Fail To Plan, Plan To Fail

Elaine Roberts has been thinking about what people do to motivate themselves and carry on when things get too much. She’s had a lot going on in her personal life so, consequently, has been feeling too tired and demotivated to do anything. 

When my children get those same feelings, I always tell them life is all about small steps, which lead to bigger steps that occur naturally.

NaNoWriMo Logo

I came to the conclusion I should practice what I preach, so to speak. As a writer, NaNoWriMo (National November Writing Month) is a motivation, and the aim is to write fifty thousand words in a month. Straight away, the immediate and automatic reaction was “whoa, I could never do that”. Then I thought, what if I aim for fifty thousand, but not worry if I don’t make it because that way, the daily word count would increase.


That’s fine if you’re a writer, but what if you’re not. Here are some of the things that have worked for me, which I would recommend:

  • Have an overall plan. My plan is to be published, but my dream is to walk into bookshops and supermarkets and see my books on the shelves.
  • Set specific achievable goals that are measureable, with a realistic timescale for you and the life you lead. It doesn’t matter about how small the goal is, because it’s about stacking the building blocks, towards achieving the plan that you have decided upon.
  • Celebrate when you reach those goals, even if it’s only with a cup of tea and a happy dance around the front room.
  • Put yourself out there, wherever out there is for you. It can be intimidating, but there’s nothing like mixing with people who are aiming for similar things. With the Internet and social media, there are forums and groups you can join.
  • Be positive. I always say to my children, if it was easy everyone would be doing it, whatever “it” is. Don’t take on board other people’s negativity; that is their issue, not yours.
  • Give yourself time to serve your apprenticeship. Learn your craft properly. I have several written novels that I thought were great at the time. When the rejections came through, I was crushed, but now my knowledge has increased, I’m quite relieved they didn’t get anywhere.
  • Write a list. We all love a list. You can’t beat ticking things off a list, to make you feel you’ve achieved something.
  • Whatever the plan is, do your research. Look at what others are achieving and how they are doing it. I’ve come to the conclusion there is nothing you can’t find on the Internet.
  • Above all else, don’t give up. Whenever I feel like that, I remind myself how some of the best authors have struggled to be published, and I don’t put myself in the same bracket as them.
  • Remember it’s all about the journey, not forgetting where you started from and what you can do to encourage others to achieve their goals.

Be Positive

Whatever you want to do, go for it. Make time for yourself and your dreams. The harder you work, the luckier you get.

Good luck xx



New Green Shoots of Inspiration Pushing Through the Sloth of Winter

The days are getting longer, dissipating Francesca’s winter stupor and helping her get more organised. 


Crocuses popping up through the winter leaves

What a storm we had yesterday and last night. The trees were being blown around mercilessly, snapping twigs and even branches from trees onto the path and road. But as I took my grandson to school this morning, the sun was shining and the air was still. It was like the wind had blown winter away and brought in an early spring. In the garden much of my lawn is covered with crocuses and the first hellebores and bergenias are blooming in the flower beds.

During the winter months, especially with the dark closing in at four in the afternoon, I found myself plodding through my writing day, getting done what I could before my brain felt drugged by the gloom once more. The days upon days of grey clouds didn’t help either. I guess I’m someone who suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder as I always feel much more depressed in the hibernal months.

Research for my latest novel

Research for my latest novel

My study desk has slowly been swamped with information and research for my various projects, as I’ve moved into the warmer dining room to use the table there instead. Apparently Roald Dahl used to work with a messy desk and look how successful he was. Despite that, I don’t agree with a recent study that decided that untidy desks help employees to think more clearly. That doesn’t work for me.

It’s nearly spring, and time for me to buck up. My books of ‘plot bunnies’ need locating and ordering. I have scores and scores of ideas but it seems sometimes it’s as big a hindrance to have too many ideas as none at all. They need organising, as does my time. I need to programme my work on the novel, short stories, competition entries and blog posts. Also I need to schedule time to submit my work. I have a writing friend who always submits on a Thursday. I think this could work for me, instead of being haphazard about it. What I need is a kind of timetable, as if I’m at school.

Desk pad, ready to fill out

Desk pad, ready to fill out

Of course, I have the luxury of doing this at the moment as I don’t currently have an editor waiting for edits on a story, a novel or a serial. On the other hand, it is useful to have someone else give you deadlines and I find I can work very efficiently when that’s the case.

So, I need the motivation to organise myself. Apart from rearranging my desk space, what else will help me? My diary comes in very useful for deadlines of competitions and for blog posts, along with the various writing events I attend. But most useful is my weekly desk pad, split into days of the week. It helps me focus my mind on what needs to be done in the present, how long each task should be given and what time of day to do it. The pad has been languishing on my desk, but now it’s time to put it back to work.

Do you find your writing is affected by the seasons? What do you do to motivate yourself and make the most of your writing time?


My February Competition Monthly on the RNA blog

As I returned home today, I found myself singing a song from the radio show ‘Sorry I’ll Read That Again’. Those of you of a certain age may remember Bill Oddie’s, Spring Spring Spring, the lyrics of which inspired the title of this blog. (My two youngest children used to do a wonderful rendition of it!)

Here it is. I hope it cheers you up and spurs you on like it did me!

Spring Spring Spring from ‘Sorry I’ll Read That Again’


It’s Just A Matter Of Time…

Elaine Roberts talks about her demons, deadlines and Chapter 5.

From birth, our lives are governed by time. Our earliest memories probably involve having to be somewhere by a certain time, whether that’s attending family occasions, meeting friends and getting home again for dinner, or going to school and handing in the homework on time. clock5We’re brought up on the importance of time and more importantly, the importance of not being late.

With most jobs, there are deadlines attached and writing is no different. As writers, we often work to them, whether they are self-inflicted or real ones set by someone else. Participating every year in NaNoWriMo (National November Writing Month) shows what you can do and it’s fun, in a strange pressurised way. There’s nothing like a target of 50,000 words in a month and, hopefully, a rising graph to give you encouragement to continue trying to reach the target by the 30th November.

In the past, I’ve wondered if there’s something masochistic in me that makes me set my own targets and deadlines, after all I don’t enjoy the pressure it adds, or maybe I do. I definitely work better under pressure and actually having a deadline certainly focuses my mind to the job in hand, it adds motivation, especially if someone is waiting for the work to be finished.

Having said all of the above, deadlines can make you sloppy as well; I’ve definitely made mistakes that have all been down to “more haste less speed”.

In the last couple of months, there’s been a period of around five weeks where I haven’t written a word, and that has made me wonder what my motivation is to write in the first place. The demon, self doubt, has taken over, asking questions like “can I write a successful novel” or “why are you bothering, you’re useless at it.” I don’t think for one minute I’m alone with my demons, but it does stop me from moving forward. You maybe asking what brought it all to a standstill in the first place and I’m not sure what the answer is. I believe it’s partly because I like to discuss aspects of my writing with my son and husband, but circumstances meant I stopped doing that. I also tried to change the way I write. Several successful writers I know start at the beginning of their novels and work their way, in chronological order, through to the end. I, on the other hand, jump about all over the place. I write the scene that takes my fancy when I open my laptop and then ensure it joins together in a logical manner in the editing process. What have I learnt through this process? Do what comes naturally to you, I got stuck at chapter five and consequently never wrote another word for five weeks. Chapter five became an impossible barrier that I couldn’t get round or over.

Having had that break, I’m now writing again. Why? Mainly because it’s a compulsion, I can’t live without writing anymore. Mentally, I was stuck at chapter five, so I have reverted to my way of working and I’ve left chapter five to simmer in my sub conscious, while I write a different chapter.

I have two completed manuscripts with two different publishers, waiting to hear the outcome is nerve wracking and, while I believe the ultimate success is being published, it takes commitment to complete a novel, and I should also recognise that as a mark of success.