In Lists on
March 19, 2017

52 Writing Prompts to Inspire Your Next Blog Post

Writing fatigue? You’re not alone. Here, I’ve gathered 52 writing prompts to inspire your future blog posts, personal essays and more.

 

Cheryl Strayed’s writing prompts (as featured in Tools of Titans)

Write about a time you realised you were mistaken.

Write about a lesson you learned the hard way.

Write about a time you were inappropriately dressed for the occasion.

Write about something you lost that you’ll never get back.

Write about a time when you knew you’d done the right thing.

Write about something you don’t remember.

Write about your darkest teacher.

Write about a memory of a physical injury.

Write about when you know when it was over.

Write about being loved.

Write about what you were really thinking.

Write about how you found your way back

Write about the kindness of strangers.

Write about why you could not do it.

Write about why you did.

And a few of my own…

Write about the woman who has had the greatest impact on your life.

Write about the man who has had the greatest impact on your life.

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In Essays on
March 12, 2017

Why Your Quarter-Life Crisis Is Actually a GREAT Thing

I had breakfast with a friend earlier.

As we sat and discussed our week over fresh mint tea, I could feel a confession brewing.

“I’m having a quarter-life crisis” she finally declared. “I’m a mess.”

I smiled. A quarter-life crisis. We all get them.

There’s my blogger friend who wonders if she should just get a full-time job. My copywriter friend who worries the corporate life is killing her creativity for good. My actress friend who wants to make art, but equally doesn’t want to starve to death. My high-flying lawyer friend who is already bored of making top bank…

The list goes on, and on, and on.

I’m no exception.

I mean, I certainly look like an adult (eye bags and all). And, as far as societal measures of “success” go, I’m right on track. I have a good job, a great relationship, a home I love and a side hustle I truly enjoy. #KillingIt, no?

But fulfilment. Fulfilment. The long game. THAT is what keeps me up at night.

“Am I in the right career? Am I happy in this career? Will I ever be happy in ANY career? I’m in my mid-twenties… aren’t I supposed to, you know, have it SORTED by now? I kind of want to go to Bali and live off the land. I also want to be “successful” and ride the corporate ladder. Wait… Do I only want to do that because society tells me to do that? What does successful even mean? DAMN IT.”

If you’re reading this, the chances are you’re familiar with your own kind of quarter-life crisis, too. Quarter-life crises happen to the best of us.

We complain about them. We feel defined by them. We wish we didn’t have to deal with them.

But what if your quarter-life crisis was, in fact, a good thing?

Hear me out…

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In Interviews on
March 8, 2017

Meet The Start-Up Founder Empowering Muslim Women

Nafisa Bakkar

I met Nafisa Bakkar at a networking event and was instantly impressed. Her company, Amaliah.com, was founded to address the difficulty Muslim women face when searching for clothes that are modest and fashionable. Now, having grown over the last 18 months, Amaliah is fast becoming a platform for the voices of Muslim women in over 85 countries.

For International Women’s Day, I spoke with Nafisa about her vision for Amaliah, the unglamorous side of start-up life and how she’s working hard to help give Muslim women a voice.


I’m so inspired by your story. What was the catalyst for starting Amaliah? And once you had the idea, how did you get started?

I realised that it was a genuine problem. It being Muslim women finding it hard to find clothes that are modest and fashionable. I’ve always wanted to empower others and I realised that fashion is a really strong vehicle to exert your own identity. It shouldn’t be a struggle for a Muslim woman to find clothes to wear.

Past this, I realised the Muslim woman’s voice is hugely unrepresented. We’ve since evolved into a platform that represents the many different voices in the Muslim community through our content contributors.

I started by learning as much as I could about startups. I read books, watched videos, spoke to people who had done it.

I thought it was very important to build some sort of foundation of knowledge. I then learnt to code so that I could go to the next level: building the first version.

I love how Amaliah is built upon the goal of empowering muslim women. Can you speak to the idea of reclaiming the muslim female voice and narrative? How do you plan on expanding upon that this year?

We plan on expanding to more countries with our contributors. Our community is from 85 different countries and I want to reflect that in our voices section.

For so many years, people have spoken on behalf of Muslim women whether it be in the media or even Muslim male scholars. It’s time that our own voices and stories were surfaced. It shouldn’t be a struggle to find the opinions and voice of a Muslim woman in the mainstream, but for now it is.

Ultimately, we want to send out the message that you can be who you are as Muslim women, hold the beliefs that you have, and be a person of purpose and impact in a society.

What is the biggest thing you’ve learnt about yourself since starting Amaliah? What have been the challenges and/or sacrifices?

First part: the toll starting a company takes on your mental health is a hard hit. I think the start-up world is VERY glamorised and people don’t speak enough about the fact that it’s bloody hard. The biggest challenge I’ve had is managing the toll it takes on your mental health. I think you sacrifice a few things — a big fat pay check for one, and also your relationships. But, at the same time, I remind myself that doing what I love is a luxury and it comes with the choice.

You’ve successfully raised seed funding and turned Amaliah into a monetised business. In doing so, how has your definition of ‘success’ changed?

I’m a real success skeptic. I always say don’t believe the hype. Raising money is not success, neither is being in Forbes or the Metro. But people seem to see these things as a sign of success.

Looking at your background, you seem to have always had entrepreneurial ambitions and ’thought big’. How have you managed to stay motivated and not be restricted by your own self-limitations?

I always say that where we are now is very much down to other people. I have constantly surrounded myself with people who help pick you up when you’re in those low moments or full of self doubt. I’ve also accepted that motivation dips. I think people think if you run your own company then that means you jump out of bed every day, raring to go.

There are periods when you won’t feel motivated and you’ll want to give up and that’s okay.

 


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In Essays on
March 5, 2017

How to Stop Holding Yourself Back. Forever.

How to stop holding yourself back

This post will help you identify, understand and change the self-sabotaging behaviours that are holding you back. In life, work, love + beyond. 

 

Note: I wrote this immediately after reading Jen Sincero’s incredible book, You Are A Badass. If you do one thing today, order that book and start over. Seriously, it will change your life. (No hyperbole required).


Ready? Let’s do this.

ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR SUBCONSCIOUS

It’s time to wake up.

When you were born, you were a blank canvas.

Over time, however, you started receiving messages from the people around you about the “way things are”.

You started filling up with a lifetime’s worth of beliefs, which mostly have nothing to do with who you are or what is even necessarily true.

Need some examples?

“People like us never make it. Making money is hard. It’s impossible to make money out of creativity. Entrepreneurship is only for rich kids. Security only comes with a 9–5 job.” etc. etc. etc.

The main source of these beliefs were your parents ft. society at large.

Your parents, without even realising it, passed on their beliefs, which they learnt from their parents and they learnt from their parents…

But none of these beliefs have anything to do with your reality or who YOU are. It’s time to wake up.

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In Interviews on
March 4, 2017

Cait Flanders on Life After a Two-Year Shopping Ban

Cait Flanders

Cait Flanders is one of my favourite people on the Internet. She started her blog as a way of documenting a journey that saw her pay off $30,000 in consumer debt and get rid of 75% of her material possessions. As if that wasn’t impressive enough, she then embarked on a two-year shopping ban (yes, you read that correctly!) and shared her learnings along the way.

 

But what I love most about Cait is that she’s not afraid to get candid on a topic so many of us shy away from: money. In this conversation, we discuss her upcoming memoir, The Year of Less, how inherited financial behaviours affect us all, and how her definition of what it means to be ‘wealthy’ has changed over the years.

 


 

I can’t wait to read your upcoming book, The Year of Less! What has the process of writing it taught you about yourself so far?

Oh my goodness, so many things! It demanded that I improve as a writer and editor, and required me to be even more vulnerable than I have been on my blog. I wrote about things I haven’t shared with some of my closest friends, and found myself wiping tears off my keyboard more than a few times. But honestly, the best thing it taught me is that I’m capable of completing a project of that size. I have a tendency to look at big projects, like a book, and feel like it’s a mountain I’m unable to climb – so I procrastinate, put it off and say things like “maybe one day”. Having a deadline forced me to work on it every day and ultimately cross the finish line. Now I know that I’m capable of completing any of the creative projects I dream up.

 

How has your definition of what it means to be ‘wealthy’ changed over time?

It’s funny, but when I think about the word wealthy, I do picture what the media shows us: people with lots of money, big houses, cars and maybe a boat. But because I didn’t grow up around anything that resembled that picture, that’s never what I’ve imagined would or could be in my future. Years ago, I probably would have said my personal definition of being wealthy would have meant having a net worth of $1 million – and for no real reason, except that’s a random number that used to get thrown around in the early 2000s. “Save for your future and you could retire a millionaire!”

Now, money in the bank is only a small portion of what it would mean for me to be wealthy. I can’t deny that having savings helps me feel more comfortable. But true wealth, in my eyes, is being in control of my time and having healthy family/friends to spend it with.

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In Essays on
March 2, 2017

Why I’m Glad My Online Business Failed

Online business

Here’s a secret that few know about me. When I was 19, I started a business. But here’s the punchline: it failed.

Let’s rewind…

I was young, bored in university and frustrated by how slowly my life seemed to be going. I wanted to do something, ANYTHING… and that anything turned into an online clothing business.

Of course, I had no e-commerce experience, but I knew I loved vintage style and making money. So I got some friends together, customised some clothes and shot some photos.

Although thinking about the figures is pretty painful, our first collection sold well, with little effort. With a profit margin of 50% or so, it didn’t seem like such a bad idea. What could go wrong?

I would search charity shops, flea markets and terribly photographed eBay listings for amazing clothes to style up, and then sell on for double the price. As I saw the orders come through, it became an obsession. “You mean I can sit here and turn £50 into £100 in minutes? WOW.” I thought.

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In Lists on
March 1, 2017

7 Apps to Help You Blog Smarter, Not Harder

Blogging | Blogging tips | Blogger | Blog | Social media | Success | Motivation | Productivity | Productivity tips | Creativity | Social |

Running a successful blog, with a day job and social life in tow, can be hard. But you know what helps? Apps.

Here, I’ve rounded up the apps that have made my blogging life faster, smarter and easier to manage. From apps that help you practice self-care on the go, to blog traffic-building apps you can utilise in seconds, I’ve got you covered.


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In Lists on
February 25, 2017

5 Productivity Tips That Will Actually Make You Happy

Because your productivity has nothing to do with your value as a human.

 

I’ve always been fascinated by productivity. Who doesn’t want to get more done in less time?


But, with the Internet screaming at you about hustling and getting sh*t done, I’ll be the first to admit that the ~pressure~ to be productive can be overwhelming at times. That’s why I’ve been trying to take a more holistic approach to productivity and guess what? It works!


Here are five productivity tips that will help get you get things done *and* feel happy in the process. Because being frustrated behind a screen is so 2016.

 


Send one email a day to someone new

I’m all about this rule. One email a day sounds totally achievable, right? Right! Because it absolutely is. The idea is simple: reaching out to people creates contacts and contacts create opportunities. I’m also a firm believer in the law of attraction — the energy you put out there manifests itself. So start having some fun in your inbox — just one email a day pays dividends.


Create a ‘done’ list

There’s a time and a place for to-do lists, sure. But allow me to introduce you to a done list. The concept is simple: every time you do something — anything — useful, add it to your done list. Each addition will give you a little endorphin hit and, once you finish up for the day, you’ll be able to see everything you’ve done, rather than everything you haven’t. It’s pretty impossible to feel unproductive when all of your hard work is staring back at you. Positivity, found.


Stop complaining about time


“I wish I had more time!” “I’m way too busy” “I don’t have time for that”. Sound familiar? I thought so. Your relationship with time is like any other — you need to work on it. Challenge yourself to a whole day without once complaining about time — mentally or verbally. You’ll be amazed at the results. When you stop fretting over time, it starts working in your favour. Reminder: Time is on your side.

Go offline after 25 minutes

I never spend more than 25 minutes online at any given time. Even if I’m just chilling at home, my morning will be 25 minutes on the Internet, 25 minutes reading or moving my body, repeat. Why? Well, because my best ideas appear while I’m AWAY from the screen. Plus, it’s better to be itching to get back to my blog than sat in front of a blank page. Consider it a creative take on the Pomodoro Technique that actually works. Take my word for it.


Compile a productivity playlist and sing it. Loud.

If I told you that the La La Land Soundtrack has brought both courage and creativity into my life, would you believe me? If you mentally associate certain songs with getting sh*t done, you’ll be surprised by how music can make you more productive. Pick a few of your favourite songs (the louder and more energetic the better), work to them religiously and, after a few days, enjoy the mental stimulus that follows. Singing in public spaces optional.



 

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In Essays on
February 24, 2017

Step Away from the Screen for a While. I Dare You.

Bianca Bass | Step away from the screen | Take a break | Wellbeing

Step away from the screen for a while. Your next best idea depends on it.

 

I recently took a break. Not a 25-minute break. A proper break. I stopped posting on my blog. I stepped away from my screens. I was horrifically slow at replying at emails (sorry). I even stopped replying to WhatsApp messages from friends (double sorry).

 

I removed myself from my own life and my own mind for a while.

 

The first few days were nothing much at all. At first, I felt low. Getting off the treadmill can be disorientating. Then, I felt lost and slightly melancholy. I reached for my phone almost obsessively and felt odd when I realised it was nowhere to be found. 

 

And you know what? My followers went down a little. My page views suffered a little. Not being able to post a tweet or update my Instagram felt plain wrong. 

 

But then.

 

Oh, but THEN.

 

2017-02-20-PHOTO-00038037

 

I started having blog post ideas in the shower again.

 

My fingernails started growing again (between you and I, I didn’t even realise I bit them…).

 

I read with no intention other than reading, for hours on end.

 

I tried mindful eating and my whole digestive system started working like a dream.

 

I stopped wearing makeup altogether and got to know my face without it for the first time in years.

 

I swam in the sea and, as the waves crashed on my skin and the sea salt rinsed my hair, I had an idea for a book. A book. I’m excited. 


Go out and leave your phone at home. Step away from the screen for a while. A proper while. I dare you. 

 


 

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In Interviews on
February 12, 2017

A Conversation with Poet, Blogger and Author Nicole Gulotta

These days, it’s rare that a blog strikes you as being refreshingly different. But Nicole Gulotta’s is exactly that. As a voracious reader and writer, Nicole’s popular blog, Eat This Poem, invites you to bring poems to life on the plate, infusing recipes with personal stories, thoughtful commentary and simple ingredients. Her blog is also home to a selection of city literary guides, which just so happen to be one of my favourite corners of the Internet.

In this conversation, we discuss writing rituals, how to stay creative while working full-time, and her upcoming book (!!!).

 


Can you share a little bit about yourself, what you do and why you do what you do?

I’m a writer, author, tea drinker, and home cook. At the moment, I work for a food startup in Los Angeles, the city I’ve called home for nearly a decade. Because I’m a content editor, writing is the core component of my day job, but I always have several creative projects of my own going on, too.

I write because I can’t not write. Writing found me early in life (I have memories of family vacations where I scribbled songs, poems, and our daily adventures into notebooks), and in high school I started writing poetry very seriously (so seriously, in fact, I went on to study it in graduate school). Now I write more about food, but regardless of subject, the impulse to write has always been there.

This past year I’ve started connecting with fellow writers to encourage them on their journey. I absolutely love this work.

The writing life is hard, but I believe the more we’re empowered to embrace our desire to write, combined with practical tools to navigate balancing work and creativity, the easier it becomes.

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