Only the Essential Things Get Done

This weekend, I made a to do list, in an effort to be productive, and to make up for dropping the ball on the blog challenge on Thursday, Friday and yesterday. Instead of getting stuck into it yesterday, I met up with a friend and we visited Dyffryn Gardens, which is a beautiful National Trust house and gardens. We had an amazing time, and I took loads of photos which I’m putting on Instagram.

But it meant that I got nothing on my to do list done, except for the food shopping on the way home.

When I looked at my list this morning, all I could cross off was the essential things. Food and things that made money. Everything else? It hadn’t got done because it wasn’t essential. Up until Thursday last week, I had made writing a blog post every day an essential thing. Because I wanted to complete the challenge. But after missing a day, because I went to bed early, writing a blog post a day became a non-essential thing. So then it didn’t seem to matter if I missed Friday as well. And then also yesterday.

In order for things to get done – they must be essential. Now, I know you’re probably thinking, I do lots of things every day that aren’t essential – waste time on Facebook, watch pointless TV, spend hours chatting with friends, etcetera. Though that may be true, and these things are not essential, they also require no motivation or effort. Whereas the things that are non-essential on our to do list, often require a certain amount of motivation and effort to do. Unless we make them an essential thing, and therefore do them, whether we want to or not and whether we have the energy or not. Motivation is not needed.

Does any of this make any sense? One of the things on my to do list recently was getting the audiobook of The Earth Angel Training Academy done, and released. I had been making good progress, and sent the first few chapters to a friend who has not read the book, but loves audiobooks. On Friday, I received a message from her saying: “Can I have the second half of the book now please!!??” Which has now made the audiobook an essential thing I must do!

So have a look at your list. What is essential? What can be made essential? Because truly, only the essential things will get done.




Underwhelmed and Overwhelmed

I have so many blog posts I want to write. I have a huge list of books I want to write. I have craft projects I desperately want to dive into. I have online classes to create. I have books I want to read, movies I want to see, projects I want to work on, friends I want to visit, places I want to explore, and so much I want to discover.

It’s overwhelming. Just my to-do list alone is a mind map of madness. Just picking one thing and getting it done is difficult. The only reason I’m getting this blog post written is because it’s nearly midnight and I’m doing the 30 day blog challenge and I want to win it! But otherwise, choosing a task, then seeing it through, is overwhelming. What to choose first? I often ending up choosing the easy stuff, the fun stuff, but that doesn’t always really get me anywhere.

While visiting New York City this summer on my book tour, we saw a lot of awesome street art, but though this was one of the simplest ones, it struck a chord:


Right now, that is exactly where I am. As overwhelmed as I am with what I want to do, I am equally as underwhelmed with the motivation to do it! It’s not because I’m not doing things I love, because I am. It’s not because I don’t want to do these things, because I do. But sometimes, I just want to stay in bed and do absolutely nothing, because I haven’t got the oomph to give anything my all. But despite being an adult who could actually stay in bed all day and no one would tell me off or tell me I couldn’t, I instead get up and keep going, keep chipping away at the endless to-do list, and getting stuff done.

But sometimes, a period of non-action and non-doing is exactly what is needed. To retreat from the world, go within, and have a deep rest. Without feeling guilty or lazy!

I often wait until I am ill or injured before I allow myself to chill out and relax, and it’s quite ridiculous. In fact, I trapped a nerve in my back yesterday, and was in a lot of pain. Did I stop? Nope! It’s been better today, but incredibly sore, but I still haven’t stopped. Even with little motivation to get things done, I haven’t stopped.

I have no idea what the point of this blog post is, not really sure where I got the idea that every blog post had to have a point, actually. I guess I just wanted to say, if you feel overwhelmed by everything you need to do, and underwhelmed with the motivation to do it – you’re not alone. Cut yourself some slack. If you want to stay in bed for a day, go ahead and do it! Don’t wait until you’re hurting or ill to allow yourself to rest.

On that note, time to sleep.

The Power to be Extraordinary

Upon hearing the sad news of Stephen Sutton‘s passing (the amazing guy behind Stephen’s Story, who raised £3.2 million for the Teenage Cancer Trust) I started thinking about how it is that people who face the biggest challenges often are the ones who are the most determined to do amazing things. I can think of so many examples of people who have shone so brightly, creating beautiful music, amazing art, and having a massive impact, despite facing incredible difficulties, hardships and illness.

When you consider that these people may be experiencing a great deal of pain, their determination and motivation to make the best of what they have is so incredibly inspirational. I was blown away by the music of Zach Sobiech, who passed away last year of cancer. Along with his friends, he composed and wrote several songs that made me cry the first few times I heard them. I have no doubt that the lives of his friends and family, and all who have heard his music, will be better for his presence.


Another inspiring man, is an American called Art Berg. He was in a car accident in his 20s, and was left quadriplegic. He was told he would never do anything for himself again, and yet he went on to get married, have kids, build several successful businesses and become a motivational speaker. His book – The Impossible Just Takes a Little Longer is an amazing read.

I had the honour, a couple of years ago, to work for an amazing guy called Jason, who is just a little younger than me, but relies on carers for all his physical care. Despite this, he has more enthusiasm and passion for life, and for experiencing everything he can, than anyone I know. He loves creating things, he loves going to the cinema and theatre, taking fantastic photographs and his latest love is going on cruises! He is also able to use the internet through a single button, which helps him to connect with others. He taught me a lot about determination and perseverance, and also gratitude.

I also wrote about two other inspiring men, back in 2012.

All of these incredible stories, these incredible people, lived or are still living extraordinary lives. And though I believe that everyone has within them the power to be extraordinary, it would seem that it often needs to be triggered by something life-changing. But what if we could just choose to be extraordinary? Right now? For no reason other than it’s amazing to be alive right now, and we want to create beautiful music, beautiful art or make a massive impact and help people? (Or all three!)

I would like to think that it is possible. I know there are many people already doing so, living to the fullest, making the most of all the gifts and talents they possess, and putting 150% effort into everything they do. But there are too many of us who are living as though life is something that will continue forever, and as though we have plenty of time to do what we really want, there’s no need to do it now. But what if we lived as though every day were our last? What if we gave our all to every moment? How extraordinary would our lives be then?

We all have the power to be extraordinary. Now is the time to unleash that power. Because really, now is all we have.

Authors Are Humans Too

I know fellow book-lovers out there will understand what I mean when I say that favourite authors can become like gods to us, and that we can put them up on pedestals, elevated high above us ordinary human-folk. And when we reach out to tell them how much their words have touched us, how much their prose has changed our lives, we are shocked and quite excited when they respond, amazed that they deemed us worthy to reply to.

But honestly, authors are humans too. It was more unusual to get a reply years ago, when snail mail was the norm, because as most authors know, finding writing time can be tough as it is, but handwriting and sending replies to fanmail would eat into that time too much. These days, when you can reply in 140 characters on Twitter, or reply to a Facebook post or a short email quite quickly, the likelihood of getting a response has increased dramatically.


I remember writing to one of my favourite authors as a teenager, in the earlyish days of email, and was very excited to get a reply, even though the reply consisted of a single line. It felt like I had connected, though briefly, with a mythical creature that a mere mortal like me shouldn’t have been allowed to. In recent times, I have connected with several authors on Twitter, and have ended up having conversations with some of them, who have turned out to be genuinely awesome people.

Back in January I received a message on Goodreads from a fellow book-lover and book reviewer, asking for a copy of The Elphite, because she was keen to review it. I responded quite quickly and soon sent a copy of the book. The review she has written will soon be posted, along with an interview, and the brand new cover of The Elphite! She said that she was surprised and extremely excited that I had responded to her request, and sent her the copy, because after all, I was an author, and to get a response from such a mythical, magical creature was unexpected but exciting.

I’ve said it before, but I will repeat it here – I am just a human. I’m not even an incarnated Faerie or a Starperson. Just a mere mortal. And I love hearing from my readers and from potential readers. It is what keeps me writing, keeps me connecting, keeps me creating. So reach out, send messages, all are appreciated and cherished and often printed and stuck on my walls, to motivate me to publish more books.

Sending love out to everyone who has ever sent me messages, you are all amazing. xx


Still Planting Seeds…

After I wrote my post this week about sowing seeds, my partner found a TED talk about creating tiny habits, by BJ Fogg. I watched the talk and was laughing at the fact that he compared these tiny habits to planting tiny seeds. (Synchronicities huh?) You can see the talk here:

The interesting part about this talk was the part on motivation, and how tiny habits need very little motivation, which means that people are more likely to do them. And also the idea of using an existing habit as the trigger. One of the reasons I find implementing new habit hard is that I just don’t remember to do them, so this was a very interesting concept to me. Over the last couple of days since watching the video, I have implemented just a few new tiny habits, and so far, it seems to be working. I will see how it goes over the next week or so. In terms of exercise habits, I also like the idea of doing little and often, in that you are less likely to get nasty achy muscles that then puts you off of exercising again the next day.

The other part that I found interesting in the talk was that after doing one of these tiny habits, you celebrate it. So far in the last couple of days, that is the step I seem to forget, as it seems foreign to do a little dance singing ‘I’m awesome’ after merely planking for 10 seconds. But the celebration part is quite important, because it makes us feel like we’ve accomplished something, which means we will do it again, and maybe each time we do it, we expand it a little further. Soon, I will have a regular exercise routine, without even realising it, all just through adding these tiny habits into my daily life.

Are you going to start some tiny habits? If so, I would love to hear your ideas in the comments below 🙂

Still in Need of Motivation


Back on the 6th of January, I wrote a post about keeping the fires burning, and how I was going to use Seinfeld’s method to write every day. Now that the month is over, I thought I would post a photo showing my progress, and in all honesty, I find it a little depressing. I mean, I’m a writer, yet I only managed to write on 6 days out of the month. (The red crosses mean writing, the green crosses mean exercise)

So does this mean this method doesn’t work for me? Well, not necessarily. I think perhaps if I managed to get a few more crosses in a row I would be less likely to want to break the chain. But it does feel like my usual methods to motivate myself to write aren’t working anymore.

Now you may be reading this and thinking – ‘Well perhaps you shouldn’t be a writer then’, and I wouldn’t blame you, to be honest. I have questioned my choice to write books many times, even though deep down, I have always known that it wasn’t really a choice. I am a writer. There is no way out of it. But that doesn’t mean that it’s always easy.

I will continue to cross off the days that I write (and exercise), because it is good to have a visual reminder of what I have achieved each month. And I hope that by the end of February, I will have created a longer chain. I will post a photo in 27 days!

And if I find any other methods for motivating myself that work, I will let you know what they are.

(Just to clarify, the only writing I am counting as part of my chain-making is writing my new novel. I don’t count any other writing towards this goal.)

Keep the Fire Burning


Gryffindor Common Room

(The above photo is not of my house, but of the Gryffindor Common Room, taken at the Making of Harry Potter Studios in London. I did have a photo of our fire, but this one looked so much cooler!)

I live in a house where in the winter, our heating and hot water comes from a wood-burning stove. To keep the house warm and the showers hot, it takes a consistent daily effort to light the fire and keep it going throughout the day. And if you can light the fire in the morning with embers from the previous nights’ fire, it takes much less effort to keep it going. If  decided one day that I couldn’t be bothered to light the fire, the house would soon grow really cold. After a few days, there would only be cold showers available and a whole lot of shivering. During really cold winters, it would take three days to properly warm up the house after getting the fire going again.

So what does this have to do with anything? Well, I realised yesterday that writing a book is very similar to keeping the house warm. When in the middle of a novel, if I write something every day, I stay in the flow of the story, I can remember what the characters are up to, and each day I might only need to re-read a few lines to re-orientate myself and keep going. The story then remains consistent, and I can get a novel done in a month. But when there are long periods of time between writing, days, weeks, sometimes even months, the story grows cold. I then have to re-read everything, try to remember what was going on and it may take a few days to pick up the thread and continue the story in a way I’m happy with.

So if I know this, why don’t I write every day? After all, all the great writers did. They had a routine that they stuck to, and they would make writing the most important task on their daily agenda. Truth is, I don’t really know why I don’t write every day. When I wrote my first novel, The Earth Angel Training Academy, it was easy to write every day. Of course, I wasn’t working or in a relationship then, so I had no other major distractions. But also, there were no expectations. No one knew who I was, no one had read my work (other than a few English teachers, of course) so I was free to create without worry. Now, with readers waiting for my next published work, there’s a little more pressure. Some people are motivated by this kind of pressure, but as a writer who never knows if her writing is any good until the first person reads the manuscript, it’s more nerve-wracking than motivating!

But perhaps these are just excuses, or self-sabotage. I mean, I could just as easily say that I just haven’t found the right routine, or the right writing chair or the perfect music. Setting crazy deadlines used to be a fantastic motivator, but once you’ve allowed a few to slip by, they lose their potency. I recently came across the method that Seinfeld uses, where you put a cross on the calendar for every day you do the thing you want to do. And the crosses then form a chain. If you don’t write for a day, you ‘break the chain’. I was planning on giving the method a go, after all I figured it couldn’t hurt, but ultimately, I just need to figure out a way to get some words down every day, to keep the story from going cold, and having to start all over again each time I sit down to write.

How do you motivate yourself? What makes you plug away on a daily basis, keeping the fire going? I don’t think there is a magic, one-size-fits-all answer, but I do find it interesting to hear different people’s ways of working. Comment below if you’d like to share yours.


Tax, UFOs, grit and pink fluffy socks

This gallery contains 3 photos.

I have been lacking a little in the motivation department lately, and with my novel still unfinished, my tax return still undone (with all of the receipts scattered in various places) and a mountain of other things that I have … Continue reading

Book Reviews

Book reviews. Most people see them as necessary for book sales, the more (good) reviews a book has, the more it is likely to sell. They’re also very useful to readers, they can check out the opinions of other readers before they try the book themselves. Sometimes, they are simply used as a way for people to vent, rant or abuse the author or even other readers.

But for me? They provide me with the motivation I need to write. When I get stuck with my writing, when I wonder if I should continue, all I need to do is read some of my book reviews, and it reminds me that there are people out there waiting to read my next book. Waiting to see what the characters do next. Who are cheering me on and who have supported me in my career so far.

To make the most of this, the other day I printed out some of my reviews, and stuck them on my wall.

book reviews

I want to thank every one of them for inspiring me every day, and to let readers know that your review is more than just a way to give your opinion. It may mean more to the author than you think.

Which led me to realise that I have read hundreds of books in my life, but I have been very lax in writing reviews for them. So I have decided to write a review every time I read a new book, and also to begin leaving reviews for books I have read in the last few years.

After all, what if my words are the very thing the author needs to read to continue with their work?