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We all Stand Together (A Fairy Tale in Two Parts).

Chapter One

As the sun began to sink beneath the sky, and long shadows threw themselves onto the ground, the brave knight Sir Engagealot tried again to reassemble the Orb of Change. Try as he might, he couldn’t. There were bits missing, flaws that he hadn’t previously spotted. He sat and tried to recall the day the wizard Smartalf had offered him the orb. All he could remember was the orb’s shine; powerful, almost hypnotic. Certainly seductive. Could it be that in his haste to accept the glittering prize, he’d been blinded by it?

“Why didn’t I ask some questions before accepting the challenge?” thought Sir Engagealot. “We exchanged a vow based on common goals and shared success, but it turns out that wasn’t enough.” He spoke quietly, sadly to himself. Engagealot hadn’t noticed the tiny elf that drew up a small stone and sat next to him. He nearly jumped out of his chain mail in surprise on hearing a bright little voice say, “We all stand together, and we all fall, apart.”

“What! Who goes there!” exclaimed Engagealot as he drew his sword, ever ready to defend the Orb of Change, even in its now diminished state. “Steady on mate, you’ll have someone’s eye out with that” came the little voice again. “Down here”. Engagealot looked down and there was the tiny elf. “Who are you and what business have you tormenting me in my hour of need?” asked the knight. “And what do you mean, “we all stand together, we all fall, apart”?”

“My elfin name is Sustainabulus Behaviourful Playful Purpose the Third”, said the elf, “You may call me SB”. “I’m here because your tale of unfulfilled potential has reached me and I know something that may help you avoid such fate in the future.” “Go on”, said the curious knight hesitantly, and in the gathering gloom the elf began to tell her tale.

“I watched a similar unravelling occur when I worked for Beyondworld Tellings, the fairy world’s communication giant. I was asked to lead change for the UK branch of BT and I was so excited by the possibilities, I agreed. Well who wouldn’t? Such prestige, such a chance to make a difference, once in a lifetime stuff, fantastic!”

“Whoah, steady on” said Sir Engagealot, “Didn’t you think to ask a few questions before you jumped right in and agreed?”

“What, like you did with Smartalf and the Orb of Change?” replied SB. Sir Engagealot blushed, “Do go on” he said meekly.

SB stretched and yawned, “I shall” she said. “Tomorrow, over breakfast.” And before Sir Engagealot could protest, SB had drawn her hat down around her ears and laid down to sleep.

Chapter Two will appear tomorrow.

Live, and learn

Well after a few days of hard work, confusion and other stuff….I feel a bit of a chump. The book is going to materialise alright, but not with me as a co-author. I’m a little disappointed, but the reasons are clear enough to me, and I can live with them. The venture continues and I believe it will yield positive results. My hard work has not been in vain, a lot of what I’ve done will be used as copy for a supporting web site.

I feel a bit awkward as a lot of people gave me some great inspiration on hearing I was on this journey; I will use it to fire me up to write my own book so I assure you it won’t be wasted, thanks folks. You can read what I received and I hope it will inspire you too.

The Booker Prize will just have to wait, onwards and upwards.

OK, the question I asked was:

What do you do when the chips are down, it’s midnight, you’re frazzled and you need inspiration, motivation? Do tell.

Dave Campbell-Watts offered this:

Me at that point, I jot down my current thought, blockage, idea and go to bed. I know that I work completely inefficiently when I’m tired (or hungry) so I take the brave step and sleep. Let the sub-conscious do its magic. I come back to the work with fresh zeal and new ideas.

Start the next day by focussing and planning. Focus on the dream and the outcome, get excited again. Then plan the day, set targets, work out what needs to be done. I work in 45min-1.5hr bursts towards the target, once I feel my brain hit treacle its time for a breather and a change of scene.

Moving about is important for me to keep the energy flowing. Walking about the office, presenting to myself (people do wonder sometimes – a private space can be better for this!); a real brain pile-up might require a walk on the mountain with a notebook and pen in pocket.

I aim to enjoy the process as well as the outcome; if I’m having fun I’ll work a lot harder and the output will be far better!

Helen Peters suggested:

“involve others”, to create false deadlines (get someone to proof read something – that will make you finish it, and improve the end product), share questions, blockers.

The other one is take the dog for a walk across the fields.

John Coleman is somone I’ve not known for long but I like his style, and his willingess to chip in. He thought I might check out:

Prentiss Ingraham (1843 – 1904), a prolific American dime novelist who was known to write a 35,000-word book overnight.

And the very wonderful Mark Field, well he thought:

Great to hear you have set yourself a challenge.

When I end up in this situation there are several things I do:

* break it down into small bits (yes – I am not the first to say this) – set out my chapter headings / section headings – normally there is some of that which I already have floating around in my head in reasonable shape and I can commit with ease – hence giving a sense of some achievement and reducing the size of the remaining challenge

* when the words stop flowing I take some exercise – normally swimming as I find that I don’t need to think too much about the actual swimming up and down the lane and my mind can start to drift and things start to bubble up (perhaps I need to be careful here – I seem to remember your wife is a very accomplished swimmer) (again, I am not the first to say this – no different I suspect to taking the dog for a walk, going for a run or walking a mountain)

* once started keep working even if it is odd hours to avoid being interrupted or side tracked – for me both late at night and then keep going until I run out of things to write or starting immediately I wake up and again keep going until I run out of things to say work – don’t break for meals and stop the flow (but I do have quality coffee – I’m a caffeine addict)

* finally, when stuck call someone and talk to them about it – someone who knows nothing about the issue and hence is not fettered by any preconceived notions

What strikes me is that this is what I do but has a lot in common with what others have written – if it works for us perhaps it will work for you …

Thanks to all of you, and to Chris Plush whose great tips I feature a couple of days ago.

Books, Builders and Brainstorming

Day One of the book writing experiment: I’ve had a weird day, builders moving in to start work on a major project probably not the best addition to the mix. Still, first couple of chapters finished. It’s going to get much tougher – I don’t know how I know, but I do.

Following my pleas for inspiration I want to share a great piece of feedback I received from Chris Plush. Chris is a great guy, he’s bright and he makes me laugh too. Here’s what he sent me:

The Plush road to inspiration……….. (pick one or more)
1. Go for a run (yes, I have run around New York at 4.30am)
2. Music. I have playlists for everything.
3. Visualisation. I am a huge fan of this and it has served me well when I feel like chucking it all in. What does success look like and what will it feel like – the mind is a powerful thing and the body will reward positive thinking!!
4. Small steps Mr Shaw. If it’s all getting a bit overwhelming, break it down into small bits – give yourself small, achievable goals; write them down, tick them off (and reward yourself with chocolate!!)
5. Call on others. Anyone who gives a damn about you will take your calls and listen to your rantings and wailings and then put you back together again. You’d do it for them, they’ll do it for you.

Lastly, we are thinking of you and are with you ….. good luck, you’ll get it done and it will be readable (well it had better be anyway). I’ll expect your call at 1am then???

There’s more inspiration and support coming in and I will continue to pass it on as the pressure rises 🙂