Low Point

I think I might have mentioned once or twice that I like to plan, set myself goals and then try and achieve them. I set myself a pretty hefty one at the beginning of July – 50,ooo words to precise. As tomorrow is the last day of the month and it also happens to be the day I take myself off to Lancaster for a week of writing at the MA Summer School, I thought I should probably put a marker in the sand on the whole word count thing now. Deep breath.


Yep, a measly 15,000 words. Just in case you are as rubbish at maths as me, that’s 35,000 words off the target.

I feel like I should be self-flagulating right now. I could list the reasons for my complete lack of goal attainment, but they are all related to the mundanities of life that everyone has to put up with – work, house moves (mother-in-law’s not mine), sick child, absent husband etc. The usual.

So, although those 15,000 words constitute two new chapters and and some editing, I’m generally feeling a bit rubbish about my inability to get into a consistent writing pattern. Also, I’ve just had to look up the correct spelling of ‘measly’. (Dear God!)

I’m hoping that next week’s submersion amongst writerly types will pull me out of this mire.

This is possibly the most miserable blog post I have ever written. Anyway, I’m considering it as a much needed slap across the face. Virtual self-flagulation if you will. Whoop-de-doo.



J.F.D.I.: A Girl’s Guide To Motivation

Kate Morton: see what I mean about the hair?

Whenever I’m hesitating or procrastinating over something, I remind myself of something one of my old bosses used to say on a near daily basis, ‘J.F.D.I.’ The first time he said it to me, I remember looking at him in puzzlement – I was only twenty two and wasn’t familiar with the wonderful world of acronyms.

‘Just F*@!in’ Do It!’ he said, smiling.

For some reason the fact that he included the ‘F’ word in that little phrase made the order more palatable, less like an order, more like a friendly suggestion. Which is odd, because swearing in the work place is generally frowned upon, but anyway, I did just f’*@k’in’ do whatever it was I was wavering over and have incorporated the mantra into my general approach to  life ever since. So last month, when I realised that nearly a year has passed since I started the MA and I’m no closer to finishing my novel, I thought to myself, ‘Alex, J.F.D.I.!!!’

So I have and along the way I’ve been finding ways to keep my motivation levels up, because now the term is over, it would be pretty easy to take my foot off the gas and have myself a little well earned rest. But writing isn’t like that, at least not for me or for other writers I know. It’s something you can’t help doing. It’s on a par with sleeping and eating. And so, despite my idea that I would have a little rest for a week or so, it didn’t really work out like that.

First of all, I went to hear Kate Morton talk about her new book, The Distant Hours at Holker Hall in Cumbria. I’ve always been an advocate of learning from those who’ve done it, having done a lot of ‘best practice’ shadowing in my work life and I guess that’s what these author events are like to aspiring writers in a way: a chance to listen to how someone else did what you are striving to do. Anyway, I am a massive Kate Morton fan and now that I’ve met her in the flesh, I’m even more so. A mother of two, in her early thirties, she’s written three books and is already a best selling, multi-national, multimillion pound author, who also seems to be doing a doctorate, teaching a bit and leading a relatively normal family life. And did I mention her perfect hair? It’s perfect.  I asked her a couple of questions which she answered very eloquently but refrained from asking her where she got her boots from, for fear of coming across as not very literary. But, let me tell you, they were very pretty. And if dreams really do come true, then my life will one day look like hers and I will have good hair and great shoes on all the time.  Anyway, I came away from that event more determined than ever – I’ve got to get it finished! Also, I booked a hair appointment.

But I’ve been saying that for ages (not about the hair). What can I do that’s going to make it happen this time? How can I write the 70,000 words I need to finish in a very short time? I suddenly remembered NaNoWriMo, an annual novel writing project which takes place in November every year, with the aim of motivating writers to write 50,000 words in a month. Okay, so it’s not November I thought, but what’s to stop me trying to write 50,000 words in a month? The answer: nothing!


So I’m doing it. 50,000 words in July. Wish me luck!