Tag Archives: plans

New year, new something.

sunset-2016It’s 2017! Happy New year!

I like to start each year with a reflective blog post looking back at the year that was, and thinking about the promise that the new year holds. I spent hours yesterday writing such a post. It was hard to write because it was really honest – a kind of ‘I can’t gloss over 2016′ type exploration. Last year brought us some harsh realties and taught us some difficult lessons and I think it’s important to address that in order to find a way forward. I really don’t think there’s a scenic route – we have to go into difficult territory to really move on with hope.

Then I was all ‘oh no, that’s too intense, I need to write about the good stuff that happened in 2016!’ Because there really was some good stuff, most of which, for me, revolved around creativity and around the people I love… of which there were substantially more at the end of the year than at the start – how lovely is that? :) That post took a while to write too.

So then it was really late at night and I had these two posts, neither of which were even finished, and I realised that all the time I’d meant to spend on my illustration course that day had been used up on blog posts that weren’t even ready to be published. And I thought of all the stuff I needed to do the next day and I felt this jolt of anxiety that I didn’t have time for that either (and some of it is really flipping important too). And I realised that right there was my new year message to myself. Something has to give… and it has to be my blog.

I blogged less in the latter part of last year – cut back massively in fact – but running my linky meant I still wrote two posts a week and did a fair bit of reading and commenting. I’m fond of my blog and I love, love, love my writing community but I do not have enough time to dedicate to blogging and hosting a weekly linky any more.

One message that really came through to me loud and clear amidst all the horrible stuff last year was the importance of art, in all its forms. I wrote here about its ability to build understanding and unite us, to lift the spirit and to help fight the demons. I truly believe it’s more important than we might ever imagine so, in trying to figure out a way forward for myself this year, it’s become obvious to me that art, alongside friends and family are where it’s at. That means my priority is going to be my illustration course and setting up an artistic project with a friend. Hopefully some creative writing too. I don’t want to stop blogging altogether but I can’t keep up the pace I have been.

I haven’t figured out what to do about my linky yet. I’m hoping to find a co-host to remove the weekly pressure, but, quite honestly, I’m not even sure a fortnightly post isn’t too much. Part of the problem is I’m a really slow writer but it’s the headspace that blogging takes up as much as anything. I need to not be thinking about what I might blog about and how many blogs I need to read and how much commenting I have to do. Time is so tight!

So that’s about it. The boys are back at school today and I have a to do list reaching over the hills and far away. Enough blogging for now.

Happy 2017 everyone.

those decisions I made

You know when you’re writing a blog post and you keep deleting it and starting again because there’s so much to say and maybe you want to say it all but maybe you actually want to say none of it and would rather just talk about something else instead? That.

So lets talk about something else, shall we?

fields of gold

Remember how I set myself some goals a month ago? Maybe it’s time to report back on those. See how I’ve done. That will keep me nice and distracted…

So, I made a decision to only blog once a week:

And bar one extra blog post (which just burst out of me) I’ve stuck to this and it’s made a huge difference. I have far more time for other things and it’s also taken the (self-imposed) pressure off me to blog in a certain way or follow any sort of plan – I’ve just been blogging from the heart and seeing how it goes. This, in itself, has felt different to me – there have been times when I’ve been scared to hit ‘publish’ because the posts have felt too raw or real and it’s made me feel vulnerable. But I’ve gone ahead and done it and the support I’ve had in the comments section has been wonderful. At a time when I’ve been feeling all over the place, blogging from the heart has soothed me. That’s been a lovely unexpected consequence of my decision.

I also decided to stop joining in with linkies other than my own.

Again, I’ve stuck to this (apart from one little link up with #Prose4t) and it’s made such a difference to my evenings! I’m no longer caught up in hours of blog commenting. The downside has been I’ve missed reading the variety of posts and I feel less connected to the wider blogging community… but my own little #WhatImWriting community is thriving as much as ever. You can’t have it all and I’ve become very aware that I can’t scatter my attention too widely without losing something.

Of course both these decisions about blogging were bound to affect my blog stats… but, having just looked at them right now for the first time in weeks, funnily enough they’re just back to where they were in February before my blog post about education and #THISislearning campaign sent my hits rocketing. Huh. I thought they would have plummeted way more than that. Ok, I’m quite chuffed!

Then there was my reading target – one book a fortnight.

I’ve almost stuck to that – I’ve read (loved) and reviewed Baby X by Rebecca Ann Smith and am now reading Quiet – the power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking‘ by Susan Cain. As a self-confessed introvert, I’m loving it (it’s not exactly a hard sell!) and finding it really enlightening.

I also said I didn’t intend to do any creative writing in June.

This was because I was struggling to find time for writing as well as drawing and was somehow ending up doing less of both because my focus was so split. True to my intentions (with one exception) I wrote nothing creative throughout the month. My brain was full of story ideas though, so that creative drive didn’t go away! It also felt great to relieve myself of the self-imposed pressure and most of all it made a huge difference to my main aim…

… to draw every day.

I DID IT! I set myself a #GuessTheFilm challenge where I worked my way through the alphabet drawing a different picture to represent/suggest a different film every day. I posted them all on Twitter and Instagram and some on Facebook too and had a lot of fun with people guessing them. I also plain old loved the experience of drawing, built up a few skills and some confidence and I’m now working on an assignment for my illustration course. Drawing has really helped me emotionally and psychologically over the last few weeks too. Writing has helped too in a kind of cathartic, letting it out way, but there’s something about visual art that has taken me away from what’s going on in my head (and what’s going on in the world). Good stuff.

#Guessthe film f - I

Anything else? Oh yes – social media! I said I’d stick to just half an hour a day in the evening.

*Falls off chair laughing at utter failure to stick to this goal at all.*

We’ll leave it at that shall we?

Oh, and there was the very important goal of making the time with my youngest count.

I’d love to report some kind of soft-focussed, skipping through fields, glowing version of the last month here, but I’ll be honest. The boy is an utter delight most of the time and one of the reasons he’s an utter delight is that he is amazing at entertaining himself. He wanders off and creates stories with his cars, he wraps himself in blankets and says he’s going shopping (because the traditional way to go shopping is in a blanket sausage), he ‘reads’ books to himself, he does jigsaws… and, yes, ok, he watches ‘the wheels on the bus’ on You Tube far too many times. Could I have spent more time baking and crafting and taking part in wholesome, pinable activities with him? Yes. But we’ve spent some lovely, quality time together nonetheless. He’s really lovely to chat to (even at the tender age of three) and we even did skip through a field!

Finally, I decided I wouldn’t go to BritMums Live

I had been looking forward to it but when it got nearer the time it just didn’t feel right. Instead, I spent time that weekend with friends close to home. It was what I needed. No regrets.

Over all – not a bad month. Well, kinda. Considering. You know what I mean.

 Writing Bubble

plans for 2016

I’ve been thinking for a while that I need to figure out a plan for this year. I’m not sure it’s goals or resolutions I’m after, so much as a direction to take and some decisions about what I might need to do along the way.

organiser

I know I need to organise my time more effectively and I know I need more focus. Not only do I have this blog, my work and things I want to do with my writing, I also have a big, new, exciting (and terrifying) project that I want to take on. And then there’s parenting, the most important aspect of my life. My boys are 8, 6, and nearly 3 so still need a lot of my energy and attention. And I always want time for my husband, my family and my friends all of whom light up all the various paths of my life like the sparkly jewels they are.

How to manage all this has been whirling round in my head for a while. Some ideas are starting to emerge and I’m kind of hoping that if I write this post, it will help. Here’s what I’ve got so far:

Areas In Which I Will Make Change Occur in 2016 – With Perhaps A Few Set Ideas But Mostly Just Possibilities (Catchy, eh? Bet you all wish you had some of these!)

Parenting

I need to focus on my kids more and not be so distracted by writing stories in my head, planning and thinking about other stuff and especially by social media. I’m finding that the age the boys are now, while easier in some ways (they sleep well, eat normal food and can entertain themselves a fair bit) is more complex and challenging in others. I need to be present and be the best parent I can be. Thoughts in this area include:

  • Banning smart phones between certain hours (mine and my husband’s – the kids don’t have any) in order to avoid the temptation to be ‘just checking’ the flippin’ things constantly (oh, the seductive flashing light that tells you there’s a notification of some kind!)
  • Introducing a ‘family story time’ just before bed. We read to them all when they were small and our youngest still has bedtime stories every night. The six year old often joins in with these (either to read to his little brother or to be read to) but our eldest usually just reads to himself now. All of them love being read to though and stories are so calming at bedtime and such a bonding experience. We need to re-introduce more of these ideals.
  • Planning weekend activities in advance so we don’t spend half the day wondering what do, changing our minds, and waiting ’till we’re all cross before we leave the house.

Blogging

I love my blog but I’m concerned about how much time blogging takes away from my other writing. This has been more of an issue since my toddler dropped his nap as my writing time is now pretty much limited to the evenings. Linkies are very time consuming (especially if you want to be a committed commenter – I spent three whole evenings on commenting last week!) and the social media that comes hand in hand with the blog can be overwhelming. Possibilities for change (and a few extra plans) here are:

  • Only write two (or maximum of three) posts a week – my linkie post (which I’ve now decided to put a bit more content into by sharing some posts from the previous week), the post I link up to the linky and possibly one other post some weeks.
  • Only link up to one other linky a week besides my own (this wouldn’t have to be the same one other linky every week as I have a fair few I like to join in with).
  • Make a structured plan for social media – see below
  • Go to BritMums Live for the first time! I’ve got a free ‘editor delegate’ ticket because I write the Poetry and Prose round up and I plan on putting it to good use. I could learn loads.
  • Arrange another #WhatImWriting meet up!

Writing

This is really being squeezed at the moment hence the need to organise my blogging time a bit. I do have some actual goals for this year in this area:

  • Carry on the push to find an agent for my picture books – this will mean re-submitting numerous times and getting good at handling rejection. Re-writes may quite possibly be part of the process too.
  • Write some more picture books – three more this year at least. As it happens, I’ve just written a whole new one! We don’t have broadband at the moment so my internet time is basically just down to when I can nick my husband’s phone to use as a wifi hotspot. I’m faffing around on social media MUCH less and have more time to write!
  • Keep writing my limericks whenever I can and continue to move towards my self-publishing goal.
  • Consider going to the Festival of Writing in York for a day (I loved it last year!)

Social media

The love and bane of my life. I check FB like it’s a nervous tick. Having no broadband might be frustrating but I’m certain it’s good for me. Plans here include:

  • Remove the FB app from my phone (I’m going to do this as soon as we get our broadband back)
  • Institute a smart phone ban after picking the kids up from school and until they are in bed (that’s a lot of hours! Can I cope? Yes, of course I can – I’ve only had one for five years after all!). This should help with my parenting goals because yes, I do check my phone when I’m with the kids even though I know I shouldn’t.
  • Schedule tweets and FB posts for blog purposes – I’m hopeless at this.
  • Makes lists for twitter. I waste loads of time being completely disorganised in this area.
  • Have a set time of day (an hour in the evening?) when I do all my social media stuff and to stay within that set time.
  • Post more often on my FB blog page. I’m rubbish at this too and my insights page suggests FB hardly shows my posts to anyone. But having just looked at my blog stats report for 2015, it appears that many of those ‘sights’ lead to referrals. So perhaps I should concentrate a bit more on a decent FB strategy? I’ve never put any money into it. Advice in this area is very welcome!

Work

I don’t talk about it on my blog but I’m writing this here anyway because I know I need to make some changes in this area. I’m spending a lot of time at the moment trying to work out what to do for the best.

Reading

I love reading and I’m a better writer because of it. I’m thinking of joining Goodreads this year as a way of keeping track of what I’ve read and maybe writing a few more reviews. I read 25 books last year (I posted yesterday about some of my favourites) which is much fewer than in either of the two previous years (I read 60 in 2013!) so I’d like to at least hit 30 books this year.

Big new exciting thing

This will take time, energy and commitment hence the need to re-think my approach to blogging and writing. I’ll let you know more soon!

***

That was a fairly long list! I think it’s helped a bit to see it written (well, typed) down. I’ll have to start cracking on with some of these now won’t I?!

How do you manage your time? Any tips most welcome!

Writing Bubble

here’s hoping – #WhatImWriting

Tuesday! Time for #WhatImWriting!

snowy view

Snowy view. Just cos.

But… what AM I actually writing at the moment? I’m not sure what’s happened to this year – I started out January with various writing plans but none of them have really materialised. Somehow or other, illness or sluggishness or just general stuff has been tripping me up. As I said last week, I don’t want to beat myself up for this, life just gets in the way of writing goals sometimes, but I am keen to actually start achieving things again.

The writing challenges I’ve done over the past couple of weeks have given me a hint of that feeling I get when I’ve written something, and I really do want to get on with these picture book manuscripts now. Thankfully, things are finally settling down a bit in the Bubble household – the big boys are back at school and my husband is better so this week I have hopes that I might start making progress again.

I’ll need to concentrate though, so I think I’m going to to stay off the blog for the rest of the week *checks this week’s #theprompt… argh, it’s a tempting one!* as blogging seems to eat all my time at the moment. If I really knuckle down to my manuscripts though, who knows how far I’ll get – I’d love to have something to report next week!

Hmm, and that’s pretty much all I have to say for myself this Tuesday. Hope you all had restful half terms and are happily throwing yourselves in the direction of some writing this week.

Writing Bubble