- Be prepared to write garbage. A lot of it. “Better to write twaddle (her word for it) than nothing at all,” said Katherine Mansfield. Too many writers get hung up on writing a first perfect line/paragraph/chapter and never go beyond. The blank page is intimidating, but you have to put the words down for the story to be written.
- Write in spite of everything happening around you. Write because of everything. Life will always get in the way of your writing. I’ve written through illness, upheaval, and heart-wrenching loss, and I’m telling you it can be done. Carve out the time for it, even if it’s only a few minutes here, an hour there. (My author mom called this the “patchwork quilt” method of writing.) Let it be an outlet for busyness and stress. If you let it, the writing can save you.
- Write the story you want to read. I’ve written eight books—two narrative adventure nonfictions set in the Arctic, a historical fiction series, a memoir about my Indiana high school years, and a young adult novel about suicide, depression, and first love. At first glance, the themes of my writing are all over the place. But the thing each book has in common is that it was something I wanted to read.
The Publishing Deal
I’m a writer by trade and I always knew I’d like to have a crack at writing a book. In January 2012, I started to write what I assumed would be the first of a string of bestselling YA novels. I would franchise the shit out of this thing. TV shows, movies, spin-off series, merchandise, a line of nail polish with witty, on-point names – I’d dreamed it all up before I’d even finished the first chapter.
Anyway, I wrote about 10,000 words of this Soon-to-Be Bestseller and wondered how quickly I could become mega-famous and rich from it. So I emailed a book publicist I knew and liked, with the subject line: READ THIS IMMEDIATELY AND TELL ME IT’S NOT THE BEST THING YOU’VE SET EYES ON SINCE THE FAULT IN OUR STARS.
I wrote something along the lines of, ‘Hey Kel, would you mind having a look at this when you get a sec and letting me know if it’s not total BS? Ta.’ To my eternal gratitude, she replied that very same day, saying, ‘This is really funny. I like it – I’m going to send to my publisher.’
Cue heart palpitations and another email – this time, to the people at OPI, to flag an upcoming nail polish line I wanted their help with.
What came next was very long and ultimately, very disappointing. It spanned the next two years, and considering I’ve just spent the last 200 or so words telling you about one afternoon, let’s skim the “long” and “disappointing” bit, shall we? What happened was:
– the publishing company was very interested. They suggested some edits that I happily made.
– They recommended I write the whole thing before taking it to what is called an “acquisitions meeting,” where publishers and the sales and marketing teams decide if they want your manuscript. I agreed, because I was in love with the book and also with the thought of being the next John Green (whose writing, incidentally, my own was compared to. I have only mentioned this about eight million times since I first heard it. If you didn’t catch it in this sentence you’ll catch it further along, when I mention it the next couple of thousand times).
– I wrote the whole thing and it was taken to the fabled acquisitions meeting. I was seven months pregnant and my nan, who I love so much, was dying. I mention these things only so you will feel more sorry for me when you hear that… my book was not picked up. I was devastated. I felt like I’d been dumped by someone I was deeply in love with.
– The publisher I had been dealing with (whom, it should be mentioned, is lovely and very intelligent and nurturing and essentially all the things you want in someone potentially publishing your book) told me that “everyone loved it” but also it had to change entirely because the comparison title had not sold well. Comparison titles are books that marketing and sales people use to compare your manuscript with. Occasionally it is flattering to see what your comparison title is – it was not flattering to see what mine was. I knew exactly why it hadn’t sold well – it was a really terrible book. But it was also set in the same sort of world as my book, and that’s why it was my comparison title.
– Anyway, my publisher asked me to change the setting of my novel. I was very upset but reluctantly agreed because of the nail polish line I was still massively into.
In January 2014, two years after this whole thing began, I finally had some sample chapters ready (I am not lazy, I just had a child and spent a year feeding her with my own body) and sent them off. At the same time, I had been playing around with another idea for a book. I’d had my own baby but I saw people all around me struggling with infertility. They were heartbroken with grief but trying to push on, to give it one more go. It made me wonder how far I would go to help a friend who couldn’t have a child. That’s how I got the idea for She’s Having Her Baby. The main character, Georgie, agrees to be her best friend Nina’s surrogate. That is all I’m telling you because you’d better go buy it.
I had written some sample chapters and sent them to another publisher I knew from the original publishing company, Jeanne Ryckmans, who was now working at Black Inc. I love Jeanne because she begins sentences like, ‘When I lived in Paris…’ and ‘The thing about dating [INSERT NAME OF FAMOUS AUSTRALIAN ACTOR HERE]…’ in a very genuine and completely un-pretentious way because she did live in Paris and also has dated famous actors. She is super-intelligent, knows her shit and dresses like she works for French Vogue. I don’t mind admitting I would very much like to be her protege. I asked her if she liked it, if it was on the right track. Within three weeks, I had a publishing deal.
See? It was easy.
Then, of course, I got an offer from the original company for my original book. I wanted to accept it but couldn’t, in good faith, take their offer and then tell them I already had an offer. So I did the right thing and chose honesty, and where did it get me? Nowhere. Well, not exactly, but they did rescind their offer and we thought it best to call the whole thing off.
Which brings me to the best and most important point: I had an offer! I was going to have a book published! Yay! So exciting! I had written 15,000 words! Which meant I only had about 70,000 to go! And about four months to write those words!
I signed my offer in February 2014 and submitted my manuscript on June 1. It was about 85,000 words, I think. As I mentioned, I have a toddler and a job, so I got it done whenever I could spare the time. When people ask me what my ‘process’ is, I stare at them blankly and try to remember where and when I wrote my book. I didn’t have a desk (feel sorrier for me, please) and I didn’t have a lot of time. I wrote when my baby napped, when she was asleep at night, before she woke up in the morning. I wrote on my day off work, when my Mum would take my baby for a few hours and I would head to the library (thanks for the free wi-fi, Haberfield Library!) I wrote on weekends when my husband was home, too.
I drank a lot of coffee but eventually, it got done and you know what? It’s actually the best book that has ever been written.
So I guess it was worth it.
Jeanne was pretty hands-off while I wrote (she’d answer my questions but essentially left me to it). When I’d finished, I was assigned an editor from Black Inc – the amazing, smart, unflappable Kirstie Innes-Will, who I like to call KIW because that is how I roll. Anyway, KIW read the manuscript, made lots of incredibly helpful and fabulous suggestions and importantly, got me and got the book straight away. She understood the funny bits and the sad bits and helped shaped the bits that were meant to be funny but weren’t quite there yet. We had a Skype session and chatted about the book, then she sent me her edits and I got to work putting them into place. Since my book is about surrogacy, I needed to fact-check a few things, too, and I did a lot of research into infertility and alternate methods of getting pregnant (guys, ‘turkey baster’ is not a euphemism).
There were three rounds of edits, in total, as well as proofreading. I have heard that editing is a goddamn nightmare but I’m happy to report that KIW made it super-easy and actually, quite fun. I liked this stage the best because I am a typical type-A eager-to-please student, and doing things other people have told me to do is where I thrive. I would be pretty good in the army.
Having worked in magazines, I know how important covers are. So obviously I was terrified when it came to choosing a cover for my own book, knowing how easily it can make or break you as a writer (no pressure, designers!)
Black Inc showed me a couple of options that I did not like. I told them and they swiftly asked a freelance designer to whip something up, and the cover design she presented was AMAZING AND I ADORED IT. I am a big font nerd (I know, sexy) and I imagined having difficult and confrontational arguments over this design aspect, but honestly – she nailed it. I stepped down from my high horse and watched it ride into the sunset, never to be seen again.
I also started working with Anna Lensky, Elisabeth Young and Imogen Kandel, who all work in marketing and publicity at Black Inc. They are all terrific individuals who told me how much they loved my book. I want to keep them in my pocket at all times. As I type, we are working on a plan for world domination. I mean a publicity and marketing strategy. I feel very confident in their abilities and also in the resources they have at their disposal. Nero, the imprint of Black Inc my book is being published by, is pretty small. For me, this is a good thing. I’m just starting out, so I need to be nurtured at the bosom of this small but excellent company. There are no other books on the Nero list like mine. Nero is excited about this book. They want it to do well. They don’t have 150 other books to promote and market. They can spend money and time on my book. This makes me feel very, very good and obviously, if this thing doesn’t sell, it’s all my own fault.
So, where does this leave us? The book is written, I am mildly anxious that it is a complete flop but also heartened that I have had an amazing publishing experience. Soon I will meet with buyers from big bookstores – Dymock’s, Big W, Newslink and the like. This is very important because, as much as we all want to be arty and indie and adored by Hilary Mantel, we all need to sell our books in order to continue writing and someday be adored by Hilary Mantel. So you want your book in big chains, not just charming little bookstores run by Meg Ryan. You want it at airports, where people will (hopefully) think, ‘Gosh, flying to Europe is boooooring. I’d better get an amazing book to while away the time. Wait… what about this one, by Lauren Sams? It’s called She’s Having Her Baby and it looks sooooooo good. I’d better buy it then tell all my friends to do the same!’
ALL ABOUT She’s Having Her Baby ($29.99, Black Inc)
Georgie Henderson doesn’t want to have kids, but her best friend, Nina Doherty, has wanted to have a baby for as long as she can remember. Sadly, Nina’s uterus refuses to cooperate. One drunken evening, Nina asks Georgie for the ultimate favour: would she carry a baby for her? Georgie says yes – and spends the next nine months wondering why!
With intense bacon-and-egg roll cravings and distant memories of what her feet look like, she tries to keep it all together in her dream job as the editor of Joliemagazine. Her love life’s a mess – and sauvignon blanc’s off the menu – leaving Georgie to deal with twists in her life she never expected.
- Know your boundaries: This is so important. Knowing your ‘brand’ (urgh, sorry about using that word…) and personal limitations will keep your content targeted and appropriate. It will also help to prevent any irrelevant or potentially damaging information being shared. Would you be comfortable with readers, relatives and colleagues seeing what you’ve posted? If not, delete, delete, delete. If so, carry on! Good job! A+ for effort!
- Identify your audience: It seems obvious, but keeping tabs on who’s following you on social media can help with user engagement. How old are they? Male, female, both? What posts do they enjoy the most? Photos? Videos? Links? Statuses? Knowing this information will help you build a loyal online community.
- Give readers value: I see social media as a chance for conversation rather than as a chance to step on a soap box. Think of ways you can engage with your followers, rather than bark self-promo information or photos at them. Before posting on your professional writer pages, ask yourself: “What’s the point of this post? What am I offering people?” The answer will let you know if it’s worth posting. PS: Sure, as an author, you have to work your self-promo side from time to time, but break it up with other things – otherwise your page will feel like an ad. Not ideal.
- Tell us, in a nutshell, how you got your start in the industry. As you can guess from the last question, I relied largely on my writers’ group who I love oh-so-much, but I also did many other things that I believe were instrumental in establishing myself as a writer. I attended lots of writing festivals and events to network with people in the writing community/industry, such as other aspiring authors, published authors, editors, publishers. People, especially all-important editors, will begin to remember you if they see you out and about enough. I also entered lots of competitions for unpublished manuscripts, which helped demonstrate my writing ability in my submissions. I also made sure I was very familiar with the market by reading widely and having industry contacts.My greatest difficulty, initially, was sifting through all the information out there for writers, knowing which of the competitions were worth entering and which events worth attending. Knowing the right stuff comes from experience and having other writers you can draw on, which I was lucky enough to have.
- What were some of the difficulties you encountered when trying to establish yourself as a writer? Did you rely on any tools, mentors, groups or writers centres/courses for help? I credit my start in the industry to my writers’ group who I love oh-so-much. I first joined the picture book writing group at the NSW Writers’ Centre in 2010 and at the time I really knew nothing about writing picture books. At that point I hadn’t done much writing either; I had really only decided that I wanted to write. The members of the group were so open and supportive, and I learnt so much from them. Not only that but they were very proactive in seeking publishing opportunities and in 2011 invited an editor from Koala Books to attend one of our meetings to read and critique our work. She liked my story The Prince who Shrank so much she took it back to the office with her. A few months later, I had a publishing contract. The Prince who Shrank will be finally released in February. My next two books, a children’s chapter book, The Ugg Boot War with Omnibus Books and my young adult novel, Masquerade with Penguin Books Australia are two different stories again. You can hear me talk about how I got these contracts on my video blog, if you are interested. But without my writers’ group, I truly believe that I would not be here four and a half years later with three books published.
- What has been your biggest career highlight so far? And the biggest lesson you have learnt? Definitely the release of my young adult novel, Masquerade last July has been my biggest career highlight so far. I’ve been so lucky to have so many wonderful readers and bloggers who share their experiences of reading Masquerade with me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc. I love chatting with them both as a writer and a fangirl myself. Writers don’t receive a lot of income from their books but when you see the impact your book has on people, it makes it all worth it.
The biggest lesson I learnt during this time was just how tirelessly authors work to promote their own books and how important it is to the success of a book. It’s fun and amazing and I wouldn’t trade it for an army of miniature publicists but it is a lot of work.
- What gets you inspired? As much as I fantasise about having a writing tower – think: comfy castle tower – and locking myself away in it sometimes, it’s when I’m out in the world, not writing that I get inspired. It could be the idea for a new book or an idea for a book that I’m working on already. I could be out sailing in Sydney Harbour, see Luna Park and suddenly know where my characters will meet next. Or I could be at St James Station and a friend points out the arched ceiling between the two platforms and tells me that there is multiple train unused tunnels beneath the city and I’m inspired with an idea for a new book. Both these things happened recently. It’s great because “inspiration” is a great excuse to see and do lots.Reading also inspires me. One author, I can’t remember who, said that writers should read everything that’s better than what they write. So I read A LOT. The great books I read inspire me to be a better author.
- What’s next on your goals list? I need to finish the first draft of my work in process before anything else! Somehow, everything else is getting in the way at the moment – holidaying, namely! After that, I’m probably going to look for a US agent, learn basic German (for the next stage of my work in progress) and perfect my pasta dough, because pasta gives you energy for writing, right?
- What’s your typical day like? Since writing is not my day job (yet!), I mostly write in the afternoons, on the weekends and during school holidays (I’m a primary school teacher). I work on a laptop or iPad, so I write pretty much anywhere and everywhere – the lounge, my bed, the kitchen table. Not so good for my posture, I’m guessing! If I start writing in the morning, it will take me a while to get out of my PJs but eventually I will. I tend to skip meals when I’m in the writing zone and snack on chocolate and cake. Not so good for my waistline! I do try to fit in exercise if I’ve been sitting down all day, usually in the form of exercise DVDs or a walk. I get easily sidetracked by other writing-related jobs I have to do, such as interviews, emails, social media accounts, video blog. At the end of the day, I lay back with a book or watch The Big Bang Theory.
- What advice can you offer to people who aspire to get into a similar role/field? I tell, and ever-so-lightly order, aspiring writers to join a writers’ group. They will give you invaluable support and encouragement, as well as being there to give feedback on your manuscript, brainstorm, to help with difficult decisions and to celebrate your success. Most importantly, they don’t let you give up. You can find writers’ groups through your local writers centre or a quick internet search. It’s also useful to attend writing festivals and events to network with people in the writing community, sorry to be repetitive. It definitely gives you a leg up when trying to get your work published. Australia has such a wonderful, open writing community and even before I was a published author, I felt like I was a part of it.
The Speedy Six:
- Describe yourself in one word: ?Creative
- You wish you wrote: The Harry Potter series, not for the money but for the story. Although the money would be nice…
- Can’t leave home without: My moblie
- First thing you wrote: A rip-off of The Secret Garden when I was in year three.
- If you were a character in a novel, you’d be: Karou from The Daughter of Smoke. Who wouldn’t want naturally blue hair?
- The best thing about being a wordsmith: Being able to create things – characters, moments, places, relationships – that didn’t exist before.
I often hate it when people tag me in photos. I’m usually captured at my worst in these snaps – unkempt hair, mid-sentence, mouth-agape – and yet they always make their way onto the internet for all to see. But there’s one photo that was taken of me one night in Croatia that I loved so much it made it to the prized and privileged space that is my Facebook cover photo. It’s not the prettiest photo around – I’m not wearing any makeup, I am not in my most stylish outfit, and I am not exactly composed and graceful, but it reminds me of a very special time in my life. A time when I let loose, relaxed and really, really lived. And all that living happened quite by chance, on a little boat in Croatia, on a cruise I never wanted to go on.
I found myself aboard the little boat a little begrudgingly. I had always chosen our holiday destinations and planned our itineraries, so when Mr Wordsmith suggested hopping aboard a Sail Croatia cruise it was only fair to oblige him. After all, marriage was about compromise. Never mind the fact that the thought of a week on a boat filled me with dread. Before I knew it, I was boarding said boat in Dubrovnik, along with about 12 other people who would be our ‘ship mates’ for the journey.
Even now, using the term ship mates amuses me. It’s a term used loosely to describe the forced social settings that such trips entail. You spend so much time with people you don’t know, who you might not otherwise associate with, or who in some cases, make you grit your teeth in frustration. But you’re forced to – for the sake of sanity and politeness and making the most of a situation – to smile and enjoy yourself and try think of the wonders and sights around you instead. When the trip ends, you find yourself with photos that you’ll have for a lifetime with people in it that you knew for the meantime, and it’s not always a good thing. You’re forced to make or accept friend requests on social media, to promise to ‘catch up’ in future, to call in if you happen to be in said tour mate’s hometown or whatever.
It’s safe to say then that I was cynical before even boarding the ship. I had slowly lost contact with (and in some cases un-friended) the people from my first ever tour at 22. Only one friend remained, someone I still see when I head to Melbourne or she to Sydney. I never went on one of those tours again – and thought I never would, and yet here I was doing it again five years later, and on water no less. No escape. I had no idea what lay in store.
It started of course with the awkward boarding stage. The forced friendliness. The silent assessment of other people. There were A LOT of Australians. From all over the fair land. Singles and couples. Three Kiwis, one who my husband told me in the instant he boarded was our token madman. (He was right on the money). One Englishwoman, and a guy from San Diego. We had the group lunch ‘to bond’. It was still awkward. We broke into small groups (of our own accord) and walked Dubrovnik. We ate ice-cream, talked about Game of Thrones (I had nothing to contribute because I am probably the only person in the world to not have watched it). We went out for dinner. Then we went out for drinks. A couple of people danced. We were still teetering around each other. I didn’t expect it to change. But it did.
We were still teetering around each other. I didn’t expect it to change. But it did.
I don’t know how it happened, but we eased into a comfortable, simple relationship. We mixed around a lot. Girls went off together, boys climbed rocky mountains on islands and went drinking. Our madman Kiwi had some super funky speedos on, and before we knew it, he had convinced all the boys to wear some too. My husband bought some Kylie Minogue gold hot pants that I am still not allowed to throw away. One of the others were these fluro green speedos that left little to the imagination when he left the water. I asked the boys to do the Haka and they did it – on a main road in Split in the middle of the night. I ate the best sardines of my life…and I don’t even like sardines.
It might have been the weather. We went at the end of summer and on some days, it rained. We had to make our own fun. We adopted snails which we raced one day. We had a terrible movie marathon day on another. And we drank. Long Island Iced Teas and Pina Coladas and Mojitos in big, one litre jugs. And when we drank, we danced. To really loud music. We invaded other people’s boats and got in trouble for it. We hit the clubs and rolled into bed at all hours of the night.
When we drank, we danced. To really loud music. We invaded other people’s boats and got in trouble for it. We hit the clubs and rolled into bed at all hours of the night. The next night, we pressed repeat.
It could have been our small group. This wasn’t a tour of 28 people. We were like a big, blended family. We named our Tour Leader after Princess Jasmine. We looked to her for guidance. She showed us the islands and made sure we savoured the culture and the communities as well as the partying and the booze. She was our mother hen.
And when the weather took turns that dampened our excursions of buggy rides or scuba diving (not that I could imagine myself doing either), she took us into the heart of each island. We went into people’s homes. Learnt how to make Pasta. We sang songs and drank wine at someone else’s table. Danced on someone else’s dining room floor (where my aforementioned photo was taken). We posed, dined and drank with locals. We had grappa shots and talked about family, friendships, money and work.
One night, when we went out dancing, some of our handbags got stolen. Husband chased after the offender and tackled him to the ground, just as he tossed our things into the ocean. Someone else stripped off completely and lunged in after them, at 3am and in the pouring rain. People offered to lend me money, phones to contact the bank, anything I needed really. We didn’t let it ruin our fun. The next night, we pressed repeat. And when the sun came out, we went out onto the deck of the boat or jumped into the ocean. One week later, we said good bye to one another.
It’s safe to say I think back to this trip with a certain fondness. I had left Australia a newly published author. There was a lot of hard work behind me and I looked forward to celebrating. I drank beer at Oktoberfest and walked the streets of Paris with my love at my side. I lived it up in Rome for the first time after three visits. I shook hands with the Pope and sat up on the sacristy at a Papal Mass swarming with tens of thousands of people. And I listened to my husband and went to Croatia, where I danced every single night for a week and really let my hair down. It was the only time I never shopped on holidays. I was too busy enjoying myself in a fun, new way.
It was time to start a new chapter, and I had just had the best farewell ever for my old life.
A month after coming home, I peed on a stick and saw the faint pink line I had been wanting to see for a long time. It was time to start a new chapter, and I had just had the best farewell ever for my old life.
I could have seen Croatia a different way. I could have done my own thing. I could have remained cynical, but the warmth of some of my group wouldn’t have allowed it. It’s safe to say they earned the term ship mates, and that sometimes it’s those reluctant journeys you take that are the ones that really bring it home.
Have you ever gone along to something that completely exceeded your expectations?
- If there’s one place to go to in all of Croatia, my pick would be Dubrovnik. I love the old city much more than it’s more ‘cosmopolitan’ counterpart, Split. Give yourself a couple of days to take in its history and hike the fort, drink at the bars (Skybar was buzzing when I was there, and the cocktails come in buckets) and stare out at the orange roofs and lovely sea.
- Have a wonderful Croatian meal at Belin, on the island of Korcula. The venue is a part of someone’s house, in their actual village. If he has time, he’ll even take you for a little wander and explain some old village traditions to you. Make a reservation in the busy months!
- Pharos Agro Tourism Ranch on the Island of Hvar is a fabulous, organic, UNESCO site great for sampling some local wine. I had a marvellous dinner there (site of the photo referred to in this post, which you can see on my Facebook page here).
- Also in Hvar, I had an absolute blast at Nautica bar. Our group had our jager train shots with the bar on fire, and danced well into the morning hours.
- Make sure you buy yourself some Croatian take-home treats and hand-made products while in Split, where locals sell their wares at weekend markets. Croatia is famous for its truffles, so I came home with truffle products and other edible delights from a gourmet food store (there are a few on the strip) as well.
Recently added these colourful YA titles to my TBR pile
I can’t believe it’s already the last week of February and the last week of summer. Soon enough, the days will be shorter, the nights crisper, and the cravings for cold comforts will be more overwhelming. In the mean time I am still adding to my warm-weather wardrobe, eating loads of mangoes, and taking long breaks out in the garden with my little girl. There’s a lot on my agenda at the moment: never-ending book edits, planning the little one’s baptism, and social engagements that eat up the weekend. Which makes those rare moments in front of the telly watching a favourite TV show (I’m loving Forever right now) so special and relaxing – especially when I have some great snacks on hand, just like my special popcorn below. Hope your humpday is going beautifully!
I love the sweet smell of Dove’s Pure Care Dry Oil ($19.99), which adds a little life to dull, dry ends
I feel like this shirt (Myer Miss Shop, $19.95) has my name written all over it.
Want to fancify your popcorn? Drizzle butter, truffle oil and grated parmesan over hot cooked popcorn and enjoy this luxe alternative to a staple snack.
Wrapping up this Circa Home Fragrance Diffuser ($39.95) for a dear friend, who love its nostalgic nod to YMCA dance sessions, games on the back verandah, jumpsuits and all things 1979.
- Get dressed. There’s nothing like part-taking in your usual morning routine to help you set the tone for the day ahead. Getting dressed adds a certain seriousness to your work day, helps you feel fresh and alive, and enables you to approach your tasks with the professional outlook they require. Working in PJs may sound appealing, but you end up feeling lethargic and unaccomplished when you do. I’ve sometimes been at home and have had to rush out to do an interview that someone else couldn’t make, or to do a skype chat, so getting dressed also ensures you can zip out quickly if you need to.
- Work that work space. Having a work space allows you to really separate your work from your home life, creating that ideal balance that allows you to start fresh everyday. When you sit at your desk, you’re not glancing around the room to find that you really ought to do some dusting, or some ironing, or whatever else is on your list. Even if it’s just a little desk underneath the stairs or in the corner of the living room – it’s your sacred space and working from it – while keeping it tidy – ensures you stay focused and productive.
- Schedule it like a work day. You wouldn’t hang up your washing and watch Ellen from your office, so why do it at home? Spend your time at the end of each day writing out your goals for the next one – that way you’ve let out everything that’s on your mind so you can go about your evening stress-free, and approach each new day with the focus on achieving those tasks in particular blocks of time. Use your favourite blocker/self-control apps to ban you from sites that impact your productivity, and set particular blocks of time to do things like answer emails, make phone calls, use social media and filing/maintenance.