November Goals ’19

2019, goals, lifestyle, organisation, writing

Hello!

How is it nearly the end of the year? My favourite month September went by in a FLASH and now it’s November and I feel like time is going by quicker than I can keep track of it! Not that I’m complaining – I’m getting better at handling the passing of time and I’m getting excited about the prospect of the future and a career again.

Rambles aside, it’s time for a new set of monthly goals – if nothing springs to mind I always refer back to my goals for the year that I set in January which helps me focus and make progress on my mid-term goals. Little top tip for you there! If you’d like a post about how I set goals then please do let me know, this is something I’d love to pursue but I feel like I haven’t achieved enough to warrant making this an aspect of my career.

I’m rambling again! Onto the goals…

One – be more productive with uni work
I don’t mean in the ‘getting more done’ sense, I mean working more consistently and achieving more in the long run if that makes sense. At the moment, I’m slowly trucking away and then I have to work just that little bit harder in the two or three days before an assignment is due to finish off. Even if I spread that work out over a week, I can work in shorter periods and get more done and work on more assignments at a time.

To implement this (another goal setting time – don’t just make goals, plan how to achieve them!) I think I need to start breaking my time down into more scheduled chunks. I’ve always been against this because I’ve taken the mindset that a task will take however long it takes but if I’m spending hours dragging my feet through one task, I’d probably be better off going and doing something else and coming back to it. SO if I set myself an hour of working on one assignment and then I’m going to spend an hour doing some reading for another unit and then an hour writing blog posts then I’ve at least made some progress in all three elements rather than taking all day to reach the point I wanted on a certain assignment.

Two – settle into my new job and the new routine
Getting a job has taken longer than I anticipated because I spent so long looking for jobs in the place where we were going to move and then we ended up moving somewhere else and then there was complications with my applications in the place we actually move to then there were complications with start dates but I’m finally due to start my new retail job next week.

I’ve made this one of my goals because my original intention was not to work in retail – I wanted an office job where I could refine my admin skills, but I just don’t really know where to look and the job I now have actually fits really well with where we live and where my boyfriend works so I just need to give myself permission to potentially enjoy it. I think I might be working in the homeware department so that’s always exciting!

Three – eat a bit more healthily and track my weight again
Now that we’ve moved and I’ve got a bit more control about what I’m eating (and I’ve rediscovered how much I love vegetables) I feel ready to start making small life changes to get back to the healthier lifestyle I had this time last year.

Being brutally hones, I’ve put on about seven pounds since my lowest weight of this year but you know what? That’s really not a massive setback and I can see lots of really obvious habits in my life that I can adapt so I’m looking forward to the challenge in a way.

Four – finish two books!
I made a good dent in catching up on my reading goal of 12 books for the year in September/October but fell off the wagon a bit with moving stress but I’d really like to be back on track by the beginning of December.

I’m currently reading ‘Our Stop’ by Laura Jane Williams and next I’ll be reading ‘The Black Book of Secrets’ by F. E. Higgins.

Five – NaNoWriMo/write every day
And last but not least – another writing challenge! This is what I’ve been training for all year and I actually don’t feel prepared at all but as with the first week of any writing challenge I do, I’m excited – the key now it’s to maintain that momentum.

Although the goal is to hit 50,000 words, I’m not too fussed about the word count because I haven’t had the time to plan the novel redraft that I wanted to write, I’ve got a masters to get and a life to deal with but my focus is making writing a habit. I will be writing a combination of my original novel, a bit of fanfiction and some creative writing exercises just to get words on paper. I did consider including blog posts and any uni writing I have to do but I feel like that’s taking the mick a little bit!

My wrimo profile is sophiecountsclouds, if anyone wants to add me!

So those are my focuses for November! Writing these posts always motivates me – I love a new start and a new month just gives me a little boost and after how hectic October was, I needed that.

Bonus question – I started drafting a blog post during the week of a ‘day in the life of a masters student’ and I started feeling very insecure about whether this would actually be interesting to anyone? So let me know if you have any thoughts on that!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

YouTube | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

October Goals 2019!

2019, goals, student

Hello!

I swear September just didn’t happen? It’s gone before I could really settle into it and it really has been an absolute whirlwind – mostly stress and busy-ness and driving more than I could have possibly imagined driving. I didn’t achieve many of my September Goals because everything was just so manic but I’m rolling with it and using it to make my October Goals more successful! Let’s jump straight in

1. Plan time and stick to it

Having gone back to uni full time and knowing I need to get a part-time job as well as dealing with trying to rent a house and car insurance and hire cars etc, I know now more than ever that planning my time and sticking to it as much as possible is crucial to making sure I get everything done.

Whilst we’re waiting to move, it’s going to be hard and stressful because I’m so overwhelmed but I can only try my best and that’s the important bit.

2. Less frivolous spending

September was tough – preparing to move, then not moving, and having birthday money and sad spending, my bank account is in dire need of a rest.

I’ve been good at taking packed lunches to uni and trying not to spend unnecessarily but when someone suggests Wetherspoons it’s hard to resist! It’s a work in progress but October is a fresh slate and I can only learn from my mistakes!

3. Plan for NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo standings for National Novel Writing Month, I’ve been doing little writing challenges all year to ‘train’ for it and to be honest I don’t feel ready at all so over October I want to plan what I’m doing, plan some backup writing and maybe some prompts for the less inspired days, make sure my account is all set up and link to the ‘planning time effectively’ goal to make sure I can actually give it a fair shot!

4. Move house!

I’ve only mentioned it about three billion times but moving has been a journey and HOPEFULLY (cross all your fingers for us!) we’ll be moving in the middle of October and I need to plan everything.

Prepare for lots of house content! Hopefully! If we actually get to move!

5. Play Overwatch on Switch but moderately

Overwatch is my favourite video game and thus far I’ve only really enjoyed playing on X Box (PC gaming just isn’t for me) but they announced earlier this year that they were releasing it on Switch and I preordered it immediately and I can’t wait for it to come out but it’s meant to be the day we move into the new house so I need to make sure I don’t get caught in a loop of avoiding all my other responsibilities to play this game. Because that’s what happened when I got Pokemon Moon and it didn’t do well for my uni work.

But similarly I also want to give myself time to chill and enjoy this game so that’s important too!

And that’s the plan for the month! A lot happened in September and I feel like I just need to strip it all back, but it might take until November before I feel really settled in our new place and can relax a bit but that’s when the assignments are really going to start piling up so we’ll see how that goes.

Any tips, tricks or words of encouragement would be much appreciated right now because I am a ball of stress!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

YouTube | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

training to write a book

2019, books, goals, writing

Hello!

For four of the seven months of this year so far, I’ve set myself ‘writing challengers’ of writing a certain amount of words in so many days. It started at 20k, then 25k, 30k, 35k and in August I’m aiming to write 40,000 words.

All of this is my way of training myself to write an increasing amount of words per day to work up to the 50,000 words in 30 days that is NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month – an online community aiming to write a novel in a month!).

My history with creative writing started all the way back in October 2008 when I was on a family holiday and I found a loose tile at the bottom of the swimming pool and I was inspired to write my own story inspired by the characters in BBC’s Merlin (what a throwback) so my journey with fanfiction began.

From there, I was writing every single night sat in front of the TV with my family – whether it be a notebook, my laptop or my iPad I was always writing from 2008 all the way through to 2015 really when I left for uni. In 2011 I gave my first attempt at NaNoWriMo but only made it to the 15/16k mark – in 2012 I won NaNoWriMo and wrote the first draft of my novel that one day I’ve vowed to publish and I’ve told my best friend Katy she can play the lead female character when it gets made into a film too so I’ve got to keep that promise.

Then I went to uni. And I spent evenings with friends rather than alone watching TV and writing fanfiction and developing my own novel – at various points over my degree I tried to get back into it but I just didn’t have the time or the motivation to properly invest myself in writing again.

And then came the year after I graduated where I couldn’t get a job to start my career and I’m back in my childhood bedroom but I’m 22 and my long term boyfriend is with me.

Either way, I had much more time to dedicate to writing! I tried NaNoWriMo again in 2018 but it really is a challenge, however it gave me the drive to rediscover what I loved about creative writing and get back into it – thus the monthly challenges training for WriMo begin!

The challenges have been a mixed bag so far – the first one went really well, the other one was a complete failure, the third one started well but I fell behind a little a caught up in the early days of the following month. The most recent challenge I didn’t really start writing until about a week in and somehow I pulled it back and finished a whopping 35,000 words in July ready to jump straight into 40,000 words in August!

What I’ve found in the last three months works really well is using fanfiction and writing prompts just to get myself writing anything – having 30 prompts to write short little excerpts with characters I’m already familiar with and haven’t had to design has really got me in the right mindset and excited about delving into my own characters again in November where I’m hoping to finish draft 2 of my original winning novel seven years down the line!

In June I used Carrie Hope Fletcher’s May, Myself and I words as prompts, in July I used Hannah Witton’s Dear June and for August my darling, hilarious boyfriend has written 31 prompts for me to follow. I’m genuinely surprised that they were so thoughtful – I’ve got a good boy that will endorse my little writing challenges and I don’t know about you, but I think I have the best boyfriend (he’s my favourite team mate).

That’s a little summary of how I’ve been training for NaNoWriMo this year – creative writing has been my biggest outlet since I was 12 years old. In my worst moments, I take my feelings and vent them out in fiction and it just make everything feel much less isolating – especially back in the days where I shared my fanfiction and I got so much positive feedback from pieces that were written from the heart and that’s always been how I write. For my blog, for my creative writing – I want everything I write to sound genuine and conversational and I think I’ve done that fairly successfully.

There’s still three months until NaNoWriMo begins but I’m already excited!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

YouTube | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

August Goals

2019, goals

Hello!

I’ll be honest, I’m thrilled that July is over – it was too hot, my finances were stretched to the tightest they could possibly be and I have so many plans that are taking place in August that July was just in the way to be honest.

So I’m genuinely excited to set myself some new goals – this month is super exciting with lots of lovely plans. First up, I’m taking my second driving test and whilst I probably shouldn’t be shouting and screaming about it because that really bit me in the bum last time, I’m feeling good about it – I feel much more ready this time! Then after that there’s volunteering at YouTube convention Summer in the City, a summer bbq with friends and family, a trip to York to see my godmother’s gorgeous family and getting the ball rolling on moving back down to the South!

I’m so excited! These are the five things I’m going to be focusing on this month:

  1. Find somewhere to live – long story short, I’m starting an MSc in Digital Media Production in September and my boyfriend and I are relocating to Reading in early September so I really need to find a property before I accidentally spend the deposit! (I’m joking, obviously… just to clarify!)
  2. Don’t use any savings money – since I bought my car, I’ve had to borrow money from my savings right at the end of the month and pay it straight back on payday. I had the money it just all happened the wrong way round. When I bought the car I borrowed a lot and it made July a really tricky month, at the end of this month I have to borrow a little bit just to pay the last of my bills and in August I want to be clear out of my savings again and back on top of my finances. I wrote a blog post all about how I manage my finances and I stand by that – it’s working really well for me and I have faith going forwards that I can add to my savings more than I take. I’ve saved nearly £500 this year so far so I’m not doing too bad!
  3. Make creative vlogs – and with finances on my mind, I’ve been working pretty nonstop – usually 4 days a week of 9-10 hours and it means that my weekly vlogs have been pretty dull to be honest. But being creative is something I prize myself at being able to do so I need to spend some time brainstorming some creative ways to make my vlogs interesting even when I’m not really doing anything interesting! Making it a new challenge will hopefully inspire me to do something different!
  4. Read one book – one of my goals for this year was to read 12 books – either one book a month or the equivalent. In July I’ve been really struggling to sleep well and it’s a circle of I’m too tired to read but scrolling through my phone before I go to sleep is probably waking me up but with the arrival of Louise Pentland’s new book Wilde Women (thoroughly recommend the whole series, it’s a really well written women’s fiction – it’s like watching a daily vlog!) I’m determined to get back into it. I started this year reading Wilde About The Girl and I’m going to let this wonderful series be my way back into fiction. I’m sure I can manage one book!
  5. Write 40,000 words – I do love a writing challenge! I’m going to write a whole blog post about training for NaNoWriMo later this week, but from July’s 35,000 word challenge (which should be a success – still one day to go!) I’m going straight into 40,000 words in August to prep for 50,000 in November. I’m so in love with writing at the moment and I’m very excited to start redrafting my original novel in November.

At the moment I’m bossing making really effective to do lists that are making me really productive and giving me more free time to play video games and play the Harry Potter game on my phone guilt free!

I might even get time to go out in the nice sunshine if it’s not too hot! I feel like I can’t find the words to really explain my excitement for this month – I’m feeling positive, there’s lots of exciting developments and I’m genuinely excited to see where the rest of the year takes me.

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

YouTube | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

July Goals

2019, fitness, goals, lifestyle, student, writing

Hello!

It’s that time again! We’re officially over halfway through 2019 and I’m not entirely sure how it’s gone that fast actually. It’ll be Christmas before we know it!

But with a new month, it means new goals! My June goals actually went relatively well – I made good progress on lots of things and I’m going to maintain that this month. So here are my achievable personal goals for July!

  1. Practice driving petrol – may sound dumb, but long story short I upgraded my car! I’ve been driving diesel since I started learning last September and this is the first time I’ve ever driven petrol and boy-o it’s different and difficult to get used to. I say ‘difficult’ – it’s only been two days and when it’s flat I’m mostly okay but I want to get lots of practice in so that when I pass my driving test (eventually) I’ll be ready to zip off here there and everywhere in my gorgeous new car! Aptly named H.R.Wheels by my creative boyfriend, plus points to anyone who watches the Flash and gets that reason.
  2. Confirm my place at uni and research where to move – literally yesterday as I was brainstorming what I wanted my goals for this month to be, I got a conditional offer email from Oxford Brookes University to study MSc Digital Media Production and I’m simultaneously nervous and excited. But what goes with that is moving – finding somewhere to live around Oxford (because I definitely can’t afford Oxford) and figuring out the finances of it all! July is a month of figuring out.
  3. Write 35,000 words – I’ve been setting myself lots of monthly writing challenges to train up for 50,000 words NaNoWriMo in November and this month is Camp NaNoWriMo. It’s just to maintain my habit for writing every day and making time for creative hobbies around work and other commitments!
  4. Run 3x a week and stop snacking – a little development on my goals for last months. In this last week is when I fell off my couch to 5k bandwagon and I needed a bit of motivation, so this morning I did the run from week 1 and I’m going to do a condensed version of the first 4 weeks, then build up on week 5 and 6 again because that’s where I started to struggle. It’s going to take me considerably longer than 9 weeks but I’m going to get there! This is the most committed to exercise I’ve been since I was dancing four times a week at school. And I need to get a hold of my eating habits again – it’s getting out of hand so step 1 for me is cutting out snacking. It’ll be tough but I want to feel better again so I’ve got to work for it!
  5. Make sure I can pay all my bills – having bought a car at the very end of June, July is going to be incredibly tight (because I may or may not have spent the majority of my wages before I got paid… haha?). It’s manageable as long as I don’t waste money on things I don’t need and am really careful with what I do spend. I’m not worried about it but I need to focus and having it as part of my monthly goals helps keep me on track!

A couple of days ago, I noticed in myself that I was feeling a bit spaced out – that I was stopping doing things that are good for me and feeling a total lack of motivation for everything but writing this post has really perked me up! If you feel a bit lost I thoroughly recommend setting a short list of achievable goals, it makes it so much easier to be productive!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

YouTube | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

April Goals!

2019, goals

Hello!

At the beginning of every month I get so excited about a new month, a fresh start and a new focus – deciding on what goals to work on this month! It only gets better when the month starts on a Monday, now that makes my heart happy.

Last month’s goals didn’t go very well – I got a bit too in over my head and expected far too much of myself and with a lot of unexpected last minute plans, I didn’t make a lot of progress on many (if any) of last month’s goals. But rather than letting that hold me back, I’m using what I learnt from it to adapt my goals for this month.

And this is what I’ve come up with!

  1. Make driving progress – I started practising test routes in my lessons in March and I convinced myself I would be ready to book my test at the end of the month and then when I wasn’t ready it was a massive bummer to have set myself the goal of booking the test and failed! So this month I’m adapting that goal slightly – I want to make progress and be closer to booking my test. When I book the test isn’t important but making progress and being for it is what I should focus on!
  2. Focus on diet – I was at a point where I was happy with smaller portions and better food and I want to get back to that, being more aware and putting more effort in is a start (she says as she samples a selection of macarons from last months trip to Paris! It’s all about compromise!)
  3. Work on photography – At the end of this month I’m going to a dance convention and last time I went to this convention, I took a lot of photos that I was really pleased with. Four or five years later I want to have made some improvement! I want to learn more and take technically better photos, so I need to go and practice with my Canon 100D – especially if I want to justify upgrading it at the end of the year.
  4. Start job applications again – it’s a little soul destroying, especially as it’s approaching a year since I finished my degree and graduated, but I’m not going to get anyone if I don’t try. I’m working with the careers team at my old uni to see if they can help and I am working as much as I can in my current job to tide me over. Just got to keep trying, I want to carry on doing the digital marketing course with Google Digital Garage and I’m going to carry on researching going to do a masters degree and something hopefully will figure itself out for me!
  5. Camp NaNoWriMo – another writing challenge! I’m training myself every other month for November’s 50,000 word NaNoWriMo challenge – in February I wrote 20,000 words in 28 days so this month I’m aiming for 25,000 words in 30 days! I wasn’t too sure what I was going to write about and then I had a very strange dream on the last night of March that I had to write down as soon as I woke up because I felt so compelled to develop and work on so that’s my last minute project!

The way I make my goals is generally by picking one thing from each of the categories in my New Year’s Resolutions (link), having a glance at my ten ‘bucket list’ style goals for the year and see if any of those are relevant, then anything else that’s relevant! It works really well for me to have lots of lists of goals – between 2019 goals, monthly goals, weekly tasks and even a 5 year plan/goals chart I have no reason to feel like I don’t have anything to do!

That being said, I still feel a bit lost sometimes – I’m still looking for a graduate job and with it coming up to a year since I finished my degree and graduated, it gets harder and harder to motivate myself but with all these lists and personal goals, even if my life takes a different turn I’ve always got something to focus on!

If you make monthly goals, tell me what they are! Are you still working on your New Year’s Resolutions? Let’s share and motivate each other!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

YouTube | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

I think this is a game plan… (Diary 3)

2018, career, fitness, lifestyle, writing

Hello!

When I planned to write this post (though, side note, should I write a post about how I plan my content?) I was expecting to write about how I was taking a step back from applying for jobs – I’ve been applying basically non-stop since about March and nothing had come from it other than a lot of money spent on three unsuccessful interviews and a whole ton of rejection emails. So I was going to talk about making the most of my time at home, working and saving as much as I could, finish learning to drive and try again next year – when all the graduate schemes are open again and hopefully this time I’ll find something that works for me.

But, if you haven’t guessed already, that’s not what I can write about because it’s not true for me any more.

I found basically the perfect job – part time flexible hours at first, building into something more over next year, being a PA and Admin Assistant and PR Exec and Social Media Assistant all in one, it’s local, I can carry on with my volunteering and work at my dance school, it was just perfect. And after a very informal, chatty interview last week I’ve got the position! Official Freelancer with work coming in, need to figure out invoices and maybe get an accountant kind of work and I still can’t quite believe it (but I’m so excited about it).

It’s only sods law that two other jobs that would be pretty brilliant have cropped up too but will see how all of that goes – things are kind of working out for me and after feeling like everything was a bit piggly (just for you Miss Debbie!) and I’d been left with the crap at the bottom of the barrel for months now, I don’t think I couldn’t be happier about it.

So what’s going to be the focus of my ‘diary’ post now? Well I got a job, I’m loving my home life of volunteering at my dance school and going back to tap classes, alongside that I’m really enjoying working out and eating healthy and I’m seeing results (unfitness update coming up in the next few weeks!), I’ve worked on really shortening my to do lists and prioritising the things that really need doing and that’s working really well for my productivity and overall I’ve feeling fulfilled, busy and motivated.

Obviously, not 100% of the time – I don’t want to talk about the bad stuff here (I half have a post planned for that too), I want to talk about the good times right now but for transparency’s sake, I wanted to clarify that I’ve not turned my life around to being a happy, productivity person every single day because no one is, that would just be ridiculous.

But I’m feeling really good right now!

November has also been extra busy because I’ve been taking part in NaNoWriMo and it’s stressful, but really inspiring to be a part of this community that wants everyone to be a winner, no matter how many words they’ve written! I may be behind on my word count but I’ve written 27,037 words in just 20 days starting from nothing? That’s actually insane! (Just don’t think too hard about the people who wrote 50k in three days because that is just mental)

One of the things I said in my ‘things I’d tell my teenage self‘ video has really stuck with me since I made it – everything is hard work. If you want something to be the best it can be, it’s going to be hard work but once you’ve accepted that, put the work in to whatever you’re passionate about, then it’s so rewarding. I’m throwing myself headfirst into my freelance position and I’m going to make a life for myself – no ifs, buts or maybes, I’m going to do it.

And it’s going to be brilliant.

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

YouTube | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

NaNoWriMo 2018!

2018, lifestyle, writing

Hello!

I feel like I’ve spent the last three weeks explaining NaNoWriMo in every blog post and YouTube video but it means I’m good at summarising it quickly so here’s that – National Novel Writing Month is an online community website challenge thing where lots of writers try to write 50,000 words in 30 days. Often they write novels, but some people write screenplays and poems and all sorts, it’s just a celebration of writing!

I first tried NaNoWriMo in 2011 but only managed about 15k but I do still really like the story idea and then in 2012 I was much more prepared – this was the novel that I finished and would one day like to get published but to be honest, I haven’t properly had time for NaNo since. Just because of exams and school and uni or whatever – I did give it a go last year just to try and get back into writing because I missed it but I was also drowning under millions of assignments and it was an awful time.

So here we are in 2018 trying again! I didn’t think of a novel idea and I’m not in the right mindset to work on my 2012 novel again (but I will definitely rewrite it at some point) so this year is just for writing whatever I want and getting back into the habit of writing every day.

I love writing – it’s part of the reason I went to study journalism because I couldn’t find any other courses that combined copywriting, video and photography in the same way. And since I started uni I fell out of the habit of creative writing so now that I’m home and I don’t have assignments or uni to worry about I want to get back into the habit of it because I miss having that creative outlet!

On Day 1, I only managed to write about 600 words while we were watching TV but then when I took my computer up to bed I wrote the last 1100 words to hit the target of 1667 words a day and I now know that if I don’t want to be writing till 11 o’clock at night I need to get the bulk of the word count done before I sit down to watch TV in the evening!

But also sometimes that’s just how it’s got to be – I think my goal is to be writing down notes and doing what I can on the go, whether it’s on the bus, while I’m volunteering, jotting down things on paper or whatever, so that it makes writing in the evening a little easier.

For some people, NaNoWriMo is the sole focus – I saw someone in a Facebook group talking about how they were aiming for 10k on the first day, but I think for most people it’s just squeezing it in around the everyday. Whether it’s being a student, being a parent, working full time, NaNoWriMo is an amazing community that just motivates and supports other writers and it’s so much fun!

Good luck if you’re participating! If you had no idea what it was, I hope you’ve learnt a little bit about NaNo!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

YouTube | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram