People talk about “five-year plans”. Welcome to mine.
A blog about writing. A blog about mental health (sort of).
It’s 2018. I’m 37 and I’m starting a blog. What on earth am I doing? I should have started this 10 years ago, perhaps better still 15 years ago when youthful exuberance would have pushed me through the hardest days when now anxiety, stress and depression take over. It’s funny, now that I’m not as young I’m not so self-assured. My life has changed in so many ways. Now is the time to change it for good though, it’s time to make my life less ordinary.
It’s not 15 years ago though. I’m not 22 years old anymore. I’m approaching 40 and I’m either on the verge of a classic mid-life crisis or I’m at a mid-life renaissance. After two years of mental health difficulties (correction: to be honest with myself, it’s probably more like four years) the time has come to change it up; I’m setting out on a new path, a completely new direction. If I start to sail down this river now then I have the chance to live the next half of my life doing things that I want to do, not simply doing things that other people tell me I should be doing or having people chase me for some pointless report on a list of things that people haven’t done. Newsflash: nobody is going to remember that spreadsheet in ten years’ time.
At the start of this year, I made a resolution to simply “do more of the things I enjoy” which, at the time, simply meant going to the pub to watch the WWE Royal Rumble live with a mate. It was great; seriously. I took the following day off work. We hit the pub at 8pm and didn’t leave until 5am the next morning. We drank sensibly, paced ourselves, got slowly merry and spent the best part of five hours cheering and chanting whilst watching men threw men at men, as well as women throwing women at women. I went to Anfield to watch the Champions League final on giant screens (I’m a Liverpool season ticket holder), I wrote a few articles for a popular Liverpool fan site and I even entered the Endamol Shine Brightbulb internship completion (gutted, but I didn’t make the cut). Sadly, I’ve recently had more difficulties with anxiety and stress again though, which is the reason I’m now finally starting this blog.
A lot of my anxiety and stress is triggered by work. Anyone who has suffered, or is suffering, with the same things will know how crippling these feelings can be. They are utterly debilitating, leaving me panicked, unable to face the world, incapable of making a decision whilst instead simply slowly curling into a ball in a darkened, quiet corner of a room hidden away from all of the ‘noise’ that becomes far too overwhelming.
This blog isn’t about solely about mental health, I want to make that clear. I will often write about my mental health and I am now (thankfully) open to talking about my mental health with anyone who feels they can associate with what I describe. Overall though, this blog is about my plans to change my life so drastically that I move myself away from triggers such as office mansplainers (yes, even as a man I still experience mansplainers), office blaggers, office meetings, office hot air (from mouths, not air-con wars), office emails, office phone calls; you get the point.
So, I guess what I’m saying is “welcome to my five-year plan”. This is a blog about writing and my journey to (hopefully) make a living from writing. I am going to (as best possible) post once a week for the next five years. My hope is that at the end of five years I will have taken enough steps forward, away from the painfully monotonous day-to-day office lifestyle, that I will be able to make a living as a professional writer. The dream is screenplays, which will take time to craft and hone my skills; I’ll be going on writing courses, joining writing groups, consulting with friends with similar interests, hopefully making new friends with those interests too. I’m going to try to write as much as I can, about things that I like. I’m aiming to continue to contribute to football sites, but I also love films, TV and wrestling so there’s a bloody good chance I’ll write about those at some point as well. I’m also going to try writing some of my own anecdotes as separate articles on the blog, separate from my weekly piece. There have been so many things in my life so far that even I don’t quite believe happened when I look back. For example;
- I once spoke to Paul Daniels’ PA about him having a part in a script I was writing.
- I’ve been onstage at the MTV awards (naked).
- I was an extra in Brookside (I was also edited out of Brookside).
- I was meant to have drinks with Noel Gallagher once until some idiot threw a bottle at him on stage, so his security turned us down. Instead I stood outside in the pouring rain, watching through the window as a mate (who had been allowed in) simply wandered up to Noel, shook hands and sat down.
- Someone once sat next to me in the cinema, whilst wearing her pyjamas and offered me a share of her bag of cookies.
- Gaz Coombes from Supergrass once told me I had cool sideburns (FYI – they weren’t cool).
- I met John Peel who, whilst posing for a cheesy Glastonbury photo with me, said “I don’t smile for photos”.
I’ve dj’d as a warm-up act for Example and drank his rider. It was rum, it was delicious. He laughed. His manager didn’t.
There are so many more stories from my life and over five years I will try to share as many as I can; a lot of them form the inspiration for a book/radio series I’d like to write as well about the “nearly man of music” but that’s another entry for another time.
Each week I’ll post an update on what I’ve done to progress my plan. As I start this I’ve got no ‘grand plan’ or a set approach that I’m going to take. I have a rough idea in my head (learn, practice, learn, practice, learn, practice, rinse and repeat) and I’ve got a couple of things planned as a starting point but after that I’m going to be free-wheeling it, trying to make my own luck and create my own opportunities. I will be open to suggestions and support, I want to keep this as positive as possible and so any help and guidance anyone can provide along the way will be much appreciated. The internet, especially social media, is already awash with enough negativity that I don’t want to add to in on this blog. There’s no doubt I’m going to get down and frustrated at some points over the next five years, but that’s why I’m now reaching out for positive support and encouragement from anyone who happens to read this.
Thanks for reading x
My Life, Less Ordinary
What have I done this week?
- Started my own blog.
- Finished watching “Last Man on Earth” season 4 and am still laughing at Karl playing piano.
- Finally began reading ‘Your Writing Coach’ by Jurgen Wolff.
- Acknowledged that my mental health isn’t great, and I need a new long-term plan to manage it.
- Started researching mindfulness courses and silent retreats.
- A lot.
- Got a new, unfathomably big, iPhone 8+.
- Booked on to scriptwriting course through Scriptwriting North (actually this was a couple of weeks ago but it’s worth mentioning as it’s my first entry).
What will I be doing next week?
- Continuing to read ‘Your Writing Coach’ by Jurgen Wolff.
- Panic about what I will write in my second blog post only to eventually come up with something at the last minute.
- Brainstorm what other content, if any, I might write about on my blog.
- Make a shortlist of people to contact about how they got into writing scripts and screenplays, so I can ask for some guidance and help.
- Listening to the ‘Happy Place’ podcast by Fearne Cotton.
What is currently hindering me?
- Fear of failure.
- Crippling anxiety and stress.
- Lack of motivation.
- Inability to think clearly.
- Not getting enough exercise.
This weeks’ uplifting songs for when it all seems a bit too much.
- 8 Ball by Underworld
- Shine by Take That
- Bonehead’s Bank Holiday by Oasis
- Loud Places by Jamie xx
- Rasputin by Boney M