Achieving Your Resolutions the One-a-Day Way

Is it raining where you are?

Is January doing her worst?

Is it gloomy and dark and cold and uninspiring?

Is Donald Trump about to become ‘leader of the free world’?

Same here.

But … I have a tiny glimmer of light to offer you in the gloom.

A tale to tell that will lift your spirits and encourage you to pursue your dreams.

This year I have one main focus – to keep things simple.

Simplicity = clarity = space = freedom.

So, I began by applying the rule of simplicity to my new year’s resolutions.

This year I would have just three resolutions, as short and sweet as can be.

And they are:

  1. To have FUN
  2. To make LOVE my mission statement
  3. To WRITE books for adults again

 

Simple.

And, to make the pursuing of these dreams as simple as possible, I vowed to do one thing a day towards achieving at least one of these things.

Now, the one-a-day way to achieving your dreams isn’t loud and brash.

It isn’t all ‘in your face‘ and ‘on the case‘ … it’s more ‘slow and steady wins the race‘.

Sometimes, the one thing you do will achieve next to nothing.

But it will achieve something.

And every so often that something will turn out to be a big thing.

Like the one small thing I did the week before last.

It all started here…

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I’d gone for a walk in the hills near my home and I was thinking about my dream to write for adults again and the novel I’ve just started writing.

The novel is set around a pub – about someone who works in a pub.

But – although I’ve spent plenty of time in pubs – I’ve never experienced them from behind the bar.

I need to chat to someone who has worked in a pub, I thought to myself as I walked. Or, even better, I need to experience working in one myself.

I hiked on.

Maybe I could contact my local pubMaybe that could be the one thing I do towards achieving my 3 dreams today. I could send them a message asking if I could come in and have a chat.

Almost immediately my inner voice of doom sprung into life.

Don’t be stupid. They won’t want to help you. You’ll just be annoying and get in their way. Etc. Etc.

But, as I made my way back home, I couldn’t help thinking, yeah but what have you got to lose?

Realising I didn’t have that much to lose at all, I sent the pub a message.

Within an hour I’d got the loveliest message back from one of the pub’s owners – he’d be delighted to meet and chat with me.

So, a few days later, we met and chatted. And chatted. I got loads of information and it was so much fun.

Just as I was about to go, he asked me if I’d ever run a writing group before.

This question is my personal version of ‘Is the Pope Catholic?

I LOVE running writing groups and have run loads over the years. Since moving here a few months ago I’d started running a mini group in my living room but had run out of chair space.

It turns out that the pub owner had been wanting to host a writing group in his pub for a while but didn’t know who to ask to lead it.

Hello, serendipity!

Long story short, from that one simple act of sending the message to the pub, I’ve found out loads of great pub details for my book, done a spot of work experience behind the bar, and been asked to run a weekly writing group in the room upstairs.

I enjoyed it so much it’s also made me want to find a part-time job as a bartender! And who knows where that might lead…

All from sending that one simple message.

It doesn’t matter how small the steps you take towards achieving your dreams are – what matters is that you take them.

One by one. Slowly. Steadily.

Simply.

You never know where it might lead…

(For daily inspiration achieving your dreams, follow my DAILY DREAMSPIRATION posts on Facebook here.)

 

Do you need help with your writing resolutions?

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I love helping other people achieve their writing dreams.

Find out more about my one-to-one Finding the Plot sessions here.

Alternatively, you can find out more about my book, Dare to Write a Novel, here.

 

 

 


When Life Knocks You Down – Keep Saying YES

The other day I was thinking back to a rock-bottom time in my life.

A time when I seriously couldn’t see how things could get any worse … and I seriously couldn’t see how they could get any better.

But, with the gift of hindsight, I’ve realised that this rock bottom ended up being the catalyst for much needed change.

And it led to unimaginable happiness.

It wasn’t that someone waved a magic wand over me and the issues disappeared in a puff of glitter.

But, if I had to condense the reason for my transformation in fortunes into one little word, it would be this one…

YES.

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In spite of my heartbreak and fear and despair I kept on saying yes at a time when all I really wanted to say was no.

I stayed open to the possibility that life could get better … and I said yes to every little chance to make things better.

And as I look back on those dark days from my current happy place, I can see the string of ‘yes’s that led me here.

In saying yes to the notion that I could train as a coach and mentor other people as well as write I pulled myself and my son out of poverty.

In saying yes to my very first public speaking engagement – even though it scared the hell out of me and I was a quivering, stammering mess – I took the first step on a path that would lead to me travelling the world giving talks. And, more importantly, it would massively repair my self-confidence.

In saying yes to an appeal in a magazine for entries for a book award, a novel that I’d self-published ended up winning and my career as a writer was transformed. I’ve subsequently received publishing deals for eleven different books off the back of that one yes!

Are you starting to see how important your own choices can be?

How one simple ‘yes’ today could lead to happiness and success tomorrow?

You could say yes to a party invite and end up meeting the love of your life.

You could say yes to a fitness challenge and end up healthier than you ever imagined.

You could say yes to a random job opportunity and finally discover your true calling.

And, if you find yourself in the deep dark depths of rock bottom, when all you want to say is ‘why?’ or ‘no‘, try saying ‘yes’ instead to life and to hope.

I know it’s hard, but use what happened to me to inspire you.

Say yes to every opportunity to make things better.

And have faith that your own string of ‘yes’s will lead you back home to happiness.

 

Do you need help writing a book or starting a business or achieving another life dream?

Check out my coaching page here to find out how I could help you.

‘Siobhan is a caring, empathetic and insightful life coach with the ability to really understand where you’re coming from, whether in your business or personal life. She possesses the ability to enable you to see your own solutions without prejudice, which is an invaluable talent.’ Suzanne Burgess

 


Question Everything

‘We’d like you to become a school prefect,’ my Head of Year told me as we stood in the middle of the windswept playground.

He’d just shown me a register of my attendance – or non-attendance. I hadn’t attended school for a full week for most of the term.

It was an unusual choice of punishment.

I’d been skipping school to hang out in my older friends’ flat, listening to The Clash and Linton Kwesi Johnson and talking ’bout a revolution. It was the 1980s – people still believed real change was possible back then.

My Year Head had seen me slip from an A grade student to A grade skiver and his offer of a prefect’s position was meant to entice me back into the fold.

‘Becoming a prefect is an honour,’ he told me. ‘It would look great on your CV.’

Part of becoming a prefect meant standing on duty on the school doors at break time, stopping other students from coming into the school.

I didn’t see this as an honour, I saw it as slave labour – students giving up their breaks to do a job that surely should be the responsibility of the staff.

So I told my Year Head that I wasn’t willing to become a prefect as I didn’t believe in the prefect system. I outlined my reasons why.

Silence.

Then he nodded and smiled. Instead of bollocking me I saw a flicker of respect in his eyes.

Looking back now I see that I was lucky – another teacher might not have been nearly as understanding.

But I’m so grateful he was because it taught me an important lesson at an early age: Don’t be afraid to question everything.

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From the moment we’re born we’re told that we have to accept certain things – the norm, the status quo, our parents’ and society’s rules.

But…

But so often this involves massive compromise – we have to shrink ourselves and our beliefs and passions to fit these rules.

And a shrunken life is a miserable life. Trust me, I know.

In the years since my playground encounter I’ve questioned the norm over and over and over again. And as a result my life has been immeasurably more fulfilling.

When I found myself unhappy and broke at the end of my second year at uni I questioned the commonly held belief that a university education is the golden ticket to life. I left and I got a job and I paid off my debts and I blagged my way into a graduate job and I achieved my dream of becoming a writer … all degree-free.

When I found myself a single mum I questioned society’s belief that single mums are a scourge on society; a bunch of benefit-scroungers bringing up packs of feral kids. I started my own coaching business and I created a happy, vibrant home for my son and my family of friends. I wore my indie mum badge with honour and took an extra portion of pride in my son’s successes.

When I found myself dropped by my publisher seven years ago I questioned the commonly held belief that writers need a traditional book deal to find success. I self-published and achieved more success than I ever could have dreamed of.

When I found myself single again a few years ago I questioned the belief that we all need a partner to make us whole. I decided to swear off dating and men and romance for a while in order to focus on my dreams and goals. This turned out to be one of the best ‘questions’ of my entire life – filling me with a fearless, feisty sense of freedom that I’d always been lacking before. A freedom that led to some of my best adventures.

When I’ve felt stuck in a rut I’ve questioned the belief that we all need to settle down, mortgaged up to the hilt. And I’ve moved to brand new places to keep things fresh and fun. Once I even stuck a pin in a map (or hovered the cursor over a Google map), found a town called Berkhamsted and moved there three weeks later!

When I found myself home alone on Saturday night (I’ve just moved to another new town and don’t know many people here yet)  I questioned the belief that women shouldn’t go out on their own on a Saturday night and I took myself to a local benefit gig. I had a great time – chatting to new people and listening to live music and accidentally getting caught up in a bidding war in an art auction! I also met a couple of local writers who I’ve planned to see again.

FULL DISCLAIMER: Questioning things is not the easy route. It comes with a big old side-helping of fear and doubt and some very dark nights of the soul. All of the times I chose to question above I had to overcome huge amounts of fear and I had moments where I thought I was effing mad to have done what I did. But I hung on in there through the scary times and lived to reap the massive rewards.

Because questioning things leads to a life fully and imaginatively lived.

It blasts your life wide open to exciting possibilities.

Possibilities you would never have believed possible before.

Some questions for you…

What do you need to question in your life right now?

How are you shrinking yourself and your dreams to fit in?

What – if you scratch beneath the responsible, acceptable surface – makes you feel uncomfortable and restricted?

If you want to live a truly happy life, question everything.

And only trust the answer that makes you feel excited to be alive.

 

 

 

 


The Sweet Creativity of Doing Nothing

This is my bed.

I spent most of last Sunday here, doing nothing.

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Doing nothing but drinking ginger tea and eating fruit cake and DAYDREAMING.

For so long I thought that doing nothing was a waste of time.

In all honesty, doing nothing made me feel afraid.

Afraid of not earning enough money … every self-employed person knows that TIME IS MONEY.

Afraid of missing out … who knows what world shattering hashtag might be trending on Twitter.

Afraid of feeling lonely or bored … surely it would be way more fun to see who wants to come out to play.

But here’s what happens if you never do nothing; if you never let go of all the crutches and succumb to sweet solitude.

Your brain goes into overload, so full of ‘should‘s and ‘have to‘s that there’s no room for the fresh and the new. There’s no room for inspiration. And there’s every chance you’re going to short circuit.

As I lay on my bed, listening to music and watching the tree outside bobbing in the breeze, all the thoughts that had been cluttering my mind for the past week – about the unfinished projects, and the imminent house move, and the frickin’ cupboard that I still haven’t cleared – began filing themselves away.

I felt light and summer breezy.

The only questions that troubled me were which album to listen to next and which side to lie on.

It was blissful.

And then, completely unexpectedly, some brand new dreams began budding into life.

Instead of being plagued by ‘I should‘s I entertained myself with ‘I could‘s.

I could write this. I could create that. I could travel here. I could have an adventure there. 

It was as if inspiration had been waiting patiently for all the din to die down.

When’s the last time you intentionally and deliberately did nothing?

When’s the last time you carved a serious chunk of time out for some serious daydreaming?

When’s the last time you disconnected from the outer world so that you could reconnect with the inner?

Take out your diary now and make an urgent appointment with NOTHING.

Underline it for emphasis.

Don’t break your appointment with nothing for anything.

You’ll thank me for it, I promise.

And so will your dreams.

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If you’re in need of some dream-spiration my new novel, The Moonlight Dreamers is available 

on Amazon here.

A beautiful book about friendship, standing up for what you believe in and finding the courage to be yourself and find your own unique place in the world.’ Lamont Books
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Sensational and unforgettable, falling in love with this book came as naturally as breathing. The best book I’ve read all year.Blog of a Bookaholic

 


Forget About Fame – Ask for Wonder

“Never once in my life did I ask for success or wisdom or power. I asked for wonder.”

Abraham Heschel

A few months before my new novel, The Moonlight Dreamers, came out, a friend of mine who works in the book trade said to me, ‘You do realise that the only way you’re going to get UK bookstores to order your book in bulk is if you have an endorsement on the cover from A Celebrity.’
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This annoyed me … but I was not surprised.
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It annoyed me because I get so frustrated by our celebrity-obsessed culture. In fact, one of the major storylines in The Moonlight Dreamers is an attack on celebrity culture and the shallowness and spitefulness it inspires online and in certain sections of the media.
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If I asked a celebrity to endorse this book I’d be being a total hypocrite.
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But if book stores don’t order your book in bulk – or at all – what hope have you got for it to succeed?
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There’s so much pressure on us in today’s society to ‘succeed’. And here, I’m referring to society’s definition of success, which seems to be measured purely in numbers.
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Number of followers. Number of ‘friends’. Number of ‘likes’. Number of hits. 
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Financial numbers. Sales numbers. Profit numbers. 
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And the temptation to sacrifice your integrity in the pursuit of these numbers can be HUGE.
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But I was brought up to practise what I preach – even if that means taking the harder path.
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Even if that means missing out on so-called success.
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So I didn’t approach any celebrities to endorse The Moonlight Dreamers.
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Like the quote from Abraham Heschel at the top of this post, I asked for WONDER instead of fame or success.
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I asked and I hoped and I prayed that the book would reach the people who would benefit from the messages contained within it. Free spirits who need a little encouragement in daring to dream.
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I asked for the wonder of the written word and the way it is able to connect us, heart to heart and soul to soul.
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And an incredible sense of wonder is what I am getting – by the bucket-load.
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Wonder that what started out as this random scribbling in a notebook…
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Ended up becoming this beautiful book…
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Wonder at the messages I’m receiving from readers as far away as Australia, telling me that The Moonlight Dreamers has inspired them to re-ignite their own dreams.
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Wonder that, within a few days of its release – and without a celebrity endorsement – it was topping two charts on Amazon and they had selected it as their YA Book of the Month…
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Wonder that Dubray, a chain of book stores in Ireland, had made it their recommended YA book of the month…
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Wonder that it was being recommended as far afield as New Zealand too…
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Wonder at the pictures of the book popping up on Instagram, from on board boats in New South Wales to beside swimming pools in spas…
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Right now, I am awash with wonder.
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So, whatever your dreams and goals may be, forget about fame and focus on finding the wonder.
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Fame and money and ‘success’ are fragile goals. Numbers can rise. But they can fall away too.
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But wonder…
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Wonder stays with you forever.
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The Moonlight Dreamers is available on Amazon here.


When You’re Drowning … Start Dreaming

If there’s one thing certain about life it’s that, at some point, things are going to get tough.

At some point, you’re going to feel as if you’re drowning.

The failure of an exam, the loss of a job, the end of a relationship, the death of a loved one … or the steady drip-drip of day-to-day stress – any of these can pull you under, leaving all thoughts of achieving your dreams furthermost from your mind.

But it’s at these times that we need our dreams the most.

It’s at these times that our life goals can become life rafts.

One of the nicest things about writing for young adults are the emails I receive from readers.

Six years ago, when my first YA novel was published, a girl emailed me to let me know what she thought of it and to tell me all about her own writing dreams.

Her passion for writing shone through her email and her zest for life was infectious.

We kept up an intermittent email correspondence for the next three years and she kept me up to date on her latest hopes and dreams.

Then it all went quiet.

I found out a couple of years ago that she’d succumbed to an eating disorder and given up on her writing dreams. ‘I’m under too much pressure,’ she told me. ‘I can’t be bothered with writing any more.’

Her words broke my heart.

Because I know better than anyone how important it is to cling to your dreams when the going gets tough.

My own writing dream carried me through and ultimately out of, an abusive relationship. It repaired my shattered self-esteem and brought me happiness beyond my wildest dreams.

And this was the motivation behind my new novel The Moonlight Dreamers – to encourage others to dare to dream, even when the going gets tough. Especially when the going gets tough.

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To my absolute delight, it appears to be working: In the weeks running up to publication I started receiving messages from book-sellers and reviewers, telling me how the book had inspired them. Here are a small selection:

‘It has been what I can only describe as a transformative experience. Maybe once every year a book like this comes along to tell me to keep going. I’m definitely a Moonlight Dreamer.’

‘Within the pages of this book I lost myself, but it was within these pages that I found myself too. Sensational and unforgettable, falling in love with this book came as naturally as breathing. The best book I’ve read all year.’

‘The Moonlight Dreamers is the book I had waited to be written for years. Female empowerment, realistic, creative characters with extraordinary ways of looking at the world. We need more of this in the world.

‘This inspirational story about following dreams and the power of female friendship is as rich,warm and cheering as being curled up with a mug of hot chocolate on a bitterly cold day.’

 

The Moonlight Dreamers officially launched today and you can order a copy from Amazon – who have made it their YA Book of the Month(!)here.

My publisher, Walker Books, have also set up a Moonlight Dreamers websitemoonlightdreamers.com – which is crammed to the rafters with videos, posts and other fun resources designed to help you dare to dream. There’s also an Oscar Wilde plot generator – what better reason do you need for stopping by?

I’ll regularly be blogging at the new site and featuring inspirational guest posts from some seriously interesting people, so come on over and check it out. And if you’d like to write for the site, I’d love to hear from you.

Let me leave you with the Oscar Wilde quote that forms the beating heart of The Moonlight Dreamers:

‘Yes, I am a dreamer. For a dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees dawn before the rest of the world.’

Here’s to Moonlight Dreamers, the world over!

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Dreamers of the World Unite … and Write

It’s one week until my new novel, The Moonlight Dreamers, is published and to celebrate I’m running a writing competition.

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The Moonlight Dreamers is all about the importance of daring to dream. My own dreams have got me through some of the toughest times of my life and I feel very passionately about sharing this message.

I’ve already started running Moonlight Dreamers workshops and one question I always ask participants is: What is your dream for the world?

The answers I’ve been getting are very inspiring, so I thought I’d make that the focal point of this writing competition…

What is your dream for the world?

Two of the main characters in The Moonlight Dreamers are avid writers – one a blogger and one a poet – so in keeping with that, entries can either take the form of a guest blog post or a poem, whichever you prefer.

If you need any prompts to help inspire you, try the following questions:

If you could change one thing about the world what would it be?

What makes you really angry about the world we live in?

How could people make a positive difference?

What gives you hope?

Prizes

The three winning entries will all receive a signed copy of The Moonlight Dreamers + a signed copy of one of my other YA books (you choose which one) + some other fun goodies to help you dare to dream. Your entries will also be published on the (soon to be launched) Moonlight Dreamers website.

Runners up will also have their entries published on the site.

Entry details

:: Entries should be no longer than 500 words

:: Only one submission per person

:: Please state your name and age on your submission

:: All ages welcome (the entries will be judged in age groups)

:: The closing date = Thursday 14th July

:: Please send your entry to:

contact[AT]siobhancurham[DOT]co[DOT]uk

Please feel free to share this post with any writers / dreamers you think might be interested.

And if you’d like to find out more about The Moonlight Dreamers, this lovely review from The Blog of a Bookaholic gives loads of info … without any spoilers.

Happy writing!

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