AMA with Aura Radu - Dinica: After-hours Storyteller in search of Creativity

AuraRaduDinica
Aug 6, 2018

Welcome to my AMA!

My name is Aura, I live in Bucharest, Romania and I've recently started my after-hours quest for creativity via my blog, www.storiesandcolours.com.

I've always been passionate about storytelling and creative fields and I'm fortunate enough to get to tackle this in my job as a Learning Manager for one of the major IT companies.

Still, I felt the need for an additional outlet, a place where I can gather all the beautiful things I come across and share them with everybody who wants to read about my travels, books I enjoy, food and anything else that might make it into this space. My blog is also where I post my short fiction stories, small worlds that I like to create and release into the big wide world:)

I am, therefore, in a search for Creativity, without any map or fixed direction. I dive into storytelling and also play with photography (with the help of my husband, who creates the visuals for my blog and Instagram account) and I find that I really enjoy the journey.

If you would like to know where this journey has taken me so far and what I've encountered on the way, it would be my pleasure to answer your questions.

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Do you follow any set guidelines as far as the genres you like writing on are concerned or do you let your heart guide you when it comes to the direction the story goes?
Aug 8, 7:50AM EDT0

It totally depends on the idea that sparks the whole plot. 

It usually happens that I get an idea for a phrase, a combination of words and from there on, things just keep adding up. I haven't given too much thought to the genre I am heading towards, but it seems that until now all my stories have a bit of a dark twist:)

Aug 9, 7:41AM EDT0
How is the reading culture in Romania? What influence does a people's reading culture have on writers, especially when you are looking at marketing your stories locally?
Aug 8, 5:21AM EDT0

 

I studied Literature and then worked in Communication and Learning, therefore I was naturally always surrounded by people who are genuinely into reading and have a strong culture in this respect. I actually have a friend who published a book this year, so I can safely say that there is a well-established reading culture in Romania.

At the same time, I will have to admit that this is not generalized and it is still confined to a closed demographic. I don't have any statistics to back this up, but I'm pretty sure that is a rather small circle compared to overall population.

And this actually might link to your second question - the influence on writers. Through my friend's experience, I could see that the revenue you get when published is rather low, so I would say that you either need to be a very well-known writer to make a living as a writer in Romania or you need to break through to other markets.

 

Aug 9, 7:52AM EDT0
What is the force that drives you forward? What fuels your ambition?
Aug 7, 10:28PM EDT0

I would say that it's rather boring one, in the sense that you've probably heard this a thousand times before: I just needed to do something besides my everyday work, do something that tackles my creativity and breaks the work-home routine.

I'm quite a busy person and I sometimes jokingly complain that there are so many things to do (I actually like this...), but I just wanted something of a different kind and, to some extent, it is also a matter of proving to myself that I, at the end of the day, I am able to have a blog, to write on it and make it a product that I am proud of.

 

Aug 9, 7:58AM EDT0
Who is the target audience for your blog and why?
Aug 7, 9:49PM EDT0

I didn't break this down into very specific criteria, but it is a space for creative people, interested in beautiful things, passionate about books, travels, food, design... anything that brings beauty to everyday life.

"The why" is not very out of the box, I'm afraid: it's really because these are the things I am interested in and I guess I am looking to speak to like-minded people.

 

Aug 9, 8:02AM EDT0
What do you think is your greatest strength? On the reverse, can you identify a personal challenge (something you currently struggle with)?
Aug 7, 6:35PM EDT0

I am very persistent, somehow on the verge of being stubborn and this means that when I set my mind of achieving something, I most probably will. And the funny thing is that even if I'm not particulary gifted in that area (let's take exercising for example), I'll just get better at it simply because I decide that it something that I have to do. Period, no excuses.

A personal challenge would be that due to some chronic health issues, sometimes I totally lack the energy to do all the things that I want to. And that can be terribly frustrating.

Aug 9, 8:35AM EDT0
If you had a magic wand and could create the perfect job, what would it be?
Aug 7, 1:26PM EDT0

I think that job already exists, but I'm not fortunate enough to have it:)

If I could, I would want to be a professional traveller, to visit and document all the corners of the world, that would be so great. And if it's combine with food tasting, even better:)

Aug 9, 8:38AM EDT0
What makes your life happy and creative?
Aug 7, 8:05AM EDT0

I think this is a continuous pursuit, but - with the risk of being totally boring - the little things.

Like, for example, right now watching the new born puppies in the nearby courtyard. Reading books that I enjoy and which also inspire me for my own writing. Binge-watching TV series. Following creative people on Instagram and interacting with them. Eating a burger on weekends.

I could probably add to the list, but it would go on in a similar way. Still, I want to stress again that this is a pursuit and I actually try to find happiness in all these things in a conscious way, it doesn't always just happen by default.

 

Aug 9, 9:37AM EDT0
Habits, routine, morning rituals — What are the positive things you do daily that have had the most significant impact on your life and work?
Aug 6, 9:15PM EDT0

Lately I'm focusing a lot on exercising, even if I do not manage to do it daily. I find that it's true what they say, it really helps to boost your energy and changes your mood for the better.

Also, I absolutely love to have my morning coffee while browsing latest updates on publications, blogs and social media. It's something that it feels realy cozy and gives a good start for the day.

Aug 9, 10:32AM EDT0
What is the most important asset when being a creative blogger?
Aug 6, 8:18PM EDT0

Perisistance. Or, at least, this is the wonder ingredient for me.

It is quite easy to compare yourself with others and find that you are lacking in different areas (must confess that I also do that), but it's important to not let this affect you and keep trying. At the end of the day, I think creativity is as much about trying and failing as it is about inspiration. 

I think it can be trained or, in any case, I do hope that it is like that.

Aug 9, 10:36AM EDT0
Do you have any photography secrets you are willing to share?
Aug 6, 12:54PM EDT0
What is your favourite part of writing a post for your blog? What are your thinking about while writing the post?
Aug 6, 11:16AM EDT0
What future hopes and aspirations do you have for your blog?
Aug 6, 9:33AM EDT0

I want it to be that sort of blog to which people come back to check if new content has been added:)

This is what I do with the blogs that I love and I would be so humbled and grateful if my own would trigger such a reaction in people. 

To be able to do this, my focus is to create relevant content, that would appeal to readers and, at the end of the day, make them a bit happier. 

 

Aug 6, 10:10AM EDT0
Do you ever worry about growing followers on social media like Instagram or do you like to follow the normal pace while focusing on work more?
Aug 6, 7:01AM EDT0

I must confess that I do. "Worry" might be a stronger word than applicable, but I do pay attention to what is happening in terms of followers, even if it is by no means my primary trigger.

My focus is definitely on creating quality content and, while doing this, enjoying the ride and really getting to live this experience to the full.  Still, I do take a look at the user statistics on the blog or at my Instagram following and it's not the best feeling when I see that those are by no means skyrocketing:)

But I don't do this for numbers, I do want my content to be read and seen, but by real followers, who like what I put out there and want to engage with my blog and with me. 

So I focus on these interactions, I value every new follower who is genuinely interested and not spend too much thinking about my numbers going up or down. If what I do really speaks to people, they will surely come and say hello.

 

Aug 6, 7:28AM EDT0
If you could be any television or movie character, who would you be and why?
Aug 6, 5:51AM EDT0

At this moment, top of mind, that would be Lagertha from the Vikings series.

The reason why I am choosing her is because, leaving aside the specifics of the plot and the actual methods employed, she is a strong character, who gets things done and manages to dominate in a world and age ruled by men. 

I think she totally represents girl power, shows how strong women can be and, at the same time, she still has femininity and candor.

And has great hair, which is always a plus:)

Aug 6, 7:18AM EDT0
Can you describe a time when you had to think outside the box and how did you go about it? Did you enjoy the experience?
Aug 6, 12:09AM EDT0

Some time after starting my blog, the reality of having a full time job that I'm heavily invested into and being an after-hours blogger really struck. Meaning that, at that particular moment, I didn't have enough time to write new texts on the blog. And I was feeling quite down about it and feeling that I wasn't doing a very good job blogging.

But then I realized that, at the same time, I did have some content, but it wasn't text, it was visual content produced for Instagram. I don't have a great following, but I was using my Instagram account to promote texts on the blog and I've got more in more involved into refining the visuals and giving them life on their own. 

And that's when I saw that content can flow both ways. It was not just about using the Instagram to promote the blog, but I could also talk on the blog about the pictures and the creative process behind them. And that's how my Bits of Creativity series started. I only have 2 articles published (Bits of Creativity #1 and Bits of Creativity #2), but more are on the way.

And yes, I totally enjoyed this and it felt really good to find a solution that was just there, the only thing I needed to do was to literally look at the problem from another perspective.

Aug 6, 5:40AM EDT0
What activities do you enjoy doing to boost your self-confidence?
Aug 5, 5:49PM EDT0

When talking about self-confidence, I have to admit that I do have some work to do in these regards. So, it's nowhere near a won battle, but I find that the best way to tackle this is to just go out there and do whatever you need to do.

This might actually mean starting a blog. I really am an introvert and running a blog, where I publish opinions and pictures of me, is not the easiest thing to do. But it's a leap of faith and it gets easier while doing it.

One thing that I really enjoyed happened, in fact, yesterday, when I went to an Instameet and got to know some amazing people I was following on Instagram. We laughed, talked a lot, took pictures and, at the end, that really did boost my confidence. And I got a lot of great pictures to post:)

 

Aug 6, 5:18AM EDT0
On a daily basis, what things do you do to spark your creativity?
Aug 5, 1:34PM EDT0

I think that reading helps me the most in these regards, whether books or blog or different publications.

Also, following other content creators brings along a lot if ideas. I believe that, as long as you don't steal, people that you admire are a great source of inspiration.

From a different point of view, I exercise:) There are theories that physical activity boosts you brain activity (which I think it's actually scientifically proven, but I don't have handy a source to point to) and I do thinks that this helps me to relax and... and the ideas might just come:)

 

Aug 6, 5:11AM EDT0
What kind of photography gear do you use for your pictures? What software do you use for post-processing?
Aug 4, 2:10PM EDT0

My husband takes all the pictures, we're a team in the sense that I do come with ideas and approaches, but he is the one that actually pushes the button:)

We have a Canon EOS mirrorless camera and use different lenses and the editing is mostly done in Lightroom, sometime in Photoshop also, depending on the subject.

 

Aug 6, 5:04AM EDT0
Why do you feel you are struggling with creativity and what are some of the ideas you have tried to get out of your creative roadblock?
Aug 4, 6:26AM EDT0

I think that creativity is not something that just strikes out of thin air and you get a brilliant idea and, moreover, you actually know how to bring it to life. I believe that it's also a matter of practice and a matter of cultural and general knowledge load that comes into play. And in this regards we're lifetime learners.

Also, although everybody advises against it, I do compare myself to others, albeit not in a bitter way, but a rather admirative one.

There are so many great content creators and I enjoy following their work, but in all honesty I find myself thinking: "Oh, I couldn't do or think of that in a million years!"

So, I would say I’m struggling because I’m simply not at the level I want to be and I'm yet to practice and produce more content to really refine my skills. But it's a nice struggle and I enjoy the ride.

 

Aug 6, 5:01AM EDT0
What kinds of stories do you tell on your Blog?
Aug 3, 5:14AM EDT0

If you're referring to the short fiction stories, they are ghost stories at the moment:) I'm kidding, most of them just have a hint of mystery and might be steered a bit into this type of narrative.

Apart from this, I write stories about places - these are personal accounts of travels that I take, I write about creativity (or lack of it), I review books... So it's just a mixture of the things that interest me and make me happy and I do hope than anyone who reads the blog will feel the good vibes that I want to transmit. 

 

I was actually thinking that even the topics that are not fiction might be viewed as some kind of escapism – they are genuine stories and real places, but I do choose the talk on the blog about feel-good topics. Life is not made only of this type of things, but this is the direction in which I want to bring the blog. For the moment, at least.

 

Aug 6, 4:53AM EDT0
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