Monday, 23 June 2014

Setting Sail with a Plan

In my last post I lamented about how much I had spent the year looking forward to attending Britmums Live, and for the friendships and social aspect that was whole-heartedly true.  But a small, annoying part of me kept chirping up and saying 'But you don't really belong this year do you?'
In the last 12 months I have probably completed a handful of blog posts, I slipped away from networking, Facebook and Twitter.   I would love to say this is because I have been focusing on writing my novel but that would be, well, a bareface lie. 
Of course I kept taking that little flea in my ear and stamping on it with the force of an elephant stampeding, but it didn't really go away.  When I arrived on the Friday and met with my fabulous fellow blogging friends, the little niggle actually got stronger rather than dissipating like I thought it would.  I looked around and surveyed at how amazingly, bloody well my friends were all doing and progressing with their writing plans.  They all seemed to have taken our success from the agents sessions last year and really run with it.
First drafts of novels had been completed, mentors sought and secured, poetry and flash fiction anthologies developed from scratch, agents approached, writing festivals attended and some were actually involved in the running of the Britmums Live event!  For every one of those achievements by those wonderful people I am truly proud and in awe. 
But it also served to me a stark reminder of what I had not achieved this year.  It seemed as if just when I was starting to get somewhere with my blog and writing, good feedback and a little bit recognition from unexpected sources for example, I stood, frozen like a rabbit in the headlines.  And whereas my friends in the same position took their little bunny tails off to the safe side of the road and saw the opportunity to run wild in the big green field, I decided to stay, stuck frozen and scared in the headlights.
For the first two hours of the event this made me a little sad.  I felt little enthusiasm to be there.  In my mind I was sulking, a bit like my four year old does when something doesn't go his way.  But I was only cross at myself.  I could make excuses.  To be fair I have had a lot on my plate this year.  Oh yes, I could find a perfectly legitimate and plausible reason for why I haven't made any progress with my writing plans.
But the long and short of it is this : Everyone has had a lot on their plate.  The bloggers keynote readings made that very clear and the only reason I have barely put pen to paper so to speak this year is because I haven't been bothered too.  I could have got up early, stayed up late, left the housework, insisted that I have an afternoon at the weekend to work.  These are all things everyone else has done in order to make progress.
All of the authors in the first afternoon session I attended categorically stated that they have hectic family lives.  They have children, husbands and houses to run.  But, in order to write they had to make sacrifices, just like their husbands have to for work.  But whereas, when you are out at work you don't see you have the choice, you just have to do what you have to do, when you are a writer making your own schedule you have to physically choose to make those sacrifices.  Because as I have proven this year, it is so easy to not make them and, quite frankly, get nowhere.
By the end of the two Friday 'Write' sessions I decided to turn my thinking more positive.  The reality was I had put nothing in for the last 12 months and thus had very little to show for it.  But, I was surrounded by the best possible example of people who had put a lot in and had much to show for it.  That is an inspiring thing (the whole Britmums environment is) so I decided by the end of the second session pouting over the last year was a waste of energy, bugger all I could do about it now. 
All I can do is move forward.  To acknowledge the self doubting, cautious side of my nature and then kick it to the curb.  To have more faith in my ability.  To spend some time planning (I am pleased to say I did actually even start to do this at the conference whilst I was enjoying some quite time with [brags] an award winning friend on the sofas outside whilst the warm summer breeze lapped over our exhausted faces). 
I don't know why I hold back, I have always been the same.  I am not getting any younger and this is the thing that I really want to do.  I acknowledge my life is hectic and I have been waiting for this new period in our family life to come around (my youngest will be starting school in September).  A whole new era will be starting.  A whole new routine.  A whole new chance.
So I have from now until the end of August to make a 12 month plan (it will be big and colourful and placed on the wall - like a hawk eye).  At the end of the 12 months (September 2015) I want (will) be in a position to go to the York Writing Festival with confidence and a first draft.  Many things will make up getting that confidence; getting my blog active again and engaging with people and getting involved with the communities; entering writing competitions and submitting feature pieces; asking for feedback; researching my book genre market - writers and agents.
In short getting back out there and not being afraid. 
That can't be so hard?  Right?


  1. Fab post. I didn't know you were feeling that way when I saw you at Britmums. But I will say that you have had a lot on your plate this last year, really stressful stuff, especially having to deal with the day to day admin for your son once you had moved which I know is stressful, pushing past all that red tape and how time consuming it is. Try not to be too hard on yourself... you do have different and challenging circumstances to most. But the thing is it won't have been 'dead writing' time because all that time your unconscious will have been whirring away on your novel, and I bet your story has really matured now. I promise you, it will still have been time well spent even though you didn't write. BUT, you are sounding fired up and really ready to commit now, and all you have to do now is just sit down and write. XXX

  2. I feel exactly the same! I have just been sitting around moaning that I want to write without actually writing much. And my blog has been quite quiet. I think I will have to take a leaf out of your book and just give myself a kick up the backside. I think my 3yo would love to decorate a twelve month plan... Post a picture of your plan! I'll be reading to see how things are going and to cheer you on. Sad not to meet you at Britmums, maybe next time? xxx

  3. Hello, just popping over to your blog for the first time via our fb writing group.
    I have never been to a blogging conference but can imagine feeling the way you describe - in awe of everyone's achievements and feeing a bit lacking! As great as blogging and social media is, it does make us very aware of everything we feel we 'should' be achieving and make us apply unnecessary pressure to ourselves. Really I think we're all achieving things, just in our own way and at our own pace. And it sounds like this coming year is DEFINITELY going to be your year. You sound geared up and in a good frame of mind.
    I'm also writing a novel and I set myself word count targets every month to motivate me. I blog about it and find that people are lovely and supportive which really helps, especially when I hit a wall.
    Good luck with making your big, colourful plan (I could do with one of those!) I'm looking forward to reading about how it all goes. X

  4. Sorry you were feeling that way. I have to say coming home I feel flat and like I'm going nowhere and everyone else seems to have a plan. Yes accepting that this is work and convincing my husband that it is also was a huge battle though

  5. I left last year's BritMums Live with the conviction that I was going to write my book, an idea that's been kicking around for a while. As this year's BMLive approached i realised I had done hardly anything towards it and I too sat back and watched others achieve their goals.
    I put my energy elsewhere and I daren't promise to get the novel done for next year as who knows what may turn up but I hope to one day complete it.
    We'll see, don't be too hard on yourself and seek the positive always

  6. I'm not sure if you got my comment or not?

    I felt exactly the same, last year I promised to write a novel and I got hardly anywhere with it other than in a hopeless mess, maybe I'll have better luck this year, who knows?
    Keep on going and you'll get there

  7. Read this a while ago but didn't get a chance to comment…but coming back and it looks like you've made good progress on the regular writing front already - judging by the number of posts on your blog.

    I would say this, it is bloody hard to fit in writing when you have small kids - esp when they're not at school. Hopefully you will be able to carve out some time when J2 starts school. EB has just started nursery for 2 mornings a week - 8 hours a week!!! I am hoping that once I've got through my to do list it will free me up some time to do NaNoWriMo in November. I'm DETERMINED to do it this year. Join me….? And also finally, my biggest regret about not going to Britmums is that after all this time I still have not met you. If I don't meet you in the next year I may well be forced to buy a ticket for 2015 xxx


I would love for you to quack your thoughts along with me and will always try and quack right back.