You Cannot Do It All. (No, really: You can’t)

8314704680_1c8faa4603_zIt’s the first week back to work for many of us and, perhaps, you’re already regretting the shiny list of goals and resolutions you made in that hazy, optimistic pause between the third and fourth glass of Baileys. There are many reasons resolutions often (always?) fall by the wayside, but if (like me) you’re determined to make 2015 an amazing, productive year, then you need to accept something right now – you cannot do it all. If there is one thing I’ve learned in my almost-38 years, it’s this: You cannot chase perfection in every area of your life at the same time. Also this: If my house is ‘visitor-ready’ clean, I’m not writing enough. Look at your list of goals again. You don’t have to cull it if you don’t want to, but it might be worth seeing if you really care about each and every one of them. Then, pick one thing off the list and throw all available time and energy at it until it’s done. Also, for the sake of balance, kick something OFF your list. Something that you already do during a normal week: Ironing is a good one to chuck (sadly, I’ve never ironed so this one doesn’t work for me). Watching television or playing video games is another possibility. Or, you could cut down on your gardening/cleaning/tidying/scrapbooking/socialising. I have a terrible tendency to try to do All The Things and my goal-list for the year is ambitious to say the least. Still, I’ve taken my own advice and have (regretfully) resigned from Novelicious to make room for a new project I have planned. It’s terrifying to turn down paid work (particularly work which I enjoy so much!), but that terror is going to push me to overcome the nerves I have over my new project – as well as freeing time and head-space in order to make it possible. At least, that’s my theory! So, how about you? What will you give up in 2015 in order to achieve your goals? [Image Credit: John Levanan, Lamp, typewriter and specs…]

2015: Dreaming Big, Setting Goals

ID-100298534Hello my lovelies!

I hope you are having a wonderful winter holiday.

In addition to eating chocolate and spending time with family, I’ve been chucking stuff out in preparation for the new year. There is something about the dead time between Christmas and January 1st which gets my ‘clear the decks’ head on and I’ve filled several bin bags.

I also love the chance to take stock of what I’ve achieved, to think about what I want to do next and – my favourite activity – set some goals!

Some of these are largely out of my control and, as such, fall into the ‘dream big’ category. I’m hoping, of course, that my latest book finds an amazing publishing home and that I have happy book deal news to tell you all soon.

And, if any passing film producer wants to snap up the rights to The Language of Spells or The Secrets of Ghosts, that would also be sweet!

However, in terms of stuff I can actually control…

My main goal for 2015 is to write a new novel but, after reading Joanna Penn’s Business For Authors and doing a lot of thinking during December, I have a few other goals to add to that:

Update this blog regularly. I didn’t do too badly this year, but I would like to consistently update once a week during 2015.

Overhaul my website. I’m moving to self-hosted and I also want to tweak the design.

Send out my first newsletter (and a couple more throughout the year).

Try another format for blogging/connecting with readers. I adore listening to podcasts and would really like to try making one of my own.

Write lots and lots. I’m stealing my friend Keris’s 2014 strategy and am aiming for a yearly total of 150,000 words (her total was much larger – hush now). This works out at 15,000 a month for ten months (giving myself two months off for holidays/fallow periods).

15,000 a month can be further broken down into 3750 per week or, 750 words each work day. That sounds pretty reasonable, but I shall update throughout the year to let you know whether it’s working.

So, how about you guys? Are you setting goals or making resolutions?

 

 

 

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]

 

Happy New Year!

ID-100224519Well, here we are… 2014!

2013 was amazing (a word I can no longer say without hearing the Horrible Histories version of Professor Brian Cox), and, at the risk of sounding greedy, I’d love more of the same in 2014.

As well as the highs (becoming a published novelist, connecting with lovely book reviewers and readers, becoming a bestseller – yay!), I was quite stressed out for a lot of last year.

This year, I’m hoping to be more organised and to have more faith in myself.

I also want to write more. Fiction just for myself/for fun, as well as contracted projects and freelance.

With that in mind, my goal for the year (I don’t make resolutions, as such, but I love a goal or two), is to write fiction every day.

I’m a great believer in the ‘little and often’ approach to getting things done. If you can build something into your daily routine and stick at it long enough, it becomes habitual (like brushing your teeth).

How about you? Whatever your plans are for the coming year, I hope you have a good one.

And, as always, thank you for reading.

[Image Credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.net]

Writing Challenge Check In: Week 3

red_typewriterHello, my lovelies. How was your week?

I hope you all managed to get lots of words written or a chunk of editing completed. Whatever goal you set yourself, I hope it helped you to get work done when you might not otherwise, and to appreciate your progress, no matter how small.

Speaking of small… I managed just under 3000 words. I really wanted this to be the week that I hit my ‘5000 word’ target, but it wasn’t to be. I have excuses, of course. I always have those.

I got stuck. I got ill. The kids were off school on Friday for a random in-service day.

I also have a bit of news. I will be, um, altering my goal for the remaining five weeks of the challenge. Purely to demonstrate the importance of remaining flexible while juggling different projects, of course. Ah-hem.

I heard back from my amazing editor on Friday. She’s read through draft two of the follow up to The Language of Spells and, as I suspected, it needs a fair amount of work. (Translation: A flamethrower would come in handy).

I’ve spent the weekend re-reading the book on my Kindle and marveling at just how wrong I can get things, and at the unbelievable inefficiency of my ‘process’. My brain seems to find it irritatingly necessary for me to write all the wrong words, before I can clearly see which are the right ones. Sigh.

So, my goal for this week is to rewrite the first third of the book.

How about you guys? Are you busy with your NaNoWriMo word counts? Editing away? I wish you luck!

Greetings and salutations, 2013!

shanna-murray-decals

Yes, it’s a week into the new year but this is my first proper day back at work. I’ve packed the kids off to school and I’m in my office (yay!) with a giant mug of tea and a head full of good intentions.

I adore making plans and setting goals but once I’d written out the things I want to achieve this year, I realised that they could be boiled down to just three things: Be Kind. Be Brave. Work Hard.

I’ve got various ideas to help me with the last one, including forcing myself to plan (a bit) when writing. Over the holiday I got around to reading Rachel Aaron’s 2K to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love in which she talks about the importance of knowing what you’re going to write before you write it and I’m determined to at least try her methods.

How about you? Any goals or resolutions?

[Image credit: Wall decals by Shanna Murray]