Posts Tagged ‘advice’

The ‘How-To’ of Parenting

In It's My Year, It's Only Words on 07/01/2012 at 16:57

It’s funny, since learning I was pregnant and then, nine months later, becoming a parent, my social circle has evolved to largely include fellow mothers, my conversation rotates around issues of nappy contents, which supermarkets are having sales on said nappies, weaning, sleep patterns, buggy model… Believe me, I could go on for days! And my sense of self-judgement has been questioned.

Mothers, and especially new mothers, are an interesting breed – we doubt ourselves constantly, look for reassurance on an almost daily basis and feel guilty over every action we have a hand in …and yet, ultimately we believe we are the only ones who know what is best for our child. Like lionesses fiercely protecting our cubs, occasionally we may look to the rest of the pride for help, but mainly we alone are the ones we rely on to make the right decisions.

We all do things differently. Some mothers are convinced that rigid routine is the way forward while others fly by the seat of their elasticated pants; some mothers feed their babies by bottle while others are staunch advocates of ‘breast is best’; some mothers know every nursery rhyme that was ever written while others rely on the musical numbers from their own childhoods – in the end, the differences are irrelevant because that is what makes us human but the most important thing and the one thing we have in common is the mere fact that we are all mothers.

Every mother I meet has her own way, her own neuroses and methods and while a handful choose to judge the practice of their parental peers – shooting loaded looks when they discover that Rudy goes to bed whenever he chooses to go to sleep while their little one is safely tucked away at 7pm sharp every night – the rest of us acknowledge that there is no right way to parent, there is just the way we each know how.

Motherhood, and indeed parenthood, is a remarkable adventure and one I am honoured to be taking. Being entrusted with the welfare of another person and the opportunity to enable them to realise their potential, their dreams and their own happiness – it is a huge responsibility but one that is hugely rewarding and exciting. Every step is paved with scary moments and moments that are wonderful and we want to share every single one.

Though we are all different, and may agree to disagree on a number of points, the truth is that my best references for ‘mothering’ are my fellow mums. They are the ones I call on for support, advice and reassurance. Because it is their experience, whether 30 years worth or just 3 weeks, that is so invaluable as I learn from how they have handled everything from labour to teething to potty training and beyond.

There is no ‘how-to’ for being a parent but you can always ask for directions along the way.


On Writing…

In It's Only Words on 10/27/2010 at 15:12

tappety tap tap...

Just thought I’d share some info on writing, my writing experiences and ways to pursue the write lines…

Despite my 20-something years, I have been through the media mill (to some extent), from education and careers fayres to countless work experience placements and even redundancy (not entirely shocking given the current economic climate); but still, the past 5-6 years has provided me with a microcosm of events that appear to bestow me with insider know-how and tips for wannabe writers.

Advice from Anais Nin. “The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say.”

Firstly – must-reads for writers:
1) ‘On Writing’ – by Stephen King [http://bit.ly/c75ge9]
2) ‘Writing Down the Bones’ – by Natalie Goldberg [http://bit.ly/d1nwik]

Both recommended to me by my fabulous boss at Christie’s!!

Of course the first thing I would recommend for those reading this that may indeed be thinking about how to get started on the path to journalism is to consider where in this diverse industry you may fit. Essentially, if you have a certain skill set (writing, design, proof-reading, editing etc) it can traverse across many different areas within the media industry. But decide if you want to go down the newspaper route, the broadcast route or the fiction route. And how do you discover where you fit if you are currently unsure? Work experience.

Advice from Truman Capote. Editing is as important as the writing. “I believe more in the scissors than I do in the pencil.”

I knew I wanted to write. I knew I wanted to write for a magazine. So I did work experience at local titles, niche titles, national titles and even international titles. Each experience endowed me with some new nugget of expertise and insight. It taught me where I fit in personally and how to adapt myself to each unique house style. It may take several placements and jobs to finally find where you fit – it is only now at Christie’s that I finally feel I’m somewhere that’s me.

Advice from F. Scott Fitzgerald. “Cut out all those exclamation marks. An exclamation mark is like laughing at your own joke.”

And if you can freelance, great. It’s more for the self-motivated individuals who can network and multitask, but it’s great work if you can get it.

Just words...

Depending on where you are with your career/life, journalism courses are a good option also. I did a masters at London College of Communication (formerly Printing), and there are plenty of other courses via the University of the Arts London [http://www.arts.ac.uk/] that will enable you to specialise in whichever sector of media you wish to pursue. The NoSweat Journalism college [http://www.nosweatjt.co.uk/] is great for shorter courses and is recognised and approved by The National Council for the Training of Journalists. London’s City University offers one of the most widely sought-after post-graduate diplomas though can be tough to get onto and is rather more expensive than other options, and Cardiff offer an equally covetable course.

N.B. Work experience and a portfolio (of your by-lined works) are crucial when applying for these courses. Try the smaller publishing houses and local publications first before approaching the big names (IPC, National Magazine Co, Conde Nast, Hachette Filipacchi, emap etc) as you are more likely to get a placement and get to write, thereby building your portfolio. If you are at university, join your student paper/magazine and/or radio station – great experience and great for your portfolio.

Advice from Oscar Wilde. Be unpredictable. Wilde suggested that “consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative.”

Network!! I cannot stress this enough – seize every opportunity to speak to people, you never know who they know and who might be able to give you a leg up. Make a good impression at all your work experience placements, even if you’re only making the coffee and feel completely invisible – you don’t know who might be watching and whether a role might be about to appear that needs filling.

Advice from Stephen King. “Read a lot and write a lot.” Reading and understanding different styles is integral to finding your own style.

Read!! Newspapers, magazines (even the trashy ones), newswires (reuters, bloomberg etc), twitter, journals… from helping you out in interviews [“oh yes, Martin, I loved your feature on the impact of the iPad on the next generation” / “exactly, the issue of IVF is an increasingly pressing topic for the current medical landscape”]; to keeping you informed and providing you with educated conversation when networking – it is vital.

Advice from Ernest Hemingway. Use short sentences and short first paragraphs. These rules were two of four given to Hemingway in his early days as a reporter–and words he lived by.

Social Media – get on Twitter, link it to your blog, share it on your Facebook page and update your LinkedIn with all the new contacts you accumulate. Social Media sites enable you to network, promote your skills, and raise awareness of your profile to a broad and international audience. Don’t underestimate it!!

Words words words...

With these fundamental tools under your belt you are ready to set off on your path to written success. Laptop, set, get typing…