I started a bucket list toward the end of Primary School and have added to it ever since. It began with a fascination with Egypt and so by the time I got to see the River Nile with a pyramid in the background - aged 28 - I sobbed with awe. Much the same happened when I found myself dwarfed by the Sydney Opera House - hailing from the UK, Australia seemed like another planet and there I was, 2 hours off my flight, in front of this amazing icon.
It wasn't just things to see and places to go though, it was things to do. What would it feel like to jump out of a plane? Could I ski down a steep mountain? Surely floating in the Dead Sea can't be true...and soon enough I was flying off bridges with a bungee around my ankle in Queenstown and paragliding over the Map of Africa. But then I got married, had a family, and the bucket list got forgotten for a while.
Now in my 47th year, I've decided that was a shame. Bucket lists give you a goal, and they keep you experiencing things you may put into books or characters you're writing about. Let's face it, you can never travel enough in case you find a perfect location for the next novel. So on my last writer's retreat I finally found myself hanging 2,000 meters from the ground - abseiling, and I'm now training for an Olympic length triathlon in November. Not only is it great material for books (even just the emotion of things if you can't put the experience into a book or character), but it's made me feel like I'm in my twenties again.
Of course bucket lists don't have to be heart-stopping activities - seeing the Pope at the Vatican City was awesome, meeting a famous author, learning to knit, riding a bike down the coast - they all count.
And of course, getting a novel published has been on my bucket list for a very long time and happily I'm able to tick that off now, with The Harper Effect being published in December 2017 by Pan Macmillan.
Go on - start a bucket list and get planning - for the sake of your writing and for the feeling of living life to the fullest. Yup - that's me in the photo, having just finished the open water swim in Moreton Bay (just a half Olympic triathlon, but training is going well). The Olympic Length tri takes place on 5th November in Noosa. 1500m open water swim, 40km on the bike, and a 10km run. Wish me luck!
And I'd love to know - comment below - what's on the top of your bucket list?