Casper and Instagram

While I’m not working, I think it’s important to identify any gaps in my skill set and see what I can do to improve it. As well as reading plenty of articles on digital marketing, and particularly social media usage, I’ve been partaking in a little social media experiment myself. While I’ve had my own Instagram account for years, I’ve never had success at creating a targeted Instagram account. When I worked for the All-Wales School Liaison Core Programme, I trialled an Instagram account when we running a campaign on New Psychoactive Substances (legal highs), but didn’t have much success due to not having enough lead time to build the account up before we released the posters being used for a campaign.

So what am I doing to give myself a chance to experiment with Instagram? I’ve done what any sane person does and I’ve set up an Instagram account for our cat Casper. We adopted Casper from Holly Hedge a few months ago and he’s settling in really well. He went from being a quiet, shy cat while in Holly Hedge, to a cat full of character once he had settled in. Casper may be nearly three, but whenCasper the Friendly Cat he isn’t sleeping – which like any cat, he does a lot, he is just like a kitten wanting to play, or will quite happily jump up onto your lap for a cuddle.

I set up the Instagram account on the 26th March and set myself the target of 50 followers in the first week – which I achieved! Now on the 20th April, Casper has 171 followers and has no shortage of likes per post. I think the most he has achieved is 69 likes on one post. Obviously I would like a post to smash the 100 likes mark on a post, but we need to be a much bigger account to achieve that – I can’t even imagine being into the thousands of followers mark like many cat accounts out there.

For Casper’s account, I post between 1 and 3 pictures a day; it averages 2 pictures, but slips to the 3 mark if he happens to do a cute picture and not be glaring at the camera. I try and take a few pictures of Casper in one day so that I have a stash to use and I don’t have to be constantly taking pictures of him. Before I started the account, I did some research and took notes on what hashtags are popular for cat accounts as it is the quickest way to get likes on each post and have a chance of making Casper even slightly Insta-famous. It’s also important to have interaction on the account; I can’t just post pictures of Casper and leave it, I have to like other cat pictures and comment on them to encourage people to do the same to Casper’s pictures. I also have to ensure that I am following other cat accounts – of course I hope they follow me back, but like many other accounts, I don’t unfollow an account just because they don’t follow Casper back. I’ve seen this happen quite a lot with Casper’s account (and my own account), and they must be accounts that are very serious at building their accounts up.

This Casper account is a chance to have a bit of fun, taking pictures and seeing what can be achieved on a targeted account, and as long as Casper is happy to have his picture taken – and does more than sleep each day, I’ll see how far I can take this account. The nest step is achieving 200 followers for this week, so wish me luck, and if you want to see plenty of pictures of our cute cotton wool ball (his fur is just like cotton wool when it’s brushed), please following Casper on Instagram.

Turning 31!

Before I turned 30, I had the list of 30 things I wanted to do before I turned 30. For me, turning 30 was a big deal – well I thought it was. As it turned out, turning 30 wasn’t a big deal. Although I didn’t complete the list of 30 things, I had a good old stab at it and still keep certain things up on it. I still post two Instagram pictures a week and I still make an effort to ensure that everything I buy or wear isn’t black. I’m still even better at trying new foods, so I did succeed in some ways.

Now it’s just over a week until I turn 31 and reality has hit. I am not where I want to be. By now, I wanted to own my own house and be in a job I love. At this moment in time I find myself unemployed and any thoughts we had about taking our first steps into being home owners has been shelved until a much later date.

Finding myself unemployed has been a huge shock to the system. Understandably my confidence has been knocked, but I had two choices; sit and wallow, or dust myself off and get on with it. I took option two. I got straight onto the job centre as I had to get myself registered for job seekers to have some money coming in and I got my CV sorted. This was all on the same day as losing my job. From there it’s been job hunting and trying to tweak my CV as there is so much competition out there and you have to find your own way to shine. I’ve worked since I was 16, so there’s no way I’m scared of a bit of hard work to get myself back on the right track.

Did I see myself in this position at 31? No is the simple answer to that. But at the end of the day, I am not going to let this defeat me and I have to believe very strongly that everything does happen for a reason and that my next big challenge is just round the corner for me!

Novel Nights with Mimi Thebo

Last night I had the pleasure of once again hearing one of the most inspirational women I have ever met talk about writing; Dr Mimi Thebo.

Mimi was one of my lecturers at Bath Spa University during my time there between 2005 and 2008; there she inspired and encouraged me greatly, showing me that I could achieve anything I put my mind too. Mimi was a great force behind me starting Live-Music-Scene – the music site I started at Bath Spa during one of my courses, and ran until February 2014.

Last night, Mimi was talking about voice at Novel Nights at the Strawberry Thief Bar; it was the first time I’d got to hear Mimi talk since University. Instantly you are transported back to your time in the classroom where you’re keen to absorb every little thing you can. Mimi talks with such frank honesty, wit, enthusiasm and passion. You feel her words inspiring you – and of course, you feel guilty that this woman can get up at 4.30am to go and write in her writing shed before her work day has even begun –  and you can’t find the time to keep updating a simple Blog, or finish one of the two unfinished pieces of work hanging around.

Mimi was an inspiration the first time I met her, and all these years later, she continues to be just that. I urge you that if you get a chance, go and see this delightful woman talk. You will find yourself entranced about what she has to say – and you will certainly find yourself wanting to write more. Last night at the Strawberry Thief, surrounded by writers – some published – some enthusiastic – you could feel the creativity bubbling away. Thoughts were brewing and people were itching to pick up their pens or plonk themselves in front of their computers. For us former students, like Lara and me, we want to make the woman who helped us so much at Bath Spa proud of what we can achieve when we put our mind to it. As Mimi said last night, start by carving out just 20 minutes a day for your writing. It’s about finding that time when you can focus; you don’t have to call it ‘me time’, it’s time that will benefit everyone around you. It can help your emotional and physical health – and that’s something we can all do with a little bit more of in our lives. Now I just need to find my own ‘writing shed’ and kick myself up the arse to actually finish one of my novels!

Find out more about Mimi at www.mimithebo.net/ and follow her on myglamorousliterarylife.com/

Scared of your own Writing?

Is it possible to be scared of your own writing? It’s a question I’ve been asking myself tonight after I picked up the novel I wrote for NaNo 13 and never finished. I’ve always promised myself I’d finish it properly yet I find every reason not to write the missing chapter or edit some pages. Tonight all I can do is glance at a page before I turn away unable to bring myself to read it. Yet a glance is more than I’ve managed in months, so you never know, I may be breaking the fear….

The Feel for Writing

Lately I’ve been feeling a niggle – no let me correct that – an itch. Yes an itch. An itch to write that is. I should be jumping for joy that I feel the need – or possibly the want to feel my fingers skimming across a keyboard or picking up a pen – but I don’t. Why you ask? Because I don’t know what to write about. I feel lost I suppose you could say. For so long I wrote about music. For over seven years I spent all my free time writing and editing reviews – yet I haven’t felt that desire since I gave up LMS a year ago when it got too much. Part of me wonders whether I should try reviewing again, but just for fun this time; while another part of me screams ‘no don’t do it, you’re loving going to gigs again just to enjoy the music, don’t ruin it’. Two minds – and neither can overrule the other.

I suppose I feel that if I have the desire to write a post on here after writing nothing for months again, it may spark something within – it may give me the inspiration to kick my brain into gear and make it work again. I want to find out if that creative streak is still lurking below the surface and if it’s willing to fight its way to the surface.

Can I re-find the love of writing I once held?

NaNoWriMo: A Failed Attempt at a Novel in a Month

November: the month when writers all round the world pick up their pens – well laptops and write 50,000 words for NaNoWriMo. November for me was the month I failed NaNoWriMo! Last year was the first year that I attempted the challenge of writing 50,000 words; I felt motivated and keen to reach the goal on my first attempt – and I managed it. The funny thing is I was a hell of a lot busier last year, yet I managed the goal.

So what went wrong this year? Why did I only manage 4,000 words in a month?

Motivation. One word that is any writer’s worst enemy. Often it’s easier to write when you are busy as you carve out time to write; you take every spare minute you can to jot down words. You set yourself targets and make sure you write every moment you can as you know you may not get another chance that day. Last November I was still running my music website, I was working and I still managed a busy social life of seeing friends and family, and going to gigs – yet I still managed to write pretty much every day – or play catch-up when I did find myself lagging behind. But this time last year I didn’t know what relaxing was and I felt like I had to be busy all the time. Now that’s changed.

So why is it so hard when you aren’t as busy?

When you aren’t as busy you think you have as much time as possible to write, but soon you find your days slipping away, and before you know it a week has passed and the good intentions you had on day one have gone. I did start writing on the 1st November; it may have been a tiny amount, but I was adamant that I was going to do NaNoWriMo again. I wanted to know that I could do it, that I was picking that creative writing degree to good use by kicking my brain into action and getting creative again.

I could simply blame lack of motivation for me failing to get past the first 4,000 words, but in actual fact there was a number of factors. Firstly a new boyfriend, yes insert an awwww that I got wrapped up in the joy of having a new boyfriend – in other words a major distraction (a very good distraction I should add!) Yet despite my soppiness and obvious joy at being wrapped up in a new romance, this wasn’t what caused my lack of motivation. Even with the boyfriend on the scene I could have carved out the time to write by using lunchtimes at work or filling evenings when I was at home alone. Yet the simple fact was I didn’t like what I started to write. I felt no love for my main character; I wasn’t even sure if I liked her, so how could I expect any sane human being to actually like her? I certainly didn’t like what I had written and the direction it was going in. By 4,000 words I felt I couldn’t take my idea further; I had stalled. My character felt like all she was doing was moaning (a bit like some people may think of me reading this post) and my plot wasn’t developing in any shape or form. Basically I didn’t feel inspired.

Could I have prevented this? Yes I could. In an ideal world I would have planned. I’m not a huge planner at the best of times but last year I at least had a chapter by chapter rough guide to see me through; this year all I had was a few notes with a very vague idea of what I wanted to do, a list of characters and a vague idea of character traits. Past that I was stepping into the dark. Nightmare.

So what have I learnt from my failed attempt at NaNoWriMo?

The obvious is that I am easily distracted when I don’t have to find time to write – yes that is my own fault and only I can change that. You can’t be forced to do something you don’t want to; you have to be keen and willing and this year I wasn’t. Most importantly you have to like your main character; you have to know them inside out; you have to be able to know what their next move is and what they are thinking or quite frankly you’re screwed. The most important thing I have learnt, is that no matter how much I hate it, I have to learn to plan. If I had planned prior to November, when I hit that first wall I would have been able to get myself past it – even if it was skipping a few chapters – or even skipping right to the end and writing the final chapter – I would at least have been writing something.

My idea for this year was that bad I’m not going to pick it up again and try and actually complete it. What I will do is pick up what I wrote last year for NaNoWriMo; I will finish what I started and write the missing chapter and finish the editing off. I will kick myself up the arse and get it finished. Now I’ve written it on here for people to see I pretty much have to do it – which of course is the aim. I want people to know this post exists so they can yell at me to write. I always said my dream was to write and publish a novel so I need to stop being my own worst enemy.

So here it is now; my resolution for next year is to have my novel from NaNoWriMo 2013 finished. The pile of papers sat under the table in the living room will get edited and the missing chapter will be written.

Wish me luck!

The End of LMS and the Beginning of Free Time

I made a very hard decision last month and decided to give up my baby; Live-Music-Scene. After nearly seven years I made the decision that it was time to move on and re-discover what free time is. It will be strange not running the site and I do worry that I will have too much free time, but it’s time to focus on my own writing now.

That means I will actually have the time to write on this blog like I always intended to. I won’t lose touch with music; I’ve grown up listening to music and that will always be important to me.

A new chapter begins….