Sunday, 19 March 2017

Finding Your Purpose

Do you want to be more intentional? It's not easy trying to juggle everything, but if you can create good habits, you have a greater chance of being successful.

Define Priorities

Sit down and think about what you really enjoy doing,  Write a short list of the three things that are most important to you. In my experience people are only ever successful in things they really feel passionate about, so get your thinking cap on, and decide if that is writing, perhaps it's poetry, flash fiction, or writing a novel, in which case, stop putting all your energy into the other stuff.

Set a Schedule

Define what you are going to do with your time. Time is precious, so plan in advance how you will be spending it. A good habit to get into is to plan in the evening what you intend to do the next day. Make a simple plan, Don't overload yourself with a long list, keep it short, put it into practice and work through it with enthusiasm.

Don't give into your excuses about not having time to write. If you want to, you'll find the time. Be committed and follow through.


This week I intend to look at my novel synopsis and see if I'm on track with the rewrite.
Produce a piece of flash fiction and sub a piece of fiction. I'll also be listening an audio book, and catching up on podcasts. What's on your list?

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Stolen Memories

Usually, I'm upbeat and positive about things but the last week has been horrendous! This weeks post reflects my mood, and I make no apologies for trying to write it out of my system here on my blog. Feel free to skip this week.

Last Thursday, my daughter was either pick-pocketed, or she 'lost' her purse in Berlin airport, consequently, I ended up fetching her home when she got back into the UK, she had no ID, and no money. She was very distressed, and it took all weekend to begin the process of getting her sorted and back to Leeds University.

On Monday morning, I went to work, and all but passed out from the pressure and pain in my ear and sinuses. I went home unwell, ready to collapse, only to discover we'd been burgled. It was a shock.

The thieves had broken in by smashing through the kitchen window. The damage they have done is unreal, the glass shattered and large shards gouged my oak table, the place I sit and write, where my family and I share meals. It is the heart of our home. The boulder they threw went through the glass hit the closed kitchen door with force, smashing through it landed on my ceramic tiled floor doing more damage.

They went into every room in the house, pulled out every drawer and cupboard, stole cash, jewellery and my cameras amongst other things. Then they let themselves out of the front door. I have had to deal with it all...the Police, the SOCCO officer who came to dust for prints, although there weren't any as they wore gloves. And the insurance company.

The full impact of what has happened didn't sink in for a few days, but it has now and I feel utterly depressed. And vulnerable. I feel that this person, or people have stolen my memories. They took my jewellery box which contained precious photographs of me and my dad. He died young, when I was thirteen. My mother gave them to me, they can never be replaced. They stole my babies identification bracelets from when they were born, and much more besides. My engagement ring, eternity ring, jewellery my mother had given me, and other items. It has made me sad, and angry all at the same time.

None of this is helped by the fact that I'm ill again. I went to the GP next day, and have yet more antibiotics to swallow down, and now there is mention that I may have a nerve issue, which is why my jaw and teeth are so painful, and why the painkillers aren't working!

I'm totally and utterly fed up, and I know I should be relieved that I wasn't home when it happened, and that it could have been much worse. And I am grateful it isn't worse, but right now I'm out of sorts with the world. I need time to pick myself up and dust myself down.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Best Foot Forward

I can't believe it's March and we're into the third month of the year already. I always think of daffodils and spring lambs, lighter evenings and fresh air! It's time for an update.


I've blogged regularly during January and February, and enjoyed it. It's made me think about trying some non fiction writing now, rather than later on as I'd originally planned to do, when I set my goals back in January.

Flash fiction featured heavily over the past few months, and several 150 word pieces have been penned, which I'm looking to place in competitions. My novel hasn't seen much progress, I'm stalled, yet another mental block! It's hard to know what to do next and the only real solution is to keep going I suppose.

About ten days ago I swapped to a novel I started back in 2010, madness I know, as I should of carried on with the other.

#writngchat over on Twitter has been fun on Wednesday evenings over the last few months, and I've made some new friends. Feel free to join the conversation between 8pm - 9pm and don't forget to use the hashtag to keep up with the conversations.


Pilates, meditation and stretch classes have all been done, but nothing has been on a regular basis.

Other Stuff

I had a birthday last month! And went to London for the day. It was wet and cold and trying to snow, but I had a lovely day out, which included a train journey into the city, breakfast and watching a play at the Kings Head Theatre Pub, which is a fabulous venue, although they were always going to score high with me because when you ordered tea, it came out on a small china tray, in a china cup served with homemade cake! I didn't ask for any cake, it just arrived. It was delicious!

Mostly, I've been off colour the last few months, and I'm flipping fed up with it! So I'm really looking forward to good health in March.

For the month ahead I'm hopeful I'll get out and about a little more than I have over the last few months. It would be good to report on more walking and exercise, and more words of course.

Best foot forward then...

Let me know what you've done during the last few months, and what your plans are for this one?

Sunday, 26 February 2017

A Balanced Life

Finding a balanced life isn't easy, often these days many of us are running on empty no matter how hard we try to balance our lives. So much is expected of us, and we expect so much of ourselves too. Once upon a time you would go to work all day, come home afterwards do your chores, and even have time left over for writing.

Nowadays we wear 'busy' like a badge of honour, and it's no good for us. Lots of us are working too many hours. Checking emails  after hours, trying to fit box sets in before bedtime, and what ever happened to taking a rest? Finding balance in your life will make you happier, healthier, more focused, and more productive. How can we find the time to rest more?

Start Early

Do your most important work early in the day. Get your daily word count done. There'll be less distractions, and once you've done it you'll be guilt free for the rest of day, and able to get on with other things.

Walk More 

Not only does walking keep you fit, it relaxes the mind, allowing the subconscious to give you a fresh perspective on that chapter you've been struggling with, or that opening that isn't quite right. Make it a brisk one for maximum benefit.


Forget about stuff that requires four or five sessions a week at the gym, you haven't got time. However, a game of badminton once a week, or a pilates or yoga class is a good way of keeping body and soul fit. 

Express Yourself

Indulge in something you like doing, be that sketching, baking, or coarse fishing. Enjoy the pleasure of your hobbies, they provide detachment from the everyday mundane. Be nourished by them. Take time out and do something for you. 

Cat Nap

Never underestimate the power of a 20-minute nap, Allow your brain timeout to power down and recover focus. Impossible to do every day, but once or twice a week maybe? 

Reassess yourself on a weekly basis, set goals, but keep them simple,
and make sure you plan in time for yourself. Rest is underrated but very necessary for a balanced life. Making choices about what comes first may be tough, but you're worth it...

How do you find balance in your life? 

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Sleep Zone

A lot of writers, myself included are terrible sleepers. We don't get our quota of slumber. Some set their alarms and get up early to put down words, whilst others are still up at midnight scribbling away for hours. Lack of sleep isn't a new phenomena, but it seems to have become a plague.

Why Do We Need Sleep?

Sleep helps you feel your best, and if you get the recommended seven or eight hours, it allows you to wake up feeling refreshed and able to meet the demands of your day. You'll be better able to concentrate on that story idea, that scene you're writing, or that deadline.

Insufficient sleep has an affect on health over time, our immune and cardiovascular systems will feel the impact, and type 2 Diabetes has also been linked to not getting enough sleep. It's vital we get enough rest so we're able to perform well in our busy lives. Or perhaps that is the issue? Are we simply doing too much? Perhaps we need to give more priority to sleeping. I'm re-educating myself on the matter, and have put all my findings here.

  • Set a schedule for going to bed and getting up -  This regulates you body clock. 
  • Slow right down - The last hour before you go to bed should be your power down hour. Warm bath, listening to music, meditation etc
  • Temperature matters - Don't have your bedroom too hot - Open a window.
  • Stay warm - Hang on, that's a little contradictory, but the thing is you won't sleep if you're cold. So wear warm nightwear and socks too! 
  • Read before retiring - It's been proved that reading relaxes the mind, and helps you to drop off to sleep quicker. 
  • Exercise - Experts say the best time is between 4pm-7pm to aid sleep. 
  • Ban all screens an hour before bed - That's the TV, your mobile, your Ipad, and your laptop. I really struggle with this one. 
  • Caffeine - As we age we don't break caffeine down as well, it's much slower to metabolise, so it's more likely to stop us from sleeping.
  • Eat well during the day - Don't skip breakfast which regulates us, and eggs, chicken and fish give us essential amino acid. 
  • Spend a few minutes each night thinking about all the things you are grateful for, that happened in your day.  
We need sleep to feel healthy and be able to continue with our daily lives, it's something all of us should address as 'important' and should be moved up to the top of our 'to do' list. Getting your quota of sleep will help you to perform better.

Do you sleep well? Do you have any tips to share, if so, please share them in the comments.

Sunday, 12 February 2017


Do you keep a journal, or do you feel guilty about not keeping one? I recently read that writers fall into one of those two camps. Really? I had to stop and think about it for a moment. I'm not sure keeping a journal means the same thing to all of us, and I'm not sure about feeling guilty about not keeping one either.

Personally, I do keep a journal, but I don't write in it daily. When I started it four years ago, I wrote regularly every day, as a warm up session to 'proper' writing. I'd pen news about what had been happening in my life, about my family and and about the way I felt about things. I'd occasionally write about my writing too. How long I wrote for varied, but was anything between ten minutes and half an hour. Location was almost always from my bed upon waking.

Rarely have I read anything back, perhaps one or two pages. In my mind, I'm saving reading it for another day, sometime in the future. And do I feel guilty because I'm no longer adding entries to it? Not really, because I know I'll pick it up again. I've missed around eight months, and I don't really know why - but it doesn't bother me.

Journalling has many forms, there are writers who log and record everything they do on their novels. Recording their own feelings and anxieties at every step of the way.  Apparently, there is a journal you can buy that asks you a question on each page, and therefore sparks ideas for continuing the entry. I imagine this one would be quite fun to look back on in ten years time. With questions like, who has irritated you today?

There is also the poem style journal. Each day you write one sentence about your day. At the end of the week you rearrange all the sentences to sum up your week and create a poem. At the end of the year you will have a collection of poems about your life.

I'm sure there are many more quirky ones out there. Journalling is definitely a good way to express yourself, and it will help you to find your voice. How and when you do it, is entirely up to you.

Do you keep a journal?

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Queen of Clean or Queen of Clutter?

Keeping things clean and tidy isn't fun but it's vital to our well being. What does your writing space look like right now? Mine is a mess, and it's why I'm not in there writing this blog post. My space has become a dumping ground for everything and everyone. It's crept up on me, and we're in the middle of a massive decluttering exercise here too, which isn't helping matters, BUT, nor should it be an excuse. It's time to take control.

The Plan 

De-clutter - Take a bin bag and a box to your writing space. Fill the bag with rubbish, and the box with things for the charity shop, or stuff you want to pass on to other writers, such as old copies of magazines. If in doubt, throw it out. Once you've got rid of everything you don't need, tidy everything that is left. File it, shelve it, put everything in a suitable place.

Clean - Once de-cluttered, you'll be able to see the space you've got. It's time to get the rubber gloves on and start cleaning. Start at the top and work down to the bottom, dust over lampshades and any pictures, and run round with the vacuum.

Repair - If any DIY is required, write a list and get it organised.

Organise - Put up a board for pinning notes, receipts or motivational quotes. Buy a tray for paperwork, use a mug for pens, and put all those notebooks away in a drawer or buy some nice stackable boxes.

Now open a window and let in some fresh air, or light a scented candle if you prefer. Doesn't that look better, and doesn't it feel good.

What makes a good writing space for you  - Good light? A clear desk? Having all your reference books to hand? A comfortable chair?  Let me know what makes you happy.