Wednesday, 7 February 2018

A Phone Moan Poem

Ironic, I suppose, to share this on a blog (although I am writing at a computer) - fully aware, that most people reading this will be reading it from their phones!

I'm of a generation where making plans involved thinking days, even weeks in advance. Deciding on a time and location and sticking to it. Changes involved picking up a phone and hoping someone was in, and within earshot of the phone (on its special table in the hall, or screwed to a wall in the kitchen). Most of the time plans only changed because they had to, it was too much of a faff to be fickle.

We were unavailable. 

We had to be patient. 

The lack of immediacy in communication was in no way seen as a sign of rejection or a cause for argument.

Life went on.

It was fine.

If I wasn't self-employed, truth be told, I probably wouldn't bother with a smartphone.

My mobile really isn't a good way to contact me.

I don't do phones.

Most of the working week it's on silent as I'm in meetings, with a client, or don't want to be disturbed because I'm catching up between clients and meetings! And at weekends, it's not unusual for me to simply forget to switch it on.

I realise this confession makes me a freak of nature in this day and age!

I'd like to point out that I'm not in my 70's (half that age, actually, give or take).

I don't do phones, and here's a poem about it...

I Don't Do Phones

I don't do phones.

Halfway through speaking,
their phone begins beeping,
"I really must take this,"
I sit silently, and take it.

I don't do phones. 
When someone decided
attention, divided;
is somehow connecting,
yet it feels like rejection.

I don't do phones. 

There's an App for this,
there's an App for that
you can't make an App for happiness.

I don't do phones. 

...I am being mildly facetious, of course, but still, there is an important message here. 

Look up from your phone occasionally. 

Life is better experienced through your senses than a screen. 

(EPIC FAIL. Amazing view and you take a Selfie!)


Live it, and live it with the people you are with in that moment!

(EPIC FAIL. With company and you're both looking at your phone!)

Share my poem, let's spread the word!

(I don't do phones - a poem by Amy C Fitzjohn)

Monday, 22 January 2018

Vision Boards, Woo Woo or Wow?

I don't buy into the notion that you can 'manifest' what you want, as if by magic. But, I do believe that if you know what you want to achieve, you have a 'vision', it gives you a bigger picture to strive for and something to focus on.

In a funny sort of way, the more you talk about something, think about it and are reminded of it - especially in a visual way - the more likely you are to achieve it.

It's in the forefront of your mind, even if only on a subconscious level, and therefore you're more likey to strive for it.

2017 was the first time I'd ever done a 'Vision Board' for my business, and although everything on there didn't come true, as such, it kept me focused.

What is a Vision Board?

It's a simple, visual way to capture the essence of your future goals. It can be written, it can be motivating words, pictures or a combination.

Personally, I love the experience of channelling my inner child by cutting and sticking a collage!

Here's my 2017 board. I had it stuck to the wall by desk.

Things that stick out for me, still, are...

"I can do this"

On reflection, all of these featured in my life last year. It was a year of change, of connection, of renewed confidence I was on the right path.

This year, feeling more settled in my business and with a clear plan ahead, the vison board I've created for 2018 has a reflective and creative quality to it.

"Go with the flow"
And the giant image of a book stand out the most for me.

Why Do It? 

I saw this great blog on the Watertight Marketing website. It nicely summarises eight reasons why you would want a vision board for your business.

In summary, the 8 things are:

  1. Synthesise your business and life goals
  2. Create emotional attachment to what you're building
  3. Get on the same page with leadership team
  4. Activate your selective attention
  5. Create a powerful motivation tool
  6. Use as part of your recruitment process
  7. Hold yourself accountable
  8. Create a bring forward list!

Personally, my favourite of these is 'activate your selective attention'. 

We're so busy in our lives and businesses we forget to stop, breathe, appreciate how far we've come and what we've achieved. When they are part of your vision you take notice when they happen! 

We can celebrate every small victory.

With that in mind, I was inspired by the suggestion on the Watertight Marketing blog of a 'Happy Memory Jar'. 

Whenever something on the vison board is achieved, make a note, pop it in the jar, then open it at the end of the year.

So here it is...

My jar!

(A great excuse to use some of my jounaling stickers!)

Less than a month into the year and I already have two things in it!

I look forward to opening this jar at the end of 2018 and seeing how far this year will take me! 

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

A Year in Insta-Pics

'Tis the Season... to reflect on another trip around the sun.

Social Media is essentially just a microblog, and a great way to look back on what's happened throughout the year. 

My Twitter feed is endless, and Facebook much the same - aside from Facebook randomly flashing up 'memories' from years back - but Instagram, is a great way to look back on a chronological slideshow of snapshots.
Here I am...

Amy's Pretty Little Insta-Feed

(Follow me and I'll follow back..)
I'm going to go ahead and admit that I'm not a big fan of Instagram. 

As someone who uses a PC or Laptop as my primary device (I'm a writer, I need a keyboard), it irritates me that I'm forced to faff around with a stupid phone to share things; especially when the image was taken with a 'proper camera' (yes, some of us still use those). 

I end up copying images from my camera to Dropbox or emailing it to myself and saving it to the phone and then sharing it (pain in the backside!). 

I also find Instagram generally a bit clunky to use (although I do like the filters). As a consequence, I only post a picture every few days and it's often on impulse. It means my feed genuinely is a neat visual record of what was in my brain that day.

Here's some of my favourite pics from a rather lovely year...

A year filled with coffee, beer, cake, novelty stationery, books, writing, flowers, hats, art, beaches, cats and Bristolness!

What were your favourite moments (immortalised on Instagram or otherwise) from 2017?

Thursday, 30 November 2017

24 Reasons to be Grateful This Christmas

I'm going to say it... 

The 'C' word!

Christmas is a no-go zone in the Morse household before December.

It's a strange time of year for us, neither I or my husband are Christian's, we have no religion. 

I'm as much a Christian as I am a Jew, a Muslim or Buddhist - I just happen to have been born in a country founded on Christian doctrine, where, even though the church and state were separated by the Magna Carta, still ties its national holidays and values to Christian ones.

Our families are a mix of believers: my mum considers herself a Christian (although she's not a churchgoer). My dad is best described as agnostic. My in-laws, although only ad-hoc and special occasion churchgoers, consider themselves Christians. Whereas, like me, my siblings have no religion. My husband's brother and his family, are however, practicing, churchgoing Christians.

For my husband's family, Christmas is a BIG deal! For his mum especially (and no one dares defy Mother Morse!).

My family, are much more chilled out about the whole affair, as long as we find a way to all get together and eat (always a favourite pastime in my family) they're happy. No one really cares if no cards or presents are exchanged. It’s all about food and booze induced merriment (whenever we get together, that's generally the plan)!

Gifts and cards are however exchanged with my family - mostly out of equity - because, the very idea of 'Secret Santas', or agreeing NOT to buy gifts for my husband's family is deemed outrageously unacceptable and inappropriate. 

The merest half-joked suggestion of playing down the spending spree, going on holiday instead or NOT buying each other crap for the sake of having to buy stuff and feeding the commercial machine - is met with cool silences and narrow-eyed glares!

As a non-Christian, childless and independent couple, enjoying the festive frenzy proves to be a challenge for us. 

It's the idea of 'forced fun' and 'social expectations' that doesn’t sit well with either of us. It sucks the joy from the whole process!
Because I'm naturally positive - (I can't help myself, I'll always make the best of things) -  I'll tolerate the capitalistic BS, vomiting of sparkly plastic, tedious earworms of odious musak - for the opportunity to spend time with the people I love and skive off for a couple of weeks at the end of the year. 

I'm also a Christmas birthday babe so I get extra excuses to drink Baileys, eat cake and wear a glittery frock!

My response to the excesses and wastage of Christmas is generally 'Thriftmas'. 

I enjoy making hampers for gifts, with a mix of homemade goodies and shop bits, all packaged up to look expensive! It's a great excuse to make jam and get carried away buying ribbons and baskets!

As a non-Christian, for me, Christmas is about being grateful for what you have and the people in your life. That's what I celebrate.

It got me thinking...

If Christmas is about gratitude, then rather than the whole month of December being about commercial excess, it should be about being thankful.

In the run up to Christmas, I shall be sharing 1 thing a day that I'm grateful for, using the hashtag: #AdventGratitude 
24 reasons to be grateful in December...
Will you join me?

Look out for updates on my Twitter and Instagram accounts.


Wednesday, 15 November 2017

How Setting Yourself a Writing Challenge Will Help You Get Sh1t Done!

November is National Novel Writing Month -  NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo is an international movement to encourage budding wordsmiths to spend a focussed period of time, working on a book. 

The idea is to write 50,000 words in a month, which translates to roughly 1,600 words a day. 

A tall order and a tough challenge. 

You have to be committed to write that many words every day. You need a plan, you need discipline and you need to not faff around self-editing as you go! The idea is just to let the words come, stream of consciousness. It’s the one time when quantity trumps quality, because the point of the exercise is to get the words out of your head an onto the page, so you can do something with them. 

I’ve successfully completed the challenge twice. 

Once in 2013 when I started writing my second book, Solomon’s Secrets and once in 2015 when I was writing my 4th book Gabriel's Game, Part 2: The Black Knight.

After writing and publishing the four novels of the Sheridan and Blake series in quick succession over four years, I’ve not started a new fiction project for around 18 months. 

Most of my writing in 2016 and 2017 has been non-fiction, blogs, content and training materials as I have built up my Amy Morse consultancy business

However, one of my goals for 2018 is to publish another fiction book

I shared some tips in a previous blog on planning and executing a successful NaNoWriMo, based on my experience with my books, but NaNo has not been my only writing challenge. 

I completed and published my first book, The Bronze Box in 2013 as part of a 365 project – I did one thing a day for a whole year towards my goal of publishing a book. 

That was how I started blogging (read the story here) But I have also done a 'mini nano' in August and shared my tips in another blog

It’s time I took on another writing challenge. 

I recently read an article by Marc Guberti about banking a year’s worth of blog content. It’s inspired me to get ahead of myself for 2018 and really nail my content marketing for my Amy Morse, Write Your Way To Success consultancy business. 

The secret to completing any writing challenge is to break it down into manageable steps. 

50,000 words sounds a lot in 30 days (and it is). But when you break it down, 1,600 words a day
sounds more manageable. 

Writing a book is a big deal but really, it's just one word after another...

When you break it down further, that’s 2 stints a day of writing 800 words. 

You can write 800 words in an hour if you focus and put your mind it. 
(More if you voice transcribe it!)

So, 1 hour in the morning and 1 hour in the afternoon and boom, you’ve written your 1,600 words. 

So, how does writing a year’s worth of blog content break down? 

I’m going to set my deadline as the end of the year. 

That gives me just under 2 months. 

I need 24 articles – 2 blogs a month and I’ll also write some ad hoc content in between, and continue to host guests so I can publish a blog every week. 

In my coaching practice with businesses, I recommend minimum 1 blog a month, working up to once a week. 

As a seasoned blogger and writing coach, I’ll be sticking to my routine of weekly blogging. 

So, we have 6 weeks until the end of the year, 24 blogs. That’s 4 blogs a week. 

I’m going to draft these blogs; they won’t be finished, so, I will draft them, then polish them as and when I publish (the chances are, I’ll probably want to change them on the day I publish them anyway). 

If we say an average blog is 800 words, which takes me an hour to bash out in draft form, that’s 24 hours of work. 

Let’s say, 4 hours a week or 1 hour 4 times a week. 

So, twice a week, I need to allow 2 hours for writing, for example, an hour Tuesday morning and afternoon then an hour Thursday Morning and afternoon. 

Or, I could write one article a day and easily have enough content written by the end of the year, but realistically, there will be days when I won’t find time to write as I have a busy schedule, especially in November. 

Another option, and I enjoy doing from time to time, is to take writing retreat days

I take myself off to somewhere for the day with the intention of just writing. 

I go to a hotel or a coffee shop and pitch camp for the day. 

It’s important to plan ahead and decide in advace what the goal for the day will be. 

However, experience has taught me that if I don't write regularly, and then try to cram it in a day, it rarely works out. 

For me, a combination of some regular, short stints of writing and a couple of chunks of time where I just write, is the most manageable and productive combination. 

So, my plan is to write a couple of times a week, plus have a couple of retreat days.

24 blog articles in 6 weeks - could you do that? 

Tell me in the comments, or select a letter...

a) Hell yeah! That's easy, I write every day!
b) If I made a plan, I could pull it off!
c) Maybe... I might need a kick up the backside to do it, though!
d) Maybe... but I'd get stuck for ideas!
e) No way! I'd never fit it in!