Writing: Lessons from the past

| Writing

photo copy

My current pinboard – for inspiration & plot planning

Today I set out to get my study back into workable shape following its brief metamorphosis into a Christmas spare bedroom (sorry about all the books, and the inflatable bed, little brother). Whilst hoiking furniture round I unearthed a small pinboard I hadn’t seen for a while (see above for my current gargantuan school classroom size one, which I use for inspiration and visual plot planning).


This little pinpricked beauty (to the left) used to be propped behind my £19 shaky Argos desk in the second bedroom of our London flat, when I first quit my job in fashion and decided to pursue a writing career. My husband and I cobbled together a financial plan and agreed I could take a year out to give it a shot. At the one year mark, and seemingly no closer to realising my dream, I took a part time job to keep funding my writing.


Many, many, many, many people thought I was nuts, and there were certainly times when I, exhausted from hours of unpaid typing, reading, studying, and trying to learn my craft, thought I was nuts too. We moved out to Hertfordshire, and I gained a room of my own: a study, with a huge vintage school desk, and the huge school pin board. And I got there. I got an agent, a book deal, and a number of articles published in newspapers and magazines. Somewhere along the way that little pinboard got tucked away, saved for another occasion. I’d forgotten its very existence until today. Along the top I’ve written (in my dreadful handwriting):


‘Ne pas oser, c’est ne rien faire qui vaille’

– Without daring, nothing is achieved


I believe it’s by Napoleon Bonaparte. My past self was brave and wise to write that. Sometimes in life you have to jump. As I look back at 2013, the year my first book was published, but also the year I lost 6 months to a chronic health condition that saw me unable to type and fearing the repercussions if I did, I realise it’s time to be brave again. I have to jump. I have to try. I’ve typed up the quote, printed it out and stuck it once more to my current pinboard.

Wishing us all a happy, and daring 2014.


6 Comments on Writing: Lessons from the past

  1. Angela
    05/01/2014 at 7:07 pm (4 years ago)

    You too: he who dares, wins! xx

  2. Angela
    05/01/2014 at 7:06 pm (4 years ago)

    We are all brave in hundreds of little ways each day. x

  3. Aaron
    05/01/2014 at 6:08 pm (4 years ago)

    I’m a hypocrite for saying this because I am not at all brave, but good decision. My NOT being brave only reminds me of how valuable to us all you brave folks are.

  4. Ruth F Hunt
    05/01/2014 at 4:54 pm (4 years ago)

    The quote is just what I need above my desk – or on my spokes! 🙂
    Being daring is hard when having a chronic condition or disability but you have shown to dare and dream can have amazing results. I wish you all the best for the future and for your writing. xx

  5. Angela
    05/01/2014 at 2:42 pm (4 years ago)

    Thank you, Alison. It’s definitely a learning curve I’m on as well. Wishing you a great year too. x

  6. Alison Clayton-Smith
    05/01/2014 at 2:40 pm (4 years ago)

    Hi Angela

    It’s such a hard one, with a chronic condition, knowing when to be daring and by how much. Being too daring in my life has been one of my problems, so I’m re-educating myself about what’s healthy. Luckily writing seems to be, so far, proving to be a very good thing, so long as keep an eye on pain and energy levels.

    Hope you have a better year.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Join My Pen Knife Readers Club

Sign up for exclusive free writing tips, publishing secrets, reader recommendations, swanky competitions, and all my latest news and gossip.