Holidays are over and the photos are almost all that remain (aside from maybe some extra weight around the middle). The days are drawing in, at least in the northern hemisphere, and people are getting back to work.

Later in this post I thought it would be good to focus on four of the best tips I ever learned that helped me get stuff done.

I also have a free offer of help for authors from an excellent author in her own right.

Novels update

First, it’s been a long time since I gave an update on my own work.

The Breaking of Liam Glass is still selling well and I’m looking into an exciting new market which I’ll tell you about when it happens.

Meanwhile, I’ve spent most of the summer working in parallel on my second and third novels. The second is a psychological thriller with a dark twist – based on a dramatically challenging psychological state that is not perhaps as rare as some think.

I’m very excited about it. The typescript is with an editor and almost ready to send to publishers.

The third novel is in redraft. It’s also crime, but with comedy. I’m having great fun just (re)writing it. Not least because it’s based in the Caribbean, so I can spend my mornings basking in imaginary sunshine.

Get stuff done

September is a popular time for refocusing on what people want to achieve. There are four months left to the end of the year. It’s a good time to put on a head of speed, finish an important project, start a new one, join a class, etc.

We usually get an influx of new students in my Aikido class over the next few weeks, bringing new energy and enthusiasm.

But what if you’re having difficulty finding that energy and enthusiasm? Sometimes what we call procrastination is a symptom of other issues – such as self-doubt, fear, insecurity or even self-sabotage. None of it makes it easier to get stuff done, however much you want to.

So here are some of the techniques that helped me most.

1. Be clear on my goal

Many people don’t achieve their goals simply because they aren’t clear what goal it is they want.

I find vague goals such as “being a successful writer”, “getting fit” or even “improving my Aikido” are difficult to focus on.

So I give myself a moment to clarify precisely what I actually want. In concrete, specific terms. Also to make sure that it’s realistically doable. (That is, it both stretches me but is achievable).

What exactly do I want to write? How many press-ups do I want to be able to manage? What specific techniques do I want to work on?

Of course, I always need to be flexible as things develop, but it works best for me to start with clarity.

2. Know why I want it

Knowing why you want to do something is a powerful way to build your motivation.

Why do I want to write that novel? Who will it amuse/help/scare… etc? Who will gain? Who will get what I’m saying?

Asking why I want to get fit – or why I want to be better at a specific Aikido move – will always be more energising than mooching around focusing on my lack of stamina (or skill).

Then, when I find myself wavering over a project, I remind myself of what I want it to achieve once it’s done.

3. Decide on the next (small) step

Goals can be daunting. It’s all too easy for me to walk around thinking about (say) writing a new book without actually starting.

So the trick here is to work out the next step. Make it small. It could be as simple as googling some research. Or making a phone call.

Doodling some notes. Or putting my kit in my kit bag.


4. Prepare to do it

How often have you gone to do something, but you don’t have what you need?

I might want to make a phone call, but I don’t have the number, and now I need to work out who might know the number… and they’re not answering their emails… and before I know it, I’ve given up.

So after I’ve decided my next step. I prepare it in advance.

I list a few possible search terms. Or write down the number I’m going to phone. Lay out some paper for doodling on. Or plan out the next Aikido lesson…

Now when it’s time to take the next step, it’s all ready to do.

FREE coaching from author Katy Segrove

And now, that offer.

Katy Segrove, who’s both a friend and an excellent children’s author, screenwriter and writing coach, has written to me about her new venture. It sounds fascinating. Best of all, for a very short time, it will cost nothing at all.

Quill pen logo

This is what she says:

This Autumn I’m trialling a new writing coaching programme and looking for a few writers to coach for FREE– in return for a bit of feedback.

Would this be of interest? The coaching will help you if you need some accountability, if you have a creative block, don’t know where to start, want help setting goals or coming up with a writing plan – or if you just fancy working with a coach.

The coaching will last a month and will consist of a series of Skype calls and emails.  It’s starting soon, so if you’re interested, find out more at or drop me a line with any questions at  

Looking forward to working with you!

This is a great offer and I’d grab it quickly, before places all go.

Further reading

How to beat procrastination

Articles on the Mental Game

Pick Up Your Pen – coaching for writers