Not a New Bookmark

Once upon a time, I was given a bookmark that quickly became my favourite.  It was made of fabric with glorious stars on one side and another pattern on the other that I can’t remember (clearly I didn’t look at this side quite as much).  Small weights were sealed in either end to keep the bookmark in place or to hold down fly-away pages if you happened to be reading in a breeze, which happens more often than you might think.

As time went by and the well-loved bookmark kept my place in book after book, certain wear and tear began to take place.  A little hole here.  A little patch there.

Eventually, I had to face facts: if I didn’t do something soon, the weights were going to fall out of the rapidly-developing holes and my bookmark would be no more.  But I didn’t want a new bookmark, so what could I do? Continue reading

Three Goals for 2016

We’re eight days into the new year and it’s just as well I didn’t make a resolution to be less lazy or have a more regular presence on my blog because I’d have failed that before I even began. Luckily, I’ve never been into resolutions and I think I’ve worked out why: they imply that the old you was rubbish in some way. “New year, new you!” is the catch-cry. Because the old you is useless. The old you is too lazy or unfit or bad at croquet (or whichever sport is trendy with the hipsters now). It’s no wonder resolutions don’t work: they put us in a defeatist frame of mind before we even begin.

So forget that. Resolutions are out; goals are in. Continue reading

How to make a snap decision in under a month

One day, I’d like to be the sort of person who can make a decision as quick as blinking.  I’m getting there; these days, I can choose what I want for lunch in around five to ten minutes – a process that, in the past, lasted anywhere from half an hour until dinner time the next day.

The ability to make a decision seems to depend on the time available.  When it comes to lunch, there’s a finite time frame that handily dictates the speed at which a decision must be made; when it comes to life choices, the time frame is unknown, which leads to decisions being put off until next week.  Or next month.  Or sometime next June.

What are you like when it comes to making decisions?  Would you care to join me on this beginner’s guide to making quick decisions in under a month? Continue reading

How to Fail at NaNoWriMo

As all good writers (and friends of writers, and families of writers, and distant cousins of writers, and local shopkeepers of writers) will know, it’s NaNoWriMo time – that magical time of year where hundreds of thousands of people around the world decide to write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November.  Cafés the world over experience a boost in patronage and coffee sales as writers do their best to reach their next wordcount target in the most bohemian settings possible.

With all of this intensive writing comes an abundance of advice on how to get through NaNo: how to create believable characters or how to create a dastardly plot that would be the envy of Machiavelli; how to deal with characters who won’t do what they’re told or how to write your 1,667 words before breakfast.

So much advice!  You could spend the entire month reading it, with the occasional (vital!) break for yet another pot of tea, and never even realise you’ve forgotten about the writing element of NaNoWriMo.  In fact, you may end up keeping yourself so busy and productive that you can’t understand why your word count’s still sitting on zero.

What you really need is a handy guide to identifying these traps and avoiding them.  A guide written by a veteran of three failed NaNoWriMo campaigns and only one success (yes, that would be me).  A guide that may feel uncannily relevant to your interests.  A practical guide on How to Fail at NaNoWriMo. Continue reading