How to stay creative in a world of comparison

I would like to think I am always a supporter of my friends and their endeavours;

I attend events, buy tickets for shows, I purchase the ‘zines, I wander exhibitions, I listen to creations.

First and foremost, I want to thank everyone for the support on my latest project. The love for ‘The Longer My Hair Grows’ exceeded my expectations, and is continuing to do so. There have been nights of teary groove sessions and it’s due to those people who have ordered my book – even as far as asking for signed copies – that has allowed me to taste the dream that I so very much crave.  I feel like a writer now more than I ever have – and this is only the beginning.

However, within the last few days of celebratory excitement, I have noticed those who have said next-to-nothing. Those being friends who are also artists, and whom I thought would respond with overwhelming leaps of love for my achievements – but didn’t.

Which brings me to this blog. So, whilst trying to relieve this blog of any narcissistic undertones, let’s chat.

How do I deal with competition or fellow creatives who aren’t so happy about my achievements? Well, I just don’t give two shits.

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I live my ‘writer’s life’ in a very, I guess you could say, realistic manner.         Par example:

“I will publish a novel, but I don’t expect it to be my only income.”

“I will – one day – go on a book tour, but that may not include America.”

“I will gain more followers for the work I write on social media, but I will never rock the world.”

I keep myself on the ground, because I know to be successful requires hard work and self-belief, and not fairy-tale destiny crap. You have to start somewhere; the more you focus on your craft, the more authentic and original your work will be – ultimately, that is what is going to invite fandom. Yes, I sometimes fall into the trap of looking at other’s published books only to tell myself I’ll never be that good, but I don’t stay in that mindset very long. I remind myself that comparison won’t make me a better writer, writing will. So, I write. 

“If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word.”

 Margaret Atwood

Stay focused on what you’re doing whilst supporting others. And remember, you most definitely will never get better if your ideal of perfection changes with person to person. I think the only competition there should be when it comes to creating is with yourself; with your previous work, and the need to hone in on the skill.

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Instead of comparing yourself to another artist, ask them for critique.

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My debut collection of poems, ‘The Longer My Hair Grows’, available now. Click here. 

 

 

 

 

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Creative City-Break: Brussels & Bruges

As my train pulled out of St. Pancras I wondered how many people had sat in the seat before me…

Carriage 15, seat 31 on the Eurostar. This was the first trip under the English Channel I’d embarked on. I don’t know exactly what prompted my decision to head to Belgium, but I was finally on my way to spend 5 nights in Brussels. I wanted not only another creative getaway, but a new international destination to explore. There’s something about visiting a country where there’s a foreign language, and buildings so old they’re screaming out to be photographed; I enjoy destinations like these, the opportunity for ultimate solitude. Much like my blog Creative City-Break: Top Things Bristol Has To Offer To The Creative Mind, this is going to be my top experiences/tips in Brussels & Bruges on a Creative City-Break.

1. Appreciate the city for what it is. I know first hand that when you travel solo, it’s so easy to wander around, headphones in, nose in your Lonely Planet guide and see the sights with no outside influence. Every city I go to, especially when I’m alone, I partake in a Sandeman’s free – emphasis on the free – walking tour. These 2-3 hour-long tours, are not only a great way to meet people, but a chance to scope out the city and get an insiders guide into the hotspots. I always try hit up a tour on the day that I land so I have an idea of where I want to go, and what I want to see in more detail. Knowledge is inspiration, my friends.

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2. Enjoy the parks and quiet places to think. I came across Place du Petit Sablon by chance, and it was by far my favourite garden I visited whilst in Brussels. It’s a lovely square, complete with hedges, sculptures, 48 bronze statuettes, and a beautiful big fountain. At the base of the fountain, and the surrounding green, are plenty of benches. I sat here for an hour, had my lunch, and enjoyed the scenery. The sound of the water allowing me to read and relax.

Other lovely parks to visit: Parc Leopold & Parc du Cinquantenaire.

3. Drink the coffee, they make it right. I have a good place for you to visit. It’s call Askum Coffee House. Not far from Grand Place, and in the centre of Brussels, it’s the perfect place to whip out your book or computer and relax. Their coffee is great, their staff are lovely, and the place has a good vibe. Need I say more?

Creative City-Break: Brussels & Bruges

4. Some museums are better than others when in need of a creative push. One of those definitely being the Centre Belge de la Bande Dessinée, otherwise known as Belgium’s national Comic Strip Centre. Yup, you heard right. The entire building is dedicated to showing the evolution of comics; you enter the building, and you’re literally surrounded by art. The centre hosts a café, bookshop, a comic book museum, gallery and even a library where you can sit and read comic books.

Did you know The Adventures of Tintin and The Smurfs (Les Schtroumpfs) are both Belgian comics? Oui oui.

Another lovely museum I recommend you give a go is the Musées royaux des Beaux-Arts. This museum, dedicated to the fine arts, has modern and ancient art, so there really is something for everyone. I absolutely adored the café in this museum as well. Even though it’s slightly more expensive to alternatives, this café offers a lovely patio with roof top views where you can enjoy your delicious chef prepared food. Be sure to visit the sculpture garden outside the museum.

5. Take a day excursion to Bruges. When I was telling people about my holiday to Brussels, I was told by nearly every person that I had to go to Bruges, another beautiful Belgian city. An easy hour train ride from Brussels-Midi station, it is a necessary day-trip when you’re already so close. On my recent trip to Bristol I purchased a Canon 1300D, the camera I’d always dreamed of owning. Bruges made me so thankful to have such a beautiful camera to capture the city itself. The small, canal-surrounded city encouraged me to put away my phone, replace it with my camera, and just wander. The quirks of the photogenic old city inspiring my stories with every step.

CREATIVE CITY-BREAK: BRUSSELS & BRUGES

Musts in Bruges:

  • Visit the EspressoBar – I Love Coffee coffee shop. This was an amazing find. Not only is the place itself wickedly decked out – from soldered spoon lampshades to the portafilter door handles – their baristas make one hell of a coffee.
  • Sit in The Basilica of the Holy Blood and/or wander through and around the monastery gardens of Begijnhof. You don’t have to be religious to appreciate the beauty of these spaces, and they are both beautifully silent spaces.

CREATIVE CITY-BREAK: BRUSSELS & BRUGES

Before I finish off this blog, here are the places you go to try the best of authentic Belgian foods in Brussels:

  • Chocolate – Neuhaus: You can find the original shop in the Galerie de la Reine which opened in 1857.
  • Waffles – Maison Dandoy: Right near Grand Place, be sure to order a ‘naturel’ waffle for the real Belgian waffle experience.
  • Frites – Friterie Tabora: Recommended by the local tour guide. They’re as good as good frites come.

So, as the Belgian proverb says,

           “Money buys cherries.”

…go buy yourself a cherry of a city-break to Belgium. If you live in London like me, or in Europe – or even anywhere else in the world – Belgium is worth the trip and can offer you a lovely time.

Amusez-vous bien (have fun) kids!

Creative City-Break: Top 3 Things Bristol Has To Offer To The Creative Mind

London is a great place to live, but sometimes all a girl needs is an escape. This week’s city-break has brought me to the quirky city of Bristol in South-West England; with just over 400,000 residents and being labelled as student central, this city is known to be a cultural and creative hub just waiting to be explored. Let’s go.

After a near 2 hour train ride from London, I arrived into Central Bristol at Temple Meads station. My initial reaction was I could breathe, there was something about being somewhere where no one was rushing that was refreshing and creatively liberating. I sometimes find London to be so passion forward that it’s suffocating, Bristol just has this calm vibe. After checking into my hotel, I went out to explore; street music, poetry readings, and an abundance of book and art supply shops were suddenly at my finger tips.

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Bookshops X Cafés

Ever walked into a book shop and just felt your body go ‘ahhh’ – it’s quiet, there’s a total lack of in-your-face salespeople, and let us remember the miles and miles of books. I walked into the Bristol Waterstones and every muscle in my shoulders relaxed. As I furthered into the store I heard someone speaking loudly. I wandered in search of the voice through the delicious maze of bookshelves until I found a man doing a reading of a children’s story. A sign at his feet told me he was a local author reading his hand-made, self-illustrated story book. With an audience of only a mother and son, his passion was inspiring.  Half hiding behind a stack of Young Adult fiction, I watched with admiration in my eyes.

It’s this passionate expression which instantly made me acknowledge Bristol for being an inviting place for creativity. I spent a further 2 hours in this Waterstones. In the centre of this single level book haven is the elevated ‘Cafe W’ – the ultimate cafe for all book lovers. I sat at a bar style table looking out into the sea of books, synopsis signs, and grazing people, and wrote a portion of this blog.

If you’re like me and don’t have a rebellious “anti” attitude towards coffee shop chains, I highly recommend the Starbucks at 48 Horsefair, Bristol BS1 3EE. The upstairs hosts the quietest lounge with plenty of armchairs, tables and light-inviting windows. Cafés such as this one are all over Bristol – the perfect places for writing, reading and to drink that much-loved cup of coffee.

Open Spaces 

If you’re wanting a creative city-break, open spaces are forever inviting. The fresh air, natural light and inspiration allows you to think more clearly. Queen Square was definitely a favourite of mine whilst on my trip to Bristol. Surrounded by trees and cobbled streets, it’s a blissful escape into your mind. The harbour-side is also a lovely place to wander, I was lucky enough to be showered in sunshine whilst in Bristol. Join the Bristolians, grab a book (or a friend and some wine) and sit along the canals edge.

Galleries, Museums and Exhibitions

People who have never met me, can look at me and go “You like museums don’t you”. I don’t know what it is, I don’t wear slogan tees, but I definitely am an advocate for the buildings assigned to housing and promoting the creative expression of artistic brains. I travel the world and I visit the museums in every city I go to – Bristol has been no exception.

 

It was recommended to visit an art gallery on the harbour-side called Arnolfini. I happened to be very fortunate for visiting when I did. From April 15 – June 18, Arnolfini is hosting the first UK solo exhibition by Egyptian artist Basim Magdy. The multi-media exhibition displays thought-provoking displays of life on earth and visual representations of the artist’s mind. Basim pushes for those who visit this exhibition to take photos of his work and respond with any form of art along with the hashtag  #DearBasim on social media. I left feeling overwhelmingly confused, in awe, and with an obsession for his creative mind. As far as exhibitons I’ve visited, this went above and beyond my expectations; I cannot wait to return to Bristol again so I can visit Arnolfini over and over. Another museum I really enjoyed visiting was the Bristol Museum & Art Gallery. A quiet space to wander, think, and be inspired.

I’m back to London this evening, and I have thoroughly enjoyed my getaway to Bristol. I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to make it here. I often got told I would love Bristol, and I guess people know me better than I realised. Whether you’re wanting to have a weekend away, or you’re stumped on that novel you’re writing, give Bristol your time. You’ll leave refreshed and inspired.

Can Bristol host a Creative City-break? It’s a yes from me.