Posted by on February 27, 2014 | 0 comments

How I Got Smart

I wrote in my previous post about my journey of learning to be a writer. Today I want to share with you the course that helped to make it all happen for me. Take a look at the video below.     In 2011 I decided that I wanted to learn to write narrative nonfiction. I registered on the Random House Struik Nonfiction Story course, administered online by GetSmarter. The course is convened by prolific South African writer, Mike Nicol. Shoo, was I in for the ride of my life! Over 16 weeks I learned about the importance of research, the intricacies of dialogue, the difference between telling and showing, and a whole host of other techniques that taught me to write engaging narrative from the heart. At the end of the course I had written a nonfiction short story about my life as a doctor and my decision to leave clinical practice. I used part of this short story when I submitted my proposal for the City Press...

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Posted by on February 25, 2014 | 0 comments

Success Can Be Learned

I’ve always loved to read. When I was growing up I often had my head in a book, and the habit has stayed with me since. In my early twenties I started reading complex thrillers and intricate dramas, and I often wondered how the authors managed to get it right. What supernatural writing abilities enabled Stephen King to develop complex plots and intriguing characters? Where did Toni Morrison draw inspiration for her heart-wrenching dramas? I always assumed that these and other successful authors had some special skill that was completely out of my league. Then in 2010 I had an irresistible urge to write. I saw a pamphlet for a creative writing course and I decided to investigate. It only took a short time on the course provider’s website to shatter my illusions about writing. I realised that writing was just a process, with techniques and strategies that, if followed and practiced, would yield the desired results. Talk about a paradigm shift! I have since learned many techniques for...

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Posted by on February 17, 2014 | 4 comments

Discomfort Zone

I always think that when I dare to step out of my comfort zone the Universe will applaud my bravery and reward me by aligning circumstances in my favour. Alas, this time I was thrown a stinker! Let me explain. I’ve been a follower of online marketing superstar, Marie Forleo, for some time now and when she started promoting her acclaimed B-School programme I decided I would enrol. A quick look at my cashflow, however, told me it was unlikely to happen. So I was thrilled when she announced she’d be awarding a number of scholarships for this year’s course. Applicants were required to record and submit a 90 second video of themselves, a pitch of sorts. Shooting videos of myself and broadcasting them to the world has never been my thing, but I figured this would be a perfect opportunity to step up and challenge myself; the opportunity was just too good to pass up. So last Friday I got started, wrote my script, and proceeded to confront...

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Posted by on February 10, 2014 | 0 comments

Keeping it Real

My in-laws are in town and I’m noticing myself being on “best behaviour”. I’m faffing around making sure the children remember their please’s and thank you’s, and ensuring that our home is tidier than usual. Of course there is no harm in creating a good impression, but at what point does this behaviour become inauthentic? To what extent am I presenting a picture of my life that is not an honest reflection of who I really am and how I really live? It’s relatively easy to be “transformed” around other like-minded people, but it’s those people who are in our lives by birth or circumstance who pose the greatest challenge. Family members in particular tend to push the buttons we’d long forgotten we had, and often trigger the kinds of behaviours that we thought we’d left behind. There is a part of me that thinks: “What the heck, suck it up. They’ll be gone in three weeks.” That’s the lazy part, the fearful part of me that doesn’t want...

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Posted by on February 5, 2014 | 1 comment

Clearing the Clutter

“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” – William Morris We moved house this past weekend, and I was astounded by how much stuff there was! When we were packing up our old house, I marvelled at the amount of stuff we’d accumulated in just a few short years. We had to get rid of a lot of it – some we sold, others we recycled or gave away. Unfortunately there were also a number of items that we simply threw away. I devised a simple rule for determining what to get rid of: if I hadn’t used it in 6 months or if I’d even forgotten I had it, it needed to go. I was convinced we’d done a great job of decluttering our lives. But when the boxes in our new house, there was a whole lot of other stuff there that made me think – what on earth did we move with this for? Clearly...

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