Monday Motivation and a GoodReads Giveaway

Happy Monday, all!

I know that it’s the Spring Bank Holiday here in the UK, but it’s just a normal Monday for me… I’m in my garden office, typing away on the latest book and trying to remember this:

Image Credit: Life at Number Five
Image Credit: Life at Number Five

[Free PDF printable of the image is available here]

I love this quote and I think it’s really important.

When I’m struggling with a creative project, it’s so easy to forget… I look at a finished book such as The Language of Spells or In The Light of What We See and, even though I wrote the darn things, I forget how hard I found it.

When I’m working on something new and it’s all difficult and messy and uncertain, I have a tendency to think that I’ve ‘forgotten how to write’ or that ‘I shouldn’t be telling this story because it isn’t flowing/isn’t good’, forgetting that I felt EXACTLY THE SAME WAY about my previous books!

IntheLightofWhatWeSee-NEWAlso, if you haven’t got your hands on In The Light of What We See, yet (or would like a spare copy to use as a gift – books make wonderful presents!), why not enter this GoodReads giveaway?

It’s for a signed copy of In The Light of What We See, and I will happily sign it to a particular person/with the personal message of your choice (within reason!).

Anyway, I hope you are well, and thank you for visiting!


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]


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]


Monday Motivation: Treats

my typewriterWhile we may write because we love it, completing (and revising) a novel is Hard Work. Plus, as it’s a solo effort, you have to be your own ‘good boss’. I don’t know about you, but this is definitely an area I could improve…

I’m pretty good at setting my own deadlines and mini-goals and tracking progress, but there’s another productivity trick that I keep forgetting about – treats.

On a normal day, I make several deals with myself of the ‘if you finish this paragraph you can check your email’ variety, but that’s about the extent of it.

I know that my friend Keris goes one step further and promises herself small gifts for reaching writing goals and I think this is a great idea. I mean, we don’t have performance reviews or bonuses or after-work drinks… We need something, right?

Plus, I think it’s important to celebrate the small successes and to find joy in the process of creation as, really, that’s what constitutes the writing life. The publishing side is amazing (and I count my blessings every single day), but it’s more… Fraught.

So. I’d already told myself that I had until the end of May to revise my first draft and send it to my agent, but now I’m wondering what little gift/treat can I promise myself if I hit that deadline… Maybe a meal out (or tea and cake in a nice cafe)? A book from my wish-list?

How about you guys? Do you like the idea of treats or is it something you do already?






Monday Motivation: The Art of Procrastination

procrastinationOkay, I know that isn’t a promising title for a motivational post, but bear with me…

The Art of Procrastination: A Guide to Effective Dawdling, Lollygagging and Postponing (written by Stanford philosophy professor John Perry) is concise, witty and surprisingly useful.

It offers reassurance,  as well as stealth tactics that will help you to become a productive procrastinator. For example, if you put a non-urgent, but fairly daunting goal at the very top of your priority list, you are more likely to complete the smaller tasks beneath it in order to put off tackling it.

In all seriousness, this has made me re-think my habit of putting ‘write book’ at the top of my daily to-do list. Perhaps, I ought to move it further down…