Tuesday 13 January 2015

2015: The Rise of the Cyber-Sisterhood

Sometimes I experience sentiments so powerfully fundamental  deep down in the core of my being, that there just doesn't seem to be sufficient words in the English language to truly convey the intensity of how it feels. 

Instead, I get images, visions almost.

It begins with a sensation deep in my chest, similar to that before you sneeze. 

I can see it. I can hear it. 

As this swelling bloom of purpose unfurls and dances through my nervous system, I squeeze my eyes shut and my clenched fists begin to tremble with the force of the vision that explodes into life against the walls of my mind. 

The sound is clearest of all. A deep cinematic vibrato, the sound of glaciers fragmenting, an avalanche, a tectonic shift. I can see this dark and looming rockface, a sheer and jagged wall of stone. And with this rumble and an almighty thunderous quaking, little cracking threads begin to chase all across this seemingly impenetrable and solidified mass, with the most unbelievably satisfying sound.

It splinters and jars apart.

And something stirs from within. 

Every time I discover a new writer, a new thinker - their words nourishing my ravenous mind - each time an unconventional but seriously important blog post goes viral, as more and more people begin to open their eyes and minds and think bigger, when people understand what I and others write and say it changes them... 

From deep down in those darkened crevices, something strives forth toward the surface. A thick, winding root surges from beneath and launches skyward, before stamping down and anchoring hard into the stone, fusing deep down into the rock.

Then with every tweet, ever new reader, new person joining the silver cause and realising their potential, more and more of these fiercely determined roots erupt and take anchor, becoming thicker and stronger with each addition. And along each of these limbs which scale and harness the fractured rock, pulses of electricity beat through every one, like the rainbow flickerings of a deep sea invertebrate.

We are here. We are alive. We are evolving.

Once this pulsating and unbreakable infrastructure is complete, from the depths of the deepest crevasse, the empire begins to rise. With a thunderous, heaving roar which ignites the very sky, this kingdom of fire rises up from the depths, forcing through this now crumbling rock, an army of change that comes from opened and enlightened minds, minds who have been taught to understand the universe from the instigators - pioneers unexpectedly born with knowledge and ideas in their heads, and the ability to breathe them into reality. 

THAT is what I feel every single passing day.

I feel this city is being born in my soul, and with each new discovery, passionate conversation or idea, I feel it expanding, the population growing. From the dark and gloom and all corners of the world, these lantern-bearing people are coming forward, seeking out one another and finding a home in the shared and ever-developing understanding that we are part of something big.

2014 was a monumental year for many. A truly pivotal year for blogging, bloggers and writers. So much happened and so much changed, but... that was just the dress rehearsal. 

The world is in transition and I've come to realise that the most important thing is to seek the like-minders, those people you find yourself almost magnetically drawn to, as if the universe if gently ushering you together for a reason. And perhaps the most beautiful thing about the internet and blogging is just how easy that becomes. 

So for my first post of 2015, a benchmark of how I want the rest of this year and the rest of my life to go, I bring to you the ultimate dream team. My personal inspiration collection, a powerful network of passionate and determined women who will not only change your life, but are going to change the world too. 

Women who have become those anchor points, the essential pillars that support this ever growing idea that perhaps we are more remarkable than we are lead to believe.

Vicky. Holly. Joelle. Lauryn. Amy. Emma. Shannon. Zoe, Laura.

Lots of Love Me | The Persephone Complex | Feb Girl | Lauryn's Notebook | Amy V. Norris |
 Girl Lost in the City | Awash With Wonder | Zoe London | Superlatively Rude 

Gone are the days of competition, jealousy, bitterness and spite, this new year, a new era of technological communication and human growth instead heralds in the next generation of boss ass bitch - feisty, determined and powerful women interested in building one another up to change the world, challenge society, create reality out of dreams and achieve frankly remarkable things.

Welcome to 2015; the rise of the cyber-sisterhood.

Can you describe yourself as a writer/blogger and describe the world of your blog?

As a person I'm loud, opinionated and a big lover of beauty products and I think this is conveyed in my writing and in my blog. As a writer and a person, I don't tend to hold back in my opinion. 

I often describe my blog as a neon fairytale. It's not a minimalist place, or even very organised; nor is it easy-reading, or pretty-pretty. It's a colourful, bloody, imperfect, twisted, jumbled universe, full of wonder and cynicism. I see (imagine?) profound meanings in the tiniest of occurrences, and I write passionately.

I am a hybrid writer/blogger. That basically means that I write about whatever is whirling around in my brain – no topic is off limit. I often write my posts in a sarcastic and comical way because that’s how I talk in real-life, I have no shame!

I write unpredictably, breathlessly and critically. Expect to find a jumble of a love of good words, short pieces of fiction, attempts at film photography, works on feminism, literature, personal philosophies and adolescence, the general conundrums of life, my ambles, my adventures, my struggles and my dreams.

I’m a literature student at King’s College who grew up on Evelyn Waugh novels, Harry Potter, and University Challenge, which informs a lot of how I write; pretentious nostalgic wonderings in overpriced leather-bound notebooks. I write mostly about academic ambition as a woman, and seeing the world through sentimental eyes. I realise that’s a sharp juxtaposition, but what you gon’ do?

It's always been about the words; a place that's all mine where I can write whatever I want, when I want. I also write for magazines so it's a completely different vibe, not having an editor means it's often a ramble or stream of consciousness rather than a perfectly structured piece, but that's the beauty of having your own blog. Despite not being a traditional beauty/fashion blogger I absolutely love being part of the blogging community which has definitely been a highlight of the year.

I write about the questions and ideas that I can’t get out of my brain, and I try to carve a space where people can engage in honest and thoughtful discussion. I am completely transparent about the contradictions that exist in me, and I invite everyone else to do the same. I also write about love a whole lot.

I'm still into the old school millennial-esque nature that blogging is a force to be reckoned with. It's opinions that can't be silenced and a platform for online freedom in words. I'm very aware that a lot in this world has been sold to corporate shilling and as a real human being I'll never let my words be the same. So my blog hopefully reflects that and brings together a fusion of lifestyle favourites from travelling, food, culture, clothes and beauty through my eyes to my honest and real opinions about life and advice.

L A U R A:
I tell stories about being a human. One night-stands and broken hearts, wobbly bellies and shaky confidence. Travel. Chance. Faith. Bravely putting one foot in front of the other, day after day after day. Doing our best. Because that’s all we can do, isn’t it?

What do you consider your greatest achievement as a blogger/writer in the past year/what has been your highlight?

V I C K Y:

Just growing as a writer and putting my name out there. I was just recently identified by the Huffington Post as one of the best student feminists of 2014 and it's such an honour to be considered alongside such intelligent and powerful women too!

H O L L Y: 
 In the last half of this year I began to devote myself to my blog in a way I never had before. It became a real priority, not just an emotional crutch and creative outlet. My views and stats doubled from what they had been before, and I began to get regular tweets and emails from people just to tell me how much I'd inspired them, which is truly the best feeling in the world. Just to be on that level is more than I could ever ask. 

A highlight for me was being invited on my first press trip to Palma, Mallorca with Thomson Airways in October. I was so humbled that they were interested in me even though I was not a travel blogger and I met one of my all-time favourite bloggers, Daisy. Also, attending both seasons at London Fashion Week is always a huge honour. Finally, my first full-page feature in a Scottish Lifestyle Magazine was a real highlight. It was the icing on top of a great year!

Evolution seems like a good umbrella term for the small victories: the small tug of pride in my chest when reading back over old posts; the stoic sense that descends when I put my thoughts into words; discovering new philosophies; burning woes about my impression on others other than myself; the pride of reading another’s work, and the subtle curiosity in writing my way through adolescence. I hope I continue to evolve. After all, evolution is what keeps us moving forwards.

A M Y:
I pretty much completely started again this year. Although I’d been writing this blog on-and-off since late 2012, it wasn’t really something I was particularly proud of or even something I was all that interested in. At the start of 2014, I cleared out the list of people I followed in favour of those who inspired me and started writing pieces that I was actually proud of. I quickly started to find likeminded bloggers and began to feel like I was part of a community I actually fit into without editing parts of myself.  Things like being featured in Smart Girls Guide and being interviewed by some of my favourite bloggers this year were also absolutely amazing for me, but actually writing something that I’m proud of takes the biscuit. 

Meeting other like-minded women has been the biggest highlight for me. The travel experiences have also been brilliant – for example I was invited to a VIP writers room in The Library Hotel in New York which was so inspiring. I also went on a trip to South Korea earlier this year, where I met other blogger/journalists who I'm still in touch with. Also being shortlisted for the young person’s recognition award in UK Blogger Awards - it’s always nice to feel like your hard work is recognised – even though I still genuinely believe I’d still be writing on my blog even if I had two readers!

S H A N N O N:
I became a way better writer this year. I started blogging in 2012, and I am just really proud of what writing at least once a week for (almost!) three years has done for my ability as a writer. I’ve still got a long way to go, but I’m excited for the journey! Blogging is the best because it invites other people in on the process of creation instead of just presenting the finished product. I also had the idea for The Year of Curiosity, which just went live this month and that I could not be more excited about.

For me probably the biggest achievement is actually reaching out to people and then getting to meet them in real life. I did a little meet up at Download Festival in the Summer and quite a few people came down to say hi - that kind of thing I think has to be seen as my biggest achievement. Whenever anyone stops me on the street, in the shop, on the tube, at a gig etc, that's them taking time out of their life to tell me i've been a part of theirs. That time is priceless, and means the absolute world and more to me.

This was the year the engagement of my blog really started to flourish. Tweets, Facebook comments, personal emails… I’ve felt a small but tight community form around me – I call it “the tribe” – and it’s made me braver. I don’t have comments on my posts because I blog about a very personal journey, and I don’t want to invite comment on that journey directly. But I’ve found that this year, especially, people have kindly shared my work more actively on social platforms, using the prompt of my words to then share their own opinion on the themes raised. And that makes me really, really, proud - that I can contribute to a wider dialogue about us all finding our happy.

What is your view on the idea that feminism has had a bit of a breakthrough in this past year?

Feminism has had one helluva year and I couldn't be prouder to identify as one. As someone that openly speaks about my views on feminism and gender equality, it's such a wonderful moment to get young women sharing their experiences with you and it's so refreshing to see men and women talking more openly and positively about gender equality. 

I am always happy when I see people talking about feminism. But I feel there is still a huge part of the general population who do not understand the word's definition, or who are totally unwilling to have a conversation about the ways in which women are still oppressed. I see a lot of dumbing-down and glossing-over the uncomfortable parts of feminism, in order to make it more palatable to men and the media.

 Feminism has had a massive digital revival, I believe to be ‘Fourth Wave’ and it has made a big social impact and I, for one welcome this with open arms and am not afraid to virtually voice my support of things such as gender equality (for the West and developing countries), breaking the glass ceiling, closing the gender-wage gap, a women’s choice to have safe abortions and also seeing more female scientists/leaders/inventors in traditionally male-dominated roles. If you’re still not sure about what feminism is really about, please have a watch of this inspiring video called ‘We Should All Be Feminists’ by Chimamanda Ngozi.

Yes, and no. We can all agree that the #heforshe campaign, spear-headed by Emma Watson in the latter part of the year let the limelight linger on this issue for longer than it has done in a while and feminist works of literature circulated in popularity, but, when I sit through lessons and talk to my friends in class, feminism doesn’t seem to be an issue held high in regards. Despite the small breakthroughs, identifying as a feminist still possesses a stigma: an iron-branded mark of disrepute. Why is that we continue to act complacently in the nature of inequality? 

A M Y:
 Despite Time Magazine’s suggestion that the word ‘feminist’ be banned, 2014 has been such an important year for gender equality. Whether it’s Emma Sulkowicz’s act of protest gaining worldwide support or Malala becoming the youngest ever recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, I think that people are starting to feel more comfortable looking deeper into the idea of feminism and questioning the misconception that it’s a load of complaining man-haters. Never before have we had so many high-profile figures matter-of-fact stating that they are a feminist, and I think that’s absolutely brilliant. 

E M M A:
 Any conversation about feminism is always a good thing and should always been encouraged and pushed further at all times. The phrase the media keep using is "feminism went mainstream in 2014" which made me laugh, makes it sound like it's having a Coldplay moment of suddenly being on Top of the Pops. But hey, it's a good thing. The media coverage of feminism this year has been brilliant, especially with the help of ace women like Lena Dunham, Roxane Gay, Emma Jane Unsworth, Caitlin Moran, Amy Poehler, Ariana Huffinton and Sophia Amoruso all releasing bad-ass #girlpower books this year which personally made me feel like a boss. I feel spoilt with brilliant female role models. 

I LOVE that it’s become such a huge part of the global conversation. Every person that becomes a little more aware of the need for gender equality moves us one inch closer to a better world. 

Z O E:
It's been a huge year for women from Malala to just the total domination of women in the music industry reigning supreme over our charts. I think sometimes the internet can be a pretty overwhelming world when it comes to just placing the word 'feminist' out there - what with people like Beyonce throwing it around in performances and reaching the mainstream culture to even begin. Tumblr runs riot with the idea of being feminist and it can be all a little too much. For me I think being a feminist is just ensuring equal rights for everybody, regardless of their background or gender. 

L A U R A:
It absolutely has. The biggest compliment I had this year was the observation that my blog is its own kind of feminism, because it’s the uncensored account of a female experience. For it to exist, she told me, this reader, for me to know that my story – as a woman – is worth telling, is a quiet but unstoppable contribution. I was floored by that. It was a very kind observation, and one I now make about many of us chronicling our own narratives, in all of our own, creative ways.

What do you think was the most significant moment in 2014 for the blogging world? What was the most significant moment of change for your writing/your blog?

One word, ZOELLA. She has opened the doors to the blogging world and this year has truly proved how important bloggers are to the media industry. I wrote a piece for the Independent on what a great role model she is, and regardless of whether you're a fan of hers or not, she's undoubtedly a fantastic businesswoman and has started her Zoella brand on a platform that is a relatively new phenomenon. As for my most significant change... probably realising people were listening to my voice, and I had a duty to my subscribers both old and new to create interesting and engaging content. 

I feel like the blogosphere has changed a lot this year. It feels so much bigger, more ambitious, and more competitive. Due to the rise and rise of certain bloggers/YouTubers, and the constant drama and scandals that surround them, I think a lot of people have reached saturation point.

It was a big moment for us all when some of the established bloggers made it onto the front cover of magazines and got loads more recognition for their work. I did many fist-pumps for them in support because they are real trailblazers and an inspiration to most bloggers. A moment of change for my writing was when I took a four-week break in the summer and came back with a fresh look on my writing and posts. Even though I was absent virtually for a long time, my readers stuck with me and that was a really kind thing to do.

The most significant moment of change in my writing was when I decided to write for myself rather than others. I finally understood that to be successful I didn’t need to slog on writing people-pleasing content, but could evolve this content into self-pleasing content instead. This was around the time that I realised that a niche is not a necessity, and that by dallying along in a mis-matched style of words and aesthetics, or whatever style you dally along in, you create your own niche. 

I’m not really clued up on the news in the ‘blogosphere’ as a whole, but I think 2014 has been a really significant year for the blogger-slash-writer; probably mainly down to the sense of community we’ve all started to build through great initiatives like @thoughtbloggers. Prior to this year, I wasn’t even really aware of anyone who wrote on their blog, rather than just using words as an aside to fashion photos and affiliate links.

My moment of blogging clarity, if you will, came pretty early on in the year. I was reminded about the beauty of journalling by some blog friends, and really started writing again. For so long, I was scared to write longer thought pieces because I’d been trained to think that it was self-indulgent rubbish, but pieces like Sonder, which I wrote mid-January, are still some of my favourites. 

I felt like 2014 was the year that a lot of bloggers thought “fuck it, I’m going to be really really honest.” People start blogging more about the blogging industry, being candid about what it's like, how to get into it, how to monetize, how to get published. I definitely had a moment of clarity this year when I asked myself "why am I so scared to publish this?" I think if you are saying something that’s important to you (and you’re not being a dick) you should put it out there with confidence, and shout about it. I think this was the year that we all got a bit more confident. Especially when we have people like Zoella out-doing the mainstream media in terms of numbers. The line is getting blurrier. We’re finally allowed to be proud of what we publish.

In writing my own blog this year, I discovered what an amazing community of encouraging, wildly creative, and interesting women make up the blogging world. It completely changed the way I approached blogging when I started building relationships with these women. Instead of writing in the hopes that random strangers would think I’m the best writer ever and drown me in book deals and compliments, I wanted to be helpful and interesting in the same way friends are. I also gave myself the freedom to write about the things that interest me and gave up on ever fitting into an easily advertised niche. 

When Zoella released her book that changed everything for bloggers/vloggers. That took regular joe's like me and you to being actual full on celebrities. The very first of their kind. Regarded for being online stars but now breaking through into pop culture. That's huge. These little things all change the perception of the word blogger for the average person and help to not only humanise us but place us all within powerful figures of the 21st century. I think blogging itself took a change right at the start of this year too, and 2014 was certainly the year of the advice blog.

L A U R A:
I don’t think there’s been one defining moment for blogging in 2014, but rather a series of smaller moments that have snowballed into a real shift in the expectations we have of the content we consume. We want it smart and personal, truthful and real. The whole “aspirational blogging” thing is on its way out: we don’t want to follow the people or brands who paint a picture of a “perfect” life, anymore. I think we’re all realising that perfection doesn’t exist, and we’re all the freer for it. Life is supposed to be messy and we’re starting to lust for that in the blogs we read.

What has been the biggest/most important learning curve/lesson you've learnt in the past year? 

Firstly to prioritise and ensure I don't take on too much. I've learnt that I have to turn jobs and writing opportunities down if it means that I can't fit it into my schedule. At the end of the day, I have a degree to finish and that's number one priority right now. Secondly, to continue to be the feisty, opinionated and confident woman my parents bought me up to be. For a while I caved into the pressures of society deeming confident, intelligent women as "bossy" and "stuck up", but then realised - that's who I am, and it's not a bad thing. 

I've had to grow up a lot in 2014, both within my blog and beyond it. Learning who you can trust is always difficult, and I'm definitely more cautious now than I was last year. I'm firmer about my creative space, boundaries, and priorities. Learning to say "no" has been a big learning curve for me. Also, learning how to write for myself, no matter who is reading, has been...well. A process.

I learnt that I simply cannot compare my Chapter 1 to someone’s Chapter 20. Blogging may seem like a 100 metre sprint to the finish line, paved with glittering fame, fortune and a million adoring fans for the writer in 1st place, but it’s not like that at all. If we are serious about online content creation, we need to nurture our craft, work on our talent and quit the comparison game - simple. I used to spend hours reading more established blogger’s blogs and comparing their writing style/fonts/comment numbers/images to mine. But in 2014, I just stopped caring. And as soon as I stopped caring and started working, my own blog finally came into its own.

When I first started out, I felt trapped by boundaries and product releases and writing about what was popular. Hey, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with beauty blogging, but for me, it made me post for the love of others over myself. 

And so I changed direction. Now, I write things because I want to write them, not because it will haul in views, comments, and followers. When you accept yourself and write for yourself, writing becomes more rewarding. I suppose if I had stuck with the beauty related side of blogging, I would have gained more 'opportunities'. But I didn’t want that. I wanted to create a place of self-documentation: a place to refer back to and measure my own growth as a person, throughout adolescence and adulthood. 

It literally does not matter what anyone thinks of you or what you do or what makes you happy. I used to be so caught up in how other people saw me that I was too scared to do anything lest I get into school on Monday morning to find everyone talking about me. But I stopped living my life for other people. I think that’s been really important for my writing; allowing me to be unapologetic in my ambition.

Another women’s success is not your failure. This is something I’ve learnt to believe with every inch of my being this year. A lot of my fellow bloggers are doing absolutely amazing things – this is not an opportunity to feel like you’ve failed, it’s exciting because it means we’re making waves as a community. Vice versa with my own successes I feel like I have a group of people around me who are genuinely happy to see me succeed. That's the type of people you should have around you. BUT it’s OK to admit jealousy occasionally with a bottle of wine. We're all human.

My two major lessons of the year were connected: 1.) I want roots, 2.) I’ve got to commit to my friendships in the same way I commit to my romantic relationship. I always thought I wanted to be a nomadic traveler, but after moving all over the world this year, I now know that I want a place to call a home and a part of the world that I’m committed to. It’s easier to be wilder in other areas of my life when I’m safe in that one. And when you stay in one place, you can commit to the people who live there and build a life with friends. The people you choose to love are SO important. 

I have learned how to work entirely for myself. Being a writer who jots down things about culture, opinion and then heartfelt advice, you often feel like you need someone to read over it, someone to check your opinions, to run it through a safe search.  I was so scared at first to publish anything that told a story of my life or gave advice to others, but after last years success in doing so I no longer feel scared. Writing makes me insanely happy - I learned that a lot in 2014.

Authenticity is the highest form of success there is. I’d rather read a moving, heart-felt post on a blog with no design work than the fanciest blog in all the land but that lacks in soul. Looking back over my most popular posts of 2014 I see that reflected, too.

What do you predict will change in the blogging world in 2015?

It's always hard because the blogging world is so unpredictable, but I think 2015 is going to see a few more already big bloggers, became absolute stars. Blogging is a big game changer in the media industry and I think other publications are sitting up and realising they have a whole new sector of the industry to contend with now. It's going to be exciting to see how the online world develops. 

I think we're going to see more blogging tribes, and sub-cultures. More and more people are looking for something outside the norm. As companies in every sphere and market cotton-on to the power of blogs and of online content creators to reach their target audience, blogging will become an ever more commercial enterprise. Of course, in reaction to that, sub-cultures of "retro bloggers" will arise. Having an ad-free space will become an attractive, Puritan novelty.

In 2015, traditional media will need bloggers and bloggers will need traditional media. However, the interesting thing is that blogger’s won't have to rely on traditional media to be successful anymore. Being an online content creator makes you part of a fast-paced industry and it’s so fresh and exciting.

Whether we like it or not, Bloggers are digital influencers and we cannot exploit our new-found popularity, no matter what amazing, life changing offers are thrown at us. Our reviews still need to be honest, our content still has to be fresh and our pictures still need to be a true representation of our appearance (e.g. no OTT Photoshopping). I hope my style of hybrid blogging will be more accepted too in 2015. We'll have to wait and see!

I feel an influx of new writers, diversity and a renewed sense of community. But I have no crystal ball. Instead, I would like to predict a greater spectrum of male bloggers, a greater emphasis on feminism and an evaporation of subtle cattiness and tenseness in regard to others' success.

With the big ghostwriter scandal of 2014, hopefully we’ll see some more transparency, and more investment in talent rather than name. Also hopefully less people becoming popular just because they’re a white boy with a floppy fringe, but we can’t have everything now. 

Oooh, that’s a tough one! I think deep down I truly believe the blogging world is going to get bigger in 2015. The network will continue to grow. Longer think-pieces instead of tweets. Bloggers who have big communities will become even stronger. There will be awesome new bloggers to welcome into the fold. More bloggers will make the decision of whether to commercialise their content. In a nutshell I think the blogging network is going to go from strength to strength. It’s exciting! 

I think that the personal essayist will become more popular. Right now, it’s mostly bloggers that can sell products that get most of the attention, but I (really, really) hope that more people will be willing to financially support writers that are contributing thoughtful and eloquent pieces to the world. That way bloggers won’t be limited by the need to work with corporate sponsors (although, not all of them are bad obviously) and can have more creative freedom. Blogs that offer something useful – even if it’s only better understanding of what it means to be human – will always have a place. 

Ahh I think the top tier blogs may shift in certain categories, because there#s always time for new young fresh bloggers to come in. I think we didn't see a lot of that in 2014 - some broke through but the biggest ones still remained. I also think that honesty is going to totally trump anything, you only need to log in to bloglovin' to see that the most read blogs at the moment are heartfelt opinion posts with honesty and clarity. Editorial features will only get bigger I'm afraid and the fashion blogging world will perhaps move a bit more into i-D/Dazed editorial territory. I really do think though that the advice blog will always reign supreme.

L A U R A:
I think there’s a real appetite for writing. Not sponsored content or photo-heavy editorial. Just words, lovingly crafted into the kind of sentences that you find yourself quoting to friends over a glass of wine. It doesn’t have to be personal – it just has to be true.


If you could make one blogging resolution for yourself for the coming year, what would it be?

To not give up... I've never wanted to make money out of my blog, and have never considered going full-time, but I still love writing my blog as a hobby and I want to keep going. Despite the fact that I am about to finish uni and go into the big bad world of work... I want to keep my little space on the Internet. 

To take a risk with every post. My content is pretty risky already, but I would love to push myself harder this year. I know I haven't gone anywhere near what I'm capable of, as I'm essentially a lazy person, and terrified of failure. But I would like to learn what I'm capable of in 2015.

Joelle, let go of that idiot in the tiny crevice of your mind who has been telling you that you're too young, too dark, too inexperienced, too opinionated and too feminine to chase your dreams. The quality of your content and hard work will determine your success, not your background or appearance.

To comment on more blogs, and to reply to every comment on my own. Comments are a wonderful specimen. They allow us an insight into our readers and to gage feedback –it makes blogging real. Real people are reading the work that we are producing – they are real people, with interests, likes and dislikes, peculiarities and unique quirks. We should appreciate everything and everyone, and if that is by way of a comment, then be it.

Press ‘publish’ more; whether it’s on a long impassioned feminist rant, or a quick note sharing how much a line of poetry has resonated with me. 

I have two very contradictory ones actually. On one hand my goal is to create something concrete out of my writing, whether that’s a novel, or just a printed journal of my favourite pieces of writing from my blog. I think it’s important to continue creating something you're proud of. But on the other hand, I think I also need to calm down a bit. 2014 was a workaholic year for me, and although I love it and will never stop blogging, I don’t think it’s healthy to be constantly plugged in. More offline time to think and have creative space is needed. In New York this year an old lady palm reader on the side of the road said she could :sense I’d lost a bit of my sparkle” and it really freaked me out (although I think she was trying to fleece me for money). 

I’m starting a new project, The Year of Curiosity, while continuing to write my personal blog, so one of my resolutions is to commit to both of those and not let either of them languish. And I want to become more proactive about connecting with other bloggers. 

It would be to blog with truth and honesty always, and to never forget myself. To love myself, never compare myself to other blogs, and to maintain a level of integrity that only I can. To blog every single day (twice!) like I promised, not for anyone else but for me, because I love coming up with new concepts and shooting pieces - twice a day keeps my brain active and stops me being lazy. Actually my biggest resolution is to nail that YouTube. I gotta get my game up. YouTube needs more music, more realness and more blue hair!

L A U R A:
I’ve been working on some really exciting projects that will hopefully build not only my personal brand, but also empower others to build theirs, too – whether they are writers or not. Watch this space! It’s time to start a self-love revolution. I’m so pumped.

Lastly, to share the love, what blogs/writers inspire you most that you recommend to others?

A few names include bloggers like Katie OldhamEmma Gannon and Olivia Purvis and writers like Sali HughesCaitlin Moran and Chloe Hamilton. But really I'm inspired by writers that continue putting blood, sweat and tears into their work despite other stuff they may have going on in their life because they just love what they do. 

Megan McMinn, who writes Briar Rose, is a big inspiration to me. Stephanie Brown from Faiiint. Emi Unicorn, from Little Black Book, was one of the first bloggers I ever knew about, way before I started TPC. I thought she had no idea who I was, but the other day I received a comment from her on my artwork page, saying how much I'd inspired her. I nearly cried.

Daisy from - I love her careers series and practically everything else she blogs about! Andreas from ‘The Style Dept.’ – not only is he an amazing fashion blogger, he’s a great musician and a respected celeb in his native Sweden at just 21. Natasha Ngen’s blog, ‘Girl In The Lens’ really means a lot to me too. She runs a fabulous blog with her partner and is also a successful Young Adult fiction author.

 Lore of The Sunday Blah – Lore is a brilliant and thoughtful writer who regularly publishes intriguing posts likened to articles on all kinds of thoughts and debates. Laura of Laura Louise – She writes about thoughts that I didn’t even know I possessed.  Nora of Hello You – Whimsical and nostalgic – full of beautiful photography (inc. film), kindred words and wonderful illustrations. Oh and lists. Must not forget the lists. Nabeela of Nabsticle – This blog is a place of reflection, creativity, thoughtfulness and inspiration.  Lauren Chloe Ash of R-AMBER – Lauren is a free thinker and wild spirit. Her blog posts are full of energy and curiosity and a thoughtful mind-set. Her works of fiction are also something to be excited about.

The writer behind the Charlotte’s Web blog recently left a comment on a post of mine, which inevitably lead to me spending approximately three hours reading her entire blog. I also love Lauren’s r-ambler, Jess’ way with words on Gingerly Pale, and I’m still in shock that Lauryn is only 15 considering how much of a remarkably talented writer she is! 

I love Chelsea Fagan’s writing at the Financial Diet (she used to write for Thought Catalog as well and is always on point with what I'm all thinking). I love Mara Wilson's writing and Heather Sundell. (American feminists are rocking it!) I’ve loved Dawn O’Porter’s writing since I was a teen (she was the first person who made me want to write and blog). I love Superlatively Rude written by Laura Jane Williams (cup of tea is vital when settling down to read her stuff). I also love Jessie Rosen’s blog

I am continually inspired by the words of RachelEsmeAlexandraSamanthaKristen and Hannah.

Aside from your lovely self who I have championed all last year and will continue to do so, blog wise I love Emma Gannon from Girl Lost In The City, Carrie Harwood of Wish Wish Wish and World of Wanderlust. Outside of blogging there's an amazing young girl called Hannah Rose-Ewens who after years and years is finally challenging the emo/rock/punk world of music through her platform at VICE, and although usually controversial and she personally comes under attack for it, the balls this girl has to write her own opinions is incredible and I commend her every single time. I also take a note of Hadley Freeman at the Guardian who is always spot on with her voice, the two ladies who run The Vagenda have it nailed when it comes to feminism and of course Sophie Heawood who is my general writing idol. 

L A U R A:
Oh my goodness – how long have you got? Meg Fee makes me exercise my mind and my heart, every single time. Megan Gilbride blogs about style in the context of real life, which not many other lifestyle writers manage. I Tweet about almost everything Jamie Varon writes. I love what Chelsea Fagan is promoting on The Financial Diet, and Ella Ceron’s tumblr. Rebecca Woolf. Hannah Brencher. Life Less Bullshit. The Middle Finger Project. Jenna Arak. Chelsea Talks Smack. So many great, female, strong and empowering voices out there!

I have never been more privileged than to be a part of a community, than when among this kind of company. I genuinely struggle to express the feeling I have in my gut about the way things are going to go this year, but with these kinds of inspirational and powerfully wise human beings around, then I'm sure as hell happy to be a part of it. 

Every person you meet is able to teach you a lesson, if you open your eyes and open your mind enough to see it. You never come across anyone by accident. 

And to me, this becomes truer everyday as I find myself insurmountably driven, motivated and inspired by these incredible humans and their incredible art.

With these women by my side, never have I ever felt more determined and able to step up to the plate in any given sceanrio and say 'I'm willing to be that person.'

Global humanity is now more connected than it ever has been in human history. This brings darkness, and this brings light. And I firmly believe it's time to #tbt back to some mid-ninties Spice Girls-esque GIRL POWER and show the world exactly what we are capable of. 

So spread the word, share the love, comment below with your favourite powerful thinkers/bloggers/writers, and let's start a motherfucking revolution.