Avoiding the spiral of doubt and shame


I was directed towards this post on gamasutra – http://gamasutra.com/blogs/EthanLevy/20140320/213611/Escaping_the_Indie_Shame_Spiral.php – which has some really interesting things to say on motivation and  how to start to avoid the “shame spiral” that I think anyone who sets themselves goals and struggles to achieve them will be familiar with.

It goes something like this:

Start something with excitement, ambition and impossible goals. Fail to meet impossible goals. Beat self up about not meeting them, think work done so far is rubbish and you’d be better off anywhere but here.

Sounds familiar! There’s usually a stage in a project when you think everything you’ve written or created should simply go in the bin after all, or when you’re trying to lose weight, and don’t meet your target so go out and get a doughnut to make you feel better!

Reading the post and some of the comments is a great idea. There’s some really interesting points in it, like:

  • Allocate ‘points’ to projects which represent time. nothing should have more than 3 points, which is half a week. It’ll help you be more realistic about what you can do in the time you have – so you won’t set impossible goals.
  • Allocate points to personal tasks too, so you don’t get a false sense of achievement when you’ve balanced your cheque book and emptied the laundry!
  • Track what went well and what didn’t. No judgement, just hard data.

I also really like the idea of a commitment device – basically, promise to deliver something publicly and then doing so. If you’re trying to get in shape, make it a sponsored run, if you’re writing a novel, post on Wattpad regularly. I’ve been trying to do that more on this blog, making sure I post more often, and would like to extend that to writing fiction for both it and perhaps Wattpad as well. Short story competitions are also great – but remember not to set the impossible deadlines!

What would your ideal commitment device be?




There and back again….


Not an original title, I grant you. But fairly true nonetheless. I have been here before. I have returned.

January’s always a funny time of year. It’s a time when people at work are saying no to cakes (highly unusual, doesn’t last) and when there are more runners on the streets as I drive home. It’s when all the adverts are about weight loss, debt reduction, and end-of-season furniture sales. A time to make resolutions and have, in the next breath, someone tell you that they don’t make them because nobody ever keeps to them – as though the possible failure is reason enough not to try. For me, January’s always a bit strange because it’s still very dark, cold and rainy – not the weather anyone would want to start running in if you ask me! Work-wise, it’s busy with exams and so on, and personally just winding back up again from the Christmas holiday.

November/December kind of vanished into a blur on the blog for several reasons. Work went a bit haywire – it always does in the autumn, with extra marking, working classes a bit harder, everyone gets more fraught towards Christmas and needs a bit more of a push.

Personally, it’s been incredibly exciting – I got engaged at the beginning of November, and the next six weeks disappeared in a glowy haze when any time I didn’t spend working was spent musing on pinterest and looking Rock My Wedding, Boho Bride and the awesome Offbeat Bride. I am very happily affianced (and use that word whenever possible to describe myself!) and am really enjoying looking around at ideas, thinking, pre-planning and hoping to rediscover some love of crafting that I haven’t really done for a while now. It also turns out that I’m a little more into the whole wedding planning process than I thought I would be – I think it’s my immense love of organising! We’re also still looking for a house, and obviously Christmas/New Year is nearly three weeks of full-on stuff.

But – all that has really hammered my writing over the past couple of months, and I’ve not really got as much done as I would have liked to, and now everything’s settling into a little more normality, work’s easing off slightly, it seems a good time to reflect and review where I was last year and where I want to be this year.

Don't Give Up

Jim Rohn, I think, suggests doing this much more often than annually. I think he suggests spending a weekend a month reviewing your goals and resetting them because everything drifts by degrees. The analogy he uses is going to the moon – it’s such a far-off target that if your aim is off by just a few degrees, you miss it by miles. So, every once in a while, you check your course. Check why you went off track and fix it. Make the adjustments that you need to. Reinvigorate your ideals. Over the next couple of posts, I’m going to do just that – think about what happened, where I went wrong – and right – and what I need to do to keep that progress going.



2013 Achievements


Publishing on Amazon kindle – my short stories Shadowed and Blank for Your Message were published in February and May, and the first in what I hope will become the Chronology Protection Agency series was published in August. I decided this year I wanted to put work out there where people would actually read it – and they actually have. People I genuinely don’t know have paid for my writing. That is very cool.

See my author page at Amazon

I read several books on writing, including Becoming a Writer, From 2k to 10k, Stephen King’s On Writing, and have tried to apply some of what they said to my own writing practice.

I led a creative writing day-long workshop at school with some very interesting young writers.

I read 45 new books, logging them on the Goodreads Challenge for 2013. My 2014 goal is to read 50 new books, which definitely will be challenging!

I became affianced (that word again! And I choose to list it as an achievement)

I continued to become happier, more confident, more self-aware and, I hope, generous towards myself and others. Still a work in progress.

I wrote a short story and performed it at the Ilkley Literature Festival in October

Next….to consider my 2014 wishlist! And for no reason other than it’s pretty….a book picture!

Book igloo