Month: March 2016

Spring Opportunities for Writers – scripts, stories, novel competitions and submissions

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Wow! So many opportunities for writers at the moment. Better get in there quick as some of them have deadlines in the next few days!

Note: some of these sites also have other opportunities for writing in other mediums. For example, I’ve only given the details for Bridport’s Short Story Competition here but they also have prizes for poetry, flash fiction and a novel award. If there are other opportunities, I’ve mentioned it next to the link.

BBC Script Room 11 – Comedy

What’s the beef? The BBC’s annual opportunity for unsolicited comedy scripts. Send a 30 min comedy script, writer biography (only a paragraph) of your writing experience, and an outline of further episodes in the series if relevant.

What’s the prize? Could lead to your script/series being commissioned with the BBC.

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Surprising things about Mindfulness meditation (yes, increased creativity/productivity is one of them!)

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I’ve been practising Mindfulness meditation for 10-15 minutes every day since the start of January, and attending a class once a week for 45minutes. Initially, this was because I had read about the benefits for anyone who suffers with anxiety.

Mindfulness is difficult to describe. Sometimes its about watching your thoughts. Other times it is about distracting from your thoughts. This does not have to be meditation with a capital ‘M.’ Mindfulness can be done whilst walking or washing up or brushing your teeth.

Most sessions involve some form of focussing on your breathing.

Or at least, trying to.

To begin with, the classes were difficult. I would find myself sat on a chair, fidgeting and willing the sessions to end more quickly. It was impossible to focus on my breathing as my mind get jumping around to my ‘to do’ list.

Fast forward two months later and yesterday I completed a session sitting cross legged without needing to move once. At times I felt as if my body had dissolved completely (perhaps that was the numbness of my legs?) and I felt…well, nothing. Just peace.

My anxiety has calmed down significantly as a result and I don’t get so stressed. These benefits of Mindfulness are well documented but there have been many other surprising things about Mindfulness.

  1. Muscle tone in my lower body. Who knew that to tone up my legs, bum and tum, all I had to do was sit on my butt for 45 mins once a week! After a Saturday session, my muscles ache as if I have been to the gym.
  2. I’ve stopped moaning so much. Mindfulness makes you aware that you own your thoughts and feelings. If you don’t like something in your life, you could moan – which will achieve NOTHING- or you could DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT! Mindfulness has taught me to choose my mindset.
  3. Weird sensations. Everyone blabbers on about the peace of Mindfulness and whilst this IS true, there are also some hidden extras no one warns you about. I’ve recently had a session where I had an overwhelming desire to laugh out loud, swiftly followed by uncontrollable crying. Thank god I hadn’t make up on that day, as I ended up with tears streaming down my face for no reason at all. According to my meditation teacher this is completely normal after you have been meditating a while.
  4. An understanding that everything is transient, especially your thoughts. Sometimes your brain lies to you. It tells you to be scared, or that you aren’t good enough. But a thought is just a thought. A negative thought is not truth and soon it will pass over just as bad weather eventually turns to sunshine.
  5. Increased creativity/productivity. This is the added benefit for writers. I used to only manage 500 words a day writing or editing after a long day teaching. This is still true of some evenings when I am just exhausted. However, some times I am nearer to writing 1000 words in one session. I’ve doubled my output! And the ideas…oh the ideas! Every morning when I wake up, my head is filled with new ideas. I’ve started permanently keeping a notebook in my bag so that I can write them down. If this isn’t a reason to keep meditating, I don’t know what is.
  6. I’ve started paying more attention to what is actually going on around me. I didn’t realise how much time I used to waste staring at my phone screen. I don’t use social media as much and instead of staring at a screen on the bus, I’ve started looking out of the window and taking notice of my surroundings. ACTUALLY relaxing instead of thinking I’m relaxing, when really my brain is processing all those status updates.
  7. Finding peace in the strangest of places. Do you know what my favourite Mindful exercise is? Putting on my make up in the morning. Its impossible to have a wandering mind when putting on winged eyeliner. If you do, you’ll wind up looking more ‘Joker’ than ‘Dita.’ This is the time my mind is the calmest. Believe me, no one is more surprised at this strange turn of events than me!

I would recommend Mindfulness meditation to anyone, but particularly if you are a writer. Has anyone else experienced any of the above? If so, I’d love for you to let me know. Drop me a comment below.