Work, work, work, work, work…

Do you find that you sometimes overwork yourself?

I do. Time and time again.

Why is that?

I have goals, as I’m sure many of you do, and they aren’t idle wishes. I want to achieve those goals. And in the moments when my goals feel as if they’re drifting further and further away, I decide that in order to get back on track I need to increase the amount of work I’m doing.

This almost always has the opposite effect of what I wanted. Sure, I start off great, but by the end of week one, I’m grouchy, exhausted, irritable, and frustrated. Still, I often don’t get the message that it isn’t working—because “perseverance” and everything—and I continue to overwork myself for at least another few weeks.


When I finally accept that the mountain of extra hours hasn’t actually gotten me that much closer to the peak, I revert to what I was doing beforehand. I accept that I was doing enough, more than enough, and that I need to exercise patience and resilience.

Of course, sometimes you do need to change things up a bit, but I think a lot of the time, at least for me, what you need to do is accept that you’re doing the best that you can and just get on with it.

Another reason why I end up overdoing it is that I look at what other people have done to achieve their goals and dreams. Whilst I think this can be beneficial, I think that such comparisons without the proper level of perspective makes you feel as though you are not doing enough to achieve your own goals.

It seems as though everybody who has made it big has worked fifteen-hour days, seven days a week for three years, living in a dingy basement with nothing but cheap noodles to eat. You feel if you’re not doing that, if you’re not working relentlessly on your goals day and night, if you’re not suffering that much—or at all—then clearly you don’t want it enough, and you won’t get anywhere near accomplishing your goals.

People wear their suffering like a badge of honour. “I had to go through this, this, this, this, AND this to get to where I am today.” Because these people attribute their success to those fifteen hour shifts, you then endeavour to do something similar. You try to emulate them with your own version of a fifteen-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week shift.

As I know from personal experience, this can easily result in frustration and exhaustion.

Accomplishing goals is hard work, and working fifteen-hour days might work for some—it might work for many—but it doesn’t work for me. I doubt it ever will.
For the short term, yes, I could work crazy hours. For a few weeks, a few months throughout the year, but in the long term, I know that I wouldn’t be able to sustain it.

Those who work hard at a sensible rate of speed are rarely put on the front pages because it’s boring. It’s not an interesting story. We want blood, sweat, toil, and misery. We don’t want to hear that you had time to celebrate all your children’s birthdays and Christmas, too. We don’t want to know that you made it to date night every month with your other half. Nope. Date nights and other normalities are cancelled when you’re reaching for the stars. Suffering is all we want to hear about.

I happen to think that there are more ways to succeed—not that I can prove that to you, because, like I said, we don’t really hear about those. However, I think you can work hard whilst getting on with the rest of your life, whilst doing other things that make you happy, or sad, or indifferent. Life is for living. Not just for working.

Take that bit of advice into the New Year. It might help when making all those grandiose plans that people tend to make in January.

Good luck with your pursuits, and I’ll see you bright and early next year.

Rise and shine…

Someday My Prince Will Come…

Are you in want of a prince?

Well, perhaps not a prince, but a guy you can call your own?

If the answer is yes to at least one of those questions, what are you doing to make it a reality?

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m a trad girl at heart. I prefer to be pursued rather than act as the pursuer, but we can’t all be Snow White, just waiting around for a worthy man to come our way. You could try it out, but I suspect if you did, someday could quite easily become never-going-to-happen.

So, what can you do to land yourself your own Prince Charming?

If I knew the answer to that, I would be a millionaire.

Instead, here are some tips to make it more likely that a good guy will come a-knocking.

Dress to Impress

I know, I know, you’re one of those ladies who dress for themselves and themselves only.

“If he doesn’t accept me for who I am, then I don’t want to be with him.”

Very true, but it’s nice to make a little effort, isn’t it? Especially if there’s something wonderful to gain.

And I’ll let you in on a little secret: guys make an effort for girls, too.

I’ll leave you with that shocking discovery … and move on to the next tip.

When a Guy You Find Attractive Smiles at You, Smile Back

What?! And let him think that you might be interested? No way. The game would be up.

I know. It’s tough. You’re used to pulling those stony stares. Indifference is your default.
You want to play the loooong game, but how will he know that he’s been invited to play if he doesn’t even realize that you’re the slightest bit interested?

Plus, game-playing? It’s so last Thursday.

Accept a Compliment or Two

“That dress looks really good on you.”

What is he after? you think immediately.

“Thanks,” you say aloud, voice strained, “but there’s more to me than just a pretty dress.”

Last week, he complimented you on your presentation skills, and in response, you shrugged and said in a clipped tone, “Thanks. But it wasn’t anything special. Just doing my job.” In your head you thought, Would he say that if I was a guy?

Will he try again the following week? Probably not.

Instead of being frosty, try responding with a smile. Accept the compliment. If you’re feeling daring, give him one of his own.

Admit to Yourself, and Others, That You would Actually Like to Have a Boyfriend

Don’t worry. It doesn’t mean that you are desperate or that you can’t live without a guy.

“Magic Mirror, on the wall, who is the strongest and most independent woman of them all?”
“My dear, you are the strongest and most independent, it is true, but wouldn’t you like a kind man to share everything with you?”

Sharing. What a nice idea.

There you have it. Follow at least one of these tips, and you’ll be that much closer to catching yourself a prince.


I’m wishing, for the one I love, to find me, today.
I’m hoping, and I’m dreaming of the nice things he’ll say …

Too Much Solitude Isn’t Such A Good Thing

Last night

Too much solitude isn’t such a good thing…

I wrote a post last year discussing all the good things about solitude. Check it out here.

This one looks at the not so good.

Wow, a millennial who can look at something from more than one perspective. Give the girl a promotion.

I like spending time alone, but too much time alone can send you down the dark, dangerous path that leads to the town of Overthinking.

What will you find there?

You might end up thinking about things that you wouldn’t normally spend the time thinking about, but because you are on your own and you have the time, you’ll spend three hours reflecting on that annoying thing you do in every conversation.
Nobody else seems to have noticed it, but you have, and you must spend another hour at least trying to figure out why you do it. Is it inherited? Is it your parents’ fault? Usually is. And how can you stop doing it? Is it possible to stop? Well, if it’s inherited…

You might end up thinking about all of the things that you should have or could have done in your life.

Why didn’t you go to Natasha’s party when you were fourteen years old? If you had gone, you would have had a great time, and everybody would have loved you. Most importantly, you and Natasha would have spent the whole evening bonding, and you would have become best friends as a result. She would have invited you to all the cool parties, and then you would have become popular, and you would have never turned down a place at Reading Uni out of fear that you wouldn’t fit in.

After you finished uni, you would have gone travelling in Australia and Europe and America with all your Reading pals for three years. You would have settled in a nice cottage in the countryside with three children and your husband you met at Reading.


Surprisingly, overthinking often makes you feel worse, not better, about yourself, and this can lead you down an even darker and more dangerous pathway to the town of What’s The Point?

What’s the point of exercising anymore? I’m going to put on weight when I get pregnant, so what’s the point in trying to maintain my svelte size in the meantime? And even if I do get rid of it, I’ll only put it back on again during the second and third pregnancies. And then there’s getting older. Everyone puts on weight when they get older …

What’s the point in writing every day for two hours? The likelihood that anybody is going to read it is slim. You’re just wasting time. And as far as wasting time goes, there are plenty of more interesting ways to achieve that than staring at a blank screen. Why not return to those books on existentialism that you didn’t get round to reading when you were doing your English degree? What were they called again?

You can’t remember? Sounds about right.

Well, if you can’t even remember the titles of the books, why bother reading them? Pointless. Pointless. Pointless. You should throw away your Kindle now. Burn all your books. At least you’ll remember doing that.

What’s the point in communicating with others? It’s not as if I like talking to people anyway. People are drab and stupid and dull, and I can’t bear to be a part of such dreadful conversations. Why bother continuing relationships with these wretched people I don’t have the slightest thing in common with?

And on it goes.

You might have entered the world of solitude as the happiest person alive, only to end it three weeks later as the most miserable.

Solitude has its merits, but when real loneliness kicks in, when you are the only person you’re having a conversation with day in and day out, it’s time to leave the house. Go and get your nails done. Go people-watch at a coffee shop. Call up a friend. Do anything other than stay in the silence.


Back At Square One?

square one

I was supposed to enter a novel writing competition last month, but I didn’t. It had been a goal of mine since late March/early April to submit a polished draft of my story to the competition.

But I didn’t do it in the end. Why not? Was the story rubbish? No. Then what was the problem?

Let me take you back to March, possibly April. I’d been working on an outline for a new story since mid-February, and it was time for me to start thinking about setting a completion deadline. I’ve spoken previously—in my blog post, Setting Story Deadlines—about how important it is to set realistic and specific deadlines so that you have a good chance of meeting them.

Whilst browsing online, I stumbled across Pitch Wars, a novel writing competition. Deadline: August 27- 29. No ifs. No buts. If it wasn’t in by then, you couldn’t enter.

I read the competition criteria, liked what I’d read, and decided to make that deadline my deadline. Could I complete two or three drafts of the story, have it critiqued, and then write another draft before August 27th?

It seemed incredibly tight, especially since I hadn’t come close to finishing the first draft of anything in years. I’d made some pretty vague deadlines in the past, and I needed something that I could stick to, that wouldn’t change, that I couldn’t get out off. And so I went for it.

I got to work—writing my plan, rewriting it, starting the first chapter, the first scene…

I reached June, and I was nowhere close to having a polished version of my story. I hadn’t even completed the first draft yet.

So what did I do?


My goal changed. Instead of having a well-revised story ready for the deadline, I decided that I just needed to get the first draft written. You see, over the last few years, I’d fallen into a rut where I wasn’t able to finish anything I’d started. I needed to break the spell. I needed to finish this draft.

August came—the 22nd, actually—and I’d finished. I’d completed the second draft of my story. Brilliant. What next? Competition time!

A little voice at the back of my mind piped up, one that had been on holiday during those crazy months of writing.

It’s great you’ve completed that draft, but you can’t enter the competition with the story as it is.

I reflected on that for a few minutes before forcing the voice back on vacation. I was going to enter.

I spent the rest of the week polishing my sample chapters.

August 26th came, and the little voice returned. It was louder this time.

You can’t enter the competition. Sure, you have four good chapters, but what about the rest? You haven’t even read it the whole way through. Not to mention, but I will anyway, that nobody else has seen it. Give it up.


This time, I couldn’t ignore the voice. It was correct. I wasn’t ready. During those hectic writing months, I’d gotten so caught up in just finishing the thing that I hadn’t allowed myself to even think much about entering the competition. If I had let doubt seep into my mind, then the deadline would have become redundant, and I most likely would not have completed writing the second draft in time.

So, I’d failed. I’d failed my goal.
And I was back at square one, wasn’t I?

I’d definitely not achieved my goal of entering the competition. That cannot be refuted, but was I back where I’d started?

I’d finished the second draft of a novel. Something I hadn’t done for a long while, and better yet, I actually still wanted to work on it! I was still excited by the project.

Although I hadn’t made as much progress as I would have liked to, I definitely wasn’t back at square one. Square one was quitting halfway through the first draft. Square one was spending up to a year on an outline.

This wasn’t that. It wasn’t a “when you wish upon a star” type of progress, but I had progressed nonetheless.

I could live with progress.

What do you think?


#Rejection In Writing 1


Rejection is something that all humans go through. It’s part of life, as they say. Writers are human, and many of us go through rejection after rejection after rejection, until we finally get a rejection that isn’t so painful. You know, a rejection that suggests there is hope out there and that you’re not wasting your time sitting in front of a laptop, typing your life away…

Anyway, in this post, I am going to be talking about a time my writing was rejected. Cue the violins; this one was painful.

I’ve been writing since early 2011, and this event happened in 2013. I had just finished the third revision of my then-current manuscript. I’d decided that I’d done all I could with it for the time being and that I needed a professional pair of eyes to take a look.

I did a Google search and found a whole bunch of developmental editors. Developmental editors, in a nutshell, are people who aim to improve the content and structure of a manuscript by looking at things such as pacing, plot, characterisation, and setting.
Check out a longer piece on what they do here.

I found an editor who looked top notch, and I sent her an email requesting her services. I also uploaded a sample of my work. A day or two later, she responded.

What did she say?

I can’t hear those violins!

Is that what she said?

No, but this is it, the devastating moment if you will. Play!

The editor, very politely, said that she wouldn’t be able to edit my work.



It wasn’t up to the standard she was used to. In addition, she attached a writer’s checklist with her email—basically, a list of things that writers like me should check are in a manuscript before bothering to contact editors. She also said that she might take another look at the manuscript if I made substantial revisions. But I think she was just being nice…

I was in shock. I couldn’t quite believe it.

Like I mentioned before, I’d started writing in 2011, and this happened two years later. During that time, I hadn’t been Sleeping Beauty, snoozing on the job. I had worked hard to get better at this thing called writing. I’d taken part in short online writing courses. I’d read books on writing, including Stephen King’s book, On Writing. I’d written short stories, novelettes, novellas. I’d sent a handful of them to competitions. Although I should add, I never heard anything back from them. I read books, lots of them, inside and outside my preferred writing genre.

I wasn’t a great writer, not even a good one, but I thought my work would at least pass the first stage of editing.

That day, I wept. I was angry with her. How dare she say such things? Did she not know who I was going to become?


And then I got angry with myself. You are a terrible writer. Why did you even bother sending it when it was clear you weren’t any good?

I then slept on it. The following day I was still a mess, but I wanted to make sense of what had gone wrong, so I read through the email again. It still cut me to the core, but the first cut is the deepest, and so it wasn’t nearly as bad as the first read through had been.

I also looked through the checklist—properly this time, not just skimming it. Turned out, it was useful, something I could definitely use in future revisions.

I then returned to the dreaded manuscript and had a read, and whereas before I couldn’t see how else it could be improved (hence why I went seeking professional help), I could see what needed to be done. Suffice it to say, she was right. It wasn’t good enough. I needed to get to work on it pronto.


Pronto never came, as I couldn’t bear to touch that manuscript again. The task seemed insurmountable, so I ditched it and moved onto something shiny and new—starting a new problem of not being able to finish a manuscript, but I’ll leave that for another therapy session blog post.

I did, however, learn a few things from being rejected by that editor. I learned that I had a long way to go. It was possible that this editor was simply way out of my league and that in the hands of somebody a little less golden, my work would have been good enough to edit. Nonetheless, I got to work. I wrote more. I read more—too much, perhaps. Again, another one for the therapy couch.
I wanted to make sure I knew everything I could.

More important, I realised that if after this experience I still wanted to be a writer, then it was something that I really wanted to do. Receiving that rejection hurt, and I knew that it was only the beginning of what was to come on my writing journey.

Failing and then learning from that failure is something I have had to do many times since my initial rejection, and I suspect I will have many more screw ups to look forward to.


I’ll see you next month.


Why Change Can Be A Difficult Thing…


Without going into details— I know, you’ve found one, a millennial who doesn’t want to go into details— I am experiencing some big changes at the moment.
And although these changes are for the better, I feel anxious about them. I’ve always found change hard. Many people do, so I thought I’d write a blog post looking at some of the reasons why change can be a difficult thing.

When you’re uncertain

Sometimes you know a change is needed. You’re stuck in a rut. Relationship. Job. And you know that you need to do something about it.
But what?
Some of the ideas you come up with will be no go areas, but some will have promise, and those are the ones that can fill your mind with dread for many hours.
What if I’m not capable? What if I get it wrong? What if I end up in an even worse position?

What if my life does get better and I don’t like that it has?! (I know, the mind works in infuriatingly mysterious ways…)


When it’s unexpected

I’m pregnant.
No, I’m not, but what if your significant other one day came over to you whilst you were enjoying a solitary tea for two and let you know that she was pregnant. You weren’t trying for a baby. You had discussed it, but you hadn’t been planning on becoming parents any time soon.

What do you do?
You’re happy because you will be bringing a life into this world, but what about money? We don’t have enough. And what about a house? We can’t afford one. And my career! I don’t have one. Will I have time to start one before the bouncing bundle of joy arrives?


When it’s tough

Sometimes the change you need will require a lot of work. Perhaps it’ll mean that you’ll have to forgo your evenings out to the theatre or the like. Maybe it’ll mean really early mornings and extremely late nights for the next two months.

Perhaps it’ll mean learning something that is tedious and difficult in equal measure.
When change requires a lot of work, sometimes we don’t bother making that change. We don’t think we have it in us to do it. We procrastinate. We think of all the real and imagined reasons for why we cant do it. And so we don’t.


When you don’t want to change

Life is good. You know you can’t stay at your parent’s house forever, but it’s so much easier here.
You can plan your next career move without having to worry about paying bills or cooking your own meals.
But you’ve been given this opportunity? And it requires not only that you move out but also that you move to the other side of the world. You could bring your parents along for the ride, but is that the right thing to do?

Change is difficult, but most things are reversible. And if you can’t reverse it, then, well, at least you won’t go on wondering what if anymore. Plus, hair grows back.

More quickly in some places than others.


When You’re Too Nice…

Saying No

When you’re too nice, you spend most of your time doing other people’s jobs.
“You need to leave work early? Okay, I’ll finish your paperwork for you.”
“Really, you don’t mind?”
“No, go on. You need to spend some time with your wife.”
Co-worker scurries out of office.
I’ll complete his work first. Then, I’ll move onto mine. I should get home at least ten minutes before the children go to bed.

When you’re too nice, you never voice your opinion.
“I hate this president.”
He seems okay, actually. “Yeah, he’s the worst.”
“He obviously doesn’t know what he’s doing.”
Actually, he seems to be doing a good enough job. “I know. He’s useless.”

When you’re too nice, you let people unload on you. All. Of. The. Time.
“So, I haven’t told you what he did yesterday, have I?”
Shake head.
“Well, he forgot to pick the children up from school, so I had to leave work early to do it, and when I came home, I realised that he hadn’t done the weekly shop, so I had to do it. He didn’t have his mobile on, so I couldn’t contact him, and-
The doctor walks in. “The patient needs her rest now. Thanks for coming to visit her everyday. I’m sure she appreciates it.”
“No problem. I like talking to her.”


When you’re too nice, you never make a choice of your own.
“Shall we go to the cinema or stay in tonight?”
Shrug shoulders. “It’s up to you. I don’t mind.”
“Pizza or Chinese takeaway?”
“I don’t mind. What do you think?”
Rolls eyes. “Should we try for a baby tonight?”
“Um, yeah. If that’s what you want, I’m game.”

When you’re too nice, you apologise for everything, especially when it isn’t your fault.
“That job interview was a complete waste of time. I shouldn’t have listened to you when you said I had a chance of getting it.”
“I’m sorry.”
“And now I’ve been humiliated. It’s going to take me weeks to get over this. How could you?”
“I really thought you were ready. Did you go over the interview notes?”
“I can’t believe you’re trying to turn this around and blame it on me. I knew I wasn’t ready.”
But you said that you were. That’s why I said you should go for it. “I’m sorry.”

When you’re too nice, you don’t admit when somebody has hurt your feelings.
“I don’t know how to say this, but I actually wanted Claire to come with me.”
“Oh right. Okay.”
“You’re sweet in your way, but you’re a bit boring.”
Nods head in agreement.
“You don’t say very much, and I just know that Claire would have had me in stitches by now.”
“Yeah, you’re right. She’s very funny.”


When you’re too nice, you go to great lengths to avoid conflict.
“So, he’s leaving you tonight?”
“To live with his mistress?”
“And he’s taking the children with him?”
“And you’re not going to do anything?”
“I’ll wait until tomorrow. Then I’ll act.”

Are you a people pleaser?