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Joanne Phillips

A Writers Journey

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motivation

Mission Statements – How I Rediscovered Mine and Why That Matters

Do you have a mission statement? If you work for an organisation, there is probably one embedded somewhere in the ethos and culture of your daily life – or possibly even printed in bold on a wall somewhere. Way back in 2012, I wrote my own – the aim was to focus my attention and realise the point of being a writer, for me.

mission

Recently, writer and broadcaster David Berner got in touch with me and asked if he could use my mission statement as an exemplar in a piece he was writing. Obviously I was thrilled, not only that he thought my author statement so worthy, but also because it jolted me into going back and revisiting it myself!

Here is what I found:

I write stories to entertain and offer a temporary escape into another life. I create interesting characters who may linger with the reader long after she’s finished the story. I write about characters who learn to examine their lives – their motivations, their hopes and fears – and find the courage to change. I write about the important stuff, but with a light touch. I write about the four Ls: life, love, loss and lies – including the lies we tell ourselves. And yes, I want to change the world. A little tiny bit of it, anyway.

It’s fascinating to discover that, after 4 and a half years, my ‘mission’ has not changed one bit. Even though since the day I wrote that post I have changed direction many times, studied for a Masters, written in different genres, seen lots of changes in self-publishing and publishing in general, and been through many personal challenges that have changed me as a writer, I still have EXACTLY the same feeling about my writing practice and what I want it to achieve.

You can read David’s post about mission statements here – it’s well worth a look. What I’d love to know is, do you have one? Are you inspired to have a stab at writing one now? And if you did, would you print it out on a big sheet of paper and stick it to your wall, instead of leaving it to languish until some awesome person from the other side of the pond gets in touch and says, Hey …

 

Why I Write

Today I’m blogging over at Lindsay Stanberry-Flynn’s website, talking about why I write. If you pop over there now you can read my ‘author mission statement’ and find out why I think I should have been a counsellor! 😉 Please leave a comment on Lindsay’s blog or just say hello.

Why I Write – click here to read

Born to write!
Born to write!

Coming tomorrow – my review of Linda Gillard’s latest novel Cauldstane.

Every Silver Lining Has A Cloud

Happy New Year! Can you believe my last post was on 22nd December? The shame – I’ve let you all down, I’ve been neglectful, lazy, selfish … Oh, what the hell. You’ve been fine without me, and it was Christmas after all. Who blogs at Christmas? 😉

To get us into the swing of 2014 I have a quote I came across recently in a book about training for a marathon (yes, I’m hooked on running now, but more on that later in the month):

“Each goal achieved is equally a dream destroyed.” ~ Reinhold Messner 

I read that and thought, Wow! Really? And then it hit me how true it is. When there is something – some goal – you want to achieve, you focus on it until (hopefully) it becomes a reality. But once you’ve made it, once you’ve hit the target, what then? The goal is achieved, but the dream no longer exists.

I think I’ve always felt this way, but I’ve never been able to put it as elegantly as Messner. From those jobs I yearned for but then felt empty and deflated after a couple of weeks of working, to the personal goals I set myself only to feel oddly unsatisfied once they were reached, there have been many successes (and failures, of course) but also many dreams destroyed by success.

And nowhere is this more important than with writing. Here is what my journey has looked like so far:

Goal – finish a novel (tick)

Goal – get an agent/publisher (fail)

Goal – publish the novel (tick)

Goal – sell the novel and find readers (tick)

Goal – write another novel (tick)

Goal – become an indie author with multiple novels (tick)

You see where I’m going with this, right? So far that’s quite a few dreams achieved-stroke-destroyed. The way to keep going is, of course, to set new goals, to dream new dreams. And I will … I promise. Although, these days they are more like plans than goals – I’m an author now, I have a business plan, a set of targets to reach – and I’m not complaining about that, I’m just saying it’s different now than it was when I was just a new writer full of promise. Full of dreams …

The observant among you will have noticed that there is one dream in that list that has yet to be destroyed. And that will be my goal for this year. I’m proud of being indie, but not too proud to say loud and clear I want to find an agent to represent me and a publisher to publish my books. Why? I hear you scream. Haven’t you just spent the best part of two years telling everyone in the blogosphere how wonderful self-publishing is?

Well, yes I have, and I will continue to do so, because it is. And I’m not going to stop self-publishing – I’m greedy; I want to be traditionally published as well! But every silver lining has a cloud, and sometimes it’s pretty illuminating to stop for a moment and think about that.

ID-100200370Image courtesy of Supertrooper / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

How (and why) I Ran the Telford 10K

On Sunday I ran the Telford 10k – my first ever 10k run (or 6.2 miles) – and I did it without walking or stopping at all. That said, I do run very, very slowly! 11 weeks ago I was just recovering from a really bad virus, I hadn’t exercised for ages and I was pretty unfit. My first run was 8 minutes of pain, but I vowed to myself that I would keep at it, and the 10k run in December was my goal.

I’m quite good at keeping secrets 😉 Apart from the two friends who told me about the event, I didn’t tell a soul. Not even my husband knew until I started to suffer with shin splints and was in chronic pain – and he started to wonder why I was coming home from those long ‘walks’ so completely knackered! Now I’ve completed the race, and spilled the beans, I know some of my family think I was insane to keep it to myself. So why did I?

At the start of the run - the 'before' picture :)
At the start of the run – the ‘before’ picture 🙂

When I started out, I knew there were two kinds of reactions I’d get from anyone I told. People who cared about me, and knew how ill I’d been, might be worried and try to put me off. I didn’t want to hear that. Or, they might be really supportive and excited for me, and try to encourage me by asking how it was going etc. I didn’t want to hear that either! Right up until the morning of the run, I had no idea if I would even go through with it (I was so nervous!), and I also had no idea if something – bad back, another virus, my thyroid – would prevent me from doing it anyway. My desire to keep it secret was partly superstitious, I think.

Now it’s all over and done with and I’m absolutely chuffed to bits that I took up the challenge. In less than 3 months I’ve gone from fit-for-nothing to running over 6 miles. I feel fantastic. And I’m going to stick at it – I’m already planning my next event!

Absolutely shattered! But so relieved it was over.
Absolutely shattered! But so relieved it was over.

And because this is, after all, a writing blog, here are some of the things I’ve learned about motivation and stickability through training for this run:

  • Slow and steady is absolutely fine. If you are a natural sprinter, that’s fine too, but if you prefer to take it slowly, writing a little each day will get you to the end just as fast as the person who writes in big bursts then takes days off to recover. (Well, okay, maybe not quite as fast in some cases, but you will get there too!)
  • Keeping it to yourself can be really helpful. Ever had a story idea you shared too soon, only to find so many holes in the plot you couldn’t face writing the thing? Keeping something to yourself gives it time to grow and develop, without being exposed to other people’s opinions and ideas.
  • Goals sometimes work better if they are just out of reach. Forget the achievable part of the SMART targets acronym – sometimes a goal should be just outside of what you think is achievable if it is going to really stretch you. Aiming for 3 books a year might seem impossible – and maybe it is – but if you aim for 3 you might end up with 2. If you aim for 2 you’ll probably manage 1 and a half at best 🙂
  • Reward your writing efforts. I got a medal for the 10k run – and I’m going to think of suitable rewards for writing milestones too. Perhaps a new notebook for the next 10,000 words completed, something like that.
What do you want, a medal? Hell, yes!
What do you want, a medal? Hell, yes!

What’s great about applying lessons from one part of life to another is that you get this kind of synergy – everything supports and informs everything else. Or maybe it’s just that I can’t ever stop thinking like a writer, even when I’m running. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

PS: For those of you who are interested in that type of thing, I did the run in just over an hour and 13 minutes.

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