meals 4 times a week but I do follow their concepts for all of my eating. Here’s what an average few days looks like:

Day 1

Breakfast – Two boiled eggs and 2 slices of toasted wholemeal bread

Lunch – 1 large Baked potato with beans

Snacks Between meals if hungry – Fruit, 1 of – Apple, Pear or handful of Grapes. 

Dinner – Chicken and vegetable fajitas with grated cheese in wholemeal wraps

Dessert (yes I said dessert) – Ben and Jerry’s vegan non dairy ice cream – four scoops 

Day 2 (Zero carbs day)

Breakfast – Two boiled eggs and two slices of bacon with visible fat removed

Snack – Fruit

Lunch – One can of tuna in sunflower oil and salad with some feta cheese

Snack – whole nuts

Dinner: Two home made beef burgers without the buns and side salad

Day 3 (Meat free day) (I should do more of these)

Breakfast – 1 boiled egg, baked beans and 1 slice of toasted wholemeal bread

Snack – Fruit

Lunch – Potato wedges made from one large baked potato and vegetables 

Snack – Sweet and salted popcorn 

Dinner- Quorn meat free sausages and fresh mashed potato

Dessert – A couple of reese’s peanut butter cups

Tip 6: Beverages, always bet on zero

zero

Carbonated drinks, you can’t escape them, they are everywhere and they add a little life into the sometimes plain world of water or coffee. Of course I drink tea with soy or almond milk but it’s nice to have a little flavor. I drink coke zero quite a lot, and even now when I hit the cinema or a food place my beverage will be of the zero persuasion. Trust me, go zero, the scales will reveal why.

Zero per cent non alcoholic beer is my second go-to zero beverage. Heineken do a great one, and it’s got me through my booze free journey.

Tip 7: The scales don’t lie

The first thing I do every morning is weigh myself. If it’s good or bad; this will determine what I eat that day. It’s a great daily reminder to keep on track and when it’s good you get a real sense of reward from putting in the effort. Of course when it’s not so good that can be a motivation to do more also!

scales

Tip 8: What killed the dinosaurs? THE ICE AGE!!!

Terrible batman film quotes aside, if you have a freezer use it. Frozen vegetables and meat/meat free meat add to the already well stocked fridge you should be prepared to have in order to gain a depth of ingredients. The quality is so much better these days also.

Tip 9: Don’t expect quick results… and it’s okay to cheat sometimes..

It takes time and effort to lose weight healthily and effectively. Our bodies are designed to regulate our current conditions. Eventually our metabolism changes as we burn away fat and eventually that metabolic rate of burning stuff will speed up. The best way to notice is via the scales because we can’t visually see our own weight loss particularly well. Keep a record of it somewhere and look back to track progress.

dwayne.PNG

This leads into the fact that as humans we will indulge at some point. We have to so we can stay happy. Indulge every now and then but don’t take it too far. Order that Friday night pizza but make it a thin base. When I have my cheat days I look on the scales the very next day and see a number I like because my body burns it at a quicker rate now. Loosing fat will mean new fat burns quicker.

Conclusion:

Moderation is the key word to dieting. Vegetarian and vegan stuff is getting better and better these days and I am more prone to choosing it. There are also environmental factors that all of us need to take into regard. Starvation isn’t the answer and neither is dropping a particular food group you regularly eat. Some people will pursue the no carbs route to just give up a few paces down the track. They say variety is the spice of life and when it comes to dieting, give yourself options!

Of course all of this stuff works for me but is there anything that works for you?