The accidental impact when influencers post on social media

In the last few days, in light of Elon Musk, urging people to delete their Facebook accounts, I have been contemplating all of my social media. Questioning why I am connected to so many different accounts. Being an artist and a writer in my spare time and a webmaster in my day job has led me to start up accounts on Instagram, Facebook, Dribble, Pinterest, Twitter, Tumblr, Behance, Google My Business, Youtube, Ello, and Patreon. Then there’s etsy, saatchi and saatchi and society 6, the list goes on. There are also other accounts amongst those, that I monitor for other businesses, as well as new ones I start up when I get a big idea.
Which leads me into the statement Elon Musk made on Twitter. I am perturbed by Elon’s off-handed statement. It riles me. Pushes up against the grain of my boring mundane life. How dare he, encourage people to give up a service, that has brought so much joy and connectedness to so many people? How can he, with one statement, attempt to bring down, one of the companies that have forged on with technology and seems to be run by genuinely nice people?
Realization dawned on me. Julius Caesar spoke with words, heralding the new age of imperialism and life as we know it. Stealing from every other culture imaginable to bring together an empire essentially ruled by men for over a thousand years. How did he do that? Through words.
Now, words can reach billions of people, in a split second. Perhaps, this is the reason why China’s government is limiting specific search engines, media’s and URLs from being available in the country. Words are power in the connected world. Knowledge seems to be irrelevant. People believe words, even when not based on any facts or no explanation is forthcoming.
Which brings us to the whole ’connected world’ issue, of posting and searching. Yesterday evening, I drew a picture of a flamingo surrounded by tropical plants. I found the base image I used for the drawing on Pinterest. It wasn’t even a search, the flamingo popped up on my feed, lighting up my eyes and I immediately started drawing the outline. The next step was taking several photographs of the process, with the finished drawing being posted on Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook.
This morning, when I turned on my laptop, mainly to charge my phone as my daughter took the charging plug with her to a friend’s place, the splash screen (are they even called that now!?) display was of a river system where certain birds went to breed. I will admit, the image had me intrigued, so I clicked on it. Bing rewarded me with a full search page of the lesser flamingo.

Lesser flamingo Bing search
Lesser flamingo Bing results, when clicking the splash display on my laptop.

Living in a connected world

Living in a ‘connected world’ can sometimes bring joy. At the same time, it can be irritating, when you search or research particular subjects for your day job and suddenly your feeds are full of technology, SEO, and analytics advertisements. Please search engines, differentiate between what I have to do every day to make ends meet with what I love to do. Suggestions would be; Art, art supplies, illustration techniques, cute animals, interesting plants, science fiction and fantasy writers, braiding hair, travel to warm locations, women kicking ass and men being delicious (life is short, let me enjoy a little bit).
Last night, as I finished binge-watching Vikings, this is a rare occurrence for me. Television is after all the drug of the nation. As I was drawing yet another fox with berries, I sat and pondered how I could manage all my media’s without resorting to paying someone to do it. In the past years, I have researched and implemented various social media ‘babysitting’ software for companies. They take a while to set-up and still require a worker to monitor them and upload images. Yes. Each social media requires a different size image, which they change on a regular basis.
Then there’s the dreaded algorithm update. Those two words, can effectively destroy all your hard work within every social media profile, not to mention affect SEO rankings. Google being the biggest culprit.
So much of my free time is spent on checking, uploading and interacting with my social media profiles, my writing and drawing time is being minimized. For a brain that was already always switched on before technology was placed in my hands so easily, it’s becoming so overloaded with information, I feel that enlightenment could be obtained through looking at a screen. My eyes light up with new knowledge, as I skip through articles, reading up on China’s eternal ‘President’ and how to make S’mores.
Information flows so quickly into my brain, little time is left for contemplation. Sometimes on my work commute, I sit and stare out the train windows, dreaming of the perfect world. But it is fleeting and more often than not, my thoughts turn to living in a cottage in the countryside. Somewhere quiet, without technology. A small garden filled with flowers outside, rooms full of books and limited connectivity to the internet.
Is it classic romanticism? Could I really live as described above, without knowledge readily available, without having to go down to the local library or bookstore to find out what year Julius Caesar was brutally killed on the steps of the forum? Or find the perfect image, illustrating a small mouse creeping through the grass, that I can build an illustration from? I imagine myself, crawling through the bushes, trying to find a mouse, only to have it run away at the first site of me. My memory is bad, I would need to freeze the mouse in time, to have any chance of capturing the pose.
I think not.

What am I to do?

Being obsessive in nature, I am contemplating how I deal with self-control, in regards to media. Recently, I gave up smoking. Again. It was relatively easy this time, with moving to an apartment on the third floor and not having a balcony. Snow was also steadily falling. In Spring.
The answer is a discipline of the self. We don’t need to delete all our social accounts. What we need to do, is regulate them somehow. By turning off all my alerts, I have effectively made it easy to check my accounts. Oh, I wonder if someone has messaged me about one of my artworks? Or, has that agent found me a publisher yet? Look at my phone, one hour later, you’ve checked all your media, interacted, answered questions, asked new questions, sent a few more query letters and found more social media channels to join.
Problems arise when you receive positive feedback and offers to purchase, right across all of your channels. Trying to decide which one to focus on, becomes harder. Having a full-time job, any creative work I do at this stage is in my spare time. In recent weeks, I have jumped back on the Ello train. They have fantastic competitions and exposure is guaranteed. Last night I received a deadline for one of the competitions. To design a star pattern poster. In three different sizes, ready for print. This would be no trouble if I thought I had any chance of winning. A niggling thought kept creeping in. The people running the competition, are effectively getting free designs and ideas. It would be a huge amount of work on my part to create the posters. I’m a perfectionist when it comes to my artworks and digital files.
One could argue the exposure is worth it and maybe there is a chance of winning the competition and claiming the prize money. But seriously, all the work I put into my social media profiles, the competitions and emails sent, should give me something in return. That’s when I realized, I’m spreading myself too thin. I have too many accounts, plus my own website and others I manage.

Self-promotion and the connected world

The connected world has made it easier for self-promotion and I’m sure there are people out there who swear by social media, who perhaps have time to manage the influx of data, algorithm changes or are downright exceptional at what they do. Or, they were in the right place at the right time.
Let the social media platforms be, Elon Musk and any other ‘influencers’ who decide to make sweeping statements, telling people to stop using a platform that has essentially changed the way we live our lives. Referring back to the flamingoes, no matter what you do or which social channel you use, online everything is being tracked, recorded and stored, even if they say it isn’t.
Restrictions are essentially in place without us being aware of it. The question is, can we curb our obsession with the digital world? A future, written in AI and data. No. We can not.

Stepping away and closing your eyes, just for an hour

What we can do, is step away. Turn it off for a while and come back recharged. Focus on one channel or, have enough self-control to limit time spent on social media and the web as a whole. Although, easier said than done. Whilst writing this, I have checked Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, Gmail (all four accounts, including my day job email, should not have done that!), Ello and Pinterest. The latter as it’s my favorite Social media. It’s all just pretty pictures and furry animals. No-one seems to be pushing an agenda, like on Instagram these days. Pinterest is all quotes, fluffy animals, fashion, and colors. A true inspiration, not interrupted by social selling so much. Or, maybe they got it right and the fact of the matter is, I don’t notice the advertisements or selling so much.
Are we all going to listen to one man? Albeit, he is a smart and future thinking businessman, nothing on Elon Musk as a person, but I must question his motives and reasoning, for making statements such as he did, in regards to Facebook. It has made me think less of him and I think that has irritated me more than the statement itself. All thought of the solar power plants disappeared from my mind, as the words Elon spoke, spilled across all my social feeds. Really? He really said that?

Wow. People actually listened?

The next part was all the people who actually listened to Elon Musk. Proudly proclaiming, they were deleting their Facebook accounts. In reality, if you delete your Facebook account, you pretty much need to delete all of your social accounts and use a search engine like Tor and the hidden wiki’s, unless you want to spend most of your time in the British Library, researching strange and little-known facts. And you might have to buy a cat, dog or bunny rabbit, to get your cuteness fix on a daily basis. Take photographs of the animals and food plates and paste them on your walls and office cubicle. So, damn old school.
Are you going to listen to Elon Musk’s statements about social media?  I’d much prefer he stuck to the technology his companies are inventing and leave the mindless alone in their stalking, blissfully unaware states. Soon, we’ll all have chips anyways, subliminally encouraging us to buy specific products and vote for certain political dictators. Let us have our moments of ignorance, before the next avalanche of change.

Scene outline and plot guide for writing novels

The way I write is like an avalanche. Presently, I have four novels in the process. Two of which, in my excitement, were sent to agents in the hope of getting them published. After many rejections, I pondered what I could do to improve my stories. Not having access to a ready stream of editors and draft reading guinea pigs, left me in a quandary.
Online, there are myriad resources for writers and between several different suggestions, I created my own scene outline and plot guide. This has helped me a great deal in figuring out various sections and explanations of the chapters. Some of the ways it aided in clarification and how you can use the template, are outlined below.


The parts explain where you are in the story. If you follow the timeless adage of a beginning, middle and an end, you can simply add beginning in the first column. If however you are writing something epic and are not following any one system, the possibilities are endless. You could, for example, add Season one or a certain character reverie as the part. I prefer to keep it simple, as my writing is chaotic and structure is something I have to work hard on.
For me, I add beginning and draw lines down with arrows to where the next part begins. You can use the word program for this or if you’re like me and like to print, you can easily draw it on by hand. The parts are directly related to the timeline and must be considered to ensure pacing is kept at a reasonable level and the reader doesn’t get too bored.

Timeline and Seasons

Along with the timeline, seasons help the writer pen down the parts of a novel in such a way that they can follow along and easily grasp where they are in the book. The timeline can be depicted in seasons, dates months, years and by character development, namely age. Cross-referencing the character list with a column dedicated to age and timelines is so very helpful when organizing the structure of a novel.
If you are like me, and write like a maniac, the words spilling on the page as if you’re in a trance, forgetting to eat and writing parts of your novels via self-addressed emails, on your way to your day job, figuring out structure is the catalyst in forming an easy to follow novel.
Winter is my favorite Season and I often find that through my writing, it is perpetually Winter! There’s something about the snow and the bleak landscape that I have fallen in love with. It has taken a lot of discipline, combined with a very detailed scene outline and plot guide to persuade myself to include Summer. There’s a great deal to learn about writing descriptions of the so-called warm season. I’m distastefully pushing my boundaries with that one.


This one seems a little obvious, but it is super important. Without the Chapter column, the other sections would not make sense. It can be labeled, romantic interlude, noting the characters involved, or introduction of, such and such a character. The chapters tie everything together and make it easy for you to move things around if you feel one chapter might better be placed before another. It could be that there’s a chapter describing a past event where the reader would gain a benefit in knowing the history, prior to delving into the character plot of a given scene.
A while back, I asked on a writers forum, for a critique of the first few chapters of my favorite novel so far. The feedback was valuable and the gentleman suggested I split up the first chapter and add the past tense paragraphs to the beginning. This, he suggested, would help with the flow and encourage the reader to continue. He also suggested I shorten my sentences. Sound advice, although sometimes difficult to master.
Chapters delineate sections in a novel. The original idea for the novel can be broken up into its parts by organizing it into well-defined chapters. Splitting up whole sections into chapters has helped me to define plot points and expand on the original idea of the section. Sometimes, the separated chapters, lead me to new ideas and help to elaborate a scene into a monumental turning point in the book.
Like I said, I write like a maniac, the words spilling onto the page. The trick to good writing is defining the verbal noise from the gems that sparkle, setting the readers emotions into a flurry. Defining chapters help with this a great deal.

Map example
Example of a map I’m working on in illustrator. I prefer my tattered old version, drawn on lined paper, but I can’t give my whole story away! So you get to see the ‘fancy’ digital version that’s not yet finished.

Region where the scene takes place

Cartography is a passion of mine and being a visual person, I create my own hand-drawn maps, occasionally creating a version in Adobe Illustrator, when time permits. The maps I draw, sit next to me at all times and I scribble down notes on them. I plot the paths the characters travel on with thin dotted lines, outline borders, forests, and cities.
Occasionally I’ll add notes to major events that have happened in a specific region. This is then added to the scene outline and plot guide. Maybe it’s overkill, but my writing style requires great discipline when it comes to structure. The characters become a part of me and that affection can lead to editorial errors. Not to mention, chaotic and jumpy scene shifts.
Outlining the region helps greatly with determining the weather and Seasonal changes throughout the novel. Especially if the world you have created, is not a mirror of the one we inhabit.

Reaction to a scene

Noting down the reaction to a scene helps with writing flow and ties parts of the novel together. This column has been instrumental in making sure sections of my novels are followed by the cause and effect rule. The Queen kills the King. Later we find out the consequences of her actions. She can’t just kill the King!
The reaction to a scene is also called a sequel. I find that confusing, but it should be noted, in case you’re used to that term. In this column, you can note down simple phrases like the Queen finds out the King was holding back an army of zombies when he was killed, the zombies moved towards her kingdom. Adding the chapter where the reaction takes place is also a good idea, for future reference.


This is my favorite part of writing. Determining the characters, their attributes, names and cultural sensibilities is pure bliss. I have pages scattered around my home, with lists, descriptions, possible cultural persuasions and ideas of how the characters intertwine with each other.
The character column, helps me keep track of everybody’s movements and makes sure, a character doesn’t show up in a city, when he is actually on the other side of the world. Unless of course, he has magical power’s, but that’s beside the point.
Defining which characters are in a particular scene, help elaborate on the plot events and add structure to their locations and where they will end up. The introduction of characters is equally important.

Introduction of characters

This might seem a bit over the top, but for me, it helps with the continuation of the plot. It allows me to define where a new character is coming into play and if it is adding one too many characters in a certain part of the book. I have a novel that’s six hundred pages, that I’m working on. Keeping track of the new characters is mind-boggling, to say the least.
Although I must admit, the aforementioned novel is my baby. Editing it turns into reading it. Sections are cut out and moved to other novels, characters names have been changed, new worlds created, children were born and then those sections were removed. The list is endless. The point I’m at now, with this particular novel, is back to the original draft. Now, I need to remove the sections I stole from this novel and write a new section, around twenty chapters of another novel I’m working on. The life of a writer!
Characters can be introduced when the setting changes and is defined.


Differing from the timeline and Season, the setting adds the descriptive language, backing up the scene and giving the reader a bird’s eye view of the situation. It might be Winter, but are they in the mountains? Or are they sweating in a swamp infested with crocodiles?
Describing cities is a great way to reel the reader in. The setting can denote a romantic, dreamy city, or a harsh and bitter town on the outskirts of a coal mine. This column in the scene outline and plot guide, ties in with the timeline, season and region, assisting with the major events and major plots, further along in the template.
The setting is one where I need to watch my sentence length. The flow of descriptive words falls like a hailstorm onto the page, hammering out any other finer points. Well, for me at least. I’m often more interested in the social interaction of the character’s and dialogue, forgetting to set the scene properly. This is something I’m working on. But I don’t like it.
One must be careful to balance the setting with the character interactions. Explaining the rolling hills of Ireland over the course of three pages could be detrimental to the timeline and bore the reader. I myself, don’t have to worry about overdoing it in this area.
Landscape description needs to descriptive enough for the reader to gain an exacting picture of the scene in their minds. Being careful not to over describe the scene setting, so the reader does not lose interest.
There are many ways to add detail to setting descriptions. One can easily write, they were surrounded by the desert. But what kind of desert? Is it a cold and windy Siberian desert? Or does the harsh winds of Arabia, lash hot sand across the dunes. Blinding the inhabitants and rendering them speechless? Is it a swamp? Or a mirror of the earth we live on?
Seasons also play a huge role in story writing and can instantly imbue a description of a landscape with only a few words.

Major events

Here, we get to the nitty-gritty of structural integrity. The scene might introduce a character and their history, but the events are the actions, signifying a turning point in the novel. The scene could read, the Queen kills the King and the Major Event in relation to that scene, could be and the Queen burnt the city to the ground.
I will admit, I need to work on the events. Defining them and elaborating on their significance and the relationships between the reaction to the scene. Often, I add too many events in one paragraph and it spirals out of control. This column helps me a great deal with structuring and pacing my writing.

Major plot

The scene and the major events lead us into the major plot. The Queen is introduced, she kills the King, zombies invade as the reaction and she burns the city down. The major plot description is the reasoning behind the Queens actions. The Why. That leads into what happens next.
In my writing, I have way too many major plots. The excitement of writing battle scenes gets smashed together with romantic twists that are all out of sync. I’m working on that! It’s not as much fun and editing can be tiresome or can be overlooked, by the excitement of the scene and me saying to myself, but it’s too good and intense to split up!
That’s when I put the novel away until I can be the mean editor, but not too mean, otherwise I end up cutting whole chapters in my haste. You have to find the writing editing balance. This guide is really helping me with editing and defining the major plots.
It takes time, but it’s relaxing, setting up the grids and feeling like you’re contributing to the publishing effort.
Keeping things in simple sentences helps to define the novel and relay any conflicts that are happening in the book.


Conflicts are important in a sense of the major plot and the scene. The conflict would be the zombies coming for the Queen’s kingdom after she killed the King. The conflict happens at the same time as the major plot and scene. The conflict column helps to define what else is happening in the chapter and whether I should move a conflict section into another chapter. Sometimes, the conflicts can be built upon and can become a reaction to a scene. The template makes it easy to move sections around with a simple cut and paste.
Personally, I like to print it out, then I scribble all over it. I’m trying to keep to the neat word version, but old habits die hard. There’s something about print that helps me to concentrate. Must be the physical touch of the paper.
Conflicts can lead to consequences of earlier events and having them side by side, makes it easy to cross-reference them with the reaction to a scene.

Consequences of earlier events

The consequences of earlier events are different to a reaction to a scene, in the sense that they can outline alternate event outcomes. Reaction and consequence in this situation are different. The reaction would be when the Queen killed the King and the zombies were let loose. The consequence would be what led the Queen to kill the Queen in the first place.
I have to push myself with this column. Grit my teeth as I inwardly say no, no, no, no, I don’t want to do it! Printing out the drafts helps me a great deal, as I can jot down notes, defining the structure and the chapter relationships. My mind reels on this part. I often wish I had a husband who was secretly an editing fanatic, without the harsh rebukes.
The Notes column is self-explanatory. In this column, I often jot down ideas and possible relationship action points. Sometimes, I’ll write, add a new chapter about such and such or define the chapter in relation to scene outline and consequences.
I hope the template I created, helps you with achieving that golden word, published. If you’d like me to review your work or need help with editing and defining plot, drop me a mail!
If you have questions about the template, you’re welcome to get in contact.
Happy writing.
Download your very own copy of the Scene and Plot Guide template

Fine artist with an obsession for painting: Adam Murray

Adam Murray is a fine art painter, based in Port Macquarie, Australia, but ships his femme fatale paintings worldwide.
Subject matter includes, the female form, oceanic scenes and whimsical brush strokes that flow like liquid candy across the canvas. Adam’s art works range from the erotic to the sublime and catch the viewer’s attention with the fine details of an eye of the contour of a still life form.
Not all of Adam’s paintings are of an erotic nature, with whales and typography also featuring amongst his body of works. If he is given a subject or commissioned to complete a specific piece of art, Adam rises to the challenge and quite often, surprises his benefactors with the surreal beauty of his paintings.
The process behind Adam’s work predominately revolves around the female form, where the thought of a painting begins, upon seeing a girl-shape on Instagram. Specifically, the way light falls or the pose captured on film. Photographers, magazines, and models are pursued in the hope of capturing an excited brush stroke that can be laid onto a canvas, the same as a lover is carried and put down onto a warm bed.
When a drawing is successful in the mind of the artist, the subject is pushed further, with more drawings created and a smaller painting is etched onto a canvas. If, after the small painting, Adam is still inspired, excited even, about how the work is progressing, another, often larger painting is created.
A lot of the base material inspiration, only go as far as one drawing, but some can become the focus for a week or longer, where the subject is fully explored, evolving from drawing to painting, in rapid succession.
For Adam, art is a constant necessity in his life, with his mind never really dissuading from the thought of making art and this need is similar to an addiction, where it needs to be carried out on a daily basis. The mystery of how thoughts come into the mind as solid pictures can sometimes waylay Adam from missing a spoken story, with visual stimulation exploding in his mind. A colour, shape or the typographic curve of a sign, can be the basis on which a painting is started, photographs and digital images are more like a filler and are used because models are hard to come by in the modern age.
Making mistakes along the way is all part of the adventure and have pushed Adam to learn and resolve to become better, new paths opening up as he practices his craft. Adam admits it’s not all smooth sailing, but likes the challenge of not being bored with the same subject matter, on a daily basis.
As, with the vast majority of artists, Adam worked odd jobs in between studying at art school, dreaming of the day, when he could practice his art on a full-time basis. Ten years later, he is living that reality, creating murals for restaurants and community buildings, alongside selling his paintings privately and at art fairs, often-times shipping worldwide.
Living a simple life, Adam is content to continue making art and being the determined person that he is, will continue to do so, no matter what fate throws at him, continuously evolving, and pushing his visual limits, beyond what you or I can see.
Adam’s work is available through his Facebook page, Instragram account or via direct message.

Feature artist: Photographer, David Gardiner

David is an Australian photographer and musician living in London.

David predominately shoots with a Canon EOSM10, an easy to manipulate camera, that contains more complex functions, for times when lighting or shutter speed needs to be adjusted on site. When editing, David utilises Canon Digital Professional 4 software.
There are many reasons why David picked up a camera, the main one being to push himself to do better, finding the challenge of the composition and subject and training the eye to see beyond the normal field of vision. Natural contrasts, the way the light hits a building or simple human interaction, raises the bar on David’s expectations, enlivening him when a good shot is captured. It can, on some occasions, be cause for beer consumption, when a brilliant frame is presented in front of him and captured on the screen.

Goals are key to pushing the creative boundaries

Working with the goal of posting one image a day on Instagram, David finds pushing himself to produce, enables the ability to find new and interesting viewpoints or realizing there was something quite magical, sitting right outside your door.
It still takes huge amounts of self-composure, to walk up to somebody and request their permission to photograph them or explain to upset strangers, why you are taking pictures near them, but David soldiers on and his calm and smiling personality soon dissuades people to his side of the coin.
He describes his photographic process, to be inspired by Martin Schoellar.

“Shoot often, shoot a lot, don’t spend time polishing turds.”

Martin Schoellar

Martin’s theory is to take a lot of photos, repeatedly, and doesn’t try to make the bad ones look good. Which in turn, saves a lot of editing hours. This philosophy works well for David, as he has only recently embarked on shooting full time and not taking yourself seriously is important when you’re just starting out. Learning through trial and error is a way forward and when taking photographs, the real lesson is in studying the final image. Is there light enough? Does the composition work? If it doesn’t, going back and checking the camera light settings, adjusting and making sure there is time spare for setup, prior to shooting, is paramount.

Photographic compositions and creating a sense of place

Sometimes, being in the right place at the right time can also snap you some good shots. David has a couple of ways to find places to shoot. Between jobs, when he has spare time, David picks a place he thinks is interesting and takes a trip, wandering around taking photographs. Alternatively, if he is traveling to a new place and hasn’t shot there before, David takes his camera along, recording the journey.
Keeping an open mind about a new place, helps David capture its essence, finding the best compositions are the ones stumbled upon and are not necessarily part of a pre-conceived ideal of the famous cathedral or historical monument. Finding your specific style can take a lifetime and it’s something David is still working on, as he works his way through the visual aperture of the photographic world. Photography for David could be somewhat like meditation in the respect of emptying the mind and not looking too much at what others in the field are doing.

What inspires the photographic process?

David seeks out the quirky and strange when taking photographs. This includes the angle and composition, where the photograph is taken.  Artistic freedom is held dearly to David and fastidious editing combined with over-thinking photographic shoots, are not high on the list in his process. In the future, this could change, but for now, David is happy where he is, in between landscape and perspective photography, with an emphasis on natural elements and historical buildings.

“The satisfaction of creating something beautiful that can be shared and given with appreciation is what keeps any artist going, encouraging them to improve, day by day, is what keeps me going.”

David Gardiner, Photographer

David is a multi-talented creative, also singing in a band and being good with statistics, besides fulfilling his passion taking photographs.

Contact details

You can contact David through his Instagram account for purchase inquiries.