Midsummer Motivation

I love this time of year when the hedgerows are full of poppies.
I love this time of year when the hedgerows are full of poppies.

Hello, hello! Hope you had a lovely weekend. After a relaxing family BBQ on Saturday, I had a fabulous burst of energy and spent Sunday doing Useful Things in the house and garden.

I also had the urge to reassess my goals for the year and to plan for the next few months and I realised, belatedly, that it had been the summer solstice on Saturday. My subconscious was clearly aware that the year had turned and was giving me a little nudge.

So, we’re officially into the second half of the year – how are you all doing with your goals for 2014?

I do think it’s useful to revisit plans and to examine habits to see what is working (and what isn’t).

For example, looking back over my diary, I can see that I’ve recorded many pitiful writing days with just 200 or 300 words, but that I hit my overall target (to finish the first draft of the new book). In other words, those small amounts really do add up. The key, for me, definitely lies in regularity, so I will continue with that and reassure myself on the bad days that some words are better than none.

I’ve also noticed that on the months in which I set concrete goals (such as write 20,000 words, blog once a week, edit three chapters), I was far more productive, so that’s another lesson to learn. Or, more accurately re-learn! I know these things but need to keep reminding myself of them… Argh!

So, for the rest of the year I’m going to maintain the good habits and try to build on them. I’d like to have far more ‘good writing days’ for example, so I need to look at what’s different on those days and try to engineer them.

I also need to set some concrete goals but I need to cogitate on those (and then break them down into monthly targets).

How about you, folks? Whether you plan your year out (like me!) or prefer to wing it, I’m wishing you all the best. Here’s to an excellent (and productive) six months!

[Image Credit: FreeDigitalPhotos]

 

More France! So pretty…

As promised, here are a few more pictures from my trip to France.

The Dordogne in June is very green – every hill is thickly wooded and the hedgerows bursting with plant life. The landscape is a sea of undulating slopes, dotted with picturesque cottages: It’s like the West Country on steroids.

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When you get close the main rivers, though, the Dordogne and the Vézère, you find deep gorges and mighty bridges, plus towering limestone cliffs, studded with castles of various ages and stages of ruination.

ruin_small

 

Around each corner you might find a medieval village full of fairy tale houses or a beautifully preserved château with turrets and landscaped gardens.

Castelnaud was a big hit with the family, due to its extensive collection of medieval weapons.
Castelnaud was a big hit with the family, due to its extensive collection of medieval weapons. Like them, it looks so sweet and innocent from the outside…

 

 

Perfect house is perfect... Sigh.
Perfect house is perfect… Sigh.
In a quiet corner of Sarlat.
In a quiet corner of Sarlat.

 

As always, I was captivated by the pretty windows and doors, but somehow I failed to take as many pictures of them as I usually do… However, I did manage to snap these pretty curved shutters:

Fairy tale window.
Fairy tale window, complete with ivy.

 

Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed my holiday snaps!

A Week In France

Hello! I’m back!

I can now reveal that my week of internet silence (offline for a whole seven days – gasp!) was spent in sunny France. In the Dordogne to be precise. To be even more precise, we stayed in a lovely cottage:

 

LaFermette2

 

It has beautiful gardens with a small river and a swimming pool, and is on the edge of a village which is set against a limestone cliff with buildings cut into the side of the rock. Very cool:

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And it was glorious. I didn’t write a single word and I feel rested and refreshed.

The food was, as you’d expect, delicious. After a week in France, my body composition is now: 50% bread, %30 cheese, 10% wine and 10% these little beauties…

Macarons. They taste EVEN BETTER than they look. And, yes, this is a stock photo. None of our macarons stayed around long enough to get photographed.
Macarons. They taste EVEN BETTER than they look. And, yes, this is a stock photo. None of our macarons stayed around long enough to get photographed.

 

Look out for a more picture-heavy post later in the week, but for now I must attend to my neglected WIP. Allons-y!

[Macaron Image Credit: FreeDigitalPhotos]

Monday Motivation: Just Fifteen Minutes

ID-10041972I’ve talked about this technique before, but it’s worth repeating. If there is something you don’t really want to do (tax return, cleaning the bathroom, writing your book), set a timer and tell yourself you’re just going to work on it for fifteen minutes.

This instantly removes some of pressure. I mean, you can do anything for fifteen tiny minutes!

You might think ‘there’s no point, what can I accomplish in such a short space of time?’, but you would be surprised.

Think about how much cleaning you get done just before some visitors arrive? Or how many emails you can power through when you know you’ve got to leave work in ten minutes to catch your train?

Plus, you might find that when the timer goes off, you’ve become so engrossed in the task that you just continue…

If you fancy trying the technique and you don’t have a stopwatch or a kitchen timer handy, there are loads online. I’m using this one right now to write this blog post.

[Image Credit: FreeDigitalPhotos]