Productivity Coaching

3 Ways to Turn On Your Creativity Tap

Your creative tap might be rusting out of use, so let’s look at ways to get it turned back on and that innovative water flowing.

Here is one of my favourite writing quotes:

“The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.” —Louis L’Amour.

What does this mean exactly? It means that we should not wait around for inspiration to strike if we want to get some writing done. Go after it with your pen poised. Let’s look into three ways to turn on that creativity tap:

1) Workbooks and Classes.

I cannot express to you the amount of joy that I found through Creative Writing classes over the year, both as a teacher and a student. They have helped me hone my skill set, understand what the craft of writing is about, and most importantly of all, have taught me to prioritise my writing life. Workbooks have a similar effect too, and taking that opportunity to write, create, and learn about something you care about, doesn’t just make you a better writer. It makes you a happier one, and it makes you more comfortable with the title of writer. You are a writer, friend, so it’s time to invest in yourself and your art.

I offer options for this – click here to see The Time to Write Workbook.

This has been developed to help you find time in your working week to write. For the price of a cup of coffee, you can invest in yourself.

I also offer the amazing It’s Time to Write Your Novel masterclass. This 40 class programme is designed to take you from procrastination to print – through the stages of writing your novel. The classes are developed to fit into a busy day so that finding time for yourself is not so difficult.

Once you begin to prioritise your writing life through workbooks, classes, and investing in yourself – you will find that the creative faucet is so much easier to turn on. After all, practice makes progress, and by setting this time aside to work on something you care about, you are making progress.

2) Writing exercises.

Writing exercises are the oil for the rusty faucet! I absolutely love them, and they spark exciting ideas. Here are two of my favourites:

Freewriting. Freewriting is precisely as it sounds – it is the act of putting pen to paper and writing a steady stream of consciousness.

Changing the point of view. Writing from another character’s point of view in your story is a fantastic way to get to know it better. Through this exercise, you can learn more about your characters, your world, and your plotline.

3) Investigation into your process. 

If we do not spend some time considering how we write, why we write, and what makes our writing life better, it will never change. If you are not happy with the writing world you have created and find it hard to get inspired; it’s time to investigate your process. This act alone will help you develop a routine and writing process that actually works for you, meaning that when you sit down to write, you are ready to create with passion.

1:1 coaching is ideal for this step, and through working with a writing coach such as myself, you can understand your process and how you can create a novel you are proud of.

Try the above things if you want to turn that creative faucet on, and let me know how you get on! Looking for more productivity hacks? Click here.


How to Use Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs for Your Character Development

Are you ready to develop your characters in a new way? Why not try using Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. This pyramid (as seen below) is something that I use all the time. I use it in my coaching, in my personal life, and in my writing. Why? Because it helps me prioritise my workload and personal life, teach how to prioritise, and understand my character’s needs as well.

So, how can Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs teach us about and help us develop our characters? It’s all about their motivation. Motivation is the thing that drives your character and story forward.

As you can see from the pyramid, we begin at the bottom with physiological needs. So, what physiological needs could be driving your character forward?

In my novel The Birth of Ida, my main character finds herself in an inhospitable land that she has never before dealt with. That means that a lot of her development takes place at the bottom rung on this pyramid. She is cold, hungry, and a little desperate. Therefore, she learns to hunt, build fires on snow, and become an all-round badass outdoorswoman. This is a part of her character development.

The next level is safety needs. Let’s look at Ida again. If I consider her motivation in this section, she is driven to protect herself and reclaim her property. That is another level of her motivation. Remember that characters, like people, are complex. They won’t just have one level of motivation because all of us have these levels. Usually, we need to satiate hunger before we can move up a level, for example.

The next level is love and belonging. Ida is a bit of a lone wolf in this category, but she does have her horse, who fulfils her need for belonging. It might be that you are writing a romance, and so your character’s motivation in this section is more substantial than Ida’s. That’s down to each character and person.

Now we’re onto esteem. This level is about respect and freedom. Ida’s motivation at this level is strong – she is striving to be respected as a woman in a patriarchal world, and after being locked up for many years, she values freedom above all else. That goes some way to explaining why her belongingness category is not so important to her – her values are different.

The highest level is self-actualisation. This level is all about achieving your highest potential – it’s the highest goal. Of course, this is most likely your main characters most easily spotted motivation – because the big goal is what we usually consider. But, remember that a character or person cannot reach this level unless the other levels have been considered. After all, one needs a full belly, some support, and at least a little respect to slay a dragon.

A well-rounded character will include all of these things, so try this with your main character today and see how they develop according to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

Any questions about this? Get in touch and ask; I would be happy to answer!

If you need a hand with your writing craft, I can help. As a lecturer in Creative Writing for over six years, and with a PhD, MA and BA in the subject, I am well poised to answer any issues you have been facing.


How to Find the Genre of Your Book

Some writers know exactly what the genre of their book is, and that is wonderful. However, sometimes it can be tricky to work out the genre. It might be that you started writing something that changed in development, or perhaps that you never had a handle on what the genre was in the first place.

What is genre? 

Genre is a category. You can have genres of music, art, and literature. It might be that you prefer reading fantasy and listening to folk music. Those are both genres.

Why does it matter?

It matters because it helps you find your ideal reader. It can also help you find the agent or publisher that works best for you. Genre is essentially a way of setting expectations.

How do I discover my genre?

If you are unsure what genre your novel is, it’s time to do some research. Here are ways to find out:

1) Consider which books your book is similar to.
What have you written, and what have you read that is just like it? Then, it’s time to think about the readers of those books. What other books do they enjoy? You can spend some time online searching for books similar to what you have decided is like your novel. Once you have chosen around seven that are comparable, you should find that they are all a similar genre.

2) Identify genre components in your novel. 
What does your story include? Is it magical with dragons? Or is it set in the modern world? Is there a heist or a crime? Is the main focus a love story?

Once you know what your components are, you can think about your specific reader again. Who would LOVE what you have written? Consider your ideal reader and what else they read. The person you have created in your mind is partial to a genre, and elements that you have included in your novel fit them perfectly.

It’s not always easy to pin down your genre, and that might be because your book fits into a few genres. Crossovers exist, and it’s fine to do this. After all – I’m writing a Wild West Fantasy myself.

So how do you decide which one to go for? 

Pick the overriding element in your story. For example, you might be writing a crime story with a romance subplot. Which plot takes prescient? Is it crime or romance? Whichever the alpha tale is, that’s the genre to go for.

Any more questions about genre or struggling to find yours? Get in touch today, and let’s see if we can break it down for you! Need more help with craft? Click here.


How to Create a Realistic Character

A realistic character can make all the difference to a reader. It can keep them engaged, draw them into a story, and even make them fall in love. Think of it, even when Mr Darcy (Pride & Prejudice) was being just plain rude, we all cared what would happen next. That’s because he was realistic, as was Lizzy, and we wanted them to have a satisfactory outcome despite the fact that they didn’t exist.

Realistic characters are the bread and butter of your novel. So how do you make them realistic enough to step off the page? Let’s take a look.

Hotseat Them

Ah, one of my all-time favourite things to do with a character. Hot seating a character means asking them a series of questions that reveal them as a person. Sometimes it can create an entirely new and surprising direction that you hadn’t even thought of! For questions to ask your character, take a look at the two free books you get when you subscribe to my newsletter. You can also look up Proust’s questionnaire, which is full of fabulous and profound questions.

Pull from real life 

While it’s not recommended to write about your ex precisely as they are, that’s not to say that you shouldn’t pull from real life and real people you have known, in your creative work. Using characters from our own world can add a natural flair to a novel, and no one needs to know where you came up with the idea…

Give them flaws, quirks, and strengths 

People are complicated, and no one is wholly good. Your characters should have strengths, yes, but they should also be flawed, with individual quirks. Think about Batman for a moment – why is that character so interesting? It’s because of his flaws. He wasn’t born with the strength of a superhero; he created that reality for himself. He is also selfish, complicated and challenging to know. This kind of character pulls your reader in – they want to read more because they are intrigued by the person.

Create their motivation

What motivates your character? Everyone is motivated by something, and that motivation should be legitimate. Even a baddy should be a baddy for a reason. Take Scrooge (A Christmas Carol), for example, and his story. We know that he behaves the way he does because of his childhood. The things that happened in his life when he was young taught him to put too high a value on money, and because of that, he loses what is really important in his adult life.

Give them their own dialogue and mannerisms 

Even two people from the same place and era speak differently, and even identical twins have individual mannerisms. Show the reader how your character is different through action tags, dialogue, and movement.

Develop them as the novel continues 

No one remains the same throughout a time period, and even those determined to may become more entrenched in their points of view. Develop your character throughout the plot, and show that the actions around them impact who they are as a person. You can learn more about this in my novel writing masterclass, where I teach plotting, character arcs, and characterisation.

What else do you think a realistic character includes? Let me know! 

Looking for more information on the craft of writing? Check out this page here!


How to Find the Time to Write

Are you ready to find the time to write? It can be overwhelming when we look at our week sometimes, and see just how busy we are. When I was doing my full-time PhD, alongside working two jobs, I was really feeling the pressure. Then, I developed a way to move forward and find the time in my week. Here’s how I did it writer, read on to find out more!

Pinpoint Your Time Wasters

We all waste time in our week, and that’s fine. 

After all, life is not just a series of work tasks to be completed – sometimes there is pleasure to be had in sitting on the sofa, switching on the television, and delighting in a little bit of time wasting.

But when this fun time wasting turns into a daily habit, it often stops becoming enjoyable and can turn into a negative practice.

The first step of building your writing habit is to pinpoint those time wasters in your week. How much time do you spend mindlessly scrolling, for example?

Once you understand what tasks fill up your week and which ones you feel you can do without, you can start understanding where space exists for your writing.

Weekly Goals over Daily Goals

Setting daily goals can often be an inflexible way of planning, meaning no space for movement. 

This, in turn, can lead to stress – after all, inflexibility in a routine means that the pattern is most likely not sustainable.

Instead, weekly goals can help you achieve your writing ambitions.

Ask yourself what you would like to achieve this time next month, and then break down your goal into weekly easy to digest chunks.

For example, now you know that you would like to have written ten thousand words in one month, how will that fit into each week?

Your Creative Data

Last week I shared with you a blog post all about your Creative Data! If you missed it, head to the website to take a look now. 

Well, it’s the time it takes you to write. Check out this blog post for more information!

Next time you write, keep an eye on the clock and check how many words it takes you to write in one hour. Don’t race or hurry yourself along, because this is not realistic. Your data should be honest in order to work for you.

Once you know how many words you can write in one hour, you can understand how many words you can fit into a week on a typical day.

Overestimate Your Time

You might be able to write five hundred words in fifteen minutes on a good day when the work is planned, the sun is shining, and the house is quiet – but how many words can you write realistically in one hour?

For example, I write ninety words a minute, but it can be more like ten words a minute when writing creatively. My personal best is 714 words in fifteen minutes…but on some days, it takes me two hours to write 1000 words!

Overestimating how long it will take based on my creative data ensures a space in my calendar for the actual amount of words I’d like to get written.

Plan Flexibility

We can balance our writing routines by ensuring that there is space for some movement and flexibility.

For example, time blocking back to back and squeezing writing in where we can is one thing, but leaving small gaps in between tasks in the day will mean that there is movement for something to change.

This also means ensuring that if one writing session is missed, another one won’t be too hard to find.

For example, I don’t usually write on the weekend unless I miss a session in the week. That option means that my writing routine doesn’t get thrown out if life throws a spanner into my washing machine.

Build a Habit

It takes three weeks to build a habit into your life and three weeks to lose one. So, once you have your writing routine ready, try it for at least three weeks to give it a shot.

Building a habit requires the following:

Cue – An alert to remind you the habit is about to start.

Craving – Imagining the action. Inspire yourself by thinking of how wonderful it will be to write, how it will feel to have the finished product.

Response – The act of writing.

Reward – The incentive to write, whether it’s a cup of tea, an hour of your favourite show, or a pat on the back.

So, once you know what your time wasters are, you have set yourself your weekly goals based on your creativity data. You’ve overestimated your time and ensured that you have flexibility in your week. It’s time to start this writing habit by setting alerts into your calendar.

Once the alarm goes off, don’t ignore it; pay attention and imagine the action of writing. See yourself completing the task.

Hold Yourself Accountable 

Use rewards, be clear and realistic in your planning, and set yourself up for success!

If you struggle with holding yourself to account, it might be a good idea to find an accountability partner who can support you.

This is precisely where a writing coach comes in useful! Through my work with my clients, I hold them accountable to action points they set themselves and investigate any issues that stop them from achieving.

Complete these seven steps and see how your writing routine grows beneath you – try it out for three weeks, and you’ll have a word count to be proud of.

Found this post helpful?

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Coaching Productivity

How Understanding Your Creative Data Can Lead to Literary Success

Before we move onto how it can help us reach literary success, what is Creative Data? You may not know, and that’s okay because it can mean different things to different people.

I developed this idea after learning the concept of ‘data over emotion’ when it comes to marketing. This means paying attention to what is working for your audience, as opposed to posting based on emotion and moment. I thought that this was interesting and wondered what the writing equivalent would be. So, Creative Data, after some analysis, was developed.

Creative Data can be broken down into the following elements:

1) When you feel you are at your most creative.
2) How much you can write during a typical hour on a typical day. 

Armed with this information, you are able to make a decision based on data over emotion. For example, when we say ‘I don’t have the time to write,’ this is often an emotional response to feeling busy and overwhelmed. This is perfectly valid too, by the way, and if this is the case, it might be that you need some rest. But, if you want to get some writing done, Creative Data can help. It enables us to look at our diaries and calendars and say, ‘Okay, I do have the time to write, and I can see that I can get around 1000 words down on Wednesday.’

So, how can understanding our Creative Data lead us to literary success? 

Great question. Knowing that we are most productive at a particular time of day is the first step to moving forward with a routine that works for us. If we add this to understanding how much we can write in one hour, we are left with information that can really help us move forward with our novels.

During National Novel Writing Month (November), the name of the game is to prioritise our novels for one month. That’s fantastic, and a lot of people get a lot written during that time. But in an average month, it can be a recipe for burnout to push for 50,000 words during those four weeks. That’s why Creative Data can help both plotters, pantsers and plantsers! Here’s an example of my Creative Data:

1) I write best in the morning, after a cup of coffee when the house is quiet.
2) I can write around 2,000 words in one hour.
3) I know I have a tendency to be distracted by the internet, so I set a stopwatch while I’m writing to keep me on track. 

Armed with this knowledge, I am able to look at my week objectively. Because I time block, I can slot in an hour two/three times a week for writing, and I know that this will yield around 4,000-6000 words. Therefore, I can set realistic writing deadlines that I can stick to, leading me to literary success.

So, what is your Creative Data?

Looking for a similar read? Check out the Productivity page of my blog posts! There’s lots to see.


4 Time Blocking Tips for Writers

If you’re finding it hard to write, time blocking can help. I’ve spoken about this before because it changed everything for me. It enabled me to write novels, complete my PhD, have a family life while working two jobs. Now, it helps me write, edit, coach, and have fun.

What is time blocking? 

Time blocking is the act of putting aside a chunk of time for one task only. It is a productivity technique that combines the function of a calendar with a to-do list.

Here are four tips to help you time block your way to writing success:

Focus On the Big Stuff First

Eat the frog. Have you ever heard that phrase? It means that you should focus on the big thing first in your day and get it out of the way. This action will yield the best results, and it can even limit procrastination. By just getting that thing done that you don’t want to do, you will find the rest of the day is easier to tackle.

Task Batch

Batching together similar tasks means that you will limit time wasted by moving between different levels of focus. For example, answering emails or making phone calls requires a different level of focus than writing a chapter of your novel. If you take a small break from writing your chapter to send an email, it’s going to take you around ten minutes to re-focus on that email. Then, you will find yourself having to re-focus again as you head back to the creative work. Instead, batch together email time and focus only on that until the task is complete. Add other tasks that are similar to this time so that you can concentrate fully. Giving your laser beam focus to one type of task will get it done more quickly, will limit distractions and result in a higher quality of work.

Take imperfect action

By imposing time limits on yourself and your tasks, you are limiting that neverending process of perfection. Perfection does not exist, and taking imperfect action can really get us ahead. For example, if you are recording a reel for your author Instagram and you make a small error, ask yourself whether anyone will notice? They probably won’t, and they know that you are a human being. If you stumble over a word on a Reel, it’s okay to press send. People might just be more endeared to you for it, and it’s another task ticked off your list.

Give Yourself a Break

Time blocking within a rigid structure that has no space for the outside world is not the answer to a happy and productive life. Stuff will sometimes come up that you have to deal with, and that is okay! Your plan is a guide for your day to help you succeed, and if you need to move something to next week, that’s alright. Give yourself a break; life happens.

Have you tried time blocking before? If you want to learn more, check out this free class on my Novel Writing Masterclass – it introduces you to it! If you want to dig deeper, this course is for you. It takes you through the process of time blocking and helps you develop your novel from idea to publication.

Want to talk to me about coming up with your own time blocked writing routine? Get in touch today. I would love to help you discover the time you have in your writing week. 

Are you looking for a similar read? Check these out.

The Time Blocking Tools That Can Help You Write Your Novel
Tips & Tricks for Dealing with Procrastination 


3 Ways to Get Ready for Your Writing Year (2022)

Is it too soon to talk about next year? Absolutely not. If we wait until 2022 to talk about 2022, we won’t know how to get prepped! For me, 2022 is the year of significant change. Physically, I will be moving back to the UK from New Zealand – so that’s quite a big move in itself. But also, I’m excited to continue writing my companion novel, The Dedworth Shame, and hope to push The Birth of Ida out into the world!

So, what are your plans for 2022? Is it going to be a year of writing? If so, here are three ways to get ready. 

1 – Put 1st January in your calendar (it’ll already be there – but highlight it!)

I have something glorious to offer you in the New Year, and that is The Ultimate Writer’s Planning Workbook. This workbook is sixty pages and will take you through the process of planning your entire writing year. How does that sound? Pretty good to me! It’s going to be available from 1st January to 15th January, and I cannot wait to share it with you.

It’s also going to be added to It’s Time to Write Your Novel, my novel writing masterclass. Together, these two things are going to be the answer to how to write a novel in the new year.

2 – Get a new diary. 

I have purchased two new diaries for the new year – The Year of Growth and The Daily Planner from DreamyMoons. It’s important to me to have something practical and beautiful because the desire to continue planning and prepping my writing schedule is fundamental. We all know that there are days when writing and planning become a challenge, but by having something you cannot wait to use, you are more likely to embrace the action.

3 – Consider your big goals. 

What do you want to achieve in 2022? Take some time to think about this and figure it out, and once you know, write it down. A dream written down is a goal, after all. Try to be realistic with your goals so that you don’t get overwhelmed. Personally, so that I limit overwhelm, I like to write down plans for the next five years. That way, I know that if one year is packed to the brim, and I won’t quite be able to achieve everything I have set out to, I can prioritise one goal for the following year. That’s absolutely fine, and life is not a race.

Are you ready to set your goals for the new year? If you need a hand with this or feel overwhelmed at the prospect, get in touch today. I would love to help. 

Want to read something similar? Check out the following:

3 Things I Did to Level Up My Writing Game
How to Set Effective Writing Goals


The Top 5 Things I Learned from Working with an Editor

Yes, editors do hire editors, and that includes me. I have learned a lot from working with an editor. When it comes to your own work, you are often so involved that you often need someone else to read it before you send it out to readers. That can come in many forms – it might be that you’re looking for a beta reader (someone who reads your touched up manuscript), an alpha reader (someone who reads your rough draft), or you may decide to go for an editor for a more in-depth analysis. Here are five things I learned from hiring an editor.

1) They can help you see your own work clearly. 

It isn’t easy to see your work when you’re so close to it. When I recently sent my first five chapters to an editor, I took out a prologue before I sent it. This was for a few different reasons, but I was so familiar with the world that I had created that I didn’t realise the prologue missing would cause many issues. Ummm…I was wrong! Some important world-building was in that prologue, and so by removing it before sending, I made my editor say…’Where is this exactly?’ An interesting lesson! The world-building throughout the rest of my novel is tight, so I’m not worried about this. Now I know that the first few chapters require more world-building and detail if I want to remove that prologue.

2) Peer review is valuable. 

It can be scary to send your work to other people, but peer review always makes it stronger. Hearing what other people think, what they expected, and how they feel about your story will allow you to make it so much better.

3) They save you time. 

Yes, although it can feel like you’ve been given more work when an editor comes back to you with a report, they are actually saving you a lot of time. They are ploughing through the manuscript for you, marking up those bits that need changing, and providing you with information that it would have taken hours to find yourself.

4) They give you ideas you may have never considered. 

We all need a fresh pair of eyes sometimes, and an editor can help you see a new direction for your work, a character, or a scene. Sometimes, it’s even something that you may have never considered before.

5) They can spot inconsistencies you cannot. 

As we are so close to our stories, we can miss inconsistencies or repeated details. After all, we know the world so well, so when this isn’t communicated to the reader well enough, it won’t always be easy to spot. An editor can help you see those issues, including other common occurrences such as repetitive words and phrases.

What have you learned from hiring editors? Share with me because I would love to know! 

If you are looking for an editor, get in touch today. I would love to help you polish up your work and make it shine, and I am currently booking from Spring 2022.

If you are looking for a similar read, check out the following:

4 Ways to Edit Your Own Writing
Online Writing Tools That Can Help You Write Your Novel


The Top 5 Things I Learned from Working with a Coach

Yes, I am a writing coach, so of course, I could tell you what you could gain from working with me…but I’ve already done that! (See the following blog posts – What Is A Writing Coach & Writing Coach vs Editor: What’s the Difference?)

So, today I thought I would tell you what I’ve learned from working with a coach myself.

I’ve repeatedly said that coaches should be coached, and there is a reason for this. To help others, you should be actively helping yourself. This means that you work on your mindset, are consistently learning about your practice, and putting yourself in the shoes of a client.

I am part of a beautiful coaching community for small business owners and have a personal coach. I have also recently hired a coach to help me with marketing specifically. There are so many coaches that specialise in specific niches now, just like my niche of writing, and it is wonderful to be able to work with experts.

So, here’s what I have learned through being coached.

1) Having space held for you can change everything. 

It’s not every day that you can expect someone to give you their full attention, and that’s fair enough. But, when they do, amazing things can happen. Coaching is a wonderful experience, and it’s partly because of this. Having someone hold that space for you, listen to what you are saying without interruption, and ask you the right questions can help you reveal solutions that you didn’t even realise existed. A coach listens to what you are saying without judgement, in a safe space. This alone has helped me become a better, happier, and more fulfilled person.

2) Coaching can build on success, not just solve problems. 

Did you know that coaching isn’t just for specific problems? Nope, coaching is also to build on success. For example, you don’t have to be struggling with a writing routine or draft to hire a writing coach; you can also be having the most prolific writing period of your life and want it to continue. You could be finding yourself motivated every day to create and want to investigate the set of circumstances that led you there so that you can keep being your best self.

Coaching to build on success is a great way to invest in yourself. It’s saying, ‘Hey, things are going great, and long may they continue. In fact, I’ll make sure they do.’

This is the reason I continue to invest in a coaching programme; because I want to continue building on the success that I have found with them.

3) Having someone rooting for you can hold you accountable. 

It’s not the deadlines given by a coach that hold me accountable; it’s the fact that they are rooting for me personally. Coaching is a professional relationship with a difference – you have someone on your team, and they believe in you and your progress. The thought of sharing my achieved tasks with my coach makes me happy because I’m excited to move forward with them in our next session, not because I’m afraid of missing a deadline.

4) Positive change starts with you.

You only have a coach for an hour or so a week or even a month, depending on what you opt for. Outside of this time, it’s down to the client to make what has been discussed work for them. I spend a good few hours a week working on my actions points and planning for my coaching sessions. I like to mix it up, too, like climbing a hill on the treadmill while catching up on a pre-recorded Zoom meeting. Whatever it is, I make sure that I take responsibility for that positive change in my life outside of my coaching sessions.  Coaching gives me the action points to work from, but the action comes from me.

5) Investing in yourself is about much more than money. 

When you give yourself the opportunity of time, education, and accountability, investing in yourself becomes about more than money. It becomes about believing in yourself and setting you up for success. I made a private video at the start of this year, at the suggestion of my coach. It was just me, talking about where I currently was in my business, life, and expectations. Well, the other day, I finally looked back on it ten months later. It was amazing to see the growth of those months. I know that coaching helped me get there, and I am so grateful for that reminder of how far I have come.

So, have you ever been coached, and if so, what did you learn? I would love to know, so share it with me today