Lifestyle

    The best resources for regaining blogging motivation

    I’ve recently confessed my struggle with blogging, my lack of inspiration within the industry and overall, lack of motivation with my blog. I’m still really lacking in motivation and inspiration and unfortunately, I’ve got into one very lazy rut but I'm working on it. At the moment I’ve mostly escaped the guilt (mostly, not completely or I wouldn’t be writing these posts) that comes with lack of motivation. This comes down to the fact that for the last 6 months, my internship has become a much bigger priority than my blog so with a reduced amount of time to commit to my blog, met with a reduced amount of energy, I’ve much more readily made excuses as to why I haven't been putting in the effort with little niamhserena.co.uk. However, in two weeks time my internship comes to an end (where has the time gone?!) which means no more making excuses. Sadly, it’s not as easy as just flicking a switch and bam, you become a dedicated content machine. With the end of my internship looming and a promise to myself that I would give my blog the attention and commitment that it deserves and once had, I got thinking about the different resources I’ve turned to in the past when I need a little boost and thought maybe, just maybe, a few of you out there might find them helpful. I’ve broken them down into three sections - books, websites, and videos - all of which are things I definitely bang on about at one point or another on my social media.

    BOOKS

    Whether directly related to blogging or fashion or just motivational books in general, I find it so helpful reading other people’s stories about how they’ve made their career a success. At the start of the year I went through a phase where every book I read, one after another fell within this genre. Then I suffered a little bit of book burnout and felt a need to switch it up with a little fiction. While I love reading fiction and think it’s important to keep a little variety on the go, there’s a definite correlation between my levels of motivation and effort and my choice of non-fiction, career focused book. Personally, it feels a bit like when you filter the people you spend time with, only including those that build you up and encourage positivity within your life only in this case there’s the added bonus of boosting productivity. If you’re in the market for a few motivational books, these are the ones that I’ve found most helpful over the last few months.

    My Story - Jo Malone

    Man Repeller: Seeking love, finding overalls
    (while not exclusively about her career, she’s someone I admire so naturally, her writing inspires me)

    Crush It! Why Now is the time to cash in on your passion - Gary Vaynerchuk

    Lean In - Sheryl Sandberg

    Girl Code: Unlocking the secrets to Success, Sanity and Happiness for the Female Entrepreneur - Cara Alwill Leyba 

    Websites

    There’s probably nothing surprising about the fact that the websites that inspire me are mostly written by other bloggers. There’s no denying that the blogging industry is getting more and more saturated and a lot of people turn their noses up at blogging. The same people will most likely think I’m crazy for dreaming of making my blog a business one day. It’s easy to let those people get to you and affect your motivation but if we spent all of our time listening to them, we wouldn’t get anywhere. Every so often (usually on a Sunday morning with a cup of tea) I let myself get lost in the atmosphere of amazing blogs out there. Through blogging and my internships, I’ve become more aware of media sites that aren’t blogs nor mainstream sites but their quality of writing and creative voice brings enough content to spend your entire day devouring. Looking at those bloggers and writers out there who have successfully boosted their websites to the top fills me up with faith that it is possible, despite those that doubt the industry. The below websites are the ones that have gone from a Sunday scrolling session to refreshing daily, subscribing to newsletters and trusting to help dig me out of most creative ruts.

    Retro Flame

    Zanita

    Not Another Blonde

    The Every Girl 

    SheerLuxe

    Man Repeller

    The Coveteur

    My Domaine

    Videos

    We all need a pep talk every so often. Today in particular I was in desperate need of a few. As I checked through  my emails, I thanked myself for forwarding on the below video featured on My Domaine recently. It hit the nail on the head considering it’s entirely focused on making blogging your business, something I’ve been daydreaming about more and more frequently. Most of the videos embedded below are directly relevant to bloggers but the likes of Gary Vee, who I’m sure a lot of you are aware of, are great for giving you a little tough love career motivation, guaranteed to get you out of a rut regardless of your industry.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E9eOE_nrXFE&t=326s

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pIJKCpOkKY8

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qRj144Gd7EA&list=PLfA33-E9P7FBRJw28h5CApmMtNumCIHCp&index=2

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    Niamh ♥

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    Going It Alone And Embracing Independence

    I would say for the most part that I’m an introvert. I like my own space. I like to keep to myself in public situations. I usually end up being the quietest member of the group. Often I find myself craving time alone to ‘recharge’ after socialising. I like to keep my social circle small. And god forbid you’re able to get a timely reply should you try and contact me (potentially a little more to do with being disorganised...). Take these traits and judge them as you will but one thing I’m recognising more and more, is my desire to be fiercely independent, a desire that isn't exclusive to introverts, extroverts or ambiverts.

    There’s one side of me that didn’t think twice (until actually stepping on the plane and it was too late) about heading to Dubai for a month for the sake of an internship. Somewhere where the culture was completely different, where I didn’t know anyone bar my godmother and her family, to start a new internship in a field I hadn’t ventured into yet (even though I had been dreaming of it for years) - in hindsight, pretty independent. There’s also the side of me that gets my mum to check all of my emails, to approve many a decision and to help financially support me while I hop from internship to internship (thanks, mum). That side of me? Still grappling with the concept of independence.

    I had never really considered myself to be independent until last Christmas. We were playing with that little plastic fish that’s supposed to be able to predict your mood by lying in your hand. We all gave it a go and once said little fishy reached me, I was predicted to be independent. I remember my Mum snorting and saying “You got that right!”. Honestly, I thought she was being sarcastic. To this day I’m still unsure if she was being sarcastic or not (Mum, if you’re reading this, please feel free to clarify in the comments below. It would save me a lot of overthinking time.) But the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. In the last few years, while I still have a huge issue of constantly seeking the approval of others (insert eye roll), there’s been a lot of marching to the beat of my own drum. This blog for instance. Dropping out of university to follow a less conventional route. Interning in London. Living in Dubai. Moving to Dublin. Admittedly, a lot of these things came about by completely chancing my arm, not actually believing they would happen but they did and here I am.

    The moving around has obviously boosted my ability to be independent. I shop and cook for myself. I’ve discovered that actually, I really enjoy cooking. I do my own washing. I clean my own bathroom. I manage to get myself from A to B without too many disasters. With a busy housemate, I live alone a lot of the time. Now, you may be reading this thinking - “Niamh, you’re 21. You should be doing these things anyway.” And you know what, you’re 100% right and yes, 500 words is far too long an intro into a topic but if my rambling writing still surprises you at this point, you’ve got some catching up to do (I could do with the extra stats so please feel free to scroll through the archives. No, really. Do it.)

    As I sat and wrote last week’s blog post all about getting back into blogging and writing (link included to make the archive research easier for you) I noted that I was writing the post in Nandos. On my lunch break. By myself. Going back to the introvert thing, I find by the time lunch time comes around I’m exhausted by being surrounded by others within a busy office and in desperate need of some time alone to recharge the batteries. Most of the time I can’t even handle virtually spending time with people and turn to my book or writing rather than scrolling through social media. It means I spend most of my lunch breaks by myself unless of course it’s the designated day for a lunch date with the other interns, a lunch break I actually look forward to spending with others.

    Once again, I’m rambling.

    So, as I sat and wrote the post, head buried in my notebook, I looked around and suddenly questioned just how socially acceptable is was to be in Nando’s, alone, writing. If it was Costa, Starbuck’s or the library, I wouldn’t have questioned it for a second and wouldn’t be feeling the sudden wave of self-consciousness that I felt as I sat in my booth.

    Imogen of YouTube channel Imogenation recently put up a video about how she gained confidence. She talked about how comfortable she is within her own company and how she went from being so dependent on others, unable to be left in her own company to feeling comfortable enough in her own skin to do things like going to the cinema alone. Then as I was catching up on my snapchats this evening, Michaela O'Shaughnessy of Life of a Lady Bear was chatting about her plans after work to go to The Weeknd’s concert alone. On both of these occasions, I’ll admit to turning my nose up a little, thinking why on earth would these girls do that?! But the more I thought about it, the more I realised that these were my own insecurities and issues speaking. Insecurities and issues that I shouldn’t project on others that are comfortable doing those things alone. If there's a movie or concert you want to go to but have no one to go with or would just rather go alone, then why shouldn't you? It’s funny how I have no qualms whatsoever about taking my laptop, a book or a new notebook to a coffee shop by myself and settling in for the afternoon. No issues with eating lunch alone, going shopping alone, travelling alone but anything more ‘adventurous’ than that and I’m completely out of my comfort zone.

    The only reason my initial reaction to Michaela going to a concert alone and Imogen, to see a film alone is because I envy them. I envy their confidence in themselves to be able to do those things and while they’re only small things in life, someday I hope my independence levels match theirs and slowly but surely, we're getting there.

    Once again, over and out. Hope you enjoyed another little rambling insight into my daily thoughts.

    P.S I’m aware of the controversy and memes this dress caused when first released last year. It’s a guilty pleasure but I’m going to own it, thank you very much.

    Photos by Lucy

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    Niamh ♥

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    I MET MAN REPELLER'S LEANDRA MEDINE AND NOW WE'RE BEST FRIENDS! LOL JK...

    Did I realise that when I woke up in my cosy hotel bed on 11th April that that Tuesday in New York would be a game changer? Definitely not.

    If I had I would’ve chosen a better outfit, that’s for sure. I would have been wearing my sparkliest of shoes, brightest of red lipsticks and quirkiest of accessories. Instead I was wearing the infamously dirty (but very much loved) pink adidas gazelle trainers (day 4 of NYC venturing had got the better of my little feet), a boring old t-shirt and a very standard, very predictable, “I want to be comfortable” pair of black skinnies.

    Lesson one: Always be prepared. I learned the hard way that you never know who you might bump into. 

    Did I realise that as I walked around that corner, busy gawking at the film crew in the park that I was about to turn into a flustered fan-girling fool? Definitely not.

    If I had, I would have prepared something clever and witty to say. Something that would have led to an amazingly lengthy conversation about her amazing writing career, about my own aspiring writing career, about her INCREDIBLE ability to throw together the most random items of clothing to create something sent from the sartorial heavens, about how she’s my dream shopping partner - believe me, I could go on. There are so many things I’d like to talk to her about but did I use any of the above as an excuse to start a conversation with the one and only Leandra Medine? No, no I did not. Instead, ladies and gentlemen, I stood (at a distance) and stared in awe. I stopped in my tracks and just stood there, watching her like a weirdo on the street. I mean, yes I did sneak a little Instagram video of her but all that did was add to my status as weirdo on the street. Leandra, I’m sorry that I’m such an ignorant little social media creature.

    Lesson two, kids: Suck it up and say hi. You never know where it will get you. On that note though, use your common sense in the situation and judge the situ accordingly.

     

    Me rn

    A post shared by Leandra (Medine) Cohen (@leandramcohen) on

    Let’s take into account that this all happened almost two months ago. Almost two months ago I was living my best life in New York and I really wish I hadn't just reminded myself that that’s how long it’s been since the dreamiest of dreamy trips in my usually, not so dreamy life. In those two months the Leandra Medine/fan girl situation has only worsened. Ask me how many times I've replayed that moment in my head. Ask me how many different scenarios I’ve created in how differently it could have gone. Go on, dare ya. At this point I feel like I could write a book about it but that would probably be the tipping point into weirdo stalker land and I’m not a stalker, I swear. I just have an appreciation for Leandra’s work and style. Since the famous spotting moment, I’ve become even more addicted to Man Repeller than I already was… They offer a different kind of editorial. It’s all kept very real, as if you’re having a conversation with friends. There’s no judgement and no pretentious editorial attitude and mostly, a lot of honest writing. If you don’t refresh their feed at least 10 times a day, you should.

    Anyway, less of the kiss ass, more of the scene setting of how this fascination has grown (seriously, I’m struggling to find words that don’t make me sound like a stalker but I swear I’m not…). My main fashion loves in life have so far been Carrie Bradshaw (spot the cliche), Lauren Conrad (she was an editorial intern, I’m an editorial intern. It makes sense) and now, Leandra Medine. I’m sure these aren’t people Leandra would necessarily be thrilled to be compared to but what can you do, the fashionable mind respects who the fashionable mind wants to respect and I have justifications for each and every one of them. Having just read Leandra’s book, I can confirm that the Carrie Bradshaw comparison definitely isn’t her fave but we’re here now.

    I’m currently on the last few pages of Leandra’s book (Seeking Love, Finding Overalls) and I’m not overly sure what I’ll do once I finish it. Start sending fan mail? At this point I wouldn’t be surprised…

    Over and out. Day 2 of getting back out of the blogging rut = complete.

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    Niamh ♥

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    The Reality Of Writer's Block ft. Day To Night Dressing

    I promised myself that I would write today so here I am, sitting in Nando's on my lunch break writing. (Disclaimer: the intern life doesn't normally support lunch at Nando's but the hunger was real today and the cravings, even more so.)

    I had planned for this post to focus on the re-styling of what was in fact my 21st birthday dress paired with my very well loved, definitely well-worn and definitely ready for the bin, adidas gazelles - all in the name of day to night dressing. While parts of that post may make it through to the final cut, it's not looking likely and while I want you to keep reading, I don't want to waste anyone's precious time. If you came here for the fashion tips and shopping picks, scroll straight to the bottom. If you came here for a dose of my rambling thoughts, well I hope you're sitting comfortably, there's a few of them.

    It's incredibly frustrating when your hobby/passion/general path of thinking exists within a creative field. (It's also incredibly rewarding but sorry to disappoint, this just isn't one of those blog posts.) You have no idea where your inspiration and random thoughts might take you. You also have no idea when they might end. One minute you're walking home from work, podcast on, your head brimming with ideas and plans, convincing yourself that yes, of course you have the time and the drive to up your blog content to two posts a day while working full time at a magazine internship because you love your blog, this is your passion, you would do anything for your blog and one day you hope this might be your future. Think again, girly. That's not you. At least not today because tomorrow, the next day, the day after that and possibly the next few months, you'll be busy hopping on and off the rollercoaster of motivation and writer's block.

    A bit like with a romantic relationship, the fun is the first to go. The ideas stop. You run out of things to say to one another. Next, the effort. You start getting used to them not being around so much, less of your daily routine and if you're not careful, the motivation will disappear entirely. Right now, I think I'm somewhere in between the last two stages. I'm not in a position where I'm ready or willing to give up my blog and I don't think I ever will be but I'm also aware that I've lost sight of why I started writing on this website in the first place. I'm aware that it will take work to get it back on track and I'm aware that my effort, while it is improving, is still lacking. I love writing and I love my blog (though I may physically cringe at the word) so I'm willing to work on it and give it the love and attention it deserves until I get back to the routine of creating content as regularly as possible.

    This post wasn't intended to be a negative one. Nor was it intended to dishearten anyone who is on a high with their blog or creative passion at the moment. It was my attempt at getting back into writing by sitting down and letting my thoughts do all of the talking. When I'm being my most honest, that's when I feel my posts hold the most value to me. Not that this blog is all about me...well kind of...but how can I expect my writing to be in any way valuable to other people if I don't value it myself? I feel as though I got trapped in producing a certain kind of content that just wasn't me, wasn't bringing me enjoyment to write and started to feel more like a chore than anything else. Honesty is the best policy and I don't want to sit here and pretend that blogging is always this fantastic hobby that takes just posting a few pictures online. Any other blogger who reads this will know it's not the case and it's exactly why we get frustrated when we see people slating blogging. It takes hard work, it takes commitment and mostly, it takes patience.

    While I really hope that this post is me getting back into the swing of things, the reality is that that may not be the case but one step at a time, at least I finished and published this post and that's something.

     

    SHOP THE LOOK

    Photos by Lucy

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    Niamh ♥

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    My Most Worn Jewellery

    I wear the same 4 pieces of jewellery every day. On my left hand its my two little pandora gems, one bought as a present for me, from me last spring and the other is the matching stacking ring bought as a surprise gift from my boyfriend, topped off with a little wrist candy given to me as a gift from my Mum for my 21st. On my right we have a much newer member of the gang, another pandora ring that I bought with a gift voucher I had (wishing this blog post was as sponsored as it’s starting to sound…).

    My choice in jewellery every day mostly comes down to the fact that I’m a creature of habit. That and the fact that I get emotionally attached to things very easily and if I broke the habit now and stopped wearing any one of these pieces daily, I would feel like I was missing a limb.

    I was explaining to someone the other day about how many times I’ve caught myself being that friend that turns to the cheesy quotes as an answer to all problems. A personal favourite being “What’s meant for you won’t pass you by”  - one I repeatedly rely on as I desperately try to figure out the rollercoaster that is your twenties but that’s a story for another day. My point is that that sentimental approach is something that spills into my choice of jewellery.

    Admittedly, some of my jewellery is influenced by superstition. Any exam that I’ve ever sat starting from A-Levels, right through to my first year exams at university, I religiously wore my black Pandora charm bracelet to every single one (again, I swear this isn’t sponsored. Apparently I’m just a Pandora addict). While I knew that wearing that bracelet made no difference to my grade, I still wasn’t willing to take the risk and “jinx” my exams. I’d love to say that looking back now, that seems completely ridiculous but I know I would still do the same thing if I had to sit an exam now.

    There’s the lucky charms and then there’s the sentimental pieces. These are the ones I wear on those days where I need a little extra push or to feel closer to the person who gave it to me.

    One of my most treasured pieces of jewellery is my Grandma’s gorgeous ring. As a child I remember being so fascinated by the way the stone changed colour in the light. Every time we went to visit I used to insist that my Grandma showed me it and let me play with it. The ring was a gift to my Grandma from my Grandad for their anniversary decades ago and much to my complete surprise, when my 18th birthday came around she passed it on to me. It’s one of the most meaningful gifts that I’ve ever received and I know it’s something I’ll hold on to for the rest of my life. As time goes on, the ring holds more and more sentimental value to me especially since my Grandma lives in England and we don't see her as much as we would like. In the mean time I’ve got her ring and while it may seem silly to some, this ring has got me through some tough days.

    Next up is a bangle my Mum brought home for me from a trip. Remember what I was saying about the cheesy sayings? This is one of them. Being 21 and trying to figure this adult stuff out can be pretty overwhelming at times and it’s easy to feel like you’ve lost your way. Some days it feels like everything is falling down around you and prospects of a settled future seems impossible. It’s those days that I throw on this bangle. Everything always works out one way or another and all you need is a gentle reminder that everything will be ok. This bangle is my gentle reminder.

    Photos by Lucy

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    Niamh ♥

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