31 Ways to Keep your Head above Water

CillrialaigdawnGOOD INTENTIONS

Jan 1st 2013. We get out of bed and we want to do things better this year even though we might just slide back into the old ways, we’re starting with resolve and a heightened optimism. As we stare out the window and think, yes, i should get out there we know that we need to galvanise that wish into something more focussed. Our minds are wimps really, they need goals and encouragement and a kick up the…

As I writer I’m well aware of the swings between enthusiasm and doubt, as a parent of young children, one of whom has aspergers, I know about trying, about joys, failures, frustrations, exhaustion, delight, about getting up from setbacks over and over and keeping going. Across the world the recession has hit families badly and here in Ireland a harsh budget will bring massive trials and difficulties to already stretched people.

When I started this blog Head above Water meant mainly being able to juggle the demands of at that time, a very young family while finding headspace to write. Now I want to broaden that to incorporate the range of demands people find themselves under.

Note: As this series goes on I’ll add the 31 links to this post so you can access all other posts from here, so you’ll get the full 31 by the end of January.

Day 1: How writing & running help you get creative  Day 2: Finding the space & time to create

Day 3: Why flash fiction can change your life Day 4: Flash fiction creative writing challenge

Day 5: Incubation and how to find your novel’s Eureka moment Day 6: Inspiration and Daily Practice

Day 7: Writing Goals: How to achieve them and what if you can’t

Day 7a: Creative Flash Fiction Comp Winners Day 8: Celebrating the creativity of David Bowie

Day 9: Stop or HALT, have a day off and Smile! Day 10 Guest Post: Photography – taking up a new creative pursuit

Day 11: Photo Write Prompt Comp Day 12: Finding Wordfire

Day 13: Saying Thank You Day 14: Sad Thinking and How to turn it round

Day 15: Say what you want to be Day 16: Thinking about others

Day 17: Guest Post: Derek Flynn: When is a poem not a poem

Day 18: Five Fives for Inspiring the Mind  Day 18a: Photo Write Prompt Results

Day 19: I’m not here  Day 20: Questions of Flow in Writing

Day 21: Fiona Melrose: Poetry performed alchemy on my prose

Day 22: Reasons to Live, Reasons To Love, Reasons to Write

Day 23: What’s important to you Day 24: Using your writing creatively for financial resiliance

Day 25: Bowie WritePrompt & Gerry O’ Donnell Story  Day 26: The benefits of laughter

Day 27: Claire King: How do you keep the joy in writing?

Day 28: Take Heart

Day 29: Guest Post Eliza Green: Why Self-Publishing can be good for Debut Authors

Day 30: The Benefits of Creative Pursuits: Feltmaking and more

Day 31: When writing is at the heart of us we will not let it go


The dictionary definition of keeping head above water says:

1. Lit. to keep from drowning when swimming or floating. I was so tired I could hardly keep my head above water.
2. . Fig. to manage to survive, especially financially. We have so little money that we can hardly keep our heads above water. It’s hard to keep your head above water on this much money.
3. Fig. to keep up with one’s work. It’s all I can do to keep my head above water with the work I have. I can’t take on any more. We have so many orders that we can hardly keep our heads above water.
These definitions cover the physical, financial and organizational challenges we face. But there are also emotional and creative aspects.
So what I want to do in these 31 days of January is to explore ways of keeping our heads above water in all the areas above. I want to talk about keeping ourselves mentally and physically able, to enhance our creativity and to deal with financial issues as well. These are all things that have been covered here to some extent but this will be a more focussed and practical approach, using real examples and including fun activities and challenges. Alternatively we can have a long nap till February comes.
There’ll be an at least weekly creative challenge, some of these will be competitions for prizes. We’ll also have various other fun challenges and exercises. Every post will be interactive and allow people to share their experiences good, bad or indifferent of what we’ve been doing.
I’m not a guru. I don’t have all the answers. I want to know what works for you, what you’ve tried and if we suggest something new here I want you to tell me if it worked or if it didn’t and if the idea sucked. I am also very open to suggestions as to areas to explore. My background is psychology and communications so while I might lean in those directions I’d be glad to be drawn to other ways of looking at things.
For anyone who has done the Nanowrimo writing challenge (or any other) or Weightwatchers or anything of that ilk, what really gets us going is the camaraderie, the sense of charting our progress alongside others, comparing our ups and downs, so I’m hoping to get a good sense of community here. If you like what’s happening, share with friends and always comment and reply to what others are sharing.
If you want to make sure to receive all the 31 ways to keep your Head above Water posts, sign up for email notification on the sidebar. This is my general blog notification but if you get fed up of me after 31 days you can unsubscribe! I’ve also set up a twitter account specially for this. It’s @31HAW (the more obvious handles were taken!) Otherwise I’m at @alisonwells. I’ll also hashtag on twitter mainly under #31haw and #headabovewater. I’m on facebook as Alison Wells but if we move to anything specific will let you know!
Posts will commence later today with a walking/running post. So my first challenge to you is to go for a vigourous walk today and come back later and answer some questions about how it worked for you creatively and energetically. We’ll also see how walking goals work & if there’s any point!

10 thoughts on “31 Ways to Keep your Head above Water

  1. Mitch Staunton-Moore

    Hi Alison! This has inspired me:) I just went for a walk and I brought my note book. I captured many ideas that have kinda been floating around my mind. The walking and the creating really works! Can I blog abit about your idea…. I will, point the way to you:)

  2. I may have cheated this morning – I walked, bussed, walked, bussed and had a blog draft on my Nokia Lumia by the time I got to work – Word 365 isn’t too shabby for making notes on the move.

    Anyway, then I saw this. Do I have to do it all again now? Oh yeah, I’ll be doing it all again later.

    Seriously though, walking is a great way to get out of whatever head space you were in before you left the house. I used to spend hours at it when I had fewer commitments and more time. Now I only seem to do it when I need to (which seems to be a fair bit at the moment).

    1. alisonwells

      Hi David, well yes, do it again, any excuse for another walk. Your comment reminds me how much phones with notepads or word functions are contributing to our creativity at this time. Good point too about walking when you need to versus being able to at a different stage of your life. We most likely always needs to and I know that I can feel a restless agitation when I’ve not had the opportunity to walk or to create, they’re very closely linked.

  3. Pingback: 31 Days: Stop! or HALT Have a day off and smile! | ALISON WELLS: Head Above Water

  4. Pingback: 31 Days: Finding Wordfire | ALISON WELLS: Head Above Water

  5. Pingback: 31 Days: Saying Thank You | ALISON WELLS: Head Above Water

  6. Pingback: New Year, New Writing Verve | ALISON WELLS: Head Above Water

  7. alisonwells

    Reblogged this on Head Above Water and commented:

    In 2013 I wrote a post a day in January with various topics for enhancing creativity. There are some great tips and ideas for you to try out. Just click into the posts of your choice!

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