Heading for Rio

For as long as I can remember I’ve needed engaging challenges to make me do stuff.

Having previously promised on this blog not to drone on about my laziness, I will simply say that I often find it hard to motivate myself to do things, even when I actually want to do them, and I sometimes wonder why this is.

I read an article recently by Robert of the Embrace PossibilityΒ blog that offered a suggestion. In his words: “The reason we struggle with being disciplined is because we lose sight of what we really want and take action for a lesser want instead.”

That’s certainly true for me. I want to get on with writing, but I mess about on Twitter and check Facebook updates instead. Once I’ve had my fill of social media I remind myself that I want to write, so I go and clean the bathroom.

My usual attitude is not so much this:

Usain Bolt getting on with the job – image courtest of digitaltrackandfield.com

As this:

Messing about on Twitter – image courtesy of sandierpastures.com

However, I have also noticed that if I set myself specific challenges that grab me enough and need to be completed in a set timescale I can actually achieve them.

Right now, at the end of the London Olympics, there are athletes the world over already setting their sights on Rio de Janeiro in 2016. They’re arranging their training regimes and planning a number of targets over the next four years, with the big aim of taking part in the next Olympic Games. To me, who finds it challenging to plan the next 4 days, that is quite a staggering thought, and their inspiring attitudes have made me decide to make my own personal plan for the next 4 years of my life.

I’ve been asking myself recently what I can do that would bring me a sense of real satisfaction. I know that I can do something difficult if I put my mind to it and want it enough, but in order for me to have any hope of achieving it I have to have those two elements: determination and desire. Part of me wants to challenge myself to do something I feel is almost too big a struggle for me, and another part of me wants to find something easier, but I think I can satisfy both types of challenge by making the one big difficult thing my main aim and several smaller, easier, goals my stepping stones to getting there.

One thing that has plagued me for years is the desire to write a novel. I’m overflowing with admiration for someone like Terry Pratchett, who can not only create an entire alternative universe complete with realistic characters, but can churn out a book or more every year for years on end with astonishing dedication and skill (and it’s all the more remarkable since he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2007).

Given my years of frustrating procrastination, writing a novel is going to be my big goal for 2016, and I need to devise a series of steps that will take me from where I am now (nothing written at all) to the end result. What I want to achieve by 2016 is not only to have written the book, but also (no doubt after many rejections) to have found a publisher and got it published. I believe it takes about 18 months to get a novel published in the UK after it’s been accepted, and publishers can take 3 months or more to reply to submissions, so my aim is to finish the book in 2014, two years from now.

On the face of it, two years seems like a long time to write a novel, but I honestly think I might struggle to do it in that time. However, I am determined to give it my best shot.

Above my desk, along with my motivational card:

image courtest of ncdadogeball.com

oops, wrong one, I do of course mean this one:

image of poster by Karen Tribett, courtesy of allposters.co.uk

I have stuck up a selection of photos chopped out of newspapers of Olympic athletes from this year’s Games. Β The people’s favourite, Usain Bolt, is naturally up there, along with the marvellous Mo Farah, and many others. Not all of those at this year’s Games will be heading for Rio, but many of them will, along with others I haven’t even heard of yet.

My thinking behind giving myself this 4 year plan is that as I trudge along, often questioning myself and wondering if I can really achieve my ambitions, I’ll be doing it in excellent company. When I struggle to get out of bed in the morning and feel as if my brain is running backwards all day, the same could well be happening to some of these athletes. There is going to be, I hope, some sort of fellow feeling that I can draw encouragement from.

I don’t know if anyone else might think this a worthwhile pursuit, but perhaps there’s a goal you’d like to achieve, and if so maybe you could use the next Olympic Games as your deadline, too. This year’s Olympics has inspired me more than any other, but perhaps the next one will be the best so far, if I can celebrate the realisation of my own dreams along with those of 2016’s Olympians.

Incidentally, if you feel that having a little mascot to carry around with you might help you to stay inspired after the Olympics, you might like to knit your own Usain Bolt. The Radio Times has published details of how to do it here (utterly perplexing to a non-knitter like myself, but no doubt perfectly clear to knitting gurus):

image courtesy of olympixx.wordpress.com


49 thoughts on “Heading for Rio

  1. Go for it.
    I set myself a goal a number of years ago of getting something published.
    I wrote a childrens story, worked on it, polished it and set it off – Playdays magazine if I remember correctly.

    Only I sent the wrong version.
    What I sent had a page completely missing and the text ‘(something happens here)’ instead.
    It was rejected.

    I managed to lose the correct version with computer crashes and I no longer have any versions left.

    Maybe I should try again…..

    At the time I was feeling very creative and also produce art I liked, stained glass designs and a huge quantity of poetry,

    Something changed and I found that it all became quite a struggle to prouduce things I no longer liked.

    I’m back (slowly) doing stained glass again, time to try other things

    and good luck, I’ll be happy to proof read

    • That is a truly tragic tale, Geoff. My heart goes out to you with the submission, what a nightmare of a mistake! And then computer crashes and being unable to recover your story. Do you think you could rewrite it some day? It would be nice to think it was still there in your head somewhere after all the effort you put into it. I’m glad you’re doing the stained glass again, but it’s true that you can’t push these things, you have to want to do them for there to be any satisfaction from it. Thank you for the offer of proofreading, I haven’t even written a word yet!

  2. A great goal and very realistic. When I finally made a real effort to write a book I set agoal as well. I gave myself 3 years to complete it and broke it down to writing 1 chapter a month by writing at leats 1 hour a day. I completed a 20 chapter book in a little less than three years. It has been publ;ished and I have written 2 more since then. I think the key is to break it down into doable steps. (and give yoruself some wiggle room) If you dream it, you can do it!
    Cheers, Darlene
    (now that you wrote this post, you have a cheerleading team as well)

    • Thank you Darlene, and very well done on achieving your goals! Your experience is really encouraging, it’s great to hear from people who’ve already done what I want to do, and thank you for the tips on how to do it. I think that sort of regime would work for me too, a bit of self-discipline to make myself do something towards it every day, and to have those chapter goals to aim for. I’m in total agreement with you that if you dream it, you can do it, and I’m chuffed to bits to have a cheerleading team! πŸ™‚

  3. This is a wonderful goal, Lorna, and I like that you’ve linked your “finish line” with the next Olympics. You have already hopped quickly and effortlessly along a series of stepping stones, and I believe that they are all leading you along the path to your next goal.
    All you have to do is set your mind to it, and your body will follow. πŸ˜‰
    Best of luck!

  4. Yup, I went to a writers reading here and someone asked him how long to write a book and research it. He said indefinitely because research can take eons. (He is a historical writer) and that has happened to me. I get totally absorbed in the research projects (love British history) and really struggle to actually get it into readable form as it applies to my ancestors. You know they say you have to love what you do but that can be a distraction lol! And I even hung up my blog so I wouldn’t get sidetracked on that. Though I am sure the rainy days of winter will be of a help!

    • I can well imagine that researching something like that could consume you and go on and on, taking you down all sorts of different alleyways. You could so easily digress from the main story although hopefully in doing so also add something of value to it. This might be where strict self-discipline comes into play, although how you would achieve it I’m not sure. I’ve also been wondering if the dark winter days will be a help in the writing process, I hope so for both our sakes!

    • Thank you Jo, your description of the knitted Bolt made me laugh, but I have to say I agree, it is a little grotesque! I like those words, ‘good lass’, you put a big smile on my face. πŸ™‚

    • Thank you Mehmudah, I hope so too, but only time will tell. It’s certainly not outwith the realms of possibility, but it will take effort on my part and if I don’t achieve it I’ll have only myself to blame. Onwards and upwards!

  5. So many thoughts which ring true with me too, I too struggle to get out of bed & get motivated (or is it just because it’s 5am?) I never thought about knitting myself a personal mascot (lol, I just can’t knit!) and one day, social media will be the demise of me! Well perhaps not my demise but it is a handy time waster!

    I remember someone posting about a 48hr detox, an electronic one! No google, Facebook, twitter, blogging etc and 48 hrs. For a tech junkie like me, it’s a nightmare, but imagine what you could achieve to kick off your goal! I’m sure if Wilde, Hemmingway and others had distractions like ours, they mightn’t have been quite so prolific in their careers!

    • I would struggle to get out of bed at 5am too! Once you get into the habit I suppose it’s doable but still it’s not easy, especially if you’re particularly tired. That’s a good way to start your day off though I think, and I plan to get up earlier now that I have this goal to aim for (maybe not quite that early though…).

      I tried a sort of detox on holiday earlier this year and it was hard at first but it actually felt great to be freed from social media chains for a short time. I wouldn’t want to be without blogging, etc. for too long but a break can be very refreshing. It’s an interesting point about authors who didn’t have the distraction of the internet, I wonder if they would have churned out as many books as they did if they’d had it. On the other hand, if they wanted to research something it would take an awful lot longer – no emails, no immediate access to every possible subject under the sun, what a thought!

  6. I can sympathise with this because I recognise some of the symptoms in myself! That’s an excellent idea to give yourself the goal of 2016 to work towards, and you are more than capable of writing this novel! I think we all have a lesson to learn, to hold on to our original dreams and not to compromise because it’s easier. Go for it, Lorna!

    • Thank you Jo, I can’t tell you how encouraging it is to have this sort of empathy. I get so annoyed with myself sometimes for not achieving things, and it really helps to know that other people struggle too (in theory I know this, but in practice it’s easy to only concentrate on the success stories). I appreciate your belief in me, thank you, I’m off to write the first words of this novel….! πŸ™‚

  7. Excellent idea to set yourself an Olympic goal! As I’ve mentioned before, I struggle to finish tasks I start – for me I think it’s a lack of self confidence where I don’t believe I can actually achieve something really great, so I’d rather leave it half done or make an excuse (lack of time etc) as to why it didn’t go right. Having tens of thousands of people to cheer them on certainly helped Team GB to win gold medals so I think your own cheering squad here in blogland will definitely help you achieve your goal too Lorna!! Go for it πŸ™‚

    • Thank you Leanne, that’s very honest and I think that an awful lot of us are in the same boat. It’s impossible to really believe in yourself when doubt creeps in, and as you say it’s much easier to find excuses for not achieving things – I’ve done that enough in my time! It would be fascinating to be able to create a parallel universe in which this year’s Games were held, but without that huge homegrown support. I wonder just how many of our athletes would still achieve what they have. People have talked a lot about the energy of the crowds lifting the athletes, and although it’s difficult to prove I think we could feel it even watching on TV, which was amazing. I’m in total agreement with you about a personal cheering squad, I already feel the good wishes of my fellow bloggers and it helps enormously! πŸ™‚

    • Thank you Madhu, that’s certainly part of the deal, having a hunger for something. Another important part is having confidence and you get that by having other people believe in you, so I’m massively grateful to my cheering squad! πŸ™‚

  8. I know the feeling well of putting off something I should be doing if favour of something else so I identify with a lot of what you say at the start of this post. I think the *Rio Plan* is a brilliant one and I wish you so well with your writing. I love the knitted Usain Bolt but like you I am not a knitter.

    • Thank you, it’s lovely to have so much support! It’s at times like these that I wish I’d paid attention to knitting when I was taught as a child, but such is the benefit of hindsight.

  9. Good for you to have a goal that is something your heart really desires. I wish you all the very best with your novel. And I’d also say, remember to enjoy the process although having discipline to get on with writing isn’t always the most fun thing. It makes cleaning out your fridge so alluring sometimes!

    • Thank you Christine! I was assuming it was going to be a horrible toil, as it has been in the past when I’ve attempted fiction, and so it was with some trepidation that I began writing a couple of days ago, but I’m surprised at how much I’m enjoying it and getting to know my characters. I’ve only stopped because my wrists are hurting, so that’s a good sign in a way – I’m having to stop before I’m bored! You’re right about the fridge, it gives you a sense of satisfaction quite quickly, unlike writing a novel.

  10. Yay Lorna! I wholeheartedly back you in this writing thing. My beautiful and very wise writing friend Kim Wilkins has an excellent blog and facebook page that you may find helpful:


    Have you made a start yet? Novels and writing is very dear to my heart, as you well know. Would love to hear more about it.
    Much love to you,
    and a cheer squad of wallabies, koalas and cows waving green and gold pom poms and shouting GO LORNA!!!!!
    πŸ˜€ xoxo

    • Thank you Nicole, I’ll certainly check out Kim’s blog and FB page. Any help I can get will be much appreciated!

      I have made a start, although I’m still very much at the beginning and not at all sure how it’s going to branch out. I hope it’s going to be a murder mystery but that requires me to think of whodunnit and why, which I really haven’t a clue about yet. I’m hoping the ideas will form as I write….!

      I am utterly delighted with that cheer squad, thank you! πŸ™‚ As it happes, by complete coincidence, I’ve noticed a large troupe of Shetland ponies over here waving blue and white pom poms shouting GO NICOLE! xo πŸ™‚

  11. You must be so pleased with all this support and encouragement! It sounds like you have a good plan, and you’ve shared it here. So when you’re ready to start, you have an audience… I’m looking forward to hearing more as time goes on… πŸ™‚

    • Thank you Meg, I’m chuffed to bits with all the support and encouragement, you’re quite right. Blogging has made me believe I can be a writer, whereas before it was just a dream. Meeting others who have similar dreams is amazingly helpful, it’s a great situation to be in!

  12. You are inspiring, and so honest. Stephen Covey (who just passed away last month), author of “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” says to BEGIN WITH THE END IN MIND. So, you are off to a good start with your 2016 goal. You will do it…one day at a time now. My DBA is “Just Write”… I chose that when I retired from a career in sales management so I could write and do what I have a passion for…”just write” everyday…something, anything… you will get there. It will be fun to read about it.

    • Thank you very much Linda, that’s an interesting point about beginning with the end in sight. I do have the idea of finishing in sight although I don’t actually know how I’m going to get there. As you say though, just writing is the way to go. Agatha Christie said “The secret of getting ahead is getting started” and I can’t argue with that. I’ve started writing and have already chopped out a considerable amount of what I wrote! It’s a constant battle to write tight text, I have the habit of rambling on, especially in dialogue, which is dreadful. However, the only way to get there is to crack on, and if you want something enough you work through the problems. That’s the hope anyway!

  13. This is such a scary post, it’s like a mirror image of me! Congratulations on making the first move and setting a timescale for your goal, I wish you all the best with your new venture!

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