Advice for carers

There is a shortage of advice for carers, particularly those, like me, who did not start out in life with the idea that we would be spending the best years of our lives stuck in the house with an ill person, or people in my case.  I will give you a short history before I continue.

I finished up with postgraduate study in 2003, as by this time my father was bedridden and my mother, despite having the help she was entitled to, was struggling.  I continued to work as many hours as I could, some jobs being completed on the way home from other jobs, and found various inventive ways of fitting in as much work as I possibly could around providing support for her in the form of looking after her property and lifting my father when necessary. This still meant that I had to work in temporary, hence easily ditchable employment. My mother would not admit that she required help, and so the siblings found it quite easy to belittle my efforts alongside providing no help.  Just before she succumbed to a stroke I was working full time as a banking consultant, part time as a government research interviewer, and doing some corporate research during mealtimes.  A total of about 17 hours a day, six days a week, the remaining time being spent on maintaining the house and gardens and letting her get out.

My father became steadily worse over the five years between 2002 and 2007, and it was impossible to take the reins due to the fact that my mother was extremely difficult before her stroke.  When it became apparent that she had a heart problem, I spent two years arguing with her as I tried to tell her to go to the doctor.  It was obvious that she was not going to take this advice, and again the siblings ignored my entreaties to invite her to their house to give her a break, or advise her to go to the doctor as requested.  Therefore it became pointless to speak to them at all, since it was clear that they were not prepared for their parents dotage, nor willing to listen to me at all. I have never had much of a relationship with them, since my unexpected arrival over a decade after they thought the family was complete, came as a bit of a shock to them, so it was no great loss.  Their subsequent behaviour has been so poor that I frequently have cause to think I would be better off with no siblings at all.  These are middle class, respectable people who are in late middle age, so this came as quite a shock to me, never mind anyone else.

There is no legal or supportive body to go to if you are in this position.  I have been told by several care homes that I worked in on a temporary basis whilst trying to help my mother, that it is entirely normal for the absent children to attack the unfortunate carer, and there is no help for you on this basis at all.  You have the responsibility, you have the loss of your own life, and you have the daily drama of caring for your relative.  The last thing you need is to be attacked by your own family.  Having been through a particularly bad example of it, I can tell you that the only backup you are likely to receive in the face of such attacks is to be told, after investigation that you are off the hook.  You are basically at the mercy of adults who are functioning as particularly nasty children.

My advice is to opt out completely.  Despite what you may be told, there is no reason why you should make yourself available to be attacked.  My course of action was to ensure that I was notified of the impending visits in order to avoid them.  For the first few years of looking after my mother, I simply avoided the house during these visits.  Recently, I have been more inclined to guard my belongings, and ensure that my mother is not left alone as she tends to forget what she has been told within a few minutes.  I get no time off at all.  The vulture-siblings are not aware that she rarely gets through a night without needing something, and they have chosen to be so unhelpful and vicious that I am trapped in the house 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This is preferable to accepting help from a third party, with associated worry garnered from years of my eldest sister seeing any third party involvement being an opportunity to accuse me of things I have not done.

Considering the amount that each carer saves the taxpayer, in the course of their poorly paid excuse for a life, and the associated knowledge of the person being cared for, who is almost always receiving far better attention than they would in the conveyor belt care home system, I find this lack of support astonishing.  Yes, there are courses available, should you need them, to help you react correctly to the situations with the person being cared for, there are day care facilities provided by local bodies where you can drop off your patient, should they agree to it, but nobody cares if you are persistently victimised by your own family.  Nobody cares that your life has been destroyed, and nobody cares about your privacy.  You can, if you do not care about privacy, get help from a third party with the direct daily activity of caring, but in my position, with two vicious sisters, this is not at all helpful.  I have learned over the years to either take my mother with me, when I do need to go somewhere, or schedule it at times when it is either impossible or unnecessary to inform them at all.  All this to protect my mother and her assets from attack by her own family.

You will find that your house becomes messy very quickly indeed.  It is amazing how much mess one tiny woman can generate.  Your family may also attack you on this basis, especially if you lack the funds or inclination to redecorate frequently.  Personally, I spent several years decorating whilst caring for my parents and neighbour, and became a familiar figure, covered in paint, in my local area as I was rarely out of my painting clothes.  I am about to have to start again, as this house is large and I keep it on a five year cycle.  As long as you enjoy this process, it is something you can do whilst your patient is sleeping or watching TV nearby.

You will find yourself crying a lot, particularly if you are female and are looking at a life with no children or opportunities to go out.  This means that you cannot even hope that a gallant gentleman will save you from destitution in your dotage, so you have a bleak old age to look forward to, whilst your selfish relatives roll around in the money they were able to make by being selfish.  The only good part about this element is that you are forced to be inventive.  Towards the end of the period of my being able to work, I worked from home to avoid claiming the benefits I was entitled to.  This is considerably easier to achieve than it used to be, thanks to the internet, but particularly with a progressive illness, you will have to give this up eventually in favour of something that you can either do whilst providing care, or nothing at all.  Be prepared for some dark moments as you realise your hope of the life you previously worked for is diminishing with time.

As your patient’s illness progresses, it will become increasingly difficult to keep up with even the simple things that you were able to easily cope with, so it is wise to be extremely mean as you may have to draft in a gardener or painter that you did not need to begin with.  The time you spend in a chair with your patient is still valuable to them.  If you are fortunate, you will have some means of utilising this comfort companionship.  Artwork is particularly good for the elderly generally, so if you can find some creative spark, especially craft related since you can get them to help, this is a good way of reducing your inevitable feelings of helplessness and loneliness.  Again, being online, you can find various places to dispose of what you have made once you have come up with a product.  Cooking may be your thing, but make sure you have an audience to consume what you have made if this is the case.

There are some examples of fairly high powered people who are in exactly the same position as you, and who have admitted that caring is the hardest thing they have ever done.  You have to be tough and self aware to pull off the whole caring thing, and being a nice gentle person will not cut it when the person you are looking after becomes difficult.

Some days are horrific, and you will feel like the worst person in the world because you did not cope as well as you should have.  You are a person too, so it is important to remember that the scummy person criticising you has no idea what you are going through, or that nobody becomes an angel at age 70.  My elderly best friend was one of the most evil, fun people I have ever encountered.  She would have been fun at 30, and she was fun at 89.

There are times when your patient will start a fight out of boredom and frustration, and it is in the nature of dementia, in particular, that they will play people off against one another for sheer spite.  It is in your interests to remain out of it, for your own sanity as well as ensuring that your patient does not inadvertently catch themselves in the crossfire.  There are very few cases in which carehomes are the best option, so even if you have a bad month, it does not make you a bad person.  Two years ago, my mother did not let me sleep for more than two hours for four months.  It was appalling, but we got through it, just as we got through her stroke, the death of her husband and brother, and the dishonest and despicable behaviour of her children.

Finally, pat yourself on the back for your commitment despite all this.  You are probably stupid for being so softhearted and allowing everyone to take advantage of you. Congrats for having what it takes to tolerate the bullshit that goes with it.

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TV and alternative media coverage

Ok, continuing in my series on promoting yourself, here are a few avenues you may not have considered, or have felt to cowed to pursue.  There are a variety of avenues to go down.  In the UK, we traditionally prefer people to be on the radio before they are considered for TV, but this should not stop you registering yourself as an expert on some of the directory sites.  Some of these are quite well used, and as we know in the UK, you do not have to have a squeaky clean rap sheet to make it in the media.  Adopt the same principles as for your SEO – start small and diverse and generalize from there.  If all else fails, the channels are woefully short of ideas, and it is up to you if you want to try the various production companies to pitch a programme idea if you see nothing that currently suits you.  Well worth an afternoon or two of effort if your schtick is publicity.

Find a TV expert UK

TV connect Event London

How to be a TV expert Peter Shankman USA

Female experts wanted for BBC

Interview guest Directory

Expert file

What does it take to get booked as an expert?

How to get media coverage as an expert USA

Find an expert online

Expert Guide Australia

Expertise Finder

How to find an expert and tap research networks on deadline: Tips on Google Scholar and Microsoft Academic Search


Pitching for TV

BBC pitching for TV advice – go for radio first (see below)

TV writer’s vault

How To Pitch A TV Show – The Pitch For The Wire

Pitching for Radio

Pitch Me a Story

Pitching Story ideas

Pitching for BBC radio


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Conscious Branding and business gurus

An interesting feature I have come across since embarking on my current course binge, is the rise of the digital hippies.  A great number of high achieving, big brand middle managers and branding specialists seem to discover yoga at a formative mid-life-crisis point in their lives, and are now making their living ‘transforming’ business.

Far be it from me to criticize this worthy effort, but I have to say the effects of this B2B marketing are variable.  I do like the manner of some of these uber calm Steve Jobs impersonators, but I am not at all sure that creating a kind of hippy subculture in relation to something as serious as ecological economics is entirely sensible.

Here are a few examples:

Conscious Business Institute – Peter Matties – Peter has a lovely manner, but is very keen to sell courses in leadership and culture transformation, as long as it suits his work-life balance at the time.  You can find more information from his website. Whilst, as a habitual overworker, I can see the value in ensuring that your (often very productive) time off to think is just as important as your time in the saddle, I question the general value of meditation and spiritualism in a business context, unless you can persuade everyone to do it.

Ulab Presencing InstituteOtto Scharmer  MIT has a department devoted to Otto, who has some interesting publications, and 28,000 people, including many from the Scottish Government, have embraced his notion that collective hivemind meditation will lead to a more progressive form of economics for the future.  Sadly, I missed the course, but I have some of the files from the 2010 course.  In the event that he runs another one this year, it might be worth taking a look at, since this seems to be the Scottish Nationalist/civil service equivalent of Common Purpose for the Labourites in the UK.

Robert Bo Lockwood Regenerating America. I am sorry to say that I was unable to complete Bo’s course as he has a bad tendency to stick to a script, to the point of rendering his course unlistenable-to.  He is using hippy imagery to sell a branding and ethical concept to American business.  Good luck to him, but he really needs to sharpen his act to appeal to a wider audience and cut down on superfluous words and uber-patriotism.

Seva business Networking A place for believers in conscious business to oil each other up, in the tradition of business networkers everywhere.  Again, good idea, but we seem to be creating a B2B niche, rather than genuinely making efforts to change business practice.

About Us


I am sorry, Cathi, but Abundance Reality Group rings serious bells of doom.

Conscious Business Network another network for practitioners of conscious business.  If you are in the USA, enjoy yoga, or sell to people who like talking a good game and selling themselves as ethical/sustainable/conscious this is possibly the place for you.

Fred Kofman

Fred Kofman has a book and some of the usual American marketing techniques, but this at least appears to be some attempt at a cultural shift in addition to money generation. The difference is that if a cultural shift were affected, Trump would be sneering about his better-than-the-opposition commitment to renewables, instead of dissing Mexicans.

Conscious Business Network UK the UK version, for serious worthies who want to meet, greet and market to each other.

How Conscious is Conscious Business?

Call me cynical, but I feel a style is developing in which people talk only to each other.  A worthy clique, or set of worthy cliques, is not the same as a cultural shift. I am working on a couple of relevant courses at the moment, and the spirit of perfectly normal marketing is strong.  Nobody is making any clear definitions, and nobody is being encouraged to talk about it rationally.  eg. Sourcing a proportion of organic cotton is not the same as recycling waste.  Hemp is not truly avoiding exploiting land for production.  Discussing the ethics of re-use in terms of lost jobs, is not the same as a genuine commitment to think differently.  Then, of course, you see a backlash:

Beware the digital hippies

Most of the genuine eco-warriors I know, who are carrying out perfectly normal, if technologically advanced, businesses in solar, renewables and alternative technical wizardry, would find this movement rather perplexing.  They have a completely different approach, involving a more scientific vision of the world, and practical methods of approaching change.

I’m with them on this one.  Either you make a policy statement if you are an artist or small business; you market, if you are an alternative health practitioner; or you learn and transform as an individual or academic.  B2B marketing is a different thing, and whilst I applaud the sentiment and the effort, I would caution people in the conscious business movement not to cling too hard to the sandals and dreadlocks. There are plenty of meditative pursuits that do not involve sharing a space with cross legged friends.

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Quick and dirty SEO

SEO is a terrifying mystery to many people, and there is a lot of money being made from people who simply cannot be bothered, or are confused into paying other people to do it.  Here is a fast tour of what sort of information you require, and how to find it fast.

Please use this in conjunction with the previous posts for best effects.  This is more important than posting on Twitter or Facebook and you should spend some time doing this unless you are, like me, not in a hurry for growth.

If entering the marketplace or engaging in SEO for first time – best to use keyword modifiers to narrow your optimised searches to begin with and strip it down from there, rather than try to compete in a crowded and established marketplace – start diverse and become generic. Choose an area in which you can compete and widen from there as you grow.


Free ways of shamelessly self promoting

Free PR training and resources


Web developer toolbar – you will need to download and install this to look at your website, and competitor website html for the purposes of generating keywords.  Look at terms used by top ranking sites – are they relevant to you? Available as plug ins for firefox or chrome. Note – you do not require any knowledge of html or scripting to evaluate meta data in the html file.

Inbound links from other sites – .gov  .edu .mil sites are better for backlinks due to percieved influence of google search.  Worth checking authority on other sites in terms of finding ways of getting better quality links than they have for your own site.

On page seo/inbound links – always use anchor text for hyperlinks rather than plaintext weblinks.  Embedded links are always better, rather than risking losing the hyperlink by allowing people to copy paste.

Off page seo – meta data – meta keywords/descriptions/tags – title tag can be viewed in your own or competitors html under view source from the developer toolbar/tools.  Browser page title – meta description –  snippet in page results – can see in google – need a different yet related one for each page – idea is to come up first in search for categories not title or consistent words – most read this part of website due to appearance in search.

Dynamic and generic meta data – not the job of a webdesigner – may instruct google to use page text in html – SEO costs extra. need to specify keyword rich descriptors for each page and avoid generic descriptions to avoid being overlooked eg.  page may come up top of search but have vague or irrelevant descriptions meaning people do not click.  Keywords often left blank as Google may ignore this due to blackhat gaming (see below).

Basic keyword discovery demo – steps to finding keywords to rank for  Show search tools when searching on Google. Check related searches to find keyword terms, particularly for local businesses.  Do not be afraid to use words such as cheap in seo that you wouldnt use in advertising. Use keyword planner in Google (see above) in addition to examining source in webpages using your developers toolbar. Use Google insights for search to isolate use of terms, geographical relevance if necessary.

Keyword modifiers – if search range is too wide – use modifiers – eg dog training singapore may have too many established sites so try best, best local, best local obedience etc.  Start narrow and then drop modifiers as site gains traction. Do not pick keywords that get searched a lot to begin with as unable to compete. aka Long tail SEO – choose rarer keywords that others may not be optimized for.

Keyword density – density pretty much useless unless you are in a sector where nobody knows anything about SEO.  Not about saying same words – same thing in a different way – high relevance rather than repetition

Analyze competitors via inbound links – use opensite explorer (see link below), google tools to see what successful online businesses are doing in addition to looking at html with developers toolbar.  eg.  If a sales site is using aggregator sites – may have thousands of backlinks from very few sites. Could also be sockpuppeting own reviews on aggregator sites.

SEO for mobiles – more difficult to compete internationally, since search results will always be localised. Boosting local profile good for mobiles. eg.  Offering a local class may make you more relevant if your business is international for mobile searches.  Foursquare important.  Yelp also may be of relevance. Mobile is the future – make yourself relevant on mobile. Not just apps – browser access.

Writing for search – direct clear and under 40 characters for titles.  Lots of related words in text.

SEO generally – benefits from press releases, articles and alternative information (see previous articles)

White hat seo/black hat seo  ethical versus cheating SEO eg. using aggregator sites and posting own reviews.

Sources – the excellent free SEO courses on Udemy from Tolga and Eric

For more see their websites:

Tolga’s site

Eric’s site

Their courses:

Complete Search Engine Optimization SEO Course

Search Engine Optimization for Business

You will also need the following tools:


Open site explorer from Moz

Beginner’s guide to SEO from Moz

SEO book

Ranksignals backlinks tool

open site explorer

Adwords Keyword Planner

Screaming Frog SEO Spider Tool

This page is likely to be updated as time goes on, feel free to check back.  If it seems rough, please invest the time in taking a course or two and reread this quick memory aid to steps in SEO.


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Free shameless self promoting

Free shameless self promoting
For bloggers, marketers and shameless self promoters alike, there are a wealth of ways to put yourself out there which do not cost you anything but time.  I am sure there are far more, and more efficient ways of doing it, but here are a few, which I have thus far picked up both from courses, and a cursory search.


Scoop it




Plus social good

Inbound (for marketers)

Article Alley

Articles Base

Seeking Alpha (stockmarket insights)

Viral content buzz

Article City

Article Cube




List of 80 sites from ranktactics

250 pr articles submission sites

That should keep you busy for a while.  These links are tried and tested apart from the last two. It is time consuming to set yourself up on some of these sites, but you will find with time that it takes little more time than maintaining your website, blog and online promotion.


And drop in on this chap, he has lots of experience.

Philip Kleudgen



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Published on January 26, 2016 03:20 • 10 views

For bloggers, marketers and shameless self promoters alike, there are a wealth of ways to put yourself out there which do not cost you anything but time.  I am sure there are far more, and more efficient ways of doing it, but here are a few, which I have thus far picked up both from courses, and a cursory search.


Scoop it




Plus social good

Inbound (for marketers)

Article Alley

Articles Base

Seeking Alpha (stockmarket insights)

Viral content buzz

Article City

Article Cube




List of 80 sites from ranktactics

250 pr articles submission sites

That should keep you busy for a while/



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PR resources

Public Relations training and resources

This post follows on from my previous post, useful to marketers, authors, artists and educators alike – for those who are not familiar with the term, public relations is your lofty voice to the world, stating your mission for the benefit for the public and spinning your errors so that they no longer look like errors.  a good grounding in public relations will save you money and benefit your efforts in SEO.  This post will also help you gain traffic at the cost of time rather than money:




Free ways of shamelessly self promoting

Public Relations

Please find below, free training and implementation resources to conduct your own public relations campaign and expand your audience.  There will be further posts in this series, designed to help new businesses, time poor individuals and famewhores alike on their way to glory:




Five free Online Social media PR courses




Our courses








PR web




PR Leap




Free news release




Free press release




I newswire




click 2 newsites








This list will be added to as time goes on, these links are mostly free.  You can find guidance from the courses on offer as to how to frame your press release.  I have tried at least one of these, and I got a very good result, but as I am in no hurry to grow at present, I thought it might be helpful to share.

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Free online courses, free and paid for

Online Education, free and paid for


Please find above, part 1 of this article.  Since last week, I have completed 6 courses, and signed up for about 30, with around 60 or so pending once I have completed my first targets.

So far, Udemy is the most genuine, with certificates issued as jpg files, which you can save to your computer for later collation into one document, or printing off as separate certificates. Quality of courses varies,  but I have been quite impressed by the overall quality so far., the other Irish site, also has a function allowing you to print off your Learner record, meaning that you have the option of paying for a certificate and helping to fund other learners, or simply printing off your record if you are not in a position to do that.

FutureLearn, a site offering free University courses from the UK, has many useful courses.  Again, they fund the site via purchase of certificates, but the really strong point is networking with other students, so if you like to socialise, this is a good way to do it.

Open2Learn, a site offering free University courses from Australia, has a few interesting options, and I look forward to evaluating this one as I have signed up for a few courses here too.

Udacity and Coursera lack a search function for free courses, and so I have not signed up for any current courses, although I will get to it as I get through the initial burst of enthusiasm. Udacity is particularly useful if you want a job in silicon valley as far as I can see.

EDX has quite a number of extremely worthwhile courses, although they are so interesting that I have gone a little off track with my sign ups on this one.  I am regarding these as self development courses, as they are not really relevant to my current course of study, but I figure the fact these are more challenging than most of the others makes it worthwhile.

I have also found several sites offering subject specific free courses, so it is well worthwhile to spend a bit of time searching for the topic that interests you. I do not like the idea that a degree is part time over one year, that seems to be creeping out from the USA.  There is nothing wrong with calling a one year course a certificate, two years a diploma, and three or more a degree, and at least everyone in the marketplace knows what you mean, as opposed to this idea that a few months of blagging your way through a multiple choice option course gives you the same qualification as someone who has undertaken gruelling study for three to five years.

Anyway, have a look over the options, the initial links are in part one of this article series, and you are of course, well capable of searching all by yourself.



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Online education

The world of online education has developed considerably since I last checked five to ten years ago, and, having had an unexpected windfall, I am currently exploiting it to the full.

This has meant that I have postponed a lot of the stuff I was working on, in order to develop the next strands of work.  Apologies if you were happy just with the old ones, but every so often I have to rampage off to learn something in order to develop the next chapter, so to speak.

I have managed to cobble together about 3000GBP worth of courses for around 200GBP, and look forward to using my new found skills during my next assault on the cold and stony heart of Mr Wolfe.

To avoid aging and becoming stale, I recommend that a personal review is done every five years or so, especially if you have ongoing creative work.  Here are a few options, often free, for online learning:


EDX – courses from the World’s best universities

Coursera – free online courses

Udacity – free online courses

Alison – free online courses

Udemy – free online courses

futurelearn – free online courses

open 2 study

Derby University

Free Master’s Degrees in the EU

I am sure you could find more, but these are the ones I am working on at the moment.  I will stop occasionally, but I need to get about 30 courses complete before the next stage of the project, and I have encouraged Twisty to do a few also, so I guesstimate that the first games will not be complete until June.

Do enjoy looking through the courses, and be aware if paying for a course, that if you would like more than one, they tend to send you special offers when you buy one, so be prudent!



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Cultural brain acid

In light of today’s sad news about David Bowie, I wondered whether to write this post today, but he clearly anticipated the outpourings of grief, real and invoked, and released an only slightly cynical death album to assuage people’s sentimentality. Good for him. He will be missed by many.

Today I am going to talk about things which actively rot your brain and reduce your functional capacity.

Reality television – this cheap form of entertainment is brainwashing. It exists to persuade you of a line of argument.  It tells you about acceptable and unacceptable opinions and the correct and incorrect social response. eg. Millionaire Matchmaker, which would have you believe that it is perfectly acceptable to prostitute yourself in order to be with a rich person, provided you can polish your appearance and appear pleasing.  Youth culture which would have you believe that agreeing with everyone else is more important than forming your own opinion.

Advertising – this exists to input transitory wants so that you focus on mundane wants instead of thinking about important things.  eg. Someone who is thinking of buying a cheesecake is not thinking about why the unemployed must suffer in order to kill people in another country.

Comedians – Comedians are used by media to provide a safety valve.  Any doubts you may have about the status quo are voiced and turned into a joke. It is a panacea to prevent you from worrying and taking action over things that matter. I use this myself, in my current project  eg.  Have I got news for you, in the UK, which employs satirists to state possible errant public opinion about current affairs and provide a comedic, rather than action-based response

The hour a day millions of people spend watching soap opera – Soap operas are used rather like sport for men.  The more involved you get for that hour, the less likely you are to use that hour in ways that might affect your fragile society.  eg. People often respond to activists, researchers and services alike by saying things like “I can’t talk to you right now, Coronation Street/Emmerdale/Empire is on”  This made it extremely difficult for me to subvert the course of property development in my local area, since people had been effectively tranquillized into assuming that civic action was a mere annoyance rather than being essential for the area’s preservation.

Relying on only one source of news – I used to be proud of the BBC, a supposedly independent source of news, at one time considered internationally important.  The reality is that no news provider is now providing honest news.  The only way of getting close to the truth, is to monitor several sources and compare the alternative realities.

Allowing yourself to be distracted by the envy, snobbery, and aspirations of other people – Keeping up with the Jones’s is a futile occupation, which prevents you from seeing a bigger picture. eg.  If you are concerned about replacing your shameful car, you are not concerned about your land being fracked or your country being destroyed by industrial and alternative corporate interests.

Being persuaded that being sociable means you have to conform to what other people enjoy – Nothing is more important than actioning matters of national concern, to protect your neighbours and your civil liberties.  Not even the party you got invited to, or the coffee your well-meaning friend invited you to.  Their opinion does not matter.  Yours does.

Not investigating topics before you form a transient opinion – in recent years, arguing online about topics you know nothing about has become a popular pastime.  Imagine if all the time you spent arguing was spent researching your topic.  How knowledgeable you would become.

Candy Crush Saga – in the last few weeks, Twisty has presented me with at least four starter drug games which lead to people playing this game.  There is nothing more frightening than a room full of people glued to their mobile phones, all playing this infernal game. IT IS NOT HARMLESS. You need to wean yourself off this and spend your time thinking how to improve your life and brain activity, not send it into dormancy.

I am sure there will be people reading this post who are laughing at these apparently harmless activities, and wondering if I am a kind of grim nun.  I am not saying that you should not enjoy yourself or relax.  I am saying all of the above are bad for your brain function and mental health and you should consider them a bit like junk food.  There are more important things for you to think about, and more important work to be done.  The news on TTIP, TISA and TTPP has been very quiet for a fortnight now, which means that they are attempting to quell potential activism and sneak it past you.  Wake up, before it is too late, and your opportunities and freedom are dictated by American corporations, with Europeans firmly in their wake.  Your liberty depends on it.


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Creative Funk and Blockages

Writer’s block means that you are either processing something, have yet to experience something necessary to your development, or simply have too much to worry about. It is not something that you should ever put yourself in the position of fearing. As someone who has many creative strands to my work, I usually deal with it by using one of the others, whether that is making cartoons, games, artwork or helping other people work through their stuff.

Chatting to a friend earlier this evening, we were discussing why he does not seem to want to promote his acclaimed work. It turns out that bad experiences from his past prevent him, on the grounds that he is somehow jinxed. This, coupled with having had successful projects hijacked, has led to a creative block that has been extremely frustrating for me as the viewer, and extremely limiting for him. Despite this, he has managed several small projects, but is suffocated by what I can only describe as a sense of despondence and fear of success.

In this case, it is film-maker’s and graphic novelist’s block, rather than writer’s block. He, in common with another film-maker I have had dealings with, limits himself by not effectively working around the blockage. This is an intermittent, rather than a constant, problem, and in the meantime I take the rather selfish approach of involving him in my stuff (he does all the photography for the store, and is creating the covers for this year’s crop of books.) I feel quite bad about this, however, as his time would be better spent generating more of his own work and starting new strands, in a holistic development. You often find, on your downtime from one area that you work in, that you unexpectedly grow in a new direction.

I have many authors on my friend’s lists, and barely a day goes by that someone does not complain of being blocked, or that they feel guilty that they have not written that day. In comparison, I frequently do not write for months at a time, and feel nothing at all about it. As I have previously mentioned, Agatha Christie said that she knew she was a professional writer because she wrote things she did not like, at times she did not want to write. I have no plans to be in this position. Deadlines are helpful, but you do not become better by hammering out pulp. I am lucky enough to be feeling quite vital at the moment, but should this change, I have a game to construct and some artwork to do.

It often does not look as if you are doing anything at all, when your work is creative, and then you look back on your day and you have written a press release, researched another couple of textures, absorbed some patterns and shapes, tidied your workspace, sorted some materials for another day. If you look on your writer’s block in a similar way, your brain does need time to store information, process it, and proceed to output mode. You can try scribbling tasklists and notes to yourself in the meantime, to try to speed up this process, but it will happen by itself eventually. Mindmapping was a useful technique I used at university, and it certainly helps a lot with business plans and presentations. Plotting the thought bubbles sometimes makes things a lot clearer.

Negative events often cause you to remain in this state of blockage or funk for several years, when you could just break it down into neat chunks. I was very aware throughout this particular creative period, of what was going on, because I had seen it all before. Years ago, I might have bothered to meet Wolfe, on the assumption that there was some magical source of the waterfall of emotion, but even two years of personal misery did not deter me from the creative outcome, thankfully.

Be aware, as a creative person, that the bad things that happen to you are probably even more useful to you than the nice things. Relentless positivity is for insecure, easily threatened people that are unwilling to develop in a realistic way. The bad years, you will find, provide a more stable footing for your growth in the good ones, if you teach yourself to look on it the right way. My friend can now make well regarded film with minimal money, due to the horrific things that have happened to him. If I can just get him past this unwillingness to shout about it – there is no reason why he cannot expand on this if he wants to. It has taken probably the whole fifteen years I have known him for me to understand why he strangles himself with the hostile form of self-doubt that prevents us finishing certain projects. Which brings me to my final point – unfinished projects should not be binned – it is possible that your brain awaits a future event to teach you what you need to know. Growth is not always a smooth process, but it gets a lot smoother when you learn to protect yourself from shock, and that no material is bad material when you are a creative flower.

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