It’s that time of the year when we all set ourselves unrealistic goals in the hope we will be thinner, richer, nicer, happier people by the end of the month. I don’t usually set resolutions, as I hate the six-week period when everyone smugly lets you know they are on a vegan diet or giving up alcohol. Then for two more weeks, you have to listen to how many calories are in your sandwich compared to their cabbage soup or how they don’t think about alcohol at all. Not even a bit. They haven’t even thought about a beer once, while you try to remember if they ever mentioned alcohol at ten in the morning before they gave up.
Then “Blue Monday” rolls around and every media outlet in the world tells us we are experiencing the most depressing day of the year. They bang on about it so much that inevitably we give up on being a slim, teetotal vegan version of ourselves and scoff a kebab while necking a beer.
So that’s why I’ve steered clear of the New Year, New Me vibe for so long. However this year, I decided I would set some goals, but I don’t want to be thinner, richer or nicer. Instead I’ve decided to set some writing resolutions for myself.
Establish a Writing Routine
I must admit I’m pretty poor at setting myself goals to write. I have no end of excuses ready at hand to use to deal writing. Especially if I know I have a day free to write on the horizon. Here and now, I resolve to write a minimum of 500 words per day.
Get Out of My Comfort Zone
My reading habits leave a lot to be desired since my kids came along. I’ve stuck rigidly to the genres and time periods I know I’ll enjoy reading as I don’t have the capacity to hold fantasy lands in my head. For 2021, I promise every other book I read will be outside the historical fiction genre. Also I’m going to have a creative date at least once a month. What’s a creative date you ask? Is it telling someone you met online that you are ten years younger than you are? No. It’s a trip to somewhere to get the creative juices flowing. An art gallery or museum. Somewhere to generate a few thoughts. Even if it means taking a virtual tour of an art gallery on Google Arts and Culture.
Take More Walks
A writer’s life is a sedentary one. I can easily spend nine hours sitting for work, then write for two or three hours. That’s a lot of immobile time. Last year I was having problems writing a poem for writing class, so I took a walk. The rhythm of walk helped me with the iambic pentameter and I was able to finish the poem. I always find I have the best ideas on walks, but never set aside time to take them. Well, no longer. I will take at least a 30 minute walk every work day.
Develop My Voice
I swing between what I want to be writing and what I think I should be writing. As a person, I’m very jokey and not very serious. My writing doesn’t always express my personality. I need to take a step back and look at how I am expressing myself. People have told me I have little quirks to my writing, expressions that others don’t come up with. During my designated writing time, I will nurture my writing oddities by practising short-form fiction and poetry.
Practise the Art of the Short Story & Flash Fiction
I’m not great at short stories. If anyone has any advice on this, please let me know. I start with a short story plot, then start to think about the character and I create an intricate backstory for them. The backstory becomes so detailed a trilogy couldn’t hold the whole story. Flash fiction I have a completely different issue, I strip it back until there is no real story. For 2021, I will use writing prompts to complete at least one piece of flash fiction and a short story per month.
Share More on My Blog
When I kicked off this new site, I thought I would write often and with ease. While I found no end of inspiration to write about, I couldn’t find the enthusiasm for it. It was easier to numb my mind with the latest show to drop on to Netflix after a long day alternating the roles of cog in the corporate machine, writer and parent. I’m committing to a post a fortnight, that way I can play the piece out instead of rushing it out at the breakfast table while my kids doodle beside me.
Be a Little Less Social on Social Media
This is a big one for me. I have Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts. Two Twitter accounts actually. It’s a lot to deal with. Time to consume social media in snack-sized bites of time. For 2021, I’m hoping to limit all three to ten minutes in the morning, half an hour at lunch and half an hour after dinner. That’s probably going to be my hardest task.
Start the Edit Process on My First Draft
To say I’ve been putting this off is an understatement. I know my second draft is going to be more of a re-write than an edit so I’ve been waiting for a magical point in time when I will be emotionally and physically ready to deal with it. In the words of the tragically wise Lemony Snicket, ‘if we wait until we are ready, we’ll be waiting for the rest of our lives.’ The rewrite starts today. *rolls up sleeves*
Learn More about Writing
If the internet had seams, they would be bursting with the amount of online writer’s courses available. All of the courses, whether they are vaguely titled or weirdly specific to one niche of writing, have lots of little hints and tips to help with this fiction malarkey. Anything which saves me time is welcomed in my book. I have bookmarked or signed up for courses on pretty much every writing site going, but failed to complete them. Not this year, I will complete my backlist and, where appropriate, share my thoughts on them with you lucky people.