Thursday, 22 December 2016

Great Expectations (How to be present this Christmas)


For me, the build up to Christmas can be even more joyful than the day itself. Anticipation, excitement and planning have come to define my sense of festivity. But, of course, expectation is a double-edged sword. Whilst it’s great to be excited and enthusiastic, being too caught up in how we want something creates a lot of pressure. Making yourself present is the best present you can give yourself. Here are five ways to stay in the moment this Christmas…

Be here now

Every year I treat my family to the same sermon about the importance of enjoying your Christmas as it is. It’s tempting to say ‘last year was the perfect Christmas’ or ‘I wish I had X, Y and Z this Christmas’ but to do so would be to miss out on the Christmas present. The truth is, whether for better or worse, we never get the same Christmas twice; new people come into our lives, people spend Christmas somewhere else, circumstances change. Embrace each new Christmas without comparing it or wishing for more.

Go tech free

Be present for the people around you and yourself by having a few periods of technology free moments. Obviously, there are many Merry Christmas messages to send and Skype calls to be made but don’t let it consume your day.  And don’t fall into the ‘compare and despair’ trap by spending hours looking at how everyone else is celebrating.

Grounding

If your feeling overwhelmed by anxiety, irritated by your family members or just generally in a bit of a Christmas daze, try a grounding technique. Grounding helps you get out of your mind a bit and back into the present. You can do this by paying attention to your breath, counting how many things of a particular colour you can see, or paying attention to your senses.

Silence

If your household is going to be busy and noisy this Christmas, take a moment to find somewhere quiet and just breathe. Standing outside for a minute or so is even better. Not only will this help you feel calmer, it will stop the day going by in one mad rush.

What do you need?

In a recent episode of Earn Your Happy, Lori Harder discussed the importance of asking yourself this question during the festive season. There seems to be an idea that because Christmas is a one-off time, our behaviour should be one-off too. Introverts who hate parties are supposed to undergo Scrooge-like conversions, and be the life and soul until the 1st January. People who hate cooking end up making the Christmas dinner. Avoid all this unnecessary stress by asking yourself ‘what do I need to feel calm and happy this Christmas?’ If that’s time to yourself, time for rest, an early night, a sense of structure or a brisk walk, make sure you have it.


What are your top tips for staying calm and present this Christmas? Do leave a comment below! 

Monday, 12 December 2016

Christmas Lush Treats


Whilst I am not a beauty blogger by any means, I don’t think ANYONE should be without Lush products at this time of year. Lush is like a beacon on the high street during Christmas shopping, allowing you to have a childlike glee in its bounty of the whimsical, beautiful and super cute treats on display. Here are three of my picks that would make great gifts for others or yourself this year…


Jester

Considering its clownish overtones, this reusable bubble bar has just the right amount of cuteness not to be creepy. This zesty little character will fill your bath with a fresh and fun scent, vivid colour and oodles of bubbles. The little jingle bell on its stick gives that sense of Christmas novelty that we all love Lush for. Depending on how long you hold him under the tap, you’ll be able to get multiple baths from the Jester. This peeping out of a stocking on Christmas morning would set anyone up for the day! £6.50 each.


Luxury Lush Pud

Dropping this gorgeous pudding into your bath will make a colourful explosion with a heady, comforting scent. The little spots of colour make a sweet cascade of brightness and cheer. The lavender in this will help you unwind and get a good night’s sleep during the busy Christmas season. £4.25 each.


Snow Angel

Lush’s bath melts always leave you feeling like you’ve done your skin a service – Snow Angel is no exception. The little angel sits in your bath, gently releasing cocoa butter and cassis absolute. When you get out, you are left silky smooth and with a new layer of lustre to your skin. For anyone who feels festive at the sight of gold and glitter, Snow Angel will transport you to a world of Christmas calm. £4.25 each.

Have you ventured into Lush this season? What are your favourite of their Christmas treats? 

Thursday, 8 December 2016

A Winter Wishlist


‘Tis the season to be jolly. ‘Tis also the season to celebrate, eat too much and have at least one mini meltdown whilst Christmas shopping. Here are some items to tick off your list as you go through the carnival that is the season of winter:

- Cuddle up. Cover yourself in copious amounts of blankets, throw in a hot water bottle and be as indulgent as you wish. Miranda’s Notebook has an excellent post about the essentials of Hygge here

- Walking. See the sights of the season, wrap up warm and let the cold air blow away the cobwebs. 

- Give someone a wonderful winter by making it fun for them. This might mean planning little Christmas crafts for little ones, treating a friend to a decadent hot chocolate or baking special dog biscuits for your pet. 

- Scents of winter. Light that cinnamon spice candle or make your own pot pouri. Let the scents of Christmas past take you back… 

- Festive fashion. Buy into the tacky delight of Christmas jumpers or accessorise with festive jewellery. 

- A Christmassy outing. Treat yourself to a festive trip. Chomp on roasted chestnuts at a Christmas market, make a fool of yourself ice skating, or feel all soothed by a carol service.

- In the kitchen. Hearty dinners full of goodness and made with love. Carb heavy, soul warming dishes like nut roast and potato gratin. Don’t forget the sweet treats either – these orange and ginger stained glass biscuits would be a jolly addition to anyone’s life. 

- Silence. Enjoy a few moments of quiet amid the chaos of the season, whether it’s to read, meditate or simply relax. 

- Crafts. We all need glitter in our lives right now. This DIY candle holder is easy yet enchanting. 

- Reading. This blog is called The Literary Lady after all. Build up a stack of books ‘to read’ over winter and make yourself your own reading nook in which to devour them in the coming weeks. Merry Christmas to us! 
What’s on your winter wish list this year? Leave a comment below! 
More Winter reading: 

- Six ways to enjoy Winter
- The key to winter reading 

Monday, 5 December 2016

A Literary Alphabet: G is for Garden


Literature and Gardens have bloomed alongside each other for centuries. In gardens, life is laid out plainly – things grow, things bloom, things die, life withers and wilts, flourishes and flowers amid sunshine, rain and storm. No wonder so many writers choose gardens as a source of inspiration, a fitting backdrop for the stuff of life. Here are four of my favourite garden novels…

Elizabeth and Her German Garden – Elizabeth Von Armin

‘Where the trees thicken into a wood, the fragrance of the wet earth and rotting leaves kicked up by the horses' hoofs fills my soul with delight. I particularly love that smell, -- it brings before me the entire benevolence of Nature, for ever working death and decay, so piteous in themselves, into the means of fresh life and glory, and sending up sweet odours as she works.’

A diary of a lady as she embarks upon a year of gardening. Here, the garden is Elizabeth’s sanctuary from the pressures of her life. Witty observations spring up like daffodils in this tapestry of sparkling prose. Save this for your Spring reading!

The Cement Garden – Ian McEwan

 ‘At the back of my mind I had a sense of us sitting about waiting for some terrible event, and then I would remember that it had already happened.’

A dark tale of four children left to their own devices when they become orphans. Weeds of lies, sexuality and jealousy tangle together to create this strange, uneasy story.

The Garden of the Finzi-Continis - Giorgio Bassani

‘Even in a city as small as Ferrara, you can manage, if you like, to disappear for years and years, one from another, living side by side like the dead.’

Focusing on a group of Italian Jews during the rise of Mussolini, it tells the story of the narrator’s relationship with the wealthy Finzi-Continis. Sweet innocence is slowly corrupted by the rot of fascism.

The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett

‘And the secret garden bloomed and bloomed and every morning revealed new miracles.’

A childhood classic. Mary, a misunderstood and lonely girl, finds solace and rejuvenation within the walls of a secret garden. Evocative descriptions leave you wanting to escape down the garden path with her.
Do you have any favourite books about gardens? Leave a comment below…

Monday, 28 November 2016

November Reflections


November is the quiet before the storm that is the Christmas season. There’s nothing better than a crisp walk past the bare trees, trampling leaves underfoot or sitting inside with a cosy, hot drink. Pour yourself an enormous hot chocolate as you read through my November reflections…

Quote

‘If I knew where the good songs came from, I’d go there more often. It’s a mysterious condition. It’s much like the life of a Catholic nun. You’re married to a mystery’ – Leonard Cohen

This eloquent quote from the late, great Leonard Cohen highlights the strange relationship between artists and the creative energy they tap into. Cohen’s Tower of Song is a great exploration of this and the lyrics seem more poignant than ever now he’s gone.

Reading

I Capture the Castle was one of my favourite books growing up, so I was eager to read another Dodie Smith – The Town in Bloom. It tells the story of the endearing protagonist, Mouse, a young girl who comes to post war London to pursue a career in theatre. Whilst there, she encounters heartache, disappointment and testing friendships. I found it to be a beautiful exploration of the impact our youthful decisions have on us in later life. I loved being immersed in that theatrical world too.


Writing

This month I’ve been thinking about titles – mainly because I’ve been trying to come up with one for a new book. It’s quite odd to be working on a novel without a title, especially when names are so significant. Coming up with a good title is difficult because it should capture the essence of what your work is. I’m going to try free associating, writing words that come to mind when I think about the book, and see what happens.

Focus on…. Time

I was intrigued this month by an article in the December issue of Psychologies called ‘Get Time On Your Side’ by Eleanor Tucker. Tucker examined how our perception of time affects our lives. She emphasises that time is a Western concept and that we have a habit of talking of time like it’s a currency – time is running out, short on time, waste of my time etc. I liked the description of the Madagascan concept of time: ‘the future is seen as flowing into the back of the head, or passing from behind, then becoming the past as it stretches out in front…the future is behind the head because it is as yet unknown and invisible.’ Assess your relationship with time by thinking about when time goes slowly versus when time flies. How can you stretch time to fit in more of what you love?


Three things to look forward to in December:

1. Christmas and all the trimmings, of course!
2. The inexplicable excitement of waking up to a tiny piece of advent chocolate each day.
3. Family and friends, festivities and frivolities.

Posts to Catch up on:


How was your November?! Leave a comment below! 

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Early Birds vs Night Owls


As much as we’d all like to write from nine to five during the day, sometimes that’s impossible. Work and family (and not to mention that inspiration doesn’t always strike when we want it to) might lead us to squeeze in writing time before and after hours. There is a long tradition of early birds and night owls making use of those magical hours at daybreak and nightfall, here’s my guide to how you can too…

Early Bird

Some prefer to cut their slumbers short and hit the keys as the sun rises. Early birds find that rising early allows them to launch straight into their writing with a workman like attitude. Earnest Hemingway, Barbara Kingsolver and Toni Morrison all awoke to the early chimes of their alarm clocks. Early morning writing can give a certain clarity, probably because the harsh inner critic hasn’t woken up yet. As someone who loves lie-ins, early morning writing can be a challenge. But making writing your first priority of the day, working while the world sleeps, lends an exciting impetus to your craft. Sometimes, early birds may find that their brains don’t kick into gear as quickly as they need them to, which can lead to a frustrating start to the day.

Try it out: Set your alarm clock for ten minutes earlier than usual. Grab a notebook and just write for ten minutes about anything or a specific project. Test out how this effects your creativity during the rest of the day.

Night Owl

When the moon comes up, the stars are out and the world falls silent, some writers hear the muse asking them to start working. In the silence, night owls can hear more clearly the words they scramble to find during light hours. Famous night owls include Charles Dickens, George Orwell and Robert Frost. Dickens’ nocturnal writing routine extended to him walking the streets of Victorian London after dark searching for a story. As well as tapping into a late-night wisdom, I’ve found that writing late at night becomes a time to test out daring ideas. There is almost a sense of writing outside of a curfew where new, unusual, playful ideas occur to you and its fine to test them out because it’s not ‘official’ writing time. The biggest negative of being a night owl is, of course, tiredness. Some can’t fathom the idea of doing anything creative after midnight, or if they do may find themselves paying for it in the morning. But I do believe that nocturnal inspiration should be tapped into on an occasional basis.

Try it out: After your usual bedtime hour, go to the window and look out into the darkness of the night. Listen to the silence of your surroundings. Set a timer for ten to fifteen minutes and write like no one’s watching.


Are you an early bird or a night owl? When is your favourite time to write and how does this impact on your output? Let me know in the comments below… 

Monday, 21 November 2016

F is for...Faux Pas, Felonies and Fails


Reading is usually a solitary activity. The advantage of this is that we can set our own rules about how we want to read. But when other people get involved with our literary lives it’s a different matter. From graffiti on the cover jacket to unsolicited spoilers, there seems no end to the faux pas our fellow humans can commit against our bookshelves. Here, are my top five literary sins…

1. Defacement

This is a broad category that refers to any kind of biblio-abuse. I’m talking folding down corners, using the book as a coaster, dropping a book into the bath, bending the spine to its full capacity. Of course, its fine if we want to write in the margin of our own books but that’s our prerogative.

2. Spoilers

Endings are important to readers (be reminded why in this post here). They are the bucket of gold at the end of the rainbow. To have it snatched out of our hands half way through is a literary betrayal that deprives us of reaching our finish line.

3. Distractions

This is the most indulgent on the list but one that must be included. However much we might want to hide in the fantasy worlds we find on the page, life does go on. But sometimes we readers might wonder why it must go on so loudly. High volume conversations on trains, unexpected visitors, pets demanding attention – all cut into essential reading time. Possible solution: take a ‘business trip’, wink wink.

4. Unreturned Books

‘Neither a borrower nor a lender be.’ No true literary lover can stand by these words. After all, if we all lived by this ethos there would be no libraries, and our level of debt would be as far reaching as our bookshelves. But what is unforgivable is misplacing a book. I would advise keeping books of sentimental values under lock and key. And if you do ever lose a book that isn’t yours, prepare to grovel with a book voucher.

5. Insults

Literary lovers expect and welcome debate. Some of us even go as far as to dedicate years of our lives studying to develop our own critical literary voices in university. What no bookish fan likes, though, is throwaway insults aimed at our most beloved books and authors – ‘Virginia Woolf isn’t all that’, ‘Harry Potter is just a kid’s book’, ‘The classics are so boring’. And don’t get me started on conspiracy theorists – Bramwell Bronte did not write Jane Eyre. End of.


What literary faux pas, felonies and fails most anger you? Let me know in the comment section below! 

Friday, 18 November 2016

Clutter and Treasure


‘…man's sentimental attachment to objects is one of life's greatest consolations.”
― Orhan Pamuk

If you were to choose a memento to remind you of today what would it be? A train ticket from the weekend trip you took? A conker that your little one handed you on a woodland walk? In a world where we increasingly record our beings online, why do we still return to the collecting of objects to remind ourselves who we are?

Objects, things and possessions all give a tangibility to the moments that slip by so easily. Our lives are full of fragments of our existence; from flowers pressed between the pages of a book, to the chipped Christmas angel decoration you took pity on and decided to grant a reprieve. Like magpies we pick out pieces of treasure to feather our nests.

With memory being so fragile, maybe it’s a wise thing to help little talismans to the past. I like to find items that I can easily match to a happy memory. An achievement, a feeling of joy, or simply a good day can be commemorated with something as small as a seashell. Living like this means you quickly amass little piles of treasure, or clutter as some people might call it. It’s important to clear out and donate out occasionally, but there’s something special about those little bits and bobs with a story to tell. These little pieces of clutter and junk are priceless little pieces of us. Take pride and display the treasures of your past for your future self to marvel upon. 
What little bits of treasure have you been collecting? Leave a comment below...

Monday, 14 November 2016

A Literary Alphabet: E is for Endings

Endings are sacred. They are our prize for venturing so far out. It is a literary sin to reveal an ending to someone who hasn’t reached it yet. An ending is our last contact with a book, the final clasp, the last clinch before we are left to slip back into our own world. An enduring ending stays with us.

Endings are a lot like fireworks. There are those that bang, fizz and shimmer across the sky. Endings that make a little squeak but then fizzle out to nothingness. There are endings that take you by surprise, making your heart leap momentarily or changing colour at the very last dazzling moment.

For me, a good ending is one that gets you ‘home’. Home being a place of return after a journey of enlightenment and experience. An ending should deliver you back to where you belong– maybe weary, maybe relieved – to the place you started. But that starting point should be different because you’re a different person since you were at the beginning.

Five Memorable Endings:

1. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie. The trademark summing up by Poirot with a twist of the knife.
2. Vilette by Charlotte Bronte. A chord of doubt and ambiguity at the last moment.
3. The Black Prince by Iris Murdoch. An epilogue of letters from other characters in the book throws doubt upon the narrator’s credibility. 
4. 1984 by George Orwell. Status quo continues in a world that will never be the same again. 
5. The French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles. The author enters the novel to give the reader three different endings with different outcomes for the lovers in the story.

What is your favourite ending? What makes a good ending? 

Thursday, 3 November 2016

17 Questions for Creative Growth


Tapping into our creative minds is crucial to our creative journey. Understanding our beliefs, values and aspirations in relation to creativity can help nurture the relationship between you and your creative self. The following questions are best answered with pen on paper in unedited responses. The questions may raise a hidden issue blocking you from your work or simply re-affirm your passion to make things.

1. What does creativity mean to you?

2. Which artists inspire you?

3. How do you create in both big and small ways?

4. What was a creative project you abandoned and why?

5. What topics are too big and important for you to explore?

6. What feels too petty or mediocre to explore?

7. Who would you like to adopt as a creative mentor?

8. What can you create in the next five minutes?

9. How does creativity scare you?

10. How does creativity make you feel expansive?

11. In what ways do you procrastinate?

12. In what ways do you collaborate with others to create?

13. How could you experiment with other mediums?

14. How would you advise someone suffering with self-doubt?

15. When was a time you felt someone put down your creative output?

16. When was a time you felt your creative talents were celebrated?

17. Which part of the creative process do you enjoy most – the initial idea, the planning, the implementation or the finished process?
 
Did you find these questions helpful? Which ones resonated with you? Leave a comment below!

Monday, 31 October 2016

October Reflections


October is one of my favourite months – golden leaves aplenty, berries bursting, nights drawing in - it’s a magical time of year. This October did not disappoint and was the perfect time to cuddle up and be bookish, creative and cosy. Here’s a few reflections I’d like to share with you…

Quotation

‘Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.’ -  Albert Einstein

Can you get out into nature this month? In what way can you enrich the moments you have outside this autumn? Whether it’s a few quick snaps of fallen leaves or a walking meditation on a crisp morning, take time to just be in the splendour of nature.

Reading

The highlight of my reading this month was Virginia Woolf in Manhatten by Maggie Gee, a wild exploration of what would happen if the Bloomsbury icon returned to us. I particularly loved the way Woolf was explored in terms of her status as a yardstick by which all female writers are measured. There are some comical moments – Woolf bringing back her politically incorrect speak with her from the early twentieth century – as well as some heat breaking ones. Woolf’s sadness over coming back to realise the lives of her loved ones, including her beloved husband Leonard, had to go on after she took her life was particularly poignant. 

Writing

This month I’ve been thinking a lot about writing from the point of view of someone completely unlike you. In my case, that’s writing from the perspectives of men and children. What I’ve discovered is, that whilst of course there are quirks and types to explore, at the crux of a character is a motivation, a need. Tapping into the truth of your character sets them free to be who they want you to write.



Focus on…Finding the words

I recently read about a selection of words that are untranslatable in English. My favourites were the Inuit word ‘iktsuarpok’ meaning the feeling of anticipation that makes you look outside when you’re expecting guests, and ‘waldeinsamkeit’, a German word for the feeling of being alone in the woods. It made me think about the power of words as well as their limitations. Appreciate your language by inventing five words to describe those indescribable feelings and phenomena.

Three things to look forward to in November:

1. Making rocky road bites with popping candy and veggie friendly marshmallows to enjoy on bonfire night.
2. Brisk, crisp walks under white, cold skies.
3. Tentatively starting Christmas preparations (!).  


Catch up with October’s Posts:

Six Ways To Enjoy Autumn

What have been your October highlights? Share with me below...

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Are You A Writer?


Question: When are you allowed to call yourself a writer?

When you’ve had a book published?

When you’ve finished a novel?

When you’ve written something through choice, for your own pleasure?

When you’ve written over ten thousand words?

I think we all have our own definition of what constitutes a writer, but there’s something about that term that we associate with grandeur and elitism. It’s no wonder, then, that writers, unpublished and published alike, have trouble awarding themselves with that title.

The reality is that no one gets to decide if you are a writer accept you. An idea might be to start seeing your writing as a calling, rather than a job title or status. When we look at it like that, a different set of criteria come to mind that has nothing to do with publishing contracts, best seller lists or dazzling book prizes. Consider the following questions…

Do you think of the book your writing or possible storylines when you’re in the shower, at work or stuck in queue?

Do you make scribbled notes on napkins, receipts, the back of your hand – unwilling to let a strike of inspiration go to waste?

Do you want to make a little squeal of joy every time you nail the perfect sentence?

Do you feel the world around you melt away when you are in the writing zone?

Do you want to move people? Even if you make only one person smile or cry or scream with your writing, will that mean the world to you?

Does writing keep you balanced and happy to the point you couldn’t imagine life without it?

Do you write even when you don’t want to, even finding time to up your word count on Christmas Day?

Do you know for sure that for every rejection, criticism and bad review you ever get you will continue to write?

If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, then, I think it’s safe to say… you are a writer. 

Monday, 17 October 2016

Happy 1st Birthday!


The Literary Lady has been going for a whole year! Without further ado, cut yourself an enormous slice of birthday cake and settle down to read my ten favourite posts of the last year...























Is there anything you would like to see on The Literary Lady? Leave a comment below… 

Friday, 14 October 2016

Getting Children Into Reading: Part Three - Teens


Imagination doesn’t end when a child turns thirteen so don’t let their bookish adventures end either. My early teens were when I read the least. Books became a school thing rather than a treasured hobby. I didn’t rediscover reading until my mid-teens and when I did I noticed I was more creative, getting better marks for essays and developing the way I thought. Here are a few ways you can get your teens into reading…
  • Encourage and give books that generate discussion. The teenage era is when young adults are deciding who they are. Talking about important issues allows them to explore where they stand. How about trying these for older teens: Never let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood and The Reader by Bernhard Schlink.
  • These are fraught years. Match up your teenagers with heroes and heroines they can aspire to and learn from. Whether it be Jane Eyre or Harry Potter, Katniss Everdeen or Elizabeth Bennett, an inspiring character can be a source of strength.
  • Recommend books that you love. Recommendations bring a personal connection and a book shared and loved will create a bond.
  • Coming of age books are an ideal choice for this era of transition as they tackle the issues facing young adults like first love, alienation and friendship. Some good ones to start with might be The Lord of the Flies by William Golding, I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott and Great Expectations by Charles Dickens.
  • Adaptations of classic books offer another way in. Seeing the drama come alive on the screen may give a desire to find it on the page.
  • Keep up with new young adult releases for a diverse selection of books. Have a look here for ideas.
  • At this age, bonding over books can be really easy and a great way to do it is through literary trips together. Find out about book festivals and author talks where you live. You could also research literary landmarks like The Bronte Museum and The Dickens Museum.

Which of these ideas are you going to try? How would recommend getting children into reading? Let me know in the comments below…
Catch up with the previous posts in this series:


Sunday, 9 October 2016

A Literary Alphabet: D is for Diaries


“I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.” - Oscar Wilde

If you saw a diary lying open what would you do? Those personal documents, often made impenetrable and more enticing by little gold padlocks, tantalize us because they offer a private glimpse into an inner world. The act of reading someone’s diary is the ultimate act of literary invasion. And yet, go into a bookshop and the shelves will be full of diaries. Diaries, though strangely performative, are meant to be for the writer’s eyes only so we get a sense of rawness, of intimacy and that makes it compelling.

With this in mind it’s not surprising that authors turn to the confessional form of the diary for their novels. Notes on a Scandal by Zoe Heller offers a gripping insight into the working of a character’s mind as obsession takes hold. Dodie Smith’s I Capture the Castle puts an adolescent girl at the centre of the action, negotiating the onset of adulthood and first love in the pages of her journal. Consider how much the nation took Bridget Jones to their hearts after getting to know her through her diary entries. It seems that diaries can hook a reader like nothing else.

How about the real thing? There are plenty of non-fiction diaries to dig into. There is something so powerful about someone writing their life and us getting to read it like it’s a letter to the future. Think of how many people have been able to understand the realities of the Holocaust from Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl, or the sociohistorical riches we’ve been able to garner from Samuel Pepys’ diary. What most fascinates me are the diaries of our greatest writers. Virginia Woolf’s diaries can be dipped in and out of for instant inspiration. I love the fact she saw her diary as a way of practising: ‘But what is more to the point is my belief that the habit of writing thus for my own eye only is good practice. It loosens the ligaments.’ The diaries offer an insight into the creative process that can help those of us writing today.

If you don’t keep a diary maybe it’s time to start. Read all about why here.

What are your favourite diaries, both fiction and non-fiction? Let me know in the comment section below… 

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