Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Procrastination - Thief of Time Part 2

Back in January I wrote a post,  Procrastination - Thief of Time Part 1 I talked about working more effectively, and below are some more ideas I'd like to share with you, because, what I know is that by developing your own rituals and habits you can crush your procrastination.


Turn everything off - easier said than done, TV, email, facebook, Twitter, phone, whatever it is that distracts you. Turn it off, silence all distractions.


What is it they say, the early bird catches the worm, so, become an early bird. Set your alarm, and get up an hour earlier. You won't know until you try is my motto, its worth a few weeks trial isn't it?


Take a quick shower, it'll revive you, and boost your energy levels. Then do an hours writing before going to bed, just once or twice a week will make a huge difference.


Dedicate a set time, 30 minutes, an hour, even a quick 10 minute burst. Working against the clock will help to motivate you, you'll build momentum. I did this during NaNoWriMo a few times a day, even getting other writers to join in via Twitter, it was VERY productive, and fun!


Get a caffeine hit, if you don't like coffee, chocolate or coca cola will give you the same kick and keep you going. Its a quick fix.


Promise yourself something appropriate to the task, focus on the reward. A bunch of flowers for a chapter, a massage for completion of a draft, or a pint of beer with the lads, whatever motivates you to hit those keys.


Make a plan for every day of the week, that doesn't mean you have to write everyday, but by planning which days you'll be doing what, you'll feel better organized. Creating an even bigger plan will give you a bigger vision. Print off a calendar and fill in the tasks you need to do to reach your goals.


Hook up with someone who is where you want to be, ask them to coach you, or find an accountability buddy on Twitter, or at your writing group. Reach out, and buddy up with someone likeminded, but do remember, don't take advantage, be mindful that they are also trying to forge ahead with their own writing too. Repay them in some small way, a helpful critique, a nice new notebook, a lift to the shops, or, lure them out with the promise of cake. That last one works every time for me.


Focus on just one writing task at a time. This goes against how I work, but for many writers it brings results, you'll feel less over-whelmed, and seeing the results of  a job completed is motivational. I am trying to be better with this one.

What ideas can you throw at me? I'll try anything to improve, so do share, and together we'll crush our procrastination.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Goal List Week Commencing 24th February 2013

Writing Tools - Maria A Smith
It's been a funny old week...

Where I've been - Work. Its been a very long week. I've been trying to catch up.

What I've seen - Pretty Woman the movie, and yes, I've seen it several times before, I even stayed up late to watch it! Such a good story. What can I say, I'm a hopeless romantic.

Who I've met - A lady walking towards me wearing a fabulous 1950's vintage coat, she looked gorgeous in it. So I stopped her, and told her so. Her absolute delight, and beaming smile were priceless on a very cold February morning.

What I've bought  - Organic Pork Sausages, and they were delicious! Over the last year I've slowly been changing my food buying habits. Yes, they were more expensive, but far tastier, and I had full traceability because they were locally sourced.

How did I do with my list?

Writing - I wrote a little more of the new short story I started. A couple of blog posts, but work got the better of me so I decided not to work on my novel, as I want to try and get a long stint on it when I feel fresh. I brainstormed an article idea, I just need to write it now.

Walking - One decent walk.

I also got some reading done, and caught up on household paperwork.

The week ahead.

I am looking forward to meeting up with my Twitter writing buddies for the first time.

Novel - Continue

Reading - Whatever takes my fancy.

What will you be getting up to?

Friday, 22 February 2013

Very Inspiring Blogger Award

Many thanks to Vic Watson over at elementaryvwatson for nominating me for this award. Vic is in her own words, a bookworm, and a writer, that likes all things arty and cultural.

Here are the rules.

1. Display the award logo on your blog.

2. Link back to the person who nominated you.

3. State 7 things about yourself.

4. Nominate other bloggers for this award and link to them.

5. Notify those bloggers of the nomination and the award's requirements.

Here are 7 things about me.

1. I love history, I always have, it was my favourite subject at school, and as I've got older I'm more interested than ever. Past lives are fascinating don't you think?

2. Although I have a bread maker, I'd really love to learn how to make real bread, I'm probably going to find a workshop and do it! Watch this space.

3. Lipstick is one of those things I never go anywhere without wearing, and I love the ones that you apply once, then add a gloss over the top. They really stay put. Plum is my best colour, but I do like to wear red every now and again.

4. When I was seven, the night before my First Holy Communion, I managed to fall down and smash both my front teeth. My parents were devastated, and I thought it was the end of my world. The next day, I remember having my picture taken, and feeling thoroughly miserable because I couldn't smile ever again. Thank goodness for skilled dentists. After undergoing years of work, my teeth finally looked half decent at sixteen.

5. I really, really hate 'passive parenting' it makes me so cross when I see parents letting little Sammy do dangerous stuff, when they call out a lame threat, 'Don't do that, Mummy doesnt't like it, no Mc Donalds/chocolate/swimming  if you don't stop,' the child continues, because of course they know Mummy never follows through on a threat, never ever. Even when everyone around them is getting irritated and fed up!

Clearly they don't realise how pathetic they sound, and what they are setting themselves up for in the future.
Why can't they just be firm, friendly and fair? And yes, don't I know how hard it is to take a child home when they have been looking forward to something, but respect has to be earned, and lessons need to be learnt! Rant over.

6. I like weekends away in our caravan. I never thought I'd say that! Having once been very anti to the whole idea, but after agreeing to try it for a season a few years ago, I got hooked! Its a fabulous way to see the countryside, towns and cities in England and beyond, and can be linked in with hobbies, and pursuits like photography, fishing or even writing. Very soon, I'll be using mine as a stop over when I meet up with writing buddies I've spoken to on Twitter. It'll make my journey easier, and I'll get time to see the lovely area where the meeting takes place.

7. I'm rather partial to those Cadbury's Mini Easter Eggs, I find it very difficult to resist them. Yum!

This is the bit where I'm supposed to nominate some great blogs for this award, however, many of you have already received it already, therefore, I'm listing some of the very inspirational blogs I visit, but if you haven't received the award, and you want to, or your blog isn't listed, then please go ahead and take it, and let me know when you post your 7 things.

Writing: A Conversation Without Interruptions is where you'll find my friend Leah, her blog is full of writerly ramblings, as she juggles the craft of writing with motherhood. What a woman!

A Mission Impossible For The Dark Fantasy Nightwriter Paula is the dark night writer, haunted by the power of the written word.

A Likely Story Nip across and take a look at Teresa's blog, she has been writing ever since she was old enough to hold a pencil, and has published many stories and articles.

Patsy Collins Patsy is a keen gardener, has written lots of stories, and generously shares news of writing competitions with us too.

Roslind Adam is writing In The Rain Ros is a teacher turned writer, she has written books for children and has a passion for history.

The Blood-Red Pencil A group of editors and writers with a common goal, they blog about what they know best - editing.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Goal List Week Commencing 18th February 2013

Maria A Smith

Last week I had a birthday, I'm a year older! I treated myself to these lovely frilly primroses. At the moment they are on my window sill, making me smile, because they remind me that Spring is on the way. I intend to plant them out in the garden sometime soon, and eventually I'll split them up hoping they'll make me a few more plants.

 Birthday Card From a Friend - Maria A Smith

The picture above was on a birthday card from a writing buddy. I howled with laughter when I opened it!

Woman's Weekly Fiction Special - Maria A Smith

I went to a great workshop on Saturday, 'Writing Fiction for Women's Magazines' with Joanna Barnden. An enjoyable day for all participants, Joanna was all business, worked us very hard, and made the day interesting, and fun. Beforehand I purchased Woman's Weekly Fiction Special so I could get an idea of the current market. It surprised me to learn the magazines are more open to crime and horror nowadays, so maybe I'll have a go, and see if I can write something suitable.

I purchased a laptop for my daughter last week, and a copy of Word 2011 for my Mac, which  I'm now learning as I've been using Pages for a while. I ate cake twice, and drank coffee with friends. last week was busy.

Writing  - I brainstormed an idea for an article. Ending up with at least twenty ways I could go.

Went to the workshop, read Writers Forum, sketched out a new story, and wrote the beginning.

Walking - Got out once for a hill walk, it was a little snowy, so I cut it short.

Swimming - Twice and really enjoyed it! 

This week then,

Writing - I'll continue writing the new short story I started. Write a few blog posts, and continue with draft 2 of the novel. If I can get a start on the article too, that will be a bonus.

Walking - At least two outings.

What did you get up to last week, I hope you met your own targets? Have a good week.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Goal List Week Commencing 10th February 2013

The Leicester Comedy Festival is under way, from the 8 - 24 February, so if you enjoy a good belly rumble, then why not come to Leicester, its buzzing here! Amazingly, there are 520 shows spread across the city over 17 days. There really is something for everyone.

If that doesn't appeal, then what about King Richard III? The missing monarch has turned up - his bones were found under a car park in the city, and he'll be re-interred in a major ceremony in Leicester Cathedral next year.

In the meantime Leicester's Guildhall is staging  a six month long exhibition dedicated to the discovery of King Richard III, and the free attraction introduces the remarkable story behind the excavation. I shall definitely be going soon.

Last week went like this,

Housework Oops! I will have to try harder this week.

De-Cluttering - Yes, I bagged it, filled the car to the hilt, drove to a charity shop and handed it over. They seemed very pleased, the trouble is, there is still much more to do, but it was a step in the right direction.

Laptop - I didn't get the daughter a laptop because the old one is working again, be it a bit unreliable but it gives us a little more time to search for a good deal.

Writing Stuff - Flash Fiction - 200 words for the writers group on Saturday - I did it, however, the brief was a strange one, I had to use the title, 'Who Killed Bambi.' and my story was nothing to do with a fawn, and I didn't do it justice in the word count. It cried out to be a much larger project, and maybe it will be one day. At least I did something.

Subs club - The meeting went well, the group are motivated, and most have subbed poems, stories and flash fiction to competitions. Everyone went away keen, and I'm looking forward to seeing what they do in the next month. There have already been some small successes.

Novel - Ironed out one of the plot holes. Its scribbled in a notebook, so I will need to type it up.

Blog - Three posts in the last week.

Walking - I wanted to do three walks, I did one six mile walk through the city yesterday - That was as much as I could manage time wise.

Swimming - I've found a venue, now I need to plan in when I can go.

Apart from that, my asthma has been mostly uncontrolled this last week, making life difficult at times. Stress has been a major factor. My brother was rushed into hospital on Friday, with a heart problem, but has been discharged now.

He requires a procedure to shock his heart, so it stops, then it is restarted, which is concerning for everyone. I'm just glad he has got some help, and there is a solution.

Yesterday I found out I've had a letter published in Women's Walking Magazine, no prize, but it made me smile.

My plan for the week ahead.

Writing  - Brainstorm an idea for an article.

Attend a Writers Workshop

Reading - Writing Magazines

Walking - Continue with my programme to strengthen my heart and lungs.

Swimming - Get in the pool!

That is it. I have the plan, and now I will go away and see if I can complete it. I hope your plans went well last week, and you'll share what you are up to here with me. I love receiving your comments.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

A Funny Old Week

First Primroses - Maria A Smith

Where I've been...To the charity shop, where I donated several bags and boxes of books, bric - a - brac and clothing. It felt good to be helping others. Re-cycling is good for the soul.

What I've seen...Yellow primroses in the garden looking gorgeous. I divided an individual plant into four at the end of the spring last year, each new plant has produced lovely flowers. Just what we need to see on these dull dark days of winter.

Who I've met...Someone I used to play badminton with twenty years ago, yet it seemed like only yesterday. I had to give up after injuring my wrist quite seriously, and although I'm not missing playing anymore, it brought back memories of how gutted I was to be told my playing days were over. Badminton was the only sport I ever really enjoyed playing.

What I've bought...Popchips - Have you tried them yet? Not fried, nor baked, they are still potatoes which are subjected to heat and pressure until they pop! Seasoning is then added, BUT, nothing artificial, and they are incredibly healthy too. Delicious!

What I've been listening to...Bon Jovi's Crush album, and one or two podcasts. The BBC podcasts are brilliant, and they have a great range of subjects, there is sure to be something you can find to listen to while you're out walking, or doing the ironing!

Friday, 8 February 2013

One I Made Earlier - Nuno Scarf Workshop

On impulse, just before Christmas last year, and if I'm honest, lured by the promise of cake! I found myself signed up to  a 'Felting' workshop. I was going to make a Nuno scarf.

By pure chance I'd called into a craft show with a couple of friends on the way back from the writers group. They claimed to be 'just looking' at the enticing displays of Christmas goodies, I tagged along.

It was there whilst browsing, I met Alison Linnell, I really had no idea what I was embarking upon, other than I had very much liked what I'd seen on her display stand, and I was going to make a Nuno scarf on the day. Felting was all a bit of a mystery.

Fast forward to Saturday, January 26th 2013, and my adventure into 'learning' something new, which is  one of my long term goals this year.

Nuno Scarf  Workshop - Maria A Smith

The workshop was held at the West End Gallery in Leicester, which is well worth a look if you are ever in the city,  and our leader, Alison was there to greet us with a warm welcome. After introductions, and a cup of tea, we mingled, and got to know each other a little better. Then Alison explained how the day would run.

Our first task was to browse the lovely merino wool, chiffon, and silks, selecting whatever appealed. I was instantly drawn to my favourite colours, purple, lilac, and mauve. Interestingly, I noted my new found friends, and fellow scarf makers, had also, been drawn towards the colours they were wearing too.

Alison soon set us to work making up some prefelt, demonstrating the technique of pulling tufts of wool, and laying them out in two overlapping layers. I must point out, I'm not good at 'crafts' and was a little nervous, but Alison's easy relaxed style put me at ease, and as long as I followed her lead, I started to believe I might actually walk away from the workshop with a lovely unique scarf I'd made myself.

Nuno Scarf Workshop - Maria A Smith

I mentioned cake didn't I? As you can see, Alison kept her promise, and came up trumps with her home baked treats, and I'll admit, I sampled at least two, maybe three, of the rather delicious varieties displayed above, and can confirm they were very yummy!

The afternoon progressed well, after we cut out our prefelt designs, we laid them out on our scarves, and learnt how to to soap and rub, and roll our felt to within an inch of its life. Things were beginning to take shape.

 Nuno Scarf  Workshop - Maria A Smith

We were industrious, and time passed in a flash. There were more cups of tea, and more slices of cake. More rubbing, lots of water, and lots of happy chatter.

Nuno Scarf Workshop - Maria A Smith

As you can see the scarves are all very different and totally unique. Not only had I learnt something new, I'd made new friends too, and I had a new confidence in myself that perhaps I could get into this crafting thing after all...

Alison has a Facebook page here do visit if you get chance.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Goal List Week Commencing 3rd February 2013

I'm Late, I'm Late - Maria A Smith

The last week has been crazy mad! I feel like the White Rabbit, fictional character straight out of the book Alice in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll. I'm very late posting my progress report and goals for this week, my  excuse - work! The day job took over my personal time a lot last week, spilling over into the evenings. Not good. I'm working, on working that out...

What I did last week:

Writing - Continuation of novel draft 2 - Nope!

Flash fiction 200 words for the writers group - Yes, although it was written on the bus on the way there!

Two Blog posts - Only managed the Goal list on Sunday.

Enter a competition - Nope, although did do some more work towards sending a story out.

Reading - Continue with 'Fear Nothing' by Dean Kootnz - Nope, try as I might I couldn't get any reading time.

Walking - Three walks - Yes! Amazingly, I managed my quota, and I feel so much better for it. The first was a specially organised health walk, the second a brisk walk around the town with a friend in the evening, and the third was an urban walk about in the city of Leicester at the weekend. I'm wearing my pedometer again, so I can log the miles. Those three walks clocked up eleven miles! I'm pretty pleased.

National Trust Heath Walk at Calke Park - Maria A Smith
Photography - Capture more of winter. - Yes, on my Sunday walk through Calke Park.

Cake - Yes, I managed cake, a few times in a busy week, especially lovely to sit, and enjoy it at the end of a very busy working week. 

Tea & Cake!  - Maria A Smith
Things I didn't like about last week:

Cutting to the chase, feeling VERY frustrated that I had to spend so long at work which completely loused everything else up! Trying to drag the time back didn't work as the workload was such that it wouldn't wait. I think I should have written the week off by Wednesday instead of trying to catch up, and kill myself trying...consequently, the work is heavy again this week, and i have a BIG list of jobs not done at home too. Hate it when that happens.

Tiredness - My energy levels seemed to be on some wild roller coaster ride, dipping and rising, then plumenting to an all time low over the weekend. And that is why this blog post didn't go out on time.

Things I liked about last week:

Catching up with a writing buddy I haven't seen in over a year.

My asthma was much improved by the milder temperatures.

Lunch with a bunch of hilarious writers.

Onwards then, and this will have to be the 'salvage' week, not that I am happy with that but I really need to get topside of stuff, so...

Outside of writing, here are my goals.

De - clutter - Take bags and boxes to the charity shop, at least two car journeys.

Housework - A scary prospect but I WILL feel better after I have made friends with the Dyson and whizzed it around the house.

Laptop - Daughter needs a new one and I need to sort it out this week, so she can do her school work, and generally enjoy life. Imagine how I would be without mine!

Okay, thats enough, seeing as I have to catch up with the work stuff too. Regarding my writing, I'm doing the following,

Flash Fiction - 200 words for the writers group on Saturday

Subs club - Hold the monthly meeting, and do all the tasks beforehand like email reminders, finding a list of markets, and competitions etc

Novel - Read over the chapters that don't sit right with me, making a note of the plot holes.

Blog - Write at least one other post this week!

Walking - At least three would be good.

Swimming - Find a suitable venue, day, and time to swim.

I'm really hoping my plans don't get scuppered this week, and I'm left feeling energised by the end! I've got my list,  so I had better get on with it now. Do let me know how you got on last week, and how this weeks plans are going?

Making Things Happen

Bluebells in the grounds of Chatsworth, Derbyshire - Maria A Smith Nearly two months ago I made this list of goals - See how I've g...