Feeling Determined vs Being Determined (How I Got More Hours in the Day)

Monday MotivationI’ve felt determined for a long time. Years and years. But despite my burning sense of determination, I just wasn’t managing to get things done. There was always something conspiring against me. I was too busy with the kids, or I didn’t have somewhere quiet to write, or the muse just wasn’t with me. I was a victim of circumstance. I wanted to do it, but there was too much against me.

I wailed about it on social media, grumbling about how blessed other people were with their writing nooks, their school-age children, their luxury of free time when I had none. They were lucky. I, however, was not.

It has taken a long time, a good number of pep talks, and a whole load of failure for me to finally figure out my problem. There is a difference between feeling determined and being determined. And the difference is action.

There’s no big secret here, no grand revelation, and there is definitely no luck involved. It’s about changing your mindset. It’s taken me years, and I feel so foolish for taking so long to realise it. Feeling determined is not being determined. I’ve only just come to understand that.

Last year, something clicked. And, you know what? Over the last few months I have not stopped. Not for a second. I am constantly on the go. Insanely busy. But it’s productive busy, happy busy, exciting busy.

The old me was busy too. But that was I-don’t-have-time-for-this busy. That was not even trying to write because I knew my toddler wouldn’t grant me anything close to an hour of peace and quiet. That was thinking anything less wasn’t worth the bother. That was feeling determined.

New me writes two sentences on the way back from the toilet. New me types while she’s eating lunch. New me takes a notebook and pen to toddler groups. New me writes like the wind while her toddler naps because he might sleep for four hours, or four minutes. New me doesn’t wait for the muse. New me grabs her by the throat and says “Now!” And sometimes the words flow, and sometimes it’s like pulling teeth, and sometimes it’s the worst thing I’ve ever written. But I do it anyway. That’s being determined.

I’ve recently started setting a 5am alarm. I get up and write while the kids are still asleep. When I posted about it on social media, I got a number of people telling me I was ‘lucky’ to get an hour of peace and quiet in the morning. I smiled at that. That’s what I used to say to other people. But it’s not luck. It’s getting up at 5am. It’s not waiting for my muse to show up. It’s writing while the kettle’s still boiling. It’s getting words down no matter what. Because some mornings I do get an hour before my boys get up. Other mornings I get two minutes. But two productive minutes are better than ten minutes of waiting for the perfect moment.

It’s not luck. It’s being determined.

Monday Motivation: Old Habits…

Monday MotivationOne thing a lot of writers struggle with is motivation. Unless writing is your day job, and actually paying your bills, it can be hard to incentivise yourself enough.

The trouble is, writing is hard work, and after a long day at your job, in education, or parenting, hard work is the last thing you feel like doing. Which, really, is fair enough. But the crux of the issue is, of course, that you can’t be a writer if you don’t write.

But I sympathise. It’s far easier to shut down your brain and stare dumbly at the TV, or mooch around on social media, or watch endless videos of dogs on skateboards or cats playing the piano. It’s so much harder to actually think, and create, and breathe life into something.

We’ve all heard the advice about distractionless writing. Turn off the TV! Turn off the internet! Turn off your phone! I’ve even given that same advice to others. But it’s far harder to follow. I’ll put an old, favourite movie on, one I’ve seen a hundred times, and I’ll tell myself I won’t actually watch it, that it’s just for background noise. Or I’ll tell myself I’ll just keep the internet open for research, or finding names, or checking word definitions. But it’s all distractions, and it all nibbles away at your motivation.

Today I’ve written double my daily wordcount target. I’ve been focussed, motivated, and unwavering in my desire to write. I’ve pushed the story forward, developed characters, and revealed plot points like an absolute trooper.

And why?

Because there’s a fault at our local telephone exchange so we’ve had no broadband.

Monday Motivation: Unexpected Opportunities

Monday MotivationIsn’t it funny the way that opportunities seem to be more likely to present themselves when you’re not looking for them? Like luck, love, buses.

My husband was chatting about me to a guy he’s been working with recently, a guy whose wife happens to be something of a voracious reader. She downloaded The Bottle Stopper, read it in just a few days, and then went on to buy the next book in the series; The Matching. She’s now looking forward to book three’s release.

In the same vein, I was talking to someone this morning, someone from my personal life and completely unrelated to my writing, and they had a proposal for me. A ghost writing opportunity. Completely out of the blue, but I’m really excited about it.

So the lesson is this: talk to people, be open to opportunities, and say yes, even when they take you by surprise.